I’m back home after spending two solid weeks focussing on nothing but teaching art quilts, in both real and virtual classes. No chores, no shopping, cooking, cleaning, watering, mowing, no tv, newspapers, internet surfing or blogging etc etc…so now I’ve a lot of catching up to do. I had hoped to work a little on some new pieces for myself, but found I wanted to stay strictly in teaching mode.
The real setting was Penland School of Craft, situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. This was the view from the studio early in the morning, three hours before class began, working on my online class, watching the mists gradually clear and the mountains come into view….
and later with the sun up fully…sadly I had thought it would be cool in the mountains!!! but no, those sizzling degrees were everywhere as many of you know.
The Penland class was a complete mix of experienced folk and those who had never made a quilt or dyed a yard of fabric before. While experience was somewhat evident in sewing skills, it was not evident in surface design success (all were brilliantly successful, we didn’t have a bum yard of fabric!), and not at all in design. Everyone, no matter the level of experience, worked through several design possibilities so that they could then choose the one (or more than one, one student made 5 pieces!) strongest design that best expressed their main theme.
We did gradations using low water immersion techniques with MX fibre reactive dyes on the first day – definitely gradations necessary with this landscape all around us! This was followed by a couple of days of sketching and designing. Then we went through 4 or 5 different shibori techniques..
…..Kathryn’s stitch resist stars came out beautifully and will be a feature in her stars over the mountains series: this is one of the nicest stitch resists I’ve ever seen…and will just make this little piece. While she was waiting for the dye to take, she whipped up a small piece on the same theme!
Jason, by contrast, worked on a series on long banners based on old circus posters…there were 4 in the final version, but there were too many people crowded around for me to get a decent shot. The pink gradations in both value (pale to dark)and temperature (cool pink to warm pink) set the theme. The pink is boldly accentuated by his use of the contrasting complementary yellowish green. The quilting will indicate the swoops of the aerialists across the big top! This four part piece will be about 7ft tall and 5ft wide – a stunner! The black is just the background fabric and will not be part of the final quilt, by the way.
Lynda worked on two pieces, this is the first one and was finished right down to the sleeve! Her theme was the Hong Kong waterfront skyline – she’s going to do a series – as all her sketches were so interesting and beautiful..nobody had a favorite one! Lynda dyed a beautiful neutral palette with gold accents for contrast. Many of the fabrics are the clamped and tied shibori we did on the 4th day and the fabrics are subtle and delicate and just make the piece.
Maria based her pieces on her Mexican background using images from the Day of the Dead/ Tree of Life and pinatas. Look at the beautiful gradation dyeing on the right which just sets off the bold pinata shapes.
On the 8th day we did some screen printing with dye – don’t you just love that skeleton?!!! Maria printed off several of these fellows to use in future pieces. I love her subtle use of gradation both of direction and value, together with bold complementary color schemes. Maria had never dyed fabric or made a quilt before – she’s now going to teach these skills at a center for disadvantaged students…I feel privileged to have helped her on her way. These were stunning pieces.
Abigail also worked on two pieces: the lady on the left doesn’t appear to have a very strong voice! This was Abigail’s first piece, but then in the second one, the woman in the house (on the right) has real Attitude! I really love this piece, it has so much originality, personality and strength. Abigail was meticulous in making samples when she wasn’t sure of how a certain element should be made. We discussed all the ways that she could embroider pubic hair and now she now has a little notebook of samples! They should be a very interesting tiny little quilt one day!! Abby dyed a gradation of greys from white to black for a bold graphic look to the house, then inserted just a few pinks and reds…which lead us through the quilt.
And this was only half the class! In my next post I’ll show the other six folks’ work..I’m only halfway round the studio at this point. After so much stimulation (at the same time as the above I was spending several hours each day viewing some amazing designs online in my Quilt University class), I feel both inspired and intimidated! I’m going to give myself a couple of days to recoup before I face my own design wall!
And, If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth