Archive for the ‘commission’ Category

The Arroyo

The Very Beginning

The Very Beginning

This was a wonderful collaboration with dear friends. Dave wanted a present for his wife (our maid of honor many moons ago), and he came by to watch the marbling process. He had in mind something similar to one of our “stone” pattern pieces, so he went and bought about a half-yard of an unpolished white satin for us to experiment on. The top picture is the very beginning – good colors, a focal point, but oh, my, was it flat! This would be my chance to use wool batting, and the piece started to pop after only outlining three of the “rocks.”

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If you look at the center right top of the next picture, you will notice some darker brown that is very lacy-looking – not a good marbled stone. However, the more I studied it, the more it looked like moss and lichen – I couldn’t have asked for something better. Serendipity.

In progress

In progress

Lots of little green specks throughout the piece, so that was more moss and lichen, and I used my “lichen” stitch, as I call it, to accent them.

Arroyo3By this point, I had a bird’s eye view of a southwest canyon, reminding me of Sedona and Oak Creek, so I knew I wanted to accent the creek throughout the piece. After lots of variegated threads I added seed beads in four shades of blues to pick up sparkles.

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I played with a variety of fabrics for a border, and this is where Dave’s color sense really helped. He picked two fabrics I never would have thought of, and they worked perfectly. The only change I made was to thin the first border a little bit. And then the final reveal……

Arroyo (Spanish for "Wash")

Arroyo (Spanish for “Wash,” where water runs when it rains)

Latest FMQ Commission

While I haven’t been posting, I have been moderately busy in the midst of still dealing with illness. I quilted a small wall hanging for my yoga instructor (whose house is now FILLED with art I have made for her). Here are some pics – she made the top and I finished it off.

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The brown blocks have a cathedral square pattern, the center brown and beige have a diamond pattern, the four corner blocks are a leaf pattern, and the green blocks are just a plain stripe.

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PS – this was the picture that made me realize I had forgotten to do one of the patterns……

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And….the back – one of my favorite pieces of fabric…..

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I’m still plugging away……

Sunday Stories – The Chakra Commission

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Last September my yoga instructor Susan asked me to do a series of chakras for her home, which is also her yoga studio. She had the idea to have the chakras around three sides of her “great room,” so she would be surrounded by their energies. I had previously done a small 10 x 10 inch thread-painted root chakra, and that one led to this new idea.

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We debated about size, because the wall space is quite tall. Using the floor tiles as an estimate, we decided each would be 24 inches square – wrapped around four 12 by 12 inch canvases that we would put together.

First challenge – choosing the fabrics. I wanted to purchase them all at the same time for consistency. I had thought about the Stonehenge line of fabrics, but the LQS was out of them. Susan found some hand-dyes that were what I call true crayon colors. It was a beautiful vibrant rainbow. This was when I first realized some of the attributes of the chakras. Second challenge – creating the patterns. I wanted the thread-painted chakra to finish at 20 by 20 inches, because that would give me enough fabric for wrapping the canvas. So I worked with a set of patterns from the Net and created a master set for approval. We tweaked some changes with the edges to better increase some of the symmetry. It is now the end of October and I am ready to start – I think.

In trying to explain to the copy folks at Office Depot that I wanted my design blow up to 20 inches by 20 inches, eventually we got a 24-inch-square canvas, with a 20-inch design on it. I had copies made as patterns.

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Once I had the pattern, I traced over it and then pinned the tracing paper onto the fabric sandwich. Speaking of fabric sandwiches, it too close to five hours to get seven sandwiches prepped: ironing the fabric (I cut each yard into a 30-inch square), matched it with low-loft batting, and found some unused fabrics for the backings. Then they all sat over a chair for a while.

Finally around the end of November I started the actual sewing. I pinned the tracing paper carefully to the fabric sandwich and, using washable thread, I outlined the pattern. Tearing off the tracing paper took a very long while….

