Autumn has Begun…

This is Jane Haworth and although it is now Autumn or Fall, the weather is just beginning to cooperate and it feels like its been some time since I was enjoying late summer at the retreat at Zephyr Point. It was my first year to visit and to be one of the teachers at this wonderful place. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t ever attended. The surroundings are beautiful, the weather perfect, the food wonderful as you don’t have to think about it, and being surrounded by all those creatives is very inspiring. I loved it and will be back next year, September 2-6 2019 with my fellow teachers; Heidi Emmett, Sandra Bruce and Mary Boalt.

 

These are some of the projects my students worked on whilst attending my Fabric Collage Addiction workshop. I love the variety of images they chose to work on and didn’t they do a great job.

My busy autumn began shortly after the retreat as I was heading to Ohio to tape my three segments for QATV, then off to visit family in England, I was teaching in Auburn and visited the PIQF quilt show in Santa Clara. I have now been preparing for my upcoming classes at IQF in Houston in just a few days time.  Not to mention keeping up with my Christmas orders for T-shirt and memory quilts for my Etsy shop. It is so hard to say no to customers who want a quilt made for a Christmas gift!

Quilting Arts TV recording series 2300

Susan Brusker Knapp host of QATV, Zeke and I

My time spent in Ohio was an amazing experience and taping went pretty smoothly and I’m happy to report I didn’t feel that nervous. I traveled out from Sacramento with Kris Sazaki and Deb Cashatt, the Pixeladies, what a laugh we had! From the variety of Uber drivers we met, the ribbing I got for scoring an upgrade on our flight and then exploring  and eating in Little Italy, Cleveland.

QATV series 2300

Before the taping at Quilting Arts TV

As I said I recorded three segments. This one is for my upcycled tote bags I make using left over food wrappers/bags and denim from old jeans for handles. Its funny I took 2 dresses I made over 10 years ago from plastic carrier bags that fitted the theme perfectly and so we put them on these 2 manikins as props for the background.

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I also got to work with Jeanine the Bernina rep who was lovely and helped me familiarize myself with the Bernini sewing machine. I don’t use one at home and here I used it in all three of my projects. I think this next series 2300 is out in the new year. QATV can be watched on PBS2 or if not you’ll have to buy or borrow the DVD set.

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I did get back to England for a week and was lucky to take my eldest daughter, Lucy who was between jobs! We traveled to Tiverton, Devon which is in the Westcountry, almost Poldark country, to stay with my family. It was also a girls weekend as I booked an Airbnb on a small deer farm, just a few miles from my mums house, where my daughter, sister-in-law, best friend and my niece all stayed together. We couldn’t avoid the rain so in this photo we are standing outside Exeter Cathedral on our shopping trip. Heres a few more shots of Devon and London.

 

I also got to do a presentation and teach my workshop, Love of Pets, to my own local guild, Foothill Quilters Guild here in Auburn. The first lecture I ever did was in 2014 and that was to the aforementioned guild and I must say this time I was far less nervous. It was a lot of fun sharing the progress of my work with friends. And here are some of the portraits they made in class.

Love of Pets workshop Jane Haworth

A sampler of some of the “works in progress” from Foothill Quilt Guild

This next photo is a quilt I recently made and is to be a special gift to someone.

Love of Pets Jane Haworth

A special Golden Labrador

In preparation for Houston my bags are not packed but my quilts are! I’m still working on some samples to take that I can demo on and then a bit more prep for my ‘Meet the Teachers’ presentation and Demo and then I will say I’m ready. I am very excited to meet all the new quilters and teachers but I know my schedule is going to be grueling especially with class start times of 8am ET!

 

Finally I still having openings in my Succulent class at Craft Napa in January 2019 so click on the link to read more details. This is a retreat I have attended for the last three years and again highly recommend. If you are interested in seeing where I am teaching before next years retreat look at my website and even read my blog to see what I’ve been up to.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy our wonderful Autumnal weather.

