Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Digital Riot

As I was still waiting for all of my materials and equipment to be delivered to me here in the UK, I had very little to work with for this piece. I had, however, just bought myself a new Epson WF2530 printer with pigment ink so I thought this would be the perfect time to try printing on fabric, something I have wanted to do for sometime.

I manipulated a digital image of one of my oil paintings using Paint Shop Pro 7's various effects and filters to create a wild, colourful image. I then printed the image onto 6 x A4 pieces of fabric. Here is the original image:

I then joined the pieces together using fusible webbing and quilted the design around the shapes using blue, orange, hot pink and lime green cotton. I haven't attached the binding yet but will do once all of my equipment turns up and it will be a simple black binding (as pictured).

Materials used: Pigment printed cotton, polyester and rayon thread, fusible webbing


My first thought when I red WILD was Tiger. My next idea was the Scandinavien equivalent, lynx. But I changed my mind, and wanted to go more abstract. So I decided to revisit a theme I have played with before. In Iceland, there is a lake  filled with floating mini-icebergs from the nearby glacier. It is called Jokulsarlon, which means "glacial river lagoon". The lines, colour and texture are really fascinating. I painted some fabric in this wonderful green-blue kind of colour of the glacier, cut it up and pieced it together again, and layered it with a polyester kind of fiber, usually used in scrapboking, some of which were manipulated with heat.
I quilted it all with parallell lines and framed it with a simple black binding.

 And some close ups: 

'Wild Thing' by Linden Lancaster

Wild Thing by Linden Lancaster 2014

These extra-ordinary 'Leaf Sea Dragons' are my favourite exhibit at the Melbourne Aquarium. How can such a creature be real?
Fabric was firstly fused to the hand-dyed background, then enhanced with Inktense pencils and a little metallic paint.
I then free-motioned quilted the piece to add depth and secure the raw edges. A few Angelina threads trapped in the quilting adds a little sparkle.

'Wild Thing' detail  by Linden Lancaster 2014

Wild Shine

There are a lot of meanings for the word “wild”. What to choose? Wild nature? Stormy? Ecstatic? Or something mad?

So many possibilities and no decision...

And as usual the idea came suddenly while I was drinking coffee with chocolate. I like any kind of chocolate and get wild of it. Sometimes I forgot to through away chocolate wrappers. What if to make a quilt from it? This wrappers are usually very  shiny. I don’t like a lot of shine in quilts and what if to get crazy and make shiny quilt?

This is the result – “Wild shine”

Materials: chocolate wrappers, felt, beads.

Red Tussock

Red Tussock
Anyone who read my recent post about quilt disasters will have some insight into how this quilt came about. After a number of 'problems' I abandoned my first quilt for this theme (Wild) and began again.

The question of working out why the original quilt (which featured quite a dominant, abstracted wild animal scene), just wasn't working for me was answered to some end by a friend of mine, who suggested that, due to my current frenzied timetable of music, quilting and work commitments, perhaps I innately felt the need to create a more tranquil scene. 

Red Tussock was created totally free-form. The free-cut, pieced background uses several different fabrics, then shards of organza, which had been fused with painted fusible web, were cut freehand using a rotary cutter and arranged to create layers of depth of colour. 

Red Tussock - detail
Once the organza had been stitched into position, I added the tussock detail with machine thread sketching, using a variegated thread and several darker threads for depth. 

Red Tussock - detail
Coincidentally, the back of the quilt creates quite a pleasing image, in its own right. 

Red Tussock - back of quilt
I was a little disappointed that I was not able to satisfactorily 'bring off' my original idea, and as a result, this quilt did not benefit from the time I normally put into a design, but the making of it gave me a feeling of relaxation and freedom, which I think is just what I needed at the time. 

More of my work can be seen on my blog. http://www.deborahwirsu.com
Deborah Wirsu

Tui Trio

I chose to interpret Wild as wildlife, and the native flora and fauna of my adopted country.

A New Zealand postage stamp design inspired my subject. We have many extinct and several active volcanoes, most in the North Island. The shape of Rangitoto Island is very familiar to us, lying as it does off the East Coast of Auckland. It has the typical cone shape, but very shallow sides. You can get a ferry to the Island, and to some of the other islands, like Waiheke, which has many  boutique wineries and other local products.

