Thursday, November 13, 2014

Houston, Dinner @ Eight, and the After Party

Every year I eagerly anticipate seeing what the entire collection of quilts for the Dinner @ Eight Artists exhibit.  This year's theme was Reflections. This year, instead of taking photos, I tried making a video of the exhibit.  I wanted to give the viewer an idea of what the quilts look like as you are walking through.  I am a novice at best.  There is no theme music, just a hand held iPhone.  I have new respect for the other movie makers who make their finished products look so seamless and beautiful!
Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison have curated this exhibit for 6 years.  It is a labor of love for them both.  I am truly appreciative to be a part of this.  It is great fun participating and also getting to know the other artists.  And, our dinners together will always be a part of my fondest memories in Houston!
They also work tirelessly to promote their collection of artists through artist interviews on the blog and by publishing a book about the exhibit each year.  This year, as a special commorative, they published a book which shows the entire collection of quilts for each artist included since they started the exhibits.  It is a really nice book and includes a lot of pictures from our times together in Houston.

Now, regarding the "after party".  This is what I call the collection of people waiting patiently in line to get their quilts back after the show.  Knowing that I have a long drive ahead, I like to go early, grab a chair, and wait.  Usually, there is someone who needs to go before me because they have an early flight to catch. I have no problem with this.  Yes, please go ahead...This year a very nice woman needed to ship her quilts via FedEx and they were staying open for her, very gracious!   Meanwhile, we wait and wait.  There is nothing to do but to get to know your line neighbors and talk to old friends.  It is a blast!  This year I met several really wonderful people and had the opportunity to have longer and more intimate conversations.  I THRIVE on this!

We also had a bit of a delay getting started.  I kept popping up and looking to see what the problem was.  The staff can't start taking the quilts down until all the people leave the show floor.  That's when I noticed a small crowd of people gathering in front of Gail Thomas's quilt.  It was a portrait of the founders of the quilt show of Karey Bresenhan, Nancy O'Bryant, Jewel Patterson and Helen O'Bryant.  It is a wonderful, wonderful quilt, as Gail is a very accomplished and prize winning portrait artist.  You can see a picture of the quilt and the story of the creation of Quilt Festival on the Quilting Arts Daily blog, here.  It turns out that Gail was gifting her quilt to Karey and Nancy and it was a complete SURPRISE to them both!  A magnanimous gesture! Gail was completely humbled by this opportunity to give back to the founders who made it possible for her to have such an incredible venue to show her work, and a culture to have adventures with other artists and quiltmakers.  For her, it was just one of those things that needed to happen next in her path.  It was not about making herself look larger, it was about sharing and giving to others. It was one of those moments that brought tears to your eyes, because of the surprise, and the act, and the emotions that followed for Karey and Nancy and Gail and every one who witnessed it. Talk about growing your heart larger!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Houston 2014

Wow, what a great time!  I saw many, many quilts.  I visited with many old friends and new ones!  The experience was inspiring, exciting, and rejuvenating!  It was also a bit overwhelming, as you can imagine.  Despite my best efforts, I did not get to see all the quilts, and I tried really hard!!  And, I did not get photos of all the ones I liked, there are too many, and I was too distracted.  My favorite exhibit was the Red and White quilts, which I did not even take one photo of?  How is that possible? It was a stunning display that was 3 stories high in concentric circles, like a giant quilt chandelier.  So, I will encourage you to check out some quilts from others who have posted about Houston.
Try this one from Linda Teddie Minton.  (here)  Be sure to scroll down, she has 3 different posts about Houston.

So, and in no particular order, here are a few of my snapshots.  I used my iphone for all of these, and some were a bit blurry.  Guess I had a hard time standing still?  Also, I put the artists name on the photograph of their work, as I think is best for attributing credit.

This amazing quilt with all the buttons caught my eye in this wonderful solo exhibit.  The story line was about healing.  It was fascinating to see the series and read her story.

Sue's wonderful use of color, design, and form really popped!

Always a fan, need I say more?

I absolutely LOVED this one!  And, I got to meet Ferret who was standing by her quilt.  I told her I was surprised this wonderful quilt did not win an award.  And, such was the case for many other wonderful quilts.

