Dots and Spots – Details on a Beaded Art Quilt

Spots and Dots - Detail(1)Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

You may remember a short while back where I posted about the beginning of a new beaded art quilt that had part of the fabric motifs coming from an old blouse of my mother’s that I had cut up, “Off the Cuff and All Zipped Up“. Details in my art quilts are one of the design aspects that I’m known for, so I thought that I’d point out some of my better ones in this piece as it progresses.

The short white zippers with black teeth have black polka dots on them. (In this photo, one is shown on the left.) I’m not quite sure why the manufacturers would put prints on the zippers, since the dots would be hidden under the placket of a zipper fold, but they make for a great design element when the zippers are exposed like this one is. I had already put large black beads (size 3) on the spots of the white and black print “animal print” fabric from the body of the blouse, seen here on the right of the above photo. I had then added a smaller, pink center bead, into the middle of each of those larger black beads to add a subtle detail. On the zippers, I just added plain black beads on a few of the polka dots so as not to cover them all up. There are also two large black buttons with a tick-tack-toe arrangement of clear glass crystals on them that play off of the black dots, making larger spots to play off the smaller ones in the composition.

Spots and Dots - Detail(2)In this photo, are some more of the larger spot details that I’m adding to this art quilt as it progresses. The flower itself is basically circular, so I surrounded it with some black and white buttons to play off of the black and white striped fabric behind them that came from the scarf that was on the original blouse. The small, (.5″ or 1 cm) white buttons with two outer black circles are attached on to the quilt sandwich (top layer, batting, and backing) with magenta embroidery floss to add a subtle dot of hot pink to the center of those buttons. There’s a larger white button (off to the upper left) that is kind of the reverse of the smaller white ones in that it has a wider white rim with a black center. I like using the same colors, but with different sizes and shapes in a piece to add subtle details that people seem to admire when they look at my pieces up close.

Spots and Dots - Detail(3)In this last shot, you can see some more of the details that I like to play with. There is the same black and white larger button along with the smaller ones that I wrote about in the previous paragraph. In the lower right, is also a large black and white paisley button that, while expensive as an individual unit ($2.50 US), I bought as many as the store had as I felt they would add some “oomph” to the piece. On the far left is some “zebra” print ribbon that had pink edging to play off of the black and white “cat” fabric that had been in the original blouse. To do a reverse of the button idea, I sewed down some large, black rings, (center, far left) with some of the magenta embroidery floss to tie the colors together. There’s also a band of magenta seed beads running vertically behind the small black and white buttons. Finally, to complete the “circle” theme in this photo are some more subtle, gold wreaths seen in the very center of this piece. They’re flat and not as brightly colored so they recede into the background. I like to think that all of my pieces have details to be seen on different levels and interpretations.

I’m having quite a good time with this piece as it contains colors that I was actually surprised that my mother had worn. I love the electric “animal” feel to the piece and the polka dot zippers are a real find. (I’m going to have to see if there are more out there on the market.) I hope to have the piece finished by the end of the year, as it would be nice to have it finished in the year in which my mother died, but sewing through the double layers of rayon from the fabric from the blouse is really hard on my hands. Check back in to to see if I’m successful with this art quilt’s competition by my own deadline date.

To see more lovely art quilts, go to…

What are some of your favorite design elements and how do you use them to tie your compositions together?

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You can see more of my art work on my web site at (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

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  1. Amy Vetter says:

    Wow, love the Black and White with the lime green and hot pink. The beading and buttons are lots of fun, wish my hand didn’t hurt so much, I love doing this type of work, keep it up! AMY

  2. Dear Amy, while I don’t usually use glue on my work,as it leaches out onto dress weight fabric after about 10 years, you could get a long pair of forceps and glue on felt or leather. What is the matter with your hands, as I may have some recommendations.

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