Archive for the ‘fabric marbling’ Category

Getting Ready for SALES!

So for the first time in MANY years, we are actually ready for the holiday shopping season. Newsletter went out Sunday, sales are planned, website has had a significant makeover, and the Etsy store is stocked. So here’s what’s coming…….

Black Friday Special

For your shopping pleasure, you will find everything on our website at 20% off. Good on Friday, November 23, until 11:59 PM. Spend $40.00 and receive our Table Runner Pattern FREE! After your order clears, we will email you the PDF of the pattern. Our website page is here. Orders placed will take two weeks to complete.

Small Business Saturday Special

Free shipping in the continental United States on everything on our website, including art work. Support Small Business Saturday! Our website page is here. Orders placed will take two weeks to complete.

Cyber Monday Special

One day only, CYBER MONDAY, 50% off fabric pieces in our Etsy Store. 20% off all artwork. Good until Monday, November 26, at 11:59 PM.

Some Finished Projects

A busy week, no question about it! Since we are leaving for a few days away and up in Sedona, I had a long list of things that needed to be finished before we left. I’m happy to say I got it ALL done….as well as start the list for next weekend! Cannot stay idle – too many projects to do!

First up is part of an order we really can’t say too much about, but we sent off a load of marbled ribbons to Manhattan for a magazine shoot coming up. When we can say more, we will….it’s pretty cool…..

And…as part of the ongoing table runner project for my second mom, I finished the last of the 5 table runners and delivered it in time for set-up for Thanksgiving. I am finished with old white polyester, but the runners did work out beautifully. This last one was really hard on the eyes, so I only did three motifs, rather than the five. I extended the size by making the connecting pieces wider, and then I went to town on feathers. Love doing feathers, especially since I never figured I’d ever be able to do them. This was the one delivered in June.

This is the last of the five.

And…I finished the makeover of my Christmas quilt.  I learned a great deal. I still have to work at the trapunto, but my goal with this makeover was to get the star blocks to be the prominent feature of the quilt. I did three kinds of stippling, from micro to very large. And I did bobbin work for the first time, using the Razzle Dazzle thread from Superior. I picked up a small Christmas tree stencil, traced it on the back (and learned I need some new markers), and then quilted with the front facing down on the machine. It worked really well and I love the effect. I am planning to add a few beads as tree ornaments when I get a chance. I did a lot of machine quilting on the marbled centers of the stars, on the nonpareil pattern. I can tell I have definitely done a lot of machine quilting this year, because it was far easier to follow the pattern than it has been in the past. I now understand what quilters mean when they say “pedal to the metal,” as I was  very speedy with the tiny and medium stippling. I also tried a new pattern in the border and it was moderately successful. Again, fast speed, and from a distance you really can’t tell that a lot of it is uneven. I liked the pattern. Here she be:

Using Marbled Fabrics in Quilts

When we started marbling, we were hooked from the very first piece. The problem was…what do we do with the fabric? Each piece was so gorgeous it was hard to cut into it. We knew we had to get over that mindset. Folks consistently asked, “What do you do with the fabric? I don’t know how to use it.” Confession time – I wasn’t quite sure either. I saw a book and thought marbled fabric would look cool. Now it was “put up or shut up.”

I was a beginning quilter with virtually no good color sense…that was hubby’s field. I figured black goes with everything, so my first quilt was an attic window pattern.

This was a nice way to show off smaller pieces of marbling, but I had to stretch further. It took a number of years before I stopped being afraid of any color except black. I started a Block of the Month, using blocks from Judy Martin. I became more daring…this time it was not black…..but other solids. I built the designs on the colors in the marbling. My January block had a definite “coolness,” so I looked for solids with some texture that would work. I started to expand design ideas and felt that traditional blocks could be the key to using these fabrics.

Now another confession…..when I first started doing quilting, I was pretty much “stitch in the ditch”….with metallic threads, no less. The quilt above is 12 years old, and I took it apart (oy) and used my newly acquired FMQ skills. I didn’t stitch the marbled blocks, as I wanted them to stand out.

The completed quilt – marbled fabrics within traditional blocks. You can read more about the actual quilting here.

I was hooked on finding some great traditional blocks that could spotlight marbling and go together harmoniousl. Summer……..I had some great neon orange cotton, a nice piece of Moda Marbles, but I needed additional fabrics so the quilt wasn’t overloaded with green. I stretched with the print fabrics I added to complement the marbled fabrics.

