Friday, December 8, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 12/08


Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:
Sunrise Abstraction 2017

It is important to work in a series. Is it? Really? If so, what constitutes a series? This maxim, stated as unequivocal fact by many has haunted me for years. For someone who is rule driven by inclination, my art is one of the few places where I do what I want and not what I think I should be doing. 

There are very brief times when I work in a series. I am much more likely to flit from idea to idea or technique to technique, to whatever feels compelling at the moment. I do return to certain themes and techniques. Rather than a clear linear trajectory of work, I would say my work, if graphed would look more like a spider web, with connecting spokes and ever expanding categories of work. 

This week's obsession is Sunrise Abstraction 2017. I have made half a dozen other works featuring sunrises over the past few years. The construction methods, palette, and techniques used are varied. This one features a palette I have nicknamed HoJo's. For those of you reading who are younger than me and/or leave outside the US, HoJo's is shorthand for a chain of restaurants called Howard Johnson's. They were easily recognizable by their orange roofs with turquoise spires . 
The moon block from
Sunrise Abstraction 2017

Next week's obsession is likely to remain Sunrise Abstraction 2017. If I get a hankering to do something else, I have a few other studio projects to turn my attention to:

1) Finish piecing Sunrise Abstraction 2017

2) Finish WIPs (Works in Progress)

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, December 1, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 12/01


Sunrise Abstraction 2017
My latest obsession 
Tips, Thoughts, and Techniques:

I am driven to take full advantage of the studio days I carve out for myself each week. Why now? Could it be the waning of the daylight hours? Perhaps the crazy world we are living in? The fact that I am in a period of multiple life transitions? Or could it be simply that it is December? Why December? There is something about the impending holidays, which inspires me to be creative. This resulted in my knitting my grandfather a six foot long scarf when I was in my early teens. As a young mother I felt compelled to make dozens and dozens of cookies to give to family, friends and neighbors. So is it really any surprise that I would think a time when I should be focusing on anything else, but creating a new quilt, I opt to hunker down in the peace of my studio, cutting up fabric and sewing it back together. 

Yes, despite having a growing pile of nearly finished quilts, I have started a new one, as you can see by what I have or haven't accomplished this week:
One of the nine blocks I made this week.
I have been trying my hand at various
surface design techniques for many years.
Every fabric in this quilt has been dyed,
painted, and/or printed by me.

1) Finishing Forest Flora - Not done 

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4 - Still sitting in a pile by my handwork seat

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done

I completed 9 blocks, over 3 studio days, which involved cutting and sewing 468 pieces. It is a great way to refining cutting and piecing.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Too busy piecing. :)

I feel just as driven at the end of the week as I did at the beginning of the week to piece Sunrise Abstraction 2017 piece. I very much doubt I will do the following:

1) Finishing Forest Flora

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, November 17, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 11/17

Proof dye doesn't go bad after six months when stored
in the refrigerator. The dye used was mixed in January 2016. 
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

This was one of those weeks when I felt like a mother of young toddlers, again. In other words, their plans subverted my own. This is more a feeling than reality. The time I hoped to spend in the studio was more appropriately spent on other work. So be it. 

I did manage to do something I've been try to get to for months, make that over a year. In 2016 I committed to focusing on surface design techniques by turning a full bolt of PFD (prepared for dying fabric) Kona cotton into dyed, painted, and stamped fabric. I transformed all but the last yard and a half. On Monday I decided I had procrastinated long enough. I had the fabric, I had the dye stored in my refrigerator, it was time to combine the two. 

I was concerned about what would happen. I had read that dye is only stable for six months in the refrigerator. This dye was well past that. Apparently the six month "sell by date" isn't hard and fast. I was very pleased with the blues I was able to achieve. They will make gorgeous dusk or dawn skies.

I even did a bit more than dying, as you can see:

1) Finishing Forest Flora - working on it

I managed to finish attaching the binding. I still need to make and attach the hanging sleeve.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3, #4 - working on it

I made the sleeves, they are pinned in place, and I have started attaching them.

