Friday, September 15, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 09/15

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Scraps from creating
Experiment in Equilaterals
are used to build a sample
block to test quilting motifs
and determine how a one
of the likely thread choices
will read on the fabric.
One of the most difficult aspects of creating new work, for me, is overcoming fear. How scary can making fiber art really be? It isn't like dealing with a debilitating illness, a natural disaster, or living in a war torn country. Still, it can feel paralyzing to take that next which may be pure genius, but could also be a complete, possibly irreparable disaster. It feels like choosing to dive off a cliff into a lagoon many feet below. What if I don't leap out far enough? What if the lagoon is too shallow or there are hidden rocks below? Is that momentary thrill of sailing through the air to the water below really worth it? The wise person will use due diligence. Have other people made the dive safely? How far is the actually distance? She will check out the lagoon first for hidden hazards. There comes a time when everything which can be checked has been checked, but fear remains. There are several choices. One is to chicken out and not go through with the dive even if it appears safe. Another is to have faith in yourself and make the plunge.

This week I have been standing on the edge of the cliff. I looked over to the lagoon below. I have taken measurements. I have checked for hazards hidden in the water. After days of circling, hemming and hawing, I have taken the plunge. I started quilting Experiment in Equilaterals

Here is what a week of peering over the cliff looks like:

1) Work on Experiment in Equilaterals - Done!

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4 - Not yet

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I took the scraps from cutting the triangles for Experiment in Equilaterals and created a mini block to test out some quilting motifs I had in mind. The first potting session was creating equilateral triangles from the half triangles left over and seaming them together. Next up was drawing multiple pages of potential free motion quilting possibilities. Then trying my favorites on the scrap block. I'm still not sure how to do the filler around the fiddlehead ferns, but I do like my artistic rendering of fiddleheads. I liked it enough to begin the process of quilting Experiment in Equilaterals.

I used Golden Threads Quilting Paper to
line up the best location for mushrooms
and fiddlehead ferns to be quilted.
Once these have been stitched, the paper will
be torn away, and I will fill in around them.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

Fortunately, pushing through my fear to start quilting Experiment in Equilaterals means I know precisely where I will begin working next week. I might do other things as well. Here is what is on the docket:



1) Work on Experiment in Equilaterals

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4

3) Pot(s) made this week


4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 09/08

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

I am fortunate to have a husband who photographs my work for this blog and my website. He tends to photograph my work with a horizontal orientation as opposed to a vertical orientation, since with our camera and light set up this gets the best even exposure. If the piece is to be displayed vertically all that is necessary is to rotate the photograph by 90 degrees. I had envisioned Experimenting with Equilaterals as having a portrait orientation, that is until I saw this morning's batch of photographs with the piece in landscape orientation. Wow! I like this so much better. Just to add to the thrills, my plans for how to quilt it is better suited to a landscape orientation. Don't you love it when everything comes together?

Experimenting with Equilaterals
Well almost everything. My hours in the studio were dramatically curtailed this week. Here is what I did manage:

1) Work on Experimenting with Equilaterals - Done!

I finished seaming and pressing the piece.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4 - Not Yet.

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done

Piecing equilateral triangles together isn't as straightforward as piecing half square triangles, squares and rectangles. I got lots of practice in. I even discovered that seamed equilateral triangles have direction and it is easy to inadvertently get the piecing going in the wrong direction. Sigh! 

4) Free motion quilting practice - Not this week.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what will happen when I overlay Experimenting with Equilaterals with the quilting motifs I've been exploring with pencil and paper. So, that will be one thing I will focus on next week. If there is more time I have my list ready.

1) Work on Experimenting with Equilaterals

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4

3) Pot(s) made this week


4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 09/02

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Last week I spoke about a trend I see with some artists to simplify their work over time and how I find myself on the same trajectory. The thoughts I share on my blog tend to be about what captured me when I sit down to write and once on the page they are done and I am on to next idea. So, it was quite a surprise to check out what I had written and realize the thought had lingered when I started working on my next project three days later.

