Tag Archive for geometric quilts

“Opulence – Purple with Buttons” – My First Art Quilt Using Buttons

"Opulence-Purple with Buttons" - my first art quilt to use buttons as embellishmentsNancy Smeltzer, MFA

While my current art quilts are heavily embellished with hundreds of buttons and beads, that was not always the case. The past few weeks, I’ve been interspersing the stories about some of my older, geometric quilts in with info on the beaded ones. Today’s posting is about the first art quilt that I ever made with buttons on it. This was back in 198. I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I imagine that I must have seen a photo in a fiber or quilting magazine. Little did I know how with such simple beginnings as shown in this piece, that I would quickly become obsessed with those little round things called buttons.

Round buttons do seem to work best in my compositions. Most of them certainly come in that shape as that way, they slide the easiest through buttonholes. I also find that other shapes just don’t tend to stay in place as easily as a round one does. Square, triangular, and other irregularly shaped buttons, while they can be cool looking, are really obvious when they fall off-center, even though I spend a great deal of time making sure that I’ve securely fastened them as firmly on to the quilt’s surface so they won’t wobble.

Detail of "Opulence-Purple with Buttons" - my first art quilt to use buttons as embellishmentsAs you can see in this detail photo, the buttons are used to edge the shapes of the geometrical, fabric appliques used in the surface design. The colors of the buttons were chosen to help intersperse the hues throughout the composition. For instance, in this photo, there is a black fabric with red roses in the two large rectangles on either side of the central motif. So I used red buttons to circle around the edges of some of the other shapes, but not placed symmetrically. Another way I played with the buttons was my use of purple and yellow. They’re opposites on the color wheel, and I like to use complementary colors because I feel they give a lot of “punch” to the over all look of a piece. I used yellow buttons, of various sizes, scattered throughout the surface to play against the purple background of the quilt top.

Detail of "Opulence-Purple with Buttons" - my first art quilt to use buttons as embellishmentsIn this detail shot, you can see that I was still doing extensive hand quilting, especially on the solid, purple background. Some of the hand quilting mimicked the round shapes of the buttons, as you can see to the right of the orange and white striped rectangle with the black buttons in the middle of this photo. I also used some variation in button size, and in the upper right, I used some yellow buttons with a black circle around them, as plain black and yellow ones were used elsewhere. Still, this first attempt at using buttons on an art quilt was pretty minimalist compared to the hundreds used in my more current pieces. However, everybody has to start somewhere, and at the time, I didn’t have the vast reserves of buttons that I now have in my studio from which to choose. I’m sure that all of these buttons were bought in the same time frame from a local fabric store, probably by making several trips back and forth.

Has any material that you use in your art medium become a “must have” in your work? Which ones are your mainstays and how do you think they became so popular with you? 

 

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.

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 healing work at www.hearthealing.net 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.

“Opulence – Still Life with Flowers”

Handd appliqued, hand quilted contemporary art quilt, "Opulence- "Still Life with Flowers"Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

I usually don’t start with a sketch for my art quilts, as I just start cutting out fabric shapes and pinning them onto the main fabric that makes the quilt top. However, back in 1983, I decided it might be fun to do a collaborative project with other artists in the Washington, DC area. I set up a still life arrangement in my basement, and invited people out to take part in an exhibition that I had planned I was going to call “Common Vision”. The participants were invited to record the still life in whatever was their favorite way of capturing a scene. Some photographed it, some sketched it (which is what I did), and someone did a watercolor. We had a great, good time, a lovely lunch and then everyone went home to create a piece of art using their favorite medium.

Sketch of the still life used to create the art quiltI think that you can see what a liberal interpretation I did of the original scene. Until I fished this sketch out of my files, I couldn’t really remember what the setting had looked like, except that I had used peach colored fabric for the background. I can see now that there was some pottery, some wooden spools of yarn, a woven basket, and of course, some sort of flowers as seen in the left of the sketch. They were probably artificial, as I do remember now having set up the scene a few days in advance.

