Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rayna and Ellen Anne fill their new books with innovative, creative spirit

Rayna Gillman's 'Scapes' quilt from her new book
People who love fabric seem to understand that we are all threads in this universal tapestry. We are all connected, some more tightly woven together than others. In the quilting community we are a tight-knit group with quilts as our common thread.

Learn to make beautiful flowers like
this one featured in Ellen Anne Eddy's quilt
It has been my pleasure for most of my life to be a part of such a community. In the past year, when it seemed like everything was 'too hard' or my energy was replaced by apathy or I just wanted to curl up into a ball and hide -- this community of quilters and artists pulled me through. Whether by blog, email, phone conversation, face-to-face, or Facebook, fellow fabric lovers have kept me afloat. Blogging, as you have noticed, has been set aside for far too long. But today, before the New Year enters, I want to offer up two books that you might want to take with you into this new year.

Both books are written by women quilters and artists who are among the most giving, generous, thoughtful, and caring friends a woman could ever want. I not only admire their character, but their skills and imagination. They take me to worlds I had never encountered. Their techniques and creations make me feel like I can do anything! Make me feel creative.

They are also strong women who have been my rock, whether they know it or not. They are Rayna Gillman and Ellen Anne Eddy.

I'm sure these are names you've heard before. Both have previously published books. Both have won awards. Both are teachers who bring joy and wonder and absolute fun to the process of learning and creating. And both have new books out, published by CT Publishing! What joy!

Rayna Gillman
 Rayna, author of Create Your Own Hand-printed Cloth, adds a second Create Your Own book. She takes her students and readers into a stress-free journey to original design that draws on her free spirit and sense of adventure and love of child's play: Create Your Own Free-form Quilts.

Rayna begins her free-form quilts with 'therapy strips.' She cut dozens of fabric strips from her stash of hand-dyed and commercial fabrics and sewed them together willy-nilly, just cutting and sewing, cutting and sewing. Her brain didn't have to worry about anything, it just rested as her hands and eyes took over. But the pile of strips was only the beginning. Add a rotary cutter, some more fabric pieces, and some more free sewing and you are beginning to get the idea of free form creative quilts. But she has a lot more unique approaches to quilt creation within the 94 pages of this book.

This is a process book, not a design or pattern book. It is a journey that allows you to play, experiment and throw the idea of 'mistakes' right out the window. It is liberating and is written with the Rayna enthusiasm that anyone who has taken one of her classes will recognize. See -- you can't think of your experiences with Rayna without smiling! I see that grin!

Another perk of this book: using up UFOs! Yes! A whole section on reinventing UFOs with strips and bits. That alone may be worth the $28!

One thing that this book reinforces for me is that there is no such thing as an ugly quilt. It really doesn't matter what fabrics you combine, how you stitch them, cut them, layer them -- the result turns out brilliant! It may be funky, it may be artsy, it may be surprising, but always, a quilt finds its own beauty. I needed reminded that what I create without pattern or design directions, but only with heart and fabric -- is a thing of beauty and a joy creating. The pages are filled with colorful, unique and imaginative quilts that will get your own imagination revved up.

But I said two books. Shift gears with me to thread painting and intuitive applique with Ellen Anne Eddy's Thread Magic Garden.

Ellen Anne encourages cutting shapes rather than using patterns in this book, which is focused on creating flowers. I must admit that if I could create a world as beautiful with my writings as Ellen Anne creates with her fabrics and thread, I would be a MOST delighted and happy woman. I fell in love with her 'other worlds' from the first glimpse of toad, moon, or ladybug. There is something truly magical about Ellen Anne's creations.

This book will help you move closer toward creating your own unique gardens filled with blossoms only you can imagine. She takes the process step by step, talks of flower shapes, construction, petals, stamens, and how to create them with perhaps a fabric center and thread petals, or free-cut petal shapes. She talks of perspective -- the angle with which you see a flower makes for a much different product.

Ellen Anne Eddy
If for no other reason to purchase this book -- it is filled with so many images of Ellen Anne's work. But there are other reasons. Her discussion of stitches, colors, various stitch techniques (couching, machine beading, etc. And perhaps some aspects of quilt making you hadn't considered such as 'creating a visual path' or 'progressive shading.' She also breaks down flowers into their individual shapes -- spiral, 'S' or 'C' shapes.... You will never look at a flower quite the same again.

It is an excellent introduction to thread painting or a book that will take you further into your own imagination. Spending less than $30 to spend time with Ellen Anne and Rayna adds another perk you'll get from these books. Their personalities shine through the encouraging words and their enthusiasm for their art.

Gift yourself this New Year! You won't regret the investment!

It turns out that I have a copy of Rayna's book to give away! To enter leave a comment on this blog entry telling us something fabric/quilt/thread/stitch related that you will do in the New Year. One winner will be drawn on Jan. 15th from those who leave comments.