Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Series by Diane

Diane 2012 Series
Diane's painted Maverick work in the 2012 series, Art with a Needle and Thread , is in a sketchbook style and reflects her exploration with sketching, lettering and water colours.  You can read more about this meditative practice on Tea and Talk for Two, a trans-Atlantic blog conversation that she engages in with UK Twelve Helen.

2012 Series by Françoise

Françoise 2012 Series
Françoise's 2012 series reflects her love of all things Japanese and she is continuing her Japanese studies in 2013: She also bought herself a loom as an early Christmas present.  See the beautiful results on Françoise's blog.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 series by Gerrie

Gerrie 2012 Series

Congratulations to Gerrie who has two articles in the Winter 2013 issue of Art Quilting Studio
 Art Quilting Studio

Gerrie has made many aspen-inspired quilts, including her BrownSageBlue challenge and one of the articles showcases her aspen quilts.  The second article reviews Gerrie's creative process in Art Cloth Constructions.  There are lots of wonderful photos!

Gerrie has also been undertaking a personal 3x3 project in 2012.  It will be exciting to see what it looks like on New Year's Day!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Series by Karen

Karen 2012 Series
Congratulations to Karen whose textile work, High Water Mark, was chosen from over 851 entries for Quilt National 2013, the eighteenth international juried competition for new innovative quilts, on display May 24 – September 2, 2013 at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio (USA).

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Series by Kristin

Kristin 2012 Series
If you haven't already done so, check out Kristin's revamped website which include her Army Wives series. On her blog, Kristin has recently announced a daily self-portrait project for the next year..  Do you have something creative planned for 2013?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 Series by Kirsten

Kirsten 2012 Series
Kirsten is looking forward to seeing the Colourplay Series for the first time "in the cloth" at the Australasian Quilt Convention, Melbourne, Australia, 18-21 April 2013 and to sharing the collection with her local community in Townsville at Pinnacles Gallery, 29 April - 31 May 2013.

By the way, please contact us if you can help with our exhibition at Craft & Quilt Fair, Palmerston North, New Zealand 14-17 February 2013.  We are looking for someone to install the exhibit on Wednesday afternoon and take it down on Sunday so this is your chance to get up close and personal with the Twelve by Twelve work (and get a free pass to the show).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Series by Terry

Terry 2012 Series

Terry looks forward to experimenting more with over-dyed shirtings in 2013  She is also giving a talk and slideshow presentation to two Guilds in Oregon early in the New Year:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Series by Brenda

Brenda 2012 Series
Working out design and technical issues in a small format builds skills for tackling larger projects. Brenda is indebted to the Twelve by Twelve project for sparking several series in her portfolio including:

Desire Lines 
Brenda's new instructional DVD Improvising Using Stacks of Solids is now on sale with the special issue of Modern Quilts by Quilters Companion.  The magazine also includes an in-depth profile and images of some of Brenda's recent work.  Brenda is hosting a series of giveaways on her blog to celebrate.
Modern Quilts - Improvising Using Stacks of Solids

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Series by Terri

Terri 2012 Series
Terri has a new line of stencil designs available from the Stencil Girl website and bags, art quilts and other creations for sale in Terri's Etsy Shop. You are all invited to join Terri on her new facebook page

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Series by Deborah

Deborah 2012 Series
Throughout the 2012 Series and the entire Twelve by Twelve collaboration, Deborah has developed and refined her own personal set of  shapes, symbols and motifs using layering and collage techniques.  Deborah shares these techniques in her video workshop, Contemporary Fabric Collage: Design, Stitch and Finish which  includes chapters on fabric selection, composition, using sheer fabrics, stitching by machine and by hand, and unique finishing options. The workshop is available as a DVD and as a digital download.  Both are currently on sale (at least at the time of writing).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twelve Times Twelve Times Twenty Times ?

Goodness!  When we started our Twelve by Twelve challenge back in the fall of 2007, we had no idea that it would bring us to where we are.  288 12-inch square quilts... 60 20x12 inch quilts... A book... Magazine articles ... Exhibits all over the world... Friends and fans who know our work and have emailed us and come up to us at shows to tell us how we've inspired them... Opportunities to lecture and teach... Challenge groups modeled after ours...  It has been an amazing 5 years.

