RA: Or what if?

Rhonda 19

I had to just get a little “loosey goosey” this morning after drawing all these spirals. I’m almost embarrassed to share the following with you, but I know you’ll be kind. These are rough at best, but in rotating some of my kites the other day I ended up with what looked to me like a whale’s tail (or was it a set of ram’s horns), anyway, it started me thinking about waves and the way some of your spirals can curl up and under one another. The coloring is just for me to see the different spokes and if/how they would spin out onto a background…maybe it’s best to use just one spiral and really play it into a background…multiples could be fun time permitting. In the latter, I would have to be brave enough to cut apart the spirals in order to merge them, however…maybe less spokes. Because they resemble waves, I might be less inclined to color them that way…

I made copies of the photo and pasted a few together just to see what effect it might have…I need a respite, so off to the garden where I’ll spin around some more ideas and wait for your ever encouraging and enlightening words 🙂

Also, please feel free to steer me in a direction if you still have bases to cover to show your techniques, as for now I am just enjoying the ride as it has really been a learning experience spiraling away. I know we’ll come up with a refined design soon, I just got a late start after my travels and beach week, patience pays off.

Hope you’re having a great day! Rhonda

RA 6/29/07: So here we go again…I played for a bit more by this afternoon. I combined two petals from the Dresden plate to create another shaped polygon just to see what happens.

Rhonda 6-30-01

I have lots of thoughts running around in my feeble brain as I look at the two Mandallas, but I’ll wait for your reaction. (Note the “whale’s tail”)

rhonda whale

One thought I did have that I I will share, is to continue the lines out from the blades which would create another polygon to spiral in using a different spiral enlarging the piece a bit…but maybe I’m getting ahead of being realistic for the first go around…I would essentially be connecting the blades with a larger version of the small triangles you see now (added after I pinned the pieces together thinking their needed to be some connection between blades) Enough, I said I would wait for your comments. If you want me to keep it simple to show off the possibilities for your book, I can scale back to where I started…I guess I’m an explorer and don’t want to “settle”.

RA: Do you have any advice on which side of a polygon you would choose to vary your spirals? Is it just trial and error to see how it will work ( a lot of work when doing it by hand). Maybe you’ve developed a keen sense for making a decision you could share with us.

RM: Rhonda, these are gorgeous! To answer your question about “positioning” your spiral, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Narrow sides will produce narrow spokes and wide sides, wider spokes.

Also, wider increments will push away the center of the spiral and narrower increments will pull it closer — this way you can sort of guess about where the center of the spiral will end up.

Unfortunately, drawing by hand, you’re sort of limited to guessing, at least until you develop a feel for it. If you can draw a “standard” shape in Photoshop and then maniuplate it, the process goes MUCH faster.

By the way, it appears that you have used increments of about 1/2″ — this is going to give you MANY MANY pieces to sew! I think you’ll get just as nice a result with about a 1″ increment — in half the sewing time.

RA 7/2/07: Hi RaNae, Just wondering if you think tweaking either of these two views to move forward with are what you’d like to see.

Rhonda 7-2-1

I sewed a few practice spirals yesterday and the number of pieces looks intimidating on a small scale, but I envision blowing the blades up to create a larger medallion than pictured here. I am intrigued by all of them and will happily piece as simple or not as you’d like. Also, if you prefer that I piece one of your Mandalas for the book, I’ m happy to spend the time sewing your vision…just let me know. I’m happy to scale back to the original for simplicity if your needs assessment warrants it…

PS I heard from Susanne and Sandra…hoping we get in a little visit while on my layover this week. Don’t you just love the whole idea of the world being a small place, who would have guessed this project would bridge the ocean.

RM: Rhonda, I think either of these two would be gorgeous — I think I’m leaning somewhat toward the one on the right — there’s something really neat about that flame/ribbon circling around. You should have fun coloring them — you’ll be able to make them appear to weave in and out. I see that you reduced the number of triangles in each spoke — a good idea. I was going to mention this to you, as it looked like the ones you did last week used an increment of 1/2″, while an increment of around 1″ would probably give you as nice an effect with much less sewing and fewer headaches trying to graduate that many steps of color! Thanks for offering to piece one of my mandalas, but you are on the same track, and your results will be beautiful.

