Friday, December 26, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cookie Break!

The Tiffany quilt continues to make progress.  Back spasms over the weekend slowed me down a bit but they're gone and  I'm looking forward to going back to my usual routine of getting up at 5 am to stitch.  Measured the remaining pieces today and have about 150' of black lines to go.  Of course the tape get's stitched along both edges, so that translates into 300' of thread.  I'm so eager to see it all finally pieced together!

Of course, when I'm not stitching, I'm busy doing the usual holiday activities, like making cookies with my son and his friends...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tiffany Quilt Update

Tree layout for the top-most section

Well, I took most of the weekend off due to a mild case of the flu, and we've pushed the due date for this piece back a bit, but it's still moving right along.  I believe I woefully underestimated how long stitching all the little black lines down would take.  I'm using bias tape - 96 feet of it so far, and I don't think I'm half-way done yet.  I've bought out the supply at the local Joann's twice and will have to go back for more!  Here are a few more recent pics...

when I get tired of one section,
I switch to another area
it's amazing how much difference the black bias tape makes!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tiffany Quilt in progress

The bottom 1/3 of the quilt is coming together well.  I've assembled it like a puzzle - tracing and cutting each piece and then figuring out where it goes.  You can see how I laid the pattern down on top to make sure everything lined up.  There were a few sections I'd missed, so I had to go back and trace more of the pattern to get the final leaves.

the lines on the jack-in-the-pulpit are hand drawn
trillium and orchids, before the iris are added to the background

took a while to get these placed just right

My best work time is from 5 - 7 am every morning, when only the cat is awake for company.  She tries to help as much as possible.

All the pieces are fused in place, and I'm ready to baste and quilt it.  Right now it looks busy, but after the black leading lines are added on top it should look more like stained glass, and the black will visually separate the pieces.  I can't wait to count how many individual pieces there are! 

iris, orchids, trillium, trout lily, poppies, jack-in-the-pulpit, clover, and assorted wild-flowers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tiffany Window Project

So, my latest big news is that I'm working on a big piece!  This will be a 4' x 6.5' Tiffany window style quilt for Village Church in Cummington.  The goal is to post regular updates as I go along, but it's been under way for a few weeks now, so it's time to get the blog caught up!  Here's the original sketch.  In the final piece, the mountains will be altered to reflect the local hills, and there will be a slightly different assortment of wildflowers.  The quilt will hang inside the painted arch at the front of the sanctuary.  See below. 

The Messiah Sing at Village Church

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gallery Reception Thursday, October 2

If you missed the opening reception for my current show at the Amherst Town Hall, I will be hosting a second reception next Thursday, October 2, from 5:30 pm - 8 pm in conjunction with the First Thursday Art Walk.  Stop by to say hello, check out some of my latest work, and peek into some of the other local galleries while you're in town!

I'll be hanging a few new pieces for the duration of my show, which ends October 30. 

Can't make the reception?  The Town Hall is open 8 - 4:30 daily.  Be sure to catch the pieces hanging in the stairwell on  the 2nd and 3rd floors too!  Access is immediately to your left as you enter the building.

Starry Night Over the Pioneer Valley

Storm Horse

Gentle dawns and sultry sunlit afternoons catch viewers unawares, drawing them into the present moment and providing respite from our busy minds. Reflecting different moods and times of day, my landscapes and flowers range from the pale stillness of early morning to the passionate rich blues of evening.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Exhibit - September & October

Time of Day:  Art Quilts by Elizabeth Sylvan

September 2 – October 30
8 am – 4:30 pm
Amherst Town Hall
4 Boltwood Avenue
Artist's Reception:  Thursday, September 4, 5-8 pm

Gentle dawns and sultry sunlit afternoons catch viewers unawares, drawing them into the present moment and providing respite from busy minds.  Reflecting different moods and times of day, these landscapes and flowers range from the pale stillness of early morning to the passionate rich blues of evening. 

My one-of-a-kind art quilts are intended to delight the eye and quiet the mind while exploring value, color, and natural themes.  An art quilter for 17 years, I use fiber to capture that moment of solitude when the observer feels connected to the world.  My small wall-hangings recall universal images and symbols:  the sun, moon, mountains, birds, trees, seasons and water, mixed with a touch of the whimsical.  I use raw edge applique, and have also been known to use found and recycled items such as driftwood, dryer sheets, and the foil wrappers from gold chocolate coins!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Autumn Sunrise With Birds is done!

So, the autumn sunrise with birds quilt is finally done.  This has definitely been one of those projects that runs away with you.  Once the quilt develops a mind of its own, there’s not much to do but follow its lead.  With this one, the stitching just seemed to go on forever.  On top of that, I always spend too much energy worrying about whether a commission will meet the expectations of the client.  That makes it harder to work on it as it gets closer to being finished.  But, tackling one small section at a time seems to have finally done the trick, and I’m happy with the results!  I’m especially fond of the juncos and the foreground – time to go shopping and replenish my supply of leafy browns and greens! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Iris Summer

So, since I'm having a busy month anyway, I thought I'd finish this one this morning.  One of the pieces in my exhibit at the library sold and I need to ship it tomorrow, and of course I wouldn't want to leave a blank space on the wall.  The largest flower features hand-coloring with Inktense colored pencils.  Gotta love purple!

