I finished My “Peppers” last night!  Hooray!  I’m quite happy with how they turned out… I struggled with making the red center one laying down so you are looking down on it.  I think the key was both the shading and sewing directional-ly. By this I mean that I’m trying to capture the shape of the object, by sewing in the direction that the object naturally goes.

For instance, where there was a buldge in the pepper, I sewed around any bulbous protusion, which, combined with shading, helps give the illusion of depth. Another way of looking at directional sewing is to think of the way something grows or sewing with the grain of an item. For instance, if you want to portray an animal, it won’t look very realistic if you make the hair going in an unnatural manner.  Similarly, petals, leaves, and plant stems look closer to life with a vertical grain and more cartoonish with horizontal filling.

Background before I hand appliquéd the trapunto peppers 

I also made a decision with the background of this piece.  If you’re familiar with design theory, you’ll recognize “repetition” and “unity” as two fundamental  design concepts. Many strong designs utilize repetition- whether they are visual art, writing or in a musical composition.  Repetition aows the viewer to feel more comfortable with the piece-as if the already know something about it, since they’ve seen (or heard) that part of the piece before. Repetition can also help unify a piece. Having too many loose ends that don’t relate anywhere else in the work can be jarring and disquieting.

So, for my “Peppers” I used a background fabric which matches the background of my Tomatillo, but in a different color way.  I used the same pattern for the Freemotion quilting as I did on my Tomato. One of the lines of decorative stitch matches another in one of my pieces.

Why is this important? While each piece may be lovely and stand on its own, my plan is to put nine of these “Salsa” pieces together into a quilt. Although I’m doing similar techniques- Machine embroidered veges with decorative stitching and Freemotion quilting, if I’m not careful it will seem like it isn’t unified.  Other ways I’m working to unify the peace and provide repetition include using the same font for the name of each of the vegetables or fruits, using an analagous color scheme (red, orange, yellow, green), and having my quilting and decorative stitching be more sharp angles rather than curves (I think of this being more like Mayan or Aztec patterning.

On to my Avocados….!

You Might Also Be Interested in:

New 5 x 7 
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5 x 7 Week 3- 
The Start of Salsa
Developing the 
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Check out these other Great Blogs!
For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

To find some wonderful quilting projects, visit Freshly Pieced

Confessions of a Fabric Addict 

Art Quilts by Nina Marie Sayre

Stitch by Stitch by Marelize Ries

Artist Hanny Couwenhoven

Back in the Jun/July 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, a fiberart group named “Windkracht 10” was featured in an article by Lynn Krawczyk.  Based in the Netherlands, these Dutch fiber artists choose to display their work outdoors.  While creating work that will be exposed to the elements may be challenging, there are certain advantages, as well.  If the artist takes into consideration the colors of the surroundings when making their piece, the artwork can be remarkably striking.

As an example, this piece by Hanny Couwenhoven reflects the rainbow of colors as well as the sky.  The sheer fabrics allow the background to be seen, as well as creating more color variations as the transparencies of different fabrics are layered on each other.

Artist Kun Speelman

Another factor that needs to be considered is the size of the piece.  When you’re exhibiting outdoors, size matters!  You need to consider the amount of space in which your piece will be displayed.  If it is a small enclosed garden space, the scale of the piece can be much smaller than a piece that is out on an open plain.

Of course, any type of fiber that is exposed to the elements needs to be constructed with the understanding that wind, storms, rain, and sun will all take their toll.  You need to check the weather patterns for the location you’ll be exhibiting and make sure to construct your piece with materials and techniques that will stand up stronger to the environment.  For instance, seams may be sewn double and “fabrics” might include tyvek, canvas, or nautical materials.

Artist Dery Timmer

Another Northwest treasure in the Fiber Art world, Mandy Greer makes incredible installation pieces using crocheted and sewn fabric.  If you’d like to see one of her performance art/installations click here.


