Saturday, July 30, 2016

Slice of Improv

I just love it when I get to see the finished projects from quilters who have taken a class with me!!!  Today, I get to share three quilts started during my Slice of Improv sessions with SCVQA Quilting 101.

First show and tell is from Ileane H, one of the Quilting 101 organizers.  Along with a fun variety of scraps and schnibbles, Ileane brought this wonderful ombre, organic stripe print that I just loved.  She sliced it up and incorporated it into many of her blocks.  She was fearless as she incorporated a great variety of techniques covered:  intersecting lines, floating units, 90-degrees and curves!!  She used a lovely eggplant colored linen blend for her background fabric, to which she added even more luscious texture through micro pebbling.    
Ileane H, "Slice of Improv" and Micro Pebbling
Karen F's "Slice of Improv Sampler" with Pops of Black & White 
Next up for show and tell is Karen F's "Slice of Improv Sampler."  Karen did a fabulous job of incorporating 28 "What If?" variations of the basic Slice and Insert technique, as she followed along with the handout!  Karen used a wonderful rainbow scheme into her rows, as she incorporated a festive variety of patterns & textures (dots, checkerboard, swirls and more!!).  But I especially love how she incorporated a fun variety of black and white prints that really pop!  I loved this addition so much that I have now added a fifth bin dedicated to storing black & white schnibbles for future Slice of Improv classes and projects!!   Thanks Karen!

Last up is Sandie E.  In the class, Sandie was working with cranberry background squares and making great progress on her improv pieced blocks.  So I was totally surprised when she sent me a picture of her latest finished top, "Ad Lib Strata Bubbles" featuring slice of improv piece border units!  Sandie started the beautiful strata columns in Rob Appell's Color Strata Quilts workshop.  When it came time to add a border, Sandie opted to incorporate Slice of Improv blocks.  They look like confetti sprinkled around the perimeter!!  Once again, her trusty feline friend, JR, came out to help model!  
Sandie E's "Ad Lib Strata Bubbles" as Featured with the Fabulous Feline Model JR
Thanks to Ileane, Karen and Sandie for the wonderful show and tell!  I've received a few teaser messages and pics of other Slice of Improv blocks and tops in progress...and can't wait to see them once complete!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Moroccan Inspired Interleave

Adding Variety to My Strip Sets
Now that most of my quilt challenge deadlines are met, I am excited to use this downtime in revisiting some of my favorite techniques and designs.

For my first round of experimentation, I chose to revisit Intriguing Interleaves. and add more variety to my starting strip sets.  I began by utilizing more strips within each strip set, while also introducing different widths.  In an effort to introduce a more modern element, I chose to work in all Kona solids, including two different neutrals (light grey and charcoal).  Here you can see the combination of colors, widths and ordering, which I thought were very exciting.

But how would they translate once they were sliced up and reassembled?!?  Time would tell as my Interleave quilt grew one inch at a time...

As the curves and transparency started to emerge, I grew more excited and encouraged!  These simple adaptations resulted in even more interest and movement!!

I just can't decide which orientation I like better?  Horizontal or Vertical?!?  
Moroccan Inspired Interleave, Finished Size 17" x 18"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Art After Dark

Painted CD and Scratching Tools
My local library hosts a free "Art After Dark" program for adults.  This month was all about scratched CD art.

The library had a stash of old CDs and DVDs that they had their volunteers paint the shiny holographic cd side black using acrylic paint.  Each participant received a painted cd, pencil for doodling and their choice of scratching implements:  nail, plastic fork or paper clip.

First, I used the pencil to divide and mark eight arcs.  When it came time to start scratching in my design, I first tried the nail, which was a bit difficult to grip but produced consistent results.  After trying both the fork and paper clip, which buckled a little producing inconsistent scratches, I returned to the nail to etch in a mandala.

Doug joined the fun, although he claims not to be artistic.  He too created a mandala, that resembled a spider's web.  I especially love the pebbles/pearls he etched into the outer ring...very quilty!!
Hers and His Scratched Art
Finished Scratched CD Mandala
 As I was wrapping up my mandala, I became aware that one of my neighbors was trying to get my attention.  She noticed the stack of quilting books that I had checked out and asked if I was a quilter too.  We chatted more about our quilting experiences and the vibrant quilting community here in the Bay Area.  I invited her to check out an upcoming quilt guild meeting and gave her one of my business cards to stay in touch.  I will be sure to keep a look out for her at our next meeting!!

