ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last of This Celebration's Blog Give-away

Here are the four fat quarters of hand-dyed velvet being shipped to Sharon Bourque, who was the winner of the most recent celebratory blog give-away.

There are two prizes for the grand finale.

The first prize is a copy of Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy with Women by Ann Futterman Collier.  Dr. Collier wrote this book to help mental health professionals incorporate textiles into their art therapy programs, but it is written in terms that anyone can understand, especially those of us who have stories about how quilts brought healing to our lives.  I am one of several artists interviewed in the book.  To win this book, please share a personal story here about the healing aspects of quilts by midnight EST on Thursday, January 31.  I will award the book to my favorite story.  If that sounds hard, I will tell you that someone already posted a suggestion that I award prizes to the person with the most creative story.  

The second prize is four fat quarters of hand-dyed fabrics (colour choices are yours). These can be won by being the first person to leave a post saying you want them!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dyeing Adventures: To Snow Dye or Not to Snow Dye?

Recently I saw a small work by an artist that made use of vintage crocheted lace that she had hand-dyed.  It just so happens that while sorting through some of the "stuff" in my basement, I came across a box of hand-crocheted doilies, tablecloths and lace that my mother made when she was a young woman.  I am not the lace and doily type, but look at what a transformation when the doily gets dyed with my favorite colour chartreuse!!!  I have a lot more of these, but want to wait until I figure out what, if anything, I am going to do with them before I dye them.

During the months of January and February I am not travelling, and only have weekly local teaching, so I am completing a lot of projects that really need to get done.  I am also taking some time to dye some fabric for my own work.  Last week I dyed about 12 meters of multi-coloured fabrics in earthy/neutral shades (browns, sickly greens, golds, etc., and yes I happen to love sickly greens ;-)).  I had in mind more fabric for end-of-season hostas. Gosh I love these colours.  I am really happy with the results, and I love how the colours mix into each other and blend from one to another.  I will keep what I want for me and the rest will go into my "store".  I think it is amazing that after 11 years of dyeing I can still feel the magic.  

I think these three are my favorites!

For many years now I have been using my stash of commercial fabrics as backings for my quilts, but I've now run out of yellow-greens and golds large enough to back a quilt.  I found some cotton in my dyeing dungeon that wasn't as premium as the one I use for my usual hand-dyes, and dyed a few backings for my next several quilts.

Now to the snow dyeing.  Almost exactly two years ago, I conducted an experiment to compare the results of regular low-water immersion dyeing and snow dyeing.  I made a summary and posted photos of my results here.  I didn't like the white spots that were often present in my snow dyed fabric. This year we've had lots of snow, so I was itching to try again. I figured that if I use less concentrated dye solution (and therefore less saturated colours) the white spots wouldn't bother me so much.  So in half of my snow-dyes I used a medium intensity (1 tsp. of dye powder per cup of water), and in the other half I used a light intensity (1/4 tsp dye powder per cup of water).  I also tried two methods.  I found a piece of strong nylon netting and used bulldog clips from the stationery supply store to clip the netting over the top of a kitty litter pan.  I scrunched four meters of fabric, that had been soaked in soda ash solution for at least ten minutes, and placed them on top of the netting.  I packed snow on top (sorry I forgot to take a photo when the snow was packed on top), and then poured the dyes over. This photo shows the fabric after the snow has melted.  Because the fabric is raised from the bottom of the pan, it is not allowed to sit in the dye solutions and melted snow that gather and mix in the bottom.

Method 1: fabric is held up by a piece of netting clipped to edges of the pan.

I dyed another eight meters using the regular method, as outlined here, with fabric sitting on the bottom of the pan, in the mixed liquid.

Method 2: Fabric is allowed to sit in the liquid resulting after the snow melts

As soon as I started rinsing the dyed fabric, I felt the disappointment.  Too much white because the dye wasn't able to get into all the scrunches. There is a lot more left to chance with snow-dyes.  With my regular low-water immersion method I usually manipulate the fabric to make sure there are no white spots.  One can't do that when one is pouring dye across the snow that is packed on top of the fabric. You simply can't get at the fabric.

