Saturday, April 21, 2007

An education!!

I spent the entire day Tuesday at the Home Machine Quilting Show in Salt Lake- scribing for a judge at least half the day. It's certainly given me a new perspective about the ongoing discussion on the QA list about "quilt" shows vs. "art" shows. For the most part, I think the judges on this one were open to more "art" quilts- although, this being Utah, I can't say I saw anything that really pushed the envelope. But most of the discussion was about bindings, quality of quilting, piecing and applique. Probably the most disappointing part for me was how every quilt I saw judged was given positive feedback for "Visual Impact and Use of Color" and . Sorry, I just couldn't agree that every quilt made a strong visual statement- and when everyone got that, it just made it meaningless for those that were visually strong pieces.

This show is judged, but not juried- and that was also obvious from the quilts, which ranged from superb, both from the quilt and artistic perspective, to amateurish. I took some pictures of the ones that struck me. I'm posting those for which I have the name of the artist.

What lessons did I learn? No stitch in the ditch, unless you can do it superbly, and work to get better control of my quilting. The manatee quilt didn't get a ribbon, but it did get some nice feedback from the judge. So I'm happy.

Best of Show went to Renae Haddadin, who was also a finalist in the most recent $100,00 Quilting Challenge. Her quilt was two-sided, and pretty amazing.

And the other side- -

Renae also had a smaller piece, which I found equally beautiful.

Her quilting is amazing---

Jessica Schick has taught here every year since the show started. This piece is airbrushed with Procion dyes, and heavily quilted.

Suzanne Hyland is here in Salt Lake, and belongs to the Surface Design and Art Quilt
groups. Having had the opportunity to see her work up close, I can say it is striking and beautifully made. If my quilting has gone up a notch this year, it is because of what I've learned from her. She designed this piece at Asilomar, at a workshop with Katy Pasquini Masopust.

I think this is a gorgeous example of taking a very traditional, simple design, and making it something special with metallic thread and over the top quilting.

Enough for now- but, I've got some hand-dyes in the washer, I'll post those results tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I've been working on something. . .

but no pictures, for a couple of reasons. First, it's my 2007 Journal Quilt, which can't be displayed online until the show is up in Houston next fall. Second, most of the work has happened on the computer and in my head. I've had an idea, it's been tweaked and revised, but I think it will come together. Very different from the last two years' Journal Quilts.

It was also another excuse to spend more time in the Journal Quilt book, since I have to reference the techniques I'm using. I think I came up with five different ones, so no problem there.

Tomorrow I'm volunteering at the Home Machine Quilting Show in Salt Lake. The show doesn't open until Thursday, but the judging is tomorrow. I'm helping them, I think as a scribe. My hope is to learn about the judging process, and what they look for. I know that there will be individual idiosyncrasies, but I still think it will be an opportunity to learn. I go back on Friday for a short volunteer stint, and hopefully to try out every frame system there. I am really hoping to get a frame system this year- I'll start out with my Juki on it, then hopefully upgrade to an 18" throat machine down the road. I am making a solemn vow to not buy any fabric- don't need to add to the collection I'll be packing up sometime soon! Maybe thread- but mostly I want to sample frames and machines.

I got a new toy from my brother, a 5 megapixel Canon camera. Had to download the manual, but I'm slowly getting to know it. I'll try to post pictures from the show.

Other news- I may be traveling to Tampa in the near future for a job interview. Nuff said, don't want to jinx anything!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

I've almost got the last three Bird of Paradise cards done. The thread painting is complete, I've auditioned quilting patterns, and hopefully will get them quilted and done tomorrow night. Since we are having a group of realtors tour our home Thursday morning, I'd like to have time to clean the studio! But I'm pleased with how they are coming out, and feel I've learned something by doing this series.

I've also been thinking about the last journal quilt. I'd like to get it mostly done before we have to pack and move, and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. It's totally different than past journal quilts- no flower or nature imagery. And, it should stretch me- but that's what the project is all about, no??

