Sunday, August 13, 2017

Downeast Stitch Book...

We just returned from a refreshing visit to the state of Maine. It was a welcome respite from hot and humid Florida. It's referred to as "downeast", and in fact, that's the name of a magazine that celebrates Maine's history and culture. Early sailors navigating from Boston to Portland were sailing downwind and to the East-hence the term. While we were away, a brand new online class called "Stitch Bookery" taught by Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch from LA began. I watched some of the Week One videos and gathered photos and brochures I could use to make my first class project- this sewn, meander-style accordion book with a nautical Maine theme.

I've enrolled in other classes on Mary Ann's site and have enjoyed all of them. It's fun and relaxing (not to mention messy) to sift through paper and combine images to convey a story, or just to create a pleasing collage.

And using the sewing machine on paper scraps is indescribably soothing. The number tag 862? That is a piece of street litter. I walked by it every day on our way to the beach, and it caught my eye every time. Finally I said to myself, "If that's still there on my last beach walk, it's going in my journal." I was kind of half hoping it would not be there because I love using "found objects" in my projects, but road trash? Not so sure about that. But, there it was on the last day, so here it is in my book!

I used a canvas paper base for the book, and found it easier to bend and get under the needle for sewing than stiffer watercolor paper would be. The photo is of beautiful Perkins Cove, Maine, a pretty small port on the Atlantic.

Because of the way the book is folded, some of the pages needed to be stitched as panels before securing them into the book. That way the stitching of the page behind it is covered up.

Lobster is a recurring theme in the Downeast book, too. We had a few, and they do taste so sweet right there at the source. I did read that studies show that lobsters are migrating to colder waters of northern Maine.

This is the back cover, and features a lobster image seen through the clear window of an envelope. This is a four week class, so lots more ideas are in store. I'll be stitching and whistling my way through more stitched books.

Another class project is a small accordion book. I made an abbreviated version of stitched together panels on watercolor paper (gelli printed) layered with dyed cheesecloth and sentiments of healing for a friend undergoing surgery.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How About a Field Trip? Let's Go Where the Art Is...

If you live within driving distance of Dunedin, Florida, there is still time to see this wonderful Quilts & Textiles exhibit at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center. It's on until the 18th of August. If not, then enjoy an armchair visit with me. Happily the Center allows photos of the works exhibited. This piece is titled "Maria Rosa" and was made by artist Karol Kusmaul.

The DFAC entrance is inviting with a decorative tile wall and this appealing teapot outdoor sculpture.

But it's what is inside that will make your heart beat a little faster! Several themed exhibits of wonderful quilts and fiber art. "Shirt Tales: Portraits by Karol Kusmaul" is a solo exhibit of many quilts Karol has crafted using re-purposed thrift shop clothing. This one is titled "Elizabeth's Wishes".

In the "New Quits from an Old Favorite: New York Beauty" from The National Quilt Museum, this is "Gotta Dance" by Cathy Geier. There were so many fantastic interpretations of the curved and intricately pieced New York Beauty block.

Included was "Exotic Enchantment" by Jean Brueggenjohann. 

 Karol's quilts were a highlight for me because I loved the expressive characters and the source of her varied fabrics. "Song" is shown at top. All that wonderful shading is done with snips and bits of fabrics. This bottom photo is "Grandma Magic". Did you have a Grandma who mixed batter by hand and had chickens? I did, so this was a fond memory.

"SAQA Florida: Growth" was another exhibit. SAQA is Studio Art Quilt Associated. This piece is titled "Urban Maul" and is by Annette Boncek. Looking down from the top, you can see the inside is filled with park-like imagery in contrast to the buildings.

And one more by Karol- this is titled "Motherboard" and it has a background fabric that resembles circuitry. I am impressed by how prolific Karol is. There were many more of her portrait quilts on display, and that's not all she makes. Do visit her website to see more of her work. The quilt is also known as "Emerald". So many techniques and materials were a part of the quilts on display that it is endlessly fascinating to study them.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Is it a Quilt? Is it Quirky? Yes to Both!

This quilt creation (yes, it is a quilt- three layers with quilting to secure it) doesn't have a name yet. That's because I'm still speechless over it. Maybe that should be its name? Speechless. It began as a class project taught by Dianne Hire at the American Quilters Society show in March. When I walked into Dianne's classroom and saw all of her class samples, I thought, "Oh, this is going to be great fun!" And it certainly was.

Dianne may be the Queen of Quilt Enhancement given her creative addtions of curvies, tabs, dangly things. All of them are stitched and inserted into the seams of a pieced base. And then comes the embellishment of the enhancements! There are two felted beads made in a mini-class in my Fiber Art Bee group, along with other beads and bits I've collected along the way.

