Saturday, November 10, 2018

How to Add Texture to Your Work

My name is Gwyned Trefethen.
I am the featured art quilter on
and @52quilters November 5 - 11, 2018.
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

What is it that draws people to quilts and quilting? One answer to that question is their tactile nature. You just can't resist touching a quilt. Quilters often refer to petting their fabric. There is something very soothing about laying fabric out on the cutting or ironing table, and smoothing it into place, much the way you stroke a cat, dog, or infant's hair. When I first started quilting in the late '80s the fabric being used, by the vast majority of quilters, was 100% cotton. That was what I used and it is still my go to fabric. The difference between now and then is what the fabric looks like. In the '80s most of the fabric was tiny prints and calicos. Now batiks, hand dyed fabrics, fabrics created through a multitude of surface design techniques, and non cottons, such as dupioni silk, recycled vintage linen, upholstery samples, and vinyl are just some of the fabrics frequenting contemporary work. Each fabric has a different hand (what it feels like when you run your hand over the cloth ) or texture.

Influential Books and/or Quilt Artists

by Margaret Ramsay
One quilt artist, whom I have long admired for her strong textural work and whimsical style, is Jane Sassaman. She has been creating imaginative gardens and detailed aspects from these gardens, in art quilts for decades. Her workmanship is impeccable. I love the curves of her vegetation in contrast to the thorns which feature in most of her work either as supporting elements or as the lead character. Sassaman is a master when it comes to creating visual texture in her art quilts.

Lets Look At Texture:

Detail from Star Bright
by Gwyned Trefethen
Today's featured element of design is texture. Some common ways texture is featured in art quilts is through quilting. This allows some areas of the work to recede and others to come to forward, like a bas-relief. Another form of texture in quilts is the fabric itself. Texture can also be part of the design. Sassaman does this through her gentle smooth curves and sharp pointed thorns. You can imagine running your hands through her gardens and feeling the soft petals, or getting pricked by the thorns.

Tip of the Day:

I struggled with free motion quilting for years. I feared ruining a quilt top with my quilting, not choosing an appropriate pattern, and detracting from the quilt due to inadequate work. Now, I think my ability to confidently free motion quilt is one of my strengths. How did I go from fear to confident? Practice. Once again, I give credit to Leah Day. In August of 2009 she announced she was going to create 365 free motion motifs, share them via video, and develope a forum where others could share their results or ask her questions. I decided rather than simply watch her videos, I would try all the patterns. The patterns and videos are still available. If you want to learn free motion quilting, or improve your free motion quilting, working your way through Leah's videos is a great way to practice.

Comments and Questions:
I value your comments and questions. You may send them to me publicly by commenting at the end of the blog. If you prefer, you may address me privately via email. I will be hosting the 52 Quilters blog and Instagram accounts from November 5 - November 11, 2018. I will answer some of your questions in the final post on November 11th.

Social Media Addresses and Affiliations:

Instagram: gwynedtrefethen

Juried Artist Member (JAM) and Board Member of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA)

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