ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Poppy Passion and the brief life of a fabric line

It has been an interesting year being a Northcott Fabric Designer. I have learned a great deal! It was a year of planning and work that lead up to the release of "Falling Leaves" in September. Much to my surprise, about 8 weeks after release, the fabric line is now sold out at the Canadian warehouse, with a little of the autumn line remaining in the American warehouse.  What does it mean when a fabric line is sold out? Well fabric companies typically take orders before the fabric is even available, and then they decide how many yards to print based on the number of orders received. Orders are made at Fall Quilt Market in Houston or Spring Quilt Market, which tends to move around. At Market, shops in the retail business can go to see and order all the new wares, and they are able to view a limited quantity of fabric (they call these first prints "strike offs"). In addition, sales reps travel to shops around the country showing displays of upcoming lines of fabric. Based on all the orders at a certain date, the company decides how many yards to print.

So has it been worth it?  Yes, it has been more worth it than I expected. Originally I was under the impression that only 1000 yards of each of the 30 fabrics in the line would be printed, but based on the orders that came in, Northcott ended up printing 2,000 to 3,000 yards of each fabric in the line. I have also found that having a fabric line has lead to an increased flurry of teaching and speaking invitations. So in a way ou could say that I'm the flavour of the month, for I know the flurry will pass and then it will be someone else's turn. After 8 weeks of being available, even I cannot purchase any more of my fabric line from Northcott. I would have to go to a store that still has some of the fabric available and pay retail price. Somewhere in my little brain I expected that I would always, at least for quite some time down the road, be able to order more of my fabric line if I wanted to.  Not so, as there has been a good run and no more will be printed.  In that vein, let me introduce you to each player in my new and upcoming Poppy Passion line, due to be released in April 2015.

Poppy Passion comes in two colour ways. Each of the two colour ways contains 15 different fabrics: a major poppy panel, two ombre fabrics running from dark to light and back to dark, a stripe, two poppy prints, a pixelated print, and 8 single colours that coordinate with the line. All of them feature that mottled hand-dyed look since they are inspired by my hand-dyed fabrics. You will also notice that this line features MY poppies, and so I feel very much that this line really does look like Elaine Quehl. In the centre of the panel you will find the very same poppy that is featured in my "Kissing Joy" quilt.
Kissing Joy, 2009

This first colourway is called "Purple Passion", and is in every way inspired by the quilt above, as well as some of my sketches and photographs.

The second colourway is called "Coral Bliss.  It features the very same poppies as above, but in an alternate colourway.  I'm loving these softer shades.

Finally, here is the beginner pattern I designed to go with the fabric line.  It is a very simplified version of the poppy featured in my "Kissing Joy" quilt. I have simplified it so it can be managed be a beginner. And that is the goal that Northcott presented to me when they approached me about collaborating on a fabric line: that beginners and beyond could make something fast and easy that had a similar look to my work that had taken a great number of hours.

Seems to me that I move a lot slower than a fabric company.  I had planned to have a shopping cart on my website for ordering patterns by the end of November. Little did I know that the flurry of requests for my "Falling Leaves" pattern would trickle out by November, due to fabric in the warehouse being sold out. We did sell more patterns than I expected ... I really did not know what to expect as I'm new at this. For my next line, I'll need to have that shopping cart working from Day 1!

So if you were hoping to get some of my first line of fabric, I'd advise you to get to a store that carries it ASAP. Once it is gone, it is gone!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Around The World Blog Hop

I've been invited to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by California fiber artist and printmaker Martha Wolfe. Martha's work has been in numerous SAQA exhibitions and other juried shows, and it first caught my eye because of her love of nature and the great outdoors. Martha's work is representational and largely based on value contrasts to bring it to life and give it depth. While I tend to focus on botanicals in my nature work, Martha has created many wonderful works featuring animals. Do go to her website and check out her fantastic cow quilt!!! I had the opportunity to meet Martha in Houston in 2012, when we were both volunteering at the SAQA booth, and then at the SAQA Conference in Santa Fe in 2013.

