Journey into the Brain of an Art Quilter

Hornet's NestI am fortunate to live on a beautiful small lake in the Adirondacks.  One of my favorite pastimes is kayaking.   There is nothing quite as soothing to a frenzied mind as the almost effortless cruising over the water in a kayak.  One gets a much more intimate connection with the lake and its surroundings while sitting at water level traveling at whatever speed one chooses.

A couple of weeks ago I went down to the lake for a little R & R.  It was a beautiful day with the lake as smooth as glass.  Perfect, except for the fact that my kayak was tied to a low lying maple tree which had suddenly “grown” a huge, watermelon sized hornet’s nest.  Masterfully constructed around the  branch which held my kayak’s tether, there was no way I could retrieve my vessel without suffering the wrath of an army of angry hornets.  No kayaking today.

Though dismayed and disappointed, as an artist I was intrigued by the construction of this exceptionally beautiful sphere.  Getting as close as I dared, my brain went into overdrive. The intricately “woven” surface was a wonder to behold!  What extraordinary raw materials for an art project!

Exactly WHEN would these wildly buzzing creatures abandon this dwelling?    As an “outside the box” art quilter, I can’t wait to turn this wondrous “thing” into an art quilt. How sturdy is it? Can it be sliced?  Can it be fused or sewn? The HOW and the WHAT IFs are keeping me awake nights.

Should I be successful in eventually retrieving this true work of art, I’ll share the results of my adventure in future posts. Does anyone have an extra Epi-pen they’d like to contribute to the cause?



Inch by Inch, Row by Row

Monochrome with Color


As I was sewing this latest piece, Monochrome with Color, the words of every quilt judge I have ever been within earshot of, rang through my head.  “Straight lines must be straight.”

With ruler in hand every step of the way, I measured, pinned and sewed.  Knowing of the unpredictability of fabric to remain absolutely square and accurate, especially the slippery gray satin,  I paper-pieced the entire quilt using 1 inch graph paper as my foundation.  Time consuming?  Yes.  Accurate?  Yes.  Perfect? No, but neither is life.

The letters were attached by hand with clear  mono-filament thread to complete the piece which will be part of a challenge entitled “black/white/gray with a touch of color.”

One good side effect of all this sewing straight lines to absolute perfection is an end to my procrastination.  I finally called my eye doctor and had a long overdue eye examination.  New glasses are in order.

My next project will be something  loose and free and swirling with nary a straight line in sight.

Op Art Revisited


Fall is upon us and it’s time to buckle down and get those “only in my head” projects out of my head and onto my wall. Sorry, kid, but the lazy days of summer are over.

 My art quilt group had decided that our latest challenge would be “Black, White, Grey and a Touch of Color.” I immediately thought about the very graphic Op Art of the 1960’s, a favorite of mine.  Design decision made.

This Op Art inspired piece came together pretty quickly once I put pencil to my trusty graph paper and designed the four optical illusion blocks which make up the finished piece.

I paper-pieced each section using graph paper as my foundation so as to get  exact 1/2″ wide stripes.  Once I had the sections completed, it was time to pin, pin, pin all of those intersections and sew as near-perfect as I could manage.  Because I’m so anal, I also did a lot of ripping until I was satisfied with the overall appearance.  Unfortunately, “close enough” is never good enough to my eye.

Another unanticipated problem is the dizzying effect Op Art has on the eyes.  Yes, these four blocks are perfectly square even though they look wonky.

Once the piecing of the blocks was complete, the fun began anew with the binding.  I decided the only option I would be happy with was to change the color of the binding as necessary as I bound each side of the blocks.

The red connecting pieces were once part of a bamboo place mat.  After disassembling the place mat, I spray painted the pieces and attached them across and down the center of the piece to connect all four blocks together. This proved to be the most difficult part of the project, an all too common side effect of working way outside the box.

With fingers crossed, I hung my version of Op Art entitled “Illusions”, stepped back and smiled.  I like this one in spite of its nausea inducing effect.  Now, on to the next challenge…..Adirondack Flora and Fauna.  First, I have to do a Google search to see what the heck fauna means.