Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thom's Global Warming Quilt - Finished!

Dees, over at Works In Progress, reminded me about my brother's quilt, Global Warming, which Thom started while visiting us last summer. I posted about Thom and his quilt here. Dees reminded me that I promised to show pictures of the finished quilt.

art quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, anenome detail
art quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, puff detail
Above are two reminders from the previous post. Thom fell in love with some turquoise disc beads and envisioned them as the centers of anemone-like sea creatures (top picture). From this thought, his idea for an under-water scene, one that suggests changes we may see with global warming, emerged. The puffs, a barnacle-like sea creature (second picture), came into the equasion because a friend had just shown him how to make these puff forms using polyester organza wrapped around pebbles and tossed into boiling water. The puffs and turquoise discs were the two starting points for this quilt.

After returning home (Santa Cruz, CA), Thom made a trip down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he photographed fish. He then printed the fish on fabric using one of the commercially-available products that can be run through an ink-jet printer (more on photo transfers below). This picture shows how he cut out the printed fish (pinned to design wall to left and right of quilt) and began sewing them to the quilt.

art quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, fish detail
The finished quilt is 18 inches wide by 52 inches long. This is a size Thom has been exploring for a couple of years. I think he's working on another one as I write this and did others before Global Warming. It's a difficult size to photograph... long and narrow.

art quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming
When you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll have to scroll down to see it all, which makes it difficult to appreciate the whole. Therefore, I have divided it into thirds and put all three pictures together here in this post.

art quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, top detailart quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, center detailart quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, bottom detail
One interesting thing about Thom... he's more of a perfectionist than I am (although both of us share this trait to some extent). After he finished the quilt, he decided there were too many beads... that the top of the quilt was too heavy with beads. So he removed quite a lot of the water current beads from the top section. In case you're curious, here's how the top looked before removing the beads.

art quilt by Thom Atkins, Global Warming, top detail
I haven't seen Global Warming finished yet, but from his pictures, it seems mighty compelling! I love the texture and all the big and little elements in it. I'm willing to bet that when it's in a show, people will stand and look at it for a long time, perhaps pondering the significance of the message in it.

Transfer photos to fabric...

There are many ways to transfer your photos to fabric. I've tried a few of them, most recently in a quilt I'm making for my niece, Margaret. Surely, as I make progress on it, I'll post some pictures...

For Margaret's quilt, I used poplin cotton sheets and printed them with my inkjet printer. The brand I use is PhotoFabric, which I buy at Joann Fabrics in the craft department. I like it better than the kind available in the quilting supplies department. It's very easy to use... only four steps: print - peel away the paper backing - wash - iron. And you'll have permanent, washable pictures on fabric. The same company makes several types, including silk fabric sheets.

I believe the trick to really great photo transfers isn't in the fabric transfer product so much as in the quality of the image. Learning to work with Photoshop is a skill I've never regretted learning. It took time and patience, plus some books, a seminar and a class... but over and over again, I'm grateful for my acquired skills with this amazing photo editing program. Speaking of gratitude...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

Tomorrow is the day we set aside every year to be thankful. Generally we slip out of the thankful mode, except perhaps as we say grace before stuffing our bellies full of good food. This year, Robert and I decided to stay home and fix a very light and simple meal. All week I've been thinking about gratitude and fortune... particularly about how grateful I am for YOU... how special and important our blogging interactions are to me. Thank you! Have a beautiful day tomorrow and every day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bead Embroidery + Quilt Show + Bead Festival

