Tag Archive for art quilts

Button Embellishments on Other Objects

 

Woven ball with buttons and shells glued to it

Woven ball with buttons and shells glued to it

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

It’s not just art quilts that I embellish with buttons. My ex-husband used to say that if it sat still long enough, it would get covered in buttons. This photo shows a woven rattan ball that I glued shells on one side so it could stand up. (Shells count for embellishments if I can get a hole through it). Then, covering the top, I glued buttons in the same color theme and voila, a button ball. I don’t have it anymore, as it was part of the downsizing process as I move, so I don’t remember who got it. It’s about 5″ or 13 cm in diameter, and was always being picked up by guests as they’d ask, “What’s this?”, so I hope the new owner appreciates it.

Gold rose hairpiece with buttons

Gold rose hairpiece with buttons

Back in the 80s, in the days of “big hair”, my ex and I would go to a number of black tie balls. I always made hair pieces to go with each outfit, and this one went with a black brocade jacket. My hair was a lot more blonde then, so the sheer gold ribbon sparkled well. The small gold roses (1.5″ or 4 cm) came from a button and bead shop in New York City. Here was one time where I did buy a lifetime supply of an embellishment, as it’s VERY hard to get a needle through the woven wire petals on the rose. It’s better to glue them, which I hate to do onto a quilt, as the glue starts to leach out after awhile. Here, on this hair piece, it didn’t matter, but if they were going on an art quilt, I would first glue them to small circles of felt. Then the felt could be sewn to the fabric and would serve as a barrier between the glue and the decorative top of the quilt.

Detail of bathroom wall

Detail of bathroom wall

This last photo shows a detail of a mural that I did on the wall of a big soaking tub in my house. The wall is about 10′ wide and 8′ tall (9.2 m wide x 7.4 m tall). It took 3 days to nail and glue all of those buttons and wooden medallions on the wall, and I needed to see my chiropractor afterwards as I was reaching above me head a lot of the time. The painted part is of a scene in Tuscany and the buttons could be interpreted as rocks, or flowers, of whatever the viewer wishes to imagine. I hope the new owners of the house like it, because of the love I put in it, and it will also be very hard to remove without redoing the entire wall. However, my bathroom wall is amateur hour when it gets compared to  the Shell Grotto on Bella Isola, Lake Maggiore in Italy. You can follow the link to see the rooms that are entirely covered in seashells and small pebbles. (Also Google “Bella Isola” to see more images). The palace was built by an Italian duke dedicated to his bride, and as you sail out to the island, it does look like a wedding cake perched on a hill. The shell rooms are in the bottom of the palace, and were completed by his sons, as they took over 100 years to complete. They gave a cool refuge from the summer heat, and since that’s when I visited them, they were indeed noticeably cooler than the upstairs rooms. Now, that’s got me thinking of a whole room full of buttons in my new place. I just hope that it wouldn’t take 100 years to complete.

What other objects have you embellished with unusual materials in your art medium?

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.

Buttons Made of Unusual Materials for Art Quilts

Button made out of compressed sawdust

Button made out of compressed sawdust

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

If you’ve been reading these blogs for awhile, you know that I love buttons. I embellish my art quilts with hundreds of them sometimes. I think it’s because when I was a child my grandmother had a button jar. I got to run my fingers through them as if they were a pirate’s treasure, sort them, and string them on shoestrings to make necklaces. So the love for the little round things began at an early age.

Most buttons are made of plastic, metal, glass, or sea shells. However, the one on the left is made out of compressed sawdust. The pink center is glued onto the peach background, making the whole button about 1.5″ or 4 cm. I bought three of them at a bead show, and wished that I could have purchased more, but they were $7 US each. SInce I put so many buttons on my art quilts, I try to keep the prices down, but for a big showy one like this, I’ll spend more.

