Friday, October 20, 2017

Improv Patchwork Blog Hop

I am so excited to tell you about Maria Shell's beautiful and inspiring new book, Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made with Line and Shape.

Here are me and Maria at the SAQA Conference in Philadelphia when we took a walk to go see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.


And here is Maria's amazing new book!


(Maria participated in the blog hop for the release of my book, Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint and Stitch. She wrote a witty, generous, informative blog post... and if you don't mind, I'm going to take inspiration from it for this blog post about her book.)

I love Maria's work! Patchwork is a traditional technique... but Maria's quilts are something special. She pushes every color, shape, seam and fabric combination to do something NEW. 


So, let me share my top 10 reasons why I love this book!

1. Such stunning images. Maria created several new quilts for this book so I was super excited to see some quilts I'd never seen before. Even though I don't generally make pieced quilts, I am really inspired by her color choices and the variety of scale in her work. 


2. The book is a genius combination of methods for making various parts (like stripes, chevrons, and polka dots) AND ideas for putting the parts together.

3. It's full of specific suggestions for how to truly pay attention to detail so you get the best results. 

4. Tips! There are several sidebar sections about being fearless. She should make poster-sized versions of these tips so we can all post them in our studios (especially the one about being fearless with color).

5. Controlled wonkiness. Yes, it's possible.


6. We both like chairs.


7. Maria and I both graduated from the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism. That means the book is an example of what you can create when you are thoughtful and hard-working... because that's how we do it Kansas.

8. Nitty gritty details about what you need in a sewing machine, the best tools and use of space.

9. Ideas about creating a Personal Color Identity. Great stuff -- and it applies to any kind of artist!

10. You can win a copy of this book right here. Leave a comment here sharing what interests you most about Maria’s work. I will randomly select one lucky winner when the hop is over. That means you have until midnight Alaska time on October 26 to leave a comment.  If you live in the states, C&T Publishing will send you a hard copy. If you are international, they will send you an electronic version of the book.

If you must have the book now now now you can order it from C&T Publishing or Amazon.

Be sure to visit the other blogs on the blog hop for more info about Maria's book and more chances to win a copy.

October 16—C&T Publishing http://www.ctpub.com/blog/
October 18—Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting JetGirl https://quiltingjetgirl.com
October 19—Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side http://amyscreativeside.com
October 20—Deborah Boschert at Deborah’s Journal http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com
October 21—Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession http://www.materialobsession.com.au/
October 21 Terri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com/
October 22— Wendy Hill at Wendy Hill’s Blog—Fun Quilts Stuff & Morehttp://wendyhill.net/blog
October 23—Cindy Grisdela at Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts https://cindygrisdela.com
October 24—Heather Pregger at Heather http://heatherquilts.blogspot.com
October 25—Maria Shell at Tales of a Stitcher https://talesofastitcher.com

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Watch me on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims

Remember I went to Colorado in February to shoot an episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims? My episode premiers today!



Subscribers can watch it here. (The Quilt Show is an online tv show with hundreds of episodes in their archives that subscribers can watch anytime.)

It will be free for anyone to view from October 15 to 21. It's episode 2108, so just visit The Quilt Show and search for me. I'd love to hear what you think.

I got to sit with Alex and Ricky on their living room set and talk about my workbook Head, Heart and Hands: Developing Your Creative Voice. To celebrate my appearance, both the spiral bound workbook and the pdf version are 25% off in my Etsy shop during the premier week and the free viewing week.



I did a surface design demo with Alex and I even got her to print fabric using a toilet paper tube!



Then I did a demo of my design and composition process while highlighting the Eight Design Guides from my book, Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint and Stitch.



Signed copies are in my Etsy shop for $25!

Here's the finished quilt from the composition demo. It's called Light As A Feather and measures 16 x 12. It was really fun to make for the show and I loved talking through all the steps to get to the final product. (It's also in my Etsy shop.)



Let me know what you think! Are you eager to create some original surface designed fabrics? Are you ready to start a new project with renewed confidence in the design process?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Completed Art Quilt!

I had the pleasure of delivering a commissioned quilt today. I am thrilled that the new owners liked it. They are friends of our family and have watched my work develop over the years. They value original art and love connecting with artists. It was an honor that they invited me to create a quilt for them. We decided on size and price and they gave me some very general ideas about what they like, but really granted me creative freedom, confident they would like whatever I created. What a pleasure!

Sun Rises. Tree Grows. Door Opens.
20x20



They asked for some in progress pictures because they were totally interested and engaged in the whole experience. I'll share a few here.

I started by pulling this fabric palette.


Eventually, I had a composition that looked something like this.


Then I added a tulle overlay of a tree with bare branches.