Here you can see some results using the second method, where the fabric was allowed to sit in the dye solutions. Less crystal patterning and huge dead white spots.  I am actually contemplating overdyeing some of them in a weak solution of yellows or a pale neutral.  That will sort of pull all the colours together a bit.

The ones dyed on the net are by far the nicest and have interesting patterning.  Not the kind of fabric I usually use in my work, but quite interesting.  I'll keep these.  They have a loose watercolour look to them. I've posted my two favorites.

While I may be a seat-of-the-pants dyer, mixing up colours and throwing them around, I am still able to produce pretty much what I want, and even sometimes better than what I had hoped.  After my second adventure with snow dyeing I still feel that it leaves too much to chance.  However, I am curious to know what would happen if I squeeze the fabric in the dye liquid after the snow melts, and let some paler colour settle into the white areas?  Hmmm ... or maybe I'll stick to what I do best ... low-water immersion.

What about you?  Have you tried these methods, and which one do you like best?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blog Give-away Winner

The winner of the meter of hand-dyed velvet is Sharon Bourque of Sudbury, Ontario.  Congratulations Sharon!  Please contact me at equehl@hotmail.com with your wishes (sizes and colours) and your mailing address.

I thought I would also share a photo of the piece of fabric I custom-dyed for Huei Sei Ong, winner of the last fabrc give-away.

Stay tuned for my next and last blog-give away during this month of anniversary celebrations. I'll also be sharing results of my latest snow-dyeing experiments.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Non-Celebratory Blog Give-Away

As you know, this month is supposed to be a month of celebrating my ten years of teaching/selling hand-dyed fabrics, and my five years of doing so full-time. Well it isn't exactly a day of celebration at our house today. Quite the opposite in fact. We had to euthanize our cat, Mr. McMenace. Although he wasn't my studio assistant in the way that my old cat Johnny, who died 9 months ago was, Mr. McMenace often did try to prevent quilts from moving when I was trying to free-motion quilt them.  His name says it all ... he was a challenging cat, and tested our patience at every turn over the last 14 years, especially over the last two as we had to medicate him for hyperthyroidism twice a day, and as we watched his temperament grow more and more mercurial. When we brought him to our home at 6 weeks of age, we named him Peaches because of his colour, but as he matured his name morphed due to his character.  He was a Jekyll and Hyde type, sometimes loving, but often full of piss and vinegar, but I loved him anyway.  We are left with only one cat now, Kissabelle, who is finally free of the violence bestowed on her by Mr. McMenace. Above is a photo of Mr. McMenace appreciating a warm pile of velvets fresh from the dryer.  In memory of Mr. McMenace, today's blog give-away is a meter of luscious silk-rayon velvet, custom-dyed by me.  Your choice on how you want it: a) a full meter of the same colour/s, or b) two half meters of different colour/s, or c) four fat quarters of different colour/s.  Leave a post by midnight EST on Friday, January 25, and you will be placed in the draw to win!
Mr. McMenace at the cute and peachy age of 6 weeks.

King of the Jungle

Handsome and often innocent looking!

Sleeping in the garden at the feet of an angel.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Interview on CQA Blog

Recently I was interviewed by Jackie White for the Canadian Quilting CQA/ACC blog.  My interview is posted on the blog today.  Hop on over and see how I answered Jackie's questions.  We cover a number of topics: my background, how I got into quilting, my teaching career, why I enter juried shows, why I use hand-dyed fabrics, and even what my favorite foods are (just in case you want to bribe me with chocolate ;-)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winner of Blog Give Away: "Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World"

Congratulations to Josée, who is the name drawn to win a copy of "Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World". I only know one Josée, so it must be Josée Dambois from Ottawa. Josée, please email me to let me know if I am correct and how we might arrange to get the book to you.  Often I am unable to respond to blog posts as my responses go to "no-reply" and there is no last name associated with the comment.  The next blog give away will be announced on Monday.