Detail of hand appliqued, contemporary art quilt "Opulence- Still Life with Flowers"This finished art quilt, measuring 50” W x 47.5“ T or 127 cm W x 120.5 cm T, was done during the period when I was doing geometric, hand applique with extensive hand quilting. It’s a rather large piece for me, and the quilting was done on a big quilting frame with 6′ (2m) long poles. That piece of equipment took up quite a large portion of the family room, so my ex “encouraged” me to make smaller and smaller pieces over the years. As you look at this detail photo, I imagine that you will be hard pressed to find that vase of flowers in the image that you see now, so you’ll have to take my word, and what you see in the sketch above, that there were indeed flowers in the scene.

Detail of hand applique,hand quilted contemporary art quilt, "Opulence - Still Life with Flowers"Here you can see how much fun I had at hand quilting the background. However, all of that handwork comes with a price. I don’t know how long it takes for DNA to degrade when exposed to the air, but ALL of my pieces have at least one blood stain on the back where I’ve pricked my finger. Perhaps some day, an art curator will use that stain as evidence that the piece is a “real Smeltzer” should the signature patch on the back become detached. However, I imagine that it will be pretty evident that it’s one of mine, as few people are as “obsessive” as I am to cover the surface, whether it’s with quilt stitches in this piece, or with buttons and beads in one of my current pieces.

I believe that I was the only one in that afternoon’s gathering who came up with a finished project. My original idea had been to pitch the photos of the pieces to an art magazine, but it’s hard to have a “Collective Vision” when mine was the only one in the collection. Still, I learned a lot about organizing a group effort, or shall I say, how not to do one. Sometimes, working with artists can be like herding cats.

Any advice for others who would like to have a group exhibition? I did later organize a few, which I’ll write about at a future date, but would love to hear about others’ experiences.

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.

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 healing work at www.hearthealing.net 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.

Boxes and Borders – an Unfinished Object

Unfinished decorated top for an art quilt, "Boxes and Borders"Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

This unfinished quilt top has been in my studio since the early 80s. Measuring 44″W x 30″T ( 112 cm W x 76 cm T), it has just about all of the hand applique completed. I did 4 smaller versions that were framed and all quickly sold, but this larger piece was set aside, hidden behind the usual vertical pinning board on which I create my quilt tops. So there it sat, until last Fall, when I began my “Personal Archeology” expedition in my studio, otherwise known as cleaning it out. So this piece will be the first UFO or “Unfinished Object” that I’ll write about.

Detail of an unfinished contemporary art quilt top - "Boxes and Borders"I’m  not quite sure as to why this piece was waylaid, especially since it’s so close to having the top finished. I can only speculate that perhaps there was a deadline for an exhibition where another piece was more suitable, and this was set aside for while, only to be set aside (read buried!) If you were to see my studio, you’d realize that sometimes it’s a miracle that the cats can get in and out safely, much less me when I’ve pulled out a lot of materials to start a new piece. I do remember that it was to symbolize people around a dinner table, as my ex and I used to love to give dinner parties. Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party book had come out a few years before, and I know that I had read it, even though I didn’t like a number of the images, so I’m guessing that that book had something to do with images, too.

Detail of an unfinished contemporary art quilt top, "Boxes and Borders"I do remember one memorable thing about the subject matter for this piece. I have always wanted my work to be interesting enough that you’d be compelled to walk across a room to see it better. As you got closer, and closer, you’d see more and more interesting details. Before making this larger quilt top, as I said, I made four small framed pieces, “Study I, II, III, and IV for Boxes and Borders”. All of them sold quickly, and one of them I knew had gone to a couple as a wedding present. Years later I was at a party and saw an interesting piece of art work hanging on the wall. I walked over to see it, and it was one of those four study pieces I had sold some twenty years before. So, I guess I got my wish in that at least to me, my own work is interesting enough that I’ll walk over to look at it.

 What do people say about your work? Is it what you want them to be saying about you? I know for myself, when I first started, I didn’t want to be known for “all of those little tiny beads”, but after awhile, I accepted that’s what I’m know for.

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.

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 healing work at www.hearthealing.net 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.