Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

Ramblings

Sitting in the Atrium at the UVM medical center, with a good friend, after several hours of waiting in pro-op. Scary times. When he did his aneurysm surgery I sat by myself – that was a mistake, so not this time. But for the last week every time we would do something together I would wonder if it was the last time we would do this. Just can’t go there. Now I am on automatic pilot until surgery is finished around 7 PM eastern, then it’s into ICU for up to two days. Nothing is going to be easy about this. A day at a time – lots of writing time if I can stay focused.

The art fest was good – not as many sales as I wanted, but more than any shows in the past. Sold the newest piece I just made, A River Runs Through It, and one of my Leftover series. Lots of small pieces of fabrics, and a lot of ideas for what to do next year – or the next nearest show we participate in. Need to get a couple of larger pieces made for all the traveling this coming year.

Spent a morning with Betsy Fram after her presentation with the Essex Art League – what an amazing home and view- and studio. She gave me some good ideas of working with existing pieces of fabric. Ned to find us a good photographer so we can get more mileage out of some of our pieces. See Elizabeth Fram’s website and work –

Those are teeny tiny stitches by hand – I am in awe – and she knows so much about art!

Update four days later – so four-plus days in ICU, serious kidney problems, a-fib again, this time having trouble getting heart rate to stabilize – low or too high blood pressures and the kidneys are not happy. It has become an interesting balancing act. He went to a regular room today – I stayed put – way too tired, scratchy throat, and I don’t want to infect him. So I slept, cleaned up, straightened, watched some TV, and drank some wine. I can head back tomorrow in much better shape.

…and I wrote today!

Summer and Fall of “Enlightenment”

Thoughts on NANOWRIMO – yes, it’s November…..been thinking about this for most of October and trying to decide what – and how – I will approach things. November 1 – I don’t have a lot of luck working through the month each day, as witnessed by the last two years of not accomplishing anything – or not even trying.  So I think for this year I want to concentrate on writing my 1637 words each day – on rewrites, character studies, essays, blog posts – just getting back in the habit of writing regularly. I know two years ago I stopped on Book 2 because I had no idea where a lot of the plot was going, what the various story lines were….and then there is so much crap happening right now in the world that sometimes it seemed pointless…but my characters need some resolution, and I still have stories to tell.

So – things to write about –
* the books I have been reading since summer began

*conversations with God and the Joshua books
*science books
*where I seem to be evolving as a result of the changes in this country
*coping with changes in my life with illness with hubby
*writing concerning my art – especially blog posts – need to get regular again, as it does bring in more business, and a big show coming up
*newsletter for MTD
*pictures from this summer
*my own racism

It’s been a long while for writing a blog post, but not for doing art – a brief time off after the last baby quilt was done, and then back to a new baby quilt in September, and now three new pieces finished this week – feels good to be working again. The funny thing about the blog posts – for the last two years I have been 200 blog posts away from a 1000 posts – this year only 82. Should have been a snap, right? Well…..no. That just seems to be an impossible goal. Gonna be workin’ it this month….

We have so many shows coming up, starting with two small pieces tomorrow, two pieces for a January-April show, January/February for one of the community libraries, the US attorney’s office in Burlington, and a bunch more. While helping hubby recuperate in December  from open heart surgery there will be a lot of time on the machine. I have some large pieces that need to be finished, and a major inventory to do of what goes to what show, without much repetition. Also, big art fest show in less than two weeks, and stuff to prepare for that – two patterns to write and put together, inventory for Square (and to figure that out), and the packing for the show.

There’s a l0t of good stuff going on art-wise. After all these years, we have finally found a decent way to package the fabrics – good for pictures, easy for people to see the various pieces, and we have some consistent sizes. Also, by mounting the finished pieces on canvas, we now have people thinking more about the fiber as wall art – a big jump in perception.

The three pieces from this past week – you can see in the upper portion what hasn’t been stitched. It is amazing just how much depth you get with the addition of batting and stitching. This is part of our “Leftover” series – paint left in the bottom of the tray when we clean it up. Once I add thread to it (and I used double batting for this one) it makes the piece come alive.

