Thursday, April 29, 2010

Look to the rainbow

Why are rainbows so appealing? For one thing, the colors of the rainbow create visual harmony when placed together (a "six tone chord" in color theory). And then there's the symbolism of the rainbow, denoting hope and prosperity, and inspiring many songs and movies (including Over The Rainbow, Finian's Rainbow, and Rainbow Connection, among others). If you like rainbows and quilts, as we do, then we think you'll like today's post. We've curated an inspiring collection of quilts in rainbow shades, in a wide range of styles and designs. At the end of the post we're also revealing some of our favorite fabrics, color wheels, and some fantastic color matching tools (and we'd love to hear about your favorites, too...)

Pinwheels, 47 x 47, by Martha Tsihlas, Del Sol Quilts

Martha Tsihlas is a quilter and fiber artist in Austin, Texas, whose outstanding work has been featured in galleries and in juried exhibits, including Textile Twists in 2010. Her Big as Texas quilt graced the cover of the fiber arts exhibit at the Texas State History Museum. We love "Pinwheels", an original Martha Tsihlas design, which features interlocking pinwheels in all colors of the rainbow. Each hue is represented in several different shades and textures, adding further interest to this beautiful quilt. For more information on Martha Tsihlas and her artwork, visit her blog, here.

Batik Wheel Dance, 45 x 56, by Carol C. Britt, as seen at Sew What Fabrics & Batiks, Etc.

In the beautiful Batik Wheel Dance, above, the colors of the rainbow are arranged in diagonal bands, and each color subtly blends into the next. The overlapping circles look like Cathedral Windows, but are made on the machine! The totally ingenious pattern, called Circular Patchwork, was designed by Carol C. Britt, who is the owner of Sew What Fabrics & Batiks, Etc. Also see the Island Batik Color Wheel Collection, later in this post.

Northern Lights, by Joen Wolfrom, at JWD Publishing

When it comes to color, Joen Wolfrom wrote the books (literally). Here we're showing "Northern Lights", which is one of Joen's classic designs. The lustrous effect is created by subtle value changes—using light to dark hues in each block, creating a wonderful sense of depth. We've seen this pattern done in black and white, too, with stunning results. Also note the beautiful sun-shaped quilting design, which is visible at the top of the quilt. To read about the pattern, visit JWD Publishing.

Flying Around the World, 48 x 60, by Liz Schwartz & Stephen Seifert, at eQuiltPatterns

We love the fact that this design team has created patterns inspired by the simple elegance of Amish designs. Amish quilts are known for their pure color play, in which simple shapes in solid colors are arranged against a dark background. "Flying Around the World", above, is reminiscent of a traditional Trip Around the World quilt, but with the visual effect of an op-art painting. The pattern can be obtained here; to see more designs, visit eQuiltPatterns. (For a contemporary rainbow quilt, also see "Cool Rainbow Weave", at Quilts With Style).

Skewed Nine Patch, 53.25 x 52.5, by Janes Wilson, at Jane's Quilts

Jane Wilson (Brisbane, Australia), has come up with a sensational "Skewed Nine Patch" quilt in a rainbow of colors. There are 100 different nine patch blocks, and each block is constructed of three different fabrics; the blocks are surrounded by a grid of navy blue sashing. The skewed lines of the blocks create vertical and horizontal movement and a lively pattern. We also love the back of the quilt, shown below, which has one enormous skewed nine patch block (it's a work of art, in and of itself!) For more details, and to see the quilt at her online store, visit Jane's Quilts. (Note added 2-5-2011: this website is no longer active)

Shazam, 27 X 37, by Linda Everhart, Quilting Among Friends

Linda Everhart is a designer and nationally-known teacher. Her dynamic rainbow quilt, above, has circles and ovals that zoom out from the background; a flock of flying geese that travel from corner to corner; and a border of rainbow squares, reminiscent of a film-strip. To facilitate the construction of quilts like "Shazam", Linda has developed a neat technique called FUSIQUE®: a raw-edge reverse fusing method that enables speedy assembly. For the pattern, visit Quilting Among Friends. (Note: although the quilt may or may not be inspired by the ancient wizard of the same name, we like the story of 'Shazam': S stands for the wisdom of Solomon...)

