Posts Tagged ‘art quilts’

A while back, I received an e-mail from a prospective client asking if I’d be interested in creating a wall quilt from a logo she had already commissioned from a graphic designer. She was building a mountain home – a dream home, really – and was celebrating this event with artwork. I don’t usually create art quilts from other people’s designs, but I met with her, liked the design and the client, and took the job.

Lesson 1: When a door opens, you don’t have to go through it. But it’s a good idea to look through the open door to check out the opportunity.

Logo DesignThe logo artwork was a line drawing with a basic color palette. The client wanted the resulting quilt to be prominent in her new home. She wanted it to be big – 9 feet by 9 feet big. I work in a small studio with no room for a quilt that size to hang during construction. We settled on 6 feet square, which still felt like a monster size. In fact, I needed to construct a portable design wall to accommodate the project, but it was doable.

Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Negotiation isn’t a dirty word and it doesn’t always mean that someone’s trying to take advantage. This negotiation helped me set limits and contributed to the overall success of the project.

Working within the color palette, I gathered fabrics. Too many fabrics, really, but it was good to have choices. I spent a lot of time collecting, auditioning, and selecting fabrics from a wide array of sources. I used commercial cotton, batiks, raw silk, and rusted fabric. In art quilt class yesterday, one of my students was talking about a recent quilt and said she had been a slave to one of the fabrics, changing every other fabric to try to make the piece work but clinging to this one special fabric. Finally, she realized she had to jettison that one problem child fabric and the piece came together. Her experience sounded familiar. The fabrics for the borders and corners of this piece – the browns and greens – gave me fits. I had one or two fabrics that I thought were perfect and I clung to them. In the end, I had to give them up and that helped break through my quilter’s block.

Quilt on the BerninaLesson 3: Make decisions but be open to changing your mind. Not all decisions are good ones, and you may not be as stuck as you think you are. Just because something looks great in one context doesn’t mean it will work well somewhere else.

This quilt was the hardest wall quilt I’ve ever made. I could go on about how the circle in the square layout gave me heartburn or how the miles of handmade bias binding took forever to make or how moving the piece from the design wall to the sewing machine caused the pinned pieces to shift, forcing me to hand baste every piece in place. All of these things are true, but every project brings challenges. So what made this piece so difficult? Fear. When I take on a project, it never occurs to me that I might not be able to successfully complete it…until I’m knee-deep in alligators. This piece was bigger than my typical work and that made the challenges seem insurmountably bigger. I was in an almost constant state of fear that I would not be able to complete this art quilt as I had envisioned it. If you know me, you know that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Usually, that works for me, but not for this project.

Lesson 4: Work hard and trust your instincts. If you’ve honed skills over decades of education and experience, trust that you have the tools to identify problems and that you will find a way to resolve any issues. Get out of your own way and do the work. It really will all work out.

Quilt in placeWhen the quilt was completed, my husband and I took it to the client’s newly completed mountain home and installed it. Through the entire ride to the client’s house, I worried. Would she like it? Would it be good enough? Would it hang flat enough? Would the rod I chose fit with the rest of the house? Would, could, should. When it was time, I unrolled the quilt on the floor and held my breath while my client took her first look at her new art quilt. I needn’t have worried. She was happy, I was happy, and I felt myself release more tension than I knew I had been carrying. We crouched around the quilt as I pointed out special fabric choices and showed her where I had made quilting decisions to commemorate aspects of her house and its construction. She was interested in as much information as I could give her and I was bursting at the seams to share every detail.

Lesson 5: Outcomes are often much worse in your imagination than in reality. I had imagined the worst. What if she hated it? What if she didn’t love the colors I used? What if, what if, what if? In reality, she loved it. We artists are a fragile bunch, at once proud of our work and fearful that no one will like it and, by extension, us. I’m not sure how to change that in myself, but I hope my awareness will help boost my confidence.

I’m working on a new commission now for a different client. When it’s completed, I’ll post about this art quilt of three generations of wedding gowns. For now, let me say that I’m keeping an open mind through the process, trusting my instincts, and trying not to worry about how the client will react. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.


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Power Suit Exhibit with Spectators

Power Suit Art Quilt Debut

Saturday, October 22, 2011 was a big day. We unveiled Power Suits: An Art Quilt Challenge at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, to a bustling space filled with artists, family members, friends, and newcomers to the art quilt world.

About the Exhibit

When Judy Gula and I issued this art quilt challenge in April, we could not have predicted the number, variety, or quality of quilts that were sent to us. Every day was Christmas as we opened boxes and registered the 18″ x 18″ treasures! 105 artists responded with 108 quilts, addressing topics as varied and unexpected as playing cards, super heroes, swim suits, ancestors, robots, politics, and animals. And there were, of course, quilts that focused on men’s suits and women’s equivalents to the power suit wardrobe. As our guests moved from quilt to quilt, reading artist’s statements and reacting the artwork, I repeatedly heard comments like, “How did they do that?” and “I would never have thought of that!” Surprisingly, while some topics were addressed by multiple artists, each quilt was unique.

