Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I have already heard some fireworks outside although it is only 10:00pm here!
I guess they want to go to bed!

Well, my quilts are now hanging in a gallery and hopefully some of the First Night Missoula participants will stop in and see them. I do not know yet which of my quilts she has chosen to hang or how many, but I look forward to seeing them on Friday evening at the reception. I always wish I could be a fly on the wall when my quilts are displayed somewhere so I could know what people think of them. I guess I just have to settle for what they will tell me in person or what the gallery owner might pass along to me. Hopefully many of the people I have contacted will stop in and visit the gallery. I sent postcards or e-mailed to every I could think of that might be interested in seeing some art quilts. Now it is up to the weather to cooperate and allow some of them to get there!

No pictures this post as I am working on a challenge piece for an art quilt show in February and I don't want to share it until it hangs in the show. Sorry! The good thing is a text post loads faster!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I've been quilting a piece that is a rather unusual color scheme for me but it seems to be working out pretty well. I used some squares of hand-dyed fabric that we were given for a certain project a few months ago, but I had saved them to use in something else. They went well with a print fabric I had so this is what became of them. I did a lot of free motion quilting and some thread painting, and now I am in the process of putting a spray of embellishment across the piece. All the embellishment is from a pearl necklace I had that broke and I had saved all the pearls, plastic "crystals", and hardware to use someday. You never know when these things will be just the right spark for a quilt. I really like what they are doing for this piece. I will have a scattering of more embellishment to the left and above and to the right below the current path of beading. Hopefully the pearls will stay secure on here even though they tend to stick out a bit and will likely get bumped around. I have been starting to think about what to bind it with but haven't completely decided yet. Usually I have to actually fold up pieces of fabric and put them behind the piece on my design board with just a bit sticking out to see what will enhance it as a binding. Sometimes that means something that contrasts or brings out a highlight in the piece and sometimes it means a fabric that will blend with the piece and not create a hard edge. I'm not even sure with this one so I'll have to do some trials. I always enjoy that part of the process as it is just playing around with my fabric stash. I might try numerous different fabrics with it before I decide on the right one. The finishing touch of a binding is important to the entire piece so I always choose carefully.

I'm almost done with another piece that is more in my color scheme. It started with a hand-embroidered and beaded square that I wanted to incorporate into something that had a nature feel to it using a color scheme of green, copper and blue. I decided to balance the handwork square with a second square of embroidery and beading and then I chose evergreen trees and a body of water to complete the "scene". I am not sure how I will finish off the water and I am in the process of embellishing the trees by couching mohair yarn onto them. I may add some kind of copper highlighting somewhere but I haven't decided if it might be with paint or bead. I think a copper binding with short stretches of green in it might be a nice finish.

I'm getting very excited about my upcoming show at the Whooping Crones Gallery and have been making sure all my sleeves are secure and they are ready to hang. A week from today I'll take them all up to Missoula and see which ones will be hung for the opening on January 2. There will be a "First Friday" opening reception from 5pm to 8pm. I don't know how many people will be out and about that soon after New Year's, but I'm looking forward to being there and seeing my quilts displayed, and maybe talking to people about them. It is so fun to share my work with people and answer questions about the process and the inspirations for them.

My six-year old son is on his Christmas break from full-day Kindergarten and I haven't gotten used to having him around so much again. We are already bumping heads a bit, but all in all he's a good, fun kid and we like to do things together. We have had a wonderful Christmas, but he has already had some moments of "boredom" where he just can't figure out what to do with himself (even when surrounded by numerous new toys!). He's loving all the snow we have and he and his dad have built a rather sturdy snow fort in the front yard.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and truly a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Blues

I had an entire day to work on quilts and managed to find umpteen ways not to. I swept the kitchen, did some on-line Christmas shopping, paid bills, organized finances, made some muffins, and now I'm writing this! Sometimes it is difficult for me to get into the creative process especially when I'm not sure what the next step is supposed to be. Right now I am quilting a piece and finding the quilting I'm doing rather boring. I haven't come up with a way to punch it up, so as a result it is just sitting at my sewing machine waiting for me to get back to it. In the meantime I should pick up something else, but procrastination has won out.