Artist  Hannelieke van de Beek

For any of you who are Washington State Artists, I have a new opportunity for you to break into outdoor exhibitions.  In conjunction with Washington State’s Contemporary QuiltArt Association’s exhibition “Salsa!” in the Mighty Tieton Warehouse Gallery, Tieton Arts and Humanities invite all Washington state artists to enter in a juried exhibition of outdoor fiber art.  Artwork may include (but is not limited to) yarn-bombing, banners, flags, and soft sculpture.

The exhibit “Salsa in the Sun” has an entry deadline of April 7 and will open on Saturday May 25.  The entry form and information is available online at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dE5aR3dKaklLRGt3cWdVLVFOWmZsaVE6MQ

Artist Elsvan Baarle

Windkracht 10 Members Featured in this post:

Hanny Couwenhoven
Kun Speelman
Derry Timmer
Hannelieke van de Beek
Elsvan Baarle

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Isolation.  It can be really nice to have time to yourself… time to do your projects, eat on your own schedule, stay up as late as you want.  But this weekend was more than time to myself.  Sometime on Friday, a critical piece of equipment broke down cutting off all Internet, email, WiFi and our home and business phones.  Although I still have my cell phone and texting, it’s amazing to find out how connected we are through these other forms of communication.  With my husband and sons away for the weekend, it was more like solitary confinement than a peaceful weekend to myself! Luckily, our computer expert was able to find the piece of equipment and get it installed this afternoon, so we’re back live!

Start of Red pepper- showing underlaying stitches
The good news is that I had little distraction, so I’ve made a lot of progress on my Salsa series.  First, I started with peppers:
This red pepper proved to be particularly challenging, since the perspective.  I started with making the stem, and then doing the darker parts as underlayment.  I made circular shapes, to try to get the sense of the knobby bumps on the top of the pepper.
I think it came out pretty well and like the effect of adding a little violet for the shadows.  
With the orange pepper, I again started with the stem and the darker shading.  As you can see, most of the stitching goes in the direction of the shape of the vegetable.  With the underlayment, I will go across the grain, but most of this stitching will be beneath other layers of color, so it won’t show the cross-grain stitches.  
I then start building layers of color up.  I generally go from dark to light, as the dark is in the shadows, so further away from the viewer and light is closer.
Here are the three finished peppers.  I need to start working on doing the freemotion quilting and decorative stitching on the background today.
Next, I started on avocados.  Same, process, although it is challenging to think through how to be able to show the indentation of the place where the avocado seed was versus the other half with the seed jutting out. The rough texture of the outer skin was a little worrisome as well. 
I started with going over the darkest part in a thick black cotton thread.  I then added layers of dark grays and some dark muted green (basically a green that has dark gray added to it.)
I added the darkest yellow to the texture of the fruit, making it heaviest in the area that the pit was removed.  Then I layered about 10 different shades of light yellow and light green to make the fruit.
The final part of the process was to do the avocado pit or seed and the little area where the stem comes out.  
Because of how I layered the thread, both the pit areas are slightly stretched out, which will give a nice 3-D effect when I add trapunto.
I’ll be looking over Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project to find some interesting designs for the backgrounds of these two 5 x 7 Challenge pieces!

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Cilantro- Si! 5 x 7 Week 3- 
The Start of Salsa
La Cebolla (Onion)

We have some wonderful additions to the ongoing 5 x 7 Artist Challenge!

Janine, aka Rainbow Hare Quilts, of East Sussex UK: 
Fused Fabric Valentine by Janine

Janine has a wonderful post on her Rainbow Hare blog called “Do You Ever Get Quilter’s Block?”    Not only does she describe making this wonderful fused fabric Valentine, she also links up to a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love.”  What a wonderful opportunity to hear someone who has made such a success in her creative life struggle with many of the same challenges we all do.  Thank-you, Janine, for sharing both your 5 x 7 pieces and Elizabeth Gilbert’s exposé on creative genius.
Detail of Rainbow Hare’s Fused Fabric Valentine

Janine discusses her process for the little house piece to the left in her blog post “Not What I Meant At All”.  I think it’s really helpful to hear how people start and what they go through to get to a finished result.

Next, Hilda of Hilda’s Hideout is working with found objects.  Here are two of her newest pieces- I see a series in the making!

