Friday, December 27, 2013

Sophia's Quilt

It felt great to have Sophia's quilt finished several days before Christmas.  Good, and strange, I almost never finish anything until the very last minute.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to try to get a good photograph, and needed help to get a full view of it, so these are the best photos I have.   I suppose I could always borrow it back if I decide I need better ones.  It's not a work of art, anyway.  I really urged Sophia's mom to just use it, it's meant to be used and loved, not treasured and locked away.

Monday, December 23, 2013


It's that time of year again.  No matter how many times I make and then ignore resolutions, I still find myself thinking about them at this time of year.  Maybe I should make a resolution not to make resolutions?  Nah, I'd just break that one too.

This year I'm thinking about starting small, but consistent.  I'm not sure yet, but I'm thinking my resolutions will be:

1. Just unroll the yoga mat on the floor every morning.  I don't have to actually do anything, but I know if I find myself standing there with the mat, I am more likely to actually do at least a couple minutes of practice.

2.  Open a sketchbook and make a mark every day. Anything.  Even one line.   I carry a sketchbook everywhere.  I rarely open it. I frequently see things that interest or inspire me, but typically use a camera instead of a sketch.  Snapping a picture does not make you think like sketching does.

3.  Walk downstairs into the studio every day.  I knew when we moved here 18 months ago, that the trade-off of getting more space to work would be not being in the midst of my work every day.  When the studio was the dining room, I had to walk by the design wall, and look at it, and often made at least a quick change or move when I did.  Now it's too easy to just stay upstairs until "later."

I think these three little things would make big changes for me.

Then there's the usual... drink more water, exercise more, eat better, stay off the computer, blah blah blah.... those are the resolutions that are impossible to keep because they're not measurable, or I'm not willing to measure, anyway.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Color Prints #4 - Work in Progress

I've been working mostly in brief snippets of time on my latest piece in the Color Prints series.  I make great progress when I capture even an hour of uninterrupted time, so I'm sure I'll finish piecing this by the end of the year, but I still beat myself up over not putting in enough time.  Enough of that.

I am really liking this piece. This one evolved out of the top "vignette" (that's what I am calling the individual pieces I create then combine in these pieces).  

It once again features orange!  I am no longer surprised by that.  Sometimes its so much easier to see what a piece needs when you get the distance of a photograph on a blog post.  I see clearly that (at least in my opinion) it needs to have the top piece moved over to the right side to offset it from the central one.  And then something with lavender has to happen up there.

I am thinking it's about time to get back in touch with Lisa Call and implement the unused private lessons time that I pre-purchased from her.  Up until now I didn't really know what to use it on, but now I am liking this direction enough to pursue it.  it is my intention to complete three more of these before I go to Nancy Crow's class, which is now ONLY about two and a half months away!  ACK!

I feel a twinge of guilt contacting Lisa since she just posted on FB about how happy she is to have finished up teaching and is now ready for Studio time!  Oh well, I was waiting partly because I knew she was so busy teaching.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Didn't Resist!

One of my goals in the sidebar is to "resist functional sewing" or something like that.  I didn't resist, but I have to say I am delighted with these curtains.  So much more cozy than the beige metal mini-blinds that came with the house.  Still have to hem them, I needed to check the length in relation to the bed first.

I'm also delighted that I got the fabric, lining, rods, and ring-clips, all for about $130, with coupons at JoAnns. And there are two windows, same size/shape on the wall to the right.    I don't buy their quilting fabric, but the home-dec stuff is fine with me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding Art Wherever You Are

While doing housework this weekend I noticed this interesting juxtaposition of the clothes washer, the waste basket and the floor.  Since the iPhone was right there charging I snapped a picture.

Just now I am reading Elisabeth Barton's latest blog entry, and she talks about exactly this - finding art wherever you are!   

(Yes, that is bird seed in the basket.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

...and a rejection

I received a rejection on the submittal of Tipping Point that I mentioned a few posts back.  I was disappointed but not surprised.

Onward - back to the studio tonight.  I have not had much free time with family in town, and spent the studio time I did have trying to finish another grandchild's quilt.

No more excuses.  Color Prints #4 is in pieces on the wall and calling out to me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Color Prints #3 Top Finished

I ended up ripping apart this piece and starting over.  There was enough there that I didn't want to just discard or recycle it, so I reworked it.  I still don't like it as much at #1 but it is much better.  This is a blurry iPhone photo because I thought it would be easier than plugging in the camera and cord.  Not.  Grr.  Anyway:

Color Prints #3 Updated

Color Prints #3 Original
There was a sense of weaving in the original, which got lost.  I liked the way the blue seemed to go over and under the lavender stripes, and also under the yellow bar.  But otherwise it was pretty clunky.  The new version seems more harmonious, although that little purple ledge sticking out beyond the purple bar is sort of annoying.

