Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Chipping Away at Obstacles

September 19, 2018

I had hoped my row quilt would be done by now, but stuff happened. I was able to chip away at enough obstacles to finish the top. A qualified success is still a win.

I call it “Coast to Coast”

Although I complain about life getting in the way of quilting, the good news is I have things to do, places to go, people to see. Yes, I want to complete my projects, but my life is more than my work. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. My friend Jan Maxwell made me a potholder featuring a woman wrapped in purple, with a cup of hot tea. Sometimes, despite obstacles and nagging to-do lists, life is good exactly as it is.

It’s okay to just be happy

Luck and wisdom!

Adapt the Rules to Fit the Worker

September 12, 2018

I love the life lessons quilting brings. There is the grand structure of the quilting universe – 1/4” seams, press to the dark, square things should always be square – then there is the reality of the individual worker. My latest Progressive project reminded me that rules are meant to instruct, not bind, and can always be adapted.

This twisted block came with two sets of instructions, neither of which worked for me. The first came from the artist who began the project, the second from another quilter in the group. I measured angles and straight lines, trying to come up with an interpretation that would achieve the desired result. Nothing worked. “Self,” I said, “just choose the block that you like best, scribe the cutting lines on the fabric you need to work with, and run with it.” I folded the seams back on each other, marked the cutting lines, and sewed the best 1/4” seam I could manage. Repeat for three rounds and you have a twisted block.

My contribution fits in well with the others in the collection, and that’s really all that matters.

Luck and wisdom!

Changing Direction

September 5, 2018

Two projects that I thought were clear in my mind wandered away from me this week. One changed direction radically, the other – my Challenge Group project – not so much. The Challenge assignment was to make one quilt with either two different colors and three different shapes or three different colors and two different shapes. I started with purple and black, because those were the first scraps I pulled out of the bin. I noticed that one of the black fabrics had pink flamingos on it. “Self,” I said, “you will have to decide if that pink is going to count as a third color.” By the time I finished, I realized that with clever embellishment, the flamingo could be both a color and a shape.

Here’s a better view of the flamingo pin:

The UFQ project with the heron was the one that really went off the rails. The last time I talked about this Row By Row collection, I was planning to use three kits to create one big quilt. When I started the second kit, however, I realized I didn’t really like one of the sections. I also realized I could have a cute wallhanging that held together better thematically if I adapted the kits. The work-in-progress name for this quilt is “Coast to Coast.”

The ocean is on the east side of the Maryland row, the west side of the California row

The painted square above the rows probably will not make the final cut for this project. I’ll show you more as the quilt tells me where it wants to go.

Luck and wisdom!

Battling To-Do List Anxiety

August 29, 2018

The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has been a blessing for me. I’m getting projects finished, and the deadlines keep me working as efficiently as I can. No blessing comes without a curse, however. For as much as I’m pathetic without a deadline, I’m also pathetic with them. I tend to get myself twisted inside-out worrying that I won’t meet them. I know the world isn’t going to end if I don’t get my projects done, because it has happened. Some of my best unpublished stories are the tales I spin to explain to my friendship groups why I came to the meeting empty-handed (and they always forgive me!). So, this month I snatched minutes here and there to get at least one project done. Despite the whimpering voice in my head telling me I’ll never finish a thing, I have three projects ready to bind.

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This one actually got finished!

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The lesson here? Listen to the voice of doom if it helps to get you in the studio, then tell it to hush. You’ll get the work done.

Luck and wisdom!

Waiting for the House Elf

August 22, 2018

This is why I would really love to have a house elf.

Yes, I’m getting lots of work done in the sewing room. Okay, I’m getting some work done in the sewing room. Better yet, every so often a project leaves the house, meaning I don’t have to find a place to store it. I do the happy dance, then realize I need to get busy with clean-up. I suck at clean-up.

If you ever find the spell for summoning a house elf, send me the link.

Luck and wisdom!

Filters Wide Open

August 15, 2018

I was listening to an NPR show explaining how we evolved from the primates who tended to be jumpier when hearing rustling in the leaves. This is important to understand, that we are the offspring of the ones who wondered if that was a predator rather than the ones who thought it was just the wind. Our genetic heritage to evaluate sensory input on many levels, including through the “how could this possibly end” filter, promotes survival but can also lead to a form of paralysis if one’s filters are running at full throttle. I started thinking about wide open filters in relation to my art, and wondered if I couldn’t use this information to help overcome the fear of starting something new.

