A Clean Slate

This is the time when so many make resolutions, only to set themselves up for disappointment. My friend Suzanne Kistler makes two lists at the beginning of a new year: the first list is of the quilts she completed in the previous year; the second is a list of goals for the new year. I think this is an incredibly healthy approach to the clean slate we’re all given on January 1st.

I’ve come to understand that my one-sentence journaling, and even this blog, are my attempts at living my primary goal: Staying in the moment.

“This — this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl’s voice. . . a moment of captured beauty. He who is truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”  Louis L’Amour

Here are a couple of my recent moments. The Buddha Hand, almost ready to pick.

Some French ribbons turned into a fabric postcard.

What are your goals for 2012?

“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.”  — Corita Kent

To success!

Inspired Gifting

It’s always nice to know that you have inspired someone to action through your own actions. Well. . . almost always.  Just before coming to my home for Christmas dinner, my friend Shari discovered her lint trap was full of pink lint. Remembering my recent post on needlefelting my own dryer lint (be sure to read the 12-13 posting too), she did what a good friend would do — she tied a bow around it and popped it into a gift bag.

It did get a good laugh!

I think that re-gifting this would be a nice idea, don’t you? Yes, I’ll do something with it. Recycling is what we call it today. And since this is such a “personal” gift, it may become a birthday postcard. Or perhaps, since it’s a joint-venture lint collection, maybe an anniversary card. Who knows? I’ll look to the new year for new direction and inspiration.

Meanwhile, don’t save your lint for me. Be inspired to use it yourself.

New Photos in the Gallery

I’ve uploaded professional photos of the Kollaborative Klimt-esque Landscape and Woodwardia Ferns quilts in the Art Quilt Gallery.

Slow Down

I’m hearing this from several sources — Simon Sinek recently posted an article entitled “Go Slow” and Jenny Lyon talked about slowing down in a class I hosted recently. Simon addressed the subject as a life-style issue. Jenny was referring to the peddle-to-the-metal approach for quilting. Her experience has taught her that if she wants precision, beautiful work when she quilts, she has to slow down. Why do so many of us believe that life needs to be lived at the speed of sound?

I thoroughly enjoy what I do. In fact, I enjoy each step in the process of creating something new — enough that I want to savor the doing. My recent distraction with the lint trap of my dryer tells me just how much I want to slow down, be aware of the moment and act on what comes up. Acting against my normal focused practice, I did just that and it was so satisfying!

Now I am back to work on the sun print I started last week. I thread painted the first batch of leaves with a Rainbow thread by Superior.

It’s back on my design wall while I decide on the thread for the remaining leaves. Patience. This is good for me.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty to do…..like creating some fun boxes for my dinner table Christmas day. I learned how to make these little gems from my friend Aileyn several years ago. I used greeting cards from last year. The boxes measure 1 3/4″ square by 3/4″ deep and they hold one piece of candy. They are utterly charming on the table.

Here’s to being in the moment.

A Teaching Moment

Cinema Place Gallery is exhibiting my work in The QuiltEssential Event and I have agreed to sit the gallery twice during the exhibition. My first experience was on a Thursday, 4 – 8 p.m. Considering the day of the week and the hours I was there, I anticipated a rather quiet time. Not so. Foot traffic on the street was steady and, at times, rather brisk. There was not a moment that I didn’t have the company of viewers taking in the art quilts before them.

I had an interesting exchange with one man who brought his three sons to the exhibit. Upon entering the gallery the father ignored my greeting and whisked straight into the smaller room of the gallery. The youngest son – I’d guess about 12 years old – greeted me and followed dad. The four stayed close, pausing before many pieces and chatting among themselves. I thought it wonderful to see this father exposing his sons to art quilts. “A nice teaching moment,” I thought.

After about 30 minutes, the father approached me with questions. He had several general questions about the artists and the work before he asked two more pressing questions:  “How would you use these pieces – they don’t fit the bed?”  I replied, “You would hang them on your wall to enjoy them just as you would a painting.” And his final question, “Why would one buy these pieces – would they be worth a lot of money in the future?” To which I replied, “They may well be worth a lot of money in the future but one should invest in this art form for the same reason that you invest in any art form:  because you simply love it. Collect what you love.”  “Hmmmm. Thank you,” he said, as he turned to leave the gallery. The youngest son thanked me, smiled and followed dad. Hmmmm, a nice teaching moment.

