Tag Archive for beaded art quilts. embellished art quilts

Street Finds Used for Embellishments for Art Quilts

Leather shoe lining

Leather shoe lining

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

I’ve always like picking up unusual objects from the streets and using them as embellishments for my art quilts. These street finds used to embarrass my husband, but he’s my ex now, so it doesn’t matter. These one of a kind objects often wait pinned to the design board I use for composing my art quilts, since there’s only one of them and I would forget it they were put away in a jar. Sometimes, I’m not even sure what the object is, as this photo on the left. It’s made of leather, and I’m calling it a shoe lining, but I’m not sure that was it’s original purpose. Still, it will make a terrific face in some future project. All of the little tiny holes around the larger ones could be stopped with a sewn on bead, or I could sew floss through the larger holes. I guess I’ll have to wait until I find the right location for its use.

Black rubber gasket/lining

Black rubber gasket/lining

The next object is even more perplexing regarding its original use. It’s made of black rubber and perhaps was a gasket of some sort. (I’ll have to ask my neighbor who’s a “car guy”.) Anyway, it’s about 1/4in (5 mm) thick. It also might have been part of a heel reinforcement on a shoe. Turned this way, as shown in the photo, it could be a mask. Turned 180 degrees, it could be an animal, maybe a bunny rabbit. I will definitely have to sew floss through the holes to hold it in place (eyelashes maybe?) as I don’t like to use glue if I can help it. I don’t know of any archival glues strong enough to hold an object of this weight onto an art quilt, and after about ten years, the glue would start to leach out on to the fabric and weaken it.

Blue children's toy piece

Blue children’s toy piece

This blue plastic object, I believe, is part of a children’s toy. There are trenches down each of the arms that will make it easy to fasten this on to an art quilt’s surface. It’s about 2.5″ (9.5 cm) at it’s widest diameter. At first I thought it might be one of those dangling toys that hang from baby carriages to amuse children, but it took me awhile to remember, not being a parent, that small objects are choking hazards. Once the slots are fee of the circle in the middle, they’re notched, so perhaps they’re meant to attach to other notched objects to construct something. This piece had obviously been run over a few times by cars, as the surface is scratched and worn, but I see that as a patina. Maybe this piece is destined to be a face also.

Flattened AA battery

Flattened AA battery

The final piece is one of my favorites, and I’ve only found two of them. It’s a squashed AA battery whose label has worn off. The terminal in both of them that I’ve found was flattened so that it looks like a little face with two small arms in front. At one point, I had thought of making some by putting batteries in a heavy duty plastic contractor’s bag and banging on them with a hammer. I even queried some of my mechanically inclined friends as how to safely neutralize the acid that would come out (Baking soda got the most votes). However, I decided I’d probably splatter it everywhere, get it on me, or do something heinous to the environment, so I just scour the streets looking for more. I know that they’re out there somewhere.

While I certainly don’t put myself in the same league as Pablo Picasso, his famous bull’s head made out of a bicycle seat comes to mind. Made in 1942, it was reviewed as being quite outrageous by some, and avant garde by others. So I guess putting a few street finds as embellishments for my art quilts isn’t that out of the ordinary.

BTW, most of these objects were found outside a local Jo-Ann’s craft store in the area. I don’t know if it’s the creative clientele that frequents the place or that they often bring children who drop things, but I can usually find something of interest every 3 or 4 times I go there. All I have to do is look down, and then remember to take the piece out of my pocket before I do the wash.

What interesting objects have you found by accident and used in your artwork? Do you have a favorite type of store that usually isn’t considered for art supplies that you’d like to share with us?

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.

“Dalton’s Garden” Continues – Part 2

The Meditation Garden, based on a specific person's energy field, continues with the addition of the larger buttonsAfter securing the major fabric motifs in place with pins, the fun part for me begins as I start to root through my stash of buttons and large beads. In this full shot of this 16″ x 20″ (40.5cm x 50.5cm) art quilt, there is a line of medium blue glass buttons going horizontally across the top purple blue clouds. I like to use lines of repeated design elements to help to tie the composition together. You’ll be able to see more of my button choices in the detail shots below.

Detail of some of the glass buttons used in the sky part of the compostiionIn this close-up shot of the sky, you can see how the medium blue glass buttons that I was talking about above accentuate the flow of the lines of the clouds. As I said in the first posting about this art quilt, I wanted to try not to cover up the beautiful lines of the purple blue clouds as they made the perfect cumulonimbus storm clouds that Dalton so loves. To the lower left and right of the central orb shaped portal, are two different kinds of the Czech glass buttons that I blogged about previously. Here. these two around the orb are backed with dichroic foil. I love how they change colors as I move the piece around as I’m sewing on it, or the light changes as the day progresses. In this shot, I still haven’t straightened the top of the black and white harlequin ribbon in the upper right of the photo. Sometimes, at this early stage, it’s hard to commit to just working with one style of button or bead as the ideas are coming rather fast at this stage. I get really anxious to try out a new idea regarding how a particlular color or bead would look, and I get easily side tracked.

Detail of the bottom of "Dalton's Garden" as the larger buttons and beads are being addedIn this detail photo of the bottom of the art quilt,  I’ve outlined the green lily with some large size 6 seed beads. I wanted to add a nubby edge to the outline of the flower. Since Dalton would not be playing in an ordinary garden, the shrubs around the edge of the blue and purple fabric in the bottom center are simulated by green rectangles with lime green lines. I’ve also employed some of my favorite design motifs of dyed shell circles, here colored in lime green. Instead of attaching them through the two small holes that are at opposite ends, I prefer to overcast them with 6-8 large stitches of embroidery floss to hold them in place. These shell circles come strung on plastic thread and can be bought in a  number of different craft stores here in the States.

Back of the 16" x 20" stretched canvas frame to which the art quilt will be attachedPretty soon, at this stage of the construction process, the quilt sandwich will be cut away from the bottom piece of muslin. It was attached to the emboridery frame to make it easier to keep the sides squared. Once removed from the backing, the whole piece will be sewn onto a stretched piece of canvas 16″ (40.5 cm) x 20″ (51 cm). Doing that will make the whole piece much more stable and easier to fit the firm, stretched canvas into the final frame. (I don’t like to do too much sewing onto the canvas itself, as it’s too hard on my hands to sew thorugh the stiff canvas.) Here is the back of one of those canvases which shows the inner strip of wood that helps to stabilize the whole rectangle and to make the corners true 90 degree angles. The problem with doing this method however, is that it’s hard to sew around the inner strip of wood, which is about 1.5″ or 3.5 cm wide. I need to be careful before cutting the piece away from the backing fabric to make sure that I don’t bead too close to the edge of the piece. If I do, then the edges won’t fit easily under the overhang of the decorative frame. This time I may try to stitch the quilt sandwich down thesides to the canvas, as I ended up not being able to sew much anywhere near the outer edge of “Keith’s Garden“. The top outer edges of the embellished top, because of that innner extra strip of wood on the back, ended up being decoupaged lace motifs. They were too stiff, however, because of the lamnating liquid I used for the lace to easily sew through without really poking my fingers. (I hate to use thimbles.) Keep reading in future blogs as to how I solve that problem of treating the edges of these Meditation Gardens.

What construction problems in creating your own art forms have you encountered and how have you overcome them? I’d love to keep a running list of suggestions and post them every so often.

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!

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) and can find me on Google + , Facebook,  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.