Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year in Review

2010 was "berry berry good to me."  

There were no new health setbacks, so that's a huge positive point.

I turned 50.  Wow, really??

I rediscovered my love of quilting, and then discovered the world of art quilts.  In the past I avoided anything that was a traditionally female pursuit, just out of stubbornness, but now I feel secure enough to say who cares, I love fabric and colors and designing, why shouldn't I love quilting?  Within the space of one year, I created ten finished pieces, and will have several more soon. (YES, REALLY!)  I took nine classes, including the APWQ retreat.

I had a piece in a public gallery show! (even if it was open to anyone)

The other personal achievement was the closeout and clean out of my mom's house and estate.  It was one of my worst procratinations ever, since she's been gone for six years now.  But in addition to all the issues around the collection, preservation, and saving of "stuff" there was the issue of the house being in Ohio and me being in Washington.  I still feel some twinges about letting all that stuff go, but mostly relief.   And there's still a storage unit there full of the stuff that I couldn't part with.

I also managed to deaccquisition a lot of things here like clothes and magazines.  I now am motivated to get rid of even more, in order to make a nice studio for myself out of the "library" area which now is just the spot for junk to pile.  My beautiful desk from my grandmother's house is neatly organized, but filled with stuff I never use - it's time to revamp that.  After looking at "Studio's Magazine's" small space studios, I realized a nine by nine space should be plenty of room.

Here's to looking forward to a year with more free-flowing creativity and less procrastination!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marriage? Done?

 I think this is the finished product. I don't really like it.  However, it is a bit better than the photo shows.    It's hard to get colors and shapes to be accurate in a photograph.   Why is it so hard to take a square photo of something square?  It was suggested that I quilt the other areas, and I think I will as there is not much to lose.  I will call it a practice piece.

Start of Day Three

Wow!  I slept too late!  Yesterday was productive.  I sat down to work on the quilt about 9:30 and by 2:00 had it cut out and pinned together, batting, backing and all.   So I took the dog for a walk, turned in some clothes at the consignment store (yeah, and bought a couple new things -  I didn't expect to find anything spectacular, but how could I pass up this silk blouse for $9.99? or the jacket with $129 tag still attached for $12.99?)

Then I decided at 4:00 that I should cook something different than the usual fare.  So I Googled a recipe for White Chicken Chili, and headed off to the store for ingredients.  That turned out yummy but late of course.  So by the time I got back to sewing it was almost 8:00.  I did sew down all the pieces, and started quilting one of the background areas.   I changed the title to "Marriage?"  I really enjoy the process of illustrating an abstract concept with color and fabric.   When I look at abstract art in museums I like to make up stories in my head about what it might mean, usually before looking at the title.

So here's a progress shot -

I worked very improvisationally, with no sketching anything out.  Once I had the central idea of the "river of marriage" in the middle and the two sides approaching it, I was able to just flow with it.   I'm happy with the idea, and sort of happy with the shapes, but it still feels more "cut out" than color field. And the pale blue ties more to the pink/green side and not to the deep purple.  Conceptually it should have been a blend or middle ground. I really kept trying to do the piece without that blue, but it kept insisting on jumping back in.  the gray/purple blobs should have been the river color.  Oh well.  And  I didn't have any ideas how to make the colors blend with each other better.  I wanted them to, but I don't feel this is essential because many of H.F.'s didn't though many others did.  It's a study.  It's an exploration.  It's not a finished work of art.

I think a lot of us are getting hung up on what a C.F. piece "should" be when even the critics don't agree which pieces fit that category.  The fun is in the exploration, so I'm not stressing about it.  I am happy that we had a challenging challenge like this during a week when I actually had some time to play.  UFO's be damned!  :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Process today....

Check out these photos by Tim Shinkansen -  very "color-field-y."  I love them!

Sometime shortly before falling asleep last night I began to envision a color field quilt called Marriage.  that's what I'm running with.  It took quite awhile to audition fabrics, and I'm not saying that I love what I finally went with, but I'm not going to run to the fabric store and drop $30 on every challenge, so I'm working with my somewhat limited "stash."  

I chose mostly batiks because the texture reminds me of the paint texture in the CF paintings.  It's not just a flat field of color, but has depth.  (Until you get to the later pop-art stuff).

I've tried to cut rough, frayed edges as well.  This looseness makes it seem less like a cut-out or stencil.  Cut outs are fine if you're Matisse, but I'm not.  

