Friday, May 23, 2008

Leafing Out

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to squeak into the completely sold out class taught by Gabrielle Swain at EBHQ. It was all about design the first day, using leaf shapes in particular. My printer wasn't behaving so I couldn't print out any fave photos of leaves, and since we are having an infestation in this county (Light Brown Apple Moth), I didn't think I should import any contraband leaves across several counties up to Berkeley/Albany! Luckily there were some inspiring shapes mere steps out the door of the classroom.

I had my camera so I snapped a few shots of these on-their-last-legs calla leaves. They really remind me of elephant's ears. I used the large leaf shown here in the first picture.
And I used the folded leaf below the one I'm holding. We worked for a long time sketching the leaves, enlarging, repeating, turning, twisting, layering. Making sure there aren't any stems leading the eye off the quilt. My design changed a few times, but I ended up with two of the large leaves in two different sizes, really large and pretty small. as well as one of the folded leaf shape in a medium size. I really got into this design exercise and it was fun to see how everyone else in the class tackled the challenge. Some people took trips to the copy center to enlarge sketches up to and including on enormous blue-print sized paper! And some were much more free-wheeling with the leaf shapes, going for more abstracted, stepped-back designs.
Gabrielle is a great teacher, she was really organized, confident, clear and giving. A great combination for an art/quilt teacher. I'm glad I finally got to meet her in person (instead of our Creative Spark class phonecalls) and learn from her in situ.

We were using hand-dyes (or batiks) for our leaves, and a geometric as a background. How do you like my background fabric? Pretty wild huh? I originally bought it to use as a binding fabric, thought the color stripe blocks would look cool on the bias. A very small amount of background will be showing on this quilt, so I thought I might as well have something really punchy and contrasty with the intense colors of the leaves. I found that I had brought a really strange selection of my hand-dyes, a lot of which were completely unusable for this quilt. (Of course!).
But with a lot of help from Gabrielle and friend Jaye I dug through and tried a lot of options.
And came up with this final combination of colors.

The smaller bits of fabric will be the main veining on the leaf.

The second day of the class was on the following Monday. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the two hour drive up there due to my boys' school having a "late start" day (which we hadn't put on the calendar, oops!). So I didn't get to take the how-to hand-reverse-applique' part of the class. :( Sigh.

Now I have to decide whether to make this quilt in the manner I normally would (raw-edge applique' or maybe with some fusible) or try to do something out of my comfort zone involving hand-stitching (usually makes me run screaming quite honestly). I'm not good at it, because I don't do it very often. It is hard to make yourself do something you suck at, isn't it? But after getting to fondle and pet Gabrielle's gorgeous quiltworks in person, I think it might just be worth it to try the harder, more painful (for me) method.

Stay tuned on that one...


gabrielle said...

Thanks Julie for the commentary on the class. It was such a delight to finally meet you. Sorry you couldn't make it on Monday but I know you have enough talent in your little finger to accomplish anything you want.

Laume said...

I really love the constrast of the blue on the warm colors.