Time to Tweak

Since August my energy has been focused on completing projects for deadlines and keeping up with commitments made before the crazy time set in. That’s history and the bulk of my quilts are home once again. So it’s time for tweaking — rehanging old friends and finding a place for two large quilts that went straight from the studio to galleries.

The Kollaborative Klimt-esque Landscape has been on my mind. I’ve been thinking that the bird needed some bling to create better balance and when Sandra Sider was here she agreed with me. Time to tweak! After experimenting with several threads, I decided upon a black cotton wrapped with gold metallic thread. I stitched the beak and then the belly and claws. Now it feels truly done. Here’s a detail:

And the whole quilt:

Ahh, a quick clean up of the studio and it’s time for a new project. But before that, my little friend needs some new greenery and there isn’t much in the yard to choose from…

A bit of blooming parsley will have to do.

Gallery Visit and Quilt Critiques with Sandra Sider

I’m a member of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and I share the role of Representative for the Northern California/Nevada region with Sandy Wagner. I had the pleasure of hosting Sandra Sider, President of SAQA, at my home earlier this month. She was in town for other business and graciously offered to conduct a session of critiques for members in our region during her visit.  Sandra is also Consulting Curator for the Texas Quilt Museum, currently teaches undergraduate courses online in art history for the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, has been published extensively and is a working quilt artist. I was thrilled to coordinate this opportunity!

The day of the critique session Sandra and I met five more SAQA members at a nearby restaurant for lunch, then we went to Creative Framing & Gallery to see my solo show. Pictured are (from left to right):  Kris Sazaki (SAQA VP), Deb Cashatt (SAQA Exhibits Coordinator), Paula Chung , Jenny Lyon, me, Sandra Sider and Sandy Wagner.

I was pleasantly surprised when Sandra began speaking about the pricing of my work and her assessment of the saleability of individual pieces. She felt that Fall Ginkgos would be the most saleable quilt because of its size (the viewer could easily see it hanging their home), use of color and perceived complexity.

Leaves II, which entailed much more work and variety of techniques, she felt would be perceived as less complex.

The few minutes we spent at the gallery were fun and educational! We all thanked Heather Piazza, herself an artist and strong supporter of the arts, who opened her gallery especially for our visit.

The critique session was next. In addition to those who had quilts to be critiqued, 15 observers were there. Sandra led each critique touching on history,  principles of art and how saleable each piece was. Viewers were encouraged to share their thoughts as well. She did a thorough job with 11 quilts in just 2 hours. We were in awe of her knowledge and the depth that she shared with us. I was in awe of her stamina!

Here is Sandy Wagner sharing details of the work in progress she brought. Sandy creates a lot of her own fabric with dye and applique work. She creates wearable art regularly so she is completely fearless. The section she is pointing to was created by hand appliqueing the red-orange fabric strips over the mottled yellow. There was much discussion about the central orange feature. Whatever she does, this will be gorgeous when it’s done.

This is the second time that Robin Cowley has hosted the same event at her home. She and her husband are uber gracious hosts and their home and garden are simply incredible works of art. Here are just two of the fabulous art installations in their back yard:

This is what I wanted to do when I got home from such an exciting day!

Borrowed From Nature – Artist Reception

The reception for my solo exhibit Borrowed From Nature, was held on Saturday, October 22, from 6 – 8 p.m. One of the nice things about the artist receptions at Creative Framing & Gallery is that they are held several weeks after the exhibit opens — it acts more as a closing reception. Some of the people who come for the reception have already seen the exhibit and they’ve had a chance to think about what they liked or didn’t like.

I especially like the paper tree that Heather created to frame the left side of the wall. She tucked many of my fabric postcards — all with leaves or nests on them — into the tree. It is quite charming.

People arrived in a very staggered way, almost like someone had scheduled it. Because of that, I had a chance to actually visit with just about everyone who came.

It was relaxed, intimate and fun. Here’s a glimpse of Woodwardia Ferns, the piece I completed in September, just in time for the exhibit.

And several of my pieces sold. Nice. After the reception a group of us went out to dinner.