I’m so glad you were able to connect with Sandra and Susanne — what a nice “dividend” from this project! 🙂

RA 7-2-07: I’m hitting a snag that I hope you can see the obvious in as I think I’m working too closely with my fan blades.

When three go blades come together, common sense tells me (and the pattern, too) that I should have a 90 degree angle…I’m coming up short along the one edge closest to the center (see the attached photo where I tried to highlight the differences by drawing a 90 degree angle in red and my blades in black) The center point is on 45 degree angle…I want to avoid a logistical piecing nightmare after the wedges are pieced and I know if I continue around, it’s going to give me a lumpy Dresden when I go to appliquéé it in place. Still drafting by hand as much as I’m trying to learn EQ-6 (Thanks Scowlcat for all your patience) and I don’t know Photoshop which you mentioned in an earlier response. Suggestions before I move forward would be greatly appreciated. You can probably see that I divided the blade and placed a pinwheel spiral on top of the nesting spiral. Also, do you want to see more variance in the spirals? I’m liking the flow, but wonder if it’s “too predictable”?

RA 7-10-07: Hi RaNae…you’ve posted so much “eye candy” today that I can hardly take it all in. Wow, is about the most my jet lagged stupor will allow. You have chosen some amazingly talented quilters to work on your technique [RM: You among them, Rhonda!], and have surely stretched many of us beyond our comfort zones.

Rhonda’s fabrics

I spent some time with color pencil during my last two trips and the colors, although not as intense as the fabrics I hope to use, will hopefully give you an idea of where I am headed…now I’m looking for your valuable feedback.

One photo shows the Dresden plate drawing sans it’s middle in black and white,

rhonda BW
the 1/2 circle shows the gradation from blade to blade,

Rhonda half

and the full round shows what I hope to achieve in the full plate (with some color tweaking, of course).

Rhonda full

When I look at the design, I see three elements. One is the center “trunks”, second is the clam shells, and the last one that appears is a ribbon going in the opposing direction. I guess I’m looking for your immediate reaction, and then here are a couple of my thoughts.

If I were to use a different colorway in the clamshells they would really stand out but disrupt the fan blade top spiral, but when I look at the flow I pause to wonder if using the same color way makes it more effective overall.

Secondly, I am contemplating changing the color flow of the “ribbon” to run opposite of the blade colors, ie…where the blade is mostly green the two sections of the ribbon spiral would be blue as in the darker fan blades and in the bluer blades, green ribbons would run through it. Will I lose the spiral? (I planned to use a gradual gradation in each spoke of the spiral in the pinwheel spirals in the blade tops.)

Before I spend any more time working by hand, I need to know if I’m heading in a direction you like. I’m not sure my spirals are as obvious as some of those in the other quilt designs presented. Keep going or stop and adjust? How large do you envision this…I’m still thinking of making it a medallion quilt, but would like your feedback to size and the “what next”.

Thanks so much….Rhonda

PS I have added some more darks to my collection of fabrics shown here and alleviated a few in between.

RM: Rhonda — my initial reaction is: you deserve your own “WOW!” today! You really take the prize for intricate colorwork!

I get the feeling from your questions that you want to define the elements of the design a bit more, while still keeping the feeling of integration among them.
Here are the things that catch my eye and cross my mind — use or discard as you feel appropriate:

What I immediately notice is that the overall design looks heavily “yellow” on one side and heavily “pink” on the other. Having the ribbon the same color as the blades contributes to this division. Would rotating the colors in the ribbon 180 degrees to place the yellow ribbon on the pink side of the blades make sense? (An easy way to test this might be just to cut the ribbon sections away and spin it, rather than re-color the whole design….)

