On Wednesday March 13, 2019 I am offering an evening class on using natural objects to print fabric and/or paper. Nature offers a variety of source materials – plant materials such as leaves and branches (bare or leafy) and some vegetables yield wonderful designs.
My favorite nature prints come from leaves. There is such a wide range of shapes, sizes and sometimes intricate details; leaves offer an incredible range of design potential. You can focus on the leaf forms themselves or play with simpler shaped leaves in a variety of arrangements.
I first experimented with stamping leaves in my younger years, printing them onto exotic Japanese rice papers. I would stamp and press merrily away using the successes to make handmade cards while the ‘rejects’ were chalked up to the luck of the draw. Speaking of which, nature printing is serendipitous, you don’t know how well your impression came out until you lift away the leaf and see the results so it pays to do some test prints to check the viscosity of the paint and how to apply it correctly and keep an open mind enjoying the process. Some prints will be drop dead perfect while others… Even the failures might have a bright future, This collage bird was made onto a backdrop of one such ‘failure’ but look how perfect it was as a backdrop.
It can be fun to play with different textures of fabric, trying everything from flat goods to fabrics with a nap or nubby silks and linens… Once done the prints can be cut up for collage (paper or fabric) or you can print your own yardage. If you are adventurous, you can even press leaf prints onto garments or pieced quilt blocks. If you love applique, you can print leaves to cut out and applique onto your projects for an unusual take on the ‘fussy-cut’ applique method.
Whether you are a paper artist or fabric artist this will be a very fun class and you will leave at the end with some new ideas as well as some nature prints to play with.
Printing From Nature
Gold Maple Leaves printed on a pieced panel; by Helene Knott
Heuchera Leaves printed on chiffon; by Ardie H
Branch prints enhanced with stitching and confetti leaves on a hand painted background. Made by Gerry W.
Joy's Stained Glass style table runner featuring leaf prints in center panel
Winter Branch print by Joy J. The Kanji symbol at the top means 'Winter'
Leaf prints enhanced with stitched veins
Forest-scape: collaged trees cut from fabric combined with printed Cedar sprays. Made by Joy J.
Pieced quilt block enhanced with leaf prints. By Joy J.
Quilt detail - leafy branch sprays printed and enhanced with stitching. By Helene Knott
Leaves printed on a Dupioni Silk scarf; by Helene Knott.
Time for some shameless self-promotion! I want to talk about my classes at the Art & Soul Retreat in Portland next spring. I plan to do this in segments devoting a separate blog post to each the better to promote each class individually. My first will be:
Thread Painting: March 10, 2019; 9am – 4:30pm
This is free-motion quilting on steroids. Though it does take a degree of confidence to plunge into it, the method does not require quite the level of precision that traditional free-motion quilting does for delightful results. In regular free-motion quilting, the beauty lies in individual lines, these lines should be rendered with accuracy to be attractive but Thread Painting is more like coloring or (as the name says) painting. A skillful hand will yield spectacular results but even a novice with less expertise can create something beautiful.
In this class, I will offer two options to try – a pair of butterflies that enlists a coloring book approach that is suitable for a raw beginner and a songbird that employs a more ‘painterly’ technique involving layering and blending of colors and textures. Though I recommend a beginner to try the butterflies a confident beginner can try the bird and get good results. I have even had past students create their own bird from a photo to explore.
The project sizes are small to make it possible to complete the thread painting in a reasonable amount of time, rather than have it turn into weeks or months of work or risk it languishing in your studio as a UFO. The cost of thread for a smaller project is also reasonable; thread is not cheap especially if you want a wide palette of colors. A smaller project will allow you to learn and perfect your technique before tackling a larger, more expensive project.
If you are still uncertain that you could actually do this, look at what previous students have done in this class. Most of these were all stitched by students who had only a little or no experience with thread painting.
If you are interested in this workshop, you can find more information at Art & Soul Retreats
Thread Painted birds. Keep in mind, many of these were stitched by students with no previous Thread Painting experience! The red bird at the end was stitched by me.
Thread Painted butterflies. Keep in mind, many of these were stitched by students with no previous Thread Painting experience!
At quilt shows it’s the big quilts that get all the attention and often times for a good reason. A large quilt can take years of painstaking work and they are visible from a great distance; one walks into the show, spots a breathtaking quilt across the room and makes a beeline to look at it up close. Many viewers will marvel at the quilt and think – “I would NEVER be able to do this” and so we are impressed by the big splashy work. But what about the small gems? They can be every bit as gorgeous but are often overlooked because of their small size.
The Journal Quilt Project – A Page from My Book, was started in 2002 by Karey Patterson Bresenhan as a challenge to quilters to make small quilts measuring 8″ x 10″ on a weekly/monthly basis as a chronicle of their lives – their hopes, dreams and fears, a sort of visual diary. These quilts were displayed in a group showing at the Houston International Quilt Show.
I was a latecomer to the project, it was already in full bloom by then and I was never much one for delving into online challenges with routine obligations, too structured for my life, but I did see some practical applications for the process. Most artists need to make some kind of thumbnail sketches before tackling a mural and so this became my approach to Journal Quilting. In some cases, I used the small scale quilts to express myself: my frustrations at all the climbers who perished on Mt. Hood leaving grieving families who will carry that grief every time they spend a holiday without their loved one. A few of my Journal quilts are dedicated to my childhood ‘sanctuaries’ where I spent time daydreaming or licking my wounds when my sister was mean to me, and one series was born of a project suggested by one of my students who wanted to exchange brown paper lunch sacks with all sorts of bits and pieces – fabrics, embellishments, fancy threads… and we each had to make a small quilt that included everything in the bag. I got the bag with the penguin fabric and lots of bits of broken jewelry. Now what can you do with a penguin and bits of jewelry? Why – a penguin out on an ice field ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’ – that’s what. But I had penguins left over and so began my goal of making a series of quilts featuring penguins in unexpected situations; penguins in Alice’s Wonderland or tasting their first beak-full of salsa… But mostly, I use this format to test out new techniques in a small, realistic and less expensive form.
Years ago, I wanted to try out a needle-lace technique on my sewing machine. I drew up a design, sacrificed a last piece of out-of-print fabric, layered it with a water soluble stabilizer and bought two spools of variegated embroidery thread (to the tune of $12 each). Shortly into the project, I discovered I should have used two layers of stabilizer and ‘hooped’ the work but it was too late to take what I’d done out. Then as luck would have it, I finished off the first spool of thread which yielded only about a 7″ x 7″ area of stitching; the whole project was destined to be about 18″ x 36″. Let’s see… a 7″ square at $12 per spool – well, you do the math. I wasn’t about to spend another $150 for thread for a project I wasn’t even pleased with. How I wish I had made a small sample instead just to test out the technique and perfect the process before taking on a larger project or decide it wasn’t my cup of tea.
I started my Journal Quilt classes in the Portland (Oregon) area about six years ago and have several small groups that come monthly to learn a new technique and try it out on that same small sized format. Some create miniature masterpieces or apply the methods to larger works and some just come to learn something new. For me, this also serves as a testing ground to work out the logistics of offering a specific project as a standalone class, how long the class show be realistically and whether it should be a technique or design class. You can see more about my classes and quilts on my ‘classes and lectures’ and ‘class schedule’ pages
Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of these small wonders and I am scheduled to give two trunk shows this coming week at Northwest Quilters annual quilt show at the Expo Center in Portland Oregon. One trunk show is on Friday May 11th and the second is on Saturday May 12th. Both trunk shows start at 11 am. The presentation will be free with paid entry to the quilt show. Learn more at https://www.northwestquilters.org/shows/2018/2018.php