Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Full Report

Ruth asked for a full report on the art quilting class and here it is. I get a newsletter from Quiltique, a very good quilting shop and Berina dealer in Henderson about once a quarter. I've looked at a lot of their classes, but I can rarely join a class that meets more than once. I am also not really interested in taking a class on traditional quilting. I might make a traditional quilt (with some very untraditional fabrics) sometime, but I have a LOT of books on quilting and don't really need instruction. But when I saw this class on Your First Art Quilt and it was scheduled for a day we were actually in Nevada with no other meetings planned, well, I signed right up.

The class was going to cover material in Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. I took the book to Maui in order to get started with the Exercises, but as with most projects that I took to Maui, I never opened the book there. Like most good procastinators, I opened the book Thursday night and started some of the exercises Friday evening. The one thing that I knew I needed for the class was a photograph to use as a starting inspiration. It had to have strong graphic lines and not too much detail. After much dithering around I picked this one:
I have a ton of green fabric, even some orange, but strangely enough, no yellow. So off to JoAnne's (conveniently having a President's Day Sale) for some yellow fabric fat quarters (and a few green. You never know). I also got some beads for the stamen. After washing and ironing a ton of fabric, picking out some Maderia thread for quilting and the center part of the flower and packing up my sewing machine and supplies, I was ready for the class Friday night.

I got up early and even had a shower. I got to the store before it opened at ten. The class was supposed to have twelve students and that's all the seating that was available. As it turns out, only eleven people turned up, and I ended up with the empty seat next to me. I shouldn't have worried about reading the book. Everyone had a copy, but I doubt anyone else had actually opened it. What was most interesting was that all the women in the class except one were not quilters. They made handbags or did stamping or were art majors looking for other artistic outlets. Two of the women came all the way from Laughlin.

The instructor had been doing art quilts for a long, long time and was really trying to get more art quilters in the Las Vegas area. She's going to have a hard time. The two art majors sat behind me. They were both from Boston, only in Vegas because of their husband's jobs. Both of them could not wait to move back east again.

The class started out with a discussion of art basics; color, line, size, shape, value, balance. and texture. The instructor had dozens of examples. She even had a series of six small quilts (8 1/2" x 11"), all inspired by the same photograph of poppies against a dark rock wall. Each quilt had a "rocky" dark background, red flowers and green leaves. The first two were quite abstract. She was trying to show that a photograph could be an inspiration even if you don't copy it exactly, but only borrow the colors or shapes. What she wanted us to do was to take a single sheet of background fabric, put fusible webbing (glue) on other pieces of fabric, then cut the fused fabric into shapes and iron the fused fabric onto the background fabric. That's not what I wanted to do, of course.

I wanted an artistic looking quilt. I wanted to make a frame for the flowers, then spill the largest flower outside of the frame. So I started fusing and cutting. You actually need to cut the reverse shape from the fused fabric, so a couple of petals were cut the wrong way around. I also needed to double up the fabric behind the overlapping petals as the edges of under lapped petal was showing through. Once the petals were fused and cut, I needed to sew the frame. This was all done by eye. I still don't know what the finished size will be.

Is it still called frogging if you are ripping seams? I was thinking ahead of the project, so I sewed the top two pieces to the middle piece before sewing the side panels. Whoops! Rip the seams, sew the side panels and go BACK and sew the top and bottom panels. Although the class was supposed to last until 4:00 pm, by 3:00 pm the natives were getting restless. One woman had already left. The rest were packing up. We did a quick display of what we had finished (not much for most people) and described what we had to do next. Of all the quilts there, only one of them was at all interesting -- an abstract of the Old North Church in Boston with several photos on fabric. Some evaluation sheets to fill out and we were done.

My husband says there are three reasons to take a class: 1) To get off your duff and actually learn/work on a project you know you need/want to do, but are not doing on your own. 2) To meet like minded people, and 3) to learn something from others. This class definitely covered the first point. I might not be able to work on this again before James leaves for Maui for a week on Wednesday (I am not going with him), but I will finish it while he is gone. Either I finish it or throw it out. No quilting UFOs! The second objective was not met. Several people came with other friends and I did not actually meet any like minded people there. The instructor was experienced (she saved me from making a horrible error by using some red fabric I had brought and steered me to the lovely purple) and was very, very helpful to everyone there. But I really didn't like her quilts. They were all overdone, twee, and messy. As the sample above, I like geometric, bold, and simple. I do think I learned several things. I'd like to continue with the workbook and maybe go back and practice basic quilting, but I don't know if I will take another art quilt class unless it is with Ruth B. McDowell. She's my inspiration.


Chiasmata said...

I'm glad you had a decent quilt class. It is hard to randomly meet like-minded people. I really like your quilt. I agree that some can be really fussy and pedantic, but big geometric shapes are great. Have fun finishing off your creation!

Ruth said...

Well, I give you an A+ on that report. Very nice. I wish it could have been the perfect class, but I love what you have accomplished. lol like-minded with people who want to go shovel white, cold stuff? lol Nah.

Meari said...

Sounds like quite a class. Too bad you didn't meet anyone "like minded". Good luck on finishing it!