Tag Archive for modern art quilts

Lace is the Place

Lace is such an intricate fabric with a complicated structure. Originally, it was limited to ecclesiastical vestments and clothing for royalty because of the labor involved in its construction. Now, with much of it being made on machines, it is much more readily available for fiber artists to use in their work. For my art quilts, there are a number of lace pieces that I’ve used over the years.

Lace that simulates grape clustersLace circles used for clouds and filler circles on art quiltsHere are two examples of very different types of lace. The gold and navy version on the left may have originally been meant to be pebbles, but I’ve used it as grape clusters a number of times. It does need to be used against a plain, contrasting background, as the threads that make up the circles are thin, and would be lost against a print base fabric. In contrast, the white circles on the right are a much heavier weight thread. By carefully cutting away the connecting links between the circles, I have used them as clouds many times. Since my work has a lot of circles in the design elements, such as buttons,beads, and other acquisitions, I also sometimes slip one of these white circles partially behind another motif that doesn’t have enough contrast between itself and the fabric next to it. The white circle acts as a buffer between the two, creating a bridge between the other two motifs so that two similar colors or prints can be read as being separate from a distance.

Lace fans as a design element in an art quiltPart of the fun for me in choosing embellishments for my art quilts is really looking at the shapes of my materials and using them in different ways. The white lace finger projections sticking out from behind motifs in this detail shot were originally petals from a lace flower design. However, I felt they could be re-used as clouds in this composition, especially since the nearby green leaves, pulled from a silk flower fern, had similarly shaped lobed edges. They both serve to give a subtle, soft dreamy quality to the overall look of this art quilt.

Lace embellished with sequins used in an art quiltIn the middle left of this detail shot is a heavily sequined flower motif cut from some very expensive lace. For me, I felt it would make great, shiny clouds, so that was how iI used it. When I’m buying lace fabric, I’m looking for yardage that has individual motifs that are separate from each other and can be easily cut away from the rest. I then count how many motifs / yd or m and then figure out a cost/unit. If it comes out at around $1-2 US, then I go for the expenditure. In this photo, you can also see some of the white lace circles that were mentioned at the beginning of the article. Here, I wanted the white circle at the bottom middle to make a plain, flat transition from the ornate sequined surface to the flatter appearing, gold lame around it.

Blue lace drop motif filled in with seed beads in an art quiltThe photo on the left is almost life size and I draw your attention to the blue filigree that takes up most of the central area. Those blue lines are the thick threads in a length of lace motifs. Sometimes, lace, instead of being sold as yardage, is created as lengths of individual motifs so that you can add a row on clothing. This particular lace was made of lengths of wide “rain drop” shapes about 2.5″W (6.5 cm) X 3.5″ T (9 cm). The spaces in between were wide enough to fill in with various lengths of size 10 seed beads, ranging from 2-6 beads in length. I quickly tired of filling in all the spaces, but persevered, and love the subtle texture differences between the lace threads and the glass beads.

Heavily edged lace fabric motifs for use in an art quiltHere is another lace fabric with the heavily edged motifs that I like to use as there is enough space in the ground fabric that I can separate the individual pieces and use them where I want. Below is a detail of one of these motifs used in an undersea scene.

Heavily edged lace fabric motif used in an art quilt

For me, the motif used in this context, has the feel of fan coral, or perhaps wide sea weed fronds waving in the currents. While I’m not sure there are blue seaweeds, (I know there is blue-green algae), as an artist, you get to pick the colors of how you want to depict your worlds. For me, that’s half the fun of what I create, as the scenes can be “real”, from my imagination, or a combination of both. How cool is that to be able to create your worlds the way that you would like to see them?

While lace can often be expensive, I feel that many of them are worth the money because of the elegant feel and textures they can provide to an art quilt’s surface that is hard to obtain with other materials. Texture is a very important part of why I use fabric, buttons, and beads for my embellishments. Lace is probably one of the easiest materials to employ if you’re looking for a soft look in you images. I invite you to splurge on some and have a blast seeing how many ways you can employ that material. Creating art is all about having fun, right?

Have you ever used a “luxury” material in your art work?

What were some of your successes and “learning experiences”?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form 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!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com

Going Around in Circles – One More Time

Purple dotted fabric before beads are addedSince circles are such an important design element in my work (I guess it’s that button thing!), I decided to write another blog about them. So stop the jokes about me going around in circles and check out this story.

To the left is the kind of fabric motif that I like to bead on. It’s got strongly defined elements that stand out from the background. While I love diffuse , ephemeral prints, especially some of the new batiks coming out, I fond them hard to bead on as there are no separate areas of color.

Purple dot fabric covered with beadsHere is the same fabric as above, but with size 8 seed beads added onto the background areas. I decided to leave the center dots in the circular motifs visible as their little dots already looked like beads. I did try beading on a few of those dots, but you really couldn’t see them when they were done in the same color as the fabric, and I don’t like to put beads where they won’t show as that seems like wasted effort and materials to me.

Front of fabric with a sea urchin motifBack of fabric with a sea urchin motifOn the left is a fabric that I’ve used a number of ways. The motif is of a sea urchin, but when it’s flipped on the back, as in the photo on the right, the design is not so sharply delineated. That back of the fabirc side I’ve used as meteors plunging through the Universe. As a sea urchin, I’ve used the design as shown from the fornt of the fabirc here in this detail below from the art quilt, “Undersea Garden – Blue“.

Sea urchin motif used in a small art quilt - "Underwater - Blue"This small art quilt, about 12″ x 12″, or 30.5cm x 30.5cm, had to get a lot of impact in a small space. I feel that the sea urchins helped to suggest those creatures or perhaps the presence of a small coral reef. I also like the way that the raised, navy edge of the lace motif above picks up the same colors as in the sea urchins, but in reverse. Two types of navy buttons with a pearlescent finish sewn nearby help to create the illusion of a shallow sea floor where sunlight can still reach.

Fabric with teal colored dots on a black backgroundThis teal colored dots on a black background fabric was used at the top of the same quilt, “Undersea Gardens – Blue”. Since the fabric already had dots on it, it was easy just to cut a big circle from the thin, dress-weight fabric. I have a number of circles cut out of sheets of plastic that are thin enough to cut with strong scissors,  but strong enough to stand up to repeated tracings. In my early work, which I’ve yet to photograph digitally, I used a number of geometric shapes to hand applique on to my quilt tops.

Teal dotted fabric with black background used on an art quilt, "Undersea Garden - Blue"Here is that same fabric cut out and used in the sea scene described above.  As a shape, its dark outline stood out starkly against the lighter colored background, so by layering different materials over it, I could soften it and have the shape blend more into the background. The clear white plastic beads have a jellyfish like quality to them with the white thread coming out form the centers in staggered lengths. Another effect was created with a pale blue button at the very bottom of this pic, by having aqua colored floss splaying outwards in a similar fashion. You can also see my signature humming bird button in the center of this photo that now appears in all of my art quilts.

Sometimes, an artist has the perfect materials on hand to create a desired effect. Often, however, that’s not true. For me, I will have either used up a favorite embellishment that can’t be replaced, or I need a small number more of what I have already used in a piece. It’s those times that all of the problem solving experiences that making art instills in those who practice it for awhile come into play, and you have to get creative with what you have on hand. Sometimes, I delight in what I’ve come up for as a “solution”, when in reality, what I end up using may have been the second or third choice to “fill in” for some part of what I’m creating. May you have many of what I call those “happy puppy wiggles” of satisfaction over your own creative wonderfulness!

How have you ever used a material in a different way?

Did you go through a specific series of steps or did your aha moment of discovery just come to you?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form 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!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com