Street Finds Used for Embellishments for Art Quilts

Leather shoe lining

Leather shoe lining

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

I’ve always like picking up unusual objects from the streets and using them as embellishments for my art quilts. These street finds used to embarrass my husband, but he’s my ex now, so it doesn’t matter. These one of a kind objects often wait pinned to the design board I use for composing my art quilts, since there’s only one of them and I would forget it they were put away in a jar. Sometimes, I’m not even sure what the object is, as this photo on the left. It’s made of leather, and I’m calling it a shoe lining, but I’m not sure that was it’s original purpose. Still, it will make a terrific face in some future project. All of the little tiny holes around the larger ones could be stopped with a sewn on bead, or I could sew floss through the larger holes. I guess I’ll have to wait until I find the right location for its use.

Black rubber gasket/lining

Black rubber gasket/lining

The next object is even more perplexing regarding its original use. It’s made of black rubber and perhaps was a gasket of some sort. (I’ll have to ask my neighbor who’s a “car guy”.) Anyway, it’s about 1/4in (5 mm) thick. It also might have been part of a heel reinforcement on a shoe. Turned this way, as shown in the photo, it could be a mask. Turned 180 degrees, it could be an animal, maybe a bunny rabbit. I will definitely have to sew floss through the holes to hold it in place (eyelashes maybe?) as I don’t like to use glue if I can help it. I don’t know of any archival glues strong enough to hold an object of this weight onto an art quilt, and after about ten years, the glue would start to leach out on to the fabric and weaken it.

Blue children's toy piece

Blue children’s toy piece

This blue plastic object, I believe, is part of a children’s toy. There are trenches down each of the arms that will make it easy to fasten this on to an art quilt’s surface. It’s about 2.5″ (9.5 cm) at it’s widest diameter. At first I thought it might be one of those dangling toys that hang from baby carriages to amuse children, but it took me awhile to remember, not being a parent, that small objects are choking hazards. Once the slots are fee of the circle in the middle, they’re notched, so perhaps they’re meant to attach to other notched objects to construct something. This piece had obviously been run over a few times by cars, as the surface is scratched and worn, but I see that as a patina. Maybe this piece is destined to be a face also.

Flattened AA battery

Flattened AA battery

The final piece is one of my favorites, and I’ve only found two of them. It’s a squashed AA battery whose label has worn off. The terminal in both of them that I’ve found was flattened so that it looks like a little face with two small arms in front. At one point, I had thought of making some by putting batteries in a heavy duty plastic contractor’s bag and banging on them with a hammer. I even queried some of my mechanically inclined friends as how to safely neutralize the acid that would come out (Baking soda got the most votes). However, I decided I’d probably splatter it everywhere, get it on me, or do something heinous to the environment, so I just scour the streets looking for more. I know that they’re out there somewhere.

While I certainly don’t put myself in the same league as Pablo Picasso, his famous bull’s head made out of a bicycle seat comes to mind. Made in 1942, it was reviewed as being quite outrageous by some, and avant garde by others. So I guess putting a few street finds as embellishments for my art quilts isn’t that out of the ordinary.

BTW, most of these objects were found outside a local Jo-Ann’s craft store in the area. I don’t know if it’s the creative clientele that frequents the place or that they often bring children who drop things, but I can usually find something of interest every 3 or 4 times I go there. All I have to do is look down, and then remember to take the piece out of my pocket before I do the wash.

What interesting objects have you found by accident and used in your artwork? Do you have a favorite type of store that usually isn’t considered for art supplies that you’d like to share with us?

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.

Sunflowers and Dragonflies – Another Beaded Art Quilt

Sunflowers and Dragonflies - beaded art quilt

Sunflowers and Dragonflies – beaded art quilt

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

I’m in the process of down-sizing and moving to another state, so the first room I started packing was my studio as I knew it would be the hardest (all of those little button and bead jars!) Since I had no idea when my house would sell, or how long it would take me to move, I cut out 3 quilts, which would give me enough to work on for a year. I attached the buttons and large beads to them, and then set aside most of the seed beads I would need to sew on their surfaces. Then, the rest of the studio was packed into boxes and placed in storage until it’s time to move. I’m already missing some of my things, and have had to by a few small items.

Part of the title for this piece comes from my mother’s love of sunflowers. Her screened in porch had sunflower pillows, and sunflower trivets and coasters, and sunflower everything else you could think of. When I was cleaning out her closets after she died, I came across some fabric that had sunflowers that were meant to be made into pillows, so I kept the fabric, never thinking I’d be able to use it, as the flowers were so big. (5.5″ or 14 cm). It’s appropriate that I started writing this blog on her birthday. She’s been gone now for two birthdays, and I thought a lot about her today, and how she always encouraged me in my art work.

Detail of sunflower and dragonflies

Detail of sunflower and dragonflies

This detail shot shows a close-up of one of the sunflowers and the dragonfly appliques scattered all over this piece. I usually add on butterflies, but I found on eBay a good price on about 50 of these, so I bought as many as I could afford at the time. I find that I like having a lot of the same kind of object to repeat on the surface of an art quilt, and this piece has LOTS of dragonflies.

This photo also shows some of the problems in using ribbons as embellishments on art quilts. I love to use them, especially if they have a pattern, like the purple and black harlequin piece, but you have to be very careful to line them up as straight as you can, because no matter how carefully you’ve pinned it, the ribbon will slide some as you sew it down. That’s when big buttons need to be sewed on to distract your eye, so when I’ve moved into my new place, one of the first things to be unpacked will be the studio.

Detail shot 2 of the beginning of a beaded art quilt

Detail shot 2 of the beginning of a beaded art quilt

In this other detail shot, you can see the green ribbon that I think I have a life-time supply of. I loved the little picot edging on it, and so I bought as many rolls as I could afford of this antique ribbon. The store has gone out of business, so I probably can’t get anymore, but it’s shown up in a lot of my pieces over the years. To the right, is a blue fretwork like pattern with an aqua rondelle (flat bead) in the middle of each motif. These particular ones I love, but I can’t find anymore with the aurora borealis finish (AB) on them in my usual sources. I think it’s because the AB finish is not as permanent, or maybe it’s more expensive, but since I love shiny things, I’ve looked high and low to find more. I used up the last of my stash on this art quilt, so unless I allow myself to wander on eBay, I probably won’t get anymore.

What are some of your favorite materials or motifs that you like to use in your artwork?

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 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.