Archive for the ‘in progress’ Category

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.

Art in 2016 – Part 2 Review – Small Works

A lot of smaller work was started, finished, and revised this year – part of the need to create more pieces, and part to experiment with new ideas. We also tried more framing (pretty successful) and mounting on canvas (very successful, and not that all expensive). The biggest issue seemed to be people didn’t know what to do with small wall hangings or table-toppers. By framing them we are leading our customers to see the piece on a wall, looking like artwork. This is also working well for galleries and stores with small spaces.

The “Chocolate Box” piece on the left was done some 18 years ago as part of a challenge on the QuiltArt list to create an 8 x 8 piece with the theme of “brown.” I pulled all kinds of browns from my stash, including some marbled fabrics, and then I zigzagged them together with the idea of creating a “Whitman’s Sampler.” I have always thought it looked very cute. I rediscovered it this summer, adding batting and backing, variegated thread in a more prominent zigzag, put on a binding, and mounted it on fabric. Lots of good feedback on the piece.

Another piece that saw framing was a small piece of marbled poly-satin that a friend (Suzan Drury of Saltwater Systems) added glitter to at least 10 years ago. Loved it, but it didn’t translate into something someone would want to buy – so on a whim I added batting and backing and then quilted it – thus “Pond 3” – a favorite topic. I learned to do sand dollars as part of a tutorial from Lori Kennedy (theinboxjaunt.com), so you will see clam shells, sea urchins, and sand dollars throughout the small piece. It looks quite striking. One thing I learned in the framing process was to move to lighter-colored frames to keep a piece from feeling constrained.

this year saw the debut of a new series – “Leftovers.” The idea for this came about when we would clean the marbling tray after a session. There were wonderful designs of leftover paint as we emptied the carrageenan. We started saving some small pieces to capture to designs – all of which are very organic and “earth strata.” Two pieces made their debut at Phoenix Books in Essex as part of a rotating display of work by the Essex Art League. There are LOTS more to come – all of which need me to stare at a piece for a while to determine how it wants to be stitched. They are all simply framed and look almost like photographs.

 

Leftovers 1: Sunrise

Before stitching on From Above:

Ultrasuede marbles wonderfully. Over the past couple of years we have been doing yards of this for Bead My Love to sell at the various bead and gem shows. We get to keep a few pieces for ourselves, and this year I finally attacked quilting one – with some interesting lessons….the fabric feels like suede, but it doesn’t translate to a puffiness when quilting (note to self: use extra batting for the next piece). Also, the various colors didn’t show well, which is why I went with Superior Threads New Brytes yellow – a thicker thread. this is a 12 x 12 piece of ultrasuede. Introducing “Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms.”

Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms

One more piece – we also started marbling flowers and leaves from the silk flower sections of the craft stores – another way to use up left-over paint in the marbling tray. Here’s “Autumn,” a collage of some marbled silk leaves. Covered canvas, 8 x 10 inches.

More next time as I continue to review the year. Comments welcome!

Art in 2016 – Part 1 Review

It has been a banner year for art – especially in the making of art. When I stopped to reflect, I realized we created more this year than any other year – some big, many small, and all taught us something! I’m doing several blog posts, since I don’t have pics for a bunch of gifts – awaiting the jpgs in the email….

Yesterday was the presentation of a commission for dear friends of ours. It was supposed to be for their anniversary in September, but just didn’t happen….Once knee surgery was over and I could move around fairly easily, I set to work. The marbled fabric had been done since April, and I had been mulling designs since then. It was time….

I started working with the Chinese symbol for “family,” and after just this first littyle bit, I have even more appreciation for the art quilts of Kathy Nida. This involved tracing the symbol, determining which side would be “up” when ironing onto the front of the fabric, adding WonderUnder, and then making sure it actually worked – especially since I had a limited amount of the fabric choice for the symbol. First success.

Next was creating the pattern for the side panels, loosely based on a table runner by Lonnie Rossi and definitely made my own. Same issues with being sure of right and wrong side, since there would be two panels, and the designs would mirror each other. Much angst – especially on the choice of the background – I had a peach silk that worked with the overall colors, but looked terrible with the small pieces actually on it. The fabrics were extra marbled fat quarters that didn’t make the cut in terms of main color, but they were all complementary.

