Friday, March 28, 2014

Red was Lacking in My Fabric Stash

A Quilter's Lumberyard Pattern
I am so proud to have this finished. A couple of years ago my friends Patty Bowers and Cheryl Coffman from 'A Quilter's Lumberyard' showed us this pattern using the 2 X 4's which are really 2 1/2" X 4 1/2" fabric pieces.
Figuring out a Pleasing Layout from Fabric Scraps
That year, I also decided to evaluate what a quilter's stash contains and I made a runner using 2 1/2" squares from the fabrics in my own stash. While I had those scrap fabrics out, I decide to cut some of 2 X 4's and that is how this quilt was born. The layout as to colour was a bit tricky as there was a lot of blue and quite a bit of pink and several of the other colours did not have many blocks at all. I actually had to buy some red material having had no pure red in my stash at all. So rather than making a rainbow with horizontal or vertical lines, I decided to let the colours run diagonally, blending the edges together.
Runner: 'Evaluation of a Quilter's Stash'
This quilt top was machine quilted it using my 40+ year old Bernina sewing machine. This everyday quilt will replace my grandma's quilt which sadly wore out after many years use. I think Grandma would approve of the scrap nature of this quilt but perhaps would have thought it should have been hand quilted as hers was.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wine Bag Quilted Tutorial using Hand Painted Fabric

Using one of my 3 1/2" X 8 1/2" hand dye painted rectangle,  I made this wine bag using a pattern from Pieceful Designs. Click here to find the pattern .

Wine bag with my
hand dye painted fabric.

Sew on strips and the main bag fabric.
Layer light cotton, batting and top piece
Backside of free motion stitching of the grapes.
Quilting lines added to the main part of the bag.
Quilt a square for the bottom and cut out a circle.

Sew in the bottom. Sew a lining and insert inside your wine bag with wrong sides together. Bind the top edge and add handles and a button detail. Aren't those purple buttons the greatest!

Completed insulated wine bag. Nice for carrying your own wine or for gift giving.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Flowers Hold Special Memories - on Hand Painted Textile

Hand dye painted fabric
What a fun panel this was to work on. I have painted several blocks on one panel before but never just with only one colour of flower. Also, the addition of the text was new for me. Sometimes you need a challenge in order to do things differently and that is just what happened with this project last week.
One of my quilt group members was planning on commissioning me to paint a series of pink flowers, so in preparation for meeting to discuss it, I made this up as a sample. It worked so well having something to look at while we were talking specifics about what she wanted that I feel confident to go ahead.
The technique I am using is painting on cotton with thickened fibre reactive dyes. Below I first lightly sketched the images in pencil onto soda soaked and dried cotton fabric. Then I outlined the images in a thin black line of the thickened dye. After curing it, I added the colour, again using the thickened dye and applying it by paint brush. After curing, the panel was washed out using a Synthropol like detergent and rinsed until the water ran clear. I like to iron the piece dry for the best pressing results. 

Painting with dyes on soda soaked cotton 
Hint: Do not iron the soda soaked fabric before applying the dye as the fabric easily scorches. Note the somewhat wrinkled appearance of the fabric in the above photo. I stretch it and tape with masking tape to create a fairly smooth surface.

8 1/2" square
by Eileen Gidman
Painted block all ready for quilting, sewing or framing. Glads remind me of my cousin's husband who used to grow them in a field for cut flowers. I think fondly of those days.
8 1/2" square
by Eileen Gidman
In a recent bouquet I got, the lily certainly took center stage. Beautiful aren't they.
8 1/2" square
by Eileen Gidman
These cosmos remind me of my mother's garden. Do different types of flowers hold different memories for you?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Carving a Winter Wren

Close Up View
carved by Eileen Gidman
Creston, B.C.
Winter wren, is a delightful little bird that has the perfect habitat close to our home. It lives along a creek that has thick forest on each side of it. This little wren is so special to me that I named my art business after it, 'Winterwren Gallery'. This bird has a melodious song that seems like it should be coming from a bird twice it's size. I open my bedroom window creek side just to have it wake me up on a spring morning.
The summer before last, my husband and I witnessed a family of young wrens flitting along the creek and going under roots on a bank where I am sure their nest was.  In contrast, one cold winter night a few years back, I was able to see several of the winter wren gather together at dusk, on the second story balcony of our log house and get into an old robin's nest that rested on one of the purlin logs under the roof. I understand they do this on cold nights is to conserve warmth. I felt happy my home could provide them with shelter.
I took up carving one day a week this winter and after several small projects, I started on my beloved winter wren. It took me about 4 full day sessions and a lot of help from a master carver Joyce, to get it ready for staining. This is one piece of artwork I won't be giving away.
Check back as I will soon be posting a watercolour painting of a winter wren in it's natural habitat.
If you like birds, here is an interesting blog to check out: Prairie Birdwatcher Feathers on Friday
Wood Burning Feathers
Drilling Two Tiny Holes for Mounting on this Found Wood Piece
Mounted Winterwren


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Visiting Longarm Quilter Sandy Turner

This winter, I had the pleasure of visiting textile artist, instructor and longarm quilter Sandy Turner at her studio. Meeting with another textile artist and 'talking the talking' was exhilarating. As artists usually work independently, when they meet, the sharing of ideas can be at a furious pace and that day was just that. Too much fun!
Sandy Turner's business is: The Quilter in the Big Blue House. The following photos are samples of Sandy's beautiful textile art as well as photos of her and her husband Stan's home.

