Monday, December 8, 2014

World Travelers: Revisiting My First On-line Custom Order

"World Travelers," 50" x 30", Made by Pam Geisel, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to revisit a quilt that I made back in 2007, before I started blogging. I was contacted by a man who wanted me to make a quilt of the world for his parents with the countries they visited in red and also include the flags of those countries.

This quilt is special to me because it was the first custom quilt that I made for a stranger (although I don't think they knew this until now).

The background is made up of eight 10" light blue squares (of three different fabrics) that are pieced with the land masses and countries in red were appliqued raw edge with a satin stitch (a tight zigzag).

The flags are mostly pieced and the intricate parts were drawn with Sharpie markers. The flags were hand appliqued to the navy blue border.
The original quilt had the countries of Mexico, France, Morocco, Greece, and three Caribbean Islands and I heard that the quilt was a big hit with my customer's parents. At that time he asked if countries and flags could be added in the future, after his parents visited more places. Of course I said yes.

Flash forward seven years. The owner contacted me and wanted me to add Egypt, Italy, the Netherlands, and the state of Alaska. She shipped the quilt to me and I realized I had a small dilemma. Adding the flags wouldn't be a problem because they were hand appliqued to the quilt after it was quilted. But the countries were originally attached with a zigzag stitch BEFORE the quilt was sandwiched and quilted. When I added the countries, the sewing lines would be visible on the back side.

Plan A was to fuse two layers of fabric together so it would be thicker, zigzag the satin stitch around the edges and then attach it to the quilt with a straight stitch, kind of like sewing on a patch. The sewing lines would show on the back but wouldn't be very obvious. This worked great for Egypt and pretty well for Alaska although the two peninsulas gave me a little trouble. But the other countries were too small for the feed dogs to grab. Italy, which is only 1/2" wide and 1-1/4" long, disappeared down the hole where the needle goes.

So Plan B was used for Italy, the Italian islands, and the Netherlands. For those I fused the fabric to the quilt and zigzagged all the way through the quilt. I've tried doing zigzag quilting on finished quilts and have often run into thread breakage and tension issues, which is another reason why this wasn't my first choice, but this time the sewing machine cooperated.

Plan C would have been to do raw edge applique and a straight stitch, more like the art quilts I've been doing lately, like the Yellow Springs American series, but I wanted the new countries to match the old ones.

It was fun to revisit a quilt from my past and to travel vicariously with it's owners.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates: A Sampler Quilt

"Life is Like a Box of Chocolates," 53" x 53", Made by Pam Geisel, 2014

A modern interpretation of a sampler quilt, this art quilt, "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates," began life as a sampler quilt. It was quilted with a tight, angular free-motion quilting and then it was cut apart into 81 5”x5” squares.

I then pieced the large Nine-Patch background using two alternating navy blue pieces of fabric that I over-dyed to make them even darker. The strips that make the # shape used to be the original pieced border that I cut in half length-wise. I basted and quilted this part.

Next I arranged the 81 squares into nine Nine-Patch blocks forming a Nine-Patch made up of nine Nine-Patch blocks (kind of like a Suduko puzzle). The edges were left raw with some of the batting exposed and they were machine applique/quilted to the background.

I find the more I look at this quilt, the more my brain tries to reassemble the sampler blocks. Some of the original quilt blocks were Bear’s Paw, Jacob’s Ladder, Log Cabin, and Path Through the Woods. Can you see them?

I named this quilt because it's a play on a chocolate "Sampler" box and it kind of looks like little quilted candies arranged inside a box.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Two pastel batik quilts: Pinwheel Elephants and Pastel Pinwheels

"Pinwheel Elephants," 20" x 20", made by Pam Geisel, Oct. 2014

I'm not really a big fan of pastel fabric, but when I found this lovely pastel batiks, I fell in love, especially with the batik elephants and giraffes.

"Pinwheel Elephants" detail

It's quilted stitch-in-the-ditch and also has some curved quilting on the pinwheels, with warm-colored buttons on the pink and orange pinwheels and cool-colored buttons on the green and blue colored pinwheels. Yes, I really like pinwheel blocks.

- - -

I actually made two wall hangings using this fabric, although the second quilt doesn't have the elephant and giraffe fabric in it.

"Pastel Pinwheels," 22" x 29", made by Pam Geisel, Oct. 2014

"Pastel Pinwheels" is also quilted stitch-in-the-ditch and has very small blue buttons at the center of the pinwheels.

"Pastel Pinwheels" detail

I believe a Pinwheel block turned on point is technically called "Windmill" block but it just doesn't have the alliteration with the word "Pastel" that I wanted for the title.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Art & Soul art show this Sat, Nov. 15 in Yellow Springs

Art & Soul, features 30 exceptional artists who “put their souls into making art.” The show is this Sat., Nov. 15 from 10 am-5 pm. It will be in the Mills Lawn School Gym, 200 S. Walnut St. in Yellow Springs, just one block from the Xenia Ave. There's plenty of free parking in town and also in the lot behind the school.

There is a $3 admission fee, a portion of which will go to the Yellow Springs Schools and the Yellow Springs Police Coat Fund.