I put off for the longest time doing the zigzag satin stitch and then discovered that the fabric frayed very easily. A lot of adjustment, sharp pointy scissors, and FrayCheck got me through this section.

The satin stitch….forever…..

I had one panel completed and then started on the second panel. It probably would have been easier doing them both at the same time, but I wanted to be sure the idea could be executed before I was completely committer.

The request was for some apple blossoms quilted into the design – originally to be on the border….but it worked out differently. I Googled images of apple blossoms and determined a free motion pattern, and then began. As long as the petals had ragged edges, the pattern worked.

Starting the apple blossoms

Lots of flowers over both panels – really liked how subtle the patterns are.

Checking to see if the three panels really do work together….

Time to square off and do the binding – the side panels had a LOT of ironing as they were becoming distorted. Note to self – allow more edging next time around…..

Preparing the canvas for mounting the panels. We have started mounting much of our work on canvas frames covered with a complementary fabric. Much sturdier, easier to hang, and people seem to view them more as “art.”

20-inch square canvas covered in poly-linen.

Thinking it’s going to work…….each side panel is three 8 x 8-inch  canvases, mounted together and covered.

The final product – “Family.”

Sunday Stories – The Chakra Commission

ch3

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.

RootChakraWeb

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.

Chakras_Page_1

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….

DSCN4900

DSCN4905

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.

chak2

ch3

chak1

DSCN5078

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

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

Chakra7

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.

Second Design Photo Analysis

I worked with another photo last night, and I didn’t have nearly the success with adjustments and filters as I did with the first photo. Now I need to think through why that is so. Here’s the new photo – driftwood from Vashon Island in Puget Sound.

Well, crap….seems like I did it again in saving…or not saving. I need to remember to save everything as a psd file first to preserve the layers, and then save each piece individually. Okay, bottom line, nothing really spoke to me with the different adjustments, so I need to think through why that is so.

Is it because this is a fairly abstract image to begin with, mostly line and color? Perhaps that is why I am so fascinated with tree bark to begin with. The lines, shadows, differing colors to create the texture. And this picture, knowing it is driftwood, also reeks of a hidden history after being tossed in the water and then left high and dry. But how would I create some of that mystery?

What initially prompted me to take a picture of this? Probably all the smooth curved lines and the knot.

Looks like all kinds of interesting lichen within all those folds. The colors are so subtle, but at the same time I see a nice interplay of line and shadow.

I look at that knot and see a captured sea spirit. The more I look at this one, the more I am intrigued by it. The curves are so soft amidst all that hardness.

Now that I look at a couple of additional questions, I am stumped. Main idea? I like the thought of a captured sea spirit. Areas worth keeping? I can see leaving out everything else from these two crops. Other elements to add? No clue. But as I ponder, the first thought that comes to mind is to carry the lichen out into a border, and maybe the overall piece doesn’t need to be square or rectangular, maybe more oval so that the spirit seems encased and surrounded but is really still there. Don’t know if that is making sense….

How and where can more pizazz be added? Again, no clue. But…perhaps a lot of thread painting would be needed for surface texture.

I can see this going to sketches as the next step and seeing what develops from there. Comments?

Work in Progress Wednesday – Learning Lots!!

Well, this has been a week of learning experiences, including running the machine needle through the tip of my finger. I’m somewhat frazzled deciding on a project, since I don’t have any looming deadlines. I do, however, have a list of projects that need doing, so I picked one from that list and then added another.

First, from the UFO list. Several years ago (going on three?) I took a class with a friend on a Judy Niemeyer pattern, Stepping Stones. You can see the pattern here. Originally it was going to be a king-sized bed quilt, but I was still teaching, so that got put on hold. When I reorganized the studio (twice), the blocks made it into the UFO pile, and when I made my list in May of projects, I listed these. But….I listed them as a potential table runner, figuring that way they would be done, and I could actually use the table runner, as we have a new dining room set (new to us – we’re babysitting it for a friend). I would also have enough for 6 placemats, too.

