Friday, 27 March 2015

Photoshop Elements Course

I have finished the on-line Photoshop Elements course with Pixeladies and I would highly recommend it if you have Photoshop Elements and want to learn how to use it properly. Photoshop Elements is a photo editing program and you can download a trial copy of Photoshop Elements to use for the course, if you want to try it out before spending the money on the program.

I did the beginners class 1 and 2 and as well as notes there were videos to watch as many times as we liked. The instructions were very easy to follow and we had to post our homework onto the website platform and Kris and Deb, the teachers would give advice and answer all of our questions. I think that they mustn't get much sleep because they answered very quickly!

I spent over an hour every day of the 6 weeks of the course practicing and doing the exercises.

Here are some of the things that I learnt to do.

Changing the colour of a block or I could have selected just the background and tried a different colour.

Here is a holiday photo I took and the person in the left hand foreground was staying there for ages and didn't move, but I was able to take her out of the photo afterwards.

We also learnt how to fix old photos. I had a faded wedding photo of my parents in law that needed some attention.

We learnt how to draw on our photos to audition quilting lines and to label photos and so many handy things.

Our last assignment was to make a postcard using some the skills we had learnt. I did a Welcome to Victoria postcard.

It may not be obvious at first glance but I used a lot of techniques to make the postcard.

Gradient background
Coloured the clothes on the paper doll
Cropped the photo
Intensified the colour
Added two photos to the one background
Outlined the landscape photo
Added text with a transparent background
Placed the text in a layer behind the paper doll
Added a drop shadow.
Outlined the entire postcard.

We learnt many more techniques and when the Intermediate course is offered later on this year, I am definitely going to sign up.

All the videos and information are going to stay available for us to use for 6 months. So I intend to go through the lessons again because I am sure that it will be a great refresher.

There will be another beginner's session this year as well so go to their site, Pixeladies and register your interest.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Balance in the Wetlands

I belong to SAQA  and the Australian and New Zealand members have a private Facebook page where we can communicate and get to know each other. There is a challenge posted four times a year and we can make a small quilt using the theme if we'd like.

The latest challenge was Balance.
I thought about the topic for a while and I started to think about being out of balance. I remembered being on holidays during Victoria's ten years of drought. I always like to visit any wetlands while I am away because I love birds and I am always keen to take photos of them. I was dismayed to find no birds and the wetlands dry and barren.

So I made a small quilt about there having to be a balance of sun and rain for the birds to be at the wetlands.

I had a photo of an Ibis and I put him in a lush wetland environment.

After I had fused the pieces onto the background I used my sewing machine to add details to the Ibis and added some plants.

After I had the quilt top stitched I added some little circles with some Lumiere paint to make it look as if he was standing in the water.

Finally I quilted the water in a thread that has a slight sheen to it and quilted around the leaf shapes on the top half of the quilt. The quilt is 12" x 12" or 30cm x 30cm.

Balance in the Wetlands ©2014 Linda Steele
Bye for now,

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Crazy Quilt Books for Beginners

Last month I did a post about a couple of Crazy Quilting books that I am enjoying at the moment. I have been Crazy Quilting for 12 years now though. I don't use books very much these days but when I first started I had my Crazy Quilting Books next to me all the time as a refresher for stitches and ideas in general.

When I teach I often get asked which are the best Crazy Quilting Books to buy.

My favourite Book in those early days was Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano, it is spiral bound too so it stays open.

I am fairly sure that it is still in print and available. It's handy for left-handers as well because there is a section just for them.

Another book that is still available and very good is the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches. My copy is old and they have changed the cover of it now. It is also spiral bound and has many step by step photos of stitches to follow.

 I used to look at Motifs for Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler a lot in the early days, although I don't use it these days because I draw out my own motifs. It is a lovely book but I am not sure if it is still in print.
 There is a book by Carole Samples called Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches that has just about every combination of stitches that you could think of and is a wonderful resource when you are feeling out of ideas.

There is a new Crazy Book out called Foolproof Crazy Quilting by Jennifer Clouston that has lovely coloured photos and plenty of stitch ideas.

These are the books that I would recommend to a beginner crazy quilter. Have you got any favourite Crazy Quilting books?

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Jeffrey Smart

Last year our final topic with the Waverley Art Quilters was the Australian artist, Jeffrey Smart.

I had done the quilt top in time for our meeting last year but I have only just finished binding it.

Jeffrey Smart was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 26th July 1921 and died in Italy on 20th June 2013.

Jeffrey Smart had moved to Italy in 1965 and spent the rest of his life there. He had success in Australia and internationally and became known for his stark representations of urban landscapes often preferring primary colours.

