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Archive for the ‘design’ Category

As an artist, you have to be proactive about getting your work out there in the world. Since I belong to a quilt guild, I can count on being able to enter my work in the triennial show we put on. And as a member of a group of fibre artists in my community, I find it’s a struggle to find a suitable venue for our annual group show. But in June, I learned about an unusual call for proposals for art to be hung at a new health and community services centre being planned for the neighbourhood.

When it opens in 2019, the Oakwood-Vaughan Health Clinic will offer “a range of services with a focus on community members who face barriers to health care such as people living in poverty, isolated seniors, non-insured, people with complex mental health issues, those requiring interpretation and living with unstable employment.”

Artists in the surrounding community were encouraged to submit proposals for artwork that will be displayed in the programming space, clinic offices and foyer of the new centre. Themes could focus on community, health and youth, as well as the cultural history of the area. “We hope to promote the creativity that allows all to express and trust themselves. We want artists to show a spirit of inquiry and exploration through their art pieces.

Of course I was thrilled when my proposal was one of the 25 accepted. They called us all together for a “meet and greet” session on July 31. The organizers explained timelines and next steps and also issued $150 honorariums to each of the selected artists.

I had done a great deal of pondering and planning up to this point, but now that I had the green light, it was time to move on to the construction phase!

My concept for this piece is to evoke the new health centre’s intent to reach out to the community.

Here’s my artist statement:

“The arm is not one colour. It is not white, black, beige or brown, but in keeping with the multi-cultural diversity of the Oakwood Vaughan community, and indeed Toronto as a whole, it represents all skin colours. Our skin colour is immaterial. We are all part of this community … we help each other.

From my own collection of pressed leaves, I selected five different species of oak leaves and used their shapes to create fabric ones that “sprout” out of each finger and thumb. This represents healthy growth and renewal, while also supporting the importance of diversity.

Reaching out for strength within. 33″ w x 20″ h

The tree trunk, from which the arm is protruding, portrays the strength, not only of the mighty oak tree, but of our community, when we work in unison.”

picture of health centre exterior with Janet in foreground with her bike

Delivering the artwork

I delivered my completed piece in October, and on November 15, a “sneak peek” event was held to view all the submissions. What an impressive range of artwork has been gathered from community artists!

On October 22, a jury will announce their decision on the top three artworks that will receive significant cash prizes. But I feel that it is rewarding enough to be able to create what I hope is an uplifting piece of art that will be discovered by both staff and visitors at this valuable new centre.

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I was drawn to this fabric design – Fox Nap, from the Chipper line designed by Tula Pink for Free Spirit – despite the fact that the colour scheme contained not even a hint of purple! The serene mood captured by the designer focuses on a calm, relaxed (and let’s face it, very cute) single fox curled up amongst flowers, having a snooze. I bought a fat quarter (18” x 22”).

As often happens, I added it to my “recent acquisitions” stash when I got home and forgot about it for a while, occasionally pulling it out and fondling it with a wide grin on my face. Isn’t it just enough to have it, let alone use it?fabrics piled up

A few months later, the day came when I was ready to start a new project. Yes, it was time to root through my vast collection and extract some fabrics to not only accompany the foxes but to showcase them.

I still couldn’t bring myself to actually cut into the fabric.

Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to cut through the foxes, I cruised the Internet for inspiration to utilize “focus fabrics”. I blocks of fabric cut to 4" x 6"didn’t find an actual pattern, but since I determined that each fox could be easily fit into a 4.5“ x 6” rectangle, I got the idea to add interest by placing the blocks on a slight angle.

I was aiming for a contemporary look, so to help achieve that objective, the background was going to be grey/white.

It was satisfying to discover fabrics in my decades-spanning stash that complemented such a fresh new (2016) fabric.

fox quilt

I’m happy with the result (it measures 29.5” h x 34” w), and no foxes were slashed during the process – heck, they didn’t even rouse from their naps!

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Unless you are a self-avowed curmudgen, you can’t help but admire these birds, and because I happen to have a free pass to one of their breeding grounds (Sauble Beach on Lake Huron), it was love at first sight for me.

Source: Why the Piping Plover is the ultimate emblem for World Shorebirds Day

Loving something, and then adapting it into a piece of textile art is another thing! But it’s a challenge that I welcome.

I used my own photographs of the plovers at the beach for guidance, and found fabrics that would convey the elements of the plovers’ habitat (lake, shoreline, beach grasses). The background is pieced, and the bird is machine appliqéd on top. You can see that I used a piece of driftwood as the hanging device.

