Monday, August 24, 2015

More Quilts

This is the finished quilt with binding for the small group I belong to that meets once a week. It has a patriotic panel and everyone made the blocks the go around it. I was the one setting it all together. This was a first for creating a medallion. Not too tough as it turns out. Just add strips until it all works out! Here's a picture of a quilt that fascinated me at an accuquilt booth at the Grand Rapids Quilt Show. (Don't know who the lady is) The quilt is based on a Vasarely painting. Once I had a friend who told me that I would like Vasarely's paintings.
It does make a nice quilt though don't you think? Lastly, I'm really enjoying Krislovesfabric's blockloc blocks! Pretty slick!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hand Work

The other day I was able to work outside on our deck. For once the weather cooperated. Not too hot or rainy or mosquitoey. What bliss, hand stitching outside. I am stitching the binding on a quilt for a local group for hospice. I am one of few people who really enjoys the hand stitching of binding process. It's such a great feeling of getting the project done and putting the touch of color on the edge with simple hand stitches. I am thinking of doing some sort of quilting or patchwork by hand I am enjoying this stitching so much. I am grateful to be able to feel the needle once again on my damaged right hand. After my falling accident this past winter my fingers were numb and tingly for a long time. I am glad to finally enjoy pain free stitching again. Now what to do after this binding is done?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kathleen's Quilt

This is a very easy but completed quilt made for my cousin Kathleen who just retired. These are her favorite colors and mine too, so it was a little hard to let it go. But it's done and it lives in Illinois now. I worried about Kathleen in retirement since she doesn't have hobbies like I do. She visited over the weekend though and I think she is doing better than I am with the adjustment. My new job has been to rehab my hand and arm and Kathleen got to go to Ireland. Lucky woman! She wisely told me not to worry if nothing gets done in any given day. She says we're retired, we don't have to be accountable to anyone. I have not been able to sew or paint for several days and I feel like I've been AWOL. I've been busy with family and an upcoming visit with my daughter tomorrow. Family first! (I guess a sketchbook can go along.) I'm retired and not accountable to anyone but my hands are itching to dig into some projects! I am accountable to myself after all!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mixed Media

These mixed media pieces were an experiments that were successful I think. I use layers of fabric and paint together with the poly clay sign. I'm thinking of transferring this idea to a canvas. My biggest problem is how to hang quilts at art shows or places to sell. Most places want a wire attached. Switching to canvas would solve this problem but then it wouldn't be a quilt anymore... Anyway, this pieces were made during my healing from a fractured elbow and shattered wrist. I am trying my best to be positive and grateful for the mobility I've regained even though I am realizing I will never be quite the same. My hand feels like the tendons are stretched too tight and recovery has been expensive and painful. But, the numbness in my fingers has disappeared and I can play the piano, use a needle and hold a paintbrush, along with many other things we take for granted. So----Love Wins! and Onward!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Being Honest and Different

I now call myself an artist and maker. Disclaimer: This label does not mean that I support myself with my art or quilts. Nor does being an artist mean to me that the art one makes is good. Being an artist to me means trying to make images with meaning, and if I'm lucky, to others as well. I have sold a few pieces. That always makes me feel validated, but I'm not making a lot of money and that's ok. I just want to make meaning. During my teaching career there was a lot of emphasis on perception. Perception is everything I was told. I tried my best to present my best to the public and to the kids I taught. I could relate to the trials of some the most challenging home lives of my students. But I never understood why. It wasn't until I started asking questions from older family members that I learned the truth. My Dad was emotionally and physically abusive to my older brothers. I was in kindergarten when the youngest brother married and left home. I had no idea. I had a completely different experience growing up. But yes, Dad could be scary. My Dad died when I as ten years old. Soon after my Mom and I moved away from the country to a different school. I was bullied a bit. We didn't have that label then. I just shrugged it off and did my best to work on my music and from time to time some art scribbles. I did have friends so none of it was very traumatic. But I always felt I was holding back information. I had a very serious interior life but never shared this side. Like most kids, I just wanted to fit in. As a young adult with this background, choosing a spouse can be problematic. Fast forward 17 years after finding things weren't working, we split up. I wish I had understood that my early home life had started seeping through that marriage. I didn't understand those early experiences until two years ago. (I'm 58) It's a good idea to work with a good therapist. While facing the truth is tough. Hiding your life experiences is not good for anybody. I even developed asthma and throat symptoms that I associate with not telling the whole truth. Ignorance is not bliss. Brene Brown has written a good book about vulnerability. I'm doing my best through my art and quilts to speak the truth and be vulnerable. The quilt at the top of this post has symbols in Morse Code. It spells "Love Transforms." I know this is true.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Paint and Quilting

This is a sample of new work that I am excited about. I am using fabric as the underpainting, then a layer of paint, then, fabric collage, more paint, thread painting, thread sketching and polymer clay. Yes in other words, mixed-media. I am happy to work this way now. I have also solved the problem of how to depict people by using photos in the collage process. (I don't have a sample picture today but will next time.) I have a new phone with photo capabilities that I can email and so on. Finally I belong to the 21st Century. :-) I love this new process. I can change things as I go. Nothing is set in stone until the sewing stages. Oh happy day!

