In this blog, I'll talk about the process that I go through in designing a new Fiber Art Card. The photo to the right is Mr. Fox in a Wool Coat. Foxes are a favorite subject at Pine Tree Studio because I love to spy them running around the forest outside my window. And, it's getting close to winter, so why not give Mr. Fox a coat with the wonderful felted wool cloth and vintage buttons that I have in the studio?
So, first there is an idea, then comes the sketching. It usually takes a few tries to get the ideas from my head, through the pencil and onto paper. When translating an idea or a drawing into fiber art, the drawing has to be refined to be simple enough to cut into fabric shapes that can then be appliquéd, but also the drawing must fit to the size (4.25x6.25 inches to fit neatly onto a 5x7 inch blank card) and still pack a punch.
Here are my sketches from the first to the refined sketch that becomes my pattern.
Once I've settled on a sketch, I separate the major elements into pattern pieces. The pattern pieces get traced onto a light fusible interfacing (my favorite is HeatnBond Lite) and fused to either cotton or wool, then cut to shape.
Background fabrics must be auditioned and then fused to Pellon 71F interfacing which gives a sturdy surface for the embellishing stitches to come. First, the bottom layers of pattern pieces are satin stitched using free-motion embroidery with a clear lucite Darning Presser Foot. When all the pieces are attached to the background, a final wide zig-zag satin stitch is done around the border using the Walking Presser Foot.
After the sketch and the pattern pieces are cut and stitched, the final embellishment is done with hand embroidery of the face and tail and attachment of the vintage buttons. All that needs to happen now is to attach the piece to a card blank. I hope you enjoyed seeing how an idea turns into a new work.
When people ask me how to do free-motion quilting or free-motion embroidery, my first response is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! When you start, this is new brain-hand-eye coordination, and like any skill, you will improve the more you practice.
I do a lot of satin stitching with the sewing machine to appliqué my fabric shapes to both Fiber Art Cards and Potholder/Mini-Quilts. I love the graphic quality of the satin stitch using colorful threads to outline my drawings in fabric.
So here's an overview with some very short video clips showing how to move around curves and turn corners while free-motion embroidering.
After the videos, there are some photos showing how the sewing machine settings need to be changed to do free-motion embroidery. Enjoy!
Sometimes, I just use the basic zig-zag stitch to outline the border of my work with the feed dogs engaged and a Walking Presser Foot - in this way the machine creates even, stitches and advances the fabric evenly through (pictured).
Free-motion Embroidery also can be done with a basic home sewing machine using the zig-zag function. What makes this "free-motion" is that the feed dogs are dropped, so that I am controlling where the fabric is moved instead of the machine. For this, I need to change the presser foot to a clear lucite darning foot and get ready to put my hands firmly on the fabric to move it around. Pictured is fabric fused to a stabilizer base, which I recommend so that the stitches lay flat and do not distort the fabric. Learn more in this blog post.
I am demonstrating free-motion machine embroidery on a Bernina home sewing machine. In this clip I am working around a circular shape with a wide zig-zag creating a solid "Satin Stitch" which outlines the shape and completes the appliqué. Notice that my hands are on the work providing stability - somewhat in the shape of an embroidery hoop. The feed dogs are dropped and a clear lucite darning foot is attached encircling the needle.
Notice in this video clip that I am keeping up a medium-high speed on the machine. This is essential, because if free-motion embroidery is done at a slow speed, you may pull the fabric and force the needle to bend and hit the metal base plate (beware of broken needles!). When first trying free-motion embroidery, it may feel reckless to hit the gas pedal and go at break-neck speed, but it's necessary! Keep your needle in "needle-down" position, so that when you pause to take a breath, you can resume and not break the beautiful straight line of the satin stitching.
When your son asks if you would create a piece of artwork to hang on the wall of his first apartment....you say "Yes!"
When Josh was home for the holidays, he picked out colors from my hand-dyed cotton stash. That pile of fabric sat on my shelf for quite a few months....and then summer rolled around and his 23rd birthday, so I knew I needed to get started.
The process I use for piecing, is to cut uneven strips of fabric from each of the colors and begin by randomly piecing pairs of strips together. Small piecings start to go up on the design wall and then the editing begins. Standing back across the room to get perspective and then adding and subtracting colors brings the quilt top together. Then the top is sandwiched with 100% cotton batting and a backing.
Deciding on a free-motion quilting pattern for each quilt takes a lot of staring at the pieced top and intuiting a flow and pattern. Josh lived in a dorm for four years as an undergrad and now having his first studio apartment in grad school and moving to Chicago are huge transitions. My inspiration for the quilting were thoughts of "fertile soil," "growth" and "rivers of thought."
This quilt is bold because the colors Josh choose are complementary - but he is bold and I think it fits him very well!