Lise, aka French Canadian 23, has been working with trees for her 5 x 7 pieces:
Lise describes her process for making Birch Trees… I love how the paper-pieced background is so muted but totally gives you the sense of the tree branches, as well as the graphic fabrics which work well for different bark!
Oak Tree in Fall by Lise- FrenchCanadian23

Although not yet complete, Lise has her second tree quilt well under way.  I’m looking forward to seeing it when she finishes the thread painting that she’s planning.

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Cilantro – Si!
I made it back home from San Francisco late last night and finished up my 5 x7 “Cilantro” piece today.  
“Cilantro” by Christina Fairley Erickson
Freehand machine embroidery, decorative stitching and freemotion quilted
Since I already had the machine embroidered cilantro done, all I had to finish up was the background.  For this, I started with stitching the name “Cilantro” as I had with my other Salsa pieces.  To do this, I printed the word on a piece of paper-piecing paper in a funky font and then just stitched the letters out and tore away to paper.  Then I chose a few different decorative stitches to start with.
Cilantro freemotion quilting design

Next, I wanted to fill the middle space with freemotion quilting.  I drew out this design which I based on cilantro leaves.  I like how it looks and was ready to try it out.

However, I then lay my machine embroidered Cilantro on top of the drawn design.  I don’t think it was complementary at all!  I’d like to try the leaf pattern somewhere, but this wasn’t the right place.

Cilantro freemotion quilting design with cilantro machine
embroidery on top

Background getting filled in with cubing

So, I decided to check my favorite resource, Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project, and thought that I could slightly modify her “Cubing” design.  I worked the design at an angle or on-point, as well as putting in a lot of rectangular shapes, rather than mostly all squares.

After that, I only had to applique down my machine embroidery.  Due to the thin stalks and ruffled edges of the cilantro, I decided to cut the embroidery along the edge, color in the edges and machine applique it (rather than hand-applique as I did on the others.)  I did put a minimal amount of trapunto batting under a few leaves and left some of the edges loose, so it has a more 3-D effect.

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Freshly Pieced

The Needle and Thread Network

“Forest” by Leslie Richmond
Mixed fiber fabric, heat reactive base, metal patinas, acrylic paint, dyes
“Forest” detail by Leslie Richmond

Lesley Richmond of Vancouver B.C. created this fantastic piece of mixed fiber fabric, a heat reactive base, metal patinas, acrylic paint, and dyes.  She starts with taking photos of trees, focusing on the branch structure.  From there, she uses the images to make a silk screen and prints the trees on a silk-cotton fabric with a heat-reactive base.  When heated, the heat-reactive base both expands and becomes dimensional.  

“Forest” detail by Leslie Richmond

She then removes the remaining cellulose/cotton fibers with a mild acid.  What remains is the image and the silk-threads in the background.  The final processes are stiffening the structures of the trees and painting them with acrylic paints and metallic patinas.  

I think this piece may have been my favorite in the whole exhibition.  I really recommend looking at Lesley’s website. Her work is exceptional!

“Forest” detail by Leslie Richmonds
“Untitled” by Scott Fife
Archival cardboard, drywall screws, and glue

I had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the artists during the BAM High Fiber Diet Symposium, Scott Fife.    Scott’s sculpture is large… life sized.  Loving our Northwest beaches, it’s amazing to encounter a humongous piece of driftwood leaning up against the wall of a formal art museum.

Actually, this sculpture is probably 12-15 feet in height.  It’s made from archival cardboard, drywall screws and glue.  He chose to use cardboard as a way to honor and reclaim the product that originally came from a tree.  Scott’s recent work is particularly interested in the mortality of trees.

For the last year, I’ve been learning to make driftwood sculpture.  The type of sculpture I’m making is based of the Luron method… a way to take an interesting piece of driftwood (you need to choose a piece with interesting lines, curves, and grain) and the remove the outer dead layers of wood to find the inner heartwood.

Below the detailed images of Scott’s driftwood log are a few of the beautiful pieces made by members of the the Northwest Driftwood Artists (and two of my teachers).

