Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Women's March 2017: by the Numbers
48" x 48"
This quilt was made to honor the 3 million people who marched globally the day after President Trump's inauguration. Each 1/2" square represents 325 people.  That is equivalent to a large jet plane full of people. Imagine a full airplane for each tiny little square! That's a lot of people, all marching to protect the right's of women.

For my quilt geek friends:
You may be wondering, how many squares are there? The answer is 9216.  
And, how long did it take to make it?  The answer is less precise....too long.  I thought this was a great idea when I started, but I got tired of stitching all those little squares long before I finished it.  And yet, I continued on.  Sometimes it helps me to have a daily quota, a minimum I have to do to finish by a certain day.  On most days, I managed to do the minimum.  On some days, I did nothing.  And, on a few days, I did more, and some days I even did a lot more.  The right combination of good sleep, motivation, great music (or Netflix), and I can get a lot done in a single day.

This was also made during the season that is the absolute best for gardening, and I have some ambitious plans for my garden, so I tried to do some of both every day.  It helped to have something that involved moving my body to contrast with all the hours of sitting and stitching.

It starts with the cutting. I always prewash my fabrics and then press them.  When I started, I had no idea how many squares of each I would need, so I just cut a few, and then replenished the pile as I went.   This also helped avoid repetitive motion injuries from using the rotary cutter for too long. I eventually used 60 different colors.  Here are some stacks of the 1" squares.  I would gather a few from each pile for the daily quota, and then toss them up in the air, several times (this was the FUN part), and then picked squares that were close to each other to begin stitching.
It begins with sewing two squares at a time.  To save thread and time I decided to chain stitch.  It also helps keep those tiny pieces from being sucked into the machine each time you start stitching.  This is stage one of stitching.  I call it, making the butterflies, because when they are open, they don't lie perfectly flat and they loosely look like butterflies to me.
The next step is to sew two "butterflies" together.  This makes a four patch.  To me they look like lounge chairs.  I put them in a grid to keep track of the direction the seams are pressed.  This helps manage the bulk of all the seams on those tiny pieces.
The lounge chairs are then sewn together in long strips, and then the rows of strips are sewn to each other to make a daily block.  Each day the block is sewn to the previous day's work and the quilt slowly grows bigger!
When I got to the pink part, I had to keep track of where the pieces were.  So, I consulted the master plan, a scaled drawing on grid paper.
To keep track of my progress, I colored it as I went and referred to the diagram for placement of the squares.
You can see the emergence of one of the pink ears of the pussy hat in the lower right corner.  This also shows the amount of work for a daily quota, 160 pieces. And, as time went on, I gratefully became more efficient at stitching.
Here's a photo of the back side.  I grew to like this side better, but unfortunately, I had plans for the front side, so this beautiful and fascinating view is now hidden inside the quilt.
I also kind of went crazy in love with how this looks in a window with the light shining through it.  It looks like candy to me and I just want to eat it!
Eventually I finished piecing the whole quilt top together, and I didn't know exactly what to do with the quilting.  This quilt is already complex.  I wanted to keep the quilting lines simple because I didn't want them to compete with the design. I selected a plan and decided to do a sample piece.  There are two great reasons to do this!  One is to test the process.  Does it work?  Will it shrink too much?  Will it bunch up, or be too hard to sew through the layers?  The second reason is to check to see how it looks.  I planned to use pink thread exclusively and I wanted to know if it would look bad on all the other colors.  It is really hard to pick a thread color when there are so many colors in the quilt!  So, I did the small sample....
It worked!  Here's a close up of the actual quilt:

This is my entry for Threads of Resistance.  There are almost 2 weeks left before the deadline of midnight, May 1.  If you haven't entered already, I hope you will consider doing it!  The opening venue is:
Premiere dates: July 11 - September 9, 2017
New England Quilt Museum
18 Shattuck Street, Lowell, MA 01852
    Opening reception: July 15, 2017 at 11 a.m. 
And there are 11 more venues already scheduled for the next year and a half! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Threads of Resistance
a call for entry for an exhibit to protest the Trump administration's actions and policies
I am so proud to be a member of the Artist Circle.  We have supported each other, encouraged each other, and given advice through the years.  Now I feel like I am on the precipice of a great change in our country, and not a good one.  Our country is being pulled apart by our hearts.  Emotions are raging and it is not bringing out the best in Americans.  The nasty is coming out.  The only thing that gives me hope is knowing that the good is still there too, the compassion, the generosity, and the love.  I suspect we all have a lot more in common than that which divides us.  

