Impact is one of the most important parts of getting the attention of a judge. When they are looking at miniatures, they are expecting to see small, and miniatures are frequently impressive for how intricate they are in such a small space.
I was hoping to complete my most recent quilt Canterbury Knight by the entry deadline for American Quilter’s Society Grand Rapids, and then subsequently to enter it into the other AQS shows. I almost made the deadline. I probably would have if I had not discovered that it would not qualify for the show. There is a gap of six inches between the smallest of their small wall quilt size and the miniature, and my quilt was only 27 inches wide, right in that gap.
So yesterday I said something about it on my Facebook, and got a response from AQS that lead to an email exchange with AQS’s quilt show coordinator Andrea Ray. She contacted me and asked what my question was. Here is the exchange:
From me to Andrea:
Actually, I first asked through the website contact page, because I am wondering why there is a gap on sizing between your small wall quilt and your miniature quilt, so that anything between 30 and 24 inches wide or long is not enterable in an AQS show. I just completed a 27 x37 inch quilt that took me about six months to make, and I must say was probably my biggest challenge yet in quilt making…but it is not enterable.
I have two points on this. The first is that my 27 x 37 inch quilt is 999 square inches and a 30 x 30 inch quilt is 900 square inches. The second is that this is not a miniature quilt in the usual thoughts about miniatures, and such a size is wonderful for a small home or office wall. I make wall quilts for people’s homes or offices. It just seems right to include this size in a major show like the AQS shows. Besides, I love to go up to Lancaster, in particular, and now you’ve opened one in Chattanooga where I grew up and in Syracuse, close to Ithaca NY where I have many friends. I am sorry I can’t show my quilt in those locations in particular.From Andrea to me:
Thank you for your feedback. You are not alone. We have heard this about the sizes before, which is why we included the Wall Quilts- Fiber Art category (Width 24” – 40” and Length 24” or more). This category is available in Paducah and Syracuse in 2015.
We are currently working on our rules for 2016 where the size question was brought up again. I hope to include this size range in Des Moines as well.
I appreciate the very nice rapid response, but I urge AQS to consider adding this new smaller size category for all of their shows. The final point about this is that some very talented quilters live in a small space and have a small sewing space where making a larger quilt is physically taxing or even next to impossible. Opening this smaller size is not compromising in any way.
Such quilts should be beautifully created…good in design as well as construction techniques and fabulous quilting. It would also help spread the joy of beautiful quilts for decoration of home and office.
Sew happy everyone!
Now that I have completed my Canterbury Knight I am going to take a few months off from making show quilts to complete a book and its accompanying projects I have begun. I also am going to plow into getting the online shop set up for my new micro business “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”, which will offer short technique videos, downloadable embroidery items for use on landscape quilts, and downloadable print-on-fabric appliques also for use on art quilts. All I have left to do is get my shopping cart set up, oh, and complete the items for sale. 😀
We’ll see where this leads, but I’m sure it will be fun and I’ll be blogging about the journey at least once a week again. After I get all that going, I’ll make another show quilt. Lots of forks in the fabric arts road….:D
Sew happy everyone!
I have been thinking a lot lately, for some inexplicable reason, about some negative comments I have heard or read about art quilts. First off, let me say that MOST quilters of all sorts have a broad acceptance of quilting and quilters of any style and appreciate each others’ works, but there are some who view art quilts with a jaundiced eye, erroneously believing that art quilting is somehow easier and less exacting than traditional quilting. Unfortunately, there are also some “art quilters” who may, in fact, deserve this criticism, or view traditional quilting negatively. Silly views like these should be thrown completely out of the quilting world, and both should accept the other as fine art and fine craft and include continuous training and healthy pursuit of good techniques into their own particular crafts.
I also note that there is also a decided group of artists and media personnel who regard modern day art quilts as unacceptable for the art world, and it is high time museums, art collectors, and the media take a good hard unbiased look at what is going on in the quilting world today. Some of them have begun to accept some traditional historic quilts as worthy. But this is another issue than the one I am thinking about today.
