Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recovering From Houston quilt Festival

Well, I'm back from my first Quilt Festival in Houston. What an overwhelming experience. I flew in for four days with a friend from LA. I stayed in luxury at the Four Seasons, but walked my socks off to and from the Convention Center and around the floor. So many fabulous quilts - hundreds of vendors. It literally took me three days to cover the vendor floor - my box of purchases should be arriving in a day or so.

It was great visiting my quilts on display in the show including "Fossil Fueled" (above in the IQA Judged show) and my three in various traveling shows - "Night Flight" in In Full Bloom, "Stairway to Heaven" in Tactile Architecture and "Balancing Act" in West Coast Wonders.

I signed up for only two classes - I had been warned that I would need loads of time to cover the show - and neither was a disappointment. Susan Cleveland's class on miters was fabulous and my Saturday class with the wonderful Pam Holland doing travel journal quilts was so inspiring that I spent most of my time on the plane home with my sketchbook sorting out ideas. I can't wait to get going on it again.

My favorite quilts in the show? Well, my friend Sharon Schamber's quilt "Mystique" won a well deserved Best of Show. Pam Holland's Rhinosceros after a drawing by Albrecht Durer and her sample from her Bayeux Tapestry project keep appearing in my mind. But there were so many others, both traditional and avant garde that drew me.

Will I plan to get to Houston again? I sure hope so! It's an experience.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Three of my quilts and some smaller pieces are part of "Quilting is Art" a show sponsored by Quilts on The Wall Fiber Artists opening running October 6 - 30 at The Framery and Fine Art Gallery in Whittier. Address: 13105 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, CA 90602. The opening reception is this Saturday, October 9 from 3-6. Would love to see you there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

SAQA's Art Meets Science in NYC at Pfizer International Headquarters

Yesterday I received photos of the installation of Saqa's Art Meet Science Show now newly installed in Manhattan at the world Headquarters of Pfizer International. A big "thank you" to Jill Jensen the SAQA Coordinator for this traveling show.

The gorgeous modern building right across from the United Nations has very handsome gallery space and the show seems to display beautifully!

Unfortunately my piece "2009: A Space Odyssey" wasn't photographed, but there was quite a crowd in attendance for the opening including noted quilt collector Jack Walsh (Maybe he was there to buy? ) After Pfizer the next long term stop for the show is at the Visions Gallery in San Diego. Can't wait to see it there!.
Below are views of the Pfizer gallery and on the right is the show's Juror Dr. David Fraser who was viewing the quilts in person for the first time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Noriko Endo Inspiration!

The other night I took this recently finished piece to the monthly meeting of the Santa Monica Quilt Guild for the Show and Tell part of the program. I received some great feedback and lots of questions about the technique used in "Autumn Aspens" - so to answer all those questions, here goes....

When the catalogue of the recent International Quilt Festival Long Beach arrived last spring I was excited to see Noriko Endo's name among the teachers and quickly jumped at the chance to take her "Confetti Naturescapes" class. She is a charming and talented, though very self-effacing, quilter and teacher from Japan. A truly lovely lady with a delicate sensibility and a talent for translating the natural world into fabric and thread, her quilts have an ethereal quality I am drawn to.

I had first seen her technique on Simply Quilts and had followed her work since. She has recently published her book Confetti Naturescapes which is published by Dragon Threads Publishing and is available on the Dragon Threads site. My painfully inept attempt at her technique is woefully lacking in the "je ne sais quoi" so visible in hers, but take a look online at her magnificent quilts and I will attempt to describe the process.

First we started with a photo - I chose a photos of a grove of aspen turning to autumn color on the edge of a Sierra Nevada meadow. Looking now at that photo, I realize I should have added more detail in the trunks and branches, but ah...hindsight...

From the colors in the photo we chose fabrics to match (hand dyes and batiks work the best because they are two sided) and chopped strips up into small confetti like pieces. Literally 1/4 to 1/8 inch in size. Lots of slice and dice with the rotary cutter. Following our photos these confetti pieces were piled on to batting and backing the size of our intended quilt to suggest areas of color along with larger pieces of sky to suggest sky or water.

