Friday, January 13, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 01/13

Cat's eye view into the guest room
where my quilts are stored. They
are laying horizontally, one on top
of another on the bed.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

A question I see asked and answered by other fiber artists and quilters is "how do you store your work?" I'm impressed with people who opt to roll their work around pool noodles, slip the rolled work in a muslin bag closed with a drawstring, and hang a label on the bag. Some even go so far as to maintain an inventory sheet with a spot to mark where the quilt is located. Organization may be my middle name, but when it comes to storing work I am much, much looser than this system. With the exception of the 14 pieces I have hanging on the walls of our condo, 100% of my work is stored on top of a bed in a guest room off of my studio. The work is stored Princess and the Pea fashion with the oldest and or largest work on the bottom and the newer and smaller work on the top. Rarely do I need to go digging deep into the pile, since the majority of the time the only work I need for exhibition is on top or only a few pieces down. I cover everything from dust, cat fur, and light with spare bedspreads. Simple, effective and most importantly, it works for me.


All elements seen here
are permanently stitched
into position!
This is precisely how I approached my work this week. If it works. Don't mess with it. Since the deadline is fast approaching on the Call for Entry I will be submitting Where Have All the Flowers Gone? to, I simply pressed forward, as you can see:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Some day, but not this week.

2) Free motion quilting practice - Not this week

3) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done!

a) I reworked where the vines should cling to the tombstone, cut them to length and stitched them down.
b) I stitched hexagonal flowers together and stitched them in place.
c) I worked out the layout for the yo-yo flowers and stitched them together.

4) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

A field of yo-yo blooms tacked together
and ready to be stitched to the quilt
next week.
It was another week of learning what not to do, or more precisely wishing I could discover a better method. Stitching the yo-yo flowers together was a nightmare. I researched how to do this first by hand sewing and then by machine. Since yo-yos are circular and I want to sew them together in staggered uneven rows, keeping track of which yo-yo needed to be sewn to which yo-yo and where the junction should be was extremely difficult. I was more than happy to whipstitch them together by hand, I just couldn't keep track of the joints. I found a tutorial on using a "tack" stitch (not available on my machine) or very short length of satin stitch. It is was recommended to use a monofilament thread. Hate that stuff, but I did use it as my top thread and a blending, Bottom Line thread in the bobbin. Instead of tying off the threads or burying them in the yo-yos, I opted to stitch the tack and reverse stitch the tack, then trim the thread. If a few tacks unravel it won't be a big deal. There is no stress on them and even when I did pull tacked yo-yos away from each other, the stitching remained. Close enough. 

I'm really looking forward to putting those yo-yos to bed next week. The next step is to secure them to the quilt. That I can do! Maybe I will have time to get to a few more items on my list, too. I hope so. Here is the list:

1) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

2) Pot(s) made this week

3) Free motion quilting practice

4)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 1/06




I thought it would be fun to include
a view from my studio as a regular
feature of my blog. This yearling was
checking out the wisteria vine. It is hard
to tell from the photo, but the lake and
river are frozen solid again.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. This could be my motto. Sometimes the number of times I need to try again easily reaches double digits. One of these times is mastering bias presser bars. The link to the video I provided for how to create a bias tube makes the process look easy. It would be relatively easy if, and that should be IF you were making a stem no longer than the bias bar. The problem comes when you have seams in your tube. The bar gets caught at the seam, especially if you follow the directions on the package. Why? There is insufficient wiggle room to manipulate the bar through the tube and it gets hung up at the seams inside the tube. This time I made a slightly oversized tube, allowing a circumference with a 1/4" of wiggle room. The tube according to the directions would finish at a 1" circumference. Instead it finishes at 1 1/4". That bonus 1/4" gave me just enough room to manipulate the bar through the tube without ever getting hung up. Considering the tube was approximately 4 yards long with internal seams every 12" or less, it was pure joy to finally get it right.
Now you can see why I need so
many yards of stem/vine. I pinned
in it in place. Then changed my
mind. Time to try something else.

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not Yet.

