Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tangled Textiles Challenge: Beginnings

Multiple Beginnings, 2012
16 X 16
Hand dyed and commercial cottons, machine pieced and quilted

This is my latest challenge piece with the Tangled Textiles online group.  The theme was Beginnings.  This one has two meanings for me: my love of beginning the day with a walk outside among the trees and farmlands in my area, and walking through the woods in Michigan on a camping trip with my son Ian and his fiance.  My inspiration came from these photos that I took on that camping trip.

I wanted to capture the myriad of greens, the sense of light and shadow coming through the trees, and the vertical lines of the tree trunks. The trees were just starting to show signs of fall color, and I wanted to capture that also. I think I did.

I fell victim, however, to what Jane Sassaman calls the 'tragedy of the literal', mainly in my quilting choices.  I'm just not happy with the quilting in the upper and very lower sections of the quilt- too literal.  And, I've about decided that the more modern quilts that use strip piecing and odd geometrics don't always lend themselves to the hyper-quilting that is so prevalent today.  I think I'd be happier with simple vertical and horizontal lines.  That would also have lent itself to some hand embroidery, which I'd wanted to do but decided against once the quilting was done.  In the detail shots, you can see how closely the top portion is quilted.

 I used a variegated thread in this, and I was surprised at how light it looks compared to when I puddled it on the quilt.  It's all shades of green, but a lot of it reads almost like white.  It tends to minimize the piecing lines much more than I was anticipating.

I'm determined to make this freeform piecing my own, which I figure is going to take some doing since so many artists have utilized this way of working.  Right now I'm thinking the biggest struggle I'll have is finding a quilting style that complements the simplicity of the piecing.  The literal-ness of this quilting just isn't working for me, so my next iteration of this will try something different.  I am certainly open to suggestions and input!
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday group.  There are plenty of other artists with interesting posts over there!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


After a week in Florida, I flew to Chicago to spend a week with my younger son Ian and his fiance Corey.  On the last day of my week with them, we took the train downtown and spent the day walking Chicago.  I lived outside of Chicago (not far from where Ian is living now) in the late 70's and early 80's, but I haven't been back in years.  Maybe 1990?  I can't remember.

Obviously, a lot has changed since I was there.  We decided we were going to visit the Shedd Aquarium, and walked there from the train station.  At times, I felt like I was walking through an urban slot canyon!

We walked over the river more than once on our journey through the city.

I'm sure I embarrassed Ian multiple times looking like a tourist with my camera!

I loved the view of the city from the aquarium.  I could never live in this huge city, but the waterfront there is beautiful.

A nice gentleman offered to take a picture of all three of us at Buckingham Fountain.

Just across Lake Shore Drive from this park, we stumbled into an urban garden.  I found it fascinating.

And, I loved stumbling onto urban art as we walked around.  At first I thought this was the plaza in the last scenes of the Blues Brothers, but Ian informed me otherwise.  The building is a post office, not the Chicago city offices.  Oh well, I like the sculpture anyway!!

My favorite urban sculpture, however, was the Bean.

The 'views' of the city in the Bean were fascinating.  I now have quite a collection of city pictures, which I'm sure will provide plenty of inspiration for future quilts.

We were exhausted after walking the city the entire day.  It was nice to be able to sit back on the train, and let someone else worry about driving back to the suburbs!

Monday, October 15, 2012

St. Augustine

I'd told my son I wanted to go there this trip, since they probably won't be living in Florida that much longer.  He's done with school in March 2014, and he's anticipating relocating for a new job when he's done. 

So we left for St. Augustine on Sunday.  I have now traveled almost the entire length of Florida, and I can say it is all pretty much the same- lots of trees, lots of green.  If I didn't have signs, I doubt I could tell the difference between Daytona Beach or Naples.

St. Augustine is an interesting mix of history and tourist schlock.  We got a hotel within walking distance of everything we wanted to see- the old town and the castillo. We walked the old town streets, browsing in some of the more interesting shops.  I was disappointed that a fiber/cloth store I found was closed on both Sunday and Monday.

I loved the sense of history that was evident throughout the old part of town.  The European roots of this city were clear, from some of the cobbled streets to the Place de la Constitucion, the oldest public square in North America.

But the best part was the Castilo de San Marco.  We walked the outside on the first day, but waited until Monday to pay to go inside so we wouldn't be rushed.  It was worth the wait.

This was inside the castilo, in the soldier's bunk area.  This is a bed for four- two up, two down.  They weren't much bigger than a twin bed.
 The park rangers give talks throughout the day.  I got to see their costumes- they are wool.  I can't imagine wearing that in Florida in July.  The one I spoke with said the one concession to the weather was forgoing the big overcoat everyone would have worn in the seventeenth century.

The view of the city from the top part of the castilo was stunning.
 I'll end this with a picture of my beautiful Michelle, taken on the castilo grounds.

Add in a little bit of shopping, good food- it was a wonderful two days.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hellooo Out There!

Two weeks since my last post.  It's taken that long to get most of my photos from the trip edited, and to get my head wrapped around being back at work.  Then last weekend we took off and spent a couple of days with a friend in Moab, always a welcome trip.

And, I went to a second meeting with the art quilt group I've found in Utah county. I am really liking this group of women, they are energetic and creative.  One of the members, Sue, has a blog and took some pictures at the meeting- they are posted here.  She also makes the most gorgeous jewelry, and has an Etsy shop.  I've drooled over the pieces she's worn to the meetings.

Some of the group got together Saturday afternoon to dye and paint fabric.  I wanted to get more greens in my stash, and got 3 different value gradations done.

I wanted toned greens, so each of these gradations has a different amount of red in it.  I also used two different sets of primary colors.  I knew I wouldn't do solids, so I did these LWI with lots of squishing and massaging to smooth out the texture.  Some still have a lot of mottling, but I'm pleased with how they turned out.

Of course I was so focused on the gradations, I forgot to take pictures of what everyone else was doing.  Bonnie and Liza Ann were playing with Setacolors and trying to sunprint, but the sun wasn't cooperating.  Kathleen did a hue gradation that looked very interesting, and was still dyeing when I left. Kathleen helped Denise and Pat get some colors dyed for projects they were planning, and I helped Denise with a small parfait.  All in all, it was a fun afternoon.

I also did a parfait, just to give Denise and Pat and idea of what it is.  I did lemon yellow on the bottom, strongest red next, then cobalt blue and finally cerulean.  Oh, and I added a dab of red to both the blues.  This is what I got.

The bottom one, the yellow, was glorious.  Take a look at this!

I'm keeping this one up on the design wall for awhile, just so I can look at all those glorious greens and yellows.

I have been working on my Tangled Textiles challenge piece- it is pieced, sandwiched, and I have been auditioning quilting designs.  I think I know where I'm headed, and will finish it next weekend (just before the reveal!!)

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures from my camping trip with my son Ian and his fiance Corey- we went to Ludington State Park in northwest Michigan.  It was a very last minute decision to go there- we changed our plans the morning we left, mostly hoping to find warmer weather in Michigan than in northern Wisconsin where we'd originally decided to go.  The park had wonderful acomodations (real bathrooms and showers, no less!!), and a plethora of biking and hiking trails, all accessible from the campground.  It is the 'sense of place' that inspired my TT piece, and probably more after that one.

For someone who has spent most of her life in the desert west, the lushness of the woods was breathtaking.  I couldn't get enough of all those greens!!