Next, we laid down a piece of fine black tulle over the whole piece and pinned with straight pins every inch or so to keep the whole thing together to get it under the sewing machine. Invisible polyester thread was used to squiggle around the whole surface to apply the tulle and hold the little bits in place. On the next layer free cut pieces of fabric were laid down to suggest trees, branches, and any large foreground details. At this point more confetti was laid on to give an illusion of depth and shading. Noriko went around the room adding very tiny pieces of black and purple confetti fabric which she calls the "magic" of her quilts. Adding these dark bits truly makes the scene look like an impressionist painting.

A final layer of black tulle is laid on and pinned again. More invisible thread is added to secure the layer as well as any free motion stitching in colored threads to add shading, highlights, etc. On my piece I added some gray and white textile paint and some light gray thread to suggest the sun slanting over the tree trunks from one side.

At home I finished my aspen piece by trimming it, and mounting it on a quilt sandwich with thin batting to add to the size and provide a frame which I free motion quilted with silk thread.

I have ordered Noriko's book and look forward to spending many hours appreciating her beautiful work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chaco I - A Journey

I've spent a good part of this summer working on a challenge quilt for Quilts on the Wall - a group of fiber artists here in southern California. The theme of this show which will travel to various venues around the country for up to two years is "Discovery".

A photo taken years ago on a trip to the mysterious and impressive prehistoric religious and cultural center at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico's four Corners area seemed made for this challenge. I always tell myself I will document the progress of a quilt from inspiration to finished work, but I seldom remember to do it. This time I photographed all the stages and thought I'd lay them out for those who like me sometimes have a vision, but don't know where to start.

First, I cropped my photo and manipulated the size and to some extent the color of my original snap. After printing out the photo at 8 1/2 X 11 , I traced it on to an acrylic transparency sheet the same size. From there I photocopied the transparency film and blew it up (using Poster Pro) to the required size of 28" X 38". After gluing together all those pages i had my full size cartoon.

Then I began auditioning fabrics and colors, later fusing my choices on to a cloth foundation. I used some absolutely stunning hand dyed sateen from Judy Bianchi of Sebastopol, California for the masonry. When the large pieces were all fused I added more color, depth, shadows and highlights with various fabric paints including Jacquard and Tsukineko. I drew all the shadows between the stones with Fabrico markers using my cartoon as a guide.

Free motion quilting using several passes of silk thread gave texture to the ones and more depth as you look from door to door, to door. As you can see the piece needed trimming and when the quilting was finished i realized that the trimmed size was smaller than the required 28 X 38. I fused a narrow border in a purple stripe that is my new favorite print right now , did some decorative stitching on the join between the border and the image and then added a facing for a clean edge.

I'm happy with the the finished quilt above on the right , in fact my other photos of this wonderfully evocative place may inspire more - perhaps Chaco II?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SAQA - Art Meets Science

I was so sorry not to be able to see my quilt in the SAQA Art Meets Science exhibit at the Festival of Quilts in the UK this weekend, but I've had many reports that it was a great show and very well received.

I received a message today from Jill Jensen who spearheaded the show that Alex Veronelli of AURIfil Threads posted a video of the exhibition at Festival of Quilts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU1NBKzvGDM

Jill said the exhibit was very well received and SAQA is getting very positive feedback. It is on its way back to Houston so that it can be checked in, then repackaged for shipping to Pfizer headquarters in New York for its next gig. ..

The catalog is now on sale online on the SAQA site and the quilts for sale are also pictured at http://www.saqa.com/store.php?cat=22 Be sure to check it out!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Golden Boy

It is sad to say that this morning my beautiful, talented but aged palomino gelding Jesse passed away peacefully in Sylmar. He was foaled in 1976 in the Owens Valley purchased for a brilliant young rider (not me) and trained beautifully by Loretta Kemsley. I bought him as a 8 year old and enjoyed many years with him practicing dressage, Western Riding, equitation and a little scary barrel racing until he and I both retired from riding several years ago. I decided that I didn't bounce as well as I had once - and Jesse agreed.

He was lovingly cared for in his retirement by Loretta. At 34 he had known a long good life and he has left me with many wonderful memories of adventures and friendships.

