Sunday, July 30, 2006

No pictures this weekend, but

it has been a good weekend. In addition to continuing the work on the house quilt, I got my July journal quilt done- and that's why there's no pictures! I'm happy with this one, too, and when I look at the last 3 I've done, there does seem to be an emerging 'handprint.' I think my quilt pages this year will be much stronger than what I did last year- and it will be much harder picking my best five. Not that I don't have a long ways to go in my artistic development, but I feel like I've taken some definite steps in the right direction.

There has been an interesting thread on the QA list the past week or so- whether or not it is possible to make a living as an artist, or more specifically, a quilt artist. I think it has helped me sort out my feelings, and set some goals. I only have six years to go in the state system to have twenty years towards retirement. And, I'll be sixty-two, with medical coverage paid until I'm seventy. I would probably still have to work at something- but hopefully it could be something less stressful, that leaves me more time for my art. And, I'm seriously looking at starting to do some private practice therapy. That may be the best way for me to combine my training as a clinical social worker and my art. But, I have time to plan ---

Monday, July 24, 2006

More fun, More work!!

I've actually spent the better part of the last four days playing! Friday, Shannon and I drove up to Brigham City, about 120 miles north of us, to see the Quilt National exhibit they have. It's only part of the whole show, but I'm so glad someone in Utah booked the show. It continues to amaze me that little Brigham City does it. They museum itself is small, but this is the third fiber show I've gone up there for in a year. And, the quilts were wonderful. I treated myself to the book about the show; since I already have the Art Quilt book that is the compilation of the Quilt National shows since 1995, I now have lots of eye candy on my bookshelf.

I've managed to get some dyeing in- a three yard piece of raw silk. I'm still on my lime green kick- it just seems to morph that way. First I microwave dyed it turquoise- where the color took, it took beautifully- but it was probably too large a piece to do this way. So, Saturday I overdyed it a lighter shade of lime green, and left it to bake on the driveway all day. Since we've been having temperatures of 100 plus for over a week, it was well batched when I washed it out Sunday morning. I still can't decide to use it as is, or tone it down a bit. I'll make some sort of a top out of it--

And, I started a house quilt as a gift for someone. I'm not used to doing such detailed work, or using a pattern- but this seems to be working well. I'm doing it with Betty Alof's class, Home Building, at Quilt University. I've dinked with some of her techniques, but mostly I'm being a good student. The biggest change I've made is using Liquifuse instead of Wonder Under for the big pieces, to avoid the stiffness. Here's where I started this morning--

And here's where I am now--

This whole process has my studio feeling chaotic and messy-- my quilting/cutting table, as I've slowly cut apart the pattern to compose the house--

Not messy by some standards, but it feels that way to me. Too much mess = not able to concentrate!

We're off to the park to see what's there for Pioneer Day--

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Two and a half years after I started a "sliced quilt" challenge with five other quilters, spread all over Utah- my quilt is DONE! At 4 pm today, I put the last stitch in the label. It is bound, has a sleeve, and a label crediting all those who had a hand in its making: Sandra Starley in Moab, DeAnn Burkhart and Sidney Baird in Salt Lake, and Loretta Nielsen and Deana Jennings in Emery County. So, unless something exciting happens when we (hopefully) all show our quilts at our state guild annual meeting in October, you won't have to read anymore posts about this quilt!!
So, now to the photos of the completed work!
In its entirety. . .

A little closer to the top, so you can see the quilting. . .

And now the bottom half. . .

Deana, were you not thinking about having to QUILT all those tiny Storm at Sea blocks? And the fish- a lost cause, he kind of stands out because there was no way my machine was going through all those layers.

This has been the most productive year I've ever had! Two quilts completed, with all the quilting done by me- something I never thought I would do. I'm happy with the result, and already trying to figure out what I'll be working on next!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

You are Catherine the Great.

You are very intelligent and a socialist. It is very important to you that all people be treated equally in a society. You are able to fully comprehend social problems and you are outspoken when it comes to dealing with them.

Take this quiz at

I love some of these quizzes! Since I was a history major in my first college life, this one was right up my alley. Can you tell I went into social work in my second college life??

It is the hottest day of the year so far, and we spent part of it at our unique piece of diversity in Utah County. This area is one of the most homogeneous places I have ever lived, so I'm pleased that we have something different to throw into the mix. On a hill in south Spanish Fork, overlooking the farms and ever-expanding housing developments, is a Hare Krishna temple. They have festivals 4-5 times a year, which are always interesting. You can eat good Indian-inspired vegetarian food, and if you have a hankering to re-create your college wardrobe from the late 1960's, they also have a selection of clothing, including some gorgeous Indian sari outfits. They also have a llama farm on the grounds, and every summer they celebrate Llama Fest. They have a variety of competitions for the llamas- which, to my surprise, are not cleaned and prettied up like sheep or cattle are for the shows at the fairs.

Like I mentioned, there's food to enjoy. . .

There's a large pond with koi between the temple building and the llama farm. Here's our granddaughter, Bentlee, enjoying the view of the fish.

