Archive for the ‘textiles’ Category

Ramblings

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

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

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

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

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

…and I wrote today!

Summer and Fall of “Enlightenment”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished piece Moonlit Garden, $65.00 plus postage.

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

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

 

 

“Experimenting with Textiles”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organizing for Marketing

This image is from my time with adult coloring books last year – trying out colors, experimenting. I love symmetry, but then I also like something a little unusual….which is where I am right now as I approach a new project. I really need to develop  more sources for passive income. I’m taking a free class right now from Convertkit on Product Creation – great ideas, and after two weeks of reading the information (a daily lesson), I decided to start at the beginning and develop a series of products that are useful to others. Hence, Organizing for Marketing.

The title is going through some revisions – still not catchy enough for me. But I already have all this content – in an iBook that isn’t selling  – and yes, I really haven’t done much to market it in the three years it’s been available (or is it four? Funny how time stretches out when you’re not teaching….).

So this is my first brainstorming at trying to make sense of what I want in this ebook product. I am very good at marketing and creating and organizing, so it makes sense to focus right there. When I reviewed the book last night, there is enough information to make it into three or four smaller ebooks and develop a continuous stream of ideas and techniques for people.

The first key is targeting my market. I work in fiber and textiles – pretty much a niche market when looking at the art world, although we are slowly making progress into mainstream. Thus I want to focus this on those of us who do art that is generally out of the mainstream. What can we do to get our work looked at, sold, appreciated?

Here’s my accountability checklist for this coming week, ending Tuesday, May 16, with my initial thoughts:

  • Determine revised structure of the ebook. I need to break up the information in the original book into smaller segments for action, and increase the information included in each of the segments.
  • Determine my ideal customer for this book. Who is my audience…artists without a lot of money to spend on marketing, artists with unique products, artists who have issues getting organized and accomplishing tasks.
  • Write two additional blogs this week – what questions do you want answered in a marketing book for those of us working in a niche market, and how would this be different from all the other marketing books out there? I need to make sure I start getting feedback from folks to help direct my work.
  • Evaluate ebook publishing sources and ease of use. CreateSpace seems mostly for print; research it more fully. Kindle seems easy and quick to do. IBooks seems too limiting, although I do have experience with that platform.
  • Plan for a “bonus” for people who buy this ebook. Already thinking about many of the blog posts I’ve already done in my Top Ten series. I think these could be manipulated into a bonus, once links are checked, and focus determined. Happened to just think about expanding ideas for Top Ten for other Bonus offerings.
  • Keep playing with title ideas. Suggestions certainly welcome! Organize, marketing, niche products…….
  • Determine launch date for the ebook – probably beginning of August.

Feel free to give me ideas and help keep me accountable to this project! You can be in the book with your website and product for helping out.

ORIGINAL BOOK

Ready, set, go – give me feedback!

Threads of Resistance Entry Finished

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Then I filled in everything and started on the back.

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

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

Busy Busy Busy…….Two of Seven…..

So it’s a crazy time in the studio right now – 7 projects, five of which are big ones. Two deadlines coming up this next Monday for photography…see, Kathy Nida – I’m calling the photographer ahead of time to get myself to the deadline!

Here are the first two of the seven….I’ve been quilting baby quilts for a friend who works at the middle school we both did, me back in the mid-seventies. You can see the last baby quilt (before all the deadlines hit) here. I enjoy doing them, we usually get a free lunch together, and it gives me a chance to practice my free-motion skills – kind of like practicing free throws before you need them for the big game. You can see the children’s literature theme – the books usually stay the same, and the colors change to the new mom’s preference. ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran. PS – thank you, Superior Threads!

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

Now for the next project – I decided to make quilts for my great-nieces and great-nephews when they turned 13. You can see Gracie Mae’s quilt from two years ago here. Now it’s Gavin’s turn, and I did another “modern” quilt with the colors he wanted. Again, a great chance to practice design and free motion quilting. In looking at the one two years ago, I can see the improvement in my skills. In two years I owe two new birthday quilts.

Love the backing – perfect for an adolescent boy!

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

ALL pictures copyright 2017, Linda A. Moran.

I really wanna learn to use rulers like Judy Madsen…..

On to “Eruption” and the “Threads of Resistance” quilts…….

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 4 Review – Classes and Shows…and a Book!

This was a big year for showing our work – many more options and acceptances than most of our time in Arizona. We taught a beginning marbling class at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, NY, and in the process of chatting, we became part of their arts curriculum grant project. I’m really looking forward to this activity; I miss the days of working with The Kennedy Center to bring integrated arts into the classrooms in the Chittenden East School District in Vermont.A lot of great memories from the conferences, and then great memories from arts work within the district (need to do a blog post and reflect on the work we did….)

A couple of pictures from our Saranac Lake class, followed by an individual machine quilting class I did for a fellow artist who wanted to expand her techniques. Mary Hill is a mixed media artist, with vibrant work.