I think all of us would say that, for all of the fun and inspiration we've experienced over this period, the best part has been the community we have formed together.  We've not just become art partners to share our creative passions, explorations and frustrations -- we've become fast friends.  Some of us haven't met in person, but we've discovered that that little fact hardly matters.  We KNOW each other, and we are well and truly bonded by this experience.

We've just concluded the five 12x20 inch challenge set.  As always, Brenda has done an amazing job of putting the images together on our website, and you can see them all together here.
After four years of working with a 12x12 inch square, I think we all enjoyed -- and were challenged by -- a different format.  Our color themed challenge set will be traveling for exhibits in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the US in 2013.  (You can see the schedule here.)

But that brings us to now, and the question we keep getting:

What next? 

Well, we're working on that.  We have decided a few things.  We do not want to do periodic challenges the way we have been.  We want to work in a larger size.  Some of us may not continue, needing to turn their creative energies to a different direction.  But many of us are dedicated to doing SOMETHING together. We just haven't yet nailed down the specifics.

So while Twelve by Twelve as you've seen us may be changing, rest assured that we don't plan on  disbanding or disappearing totally.  We're evolving.

Watch this space.  We will keep you posted.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Series by Nikki

The Twelve by Twelve website has been updated* and now includes images of all of the works in our 2012 Series including the latest Sweet Challenge. The Artist Gallery pages have been updated too.  It's fun to see the art quilts of each Twelve all lined up together.

Here is an overview of Nikki's 2012 series: 
Nikki 2012 Series
Nikki has been busier than ever this festive season and has Stocking Stuffer Art, Treasure Tea Boxes, Mixed Media Art Quilt Kits and other goodies for sale.  Check out Nikki's Etsy Shop.

* Please e-mail Brenda  if you spot any glitches or broken links on the website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sweet Mosaic

I'm working on updating the website with the latest challenge works. In the meantime, here's the Sweet mosaic:


Wagashi are Japanese sweets and I just love them. They are sweet, of course, and so beautiful. If you've never seen any, you have to do an image search in google, and you will see how pretty they are, almost too pretty to eat!
Actually "wa" means "Japanese-style" and "kashi" means "confectionery". Together they become "wagashi".
One of the big challenges in learning Japanese is to master the writing system. I now know my hiragana and katakana pretty well. But of course I am only starting to study kanji.
Anyway, for this quilt, I decided to print some fabric with the word wagashi written in hiragana:
I tried lots of things, made many test prints, and finally settled on using only the hiragana わ (wa). By the way, "wa" means "Japanese-style", but it also means "peace" and "harmony".

The flavours and shapes of wagashi are often inspired by seasons and flowers. This is why I added this sakura on my quilt.
Merci to my sweet Twelve fellows for this fun series of 20x12 quilts!