Inspiration Leads to Precious Metals

Remember those postcards I created using the themes of gold, silver and copper? Making those little gems inspired my putting the three together into a larger format. Thinking about all that glitz naturally led to beads. It sounded like such a good idea and then I started beading — that’s 39″ of beading on a 12″ square. This could fall into the “What was she thinking?” category, though, now that it’s done, I’m very happy with it. Here is Precious Metals, hot off the needle.

I literally just finished stitching the label and sleeve on, photographed it and took it to the gallery to hang in Borrowed From Nature, my solo exhibit at Creative Framing & Gallery. It finishes the wall nicely.

Demonstration at Cinema Place Gallery

The QuiltEssential Event at Cinema Place Gallery in Hayward continues to garner rave reviews. The first quilt sold the night of the reception! How exciting is that? I will be at the gallery tomorrow from 6 – 8 p.m. demonstrating how I create fabric postcards. I’ll also have copies of my book for sale.  Liz Berg, Linda Cline and Denise Miller will also be there demonstrating techniques that are near and dear to their art. If you don’t know the work of these fine artists, you are in for a treat. I am humbled to be in their company. Stop by and say hello.

I have two quilts in the exhibit:  Ginkgo Dust Up

and Study No. 8

SAQA Auction a Success

309 art quilts were donated for the 2011 SAQA Auction, raising $52,100! I’d call that a raging success actually.  The funds raised through the Auction are critical to supporting SAQA’s exhibitions, catalogs and outreach programs. And I was lucky enough to be high bidder on Elemental Surprise by Janice McKeehan of Houston, Texas.

I hope the photograph does it justice. I love the detailed quilting that changes in each area of the quilt. She used two yarns to outline the feature on the left, then punched it up with fabulous beading. I’m charmed by the three pairs of beads that allow a peek under the fabric flap.

There are still a few of these small treasure available, but not for much longer. Check them out here.

Precious Metals

I couldn’t resist using the three metals — copper, silver and gold — that I just used for postcards in my next small quilt. I’ve just finished the quilting and I have it prepared to block. Since it’s just 14 inches square right now, it shouldn’t take long to dry.

I’ve already decided that it needs beads. Lots of them. This quilt will be 12″ x 12″ finished.

Woodwardia Ferns Done

Ahh, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of a completed project and since this one is done before deadline I’m feeling an extra measure of satisfaction.

“Woodwardia Ferns” measures 49″ x 65 1/4″ and is the largest art quilt I’ve made to date. The three heliographic prints were begun in the early summer. These fabulous fronds come from a plant growing in the backyard of my friend Jennifer, a green-thumb pal who, like most avid gardeners, is very generous with her plants.

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Back in July I was Riffing on 3. You know, 3 ferns, 3 rows of checks — my third riff isn’t quite as obvious. It’s the quilting design: the surface is divided into 3 sections. The first section is five 45-degree-angle areas, each 5″ wide, defined by 1/4″ lines of unquilted space. The 5 sections span the width of the quilt, starting at the bottom left side and ending at the top right side. The remaining 2 sections of the surface are divided into the same 5″-wide sections, but these are marked at 60-degree angles off of the 45-degree lines of the middle section.  This subtle layer of design is not apparent until you are close to the quilt. Several of the detail photos in the slideshow reveal it. Sunset gold Lumiere paint  accents the 3 stems and helps to unify the piece.

“Woodwardia Ferns” will be the centerpiece of my solo exhibit Borrowed From Nature at Creative Framing & Gallery in Oakland beginning this Saturday, October 1 and running through the end of the month. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll make a point of stopping by. The artist reception is Saturday, October 22, 6 – 8 pm.

Textiles and Tomatoes

The moment we stepped outside for our morning walk with the boys I could tell it was going to be a real summer day — you know, the kind of tomato-ripening weather you usually have in July and August. Well, that kind of heat eluded us all summer. But it’s here today and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I approached the vines, basket in hand and picked Sweet 100s and Sun Gold tomatoes.Yum!

After rinsing the tomatoes I headed to the studio.

I emptied another spool of thread and completed the quilting on the Woodwardia Fern piece. This was my third spool-tossing event with this quilt — another reminder of just how big this one is. Because I usually work with many threads and on smaller pieces, I often work for many months without emptying a spool of thread. That plunk in the trash feels like I’ve completed a major chapter in a project — and so I have. Here it is pinned and wet with steam from blocking.