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For the Root chakra, I decided to do some bobbin work with a gold thread. I was so-so pleased with the results, but not enough that I was going to continue with the bobbin work. Each of the other chakras used satin stitch on the major elements and a lot of free motion patterns for fillers. The chakras got progressively better in their sewing….until the last one – same elements but a much simpler design.

I thought about redoing the Root chakra, since it didn’t seem to fit with the others. But the more Susan and I talked about how these were developing, the more I liked the first and the last. As I worked on them, I added more quilting elements that added to the design. I used colors in the same family as the background fabric, with hopefully enough contrast. Up close they were all looking gorgeous. From a distance, they faded away. That bothered me for a while, but I realized as I was working on them that everything in the design was meant to be meditative. Up close, you could lose yourself in the design. From a distance, the more you looked the more your saw.

Susan summarized it pretty well. The root chakra is our beginning, and it can be very shaky and unsure. We develop from there, with whatever impurities becoming who we truly are. The crown chakra, the seventh, is the Divine, and as such doesn’t need to be ornate. The Divine in us can be very simple and beautiful.

So here they are, in order.

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(Have to find this one – will update……)

Photo: Chakra number 6 now at its new home - one more to go!

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I learned a lot. There are some stitching patterns I would change. I would probably use a much lighter background fabric and have the stitching pattern show more. Yet they move in complexity, much like the chakras do. I one I am missing is the one I think is the best design, yet in viewing it, the design seems very faint. The more you look, the more you see. This is also the chakra that is my weakest, so I find that fascinating. My yoga instructor is extremely pleased. The room is surrounded by color and it just vibrates. And she says she can easily meditate on whichever one she wants or needs. A very happy conclusion.

Random Ramblings

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The temps have dropped and Northern Arizona is under storm warnings with snow possible. It’s windy here in Tucson, and it’s a thoughtful, kind of sleepy, kind of depressing Saturday. I still wonder about the lack of interest in things, like the business, that used to be a driving force.

I can’t really say it’s all because I feel like I am getting older and running out of time. There are still a lot of things I want to do. One of the biggies is traveling. An article on Facebook this morning made me realize that I need to start soon, before the body betrays me even  more. 25 top cities to see. I’ve been to Shanghai and Beijing, way before the massive high-rise development. There’s a real stark contrast between old and new in the two cities. New York City, but not in several decades, and the same for San Francisco several decades ago. Briefly Chicago for a conference, and then Europe – ah, Europe. I do want to get there.

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I am facing some medical tests in the next month, and I figure, since my energy level is so low, and all I want to do is sleep, that there is probably something more going on with the thyroid. But now we’re looking at boobs and intestines and ovaries, so I may be giving up a body part down the road.

Also a video from Facebook this morning on bullying. I’ve said for a number of years that part of the bullying epidemic – actually a majority of it – I think is due to the way adults act on reality TV shows, as well as on news programs. Adults are the grown-up bullies. And that leads to even less attempts at compromise, because we have become so used to shouting to get what we want – or resort to violence.

On the good front this morning, the fourth chakra that I just completed as part of the commission is GORGEOUS.

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Gotta go put a sweater on – temp is about 20 degrees cooler than yesterday!

Work in Progress Wednesday

Oh my goodness, life is busy! We returned on Monday from StashFest, a benefit for the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum, with lots of new momentum and ideas for the business. I’ll be addressing some of the marketing issues and challenges in a later post. For right now, there are lots of new things in the works, as well as some current projects to finish.

We have two commissioned orders awaiting us. One has gone in the mail today to England, and the other is awaiting fabric and paint to arrive. On my walk this morning, I set myself the task to come up with what my “spring” and “summer” designs would look like for my seasons quilts. The marbled fabric is all ready to go, and I now have two specific designs in mind. This was a little trickier than fall and winter, because I still wanted to keep the log cabin basis for the new quilts. I’m hoping by the end of May to have the two new quilts finished and the pattern pretty much ready to go. Then I can consider the marketing for the kits.