Coconut Shell Button

Coconut Shell Button

This next button is of another unusual material, at least for here in the States. It’s made of a coconut shell. I imagine that they were constructed by cutting them out of the shell with a punch, and maybe shaving off some of the backing, as these buttons are much thinner than the coconut shells that I’ve seen. The artist who painted the design on was quite skilled, as there was some shading and several of the motifs had several colors on them. Also, I feel that they were handpainted, as there were slight variations in the five that came in the set. Purchased off of eBay from my favorite button seller, Spirit Inc. The owner lives just 20 miles down the road from me, and is known for her glass buttons, but every so often, she’ll carry something different , like these coconut shell buttons.

Peach pit toggle

Peach pit toggle

Finally, this last button is one that I occasionally saw as a child growing up in North Carolina. It’s a carved peach stone or kernel from the center of a peach. Also know as a pit, it could be used after removing the fruit from the kernel and scrubbing it clean. Then one end could be carved to make a shank for a toggle for a coat. (You need shanks on buttons and other thick fabrics so that the button can go through the thicker fabric.) This is about 1.5″ or 4 cm tall, and once in a while. I’ve seen them sprayed colors and used as ornaments on a small Christmas tree.

Since these buttons are all of wood or wood-like materials, I wonder if they’re prone to insect infestations. I have had that problem before with feathers, so I’m not quite sure how to get around that issue. I do know that good ventilation around an art quilt when it’s hanging on a wall helps, but being in a closed box seemed to be the issue for the feathers. I guess time will tell, but since I’m not having children, my art is what I’m leaving behind. Besides, I’ve found that she who leaves the most information about herself, makes it easier for some future curator to document her work, so I hope that all of my buttons survive long past me.

Got any other different materials that you’ve seen for buttons? I think that people down through the ages have used the materials at hand, from bones to leather to fasten their clothes.

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.

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.

 

Iron-on Butterfly Appliques; A Way to Embellish an Art Quilt

Commercial Applique of a Monarch Butterfly

Commercial Applique of a Monarch Butterfly

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

In my last posting, I wrote about my collection of butterfly costume jewelry pins that I’ve used quite a bit for embellishing my art quilts. However, there is also a large number of appliques of the same insect that can add another dimension to your work. While usually flatter than most pins, appliques tend to also have  a lot of detail, are more easily accessible, and are usually cheaper than pins.($1.50 – $4 US). This monarch butterfly applique seems to be the most popular here in the States, showing up in many craft stores in the applique section. On this one, I was fortunate to have some black glass leaves with gold veins. They made a perfect extension for the tips of the upper wings and the bottom of the body. This use of a leaf on an insect hopefully will remind you to look at your materials in lots of ways, not just their original intended use. Amber Swarovkski crystals are added on to add sparkle and shine.

Large yellow and orange iron-on butterfly appplique

Large yellow and orange iron-on butterfly applique

From the same quilt is a different kind of butterfly applique. This one is similarly colored as the Monarch, but I’m not sure that it is one. I only added 4 hematite colored rondelles to the center of each wing as the glue on the back of these iron-on appliques make them very hard and stiff to sew through with the small size needle that is needed to secure the seed beads in the center of each flat bead. I HATE to use a thimble, having tried just about every one out there on the market, and I always feel restricted when I try to use one. However, sewing on these appliques makes for unusual marks on my middle or “pushing” finger. If I sew a lot of these iron-on appliques on, I get a pocket of skin on the tip of each finger that pulls away from the rest of the layers underneath. Eventually it becomes hardened and I have to peel it off. Now, that’s an occupational hazard that you usually don’t think about!

Iron-on yellow skipper butterfly appliques

Iron-on yellow skipper butterfly appliques

Finally, from the same quilt, are these little (1″ or 2.5 cm in width) yellow skipper butterflies. I added tiny doll clothes buttons that are readily available in many craft store to the center of each wing.I used black quilting thread to attach the buttons to emphasize the black stitching that was already on the edges of the butterflies. You can also see an enameled metal, yellow butterfly pin to the lower left of the appliques, as if the smaller ones were baby versions of the larger pin. I like to repeat color, sizes, and shapes to help tie a composition together.

