Be*Mused is Back

Jan over at Bemused Blog is posting about quilt blocks again. She has been working on selling her house and, thus, has been distracted. I am glad to see her post the basket blocks.

Be*Mused really has a way with color. I love what she did with the baskets. I tried to analyze what appealed to me about these blocks. I think the thing is the neutrals she added to the blocks: the various greens and the gray-green. I also think the colors, even the gray-green, are pretty clear.

I am especially enamoured of that dotty red. I wonder if I have it? St. JCN?

Thr3fold Journal Articles Review Part 2

The Associated Press is reporting that the restoration of the frescoes in the Pope’s apartments (called Stanze of Raphael), done by Raphael, are almost complete after 30 years of work. Hooray!

I have spent a remarkable amount of time writing notes for Thr3fold reviews during the past couple of days. As a result, you do get a part 2.* Amazing!

Challenges: thr3 and 3/4, p.6-11

This article is lavishly/lushly illustrated. The first picture is a quilt of 3 trees. The photo is so clear that the detail of the quilting is clearly visible. The article is about challenges that “stretch us…stretch to rise to the creative challenge. We challenge each other to think in new ways, we challenge each other to go beyond our personal comfort levels, we challenge each other to experiment with a new art material or a new technique.” p.6.

Catherine writes the main text, but each artist puts in her 2 cents in adjunct kind of journal entries interspersed throughout the main text. In the course of the article, the artists talk about different types of challenges: particular techniques, limited colors and/or fabrics. Catherine uses a particular challenge with the theme of ‘home’ to illustrate challenges in general. She incorporates LLC’s philosophy of challenges as well. One interesting part of the article discusses historical challenges between famous artists. Picasso and Matisse as well as Hemingway and Fitzgerald provided creative stimulus and support to each other. “The benefits of challenging a ‘like-minded’ friend brings out the best in each of you, you become both a sounding board and a ‘net’ for each other, a safe place to land.”

LLC, through this article, are challenging me (us) “to think about challenges and what can be gained in stretching a little further than you are comfortable.” pg.11 I have done round robin challenges, Carousel and Starry, Starry Night, in the past and I have been fortunate to be in good groups. St.JCN and I collaborate quite frequently. She Had to Have her Latte is one of the first, but Ocean Avenue, Get the Red Out and the Punk Rock Quilt are all examples.

Leaving my challenges with St. JCN aside for a moment, the other challenges I have done have been great, but they have not been the day to day support group that Catherine describes. I don’t think that you can have a growth experience through a challenge without working with people you know very well and who know you. In reading the article, it made me think wistfully about an art quilt group that would provide a supportive environment. Obviously, such a group would take time to develop since relationships don’t just happen. No time for that now and I am quite happy working alone in my workroom for the time being.

“How Can You Resist” pg.11-12

This article talks about watercolor. I almost skipped it, because I am not interested in watercolor, but I ended up reading it and came away with some interesting information and thoughts (interesting to me anyway). The article seems to start to go in a direction of talking about a variety of media, including oil pastels, but the watercolors really take center stage and the discussion of watercolors was the text that drew me in.

Linda spends some time going over materials: paper, paint and brushes. The bottom line: you get what you pay for. You know that if you buy cheap materials, there is a higher probability you will fail. However, if you buy expensive materials, succeed and don’t enjoy the experiment, you will be stuck with a lot of expensive stuff that will clutter up your workroom (see Melody Johnson’s blog about moving two states away). Solution? Find a friend (or iSoldIt or eBay or Freecycle) with whom you can trade or give those materials.

I liked the description of what watercolor paper is and what all of the cryptic descriptions mean. However, I just want to sew and work with fabric, but this article makes me think about how other media can integrate with/help with my quiltmaking.

I had some particular thoughts about watercolor:

  • Would it work?
  • Would it be inspirational only or would I do sketch-paintings an try to replicate them?
  • How would it work?

In a strange twist of my brain, this article brought up the failings in my workspace. I have a large room that is still suffering the effects of the remodel (I am going to work on this today, maybe), but the actual space in which I work is quite small and usually, embarrassingly, messy.
I also use the floor, when I am laying things out, and the ironing board. It is a flat surface, after all. This article, however, makes me think that it would be lovely to have a long desk/table in my workroom, where I could set up paints, pastels, oil pastels, and sketchbooks, collages and just pop in to work on one or the other for a few minutes, let it dry while continuing to be able to to eat dinner at the dining room table and walk across the floor of the garage. More space for creativity.