This one's available on my etsy site here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Phoenix Quilt Layout

Moving right along, here's the phoenix quilt layout.   Still need to cut out the last two birds, but I'm getting a bruise and callous on my thumb, 'cause I use right-handed scissors in my left hand. 
Everything is fused in place, and I'll be stitching down all the raw edges and adding a small border.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Phoenix Quilt

This is my other current project - a quilt inspired by a favorite Quilter's Newsletter Magazine cover from back in 2006.  I'm designing my own blocks, with a similar layout but featuring birds instead of fans and scrolls.  Here's my basic block design, and the cover of the original magazine. 
some birds will be red, some gold, some pink, some orange, the background blocks will be blues and purples

I've got a ways to go, but I'm having lots of fun!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Artist in Residence at the Jones Library

For the month of June, I'm the artist in residence at the Jones Library in Amherst.  Samples of my work are on display in the atrium, and I'll be there in person on select days, working on some of my current projects.  Stop by and take a look!  The glass ceiling is gorgeous. The room was a tad bit warm when I hung my quilts today, but the staff were fantastic!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Autumn landscape continued...

Here is the landscape, with the tree and foliage in progress...we're moving right along!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Autumn Sunrise update...

Now we have distant mountains, a lake, and the beginning of some warm fall meadows.  Much of the lake and meadows are hand dyed - I spent the last snowy weeks of winter experimenting with ice dying when those last piles of snow just wouldn't melt!

Autumn Sunrise with Birds - in progress

Monday, May 5, 2014

Autumn Sunrise with Birds

I’m working on a new commission featuring an autumn landscape with birds.  Here’s the early morning sky, in progress.  Next, we’ll be adding a rising sun, mountains, and a lake, with a tree in the foreground.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My First Quilt: Finding Myself, Finding a Partner

I will always know when I made my first quilt, because it was 1996, the same year I met my husband, Tom.  I was working for a Ben Franklin’s Craft Store, if you remember those!  There might still be one or two around, and this one was in Burlington, VT.  They had a bit of everything, and along with learning to frame pictures and work the customer service desk, I learned to cut fabric.  Watercolor quilts were big then, and being an artist at heart they caught my eye.  Even from the start, my quilt journey was about imagery, color and texture, and I was hooked long before I sewed my first seam.  I bought a book and an assortment of soft pinkish green florals, not knowing exactly what I’d do with them.  Deciding to start small, I made myself a square template out of cardboard and cut out a number of medium sized squares using right-handed scissors in my left hand.  I’ve never been able to break that habit.  Left-handed scissors were so awful when I was a kid that I never used them, although when I do a lot of cutting it still bruises my thumb. 

Tom, who was an artist in his own right, offered input when I asked for it and was quietly supportive while I experimented.  I spent a day arranging the squares on the floor with two cats underfoot, only to finally discover that the arrangement I liked best was one I could have strip pieced if I’d known what strip piecing was.  The sewing was simple and done on an old used teal-colored Singer that exactly matched my mother’s and was probably 20+ years old.  I think I paid $25 for it.  The borders were as simple as possible.  Then I realized that I had no idea how to actually quilt this little lap-sized piece.  Being intimidated by even straight stitching, I finally tied it and stitched only the borders in the ditch to hold it together.  It doesn’t even have a real binding.  Instead I sewed the back on top and turned it right-side out.  Now, eighteen years later, it has held up and still has an occasional place on the couch under a cat. 

My Brown-eyed Susans
My Grandmother's Flowers

Although my grandmother quilted, I never learned anything about it from her ‘cause I’m not a Sunbonnet Sue kind of girl myself and hand applique never grabbed me, although I now know enough to have great respect for it.  So, I taught myself from books, consulting my new artistic "boyfriend" along the way.  As my interest grew, I tried several Quilt in a Day books and made a Trip Around the World bed quilt and several lap and baby quilts for friends and relatives.  They were all still stitched in the ditch.  Some of them were pretty Irish Chains and Attic Windows, but it was soon clear that I wanted to do more artistic things.  After a year, we’d moved from Vermont to Northern California, where there turned out to be the best quilt shop I’ve even encountered right there in town, the Quilted Angel in Petaluma.  Their shelves were eye candy, and wearable art was becoming popular.  I promptly stopped piecing squares and tried my hand at machine applique and vests.  (Rosemary Eichorn exhibited at the local quilt show around that time, so I didn't lack for inspiration.) Then I moved on to wall-hangings art quilts, and landscape collage, which is what I’ve been doing ever since.

As my skills evolved, so did my relationship with Tom.  The quilts became collages based on my love of the wild places that we explored together.  When I discovered that Tom appreciated stillness and connection to wilderness, I knew I had found a lifelong partner.  My goal in quilting became to capture that moment of solitude when the viewer feels connected to the natural world.  A moment I could share with Tom.  My quilts began to mirror both my past and our shared adventures, from trips to Hawaii to starting a family.  

Remembering Hawaii
Contemplation:  My son at age 7

I began to find my voice as a quilter and artist, while in Tom I found a partner who was genuinely interested in quilting as an art form and supported my every step.  If it was meaningful to me, he encouraged me to pursue it, and he only offered critiques when asked.  Since he’s got a good eye, his feedback was always useful. 

After a few years, when we examined how much I was spending on my new hobby, it became clear that it needed to pay for itself.  I joined a fiber arts co-op, married Tom, and never looked back.  Today, we have become a collage of shared experience, supporting each others' creative work and choosing a life together that allows time for art, wilderness, and family.  I find that I have made a commitment not just to our relationship but to myself, to my art quilts and to my own creative spirit.  

Big Trees State Park, Calaveras, CA
I have made 166 quilts to date, but it all started with one. More samples of my work can be seen in my etsy store and on my website