Friday, December 21, 2012

Self-Portrait Challenge - Who Am I?

The quilt guild I belong to, the Prickly Piecers, which is a chapter of the Arizona Quilter's Guild, had a challenge this fall to do a self-portrait quilt.

Make a self portrait? Scrutinize myself in the mirror? Face all my flaws and re-create them in fabric? This is nuts!! Although this quilt is to describe who I am, it does NOT have to be a face or a person. My self portrait can be whimsical or unrealistic.

As children, our first drawings are usually of ourselves. That young child flourishes within us still. This challenge is supposed to help me find it and bring it out for all to see. Can I portray my inner self? What makes me who I am? Am I emotional? - I could make an abstract quilt with various colors and images that describe my emotions (happiness, joy, outgoing, introverted, anger, uncertainty, confidence, etc.).  Animal lover? - I could have images of all the animals I love on my quilt. Grandparent? - I could have images of my grand kids and things I do with the. Hmmmm..... Lots of things to thing about. But I need to keep a sense of humor while making this quilt and have fun with it!!!

The rules say the quilt must be at least 6" x 6" and no larger than 36" x 36". The quilt must be about me - who I am. I must use at least one new technique in creating this quilt. My label needs to explain how this quilt describes me and what new technique I used. Lastly, the quilt must be quilted, bound, and labeled by our holiday part on Dec 20.

After much thought and searching through photographs, I found a group of glamour portraits I had taken for my husband for our 15th wedding anniversary when I was in my mid-30s. I decided to create in fabric one of these.

Glamour Portrait for our 15th wedding anniversary

I decided to paint my portrait, using watercolor paints and watercolor pencils, on white muslin fabric. I had decided to draw "tangles" in my hair. Tangles are the individual patterns used in Zentangles, which I love to do. If I painted my hair black, then I would need to use white paint for the tangles to show up. This would make me look like I had "salt and pepper" hair. I'm not gray, yet, although my kids have sure put a few gray hairs on my head!! I decided to have fun and use several bright colors for my hair. This would allow the "tangles" to show.

Painted portrait with wild, bright-colored hair.

I used a 0.1 Micron Sakura pen to draw in the "tangles" for my hair. After dividing the hair into flowing sections, I chose several tangles. I used Celtic, Chainging, Echoism,  Featherfall, Finery, Knightsbridge, Linq, Mooka, Mumsy, Onamato, Opus, Organza, and Purk to name just a few.

Beginnings of "tangling".

I continued to add "tangles". I added quilting feathers, Btl Joos, Fescu, Gust, Mehndi designs, Nebel, Pebbles, Rain, and Rick's Paradox, plus a variety of others.

Tangling is finished. 

I quilted the top, outlining the details of the face with 100 wt. Invisafil poly-thread that matched the color of the facial features. I used black Bottom Line thread, a 70 wt. poly-thread, to quilt between each different "tangle" in the hair. I added "wind" to the blue background. Lastly, I added a dragon in the upper-left corner, as I love dragons. I collect dragon statuettes, as well as, read most any fantasy novel that includes dragons. So my self-portrait had to include a dragon.

Quilting is complete. 

The quilt looks finished. I added black, glass beads and a silver dragon pendant for a necklace.  Something is not quite right. The dragon doesn't stand out and the bodice area is drawing in a bit. Therefore, I painted the dragon with Derwent watercolor pencils. I used a green, with a bit of blue and indigo for shading. That helped him stand out! I found some transparent, lacy, light turquoise ribbon to add to the bodice to make it look like I'm wearing a jacket. I quilted the ribbon on with matching thread. Then I added more strands of loose hair at the shoulders to finish the top of the ribbon. Now it looks finished. I bound the quilt using a facing technique and added a label that I printed on fabric. It includes a copy of the photo I used for the self-portrait quilt.

" Me, Myself, and I"
completed self-portrait quilt

My completed quilt is 12" x 16".  I still see myself as being in my mid-30's, even though my body is definitely telling my I must be about 100 years old! The Zentangles on fabric are my new technique and represent the artist in me. The dragon, of course, is about my love of dragons, reading, and fantasy novels.

This was a fun challenge and not as overwhelming as it seemed at first, once I got started. The other members of the guild created wonderful self-portraits, too. A couple put their portraits in Photoshop, using the posterize filter to create 4-5 values. They use 4-5 fabrics in the values shown in Photoshop to create their portraits. They came out great! A couple people made whimsical portraits - one was a funny witch, another showed her eyes, nose and mouth in a triangular shape with floral appliques. How creative and fun! A few people used events in their lives to describe themselves. We had 3 winners for the most whimsical, for the one that described the person the best, and for a judge's choice (the chapter chair chose this one).

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Fall Colors

Today, Mom, Dad, and I went to Grandpa's woods to check out the fall colors. Although, it's not Grandpa's woods anymore. It was sold after he died. All that's left in the family is the farmhouse and a few acres that belong to my nephew. Mom got permission from the owners for us to go walk in the woods. But I'll always think of it as Grandpa's woods. We (all of us grandchildren) grew up there.  
Grandpa's garage sits just east of the
barn behind the farmhouse. Grandpa
always sat there, no matter the weather.
He loved watching the corn or beans
grow during the summer and just
 be outdoors the rest the year.  You
can see a bit of the woods in the

In the spring, we'd wander through the woods searching for all the different kinds of wildflowers - white and red trilliums, Dutchman's britches, Jack-in-the-pulpits, and sweet peas to name a few. It was always an adventure. We never knew what we'd find. One year, Mom and I found a wildflower we couldn't name. We hunted for hours in the library trying to find what it was. It was a small, round ball that opened on one end showing a purple, velvet-like interior with stamens.  It was like a magical world unto itself.

In the summers, all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and  grandparents would have picnics almost every weekend at the pond. We ate blackberries, raspberries, and goose berries 'til we were sick. When it was warm enough we'd swim and play on the rumpus raft. We'd also fish. Grandpa had the pond stocked with bluegill, perch, and catfish. We'd have a fish fry over the camp fire!

The edge of the woods on the way
back to the pond. The giant oak
was always one of my favorite trees,
although it wasn't quite
that mighty when I was younger. 
In the fall, the colors were just brilliant - so many  maples, oaks, hickory, black walnuts, hedge apples, and buckeyes. Buckeyes were fun to collect, while Grandma would make cake out the of hickory nuts.  Grandma and Grandpa, their siblings and parents use to have a sugar camp, making fresh maple syrup. Yummy!!

In the winter, we'd get a treat with the maple syrup. Grandma would make a candy by pouring the syrup over fresh snow! Delicious!!  Back at the pond, when the ice was thick enough, we'd ice skate. We'd have a bonfire to keep warm. One year, my cousin got to close to the fire and actually caught the toe of her skates on fire! They became my skates the next year! Hand-me-downs!

I have so many fun memories of these woods. It was nice to walk through them today!

This is the view of the pond we'd see when first coming upon it.
It is so beautiful today! The water was so still
that the reflections are almost perfect. 

A view of the pond looking north.  To the left of the tree in the
foreground, was a small walkway where the rumpus raft
was tied.  After getting on, we'd pole out to the middle
to play and swim.

Fungus and moss on a fallen log. 
Fallen leaves.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Colors in Ohio

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Especially in Ohio or upstate New York. The beautiful fall colors of hills aflame with reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. The crisp, cool mornings. It is one thing I really miss living in Arizona.

Thankfully, I got an opportunity this year to see some of the fall colors while visiting family in Ohio in October. The leaves haven't fallen yet, so the trees are full of color. My first few days are like an Indian summer, with days in the 60's to low 70's, while night-time temps fall to the 50's and even to the 40's. I love sleeping with the window open, listening to the crickets, locusts, and a few bullfrogs.

Today after church, Mom and Dad went with me driving around the countryside and into the edges of town to check out the colors. I was not disappointed.
Some of the colorful trees -elms, oaks, and maples -
around on the west side of Lima, Ohio.  

Brilliant red leaves on tree outside building where my father
taught automotive mechanics at Northwestern University in Lima, Ohio.

The crabapple trees were just loaded with fruit!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Felting with Mom and my friends

I had only felted once before. I took a felting class with Rita Blocksom. What fun was that!! But such hard work - Phew!! We started with a base of thin wool batt and then added as many colors of roving as we wanted, along with strands of Angelina fibers and other fibers (non-wool). Then we rolled it between layers of tulle, along with hot, soapy water. We just beat it and rolled it one way and then another and beat it some more. Fantastic way to get your frustrations out!! Rita also gave us small pieces of wool batt that we rolled very tightly and beat the same way to make a narrow cylinder that was then cut in slices to make "buttons" for embellishments or, if added prior to felting, could actually become part of the felt piece.
Mom and I layering wool roving, Angelina fibers, etc onto our piece of felting.
 This is my finished piece after felting. I have also added stitching, beads, and more fibers to embellish my felting to create a 2" felted box. I found a bag of worry dolls from Guatemala that someone had given me and stitched a few worry dolls to the sides. My daughter loved to play with these when she was little. So they remind me of her whenever I see them.  I've added a running stitch in white pearl cotton thread to outline my box. The box looks like a "t" when cut out.

Felted piece with added embellishments of wool roving, fibers, beads, worry dolls,
and stitching.  Running stitch in white pearl cotton outlines the box.

Felt box is cut-out on running stitch of  white pearl cotton .
I stitched the sides of the box using a buttonhole stitch in purple pearl cotton.  Each side looks like it's own piece of art with a variety of colors, embroidery stitches, handmade beads, and store-bought beads, along with the worry dolls. 

Back-side of felt box.
Side of felt box
The box is closed with a small pony-tail holder stitched to the inside of the lid. It hooks around a handmade bead on the front of the box. The handmade bead is made of gold lame fabric wrapped around a pencil or chopstick. Various colors of pearl cotton are wrapped around the lame to add color. A bead is strung through pearl cotton before it's wrapped around the lame to add more dimension to the bead.
Inside of box holding more worry dolls.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Opportunity Quilt for Prickly Piecers

Prickly Piecer's Opportunity Quilt - 94" x 94"
Judy Niemeyer's Misty Mountain Pond pattern
Quilted by Nancy Walker
I helped coordinate my guild chapter's, Prickly Piecer's, opportunity quilt this year. We use the opportunity quilt to raise money for our charity efforts, which includes making quilts for the children at Cardon's Children's Hospital and tote bags for DPS and CPS to use for children's belongings when necessary.

We chose a Judy Niemeyer pattern,  Misty Mountain Pond quilt. Several members helped with all the paper piecing and putting together the blocks. I assembled the quilt and added piping between the center and spiky outer border and also in the binding. It was a difficult quilt to make, but everyone rose to the challenge and helped out!  Nancy Walker quilted it for us.

We used 32 colors of the rainbow for the flying geese circles and 20 colors of the rainbow for the center stars. We also used these 32 colors in the hand-appliqued cattails and leaves in the four corners.
Five different grays ranged from a dark gray at the center to the lightest gray in the spiked border. The quilt fits a queen-size bed at 94" x 94" in size or can be hung on the wall.

Tickets for this quilt are $1 each or 6 tickets for $5. We will be selling opportunities until our drawing after the AQG (Arizona Quilter's Guild) Spring Meeting, April 13, 2013. Our first showing of this quilt was at the AQG Fall Meeting, Oct 6, 2012. It was well received.

Detail of the needle-turned appliqued cattails and leaves
in the four corners of the quilt. Also details the piping
between the center design and the spiked border.

Detail of the piping and spiky border, as well as the piping binding.

Detail of the stars and flying geese center design. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Zentangles for my doctor

My doctor also requested a set of cards from my doodles. I found a set of 4 cards - Carol Doak`s Keepsake Frame Cards  - that have 3" x 3" openings ready to insert artwork, small quilts, photos, etc. The paper looks handmade. The cards have a tri-fold and double-stick tape, making them easy to use.   

Set of 4 Cards (Carol Doak's Keepsake Frame Cards) with Zentangle-Inspired Art

In this first card, I wanted to get away from the usual, squarish tile for my Zentangle design. I was making an abstract design, but it resembles a 2 or an R.

Tangles: Crescent Moon, Florz, Hollibaugh variation, Pebbles, and a quilting scallop design.

In the second card, I was practicing designs from Zentangle 4 by Suzanne McNeil. She has written several books on Zentangles that include many tangles with several ideas and inspiration. Several people said the  "plum leaf variation" tangle made them think of a guitar, hence the name.  

Tangles:  Deco Border, Pearlz, Peacock Tail, Plum Leaf variation. Pyramids, and Sugarcane

In this third card, I wanted to tangle a realistic critter. By the time I finished, a moth flittered on the page with large eyes, fat antennae, large front wings, delicate, lacy back wings, a squarish body, and a paisley tail.

Tangles: Betweed, Ennies, Fescu, Knightsbridge, Nzeppel, Paisley, Pearlz, Queen's Crown, Rain, and Shattuck

The fourth card is a more traditional Zentangle design. I made the string with a circle in the middle, and divided the sides into thirds. I had in mind from the beginning to put a flower in the center amidst various tangles. 

Tangles: Cadent, Flukes, Hollibaugh, Keeko, Onomato, Pebbles, Pokeroot, Shattuck, and a Sunflower

The doctor enjoyed the set of cards. She decided to frame them and hang them on her wall, along with the framed wall-hanging ZIA (Zentangle-inspired art) I had previously made for her. I enjoyed making the cards so much, that I made a second set to use as samples. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Zentangle-Inspired Art for my doctor

While sitting in the examining room waiting on my doctor, I was doodling in my tangle journal. When the doctor came in, she commented that my doodling was terrific and that I needed to sell it. She said she'd be my first customer!! So my "homework" was to make her a ZIA (Zentangle-inspired art) to hang on her wall.

Wow!! I hadn't really thought about selling my work. I draw because I enjoy the process, it relaxes me, and it's always exciting to see the final result. The result of doodling is really a surprise! Starting with a string and then just picking tangles at random, I rarely know what the end drawing will look like.
This is the ZIA I made for my doctor. It's 8"x10" on illustration board, using a 0.1 Sakura Micron pen. I did a string with my eyes closed. I enjoyed the result from using variations on Scallop tangles that blended into each other at the bottom. This is becoming one of my favorite doodles!

Abstract Butterfly
Tangles: Echoism, Ennies, Flora, Knightsbridge, Oshua, Pearlz, Pokeleaf, Printemps, Scallops, and Terratile

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Timeless Treasure and AQG Challenge

The Arizona Quilter's Guild (AQG) and Timeless Treasure Fabric Company issued a challenge to the AQG members. Timeless Treasure donated four batik fabrics to each participant to create a 24" x 24" quilt. Only these four batik fabrics could be used for the front and back of the quilt. Then the quilt was to be embellished as much as possible.  We were given 60 days to complete the quilt. 

The four batik fabrics were a yellow polka dots, a yellow with blue pumpkin seed design, a green vine print, and a blue floral print.  What in the world do I do with these? All four fabric were similar in value, so to me, they just seemed to have no life when put together. I searched and searched for inspiration. Finally, I found a peacock design in a copyright-free book by Dover Publications. 

I used raw-edge applique to create the peacock and fused the fabrics to a piece of white muslin. I painted some of the fabrics with Claudia Helmuth's textile paints to create a greater range of values in the fabrics. To add more depth and color, I added a polka-dotted tulle for embellishment to the tail feathers of the peacock. I then layered the quilt sandwich with Timtex for the batting, as I wanted to cut out the fabric around the legs. Therefore, I needed a very stiff batting to keep the quilt from collapsing when it was hung. After free-motion quilting the quilt,  I cut out the fabric around the legs. I finished the quilt with facing around the cut-out areas and decided to cut around the tail feathers to keep the design, rather than squaring up the quilt. It measures 24" at its maximum height and 24" at its maximum width. 

After finishing the quilting,  I further embellished the peacock with beads (from seed beads to cylinders to bi-cones to ovals to nuggets), hot-fix crystals, sequins, wirelace, and yarns. I wasn't sure I was going to finish everything in time. It was a fun quilt to make, pushing my creativity to the max!  I hand-delivered my quilt, "O' Peacock", to the AQG office the morning of the final day to enter a quilt. Whew! Just made it!

The winners were announced in Spring 2012. Quilts were displayed at AZ Quilters Guild Annual Spring Show in 2012. I was surprised to learn I was the Grand Prized Winner!!! What an honor!!! 

O'Peacock: 24" x 24" cotton, tulle, textile paints, beads,
crystals, sequins, wirelace and yarn.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Paint Chip Challenge

I am a member of the Prickly Piecers quilt guild, a chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild (AQG). Our program chair issued a paint chip challenge to the members of the Prickly Piecers. We were to find paint chips that started with our initials. For example, if your initials are ABC - then you needed to find paint colors that started with the letter A, the letter B, and the letter C (i.e. Asparagus, Blue, and Cream).  You could only use one color for each initial and add one other color, so four colors total for your quilt.

My initials are LKK. I found many colors for L. But K!!  I could only find 5 paint chips from all the brands of paint in 3 different stores that started with the letter K!! I have 2 K's!! What a dilemma! I finally settled on a sage (Khaki Sage), a purple (Kalamata Olive), and an pinkish shade (Lovelace).  I found a mottled sage fabric, a dark purple floral fabric, and a polka-dotted batik pinkish fabric that matched the colors of my paint chips well.  The polka-dotted batik was the only fabric that matched my "Lovelace" paint chip - after searching about half a dozen local quilt stores for something a "Lovelace" shade!! For my one other fabric that we could add, I found a beautiful stripe that included all three of these shades.

I found a portrait image from a copyright-free Art Nouveau book from Dover Publishers. I love Art Nouveau designs and I enjoy drawing and painting portraits, so I thought this image would make a beautiful quilt. Also, it was a circular design, which I thought would be unique. The sage color would work for the background pieces, the edges of the hair clips, and the whites of the eyes. The dark purple shade would make great tresses of the hair, the eye brows, and the pupils of the eyes. That left the polka-dotted pinkish shade for the flesh of the neck and face. Did she have measles or chickenpox? How was I going to make this fabric work. I ended up cutting around the polka-dots (to avoid measles or chickenpox) and created a mod-podge of the "Lovelace" fabric to create the face and neck.
The striped fabric with all the colors was used to delineate the hair tresses, and for the binding. The quilt is raw-edge appliqued and I free-motion quilted it. I embellished the hair clips with beads, spangles, and feathers from my pet chicken.

I won first place for our guild's paint chip challenge! I entered this quilt "Mystic Woman" in the Annual AQG Spring Quilt Show of 2012, where I won first place in the Small Quilt, Applique Category. I was delighted when I found out.