Sunday, September 29, 2019

Basic Improv quilt Class

The Six Hour Quilt

My next online class is the six hour quilt.
This is the story of 3 people new to quilting, and designing and pattern free cutting out the quilt pieces from fabric..
We see them from the very first stages of coming up with a design, through to choosing colors - I let them use my stash since the class was held in my studio!!!  And Lord knows I have ENOUGH fabric!

Then, they designed.

They chose colors.

They ripped and cut away at fabric...pinning up pieces on the design wall to see what would work.

 They used my two old Bernina machines - one came from England with me when I emigrated  to the USA half a lifetime ago...

There are some good discussions as we evaluated design problems.  Then they basted the quilt sandwich, quilted - yes we talked about different ways to quilt ....and why.

Finally we applied a really simple but effective binding and enjoyed the finished pieces.

If  this looks like an interesting class to you  - please go to the academy of quilting!

I'm happy to answer any questions - just ask in the Comments section!
 I love Comments anyway!! so please !

And, if you have been, thanks for always...Elizabeth

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Creativity - the beginning

Creativity - the beginning....

Looking west over the Hudson River

 Many people are flummoxed when it comes to thinking about being creative ….
Numerous times I’ve been told at shows and workshops – oh you’re so lucky you have a talent!
Well…it aint luck!  I am lucky in that I’m tall…I didn’t have much to do with that!  And unlucky in that I have asthma…didn’t have much to do with that either!
But…in being creative? It’s a combination of awareness and persistence…with the help of some exercises as starting points.  Time plus good teachers.

Exercises? I hear you say! I hate exercising…well …I spent much of my life saying that exercise was bad for you…until I tried it…and then made myself aware of how I felt afterwards.
Yes it can certainly be tedious swimming up and down up and down looking at the concrete bottom of the pool with an occasional patch of algae – if I’m lucky! – for variation! But oh oh oh how you feel afterwards is great.  And the same is true with art exercises.  You do have to slog through quite a few, preferably without thinking too much, just going forward.  Then when you have a number of examples…at least a dozen.  Then you get to stand up, stretch, pin them up on the wall, make a cuppa of tea, and come back and look.  And you might be amazed!  And you WILL feel good!

So – when you look at the sketches on the wall, just what are you looking for?  Well actually that part is easy…have you ever been to a quilt show? Or an art show?  You know how some pieces just speak to you, just attract your eye with a combination of interest…intrigue and beauty? Well that’s what you’re looking for…only in a germinal version – in your preliminary sketches. 

What creates Interest and intrigue?  Something a little bit different, we are pretty much hard wired to spot things that are “different”…out of the ordinary,  unexpected, dynamic,  a sense of movement and energy.
Next time you go to a show – and I’m not talking about a museum show because by and large if the curators are any good and not just wowed by the Big Names’ leavings – which unfortunately you can sometimes come across…if they’re any good then everything is interesting and fresh and unique!  But in a regular quilt show, or an “amateur” art show, you can see a mix of work.  Much of it quite predictable.  And then a few stand out….so you walk around and come back to those pieces…and sometimes they remain with you…and sometimes they’re quite boring the second time around. And I'm sure you have done know that you  can assess what will interest, intrigue,  fascinate and satisfy. 

What is beauty? Generally accepted it’s something that’s harmonious.  We love harmony…yes with just a little bit of edge so it’s not “flat”!  but balanced, everything fitting together.  Harmony with nature is where we fit in with nature, harmony with others is where we get along with them well…harmony in music is not aberrant notes or faulty rhythms.....and so on.

The Exercises.
In many of my online classes there are lots of exercises, that’s the main way I devise a class…though once in a while I’ll write one that is more technique oriented.

But let me mention a few new ones that I’m just now trying out for myself and thinking about.
If I find them useful, I’ll put them together into a new online class.  So let me know what YOU think!!

Working from natural or accidental lines
Have you ever been intrigued by a pattern of cracks in the surface of a road?  Or the striations in a tree trunk., or the angles created in a pile of rocks…or even an arrangement of pillows on a coach…there are numerous accidental “compositions” like this to be found.
Da Vinci like to look at rocks and clouds…and use the main lines they created as a starting point for a composition.  A landscape…or a group of people.  
I myself like to watch the clouds and imagine that I’m up there…usually on beautiful empty golden beaches!!!
Another Italian painter di Cosimo…sketched the stains on the tavern walls and made those a starting point, the 11thcentury Chinese painter Sung Ti saw patterns in the damp stains on bamboo walls…Klee took ideas from the markings  and veinings on the marble tables.

Exercise with improv lines
You could start with clouds or rocks or a pattern of leaves against the sky…but you can also close your eyes and make random short marks on a piece of paper.  Not too many, and not too close together…and use your non dominant hand…maybe a dozen or so.  Then make several copies (preferably larger if you can)  of your “seeds” and begin to fill in …think about the marks as the contours of hills or mountains..or the outline of people or objects…alternate between abstract and realistic compositions.  Make a lot!   

I'm not going to show any examples because I don't want you to limit yourself to how I would do it....but next time you sit down to watch telly, or are in a waiting room...take a little notebook and a pencil and just jot down random short lines...or even one long connected line (the latter better done not looking!!)... and begin to develop a little stash of these "beginnings".  They're a bit like the first sentence of a novel:  remember: "It was a dark and stormy night on the west coast of Scotland..."  ???

