TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Art Quilt Challenges by Donna Hussain

Monochromatic exercise, quilt by Connie Horne.

Recently a group of my quilting friends in Sacramento, California (USA) decided to form Pins and Needles, a new quilt circle that would focus on making art quilts. Most of us had mastered traditional quilting skills, but now wanted to learn about basic art and design principles such as balance, perspective and scale, concepts that painters, sculptors, and photographers apply to their work. We also wanted to use materials such as beads, stamps, mirrors, paints, and a wide range of embellishment techniques but were reluctant to experiment on our own. Group support has helped our members venture into new avenues of creativity.

Monochromatic exercise, quilt by Donna Hussain.

This past year we studied one chapter a month of The Quilting Arts Book by Patricia Bolton and made small samples of the techniques described in each assigned chapter. Circle members also participated in two major quilt projects: the making of monochromatic quilts and sewing two panoramic quilts of the Sacramento skyline.

Monochromatic exercise, quilt by Helen Burke.

Making monochromatic quilts was an exercise in value. One of our members collected paint chips from a paint store and put them in a paper bag. With eyes closed each member of our circle drew one of the paint chips from the bag. The color of the paint chip determined the color of the 9x15 inch quilt each member was required to make.  Only light and dark fabrics of the paint chip’s color could be used. The quilt design was up to the individual.  After three months all of the participants brought their monochromatic quilts to our monthly meeting.  We were thrilled with the results.

Monochromatic exercise, quilt by Kim Brownell.

Monochromatic exercise, quilt by BJ Bailey.

For the second major group project our art quilt circle decided to make a panoramic slice quilt, chosing a photo of Sacramento’s skyline taken by Evan Wisheropp (the son of one of our quilters)  to be the image we would reproduce in fabric.

Donna Hussain's working copy of the skyline.

A committee of three set the guidelines and rules for the project. Since ten quilters wanted to participate in the project, the committee decided that we should make two identical panorama quilts, five slices each.  After deciding what each of the finished quilts should measure (70 x 220 inches) the committee printed two enlargements of Evans’ photo that size.

Each paper enlargement was then cut into five vertical segments (14 x 44 inches). After outlining the basic shapes on the patterns with felt pen the committee randomly distributed the slice patterns to the quilters. We quilters were advised to pay attention to the horizontal lines on the patterns so that the slices would match up when joined together.

Each quilter also received a 4x6 inch color photo of the panoramic scene to help in the selection of fabric colors for her slice. Since we planned to hang the five slices of each quilt from a single sleeve we were told to omit a traditional quilt binding.  To cover the edges of my quilt I added ¼ inch to the pattern specifications for the quilt top (but not to the batting or back fabric), then folded the ¼ inch excess to the back of the quilt and secured it with a hem.

Sacramento Skyline I, Quilters left to right:
Lori Wisheropp, Denise Schmidt, Helen Burke, Judith Imel, Sunni Hamilton

The committee requested that the quilters work independently, not showing their quilts to others during their construction. We were given five months for the completion of the slice panels. As you can see from the pictures that accompany this article the panoramic quilts turned out to be spectacular.

Sacramento Skyline II:  Quilters left to right:
Connie Horne, Jan Soules, BJ Bailey, Donna Hussain, Kari Bauer

At our December meeting of Pins and Needles we will be choosing an art quilt book for the coming year that has exercises to help us refine our artistic skills. In addition we will be collecting suggestions for one or two group projects for 2012.


Note:  The images and drawings on the skyline are copyrighted and used with permission here.   Several people were involved in the process and are available if you would like to commission a similar pattern for your own photo:

Step 1: photoshot in the Yolo Causeway. Photographer; Evan Wisheropp 
Step 2: Photo manipulation: Lori Wisheropp and Sandra Torguson
Step 3. Cartoon sketch; Sandra Torguson
Step 4: Combining sketch and ghosted photo image and full size print output pattern: Lori Wisheropp
Step 5: Distribution with full size pattern and small photo for reference.

California quilter, Donna Hussain, has exhibited in major quilt shows around the country, authored books, and is a regular contributor to Fiber Focus. Click on her name to see all of her past articles. 

The photo shows Donna with her husband, Pascha.


1 comment:

  1. A super article. Just want to include BJ Bailey on the planning committee. Fine work, ladies!!


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