Tag Archive for hand applique

“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.

“Star Map” – How I View the Stars

"Star Map" - A Hand Appliqued, Hand Quilted Contemporary Art QuiltIn a recent posting, I wrote about a Meditation Garden art quilt that I am basing on the energy field of a friend that I call a “Sky Warrior“. It will end up being quite embellished with my current style of buttons and beads, but I thought that it might be interesting for you to see how one of my earlier sky maps looked.

“Star Map”, (44.5″W x 39″T, or 113 cm W x 99 cm T) was created in 1985. It was during a time period when I has been adding hundreds of small, hand appliqued pieces to my quilts. A friend of mine had commissioned a jacket for her mother that had  navy with white hand quilting on it. The quilting had a lot of imaginary constellations on it. I think that at about the same time, this art quilt was being made, too.

As a child, I loved looking at the stars. I grew up out in the country, and there was little light pollution, so you could see how many stars really are in the night sky. I also liked “connect the dot” pictures when I was young. It was always amazing to me how a picture could be formed out of a bunch of little dots, as I had not then leaned how to “see” the picture without the lines being added. However, as I learned about constellations in school, I was always disappointed that there were not more dots! How can you make a lion out of such few little specks? Thus, this own personal star map quilt was born where I could have all the dots I wanted.

Detail of star in "Star Map", a hand appliqued, hand quilted contemporary art quiltHere is a view of one of the star in this three star map. You can see that there is quite an energy field behind this one, with lots of gaseous plumes coming out around it. I imagine that travel around this star would be pretty bumpy if you were to get too close. Behind all of the circles are more stars and galaxies, just as behind the bright stars you can see in the real night sky, there always seems to be stars that you can sort of see, but not quite. For me, this is more like what I would have wanted in those constellation maps I studied as a child. Here are LOTS of dots to connect to make a picture!

"Star Map" detail of a hand appliqued, hand quilted contemporary art quiltRunning down the middle of this next detail shot is one of the “lines” from the star in the upper right to the one down in the lower right. This line is more how I would have liked to see the connections in those old constellation illustrations. Here are lots of details for my child-like imagination to play with. It is important to notice the swirls of chaos to the left and right of the path. As long as you stay on the round stepping stones down the middle of the path, then you will have no problem traversing from one star to the next. However, should you stray off the path, then you’d fall off into impending doom, and who’d be there to save you is anybody’s guess!

I think that you can see that while I care a great deal about my art work, I certainly don’t take myself seriously. There’s quite a bit of room for lots of great, good fun as I play with my materials. I don’t set out to create “ART” (big capital letters accompanied by a loud fanfare from a full chorus!). I play and have fun and hopefully others will see the beauty in what I create as I see it through my eyes.

Which way do you approach your own art work? Is it a serious statement, an expression of playing with materials, or some other way of seeing what you do and how you do it?

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-Warm Slate” – the Beginning of an Early Series

"Opulence - Warm Slate" - a hand appliqued and quilted art quiltAfter having taken a workshop with Nancy Crow in the early 80s, and receiving encouragement from her to keep on with my geometric series, I began with this quilt, “Opulence- Warm Slate”. I had no idea at the time what my later work would look like, and how embellished it would end up, but for me, I thought that the quilts in the series were pretty opulent, given the number of pieces that were hand appliqued in place. I also love contradictions in word phrases. The blue- grey slate color somehow was a given, but it ended up on a warm pumpkin orange background. If you’ve ever touched a piece of slate rock, it is anything but warm,as it tends to release heat pretty quickly, hence, for me. a quirky title for this piece was born.

Detail of contemporary hand appliqued,hand quilted art quiltThis detail shot of the center of the piece shows some of the intricate hand applique and hand quilting that went into this piece. Measuring 41″ W x 37.25″T (104 cm W x 94.5 cm T), I had lots of room to create a symmetrical arrangement that still had lots of room for intricate additions. When I was doing this geometric series, I had a hardware tackle box filled with different sizes of shapes that I had cut out of clear acetate. I had these templates at the ready, and so when I could “see” that a certain area needed a circle, I could go through my collection to see what size I needed. Having clear templates also made it easy to position the plastic exactly over what part of the fabric that I wanted to cut out. I’d put the template into place, trace around it with a white or yellow colored pencil (depending on the color of the fabric, and then when I cut it out, I added an extra 1/4′ ( 7mm) of fabric for turning under when I sewed. So, if I wanted a rose to be in the center of a particular motif, I could see where to place the template for the cutting.

