Monday, December 22, 2014

Masterclass for quiltmakers, an online class with Elizabeth Barton

I have admired Elizabeth Barton and her quilts for many years. I have attended two of her classes at the former Quilt University and when her books "Inspired to design. Seven Steps to Successful Art Quilts" and "Visual Guide to WORKING IN A SERIES"  were published, I was not late to buy them.
When she announced that she was going to start an online Master class for Art Quilters, I immediately signed up.
The class started in January this year and now in December it is going to finish. 
Every month there was a new exercise to work with.
For example one exercise was about "Lost and Found edges". This was about to create the illusion of a place or a person, an object etc. in a limited two dimensional space. One of the most magical illusions is that of lost edges. It is magical really!
 The planning for the work was the same for every month.
1 to the 10th of the month we were asked to make a lot of sketches and then choose the 3 best.
11th  to the 20th of the month.
When Elizabeth had received all the designs she put them together into a blog with a critique for each design. She numbered them and did not use our names, so we were just Student 1, Student 2 etc. So we could feel free to be wild.
We had then ten days to block out the design we had chosen i.e. cut out the pieces in fabric and pin them together so that she clearly could see how the piece looked, but that alterations were possible.
When she had received the images she put them on a blog with critique for each one. No names.
21st to the last day of the month.
The finished quilts were published on the blog with a short evaluation, basically her overall impression and some things for everyone of us to ponder for the next piece, which was published on the first of the next month, on her blog, where she described the next exercise.
Elizabeth writes "Don´t worry if you can´t manage to do this (or any other exercise) - as long as most of you do it, we´ll have plenty of designs to look at and critique.
Reading her critiques for all the students sketches, block outs and the finished quilts have been very instructive and useful. There were lots of valuable things to learn about how to think when you make a design.
Below are two of my sketches inspired by the Swedish painter Philip von Schantz (I just made two sketches this month)

After some critique from Elizabeth I made a lot of changes and below you can se my blocked out design after Elizabeth´s valuable and honest critique.

                                         The blocked out design where you can see how the piece looked and  
                                         alterations were possible.


                                         The finished piece.

                                          Close up

The background fabric is sunprinted with different paper shapes of bottles, which acts as masks, then outlined with machine stitching with a variegated thread. On top of the background fabric a piece of white organza  is placed. 
The foreground shapes of bottles are made of organza, schrims and Lutradur  backed with fusible web and fused on top of of the two layers (background sunprinted fabric and the layer of organza). Some of the bottle shapes are then mashine quilted round their perimeter. 
Measurement 16 x 10,5 inch
This was a fabulous class and I´ve come away from it feeling much more capable and confident in my work
The Master Class blog is private but Elizabeth has a public blog and a website if you wish to check her out further.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New format for Latitude in 2015

After we had complete our second year of 15 inch squares, it seemed like time to try a different format and size.

For 2015 we will all make 4 quilts instead of 6. They will be revealed at the end of February, May, August and November.

The size will be maximum of 24 by 17 and minimum of 20 by 15 inches, but each member can choose the exact size, and orientation.

Each challenge will be a design principle or style, not a thing or an idea.

Participants will have an overall theme for the year. This could be anything that has meaning for you - and it can be as narrow or wide as you like. This theme will unify each member's body of work, but each challenge will be interpreted as we have done before.

I was interested to see a challenge using a similar overall theme idea by Mix group - see, the dates from April 27th 2014 and the previous posts.

The first challenge was set by Lyuda and is the colour Green.

I am excited to see our group evolve their work this way, which will add a level of cohesiveness to each person's work that we didn't all embrace in the previous 2 years, though some members came close.


In a few days is Christmas and though we think it should be white, here in Bavaria it is warm, the sun is shining and the first spring plants are coming. Yesterday I went for a long walk with my camera. The main colour I saw was green, in many different variations.
If there is some red in the picture, the green will sparkle.

Here is old colour from graffitis mixed with moss, it looks fantastic.
In the end I arranged all my green fotos in one big picture. Now I can look for all my green fabric scraps and a little bit red and arrange them in the same way.

