Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Queuing

January 16, 2019

My sewing machine is in the shop for some well-deserved cleaning. While I usually take this time to sort, now I am tidying with purpose. I am queuing up a series of projects, like a river of creativity. The first two in line will be the last ones on my list for the guild challenge. Then I get to do this one.

The start of this project came from a workshop by Sandy Corbin. I told myself going in that if the blocks turned out they would become a charity quilt. I also told myself if they were ugly they would be tossed in the bin (I used remnants from other projects, just so I wouldn’t get too angsty over $1.37 worth of fabric). Well, turns out I love the project. It will still go to our guild’s quilt give-away, but I’m going to put it first on my list of new challenge projects as an incentive to keep going.

Luck and wisdom!

What to Name My UFOs

January 9, 2019

I have a support group for my 2019 challenge to finish projects. They came to the meeting with tidy lists of unfinished objects (UFOs). I came with a vision of stacks. Now I am trying to catch up by creating my own list, but what do you call something like this?

This is a stack on my ironing board that I believe I will turn into the Progressive Party star project. I suppose I could name it “star project” and hope for the best.

This is a little trickier. Most of the elements in this box are meant for a crazy quilt, but there are a few things that snuck in when I wasn’t looking. Okay, I tossed them in the box when I was too lazy to put them where they belonged. Still, how to name the collection? I might call it “project in box” as I believe it is the only one in a box in my sewing room.

This is the hardest one. Most of the fabrics come from a row-by-row project. They didn’t play well with the other fabrics, but I think they are destined to live together in another quilt. However, I suspect there are a few surprises in the pile. I see some magazines, and I don’t recall saving other patterns for the row-by-row project. This one can’t be called “project on floor” because there are too many stacks on the floor. I’m not even sure I could number them based on the compactness of the pile.

And this is why I challenged myself to finish half of the projects I could reach, not name.

Luck and wisdom!

Story Boards and Story Scrolls

December 19, 2018

Here is a quick(ish) project for those of you who tell stories to young – or at least young at heart – audiences and want a different visual aid. Story boards can be made in minutes with scraps and glue. Story scrolls take a little longer, but use more scraps.

My friend and co-author Ann Anastasio and I made some Sunbonnet Sue story boards for a program we wrote ages ago. I recently unearthed the collection, which includes Sunbonnet Sue in the Odyssey (above), and Sunbonnet Sue on Safari (below). We cut simple shapes, glued them on poster board, embellished with puff paint and hot-glued binding strips around the edge.

For the last Challenge Group project, I made some scrolls from scraps. The assignment was to do something on the theme of A Winter Tale. I went more literal than Shakespearan, and made a set of scrolls. A long scrap of fabric within reach set the dimensions for the scroll. I layered batting and fabric scraps on the wrong side, machine-quilted everything together, and zig-zagged the raw edges. Leftover pieces of a dowel became the spindles, with flat buttons and a pyramid bead hot-glued on each end for finials. I looped one end of the scrolls around each completed dowel, sewed it in place, then attached a ribbon on the back.

I have no idea what sort of tale I might tell to fill a long winter evening, but it will definitely include space aliens.

Luck and wisdom!

Can I Have Enough Bling?

December 5, 2018

I have a reputation for embellishing a project to within an inch of its life. While I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, I do love bling on my art quilts. The quilt I’m working on now, however, may shake my style.

This is a block in my Progressive Party project on the theme of The Mummy (1932, starring Boris Karloff). The quilt is gorgeous, but I’ve found that beads (or sequins) can enhance almost anything. It appears I’ve met the exception to that rule. I put a row of sequins on the eyelid of this block and thought, “Self, that’s enough.”

I went to another block, one with lots of empty space, and started beading. Now this block is whispering that I should stop. So far I’m listening, but it is rather a shock to think I’ve got a quilt with enough bling.

Luck and wisdom!

The 3 Laws of Scrap Dynamics

November 21, 2018

I have completed twenty (20!) projects since beginning the Unfinished Quilt Challenge, with no real increase in storage space apparent in my sewing room. It seems that there are laws of scrap dynamics at play here.

Law 1

Scraps are the logical and inevitable result of creativity. No matter how tidy your original stack of fabrics, it will always result in an unruly collection of leftover pieces (even if the project is completed). Since this is going to be your fate, embrace the mess.

Law 2

You can’t get rid of scraps on your own. The picture above is the fourth top to come out of a collection of pink and brown fabrics that I figured would be used up in one quilt. The key here is to find someone or something to help. The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has encouraged me to use any and all leftovers in donation quilts. That has given me the courage to continue piecing tops and backs from collections that by all rights should be used up by now, and to tell the committee that distributes donation quilts that I will have several ready for them after the first of the year.