Pizzazz, by Joen Wolfrom, JWD Publishing

"Pizzazz", above, is a dazzling half-rainbow quilt that reflects a brilliant design by Joen Wolfrom. Of course there is color: the radiant colors move subtly from yellow to violet in diagonal bands. And then there is movement: the bands of color create undulating waves. And then there is the construction: this quilt’s block is constructed with four shapes and only three straight seams. The "waves" are an optical illusion created by straight piecing lines that intersect at wide angles, resulting in a gentle zig-zag pattern that ripples across the quilt. Finally, there is another illusion: the arrangement of dark and light values of the triangles within each block creates a three-dimensional appearance, similar to a pyramid. For more information, visit the Pizzazz webpage; to see all Joen Wolfrom Designs, click here.

Garden Rainbow Quilt, 82 x 76, by Roberta Horton for Kaffe Fassett, as seen at Tennessee Quilts

"Garden Rainbow", by Roberta Horton, is one of the lovely quilts featured in Kaffe Fassett's Country Garden Quilts book. Although the pattern is straightforward, there is genius in simplicity: the horizontal stripes are comprised of floral prints in a muted rainbow of colors, while the vertical stripes are comprised of matching florals, solids and stripes laid in an alternating dark/light brick pattern, giving the appearance of a complex geometric design. Tennessee Quilts has the complete quilt kit, as well as the kits for dozens of other Kaffe Fassett quilts and, of course, Fassett's fabrics.

Color Wheel Quilt, 56 x 56, by Joelle Hoverson, at Purl

This clever quilt has become a design sensation ever since it appeared on the Purl Bee. The project is from the book "Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson, the co-owner of Purl Soho. The colorful bundles of fabrics, below, contain 52 different cotton prints to assemble the color wheel (or use them in another colorful project!) See the original description of the quilt at The Purl Bee and the updated version of the fabric bundles here. The book can be found here.

Color tools and other fantastic finds

In honor of color wheels, rainbow quilts - and quilters everywhere - here are a few of the color matching tools and products we love:

3-in-1 color tool, by Joen Wolfrom

In 2002 Joen Wolfrom developed the 3-in-1 Color Tool for selecting colors and fabrics; you can just take it along to the fabric store to find fabrics that work together. It's been called "indispensable", which pretty much sums it up. For details and product reviews, visit C&T Publishing, here.

Island Batik Color Wheel Collection, as seen at Batiks Etc. & Sew What Fabrics

These beautiful cotton batiks are available in handy fat quarter bundles: 25 fat quarters in cool colors and 24 fat quarters in warm colors.

Hoffman Bali Color Fan, as seen at Batiks Plus

This is impressive: a color fan with a tiny swatch of all the Hoffman Bali batiks; there are over 300 colors. The color fan is available at Batiks Plus.

Fabricmatcher, at Moda Fabrics

Moda Fabricmatcher is an extremely clever online tool for finding fabrics in particular colors: and it is easy and fun to use. Just two clicks and you're there - there's no program to learn! Fabricmatcher will either match fabrics to a color you pick from a large palette (see color matcher), or it will identify key colors from a photo, then allow you to search for fabrics based on the key colors (see upload an image.) We selected a photo of red begonias from our photo album, and here's what we got (click on the screenshot image, below, to see a larger view):

Not bad! Keep in mind that the tool detects an average for each color. The green leaves in the photo - which were partly in the shadow - showed up as a very dark green, but the orange-red flowers are well matched. The next step would be to select one of the five colors, a theme, designer and collection, and Moda will show all of the fabrics that match. To try it yourself, click here (and let us know what you think!)

Image credits: All images are used with permission of the artists.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In full bloom

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." ~Claude Monet

We went looking for quilt ideas for Mother’s Day, and came up with a virtual garden of inspiration. The outstanding artists featured here have used their fabrics as palettes, creating vivid floral tableaux. You’ll find tulips and iris, passion flowers and poppies, sunflowers and roses and more, in distinct artistic styles. Moreover, these works of art are accessible to quilters everywhere, thanks to easy-to-follow patterns. We fell in love with every one of these quilts, and hope you do too!

