Friday, October 29, 2010

Precious Fall Sunshine

This week was a precious gift. Temperatures were way above normal, at times reaching 70 degrees. And, the sun was shining. I had to pause and catch a few photos as too soon the general winter overcast will have set in.

Our property was absolutely radiant.

And, I am sure, these will inspire me over the winter.

Japanese Maple

Fall Leaves

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Busy weekend in the Finger Lakes

The Schweinfurth Art Center will open its popular Quilts=Arts=Quilts 2010 this coming weekend in Auburn, New York. There are two special events before the general opening. A preview reception and award presentation will be held on Saturday evening. On Sunday, the center will be hosting a Quilters' Brunch and Lecture by Eugenia Barnes.  Finally the show opens to the public on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm. This year there are 93 quilts by 78 artists in the show. It promises to be an exciting exhibit and I hope to drive over on Sunday.

Also, this coming weekend, in Canandaigua New York, 'Art on the Lake' will host its 1st Annual Show and Sale of high quality Artisans and Craftsman presenting a wide array of all avenues of the arts. The show will be held at Bristol Harbor Resorts, 5410 Seneca Road, Canandaigua in the Main Lodge's Great Room Banquet Hall. Hours for the show are October 29, 5-8 pm; October 30, 10 - 8 pm; October 31, 10-3 pm. More info at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Latest Comfort Quilt

I finished quilting my latest donation to our Love and Comfort Quilt Project on Friday. It still has to be bound but I suspect I can get that done by our next meeting.

I used the flower piece that I blogged about in mid-October. I try to keep my comfort quilts very simple and then use the quilting as an opportunity to work on my free-motion quilting. I also decided to try angling my machine while I was quilting - a tip I mentioned in my last blog entry. With the angling, I found it much easier to maneuver the quilt on my machine.

The flower was definitely the most fun part to quilt. For each of the blocks, I used a contrasting thread and played with designs. While the pattern is very straightforward, I think the quilt will brighten someone's day!

Hope everyone has a good week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rituals for Quilting

My good friend and associate, Tom Crum, recently wrote a Centering Hint on developing good positive rituals for when your golf shot is less than perfect. Golf is a long way from quilting but the concept of developing positive habits that enhance your performance and creativity applies equally well for quilt artists as golfers.

I am working on a draft article for SAQA on rituals as we prepare to quilt. I am curious if anyone has rituals that they tend to do before they sit down at their machine. It might be a stretching routine; it could be pausing for a moment to consider your objective for the stitching session. I would love to know if you have any, or if you have even considered the topic. And, if you could see the value of a practice.

More on Posture Discussion

My last post on posture prompted some interesting comments. The problem of seeing behind the needle while you are quilting was mentioned. I thought about this more the past few days. Not sure if this will help but I remembered Libby Lehman mentioning in a lecture that she turns her machine at an angle to her when she is free motion quilting. I appreciate that might be a bit difficult if your machine is set into a table but I thought I would mention the idea. It might solve the visibility issue for some people. Worth experimenting with at least.
That is it for today. I hope to spend my free time for the next few days quilting two pieces - one is a gift, the other for our Comfort Quilt Project. Then I will be back to my art quilts.

Hope you enjoy Tom's Centering Hint too!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Great Posture for Sewing

Here is a new video on posture that I filmed at the Bobbin Case store in Brighton, New York. I hope that you will find it a useful reminder on how to cultivate a habit that will help alleviate stress on your back and make your quilting more enjoyable!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pat Pauly Class

This past Friday and Saturday, I took Pat Pauly's two-day design class, "Four-Square Workshop - Using Photographs to Jump-Start Composition," that I mentioned in my first blog post of October.  What an experience! It was intense, inspiring, instructive, and enjoyable.

We really did use the photos that we brought to class, cutting them pieces till you would never recognize them. That was fine. What we began learning were design elements that could lead to a successful art quilt. Pat demonstrated on her own photos how to focus in on portions of a photograph and then showed how that translated into a finished piece.