I went to Google “butterfly appliques” and saw a thumbnail of an image that I liked. It turned out that it was from an article that I had written awhile back on iron-on appliques in general. I guess that’s pretty flattering when you find your own stuff by accident and like it. I did find a page that was selling butterfly iron-on appliques with sequins on them. Having learned the hard way, sequins melt if the iron is too hot, so I would definitely sew those appliques on to any surface I was using. My favorite iron cleaner, whether it’s getting off melted sequins, or glue from under appliques is Dritz Hot-Iron Cleaner. It comes in a small tube and usually on the notions wall in a wide range of craft stores and places that sell sewing irons.

While appliques come in a wide range of subjects, I am especially drawn to those of butterflies. Even though it’s a pain to sew them onto fabric, I feel that they add a textural interest to my art quilts that I can’t achieve any other way besides beading a whole butterfly. That is incredibly time consuming, so I think that I’ll stick mostly to my appliques and pins.

What motif do you find yourself using over and over in your artistic compositions? Why did you choose that symbol?

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.

Butterflies that Flutter-by on my Art Quilts

Butterfly made from a bow costume pin

Butterfly made from a bow costume pin

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

Butterflies have to be one of the happiest looking creatures on Earth as they bounce up and down as they fly. I am so looking forward to seeing them again, yet here in the Mid-Atlantic of the USA, just north of Washington, DC, we had light snow last night. So to brighten up the bleak forecast, and to distract me from the flowers that are already out that might freeze, I’m writing instead about how I use butterflies in my art quilts. After all, if it’s dreary outside, I can at least admire the colors in the photos of my creations.

This first photo actually shows a costume pin bow.The ruffled edges and the pearls down the middle reminded me of a butterfly, so I added on a cone shaped, wire wrapped bead for the body, a flat wire wrapped bead for the head, and sewed on some seed beads for the antenna. It looks for all the world as if it was intended to be a real living insect.

Yellow enameled metal costume pin of a butterfly

Yellow enameled metal costume pin of a butterfly

Another butterfly pin from the same quilt has a more traditional enameled pin that you seeing coming out of China these days. The brightly colored pins are imported by a dealer, Faship, on eBay, and are quite inexpensive considering how much oomph they add. (He’s also about five miles from where I grew up in North Carolina in the Eastern United States). The graduated colors in the enamels and the quality rhinestones make the +/- $6 US worth the cost in my opinion because of the attention these pins create.

 

A costume pin of a butterfly in profile

A costume pin of a butterfly in profile

The next costume pin of a butterfly is a little unusual in that it shows the insect in profile. Most pins want to get the most visual impact, so the 4 wings are usually shown flat. However, this perky little blue insect in the middle of this photo, again from this same art quilt, gives the viewer a bit of surprise as they come across it.

Pink rhinestone pin of a butterfly

Pink rhinestone pin of a butterfly

Finally, there’s this elegant rhinestone covered butterfly pin. Each vein has LOTS of stones on it to catch and play with the light. It’s lacy appearance really adds some terrific visual appeal to the piece. However, its edges also remind me a bit of the torn wingtips I’ve seen of butterflies that have been attacked by hungry birds. I try not to think of that possibility as I look at this jewelry. Its see-through wings also remind me of the Glasswing Butterflies where you actually can see through the wings.

So, if you haven’t gathered by now, I adore butterflies, and since I do a lot of garden art quilts, I can easily work them into my compositions. I’d like to think that my work is interesting enough that you’d want to walk across the room to see the piece and as you got closer, and closer, you’d see more and more details. These butterfly pins certainly help to make that happen for my viewers.

Do you have a favorite creature that keeps appearing in your medium? Why did you happen to choose that particular being? 

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.