2) Free motion quilting practice - Not Really

I didn't do any free motion quilting. However, I have been working on my satin stitch and blind hem stitch (both by machine) for securing the appliqués on my quilt. 

3) Do some surface design work - Not Done

4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done

I added the easel, hand stitched down the bias binding surrounding the Make Art panel, added NOT WAR and the thin line of blue satin stitch on three sides of the tombstone. I also tested out the first of ways to incorporate flowers and vines onto the piece.

5) Pot(s) made this week - Done

Back to its pre vine state.

The key for me when making pots is what did I learn from each pot made. Years of attempting to make bias stems taught me that the bias presser bar got hung up at internal seams. What eluded me was the solution on how to avoid this in the future. Opting not to make stems was only viable if I didn't need stems. Too bad the stems/vines didn't work. The lesson - they are too busy and distracting. Next week's pot making will be to try less distracting solutions.

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

4) Pot(s) made this week


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 12/30




Pot #1.
I used Press 'n Seal to mark the
quilting lines. The top thread was chosen as
the most likely to work on the actual quilt.
The bobbin thread was a dark purple.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Lucille Ball, shared, "I would rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done." I'm not one for bucket lists or New Year's resolutions, but Lucille's quip rings true to me, in my life and in how I approach my art. I have great admiration for artists who work in a series or have a daily art practice. That isn't me. I'm fueled by experimentation and play. If something comes from my work, fantastic! If not, well as least I enjoyed the journey, probably learned something, even if that something is what not to do. 

2017 will be a year of pot making for me. No, I am not switching mediums to become a ceramist. Nor will I be making fabric vessels. Instead I will be following the recommendation of the allegory shared in Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, on the importance of focusing on quantity over quality.
Pot #3.
I stayed with the same top thread,
but this time swapped out the bobbin thread
for a darker blue/green shade. I marked
the quilting lines with Solvy, which I attached
to the quilt with a border of masking tape. 

I am currently toying with various ways to approach pot making. Perhaps it will take the form of creating mini work, such as textile art journals (8.5" x 11" quilts) or other size restrictions. I have been thinking about seeing how many ways I could reproduce flowers in my work. There may be a series of 6" square floral pieces, for example. I may jump around from one idea to another. What I am determined not to do is have so much structure I find myself dreading making pots. Nor do I want to have so little structure I am stymied as to where to begin. 

Although I didn't technically start the process of making pots this week, I did more potting making than I can recall doing in the past in order to work out how I would quilt the angel of death on the tombstone featured in Where Have All the Flowers Gone? I did a bit more than this, as you can see:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not yet

2) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

This is where I made pots. First, I got back in the grove of FMQ by whipping out a simple floral all over motif I had been meaning to try. Next I experimented by using Press 'n Seal wrap for "marking" the design on fabric. The result was that I loved how easy it was to draw on the Press 'n Seal with a permanent fine point marker. Also, I really loved how it clung in place to the fabric. What I didn't like was how difficult it was to fully remove after the quilting was done. Good thing this was a sample. 😉 Next, I tried doing the same thing, but used Solvy AND, I quilted on the same fabric, with the same thread I planned on using for the quilt. This way I could see if the contrast was what I wanted. The advantage of Solvy is that those little pieces remaining after the majority have excess Solvy has been removed are easily dissolved in warm water. This required one more experiment. Before I used Solvy on the actually quilt, I verified that the fabrics I had used would not leech out dye if soaked in warm water. 

Should I go with the letters on a black
banner or a white banner was last
week's dilemma. I opted for black and
after fusing the letters surrounded them
with a satin stitch done in variegated
jewel tones. 
3) Do some surface design work - Done

I'm counting the FMQ as my surface design work, since it was closer to thread painting than FMQ. Tip: I did several things that when added up together eliminated the normal problem of shrinkage/puckering which occurs with thread painting. One, I had already stabilized the work by quilting the background. Two, I had fused the piece being thread painted to the quilt. Three, Solvy also acts as a stabilizer. 
4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done

I added the angel of death to the top of the tombstone, created the Make Art banner, finished making the flowers, and researched what font I would use for the words to be carved on the tombstone. 
5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open. - Done
I went into meltdown mode when I stepped back from the finished angel of death. There didn't seem to be sufficient contrast after all that experimentation. Panic. My husband suggested I go over the quilting with a darker thread. That might work. I relaxed and I was open to giving it a try. Then I turned on the lights over the design wall where the piece was hanging. Viola, the contrast is clear as long as there is light on the work. 
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
after this week's work.


