Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Making small work look like something

I have really liked doing small pieces, but I have to admit that when you bind them and go to hang them, they tend to look like hotpads or placemats. I have been finishing some small pieces over the last couple of days and decided to experiment a little with ways of giving them some significance.

You have seen this piece in its unfinished form. I did minimal quilting, then sewed some strips of black canvas to the edges and stretched the whole piece on wooden canvas stretcher bars. The image is about 11" square. With the canvas and stretched it is 16" square.

I quilted this piece a little more heavily and then bound it with black binding. Then I stretched black canvas on stretcher bars and mounted the piece on that by stitching through the canvas on the back side to tack the piece to the canvas. The stitching does not show on the front. (Sorry this image is a little blurry)

This last piece uses a silkscreen I did of pine. I put a backing on it with no binding, then mounted it on a piece of black canvas with fabric glue. I cut a piece of bamboo to the right length and stitched the top edge of the canvas to the bamboo. This piece will go in the Japanese Garden Show this summer. I have finished other pieces this way for that show. You can see examples here and here. It works well to give the work for that show an Asian feel.

I have also framed very small pieces. How do you quilt artists out there finish your small pieces?


  1. The canvas trick is interesting. I have just sold several small pieces and have reservations about helping them look like more than potholders.

    I may mount a few on canvas to see how the gallery likes them.

  2. I really like the look of small works framed. I have never done it, but judging from your results, I will try it. We are 1/3 of the way to Portland - spending the night in Eureka, CA! See you soon,

  3. Aha! From your link to your other garden pieces, I now know what makes your work so distinctive....it's that dark line you achieve by fusing a blue, grey or brown fabric under your pattern pieces!!!!! I love all your "small" work...it looks "large" no matter what...you do a great job of presenting them, too.

  4. Terry: I have:

    hung them on a small dowel

    stretched cloth over stretcher bars, then stitched the quilt to the cloth

    Painted a "gallery wrap" canvas (the ones with the staples on the back, not the sides) to continue the colors / theme of the quiltlet, then stitched the quilt to the canvas (Hot August Night - Plum, Man on my website is the most recent along with Moonlight, both in the Postcards section of the gallery--don't know how to insert a hotlink here for you)

    Purchased 1/4" thick plexiglass cut to size, *very carefully* drilled small holes for hanging and stitching on, and stitched the piece to float on top of the plexi.

    Fused fabric to timtex that works with the piece (Red Sea Nautilus, in the Small Art section of my website) and stitched the piece to that.

    Mounted pieces to black foam core (stitched) and framed them in inexpensive silver frames (did that with the At Anchor postcards).

    It depends on the pieces....If I were to wrap stretcher bars again, I'd probably choose a heavy weight fabric as you did, or do muslin, then batting, then cloth...I don't like the way the black cotton wraps over the bars...looks lumpy.

    I really like the plexi, but it words better with a contemporary or abstract style, which I don't do too often.

    For the gallery wrap canvases, I (sigh) prefer the look of the 2"-ish deep canvases, not the regular depth. The deeper ones are, of course, more expensive. Sigh.

    HTH! Cheers, Sarah

    PS---think I'll blog this answer tomorrow and add pictures...check in to my blog in a couple of days???

  5. I've tried many of these methods too. Another thing... I think if the piece is completely asymetical and not square, it looks less like a pot holder. Love you work!