Monday, August 3, 2020

My Soul in a Blackberry Pie in Life in the City exhibit



My piece "My Soul in a Blackberry Pie" is included in the "Life in the City" exhibit at the Front Street Galleries, 1001 E. Second St. in downtown Dayton. The event will take place this Friday, Aug. 7 from 5-9 pm and again on Sunday, Aug. 16 from 11-4 pm. The plan is to have the exhibit outside in the courtyard unless the weather is bad, in which case it will be held indoors with social distancing. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Vintage Quilt Tops and Orphan Blocks


Bed quilt made from vintage quilt tops, 92" x 100"

A friend contacted me because she had several quilt tops and orphan blocks made by her maternal grandmother but they'd never been made into quilts and she wondered if I could finish them for her. Most of them were hand pieced and I let her know that I could finish them but I'd wouldn't be hand quilting them and she was fine with that. She only have a few requests, she wanted some of them put together to make a bed quilt and there was one that already had borders on it that she wanted as a throw quilt. She'd like a few of the others to also be throw quilts but would also like some pillows and table runners, whatever I thought was best. 

The bed quilt (above) was made with two throw-size tops and some orphan blocks. The center is "Drunkards Path" which is an interesting quilt block because it has curves in it, which is more difficult to make. I included a thin border around it on three sides using the same maroon fabric that I used for the back and binding, to provide a visual break between the different patchwork patterns and to tie it all together. I created this using a quilt-as-you-go method so I didn't have to work with the whole bulk at one time and after quilting this part I added the sides and then the bottom.

The sides are made from a "Hunter's Star (variation)" that I cut in half. (My friend was totally OK with me cutting up any of these vintage tops). I considered using it for the center but some of the triangles had bias edges which had stretched some over the years and I was concerned about things lining up. Both this piece and the "Drunkards Path" were hand pieced so I fused innerfacing to the back of them to add some strength to the vintage fabrics and also keep them from stretching when I quilted them.

Across the bottom I pieced together some "Liberated Log Cabin" blocks that had been finished but never assembled together. These were originally machine pieced on foundation blocks so I didn't feel the need to fuse any innerfacing to them.

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Stars and Cubes, 58" x 74"

This vintage quilt top was the only one to have a border on it and it seemed that the outside edges of the border were all selvage edges, which was nice because there wasn't any fraying along the edges. I fused innerfacing to the back of the quilt top, added batting and a backing fabric, and quilt it with large "x" shapes through the blocks.


Checkerboard, 46" x 55"

There was actually a little more to this as I think it was supposed to be bigger. There was a row of sashing (the white rectangles with the red squares that are between the blocks) along the bottom of this piece. There were also some checkerboard blocks in with the orphan blocks but not enough to finish a row, and these orphan blocks came in handy for patching some of the other pieces. So I removed the extra sashing, fused innerfacing to the back of the quilt top, added batting and a backing fabric, and quilt it with large "x" shapes through the blocks.


Bats on a Crazy Quilt, 54" x 75"

This piece had random shapes hand pieced on top of six foundation fabrics that were then sewn together. While the foundation fabric looked like a backing, the raw seams from where the six pieces were sewn together were visible. There was also a binding hand sewn to it and several of the pieces were either ripped or worn away, which makes me think this one was used as a summer quilt. 

My friend's original thought was for me to use some of the other orphan blocks as patches, and I did do that in five spots. I know my friend likes bats so I added six fused, raw-edge bat appliques using three different fabrics so if more bats need to be added it the future, the fabric won't have to match. All of the bats were strategically arranged to cover holes or fabric that had worn away.


Grandmother's Flower Garden table topper, 29" x 26"

As someone who has never made anything with hexigons, I considered this to be one of the treasures of this collection. This was also supposed to be larger as there was another hexigon attached but I saw that if I removed it, it would make a balanced shape that could be used as a table topper. I used a pillowcase method of attaching the backing fabric and binding then did a little machine quilting around the center hexigons.