What a perfectly delightful zen-filled evening!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Boutique Blow Out Bargains

My local quilt guild hosts a Boutique fundraiser as part of our monthly meetings.  Members donate books, magazines, fabric and notions, and the team of Boutique volunteers price them to sell at the next meeting (Books range from $1 to $7, magazines are generally 5 for $1, and fabric just a few dollars/yard).  I always check out each month's offerings and typically pick up some new fabric and/or reading material at a bargain price!
Boutique Sales, Notions Table

On average, the Boutique raises $500-600/meeting (which goes a long way in keeping membership costs down, as well as supporting our philanthropic efforts within the community).  However, not everything gets purchased and several boxes of goodies must be transported back to the storage unit.  Over the course of the membership, the collection of unsold items was approaching 75+ boxes and was quickly filling up the storage unit.  The Boutique volunteers came up with a brilliant idea to host a Boutique Sale at our July meeting, where members bring their own paper or cloth grocery bag and fill it with books, fabrics and notions for the bargain price of $5 per bag!!

It took an army of volunteers to transport and set out the 75+ boxes of goodies onto 20+ large tables!!  Many of our members arrived extra early to get first pick and fill their bags!  

I was sure to bring a bag just in case I found enough items to fill it.  I started to scope out the tables and found a book or two here, and then some fun fabrics over there, then some more books, more fabric, and soon my arms were full and I had a bag's worth of goodies!!   I found four fun books with great inspiration, along with fabric yardage ranging from a fat quarter to several yards including some Kaffe prints, stripes/plaids, novelty and several meters of this wonderful ethnic printed fabric (that one of the volunteers shared was an African Kanga cloth that creates wrap dresses/skirts).  While I have no immediate plans for any of the fabrics, I am on the look out for the perfect project to utilize that gorgeous Kanga fabric!!   
My Bargain Finds:  books, fabric and a Kanga cloth
I was just one of about 200 members that participated in the sales...and by the end of the meeting, the tables were mostly visible as just a few books and fabrics remained, and lots of empty boxes were stashed underneath!  Compared to the 75 jam-packed boxes that were laid out at the start of the meeting, the unsold items fit into 3 boxes total!!  One volunteer filled their SUV with all the broken down empty boxes and bins, and the remaining unsold items tucked in nicely in another volunteer's vehicle!!
Sales Success--Lots of Empty Boxes and Just a Few Books/Fabrics Left
Many thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers that made this sales such a huge success!!  It was truly a win-win-win scenario:  happy members/shoppers, empty storage unit and increased revenue to support the association's activities!!  Let's hope this becomes an annual tradition!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Meadow Mystery Quilt Along 2016: Fabric Selection

Do you love a good mystery?!?  Consider joining Cheryl over at Meadow Mist Designs for her annual mystery quilt along!!  Last year's quilt along was a total blast, as Cheryl does a fantastic job as pattern designer and quilt along host!  Each month from now until April 2017, Cheryl will reveal a new set of instructions (via email, blog post and facebook group), to construct a mystery quilt that will finish at 60" x 60".   You can get a sense of the process and designs, by checking out some of her past quilt alongs on her blog.

Some quilt along highlights include:
1.  It's totally FREE to play along!!  All you have to do is email Cheryl with your interest so you are added to the distribution list to receive the monthly instructions via email.
2.  Not keen on mysteries?!?  You can let Cheryl know and she will send you a picture of the final quilt design so you can plan accordingly.  But please, no spoiler alerts for those of us who are in for the mystery!!
3.  There is an option to join the Meadow Mist Designs Facebook Group.  There are almost 700 active members posting pictures of their fabric and progress, which is great for motivation and inspiration.
4.  There are some pretty sweet sponsors providing incentives for completing your quilt tops.  Last year, I won beautiful edge to edge custom quilting from Jan over at Quilting Among the Groves just for participating and posting a picture of my finished quilt.

