Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Creativity

As I have in the past several years, I went to my niece's for Thanksgiving and as always her creativity in cooking and table decor were over the top.  She never does the same thing twice.

I forgot to take pictures of her Pumpkin Martinis that we imbibed before dinner with scrumptious appetizers.  She coated the martini glass rims with crushed graham crackers and it tasted like an alcoholic pumpkin pie (which I love) in a glass.

I did take a few pictures

This year her tablecloth was an embroidered silk with couched ribbons.  The roses and tulips were a perfect shade of apricot and the pumpkins were silver to coordinate with the silver chargers.

The soup was pumpkin/peach with a creme fraiche and toasted pumpkin seed garnish. I didn't take pictures of the rest of the meal, but it was the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings and everything was delicious.  I love Thanksgiving.

At my house this weekend I will be taking my Autumn decor down and starting to decorate for Christmas.  It's a huge undertaking and getting harder to do as I get older, so I am hiring a young man to get the two trees and all the trimmings from the basement, but I will do everything else myself.  I know it's a lot of work and most of my friends are scaling back, but I love the way the house looks and I will keep doing it as long as I can.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old Friend

Martha Sielman is publishing a new art quilt book, this one Abstract and Geometrics, right up my alley so I entered the two photos that you were allowed to be considered for the book.  I did not expect to be chosen as one of the feature artists, but was hoping at least to be in the running for the Gallery section of the book and that is what I got. She chose my Salsa City, one of my Configuration series, but wanted a new picture at a very high resolution.  I had to take the quilt out of storage to re-photograph it and I  had forgotten how much I like this quilt. It was like visiting an old friend. The colors just sing out and seem so perfect for this Thanksgiving season.

This quilt was made a few years ago for a special art quilt exhibit that the Houston show does every year.  That year the theme was Town and Country and I thought that another Configuration quilt would be just the thing.  It was a juried show and I was delighted to have mine accepted and I got to see it hanging at Houston. Unfortunately the exhibit traveled for three years and when I got my piece back it was too old to enter into any of the important shows.  So it has been rolled up and languishing on a quilt storage shelf in the guest room closet. I would love to see this hanging in a public space.  It certainly would brighten up a room. 


I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving however you choose to spend it.  I will be at my niece's, as usual enjoying her gourmet cooking and spectacular decorating.  Right now it is snowing like crazy here, but they promise a sunny day tomorrow so I'll be good to go.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday where Nina Marie wrote a great blog about being thankful for creativity and then see what some other creative people are up to.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How Sweet It Is

Every time I go to a big quilt show I drool all over the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen machines.  As happy as I am with my two Berninas, I loved the idea being able to sit down with a long arm and work on a bigger quilt with ease.  It has 16 inches of throat space and eight inches of vertical space.  I tried it at shows more than once, but never thought I had room for one in my very crowded studio.  But I had an L-shaped desk unit with my computer on one leg of the L and my desk on the other and my printer in the corner between the two.  Now that I have a lap top and a wireless printer, I no longer needed that part of the desk.

This is nothing like a regular stand-up long arm machine in which you move the machine to make the quilting stitches or you can set it to use a pantogram and it quilts all by itself.  On a regular long arm, which is huge and takes up a whole room, the whole quilt is attached to a frame.  On my new machine it is like free motion quilting with any domestic sewing machine.  You still have to move the quilt around under the machine, it's just that you have more room.  I like to describe free-motion quilting to the uninitiated like this.  Imagine that someone is holding a pencil straight up and down and you are moving your paper under that pencil to get your drawing. You have to coordinate how fast you move the quilt with how hard you push down on the foot pedal.  Move too fast and you get big galloping stitches, too slow and you get tiny, tiny stitches.  You want to strive for consistent stitch length (a quilt judges's favorite comment).

Soooo... I ordered one at Houston and it arrived the other day.  Today I had two strong young men carry the desk and a filing cabinet out of the studio and into my car to go to Good Will and move my new table and machine in place.  It is in front of a window and looks like it was always there.

The sales rep from the Quilt Basket in Pawling, NY is coming over in a couple of weeks to set it all up for me and show me the ins and outs of it all.  The threading and the bobbin are a little different that my Bernina and I sure don't want to screw it up.  I don't have a big quilt to quilt right now so I certainly can wait and in the meantime I can admire it and dream of happy quilting sessions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One More Small Piece

This one is for my guild's challenge.  It's not due until January, but with the holidays coming up, I don't want anything hanging over my head.  The theme this year is Simply Solids.  Only solid fabrics can be used, no tone-on-tone, no prints that read as a solid, no batiks, no mottled.  You probably know that most of my quilts are made with my hand-dyes, but I purposely make them mottled.