Well, there were loads of problems. Could I find the black fabric I was using for connector strips (three searches)? Could I do all the matching, since it had been about 3 years? How would I quilt it? What would I use for backing? I got the four completed blocks into one runner, and then I spent the next three hours taking out all the paper….note to self: you still need to vacuum. The blue I thought to use for backing was a stretchy polyester that wasn’t long enough, so plan B was leftover dark blue from another quilt back. Then I had to buy batting.

Finally everything is together and ready for quilting…..and I had no idea what to do for the quilting. Didn’t seem like feathers would work. Didn’t want to do a stitch-in-the-ditch. Tried some outlining, but I didn’t like it. Then I thought about the overall loopy pattern from the May challenge, but ended up picking all that out. I realized I would need to go with monopoly thread, so the stitching wasn’t obvious. And I was playing around with tension, including two more ripping sessions.

I tried doing some partial circles on each block, so it would look like rippled water. And then I discovered the settings on my machine were set for the decorative stitch I used in the black borders. Seems like I still had the setting on one of the decorative stitches, and I was trying to free motion and there was a lot of drag. I also discovered that I could use a variation of a zigzag stitch and still have the feed dogs up. Turns out I liked the ripple effect, and that’s what I went with for the rest of the runner. Here’s a pic:

Here’s the finished table runner, which is absolutely perfect on the table. It will work with any of the leaves when we put them in.

Then I was feeling somewhat at loose ends. I had been watching The Quilt Show and following the color lessons from Michelle Jackson. I decided to do the first color study, and again I learned a huge amount. The first lesson was really interesting, especially since I have a lot of trouble choosing and working with color. This was to take  a monochromatic color and determine dark, medium, and light. I chose greens, because I have a lot in the stash. I discovered that when I’m choosing, I really need to analyze tones and hues. I also need to be sure there is definite contrast. The first study I did was the one where you had a light, medium, and dark, with not a huge amount of contrast. I did not have enough contrast within those three colors.

I also was working with fusing for like the second time ever, and my pattern pieces were not always meeting up. I spent a lot of time trying to make this piece look like something – going back to linear me and not being able to just work without it having to be “something.”

I finally got all the pieces ironed down, and I felt I was moderately successful. Mostly because I learned a great deal about choosing the colors. I was still trying to figure out what to do with the piece. Yes, it’s just an exercise, but the linear part of me needs it to be “something.” Ideally I want to be able to work with light, medium, and dark marbled fabric, but I can see I have a long way to go.

Again, I couldn’t figure out what to do with quilting it. I tried out one decorative stitch and didn’t like it. I reverted back to the satin stitch I was doing two table runners ago. All of a sudden I began to like the piece more. It began to look more “painterly,” and pretty abstract in a pleasing way. I ended up binding in, and the piece would work as a nice little runner or table mat for a vase. It’s going up in my Etsy store.

Who knows where I’m headed next? There are 6 placemats to finish…..

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

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!

Plans for the New Year


I realized that I ended Season Two of Cocreating Our Reality on November 19. I have been so busy sewing and working on projects – and being positive – that the day went by. December 1 is coming this week, and I’m planning to start Season 3 that day. One thing I have learned is to try to be more specific with my goals, and yet not limit myself within the goals. I also need more goals, both creatively and business-wise.

So how did I do?

* Enjoy life through a couple of trips and dinners/other social engagements with friends: San Diego, Austin, Houston, New Orleans. Absolutely! We went to Sedona in July, San Diego in August, Santa Fe in September, Sedona in October, and Prescott in November. We are planning to head to San Diego in two weeks. Obviously a new goal is going to be continuing to get a trip in a month – in fact, TWO are scheduled for March.

* Finish “Artists Revisited” class, complete with the new quilt. Finished the class, the quilt is probably half done, and it is now awaiting sometime in late spring to finish it – there are two major pieces I am attacking for a show deadline in mid-February.

* Help with Tikkun Olam show at the Jewish Community Center. The show was very nicely staged. Didn’t sell anything, but had a lot of really good feedback.

* Plan for additional income each month through the business; the goal is to beat the previous month (August should beat July, and so on). We are marbling more often – at least twice a month – and generally selling all the fabric. Etsy has picked up, and a few other things are working, including a commission for 31 fat quarters. We have far exceeded what we did for income in all of last year, so we should end the year in very good shape.