Monday, July 6, 2015

How to Become an Artist without an Art Degree--Chapter 1 My Story

I first became interesting in "making" about the same time I was due to have my first child. Really bad timing in a way. Everyone knows that children take precedence over almost everything, especially as babies. But I had taken my first quilting class and I was hooked. Unfortunately I was not very successful with several of my beginning attempts. The teacher had taught basics choosing seven sisters as one of the first blocks! We were also piecing by hand and oh what a mess that was! I can laugh now that I am teaching the Hunter's Star . However I have Deb Tucker's ruler for accuracy. What a difference! I have come to enjoy making quilts of all kinds however, I eventually felt the need to try other things Fast forward 15 years and I was making quilts yet not feeling the same satisfaction. I tried rug hooking, weaving, and embroidery, painting, polymer clay, and free-motion machine embroidery. I have pretty much dropped the rug hooking and am considering trading those supplies with someone for a piece of art. The weaving stuff, I'll hang on to. I just have a table loom and it doesn't take up much real estate. I have started to put together the others into mixed media art quilts. After all of these experiences the painting bug is a strong pull. I am putting paint on my mixed media quilts now, but several years ago I was brave enough to take a painting class in a college setting. I LOVED it but eventually missed sewing. The painting above was done after the painting class. As fun as it is, I just didn't continue to paint in that fashion. Instead, I've been trying to integrate both painting and sewing.
This is one of my pieces that I feel was successful. It's called "Beginning Band" These are the instruments that I taught 5th and 6th graders during my music teaching career.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Teaching Quilting

I taught music for over thirty years including studio piano lessons. I loved it. But then there came a day when I felt I'd done all I wanted to in my school teaching. I have wanted time and energy to work on my quilting and art and find out what my "style is and improved my patchwork skills. I discovered Deb Tucker's trimming tools around the time I retired. I am over the moon with her premise which is, cut units a little larger, then trim. She has rulers that strip piece eight point stars. Holy Cow! I started with the Rapid Fire Hunter's Star. I actually walked a local group of women through the process in order to make a charity quilt. Here is a photo of the charity quilt:
I then taught a group of students at Sauder Village. Here is a student block :
These go together really well with a scant quarter inch seam. This class went really well and I had great students. I am now working on the Lemoyne Star. Deb Tucker has a ruler for this and strip pieced technique. I am teaching this Aug 15th at Sauder Village, but they need something for their publicity. I am working on a sampler that needs to be done by May 5th! Yipes! Better get busy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What if we used journals in order to make meaningful quilts?

Recently I have been curious about art journaling. I love all things paint, have collected many supplies and have wondered if this could be something I'd enjoy doing. However, I feel the tug of making quilts as being a more authentic way of "making" for me. But what if I used the journaling in order to create more personal quilts? I watched a video of Thomas Knauer talking about his process of designing quilts for his family. His aesthetic is very modern and clean,and his quilts are designed with meaning and messages. He successfully created a quilt for his aunt and her same sex partner using quite mundane patchwork in the colors of the gay pride flag, and, in order to represent their marriage, his quilter quilted the pattern of the double wedding ring! Genius! The quilting industry is flooded with quilt kits and matchy fabrics. I don't think it's wrong to make quilts from kits or one line of fabrics, but I think most quilters want to make quilts their own in some way. Tweak the fabric or design, add specialty quilting or embellishments and we're good to go. But some artists do more. They hand dye, draw, paint, add surface design. The ideas are endless. I have taken classes in most. But, I don't seem to stick with them, except for painting an occasional art quilt in the summer. During the "dark night of the soul" times, I turn to traditional piecing. There is peace for me in piecing, ironing, and watching a quilt come together. I like to think about the people they're made for and create with them in mind. I can set aside my personal concerns and think about that loved one. After my best fried and coworker died I designed and quilted several quilts for coworkers who were retiring. It was one of the most prolific times of my life! I had another set back right before Christmas. I fell and damaged my dominant right wrist and elbow. I am unable to play the piano very well at this writing,(a skill I've earned from 6yrs old) BUT! I have figured out what tools and changes were necessary in order to SEW! Even with one hand! Part of the fascination with painting and surface design for me, was the idea that I could make more meaningful quilts if the fabric had more of my marks and showed my "hand." I'm beginning to understand that pieced quilts can also contain our thoughts and ideas yet not necessarily shout at the viewer. I want my meaning to be subtle and sometimes private. How do I go about that? How about thinking visually in a journal? I have collected images and kept an image file then switched to putting them in a large sketchbook. (Sort of pintrest in hard copy.)Last summer I created a folder with inspiring words and images in order to create a painted quilt. Even though the quilt is whimsical, there are deeper meanings behind the images. For example the big swirl is about feeling personal power.
I really enjoyed creating this way and I hope to continue to post about this process. Let me know what you think!

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