Saturday, December 18, 2010

Urban Landscape Donation for Operation Kid Comfort

Urban Landscape Donation for Operation Kid Comfort

When Ann Flaherty asked me for some of my fabric, I felt really honored to be asked.  I had no idea that Clothworks would send 6 bolts!  So generous!!  I feel so happy!  It has arrived at Operation Kid Comfort and will soon be made into quilts for children of deployed service men and women. 
Comfort. Create. Unite.  Operation Kid Comfort provides FREE photo-transfer quilts to children of deployed service men and women. Find out more here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Artist Village Project- Sneak Peek

Artist Village Project- Sneak Peek
I have been inspired by so many people.  And I have been supported by many great friends.  I couldn't do it alone, be an artist that is.  With this in mind, I came up with a collaborative project to include a number of old friends and some new friends. We are taking 3D to new extremes! And while I am not ready to show the entire project yet, I wanted to give you a sneak peak of my part.  

This is the inside of my front door and one of the side walls.  I am blessed with a daughter who is constantly leaving me notes.  This time she sent the note with a gift wrapped in plain newsprint and tape.  Inside?  A 3 of hearts on her kitty card.  Too cute for words.  It warms my heart!  Sweet, sweet, sweet. 

More later when we get the village assembled, and hopefully, a blog tour!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Not too Late

It's Not too Late

To start making gifts for the holiday season.  These were made by a friend of mine.  She used the pattern from my article on drawstring bags (or cleaning up cable clutter) in Quilting Arts Gifts magazine.  And she used my fabric, Urban Landscapes, as she is proud of my accomplishments and is obviously super supportive!  THANK YOU!!!  I borrowed them to take a photo on my back deck.  Yes, my picnic table is really aqua blue!  I just think they look so cute with the ribbons.  I hadn't thought of ribbons for the drawstring, but I love the look.  Very cute!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Interview with Lindsey Murray at Quilting Arts

Interview with Lindsey Murray at Quilting Arts

Today, I am being interviewed on Lindsey Murray's blog at Quilting Arts Magazine.  I met her in Houston this year and was instantly enchanted by her poise and confidence, and so young!  She was full of questions about my fabric designing, and so I happy indulged!  Read more here

It is nearly Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I am happy at this point in my life to be doing something that I love so much and holds so much meaning for me.  And I am so thankful for everyone at Quilting Arts for helping me along my path. Thanks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rejection Abounds

Rejection Abounds
Sometimes, in my exuberance over my successes that I share with you, it may appear that it is ALL success.  I can assure you that is not the case. So today, I share my latest rejection.  But first, a metaphor.
My favorite motto in rockclimbing....if you're not falling, then you aren't pushing yourself hard enough.  Of course we had ropes to catch us when we fell, so it was safe.  But falling is such a deep psychological fear, that even on a rope, you really don't want to fall and it's scary, illogically scary.  And if you never try anything harder, never take the risk, you really don't get any stronger or better as a climber.  And that's okay too. But for me, I had goals, I always strive to push myself, that's just how I am.  To overcome the fear, I would routinely get on climbs that I knew I couldn't do.  I would fall a LOT.  It helped me learn on a physical level to trust my climbing partner.  It helped me learn to push myself. And I got better, good balance, strong body, smart choices.
Planned Obsolescence - 2009

 This has paid off well as it translates to my new art quilt world.  I take a lot of risks.  I know I can't draw, but I push myself to draw and I learn. I have pictures in my head that need expressing.  I enter lots and lots of venues.  I risk rejection from the juries who decide which pieces will get in and which ones won't.  I risk rejection from the judges who pick winners.  I risk rejection from my audience who may not like what I have to say, or the way that I say it in my work.  Why??  Because if you don't ask, the answer is already no.  Asking, or entering, gets an opportunity for yes.
It would appear that my audience simply does not want to see a piece about a brand new bright and pretty neighborhood built on a trash heap of obsolescent appliances.  REALLY?  Who would of thought??  :)  It is either the theme or the execution of my techniques.  And it was my first attempt at a large batik etching, so possibly (no, definitely), I need more experience with the technique!  The piece is intentionally uncomfortable for the viewer.  I think some art is just like that.  Maybe I could have chosen different colors?  Maybe not.  I thought it would be perfect for the Beyond Comfort exhibit by SAQA, but they didn't think so.  I got the rejection yesterday.  It was the 5th rejection for this art quilt! 