Over at the llama farm, they allow you to walk in the pens and mingle up-close and personal with the llamas. Last year there were lots of babies- this year, none. I'm betting they had to sequester them away from all the curious onlookers! Here's Bentlee with one of the llamas- she's not sure of his intentions, we had to reassure her that he wasn't interested in her for dinner!

But, he was interested in some grain she offered. . .

They also had three cattle who reminded me of the sacred cattle in India- but much smaller. The adults are no larger than a St. Bernard dog.

And, when you've had enough food and llamas- there's music, everything from Andean to American country and rock. We found a seat on the grassy hill, and enjoyed.

Here's our parting view of the temple- beautiful detailing, both the outside and inside. All in all, a pleasant way to spend a Saturday evening, even with the heat.

And, still one more day this weekend to finish the manatee quilt. I'll have it done to take to Surface Design group on Wednesday night!!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I have been working again on the quilting for the manatee quilt- and, have made quite a bit of headway. I'm more than half done! Quilting is the part I struggle with the most- I agonize over quilting designs, and when I finally make it over that hurdle, I agonize over doing it well. My free motion skills are improving, but not as good as I would like them to be. I've got the manatees mostly done- I think just some touchup quilting; the water is done, and I am almost done with the underwater "ground." So, that leaves just the sky. I've been using variegated threads, both YLI and Superior, and really like the effect they give. Here's a couple of detail shots. . .
First, the water--

Next, the underwater "ground"- some of which was done with small paper-pieced "Storm at Sea" blocks!! I love the effect it gives, but it was not easy quilting where there were lots of seams.

Given that this quilt was actually made by six different people, with six very different visions, the quilting is the one element I have to "meld" them into (hopefully) a coherent whole. My jury is still out-- and feedback is welcomed!

There has been an interesting thread about design vs. technique on the QA list, and on a couple of blogs- Rayna Gillman and Liz Berg's, especially. I've jumped in a couple of times, feeling very much out of my league. I know that my reaction to art is an emotional one- I can tell you if I like it, and maybe some reasons why or why not. But learning the language of describing, or talking about art-- I'm still a novice there. And it is truly an entirely new language for me. Liz Berg makes the point that quilters are too insular, we need to look and learn from outside our medium. I agree, and am grateful that I've had at least some exposure to painting and photography from my brother. But then, I'm sure he refrained from getting too technical with his artistically illiterate sister! Regardless, it's an education I will continue to seek out as best I can- simply because I must.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I've been looking forward to this workshop with national artist Judith Trager for ages- and, it was a wonderfully relaxing three days. The best part was not the workshop itself, but the chance to get to know other members of the Utah Surface Design Group better. Hard to do that when you meet every other month for a couple of hours! And, best of all, there seems to be sufficient interest in forming a sub-group for art quilters. We're meeting in August to talk organization.

The group in the workshop was varied- it ran the gamut from those who are just getting into non-traditional quilting, to two members who have had work exhibited in Quilt National and the Bernina Fashion Show. We had a blast painting, printing, and just creating fabric, and then learning to cut it up to make pieced backgrounds which then get more printing and painting! I actually got one project mostly done during the workshop, then finished it off yesterday.

I learned one valuable lesson- never take the supply list at face value. I had all the supplies on the list, but when Judith told us what we'd be doing the second day, I figured I would have to drive home to raid my stash. A couple of classmates kindly offered to let me raid theirs, which was great. Between what I had, and what they added, I was able to construct five blocks, four of which were used to construct a larger background, and the last which was used for this project. Once the background was completed, I was stumped- I had no clue where this was going. Second lesson- I generally do better when I start with an idea. It may get changed during the process, but I have a general direction in mind. With this, I got as far as adding the diagonal line with black tulle, which held lots of minced scraps. It still wasn't speaking to me-- but when I got home, Shannon took one look at it and said that it reminded her of an underwater scene. So, yesterday I quilted the background, added the grass, stamped the crab and two seahorses,and beaded it. Not a masterpiece, but fun. And yes, it is supposed to be wonky. I plan to velcro it to a mat board, and then frame it.
While we worked on our pieces, Judith created a small leaf picture, sharing her processes with us along the way:

And, here she is with the finished piece---

Renee, who organized this workshop, was the lucky recipient of this small, signed work! Here she is with her own creation:

The classroom was small and crowded- not really set up for messy processes like painting and printing. But, we managed- here's a shot of other busy at work.

I had a table right up front, close to Judith. By the end of the third day, I decided that Lisa in the far corner got the best spot- she had more room to hold all her stuff, and didn't have to deal with people walking around her. However, I hope the next time we do this it's in a large room with cement floors!
One last day before it's back to work. Think Shannon and I will take Sadie out for a walk, hopefully someplace up higher and cooler. Then tonight it will be watching the grandkids do their fireworks, and finding a fireworks show somewhere around here. May your Fourth be a safe and happy one!!
May we use this day to reflect on the blessings we have as a nation- and, perhaps, to remember our history and learn from it?? I dont' usually look forward to winter, I am a warm-climate person- but, if for no other reason than it is an election year, I am looking forward to November.