The Heavens declare the glory of God…(Psalm 19:1)
Wow! This week with the eclipse and spending that time with my 14 year-old grandson Kevin was soooo special! We had eighty-five percent of the eclipse in a pure clear sky with the birds and the noisy cicadas in the woods behind us. His parents, who are serious astronomy hobbyists, headed down to Tennessee to get in a total eclipse area, but he did not want to spend that long in the car. The traffic for them was aweful and they had to spend an extra night in a motel on the way home, so he clearly made the right choice for him and it gave me and his uncle David a real special time together with Kevin even though it was not total here. I am told Ken got some photos to process of the eclipse. I am looking forward to seeing them.
This comes at an interesting time in my quilting life, because I am trying to line up a couple of new deep space quilts to fill out my space series inspired by the fabulous photos found in the NASA gallery. The pictures have to be copyright free for me. I have tried a couple of times to get in touch with the astronomers whose pictures NASA sometimes shows that are copyrighted and they simply ignore my inquiries. But there are many many magnificent copyright free photos available to use for the basis of new quilts. I will probably also include a couple of space quilts that may use other techniques inspired by Ken’s (oldest son, Kevin’s Dad) and Beth’s (his wife) photography and ideas. I am planning on writing about making space quilts and including all of these in the book. This will probably be a part of my ongoing project of Art Quilt Basics: Surface Design and Embellishment that I hope to get published this year. These quilts are practically all surface design and embellishment with organic, but well planned, quilting. They are very hard to photograph because of all the light reflection, but I leave that to Ken, who does a credible job on it.
So I am currently on the hunt for my next deep space quilt photo inspirations. If you have a favorite, let me know in a comment but do it soon, because I’m going to start working on this next space quilt very soon. 😄
I hope you are all having fun with your art, sewing, or quilting. I’m busy drawing up a couple of new ideas and making sampler quiltlets to include in my book project Art Quilt Basics: Machine Quilting for Art Quilters (this book starts with the very basics for machine quilting (both feed dogs up and free motion) and moves through the process ending with a discussion and ideas specific for art quilters.
Sew happy everyone! Make yourselves a stack of small quilt sandwiches and play. You’ll be surprised how much fun it is…use all your machines. You will benefit by improving your skills and having a lot of fun too. Cheers.
Yesterday (Saturday, 10 June), I led a workshop on basic machine quilting at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland. This workshop was held in the Bernina Department where part one of my quilt exhibition is being displayed.
When I walked into the area I was overwhelmed. There were 17 students (with several students at each machine) of varying ages and my quilts all around the walls. It was the first time I had seen this part of my exhibit. (The second part begins in mid July and it all runs through August.)
This workshop was much more intense and went much faster than even I had anticipated, and I had thought that there was definitely not enough time to cover what I wanted to. I managed to get a short introductory lecture, show my samplers, and provide initial instructions done and they had a handout also to follow. We were off and running. Here I am (or some large older woman..LOL) demoing on G Street’s new Bernina Q20 sitdown floor model. I was describing what I was doing.
I was swamped with questions. Many of them had nothing to do with the workshop but were centered on my quilts showing all around the walls, but many of them were related to the task at hand. We went an hour long, and I think that it could easily have gone even further. I walked around to see what each student was doing, and found that most of them had done very well, and several of them had obviously done this before. Even after the class was broken up, I had several people asking questions. I liked that, though, but I was really tired.
I managed to squeeze in a little couple of those tiny cheeses and a banana snack, but I think I ate someone else’s banana that was near me, because I found the one I took in my bag when I got home (with apologies). It is possible I brought two bananas, but I don’t think so. 😄😳
Sew what did I learn for next time (I’m doing this again in the fall)?
- I was well prepared.
- I think I did well in presenting at the beginning.
- I needed to control the question periods better, but I had little problem answering the questions at least.
- I needed to either provide separate classes for early machine quilters and more advanced machine quilters, or provide some exercises that these more advanced quilters may have found more interesting (although I did not get any negative feedback)
- I need to schedule more time than I did for this one.
- I need to schedule a break for me in the middle.
- I need to finish my books.
- I really enjoyed it.
Those of you who teach, and those of you who took the class, do you have other suggestions?
I’ve been making art quilts now on a serious basis for about 10 years and full time for five!
It surprised me when I realized that. While thinking about that and looking at my bulging and dripping over stash storage, I realize that my quilt needs have changed as I developed my styles over the past ten years.
So how has it changed?