Quilting, in any form, should be fulfilling, happy, fun, and emotionally beneficial. I also believe that, just as traditional quilters mostly strive for those perfectly crafted points and properly sized seams, that art quilters are called upon to also pursue the truthfully unattainable goal of perfectly designed and exquisitely constructed quilts. I am well aware how difficult this pursuit is, because I always end up with quilts that are less than my original vision–sometimes a lot less–even as I can see great progress in my techniques and designs over the years when I look at some of my original quilts and those I make now.
In truth, quilting of any style requires an understanding of both good design and good quilting techniques. They also require making multiple decisions on how to reach the goal of your envisioned quilt and solving problems along the way.
Original designs, especially in pictorial quilts, frequently start off one way and end up with big differences, This is because of finding another, more exciting technique or another design element change that works better than the original. Art quilts, in my humble opinion, should be pursued to be the best in the quilting world to hold up in techniques and design to the best in the traditional world. You can’t just slap some fabric and paint on a background and quilt it down.
That is why, quilting as an art form and art that uses fabrics, threads, paints, and beads in concert as its medium requires learning many different techniques and using them like a carpenter uses a tool belt full of fine tools. Pursuing the full understanding of those techniques is something I have been doing for some time now, and it is wonderful and fun each time I learn something new, or perfect something I thought I already knew how to do. I am very thankful for the great new world of online classes, shows, and videos that enable me to learn and learn and have a professional and fun time in my studio.
Sew whether you are a traditional or an art quilter or both, go learn and perfect your skills and find the joy of using these new or perfected tools to reach the visions in your head. Don’t, however, be too hard on yourself. Perfection is not a human thing…it is only God that is perfect. Enjoy those little things you know are not quite right in your quilts as a point that shows it is hand-crafted.
OK, I’ll climb down from my soapbox now and go back to work. 😀 😀 Cheers
Hooray! I finished Canterbury Knight. Oh, I still have to put the label on, but otherwise it is complete. This quilt is far from perfect, and yet it has absorbed so much of my time and efforts that I have sadly neglected my blogging, my house cleaning, and a few other things. And to top it all off, when I completed the squaring up and binding, it ended up too small for American Quilter’s Society shows…or too big. They have a six inch gap between their small wall quilts and their miniature quilts. It’s not a miniature anyway. It’s 26 x 35 inches. Not to worry, there are many other shows, including Houston, that believes that art quilts “of any size” are acceptable. And why shouldn’t they be. They take just as much effort.
Anyway, I love this little quilt with all its flaws. Here’s hoping I can get it into a few shows so some of you can see it in person. You should see the quilt at the top of this post and here’s a detail zoom:
Now I will turn to completing at least one of the books I have started. The one I am sure to finish first is 10 Projects to Help Master Bernina V7 Design Software. That title is way too long, so I’ll try to find something shorter. The next one will be on the different types of machine applique and which to choose for what purpose. I have a third one on surface design lightly outlined also, but let’s see if I can get the first one completed and somehow published.
I plan on blogging more often for a little while, and hopefully will get some feedback along the way. I love to hear from you. Sew happy everyone…takes some time to enjoy the spring, but also spend a little time creating.
Sometimes I have so much fun in my studio it feels like a great adventure. This past week has been one of those periods of time. I don’t have any pictures for you this week. You see, I am working on things I want to share with you later…after they are finished, and maybe even after they have debuted either at a show or in a published book.
I had a wonderfully productive work week last week. Spring seems to be springing and I finished quilting Canterbury Knight. I also managed, after about four tries of putting it on and taking it off over and over to get the three rows of Ricky Tim’s Razzle Dazzle around my central block with nice square corners and mostly straight sides. It looks so good I got excited about it. Now I have to paint the border designs. Yes, that is scary. After working for months and months on this quilt, the last thing I will do before binding, labeling and adding the hanging sleeve to it is the painting, where things can so easily go out of control. So today, I made a small mug rug sized piece that I quilted and all just to practice my painting before I start the real thing. “Practice makes perfect”…well, at least for me it makes “better”. 😀
In addition to all that, I took a webinar tutorial on Corel Painter. That was the best I’ve ever taken. The artist was painter master Aaron Rutton, and I discovered he has a lot of videos out there on this program under “Draw This”. I will be watching many more. I am slowly becoming almost able to really get the best out of that wonderful program, so I really will be watching a bunch more. It’s like using real paint without all the mess, and with additional cool things, like layers, that let me accomplish things I see in my head even if I am not a great painter…like the horse on the Canterbury Knight. I painted that in Corel Painter, minus tail and mane. It was a struggle, though, that took me weeks, so if I can improve my knowledge of this program, just think what I can do with it. I’m sure Mr. Rutton could have done that in a matter of an hour or two. One of things I plan to do with it is to put items for sale and for free like tail-less horses and faces and hands, and Vases for flowers for people to download and print on their own Electric Quilt or other printable fabrics for their own quilts. Let me know if you have suggestions for small, similar things you always wished you could find for your fabric art.