All the while doing this I was very aware of not having a focal point – I’ve been concentrating on that as I’m out taking pictures. It seemed like there was a consistent white stretch running from upper right to lower left – I saw it as a river, and as I used a light blue thread it started taking on some dimension, but ultimately I didn’t think the river was dark enough, and I wasn’t happy with other colors of blue that I had – so I used some of the India ink I’ve been suing for suminagashi and used a simple wash throughout the river – just the dimension I wanted.

This part for sizing/mounting canvas just didn’t seem to work. I assumed the canvas I had was an 11 x 14, and the piece was bigger than that. Hubby didn’t want to lose the lower left because of the effect, so we went and bought a 12 x 16. Turns out when we got home, that was already what I had…so it was back out for a 16 x 20. Great batik for the canvas covering, and between the binding and the extra border around the canvas, it looks like two mats for the frame. Happy with it!

Introducing: “A River Runs Through It.” $125.00 plus postage. 16 x 20 inches.

We have these wonderful polyester black linen pieces that marbne wonderfully, and I finished two of those – simple, easy to complete – not a great deal of stitching – just enough to emphasize what I want for a theme. Now they are part of a definite series – the “Moonlight” series Simple, easy to complete, and elegant.

Moonlit Garden, just starting the stitching. Finished size 8 x 10 inches.

Finished piece Moonlit Garden, $65.00 plus postage.

Finished Piece – Moonlit Winds, 8 x 8 inches. $65.00 plus postage.

Now to go through a lot of my works in progress – like the Iceberg piece – to get a couple of big pieces started/completed for show next year.

 

 

The 40th Birthday Quilt (not mine….I wish…..)

This was actually the 7th project for this spring, and I got everything done – and then some – although not necessarily on time…..

I promised our good friend and “almost son” a quilt for his 40th birthday, which was May 18 (sent around mid-June – not too bad….) He and most of my Peter Pan cast from 1990 turned 40 this year….Needless to say, I am feeling rather old….

I saw a pattern by Leah Day for a bargello which I’ve always wanted to make – problem was it was 24 by 64 inches – not wide enough for a lap quilt. By the way, her patterns are EXCEPTIONALLY well done. I made the center panel, learned a couple of tricks, and then decided on adding a panel to each side to make it snuggle-able for two.

A good friend gave me rolls of fabrics from her stash, so I had great fun choosing fabrics – two sets before I came up with the colors I wanted. A lot of careful cutting and piecing to get the design I wanted – again, learned a lot, got great points and connections, and figured out how to change the order for a new wall hanging.

Close-up of all the free motion quilting – went through one whole chalk liner doing those grids…and I got better acquainted with my walking foot – no more using regular foot when stabilizing quilt tops.

Seattle Lights

Accented without detracting…..

Love you, Scotty Whips!!

 

“Experimenting with Textiles”

I am currently (like right now) watching a video from the fellows who bring you textileartist.org. I’ve subscribed for several years, and they are introducing a series of videos on finding your voice with your textiles. So far, 11 minutes into the video, I can see the various paths I have taken and why I had problems with them.

First, early on in working with stitching on marbled fabrics, I felt intimidated by mo own machine quilting skills, and I felt like I needed to do a huge amount of practice on smaller pieces before I came to the bigger works I wanted to do. A cyber friend kindly said to me – do the work you want and the skills will follow….and so they did. I started weaving strips of marbled fabric after I machine-quilted them, and I didn’t look back.

Second, I’ve always experimented with lots of techniques – marbling happened to be the latest one (embroidery, knitting, crocheting, painting), but the marbling hooked and and hubby. Now I have a body of work that utilizes marbled fabric and new means of quilting and embellishing. I picked up bead work only in the sense it could add to the overall design.

Lots of ups and downs in learning and trying to determine a niche for ourselves, as well as work within limitations of what we could afford.  I finally decided that what other marblers do is fine – so is our work in its own unique way. I didn’t want to marble paper – I wanted fabric – first limitation, and we made it work. We perfected our style on white fabric – very unforgiving – a second limitation.

How can I push the boundaries of the basics? Hubby and I laugh about what I have him end of trying to marble – “pushing” to do ribbon, silk flowers, canvas…all because I don’t want to waste paint in the marbling tray. Lots of additional projects opened up, mostly with embellishing what we were already creating. Any new techniques were pursued in how they could expand our marbled fiber art.

Making marbled art is expensive –  a pound of carrageenan is about $50.00 now. So because of our extremely limited financial capabilities we had to work within a very tight budget – and we succeeded. Looking at a display of our work several months ago, both of us marveled at what we were able to create with so little resources.

Embracing what we can do on our limited budget led me to learn how to manipulate my 1008 Bernina workhorse sewing machine to do what I wanted it to do. Yes, I miss “needle down” and variable speed….but my skill with this basic machine has led me to teach very successful machine quilting classes to folks who think they can’t machine quilt unless they have a long-arm or other fancy sit-down machine.

In terms of skill level, I am completely self-taught, with only one marbling class from a master (Galen Berry). Everything else has been trial and error….no color theory of design, so I started with putting everything with black fabric. Hubby has the color sense, and I slowly came around to improving mine. Now I can put marbled fabrics with a range of other colors and designs. I attended a workshop with Tony Conner, water colorist extraordinaire, who talked us through a painting he created. It was like a design class with a master, listening to him talk through his decisions. I kept referring to pieces I was working on to see that I was naturally doing some of the design elements. I was trusting my “eye” and myself.

You owe it to yourself to watch the first of these videos – maybe you are new to the idea of limitations. We had natural limitations through finances imposed on us, and it led to who we are as artists now. Check out our web page to see our range of work. Find textileartist.org on Facebook and get your free video.

PS – no more pima cotton fabric, special order didn’t work because it was too light, so we “over-marbled”…and it’s good to go…..making due with a limitation……

Threads of Resistance Entry Finished

I spent a lot of time just coming up with an idea I felt would work, and then some of the time spent rehabbing my knee by walking the halls helped it come more into focus. Then once I started, ideas kept coming – what was a month’s project stretched out into two months, with a lot of time writing what would become the messages on the piece. Women’s Work s Never Done – the topic lef me in so many directions, starting with Susan B. Anthony and the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 as a result of the women’s congress. The complete document can be found in the right-hand pocket of the jeans. Using a Sharpie, I started to painstakingly write in the GRIEVANCES woman had against men at that time…and as I was writing, I realized not a lot had changed. The best part of this piece was traveling back in time to read in full this document and realize how far we still have to march.

Here are the jeans about two-thirds complete with the writing – each letter gone over two-three times to ensure legibility.

I worried about fading and having to re-do the writing – but isn’t that what we women have had to do through the ages? Prove ourselves again and again? Rewrite or own accomplishments so they aren’t forgotten? If the piece fades – any part of it – that’s the story of us as women.

Next came a woman’s required piece of clothing – the apron. I made it reversible – the front is traditional quilt design and somewhat traditional fabrics, and in each of the squares are messages to women – either from my own family or from society. I put a ruffled border on, and written on it is the litany of what women were expected to do: cooking, cleaning, babysitting, housework, laundry, cooking, etc. sex, birthday parties, planning dinners, sex, cooking…..you get the idea.

Click on the next picture – for some reason it isn’t clear….

Then came the apron strings. Not completely happy with how they worked out…but I love the message (original copy is in the left pocket of the jeans: a manifesto by Joyce Stevens from International Women’s Day in 1975.

 

Now the reverse of the apron is more a modern design, with fabrics of the same hue but considerably brighter. On that is written positive messages I have given myself as a daughter of Women’s Liberation.

Next step was the background – actually background and backing – same fabric. I initially thought I would only quilt what would actually show before I began my writing on the front, but I realized why not continue on the back with more “hidden” women from history. So I ended up quilting the whole background. Then came the burying threads – which I don’t normally do, but since the back suddenly became important, I went and did it…..there were a lot…….

I spent a lot of time online looking for missing/unknown/hidden women and I found amazing stories – most I didn’t know – even as a history major. I started out writing every other line, from the middle to top and bottom so everything would remain even.

Then I filled in everything and started on the back.

  I am very pleased that it came together as I had envisioned – learned a lot (I usually do…), but very pleased.

Comments? I’m taking names to continue the back of the quilt with other “hidden” women – send  ’em along!

Free Motion Quilting!

Can you tell I love me my unpolished red satin? This is “Mandala 1: Core,” also published in Linda Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Art Quilting Techniques. It’s free motion quilting, but the nice thing about using marbled patterns is that you have lines to follow!

