Creating the Effect of Light in a Beaded Art Quilt

Diving Deep into the Stream of Love and ConnectionNancy Smeltzer, MFA

There are times in my beaded art quilts that I want to show the effect of light playing across the surface of the piece. While I studied perspective in art school, I don’t usually consider that design element when I’m designing a piece. Still there are times when I want a piece to look as if it’s been lit up by light. Here are some pieces in which I’ve tried to accomplish that effect.

The detail shot of the piece above is showing two beams of light flowing down into a stream. The light was meant to show the souls of two lovers in the piece “Diving Deep into the Stream of Love and Connection.” To create the effect I used two pieces of translucent ribbon and then secured them with lots of stitches so that they would lie flat against the background fabric. Part of the problem of working with sheer ribbons is that they tend to wander as you’re sewing them down, so it can take quite a bit of effort to get them to stay in a straight line. The lace clouds above at the start of the ribbon lines help to give the illusion of heavenly light.

Afterglow - a beaded art quilt that shows directional linesIn this detail shot of another piece, “Afterglow”, there are a lot of lines radiating out from the central explosion on the right. In the background of the part on the left closest to the surface fabric, are a lot of sheer ribbons bands that expand outwards. On top, are lengths of gold colored metal squares that were fastened onto a mesh background. I cut them in strips and sewed them along the same outward, racing lines to suggest light and movement. Lots of stars and light colored buttons helped to add to the illusion of a celestial light.

Detail of 'In the Garden of Shadow and Light"Finally, here’s a different play on how beams of light can be portrayed, but this time by contrasts. This detail shot is from a beaded art quilt I did awhile back, “In the Garden of Shadow and Light”. The concept was to have beams of shadows streaming into the garden instead of beams of light. To accomplish that effect, I used lengths of sheer dark purple ribbons all coming from the upper left. The areas that were in between were brightly colored, mostly in gold. If you click on the link in this paragraph, you can see the full shot. Someone suggested that the beams of shadow and light look like two hands. the dark one reaching down from the upper left and the golden one reaching up from the lower right.

Of course, there’s the ultimate way to add light to your art quilts and that’s by adding actual lights. There are some quilt artists who are using LED lights embedded in the layers or on the surface of the quilts. The lights then get plugged in to make for spots of lights. I’ve only worked with LED lights in ropes, which weren’t particularly flexible, but perhaps some day, I’ll try them out.

Check out other delightful art quilts at… http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/

What’s your favorite technique to give the illusion of light in your artistic medium? We’d love to hear your suggestions, as we all benefit from the ideas of others, even if it’s not from your usual way of working.

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.

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2 comments

  1. nadia says:

    Hi, Nancy. Your beadwork is lovely. I am intrigued by this way of expressing light. Your question has me thinking…hmmm. I tend to add bits of light-colored fabric to create a light effect, often white as I live in a fairly warm country where the light can be blinding. Although lately I’ve been playing with yellow fabrics to express light. I avoided yellow for a long time. Thanks for an interesting post and have a happy holiday season!
    best,
    nadia

  2. Dear Nadia, thanks so much for your compliments and your ideas about how you use light. I’d love to see some well-lit pics, as perhaps I could sue them in a future blog….info@fiberfantasies.com . Where do you live? Here in the MId-Atlantic of the east coast of the USA, the summer sun is yellow, but not as glaring as in the tropics. However, one summer when I was in Sweden, the summer sun (which was visible from about 3am – 11:30pm had a very silvery quality to it because of the slanted angle of the sun’s rays.

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