Then finally, I have been making huge progress on my book on using Bernina v7 software. I got a little bogged down on my applique book, because I need to work out samples and take pictures to move forward. But when my daughter-in-law came over for a short lesson on the software–she has never even used an older version–I realized that I already had a book in my head on that, because I have been thinking about this for a long time. So I sat down and sketched out an outline before I lost the idea that just came to me, and got the first two chapters of an eleven chapter book about ten projects that will help you get the most out of Bernina design software written and illustrated. To top it off, I got a response from Bernina that no permission was required for me to publish such a book. Hooray! I think I can finish this one by the end of April, though we will see.
Sew happy everyone! Even though it’s spring, and you want to go outside, still spend some time in your sewing space and then take lots of breaks running outside to see the next flower open.
Well, it has been quite a project up until now, but I am finally at the background stippling stage. Actually, I have finished the stippling in the central theme and am currently stitching around every letter in the text and stippling the black background with a simple smallish serpentine puzzle style of stippling. I find this seems to be the most effective when I want the background to become the least important part of the quilt. I don’t know. Judges probably hate it by now. So many people use that stippling pattern, and I see a lot of quilters have departed from it when I go to shows. But I still love it. For one thing, I can do it without too much thinking, so that leaves me able to think of other things, or listen to an audio book. What am I listening to now, you ask? Young Adult fiction by Brandon Sanderson…Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians and the subsequent books in the series. They are fun, light, and make me laugh from time to time, especially as the widow of a librarian and mother of a writer (he talks a lot about writers in the books).
Anyway, I got back my quilts (Sky Horse and Canterbury Silk) from Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival where they were part of the show. They did not ribbon, but I got some interesting comments from the judges. Would you like to know? For Sky Horse the judges (Frieda Anderson and Barbara Olson), said “A really ambitious project well done. Great use of embellishment”; and for Canterbury Silk (Esterita Austin and Anna Hergert), they said “The central motif is exceptionally well executed and supported by the text. Ensure your borders do not overpower the central theme.” From Road to California I finally got a complement on my quilting on Canterbury Silk, so that was a first. From MQX Midwest, that quilt won Best Surface Design, and I believe that was largely on the strength of the borders. So you never know. When you get to where your quilts are usually accepted into the major shows, and you don’t get a lot of criticism from the judges, or the comments from one show to another conflict, it is hard to figure what needs to be done to move forward into gaining ribbons. Ribbons are important to someone like me who is trying to establish a micro business, but they aren’t absolutely essential.
Sew I am about to overpower the central theme with the borders once again on Canterbury Knight. As you see, I have completed the quilting of the outlines of the border design and they are ready to paint as soon as I complete the miles and miles of stippling. I am thinking of adding a false sashing to the outside of the painted border by stitching it with decorative stitching. This quilt is a little smaller than Canterbury Silk and I think it could use that. What do you think? It would resemble the inner faux sashing I did on Canterbury Silk between the central theme and its overpowering borders (see below):
I am not putting a faux sashing on the inside of the borders for Canterbury Knight. I think it looks better without, since the borders have more stuff in them. Perhaps the additional black will help lower the power of the outer borders. 😀 Don’t worry. I’m really not upset. I am sure the judges were tired, had seen hundreds of gorgeous quilts and it just wasn’t their taste. Perhaps they really don’t like paint on quilts, which I think is highly probable. I’m not resentful, and I don’t really think they overpower the central theme. I’d be interested to know what you think of that.