Road to the White House, 38" x 10"

This piece started as four orphan blocks. They didn't seem to match any of the other pieces so I sewed them together and made this wall hanging that could also be a table runner.

Vintage quilt block pillows, 14" x 14"

There were eight orphan blocks, four of them with the same "Carpenter's Wheel" design so I made these into pillows.

(L-R) Carpenter's Wheel, Good Cheer (variation), Rolling Star, Crazy Quilt

Working with vintage quilt tops is a little tricky as over time some fabrics can fray or disintegrate all together. For any that are just one layer of fabric, it helps to fuse innerfacing to the back and if cutting one apart to be aware that the recently cut edges on a hand-pieced top might unstitch themselves without the knot there to hold them closed. 

They are likely more fragile than a new quilt so you'll want to not tug on the fabrics and wash them as infrequently as possible, using a gentle cycle and air drying, if possible.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Art to UPlift: Watercolors & Art Quilts by Libby Rudolf & Pam Geisel

"Daybreak is Your Midnight" and "Whoo?" are two of the pieces that I have in the Art to UPlift show at the Winds Cafe.

While unfortunately all of the festival shows that I do (Art on the Lawn, Yellow Springs Open Studios, and Art & Soul) have been cancelled for 2020, I did recently get an opportunity to be a part of an exhibit at the Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs. My friend Libby, who paints amazing watercolors, was scheduled to have a show and the person she was going to exhibit with wasn't able to participate so she asked me.

The show can be seen in person at the Winds Cafe, 215 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs when they are open or at our Virtual Reception here. We are not having a reception but are open to meeting people at Winds for a drink or a personal tour.

Both of our husbands are board members for the Glen Helen Association and they have recently helped negotiate for the Association to purchase the Glen from Antioch College. The Glen was closed at the start of the pandemic and hasn't yet reopened and not only are donations needed to make the purchase, they are also needed to reopen the Glen and to keep in running. Libby and I decided that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of our artwork will go to the Save the Glen fund. We'll donate 10% of sales for pieces that are $499 and under and 25% for pieces that are $500 and up.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Flowers Kissing Air - A Collaborative Art Quilt

"Flowers Kissing Air," 15" x 15", by Therese O'Connor and Pam Geisel, Winter/Spring 2020

Back at the beginning of the year I saw a post from a woman who creates art under the name DuchessFrouFrou, who created a group called CoLaborArt Quilts and was organizing a collaborative quilt project for this year. She picks a theme, sends hand-dyed fabric to each participant, coordinates who the second artist is. Each participant starts one project but finishes a different one. The final size of all of the quilts are 15" x 15" and they are sent to her to arrange to have them exhibited together.


The photo at the top of the post is the finished piece, which I finished. This photo is the part that my collaborator did then sent to me. She also got pink hand-dyed fabric but one of hers had a stripy feel to it.

She did some curved piecing for the background which always impresses me because while I've done a little curved piecing, it seems difficult for me. She also made some cool 3D flowers. But there needed to be something in the center and I felt some pressure to find a way to add an element that added to the piece without being too dominant.

I looked over the sketches and notes that she'd sent and she said that walking in nature was sacred to her. When looking at the piece the pink and white striped part near the bottom reminded me of a river so I thought I'd put a bridge going from the dark foreground to the flowers. But not just any bridge, a red, curved, Japanese-style bridge.


I liked how the red works with the pink and also how the shape of the bridge allows it to go down into the flowers. The bridge is fused and I sewed down the raw edges during the quilting process. I also added some small pink flowers on the left side of the bridge although I didn't make them 3D.


For the quilting I used a meandering free motion stitch in the light blue sky and also over the green and blue leaves since they were fused and I wanted to make sure they stayed in place.


Here are the 3D flowers that Therese made. She also did the hand beading.