I need to develop some consistency to naming pieces, too. I called the "first" one in this series #8, because I had considered using the series title "Color Prints" for all the "Golden Mean" quilts, (4 golden means and three partials =7).  But then I decided that made no sense, since they didn't have prints in them.  Not to mention that I forget the first Color Print, which was "Are You Crazy?"   I'll get there, someday.

Baby Steps - A submittal

This weekend I made a small toward my goals this weekend; specifically the goal about tracking calls for entry.  I went to the website Fiber Art Calls For Entry and discovered a small private show being organized fairly near where I live. It seemed like it was meant to be.  The deadline is October 20, but in a totally uncharacteristic move, I rephotographed my proposed piece in the wonderfully overcast but bright light yesterday, filled out all the forms, paid the fee and sent in my entry.  It almost doesn't  matter if it's accepted, I just feel good about taking the steps and proving to myself, that it's really not that hard!

There was no particular theme for the show, so who knows if my piece will fit in - I entered "Tipping Point," which just came back from the last show.  Stay tuned for a report on the results.

The wavy edges are really driving me nuts, so if it is accepted for the show I'm going to have to wet it down and block it.  It did not seem that it was that bad before!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Visioning Project Year End Summary

Here's the post from our Visioning Project site where I summed up my success at meeting my goals:  

Here it is the middle of September. How did that happen?  If I had to sum up my success over the past year, I’d say really good, considering!   Without going into irrelevant detail, the “considering” involved an unexpected family illness that had me away from home more than expected, but all is well now.

There is something exciting and motivating about the “Back to School” feeling that hits me every September.  The evenings are darker and wetter and much more conducive to moving from the garden to the studio.    As I look back on successes and failures, it’s not too surprising. Too many distractions, not enough studio time.  I need to be flexible but diligent about my studio time.  I need to learn to say  ‘no’ to more things in order to say yes to the studio.   I could probably blame Pinterest for a big chunk of lost studio time.   It really does suck me in.  I justify it to myself in saying that I’m just learning about art and art quilting, and I learn a lot from looking at other quilts, but at some point I need to “just do it,” not think about it. 

But on a positive note, here’s what I accomplished between September  2012 and September 2013.  I hope to post my 2013-14 goals in the next week or so.

I think I met my general goals, which were deliberately pretty vague:
·                     Learn everything I possibly can about composition and colorIn addition to the formal learning I discuss below, I read several books about color, abstraction and as much as I could find about composition.  I also read some blogs and other informational internet sites.
"Strip Piecing #8"
·                     Find my "voice," or at least keep searching for it.
I can’t say it’s totally clear but I do know that I've found something that makes my heart sing.  That’s a funny term, but there is just this amazing feeling I get when I’m in that creative zone.  Heart songs are the opposite of heartaches, I guess.  This most recent piece I've done is an example.
·                     Continue to hone technical skills.
I think I did well on this too.  In addition to my art quilts I spent some time creating paper pieced stars and worked on about a dozen Dear Jane blocks.  Both helped me to be more precise when needed.  I don’t ever see my work evolving into something that requires a lot of precision sewing, but I think an artist needs every tool available and improvisation and spontaneity are not excuses to be sloppy.  I know that in my last two pieces I've done a lot more of ripping and redoing work that was not sewed to my standard, so I’d say I've improved in that area.

I was just “okay” with the specific goals – B- or C+ maybe?
  • Work Work Work! Put in the time.  Well, I did the best I could. Life happens, and a full time job doesn't help, but I did develop a routine that at times worked very well – getting up earlier I the morning in order to put in as much as 1.5 hours – ideally between 7:15 – 8:45.  This was a major effort for someone who is definitely NOT a morning person.  I have to work at streamlining the morning to NOT touch the computer, shower and dress right away and take my coffee to the studio.   After the intensity of the first two classes in September, October and November, I was brain dead an in the midst of the holidays.  I ended up piecing a cute bed quilt for my granddaughter, just to do something mindless.  That was against my resolution to NOT do functional sewing project, but each grandchild needs a quilt!  And there are two more waiting.  I got back to getting things ready to show at the Crow Workshops in January and February, that was when I finished up the WIS tops.  Then there was another big brain-dead lull between finishing the workshops in mid March, going on vacation for two weeks, then spending two more weeks with my brother after an illness in May and June.  It was only in August and September that I got back in to the creative mindset and finished my last two pieces. 
  • Focus on working In a series, and complete at least five major pieces in one series. Well, what does “major” mean? I produced either 4 or 7 pieces in the Series workshop, and have completed two more since then.  I guess that could qualify
  • Enter a piece in "Perspectives, Fantasy & Reality" Entry Deadline in November 2012
"Tipping Point" in the Whatcom Museum
I did not do this. The “Maps” theme is one I love, but not one I have worked on and since I was doing the Working in a Series workshop at the time, there wasn’t enough time for both.  I did push myself to do something for a SAQA call (Text Messages) which was also outside of my “strip piecing comfort zone” but also something I’m really interested in exploring. It wasn’t accepted, but I didn’t really expect it would be.  On a positive note, I did make a quilt for an open call at our local art museum on the theme of climate change.  Even though I knew they accepted anything and everything, it was still a thrill to see my work in the art museum.