Power in Any Suit by Marilyn Owendoff

Quilts will remain on exhibit at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, through November 23, 2011. They are available for viewing during shop hours or by special appointment.

Viewers’ Choice

Judy and I agreed to put out ballots for Viewers’ Choice Awards, not to judge the quality of the quilts but to celebrate the reactions the quilts evoked. Thanks to my hubby for that idea. We found that people (read: people who are not quilters but came anyway) seemed more engaged in really looking at the quilts. I loved watching the discussions!
The Viewer’s Choice Made Me Laugh Award went to Marilyn Owendoff for her quilt Power in Any Suit. I watched as people led their friends over to see Marilyn’s quilt. It certainly had lots of people smiling as the bikini-clad body on the quilt clutched her smart phone while enjoying the rays on the beach.
Ellen Flaherty's Quilt

The Real Power Suits by Ellen Flaherty

The Viewers’ Choice Made Me Think Award went to Ellie Flaherty for her quilt The Real Power Suits. The quilt featured three nuns made in the image of her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother. I love the play on words: The Real Higher Power Suit.

The Viewers’ Choice Hands-Down Favorite Award went to, well, me! I created a quilt called Power Suited Him from a portrait of my father. This image of my father has been a favorite of mine and I loved using it for our Power Suit Challenge logo. I tried to develop a different idea for my challenge quilt, but I kept coming back to my father’s picture. I’ll try to blog a little about process later. In response to requests for a class in this technique, I will offer a Studio Tech class in photo-inspired art quilts at Artistic Artifacts in the coming year.  

Cyndi Souder's Quilt

Power Suited Him by Cyndi Zacheis Souder

Exhibit Travel and the Power Suit CD
I’m thrilled to say that our quilts are scheduled to travel! We currently have two quilt shows on our calendar and we are looking for more opportunities to share these treasures with more quilters. If you are interested in showing our quilts, please contact me. We’d love to hear from you!

Look for Power Suit Quilts at these shows:

We’ve created a Power Suit Quilts CD that includes the quilt images and artist’s statements. We’ve included two formats on the CD: a PowerPoint presentation that requires PowerPoint on your machine to view and a PDF that requires Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download that comes loaded on most machines) to view. These will be available at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, at the Artistic Artifacts booth at the IQA Festival in Houston, TX November 3-6, 2011, and on the Artistic Artifacts website after the second week in November.

Next Challenge
While we had a captive audience, Judy and I announced our next challenge: Arts & Old Lace!

Arts & Old Lace LogoUnlike the Power Suit Challenge, we’ve limited the number of packets we’re distributing. After the feeding frenzy at the debut, we continued to receive calls for the packets. We’re taking whatever we have left to the IQA Festival in Houston, where I believe they will disappear in a flash. More about the next challenge in a future blog. For now, thanks for following our Power Suits Art Quilt Challenge. We’ve had an unbelievable amount of fun and we hope you have, too!

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Okay, pop quiz: what’s even better than going out of town to visit quilt shops? Answer: leaving town with a quilt buddy to celebrate a milestone birthday with another quilt buddy AND visiting quilt shops.

This weekend, my friend Kathy and I drove up to Connecticut to celebrate a birthday. Our friend Heidi hit a milestone and we wanted to celebrate appropriately — by visiting quilt shops and buying tons of fabric.  Centered in Farmington, we didn’t have to go too far to find some great shops.  Of the four shops we visited, two really stood out.

What a wonderful, bright, welcoming shop! So many quilt shops lack decent light and stuff themselves into such tight little niches. This shop escapes both of those pitfalls.

 It carries a wonderful range of fabrics, books, and notions without trying to be everything for everyone.  You can get reproduction fabrics, batiks, the newest Lonni Rossi (Have you seen the Paint Box series?!), and new designers I’d never heard of. I picked up a very cool book about silks, and I could have bought Paintstiks, and all kinds of other treasures.
A Look Inside

A Look Inside Sew Inspired

With all those choices, I found it hard to decide what to take home. I did a little damage in the batik section, finding some wonderful teals to replenish that part of my stash. I used a lot of my teals in Teal Beauty, a quilt that was sold at auction to raise money for cancer research.

I am absolutely enthralled with the Anna Griffin fabrics by Windham Fabrics. I bought yardage and I can’t wait to start using them. For those of you who want a headstart on a collaged look, these fabrics make great backgrounds and are super for fussy cutting motifs. Very, very cool. Get more information at www.SewInspiredQuilts.com/blog

From Sew Inspired in Simsbury, we traveled to The Country Quilter in Somers, New York. For me, this was like visiting the mother ship. I’m an art quilter and this was dangerous territory filled with temptations. For fans of the Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston, this is the shop to visit. The shop is owned by Claire Oehler, Jane’s mom.

On the day we visited, Jane (who is the manager) was on duty. Lucky for me, she had time to explain some of the products I found.