There were about ten of us in the class. The first day we spent creating our unique designs and then selecting fabrics to use in our pieces. I don't think that any of us got to sewing the first day. Not a problem - it wasn't the purpose of the class. Here is the design I came up with.

The second day we began cutting and sewing. Pat had great suggestions on how to piece our designs. She worked patiently with all of us. By the end of the day, it was clear that some wonderful pieces were going to come out of our work.

Pat demonstrating some amazing tricks for achieving effects.

What happened to me? Well, by mid-day on the second day, I realized that I was never going to finish my peice with the colors I had chosen. I decided to practice some of the techniques that Pat was teaching - I can be slow to pick up some ideas and I could see those same techniques could be valuable in my work. By the end of the afternoon, I was comfortably enough with some ideas that I had the start on an art quilt that I had thought of over the weekend.

My piece in process
All in all, it was a great class. Pat's sense of humor and patience as a teacher held us together as we all ventured into highly uncharted territory. As I watched Pat use her 'eye' to critque our designs and suggest possible (and always) improvements, it became clear why one of her quilts has been accepted into Quilt Nationals for the second straight year.  Congratulations, Pat! And, thank you for a great class.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Argentum Aurum Discovery

While visiting our daughter in Spokane, WA a few weeks ago, I discovered the most wonderful gallery - Argentum Aurum - specializing in fine handmade jewelry.  It is conveniently located downtown at 524 West Main and displays the work of Debra Brehren, a master metal smith, who studied in Philadelphia but settled in Spokane.

I would describe Debra's jewelry as both playful and exquisite. Now that requires a real artist to accomplish! She works in sterling silver and resin.

Her hand made carved sterling silver pieces are breathtaking.  Here is a piece called Balance that she displays on her website.

I purchased a pair of earrings that I truly love.  They are the pink doves in the upper right portion of this photo. Can you see what I mean by playful?

If you happen to be in Spokane, I am sure you can find a perfect gift there. And, they also will work with you on phone orders. Check out their website!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Inspirational Prints!

One never knows where inspiration is going to come from. Sometimes it is best to just trust the universe and not worry.

Monday was one of my 'wrap-up' days. With two of my quilts nearing completion and my first art quilt in a new series ready to be put to cloth, my mind was already puzzling over where I was going next. Also hanging over my head was my promise to create 10 quilts for our Guild's Love and Comfort Quilt Project.

An email reminder that the deadline for one of my challenge quilts was drawing near brought me back to the present moment and refocusing on finishing a top so I could give it to my good art quilter friend, Val Schultz, for quilting. Here is a peak at the design for that challenge quilt.

I needed some backing fabric before giving it to Val so yesterday I stopped by Ivy Thimble for what was supposed to be a quick simple purchase. I walked into Ivy Thimble and there, staring me in the face, were two stunning flowers.

The day was overcast so the glorious reds and yellows were a most welcome sight. How could I resist? While heading down an aisle towards some batik fabric for my backing, I told Trish, the owner of Ivy Thimble, to cut me two flowers.  The fabric is called Daydreams by Stephanie Brandenburg and is available from Camelot Cottons.

It wasn't until the purchase was complete that it dawned on me that I had the answer to my quandry over what I would do next.  I could build not one, but two, comfort quilts out of the fabric. Amazing synchronicity!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Adventures in Stitching a rolled hem

Last week Linda Fellows, owner of The Bobbin Case, mentioned that I could roll a hem on a scarf using my Bernina. She gave me a demo and it looked so simple that I had to put it to use immediately.

I had a piece of silk at home that had been sitting in a drawer since my trip to the Kyoto flea markets a number of years ago. It was a perfect length for a scarf and the sides were acceptably finished but, as you can see in the photo, the ends needed to be bound in some way.

I had, of course, done nothing with the piece and, with Fall weather upon us, knew I could be using the scarf if I finished it off. So, I tried Linda's suggestion.