I toyed with a lot of ideas and decided to go with one more with fine-line piecing since they are so much fun to do. I went to my small box of solids and was determined to use what was in there and not buy anything new.  I originally wanted do something bright, but they were not in the box, so I went with some very "un-Norma" colors.  I had a lot of browns left from Brown Planet and I picked a coral, a bright pink, a very pale blue and very pale green although those last two read pretty much the same in the quilt.

What surprised me was how the pinks receded into the background and the pale colors jumped to the front.  I liked that!

Frazzled   16" x 18'

Again, I decided to do a lot of free-motion quilting in the open areas.  It's a little hard to see the brown thread on the brown fabric, but it does give an added interest. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see more detail and more of the quilting.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.  Go see what some very talented artists are doing this week.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Small Piece

This is one of the small pieces that I said I had to make before getting on to my next big quilt. It only measures 10" x 14", but was quite a lot of work. mainly because I started two others that didn't work out for one reason or another.  This will be for a FANE exhibit in the spring and it will be hung inside, but not touching a navy blue ornate frame. Hard to explain, but when it's closer to the show, I'll show it again.

The color is a little off and it is not darker at the bottom, as it looks here.  The color is actually screaming yellow and very bright turquoise.  It is not shy. 

I wanted to get smaller sections, but no matter where I put my ruler to slice, I would run into an intersections, not a good place to piece, so I decided to take advantage of those somewhat larger areas and do some fancy free-motion quilting.  

I  have done this kind of skinny piecing before, but Kathy Loomis has perfected it and I have followed some of her directions on her blog. She makes enormous quilts using this method, but small is fine with me. It is a lot of fun, just the sort of tedious, yet satisfying, piecing that I love to do. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Craft Center Opening

Last night was the opening for the Holiday Sale at the BCC.  It was very well attended, pretty much packed the whole time I was there.  We had live music, yummy treats to eat including huge shrimp, crackers and cheese and assorted passed hot hot d'oeuvres and a nice selection of wines.

My two framed pieces were hung one above the other with some colorful pottery on the table below.

They hung my little 6" x 6" pieces on point, something I had never thought of, but I thought they looked just fine flanking this beautiful mosaic framed mirror that I was lusting over.  Alas, no room for it in my house.

The show runs through the holiday season and is a great place to shop for those one-of-a-kind gifts, so do drop in if you live anywhere in the area.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ginkgoes Galore

You probably know how fond I am of ginkgoes.  Just take a look at my banner above.  I've used them in several quilts, large and small, so when the Brookfield Craft Center asked if I would make some small pieces for sale at their holiday sale, I knew they would be my focus.

I made 6" x 6" pieces and mounted them on canvases the same size.  I painted the sides of the canvas to coordinate with the piece.  Some were painted black and some a color that was prominent in the piece. I used my hand dyed fabrics for all the leaves.  Several years ago I was buying up every different striated batik I could find and I used those for the backgrounds.

For this one I used my shibori for the background,

This is a postcard in a shadow box frame.  The ginkgo is made from embossed velvet with some pearl nuggets on a striated background.

The galla opening for the Holiday Show in this coming Friday night.  They always have an abundance of gorgeous crafts, making it a great place to shop for holiday gifts, so if you live nearby, be sure to stop in.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.  Lots of great art to peruse so please stop by.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Houston, Part 3

I had a productive two days in the studio for a change and I finished the six small pieces that I have to deliver on Monday (more on that at another time), so I have time to show you just a few more quilts that caught my fancy.

Conflagration, Desolation, Rejuvenation and Jubilation by Vickie Conley depicted the different stages of a huge forest fire in her area.

Striped Storm by Gabriel Paquin had a wonderful use of striped fabric.

Canola Fields by Leah Gravells used 3/4 inch strips of 199 batik fabrics in a quilt-as-you-go technique with quarter inch seams.  It gave the appearance of cording. Stunning!

Eloise Joins the Circus by Janet Fogg won a first in Whimsical.  Detail below.

Her incredible quilting made the elephant skin look so real.

What's not to love about this cheery quilt, Umbrellas in the City, by Terri Krysan? It certainly brought a smile to my face.

After we took a picture of Masako Sakagami with her blue ribbon winner Fuji and Sakura, she insisted that her friend take a picture of her with my sister and me.  She spoke not a word of English and yet in pantomime explained one of her techniques.  We all speak quilting!