I donated this piece to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory‘s silent auction fundraiser that year (2007).

If you’d like more information about the Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach, visit this website: http://ploverlovers.com/.

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I’m posting this image for WIP Wednesday! It’s a small piece (20″ x 30″) that I am calling “Fifty Shades of Purple”. The 5.5″ block is string-pieced from scraps. Inspiration and instructions came from a book borrowed from the public library: “A Modern Twist” by Natalie Barnes.

purple quilt top

50 Shades of Purple

I am on a perpetual mission, as I am sure many quilters are, to use up fabric scraps. Unfortunately, this project barely made a dent in my scrap stash. But a girl can try, right?

As I was putting this together, I realized that I may finally be overcoming my obsession with the colour purple. The modern or contemporary quilt aesthetic has infiltrated my consciousness, and there are so many fresh colours to play with. Just wait till you see the next piece I am working on – no purple at all!

 

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red and white cotton fabrics

Ever since June, when I learned about the 2017 Challenge for next summer’s Quilts at the Creek, I’ve been pondering what to make. The theme for the show is Canada’s 150th birthday, and Northcott has generously donated a whack of red and white fabric to get things started off.

There’s no question – I want to create a special quilt, but making a decision on the design approach is holding me back!

My head is swimming with ideas! How will I be able to settle on just one … the right one? It has to be a design that I will a) enjoy working on for many months, b) allow me to use coordinating fabrics from my stash, and c) be symbolic in its own way to represent my Canadian experience (having lived in Canada all my life).

Shall I go modern or traditional? Or somewhere in between?

Lots of ideas here:

http://quiltinspiration.blogspot.ca/2011/10/free-pattern-day-red-and-white-quilts.html

And of course on Pinterest (e.g., https://www.pinterest.com/cjshanny/red-and-white-quilts/).

logo for Canada's 150th birthday

And check out the winning sesquicentennial logo design. Could be adapted to quilt piecing, don’t you think?

Stay tuned …

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The natural world has it all: colours, patterns, designs, shapes, repeats. I am convinced that even if something doesn’t enter your consciousness the moment you encounter it, your psyche still has a chance to tuck it away for later reference. I often use my camera (rather than my mind’s eye) to capture a pattern or colour combination that attracts my attention.

water currents - light and shadow patterns

water currents – light and shadow patterns

pattern in tree bark

subtle colour and pattern of tree bark

an intricate design on the underside of the butterfly wing

an intricate design on the underside of the butterfly’s wing

circular pattern - a spiral in the centre of the flower

a spiral pattern in the centre of a sunflower

 

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Do you find it difficult to settle down to just one project? Even when I have launched myself into a project, I sometimes find it hard to make decisions. If you’ve ever delved into the world of half-square triangles, you might have an inkling of what I mean.

There are countless ways of arranging them! Check out this flickr group .

I rarely buy charm packs, but fell in love with the Simple Marks line by Malka Dubrowsky (for Moda) when I discovered it. Half-square triangles seemed to be the perfect way to use the 42 five-inch squares in the pack. In my stash, I found that I had a sizable piece of a neutral fabric (Countertop Texture –  Michael Miller Fabrics) that coordinated perfectly as the light half of the triangles.IMG_5083

Making the HSTs was easy, and playing with the infinite possibilities of the arrangements on my design wall was so much fun!

Instead of trying to decide which pattern was “the best” I finally ended up, after a few weeks of play, just deciding which appealed to my sense of having a little extra “oomph”. Then I settled down to sewing them together.IMG_8456

Here’s the WIP (work in progress). I am still contemplating whether to add a border (comments welcome!)

Over the same few months, I have also been distracted by this year’s guild challenge “Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. The entries aren’t due until May, but I would rather avoid entering “panic mode” so I spent some time figuring out a way of using all six of the required ugly fabrics in an original design, and it’s partially done.

Next I was lead astray by a casual conversation with a bunch of quilting friends, reminiscing about corking when we were kids. Corking, you say? It’s also known as spool knitting or French knitting. I had purchased a wooden corking “device” a while back at a craft fair, so I hauled it out and, after a brief consultation on the Internet on how to get started, I was off and running! It’s quite addictive.

Other distractions have included jaunts in local ravines and fields hunting for snowy owls (they’ve been sighted quite often this winter), a lengthy search for a new yoga studio (which was finally successful) and the black hole that is Pinterest. It sucks you in and the next thing you know, several hours have passed!

My conclusion is: distractions can be fun AND frustrating. They’re part of being human.

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