An “Ode To Matisse” Quilt

An “Ode To Matisse” Quilt

Last fall I decided to design my own bed-sized quilt.  I wanted a quilt that would remind me of spring and summer, that was colorful and had big organic shapes that inspired cheerfulness.  This was before the election and though there were many things being said that were ominous  – calls for great walls to be built, mass deportations being touted as campaign “promises”, comments about bringing back the “good old days”, leading many of us to wonder to whom those “good old days” applied, (obviously not women, minorities, and anyone who didn’t conform to traditional gender roles and relationships) all this from a man dogged by bankruptcy, lawsuits, accusations of fraud and sexual misconduct, a man who bragged about assaulting women, not paying his taxes, and encouraged his supporters to physically assault those who voiced opposition to him – still, it seemed there was room for optimism, and, if nothing else, the elections hadn’t taken place yet.  Those months and weeks before the election now feel like the “good old days”.

So in the midst of all that, I decided to design my own quilt and was inspired by the shapes in a fabric covering a chair and couch my husband used to have in his office at his advertising agency, that now occupies the western portion of our bedroom.


Couch in our bedroom

I wrote about this quilt, that I began designing and intended to make, just after I’d chosen all the fabrics for it.  I discussed the process of taking a sketch and translating it into an actual quilt.  That post is ‘here‘.

Matisse reminds me of the playfulness that can be a part of life if we allow it in and the shapes he created make me smile.  The colors he frequently used tended toward bright, primary colors, and I decided to stay close to those as well.  It took ages to figure out where everything would go, what fabrics to use, how to fit everything in to the size quilt I knew I wanted.  The quilt kept getting bigger, and even though it is intended for a twin bed, I wanted it to be long enough that I could tuck it under and over pillows. I really wanted it to be the size of a bedspread.

And then the elections took place and I threw myself furiously into escaping what was now to become our collective reality learning how to dye my own fabrics.  I took several classes at the Academy of Quilting taught by the extremely,  talented, artist Elizabeth Barton.  Between learning to dye, which I love, love, LOVE, playing with colors, and sporadically working on my “Ode to Matisse” quilt I managed to avoid getting too depressed by the events and endless drama that has now become commonplace with this new administration.  Still, I knew I’d have to make a concerted effort to concentrate on my Matisse quilt if I was ever going to finish it.  So about a month ago I began working on it daily.  The free motion quilting, which I’m very new to, was challenging and I ran into lots of tension issues, but then went back to one of the dozens of Craftsy classes I have enrolled in and was reminded not to be afraid to turn the tension down as far as needed in order to get the threads to behave with each other, no matter how imbalanced that relationship might seem.  Read whatever you like into THAT statement, but it did seem ironic given who now occupies our White House.

There are many wonderful free motion quilting classes on Craftsy, but the two I particularly love are Free Motion Quilting Essentials taught by Christina Carneli, her blog is A Few Scraps and Divide and Conquer: Creative Quilting for any Space taught by Lori Kennedy, who also has a blog, Inbox Jaunt.  They are both wonderful.  Christina also teaches several other free motion quilting classes for those who are more experienced.  But for me, starting out with her class was perfect and just what I needed to attempt this:  img_0102

and this:img_0093 and this…img_0100 And this…img_0099

From Lori’s class I began with doodles of things I saw others doing and then took it to the quilt.  Patterns like this…img_0097and this…img_0089and this…img_0090With each block, I tried a different free motion quilting pattern that I thought complimented the shape in the block.  I know many feel the shapes themselves should also be quilted and I may have to go back and quilt the larger shapes, but I wanted them to pop, so decided to leave them alone.  Once all the blocks were quilted I agonized over the binding.  Eventually I opted for the darkest background beige fabric I had used.  I cut it on the bias, pieced it together and then following the instructions in Mimi Dietrich’s book, Happy Endings   I bound the whole quilt with mitered corners.  I added a label and voila!ode-to-matisse

And here’s a shot of the labelLabel.jpgOTM_Back.jpg

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as finishing such a mammoth project, except of course writing about it while it is draped over your lap!