I’m pleased that the unquilted 1/4″ lines show so nicely. During the quilting process I was becoming concerned that they might not be obvious due to the larger-than-normal quilting shapes I used.

I’ll be able to bind it tomorrow and once I have it on my design wall, consider the possibility of additional work. Beads? Paint? or ????  Stay tuned.

Quilting the ferns

I’m back working on the Woodwardia fern quilt and am reminded once more how much I truly enjoy each step in the process of creating an art quilt. Right down to the final hand stitching of the binding, I’m enjoying the work.

Having just completed smaller pieces with much smaller quilting patterns, this takes focus, focus, focus to be sure I am stitching an appropriate size for this large quilt. After thirty minutes or so the new size will be in my body and I’ll be in a more zen mode — a happy state to be in. I’m satisfied with the pace of my progress. Don’t fret about the blue lines — those are made with a water-soluble pen and will disappear easily when I block the quilt. I have another pen that creates white marks to show easily on dark fabric and those marks are removed with heat. Perfect tools for the task.

I’ll be at the artist reception for Textiles and Tastings 2011 at the Shenandoah Gallery in Plymouth tomorrow afternoon. I hope to see you there!

Collaboration Complete

It doesn’t get better than this: The quilt it done and we have a day to spare. Both Heather and I enjoyed the process enormously, learned a lot from each other and will enjoy showing this shared vision at the “Collaborative Exhibit” at Creative Framing & Gallery during September.  (See “Exhibitions of my work” in the right column.)

Here is Heather putting the final dabs of paint on.

And here’s Kollaborative Klimt-esque Landscape completed. It measures 51″ x 39 1/4″.

A couple detail shots are in order so you can see some of the paint, beading and crystals.

It may not be clear here, but that’s a yellow crystal for the bird’s eye; more tiny clear crystals are centered on bronze-painted squares in the hill below.

I’ll attach the label on the back tonight. Tomorrow I return to the large fern piece that needs quilting.

Getting the edge right

Getting the edge of a quilt right is important. For me that means the edge will be easy to handle as I stitch the binding on, both by machine and by hand, and the quilt will lay flat — no ripples. There are two things I do to achieve this. First, I stitch the edge of the trimmed quilt with a multi-stitch serpentine pattern. I narrow the stitch to a width that ensures it will be hidden by the binding and, using a walking foot, I stitch as close to the edge as I can. Don’t use a zigzag stitch, that will bunch up the edge and create a mess. The multi-stitch pattern moves in tiny increments from left to right and flattens the edge.

Then I block the quilt. I lay the quilt on a dressmaker’s cutting board — it is cardboard and has a grid printed on it. I line up one edge of the quilt and pin every 2 inches or so. Notice that the pins are aimed at the middle of the quilt with the heads angled away from the center. Next I pin the opposite edge, pulling and smoothing as necessary. Repeat this process for the remaining 2 sides. Now steam is applied. I fill the iron with water and set heat to cotton. The iron hovers closely over the top of the quilt while I give shots of steam to make sure the water is penetrating the quilt.  Note:  I often use marking pens on the surface of my quilts — water-soluble and heat-sensitive types. During the blocking process both kinds of marks disappear. I just love this multi-tasking.

We’re on schedule to make the deadline. Whew! Next week I’ll have photos of the finished quilt. I can guarantee some surprises.

Collaboration is a good thing.

Heather and I meet for dinner and a glass of wine, then it’s off to the studio to discuss details of our collaborative piece. A full stomach and a relaxed attitude makes for a very fluid discussion. We are making progress but there are many details to iron out. Right away we agree that a bird is needed and it should be in the tree, not in the sky. This black bird keeps me company while I work and he’s just the right size — life is good!

From the very beginning of this project I have been thinking “bling, Klimt style.” Here we consider the bling. The applique placement pattern is so handy for this. Just cut paper and attach.

The tree is done. With this accomplishment, the deadline of September 1 suddenly seems possible.

The black bird and some of the bling are next.

I found these sassy, sparkling fabrics on the shelf reserved for Christmas fabrics. Love the tail! And polished cotton was perfect for the bird.

The quilt top is done.

Now to quilting. More Klimt influence will creep in here too.