The last of my bullseye quilts is now complete, and I like to think it’s the best of the bunch. If nothing else, it had the longest maturation time of any.

Here’s the final Bullseye Bubbles (25.5 by 33.5 inches.)

Once the green organza additions began, I felt the need for more bubbles, this time in purple, and spent much time rearranging all those shapes.

After I had them all fused down I worked on a quilting design. I printed a photo of my top in B&W and put a clear page divider over it. Then, I used a dry erase marker to try out quilting designs. Talk about high tech!

Did I make changes? You bet. I needed more bubbles, so I quilted them after I had finished the swirly bits. Are they lovely, round, even bubbles? No, not even close. But that didn’t stop me from adding more.

I’m over bullseyes for a while, but I’ve learned never to say never.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Artistic Endeavors – Protest in Art

Art has been used for many ends, including social criticism.  Honore Daumier, George Grosz, Francesco Goya and William Hogarth are a few of the well known artists who addressed their times through their art.  Graphic Witness, a website devoted to social commentary through graphic imagery from about 1900 on, has some lesser known examples.

Council of War – Daumier

Pillars of Society George Grosz

In these politically fraught and divided times even quilters are using their medium for social comment. The protest quilts exhibited at the recent QuiltCon as I understand it, weren’t part of an organized exhibit, but reflected the views of their individual makers. These quilts addressed women’s rights, guns, incarceration, racism, police brutality, and many other flash point issues.

I have mixed feelings about such quilts in that I look for artistic qualities in how the message is conveyed. Some are heartfelt but I don’t think they’re aesthetically pleasing. I am indeed a snob. Here are a few I felt were effective in combining art and message.

Jessica Wohl White America

Liz Havartine She Was Warned

Juli Smith B4U

Karen Maple Black, Brown and White in Orange

Miriam Coffey The F Word

For a more traditional approach to a social commentary quilt, check out what Love Those Hands At Home is making. And bear in mind that not all social commentary quilts are social protests.

Lucinda Ward Honstain The Reconciliation Quilt (1867)





Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Quilt Shows

The Denim (And Other Old Stuff) Challenge

One of the good (and bad) aspects of art quilt groups is their love of challenges. It’s good to have a starting point for a piece, but I find it can distract me from more long term work. If I have a choice between analyzing and fixing what went wrong on an existing piece and plunging into a new piece, guess which I pick.

At first I wasn’t going to join a recent challenge to use denim and/or old shirts in a piece. I had already used my husband’s shirts (with his permission) to make Shirtsleeves, and I didn’t have any all cotton old jeans.

Then, my husband asked if I could use a pair of his old jeans and a shirt. It was kismet, so I began my challenge piece under the influence of Rayna Gillman’s latest book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts.

I saw that I didn’t have enough denim, but did have damask tablecloths and napkins I had dyed shades of blue.  More kismet. I decided on 6 inch squares as my background, and fused lightweight interfacing to the damask before I cut it. If you don’t stabilize it, the damask will stretch out of shape.

I loved how the denim look changed depending on which side I put up.

Next, I began to slash the squares diagonally and sew strips onto the larger piece. At this point I decided to finish each square with the smaller piece I had cut off. I liked how it made the center small diamonds see-through.

Rayna’s version fills the centers with color, but I thought more color might be too distracting for mine as the background was already different colors. I think my version looks quite different, which shows how versatile some loose guidelines can be for improv work.

The top is done, named (Damask and Denim,) and just needs quilting inspiration.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting

Artistic Endeavors – The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I’m thrilled that so many renowned art museums are making their collections available online. I’m even more thrilled when a digital collection allows me to search for public domain images, so I can find images to use in my art.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) gave me many ways to search its collection – by public domain images (over 20,000,) by most popular, by time period, by object type, by on view, plus an advanced search that allowed me to zero in by many facets, such as exhibition history. Some of the search headings seem a bit quirky, like cherry blossoms. Here I found a contender for the longest title.

Act IV: Envoys from the Shogun Approach Lady Kaoyo and Group at Enya’s Castle, Bringing Sentence of Death to Enya, Lady Kaoyo Is Surrounded by Cherry Blossoms Gathered to Cheer Enya during His Incarceration Japan, circa 1835-1839

As further icing on the cake (no such thing as too much) LACMA has hundreds of textiles in its collection that are in the public domain. Admittedly, many are textile fragments, but from what I saw, these pieces aren’t on public view. The only way you can see them is digitally. A brief pause for a message from my soapbox – many museums don’t display their textile collections. You can see them only online.

The following works in the public domain caught my eye as I browsed.