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

For years I have referred to a pattern I have on how to make hanging sleeves. I have made 100 sleeves or more, definitely more if you count my split sleeves as two. This week I didn't even bother to pull out the pattern. I've made so many, I know all the adaptations I like to make to achieve a sturdy sleeve, which won't show from the front, can handle numerous rods being shoved in and pulled out, and even looks professional.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Not this week. 

Next week is a short week here in the US, since we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. When I return to the studio after Thanksgiving I will focus on:

1) Finishing Forest Flora

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, November 10, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 11/10



Forest Flora
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Why is it that some of the most obvious, simple things elude me? When the light dawns, I feel shocked I had never thought of them before. So it was this week, when I was attaching my binding to Forest Flora. I must have bound well over 100 quilts by now. I know the trick to get perfect mitered corners and how to join the beginning tail with the ending tail, so you can't tell which seam is the join. I have been making my own continuous bias binding for years. So why, in my quest for the perfect binding method did it never occur to me to iron the bias binding towards the outside from the top of the quilt, the way you iron a facing strip before bringing it around to the back? I don't recall ever seeing this as a tip. It is going to be added to my lexicon of binding musts. It resulted in a wonderfully smooth, tight binding on the front side and allowed for a very even turn to the backside. Yes, this old dog can figure out and teach herself a new trick.

Forest Flora - the backside
Backs are a great way to use one's stash.
It is the delightful surprise of ah ha moments, which has me returning to the studio to create. They may not happen every week. They can't be predicted. Fortunately, they do happen frequently enough to lure me to my studio. 

This week I focused predominately on Forest Flora, but I also spent time on a few of the finishing tasks required for earlier works in progress as you can see:

1) Work on Forest Flora - Done!

I finished quilting Forest Flora. Then it was time to do those final necessary tasks to have it website and exhibition ready. Step 1, was squaring it. Step 2, was making and attaching the bias binding. All that is left are the hanging sleeve and label.

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

I prepared sleeves for anything missing a sleeve. The sleeves are pinned to the artwork ready to be hand stitched into place.

Detail of the stitching on Forest Flora
3) Pot(s) made this week - Worked on

Each time I make and attach a bias binding, I refine my skill and this week I even managed to learn something knew. Proof positive of why making pots (doing something over and over again) is vital.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

There was very little free motion quilting left to do on Forest Flora, but what there was, I did.

I am in need of feeling accomplished. Finishing WIPs (works in progress) is a great way to achieve this. So, next week I will focus on:

1) Finishing Forest Flora

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, November 3, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 11/03

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

A recent sample of the knitted knockers made
by our volunteers.
I finished my last post by saying I would be taking a week off. Not even close. That week turned into a month. What whirlwind of a month it was. 

Forest Flora


October is breast cancer awareness month. As co-founder of Knitted Knockers of the Fox Cities, being present to promote and participate in what was happening locally took precedence. I spent Thursdays knitting with other volunteers at the Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology Center in Appleton, WI. Many people dropped by to ask what we were doing, share their stories, and ask how they could help. We loved hearing stories of what a difference getting their first pair of knockers has meant to the women who received them. We had an information table at Making Strides against Breast Cancer. The primary purpose of the walk is fund raising for breast cancer research. The secondary purpose and why we were there is to let those who are being treated for or are survivors of breast cancer, know what services are there for them. Over 2,000 people joined the walk. We were featured in two local magazines, as well. The result is we have added more cancer treatment centers and oncologists to our list of knocker providers in the Fox Cities. 

Detail shot of Forest Flora

When I wasn't busy promoting Knitted Knockers, I turned my attention to Habit for Humanity. I donated 40 of my quilts from one of my first to one made just last year. The staff was welcoming and appreciative of my gift. I received a tour of the facility and an education on the process a family must go through before they can qualify for the program and hopefully, be selected as one of the next home owners. Our local Habit helped 16 families become homeowners in 2017, and I believe they have a similar number selected for 2018. I had the pleasure of attending two of the home dedications and presenting one of my quilts to each of the families. What a privilege to be part of such a special moment in the new homeowners's lives!

