ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

This is the sight that greeted me in my backyard when I got up this morning. The cardinal posed while I ran upstairs and grabbed my camera. I had to shoot it at 24X zoom to get close so it isn't as clear as I would like, but still I am happy to have had the pleasure and joy of seeing one of my favorite birds.

Other signs of Christmas? My cat, Mudgie McMenace, appears to have visions of sugar plums dancing in his head while he escapes winter under the flannel sheets.
Speaking of sugar plums, I have baked mountains of shortbread cookies this past weekend. My relatives would be very upset if I didn't arrive with shortbread! Other than that I've been working on dye painting experiments. Here's the first. Hollis Chatelain I am not! I'm finding my brush technique a little sloppy, but I imagine that is one of those skills that comes with 10,000 hours of practice! More practice to come in the new year! But these tropical crotons at least make me think of warmer climates!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I was just about to post about the neutral hand-dyes when this adorable (and neutral coloured) little monster appeared, walking across the keyboard, sitting on top of my mouse. Suddenly I no longer was able to type an "e"? Coincidence? Or did Kissabelle (so named for her adorable habit of licking your hands and face) smash my "e" key so I would give up and go to the kitchen and dispense tuna? A good thing that a reboot solved the problem because not being able to type an "e" when your name is Elaine could be a problem.

Some of the neutrals turned out a little pink. I used a colour of dye (Red Brown from G&S Dyes in Toronto) that I had never tried before. I do love the result, but they may be a bit pink for what I was aiming for. What I love about hand-dyes is that they are always a surprise. Something magical happens in the dyepot. You may not get what you were aiming for, but you usually love what you get. Here's the pic, taken in Italy that inspired this series. I can't stop thinking about this image.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why I Wish It Were Summer

The tree commission is almost finished, and in between working on it, I've dyed over 80 meters of fabric in the last 4 days. But why do I wish it were summer? Because I think of how gorgeous all this fabric would look drying on the line in my backyard. Instead most of it was dried on the line in my dungeon,... er I mean basement. Line-dried fabric is much easier to iron than fabric that is scrunch dried in the dryer! I decided to get a head start as I am going to need lots of hand-dyes for sale early in the new year. I'm Shop of the Month at the
Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild on January 10, and then I'm lecturing and teaching at several large guilds in Toronto, Niagara, and Orangeville in February. BUT, I dyed a whole 24 meters for me me me, and that doesn't happen very often, but I am inspired to start work soon on my expired hostas, hopefully to be named "Curtain Call". Check out the 24 meters of expired hosta fabric. Am I a fabric pig or what? I've included one of my favorite hosta photos. My photos inspired the colours in this dyeing session.

But that's not all! I've replenished the "cool" colours in my hand-dye store, and if there are any spent hosta fabrics I can spare, they will go into the store too. Has anyone noticed that "olive green" dye doesn't look like it used to? Sometimes dye companies are not consistent with their mixes.

Ever since I taught my last In Full Bloom class and saw Jennifer working with a 3-step gradation of my pink hand-dyes (dyed from the colour fuchsia), I have been dreaming about pink. So here is a 13 step gradation of fuchsia I dyed, also for me, and some pole wrapped Arashi Shibori. Oh oh, that makes another 8.5 meters for me!!

I used my usual 9 step value gradation recipe, but to get the additional lights, I went right down to using 1/8 tsp dye powder, and for the very pale ones, using literally drops of dye. To get the darkest value I dumped a full cup of dye and a full cup of soda ash solution on only half a meter of fabric. All the books would indicate that the fabric would only take up so much dye, but you can see the darkest one is noticeably darker than the rest. And the plan for the shibori piece? Well, I am still thinking about this photo I took in 2006 in my sister's garden. A striped dahlia. I'll let you know if this idea works.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tree Commission

I'm working on a commission that is due on December 15. A photo of the work in progress is above. The man who commissioned the piece saw my work called "Standing Still" and asked me to make something similar in different dimensions to fit his stairwell. You can see the original below. It is one of my 3 works that appears in 500 Art Quilts.

So what do you think of the commission so far? Is my sky too wild and crazy? I went with the mood I was in at the time. I'm ready to stitch!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dye Happy 3 Soy Wax Batik

Saturday was Session 3 of my Dye Happy class, and the topic was Soy Wax Batik. Here I am showing some of the batik fabric I created, just before demo'ing how to stamp/draw on the fabric with soy wax, and then paint thickened dyes on the surface.

Here's Kirstin Fearon having a great time painting the thickened dyes on her soy wax stamped fabrics.

One student has painted two colours of thickened dye on this piece. The fabric has been soaked in soda ash solution and hung to dry ahead of time. Soy wax is stamped on and allowed to dry. Painting with dyes that have been thickened allows for control over where the colour is placed.
Thanks to Sylvia Young for the photos.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Liberated Strip Piecing

Saturday I taught my new Liberated Strip Piecing class for the first time. By Tuesday Barb Gillespie had completely finished her piece, including the quilting and photography and had posted it to her blog. She used fabrics that she dyed in my Dye Happy class. I love it! The objective of this class is to get students cutting and piecing free-hand.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dye Happy 2 Shibori

Frances O'Neill of Kingston sent these photos, taken in Session 2 of my Dye Happy class on October 23. Here I am demonstrating how to wrap a pole. The second picture shows the results of Frances' first attempt at Arashi (pole wrap) shibori. Stay tuned for more photos after the next class on November 20.

Sylvia Young sent photos of the Bomaki Shibori velvet scarves dyed in this session.

Vermont Part 2

Priscilla Roehm, the webmaster of the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild in Vermont sent this photo of Janet Brunet and I after my lecture. It was Janet's lovely home I stayed in, and she is also one of the Program Chairs of the guild. More pictures, including student work, are on the News section of their website.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Back From Vermont

I'm back from my trip lecturing and teaching at the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild in Vermont. I was welcomed into the home of Janet Brunet and Mike White and shown to the "Quilting Queen" suite, where I enjoyed my own private living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom (used to be a granny suite). Their home has a view of Lake Champlain, from both the front porch and the dining room. You can see the view below.

Vermont enjoyed a few gorgeous days of late autumn weather during my visit. It was quite beautiful as a few trees had not yet lost their leaves. I came across an apple tree heavily laden with fruit, and with the white picket fence behind, it struck me as a 'quintessentially Vermont' photo.

I even found a beautiful dahlia still blooming in Janet's garden.

Of course I also noticed the foliage. These gold and green iris stalks are stunning with sunlight illuminating them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


This past Saturday was the opening reception of Quilts=Art=Quilts at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, New York. Here I am with my piece, "In the Act", that was juried into the show. Below is my friend Jean Gerster, also from Ottawa, with her piece that was also juried into the show.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos of any other works since photography is usually not allowed at art exhibits. I had the opportunity to meet many other artists who had work in the show, and my friend Debbie Bein from Poughkeepsie, NY and Sue Reno from Lancaster, PA joined us for dinner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Blog

Here I am starting a blog. I have resisted this for a very long time, but have decided it is a more interactive way of communicating with the world, a good way to sharing my process and techniques, inspiring photos, student works, celebrate some of the amazing people I meet along the way, and document my travels.