Sharing the quilt festival for the first time with by friend (from over 40 years ago) and her family.  Possibly the best part of my 2 day weekend trip to Quilt Festival!

Running into Cheryl Sleboda!

Oops!  This is the only photo I took in a place where I was not supposed to.  Embarrassing! So, I will take this opportunity first to say that I LOVE this take on the double wedding ring pattern.  The colors grab me.  Second, this was from an exhibit of quilts for the new book 500 Traditional Quilts, and you can buy one here.

favorite group quilt

This is a close up of the quilt below.  I love seeing how Betty plays with color.  I think this one is paint on fabric and then stitched. 

This one is really large!  I love the composition and the shadows.  Stunning!

If you decide to wait to get your quilt back, you will see Kaye's lovely face awaiting you.  What a lovely surprise to find out that Kaye has placed an image of one of my quilts (that she purchased from the IQA auction years ago) as the backdrop on her phone. Cool!

I was surprised (though I don't know why) at how many of the Dinner@Eight quilts from previous years were juried into Houston's judged show.  I meant to take photos of all of them, but didn't quite make it.  Here is one that I love from Susan Fletcher King.  It is beautiful!

Texture and line.  So simple and so beautiful.  This one is by Sherri Davis Kleinman.  I love the way she used machine quilting, and large stitch hand quilting, and perhaps markers? to achieve this affect.  Mesmerizing!

Loved all the attention to all the forms of wildlife in this one.  Beautiful!

Love this playful postcard from Pokey.  One of the few purchases I made at the quilt show, and certainly the first!  Money went to Friends for Life, an animal shelter in Houston, TX.

I was excited and honored to see my quilt hanging next to Pam Rupert's.  Always a fan!  This one does not disappoint.  The colors in real life are so so so much prettier than my photo.

Rolled towels at the swimming pool.  Love the lines and colors and fuzzy texture!

One of my favorites from the exhibit, 12 Voices from One.

This beautiful quilt by Mary Ann has an incredible number of beads in the center.  It is effective and beautiful!

The Hilton....looks like the windows are woven.  Nice job!

The winner of Innovative Artistry, $5000.  It is really beautiful!

Standing with my quilt, Out of the Box.

Last, my daughter came with me on this trip.  It was fun to hang out with her, show her off to my friends, and generally enjoy her presence....even when she was bored.  I appreciate her patience because quilting isn't really her thing. We had a blast leaving the quilt show for spontaneous and brief foray's into Houston for food, and the swimming on the top floor of the Hilton.  The kids grow up too fast, and it didn't feel that way when they were little, but it does now.  I appreciate the time I get to spend with her. LOVE grows your heart bigger.  :)

Monday, November 03, 2014

Welcome Home
12" x 12" x 1 1/2"

Colorful Fabric Collage
by Sue Bleiweiss

Last year I was invited to submit a small fused quilt to be included in Sue's book.  I made this happy little quilt and was delighted that it was included in her book.  The book is available for preorder from Amazon.  I haven't seen it yet, but I look forward to it!  As for my little quilt, here it is!
The hand dyed sky fabric and the hand-dyed floss is from my good friend Laura Wasilowski. I love her color sense and her fabrics.  You can buy her fabric and threads and patterns here.
 Perhaps you recognize this little bird from my other quilts with little birds (here)?
This 12" x 12" x 1 1/2" piece was wrapped around a canvas, so I used this fun black and white print for the side borders and wrapped the roof around.  LOVE!
Thanks for stopping by!  I hope to blog about my adventures in Houston soon.  I am exhausted from the travel and still unpacking!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Houston Quilt Festival

I am super pleased to share with you that my quilt, Suburbs, won an Honorable Mention in Houston this year! Usually that information is not shared with the winner until the awards ceremony on Tuesday night.  However, since my award is not one of the big money winners, they let me know before.  It is rather nice not having the anxiety of waiting to know!  And since I LOVE this quilt, I am pleased to see it getting some attention and appreciation.  I love that the rich and full bodied colors in this quilt look exceptional on the black background.  And upon closer inspection the quilting (both machine and by hand) brings a wonderful texture to the piece!  I am grateful and proud that it got juried into Houston, and also very happy that the judges liked it too!
You can read more about the story behind it here.