You can find photos and bios of all the artists participating on the Art & Soul Facebook page (and you don't have to have a Facebook account to view the page).

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Daybreak is Your Midnight

"Daybreak is Your Midnight," 35.5" x 36", made by Pam Geisel, 2014

This art quilt began it's life as a completely different idea that I'd already purchased the hand-dyed fabric for. My test samples for the original idea just weren't working so I decided to create something using the 8-steps of gray and 6-steps of brown fabric that were purchased as fat eighths (9" x 22").

I decided to do something similar to my "Early Morning Nine Patch" and "Four Patch Bridge at Sunset" but without a representational object. I like the five-column format on these two art quilts, so I started by calculating how many 1" (finished size) strips of each fabric I would have to figure out how high the quilt would be.

Since I would be able to cut more than 5 strips from each fabric (to have 1 per column), I decided to change the pattern to this:

1 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 5 - 6

By doing this it would also make the quilt 2.5 times taller than if I just went 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6. I did have to print out a sheet with the steps on it to reference while I was pieceing, so I would get the right strip in the right place.

Next I did some sample layouts on the computer:

 With the darker strips at the top and the bottom.

With the darker strips at the bottom. 

With the 2nd and 4th columns inverted. 

With the middle column inverted and the meeting points staggered.

Now it was time to piece!

I added two inset pieces to each of the 180 horizontal strips, with one of insets being one step darker and one being one step lighter. I did this to add visual texture.

To add just a pop of color, I added a thin strip of maroon fabric with a small inset piece of turquoise fabric where the brown and gray fabrics met. To keep everything lined up, the darker piece next to the maroon pieces is thinner than the other horizontal pieces. I also added a variegated yarn couched between the five columns.

I machine quilted sticth-in-the-ditch to hold it all together and used a knife-edge binding. The final step was to add the three large hand-quilted circles comprised of five ripples each. I really wanted this to stand out so I used a thick embroidery thread. There were some places where I was sewing through as many as six layers of fabric, so I kept my needlenose pliers nearby to help pull the needle through.

In order to keep the shape of the circle, I created circles made of dotted lines on my computer at the sizes I wanted them. I tile printed them onto letter-size card stock then taped the card stock together. I hand quilted the largest circles first, cut away the template to the next sized circle then quilted it. I tried to keep the stitches the same width as the dotted lines to keep everything consistent.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lavender Diamonds

"Lavender Diamonds," 68" x 68", made by Pam Geisel in 2014

“Lavender Diamonds” is a traditional “Broken Star” (a version of a “Lone Star”) but created in a non-traditional way, and cropped differently.

Instead of being pieced, it is fused with hand-dyed fabric. Each of the 560 diamonds is made up of 6 to 8 pieces of similarly colored fabric. By the end, every time I closed my eyes I saw diamond shapes.

There’s a “swoosh” that goes across the middle where the same color family is used but the pieces are darker and is outlined by couched black thread. Where the swoosh goes through the negative space there are fused pieces of gray, black, dark green, and dark blue fabrics.

The black negative spaces have thin strips of black fabric fused in them and they are framed by the same maroon fabric that I used as the inner border.

My original idea for the quilting was to quilt in a spiral, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sew down enough of the pieces, since even though they were fused, they weren’t very good about staying put, especially when I had to fold and roll the quilt in order to quilt it. My second idea was some sort of fractured pattern, but I had the same concern. The night before I was going to start, just as I was falling asleep, I thought I could do quilting lines that were 1/4" apart and echo the design element in the center of the quilt (where the colors are darker). By the end of this time, every time I closed my eyes I saw quilting lines 1/4" apart.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Yellow Springs Artist Studio Tour: meet my guest artists

That's me in the center when the video crew stopped by during last year's event.

The Yellow Springs Artist Studio Tour is this coming weekend, Sat., Oct. 18 and Sun. Oct. 19, from 10 am-6 pm both days. This is my seventh year participating as a host, and this year I have three guest artists. We have 25 artists at seven locations with one new host artists and 11 new guest artists.

Courtney DeYoung incorporates drawing, painting and sculpture in her jewelry design. She enjoys using clay to create a surface and design that works well for delicate detail. The images are often inspired by flowers and creatures. After firing, a color pallet is selected and she paints a design using a a thin layering technique to create a vibrant finish. Courtney lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. 
Kimberly Rorick creates figurative sculptural art depicting stylized features and expression of the human form, predominately female. She works in porcelain clay, underglaze, and glazes. Each piece is fired multiple times in an electric kiln. Her figures are likely to be adorned with fish, birds, cats, head-
dresses, hats or ‘hair’ made in either a stylized or a realistic manner. Kimberly lives and works in Ossian, Indiana.

Deborah Dixon uses stenciled shapes, printing inks, drawing techniques, and silk screens to create her textured and layered abstract prints. Deborah was on the tour many years ago and has recently moved back to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she lives and creates. 

The tour is a driving tour. Visit the Yellow Springs Artist Studio Tour website for more information about the other hosts and guest artists and to download a tour map. Maps can also be picked up at the Winds Cafe, Young's Dairy, the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, and at the artists studios the days of the tour. All studios will have red balloons and signs.