Equilateral Experiment
The left two columns are pieced.
Everything else is laid out ready
to piece next week.
My entry point to the piece was hexagons. I have been enamored with hexagons since my junior high days. I recall doodling linked hexagons in the margin of my notebooks. At some point I thought they could be used to build a modular playground. Of course at age 13 that thought went no further. I believe two of the bathrooms we remodeled in our last home included small hexagon shots between larger square tiles with their corners nipped off. I've done some English Paper Piecing, and although I enjoy the process, it is rarely suited to my design. I admit, I love, LOVE, precision piecing. It is when I am in my element. Unfortunately, hexagons and precision piecing are at opposite ends of the comfortable piecing spectrum. If you break the hexagon into equilateral triangles you have an easy to do compromise. 

My current work in progress uses equilateral triangles exclusively. The color scheme is monochromatic. The lines and shape are clear and dramatic. An excellent first step at working towards a simpler aesthetic.


I'm really appreciating my efforts to simplify my art and my life. I feel like a cat dozing in a ray of sunshine, only cracking open an eye wide enough to note a marauding chipmunk scurry across the lawn. My goal is to continue this way by limiting my plans to the following: 

1) Work on Equilateral Experiment

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 08/25

Art collected by Edward Albee
to be sold by Sotheby's
I have been pondering simplicity and simple pleasure's this week. In one of those moments of serendipity the image of art in Edward Albee's New York City apartment was the lead  story in ArtDaily.org this morning. (If you want to see what is happening in the art world globally from exhibitions, auctions, archaeological digs through new museum appointments I highly recommend you subscribe.) The more I immerse myself in art and spend time deeply observing work that I connect with, the more I find myself leaning toward the power of simplicity. 

The trajectory of Picasso's work fascinates me. It is hard to believe that at age 15 he could paint such a sophisticated self portrait and by 68 he could command your attention with a few simple lines and only a few colors. 

Self portrait by Picasso at age 15

  
Picasso's Bouquet of Peace painted 53 years later at age 68
Back of Picking Up the Pieces #4
I enjoy the simple pleasure of searching through
my stash to choose something unexpected, yet
fitting to face the back or use for a sleeve.
Picasso isn't the only artist to evolve in this way. I have observed many other artists who moved from complex images to simple shapes and lines. As I ponder what to work on next, I realize, after 30 years of making art, I too am pondering ways to capture the suggestion of a shape and the flow of a line. 

This is where my mind drifted as I relished time spent, in the solitude of my studio, in a puddle of sunshine, stitching down the facing of Picking Up the Pieces #4.

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 07/28



My cat knitted knocker still needs a bit
more work to bring it to life. Must be why
Lola is more interested in playing with the
knitting needle.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques

The most common question I get asked when someone first learns I am an artist, whose medium is quilting, is "How long does it take you to make a quilt?" I've answered that in a previous post. Today, I would like to focus on a typical comment when the topic of my quilting comes up, it is "I've always wanted to make a quilt, but I don't have the time/patience to make one." Does this imply, since I have made several 100 quilts, that I have more time or patience than the person making the comment? Maybe. It certainly has me question whether I have more patience than others. I know I don't have more time. We are all gifted with the same 24 hours a day. The difference is how we choose to use that time. I believe I make the time for two reasons. The first is because I need a creative outlet and have discovered quilting is a natural, essential fit for me. The second is attitude. I am a firm believer in the Tao maxim, "A Journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step." I find if I focus on the first step, and each step to follow as it arrives, I don't get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task before me. 


Picking Up the Pieces #4
The quilting is officially done.
My attitude of taking one step at time has resulted in several milestones being reached this week as you can see:


1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4 - Done!

The first milestone was finishing quilting Picking Up the Pieces #4. 

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3 - Not yet, but...

Milestone number 2 is I finally started sewing the facing for Picking Up the Pieces #1.