Another kind of “balancing” idea that comes to mind is to vary the color on the inside tips of the clamshells (fans) so that they begin (on the inside tip) as pink on the side where the blades are yellow and begin as yellow on the side where the blades are pink. I have a hunch this would look particularly nice with the ribbon rotated as discussed above, as the fans would sort of emphasize the color shift in the ribbon.

I wonder how it would look if you were to take the blue out of the clamshells/fans altogether and just graduate from pinks to yellows (in different orders, depending on the placement around the central blades).* Since you’ve colored the ribbons from blue to either yellow or pink, depending on where they are placed, I think that even though this would make the ribbon less “integrated” it would also show it off a bit more. (*Or perhaps shift just to a pale blue in the center between the pink and the yellow to keep the clamshell tied into the blue and define the pinks and yellows, but without taking them fully into the blue spectrum.)

I don’t see any pinks in the fabrics that you’ve chosen so far, but they are in your pencil colors…..

Look at your colors through squinted eyes — do the two blues furthest to the left look darker than the three to their right? Perhaps you’ve placed them in this order because of blending with the green (which, by the way, appears very little in your colored sketch), but if that’s the case, perhaps the blue that has large patches of green should move to the left? Also, don’t be afraid to add in a couple more darker colors – you may need darker yellows and pinks as well as blues/purples.

You might want to do a mock-up of at least one wedge to test colors before you actually dive in and sew everything.

As for “what next?” the other thought that comes to mind is that now is when you should begin considering what happens OUTSIDE the spiral. As I looked at one of your sketches on my screen, the outside edges of the pentagons seemed to disappear, and it occured to me that you could color-grade your way right OUT of the spirals into a dark background, so it would appear that the mandala is materializing out of nothing. If anyone in this group could achieve that effect, you can!

Your design and coloring are REALLY good as they are, but it seems from your questioning that you are looking for that “just a little more” that tips a design over the edge from good to great. Try some of these ideas and let me know if they help you to achieve that.

RA 7-13-07: First off you’ll see that I intend the blades (see the tips) to change color as they go clockwise around the plate through my gradation from light to dark until you get to blade 7 and then the flow changes from dark to light. (I think my darkest dark is too dark and so I’m thinking of saving it for use in the background. Instead I would reverse with color number 11 on blade 8.) Having said that, do you think that what will become my darkest blade needs to move around next to the lightest one to balance the plate? Or should I keep going as is “with the flow” as I have here. I do hope you’re able to see what it is I am asking. (I’m trusting in your clairvoyant skills) I’m using 12 fabrics so after blade number 7, I reverse and go from dark to light inwards instead of light to dark as on the lightest sides.

Rhonda mock-up A

RM: Rhonda, what strikes me about your blades is not so much the “hourly” placement of light and dark, but the light and dark within the blades themselves. Wherever one blade is adjacent to the next you should have a clear dark/light delineation. Instead, yellows are mushing into yellow, greens into greens and blues into blues so that the blades of the central fan lack definition.

You ask, with respect to a different part of the design: “I am wondering if I will lose the effect of your spiral if I have two spokes next to one another in the pinwheel colored the same?”Actually, that is essentially what is happening at the center of the design.

I believe the remedy for this would be to graduate the entire blade from light to dark, not dark to light to dark as you show here. This will have the effect of making the blades look as though they are overlapping, though it is likely to spread the color more evenly through the blades. With a few more fabrics (or careful fussy-cutting) you could probably still work the color side-to-side as you are suggesting in your drawings. Perhaps this would be the way to work another light color into the design — gradually substitute pink for yellow and back to pink as you work around the circle.

In regard to the circular gradation, it might be helpful to think of your design in four sections: 9:00 to 12:00 light (or yellow), 12:00 to 3:00 medium (or yellow shifting to pink), 3:00 to 6:00 dark (or pink), 6:00 to 9:00 medium (or pink shifting to yellow). This way you won’t accidentally find yourself running out of space to blend and having the dark (or pink) section shift abruptly to light (or yellow) again as the 8:00 to 9:00 segment in your drawing suggests.