Geraniums, 20 x 22, by Edyta Sitar, at Laundry Basket Quilts

Primitive rose, 25 x 30, by Edyta Sitar, at Laundry Basket Quilts

Laundry Basket Quilts: Edyta Sitar was born in Poland and raised in Germany before coming to the U.S. Her love of nature and of quilting inspired her to create her beautiful floral designs, including Geraniums and Primitive Rose, above. Her marvelous raw edge applique designs also include Daffodils, Chrysanthemums, Tiger Lilies, Tulips, and many others. All of the Laundry Basket Quilt patterns, including raw edge, patchwork, and traditional applique designs (including Midnight Blooms) are available on the website, here. (And by the way, Laundry Basket Quilts designs fabrics for Moda... see the collections here).

Flowers are love's truest language.
~ Park Benjamin

Rose in a vase, 18 x 22, by Shelley J. Greener, at SJ Greener Quilts

Red roses, by Shelley J. Greener, at SJ Greener Quilts

SJ Greener Quilts: Shelley J. Greener is an award-winner quilter and designer, who has won accolades for her quilts and for her innovative construction techniques. Her original floral and still life designs, including her Rose in a Vase (shown above), Apple Basket, and Flores Brillantes are wonderfully realistic. Also don't miss seeing the floral applique in Shelley Greener's stunning Blue Lace quilt, which was designed for the 2007 Dutchess Heritage raffle. "Blue Lace" has gorgeous applique blocks in three styles, in vivid shades of blue and violet (a pattern book is available!) To view more original works, see her gallery and quilts for sale pages.

Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunflower, 18 x 18, by Melinda Bula, at Melinda Bula Designs

Summer rose, 25 x 25, by Melinda Bula, at Melinda Bula Designs

Melinda Bula Designs: Melinda Bula is a renowned artist and designer, who first became known for her original hand silk screened wallpapers and fabrics. Since 1996, Melinda has focused on quilts (her first love). Her best-selling book, Cutting Garden Quilts, contains patterns for a rose, pansies, clematis, coneflower, and apples... and a wealth of visual inspiration. Her truly Fabulous Fusible Flower patterns include Sunflower and Summer Rose (shown above), Geranium and Yellow Daisy, and others. Melinda Bula's book and patterns, including the (also fabulous) Tea for Tulips, can be obtained here.

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.

~Emma Goldman

Garden Flowers, 14 x 18, by Laura Wasilowski, at ArtFabrik

Trio of tulips, 10 x 13, by Laura Wasilowski, at ArtFabrik

ArtFabrik: Laura Wasilowski is a contemporary quilt maker, author, teacher, and creator of luminous hand-dyed fabric and thread. Her quilts have been featured in museum collections, exhibits, and books. Garden Flowers and Trio of Tulips (above), as well as Wild Rose and Blue Cosmos are just a few of her newest patterns. Also see her delightful Cat and Flower (to mention just one of our favorites; click here to see all of her patterns). Laura also provides fusing tips and books for fun, fast, and fearless fusing. Be sure to peruse Laura's extraordinary hand-dyed fabrics here (her fabrics are used by many leading textile artists). For even more inspiration, view the ArtFabrik galleries.

My first memory is of the brightness of light ... light all around. I was sitting among pillows on a quilt on the ground...
~ Georgia O'Keefe

Georgetown Poppies, 20 x 30, by Carol Morrissey, at O Carol Designs

Poppy, 36 x 48, by Carol Morrissey, at O Carol Designs

O Carol Designs: Carol Morrissey designs quilts and patterns, teaches classes and workshops, and hand-dyes fabrics. Her love of quilting, gardening, photography are all reflected in her fantastic flowers and other quilt designs. In addition to her perfect Poppies, shown above, her floral designs - which are made for fusible applique - include exquisite iris, pansies, and bluebonnets. Entire gardens of blooms are represented in her April and July patterns. Also we can't help but mention two more of our favorites: Grand Gerber, which measures 57.5" square, and Sue's cactus, a beautiful cactus flower. Carol's complete list of patterns can be viewed here.

