CQ Theme blocks for the bold and the brave.

Using one or two bold graphic fabrics in a block is a challenger but to do a entire CQ block with bold prints and make it work is something to behold...  Not only did Cathy Kizarian do one block with bold prints but an entire quilt  "African Images"...and it works beautifully.  The quilt speaks for itself but I do want to point out just a few things.

The orange is obviously the power color and the color that moves your eye around the block...and again there is a lovely quiet space around the focal point...the black around the giraffe....

but Cathy has actually used the directional patterns  in the print to also work a path around the block.
There is one bit of clever whimsy that I don't want you to miss.  The patch upper left of the giraffe repeats all the colors of giraffe patch and Cathy has cleverly put in the little vine that connects the two patches and a bite for the giraffe.. I love it.

And as you look throughout the quilt notice how the embellishments work beautifully with the bold fabrics they are paired with....
This next block has patches that coordinate....perfect harmony
The linier elements are repeated throughout the block..  I picked just a few.
Besides the fabrics with lines she chose elements with bold graphic shapes such as the ones I circled plus the band of fringe which echoes the headband on the woman.

See how different the block would look without these additions.
Here is the entire quilt... You can see more blocks at Cathy's blog by typing in African in the search box and the entire quilt on this link.


Prep Day

Today is prep day.  I got out my very best sheets reserved for company and washed and ironed them.  Likewise this lovely vintage cotton coverlet is saved for special use...

I cut a bouquet of flowers, mainly lavender and calamintha.... both very fragrant and soothing.

I also downloaded 8 audiobooks from the library..Probably only two will be good.  Why all the preparations...  tomorrow is my monthly injections day.  Last month he put 2 shots in my left eye and 3 shots in my right eye.  It was 11 hours before I could bear to open them and the next day before I could focus.  So I just plan on missing a day and come home and go straight to bed in  a dark room and listen to audio books.

I keep reminding myself that I'm lucky there is medication and I don't have anything life threatening... So no posts for couple days..

On a brighter note....last Friday I finally had enough squash blossoms at one time to stuff. I stuffed them with a mixture of ricotta, parmesan,  egg yolk, shrimp and seasoning...

Then they were dipped in batter and deep fried.. known in Italy as fiori di zucca.  They were absolutely delicious..

 Today I have so many blossoms I could feed an army and DH is stopping on the way home to pick up more ricotta.  Also found a recipe for squash blossom risotto, squash blossom pizza, squash blossom soup and a squash blossom frittata.

Block Talk - Kathleen's "Fire"

Just a recap of the design elements I look for when I do a block talk
  1. Contrast -  light/dark, rough/smooth, shiny /dull, soft/hard, quiet/bold etc. 

2. Echoing - repetitions and variations

3. Movement including directional elements and rhythm. 

4 Focal point and/or theme.. not all blocks have either a focal point or theme..

And my definition of a harmonious block is when all parts complement  each other and the whole. 

There's a lot of elements to look for in this piece by Kathleen Klein with the theme of "Fire" And indeed the two hottest spots on the entire block are the yellow/orange in her hair and in the flame.  There is no doubt as to the theme here with fire,flames, embers, sparks etc.

The next thing to notice before I go any further is the nice quiet area in the center that showcases the phoenix.  You may remember this same technique used by Lauri ... nothing is better to highlight a focal point than to surround it with a quiet area.

Next the colors choice.. Liza's block (previous blog post) went from the hottest colors on the color wheel to the left with the coolest color being the green. 

Kathleen's colors also start with the hottest colors on the color wheel but go right instead to include the cool purples.  Again all her colors are touching on the color wheel.. Some people are lucky and just have an innate sense of color but for those of us who don't the color wheel can be a useful tool.  There are unlimited books and articles on color theory and it can be confusing... but just remembering touching colors and complementary colors are be one of the most useful tools....

Now to the design elements  1. Contrast -  light/dark, rough/smooth, shiny /dull, soft/hard, quiet/bold etc. 
 There is the lovely texture of the roving in both the hair and in the bonfire.

