Tuesday, May 30, 2023

New Legacies exhibit

The Lincoln Center New Legacies: Contemporary Art Quilts
Jun 10 - Aug 5, 2023

I am so happy to share that my quilt, Ocean Blues/Oil and Water has been juried into the New Legacies: Contemporary Art Quilts exhibit at The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, CO! 

And, I asked before entering it if there was a possibility of showing both sides. And they said YES! I am really hoping that they are able to do that.  I guess we will see!

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Forest Floor

Forest Floor
85: x 85"
This quilt was made for my youngest. I was inspired by our fantastic experience when we went hiking in the sequoias near Yosemite National Park a few years ago and being around such old souls.  That peace and joy is what I hope is conveyed with this quilt. 

Selecting the color palette: 
Next, cutting all the fabrics into squares. They are sitting on the fabric we selected for the backing of the quilt.

Looking at the stacks of cut fabric, the project feels a bit daunting.

Next up, stitching the squares together, two at a time to make two sets of half square triangles (HST).  Then trimming them to the correct size.

Then sewing the stacks of HST into strips.  

It started getting real the more of these that I made.  When the top was finished, I popped it off my design wall to see how it looks in situ!
I think it looks PERFECT with the forest mural! Apparently the cat likes it too!

Last step was the quilting.  I quilted all the vertical lines and horizontal lines with dark brown thread along the long sides of the brown triangles.  Then I finished it up with different colors of greens along the diagonals. 

And last, outside to get some natural lighting on all those greens.  Most of the photos of this quilt distort the green colors, but the outside photos were the absolute best!
I'm pretty happy with the way this one turned out.  I hope it brings many years of joy to my now adult kid! :)

Sunday, May 14, 2023

AQS Paducah

AQS Paducah

I decided to try to expand my horizons by entering a new quilt show.  I didn't know much about this show except that it was a juried show, and that it was highly regarded.  

I remember the entry fee was a bit expensive, $40, and I don't remember if that was for multiple entries, or per quilt, and it didn't matter because I only had one quilt to enter. It was less expensive for members, but then the members also have to pay a membership fee. And for me, the $40 was cheaper. They do have amazing cash awards for the prize winners, but I already knew that my quilt was not going to be one of those.  They show previous winners on their website, and my quilt was a different kind of quilt.  Which is why I was surprised and elated that it got in!

They also state that they will NOT show both sides if you have a two-sided quilt.  That is apparently not true for the prize winning quilts (which I already knew mine would not be, and it did not win a prize, so I called that one!). However, I assumed or hoped that there would be volunteers with white gloves showing the backs of quilts. I don't know if that was true or not, as I did not go to the show. 

What I didn't know, and turned out to be a deal breaker for me is that they do not print your artist statement on the signage.  This led me to question why they asked for it on the entry form?  It turns out that during the awards ceremony, the artist statement is read aloud for the winning quilts. For all the other quilts, including mine, it simply does not matter why I made the quilt, or what story it tells. And, since only half of my quilt was being shown, the white privilege side, none or few of the viewers got to see what the quilt was really about.  And that kind of broke my spirit. It was the exact opposite of the goal of this quilt, to shine a light on the relationship between white privilege and racial inequities. See previous post here

My artist statement, (this is the expanded form because AQS limits the number of words you can include on the entry form):
This two sided quilt tells the story of the gaiety of abundance and bleakness of scarcity. On the front side the fawns have plenty to eat and are surrounded by whimsical birds and flowers. On the back side the fawns are in a barren land, separated from the flowers they need for survival by a giant barrier. A symbol of our own border, the work hints at a metaphor for success built from a racist system that rewards the lighter skinned fawns and deprives the darker skinned fawns. The story is not complete without both sides. An additional layer of transparency to the issue is shown when the quilt is backlit and elements of the other side can be seen regardless of which side you are standing on

Also, during the awards' ceremony, the announcer seemed to be the most impressed with the number of pieces a winning quilt had.  That was mentioned at least 3 or 4 times. That is not the thing which I value most about quilts. And certainly has no relevancy in what I choose to make. My favorite things about great quilts are the design and color. If the quilt is meaningful on another level, it takes the quilt to another level for me. Craftsmanship is also key, but not a deal breaker. It can't be so bad that it distracts from the design, but it doesn't need to be hyper dense layers of stitching that look like it was programmed by a computer. Those are certainly amazing, but just not really my cup of tea. 

Then, I got the quilt back with the judges' comments.  It is not the first time I have received irrelevant and less than helpful comments.  To be fair, the judges have a lot of quilts to judge and usually in a short amount of time.  I doubt they were writing the comments themselves, they likely had a scribe.  Additionally the scoring cards do not show the criteria that your quilt is being judged for.  It simply lists a nice comment and a "to help your quilt better compete" comment.  And the later for mine was "straight lines should be straight".  Okay, that is probably true, but my quilt doesn't have straight lines. It is a curvy organically drawn with hot gloopy wax quilt. It really left me questioning....?