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty. ~ Georgia O'Keefe

Passion Flower, 42 x 44, by Cleo Mounday, at Cleo's Designs

Roses, 41 x 59, by Cleo Mounday, at Cleo's Designs

Cleo's Designs: Cleo Mounday draws on her background of photography and interior decorating, and her love of gardening, to inspire people to find colors they love around them and to include them in their lives through clothing and quilts. Her realistic, colorful flowers are larger than life: in Roses (above), which measures 41 x 59, the largest rose is 16" x 14" and is made of 18 pieces of fabric. Cleo's other elegant designs include hollyhocks and hydrangeas, fuchsias (which come with a little hummingbird!), her wonderful water lilies and koi, and many other favorite browse a complete gallery of Cleo's Designs, visit her pattern page, here.

To plant a garden is ... to believe in summer, to have faith in tomorrow, to have hope in the future. ~ Anonymous

Iris, 14 x 23, by Brenda Yirsa, for Bigfork Bay Cotton Company

Plumeria, 19.5" x 24", by Brenda Yirsa, for Bigfork Bay Cotton Company

Brenda Yirsa is a pastel artist and oil painter whose work depicts landscapes, portraiture, and abstracts. She has designed quilt patterns for Bigfork Bay Cotton Company based on her original paintings. Her designs create a sense of depth through shading and layering of the fabrics, making us feel as if we can reach out and touch the flowers. Her glorious iris (above), tulips, and rose are among her newest patterns. On the tropical front, we are particularly partial to her brilliant plumeria (above), hibiscus , and bird of paradise. For a complete list of her patterns, visit the online store. For more information on Brenda Yirsa's original artwork, visit her gallery.

A beautiful garden is a work of heart. ~ Anonymous

A beautiful quilt is a work of heart. ~ Quilt Inspiration

Image Credits : All images are used with permission of the artists.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Priscilla Bianchi : Quilts of Guatemala

From her home in Guatemala, Central America, Priscilla Bianchi creates quilts, fabrics, and designs in a dazzling array of color. Priscilla is inspired by the vibrant "huipiles" or tunics, woven by the native Mayan women in patterns that are unique to each village.

Guatemalan Flora

Priscilla has recently designed a fabulous new fabric line and downloadable quilt pattern, Guatemalan Flora for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. You can see her love of bold, bright, strong prints which characterize much of her wonderful work.

1000 Rainbow Pyramids

1000 Rainbow Pyramids is a "charm quilt", a type of construction in which no two fabrics are similar throughout the entire quilt. This work utilizes 480 different fabric triangles. It leads the viewer's eye along a pathway of both contrasting values and warm and cool hues, in which the entire color spectrum is explored.

Natura Florida II

The Mayan people of Guatemala live in the highlands jungles, where vividly colored flowers and tropical plants have flourished since the beginning of time. This quilt showcases the lush magenta, fuchsia and lavender hues of exotic orchids and other captivating blossoms which have long inspired the lovely textile art of this region. Natura Florida II also celebrates the rich geometric patterns of the native villages, along with the traditional indigo blue and cochineal red fabric dyes used for centuries.

Mayan Kente

Phyllis says, "I've long been attracted to 'randas', the heavily embroidered decoration found on the front of native Mayan women's skirts. Its linear nature suggested 'weaving' to me. The continuous motion of weft over and under warp is the fundamental essence of textiles. As I worked the design, it reminded me of Kente cloth from Africa."

"Mayan Kente" is Phyllis' tribute to weavers around the world, whose skill with color and design creates a legacy of functional, beautiful clothing.

Priscilla Bianchi is an expert on combining radiant colors and patterns to create truly Latin American inspired quilts. Plenty of visual inspiration can be found in her fascinating book, Caliente Quilts, which is available on her website. Guatemalan fabrics, similar to the ones shown in the quilts above, can be purchased at her online store, here. Also, patterns and kits for some of Priscilla's art quilts can be purchased on the site.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Loss", by Claire Crocker

The work of textile art entitled "Loss", above, captured our attention from the moment we saw it. The visual and emotional impact of the artwork is immediate, and it conveys a sense of poignancy commensurate with its name. Claire Crocker confirms that the piece was inspired by the experience of bereavement: "I wanted to capture the sense of being folded in on your self when you are very sad."