Sew happy everyone! Spring is right around the corner, and even already there for some of you lucky souls. Cheers!
I finally got to the quilting stage on my Canterbury Knight, and am having a lot of fun on it. I just haven’t yet decided how I am going to quilt the grassy parts. The castle is done and looks like a castle, instead of a white silhouette of a Disney castle. 🙂 LOL Here it is about half-way through the quilting of the little castle. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this small part of my quilt.
I quilted the roofs of the castle in dark gray, and then I inked in the windows and the roofs with medium gray. It looks pretty good, but it made the roofs too close in value to the sky fabric. I don’t know if I will do anything about that. Not sure what I can do. I like it a lot as it is, but I think the judges will think there is not enough contrast. The towers are all still white, though, so that may be sufficient.
For those of you with Berninas and BSRs, you may be interested in my settings (sewing slowly):
For the castle: 100 wt. silk thread, 70 titanium top stitch needle, 2.75 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.0 stitch length. I then changed to 40 wt (set like sky settings below) gray and re-outlined the towers, and did roof tiles like tiny clam sells. After that was done, I did the inking.
For the sky: 40 wt. polyester Superior Rainbow, 90 titanium top stitch needle, 2.5 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt. poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.10 stitch length. I did the wind roses from this practice piece:
I still haven’t decided what to do with the grassy parts, and since the marks on the black border are really disappearing, I think I will move on to that next.
Sew happy everyone! Teach someone to cook or sew…your grandson, your son, your husband, your father. Share the fun.
This week I received the finished paperwork on establishing my micro-business “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”. I have a few more more steps before I can start offering downloadable items, and those are getting a shopping cart arranged and filling the shop part of my business with items you might want.
As some of you know, I retired from my intense US Government job on 31 December 2012, and have been slowly pursuing my plans to open this micro-business ever since. My expectations are to make enough money to pay for my fabric arts pursuits, provide money for attending some of those marvelous quilt shows, have a little spending money for fun and to travel to see my family in California. Sew it is very much a “Micro” business. This will also provide me a way to share more of what I have learned in my sixty plus years of sewing and art pursuits and eight or so years of taking art quilting seriously.
The first three years of my retirement I spent largely in setting up my workspace and learning, learning, learning…filling in all those gaps that exist between expert sewing and expert art quilting. I hope that I will continue to learn. There is so MUCH to learn. That’s part of what makes fabric arts so great…lots to learn, lots to experiment with, lots to share.
The process I used to set this up, as requested by my friend Maggie: As you may be aware, over the past few years I built my website and blog, and shared where I felt I could. Last week, I also registered the website name www.bettyjosfabricarts.com with GoDaddy and connected it to my existing website www.bjfabricartist.com This past month I went through Legalzoom.com and set up my “Doing Business As” or DBA. The cool thing about them is by using their questionnaire and putting in what you want, what state you are in, and so on, they take it from there. They work out the paper work, they send it to you. You take it and get it notarized, and send it back to them. They deal with the government entities and send you your license. They have lawyers available to talk to if you need to. I think it is just right for a micro business like mine. If you are setting up a more involved business, you might want to talk with a lawyer and get them to take this on. But this only cost me right around $150, plus the cost of my GoDaddy and Blog accounts. Not so bad, considering. I’m sort of a do-everything-myself kind of person, so I built my own website through GoDaddy. There are some really good tax and record keeping programs out there to help you with keeping the books too. I use Intuit who make TurboTax, but there are several good ones. This is a vast improvement over the way I had to work more than 30 years ago when I set up my own fashion design business in Ithaca, NY. and did everything on paper. The bookwork was dreadful, and took a large chunk of time. Of course, then I had two employees, the hiring of whom cost me all of my profits for a while, but I will not have employees for this little business.
You may be wondering what I am planning on offering for downloads. My intent is to provide you with the tools you need to make the fabric art visions in your head or improve the projects you purchase from someone else. Here is my initial list and it is truly subject to change:
1. Embroidery items for your embroidery machines like trees, flowers, flags, other small items to spice up your landscape quilts, or small in-the-hoop projects. I am currently working on a set of trees. Trees seem to be something I have needed a lot over the past few years and I have been unhappy with downloads I have purchased in the past, so I am digitizing them myself.
