AHIQ Linkup – And Now, for Something Completely Different

I didn’t mean to bait and switch, but to be honest,coin-toss-black-web the Coin Toss I posted last month is still in  pieces, in a basket, waiting for my return. This happens to me…I got bored with it, and haven’t had the urge to return and finish. I think I’ll probably put it together in the format shown at left. I like the nine patch grid. I like the threes of everything.  I still haven’t decided on a fabric for the background. I the black that I used in the photoshop image, for its graphic quality, but solid black would not work with the shot cottons that make up the rest. I’ll have to go stash-diving, and I am sure that something will come to my attention when the time is right.

However, this does not mean I haven’t been working on anything, when time permits, or that I have abandoned improvisational work. In fact, I keep re-discovering how much I like working this way. Whatever you want to call it, improv, intuitive piecing, liberated piecing, it is a way of working that I really enjoy. I enjoy sitting down with some materials to see what I could make of them; and, that is exactly what improvisation is.

In my art quilt group, Pointless Sisters, we voted on the theme for our next challenge. We got three choices each out of about a dozen. None of my three top picks were the winners. I voted for Boxes, Architecture and something else I can’t recall. The winners were Flowers and Reflections. Flowers will be due in June. There are no restrictions as to size, medium, colors, or anything else. I’m not inspired yet, but no worries, I will cook up some sassy abstract interpretation of a flower, and have something to show.

But I started to think, if I am not inspired by the Coin Toss quilt, and not by the Flower theme, what do I want to do? And I thought about an recurring idea I had been kicking around for a long time. It involves layers, applique and decorative stitching, and more embellishment, and it required me to use my favorite colors. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that’s all of them.

I’ll call it the “mother quilt” for now, though she has a name. The original project generated a lot of strips and smaller scraps, and I was really liking all these colors and patterns together, so I started piecing with the scraps, first thinking they could be the back of the “mother quilt”. By about the second day I looked at what I had hanging on the wall and realized this was a whole new quilt top and much too complicated to be the back of anything. The smaller strips were all about the same length, between 5-7″ and these turned themselves into some chinese coins sets right away. I started piecing around a leftover square from the original, that hadn’t quite made the final cut, and started building an off-set, log-cabin, medallion style, alternating coins with longer strips, and the piece has now grown to about 45″ square. I plan to add additional rounds to bring it to 54″ x 54″ to match the size of the “mother quilt”. Maybe it is a series!

More-Coinage

Linking up with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters at Ann’s and Kaja’s.

Have a great day.

Coin Toss – AHIQ Linkup Better Late than Never!

Well I’ve been a bit derelict on the blogging, but it is because I have been working on my online course with Pixeladies in Photoshop Elements, and working on a new project that is completely different to the chinese coins, on which I will comment another time. Also, as it happens, my art quilt group (of which I am now in charge of running the meetings, since last October) happens to meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month, the same day as Ann and Kaja post the AHIQ linkup.  So with that and other things, it got to be a busy week. But I enjoy the AHIQ challenge, and the community it has created, so I didn’t want to let the month go by without reporting progress. I have not touched the actual piecing I did when I last posted my Chinese coins, but I have used it as a learning tool to see how Photoshop Elements can help me work out quilt designs. I guess that takes it a little bit out of the improv world but it is an alternative way of auditioning changes, layout choices, color schemes and so on, that I have found helpful. So, by arranging, rearranging and generally fiddling around with my quilt pieces on the computer, I have come up with a layout, and decided that I need a darker, contrasting field to set the pieces in, for this quilt. I am posting this planned layout, on a black background. Now I need to search in the stash for the right background fabric that will serve as the sashing (where the black is) because it is obvious to me that stark black isn’t what is required. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s posts this month and very flattered that my goading of KL Rollag bore some fruit. She has been a regular on the Improv Handbook FB page for awhile and I admire her work, and her pluck! I love that I have developed a web of communication that reaches around the globe. I wish we could all get together for a cup of tea some day, and a good yack!

Here’s my chosen layout for the Coin Toss.

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Linking up with AHIQ, this Fourth day of March, Two Thousand and Seventeen.

Coin Toss 1 – My Three Cents’ Worth

This morning, the sun is shining in Sonoma County for the first time in a number of days. It has been a long beginning of the year here, with lots and lots of rain, wind, trees down, power outages, mudslides, potholes, road closures and flooding, after several drought years during which we all forgot that these things happen. It will be nice to dry out a bit. Perhaps we will get in a hike tomorrow, while the sun still shines!

With my morning coffee, I enjoyed  Ann’s post about the beginnings of her Chinese Coins project. I’ve also gotten started on the AHIQ challenge involving Chinese Coins. In keeping with my promise to myself to limit myself to only materials on hand, I chose a set of various colored shot cottons I’ve had sitting around for awhile now. This fabric is quite a bit lighter weight than most of the quilting cottons I have been working with, and it occurred to me it would be a good material to use for some hand-quilting practice, so that is part of the present plan. I find myself in need of a “slow sewing” project.

