Monday, January 20, 2014

Starting The Year Off Right


I have started my year off by taking some chances.  I have submitted some articles that might not be quite what the magazines are looking for, but I am hoping they might take a chance on me anyways.  One of the most difficult things about my effort to write and submit articles to magazines has been trying to find the right place for them.  I tend to write like I create my art---by inspiration.  So whatever I am inspired to write I write, rather than writing what I think a particular magazine might be interested in.  This means I then have to think about where it might be the best fit with the publications that I am familiar with. 

The problem is that much of what I write is from an artist or art quilter point of view rather than a quilter's point of view which means that many traditional quilters may not relate to what I have to say.  Even as an art quilter there may be part of that audience that wouldn't be interested in the more business related aspects of my creative efforts.  I am always working on my business whether it is maintaining contacts, marketing my work and myself, communicating with potential customers and fellow artists/quilters, or keeping up with show entries and paperwork.  Not to mention trying to create art! 

I have many friends and acquaintances in the quilting world and in the art quilting world.  There are a lot of art quilters in my area as there has been a local effort to nurture them and keep an active community.  Unfortunately, very few are pursuing their art as business as I am.  The people who I feel closest to in what I am doing are the longarm quilters who are also busy marketing and nurturing clientele.  I have one friend who has written a book and is writing another about quilting, mostly traditional, and she has been a good source of encouragement as we try to reach outside our active but limited local community of quilters/art quilters. 

So, wishing that I had the support of others working towards the same goals and wishing there were more options for publication of the types of articles I am inspired to write (and pay me for them!), I am struggling with my efforts and just hoping that the magazines that do exist will like what I write enough to give it some space in one of their issues--but I'm not holding my breath!  And I'm hoping that maybe I will soon find some like-minded individuals in a new effort I am hoping to undertake this spring.  I have applied for participation in a local artists group that sponsors a studio tour which has become popular and quite successful for the participant artists.  I admire many of these artists and look forward to interacting with them more about what we are trying to do to market and promote our creative endeavors.

So, wish me luck in whatever I decide to tackle next and let's hope that one of the magazines agrees to give me a shot and publish my writing.  The waiting is always difficult and the rejections even more so, but I keep trying and I've had enough success to have a positive outlook and hopeful attitude.  I have had 3 articles published already so I know that they like my writing style.  It is just the trick of finding the right topic for them to fit into one of their issues.  I'll keep writing and I'll keep submitting and who knows.....!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Strata Art Quilt Class

I am teaching my "Strata Art Quilt" class again so I thought I better put it out here in case someone in this area happens to read my blog---don't think it happens very often but I'll give it a go anyways!

Here are the particulars:

Strata Art Quilt Class
Where:  Vicki's Quilts Down Under, Missoula, Montana
Date:  Saturday, March 8, 2014
Time:  10:00am to 4:00pm
Phone (Vicki's):  (406) 728-9446

Call or visit Vicki's to sign up, get a class supply list and see the sample quilt and magazine article about this easy art quilt that is a great way to learn about design.   Please feel free to e-mail me at if you have questions or want some more information.

The class will cover how to use some basic design principles to create a beautiful long narrow wall-hanging that is made up of varying widths of strips.  The small spaces created by these strips are great places to practice doing free motion quilting and maybe even some beading.  We will complete the top in the class and you will get lots of hints, tips and suggestions for completing the quilting and embellishing.

I love making these quilts because the piecing is so easy and I love the long narrow format.  Great for the end of hallway or narrow places like between doors or behind doors.  I also like how easy they are to quilt on my machine because they are so narrow.   And you don't have to do too much beading because they are narrow and I'm willing do do lots of dangles and fun stuff with the beading.  Whenever I get in a rut or have a block about what to do next I make one of these because they are fun and easy for me, and I love the end results.

Here are two examples of strata quilts that I have made (and I have made quite a number of them!).  The first is "Free Spirit" which started with a piece of hand painted raw silk and also incorporates some rusted Thai silk and rusted cotton.   The second one is "Sunny Disposition" which started with the flower fabric. 

If you enjoy playing with fabrics and color and you would like to learn more about combining them in a pleasing, artistic way, come and share some time with me and have some fun making a Strata Art Quilt!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Secret Garden: Door In The Wall

This week I worked on a piece that I will send in for the 2014 SAQA Trunk Show. The piece has to be 7”w x 10”h and they will travel around the country/world as several groupings to hopefully be an example of what kind of art quilts and techniques are being done in the fiber art world. I decided to use a motif that I use often so that it represents my work, which is the leaf.

The background was quilted to echo what I would be putting on top of it, cascading leaves and a path to the door. Not a whole lot of the background is visible once my leaves and door are attached. I zig-zag stitched some yarns around the edges to finish them. 

I made the door by using heavy-weight stabilizer between two pieces of fabric and then quilted it. I cut out a window in the door and placed a cotton fabric with fields of flowers and a piece of organza behind the cut out window. I added a bead doorknob as well.


Unfortunately you can't really see the effect of the organza layered over the floral fabric, but it is very interesting and does create kind of a depth like you are looking out a window to the fields beyond.

