Friday, August 28, 2015

Seasonal Shift

Seasonal Shift

21 ¾” w x 40”L [55.5cm x 101.5cm]

I have been observing the seasonal colours in my neighbourhood and am amazed by the variety and number of flowering trees and shrubs even during a Queensland winter. Pale to rosy pink, bright and bold yellow, soft orange and many shades of green abound.

For Betty’s challenge I decided to work with a dyed merino wool pre-felt and black felt of unknown composition, as I hadn’t used these materials before in a quilt. It was interesting to note how the dense, soft wool fibres seemed to absorb light.

The felted piece was applied to the background with the corners and some of the other edges curling a little to mimic the exfoliating dead bark of the huge eucalypt near the local junior school.

Materials; cotton, batting, thread, wool, felt

Techniques; embellisher machine used for the felting, machine applique, machine quilted

Thursday, August 27, 2015


by Lin Hsin-Chen
My imagination goes wild. I draw the flowers freely to depict the impressive natural movement and texture. I challenge myself to create a contagious piece of work with simple color blocks.

Making this quilt is like sketching. I use fabrics dyed with acrylic paints to piece the color blocks, making it looks like a piece of drawing. With a sense of retro, I use needle and thread as painting brushes to test the energy of hand drawing and explore the joy of spontaneous creativity.

I love handwriting. I think handwriting is an emotion, an image and a sense of healing. Therefore, I do handwriting and sketching everyday, it’s just like the habit of having a cup of coffee every morning. The stories written in the notebooks are very important. To me, the texture transformed by the strokes and lines of words are truly valuable. Different strokes have diverse feelings. Naturally they become beautiful rhythm and cadence, and dance lively on the paper to evoke creative inspiration.

In this challenge, we are asked to use unconventional materials. To me, commercial cotton is indispensable for creating. I rarely use dyed fabrics in my previous works. This is my first time using dyed fabric exclusively in a quilt. It is a pleasure sewing the flower. Just like sketching happily on the paper, it gives me a non-stop contagious power. For a moment I thought I was a painter. Thank you, Betty, for the challenge!

Materials: fabric dyed with acrylic paints, woolen yarn
Techniques: hand pieced, hand appliqué, hand embroidered, three-layered hand quilted
Size: 24” W x 40” H

Just what's so unusual?

I know that what is unconventional or unusual materials  for me is certainly not that unusual to several of my colleagues.

Oil pastel is very unusual for my work as I am unsure of its control and I am also wary of it's permanence.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I combined it with some other uncommon bits:  discharged images and textiles from far-away places.  The piece is densely quilted with added hand stitching.

Home of the Exotic Blue Crow
Now I have a test subject for permanence of oil pastel in my work.  Fingers crossed.

Blue Crow detail


I was contemplating this challenge (unusual materials) and searching for inspiration when it showed up in my mailbox.  My friend and creative collaborator Carol Eaton had sent me a surprise gift – a piece of hand dyed fabric.  Carol had made it as an experiment and thought I would like the results (I do!)
That began a vague idea about found objects: buttons, a zipper, safety pins – things found around the studio. I took the piece on vacation with me and added to it as I found the time. At first I chose the safety pins as a way to incorporate “reflection” into the piece. But I found that I really enjoyed the repetitive action of pinning them.
A picture began to emerge in my mind – a gentle rain falling on some kind of plant or flower.  That led me to think about the way plants grow. As long as they have a few key conditions (water, sunlight, air) they grow wherever they find the space. The buttons toward the bottom are bunched together, in layers and clumps, as if they are competing for space.
Technical details: Finished size 18x40
Materials: hand-dyed fabric, various buttons, cotton and metallic thread, safety pins, zipper


An epiphany is a sudden and striking realization, an AHA moment, as it were.
Mine came almost ten years ago when I realized that I'm making art, not bed quilts, and that a world of materials is out there to explore.
This piece is a digitally printed piece of fabric that I hand colored, then machine stitched.
I then layered on top a piece of non woven material that's cut, burned and painted to form the image I wanted.  It's appliquéd over the base, there is no stitching on it to contrast to the busy surface underneath.
For me, it's essential to keep an open mind and explore constantly, I feel that's the essence of creativity.