“Untitled” detail by Scott Fife
Tree knot
“Untitled” detail by Scott Fife
Tree knot 

“Tumbleweed” by Dave Sao

“Wildfire” by Dave Sao

“Emerging Swan” by Tuttie Peet
“Safe Haven” by Jo Marsh

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For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

Dharma’s Retail Store in San Rafael, CA

I’ve purchased many supplies at Dharma Trading Co. over the last few years.  So, when I found out that Dharma has a retail store in San Rafael (about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco, where I’m visiting), I decided to make a trip.  If you haven’t visited their website, they have almost anything and everything that you could need to dye, paint or do surface design on fabrics.

Fabric Paints

The one thing that you will find at Dharma’s retail store that they don’t have on their website is a wonderful wide supply of incredible yarns.  While I’ve so far been able to restrain myself from catching the knitting and crocheting bug, I do still love beautiful yarn.  I like couching yarns for different effects.

Dye Supplies

You can also purchase both silk and cotton garments (generally in white, but also in black and a few in other colors) to use for dyeing and painting.  The prices are very reasonable, which makes them great for resale after you surface design on them.

Shiva Oil Paintsticks, Rubbing Plates, and Metallic Pigments

Fabric Dyes and Paints

Dye-na-flow and Dyes

Custom Yarns

Custom Yarns

Custom Yarns

Custom Yarns
Silk and Cotton garments that you can dye and paint
Trees- 2 of my UFO’s that could use
more paint and completion

Now that I’ve seen all their wonderful products, I can’t wait to get back home to break out my dyes, paints and other supplies and finish up a few of my UFO’s, such as these trees.  I have a few projects that I think that can be salvaged with a little overdyeing or adding some paint.
 Hope you enjoy!

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Check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project!

 On the advice from my reader from Sophie Junction, today I went and visited StoneMountain and Daughter Fabrics, in Berkeley, CA.  After 30 years, this store has a wonderful collection for quilters and seamstresses alike.  They have one of the better collections of wool and linen I’ve seen (and I’ve looked for both in the Seattle area.)

They also had some fabulous ethnic fabrics.  The ceiling of StoneMountain has two wonderful long crazy quilt-like banners streaming across it, as well as fabulous quilts and an unusual kimono hanging from it.

 After leaving Berkeley, we headed back to San Francisco,and visited an art supply & fabric shop in the Haight-Ashbury district called “Mendels & Far-Out Fabrics“.  My girlfriend, Uvonne Jones-Most, is a painter, gourd artist, and glass maker.  She referred me to Mendels, as a place to find unusual textiles, as well as incredible art supplies.  Uvonne told me that Mendels stocks such unique products to appeal to the diverse population of San Francisco and the Haight neighborhood.

Well, she was right.  Feathers, glitter, all sorts of sparkley fabrics, fake fur in every color, hand-made papers, and more.
Stocked to the gills, it’s almost impossible to NOT find something that you’d like to play with!

 I’m hoping to visit Dharma Trading Co. tomorrow, if I can fit it in with my family visits.

There are times for each of us when we need to just need to assess what’s realistic.  It’s been that kind of week.  As I mentioned a few days ago, I have a Valentines special trip to visit my girlfriend and her husband for their twenty-fifth anniversary.  It turns out that Valentine’s and President’s day coincide with my sons’ mid-winter break, so my family and mother and I are taking a long weekend trip down to the San Francisco Bay area.  But, as most of us know, things start to get complex as soon as you plan to get out of town.

My cilantro machine embroidery on the background fabric
I’ve chosen (still to be completed.)

Therefore, I haven’t finished my 5 x 7 art piece for the last week.  I’m not sure whether I’ll get one done in the coming week, since I’m out of town.  However, I did bring my sketchbook along, so perhaps I can finish something that way.  My current 5 x 7, my cilantro piece, is well on it’s way.  So, I might get it finished when I get back next Tuesday.

Regardless, I want to be honest with you… I think it’s important to recognize that we can’t always reach our goals.  I’ve had a few people feel like they couldn’t continue with the 5 x 7 challenge, because things came up and they weren’t able to do their artwork a week or two.  Sometimes the most important thing is to accept our failures and then get back to work.  Perseverance pays.  So even though I know last week and this coming one might not be as productive as I had hoped, I will not give up.

