Friday, September 28, 2012

Garden of the Sun God-or-Harry the Heron comes back

Harry the Heron has been fabricated and fused onto baking parchment.
Needing to concentrate on the heron, I removed the papyrus and coneflowers that had been floating on the background. Doesn't he look great standing in front of his new home?  This is such an exciting part of the design process when everything is flowing well.

I wanted to make the coneflowers, one of my favorite images to use in quilts; look Egyptian.  So I drew them to fit in a diamond shape to become more angular.

A left-over Egyptian coneflower.
 I cut out more coneflowers than I needed, but that always leaves some to use for embroidery practice. If you look at my quilt Scraps of a Different Color you will see an extra one that has been inserted into a collage.  By doing this, I learned how I didn't want to embroider the flower in my Sun God quilt!  If you look at the close up images you will see how it was embroidered. Allowing yourself to play with your images and experiment with ideas is important because it helps you make better decisions when it comes to your more important work.
Here is Harry now standing among the papyrus and coneflowers.
The coneflowers have been pinned in place, with long graceful curving stems and a few green leaves to anchor the plant.  The papyrus are back in position, with a warm brown fabric that was eventually used for the stems. Things are looking good.

Why is Harry still pressed on baking parchment?  Because at this point in the design phase I want to be free to move the all elements around until I am completely sure everything is in the right spot. His beak, feathers and legs are too long and narrow to be able to shift around; so he stayed on paper until it was time to fuse everything on permanently.

Tune in next time, to see if Harry gets glued on!

Ann Fahl

Friday, September 21, 2012

Garden of the Sun God part 2

So here is the unveiling of the border.  I did struggle with possible ideas. At times of indecision like this, I will look back over my earlier quilts for ideas.  If nothing comes to mind, look through the books and magazines I have saved over the years.

For this quilt I finally decided to add an irregularly pieced border, including as many rich red fabrics as I had in my stash.
3 border strips pinned up around the edges.
Then comes the question of what to do with the corners.  Do I use a square in each or do I just continue with the strips?  Hmmmm, I liked the idea of light turquoise in the upper corners to carry out the feeling of "sky." But what do I do for the 2 corners on the lower border?
Borders are attached, the background is complete.
So I compromised.  Two turquoise at the top and I carried the pieced border all the way across the bottom to create a firm foundation for my design elements. If you look closely you will see that the bottom border is actually a little wider than the 2 sides and top.  This is a technique that I always teach in my workshops. When a quilt is meant to hang in one direction such as a landscape or pictorial quilt, make the lower border a little wider.  It isn't obvious, but it adds "visual" weight to the quilt, its purpose is to create a base for the entire composition. This little trick works well. 

The important elements pinned in place.
OK, so you aren't impressed.  But I was pleased at this point in the progression of the design.  I loved my Eqyptian style coneflowers, and the blue and green heads of the papyrus.  To you as the viewer, all the little images are just floating on the background.  But to me, everything seemed to pull together when the drawing of the bird was pinned up. I did have a few moments of indecision, because my original plan was to include 2 or 3 birds in the center. But the birds would have been sized too small to have a family of them in the picture.  As it worked out, I gave up on that idea and included just one much larger bird. It makes a stronger statement this way.

What will happen to Harry the Heron?  More info in my next blog.

Ann Fahl

Friday, September 14, 2012

Garden of the Sun God

It is time to introduce to you my latest quilt, completed this past spring.  You can visit it at Houston if you go to the big show in October.

At the time of its creation, my teaching schedule had slowed down considerably, so I had more relaxed embroidery and quilting time with this large quilt. It was a joy to make.  I did envision how this quilt to should go together, the background is 4 basic pieces, a little different from my usual style, but similar in feel to Egyptian Garden II.

The working title for this new quilt was Egyptian Water Garden III. The plan was to paint a large panel of fabric which would be divided into 3 thin strips for the background. I always cut the white base fabric a little larger than needed, to give myself some options in how to trim it up for the quilt. So I used about 1.5 yards of "prepared for dying" white cotton.  I poured and dribbled lots of sky blue stuff on the top and browns, greens and yellows for the lower edge.  I twist up the fabric into a long log so the Setacolor paints intermix in interesting patterns.

This is the hand painted panel, pressed, sliced into 3 sections, auditioning a sashing strip.
I envisioned a water garden, with papyrus, pink coneflowers, and a blue heron fishing in a lily pond. So above you see the very beginning! Remember, this will have an ancient Egyptian feel to it, but I created most of symbols to make it mine!

The sashing strips were cut from a rich hand dyed fabric by Dagmar Plenk of Milwaukee. It was a luscious fabric blending red, gold and rust dyes. It made me think of very hot desert when I saw it for the first time. Above the shorter center panel I will place the symbol of the Egyptian sun god.
The strips are pieced with the red sashing. The lower dark blue strip is being auditioned for the water.
The heron is supposed to be fishing in the pond, and I have decided that the special water fabric I have purchased is too heavy and dark.
Auditioning another lighter turquoise for the strip to become the pond.
This lighter fabric blends and subtly contrasts with the upper section, so I'm much happier with this selection.  Good thing I had it left over from my Orange Coneflower Quilt.

Auditioning red fabrics for outer border.
Now the inner section is complete. All the while I have been working on the background, I have been unsure about what to use for the outer border.  It must harmonize with the inside, yet be heavy enough to hold all the sections together. I'm not there yet.

More border auditions.
It seems that I'm getting closer to a border.  I like the fabric on the lower left that changes from bright red to dark red. This creates an interesting border with some movement; this works well with the water idea.

Tune in next time to view the exciting conclusion.......What will be chosen for the border!

Have a good weekend.

Ann Fahl