Saturday, October 20, 2012

Got my MoJo back!

I have been having a number of very good days in the studio.

I started a class given online by Elizabeth Barton on creating a series through Quilt University. I have long been an admirer of her work and since I have been off my art lately, I felt this would be a good thing to do in order to get me focused again.

Her lessons have been good, especially helpful for me are the parts about starting a series and how to create a series.  I did a number of exercises to warm up and have settled on a series now called "Intersecting Triangles". Originally I did a bunch of thumb nails and then did a bunch of paper collages using various shades and tints from black to white. Then, last week while I was in Pacific Grove for six days, I did 14 small fused samples that are 6 x 6". So when I returned home I rushed out and bought three shades of gray cotton and washed it and was ready to do.  Ironed fusing on and away I went, cutting backing, batting and various shades of background fabric. Thursday I had gotten one piece that is 22 x 22" fused.

Today I did the quilting on it and then did the cutting and fusing on number 2, and quilted it.  Both still need to have their binding put on.  And then I started in on number 3, cutting, fusing, and then quilting.  I am half way there on the quilting.

 This is number 1 which was done exactly like the small sample which was 6 x 6.

And this is number 2.  I am really having fun with these and have tons of ideas of ways to take this series.  I am also enjoying working in black and white instead of color, for a change, but the series will grown to incorporate color and printed fabrics.  We will have to see just where this all goes.

I have also been busy getting the facings done on this quilt which is rather large.  It is fused and then very heavily stitched.  The shapes have satin stitching around them.
And,this is my Grand Canyon Topo is almost six feet tall.  The green is the Colorado River which has created the canyons.  It was great fun to go back to the Grand Canyon a couple of weeks ago and have my sense of color confirmed.  I used strips of hand dyed fabrics in colors I have seen at the Grand Canyon, and then, working from an actual topographical map I started stitching.  This was started last fall before I broke by arm.  Then when I was ready to start working on it again, I couldn't find it after the move from my Oakland studio to my new home studio.  When I did find it again, Doug had broken his leg to it took me a while to figure out where I had left off on the map but I am so happy it is finished.

So, the ideas are flowing, the time is working, I am very healthy and eager to work.  What could be better than that!

I have noticed on my stats that I have a large number of visitors from Russia.  This fascinates me. If you are one of those visitors, would you please leave a comment?  I would love to find out how you got here!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Joyful Week

I have spent the past five days with a very nice group of about 30 women who get together each year at Asilomar for our own retreat.  We arrived on Sunday to beautiful weather, got settled in and started sewing.

I did not want to work on any original art as I find it too distracting in a room with a lot of people.  So I sewed pastel squares together to make a quilt for my niece's two year old daughter who never got a baby quilt from me.  She is also expecting another baby so I need to get a baby quilt made for that one too.  But I did finish Emi's quilt top and it won't take long to sandwich it and quilt it and send it on its way.

Monday was again absolutely beautiful and we took a short road trip into Pacific Grove to Back Porch Fabrics to load up on fabric we didn't need.  But I found some of the Sagritto line fabric and decided that I would do something with it.  So bought a bunch and away I went for the next twelve hours and got that top made by Tuesday morning.  Another beautiful day! 

Another field trip to another fabric store to see what else we didn't need.  Found some fun fabrics for a baby quilt and who knows what else but it sure was pretty.  Came back and finished up a simple top using a bunch of Kaffee Fassett fabrics that I had made a small quilt top with last year (and just quilted a week ago!) but this is very different and is in the "Modern Quilt", lots of white and a very simple design.  Then decided it was time to start working on some studies for my class with Elizabeth Barton.

Instead of doing collages in paper, I started doing a series of small quiltlets that are 6 x 6 inches on have either a black, white, or gray background and use only one circle and triangles of different shades of black to white (which just includes three shades of grey).  Did a bunch and then stopped to listen to Gail from Back Porch Fabrics as she came to show us some new stuff, including a scarf made from sari silk which needed to be ironing and then attached to a sticky water soluble sheet and then stitched.  Got mine done and rinsed out and even dried. I did the scarf today.  And then I started another one...this time using shot cotton which I tore into strips and will then lay out the same way at home.

Wednesday was another beautiful day and we spent some time wandering along the coast line in Pacific Grove which is just stunning.  Then back to sewing and working on various projects.

We got some rain and thunder and lightening on Thursday but it was still pretty nice.  The evenings have been cool but the days have been absolutely delicious!  The food is good and we get a brisk little  1/4 mile hike to get our food three times a gets us off of our chairs.

Did some more of my triangle exercises and will post them after I get home and can take pictures and upload them.  I am having fun thinking about all the what ifs? and then trying them out.

