Tag Archive for quilts with buttons

A Fan of Fans

Fans from my collectionWhen I was in high school I learned how to carry and flirt with a fan. This was in the late 60s in the southern USA, and while they certainly had been put to good use before the days of air conditioning, when I was growing up, they were rarely seen. However, as part of Miss Libby’s Charm School, where I learned “table hands”, so I could look alluring across the table from a guy; how a lady lights her own cigarette (I’ve never smoked in my life); and just in case the need should arise, how to carry a fan. The photo on the left shows two from ones that I’ve collected when I traveled, and the top,black one, I actually have used at a gala. I put a ribbon loop with the lavender flower on it to go around my middle finger to go with an evening dress in the 80s. Such pretentious days!

Detail of an indigo fabric with fans from JapanSo as I became a quilt artist, I was naturally drawn to fan-like shapes. Here is a motif from a piece of indigo fabric from Japan. I imagine that the image is a stylized flower, but to me they look for all the world like fans. I wish I had bought more at the time, as I have only a little left, but I’ve used the shape in several of my art quilts.( I’ve yet to figure out a way to utilize the terrific geometric lines in between the fan shapes yet, so those pieces get thrown away. There’s only so much room in my studio….sigh!

Detail of a beaded version of the fan from the Japanese fabricHere is a detail from the piece “Japanese Irises” that utilizes the fan shape from the fabric shown above. It’s not as elegantly curved as the actual fabric design, as the size 10 seed beads are larger than some of the printed curved ends in the fabric motif. Another problem is finding beads that are close in color to the original fabric. Color is a very important design element for me, and the pieces are first composed using the balance of colors and shapes in the original fabrics. Then part of the fun for me is finding buttons and beads that complement the fabric choices that I’ve made to give me the effect that I want. It’s not always possible to find the exact colors of beads to match the colors in the fabric, so compromises sometimes need to be made.

A batik fabric from AfricaThis is an example of some of the “batik” fabric coming out of Africa these days. While the images and techniques are not traditional, they have big, bold prints that are a lot of fun. The fabrics however, have a lot of sizing in them, so the “hand” or how it drapes, is pretty stiff. That can make it harder on your own hands if you plan to do a lot of beading on the piece, as pushing needles in and out of stiff fabric thousands of times can wear on your fingers. The fans from this fabric that are utilized in the next photo are the ones that are shown vertically on the left, although I have used the gold ones that are show horizontally a number of times, too.

Detail of an art quilt with a beaded fan motif.Angels of Darkness, Angels of Light” , is the art quilt from which this detail shot is taken. I blogged about this art quilt earlier, so if you click on the above link, you can read more about the story behind it. Here in this blog, I’m focusing on the blue fans in the lower left and middle bottom. I used blue bugles in the outer semi-circles, and then scattered plastic blue crow beads nearby to carry the color out into the rest of the nearby surface. In Japanese landscaping, that would be called “borrowing the view”, where a large feature, such as a nearby mountain is framed by a circle cut into a fence, and then a much smaller version would be built in the garden to suggest a mountain. I use the same concept in spreading out colors and shapes in my art quilts.

Semi-circular shapes tend to lead your eye around the outer edge, which suggests some movement and then grounds your eye back nearby as it lands at the end of the curved edge. I feel that the result is that movement can  be suggested in a small area. There are a number of fabrics on the markets these days with large circles on them. Cutting them in half allows for two shapes from the same piece. I encourage you to try them out in your own work, and see what  excitement you can create for yourself.

What shapes do you tend to repeat in your work? Why does that shape speak to you?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form 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

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.

Feathers to Tickle Your Fancy (2)

Green and Guinea Hen feathers glued to a buckram backgroundIn this second article on using feathers, the photo on the left is of green and Guinea Hen feather tips that have been glued to a buckram background, which is a stiff material often used as the foundations for hats. I’ve had this feather cluster for a number of years, and when I look at the back of it, I can see that the glue is starting to turn brown, although it’s not showing through to the front to the feathers. I haven’t found the right piece to work this into yet, although I could see cutting the piece horizontally in half and using the two layers to suggest a row of short shrubs.

Detail of feather corsage used in an art quiltThis photo shows one of the few completed art quilts where I have used feather corsages. The small piece of black and brown feathers, about 3″ or 7.5 cm, I embellished with long, amber colored, angular beads to emphasize the golden color. While this piece also had the feathers glued to a buckram background, some of them shifted out of place as I was adding the beads, so I had to tack some of the individual feather barbs in place with small stitches to unruffle the feathers and to get them to lie flat. The name of the piece is “Feathers and Stars, Stars and Feathers“, which I wrote about the end of December, 2011. I already had the metal, costume jewelry feather pin, as you can see in this photo, so I felt I needed some real feathers in the piece.

Feather barbs glued between layers of buckram meshWith the British Royal Wedding in the Spring of 2011, more and more feathers appeared in the craft sections of many stores, as so many women’s hats at the wedding had feathers as part of the decorative trim. The ones in this photo are known as feather barbs, where the main part of the feather has been stripped away and beads threaded onto the rachis or center shaft. The tips were then glued between two layers of black buckram which can be folded to make the feather display thicker, or leave it spread out as it appears in the photo. I’ve yet to use this type of feather arrangement in anything but headpieces for myself, but I do have one attached to my pinning board in case the right art quilt comes along.