You can read about the piece that I started here.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Have You Heard? The World is Love - A Collaborative Art Quilt

"Have You Heard? The World is Love," 15" x 15" by Pam Geisel & and Vicki Conley, Winter/Spring 2020 

Back at the beginning of the year I saw a post from a woman who creates art under the name DuchessFrouFrou, who created a group called CoLaborArt Quilts and was organizing a collaborative quilt project for this year. She picks a theme, sends hand-dyed fabric to each participant, coordinates who the second artist is. Each participant starts one project but finishes a different one. The final size of all of the quilts are 15" x 15" and they are sent to her to arrange to have them exhibited together.


The photo at the top of the post is the finished piece, which I started. This photo is the part that I did. I got two pieces of hand-dyed fabric and they were both pink. One was a hot pink that had light pink dots on it and the other had parts that were pale and other parts that were almost purple.

The theme was "Sacred" and after some thought, I decided that the earth is sacred but since the fabric was pink I decided to make the earth in the shape of a heart. This was back in February, so I could have also been influenced by Valentine's Day. I intentionally didn't make the heart shape very distinct in case the second artist wanted to go another direction.


I fused the continent shapes to the background and sewed around the raw edges. Because the background was a pale pink I used pieces of the fabric to make the shape of the heart by "blending" random shapes of fabric from light to dark. These are fused but I didn't sew them down since I usually do that during the quilting process and someone else was going to do the quilting.


I did get to name the piece and I used a Beatle's song title with a slight change. The song is "Have You Heard? The Word is Love." My title is "Have You Heard? The World is Love." I think the Beatles would be OK with that interpretation.

You can read about the piece that I finished here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Stained Glass Window Art Quilt

"All Saints' Corpus Christi Stained Glass Window," 38" x 47", made by Pam Geisel, Jan. 2020

Earlier this year I was contacted by the All Saints' Episcopal Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. They were hosting a diocese convocation and wanted a quilted banner based from a photo of one of their stained glass windows.

Working from the photo provided, I removed the horizontal design elements near the bottom of the piece so I would have a place to put their logo.

Then I pulled out batik fabrics that I thought were close in color to the stained glass, which I cut to the correct shape and fused to a white background fabric.


I also fused the letters, which I stitched around the raw edges. I basted the quilt top with batting and a backing fabric and it was time to start quilting.


Luckily I already had a lot of black fusible bias tape which I used to make the "leading" in the window. I fused it to where the different color fabrics met and then sewed down both sides with black thread. The tricky part was the order which it was fused and sewn so I could get as many raw edges underneath other pieces of the bias tape.

I did the leading on the interior wings of the dive first then I covered all of the light purple dove fabric with a purple tulle that had some silver sparkles on it. (You can see them when they're on top of the black bias tape in the photo above). I wasn't sure how well the tulle worked until I stepped back and then I think it really added to the stained glass effect.

The binding was a knife-edge facing and I added two sleeves and a stick with some cording so they would be able to carry the banner during the convocation.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Christmas in April?

"Happy Little Christmas Trees" Table Topper, 16" x 16", made by Pam Geisel, April 2020

We've been in "quarantine" so long that I'm not sure what day it is, or even what month, although I'm pretty sure it's not December. I've heard of Christmas in July but I don't think it's July, either. I've been told that it's April so we'll go with that.


I recently got this red fabric with the green Christmas trees on it. If you've been following my blog, you might know that fabric sometimes speaks to me. (If not, you can read this short post.) This Christmas fabric was also speaking to me so I took a break from my other work and made this holiday piece. I added the green fabric in the middle to coordinate with the trees. The red piece in the center has gold printed on it.


I call this a "Table Topper" as opposed to a "Table Runner" because for me, a runner needs to be rectangular in shape and not square. I also believe that both table toppers and table runners can go directly on a table or on top of a table cloth. This one would look nice on a green, red, or cream colored table cloth.