Tomorrow morning we leave and return home.  After dropped off my three friends, I will need to do some fast laundry, pack up, find some food and load my husband, grandson Ashton and I in to the motorhome and then we take off for the weekend at Yosemite.  My daughter, her husband and our other grandson Jacob will be going also, just a little bit later.  What a wonderful time to be there.  They will be returning home on Sunday and who knows if we might stay an extra day or not.  I do feel the sewing machine calling me at home and tomorrow night I get another lesson from Elizabeth Barton so I won't be able to download it until we do get home.

Look for bunches of photos of what I have been doing early next week! Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Monday, October 01, 2012


It is now October and I have been away from my blog for the past ten months.  I have felt some guilt but then I knew that no one would be interested in the trivial doings of my life this past period of time.

As I was starting to get back on my feet with the use of my arm again, I had started working on a new piece based on a topographical map of a part of the Grand Canyon. Fitting a part of the Grand Canyon required a fairly big piece which this is.  But then,

My husband, in a fit of trying to get work down on the construction of the new garage and studio, was up working at 10 pm one night and, instead of moving the ladder over, he reached over, lost his balance and fell 8 feet to the floor, shattering one lower bone and breaking the other.  This resulted in a trip by ambulance to the hospital, and then a couple of days stay after surgery.  He returned home in great pain and trying to lay down on the couch but could not get comfortable.  So, it was time to move a recliner into the living room as well as to get a small TV.

One week later from the break, he was back in the ambulance headed to emergency because of severe pain in his back.  He had developed about 15 pulmonary embolisms which required another stay in the hospital and blood thinners.  Then I had to keep my patience for the next couple of months before he became much more mobile and could get around with crutches.  Of course there was home nursing care for a while, home physical therapy appointments and visits from the clinic that supervises the blood thinners.  Once he could get around the down two steps with his crutches, it was time to take him back and forth to all the appointments.  Needless to say, not much got done around here.

But time marched on, he healed, but still can't walk for long, and I started back to working on my art. But I found myself blocked.  I worked periodically on the Grand Canyon which has tons of stitching in it but my shoulder would tire.

So, not able to settle down into art, I started moving into my new studio and with the help to two strong young men and a big truck, we made two trips from the Oakland studio to home and they were able to get everything upstairs.  I had already had a Ikea-putting-together party when we got lots of shelving, and cabinets built with the help of great friends and my two helpers!

Then it was time to start organizing and getting things put away.  It was nice until I started moving things in from my old studio at home which still held a lot of stuff!

Still couldn't get into making art so I made two baby blankets for the granddaughter-to-be, and started cleaning out a bin that was full of partially made panel quilts, etc and just started quilting them.  Nothing fancy, some pieced things, some printed panels, some old class work, etc.  But it felt good to see the pile grow.  I still have about ten more to finish after finishing about ten of them.  The finished ones will go to various people and are also great to hang on to for the baby that shows up around church.

And then we were off in July for a seven week journey to Michigan and back for the birth of our granddaughter, Myrnaleah.  We wandered through northern California, the eastern side, eastern Oregon and Washington, and then traveled on US 2 which is just below the Canadian border. Went through the panhandle of Idaho, into Montana, through North Dakota and into Minnesota and dropped down to the cabin of a cousin to spend several days on the lake.  Then off to the north coast of MN, across Wisconsin, and into the upper peninsula of Michigan. Our granddaughter was born while we were up there but by C Section so we took our time headed down to Lakeview, northeast of Grand Rapids.  We arrived and the other grandmother had to return to work.  This was her first grandchild so we felt we really didn't need to rush since she was there.  We stayed for two weeks and just enjoyed ourselves and got to know this sweet little girl.

And then we headed home via Rout 66 through Illinois, Missouri, 13 miles of Kansas, Oklahoma, the panhandle of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and back to California.  We have now settled back in to home and I am still trying to get moved in to the new studio...this will take a while.  But I have finished the Grand Canyon and another pieces but both are awaiting their finishing hand sewing of the facings.

To get myself jump started and to get that focus and disciple back, I am taking Elizabeth Barton's online class through Quilt University about working in series.  It is fun to be back in a class setting and seeing all the ideas the other students bring to the group.  There is a lot of sharing of websites about various artists off all sorts of media and I am really enjoying this.  I am also enjoying the structure and exercises we have been doing...feels good to get back into that groove.

But, during all this time I have been doing a bunch of paper collages as creative exercises. I have an art magazine which has beautiful heavy paper with lots of announcements about shows which use wonderful colors in their displays.  I have been tearing these papers out as I go since the magazine is over half an inch thick and this gets rid of some of the paper and our of my house.  I have kept inspiration notebooks for years and always clip things that I like to paste into the books.

So, I thought I would share a few of these collages.  None are for sale, they are all done in a sketchbook and are back to back so I would not even think about selling them as I was working.
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Just fun things to do...usually torn paper. there is a shadow on one side from the scanner.  I am reminded of how much a prefer things that are clean and simple.