Tag Archives: Elizabeth Barton master class

Yet Another Finish

August has seen one finish after another, and when I say finish I mean I’ve even sewn down the facings. Here’s “Mean Streets” (33 by 22.5 inches) which I began as one of the last assignments of my Elizabeth Barton master class.

I used a grab bag of fabric – eco-dyed linen and silk organza, painted silk organza, coarse weave linen, netting, and a fabric softener sheet. There’s non-woven interfacing under the top to help stabilize the varied assortment of fabric.

The inspiration for all the shadows was a photo of a rough town on the Mexican border. A harsh light filters through a grill to cast stripes of light onto the buildings and street. Away from that light the scene dissolves into shadows.

I really did a lot of free motion quilting on this. In fact, it’s so stiff I think it can stand up on its own.

I made the graffiti with a freezer paper stencil and fabric paint.

I used black netting to give shadows to the side of the building.

Electric wires are strung haphazardly across the buildings.

This piece won’t hang in my house, if my husband has anything to do with it, though I’m proud I managed to realize my initial idea of danger and menace.


Filed under Completed Projects

Making Do With My Experiments

Last week the fabric bits I’ve altered in some fashion spoke to me. They said they wanted to be part of my make do efforts.

My September master class assignment was lost and found edges. To avoid doing my sketches (more on them in another post) I decided to cobble together some of my created fabric bits to improvise blurred and sharp edges. I also added some old triangles and diamonds to my mix of possible materials.

I ended up with two pieces composed at the same time. Hey, piano players use both hands at once, so why shouldn’t I? My works share common colors, but have a different feel.

The Emerald Isles was developed around diamond blocks left over from an old storm at sea quilt. I surrounded them with fabrics I had printed, painted and dribbled paint on. I’m not kidding – some of the fabric is an old sheet used as a drop cloth.


The core of Second Growth was a piece I created using Sherrill Kahn’s book “Creative Mixed Media.” To that I added other printing experiments, plus painted tissue paper. It began much larger, but I decided the top didn’t work so I cut it off. Then I added the blue and yellow outer strips and called it done – for now.

second-growthI have several other pieces to quilt before I get to these, if I get to them. Sometimes a few months in a drawer helps clarify what a piece is best used for. It may need to be part of something bigger or it may need the circular file.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

August Is A Done Deal

For once I actually finished my master class project of the month, plus I almost finished my bonus project. As you may recall, or not, I went with the blue/green print of my old nickname, Jo.

Here’s what I sent in:

I’ve gone with the blue and green blocked out quilt, which I call “It’s All About Me.” After umpteen trial arrangements, I settled on the attached. It finished at 21.5 inches square, a serious shrinkage that came about as I struggled with proportions. To get more of a fade effect I covered some of the printed areas with white organza. I used four thread colors in the quilting. It still needs to be faced, but I held that off in case I want to add more quilting.

August2016 JMM final

My bonus “OK Make Do” quilt is mostly finished. I incorporated your suggestion to list ways to make do with handwritten notes around the edges. I asked friends for ideas. I plan to finish the edges with leftover binding, natch.

August JMM final Make Do

Someday I’ll make the black and gold JO quilt with fading/missing letters. I started to collect different black fabrics for the blocks. I decided that differences in sheen and texture would give more interest.

Elizabeth’s response:

it’s so light and delicate.   The colors, imagery, stitching and treatment all work well together…to give a sense of water and an endless horizon.  Who would expect that it began with text?!  So cool that a textual inspiration can lead to such an atmospheric landscape.

[Re: OK MAKE DO] This is fun and I think you’ll have people stopping and reading all the way round with bent over heads!!!  always good to get your viewer thoroughly involved with the piece…
I think the striped fabrics work very well and carry us through unifying the quilt.  It’s interesting…and it works well…I like the little selvedges do…you did “make do”!!


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Blocked Letters

My August master class offering is a tribute to my old nickname. I made up two approaches but will continue with just one.

Here’s my submission:

I’m sending three variations of the letters design I developed. Two are very slight differences in the orientation of two of the four blocks. One is a different approach in different colors. They all use blocks I printed from a foam stamp. On some I also used oil paint sticks.