My Process of Making Fabric Collage

Hi    This is JANE HAWORTH  writing this weeks post 

Sometimes coming up with the idea for my next collage quilt is hard but other times I am awash with ideas. Then having enough time is my next problem! A couple of years ago I saw a documentary about giraffes and I was shocked to hear that their numbers are really low and giraffes are on the endangered species list. The BBC documentary was Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants and follows the work of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation

Giraffe image from Pixabay.com

Giraffe Image

I was inspired and needed to make a giraffe quilt. I found this image on Pixabay which is a copyright free resource for images. I printed it out as a full page and then had to decide how large to make the quilt. This time I wanted it big, and I mean really big. I always get that feeling when I see one of my quilts out in the wild, at a quilt show, that the quilt looked so much bigger at home. So instead of increasing the size by 3 times or 6 times I decided 10 times. I was now making my giraffe image about 90″ x 70″.

Giraffe by Jane Haworth

Giraffe Tongue

My usual method of making my pattern is to draw a grid on newsprint. I drew 10″ squares and then transposed the lines from the 1″ grid that covered my photograph.

I began work on the tongue and that was 12″ long. The fabrics I decided to use for the giraffe included many upholstery and furnishing fabrics, as well as linen, burlap and regular quilting fabrics I had in my stash. I was not thinking about the background at this stage.

 

 

Working on a large scale was hard. On my usual worktable the collage would be falling off any chance it had and keeping all my fabrics close had its challenges too. I first completed the head as a single unit and then I tackled the neck, that would lay behind the head and then be glued in place.

Completed giraffe head by Jane Haworth

Completed head laid out onto batting.

Once the giraffe was made I was very happy and had now to figure out the background. I cut a piece of batting to the approximate size of the completed quilt and using my family room floor laid it out with the giraffe in it place. I decided to go with green patterned fabrics that I been setting aside and these included hand-dyed and over-dyed, batiks, African fabrics and other pieces I again found in my stash.

Work in Progress by Jane Haworth

Using the floor space in my family room.

To complete this quilt I made up my backing and taped it down to the floor. Lay the batting over the top, positioned the giraffe it its spot and then lay out my background fabrics. These I cut to size and pieced together as I went making sure they tucked behind the giraffe. Eventually all the batting was covered and I could glue the giraffe in place. I took my iron and pressed it all while it still lay on the floor, finishing with safety pins to hold the three layers together.

IMG_7072Quilting by Jane Haworth

Quilting using my Janome 6500

To quilt all my quilts I use my regular sewing machine and this quilt was hard work I will admit. I think using the heavier upholstery fabrics and burlap made the quilt stiffer, harder to handle, fit under the machine and generally hard on my body. So I do remember working for only a hour or so at a time especially on those tricky parts in the center of the quilt.

Finished by Jane Haworth

Finished quilt at the FQG Show April 2017

My husband decided the giraffe needed to be called Melman after the giraffe in the movie ‘Madagascar’. So the quilt is named ‘Melman, The vulnerable Giraffe’. I decided if I sold the quilt I would donate half the money to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. It was juried into IQF Houston in 2017 but didn’t sell and this summer it will be at Sisters, Oregon for their outdoor quilt show on July 14 2018. So he’s still for sale!

Having explained my process of making a fabric collage art quilt I must say making a smaller quilt is easier, fun, less daunting, and easier on the body. So join me at my workshop Fabric Collage Addiction, if you can, September 3-7 2018 at Zephyr Point for the Artistic Alchemy Retreat.

Artistic Alchemy will be “out in the wild” this coming weekend, May 5 & 6 at the Pine Tree Quilt Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. So come down and meet us, chat about the retreat, hear about our show special and see what ‘goodies’ we have for sale. Here are a few of the things I have been working on for that sale.

 

 

Lake Tahoe is beautiful in September so combine a trip to the mountains with sewing and play time. Check out the 4 workshops on offer from Mary, Heidi, Sandra and myself, or just work on your own projects. What could be better than taking a break from the heat and surrounding yourself with creativity.

