Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Peering Out of the Darkness: Quilt National 2015

My mom and I just got back from the opening of Quilt National 15 at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens OH, and it was a really wonderful trip for so many reasons.  Later in the week I'll share some more pictures of the opening and our trip, but today I want to focus on the piece I have in the show.  I'm so excited to have been a part of such a wonderful exhibit and so happy to finally be able to share my piece here.  The entries were due last September, so I was actually working on this last summer. In my brain it feels like old work, and I've been really anxious to share it.  One of the best parts of the opening was that each artist was given two minutes to speak about his or her piece, and I think the recordings/videos from that are going to be on youtube.  If they get posted I'll share the links.

This piece had been brewing in my head for a long time, and I was pleased to finally be able to make it.  I talked about the process a fair amount here, and I mostly just want to share the final pictures now.

Peering Out of the Darkness, Shannon Conley, 2015 50" H x 42" W
Artist Statement: This wintry night scene is designed to capture the relationship between us, standing alone in the darkness, and the piercing lightness of the world outside.

I wanted to explore the ideas of ambiguousness and of taking away, of suggesting. The feelings of the woman staring out the window are up to you- is she hopeful? Sad? Desperate? Inspired? I wanted her expression to be sufficiently unclear that the interpretation reflected the feelings and situation of the viewer rather than the artist.


Peering Out of the Darkness, Shannon Conley, 2015, detail

The piece started from completely white fabric which was painted (with all different colors of mostly latex housepaint, but also screen printing paint and shiva paintsticks), cut, and quilted.  For me, the dual shadows--those projected within the piece, (i.e.in the bottom section) and those projected behind the piece (i.e. when it is hung away from the wall) are a critical part of the composition.  I was really pleased with the way it was hung in the Dairy Barn and will show some more pictures of it hanging later in the week.

Peering Out of the Darkness, Shannon Conley, 2015, detail

Peering Out of the Darkness, Shannon Conley, 2015, detail

There are many thread colors throughout the piece, including incorporation of metallic threads, so that from afar it looks very grey and muted but up close there is lots of variation.

Peering Out of the Darkness, Shannon Conley, 2015, detail

I'm linking up to Nina-Marie's as always!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Art Quilt Entry




It's time once again for the fabulous Blogger's Quilt Festival.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you should- it's always a great opportunity to find lots and lots of fabulous new quilts and bloggers.

If this is your first time visiting here, thanks for clicking through and I hope you'll come back in the future!

This is my entry in the Art Quilt category, a piece called Gloria Patri which I finished earlier this year.  You can see more about it by clicking the Gloria Patri tag in the sidebar.

It's part of a series I'm working on depicting pieces of the Anglican Liturgy, and inspired by the style and motifs found in illuminated manuscripts.  The wording is printed with my handmade silk screens, and features the text of the Gloria Patri (Gloria Patri, et Fili, et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saeculum saeculorum amen.) spiraling out both directions from the center.  The central Gloria is an ambigram, that is it reads "gloria" both right side up and upside down.




 I then quilted the piece around all the letters and then with the floral/branchy/leafy fillers.  The quilting colors ranged from various shades of red/blue through to green/purple.  Unfortunately, once I was finished with the quilting, the whole thing felt washed out, so I went back and painted in all the quilting motifs.







The label reads "There is no top and no bottom, there is only the center.  How to regain the center when equilibrium is lost?  Slow, repetitive, meditative stitching; slow repetitive, meditative prayer."  The piece feels to me like a meditation labyrinth, where pacing along a defined path give your brain and heart a chance to rest and refocus.

Many thanks to Amy for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival, and to all those who clicked through to see my quilt!

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Mini-Quilt Entry



Welcome to all those who clicked over from the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  As usual, Amy has done a great job organizing so if you haven't checked it out yet, please do.  



For those who are new here, I'm Shannon (from Moore OK) and I mostly make art quilts, but also love to make bags and attempt to make clothes.  I hope you'll consider stopping by again sometime.  

This is my entry for the mini-quilt category, and I made it as a donation for the annual SAQA auction.  For more information about this quilt, you can check out my previous post about it.

After working out my design (in this case using Adobe Illustrator)  I painted white polyester fabric with latex house paint in blue-grey-purple and then quilted.  The silhouette of the person is cut out of adhesive foil which I used as a stencil for shading in the silhouette with Shiva paintsticks. 





Finally I added more paint to the window frames and then cut out the windows. My goal was for the pieces to evoke thoughtfulness and reflection.  Maybe hopefulness or calm, or even anxiety or sadness.