Vacation Week day two

Day One was a pretty good balance between chores, errands and fun.   I didn't do any sewing, however.  I intend to remedy that.   I think I will have a go at a QUICK FFFC before getting back to UFO's.  The whole intent of FFFC is to learn to work quickly, not to create monthly UFO's.  And I have some sort of vision for what I want to do, nothing as solid as a plan, but a pile of rich saturated colors of fabric, that were inspired by Frankenthaler and Rothko.  

The point where my brain freezes up is on how to quilt a color field painting.  And if you don't quilt it, is it really a quilt?  Yes,  I know plenty of art quilters who don't feel required to quilt in the traditional sense, but I still have a need to connect what I do to traditional quilts in some way.

I'm debating whether the finished image should by colors laid on muslin to reference Frankenthaler's stain-type paintings, or whether it should just be color on color ala Rothko.   Inspired by but not imitating them...of course.

The other thing that's worrying me about taking this on is that by definition (at least my definition) the large scale of most color field works is what allows them to suck you in emotionally.  A little 12 x 12 overgrown potholder just isn't going to have the effect I want.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vacation Week and Color Field Painting

Despite my resolution to finish UFO's during this week off,  I find myself drawn into FFFC Challenge 52 which is inspired by the Color Field Painting movement of  the 1940's and '50s.  I find the challenges which encourage us to delve deeper into art history to be irresistible.  The posts on the message board are a bit like art school discussions (just slower!)

I don't want to post a long windy manifesto there on my opinion of the essence of Color Field, expert that I am after four days of study.   :)   So I thought I'd just ramble on here for awhile instead.  From what I've gathered, the key points of any CF work are:
  • not only abstract, but nonrepresentational
  • color carries primary importance over form, shape or style
  • evokes emotion, primarily through use of color
I've chosen a few artists whose work intrigues me to research further, and hopefully base my piece on:  Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler.  I don't believe these are the "best" or most pure or iconic, I just found that their works touched me more deeply than the others.  Rothko's work Magenta Black Green on Orange, seems to be an early example of pure Color Field. A Google Image search of Rothko brings up many more examples of his interpretation. Note extremely simple, mostly horizontal forms and blurred edges.

Other painters that I found interesting and would consider as having at least a Color Field phase are Hans Hoffman, and Clifford Still.  While still using color fields in a non-representative way, these work feels more chaotic or stressful, and not something I'm inclined to attempt to emulate in fabric.  Color Field seems to have matured in the 1960's with many painters using a more geometric or hard edged form, and artists like Morris Louis,  Frank Stella.  Growing up in middle America in the 1960's and '70's I remember seeing and hearing about these types of works, all generically and frequently somewhat pejoratively referred to as "Modern Art."

Wikipedia has an interesting "stub" of an article which shows a chart with one writer's definition of different "Post-Painterly Abstraction" styles.

I think a great response to this challenge would be to simply frame a beautifully dyed piece of fabric.    Alas I don't have one.

Here is a good story by NPR  on Color Field from 2008, which includes part of an interview with Frankenthaler in the 1980's.  I think I choose her to study further in part, because I was intrigued that she is the only woman mentioned in conjunction with Color Field.  So few women artists seem to have made the history books from any period so I am always interested to look at them.  Sadly, while listening to the NPR story, I found out that she was the lover of art critic Clement Greenberg, whose writing defined Color Field and who selected artists to write about...   Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland were strongly influenced by Frankenthaler, but one wonders if they our anyone else would have ever heard of her, had she not been introduced to them by Greenberg?  hmmm.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I've pared down the holiday craziness in my life to a few parties and not too many gifts, so I am actually feeling some sense of calm.  Finishing off those cards and updating the blog stirred me to reflect on how much I've done with the quilting obsession in just one year.   The "Classes" and "Projects" pages go into details on both, so I won't repeat it all.

There are still many more items on the UFO list, and my goal with taking off work the 27th - 31st (besides relaxing and many other projects)  is to try to clean that list up.   Some - at least half - are within reach.  Others need serious focus or I need to face reality and admit they are not worth the effort.    I am notorious with my family for having half-finished projects lingering around for years, but at least I don't feel alone about that in the quilting blogosphere.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cards are DONE!

... well, except I now have to write and address them, not to mention decide who gets which one!  Arg!  I'm going to edit and finish up the tutorial later (right!) but I can't resist posting a few pictures.  This is the completed collection, prior to stitching and gluing.

This is how some of the finished cards ended up:

My favorites from the stocking group.