There are two more little geckos like this one hiding in the layers of the quilt. Can you spot them all?

Even the smallest scraps and figurative motifs can find a home in this style of quilt. Add some black and white prints for accent, and the whole piece invites you to lift, inspect, and examine it. I know I'll make at least one more of these projects! Oh, and by the way, the display rod is a simple dowel cut to size, painted with black craft paint, and dotted with white Posca Paint pen. Two wooden beads glued to the ends, and I've got a lightweight hanger that coordinates. Below are some of Dianne's class samples and the inspiration for elements to add to the project.

You can hardly count the layers and elements in this quilt. Dianne also uses stacked beads and buttons along with broken jewelry like those banana-shaped yellow beads on the dangling flower.

Prairie points, large and small, and tabs upon tabs- so much to look at in Dianne's quilts!

Also, the Queen of Curvy Piecing, you can see (almost) how the base piece has irregular shapes pieced together before the dangling bits are added. Even those have curved seams. Dianne's book is show below.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Home Sweet Home ...

This quilt is an ages-old project I began and allowed to "vacation" in the quilt closet with other unfinished projects. It's a pattern from Pat Sloan's book Berry Hill Quilts. I love her folk-art style and find house quilts appealing in general. And what can I say about the pomegranates? So graceful and pleasing. The quilt is machine appliqued using the buttonhole stitch to secure the edges of the pieces. AND I was determined to machine quilt this one myself. That's where I got bogged down.

As you can see, there are many elements and lots of colors used in the design. That meant a lot of thread changes and design motif changes throughout the quilting. Progress slowed to a crawl. But finally Pat Sloan came to our guild for a lecture and to teach a class. I showed her the progress on the quilt, but also noted that I was dissatisfied with my machine quilting and wondered if I'd ever finish. She encouraged me to keep on going, commenting that often we are harder on our work than others might be. So on I went, stitching away doggedly, heading for the finish line.

Then I discovered the Invisi-fil thread (also used here) that is lightweight and that blends so well with many colors. That was just the ticket. I was able to finish the quilt at last! I can't call it my best effort ever, but the quilt makes me happy and it hangs in our dining area. And I've convinced myself that there is a size limit to quilts I plan to quilt on my home machine!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's Paper Week...

It's become necessary to declare "paper week", or "quilt week", or "mixed media week" in the sewing room. That's because every interest requires its own set of supplies and it would not be good to have paints out when I'm quilting (unless, of course, it's an art quilt in process!). To say nothing of the myriad bits and pieces of paper, fabric, and trims that threaten to overtake the space nearly every day. I signed up for Toni Burt's online class called Wrapped in Vintage. The project I chose to work on is a mix of paper, sketch, stencils, and paint on a fabric journal cover. So the paper scraps flew as I put together this collage cover with a pretty girl on it.

This is the back cover. One nice feature of Toni's method is that she seals the covers with Dorland Wax Medium which gives the piece a lovely leather-like finish. You almost can't stop picking the journal up just for the feel. She provides thorough instructions in her class videos.

Remember this pair of fabric journals made in a fold-up pocket style and designed to hold (and tame) loose pages and bits not to be bound into a book? I showed them here earlier this year. The Fiber group invited me to do a demo on how to made them. Later, a few of the members brought their pocket memory journals to a show-and-tell.

Merri McKenzie, one of the members, made her lively version shown here. I love her colors and the use of rick rack.

This is the reverse side. Lots of pockets to serve as a repository for more art work. Her imaginative and colorful approach made for a fun journal.

Here's the cover when the journal is all folded closed. I love her style.

And for yet another pocket, I found a free tutorial on Roben-Marie Smith's blog for making this paper mixed-media art pocket. It began as a brown paper bag that got painted,stamped, stitched, glued, and layered. I decided to use it as a gift holder for a friend's birthday. I'm also taking another of Roben-Marie's online classes for making a pop-up fringe journal that starts with a file folder. Next week, it's back to "quilt week" as I have some challenge quilt projects to get underway. My sewing/craft room is most definitely my happy place!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This Quilt Was Fun...

What do you do with accumulated fabric scraps? I cut them into strips and then found Bonnie Hunter's easy tutorial for making Scrappy Trips quilts. After sorting the strips, I kept them in the sewing room and stitched them up in between other projects. Soon there was a nice pile of the blocks, but still no plan for putting them together. But then I pulled this panel from my fabric stash- it's Madonna Lily by Frond Design Studios. The colors in the blocks and in the panel seemed made for each other, and this joyful quilt titled "Our Lady" just invented itself. It took some engineering and there are some missteps in its construction, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. We even have the right wall to hang it on.

