Author Archives: neonkittyquilts

About neonkittyquilts

Laurie is a fiber artist who combines her passion for animals and quilting by producing pet portraits though a technique she calls "Pet-lique." A frequent teacher at IQF's Open Studios and The City Quilter in NYC, she has been published in Quilting Arts magazine and The Canadian Quilter. Her art quilts have been juried into special exhibits in Houston and the National Juried Show of the CQA. She sits on the board of the Quilt Alliance and is an enthusiastic member of SAQA. Laurie lives in NYC and Connecticut with her husband, their two angelic German Shepherds and three mischievous felines.

The Night Garden

This year I have resolved to focus on one project a month (yes, we’ll see how long that lasts)…and January’s mission was a piece inspired by SAQA’s theme of “Dusk to Dawn.” This happily coincided with one of the (many) photos I want to transform into fiber pieces. Before dawn one morning, I stood at my kitchen window and watched this sky:

I am always inspired by the effect of the trees in our front yard against the shaded of almost-dawn. Of course I couldn’t resist having a little fun with my photo apps:

…oooh! Turning to my stash, I found a perfect piece of hand-dyed almost-black batik and a yard of light purple silk/cotton. As always, the first step was to MistyFuse the black:

Next, free-cut the “ground” and rip some tree “trunks” and “branches”:

The ground needed more dimension so I cut some bits of dark silk…

And after fusing them to the foreground, first applied metallic ink…hmm a little too bright…then a layer of black Paintstik:

The sky was the most fun, as I brushed various shades of ink onto the fabric then used a spray bottle (of water) to allow them to spread and mix.

Many shades of Superior’s Magnifico later…

It was time to work on the trees. I prefer to rip the fabric to create texture on the edge, and for the trunks I molded the fabric to model ridges in the surface (actually the technique I demonstrated in the currently-running season of Quilting Arts TV…it is very easy and quite fun!).

The moon began as a slice of MistyFused Angelina…

…but was way too distracting on its own. (Rule #1: always listen to my husband’s artistic advice ;)…Rule #2: when in doubt, refer to Rule #1 πŸ˜‚.) The solution was to reduce the volume (stitch in along the border with thread matching the sky), then stitch the surface with grey thread to take it down a notch–both of these reach missions accomplished with non-shiny Aurifil thread…then dye some shredded wool batting to resemble clouds. Much better:

Of course, Jackson had to help…

February’s project has already begun: creating some pieces for Jamie Fingal’s “Heart of the Home” project. I cannot think of a better mission for Valentines month ;)!

Thread Obsession πŸ˜‰πŸΎπŸΎ

Ok, so you have probably noticed my predilection for REALLY BRIGHT colors and my fave brilliant Aurifil 50wt spools. But…have you thought about venturing beyond the orange spools we know and love, and working with the heavier weights?

The photo above shows my ‘paintbox’ of pet portrait threads. Lots of grey bottoms — the 28wt is awesome for fur…one red — super heavyweight white for whiskers…and a selection of 50wt for different eye colors.

This treasure trove really came in handy for my latest project, a portrait of little Sophie:

What a fun Christmas gift to create to a friend’s daughter! I went for lots of different textures (which do not really show up in the photo) to compensate for a Westie’s monochromatic look…the different thread weights were perfect.

First, the photo…

Then, work with apps, and some decisions re background color…

Black was requested as a background…at first I was worried this would be too severe, then remembered my black silk dupioni — texture!

Time for some MistyFusing (of course) and tracing…

Positioning this cutie on the background sandwich, it was now time for thread selection! Who knew there were so many near-whites?

At the bottom left, you may notice I also snuck in a spool of wool “Lana” Aurifil thread…I love it, just remember to use a large enough needle and be gentle with tension.

I like to ink in the subject’s eyes first…and add any other necessary bits (here, a scrap of leather for her nose, pieces of pale peach for her ears, and a piece of silk ribbon for her collar) before revving up my Bernina.

Vroom! Many many layers later…it was time to quilt down the background then add a final feathering of fur around the edges, before trimming and binding.

So, for the New Year…I hope you’ll play with some of my favorite “fur weight” Aurifils! They create a lovely dense fill that is perfect for our favorite companions 😁.