I found a wonderful book showing most of Jeffrey Smart's paintings in the local library.

Motifs of highways, street signs, buildings and oil drums feature in many of his work and they create a still and silent atmosphere.

Jeffrey Smart often commented that painters do not paint their current environment and he wanted to show the beauty of man-made structures. He was not interested in the beauty of flowers or landscape and believed that composition was everything and people should view art with their eyes and not their head.

Here a couple of Jeffrey Smart paintings that were in the book.

For my quilt I used blocks of colour to make an almost abstract composition inspired by Jeffrey Smart's style.

After I had finished the top I didn't like the green and white strip that I had inserted. The green didn't relate to anything else in the quilt.
I tried a piece of brown fabric over the top and I didn't like that either.
I finally decided to use blue and had to unpick the green and white fabric and sew in the blue strip of fabric.

I thought that it looked like a more successful composition.

I kept the quilting to geometric lines because I felt that feathers and more organic quilting stitches did not suit the quilt.

Jeffrey Smart ©Linda Steele November 2014
Bye for now,

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

SAQA Postcard

Last year I finally joined SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association) and this year there will be a conference in Portland, Oregon in April.
There will be some Australian representatives going over and a call was made for members to make a small postcard so there can be a display of work from Australians.

I decided to participate and made a postcard with an Australian flavour.
I found a piece of mono-printed fabric that I had printed last year with my Gelli plate. The postcard is supposed to be 4" x 6" and so I cut a 4 x 6 hole in a piece of paper to get  an idea of size and where to place the kangaroo.

After I had fused the kangaroo I did some embroidery to embellish the postcard and add some interest. I used chain stitch and colonial knots in a curved line under the kangaroo and some lazy daisies and colonial knots up in the top right hand corner.

When I had finished the embroidery I fused a piece of felt on the back and did some machine quilting. It didn't take very long.

I trimmed the postcard to 4' x 6" and printed out a label with my name and address for the back, but even with the felt behind the postcard, it was still too flimsy and quilt- like to be called a postcard. I had some very stiff interfacing which I fused to the back between the postcard and my label and the postcard was nice and firm.

I finished off the edges with a brown satin stitch.

Luckily the postcard fitted inside a normal business size envelope and I posted it off to the Australian representative.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Sunrise Dilemma

I have started making a crazy quilt block that will depict a sunrise. I looked around for a sunset type of fabric in my stash but I wasn't really happy with any of them. After an unsuccessful painting attempt I decided to go ahead a use the best fabric I could find.

First sunrise fabric

I wasn't really happy and thought that the centre looked a bit heavy and didn't have the delicate, soft look that I was going for.

I was looking through my fabrics for something else and came across and a fabric that was much more suitable, but I had already foundation pieced my block!

I decided to change it and because I didn't want to make a new block, I unpicked the centre stitching and carefully removed the first fabric.

Centre fabric removed
You can just see the fabric that I used as a foundation underneath where I had removed the centre fabric. Then I cut out the new fabric to exactly the size I needed plus a seam allowance.

New sunrise fabric
I did add a little bit of paint to make the sunrise spread a glow a little more. Then I carefully inserted the new fabric and appliqued it in place.

New sunrise centre fabric
No one would know that it wasn't the original fabric, so I was very happy to solve that problem. I think I took the photo above before I had actually done the applique stitching.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Crazy Quilting Books

I often get asked what books I use for Crazy Quilting and the truth is that although I have many books I hardly ever use them because I have been Crazy Quilting for over ten years now and I know all the basic stitches without having to look up any books.

I was at my local bookshop over the holidays and I bought a charming little book that I thought might be handy. It is called Stitch Encyclopedia-Embroidery.

It is not a very big book and it doesn't have very detailed instructions for doing the stitches. Sometimes when stitching away I can wonder what I will do next and having this little book near me can inspire the next stitch. I photographed a couple of the pages so you can see the detail in them.

When you have been stitching a while you don't need the really detailed step by step books that show every step of the way.

Another little book I have near me is a book by Dorothy Bond called Crazy Quilt Stitches.

I love the spiral binding so the book can open completely flat. This little book has no instructions, just little pictures to inspire the next stitch. It was published in 1981, long before I had discovered crazy quilting. I don't even know if this book is still available and I managed to get one by accident when someone was giving away her embroidery supplies when she was moving house.

When you have been crazy quilting a while this is all you need to inspire the next stitch sometimes.

I know there are beginners out there who need the really detailed step by step guides and I'll do a review of my favourite books in a later post.

Bye for now,