Practical Thread Magic

When I come to teach to a group, there's always a frantic rush of questions and concerns. I don't play with the same toys other quilters do. Though I talk about that at length in class, I thought it would be helpful to have that information available in a blog. So here we're going to discuss the nuts and bolts of the kind of thread work I love and teach. We'll discuss products, choices, threads, fabrics, tools, stabilizers and all the things that make my work work for me, and will help your work work for you.

If you have an upcoming class with me, you should know I bring almost all of the things I use for your needs. If you want to try something you've got, absolutely bring it. But if you're having trouble finding it, please don't stress. I'll have it there for you.

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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Would You Like To Have A Class With Ellen?

Ellen would be delighted to have a class with you or your group! You can check out her classes at She also offers independent studio time in her studio in Indiana. Talk to Ellen about classes at 219-921-0885, or contact her scheduler Melida at 405-735-3703 .to set a date
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Designing Ways: East Meets West

It's almost impossible to talk about our art without talking about the art that comes before us. Before we talk about design, it's worth saying that there are many different design aesthetics. It's not that a design is good or bad necessarily. It's designed to be part of the statement. The notions that fuel our art choices are a statement loud and clear past subject matter and past our technical handling of fabric and thread. 

As quilters, a lot of us have backed into art by accident. We started with squares and one day found ourselves with an odd quilt that somehow was an art quilt. Maybe it had too much orange in it or you found yourself like me, embroidering frogs and bugs into the borders.There's a tender soft spot in most quilter's artistic persona. The part that said that you should have gone to art school or studied water color. So our first designs spring out of a personal view. Later, as we become more facile, we realize that the choices in design are a huge statement all their own.

My first artistic love was the impressionists. I grew up near Chicago, and there was a pilgrimage every year to the Art Institute. I strolled through the halls looking for paintings like old friends. Since they were my first real introduction to art, they felt bland to me. Safe. Something soft and soothing out of my childhood.You know it's become mainstream when you see it on a birthday cake. This astonishing cake is by Megpi, a pastry chef in Silver Lake. California. You can see her work if you follow the link to Flickr. 

impressionist cake by megpi
impressionist cake, a photo by megpi on Flickr 
Since you can buy Van Gogh's work on umbrellas and coffee cups, it's easy to miss the point that he was a raving revolutionary in his time. His work nauseated the current critics, got him hospitalized, was refused for all the important salon shows, and the subject of ridicule in the press. Time and familiarity have made him a lionized artist, but that was not who he was when he began.

I was immediately in love when I discovered Japanese prints. It was a while before I realized why. The Impressionists took much of their new artistic vision from the prints out of Japan. The first prints that came out of Japan hugely influenced them as beginning artists.

In contrast, this is a painting  called Nocturne from around 1825 by Turner. Turner would have represented the design aesthetics from the early 19th century, that Van Gogh and the other impressionists and Post Expressionists blew out of the water.

Early 19th Century Western art was about permanence. It honored stability. It was a world of people in their proper places, forever and ever. It used Greek and Roman scenes  and portraits of nobility as an way of saying we had an eternal understanding of a world that stayed the same.

Japanese art was about the moment. It moved. It created a path for the eye to follow. It went off the page. The impressionists saw it, fell in love with the concept and incorporated it into the designing of their art. And changed us all.

The decisions behind design are the most telling. Without a word they say so much about what we create, what we find important, and what we value. The way we structure our art is at least half the story we tell.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Designing Ways: An Exploration of Design in Fiber Art

Just recently I've been looking at the Spoonflower website. At Spoonflower you can design your own fabric. 

That sounded simple. You add cool elements from your quilts on a neat background. How hard can it be? How cool can it get?

Well I don't think it get's cooler, but it's not as easy as it looks. I'm not ready for prime time yet but it's reminded me how important design is, and how it changes when we have different things we want out of our designs. So I'm going to take some time to explore design myself and to talk about that in some  posts.

So often when we create we get all caught up in what we're creating. A flower, a frog, a bug, a picture. But design is the hidden framework under all of that. There are different aesthetics to design, different theories, different approaches. So when we talk about good design, we need to ask the question, "For what purpose."Designs that repeat are a whole different set of considerations from designs that don't have to. I'd like to look at design over a series of posts, from the point of view of pathway, rhythm, framing, and  balance. Next time, East Meets West.


Essential Embroidery Stitches

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