In the black and gold versions each block is slightly different. I’ve arranged them so the bottom blocks look like reflections of the top blocks. The setting is traditional, with a narrow edging of gold satin and a border of a dyed old pillow case. I tried many other on point type arrangements but they just didn’t work for me. I did the blocked 2 version because I thought the Js looked like 3s where they met. This version would finish at about 25 inches square.
August JMM blocked 1 resized August JMM blocked 2

In blocked 3 I played with different value intensities of the letters and tried to get a fade effect with the outer blocks. I developed the middle block as an inclusion to break up the horizontal line. The extra Js were added to extend the middle block. Blocked 3 would finish at about 28 inches long by 25 inches high.

August JMM blocked 3 resized

Elizabeth’s response:
I really like the idea of the fading stamp (blocked 1 and 2)….I suggest you make more units and put them together without the border though…the border encloses…and I think if you had, say, 16 of these blocks …and let the marks fade out even more…. as you go along, not in a hugely controlled way, but rather making sure that the boldest and crispest are in the area of importance – as you define it – usually people find somewhere in the center of their visual field is where things are clearest – having two more saturated ones on top  and two softer below… is a nice idea but it doesn’t really come off all that clearly.
I realise I’m totally stream of consciousness here!  will try to be more coherent.
I love the idea…but do more …let it really work for you
don’t box it in with borders…you don’t need them and they’re tight and enclosing…even though that border fabric is really intriguing….
but definitely keep working and let the stamp fade out completely in places – what that will do is force the viewer to “find” the shape for you.  That will keep them engaged with the piece…which is what you want.

And I see that you are experimenting with the fade out in this one (blocked 3)…which has a lovely airy feel.  I think it will work….add some more of  the “ocean” section so that we can envisage expansiveness…crop down the sky a little – which will raise the horizon line for you…also experiment with cutting and sliding some of the sections.
Both the black/gold and the blue/green are great color ways….one very rich, the other very evocative….keep working!!

So, back to the design wall for me. I won’t continue with the black and gold approach right now. I’d need to print a lot more blocks and I can barely get close to finishing less involved pieces each month.

I’ve been modifying the blue/green idea a bit, but don’t know if I’m satisfied with what I’ve done so far.  I doubt I’ll finish it by the end of the month.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

August Master Class

I’m now in month eight of my year long master class with Elizabeth Barton and August’s theme is letters. To date I’ve completely finished about half my projects and am building up a backlog of items to quilt. Right now I’m quilting my rhythm piece, but the others are becoming increasingly restive as they importune me from the design wall.

But back to August and letters. Elizabeth warned us she was going to take off the kid gloves with her comments and she wasn’t kidding. I think her comments on my August sketches were the most critical to date.


I began this assignment by perusing the fonts available in Microsoft Word, but ended up making up my own for 2 of my 3 sketches. I’m sure my hand drawn letters were influenced by what I studied.

Sketch 1 takes part of Hillel’s famous quote, “If not now when?” and outlines the letters in black and red. I printed the letters from Word, though I can’t remember the font name. The letters would be filled in with french knots at varying densities, so the word “now” would be most densely embroidered. I would use an ombre fabric as the background. I thought of reversing the colors so the french knots would be white, but that got tricky to convey in a sketch.

August JMM sketch 1 resized

Sketches 2 and 2a take my old nickname, Jo, and arrange the letters as a square. I see doing this as prints on fabric, with some type of offset effect. One thought I had is to print several variations from the same printing plate (probably self stick foam or a monoprint) and sew them together. I might also overlay the letters in organza.

August JMM sketch 2 resized

August JMM sketch 2a resized

Sketch 3 is a bit of a cheat, as this is a project I just started for a reuse/recycling theme. The letters for the phrase, “OK make do,” are made of fused together selvedges cut into letters I hand drew. The other fabrics are bits from old projects and my husband’s shirts. I’ll be making this anyway, but I’d welcome your insights. I think the yellow block on the right side is too strong but I haven’t yet come up with a replacement.

August JMM sketch 3 resized

As the above indicates, I seem to need my letters to say something rather than just be.