There’s lots of machine quilting throughout, but the marbling has been left on its own. (I also took this quilt apart…. kind of obsessive. But as quilters, we KNOW what we want. More about the quilting here).

At this point, I had a great piece of marbled fabric that said “I want to be fish.” I found a traditional block that could be used as fish. Thus the “fish quilt” was born (you can read about that quilting here). This time I quilted the marbled fabric by following the lines of the pattern and used stitches from my workhorse Bernina.

The completed quilt –

I started getting very bold – it never occurred to me to just quilt the marbled fabric itself. This was a major breakthrough. Traditional is fine, and I still work with traditional patterns, but quilting the marbled pattern gives a completely different look to a quilt. This quilt, “Nature 1: Rock Garden,” became my first quilt accepted into a juried show, “Expressions in Textiles.” It is very zen-like, and the quilting emphasizes the rock garden and sand.

Go traditional or go contemporary. Don’t be afraid of the marbled fabrics. They can be the spark that makes your quilt.

 

Works in Progress…..

…yeah, I know, I’m still behind….but I have been working.

There are a bunch of things going on, one of which is finished and waiting to go up in Etsy, and the other two in various stages of completion. The completed piece started in a traditional clam shell pattern that I put aside in my stash. Since most of the small quilts i have done as practice pieces have all sold in Etsy, I figured to do a few more. This is a great piece of fabric, and it reminded me of the few times I went clamming on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Outer Banks, especially the bay side. So I just let the design guide my free motion quilting.

Quilting pieces like this is so zen-like, and I love the effects.

I serged the edges in a fine stitch, just shy of being a rolled edge. I knew I was going to add some yarn to the outer edge to simulate the foam of waves receding. But the piece also needed some focal points. I was looking around to perhaps buy some small clam shells and not having any luck (had no idea that there are so many packaging types labeled “clam shell”). It finally occurred to me to go to my second mom, who is a fanatic when it comes to shells…..she has LOADS of clam shells, so I had my pick, and then hubby added clear nail polish to bring out the subtle colors.

Problem was I still felt I needed some blues for accent, so I spent about an hour sewing on a variety of blue seed beads…..and it looked terrible. I pulled them off, only to realize I shouldn’t have any problem with beads coming off other pieces I do…they were secure. Went to get the white yarn and saw some cool blue yarn I have used in the past to simulate water. So…….got the fabric glue and went to town on the edges. I like the final result – don’t love it, but I do like it, and since it’s really a practice piece, I know someone else will like it too. Here goes:

Next up are some small squares and rectangles from about 10 years ago, as I wanted to do something with geodes. I pulled these out again to see about small Etsy pieces. I laid them out and realized I had kind of a cool wall hanging developing.

The quilting is completed on all seven, and the serged edging just kind of fades into the background, just like I like it. This is the basic stone pattern in marbling. What I discovered with them this time is I used a “micro” stippling for the white spaces, and all of a sudden I had a great sand effect.

Love the effect!

I was thinking originally to connect the pieces with beads, but then I found some beige Offray ribbon that we marbled. Gorgeous!! What I don’t use will go up in Etsy or Tophatter.

And then I decided to look through the beads and stones to find something for the very bottom. Lava and some tree agate…..

Hopefully by next week I will have a finished piece.

And then…as I am trying to work on some patterns, I started free motion quilting another piece of stash fabric. I used some Superior blue silk, with Bottom Line in the bobbin. I like the effect of not too large thread just outlining the design.

I have decided to go with an orange Rainbow for some of the piece.

Again, hopefully, a finished piece for next week, along with a completed pattern. Lots to do!

Crazy? Maybe Yes, Maybe No……

So.

Crossroads.

Had dinner last night with a really good friend to discover she had a rough week, nearly turned upside-down. And her former boss has medical problems (like being the 179th case of an artery problem since 1745). All of a sudden my depression didn’t seem that all important. And I left dinner feeling hugely better and came home to hit the machine for an hour, making good progress on a new small piece.

This was the culmination of about a week of wondering if my art quilt had made it into a fairly prestigious show. Antsy for the whole week, as I knew all the decisions had been made, and I was wondering why we hadn’t heard anything. I was trying to stay positive, as I believe if we send negative thoughts out into the universe, we will be repaid with negativity. Hard to do when I already was 0 for 2 in submitting work this year. I kept thinking “third time’s the charm.”

At 4 PM I had the email. Not good news. Very nice rejection letter – I’ve had loads of those over the years, especially in writing. The very first fiber show I entered I was accepted in, and I think had I been able to keep up creating work without having to worry about a teaching load, I would be in better shape as an artist, with many more shows on the resume. But that was not to be. I looked at the accepted list, and it seemed like it wasn’t the same-ole same-ole list of people who always make it into shows. That was encouraging, at least. Out of 128 entries, 20 were accepted.