 Chamba Rumal with Scenes of Gopis Adoring Krishna
India, Himachal Pradesh, probably Kangra, late 18th to early 19th century Textiles; embroidery
Silk embroidery on cotton
30 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.
I think the gopis look like they belong in “The Simpsons.”
Quilt for Four Poster Bed, ‘Variable Star’
United States, New England, 1725-1750, Textiles; quilts
Pieced and quilted wool, 104 1/2 x 102 1/2 in.
I love the blocks where the maker ran out of fabric and made do. At over 100 inches each way this quilt must have made a bold statement on a bed.
Quilt, ‘Log Cabin’ Pattern, ‘Pineapple’ variation
United States, Pennsylvania, 1870-1880 Textiles; quilts
Pieced wool and cotton, 88 x 88 in
 I love the diagonal red stripes that show up occasionally in this one.
Here’s one public domain image I thought would make a striking quilt.
Shoeshine Stand, Southeastern United States
Walker Evans (United States, 1903-1975), United States, circa 1936
Photographs, Gelatin silver print

  As I hope you’ve seen, this site has lots of entertainment value if you like images of art.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

A Long and Winding Road

I love improv work in quilting, though I get frustrated with the number of iterations I do before the product satisfies me. Despite my resolve to do more planning ahead I can’t resist playing around with my sewn together fabric bits without any clear goal in mind.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. While I thought about how to quilt a piece I cleared my mind by sticking some already constructed bits on my design wall. Here’s the early stage. (All the photos in this post are unedited and somewhat blurry.)

I was trying for paths of color through and around my bits.

I’ll fast forward through permutations of the vertical orientation, which I thought was too elongated, to a horizontal arrangement. What used to be on the top is now on the right, and I’m trying a different bit in place of the orange and brown bit. I’m also testing a turquoise edge.

I’ve compromised by using half the darker constructed bit, and I’ve given the lone turquoise triangle (put there to fill in a gap) company. From here on I spend most of my time playing with those triangles.

I’ve emphasized the triangles by putting darker triangles on top to create a reverse shadow effect.  I’ve added a ginkgo leaf cut out of the orange/brown fabric.

I’ve added another leaf and am trying another bit in the top left hand shape.  I’ve graduated the sizes of the triangles to get smaller as they swing around to the left. You can see my outline as I take the photo.


I’ve dropped the insert in the upper left (a mistake to do so?), swung the triangles closer to the top edge, changed the leaf position a bit, and added more darker triangles. At some point I used Inktense pencils to darken the lighter fabric bits in the darkest central area. Those pencils also got used to add more orange to the light upper left bit. I’ve evened out the edges and stuck it in the closet with a potential backing fabric.

Right now I’m heartily sick of it and will leave it in the dark for a while. Maybe it will fix itself, or the quilt brownies will come in and work their magic.


Filed under Commentary, In Process

Artistic Endeavors – Sonia Delaunay

Since I had mentioned Sonia Delaunay in an earlier post I decided to give her a post of her own. In the course of her long life (1885 to 1979) she collaborated with famous artists and poets in 1920s Paris; painted, designed fabrics, clothing and costumes; and co-founded an art movement. And she was the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in 1964.

She claimed a quilt she made for her son was the origin of the Simultanism movement. That name comes from the work of French scientist Michel Eugène Chevreul who identified the phenomenon of ‘simultaneous contrast’, in which colors look different depending on the colors around them. For example, a gray will look lighter on a dark background than it does on a light one.

In Delaunay’s words, “About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son, who had just been born, a blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses of Russian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangement of the pieces of material seemed to me to evoke cubist conceptions and we then tried to apply the same process to other objects and paintings.”

There have been at least two important exhibits of Delaunay’s work since her death.  The one held at the Tate Modern in 2015 is the latest one I found. The Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt’s 2011 exhibit is discussed in a video of the talk given by Dr. Sherry Buckberrough, a Delaunay scholar. Another video gives a slide show of Delaunay’s work.

I want to focus on her clothing and fabric designs as I see lots of inspiration in them for quilts. More practically, they are how Delaunay supported her family. I took photos of designs that caught my eye from “Sonia Delaunay: Art Into Fashion,” 1986, George Braziller, Inc.

First up, clothing designs that women in the 1920s wore. Delaunay also designed theatrical costumes.


Next, ideas for quilting designs.

Finally, ideas for quilt compositions.

And one I’d love to have as a scarf.


Filed under Commentary

Demystifying PhotoShop

This year I’ve vowed to get better at photography. No more crooked or bowed photos of quilts. My spare room now is accessorized with a tripod and lights.

I’m a few weeks into an online class in PhotoShop Elements. I know there’s cheaper/free photo editing software available, but the issue for me is always learning how to use it. My class has already been useful as I clean up and straighten quilts in old photos.

One fun task was abstracting a photo. This is sometimes known as posterizing an image. I know some software will do this automatically, but we’re learning the layers way, which gives more flexibility. I’ve been experimenting with photos from my last year’s Around Here posts.

These abstractions get even cooler when you invert them.

I’m beginning to know enough to become really dangerous.



Filed under Commentary, Techniques