Then I went to Belize and Oregon and London and I came home and ripped it apart. The color palette wasn't working. The tree look too skeletal. Just no.

Fabric selection part two. I rescued the leaf gelli print. Yeah! I made it years and years ago and I thought it would really work with this piece.


I went through many possible compositions including something like this.


Eventually I landed on this fabric background and added a wiggly tree using a freezer paper stencil.


Something needed to fit in that lime green square and it took me days to come up with an idea I was excited about. I had a few pictures of my friends' house and I planned a stitched design inspired by their front door.



Here's the hand stitching all finished -- Y stitches, purple arch, leaf outlines, scattered stars.


At one point the purple stitching went too far over the leaf print. Had to rip it out.


Finally time to add the machine stitching. Here I'm auditioning thread colors trying to decide between blendy colors or contrasty colors.


A few details from the finished piece.

Leafy vine free motioned quilted with nice fat top stitching thread.


Some hand embroidered stars and a variety of stitched motifs over that beautiful Lonni Rossi print. (I've used it before.) You can also see the tiny zig zag finish at the edge.


The hand stitched entry way and the leafy vine...


Close up of the stenciled tree outlined with very light blue thread. (I chose contrasty.)


The last step was picking a title which often takes a bit of time. It's an opportunity to suggest what the theme of the quilt is. But I also want it to sound nice and include interesting words or combination of ideas.

I chose images from the quilt and active verbs that reflect ideas and experiences we all go through in life, "Sun Rises. Tree Grows. Door Opens."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Water Chestnuts?!

You may know that I'm a avid podcast listener. One of the podcast I really enjoy is Every Little Thing which is a "show about small stuff." Episodes are usually about 20 minutes long and tell stories about things that are unexpectedly interesting. Subjects have included plastic chairs, the Dewey decimal system, flamingos and office plants. Recently they asked for listener questions and I called in and recorded my question... what are water chestnuts?

It's an odd question I suppose and probably one I could easily find the answer to -- I mean, I'm familiar with google. It's not a question that is at the front of my mind, until I'm eating Chinese food and I'm perplexed by the water chestnut.

Apparently, the producers of Every Little Thing were also intrigued. They called me and we set up a time for me to talk with producer Kathrine.

Kathrine and I talked for 40 minutes. She'd been researching water chestnuts for two weeks! It was a great chat. She is smart, engaging, witty, insightful and as curious about stuff as I am.

They edited our talk down to about 8 minutes and it's one of three listener questions in the newest episode. (The other two questions involved feet and the Take Me Out to the Ball Game.)

We talked about so much more than ended up in the podcast! That's fine, of course. I totally get that they need to tell a tight story. But, it reminded me that creative people in all kinds of businesses and industries are creating way more content than ever sees the light of day. And it takes way more time, effort, creative energy, focus --- and money -- than we often think about. (That's a subtle plug for giving financial support to the creators you enjoy.)

Other things we talked about that didn't make it into the podcast

  • translucent water chestnut cake
  • water chestnuts are called horses hoof in China
  • the popularity of Chinese food after Nixon's visit to China
  • bacon wrapped water chestnuts and their appearance on Mad Men
  • water chestnuts vs broccoli
  • Americans like water chestnuts because they are bland
  • food memories from childhood
  • canned vs fresh

I promised Kathrine that I would seek out some fresh water chestnuts, so I went to H Mart which is a giant Asian supermarket just down the street from my home and I found them!







In our conversation, Kathrine played me a clip from her interview with famous Chinese chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo who compared water chestnuts to jicama. Of course! Why had I not made that connection? Coincidently, jicama had been on my shopping list earlier in the week and they didn't have it at my regular grocery story. But, they had it at H Mart! A reminder to get out of my box and visit the many Asian and Mexican markets near by.



I'll have to do a side by side comparison. (Check my Facebook and IG for that.)

Last night I posted this image to IG asking if anyone knew what it was. There were several good guesses, but no one was right! Apparently, I'm not the only one who didn't really know what a water chestnut was.



When I posted this picture, Sujata Shaw and Anna Martinez answered correctly! (Someone else did guess jicama!)



I did peel and slice up one of the water chestnuts yesterday afternoon. Yes! Better than canned! Tasty, even raw. Starchy and chewy, but interesting. I'll make stir fry later this week.



I hope you'll listen to the episode and let me know what you think. You can stream here or find it on your favorite podcast app. It's Every Little Thing, ELT Help Line.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Classes and Quilts at International Quilt Festival


It's such a pleasure and an honor to teach at Festival! I've already got kits in the works, so I'd love to see you in the classroom. You can register here. 

Here's my schedule.