July's set of instructions was all about fabric selection!  Cheryl provided us with information about fabric yardage requirements, along with helpful tips on fabric selection (solids or small scale prints that read as a solid, non-directional prints, and contrast considerations).  Armed with this information, I spent considerable time pulling fabrics, mostly from my stash.  As I typically buy half yards to one yard cuts, I needed to visit my local quilt shop for the Fabric E that required two and a quarter yard of a light value fabric.  Once that was purchased, I did a bit more fine tuning of my selections.  I am still torn on which Fabric A (left most fabric) to choose...dots in the top or fireworks in the bottom pic.  I've got a few more weeks to mull over my two options before the next set of instructions are revealed in August.  Feel free to vote on your favorite by leaving me a comment!      
Choices!  Choice!  Two Options for Fabric A:  Dots or Fireworks?
And if you hate picking out fabrics, Cheryl has teamed up with two fabric shoppes to offer three different Meadow Mist Mystery quilt fabric kits!  You can simply purchase your favorite and play along!!

I can't wait until next month and seeing what will become of these fun fabrics!  I hope you will consider joining the fun--as we are just getting started!!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Jazz Impressions Exhibit

This past weekend was the opening reception for three new exhibitions at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles:  Wedding Dress: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; Mike McNamara:  Wedding Ring Explosion and Jazz Impressions (jazz inspired fiber art made by Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association members).  As part of the festivities, there was a lovely selection of refreshments, opening remarks by the museum staff, volunteers and invited guests, as well as live jazz music performed by San Jose Jazz U19.

Upon arrival at the museum, I made a bee-line to the Yvonne Porcella Gallery to scope out the Jazz Impressions exhibit.  There I was delighted to find an explosion of color, pattern and texture from the 45 pieces of fiber art on display, including quilts, garments and tuffets!

I especially enjoyed reading the artists summaries and learning how Jazz inspired their artwork.  Some artists chose to celebrate jazz by including musical instruments, music notes, sheet music and/or iconic jazz musicians into their abstracted quilted designs.  Other works of fiber art incorporated improvisation into their piecing and overall design.  Some art connected jazz music to nature with their beautiful landscape quilts.  There was quite the range of techniques and styles represented, which made it such a interesting exhibit.      

I was honored to have two of my own designs on display...
Orange You Glad I Got the Blues?, Not for Sale
Rhythm and Blues, Not for Sale
While my pieces are not for sale, many of the pieces are available for purchase.  This is an amazing opportunity to add new art into your life, while also supporting local artists and the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles!  It's a win-win-win situation!

Special thanks to the amazing team of volunteers that made this exciting new exhibit possible.  Countless hours were invested into this endeavor and the rave opening reviews are a testament to all their hard work and coordination!!  And many thanks to the SJMQT staff for making the FiberSpace available to feature local fiber artists.

The Jazz Impressions exhibit will be on display through August 21st.  Might I suggest checking it out during the August 12th-14th San Jose Jazz Summer Fest!?!  And be sure to check out Mike McNamara's amazing wedding ring quilts and the beautiful display of historical, cultural and contemporary wedding attire.  Together, the three fiber art exhibitions complement one another beautifully!  

Update:  Sit and Sew Radio featured the Jazz Impressions exhibition in their latest podcast episode:  The interview starts at minute 32 and even mentions yours truly, along with my "Orange You Glad I Got the Blues?" quilt!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Final Modern Block Makeover: Radiant Rungs

It's hard to believe, but this was the last of 12 monthly modern makeover block challenges as part of Modern Quilts Unlimited "Everything Old Is New Again" challenge series.  To close us out, Jacob's Ladder was chosen as the focus block.

For my block's unit, I drew inspiration from the rungs of a ladder, creating a band of gradated insert strips.  The side triangles were then filled in with rays.  Once this unit is combined with others, you not only get a ring formed by the bands, but a star also emerges within.   
Basic Block Unit and Quartet
I couldn't resist designing a larger quilt top using EQ7.  Oh the possibilities!!
6x6 Mock Up in EQ7
Online voting continues through July be sure to use your facebook profile to vote for your favorite(s) modern makeovers!
Radiant Rungs, Finished Size 12" x 12"
 While this may be the last monthly challenge...there is one challenge remaining!  Now we need to create a quilt using all 12 of our modern blocks for the challenge finale!  Fortunately, we have two months for this final round...wish me luck!
12 Rounds Complete--1 Left to Go!!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Back to Creative Strength Training Camp: A Slice of Black & White

I was back to Jane Dunnewold's Creative Strength Training Camp this week.  This week's action prompt inspired us to work with color within a 3x3 grid.  Starting with the first box, we were to add color and carry one of the colors into the next box.  Then new colors could be introduced into the second box, with a newly introduced color carrying into the next box...continuing along until all 9 squares were complete.

