Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Good Luck Charms

May 20, 2020

My friend Margaret Misegades sent me this candle for quilters. I think it makes a wonderful addition to my good luck charms. As any artist or crafter will tell you, there are times when we need all the help we can get. I’ve collected good luck charms of many sorts, because I seem to need help more often than I would like to admit. There was a time when I tried to put my collection in one place, but then I got distracted. This is what my personal altar looks like now.

It occurred to me that some of my good luck charms might prefer to work alone, or in secret, so now I don’t feel bad about having them scattered around the sewing room. Perhaps they will reveal themselves, perhaps they will be happy to lurk in the shadows. As long as they hear my cries for relief, or inspiration, or just a pretty thread that doesn’t break on me at inopportune moments, I’ll be grateful.

Luck and wisdom!

Beginning A Memory Quilt

April 29, 2020

I decided to save the scraps of batiks I am using to make masks for a project for me. While I have been writing in my journal every day, there’s nothing like a quilt to evoke good memories. The fabrics don’t always agree with each other, so chances are I’ll make either a mosaic or an updated version of a crazy quilt. Luckily, I have stuff for that.

The batiks might not play well with much of my satin and velvet collection, but I’ll certainly have enough of something lovely for a backing.

If I decide hand embroidering batiks isn’t as much fun as it sounds, I can always use ribbon instead. There is plenty to choose from just in the bins I can reach. Heaven only knows what I could find if I really put my mind to it.

Luck and wisdom!

An Outdoor Quilt Show

April 22, 2020

Amador Valley Quilters joined the Hang Your Quilts Outside event. All over the region, sheltered-in-place neighborhoods were treated to quilts on the porches, quilts on the landings, quilts on the driveway. I put up two quilts just as my neighbor was getting ready to leave. We had a nice conversation from across the street, and I told him to look for other quilts while he was out on essential errands.

These quilts had to come down in the afternoon because the wind kicked up and the frames toppled. Luckily, I had a smaller quilt that I could hang on the railing outside our front door.

All three pieces are Progressive Party creations, so thanks to everyone who contributed to the quilts and the outdoor quilt show.

Luck and wisdom!

What We See

April 13, 2020

While I am far from a first adopter, even I can see the value in remote meetings. I have a Zoom account, and although I’ve never tried hosting a meeting I have participated several times in the last few weeks. One thing I’ve notice is how little humans see compared to what the camera sees. Did you look at the koala bears pictured above? Did you notice I arranged them so the flowers appear to be growing out of the mama bear’s head?

Take a look at the backgrounds the next time you watch the news. Some work-from-home newscasters have done a wonderful job of having a neutral background that doesn’t distract from the broadcast. Others, not so much.

Sometimes it is obvious which room the broadcaster is using – spare bedroom, den, the little alcove by the master bath. I’ve noticed in my remote meetings that participants occasionally use the backgrounds available from the app to mask what is really behind them. Before you choose a background, you might want to consider whether people will be looking at it more than listening to you.

Finally, and I say this knowing how easily it could backfire, consider using makeup if you are appearing on a remote meeting. Perhaps I am more aware of how pasty people look on screen because I am the daughter and wife of avid photographers, and on the pale side. Some of my photos look more like audition shots for horror movies where I’m going for the role of third ghost on the left.

Writers are encouraged to make all sorts of home videos to promote our books. The pandemic has given us an excuse to learn the technical skills needed to produce and upload them. Don’t forget the art behind video, however. We may not have access to a set designer or makeup staff, but we can be always be mindful that what we see on screen will influence how we hear the message.

Luck and wisdom!

The Joy of Someday

April 8, 2020

The Challenge Group was supposed to meet this week, but due to sheltering-in-place for the pandemic we decided to send pictures of our projects via email and get the new assignment. I was gearing up to make an excuse for not doing the assignment as I just joined the army of mask-makers, but instead was given a gift (thank you, Terry!). Our latest assignment is to do one of those someday projects with tools or fabric we have bought in the last five years. Joy!

For reasons I can no longer understand, I bought (or was given) this yo-yo maker at the last Amador Valley Quilters Silent Auction. It managed to find its way to my crazy quilt fabric stash, where I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. “Self,” I said, “someday you will make yo-yos from scraps of silks and satins and see how that works on a crazy quilt.”

Someday is now here. Woo-hoo!

