Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kathy's Alpha Mystery

The challenge was to decide how I wanted to portray "Mystery" and how to find just the right Alpha(bet) to accomplish the task.  I found the perfect set of letters on a piece of fabric,  cut out the letters I needed, then scanned them one-by-one onto my computer.  I thought it would be a simple task to re-size the letters and then print them out to use as stencils.   After several very frustrating hours of scanning, printing, re-printing, and going through two ink-jet cartridges and what seemed like a ream of paper, I abandoned the scanner / print / stencil idea.   Next option was to use the fonts in my Mac "iPages" program.   I found a suitable font, enlarged each of the letters I needed approximately 500%,  printed the letters and used them as stencils.   Okay.... the technical work was done.... now on to what I really love to do  !   

Using a stunning piece of ASPIDISTRA fabric created by Jack and Lila Bishop that I'd been saving for just the right project, I stenciled the letters onto the fabric, then free-motion quilted around each letter using Madeira Poly-Neon variegated thread.  I echo-stitched around the letters to give them a shadow-y ["mysterious"] look and to make them look like they're floating on top of [or is it behind ?] the fabric.   The next phase was to 'mount' the quilted letters onto another piece of hand-dyed fabric and to complete the pillow-case binding, the hanging sleeve, and the label.

Photography was next.  Alice's suggestion to take the pictures outdoors was great, and it definitely makes the finished quilt look better.  However, here in Gatesville, TX it was cloudy and overcast most of the day, and the rain seemed like it would never stop.   The outdoor photos had to wait 'til late afternoon.  Then then editing, and finally, this entry that will be posted to our blog !   Thanks for all the great challenges and the opportunities to experiment with new techniques and processes.  See y'all in July :-D

Judy W's Mystery Quilt: "Mystery By Design"

"Mystery By Design" by Judy Wedemeyer (12" x 12")
Every step of development from design to construction was an unfolding mystery for me.  Without a doubt, this has been one of my most personally satisfying art quilts to date.

I created a curved line alphabet, assigning a line per letter, and then spelled out M-Y-S-T-E-R-Y to draft a 4" line design.  That 4" line design was repeated in a 4 X 4 grid. (see photo below)
xerox repeat design on left, tracing paper copy on right

I used tracing paper to test color alternatives before I finalized a section on paper with colored Sharpies.  As I pulled fabrics I  simplified some of my design even further.  Using either clear template plastic and/or tracing onto fusible Wonder Under allowed me to fussy cut specific fabric areas like the batik flowers and pink diamonds and heart shaped pieces.  Ironing stabilizer on top of the xerox paper design enabled me to place the fuse-backed fabric shapes in their proper positions and make fabric changes if desired before ironing them down.
quilting with metallic threads
Quilting with metallic threads has always been somewhat of a mystery for me so I thought what better project than this to experiment with them.  Adjusting the upper tension slightly looser (4 on my Bernina), using a 90/14 Topstitch needle, Bobbin thread (like lingerie thread) in the bobbin, lubricating the metallic thread spools with Sew Aid and machine stitching at a moderate speed worked the best for me.  My comfort zone has increased dramatically after quilting this piece entirely with metallic thread (including hollow shimmer), but I wouldn't say I'm proficient quite yet.  At least I have solved some of the 'mysteries' in tackling this project head on.
The first 6 letters of my curved line alphabet. The beauty of this concept is that I can change all the lines to create an entirely new alphabet ~ perhaps mixing straight with curved lines.