And the theme of overconsumption is not one that most people really want to look at.  Or what happens to all the junk we buy and then get rid of because it is built so poorly that it breaks quickly....all to drive the economy, make a fast buck.  And, I have no problem with stimulating the economy, but I think we need to do it smarter, and look at the long range consequences of our actions.  I am not sure if all that came through in this little piece.  A big message for such a little piece.  All I know is that I had to make it.  In this I experienced a huge amount of success, regardless of it's failures with a larger audience.  I can't even call the most recent rejection a setback, because I plod onwards for the next piece that needs to be made.

Do I like rejection?  No.  Does it hurt my feelings?  Yes.  What to do?  Feel my feelings, then get over it, and "Climb on"!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blog Giveaway Winner

Blog Giveaway Winner

It is Friday and I finally get to announce that Jan E is the winner of my blog giveaway!  She will receive a free copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, vol. 2.  I used a random number generator, and her number came up.  Yeah Jan!

Don't forget to email me your address Jan!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Flower Box

Flower Box
I am so thrilled to announce that my block made it into Quiltmakers' 100 Blocks issue!  It will hit the newstands on Nov. 16.  This week they are having a blog tour of the designers in the magazine, and I am happy to be participating in that as well.  And to thank you for stopping by, I will host a small Giveaway!  Leave a comment on my blog by Friday, and I will randomly select a winner to get a free issue of the magazine! And, be sure and checkout Quiltmaker's website, they are having giveaways as well, and I have sent a small little gift for that as well!!

I used my fabric, Urban Landscapes, to create this fun applique block!  See below for several setting ideas.  I can't decide which one I like the best, on point, or just straight up.  I think the red border is my favorite though, what do you think?

Flower Box Block

Blocks on point, blue border

Blocks on point, red border

Blocks with a red and yellow border

Central Park

Central Park
56" x 53"
or How I Spent My Summer Vacation!

I am posting about my newest creation today!  Another 3D quilt, which is funny because after the last one, I didn't think I would make another one!  It was a labor of love though.  I felt really inspired to create this piece because of the feelings I get of being rejuvenated from hiking in a park.  Nature does it for me every time! Balance, grounded, happy.  And I get the same feelings when I stand in front of this piece.  I am immersed in greens and blues.  It is an evocative piece for me, which I am quite confident is not fully expressed through a tiny photo on a website.  I am still hoping to find a venue where it can be experienced in person and I can hopefully pass on the inspiration to you.
full view of Central Park

3D view of Central Park

wholecloth background fabric, shibori tied before dyeing
I must also admit some frustration with my posting.  I now have 3 computers at home, and none of the monitors show the color the same.  So, there is no way for me to have any idea of how your monitor is displaying the color.  And not dismissing the importance of design and construction, for me the biggest part is about the color.  So, I apologize if the greens look funky to you.  In real life these color are a rich blend of comfort and harmony.

And as you scroll down through the photos, you will get an idea of how the quilt was constructed.  I actually started this piece last spring and worked through the summer.  This was my entry for Quilt National, but it was sadly not selected.  I can tell you that just by having a deadline as a goal really helped me to complete this quilt.  The logistics were overwhelming from time to time, with over 5000 French knots to sew on 500 buildings to make and hand applique on.  The quilting of the background also took an unexpectedly long time, about a month.  It was hard to quilt around all those circles, lots of starts and stops, and threads to bury or clip.  In retrospect, I wish I had quilted it first before adding the circles for the trees. 
blue fabric from buildings made from commercial cottons batiked in stripes, bleach discharged and then overdyed turquoise, navy, periwinkle, and cobalt blue

machine piecing the buildings into their 3D shapes

piles of buildings, will there ever be enough???

stuffing the buildings with cubes of ethafoam
hand dyed silk organza which was cut into circles for the trees

Park layout before quilting and before embroidery of the gardens

selecting threads for the gardens

French knots in the gardens, there are over 5000 French knots.  Click on picture to see a closeup

Closeup of quilting lines by the baseball fields

Friday, November 05, 2010

New Tote for Quilt Festival

New Tote for Quilt Festival
I can't help myself!  I just loved this cover on Quilting Arts Magazine so much!! So much, that I ripped it off the magazine, layered it many times with Mod Podge, and then glued it to a foundation to make the front of this tote bag.  I was inspired by Beach Garden Quilts and what they do with Mod Podge and fabric to make floor mats.  It worked!  And the cover is my quilt, and it is a quilt about me and now it's me on my own tote!! lol! Too much?

