Friday, November 28, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea
 What do Greg Mortenson and Pamela Allen have in common? Probably nothing, but they got linked in my mind. I was reading this book, Three Cups of Tea, when I took Pamela Allen's class, Think Like an Artist back in May of this year. For me, the class was like a focused mini-retreat, as I got to create for 3 solid days, culminating with my self-portrait quilt that won a prize in Houston. This quilt was one of my unfinished quilts. Pamela-la-la-la gave each of us a scrap of fabric and told us to create a picture with it. I remember doing that in grade school, drawing a line and then trying to create a picture from it or with it. It's a fun exercise. We didn't stop to fuse, just cut and paste (yes, literally with glue). Quickly. I struggled, struggled with this quickly part. The absolute best thing that came out of the class for me was the astute realization of what my son feels like every single day in school, that everything was hard and moving way too fast. It seems my process is much slower. But I did want to finish this little piece.

I finally got to it this last week. I was trying to think of a name for it, that's when I decided to call it 3 cups....that's when a bell of recognition starting ringing in my head. I had no idea in May that the cups I placed on it had anything to do with Greg's book. This week I remembered that I had been reading it at the time I made this quilt. An especially appropriate timing, the week of Thanksgiving. What do I have to be thankful for? Well, lots of things, but especially people like Greg Mortenson who remind us that a single person can change the world and that you can fight hate with love. He inspired me, and really I only picked up the book because I thought it was a climbing adventure survival tale. It was so much more! I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Superior Threads

Superior Threads
When I first started quilting, it was all by hand and I used a simple cotton thread. That was the old days. Now I still enjoy hand quilting, but the bulk of my work is definitely by machine. I can't use the same old thread I used to use. In fact there are so many threads available today, it is overwhelming to choose. And I have bought a number of skunky threads and you know which ones I am talking about. The ones that break no matter what kind of needle you use or what tension you set your machine for. The ones that look great on the spool, but not so great on your fabric. Yuck!

However, I haven't bought any of those stinkers from Superior Threads. All quality!! My favorites are King Tut and Bottom Line. I bought some new colors at the Quilt Festival in Houston a few weeks ago, and decided to play with them on this dyeing experiment. Really it was just an exercise to get the creativity juices flowing. I love the varigated threads that Superior makes. And let's not forget the bobbin! I use Bottom Line for almost all my bobbins now. It just seems to last forever, many bright colors available, and it also works GREAT as a top thread when you want very closely spaced quilting lines and fine lines. On this little quilt I used 5 varieties of King Tut, and Bottom Line for the bobbin.
 And while I am on my thread soapbox, I wish when we listed materials used on our quilt entries for quilt shows, that the organizers would put the threads on the quilt signage. We all notice the fabric, and for the most part, we can recognize it if we want to buy some. But the thread contributes so much to the final look of the quilt, and I don't know about you, but I can not tell recognize thread brands by looking. Maybe it's my ignorance, or the fact that my eyes are getting old, but I would LOVE to see what threads people are using on their quilts!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Back from Houston with News to Share!

Back from Houston with News to Share!

Or How a Hotel Room Sold My Fabric Line....

I responded to a post on QuiltArt listserve for a room at the Hilton and somehow managed to actually get the room. As most of you know, this in itself is quite a stroke of luck. The room belonged to Morna Golletz of Professional Quilter Magazine, and she told me to come by and meet her during Quilt Market. Well, getting to Quilt Market was another whole set of obstacles, that I won't go into here, but let's just say that it involves a number of deadlines, creditials, and confusing childcare.....I digress.

Anyway, I told Morna why I was at Quilt Market and she so graciously and kindly offered to introduce me to a few people. That's how I met Kathy Miller of Michael Miller Fabrics. And I showed her my work, and then she bought it!! I was so excited by a such a positive response to my work, that I was in shock for days. This is a little sample of one of my designs for you. And though Morna's contact really helped me, she wasn't the only one. Pokey Bolton also introduced me to a few people at Robert Kaufman, and Laura Wasilowski and Frieda Anderson were introducing me to EVERYONE. One of my favorites turned out to be the actual Jane Sassaman with Westminster Fabrics. Really, everyone was so nice and so very helpful, I just have a BIG THANK YOU, and lots of good karma floating around.

Me, Laura, Jan Wass, and Frieda going out to dinner Monday night.
But, that is not all, oh no, that is not all...
On Tuesday night, I found out that my little Self Portrait won a second place award. I think I have confidence in my work, and I was really pleased with this little piece, but still I was really surprised when it won a second place. Absolutely wonderful!! Here is a photo with me by my quilt along with the other winners. You can see Laura's 3rd place really fabulous little quilt, and the 1st place quilt by Cindy Richards.

Another juicy piece of news, which I have been savoring for a month, is that my quilt, Little Fish in a Big City, got accepted into Quilt National. Now this one, I have to pinch myself every morning to see if I am awake, because I am still having trouble believing it's real. I got the provisional acceptance. Then I filled out all the paperwork and sent the quilt in. And, then they listed my name on their website, so I guess it is real. Not wanting to spoil the surprise, I can tell you that it is sort of a cross between Little Cities and Sychronized Swimming. I can also tell you that it took over a year to make. I manipulated every fabric I used including, batik, bleach discharge, overdyeing of commercial fabrics; screen printing with thicked dyes; and batiking and dyeing my own designs. It was a fun project to work on and gratifying to watch it evolve to the point of completion. Here is a little thumbnail of it.

And now you might be thinking that this is plenty of good fortune for an entire lifetime, but really it just keeps going!

On a whim, I decided to try to get into a Make It University class, especially when I found out that Pokey Bolton was going to teach it. It was a Project Runway class with music from the 80's as our theme. I was fortunate enough to have friends take the class with me, Tanya Littman, Deborah Boschert, Leslie Jennison, and Jamie Fingal.

Here I am hanging out with Jamie while she is doing Open Studios. You have to visit Judy's blog to see photos of the Project Runway photos.

Judy Perez and Robbi Joy Eklow were the judges. We had to dance for extra goodies to use for our costumes. When she held up the black bra, I couldn't contain myself, as my dancing led me to kicking and swirling on top of my chair. Then we all got lp records to use. You may be thinking (as I did), how do you use a record to make something to wear? Well, Pokey had all the answers, with heat guns, paint, and glue, and other "stuff". We had such a good time. The required dancing for objects really helped keep us alert and on task for an end of the day workshop. But mostly, IT WAS FUN. If you want to see how I won the grand prize, you will have to go to Pokey's blog, or even Judy Perez's blog, they both have a video of all the craziness.

And though the workshop was plenty of fun all by itself, I didn't realize when I signed up that there would be prizes. My costume won the grand prize, and this is all the stuff I won:

3 books, Mixed Media self-portraits Inspiration and Techniques by Cate Prato, Mixed Mania Recipes for Delicious Mixed Media Creations by Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater, The Quilting Arts Book Techniques and Inspiration for Creating One-of-a-Kind Quilts by Pokey Bolton; a new Stitch magazine, and the latest Quilting Arts Magazine,Quilting Arts TV Series 200, 6 jars of Lumiere fabric paint, one silk scarf with 3 bottles of dye, 2 jelly rolls of fabric from Moda, and one fat quarter pack from Clothworks!