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.

Butterflies that Flutter-by on my Art Quilts

Butterfly made from a bow costume pin

Butterfly made from a bow costume pin

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

Butterflies have to be one of the happiest looking creatures on Earth as they bounce up and down as they fly. I am so looking forward to seeing them again, yet here in the Mid-Atlantic of the USA, just north of Washington, DC, we had light snow last night. So to brighten up the bleak forecast, and to distract me from the flowers that are already out that might freeze, I’m writing instead about how I use butterflies in my art quilts. After all, if it’s dreary outside, I can at least admire the colors in the photos of my creations.

This first photo actually shows a costume pin bow.The ruffled edges and the pearls down the middle reminded me of a butterfly, so I added on a cone shaped, wire wrapped bead for the body, a flat wire wrapped bead for the head, and sewed on some seed beads for the antenna. It looks for all the world as if it was intended to be a real living insect.

Yellow enameled metal costume pin of a butterfly

Yellow enameled metal costume pin of a butterfly

Another butterfly pin from the same quilt has a more traditional enameled pin that you seeing coming out of China these days. The brightly colored pins are imported by a dealer, Faship, on eBay, and are quite inexpensive considering how much oomph they add. (He’s also about five miles from where I grew up in North Carolina in the Eastern United States). The graduated colors in the enamels and the quality rhinestones make the +/- $6 US worth the cost in my opinion because of the attention these pins create.

 

A costume pin of a butterfly in profile

A costume pin of a butterfly in profile

The next costume pin of a butterfly is a little unusual in that it shows the insect in profile. Most pins want to get the most visual impact, so the 4 wings are usually shown flat. However, this perky little blue insect in the middle of this photo, again from this same art quilt, gives the viewer a bit of surprise as they come across it.

Pink rhinestone pin of a butterfly

Pink rhinestone pin of a butterfly

Finally, there’s this elegant rhinestone covered butterfly pin. Each vein has LOTS of stones on it to catch and play with the light. It’s lacy appearance really adds some terrific visual appeal to the piece. However, its edges also remind me a bit of the torn wingtips I’ve seen of butterflies that have been attacked by hungry birds. I try not to think of that possibility as I look at this jewelry. Its see-through wings also remind me of the Glasswing Butterflies where you actually can see through the wings.

So, if you haven’t gathered by now, I adore butterflies, and since I do a lot of garden art quilts, I can easily work them into my compositions. I’d like to think that my work is interesting enough that you’d want to walk across the room to see the piece and as you got closer, and closer, you’d see more and more details. These butterfly pins certainly help to make that happen for my viewers.

Do you have a favorite creature that keeps appearing in your medium? Why did you happen to choose that particular being? 

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.

“A Park at Night” Featured in a Beaded Art Quilt

Full view - Beaded art quilt -"A Park at Night"

“A Park at Night” – a beaded art quilt

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

“Quilting Arts” magazine had another Reader’s Challenge about “Art in the Park” and I wanted to make my beaded art quilt about what q park might look like at night. I felt that there are many creatures and energies that come out at night to play in the moonlight that you don’t experience in sunlight. I love doing these small 8″ or 20.5 cm square pieces, as they take about two weeks to complete, as opposed to months that some of the larger pieces take.

Photoshop elements inkjet print on to cotton fabric

Collage of photos printed on to cotton fabric base

There are 5 different photos that I used in Photoshop Elements in order to make the collage for the surface of the fabric. In the upper left in the photo to the left, there’s a sunset scene on a river that also extends to the upper right, and bottom lower left. Since cats tend to be night animals, I have two in this piece. The blue cat in the lower left is cropped from a large quilt that I made years ago. The green cat eyes are from a painting that a friend made. The blocks in the middle and right are actually glass window blocks from a bathroom, but I thought that they could also suggest sidewalk squares. The three lights on the right I wanted to suggest street lights in the park. Once I was pleased with the image, I then sent it from my laptop over to the printer, and out came the printed fabric to use as my quilt top.