This goofy leftover red tree turned out to be one of my favorites. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tutorial for Fabric Christmas Cards

Disclaimers:  (1) I'm not big into measuring or exactness, so if you want exact patterns or dimensions, I'm not your girl.  (3) I'm also sort of low-tech, so if you have fancy machines that do some of this this stuff - go for it. (3) I made this up as I went along.  There's improvisation involved, don't stress!

Supplies -  Materials
Fabric - collect up a good selection of holiday fabrics.  Focus on solids or small prints, something that's readable when cut into small pieces.
Fusible web -  I'm a Misty Fuse Girl, but there are many choices out there.
Blank Cards - I used A2 size,  because when folded these are equal to 1/4 of a standard sheet of paper.
Plain Cardstock - buy an inexpensive ream at an office supply store,  it has many uses.
Decorations - sequins, ribbon, trim, glitter, anything that sparkles and can be glued down.
Markers - gold and silver are fun - pick something that will show up on your chosen cards.
Freezer Paper - another essential material for SO many reasons!
Glue - for your decorations.  Something that dries clear.

Supplies - Equipment
Rotary cutter, paper cutter, or Exacto knife.
Cutting Board
Iron and Ironing board
Sewing machine - fun embroidery stitches helpful, but not essential
Teflon pressing sheet  - I have seen others recommend using parchment paper - whatever it takes to not get fusable on your ironing board.  It's harder than you think.  Betcha mess up at least once!

Overview of the Process
1.  Cover card stock with fabric.
2.  cut out designs and fuse to the covered card fronts.
3.  Embellish the design as desired, including decorative stitching.
4. Adhere the finished card front to a blank card.
5. Write your message inside.
6. Stuff the envelopes and send.

Detailed Instructions
1.  Start thinking of some simple shapes you want to cut out and apply to the cards.

2.  While you're thinking, start preparing some fuse-backed fabric.  I cut the pieces of fabric based on the size of the webbing, leaving a half inch clear zone to protect my iron. If I'd planned ahead I might have sized it to efficiently cut out the card fronts.   You will need enough material to cover your chosen number of card fronts, as well as enough to cut out your shapes and embellishments.

3.  Prepare the bases for the card front by cutting pieces of card stock into 1/4s.

After my first prototype I decided to trim down these 1/4s by an 1/8th of an inch or so, in order to have a bit of the card boarder showing.

4.  Select the fabrics you will use for your background and cut out pieces that are about 1/2" bigger each way (1/4" all around) than your cards.

Fuse the fabric to the cards:
    a.  Place fabric face down on the ironing board.
    b.  Center a card front on it.

    c.  Cover this with your pressing sheet.
    d.  Lightly press to adhere.
    e.  Clip the corners to reduce bulk.
    f.  Cover again and re-warm.
    g.  While it's still warm (but not TOO warm - OUCH!) finger press the edges over the back.

    h.  Carefully iron the edges down so you don't get fuse on your iron.

    i.  Card fronts are all ready for the fun part!

5.  Prepare and cut out your shapes.   I chose a tree, a stocking, a Christmas ball (ornament) and a star.  You also might want to try fussy-cutting some motifs from holiday fabrics, or just free-hand cutting - whatever strikes your fancy.  To make your own shapes with a pattern:
    a.  Draw out your shapes by hand or with your computer.  I used a drawing program to be sure my tree   was symmetrical but I sketched the stocking by hand.

  b.   Cut out 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of freezer paper.

   c.   Print or photocopy your designs onto the freezer paper. They feed nicely through my inkjet printer.
   d.  Roughly cut out the stencils with some border around them.
   e.  Iron them onto the right side of a piece of fused fabric (be SURE your pressing sheet is underneath.
   f.  Cut out the shapes with the paper still on them.

   g. Peel off the paper stencil - you can use it several times before it looses stickiness.
   h.  Your shapes are ready to iron onto your card fronts.

A round quilt stencil with an added knob was an easy shape to cut out.

6.  Go to it!  Arrange your shapes on the card fronts, add your embellishments, go crazy!
These used glitter glue, gold fabric, and stickers.
(I later pulled off the candy stickers, they looked too artificial).

A star cut out of gold fabric, tiny ornament stickers, some gold glitter glue
for the "ground," and decorative embroidery stitches for a border are the
embellishments I used to "finish" my Christmas trees.
7.  Use fabric or white glue to fasten your card fronts to the purchased blank cards, then use markers to write a personal message.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Cards

I am consistently late with everything I do.  I don't really know why, I'm sure there are deep seated psychological reasons somewhere.   Who cares?   I just say that to preface the fact that yes,  I know that starting a project like making fabric Christmas cards, which I've never done, on the 8th of December is a bit silly.

