Art Quilts Revealed: Part One

On a fine Sunday afternoon, my art quilt group, Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists, teamed up with Art More Place, to present Art Quilts Revealed.  Our primary goal was to introduce people to a “behind the seams” look at some of the techniques art quilters use.  Our secondary goal was to introduce quilters to Art More Place, which is a creative art class space.  I’d have to say we met both targets in spades!

Having never done a group demo event like this before, we weren’t quite sure to expect.  But, when the doors opened at 1 PM, people poured in.  We had displays set up, so they immediately had interesting things to look at.

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists.

Four of us conducted short demos on various topics, so we had boards set up with a little explanation.  My topic was “Photo to Quilt,” and this was the bulk of my display.

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists. Ellen Lindner,
I talked about a variety of ways to interpret a photo in fabric.  Very accurate with a pattern, like the apple and pears, simplified edits of the photos (which is mostly what you see here,) and quilts that are only inspired by the idea or basics of a photo.  Ti Party, near the center shows this, both with a torn paper collage and with a raw edge fabric collage.

The audience was very attentive during my presentation.  There were about 30 people attending.  They were very interested and many asked questions afterward.

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists.

Jill Brown did a presentation on weaving and beading.  She uses both quite a lot in her work.

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists.
Susan Rienzo loves bright colors (as you can see,) and she also likes to use “cutouts” in her work.  These are various motifs and images that she’s cut from other fabrics and incorporated into her work.  They give her work a lot of whimsy and interest.  (Sorry for the out of focus photo.)

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists. Ellen Lindner,

Gabriele Di Tota is hooked on surface design techniques of all sorts.  Her demo gave a brief overview of many of them.  You can tell from her display that she has a lot of fun, right?

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists. Ellen Lindner,

This is one of Gabriele’s pieces.  She started with white fabric and created the colorful fabrics she used here.

Art Quilts Revealed, an art quilt event presented by Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists. Ellen Lindner,

This is just the start of our fun.  I’ll have more photos and info for you in the next post.

Ellen Lindner

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Crealde Opening

Last month two quilt exhibits opened at the Crealde School of Art, in Winter Park, FL.  They are The Sum of All Parts, which is a traveling exhibit, and Mid-Florida Quiltmakers, which includes my piece, “Caring.”

I’d never been to Crealde before.  Their exhibit space is not large, but the art was well-lit and the event was very festive.  The attendance was the best they’ve ever had for an opening and it was quickly standing room only.  (I took this photo when about 1/3 of the people had arrived.)

Click any image for a larger view
Opening Night at Crealde School of Art.

The opening night festivities included presentations by the curators for both exhibits.  It was very interesting!  The Mid-Florida presentation included shots of my quilt in-progress, as well as a little about how I made the piece.  I felt like quite a celebrity!

And here it is: “Caring.”

Ellen Lindner with her piece "Caring" at Crealde School of Art.

I was especially glad to have this piece on display, since it’s hard to ship.  Therefore, I only get to show it in nearby venues.

Marketing tip:  When you attend an event which features one of your quilts wear a name tag showing that quilt.  It will automatically identify you as the artist and will be a great conversation starter.  (And if the venue provides you with another name tag just wear one on each side.)

There were many wonderful quilts on display.  This one was sort of the star, made by Martha Ginn:

Opening Night at Crealde School of Art. shadows were not as deep as they appear in these photos, but the interior of the room was unlit.  The only lights were on the art.)

The exhibit space shown above is only half of the exhibit. The remainder is in downtown Winter Park, at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.

Both exhibits run through January 18th, 2016.  If you live in the area I strongly recommend a trip to see them AND to spend some time in delightful Winter Park.

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  Winter Park is a delightful little town with lots of shops and restaurants nestled among beautiful trees and landscaping.  Plus, it  has the Morse Museum, which features Tiffany glass, and there’s even a cool boat ride!

