Tag Archives: silk organza

Two Years of Mystery

Sometimes I conclude I should give up on a piece – it just isn’t coming together, an average first grader could do better, lots of effort only seems to make it worse, etc. I suspect you’ve been there.

“Blues” was my latest reason to throw in the rotary cutter. It began with lots of blue and blue/green fabrics, and included hand embroidered blocks. It ended in deep frustration and taught me there’s a reason why Paul Klee is considered an art master and I’m not.

My inspiration was Klee’s “It’s About Time.”

I mangled it to this.

Dated 10/17

Feeling utterly defeated, I hung it on a hanger, shoved it to one side of the fabric closet, and ignored it. I made other pieces since 2017, but this one kept bugging me. Damn it, I had put too much time in it to abandon ship. I cogitated and remembered another Klee painting. If he got me into this mess, surely he could get me out.

The possible solution I saw was to use transparent colored organza and narrow strips to give my poor “Blues” coherency. At first I played with tissue paper and overlays.

Then, I painted a lot of silk organza, cut it into strips, and backed it with Misty Fuse. I was so glad I had a 5 pack of Teflon sheets. Then I began playing.

I added thin bias strips, many of which I made myself (insert pat on back here.)

It didn’t seem like enough, so I added already fused spheres from an earlier project to echo all the circles in the original fabrics. By now I had certainly strayed from the original inspiration.

I added a few more spheres and will sew them down, along with the thin strips. Once that’s done I can quilt it after I cut off about 3 inches from the left side.

Oh no, more decisions. At least I have a title – “Let The Mystery Be.” Thanks to Iris DeMent for a great song. I’ve linked to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

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.

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Filed under Completed Projects

Sunshine for Gray Days

November in northeast Ohio finally got the memo about gray skies and cold temps, so I was happy to work with yellow and other cheerful colors as I finished up “Unfolding.” It was the transparency  assignment for my master class, made with painted silk organza.

unfolding-2

I sewed down the tear drop shaped organza pieces with a machine blanket stitch, and quilted large leaves on top of those shapes with rayon and cotton thread. The edges are faced and the completed piece measures about 25 inches square. The pale yellow background doesn’t photograph well under gray skies, but the version under artificial light came out way off.

I’ll return to my November assignment soon, but thought we could all use some sunshine.

 

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Sheer Layers, Sheer Fun

My May master class assignment is layers, which is right in my wheelhouse. You may recall my rhapsodies over my Empty Spools translucent fabric class. I haven’t worked with transparency since I finished The Big Bang. My first step will be to paint yards of silk organza.

The_Big_Bang_Joanna_Mack

Below is what I sent Elizabeth and her response:

For this assignment I went wild with tissue paper collage, but I did convert my photos to black and white. I plan to use painted silk organza for my piece. I’ve used it before for transparency work and find it works well fused or stitched.

 As to examples of painters and quilters that use layering effects, here are a few:

http://sweet-station.com/blog/2014/04/heath-west/
http://www.cruz-diez.com/work/couleur-additive/2000-2009/
http://www.jdmeyer.com/quilts1.htm
http://www.neldawarkentin.com/gallery/
http://jssgallery.org/Paintings/Lady_Agnew.htm (look at the sleeves)

I’ve been collecting examples of transparency on a Pinterest board for some time.
https://www.pinterest.com/ohiojoanna/transparency/

I used a candle flame shape (seems to be a popular choice in this class) in three sizes, and did trace the shapes for part 3 of our assignment.  My sketch 1 layers the basic shapes over each other in a mirrored effect. Sketch 2 layers a full view with detail. I considered putting something in the center-ish opening, but decided to leave it alone for now. Sketch 3 combines two different sketches. In this one, I erased extraneous lines and shaded in what would be color overlays. I tried several crops, but decided to send the most inclusive version. I think it may be too busy unless I go really big.

I like the ideas and the shapes – great thought to use tissue paper to work out designs.  I find the one above just a little too symmetrical to be really interesting….though the surprise of the very transparent layer is rather nice…
However the one below is very good I think and it works well…there’s a nice flow of movement around the shape…
I do keep wondering if it should be rotated 90 degrees to the left as you have a lot of weight on the left hand side…
I do like the way the negative space reflects the positive shapes – good one!
also the little unexpected shapes as one works one’s way around…can’t see any adjustments, I’d make at this stage.