Once I heard that, instead of feeling better, I think I got a little angry. Had I known that so few pieces were going to be accepted, I really don’t think I would have entered and saved the 40 bucks. The odds are definitely against you with those numbers.

The thing is, I do think this piece is exceptional. It’s unlike anything I’ve done so far, and it certainly met the theme – I felt it did. Your reaction to the stigma of mental illness. Have suffered from depression and needing drugs to help me through the last years of teaching, I know how the brain can react in stress situations. It’s nothing we can see, but it’s there. So I chose to look at mental illness from a single brain cell that is misfiring. I thought in the overall collection of pieces this would be one very organic “don’t forget the brain’s role in all this” statement.

And let’s face it, no one is working with marbled fabrics like I am. I think I was able to show with this piece that you can a textile that isn’t often used and manipulate it into a statement. It seems like “different” is what art quilt shows are looking for, and this piece was quilted to emphasize the message, not quilted just for the sake of showing off quilting skills (which is what one quilt show seemed like that I attended – and this January show wasn’t an “art quilt” show).

So now it’s a case of really thinking through what I want to focus on for the next couple of years, while I still have the vision (literally) to create pieces. While working toward a specific show and deadline works for me, especially when I have to really think through the creation of a piece from idea to finished product, maybe it isn’t where I need to be. Bottom line, I want our business to make some money. That means more online product and outlets. Smaller quilt pieces are selling in my Etsy store, so I need to create more of those (and three are right now in the works). And I want to continue to learn and take classes, which isn’t possible when I’m trying to meet a lot of deadlines. I want my work in galleries, and I want to be able to travel and do some teaching of marbling. I need to take the time and think through new possibilities.

Which means that karma and the universe may be showing me why the piece was rejected (and maybe not……).

Without further ado, here’s the quilt in its online debut. “Misfiring Synapses,” 17 x 21 inches, unpolished red satin, black satin, Superior Threads, batting, cotton backing.

PS – may just have lined up my first gallery……

Work in Progress Wednesday

Busy week! The commission piece (the triptych that wasn’t) is done, awaiting beading. As I was on the floor at yoga last Friday, I was looking at a very skinny part of the wall and thought, this would be perfect for a long piece. On Thursday night I had started the stitching on the lichen, and I absolutely loved the way they worked out, and I no longer wanted to cut the piece into three. This skinny wall section will be perfect. So over the weekend I steamed and blocked the piece, got the binding on and hand-stitched down. Love it! Took it to yoga on Monday to show her, and she is thrilled. The only thing needed at this point is some blue beads along the “stream” to add an additional color and bring the piece together. Formal pictures next week when the beading is done.

Also completed are two new fiber bowls for my gift baskets of marbled fabrics, set to go up in the Etsy store. We’re doing pictures later today so I can get the stuff up in the store. Wrapping clothesline with fabric is the absolutely perfect activity for watching television at night.

And…I am finally starting another major piece that has been brewing for a couple of months. I’ve had the backing since October, and the marbled fabric was done in September. I finally got the batting two weeks ago, and today I made the sandwich, chose thread, and started the quilting. It’s sort of a whole cloth, but not really. There’s no piecing at this point until this center medallion is done, and then I’ll just kind of see what happens. This seems to be the way I work….intuitively, guessing along the way, trial and error. Most of the time it works.

Here’s the first focus fabric….very “brain-looking,” and I’m approaching it as though these were dendrites in the brain. Doing a thread check –

– going for the one on the top, as I like the black section in the thread…looks like the nerve endings are skipping, which is the look I want. The lower thread will be in the bobbin.

I started the stitching, and then I took everything out – not happy with tension, and I wanted to analyze the pattern yet again.

This picture, when I saw it through the view screen of the camera, made me somewhat upset. I couldn’t see the discrimination of the black and the blue through my own eyes. I am having to look at it through a photo, so I know where I want to stitch. THis is the first time that I am aware of my eyes not being true to what I am seeing and want to do. Doesn’t make me happy…..

 

So I took my own advice from the Monday Marketing post to just get in there and do the work…I did, and I have a lot to show for it, with more to come.

 

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

 

Happy Pi Day! It’s the math nerd in me celebrating……no more having to plan special activities. Now back to regular blogging….(I started this on the iPad….)

