Diane Stavola Blog

Step Three

October 31st, 2007 by Diane

Step two is off for evaluation and I am getting into step three. I look forward to documenting the entire process for the design portion of each step.  It will give a good idea of what I go through as I design, as well as what is required by this particular program.

For this I need a piece based on an historical or ethnic theme.  I have definitely decided to go with the historical.  As part of my work for Cities and Guilds Creative Sketchbooks, I have had to make a collection of architecture.  So wherever I go, so goes my trusty little old (and I mean old – only 2 MB) Canon Digital.  I don’t think they’ve made this model for years, but it does what I need.

One the wonderful old buildings in my town is being rehabed.  Originally, it was a furniture store.   As part of the rehab, they are removing a brick facing that had been added to the building back in the 60’s. In speaking with Alison Blanton, Architectural Historian, she said they were not sure what they were going to find when they removed the facing.  They have pictures of the building with its original detail, but how much had survived was a mystery.  Well, alot has survived.  Grand Piano Building full side viewThis is a photo of how the building looks today as they are stripping the facing. This is a side view from across the street and way into a parking lot.  Most of the pictures will be mine, but if I can get permission, I will add some gorgeous photos that Alison sent me.  GP from the front

The workmanship on this building is fantastic.  And talk about quilt designs!!!!  And they say quilting isn’t art! Well, not everyone says that, but they are surprised when they realize it is art.

GP upper level

The yellow brick alone is stunning.

The style of the designs is definitely Art Deco, according to Alison. I thought it was but wanted to verify it with a pro.

 I will have to get a book out and do some research on Art Deco. gp detail a

The colors of my photos just don’t do justice to how beautiful this work is.  All of mine were taken from the ground looking up so they aren’t the greatest.  Even so, I think you can see why I am so excited about this project.gp detail b

I have been playing with these photos in Paint Shop Pro, Corel Draw, EQ6, and Autobead.  I have so many ideas and more each day.  I hope to be able to gp detail cinclude some of my alterations from the various programs here.

I already know that I have to do a quilt and a beaded piece.  At least one of each! Maybe more.

Step Two

October 13th, 2007 by Diane

step-2-long-hall.jpgI am in the process of finishing up the paper work and quilts for Step Two.  The assignment required a piece that demonstrates illusion of depth.  I had taken this photo of an exterior walkway in Charlottesville, VA.  I remember the friend who was with me thinking that I was a bit off my rocker.  She has since become used to me whipping out my ever present digital camera and running across streets to get photos for my design inspiration collection.master-space.jpg

My intention was never to replicate the walkway exactly, but for some reason I just love this photo.  It resonates with me, so I did want to retain most of that feeling in my work. I subjected the photo to numerous filters in my Paintshop Pro program.  This shows the addition of a vertical perspective filter.  It is the view I finally chose to use.

As I am working on a piece, I often don’t know at the beginning what it is I am trying to convey or why.  It was no different for this piece.

I did probably 50 or more variations of it in my Corel Draw and EQ6 programs.  I did at least 4 -5 color ways for each variation until I decided to stay as close to the original colors as possible. 

It wasn’t until I finished piecing the last of 5 small test quilts that I began to realize what this quilt is about.step2-c.jpg 

I see this as a representation of our entry into life and our exit from it.  I had opted to remove most of the detail from the side walls and unify the floor and ceiling so that they did not become too important in the quilt.  I had drawn many variations with all sorts of detail, but it was distracting me from the real purpose. 

How we enter life is pretty much well known. How we exit is also well known.  What lies between awaits our touch to add the details, but we have a general notion of how things will progress.step-2a.jpg 

The points of emphasis are the entry and exit portals, thus the name, “Portals”.

The exit is the same fabric as the entrance.  I wanted them to be tied together in that manner, even if it meant disregarding the application of atmospheric perspective to the door. 

I used an open form ( the entire object is not in the picture) for the doorframe as a device to require the viewer to participate in the completion of the picture. Where is she coming from, where is she going, what will her life be like? The viewer, to my mind, is actually an element of the picture that extends beyond the boundaries of the picture.


At one point in the process, I also tried a different approach to the direction of the lines for the floor and ceiling.  In this quilt, I used the obvious fading toward the vanishing point of linear perspective.

I was also tired of the colors with which I had been working.  So I used colors inspired by a Cleopatra Canna Lily.  The sense of depth is not as great, because there is not the gradual fading of colors in the distance that is the hallmark of atmospheric perspective. In “Portals”, I applied that concept to the walls, floor  and ceiling.

It is  less challenging than “Portals”. Sometimes that is exactly what we need: less challenge, more beauty.