Eliabeth’s response:

It’s a great quote…so one starts well by being attracted to the quotation.
However, how does the design relate to the quote?   It’s 3 horizontal lines, and if you just drew three horizontal line, the middle one with some texture, then it would look like a calm, peaceful design…
so I think the first step would be to figure out how to create the emotion visually….
.also, I’m puzzled, I don’t know the quotation – but without a comma, it doesn’t really read right… is that part of the quotation?
Should each word have equal weight?  You’ve given them each the same visual weight, but if you say it out loud, one doesn’t do that.
One possibility would be to use one of the techniques that we explored earlier in the year: layering…begin in the background, softly quietly low key with the IF, then slightly on top of that and a little more advanced the NOT, and again overlapping and advancing the NOW – each one getting bolder bigger more saturated…until the WHEN nearly knocks you over…..
or, did you want it to feel more resigned, more apathetic ?
Somethng to think about!
This one has a very nice Celtic feel to it!  you’ve got some interesting negative space…and I think if you had 4 repeats of it…and fairly large, it would be very beautiful.
always get the design right first, I think you really love the process of making !! and you get seduced into considering that before you’ve really worked out the design.  I know we all get tempted by that…
However, I do think this one is clear, simple elegant and would look great with more repeats. Also it would  be wonderful in black/grey and white!!

Re the one below… the yellow simply looks like it needs something in it but is otherwise fine…….the bit I’m not sure of with the blue with two triangles on the left side – it looks like a K – since the rest is text, then we are programmed to seek more text and I find a K!!
I like the idea of a recycling message using recycled materials…but again think of the impact of  the design first….I think you did that with the second one which works well…
I suggest you make the design a little simpler since the actual letters will be more varied, used garments and selvedges are great – they add a lot of interest, so keep the rest simple.  So I’d make lots of letters like this, all onto identically sized squares of recycled cloth….
Keep up the positive/negative flip flop – that’s nice and striking….and just get rid of all extraneous stuff..just the squares with the letters…and I’d use many different statements that stem from our childhoods when we were making do without knowing we were recycling!!

I’ve been working on sketch 3 and have indeed simplified it, though I don’t see how to incorporate the statements Elizabeth suggests. As to my other ideas, I’ll be working on a way to print sketch 2, and doing a series of prints sewn together.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

I Don’t Have Rhythm

July’s master class topic has been rhythm and I’ve been out of sync so far. I tried out several ideas that went nowhere, and settled on three sketches that demonstrate my inability to go beyond the most literal interpretations. Elizabeth’s reaction was tepid, at best.

Here’s what I submitted and the critique:

My mind took off in strange directions for this assignment.

I began with syncopation and laid out paper squares and rectangles on a chevron pattern fabric – sketch 1. I would use two different colors than my paper for the shapes and the chevron fabric as background. Since I’m still having issues with my dominant arm I would fuse everything rather than piece. My aim is to suggest patterns but leave gaps to represent pauses, and pattern changes to show musical variations. It reminds me a bit of the rolls you put in player pianos – the Scot Joplin piece made me think of that.
JMMJulySketch1 resized
Then, I found a diagram of feet positions for a waltz, drew it and traced it – sketch 2. I overlapped the drawings to create paths. I love the rhythm of waltzing – 1, 2, 3 – which is why I did three drawings. I’d paint/print/stamp the diagrams on cloth. I’ll have to review my stash for fabric that might actually be worn for a waltzing dress.
JMM July sketch 3 resized
Finally, I thought of the rhythm of Morse code as shown in old movies where the train is speeding down the track and the voice over is conveying important news over the clacks of the transmitter. Since the code is dots and dashes I decided to translate the Paul Klee line, “A line is a dot that went for a walk” into Morse code. I curved the code along a line, traced it three times, and arranged the lines to cross each other – sketch 3. I thought of painting/printing/drawing the curved line on pieces of colored organza and overlapping them. Again, not much sewing would be involved.

JMM July sketch 2 resized

I love all your different interpretations of rhythms….
I think at the end though that you must consider the visual impact of each of these…for example the ones with dots and dashes actually look like a landscape….instead of curving them up and down, how about making them bolder and simply in straight rows but very bold and bright – nice to hide the quote by the way!! I too have used Morse code in a piece…hidden in the stitching and that is fun.
ACtually I would combine your technique from the first sketch and the message and idea of Morse code in the third sketch….the zigzag background does give a sense of radio waves!!!…..
the current arrangement is very symmetrical – and perfect symmetry tends to be rather static.
the Waltz steps were a good idea, but really don’t convey the ONE, two three, ONE two three ..of the waltz…I’m wondering if there’s a way you could bring that Beat out?

we want to get a sense of the actual Beat, and the forward movement suggested by rhythm.
So I”d use what you’ve got but take it a little further…


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas