Saturday, February 20, 2016

Junk drawer challenge: Results

[ETA: This was #1 on my list of Q1 finish-along goals.]

My journal group has recently adjusted the schedule so that we make a group challenge every other month with general show-and-tell/technique-oriented meetings in between. Unfortunately, winter got the best of us this month so we cancelled our February gathering. I had been hoping to get photos of the remaining one or two projects that were not shown in January, but I will just edit this post later to add them.

Our project for January was to use a collection of junk drawer items; each of us brought in fifteen identical (or mostly so) items, which we then exchanged so everyone would have the same collection of random items to incorporate into a piece no larger than 18" on any side. The items were varied:
Ribbons, beads, bells, doodads...
Mostly because of the purple tassels and all the spangly bits, my initial thoughts were of desert horses in costumed riders...then carousels...but I ended up taking the equine shape in a more watery direction. I don't have a lot of process photos, although I did post a few onto Facebook ( and Instagram (@quiltingafterdark). I started with some lightly textured mostly-solids (something like Moda Grunge for the sky and a darker more washed green-blue for the water), added just a little pearly paint for some foamy texture in the water, then stitched the two pieces together with the wiggly white ribbon sandwiched between for a whitecap effect. The rest was an exercise in fabric collage and heavy embellishment. I'll let the photos and descriptive captions do the rest of the talking.
Poseidon's Chariot (2016, 18 x 18") -- see the original inspiration image
Poseidon's Chariot, detail -- extra beads (not in challenge packet) used for hair and beard; seashell as codpiece (get it? cod? It's funny because it's Poseidon!)
Poseidon's Chariot, lower left detail -- chariot is fussy-cut from a commercial nautilus print; heart clips attached as tail fin; folded hexagon cut into scallop shape with pearl embellishment; painted ribbons and yarns used as kelp and sea ferns
Poseidon's Chariot, jellyfish detail -- made by quartering a felt sphere, hand-sewing beads along edge, securing decorative ribbons to bottom, attaching in front of transparent "bubble" sequins.
Poseidon's Chariot, hippocampus detail -- made by folding tassel trim in half, hand stitching along applique as "mane" with tiny decorative bells interspersed; heart clips attached as "fins"; additional charm (not in the challenge packet) added as headdress.
I took photos of the other group members' "solutions" as well. These are identified only by name below.
Paula Fullar
Mary MacIlvain
Marlene Shea 
Susan Kozikowski
Gerry Terninko
Patti Slason
Rosemary Dziubinski
Anna Tufankjian

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Minimalism: v1

The February challenge for the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club involves making a minimalist composition. I dug up some mostly-solids (not buying anything for these challenges is a second-level challenge) and slapped them onto the wall to audition a few ideas and colors. I pulled down the box of upholstery samples that my friend Hope gave me a few years back, lots of gorgeous linens and sateens in natural shades. The bits of satin-stitched sheeting were perfect linear elements, and I am pleased to say that I made this entire piece without any rulers or rotary cutting. Hand-driven scissorwork all the way.

Minimalism, improvised (Trial #1)
I'm going to put some simple quilting on this, then stretch it onto a frame. I have three or four frames the same size, so my hope is to do a few more pieces in a minimalist series. I'm already thinking about which fabrics I want to use for the next one...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Particle Decay (in bias)

I am incredibly grateful to Krista Fleckenstein for her bias-strip tutorial, and to the folks who put together the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club -- I bought the full-year subscription as a Yule gift to myself, and in my opinion it has already had a great ROI! I am very pleased with my finished project from January's challenge:
"Decay" (26.5 x 32.5")
Working with the bias strips as an interesting experiment. The thicker strips, more than a half-inch wide, were trickier to curve but easier to turn sharp points. I made Decay using 1/4" strips, the same width as the Wonder tape that holds them in place. I'm taking a class with Timna Tarr later this month that uses very thin bias strips like these, so I'm eager to find out if she has any other suggestions and tips for their use.

The original photo from CERN that I used as my inspiration is here; it shows the results of smashing a neutrino into a neon nucleus. I chose this beautiful fuschia Stonehenge fabric as my background because I loved the cosmic look created by the shading variation. The strips are vibrant lime with a very faint stripe in metallic gold. The line ends represent particle annihilation, where matter becomes energy; I attached tiny sunburst charms backed by lime sequins to catch the sunlight -- this is difficult to photograph, but very eye-dazzling in person.

"Decay" (detail of annihilation)
Even the back of this quilt looked spectacular, because I quilted through all three layers to stitch the bias strips down first, then filled the spaces between with tight meandering. The variegated thread blends beautifully into the cosmic background on the front, and the design really pops on the coordinating batik on back of the quilt:
"Decay" (reverse view)
Even the practice piece that I made to try out the technique turned out to be a Lovely Thing:
Bias strip sampler
And just like that, another 2016-Q1 finish! I'm eagerly anticipating the February challenge later today...although today is my baby's 12th birthday so some fun family time is in order after my classes are over this afternoon. Life is good, my friends.