  • Have five new quilt tops ready for the Nancy Crow workshop, in addition to the two that were started earlier this year. I guess I had five new ones done, the ones from the Series workshop. I felt more like they were “studies” than finished works of art, but at least I had something to show.
1.  Completed the Working in a Series Workshop with Lisa Call – and seven quilt tops (Was supposed to be five, but I decided the unfinished #5 would remain in three pieces, hence #5, 6, and 7.  How’s that for lemonade out of lemons??)   I really enjoyed the class, and Lisa is very organized, and experienced.  The biggest thing that came out of it was the experience of working intensely in the studio on a regular basis, and how rewarding it is to produce work when you commit time to doing it!

2.  Completed the Color in Art class, which included color theory which was not new to me, but good to review, and learning to mix colors with oil paint. I would never have done this on my own, but I LOVED it.  You become much more aware of how colors change and relate to each other when you are creating them yourself.   I am fascinated by the Albers “Interaction of Color” studies, and hope to experiment with some of them in fabric soon.

3.  Completed two weeks of workshops with Nancy Crow –“Improvisations – Let’s Experiment!” and “Lines, Curves, Circles & Figure Ground.”  There is nothing to compare with a Nancy Crow workshop, except maybe architecture school.  It is intense, emotional, and you learn more than you ever imagined you could.  Nancy claims her one-week workshops are the equivalent of a semester class in art school, and I really believe it.

One thing I am torn about in the coming year, is how much to continue making quilt tops, and how much time to spend on quilting itself.  Nancy Crow puts a big emphasis on producing lots of quilt tops as pieced studies, and less emphasis on finishing them.  I know they will not all be worthy, but I think I really need the free motion quilting practice, so I intend to quilt them all, even if they just turn into practice pieces.  That in mind, I am working backwards from the ugliest ones first, so the most amateur work is there, not on the ones I love.  Does that sound goofy? 

I need to mull over my goals for the coming year a little bit more, but I know they will include holding myself more responsible for posting here, and commenting on others posts. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Goals for the Year Just Past

Below I'm sharing a post I made to the SAQA Visioning Blog in September of 2012. I wanted to memorialize this somewhere, and I'm not sure if that private blog will be around forever.    In my next post I'll share the summing up of how I did meeting my goals:  

  Hi everyone!  I thought I'd write a couple quick intro paragraphs before launching into the stats, so you might have a better picture of who I am and where I am. I live in northwest Washington State, USA, I am 52 years old and work as an architect in my "day job."  It's turned out that my particular career has been heavy on management and light on creativity.  A craving to be more creative was smoldering for a long time, but I didn't know what I wanted to do and was always intimidated by "real artists,"  their techniques, and that magical "creativity" thing that I had no idea how to discover, if I even had any.  

I had never been very adept at sewing more than a straight line, and although I tinkered with traditional quilts when I was a teenager they had never entered my mind as a form of art.  So long story short, my arrival at quilts as art was very sudden:  Bought a cheap sewing machine to whip up some curtains.  Decided to try a little baby quilt for a new granddaughter.  Found out about the rotary cutter. (Though I could sew a straight line, cutting them was always beyond me). Went on the internet....  Discovered this whole new world.  

That was December of 2009, and I've spent every free moment since then sewing, reading, or taking classes.  I still have so much to learn, but that's the fun of it for me.  I'm still very scattered in figuring out my goals, but hopefully this project will help!

Motto for the year:  You can do anything, you just can't do everything.

How I will celebrate achieving my Vision:  ????

General goals for the year: 
  • Learn everything I possibly can about composition and color.
  • Find my "voice," or at least keep searching for it.
  • Continue to hone technical skills.
Specific goals for the year:
  • Work Work Work! Put in the time.
  • Focus on working In a series, and complete at least five major pieces in one series.
  • Enter a piece in "Perspectives, Fantasy & Reality" Online Entry Deadline November 10.
  • Have five new quilt tops ready for the Nancy Crow workshop, in addition to the two that were started earlier this year.
How will I know that I've succeeded?   Those five pieces will be hanging on a wall somewhere!

My Plan: Steps for Success:
I have committed to two courses of study, and will sign up for a third in the next week or so.
1) Starting 9/16/12, I will be taking an online workshop with Lisa Call, called "Working in a Series."
2) In March of 2013 I will be studying for two weeks with Nancy Crow, classes #3 and #4 in her series of workshops.  (I took #2 this year, and loved it). 
3) This fall, I will take a color theory course at our local community college taught by an artist I have long admired, Caryn Friedlander.

