Friday, April 22, 2011

Velda Newman: Living large!

I've been a Velda Newman fan for a long time, so when I heard she would be teaching at the SSQA Symposium, I signed up for a two-day class.
Often referred to as "the Georgia O'Keefe of quilters", Velda enjoys making big flowers on big quilts. I mean really big! She generously brought her latest work to share. This is "Zinnias"", which measures 8' x 18':
It was almost impossible to find a place to hold it up...thank goodness for the extra 2 feet allowed by that sunken seating area in the hotel lobby!
The cameras were clicking away and several non-quilter guests at the hotel also had to come in for a closer look. Can you believe this is hand quilted? There is a fair amount of machine work, too, but I was really amazed at how much Velda does by hand.

So what's the secret? (hah! even if we knew all the "secrets" could we still pull this off???)
Painting on fabric,which was the topic of the classes. But not a painted picture that is then quilted all over. No, all the flowers (or fish or vegetables or many other natural figures she loves)  are appliques made from painted fabric.

Of course, I didn't know any of this when I signed up for the class. I decided it was a great opportunity to take a class with a famous art quilter, and would be an excellent challenge.
Boy, was I right about that last part!
Of the 19 people in the class, only 3 of us had never painted before. I am pretty sure the oil-paint-by-numbers when I was a kid do not count. Nor do the hours of watching Bob Ross paint happy little trees on TV.
Let me say right away that Velda is a great teacher, despite whatever talent her students displayed. And I do know about teaching! She gave good demos and then set us to work. As she constantly circled the classroom she met each person at the level they needed...helpful encouragement for the beginners, or pertinent critique for the experienced artists.

We worked from patterns Velda provided. Here are some of the students using Nature's lightbox!
Once the pattern was drawn on the fabric we sprayed it with water to get it nice and damp, then painted with acrylics. First up was the apple:

This is where we learned why the hairdryer was on our supply list! The color will bleed out quite a bit if it just air dries.
The first and second day went pretty well, but by the third day we blew the fuses in the hotel.
Yes, I had such a good time in my 2-day class, I went back in the for third day as an observer. I was able to pay better attention to things like how to handle the brushes and paint, but it was really fun to watch everybody trying to get their hairdryer going before the others...only one or two could be used at the same time!
We did color washes:
We also learned Velda's technique of adding texture with stitching before the painting is done:
This is a basket. We also made some lemons with a gridded texture, and used distressed cheesecloth to create the skin on a melon. After the sewing comes the painting for color and dimension.

We made leaves, tulip petals, and a sea shell.
The Saturday class made fish and peaches and a conch shell. The hotel staff and various guests wandered through from time to time, intrigued by all the things we had drying on the floor:
If you have a chance to take a class with Velda, I would highly reccommend it! I certainly have a lot to learn about painting, but the techniques I learned are definitely ones I'll be using.
And the inspiration was multiplied by everyone in the class having a wonderful time together!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Barely in the Bag

It's time to get ready to go to the AQS show in Paducah! And what could be better than sewing a new bag to carry. Especially one made from a beautiful fabric I purchased at the Houston IQA show about 9 years ago!
This is batiked handwoven hempcloth from Thailand and (after washing) is not quite 14" wide.
I purchased a commercial pattern (See & Sew..."Yes! It's Easy!" claimed the front) for a teardrop shaped bag. I have always wanted one of those easy-on the-back styles.
It has an outside zippered pocket covered with a flap, a cell-phone size pocket on the side gusset, and a zipper opening to the lined inside.
This time I thought about it, and remembered to choose a light color lining fabric!

Ooooooo! pretty dragonflies in gold! Maybe I'll be able to see inside this bag, as opposed to the ones with dark linings. Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself what is really practical: a dark lining that will show no a place only you should be looking anyway!....or a light lining that will allow you to find what you are looking for!
There's an inside pocket, which I made from a purple scrap, so I can see that against the lining!
I thought I might like to make this pattern more than one time, so I ironed
the tissue paper pieces onto light-weight interfacing.

After that I rolled the fabric out and pressed it, then proceeded to arrange the pattern sections. It was no good following the pattern layout, due to the narrow width of this wonderful fabric, but of course I paid attention to the grainline arrows. I did decide to give up on some fancy matching-across-the- seams idea...I am not really into haute couture! (Cherry-cherry is the French expert around here...did I get it right?)
The bag and the lining used the same pattern pieces.
So I got them all cut out and ready to go.
All I needed were two 12" zippers, a rectangle ring,and a slider. All items I assumed one would find in the J-A. Big Box store!
Yes, you are luck! All I could get were two 14" zippers, and then found the instructions called for cutting off 2" anyway! And no hardware the size required.
No problem! I was soon to head off on a cross-state trip that would take me right by the Sewing Studio in Maitland (every fabric you could possibly need!) and near to Rainbow's End ( probably the biggest quilt shop in the state).
I was horribly disappointed. Neither had the 1.5" slider or rectangle ring. Both had lots of beautiful bag patterns...but the hardware selection seems to be disappearing.
I came home and used whatever I could find...a slightly too-small D-ring, and a lovely pearlized plastic slider buckle.

By this time I'd stoppped work on the outside until I could get the hardware, and started sewing the lining. Uh oh...that went together like a child's drawing of an ameoba. I was not feeling good about the outside with my fabulous fabric, since I knew the patterns pieces were identical.

Well, let's just say I finally got it made, and it doesn't look too bad. But the side pieces certainly are not the same size as the gusset, and I knew slip-stitching the lining around the zipper opening was not nearly enough to keep it from hanging loose like a limp bag-in-a-bag! That had to be tacked a few plces from the inside.
OK, so I managed, and the bag is fine...except, having carefully followed the picture on the front (as the instructions were so terrible and the markings lacking or useless), I find it is actually is reversed. Meaning I am right handed, so I hang a shoulder strap on my left shoulder, and this bag really goes on the right shoulder, if you want the outside pocket on the outside!
Maybe it's just me.....?
Well, here it is:

Look for me carrying it in Paducah!
If I'm crazy, I may try it again couldn't hurt!
But I won't be buying another big pattern company pattern for a loooooong time.