HEIDI ZIELINSKI

HEIDI ZIELINSKI - Fiber/Quilt Artist

Creating art out of fiber and stitch is my passion. In no other pursuit have I ever found the rewards and joy that I find in using textiles, thread, paint, beads, yarns, and whatever else inspires me to make an object of beauty to share with others. My work is based in the quilting tradition of three layers stitched together, but the artistry and originality of it goes far beyond the basic piecing of geometric shapes to create a bedcovering. You will see many reflections of nature in my work as I live in Montana surrounded by mountains, rivers, streams and my own garden. Color and texture inspire my work and they are my palette.

Please feel free to comment on what you see here so I can know what you would like me to post. I am always willing to share what I do, how I do it, and what inspires me. I hope you enjoy my work.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More Miniature Fiber Art

I have made quite a few of these small fiber art pieces that start out about 6"x8" (more or less) and have a tab top with rod for hanging and beads dangling at the bottom.  Sometimes I have added beads on the pieces but not always.  I have had great fun choosing fabrics and quilting these little works, and I do plan to do more.  

"Bossa Nova"

"Cha Cha"

"Harmony"

"Samba"


You might notice that I have given all of these little pieces music or dance related names.  It was fun naming all of them!  I have some of these pieces at Bailiwick on Grand in Billings, Montana and some in Missoula, Montana at The Artist's Shop.  Some will be in my "studio" space on the upcoming Artist's Along The Bitterroot (AAB) Studio Tour in June.   I am actually sharing a space at another artist's home with 3 other artists.  (More about AAB coming soon.....!)

I find that the size of these pieces allow me enough space to play with some fabric combinations and do some nice quilting and beading, but they don't take long to make and they can be priced at a good pricepoint for sales in my galleries.  Unlike the little ornaments I have made, I feel that I can put enough of my artistic style and artistry into the work to find them fulfilling and enjoyable to create. 

  


Hard Winter, Hello Spring!

February 25, 2014
I'm sure that every single blogger who loves and enjoys nature will be writing a post about the coming of Spring---and this year how particularly welcome it is!  Not to be left out, here is my pictorial review of the heavy snows of winter and the flooding of early March.

I live in the Bitterroot Valley at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Western Montana.  I look to the west at the Bitterroot Mountains and to the east at the Sapphire Mountains and down our valley runs the beautiful Bitterroot River.  I live just a couple miles from the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge which has pond, woodland, prairie, and river habitats for birds and animals.  In short, this is a beautiful place full of life and we appreciate it all every day.  That's why we live here--because it ain't for the money we can make!!

This was a particularly wintery winter with cold temps and abundant snow.  We talk here in terms of the "snowpack" because the amount of snow we get in the mountains over the winter will determine how much irrigation water there will be for the ranchers and landowners here in the valley.   When I was a kid growing up just north of here in Missoula, Montana we had many winters with lots of snow which stuck around, but in the recent decade the winters have been rather mild in comparison and that made this winter seem all the more wintery.

This is my front yard in February and as you can see we had a beautiful day when I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and snapping a few choice pics of the landscape I was enjoying out my window. 

We feed the birds year-round and this is one of our feeder stations covered with snow.  The birds didn't like all the snow on the top as they usually perch there and the snow was too deep and soft for them!

February 25, 2014

That's the Bitterroot mountains behind the feeder.

Because the ground was very frozen and we got a good rain with warmer temps, all that snow turned into a one day scary flood situation for many of us in the valley.  We live on Three Mile Creek (it runs along our back yard boundary), and it usually gets high every spring but doesn't threaten our home or property too much.  This year it was very very high on this day in early March and I could see a lake out my bedroom window that was never there before!  I watched the waters rising all day and finally called my husband and he came home early to help me worry about it!  We did go and fill some sandbags at the local fire hall and stacked them up behind our garage to hopefully prevent some flooding there. 

March 6, 2014

The waters actually stopped rising and held steady and then as the night got colder the melting subsided.  By morning it was not a lake anymore but had turned back into a creek and it has pretty much stayed that way.  

March 6, 2014
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Here is what the creek looked like the next day and what it is supposed to look like!
March 7, 2014

Ahhh, much better!  Lots of sand was deposited in the area under all those trees which is usually where our neighbor has their fire pit and enjoys summer bonfires.  That area has never flooded in the more than 12 years that we have lived here.  There's always a first time for everything!

The weather then proceeded to melt much of the heavy snow we had accumulated in a reasonably quick way, and now that Spring is here in April the creek is rushing along in its little channel, and behaving itself nicely.

I'm not sure if you can actually see with my pictures the dramatic change there was to this little bit of landscape during this flooding, but I can tell you that I was very nervous.  If the creek had risen 12 more inches I think it would have been flowing into the crawl space of our house and into our two garage areas.  That was not a comfortable feeling, and I'm glad those kinds of high waters are very uncommon.  It was a certain set of circumstances and timing that caused it to happen in the winter of 2014.

May it never come again as long as I live here!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's A Hoot - Another Strata Art Quilt

In Spring 2013 I had an article in The Quilt Life magazine about Strata Art Quilts.  These are long narrow quilts that are made up of horizontal strips of fabric.  I have made quite a few of these quilts because I enjoy the process of selecting fabric and designing the pieces, and then quilting and beading them.  I have taught a class on making them twice now and I think all of the students really enjoyed the process.  It was very fun helping them with their pieces.

Here is the most recent piece I made, which was included in a recent blog post where I showed pictures of our fiber art show where they showed a bunch of Strata quilts made by my friends and fellow art quilters.  I thought I would show you a little better image of it and some detail.  This piece is 7-1/2" x 28".  Sorry the photos are not my best!  




The piece is called "It's A Hoot" and is priced at $160.00.  