Other Steps for Success: 
  • Review my goals each morning.  
  • Monitor actual studio hours spent. 
  • Revise morning routine to get at least one hour of studio time before work 4 days a week.
  • Prioritize weekend time to get at least four (preferably more!) hours of studio time ea. weekend.
  • Spend at least two evenings per week in studio
  • DO NOT volunteer for anything new, and limit time donated to existing committments. 
  • DO NOT start any new functional sewing projects.

  • Never having enough time!  
  • Too much computer time and not enough studio time.  
  • Working on functional quilts, gifts or other "useful" projects instead of art quilts.

Steps to take this month towards my goal: 
  • Make sure I get signed up for Color Theory before the class is full. [I have accomplished this.]
  • Try to decided what the theme of my "series" will be for "working in a series." I have two options and am torn both ways.   [I have accomplished this.]
  • NEW*  Set a studio schedule that I can actually stick to.  
  • See steps for success.  
  • Schedule studio time. 
  • Reduce other commitments. 
  • Limit computer time.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Color Prints #3

I've been working on another piece in what I'm calling the Color Prints series.  It came together fairly quickly, but it's just not working for me. Especially the yellow.   I debated just calling it done an moving on, but I think it can be rescued.  After discussing it with a friend/mentor we came up with the idea of making it into two pieces.  Either half of it seems to have potential, it just doesn't work all together.

I may just let it marinate on the wall for awhile and move on to something else.  Or I may try splitting it...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Untitled, Revised

I like this piece more than anything I've done in a year, yet it has no title.  Titles are not that important to me, but they usually come to mind quickly.  This time, not.  Maybe it's just "Strip Piecing #8."  That's Boring!

But as I looked at the picture of it on the blog and Facebook, I decided it really HAD to have one more aqua strip on the top.  See if you agree:



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WIP List

I did some editing on my WIP (work-in-progress) lists today, but the end result doesn't make much difference.

  •  I moved Sophia's quilt to "completed tops" which it really has been for months (well, except the border...) 
  • But I had to add Sophia's OLD quilt on WIP as it's still in pieces in a box.
  • I decided that WIS #5 is done, in three pieces, and going to stay that way.  So that moved to "completed tops."
  • I added the two new completed tops.
  • The only thing really DONE and off the list is deck cushions.  I did the hand sewing over the summer.  There were supposed to be two more, but I never did them and the foam rotted from sitting out in the sun.  
  • I took Jackson and Ava's baby quilts off the list, because they're not even started, so can't be "in progress."  That's one way to get things done! 
  •  But had to add the paper piecing stars that never hit the list for some reason.   Maybe at one point they were going to be Jackson's quilt, but they're not functional, they need to hang on the wall.  In the girl's room, hopefully soon.

I have two pieces just waiting for binding, if I get that ready I can stitch in front of the tv maybe.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two More Weeks

That's how long it took me to complete this latest quilt top.   And I love it.  After "Are You Crazy?" I felt like I was in a zone.  I challenged myself to try to complete the next top in a week.  It took me two, but there was just too much other stuff going on.   It was actually about 80% or more done in a week.
It's not all about speed of course, it's about doing good work.  But I know that for me right now it's also about just doing work, not diddling for weeks trying a dozen different options for every move.

ANYWAY, I actually really like this as-yet untitled piece.  I just started out making strip piecing fabrics, knowing I wanted to use prints again, but in a somewhat less chaotic way.  I made quite a few fabrics, but "cheated" by making several that were only 18 - 22" long.  So what?  No rules, right?  After having at least ten or twelve fabrics made, I started cutting and creating units.  You can't make a large number of repetitive units with short fabrics, so I found myself with a lot of different random pieces.

I was in the midst of a very complicated composition of all these different units about a week ago, when I suddenly realized that I really liked the lower left portion of the composition.  And realized that (as USUAL) the composition was way too complicated and chaotic.  So I just pulled off about half the "stuff" and simplified, focusing on the green "L," orange figure and lightest value upper right.

Instead of continuing the direction of "Are You Crazy?"  as I'd sort of thought I would do, I ended up back in the comfort zone of strip piecing, about where I left off at the end of Lisa Call's Working In A Series last November.  But what the hell, it's where I felt like being.  I succeed in the goal of using the prints more subtly; they are much less of a factor here; more of a supporting role than a starring one.  Just for fun, here are the two striped fabrics I used to make my strip pieced fabrics.

