Archive for Art Quilt Techniques

Making Decisions on a Beaded Art Quilt

Closeup on the purple and black harlequin ribbon

Closeup on the purple and black harlequin ribbon

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

In the past, I’ve showed you my works in progress, but they’re rather far along by the time that you see the photos. This time, I thought I’d let you in on some of the thought processes as I go along, and how I do what I do.

A few postings ago, I talked about the beginnings of “Sunflowers and Dragonflies” beaded art quilt. Here are some macro shots and my thoughts as I was going along. In the middle of the purple and black Harlequin ribbon running down the middle, I started by outlining the purple and black edges between each diamond. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the purple and black fabric to the left of the blue button with the black rim sticks out quite a bit. Ribbons make great lines on an art quilt’s surface, but it’s often hard to get them to lay flat. By beading, I’m quilting and sewing on the beads at the same time, and as a result the surface flattens by the time that I’m finished. I would like to fill in all of the purple diamonds with these seed beads (size 10), but there’s a lot of ribbon and not so many beads, so after outlining all of the purple diamonds, I may fill them in completely or at least some of them.

Fabric with and without lines covered with blue crystal beads

Fabric with and without lines covered with blue crystal beads

This next macro shot shows the use of the blue rondelles in the center part of the art quilt. You can see what the fabric looked like before I started filling in the lines between the rondelles with the same blue crystal beads used to fasten them in place. At first I wanted to fill in the oval blue shapes with the same blue, crystal beads. I also considered filling in the triangles between the rondelles with an aqua seed bead a little lighter than the ones already being used. I had set aside some paler, aqua beads for that purpose, (my stash of most of my beads is in storage, as I’m in the process of moving), but when I started sewing them on to the fabric, they were too gray looking. It’s really hard to tell exactly how a seed bead will look on fabric until it’s laying on top of it. I usually take a straight pin, thread a few beads on it and place it where I want it to go on the fabric. That’s why I rarely order seed beads on-line as the colors on the monitor can vary so much. If I decide to fill in those blue triangles more, I need a more teal colored blue bead, so I’ll have to wait until my studio and I are reunited.

Seed beading on sunflower petals

Seed beading on sunflower petals

This third macro shot is of one of the sunflower petals. I’ve used two colors, a flat yellow and a warm brown crystal bead. When working with seed beads, there are never enough colors to match the thousands that are found on fabrics, so I try as best as I can to match those on the fabric.  When I was setting aside yellow beads, I included a wide array, but at least for this section, only the two seemed to work for the petals. If you look to the left and the right of the two petals that have been beaded, you can see that I came pretty close to matching up the colors. However, sometimes, the beads are wider than the lines and shapes on the surface of the quilt. It’s then when I have to make artistic decisions to whether or not to cover up and cover an area with one color or the other. By looking at what is already there and squinting my eyes to get the overall effect, I make choices as to whether or not more of one color is needed than another based on what the original fabric had on it, or sometimes another color choice completely different that I feel adds to the look that I’m trying to acheive.

I’ve said before that using seed beads as intensively as what’s in the sunflower petals takes a long time. 1 sq in (2.5cm sq) takes one hour’s work, so this is not for those who want to make a quilt in a weekend. However, for me, there’s a Zen-like quality of beading like this, which gives me peace as I work.

What were some of the “take-aways” that you learned from reading this blog. I’m working on a series of inexpensive lessons on how I quilt and would love feedback on any thing that you liked, want further explained, or thought was totally useless.

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.

 

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.

“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.