ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Sunday, July 31, 2011

In Between

I really wanted to go to Greece this summer, but with the political agitation in Athens, and considering how crowded with tourists the Greek Islands would be in August (the only month I would be able to get away), I decided against it. Instead, Jeannie, one of the students in my Art Quilt class, brought Greece to me with the art quilt she made in last week's class. I feel like I'm right there on the Mediterranean.

Instead of Greece, I'm sitting in a coffee shop with WiFi getting my email fix. Just finished up The Art Quilt class on Friday and am about to start Threads: Uncommon & Unforgettable tomorrow morning. My sister left yesterday and I moved into the instructor cottages that belong to Fleming College.

I had a great time with a full class of 12 students last week.
By the end of the week each student had to complete two design exercises, one using a "seat of the pants" method, and the other designing their own pattern. I asked them to choose a composition that would enhance their idea, and have one of the elements and principles of design dominate their piece. In the second exercise they had to use a value gradation as well. The boat scene above by Jeannie and the waterlily pads below by Joan were both made using a pattern the students designed.

I can't possibly include all 24 pieces here but will just highlight a few:
Joan's lilypads absolutely glow.
Barbara's seat of the pants piece has a wonderful diagonal composition that gives a sense of movement, and the little touch of red helps provide a focal point just off centre, but without being overwhelming as it might have been if the leaf had been solid red.

Karen created "Fire and Ice" using a seat of the pants method, but inspired by creativity exercises we did on the first day. In this case the inspiration came from the written word, a poem title by Robert Frost.
Cat's diagonal "seat of the pants" piece also has a nice sense of movement, and a wonderful light and airy quality.
It is a gorgeous summer day here in Haliburton and I am now going out to see what inspiration nature offers me today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Red Dot, Otherwise Known as SOLD

I'm halfway through my week of teaching The Art Quilt at the Haliburton School of the Arts. Last night was the reception of our faculty show at Rail's End Gallery here in Haliburton.
As soon as I walked into the gallery and spotted my work I noticed the little red dot on the label and description to the right of my piece!
Much to my surprise and delight, my piece "Exhale" (see blog post of June 19 titled "Exhale") was one of othe first works to sell. A couple who came in from Toronto purchased it on Sunday. This is an all-media show, showcasing the work of all the instructors in the summer arts program, so a huge victory for fibre art to have a piece of fibre be one of the first pieces to sell! Now truth be told, I had kinda hoped to be able to use this piece to submit for our upcoming Canadian SAQA show, "Synthesis". Submission deadline for jurying is September 15 so I will either have to scramble to make another work or not participate in this show. We shall see how my schedule pans out. Let's not forget that I am trying to create work for my upcoming joint show with Cathy Breedyk-Law, and also planning to take some vacation a little later this month.
In the mean time, I have a great group of students in the Art Quilt this week. I will blog more about that and their works on the weekend. Today we did a day of fabric dyeing, and student Barb Shea shares the following photo of me demo'ing how to dye multi-coloured fabrics.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Breathing Easier

I haven't blogged in a while as I have been busy prepping and packing for my two weeks of teaching at the Haliburton School of the Arts. After a four hour drive from Ottawa today, I have arrived in Haliburton. This is what my car looks like when I am heading out on a two-week teaching trip!
I could not have fit another thing in my car!! I had to get a little ruthless too about what I could take. When there is dyeing taking place there are a lot more supplies, and when cottaging is involved there are sheets and towels, and pillows and groceries!

I have almost 24 hours to relax now before everything starts. Tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon I get to move all my stuff into the college. But in the mean time, I get to enjoy this:
This week I'm sharing a cottage with my sister, and next week I will be staying in the teachers' cottages. Not sure who my roommate/s are yet, but they will be other instructors teaching at the College.

I could feel myself breathing easier about 20 km before Haliburton when I came to my favorite view, where I can see the lake through the trees. Not sure what lake it is but that image is etched in my mind from previous trips.

I will try to blog this week, but it may not happen until the weekend when I am in between classes and have more time.

I hope you are enjoying your summer and taking time to breathe!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Threads: Uncommon & Unforgettable, Part 2

Here are a few more samples of the experimenting we will do in my upcoming Threads class:

Here is a bit of needle lace I created to make a Japanese gate. Eventually I will add a garden beyond the gate.
Another thread sketch, inspired by a photo I took in San Diego in March:
I'm still playing at stitching by hand with the hand-dyed threads. I love the scattered seed stitch used as a background filler.
I also tried thread painting a Monarch Butterly. The orange areas in the wings feature my hand-dyed organza. In hindsight I should have used a nice orange hand-dyed fabric, as the orange organza is transparent and only looks really orange with an orange background.
And speaking of orange, that reminds me that I also threadpainted an orange slice:
The next few days will be spent writing the notes for this class and reviewing and updating notes for the Art Quilt class. Next week I'll be packing up for the trip!

New Work

Last night I went to bed and wondered why I couldn't sleep? Well could it be because I had been working with the colour red up until 2:30 a.m.? Yes, I put the red stool on "Red Stool". Here it is. There are still a few values to tweak and decisions to be made on how to finish it. Am I going to leave the legs dangling off the bottom and have an irregular edge on the top?
I tried adding a dark green behind the foliage and the lower edges of the stool legs and then scanned it into my computer.
Not bad, and it does balance out the stool a bit. What do you think?

My striped dahlia (still unnamed) is quilted and faced as well. I decided on facing because the stems and leaves travel off the piece, and a dark binding would have just cut them off. I wanted them to travel off the edge.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Threads: Uncommon & Unforgettable

I've been working on numerous small samples in preparation for my new class, "Threads: Uncommon & Unforgettable" at the Haliburton School of the Arts, August 1-5. The class will cover a multitude of ways to use all kinds of threads, including hand-dyed (which you will learn to dye yourself). Students will be trying a variety of methods for using thread on quilts by making small samples, that can either be put together in a sample book or framed for a set of small works. Although I've used most of these methods in my quilts at one time or another, the small samples will give ideas and inspiration for students to work small, and are giving me a chance to review best ways to create these works and document processes for student notes.

We'll be doing a little thread sketching. Thread sketching is done through the quilt top (without batting) keeping the thread raised higher whereas during machine quilting the thread sinks into the sandwich more. Thread sketching gives a "sketchy" kind of look to your quilt top, especially when you do it in black. Don't worry, you don't need to know how to draw.
On this one I did go free-hand and sketched without a guide. At a certain point if you are adding too much thread you really do need a hoop.
This was thread sketched, and then coloured pencils added.
We'll be trying a little machine quilting with hand-dyed pearl cotton.
Heavier weight hand-dyed pearl cottons are great for couching, which is what I did in this sample. In between I have quilted with a 40 weigh rayon thread.
The snowflake below is achieved through bobbin drawing using "Razzle Dazzle" thread by Superior.
The bottle fly below is threadpainted separately with stabilizer and hoop and attached to the quilt. There will be a piece of white silk organza in your kit (included in the supply fee) if you want to try insect wings. I really love this little bottle fly and yes, he is the same fly as in the thread sketch at the top of this post!
One thing that is new to me is hand-stitching with hand-dyed threads. I mastered 9 different stitches yesterday and I AM IN LOVE. What is not to love about french knots using hand-dyed thread? I always expected the fabric to pucker, but not if you attach a batting to the back and do all your stitching through the front and batting. At the end you can attach a back and all the knots will be hidden.
A big problem with writing your class supply list a year before your class runs is so much happens in that year that you have new things you want to add. So if you are taking the class and reading this post, please bring some favorite photos and images. I will also have lots of my own with me that you are welcome to borrow and use, but it is nice if you get to work with your own favorites. If you have artist pencils, do bring them, but if you don't please do not spend the money. We may only use them for a little bit and you are welcome to borrow mine. Also, I forgot to add practice sandwiches to the supply list. I'll be emailing the class in a week or two when the registration list is more stable to communicate the above.

Also, guess who has signed up for the class? Anita Zobens, owner of Cotton Mill Threadworks and a Superior thread educator. As many of you know, Haliburton has an art supply store on campus during summer classes, but there is nothing for sale there for fibre enthusiasts. I've asked Anita to bring a selection of Superior Threads and stabilizers in case there is anything you need. Although I am a huge fan of Superior products, there will be no sales pressure and sales will be restricted to lunch hour and after class to preserve teaching and learning time. My store of hand-dyed fabric will also be available, and the same policy applies (sales only during lunch hour and after class). The threads for dyeing that will be in your kit are still sitting somewhere in Canada Post's backlog of mail, as are the yorker bottles you will need for dyeing the thread.

Now it's back to more experimentation for me!! I still have some samples of bobbin lace and stitching on tulle to prepare, and a set of notes to write!