I am an artist.  It's what I do.  So I am compelled to respond by making art.  Making art gives me an outlet to process all these emotions. It also allows me to use my voice. And the only way I can guarantee my right to my voice is to use it.

And while I won't be commenting much about the political scene on my blog (unless I make some art about it), you will find me being much more vocal than normal on my social media accounts.  I have even learn how to tweet, just for this purpose.  It is certainly not the first time I have felt afraid to speak, but I am moving forward and I am not alone.

I didn't write this but I believe it expresses my sentiments fairly closely.  It is our artist statement for the exhibit.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

We as the Artist’s Circle stand for unity and love and light. We believe we have a duty as citizens of this country to shine light into dark places. We feel we must stand to preserve the good in America and speak against oppression and corruption, hatred and lies.

History is a written record of human behavior.
Art is a record of human emotion.
Quilts are art.

Art has always expressed both the hope and fear of its time. As artists speaking through our quilts, we come from a long tradition of political activism. The first known fundraising quilt supported the abolition of slavery. Quilts through the past two centuries have spoken to many causes, including the Temperance movement, women’s suffrage, nuclear proliferation, and AIDS awareness.

Just as quilts are traditional symbols of comfort and healing, our art can help us unite as Americans. Our quilts let the fearful know they are not alone and isolated in their struggles. Our quilts can inspire us to be greater and braver than we think we are. Our art speaks for those who are oppressed and have no voice.

Through much of history, quilts were one of the only acceptable means of expression for women whose political voices were silenced. Sometimes art must shock us out of our comfort zone and into action. In this venue, these quilts are also giving voice to emotions and ideas that for too long have been deemed unacceptable if spoken by women. Here, as women and men united, we speak together. Because of our love for our country, silence is no longer an option.

Americans are feeling a mixture of hope and anger, love and fear. We take issue with the divisive actions of the Trump administration. Our art explores our emotional responses to these actions, in the hope that it will encourage civilized, constructive conversation and, ultimately, better understanding of one another's viewpoints.

“Ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibers connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibers, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.” 
Rev. Henry Melvill, written in 1853

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beach Colors
71" x 72"

Last week I showed you Neurodiversity.  I may have mentioned that I liked the back better than the front.  Then I heard about a new exhibit by QuiltFestival, and I thought my quilt would be PERFECT for it.  It is called A Celebration of Color!  Yes!!  Unfortunately, the quilt was too big!  Nuts!!  However, I really like this design of squares stacked in colorways separated by thin strips of contrasting colors, so I decided to make another one and enter it.  I cut all the squares of every fabric, but then felt myself being drawn to quite a different and calmer palette.  The result:

I was even thinking of calling it, Sun, Sand, Surf, and Sky but reconsidered using a tongue twister as a name! I loved working on this quilt and it went together quickly, which is fun.  It is machine quilted and I used a different color of thread for every line!  Super crazy, but it looks super good! I love the texture and I love the subtle addition of the thread colors, all randomly chosen.

I also decided to try something for the back of this quilt to make it two-sided (of course!).

Simple, clean, delicious!

The notification of whether or not this one got in will be in February, so now the waiting begins. Meanwhile, I have it hanging in my living room.  I love it so much, I don't really want to let it go, so I truly have some ambivalence about it getting accepted into the new venue.  I might just be shouting "Hurray" if it gets rejected.  Go figure!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

94" x 95"

Neurodiversity is simply a term that means a lot of different kinds of brains.  I think this makes for an interesting world.  It is difficult dealing with people who are different than I am, but I can see value there. I am also of the firm belief that if we seek answers for today's or tomorrow's complicated problems, we just might need that "out of the box" style of thinking. 