I'll always remember how though often full of the devil and happy to find an opportunity to dump me whenever possible, he somehow new he was carrying a precious package as I was riding into to my 7th month of pregnancy. Every step he took was as if he was walking on eggs. He never put a foot wrong.
When I got back to riding after our son was born - all bets were off! I'll miss him, but I have all those golden memories.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A New Guld in Los Angeles - Westside Quilters

Westside Quilters is a new guild for both traditional and art quilters now forming in Los Angeles. Our inaugural event is a a fundraiser at the Fowler Museum on th UCLA campus on Saturday, August 28 at 1:00pm to visit three batik exhibits with a gallery talk by a Fowler Museum educator. There will also be a presentation and trunk show by quilter, blogger, contemporary quilt collector and owner of the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection and SAQA member
Del Thomas. $20.00 tickets at the door are tax deductible

The first regular Westside Quilters meeting will be Saturday, October 9th at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Westwood with award winning art quilter Carol Taylor as the featured speaker. For more information on both events and other upcoming programs and membership please visit- www.westsidequilterslosangeles.org
Email: WestsideQuilters@yahoo.com

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just One More Thing From Long Beach.....

I just learned that there is now a video available of the West Coast Wonders 2010 exhibit which debuted at IQF Long Beach last week. It's on the Quilts Inc. website at http://quilts.com/lbqf10/enVivo/index.html

Just click on the videos link on the left and then on the West Coast Wonders button and it will run. My quilt "Balancing Act" is toward the end, but you can also check out the two wonderful quilts entered by my friend Sandy Lauterbach.

While your there, click on the "Beneath the Surface" button and see quilts from this exhibit from the Dinner at Eight Artists curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison. The exhibited included a wonderfully whimsical work "Gone Fishing" by my friend Sherry Kleinman. Her quilt is not featured in the video but can be seen on her website. It's worth a visit!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Home from IQF Long Beach

I'm home and finally up for air after a totally inspiring several days at International Quilt Festival Long Beach. After four days of classes, lots of legwork around the show and vendors, lots of good conversation I'm exhausted but so totally inspired to finish some ongoing projects and get on to new ones.

The quilts on display were awe inspiring including the winners from 2009 World of Beauty as well as special exhibits "West Coast Wonders", "Tactile Architecture 2009", "In Full Bloom 2009", "Beneath the Surface", and Quilts on the Wall's "Journeys". I enjoyed my short stint working in the SAQA booth on Sunday talking about the two SAQA shows "A Sense of Humor" and "SAQA at 20", selling books and talking about the organization to show attendees.

My own quilt "Balancing Act" was part of "West Coast Wonders" and was strategically hung right at the bottom of the main escalator entrance to the Convention Center floor. It was just about the first quilt visitors saw as they entered. Quite a thrill! My friend Linda Miller took a photo.

My class choices were fantastic. I've come home with a fully marked , if small, traditional wholecloth quilt ready to trapunto and machine quilt thanks to my day with the wonderfully quirky Karen McTavish whose white work quilts I've admired for years. My day with Japanese art quilter Noriko Endo was inspirational and productive. I'll post a photo of my "Confetti Naturescape" when I've finished the last details.

Of course, I spent a lot of time trudging the vendor aisles, but tried to limit myself this year to what I really needed - backing fabric and quilting thread for my new quilt for Quilts on the Wall's "Discovery" and some much needed bobbins for my trusty Viking SE. Of course I found beads that may inspire me to add a beaded border to my Discovery quilt and some of Judy Bianchi's wonderful hand dyed sateens for some future project. My only criticism of the vendors at the show is that there is so little non-commercial hand dyed fabric to be found there.

The show crowd seemed huge at the opening on Friday and Saturday. Sunday seemed quieter as it was last year. Hopefully the southern California quilting contingent has forgotten the problems of the 2008 - parking difficulty, lack of available food, long ticket lines - which have all been solved and will embrace this fabulous show which brings the best of quilting from around the world to our own front door. The city of Long Beach certainly lays out the red carpet for the quilting community.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just Some Random Notes.....

Just some random notes on what's happening in my quilting world.... Great news this week! Fossil Fueled, my quilt based on fossils from my son's childhood collection, has been named a Finalist at International quilt Festival's "Quilts - A World of Beauty" which will open in October. I'm extremely humbled to have a quilt shown at Houston the second year in a row. Scroll down the posts for a photos of the quilt.

As I'm writing, my quilts Forrest's Flowers and Up At the Villa With Michael are being shown as part of "Becoming Art at the Seams" at the American Quilt Society's show in Knoxville, Tennessee. This wonderful show highlighting the work of Southern California art quilters was organized and curated by Ariane Karakalos at the Museum of Ventura County and is now traveling around the country.