Bead Embroidery

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, detail of bead bezels for pebbles
Here's a look at my current project. It's for my husband, Robert. Somehow, I'll mount it on (or in) a wooden, treasure box.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, piece in progress with pebbles in bezels
It began with these pebbles, which I collected from a beach on our island. I think of them as stepping stones... crossing a river maybe or going to another place (both intrepretations have spiritual implications). I made bezels for them by surrounding them with "tall stacks" and then joining the tops of the stacks. They are not glued in place.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, piece in progress for Robert's box
It's about 2/3 finished now and, if you look at the click-to-enlarge version, you'll see
  1. a bear and beaver (his totem animals) to help and guide him on his journey
  2. a heart (mine, of course)
  3. precious, itty-bitty, faceted tourmaline stones (extremely small holes, character building for me to sew them on using the smallest size 16 needle I have) for healing and unifying spirit, body and intellect
  4. labradorite chips because it stimulates intuition
  5. a beautiful, man-made, faceted ruby (a gift from a student in Phoenix), the stone of passion
  6. a cat (we both love cats)
  7. three little brass bells (to attract fairies)
  8. a piece of shell or barnacle I picked up at the beach
  9. branch angel-coral (to attract angels)
  10. leaves (we both love many different types of trees) because it's Fall and the leaves are so pretty this year
No clue what I'll do next with this piece, except that I know it will be solid beading. For the past two years of doing the Bead Journal Project, I've been playing around with using several fabrics on each piece and allowing them to show. For Robert's piece, I've returned to an encrusted style, which is really fun!


If you're in the Seattle area, or wish to travel to this currently very lush and green part of the country, you may want to come to the Bellevue Bead Festival! Organized by the Bead Factory, the same folks who do the Puget Sound Bead Festival in July, this one promises to have great classes and shopping opportunities!

I will be teaching two classes...
  1. Techniques of Bead Embroidery, an all-day class on Friday, Nov. 20. This is a wonderful introductory class for learning the four basic bead embroidery stitches, many fanciful variations (such as the bezels in my piece above), plus edging and fringing techniques. Students will make a sampler of these techniques to take home along with a comprehensive handout.
  2. Beaded Buttons, a half-day class on Saturday morning, Nov. 21. This is the best way to see if you like bead embroidery and to experiment with working improvisationally. I teach three basic techniques and several nice variations. Most students leave class with a finished button and a very good start to learning bead embroidery.
beaded button by Robin Atkins, bead artist
On display in my classroom, I will have all of my Bead Journal Project pieces along with many other examples shown in my books. Both classes still had openings as of a week ago. If you're a Beadlust reader and decide to take one of these classes, please come and introduce yourself before the class.

Quilt Show

Oh boy, oh boy!!! My bead/quilt friend, Lunnette, and I took a field trip off-island yesterday!

Penn Cove Pottery, gallery in Coupeville, WA
In addition to shopping the quilt/fabric shops in Anacortes, the primary purpose of the trip was to go to Penn Cove Pottery, a gallery near Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Here's an artist's interpretation of how the place looks. And, yep, that's almost how dismal/cloudy/rainy it was yesterday... outside.... INSIDE it was grand!

Yeah, it's a pottery place representing 9 very gifted and artistic potters. But through Nov. 28th, they also have an exciting exhibit of 18 art quilts and 2 wall hangings. Very worth our time (and expense of the ferry trip) to go see this work! Below are my favorites.

art quilt by Myrna Giesbrecht, Evolving Sampler
This one is Evolving Sampler by Myrna Giesbrecht. I especially liked the way she mounted the quilt on a stretched canvas, painted black... a very dramatic effect.

art quilt by Myrna Giesbrecht, Evolving Sampler, detail
I also liked the way she blended her colors in the non-focal area.

art quilt by Judie Hoyman, Somewhere
This one is Somewhere by Judie Hoyman.

art quilt by Judie Hoyman, Somewhere, detail
Judie printed (world maps and lettering) and hand-dyed the fabrics. Around the border are phrases which describe some of the positive and some of the negative things going on in the world, especially for girls and women.

art quilt by Judie Hoyman, Somewhere, detail
"Somewhere... a child is exploring the internet". "Somewhere... a little girl is being denied an education". It touched me and made me think about the importance of global awareness and sharing.

art quilt by Cinda Langjahr, A Clearing in the Woods
This one is A Clearing in the Woods by Cinda Langjahr.

art quilt by Cinda Langjahr, A Clearing in the Woods, detail
The quilting details and patterns really appeal to me in this quilt! I've never been very interested in learning machine quilting until I saw all the possibilities Cinda uses.

art quilt by Cinda Langjahr, A Clearing in the Woods, detail
This weekend is our annual Quilt Retreat at Camp Orkila on Orcas Island. There will be about 40 of us stitching for four days! I'll be working on a graduation quilt for my niece, Margaret. You'll see!