2020 / mixed media / quilting

a new direction

I haven’t done much, really any, work with textiles over the last 6 months. Once I finished my house plants quilt my desire to work on anything whimsical dried up and I just wasn’t interested in doing anything but working on my photography.

House Plants 43″ x 50″

My textile work is very whimsical and quite frankly with all that’s been going on the last few months whimsy has been the last thing on my mind. But something happened the other day – someone called me a bird nerd. I laughed and said I absolutely am! The phrase stuck with me and it kept rattling around in my brain and I decided to look and see if I could find a shirt with “bird nerd” on it. I looked around but couldn’t find one I liked and so I decided to break out the drawing supplies and I created my design…

and I put it on a T-shirt and a hat! (These are now available on my zazzle shop if you’re interested in getting one for yourself. )

That drawing sort of got my creative juices flowing a bit. I thought the design might make a fun little quilt but I wanted to do something different than what I would usually do. I was sitting at my desk thinking about how to approach it when my eyes landed on a stack of old Uppercase magazines piled up on the floor next to me. That made me think of collage so…

I decided to play with the idea of creating collages that are a combination of paper and fabric. I knew I was going to want to have some snippets of text to incorporate into the collage so I took an old paperback book, tore out the pages and colored them with paint. Once they were dry I put Mistyfuse on the back of them and then started experimenting.

My first attempt: I created a background using overlapping strips of fabric that I then cut up and fused on a piece of fabric. Then I added the bird and other elements cut from both fabric and paper. Fused everything in place and then decided to just use black free motion quilting to add some stitch lines.

I was pleased with the way this turned out. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it was fun to do and it felt like the technique had some potential. I wasn’t thrilled with the background though so I asked myself what if…

I just used the overlapping strips as they were for the background.

Not bad but those horizontal lines are too pronounced and I find them distracting. So I asked the question again: what if…

I created a background of randomly cut pieces of fabric and paper and used that as the background.

Better. The background doesn’t stand out as much, it recedes and the birds pop off the surface a bit better. But what if…

I used a plain white background.

Now the birds are definitely the focus point!

So what’s next? Well I am definitely having some fun exploring (what I am now calling) mixed media quilted collage. Not sure where it is going to take me from here – there are still a lot of questions to be answered – do I stick with just black stitching, how precise should I be with the quilting, what’s the right balance between the paper and the fabric, do I stick with just text pages or do I incorporate imagery with color too, how will this scale up into larger designs, how well will the piece travel if it has to be rolled and shipped…. Lots of questions! It feels good to have a new direction and technique to explore and I am excited about the possibilities!

Check out my new online classes and lectures here!

3 thoughts on “a new direction

  1. What fun indeed! I like the subtle patched background and the randomly-pieced background, but I agree — the significantly striped one is a bit “in your face” and distracts from your cute birds. The white background has echoes of your “usual” style…

    Then I got to thinking, of course, what you could do with other critters…such as “Fat Cat” or (for Susan Lenz) “Mouse House”… 😉 It’s good to be having whimsical fun again though, isn’t it?


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