We spent Vermont Open Studios sharing space with Mary over Memorial Day Weekend. LOTSSof great discussions on marketing!!

It was a challenge to plan for what could take Mary’s already wonderful art to the next level.

Mary Hill’s “experimenting as a result of our machine quilting class:

Plus, since May I have been working on an interactive teaching manual for the ebook Interactive Edge of the Sea. This takes all I have worked on in curriculum in 40 years of teaching and brings it together for teachers, with a modern update on using all forms of new assessment and social media within the classroom. My hope is that this manual becomes a template for other disciplines, as there are a lot of useful interactive teaching techniques – and everything is correlated to current educational standards. A labor of love with my second mom, Betty Hupp. Here’s the cover:

A snippet of the lesson plan section….

We are just about done with final edits, and after the first of the year it heads off to coding. I have a lot of links to check to be sure they all work!

Bunches of shows…..here are pictures of our small pieces at Sweet Grass Gallery in Williston, VT for the month of November.

There’s still more…..stay tuned!

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.”

UFOs No Longer – From WAY Back….

Botanicals 3

Botanicals 3

This next piece I started when I lived on Nastar, which has to be 18 years ago – it was part of a Block of the Month project for our online customers. This was September/October, but when I finished it, it had a VERY noticeable bulge from bad ironing – in two separate places.

The Original Top

The Original Top

Took both borders off, made a new sandwich, and then sewed the borders back into place to hold the top for quilting. I did a lot of work with new patterns from Lori Kennedy and her Craftsy classes.

Craftsy classes

Craftsy classes

There are amazing motifs, and Lori’s technique of doodling them first works like a charm. Here are some pics of patterns:

AutumnRedo2

Lori’s Twist, which I can finally understand how it’s done – parallel lines up and down and everything looks perfect. My bubbles and straight-line quilting. An example of quilting the marbled fabrics.

AutumnRedo3

LOVE the leaf motif – now I have several in my bag of tricks – way easier than it looks! New motif in the turquoise – an exaggerated swirl.

AutumnRedo4

A better look at the orange peel (I know it as a cathedral windows variation) and the swirl.

AutumnRedo6

Lessons learned –

  • I want to be able to do what Judi Madsen does with the negative space and have one pattern rather than several, depending on the space.
  • STILL love the colors in this quilt!
  • Markers help cover up tension issues from a different color bobbin thread.
  • The back doesn’t have to be all one color, especially if you’re having tension issues from two different weights of thread.
  • Outside (final border) can be very simple.

Another Smaller Piece – Yes, Tim Gunn, I edited…..

So after looking at the last table runner, I decided last minute to do a small table-topper for the son of a good friend – the one who is getting the table runner. Since he is in a doctoral program in marine biology, I decided to finally use the small lighthouse batik squares I had gotten maybe 10 years ago. First thing I discovered – Keepsake Quilting, not your finest cutting…..all the “squares were different rectangular sizes, which made squaring them off a bit difficult (especially since I didn’t do that first step – only the second step). And only a few of the nine lighthouses actually were straight……

I kept wondering how I would quilt this, since the focus would be the lighthouses. I chose a border fabric that reminded me of Cape Cod cottages, so them the focal point was the lighthouse and the “sea-side-y” shingles. All I did was quilt in the ditch – anything else would have detracted from the design. Three hours later I was done – from layout to quilting to binding. Part of me was feeling guilty for the lack of fancy quilting, but hey, the piece didn’t need it, and I’m not sure the recipient would have appreciated the extra work. I like it and that’s what matters – it can go on the wall in an office or across a desk or small table. So lesson here – not everything needs to be complex to look good (and…..check the “squares” before starting)…..

For the Marine Biologist

For the Marine Biologist

 

Finally…VERMONT!

Birch1 We are here, finally, after two years in the planning. We are finally at home in hubby’s native state of Vermont, as well as the area his ancestors settled: Jericho, Vermont. Yup, he’s a Brown. And the operative word is GREEN!!! Once we got into Arkansas, the greens of spring were really soothing, and as we headed further north, greens were sprouting, until finally in Vermont there were just a few sprinklings of beautiful spring. But two days of rain changed all that to glorious colors spreading very rapidly. We literally watched the lilacs sneak into bloom. It was a hard trip across country, and not the first time we’ve done this trek. I counted up and this is our fourth time back and forth across the interstates.

But we are older, and the amount of sitting really took a toll. First night from Tucson to Santa Rosa, NM east of Albuquerque. These first two days were long ones because we wanted to make it before more storms hit tornado alley. Second day to Ft. Smith, AR, and third to Nashville, TN. Then to Roanoke, VA and the fifth day to my niece in northern Virginia. That was an easier day – a wonderful glass workshop in Staunton, VA that we had been to five years ago, and then a tour of Manassas Battlefield. My great nieces and nephews are adorable, and my oldest – Gracie – is a firecracker.

