Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Sand, Sea, Sunset, Sky
12..75" x 12.75"

This one is pretty simple.  I just wanted to make a slightly bigger grid of these colors, and keep the colors and values more horizontal in composition.  It is still a lovely abstraction of the beach and the ocean and the sky.  Then I kept seeing in my head, a brilliant contrast of orange between the top two lines of blocks, so I auditioned the fabric.  I loved it! I have always been a fan of orange and blue! Meanwhile, there is some irony here.  I grew up on an east facing beach.  We see sunrises over the water, the sunsets are over the dunes. My memories of sunrises don't look like this at all, this one reminds me of sunsets. And, if that is so, it cannot be an abstraction of my home beach.  However, and regardless of all the thinking about this piece, it is ultimately about the 'feels' that come with it. And, I really like the feels. It is even softer and more wonderful in real life because you can see all the thread colors in the different stripes, and it's fun to throw in some unexpected colors!  It adds interest and movement and texture, all wonderful!

Since this little quilt has more contrast than the previous two, I call it the high drama one! Ha! What appears to be a calm sunset hides the dangers lurking beneath (sunset is when the sharks come out!).

This next photo, I was playing around with adding some shark fins. I did not ultimately decide to put them on, but decided to share it with you because I find it amusing and laughing is good!

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

 Between Me and the Beach
12" x 12"

For this one, I was thinking about obstacles to traveling.  The white grid work alludes to all the things that keep me from the beach, some internal and some covid.  My heart longs for the sounds and smells and sight of the beach. 

For the quilting, I wanted all the lines to go horizontally, following one line of color across the entire piece before changing thread colors again.  However, I did not want them to go across the white grid.  I wanted them behind the grid and associated with the sand and the water.  So, I realized that I should have quilted the grid work first, and then found a way to add the white on top.  That would have been a lot easier than what I actually did, which involved a lot of starts and stops.  I really like the way this one looks though, and may try another version of it, but this time planning ahead better. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Ocean Circles
10.5" x 10.5"

I have started a new series of work based on a palette of solid colors I bought. There are a lot of them, so there will be a lot of fabric to make things from.  My inspiration is the ocean.  I have missed visiting the beach where I grew up because of the pandemic.  I also stopped going after my dad died, a little over 2 years ago.  It was hard to face the grief in such a familiar place with so many memories.  Now, I am ready to go, but also not ready to go.  I miss the beach, the water, the waves, the salt breeze, the dunes, the seagulls and pelicans.  Soon....

My plans for a big quilt began, and then I started having doubts, so I decided to make some small samples to see which one I would like the best.  It is interesting to me that my favorite was not the crowd's favorite (according to Instagram).  So I present to you, the crowd's favorite, Ocean Circles, the first in the series of five so far.  It alludes to the constantly changing shoreline from the waves lapping along the shore and the wind blowing the sand and dunes.  

The circles are hand cut and needle turned applique.  I pieced the blocks before attaching the circles, then the quilting.  This one is densely matchsticked quilted with a LOT of different thread colors.  I don't mind changing the thread in my machine now that I have a needle threader.  It make it so much easier and faster.  I like the texture and how the lines of color seem to change with a different background color as they move across the quilt. I also wish I had made this a bit bigger on the outer squares, so that there would have been room to face it and turn the edge under.  Or so I thought!  After picking these 2 colors for the binding, I am really please with the reference to land and water.  Sweet!

I also tried coloring these on paper first, to get an idea of the scale of the squares and circles.  The watercolors just did not give the same feeling as the fabrics.  In fact, if I had only used the paper for inspiration, I would have stopped.  The feeling I got was closer to "ick" than "wow, that is so calming".

This is the part where the experience of working with the actual medium that I am going to use saves the day.  I believed in the fabrics and the emotional appeal of the colors.  So I let the sketch go, and trusted my instincts.  

Of course, now that I look at the collection, I am having more ideas to investigate! 

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

the Butterflies (the other side of the Caterpillars)
64"ish x 64"ish

I find the the overall curb appeal is a bit weird for me, but this one is about the concept** (see below).  It had to be done this way, so I am making peace with it.

the design process:
I started with small bookmark sized sections. Some of these were redrawn/reinvisioned after coloring in.

Then I played with the ordering and the placement with things like this:

**That's when I decided that if I changed the shape of the top edge of the wings, they could line up and make a continuous arc across the top.  I loved the concept of this because it represents a great metaphor for differences in individuals and how they all belong to the same community. That feeling of belonging is like a safety net, or a protective arc, like an umbrella, helping us weather the storm.
The next step was to enlarge the shapes to full scale. I did it the old fashioned way with paper and pencil and eraser, occasionally resorting to measuring and math. I then traced the drawing with a Sharpie so that I can see it easily through the white fabric.
Also of note, I designed these panels to fit the largest sized frame I have for batik. I was able to fit two sections together which meant I had a total of two panels to make.  And, since I was dyeing for each part of the batik, I put the orange butterfly sections in the same panel, and the yellow and blue sections together.

