Monday, April 26, 2010

Que Sera - Art Quilt in Cotton and Organza Painted with Shiva Sticks

 This is my latest quilt 'Que Sera', it's a whole cloth quilt that's been painted using Shiva Sticks and then had some iridescent organza squares fused on. The quilting over the figure has been done with King Tut egyptian cotton and all the background with Madeira variegated metallics.
 Que Sera - 1m x 1m approx. (3' 28" sq) $675
Cotton, organza, fusible web, organza, Shiva paintsticks, cotton batting.

I finished it a couple of months ago but hadn't been able to show anyone. I created it to enter into the Manly 'The New Quilt' exhibition. One of the rules is that work must never have been published in any medium. That was my first entry in a juried competition and sadly, it didn't make the cut. The bright side is that I get to show it off now and get some opinions on it.

I've never been entirely sold on the background, it was too dark when I first drew it so I've softened it off with lots of citrus turps (which i've used to blend the paint throughout). I'm thinking of using a roller with white or pale silver fabric paint and rolling that over the entire background surface, so it hits the highs and leaves the lows showing.

What do you think? Does the background need changing? How would you do it? (please click on 'comment' below to leave your opinion, don't worry about my feelings!! I'm a graphic designer so i'm used to getting artwork changes).

Here's how it was created:

I wet some PFD white cotton fabric down and pressed to the piece of Colorbond steel I use to do all my fabric painting. Having the fabric damp makes it stay in place on the colour bond. I then put some magnets on the edges to keep it there in case it wants to come off later on. This is my fabric painting set up:

For fabric painting I use this piece of Colorbond Steel, i've stopped it wobbling by gluing two aluminum L shaped metal poles to the back in an upturned V shape. A rolled up piece of calico underneath stops the metal cutting through the drop sheet plastic and catches all the drips. I keep my fabric paints in the Ikea CD shelving next to it.

 I sketched the original figure in my sketchbook and then redrew it onto the fabric using a yellow water colour pencil - light enough to see and not get in the way too much, and a colour that if any remained it would help with the glow. I then drew over this with the Shiva's using them like oil pastels.

The yellow water colour pencil and the initial outlining of Shiva paintstick.

I then went and added more shading and layered in the different colours, softening and blending as I went with Citrus Turps.

When the figure was completed I added in the background. This is the first whole cloth quilt top i've done and I think for my next one I will try keeping the background plain and just see what effect quilting has by itself. I'm still getting used to how much you can change an image by adding sewing. After I put in the background I used about a half bottle of Citrus Turps to soften it up with a stiff paintbrush. My apartment smelled like alcoholic oranges for a good week!!!

I let the Shiva sticks cure for a few days and then heat set them with a hot iron and rinsed out the fabric to get rid of any remaining turps. I wanted to try adding some iridescence to the background so cut a few small squares of shot organza out and started pinning them down. 

I liked how this looked so I fused lightweight fusible web to the back of  some bigger pieces and left the baking paper on them that i'd used to protect the iron. I then set up the soldering iron and cut a freehand grid through each of these sheets of fabric and web. This meant I could just peel each square off from the backing fabric like a sticker and then position it over the quilt top and give it a quick tap with the iron to hold it down. I did this while the quilt top was still on the design wall, the flannelette protected the wall itself from the heat. At this point I found out that when you iron vertically irons get heavy!!

 The solder cut squares of fusible web backed organza. This is what was left over so I have tons left for another project! Cutting with the soldering iron meant they heat sealed around the edges - so no fraying.

Next I pillowcased the quilt using the escape hatch as I didn't want any binding (for how a how to please see the tutorial pages on this blog here) and added the quilting.

This is the basic idea behind any of my hand painted fabrics for sale – that anyone can just add batting, backing fabric, quilting and any embellishment they like and have a quick easy unique quilt that's fun to produce.



  1. Does anyone else have problems with formatting with their blogs? My text for this article has changed size half way through and yet in the actual entry it's all meant to be the same size! Have just tried making it bigger and smaller and putting it back to 'normal' and it's while it did come out larger or smaller i can't get it to go back to normal. (and the large is really large!).

  2. when I post to my blog, sometimes the formatting goes stupid/all over the place ... usually when moving photos, or when changing fonts and stuff - I sometimes go in to the html editor and remove a heap of extra html tags and stuff to fix it (which sometimes works - I am no expert) - I had a look at the html for your post and it has about a bazillion more html tags for the fonts than it probably needs to (and doesn't seem to have any to tell the font what size to be in the bits that look really small!) - I have noticed blogger's editor seems to do that (add lots of tags every time you fiddle with stuff) - but it is probably partly how us non-experts at html are using it - all that "making it bigger and smaller" probably adds extra stuff every time you do it (maybe type a whole post and then change the fonts of the different bits to how you want them?) ... most of what little I know about html (and anything else computer/www related actually) is from reading a few bits of the basics online, and fiddling with it in my blog posts/etc - LOL
    btw ... I probably know even less about how to make good art quilts than I do about html ... but ... your figure kind of looks like she needs hands ... or maybe something swirly to sort of "explain" to the eye why one can't see them ... just a thought (I couldn't even draw that figure, let alone her hands!)

  3. Neroli - I think Blogger need to be notified. I spend much longer than necessary formatting what should be a simple step when it doesn't work. The old format (particularly with pics) worked much more easily. Meanwhile, when this happens I copy and paste to a Word doc. Then open a new Blogger Post window and start again. It should work this way. Unfortunately, you can't paste into Blogger - so the idea of the Word doc is to give you a working copy to re-type what you had in the first one, into the second one. Tedious - but no amount of tweaking seems to work. It's rather like turning the computer off to reboot when the wheels fall off. cheers Cait

  4. Oh I am so glad it's not just me!!!! I don't know enough about HTML to take out extra code. (when I design websites for my graphic design clients I just do the front end - the pretty design bits and then give it to a coder to code! When I'm not doing that I'm designing for a person who wants to edit themselves on iweb - so again no HTML needed!).

    I've found the worst is adding a paypal button - (like on the fabric / pattern pages), when I put one in it will work fine. Then I add one to the next product down and all of a sudden it will change formatting on the text, but worse still it makes the first button placed suddenly change so anyone clicking on it buys the product of the second.

    I've tried writing the entire post and then formatting, i've tried formatting as I go. I've found results are worse when I format anything after there's something underneath. In cases like this post though I did it all as I went and it still went weird.

  5. I just found this in the help section. Are either of you two on a mac using Safari? (I am). Am sure when i was having paypal button issues i'd tried firefox as well and that didn't work either though:

    Yes! The Blogger interface is compatible with Mac browsers.

    Some Mac browsers (such as Safari) do not currently support the formatting and hyperlink buttons in our posting screen, though you are still welcome to use formatting and link tags by entering them manually of course. For a browser offering complete support, we recommend trying the latest version of Mozilla Firefox.

  6. Andrea, forgot to reply to your comment on the quilt. One of my friends said the same thing about her needing hands. I wonder if it would have still looked like that so much with no background.

    The idea behind the drawing is that she's mean to be dealing with a heap of turmoil going on around her (hence the background). The lack of hands is meant to illustrate how many changes that cause upset are beyond our ability to do anything about.

    Not sure if that changes how you look at the quilt as visually it's the same picture. (and I'm pretty sure you've done a nude in a tree that If I'm remembering rightly was a brilliant art quilt!)

  7. Hi Neroli! Just popped over from the "Jumpstart" class and loved reading your description of process on your blog for this quilt. Easy to follow links, also - Brava!