* Take three tutoring clients in mathematics. Instead I accepted a position teaching college algebra one afternoon a week – 4 hours, plus prep time. About the same amount of additional time, and about the same amount of money. Way easier on the travel and schedule.

* Update<a href=”http://artfromtheheart.org” target=”_blank”> Art from the Heart</a> website and make plans for entries for the first anniversary of the Tucson shootings. Three new works of art have already been added, and more people are  beginning to talk about the site.

* Sewing projects: Tikkun Olam, Wayne Art Center, Betty’s commission, small rhythm piece, fish quilt redone, deer quilt finished, three additional quilt projects to be determined. No Wayne Art Center. Most of Betty’s commission is completed, the rhythm piece done, the fish quilt completed, the deer quilt finished, and three projects have been determined, all of which have been started.

* Complete the first three action plans in <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>I’d Rather Be In the Studio</span> by Alyson Stanfield. In fact, I did four. I need to attack the portfolio goal over these next 100 days, as well as get in gear on newsletters.

* Maintain goals through the Multiple Streams of Income class and set new 90-day goals. Did this – will set the new goals through Season 3.

* Market the gift basket through Marble-T Design and sell at least four. We’ve sold 3 so far, so good on us! We’ve got stuff for two more ready to go.

* Break 200 pounds. Did not come close. In fact, I have yet to step on the scale, which I will do tomorrow, as I really begin to attack this. What I noticed is that I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this, and nothing has happened that is positive. So I obviously need to rethink how I look at this. I am going on more than half my life being overweight, and something has to change. Either I accept myself as I am now, or I change into what I want to be. More meditation, a diet “sponsor,” a food diary, regular walking, and some journaling are on the list.

I do like being able to see concretely what has been happening. That’s one of the reasons I like the blogging. This is a definite way for me to keep myself accountable.

One goal so far for the new season: the Free Motion Quilting Challenge, which will begin in January. I’ve got lots of other ideas, so I need to get things finalized for the start on Thursday, December 1.

Suggestions?

Wednesday Work in Progress

Yay! Three of the eight table runners are complete and at their new home, in time for the holiday festivities for which they were made. There are five smaller ones still to be done, but they should be finished by the beginning of June. I learned a lot doing these, and I have a few ideas for keeping them straighter during quilting when I get to the smaller ones. But that’s after a few more current projects.

I put the first one on the main table, and then we arranged the other two around them. The visual appeal of the three is really stunning – I was quite amazed. Betty, my second mom, cut them all out in the winter of 1991 when she was in Vermont. They have lain dormant in a box since then. I first attacked the project last fall and completed the first sample block in January. It’s only been since May that I have really worked on the project.

Now I have a deer quilt to finish for our bedroom, and then on to my first major art piece, with a deadline in mid-February. I am taking pics of the whole process, in preparation for writing an article about the process. I have a list on the wall of the studio with all the projects – unfinished and “to be made” – I want to work on. It did feel good to cross off the first three table runners today!

Each block is a white design, some original Hawaiian patterns and some that are unique designs by Betty. Once we started thinking about layout, we decided black and white would be very dramatic. Each block is done in color for the satin stitch. I wanted to have some subtle color to the overall effect.

Each block is attached to another with a small divider, which has been free-motion quilted. It helps to set off the design even further.

To stay in the spirit of Hawaiian applique, since the family was stationed in Hawaii for a number of years, I echo-quilted each block with two rounds of stitching. This accented the design, as well as anchored the runner together so nothing would slip and slide.

Another 20 blocks await!

Monday Marketing: Getting Organized….Still……..

  I did a lot of thinking about organization and related business aspects during our trip to San Diego (hence the picture). I had my big notebook with me for major planning, and I keep a small notebook in my purse for sudden ideas and strokes of genius (yes, there have been some…).

  But man, there is a lot to this organization, especially if you don’t want it taking over your actual art work. I am slowly making progress in a number of areas, but I have to give myself a break and realize it’s not going to all happen at once. The important things – growth in blog visitors, more art being created – and more sales – are all starting to happen. It just takes time…and organization.

So herewith, my latest attempts, based on Action 3 of Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! I have read ahead in other actions, and I am making slow progress, but for me, I need to also complete each piece. That’s one of the biggest challenges I have found – not trying to accomplish a zillion things and making small progress but having nothing completely finished. Comes from years of multi-tasking in teaching and directing theater.

Action 3 looks at routines. Here’s an interesting thing I’m finding. In the past when I read a book (and I’ve done many), I usually skip the exercise part – figure I’ll get the most out of the reading and then move on. But I never really make any improvement. So part of my promise to myself in buying new books and art materials is that I WILL USE them. Does make a difference.

Routines: Every Day

* Sew (I have been VERY GOOD about this!)

* review goals (yup)

* comment on other blogs (kinda)

* send at least 2 tweets (nope)

* upate fan page (kinda)

* work on newsletter info (nope…..some kind of block going on here….)

Routines: Every Week

* accomplish 1 action (yup)

* Etsy marketing and new items added to the store (yup)

* review organizational notebook for progress (yup)

* add connections to Linked In (yup)

* get caught up on email (yup)

* take care of at least 3 loose ends for actual art making/sewing – like getting bindings finished (pretty much)

* work on licensing collection (not yet…)

Routines: Each Month

* read magazines at Barnes and Noble (yup)

* send newsletter (ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY THIS MONTH)

* new work photographed (yup)

* visit two galleries (yup) – and a show in a week!

* check on affiliate income, etc. (yup)

Routines: Each Quarter

* complete at least 2 licensing collections

* set new 100 day/Season goals

*look ahead to holidays for Cafe Press

* add a new affiliates

We’ll see how this quarter goes. I’m happier with this organizational than when I tried to delineate my marketing on a day by day basis. Then I felt guilty if I didn’t get everything done each day! Here’s Alyson’s book – I HIGHLY recommend it!


It All Started with the Yucca…..Wednesday Work in Progress

Albuquerque Outdoors - http://outdoors.itsatrip.org/

This new piece has had an interesting origin…..we were in Cornville , AZ visiting friends, and our driver wanted to stop in the high desert and see about getting some yucca stalks for walking sticks. If you look at the picture, the stalks are what’s left after the gorgeous blooms are done. They are evidently extremely strong and hold a lot of weight. So we have two collected stalks in the car, and I’m thinking, hmmmmm – these could make interesting wall hanging “hangers.” Turns out we got as a gift two really strong, perfect-height-for-hiking sticks from another friend we were off to visit, so I decided to keep these two, one as a walking stick for me (I just need it for balance) and one for a potential hanger for a wall piece.

I was looking at it today, as I was kicking around another weaving piece. It would make a good “topper” for a new piece. I had in mind a set of seasons pieces, and then suddenly I got the thought to create the fabric and weave them all together for a year of seasons.

Here are two samples of some of the weavings I have done with marbled fabrics. The first is my very beginning one, Gaia 1: Interdependence. The second is  Gaia 3: Autumn.

All of a sudden the design was in my head, and I sketched it out, something I don’t normally do. Here it is:

Creating the fabric will take some time, and I know with other projects in the pipeline, I won’t get to this until mid-September. Hubby is the main marbler, so he will have his work cut out for him. I will need to also watch the proportions in this piece – ever mindful of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia from Project Runway…..

Stay tuned for progress. In the meantime, here’s a few stories for past weavings in the Gaia series.

Sunday Stories: Autumn

Sunday Stories: Gaia 2

Sunday Stories: Gaia 1

Working on Goals – Revisited

  Retirement is amazing – all the time to create art and work on the art business.I’m very busy, one one of the things I let go was the notion of substitute teaching during retirement. Nope, don’t want to lose a day to the classroom and grief when I can be making art.

Spending the money to redo the studio was an excellent investment. It means we’re serious, plus the studio is so inviting – we WANT to be in there all the time. And once I started adding fresh flowers to the studio – well, the feng shui has been very conducive to creating.

I am certainly getting things done, but what I am finding is that I need to move to getting larger chunks of a goal done within a few days, rather than dragging it out over a couple of weeks, with just doing a piece here and there. I need to get it off my list, and I think this will work.

That said, one of my goals for this 100 days is three of the action plans in Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! So as I was looking over Action Plan 1, I realized I have done pieces of this before, but not with these particular questions. I’ve looked at my target audience, my ideal customer, I’ve looked at overall goals, but never really defined success itself.