Only one section of the top one appears in this piece, but I have several more bits and pieces waiting around for the next piece.  My goal for that is to continue working with the pieces that are left, but to focus on simpler compositions,  with clear figure/ground relationships and good use of value.   The one thing I have not done yet, is to look at this latest in black and white.....   Will do that next!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Just discovered a lot of my older (like 2012!) posts are all messed up.  Since I switched my theme to a dark background and light text it changed over sometimes but not always.  But worse - the photos are missing, and/or linking to the totally wrong place.  Since I am so obsessive-compulsive, I will probably be going back and trying to fix them.  Apologies to **all** my readers who were inconvenienced!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Week

Are You Crazy?!?
First I loved it, then I hated it, then it started to get more interesting again.   As it came together I understood why people probably don’t intuitively piece a bunch of blocks then try to put them into a traditional quilt format.  With matching corners.  But it’s sort of fun.    I don’t know why I always go overboard on color. And complexity.  But I do.

I enjoyed the process of putting this together more or less intuitively.  But probably more happy with the fact that I was able to work quickly - quickly for me, anyway - without too much diddling and fiddling.  I tried something, and if it worked relatively okay I went forward with it.  
In the end it's too mish-mashy and overwhelming.  Too much screaming color.  Although it's not quite as screaming as it seems in the photo.  I think all that color terrified my camera.   Too much busy-ness.  The orange strips are too much orange in one place.  The striped log cabins in the center are too sloppy and overwhelming...  

I should have been more precise with the striped pieces.  They are all lumpy and crooked.  

But hey, it's something, and it's done, and its time to move on.  But... what if I put a couple stripes into the orange strips...?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nothing is as Easy as it Looks

Studio time has been hit or miss lately, but I do get down there at least four to five hours per week, I'd guess.  I took last Friday afternoon off, and was able to work uninterrupted for about three hours, then back after dinner for a couple more.

For a long time I've wanted to try doing more with printed fabric.  Nancy had us bring geometric prints to all three of the workshops I've done, but we never got very deep into using them.  I have been following Maria Shell and really loving what she is doing with prints, specifically her Color Grid series,seen in this process shot she featured back in May.

Maria Shell - Color Grid Series

So given a three hour window to mess around with, I pulled out the prints and started cutting strips and making "fabrics."  I deliberately worked intuitively, without any particular plan in mind, but I did try to limit the color range and intensity.    Once I had four or five strip sets made, I grabbed one and started slicing and dicing.

After I made the blue units, I threw them on the wall in a sort of grid pattern.  Since there were eight of them, I had the concept in mind that they would evolve into eight blocks, and then I would make eight more out of other fabrics, and assemble 16 blocks in a checkerboard arrangement.  That seemed sort of boring, though, so I started arranging them in more of an overall symmetrical layout, thinking I would have a greater number of different blocks and more of a reference to traditional quilt making block layouts that could create overall secondary patterns....  

This is what the wall looked like this morning, after some additional fabrics and blocks were made. 

I don't like it.  Yet.  I'm not sure what it's going to take to get it to something I like, but right now the whole overall arrangement thing is not working for me at all. Scattered, distracting, confusing, overly complicated. It's questionable whether I can get it anywhere that I will like it.  I may have to go back to just having two blocks and repeating them, or otherwise simplifying.   As an alternative, It might need to be more of a "chunk" arrangement. Where multiple blocks are grouped.  I'm trying hard NOT to be too derivative of Maria's stuff, i.e. making a grid like hers.    I find I get more focused on geometry and mental gymnastics, and not enough on the visual that is actually produced, or the figure/ground relationship.  I wonder how they will look without all the white space...    I created the fabric on the left out of solids, thinking it would be unifying between blocks.  But - No.  You can see a couple thin strips in the center.  They are too big, in relation to the striped fabric.

Stay tuned.

In other news,  I took apart the black and white "thing" and got rid of all the arbitrary angles.  It's on the wall, and I played with adding some larger black areas.  Now I'm distracted by the couple of lines that get too skinny.  I thought they added interest or hierarchy or something, but now they are distracting.  We'll see.

And then there's Jane.  The temporary obsession with Jane has abated slightly.  but I did enjoy the paper piecing, and it helped me practice precision.  Not something I love, but something necessary.

I have sort of copied the blocks as drafted in the book, but also taken some liberties here and there.  The last one I completed was the 16-square in the lower right.  I did this by cutting squares, and it did not turn out sized correctly.  I can see now why people use paper piecing even with simpler assemblages.  More precision.  Question is whether I'll redo it, or just make do?  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The last few days I have struggled and struggled and struggled to get that first piece quilted.  I accomplished a fair bit, but I wanted to use some shiny Sulky thread, (polyester?) and I had a hard time with the stitches dropping at the turns.  I have ripped and resewn at least five times.  The frustrating thing is the strips DON'T drop when I sew on my sample fabric piece.  The only difference is the batting on the sample is MORE puffy.  Wouldn't you think the reverse, the'd drop on the puffy, not the flat?

When I get home I will change the needle.  If that doesn't do it, it's past time for servicing anyway.  I just can't stand being without it for up to two weeks right now!!!!  I am finally getting time to focus a little bit.