Winston Debut

by Sandra Bruce

A quick note before I get into my post….we want to let your know that our Artistic Alchemy gmail account was hacked, so please trash suspicious emails that seem to be from us. This doesn’t affect the security of our posts, and and we’ve taken measures to prevent this from happening again.

Just in time for the Pine Tree Quilt Show, coming up April 30-May1st, a Matrix quilt of Winston, a very sweet Great Dane. This photograph is so perfect for the technique…..fantastic composition, some areas of detail, and some areas of just color. I love the value changes in the grey, perfect for my stash of greys!  I knew the eyes would be the biggest hurdle. Photo courtesy of Jenipher Lagana.

winstoncloseupI pulled out all my purples and greys, using the photo for reference.IMG_0408

The beginning was easy, and got me in the rhythm of things. His head appeared quickly.IMG_0449

Enter: his eyes. This is where things got interesting, and in this case, challenging! He looked a little “mad” to me, although I followed the photo precisely. I’m a stickler about eyes, they are so important. The pupils are black “Perfect Circles”, which I appliquéd on by hand.IMG_0517

Had to take some artistic license, and attempt another eye, or two. They sure do look funny without pupils!IMG_0662

The finished top before quilting, it’s about 38″ by 52″. The wooden couch arm was an unexpected challenge, it’s a little wonkier than I wanted it to be, hoping some intense quilting will help it.

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Now, for some fun with thread, picking out colors to use. You know how I love colors opposite each other on the color wheel.

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Couldn’t resist this shot, the batik back mounted on the longarm and ready to go!!

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Always exciting, the first go round. Left to right, top to bottom.

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Here is the finished quilt. Come to the Pine Tree Quilt Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, April 30-May 1….you’ll see Winston (and Chuck Close Two!) and Artistic Alchemy will have a booth in the Vendor building, stop by and say hello to us!P1000204

A Word (or Two!) About Composition

Sandra Bruce posting today. I have had many people ask me in the course of teaching my technique “Material Matrix” about what makes a good photograph to turn into a quilt. I would like to do a brief “Show and Tell” using photographs from my own library of photos to illustrate a few points that I think are helpful, both in making quilts and just taking photos in general.

First, I feel strongly that scale is one of the most important elements of  good design. It’s OK to get CLOSE. Plopping your subject in the middle of your background with space all around can be pretty boring, especially if it’s dead center. (There are exceptions to this, however.) Getting close to your subject brings the viewer into your quilt or photo. Here’s an example below:  It’s nice and close, but the cropping is awkward, especially on the right, where his mouth gets chopped off.

: asleep floor:in red pjs4

What happens when we get even closer? Whoops!! Too close! Let’s try again.

: asleep floor:in red pjs 3 Perfect! This is now a great photo and would make a good quilt design. Nice balance of elements, a couple of diagonals lines (always good in a composition) and good values of light to dark.

: asleep floor:in red pj copy

Here’s a photo taken at Fort Ross State Park here in California. It’s a nice enough photo, but there isn’t much of a focal point, and your eye doesn’t know where to go first. The fort is too far away and the trees dominate the image.

10 2002_0221_114334AAThis is much better. The scale of each item has more variety, and the diagonal of the fence makes a nice complement to the vertical trees and brings you into the scene. With some tweaking this could make a nice quilt.15 2002_0221_114756AA

Flowers are such a popular subject for photographs and quilts. Here are 3 examples of nice compositions that have a lot going for them. Notice they’re fairly close up.IMG_4355IMG_0524_2

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The quilt I made called “Matteo and the Amaryllis” is a good example of cropping to get to the essence of the image. Here’s the original photo I took, and below it, the cropped version. I wanted to focus on his profile, and the flower. The background and hat are unimportant. Notice the tip of his nose on the flower in the cropped version is not dead center, it’s a better place for the focal point!IMG_5898

MP amaryllis cropped

 Here’s a photo of an old car that could be interesting in a quilt, but you have to use your imagination to think of how it might become a better composition. Off the top of my head, I would take out the bikes and the houses in the background, focusing on the car only, and change the car color to give more contrast between the grass and the car. What I’m getting at is that sometimes a photo needs work but has potential to become a good composition. Playing in Photoshop or even cutting out color copies to get what you want can make it work for you.