2. Patterns and/or step-by-step instructions for building your own incredible pieces of wall art.
3. I am writing two books (or is it a series of worksheets?). One is on all the different techniques I use for machine applique, and when to use each type. The second is on surface design…painting, thread work, beading. It’s entirely possible these will boil down to a series of worksheets complete with some projects and step-by-step instructions that will help you practice, rather than actual books.
4. Digitally painted items you may wish to download and print on fabric using your own inkjet printer, such as faces and hands, horses ready to applique and add threadwork for their tales and manes, small characters for appliqueing on your landscape quilt. These will come with instructions.
5. And finally, worksheets with learning projects on using technology in your sewing and quilting studio. This would include, for instance, how to use Corel Draw with Bernina v7 software to produce a provided wall art project. Or using a digital painting program, such as Corel Painter 2015 and a Wacom tablet to paint and draw your own faces and hands, or horses and dogs for printing on fabric. Or even a project with worksheet in taking your advanced sewing machines through their paces to help you to create that incredible piece of fabric art of your own.
6. Videos may accompany some of the items above.
In truth, I don’t expect many downloads to be available much before summer, and after that, they will be added from time to time. I plan on putting just a few up in the spring to help test the download, and shoppng cart system. I will be looking for guinea pigs, ur, testers and reviewers for some of my things as they come out, sew keep that in mind if you are interested. Sew this will probably take me a few months to get really rolling even though I now have the structure set up…kind of like building a house. I have the foundation made and the walls up, but I have to put all the inside finishes in.
Sew happy everyone! Learn a new technique every now and then and practice, practice, practice.
Some of the border items on my Canterbury Knight quilt need to be created off quilt and appliqued on, as opposed to painting directly onto the border. Sew I had an idea to just take the item, cut it out of the full sized print version (digitally, using Corel Draw), and reverse it, and print it onto some fusible web with the protective paper still on it. Originally, I was going to just iron it onto some appropriately colored pieces of cotton/silk Radiance and applique them on. But when I got the printout (in color), I decided to put the web onto prepared-for-dye radiance and see if I could ink in the designs. This is how it worked:
1. Here is my design printed onto the 8 1/2 x 11 inch fusible web piece. It is sitting on my light box.
2. Sew then I ironed it onto the radiance, turned it over, and taped it all to the light box. I also found a small piece of the black silk, that I would be appliqueing it to, in order to place it under the white PFD radiance and test how the inks looked before I inked it.
Here is another one ready to ink.
And then I begin the inking. Note that I went over the line in a few places and some of the edges are a little smudgy, because the inks run a little more on the Radiance than they do on cotton. It’s ok, the edges will be cut smoothly or outlined with quilting. Pressing with a hot dry iron will stop the run.
Here are the small birds I placed around the text box. These were the first ones I did this way.
And here you see the completely inked boy. I cut him carefully out. The bright colors get slightly muted when appliqued onto the black fabric.
I used Pitt’s Artist Markers. These markers are India inks, acid free, and appear to be permanent on cotton after heat setting. i am not planning to wash this quilt at all, so I have not tested the colorfastness through the washing process for the silk/cotton. I had noticed a note on Dick Blick’s where I order my markers from that they are not recommended for fabrics. This concerned me, since I have been using them for years on my fabric arts. So I wrote to Faber Castell and asked them why. This was their response the very next day:
“Dear Ms. Tatum:
Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell and the Art & Graphic Brand.
PITT Artist pens are not intended to be used on fabrics that are laundered because it will not remain on all fabrics when washed. Therefore, testing is always recommended, depending on different variables some things work, some don’t. Could you tell me how you are heat setting them, as this helps them endure a washing?
Please let me know if I can assist any further as I will surely do my best to help.”
I will say that I usually use prepared for dye fabrics for inking, but not always. I always heat set the inking with steam. If it is silk, I turn it over onto a piece of fine cotton and heat set from the back. I have washed several of my cotton quilts with Pitt Artist Markers several times, and some of them have been around nine years now with no fading or running. If you plan to use this product, do your own tests please.
Sew happy everyone! Teach someone to quilt or sew…your grand kids, your grown kids, your young kids, your cat, your dog…Cheers!