RA: As an aside, I like how the ribbon changes to be the opposite gradation as we talked about in our previous exchanges evening out the light to dark halves of the plate. (see the darker blades where I’ve added snippets in the ribbon sections)

RM: It seems we are suffering from a difference in word defintion: in my previous notes about changing the balance of the yellow and pink, I meant to change the orientation of the outer ring of color, not what you seem to be calling the ribbon. You still have the yellow on the yellow side and the blue on the blue side, and this arrangement still seems somewhat unbalanced to me.

Also with regard to the outer rings: If I understand correctly your question “Will I lose the effect of the spiral if I have two spokes next to one another in the pinwheel colored the same? (see the two spokes above the ribbon sections of each blade…as they appear here they are colored/gradated the same and seem to sort of wrap in on one another which I like)” it is this outer ring that you are referring to. In this instance I think it is fine to give two spokes the same coloring because this creates a nice border on both outer faces of the pentagon and, as you point out, they do wrap in one another to nice effect.

RA: So now the question arises as to whether this ¡s “too electric¨ if I continue to use the same colors throughout the design as originally planned or do I introduce another color for the clamshells to give the eyes somewhere else to go? (Maybe it’s this collection of pinks, or not. Perhaps a darker set, or should I look for something paler and stay in the color family I have going? I don’t know how successful I’ll be at that…Chartreuse usually only comes in Chartreuse.)

Rhonda all fabrics a

Suggestions on gradations if I do use the same fabrics? In my pencil colored pencil drawing, I used the entire gradation for each clamshell for consistency?

RM: I think introducing the pink/purples is a great idea — that way the pinks give you another light to blend to and the purples blend beautifully into the blues. And if you do go the way of blending the whole blade from light to dark, it will give you another color to contrast the point of the clamshell where it touches the central blades. The idea of a contrasting blend on the clamshell and/or the ribbon is a good one, and I think you should explore it. I think your idea to keep at least one element consistent (either the clamshell or the ribbon) consistent all the way around is a good one, as it gives the eyes an anchor or reference point from which to see all the other wonderful shifting going on around it.

Rhonda, you’ve taken on a big challenge with the coloring here, but you clearly are up to the challenge and you’re almost there. The first thing to do is go back and explore the whole-blade gradation that I discussed at the beginning and see how that change dictates other areas of the design.

RA 7-15-07: I moved a couple of the “snippets” in the twist formed by where the two nested spirals meet…is this where you refer to gradating the entire blade from dark to light? Sorry about the rough form in the photo, these snippets don’t stand up to a whole lot of handling 🙂 I can see the delineation between the fan blades now…is this what we’re after?

Rhonda whole blades A

RM: Yep, that’s it!  Be sure to keep the longest triangles in the center of the trunk dark enough to contrast against the lighter triangles that hit up agains them.  The best example in this photo is the long green triangle straight up in the 12:00 position.

RM 7-24-07:  Rhonda, I got your email about meeting Linda while looking for fabrics — the quilting world is, indeed quite small, isn’t it!  I’m glad she could help.  Keep in mind, also, that in order to blend from one color to another, you can use fabrics with a mix of the colors — so, for example, you could use a yellow/pink print or a pink/purple print to smooth out a blend if you want to.  Part of the fun of coloring is deciding where to use hard contrasts to separate sections and where to mix colors to blend sections

RA 8-2-07:  I took a leap (perhaps a bigger one than anticipated) after the weekend at the beach and dove into sewing yesterday at long last…I continued to play with my colored pencils while in Rome and Zurich last week and for an additional 4 days over the weekend at the beach. I discovered so many variations/possibilities within my design…it never stops, but if I’m going to produce something for you, I needed to put thread to fabric. So here goes… I had this piece of fabric from Kaffe’s latest collection sitting out on the table and the colors have been just calling out to me since I bought it. I can always go back to my original selection, but this is more me 🙂 I shared my progress with Kathy E last night and she cut and pasted from my photo the options below (in the small photos)…she’s amazing. Before I make any more parts and pieces of the Dresden (and that’s what you’re looking at in my photos) I wanted to run them by you. Again, remember these are parts and pieces and not sewn together.