I also had another entry accepted to Houston, Out of the Box.  I can't remember which category it is in.  You can read it's story here.  I am also very delighted that this one will get to be seen in public!
And, my third of three quilts in Houston is The Deep End.  It will be exhibited in the Dinner at Eight Artists exhibit called "Reflections".  I cannot wait to see the entire exhibit!
And, the last of my wonderful Houston news this year is that Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison have published another book of the quilts in the Dinner at Eight exhibits, and this one includes ALL the quilts from this year and all the previous years.  It is called Women Who Come to the Table.  And a bit of a surprise is that I found out that I am one of the Fab Four!  I didn't know there was such a thing!  Apparently, 4 artists in our group had quilts juried into this exhibit every year and I am one of those.  Very cool! The book includes many wonderful photos from our times celebrating together in Houston and some recipes too!
You can buy one here!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

about 23" x 62ish"
work in progress

The swimming pool has been a source of inspiration this year.  I made one piece already,  (See The Deep End here) but there was still more that I wanted to do.  While doodling in a meeting one Saturday, I quickly sketched an array of new designs.  The one I could not get right was the reflections of the waves on the bottom of the pool.  I kept trying for a very literal and exacting replication of what I saw, and it wasn't working.  Then when I moved it to a slightly more abstract representation, it suddenly worked for me.  I absolutely love these free flowing organic and overlapping lines.  The fabrics are new designs that I hand-dyed and batiked in my garage studio. 
I used a paper laminate technique to make the drawing of the swimmer. However, I might decide to make it into a screen instead and use paint....still not sure.
I love the palette, the greys and white with the turquoise and blues.  I think it might be the simplicity of the patterns or limited color choices that appeals to me so much. And I absolutely love the contrast of the still and quiet almost contemplative swimmer figure with the dancing waves and bold patterns surrounding her.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Austin Bergstrom International Airport
July 23 - October 21, 2014

Now showing, a collection of fiber art from the Austin Fiber Artists.  I am delighted to have my work juried into this show, and have heard from a number of travelers how great the exhibit looks!  I am looking forward to getting there to see it myself!

Just Around the Corner
24" x 24" x 6"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mod Blocks
45" x 45"
This one was a bit of a challenge. These fabrics were donated by Robert Kaufman for our quilt show.
They arrived in two giant boxes, stuffed to the gills.  Inside, mountains of seemingly unrelated scraps.  Some obviously were part of the same collection.  However, once I found a fabric that I liked, there wasn't enough of it to do what I envisioned.
So, I gave up... temporarily. Then jumped back in again, grabbed the first stack of strips and went with it.  I cut these 4 inch squares and tossed out a few, and added a few from my stash.  I found that with this scrappy appeal, everything looks pretty good if you repeat the colors just a few times.  Once I added the large white border and the scrappy binding, it pulled all the disparate colors and patterns together.  I am quite fond of the outcome, so I pieced a back for it and then quilted it in a giant spiral. 
The spiral quilting is difficult.  I did mark some of the lines, about every other one.  That helped show where to quilt, but the real trick is getting the tension right while you are sewing; otherwise, the center draws up and turns your lovely flat quilt into a giant three dimensional bell. I picked this design for quilting because I LOVE it, and I thought it would look good for the front and the back.  Good choice!
This quilt will be for sale at the Austin Area Quilt Guild's show, Sept 12-14, 2014, at the booth, Quilts for Sale.  The proceeds will help fund the expenses for the Boutique.  P.S.  Some of our guild's members made a number of really charming items for the Boutique from this donated fabric.  I will post about those on my Boutique page.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Urban Flower
12" x 12" x 1 1/2"