"A Park at Night" detail

Detail of the beaded art quilt “A Park at Night”

I think you can quickly see from the above photos one of the problems in using a printed image from your computer as the basis for a quilt. The choices of colors in Photoshop elements are way more extensive than what my inkjet printer can produce. Also, while there are a wide range of seed beads out there on the market, there are never enough to get an exact match for the fabric, ribbon, or lace that I’ve chosen. Then, there’s the issue of sewing the beads onto the fabric and trying to duplicate the effect of light. In the photo, the moon appears as a delicate circle, luminescent in the center of the piece. In the final piece, seen tin the detail shot above, while the colors of the beads were close to that original color, the moon doesn’t look much like one. Scale is always another issue when doing one these small art quilts. In the center, you can see a red glass rectangular bead with yellow flowers that I added to suggest a garden that might be found in a park. This one near the center worked well in its location, but the two over near the right get lost in the beading for the “street lights”.

There are always lessons to be learned in every piece that I do and I love them all. I don’t have children, so my art quilts are what I’m leaving behind. As with all children, while we try and instill lessons in them, I find that I probably learn more from them then what I imagine they learn from my hands and my energy.

 What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned from your art medium. Do you listen to what it’s trying to tell you, or do you fight to impose your will?

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.

Circles and More Circles on Beaded Art Quilts

Beaded circle on an art quilt by Nancy Smeltzer

Beaded circle on an art quilt by Nancy Smeltzer

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA I often like to take the same motif and use it in various ways on the surfaces of the same beaded art quilts. Since most buttons are round, as that shape makes it easier to go though a buttonhole, I guess I have a special affinity for round shapes. The photos in this posting are all different ways that I treated the same black and white striped circle. This first photo shows the full circle as it was cut from the fabric. I embellished the inner and outer parts of the circle with large shell rings and small black and white buttons. I also repeated black and white buttons in different sizes around this central motif. All of the stripes, when finished, were covered with black or white size 10 seed beads.

Half of a black and white beaded circle by Nancy Smeltzer

Half of a black and white beaded circle by Nancy Smeltzer

This next detail shot shows only part of the outer ring of the black and white circle, while in the lower right is an incompleted full circle. I used large 1″ (2.5cm) white buttons with black centers to break up the stripes in the half circle. Yellow embroidery floss fastened down those buttons and added a subtle color to pick up on the nearby yellow butterfly, flowers, and buttons. I like to think that I give a viewer a lot of subtle details to observe as you look closer and closer onto the surface of the art quilt. One compliment that I often get is that people say that they could look at them for hours and not see all of the details.

Half circle with shells on a beaded art quilt

Half circle with shells on a beaded art quilt by Nancy Smeltzer

In this last detail shot, here is yet another way that I used the striped black and white fabric. In this part of the art quilt, I used white mother of pearl circles that can be bought in many craft stores. I fastened them down with about 8 stitches of yellow-green embroidery floss, and then filled the center of each circle with a small purple button. In the middle of the lower right is a blue and purple glass button from Czechoslovakia. They are being made these days with many modern materials, such as dichroic foil, but many of the mold are from the early 1900s. These buttons always elicit quite a response from viewers as they automatically reach out to touch them. As a child, I was always drawn to buttons and beads. I would run my fingers through them as if I had a treasure chest from one of my story books. Later on, I began to learn about how different cultures view the symbol of the circle, such as rebirth, unity, and centering. When I’m working with my buttons and beads, I’m rarely trying to make a statement with the specific shapes, but just drop into a state of being and play with the materials. They bring me a great deal of pleasure, and I hope my delight in the materials is conveyed to you, the viewer.

What shape(s) are you drawn to repeat in your artistic medium? Do you have an idea why you like to use them, or do you just feel that they’re what’s called for in the composition?

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.