After many hours of carefully applying the wax,

The sections were enclosed with a "wall" of wax and ready for the dye to be applied inside each wall,
After filling the sections with dye, they process overnight.  The next day it is rinsed with water, and the colors are checked.  In this case, I wanted more orange.  A slight delay because it required another layer of dye and waiting again.  The eternal wait.  Time never goes more slowly than waiting for the dye to process.... Then it is rinsed again to check the colors. And for this piece, the wax will be boiled out next.
This is a section after the wax is boiled out.  Next, I want to dye the white lines black.  To do this, I will need to add wax to everything that I just dyed orange, and the wax will have to be applied very precisely.  More patience was required than I have ever had, so I had to dig deep and settle in.

Here is a shot of the edge of the butterfly wing.  The grey line and the grey dots are the wax, and will protect the white fabric from the black dye.  In this photo, I have not started applying the wax to the orange parts yet.  Saving the "best" for last.... Finally, adding the black dye, and it looks so incredibly good.  All my dreams come true!
This shot has all the wax and all the dye.  All that is left is to boil out the wax.  By the way, the larger the piece, the harder this is.  I have to cram all this fabric, stiff with wax, into a large pot of boiling water.  The fabric folds in on itself in the pot and the wax gets trapped in the layers, which is problematic.  This process works better with more water.  However (and I found this out the hard way), if it has too much water, the fabric can also trap heat, which causes giant boiling bubbles to suddenly escape from one side and boil over the pot, or unexpectedly burn your arm if you happen to be stirring the pot at the same time.  Now I use long oven mitts when I do this.  
The finished panel, hanging outside to dry.

Then I had to repeat the entire process with the other panel, the blue one.

After the two panels were finished, I cut them, and stitched them in order of the caterpillars on the front, matching only the top edge of the arc for placement and adding some white panels to make it large enough.  

Time to start the quilting. This is the step that usually requires even more bravery.  It feels like so much work has gone into the parts, that the risk of quilting it has the possibility of ruining it. Wrong design, or other problems plague my courage.  It is time to remember all the time I have spent cultivating my skills and just relax into the challenge.  This is easier said than done.  I confront this same beast each and every time I make a quilt. It is interesting to me that sometimes the quilting does go wrong, and I rip it out and fix it.  A great metaphor for life, yes?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

the Caterpillars
64"ish x 64"ish

Here is my completed top for the first side of the Caterpillars quilt. I am still debating how to quilt it while considering the butterflies on the back....However, if you were wondering how all the different segments previously posted are going together, here it is!

It's kind of bold and in your face!  It is also rather large, compared to a real caterpillar.  Imagine if the real ones were this big? That, my friend, would be a pretty colorful world, possibly a scary one too? I like how they look so different from each other, but really have a lot in common.  I will leave you to think about that.

Next week, I will have the back, all the butterfly segments sewn together.  Cheers!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Winds of Change: Caterpillar part 4

This last panel is based on the hawk moth caterpillar. I don't usually post photos that are not mine, so you can use this link to google images if you would like to see what a real one looks like. Apparently, there are all kinds of hawk moths and this is just one, but for caterpillars, it's kind of cool!

All the tiny dots....I thought of making them into tiny pieced squares, like really tiny! Then I decided because this moth has big white dots, that I would make the little dots into circle dots too, to repeat the shape.  This led me out into the batik studio to try my hand at making lots of little dots.  I also calculated the size of fabric I would need so as to not spend too much extra time making dots that I didn't need.  Yep, that's how excited I was....until I got started.  The first row took a long time, or I had short patience.  The next day I put in more rows.  The next day I did half of the entire piece, and then finished it up in one more day.  This is definitely a 'chore' that grows on me!

That's a LOT of dots!! Right?  Are you wondering how many?  I was, so I counted them, even the practice dots on the side that would not be used.  Grand total: 4663

Then the delicious and wonderful black dye!
I did not stamp these dots.  They were individually applied with a tjuanting tool.  I did have some fabric very similar to this, but I didn't like it as much for a number of reasons.  One was that it was stamped, so all the dots are very consistent.  I like how my fabric is more varied, but just slightly so.  It has the hand of the artist in it, so there are some places with different densities of dots, and slightly different sized dots.  I think for an organic creature this works better. I also like that my dotted fabric looks darker, closer to black. 

Then I held it up to the appliqued larger white dots...(these were hand drawn approximation to circles)...
Looks good to me!!
Next step was to cut up the fabric, carefully. 
I also pieced some tiny orange and white stripes to go with it, and last the assembly of all the pieces:
Yeeaassssssss! This may be my favorite panel of the four! I am loving that vertical stripe of darker orange-red down the middle!!