I have enormously increased my thread stash over the years, and recently I jaw-droppingly won Superior Threads giveaway of 30 cones of all 30 colors of their new Microquilter 100 weight. This is a thread I will use a lot and recognized when they introduced it that if it was as good as I expected that I would want a lot of it. What a nice thing! Thanks Superior! So I bought new cone holder to accommodate that. I store my smaller spools in the plastic drawers where I used to store more fabric. I would have a hard time adding much thread into my stash now. I am thankful for this stash and expect to use most of it over the next few years. I use a lot of thread in my wall art quilts.
I had originally stocked in a lot of Oriental fabric prints, story prints, and landscape prints in the strong reds, browns, and blues I really love.
I have increased those fabrics that are either solid or read solid, and I also have large quantity of blacks and whites, and I even have a lot of prepared for dye fabrics. Truly, I could use bolts of blacks, whites, and solid dark blues. I recently used up a bolt of black and had to buy some more.
I still love landscape fabrics, and have lots of plans for those.
I originally told myself I would never paint a quilt. Sew how has it happened that paints, inks, and other fabric markers have grown into a big stash…not huge, but big? He he he he.
Then there are crystals, beads, and sequins, which I use mostly on space and ancient manuscript quilts with a crystal or two on some of my others. These are small and take little space, but I use them up rapidly when I make one deep space quilt. I don’t buy a lot ahead because it is so expensive. I do watch for big sales in bulk though.
I can’t seem to keep enough stabilizers and battings in stock, since I use them a lot and mostly buy them as I need them, so those spaces are about the same.
I plan on a little stash busting by making a quilt for my bed and maybe a couple of lap quilts for my home and a charity quilt or two from the parts of the stash I no longer anticipate using in professional art quilts.
I will be reducing my stashes throughout this year. The last time I did this was about five years ago when I retired and started full time, and it held up well, but is once again in need of some attention.
I refuse to let myself add more storage, because I have plenty to keep enough fabrics, threads, and paints to last me the rest of my life! I must reduce what I have to make it all fit again and make room for the few things I need for specific projects that aren’t already there. This will be an ongoing effort for the next several months, I think…maybe longer.
Sew I am well stocked for quilting and sewing, though I could use more cotton-silk Radiance and a few more neutrals.
With apologies to those of you who are interested, I will be late in my promise for part two of our stylized landscape project next steps. I have to work through the background to get pictures and maybe even videos and that is taking longer than I anticipated. Nevertheless, I will get part two done in this month.
Sew how has your stash changed since you started this activity? Do you need to reduce or add or both? I would love to hear from you about this.
I am enjoying a new fabric adventure into the world of exhibiting of the body of my art quilting work at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, which is a two-part exhibit. The first part is in the Bernina section of the store. The second part will start in mid-July and my quilts will be displayed throughout the store. I believe this part will run for an additional two months and I am hoping to complete several new quilts for this part. So in effect, my quilts will be on display from now through August.
Yesterday I took eight of my quilts over to the store for part one. This part includes all three of my Ancient Manuscript quilts, four of my Hoffman Challenge quilts that demonstrate my growth as a quilter from 2008 to 2013, and Dad’s House Plan from 2013. I had such a good time while I was there and am very excited about this two-part exhibit. I am honored that G Street Fabrics wants to do this exhibit for me.
In June, I will be teaching a three hour workshop on quilting there at G Street…primarily free motion quilting but I am also going to briefly talk about quilting with a walking foot. Sometime while my quilts are there I will be providing a walking lecture around the store to talk about my quilts and related things in the store.
G Street is a wonderful store. It is getting better all the time after it clearly moved to save itself from failing. It closed two stores in Virginia to my chagrin and moved from it’s old Rockville location to its new one. The new store is less showy and slightly smaller than the old Rockville one, but I looked over it yesterday and found it has a fine selection of fabrics and notions and seemed busy again. It also has a kind of interesting atmosphere similar to some fabric stores I encountered in New York years ago…not flashy, but full of wonderful things for the sewist, quilter, and fabric artists of all kinds. The Bernina section is in a setting like its own store, and it has a wonderful set of classrooms for teaching. They have a Bernina Q24 longarm set up in the store that is available for in-store rental of time on the longarm. And Lew is the best Bernina tech I have ever encountered over my many years of sewing on Berninas. I encourage you to go pay it a visit if you are ever in the area, or even make a trip there if you are close enough. You can even order from them online.
Sew happy everyone! I hope you can make it to G Street and see my exhibits. I better get to work…I have several new quilts in the works for the second part of the exhibit!