I abstracted this idea to color choices in my quilt.  I wanted to show lots of diversity in color combinations.  What I found really interesting is that some of the colors I used were not favorites of mine.  I couldn't imagine how to use them all together in a way that would be appealing to me.  I learned that when pairing up these colors with other colors, suddenly I could see the beauty.  It opened my eyes. And, put all together rather randomly in a small photo, it's a bit overwhelming.  However, the giant size of this quilt, in person, is really quite nice.  I love seeking patterns in all of this chaos!
It's all hand quilted too.  You may remember me talking about this quilt in a previous post? I really enjoyed slowing down to do the work, and the meditative quality of time spent hand stitching.  It was good. 

I also thought for this quilt, it would need a colorful back.  So I took some of the same fabric I used for the front and created a new pattern for the back.  I call it Light Box, though I am not sure why.  Honestly, after I finished it, I actually preferred it to the front!  I am really drawn to the organization of the colors because it has a calmer energy.

If you notice, all around the edges, the squares are cut off.  This is because I always make my backs larger than the fronts.  That way, if the front side shifts at all during quilting, the back is still covered.  I can't tell you how many times I have relearned this lesson in previous quilts! 

Speaking of neurodiversity....one of the things my brain struggles with is putting things into categories.  Is this an art quilt or a modern quilt or a variation of a traditional quilt???  I plan on listing it in one of my gallery pages, so where do you think it should go?

Anyway, I have made another Light Box quilt, and entered it into the new juried show called A Celebration of Color.  The show is judged and will have prizes and opens at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago this April.  I will post about the new quilt next week!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Diamond in the Rough
70" x 84"
A Christmas Story

We used to joke that my dad could find a golf ball hidden under 4 inches of mud in the middle of a lake!  It wasn't far from the truth.  Each Sunday when my dad came home from playing golf, he brought with him about 70-80 found golf balls.  He like to walk the course, and he walked on the sides, the roughs.  He always found a lot of lost golf balls.  He cleaned them up, played with the best ones, traded some for golf equipment, and also saved most of them.  It grew to quite the collection over the years as you can imagine.

Well, this quilt is all about my dad, but not just because of all the balls he found.  I also think of him as a diamond in the rough.  He grew up in a household with a lot of kids and a mom to take care of everyone.  She frequently had 2 jobs to make ends meet.  There were lots of stories of fighting over food and collecting bottles to get extra money.  He went from these modest beginnings to pursue a lifelong career of entrepreneurship.  He could always see a way to make money and save money in unusual ways.  He owned a chain of stores, he rented properties, he made deals.  He had a type of stewardship of property and money that was just brilliant, and all with only a 10th grade education.  He also earned his GED, and got an international consumer credit credential.  He joined the army during the Korean War, and was very proud of the time he served there.

It was the later part, about being a veteran that he talks about a lot today.  When I was a kid he never mentioned it.  But now, in assisted living, he bonds with other veterans.  So, I was inspired to make this quilt for him, in red, white, and blue.  It is a log cabin block, because that is both the first block I ever learned how to make, and also because it is about home, and this is his new home.  The choice of red for the center traditionally symbolized the hearth of the home.  The arrangement of the blocks, that part is the offset diamond, or a diamond in the rough, that's my dad.

I went to see my dad this week and gave him his quilt.  He was quite pleased with it, and also very gracious about accepting it.  I am so glad.  I hope it will keep him warm and give him comfort.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Big quilts and quilting....

What I've been up to. 
I have finished HAND quilting this giant 96" x 96" quilt.  I had planned to enter it into QuiltCon, but alas, the cold winter season is upon us.  I have already entered 3 other quilts, and though I doubt all 3 will get in, if they do, my bed will be cold this winter!  So, I am saving this one to use, just for me.  This is the back of it.  Like a dog in the grass, I simply adore rolling in the colors of this quilt.  It makes me HAPPY.
folded up view of the back of the quilt
I quilted it by hand because it was so heavy, I didn't have the heart to push it through the machine. My initial plan was to machine quilt it.  I made up a small sample to test my idea of what that would look like:
This is a sample piece that resembles the front of the quilt.
The very dense quilting lines look fantastic!  It was, unfortunately, a lot of quilt to push through the machine so many times.  Heavy and daunting.  And, the issue of texture.  Though, I love the texture of this machine quilting, I don't like to touch it, I don't like the way it feels.  I wanted this quilt to be useful, as in touching and keeping me warm.  And so it may seem that the hand quilting would take longer, that would not have been the case. 
This is the actual quilting of the front of the quilt.
One could make the argument to machine quilt it in a much looser pattern so that I could complete the task quicker and get the texture I wanted.  Possibly true, but that is not what my Muse was insisting upon.  I try not to argue with the Muse.  So hand quilting it was.  And, I really enjoyed the process.  It is slow, and meditative and relaxing. I will get around to photographing the entire quilt and posting, so please, check back with me later.