I have a commissioned piece – a three-part triptych – that will pay for my yoga lessons, so I want to get that completed by this weekend. I have several small quilts that I am going to take apart and requilt, based on what I am learning with this year’s free motion quilting challenge. April’s lesson, about creating your own stencil, will solve my problem about wanting to do snowflakes for an old holiday quilt. I’m looking forward to trying this. The three quilts that I have requilted were all big hits at StashFest, as they were god examples of how marbled fabric can be used in traditional blocks. And I had LOADS of great feedback on how wonderful my quilting was. Yay me!

Now that I have installed Quilt Album software, I need to start putting in my quilts, especially since as I am traveling more, I can create an album to show at any time. This ties in to the portfolio we took with us to StashFest. We were able to show the article about us and the actual process through pictures, examples of Bernina garments that used our fabric, and other interesting patterns we had. The portfolio needs some updating….need to get that on the to-do list.

I really want to get to the DVD on quilting various marbling patterns. I need to perhaps start with just a couple of tutorials, and then let that determine where I go from there. As my quilting skills increase and improve, it will be interesting to see how that transfers to the marbled fabric.

Mainly I want to do a lot of sewing, designing, and quilting. So many ideas in my head! Hopefully next week there will be actual pictures to show……

Work in Progress Wednesday

Busy week in the studio! I’ve been slowly adding little goodies to the wall, as I want to feel like this is a real working studio every time I walk in to it. This wall is some samples, my color wheel, and some of the fabric cubbies. This is of the poster for the Tikkun Olam show, and other goodies, like the holiday gift list….

Some of the certificates and exhibits we’ve attended. I really enjoy looking at all of them. In the past we usually just tuck things away and never have a chance to revisit them often enough. That is definitely changing.

New shelf hubby put up to keep all the notions from getting in the way and having to be moved each time we marble – or I lay out a quilt to sandwich. Don’t know why we didn’t think of that sooner….

The three large table runners in progress. There is a HUGE amount of work in finishing these up. First, I have 17 Hawaiian motifs, all of which have had satin stitch done around them. The black and white is the predominant color, with just hints of color in the satin stitching. I am now in the process of echo-quilting each motif around the outside, like is traditional in Hawaiian quilting. This is a lot of start, stop, raise the presser foot, lift and turn, and repeat. I’m having to take a lot of breaks because it’s rough on the shoulders.

Each of the joining pieces has free motion quilting, black on black. I’m trying out some new motifs on each of those two-inch strips.

Now about a year ago I asked for suggestions for changing the quilting on a “fish quilt” I had done MANY years ago. I took all the quilting out, and there it sat, along with other “needing to be finished” projects. Well, I’m at a point where I need a serious break from the table runners, plus I want to have a couple of “basic” quilts ready for the guild presentation the beginning of November. It seems that all this time I have been percolating possible quilting ideas.

The thing about this quilt that is so great is the marbled fabric that makes up each of the “fish.” This is a case of when the fabric came out of the tray, it said “fish” to me. I always knew I would like something that accented the fish. I started with the borders of fish, and I ended up using one of the decorative stitches on my workhorse Bernina. Then I used another decorative stitch for the first of the waves, and I added some “bubbles” in free motion to the center block.

Then it was change the foot, change the thread, and start in on the fish.

It’s perfect. It is exactly as I wanted and what I had envisioned before I even knew I could do it.

Oh yeah,that’s what I’m talkin’ about! And my quilting stitch is getting MUCH better!

Monday Marketing….What a Month!

Wow. That’s all I can say….wow wow wow. All the work from June and July really began to pay off at the end of the month. A finished commission, a major fabric order from England, Ebay and Etsy sales, and LOADS of inquires. And…….I got a lot of quilting done, and took two classes in the meantime. I am LOVING every minute!

This time last year I had spend 6 weeks doing a lot of work, and then school started and I lost all momentum – but NOT this year! I don’t have to go back to work next Wednesday. Did I happen to mention I am THRILLED to be retired?!?!?!?

