Here at Quilting Arts Magazine, we love the sunshine months of spring and summer. Outside the office the landscapers are hard at work, the rhododendrons are in full regalia, and the sunshine fuels our creative spirit. And we’re not the only ones feeling the good weather vibes! Throughout the years many Quilting Arts contributors have been inspired by flowers and their beauty. Grab a copy of the June/July 2019 issue for floral inspiration from Jean Impey and Karen Ponischil. As we approach our hundredth issue we’ve turned our sights back to some flower inspiration to revisit! Read on for tons of flower power fun!
Wildflower monoprinting with Holly McLean
As a child, I spent much of my time roaming fields and forests and wading in streams. The natural world fascinated me. I often returned home with bits of flora and sometimes fauna in my pockets—my mother would inspect my pockets with trepidation before washing—and I still do that today.
Throughout the summer and fall, I often collect flowers, foliage, and even seaweed, pressing and preserving them in old phone books for use during the winter months. Over the years, I have used these treasures in various ways in my artwork.
When I first discovered gelatin mold monoprinting, I began making monoprints using my pressed flora and a homemade gelatin plate. It was a natural progression to combine my love of fiber art and the pieces of flora that I had pressed and saved. Now, I use a reusable gel printing plate for convenience. The fabric I create is lovely for so many projects, like these needle books.
Color is king
- It helps to be familiar with the color wheel when mixing paints.
- If you choose complementary colors—those that are opposites on the color wheel—they will turn into grays or browns when mixed.
- Two primary (red, blue, or yellow) or two analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel—like blue and green, purple and pink, pink and orange) work well.
Holly McLean is a SAQA member, quilt maker, and fiber artist living in Canada. She has won several exhibits from local shows and exhibits her work around the world. She enjoys playing with paints and fiber and expressing her love of nature and the outdoors in her artwork.
Spring in Full Bloom
Create a series of free-motion stitched wildflower art quilts with Jeanelle McCall
This little series, “Sweet Wildflowers,” is guaranteed to dispel any leftover winter blues and brighten your room. Easy and fun to make, just cut small fabric scraps into circles of various sizes, do a little free-motion stitching, and watch your garden grow.
- Quilt batting (5″ × 6½” for each arrangement)
- Fabric scraps for flowers
- Fabric strips for background (3 pieces approximately 2″ × 6 1⁄2″ in pale, muted colors for each arrangement)
- Thread (light color)
- Thread (black)
- Small pieces of off-white fabric (to add interest in the background)
- Pins or glue stick
- Sewing machine with free-motion stitching capabilities
- Gold, shiny fabric (optional)
- Embroidery needle and thread (optional)
- Beads, beading needle, and thread (optional)
The secret to making your piece pop is to combine colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Start by constructing flowers using analogous colors (colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel). For the small accent flowers (dots) use the opposite colors. To make your work pop even more, try using different values. For example, if the large flowers are a light value, make the small accent flowers a dark value.
Creating your own ‘Sweet Wildflowers’
- Begin by creating the background. Cover the batting with 3 overlapping fabric strips, each approximately 2″ × 61⁄2″, and sew them to the batting using a zigzag stitch (or any other stitch) with light colored thread.
- Freehand cut 5 circles 1″–13⁄4″ in diameter from bright orange fabric. These will be the bases of the large flowers. Layer progressively smaller circles in analogous colors onto the base circles. Arrange the flowers in a pleasing manner and pin them to the background (or use a glue stick).
- Cut several small dark teal circles 3⁄8″–3⁄4″ in diameter. For extra sparkle, cut a few shiny gold circles and place them under the teal circles. For additional contrast, sporadically place small rectangles of off-white fabric under a few of the small and large circles. Again, pin or glue all of the parts in place.
- Using black thread, free-motion stitch petals on the large flowers, and stitch spirals on the teal circles.
If you wish to add any other embellishments, do so now.
- And that’s all there is to it! You now have a beautiful garden to brighten your day.
Jeanelle McCall, an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator, creates her joyful art using a variety of techniques. When she began ‘painting’ with fabric, the combination of texture, color, and history became a powerful format for expressing her artistic passions.
Abstracting the Essence
Create abstract flowers with fabric collage with Constance Grayson
The primary goal in this body of fabric collage work is to simplify; to strip an image to its primary essence. I have developed a technique to help me focus on the essential visual center of the image while giving the finished piece a painterly feel. I do this primarily by layering pieces of ever more translucent fabric onto the base, much as a painter would apply increasingly translucent layers of oil or acrylic paint. In this process, organza, tulle, and sheer ribbons are truly my friends.
The design phase
I begin by selecting a photograph which I then manipulate on the computer using photo editing software. Since my aim is to create a collage akin to a painting, I like to enhance the photo using the software’s filters. For this piece I used the Watercolor filter in Adobe Photoshop Elements and the image took on the look of brush strokes and paint.
Although my inspiration starts with the photo, my finished collage may not be a literal interpretation of it. Once the image is in my head, I work intuitively to create the piece. For someone trying this technique for the first time, I recommend placing the photo on a design wall or near your workspace so you can refer to it when needed.
The materials phase
The next step is the fun part—selecting fabrics and materials for the collage.
After I have the basic design elements in place on my collage, I reserve small sections of the fabric I used in that step to include later. I usually just cut those fabrics into random shapes, trying to keep an organic rather than a geometric line to the cut edges. I then place those shapes around the piece, literally as the spirit moves me, in an effort to have the fabric colors and patterns move around the piece. I usually use only one or two patterned fabrics in any one piece, relying instead on subtle color variations and texture to add interest. This is an extremely forgiving technique and it is easy to make adjustments as you go along.
The finishing phase
Finally, I mount my work on stretcher bars or artist canvas and then hang it like a painting. Try it—you might like treating your work like fine art!
Fabric & Fiber of All Kinds
Like many artists, my studio is a repository for everything from recycled clothing to mesh fruit bags. Anything can find its way into one of my fabric collages. No matter how large the finished piece will be, this process is perfect for using up all those little too-precious-to-throw-away scraps that we all have tucked away. I have bolts of tulle in every color, sheer ribbons, and organza, all of which I use in large and small ways.
Constance Grayson lives in her native central Kentucky where she explores her love of color, form, and texture in fabric and paper collages and in abstract paintings. In all these art forms, Constance applies the same intuitive, creative process—simply allowing the work to take her where it wants to go.
If you enjoyed these snapshots of floral inspiration, get your copy of Quilting Arts Magazine June/July 2019 now for even more quilt-y stimulation.