ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Another Fantastic Week at the Haliburton School of the Arts

I had a fantastic week with 12 eager students in my "The Art Quilt" class at the Haliburton School of the Arts this past week. I am living amid the lakes and forests of Ontario's cottage country for two weeks while I teach. We had a few days of perfect weather, not too hot at all this year!

On our first day we spent a lot of time on the topic of creativity, tried some different ways to inspire ourselves, and students got started on an idea/sketchbook. On our second day we got heavily into the topic of composition and design since this class is about designing your own work. Students are required to complete two design exercises by the end of the class, using two different ways of designing.  We start with an improvisational method, using free-hand cutting of fused fabric, keeping in mind what orientation, compositional style and elements and principles will be included.  The second exercise involves creating a pattern for your design, and using 5-7 values of one colour is part of the assignment, as well as choosing an orientation, compositional style, etc.  

On the third day we dye fabric.  Students choose whether to do an earthy or bright 12 step colourwheel, and then they learn how to dye multi-coloured fabrics.  Each of these methods introduces a new skill.  The colourwheel introduces colour mixing, while the multi-coloured fabrics introduce how to dye more by the seat of one's pants.

In a college environment we are required to use a dye box (sometimes referred to as a mixing box), rather than wearing protective masks, to keep the dye powder from becoming airborne.  You can see students getting set up with the mixing box below. 

Fabric is rinsed and washed the next day. I think Deb looks a little happy with the results in the photo below! There were some tense moments when a couple of the laundry bags broke and students' fabrics got mixed up. Fortunately everyone wrote their initials on the selvedge, so most were identifiable. Only a couple of the very dark colours were in question. Industrial washers sure agitate a lot more than home washers!

Here's a photo of a finished "earthy" colour wheel, with some multi-colours on each side.

Here, on our last day, is the wall of (mostly) completed design exercises. We spent more than an hour discussing them together. 

I'm including just a couple of close-ups with some points of interest to note.  In this free-hand cut portrait (of her daughter) below, Janey managed to include a full face, but if you look at the more intense yellow on the left section, you will see that the full frontal face also includes a second face from a side view. A very happy accident! 

Hopi's tropical leaf piece (made from a pattern she created) is almost complete. I think I have some serious competition in the foliage department ;-))! And we aren't even into the Flowers and Foliage class (which starts next week). I can't wait to see what students produce there. 

Here's my class ... I learned so much from them!  Thank you Deb, Beverley, Hopi, Katie, Ingrid, Colleen, Wendy, Kathleen, Maryann, Melanie, Judy, and Janey!

I also had the wonderful opportunity of getting to know Canadian Textile Artist, Sylvia Naylor, a lot better. We were assigned to the same cabin, and had some great chats in the evenings and at breakfast. That's Sylvia on the left and me on the right. 

Heading back to my cottage last night, I found this deer right next to the cottage.  I got as close as I could with my camera, but eventually I got too close and she darted off.  Deer sightings are one of the special parts of my weeks teaching in Haliburton each summer. 


  1. What a grand time you're having -- not to mention the students! (grin) Budding art quilters in that group, for sure!

    1. Yes I did have a grand time Margaret, and I get do do it again this week in my next class :-))

  2. It was such an exciting week, and it was great to be part of such an inspired and creative group. Thank you so much Elaine. You are a wonderful teacher - encouraging and generous. I can't wait to continue my artistic journey here at home. Enjoy the upcoming week! Ingrid

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback Ingrid. It was a real pleasure spending a week with you. All the best on your artistic journey.

    2. Sounds like a great week for you AND your students! It looks like they learned a LOT. I hope the second week will be a nice weather wise. This past one was gorgeous!! Continue to enjoy!


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