I taught beginning free motion quilting this past Saturday and had a FABULOUS time!! When I did my lesson plan for the class, and then as I was going through it with my students, a few things became very clear to me.

  1. Everything starts with a straight line done with the free motion foot. It helps develop rhythm and hand placement. No longer will I start with a motif when teaching beginners.
  2. It’s easy to go from straight line to stippling (large, medium, and micro) as well as figure out how not to get in a corner and have to stop. My students found it very easy to move quickly and easily into curved lines.
  3. At this point we stopped to talk about threads and tension. It seemed a good point, and there were questions cropping up. The biggest problem they (and probably most of us) have is silencing that Inner Critic and realizing we have to practice – most of us aren’t willing to approach it that way at the beginning. (Ask me how I know that…). One person had bobbin issues, and the rest were concerned with moving that upper tension dial, as well as determining if their machine like same thread top and bottom, or another combination. I need to remember for future classes that “same thread top and bottom” may be more helpful to beginners. I’m so used to the quirks of my machine and how to work with different top and bottom
  4. Next pattern was a basic heart-shaped leaf, first learned by me in the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge by quilter Frances Moore.
  5. Pebbles were next – large, medium, fill-ins, different sizes. This seemed a natural progression.
  6. Then spirals, grid patterns, and feathers. No one really got frustrated, mainly because they could see how previous learning morphed into a new pattern pretty easily.

Lots of samples from me so students could see practical applications within actual quilts, as well as all my practice fat quarters that I now use to practice or check tension before beginning a new project.

Best part? Everyone signed up for Intermediate FMQ in March!

Deconstructing and Redesigning

Photograph by Stephen DeVol, Sedona, AZ

For over 13 years this piece has been known privately as “Ode to the Fire Goddess Pele” as a result of my time in Hawaii. It’s official title is Gaia 2: Beginnings. Our biggest problem has been that it was meant to hang on it’s own, but we were unable to figure out a simple – and not intrusive – hanging system. So for the last year, since we have been showing our work in Vermont, we’ve talked about mounting the piece – somehow. Here’s the story of the creation of the original piece.

That led to me deciding to completely redo the piece – ev.er.y.thing. It took two weeks of night time by the television to get all the machine quilting pulled out. In the 13 years since this was finished my machine quilting skills are SO much better. I will say that my original tension was so bad that in many places all I had to do was pull a thread and I had many many inches come right out.

My new plan is to requilt it, change the edging, mount it on a large piece of black fabric, quilt the black fabric, and then add a sleeve. I need to have all this accomplished by May, as I plan to enter it into the “Abstraction” show in Saranac Lake this summer.

Right now I have 12 strips still with serged edges. I found a FABULOUS piece of red and gold fabric in my stash, and (hoping I have enough) I will put the binding on over the serged edges. It looks really good so far.

A close-up of the original weaving with the serged edges.

A close-up of the back with all the hand-stitching to hold all the pieces tight and together (oy, did that take a while….)

Before and after – original stitching, and after the frog stitch….

More before and after….

The beginning of new free motion quilting….

A look at the new binding and how it will work with the weavings.

This piece will also have a new name: Revolution. More on that as I get further along in the quilt.

Beginning Free Motion Quilting

Beginning Free Motion Quilting – Yes, You Can!

4 hours, $40.00 (plus 1/2 hour working lunch) 10:00 – 2:30,

February 11, Saturday

Quilting With Color, Williston, Vermont  802-876-7135

Now what? Your quilt top is done…send it out or quilt it yourself? You can free-motion your own quilt top, no fancy domestic or long-arm machine needed! YOU CAN do it all yourself – it just takes practice! From thread choice, basic supplies, setting up your machine, to learning basic FMQ patterns to build other designs on, you will learn the happy sounds of your machine as you practice six basic patterns on fat-quarter sandwiches: straight lines (without a ruler or walking foot), various size stipples, pebbles, basic feather, grid work, and a leaf/vine shape.