I forgot to include the contents of this quilt on the label.  They are:  100% cotton fabric, Wool Batting, Cotton thread.

Next up – my Block of the Month quilt that I’m currently designing and working on, inspired by the fabulous Sue Spargo, who is to blame for my current obsession with all things fabric, quilted, embroidered, embellished, etc.

An “Ode To Matisse” Quilt

Fabric Painting & the Fun Begins!

Fabric painting was something I knew nothing about before taking Elizabeth Barton‘s online class Dyeing to Design at the Academy of Quilting.  Fabric painting is the process of combining fabric dye with a thickener so it can be used to paint fabric, just as one would paint on a canvas.  Think about that.  The possibilities are endless!!  As we had been silk screening the week before, I used a couple of my silk screened fabrics and painted on them and then decided to branch out and paint on a blank white piece of cloth.  Here are some of my doodles.

As you can see I had fun!  I also painted the fabric in the photograph below, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what to do with any of it.  While painting the fabric in this photo below I was thinking about how we are all moving along in our lives, sometimes following, at other times leading, sometimes crossing paths with others, but can often feel we are alone even though we live in a world populated by so many.  Still, if we can just remember to reach out to others, we find our experiences are shared by many.  Should I have just written all that in the first person singular?  But then I might have felt that alone feeling again… Anyway, I sat with these various fabrics and did nothing for several days.

a-rippleThen, having given up on the idea that I was going to be miraculously hit with a blast of inspiration, I cut up the fabric (just a little, nothing radical) and sewed it back together (photo below.)  And then I sent it off to my class for feedback, that’s the whole reaching out thing that I mentioned above…  Elizabeth is an excellent teacher and can be depended upon to make terrific suggestions. 5abstractWhich led to this…5abstract1And this…5abstract2And this…5abstract4

And finally, finally, finally… this…5abstract6Which became this…  traveling along our various paths…5togetherAnd finally, this…  reaching out to others and no longer feeling so alone…lesson5front-copyHere are a few close ups of the machine and hand stitching…


And this is the back.lesson5back-copy

Traveling Together measures 21.75″ x 21.75″  All the fabric was hand painted and hand dyed. Then quilted using a cotton batting and kona cotton back.  I did the hand stitching using a perle cotton thread as well as a wool thread. The binding was hand dyed and sewn on, as was the label.

I still have not figured out what to do with my various silk screens, but I just finished painting over a few of them and plan to over dye a couple of others, so will see what the results are after that.  In the meantime I painted a few more half yard pieces of fabric and am eager to see how they turn out.

Elizabeth’s Dyeing to Design class is over, but she’ll be teaching it again in the spring, I believe.  I cannot recommend it more highly.

An “Ode To Matisse” Quilt

Designing & Quilting To Cope

After I finished the QFM – Quilt For Mom – I felt at a loss.  It’s the same feeling I experience after finishing a wonderful book.  Elated, but also sad it’s over and wondering what’s next.  I knew I wanted to design my own quilt, but am still so new to this form and didn’t want to be too ambitious.  Things were in limbo.

My life is busy, I homeschool our daughter, as well as, like and need to, spend time with my eldest and then of course there’s FH (fabulous husband) and did I mention I have my own business?  All of this means I have a full, albeit hectic, and at times, overwhelming life, and I desperately need time to design and create without worrying about how to promote it, the cost basis, manufacturing, orders, etc.  When I don’t have the time or when other things make it impossible, I feel off, am more easily stressed, saddened and even depressed by things that happen in the world and in my life.  I worry more.  I feel more sensitive, raw and fragile.  These same things don’t have as devastating an impact on me when I carve out time for my artistic pursuits.  Because of all this, I knew I had to start a new project, and given all that is happening in the world and my life right now, the sooner, the better!

Out came my sketch book.  I began doodling.  From those doodles I found a few shapes I kept coming back to and slowly a design came into focus.

This is my Ode To Matisse.