Hmmmmm…..not sure if this is going to get any better….took me forever to log in, but I think I figured out what I was doing wrong…..now to get the pictures I want…..

That said, it has been pretty productive when it comes to fabric, even amidst the move. I finished my iPad cover with the feathers from the February free motion quilting challenge, and I’m really happy with it. In fact, at a birthday party last night, three of my friends want one and suggested I put them in my Etsy store. Something to consider idea when we return, as the Etsy store is disabled right now, as we are taking some of the product, with us to Seattle.

The front is a great big feather. I love the ideas people are posting, so I went with some Superior Rainbow and added some extra spines.

The Front

I added a small facing, and then added velcro to the inside in three different places to hold the cover closed.

Some things i would definitely change next time around, but overall, I LOVE it….never thought I would be able to do machine feathers!

Now for an update on Visions……I didn’t get in. Plain and simple. But….I’m okay with it, despite the fact that the very first show I ever got into was a fairly prestigious one. I know that the work is excellent; it’s some of the best I’ve done. And I have more ideas just ready to go. It just seems like the only way you get validation for your work is to get it in to major shows. I will keep making work, because that’s what I want to do.

If it weren’t too old (2003), this is what I would have entered: my absolute, favorite piece ever. I won’t sell this, because I’ll never be able to make another one. It is now on the wall in our new home, as we actually have wall space for it. This is part of the Gaia series, where I do weavings with strips of marbled fabric. This is Gaia 2: Beginnings, affectionately know around here as my Pele quilt.

My machine quilting skills have come along tremendously since that piece. The fabric of “The Shallows” was created about the same time, but it has just been in a drawer, waiting for the right time, which I figured was now.

Here’s the fabric at the beginning – it looks pretty bland.

It’s a pretty large piece of marbled fabric.

Making some early decisions on thread and backing. Everything was done with Superior Thread – Bottom Line in the bobbin, a mixture of King Tut and Rainbows and Art Studio for all the rocks and shading. (I never did take a pic of the back…..)

I knew how I wanted to start, but I wasn’t thrilled with how the fabric looked, after not seeing it for so many years. I thought in my mind it looked far more interesting. But I started anyway.

Already I could see improvement in texture, so I figured I would be okay. But I was worried about the green spots, which were originally designed to be some kind of leaf….now I was thinking lichen. I also wasn’t happy with the amount of white showing…needed to do something with that.

At this point I am becoming quite enthused with how things are shaping up…..but that’s a LOT of pebbles, and it took most of December to get the pebbles where I wanted them, without affecting the “veining” left from the marbling.

I was also starting to think about shading, which I guess is more thread painting than free motion. I consulted with my art mom to get advice on scientific shading, in which the light source always comes from the northwest. So I needed to start thinking about shading all those rocks…..at this point I became very aware that there are a LOT of rocks. YOu can see some of the beginning shading here.

So January hits and I’m aware of my deadline, knowing I need to leave time for photography. I’m shading, and doing pebbles, and thinking about trimming. About one-fourth of the right side is cut off, as the proportions seemed much better without it – and a lot fewer pebbles that had to be completed…. I needed to think through the lichen, and if you look closely at the detail, it’s shredded money – perfect texture!

And finally: The Shallows

It’s a far cry from the original fabric, and it is now proudly hanging in our new home.

What’s for Sale….and Where Are We….

Wow. Lots of new visitors to the blog – and WELCOME!!!! I said to hubby about three weeks ago “are we ever going to get past 1400 readers a month?” (according to Google Analytics), and the next thing I know, a mere three weeks later, we just passed 2100 readers this last month. Yay! I promise to make visiting worthwhile. We’re getting ready for our first newsletter this month, so please feel free to sign up (the link on the right), and be entered to win some free marbled fabric.

I have a tab on the top navigation bar that takes you to some resources. I invite you to view those. If you are interested in this marbling journey of ours, click here. Some are great art blogs that I follow regularly. I invite you to send me your URL if you have a blog. Others are resources I actually use, feel great about, and can recommend wholeheartedly. Yes, I am an affiliate of some of them, so I am attempting to make a few pennies off your clicks. But as I said on that page, nothing is there that I don’t trust implicitly. When I get time, I like to take a piece of really cool marbled fabric and work with it in Photoshop. You can see some of the journeys in Digital Marbling (TN), and we plan on adding lots more.

Tuesdays I try to include cool stuff I’ve found on the web the previous week. I go through a lot of blogs and try to include interesting, amazing, unusual – and of course weird – links for you. I try to keep Wednesdays for works-in-progress, but right now the WIP is for an entry and I can’t show details….Mondays I try to give you some marketing advice – sometimes what I’m doing that I find helpful, and sometimes links to how other people are doing it amazingly well.

Lately I’ve started my own “Brain Dump,” as a way of making my list and then checking it off to see how I’m doing with projects. Sometimes there’s just too much floating around, and the mental noise makes us nuts. This is what I’m trying to do, and I invite you on Sundays to add your own Brain Dump for the week and see how you do. Each Sunday I’ll do my own brain dump and ask you to do yours in a comment. Then the following week you can post how you did….I may set up a FB page for this……

And now a SALE…..through Sunday at midnight ONLY. Any Sampler 1 package from our website at 15% off, and 15% off anything on our Etsy site. Now if you need to see what you buy, then the Etsy offerings are for you. If you want to be pleasantly surprised, then the website deals are for you.

Here’s how each works. On Etsy, we have some small art quilts that are mostly marbled fabrics, and a lot of pieces of marbled cotton – and one exceptional piece of red silk – even better in person than in the picture. Decide what you want, and the discount is taken at checkout. This week’s coupon: WK1SPECIAL

On the website we have a page that shows patterns, but what you get is a surprise to you. The swatches are marbled depending on mood, desire for different patterns, and colors. So if you like surprises, this is a deal! Code: SAMP1 Coupon Code.

We hope you’ll take time to browse the website and look at the fiber art we’ve created using marbled fabrics. Some of these pieces have traveled to juried shows. We have a few that need to get into the galleries, and we have a line of ideas just waiting for the time to become new fiber art.

You can follow us on Facebook – I am trying to get better about posting regularly. Sometimes deadlines just govern everything else! You can follow along on Twitter.

You can visit us at the La Conner Quilt Museum in April at Stashfest. We will have marbled fabric available to sell as part of the fundraiser for the museum.

And if you visit, please leave a comment. I always write back – it’s SO COOL to hear form people! So WELCOME again! Ain’t stitchin’ grand?

Getting an Art Critique

  I am really fortunate to have a couple of good friends who can help me with a critique when I am working on a new piece. Sometimes the piece flows, and sometimes I’m blocked in making decisions and moving ahead. It is made more complicated by the fact that I am trying to use our marbled fabrics to create unique art pieces. In surfing the web on a regular basis, I don’t see anyone else doing what I’m attempting to do with marbled fabric in the art quilt movement.

There are a lot of things to consider in developing these pieces of fiber art. Are my sewing skills strong enough? Are my quilting skills advanced enough? Does the fabric speak to us? Can the design tell an interesting story? Can I work with the principles of design?

In looking at all these questions, there are two that I am the weakest in, and this is where my group of friends can really help. Quilting skills and design principles.

Momcat is my first voice. She is a digital artist in her own right, and a self-taught expert in Greek pottery, among all the other skills in being a Renaissance woman. Suzan is my overall digital partner and a superb, published quilter and designer in her own right. Karin is a water color artist with a very strong sense of color and overall design organization. Hubby is the marbler and can see things in the designs that the rest of us miss.

I am at a point in this new piece where I needed advice. Which way should the piece hang, for one – vertical or horizontal. Usually that’s one of the last questions for me, because by the time I’m done, the piece has usually told me what it wants. With this piece, I need to decide this now, as I will need to work on the shading with a light source from the “northwest,” which is how scientific illustration is done. I was leaning in one way, and my group confirmed that. They pointed out that I already had a lot of the “shadows” developing on their own from the new orientation.

The second was size and pattern. I am fine with all the quilting on half of the piece, but the other half seems naked of color and looks like it would require some serious thread work that wouldn’t necessarily add to the overall effect. I had been thinking about potentially cutting away half of the piece. We looked at that possibility, and once we folded back some of the fabric (which had never occurred to me), we knew it needed to be tall and narrow, not wide and thick.

Now, Momcat had sent me some of her photos of rocks and lichen that Dali had painted, and I LOVED the lichen. I was initially thinking of marbling some very small silk flowers and then attaching them with some thread painting. The group didn’t like that idea – felt they were not “tough” enough for the texture of lichen. Momcat disappeared, only to come back with a small vial of green stuff that she proceeded to spread on the one or two rocks that are already green. Perfect! Upon closer look – they are very fine chopped-up pieces of old money from the Denver Mint. Who knew? I guess now this is a “mixed media” piece…..We are also thinking about using some coconut Husk or actual moss from a pet store – need to think that through.