More Sketchbook

October 13th, 2007 by Diane

photos-127.jpgAh, the infamous sketchbook!  At least one of many that I now have going.  This one in particular is a Moleskin with watercolor paper that can take washes.  It is not 140 lb weight paper but it does the job. 

Obviously, it is being stuffed to the gills.  The techniques I am learning in the Creative Sketchbooks class are wonderful and very textural, for the most part.  This picture shows the sketchbook up to Module 3.  I am currently working on Module 5, so it is even bigger and messier than before.photos-129.jpg

This is one page of the book.  It is an exercise with paint and bleach discharge.  My notes about the exercise are on the side. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned so far is to keep good notes.  Do not rely on memory!photos-130.jpg

This is a page using oil pastels and water color washes.  Another lesson I am learning is that I really don’t care for paints, but they are so important in working through some designs.

I have not been as consistent about working in my sketchbooks as I should.  I know that it should be a daily exercise, but with work, school, and family obligations, I often let it slide.  I know that this is to my own detriment, so I am going to try to be better about it

Champagne and Diamonds pendant

October 13th, 2007 by Diane

champagne-and-diamonds-a.jpgThe Champagne and Diamonds series continues to evolve and grow.  I have more ideas than time to get everything made.  This single drop pendant is one of my favorites.  I was able to use Peyote stitch, Ndbele, and Netting. 

 The Swarovski Rivoli’s continue to amaze me, and I have had a great response to them. Champagne and Diamonds pendant I will be making several donation pieces using them.  I know they will be a hit! 

Several members of my EGA chapter have asked me to teach this technique, so I am also in the process of developing a class. 

Now I just have to begin working on a bracelet.  I have the earrings done, at least one variation. 

When I think how bored I used to get doing the same thing over again, I have to laugh!

Thank you, JA, for pushing me to be more and better.

The Birth of a Collection

September 19th, 2007 by Diane

One common piece of advice to artists that floats to the surface periodically is “work in series”. I haven’t really done that till now. In testing new techniques and products, I haven’t ever developed a cohesive grouping either of quilts or pieces of jewelry.  Too repetitious!

Times do change, and I have honed in on what I love to do.  So a series is born. 

I have begun to develop a collection called Champagne and Diamonds.  This is a photo of the prototype on which all the pieces in the collection will be based.Champagne and Diamons prototype  Click on the photo and you will see a larger image.

Rivolis are the hot item in the beading world. Swarovski makes a wide variety of colors and a more limited number of sizes.  They are crystals which are domed front and back.  They are similar to cabochons because they do not have holes for stringing.  They must be either glued to a base or encased in beadwork.

I took some with me to the EGA seminar in Chicago and began to work with them.  The particular peyote encasement that I have used is one that I learned many years ago from a friend in my hometown beading group.  At the time, I was gluing my cabochons to ultrasuede and didn’t see the need for this technique.  I took the class anyway and filed it away in my memory banks. And now I am glad I did. 

After encasing the Rivolis, I netted around them and then attached them to each other and made a strap with a toggle clasp.  It was so beautiful that I have been continuing with it and have ideas for many, many pieces of jewelry.  I hope to have some show up in my jewelry gallery (with better photos) in time for Christmas.

I have used 24 and 22 kt gold plated beads.  The are beyond expensive but the look they give is well worth it.

pendantYesterday I made this component.  I need to have a fancy line of jewelry ready for a gallery that represents me.  The pieces are due on Monday.  I won’t have large necklaces, but I should be able to get some necklaces and earrings done using this pendant. I hung it on the gold chain shown here.  It looks wonderful.

chainHowever, I don’t want to part with my chain.  I also think that the piece would look better if the necklace is hung on a beaded chain.  It took a while but I did finally decide on a chain style.  I have included a picture of the metal chain and the beaded chain side by side.  chain and beads togetherThey are not exact but I think the beaded chain feels like the gold chain.  Although it is a bit larger, it still works with the pendant.  When it is finished, I will add that photo also.

Step One

September 16th, 2007 by Diane

I don’t think I ever worked as hard in college as I did doing step one of the Design Master Craftsman.

Using the provided bibliography as well as reading online, magazines, and newer books, I read almost 60 books before beginning my design.  Now do you have to do that?  Absolutely not!  You only need to do the work necessary to get the job done. Am I absolutely, certifiable? Probably.  But I have never had more fun researching and studying than for this program. 

Finally, I am doing only what I want and accomplishing what I want in terms of my art. In essence, I am creating the parameters for my work.  I am the developer of my own core curriculum.