In the journal, Linda has posted a fabulous picture of a watercolor paintbox. I love the texture on pages (from background photos) is another asset to this journal. The non-completely white pages really appeal to me and make the journal much more interesting to look at. The background draws you in and made me look at the details more closely.

The article is finished with a video on the CD.

* Of course, creating a part 2 in no way implies that there will be a part 3. 😉

Thr3fold Journal Articles Review Part 1

Note that I put ‘part 1’ at the top. This is not intended to imply that there will be a part 2, but I will endeavor to review the entire journal. 😉

Thr3fold Journal is a multimedia journal written by Linda and Laura Kemshall and their friend/colleague Catherine Nicholls (hereafter LLC). It is 53 pages long and comes with a CD. The front cover is interesting (and a bit of a pain, but I hope they don’t change it), because it opens like a double door from the middle rather than the way regular magazines open from the right. It is also small – just 8.5″ x 8.5″ (21.5cm x 21.5cm). It is a good size to tuck into your handbag. The journal is packed with color and pictures and details. In fact, the introductory section, called Why?, shows a fantastic detail shot of machine quilting.

For the moment, I wanted to write about the article called “Inspired by Landscape”

“Inspired by Landscape” is all about inspiration that can be found in daily life. This is right up my alley, because I live in a city and don’t get these gorgeous landscapes that you see on Deirdre’s blog, on a daily basis. I do see interesting things that can be used for inspiration, which is the point that I took away from the article. LLC write “… the view we see every day on our way to work, the scene from the kitchen window as we do the dishes, any vista we see on a regular basis”- p.3. I like this, because it is makes quiltmaking accessible. You don’t have to live in Hawaii and see unbelievably gorgeous scenes every day (though, wouldn’t that be nice!?!) in order to be inspired. The smallest things can be the basis of a quilt or a scribble in your sketchbook or a machine quilting design. The point is to look around you and SEE.

The girls say “You can take a look in the early morning, pop outside with your sketchbook on a warm summer’s evening or make a few quick notes from the bus as you travel through town” -p.4, which they follow with “All landscapes change, the view from the kitchen window will be different from day to day and month to month. A cityscape will change with the seasons in a different way than a countryside landscape”-p.4. If you travel the city along the same paths and street every day, there is still an opportunity for inspiration. Look at the patterns cast by shadows. Notice the change in paint colors of the houses. Even the cracks in the sidewalk can become ideas for quilting designs. This is the wonderful thing about using what scenes you have: they are easily accessible and never the same.

“If you move house or when you travel, you will surround yourself with new scenes” -p.5. LLC do not discount vacation inspiration. Have you gone on vacation and taken 500 photos (aren’t digital cameras wonderful?!?!?). One reason is that everything looks new and different, but the other reason is that you are drinking in a new landscape and, by default, new inspiration.

Finally, the writing style is upbeat, not relentlessly positive, but upbeat. I felt good after reading the articles. Not good in a way that makes me want to go out and buy a bunch of new materials in order to do exactly what LLC are doing, but good in a confident way; good in a way that makes sitting down with a sketchbook tantalizing. Thr3fold journal is expensive and a bit of a pain to get hold of, but I am finding this issue wonderful.

Thanks for reading!

San Mateo County Fair 2007

We spent the day at the San Mateo County Fair yesterday. The Fair, in general, seems to get smaller and smaller every year, but they still had a great selection of quilts and other needlearts. I wish more people would take the time to enter one thing.

I attend county fairs for many reasons. I really enjoy it being a coming together of things that people in the county make/participate in. We spent quite a bit of time looking at the bee hive and talking to a beekeeper. The cut flowers and plants were also amazing. My two favorite things are the quilts and frozen bananas. I thought the frozen bananas had gone the way of the dinosaurs after I checked every food vendor and none had them. I finally found them hidden in the ‘international’ area. I never knew milkshakes and frozen bananas were considered foreign food. Oh well, you learn something new every day!


As you may remember, I entered Thoughts on Dots into the fair. It didn’t get a prize, but I was pleased with how it was displayed. I was happy that there were no Sunbonnet Sue stuffed dolls in front of it and it wasn’t folded over anything. You can really see the whole quilt.