There is the silky and pleated texture of the shibori ribbon in the dress and in the bonfire. You have to look closely to see how expertly Kathleen fused the ribbon, roving and beads in the bonfire.

The beaded leaves are 3-dimension...woven off block and attached.  Across the bottom is a highly textured patch with embers of glass beads.  A beautiful contrast between hard/soft.

Then there are the bullions which are also 3 dimensional and add even another texture.  This entire block is a symphony of textures.

2. Echoing ( repetitions and variations) and 3. Movement  (directional elements and rhythm)

It is the echoing that provide the movement in this block... First the start shapes that move right around the block...

and the all the graceful curves in the flowers, hair, dress, and fire keep your eye rising.
And one final point... the importance of the icy lavender accent in the block..  It pops and makes all the colors pop.  Below you can see the difference without it.  Those little accents spots of colors add excitement to the block.
And I hope you have enjoyed my block talk on Kathleen's wonderful block and that it has helped you to look closer and see things in a different way.   Personally I love working with a theme on a block and will soon share a couple of my favorite "out of the box" theme projects before I quit block talking for a while...



Block talk - Lisa Boni

I was asked to feature a block with bright colors and this incredible block by Lisa Boni certainly qualifies.

No laces, trims here, just vibrant color, beautiful stitching and beads...

Before I talk about the colors I want to point out that in all this busyness  of this block that Lisa left that wonderful quiet space in the center patch.  It perfectly accentuates her floral focal point.  If she had filled in that area with stitching the focal point would have been lost all together...

If you looked at these colors separately you might not think to choose to use them together but they are definitely WOW and there is a reason.  They are all touching colors on a color wheel and all relate to each other....harmony right?  The green and pink are the last colors in this section of the wheel to have a warm element in them...

It's no accident that the blue accent on the block stands out.  It's the only cool color and the complementary color of orange. Nervous about color?  If you only picked any three touching colors on ANY part of the color wheel you would be guaranteed to have a harmonious color combination.  Lisa repeated these colors in her choices of threads and beads...

As to repetition (echoing) the most recurring element is an arc and it is everywhere.

And these arcs carry your eye right around the focal point in the block...

And again there was a linear repetition in the stitches she chose.

And last but not least these little yellow beads hop along like little musical notes.

This block was part of a year long CQJP project for Lisa and she used the same colors all year.
In one of her posts she did a critic of her own block which you will find interest to see how the artist looks at her own work..

Since I pointed out using touching colors on the color wheel I should also mention you cannot go wrong using two colors that are across the wheel and complement each other... ...here is an entire block using two complementary colors -blue and orange..  This block is by Claudia Weinwurm in Austria.  She used to blog but hasn't recently.  This was part of her cqjp2012.  She does all types of embroidery but these under the sea blocks were my favorite...  Look at all the movement and activity in the center of this block!!!!

So when you are feeling stuck on a block and looking for the right thing to add....remember contrast, repetition, movement.


More block talk - Sharon Boggon

Ever see a block and you just can't stop looking at it.  What about the block makes it so captivating?  I was asked to feature more blocks, specifically brighter blocks and I will.. But before I do I must lay out the basis for how I look at blocks...  Several years back I took a three-day workshop from Sharon Boggon and before she addressed technique, fabric choice, seam treatments, etc.,  she talked about design elements of a harmonious block and to this day I use the notes from her workshop.

It is mainly four parts...

1. Contrast - not only light/dark but also rough/smooth, shiny /dull, soft/hard, quiet/bold etc. (Contrast adds interest.)

2. Echoing - repetitions and variations

3. Movement including directional elements and rhythm. 

4 Focal point and/or theme.. not all blocks have either a focal point or theme..

And my definition of a harmonious block is when all parts complement  each other and the whole. 

And what better block to look at but one of Sharon's.  If you follow her work you see she rarely uses printed images.  I can only think of two examples.  The best word I can use to describe her work is BOLD!!!