One of my favorite parts of the quilting process is choosing fabrics to put together and the Strata Art quilts are very fun to do.  The quilting and beading don't take long because the pieces are so narrow. 

Try one!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Itajime Shibori

Our fiber art group had a playday several months ago and created fabric using Itajime Shibori, which is using clamps for resist dyeing fabric.  One of our members hosted the activity in her large garage and we used plastic clips of various sizes for the "clamps".  We folded the fabric in a way that usually produced a sunburst, tie-dye sort of pattern when it was unfolded, something I'm not really fond of and find hard to use in my pieces.   But it was definitely a fun time and we were glad our friend allowed us to use all her dye and make a mess in her garage!  At the end of the session we had to take our piece home and let them sit for 24 hours before we could reveal the results.  What agony!  But the thing I love most about any type of shibori dyeing is the reveal.  Always fun to see what you get and to find something unexpectedly wonderful--as it usually is! 


So the challenge was to use my resulting fabric in an art quilt successfully (in my mind anyways!) without having it look like it came from the 60's.  I decided the best way to do that would be to cut it up in some way.  I chose to slice and add strips of fabric, slice again, add, slice, add...  Then I put borders on it and quilted it.  Here is the finished piece:



The design reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright and I think it would go nicely in a home of that style.  The fabric in the inner border is a commercial print that was in my stash.  I was looking for something to put around the center section after I finished it and this piece seemed just perfect.  I like the drama of the dark maroon fabric with the dyed shibori piece and think that it is what makes the piece appealing to my eyes.  I don't really care for the greyed tones of my dyed fabric and the dark maroon fabric and the print border fabric both bring some brightness to the piece.

I have another piece of the shibori dyed fabric which has a very strange color combination in it and it will be harder to use.  There are parts of it that are pretty good though so it may be used only in pieces instead of the whole piece as I did for the one above.  Or I could over dye it and maybe some of the unnatural bright green that is in it will get toned down.  Haven't quite decided and have moved on now, but someday I'll get back to it or find it, or parts of it, useful for something I am working on.  You never know!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fiber Art Challenges


Every year in February there is a local fiber art show called "An Affair of the HeART" showcasing the numerous fiber artists in the Bitterroot Valley and Missoula, Montana.  They always hold a challenge for any artists who wish to participate and this year's challenge related to Alice in Wonderland.  We were each given a page out of the book and a maximum size for the piece.  Other than that we were free to create our pieces however we wanted.

Challenges are a unique creative process for me.  When I make most of my pieces I work completely by inspiration from cloth or color, but when I am given specific challenge parameters I have to work off someone else's inspiration to make something---and that for me is the greatest challenge.  After a number of years of doing these challenges, I have come to the conclusion that I need to stay in my comfort zone and with the style of work that I am accustomed to doing rather than trying to do something that is very different just to meet the challenge theme or parameters.  I have not been happy with pieces I have done that aren't in my own style and they are not pieces that I am proud to show in other venues. 

My page told about when Alice drank from a bottle and grew inside a house so that her foot was out the chimney and her arm out the window.  I originally thought of a unique 3-dimensional piece that would incorporate a house with the arm and leg coming out as stuffed doll parts.  This would be intriguing and fun for the audience--but not for me!!  I don't do this type of thing in my work and after trying to think about how I would do it and not feeling good about it, I finally talked myself out of it and went another direction.


My pieces are usually simple in their construction and basic design.  Then they become more complex through the quilting and embellishing.  I decided to make a simple stamp of the bottle and use that to inspire the piece.  I drew out numerous bottle shapes and finally hit upon one I liked.  I drew it onto a piece of craft foam with a pen and then cut it out.  I "etched" some lines for details on the neck of the bottle and a tag hanging around the bottle neck using a ball-point stylus.  I glued the craft foam onto a piece of cardboard which I could hold onto for stamping.


Using black and gold fabric paints I brushed paint onto the stamp with a foam brush and then stamped onto my background piece.  That background was simply a color block pieced top with a neutral and a red piece of linen, a vertical pieced strip of mostly red prints, and a turquoise strip of some old linen-like fabric that I had once made a shirt out of way back when I did that kind of thing.


The bottle images were stamped onto the linen fabrics in a hopefully artistic way, kind of cascading down the piece.  Some of the images are from the second stamping so the paint is more faint.  This adds interest so that some of the images are more bold and others more transparent.  I loved how the texture of the craft foam stamp applied the paint to the fabric.  It was not even and smooth, and that was perfect.



After the paint dried I quilted the piece and then added quite a bit of beading, including some fringe at the bottom.  I bound the piece in black fabric with a red batik flange as a detail and then couched a black yarn around the edge between the two, which added a nice, interesting texture.


Alice's Bottle

I felt very good about the piece in its simplicity and subtle communication of the challenge inspiration.  I think the bottle image is unmistakably Alice's bottle and yet it doesn't scream "Alice In Wonderland".  I will be proud to show this piece in any of my galleries.  It won 3rd place in the Viewer's Choice voting for the challenge and I received a lovely packet of dyed fabric, dyed embroidery floss, and a fiber art book.

It was much more satisfying to create this piece that reflects my style of artistry rather than to try to fit into the parameters of a challenge and try to make something that the audience will like.  I find that the audience does like my style and I don't need to try to get fancy or complicated in order to be successful in a challenge.  Having a piece that many of the viewer's could recognize as my work is a good thing because it means I have a relatively cohesive style.  For now, I'm sticking with it!!  

See my article in the March issue of American Quilter called "Stamp and Stitch" that talks about using stamping to create a piece then using the stamped imagery to get you started with your quilting.  The piece in the article is a wholecloth painted piece, but I have done many using various border arrangements (kind of like this one) or a log cabin type surround.  Fun stuff---class is in the works for this!