The red fabrics are hand-dyed and hand-painted. A special technique called furrowing was used to create the deep texture (please click on the image to bring up a larger view, showing the precise furrowing and other details). We were astonished to learn that this powerful piece measures only 24 x 34cm - about 9 x 13 inches, or the size of an A4 piece of paper. Regardless of size, the method takes a huge amount of fabric, which is manipulated, folded and stitched.

Claire explains that she has had a life-long fascination with sheen and luster. After this piece, she has gone on to explore further the wonderful effects that can be achieved with this technique on shot silk.

Claire Crocker lives and works in the UK. To read about Claire and her work, visit her web page at ColourFx Textile Art.

Image credit and links: The image is shown with permission of the artist. Claire also referred us to Colette Wolff's masterwork 'The Art of Manipulating Fabric' for additional information.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Voices in Cloth 2010 Show

Over the weekend, we attended the Voices In Cloth 2010 Quilt Show by the East Bay Heritage Quilters in Oakland, CA. What a talented group of artists ! Join us as we show you some of the fabulous quilts displayed at the show.

Homage to 'In the Beginning' by Joan Sextro

We're enchanted by the beautifully appliqued dancing flowers which give this quilt such a lively personality. The curves of the flowers in the center appliqued medallion are repeated in the quilt fabric. Joan notes that whenever she visited friends and family in Seattle, WA, she would stop at the In the Beginning quilt shop, where she loved their designs, as typified by the outer printed border.

All My Stars, 96 x 96, by Nancy Ritter

All My Stars, detail view

Nancy was inspired by American Jane patterns to make this intricately pieced quilt. For the diamond 8 point stars, she cut into some of the treasured fabric that she brought back from Provence, France. Nancy writes, "Using 132 sawtooth stars from a block exchange, I was already halfway done. A fun quilt to make." A closeup of the construction of the stars, above, shows the excellent piecing.

Say It With Flowers and Stripes, 65 x 78, by Mary Mashuta

This lovely quilt was designed for Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance book, as Mary's yearly assignment from him. She revamped a two-template depression era quilt, whose blocks consist of one striped fabric and one floral. The continuity of this quilt is enhanced by the diagonal striped binding, which provides a stately frame. The contemporary stripes and the vibrantly colored florals coordinate together for a sophisticated effect. For more information on Mary's beautiful designs, books and workshops, visit her website here.

Come Sail Away With Me, 79 x 92, by Sondra Von Burg

Sondra writes, "My friend Linda Hanafee is always making these free form sailboat blocks, and since I quilt them for her, I finally decided that I needed one of my own. I added lighthouses, a couple of docks, and bait shacks. The turquoise sky is the only fabric that did not come out of the scrap box. Self-quilted by the artist.

Come Sail Away With Me, detail view

Sondra has indeed made wonderful use of the scrap box, as you can see in the adorable lighthouse with the whimsical cat's face near the top.

Japanese Sampler, 87 x 84, by Margo Weeks

Margo notes, "I was given some Japanese fabric samples many years ago. Last year, with the help of Rebecca Rohrkaste, I put this quilt together. The hand quilting of water and the small dots helped bring this piece together." Self-quilted by the artist.

Japanese Sampler, detail view

 The snowy white accents of the flowers against the navy background provide a very refreshing and crisp look to this quilt.

Batiks In Motion, 50 x 58, by Karen Springsteen

Karen says, " This quilt is adapted from a class taught by Christie Batterman at The Cotton Patch in Lafayette, CA. I splurged on batiks, learned to piece curves, and worked with lots of color." Karen has made beautiful use of color-rich batiks in this wonderful, eye-catching quilt. Quilted by Jenna Bailey at The Quilting Co. of Walnut Creek, CA.

