Friday, February 15, 2013

No Mush

Hi, guys. How's everybody doing? I'm doing okay, just a terrible blogger is all. Thanks for the emails checking up on me.

On Sunday I gave a demo to the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild which happens to be my guild. I talked about working with ugly fabrics (and how I've grown to love them), showed off Ellis Island and some larger chunks of ugly fabric that went in it, and emphasized the importance of value. I didn't bring any value-less (hee hee hee) examples with me because it was supposed to be a short talk. So let's see if I can do a better job of explaining myself here.

In order to check value in my quilts in progress, I use red and green value finders. I have a mismatched pair but these are  Cottage Mills Color Evaluators and they work great.


You can get the filters from Amazon for sure and sometimes get lucky at a quilt shop. Or, use camera filters or plastic or acrylic in red and green. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, but you need both colors.

You hold one of the filters up to your eyes and look at your fabric or blocks. I put the blocks for Pokey's Quilt up on the design wall today and this is what it looked like through the green filter.


I could not get a photo through the red filter for nuthin, but it would look similar (but different). The point is, I can see light lights and dark darks and no area where everything is blending together. If I find the same contrast looking through the red filter, I know this quilt is working great. (Which it is, woohoo!)

What is mush you ask? Here is Kansas City Troubles which I made in the 1990's. Very typical of my colors of the time. 


It's a quilt that never worked and I didn't understand why until many years later. If I'd had the filters I could have looked through them and seen something like this:


Okay, there is some contrast here. It's not really sharp, but I can see triangles and sawteeth and a strong inner border. And here it is through the red filter:






That's a lot of mush, with an inner border.

I faked these two filtered pics using Picasa, so this isn't entirely accurate BUT you can get my point right? Use both the red and green filters and you need to see contrast in both unless you are purposely doing a low-volume quilt but that is a whole other animal.

So if you keep the red and green filters by your sewing machine you can make frequent checks on your progress. I've gotten much better at seeing it myself without needing to use them.

Another great tool, which many of you already know about, is your camera. Look at a photo of your quilt in black and white (on your computer using photo editing software unless you have a really peachy camera).





Mush. This is the most accurate representation of the value, but not necessarily the easiest one to work with constantly.

Did that make sense? Was it helpful? Feel free to ask questions.

Here is a tutorial by Piecemeal Quilts that I think is wonderful. Great examples of pushing your fabric choices so there is less mush and more zing.

I surprised myself at just how much fun I had doing the demo. I need to remember that and not be so intimidated about teaching. Speaking of which, I'm coming out to Colorado to teach in May! fingers crossed.


Okay, before I go, here are a few kitty pics.  Old photos, which says something about how long it's been since I've done this. Annabelle


She was three months old when I took these last July.


 And not to be left out: Cooper


They've gotten so much bigger since then. Annabelle is still getting into trouble and Cooper is sleeping a lot (growing boy).

If you want to see more kitty pics, Friend me on Facebook. I am better at posting there...

40 comments:

jovaliquilts said...

Nice to see a blog post! Very good info, thanks. Do you know of a way to determine what will recede and what won't? I have heard the dark/light thing, but there seem to be more variables than that. I know, because I just had to remove a block from a quilt I'm working on because the wrong part pops. Love your kitties!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Good post! Glad you are out and about and playing with fabric (and kitty fur).

HUGS!!

Sujata Shah said...

Nice post on color values. Yeah for teaching and giving the talk at the guild!

Lisa Shafer said...

I had no idea all this was necessary to make a quilt. Wow.
Pardon my ignorance.
I'm just glad to see you posting so I have some idea how your life is going. :)

Sharon said...

New quilters have a hard time understanding the difference between color and value. They don't realize you can have 10 colors, all of the same value, or 10 values of the same color. Value makes or breaks a quilt, jmho. I love the B&W setting on my cheap digital, I don't even have to take the pic, just look through it and see the dark spots! Great to see a post from you, was wondering how life has been for you!

liz said...

Thanks so much for this!

Lee D said...

This is great info Tonya. thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you are doing fine as well. The kitties are so cute and a little curious?

cauchy09 said...

Hi!

A nice explanation of value. One of those things we don't discuss enough.

roccagal said...

great post Tonya!

I am happy to see that you are well-I think like some of you other followers, we were getting worried!

The kitties are too cute!

rondiquilts said...

Nice to see you back, have missed you. Thanks for directing us to the tutorial.
Take care,
Rondi

Rachaeldaisy said...

It's so interesting to hear about those green and red thingys, I just do the black and white trick. Your talk would have been fabulous! How cute are your little kittens!!!

9patchnurse said...

It was a great talk Tonya. I really loved seeing your quilts and getting to meet you in person. I went digging in my sewing room today and found my red and green filters, yay! Your kitties are so cute and I think they want sewing lessons.

9patchnurse said...

It was a great talk Tonya. I really loved seeing your quilts and getting to meet you in person. I went digging in my sewing room today and found my red and green filters, yay! Your kitties are so cute and I think they want sewing lessons.

Kathie said...

great post. I tend to blend some of my blocks together, remember I make a lot of scrappy quilts with hundreds of fabrics in each one!, on purpose. I think it gives the eye a place to rest as the saying goes but for me it makes me look at that block to see the fabrics!
I will be looking for red and green page covers to have by my design wall!
Kathie

Kerri said...

Thanks Tonya so much for your explanation. When I have picked up the value finder, I never really got why looking through the green thing was showing me if my colors would go together! "no mush" made it all click!! yeh! I was just at quilt in a day since it is pretty near my house, and Eleanor Burns' quilts although might seem to me sometimes old fashioned corny, but they always look really good and pleasing no matter the colors or type of flowery fabric, As I went through the many quilts on the wall, I would notice she picks 5 or so good fabrics that just pop. Now I can figure out a good combo.