In other news, I'm becoming very fond of Dear Jane.  Although I tried and failed to make the simplest block, a 1-1/2" nine-patch!  Got too lazy and cut some pieces to finished instead of raw size.  I had just tossed it in the trash when I remembered my resolve to do some improv squares too.   I cut it in quarters like a disappearing nine-patch, resewed, added border and Voila!  THAT at least made me happy.

Now I am pondering ideas about how to put together my Modern Jane.  Many versions, many examples on Pinterest.  But I don't want it to just be a different setting, I want to somehow incorporate the blocks into something more creative.....   Stay tuned.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Variety

I have not finished anything else this week.  I have been hopping around pulling out different projects.  I like to be working on a lot of projects at once.  I am very easily distracted.  I can be in the  middle of quilting a section of a quilt and suddenly jump up and start playing with another design on the wall.
Rather than pound on myself for being "scattered" I prefer to think of it as overflowing with creativity.

I got kind of bored with the two pieces I planned to quilt this week.  I was not terribly  unhappy with the quilting, but doing it on the machine with walking foot can get very tedious.  My biggest problem is how to make "U-turns" that don't look messy.  I have my little pieces that I bought from Lisa, and I look at her photos on her website, but I don't know how she makes her edges so neat.  Somehow she is able to stitch over things and get the stitches to land in the exact same place.  Practice, I'm sure, is the key.  But it tells me that I'd better get serious about free motion quilting. Which also means more PRACTICE.  Sigh.

Here's what I've been up to:
The two pieces to be quilted:
This was my prototype for Working in a Series last year.

This was a challenge for FFFC.  Abstracted Van Gogh.
I almost hate to admit it, but I've been sucked back into "Dear Jane."   Sometimes doing something teeny and precise appeals to me. Another thing I need to get good at.  I don't see my real art being that way but there are always times when I get frustrated by my lack of technical skills.  So I spent about 90 minutes Wednesday and Thursday piecing block A-1.  They finish at 4-1/2" so blocks are made 5".  5" and 28 pieces.  1-1/8" half square triangles.  I had fun trying out this method for making eight at once.  Thank you Katie.

I had an epiphany about Jane - I do NOT have to make all the squares.  Not only that, but I can make DIFFERENT blocks too.  I can make up my own, if I want.  I have no desire to do the applique blocks. I have enough hand sewing backed up to get me through a winter worth of TV, why do more (badly)?  I can just keep making random blocks until I am bored.  I have been loving watching the Tula Pink City Sampler bloggers.  But I am fighting the urge to star one of THOSE too.  And the urge to buy the book!

Instead, I plan to mingle Modern blocks and Jane blocks to my hearts content.  Maybe that's stupid, Jane is the ultimate in fussy, Modern Quilters are the ultimate in loosen up already.   But what the hell, maybe it will be like Grandma meets Modernism.  
I also realized that in addition to a selection of teal-ish fabrics bought for Jane, I have a bunch of teal-ish fabrics bought for Tipping Point. So I might do the whole thing in shades of teal.  Or I might add a second color.  Or two.  Or ten.   Here's my progress so far:
Yeah, seven blocks.  But look at that sucker in the upper right.  That's the one from last night.  And if I may say so, the points are pretty damn good.  ;)   The one on the upper left I made up when I was practicing the HSTs.

Some other oldie-moldies that are back on the design wall:
Pink and Black nine-squares.
Sorry about the crappy picture.  
I started this really early in my career, when I was still interested in more traditional stuff.  I bought a whole lot of pink and black fabric because I had Zero quilting fabric.  Now I'm thinking about whether it should be anything or just scrap it.  What more creative thing can I do... ?
Carol Taylor Class
I NEED to finish this because I spent waaaaay too much money on her fancy yard.  Really?  I need 6 different yarns for this 18" square piece? What am I ever going to do with all that??
What to do with this project from Nancy's class is more interesting.  I thought at the time that making a diagonal cut seemed like the way to turn it into something.  While it hung on the wall I realized it was nothing, horrible, a mish-mash.  So I took it apart and stuck parts back on the wall.  But I'm thinking I have to take out the slash.  At least for now.  So those pieces are wasted.  Oh well, it will be smaller.  

P.S.  I forgot to add that I am spending WAAAY to much time on Pinterest.  I've become sort of hooked on seeing my followers increase. Not that I'm vain or anything.  :) But I have gone from 4,000 last weekend, to over 4,500 today.   I like to search out new things on the web to post, rather than just re-pinning from the people I follow (bcs. my followers probably have already seen those things too).   It's a guilty pleasure, that at least doesn't contain calories.

I guess since this post has lots of stuff on the wall, I'll link up to Nina Marie's Off The Wall Friday!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Christmas in July - Well, August

Yesterday I finished attaching and stitching down the binding on this - Point-y Settia.  Hee hee.  My first paper piecing project.  I'm learning not to use large scale prints in small pieces.  I hate when that happens.