Epiphany, 40x34"

Everglades Ghosts

I have been traveling extensively for work and my last three trips took me over south Florida. On each flight I’d lean my head against the window and beg for inspiration for Betty’s challenge. Certainly there was abundant fodder for the water element of my quilt, but how could I represent it with unconventional fabric?

With each trip I grew increasingly anxious. Such beautiful Atlantic and Caribbean views and still no viable ideas. On my last trip home – literally a week ago – I was panicked. Still no ideas and even less time.

As I gazed out the window on that occasion, I saw the Everglades, a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of Florida. For those who aren’t familiar with the Everglades, it’s a national park made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species and over a 1000 species of plants. Many of the animals that live there are endangered.

From high in the air it looks marshy and barren. That is, until you fly over and the sun is just right and the muddy water shimmers blue and silver. Now, that’s the stuff inspiration is made of!

Once home I gathered leather and upholstery fabrics from a discarded sample book a friend had given me years ago. I vowed not to use any cotton – why make it easy on myself? Betty did say she rubbed her hands together evilly :)

I cut organic shapes in the leather and let the shape of the hide guide me for the edges. For the “water” I hand cut snippets of the upholstery fabric, loosely arranged them and reverse appliqued them to the leather using a polyester fabric and felt as stabilizer. I then wrinkled other fabrics and stitched them down as I quilted. At the end, I glued turquoise sequins in a few places to represent the shimmer of the sun on the water.

Not fully satisfied, I cut more shapes out of the finished quilt. Whatever is behind the piece will now show through. It was my husband’s idea to add the bamboo (salvaged from prior weeks’ yard work). Originally I intended to use it to hang the piece but ultimately preferred its addition to the front.

When I hung the piece to photograph it, I was struck by how much it resembled an animal head or perhaps something tribal. Any symmetry between the shapes was purely accidental but it gave me the name for the piece: “Everglades Ghosts”.

I made a few other ghosts in the process: some sewing machines! AUGH! I never knew leather could be so slippery and so stretchy and so finicky about which thread could hold it to another fabric. And don’t even think about fabric glue; I tried that and it doesn’t work. 

Given more time, I might make a few adjustments to the quilt but overall I am pleased. I learned a TON albeit it through gritted teeth. Thank you Betty and all the Viewpoints 9 members, it is such a wonderful experience to be challenged and grow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Unconventional Materials

*cackles and rubs hands together evilly*

stuck in a fabric rut?
I challenge you to use something else- go beyond embellishments, and use something you've never used before as a substantial part of your work.

maybe the following will give you some ideas-

Crabitat- dryer sheets, Reemay, felt

Face Off- Evolon

Eventide- dryer sheets

Fourteen Poppies- paper

Anemone- dryer sheets and face cleaner pads with rubber

Please make your work 40" - 100 cm- tall.
have fun!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Carrefour European Patchwork Meeting, September 16-19, 2015

Challenges of 9: 9 Minutes
It's roughly 3 weeks until Viewpoints 9: Challenges of 9 will have their European premiere at the Carrefour European Patchwork Meeting (EPM)!  From the EPM website: "For 21 years, EPM has had the pleasure to welcome visitors from all over the world. Since its very first year it has become, the not-to-be-missed quilting show for all patchwork and quilting enthusiasts over the world. The 4 villages of the Val d'Argent open their most beautiful sites which become during 4 days, real art galleries. 22 000 visitors from France and around the world are happy to discover 1200 to 1500 textile artworks, giving thus a very good feeling about today's and yesterday's patchwork and quilting.  For more information, visit the EPM website here.

