Thursday, May 30, 2019

Those itsy bitsy teeny tiny stars

     I have been making wonky stars from scraps and 2" assorted white/creams for a long time as leader/enders. My granddaughter arranges the block and I press it on freezer paper until I can web sew them. I have over 100. But I could not find a way to arrange them that was not repetitive and monotonous. On Pinterest, I found a large star quilt that had a circular arrangement and I said, aha, that is it.
    I figured out the placement and have to sew more plain squares in threes for it to work. I will make a large circle block and then more so I can sew the circle blocks into a top.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Trying not to grumble

     I am one of those persons, when I fall in love with a pattern, I buy it. I want to support the designer and cut out the math busywork. Most times I am disappointed in the description, diagrams and depth of instruction. I know it is hard to write patterns. Last year, it took me months to write a Mystery pattern for my guild. I worked so hard on it and few made it, that I gave it to Alycia to use for her Mystery Quilt for QOV. I have no desire to write another. Explaining and drawing out every detail is time consuming and tedious. I get it. 
     When I buy a pattern, I want it to be specific on how to piece the block together and how to sew all the blocks into the whole. I don't want only a schematic of blocks, but piecing order instructions, and cutting instructions/diagrams if tricky.
    Last week, I bought two patterns. Neither spelled out the details. One pattern is a derivative of Jack's Chain and was very frustrating. It was not a cheap pattern and it did not include piecing order directions. It is a y-seam/partial seam block. I saw a finished quilt on the designer's blog and fell in love. The pattern page has this quilt on it. But when I downloaded the pattern, that variation was not mentioned. I tried to adapt the instructions, but did not realize until it was too late that the 9 patch order would have to be reversed, so I have a useless block.
    I did contact the designer and told her my problem. She did not address the issue, but said that quilt was not part of pattern instruction and there was enough info to piece it. 
     I am plannng to use Kaffe scraps, make all the nine patches as leader/enders and then deal with piecing order.  Maybe by then I will figure it out.
Nine patches are wrong- have to have the light square in the center which is opposite the instructions

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Partial, y seams and assorted

     Over a week ago, my co-chair in programming at my guild and I did an all day workshop on y seams and partial seams for our guild. We did hexagons- made a Tumbling block placemat and coaster and also wanted to teach the inset tile block. We ran behind because people did not precut the fabric as per handout instructions, so we lost about an hour and were only able to demonstrate the tile block. The block is called Scrappy Bow Tie by Rita from Red Pepper Quilts. However, I redesigned it so it would use 5" blocks, perfect to use up charm packs. We also made a unique way to cut the angle for the tiles. We also made marking templates from the cheap cutting mats from the dollar store.
      I don't think the cool color blocks are going to mesh with the warm ones. I may have to make two separate quilts. I think a 1" finished white border may look like grout and could improve the quilt.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

It bloomed!

     My colorwash, that is. I finished the seams and now have to hunt for a backing. I will  quilt this on my Singer 301, not the longarm. Not sure how yet. This was a result of Wanda's Colorwash 360 online class. Sign up for her blog. 
     I have been collecting floral squares for a long time. I wish it could have been bigger. It is 17 rows by 17 rows, so about 34 x 34 when finished. And a bizillion hours.
     I am happy with it. It is staying with me.
Columns clipped on tray

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Four for the Basket

     Four done baby quilts for Jack's Basket. I used scraps donated, partially done blocks donated, and some stash. The backs were given to me also. I tried to quilt two at a time on the longarm (different backs next to each other and it was a bit challenging). These are for the Hands2Help challenge sponsored by Sarah Craig.
     You can go to the link and see all the other quilts people have made. I had other tops for another charity, but I could not get them quilted in time. Now, I have to get these packed up and shipped out. I enjoyed making them and I hope they give the recipients some smiles.




Friday, May 17, 2019

99 pieces of scraps on the wall, 99 scraps on the wall

     Actually there are more than 99 pieces of scraps, but that boring song was all could think of when repeatingly moving colorwash squares. You might have to be a genius to solve a Rubik's cube, but there is only one right answer. In a colorwash, it moves along a spectrum of getting better. Not knowing when to stop moving it around is difficult. 
     For days, I have moved, added, scrounged up a few new squares, rearranged the trays, and taken photos. I think I found a place on the spectrum I needed to stop because it was not improving any more to my eye. This is part of the Colorwash 360 class by Wanda. The amount of information, helps, and insight in the class is staggering- all done online. I have not ever taken an online class before that really pushed me ahead in understanding, technique, and competency. So, it was time to stop. Now the columns are all numbered with painters tape, ready to take down and clip ready to sew by webbing.
     I need to find a better setup to photograph because the colors really do blend and are not choppy like the photo. I bought some new lights, but can't find proper stands. You have to trust me on the color blends. 
Last layout, I'm done
 Black and white shows value shifts
Taped numbers on top columns ready to take down

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Train 'em young

     I am gifted with a granddaughter (age 7) who loves to color and draw. She asked me to draw some flowers with her on the driveway for spring. I am always stocked with chalk.

     Then she asked me if it was a quilt back, how could it be designed, so we drew these out. B is for back. Background fabric colors and design added. All her idea.