The trick is to use the button hole option on your machine and set it to 'manual.' I chose stitch #51 among the button hole stitches on my Bernina 730 and then played with the settings on a small piece of silk I cut off from one end of the scarf. For this project, I decided upon a width of 4.9 and a length of 1.0. I had the tension set at 2.5.

The actual sewing process was quite easy. I simply inserted the silk under the foot with about 3/8" lying to the right of the needle and then stitched. The result was a rolled edge.

The hardest part of this technique is finding the right tension and length of stitch. If your tension is too tight or your stitches too close together, then you can get puckers or a really 'tight' feeling to the hem. You want it to hang 'softly.' So, it is really important to play with a sample. I found the initial buttonhole length needed to be increased and the tension decreased.

I am going to play with this option some more. There are more uses for it, of course. It has a lot of potential in using sheers in my art quilts.  Hope that you find it useful as well!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Computer and Web Support for Quilters

Computers and the internet play a role in both the creation and the marketing of quilting, not to mention our lives in general. Here are some great sources for quilters trying to increase their basic understanding and skill levels.

  • All the World's A Classroom is a blog by Lisa Chipetine, the president of SAQA. In her 'non-quilt artist' life, Lisa is technology strategist. I am not sure exactly what that is but it means that she has a great understanding of many things technology oriented and she is sharing that info in All The World's A Classroom. Recent posts have included info on topics like Wikis, meta tags, and text messaging. I am finding it a great resource and I hope you do too.
  • – This site offers a wealth of online videos on hundreds of applications that quilters find themselves using in their art and life. These include Adobe products such as Photoshop, Google apps, and even Apple apps like iphoto and iphone. The videos are clear and are great as you can replay them if you don't quite get a point the first time.
    There is a cost to view the videos but you can subscribe on a monthly basis and discontinue the service in months when you aren't using it. My computer consultant suggested it to me when I mentioned that I was stockpiling boxes of software upgrades on my desk because I didn't want to deal with learning the new versions. Now I am excited at the prospect of understanding what is already on my computer even better so I can take more advantage of it.
Hope these sources help you. If you have more suggestions, please let me know!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SAQA Auction Continues

We are in the third week of the SAQA art quilt auction. If you haven't checked it out yet, please do. New quilts are added each week so there are still plenty to bid on. These foot square quilts make great gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

I am delighted my contribution, Journey, sold the first week. It was my first donation and I worried a bit that no one would bid on it. I was so pleased that I have started planning my donation for next year!

Here is one of my favorites of the current quilts up for bidding:
Cathedral in the Pines by Joanna Monroe
Projects in Process

Moving along with my  October projects, piecing has started on a quilt that just begged to be made from a pile of fabrics.

And, the benefits of participating in the Sketchbook Project have started to surface in ideas for a new art quilt series. Here is a paper silhouette I created that I hope to use in a small art quilt in the series. I am going to do some experimenting with a piecing technique for the background and with adding the figure so I am getting antsy to get this project into fabric.

Philosophical Pondering of the Morning
I seem to take forever creating a quilt. I like to let things percolate a bit between phases. It seems that when I rush through the creation I make more errors and spend time ripping out and wishing I had thought more about what I was going to do next. I admire those who can whip out a piece quickly. I suspect I am this way because I so enjoy the process of creating a quilt that I don't want to rush it. In any event, this certainly does make me a 'low volume' quilter, but hopefully the quality of each piece is high.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quilt Artist: Val Schultz

When I returned to quilting about seven years ago, one of the first people I met was Val Schultz. Someone suggested that she might be willing to quilt some of the quilt tops that I was then creating. It was the perfect suggestion. We both seem to like similar fabrics and designs and I can give Val a top that I want a really superior job done on and know that I will be totally pleased with her work. It was Val who observed to me a number of years ago that I seem to be getting drawn to the world of art quilts. So, as I begin this series of interviews with art quilters, it seemed natural that I begin with the first art quilter that I met.