I was also REALLY pleased with how flat it hangs (no ripples!) and how well the sleeve looks. No lumps!


While I like, what St. JCN calls, the San Mateo Dotty better, this quilt reminds me of it. I know they are very different, but there is something about it that brought the SMD to mind.

This is a close up and I really like the flower motifs for the quilting.
These were fun! They are crocheted cupcakes.
Detail shots. Do you like the “sprinkles?”
This quilt was tied and didn’t hang very well, but I loved the tree in the middle. That drawing was very well done.

Detail of the tree.

The complete group of photos, unaltered and BIG are here as well as few other needlearts items that struck my fancy.

Quilting Arts "Too Hot" Tips

Quiltings Arts recent e-mail newsletter had some great ideas for quilting when it is too hot to actually put needle to fabric. I am reproducing them here, but the ideas belong to Quilting Arts.

Too hot to quilt? Design!

  • Photograph. Take pictures of your (and others’) gardens to use later as inspiration for landscapes, color combinations, and abstracts or for digital manipulation and photo transfer.
  • Sketch. Draw flowers or vegetables up close, paying attention to seeds, stamens, leaves, and veins.
  • Gather. Beach glass, shells, interesting sticks, outdated maps, seed pods, and so on can provide inspiration and materials for your next quilt.
  • Shop. Now is the time to take advantage of end-of-season sales on fibers and fabrics or to get a jump on the new fall colors and innovations.
  • Plan. Just like gardeners plan their gardens in winter, quilters can get organized for the next “season” of quilting at the end of the summer. Make a schedule of shows to enter and due dates; list gift projects and deadlines for finishing them; take inventory of your tools and supplies, and replenish them, so when inspiration strikes, you’ll be ready!

I don’t see a link to back issues of t he eNewsletter, but you can subscribe to future issues on their site.

Happy Designing

Hanging on By My Fingernails


As you can see, messy crafting runs in the family. I went to a scrapbook night with my sister Friday night. This is her work area. She does gorgeous pages! I created about 10 pages and they were all very basic. My theory is get those photos on pages and be done. When my photos are all up to date, I will take more time for each page. I am still set on the goal rather than really enjoying the process. I’ll get there yet. Sis takes her time with each page and really makes them wonderfully.

Time has been even shorter lately than before. Yesterday, we had a long car drive, so I brought my hand piecing and was able to finish another Cross Block (Flowering Snowball). I thought I would able to do more, but I have to face reality. It takes me about 1.5 hours to make each block.

I can’t help but lay all of the blocks out each time I make a new block. Then I play around with them for a bit. I move them around so that no colors are too close to each other. I also try to make sure the backgrounds are duplicated too close to each other.

This time, I realized that having more choices for foregrounds and backgrounds makes me make better choices. I have been trying not to duplicate colors or fabrics in one block.

Mosaic from Europe

SisterK finally gave me a CDof photos of mosaics from France and Italy. She spent 9 months there a couple of years ago. Before she left I told her to take photos of mosaics for me. I plan to use them for filler when I have nothing quilty to report on. They are gorgeous!


The ring is so elegant and simple. It would make a wonderful area rug. I can imagine it on the floor with a simple,yet elegant round wooden table scattered with books and some of those chairs that Camilla had delivered for her shop today. [I would want the chairs in a different color, though]

This is a mosaic I would have never expected. I guess what I wouldn’t have expected was the sparkle.

Now for the silliness and fun. If you aren’t into complete silliness, stop reading and come back tomorrow.

I gave myself a makeover. I also created a new picture to represent my blog. I just needed something new. Very silly and fun. Hope you like it.

Pineapples and Housecleaning

I finished two side border blocks today. I had started them last week or the week before and finally took the time to finish them. I found, as I was working on them, that I really needed more background fabric. I was coming across too many duplicates in these blocks. I had used up a lot of the previously cut strips and needed to replenish my supply. Interspersed with sewing, I cut about 10 new fabrics for the background and began to use them for these blocks. I found that some of the dots I had not used at all. In looking at the pictures above, I wonder if the corners really look like background fabrics?

The above gives you an idea of how a corner of the quilt will look when the quilt is finally put together. You can see the corner block on the left bottom and right bottom. You can see the side blocks on the left top and the middle bottom. The top middle block is one of the center blocks.