Winter is a time of play for me as a fiber artist. The holiday markets and family festivities are over, and there are months of time that lay open to my imagination and new endeavors.
My Schacht tapestry loom (made right here in Boulder, CO) serves to capture the color, texture and design that emerge from my collection of wool, cotton, & silk yarns. To begin, I pull from my collection of fibers, the colors and textures that fit with my vision or mood. It is usually the materials that are speaking to me, often beginning with one fiber and then gathering more that fit with that first intriguing yarn. In the bowl pictured to the right, the variegated yarn with its neutral base and flecks of blues and greens, made me yearn for spring especially as a winter storm warning approached outdoors. Textural contrasts are really important to me, so I grabbed the blue super bulky wool for the bottom fringe (tapestry weaving happens from the bottom up!) and then added more texture with the rya loops woven with wools of different weights. I love that I don't always know what will come next and that each new row of weaving is a new decision. (Some tapestry weavers use a paper cartoon behind the loom to guide the design, but I prefer a free-form, intuitive approach.) Seeing the color and feeling unfold is the most exciting part of weaving for me.
I began years ago quilting traditional patterns and then my own free-form contemporary designs. Along the way, I've been felting, crocheting, dyeing, and a bit of weaving . But, what pulls all of these techniques together is the way that the gorgeous organic materials of cotton and wool, inspire new creations. The materials and techniques are just mediums for the hands to build with, to create. Fiber is a truly endless source of joy and inspiration.
"One World, One Chance" was created for the Handweavers Guild of Boulder 2018 juried show themed "Reflections on Climate Change." This art quilt is created from 100% cotton fabrics that have been pieced to create a 48" round quilt of the earth, with the North and South American continents suggested in outline. The free-motion quilting is in the form of words that span from carbon-emitting fuels (e.g. coal, fossil fuel, oil) on the dark side of the earth to clean energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, electric) on the light side.
The world's response to climate change hinges on moving to clean energy. There is hope: although this is not something we can tackle as individuals, nations can invest in research, development and implementation of clean energy infrastructure. Yet, even as we move towards clean energy, we all, as individuals, must reckon with our daily dependence on carbon-emitting fuels that degrade our atmosphere, our environment, our world.
Amy Mundinger won the Handweavers Guild of Boulder Juror's Award and the Citizen's Climate Lobby Prize for "One World, One Chance" in November 2018.
Detail from "One World, One Chance"
Detail from "One World, One Chance"
Showcase Evening at the Handweavers Guild of Boulder Annual Show & Sale, November 2018. Pictured left to right: Elfriede Gamow, PhD, Showcase Juror, Kris King, Citizens Climate Lobby and HGB member, and Amy Mundinger.
Have you been watching Masterpiece Theater's production of "Victoria"? It's a fascinating look into the unique royal partnership of the newly formed House of Windsor that saw the industrialization of Great Britain. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert cared very much about art, music, culture and history. The V&A Museum houses vast (and I mean huge) collections of arts and crafts from the far reaches of the world, so that the museumgoer can see the development of an art from its inception thousands of years ago, to modern production.
On my visit to London in November 2017, by far my favorite floors of the V&A were Ceramics and Glass (separate floors!). Look closely at the first photo of the blue pottery above. You will see in the background, glass display cases absolutely packed full of ceramics. The shear number of pieces on display in the V&A nearly knocked me flat. It's color, texture, form and design overload! On top of this overwhelming display is the historical documentation of the development of mineral glazes and techniques from around the world from BCE to the present. I could have spent my entire week in London visiting the V&A everyday, and never seen enough, nor gotten bored. The inspiration of the color alone was amazing.
Other highlights of the V&A were the textiles, my favorite of any design museum: the CHAIR room, wrought iron grill work display, teapots scattered everywhere in the museum,and that the cafe served coffee, cake and cans of GIN & TONIC! You have got to love the Brits!
I close with a peek from a 6th floor window of the V&A Museum. Looking through the original casement window, you can see the Natural History Museum of London next door and the winter skate below in its courtyard. It seems a timeless view, transporting.
Queen Victoria opened the museum in 1857 and late night hours (made possible by new "gas lighting") were introduced so that the working class could visit. The focus of the first museum director was on art education and the 4.5 million objects spanning 5,000 years of history demonstrate the art and science of the hand and machine production of everyday items (of course, the museum does show the most exquisite of these items!)
For me, visiting museums can be sensory overload but I invite that! More importantly, it serves to fill the soul. I continue to remember rooms and displays from the V&A and draw from these memories in my work.
The V&A Museum is open daily (except Christmas) and like most museums in London, admission is free.