The imagery is just beautiful, as you can see in this close-up photo. Frond Design Studios has some very unique fabric and panels available in quilt shops. I found this one while visiting Quilter's Store Sedona a few years ago, and it's been waiting for its turn in a project ever since. The longarm machine quilting was completed by Debra Johnston. Her challenge was to decide how to quilt the center panel and blend in the quilting for the pieced blocks. She used gold thread and swirling designs in the block, contrasted with more straight-line quilting for the image. She did well I think!

This year, while visiting Sedona, I found this four-block "Inner Faith" panel by Robert Kaufman Fabrics at the shop. I'm not sure how I'll use this one, but am thinking the red block may become the label on the back of "Our Lady". So many quilt ideas, so little time! The ideas flow way faster than the execution of them. But we'll see where these wind up.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gone to the Dogs...

Here's the end result of my projects made from quilter Pauline Salzman's pattern and instructions. She taught a class at our guild which I unfortunately missed due to illness. But she was kind enough to provide the materials for me to give it a try on my own. Pauline is known for her whimsical pet quilts, and bases many designs on her Weimaraner dogs. Our rescue dog Scooter resembles the breed in head shape, so my project became a portrait of him. The link above is for some Pinterest images of Pauline's quilts. With the pattern, she also sent one of her wonderful postcards, shown below.

 The post card is shaded with some fabric markers. Mighty cute!

 For this project, I decided to do some free-motion machine quilting. I'd discovered InvisaFil thread at a quilt show, and was interested in trying it. The thread is very fine and blendable. Rather like monofilament, but not stiff and pokey like the nylon can be. It's described as "cottonized polysester". It's so fine, that it did require some special handling to use it successfully in my machine. So I placed the thread spool in a cup behind the machine as it wanted to spill off the spool pin on the machine. Then to achieve the proper tension, I rigged up the pink straw section you see on top on the machine above. It's taped in place and the thread runs through it just to give it a bit more tension and guidance than the regular thread guides offered. Once that was done, I was ready to proceed. You can barely see the thread coming through the straw- that' how fine it is.

So I stitch-doodled and stippled my way around the dog image. And I really like how the thread looks. It made my free-motion quilting look "not half-bad", as the saying goes.

I've been away from my blog for some time as we've also been away from home. We traveled to Phoenix, Sedona, Prescott, and Wickenburg, Arizona. A lovely trip with wonderful sights. In Scottsdale arts district I happened onto this cactus sculpture covered with found objects.

And we stayed for a couple of nights in the beautiful red rock area of Sedona. These photos were taken from the balcony just outside our hotel room door. Because the sun hits the rocks at different angles throughout the day, the rocks are constantly changing. These shots were late afternoon. Such a beautiful area.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oh, the Things You See...

I feel a bit like a "Grandma Moses" of art journaling. Many years ago I enjoyed doing a lot of different crafts, but finally told myself "Pick one!" because there just was so little time or space for multiple hobbies while teaching and raising our family. So I chose quilting at the time. However, in retirement, I have more leisure time and have discovered an interest in mixed media art journaling. I never tried it before, but have really enjoyed exploring the supplies and techniques. It helps that I enroll in online classes in order to learn what to do and how to do it. My most recent class is a 16-week one called One BADASS Art Journal 2017. Each week a new artist guides us through a lesson. Tiare Smith is the organizer of the class and she taught the dream girl above which includes the use of a floral napkin in the composition. So I'll share a little peak into my art journal here.

The second week was about using black backgrounds and adding texture with modeling paste. Fun!

And then we learned to make our own art papers, create compositions with them, and add doodles for interest. There's lots more to come as we are not even half way through the course.

We've traveled about some lately, too, so I have not been blogging as much. But I'm always taken by the scenes and things you see when traveling. This lovely entry is part of a large Thoroughbred horse farm in our area. We're always happy to drive by at night when it's lit so beautifully. Very inviting, don't you think?

And we met some friends in Dunedin, FL, near Tampa recently. The community has some nice art installations around town. I just love the colors and graceful lines of this one.

These dolphins are also displayed around town and are done by different artists in different styles.

One night we were driving at sunset and saw this magnificent anvil cloud. Just amazing.

I always notice cars and love vintage ones. But I'd never seen anything quite like this one. It's so customized that I can't figure out what it started out life as. Those gray areas are a brushed finish and it drew a lot of attention there in the parking lot. You just never know what surprises are in store when you are out and about! Phone cameras are just the best for recording those special sights.