ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

So Much to Say After So Long

Greetings dear followers, if there are any still out there. So much has happened. I've officially retired from teaching, but I'm still available for Zoom presentations. The world has changed, and I no longer want to be in planes and automobiles. I also need to take better care of myself.

I meant to get this blog post out before the magazine hit the news stand, but it's out early, so now I'm rushing to make this post. I'm a Cover Girl, only days short of my 62nd birthday! Who'd have thought? Yes, I have an article about my series Conversations Over Coffee in the Autumn 2023 issue of Art Quilting Studio.
I'm on the cover!

The article inside

Here are photos of the entire series. 

I only now realized that Conversations Over Coffee 5 was not included in the article. A shame because it would appeal to cat lovers.

 I still remain unsure about how, or if to, continue this blog. It's clear to me that moving forward I'm walking into (or rather, already have walked into) the role of thyroid activist and advocate. That's a long story for another blog post. I shared some of my health difficulties in posts two years ago. Since that time I learned my thyroid has atrophied. And that lead me to research, and to finding a wonderful group that is helping people with thyroid disorders. The story includes how and why it took seven years to diagnose my problem! And yes, there is going to be a quilt!


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Conversations Over Coffee 4, functional work, process

Last weekend I finished collaging the fourth cup in my "Conversations Over Coffee" series. Here it is, based on an expresso cup I own that is strikingly black and white (black interior in the cup, black saucer, and white on the outside of the cup and rim of the saucer). It's a chunky little cup. For the sake of sharing the finished up, I just placed it on this red and white polka-dot fabric. I'm thinking I will probably also collage the background. The other thing I've been doing is researching how to break up space in art, so I can break up the background to look like a little snippet from a cafe scene. Stay tuned as I continue to create (and eventually finish) cups.

I've mentioned before that during the pandemic I have completed a lot of functional projects. While they have been shown on Facebook, they don't appear on my blog because I fell away from blogging for a long time. During that time I mastered the knitting of socks. In the last year and a half I've knitted seven pairs of socks, and each time they get just a bit better. Here is a recent pair I finished for my husband.

I also created a couple of jelly roll rugs in the past year. This is my second one, made with some of my stash of older hand-dyed fabrics. In a future post I will share the one I made from polka-dotted commercial fabrics. These are fun to make and fun to live with. Roma Lambson is the name of the person who came up with the idea, and you can buy the instructions here. You'll also find a lot of tutorials and ideas by others by googling "jelly roll rug".

I've decided to make my first coffee cup over again because I don't like the way the first one looks using the glue method. I prefer the clean look that fusible web gives me. Also, it seems to be smaller than the cups I've made since. I'm making it a bit larger this time. I'm going to share a bit of the process here.

I've started with my photograph, and taken it into Photoshop Elements to "posterize" it. This exaggerates and separates out the values (darks, mediums, and lights). That makes it easier for me to create my pattern and place my fabric.

I traced out the cup and saucer, and all the places where I see value changes on a transparency film. I placed the transparency film on the copy bed of my printer, and enlarged the design by printing across four pages. I then taped the four pages together. You can see in the photo below where the join lines are, and that I've pinned the pattern to a piece of foam core board covered with batting. 

I trace the pattern to a piece of muslin, and will begin to build the design right on the muslin.

To prepare for building the cup, I've chosen a wide range of fabrics, from the palest turquoise to the darkest. I'm looking for some whimsical fabrics, and also fabrics with text on them (remember these are about conversations!).

I've cut pieces of fusible web to iron to the back of each fabric. You don't need a lot of each fabric. A small piece about 6" square, or thereabouts, will be plenty.

You may recall this was the first cup I made. I will be making it a bit larger, and fused like all the cups that came after. Let's just consider this one my prototype.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Seeds Sown Long Ago

Sometimes things done and seen long ago plant seeds that sprout in the future. That's what is happening to me from time to time. Although I haven't been exhibiting and teaching for the last two years, I still had my work noticed by a magazine, Art Quilting Studio, and was invited to write an article. "When Photography Converges with Dyes, Fabric and Stitch" is published in the Summer 2021 issue. No you won't find me on the cover, but you will find my article inside.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it has been hard to locate a copy of the magazine. Yes, I should receive a complimentary copy for being in the magazine, but it doesn't seem that the mail has been reliable. I've searched out four Chapters/Indigo stores in my city, with no success. One sold out quickly. Another has a huge stack of the Spring issue, so who knows if they will receive the Summer. Most Chapters/Indigo stores have also reduced the number of magazine titles they carry. There is a mixture of old and new issues on display. Not to worry, I've ordered a few copies from the publisher. They will get here when they get here. In the mean time, I do have a pdf of my article so I can at least show you what it looks like. This is the pdf they sent for me to proof. I made no changes except to add the name of the photographer (Patrick Blake) of my sunflower triptych, "Fleur du Soleil".

