Tag Archive for art quilts with buttons

“Fabric of the Universe” – A Study in Black on Black

A beaded art quilt, "Fabric of the Universe"“Fabric of the Universe”, a medium sized beaded art quilt, (31” W x 26.5” T or 78.5 cm x 67 cm T) was created in 2003 in response to an energy exchange with a lover at the time. We were laughing afterwards that our combined energy waves were somewhere out in the Universe and an alien was laughing for some unknown reason.

Thousands of black seed beads in the form of “waves” were sewn on to simulate those ripples. As the ripples intersected and reflected off of each other, a “fabric” made Detail of beaded art quilt, "Fabric of the Universe"of these energy impulses was created out in the vastness of my fabric Universe.In some places, the wave patterns intersected with stars and galaxies. In other places on this my map of the outer reaches of Space, the waves clustered, suggesting possible new celestial formations being created. Still, in other areas, there is a suggestion of chaos in these energy fields, and perhaps one can see a black hole or two where light could be drawn inside, never to exit. Such areas seem benign enough and don’t come with warning signs, “Enter at your own peril!”. I’ve encountered a few of those danger zones in my own life, also without the necessary signage…sigh!

Detail of beaded art quilt, "Fabric of the Universe"The black on black beading is incredibly intricate, yet doesn’t photograph well. Even though I knew that that would be the case as was sewing away, I still liked the idea that a complicated pattern of beauty was being created. It is very hard to bead black beads on black fabric at night, and I probably will never do that again on this scale. I find that to often be the case, however, that some of the most amazing things in life are only seen on close examination.

Another facet of this art quilt that I particularly like are the shi-sha mirrors from India. In the above detail photo, there are two in the upper middle and one at the bottom middle, each outlined with gold thread and tiny pearls. They collect little pools of light and send them out into the room, much like the stars in the sky. I find these tiny mirrors to be quite effective at relecting light, even though they are at most 1″ or 2.5 cm in diameter. Again, tiny details often have large effects, especially when shown in contrast to something else. In this case, it’s the sparkles of light against the dark background.

Bead next to bead, texture next to texture, my art quilts grow. I could probably get by with a lot fewer details, but I would feel that I was shortchanging a piece that I didn’t give my all to. Since I didn’t have children, my creations are what I’m leaving behind to mark that I was once here. While I could have picked a bit more durable medium than fabric to give myself a voice for the ages, I like the concept, that just as in life, we put a lot of effort into what one day will pass.

How do you feel about your own artistic endeavors. What part of your voice are you leaving behind?

 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

Butting Heads with a Quilt – “Jungle Garden”

 Some pieces flow easily from my fingers. They seem to have a life of their own, and I am only necessary to bring the right materials together to make the magic happen. That smooth sense of ease and being in the flow makes for a Zen-like feeling when beading an art quilt. “Jungle Garden” was not one of those quilts.

This large piece, (40” W x 37” T or 101.5cm W x 94 cm T)  was taken apart and rearranged at least five times over a span of four years. I would move the fabric around, leave the piece, come back, move some more pieces , and leave it again. I wanted to show the intense, searing sunlight in a lush jungle garden that I had had in a dream of mine. In that dream, I experienced an entire screenplay where I saved the Universe with my quilts. It was so vivid, that upon awakening, I furiously wrote the story down and some day, I may make a book out of it. However, the busy nature of the different pieces of fabric that demanded to be included in this piece kept overwhelming me. It was not until I had the bright idea of covering much of the surface with beads that the piece started to come together for me. (This was one of my first heavily beaded pieces – 1997) While beading this much surface area took forever, the slow process gave me a chance to calm my inner spirit so that the external image on the quilt could blend with it.

The beading followed pretty closely the shapes that were printed on the fabric motifs. In the background, I used an old Impressionist painting technique of using several related colors of beads rather than just one hue. The result makes for a much more vibrant effect than a single color would have done. The repeated use of Akuya shell buttons (the flat white ones sewn on with blue thread in this photo and the one below) helped to add shine to the background. There are also some shi-sha mirrors, one of which is shown in the lower left margin that reflect light. Bugle beads and stitches of flat silk ribbon helped to give a primitive feel with the slashes that they make across the quilt’s surface.

In this detail shot, you can see in the middle, a commercial beaded star motif that I bought from a Native American store. The colors and motif seemed to go with the primitive look I was going for, even though the original inspiration for this piece is a jungle theme. The hot, glaring quality of sunlight, I feel, comes across in the diverse materials used and how they were placed. For me, there’s a primitive, frenetic feel to the piece that I think captured the sensations I experienced in the dream.

Some might say that this piece is way too busy. I must admit there’s a “wildling” quality to it that I like; sort of a primitive, “abandonment to the senses”.  For those that may say that this piece is too busy, all I can say is that you should have seen it before. Some times, you just need to get wild and crazy!