Another way to do it would be to take some of the selvedges that you’ve ripped off your fabric, cut them into different lengths and drop them one by one from a height onto a piece of paper…take a photo of that…then print out several…and use those as a starting point.
Each piece of paper can be viewed in four different orientations…so keep turning your starting point around…don’t just stick with one way round.

The random lines are just the starting point...then later come back and see what you can create from them - is this a landscape?  or an abstract pattern?  What happens when I extend these lines to the outside edges of the paper? What does it look like if I double them? or join them together?  ...and also have an eraser handy...would it be better to omit this line...and so on.  Play with them for they are the building blocks of your final composition.


After you’ve got at least a dozen sketches based on the "beginning lines"  pin them up on the wall spaced apart, don’t really look at them!
Then walk away…get that cuppa tea!...take your time before you come back…then evaluate for unity/harmony….and for freshness/tension/energy.  
Which ones just stand out?  Like those special quilts or paintings at the show.
Keep them..discard the others.....or take your crop tools and look for "interesting details" never know there might just be a gem lurking within a larger piece!

So, if you have been, thanks for reading...and yes please do comment!!!  I promise I'll reply - after a nice cuppa tea of course!!  Elizabeth

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Quilt Class in Winterville, GA: Quilting the Modern Way

I've been teaching painting and helping  to teach aikido (don't panic, I'm not very good!) at a very nice community center in Winterville which is part of Athens, GA. And I've discovered
It's been such a pleasure to teach local classes with people coming back once a week and seeing their when they asked me to teach a quilting class, I thought it would really be a lot of fun and quite different from the major workshops at the big venues, or faraway guilds where I have taught up to now.
But I don't want to teach traditional quilting.
So I'm calling  the class: Quilting the Modern Way.
all very relaxed!!
No tedious measuring and precisions piecing, which (let's face it!) is often a teeny bit boring!! I want the students to be Bold and Free!  But they could also be quite calm and relaxed...above all have fun.

so these images are some of the possibilities........

I had a revolutionary idea!! instead of issuing a supply list and having people go and buy the wrong stuff, or unnecessary stuff - because the Clerk at JoAnns or Hancocks or wherever said they needed it, I'm going to discuss supplies in the first class.
So to the first class, students would only bring pencil and paper...easy!
then I can show them what they need, and we can talk about what kinds of fabric can be used, and how to beg, borrow and steal it!! well perhaps not "steal" exactly!! but....

And I'll also take in several quilts I've made and discuss just how I put them together and what my thoughts were.

 While most of my quilts have been made with hand dyed fabric...these quilt designs work perfectly well with commercial fabric too.... the quilt on the right has quite a few pieces of commercial fabric in it....
and even better with scraps of cotton clothing, old sheets, tablecloths....etc.

I also plan on printing out some of these pictures...and pinning them up around the room for the first class so students can choose what they would like  to do....

I think that will make for a fun first class!
 This one on the left, had a "cross" shape appliquéd over the top...I won't be teaching appliqué for this first class...but if I get keen students...then maybe we can do more with designs that require appliqué in a follow up class next year.

Quilting the Modern Way is eight classes:
once a week Friday mornings....
here are the dates:

September 20 and 27.  October 4,11,18.
 (I”m out of town on the 25th)
November 1,8,and 15.

It's in the morning...first three classes at 10.30, the rest are at 10 am.  and it lasts around 90 minutes.
The classes are $10 per the course is $80.
We're going to keep the class small, so that there will be a great deal of personal help and instruction from me.

The class would also make a great gift for a loved one.
Healthier than going out for dinner!

 The quilt on the left was quite large (around 60" square)...but it would be perfectly possible for someone to make something this big....or even bigger!
Students can make one quilt or many quilts...small, medium or large!
While most of the quilt above are square within a square designs...a kind of simple Log Cabin....students could  also make something like  one of these four designs....which are much more modern ...clean, simple and elegant.

That's the beauty of quilting, there's a "look" for everyone!!!
I do hope I have a nice full class, much more fun and laughter....if you're anywhere local to me (Athens, Ga) think about it!!!!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!!
and if you have any questions or comments...please do comment! Whether you're local or not!


Monday, September 2, 2019

Letting Go

The Cove

A student made the comment that it was hard for her to let go of "the rules" .....
....and yet to be creative, it's pretty much a requirement.
so how do you do that?

Perhaps, it should be done inadvertently!
If you think about it creativity is outside the rules, even though it may include some rules.

Accept that idea and then you can see that there is a place for creativity and you have the capacity to go there.

Once you know that's possible, then even though you might be following  the rules always in the back of your mind you could be looking for more interesting, exciting , more attractive, colorful..ways of expressing the same idea...
In the quilts on the left, I allowed the image to disintegrate to express the sense of the elements charging along outside of the safe place of the cove...I could have just shown the cove itself, but I wanted to convey the idea of "cove" being a safe place, therefore I wanted to show the danger....

Compare the piece above with the one below - which one is more exciting?
  Which one "breaks the rules" more?

Look at these three quilts all about homes in "green places"....which one is very prosaic, spelling out the shapes of houses and trees...which one merely suggests the idea and leaves you too figure out the answer?  Which do you like best???

Okay: here's my answer...I cut the first one up!!!!

so...tell me...what do you think about "breaking the rules" - is that a way to creativity? or just a way to chaos?  and how might you avoid chaos?  I'd love to hear from you.....

Next week, I'll do another blog on's such an interesting subjects....

And, if you have been, thanks for reading.  Elizabeth