Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This is my quilt, Blue Towers.  It was recently rejected from Tactile Architecture, an exhibit that debuts at the Houston Quilt Show (aka, International Quilt Festival).  
I am posting about this recent rejection for many reasons.  One is that since I usually post about my successes, my readers might assume that is the whole story.  And it is not.  I get many, many rejections.  I enter a LOT of quilts into a LOT of venues.  My motto is "You can't win if you don't play".  Not that I am always looking for a win, I'm not. (a side note: I do really LIKE winning when it happens!!) However, the point is to hope that my work gets to be SEEN by a larger audience.  That makes being an artist meaningful to me.  First to make the art, and then for it to be seen.

To be seen on my blog is truly wonderful.  However, blog readership has really gone down in the recent years.  I'm not sure if it is my work, or my blog, or just a general trend?  And the other note is that my work looks really different in real life as compared to a small image on a computer screen.  I suspect that is true of most art.  That's why I work so hard to get it out there.

How do I feel about this rejection?  This time it just didn't matter that much.  A lot of people I know ruminate about the WHY part of the equation.  I don't usually go there, or if I do, I don't stay long.  I like my work, or I wouldn't have entered it.  I am very critical of my own work, and usually my critique is more valuable to me than what other people might say.  I will say that being rejected by a juror whom I respect does give me cause to go back and re-evaluate my work.  I did not get that opportunity this time.  For some odd reason, Houston prefers to keep their jurors' identities secret.  And this is where I must lack some serious empathy because for the life of me, I can't imagine why?
Being a juror is hard work.  It is difficult to take a bajillion photos and pick only a few that will work as a cohesive exhibit.  Not an enviable task.  I look forward to seeing the quilts that were selected.  And, it is unlikely that I will agree with all of the jurors' choices, but it was their choice to make, not mine. Without any knowledge or details, I usually just assume that my quilt didn't fit in as well as perhaps some others did.  And, I am okay with that.

As for Blue Towers?  I am VERY fond of this quilt.  I love the colors as they are so rich, vibrant, mellow, and lush.  I love the patterns in this quilt.  I love the quilting in this quilt.  I love the edge finish whipstitched by hand in black embroidery floss.  I love what this quilt means to me.  For me, it all works. And, this quilt is lucky enough to have already been to the Houston Quilt Show in part of another exhibit. 
Until next time....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Treasured Fabric Meant to be Used: Road Racers

I bought this wonderful little animal racing fabric when my son was about 2.  I fully intended to use it on something, but could not decide how to best cut it up.  I had it stacked in my closet with a set of other fabrics that would go with it, and nothing ever happened....until I stumbled across it a few weeks ago.  Same kid is now 18.  It might be okay to cut this up!
I think we all go through this.  Buying a beloved fabric and then too afraid to cut it up.  I suspect for me that there was something about needing to keep it whole that prevented me from cutting it up.  And, for whatever reason, I don't have that need anymore.  Time to move on.
I had fun making these rather wonky blocks.  And to extend the fabric a little bit further, I was able to add some pastel strips to the little sections of racing cars.  This allowed me to make a half yard of the fabric into a quilt top that is about 45" square.  Then I added this black and white racing checks border to finish it off.  LOVE!
And, I know I will have fun quilting it too, when I get to that part.  I forgot to take a picture of the fabric I used for the back, but will make sure to include it when I get the quilting done!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stashbusters: using up the Red and Aqua

On my quest to start using up my fabric stash (vs. letting it sit unused in boxes for years and years....), I have a new top completed.  I call this one, Trapped by Icy Blue.  This was an experiment in asymmetry, though there are symmetrical elements about it.  I also decided to mix it up a bit with a pop of red, just to see what it looked like.  I am still not sure if I like it or not.  I would love to hear your opinions!

I enjoyed working the strips in smaller blocks.  This top was made with 4 big blocks, as opposed to one giant block that kept growing as in the Big Blue stashbuster here.

Though you might have seen this coming, I did not.  I was singly focused on making the quilt tops without a care in the world.  Now....I need backs for these two big blue quilts, and I can't decide what to choose.  I thought of just purchasing some wide fabric to use for the backs, but it kind of defeats the purpose of getting rid of what I already have.  I thought of just using this quilt as the back for the other one.  They are almost the same size.  However, aesthetically, it is not working for me.  Why do I have to care???  But I do.