Lastly, I've finally sent off 2009 - A Space Odyssey to the SAQA Show "Art Meets Science" which will debut at the Festival of Quilts, 2010 in Birmingham, UK next month. We've all recently learned that this is only the beginning of the travel for this show. After the UK it will travel to the national headquarters of Pfizer, Inc. in New York City from September, 2010 to March 2011 , the Visions Art Quilt Gallery, San Diego, CA from January 2012 - April 2012 and to the Global Health Odyssey Museum at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA from June to September, 2012. The quilts won't be back to the artists for two years. I'm especially happy about Visions - I'll be able to see the show for myself!

Currently I'm in the first stages of designing a quilt based on a photograph I took at Chaco in New Mexico several years ago for a Quilts on the Wall show entitled "Discovery". It's due in September so I'd better get back to work. If I get somewhere on this one I'll post some photos next month. In the meantime I'm off to International Quilt Festival Long Beach next week. I'm taking classes from Karen McTavish and Noriko Endo. Can't wait.....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Latest Work....

My blissful week at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in Pacific Grove in March has finally resulted in a finished quilt - "Fossil Fueled".

My son's childhood fossil collection became the inspiration for this fused applique' quilt. Begun in a workshop entitled "Quilt Like Leonardo Da Vinci" with the ever creative Barbara Olson ( shown talking about her own gorgeous quilts below) in which we were asked to make detailed still - life compositions from natural objects, the quilt evolved from photographs and pencil sketches of fossils of sea-life from the Permian and pre-Cambrian periods.

My final photographic composition is shown at left. Hand dyes, batiks and printed cottons were used along with metallic copper braid, glass beads and textile paints for the final illusion in my fiber composition.

We were encouraged to arrive at Asilomar having read Michael Gelb's book How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci and were challenged to use many of the thought processes and exercises in the book to jump start our own creativity. For me the incredible beauty of the Asilomar State Park environment is usually enough to inspire me (especially this year with beautiful sunshine and blue seas even in mid March - see the snapshots below) but exercising my left brain in new ways was a fascinating experience.

One of the reasons I adore the Asilomar Conference Grounds is the opportunity to walk on the State Beach each morning before breakfast and classes. A boardwalk stretches from the dining hall over the dunes to the beach beyond. Fabulous on a slightly misty morning and even better at sunset!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who Me? A Quilt Teacher ??

My husband would be the first to say that I would be a terrible teacher. His 16 years in Elementary and Middle School education probably gives him some insight in this particular matter, but his experience on this subject comes from some difficult hours spent trying to teach him to turn on the computer and use email. I did get him through his online traffic school experience, but he has stated on more than one occasion that "You [meaning me] can't teach anyone anything!"

So it was with more than a little trepidation that I agreed to give a workshop to my fellow members of the Santa Monica Quilt Guild. I have enjoyed using machine stitching and thread painting on a lot of art quilts over the last few years and have been fairly successful at local shows, so last summer I was asked to be part of a summer "Quilters College" that took the place of our normal speaker at a guild meeting. It was a 15 minute gig - just explain a few of your thread painting techniques. Of course I had to do it four times - once for each group that circled the room among four other teachers and of course in the middle of it my machine refused to participate and I could no longer do an actual demo, but basically all went well and members were very enthusiastic. So enthusiastic that I was asked to do a full day workshop sometime during the upcoming year.

Well, my time came last Saturday with a room full of 16 eager quilters. My initial panic subsided while I was setting up and knowing that I was prepared with handouts, samples, some easy designs for simple projects was a great help. I was pleased to be able to inspire some very talented students to go way beyond my class projects and take the initiative to move off on their own. I was also able to solve some machine problems for those who had done much free motion quilting, including one lady who had a brand new machine and had never lowered the feed dogs! It took a while, but with lots of time spent with the manual she was eventually up and running with the best. I was initially caught unawares by two visiting Japanese quilters who spoke almost no English, but they seemed to enjoy the day and actually gave me a lovely little gift at the end!

To sum up, I had dreaded failure and embarrassment, but by the end of the day I was not only tired and happy that it was all over, but pleased that I had exposed some very traditional quilters to some aspects of art quilting and thread painting techniques in particular that I think will be useful. I was also very pleased with the reception and the comments afterward. In fact some of my friends have suggested that I should be open to teach this workshop at other guilds.