Last, my goal in showing my quilts is to pass the inspiration on.  The inspiration to make something flows to me, and I want to let that inspiration continue to flow by letting the quilt travel and get to be seen. It is not about winning awards.  

However, it is really expensive to make quilts and show them.  This one cost $40 to enter, and $95 in shipping fees. I also paid $75 to get an appraisal.  Also, in case you didn't know, AQS keeps $25 of that appraisal fee, and gives only $50 to the actual appraiser.  That's a 50% markup in the price of the appraisal.  It doesn't sit well with me. Next time I will get an appraisal from someone local and not during a quilt show (certainly not an AQS quilt show). Which leads to the question, why even get an appraisal? That appraisal is key if the quilt gets lost in shipping (and mine has on 3 different occasions). 

And, all of this does not include the costs to make the quilt. I appreciate so much the sponsors who pay the cash awards for prizes. And, I really like winning awards because it helps immensely with some of these costs. It also feels really nice to win an award, especially for something that you have worked so hard to make. Quilts are best seen in person, and quilt shows help further that goal.  I am grateful that AQS is continuing to host these shows, but I will not be entering here again. 

Many thanks to Andrea Brokenshire, who went to the show and sent me these photos! And, many congrats to her gorgeous and winning quilts!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Austin Area Quilt Guild Biennial QuiltFest

Austin Area Quilt Guild Biennial QuiltFest
Sept 23 - 25, 2022

I meant to post about this last year, but I have gotten a bit lost in home repair projects that were not supposed to take so long. I am hoping to start posting more regularly again this year, as most of the projects and the related stress are now behind me. 
My entries, folded and stacked, waiting to be delivered in person to the show!

I submitted 3 quilts. The show is not juried, so if they have room, then all 3 will be shown.  I requested to have both sides shown of my two-sided quilts, hoping that they would have the space, but not expecting it.  I was incredibly pleased that they were able to honor my request! I mean over-the-moon happy about seeing both sides of my two-sided quilts displayed! Fantastic!!!

I was delighted to be able to attend the awards ceremony.  I did not help hang the quilts this year, as I was having some problems with my back, so I was anxious to see all the quilts. And after the awards ceremony, the show is open to members to get to see all the quilts before the crowds come in during normal show hours. Irresistable! 

I saw a lot of great quilts, very inspiring. And, I was planning to share them here, but I cannot for the life of me find them on my camera. Nuts!

seeing the show with friends: Andrea Brokenshire, Sherri McCauley, me, Pat Romohr

Even more surprising, I won a LOT of awards.  I never know what to expect of my quilts in this regard. Sometimes I look at them for so long, I get tired of them, and then I am surprised when someone else enjoys them. So, I am usually authentically surprised when a judge likes my quilts enough to select it for an award.

The following photos of the show were taken by Pat Romohr, and I am so grateful that she shared them with me. 

Plenty to Go Around/Scarcity won a 3rd place and the Quilt Show Chair's Award! Here I am with my super squinty smile, and in the second one, mouth open surprise, perhaps about the color of the ribbon both matching my quilt, and looking good with my outfit! Almost as if, it was made for me!

Plenty to Go Around

Scarcity (the other side)
A note about this quilt. It got extremely high marks on my judging sheet. I got one negative comment: "dark shadows show through light fabric".  It was intentional.  It needed to be that way to illustrate the contrast of the story of the two sides.  The quilt NEEDED some transparency, as it is about the relationship to white privilege and racism. Because the quilt is hanging at a quilt show, and has back lighting, you can see hints of the other side regardless of the side you are standing on. It was a conceptual choice that did not go over well with the judges, or perhaps was misunderstood? 

Another note: this quilt is currently on display at AQS Paducah.  It did not win any awards there and it will not be displayed with both sides showing. I was very content to have it juried into the show and have an opportunity for it to be seen. And though I have not been to that show, I suspect the competition is fierce. I had also planned to enter it into the Houston Quilt Show this year, but sadly it is now too old.  I missed my chance to enter it last year because I was a judge.  And so it goes...
Next up my quilt Caterpillars/Butterflies. It also won two awards! It got a 1st Place and a Design Award. The Design Award is extra special to me.  It is one of the things that I value most about a great quilt.


The two awards, and a close up of my super dense matchstick quilting with every line sewn with a different color of thread.

Last up, my quilt Seeds/Bloom.  It did not win an award. Although, I have to laugh at myself because of my three entries, this one is perhaps my favorite.



Monday, November 14, 2022

Mother Nature's All-Inclusive Rainbow Flower Garden

Mother Nature's All-Inclusive Rainbow Flower Garden
80" x 79"

because nature loves ALL the colors...
and, in nature, diversity is a plus, it makes the entire system stronger.
Something to think about.

This one started when my Juki broke last year.  I had taken it to a shop to be repaired, (where they kept it but did not fix it), and wandered around their shop.  I fell hard for some beautiful florals.  I had an idea that I could stitch them up, mostly as fat quarters, and make a back for one of my quilts.  You can see that post here.

And, though the fabrics were so beautiful, they did NOT look beautiful from my first idea. It was quite a surprise when I tossed them up on my design wall and kept moving them around and nothing worked.  I slept on it, for several nights.  It is hard to give up an idea that has failed.  The thing I kept seeing was circles.  Circles are harder than squares, and I still wanted it to be squares/rectangles.  Fortunately, I did not have time to work on it, so it sat on a shelf waiting it's turn.  

Then I paired those lovely florals with some solids, and I got excited! That's when I realized I wanted this to be a rainbow gradient of sorts. I wanted to drop everything to start this quilt! Surprising how a pile of fabrics can give that adrenaline rush! But my studio was filled with other projects.  It was hard to wait.
Finally, I got plugging away.  I made some quick templates for my big circles out of freezer paper, and started cutting the pieces.
I started digging through my stash to find more colors of the floral fabrics to go into the centers.  There were some, but not enough, so I shopped for even more.  This quilt turned out to be the opposite of what I like to do, which is to make use of what I already have. But, my heart was telling me to go for it, and I am glad I did.  
I also took the time to trim the seams so that the colors did not show through on the front. You can see the dark line where the pencil is pointing.  This is what it looks like right after pressing the seam.

Trimming the seam helps this little issue!

Here are a few closeups of the circles and their floral prints:

I rushed to finish piecing the top, hoping that I could get it in my photo shoot with Quiltfolk, and I did! They were fine with it being just a quilt top! Good things all around.

photo by Trevor Holloway

I hand basted it. And then set about quilting it.

That black masking tape came in handy again when trying to mark the lines for quilting!
The quilt in person is just so lovely. It has a lovely texture and a lovely emotional quality that is warm and inviting.  I just love it. Here's a detail of the quilting:
I can say that the choice of quilting concentric circles around the solid rings was a difficult maneuver.  It was tough to turn the entire quilt around inside my sewing machine.  It was one of those just barely manageable endeavors, but I love the way it looks!
 Photo shoot on the front of my house, a little bit of wind makes the quilt look alive!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Currents: Part 2

Currents: Part 2
78.5 x 79

If you follow me on social media, you have been seeing the slow reveal of this project with photos of the steps taken along the way. If you are here on my blog, you get to see the final project first! 

I love the organic lines of this quilt so much! And, it is also lovely as a memory quilt, memories evoked by each of the little prints sandwiched in between the solids.  I could see this easily being a memory quilt with photographs printed on fabric instead of the commercial print fabrics.  That would be so fun and so meaningful as well, like a quilted scrapbook!

Here are a few of the process shots I took along the way:
This is the full scale drawing taped to the floor. It will become my pattern.  It is drawn in pencil (and eraser) and traced with a black sharpie pen. I also added a grid to show the straight of grain, and put registration marks every 8 to 10 inches along the way. Then the pieces are cut apart with scissors.
Here are some of the pieces spontaneously curled into these loops.  I chose two different values of each solid color stripe. 
The paper pattern is held in place by weights that are easily moved around as needed.  I traced the borders of each paper piece in pencil.  If you have done this, you will know that the fabric tends to stretch and pull with the friction of the pencil tip.  I just used short strokes with the pencil, and that seemed to do the trick.  After tracing, and transferring the essential registration marks, I cut about 1/4" out from the traced line for the seam allowance.  The right sides will be placed together and pinned and stitched along those drawn lines.  This is what makes the pattern work, if your pencil lines are right on the edge of the paper, and your seam is right along the line, you will essentially sew back together all the same shape as the original paper pattern. 
Cut out, and placed together with the white strips. Next I will cut up the center white strip and insert sections of my favorite prints (one at a time).  I will check the shape as I go by comparing with the paper template of that center part.

After all the piecing, the basting, which I am doing by hand on my kitchen table.
I wanted to hand quilt this quilt.  I didn't care that it would take a long time because I was not in a hurry.  So, I opted to hand baste the quilt.  I love the way hand basting holds the quilt sandwich together, surprisingly better than pin basting. 
The quilting: I started in the middle of the quilt.  I wanted to use both heavy weight and light weight threads.  The heavy weight threads were really difficult to pull through the quilt sandwich.  It was very slow going.