When I was doing my City and Guilds, I spent some time working in my sketch book and taking photos of New Zealand flax, phormium, or its Maori name, Harakeke. In the end I found its growth was rather cluttered, and even though I made samples for its spiral seedheads, I went in another direction. But I still have a hankering to feature flax. Its flower spikes are quite tall and very attractive to nectar loving birds. Down where I live, it is mainly the bellbird, but in the north there are many tuis. Tui is also the name of a beer here, which has slogans with unlikely claims, followed by "yeah, right!". They are pretty sexist, but actually often very funny.

Generally speaking New Zealand wildlife does not have the wonderful variety and flamboyance of Australian birds and flowers. Our birds are often shy and brown, and our plants have green flowers, or subtle colours!

I chose to quilt the background first and then dye it, before adding the plants and birds.

Here is a link to the tui's song. The bellbird has a prettier song, but they seem similar.

Buchstabensalat (Letter salat)

After reading our new theme almost two months ago I tought of our garden. As we have had rain every few days at least all summer all the wild flowers and plants grew well. But at the same time summer vacations started and with the children at home all day time to work on the quilt was very spare. Two weeks ago school began. My oldest is in second grade and in the first days at school the children revisited what they had learned last year.

I had used some letter stencils recently in an online class with Ineke Berlyn with ink sprays. With the beginning of the new school year I decided to use the again for my new quilt.
Instead of sprayed ink I worked with paintsticks. I used the stencils in several layers and with several paintstick colours. I never covered the whole stencil but always only parts to add to the wild impression. The final layer is made of single letters. Put together in order they spell my name.

The quilting lines were added at random like pencil lines across a piece of paper. Instead of clean binded edges I cut them with a pinky rotary cutter and left them raw.

Fabric: commercial and dyed cotton sateen fabric by Heide Stoll-Weber
Thread: cotton
Batting: polyester
Stenciled paintsticks


Wild Scraps

Gabriele Bach - Wild Scraps 

Wild Scraps - detail
When I read the theme for this challenge, I thought, I just have made a real wild quilt. "Backside Mystery", my quilt for the last challenge, is wild.
Ok, this is a new challenge, there are waiting more "wild" ideas. See also my post "TOO MUCH" .
I have a box full of little fabric scraps, which I can't throw away. I often try to use them but it is very difficult. They are a wild mixture of colour, pattern and style. Now their chance had come. I looked for dark red scraps and used them just in the size they were. With some trying I got a pleasing design. Again the seam allowances are on the right side and the thread ends are not hided, but short cut. 
I embellished the quilt with little red feltballs and when I embroidered very much beads. Sometimes I throw a lot of beads on my quilts and then I don't have the heart to embroider them. I fear it may be to much. This time I did the opposite and got wild with embroidering beads. I just set a space, there the beads should be.

The background is self dyed cotton.

Wild about quilting

 When the theme "wild" came up my first thought was that now I will go wild with quilting. My last pieces "Roots" and "Spaced Bottles" were not quilted as much as they probably should have been, so this time I wanted to focus on dense quilting. As that was my focus I thought that an abstract design would be a great choice for this activity. I like curvy lines so I made some value sketches with lots of swiping curvy lines to resemble some kind of pods.  Even if I have not got wild with colors, there are a great range of values of pink and grey. Fabric used are cottons and the piece is fused. The piece has  a narrow binding.

Lables. Ann-Mari  Franzen, dense quilting, cotton fused  hand dyed fabrics, Rayon threads, Wild with quilting

Here Be Dragons

Wild was a great opportunity to conciously explore abstract design and then colour it using all the colours of the rainbow, paying attention to Design Principals. 
It started well, three sheets of paper, black, white and grey were cut freehand using an 80/20 proportion of curved to straight lines. That was hard, the ratio went off but never mind, it's freehand.
Some of these pieces were then arranged and pasted on an A4 sheet of white paper: Good design, good balance of value. It's still abstract and my brain is creating shapes, a boat on a surging storm wave! Rearrange them to a square format and it looks even better. I really am being quite wild in staying on track.
 Here is where it all took on a life of it's own, no wild colour, crazy quilting, beading or metallic threads. At this point the complimentary colour scheme, restrained quilting, beading and metallic threads insisted on their presence, Here on the edge of design Be Dragons.