Luck and wisdom!

Safe as Houses

April 1, 2020

The Progressive Party project I worked on this month is appropriate for someone sheltering-in-place, given that it is all houses. The bag came with the fabric cut already (thank you, Rebecca!), which made life a whole lot easier. The scary part for me was half of the houses must be made from striped fabric. Clearly, we are meant to match the stripes. While I did make one plaid skirt where I painstakingly matched the pattern, I’m more of an anything goes quilter. Still, the purpose of the Progressive Party is to learn new skills and stretch ourselves, so I prepared myself to be precise.

Turns out, Rebecca had given us another gift. The pattern has some wiggle room built in. The upper part of the block is 1” wider than the door strip. Matching stripes is easier when you can line up those little critters and trim away the excess! I feel reasonably safe turning in my houses this month, if you don’t look super close.

Luck and wisdom!

Making Do (With Fish)

March 25, 2020

Years ago, I visited an aquarium in Seattle that had an exhibit of baby salmon. I loved the way they moved in the tank, and made an art quilt to capture my feelings. It didn’t work. I had put too much time in the piece to throw it away, but I was too discouraged by my failure to rework it. The top went into a stack until it became the backing for another quilt.

Most of the border had to be trimmed, but I’ve saved those pieces. They may end up in another back, or as part of a scrap quilt.

This is the front of the piece. It was made years ago as well. The two tops were next to each other in a pile, and they worked well together. “Self,” I said, “you can make do with these.” I’ll spend part of my shelter-in-place time during the COVID-19 pandemic beading the quilt. Who knows, by the end of the quarantine period I may actually be happy with it.

Luck and wisdom!

Unexpected Victories

March 18, 2020

This is a quilt I made as a class sample but never finished because I didn’t know how I wanted to quilt it. I no longer teach the class, so there wasn’t much incentive to put it at the top of the pile. Well, it worked its way up. “Self,” I said, “just start quilting. The pattern will reveal itself.” I decided to let the fabric tell me what it wanted, which worked fine until I got to the vegetable appliques. Since the fusible interfacing was well past its prime, I had to do something fast just to keep the fabric in place. I decided to make little circles all around the pieces, with the intention of incorporating them into a more interesting design later on.

When I finished with the circles, I realized they were interesting enough on their own. These unexpected victories give me the courage to dive deeper into the unfinished quilts pile. You never know when something wonderful will surface.

Happy anniversary, Mom!

Unearthing History in the Sewing Room

March 11, 2020

I was preparing to baste another bunch of quilt tops and ran across one that just stumped me. Most of them came from a stack I had ready with batting and backs cut to size, and most of them are quilt old. So old, in fact, I couldn’t figure out why I had put such a hideous border on the quilt pictured above. It took longer than I would like to admit before I realized that the ugly beige stuff is extra fabric I attached so the border wouldn’t get distorted when I hand-quilted the top. I guess I’d better get more diligent with finishing up my UFOs so that no one else has to figure out what the heck I planned to do if they draw the short straw on cleaning out my sewing room.

Luck and wisdom!

When The Fabric Speaks

March 4, 2020

One of my friendship groups wanted to experiment with fused applique, making small projects that would allow us to explore color and shape without investing too much time and fabric. To make it more interesting, we each assembled a packet of five fabrics that we would trade at the meeting. I liked all the fabrics in the packet I received, but didn’t have the first clue how to work with them. I stared at my collection while my friends were busy cutting theirs. “Self,” I said, “pick up the scissors and get to work.” I chopped here, snipped there, and ended up with this.

A river in a canyon

Once I put the pieces on my felt rectangle, I saw a river at the bottom of a canyon. “Landscapes it is,” I announced. Since no one objected – even my hypercritical internal editor – I continued.

Disconnected rivers?

The subsequent pieces flowed from the first. To avoid overthinking the end product, I let the fabric guide my scissors, and chance dictate which shape or color was fused first.


Once I had half of the felt covered, I allowed myself to make choices about what would go next. I also allowed myself to decide how the colors might go together based on the variegated embroidery floss that I just happened to have bought on impulse earlier in the week.

I’m not sure if I want these landscapes to be of alien worlds or of our possible future if we don’t start taking care of the planet. That decision will come when I break out the bead box, and listen to what the fabric tells me.

Luck and wisdom!