For this blog hop, each participantof is encouraged to talk about what we are working on, how our work differs from others of its genre, why we do what we do, and how does our process work.

The inspiration for my work comes from the natural world and usually my own photographs. My artistic process is described in great depth in my interview in the June/July issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.  I am best known for my botanical-themed quilts, particularly hosta foliage. I'd like to start by sharing some great news: I just sold a major work!  "Standing Ovation" (photo below) went to a good home in my own city where it will form the focal point in the newly-redecorated bedroom of a hosta loving couple :-) It's a great example of the kind of work I have been doing over the last several years. It basically boils down to a study of light and shade, curve and line.

A major project I've been involved in this past year is designing fabric for Northcott. In fact, it appears that I am the "Featured Designer" on the Northcott web site at the moment. My first fabric line, Falling Leaves, was released in September. My second line, Poppy Passion, will be available in April 2014. I'm sharing just a couple of photos here of the new line. You can view the entire line at this link.

Poppy Passion comes in two colour ways. This is the panel for the purple colour way.

The second colourway features corals.

As an artist, I don't typically work with panels, but I am pretty excited about these because they look so much like "me". They feature images that were created using my sketches and photos, and the main poppy featured is inspired by my quilt "Kissing Joy". You can see it here

I've also been keeping a busy teaching schedule this year, so am fitting in smaller projects in between. Here is one I experimented with recently.  Having tried dyeing fat quarters in small drawer trays with pretty good results, I wanted to find a pan that would allow me to dye a full meter, either scrunched along the length of the pan or accordion folded in the pan. I settled on some evestroughs from Home Depot, with end caps caulked on each end. It worked and there was no leakage!

This is the result for the scrunched fabric. I poured bands of colour on starting with yellow, then blue, then scarlett, then back to yellow. Wherever two colours meet you get a secondary colour. However, I think next time I will add less dye. Because of the pudding of excess dye (where all 3 primary colours mixed) I ended up with a bit of mud.

I quite like the top section though!

I also tried accordion folding a piece of fabric and pressing with an iron. 

You can see this one batching in the lower container in this photo.

I poured 3 colours of dye on this fabric, one colour along each long end, and then another colour in the middle. I then pressed with a gloved hand to work the dyes through the fabric. I'm pretty pleased with this one. I used various blues and aquamarine so there isn't much contrast, but a lot of patterning results from the folding.

I've also been working on dyeing a palette of Mediterranean colours, inspired by a trip to Greece in September. If you wonder why I've chosen the colours I have, it will be pretty obvious if you visit my blog posts on Greece.

Here are all the fabrics batching in my dyeing dungeon, aka laundry area of my basement.

The results are here. Now, you might ask, what am I going to do with them? Not sure yet, but it was one of those things I just had to do, and it fit easily into a couple of days between teaching and other business commitments.

I'm now happy to pass the torch to two other artists that are participating in this blog hop.

Frieda Anderson
Frieda is a quilt artist, dyer, teacher, and author from Elgin, Illinois. You can visit her blog at 
I've known of Frieda's work for a very long time and own one of her books. Her work features many whimsical botanical and woodland quilts inspired by walks in the woods near her home. They feature her luscious hand-dyed fabrics, often silk. Because she works on the theme of nature, Frieda is a fellow member of my Crossing Oceans international exhibition group.

Elena Stokes is a full-time studio artist from west New Jersey.

You can visit her blog at: http://elenastokes.com/blog/
I know of Elena's work from many SAQA shows, and had the pleasure of meeting her in Houston in 2012.
Elena creates abstract and impressionistic works that are suggestive of the landscape. It is exciting to see her career growing with so many recent successes, including acceptance into Quilt National 2015.

Please take the time to visit Frieda and Elena's blogs and learn more about their work and their process and keep travelling around the world with the blog hop. To see where the blog hop has already travelled, travel backwards from Martha's blog, above, or a simple google search of "Around the World Blog Hop" will reveal hundreds of creative participants.