Then, I will need to quilt these big quilts. Not ready for that yet.  I will get to it, but for now, I am working on more quilt tops and see what happens.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Threads in the Tapestry of Austin
May 27 - July 5 at the Doughtery Arts Center, Austin TX

A first for me!  Feeling happy this morning as I prepare my quilts to deliver to the Dougherty Arts Center this morning.  I had two quilts juried into this exhibit, and another first were the comments that I received from the juror, Miki Rodriguez, about my work. The first is The Deep End.
"The minimalist composition and the drawn perspective causes the few elements to project off of this two dimensional space. The perspective, under the water, is powerful."

And my second quilt,  Out of the Box.
"Out of Box has a clever way of organizing color, shape and line. It is playful and reminds me of computer games that so many of us might be addicted to. I selected this for the exhibit because of its appearance of time and space in the present."

I also have a small piece hanging on the Austin Fiber Artists' member wall, Urban Flowers.
Hope you get a chance to stop by and see this wonderful exhibit!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Radical Elements
 a SAQA exhibit...
Seeking: A White Mitten in a Blizzard opening this week on Wednesday, May 20 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC!  How cool is that?!! As a previous science teacher and now artist, it sounds pretty wonderful to me.  I wish I could go, as the entire exhibit looks amazing from what I have seen in the catalog!  It will be up from May 20 to October 19. 

My 3D interactive quilt about breast cancer detection and the element technetium will be there!  If you go, flip the switch!
See more about my quilt here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review of Sue Bleiweiss's new book: Colorful Fabric Collage:  Sketch, Fuse, Quilt!

Last year, I was invited to submit a little quilt for Sue's book. I was delighted to give it a go. This is my little quilt, Welcome Home. It was fun to make. The only requirements were the size, and that it need to be made with fusible applique. Her book, Colorful Fabric Collage: Sketch, Fuse, Quilt has been published now. I love it! It is filled with a lot of techniques for fusible applique and many fun projects!

I have been doing similar work for years and thought there would be very little to learn from her book, but happily I was wrong. I like using black lines to outline my work from time to time, and the only way I have ever used is with satin stitch, like this:

Now, I have learned another way! Just to practice the new things I learned I made this new little quilt, Garden House using some of Sue's techniques. I really like it and was surprised how quickly it came together!
My favorite things about the book:
1. It has all the steps, start to finish, including design, dyeing fabric, fusing, quilting, embellishing, and finishing it. I love that it is comprehensive.
2. Lots of pictures! Well, maybe that's a given, but very important to me because I am very visual.
3. Lots of examples from other artists. I love that Sue included examples from many of her artist friends. It was interesting to see the other projects.
4. Speaking of projects, Sue's book is packed with them, and they are not all quilts. I love some of the other projects she shows how to make like the tote bag and the fabric journal. Excellent!
5. Last, and this one is important! Sue gives tips that help make your project a success. Thanks for that!
Giveaway Pack
Sue is having a blog hop. There will be a drawing for a free book, hand-dyed fabric, Mistyfuse, and Aurifil thread. Leave a comment below to enter!

May 4: Sue Bleiweiss:
May 4: Jamie Fingal :
May 5: Leslie Tucker Jenison:
May 6: Terri Stegmiller :
May 7: Deborah Boschert :
May 8: Desiree Habicht :
May 9: Kathy Sperino :
May 10: Barb Forrister :
May 11 Kathy York :
May 12: Lyric Kinard :

Good luck!!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Review of Thermofax 101: screen printing made easy

I’m so happy to be a part of the blog hop and giveaway to celebrate the release of my dear friend Lyric's newest DVD Thermofax 101 screen printing made easy by Lyric Kinard. 
Enter a comment below by next Friday and you will be eligible for a free copy of the DVD! I will randomly selected a winner for a free copy of it (international entries are also accepted)! If you don't win this one, you can get one here.

I was really excited to watch it because I have done a little screen printing and I was curious about the thermofax process. It is a great instruction DVD! I also really love getting to see Lyric's process because I have admired her work for years. I really appreciate that Lyric sells the screens too, just in case you do not want to invest in a thermofax machine, but might enjoy trying it out!