I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new Year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Paper Lamination on Fabric

For my last challenge piece, 'Lettering', I was inspired to use a technique from the book  'Paper & Metal Leaf Lamination' by Claire Benn, Jane Dunnewold & Leslie Morgan. As my new pigment printer is now not working (another story), I wanted to find another way of 'printing' on fabric for the challenge. 

Going through some of my art DVD's one rainy afternoon, I watched the video that comes with this book and was immediately inspired. 

I started by printing out my selected images using a laser printer with normal copy paper. I then cut these images to the approximate size I wanted. I made sure I cut off all of the unwanted white edges, as, through my testing process, learned that you don't want to use any unwanted paper as you will only have to remove it later and may not give you the result you are looking for.

I then laid them out and played with them until I had my desired result. To make it easier to get the size I needed, I penciled a 15 x 15 inch square onto my working board and laid the images about a quarter inch over the edge. 

I then laid my piece of polyester sheer over the collage and pinned it, stretching it slightly so that it remained taut.

I painted the medium on the overlapping edges of the collage pieces first so that they wouldn't move once I put the silk screen over them, however, in the end I didn't use the screen to apply the medium, I carried on and used the brush for the whole piece as I was afraid the individual pieces would still move around. This worked out well and kept all of my pieces in place, however, the book does go through the process of using a silk or thermofax screen, both which have the advantages of laying down a smooth, even layer of medium and also pushing the medium onto the cloth more evenly. You can also use screens that have a design on them to create different effects. I guess it depends on the type of image you are using and the degree of accuracy you need from the design. 

Another thing I did was to use masking tape around the outside edges so that the medium didn't over run onto the fabric to far. This is may not be necessary, but I am still learning what works best and it gave me the result I wanted. 

I let the piece dry on the board for a while, then I peeled it off and pegged it up to completely dry. Once this was done, I heat set it using a dry iron set to a cotton setting and parchment paper between the fabric and the iron. You then plunge the whole thing into a bucket of water (!) and let it soak for at least 5 minutes, after which you rub off the paper. It took a few soakings, so don't be afraid to keep putting it back into the water and working it until you are happy.

The process itself is quite easy but really satisfying. I really loved using this technique and I am looking forward to experimenting more with it as there are so many more variations in technique that you can use.

Claire presents very well and I love watching their DVD's. Claire and Leslie also have 4 other books plus the 'Finding Your Own Visual Language' with Jane Dunnewold that Linden mentioned in her top ten book list. All are easy to understand and packed full of great techniques. I really am a big fan of their work.

Their website is:

Their book 'Screen Printing: :Layering Textiles with Colour, Textures & Images was listed on the top ten textile printing books.

I found their books on the Committed to Cloth website, Art Van Go here in the UK, Amazon, and Dharma Trading USA but there maybe others as well.

Happy creating!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Feel the Difference

This was the most difficult theme for me.
Letters are not my passion and I've never payed attention to it. But after announcing this theme I’ve looked around and noticed the multiplicity of letters’ types. Letters were everywhere! But no any idea for quilt...
What word to use? What letters? Ideas where are you?

I’m teaching basic patchwork and new student started course one week ago. Before cutting the fabrics we cut away the edges. Wow! How beautiful was lettering there! Yes, I will use fabric edges in my quilt!
But letters can be so different. I remember that I have a piece of fabric from the Soviet period. It was labels, which were used at money factory to sew on cash bags. How great was the Difference between these letters: so fancy on fabric edges and so official on labels.

Materials: commercial fabric edges.

Technique: quilt as you go.

Black and White and Read All Over

Black and White and Read All Over
While I am a self-confessed 'non-lover' of writing on quilts, there are times when, I must admit, I really - truly - admire how other people incorporate text in a way that I think is simply fabulous.

So, this latest Latitude quilts challenge - Lettering - was a huge, huge, huge challenge for me. Even the mere idea of having to use text sent me into a spin of anxiety!

My little quilt is a play on words. More specifically, on the the children's riddle:

Q: "What is black and white and read all over?"
A: "A newspaper!"

To create the design, I took the word "read" and hand wrote it in large, childish script on paper.  Each letter was then separated from the others and deconstructed, simply by cutting them in half! These pieces were shuffled around until I found a design that pleased me, and colours (black, white and red, of course) were applied.
Each piece was fused to a white background and edged with satin stitch.

