Archive for Art Quilt Techniques

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.

How to Make Decorative Edges That Add Pizzazz to Your Art Quilts (2)

Edge of a small art quilt with buttons and beadsNancy Smeltzer, MFA

In my last posting, I wrote about some ways to finish off the edge of art quilts besides just using a mitered binding. This post has a few other ways that you might find interesting.This side of this small art quilt (8″ x 10″ or 20 cm x 25 cm) used a blanket stitch to secure the three layers of the quilt sandwich and to keep it from unraveling. To add some interest to that foundation, I used two colors of embroidery floss interspaced along the sides. Then I used large (size3 ) seed beads in a purple color to add some shine and to tie in with some other purple beads that can be seen in the middle bottom of this detail shot. Finally, I used a row of small (.5″ or 1.25cm) in white, yellow, and blue to make an edge around the corner of the piece.

Decorative edge of a beaded art quiltThis detail shot shows a similar treatment of another small art quilt, only with a lot more embellishments. Again, a blanket stitch was used to secure the three layers of the quilt sandwich, but I only used black embroidery floss this time. In between each of the blanket stitches is a row of 3 steel grey seed beads, and an inside row of 3 white seed beads interspersed with a large yellow seed beads with black stripes on the sides. Those yellow beads were meant to play off of the yellow and black striped ribbon, and the yellow, gingham flower rosettes. In the very bottom right corner, I used red glass cylinders with dots on them to play off the red, round beads and the white seed beads found elsewhere in the composition.

Edging of a clear, plastic art quiltFinally, here is another small art quilt made mostly of plastic sheeting. I layered white paper and plastic cutouts between the top and bottom layers of plastic, but technically, the batting layer here is mostly air. In some places, I used clear, nylon thread with decorative stitches on my sewing machine to secure the elements enclosed between the two sheets of plastic. In other places, I left the thread out of the needle, and just let the needled punch programmed holes which had the same effect of keeping things from sliding inside the two plastic sheets. While technically, the plastic sheets didn’t really need a binding, as all that would get in between them is dust, I did sew on some decorative elements, such as flower rosettes along the edges for visual interest. Doing the sewing by hand was hard on my fingers, as the usual round needles didn’t easily pierce the plastic. I probably should have used a glover’s needle, which has a triangular cross-section, and is used for leather. However, the ones that I had were way too large, and I had a deadline for an exhibition entry looming. so I didn’t have time to order any. Deadlines are when an artist makes do with what she has!

There are countless ways to finish off an art quilt. I even saw one once that had used tea bags hanging off the edges. Do think about how the finished piece will be displayed and how the edges might interfere with framing the piece. After all, you don’t want some future curator taking your name in vain over how you finished off your art quilt.

What are some of the more adventuresome ways that you’ve finished off an art quilt? Any tricks of the trade that you’d care to pass along, so that we don’t all have to re-invent the wheel?

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.