Today I sandwiched two pieces and started practicing Lisa-Call type tight rows of stitching.  Don't know how she does it so neatly!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Finishes - On a Mission

I've had a little time to get back to the studio, and have been on a mission to finish things....
These Easter pillows were never even on an official UFO list, but I received the fabric in a guild raffle, and decided they would be fun for the girls on their Easter sleepover.  I actually did finish them back then, just never posted them.  My intention is that I can use these pillow forms and put different covers on them for various holidays.  We'll see if that happens.  Not sure why the corners are so limp...?
What I did finish last week was the little pink ones.  They came to be because - who could resist a 50-cent remnant of hot pink tiger-stripe fleece?  Not me.  They are the funny tiny shapes because the remnant was only about that wide.  I stuffed them with a lot of left-over too-fluffy batting I had filling up the shelves.

The other finish is an oldie but goodie that has been on the UFO list since 2010 when I took the class.  I actually thought there was a lot more work left, but I was able to finish it up in only a few days of quick sittings.  It was in worse condition than I'd remembered. It was started in 2010, in a class with Alethea Ballard.    Her "maverick" technique of just using a glue stick to slap things down, and then quilt later didn't work well for me.  Leaving it sit three years probably didn't help.   ;)   The pieces didn't lay flat at all, and there are some nasty puckered up areas.  But knowing it was a mess already freed me up to just do something and not worry about ruining it.  

The nasty puckers and bubbles actually gave me a "brilliant" idea  - since it's a soft, upholstered chair, why not give it some three-dimensional quality?  It's hard to capture in a photo.  I snipped slits in the backing and stuffed most of the chair sections (already outlined with zig-zag quilting) with more of that overly-fluffy batting.  It actually made me sort of like the end result!  I think I'll save it for putting up at Halloween.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to.  That and some mending - buttons and pants hems - that has also been cluttering the studio - and hence my mind!  Life is good.   Now, with all this hot weather I'm thinking it would be a crime if I didn't dye some fabric......  ?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Dance

I was doing a happy dance on the inside after we finished assembling the petunias last night.  When we first laid out the six blocks on the cutting table around 7:00 pm, we were not really sure what in the world we had done.  We spent a couple hours fussing and fiddling and making seams and edges line up, and Jo finally got all the pieces put together.

She went into the next room to hang it on the wall, while the rest of us stood back.  One by one everybody said, "Wow!  That's amazing! Wow! It really looks GOOD."  I think we were all stunned and thrilled with how well it came together.  It was obviously done by six people, and we never wanted it to look all the same.  Part of what we love is how different everyone's interpretations were, and yet how much it hung together.

The other thing I was even more thrilled about was that my piece, though it was not perfect, seemed to fit in well with all the others.  It needed some adjusting and tweaking, but they all did a little bit.  So I was hugely relieved not to have a big messy thing right smack in the center of their beautiful work.

I would love to show it here, but will wait and see if we have any plans to enter it anywhere that would prohibit that, and of course not unless everyone agrees to "publishing" it.

And no, I still have no plans to ever do another appliqued pictorial quilt.  I am totally excited to get back to my abstract strip piecing!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pink Petunias

I finally forced my dear patient friends into giving me a deadline for this group quilt.  It's been dragging along for many months, probably close to a year, while all of us went through life changes, vacations, family emergencies, etc.  As of May I was the last one not finished with my section, and others have stepped in to take over the section of member number six, who bailed early in the process.

I admit I was not very motivated to finish. I have never done a group quilt, and I'm by far the most inexperienced of the group.  I was not entirely sure how to approach it, but figured it would have to end up being fused.  Over the past year, I've come to realize that fusing, and realism, are definitely not the direction I want to explore.  So I was motivated to do a good job for the group, but nervous about making a mess.  So, wonder of wonders, I actually am done early!  Well, okay, before the cheers go up, I'm not really done.  I'm done fusing.  I now have to stitch it down, and add some stitching lines for lines in the flowers.  Which I'm even more worried about.  But I have tonight and tomorrow for that.

So, here's a little photo essay of some elements.  I am always lazy about process photos, but you get the idea...

Here's a print of the photo we selected, taken by one of our members.  I drew the lines on it in Photoshop, trying to make the sections interesting shapes, and to give everyone at least one flower.

I enlarged the photo and printed it on our large format printer at work.  (Being an architect has some advantages!) I honestly can't remember now what the final size was, my piece seems to be about 15" x 18" maybe.  I know I had to print multiple sheets, because I wanted each person to have a little of the adjacent section, to see what they were matching up to.

I dawdled around for a long time doing de-saturations, posterizations and other stuff in Photoshop to try and figure out how I would construct everything.  I ended up making 6 different layers, gradated from light to dark, printing each on a separate piece of paper (not shown) so I would know which areas were to be light, medium light, etc.    