This one was actually one of three I made at the same time, here you can see them all together; each just a bit different.



Thanks again to Amy for hosting this year's Blogger's Quilt Festival and to all those who clicked through to see my work.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Giveaway Winner

Random.org picked number 10, so Janice Paine-Dawes won the 1000 Quilt Inspirations Book Giveaway.  Thanks to everyone who commented!

Small Whole Cloth Quilt

If you're looking for the book giveaway,  click here.  There's still time to enter.  I'll draw a winner this afternoon around 5.

This quilt has been half quilted and pinned to my design wall for longer than I can remember.  The photo metadata says that I started this in May of 2012, and to be honest, I don't even know if I blogged about it.  Maybe?  It was mostly just a chance to practice my FMQ, but somehow I started it, got as far as the second picture in April 2013, and never got back to it.  Last week I decided to go ahead and finish it (it's about 24" square).  I spent a few hours quilting, then squared it up and bound it. I usually use the water-erasable blue markers to mark my quilts (they come out of everything I've ever tried them on), but I used crayola washable markers for this one because the blue was hard to see.  I know they wash out, but I was really scared, because the marker had been on there for sooo long.  Anyway, I soaked the quilt overnight with spray-n-wash and a bit of woolite, and then ran it through the rinse in the washer.  The marker did come out (yay), so I'll consider myself lucky on this one.  You can see all the red marker in the center.





Sorry for the bad colors in this next one, but I wanted to show how I block my quilts.  Most things I make are small enough to fit on my design wall, but I have never in the history of my sewing, managed to make something square.  As a result I always have to block my quilts when they're wet, squaring up to some element in the design that's supposed to be horizontal or vertical.  On this one that has the inner border, I blocked the inner border and the edge (you can see the billions of pins), stretching or mushing in till it lines up with my laser level (red lines).  Sometimes I block before squaring up and sometimes after (sometimes both if my quilt is really misbehaving), it just depends on the project.  (This quilt really is square, the picture is just crooked).


Here's a close-up of the quilting.  It's mostly 100wt silk thread in the center, metallic and polyester 40wt on the borders.  Definitely not perfect, but fun and finished!






Twirling through the Leaves, Shannon Conley, 24 x 24, 2015


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Midwest Metaphors-SAQA Regional Showcase

Our regional SAQA group has put together a showcase called Midwest Metaphors which opens this weekend at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City, MO.  My dragon quilt is in it (and made the flyer).  The show runs through June 27th, so if you're in the area, stop by and check it out.


Friday, April 24, 2015

More Tiling and a Book Giveaway

For details on the book giveaway,  just scroll to the bottom!

I've been talking about designing tiling designs in the workshop my mom and I took with Jenny Bowker.  Since then I've been working on actually turning one of my designs into a quilt.

These are the tile designs I started with.  I drew them to be as similar as possible except one has the dragon head and one has his tail.



Here's the computer mockup of what they look like tiled.  Again, sorry for the awful colors, it's just an attempt to get an idea.


I decided I'd make mine fusible applique and zig-zag around the edges with invisible thread.  Jenny encouraged me to make the blocks quite large (~16") since they're pretty detailed and would have more visual impact if they were larger, but I really really wanted to use up the little bitty pieces of fabric I had left from cutting out the animals in these two quilts.  It was really a lot of fabric, all with fusible already on it, but small weirdly shaped pieces.  As a result my blocks are about 11" (finished).  That really is too small, but I'm persevering!  Here are the blocks-  they'll be on a darker background and right now they don't line up right.  Hopefully this is because they each have a bunch of seam allowance (which will be turned under), but I think lining them up will be tricky.  I think they'll be more dramatic once I've quilted them, and the dragons definitely need eyes, probably a bead, but I'm liking them so far.



And now for the giveaway.  A long while back, a call for submissions came out for quilts to be included in a book called 1000 Quilt Inspirations: Colorful and Creative Designs for Traditional, Modern, and Art Quilts  My mom and I were both lucky to have quilts accepted into it, and after many months, hard copies finally arrived.  It's full of wonderful quilts,  definitely super inspiring eye candy.  A couple of things I really like, one is that (as the name suggests) it contains really a wide variety of different types of quilts.  The second is that it contains lots and lots of detail shots, so you can see up close what people have done or stitched.   I'm giving away a copy, just leave a comment below and I'll use random.org to draw a name on the afternoon of Friday May 1st.  Any kind of comment is fine, if you feel like it, tell me whether you're a pet person and if so, what kind of pets you have.



And of course, always linking up to Nina-Marie.