I did start a new pin-weaving project a couple of days ago that is turning out nicely, and will likely become a focus point of a future piece. It is multicolor with lots of rusty/brown tones. This time I am making the lines off kilter rather than all straight across as I did the first time. I will probably press this one onto some fusible interfacing to help keep it stable for whatever I decide to incorporate it into. The next pin-weaving I do will probably have either beads or some sort of surface texture like loops or tufts or knots or something. I'm also thinking of sticking to 2 or 3 color families rather than the multi-color thing I am doing now. I'm thinking black, white or cream, and one bright color. I really like the two pieces I did that had that kind of color scheme (one using red, one bright blue). It is very bold and graphic and I think the softness of the woven fibers would be great in a graphic, angular piece. I think incorporating beads into it would be really interesting. I have some really neat black ones… I really enjoy the process of the pinweaving and find it relaxing. I love the way it develops as you add wonderful fibers and colors. I think it is a technique that will stay in my repertoire. Thank you In Good Company for the inspiration!

It is supposed to get very cold here this weekend and I am NOT looking forward to that. It has been relatively dry with very little snow so far this winter and I rather like it that way. I know we need the snow in the mountains so that we have a good water supply next spring, but I'd just as soon it stay up there on the mountains. It looks pretty there and I don't have to drive through it! I really like the changing seasons of Montana, but I definitely prefer spring and fall to winter. We had a beautiful autumn this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, as evident in my last post, I am already looking forward to spring and the end of winter, even though it has barely begun. Maybe I need to do another winter quilt that reflects the beauty that there is in the snowy whiteness of the Montana landscape and the crisp cold air of January. My piece, "Winter Blues", has been to two juried shows so obviously I have some appreciation for the season and can put it into my work.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it Spring yet?

I've just been sending out some letters and business cards to contacts that I have hopes of convincing to purchase some of my work. I am very enthusiastic about marketing my work, but I am somewhat disappointed in the timing of this recession to coincide with my effort. Hopefully the nesting trend that I've been hearing about will make people want to beautify their "nests" and maybe purchase fiber art to do that. I think it is a very warm and welcoming type of art to have on your wall and I hope that it becomes more accepted as wall art for decorating and enjoying in your home.

I finally put a name on the small wholecloth free motion piece I finished and it will be number 3 in my first "series" of work. I am calling it "Spring Thaw III - Seedlings Arise". After sitting for a couple of days while I stared at it and tried to decide what it was to be called, it occurred to me in a very clear way that it was another Spring Thaw piece. I tend to love those muddy colors and making them beautiful with thread and embellishment. What is Spring but a wet muddy mess morphing into blooming color? Oh what a melancholy thought to have in the short cold days of December!

I don't think that this piece is done justice in the pictures, but you get the idea. Unfortunately there is a reflection off the top glass bead that I find distracting. These were taken in my work room. Hopefully the pictures my dad took with his better quality camera have turned out better than these, but I haven't gotten those from him yet. Here are some details of the quilting:

I have been watching Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves and various other small birds flitting around my yard and bird feeders this morning. As I am watching them my eye falls on a dark shadow in the long grass--a neighborhood cat skulking and bright-eyed as he/she also watches the activity. True to my usual response to this situation, I get up and quietly open the front door and then burst out yelling and waving my arms to scare the bejeebers out of the cat and send it flying down the path, under the fence and out of sight into the neighbors yard. Luckily I know that the neighbors are at work, but I always return to the house a little bit worried that someone might have spotted my crazed behavior not realizing the purpose of it. Oh well! I don't want to feel guilt about luring birds to my yard with bird feeders and food and then allow wandering felines to pick them off! I risk my reputation as a sane person to protect their welfare. I'll never get the vision out of my head of one time many years ago when we were all sitting on our deck enjoying the day and spotted a hummingbird hovering over the garden. All of a sudden a well-camouflaged cat leapt out of the foliage into the air grabbing the bird and swiftly exited the scene while we all sat with our mouths hanging open. So tragic, yet oddly it makes me smile whenever I remember it. That cat was poetry in motion and has created a vivid a picture in my mind. Not going to happen if I can make a fool of myself spooking the cat before it can grab birds in my yard! Now I've probably created a picture in your mind…!