Then I made a full-size tracing outlining each piece.  This is the master-tracing and alignment map, that does not get cut up.  Then I traced other pieces on separate pieces of tracing paper and cut out the shapes.  Except for some where exactness really didn't matter, those I eyeballed.

I built up the assembly piece by piece on a Teflon sheet (most of the time, I occasionally fused things to my cutting board and drafting table, that didn't work nearly as well).  Then I laid the whole thing over a piece of lightweight muslin which had been prepared with Mistyfuse, and ironed it down.  Little tidbits of fusible were added to temporarily hold the layers together, but the stitching is intended to be the permanent attachment.

And here's where it now stands.  I have extended my pieces at least an inch beyond my border to allow for assembly.  I'm not sure how that's going to work, but we will hash it out on Wednesday.  
I'm generally pretty happy with it.  I also spent a lot of time fussing with the 3D bud in the lower left, but never ended up with anything I really liked.  It looks pretty lame now, but the side and bottom will be cut off and I hope that will help.  And some stitching, or quilting.  I also am not happy with the lower right flower section.  For the one on the upper left, I was able to use the directionality in the hand-dyed fabric to mimic the veins in the flower petal.  I didn't have a piece that would do that for the lower right. So I'm going to have to rely more on stitching. 

So that's what I've been up to.  After Wednesday, I'll be back to my own projects, and one of my first goals will be to get backing and batting ready for about four or thirteen different tops that are languishing, and start practicing my machine and free-motion quilting skills.


Long Absence

Life sometimes gets in the way of art, and bloggers go silent for months.  I get frustrated when it happens to my favorites, but I understand.  Somehow blogging just didn't come to the top of my priority list recently.  But I may be having a few extra visitors soon, so I thought I'd better catch up.  As far as art quilt news, here's the finished Tipping Point on display at the Whatcom Museum.
It's just a quick iPhone shot, because, as usual, I was rushing around at the very last moment getting the hanging system to work and didn't remember to snap a photo before heading over to the museum.   

Sadly, I missed the opening artist's reception at the beginning of July, due to one of the reasons I have been away; my younger brother had a very bad stroke and I went to L.A. and later to D.C. to spend time with him and support his family.  He's doing well, now, though has a long road ahead to recover.  

I have to say the thrill of seeing my work in "the museum" was everything I'd hoped.  I went alone on my lunch hour, and perused the exhibit without immediately searching the room for my piece, but finally it appeared!  Being an open call, there was a wide range of work displayed, an I felt that mine compared positively as far as the level of professionalism.   As you can see there is a slight ripple in the bottom edge and the upper corners don't lay flat.  Hanging systems are something I have not spent enough time on.  

The title of the exhibit is "Nature in the Balance," and several themes were suggested -
What is happening to the Earth?
Why is it happening?
What are your visions of the future?
How can people make a differerence?

I chose "What is happening to the Earth," and my artist's statement (100 word limit) was:

This piece explores the complexity and interconnectedness of our planet’s ecosystems, oceans and atmosphere.   Many climate scientists refer to the possibility of a “tipping point,” when the combined effects of warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and pollution on the planet have accelerated and reinforced each other to a point where no human action can bring them back into balance.  I suggest we are perilously close, if not already at that point.   I tried to interpret this theme abstractly by using a variety of different but related patterned fabrics to represent the variety and diversity of life on the planet.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quilt for Nature in the Balance

The call for entries to this show came out in about December I think - or anyway, many months ago.  Climate change, generally, is the theme.  Open without jurying to any Whatcom Museum member.  How could I not?  Well, of course I procrastinated until the last possible time.

No, I don't want to say procrastinated.  With spring finally here and 1,200 sq. ft. of veggie garden to plant, and trees and flowers to maintain, and a two week jaunt across France to plan, I didn't procrastinate as much as prioritize.

But I was determined to make this happen, and I did.  I didn't take time for in-process photos, so all I have to show is the end result, but here it is.

Tipping Point
So, per usual, it's my bad photography, not a crooked bottom.

This is all pieced.  I had let myself forget what a challenge I had piecing curves at the workshop.  In my mind's eye, it was going to be assembled strip by strip - with only the slight curves of each strip.  That didn't happen.  As I assembled colors and textures on the wall, I found that I couldn't really piece one strip at a time and still expect the globe to be round.  So I assembled the top of the sphere first, including the black bar.  Then I made the bottom strips and attached the bottom of the globe to them.

All that was left was two really nasty inset seams where the "sky" segments met the "water-with-globe-attached" pieces.

It does not have to go to the museum until June 18, so I still have to attach a hanging sleeve and some sort of slat.  Artwork is supposed to be ready to hang, with proper hanging devices including wire.  So I guess I will include a wood slat in the sleeve.

And in five more days, we are off to France!!!