I was inspired by my Slice of Improv blocks, and inserted slices of black and white patterns into each of my nine squares.  I very much enjoyed the process of simply doodling away within each strip taking inspiration from many of my favorite free motion quilting motifs.
Slice of Black & White Doodle Fun
Now it was time to transform my grid with the use of color and more pattern.  Initially, I focused on coloring in the bands, but soon realized the the background area needed something more.  Drawing inspiration from the band's design and coloring, I created accompanying low volume prints.  Many of the prints looked like floating confetti---which seemed to be my way of celebrating week 3 of Creative Strength Training!
Celebrating Camp Session 3
It has been fun seeing what my fellow campers have created using the same prompt, especially since there are a variety of mediums in use:  water color, acrylic, markers, pen, and fabric.  I am looking forward to seeing what creative inspiration awaits us in Week 3 of CST Camp!  I hope you will consider joining the fun!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 Hoffman Challenge

This year's Hoffman Fabric Challenge introduced a number of exciting enhancements:

  • This is the first time they are used a digitally printed fabric, Crystalia, as the challenge fabric.  Digital printing offers a number of advantages to the environment, flexibility in translating the original artwork into textile print, but ultimately breaking the barrier to the typical 18-color limit available with current screen printing!!  Just look at that brilliant burst of bold and vibrant color all contained within one print!!  
  • Even more exciting is the fact that the challenge fabric was offered in two versions:  black and white!
  • The organizers also debuted a new Home Decor category (replacing the former doll category).
  • They also switched to digital entries for the first round of judging (translation--providing the ability for participants to work right up to the deadline without losing any time for shipping actual quilts for judging!!)

Crystalia Digital Prints Deconstructed!
This may have been the first Hoffman challenge fabric that really appealed to my aesthetic.  I just loved the different butterfly designs, and all that amazing color!!  Oh the quilt design possibilities!  

Initially, I set out with a game plan to create one large butterfly mandala (surprise, surprise!).  Having spent an entire weekend fusing and cutting out 8 repeats of the various butterfly motifs (200+ butterflies), I was excited to get my zen on.  Starting with the smaller butterfly motifs, I would construct the inner rings and work my way out with larger and larger motifs.  However, each mandala design would fizzle out as I approached the 3rd ring, and I would begin anew.

Since the inner rings had appeal, I adjusted course and created a bunch of smaller mandalas.  Individually, I loved my mini mandalas, but their beauty was muddled when I tried to combine them all into one composition (and they were close to exceeding the size restrictions!!)

