If you’ve been following my last few blog entries, you’ll be happy to know that I finally came up with a plan to make a quilt entry for Radical Elements, called Blue Wing Chair. Here are my journal notes that led to the finished quilt with the theme of “blue”.
Brilliant Idea #3: While on a train I have a sudden brainstorm: rather than make a quilt with lots of small books attached to it, I’ll make the quilt one big book! It will be a quilt/book. By stitching two large pieces of Timtex together, one piece can roll back to an open “page” revealing a blue chair. It shall be reversible! It shall be brilliant!
I plot the construction and pat myself on the back. Here are the first steps:
- Make one piece of Timtex 25” x 36” for the left page and the other 22” x 36” for the right page (the quilt must measure 22” x 36”).
- Paint the 2 pieces of Timtex a golden yellow.
- Play with an old set of flash cards and write a paragraph with them. (I love flash cards!)
- Paint the flash cards yellow.
- Fuse and stitch the flashcards onto the yellow Timtex with my trusty BERNINA.
The joined flashcards make the left hand “page” of the open quilt/book. Tomorrow I’ll show you how I made the right “page” of the Blue Wing Chair.
For the traveling exhibit, Radical Elements, I documented the construction of my quilt, Blue Wing Chair, complete with false starts and major mistakes. The first idea for making this quilt was to attach real books to a backing. What a disaster! Here’s more from my design journal that will travel with the quilt:
Brilliant Idea #2: While on a train I decided to make my own lighter-weight books and attach (quilt) 12 – 14 of them onto Timtex. Each book’s story is illustrated with hand-carved stamps. Brilliant! Here’s the plan:
Determine the layout of the 12 – 14 hand made books on a 22″ x 36″ Timtex foundation. This requires math. Finally figure the layout after much trial and error.
Cut a heavy art cloth to size for the cover and prepare to glue on a beautiful blue paper. The glue is ancient and unusable. Decide to make folios of heavy paper instead.
Figure out the story sequence for several folios (8 pages) about blue chairs. Then, using my hand carved stamps, print a mock-up of the story Blue Sky Chair board on paper.
Make up mock-ups for Blue Gill Chair, Blue Bunting Chair, Blue Electric Chair, Blue Grass Chair.
Then in dawns on me. To make 12 – 14 folios I must carve even more stamps for illustrations as well as print them. Making books is just too darn tough. There’s Brilliant Idea #2 in the trash. More brilliant ideas tomorrow!
Blue Wing Chair (detail) Laura Wasilowski
One of the benefits of belonging to SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) is the opportunity to be part of traveling exhibits like Radical Elements. My quilt in the exhibit, Blue Wing Chair, is currently on view at the Gallery of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. (At last, I’ve got trustworthy representation in the nation’s capitol!)
Painting a book cover for Idea #1
Exhibition artists were also asked to create a journal as they designed art work based on an element from the periodic table. For the next few days I’ll pass on a few of my journal notes beginning with this first entry:
Brilliant Ideal #1: While flying on #*&#$ Airlines I had a sudden flash: make a quilt called the Blue Book on Blue Chairs and make it out of real books. Here’s the plan:
Paint the covers of old books and replace with new titles and images. Drill holes through the pages and back. Attach (quilt) the books to Timtex.
As I drive from the airport, I come up with the book titles many of which are based upon quilts I’ve made in the past: Blue Beach Chair, Blue Electric Chair, etc. Dodging through traffic, I visualize the construction and race home to test the idea (see photo above).
Well this is a lousy idea. I soon realize that real books are real heavy and it would take a slab of wood to hold them all in place. I want to use alternative materials for the quilt but this is not working. Brilliant Idea #1 crashed and burned. More brilliant design ideas tomorrow.
Blue Wing Chair by Laura Wasilowski
Today the Radical Elements exhibit sponsored by SAQA
, will open for a five month showing at the Gallery of the National Academy of Sciences
. Blue Wing Chair
is my entry into this exhibit with a theme combining quilting and science. At last, a use for that periodic table displayed in chemistry class!
Blue Wing Chair (back) by Laura Wasilowski
This, from the SAQA website, describes the Radical Elements exhibit:
Our physical world is created out of the chemical elements, from hydrogen to platinum to arsenic. For this exhibition, each of the selected artists created a new work influenced by an element from the periodic table. Inspirations came from anything relating to that element, whether it is a play on the name, its color or the products made from it. Both representational and abstract works were welcomed.
The artists were also asked to move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials. This exhibition was the first to embrace the newly expanded definition of an art quilt and is a signature exhibition for SAQA.
In the next few days I’ll show you the design process for making Blue Wing Chair. But first, can you guess which element from the periodic table I was given to depict?
The top fields and blue house have all their stitches but what to do with the red field in the foreground? Why not try a simple Running Stitch. That sounds easy and fast. What I discovered, after a dozen rows of running stitch, is that the red field is huge! To break up the running stitch fatigue, I added a few straight stitches to the light blue flowers. But don’t worry, I shall plow on and finish this field some day.
After finishing all those juicy French Knots out in left field, I tackled the yellow and green fields to the right on my blue house quilt. This is what I like about adding hand stitchery to a fused art quilt: you can make shapes with stitches. Shapes like little flowers growing in a field.
The plant leaves on the yellow fabric are made with the Lazy Daisy and the Pistil Stitch makes the flower head and stem. No need for fabric when you have needle and thread to make the shapes!