Sugar Pie

As usual, inspiration lead me a circuitous route to this quilt. For the longest time my plan was to make a fairly literal interpretation of the theme, maybe even something pictorial. Then a week or so ago, as I struggled to find any germ of an idea that would lead me to The Quilt, I had an interesting (probably only to me!!)epiphany about how I design. Often I'm asked to explain how my inspiration evolves and I struggle to put it in words. It always starts with colour and a mood. I feel a certain way, a certain visual atmosphere starts to form. The epiphany part is that this creates a kind of design board/mood board in my head. It has snippets of lines, shapes, but mostly waves and sparkles of colour, and they all merge and float and blend into a feeling. So then I collect together fabrics that match that feeling and think about how I want them to interact. The type of interaction (is it fluid, sharp, linear, etc) informs that technique that will be needed to join them together. The whole design is never made before I start. I just choose a beginning and go for it. The process is then an organic one; things just happen and every decision is made as the need arises. Another epiphany - that's why I have so many failures and why I should probably work in series! Often a mis-step along that way will create another problem that needs correction which causes another problem, etc, etc. (I know lots of you relate to THIS!)It's a haphazard way to work that, for me, results in many more bad quilts than good ones. I usually know immediately if it's been a success or failure. One of the more difficult lessons for some artists/artisans to learn is to cull their own work; to weed out the rubbish and get rid of it. When we began this Twelve by Twelve adventure, I made a commitment to myself that I would try new things, that I would be accepting of whatever I produced and not beat myself up about stuff that sucked. There would be no culling because, for me, this was a learning, fun project. I never imagined a book! or even exhibitions! And now my good quilts and my terrible quilts share a stage with each other and with the magnificent work of my colleagues. Looking over my quilts from the three series, I would still happily burn quite a number of them. But there are also a few that I am quite proud of and they would not have happened had the bad ones not been there to learn from.
This one? This one I love! This is my Sugar Pie. The mood board for this one was sugared almonds, fondant, gelato, Marie Antoinette, frothy, lacy, twinkly. The first background that I planned was very small rectangles, stacked sort of like Chinese Coins. It wasn't gelling in my head and I realise now that that's because it would have been far to staccato. Then I took this photo of some english paper pieced hexagons that I'm making and a friend commented on how much he liked the edges (surround yourselves with artists, people!).
Now I had a background that worked - very narrow strips of highly patterned fabrics. I actually didn't know that it was a background until I had sewn it and it needed something on it! It needed frothy, blendy flowers that melted into it and emerged from it.
And now, after making 7235687265 colonial knots, I have run out of time. It still needs more embroidery and more sequins and some beads. They will have to wait until next year now. It is the sister of my first quilt for this series,Jubilee. And I think they may have more sisters waiting to be born.

One Lump or Two

I haven't always been a coffee drinker, but within the last several years I have become one. I don't, however, take mine black. I like it loaded, so to speak....sweetener and half-n-half for me, please.

I have tried many different types of sweeteners in my coffee, the current one being agave nectar. I admit, though, that good old-fashioned sugar is by far my favorite sweetener in coffee.

My quilt is almost entirely hand stitched.  The only machine stitching is the black outlining around some of the elements.

The background of the quilt is made up mainly of neutral fabric scraps. I've recently been adding lots of hand stitching to a few small works and I'm finding the process very satisfying. Plus it gives me something to do when my husband is watching something on TV that doesn't really intrigue me.

The green leaves near the top left represent sugar cane foliage.


There were so many SWEET possibilities!  For a while I tried to stay away from the obvious candy connections, and I spent some time working on a design based on (sweet) memories of my daughter's childhood that was going to involve using pieces of silk from the Chinese dresses she's worn over the years... but when she discovered my plan she forbade me and insisted that she wanted those dresses kept intact!  

I started thinking about my associations with Christmas sweets in particular, which led me to think about these pretty candies which always seemed special to me.

I think of them as "Millefiori Candy" and I found this image by searching that phrase.  But I didn't find many photos and if there are other names for these, I'd love to know them.  I haven't seen or hasd them in years.  Are they just at Christmas-time?  These colors seem springy, actually.  I don't even know.  At any rate, with all those happy colors, how could I resist?  And of course, I knew my background had to be pink. 

So I had a lot of fun doing little abstract millefiori disks.  They're fused and then sewn down.

And yes, I'm aware that the colors and style of this are so sweet that it almost makes my teeth hurt looking at it.  But that's just extra sweetness, I figure.

There are no deep messages here, no serious reflection on what a gift the last 5 years of sharing art with the 12x12 members and readers has been to me.  I will save that for another time.  This is just a sweet celebration of simple happiness.

Thanks, Terri, for a "sweet" theme!

All That Jazz

When Terri announced the sweet theme, I was not very excited until I looked up the definition and found:

pleasing to the ear; making a delicate, pleasant, or agreeable soundmusical. 

 I had a secret hope that she would choose music, continuing in our M theme names. So, in a way, she did.

I went for a jazz interpretation. I wanted to continue the use of batiks and found every thing I needed in my stash, although I had several different trumpets before I settled on this one. It was a bit awkward fitting the instrumentas into the size parameters. Adding the musical notes was so much fun.

I found a hand-dyed quilting thread that was the perfect colorway for this, and I did simple straight quilting lines on the diagonal.

It is simple and sweet and fun to make. Here is a detail.