Elaine Swatniki said...

Very helpful information-I had never heard about the filters-going to a Dear Jane class today and am going to ask the others if they have heard about that tool. My quilts 20 years ago were mush as well-all matchy matchy mush-now they pop because of contrast-most of them:)

Heidi said...

great info ! And great to see you blogging again :-)

Barb said...

interesting post.
a lot of people think that color is king, but me it's always been contrast is king.
funny kitties at the machine photos!

Kim said...

There is always so much to learn to make a quilt better....thanks for your tutorial. Glad you are getting some kitty love and enjoying your sewing time. I'm packing up the sewing room and moving south...how long did it take you to get everything in your sewing room unpacked and up and running after your move?

Happy sewing and teaching :0)

Susan Briscoe said...

Great post - always used to have colour gel in red and green in the workshop box when I taught my beginners' class. So useful. Being able to view through the camera in class is even better. I've sent a FB 'friend' request BTW. Love the blog!

Judy in Michigan said...

So happy to see a post from you! I think I finally understand the red/green filters and how to use them. Thank YOu - it only took me 26 years to understand. Looking forward to hearing more from you, your work, and your kitties.

Lynda said...

Hooray! So glad to see you're back on the horse! And what a fabulous post! I often take my glasses off and squint at blocks to see if they're balanced. Works for me!

Marge said...

Lucky quilters who hear your talk and saw your quilts! Even though I use dozens and dozens of fabrics in my quilts, I know that I have to keep checking how they read. Thanks for the reminders.

Brown Dirt Cottage said...

Great info! I need to remember/practice this more!

I've seen a great demo from Jenny Beyer similar to this. She has 3 different little quilts so you can see the difference in each.

Sharon said...

Great post, Ton! Value is soooo important, and most quilters don't understand it. The Low Volume quilt I'm working on is a different exercise for me. There still has to be some contrast!

So glad you did a demo for your guild! Wish I could have seen it!

Sweet kitties! I once had a cat that "helped" me sew...I was terrified that he'd catch the needle!

Cindy said...

Thanks for the explanation on using the filters. I purchased them years ago and never used them because I didn't understand how they worked. I'll have to dig around and find them and leave them out so i can put them to good use. I really didn't know how to fix my quilts when they didn't "look" right. Now I can test the blocks.

Helen said...

Thanks for the value lesson! I used a Ruby Beholder many years ago when I made Colourwash quilts. It helped me get the "mush" I wanted. Never occured to me that it would work in reverse. Will try using green as well...

electricdunce said...

I always have a cat or two helping me sew. it does make life so much more entertaining, your kitties look great !

Karin

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Tonya. Great post. It's always good to refresh these details in the mind. I like the ideas of the filters. I usually just take a b&w photo. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. Always good to hear from you.
best, nadia

PS: adorable cats!

Carol said...

Hi Tonya, Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed watching you on The Quilt Show yesterday as part of their free weekend for International Quilting Day (or weekend in their case!) I had bought your book when it came out and have studied it and mulled it over but never tried any letters yet. But your demo with Ricky on the show took the fear factor out! I can see me adding names or words to quilts now. I met you in Houston a couple of years ago - Yes, I thought I recognized you up in on the 2nd floor on Sunday before the show started and my friend encouraged me to approach you. I did and you were so kind and I was so glad to meet you. Been a long time blog reader and especially enjoy the improvisational quilts you have done as well as the big stitch quilting. I remember when you did the request for the 4-letter words as well as the Halloween words. Both great quilts. Sew on!

mikawendy said...

Great tips on value finding--I never knew green was needed, too! Another great place to get red value finders is from Transformers toys. I'm not sure about now, but way back when, they used to come with a piece of red plastic that was used to reveal a special code when laid on top of part of the box. Anyhow, I kept one of those and use it as a value finder.

callie brady said...

Thank you so much for this post. I never knew about using the red and green filters. I knew contrast was important but the filters make it very clear as to where the mush is happening.

Carolyn DiPerri said...

You'r not a bag blogger at all. I really enjoyed reading your blog. You can purchase something that does the same thing as the camera. I forget what it is called but I use it all the time. It is the piece that is in a door at a hotel when you look through it to see who is at your door before you open it. That piece lets you know the value as well.

Thanks for the info.
I liked your kittens!

Carolyn
http://www.homesewnbycarolyn.com

Maikel said...

I am looking for your book in eBook format. Amazon doesn't seem to carry it. Where can I get it? Thanks.

Tonya Ricucci said...

Word Play Quilts is available as an e-book from Martingale: http://www.shopmartingale.com/word-play-quilts.html

Sherri ~ daintytime said...

I've used a red filter but never a green one. I'm curious - why both? Thanks. & cute kitties.

marshaleith said...

finally an explanation about the 2 filters...I never knew which one to use and why...now I know to use both!!
Love your kitties....

Kim said...

Hi Tonya!

I'm still upacking the sewing room
but doing more sewing and messing up then organizing and unpacking :0)

Thinking of you and just wanted to say Hi and wish you a Happy Fall.
And as always
Happy Sewing

momajo said...

I enjoyed your blog today. It was very instructive. We need blogs like this to make us think and grow. Why aren't you posting much and helping us more?
Sincerely. Glad to read this.
Momajo54@hotmail.com

Ulla's Quilt World said...

So lovely!
Greetings from Finland!
Hugs, Ulla