Feathers attached through grommets onto a strip of leatherThese feathers in the photo on the left have a bead cap attached on the calamus or the very end of the feather and are threaded with beads onto a thin strip of leather. Those leather strips are then worked through grommets that are on a wider strip of leather and are then sold by the yard. I’ve cut two grommets worth of the leather foundation into short sections, folded them back on themselves, and made them into wonderful earrings. They brush my shoulders when I move and are great, good fun to wear. I’ve found that when they get too bent from being in the plastic bag in which they’re stored, all I have to do is mist them with a little water, straighten them with my hands, and let them dry back into shape. After all, birds get wet all of the time.

Iron-on feather appliques for art quiltsHere’s yet another way to get the look of feathers into your wardrobe and art quilts. These eight iron-on appliques are about 1.5″ or 4 cm long. While I wouldn’t trust the glue on the back to hold over time, they can be easily stitched on to a surface. They are rather small, however, so I haven’t found the right piece to work them onto yet, but then what’s a studio stash for if not to have treasures in the waiting.

In Fire Mountain Gems’ extensive “encyclobeadia” of techniques, there’s a great article on adding feathers to your work. While a lot of the info is about how to use them in jewelry, many of the details on attachment techniques are useful for including them on an art quilt, too.

I have had one big feather disaster. I had an 8″ (20.25 cm) round fan of peacock feather tips glued on both sides of a cardboard backing that I had displayed on the wall. It was attacked by flour moths before I noticed the small pile of “sawdust” on the floor and could save the fan. The larvae had chewed through most of the central shafts of the feathers and there was nothing to do but throw the whole thing out. Since then, I’ve watched the one quilt, shown above, in which I’ve used feathers, and it seems to be fine, and also the blue feathered fan that I wrote about in the previous article, as it lives most of the time pinned to a wall, too. I do have a number of pheromone traps throughout the house, especially in my studio, as there is a multitude of materials in there that the moth larvae like to chomp on besides feathers. I guess I’m not the only creature who thinks that feathers are cool, too.

Have you used feathers in your art work? Why not tell us how and any techniques that you found useful.

 Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this piece. Please take a minute, fill out the form 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

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.

Lavender Clouds – a Study of Texture in a Small Space

There is a lot of texture packed into this small, embellished art quilt, “Lavender Clouds”. While diminutive in size (9.25″ sq or 23.5cm sq), it’s filled with buttons and beads intended to draw the viewer’s attention down into the scene and interact with it. Many of my fans say that they could look forever at one of my larger pieces and see new things for hours, so I’d like to think that this work would allow you to “feel with your eyes” and not get overwhelmed with all of the details., yet still feel full of visual stimulation and excitement over the use of materials.

The piece began in a workshop to learn about how to use Stewart Gill fabric paints… http://www.stewartgill.com/ . The session was offered at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA http://www.artisticartifacts.com/ . (It’s one of the coolest stores for mixed media supplies and ephemera and a must see if you’re in the Washington, DC area.) These particular paints are rather expensive but are intense on the fabric unlike many of the dull, flat effects I’ve experienced with other brands of textile paints. We were to bring 10″ (25cm.5 cm) squares on which to try out different types of the paints and after a fun-filled afternoon of playing with paints, stencils, and stamping, I had a number of small decorated fabric squares with which to begin some small art quilts.

“Lavender Clouds” is the second to be finished. (The first was “Breathe, Just Breathe” – posted on 23 November, 2011) I did a little machine embroidery on this piece, but mostly placed the buttons and beads in response to the painted motifs. In the middle of the far left in this detail shot, you can see my signature hummingbird button that I include on all of my pieces now… http://www.fiberfantasies.com/artist2.php (more info about this button in my “Artist’s Statement on my web site.) Beneath it is one of my beloved glass buttons that are coming out of Czechoslovakia. The shiny dichroic foil in the interior of the button adds a lot of “pow” to the surface, and people always seem to respond positively to these buttons. In the upper middle of this same shot, you can see some of the plastic “bubble” buttons that I used to convey the impression of “clouds”. I also added a lot of white, pearlescent seed beads and clear, plastic bubble beads to give a frothy appearance. There are also a number of round aqua “miracle beads”, whose depth of shine, while flat in this photo, is sparkling in the actual piece.

As with all quilts, whether they’re intended as art or for the bed, the edges usually are treated somehow to prevent unraveling. The usual method is to use a binding, but with these small pieces, I often go around the edges using a blanket stitch worked in embroidery floss. If you look back at the top photo, you can see that I also encircled the edge with the same style of white, yellow, and aqua buttons. I find that oftentimes, repeating the same design element unifies the composition. There are also two other kinds of beads that are worked in between the blanket stitches to give interest to what would otherwise be an interesting area, the edge of the quilt.

I just counted, and there are 77 buttons on the surface of this piece. (I would never attempt to count all of those on one of my larger pieces.) That’s not including the beads and paint. I put quite a lot of effort into each and every piece, no matter the size, so I hope that you enjoy hearing about the thought process for this piece and can maybe see my work in a different light.

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this piece. The registration form is just to prevent spammers, not to collect any of your information.

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com .

To find out how to buy my artwork, please check “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.