The game plan will change next week as I begin my year of pot making. I am officially making myself accountable for the following:


1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song


2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

5) Pot(s) made this week


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 12/23

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

This is our tree in the
atrium after last week's
back to back snow storms.
My office overlooks this
blissful scene.
Simplify, simplify, simplify! That is my trick for making it through it the holiday flurries. Oh, when I think of what I used to take on, I cringe. It was as if I believed, like Santa Claus, I could tour the globe in a single night, and place presents in all the stockings and under every tree. Admittedly, I enjoyed the excuse to bake and make homemade gifts. The pressure, oh the pressure! Each passing year the enormity of tradition wore me down. I'm not sure when I started to reverse the trend. It certainly wasn't as easy as toggling a switch. Over time I simply did less and less. No more holiday baking. No more handmade gifts. No more cramming in 1, 2 or 3 social events for multiple days in a row. What is left? Christmas cards. I love sending them and receiving them. We still have two Christmas trees, one in our outdoor atrium and the other on the main floor landing of our stairwell. The brilliant new jewel tone colors of the LED mini lights make me smile. With everyone else overwhelmed trying to do it all my "work" emails have been practically non existent this week. Oh joy! Oh rapture!

By simplifying my Christmas preparations and having a husband who picks up the slack, I have been blessed with my first week of three solid studio days in several years. I enjoyed every single minute. Here is what I did with my time:

 
1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Some day. Just not this week.

2) Free motion quilting practice - No
The flowers will be "planted" below the
tombstone in an area approximately
12" H x 30" W. In order to figure out if I
have made enough, and if not what should
I make to fill the space, I laid the flowers out
on my cutting board. This way I can fiddle
with the arrangement, too! 

I did review a few potential free motion quilting designs and contemplated others in my head for a panel I will be adding to Where have All the Flowers Gone?

3) Do some surface design work - Done

I should probably rephrase that item as surface design/embellishment. I worked on my embellishments for Where have All the Flowers Gone? I'm having so much fun making two types of gathered embellishments. One is a yo-yo, the other is a multi petaled flower which I am topping with yo-yos. The trickiest flower, but well worth the angst, is the folded hexagon flower with beads covering the raw edges in the center. 


The question last week was how to
get those letters noticed since the eye
is drawn to the flowers and the contrast
between the letters and the background
was not strong. I played with two options.
One is placing them on a solid black panel.
The other option is placing
them on a white panel with
a black binding? Both are
on my design board. Feel
free to share your preference
or other ideas.


 























5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open. - Done

This image hints at what the
letters on black might look like
when actually attached to the
quilt.
I spent my junior year abroad in London. Lucky me! It was there I came to enjoy a cuppa, especially first thing with breakfast or at the transitional time between the work day and before it was time for dinner. I tried a handful or more of different kinds of teas that year. I've tried even more since then. However, I've become stuck on English Breakfast tea and had turned my back on Earl Grey. I was in desperate need for that rich milky, sweet, caffeinated cuppa yesterday. All I had in an English Breakfast was decaffeinated. I brewed a pot of Earl Grey. What a treat! Now, I am wondering why I gave it up.

What I won't give up on is carving out time to spend in my studio next week. I'm eager to start moving everything from off quilt to on quilt to see if my ideas will work together. Doing this will involve nearly everything in the following plan:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 12/16




Perseverance pays off as I begin
the progress of adding the
foreground over the background
to Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

It has occurred to me that there is a strong connection between perseverance and staying open. These are both traits I admire and work on developing. It can be so tempting to quit, to throw in the towel, to just give up and move on to something easier. This is especially true when trying something new. How I hate being inept. I rant. I weep. I am a jumble of prickly nerves. Why put myself through such torture? The answer, often allusive in the heat of the moment, is really quite simple. It is because of the euphoria of accomplishment. Just because figuring out the instructions for a knitted knocker or developing a graffiti font to use on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? is inconsequential compared to climbing Mt. Everest or making a scientific breakthrough worthy of receiving a Nobel Prize, doesn't mean it is any less thrilling for me. 