Photos by Amy Mundinger, 2017
In the summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to film two video demonstrations at the studio of Quilters Newsletter magazine in Golden, Colorado! Together with Associate Editor & Host Mary Kate Karr-Petras, I discussed and demonstrated my techniques for upcycling 100% wool sweaters into wool felt that I then use for appliqué. You can read more about my work and inspiration here. Sadly, Quilters Newsletter magazine is no longer, but my video is available FREE FOR YOU TO WATCH on Youtube or for purchase/streaming from The Quilting Company, which still publishes Quilting Arts, Quiltmaker, McCalls and Fons & Porter magazines.
I've always had a passion for photography, but sometimes I forget to practice! According to my Instagram account, I've been adding pictures for 36 weeks…that's over half a year! I love snapping pictures on my iPhone- it's so easy to take digital pictures and when I look around at the place where I live, I'm seeing new things all the time. Colors, the sky, an interesting piece of architecture, incredible natural beauty. These moments captured in photos feed my soul, and get me fired up to do art. It's just a matter of seeing the extraordinary in the place where you live. What feeds your soul? (Click on photos below to enlarge and link here to go to my instagram page - you don't need an account to view it)
What's a jealous quilter to do when her brother in Boise brings home a camper (once it's fixed up, it will be amazing!)? Make some out of fabric, of course. My brother lives next to a park in Boise and around the time he brought this camper home, a group of en plein air painters descended on the park for a day's work and about four of them chose to paint the camper! Well, my version is painting with fabric! So, check it out in the on-line store, two colorways of campers for two new Fiber Art Card designs - adorned with vintage buttons!
Ahhh, summer! Two new fiber art card designs that capture the fun of being in the sun….check them out in the on-line store.
Handcrafted felt, made in Pine Tree Studio, wound and sewn together into gorgeous roses that never fade….just added to the online store.
WOOL!!!!! I've been making my own felted wool from thrift store sweaters (read more here) and combining the wool appliqué pieces with hand-dyed quilted cotton backgrounds, as well as vintage wool fabric pieced backgrounds. Embellishments are added in pearl cotton threads and voila! charming foxes are leaping all over my little wall art pieces. It's been a deluge of rain in Boulder this Spring, but feeling like summer is just around the corner.
These felt roses, made from felted upcycled 100% wool sweaters, are destined to adorn the fabulous felted knit hats that Daniela Knapp makes. Daniela and I met through the Handweavers Guild of Boulder and have worked together at the Annual Sale. Daniela is an incredible and expert knitter and one of her specialities is felted hats in all colors. These roses are going into Daniela's hands today, so likely you will see hats & pins together at the HGB sale in late October/early November. Or maybe you already have one of Daniela's hats? I do!
Spring and Winter go back and forth here in the Rocky Mountains, so felted wool is still a favorite material for me to work with! These brooch/pins are so fun to make, I just can't stop. Embroidering with perle cotton brings the thick felt to life with color and a slight sheen. Check back for more new creations coming out of the studio this Spring!
It starts with a 100% sweater either found at a thrift store or in someone's closet....and it ends as an original embroidered felty fox! The discarded 100% wool knit sweater is washed for 2+ hours on the hottest cycle in the washing machine until the knit is no longer visible, because the fibers have so shrunken and intermeshed, that I've produced FELT. Then, the former sweater can be cut with scissors into shapes and appliqued, embellished and created into unique works of art. Wool is a great fiber to play with on a snowy cold day like today....going to make another cup of coffee and bring these felty guys to life.
New today in the On-line store are blank Fiber Art Cards just perfect to send a friend to stay "thinking of you" or just "stay warm!" It's a bright cold Winter's day in Colorado and I can't think of anything nicer than a hot cuppa tea and a note from a friend. (Okay, maybe that and watching Masterpiece Mystery! too.)
Today I'm designing a new fiber art card - a black speckled Thuringian rooster to complement the white hen from 2013. I'm playing with the free-motion quilted thread details on the body and tail, as well as the colors of thread and border. He's a handsome fellow!
July 20 - August 28, 2013, the City of Boulder is hosting a show at the Boulder Public Library. Artists who have created work on location or inspired by Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, will be hung in the Canyon Gallery for you to explore. The show is entitled "Art Inspired by the Land" and you can view my 52x52" art quilt, "Before Boulder." When my son, Joshua, was in the third grade, I chaperoned a field trip to South Boulder open space. There, the students and parents alike learned that the trees that we see today in Boulder were planted by settlers and are mostly non-native. What did grace the prairie rolling up to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, were three types of tall grasses. Thus, my art quilt reflects the distinctive "Flatirons" that lie before us spatially in Boulder and the tall grasses that grew chronologically before us. I've wanted to create a quilt of the Flatirons since I moved to Boulder in 2001, and this Ranger talk provided the added inspiration.