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.

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.