Andrea's Mystery Quilt-Jack The (seam) Ripper

Ahhhh...I love a good mystery, especially a British one!
My first thought was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, then thought of, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  After a few days of considering those two options, I thought of Jack The Ripper, as I have been fascinated with him for as long as I can remember .  At some point, after I decided that Jack would be my "victim", I realized that I have been associated with a "ripper" for the past 15+ years, so the concept of Jack The (seam) Ripper was born!
The background is silkscreened and rubber stamped on antique linen that I dipped in very watered-down black acrylic paint.  The background images are from a photo of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings; a Victorian street map of the area in London where Jack committed his crimes; and a bit of information regarding the Whitechapel murders and the victims names.  Even though I wanted this to be a whimsical piece, I felt a certain obligation to acknowledge the murdered women.  The last surface design element is a large rubber stamp question mark.  The houses are silkscreened on cotton, cut out and fused, "Jack" is fused black organza and the lettering is fused, free-hand cut out of black cotton.  Originally I intended to include the word (seam) on the quilt, but thought an actual seam ripper would add a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor!  I don't think they show up very well in the photo, but I made a number of slits into the background with the seam ripper also.

Sara's Mystery - The Mystery of the Beyond

The idea for this quilt was fired while taking a class on Improvisational Curves with Vikki Pignatelli at Quilting Adventures this March. I was playing with spirals and luminosity and then decided on a purple spiral tunnel - Purple seems to be the color of mystery, a spiral is a symbol of mystery and the concept of a tunnel with the light at the end is a symbol of the biggest mystery those living face. The techniques were all learned in Vikki's class.  There is a variety of fabric in this - lame bonded to a polyester sheer, a heavy moire and even a scrap left over from a Crown Royal bag my friend had me make a quilt from (she did the drinking not me!)

Barbara's Mystery Quilt: MissTree


So, with our challenge word mystery, I wasn't sure which way to go with it and none of my ideas shouted to me. My daughter, Jodi, helped listen to my cranky ranting one evening and then inspiration happened!  
We had a huge ficus tree in our front yard that covered our roof and dropped berries twice a year which would ferment if you didn't pick them up fast enough!!  One year, a large branch broke under the weight of the leaves and berries.  We had it taken out and its roots were traveling under our driveway and up under our front door step! 

Do I miss that tree? No! (well just a little!) 

So I used the grid, a lesson online at Joggles.com (Jane LaFazio's class Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs from Life) to pay homage to the missing tree. The large berries are inked on fabric and painted with Neocolor II watercolor crayons. I embroidered the grid in black perle cotton using a wrapped chain stitch. The french knots in the small berries and the roots of the tree are in embroidery floss.  It's called MissTree.  The missing tree was photo transferred onto ExtravOrganza (in the top right quadrant).  The bird, an Ikea fabric, is looking for all those missing berries!

Nedra's "Mystery Lady"

When the new theme was announced, I thought of mystery novels first but wanted to venture beyond that interpretation of the word.  I thought of songs with the word mystery in them and remembered a song by Billy Ocean called Mystery Lady which I love.  I then pictured a lovely woman with dark flowing hair and 
downturned eyes.  I found a painting that almost perfectly portrayed the mystery lady I envisioned.  Ronnie Biccard is the artist who painted the "Goddess of the Sea" which became my inspiration for "Mystery Lady".  I have actually been in touch with her, received her permission to use her painting and post my version of it. 
I had recently viewed an on-line tutorial using white crayons as a resist in fabric dying and I thought I could use that technique to recreate the look of the painting.  I did try the technique and it worked, well sort of.  I made the mistake of ironing the piece and the crayon lines became gray instead of white.  I redrew them many times before the piece was finished.  However, when I layered the tulle over the sky and hair to try to get the right colors, the lines disappeared.  I used the satin stitch to emphasize them.  I am pleased with the overall effect and look of the piece.  I do think it is better seen in person as the lighting in the photo is unbalanced despite trying many different lighting options.

It was a great learning experience though as I used several new materials and techniques; crayons, thread, tulle, paint and crystals were used to complete the look.  I started a blog called the Quilted Giraffe where I have posted past 12 X 12's.  I have made 2 or 3 pieces for the previous themes, this one included.  You will find pictures of the other renditions of the themes,  the original Goddess of the Sea and how I created it  and other work of mine at this address.

Linda’s Mystery Quilt: The Keys in Hiding ~ Again!

      It’s an increasing MYSTERY where I have placed things! 