Here’s the plan of attack that seems to be working, after a month of refinement. Each morning I take care of a lot of social media stuff, respond to comments, check out other business pages. Then I try to leave “thinking” time during the day for the long-range goals, and then it’s off to actually create. I feel like the social media piece is no longer controlling the cart – I am, and it’s taking way less time. Each evening I look at my folder – check off what got done for the day, what’s coming up for the next day, and pieces of my various “action lists” for my goals that I want to attempt.

Probably the best thing I did for social media was do my Linked In profile and join a couple of art groups through Linked In. We have been doing round robin on Facebook business pages, and the traffic all around has increased tremendously. Plus – ya gotta admit opening FB comments each morning and seeing what people think of your work is quite the motivator.

I found this morning I had to actually make a list of upcoming shows. deadlines, and commission to be sure I didn’t miss anything. The new newsletter is in the works, and I have actually set up a group for people who are collecting our art – that’s a very cool feeling!

I have over 500 blog entries since I started, as well as over 100 Facebook “Likes,” so it’s time to be thinking about a give-away along with the blog makeover……stay tuned!

Below are a couple of fabric studies done as part of The Artist’s Toolbox class through Quilt University. I am learning a lot about what is working and what isn’t – and why. I recommend these classes – I have now done three, and I learn great stuff each time. In fact, I found myself with the camera out this weekend in Sedona, taking pictures of some incredible textures – 25 pictures of a grouping of sunflowers, because I kept seeing different things!

It’s going to be an AWESOME August! What do you have planned for the month?

 

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – DONE!

And so here it is, my “Sedona 1: Hiking.” I am definitely going to do a series of the things I like about Sedona – and there are many! The new owner is a hiker and is constantly out on the trails all around Arizona. Sedona is special because of its gorgeous red rocks. From 360 Adventures comes this iconic image:

Sedona is one of the really special places, not just for scenery, but for those who believe in vortexes and all things New Age. I do have a piece of fabric that I’m going to call “Vortex.” It’s on the list at about number 4.

The coppers, browns, and reddish-oranges are very strong in this piece – no matter what I do with the light, I still seem to get hints of mauves, and there isn’t any of that in here.  The piece is about 15 by 23 inches. At least I know I will be able to visit this piece on occasion!

Next up….”Spark” for the 3 Creative Studios challenge; a piece for Tikkun Olam due in September; an idea for Art Quilts Elements due end of September; and then there’s four good pieces for the next Sedona pieces….I am SO glad I’m retired!

Work in Progress Wednesday….The Commission, Part 2

Two weeks ago I showed the start of a commission here, and I am almost to the end of it. Lots of interesting decisions to make along the way – I am really enjoying the decisions in the design process, especially as they relate to using marbled fabrics. My biggest problem is trying to photograph the colors so they are true.

The quilting of the marbled fabric went really well – I emphasized the white area with bubbles, as though it were a stream working its way through the rocks. Went through two different colors of threads before I decided which one I liked. That’s different for me…in the past I would just let it go.

The first border is a very soft corduroy, and I left it a little “puffed,” rather than pulled straight. I liked that it played off the roundness of the pebbles. I love the batik for the outer border, and I also used it for the backing. I realized again why I’m not fond of mitered corners (but that’s what this piece needed), as I took two of them out several times. I still need to trim the outer border by an inch so that it seems better balanced, but I decided to quilt the outside first. Again, a struggle with what I wanted to use for thread, as well as how I quilted it. I wasn’t happy with following the pattern of the batik, as it looked too crooked. So I opted to play off the idea of the frame, and I’m quite pleased. What faces me tomorrow is making sure the piece is completely square, which I need to worry about, as it is a commission. Thank heavens I know about the diagonal to check for a square.

I’m going to use the Alzheimer Quilt hanging system – the little triangles in the corners, as I think this will help the quilt lay flat on the wall. I also plan a label for the back with all the information about the quilt, including care. I found a “certificate” on line to use for the new owner of the artwork with all the official details.

Here’s the large shot, still untrimmed:

I am really loving this piece, which is actually more true brown and copper than in the picture. Still thinking about some seed beads……see what happens next week…..

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