Black and White and Read All Over (detail)
And the faint lettering that appears here and there in the background was printed (deliberately back to front) on fabric and appliquéd to the background. These faint exclamations are a loose reference to the gradual disappearance - sadly - of punctuation in our written (English) language.
Black and White and Read All Over (detail)
The hatched design of the quilting in the background makes reference to the columns and blocks of text found in a typical newspaper layout.

The quilt is made with cotton fabric in solid and printed fabrics, with some pre-printed using a fusing technique on 'prepared for dyeing' fabric. Rayon thread has been used for the satin stitch and quilting. The quilt measures 15" x 15".

More of my work can be seen on my blog
Deborah Wirsu

T is for Tulip

For me with this theme the challenge was not how to interpret it but which technic to use.

As I had made several journal quilts with the tulip theme in the past year including the quilt for our love theme I decided to use this flower again for the last quilt of the year and of this cycle.
I decided to use my big tulip thermofax screen and add the word tulip on the quilt. While trying to decide which technic I should use for the letters I decided that as a greeting to all the current members of our group I would write the word tulip in each of our languages (french, german, english, swedish, norwegian and russian). Since the russian language uses another alphabet than ours stamping was excluded. I decided against stitching and choose writing with a fabric pen. As I had screenprinted a golden tulip on a dark purple background and already decided to use a yellow background for the quilt I used a purple pen on the same yellow fabric than the background.

To add some more sparkle I also fused a golden metallic foil T on another purple piece of fabric.

I used a tulip stamp and gold paint on the background. The tulips were free motion quilted, then I stippled the background in between of the stamped tulips.

The yellow fabric with the words was layered on more purple fabric for contrast and I appliquéed all the pieces with a zig-zag stitch. Initially I had planed to use hand stitching for the appliqué but I finally tought that it didn't look good with the free motion quilted background.

Commercial hand dyed cotton fabric
Polyester batting
Polyester thread
Screen printing, fused metallic foil, hand writing with fabric pen
Free motion quilting
Machine raw edge appliqué 


For Galskapen heng i det grøne, og Eplet er raudt utan synd

When the challenge came, I thought this was just my thing. I love letters and writing, and often try to incorporate it in my work. So I looked through my sketchbooks for inspiration, and at once found my quote. It is from a poem by the Norwegian author Jon Fosse and in Norwegian it goes: "For galskapen heng i det grøne, og eplet er raudt utan synd". Translated to English it says something like: "For the madness is hanging in the green, and the apple is red without sinn". I had already a rough idea of how to interpret it, and for a long time, I had wanted to try to embroider lettering in the style of Lorina Bulwer. I had found somewhere on the internet a tutorial of how tom make letters like hers easy, and decided to use it this time.
What colours to use were easy to pick, I needle-turn appliqued  the apple, machine quilted the piece simple with free straight lines before I embroidered the lettering and finished it all with some simple hand-stitches. And framed it all with the colour of the apple.
Because the quote is Norwegian, as my native language is, I decided to keep both the text in the quilt and the title in Norwegian.

and a close up:

Der Hexenstieg

The Witches Trail

Gabriele Bach - Der Hexenstieg
In this quilt I wanted to try many different possibilities to use lettering. In the end I used only three, the size and my design decisions limited the number.
Der Hexenstieg - detail
Mainly I wanted to use handwriting, and that reminds me on diaries. Years ago I walked the Witches Trail  in the Harz mountains, 100 km in four days. This adventure I wanted to record in the quilt.
The handwriting gives information about the Harz mountains. Since ever Harz and witches belong together, in Walpurgisnight the witches fly to the Brocken, the highest mountain in Harz, and dance there.
The little witch I used in the quilt, leads the trail. In the big block of my quilt I appliqued the form of the Harz and embroidered the Witches Trail. The trees are typical for the Harz.

Der Hexenstieg - detail
At the light fabric on the left side I wrote the names of the main points from the trail, it is similar to the trail markers.

The main colours of the Harz are blue and green and the orange witch is just the right complement to it.