So that’s my task today. Alyson lists 20 areas to ruminate on concerning how you visualize success.

* Production of art: I want to make at least three major pieces (Gaia weavings) a year; spend time each week in the studio revising, finishing, working on at least a dozen smaller pieces. So far for this second half of the year, I think I am on track – I already have three smaller pieces just about completed, and one new major weaving sketched out.

* Quality of artwork: It’s very important to me, now that I have the time, to take some art classes, primarily studio art as opposed to art history (which I still would like to do). I want my work to be excellent and gallery-ready. I may still pursue a couple of show venues, but that’s not as important to me as it was. I want to continue to learn new techniques to include in new artwork. Both hubby and I are really looking to improve our marbling skills.

* Exhibition venues: As I said, not as important to me to enter juried shows. I want to find a couple of galleries to carry my work, beyond the website. I am entering a local show (not juried) for the possible connections, as well as seeing if I can make what is in my mind actually happen in the piece.

* Teaching venues and opportunities: hmmm, possibly, but not at this moment. I’ve done a number of local gigs over the years, but never really went prepared with stuff to sell. Maybe something to consider after I have all the other business pieces in place.

* Travel: oh, yeah, and not necessarily for business (but we always visit galleries). I want to get at least one big trip in each year. We always visit museums and galleries, so outlets for our work, as well as new ideas, are always part of our travel. We even have promo literature to take with us.

* Home, Studio, Environment: The studio makeover was critical, and it will more than pay for itself in productivity. We’re happy with our apartment and locale, although eventually we will move East again.

* Spirituality: I am practicing the principles of the Laws of Attraction and Abundance and I have been extremely pleased with my whole attitude change. I am reading Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Shaef, as I love the saying of our indigenous people around the world. And nothing beats standing and wondering at some amazing site in nature.

 * Health: major goal here, as I want to be around for a long time. I am taking steps to do what I need to, and hopefully with this 100 days I will see some good success.

* Leadership Roles: kinda done with this. That’s why I retired. I’m leading myself to success.

* Published Work: hmmmm. Something to think about, just not sure how I can turn the marbling into a successful book. Seems like the books that have been written about marbling and projects haven’t lasted long. And I’m not sure I want the pressure and deadlines of a book contract. Been there, done that.

* Visits to the website and blog: Numbers for the blog have been steadily increasing since I got back to blogging. The website has stayed pretty static, but I am not doing significant marketing on that yet. I’ve done some small revisions on the website, I still need to add new work, and I need to think through the purpose of the website. I want to see the blog traffic translate into sales.

* Subscribers to the newsletter: I am so lacking in this. I thought I had it under control last summer, but school hit and my time was no longer my own. I have signed up with Mail Chimp and am busy importing the addresses of subscribers so far. I want a schedule of every three weeks, but I need to spend time seriously looking at the content for the newsletter, plus be VERY prepared for this year’s holiday season.

* Social Media  connections: you can read about this progress on tomorrow’s blog. The only thing I haven’t seemed to master dealing with is Twitter.

* Sales of my book: Nope, but I’m going to change “book” to “patterns.” This is an area for long-term development. Two quilt patterns art in progress, and I need to refine my Polynomial Quilt pattern.

* Sales of my art: Definitely a big goal. I want our art business to help provide for travel in retirement. My immediate two-year goal is $1000 a month from the business.

* Grants received: another hmmm. Something to think about on down the future. I do have experience writing grants, so on down the road I will look at this.

* Articles by me: I did get paid abut 4 years ago for a series of articles on a quilting site. This will go on the long-term list of things to explore, as I do enjoy writing.

* Commissions: just finished my first big one, and I certainly want more. To this end I need to develop and promote my contacts and collectors lists. I need to put on the long-term list to check with the local and state  arts council for both grants and commissions.

* Public or private collections: not quite sure about this – something to think about.

* Licensing: this is a major one, and I have already identified some collections. I need to begin fleshing these out till I have at least 10 developed, and then I’m going looking for an agent.

* Volunteer work: I added this one, as I want to donate time and art to a local organization called Ben’s Bells. Very worthy, and I want to help. Also, I want to continue the work for Art from the Heart (see top right of this page) to help promote peace.