Challenges of 9 consists of 6 of our challenges from our second cycle of work where "Each member interpreted 9 in any way they chose; September is the 9th month, 9 ladies dancing, a sudoku grid, cloud 9, Beethoven 9th Symphony, and so on; wherever their imagination took them.  Also, each artist picked the size and orientation of their piece, with the only restriction that it is made of 9"x 9" units up to 27"x 27"".

The exhibit will include the 9 Minute Challenge (above) ask artists to "Create a piece of art depicting your commentary, opinion, wonder, or, simply, thought relating to “where the time goes”.  Also, the 9 Planets Challenge (below) that shared the quote: "One universe, Nine planets, Two hundred and four countries, Eight hundred and nine islands, Seven seas, And I had the privilege to meet you." 
Artists were asked "What do these words mean to you? The universe? The world around us? A meeting with somebody important to you? And how does the number nine fits in it? 
Challenges of 9: 9 Planets
We're very excited about the opportunity and look forward to participating in this exciting exhibition!
Viewpoints 9 members, Alicia Merrett, Betty Busby, Martha Wolfe and Misik Kim, will be there to greet visitors.  We look forward to seeing you in France! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Socializing. A Good Thing.

One doesn't immediately think of socializing when one thinks of participating in 'art'.  Most of the time we long to be alone in our studios.  However, there is that component that occasionally becomes quite important...for exposure, for inspiration, for affirmation.

In our little shoreline town here in Connecticut, a local gallery promotes local artists by calling for their participation in a pop-up installation that encourages interaction with the public.  Greene Art Gallery hosts these events in their sculpture garden where a wonderful little 'Habitat for Artists' acts as focus.

For the second time proprietor Kathryn Greene invited our art quilt group Sisters in Cloth to host an event, one of her summer series aptly titled "Nurturing Joy".  We brought small finished work and displayed it on lines that we strung between trees.  We brought works in progress to share.  We spend two hours chatting and sharing with the public, encouraging them to show the art work that many brought and ask questions about ours.

It was a huge success.  So much so that Kathryn asked that we establish it as an annual event.

From my personal point of view, these events are energizing and provide an opportunity to promote our medium, however, there is nothing more satisfying than productive time in my studio.  It's not an either or situation.  It is an AND situation....with studio time greatly out weighing socializing.

Habitat for Artists

Work in progress

Original needlepoint by visitor

A more traditional work

Carol Ludington's floral

Hosting art quilters,  needlepoint and mixed media artists

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Over the years I have incorporated some unusual materials into my quilts- plastics and plastic fishing lures and before it became more main stream used the wadding as a surface. But Betty is a hard act to follow with her wonderful incorporation of the unusual so I am rethinking my approach.
My theme is Around my Neighbourhood so I went back to this set of benches covered in the most fantastic ceramic pieces- a quilt in the making, but it would be heavy! The pieces have been impressed with native flowers and many of these trees grow near the bench seats.
A side view. Each side is covered and the colours are brighter as they are not so sun bleached.
I have taken an imprint on silk to use in my quilt with a few other "new" for me things to be used yet!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Finding New Purpose

My compositions don’t usually stick to traditional quilt conventions, but my materials do.  Typically I use just three main ingredients: cotton fabrics, batting and thread.  So I guess anything outside that short list would be unconventional for me.
At the moment I’m experimenting with ways to incorporate my overall theme “Reflection” into this challenge. Reflective objects and materials might satisfy both requirements.  Hmmm…  I’ve been gathering a lot of random objects that I find interesting and/or have the potential to work somehow with fabric and thread.  So far there’s a lot of stuff on my floor and not much on the design board!
Coincidentally, my son Luka is attending “Camp Invention” this week. Grade school kids spend their days learning about science, engineering and critical thinking. They play games and work on design challenges using found objects, recycled items and various household appliances that they’ve taken apart to repurpose. (Here’s a photo of the computer tower and exercise bike Luka & Tom disassembled… in my living room). So yeah, I am anxiously awaiting the whole Putting-Things-Back-Together phase of this creative journey.
          Photo Aug 04, 9 21 41 AM      Photo Aug 04, 9 24 01 AM