As for the Giveaway!
...  and the winner of the MQG calendar is Karen (who posted comment #6)!  I have already emailed her, so hopefully she will receive the calendar soon!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Machine Quilting Unlimited 2017 Calendar Giveaway

I am happy to share with you the latest calendar by Machine Quilting Unlimited.  My deer quilt is featured for the month of February, You Are What You Eat.  It is one of my very favorite quilts!
Since MQU sent me a few extra copies of the calendar, I thought I would like to share them with you.  Please leave a comment below to enter the drawing.  I will select the winner with a random number generator at noon CST on December 1.  I am paying for the shipping, so US entries only.

While you are here, consider popping over to my new page, Small Quilts for Sale. Perhaps you will see something that will make a nice gift for yourself or someone you love.  

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I should have a new quilt to share with you soon!  Happy stitching!

Friday, November 18, 2016

7" x 10"
I am trying to get back into the swing again, but finding it hard to concentrate.  So, I decided to try something small.  I wanted to make something for SAQA's Trunk Show, and I knew the deadline (Nov. 30) was coming up.  The trunk show is a collection of about 400 quilts that is divided into smaller groups.  The exhibit will premier April 27 - 30, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska concurrent with the annual SAQA conference. After that they will be kept at the SAQA shipping facility and can be borrowed, almost like a quilt library.  The intention of the collection is education, to show people what art quilts are all about.  It is  a remarkable idea and really fun to see the variety of ideas people come up with to put into a tiny 7" x 10" tiny sized quilt. These quilts travel for 3 years, and then are offered for sale, if the artist's chooses, and if not sold, they are eventually returned.  I am the Trunk Show coordinator this year and all the entries are shipped to me.  I get to see them ALL!  It has been a fun experience so far and I look forward to receiving more entries.  So far, participants have sent me about 60 quilts, and many more have been entered and are awaiting shipping.  I look forward to each day to see what the postal carrier will bring me.  It's like Christmas every day!
I was looking through my studio and trying to come up with an idea, and the one that settled was a smaller version of my quilt, Development.  The new one is called Displaced (aka., Goldie Foxes and the Three Bears! ha!), and it is about giving consideration to animals who have their habitats destroyed in the name of urban sprawl.  And though I recognize the value having homes for people, I am concerned that the loss of habitat is really bad for our environment.  There comes a point where the stewardship of the environment needs to be equally valued. It is a difficult balance. 
The little bee is from the selvage of Urban Artifacts, a new fabric line by Leslie Jenison.
How it was made:
The center part, with the houses, was made with little black boxes on top of newspaper, then layered with silk organza on top.  Place a screen and pull matte medium through the screen.  After the layers have dried they are gently scrubbed under water to removed the thickest part of the paper, leaving behind only the front image.  This was fused with Mistyfuse to a black cotton background.  Then I sewed borders around the center with some commercial cottons (the animals). Next I fused black triangles on top of the center squares to make the house shapes.  Lots of machine quilting to form the houses with X's and the gray contours of the hills, and finally some yellow hand stitching on the roofs.  I used a facing to gently wrap the quilt edges to the back and neatly finish them.  It was a bit of a process to make, but I had fun with every step, so the time flies by!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Houston Quilt Festival - the Experience

Between the election and the after convention "hang-over", it has taken me a few days to put this post together.  I have been recovering from intense lack of sleep and my annual post-Houston illness which involves the respiratory crud (that in all fairness started in Austin), and losing my voice.  I had a difficult time sleeping while at the quilt festival because of the huge amounts of adrenaline, powered by a year of hard work alone in my studio (or mostly alone) and then a giant onslaught of good times with old friends and new and then winning awards and my special exhibit!!!!! To say that it is too much, is an understatement; but like a moth to the flame, I am drawn there.