Here are a few more wonderful pieces from the Bellevue Art Museum “High Fiber Diet” exhibit:

“The Contact: Climax Forest”
by Ann Johnston

These three pieces by Ann Johnston were hung together and all feature Ann’s hand-dyed fabrics.  Climax Forest is hand dyed cotton that has been hand & machine stitched.  I love the complementary color scheme with the golden yellow-orange and blue.

“The Contact: Nevadan Orogeny”
by Ann Johnston

Her piece Nevadan Orogeny is also hand dyed cotton with machine stitching.  It represents the era where massive plumes of molten magma intruded into the earth’s crust, lifting and creating the western part of the North American continent.

The final piece,Vigil is also hand dyed cotton with hand & machine stitching.  I love the cracked look of the mountain peaks.  I’ve climbed glaciers in Alaska and while the beauty of the great blue ice is incredible, something that many people don’t know is that the ices has cracks and lines of dirt, from the rocks that have been crushed through the force and power of the glacier.

“The Contact: Vigil”
by Ann Johnston

The next piece, “Studio” was constructed with Felt, Polyfiber, wire, and PVC.  Tamara Wilson of Fairbanks AK recreates her surroundings with felt and thread.  She feel that comfort and warmth, safety and security are conveyed both through the topic of her familiar surroundings as well as the usage of felt.

Each part of the scene below is made out of the felt and supporting pieces… and I mean every part of the scene… the bike on the wall, the light bulb and wire it hangs from, the table & chair, the sewing machine, reading glasses, cup of noodles, trashcan, etc.  All of it!

“Studio” by Tamara Wilson
“Studio” detail view

I hope this gives you a little inspiration and helps you remember that it’s ok when you don’t always meet your goals.  Goals are there to help you… to light your way.  When you have other things in your life, it’s o.k.  Learning balance is such a critical part of all of our lives.

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For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project

Today’s project has been working on a sprig of Cilantro for my Salsa quilt.  This has been a little more challenging, as the uneven ruffled edges of the cilantro and the thin, fine stalks are going to make it pretty impossible to turn under the edges to applique.  Unless you know a technique that I don’t!

“Cilantro” freehand machine embroidery by Christina Fairley Erickson
“Cilantro” back

So, I did this one a little differently, in that I decided to put a green, leafy background on the back, below the layers of stabilizer.  This way, I can carefully cut around my machine embroidery and fasten it to the background, but allow some of the leaves to not be completely secured, and the backing fabric will show.  I expect I’ll have to color along the edges where I cut, however.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with the background this time around, though I’m considering putting it on either a red or yellow-orange piece.  While I’m working on this little sprig, here’s something to think about on a much grander scale!

Sea Nettle” by Dina Barzel in foreground
“Bridging Shine” by Jo Hamilton in background

Yesterday, I started talking about the Bellevue Art Museum’s (BAM) current exhibit “High Fiber Diet.”  One of the artists and a friend of mine, Dina Barzel, is an incredible woman in the fiber arts.  Dina has been working as a full-time artist since 1970 and makes fiber sculptures.  I met Dina through the Surface Design Association and am happy to have her join our monthly meetings here in Bellevue.  Dina was born and grew up in the Western Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.  The traditional uses of fibers were an essential part of everyday life, and made quite an impression on her.

Dina’s sculpture for this show, “Sea Nettle” is made of silk fibers, shaped around molds.  Some of the molds are large and light enough to even hold the artist!  The silken globe rise up to the twenty foot ceiling, some partially open, as though they are allowing others to escape from within.

In the background, you’ll see an oversized male portrait called “Bridging Shine” by Jo Hamilton. This piece is made completely of mixed crocheted yarn and is about twice the size of life.

“Sea Nettle” by Dina Brazel (detail)

“Sea Nettle” by Dina Brazel (detail)

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For wonderful Tutorials on FreeMotion Quilting and more, go to Leah Day’s FreeMotion Quilting Project