Next question: facing vs. binding vs. frame. How do I want to finish this? I don’t see a basic binding. We talked about fabric as an inner mat and as a frame. We looked at serging the edges – which I have done with pieces in the past, much to one gallery owner’s chagrin – “wasn’t finished properly” was her verdict. But I always let the piece tell me what it wants. I am thinking this piece is telling me it doesn’t want anything more to constrain it beyond a facing that wraps to the back.

The final discussion revolved around light, medium, and dark. I know if I were to take a picture of this and turn it to black and white, everything would pretty much be medium values. I know it needs more dark, so I need to think through how to do that with thread…..or moss…..or coconut husk…..or…….actual small stones…….

I left energized, ready to complete the piece. Amazing how being with a great group of like-minded visual people can  make a difference!

Photoshop Friday – It’s 600 TIme!

Wow, I’ve written 60o blog posts! This from someone who could never keep a diary. I guess I just didn’t have the technology waaaayyyy back when. I have new work for this Photoshop Friday, but I thought it would be fun to view some of the first posts.

My first entry:

I finally did it! I set up a blog so I can write about our marbling and related art thoughts. I’ll be posting photos of the new Photoshop class I am starting. Be kind – I am learning how to take criticism!! This has been something I have been meaning to do as a way of recording process and product, and at the same time motivate me to do more fiber work. And…I can tell my students I am finally “almost” as technologically savvy as they are! (January 26, 2007…..)

I probably wasn’t convinced this would go beyond the Photoshop classes I was starting at the time. You can see my very first Photoshop drawing here. I have since changed blogging platforms, and I don’t have my backup close at hand, so the link will have to do.

Today my work is based either on photographic images I have taken or some of the marbled fabrics we have created. The piece I’m working on today is from fabric. Hubby was downloading pictures for ebay this week, and I saw this picture of fabric from a distance, and I said, hmmmm……

So here’s the original fabric.

Then I started working with some shapes from each section of the fabric.

Then I felt I needed to change the background for more ocntrast.

I’m not sure this background color is going to stay…I have also been playing around with gradients, and I think one of those might work.

Yup, definitely like this one the best.

 

Comments? What do you think? What else does it need?

 

Day One, Season 3

  I chose my “Explosion” piece for today because that’s the kind of excitement I feel starting this new season three. Seasons one and two of Cocreating Our Reality were eye-opening and exciting, and for the last few days I have been building up to starting a new journey today. First, I am so blessed to be retired and able to work on art when and where I want to, for as long as I want to. I get to spend every day with my hubby, and life is pretty much wonderful. Health problems – of course, who doesn’t have them at our age. But – that’s not stopping me from living a great life.

I discovered over the last two seasons when it was time to evaluate my goals, that I hadn’t really stretched myself – or thought big enough. So I have been pondering that for the last week or so. What is it I actually want to do?

First and foremost, kind of came to me last night in the moments before sleep, is probably the one most on my mind. I need to take this season and concentrate on me. It sounds selfish, but it isn’t. I have health issues that really need to be addressed, and for so many years they went to the side as other things – students, work, hubby – took their place. If I expect to be as creative for as long as I want, and get out and be politically active, and write – do all the things I want to – than I need to focus on my health. So that is goal number one for this season: take the cholesterol medicine, take my vitamins, watch what I eat, get out regularly and exercise, track my food intake, get some yoga teachings, get my blood readings where they need to be. I actually started thinking this way a few days ago, and I’m pleased to say the exercise has already increased, as well as having a bit more control over appetite.

A second goal is tied in to all this. I am getting a second opinion on my vision issues and will work to find strategies to help with the depth perception and balance issues. A new doctor’s appointment is scheduled for next week Thursday, and I have a teacher friend to talk to about some basic yoga stretches. I always knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, I need to learn to work with the new limitations.

Overall, for the first time, these two goals seem very positive. One hundred days from now, March 10, I expect that I will have been enormously successful at these first two. That statement alone is a major change for me. It’s very positive, rather than using the word “try.”

Business-wise I have some very specific goals.

Number three in my list is to solve the newsletter/collectors’ information issue. I am, as was said to a friend of mine, “leaving money on the table.” This has to be a regular business goal. I am considering taking Alyson Stanfield’s “Cultivating Your Collectors” class in February. That will depend on a number of things, primarily finances. I am good at reading and implementing, and since I accomplished four of Alyson’s goals in I’d Rather Be in the Studio!, I should be able to accomplish at least three this new season. So: newsletter, portfolio (which we will need for a major event the end of March), and I will look through the list for at least one other. Newsletter once a month should be definitely do-able. A collectors’ newsletter once a quarter should be reasonable. I’m sure there will be others to add here.