Sandy Turner's Appliqued Wall Hanging

Sandy Turner's Small and Intricate Framed Wall Hanging
Sandy beside a Self Portrait in Textile
One of the Two Longarm Quilting Machines
Outside Sandy and Stan's House
Lots of interesting artifacts artfully displayed.
Outside Sandy and Stan's House
Someplace for the birdies to have a bath!

It was amazing to see this business the Turner's have created. Stan is a full partner in their business as he services sewing machines and is also a long arm quilter.  It was a busy place with several people dropping off and picking up quilts in the two hours I was there.  It was interesting to see that the process for meeting to decide how to quilt someone's quilt top is much like a meeting when doing a commissioned watercolour painting. It has to be quite a detailed dialogue with a blending of ideas.  Check out Sandy and Stan Turner's link here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Lemon yellow, butter yellow, aureolin, cadmium yellow, chartreuse, canary, citrine, goldenrod, golden yellow, hansa yellow, naples yellow are a few of the names to describe the colour/hue of yellow. Some people think it is a challenging colour.
I've even heard a quilter say "Don't put yellow in a quilt". Why??? For me, I wouldn't think that true so I checked through my recent art work to see how often I use yellow. Quite often it turns out. Perhaps she meant don't use all yellow. Hmmm...has anyone made an all yellow quilt? (Send me a photo at I know I have seen yellow mixed in with black and white and it was beautiful.
Journal style on Textile
My first attempt at using a journaling style on a dye painted panel. I loved adding the text and can't wait to try more. The dragonfly design was created using a stamp. A simple way to make original stamps is to cut shapes out of the sheets of foam you can buy at a craft store. Glue the shapes to a block of wood. This surface works perfectly with the thickened dyes I use and I am sure would work well for textile paints as well.

My Hand-dyed Blocks
This week I packaged ten 8 1/2" dye painted blocks that are ready for quilting or framing. I see yellow 'Brittle Bush' and yellow-orange 'Poppies' in this mix.
4 1/2" X 6 1/2" Textile Card Blank of Hand Dyed Cotton
This week our quilt group joined with the Tuscany Quilt group to put on an annual quilt show. I had the pleasure of demonstrating free motion stitching on my hand dyed fabrics for making into textile cards. There seemed to be a lot of quilters interesting in trying some. If you don't have hand dyed materials you could start with some fabrics pieced together. Ironing them onto a stiff interfacing gives a solid base for free motion stitching.

Pillow by Eileen Gidman

Last summer I made this pillow using a hand painted square with added commercial fabrics. Doesn't that yellow and blue look lively together?

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman 
 A recent watercolour journal page. Here I have added the secondary colours of green and orange for an analogous/harmonious three colour scheme.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Day's Work in the Studio

Ten 8 1/2" Dye Painted Blocks on Cotton
Sometimes people ask me "How long did that take you to paint?" Well, here is a sample of the results for one working day in the studio - yesterday. The fabric had already been prepared by soaking in soda ash and dried.
For the first step, I decide on one thing to draw and while I am painting that, an idea usually comes for the next image. I paint from my sketches, my reference photos, and occasionally from my imagination. Then I draw the images using a bottle filled with black dye and a nib. This day, by the time I had 8 images drawn, it was lunch time and I was ready for a quick nap. Did you know napping increases creativity? Well truth be know, I would probably have a 10 minute nap anyway.
Then with a  paint brush, I painted in the thickened dye paying particular attention to the dark colours as they are the most challenging to achieve. To have white in the piece, I need to paint around the area so that the white cotton shows. This is very much like the techniques used in watercolour painting.  
"My Art Dog" 

Sometimes my 'Art Dog' comes to visit me in the studio. She curls up under my studio table until she is bored and then heads out looking for someone to play a game of ball with her. It was late afternoon by the time I was done and by then I was ready to relax. Creating is fun but surprisingly tiring.


Skimmerhorn Wine for Happy Hour 
Sharing Skimmerhorn Winery's ( Kootenay Crush 2012 for a special happy hour. It was wonderful to catch up with friends. I decided to create a journal page as a memento for my self, showing the Kootenay Crush wine label my art work was on. Although I have been gravitating to this casual style of painting recently, the addition of text was new for me.
Journal Style Watercolour
by Eileen Gidman