Then I had to make a hard decision, which I waited too late to do.  Two things were bothering me.  One was that somewhere in the process, I got the tension wrong, and the more I worked, the more that tension problem distorted the quilt as I went along.  It did NOT work itself out.  The second problem was that I did not like the texture of the hand quilting.  For whatever reason, it was not appealing to me. URG! 

After months of hand quilting, I opted to yank it all out.  I did one section at a time and replaced with machine quilting.  Which I also did NOT like.  So I ripped that out and tried a third idea.  That one worked! Finally! 
I am happy now!  I just had to finish ripping out all that hand quilting and slowly replace it with the machine quilting.

I also had another issue while machine quilting.  I sometimes use masking tape to help me with the spacing of the lines.  I wanted to use it for some parts of this quilt, namely, the big white sections. The quilting on those lines follow the curve above it.  Unfortunately, I could barely see my masking tape on a white background.  I didn't know they made black masking tape, but they do.  And it works.  Such high contrast was easy to see!
I only had one small problem with this tape.  If you accidentally sew too closely to it, the black adhesive sticks to the needle and goes down into the quilt, and you can SEE the little black marks after quilting and removing the tape.  It was a learning process, to go slowly and NOT sew too closely to the black tape.  Done!

After quilting came all the regular tasks, trimming the quilt, blocking it, adding a facing and hanging tube, and the label.  Then the photography.  For a white quilt, natural lighting is best.  I usually hang the quilts from the front of my house, by the garage door.  Sometimes the lighting is wonderful.  It is hard to get bright intense diffuse light though, so I normal get a blue cast from photographing in the shadow. It is easy enough to repair in photoshop, but then it kind of tweaks the other colors just a little off.  It is very frustrating.  Suffice to say, the actual quilt looks so much prettier and softer and brighter than my photos of it. 
I am still in the middle of the reveal on Instagram and Facebook.  If you want to see more, you can follow along there too!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Currents Part 1
about 80" x 80"

The idea started as a self portrait.  I was thinking that quilting runs through my veins, which is at least a little bit true because my grandmother was a quilter.  I started sketching lines with my copic markers.  
After I made this first sketch, I wanted to put circles in between the lines, like little cells flowing through.  The fabrics could be some of my favorite print fabrics that I have collected over the years.  I decided to make a mock up on paper to see how it would look. I used Mistyfuse to press the circles in place and copic markers for the blue lines. Yes! Mistyfuse sticks to paper!

However, sometimes the fabric choices for the circle shapes disappeared into the white background.  So, I added the black dashed lines for handstitching.  It was okay, but my lines didn't look much like veins because they weren't branching out like a real vein.  And, that bothered me. Briefly.  I liked the linear aspects of the line drawing and it was only much later that I realized those lines are more about where I live.  They look like the hill country here in Austin, hills that were carved out by the Colorado River, the aerial view of the river also resembling these lines. I still wasn't convinced that I wanted to do the circles, which lead to the next and final idea.
This was also a bit of a stretch for my piecing skills.  I didn't know how to insert all these little pieces into the center white strip and still keep the big giant curve in it's original shape for the pattern.  Just because it looks simple, didn't mean that it was.  But, it was simple enough to see that it could be done. I would just have to learn how to do it.  And that learning part, well, that really appealed to me. 

If you are following me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen my project to reveal the year long project into 18 days. I will also share those same photos here in a later post. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Complements finish!

79" x 80"

I have some new finishes to share.  This one was first posted about last fall (here) when I finished piecing the quilt top. Now, it is quilted, bound, and labeled! 

It took a long time to get to this point, especially because I had trouble deciding if it would be a two-sided quilt or not.  However, I happened upon this wonderful fabric, and that was it! Pefecto! And it is really soft!
Unfortunately, I did not realize that the fabric has a very stretchy weave to it.  It was really difficult to work with.  So I opted to hand baste this quilt. I am finding that I like hand basting more and more because it holds the layers together more accurately than pin basting.

I opted to do long close 1/4" quilting lines for the solid sections, and a back and forth straight line quilting for the tiny pieced section.  I didn't want the quilting lines to distract from the beautiful simplicity of the design, I just wanted them to enhance that quality.  I was also a little concerned that the quilting might warp the quilt out of shape a bit as I worked, but it really didn't.  I feel like I got extremely lucky!

It left a lot of threads to tuck for the solid sections, so I took it outside on a beautiful weather day, and got to work!

Here's another close up of the final quilt:

I love the way this quilt turned out.  The colors are intense but the quilting gives them a wonderful softness that is hard to convey in the photos.  I also love how much detail you can see in the tiny pieced fabrics, even though the sample size is really small.  Those kittens and bears are adorable! 

Last, you can't tell in the top view, but the quilt binding is a wonderful purple, which also surprised me. I auditioned many fabrics before picking this one, and is was so obvious when I saw it, that I just knew!!