Number four is searching out wholesale suppliers for cutting back basic costs of making marbled fabric. As of yesterday I have a new wholesale account with Kona Bay fabrics, as we use their colored cotton quite successfully. We are looking for wholesale sources for premium white cotton, silk/satin ribbon (like Offray), and probably some other materials.

Number five is ramping up our Etsy shop, our Fine Art America galleries, Cafe Press, and looking in to Red Bubble, Three Sisters, and at least one other online selling site. My overall goal in all this is to be able to update these sites once a week, as well as include items from these sites in our soon-to-happen newsletters. I’ve tried setting monetary goals for Etsy and Ebay, and they are very fickle, depending on the economy. I do tweet my Etsy and Ebay offerings once a week, which certainly drives traffic to the site, but I don’t see it converting. However, I know that it is only a matter of time, as is the case with this blog. I am about to hit 1500 viewers per month, so I know it is consistency. (Concerning the blog…when Facebook changed its latest set of operating, my blog numbers dropped. Turns out, on exploration, Networked Blogs was a casualty and needed to be reactivated. Once that happened, I saw numbers increase again…..I am amazed at how net-savvy we need to be these days!)

Art-wise I also have some very specific goals.

Number six is to enter a major show with new work. The deadline for this is mid-February, and I am already hard at work on the first of two pieces. The fabric has been created, and the ideas are flowing. Here’s just some of the fabric…..

Unpolished red satin

If I get accepted, great. If not, I will have two new lovely large art pieces for our body of work. But I am putting out to the Universe that this will be show-worthy art.

Number seven is to create the kit for Marbled Seasons. Yesterday’s blog post showed the first of the four small quilts/table runners. I used to have several patterns, all of which I sold the rights to. So I just need to make more. For this goal I want this set of kits completed, and two new ideas for pattern kits, plus a rewrite of my Polynomial Quilt pattern – which I used the quilts for that very successfully in an adult algebra class to teach multiplying, and it was highly successful.

Number eight is to be completely prepared – except for minor loose ends – by March 10, for StashFest at the La Conner Quilt Museum in La Conner, Washington. We have been invited to participate, and it means marbling about 400 fat quarters in the next three months…..another reason for looking carefully at wholesale outlets! This is an interesting goal, because after our last guild presentation, I put out to the universe that it would be fun to travel and do demos in the Southern Arizona, southern New Mexico area. Well, two days later I had this email…..as Dale Anne Potter, my muse with Law of Attraction said, I was open to the possibilities.

Number nine will build on the previous. Develop a letter/sample to go to local guilds for demos and classes. I think just the development at this stage, because we will be focused on making fabric for Washington.

Number ten, under the category of Miscellaneous, comes continuing to work on Art From the Heart, a site devoted to spreading peace and nonviolence in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. We had two new entries this last month, and I am hopeful for more.

Now that I have these written, I have to chuckle in that I was concerned about trying to get my goals coherent for this season. These are more detailed than the past two seasons, and they will certainly stretch me.

So Day One – I’m going to sew, work on some lists, and get ready for a small craft event on Saturday. Plus, it’s the holidays, and I want to “do more good” this year on a daily basis. May you have a really awesome day!

Work in Progress Wednesday

If you remember last week, I was about finished with my little autumn quilt/table runner. You can see the process here. I finished it this weekend, and today we marbled a piece for the winter piece. “Marbled Seasons” will shortly be available as a kit – all the seasons, or just one of them. I am writing the pattern now, and by the end of December should have all the quilts completed. They would also work as table runners. So here it is….

There are plenty of variations in this pattern. “Autumn Marbles” will have hand-marbled silk leaves in the kit, as well as directions for the “windy” free motion quilting. There is enough marbled fabric to add another set of log cabin blocks to make the quilt a little longer. The strips in this block all start out at one inch. the two different browns in this, as well as the backing, were from my stash, so you can “shop” at home for extra fabric.

I have started my next major art piece, from a piece of fabric we marbled over ten years ago. It’s time to do something with it. Here you see the marbled unpolished satin with its backing. I was auditioning threads.

The piece itself looks very flat and pretty uninteresting. It will be a challenge of my new skills to make this do what my mind wants.

This piece is a little over 18 inches by 54 inches. We did it when we still worked in the big tray. The additional years make it very difficult for us to work longer hours and do larger pieces of fabric. So I am hoarding those pieces I still have.

