Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Next theme.....

Colleen, as we know, is otherwise occupied today, so she asked me to post her choice for the next theme.
Drum roll please: it is “Fine Living."
Have fun with it, everyone!

Each small step ....

I looked at steps outside churches, up hills, on pavements, across rivers - in fact it feels as though I looked at every one of the 2,190,000,000 image results that Google offered me. And none of them sparked that something that eventually produces a quilt. I even got out the sketchbook and used some of my newly acquired skills, but to no avail. Having spent so much time on researching this challenge I decided to go back to my sketchbook course to prevent falling further behind, whilst I let the theme stew for a while.  It turns out that 'text' was the next area of study, and there suddenly a quilt was asking to be made:

Baby Steps

Baby Steps

It can be inspirational to observe the natural learning process, most easily recognized in kids of all ages when they have happened on to something that really motivates them. In this mindset, they will practice tirelessly as if some longer term influence has taken hold, driving a particular need to practice the steps over and over, building on the knowledge that brings it to a new level of understanding. You notice this in kids learning to walk, talk or skate; a teenage girl trying to master a jump or twirl. There is an undeniable mind body joyfulness endlessly spurring on that one more lap to feel the legs or one more round, to understand the flow, building up both the physical and mental memory. I was most keenly aware of this phenomenon in a dear friend last summer, when during the last few months of her sadly shortened life, she was most determined to reestablish her ability to walk. And she did! Her efforts were very rewarding, to her especially and for this and throughout her life she was and is an inspiration to all who knew her. More recently, I was fortunate to spend an intense and wonderful 2 weeks with my 1.5 and 3 year old grandchildren. It was a real treat to watch their non-stop trial and error learning, savouring each step, and exploring at play, each possibilitiy with carefree abandon . That "bring it on" mindset and curiosity for understanding continues to teach me to value those" baby steps "of learning, for a lifetime.

Man's Best Friend

You can probably tell I don't have a dog by the awkwardness of the paw prints.  And we don't have any snow to be able to check...  Foot prints were the first things to come to mind - and then ladders.  I had been successful portraying crop circles using the faux chenille technique so I wanted to try out footprints in snow.  To add a bit more interest I made it taking the dog for a walk to include how dogs zigzag from left to right always on the scent trail.
Man's Best Friend
The boot print is my actual walking boot and I hope I have been able to show three layers - the fluffy snow, the boot print and the track print.  What doesn't show are the twinkly bits of silver, sparkly threads and even glitter in the snow.  Another time I might use two layers of white organza as the top layers - or maybe one on top and one buried in the other layers...  Edge is satin stitched and then my favourite twisted cord added.

What does show are pencil/graphite marks where I stitched through tracing paper to get the outlines - drat!!!!

One day I want to create the 'summer' version of foot prints on the beach.


Chinese Steps

Inspired by Heather's photos of steps, I suddenly remembered a photo my daughter took in Chinatown, Montreal. A wonderful dragon, or possibly a snake, had been graffitied all along a fire escape. In my piece the windows are all pieced, then the dragon was painted on. The steps were fused in place, and then the railings added with couched thread.

Salmon ladder

It was really hard to settle on a picture to represent steps.  Way too many ideas.  In fact two are still on the drawing board and I hope to finish them.  

This is based on a picture of a salmon ladder that I took on a trip to Alaska a few years ago.  Salmon always swim upstream to spawn.  Hatcheries have developed along the coast to aid this process.  The eggs from the wild salmon are hatched and the fingerlings are returned back to the ocean at an age where they have more of a chance of survival.  Hence the ladder effect with the water flowing from the top to the bottom and the salmon leaping over the barriers to get to the top.

I used a base of indigo fabric from our summer workshop, then drew the "steps" onto freezer paper, ironed it onto fabric, ironed on fusible web, cut it out, and then ironed it onto the blue.  Lots of stitching, painting and a little applique finished it off.  

A step that I did made me feel a little like David Hockney.  I took a picture of the in-process piece with my ipad, popped it into a drawing app, and then played around with the beach and the foliage as I just wasn't getting the composition right.  But it was fun to do, and gave me a sense of where I wanted to go with the design.

and this is the original photo.

'Steps - a process'

‘Steps – a process.’

My original idea was to have different thermofax screens made depicting different types of staircases. I was then going to write words that came to mind on the subject, over the staircase and the whole piece. Circumstances prevented me from doing this.

Instead I started with a piece of muslin over which I printed in green and purple using stencils and found objects. I used green because it symbolizes generosity, renewal, inexperience and purple because it symbolizes spirituality, mystery, transformation and enlightenment. These two colors are appropriate for the theme of this piece.

The techniques used were stitch and painting. I started this piece before our last text’art workshop. Armed with new knowledge about color taught to us by Heather, I combined the green and the purple of the steps to give the wall color. The words on this piece were photocopied onto tissue paper and applied to the piece with a matte medium

Steps - A View from a Venetian Gondola

Taking pictures of steps all over the world has been my passion. These steps, in particular, were especially interesting because they begin at water level in Venice and the view can only be by gondola.