I just came home all inspired by a delightful few days at Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival where I had “Pendragon”. I put together some of my pictures from the show. Here is a link to the picture file: Smugmug/MAQF 17
I stayed a day longer than I usually do for this show and it gave me lots of time to see every quilt, take all four lectures I was interested in and see the Show and Tell that I usually miss. I also did a lot of shopping. Well, afterall, my 70th birthday will be this coming Friday on March 3rd, so I gave myself some presents…threads, new rulers (a set of circles and a set of ovals), and one of those spinning cutting mats among a few additional small items.
Pendragon did not place, but I believe it to be mostly because the theme of the show was modern quilting and that quilt has nothing to say that is even remotely modern quiltish. I still believe it is a ribbon worthy quilt, so we will see what it does in the future. I decided to see if they would include it anyway because I sort of consider MAQF my main show. It is within driving distance and I have relatives in the area, so going there is always a treat for me. I did get some nice comments from the judges:
Your original design effective in telling your story; Embroidery well executed; Piecing well done; Quilting motifs compliments the design; Quilt hangs flat and square; Back of quilt should be free of loose threads and lint” (note: I sticky rolled it and examined it with my big magnifying lamp when I packed it…lint may have happened on their end. That backing fabric I used was a little lint grabbing…not using that again).
A New Page Is Turned
Now, however, I am turning a page on my work. From here I am focusing on the quilt work itself, and on figuring out how to pass on what I have learned even as I maintain my studio artist status (not a lot of travel, a little teaching within driving distance, writing books and creating tutorials), rather than so much focus on the competition work. I will still enter shows, and still plan on making show quilts (they teach me a lot and give me a chance to stretch my work), but it’s an attitude and work flow adjustment in my studio that is on this nice new page in my life. You can see more about this in one of my past blogposts here.
There are lots of definitions of “antique”. The one I like the best for this discussion is “an object such as … a work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age.” Tomorrow (Friday, March 3rd), I will be 70 years old. I am a work (in progress) maybe even a “work of art” and have considerable age. I think every human being has high value…so there you are. I could probably be called “an antique” fabric artist. I feel physically great (have also lost some weight recently and hope to lose more) and I believe I am as mentally alert as ever (always a little daphy). Many of my ancestors lived well into their hundreds. I have a wonderful plan for my future and my kids are nearby. My studio is well stocked, and my fleet of machines is wonderful and in good working order. I’m excited about the future. Thank the good Lord and I hope you will continue to join me on my quilting journey.
One of the things I am going to begin on this blog post is a regular short tutorial (every week or month?). This week’s tutorial is answering a question I got a lot at the show…how I made the chain mail on my characters in Pendragon using Bernina v7. I haven’t yet gotten v8, but I suspect this would work there also.
Digitizing Chain Mail for Small Applique (Or using special fills to create what you want)
I wanted to make the characters’ chain mail shirts look right, and decided the best approach was to digitize the chain mail in my Bernina v7 software and embroider it in the hoop. This took me a while to discover how to do it. I think I spent two or three days on figuring this out, but I just did a chain mail heart shape and took snap pictures for this tutorial all in about three minutes. So I thought I’d share this with you in case you wanted to create something special with interesting fills and shapes. Using Bernina v7 software:
- Draw a closed shape…you can put the picture in the art canvas side and trace it on the embroidery side
- Right click on the object and bring up the Object Properties dialogue box.
- I had to turn my shirts upside down and move them around to get the wave fill to match where the parts of the wave needed to be to show the expansion and contraction of the chain…like a shirt on a beautifully muscled knight. 😀 I also gave each shirt their own color to help me figure out which belonged where when complete. I embroidered them all in Superior Fantastico 5169..a silvery variegated gray on black fabric. I cut them out close to the embroidery and glued them on with Roxanne basting glue and blanket stitched the edges in the same thread to give them a finish.
So there you are. I can see this method working for a wide variety of appliques and purposes. The software is so flexible, but finding out how to do something you want to do that is a little different can take time.
On Upcoming Events:
- For the month of May and a couple of weeks into June, G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, is hosting an exhibit of my quilts. I will have one day where I will provide a walking lecture tour of my approximately 15 quilts that will be placed around the store. I’ll let you know when that is.
- In June, I will be providing a workshop on machine quilting at G Street.
- My quilt “Drawing Nigh” will be at AQS in Lancaster, PA, March 20-April 1. If you attend and see my quilt, let me know.
Sew happy everyone. Focus on your creative projects to have the most fun, put in your best effort, learn a little bit, and share, and don’t let it stress you out. I would really appreciate comments.