Val has been quilting since she was 16 when she spent a summer taking lessons from her great aunt. She stopped while life happened and then resumed about 15 years ago.She has always been drawn to art quilts.

“I like color and I like curves more than straight lines. So, doing free form stuff was more fun and so much easier.”

Val has a very successful long arm quilting business that she runs out of her home on Honeoye Lake in upstate New York, near Rochester. I asked her about how much time she gets to spend on her own work.

“My business takes a lot of time. Some weeks I have very little free time for my own work. But recently that has been changing. Thursdays are my day off from my business. I belong to three groups that meet on Thursdays but that still leaves one or two Thursdays a month for my own art.  This summer I also started taking time on weekends for my own things. I am probably spending 10-14 hours a week on my art. That is a big difference from five years ago.”

I asked Val what she currently enjoys creating.

“I gravitate to hand-dyed fabric and then quilting the dyed fabric. I like to see what occurred when I dyed the fabric and what can I bring out of that with thread. I am not really doing whole cloth quilts -more the center is heavily quilted and then I add a border – sort of  piecing around a theme. I also enjoy working from photographs, particularly on organic themes – trees, rocks, water.

"I enjoy working with dyed fabrics as I see fabric as a tool. Many of the printed fabrics seem to take possession of a piece and dictate what you are going to do. I still use batiks because I like them. I still like to piece and I don’t mind appliqué if it is required to get where I want to go."

I asked Val if she has been in many shows.

“In the last few years, a few local years. I am not competitive – that is I don’t have a competitive personality.  So, I don’t have much interest in winning shows. I decided recently that I am going to enter more shows but more from a personal point of view. I would just like to show my work.” She smiles broadly, “After a while, what else are you going to do with everything?”

That lead me to ask Val what she does with her many art pieces.

“I have a nice little commission business in Europe. I stumbled on it by accident. A friend who was an interior designer asked me to do something for a house in Europe. Members of that family liked it and continue to ask me to do things – they tell me the size and color for odd shapes pieces to go in their homes and then I am free to create as I please.

Her favorite quilt is one that she made for her son, a Marine with several tours of duty in the Middle East. Each time he went over, she would get anxious and start quilting. Her favorite piece was for her son’s second tour in Iraq. No, we don’t have a photo of it as he loved it and has it in his home. She tells me it was primarily red white and blue and heavily quilted.

Val is the sort of person who is always willing to pitch in and lend a hand. She is active in local quilting organizations in Rochester NY and the Finger Lakes area. She recently completed a term as President of the 400 plus member Genesee Valley Quilt Organization. Now she is Vice President of another smaller guild, Lake to Lake. She also does volunteer work with the Quilt Consortium for the Finger Lakes area both as secretary and collecting info for their news letter.

I asked Val what she saw herself doing in five years.

“I fully expect to be doing art quilting and enjoying it.”

I hope she will too. Val doesn't have a web page as of now, but you can email her at if you would like to know about her work.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Preparing for a Design Class

Another of my goals for my current Vision Project with SAQA was to take some design classes in the next 12 months. Not to put things off, I have signed up for Pat Pauly's class that she is offering through the Genesee Valley Quilters Organization this month. The class is called "Four-Square Workshop - Using Photographs to Jump-Start Composition."

Here is the design that Pat shows on her website for the class.

In preparation for the class, we were asked to gather five to seven photographs that we were to print in three different sizes.  We will use a portion of one of the photos as a starting point, and then 'slash and burn' to construct a quilt, focusing on composition, how to read elements for line, contrast, repetition, and value.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? I understand there are still openings, if you are interested!

I, of course, picked out about 15 of my photos. Here are some of the possibilities I may take to the class:

I have always found Pat to be a source of great observations that have kept me on track with my own art. So, I am really looking forward to the class. Will keep you posted on how it goes!