Things I like about the DVD:
1. It is well organized. The chapters are in a logical order and go into enough depth that you can easily get started screen printing.
2. I really like the way Lyric gives enough tips to help you through any trouble spots you might have.
3. It is obvious that Lyric has a lot of experience screen printing and has taken a lot of time and care to explain the process in a way that makes it easy to do. She uses a lot of visual examples and a lot of demonstrations to show how this all works.
4. I was not expecting Lyric to cover fabric design. Bonus! I like the information about design, and ways to use the screen to make fabric for use in other projects.
5. The DVD has good light and good closeups. The visuals are helpful and easy to see!

Things I like about the thermofax screens:
1. They are super easy to make (well, especially when I send my drawing to Lyric and she runs it through her machine!) ha! Whatever I draw, the screen looks just like it!
2. It is reusable, as long as I remember to not let the paint dry in it (this is not a problem, I am always super cautious about that!)
3. I do not like that the screen rolls up so easily. It seems hard to use, however once I got it taped up as shown in the DVD, it was really easy to work with, surprisingly easy.

For my little practice project I am using this little faucet. I wanted to do something about water usage and our current drought.  This is a work in progress shot:
ps.  I printed 6 of these little faucets, and it took me about 5 minutes (including the clean-up!).  LOVE how fast and easy this is!

Check out the other participants in the blog hop!
April 24 Cheryl Rezendez
April 25  Leslie Tucker Jenison  
April 28  Sue Bleiweiss
May 1  Sue Price & Elizabeth Gibson
May 2  Judy Coates Perez
May 4  Linda Stokes
May 5  Jane Davila
May 6 Melanie Testa
May 8  Carol Sloan
May 11  Susan Brubaker Knapp
May 12  Desiree Habicht
May 14  Deborah Boschert
May 15  Sarah Ann Smith

Thanks for stopping by!  And may you be inspired to create!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Long Necked Cats and the Long Legged Bird
40" x 40"

I am happy to share with you that this piece will be traveling in SAQA's Wild Fabrication's exhibit!  It is an honor to have my work chosen!!

These cats are a whimsical take on my cats and their many personalities; the instigator, the gastronome, the skeptic and the innocent...(top to bottom). They live indoors and spend many hours watching birds through the windows. I imagine them preferring that birds can't fly, but rather run with long legs, putting their bodies right at mouth height! 

I had a lot of fun making this one.  It practically flew together!  I used a whole next set of fat quarters that I bought in La Grange while visiting the Texas Quilt Museum; lots of polka dots from Kaffe Fassett and some batiks from Marcia Derse.  These seemed to blend together in a way I wouldn't have thought possible, but I love it!  Each fabric was Mistyfused, and then traced, and then ironed into place.  I made a make-shift light table by putting a bulb on a cord inside a plastic box.  I added a piece of glass to the top.  Then I made sure to leave the light on for only a few minutes at a time.  The possibility of a meltdown seemed imminent!  So I worked quickly and then turned off the light.  There is most likely a safer way to do this, but since this one worked, I didn't look for another.  Meanwhile, I discovered that my giant box of Prismacolor pencils worked perfectly for drawing on the fabric.  I was able to pick different colors to make sure that my lines showed on the different colored fabrics.  And I drew the lines slightly larger so that I could cut inside the lines and not have the pencil marks on the fabric.  Worked like a charm!  Here is a kitty face just starting.  You can see the fabric on top of the Fat Goddess Teflon sheet, which is on top of my drawing.  It shows even better with the light turned on.
After I fused the cat bodies, I fused to the white background, and then added the dots in the background.  The big ones were cut from some batik circles I had laying around...
LOVE those dots!  All the colors are so pretty!  The little dots were painted.
And after completing all the machine quilting with Masterpiece threads, I went back and added the black line satin stitching and a little hand embroidery on the faces. 
I'm guessing you can probably see where my inspiration for this quilt came from now?

Friday, March 27, 2015

16" x 16"
I finished my entry for the Quilt Alliance.  Every year they have a contest to raise funds for their fabulous organization.  The quilts are donated and exhibited and then they are put up for auction on Ebay.  I don't always enter because sometimes the theme does not appeal to me, but this year really pulled at my heartstrings.  It was easy to come up with an idea for Animals We Love!

