Tag Archive for creating light in quilts

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.

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