Knowing this might be our last challenge, I wanted to make something that represented my thoughts on this wonderful group.  When Terri came up with Sweet, I had to think for a long time how to work that out.  Joann came to the rescue when she mentioned referring to something she likes as "sweet", which is what my kids say too.
I like the symbolism of this piece.  I started with a large painted circle, which I made on three separate pieces of fabric, then pieced them together.  I added the hand stitched circle so it's hard to see the paint underneath.  After that the piece came together really quickly. The yellow strip on the right side was added after I finished and bound the piece and discovered it was 11 x 20.  I tried out the greys, and a dark red, but yellow seemed to work best.  Actually, not cutting it off in the first place would have worked best.
We are twelve women who have been able to join together to create a wonderful group experience yet maintain our individuality.  My art has improved considerably since joining this group. I've pushed myself way outside my original box and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Sweet Memories

For this final Twelve by Twelve quilt I wanted to play homage to the last 5 years and 336 quilts.  "Sweet" was the perfect opportunity to reference the dark brown quilted, painted fabric of Chocolate and the lollipops from my Lollipop Forest quilt.  12 Lollipops are for the "12" theme (and of course the 12 of us) and the colors are from each of the colorplay palettes.  Laying out the quilt, I was a bit worried about how the colors would play together. Now that I'm finished, the quilt is growing on me.   It may not be my favorite artistically, but it warms my heart to think of everything this quilt represents.  This certainly is a bittersweet challenge!

Sugar Maple

After dancing around various "sweet" inspirations, I finally settled on maple syrup. I am intrigued by various bottle shapes and have made a few collage-style art quilts with a bottle as a central shape. Since maple syrup comes in a very recognizable "jug" bottle, I thought it would be fun to start there.

I added a painted silhouette of a sugar maple tree and various fabrics... rust dyed, hand-dyed, commercial and heavy decorator fabric, even some organza.

I love those tiny blue stitches. They are tedious to stitch and only visible upon close viewing... but I still love them.

I wanted an interesting motif to stitch in the upper part of the quilt. After some research, I found a chemical structure for the leaf of the sugar maple. Aha! I simplified it a bit and removed the notations about the elements.

My ubiquitous arch and a bit of fabric printed with leaves. (Originally, that fabric were table napkins that I made years ago for Thanksgiving dinner. I never really liked them as napkins, so they are in my stash for just this occasion.)

This quilt may not scream "sweet" upon first glance, but that is one of the things I have always loved about our 12x12 project. There was never any rule or strict expectation that any of our quilts would be "obvious." In fact, "obvious" is sometimes far too easy and doesn't encourage growth. This project has generated so much growth for me personally, professionally and artistically. It has been the very sweetest of experiences!

Süß (Suess)

Sketchbooks and process

As I started this particular challenge, “Bittersweet” came to mind. As usual, I went to my working sketchbook and wrote down things that came to mind when I thought of sweet or bittersweet. This time I also went to one of my heftier sketchbooks and drew/painted studies of bittersweet, since I have been working more and more with drawing and painting as much as possible in order to expand my artistic range. I drew two varieties of the plant, and painted abstractions such as the triangles in the page above, and a stylized berry pattern on another page which also included a drawing of a pile of dark chocolate. I like the concept, and there are some interesting elements going on. But I was quite sure I don’t want to be so literal as to recreate my sketchbook drawing in fabric. Somewhere along the way, keeping up with the doings of our teenage German exchange student, something caught my eye. She had posted a cute picture of herself and her sister on Facebook. A friend responded with “sweet,” but in German, which is “suess.” He used the extended German alphabet, which contracts the double esses to an eszet (ß), which looks to Americans to be a funny B, and changes the ue to a u with an umlaut (ü) — which looked to me like a cute little happy face in the middle of the word! Süß! How sweet is that?! 

You never know where inspiration will come from. 

I tried various typefaces on my computer and printed out a template when I was happy with the results. For some reason, I felt like I needed to use a reverse fused applique instead of placing the elements on top of each other where I could see them, so in the end, my ü is not exactly centered. But, I like that I was able to play with words and typography and still incorporate the color scheme and triangle motif of my original sketches.