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 www.saqa.com. 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!

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 ...