Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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!

On To Africa

October 17, 2018

The expedition in my sewing room took another turn. I finished a simple pieced quilt, and now must start pulling random blocks, most with African-themed embroidery, into a coherent piece. This is the finished quilt:

These are the blocks that need organizing:

I appliqued the tree block and made most of the embroidered blocks, although a few were done by someone else. I don’t remember how I managed to acquire the patterns, thread, and partially completed blocks. Perhaps I bought them at a silent auction, perhaps they were given to me by someone who knows I like to embroider, perhaps they were left on the doorstep in the dead of night (no, I would probably remember that).

In any event, this is my next project, and On to Africa is the working title.

Luck and wisdom!

Coast to Coast with Confidence

October 10, 2018

In one of those moments when the universe says, “Just get on with it,” the quilt I absolutely, positively had to finish was the one with the heron. I’ve called the quilt Coast to Coast, and it was just the confidence boost I needed.

Quilted, bound, and labeled

My foot still doesn’t like to be down for any length of time, but I had to change threads often for this quilt. What under ordinary circumstances would have been discouraging turned out to be practical – thirty minutes with my foot down, ice and rest, repeat. Even with all the thread changes, the quilting went much faster than I expected.

The dreaded heron and the many quilting threads

I also made a feature out of a bug by using yellow thread around the center of the flowers. My original intent was merely to hide the little boo-boo when the yellow meandered over the black, but I like it better this way.

The pattern called for one tree and a house, but I made three trees representing the palm trees, deciduous trees, and pine trees that can be found together on every street in my town.

This quilt was years in the making, since I was afraid to make the appliqued heron, nervous about changing the pattern, and concerned that I really couldn’t put all three Row By Row kits together to make a coherent piece. Furthermore, I was truly terrified that my injury wouldn’t let me get back in the sewing room at all, much less in time to finish the quilt for the guild Unfinished Quilt Challenge. Because of my fears, once I got started Coast to Coast became a huge confidence builder.

Luck and wisdom!

Pour Art

September 26, 2018

I haven’t been able to do anything in the sewing room, what with a gimpy foot and all. Even handwork is out of the question since I have to keep the puffy little thing elevated (at the moment it looks like a watermelon), which keeps me at an odd angle on the couch, which means more beads fall on the floor than get captured by my needle. The only thing I have to look at is older work, such as this small canvas.

My art critique group held a play date where we all made two pieces by pouring paint over canvas. For once, I choose a restrained color scheme, and the results were much better than anything I’ve ever tried with paint.

The small canvas looks like an architectural detail to me, while the piece above reminds me of a satellite image, or perhaps a riverscape. I’m not sure what I will do with either canvas. For the moment, I’m reveling in the knowledge that less really can be more.

Luck and wisdom!

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!