I started thinking about stacks of coins, and how in traditional Chinese or Roman Coins quilts the stacks are very regular and straight, and the coins usually of a uniform size. But this is AHIQ, and I imagined my stacks as sort of irregular and wobbly.  I chose five colors for the coins, and found I had plenty of the sort of gray-beige neutral (I think it was called “mushroom”) to use for the background/negative space relief. First off, I made some wide strip sets, each with a color in the middle and background on the sides, and cross-cut them to make the individual coins. I eyeballed the measurements, so the coins would be variable in size. I sorted all the strips into three piles of equal numbers of strips, trying to distribute the colors fairly evenly. Then I stitched them together more or less randomly into three stacks. I say more or less, because I did not allow two adjacent coins to be the same color, and I began and ended each stack with colors different from each of the others.

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old-ccWhile I was sewing them together, I kept thinking about actual Chinese coins and how I always liked the shape of them. I have some on top of an old sewing basket that I’ve had since the 1970s. When the wobbly coin stacks were done, I proceeded to make three blocks with this coin shape.

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These are fused applique, with the edges turned under. I would like to add some Chinese characters like the ones on my actual coins, and am thinking how I might do that. Now, these three coins made my thoughts turn to all the meanings of coins; coin toss to decide a question; three coins in the fountain; small change; changes. This led me to thinking how three coins are thrown to generate the hexagrams of the iChing oracle. I formulated a question and threw three coins, three times, resulting in the three hexagrams, and made a block representing each of these.hexagrams

This is where I came to a stop, and turned to another project that was needing to be done. All these parts are hanging on my wall, where I see them every day, and I am waiting for them to tell me how they want to be arranged.

Butterflies in January?

Ann at Fret Not Yourself put up the link for Kaleidoscope of Butterflies and that gives me an excuse for a somewhat, but mostly not related post.

After a year of doing the weekly Made on Monday challenge, I found I was ready for a change of pace. Right now, there are a lot of people doing daily art, daily writing, or one thing or another on a regular routine basis. It’s very popular and arguably good advice for people who want to improve their art. As much as I enjoyed the MoM challenge, and as proud as I am of myself that I completed the whole year (and then some), I also chafed at the restraint more than once along the way.

And I’ve tried doing a sketch a day in my sketchbook, but darn it, I just don’t always want to. Same with keeping a journal, which I have attempted on and off since college.  I never developed that habit despite the fact it’s been in vogue for most of my adult life.

I follow Kathleen Loomis’ blog Art with a Needle, and have enjoyed her daily art adventures very much, but none of them are particularly in my wheelhouse. However, early in January, she did a post about an online class in Photoshop Elements, which is a program I have been itching to obtain and learn. I love taking photographs and even more I love messing with them. So, I checked out the web site for the course at The Pixeladies. This is a course in the basics of PSE, but with a focus for quilters (or really any other artists). What a blast! I like the platform, and the instruction is complete, clear and do-able, in small chunks. I am already beginning to see how I might be able to use PSE to create my own fabrics, thence my own unique quilts.

We learned how to do some very useful things, in the way of correcting deficiencies in the photos, adjusting light and contrast, straightening horizons, improving sharpness. But it’s the random surprising results you can get by combining filters and adjustments that is really fun for me. I made a nine patch out of a screen grab of some Kaffe Fassett stripes fabric:kaffe-stripes-1

I practiced adding quilting lines to a work in progress that’s not yet ready for prime time. I created a layer that was just some design lines based on an underlying photograph that I have been contemplating rendering in cloth.

I posterized my cat, Beastie!

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And for my final exam, I worked up three different versions of a very bad-looking photo I took of 100 shell buttons arranged on my cutting mat.

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I like that last one best by far. I’m enrolled for the PSE Essentials II course and am looking forward to that. There is so much packed into this program that I would never have figured it out for myself, given a million years of trial and error (which is how I usually learn new programs). So I’m stoked and thankful to Kathleen Loomis for the hot tip – this is actually something I might do on a regular basis (but maybe not daily).

And finally, did someone mention butterflies? Here’s one of the images I produced during this course, from a photo I took some years ago of an almost ubiquitous butterfly in Costa Rica called the Banded Peacock.

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LInking up with Kaleidoscope of Butterflies! Happy Groundhog Day!

 

AHIQ 2017 – Game On!

A little tardy with this linkup, but once the seasonal festivities were behind us we were overtaken by the seasonal cold or flu – yes, in spite of flu shots. The fun never ends! I did decide to finish the small piece I posted about last time, Abbott’s Lagoon. I am trying to overcome my fear of free-motion quilting, fully realizing that the only way to learn it is to do it, so I just jumped in. I did some quilting, then some more quilting, then some free-motion embroidery for good measure, and finally laid it on the table and colored in some enhancements with water-soluble oil pastels and some dye sticks.

On Tuesday, when Ann and Kaja posted the AHIQ linkup, I was busy, but eventually got to reading it and was very honored to find that Ann had cited my little quilt as an example of one kind of “chinese coins”. That is part of the AHIQ game plan for this first few months of 2017. Then, I went on to Pinterest (which I have neglected for some time) and searched more chinese coin quilts and what do you know, there was me!

