Friday, 15 July 2016

Mini-Me how this came to be ...

I was 8-years old when my mother sat with me during school lunch breaks; she gave me art lessons to fill the time; this same year she taught me to sew.  At 15, I was sewing my own clothing and hemming jeans for the cute neighbor boy.  Throughout high school I was a rising artist.  In university, I dabbled in the visual arts.  Yet, it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that the two, art & sewing could be joined. Once I realized that the technique of quilting could be used to express my inner feelings; I never looked back.  I now create art quilts as an extension of my emotions and passion for life. 

Inspired by playfulness I use quilting to awaken the memory of special moments in my life.  My subject matter reflects the way I see the world; passionate, energetic and unique.

I constantly seek new environments which allow me freedom to explore, and continually expose me to stimulus, as well as offer me time to reflect and be inspired. The art of quilting enabled me to express my ideas and utilize all facets of my artistic ability.

This is the first thing I had ever sewn. I created her over 45 years ago and my mom still has this sweet little relic


A legend had been passed to me with undocumented stats that my Great-Grandmother, Mary (Gajewski) Dotski had created a handmade quilt for each of her ###  grandchildren & a crocheted afghan & pillow set for each of the great-grandchildren. Rough estimate would be well over 50 and likely many, many more.  Anyhow,  I still have the the set I was given.  Although I wish I still had one of the thousand of crocheted chickens,I often think of the mini-crocheted masterpieces she along with my maternal grandparents made in the early to mid 70's.  When I was a little girl these little treasures protected our Easter eggs at the annual Easter basket blessings. 

I always felt that items such as paintings, quilts, afghans, simply stated anything created by hand is a legacy we leave to future generations. I want to create legacies. 

My maternal grandmother, Virginia Friedel, & paternal grandmother, Olga Michonski, were an inspiration to this very young seamstress.

I was awe inspired by Grandma "M's" sewing room and cutting table (aka Pool Table).  She showed my how to use patterns and that amazing little roller thingy that cut holes in carbon paper to mark tucks, darts and button holes, the hem measuring tool, pinking sheers and that "magical" button box. It was all very exciting to me, young "dawnche".(This is what both she and my grandfather called me.)

Grandma Friedel was the queen of Raggedy Ann and Andy.  The legend of Grandma Friedel is etched into my brain as such: throughout her lifetime and using her faithful Elna sewing machine; she made over 200 sets of rag dolls. Who am I to doubt it?

My set of dolls still watch over every move I make in my sewing room.  Grandma was meticulous in her stitching.  Hems were invisible and seams were perfect.  I still don't know how she did it but she barely needed an iron to flatten a wrinkled shirt. My most precious gift from her was that she did all the alterations to my wedding dress.

While I am sharing all these little secrets; I need to mention one other person.  Just so you know, anything and everything I do in my sewing room is the result of some type of angelic interaction. I don't know how I ended up being the keeper of my great Aunt Phoebe's last portrait, but I am,

At the young age of 19, she was tragically killed by a street car in Detroit, Michigan (truth or legend; this is the way I recall the story) Anyhow, my Great-Aunt Phoebe Niedjelski watches every move I make in my sewing room.

She is always present.  

She Brings Them Water

Living on a farm I truly understand the value of water.  Although modern conveniences are at hand; my  family and I still rely on water from a well 1/4 mile from home.  Water safety is our responsibility.  Water well maintenance is our responsibility.  Anything that is good or bad about the water system is our responsibility.  Several times the system has failed and my household was left at a standstill sometimes for hours sometimes for weeks.  Although most were minor inconveniences; one can only imagine the agony and struggle that must occur each and every day when these conveniences are absent.

I was drawn to Water is Life Challenge to help promote the necessity for modern sources of water in the most remote regions of the world.  Water is precious everywhere around the world and Canada is not excluded.  Many remote reserves have been without fresh running water for years.  I hope this exhibit will encourage leaders around the world to monitor usage and provide access to all citizens.    

I carefully assembled this piece from thousands of tiny snippets of colored cotton fabric to achieve the results I hoped for.   Piece-by-piece I assembled my quilt.  Much like the women who gather water for their families, step-by-step she gathers water for her family.  During her daily journey for water, women in remote, drought-affected area of the world are confronted by treacherous and time-consuming obstacles.  The average distance women and children walk for water daily in Africa and Asia is six kilometers (3.7 miles).

Every drop of water makes a huge impact on her life.  Every day she brings them water.

"She Brings Them Water" is currently travelling with Quilt For Change: Water is Life Exhibit

What was I thinking?  These little pieces were everywhere and the process was very time consuming.  My fingers cramped up on me many times.  It took a lot longer than I had expected to fill in the background.  

I used a Sulky product called Sticky+.  It was perfect for the job.  

This is the point that I loved the piece the most. The texture was awesome.  However, there was no way that the pieces would stay put for the long term; no way this was going to travel the globe. So I decided that the best solution would be to cover it with a fine tulle.  The result made me happy. 

