An Interview Concerning Kitsunes, Wulvers, and Golden Dragons

David A. Tatum

David A. Tatum

For more than the past six years, one of my chief concerns has been to try to help my youngest son David launch his chosen career as a novelist. You’ve no idea how much this means to me.  He’s wanted to be an author all of his life.  He made up his first story when he was about three.  His dad, my dear late husband Marvin, was a book collector and librarian, and had a collection of books on standing stones.  David made up a story about the enormous men who put the standing stones into place.  He grew up surrounded by books with parents who encouraged reading.

David, who has his degree in history, has a marvelous and interesting writing style based on sound research and filled with interesting characters. Even though he has elves, dwarves, and dragons in his first book, In Treachery Forged, they are totally fascinating with characteristics unlike those you might expect. His woman protagonist was blinded as a young girl and has learned to handle life with efficiency and forthrightness.

His delightful  second novel, The Kitsune Stratagem, does not have elves, dwarves, and dragons, but rather its female lead is a young kitsune (a human-fox shape shifting person with remarkable characteristics). It is an exciting story with palace intrigue, fascinating characters, such as wulvers and bunyips, placed in a very interesting world.

This week, he was featured in a blog interview that talks about his writing. You can find it here.   And should you want to read one of these delightful novels you can find all the links to print versions and ebooks here

He has arranged it so if you buy the print version, you can have the kindle ebook version for free.

 

 

Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus for Future Quilts

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sky Horse. A deep space quilt inspired by NASA photos of the Horsehead Nebula

The judges have finished judging and the notifications have gone out, and Sky Horse did not win a ribbon.  Sew I thought I would go ahead and share the finished pictures with you.  The problem has always been getting a good photo of the quilt because of the way it reflects the light.  But the one above is the best I could get after getting a special lens and all.  Here’s the detail:

Tatum-SkyHorse-Detail 2014

I have no idea how well it traveled.  I did my best in packing it to travel without developing serious folds or breaking of the Angelina Fibers applique (if you can call it that).  I have had good success in the traveling of my first deep space quilt Stellar Nursery.  It’s tougher than you might think once it gets the black veiling sewn on and the all-over quilting.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of "Mountains of Creation".  My first deep space quilt.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of “Mountains of Creation”. My first deep space quilt.

I am very happy to have Sky Horse in Quilt Fest in Houston.  It’s a true honor just to get in that show.  Of course, I’m a little disappointed not to get a ribbon, but the quilts that go there are incredible and I also think I did not capture the Horsehead Nebula as well as I wanted to.  I may try again some day.

Over the past few months I have had several discussions with two well-known quilters who both suggested to me that I pick one or two styles and make lots of quilts in those styles reaching constantly for improvement with each new quilt. I think on the whole that they are right.  But I will confess that this is difficult for me because I love so many kinds of art style quilts. 

The first is 1.  deep space quilts as seen above and just for reference here are several from my other styles,

2.  Story landscape quilts:  They tell a story on some kind of landscape:

Waiting...

Waiting…

The Storyteller

The Storyteller

Then I have the 3.  line drawings/blue print quilts:

Tatum_DadsHousePlan-FULL

Dad’s House Plan–a memory quilt for my Dad. This quilt was juried into AQS Chattanooga and will be there this week.

Perspective in Threads - This quilt was recently juried in to Houston's Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

Perspective in Threads – This quilt was recently juried in to Houston’s Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

And then there is my newest style, which one might call 4.  Innovative.  This quilt is meant to be the first of a series of silk quilts focused on ancient illuminated manuscripts and other old European and American artwork.

Canterbury Silk.  This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Canterbury Silk. This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Sew in principle, I agree with my quilting friends…4 styles is a lot to build a reputation on, and one needs to focus on a style or two and make many of those quilts.  It’s much like the decision I had to make many years ago to reduce my multiple crafts down to focus on fabric arts. But I have not yet decided.  They are all fun.  What do you think?

 

 

Happy Progress

 

Vienna bag

Small evening clutch I purchased in Vienna Austria

Hooray! I have completed my fashion sewing project and everything fits pretty well.  I still have to make a special belt to go with my dressy outfit, but that’s a small project I will do one day for a fun break.  I made three vests, two slacks, one blouse, and did a bunch of repair on existing items.  I also found two beautiful evening bags I had forgotten about, so I didn’t have to make one of those.  I repaired three really nice everyday/tote bags I had made some time ago, and they are better than new. If I have time before I go to Houston, I might make one more pair of slacks and another bag, but it is not a necessity.