I am also hip deep in home repair (again!), and have had very little time to sew.  Spring is calling me outdoors (the live oaks are dropping leaves again!), and I long to return to the pool and my bicycle.  The weather is absolutely perfect here in central Texas!  And so, I cherished the opportunity to make something small that wouldn't take me too long.  I finished this little kitty in 3 days!

And if you are curious, the quilt was made with 100% Mistyfuse.  All the pieces were cut into their shapes and fused into place.  I then quilted it by machine, then satin stitched in black, and add a few touches of hand embroidery.  The vase is transparent, I used some light blue dyed silk organza (Mistyfuse works perfectly for that too!).

The kitten's story:
We found him at the Humane Society, only 1 of 2 kittens there.  I preferred to adopt an older cat, but my daughter was smitten with this cute boy.  He is actually a tuxedo boy, so handsome in his black and white.  We already have 3 adult cats, all siblings.  The 4th died from bleeding out from a surgery.  He had eaten an object he shouldn't have.  The vet told us it was a sharp wire and that it really needed to come out, so I gave the okay.  It was not actually a wire at all, but a hair band.  If I had known that, I would never have authorized the surgery.  I am still grieving the loss of our Smokey cat, complicated by my part in his death.  I thought I was helping him and it unfortunately led to his premature death.  Anyway, with 3 cats in our lovely household, I falsely assumed my daughter would attach to one of the other cat-boys.  But, she did not.  Eight months later she was still not making any progress.  So, I surprised her with a trip to the Humane Society.  I was determined to find a way to integrate another cat into our cat society, though honestly, it was the last thing on earth that I wanted to do. 
yes, his eyes are really really round, perfect circles!
A year later, the sweet kitty boy is the charmer of the household.  He has filled our hearts with joy and healed our grief.  He is a hilarious ball of energy and spunk.  He quickly found his place with the other cats and held his own, despite being the smallest and youngest.  And regardless of the trouble he gets into, he never really believes that he is doing anything wrong.  After all, he is just being a cat!  Oh YES, we love him so!
I hope this little quilt earns a lot for the Quilt Alliance.  I put my whole heart into it, so much so that I might just bid for it myself!  I am even considering making another one just for me, or possibly marketing a pattern for him! 
I also did an recorded interview with the Quilt Alliance years ago for their project Save Our Stories.  If you are interested in mine or a large selection of other wonderful quilters, you can find the stories here.

Monday, March 02, 2015

a work in progress...
This quilt started as an experiment with surface design.  I had an idea.  Paint some thin batik lines on white fabric, making sure they are widely spaced, and dye different colors on each stripe.  Then capture those colors by stamping a big circle and fill in the circle with wax.  Done!   Then bleach discharge the fabric, and overdye a different color.  Repeat with various combinations of colors.  I then cut the fabric into squares and arranged the blocks...
And I do kind of like the abstract quality of the circles and squares and random arrangement.  But apparently, not enough to actually sew them together, because they sat around my studio for a long time.  Meanwhile, many other projects were started and completed, and this one just sat, waiting for it's turn. 
Eventually, I pulled the blocks down, and put them on a shelf.  This winter, I got a new idea for the blocks.  Cut the squares into circles!! Yes!! Let's try it. 
And use some curves, and surround them with tons of white empty space.  They became strings of beads, on a BIG scale.  I think the quilt is about 60" square, maybe larger?  Each "bead" is about 4 inches across (aka, diameter!).  I like it, I like it a lot!
Now, all that's left is the quilting.  I wasn't sure about the first idea I had, so I made a small sample:
Oh yes!  I like this too!  Good idea.  Now, I only have to DO it.  It is hard to free motion a big quilt, and hard to do close echo quilting from multiple starting points (each line of beads), and not run into pleats on the backs.  This will be challenging to do it right.  I can tell you that by the time I get to the hand quilting with black thread, I will be choosing Aurofil's new floss, and having a good time.  However, I am not there yet.  Hey and if you are wondering how those circles are attached, think no further than the magic of Mistyfuse