We spend a nice Easter weekend with the grandchildren. Saturday we colored eggs. I saw this idea on Gerrie Congdon's blog, and had to try it (even if it did come from Martha Stewart!) After a trip to DI (Utah's version of Goodwill), we came home with a bag of silk ties. I dismantled the ties, and ran them through the wash. Hint- if you do this, make sure you put the ties in one of those mesh laundry bags. When mine were done, they were a knotted mess, and had managed to wind around the washer agitator post. Took me fifteen minutes to unknot the mess and get them out!

You wrap pieces of the silk ties around the eggs, then wrap that with muslin or other cheap cotton. Wrap the cloth with rubber bands or twist-ties to hold the fabric close to the egg. Put in a pan, cover them with water, then add 3-4 tablespoons of white vinegar. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for at least 20 minutes. Drain the eggs- but don't rinse them. Let them cool, then remove the fabric. The result- cool patterned eggs! Most of ours weren't as bright as I'd have liked, but I think that was at least partly because I did rinse them. The kids thought it was neat, and we had fun doing it! Here's the results--

The black, white and red ones were our attempts to get Mickey Mouse onto eggs- mostly unsuccessfully. These two are my favorites--

On a last quilty note- the only big quilt show Utah has is in two weeks, and at the last minute I decided to enter the manatee quilt. Remember this one?

And, since I'm one of the volunteers that will be helping the judges prior to the show opening, I hope to learn something about how my work stacks up. Should be interesting! I'm also going to be test driving every mid-arm machine and frame there, in the hopes I can get at least a frame this year. Regardless of where we end up living, I will have room for my quilting!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


One day after my cataract surgery, and I am both amazed and grateful to be living in a time where such technology exists. The surgery went off without a hitch, despite the fact that I wasn't nearly as sedated (read, loopy) as I'd hoped and expected. If they gave me a sedative, I didn't much feel it. I'm pretty good at focusing and holding still when I need to- and all those skills were put to use yesterday. I head every word spoken in the operating room, heard the music and was tapping my fingers to it part of the time, and got a very interesting light show during the surgery. I was working hard to remember the colors and images- figured there had to be a quilt in it!!

But the best part- my extremely nearsighted left eye now has better vision than my right! My brain is still trying to figure out how to "blend" the vision from the two eyes, but it is pretty evident even this early that I will be seeing much better. Until the vision stabilizes, I'll be wearing older glasses with the left lens popped out. Looks weird, but it works!!

Just to be sure, I'm taking the week off from work. My vision may be funky at this point, but I was still able to color and wet another three bird of paradise postcards. This has been a real exercise in problem-solving. I've worked on what background looks best, how to blend colors in the images, what order to wet the colors to get the effects I want. Once the postcards are done, I'll take all that learning and do a journal-quilt size piece for my daughter-in-law's birthday this summer. She loves flowers, and I think she will like this.

Anyway, here's what the images look like after I color the fabric with the watersoluble wax pastels. I'm using pima cotton, which has a high thread count and smooth surface.

I don't wet the image all at once- I do the flower first, let it dry, and then wet the background. This seems to give me more control over the image lines. They bleed some, but not a lot. Here's some with the flower wet, but dry background.

Here's some after I've wet the entire surface, but before I begin threadpainting on the flower.

And, finally, here are some completed cards. I much prefer the lighter background to the dark ones I did on my first three cards. I did hand-stitching on these; the last bunch will have machine quilting on the background, with monofilament thread. I also found I'm less happy with the background quilting that competes with the central image- hence my decision to use monofilament on the last group.

I always seem to gravitate to flowers when spring hits. I love the colors, especially after our drab Utah winters. Since the bird of paradise is a tropical flower, I'll only see it potted indoors- but it's lovely nonetheless. And, I know Marly will like the bright colors.

If you have a yen to try these wonderful crayons, they are available at Dick Blick online. And, to see the different effects you can get with them, Holly Knott did a wonderful article in the Summer 2005 issue of Quilting Arts magazine.

Comments and critiques welcome!