Kimono bag

Silk clutch from Japan designed to wear with Kimonos. I got this in Kanazawa, Japan many years ago, but it is still in good shape.

My childcare responsibilities for my grandson have moved to after school only, which gives me a good part of the day and weekends to work on my quilting now.  Sew I have been busy planning out my next phase of quilting projects.  One is a small special request quilt that is due in the beginning of January and so I have to get going on that right away.  I finally managed to work out a design for that quilt after many hours, and I’m ready to start that one. I will save the progress pictures and show them to you after its debut.

I haven’t decided on my other project yet. I usually like to work on two over a space of time. I’ll try to figure one out that I can share with you as I make it.

For the most part, I work without deadlines on my quilts.  That is, I have determined there are enough excellent quilt shows across the year that whenever I finish a quilt there will be a show I can debut it in.  However, there are a couple of shows that I particularly like to use for debuts of my show quilts. These have very early deadlines..months and months before the show.  That’s what inspired my Quilting Show List I keep more or less up to date on my Website so I can keep track of all of this.  It is not all inclusive, but it does include most of the shows I find of interest to me. I probably miss a few here and there that should be on this list.

It’s always kind of exciting when I get to this point…all my previous projects done and time to start new projects. I even have my studio in pretty good shape…just needs a small amount of pickup and vacuuming.

Sew happy everyone.  Teach someone to appreciate the beauty of quilts…your father, yourself, your daughter, your son, your dog (who may be asleep on one right now).

 

A Shift in the Studio

 

 

 

Kevin

Kevin

My handsome, brilliant, impish grandson Kevin enters middle school on 2 September and we decided as a family that his after school and summer day-care will be shifted to Grammy (that’s me) instead of his former care giver who has several new younger kids this year plus her own bunch to care for.  I live only a couple of miles from his school and his home.  I am truly happy to have him come here for the out-of-school work hour time.  It does impact my time for fabric art substantially, however, so I will have to scale back some of my plans in that direction for a few years.  I hope to share some wonderful time and create some great memories, as well as teach him some art among other things.  It will not stop me from moving forward in my own art, though.

Part of the time, Kevin and I are taking the opportunity for him to learn more about quilting, and possibly bag making.  He made a quilt top with me when he was 9, but sort of stopped working on quilting for the past couple of years.  But he’s interested again.  Last week he drafted a lemoyne star using Alex Anderson’s methods presented in a TQS show, and then decided to put together a small quilt and use the lemoyne star as a quilting design.  It would be a straight stitch quilting design and so he can use my big Bernina with the dual feed to quilt it.

Technology can really help in teaching kids to sew.  It is my personal belief that frustration and boredom are the chief barriers to kids learning to do high-level creative things like this. He worked out how he wanted it on my Electric Quilt 7 program, picked out the fabrics from my stash, and cut it out on my Go! cutter, and started sewing it on Friday.  If you have kids you want to teach to quilt, I really recommend a die cutter, because it is safe, accurate, and fast.  Fast means less boredom, accuracy makes for good results and less frustration, and a machine that works well means less boredom and less frustration.   So here he is sewing together the 10 inch squares on my little B350 machine.  I put a 57 foot, which is a 1/4 inch piecing foot with a seam guide, on the machine and slid the machine speed down to the middle so he doesn’t sew too fast.  His seems so far are perfection.

Kevin sewing in 2014

We’ll see where this goes from here.  It is my hope he will really enjoy it enough to want to do another one when this is finished, but if he only finishes this one, it will be a nice accomplishment for him.

Meanwhile, I still managed to get my black blouse and slacks cut out for my dressy outfit.  Hopefully, I can complete this project this coming week.  Kevin will be spending some of the week with his other grandparents next week, so I have several clear days next week before the after-school thing starts.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew–your grandkids, your BFF, yourself, your annoying neighbor, your cats, your dogs.  LOL

 

 

Alex Anderson, A Bit of Progress, and Some Plans

ALEX
Today I went to G Street in Falls Church, Virginia, to attend a lecture by Alex Anderson. I had a lot of fun. I got there early enough that I could get a seat close to the front just behind the chair Alex came and sat down in while waiting for the time to start, and we had a lovely conversation about Bernina sewing machines. A Bernina representative was sitting next to Alex and joined in. I never expected to have time to chat with her, so this was an added treat for me.