Rhonda 123

Rhonda mock-up 1a

Rhonda mock-up 2

Rhonda mock-up 3

Rhonda sketch

Rhonda circles fabric

I think in the one that alternates with the brown and reds with the lightest melon along the edge defines each of the 12 fan blades from the original block…look forward to hearing from you (soon) so I can keep going as my time at the machine will be limited after the weekend. And now this opens up new doors for border or background. I’m ceratinly up to/ready for any suggestions…I’ll need time to work on those, too.

RM:  Rhonda, these colors are beautiful and any of these arrangements would work fine.  As we discussed, I would look at the flow of the purple and green “ribbons” from one pentagon to the next, perhaps coloring them so that there isn’t a hard line between dark and light right in the middle of the ribbon (which is a trunk-type flow connection that you might prefer smoother).  As it is now, this line helps to clearly define the edges of the “blades” of the Dresden plate.  Which way you do it is a judgment call for you — whether you want to blend the edge or whether you want to keep the definition clear.  Either way is nice.


15 Responses to “Rhonda Adams 2”

  1. RaNae Says:

    Rhonda: (from mandalas page) These are amazing! The Dresden Plate is where I originally started with my design process, who would have guessed this is where I would end up. It’s true what they say, trust your instinct. One of my doodles actually resembles one of yours, just not with off centered spirals…yours is much more effective! I didn’t have the time to make copies and play…wish I had, but I didn’t know if this was a direction you would like to go! Wow! Wow! Wow! That’s why you’re our fearless leader! I may have to play around with the design some more…shall I go here?
    RM: Yes, Rhonda, go with your instinct and explore the mandalas….

  2. scowlkat Says:

    Rhonda, these are great. Makes me want to grab my beach blanket and sunglasses and head to the beach!!!

  3. yogib2 Says:

    Good Morning Spiros…

    I thought the following might be helpful to those of you, who like me, may be drafting your design by hand without the use of EQ-6 or other graphics programs or may want to enlarge the block you’ve drawn using one of them to make a full size pattern from which to use as a master guide.

    As I continue to twist and tweak my design using the traditional Dresden Fan Blade pattern as my base, I have made numerous trips to my local copy store to enlarge, mirror and copy them to play with on the design wall. I stumbled on something of a formula that might help you gauge your pattern size if you are choosing to enlarge your blocks or design as well.

    I don’t profess that it is a 100% accurate, but it may help take some of the guess work out of enlarging your blocks and “help save a tree”. Aside from all the new friendships I’ve formed with the guys at the copy store, I have also amassed quite a stack of paper in trying to guess at the size and the effect of rotating my pieces.

    If the size of your block is 6” and you want it 9” – enlarge 150%, 12” – enlarge it 200%
    15” – enlarge it 250%
    18” – enlarge it 300%

    If the size of your block is 12” and you want it 6” -reduce it 50%
    9” –reduce it 75%
    15” – enlarge it 125%
    18” – enlarge it 150%

    Spiral On, Rhonda

  4. RaNae Says:

    RA: RaNae…I lay awake last night trying to figure out the best plan for getting perfect Dresden blades. Perhaps the “copying” shortcut will not work as they shift just the slightest and when multiplied by 12 the excess becomes nearly a 1/4 inch or more. Do you recommend drawing each blade individually, or do you have a secret recipe for success?

    Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback and also allowing me the time to mentally work through the process. It is truly a process 🙂

  5. RaNae Says:

    Rhonda, here’s a beautiful thing to remember: If it fits on paper, it will fit in cloth. Here’s how to apply that principle:

    Lay your twelve copied blades on a sheet of paper (tape together several sheets if you need to) that fills in the gaps between the blades. Now take your straight edge and re-draw the line where you want it so that both blades meet in the middle of the space between them. Cross out the old line. Sew on the new line. It fits on paper. It will fit in cloth.