Detail of hand applique and hand quilting on a contemporary art quiltThe hand quilting that I spent hours on shows up in this detail shot. I used a contrasting thread, in this case, a dark orange red, because if I was going to do all of those little tiny stitches, I wanted them to show. I did use a quilting frame for a piece this large, but since when I bought it, I had no idea the size quilts I would be making, I purchased one with 6′ (2m) poles on to which to roll the quilt sandwich as the work progressed. Since I liked to watch TV as I quilted at night after teaching school all day, that frame took up quite a bit of room in the family room. (Another source of “discussions” with my ex!) I drew some of the quilting lines lightly in place with a pencil, but as the work progressed, would often have to go back and redraw the lines, as they would get rubbed off as my hands and arms moved across the surface. I was using some “echo quilting” in this piece, where lines are stitched parallel  or repeat around and round lines already stitched. It’s often used in Hawaiian quilting, where the quilting lines ripple outwards as if a pebble had been dropped in a pond.

The colors in this quilt pleased me, so it hung in my house for quite awhile. However, vertical wall space became a premium as the years went by, as I’ve lived in this house for over 30 years. As more and more quilts were created, this piece went into storage to await a retrospective of my work some day. However, I guess that this blog is a virtual exhibit of what I’ve done and where I’ve been in the wide world of art quilting.

How do you decide on the names and images for your quilts? Are you into quickly achieving a finished product or are you a “Fan of the Long Sew?”  

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 – Symmetrical Green Circle”

Hand appliqued, hand quilted contemporary art quilt - "Symmetrical Green Circle"This contemporary art quilt, “Symmetrical Green Circle” is the second one I made whose image is based on spilling the contents of a trash can on to the floor. I don’t usually do symmetrical versions, finding them too difficult to line up exactly right. My eye can see slight imperfections that are off by .5 in. (1.5 cm) and I find them visually irritating. Also, given the fact that my hand applique is “consistently inconsistent” , I just don’t usually do symmetrical pieces. Still, this was back in 1984, and what did I know? I was trying to experiment whenever I could.

I was invited by Nancy Crow, an early art quilting mentor of mine, to be part of a show she was curating, “Emerging Quiltmakers”. I submitted slides of both the unfinished views of the asymmetrical and symmetrical versions of these quilts. I was sure that she would choose the asymmetrical version, and had sent that one off to Mrs. Henry Herschberger, an Amish woman that Nancy used to hand quilt for her. I was very surprised that the symmetrical version was the one chosen.

I had one month to complete the hand quilting, on this piece which is 43”W x 46”T ( 109.5 cm X 118cm) which I did and got it to the exhibition in time. I was very proud to have been given that early vote of confidence by Nancy Crow, but all of that hand quilting in such a short period of time did my wrists in. I ended up having to have carpel tunnel surgery on both wrists, and since it was a relatively new procedure, I quilted my cast and got in a number of newspapers (see previous blog.) I suppose every endeavor has occupational hazards, and I quickly found mine.

Detail from contemporay hand aplliqued, hand quilted art quilt - "Symmetrical Green Circle"I used a lot of the same shapes and fabrics that I had utilized in the asymmetrical version of this quilt, with the hope that one day, they would be displayed side by side. (That has yet to happen.) There is the same green circle in the middle to represent the industrial green trash can in the classroom where I was teaching. Many of the same shapes used the same fabric, and since the human eye tends to try and make familiar images out of geometric shapes, this detail shot to me looks like a person with outstretched arms and a hat with a black pom-pom. (You are of course invited to see whatever you see!) Again, as with the asymmetrical version, I used dark green thread for the hand quilting, but looking back, I’m not pleased with regard as to how the quilting lines don’t complement the hand appliqued pieces.

Detail from contemporay hand aplliqued, hand quilted art quilt - "Symmetrical Green Circle"Here is a view of the lower left of the composition. The piece basically was a central motif in the upper half with a another horizontal motif underneath. This is one of the arms that extended from the central, main design and helped to anchor the composition for me. From what I remember now, I placed the central green circle in place, and the shapes grew out organically from there. The larger pieces were placed first and then smaller and smaller ones were added on. All of the pieces were pinned in place before any sewing was done, and then I would take the board on which the quilt top was secured and put it in a place in the house where I would have to walk by it on a regular basis. I find that after two days of casual observations going about my day, I would start to see pieces that would glare out at me. “Wrong place!” they would scream at me. The problem was that they either were the wrong color, wrong placement, or something else needed to be added. I find that “living” with a piece for a few days is optimal to get the best images, but I don’t have that luxury if an exhibition is looming.

Symmetrical vs asymmetrical; which to choose? Both have their appeals to different personalities, but for myself, as my work evolved over the last 30 years, I found that I gravitated more and more toward asymmetrical pieces. For me, part of the fun is the dynamic balance of seeing how many diverse elements I can put into a composition. So, this symmetrical version gives you a glimpse into how and what I was thinking back when I was developing my artistic voice and doing a lot of experiments.

Which way do you go about creating an image for your own artistic medium? Is color your favorite design element, or texture, or line? How do you go about giving each element its due to make for a composition that is pleasing to 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.