So, though I have nothing else new to show for January, I will just post this finished piece and link up with AHIQ…and even though, if I’ve already produced some chinese coins, I could rest on my laurels, that would be no fun; and besides I already have a bunch of ideas of what I might work on next.

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Abbott’s Lagoon, 11″ x 26″, Sue Kelly, January 2017 Machine pieced, quilted and embroidered.

A New Start

I have been absent from this place for quite some time. Our holiday season was fun, and full of food and family get-togethers, and somewhat hectic, what with one thing and another, and there hasn’t been much time to spend in the “new” sewing room let alone to write about it. Finally on Boxing Day, we had the time and some chilly but sunny weather favorable for one of our hikes, so we went out to Pt. Reyes and walked the path along Abbott’s Lagoon to the shore. Here is a photo that I took that day, which I decided to use for inspiration for an improv piece, knowing that the AHIQ linkup was coming. I have enjoyed being part of that, and want to keep my hand in.

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I chose fabrics fairly quickly; that’s always the easy part for me. Then I cut up the photo in a grid shape, as a tool for deciding on the proportions of the colors, and hopefully to give me some ideas about how to compose the piece. abbots-process-2

I liked the resultant collage a lot! For my first attempt at a composition I tried making one large square block, free-pieced. I thought I might make a series of these and then put them together somehow. img_3235It is a nice looking block that I might use for something else some day, but it was way too literal for my improvisational purposes. Next I thought maybe I would riff on a traditional block and put together a more geometric, abstract rendition. I made four large-ish dissappearing nine-patches and cut them up. img_3234

I like these too, but they were not going in the direction I wanted to go. Finally I just started cutting up strips and putting them together, plus some wider bands of piecing. This was more what I was going for, an abstraction of the image of the lagoon, but using the colors from the photo, in approximately the same proportions. I’m fairly pleased with this result…and now I am pondering where to take it next.

img_3273Better late than never, linking up with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters.

Happy New Year everybody!

Made on Monday 49-50-51 and 52- The Grand Finale?

Since my last post, we have finished painting the second bedroom, bought storage shelves, and I have my sewing studio functional once again. Yesterday I was able to do some sewing in my new space. While I was out of action, I had started reading the book Art Quilt Collage, by Deborah Boschert. I have felt I needed some knowledge (if not instructions) about design, composition, color generally. Now that I’ve joined a group of artists, I’ve felt the need to learn some of the language, which has always made me slightly uncomfortable. No harm seeing what other people have to say and this book is quite engaging. So, one exercise she proposes is to choose a fabric pallette, and then make quick fabric collage “sketches” of each of her Eight Design Guides.

So, I dug into my new Wall of Stash

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What fun! Here I found a really interesting painterly abstract print by Alexander Henry, and a few coordinating pieces. I have a lot of black and white, and included a few of those prints for their graphic possibilities. When I looked at this collection I realized two things: One, I had stayed in my “safe” zone of very bright, bold, saturated colors, my choices were pretty matchy-matchy. And two, I really do need to challenge myself a bit on the color combos–(more on that theme later) except looking at this made me happy.

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So, I proceeded with the Eight Design Guides exercise, and along the way I have produced the four more Made on Monday pieces I needed to catch up to NUMBER 52 this week, plus five more for good measure. And here they are:

MoM 49 – Not in Kansas

Design Guide – Landscape img_3046

MoM 50 – Thirds + 1

Design Guide – Third Plus

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MoM 51 – No Man’s Land

Design Guide – One Amazing Line

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DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

MoM 52 – Sailors Take Warning

Design Guide – Modular – Except I took extreme liberties with the concept of a “stack of shapes”. When I saw this background, I just knew what the image had to be.

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MoM 53 – Maybe I’m a Maze

Design Guide – Dancing Grid

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MoM 54 – Nosegay from Outer Space

Design Guide – Magic Three

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Mom 55 – Right and Other Angles

No design guide. Just symmetrical.

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MoM 56 – Symmetrical, Not

Design Guide – Symmetrical

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MoM 57 – Going Off Grid

Design Guide – Grid

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Now, I may want to continue on with the Made on Monday commitment, since I’ve got myself all the way ahead into the new year, in terms of Mondays.

If not, I have learned a lot from making and keeping this commitment for the past year. I have made some new online friends, the other artists participating in MoM. I have learned what it takes to keep to the task, and how much I can learn by persisting. It has given me an opportunity, even an obligation, to try things I have not done before. We’ve had our work and words published in magazines and we communicate regularly through the Textile Arts Facebook page. And of course there is Kate Bridger, herself, whose idea it all was in the first place, and who has provided constant support and encouragement. If you have not visited Kate’s page, please do. She is a talented textile artist, writer and source of lots of inspiration, and a kind and gracious person to boot.

And thank you for visiting!

For Kate Bridger‘s  Made on Monday.

Sue