Sunrise, Sunset

This quilt , “Sunrise, Sunset” (photo by Ellen Martin) was my final project for Step One which dealt with rhythm and balance. The final piece had to be an all-over pattern.

The motif was developed from a series of drawing exercises I did. The specific exercises came from Richard Box’s book, “Drawing for the Terrified.” It was a simple line drawing that caught my eye as I was reviewing my sketchbooks for ideas.

I put the drawing into EQ6, imported some fabrics, and played with a variety of settings and colorways. The motif was rotated and flipped to create a 4-motif repeat. This was then repeated across and down the quilt.  The outside borders are the motif elongated and flipped.

For the final colors, I chose a piece of fabric I have had for ages.  It has a black background with red-violet and blue-violet designs that are outlined in gold. This became the basis for the quilt’s colors,  and I was even able to use this focal fabric in the quilt.  That doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes the fabric is the inspiration for a color palette but never makes it into the piece.

sunrise-sunset-detail-_2.jpgThis detail shows the fabrics a little better. Click on the image for a larger view.

The entire quilt, including the borders, was paper pieced using the paper piecing product from EQ6.  I taped the multiple pages together using that pink hair tape some of us remember from way back when!  It is gummy and can be a pain, but it holds nicely if placed on both sides.  To avoid gumming up my sewing machine needle, I removed the tape as I reached it.

I debated removing the paper piecing papers, but, in the end, I left them in.  There is a tremendous amount of bias in this quilt, and I didn’t want to risk distorting the top hopelessly. The draw back to that is that when piecing the blocks together there is quite a bit of bulk at the points where they meet.  This is especially true at the corners, but also at any place along the edge where seams must be matched.  The matches are not quite as crisp as I would like. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome.

 My required essay was on visual unity.

I have passed with distinction!  And I am now on to step two. 


Creative Sketchbooks

September 16th, 2007 by Diane

For a year or so I have been hearing about Cities and Guilds courses. Most of the classes I had heard about were Embroidery classes.  While I love embroidery, my two great passions are quilts and beads.  So after doing a bit of investigation, I decided a Cities and Guilds class was just not for me.

 Then about 6 months ago, a friend, who was looking into Cities and Guilds in relationship to beading, sent me information on Linda Kemshall’s site, DesignMatters.  While there is no beading class at DesignMatters, there are definitely quilting classes.  They are very attractive, but being well into working toward my Master Craftsman in Design through EGA, Inc., I was more interested in classes that relate to design.

There is a course at DesignMatters called Creative Sketchbooks. And what is it about? Design. There is also a computer design class.

So along with my Master Craftsman in Design, I am also now well into Creative Sketchbooks.  And I am loving it! It has opened a whole new way for me to approach design.

Now sketchbooks are not new, but not having been trained as an artist, I didn’t have a full grasp of the concept of sketchbooks.  I had bought a few and used them from time to time to make sketches and write down ideas, especially for my jewelry.

After only three modules (this is a ten module course), I now carry my camera with me eveywhere and keep several sketchbooks going that I use almost every day. I develop designs much faster and am about bursting at the seams with ideas.  


The Master Craftsman Program

September 16th, 2007 by Diane

The Master Craftsman program is offered through The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Inc.  It includes a wide variety of the needlearts, including a module on Design and one on Color.

 It took me a while and some convincing (thank you, Carole Lake!) before I decided to commit to the Design module.

 Pursuit of a Master Craftsman in Design requires a minimum commitment of 3 years. The program is divided into 6 steps.  Each step covers a different aspect of design.  Evaluations are done twice a year in May and November.  

There are three components to each step.  They are: an essay based on specific aspects of design, a design that meets specific criteria, and documentation of the design process.

What I particularly enjoy about this program is that you are given the problems and time frame within which to complete the work.  How you study, what texts you use, what additional classes you take, are all up to you.  As long as you can document the appropriateness of your approach and the actual work, you are free to structure the program to your own abilities and skills. The techniques you use are also up to you as long as they are some form of needlework.

The Journey

August 10th, 2007 by Diane


As an artist, I am excited to be able to share my works in progress. I see this blog as a way of documenting my artistic journey. I would hope that I will also be documenting my own growth as an artist.p> I know that, for myself, the most interesting blogs are those that detail the journey to the completed work. I find the journey more interesting than the finished piece. Work that has been completed serves as a milepost along the way. My intention is that this blog should act as a personal journal, and as such, a tool in the creation of my work. If along the way others find it interesting, so much the better. I know that I have gained a lot from the work and insights of others. Diane  

 “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

Menu ImageMenu ImageMenu ImageMenu ImageMenu ImageMenu Image