So I started to disassemble the mandalas and experiment with alternate layouts.  I kept two of my favorite mini mandalas, and added in a few smaller mandalas, grids and stacks.  These new layouts reminded me of framed butterfly displays, so I set out to create several miniature quilts that would be finished/framed (aka bound), and ultimately mounted onto a larger background quilt.  Finished size was still a concern, but not as pressing as the rapidly looming deadline, since I went from creating one finished quilt to a total of eleven quilts.  Oh--did I forget to mention that this was all occurring one week prior to the 6/30 deadline--what was I thinking?!?  With a game plan in mind, I got to work stitching down the butterflies.  Almost immediately, my needle kept gumming up, and would produce uneven stitches (if it stitched at all!)  This proved to be extremely frustrating, until my Brother and much needed alcohol came to my rescue.  My Bernina can be a bit finicky at times, so I pulled my ever reliable Brother sewing machine which was more cooperative, provided I use rubbing alcohol to wipe off the needle in between each and every butterfly!    
"If plan A doesn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters--204, if you're in Japan."-Claire Cook
Having lost far more hours than originally budgeted, panic began to set in.  I started to rethink my game plan and look for more simplified designs.  In between butterfly sets, I would stretch my legs and audition modified layouts on the studio floor.  I had a hard time letting go of any of my mini quilts and as a result, I found myself recreating the same layout over and over.  So I turned to Doug to bring a fresh perspective to my design dilemmas.  I gave him the rough dimensions needed, handed him the blocks and simply watched on as he opened my eyes to some new design possibilities!   Whereas most of my design were laid out horizontally, I noticed that Doug's designs tended to be more vertical.  Following his lead, I followed suit and came up with a few possibilities...which I continued to rethink up until the very end!  Even Panda wanted to get in on the action...or should I say distraction!  Clearly she thought it was time for belly rubs...why else would I be crawling around on the floor?!?
Setting My Sights Higher!
As my mini quilts were coming together, it was time to set my sights on the background quilt.  I auditioned three background fabrics:  using the backside of another fabric from the Crystalia collection (which would earn me bonus points with the judges, but seemed too washed out), a light lime green solid (which was an improvement, but stilll seemed pale) and finally a robin's egg blue solid (which I immediately loved).
Auditioning Backgrounds
I imagined mounting my butterfly displays on an embossed wall-papered backdrop, and set out to free motion quilt a faux-embossed, whole-cloth quilt!  Yes, much of my time, effort and quilting would be completely covered up once my butterfly displays were mounted in place...but I hoped this attention to detail would impress the judges.  Extra-wide blue painter's tape was used to mark out alternating rows widths that were filled in with figure eights and a large floral motif, stitched in a variegated lavender Aurifil 50-weight thread.  As these are two of my favorite motifs, and I was able to stitch edge to edge, the quilting was completed in just a few hours!  
My Faux Embossed, Wall Paper Back Drop
White 50-weight Aurifil thread was used to add Free-motion quilting details into the backgrounds of each of the mini butterfly displays.  I started out by simply stitching one filler design around each of the butterflies.  As I found my free motion groove, I started breaking up the background space by stitching in mats, arcs, feathers and more!
Hand-crafted Butterfly Displays
More Free- Motion Quilted Fun
This year's challenge was co-sponsored by Aurifil thread.  Quilts that use Aurifil threads visibly (ie. thread painting, embellishment, beading, etc) are eligible for one of three Best Use of Aurifil Awards.  In total, eleven different spools of 50-weight Aurifil threads were used for applique, quilting, binding and final assembly of my quilt    
Aurifil Thread Line Up
I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but suspected an all-nighter might be necessary to wrap up the loose ends and meet the entry deadline.  But then I was gifted with a quilt challenge miracle:  a facebook post announcing a 1 week deadline extension!!  After verifying the legitimacy of this announcement by checking three different sources, I decided to celebrate by take a much needed break.  My plan was to get a good night's rest to help me recharge so I could tackle the finishing details the following morning.  Instead of waking up feeling refreshed and energized, I woke up sick and spent most of the weekend on the couch or in bed fighting a virus that packed a punch!  Luckily I managed to muster enough energy to finish up the binding/finishing and I celebrated the Fourth of July by submitting my quilt entry...a day ahead of the revised deadline!!  
Butterfly Boxed Sets, Finished 34" x 42"
Artist Summary:  “Butterfly Boxed Sets” showcases the brilliance and beauty of the digitally printed Crystalia challenge fabric.  Each framed butterfly display features a hand-crafted artistic arrangement of vibrant butterflies mounted on a textured white back splash.  Set against a faux-embossed wallpaper (free motion quilted whole cloth quilt) this exquisite 10-piece collection is ready to migrate with this year’s Hoffman trunk show to a quilt show/guild meeting near you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Creating Colorful Kaleidoscopes

I've been on a real mandala kick lately.  So imagine my delight when, just today, I discovered an online Kool Kaleidoscope Painter program.

I feel it is my duty to warn you that mandalas and kaleidoscopes can be very addicting...especially when this program makes it so simple to create such stunning kaleidoscopes all with your mouse!   You can experiment with background colors, brush stroke size, and special effects.  With a simple click, you can set it on "Auto Draw" and the program will draw a kaleidoscope all by itself!!

And unlike a typical kaleidoscope, this one allows you to capture your newest creation and save it to your computer!  Here is just 5-10 minutes of playtime using this fun program!!   Oh the quilting possibilities!!!

Happy kaleidoscope creating!!
Kaleidoscope Kraze

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cherrywood's Lion King Challenge Part 3: The Finish

Time to Pull It All Together
I had my black and white mandala design ready and it was now time to fill in the color, pattern and texture!  Easy peasy, right?!?

Surprisingly, this is where I had my most designing doubts!  When auditioning different cherrywood fabrics, I really liked how challenge bundle golds popped against the brilliant blues, and decided to add some a pop of teal and raspberry.