 

Nice sketch, symmetrical but not too much…lots of flow and opportunities for overlapping layers and shifts in hue and value..works very well in a square –
I like the way some of the leaves go right off the edge, but the circle always pulls us around…it should make up very well – don’t make it too small!!!  It will work as big as you can do!


As always, with the blocked out piece due on the 20th of the month, I don’t have time to get too elaborate. That means I will most likely make up sketch 2 and save sketch 3 for later.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

Leaving October

deck view

This is the view from my deck at 7:10 a.m. this morning. It’s why I put up with snowy roads to climb in the winter.

Leaves have been preoccupying me this past week. I’m trying out some mixed media supplies, mostly color sprays and ink pads for journaling and scrapbooking. More on that later, but I wanted to do some small practice pieces that featured autumn leaves.

I sorted through my silk organza scraps to find yellows, reds, and burnt siennas. Then I sandwiched the scraps between two layers of Solvy, traced a leaf onto the Solvy with a Sharpie, and free motion stitched the layers together. A dip in a bucket dissolved the Solvy, and I had some leaves.

leaf constructionleaves sewn with solvyMack_Joanna_leaves sewn and cutI think I’ve finally found something I like to free motion stitch.

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Filed under In Process, Techniques

Cutting The Cord

Recently a commenter asked me how I knew a piece was done. I responded that for me it was intuitive, but on further reflection I’ve decided it’s like the advice Coco Chanel supposedly gave for accessorizing an outfit. Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”

Mlle. Chanel devoted far more thought to dressing than I ever have, but I think the principle’s the same: go a bit over the edge and then back off a touch. I try to add to a quilt until it’s just too much of a muchness (from Chanel to Alice in Wonderland in the same paragraph!) Then I stop and remove something. Usually that does the trick for me.

I also concur with painter Jamie Wyeth who said in his August 14, 2014, interview on Here and Now: “All the inadequacies jump out at me. … I don’t really finish a picture but it gets to the point of diminishing returns, and I just say, enough.”

I hope I’ve set the stage to debut The Big Bang, which I wrote about as my problem project.

The_Big_Bang_Joanna_MackI felt it needed more – more subtlety, more mystery, more depth. However, I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I painted more silk organza and cheesecloth, but found layering them on top gave a monochromatic effect.

After I removed those layers I hit on using them selectively, in particular the cheesecloth. I recalled photos of galaxies where clouds of matter swirled about. That was the effect I sought.

LagoonCA2007_mayda_rc720

Many hand stitches with metallic and silk threads later, I declare this piece finished.

detail 1detail 2detail 3Of course there are aspects I’d like to change. My bottom layer of fabric worked for the initial concept, but now doesn’t quite fit. I toyed with starting afresh with a dark fabric, but realized the transparency effect wouldn’t show as well. I wish the metallic thread sparkled more. It does in certain lights, but mostly when you hold the piece at an angle. I’d love to find a way to display it with a light behind it, but the mechanics are beyond my ability and that would constrain where I could display it.

However, I think it’s time I stop fussing with this one and declare it born.

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Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

My Problem Project

A project I began at my Empty Spools workshop on translucent fabric is giving me fits. Once I finally settled on the arrangement of many circles of painted silk organza and got them all fused down, I decided it needed something more. What that something was was unclear. I just knew it needed more subtlety, a quality not often present in my work.

Bubbles fusedAs a temporizing measure I chose and cut out a backing fabric, cut out my batting, and decided to stiffen the piece with a crinoline layer. I machine quilted the edges of the organza pieces and added a few extra circle outlines. That done, I had to face the music. What now?

Maybe another organza layer? I painted a fat quarter of white silk organza with stripes of blue and green, which blended together nicely. I started draping the painted fabric over the piece. Maybe I could partially cover it with another organza layer, following the rays. Nothing too stripey, though. Here’s the pink and aqua layers pinned to the quilted top. It still needs some tweaking.

Overlayers pinnedI liked the uneven edge of paint and wanted that to show, but how to finish the edges? Maybe just fray the edges? A trial showed silk organza will fray nicely.

Painted edgeSo my plan right now is to to hand sew the top organza layer on with silk and metallic thread, following the rays. As for finishing the piece, I’m thinking I’ll do an envelope finish, the infamous “false back” that instantly disqualifies a quilt from many shows. But then I don’t see entering this piece in any show with such rules.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process