Friday, March 24, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 03/24


Now that the clocks have been set
an hour ahead, this is the view
from my studio when I open the
curtains and settling in to work.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques: 

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of being read to, even after I had learned to read myself. My mother would read Grimm's Fairy Tales, to me and my brother. Many of these are fairy tales we all grew up on. Other books I listened to are more obscure. A favorite, which my third grade teacher read to the class during rest period, was The Trouble With Jenny's Ear. As an adult, I still love being read to, or more precisely listening to audio books. I particularly treasurer stumbling upon a book which takes me by surprise by exceeding my expectations. When you listen and/or read 150 books a year, happening upon a stellar book is uncommon. I admit, I have love of books told from varying perspectives, coming of age stories, and set in high school. No surprise, a favorite is Up the Down Staircase. I can recommend it with zero hesitation. My current "school" genre read is The Most Dangerous Place on Earth. The story is set in a contemporary school system full of privileged students. The strength of the book is how the narrative is carried forward by various characters in turn, the spot on voices of the students, teachers and parents, and the character development.
The two bees needing finishing
touches are the ones without
antennae and stingers.

Yesterday, when it was time to move on to the next book available on my audio list, I wasn't expecting to be captivated by The Most Dangerous Place on Earth. I wasn't even sure why I had placed it on my wait list. I'm so glad I did. Much as I enjoy the repetition which naturally comes with fiber art, it can get boring. Add a good book and it is easy to stay behind the sewing machine outlining bees. Only two more to go and then I can move on to other parts of this project.

Once again, I feel as though I accomplished much this week, but have little to show for it, as my list reflects:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3 - Done!

I cut out, assembled, fused, outlined and secured twelve more bees and have just the securing of two more left to do. I secure each piece of the bee with satin stitch and while doing so, add the stinger and antennae. Not bad, considering each bee represents approximately 90 minutes of work.  
How the piece looked when
I stopped working on it this week.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not Yet

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

Those bees have been a great pot making learning experience when it comes to creating small fusible appliqué elements. 

4) Free motion quilting practice - Not this week.

I am eager to move past bees and onto other aspects of this piece, sort of. I am struggling with a banner/label I want to place on the hive. The issue is how to create small legible writing on a curved line. Handwriting the text is out. I've played in Photoshop Elements, EQ 7 and MS Word. I haven't found anything which will allow me to place text on a curved line. If you have a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

When I am not struggling with text options I will turn my attention to:

1) Work on  Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3


2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

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, March 17, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 03/17




It was warmth on Thursday to step outside
and take a photo of the view to the south.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

It's been another scattered week. Where has my focus gone? I feel as though I am leap frogging from one false start to another. The end result of my studio time appears more together than the emotions surrounding the work. Why? I think it is because although I am making progress I have a creative problem without a viable solution. Until I have a solution, that problem clouds my ability to sense the progress. I know I need to push through, to try, to test, and eventually something will come to me. One motivator is to sit down, as I am doing now, and record my week's work. It is a reminder of challenges I have overcome.

This week I:

Detail from Picking up the Pieces #3
1) Worked on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #3

I added a few more bees to Picking Up the Pieces #3. The bees are getting easier to stitch down as I develop a rhythm and standard stitching path.

2) Didn't finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Made pot(s) 

The bees are a perfect example of making pots. The more I make, the more I learn about whether it is best to cut out pieces in a clockwise or counter clockwise direction. The answer is counter clockwise, because  it gives me a better view of where I am cutting. I've been honing my "stinger" stitching skills. I've discovered I like to free motion stitch down the circumference of each bee first, then swap feet and finish with a satin stitch. 
My eighth knitted knocker

I have continued to make knitted knockers. This week I finished my eighth one. The beginning rounds, absolutely diabolically difficult for the first five or so knockers, are now stitching out much more easily. I no longer need to check the pattern to see what to do when. Most exciting of all, I have stuffed a knocker for the first time and HURRAH, the stitches are tight enough that the stuffing doesn't beard.

4) And even managed some free motion quilting practice

The challenge I referred to in the beginning is how to best introduce twenty-two names into Picking Up the Pieces #3. Should I free motion quilt them? Write them with a fine point pen? Should they be subtle, stitched in clear monofilament? Should I create them off quilt on a scroll, which I later attach to the quilt? Would they make more sense to appear in the background, on each bee, or on the hive? I tested one idea and learned what NOT to do. 
The most successful part of this experiment
is how using metallic thread was problem free.
I swapped out my standard #70 needle
for a #90, thus providing a large eye for the
thread to pass through.

Clearly, more testing is needed next week. When I am not testing ways to add the names I will give myself a respite from the struggle by working on the following:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

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, March 10, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 03/10




Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:


Check out the stripes in Lola's fur. They are
an excellent example of variable repetition.
I've been thinking about repetition this week. It is one of the principles of design. I have learned my preference is for variable repetition. In other words I like to repeat elements, but vary them in some way. Although, I still have quite a ways to go with Picking Up the Pieces #3, I can already see variable repetition occurring consciously  and sub-consciously. It began with the honeycomb background made from a single tessellated block, the hexagon. The variety is due to using nine differing fabrics placed in random order. Next up is the bee hive, built with stacked, curved rectangles of diminishing length. Now I am working on the bees. I have drawn out three different bees, representing different angles of flight. I have resized the drawings so that the bees vary in scale from 3" to 5". 
Progress to date on
Picking Up the Pieces #3.