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No mater how many times we stopped to stretch and do some simple yoga moves, my legs still cramped badly. A week after arriving they are finally back where they were and the aches have started to subside. But oh my, the traffic!! This country definitely runs on trucks. Arkansas infrastructure really needs work on the interstates, so I can only imagine what the state roads are like. Tennessee was better, but Pennsylvania was exactly like we remembered – cold patching flopping in the breeze.

The amazing thing about all this move is that everything has been falling so easily into place.The last two months before the move I had a lot of anxiety about whether or not we were doing the right thing…but NOTHING was a problem. Everything happened as it should, from the delivery of the truck to the packing to the unloading and storage here in Burlington. Everything was so smooth – and if you’ve moved any time at all, you know how stressful it can get if something goes wrong. Our only problem was a night in southern New York with the Sheraton saying it wasn’t a CHOICE hotel, and the Choice saying it wasn’t a Sheraton. How did they solve the really lousy night and service? By offering us a voucher for a free stay at that hotel when they were done with construction…..like we’re headed back to Newburgh, NY just to stay there……..Not thinking highly of Sheraton at all.

So last Wednesday we crossed into Vermont and headed up Route 7 (after missing the turn, which we have used for some 39 years). Green Mountain state, how gorgeous. The photo at the top is by the small park in Underhill on the Browns River, and it looks like spring is in full swing, but not so – it’s just started up here. There is still forsythia in bloom – which I remember from springs in Maryland was the first color to pop. There are so many blooming trees – I had forgotten just how many trees come out in color this time of year. I love birch trees, so I had to snap that. I have other pics but they’re on the main camera.

The only wrinkle is our actual new home. We had been on the waiting list for some senior housing for the last nine months, but when we checked in with them, we were not at all happy at attitude – not willing to show us floor plans, talk about costs, nothing until we were at the top of the list. Well, that doesn’t help us much at all. So our first day out and about was discouraging. Couldn’t get a new bank account because we had nothing to show with a new address – thank you, Patriot Act. Well, Friday I left for the day with no expectations at all for what we would find. The best thing about Friday morning was the fog – we have fog in Tucson maybe twice a year. It was gorgeous.

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We had an appointment to look at a senior complex Friday at noon (this after I spent about 3 hours on Craigslist the night before trying to see what was available). We had talked about what we wanted in a place so we wouldn’t have to move again, and we finally settled on the most important criteria – second bedroom studio space, decent light, covered parking, no stairs. This complex we looked at had all that and more: still being built, third floor, good light, spacious, new appliances, emergency pull that hooks into the local rescue, good community, and everything nearby – pharmacy next door, great bagel shop across the street, credit union within walking distance – and……UTILITIES INCLUDED! Absolutely perfect, so we signed on the dotted line. The wrinkle is we can’t move in until September, so we will be doing some traveling in the meantime. No pics yet, as everything is under construction.

So – the adventure continues!

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Stories – The Chakra Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here they are, in order.

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

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

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

Day Nine on Road Trip……catching up…..

If you caught my Facebook post yesterday, you heard the story of the horrendous borde crossing at Niagara.

Oy, one for the travel nightmares. Awoke to a beautiful morning on the Upper Peninsula, great views as we went across the Macinac Bridge, lots of green forests…..and then…..yea, verily, on the eighth day it rained…and rained…but we drove out of it. Our plan was to go to Flint and then east through Canada to avoid going through Detroit….same mileage essentially…..but then the border crossing south of Niagra Falls…..three and one-half hours from end to end…and I am NOT exaggerating…..construction on Canadian side, two to one to. two and back again to one lane that hardly moved. Finally could see booths, and that was just the Canadian side…..an absolute crawl over the bridge (and I am ot fond of bridges…freaking out, thinking how I would escape if the bridge broke)…and then more single lane to two lanes to three lanes to four lanes…NONE of which moved. Oy….probably not going too far tomorrow until we recoup…..eating dinner at 8:30 PM, which is unheard of for us…and it’s still light out. Must be karma paying us back for a great yesterday………

Here are a few shots of crossing on the Mackinac Bridge.
Crossing Lake Michigan

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Mackinac Bridge

..and the beginning of the traffic at the border crossing….

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Now  back to the art museum…

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A fabulous sculpture outside the museum…can just see loads of kids climbing on it!

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Another outside sculpture…reminds me of one in Tucson, near the downtown public library.

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There were two coral sculptures inside the exhibit. This is one of them, talking about coral being the indicators of the health of a reef. This is all crochet….. The Branched Anemone Garden, Margaret and Christine Wertheim.

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Kathryn Spence uses “dirty, discarded pieces to indicate the invasion of the natural environment by human-produced garbage.”

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Leonardo Drew – “Number 162 is made from raw materials (wood, metal, paint, thumbtacks, paper, ink, graphite) that are manipulated and aged to suggest the passage of time and the cyclical nature of our existence.”

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