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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Ferals Come for a Visit
73" x 81"
This last fall, the Austin Modern Quilt Guild selected a cat face pattern for our Block of the Month.  We typically make the blocks and donate them towards making a large quilt out of our blocks that is then donated to charity.  I liked this cat face pattern (from Elizabeth Hartman), but felt like it was too much measuring to be fun to make.
Then, this spring, my dear friend entered hospice care.  I did not feel like working on art at all.  It is such an odd place, waiting for a friend to die.  And it was worse after she died.  Somehow I found solace in a pattern that made all the decisions for me (with the exception of the colors), and the cat pattern sprang to the rescue.  One by one, I pulled out fabrics from my stash.  Without much effort, I was able to stitch up a block or two at a time.  I could work in the studio, in small amounts, and not really have to think.  The sewing helped me through my grief.  Meanwhile, the blocks started to pile up.  I decided to make a quilt for my daughter, who incidentally had a new kitten. 
It seems ironic that what initially felt like too much work suddenly became the easy thing to do.  However, I have noticed that from time to time, I take a break from art quilts, and doing the piece work is such a welcome retreat.
I let my daughter select the fabrics for the back.  However, our original plan did not work with the size of the quilt top, and after much debate, I add a bit from my stash and made this for the back.  I had concerns that it would show through the white on the front, but it is most negligible, and ... she just LOVES it!  I like that it is a two sided quilt now, with the green calming tones on the back, and the rainbow on the front.
As for the name of the quilt?  We have had numerous visits from feral cats this spring.  The mama cat from last year has still not been apprehended nor "fixed", so she has a new litter this spring, in addition to her kittens from last summer that are now reproducing.  I can't help but wonder how many will wander through in the years to come?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Double Cross
38" x 34"
This is my entry for the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge.  This fabric challenge is offered through the Modern Quilt Guild, and if you are a member of any branch of the MQG, then you can get free fabric to make a little quilt.  Photos are posted in an on-line forum.  I have no idea how the winner is chosen, but I like the prize, free fabric for a year!
Speaking of free fabric, this is my first time to participate in a fabric challenge.  I was a bit underwhelmed by the small amount of fabric.  We got 1/8 yd samples of 6 different fabrics.  The rules say that it has to be quilted, but no restrictions on size.  You are allowed to use any solids, and any other Michael Miller fabrics, and you can purchase more of the fabrics you were given in the set.
Ding!  I am SO SLOW!  I get it now.  They are hoping you WILL buy more of their fabric.  Makes sense to me!  And they get free marketing from whatever you make.  Brilliant!
As for me, they will have to settle for just the free marketing.  I decided that I would self-impose one other restriction: to add to this set of free fabrics with fabrics I already own.  And, I have bolts of white fabric (for dyeing and batiking), so it plays a strong component of the design. 
What I thought of the fabrics?  They were soft and easy to handle.  I liked the pale color palette, especially with the pop of orange.  I did not like the grey print at all, but found it plays well with others (I used it for the composition on the back).   Would I buy any of these?  Possibly, but I am not a typical buyer.  I only shop for fabric when I need it for a specific project.  It would have to fit the color palette I am looking for at the time. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014


 In February I volunteered to run the Boutique.  It is a special shopping booth to raise money for our guild, the Austin Area Quilt Guild.  It runs during their biennial quilt show, this year Sept 12-14.  I have dedicated a page on my blog to the news of the Boutique, and a slideshow in my sidebar to show some of the items that our guild members have been working on.

 For someone who is interested in simplifying her life and does not like to shop, this seems like a bizarre choice for me.  Half of our booth will be dedicated to selling things our guild members no longer want, this includes books, and many, many other items.  It will resemble a garage sale.  I like that these items have an opportunity to live a useful life with someone else.  All part of the reduce, reuse, and recycle movement.  I hate that I am the one in charge of it.  I need help! ha!

Meanwhile, I have committed to doing this and have embraced my role wholeheartedly.  I have been sewing a lot of items for the Boutique and thought I would try to lead by example.  It seems to be a two way street though.  As I lend inspiration, I find that I gain inspiration.  Our guild members have completely amazed me by their willingness to step forward and accept the challenge!  I am experiencing joy and fun in the process. I like learning something new.  I have followed free on-line tutorials for all of these items.  I am also finding it FUN to finish something so quickly.

I never thought I would have time to make all this.  I guess when you are having fun, you find the time! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

the Deep End
24" x 60"
Yeah!  My work was accepted into this year's Dinner @ Eight exhibit Reflections!  It is quite an amazing line up of quilt artists and I am so honored to be a part of it!
Here's a close up:

I was invited to create a piece for this exhibit with the following notes: 
A mirror image. A response to a thought or word. A memory. What glints back at us as we gaze upon the water. The throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it.  What will your reflection reveal about you?
I had a lot of ideas.  I had seen many spectacular views while kayaking on Town Lake in Austin, so one day I took my camera with me and captured a few really beautiful scenes:

Really inspiring, right?
However, after taking these photos, I had trouble getting started.  So, I decided to wait and let the right idea come to me.

That's when I went swimming.  I noticed the beautiful gleaming reflections on the under surface of the water.  It was an unusual viewpoint and fascinating.  And, I just love being under water.  It is so quiet there.  The noises of the world are dampened.  It is a great place to just be in the moment and quiet.  The only thing diverting my attention is the need to breathe, and all that focus on breathing pulls me right into the present moment.  A good place to be.  So for me, the under water piece is a reflections of where I am now, another self-portrait, but more subtle.
Here's one of the photos I love.  I got this one while trying to take underwater photos, and was slowing floating upwards when I snapped it:
Almost makes me hold my breath just to look at the picture!  lol!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Crowded House
72" x 72"
for Earth Stories
Premiere at Michigan State University Museum, May 11 - November 30, 2014
I am so honored to be a part of this very meaningful exhibit!  Here is a photo of the completed piece.  You can see the floor plan of my house. final count.
This is yet another example of how the tiny photo on a webpage simply does not do justice to the work.  Sorry about that!

Artist Statement: 
I am inspired by Annie Leonard from the Story of Stuff (see She explains things with animated cartoons in a way that makes sense to me, the average consumer. And she points out how our massive consumerism is not only bad for the economy, it is bad for the planet. I love the way she simplifies the complex systems of manufacturing, marketing, consumers, the economy, and the environment in a way that highlights the problems and points to the solutions.

On a personal level, I have too much stuff. I spend too much time organizing it, or looking for it, or trying to get rid of it. And I am responsible for all of it. I am, however, influenced by my culture and the advertising that surrounds me. I am in conflict because I value a simple lifestyle and yet I have too much stuff. As a measure of the problem, I decided to count all the objects in my house. It took me 6 months. Absolutely the worst project I have EVER dreamed up! The larger piece is called Crowded House, and is a testimony to too much stuff, as it spills out of the confines of the edges of my house. And it has the Number, the humiliating and nauseating Number. The smaller piece is a tribute to a few of the brands of bottled water and the trash resulting from it.

And for the smaller piece:
Manufactured Demand
12" x 14" x 2"
I am unable to attend the opening, but after seeing all the works in the catalog, I sincerely wish that I could.   The collection is simply amazing!