Here the focal point of the block is the mass of embroidery lower right.  She uses these large floral clusters on a lot of her blocks and I love them.

But since it covers such a large area Sharon chose to have the entire upper left with quiet unadorned space to balance out the block...  The large print upper right look like a heavier weight and it is contrasted with the pinkish satin/silk and the gray linen.  Not everything needs to be silk... a point to keep in mind.

And the elements in this floral mass are not random.. each flower and bead works to move your eye around the block.

All the little floral beads are like musical notes whisking you along.

Notice the large print of heavy decorator fabric upper right.

This had to be her inspiration piece as all the colors of the fabrics, thread and ribbons are drawn from this one small patch of fabric.  It is a very bold print and Sharon leaves it open.

This is a great way to pick a color palette for a piece of needlework.  Just find a print that speaks to your heart and use it as a guide.

So this is a limited palette and very soothing.  But a limited palette can also be vivid and energized as I will show you soon.

We don't have to look far to see echoes and it is the flower in the  inspiration fabric.. it is repeated in various forms all over the block.

And the triangle/fan shape is repeated again and again in the seam work...  I swear Sharon can do a bullion in 2 seconds..

Her style is very unique and different than most stitching in the United States.. She wrote a wonderful article for cqmagonline and not only should you read it but print a copy as well. As I show you more blocks I plan to show you many different styles of CQ but you can find contrast, variation and movement in all of them.. 


Beth Norris's perfect little heart.

Crazy Quilt International recently held a little challenge.  Each entry had to use this heart pattern which is quite small... I believe I remember it was 4".  This entry was by Beth Norris and I was so taken with it that I wanted to share it with you.  If I were teaching a beginning crazy quilt class I could use this one small piece of needlework to illustrate all I think is important for success..  For me the main goal for  every piece I stitch is   is "harmony" and this is indeed a harmonious piece and I want to point out why in case you missed it..
First of all there is the color... You cannot go wrong with a limited palette as it is instant harmony.  It is the most important thing I admire about Sharon Boggon's work... She takes a limited palette and makes it sing!  Here Beth chose only shades of beige and turquoise.
Next is how she used the shape of the patches.  The heart pattern itself makes an odd shape patch obvious and Beth not only embraced this shape she accentuated it by using a curved design...  The needlework is working "with" the curve of the heart.
Likewise is true with the bottom of the heart.  Not only once, but repeatedly, she echoed the shape.  Repetition or echoing an element is another sure way to a successful block and I urge students to actively include this in their work...

Throughout this small piece she repeated or echoed elements.  Here in these very linear stitching techniques.
And again with the chain stitches

And in the circular shapes in the flowers and butterfly.

For me the most captivating patch was this long and narrow one.  Not a easy one to fill effectively.. But Beth did it so beautifully with this elegant fox.  The patch was not only long and narrow, it was wider at the bottom...  Notice how the shape of the fox fits perfectly.... brilliant.

Last but not least, please notice how every element moves your eye around the block.  There is not one thing that leads your eye out of the block.. even the ears and tail of the fox are directional.

I am looking forward to seeing more of Beth's work.  There is such a lot to learn and remember from this small piece.  Just lovely!!!



Painting again!!

It has been months since I've painted buttons and it felt good to be doing it again... To get going I have been adding some new critters and my favorite is the fawn.  These buttons are a little larger than a quarter... 1 1/8".  I have many more that will be going up over the next week.
They are available at https://www.etsy.com/shop/olderrose
 I can see well enough with my newest lamp.  But actually it's the hand rather than the eye that is critical.. People are always saying it must take very good eyes to paint so small but what is critical is a VERY steady hand...  Also the brain compensates for what the eye can't see and communicates with the hand..   If you were to take a pen and paper you would find you can write your name very well with your eyes completely closed. The brain "sees" what the hand is doing. Have you ever done those exercises where letters are all jumbled and you can still read the text...? It is the same principal.  So even with my distorted vision I'm finding that I can do it... But even still the most important thing is the steady hand...without that all is naught. 

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