It appears that there is overwhelming support for business card #2, followed by #6, and then 9, 4 and 1.  I am going to give another try to using Photoshop to cut out the irregular red stool quilt used in #2 and placing it on a green background.  If anyone has tips on how to do that I'm all ears.  I've tried a few times unsuccessfully.  I did use Gloria Hansen's wonderful "Digital Essentials" book, but couldn't find some of her prompts in my version of Photoshop?.  Heather suggested using red text instead of green in #2, which I did try, and found it drew too much attention from the quilt. I will keep comments about font type and size in mind.

Thank you all for your help!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Student Work

Perhaps this is the photo I should have wished you a Happy New Year with!!  Doesn't it look like fireworks, an explosion, a celebration?  It was made by Maria, who took my "Serendipity Strips and Curves" class at Haliburton School of the Arts last summer.  Just before I left for Christmas holidays to visit family I received a lovely email from Maria, thanking me for the class and telling me how much she enjoyed the class and the Haliburton experience.  Along with the email came photos of all the works she had completed since. I think it was just about the nicest Christmas present I received

This is a pretty fast-paced class as we learn a new method of free-hand cutting and piecing each of the 5 days and then have the rest of the day to cut and sew.  Students seemed to love it and the teaching evaluations certainly reflect that. 

Here are more of Maria's wonderful works.  These are my kinda colours!

Yesterday I received an email from Kathleen, who also took the same class last summer.  She just finished one of her pieces, called "One November Day".  She arranged her free-hand cut blocks in a sort of barn-raising setting, with an irregular edge.  It absolutely screams of rocks and wood and blowing leaves, and of course November!

Pat took my Liberated Strip Piecing class in St. John's, Newfoundland, last winter, and produced this fun quilt, which somehow warms me with its tropical colours on a very cold Ottawa day. An interesting bit of information is that it now hangs in her daughter's home back here in Ottawa!  I still have very fond memories of how well I was treated by the ladies (and often their husbands) in St. John's.  I'm so glad I decided to go, I was in awful shape before I left, and returned in a wheelchair due to the painful inflammation in my knee from arthritis. I've come a long way!

Linda Mariani of Toronto sends this dramatic version of my autumn tree pattern.  Bare branches and the striated grey background remind me of winter trees on barren fields covered in snow and ice.

Last, but certainly not least, come some photos from my Uncommon and Unforgettable Threads class at Dragonfly Fabrics here in Ottawa.  A repeat of this five day class starts again Friday, February 8.  We had a waiting list after registration for the first series, and now that we are repeating it, we have a couple of vacant spots left.  

Here are Rosemary's stunning thread-sketched patio chairs!  I love that she varied the colours from what they were in the original photo.

Rosemary has also added her thread painted bottlefly to a sunflower quilt.

Mary Lynn finished this thread-sketched leaf.  This could be used as is, or cut out and appliqued to another background.

Love this little bee that Rosemary did, very much like a pencil sketch.

Anne was working on thread-painting some butterflies to be added to a patchwork quilt.

Alice's thread-painted orange is so convincing I can almost taste it!

Rosemary's stash of hand-dyed threads (dyed in this class) kept capturing my attention!

In the last class we learned some hand-stitches so that students can use the luscious threads they dyed.  When I first started dyeing thread ten years ago, my intention was to use it for machine quilting, couching and bobbin work.  Ten years later, I really want to use it for handwork and try to combine some of that with my machine quilting.

Check out Josée's work.  She didn't want to use up her precious hand-dyed threads on a practice sampler, so she brought this variegated thread.  You just never can tell the effect until you try it, and this one was gorgeous.  Check out that spiderweb motif, which looks a bit like a mariner's compass!

I love how organized some of my students are.  Alice created a sampler with all the stitches and wrote the names on so she wouldn't forget.  How I wish I had done this so many times in my life!  But alas I am the "seat of my pants" type.