Law 3

Scraps and creativity exist in equilibrium. The more creative you are, the more scraps you have, or find. I thought I would be clever and use some scraps from other projects in this top. I thought I would clear out one scrap bag (I used maybe a quarter of a yard), and I found a forgotten bag of scraps tucked behind the one I was raiding.

For me, the moral of the story is unclear. Perhaps one of you has a sure-fire way of getting rid of scraps?

Luck and wisdom!

Improv Art

November 14, 2018

The improvisational piecing panels swam to the top of the nearest pile in the sewing room, so I finished the quilt.

I knew I wanted to do something with the raw edges of the panels, so in the true spirit of improvisational art I used what was at hand. Some thick embroidery thread and beads left from another project either had to go in the very next project or be put away. You don’t need to be psychic to guess what I did.

I’m pleased with the quilt, but I do wish I knew why this one worked and other improv pieces I’ve tried didn’t. Perhaps the stars were in alignment, perhaps I’m honing in my signature color palette, perhaps I like it because people I’ve shown it to like it. Fortunately, I have lots more scraps for more experiments.

Luck and wisdom!

A Journey With Embroidery

November 7, 2018

There is something about embroidery that turns my fingers into a (nearly) perpetual motion machine. The top for On To Africa needed more embellishment, so I started adding a few lines of embroidery here and there. Before I knew it, the journey to a quilting-ready top was finished.

One side of the top is more heavily embroidered than the rest, but I’m okay with that. Most of this work was done by another artist (and I still don’t know who – none of my friends remember where I got the blocks either), and I’m perfectly content to let her work get all the attention.

I first thought I would leave the center appliqued panel alone, and fill in the open space with quilting. Then I realized the jacquard will absorb all the quilting, so I might as well embroider the living daylights out of it.

Shameless self-promotion alert, embroidery on the journey into space is a pivotal plot point in The Chenille Ultimatum. If you need a good giggle, give the book a try.

Luck and wisdom!

Samhain, Start of the Holiday Season

October 31, 2018

You probably know that Halloween is my second favorite holiday, because I’m always rambling on about the candy and the costumes.

My no-mess Halloween pumpkin

I also like Halloween because its roots are from an ancient Celtic harvest festival, Samhain. It is a festival of thanksgiving, and those are useful celebrations. I think of Halloween as the beginning of the holiday season, a time of joy and giving that leads into November’s Thanksgiving. Since I’m a vegetarian, the turkey-ness of Thanksgiving recedes, leaving room for the family-and-friend-ness of Thanksgiving. That leads into December, and all the holidays of joy and gratitude. Then there’s New Year, a celebration of hope and change.

Hidden within all this gratitude and hope is a little fear. Perhaps the new year won’t be as wonderful as we would like, perhaps this is the last time we’ll feel joy, perhaps we aren’t grateful enough. That’s another reason I like to think of Halloween as the start of the holidays, because its roots include a time of fear and wonder. At Samhain, the veil between our world and the spirit world was pulled away, allowing space for the unknown to invade. Halloween reminds me that a little fear can be useful, as long as you don’t let it prevent you from stepping forward in hope.

Thanks, Maya, for the painted fabric!

Luck and wisdom!

Tree Series – Experiment

October 24, 2018

Since one of my art quilt groups is exploring theme – and I had some scraps available – I decided to start that tree quilt series I’ve been talking myself out of doing for who knows how many years. I made small panels using improvisational piecing and quilted a tree on one. I showed the group my panels, and they thought I had a good beginning. They suggested floating the panels on an underquilt. Here’s what I have so far:

Better 1?

Better 2?

The big lesson in this experiment is that I am a lot more courageous when I don’t have a huge emotional investment in the fabric I use for art quilts. Of course, that means the lovely pieces I have collected are still languishing in the drawer, but at least I am using my scraps!

Luck and wisdom!

Autumn Prompt

October 22, 2018

My ankle is recovering, but I still like to keep it elevated as much as possible, which makes sitting at the computer or sewing machine a bit dicey. I am keeping up – sorta, kinda, maybe – with my novel and my quilting, but haven’t achieved any ground-breaking results. That’s why, for today’s writing blog, I present a prompt. This is a picture of my region’s autumn color. California really does have a fall leaf season, which usually lasts at least a couple of days between the last triple-digit heat wave and the onset of cold rain and sleet.

You can see a palm and pine through the branches of the tree in the foreground. I took this picture as inspiration for a quilt, but it can work a little harder as a prompt for a short story. Give it your best shot, and if it turns out to be poetry or very short fiction, feel free to post it in the comments section.

Luck and wisdom!