    I WOULD suggest numbering the blades once you’ve laid them out this way, so that they go back together in the same order that you re-drew them — this will prevent any more “wiggles” from slipping in.

  6. yogib2 Says:

    Well said…I knew you would have the answer!

    I’ll use your technique to fit the blades together properly…how simply stated. One would think that they would go back together as they are taken apart, but I guess the smallest smidgen off in cutting them and pasting adds up to a whole lot more. Whew! I feel like I can exhale a bit for now.

    For the next several days while I’m traveling, I’ll work on color and play with the interaction of the spirals and when I return next week, I’ll work on getting the final draft of the baldes on paper and hopefully be ready to sew soon there after.

    Thanks RaNae.

    Happy Fourth of July to all.


    PS I think Kahty E and I worked through the construction of a Pinwheel this afternoon…it all makes sense now.

  7. juliewillis Says:

    The blue/yellow is really pretty, but the loosey-goosey rocks!

  8. scowlkat Says:

    Rhonda, this is going to be spectacular! So glad you have found some time to work on it during your busy schedule! As the commercial said, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” (Are you old enough to remember the commercial – I’m betting not!)

  9. yogib2 Says:

    Hee, hee. You’re a real prize Debra 🙂

    By the way, when do we get to see a preview of those hearts? Trust you’re feeling better. It’s great to have you back in touch on the blog. We’ve missed you.


  10. xena1 Says:

    hee ronda,
    Thank you for the message in german.
    Yours cloth are wonderfull. I`m looking forward to seeing you again.
    Have at nice day. Susanne

  11. yogib2 Says:

    Good morning. Thanks so much for your feedback…When I shared my coloration with Kathy E yesterday we discussed some options similar to your suggestions, but you made it much easier to grasp. I will indeed spin the colors and see what happens.

    My gradation in colored pencil is not representative of the colors I’ve chosen…the pink areas in my coloration lend themselves in my stack to more of a blue/purple gradation, lights to dark from the yellow green.

    Your observation regarding the blues in my stack was more obvious to me on the computer screen than lying on the table. I did however recognize the need for some darker darks and added those. Now it calls for a little more tweaking in the middle. You’re eye is sooo keen.

    I’m back to the drawing board, literally. I plan to finalize my draft today and copy it for templates to use for each blade. I will sew a blade to test the colors before I dive in.

    I’ll be thinking about the background in the meantime and try to come up with a way to spiral it out as you mentioned. Hmmmm. I had chosen a dark background already as a possibility when I was selecting colors, but may have to go darker now that I have added some more darks to the end of my color spectrum…I liked how the dark colors I selected for the darker blade tips sort of disappeared against the background during audition.

    Thanks again RaNae. Have a great day…I hope it s rewarding as yesterday 🙂

  12. yogib2 Says:

    Indeed, I am feeling a bit challenged this afternoon and thankful for your feedback before I dive into the sewing…having a road map will make that process a whole lot easier (I think). Thanks for having the confidence in me to “get there”.

    Let me take some time to digest your comments and see if I can get on the same wave as you. We seem to be talking about different parts of the design or referring to the same ones by different names 🙂

    When you refer to the entire blade are you talking about the twist that formed when I placed two nested spirals together, or the original shape of the blade of which 12 make up the Dresden Block?

    Sorry about the last minute clarification…Rhonda

  13. RaNae Says:

    Rhonda, I’m calling the blade the center sections inside the clamshell. The clamshell is the sideways fan-shaped sections that circle the center. The ribbon is the just outside the clamshells and the outside edge is the two spokes colored the same way that form the edge of the design. Is that clearer?

  14. lindacooper Says:

    Wow! What pretty color choices, Rhonda! Happy sewing.

  15. purplepassion Says:

    Oh, oh, oh Rhonda!! I just Love all that you’ve done here and I think it’s all amazing. I particularly love the very first picture at the top of your page. Are you doing more with that drawing? This whole thing is so exciting and I’m glad to be along for the ride! Jamie

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