Her lecture was entirely fun and very inspiring.  She told us about her life centered around quilting, family, and quilting friends, and how many times she had taken one step at a time to learn something new for her books, for her quilting, for her job as a show hostess.  In all of that and in clear statements she encouraged us to try new things and take one step at a time no matter how difficult they seemed at first to accomplish, learn, improve, and experiment in quilting.  I loved her speech, I enjoyed meeting her, and found myself wishing that we lived close so I could become a good friend of hers.  Thank you Alex for such a fun time today and all the shows and teaching you have provided.

I have been slowly building a network of really fine quilting friends across the country and occasionally I meet them face to face.  I hope to continue this as the years roll out in front of me.

Anyway, as to the progress on my clothing project.  I have now finished making the black embroidered reversible vest and embroidered slacks.  The vest fits nicely, but I’m not as happy with the slacks.  I have one idea for improving the slacks, and will do that, but I think I’m going to have to improve my slacks pattern before I make the other two pairs.

I also finished the silk brocade vest and it fits to perfection.  I will make the black blouse and slacks next, and hope I can improve the slacks pattern enough to be really happy with them.  If I can, I have at least one more pair I will make, and I found a nice piece of Rayon Batik I had stashed in the closet that will make a great loose casual lightweight jacket.  I’m going to make at least one bag and then I’m going to stop with the clothes for a while.  Later on, I want to use one of my four nice pieces of heavy wool I have to make an overcoat.  I even have all the specialized interfacing and lining for two of them and some faux fur to make cuffs and a collar.  But I will do that closer to winter.  I think I’ll blog the making of the overcoat when I do.  It should be interesting.

I have two quilts I want to make.  One has an end of the year deadline, and I will wait until early in the new year to tell you about it.  The other one is a quilt based on some line drawings by the Wright Brothers of their planes that I found on The Wright Brothers organization site and obtained their permission to use for the quilt.

The Wright Plane quilt will be one in my line-drawing series.  The first of that was Perspective in Threads, which has been juried into the Houston special architectural quilts exhibit this year, that will be traveling for a year.  The second is Dad’s House Plan that will soon be in AQS Chattanooga.

Sew I’ll put in a few pictures of my clothes when I get them done.

Sew happy! Teach someone to sew or quilt…your BFF, your brother, your daughter, your pets.

 

Stress Reduction: Read a Fun Book and Relax!

Cover art

Cover art

Life is sometimes hard to take, and the news seems ghastly lately.  One of the things you can do to lower your stress level is to read a really good book.  My youngest son, the writer, just published his second full length fantasy novel.  It is a great read and I wish you would all rush to your favorite e-reader store and purchase a copy.

After you read it, if you’d like, I would love it if you would go to the e-reader store where you bought it, and give it a short review, or a five-star rating (if you liked it, that is).  Of course, you don’t have to, but such reviews are very helpful in getting the book launched and seen by prospective buyers–much more than I realized before his first book was published.  OR, if you really would rather read it in print, it will be available in print from Amazon in a couple of weeks (you can review that too, if you’d like).  His books are fun, have a lot of research behind them, and are an easy read.  Here’s the link to Fennec Fox Press where you can find the links to the various online bookstores.

OK, Back to my clothing upgrade project.  I’ll post a blogpost on my progress there soon.

Sew Happy Everyone!

 

 

Upgrading My Wardrobe from Dowdy to ??????

fitting shell

I have finished my show quilts.  I still have to sew the labels on “Sky Horse” and my Chaucer quilt, which I have named “Canterbury Silk”, but I am ready to start an upgrade to my wardrobe.  Like I said in my last post:

One of the things that has occurred to me is that my wardrobe is looking a little on the dowdy side.  I managed to get to my retirement with a handful of slacks suits that have seen their better days and some blouses.  I made a few summer clothes last year, but I have to do something about my wardrobe.  It’s a very good thing I know how to sew and have a wonderful stash of fabrics fit for clothing, because my clothing funds are slim since I am going to Houston.