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Sometimes something as simple as changing the vantage point of the camera can make a better photo. Here I put the camera on the counter looking up at these pickle jars. Wouldn’t this make an interesting quilt?IMG_2879_2Lastly, here’s the photo I’m using for the quilt I just started, my son Matteo again, in black and white this time. I wanted to challenge myself to work in black, white and grey only. I love this photo for its simplicity, value changes, and how it captures his expression, which will be the biggest challenge.M quilt b:w ideaBe brave in taking photographs to use in quilts. Play around until you have what you want. Get close. A good quilt image starts with a good photo! All the photos in this post were taken by myself or Gary Pierazzi.

I hope you have gained a little something from this post. We all (Artistic Alchemy) appreciate hearing from you. We’re getting excited about our Zephyr Cove Retreat and I can’t wait to see what participants create! Have a good week, everyone.

 

Material Matrix, Redux

Sandra Bruce here today, to tell you a bit more about my Material Matrix technique. I’ve touched on it before, and I discussed Chuck Close in my last blog, but I thought today I’d give a little more detail about my process for those of you who might be curious. It might pique your interest enough that you would want to try it! Consider taking my workshop at Zephyr Cove in September. You will be able to work with a photo you want to turn into a very unique quilt.

Recently I wrote an article about my process and work that is going to be featured in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, coming out late in March (yippee!!) Writing the article made me stop and really think about how I do what I do. Here’s a little mini trip through my process, with pictures to illustrate.

I’m going to use my Self-Portrait quilt as an example since I have the most photos of it to show you. Inspired by Chuck Close, this is the photo I had taken to work from. Working in Adobe Illustrator, I applied a grid that was 40 squares wide by 40 squares tall, making it a whopping 1,600 squares total. I was not daunted.

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I pretty much jumped in. I had thought a lot about it, wondering how to interpret the squares with fabric, and finally decided to be wonky and as loose as possible. This requires discipline, and thinking, as the natural inclination is to match up and be pretty about it. Below is the first photo I took of my progress, the top of the hair, and at this stage I wasn’t at all sure I was doing the right thing. One square on the photo equals one 2-inch square of fabric.

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Fortunately I had the top of the hair and background in the top third of the image to decide if what I was doing was working like I wanted it to. It helped to use a reducing glass and stand back a lot to view it from as far away as I could get.

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I realized I was going to have to do some curved piecing. For those of you who have not tried it, I can tell you truthfully it is a wonderful thing to know how to do and is very liberating in technique…..and not hard!!!

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The eyes were the hardest part, which is also typically true in a painting or illustration. I just had to keep at it and refer to the photo, a lot.

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I sewed 4 by 4 blocks, then sewed the blocks together into rows, then added the rows to the existing rows already sewn together. I fell in love with Best Press, which helped keep my rows and blocks square and crisp.

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There were…………….mistakes. I did some ripping out, but not a lot. I use a small stitch length, about a “2” on my Bernina, so the seam ripper has to be my friend! I press open my seams. That you have to press to one side is just an old wives tale, as far as I’m concerned. Pressing open makes the quilt nice and flat and easier to quilt.

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Here it is on my long arm, where I had the most fun, writing (stitching) words into the background and doing swirls and all kinds of thread changes.

I have to say, the main thing I love about this technique is the element of surprise, not being absolutely sure what you’re going to get when you play with the wonkiness and placement. But when you stand back, and you’re happy with the results….what a great feeling!

 
Here’s the finished quilt, 80″ by 80″.
Full Size Self Portrait
 

I’ve been enjoying teaching this technique, and have had students make beautiful quilts with it! Here are 3 samples:

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Here’s a sneek peek at my present project, a 70″ octopus in water, I’m naming “Octavius”. His eye follows me around my studio and we are quite attached.

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Before I sign off, I want to wish you all a very Happy Valentines Day! Here’s my “Love and kisses” quilt, my valentine to you. X O X O X O

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