This one is an unusual color palette for me, grey and white, but I really like it.  It is oddly soothing, or maybe not so odd?  Well, let's just say that it looks fantastic on my dining room walls which are a lovely shade of aqua!  Scroll down to see that one!
I am really falling for this technique and the way it looks. It is a paper laminate (for another sample click here).  It uses paper (in this case newspaper) and a sheer fabric (silk organza).  It becomes like a piece of fabric and can be stitched.  In this one I have machine quilted around the flowers in black thread about 5 times to get a thicker line.  I also hand stitched the stems in lime green embroidery floss.  It is subtle, which I also really like.   The border is made from that shiny silk with little nubs (someone help me here!).  I stamped it with black circles.  The centers are made from hand-dyed grey fabric that are hand cut and fused in place.  It is wrapped around a canvas frame which finishes up the edges ever so nicely!
I love the way these pretend tulips capture the essense of nature in their form, and are made from real plant material in the form of paper, paper that has been altered by humans in ink and in meaning, and it captures a moment and place in time when the paper was printed.  (sorry for the run-on sentence!)
It seemed too perfect to not surround them with a grid representing an urban life.  This one has been entered into a juried exhibit that will run in the Austin Area Quilt Guild's quilt show.  It is sponsored by Austin Fiber Artists.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it will get in!  :)

I would love to do another piece that is larger.  So far both of the pieces I have tried with this have been small (12" x 12").  However, it will have to wait.  I am busy hand stitching a large piece, and the quilting lines are rather may take a while to finish up!  Meanwhile, the little projects are a very nice diversion. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

91" x 91"
photographing big quilts
I finished quilting Gift last spring.  The machine quilting was tough.  I have a Juki with a larger than normal neck, but it was still hard to push all this fabric through it.  Additionally, I decided to quilt in 1/4" lines of concentric spiraling outward squares at the intersection of each block.  This meant I had to turn the quilt many, many times under the sewing machine.  This much quilting also caused the quilt to shrink 7 inches in both directions.  I should not be surprised, but I was!
I found it really difficult to photograph this enormous quilt in a way that makes it look as good in the photo as it does in real life.  My design wall is made of two BIG foam core boards.  I used to carry them downstairs to my living room, move a bit of furniture, set up the lights and shoot from across the room.  It worked pretty well, but now my foam core boards are warped, they bend like a big concave lens.  This makes the quilts look distorted too.  And, it is a bit of an ordeal to set up.
Here's an indoor shot as an example:
You can see what I mean on the right side.  The quilt is actually square, but it appears as though it bends inward slightly along the right edge.  Some of this can be corrected if centered through the camera lens just right.  I have a lot of experience doing that, and this is not my best work.  However, it is still distorting on the sides because it clings to the warped design wall.
I wish I had an easy set up outdoors.  I like the lighting much better.  It shows the colors more accurately and the texture of the quilt sings.  Drawbacks include wind, dirt, and eliminating distracting backgrounds (which you can see on the edges below). Sometimes if you don't need a straight on shot, the wind can make for really great photos.  And, selecting just the right light can also be a challenge as bright sunlight can create overexposure and harsh shadows.
Now that I am comparing the two photos, this is kind of silly, but it appears the first photo was taken before I put a hanging tube on it.  It was pinned to the wall in a different orientation than this one.  oops! For the outside shot, I added the hanging tube, but arbitrarily selected a different top edge. Regardless, I still think the colors and quality of the colors looks so much better in the second one.  Sadly, this one is a bit distorted too.  I did not have a long enough hanging rod. The top edge on both sides creates some wrinkles along the quilt.  And, yet the colors look so much better!  The quilt looks dead in the first photo, and in this one it comes alive!  Here it is in-situ.
I put two nails along the top edge of the playscape.  Fortunately, it was tall enough for this quilt.  It looks particularly good with my aqua picnic table!  :)
Here's a view of the back, with the swing and trapeze bar.  I took down one swing because it was showing in the front.  The swing had the extra advantage of helping to prevent the breeze from blowing the quilt quite as much.  It was all about the timing and shooting when it was in it's most square position.  After I hung it, it was super easy to shoot.  I didn't even need a tripod.  I think I might be getting a bit lazy in my old age!  ha!
Next step would be to go ahead a buy a longer rod, which is easy enough. 
The close up shot of the quilt quilting looks good in this light too!
Last, this was the second quilt I made from these big batiked blocks.  You can see what I did with the leftovers on this post.