The Tale of a Stack of Fat Quarters

So it all begins when Gotham Quilts sends out the email re Tula Pink’s new collection, “Tabby Road.” Of course, I had to adopt it! 🐾🐾

Sometimes, pieces just make themselves. I pulled 4 FQs to make a tribute to all of my friends who marched in January…couldn’t resist interpreting my feral cutie as a woman with a message…


Note the perfect harmony of these Aurifil spools 😍! I tried to make this more about the fabric than about thread-painting a kitty…to augment the fabrics without overwhelming them.


With 21 FQs left, I could make a lap quilt that I had seen online–my apologies to the original pattern designer, I could not locate it. So, with the help of a little graph paper…


…and lots of MistyFuse (of course)…


…it was a simple matter of randomly  arranging squares to distribute this wonderful riot of color evenly. (Um, yeah, right…it always amazes me how difficult it is to achieve a random look 😳.) Next, step back and wish I hadn’t downsized my longarm table  πŸ˜‚…


Ahem. On to the much happier topic of thread- I decided to try Aurifil on my longarm because the colors were just too perfect…and it worked! A multitude of colors for the hearts…


…and a cone of my new favorite neutral for the background:


Going for major cozy here- wool batting and not-too-much stitching.


Remember those little squares left over from the cutting? They became a small piece which WILL be heavily stitched 😁:


…after my next pet portrait, that is. Stay tuned for an adorable Westie πŸ’œπŸΎπŸΎ…

Burrito!


A celebration of an adorable feline named Burrito πŸ’œ…begins, as always, with a great photo. Run through one of my apps, I grab the image:


…and turn to my stash for fabric selection:


Opting for a light batik and a pale grey flannel for the fur colors, the next big decision is the best background:


Since the fabrics for Burrito’s fur are a solid and a very subtle blender, an interesting red background (love Marcia Derse!) and an solid black with personality (love Grunge!) seem to be good choices.

The light batik is, in fact, very light, so I can trace the eyes and nose right into the fabric before MistyFusing all:


Then, trim and fuse the kitty onto the background:


And, add ink! I used my Tsukineko pens to mark dark and light areas in the grey fur…I think of this as a roadmap for my Bernina, so I know where to use which thread ;).


The more shades of thread you use, the better the effect…ditto different weights. I use a number of spools from the Aurifil thread box I curated for my pet portraits :)…try 40wt for fur in multiple shades of the main fur color, and 12wt for the best whiskers! Of course after you complete your subject’s fur, the background will look a little wavy πŸ˜‚:


For this background I used 50wt dark red and black Aurifil, following Marcia’s design for the red and stitching in imaginary paneling in the black bottom. Note that I always do the whiskers last– makes the background quilting much easier.

Finishing with satin piping and zigzag stitching provides a frame for this irresistible boy :). πŸΎπŸΎπŸ’œ

Poof!

Ok, so it has been a long time since I have written anything here! Other parts of life have become much much busier and I am once again logging lots of air miles. But, new friends bring new subjects for pet portraits ;)…in this case, a little tribute to a much-loved and recently lost companion.

Poof was quite a beautiful (and fashion forward) girl, as shown on in this starting point photo:


First step, run the photo through one of my favorite apps to turn in the image into a more usable image:


Then, select fabrics. This was easy because I had a small but spectacular piece of Carol Eaton’s ice-dyed fabric that was perfect for Poof’s fur…and a light grey print from Janine’s first collection was just right for the sweatshirt. (We pause for a moment to consider how many of our cats would allow us to dress them…) The only real question for me was, which background fabric? Since her fur would be variegated, I wanted a simpler backdrop…


…and opted for a rich blue Grunge fat quarter. Time to MistyFuse!


I traced the outlines of Poof and her sweatshirt on freezer paper, then decided the fabric was light enough to trace in the features directly on the fabric before fusing to the background…


The marvelous thing about ice-dyed fabrics is the variation in color…it was easy to position the pieces to mimic lighter and darker fur. Then, of course, lots and lots of thread! Glossy polyester for her fur…Aurifil cotton for sweatshirt, background and whiskers ;).

