Monday, March 3, 2008

My Harem Of Color Is Reborn

Inspired by the success of my Desert Turquoise CN Pillow, I tackled updating my second Harem Of Color Pillow to truly reflect the vision of the design. I upgraded the fringe and trim. The small changes were easily done using the simple HOC construction details published within Chris Nejman's Pillows book. The changed were quickly added by my Babylock Ellageo.

The results made all the difference in the world.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Desert Turquoise

I finished my third unique Christopher Nejman pillow! With a flirty fringe this big blue baby is a keeper.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What Is An Art Pillow?

In pillow and quilt construction there are many choices. Some pillows and quilts are designed to be touched daily and are soft, floppy and washable. Art Quilts tend to be more the kind you hang on the wall and admire. An Art Pillow is somewhere in between. Chris Nejman's Pillows are primarily designed for maximum visual impact and are neither soft nor washable. They are unique pieces of fabric art. Each make a strong visual and tactile statement and are designed to accent a contemporary living space.

Pick up a CN Pillow and you will find they are heavy and very dense. A properly constructed RA pillow tips the scale at a bit over 4 lbs. Every square inch of a CN pillow top has been manipulated and formed by hand and is embellished with all manner of highly reflective and rich fabric, fibers and custom material. Each Pillow is signed and dated by the artist.

The techniques that can be learned as a by-product of the creation of a CN Pillow are useful in a wide variety of fiber construction projects. Color choices and balance are key and must work with the density and physical characteristics of the fibers called for in each design.

Fabric punching couples with thread and metallic fiber embellishments to build a solid, while multidimensional surface. The rich and often hand constructed trim frames the resulting pillow and with a seductive drape, it will beckon the observer to come and touch the shimmering surface.

Like me, you too can learn to construct these marvelous, Textile Eye Candies and have fun in the process.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Punching In A Roving-Free Zone

One of the first things you do when you get a needle punching machine is to play with wool roving. Roving is used by fiber artists to spin thread or yarn. It is also used to make felt. The fibers lock together during these processes to create a tightly matted surface. Silk roving can also be used for a very slightly shinier result. 

This is NOT what we want when creating a Christopher Nejman (CN) design. He made a design choice early on to explicitly exclude roving as a material for inclusion in his signature works. NO roving is allowed in a CN Pillow. 

I have used a tiny bit of roving in some of my own, personal projects for very special reasons.
  1. Roving is good for testing if your punching machine's needles have grown dull. If you can not punch wool roving to another punchable surface it is time to change those needles.
  2. Roving, especially silk roving, can be used in very tiny amounts to act as "glue" to bind normally non-punchable fibers and fabric together. Because wool roving is so dull when punched even a tiny bit can take the shine off a project and mask the material so use this approach only when nothing else works.
  3. Tiny amounts of high contrast color roving can be finger spun and pulled to create a matt thread that can look like ink from a calligrapher's brush stroke. Again a tiny amount can create a negative space to set off your fabric punching.  As an example you might see my football on this blog.
There are some great sites out there that have projects that use roving to give a great rustic look to craft projects but this blog will remain, for the most part, a Roving-Free Zone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rocking The Desert

What's next? 

Currently I am working on my third Christopher Nejman designed pillow - The Desert Turquoise. I can't show you a completed shot yet but there is lots of activity in my sewing area on my Babylock Embellisher. Here is a sneak peek as the curves of turquoise take shape.

May All Your Christmas Trees Be Punched

After completing the Ra Pillow I decided to take a little break & create some Christmas tree ornaments. I punched some very thick metallic yarns and serger threads onto a triangular piece of suede. 

Punching on real leather was a first for me.  Then I gave it the Christopher Nejman treatment with lots of other embellishments. My new BLL made short work of securing it to a large metallic ribbon "trunk".

It made a lovely little tree and I learned how to punch fabric to suede, not bad for a few hours work.

The Big RA

The next project for our group was the Ra Pillow. It seemed simpler than the HOC. It was an even greater challenge that introduced me to a wide variety of sewing techniques and new materials. There were lots of subtle decorative stitching techniques that are not obvious but do influence the total feel of the piece. The pillow is also very large.
All in all it pushed me into acquiring a new Babylock Ellageo. It was much easier to handle the unusual materials & metallic thread that are so critical to a Christopher Nejman design.  
I also decided to take up the next step up in the challenge of not only creating my own "fabric" with the Embellisher but to create my own fringe with a Lacis Fringe Maker. 
The results speak for themselves I think.

The Harem Collection Grows

In order to perfect my craft I created another Harem Of Color Pillow. I tried a few different choices. The second one was easier but not yet perfect. My little Singer was struggling on the fat sandwiches of slippery material.
I grew in confidence I could really make some stunning objects.

A Bird Flew In

Occasionally as part of our on-line class, Christopher spurred us on by giving us small extra challenges. While I can't go into detail here I will say the Bird Of Paradise pillow you may spot on Chris' Bag and Pillows web site is related.

Fabric punching is not just about attaching flat pieces of material to each other or to a backing. It can also be about totally changing the texture and sheen of a material. The metallic threads used are not just to bind the materials but to catch the eye & lead it into unexpected corners and unanticipated patterns.