Sew I am starting my sewing plan for my wardrobe upgrade.  I found a good basic sloper in my massive pattern collection (not the one pictured here), an out of print pattern in the approximate right size. (Definition: A custom-fitted basic pattern from which patterns for many different styles can be created).  I’ll make one in muslin with wide seams and long stitches, and work it until I get it into a perfect fit, mark the sloper and take it carefully apart and fuse it to a woven interfacing.  Once you have one of these treasures, you can use it to design your own fashions or flat-fit patterns with.  It’s been many years since I have done one for myself. High time!

I have patterns for everything…not all the styles available but absolutely every type of thing…hats, bags, gloves, vests, coats, dresses, slacks, tops, tailored suits, intimates, swimsuits, special occasion, costumes, and retro garments.  Some of them are a little dated, or not even approaching the right size, but often have good lines to use with my sloper and my own ideas in an update.   I’ve usually dressed to my own drumbeat, and especially when it was not for my old workplace, which required mostly black, tan, or gray tailored suits with simple blouses.  But now I’m free, free, free…I am retired and playing in the artist world. Though in truth, I am wondering how well I will be able to break away from that fashion environment as I upgrade my wardrobe.  I do know I look  best in blacks, teals, and wines, and I have a nice stash of fashion fabrics that I must draw from (this is a tiny expenditure upgrade).  We’ll see what happens. 😎

Sew come along with me on this journey in my blog posts.  I’ll try to post the journey with pics and interesting pointers.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…yourself, your loved ones, your fur babies, your coach.  🙂

Lots of Fun

I don’t have pictures for you all this time, because I am keeping final pictures of quilts under wraps until after they debut.  Sky Horse was juried into Houston, if you don’t know that already.  You probably do, because I was obviously having a lot of fun on Facebook after I announced it there, but there may be a few of you who are not FB fans.

So today I finalized my plans for going to the International Quilt Festival in October.  I have the hotel, I have a roomie to split the cost, and I have the tickets.  I’m going!  I’ve never been to the show.

I also have just now finished my Chaucer quilt.  I am trying to decide its name.  I am thinking “Illuminated Chaucer” or “Illuminated Aprille” or just
“Aprille”.  What do you like?  I don’t have to put the label on it until August.

So this means that I am going to spend the next three months making a new wardrobe, cleaning my house, and getting into somewhat better physical shape so I can manage that huge quilt show and the flight.

One of the things that has occurred to me is that my wardrobe is looking a little on the dowdy side.  I managed to get to my retirement with a handful of slacks suits that have seen their better days and some blouses.  I made a few summer clothes last year, but I have to do something about my wardrobe.

It’s a very good thing I know how to sew and have a wonderful stash of fabrics fit for clothing, because my clothing funds are slim since I am going to Houston.  I figure I can make an embroidered black denim slacks suit I have had in the plans to make for some time now.  But I will also need something kinda dressy to wear to the rewards ceremony, since I decided to attend that.  And if I can squeeze it in, I should probably make a fall quilted vest and maybe a nice tote bag and clutch too.

It’s all very exciting.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…your mom, your dad, your husband, your married son, your grandkids, your dog, your cats.  🙂

 

 

Progress Report and Thoughts on Quilting Economics

Saturday Morning 12 July

Saturday Morning 12 July

Hi. It’s been a while since I wrote a post mainly because I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “I’m still quilting.” 😀  Well, I finally finished the quilting and moved on to painting the border.

Now I thought that painting the border would not take me more than a day or two, but I have been painting about three full days so far and as you can see, I have less than half of it done.  I’m using a combination of  Lumiere and Setacolor paints.  I found if I accidentally paint a little outside the stitching, it can easily be removed if I act quickly with a dampened paper towel.  Then I finish off the leaves and flowers with a coat of SoSoft glitter finish.  I actually like the Setacolor glitter finish also, but the glitter pieces are much larger in it and I thought the subtlety of the SoSoft works better for this quilt.  SoSoft takes a couple of days to stop being sticky, but it dries to a level where it doesn’t disturb it if you touch it in about 10 minutes.  Setacolor dries faster and better than any of the paints.  After the paint dries for a couple of days, I will turn the quilt upside down into a soft towel to prevent the trapunto effect from being squashed and heat set them by ironing from the back of the quilt.  I’ve already tried this with my sample pieces and know it works well. 