Techniques: Appliqué, beading, metallic threads, machine and hand quilting, commercial and hand dyed cottons

Monday, September 22, 2014

When quilt disaster strikes!

I'm sure we've all experienced times when not everything goes according to plan with our quilting. Disasters can occur unexpectedly, while at other times you just 'know' something is not 'right' with your quilt.
Over the past week or so, I've experienced several disasters!

Here is my story of a challenge quilt, a deadline and fatigue...

As members of the Latitude quilt group, we create a small quilt every two months, to a set theme. Usually, I'm reasonably organised and don't leave things until the last few weeks, but this time, many and varied work commitments have kept me from getting to grips with the current challenge.

A large part of the problem is simply that I've been too busy! My 'other' work as a musician, playing the viola, has involved me in an intensely busy period of orchestral concerts, opera performances and chamber orchestra rehearsals, resulting in being out almost every night for four or five weeks - on top of my sewing and other work commitments!
Abandoned quilt! (detail)
With the deadline looming, I got started a couple of weeks ago - painting, appliquéing, stitching. But the more I did to that little quilt, the more I felt there was something wrong - something not sitting comfortably. I did not like what I was making!

Quilt UFOs
So a few days ago, I abandoned this quilt to the UFO pile and resolved to make another - with 10 days and little time to make it! I had a design plan in my head that I thought I could get together reasonably quickly, so, just yesterday, got started.

Gathering fabrics, fusible web, wadding, threads, etc, I began by piecing together a section for the background. An hour or so later this, too, had joined the UFO pile. It just wasn't my style. Oh dear! 
Not my style!
Another pieced background later, I was ready to begin collaging my design, using painted fusible web and a range of organzas. One of the challenges that arises when creating a quilt while extremely tired, is how to avoid mistakes and problems. And this I did NOT manage to do!

Organza and painted fusible web
So what went wrong? Well, everything that I caution others against doing! 
  • Managed to get fusible web glue on both my iron and ironing board cover
  • Tried to fuse painted fusible web upside down, with the result that it stuck to baking paper that was, by this time, protecting the iron
  • Succeeded in fusing paper to my quilt, which I then had to painstakingly sponge off with water
  • Melted organza while trying to attach painted fusible web
  • Cut some of the organza pieces the wrong was around, so had to cut them again
By this stage, I was nearly going crazy, but was also reasonably happy (or was it hysteria?) with the way the design was coming together. Next, began the stitching and - so far - this is moving along problem free - Hooray!

Disasters. We all have them, but I really don't think I could handle any more this week!

Will I get this quilt finished in time? 
I believe I will, indeed!

What have I learned?

Quilting and fatigue do not mix! 

Happy days!! - Deborah
More of my work can be seen on my blog.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hilma af Klint 1862 -1944
In August Elizabeth Barton wrote in her newsletter (Art and Quilts, cogitations thereon) about why female artists are little known.

Below you can see an extract from this newsletter.

"There are many reasons why female artists are little known. In her book Woman, Art and Society, Whitney Chadwick explores several centuries of female artists. Even though excellent woman painters have always existed, academies, such as the Royal Academy in England, preferred to relegate them to the subjects of paintings, rather than the makers of paintings. Art history books, museum collections, auction prices etc. all are evidence of a complete and utter lack of respect for work by women. Alas, the lack of recognition was widespread : not just in art, but politics, religion - even sport - though that is certainly beginning to improve as people realize that intelligence and elegance are at least the equal of power and aggression.........
So whenever you research art ....whatever the era: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, the Victorian paintings, modern and abstract art, post modern art into the present day - look for Women!!
Their work is strong, it´s tender, it´s fresh, it´s waiting to be discovered. Let´s create a demand for it! And I´m still waiting for women to rule the world!"

Elizabeth Barton. Aug.20.2014

Last year there was a big exhibition at The Modern Museum in Stockholm which exhibited lots of paintings and drawings by a Swedish female painter,
Hilma af Klint, so much before here time, a Pioneer of Abstract Art.  In her will she stated that her collection of paintings and drawings should not be exhibited/shown until 20 years after her death.