It also happens that my international Crossing Oceans Textile Artists group is having their first exhibition since the pandemic at Farfield Mill, Sedbergh, England. Our organizer, Jane Rollason lives half-time in England and half-time in France. For a while our works were locked in her home in France without her being unable to access them due to lockdowns and travel restrictions. If you click on the photo below you will be taken to a nice spread of our work and information about the artists.

I'm nearing completion of my fourth coffee cup collage, so I will be back with that soon. I am now fully vaccinated, and wondering "what now"?

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Conversations Over Coffee #3 and Re-Opening

 Greetings. Here in Ontario, Canada, lockdown ends tomorrow, when we move into the first phase of our three-step re-opening. It's been a long ordeal for many people. Now that vaccines are arriving in plentiful numbers, we've been able to move ahead our timeline to get everyone vaccinated. My second vaccine will take place on June 27. 

I'd like to share the third piece in my series, "Conversations Over Coffee". The challenge was to create a white cup. I've taken some inspiration from torn paper collage artists in using fabrics with text. I know the black and white polka dots will figure in the background some way, but likely not exactly like this photo. I want to wait until I've finished a few of these collages before I decide on backgrounds. I'm pleased with the shading, but still playing a bit with the foam on the coffee.

The inspiration for my next piece will be a black and white espresso cup and saucer. So I will make use of the same set of fabrics as the above piece, but the values will be quite pronounced, rather than gradual.

In my first collage cup I used glue to adhere my collage shapes. In my second I used Lite Steam a Seam 2. This is now my preferred method. In my next post I'll share some process in prepping the fabric. I am also still playing with collage shapes. I think everyone will cut them differently and everyone's piece will show the hand of the maker.

As the lockdown went on and on and on, I found my mental health sliding a bit. Lower mood and more anxiety. But now that we are heading into a slow opening up, I'm feeling more anxiety about whether I'll be able to cope in a so-called "normal" world, after having been in isolation so long. Well OK, I did see some friends during the lockdown. That was one of my coping skills. I walk outdoors every day, and many days it was with a friend. But going out into the world is a whole other story. I know I'm not the only one who feels it. I read an article recently that said some people would be hyper social after the pandemic is over, going to every social function they can. Others will have "cave syndrome", like an animal coming from hibernation in spring, scanning the horizon for danger. We'll just have to ease back in slowly.

And that brings me to the subject of my career. There is likely to be big changes. At the moment I am not teaching. Not in person and not on-line. We'll see what I feel like after things are more normal for a while. I've done a couple of presentations on Zoom and will continue to do them if asked. I also don't want to be dyeing kits in the future. I have a good number of Poppy and Peony kits left, perhaps about a dozen of each, and once they are gone I will not be dyeing more. That boat has sailed. It's time to move on to something else. What that is I'm not sure yet. I bet I'm not the only one feeling that too in these strange times.

Hoping this post finds you well and enjoying the beautiful summer weather, now that the heat wave has calmed down.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Conversations Over Coffee, and Spring

I'm back with my second collage coffee cup in the "Conversations Over Coffee" series. In the first image below you can see what I thought was a finished collage. I did notice that the handle of the cup got a bit lost, but I was a bit stuck on the fact that this is the way the cup actually looked in real life. 

A friend left a comment on Facebook about the "lost" handle, and that made me take it more seriously. Who cares if the handle of the real live cup gets lost? We can improve on it! And so I did, as you can see in the photo below.

I like the background the cup is sitting on, but I am still toying with the idea of collaging my backgrounds as well. That will become clearer as I move forward with a few more pieces in the series.

My next cup project will be a challenge because it is white. Here is the photo that inspired it. 

It occurs to me that the perspective on the orange cup (shot from above) is much more interesting than the perspective in the other coffee cups I've photographed in my travels. Most of them are taken straight on. Well hmmm ... I might have to have me a photo session with my own coffee cups here at home. "Conversations We Can't Have Over Coffee"?? It feels that way as this lock-down really drags ... we are all weary of the pandemic.

It's been raining a lot lately, and we've experienced many cloudy days. Last weekend when the sun came out we went to one of our favorite nature trails. I was delighted to see the woods turning green again.

