Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crazy for embellishment

Among the many crafts I do, I have to say the one that I enjoy the most is embroidery.  I know how to quilt, and find it okay as a creative outlet, but I thoroughly enjoy crazy quilting, which allows me to make crooked seams and use a variety of fabrics, and the best part is that I get to embroider the heck out of it!

A couple of years ago, I joined a free class at a nearby quilt shop, the Shibori Dragon.  It was a Crazy Quilter's class, and since I've always liked crazy quilting, I thought it might be fun to learn some new things and maybe meet other women with similar interests. 

Three years later, I'm still taking the class, and love it.  The instructor, Teresa White, is very experienced, and gives us great guidance.  She and several others in the class have become my friends, and I look forward to each month's get-together.  However, as one friend put it, it is the most expensive free class we've ever taken!  Because you can never have enough fabric, books, or embellishments, and we are all hoarders, get the idea. 

My name tag for class--we were all required to make one!

Anyway...the first year, we were going to work out of the Piecemaker's Times and Seasons calendar for 2009.  This quilt was largely black-and-white in color scheme, and many of us decided to work in that color palette.  I, however, needed more color.  So I added in shades of purple and burgundy, as well as gray and some greens.  My first block turned out fine, but I like my second block better.  These were LARGE 14" square blocks, and after two, well...I was completely bored with the color palette.  And it took me a year to realize it.  :)

My first block
Detail photos below:


My second block

 Details of the second block

The second year, we all managed to get copies of the Piecemaker's Times and Seasons calendar for 2001, which features gorgeous blocks done in seasonal color palettes and themes, as well as much more embroidery.  I LOVE this calendar!!  I get lots of inspiration from looking at its pages.  However, many of us have noted that what they show on the cover is not the same as what's on the inside.  But that's OK.  :)  This calendar inspired me to work different, smaller blocks as color studies, and I have to say that creatively, this approach is much better suited to my mood-based style of working.  Somehow I will work them all into a cohesive quilt, but until then...I'm having fun. 

This year, we're using both of the previous calendars as references, but we've also added the 2002 calendar, as well.  I have a "thing" for trees and leaves, as well as flowers, and this calendar inspires my tree fetish.  :)  Who knows?  I may actually make this one according to pattern someday!!  :) 

My first color-study block was inspired by two fabrics, a koi print and a leaf print, both with similar colors.  So this block developed into a study in gold, salmon, moss, cream, and tan.  I had difficulty taking a photo of the block straight-on, so the full-size block is skewed a bit from my angle in taking the pictures.  I assure you that it is not trapeziod-shaped!



The second finished color-study block was inspired by the central print of a blooming willow, which was another Asian-inspired print.  The colors I extrapolated from it were browns, dark green, fern green, purples, blues, and dusty pinks, as well as gold. 




These color-study blocks are fun for me, and I'm really enjoying creating them.  For continuity, I've included either pieces of the same fabrics in each block, or the same print/fabric in a different colorway.  I also want to make sure there is at least one hand-embroidered panel image in each block.  One color that seems to be consistent in each block is gold--many of the asian fabrics I use have gold accents, so I tend to pick that up as a "metal" and thus, a neutral, in my blocks.  I probably do this because in beading, a metal is what balances a piece, and unifies it.  So...craft crossover!!  Woohoo!!  All of the squares use tiny flower sequins I have found at Cartwright's.  I have two unfinished blocks in progress at the moment--one is gold, red, white, and black, and the second is in shades of teal, peach, yellow, and gold. 

The beauty of modern crazy quilts is that you can cross the lines, use all kinds of amazing fibers and hand-dyed goodies, as well as all the beading you can do!  I love it!

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