Green Man Project First 8 days

Today is the ninth day of my 100 day journey through the Green Man. I’m not actually working on him today; instead, I’m writing this update.

My intention is to explore techniques of creating a Green Man medallion quilt, and my greater motivation is to learn more and better ways of telling stories through quilts. I don’t believe that a quilt needs to be an “art” quilt in order to convey meaning. And I don’t believe a piece of art (or craft) needs to be representational to do that, either. Even representational art can be brushed off as merely pretty (as if being pretty is a bad thing) rather than meaningful. Stories are told in many different ways, and meaning conveyed depends as much on the audience as on the teller of the story.

But the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is repeated for a reason. Pictures create a shorthand. And learning how to draw a picture to help tell stories is a worthy endeavor.

With no further ado, here is a bit about my progress in that direction.

My friend, with whom I am bartering work, wants a quilt representing a Green Man. This is a figure with mythology intertwined with both pagan and Christian background. In general, the symbolism represents humans’ interrelationship with nature. Images of the Green Man on ancient Christian churches across Britain and France show how tangled the early Church’s religious messages were with non-Christian beliefs.

My goal will be to express the Green Man as mankind tied to nature, as my friend is with her small family farm.

I began by noticing the printed design on my bedroom curtains. I thought a face could easily fit into the lower part of one of the motifs.

That, and a photo of the friend’s husband, led to this:

I didn’t love the upper part, or what I think of as a crown. I also wasn’t comfortable with copying the fabric designer’s motif so nearly. I wanted a crown with proportion a little more comfortable for the face, and also a more original composition.

I rearranged some elements and changed others. Then I traced it onto freezer paper with a Sharpie marker and cut away the background. I pressed it onto solid black fabric, leading to this:

But that does a poor job giving a notion of what color would do to the appearance. I decided to try again tracing with pencil and coloring with crayons. This certainly isn’t the color set I will use, (and really, they photographed badly,) but it gives me a notion of where to start. This photo uses my dark green cutting mat as the background, rather than black fabric. I like the dark green but want some depth of value on it.

I’m pretty happy with the notion of this now. The real question is how to execute it. I’ve ruled out using wool applique, because I want my fabrics to be richer with pattern. However, I’ve also ruled out using only batiks. Other printed and solid fabrics will have their place, both in the center block and in the rest of the quilt.

My workshop Monday with Kim Lapacek also gave me new tools for storytelling. Whether or not the techniques show up in this quilt, my imagination has been broadened.

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RESIST

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. We traveled to see family; I finished four quilts with binding and gave two of them away; I gave away another; I began the 100 Day Project and successfully made it through the first seven (eight now!) days; I cleaned up my own guild presentations flyer and created one to represent my guild; and I took a full-day workshop.

Hopefully I’ll get around to talking about all of those things, other than the family trip, of course! But today I want to tell you about the workshop. Yesterday my guild (Old Capitol Quilters Guild, based in Iowa City, IA) hosted Kim Lapacek, best known for her Project Quilting challenges and the amazing Dresden Neighborhood pattern. (Kim, give me a link to your pattern for sale, please!)

Kim led a workshop in the style of her Project Quilting challenges. Nine guild members spent the day inspired by her take-no-prisoners style of quilt-making. She goes ALL OUT, with techniques, embellishments, color, and pattern. As our challenge, she provided fat-quarters of base fabric as well as two more fabric pieces to each of us. We were to create and FINISH a quilt top in the six-hour time slot, using those two printed fabrics and NO straight-edge ruler. In addition, we were given a limit on how much fabric we could bring — only the amount that fits in a brown paper lunch sack. (I eat a big lunch…) Also the fabric pieces we brought were supposed to be scraps, less than a fat quarter. While that lays a lot of constraints down, the subject or direction of our individual projects was completely up to each of us.

As she spoke, my thoughts turned to a project I’ve wanted to make for about a year-and-a-half. Inspired partly by her own “amazing technicolor dream heart quilt,” I decided to use a rainbow color scheme. Mine was not because of my love of all colors, but rather my intention to recognize LGBTQ rights as basic human and civil rights. It might be a poor shorthand, but it is eye-catching.

The verbal message is plain in black letters.

A guild friend asked me what I am resisting. I said I’m resisting racism, sexism, disenfranchisement, sexual assault as a norm, … Though I stopped at that in telling her, certainly my resistance is more inclusive.

From a technique standpoint, I used a piece of muslin about 28″ x 31″ as the backing. (This is bigger than the one Kim gave me. We joked that I was disqualified from the challenge for that, and for bringing a slightly bigger bag of fabric than she was picturing.) I drew lines through the center to divide the piece into eight wedge sections. My first take on filling the sections was to start “improv-piecing” green bits together. Quickly it was clear that would take too much time.

As an alternative, I got out my bottle of Elmer’s school glue. In the green section I made a wavy line of glue and started adhering bits of fabric. When the green section was covered in green fabric, I stitched down the bits in straight-ish lines, trying to move along most of the edges but not being very fussy about it. After all, this needed to be FAST to meet the completion part of the challenge.

I continued around my rainbow, adding in teal/turquoise and compressing the indigo/violet. After adding each section, I pressed it with my hot iron.

Once all the colors were on, I used fusible web and a strip of black fabric to create the letters and attach them. Yes, I remembered to draw the letters in reverse!

Make no mistake, the glue did leave a mess. I needed to wash the table top where I did the glue work, and I cleaned up my machine, where the glue-y fabric rubbed along it under the presser foot. Also I cleaned the bobbin area, to pull out any remnants of dried glue underneath. I do still need to wash the presser foot and change the needle. For the future, if I do this again, I’ll use my less-valuable sewing machine.