I would like to share with you a video about this remarkable female painter, Hilma af Klint, which 20 years after her death has been discovered.
So just click the link below and look for the video that can be seen there and enjoy!


and below is an article published in New York Times about Hilma-af-Klint.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Life in Salisbury

Moving recently to the medieval city of Salisbury, located in the county of Wiltshire, United Kingdom has been extraordinary. The city is home to the Salisbury Cathedral which boasts the tallest spire in the country, the world's oldest working clock and the best surviving copy (one of four) of the Magna Carta. The cathedral is over 755 years old and appears in several of John Constable's landscape paintings.

Salisbury also enjoys a strong artistic community with numerous galleries and an art's centre in the city centre and many, many artist studios within the county covering everything from textiles to ceramics, jewellery, painting, sculpting, metal and woodwork. I have yet to find quilters but I am relentlessly continuing my search. This weekend was the first Contemporary Craft & Heritage Fayre held within the Cathedral grounds. I dragged my husband along and we enjoyed several dozen artist's work, as well as demonstrations, talks and of course, afternoon tea. He actually had a good time!

It certainly got the creative juices flowing! Unfortunately, I don't have my sewing machine back from getting it's service yet (the first thing I did when I arrived) but I did bring a few materials with me in my suitcase (everything else was sent by sea freight and not arriving until the end of the month - patience, my dear, patience) so I can still do a few things by hand. At the Fayre, there were several felt artists producing amazing work using both the needle and wet felting methods, so I was able to extend my rather limited knowledge of the craft. I was so impressed, I signed up for a 10 week course here at the Salisbury Art Centre starting later this month!

One of the felt artists, Rose Hatcher, produces exquisite wall panels using the wet felting technique. You can check out her gallery at: rosehatcher.co.uk and the local artist who I am doing the course with is: www.suziegutteridge.com, also producing wonderful work.

Having moved from a large studio space in Thailand, I will no doubt find it challenging working in a smaller space here in Salisbury, however, I feel it may make me work in a more organised, tidy way...or then again, who am I kidding, probably not! We shall have to see how that idea pans out. It will no doubt encourage me to be more inventive with the smaller space I have, or encourage us (or rather, me) to find a larger place to live. Anyway, I am enjoying exploring this new place and meeting all of its many wonderfully creative people...and please, hurry up with my machine!

Until next time, stay happy and stay creative :)
Amanda Sievers

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


By Gabriele Bach

Linden wrote a fine article on this blog about inspiration and Deborah a very interesting about clean working space. In both I am interested and for me they belong together. Often I gather or buy things for special ideas. Beside time I have TOO MUCH from every other item:

- too much ideas
- too much techniques I would like to try
- too much fabric
- too much other material like threads, yarns, beads, colours etc.

I always have a lot of ideas. One difficulty is to decide which one I will realize. Another is, when I am doing a big and/or time-consuming quilt I don't want to be distracted by other inspiritations. Using a sketchbook doesn't help. It needs time too and I will end up with so many ideas I never could realize in my lifetime. And it is frustrating to see over the time how old some good designs are and still not done.

For my quilt "Backside Mystery" from the last challenge "Under the Surface" I first gathered some red fabric scraps. They are still laying on my working table, I like the view and maybe I will use them for the next challenge.

At the same time a friend and I dyed fabrics. After washing, drying and packing away all the fabrics, the gathered loose threads look pretty and they too could be used for the next challenge.

Otherwise I want to use red felted balls. I bought them many years ago and embroidered with beads they look awesome.

Near the felted balls lay silk cocoons, some I had bought and some I had dyed. They also would be great for a little quilt.

Mixing everything in one quilt is too chaotic, even if our next challenge has the theme "Wild".

All of these ideas will give me much stuff for the next challenges. Only that I will see enough new things and get other ideas. In two weeks I will visit the European Patchwork Meeting in Val d'Argent http://www.patchwork-europe.com/. There I will see so many extraordinary quilts that all my own ideas seem to be boring. Besides all my good intentions I will come back with some stuff, one or two books, very many fotos and a lot of new ideas.