Friday, January 31, 2014

The Three Musicians Unbalanced

For this challenge I decided that I would have a bit of fun playing on the work of Picasso, no less!
The Three Musicians is a painting which delights me in a number of ways including it's wonderful balance of warm and cool colours. In this quilt I attempted to proportion warm and cool in the same manner.
The quilt was made in a very free-form style. I had a wonderful time putting it together all the while learning much about the painting that it is based on.

quilted by Heidi Wulfraat


I didn't have any idea right after announcing the next theme. As usual I‘ve checked “Wikipedia” for starting point. But nothing have touched my mind and again I postponed this quilt.

As most of us noticed, time runs really fast and one week ago I sat down and started looking for idea. Just one day before my husband came back from “eagle hunting” and brought me a very soft feather. It was laying on the table and caught my eye.

Any kind of balance is so frail and sometimes even such a soft and almost weightless feather can break it.

Is it Enough?

January 2014 Challenge Theme:  "Balance"

When I first thought of the challenge theme, my initial images centered around trying to balance my  everyday pressures of work, play and rest.  But, when we think about our art work, the principles of design play such a central role in the success of our piece, that balance came to mind.  I think the hardest thing when creating art is to know when to stop working on the piece and call it finished.  So, my quilt is called "Is it Enough?"

The fabric is demin.  I've used perle cotton thread for the embroidery stitches, each one being a different stitch and a variety of beads and sequins.

"Is it Enough?"

"Is it Enough?"_Detail


As soon as I read the title of our new theme many ideas came to my mind. As an ENT surgeon I often had patients with balnce disorders. On the other side, I also had to make sure that some persons I saw didn't have balance disorders. Last october I started taking yoga classes where some positions require a good balance. Yoga is also a mean to achieve a better inner balance.
I finally decided to use the tree position from yoga.
The right shape is cotton fabric fused to the background and stitched with satin stitch. The left shape is made of sheer polyester fabric and stitched also with a satin stitch and acts as a shadow to the first shape.
The quilting lines are horizontal as in perfect balancce.
I choose a light blue green background and almost tone in tone fabrics for the shapes to achieve a quiet, peaceful effect. The background is hand-quilted as I found the continious machine quilted lines to be too strong.

commercial hand-dyed cotton fabric
cotton and polyester thread
polyester batting


Sur le cou-de-pied

I started by analyzing Balance, and several ideas sprang to life, but one settled. When I was younger, classical ballet was a great part of my life. And the most important part of ballet is balance. In every movement you have to find the balance of your body.
Next, I had to find how to express this, my first thought was to use an image of my old battered shoes hanging on the wall. But they did not express much balance. But this position, "Sur le cou-de-pied", pins the body to the ground when it is in balance.
I decided to go for stenciling this time, and made two stencils out of freezer-paper, one of the feet and one of the shoes. I used acrylic paint with textile medium. Then I added shadow with Paint-sticks, quilted the shoes and filled the background with ballet-terms. I finished it all with some hand-stitching to suggest the floor.

 And some close ups:

Balancing Act

I have always been interested in the functions of the left and right sides of the brain. The left side deals with logic, analysis, sequencing and time. It is the area for speech, mathematics, science and language. It deals with the details of every aspect of life and prefers structure and orderliness.

The right side of the brain deals with emotion and the big picture. It is the area for creativity, intuition, colour, shape and pattern. It has no sense of time or true language but rather uses a visual form of communication. Its connections are more random and spontaneous rather than sequencial. It is not bound by rules or regulations but is more free-wheeling in its processes.

While working on this quilt I tried to use both halves of my brain. The left side was the leader in planning the content of the quilt. It did the research, collected images and information, looked at colour palettes and set up a time line. The right brain was then asked to present a whole, complete image based on this information. Then it was back to the left brain to develop a work sequence, techniques and approaches. The right brain stepped in whenever there was an overall design decision to be made.

Being a very left brain dominant person, it was an interesting experience trying to work in this intuitive way.

In the quilt, the left brain is represented by the background while the right brain is represented by the areas of strong colour. The concept was to have both areas work together to create a sense of balance.

Hand printed and dyed fabric, surface design, appliqué, machine quilted, hand stitched

'Bird Brained Balance'

I had this image in my mind the minute the theme was announced! I set some parameters for myself that the piece would be whimsical, using bright pinks and oranges and fresh (i.e. not overworked).
I spent some time playing with bird forms in my sketchbook and came up with the shape of the birds- I’m sure I have been influenced by children’s’ picture books, having worked as a teacher librarian for many years. John Birmingham comes to mind.
I found a graduated pink and orange graduated fabric in my stash and fused on the birds with shimmery cotton that looked like silk in cool colours. I used some pastel Kaffe Fassett design for the see-saw. Then it was a matter of fusing and thread-sketching the pieces into place. It was finished off with a swirly free-motion quilting pattern.
It would be great to make a little series of these with the brainless birds doing other things with play equipment. I think they would be a nice addition a child’s room or nursery.

Bird Brained Balance
Detail 1

Detail 2


When this theme "Balance" was announced I thought there were so many possibilities that it should not be too difficult to find a good idea to interpret the theme, but with many options to tackle, it was not so easy any longer. What to choose? The balance practice at the gym was my first thing to ponder about, building towers with lego and blocks were another one, but at the end I chosen to build something with stones. I like stones and organic forms so make something with stones were a good choice, a bit of a challenge though, to make a balanced pile of stones, perhaps impossible?
As I wanted to give the stones different textures I used a lot of different materials, which are raw appliquéd on top of a background fabric dyed with Procion MX Dye.

Materials used are: cotton fabrics, Evolon, wool, paper, Lutradur, textile paint, foil and silk, metallic and wool threads.

A balanced diet - celery and chocolate

The theme of balance has so many options. My first inspiration was to reproduce a 1930s poster of a beauty poised on a diving board. But even though I found many posters that I liked, I decided that applique was something I have used successfully many times before, so I went with a second choice. I wanted to try something more improvisational and abstract. I often admire Melody Johnson's work and  how she combines saturated colours with mixed piecing and applique, and machine and hand stitching.

I tried not to plan, sketch or be too literal. It was much harder than I imagined, but my trusty portable design wall helped me to add, take away, alter proportions etc. I felt happy when I got to the stage where the piece looked balanced whichever way up it was.

One of my aims was to use hand stitching and/or beading. I have a drawer full of threads and another of beads. I only managed to use a token amount of both. Even though I know of artists using them successfully all the time, for me they suddenly tip a work over into 'tea cosy' craftiness and away from the design elements I am more interested in.

If you look closely you can see the words Cadbury's and Celery stitched  into the quilting. Both foods
are high in antioxidants and therefore nutritionally sound!