Whew! You haven’t heard from me here for a while because I was finishing making the quilt my son Ken designed for me to add to my Ancient Manuscript series in a marathon of quilt making and got my entry into the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival (MAQF) just under the wire of the deadline. This quilt is a tribute to King Arthur and the knights of the round table and is now named “Pendragon“. I have been working nearly full time on this quilt since last March, with just a few breaks here and there. Without question it was the most difficult quilt I’ve ever made, but I was so happy to make it and am quite happy with its outcome. I made this quilt for the love of my son, but I am going to enter it as extensively as possible in quilt shows so my friends and other quilt lovers can see it. I will be posting photos of this quilt sometime in February along with a short series of blog posts on making the quilt.
I had planned on entering Drawing Nigh into MAQF, but it unexpectedly got into AQS Lancaster, and so will not be available for MAQF.
Today, I’m sewing the rod pocket and label onto Pendragon, and trying to rest my creaking quilting muscles. No one will ever convince me that intense quilting like this is not something of a sport…it requires practice, muscles, sweat, blood, tears, and determination, and a marathon of such quilting leaves me tired and a bit achy…but I’ll recover.
Sew next I will be working on several less taxing quilts to go into my exhibit at G Street Fabrics in Rockville in the spring. It should be really fun and I can provide photos of those along the way.
Sew happy everyone! Will I see you at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival?
I have made some adjustments in my thinking about my fabric art direction over the last few months that will lead to my putting less focus on competition art quilting and more on the adventure of making art as fabulous as I can. You may not see much difference, because I probably will continue to enter some of my work into shows, but the emphasis in my studio and in my mind is more on the art work and less on the show work.
I am very excited about this because I have so many things I want to try to make and I want to share with you, gentle readers, what I learn along the way.
This new direction came about because two quilts of mine that I know are quite show worthy and people would emjoy seeing them, were both rejected from Road to California 2017. That puzzled me (I have several theories about this, but I won’t share them here). They are wonderful quilts and deserved to be in the show. Here they are:
Yes, I know all the things that are said about this by friends trying to comfort me (I am not upset, by the way. It is a good thing that helped me think I needed to move in new directions)…”make what you love”, “even if they are rejected it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your quilt”, “they probably had too many in that category”, and so on. I appreciate it. But think about this: It costs money to enter a show, and my desire when I enter is chiefly to share my quilts with people.
If I win something it is icing on the cake, so not to get into a show is really harder for me to take than not placing. I used to clearly understand it if my quilt was rejected, since I was such a junior quilt maker and I could see the problems in the quilts myself. But my recent quilts are flat, square, quilted well, full of impact, individual, good designs, and worthy of sharing.
So I have decided to loosen my focus on shows a bit and look for new ways to share my quilts, sell my quilts, and share what I have learned (books, classes within driving distance, this blog, and so forth). I am having an exhibit of my quilts next spring at G Street Fabrics in Rockville. I still will try to get some quilts in if I think they fit well in a particular show, because that is the best way to share them with more people. But that will not be my focus for making a new quilt. I have so many quilts I want to make…fabric and thread experiments I want to try…digital to fabric experiments…and embellishment and applique adventures I want to go on. Without having to worry about the judges, I will have more freedom (though they will all still be made to show quality). It is so exciting.
I am currently working on my wonderful oldest son Ken’s design he gave me for my birthday in March. This quilt has taken me longer in actual hours than any other quilt so far. I have at last completed the central pictorial theme this week, made all the special border pieces and the text box. I only have to cover a tiny cord for inclusion in the quilt and I will be putting together all the pieces of the top very soon. I already have figured out how I am going to quilt it once I get it to that stage, and with my wonderful new Bernina Q20 (Fritz), I expect that to go well and faster than past quilts. I am hoping to get that into Houston next fall, since it’s always been intended as a show quilt, and if I do, I will hope to attend the show myself.
In addition to the creation of fabric art, I am planning on blogging several series of how-tos like my recent five-parter here, including one with a few months of a step-of-the-month project. I will be teaching some classes at G Street Fabrics in Rockville next year, and will be looking for other nearby possibilities for workshops (I don’t like to fly). I will finally finish writing the three books I already have been working on (Applique for fabric artists, Embellishment and surface design, and Quilting for art quilts) to be published by Fennec Fox Press (my youngest son’s small publishing company).
Sew happy everyone! Join me in this exciting new adventure in 2017!
I am astonished to see that it has been nearly a month since I published my last blog post. In general, I try to publish once a week every weekend, but sometimes I get caught in that time vortex where each week is but a day and each day but an hour…you know the ones I mean. I am just bobbing my head up from the latest whirl as I prepare for Christmas and work to complete some deadlines.