Jane Davila Inside the Country Quilter

Jane Davila Inside the Country Quilter

For example, did you know there’s a Foiling Pen? Yup! It works like the regular foil glue, but you can write with it. Oh, my. And I bought Leafing Pens.  Have you ever heard of them?  I asked Jane about applying opaque metallic color to dark fabrics and she recommended these.  I had to get one in every color! Paints? Un-huh. And Angelina, foil, Paintstiks, Tsukineko Inks, and everything else you can imagine. Oh, and fabric. And the largest selection of books I’ve seen in a quilt shop.

Check out their website and click on the “Flourish” link for art quilters. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
View from the top

View from the top

Back to the birthday. We ate, we sewed, we ate, we shopped for fabric, we ate, and we hiked.  Yes, we hiked. At some point, you have to work off some of the amazing food Heidi’s husband made for us. This is the view from the trail at Talcott Mountain State Park. We continued a little farther and then climbed to the top of Heublein Tower.

All in all, this was a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday.  Which one? Um, I shouldn’t say. I will tell you there was a “5” and a “0” on the cake.
And so, Happy Birthday, Heidi!

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Annex Entrance On Friday night, March 28, 2008, my good friend Judy Gula opened her new shop, Artistic Artifacts Annex.  On the same night, the Annex hosted a show of art quilts by a collection of Northern Virginia Artists.  This shot shows the entrance, which includes quilts by Priscilla Stultz (left), Elly Dyson (center), and Jean Schachner (right).  The quilt on the far right is by the owner, Judy Gula.

Conversation PitThe Annex offers an important option for Northern Virginia fiber artists: workshop space.  It’s a place where artists can gather, see new things, discuss art, and rent table space to work alongside established artists.  There are new products and a lot of samples and explanations for how to use them.  There’s even a place for folks to relax until the shoppers are finished!  On opening night, this nook featured a busy backgammon board.

Back WallThis shot shows part of the back wall of the classroom and a few more quilts!  From the left, these quilts belong to Marsha White, Mary Ann Shepard (top), Kathy Edwards (bottom), Dotty Eisenhour, and Cathering Armstong.  The classroom can Cooper’s Corneraccommodate 15-20 students depending on the class activities, and it makes a great meeting place for small groups. 

In this corner, you can see a few more pieces from the exhibit.  The work is by Kathy Edwards (top left), Mary Kerr (bottom left), and Linda Cooper.  In my next entry, I’ll show you the rest of the exhibit and tell you more about the new shop.  Stay tuned!

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WorkerDudesDid I mention that my studio is in my home?  Yes, in fact, it’s on the other side of this wall.  As the workerdudes hammered and stapled this lovely Tyvek around the house, my spools of thread hurled themselves from their shelves to have a party on the studio floor.  What does a spool of thread look like when it’s dancing?  I don’t know; they all rolled under the furniture and hid!

It’s been three or four weeks of construction at the homestead.  Windows, roofing, siding, floor refinishing, and now, painting.  It’s a painful process that involves lots and lots of hammers.  Who knew that even the painters would show up with hammers?!  When it’s all done, the house will be lovely, water- and air-tight, and more energy efficient.  But is this enough to make me happy?  Apparently, no.  But I’m a firm believer in making lemonade out of a less-than-ideal situation.  TyvekScrapsDid I mention the hammers?  Hmm, what wonderful, positive thing could come out of this never-ending noise fest? 

Uh, huh.  Tyvek.  After a little dumpster diving for scraps and trying to make the workerdudes understand that I actually want the leftovers, I have a huge bag of Tyvek scraps!  If you are in one of my art quilt classes, get ready!  (I feel like Oprah: “Tyyyyyy’-veh-ekkkkkk!”)  You’ll each get a little miracle fabric when I see you in our next class.  For the rest of you, is there any construction in your future?

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Have I mentioned that I love to teach?  Truly, I do.

Trees Workshop with the Richmond Quilt GuildHere’s a class picture from the workshop I taught this weekend for the Richmond Quilt Guild in Richmond, Virginia.  These ladies bravely wielded their rotary cutters without the aid of rulers to “draw” trees and then created their very own forests.  I am so proud of their work!

I created the original Trees quilt as a timed exercise.  TreesA very talented art quilt instructor, Judy House, challenged us to prepare the design and materials for a landscape quilt and then do the actual work in one hour.  Yes, one hour. 

 The trunks are pieced into the background, even though it looks as though it’s appliqued.  I believe this quilt is a perfect example of letting your fabric do the heavy lifting.  This design is more simplified than my original plan, but I also think it’s better. At the end of the hour, the center panel was pretty much done.

Trees hangs in my studio and reminds me to keep it simple.  In 2006, it brought home a second place ribbon from the New Jersey State Quilt Convention.   

To see more Trees workshop pictures, visit my website www.MoonlightingQuilts.com.  If your guild would like to learn to make their own Trees, contact me at Cyndi@MoonlightingQuilts.com

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