Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Art Quilts Around The World Facebook Group Challenge: Kitsch

 My Facebook art quilt group "Art Quilts Around The World" has it's current challenge reveal today. It was my turn to select the topic and I chose "Kitsch!" This group has a Facebook group page and a few of the members seemed to have trouble with this one!! I LOVE kitsch and discovered the actual word in 2005 when I bought a book called Kitschy Christmas. I have been doing kitschy dress and decorating for years but had no idea there was a name for it. Kitsch is a description of styling things with excess, tacky on purpose, a busyness of prints/objects or over cutesie. Examples of kitschy are cute kittens, troll dolls, garden gnomes or pink flamingos and over sequined/rhinestoned garments/jewelry/quilts. I love to push the limit in the way I dress and wear things a bit "off" the norm to test people. I put a small amount of kitsch in many of my projects so this was a fun and easy project for me!! On Facebook I found a page called Kitschy Living which provides lots of ideas and plenty of laughs!
 I love cat eye glasses and have a board of such on Pinterest. I found a pin of a pair of glasses with an excessive amount of flowers and rhinestones and knew this was my topic for this challenge. I also love large amounts of plastic fruit and have some beads in bright colors but could not finds them when I was making this project. I did find them recently and will use them in another project a la Carmen Miranda! I then selected a rainbow color scheme with a wavy stripe and a large polka dot for the dress. I have a rainbow trim that has a pull thread to rusch it which I added to the dress neckline. I chose red hair because it was the most garish-I combined curly and straight hair for more kitschyness and  added glitter nail polish for highlights. I found the fantastic flower beads at Joann Fabrics to complete the crazy glasses plus a rainbow of rhinestones in a variety of sizes. I quit adding embellishments and kept the emphasis on the glasses and the mix of prints.
This is a close up view of the background and dress fabrics and the rusched trim. I also used variegated thread.
The next theme is "Vision Board" due July 31, 2016. I have an idea based on a hair color I wish I had. Being a hairdresser I see lots of images of new and innovative hair color!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Summer Flowers" Modern Quilt

I bought the book "Sister Sampler Quilts" by AnneMarie Chany with Christmas money. I had done one of AnneMarie's BOMs in 2015 using 9" blocks and I liked her designs and her instructions. This book has three BOMs and I chose to do the newest one called "Bonfire" in a 9" block. Her version had beige where I have the large floral and I thought that was way too boring so I selected the large floral and added the five recommented number of colors to make the quilt-red, peach/orange, yellow, grass green and turquiose. It now reminds me of summer flowers! It is a BOM which then displayed completed blocks on Instagram (which I'm not on) and on the Gen X Quilters Facebook page. I got to April's block and decided to just make the quilt!
The outside half square triangles, both piecing and quilting them, were rather boring but the blocks were a lot of fun. I hadn't sewed much with curved piecing or string piecing in a long time and both styles add to the quilt. It is machine quilted on my regular sewing machine with white, red and variegated thread.
 These are a few of my favorite blocks in which we made two of the same block but in different colorways.
 Some of the curved piecing.
String piecing using a rainbow color layout and it was a great idea using random strips!
I am now going to devote the next several quilt projects to ONLY portrait quilts. I have a few ideas drawn up and I am inspired to do a Prince portrait quilt. I have purchased the "unofficial" Purple Rain fabric from Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics, from Minnesota, for that project. I am playing around with photo manipulation to posterize and pixel pictures for a different technique. I'm never bored.....!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 1994: A Blast From The Past

I was pulling quilts for an upcoming quilt guild lecture next week for a Portrait Quilt Trunk Show. I like to show a few of my first portrait quilts to explain to people that if the desire is there and the willingness to learn the technical and artistic aspects of portrait quilts anyone can do it. My first few attempts were not show stoppers!
In the early 1990s I wanted to make portrait quilts. I knew how to draw and I figured out with tissue paper to make the applique pieces. But there were a few setbacks. I needed to learn how to piece, cut with a rotary cutter, sandwich the quilt and quilt it, add a binding and then I only had hand applique. I wanted to put pictures/motifs on a background but I only knew about hand applique. 
This quilt is an example of my hand applique experience. The quilt is from May 1994 and is a "selfie" of myself and my daughter Jordana just before she was 8 years old. I actually was smart enough to put a quilt label on the back and I called it "Mother and Daughter." This is bittersweet since we just celebrated Mother's Day! It also has my old rotary phone number which I had forgotten!!
I didn't enjoy hand applique at all! I quit making portrait quilts and made traditional pieced quilts which taught me the technical ropes. In 2005 I had nearly given up on quilting because of traditional quilt boredom and unaware of the Internet's potential. I was in a local bead shop in Appleton Wisconsin when I ran into a quilter friend who was now embracing art quilts. She told me about fusible web and how I iron motifs to a background to create a picture. I was elated and made my first raw edged fused portrait quilt in late 2005 and haven't stopped since. I buy Wonder Under by the bolt now!!
Back to the quilt in the photo. I see some similarities to how I proceed now. Portrait quilts, scrappy fabric choices, radiating quilting lines from the back of the portrait, the curves lines in the neck and shoulder area, the shape of the nose, the bright colors, a label on the back and a hanging sleeve.
What is new and improved in 26 years-I machine quilt and I quilt heavily, I do not embroider the facial features but raw edge fuse applique them. I block my quilts for a better shape. I square up everything at every step so the end result is square. My bindings are narrower, the corners sharper and there is no space in the binding that the judges dislike. Even though a judge's comments can hurt one's feelings it is for the best to technically improve! I use batiks as much as possible and, in general, the fabrics available to us currently are so much greater than 26 years ago!!
I would have placed the colorful blocks on the bottom of the quilt and added more of them for visual balance but it is still a nice sentimental quilt. I also would have had less background/negative space and more fussy cut butterflies. And I learned to add embellishments to my quilts if they are hanging on the wall.
This project was my first attempt at the Hoffman Challenge! It did not make the cut (I see why now!) and I didn't enter again until 2010 which did make the cut. I have had five quilts in the Hoffman Challenge since 2010 and 2016s is made and has been submitted for judging.
It's fun to look at old quilts to see where we were artistically and technically and how our supplies have changed and advanced to make better quilts.
I hope you have some oldie but goodie quilts or if you are a new quilter to save you projects and label them with at least a date!!