New ideas for quilting and mixed media art

Book review of: Cut, Shape, Stitch

If you've ever lamented that you "can't cut a straight line," the availability of rotary cutters, punches, and die-cutting machines is heaven-sent. Our fancy edges are no longer limited to what we can do with pinking shears. Intricate shapes, decorative letters, and fancy borders can be made with the touch of a button/punch/lever/computer. Whether working in paper, metal or fabric, you expand your creative options with shape-creating machines.

After you've created fun shapes, what do you do with them? A new book aims to inspire you with mixed media ideas. "Cut, Shape, Stitch: Working Creatively With Cutting Machines" by Maggie Grey, Samantha Packer, and Paula Watkins has just been published by 4Daisy Books Ltd (ISBN 978-0-9574413-2-3). We've worked with Sam and Paula on models for our tradeshow booths and love how they think in layers, combining techniques with colors, shapes and mediums to create gorgeous designs. See some of Sam's quilts in this article: http://www.mrxstitch.com/bring-light/.

If you were lucky enough to have art class in school, you may remember the things you got to play with: shrink plastic, paste, yarn, paints, ribbons, tissue, foil. The authors take those elements and more to help you make grown-up, mixed-media, textile art with your cut shapes.

"Who can cut the perfect circle, or cut a series of words for a textural piece, without feeling some disappointment in the end product?"  says Sam, putting words to our own frowns when we get a jagged edge or crooked line. She points out that cutting machines also cut your time and labor in half, and there's no shame in this short cut. "Having your shapes ready-cut does not signify a lack of imagination," she adds, "it merely gives you more time and patience to use them to create something wonderful."

The book has chapters on Simple Cutting Ideas, Creative Die Cutting, Digital Cutting, and Negative Shapes, which show you how to combine cutters with mixed media techniques and stitching We are talking about embroidered quilts, handmade books, embellished jewelry, wired motifs, "carved" sculptures, and three-dimensional work. The decorative threads running through them include Kreinik's beautiful metallic braids, ribbons, machine sewing threads, and Flash In a Tube.

Don't be intimidated by the seemingly elaborate samples in the book. Start where you are, with whatever die cutting machine or punch you have access to right now—even if it's a simple hole punch from your office drawer. When Paula started, "I had only one die, a flower, but every time I used it with a different fabric or material, it opened more possibilities for use with textiles and mixed media work."

The availability of ready-cut shapes and cutting machines has made life easier for quilters, paper crafters, and other artists. Once you start combining shapes with art materials, fabrics, threads and stitches, you may find a whole new level of self-expression and passion.

For more information on the book "Cut, Shape, Stitch," visit http://www.d4daisy.com/.
For more information on Kreinik threads, visit www.kreinik.com.

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