Nonetheless I happily assembled my stash of holiday fabric, along with a collection of newly acquired sparkley fabrics (Can you believe JoAnn was selling red and green lame- like stuff for $3.50  a yard last weekend??  Bonanza. Also found a great silver lame remnant at an equally great price...  What's the matter with people don't they know quality when they see it????  ;)

So here's the selection, all backed with Misty-Fuse and ready to start snipping and fusing.   Also came up with some sketchy ideas for Xmas trees, and other themes.
What's the big hurry?

Friday, December 3, 2010

"A Beacon in the Darkness"

That's the melodramatic title I gave the city hall piece.  It seems to fit the drama of the spotlights and clouds.

I was prepared and looking for it, though I wasn't sure what gallery it would be in.  It was still a shock to walk in and see it right there on the wall.   There was a bright spotlight focused on it, and it seemed to glow, just as I'd intended.   I'm pretty happy.  I like the way the feathery fabric looks like dark clouds, and I'm glad I went to the trouble to add the lights, they help the "glowing" effect.  All that quilting on the glass block windows was not worth the time, it should probably have had a more contrasting thread color, but I was scared it would  look too dark...  and it would have been nice to take the time to adjust the background color on the scultpture prints to match the stone color better.  They stand out too much.  

Here it is...

I would have been totally anonymous and just slinked away, but I  happened to see Katie there in front of it, which was a nice coincidence, since she'd helped me get some information about the sculptures.

Here's an enlargement of the photo.  Too washed out by the spotlight plus flash.  I STILL don't have a good clear picture.

FFFC #51 - One Shape

Here are some progress photos from my work on this months' FFFC.  It is based on a partial section of the doodle I posted previously.  I finished piecing it last night, although I had to cheat on the red squares, the inner ones are fused onto the back of the piece, I couldn't figure out how to neatly piece them in.  
The close up shows the faint guidelines that I will use for quilting and hopefully for couching some red cording over the nautilus shape.    The challenge is due at 9 am tomorrow, but I want to take the time to quilt it properly, not rush to meet some arbitrary deadline.  Typically people seem to be posting throughout the day on Saturday, but I have too many other things on my agenda,  I will be lucky to finish it by Sunday night.   I TRIED to keep it simple, I just couldn't seem to do it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Golden Rectangle

My piece for FFFC is a geometric pattern created from the golden section/rectangle.

I really enjoy just playing with geometry on Autocad to see what interesting patterns I can create.  Here's the one I like, that I am trying to piece...
It's not very readable, because I had to print and then scan it.  I don't know how to post a .pdf on this blog.  Anyway,  I didn't feel well, and slept a lot today, so now at 10 pm I'm starting to assemble something... 
The shell sections are gray, the in between is black and the tiny squares will be red.  Then I HOPE to couch red cord over the shell outline.   That will be the fun part.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I won something!

Every month at quilt guild, every week at Rotary, I buy those raffle tickets... do I ever win, no!   So what a surprise it was to see my name at the top of the list of giveaway winners on Quilt Inspiration first thing this morning.  Now THAT's the way to start off a Monday!  I'm one of those people who NEVER seem to win anything.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010


5:00 -  it's turned in.  To say it was done would be an exaggeration.   I had to rush faster and faster, and got to the point where I needed to attach the sleeve and wire, and didn't have time to sew it, and the wire wouldn't stay wrapped around the dowel.   The nice gallery lady thought I needed heavier wire, and let me have some, as well as loaning some wire cutters.  But the wire was not the problem, it was the sleeve falling off, and the attachment to the dowel.

Well,  if they send it back rather than show it  I won't be surprised.  I wish I'd taken one more minute to get a better photograph but I was afraid they'd be locking the door at 4:01.   Here are the only ones I took:

At least it's an item knocked off the UFO list.  And this evening I finished off the name tag too.

T-4.5 hours

An hour gone by -  I've completed the photo-transfer sheet design, my entry form, label, and reviewed the submission requirements yet again.

I named the piece, "Beacon in the Darkness,"  thought that captured the idea of the sculptures, the city hall as a place for all citizens.

Also decided it would be really cool if the it was cut out yellow fabric showed thru the lanterns.  Why do I always make more work for myself?

3:45 - Deliver
3:00 - 3:45  Sleeve, wood, wire, labels
2:30 - 3:00  Backing
12:39 - 2:30  Quilting
11:30 - 12:39  Attach transfers and prepare sandwich  - Check! (9 min. late)
10:30 - 11:30 - Layout transfers  -  Check!