Well, that's it folks for this year.  I wish I could show you all the quilts that I loved, but that would take forever.  Suffice it to say that Houston lived up to its sparking reputation for being a world class show and I'm already looking forward to going next year. Hopefully I'll have something in the show, too.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Houston , Part 2

I know, I know, I said that I would post sooner, but I've been busy and it takes me so long to slog through my pictures, decide which ones I want to show and then prepare them for the blog.  It is very labor intensive.  I didn't take as many pictures as usual and I hardly took any pictures of the big winners because you can see them here on the official website for Quilts, a World of Beauty.  You can click each picture for a bigger view.  As usual the workmanship and creativity was truly awesome.

So....I will show you some that caught my eye for some reason or other.  Maybe it was the color, or the machine quilting or the simplicity or that I just liked it.  In no particular order, here they are:

Home on the Reef by Betty Busby.  This won a big award in one of the special exhibits and it was a very big quilt.  I got to meet Betty, who was utterly charming and shared many of the techniques in this quilt.  I have long admired her work and was so happy that I finally got to meet her.  Some details below.

There's No Nest Like Home  by Helen Godden and Pat Godden.  What appealed to me about this was that the surface was covered with couched threads and yarns on a pieced background. Detail below.

Uprooted by Deborah Boschert. I particularly liked the painted surface design on this.  Detail below.

Chasing Bubbles by Hiroko Miyamo

I met the maker of this joyous quilt, a cute little Japanese man, about 5 feet tall, who spoke very little English.  He won one of the very big awards last year for the appliqué portrait of his Golden Retriever.  He had three quilts in the show this year and the dog was in all of them. This won a Second Place in his category.

Dotting Inside the Box by Sandi Snow
This quilt called to me from across the room for its brilliant color and spectacular quilting.  When I read her artist's statement, I saw that what I thought was a whole cloth quilt was actually intensely pieced.  See the detail below. This did win a First in Art Quilts Small, the category that I am usually in.  Don't be fooled by the word "small".  It is what I would call a big quilt.

Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman

I am so sorry that I didn't get the maker's name on this one, but I liked the simplicity and the intense straight line quilting shown in the detail below.

Shake the Tree by Sue Dennis.  The surface design on this appealed to me.  See detail below.

Again, I forgot to photograph the sign, so I don't know the maker, but I loved the color and design and the quilting.

Saffron in the Park by Cindy Cooksey
 I had seen The Gates in NYC back in 2005, so this excellent rendering brought back some fond memories.  There was a little swatch of that fabric.  I had made a small journal quilt about it and also used some of the gates actual fabric.

In Still Water by Sherry Davis Kleinman


This was the 40th or Ruby Anniversary of the show. This spectacular display was breathtaking.  There were antique quilts and contemporary quilts reminiscent of that show that was in the Armory in NYC a few years ago.  I missed that one, so I was glad that I got to see this. Red and white quilts all around that tall ring hung from the ceiling, inside and out and many, many quilts large and small hung on panels below.

 I spotted this quilt from across the room because of the colors.  It was the exact same palette that I had used last year for my Brown Planet.  I must admit that I thought it was stunning.  Again, shame on me for not getting the name.

Fern Risng by Claudia Pfeil
I admired the colors and movement in this quilt and the fabulous quilting shown the detail below.

Remember the Ladies by Connie Fraiser Harris
Connie was in my small local quilt group several years ago.  I'm not sure where she lives now and I think she has a new last name due to a new marriage.  She always makes incredible quilts about women, often humorous as this one was.

The Dogs by Shannon Connoley

Shannon is one of my blog buddies and I was glad to see her work up close and in person.  It was a great rendition of three of her dogs. 

Dazzling Dahlia by Andrea Brokenshire
 I would have sworn that this was a photograph, but it was hand painted fused appliqué on a pieced background.  It truly was dazzling! One of my friends at the show grows prize-winning dahlias and I made sure that she saw this.

Mary Cannazaro (this time I forgot to get the title of the quit)

As I walked toward this quilt I thought that there is always something about a Log Cabin quilt that I love.  When I got closer to read the label I was pleased to see that it was made by Mary, a member of our local quilt guild.  It was done with her usual impeccable piecing and machine quilting and use of color.  Mary had two quilts juried into the show.

Willow Meditation by Jane Davila

It's always fun to see quilts by someone that you know.  This quilt by Jane Davila and the one below by Natalya Atkins are both in my FANE group that meets monthly. They were part of a special SAQA exhibit, Reflections.

Spectacular Reflection by Natalya Atkins

That's it for now. I may or may not show you some more, but I have a lot of sewing to do in the next few days to get some small pieces ready for the holiday sale at the Brookfield Craft Center. 

 Please click on any picture to see bigger views of then all.