Thursday, February 25, 2021


Wow! I won an Honorable Mention for my quilt, Conversations, at Visuals #3 National Quilt Competition! I entered in the Mid-Century Modern Quilt category. I am a little in shock because the Mancuso Brothers quilt festivals are very competitive and I didn't think my quilts would do well there. It is so funny because I always love my quilts A LOT, but the judges do not always agree with me.  So, a very humble and special thank you to Sue Nickels and Marjan Kluepfel (the judges)! The online show is from Feb 24 to Feb 27.  

I also have three other quilts in this festival. The next one was also in the Mid-Century Modern Quilt Category.
Let Your Hair Down

And the next two were in the Full Size Innovative category:
Turn the Dial


I have taken a few minutes to check out the other quilts and they are stunning! And they made the images really large, easy to see, and easy to scroll through with the arrow keys on my keyboard.  I am grateful for the close-ups, but mostly the big images look really good. A nice platform for viewing quilts if you can't be there in person!

I would also like to give a big thank you to the show's sponsors: the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau, BERNINA of America, A Different Touch, Cottonwood Quilt Shop, Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics, Zappy Dots and The Grace Company. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Winds of Change: Caterpillar, Part 3

This little caterpillar does not have any humps or blobs at all.  It is mostly just stripes.  Modeled after a real life caterpillar, I am in love with the colors and simplicity.  As seen above, I have selected all the yellow solids I have and threw in some white as well.  I cut many, many strips, and then randomly selected them for each section. I stitched them together, and I know that I keep saying this... but I am in awe of how much fabric it takes to make such a small section! It was easier to keep it all parallel by sewing every group of 2 strips together first.  Then I joined strips of two's together to make a block of 4.  Then I checked those against a ruler and trimmed if necessary. And then repeated until the entire block was built up to the correct size. When working with so many tiny strips, it is easy for a small mistake to get multiplied and eventually make everything wonky.  And, I seriously love wonky, but it was not what I wanted for this project. 

Once I had a long strip of yellows, I cut it in half (as seen above), and inserted a 1/2" black stripe down the middle.  I added black and white wide strips above and below.  The actual panel looks more like this, though this is still just a detail section of the overall panel:
I am loving the bold use of color and wide stripes with the narrow ones!  Great contrast! One more caterpillar to go! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Rainbow Rings
24" x 24"

To celebrate the opening of QuiltCon Together, I decided to post about my Make a Mini Make a Friend quilt.
This is a quilt swap with the Modern Quilt Guild.  After you sign up, you are paired with someone else who is participating.  We get introduced to each other via email, and then make a mini quilt for each other that are eventually sent through snail mail.  This is my first time participating and it was fun!  I was also grateful that my normal break neck pace had slowed down enough to have an opening in my normally very full schedule. 
First, my swap partner did not have any requests at all.  This made it really hard for me.  I already struggle with decision making.  I was worried that I wasn't going to come up with any ideas at all. Luckily for me, she had an Instagram account, so I was able to look at her previous posts.  Brilliant!!  It didn't take long, and then I was well on my way.  The only thing I found hard was keeping this a secret!  She wasn't supposed to see it until it was mailed to her.  We were allowed to post shots of details that did not give it away, and that was good enough! 

Another thing I really liked about this project was an opportunity to explore an idea I had.  I had previously made a double wedding ring quilt, but since then I have had a number of other ideas, but hadn't yet had time to pursue them.  This one was perfect because it also incorporated the idea of transparency in the overlapping colors.  

Using my copic markers, I sketched my idea.  I loved the idea of starting with the markers, because I could overlap the colors and see the transparencies.
It also took me a while to find colors that would work and appear to be the in-between colors.  
Then I drew the pattern full scale and cut out the rest of the pieces.  For this to work, I needed to keep track of the placement of all the blocks because none of them were interchangeable.
I started piecing the smallest squares first to make the corners of the DWR. 
These were quick and easy! The curves were a bit stretchier, but doable.  It went together really quick, which was very satisfying! 
I decided to hand quilt the colorful rings because I love the texture of hand quilting so much!
I finished it up with some black echo quilting and fine line quilting in the melons (the black and white striped inner section of the rings).  Then I sent it to my swap partner.  I was surprisingly anxious... waiting to hear if it arrived and if she liked it or not.  After a few days I saw her post on Instagram.  It warmed my heart to see that she liked it!  That's the best part of this project is how I felt.  The act of giving warms the heart!

And, within a day or two my quilt from Julie arrived!
I love it so much!  First, I LOVE hummingbirds! They symbolize joy for me.  And I have used them in my work before. Perhaps you remember from this quilt? Also, I love the bright aqua/turquoise colors she selected for my hummer.  It is PERFECT for me!  I also love the background fabric and the backing fabric because both had hummingbirds on them! A nice repetition of pattern.  Last, I love the precision of the paper pieced pattern.  I am not a paper piecer.  This is not something I would normally have, but I am so grateful that Julie can do this (and she does it VERY WELL!!).  It is so beautiful.  The pattern is called Sugar Baby and is from Nicole at Lillyella Stitchery