“Circles of Black, Circles of White 7″ – Another Beaded Art Quilt

Circles of Black, Circles of White 7 - a beaded art quilt

Circles of Black, Circles of White 7 – a beaded art quilt

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

This is the last cut out in the series of beaded art quilts where I used black and white circles with spokes in them, (I still have one to finish). It started out much more yellow than it ended up, but then my art quilts always tell me what they want to have on them. I used vertical stripes of black and white harlequin ribbon to play off the similarly colored spokes in the circles. I also used black industrial zippers half way unzipped to add another decorative embellishment. Black and white buttons of all shapes and patterns are scattered throughout to carry out the black and white theme.

Detail 1 of Circles of Black, Circles of White 7

Detail 1 of Circles of Black, Circles of White 7

In this detail shot, you can see a lot of those black and white buttons that I was talking about. You can also see, however, many of the other colors that were used in this piece. The background fabric started out as a yellowish piece with mottled orange circles, but by the time I sewed on red seed beads, the background appeared more red than yellow. To balance it out, I had added some yellow fabric bands, which you can see to the left of the photo. In that area, the beading is so intense, that 1 sq. in (2.5 cm sq) = 1 hour’s work. You can also see a lot of the butterflies that I added, both applique and metal pins as I love the creatures.

Detail 2 of Circles of Black, Circles of White 7

Detail 2 of Circles of Black, Circles of White 7

In this second detail shot, I’ve added some green arrows to point to some of the more subtle details that you wouldn’t see otherwise. In the very center are some square buttons that have red circles on them to play off the red circles on the background fabric. I rarely use anything but round buttons, as it’s hard to get other shapes to line up the way you want them to. These, however, were just too cool to pass up, although I only got five, and I’ve no idea from where.

The other two green arrows point to some cylindrical lampwork beads. The body is orange glass and the ends are flat yellow blobs. They remind me of the candy corn that is popular here in the States. This is the last of those beads, and is another case of where I wish I had bought all the store had at the time. When I realized how much I liked them on an earlier piece, by then the store was of course, out of them, and couldn’t re-order more. However, art does make one creative, and if you look to the very far right, you’ll see flat yellow buttons sewn on with 4 strands of red floss to make a cross and play off the colors of the “candy corn” beads. I was rather proud of myself for that innovation.

As I said, I have one more in the series to finish, which was actually the second to be cut out. (Why? ‘Cause!) I certainly have become expert a making spokes on the circles as the white beads are size 6 (larger) than the size 10 black beads. Also, in the bigger circles, I sometimes had to fill in the black with an extra, short line of beads, as there was more surface area in the “wedge” as you move away from the middle. even though I still have a lot of those black and white circles, but I think it will be awhile before I use them again. However, I’ve learned to “never say never”, especially when it comes to my beaded art quilts.

Do you have any shapes or themes that you tend to use a lot in your artwork? Any idea why you use them?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

Inkle Weaving – A Blast From the Past

 

Samples of Inkle Weaving

Samples of Inkle Weaving

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA In the late 60s and early 70s, there was a big move on to return to traditional textile techniques, as many of the people who knew how to do them had died, or their companies had moved overseas. While getting my portfolio together to go to The Maryland Institute of Art for my MFA, I learned crochet, macrame, and many other techniques that had been laid to the side for more modern objects and materials. One of these techniques was inkle weaving. On the left are some pretty simple versions that I made. If you Google inkle weaving, and look at the “images” section, there are many more complicated examples than mine. I got bored rather quickly with the process, since you had to manually make the “shed” or the place where the shuttle with the thread/yarn on it would be passed. To make that shed. the loom that I was using had a flat wooden piece with a notched edge to it, and that allowed a little more ease in picking up the warp or vertical threads that I wanted. You then turned the flat edge on it’s side, and that made enough room to pass the shuttle through with the color for that row.

Inkle Loom

Inkle Loom

The loom that I used was a simple table top one, although there are ones that are made that are floor models if you want to make a lot of the same pattern. This table model allowed me to make lengths about 3 feet (9 m). The above samples are about 1″ (2.5cm) wide, but I could have made them wider if I had wanted to do so. I wanted to hurry and learn as many patterns as I could, and in keeping with the times, used rustic materials such as butcher and other forms of twine. Since inkle weavings are often used as guitar straps, belts, and other forms of narrow textiles, the scratchy twine would not have been very comfortable, especially going around your neck. However, this was the time when we were “being real and true to our roots”, not that a country girl from North Carolina would have had any relatives that I knew of that had done such work. It was fun learning about folk traditions, especially through classes at the Smithsonian, such as learning to crochet with your fingers. This apparently was one early way that man learned to make fabric until someone realized that a stick or bone with a notch at the end would make things go a lot faster. My simple inkle loom would have been quite a step up in technology from the primitive finger crocheting. As I was cleaning out my studio to move, it was hard to give up the several looms that I had collected over the years from art teachers who didn’t know how to use them, and weren’t very interested in learning, since you would need one loom/child in each class. My looms ended up going to a friend who is starting a weaving studio, so I know that they’ll have a good home and traditions will be passed on.