      In the midst of creating my first attempt at this mystery quilt, Que Sera Sera (below)the puzzle of children’s development, I needed a crystal ball and finally made one that doesn’t photograph as good as it looks. At the same time, I re-read Art and Fear, which gave me the nerve to paint the rabbit.  I Googled Alice’s rabbit, Images, and sketched a composite, however anatomically challenged he is.  I dove into my Lumiere textile paints and was surprised how slowly they built up compared with my other paints. I added a black permanent marker in spots. My background fabric awaited.
      To make the crystal ball, I traced a saucer onto freezer paper and ironed the freezer paper to fabric. I folded in the edges (Katie P-M suggests spray starch) and blind-stitched it. I opened the backing and added polyfill. It needed more. In my stash I found this sheer fabric that doesn’t fray. I cut it out and used a spray glue to the edges. Next, I began to quilt things to batting. I took silver embroidery floss to stitch around the globe, after inserting a felt key. I also used embroidery thread on the clock.I needed bubbles for thoughts. I first photographed the piece and added it to Comic Life software to test bubble shapes and colors. Then I cut out fabric onto which I had ironed Wonder Under and printed the thoughts with Fabrico, a permanent marker. The fabric for the backside was too small,  but I hastily glued it down and stitched over all with invisible thread to suggest the speed of the frantic rabbit. Perhaps some hands or fingers are needed to hover over the ball, but it’s late, it’s late!

        Neither is perfect, but I made so many mistakes and learned several new techniques.That is a special bonus of art journal quilting!


Carolyn's Mystery Quilt - Santa Fe Doors

Santa Fe is my favorite U.S. city.  I visit it often, and am always intrigued by the colorful doors of the adobe homes.  I always want to know what's inside.

Santa Fe residents favor the color blue, which no doubt, is in honor of the deep blue of the glorious Santa Fe sky.  Door colors range from soft periwinkle to bright turquoise to deep blue.  No two doors are alike, and all serve as a welcome to those who pass by.

The city is known for its abundant gardens, and behind each door is a courtyard, often filled with beds or pots of various blooming flowers that thrive in the Santa Fe climate.  Flower filled pots sit atop the adobe walls that separate the courtyard from additional buildings.  Frequently, a string of red peppers hangs from the colorful door.

After taking a class from Laura Wasilowski, I fused hand dyed fabric using Wonder Under and cut the pieces freehand.  I designed the quilt as it evolved in my mind.  Each piece was appliquéd onto a hand dyed background fabric.  Additional hand dyed and batik fabrics were prepared in the same manner and used for plants and details.  I used a batik fabric for the walkway and then individually cut and appliquéd a border of stones from the batik fabric and placed them along each side of the entrance garden.  The quilt was finished with hand embroidery (a new technique for me that I am exploring) and machine quilting.

Judy S. "Mystery of Nature"

I grew up on a farm in Missouri and love everything about the country, especially taking walks in the woods. Discovering the tiny treasures that are all around is so wonderful. I miss seeing the sweet little “May apples”. I’m never home for a visit around that time of the year.

I would pick up treasures on my walks like milkweed pods, acorns, and leaves to take home and make some little craft item.  Several years I went out to the corn field and picked the perfect cornhusks and silks to make cornhusks dolls. The silks were carefully laid out on boards in the machine shed to dry and turn into their beautiful reddish brown color for hair. 

For this quilt I wanted to show a silhouette of a tree at sunset or sunrise. Then I would overlay it with leaves. I used organza for the leaves so that the background would show through and quilted the whole piece adding detail to the tree and leaves. When I put it up on the design wall I couldn’t stand it. It was just globs of color on fabric. There is no photo of that stage because it really looked awful and there was no fixing it. I didn’t think it would even be a component of my final quilt. 

I never understood how an artist could throw away or paint over something. This day I understood. I took it to the cutting table and just sliced it up into pieces. Didn’t photograph that either since I just thought I was cutting it up. Then I tossed the pieces into a pile. 