Detail showing off the quilting, best
seen from the back side of Forest Flora
It is November and things have settled down a bit. It felt, so, so good to spend time in my studio again working on Forest Flora. Free motion quilting is the perfect antidote for busy times. Hopefully, next week I can get back to moving multiple projects forward in the studio. This is the plan:

1) Work on Forest Flora

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 29, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 09/29



Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Forest Flora
One of my favorite Yogi Berra quotes is, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." Although I write about the practice of my work, the reality is I have tendency to whitewash it, and what is shared comes closer to theory than practice. I can procrastinate with the best of the procrastinators, finding all sorts of more appealing things to do than facing up to a task that needs doing. One such task that has weighed me down for years is what to do with the mountain of artwork I have accumulated from more than 30 years of creating fiber art.

I know I am not alone struggling with the dilemma of too much work and too few people to pass it on to. Some people put their work on E-Bay or Etsy. Others have reached heights in their careers (not me) where museums might be willing to accept a few a pieces, especially if those pieces fill a gap in their collection. I have heard of quilt artists who pass their less satisfactory work onto animal shelters for bedding. There is always Goodwill or similar style charitable organizations. Nothing felt like the right fit for me. So, I procrastinated, and watched what others did, and procrastinated some more. 

Detail of fiddlehead fern and mushrooms
I am pleased to announce, I have found an organization, possibly two, willing to take any work I am willing to give them. The first is Habitat for Humanity. If you are from the US you know what this organization does. I've been tempted over the years to help them build houses, but have little interest in doing the basic carpentry required of their volunteers. However, I can brighten their new homes, and office with my work. They agreed. I am hoping Harbor House will be just as happy to receive my work. They are a safe haven for women and children of domestic abuse in the city where I live. 

Now that I have a solution for what to do with my work, I can create more, knowing I can always find a home for it. This is why I went to the studio and worked on the following with a glad step:

1) Work on Experiment in Equilaterals: - Done!

I am working on renaming this piece, perhaps it will be Forest Flora. I've had lots of fun free motion quilting mushrooms, imaginary ferns, and am in the process of filling in the voids with fallen leaves. 

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

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

I'm getting a feeling for how to intertwine fallen leaves and fill in those pesky gaps.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I will be away from the studio next week. When I return I plan on attending to the following:


1) Work on Forest Flora

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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 09/22


Experiment in Equilaterals is the current
project under my needle.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Hillary Clinton has been on a recent publicity tour promoting her book, What Happened. No surprise, a common interview question is, "Did you see the loss coming?" This is quickly followed up by, "How have you coped?" The answer to the first question is an emphatic, NO! What has surprised me is what Clinton turned to as coping strategies. She took lots of walks with her dog, cleaned her closets, and did alternate nostril breathing. 

My tip is to follow Clinton's lead. I admit, they are my coping strategies, too. I don't have dogs, but I do begin my day with exercise. The current regime is biking in the National Bike Challenge. I have logged over 1,600 miles this season. I have been doing a substantial purge of items around the house and in the studio, which no longer suit me, or I haven't used in 7 or more years. Then there is alternate nostril breathing. It is different from a cleansing breath. The point is to quiet the mind and restore balance. It is very easy to do. Here is a link, which covers why engage in alternate nostril breathing and how to do it. 

You don't need to loose a very public election to feel stress. Creating art, for all the joy it brings, can be stressful. It can also be stressful to find the right balance between creating art and attending to the rest of a full, busy life. Yes, my life has been both full and busy this week. Still, I found the time to:

1) Work on Experiment in Equilaterals - Done!
Close up of the quilting progress on
Experiment in Equilaterals.

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

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

If tossing possessions and creations out of the house can count, I have been making pots. Each choice to remove something, is a decision. The more decisions I make, hopefully, the easier it comes to make these decisions. Just as the more pots made, the more instinctual one becomes at making them.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I did lots, and lots, of free motion quilting on Experiment in Equilaterals

Next week will likely be more of the same, which is why my plan for the week rarely varies as you can see:

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.