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Improvisational Piecing – Putting it Together

After making 11 blocks with improvisational piecing, I began to arrange them on the design wall. I knew I could spend ALL DAY rearranging them, so I simplified my process by deciding to:
– Put the bright yellow-orange pieces near the center, since I thought they’d attract attention.
– Arrange pieces according to their fit.

This is what I got.  There were plenty of gaps and areas that would need additional blocks.  Although I was NOT aiming for an exact square.  I thought the angular outside edge gave it a lot of energy and I didn’t want to lose that.

Click on any image for a larger view

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

Here it is after a few more items were added.

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

Slowly it grew and soon I was figuring out how to piece the whole thing together.  I knew I’d need to sew units together and then go from there.  One good thing:  I could use curved seams, just like I had done with everything else.  Can you see that the two major vertical seams will be curved?

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

Here it is, with the left units waiting to be added.  As you can see, the final piece is too big.  That’s because things have shrunk and shifted as the units have been sewn together.  No worries:  it will get a trim (or the pieces around it will) and I’ll proceed.

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

Finally, everything was pieced.

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

Does it look a little different?  That’s because I rotated it 90 degrees.

Now, I’ll study it for a while and decide if I’m happy with the shape.  (If not, I can add more blocks.)  Then, I’ll have to figure out how to finish it, while maintaining that irregular edge.

Ellen Lindner


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Improvisational Piecing – Getting Started

In the midst of my creative play I stumbled upon improvisational piecing.  I haven’t pieced a quilt in about 15 years, but this really looked like fun!  The appeal comes from the concept of no measuring and no pins.  My kind of sewing!  It’s fast and the results are very interesting.

You can google improvisational piecing and you’ll find many tutorials and many variations.  I decided to use:
– Only curved seams (because I saw a video about an easy way to handle them,)
– Mostly blue-green fabrics with accents of orange.
– Lots of cutting and rearranging.  (What fun!)
– Skinny strips.
(These were all things I saw in videos and magazine articles, presented by Pat Pauly.)

First, my palette of fabrics:  My selected colors, plus some yellow for tiny accents, and some darks for contrast.

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

This was my first block, made with little scraps.  Can you see what I did to get started?

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

  • First, I cut the blue paisley fabric with a curved line.  Then, without any pinning or measuring, I cut a skinny strip of red and sewed it in.
  • Next, I cut through that and slid the two pieces so the red line had a big break it.  And sewed it.
  • Then, I added the red on the bottom.  But again, cut through it and slid it so things no longer aligned.

Well, heck, that was so much fun I just had to keep going!  This is the same “block,” finished:

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

It was really exciting to sew something, cut into it, and rearrange it.  I loved it!

Here’s another block in-progress.  After cutting it, I debated whether to misalign it, or to add a skinny strip.  I auditioned both options.

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

What would a skinny yellow strip look like?

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

What would misalignment look like?

Of course, I could do both, right?  (Stay tuned to see my decision.)  In the image below, the first six blocks are randomly arranged on the design wall.  The block I just showed is top right – BEFORE I altered it.  That’s one of the great things about this technique.  You can go back and alter each block until you begin the final joining.

Notice, too, that some blocks have wacky edges.  They’ll be cut when the next thing is added, so I just left them that way as I continued.

Improvisational piecing with Ellen Lindner.

It was looking pretty cool, don’t you think?  I loved the energy!

Ellen Lindner

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Creative Play: Photo to Abstract

In my last creative exercise, I once again took inspiration from Pat Pauly and used one of her techniques for creating an abstract design from a photo.

First, I cropped one of my printed photos down to 7.5 x 10.

Photo to Abstract with Ellen Lindner.

I was aiming for something that was divisible by 2.5, so I could cut it into squares.

Next, I picked out my 6 favorite squares, making sure I had a good variety of light  and dark, as well as all the colors.

Photo to Abstract with Ellen Lindner.

I spent some time rotating and arranging those 6 squares and came up with this.

