Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recipe for Fabric Art: Gather 176 red fabrics

It was a serendipitous moment when I stumbled across an article about Jessie Marinas' art, particularly his "Grape Harvest" painting. The moment I read that it had been reproduced as an art quilt, I had to find the fabric artist. Lynn Drennen blew me away with her work, her imagination and her devotion to detail and technique. For more views of her work, visit webshots. Her fabric version of Marinas' "Grape Harvest" won the Hoffman fabrics sponsored best of show award for 2009 in Road to California competition. Lynn graciously took time to write this blog and share photos of her work as well as tips and suggestions. She also urges us to embrace a new form of technology unrelated to fabric art, but very much in our thoughts and lives. Here is Lynn Drennen in her own words. -- Dawn


I grew up with a sewing machine and learned traditional quilting in the late 80s. But in 2003, making a romantic art quilt depicting dancers captured my fantasy--her skirt swirled in the moonlight as he twirled her in his arms. I’d never constructed an art quilt; even so, I blissfully gathered 176 red fabrics for this masterpiece and set the dye on them so they’d not bleed when washed. During the year constructing Folkloric Ballet Dancers, I detoured frequently to learn how to do the next step. My talented friend, Wei Luan,** came to my rescue and painted the dancers’ faces. If you aren’t already aware of this: art quilts don’t come with (pre-printed) instructions. Construction ideas are randomly considered and rejected or used as the project proceeds.

“Dancers” was a turning point in my quilting interest. At night, while asleep, I methodically pieced, thread painted or quilted various parts of it. Then it happened: quilting passion steamrolled over every facet of my life! I equated quilting with breathing and knew I couldn’t stop either and

continue to live. Folkloric Ballet Dancers went on to win the Giltner-Moore Memorial Award for “the most meaningful quilt.” By then, “good enough” fell below my personal standard. I began reading, studying and practicing construction methods to expand my technique “toolbox.” Even now, breakfast is best eaten with a quilt book studying yet another construction, design or finishing technique.

Grape Harvest was inspired by a mural Jessie Marinas painted. I instantly saw that scene in fabric and gathered sky fabrics as Jessie gave me permission to use his art. The quilt top was made by Marilyn J. Smith and me and quilted by Gina Perkes. Both Marilyn and Gina are inspired with their artistic work. Marilyn’s contribution is the amazing people on the quilt and Gina tied it all together with her creative quilting. I provided most of the background you see and appliquéd it. The piecing is a combination of Sharon Schamber’s method of Piec-lique and raw edge appliqué. I used Canson’s Calque tracing paper to make patterns from my full-sized

computer printout.

Although I enjoy using commercially printed fabrics in my quilts, I was challenged to find a print depicting grape vineyard rows. I dreamed about making the “rows” by pin-tucking fabric which, later, added nice dimension to the quilt. Fabric in the dog is a fussy cut autumn forest print to bring out the dog’s shading. Various shirt and jeans fabrics were thrift store finds.

Both the mural and quilt were displayed together at the Manteca Quilt Show in March where

visitors were able to view both art works side by side. That was exciting. And Jessie is interested in future collaborations with me.

NOTE: ** Wei Luan, muralist, loves painting epic murals. He's Chinese, having left China following the Tienanmen Square massacre. One of the first educated ci

tizens China allowed to leave the country.

These are steps I adopted relating to studio setup, equipment and practice: TIPS OF THE TRADE

Setup is important: create a dedicated space large enough to support artistic endeavor. I commandeered our living room. Store stash(s) in that room. Make or buy a sewing machine table to recess the machin

e so the machine’s throat plate is level with a flat surface for piecing and quilting. Include a la

rge design wall, cutting table, pressing surface, abundant full-spectrum lighting, bookcases, computer and printer if you can.

Focus on construction: store construction supplies (i.e., tape, rulers, glue, starch, stabilizers, fusibles, papers and tools) in this room. Quick access of construction supplies allows me to stay focused on my project. I keep fabric in plastic trays on shelves in cabinets according to color. My thread stash is organized by color in rolling carts from an office supply store. Rolling carts and drawers also hold embellishment supplies (i.e., inks, paints, beads, bling, fibers, foil, trims, and sheers). Cutting tools, scissors and templates are in drawers under the cutting table for easy access.

