I have an art quilt on display at the Chicago International Quilt Festival! This is one of the biggest shows in the country/world and I’m thrilled.

My art quilt is part of a collection of art quilts created by members of The Professional Art Quilters Alliance (PAQA).

These quilts are our submissions to a challenge to create an 18″ square quilt based on the theme “The Midwest”.   Here is my entry, “Harvest of Times Past.”

art quilt at International Quilt Festival
Harvest of Times Past, Amy Cavaness, 01/2015

 

I saw about half of the quilts that will be displayed at our January meeting. The interpretation of the theme, The Midwest, was as varied as the landscape and culture here. Some quilts were whimsical, others more abstract. I consider my style to be Impressionistic.

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What the Midwest means to me:

Our landscape is littered with lovely old homes and barns that have been abandoned. These old buildings seem to represent the evolution of this part of the country. This rich, black soil is what drew the farmers to settle this frontier throughout the 19th and early 20th century. As the farmers came to till the soil, the towns and industries to support them developed around them—evolving into the Midwest we know today. As farming methods evolved, farmers could handle more and more acreage, and the resulting economic changes squeezed out small farmers.  Those old-fashioned farmers moved on, and left their homes and barns to stand as long as they might.

To me, this is “The Midwest” in a nutshell, and the farmhouse I depicted (just a mile from my home) is quite typical. This one isn’t terribly old and still seems quite structurally sound, but the exterior is deteriorating from exposure to the elements.

Midwest farmhouse detail

Techniques

In this first photo you can see how I used fabric and then machine stitching to depict the landscape—the rolling fields and the forest beyond the fields. On the tree I used some light-colored thread stitching to show the low winter sun shining on the trunk and branches.

The second is a close-up of the sky. This is fabric I painted with fabric paints as I find it easier to paint that hunt for just the right fabric sometimes!

art quilt,corn fields,midwest,landscapeart quilt,painted fabric,sky. tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One last detail to share: the binding I used has meaning to me. It’s an old-fashioned print, which seems rather out-of-place on a modern quilt, but that was just the point! These old farmstead seem rather out-of-place anymore on these huge tracts of land. There’s a warmth and sentimentality about them, but they’re outdated, relics of the past—–like the little strip of fabric around my picture!

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art quilt at International Quilt Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory quilt wall hanging for a business

I was very honored to receive a commission to create a commemorative wall hanging for a business! Cambridge Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is celebrating their 25th anniversary. CBC is a microbrewery whose award-winning beers are being distributed in increasing numbers of states.

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72″ X 42″

Lots of memories!

I received a number of t-shirts, baseball team shirts, and even a baby t-shirt (“Brew Baby”—so cute!) I got creative with many of the t-shirts, slicing and dicing and putting them back together.

business t-shirt quilt

Photo transfers

I was sent digital photos of murals at the brewery/restaurant and other images which I printed on fabric to include in the memory quilt. I use a product called Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) to transfer images from a special paper printed on my printer to cotton fabric. As you can see, it works beautifully.

Each piece is framed with hand-dyed and batik fabrics which have been strip pieced into interesting sections themselves. The earthy colors are inspired by the colors in the Cambridge Brewery logo.

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 Beer Labels

Another important aspect of this commemorative wall hanging is the beer labels. Again, I transferred the digital images of the labels to fabric and sewed them into the quilt. I carefully free-motion quilted (stitched) around the images on the labels to highlight and give them texture. Then each label was framed with my own fabrics in a contemporary manner before applying to the black background.

beer label transferred to fabric

I found a great themed fabric that featured glasses of beer on a black background which I used for a border around the whole piece. There is a pocket sewn along the top edge of the quilt (on the back) through which a dowel or rod can be inserted for hanging the quilt.

The deadline for finishing this piece was met and I received word that the quilt was very well received.

Here’s to Cambridge Brewery’s continued success!

This is my latest quilted wall hanging, “Amy & Ernie Riding”. (That’s my husband and me on our valiant steeds, Cody and Destiny.) On the left is my inspiration photograph, taken last fall in Matthiessen State Park, here in Illinois. It’s a beautiful park with deep ravines, creeks, woods, fields, and 9 miles of riding trails.

Note: This wall hanging is NOT completed. I just thought I would share my work in-process. So far, I have not done any sewing or quilting. I think it’s important for people to know that they can create some quite nice fabric art without being able to sew. I hope to add some glimpses of earlier stages another time. 

The photograph, as I said, was inspiration. In my art quilt wall hanging, I’m not wearing glasses and my husband is sporting a nice cowboy hat (because I have a thing for cowboys!) I realized, after the fact, that I could have dropped 40 pounds between the photo and my version, but oh, well, I’m just keeping it (fairly) real!

 

Below is an earlier version—the foreground is naked here. I also had a different hat on Ernie. Great example of “I can’t draw”! I tried to make a cowboy hat from a picture in my mind. Well, don’t go there! I found a photo on my computer that I was able to create a better hat from.

 

 

I decided to add a lot of texture with the foliage. Here’s a glimpse at my technique. I cut lots of little pieces of green fabrics and laid them on a piece of freezer paper. This keeps them together and protects my wall hanging from any messes from my glue. Yes, I use watered down glue in lieu of pins to hold pieces of fabric in place. I use just little dots of glue, applied with a toothpick or piece of straw. The pieces are generally easy to remove and there are no glue blobs to sew through.