Photo to Abstract with Ellen Lindner.
It’s not meant to be a quilt design as is.  But, the idea is that the lines of it might make a good pattern for an abstract design.  Did you notice the word “Top” facing the wrong direction?  That’s because I composed it in this orientation and changed it later.

I traced the major shapes with permanent marker, so I could see them more easily.  Then, I traced them onto tracing paper.

Photo to Abstract with Ellen Lindner.

The idea is that the tracing paper pattern could serve as a pattern by itself.  And I think it could.  What do you think?  See, now it’s turned “correctly.”

I had leftover squares so I used 4 more and repeated the exercise.  (I just didn’t like those last 2 squares.)

Photo to Abstract with Ellen Lindner.


Hmm, maybe I like this one even better than those favorite squares.  Now I’m wondering what it would look like if I omitted the vertical and horizontal grid lines, merging shapes as needed.  More options!

It’s easy to be intimidated by the prospect of abstracting an image, but this technique was pretty useful, I thought.  Why not try it?

Update, I just found an image of one of Pat Pauly’s abstracted quilts.  It looks like she used a technique much like this.

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  See my other posts about recent creative play here, here, and here.

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Art Quilts Revealed

I’m really excited about an upcoming event in Melbourne, FL.  It’s called “Art Quilts Revealed” and it will be presented/hosted by my small art group, the Dirty Dozen Fiber Artists.  We’ll have lots of quilts on display, explanations of many of our techniques, and demos every half hour.

It will be  held in Art More Place, which is a really cool space for classes and creativity.  The address is 150 East Dr., Ste. B.  I hope you can join us Sunday afternoon, September 27th!Art Quilts Revealed, a "behind the seams" exhibit.  AdventureQuilter.comI’ll be demonstrating several ways to use photos as inspiration for quilts.  My big challenge will be paring down my examples!  But, what a fun task!  Any certain quilts you’d like me to bring?

Ellen Lindner

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Creative Play: Abstract Collages

When I first started my creative play, do you remember that I printed out four inspiration photos and then tore magazine pages to coordinate with each of them?  So, for these next two exercises I completely ignored the photos and used the pages only.  This worked well, since I had two color coordinated piles of papers.

Having recently watched Lesley Riley’s collage segment on Quilting Arts TV, I decided to emulate her style.  Sorta.  She starts with an interesting image and surrounds/backs it with wonderful fabrics and trims.  I found a focal point image from the magazine pages and gave it a shot.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

 Since my papers were often in little pieces, I wasn’t able to do the backing part.  That’s okay.  It was a creative exercise!  (BTW, these magazine pages were for the image with leaves and berries.)

Next, I decided to work with the shapes I found in the pages themselves.  This exercise was inspired by one I saw Pat Pauly do on Quilting Arts TV.  Ignoring color, I looked for shapes.  Once again, I used them to make a collage, gluing pieces to a small piece of cardboard.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

You can probably recognize paint can lids above.  how about the horizontal lines on the left?  They’re the legs of dining chairs.

I sketched the major design lines and got this:

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

I thought that was worth playing with a bit more, so I experimented with value options on the computer.  I think this is pretty interesting.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

All this creative play was really getting my Adrenalin flowing.  And I wasn’t finished yet!

Ellen Lindner

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Creative Play: Mail Boxes

Continuing with my creative play, I started working with my photograph of farm mail boxes.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

It seems that I always need to start with something very literal .  True to form, I first sketched the mail boxes.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.
That wasn’t very exciting, but it did make me think of some other mail box photos I had.  (Remember, my plan was to take all interesting detours.)  The photo below was taken in the little village of Madrid, NM.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

I loved the crooked boxes and there were many other interesting ones nearby.  This time I did my sketching in the computer, combining photos and auditioning several different background options.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

Creative play with Ellen Lindner.

Lots of options.  What if I use an outline “drawing” of the background buildings and vegetation with colorful mail boxes in front?  Hmm.