It's not even Christmas and I'm already thinking SPRING!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wholecloth Piece with Free Motion Quilting

I have been quilting a small wholecloth piece that may or may not be attached to a larger piece when it is finished. I'm doing some thread painting on it and enjoying the process. I seem to have a need to work on small pieces right now since the larger ones just get me all clogged up and bogged down. Free motion quilting with just random ideas flowing is so freeing and fun. I change threads quite often and enjoy using shiny rayons and metallics as well as more muted variegated threads which still add great color and highlight. Seeing how they stitch out in the different lines and shapes I decide to quilt is always a fun experience. And it is almost always beautiful in the end and worth the time and effort.

There are several art quilt competitions/shows coming up that I have some interest in trying to get one of my pieces into. There is one with a Rock and Roll theme, one that requires the portrayal of something "fresh picked" whether fruit, vegetable or flower, and one that must represent humor in some guise. Of course I have had not had any specific ideas for any of them even though I have been mulling them over for some time now. I have put some fabrics together for a rock and roll inspired piece but they have not told me what to do with them!

The 12"x12" piece, Birds of a Feather, that I donated to the SAQA on-line auction has sold and I am very happy about that. Someone in Connecticut purchased it and I really hope they enjoy the piece.

Okay, it's later in the day now and I have finished quilting the small wholecloth piece. It is lovely and I am going to bind it and attach it to another wholecloth piece that is simply a raw silk with minimal quilting to act as a framework. I put four cutouts on the smaller piece and they will each have a bead centered in them. Pics to come...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Down, Still Struggling

I just finished putting sleeves on two new pieces and wondering to myself whether or not they are completely done. The thing about getting into embellishing your work is that you can continue to add stuff and add stuff and add stuff. When is enough enough you might ask? I usually just hang the piece up and look at it for awhile. If I like it every time I walk by or glance at it, then it is done. If it nags at me that something isn't quite right then I start to consider what can be couched, beaded, or painted/stamped on top of it. Yes, my quilts talk to me. I listen to them to find out what they want to be and I try to take them there. I use my best creative effort to make them something that I would like to see hanging on a wall--or, ultimately, what someone else would like to see hanging on their wall!

I'm still struggling along with my brown tree piece. It is once again up on my design wall after a brief respite. I wasn't having any ideas and was rather stuck so I took it down and finished these other two quilts. Now I am back to trying to determine the next step for the brown tree. I need to highlight the tree somehow as it recedes into the piece a little bit too much. I just haven't determined whether that should be done through threadwork, paint, shivas/pastels, or beading. I'm playing with the paintstiks and pastels but I have not used them before and I haven't ever done much drawing so it is less than convincing to try this on my actual quilt top. Trying them out on some of the brown fabric in order to audition it before trying it on my quilt top helps to see how it might look, but so far I'm not impressed with my technique. I would definitely be more comfortable attempting this through threadwork, but I'm thinking that maybe I need to break out and try something new and challenging. More playing...

My mom and I were talking about how difficult it is when you are working on a piece this size with a good amount of effort already invested in it, to experiment with techniques or ideas that are untested or new to you, or just risky (such as doing cutouts which I have done before but that are definitely a "there's no going back" thing to do!). This piece is currently about 53" tall and 32" wide which is rather large for me. It is much easier to take risks on a smaller piece that you haven't put so much into and that if it doesn't turn out you haven't lost as much time and materials as with this size of a piece. I think I will be doing some smaller pieces in the very near future as this one is monopolizing way too much of my time just sitting there and not telling me what to do with it! It has potential and I love the colors/fabrics. I'm starting to lean towards just layering it and quilt it already, then decide how to embellish further. Sometimes the quilting just flows out and helps to complete the piece. It will stay up on the wall today for further pondering and tomorrow I will decide whether to embellish or quilt. Speak to me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pin Weaving and Gallery Opportunity