Inch by inch I am getting closer to my goals for “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”, which is my new name for my coming micro-business. Up until now, it has been a hobby, but I need to make enough money to keep on, and I want to be able to share things I have learned and my journey with my friends. It will just be a micro business. I am not going to take in quilting, for instance. I may do more workshops and lectures, but I’m not going to get into the big circuit that requires a lot of travel. I want to work here in my studio for the most part with an occasional visit elsewhere. I plan on selling the how-to books I’m currently writing, a few quilts, some downloadable videos, in-the-hoop embroidery (software), and some print-on-your-own fabric digitally painted appliques…just enough to keep on buying supplies and equipment with maybe a little on the side for fun.
I updated my Bernina embroidery software to v7 this week. It’s pretty fancy, and it does seem to have a lot of new tools. It also has a completely different interface and it will take a while to find all the old tools and figure out how to use the new ones, but I think it is going to be a big improvement overall. I’m going to take advantage of my dealer’s class on the software on the 31st.
Digitizing has become an important part of my quilting artwork. Nearly every quilt now has at least one thing on it that I drew myself and then digitized myself and embroidered in my Bernina Embroidery module. I have also been developing a flower quilt using my daughter in law’s wonderful photographs for in-the-hoop applique. I felt I needed to update from v6. V6 is a powerful program, but there are some things I believe v7 has that will help me a lot.
For a long time I have recorded my quilting progress with a little Nikon Coolpix pocket camera that I bought about ten years ago. Most of the photos I share here were taken with that. Last week, the motor that drives the lens died. I bought a Nikon Coolpix s9700 to replace it. It’s very like the old dead camera except that it’s a little bigger (but still fits in a pocket), the zoom is much more extensive in both directions, the macro can be much closer so I can really show stitches, the controls are much more extensive, so I can use manual aperture and other manual or auto settings. It has several scene settings, like my old one did, so I can get a quick picture, but they are more extensive. And it has the cutest little pop up flash. My old camera could do a little video, but this one can do a really nice video…up to 29 minutes long. I tried it out successfully, setting it up on a tripod and demonstrating how to cut out a fabric square just for practice. I will be doing a lot more practice over the next few weeks. Once I get handy at this, and figure out how, I will share some videos with you, and eventually, will make some downloadable videos for sale from my website.
Between all the nice technology, machines, cameras, and computer software I have assembled over the past three years since I retired, and the additional video and audio equipment my son Ken gave me, I should be able to realize my plan of writing books and making videos to share my techniques and some patterns, embroidery software, and downloadable printable fabric designs from my website by the middle of the year. Inch by inch I’m getting there.
Canterbury Knight Rides Forward: I have just completed getting the big central block properly set into the seamless border. Let me tell you, this was a HUGE struggle. The fabric of the central block is 100% silk charmeuse…hand dyed…and the appliques are silk/cotton Radiance. It is slippery, drapey, soft, and decidedly hard to control. The challenge was to get the central block into the seamless black piece of black radiance in a perfect rectangle and perfectly aligned with the straight of grain of the black radiance. It has taken me a full week, but I just accomplished this. It probably would not have been so long if I had done two things…not gotten it in upside down in the first place, 🙂 and used more stabilizer from the beginning. I ended up stabilizing BOTH the border AND the block. I used Madeira Cotton Soft tearaway, which I love. Contrary to its name, it is stiff. It tears away easily, but stays together until you are ready for it to come away. I have also found that the little bits that get left in soften when washed. Perhaps that’s why they call it “Soft”.
I also used my fairly new laser square, designed for builders and carpenters, to make the rectangle as perfect as soft drapy, slippery silk can be. I marked my central block cutting line with it with a thin chalk line and then cut it out with my rotary cutter. I then marked the stabilizer along both the cutting and the seam lines for the border. Here’s a picture of that (ignore the stuff in the background.). See the red laser line and the level on the laser? When it is level, it makes a perfect 90 degree angle and marks it for as far out as the table goes.
Sew happy everyone! Learn how to do a new technique or practice one you know! Inch by inch we can learn the techniques and gather the tools to realize our dreams. It does not have to be done all at once.