Thursday, November 6, 2014

Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt, A DVD by Sue Reno

I have been an admirer of Sue Reno's work for many, many years--long before we became acquainted via Facebook and our blogs.  I've always loved her botanically based quilts...and the highly evolved design aesthetic she has developed while working with the prints she makes on fabric. 

But I never knew how she did it until now. In her new instructional DVD from Quilting Arts, as Sue says,

I distill my years of experience with four favorite surface design techniques—cyanotype, heliography, collagraphy, and thermofax printing—using clear and concise demonstrations.  There are examples of how I use prints in my work, as well as chapters on the basics of quilt design.  Whether you are new to surface design, or want to add to your existing design toolbox, there’s something here for everyone. 

I am absolutely new to surface design: it has never been remotely part of my repetoire.  I have bought supplies now and again at quilt shows, inspired by the demos and samples in the booths, but rarely used them.
With Sue's encouragement, I pulled some out and put them to work.

Before I show you what I did, I want to say what a pleasure it was to watch someone who has mastered her craft, is so clearly in her element and so obviously enthusiastic about it.  She doesn't waste a word--but gives great detailed advice and logical explanations for everything she does.
As an online teacher myself, I can also tell that the preparation she did for this DVD was extensive, thorough, and meticulously organized.  You will not find a better introduction to printing on fabric with these techniques than this.

That said, if you look at the view out my kitchen window, you will see that now is not the time to try either Cyanotype or Helliographic printmaking.  There will be no sun around here in SW Washington for about 5 to 6 months.  Those techniques require sun and heat, and what we have is rain, rain, and then more rain.

I do not have the supplies or a screen for Thermofax printing either.

This left the Collographic technique, which is essentially building a collage on a flat surface and using it to print with.
Sue describes this technique as freeform, playful, and unexact.
That's for me!  Plus I had some acrylic paints, textile medium, and brushes on hand.  Stripped down to its essentials, the Collographic technique doesn't require any more than these basic supplies to try it out.

And I had a purpose to print for too.  I'll be making a 36" X 36" quilt for an invitational show, and needed some sky fabric as well as some brightly colored, vivid flowers.  It's going to be a garden quilt.

Before I began making actual prints, I warmed up, so to speak, by painting some flowers, some that had been fussy cut from printed cotton, and some that were pre-made by M & S Schmalberg

What a difference a little paint makes!
Already, Sue's DVD has made a big difference in my coming quilt...I'm glad I tried something new. (These flowers will be raw edge appliqued eventually.)

Then it was time to take the plunge and make my first ever in my life print.

My goal for the sky was to create interest and movement, almost like the wind.  I had this idea....

...that I would use a piece of the very textural lace I have in my stash as a stamp.  I didn't have the Gelliprint or breyer or other supplies Sue mentioned for the collograph technique, but I knew I could make a print by just loading the lace with paint and....

I made several prints, adding some water to thin the paint down, doing multiple prints on one piece of fabric...

or using a finer piece of lace....

In the end I had a nice assortment and had had a blast printing, too.

I felt that Sue was right there with me while I worked.
Below is a screenshot I took from the DVD.

And here is me, having big time fun.

I started laying out my sky on a muslin foundation...early days, just playing with the elements I made, plus some other hand-dyed fabric my friends Val and Stacey made.

I'm thinking that quilting around that printed lace is going to be very wind-like.

The flowers are going to be extra special with their added pigments, too.

I  am going to paint some more flowers.  Can't imagine NOT painting them anymore.

At the end of Sue's DVD she shows in many quilts how her deep immersion in the techniques she presents is put to committed purpose.  Her body of work is truly inspiring.  One technique she mentioned towards the end, when she talked about the importance of the actual quilting to the overall design of the quilt....she quilts in two layers sometimes!  First she echo quilts, then goes over that with another layer, in heavier thread, in a different design.
Never ever would I have thought of that concept...but you'll be seeing it in my sky....

I have one minor quibble with the DVD, because I am such a newbie to printing.  I would have really appreciated a Supply List and Materials Resource list.  What was required for each technique went by pretty fast, and I wasn't familiar with most of it. Even a list put up on the screen so I could pause the DVD to write it down or take a screenshot would be a big help.  At the very end of the DVD they flash a website,  Maybe they sell everything....if they do, putting together "beginners' supply kits" would be helpful.

But any internet savvy shopper can find what is needed, so this is a minor point.

When I was at Quilt Market last month, I took the time to search out Sue's quilt, "Silk Mill", in the Tactile Architecture exhibit.

Now I have a much more informed idea of the skill and vision that went into the creation of this art.

Sue invited some other quilt artists on this Blog Tour, to offer their response to her new DVD.  The schedule is here:

11/5/14: Sue Reno
11/6/14: Susan Brubaker Knapp
11/7/14: Allie Aller
11/8/14: Diane Doran
11/9/14: Vivien Zepf
11/10/14: Virginia Spiegel
11/11/14: Cynthia St. Charles
11/12/14: Natalya Aikens
11/13/14: Lyric Kinard

I can't wait to follow along.

Thank you, Sue, for unleashing a whole new form of energy into my work.  It was fun, and I am grateful.



Unknown said...

Allie, I loved that photo of the blue lace printed in various thicknesses of dye/pain in multiple layers. I can feel the wind, let alone imagine it! Viv

Unknown said...

paint, sorry........not pain, duh.

Gill said...

What fun!
PS It's raining here too!

Bear said...

Allie thank you for this review, and love your lace wind also but can see more ways to use that and the flowers., I can see some fun time ahead.Belinda

Anonymous said...
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KAM said...

Thank you for your review of Sue's book. I have been a fan of her work for many years and am delighted to have this opportunity to see your work - fresh and quite wonderful. Your explorations and photos have me ready to head to the studio and explore. Kristin

Susan Elliott said...

So happy to find you playing and creating a new quilt. It looks like a lot of fun over there in Washougal!

Rian said...

You look like you're having fun, Allie!

NickersMarie said...
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NickersMarie said...

Allie, this looks like a blast! Can you recommend a fabric medium?

Thank you,