The Sketch

After I finished the first sketch, I photocopied it several times and began mapping out the measurements.  I knew the sketch was going to be skewed and out of proportion because I wanted the quilt to end up being 80″ by 105″, which is big enough to drape down on either side of a twin sized bed or even skimpily cover a queen sized bed and long enough to allow for folding over pillows.  This will be the quilt I take with me to my retreat at Quilting by the Lake next summer where we stay in air-conditioned (last summer I was FREEZING) dorm rooms, which have twin-sized beds!

I needed to figure out how I was going to block it, in other words how I would divide it up as I envisioned several different background fabrics, all beiges.  With colored pencils I marked out my blocks, with approximate measurements and numbered the blocks.


Blocking out the Sketch

I then went to my stash and began pulling background fabrics.  After a trip to the fabric store, I decided on eight different fabrics, all beiges/cream of some kind.


Placing the Background Fabrics

Next up was working out the colors for the shapes.  This process took over the floor of our bedroom for a couple days.  I wanted bright, cheerful colors, that reminded me of spring and summer and I wanted them to stay close to the colors Matisse used when he created these kinds of organic shapes.


Deciding on Fabric for the shapes

Finally I was ready to cut out the shapes, using freezer paper first to lay them out, tweak when necessary and rearrange if needed.  This is what I came up with…  Still not convinced  the three round shapes in the lower portion of the quilt are working as well as they could. I might need to move them all the way over to the left side and take the shapes on the left and put them to the right end of that block or maybe reduce the size of the skinny large circle on the left and make the flower shape at the edge larger…


Freezer Paper Matisse

Even though I have a few reservations with the design, I’m going ahead with it and will see how I feel as I go.  I’m also not sure if I will add other fabrics and hand stitching as I did with the QFM or if I’ll just appliqué and then free motion quilt this one, giving it the versatility to be thrown in a washing machine and dryer, unlike the QFM, which must be dry cleaned because of all the beading, wool, velvet and hand stitching I did.  Also I need this quilt to be finished no later than July, so I’ll see what I end up having time for.


An Ode To Matisse

I’ve started on the bottom block and am almost finished appliquéing all the shapes down.  bottom-block

I would have gotten more done by now, but got a little way laid as I also signed up for a five week online class with the talented artist Elizabeth Barton at Academy of Quilting.  We are supposed to produce a  small quilt each week. Yikes!!! More on that later…

A Simple Doodle… To This…

A Simple Doodle… To This…

Pencil Sketches

Pencil Sketches

Ariane Zurcher Jewelry ~ Samadhi Collection:  18 Kt Brushed Gold & .49 ct VSII Diamond Pendant, 18 Kt Gold Chain & Clasp

Often an idea comes in the form of a doodle, literally!  Which is why having a sketch book around is so important.  Doodles are like little dreams… they seem to come out of nowhere and if I’m lucky I catch them as they appear.  Not all sketches are pretty, sometimes I’m in the subway or on my way somewhere and so pretty isn’t the goal.  Capturing the idea, the image and getting it down so I won’t forget it, is.  So something that begins as this….

Silver Models for Earrings

Silver Models for Earrings

Turns into this… silver models for what will eventually become 18 Kt Gold earrings.

From the model a silicone mold is made… like this one…

Silicone mold made from silver model

Silicone mold made from silver model

Silicone Mold Library

Silicone Mold Library

I have a great many molds…

Ariane Zurcher Jewelry - 18 Kt Brushed Gold Earrings With Removeable 18 Kt Gold & Diamond Attachments

Ariane Zurcher Jewelry – 18 Kt Brushed Gold Earrings With Removeable 18 Kt Gold & Diamond Attachments

Ariane Zurcher Jewelry - 18 Kt Brushed Gold Earrings With Removable 18 Kt Gold & Red Spinel Attachments

Ariane Zurcher Jewelry – 18 Kt Brushed Gold Earrings With Removable 18 Kt Gold & Red Spinel Attachments

This particular mold will produce what will eventually become these…