She tried a variety of threads, including this commercial one which so captivated me because it reminded me of peppermints or candy canes because of the way the red/green stripes run along the stitch. This simple little stitch, called the scattered seed stitch, is still one of my favorites!

I'm sure there were more wonderful samples.  Mary's Italian door comes to mind but I can't seem to find a photo.  Sometimes there is so much going on in a class that I can't focus on all of it.

Today I'm prepping for tomorrow's class, and getting into the dungeon, er I mean dye studio!  HA!

Have a great weekend.  I'll announce the winner of the blog give-away later on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Need Your Help Blog Give Away

Thanks to everyone who stopped by with comments during the last blog give-away. The next celebratory blog give-away is a copy of the book "Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World". 

To be eligible to win this book I need a little bit of your help.  I've been experimenting with new business card designs.  I've updated my old design (Design One) below, and created ten additional designs.  Please vote on your favorite of the eleven designs.  Those who cast a vote by midnight EST on Friday, January 18 will have their names entered in a draw to win this book. Also, don't hesitate to make suggestions to improve your favorite design.

Design 1

Design 2

Design 3

Design 4

Design 5

Design 6

Design 7

Design 8

Design 9

Design 10

Design 11

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winner of Fabric! Plus Laurie Swim!

Last night at 1:20 a.m. I turned a page in my schedule, and realized how far along we are in January.  I had forgotten that Part 2 of my Drawing Fundamentals class begins this morning!  So I assembled all the names for the fabric draw and and drew one.  The winner of the meter of hand-dyed fabrics is Ong Huei Sei from Malaysia!  Congratulations!  I once visited Malaysia a very long time ago in 1986.  My husband's father was working there at the time.  It is a beautiful and very multi-cultural country.

Also, I wanted you to know that Laurie Swim is interviewed on the Canadian Quilting blog today.  Laurie is one of my inspirations, and an icon in Canadian quilting.  Do check out the interview at:

Stay tuned for more blog give-aways, and I'll be posting some student work this week!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekend Blog Give Away: Fabric!!

The second blog give-away to celebrate my 10 years of teaching/selling hand-dyes and 5 years of doing so full-time will take place this weekend.  The prize is one meter of hand-dyed fabric, custom dyed just for you.  You tell me the colours you like and I'll create a piece just for you.

Please leave a comment by midnight EST on Sunday night.  I will draw a winner from the names of all those who post, and will announce the name on Monday morning.  Good luck!!

I'm a little tired of talking about me me me, so for something different, next week I will be posting student work.  If you've finished a project from a class you've taken with me, please send along pictures to be included.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Videos on U-Tube and Blog Winner

The winner of today's blog give-away is Lisa Quintana!  Stay tuned during the month of January for more give-aways.

As I mentioned earlier, I was interviewed for Blog Talk Radio today.  Part of the process was also shooting five U-Tube videos.  My cat Kissabelle joins me in the first one.

The videos can be accessed here:

Blog Giveaway: "Coaching the Artist Within"

I've stocked up on duplicates of some of my favorite books.  Today's celebratory blog give-away is a copy of Coaching the Artist Within by America's foremost Creativity Coach, Eric Maisel.

Says Maisel, "Have you ever wished you had a professional coach who could encourage your creative pursuits, help structure your efforts, and cheer you on?  ... Designed to help any person become more creative.  Coaching the Artist Within will teach you to be your own coach, and the results will transform your relationship with the creative process".

I am a big fan of Maisel's books, and I think this particular book is very suitable for both new artists and experienced artists.

The first person to leave a comment on my blog today will win this book.

For the next blog give-away we'll try a different method for choosing a winner (I will draw from everyone that leaves a post that day).

Also, today at 6:30 pm EST I will be interviewed in my studio by Liana Voia on Blog Talk Radio.  You can listen to the interview live or tune in afterward at this link: