Destination: Transparency!

by Christine Barnes

The past month has been a whirlwind of travel, but gosh, it has been FUN. I’m calling it my California Coastal Color Tour because I taught a different workshop for guilds in San Diego, Arroyo Grande, and Santa Cruz. For this post I’d like to show you what twenty diligent (and cheerfully rowdy) Santa Cruz students did with my “Transparent Circles” pattern. The original quilt, made of shot cottons and Marcia Derse prints:I refer to this kind of transparency as “layered,” which is different from parent/child transparency. Here’s an overview of how I make the blocks, using the upper left block in the quilt as an example.

I piece four smaller squares of light fabrics and four larger squares of corresponding dark fabrics. Using the template below, I cut out a freezer-paper circle (double layer, for stability) and mark each quarter line with a small slit. I then trim the light unit of squares a scant ¼ inch beyond the freezer-paper circle and press the raw edge over and onto the shiny side of the paper. Finally, I appliqué the circle to the larger pieced unit, lining up the seams, and cut away and remove the paper from the back.You make “in and out” blocks, using the same eight fabrics. I love seeing how different the block looks with the light and dark fabrics reversed.

Circles in progress . . . .Brenda’s blocks, with help from Lori. Notice that the colors are in the same location in each block. So cool!What fun to see some of the different blocks. Happy students, successful circles. That’s my traveling buddy Kari toward the back.Meryl (my facilitator for the trip—thank you so much) with her first block. The dark green and orange Grunge fabrics give the block a lovely texture.

Could there be a cuter picture? Pat, my hostess (we loved staying with you!) and her blocks made of Gelato ombrés. She’s the first to try Gelatos for these blocks, and I think they are awesome.

The next day we had breakfast at the home of a local wearable artist. I way taken by the arrangement and color of these elements in her courtyard.Pat and Lori then took us to Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, a wonderful, must-visit shop on the corner of Grand and Central streets. Who can forget that location?We were in for one more treat the morning we left, Gayle’s bakery, a Santa Cruz landmark and a feast for the eyes and the palette. If you aren’t hungry when you go, you will be when you look at the array of pastries and goodies!Owner Gayle Ortiz did the picassiette (broken pottery mosaic) on some of the tables, as well as one wall.

I don’t know about you, but I see a fabric design in this . . . .We headed home, with new memories, friends, and fabrics. And as often happens after I teach a class, I want to make the quilt again, this time with Grunges and Peppered Cottons. Thanks so much for tuning in this week. For my next post I’ll have tales to tell from another coast—the coast of Florida!

 

 

 

 

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Serene Circles: A Mini Tutorial in Transparency

by Christine Barnes

Greetings, Artistic Alchemy followers! Before I begin, Heidi just posted photos from last September’s retreat. Check out the new Pics page and see what the fun was all about!

OK, let’s get down to business. Yes, I admit it: I’m a circles addict. As you may have seen on our Workshops page, I’ve just started a new transparency quilt for my retreat workshop. Below is the story behind one of the blocks, using three values of yellow-green. These fabrics are Peppered Cottons from Studio E, but the fabrics need not be from the same manufacturer. They should, however, have a similar intensity; that is, all muted or all brilliant, or all somewhere in between.Serene fabricsI had fun piecing the background square below from light-value, mostly neutral prints, with the light green solid running through the middle.Serene pieced blockThen I pieced a circle of the medium and dark green fabrics. It’s a bit tricky keeping the seams straight so they will match the seams in the background square, but Peppered Cottons have a slightly looser weave that bends beautifully over the edge of a freezer-paper circle.

When you lay the circle over the background square and line up the seams, look what happens: it appears that the light green runs through the dark green, creating a medium green. Suddenly, the background square comes to life, and the circle looks layered.Serene circle on topI first saw this design idea in a quilt by Naoko Anne Ito, at an East Bay Heritage Quilters show a few years ago. She graciously allowed me to have it photographed and included in my color book. Isn’t it exquisite?

Barnes, 10751, Sp11It’s also possible to make the design lines of the “parents” carry through the “child.” In the example below, the blue-green zig-zag seems to start in the left square, flow through the center square, and continue into the right square. Transparencies of value, color, and design lines are often the most amazing.2015 Yellow, blue, fave trans blockThe block below shows what happens when the values aren’t quite right. The light yellow-green fabric is not as light as the lightest yellow-green in the printed center.  When I teach transparency, we joke about “recessive genes” and “color DNA,” but in general, the lightest value in the child must also be in the parent. I still love this block, even if it’s not that successful as a transparency.

BLK 4 teal, y-g_2033I’m glad you joined me for this short session, and I hope I’ve piqued your interest in transparency. It’s an awesome special effect, and it works wonderfully in all kinds of quilt designs. Feel free to write with questions. I love thinking about this stuff!

 

 

 

A New Project for the New Year

1 fabrics banner STARTby Christine Barnes

Happy Boxing Day! I love the day after Christmas. No schedule, no commitments, and plenty of leftovers in the fridge. It’s a fancy-free day, which usually involves playing in my fabric and sewing. I hope it’s the same for you.

As you can see in the photos below, I’m still on a solids kick. For my new quilt, I started with “plain” solids from several manufacturers and added some yummy Peppered Cottons from Studio E Fabrics. Then I splurged—and I mean splurged—on hand-dyes by Maureen Hardy Schmidt, below. Talk about “visually delicious.”2 Maureen's fabsI had in mind very simple nine-patch blocks, with one center print. I knew this wouldn’t be my final plan, but I had to start somewhere. Below are Kona solids and one Marcia Derse print. They’re all right but not very exciting.3 MD centersSo I cut squares of a favorite Alexander Henry print and laid them on top of the green centers. I liked the effect—the print lightens and brightens the solids—but I decided to save that wonderful fabric for another project.4 white centersI did, however, get a glimmer of an idea: What if I put squares of similar values and colors side by side? Could I create new shapes within the usual nine-patch structure?

Before I could work on that, I had to find a fabric or fabrics for the block centers. I’ve loved plaid for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been collecting for years. Below are squares cut from some of my favorites. (The large-scale plaids in the top row are new Peppered Cottons.)5 plaid squares on wallI’ve been playing ever since, eliminating many of the plaids because they lose much of their impact when cut up. Below are a few early mock-ups. You can see where I’ve made some squares blend into each other and others stand out in contrast.6 mock ups, good!And below are a few of the sewn blocks. In the top left block, two squares in the bottom row almost become one red-orange rectangle. In the second row, left block, I see a large “L” of dark green and teal. If you squint, the new shapes are more prominent.7 sewn blocksMy goal is to create shimmering asymmetrical color, with bits of unexpected pattern in the center of each block. And how will I set these blocks? Not side by side, that’s for sure. But hey, the day after Christmas is still young, and I’m still feeling free.

May you be having the same kind of day. And may you have a fabulous New Year, one that’s filled with the people and things you love!

 

 

New York, New York!

by Christine Barnes

Oh my, I had quite the adventure this past week, traveling to Westchester County, NY, to lecture and teach for the Northern Star Quilters’ Guild. The weather was lovely—cool and crisp—and the rain was a real treat for this California girl. Thank you, ladies, for your enthusiasm and your hospitality. You are one lively bunch of quilters!

In between all the fun, we had time to explore the role of value and intensity in creating transparency. For my “Transparent Squares” quilt, it takes two groups of fabrics, eight lights and eight darks. To “fool the eye” into seeing transparent color, you need fabrics that are similarly intense; for example, all muted or all bright, or all somewhere in between. This is one color concept ideally suited to collections because the fabrics in collections tend to have a similar intensity.

For example, Yvonne used all Peppered Cottons for her blocks, below. Aren’t they yummy? (That’s Caryl, student extraordinaire, sitting at her machine in the background. Pay no attention to the figure in the corner—tis the season.)

NY peppered cottsOn the way back to the hotel, I snapped this pic of miniature mums. Aren’t these colors great with the “peppered” fabrics?

NY mumsCarol used her collection of Cherrywood hand-dyes, below, to make her suede-like blocks. Slight variations in value (the orange fabric, for example, is more medium than dark) make the blocks more interesting. Once the units are joined, the transparency “snaps” into place.NY, Carol, CherrywoodChris, below, came with all Shot Cottons by Kaffe Fassett. The see-through center units seem to magically float above the darker background pieces. The block construction for this quilt couldn’t be simpler: you sew eight different “basic blocks,” each consisting of one lighter-value center square surrounded by four strips of a darker-value fabric. Then you “whack” the blocks off-center and recombine the units to make seemingly complex blocks. She’ll add borders of my favorite gray ombré to complete her quilt.

NY Chris's bocks joinedHere are Meg and Jane working on their blocks. Love, love the visually delicious solids. You can use prints in creating transparency, as long as they are tone-or-tone or other low-contrast patterns.

NY Meg and JaneAnd, of course, what’s a workshop without a lot of laughter? That’s Clarie at the ironing board, with JoAnne (my hostess), Judy, and Nancy having fun.

NY Caire, Joanne, Judy, Nancy Judy was so kind to take me back to the hotel after the class. We took the scenic route so I could see more of the area, and I loved the fall colors, beautiful homes, and stone walls. Well, we got to talking and laughing so much that we strayed a bit. Judy stopped at a cute inn, below, for some quick directions. I was delighted to have the “extended tour.” Thank you, Judy. And many thanks to those students not pictured; you made my trip memorable.

NY inn Finally, had the weather been a bit more cooperative, I would have taken more pics of this charming part of New York state. But in their place, here’s the brick school where my local guild, Pine Tree Quilt Guild, meets every month. Not New York, but very fall-like.

NY HennesseyI’ll be in San Diego in a few weeks, teaching a new class titled “Modern Color” for the Village Quilters guild. Wherever you are, I hope your season is colorful!

Christine