I am involved in a monthly textile arts group that inspires me (and many others!) to learn and use different techniques using different materials and processes that I may or may not have used before. Every month we get a packet of materials for accomplishing this and are shown some examples and given some ideas of what do to and how to do it. Then we are sent away to experiment and hopefully return the next month with a sample of how we used the technique/materials in a project. The exchange of ideas and the different ways that each person uses the packet is inspiring and motivating. I just love this effort and truly thank the women of In Good Company of Hamilton, Montana for sponsoring it. It is called "TARTS" (Textile Arts) and in February we will be having our 2nd Annual show and sale called "An Affair of the heART" over the Valentine's Day weekend. You can check out the blog that reviews the projects for the TARTS classes at

The project we worked on this month and shared yesterday was Pin Weaving using a foam core board and pins to hold the warp and a tongue depressor to hold the warp threads apart for weaving.
It is a great way to use all of those fun and funky yarns and trim pieces that you just had to buy but don't know what to do with! I particularly like the fuzzy, hairy, and slubby yarns for great texture and combining them with silk ribbon---beautiful! We also did weaving of two (or more) different fabrics cut into strips which creates a very usable piece for backgrounds or whatever. I haven't done anything yet with the piece I made from fabric strips, but my effort at pin weaving became part of a somewhat sophisticated looking wall hanging with couched fibers and beads.

I used the couched yarns and ribbon to echo the lines of the pin weaving. I spent a long time with the piece up on my design wall trying to determine placement of the beads. I use long quilting pins to try to pin the beads up so I can stand back and evaluate it. I have a hard time laying the piece on a table or the floor to evaluate this since the perspective is not quite right. I have done that and stood on a chair to try to evaluate, but if I can pin them on my design wall it seems to work better for me. I must have moved them around 30 times before I was happy with the balance and design. I started with the red beads and some other beads that I did not end up using. I had just purchased the bone beads this weekend and I thought they worked well for the piece.

Last week my mom and I made a trip into Missoula (1/2 hour north of us) to visit a couple of galleries and hopefully make some appointments to show them some of my work. The first place we stopped was Whooping Crones Gallery and the owner said she had time and wondered if I had brought any with me. Being rather an optimistic person and always wanting to be prepared for an opportunity, I had conveniently placed a number of my works in the back of my car. I brought them in and she was very interested and will be showing several of them in her gallery for the month of January! I was so excited at this positive reception of my work and her interest in having fiber works in her gallery. Currently there is a show hanging in the Gallery for the month of November and December of works done by members of the Surface Design Association which are wonderful and worth seeing. I am honored to follow them and have my work shown in a gallery that is displaying fiber art in such a respectful and professional way.
If you are in the area, please visit the gallery at 508 E. Broadway (across from the Children's Theatre building). I believe my works will be hanging from First Friday until the end of January.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Check out the Studio Art Quilt Associates auction on I have donated a piece on page 2b that is up for auction right now called "Birds of a Feather" (see it at the bottom of my blog), but there are many other wonderful pieces. This is a reverse auction where the pieces start at $750 and go down each day until they get to $75.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trunk Show and Thread Program

This week I had my first trunk show for a small group of quilters (about 35) in the nearby city of Missoula, Montana. I showed just over 30 of my early and current art quilts and talked a little bit about the techniques and development of them. My mother graciously assisted me by holding up the quilts and walking them around the semi-circle so everyone could see the quilting and embellishment on them. It appeared that they really enjoyed them and they had some great questions for me. I felt very good about the experience and would look forward to doing it for other groups in the future.