What are some textile traditions that you have in your family? My grandmother used to crochet white edges around wash cloths. 

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow! You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter. To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

Packing up an Art Studio

Studio full of buttons and beads for art quilts

Studio full of buttons and beads for art quilts

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

Packing up an art studio is hard! Who would have thought that a “few” jars of buttons and beads would be so time consuming?

When I first began writing this blog about my beaded art quilts and the other forms of art that I indulge in, I had quite a full room. As you can see in the photo on the left that the plastic shelves were bent from the weight of the treasures that I had from which to choose for embellishments. A lot was hidden, behind other jars and assorted containers, and many were balancing at a precarious angle.To get to some of those back ones, I would have to take down maybe 5 or 6 jars to get to the one that I wanted. I so wanted a neater studio!

Studio - Waiting for the house to sell

Studio – Waiting for the house to sell

Well be careful what you wish for. A few weeks back on my Facebook page, I posted a photo of all of those materials in boxes. Here’s what the left hand corner of the above picture looks like now after the stagers got through with it for the move. In all of those bins are my business materials. I just looked around the room, and the only sewing supplies are my sewing machine on the desk where I’m writing this blog, and a pin cushion.In the closet is a collage that I want to work on for a Christmas present, and that’s it regarding sewing. The Ansel Adams print on the wall was put there by the stagers. They kept asking me if I didn’t have more of my work to display. However, I had been told to make the place as bare as possible, so most of my art quilts are in a storage unit with most of my clothes and furniture. It sounds kind of hollow in this room.

Nancy's sewing chair

Nancy’s sewing chair

In the same blog where I wrote about my studio, I showed the chair where I actually do the sewing. I still have that same chair where I sit and watch TV where I add on the beads one by one. However, what you can’t see in this photo is that at my feet were many big jars of beads. The small wicker trash can in the lower left hand corner was sitting on a large plastic tub filled with other jars of beads that I needed at at the time. Sometimes, I had to climb up and over the fort that I had built, just to get out of the chair. Well, that’s not a problem any more!

Downstairs chair waiting for buyers to come

Downstairs chair waiting for buyers to come

This last photo shows my chair after the stagers emptied out the room,and I donated a lot of the furniture to a charity. A lot of the tools that I need are in the sunflower box to the left of the chair. In that box are also the little containers for the beads that I’m using at the time. Everything has to be ready to be put away within an hour’s time, as I can’t be in the house while the potential buyers are there with their realtor. Before I sent my buttons, beads, and fabric away for storage, I cut out three art quilts, and put the buttons and the big beads on them. I figured that that many would last me a year. I then selected the seed beads that were needed for each quilt, and they’re in a closet behind and to the right of the chair, along with a rack of quilting thread. The house has only officially been on the market for two weeks now, but it already seems like a long time.

The house that I’ve picked out (after selling this place) would have a room about the same size as where I’ve worked for 30 years.I’ve been using a small bedroom that was dedicated from day 1 to making my art work. The new one will be a little more interesting, in that it has more angles than just a rectangle. Unpacking all of those jars, fabric, and frou-frou will take quite a bit of time. Should be ,,, interesting!

Have you ever moved  a studio? Got any tips for me to make it easier?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

Beach Balls and Flowers; a Beaded Art Quilt Still-life

Full View of Beaded Art Quilt "Beach Balls and Butterflies"

“Beach Balls and Butterflies”

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

I love the punch of complementary colors. I’ve always been drawn to them long before I knew anything about them being opposites on the color wheel. In this small beaded art quilt, (9″ or 23 cm square) I used a fabric that has blue and white circles that remind me of beach balls. I remember playing with them for hours as a kid, probably because all you had to do with them was to catch and bounce them. The back ground fabric on the balls even was an orange color, although I cut that away. Instead, for the background, I used an orange and white striped fabric that reminded me of beach umbrellas.

