When I was in elementary school, my favorite color was orange. That changed, especially during the harvest gold-avocado green-pumpkin orange color scheme years. However – at least with quilting fabrics – orange is creeping back into my life. I’m not sure I understand orange, because I am still using it with caution. I doubt that I will ever be so exuberant with orange as to carry an orange plastic purse (as I did when I was ten), but just this week I found myself working on two predominantly orange quilts. Who knows, I may even revisit the gold-green-orange scheme.
My two art quilt groups are working on themes that I can address with one project, and I got to use fabric I bought just because it was pretty. If I didn’t have to go in for my annual check-up and blood tests I would celebrate with the most decadent ice cream cake available. The top pictured above began with the orange ombre and starburst print. I stacked two rectangles, cut a gentle curve, swapped out one piece and sewed. I repeated the process so the resulting rectangles had two gentle curves. Then I added two dark brown rectangles and cut gentle curves, resulting in four rectangles. I expected to add borders, but when I put the pale green sashing between the blocks the piece suggested I stop sewing. I may let it have its way. If it’s happy, I’m happy.
Although the plants may shiver in fear when I approach, they are reminding me of my old color theory lessons. Today, I am reminded that green is indeed a neutral. To be honest, any color can be a neutral if it is greyed enough, but that’s a topic for another blog. Green, however, is special. Think of all the plants you have in your garden, all the different colors of flowers, stems, and trunks. They’re all sitting on top of the various greens of leaves and grasses. When was the last time you examined the different greens? The greens above are on the cool side. The succulent below almost registers as a yellow with tints of green. Although there are no flowers in the photos, I can envision slashes of pinks, or oranges and reds, or purples and blues. I use the word “slashes” deliberately – using green as a background doesn’t demand that I make a landscape quilt. I made a dozen green backgrounds for applique and/or beading and not a single one is designed to be a landscape quilt. So, the next time you are thinking about doing something a little different, consider using green as your neutral. You might be surprised at how much you like the results.
My quilting time will be constrained for the next few weeks. The good news is that my projects will be waiting for me in the same condition as when I left them. This is why I love quilting. I took up the art at a time when I had maybe fifteen minutes a day to myself. I couldn’t write in fifteen minute increments. Paint and light change if you leave the work. Don’t even get me started on trying to crochet when at the best of times I have issues with counting. Quilting is stable and patient. The fabric will be delighted to see me when my husband’s shoulder is healed.
Several years ago, I made some contact prints in a workshop with Betty Busby at Art Quilt Santa Fe. I used colors that had less contrast than I thought, so the prints have been moved from one pile to another in my studio for a long time. I considered getting rid of them, but thought, “Self, there will come a time when you need this.” The time is now. I absolutely needed a medium tone for my palm tree, and using the print I made with a non-woven sew-in interfacing meant I could leave the edges fluttering like real palm fronds.
I also saved this little pistol button. I have no idea where I got it or when. Don’t even ask if I know why. The point is I have it, and I’m making a crazy quilt for Ann Parker, who writes mysteries set in the late 1800s American West. It is the perfect embellishment.
So, yeah, I’m giving you permission to hoard even more bits and bobs than you already do. You’re welcome.
After weeks of thinking of beads, looking at beads, and sewing on beads, I’ve finished Rhapsody In Blue. I made it to experiment with a forest of blue-trunked trees. I finished it to submit to a Studio Arts Quilt Associates show called “Haven.” This is all commercial fabric and beads. I made the side edges wavy on purpose to seem more organic, and the fringes at the bottom represent tree roots. While I recognize the value of imagination in getting projects started, there’s nothing like a deadline to get them finished. Here’s hoping we all meet our deadlines this year!
The latest Challenge Group project is about snow. As it happens, I intended to put a dusting of snow on one of my little landscapes. Yes, there is a field of green underneath the hill, but let me tell you about the hills around here. They’re small and gentle, but they do go up to 1000 feet. Some years back there was cold and moisture in the winter, and we got at least six inches of snow on the hills. Nothing at street-level, mind you, so I got in my car and drove around to look. As I rounded a corner, I could see a lovely vineyard, with roses at the ends of the rows and a palm tree near the winery. Above the vineyard was a green hill with cows munching the grass that sprouts up after any kind of precipitation. On top of the hill was a snowcap. It was enchanting and hilarious at the same time. I’ve been waiting for a long time to make an art quilt out of that scene, and this may be it.
For once, I tidied up the cutting table after my last project. As I sorted the scraps, it occurred to me that some of those blue and green strips would make interesting landscapes. I decided to pull out some other strips, just to see what would happen. The first thing I discovered was that one bin I thought was packed with strips was nearly empty – whoo hoo! I pulled out the strips I wanted, then reorganized my scrap collection to take advantage of my new-found space. When I was finished, I had a boatload of small art pieces.
Some of these might be made into notecards or fabric postcards. The wintery ones are right for the season.
These summery pieces might also be made into notecards and sent to friends in more northerly regions who might need a bit of relief from dreary skies.
I could also bead a few of these into something entirely different, not a landscape at all. Regardless of where they end up, they’ve given me great joy in making them, using up scraps, and finding new space.
I read about a contest and actually had an idea for a submission. I don’t remember anything more about the contest. I think the deadline is in January so I have plenty of time to find the piece of paper with the information on it. This blog is about the quilt, however, and how I am turning a quilting bug into a feature. I want to include some hanging beaded strings to represent roots, but that tends to weigh the quilt down. With a piece this small, that could cause quite a bit of distortion. “Self,” I said, “why don’t you put a wire in the bottom and attach the beaded strings to that?” So I did.
The backing and batting for the roots are wired. I left the top free so I can twist it around and still have a flat surface on the front. That’s the solution I came up with for cutting the top root fabric so narrow that I couldn’t turn any of it under to make the facing. Yes, I turned that bug into a feature.
Beading to the point of encrusting will distort a quilt in odd ways. That’s the second bug I turned into a feature. Since this quilt is supposed to be about nature and organic things, I cut a gentle curve into the sides. Now I won’t have to worry about odd pulls, because I meant the edge to be wavy. At least that’s the story I’m going to tell.
I am familiar with writing prompts. I use them, give them, and collect them. I thought they were useful tools. I didn’t understand how insidious they are until I realized I am now collecting quilting prompts. These are the little scraps and doodles I’ve put on the design wall for that perfect project that will someday reveal itself. The space-themed pieces above have been waiting for years. They are quite certain they all deserve a separate project, so they may have many more years of waiting ahead of them.
Sometimes the prompts are leftovers from other projects that play well together, like the background pieces for the flamingo appliques. The appliques are a recent purchase – don’t ask why, I thought I was done with flamingos years ago – and they suggested I let them nest on the yellow scraps. I have no idea what else they want to do. For the moment, they are part of the collection of prompts that have gone silent.