Der Hexenstieg - detail

By Hand

For this quilt I wanted to express the way we use letters to build words, then thoughts and ideas.
When we create there are always imperfections due to the very nature of making something by hand, but there is also beauty and individuality caught in those  imperfections. Using the stamps and stencils symbolises the joy of spreading those ideas to others in the form of the written word  and show the hand of the maker, or letter writer. The hand stitching and embroidery represents for me the art of the letter writer making marks to convey their thoughts, dreams and desires to others and the colours and beads capture the richness of illuminated manuscripts especially the Book of Kells which I had the pleasure of seeing several years ago.

The printed word brings news, stories, learning to our lives and has done for many years from those very first printing presses to todays computer aided machines. To capture some of that history and create my own letters I used hand cut stencils, old printing press letters and textile ink. There materials used hand dyed fabric, embroidery thread and seed beads.

It's a Sign

Since moving to Salisbury, UK, I am surrounded with beautiful medieval architecture, signage and history.

I started to take photos of street signs and old building names not long after I moved here as they were, quite simply, too good to pass up. Some of them are on gorgeous metal plates, ripened with age, others are more modern signs but with lovely names like 'Pennyfarthing St' & 'Salt Lane'. Some old building names are carved into stone or etched into metal.  

The city abounds with history and there is evidence of human settlement in the area  at Old Sarum dating back as far as 3000 BC. The Romans established Old Sarum as a military base between 43 AD and 410 AD and the present city was established in 1220 AD. I decided to use our alphabet, the Roman Alphabet, in my piece due to the Roman connection with the city  and I also wanted to convey the richness of history of the city alongside the 21st century.

Lettering and the alphabet as we know it has changed much over the centuries, as has the way it is displayed in signage. Salisbury embraces the  modern and mixes it with the new all over the city in a harmonious display linking past and present.

I came across a video by Claire Benn on paper lamination and decided to use this technique to transfer my collage of laser printed images onto sheer polyester. I then free quilted the design and used a facing to finish.

Materials Used: Laser printed images, polyester sheer, polyester thread, cotton batting and cotton backing fabric.

Amanda Sievers

'Look to the Hills'

'Look to the Hills' Linden Lancaster 2014

The title of this piece refers to the Psalm 121 (v1-8) and is about protection:

I lift my eyes to the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep……
The Lord will watch your coming and your going
Both now and forevermore.

It was my intention to use the actual text in the piece, but this did not eventuate.
This is a paper quilt with two layers. The paper fabric was made following Beryl Taylor’s method which involves laying papers onto a thin fabric substrate with watered down PVA glue in a similar way to collage. While the piece was wet I added various paints and crayons. When it was completely dry I added a piece of backing fabric and quilted it with a very sharp jeans needle using four different colour cotton threads.
I used a variety of materials including tissue, rice, pre-painted and ordinary photo copy paper with various size and type of text. To give the appearance of perspective, I put the larger text in the forgeground, meduim in the middle ground and smallest in the background.
This was a very quick and easy way to make a piece of art!

Look to the Hills crop1

Look to the Hills crop2

Look to the Hills crop3

Scandinavian Runes & Greek Letters

During my 2 years as a member of this group, this theme "Lettering" was the most challenging for me, even if I earlier had made 2 quilts containing letters, Every Day and Marks.

The idea of letting the Scandinavian runes and the Greek letters come together in a quilt come to me
as I often pass a couple of  rune stones when out walking in Sweden (Mariefred) and in Greece (Messinia) where I often pass a small "Monument" with Greek text reminding of the war.

For the Greek theme I chose to use different shapes of urns and fig leaves together with Greek lettering.
For the Scandinavian runes I just embroidered letters by hand saying, Latitude Quilts November Two Thousand Fourteen and after that 3 extra letters (X,Y and M) just in order to fill up the piece.

The Greek background fabric is a Procion dyed linen whole cloth stamped and stenciled with gold and white textile colors, discharged paste and oil paint sticks. The urns and fig leaves are machine embroidered with Metallic and Rayon threads.

The runes are hand embroidered on a piece of sturdy cotton fabric painted with a gold acrylic paint.

The main colors of blue, white and gold was chosen with the colors of the Swedish and Greek flags in mind, even if they do not exactly correspond to the true blue and yellow colors of the Swedish flag and the blue color of the Greek flag.