Some of the leaves are hand stitched to the background and a few are dangling from bead strands. The bottom seemed kind of naked and needed more weight so added some leaves there and then couched yarn over it. I added a purchased beaded chain at the top by hand tacking it onto the piece. 
I created a number of fabric leaves the same way as the door, layered with heavy-weight stabilizer and quilted.  Then I cut them out and the edges where the batting shows were colored with a marker so they aren't so white. 

There is quite a bit of dimension to the piece with all the leaves and beads, but hopefully it will still fit in the envelopes they use to protect the pieces. I didn't start out with the intention of it being so dimensional since it will travel a lot and that might not hold up as well as something flat, but that is what it came out to be and that is what it is!

Now that I look at the piece, I guess I was probably inspired by the book, "The Secret Garden", which I have read a couple times and I've seen the movie a number of times.  I always loved the idea of a door to a secret garden that is hidden amongst the leaves and vines.  Good book if you've never read it!  This is not the first time I've surrounded a door, window, or opening of some kind with dangling leaves--and probably won't be the last!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Happy! Philosophy for the New Year

"Off With Her Head"

 When my son goes back to school on Monday I am hoping to get back into my studio to get started on my next project which I have been putting off for weeks.  I have some deadlines to meet and need to get certain pieces done and I'm finding it hard to get myself into my studio.  I have done some tidying up in there and can now see my work surface, but I am still procrastinating and avoiding getting back into the swing of creating.  

I am not very worried as I know that once I get in there I won't be able to stop as I do have some ideas and I have some great, exciting fabrics to work with.  I've been sketching away in my sketchbook to come up with a 7"x10" piece for the SAQA Trunk Show that is due to them by the end of the month.  I have a couple of great ideas, although they will take some time so I really need to get going on them!  I can work rather fast when I am inspired, so again, I'm not worried!

Inspiration comes and goes and sometimes it is hard to know what you want to do next because an exciting idea is alluding you.  Nothing hits you as being the next great artwork.   Well, when this kind of artist's block hits me I just plunge in and start doing SOMETHING because that is so much better than NOTHING and it does get your juices flowing---no matter what it is.  That's when I like to do one of my Strata quilts which are simple piecing and it is fun just playing with arranging and rearranging the fabrics to come up with a nice composition.  Doing something like this that isn't difficult or too challenging gets you back into the swing of things in a kinder, gentler way!!  Do something small and not too difficult.  You'll start getting ideas for what you want to do next all the while you are working on it!

This year I have a new printer set up for wireless printing from my laptop which is what I do all my business and computer work on.  I used to have to power up our old computer and print things from it which was hit or miss whether it would cooperate as it is old and tired.  Now I can print, copy, scan---all that good stuff, right here from my laptop.  Now if we can only just get into the 21st century and get a high speed connection instead of dial-up (I know, I know, does ANYONE have dial-up anymore---pick me!).  We are working on that too and hopefully within the next month or it will happen.  How exciting that will be for many things I have to do on my computer.  Like these blog posts for instance.  Uploading photos is time consuming with dial-up.  I'll be able to upload the high resolution images when I do quilt/fiber show entries instead of running to the library to do it!  Even looking at blogs and websites of other fiber artists is a chore with dial-up.  Checking my e-mail takes forever just to load and move through the messages because of the slow connection.  The cost of the high speed internet will definitely be worth it for all the time it saves me.  That is if I can keep myself from spending all day looking at all your blogs and websites!!

This year I am going to increase my efforts in both writing and teaching.  I am working on scheduling another Strata class in Missoula and I've been pondering a couple of other classes that I might work up outlines for.  I have some articles that I need to finalize and figure out where to submit them.  Finding the right publication has proven to be challenging.  I am moving on and looking forward to some positive days and months ahead.  This funk is over and I'm looking forward to working hard this year at making my business and artistic endeavors successful and profitable.  These are fairly new activities for me so I still find them a bit daunting and I'm a little nervous about how well I will do with them.   I've had good luck so far and am hoping that continues.

Ups and downs are what makes life interesting and even though I am a very positive, glass-half-full kind of person I do have my occasional downs.  Disappointments and feeling unsupported take all the fun and inspiration out of being an artist sometimes.  You have to learn to create for yourself and get your art out there because you want to share it with whoever is interested.  If that isn't who you hoped would be interested there isn't much you can do about that!  Just appreciate whatever support you do get, and don't take any of it for granted.  I am fortunate to have parents who are very supportive of my artistic and business endeavors and very encouraging to me.  As artists themselves they understand much of what I feel and want with this pursuit, and they offer suggestions and ideas and listen to my rants and dreams.  

I wish you much inspiration and a strong creative spirit for this brand new year, and I hope that you find your way with whatever you are doing artistically.  Don't give up on your ideas.  Search out the resources and support that will help you move ahead and just enjoy what you are doing, creating, and planning for your future.  Whether that is the project you are going to do tomorrow, or the exhibition you are going to try to get into next month, or the new direction you hope to take next year, go forth with a positive spirit and joy.  Art is supposed to give us joy and thoughtfulness and invoke feelings.  We do it because we like to do it.  So like it.  Be inspired.  Be creative.  Be an artist.  

So philosophical!  Next post will be lighter and have more pictures---so do come back!!
Happy New Year!
"Off With Her Head" - detail image (round items are pennies)

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 ...