This piece appeared in the book, BEAD  ART, ed. by Alice Korach, Kalmbach Publishing, Waukesha, WI; 1998, which can still be found in print in a number of sites on the Net. Ms. Korach has been instrumental in the world of beading, helping it to gain recognition as an art form.

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

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.

Work in Progress (3) – Adding on the Buttons

In this fourth blog on constructing an art quilt,(#2 was divided into two posts) you can see that I’ve progressed to the point of adding on the buttons and some of the larger beads. For me, this can be quite an exciting time, as I make my choices from the wealth of treasures I have in the plastic shoe boxes surrounding the chair in front of the TV where I sew. This phase is more about narrowing down what is sewn on the quilt surface, as I usually have enough embellishments that I’ve pulled from my studio to make several quilts. Shades and subtle variations are important to me, at this point, so not just any blue will do to partner with the blues in the wings of the butterfly appliques that I have chosen. Just the right shade of contrasting embroidery floss is needed to sew the shank-less buttons on so that there will be a small splash of color on the surface of many of the flat buttons. I probably labor over details like that way more than I need to, but those countless little touches are what people frequently comment on, so i continue to be a bit obsessive about the colors and textures that I choose.

This 7th piece in the series, “Circles of Black. Circles of White” is dedicated to one of my favorite insects, butterflies. To honor them, I chose a wide range of iron-on appliques, pins, and printed fabric motifs of these delightful creatures. I happened to have a large number of blue “flutterbys”, and since yellow and blue are complementary colors on the color wheel, I was pleased with how they worked out in this composition. As i work, I move each new addition that is being considered around on the surface, searching for the ideal location, until intuitively, that piece feels “right” and balanced for me with what is already there. Each decision is made one at a time, so I’ll place 5-6 buttons of the same kind at different places on the surface, sew them down, each in turn, and then go on to the next style or color of button. Some nights, it’s the yellow button night, while other times, I work just with gold ones. Throughout this series, black and white buttons were used a lot, which should be no surprise, given the title of the sries.

The background fabric for this quilt has a yellow background with irregular blocks bounded in dark orange. To play off of this design element, I sewed vertical lines of small orange buttons attached with red thread. While the thread is not the same color as the background, against the orange buttons, its color seems to blend. I like using woven ribbons as vertical stripes, so these harlequin black and white ribbons play off the striped circles. You can see another repeat by the use of blue in the flat buttons in the middle and lower left harmonizing with the blue in the various butterfly wings. In this photo, you can also see how the black and white circle buttons repeat the same shape and color as the big, black and white fabric circles.

In this last photo, you can see how the piece has progressed after a few nights of sewing, The yellow discs in the meddle of the piece were originally sewn on with red sewing thread. Not being particularly subtle myself, I decided that I wanted more “oomph:, so I went over the thread with thicker, red embroidery floss. The big black and white circle in the upper right now has some small orange buttons sewn near th edge, while yellow-orange pearls have been sewn on to the black circle next to that big one of which I just wrote. Some of the background has started to be filled in with dark orange beads going around the edge of yellow, irregular squares. Eventually, a large portion of the surface will be covered with seed beads, just as in my other quilts.

Now begins the “Time of the Long Sew”, meaning that not much will appear to change very quickly. With most of the large buttons and beads in place, the seed beads begin to be sewn on, and 1 sq. in, or 2.5 cm = 1 hour’s work. I’ll post detail shots as time goes on and there seems to be some area that has emerged that has changed significantly, so do keep checking in to see how this piece progresses. Meanwhile, I’m rather pleased to say that I now have enough photographs in the queue for two and a half month’s worth of blogs, as the ideas just seem to keep coming. Stay tuned!

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

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.

Needlework Obsessive – So how Long Does it Take for you to do one of Your Pieces?

I once had a friend who described my work as “Needlework Obsessive” and since I thought the name was so funny, I’ve used it over the years to describe my work. Why settle for 400 beads when 4,000 will make a much bigger statement? After all, on the Home Page on my web site, I bill myself as the “Self-Proclaimed Button and Bead Queen of Maryland”.

When people closely examine one of my art quilts, they often comment on how much patience I have. Then, the question comes up of how much time does it take to make one of my quilts? One that is heavily beaded, such as the detail shot above, is 1hour/sq. inch or 2.5cm. These small beads, size 10s and 11s, are just about life size in the photo. (The larger the number, the smaller the bead.)They measure about 2 mm in diameter, and are easy to drop. The smaller size 15s are great for woven pieces as you can get a number of different shades into a small area, but the quilting thread that I like to use won’t fit through the eye of needles that are sturdy enough to go through the many layers of fabric of one of my quilts and still fit through size 15 beads. Besides, the needles that will go through 10s and 11s  are hard enough to see to thread as it is.