Tonight I will be half of the program for our local quilt group talking to them about using threads and other fibers to enhance and embellish quilts. I'm certainly no thread expert, but I have tried many things and experimented so hopefully I have some hints and tips that might be useful to other quilters. The other half of the program is a woman who does a lot of beading. I have only recently started beading on my quilts so don't feel qualified yet to give advice in that area, but I'm looking forward to seeing what she has to say and show! I'm planning to show a few of my quilts that illustrate how I have used various threads and other ways of using fibers such as couching, thread painting, hand embroidery, and sashiko stitching.

With these two activities so close together I haven't been very creative in my studio this past week. I get very distracted by having to be prepared for something and just seem to get blocked creatively. I'm hoping once tonight is a thing of the past I will be able to return to my brown tree quilt and maybe even get it layered and start quilting. I'm still thinking some cutouts might be in the plan…

My husband came home last night from hunting out of town with two mule deer does and a buck in the truck so today we are cutting and wrapping venison for the freezer. I have a short break here while he trims and cuts some steaks for me to wrap, but I'm sure he'll be calling me at any moment to get back to work!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


My six year old was decked out as a street sign last night which was so simple to make and such a hit!  He wore a knit hat with the sign on it, gray sweat pants and sweat shirt, gray gloves, gray socks.  He was a little embarrassed (six year olds usually go in for superheroes), but all the good comments made him a bit more proud of what mom had made him into. I can remember a particularly embarrassing costume that I wore in grade school. It was probably due to reminding my mom the day before that I needed a costume so I had to wear whatever she came up with. It was the Emperor's New Clothes and I had on long underwear and a purple cape. I would rather have been a street sign!

Usually my goal with my son's costumes is to make them comfortable so he won't mind wearing them all evening and cute enough that we get some good pictures for the scrapbook.  In past years he has been dressed as Ferdinand the Bull (from a popular children's story) and a bottle of ketchup (very cute). This year's was definitely the easiest.

Now to change the subject, I thought I would show you some of my recent finished art pieces so you can see more of what kind of work I do. Sometimes the works in progress are so rough you can't see where they are going or how they might end up and I'd like to let you know that they do eventually turn into something!

The first one arose from experimenting with melting synthetic fabrics with a heat tool and is called "It's A Scorcher". Various fabric scraps of different times from lame to acrylic felt were layered and then covered with organza. I stitched the layers to hold them together, then I randomly melted areas with the heat tool. I sliced the piece in three units and attached it to a background then embellished with twisted wire, long bugle beads and couched yarn.  The picture is not the greatest mostly I think because of the bright oranges in the fabric, but you get the idea.

The second piece is called "Out My Window" and in it I used some photo transfers on silk (left) and organza (right) portraying some cottonwood trees in my backyard. I embellished with some beads, a touch of embroidery, and stamping. I love the boldness of this quilt created by using just three colors. It was made for our local quilt show that was in July with the theme of "In My Backyard". Didn't win any ribbons, but I like it.

I have a few quilts done more recently that my dad just helped me take pictures of and I'll try to get a couple of those up here for you to see once I get them onto my computer. It would be nice to get some comments on my work and please let me know what you would like to see or hear about. But even if you don't wish to comment, please do visit again!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Piece on the Design Wall

I started on a new piece and it is going well I think. I really like the colors, although the fabric I used for the tree might be a bit dark. I'll work with it though because I don't like the fusing and cutting out so I'd rather not do it again. Quilting and beading can improve a myriad of problems and design flaws!

This piece will have some leaves dangling from the tree branches on strings of seed beads and I think one will also dangle from the moon. That decision will be finalized later after I get the background together and the tree on. I'm trying to decide how much, if any, of the background to actually piece together versus my usual method of machine appliquing the fabrics onto a backing fabric. I'm thinking possibly a combination of the two might work.

Note that this piece is cropped somewhat so that you don't see the clutter on my design wall and around the piece.  The red moon is actually set into the quilt surface a bit more than it appears.

My original sketch of this design has curved background pieces simulating a landscape and another sketch idea has the hills strip pieced from the various fabrics and then cut out and appliqued to the piece so each layer of the landscape has multiple fabrics in it. With the fabrics I'm using I think the strip pieced option might be too busy.  I'm leaning toward the current straight line background right now but trying to decide whether to curve them like hills before I attach them. It's not stitched down yet so I can still change my mind!