Highlights of the show include winning two awards this year:
i Quilt wins an Honorable Mention!!
One Earth wins a Second Place!!
Dinner@Eight exhibit, Patterns:

Cover girl! Mistyfuse has added my face to the cover of the package for 10 yards of Mistyfuse!  Thanks Iris!
Iris and I at the Dinner@Eight dinner

Posing with Jamie Fingal and our cover girl packages on Mistyfuse!
The opening of Turmoil & Tranquility, a new exhibit from SAQA.
The Deep End
My special exhibit:
My hand made guest book with the color pens.  My sweet wonderful amazing guests filled 20 blank pages full of wonderful comments and messages to me.  Absolutely fabulous!  Thank you so much!!!!
Falling, Vertigo, Doors Across Austin, Park Place
Park Place, Planned Obsolescence, Windows
Windows, A Few of My Favorite Things, Urban Tree
Out of the Box, Just Around the Corner, Bridge
Bridge, Dot, Suburbs
Central Park, Home
Self Portrait '08, Blue Towers
Community Gardens, Winter to Spring, Gift
Urban Daisy, Building UP
Duck and Cover, High Rise
High Rise, You Are What You Eat
And, one of my biggest highlights was having my mother come to see my exhibit!
After I got home, a dear friend forwarded me a newsletter from The Quilt Show.  Surprise!! They made a beautiful slide show of my exhibit and you can see it here.

I also found out on the last day of the show, that my exhibit, Inspired by Color will be traveling to

And, if that is not enough, there were a total of 49 different quilt exhibits in Houston this year.  Only one of them is the World of Beauty.  I could spend weeks looking at all the quilts, but I didn't have that much time!  My favorites were the Modern Quilt Exhibit (sorry I didn't get photos!), Quilt National, Viewpoints 9, Dinner@Eight Patterns, SAQA Turmoil and Tranquility, and the Susan Carlson exhibit.  There was also a number of other fascinating exhibits like the quilts made to honor the moon and the missions to the moon, the Dear Jane exhibit, and Tactile Architecture.  

Many, many, wonderful times with friends, and so happy to have gotten photos of some of them, and sad I forgot to get photos with others....such is the nature of a highly distracted and adrenaline fueled experience!
Deborah Boschert, Suzan Engler

Kristen La Flamme, Deborah Boschert

Heather Pregger

Jamie Fingal

Becky Navarro and me

Selfie with Helen Godden and her quilt!

Selfie with Judy Coates Perez

Me and Paula Kovarik

Me and Sue Bleiweiss

Selfie with Lisa Chin

Me and Mikyung Jang

Sherri McCauley and me

Heidi Proffetty and Victoria Findlay Wolfe
The beautiful view from the Hilton:
A rather frequent view from the escalators at the George Brown Convention Center:
Behind the scenes, take down of the exhibits.  Love the tables.  Love the attention to detail in quality care of our quilts!! Look at all those white gloves! Thanks!
At home, cherishing my guest book!
The most frequently asked question:
How long did it take you to make all of these quilts?
I still don't know.  It took a lifetime to find my artist voice and get the skills I needed.  I am a professional artist.  I work full time at making my art, just like other people who work their full time jobs.  If you think these art quilts take a long time to make, you are right, but hey, it's what I do. And, I would like to thank those of you who make it possible by supporting the arts!  Whether you donate to our organizations or buy our work directly, we couldn't do it without you!!!

Getting a little silly with no food, exhaustion, and adrenaline, the night I dropped and fatally cracked the screen of my iphone.  Waiting, waiting, and more waiting, but the techs at the Apple Store came to my rescue and finished the repair even though they worked past closing time!  Kudos! 
Spending a very brief amount of time each night doodling with watercolors to amuse with texts to my daughter back at home:
dedicated to the raccoon (or other animal of the night) who made a tasty meal from her Jack-O-Lantern