I especially enjoy taking pictures of steps because of the possibility of "where these steps lead" and imagining stories of those who trod up to their destination.

I used Roxio (similar to Photoshop) program to enhance the main picture. Then printed it on cheesecloth that was prepared with Digital Ground White Matte made by Golden. This product allows for the ink to adhere to most materials that will be sent through an ink jet printer.

My background fabric was painted with Seta Color using the Sky Dye Techniques of Mickey Lawler. I altered another photograph of steps taken in Nice and printed it on organza for the overlay to create the feeling of many steps and of masonry walls.

STEPS - before its too late!!

Torn between two issues of high profile in the country at the moment, the ANC celebrating 100 years and our Rhino's being mutilated for their horns, I opted for the one that to me is more important.  If we do not seriously start taking steps to save our Rhino' s , seeing this in the open will be a thing of the past.

Painted, thermofaxed, fused, stitched and then more paint ..... I have battled to take an accurate picture of the work.  In reality the 'grades' of green are more blended and softer.  For some reason the blues in the middle fabric are dominant in the photo.

Next Step?

What is my next step after Galerie Ouest? Who knows? This piece depicts my beloved gallery in the summer, window boxes in full bloom. The image is printed onto cotton, ironed onto freezer paper, then machine quilted. The flowers are hand embroidered and the gallery banners are painted with Tsukineko ink.

Step(ping) Stones Across a River

I have managed to get my picture up amazingly as we have been without internet for the past week due to the fact that we had a massive electrical storm last week and our server was struck by lightning. I trust this get to you all.

I had fun with this one as I did not want to do an Urban Scene and wanted to do something different. I had some inspiration and had fun with this using painted Tyvek for the boulder/stones and thread painting for the vegetation.

Stairway to Surgery

I have been waiting to have surgery. The surgeon said it would be 10 weeks before the hysterectomy would take place to remove an ovarion cyst. It has now been 27 weeks. Ironically, I am scheduled to have surgery tomorrow!!! Yippee!
My Stairway to Surgery (depicted with the Canadian Medical Assosiation logo) has been a little rocky and bumpy. I chose to quilt my sometimes flaming mood into the background. I hope to have laproscopic surgery and avoid an incision but I thought the use of the indigo fabric with small stitching lines and the stitiched binding was very fitting.

Steps: The Plateau

Montreal's Plateau is a now-trendy urban neighbourhood that has been home to a succession of immigrant groups. You would think that Montreal, city of ice and snow, would not embrace outdoor staircases, but in fact they are a signature feature of Montreal architecture. I have been told that when houses were taxed on the basis of their "footprint", building the staircase for a duplex outdoors represented a tax savings as well as a savings on construction costs.

This piece is meant as a companion to the Quebec City piece, made in response to the Street Life challenge. It, too, was based on a photo and was made using a line drawing traced onto water-soluble stabilizer.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A queue!

How interesting it is to see six posts all queued up for the 29th! Has everyone been able to resist taking a quick peep I wonder?

Linda B

And yet more Exquisite Corpses

Top piece: Head by Marion Perrault, Torso by Helena Scheffer, Legs by Donna Casa
Middle: Head by Wendy Browne, Torso by Noreen Lavallee, Legs by Colleen Paul
Bottom: Head by Helena Scheffer, Torso by Susanne Strater, Legs by Sarah Robinson

Three more Exquisite Corpses

Artists from top: Head by Pamela Chasen, Torso by Michele Meredith, Legs by Heather Dubreuil
Middle piece: Head by Heather Dubreuil, Torso by Pamela Chasen, Legs by Michele Meredith
Bottom piece: Head by Michele Meredith, Torso by Heather Dubreuil, Legs by Pamela Chasen

As requested, close-ups of Exquisite Corpses

 The concept was that three artists would work on each piece - without consulting each other - one doing the head, another the torso and the third, the legs. Then the 3 pieces were put together and framed. There were 30 in all. In my last post, I forgot to mention that Hilary and Rosie did a corpse with Dianne, and donated it for a raffle that I organized for animal rescue. The raffle collected $450, and a member of our quilt guild won it, so it was a great result all around. Here is a photo: Head by Rosie Francis, Torso by Dianne Robinson, Legs by Hilary Gooding.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Exquisite Corpse Exhibition at Galerie Ouest

The gallery closed on January 29, and I moved the final show to our local library for the month of February. The show came down for the last time on Sunday, February 26. I thought I would share the textile pieces created by our Montreal 12 by the Dozen members with you before they become a distant memory.  The textile and 3-D pieces were incredibly creative, and photos cannot convey how imaginative and finely crafted they are.

Friday, 24 February 2012


For Linda F.  Looking out the front door this afternoon.  

And the next theme is to be decided by .....

In Hilary's absence she asked me to use 'The Hat' once again to select who will name the theme for the next challenge. And the winner is ...

I look forward to seeing what you choose Colleen!

Linda B.