Monday, April 20, 2015

Attempts at a Tentmaker Design

On Friday I'll share more of the project I was working on in the Jenny Bowker class, but I just wanted to share one more exercise we did in the class.  One of the things Jenny encouraged us to do was try our hand at designing a tentmaker style piece.  The symmetrical ones are drawn as an 1/8th or 1/16th of a circle, and she showed us how to fold up our papers to draw them.  Really similar to our tile exercises, just with bigger blocks, more detail, and the intention of having only four "blocks" to make one symmetrical piece.  Here's the block I made, and last night I finally sat down in photoshop and colored it in.   I'm not planning to make it into a quilt, but it was really fun to draw and then see what happened when I repeated it, and I think the design is pretty.




This is what it looks like if you turn the outside corners to the inside (and with slightly different colors).  Still neat, but not quilt the original design idea I was going for.


And here's another one the real Tentmaker pieces that Jenny showed us (way! more complicated than mine).







Friday, April 17, 2015

Tiling

Last time I mentioned that my mom and I took a tiling workshop with Jenny Bowker on our last trip to Asilomar.  The class was a five day workshop and about half the time we spent just drawing and designing tiles, doing different exercises and watching the way patterns and designs repeat and change in the process.  Ever since I spent time in Spain in the late 90s, I've loved the look of Mediterranean and Islamic tiles, with their repeating patterns and bright colors, so it was fun to take a class with lots of drawing and designing things like that.

This was the first exercise: draw three lines (maybe with an echo on them) on a piece of paper folded into eighths and see what kind of patterns you get.  Pick your favorite and see what happens when you trace it out and start repeating the single tile.  In the second picture, you can see a variety of options for edges and corners, using pieces of the same original tile.



Next, practice with shapes.  The idea is to have a repeating tiling pattern, rather than a shape splotched down in the middle of a block, so the shapes go off the edge. We first worked with vessel shapes since they were easy to draw and then experimented with what happened when multiple shapes were used on the same block and what would happen if you changed the size of the shape within the block.  My first attempt (first picture left and second picture) used a single pot on the tile twice.  Coloring it in helps with seeing the pattern, and one of the things Jenny suggested was using slightly different colors on each tile, that is, if you have a purple pot, use different purples on each tile to give the kind of variation you might expect if you were tiling a wall with handpainted tiles. For these exercises I was just using a limited palette of colored pencils, but you get the idea.  For the second tile, I used two different pot forms




Here's another version of the same exercise, same pots as above but a bigger tile so they are more spread out.


One last pot attempt-  I didn't even color this one in since I felt like the proportions weren't quite right-  the top of the pot overlapped the bottom of the next one, but not enough to feel intentional, only enough to look uncomfortably close.


Here's a similar exercise with different shapes.  My mom drew some fish shapes, and I drew some mice.






We then practiced making tiling designs that had mirror image symmetry and rotational symmetry.  I somehow managed to skip the mirror image exercise, but jumped in with two feet into some designs with rotational symmetry.  We started by just drawing 1/8th of the tile on a diagonally folded square and expanding from there.  In the evening after the class, I took pictures of my tiles and colored/repeated them in photoshop.  The colors are pretty yucky looking- filling things in on the quick and dirty on the computer is harder than you might think but you get the idea.  One of the most important things Jenny emphasized was that you really have to look at how the tile repeats to see if you'll like it since many secondary patterns only emerge in the repeats.  

one tile

four together

many together
 On this one (above) I was really unpleasantly shocked by how strong the plaid feeling was.  I had no idea that would emerge.  Even if I changed the colors, it was still pretty dominant.  I love a plaid as much as the next person, but because of the way I drew the tile, It really became the main thing you see.

The one below was more successful on that front, I love the different patterns you get where each of the four corners intersect.  The only think I wasn't crazy about with this one is that all the elements were about the same width/weight, and I thought it needed a bit of variety.




After doing these exercises most of us picked a tile we liked and started interpreting it in fabric. One of the things she suggested we think about when designing was what kind of things and what amount of detail we were willing to applique.  For example, for turned edge applique my design with the thistle would have been nightmarish.  The other thing she talked about was what to do with the tiles.  Obviously you can make a quilt with just the tiles, and I think this would have a feel like a lot of the traditional pieced quilts, where secondary patterns emerge in block intersections etc. One challenge with this for me, is that I'm usually happier when my quilts have a specific focal point (part of the problem with my previous printed tile project- thanks LeeAnna!).  Jenny usually uses tiles as part of a larger project, which appeals more to my design sense.

Next I'll share the last tile I designed and my progress towards turning it into a quilt!