If all of this intrigues you, you can pick up Alyson‘s book. WELL WORTH the investment in yourself and your art.

 

 

 

 

 

Work in Progress – Creating Rhythm

I’ve been practicing a lot of techniques with free motion quilting. With marbled fabrics, it’s almost like your pattern is decided for you – and I love being able to work with that. I discovered a few new things with this piece of green silk. I knew I wanted to see if I could accent the movement that already existed with the marbled pattern, and I wanted to accent the water effect in the piece.

Here’s the piece without anything done to it. I decided to flip the design, so the wave effect would be more prominent. Then it was a case of deciding threads. There are some very light areas in the pattern that I wanted to emphasize, so I figured a lighter thread. I pulled four threads (Superior, of course) and started with the lightest one – and I thought it was jarring – too bright.

I ended up going with a Rainbow multi-colored green thread that I think worked very well. I used that in the very light areas, and then I turned to a dark green silk for the background. The thought here was to heavily quilt the darker background to make the lighter areas come forward even more. So here’s the piece…

I do think the wave motion is more prominent. This was also a departure for me, in that normally I have quilted this pattern a great deal, but this time I didn’t do every single swirl. I think you get more drawn into the pattern that way.

I am contemplating some beads, but that’s just in the thinking stage at this point. I am open to suggestions, so please leave me a comment with what else I could do with the piece. The biggest success in this piece is a definite improvement in the machine quilting – the stitches are far more consistent, so that’s a great goal for me.

Leave me some comments – what would you do with this piece if it were yours……

Monday Marketing – Getting Organized

Wow, it has been an amazing week! So much of what I worked on in June and July is coming to fruition. Etsy is beginning to sell, and I have a marketing plan developed for just Etsy that seems like it is going to be easy to implement. The marbling is going very well; we purchased a metal tray just for doing fat quarters, and all we needed to do was waterproof it – which worked well. We’ll use the new tray the end of the week. Along with this good vibe has been the studio remodeling – what a difference with everything in its place, and room for both of us to work at the same time and share ideas.

We’ve begun to brainstorm other products for the company, as ten years ago we had a lot more than we do now. We have started preparing the guidelines for our gift baskets. WE NEED COUPONS: if you have a business related to fiber and textiles and would like to put together a coupon that could lead to some added publicity, all we are asking is for you to make some coupons that we can include in our gift baskets. You can email us for more information. We did this about 10 years ago, and we had great participation from other businesses, so folks got a goodie basket with lots of other opportunities in it.

Ebay business is picking up, and we’ve had to raise our prices, due to the serious increase in the cost of cotton. Ebay will continue to be an outlet for smaller, cheaper pieces of marbled fabric, mostly remnants. We have a good, steady business here. Etsy looks to be the place to sell larger, more expensive pieces of fabric, which is good.

Facebook is also bringing in lots of comments, but the best thing I’ve done has been the Linked In profile and joining a few fiber and art groups: Art Business, Art Marketing, Manhattan Arts (check this one out), and a few other groups – lots of comments and interest, and all this should add to business down the road.

The biggest concern with all the work over the last two months was would I be able to actually continue making new artwork. I pleased to say the answer is a definite yes. I finished two small studies this past week, both of which will end up on Etsy in the next two weeks, and I started a large piece with my Quilt University class. I have two small pieces to do for two art shows coming up, and I should be able to take care of those within the next two weeks.

One of the classes I took from Laura Bray was on Multiple Sources of Income. She spent a lesson on getting organized and goal setting. A great part of this class was seeing how I could distinguish the actual marketing of the business with making art. As a result, yesterday I spent the day getting everything into a notebook, organized by sections, long-term goals and lists, places for business cards as I develop my contacts list – it feels SO good to have it 1) all in one place; 2) a section for everything I need; and 3) a way to see my progress in all aspects of the business.

I think one thing that will help me (and I don’t know it it will work for others) is that I am going to include within my binder other projects I am working on outside of Marble-T Design, so I can easily keep track of deadlines and goals all around.

So it’s taken me a couple of months to figure out a system that will work, and now I just have to “work it.” I start each day with the notebook and make my list for the day, being sure I handle both marketing tasks and art tasks. What have you found that works for you?

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