You supply:

* sewing machine in working order, ability to lower feed dogs, instruction manual (I can’t stress enough how you need familiarity with your machine and lowering the feed dogs)

* free motion (or darning) foot; NEW #80 0r #90 machine needles (#90 might be easier for you if you want to use fancy threads)

* a selection  of threads, from “old and cheap” to “fancy and expensive” (cotton and poly are welcome)

* low-loft cotton (or 80/20 cotton) batting in fat quarter size for two quilt sandwiches

* 4 fat quarters (18 x 22 inches), one for the top and one for the bottom of two quilt sandwiches (not fancy fabrics, just for practice, and muslin is fine – tone-on-tone or solid color is best for getting started

* scrap paper and pen or pencil

* scissors

* marking tools (fabric marker or chalk

* ruler for marking grid lines on the fat quarters

OPTIONAL: small white board and marker for practicing designs; a machine extension table (you will be happier with one…), Machingers quilting gloves.

One of many samples looking at how you can add free motion quilting to your work….

COME JOIN US!!

Top Ten Tuesday (well, actually 28……)

Been a while for this series, and today is slightly different – a great infographic to study – and lots of saved bookmarks in the queue for future blogs.

Which ones resonate with you?

A New Video!!

We have decided to do our own videos and set up a YouTube channel with them. We want to show the creation of the various marbling patterns. The first video was more an overview of creating a design…and gave me a chance to play around with iMovie. The second one looks just at the very beginning pattern – the stone. Every piece of marbling starts with this pattern. I am using royalty-free music under Creative Commons. It’s fun, labor-intensive, and when you have weeks between videos you forget all the things you figured out before…like getting the music to play. Plus, this time I cut out pauses where hubby was getting paint, so I learned to delete frames and add a connector. Now it’s learning to use titles and such for additional information.

Here we go!

 

Samples of Marbled Fabrics

Cleaning out as part of getting into new ventures for the new year – resizing, sharpening, rephotographing fabrics – here are some sample fat quarters we have created over the years. We get tremendous joy out of creating – some look similar, but it seems like endless opportunities available to us to play with fabric and paint. Remember, we can customize for you! Let us know what you think….THESE ARE NOT FOR SALE – just pieces we have photos of from the past!

So many iterations of traditional patterns! All from toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, straight pins, t-pins, small hair pics – lots of balsa and a huge amount of time to make the combs and rakes. It’s the prep that takes so long before you can have hours of fun!!

 

Photography and Packaging…Oh, My!

Vermont Open Studios, 2016

When we did Vermont Open Studios last May with artist Mary Hill, one of the great things about sharing the space was all the time we had to talk about our various art and marketing attempts. Mary had some GREAT ideas for us concerning packaging. We continue to process everything we thought about, with some definite changes in what we are doing. Thanks to Rachel of The Textile and Fiber Art List, we have also been improving photography – both how we shoot items and how we present the finished product.

First, the photography. Our pictures have a “muddy” cast to them, and we are basically rephotographing everything we have. The place we are living now doesn’t allow for much flexibility for setting up good lighting. Hubby experimented with a lot of options – including moving to a rolled fabric presentation rather than each piece in a haphazard manner. Give an overall idea as opposed to every thing about each piece. In this manner we can still send the packages flat and save customers money (on international orders – domestic shipping is free). Some “before and after” ideas –

Getting the overall set-up of the product looking good –

Lighting and color still issues….but against the white background looking better. Also, we discovered that we needed to save pictures at a larger size in order to get more detail in the pictures. Next is better with a good cropping and some adjustments in Photoshop to correct the lighting.

Definitely getting there –

Uh-Huh…..

Definitely brighter –

Close-up shot for the Twitter picture, which I am slowly getting back to using…..

This is just for our Charm Pack 2 – ten pieces of hand-marbled pima cotton, assorted patterns and colors, 10 x 10 inches each. Slowly working on others. The pieces need to be appealing, hence all the work on presentation in the pictures. The mailing is easier than a rolled item, which costs more to ship and doesn’t give customers a good look at the fabrics.

This looks better in person when displaying for a show – but not for online sales.

Much more ahead for us as we continue adding new items…let me know your thoughts and how you solved packaging problems.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Marketing – First of the Year!

“Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms”

I have a list………….

Don’t we all? I start one every year – but this year seems to be somehow different. I have a small composition book (like we used to use in elementary school, back in the day, and I got myself organized very differently. I have a page for yearly goals, then a page for monthly goals. I have separate pages for each of the weeks of the month. Right now the notebook is set up though March.

I can at a glance see what I’ve accomplished, and I have a way of listing items ahead in the month they’re due, and I can backtrack to begin working on them. This helps me see the bigger picture much better…..and I love crossing things off my lists.

I think the thing that is also different is that I am feeling so much better than probably the last five years. The weight is slowly rearranging itself, clothes are fitting, the knee doesn’t hurt, I’m getting stuff accomplished (more than I thought), and I feel calm, centered, and productive. A great way to start the New Year!

We are concentrating on our Etsy shop,(small listing on the right side of the blog…) in preparation for moving to the market on Artizan Made.

Lots of new pictures, revising items, getting ready to do a “retirement sale” of older items that have been around the country one or two times. We’ve lived in places where we could have better photography set-ups, but we are making do. Lots of great suggestions and tips from Rachel Biel of The Fiber and Textile List – she is amazing when it comes to set-up, marketing, and all-round general encouragement.

I am looking for a royalty-free piece of music for our second marbling video, finishing up pieces that have languished for years, taking apart a major piece from 2003 and modernizing it with my new skills, keeping up with blogging (I WILL hit 1000 blog posts this year…….) and constantly looking for new venues and ideas.

Here’s to 2017! What are you doing to start your year out right?

Art in 2016 – Part 6 in Review – More Small Works

There were a lot of other small items completed – some UFO’s and some brand new. The small piece at the left (24 0nches square) was an OLD top from many years ago – part of a pattern kit for customers using marbled fabrics. The quilt top had some serious rolls of fabric where the iron (and the user…) had pressed wrong. So I to0k out all the stitches, fixed it, made the sandwich, and then requilted it with my practiced free motion skills. A lot of new patterns from Lori Kennedy’s The Inbox Jaunt – she has amazing tutorials.

Then there were pieces where I looked through pieces of marbled fabric we had saved and waited for one to speak to me. A lot of them did in the course of the year. “Sonoran Desert” was one of those. this was done on white denim, and it was a pattern I’ve not quilted before – but it spoke to me of the saguaros of the Sonoran Desert.

Didn’t like this binding – too sloppy to control, so did a regular fabric binding. It hung in our library show and now has a new home with a woman who lived in Tucson for a number of years. Added a few semi-precious pieces of turquoise, agates and lava.

A friend keeps us supplied with all sorts of remnants of cottons, polys and silks. We used a couple to see if they would marble – and they did – spectacularly. One of them went immediately to our son in Seattle – he loved the dark colors – said they were “sexy.” The one he received was “Sliver of Moonlight.” First pic is of the plain marbled fabric, second is seeing the stitching. Unfortunely no final pic of it mounted.

This one is same fabric – black poly-silk, and is called “Whispers in the Moonlight.”

The finished piece is mounted on a canvas frame covered in black linen, and it “floats” about the frame.

There are more pieces, but I need to move on to new projects…..more on an upcoming sale we are having – next blog post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

hitting 1000 b logposts……

Art Year in Review – Part 5 – Other Shows in 2016

Our first solo show was wonderful. We were guest artist the month of August in the Essex Junction Library, a wonderful space in the community room. The fiber pieces hanging on the brick walls softened the room a great deal. Great reception for folks, hosted by our dear friends the Williamsons. Lots of good discussions, and I tried something new – a “completed” piece that I still am not happy with, and I asked for suggestions for re-doing/changing the piece- great ideas, and I will certainly do an interactive piece again for future shows.

April through June, Jericho Town Hall, “Double Exposure” – artwork and a piece of literature/quote that goes with it.

June through September, Unsworth Law Offices, a selection of fiber and digital work.

Phoenix Books with the Essex Art League, 2016, small works.

Old Red Mill Gallery with the Essex Art League, digital work, as well as ongoing fabric sales

October through April 2017, Maltex Building with Burlington City Arts – large works. These are large pieces, and many of them have not shown anywhere before, so it was exciting to visit them in their 6-month home. Third floor, so go visit!

Misfiring Synapses

Ocean’s Bounty

Endangered: Rainforest

Nature 1: Rock Garden

The Shallows

Black and White with a Hint

Jungle

Wetlands

Soaring

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