I estimate that I will finish the painting in about three more days of work.   I am using multiple paint colors on each leaf, flower, and swirl and this takes time. Then I will bind it and I have a lot of beading I want to add to the quilt…beads in the middle of the flowers, around the center of the faux sashing between the red center block and the border, and I ‘m debating whether to scatter some beads on the border.  The original design from the illuminated manuscript has some scattered spots of paint that could easily be beads on the quilt.  Here it is.  See the spots?

My design...border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

My design…border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

 

Sew that’s why I haven’t been around to post anything much lately.  But I have been taking periodic breaks and watching entries in Facebook, The Quilt Show, and so forth.  I have noticed that there is a bit of disturbance in the quilting world regarding what threads and fabrics to buy, what fabrics “require” what threads, and where “responsible shoppers” buy them.  Sigh.  I may lose some of my followers here, but this is what I think about all of this.  Buy the best grade of fabrics and threads you can, because you are spending so much of your time and effort making these wonderful quilts and garments, but sometimes you can find real bargains of fine quality threads and fabrics.  So buy them where you can get the best for the best price.  If you buy them from JoAnns, or the big box store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping supply badly-needed jobs for your neighbors.  If you buy them at your local quilt store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping to keep them in business.  If you buy them from the Internet for a particularly good price and convenience without spending gas to go get them, you can rejoice in having saved enough over time to make one more quilt—perhaps even a charity quilt.  Don’t feel guilty for where you shop or what you buy, but DO pay attention to the quality.

Sometimes it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy a high quality thread in a cone on sale than it is to buy a low quality thread in smaller quantities at a discount store.  The lower quality thread also can damage your machine, so that has to enter into your thinking about the economics behind your purchases.  Also, it is not necessary to use cotton threads on cotton fabrics.  The quality of the higher end threads, especially, are so high now that no longer applies.

Sew those of you out there who have developed into–for good reason–thread snobs or fabric snobs, please be gentle with those who shop where you think they should not and buy the threads you think they should not, and vice-a-versa.  Love thy fellow quilter or sewist as thyself.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew…your son, your granddaughter, your nephew, your niece, your fiance, your neighbor down the street, your cat, your dog. 😀

Aprille with Chaucer…slow but steady progress

I probably quilted more than 40 hours for both the past two weeks, and all of it was on my silk Chaucer quilt.  I estimate at least another 50 hours of quilting plus the painting, beading, and binding that comes after that.  Do my quilting muscles hurt?  Truly!  Am I having fun?  Absolutely!  I have been making quilting decisions as I go along.

Some of you have asked how I was doing the text box, so I thought I’d show you.  I first digitized it in my Bernina v6 software, embroidered it on a piece of black Radiance, and pieced it into the quilt.  Yesterday I finished the quilting around all the words and the rest of the text box, adding some soon-to-be-painted flourishes on each side of the text.  Here is the result so far:

textbox quilted

textbox quilted

As you see I also have a 1 1/4 inch faux sashing.  I plan to edge this by couching some Ricky Tim’s Razzle Dazzle on either side, but I have not figured how I’m going to quilt it yet.

All the stitching around the embroidered vine and the appliques is complete, but I haven’t done much with the background stitching, nor have I completed the quilting of the appliques themselves.  I had to do a lot of frogging and restitching to get it up close like I wanted it.  I still see a few places where I still need to do this.  But here’s a sampling of the center:

Applique sampling

I still have a lot of stippling around the border and, after much thought and searching through books and Electric Quilt, I figured out generally what I will use for the background stippling of the central theme.  Originally I was going to do a diagonal decorative stitch  from my Bernina, but decided it just won’t work with all that stopping and starting.  So I THINK I’m going to use a nice vine/leaf style I found on one of my EQ designs.  I have to practice first to see if that works before I stitch that part.

I have been happy to see the waves and wrinkly parts go away the more I quilt, as I had thought they would.  Here’s a view across the quilt.

Across the quilt

Across the quilt

Sew I am making slow but steady progress on this challenge to myself.  I’ve also been enjoying a lot of music and audiobooks on my ipod as I quilt.  I just “read” the final in Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarian series “Crown of Renewal”.  I give it about 4 stars.  I thought the ending could be better, but I won’t say how here because I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you are reading it.

Sew happy my friends!  Teach the young and old alike to quilt and sew, men, boys, girls, women, dogs, cats!  😀