     Finally, she designed a front and now expects me to make it. F is for front. Yikes. How does she do that so easily and I sweat over graph paper?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Finishes come slowly

     There is too much to do in so little time. I am sorting scraps and  cleaning out the backlog of them in my garage. Grand kid sitting, cardio rehab, and non-sewing duties quickly diminish available time. I have 4 baby quilts to do for Jack's Basket by next Sunday. Two are quilted, two are on the longarm. The Diagonal Variation quilt sat on the longarm for over a month and finally was done. All have striped bindings, done. The OBW octagons finally got a border, but needs quilting. My floral colorwash is still being tweaked on the design wall. I am not a good multi-tasker, so it goes slowly.

The sewing machine is a phony- it is a planter. I finally brought it back outside after winter.
It has a succulent planted in the tray.

With border fabric, black on black octagons, couldn't resist

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Rain, rain go away

     The weather has been very wet. And cold. And I think we only had 2 dry days in a row for over a month. The trees are very slow to leaf out. I know many areas of the country have way more wet weather, but the grayness gets to you. Thankfully, the tulips have come up and opened. The cool weather has them hang around a bit longer. There is a limited blue sky time to photo them before the gray rolls in again. 
      Tulips are my favorite flower, but in big groups. I buy mine from White Flower Farm and get the assorted Darwin perennials. My husband makes little cages of hardware cloth for the bulbs to foil the squirrels. So, if you need a dose of spring, follow below.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Reflections of not just water

     The week after Easter, my grandkids were off school, so on a nice sunny day (rare lately), we took them to Reinstein Woods, which is less than a half hour away, but I had never taken the time to visit. I heard they had lily ponds! Ok, I know it is early for them to be out, but I wanted to see if the place was worth dragging painting stuff there in the future.
      While my grandkids were delighted to see snakes (not me), heron, turtles, dragonflies, and hawks, I was thrilled to see ponds with water lily leaves surfacing. As I took photos of the landscape with wonderful reflections, I reflected on my own artwork.
See those red leaves poking up? Waterlily leaves!!
      I am inspired, like I am many times, by my watercolor teacher, Jody Ziehm. Last class, she shared her story of how she painted many nights while her young children were in bed. She always worked very hard, teaching herself and pushing her art in new ways. Her work continues to grow and refine.
     Like so many, I dabbled in all kinds of art media, always being told to experiment, try new stuff, combine media, abstract it all, but my heart was always in watercolor painting and fabric. I set those aside for working in graphic design/advertising and then teaching public school art. I amassed an arsenal of different tools and stuff, but when I had to retire from teaching, I ran to watercolor and quilting. Slowly, all the other media stuff is being given away when I can find it a home. What was it that stopped me from pursuing what I really love doing?
      Some was my reluctance to really put time into learning techniques, design and developing the craft. In art school, any type of realistic or development of drawing was disparaged. It was all about "making marks" and using as many different media as possible and leaving the work open to chance, interpretation and galleries. Teaching things like value, composition, and color were "too limiting" and "constricting". While just teaching those things can be deadening, I need a foundation to create on, and then creative process can happen.
    Ok, so I left school not knowing much and had to work to educate myself with art books and workshops (no youtube then). I sketched when I saw good compositions and art to figure out why it worked. I had the brain of an artist, but none of the skills. Over the years, I have worked hard to get them and wanted to teach them to kids. However, the prevailing philosophy is don't put effort and time into working through the "boring stuff" but to go with feeling, intuition and art being "therapy". If it doesn't work out, then you have no "talent", so go on the computer and copy and paste and throw every software option in. And if the first thing you do isn't frameable, it is not worth the effort. 
     I think I work harder on techniques, elements and composition the older I get so I have the skills to do what is in my head but has to be translated out through my hands. My observation and persistence continue to increase. And so, my art is closer to what I think it should look like. I keep taking painting classes and quilt workshops to gain another piece of the puzzle.
      Also, I was too concerned about doing something commercially viable. For all the work I did in graphic design, and all the money I spent on computer equipment and software as it became computerized from the 80s on, I never made much after paying the vendors and the bills to warrant all those hours and crushing deadlines. I was able to pay for the kid's activities and that was about it. When I taught public school, with the prep for 6 different grades a day and hundreds of students a week, teacher products, meetings, and mountains of paperwork, I never had the time or energy to work on any art.
      What if I had spent all that time and energy seriously painting and quilting? How much of a body of work could I have built and how far could I have gone? Could I have gone past the tipping point and done truly outstanding work and inspired others?
      Those are questions that I can't answer. But this I know- I can work hard now and use all I have learned to work as an artist. I can put the effort into sketching, planning, designing, observing, finishing and thinking about what I am doing. For me, this isn't hobby- if I don't create, I am weak and sad.
      Even if I never sell a thing, I will create a body of work that is positive and growing, as long as God gives me breath. I want my work to be a reflection of what is beautiful and worthwhile, regardless of what is in fashion or cool. Last February, I was spared from the consequence of a heart attack. Every day is a precious gift.
      What about you? As you look at reflections, what do you see?
See the painted turtle?