I recalled – from a class I took years ago – a very simple alternative to a hanging sleeve, and stitched corners onto the back of the piece…the pencil shows where to put a bamboo skewer or similar thin piece for easy hanging:

I must admit I fell in love with this face while working on this piece! (In the studio now, a portrait of the incredibly cute Burrito…next post :)…)

Waiting for the Train

 

A delay at your commuter train station can be a perfect opportunity for a little creativity! This piece began with a pretty mundane picture of one side of the waiting area at the South Norwalk MetroNorth train station…a wall of glass interrupted only by a television and a large clock. By cropping the photo and running it through a neon filter in one of my favorite apps, MegaPhoto (filter #143), I ended up with a quilt-worthy image:

The red lines you see are from another app, GridaPic, which enables me to enlarge the image and print ‘cells’ out which – when taped together – become the pattern for a larger piece.

Next step, pull the right colors from my stash and MistyFuse all of them:

See those large rolls of MistyFuse? Simply the best…I cannot recommend them enough. On to composition…after studying this image, I decided to make the yellow batik the base and fuse other colors onto it, then ink as needed.

I like to take the strongest elements from my photos and wait to include details until the piece progresses. As you can see, I used a lot of simple straight cutting here, with the exception of the clock face and the brilliant green “sunspot” on the face. I inked in the clock details and brushed in a few shades of orange in the “sky” as well as a few green highlights…I can then use these ink marks as a road map for my stitching. On to the thread – my favorite part! I have my personal dozen Aurifil basics for my neon pieces:

I adore all of these shades! If you are curious, here are the shade numbers for these Aurifil 50wt beauties (my names on the colors, simply for reference here).

RED – 2270…ORANGE – 1104…LIGHTER ORANGE- 1133…YELLOW ORANGE- 2140…YELLOW-2120…YELLOW-GREEN-1231…NEON GREEN- 6737…GREEN- 2884…LIGHT BLUE-2710…MEDIUM BLUE-1128…MIDNIGHT BLUE-2785…DARK BLUE-2784

Another favorite step is deciding which thread shades to use where:

I usually delete a lot of details, and sometimes add ones that were not really there! I decided we needed a couple of birds on the wire to help the viewer see that these yellow lines were, in fact, wires…so, here are a couple of feathered friends discussing the latest train delays and agreeing they are happy that they can fly ;)…:

A million stitches or so later (OK, not literally…), I decide the piece is finished…usually when I can no longer find room to stitch. I decided to do a simple zigzag stitch to finish, edged with some piping to give the edges a little more heft. While my Bernina Stitch Regulator created 99% of this piece, I must give a shout-out to the 2A foot…much better than the open toe for taming edges on an art quilt. (Thanks to Cheryl Sleboda for this tip…her videos are always fabulous if you haven’t watched them!)

So…the next time you find yourself delayed in travel, use the time to grab some photos of seemingly-mundane objects…because you never know which will become your next inspiration!

 

 

Credit Where Credit Is Due πŸ˜‡

Many of you may have noticed that the new series of Quilting Arts TV is now on the air in many stations across the land. It was my first experience with taping a show and incredible for many reasons (most of all the fabulous fellow artists you get to meet!) 

It is also an amazing learning experience…and, along the way, one discovers little things about public television you may not have known. The only one I found frustrating was this: we were not allowed to mention the brand names of our favorite suppliers 🀐. Personally, I love learning about unfamiliar tools and supplies when I take classes…so I thought I would share a few of my favorite things, without which I would not be able to create very much at all!

  1. MistyFuse, of course…if you have not yet switched to this lightweight, repositionable fusible yet, you simply must check out the website http://www.mistyfuse.com/ and make sure to say hi to Iris at the next major quilt show you attend :). 
  2. Tsukineko inks…convenient pens for colors and that indispensable bottle of white for dabbing in highlights in your subjects’ eyes. Compare prices online if your LQS does not carry them…Amazon is rarely the cheapest source for this particular item! 
  3. Mmmmm, thread…Aurifil, of course, for unparalleled color (from your LQS)…Superior poly for shine and subtle shading effects in fur and eyes – their trilobal polyester is awesome (and their website includes lots of “threaducation”!) 
  4. Fabric…oh so many beloved sources…but much of the art you’ll see in my segments would not have been possible without my friend Carol Eaton’s gift at hand-dyeing! Check out her website at http://carolreatondesigns.blogspot.com 

What are YOUR must-have ingredients? 😁