A closeup showing some very interesting veining within the piece. That needs to become a focus point.

I have started the basic “first level” quilting. All the stones are getting outlines. Already a lot more interest.  Those two upper right beige ovals have been taken out, requilted, and lay a whole lot flatter.  And, you won’t see more pictures until finished and entered……..

Work in Progress Wednesday

Wow, being retired has given me a whole new appreciation for preparing for the holidays. In the past, if I was lucky, I managed to get some things done during the Thanksgiving weekend, but everything else depended on just how tired I was at the end of each school day. Not this year – my cards are designed and ordered – the pic at the left is of a great piece of red silk that I took into Photoshop. Really pleased with them.

Before I go in to the latest project, an update on the deer quilt from last week. We finally got it hung in our bedroom, its designated spot for the last ten-plus years. It looked awful…..there was absolutely nothing redeeming in it at all. Even hubby, who has loved the quilt since I first saw the pic realized it was pretty bad. So Karen S is the winner of the give-away of border trees, and some lucky child is going to get a “huggy” quilt. In the bedroom now hangs our Desert Heat quilt, and it looks perfect.

Now for the new stuff…..Hubby created a really great fat quarter of cotton that reminded me of a New England autumn. We had marbled some silk leaves earlier this fall, and I had in the back of my mind to make an autumn quilt and use the leaves. Well, now I had all the fabric, pulled a couple of browns from the stash, and was ready to go.

The start of the log cabin….this is the fourth restart….for some reason I wasn’t able to follow my own directions…..

First tentative layout…..

Another tentative layout…sorry for the lousy pic….

The three finished blocks – reminds me of walking through woods carpeted in falling leaves.

Playing around with the marbled leaves….have probably decided on this layout. Love the border fabric, which was very serendipitous. That fabric would not have worked had I gone with a different layout.

I love the leaves!

Ready for batting and quilting……more next week. Suggestions on a quilting design?

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 – Update

I’m going to just think as I write for this post. After four full months of almost non-stop marketing – and a whole lot of sewing in there also – the business is very busy. We have some things coming up, some things we’ve dropped, and it’s time to evaluate where we have come and where we need to go.

We have dropped a potential art show for a variety of reasons, none of which are really positive in the long run for both us and the business. That was a hard decision to make, and I learned a couple of things. One, we don’t have to jump at everything and say yes to a possibility if it doesn’t feel right. When we were first starting out, I wanted to go after every possibility, even if it was unrealistic. Two, if we have to “push” to make it work, then chances are it isn’t for us. Three, I really like being able to take things at our speed. Even though we have limited years to build our art business, it is more important for us to enjoy each other, take opportunities to be together, and be able to actually create art when we want to. Those were some good lessons on which to ponder (for my English-language friends, no “ending with a preposition”….).

I have started working again on publicizing Art from the Heart, something I really want to do. I am behind on it, but I am slowly seeing progress. I am working on a major commission and learning lots, and I’m nearly half-way through. We are marbling a lot, which we are enjoying, and it seems like we are back to where we were before water and paint and so on became issues. And….we have a guild workshop to do the beginning of November.

Now, we used to do a lot of workshops, and we – not realizing it at the time – blew lots of opportunities to sell fabric. We would go and demonstrate, but never have fabric for folks to buy. Nothing like violating one of the basic rules of marketing – always have product because you never know when someone will want to buy. When I went to the School of Threadology  at Superior Threads a year this past April, I took some fabric and sold out in 10 minutes – I could have sold a LOT more. Lesson learned.

So for this workshop we are doing things very differently. We will go with fat quarters and a couple of gift baskets. We will have hand-out of all our contact information, supplies connections, order forms, and class sign-ups. We need to get back to dealing with all the guilds (and there are a lot more in the city since we were doing this), especially since we have more to offer than when we were originally doing this. And….since we are talking about going east again next year, I need to put the word out and see if we can book a few gigs.

We will do a demonstration in our cookie sheet, so we can create a lot of small pieces to demonstrate patterns, and everything will be easy to transport. Then I have a lot of quilts (as opposed to art pieces) to show a group of beginners. The first quilt I show is my small Attic Window, where I felt the only color I could use with the marbled fabric was black. We’ll come forward to the fish quilt, which I am in the process of re-quilting, since those skills have tremendously improved. Hopefully people will feel inspired to buy/order fabric, and we’ll be busy for the bulk of November.

I need to take pictures of those quilts and get them online to document the journey. October and November hopefully will be extremely busy making and selling fabric!!

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