In mid-June, I received notice that "She Brings Them Water" was featured in the July/August 2016 Issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited Magazine.  Needless to say I was over the moon with excitement.  

Creating "She Reclaims Her Voice"

The concept of this quilt started shortly after I came across a Canadian Folklore Book titled "Canadian Wonder Tales, Macmillan, Cyrus (1880-1953).  The image "The Chief had a Beautiful Daughter" by George Sheringham inspired me.

As time went on I realized that this little quilt can have a voice of her own. 

So, with the help and guidance of friends the design developed ... 

The quilt was designed using a photograph provided to me by my dear friend, Nikki L. In hopes of developing awareness I created her in honour of the many missing and murdered aboriginal woman all across Canada.  

Canadian women bring life to families and communities across the vast country. My quilt represents the gifts, powers and knowledge she possesses. All women deserve a fair chance for a life free of violence, poverty and stereotypes that may limit her potential. Through awareness and education we must ensure that she has access to justice without discrimination; 

She shall live in the midst of splendour.

The sky is filled with the Aurora Borealis, the magical Northern lights we are so lucky to bare witness to.  At her feet she is surrounded by cattails and dragonflies  Cattails represent peace and bestows a wish of prosperity.  She holds in her hand a bunch of sage which spiritually evokes immortality, longevity, wisdom, protection & wishes.  The dragonfly symbol carries wisdom of transformation and adaptability in life.

Enjoy the following photos illustrating the creation of "She Reclaims Her Voice"  

This is the original photo.  Face has been blurred for her privacy.  




Monday, 6 April 2015

More quilts by Dawn Piasta

Zora, Waterhen Mermaid

Close up of Zora
Zora's fin

Zora's torso


Waterhen's Special

An experiment with bleach discharge, acrylic paint and free motion quilting.  The main image is a star anise outline.  Star anise is one of the spices used in Chai Tea, I read a blog by Cindy Ryan of the Dirty Wall project that inspired me.  I wish I had made the image more symmetrical, the final result was not entirely pleasing to me.  I rushed the deadline and realized that I will not do that again.  Up close the stitching is really beautiful, however far away I feel that it is less than impressive.  I may do the technique again but will take more time planning out and balancing the design within the frame. 


This is my "Ode to Garlic" ; As part of our 2013 Crocus Quilt guild annual challenge the three fabrics inspired me to create garlic themed piece.  I thought it was funny to create a tribute to garlic and incorporate Swarovski jewels and raw silk into the design.  I may eventually add more crystals to the piece.

This is Halla; she change my quilting destiny.  She taught me that I have what it takes to make beautiful art. Because of her I was able to show my quilts at some of the premier quilt shows.  I am honoured to have been part of the Quilt For Change quilt challenges.  The friendship I forged with Allison Wilbur and her family made a huge impact on my quilt life.

Once again, this piece is the result of another Crocus challenge quilt.  
I did not like this fabric and had a hard time connecting inspiration to a finished product. Along with the fabric i was given three quilting words that i had to incorporate into the quilt. I think the words were Pieced, embellishments, raw edge.

I ripped the fabric into strips, leaving the "raw edges" then i "pieced" the strips by weaving them with other matching fabrics.  I finally embellished the quilt with buttons and silk flowers to make a rustic yet modern wall hanging.  

Now i had a blast with this piece.  I started with a photo of a Walleye fish, simplified it into line art and made a template.  Using bit and scraps i applied the pieces together.  I used natural and neon colors/ the top stitching was fun and lively.  The quilt hangs from fishing line attached to an antique fishing rod/reel at our cabin.

Pattern by Heather Lair Design. Workshop in Dauphin, Manitoba.

Ricky Timms convergence, workshop.  Chinese symbol was supposed to translate as "love"

After the fires at Yellowstone National Park in 2006.  
Jackson Hole trip with Tom, Chris & I.

"Our Bird"; inspired by a photo taken by Ryan Askren. Norman Rockwell guild challenge fabrics.

Kelwood, Manitoba Prairie Sounds Quilt show. 
Meadowlark Sings.  August, 2014.

She Dances

Quilter's Garden

Wood Duck, Ducks Unlimited Cover inspiration  
Flour sack from mom.  Thread painting.

Geraniums for Virginia

Rainbow fabric, Tonga fabric layer cake from mom.

On the Wind Challenge quilt that i never submitted.

Black and White and one color guild challenge

Free motion doodling on raw silk with my new APQS George sewing maching

Handmade Dragon Fly batik fabric from Cabo San Lucas, December, 2014.

Close-up of dragon fly.  Unfinished 

Pre-top stitching of 2015 Challenge project.  
Orange, Green and beige batik fabrics mixed with scraps from my stash.
The theme of this little quilt is Mexican Milagros; little wishes.
You will see wishes for creativity, relationships, health, success & spirituality.


Second 2015 challenge piece, scraps.