And even more delighted to be there at a time when ferns are unfurling

It is also Trillium season here in Ontario.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Elaine's Back

Greetings my long lost blog followers. It's been one year and 10 months since I last posted here. I became one of those blogger ghosts. I used to wonder why some people started blogging and then disappeared, or started a web site and then didn't update it for years. Without going into too much detail, I had a year of ill health: a very severe depression in fact, that had me hospitalized twice, for a total of 8 weeks. But I think the anxiety I suffered with it was worse than the depression. I had absolutely NO IDEA how bad a depression could be. While I had suffered one in my 30's, it was nothing of the magnitude of this one! All of this happened just before Covid hit. To say that Covid has been difficult would be an understatement, but I feel as though I am making progress and getting glimpses of myself again. For most of the last year I have been busy making practical things like knitting socks, crocheting rugs, making a jelly roll rug, sewing three large quilts. Only recently have I started a new series. My daily walks, distanced visits with friends, making things, and setting small goals have helped me cope.

I am happy to share the first in my new series called "Conversations Over Coffee". Conversations over coffee with a friend are one of the things I most miss about these strange and isolating times we live in. I spent many years travelling to teach and travelling for pleasure, and I have photographed the coffees I have enjoyed in many locations. I have always loved collage, but never seemed to find the time to try it. In the process of trying collage I have fallen in love with commercially printed fabrics again. I love the whimsy of polka dots and swirls and squares, and in this turquoise cup below there is even a cat face near the bottom centre. I am not sure if this will be the background I will settle on. I plan to wait until I've made several cups before I decide. I would like some common feature in the background to pull all the cups together.

The cup above was inspired by a cup of coffee I enjoyed in Vancouver. Next I'm going to do a collage inspired by this orange cup of coffee I enjoyed in Strasbourg, France, in 2017. Isn't it cheerful?

This past Saturday I also gave my first presentation on Zoom, to Courtepointe Quebec, the Quebec Provincial Quilting Association. The feedback was very positive. So I am hanging out my shingle to give presentations again. Do email me at equehl@hotmail.com if you are interested. But please note that I am not currently teaching on Zoom. If and/or when that changes, I will announce it on my web site, here on my blog and on Facebook.

As I write we are in the third wave of covid here in Ontario, and the most restrictive lockdown we have seen since Covid started. We just didn't get enough vaccinations in time before the variants took over. I had my first shot of Moderna on Saturday. Fortunately, because I am turning 60 later this year, I was eligible to receive a shot with the 60-69 age group.

I hope you are keeping well and safe. This past year has been hard on all of us. Brighter days are ahead.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Captivating Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

I've seen Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, in the rain a couple of times, but this time we had the pleasure of seeing it in sunshine! Just look at the view from the guest house we stayed at during my visit to the Celtic Quilt Guild. Carolyn and Howard graciously offered the space to us. At night you could see the milky way if you turned out the lights and went out on the deck. We arrived to a wonderful dinner of lobster!!! 

I taught a second "In Full Bloom" workshop here just like the week before in Mahone Bay. A few students decided to design their own work and a good number worked with my patterns. Look at the bright and lovely community centre the class took place in. Each student had their very own table.

This student finished her peony over the two days.
and so did Claudia.

Wow, here's another heavy weight of the quilting world in my class. Do check out Anne Morrell Robinson's website. She runs an amazing business out of her home studio in Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island. I wish I had her energy!

So great to see Kristi Farrier again ... she used to live near Ottawa and now she's moved to Cape Breton! Kristi is also the current SAQA Rep for Maritime Canada. To Kristi's left is Helene Blanchet, whose show we had the pleasure of seeing at the Antigonish Library on our way home. A bit about that later in the post.

Here's the class. On the right in the front row is Carolyn McKay, my lovely hostess.

A big thank you to this group for their warm welcome! After class my husband and I drove up the coast to the town of Cheticamp for dinner. We stopped on the way back to our guest house to take a few photos. Enjoy!

On our way home we stopped at the Antigonish Library to see the exhibition of Helene Blanchet. It was as charming as she is. Helene tells stories with her quilts, and the story she tells in this show is about her experiences moving to Calgary for three years.

In "The CFA" (first piece on left above, detail shot below), Helene depicts herself arriving in Calgary. If you've ever met Helene, this is so her!

 I love the way she extends her designs into painted frames. "A Coulee for Barbara"

I could not find a website for Helene, but you can read an article here in the Cape Breton Post 

Again, we took our time driving back to Ottawa. Everywhere we went, including our overnight stay in Riviere-du-Loup it was lobster season. We picked up dinner on our last night at a "poissonerie" very near our hotel.