With my accent colors finalized, the actual mandala construction went surprisingly quick, thanks to raw edge fusible applique!  I did have to be careful about the construction order and using the available fat quarter yardage mindfully, but otherwise, I enjoyed watching my mandala grow and bloom!    
Mandala Magic
Before fusing it all down and committing to the final design, I started to worry whether 60% or more of my quilt used the official Lion King challenge bundle of golds and black fabric.  Given the organic shapes, it was difficult to calculate surface area.  After showing it to several of my quilting friends, someone suggested I contact the organizers to get their take.  Karla Overland had a fast response and said it was a bit close and suggested I swap out the white zebra prints for a gold.  I greatly appreciated her feedback but was sad to lose my lovely zebra print.  So I compromised and swapped out half of the zebra hearts with the black solid, which I then free motion quilted some zebra strips on for the reverse image.  One of the swapped out zebra print hearts found a new home on my quilt label, which was a great match to the fun zebra print used as the quilt back!
I Love My Zebra Stripes!
I love my quilt title:  Circle of Life.  It seemed the perfect fit for the challenge theme, as well as my mandala design!  

I had a lot of fun using Aurifil 50 weight threads to add quilted texture and special details throughout my quilt.  I discovered a few new border designs that I plan on using in future quilts as they were both beautiful, as well as lots of fun to stitch.
Quilting Details
More Quilting Details
Here is my Artist Summary submitted with my application:
"Circle of Life" celebrates African life, art and nature. Hand-drawn abstracted animal prints depict armored crocodile scales, zebra stripes, leopard rosettes, bongo antelope stripes and a geometric giraffe coat. The free-motion quilted accents were inspired by African weaving and textile prints, including five Adinkra symbols: Adinkrahene (chief/king-three centered concentric circles) for greatness/leadership/royalty, Akoma (heart) for love/patience/tolerance, Kukuromtie (thumb/spiral in yellow petals) for cooperation, Awurade Baatanfo (God the Mother scrollwork along base of hearts) for nurturing spirit and Owo Foro Adobe (snake climbing a raffia tree along outer teal accent border) for doing the impossible/persistence/diligence.
Circle of Life, Finishes 20" x 20"
And now the hardest part:  waiting for the notifications going out via email on 7/8!  This year, they will be selecting 120 finalists to join the travelling exhibit.  Given the wild success of their Wicked challenge, I knew the bar would be raised this time around.  Based on the little sneak peaks that I've seen posted on the Cherrywood Facebook page and elsewhere on the web, the judges will have their work cut out for them!  This will certainly be a spectacular exhibit!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cherrywood's Lion King Challenge Part 2: The Mandala Design

Time to Create My Mandala Design
Now that I had my palette of abstract animal prints prepared, I needed to tackle a mandala design to house them all!

In additional to researching animal print designs, I was also busy researching African culture, symbols and art via Pinterest and my local library.  As I uncovered a cool design or motif, I would add it to my sketchbook with a few notes for future reference.  I found a lot of inspiration within the Adinkra symbols that are used with African textiles!  Many of them would translate nicely into shapes and/or free motion quilting designs within my mandala!

Two full journal pages worth of inspiration was exciting but also a bit overwhelming!  Moreoever, there was little hope of fitting them all into a 20"x20" quilt as required by the challenge rules.  To help with organization, I created flash cards that I pinned to a small design board.  My favorites were typically pinned along the top/center.
Design Inspiration & Organization!

Whenever I started sketching a new draft, I would gather a few cards containing my favorite motifs and once they were incorporated into my design, I would remove them from the design board.  When it was time to start a new mandala design, all cards were returned to the design board and the process recommenced.

As you can see, I went through several reiterations of my mandala designs.  You will likely recognize which motifs were my favorites, as they reappear over and over.  As I kept hitting a design dilemma, I opted to take a little break and return with fresh eyes and a fresh start!
Mandala Drafts & Duds
After all these dead end designs, I needed to find a way to simplify my mandala design process.  Initially I would sketch out the entire mandala and all 4-8 repetitions.  And when I encountered a mistake, I would then need to erase all 4-8 repetitions and draw 4-8 new repetitions.  This proved to be both very wasteful as well as frustrating!!  And here is when I had my a-ha moment...why not use a set of hinged mirrors and simply draw one quadrant only!?!?
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall--Who's the Smart One Now?!?
After 4-5 mandala designs, I was narrowing down on which designs, order and flow worked and which needed to be scrapped entirely!  Thanks to my brief break, I was able to sit down and start anew and watch my mandala emerge...alleluiah!  I was so excited about my newest mandala design that I got ahead of myself and started to add color (which turned out to be too soon and all wrong!).  But it was easy enough to create a black and white master copy.  I used a black marker to indicate outline of shapes and a finer black pen to depict free motion quilting designs.
Master Mandala Complete!!
My next post will cover how I incorporate my abstract animal prints, accent Cherrywood colors and free motion quilted texture into the final design!!
Ready to Transform My Master Mandala into Color, Texture and Pattern!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Cherrywood's Lion King Challenge Part 1: The Fabric