T-5.5 hours

No time for posting progress photos.  No time for blogging, really.   It's 10:30.   I helped paint and helped SO with his job yesterday.  Somethings you just gotta do.  He's not really very supportive of this latest "deadline" I've created for myself.

The lettering is done, and  I pieced the sky last night (did some stupid things that made it harder and less fusing)  and am now working on the photo transfer design.  And the submission requirements.

1.  print photo transfers
2. apply them to quilt
3.  sandwich
4.  baste
5. quilt
6. pillow -style backing - no time to bind
7.  attach hanging sleeve
8.  get wood and attach wire
9.  entry forms attached.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I might make it after all

I'm feeling a little better.   I got this done last night:

Yes, I still have to:
Piece the sky and spotlight
Design, transfer and cut out and fuse the lettering
Take better photos
do the photo transfers
assemble it
quilt it
bind it
make a hanger....  
well I was feeling better until I wrote all that out.

At the same time, I've created a design for FFFC #51...  using only golden rectangles and the arcs from constructing them:

Wish I could post PDFs here, but I don't really want to fuss with the computer right now.  I have to think about how to make them come out right with added seam allowances, how to finish the uneven edges, etc. etc.  but in the spirit of FAST I'm going to run with it.

I have also got my guild name tag almost ready to wear.
 I need to make a clasp system for a future beaded neck loop then I can assemble it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What was I thinking?

I'm starting to see no way that I can finish this City Hall quilt in time to submit it by Saturday.  Especially since I've committed to having Thanksgiving at my house that will kill all day Thursday.  I should be working on the house Friday, not a quilt.  I'm still piecing, then I need to apply the photos, sandwich, quilt, bind.... what WAS I thinking???

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Progress on City Hall

  Starting to make some progress on City Hall.  After several proportional disasters, this one started to look better:

Here's how to do some cool Art Deco carved text - sort of:

Color study:

And finally sewing some fabric!

Challenge 51 is out early!

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the US FFFC has issued this month's challenge almost a week early... so yes, more time, but also more to think about.

When I saw the topic -  Use only one shape - I immediately thought of the golden rectangle, which I had just been looking at last night.  I was hoping to proportion my City Hall project that way, but it wouldn't work out well.   So now I know what to use for FFFC #51 and how to pay tribute to my partner Jim Zervas who passed away recently.   He thought the Golden Section was an important way to achieve harmony in architectural design, and used it to create our company logo.  We've tinkered with it over the 49 1/2 years, but the shell has always stayed intact.

Some of the example links in the challenge post showed a mathematician who uses the GS in her quilts, so I won't be the only genius to come up with the idea.  I'm not sure how I can make this more personal an about Jim, but I have some time to think about that.  Something more creative that sticking his face in the middle or embroidering words... hm.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I'm trying to make some progress toward something quilty, despite the little and big glitches, deaths, job changes, holidays...    I tried to think about how to make art about my sadness at the death of our partner, but I'm not ready for that.

So I have all the beads and threads to start embellishing "Thorny" sitting beside the couch.  

But instead of doing that, I've been designing the City Hall quilt.  It's taken about ten days of stolen minutes to collect up (and buy) the fabric colors I want to use, study some photos and renderings of the era, make sketches combining those with elements of the real City Hall,
then drafting those out to scale in Autocad.  I thought I was going to make it 24 x 36 until I saw how large that was.  It can't possibly have enough detail to be interesting at that scale, so I cut it down to 18 x 24.  I guess I have scale issues.    I tinkered with the drafted version to make it into piece-able shapes, and I think I'm finally ready to start playing with the fabric.  It's due one week from today.   And I just volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More UFO's

I had a feeling I was forgetting something...  I also have my Moonlight quilters name tag to finish before the next meeting, and a "friendship block" that should be done by January.   But that's just one 12" pieced block... Nametag's done except the assembly.  so how hard can it be, right?  But it does technically bring me to over ten UFO's.

The little time I had to get into sewing this evening I appliqued down the pieces of Thorny, and quilted about half of it.    Since the batting is cut too short, and I don't really care enough to fiddle with it,  I'm just going to consider it  a practice piece for now.   The free motion sewing felt really jerky - the darning foot seemed to be grabbing too much, even though the pressure was reduced.  I see in the instruction manual that there are some other free motion stitches.  I need to try those out, I guess.  It's pretty subtle.  I think I will embellish it with some beads and embroidery.

Maybe I'll eventually put some of this stuff on Etsy for a very reasonable price and see if anyone shows any interest.  I have not set up my "Shop" on their yet, since I have nothing to sell.