 

 

 

I used the same technique to apply the fabrics to the foreground.

Next step is thread work: thread painting and quilting! Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

My husband, Ernie, has a big family reunion every year in far southern Illinois.  It’s held on an acreage that has been in his family for generations.  Uncle Ray built a pavilion, enclosed on 3 sides and landscaped the area with beautiful flowers.  He works really hard each summer getting everything in top shape for the September get-together.  One year, as a thank-you, I created this wall-hanging from panoramic photos I had taken.

This wall hanging is done in raw-edge applique, embellished with thread painting and decorative yarns/threads.  I didn’t use any pattern for this—I just eye-balled it, as they say.  Doing it this way gives it more of a folk-art look, which I like. What I really wanted to do was experiment with texture.  Texture draws people into the piece, and touching is allowed on my quilts.

The pavillion is has cedar siding, so I used a scrap of wide-wale corduroy to make mine.  I used a satin stitch around the roof line and on the appliqued windows.  For the flag, I had some flag-print fabric from which I cut a little flag and folded it as it hung from the flag pole (no breeze down there on that hot summer day!)
The trees on the hillside are done in a variety of batiks, commercial prints, and maybe a hand-dyed cotton or 2.  I cut basic blob shapes similar to what I saw in the picture, then did various free-form stitching around the edges—trying to soften them a bit.  Then I thread painted (a machine technique I’ve posted a tutorial for) the trunks and branches with various shades of brown embroidery thread.  I also thread painted some of the flowers in the garden, as well s the 2 bushes behind the fence.

The other, very textured flowers and greenery are made by couching decorative threads.  I used long tweezers  (like what come with a serger, or what you use in surgery if you, dear reader, happen to be a surgeon) to hold the threads/yarns in place as I free-motion stitch them into place with clear nylon thread.  Bunching and scrunching the yarns give a very full look, which also screams “feel me”—-so you may not want to do this if you don’t want people touching your wall hangings!

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Here are a couple of my landscape quilts/wall hangings.

The one of the left was a commission. A gal sent me 3 pictures she wanted combined into 1 picture.  The 3 are shown together above the wallhanging.  One is a picture (taken through a glass window) of a sunset.  Below it is a painting of 3 horses running through water.  The 3rd is a photo of her friend’s view from his house.

The job was to combine the 3 pictures into a single landscape, which I think I did successfully.  (She was quite thrilled with the result!)  The wall hanging is all fabric.  I used a combination of commercial prints and batiks and hand-dyed cottons.  I also painted (with water color pencils) the sunset, as I couldn’t find a fabric that looked like what I needed.  “When in need, make it yourself!”

The landscape on the right is also created completely in fabric and thread (as that is what I do!)  I made this for my cousin’s 50th birthday.  He lives in Phoenix and I found a photo on Google Earth of Camel Back Mountain there.  I used the photo as inspiration for my artwork.  I have to say, this was the hardest landscape I have ever done.  I will also admit that I like how it came out!

Batiks and hand-dyes were a great source for most of the fabrics. I also did a lot of thread painting for details like grasses. (See the detailed photo)  And, once again, I painted the sunset with my water color pencils.  I love the challenge of finding just the right textures and colors in various fabrics to create pieces of my pictures, but the skies, if I want them to look somewhat realistic, have been too much of a challenge to find!

I had scraps of fabric from my experiments with the sky and decided to use a piece for my label on the back, which is also pictured.

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Dad’s 85th birthday is coming up in a few days. I wanted to create something really special for him, something that he wouldn’t expect. I’ve had this photo of him at age 9 on my bookshelf for a long time. A couple of days ago I was finally inspired—-to create this photo as an art quilt!

I have begun the project and will chronicle it here. My first consideration was color. The photo is in black and white. I could copy this, but aside from not being very inspired, I don’t think it would reflect what I want it to. I want the piece to be interesting and reflect his long life. I
thought about doing it in life-like color, but I don’t know what color Dad’s hat and coat actually were. I have been looking at challenging myself by doing a monochromatic quilt, focusing on shade and tint, texture and line. I have decided to do the picture in sepia tones. This will give it an old-fashioned look, yet being a very contemporary style of art.
Next I had to enlarge this photo to a size I could manage. The original (something like 4X6″) is too small to replicate. I used my photocopier to enlarge it (in sections) 200%. The main figure itself is now about 24″ X 14″, so it will finish to
about 30″ tall. This will be manageable (I can finish it in 10 days) and large enough to be substantial (otherwise, why bother, right?)

The next step is to create a pattern. I have laid tracing paper on top of the enlargement and traced areas from
which to create fabric pieces. I kept in mind that I can’t have pieces too small to cut and place successfully. I also know that I will thread-paint details, so that will take care of some of the small issues.

Now……fabrics! I keep my fabric sorted by color, so it wasn’t too hard to pull out lots of shades of brown. I didn’t bother to research “sepia” to authenticate my color choices, instead I’m choosing shades and tints of yellow-orange. I’ve learned something about the importance of contrast to add interest to a piece, so I tried to find my very palest and very darkest pieces. I did discover that I have some browns that are more green-brown, and some are more gray-brown, so I tried to keep with the yellow and red-browns. I also got out a bit of solid black. There are a few prints with other colors in my piles….you never know, they might be interesting somewhere in the picture!

More to come……………..