My project is not done, after all. I have a concept for the outer edge of the muslin, still uncovered by color. Also I need to decide whether I will quilt it or simply leave it as a poster for myself.

The workshop was the MOST FUN I’ve had at a workshop. With encouragement and inspiration, Kim helped me unlock a portion of my brain. I wonder what else is in there… 🙂

Binding a Quilt for the VA Hospital

Over the last few years, I’ve made several quilts to donate to the local VA (Veteran’s Administration) Hospital. This year I’ve made two so far, and likely I’ll make at least one more.

Though I finished the tops and had them quilted before the end of March, I didn’t get the bindings attached. I plan to turn them in at my guild meeting next week, so it’s time to get them bound.

I’ve written about binding before. If you need a primer, you might find it useful to review here. I’ll also add a few tips right here about machine finishing.

For this particular quilt, I chose to finish the binding by machine rather than by hand. I attached it to the back of the quilt and then used a warm iron to press the strip toward the front, across its seam allowance. That makes it easier to bend around the edge.

I increased the stitch length a touch. I also set the machine speed to medium, so the process wouldn’t accidentally get away from me! Using a thread that matches my binding color and a straight stitch, away I went! (Sometimes I use a zig-zag. I think it’s sturdier, but it doesn’t look as neat.)

I rarely use pins or clips when I machine-finish a quilt. When I do use them, I NEVER clip or pin all the way around, whether I’m doing hand-stitching or machine-stitching. That just makes a lot of protrusions that get in the way. I only clip a few inches at a time, and move them as I go.

This border has a stripe that made it easy to wrap the binding consistently all the way around. I think the finish looks neat and clean on the front

and pretty good on the back.

The quilt is finished now. I have three others in the queue for their bindings.

Do you attach your quilt bindings right away? Or do you wait and do them some time later? What’s your favorite thing about binding a quilt? Your least favorite? 

My #The100DayProject

Over the weekend I visited with my sister. She is a quilter, too, and she’s also recently retired. With her newly available time, she’s gone on a creativity tear. She quilts, she paints, she does collage, among other things. I admire how she can juggle all the various parts of her creative life.

But I’m not like that. I can’t seem to manage more than about two things at a time. Other than basic maintenance stuff, I can write, and I can quilt, and when I quilt, I usually work on only one project at a time. That works pretty well for me, but it also frustrates me. It holds me back from spending a lot of time in exploration, because that is one more thing than I can manage.

Recently I wrote this:

I would like to be both more productive and more creative. For me, those two concepts can be in conflict. To be more productive (have more quilts finished,) I could reduce the time I spend on planning and design, and choose options that are easy/quick to execute. Doing that I could finish multiple quilts a week. Some people get great joy from that, but I would not. Or, I could be more “creative,” chewing over lots of possibilities, brainstorming endlessly, drawing and redrawing designs, looking up strategies and techniques, taking classes, endlessly gazing at fabric choices online, searching for inspiration. That would take up a lot of head space and boy howdy, I’d have a lot of creative ideas going. But they wouldn’t get made. Well, that’s no good, either.

It’s the “creative” thing I don’t make time for. In particular, I’ve long wanted to improve at telling stories through my quilts, but I haven’t taken the time to learn strategies for doing so. (I’ll explain more about telling stories in another post.)

In the same post I mentioned The100DayProject. If I consider exploring storytelling as A PROJECT, as one of my two things to do, I can do that for 100 days.

My plan isn’t fully developed, but my intention is to use my Green Man project as a vehicle for learning to tell those stories.

There were so many great suggestions from you for executing the Green Man motif. They included wool appliquĂ©, batik appliquĂ©, raw-edge (non-wool) appliquĂ©, appliquĂ© with and without fusible bond, embroidery, painting, printing using Spoonflower or similar vendor, thread painting, inclusion of atypical fabrics, fabric pens, paper piecing, collage… I’ve also thought of trying crayons, paintsticks, block printing, and embellishing, among other things.

Each day for 100 days (with possible exceptions, which is allowed,) I’ll spend at least 20 minutes trying a new means of creating a Green Man, or perhaps another concept or two I have in mind. In 20 minutes I won’t complete anything in a day, so each trial may take several days. I give myself permission to abandon a process at any time. Some processes may require I buy supplies, but I’ll use what I can from my current inventory. I’ll photograph each day’s work and post on Instagram, so we can all see the progression. I’ll summarize here regularly, and discuss process and how I feel about it.

Tomorrow is Day 1. My plan for tomorrow is to begin with paper and fabric to create a simple collage. Let’s get started!

 

How to Remove Comment “Like” on Your WordPress Blog

I had a weird thing happen recently. My most recent blog post had a number of reader comments. (Thank you!) All but the most recent comment also had a “like” applied. And the supposed source of the like varied, but all the likes were from some “sexy.ru” or “sexy. xyz” site. All the names were a bit different, and likely bot-generated.

ICK

Really, icked me out. I looked in my settings to figure out how to get rid of them, and when I couldn’t right away, I apologized to each of those who commented for the icky like they’d received. Then Jim suggested I check “Help” to see if there was any information about removing comment likes.

“Help” helped. If you’re a WordPress user and see this happen on your posts, you can stop comment likes. Go to your Settings for Sharing. Scroll down the page a bit. Near the bottom of the page is a box you can check for comment likes.

It’s just a toggle switch. I unchecked it, making it OFF for all comments. Unfortunately, that means that if I like your comment or you like mine, we can’t indicate it with a click. We’ll actually have to SAY SO. I LIKE your comment!! Maybe that isn’t all bad…