Two years ago, I bought this kit in Maryland. It is part of the 2016 Row By Row promotion. I also bought a couple of Row By Row kits from my local quilt shops, because I thought they would go together well. Then I put the kits in a bag, and let them marinate because I was nervous about making the heron from the Maryland kit. Until I heard the story on NPR, I thought I was just a fraidy-cat. Now I know my “what could possibly go wrong” filters were in overdrive. I could imagine all the ways I could destroy that heron, ruin the quilt, bring about the collapse of the entire quilting industry, and end Western civilization as we know it. “Self,” I said, “it is time to ignore those potential futures and see what actually happens.”

The heron came out okay after all. So did the rest of the row.

Luck and wisdom!

When Life Gets In The Way of Writing

August 13, 2018

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There are days when I feel that the universe itself is reaching out to pull me off my path. Whether I’m being sucked into a thicket of daily tasks or surrounded by a hedge of small crises, the result is no creative activity that day. I can work myself into a full-blown pity party in no time, wailing that life is getting in the way of writing (or quilting). Then I come across someone who faced real thickets and real crises.

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This is what Chiura Obata wrote for the exhibit of art he created while in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans. This is the painting that went with the words.

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I’m not going to promise that I’ll never feel sorry for myself again when life gets in the way of writing, but at the very least I’ll try to make it a short whine.

Read Carefully!

August 8, 2018

You know one should read directions carefully. You think you have. Guess again.

The Progressive Party project I’m working on this month will end up being a full-size quilt. I read the instructions and saw “make a floral block.” So I did.

The Batchelor’s Button block

The next day, before I finished the last seams of the block, I read the instructions again. This time I noticed that we’re supposed to attach our floral blocks as shown in the diagram. Where was that line the first time I read through it? Okay, it was in the same place and I didn’t notice. Lucky for me, I started the project early and had plenty of time to make the fill-in blocks that go with my floral unit. Also lucky for me, I chose a block that goes into a unit that someone else had started.

My unit, finished and ready to go

The good news is the person after me won’t be shaking her head at my inability to read a simple set of instructions.

Luck and wisdom!

Rage Against the Portrait

August 6, 2018

Being a writer isn’t all about putting words on paper. Artists of any kind also have to be marketers, and that usually means selecting one’s public image. I really hate choosing portraits. The problem isn’t that they don’t look like me – the problem is they do (and yes, I rage against my mirror as much as I rage against my portraits).

At least I’m smiling

This month has been particularly taxing. I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed by a local newsletter about Tri-Valley Writers, but that meant finding a picture for the article. I’m also taking on the role of president of Tri-Valley Writers, and that means finding a different picture for our newsletter. Then I noticed that my WordPress photo is woefully out of date, as is my photo on the Tri-Valley Writers website. I’m tempted to put in a picture of something else, but that’s not what a sensible author who actually wants to sell some books would do.

Or is it?

The first medal I ever won got its own quilt

By the way, here’s where you can find my latest book, The Chenille Ultimatum, written with Ann Anastasio.

Flowers for Fall or Flamingos

August 1, 2018

I needed to make a technique demonstration for the Block of the Month, and didn’t have any of the fabric that we used for the kits, so I decided to use my scraps. I found a collection of fall colors, but then realized I had to make four iterations of the square flower to show how to manage a half-finished seam. I didn’t have enough scraps, but I was already looking forward to seeing how the fall fabrics would play together. I made the block anyway, and will finish it for a Display Block.

A flower for fall

As I was searching for a backing, I noticed a plastic bag filled with flamingo fabric. I am a sucker for novelty fabric. I never know what to do with it, but I buy it anyway. “Self,” I said, “make your four blocks from this novelty fabric, then use the rest of the fabric in the bag to finish it off for a Community Quilt. Some kid is bound to like the flamingos.”

A flower for flamingos

Don’t you just love it when a simple task turns into a relatively simple project that will clear out your stash and benefit someone else?

Luck and wisdom!