Cherrywood Lion King Challenge Bundle
After May's flurry of quilt finishes, my number of June posts has been a bit sparse.  And while you may be worried that I've taken a bit of a hiatus from quilting--nothing could be further from the truth.  There has been a whirlwind of activity in the quilt studio and I finally have some blogworthy news to much so that I will be breaking up this most recent finish into three separate posts.

Back in October 2015, Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics announced they would be hosting a new quilt challenge, but hadn't revealed the theme nor challenge bundle.  Regardless, given the huge success of the Wicked Challenge, as well as my love of Cherrywood fabrics, I signed up and reserved my challenge bundle sight unseen!  A few months later, they revealed the King of the Jungle theme, along with the challenge bundle featuring three tones of gold with one black.  A week or so later, Disney gave Cherrywood permission to use "Lion King" as the official challenge theme.

Inspiration Found in Local Quilt Shop

As the 7/1 deadline approached, I started to ponder design ideas and thought it would be fun to create a jungle themed mandala (more on my mandala design will be covered in the next post).  But first, I wanted to transform the challenge fabrics and create my own original prints inspired by African animals.  For inspiration, I turned to Pinterest, my local library and even my local quilt shop, where I found several bolts of animal prints!  Originally, I envisioned four quadrants, with one section featuring a different African animal:  zebras, leopards, tigers and giraffes.  After borrowing a number of children's books about Tigers, I learned that tigers are native to Asia and as such, would not fit into my African themed mandala.
Abstract Animal Prints Sketches

I opted to create more abstract representations of the various animal prints.  I drafted a few ideas in my sketchbook and scratch paper.  Some designs came more easily to me, while a few needed more fine tuning.

Zebra Stripes

I decided to tackle zebra stripes for my first print, as I had found a small zebra stripe stencil at a local craft shop.  While the rules require you to use all Cherrywood solids for the quilt top/binding, white is an exception, as Cherrywood does not make/sell white hand dyed fabrics.   For stabilization, I ironed on a 6"x 20" piece of freezer paper to the backside of each of my fabrics.  Having the freezer paper in place made it much easier to use a black micron pen to outline the stripes, and then fill in with diagonal tick marks.  It was fun to watch the fabric transform with these repetitive lines.

Layers of Creating Giraffe Geometric Print

Next up was my giraffe print.  I began by marking wonky vertical lines every inch or so across the length of fabric.  From there, I bisected each wedge into smaller areas.  A brown paint brush tipped micron pen was used to add hash marks over these marked lines.  Finally, a fine orange micron pen was used to fill in each area with a spiral.

After learning that tigers were not native to Africa, I needed to find a replacement.  I discovered the bongo antelope had a reddish-brown coat with vibrant white lines.  Using white acryllic paint, I recreated these white stripes along the darkest brown/gold challenge fabric.

Leopard Rosettes

I went back and forth on whether to create cheetah or leopard print.  After going through several kids books on both animals, I was drawn to the rosette clusters of dots associated with leopards.  These may have been the hardest for me and required multiple sketches.  I started with a thick black paint-tip micron pen to create abstract U's and C's, along with amoeba like shapes for my first layer.  I then used an orange pen to fill in the centers of the rosette shapes.

Last up was creating crocodile scales.  A darker green micron pen was used to draw lines at different intervals along the length of a light green Cherrywood solid.  I then created boxes, which were filled in with circles and spirals to repesent the armored scales of the crocodile.

My Fun & Fabulous Five Abstract African Animal Prints (left to right):  Bongo, Giraffe, Leopard, Crocodile and Zebra
Be sure to check out my next post, where I will unveil my mandala design and process...and finally how I incorporate these fun prints and free motion quilting into the overall design!!
A Blank Canvas and Fabric Palette Await Design Inspiration