The photo detail on the left shows some of the richness that goes into the backgrounds of various works. This one has a lavender base fabric, but it just about covered with beading. In the top middle, you can see where I alternated rows of size 6 beads (really big ones),with the tiny size 10s to give  a nubby effect. There are tubular beads called bugles that have been sewn on vertically to give a contrast across the surface. I also like to sew on “crow beads” (about 5mm in diameter) on end with contrasting threads going through the visible hole as another way to give texture.

This detail pic shows some more of the variety of button and beads that I pour into a piece. These embellishments are slightly smaller than life size, so you can see how many different materials I squeeze into a finished piece. The petal of an iris that takes up most of the right side of this pic has over nine different kinds of beads, including Swarovski crystals to give it richness and shine. The larger crow beads that outline the edge of the petal have stripes on them that I wanted to repeat the stripes on that part of the flower. It’s subtle details like that touch that people admire when their eyes pour over one of my works.

You get your money’s worth when you buy one of my quilts if we’re talking about weight. Some of them weigh up to 25 pounds, or 12.5kg. I’ve never bothered to count the number of beads that I have on a quilt, but for the final piece for my MFA, I had to count the number of hours that I put into the work. (This was the late 70s and the head of the department was a jeweler and didn’t think that fiber artists put enough time into their work.) I was doing simple hand quilting and applique at that time, and the piece took 650 hours. I can only imagine how long these intricately beaded pieces take. The number for me doesn’t matter, as I am doing these as an act of love between myself and the medium.

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this piece. The registration form is just to prevent spammers, not to collect any of your information.

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

To find out how to buy my artwork, please check “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.

“Bouncy, Bouncy Butterflies”

In this contemporary beaded art quilt, “In the Garden of the Butterflies and Beach Balls”, I honored some of my favorite insects. Butterflies, for me, are some of the most delightful creatures on the planet. They always look so happy as they flit from flower to flower sipping on nectar, so I try to plant as many flowers as possible in my real gardens outside that will attract them. They even appear bouncing sometimes as they move up and down while flying forward. In the imaginary garden on this quilt, not only are there many flowers for them to consider for their next meal, there are colorful blue and white striped beach balls for them to play with. Never mind the size  differential. In my fabric gardens, I can create them as I wish, so these beach balls, while larger than the insects, are light enough to get a little game of garden volley ball going, should the butterflies so choose.

As with many of my pieces, there will be certain pivotal fabrics around which the others are chosen. For this art quilt, the fabric with the blue and white striped balls was probably the most important one for this piece. They reminded me of beach balls, and gave a playful feel to the piece. Of course, my beloved glass buttons from Czechoslovakia are heavily utilized, as are some orange and yellow glass cylinders about ½” long. These long glass beads remind me of the “candy corn” that you see at Halloween and make me smile.(see the upper middle row in the detail shot below.) I was also particularly pleased with the orange grosgrain ribbon with the yellow dots that I used for the binding around the outside edge. That ribbon, whose colors are repeated throughout the piece, provide a frame for the fun feeling of the landscape contained inside.

In this detail shot, you can see some of the numerous butterflies that I included. The psychedelic one in the upper middle is an iron-on applique, and has minimal beading (see also the photo on the left). The one in the lower middle is heavily beaded over fabric that had the butterfly image printed on it. In that case, I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the seed beads I chose to match as closely as possible as I liked the colors on the material. The large yellow and orange flower peaking out from the lower right was probably the hardest to duplicate. There are a number of orange seed beads on the market, but it was difficult to find the exact colors that I wanted.

In this detail shot to the left, in the lower right, is an aqua circle with a gold cross in the middle. That motif was cut from a piece of incredible organza that I found in a store that sold materials for saris and Middle Eastern clothing. The fabric was very expensive and elegant, but I bought it just to cut out the circular, gold thread motifs that were scattered across it. I imagine that image will show up more in future quilts. There is a large, yellow and black button in the lower left that I think came from a coat from the 60s. I believe it’s one of those gifts from friends who clean out their grandmother’s button jar and broken jewelry and send them to me. They know that all donated finds will have a wonderful new home in my studio, with lots of others of their kind to chat away with once the lights are turned out and I go to bed.

Butterflies and beach balls may seem an unlikely combination by some, but my pieces tell me what they want to be and they what to have included. I am merely the instrument at the service of my materials to give them life and love. I hope that this piece makes you smile.

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this piece. Registering is just to prevent spam, not to collect any of your information.

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

To find out how to buy my artwork, please check “How to Buy my Art Work” in the pages section to the right of this blog.