Detail of "Butterflies and Beach Balls"

Detail of “Butterflies and Beach Balls”

When you’re working with such a small space, every button and large bead has to work in the composition. In the upper center of this detail shot is an aqua glass button from Czechoslovakia. It has raised gold bubbles that sort of remind me of sea foam. Never mind that flowers wouldn’t be growing in the ocean; this a piece about opposites. In the upper left and middle right is a large round aqua bead that has broken golden shapes on it. It reminds me of the gorgeous inside of an abalone shell.

Detail  2 of "Butterflies and Beach Balls"

Detail 2 of “Butterflies and Beach Balls”

This detail shot shows a little more of the orange and white flowers, and also a star burst flower of dark blue with black lines that reminds me of chrysanthemums. There is also an aqua flower that has navy outlines. I love pouring through my fabric stash and finding just the perfect addition to my compositions. The way that I make my beaded art quilts is that I use the colors and the shapes on the fabric to dictate the choices of buttons and beads. However, it’s not merely filling in the shapes, as a lot of choices still are made about which buttons and beads to choose.

Since this piece was about complementary colors, I also wanted to use opposites for the objects used in the piece. I couldn’t think of anything more opposite than beach balls bouncing around in a garden. I know that I would have gotten spanked when I was little if I had tromped through my Dad’s rose gardens with beach balls. So, let’s pretend that these are very, very light and will drift from flower to flower as if they’re colored bubbles.

What are some opposites that you like to use in your medium. Is it choice of materials, textures, or colors?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

Iron-on Butterfly Appliques; A Way to Embellish an Art Quilt

Commercial Applique of a Monarch Butterfly

Commercial Applique of a Monarch Butterfly

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

In my last posting, I wrote about my collection of butterfly costume jewelry pins that I’ve used quite a bit for embellishing my art quilts. However, there is also a large number of appliques of the same insect that can add another dimension to your work. While usually flatter than most pins, appliques tend to also have  a lot of detail, are more easily accessible, and are usually cheaper than pins.($1.50 – $4 US). This monarch butterfly applique seems to be the most popular here in the States, showing up in many craft stores in the applique section. On this one, I was fortunate to have some black glass leaves with gold veins. They made a perfect extension for the tips of the upper wings and the bottom of the body. This use of a leaf on an insect hopefully will remind you to look at your materials in lots of ways, not just their original intended use. Amber Swarovkski crystals are added on to add sparkle and shine.

Large yellow and orange iron-on butterfly appplique

Large yellow and orange iron-on butterfly applique

From the same quilt is a different kind of butterfly applique. This one is similarly colored as the Monarch, but I’m not sure that it is one. I only added 4 hematite colored rondelles to the center of each wing as the glue on the back of these iron-on appliques make them very hard and stiff to sew through with the small size needle that is needed to secure the seed beads in the center of each flat bead. I HATE to use a thimble, having tried just about every one out there on the market, and I always feel restricted when I try to use one. However, sewing on these appliques makes for unusual marks on my middle or “pushing” finger. If I sew a lot of these iron-on appliques on, I get a pocket of skin on the tip of each finger that pulls away from the rest of the layers underneath. Eventually it becomes hardened and I have to peel it off. Now, that’s an occupational hazard that you usually don’t think about!

Iron-on yellow skipper butterfly appliques

Iron-on yellow skipper butterfly appliques

Finally, from the same quilt, are these little (1″ or 2.5 cm in width) yellow skipper butterflies. I added tiny doll clothes buttons that are readily available in many craft store to the center of each wing.I used black quilting thread to attach the buttons to emphasize the black stitching that was already on the edges of the butterflies. You can also see an enameled metal, yellow butterfly pin to the lower left of the appliques, as if the smaller ones were baby versions of the larger pin. I like to repeat color, sizes, and shapes to help tie a composition together.

I went to Google “butterfly appliques” and saw a thumbnail of an image that I liked. It turned out that it was from an article that I had written awhile back on iron-on appliques in general. I guess that’s pretty flattering when you find your own stuff by accident and like it. I did find a page that was selling butterfly iron-on appliques with sequins on them. Having learned the hard way, sequins melt if the iron is too hot, so I would definitely sew those appliques on to any surface I was using. My favorite iron cleaner, whether it’s getting off melted sequins, or glue from under appliques is Dritz Hot-Iron Cleaner. It comes in a small tube and usually on the notions wall in a wide range of craft stores and places that sell sewing irons.

While appliques come in a wide range of subjects, I am especially drawn to those of butterflies. Even though it’s a pain to sew them onto fabric, I feel that they add a textural interest to my art quilts that I can’t achieve any other way besides beading a whole butterfly. That is incredibly time consuming, so I think that I’ll stick mostly to my appliques and pins.

What motif do you find yourself using over and over in your artistic compositions? Why did you choose that symbol?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.