And also, how wonderful my Urban Landscapes fabric look made up in this tote.  On the back side I used the 9 dot in a block pattern to make a spacious outer pocket.  I am also getting better with the zippers.  I put a small zippered pocket inside, and I have learned the magic of magnetic button thingies for a closure.  It is almost the size of a shopping tote, and I am hoping it will come in handy at the quilt show.

And, since I am getting some experience with tote bags now, it was kind of fun to change up the pattern a bit!  I love the shape and the double straps!!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Urban Landscape Doll

Urban Landscape Doll
Yesterday, I got this wonderful note from Nancy Roberts, who just happened to be the winner of my fabric giveaway on my blog.  She sent me photos of what she did with some of the fabric, and it is just wonderful!

Hi Kathy-...I won the fat quarters and fabric bag on your blog last August and told you I'd show you when I used some of the fabric in a project. Well I chose one of the fat quarters and made the dress for this donation doll to be given to children in Haitian orphanages and medical clinics. And  her twin brother has a shirt made from selvages. I've published them on my blog if you get a chance to take a look. The Urban Landscape fabric is perfect for her little dress! Many thanks. Best regards, Nancy Roberts

I think she is right.  The dress is super cute, and the selvages look wonderful too! You can visit her blog here.

Meanwhile, stay tuned, I have a lot of blog entries to post this next week.  First, I wanted to show off my new tote bag for the Houston Quilt Festival.  It is my first foray into mixed media and involves a certain magazine cover....
I also am planning to show my entry for Quilt National, that is sadly not going to the show.  This happens to all of us, more frequently than you might expect, but onward is the slogan around here.  And, I am also part of a blog tour for Quiltmaker's 100 blocks.  They have published my block using Urban Landscapes fabric and the magazine will be available November 17.  I will also have a giveaway on my blog for one of the magazines!  And it would not be entirely unreasonable to expect a post about the Houston International Quilt Festival, since I am headed there for the weekend and looking forward to the spectacular quilt viewing, shopping, and hanging out with friends!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quilt Market Report

Quilt Market Report
Well, I am back from Quilt Market in Houston.  I only got to stay for one day, but it was a fantastic day! I had lunch with Candice Hoffman, President of Clothworks.  I hung out at the Clothworks booth for a while, visiting with everyone and watching the sale reps do their thing.  It is an amazing process watching the sales reps juggle complicated schedules and still maintain their cool while showing the new lines.  I had assumed it would be harried and rushed, but instead they make it look so effortless and relaxed.  Kudos!

Lunch with Candice Hoffman
Hanging out with Joyce Cronkhite and Brandi Frey.
Across from the Clothworks booth, was Beach Garden Quilts.  I got to meet Lynette and Laura (see photo at the bottom of post).  They have made some really cool stuff with my fabric, Urban Landscapes, that I wanted to share with you.  Right behind my head is an adorable little bag (perfect for a child!).  Under my feet, a highchair mat.  Wish I had one of these when my kids were small!  So wonderful, and so useful!  And I personally love the fabric they chose!  They also made some cool dog leashes, makes me want a dog again!  lol! Check out their website, lots of neato patterns.
Beach Garden Quilts made this super adorable highchair playmate!  Recognize the fabric (Urban Landscapes)!

Beach Garden Quilts made up this cute quilt from Urban Landscapes.  Love it!

There were a few other booths that I liked.  Sorry I didn't get a picture to share, darn it!  Kinkame had the cutest display.  Yoko had cut up tiny shirt patterns from each fabric and hung them from a laundry line.  The effect was charming!

I probably should have spent more time at the other booths at Market, but to be honest, it was a little overwhelming!  And, the quilts were calling me.  I spent the entire afternoon looking at quilt exhibits.  It was so quiet I could hear the traffic on the highway behind the Brown Convention Center.  There were only a handful of us looking at quilts.  It was almost eery the way the security outnumbered the viewers!  Especially since I know how different it will look when the crowds descend upon the show in full force next week!  I enjoyed the quiet, but partly because I knew I will be back next weekend for festival!  To summarize, the quilts are spectacular!  It's a good show this year, many, many great exhibits.  I will try to blog about those next week.  If you get a chance to go, then go!  You will be amazed!

Here we are at the Clothworks cocktail party before I had to leave to go home.  Fabulous group! Fabulous times!
This group know how to party! Miryam, Brandi, Lynette, me, Laura, and Joyce.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Batik Flower

Batik Flower

This little flower is for a group quilt.  It is about 16" square.  I made it from a whole cloth, inspired by a photo of a flower.  More on the group quilt later when we get all the pieces assembled.  As for now, it was just an experiment that I had no idea if it would work or not.  It started as a dark pink fabric.  I batiked the stamens and then bleached.  Then I batiked the petals.  Next step, bleach again.  Last, I carefully dyed the area outside of the flowers green.  More wax to protect the green section; by now the entire piece is covered with a solid layer of wax.  Then I etched the little white scratch marks and bleached just that area.  And I etched the long marks between the outer petals and inner petals and dyed those fuschia.  Finally happy with it, I boiled out the wax.