I made one or two more Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowball) and laid out all the blocks I have made thus far. I like the way the blocks are coming together. I am surprised and pleased each time I lay them out with the interplay between the fabrics. Laume was right in her comment to the More Quick Bytes post in advising me not to sew the Flowering Snowball blocks together as I went along when she said “Unsolicited advice – I’d hold off on sewing the snowball blocks together until you have them all made. You may find that as you make them you go through stages where you like and use one color more than another, or you run out of one or more background scrap fabrics and add in some new ones. You’ll want those changes to be dispersed evenly within the body of the quilt instead of showing up in little clumps. I assume. And one more thing – they look LOVELY!”. The more often I look at these blocks the more I like them.

A visitor has made me feel like I need to get busy and get rid of some of the junk laying around the house, or at least get it organized. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time, so it will have to be a little at a time. I did starting thinking about some of the organizational containers that are currently available. We’ll see what I get.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I always get a great sense of accomplishment out of tidying and organizing (librarian gene, I guess). I just don’t want to spend all of my limited and precious spare time on it.

To that end, in a previous post, I showed some fabrics that Deirdre sent. I really had no time during the past week to even think about fabric and quiltmaking. In order to get back into the fabric groove, I spent some time pressing and cutting them up for background pieces for the Cross Blocks. It was a good, meditative way to get back into the groove of sewing. I still have some more pieces to cut up. This task was also a way of cleaning up my workspace.

I have been using the red mosaic quilting piece as a thread catcher. I needed to get one of the pieces under control, because it was getting unwieldy. If you review the previous post (see link above), you can see how long and skinny the piece was. In its current state, it is still small (~10″x10″??), but really looks usable now. I want to make it bigger, so I am still working on it. Working on it like this is a little more difficult, because the small pieces don’t get added to the square very easily. I am currently working with some small pieces and making them big enough to add on to the piece shown above.

I am planning on adding the second piece, which is an even odder shape to the square above.


Confidential to St. JCN: here is the purple I thought would work for your sashing. Unfortunately, taking a photo of it doesn’t do it justice. The above pictures shows too much blue, so I will send you the sample.

I know many of you have commented on recent posts and I have not had a chance to respond, but rest assured that you are on my mind and I will get to it. Thanks for reading!

Great Work!

Deirdre sent this to me and I loved the front page so much I had to share.


A story in blues
2005
140 x 90 cm
Machine made and thoroughly
quilted.

Cotton, handmade felt (both wet and dry), organza, beads. 
For this quilt, I was awarded with the Aurifil price at the 11th Carrefour
d’Europeen in Val d’Argent, France.

Click on the photograph for a close-up.

  blog it

Some New Work & Some Finished Work

Thanks for continuing to read!


This is the piece I made in the Laura Wasilowski class through CQFA. This piece looks like the pieces I have worked on in Pamela Allen’s classes (May 2007 and June 2006). I seem to have a thing going for flowers in my small quilts at the moment. I think it is good to have a theme for classes, so you can try the teacher’s technique out without trying to think up interesting subject matter as well.

I would recommend a class with Laura. She is teaching at PIQF this year, so you may have a chance if you attend that show. She is a calm teacher (though we had none of those people who demand a lot of attend from the teacher – you know who they are), explains things very well and doesn’t try to cram too much into a class. There was lots of fusing going on and she gave everyone plenty of time to complete the various steps. She also sings various Chicago School of Fusing songs, which are quite entertaining.

I finally had a space large enough in my living room to get a full picture of Thoughts on Dots. Not the best picture, but at least you can see the entire thing. This quilt went to the County Fair today to be exhibited through mid-August. I can’t wait to see it hanging up. Hopefully, it will be a location I can use to get a good photo.

As you may be able to see I chose the green fabric for the binding. I was tempted by the red, but went with the green in the end. The green fit in with my theme of cheerfulness better for this quilt. Thanks to everyone who gave me their ideas and opinions. Your time and energy were greatly appreciated.
Block #20: complete! This completes all the center Pineapple blocks.

Corner block #1. Most of it is made of fabric with white backgrounds. The fabrics with the colored backgrounds aren’t quite dark enough. I will try to make the contrast between the back- and foregrounds more prominent.
Corner block #2.
This is, essentially, how the corner blocks will work with the center blocks.