Sewing machines: new machines offer a wide list of great features. I recommend auto foot lift for piecing or pivoting appliqué, needle stitch-width safety to avoid breaking needles while using a single-hole needle plate, auto needle down, end bobbin alert, integrated dual feed, and large harp space since I machine quilt my quilts. For me, presser foot and machine familiarity is a must.

I thrive on sharing my quilting passion every day with friends, retreats, virtual and local training classes, art groups, quilt shows, and guild meetings. Creating synergy with quilting buddies on group projects, sharing my knowledge of various topics including who to study and how to do a technique rounds out my quilting journey.

Lynn Drennen lives in Lindsay, CA, working full time as a financial analyst and database manager. She is a national award-winning quilter who practices FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) an hour each morning before work. Evenings and weekends are dedicated to quilting endeavors and time with her supportive husband, Bill, and two wonderful Labradors who share her life’s passion.


Raise your hand

if you like having a mammogram! Personally, I hate them which is why I don’t plan to ever have another one since there’s better technology for breast examination. I want to tell you about thermography. Thermography uses infrared imaging to examine breast tissue. It’s totally painless and more effective in finding problems than mammography.

I need for you to learn about breast thermography so that you and I (along with your family and friends) can bring that technology to the Valley area where we live. Right now, those exams are only available in Ventura (south of Santa Barbara) and in northern CA up toward Santa Rosa. If you don’t know about thermography, Google it, find out about it and encourage everyone you know to have it instead of a mammogram. Thermograms detect breast tumors with a 94% success rate. (Only a CT scan can approximate 100% efficacy.)

Mammograms miss up to 46% of all tumors. Mammography only detects tumors or problems if the tissue can be compressed and read between the examination plates.

Breast Thermography. . .

Because mammograms can be too late!

Thermography is non-invasive. You stand in front of the camera, put your hands on your head, and the technician takes about 8 shots of you which transfer directly into the computer. These pictures show the chest area from just below the neck to below the breast area and in underarm areas. Thermography shows the chest wall, sees through implants, scar tissue, thick tissue, and problem breast tissue. Problems encountered by mammography aren’t problems for thermography. The sad thing is that some tumors are on the chest wall and mammography won’t detect them. My girlfriend’s daughter had her malignant tumor there.

Thermography pictures are read by a qualified thermography doctor who sends you a report complete with copies of your pictures. Then, your technician gives you a full consultation explaining the report, pictures and information on “where to go from here.” I’ve used this test for the last two years (annual exam) and it is approximately the same cost as a mammogram. In both cases, my insurance reimbursed me the full cost of the exam. I submitted a claim along with my paid invoice and they sent me a check.

Thermography shows exactly what’s happening in your breast tissue (in the color picture of your report) whereas a mammogram shows a spot. Then the mammography doctor says, “well, I don’t know, let me do a biopsy just to make sure.” In thermography, you can tell immediately if there is a problem and then pursue the ultrasound to determine exact size and location. Unnecessary surgeries, fear, pain and expense aren’t involved.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest in thermography and I hope, like me, you’ll investigate this newer exam technology, become an advocate, and demand that it be available in your area for you, those you love and those you know and so forth. It will take a grass roots effort to make this available for all of us no matter where we live. Currently, it’s mostly available in major metropolitan areas. (I first heard of it reading one of Suzanne Somers’ books.)

In my opinion, it is the only technology available that tells me exactly what condition my breast tissue is in… and knowledge is empowering. Most tumors are caused by life style and can be reversed by changes in life style if detected early enough. Sadly, the generic mammography postcard saying “ok” doesn’t tell me enough. I can’t accept that non-informative report.

In most cases, thermography will show suspect areas years before they can develop into problem tumors. That’s amazing information. It’s information that will cause fewer people in our families, friends and community to suffer from breast cancer or go bald from chemo or radiation treatments. Supporting thermography is supporting breast cancer awareness.

Get your thermogram and adopt recommended behavior changes… encourage everyone you know to have thermograms (from as early as 18 or 20 years old) and monitor yearly changes based on annual thermograms.

This technology will save lives—our own, those we love and others we touch with our knowledge and enthusiasm. Please become a foot soldier in my army to turn breast cancer around in your area. I know you can do it! I have faith in your enthusiasm.

Lynn (getting off my soap box now)

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