Spring in the UK

Just to make all our Canadian members slightly jealous, here some daffodils I saw last weekend in Wales. It was actually a cold weekend, and snow (sleet?) fell a few hours later, but the woods and hedgerows are carpeted with snowdrops, and crocus are appearing everywhere. Yesterday we had a mild spell -and Mick and I had lunch in the garden!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

On-line course, Part 2

It has steps but it's not my Steps challenge piece.

As promised, here is the second art quilt I made for Liz Barton's on-line course, "Inspired to Design". First, the photo that inspired me, taken from a window at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal, overlooking an alley.

Then, the line drawing based on the photo.
Then, the "value study". I tried to place the area with the highest value contrast at the focal point, the chairs.
Finally, the finished piece, measuring 12" x 24".

This one has fused shapes in hand-dyes and commercial cotton, essentially in a complementary blue-and-orange scheme. The shapes are outline-stitched-and-quilted with matching thread, and a heavier thread is used to "draw in" the chairs, windows and railings. I lengthened the piece, top and bottom, by about 2". There's not much quilting on it, but then again it's going to be mounted on a canvas so that will flatten it out.

I'm reasonably pleased with it, and hope to do more in this series. I would have started a third one (the class doesn't close until Saturday) but alas, I will be busy preparing tax documents for the family for the next few days.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Steps Teaser

This collaged photocopy is a byproduct from the photo series used as transfers in my Steps piece. I had to transform the gas station sign into a full moon to bring romance to the hockey rink, but that is the beauty of collage!

Stepping Up?

Hope I'm not stepping on any toes, but just checking to see if your are stepping up to the Challenge that ends in just over a week?

Are you taking steps to finish? Do you need to quicken your step?

I am high stepping it this week to finish up. I have so enjoyed the step-by-step process.

You have all raised my skills another step and I can't wait to see the unveiling on Feb. 29 - perfectly coordinated with Leap Day - our extra step for the year!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

On-line course

I have been taking a wonderful on-line course with Liz Barton, through, called "Inspired to Design". I have just finished an art quilt based on work done for the course, and wanted to share the process with you. Above is a photo taken in Brooklyn last year, and below is the image translated into a line drawing.

We were encouraged to make value studies, filling in the shapes with dark, medium and light values, and to organize our fabrics by value. In the fourth and last week, Liz explained how she realizes her design in fabric. I used some of her techniques, but not others, and produced this version below, measuring 16" x 21", using hand-dyes.
I'm pleased with the result, and have already started on another project. The "virtual classroom" is open for another ten days or so, and I hope to get feedback from the teacher as I go along. One of the features of the course is that you can monitor the progress of all the other students, seeing what images they post, and eavesdropping on their exchanges with the instructor. Liz responded to every comment, usually within just a few hours. Her insights were spot-on, very valuable and instructive. Students came from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe.

I can't say enough good things about the course, and hope to take her class "Working in a Series", planned for May. It has been a lot of work, but I have learned a lot and have what I hope is the beginning of a series here.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A website worth your time

Here is a website that was recommended by Elizabeth Barton in the class I am taking.

It features a very interesting mini-lecture on the construction of a particular Vermeer painting. I haven't explored the rest of the website, but it promises to be an amazing resource that I plan to return to.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

street art

was in manhattan from thurs - sun. my kids and i did a scavenger hunt in soho yesterday. stumbled into a gallery - pop international galleries - and saw the amazing street art of 2ESAE and SKI. their stuff reminded me a lot of michelle's latest works. google them or take a look at this fickr album

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Experiments with Dyeing

Dianne recently loaned me a wonderful book about colour, given to her by Hilary. It is the best book on the subject that I have ever read, titled "Colour: a workshop for artists and designers" and written by David Hornung. My own copy is currently on its way to me from Amazon.

Some of the ideas in the book prompted me to try something new with my hand-dyed fabrics. Usually I have been quite happy to do a simple gradation of colour, whether a bright or a neutral. This time, I took some of my surplus brightly-dyed fat quarters and tried to tone them down by dyeing them with a complementary. I used the indigo that I had on hand to work magic on my oranges:

my last drop of eggplant on the yellows:

and the last bit of turkey red on some greens and turquoises:

I was trying to get some interesting shades to use for the on-line course I'm taking through The course is called "Inspired to Design", with Liz Barton, and it is very absorbing. Classes 1 and 2 were about using photographs, (and music, poems, shapes) to come up with line drawings, and then isolating single elements or manipulating the drawing to come up with something new. Class 3 was about adding value to the design and choosing a palette of hand-dyed fabrics to work with. In the final class, Liz will explain her technique of getting from drawing to a finished fabric piece. Most of my images are urban-themed, so I was looking for a more nuanced palette.

One of the points made in the book is that if you mix a little bit of a single colour into your chosen palette of primaries and secondaries, you will create a more unified palette of colour. Usually this single mixing colour is a neutral, but not always. So in the case of my dyeing experiments, it was the indigo for one batch, the eggplant for the second, and the turkey red for the third. Some of the results were quite unexpected, but on the whole I am happy with the effort.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

More Steps


On a trip to Manchester, I found this in the tourist information.

Would love to have seen it but we had a steam train to catch!