Pineapple Journey by Arleen Kukua

Arleen writes, "Over one hundred years ago, my Japanese ancestors migrated to Hawaii to harvest pineapple and sugar. This quilt is dedicated to their hard labor. No paper piecing, no foundation." We'd say that Arleen is no stranger herself to the hard work of quiltmaking, judging from how beautifully this quilt turned out, with its vibrant rainbow colors and exquisite patchwork.

Black and White and Turquoise, 59 x 77, by Patricia Bagdon

For this highly innovative quilt, Patt drew her inspiration from the quilts of Gee's Bend, a small town southwest of Selma, Alabama. The quilters of Gee's Bend, descended from sharecroppers, have become famous for their strikingly attractive quilts with large, brilliant colorways. Patt's quilt perfectly captures the style, bold artistry, and contemporary feel of these internationally acclaimed quilts.

Full Circle, 72 x 72, by Rebecca Rohrkaste

Full Circle, below, was included in the Quilt National 2001 exhibit and book, and won the Viewer's Choice award that year.

Rebecca tells us: "I was spurred to undertake an immersion in red through a friend's commission for a quilt. Even though it is non-objective and abstract, it is full of personal history, symbolism, and emotional experience." This stunning and dynamic quilt is owned by East Bay Heritage Quilter, Mabry Benson.

Image credits and links: All images are shown with permission of the artists and the East Bay Heritage Quilters of Northern California. Other credits mentioned by the artists: The Cotton Patch, Lafayette, California; The Quilting Co., Walnut Creek, California; In The Beginning, Seattle, Washington; American Jane. The fabrics for "Say it with Flowers and Stripes" can be obtained at Glorious Color.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fire and Energy : The Art Quilts of Barbara Olson

An award-winning artist, teacher, and quilter from the Pacific Northwest, Barbara Olson creates captivating quilts that are famous for their high-chroma color combinations and dynamic sense of movement. Next month (May 2010) Barbara will be a featured artist and teacher at the Denver National Quilt Festival. We're pleased to be able to show a few of Barbara’s dynamic works of art, below.

City of Midnight Sun,101 x 101

City of the Midnight Sun won the Best of Show award at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in California in 2007. Barbara machine-pieced, appliquéd, quilted, and embellished it. She shows us a city in the distance, surrounded by a circular pathway, which draws our eye to the the center of the quilt. Because the buildings seem so far away, they have almost a mythical, allegorical quality to them, as if they exist in another time and space.

The sunburst, flaming aura, and blue border- comprised of thousands of tiny appliqued pieces - leads us to imagine that we are viewing this scene from a vantage point in deep space, as we travel through space. Barbara has used the complementary colors of medium blue and golden yellow to provide maximum contrast, as well as juxtaposing the circular, flickering halo next to the straight lines of what might very well be trails of comets or stardust.

Peacock Flower, 36 x 36

Peacock Flower is one of Barbara’s recent works. This quilt’s stunning beauty is due in part to the contrasts which immediately capture the viewer’s eye. Vividly cool monochromatic blues, turquoises, and aquas are displayed against a blazing sunset of yellow, orange, and pink. The fabric is cut into many curves and wave-like shapes to give the impression of a gigantic blossom undulating languidly in the wind. However the center of the flower is embellished by a beautiful pointed, embroidered, red and pink star, which is a form of thread painting.

Atlantis: An Ancient Message, 78 x 78

In this quilt, the viewer peers through an imaginary looking glass or keyhole to behold an enchanted city, rising from the mist. Tall buildings contrast with gentle curves of the surrounding pieces. They seem like swirling veils which drift apart to allow us to view a scene from another era. Barbara has used striped and streaked borders to give us a sense of moving through time and dimension, as passing objects fly past. Atlantis was the winner of the Visions of Tomorrow category of the Millennium Contest A Quilt for the Year 2000, sponsored by E.E. Schenck/Maywood Studios.

In addition to her inspirational workshops, Barbara is the author of Journey of an Art Quilter, a colorful motivational book that provides cutting edge techniques. In her new DVD, Jumpstart Your Creativity, Barbara shares her methods for creating breathtaking quilts. The DVD is available on her website, here.

Image credits: Images are courtesy of Barbara Olson.
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