I did spend some time Friday night and a little Saturday morning on the City Hall quilt idea.  In fact I got a fairly solid design idea pinned down.  And I have colors that I would like to use.  But don't really have fabrics in the right colors yet.   This one is due the 27th, and that's a hard fast deadline.  And it will be publicly exhibited.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to do next?

Despite the backlog of nine UFO's I'm considering which NEW project to start next.  Am I nuts?  Apparently.  Our daughter in law saw my bag last weekend and really liked it, so she asked if I would make a larger version as a diaper bag for her sister's baby shower.   I have been wanting to play around with that pattern anyway, so I liked the idea, but the shower is very soon.

I really want to enter that open exhibit that our local art museum is sponsoring.  I have only a conceptual idea and it's due the 27th.

The FFFC will be back around on the 26th.

Artitude challenge for October is on the table needing quilting and embellishing, the challenge for November still resides only in my brain, and is not really clear there.

Almost forgot - vague plans to make "something" for Christmas gifts and my own decorations...  placemats? advent calender for the kids?

And we have a memorial service to plan.   Sigh.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I have had no time to quilt this week as there was a commitment every evening after work, quilt guild and book club are both on the second week of the month now, and last night was a Rotary dinner... sigh.  I just don't want to give up any of these activities.

I have been debating about creating a piece for a show here in town  - the parameters are pretty specific but details somewhat vague.  I've emailed to see if they will accept a fiber art entry at all - I'd hate to put all the effort into something just to be turned away.  But it is due on the 27th, so it would be another Fast piece... size limit is 36 inches, though so that will keep it a little under control...

My screen saver this week has been a photo I took at a free motion quilting class - maybe I will absorb this by osmosis?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Found Quilts!

I was so happy to come upon the exhibit at Mindport by the Island Quilters at last night's art walk.  I was just starting to wonder whether there were any art quilt enthusiasts in our area,  and there was a beautiful exhibit of these three women's work.  It's two blocks from my office, so I will be taking some sanity breaks to absorb more details during the two months it will be on display.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I've decided to use Thorny for my Artitude challenge #1.  It's a still life,  I guess.

Living Vicariously...

... through the blogosphere.  I'm trying to imagine how much fun it must be to attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston.   I think I would have been totally overwhelmed, but in a good way.   One of my favorite posts and quilts so far is the amazing “Ruffled Feathers” by Roxanne Nelson, shown here on Susan Brubaker Knapp's blog.   

I keep saying I don't want to do photo-realistic work, yet those are the pieces that keep grabbing my interest....hmmm.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

ICE is done!

Although the "deadline" was 9 am yesterday, I was just aiming to get it done this weekend.  Making and attaching the icicles was easy, and free-motioning quilting them with silver thread was really fun.  But when I started trying to do more free-motion on the snow I started having trouble with the thread breaking and not being able to make nice smooth lines.  So I relapsed into straight-line walking foot quilting.  One of the quilts I admired most from this challenge made good use of parallel lines, but they were undulating with the landscape.  Mine at least accentuated the verticality  of the icicles, but they are too geometric for my taste.

I wrote more about it on the FFFC site.   Goals I achieved: getting done quickly.  Trying to be more abstract... some, not much, but at least not copying a photograph.  Trying metallic thread.  good on the ice, not so good on the snow.  Staying with 12 x 12 -  I already hacked a lot off the top to get it to this size, it just didn't WANT to be square.

Ran out of thread on the blue:  Note to self, those little teensy spools have about four feet of thread on them.

P.S.  I even finished the binding, traditional style, in between handing out treats Halloween night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

FFFC #50 In Progress

Here's where I am on this month's challenge:

 The haiku I decided to go with is this:

sky painfully blue  
icicle piercing my heart
his disdain for me

I think it's a good haiku, and I sort of like the quilt, but I don't think that the quilt illustrates the poem.   The poem is about emotional coldness as well as seasonal cold.  I think that the icicle might not have been the best metaphor to represent that, because mental images of happy "winter wonderlands" are evoked by the icicle image.   

I started out with several goals this month.  (1) to finish within or reasonably close to the deadline, not a month later.  (2) in order to achieve (1),  keep it much simpler, and (3) work more abstractly (4) keep all my pieces at a consistent 12 x 12 size. 

I think I'll be successful on 1 & 2, but not 3 & 4.  This piece is more abstract than Cloister, but it's still pretty representational.  I started just trying to do something with silvery slashes cutting through the bright blue, but it was just sort of "shapes" that didn't really evoke anything.