 Hmm, toss these onto a background fabric. The mystery is trying to see the hidden pieces of nature in them. Once they were on the background fabric I put a tiny smear of glue under each one to hold it in place. The quilting from the original one shows up well so, to make the final quilt I only quilted around each individual piece. I kind of like the batting and backing of the first quilt peeking out. The mystery of nature, art, and quilts all in one little 12x12 piece.

Rita's Mystery of the Mask

Perhaps this small story should start with my thought processes of choosing the word MYSTERY.  This past year our quilt guild had invited a quilt artist that specializes in Crazy Quilts and after seeing her beautiful work, I had wanted to try my hand at this technique.  The opulence of the Crazy Quilt, the beads, the ornaments, the glitz, put me in mind of New Orleans's Mardi Gras.  And of course, many of the revelers are masked.  So my vision was to put a mask on top of a Crazy Quilt background.  So if this was to be my Material Mavens project, what word would perhaps portray this piece?  This is how I came to propose the word MYSTERY.  My husband, in trying to understand where I was going with this, as it was under construction, commented about two masks often representing two aspects of the human condition, that of Joy and Tragedy which are usually portrayed as white and black.  I then decided to add the second mask with a button tear.

The fabrics are four colors of cotton sateen: green, purple, navy, and brown.  I made four squares trying to alternate the colors to make it as 'crazy' as possible.  I have many, many old linens and crocheted items that were made by my family or were 'found' items.  I had pulled these together in the hopes of making a large Crazy Quilt at some point.  I dug into this stash for this little quilt.  Pieces of old doilies (remember doilies?), pillowcase trim, dresser scarf edging and other like fabrics were inserted into the seams of the sateen.  This was then embellished with fancy stitches in many colors sewn on by machine with rayon machine embroidery thread.  The four squares were then stitched together,edge to edge,  and the seams covered with ribbon.  The masks are constructed of heavy duty Pellon interfacing covered with heavy satin, trimmed with fringe.  These are attached with permanent fabric glue to the Crazy Quilt background so they stand out dimensionally from the background.  The final touch was the addition of period style art buttons.

As with all the rest of my Material Mavens offerings, this is also done as a gallery wrap around a twelve inch by twelve inch by three fourth inch deep frame.  The second picture is to show this dimension.

Alice's Mystery Quilt--The Tears of the Giraffes

I’ve been a fan of mystery books since my Nancy Drew days.  As soon as I learned May’s theme, I decided to base it on the title of a mystery that I’d read.   For the past few months, I’ve been reading the gentle, life-affirming, non-violent mysteries of Alexander McCall Smith.

After I read Smith’s THE TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE in March, I knew that I had found the title to portray May’s Mystery theme.  I took an easy way out, using a batik panel of a giraffe herd that I’ve had for several years.  I trimmed it to size and basted it to some polyester felt, which became the batting.

To compensate for not taking the time and brain work to come up with my own design, I decided to quilt it using nothing but hand embroidery stitches.  I further challenged myself to use only stitches I’d never tackled before, employing both Perle cotton and regular embroidery floss.  I enjoyed learning how to do the back stitch, discovering that nothing works quite so well for curved areas, and so that stitch predominates in this quilt.  I also used the seed stitch, the feather stitch, and the fly stitch. To fill in the background I embroidered teardrop shapes, using the variegated, hand-dyed Perle thread that fellow Maven Carolyn brought me as a gift from Quilting Adventures.

For the eyes of my three giraffes I sewed on white beads, and then of course my crying giraffes needed tears.  I hunted fruitlessly for teardrop beads in the few local sources for beads, but finally I gave up, using stick-on scrapbooking “jewels”.  After the quilting/embroidery was done, I finished the quilt with the pillowcase method, using a dark red batik for the backing. 

P.S.  Batik artist “Krisna” designed this giraffe-herd panel.  I cut out and fused Krisna’s name to give credit where credit is due!  Oh, and in trimming down the panel, that sadly left only the hind quarters of two of the giraffes!