One of the tools I depend on to do work of this sort is my printer. I love how I can create a pencil drawing, trace over it with a permanent black pen, scan it into my computer using my printer and store it as .pdf. Once I have the .pdf I can print the drawing out any size I want. My original bees are approximately 8" in length. In order to get a 3" bee, I simply divide 3 by 8 and get 0.375. I set the printer scale to 37% (could be 38%, or even 40% or 35%, it doesn't have to be exact.) and viola - a 3" bee.

This week I managed to print out the various scaled patterns and even create my first bee. That isn't all I did, as you can see:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3 - Done!

Finally, I finished piecing the over 400 half hexagons which make up the background. I have moved on to creating the foreground.
Close up of the bee

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not yet.

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

I am continuing to work on various appliqué techniques. Picking Up the Pieces #3 is particularly good for this. The hive is large enough where it made sense to turn under the edges for a smooth finish. The bees, especially one 3" in length made up of eleven different pieces is far to fussy to do anything but fuse. When I fuse appliqué pieces my preference is to finish the edge with satin stitch. I set my machine for a vary narrow satin stitch and used Superior's Bottom Line thread. I don't want the stitching to overwhelm those tiny pieces. 

Most weeks I try my hand at an EQ 7 tutorial.
I find it helps me gain a better comfort level
with the application. I'm finally getting to a point
where I can take a lesson, learn from it, but
do my own thing. 
4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I spent 30 minutes or so doing some more pebbling. 

Next week will be a repetition with some variety of this week. I have approximately 14 more bees to cut out, fuse and stitch down. They may be small, but they do take several hours each. Hopefully, the more I make the faster I will get. If I need a break, I have several other things to work on such as:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

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, March 3, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 03/03




Guns: Loaded Conversations is the
most recent SAQA call for entry.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Many of my posts subtly or not so subtly suggest a primary reason for my not putting in as much studio time as I hoped for each week is due to my responsibilities as Chair of SAQA's Exhibition Committee. Why do I put so much time and effort into this volunteer job which clearly pulls me away from spending unfettered hours in my studio? When the going is tough and demanding, this is a question I ask myself. Is it worth it? The answer is a resounding yes. 

One of the reasons it is worth it is because of the call for entry uploaded to SAQA's website this week. It is for an exhibition titled Guns: Loaded Conversations. The premise of this exhibition is to use art as catalyst to conversation. It will not be an exhibit with a single perspective on guns. Instead work accepted into the exhibit will be selected because it starts or responds to one of multiple conversations on the topic of guns. Those conversations could be about guns as a right of passage, used for hunting, their place in history, as part of a prized collection, for protection, and yes, used in acts of violence. 

Look who was looking in at me as I
worked in my studio this week.
Guns: Loaded Conversations will premiere at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in April 2018. The museum is large enough that we are able to include work which meets SAQA's definition of an art quilt be it 2D, 3D, on stretcher bars, framed, installations, wearable and even video.  

An exhibit of this nature takes the time and talents of many people to pull together. Kudos will go to the artists whose work make up the exhibit and to the museums which showcase it. They should also go to the unsung people behind the scenes who flesh out the theme, handle the computer side of things, design the logo, write and proof the prospective and so much more. I stay as Chair of the SAQA Exhibition Committee because it is an honor and delight to work with such a dedicated and talented group of SAQA volunteers and staff with the courage to tackle difficult topics through art.

Look at all
those half hexagons
I managed to piece.
Despite the final work required to get the Guns: Loaded Conversations prospectus to the point where it could be uploaded to SAQA's site, I was able to spend a couple days in my studio this week. First I cut just over 400 half hexagons and then beginning the process sewing them together. Thank you to LeeAnna Paylor, who reminded me there is a way to sew hexagons without the Y seam.  I treated myself to the Fons and Porter Hexagon Ruler. What I love about it is it gives you the strip width to cut for a range of hexagons and half hexagons. Also, the way the ruler aligns with the strip the alignment notch is automatically cut. In other words there is no need to mark the seam allowance or pin adjoining pieces together or as I have done in the past, make my best guess, but only be accurate about 75% of the time.

Here is how the week went:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3 - Done!

Actually this is basically all I did this week. Cutting out 400 half hexagons and sewing together more than 200 of them takes time.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not this week.

3) Pot(s) made this week - You bet

I'm half way through piecing the hexagons
for Picking Up the Pieces #3. Don't the
seams align nicely?
There is nothing like cutting and piecing all those half hexagons to fine tune one's ability to work with hexagons.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Just couldn't squeeze it in.

I am looking forward to finishing up the hexagon background so I can move on to the next phase of this quilt. The current plan is appliqué the foreground to honeycomb background next. Hopefully, I will have time to work on a few other items on my list, too.


1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice



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.