So I decided on the sparkly fabric and the icicle shapes.  It seemed to need more background, and I was visualizing a windswept white plain somewhere in the far north, where even the sun, when it peeks over the horizon, is cold and blue.

The fabric representing the snow is white with blue spots, and it has snowflakes printed in white-on-white.  They were also a little too "happy" but I decided to use it because they're only very faintly visible.    I kept the icicle pieces long and planned to cut them off after deciding on an arrangement.    But it looked silly cropped down to a square - the whole icicle-ness of an icicle is how long and thin it is.  So I'm going to keep it at about 12 x 18.  

I now have to decide how to quilt it - I have not got any specific ideas yet, so I'm browsing through other FFFC entries for inspiration. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Priorities again

Once again, life seems to have taken priority over quilting.   The plan for the weekend was to spend Saturday helping the Other shop for an purchase all the technological accouterments needed for his new business, and Sunday would be a little bit of housework and then sewing.   But the "little bit" burgeoned into changing the winter/summer clothes around, more time on the Rotary paperwork monster, clearing out the dead plants and putting away the pots on the deck, cleaning bird cages, washing dog cookie drool from the wood floor, washing rugs and bedding, which then led to repairing the velcro on the duvet (at least I fired up the sewing machine for that) ...   Sigh.  Then there was for some reason more than the usual neuro. pain that slowed me down, and sapped my motivation in the evening.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FFFC #50 is on!

I love the new challenge for October.  It is to make a piece that interprets the feelings of a haiku.  You can either write one or find one that inspires you, but if you write it's requested that you use the traditional 5 -7 -5 format.  It's NOT to start with a quilt or idea, then write about it.  In addition, technique-wise we are to feature "stitchery" either machine or hand.   Hmmm.

I wrote three possible haiku last night, but I'm not sure if I'll go with them.   I was very tired so they just sort of came partially out of my subconscious, and they are a bit negative...

Some aspects of Haiku are that they often invoke or reference seasons, or at least nature, and that they use the most simple, direct words rather than big complicated words, analogies or metaphors... at least that's what I'm understanding.

On the sewing front,  Yesterday I posted Cloister on my Facebook page and got more comments than I ever have before - and they were all nice  :)  I also got an extremely nice, complementary e-mail from fellow FFFC member.

Thursday was busy helping the Other with computer oriented tasks,  but I did get my hands on the rotary cutter for a half hour, and cut out the pieces for my Moonlight Quilters nametag.    Maybe some sewing tonight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FFFC #49 Complete

Here is the quilted version of Cloister.  Overall I'm happy with it, considering it's my first real art quilt, and my first attempt to work from a photograph.  I really wanted to try to incorporate some of the great suggestions in the critiques, but I also knew I could dicker around with it forever, so in the spirit of Fast FFC, I set tonight as my deadline.  I think the quilting lines improved it, but I thought there were too many lines, and they were overcoming the small piece, so I didn't do any quilting in the central tan area.  I used a pillowcase binding/backing because it was quick and unobtrusive, but I'm not happy about the lumpy corners.  But it's done and I'm ready for the next challenge!


Realizing that the next FFFC is coming out TOMORROW panicked me into action last night.   I really wanted to finish Challenge #49 before #50 came out.   I did a lot of quilting on it - did the leaves, the red brick and the brown archway.  (Will add a pic tonight)  All that's left is the dark red stone area - which is very puffy as a result of quilting all the areas around it.

Also have a few structural failures where the raw edges pulled away from stitching.   I'm not sure if I should attempt to fix them as it's likely that I will just make it worse.   So I have a late meeting but I should still be able to finish the quilting.  I haven't decided how to finish or bind it. I would like to choose a pillowcase, or maybe a satin stitch method, because the traditional sewn binding takes so long, but I don't want to risk messing it up, either.

Overall I'm not extremely happy with it.  The quilting just created too many busy lines, and overly complicates the image.  It should have been bigger, or less busy, or both.  Oh well, this is all about learning.   I don't expect to be as lucky as the woman who received an offer to buy her first entry!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No quilting this weekend

Once again, life got in the way of quilting.  But I had a great, full day in Vancouver yesterday with two old friends and one new one.  I've known Christina and Larry since my first year in Syracuse, 1978.  Thanks to Christina's diligence we've stayed in touch on and off for thirty-two years.   I'm not sure that's possible since we all look exactly the same as we did then, but that's what the calendar is telling us.  Larry's sister Kathy, who I've only briefly met was along for a quick vacation from Buffalo, too.   We had a fun day, including the Anthropology Museum at UBC, Purdy's Chocolates, and dinner at a great Indian restaurant.  It was good to catch up, and again, I wonder why I don't go to Vancouver more often?