My week required patience, perseverance and practice. It was so, so tempting to give up. I didn't, as you can see:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not done

2) Free motion quilting practice - Done, sort of

Several styles of 3D flowers border
the gravestone. They make me smile. I opted
to use Clover's YoYo makers for expediency's
sake. They are a very quick to work up yo-yos.
I did quilt. Instead of free motion quilting, I opted to stitch in the ditch. I find this more difficult than free motion quilting. FMQ is far more forgiving. When I used to press my seams to the dark side the height differential between the triple layer of fabric (two seam allowances and the "piece") and the single layer of fabric (just the piece) made staying in the ditch and "hiding" the ditch stitching easier. I prefer a flatter overall appearance, so always press my seams open. This means that when stitching in the ditch stitch accuracy is imperative. My precision piecing falls into the category of close enough. I don't obsess over it. However, this means that if you were to hang a plumb line along one of my vertical seams, you would quickly see sections on one side or the other of plumb. Therefore, when quilting along such a meandering line, patience, coupled with letting go of the occasional deviation is vital. 
The letters aren't popping quite the way
I thought they would. I will be problem
solving how to make them more obvious.
My first thought is to run a solid line of
satin stitch around them. The question is
what color? Red, black, or rainbow
variegated? Clearly, some of my next
week will be spent experimenting.

3) Do some surface design work - Done

I have spent the past month dipping into Pinterest boards, pinning tutorials which grabbed my eye. I found myself drawn to yo-yos and other ways to make three-dimensional flowers. These scream '60s flower power adapted for quilts, to me.
4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done

The front side of this knocker is nearly done.
Not bad for an amateur knitter. 
Why, oh why do my easy projects always take such diabolical turns? Once again, I found myself in learning mode as I tried my hand at yo-yos and the most difficult of all, designing a graffiti font of my very own. 
5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open. - Done

I spent several days on several projects struggling close to the breaking point. The first was "starting" my knitted knockers. There were several new stitches to add to my lexicon. Then there was the font. After an obscene number of hours trolling the internet, trying out ideas free hand, moving to design attempts on EQ7, back to more internet trolling and finally back to guided (on tracing paper over graph paper) free hand, I finally was satisfied with my lettering.

I am hoping to enjoy the fruits of my perseverance next week on the following projects:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Continue working on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 12/09

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques: 


The view from our condo at 6:40 a.m.
When I came downstairs from the bedroom level, to the main floor level of our condo, I was startled to see the scene out on the lake. We have started to go into, what I refer to as, deep freeze season, here in Appleton, Wisconsin. This is when the temperatures stay permanently below 0º C/ 32º F. This means our lake starts freezing over. Eventually, the river at the opposite side of the lake will freeze as well. 

Every morning, as dawn is breaking, the geese who have overnighted just west of us on the lake, start to gather in front of our condo. With more and more ice and less and less water the amount of open water to gather diminishes. What may be difficult to see (try right clicking on the images for an enlarged view) is just how many hundreds of geese have come together this morning.


Similar view from the condo taken one
hour later. Odd, the geese are still here.
What is the life of a goose like? I tend to think of it as simple. What do I really know? Still from what I observe, they sleep, gather, fly off to local fields for food, fly back and sleep. There is bound to be more, but this seems to be the basics.

I realize I am drawn to cyclical things. One of my earliest memories of enjoyment from a simple cycle was the song, There's a Hole In the Bucket. In my last post I mentioned my current work in progress is inspired by Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The same cyclical format is used, but in a much more serious way.

How can I convey the cyclical message in the song in a single image caught on a quilt? I'm not someone who maintains an art journal with inspiration, sketches and swatches, while I work. Mostly I just stay tuned to my thoughts, researching what I need, saving links and images from internet. One way I plan to bring cohesiveness to the piece is to focus on the '60s, a time of OpArt and flower children. This is why I have started with an OpArt background of my own design.