Next was the quilting, which I am afraid that I got a little carried away with.  After completing the quilting, I added the satin stitch along the stamens.  I liked that a lot!  To finish?  Hand stitching with Laura Wasilowski's hand-dyed threads (here).  If you haven't used her thread before, you should try it.  I love the way it feels, and handles, and it's pretty too!  Lots of colorways to choose from!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Double Exposure for Building UP!

Double Exposure for Building UP!
Yeehaw!  I just got my Award Winning Quilts 2011 Calendar featuring quilts from the International Quilt Association.  My quilt, Building UP, is featured for the month of March.  Happy am I, as March is my birthday month!  Very nice!

And, on the same day my Fall IQA Journal arrived.  When I joined IQA years ago, I had always hoped to have a quilt in the journal. It is a nice and very validating feeling to see it now.  This issue is featuring small abstract art quilts and Building UP won 1st place in that category last year.  The colors of the print copy of my quilt are perfect, just perfect!  It looks good and has a nice interview about the quilt.  I  love it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Big tote

Big tote I haven't had much time to work lately, but this last week I played with the batik. I made this flower from a whole cloth. I actually made two, to try out different ideas, but you will have to wait until I quilt the second one before I post it. Meanwhile, I cut this one in half to use for both sides of the tote bag, for a friend in need. It was a special request, one that I was happy to make, especially if it makes her life easier! I love the way the whole cloth design of the flower goes with my fabrics. It was a bit surprising, and lovely!

Monday, October 11, 2010



I am thrilled to announce that my quilt, Building UP, will be at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, NY for Quilts=Art=Quilts!
The exhibit runs: October 31, 2010 - January 9, 2011.

It is my first time at this venue, and I am honored to be in the esteemed company of so many wonderful artists!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Batik Etching

Batik Etching
I have been meaning to blog about this for quite a while, but hadn't gotten to it yet. So, here it is. How I made Fifty, and Female, and Fearless. It started from a photograph, that I enlarged and simplified into a sketch. Then I taped it to a sliding glass door, and put my yellow fabric on top of the drawing, and sketched with a pencil the outline of the figure. The dark lines are shadows from a tree. That gave me some idea of how much surface area to cover with wax. Then downstairs in the batik studio (some people call it a garage), I put the yellow fabric on a discarded glass door, and began covering it with hot wax applied with a wide paint brush. The real trick is getting the wax to cover the fabric completely, but also in a very uniform layer (okay that part is IMPOSSIBLE), but it is the goal. If your brush strokes overlap, the wax is thicker there, and creates problems later. Then I placed the wax covered cloth on top of the drawing (which is made darker with a black sharpie marker), and painstakingly carve in ALL the lines. It is not too hard to do the straight lines, but carving the curves in wax is difficult. I have tried many different tools for the carving. It needs to be a sharp tool, but you have to be careful not to cut the fabric. Examples include: a screwdriver, a seam ripper, toothpick, bamboo skewer, clay carving tools, and dental tools. It will make your hand cramp, so it is essential to do small portions at a time and take lots of breaks. Then, when I finished the carving, I mixed up some soda ash in some black dye and water, and brushed it on, letting it soak into the cracks that I carved. After batching 8 to 24 hours, you can rinse in cold water to get rid of excess dye, and then boil out the wax. Then I usually wash in hot water with a cycle of Synthrapol, and another with Retayne. Next is the blue background which was made with batik also. I painted stripes of wax, then bleach discharged the fabric, and the overdyed the samples in different colors of blue. I made the central figure a reverse applique, which means I cut the background to fit around the figure. Next they are fused, cut to shape, and then ironed on. Last step is the quilting. I quilted everything except for the letters in the figure, and along all the lines in the background. This last part seemed a bit excessive, but there you are, the process of an art quilter, driven by the relentless muse. Here's a photo of the quilting. You can see the problem I referred to earlier where the white arrow is pointing. This is showing a place where the black etched line went through a thicker section of wax. When you carve the thicker wax, it cracks around your etched line. The dye seeps in and makes a wider, less defined line. For more on batik etching, you can see my first attempt here, and another quilt, here.