That was my good excuse for the first half of the weekend.  I'm not quite sure where today went.  Helping G. write a resume, book shopping in Fairhaven, tackling the paper monster inhabiting my desk, paperwork, filing, bills, and Seahawks football game.  That's where, I guess.   I did manage to sketch out the still life, finally, for my Artitude Challenge group.   But I'm a bit afraid that group is not coalescing.  And we're having trouble posting photos to the blog, which will make it "challenging"  ha. ha.  Sorry.

And, somehow, the October FFFC is coming up this week - bcs. there are too many Fridays in October, I guess.  I'm not done with the last piece.

Sadly, I've done very little sewing since I got the new machine, and the free motion work I did on the Orange Chair has some serious tension issues.  I think I was pulling up on the fabric, maybe.  But it was disappointing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NQR (Not Quilting Related)

I am so happy with the new paint colors on our little rental house.  I just have to share some before and after pcitures:


I am sooooo excited! I finally weakened and bought myself a new (to me) sewing machine.  I sincerely feel like art quilting is something I want to throw my heart and soul into, and the little ole' Singer Simple was just not cut out for what I am doing.   I was worried my SO would think I was nuts, but he was really supportive.    "You've got to have the proper tools to do a good job at whatever you do," was his attitude.  (I wonder if this means a new table saw is coming along soon?? LOL.  He deserves it).

So ANYWAY -  I got a used Janome MemoryCraft 6600.  It's nothing super fancy but everything about it is light years ahead of where I was.  I can't wait to get home and sew tonight.   What a geek.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guild Tonight

Tonight is the Moonlight Quilter's Guild meeting, but I'm not close to finishing the chair.  I spent most of the weekend driving from errand to errand, it seems, and being frustrated at every turn.  The cheap paint scraper I bought kept dropping the blade on the ground (while I was on the ladder).   Chrome decided that Continental Airlines is not a safe site and shut itself down loosing all my data twice.  I had to fall back on IE.  Horrors!  But I did finally get the Honduras trip booked.

I got to the Chair at 7 pm last night.   As I feared, quilting the entire chair outline first made for some bumps and tucks as I tried to do the inside.  Plus the thread kept breaking or tangling.  I hated the way the taupe colored Metrolene showed up on the orange so I ripped that out a few times.   I finally quit in frustration and switched to free-motion quilting the background, which went much better,  for a while.  Then that started tangling too.

So that's as far as I am.  I don't know what the protocol for show and tell is,  if I should not bring an incomplete piece... I'll take it and see if I need to hide it under my seat.

I did have one inspiration after I got it all re-ironed out.  Since it is an upholstered CHAIR I can add some additional puffy batting into the spots that are too loose, and give it more thickness.

Maybe I'll get to come home at lunch!  I'm meeting A. at 5:00 for dinner before the meeting,  so there's no time left.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Still LIfe

Selected objects (so far) for the October Artitude Challenge  "Still Life."  Now how do I arrange them?    I really want to try more abstract forms instead of trying to replicate reality.  But I'm not sure how to make that leap...   Hmmm.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sewing day

Today was my big day to finally have some time to sew.  I got home from the Rotary garage sale by 11:00 and after a brief "clean-up-and-organize" session I started with quilting on "Cloister" a bit more.  Who would think that a simple 12 x 12 piece of fabric could take this much time and effort?

I still have to do quite a bit more, but after an hour or so I suddenly got bored and put it aside.  I picked up the Dear Jane project instead.  I watched this tutorial on paper piecing about 6 times before finally getting the hang of it, But when I did, it was really fun.  My first piece is slightly wonky but I think I can live with it.   I'm not sure how I'll ever do these little teensy tiny ones, though!

Last night I worked on the Orange Chair for awhile.  I was able to finish zigzagging the outline, and to do a little bit of hand work on one of the raw appliqué pieces. 

 Given the time that took, I will probably be reducing the amount of hand detail I put on it.  At least before Monday.   If I want to show it Monday, I have to finish quilting and binding this weekend.  ACK! I was working on that other stuff - uh why???

Tried a little more hand embroidering, but the glued/fused chair is not holding up to that handling.  I have to machine quilt that down before I do more, but don't want to interfere with the football game/nap.  So, I might as well piece another Dear Jane.  I did this one with strips, but I see why people like paper piecing.  I am picking off all the easy ones first, and am still not very exact.  I hope I am close enough.  I wish I'd saved this dark fabric for one of the less bold blocks.