I am waiting on a wish list from my most difficult of all family members to buy a gift for (my oldest son Ken), and if he doesn’t give me one he gets a gift cirtificate. But other than that I have completed my Christmas shopping. I have not yet even started decorating for Christmas. I celebrate Christmas, the birth of my Lord, from Christmas Eve through 6 January. I also celebrate Advent as a time of preparation and reflection. So for me, having the house decorated by about December 20th or so is just about right and in tune with the preparation part of Advent. Yet, the other night I was driving home from being out and saw my whole neighborhood is bright with beautiful Christmas lights. So I think for my neighbors we will endeavor to get our outdoor lights up this week.
My youngest son, David, is under a heavy set of deadlines for his writing. He has been asked to contribute a novelette for a collection of stories that is due by the end of the month, and he has to get it to his editor by the 15th. So I am putting off decorating until he gets that manuscript to his editor. He is a necessary part of this endeavor. After all, someone has to go up that ladder to get the decorations down…LOL.
He also has been asked to be a guest author at a writing/fantasy/sci fi conference (Raven Con in Williamsburg, Virginia) in April, and he has the third book in his Law of Swords series close enough to completion that he wants to get that one published in time to have it in hand for the conference. So snatching a bit of his time here and there is really difficult. But I’m excited for him. His writing is downright magical.
If you haven’t read any of his books, I encourage you to do so even if you don’t normally read fantasy, because they are full of romance, intrigue, and adventure and are so very well written. They would make great Christmas presents too, and talent as deep and wonderful as his is needs supporting. So please buy a book and see what you think.
I have not forgotten the blog this past month. I have been struggling to write a post about the magic of combining today’s wonderful drawing and painting software with fabric art and specifically with art quilting. But I think I’m going to put that one aside because I just can’t get it put together like I want. But believe me, it’s worth the time and money spent to obtain and learn such technologies as Corel Draw, Corel Painter, Bernina Design software, Electric Quilt, and any photographic editing software. With it, you can paint in the computer and print on fabric. You can design in the computer and print a full sized design. You can design your own fabric and have it printed. You can draw a whole quilt and have it printed full sized on wonderful fabric and quilt it. You can digitize your own embroidery items and stitch it out on your embroidery machine.
You can just draw something wonderful and print it out full size and replicate it on your free motion machine (even a treadle machine if that’s how you roll). It’s so exciting and wonderful that it’s almost magical.
And so what are my deadlines, you wonder. Ahhhhh….that’s a good question! Maybe I’ll tell you some of them next time.
Sew happy everyone! I bet you have some kind of artistic software lurking around your computer somewhere. It’s time to learn to use it if you haven’t already as part of your quilting and/or sewing adventure.
I haven’t finished my blog series on quilting for domestic machine artists, but I thought I’d tell you about a coming happening. G Street Fabrics will be hosting an exhibit of my quilts in the spring of 2017.
I have taken a hard look at the quilts I will have available and have decided it would be good if I can make several new quilts for that. I’m excited about this. So I will be backing off from showing my quilts in quilt shows around the country.
I recently purchased a new Shaheen vintage panel and will make a second quilt along the same lines of “Hawaiian Garden” shown below and offer it for sale at the exhibit. The panel is different, but I will be adding a similar border drawing the design from that panel.
In addition to that one, I have some ideas for additional quilts that I think I might be able to make in the time I have. Some of these involve some new techniques I want to try and I will be sharing these with you along the way. I am also going to complete my son Ken’s quilt, and I do plan to enter that one into a show or two, but I want it home for the spring exhibit.
This will be a kind of departure from the direction I have been moving–away from shows and toward other avenues for sharing my work. I have become fairly puzzled by what is going on in the show quilting world recently. Last week two of my best quilts were rejected from Road to California, one of which has already won a ribbon and one that has already been shown in two AQS shows. I was encouraged by the Houston judging by what won. I did not enter this year, but in many, maybe even most, of the other shows the winners and losers have been an absolute puzzle to me. Some of the most exquisite quilts, beautifully designed and quilted, that might remotely be considered an art quilt did not do well, and the winners also seemed surprising.
So I have decided to concentrate on making my quilts equally as well as I would if they were a show quilt, and show or sell them as I can in other avenues, and to work also on my books and teach a few workshops locally. This decision already seems to have unlocked my creativity that felt like it was grinding to a slow halt. I’ll keep you up to date on that in case you are in the area and can come see my quilts or take one of my workshops. I will probably enter something in Houston for 2017, but we’ll see. I will take a new look at this situation after the exhibit or later.
Sew I am happily working away in my studio, perhaps at an even higher level than I have up until now, and we’ll see just how much of the ideas will actually make it on time.
Sew happy everyone. Follow your leanings in your quilting. If you don’t you may find it hard to work.