I definitely work much quicker on a piece when I can somewhat visualize the end result as I can on this one. Since I know I want to have dangling leaves and some beading I can see in my mind how it might look when it is done. At this stage it is quite simplistic, but by the end with the embellishment and quilting I think it will be a very intriguing and wonderful piece. More to come….!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thread Class and Next Project

Yesterday I attended a workshop on threadwork and had a good time playing around all day. We did couching, thread painting, calligraphy with thread, and other techniques. It was good to create samples of all of these options for future reference when I can't think of what to do for a piece. One technique that created some interesting results was using highly contrasting threads in the bobbin and top and then increasing the top tension to around 6 to cause the bobbin thread to come up and create an interesting look on surface of the fabric. I used a black fabric, red upper thread and green in the bobbin. The spiral design I made looked very similar to a strawberry (red with little green dots for seeds)!  The flower below was done over a very simplified crayon drawing.  The tree is just a little postcard done freehand/freemotion.

I'm ready to begin something new and continue to ignore the large tulip piece for a while. I'm thinking of taking it down so I don't have to look at it for a while and then coming back to it later. Maybe in the meantime an idea will come to me. It happens. I'll hope for the best. At least I'll be able to move on and be a little productive!

My mom is also a quilter and obviously where I get any talent I might have and certainly my inspiration. We have both purchased some of the same fabric and are challenging ourselves to create pieces featuring it. Hers is well on its way but so far mine is nothing but a pile of fabrics. I love the fabrics I've chosen but nothing has come to me as how to use them. I think I'll have to go back through my sketch/idea notebook and see if I come across anything in there that triggers a design. Keeping that notebook has been a valuable resource for me and lets me never forget an idea no matter how incomplete a thought it might be or how unattainable it might seem at the time. You never know where the next great artwork idea will come from and sometimes they blossom from what you thought you'd probably never see come to fruition. So I write everything down. And sometimes it works for me. Serendipity.

Well, sitting at the computer never gets anything onto the design wall so I guess I'll end this here. More soon…

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Recent Works

This is my first post and I'm new to blogging, so bear with me!  I want you to see what I'm doing in the fiber art world so keep reading!

I've been stymied by one piece I'm working on (see above) and now I have some prior commitments to attend to outside the studio, so I guess it will remain undone on my design wall until I can be inspired to return to it.  It is a bold and colorful quilt that is much different than my usual---although I'm not sure I have a "usual" style!  It is also larger than most of my recent pieces and it seems to be a difficult size for me.   It is hard sometimes for me to show people my works in progress as they are quite rough compared to what they will eventually become.  Unfortunately I don't have a clear vision of this one and how it will look, but you can get an idea of the lines and bold color.  I definitely have some work in front of me to tie this together and balance it out.  It will come, it will come....!

I have just finished a piece (picture of it below before it was completely done) that is based on the log cabin pattern but has modern twist to the piecing and color.  I love how the colors (purple and lime) play in this one and I'm really happy with how the embellishments worked out.  It was a stubborn quilt when it came to actually quilting it and I had to put it aside for several weeks.  My machine kept skipping stitches and breaking the thread constantly.  I finally picked it up again last week and zipped right along with the quilting with very few problems, even using metallic threads.  I had planned to enter it in a show but that deadline passed and I guess it just wasn't meant to be.  It just did not want to be done for that one! I'm sure something else will come along for it.  I will be showing it at a trunk show on November 5 along with many of my other art pieces.  

My goal these days is to sell my quilts so I'm trying to get them out there for everyone to see and let people know about what I am doing.  I'll try to get some more pictures onto my blog so you can see the work I've been doing.  Right now I need to get ready for my quilt guild meeting tomorrow night so come back again later to see what I'm up to!  

Stuffed Turkey Thigh/Legs

Disclaimer: This is a cooking post not an art post!  But I will say that there is an art to boning, stuffing and baking this recipe--and it ...