There is was little time between travel and holiday prep to attend to things in the studio. I did manage some progress on my current piece, but not much else, as you can see.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
The "window" in the middle will be
covered with a tombstone. 
1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not yet

2) Free motion quilting practice - No time

3) Do some surface design work - No time

4) Continue piecing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? - Done!

Not only did I finish piecing the background, it has been fused to batting and backing. I want to do some stitch in the ditch quilting before adding all the appliqué I have in mind. It should go faster this way.

I am testing SpunFab as my fusible for this piece. It is similar in appearance to MistyFuse, but costs about 30% less. It is the go to fusible for museums restoring textiles. Betty Busby, whose textile work is amazing, recommended it. 
5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open. - Done!

One of my friends, who lives back east, shared that she has been making knitted knockers.  How could I have missed this fact? This a the type of project I gravitate to in my spare time. I am not a confident knitter. The pattern for the knockers (breast prosthetics) has several stitches not in my repertoire, but I refused to be deterred. I have found a local yarn shop and  plan to visit them to tomorrow. I will pick up the necessary supplies and I hope some pointers about how to do those stitches I have never done before. 


Next I must continue to work on Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, but I also intend to start my first knocker. 😉 If there is any more time there are a few other items on my list to focus on.

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Continue piecing Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 11/25


Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

"Freedom from Want"
by Norman Rockwell
It is common place to diminish our own accomplishments while looking enviously and admiringly on other's achievements and accolades. It is only a small step from there to "why bother?" My mother's words spoken to me more frequently than I would like to admit, ring true, "comparisons are odious." I might rephrase that to comparisons are poisonous. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at our home yesterday. I imagined others around the States doing the same. In my mind every home contained a Norman Rockwell perfect scene. Has there ever been a Thanksgiving feast to match or rival this one, from perfect turkey to conviviality? We chose to stay home versus travel 1,200 miles to be with family. We hosted another couple - she is vegan. We did the best we could and it was good enough. 

Each Friday, I type up my blog, share my own accomplishments, and link to several other blogs and Facebook groups. This gives me the opportunity to see what my fellow artists are up to. Wow, are they talented and so, so accomplished with international teaching circuits, multiple published books, and sharing which of the works have sold or won awards. It is so tempting to compare myself with these luminaries and feel lacking. 

I've started to piece the
background for Where
Have All the Flowers
Gone?
My goal is to
maintain a '60s feel.
This OpArt design is
a good beginning.
What truly matters? What do I have to be thankful for? Quite a bit, really. I will zip past health, family and friends, all of that is a given. What matters to me, is I get great satisfaction from the creative process and enjoy sharing my delight with others. One accomplishment I am very proud of is being selected as the Featured Artist on the online gallery, Light Space & Time. I believe I am the first fiber artist ever selected for this honor. 

One thing is clear, there would be no accomplishments if I didn't do the work. How fortunate doing the work is one of my favorite pastimes. Even with a shortened week I managed to do the following:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song - Not Yet

2) Free motion quilting practice - None

3) Do some surface design work - Done

4) Complete the design for my next piece - Done

My day just doesn't feel complete unless
I take an hour or so to do some hand
embroidery. This week I had fun learning
the Alternate Chain Stitch. That is
the partially completed section to the
far right. It requires two different threads
through one needle. Since I opted to
use similar variegated threads it isn't always
easy to tell that the chain links are alternating.
You will just have to trust me.
5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open. - Done

The choice to host a vegan for Thanksgiving presented a challenge. Part of me felt like tossing in the towel with a "not my problem" attitude. Instead of shutting down or ignoring the situation, I opted to go a recipe hunt. A delicious and surprising discovery were zucchini chips. These were deemed "better than potato chips" by my vegan friend. I agree. 

The holidays are looming and I have plans to travel some next week, so time in the studio will be precious. I will make time and when I get the spare minute this is what I plan to focus on:

1)  Attach a sleeve to Siren's Song

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Continue piecing Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

5) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open.


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.