Thursday, November 2 from 2 to 5 pm: Small Stitched Landscapes (class number 478)
Friday, November 3 from 10 to noon: Mixed Media Sampler Creating Original Stencils (event number 556)

Friday, November 3 at 3 pm: All About Art Quilts Lecture (event number 563)

Saturday, November 4 from 9 am to 5 pm: Creativi-Tree Art Quilts (class number 711)

Sunday, November 5 from 9 am to noon: Techniques with Paint and Ink (class number 801)
You can read details about these workshops on my workshops page on my website. But don't look at the supply lists. They are different from Festival and you'll need to refer to the Festival website for info about kits and supplies.

I'll also have some art quilts on the show floor. (It's my year of ladders.)

You can see Rising Resting in the Personal Iconography exhibition.

Limbs, Ladders, Roots and Rocks will be in the Art Miniature category of the judged shows.
Rising Setting will be in the Matter of Time textile exhibition curated by my friend Brenda Gael Smith who will be there with the quilts!

The very very best part of Festival is the people! I get to see friends from all over the country, meet new students, connect with people who have enjoyed my book and talk with a bunch of people who love creating with fabric! If you see me, please come say hi!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Workshop Intros for Craft Napa

I am super excited to be teaching at Craft Napa this January!

Here's the schedule of workshops I'll be teaching.

Thursday, January 11, 2018: Captivating Compositions for Art Quilts
Thursday Evening, January 11, 2018: Head Heart and Hands: Developing Your Creative Voice
Friday, January 12, 2018: Creativi-Tree Art Quilts
Saturday, January 13, 2018: Personal Symbols for Art Quilts

Of course, you should check out all the other amazing workshops begin offered by the amazing artists on the roster this year. You can see them all here.

Register here! Spots are filling up.

I recorded a short video intro of each of the four workshops to give you a little sense of what they are all about -- beyond a short description and one or two pictures. I hope this gets you excited about the possibilities of kicking off 2017 with some inspiring, creative workshops in Napa!








Let me know if you have any questions about these workshops. I'm happy to tell you more. I'm looking forward to seeing you in Napa!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Making Connections with Art in Museums, Magazine and More

I had a delightful moment of artistic connection in the doctor's office yesterday. (The fact that I was at the doctor was not delightful, but there was this silver lining.)

They have nice magazines at the office and I was flipping through Architectural Digest and was drawn to the images in this profile of artist Theaster Gates.



Then on the next page, there was a piece of his artwork that looked familiar. It's the piece on the lower left.



I'd just seen this piece (or one very similar) at the Tate Modern in London the week before! It stopped me, drew me in and created a lasting impression. It's made from the discarded pieces of a basketball court from a Chicago-area high school. It points to Gates' frustration with the dismantling of decent public education in Chicago, particularly for African American students.

I didn't take a picture of that piece in London. But, I did photograph this Gates piece also at the Tate.



Can you guess what it's made from?



Yes, fire hoses originally used to break up protesters fighting for civil rights. Powerful.

Clearly, these two pieces of art are quilt-like in many ways. I suppose that's part of why I am drawn to them. And yet, I don't make quilts like that. I don't piece fabric. I don't use recycled materials. I don't really explore political or provocative themes in my own work.

But, it's not about me and my work and my personal style. It's about taking the opportunity to see everything! And welcoming interesting thoughts, study and critique of art that catches my eye. Especially if it comes up repeatedly and unexpectedly.

I don't think I'll be able to track any kind of direct influence or inspiration from Theaster's work into my own work. But the fact, that it exposed me to something new is enough.

We live in a time where we have access to so much. There are so many things to explore: museums, magazines, You Tube channels, TED talks, podcasts, movies, tv, lectures, clubs, Facebook groups... the list is endless. It's the proverbial double-edged sword, right? It's easy to get over exposed and overwhelmed.

When I visited the Tate with my mom and daughter, I'd never heard of Theaster Gates.  (Here we are in the Tate's cavernous central hall.)



I probably would have forgotten him if he hadn't popped up in the magazine.

I'll continue to go to museums, to flip through magazines, to peruse Pinterest, to listen to podcasts. But, I'll also try to go a little deeper occasionally. Mindless scrolling through images or aimless walks through museums seem sort of wasteful.

For now, I'll do a deep dive and learn more about Theaster.

Here are some of the resources I'm eager to explore.

Tate Modern Profile
Theaster TED talk
YouTube Art Channel profile
He's a part of Art 21
Oh, there's a bit of controversy to consider

To take this unexpected connection a little further, Theaster's work with reclaimed materials related to African American life reminds me of Hank Willis Thomas' quilts made from prison uniforms and athletic jerseys. I first saw his work on the Instagram of one of my college friends.

Is that an artist that you've discovered unexpectedly that stayed with you?