I don’t know if any of this will find it’s way in to a quilt, but I DO know that I did a lot of creative experimenting with these exercises.  Which makes each of them a SUCCESS!

Ellen Lindner

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Creative Play: Torn Paper Collage

Do you ever need a creative jump start?  I do.  Especially when I’ve been doing lots of black and white, non-creative, tasks.  Finding myself in this situation, I recently set aside a week for creative play.  In my free time, I vowed to avoid all sewing ofhanging sleeves, labels, hems, etc.  My time in my studio/sewing area would be all about play. And play only!

The rules I set for myself were:
– Start
– Continue
– Take any detours that seem appealing
– DON’T focus on product, ONLY process!  (That’s a biggie.)

Hey, that was sounding fun already!

I had a few ideas of exercises I might do so I gathered materials with those things in mind.   These were my supplies:
– 4 favorite photos, each printed out in color on decent paper
– A few old magazines
– A glue stick

These were my four photos:

VA mailboxes

Japanese Ti Plants. Ellen Lindner,

Vegas berries

fence post w. yellow flowers

My first task was to go through the magazines and tear out pages that could possibly be used to create collages representing these four images.  That in itself was fun and I was beginning to get that creative buzz in the back of my head.  Soon I had four stacks, each containing the printed photo and lots of magazine images with similar colors.

As my first exercise, I used my magazine pages to create a collage inspired by the fence post photo above.  I limited myself to tearing the paper, rather than cutting it.  This, theoretically, would keep me from getting overly detailed.  As you can see, I managed to overcome that.

fence post torn collage

Although I managed to make a pretty representational collage, I’m NOT assigning a value to the finished product.  Instead, I’m assessing only the process.  It was a creative one, so it was GOOD!  Very good!

Do you need a little creative boost?  If so, why not try something like this?  I’ve since completed many more exercises and I’ll be sharing those with you on this blog.

It’s SO good to just play every now and then.  I consider it absolutely necessary for artistic growth!  One of my favorite quotes: “If you never make mistakes, you’re not experimenting enough.”

Ellen Lindner

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Making Labels

After last month’s post about finishing tasks, I got several requests for a post about my label-making process.  So here goes.

I print my labels onto fabric using my home printer.  The first thing to think about is how to ensure the ink is permanent.  There are several options:
– Prepared paper-backed fabric sheets.  I’ve used several different brands with good results.  The only down side is their cost.
– You can buy solutions for treating your own fabric.  This involves some planning to allow for soaking and drying times.  But, the biggest down side is that it just doesn’t print as well as the prepared sheets.  This option is less expensive than prepared sheets.
– Most Epson printers use Durabright inks, which are permanent.  With such a printer you don’t need the fabric to be pretreated in any way.  This is my preferred method.

Once you’ve answered the ink question, you’ll still need to make sure your fabric will feed through your printer properly.  The prepared sheets are handy here, since they’re already sized at 8 1/2 by 11.  Otherwise, you’ll need to temporarily mount your fabrics onto something slightly stiff to go through the printer.  Freezer paper is a common item for this.  Just iron it to your fabric, and cut it into the proper sizes.

Making labels. Ellen Lindner,

I like to use Avery full size labels.  I iron stick them on my fabric, then trim around them.  AND I can use them again.  If I’m efficient, I’ve got pressed fabric ready to have the sticky label added to it as soon as I’m through with it.  If not, I can stick it to freezer paper for later use.  I’ve heard that you can get up to 10 uses from one page, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Since my labels never take up a full page, I tend to have extra odd shapes remaining.  I’ve found that I can still send them through my printer, if I tape them to a page of typing paper.  You’ll have to experiment with that.

BTW, I use a PFD (prepared for dying) fabric.  It’s tightly woven and uber clean.  You’ll probably need to order this.

There you go!  I hope you’ve found this useful.

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  Do you also want posts about what to include on a label, or how to attach it?
P.P.S.  Thanks to Brenda J. for catching my iron vs. stick error above.



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