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

Iris Fine Yarns, our local yarn shop in Appleton, Wisconsin, which has partnered with Knitted Knockers of the Fox Cities, is sponsoring a competition for art knockers. These knitted knockers will be put on display throughout the shop as a way to market the project. I'm intimidated by the very idea of making sculpture. I consider myself little more than a beginning knitter. However, I have made enough knitted knockers (pots) by now to have the pattern memorized and understand how the increases, decreases, and iCord come together to create a knocker. All those knockers made gave me the confidence to try my hand at an art knocker. Of course, the artist in me couldn't resist altering the pattern. By judiciously adding extra increase, decrease and iCord rows, I was able to create a neck, body and tail to form a cat knitted knocker. This is milestone number 3, my first self-altered knitting pattern and sculptural piece. 
Picking Up the Pieces #4 detail

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I completed my own thousand mile journey. As of this morning I have biked 1,004 miles in the 2017 National Bike Challenge

Although, I will be taking a two week blog vacation, the journeys won't stop. There will be more quilting, knitting and biking in the weeks to come. Here are a few of the journeys I plan on continuing:


1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 07/21



Tips, Thoughts, and Techniques:

Picking Up the Pieces #4
AFTER I started quilting the border.
Here the border draws the eye in and
allows the pieced portion to appear to float.
It's true, on an organizational spectrum with 0 representing total chaos and 10 standing for nothing ever being out of place, I probably fall between 8 and 9. When my children were teenagers they would have told you I was a 10. Not true. There are always a few things, sometimes more than a few things, strewn across my desk or tools, thread, and fabric scattered through out my studio. The reason items have yet to be returned to their proper location may be because I need them for a current project. However, they are just as likely to be left out, because I haven't found a good place for something new, or more likely I got distracted/excited by something else and then never returned to pick up after myself. 

Why is organization good, but rigidity is to be avoided? In my opinion organization, like working in a series, allows one to notice the nuances, and delightful serendipity that occurs naturally and capitalize on them. It is the unpredictable surprises which keep me hooked on making art. Mickey Lawler, in her interview with Clara Nartey said it so well. Mickey shared, "On my very best days of painting, I only have about 80% control over what happens.  And that’s really a lot. But it’s the 20% I live for."

Picking Up the Pieces #4
BEFORE I started quilting the border.
Here the border pulls the eye out.
My work in the studio, quilting the border for Picking Up the Pieces #4, felt very methodical, most of the time. However, since I control the quilting as I manually maneuver the quilt under the needle, achieving round circles with my pebbles or exact echoes, well they are close, but not nearly as close as using a machine which is preprogrammed. Until I had completed most of three borders, I hadn't realized, just how big an impact the thread and design I chose would radically change the appearance of the piece. Love that 20%!

This week was a continuation of the past few weeks - one primary focus as follows:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4 - Done!

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3 - Not yet

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

Detail from Picking Up the Pieces #4
Each pebble is approximately 3/16"
I really, really struggle making round pebbles as a filler motif when free motion quilting. This week I must have quilted 100's if not 1,000s of pebbles. There were some which looked perfectly round. Most don't. I am getting more comfortable in switching from clockwise to counter-clockwise and back, as needed. That's progress.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I plan to do more free motion quilting next week. I also want to finish up the hand sewing required complete quilts 99% done in my Picking Up the Pieces series. I'm eager to move on to the next idea currently in percolating mode. That will have to wait at least one more week, if I stay true to the following plan:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 07/14


Picking Up the Pieces #4
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

The more chaotic, demanding, and overfull my life feels, the more I crave, but eschew studio time. Then something snaps or perhaps clicks and I settle into my studio. Why, oh why, did I deprive myself of this experience when I need it the most? Not yesterday. Lola, my studio companion and I spent a delightful three hours enjoying monitoring the wildlife (mostly her) and finishing up the free motion quilting in the green sections of Picking up the Pieces 4 (me while she supervised). 

Here we are, me behind the camera and Lola stealing the limelight:



Hopefully, you will be able to watch this 15 second video. It shows off the free motion quilting texture better than any photograph. 

Here is what we, I mean I, turned my attention to this week:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4 - Done!

Everything but the border has been free motion quilted. Boy were there a lot of threads to bury. Thank goodness for self threading needles. :)

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3 - Not yet!

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!


Detail from Picking Up the Pieces #4
If burying thread tails count.I must have buried close to 100 thread tails this week. Perhaps the next great add on to a sewing machine will be automatic thread tail burying. 

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

When I first started quilting and had school aged children, my personal mantra was "quilting first, the rest will follow". I've been reflecting back on that mantra more and more. I plan to put it back in practice next week. When I do, here is what I will focus on.

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.