I hasten to add that many of the techniques I demonstrated to the group were not necessarily my own. Some I had learned through workshops from nationally known professional teachers - especially Ann Fahl whose floral work I greatly admire. I was able to show these techniques using my own quilts as examples. I have a new respect for all those teachers who travel the country earning a living from teaching workshops week after week. Believe me, though satisfying, it's not easy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm Published in Jean Biddick's New Book!

Jean Biddick a talented quilter and teacher from the Tucson area has just had her second book published by AQS. Entitled Masterful Machine Pieced Quilts it publishes for the first time some of her award winning quilt patterns based on European inlaid stone mosaic floors and describes her drafting and freezer paper piecing techniques for these amazingly complex and luscious quilts. Last year she put out a call to her students asking those of us who had completed a quilt from her classes to submit photos of our quilts. I sent off photos of my "Roman Holiday" am so thrilled to see it finally published in her book. I ran into Jean at the Empty Spools Seminar at Asilomar last week and was thrilled that she had brought and advance copy.

This quilt was inspired by a trip with my husband and 15 year old son to England in 2005 where we spent a lot of time visiting the Roman ruins and excavations in the south and west of England. We spent a wonderful day in Bath at the Roman Baths and the nearby museum. The central motif in this quilt was adapted from the sculptured pediment of the excavated temple on the site and depicts Aqua Sulis the God of the sacred warm spring which fed the baths.

The surrounding motifs incorporated printed images of Roman mosaics as the centers of the paper pieced compass stars and appliqued images of Roman artifacts unearthed in southern England which were adapted from my original photos.

The quilt is actually the result of two workshops taken at Quilting in the Desert in January 2006, one from Jean who inspired the pieced mosaic circular frames for the images and the other from the wonderful Sharon Schamber who inspired me to attempt a combination of paint and Pieclique' technique to bring the image of the God of the Spring to life.

By the end of the week my River God was completed and the larger ring was 3/4 finished. The surrounding motifs were painted and/or appliqued, ringed with more piecing and applied to a quartered background which represented the river reeds of the prehistoric spring. The fabrics were all collected with an eye to emulating hard stone tesserae and were mostly hand dyed or marbled. The background was embellished with over 500 crystals to give the effect of sparkling water. The outer mosaic border was paper pieced.

One real disaster on this quilt occurred while I was quilting it on my domestic machine. My halogen elbow work lamp slowly lowered itself too close to one of the borders. Soon I was smelling burning fiber and realized that a portion of the border was actually smoldering. I dumped water on it to put out the fire, but was left with a gaping scorched hole through all three layers. Some surgical replacement of batting and applique saved me and today I can't find the area at all.

A long story, but this quilt was a long, wearying project with a lot of personal meaning to me. I'm so happy to see it published in Jean's book.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wonderful Exhibit at The Museum of Ventura County

"Becoming Art at the Seams" opened with a very well attended reception on Friday, March 12. My husband and I braved the traffic from West Los Angeles to attend. I had expected maybe a handful of guests, but there seemed to be hundreds - so many and such a crush that I never really saw all the quilts! I managed to get back for a much quieter look last Friday with a friend and thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of art quilts including those by my friends Linda Miller and Sherry Kleinman and some new discoveries like Loris Bogue and Patty Latourel. Loved their work! The show is beautifully presented - congratulations to Curator Ariane Karakalos are in order. Well worth a visit!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hey, I' m The Cover Girl!

Yes, that's my quilt "Forrest's Flowers" being used as the promotional image for "Becoming Art at the Seams: a Juried Exhibition of Contemporary and Art Quilts" opening this Friday evening at the Museum of Ventura County. 28 quilters from Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties are included in the show.

The opening reception is this coming Friday night and I am looking forward to meeting the other artists and seeing old and new quilting friends. The exhibit runs until June 20th. If you find yourself in the Ventura, California I think it will be worth a visit.

More information is available on the Museum of Ventura County website at www.venturamuseum.org

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Great Workshop - Do it Yourself

I go to Guild meetings all the time and hear members complain about finding workshops that interest them. They are traditional quilters and bewail the fact that their Guild only offers art quilting teachers - or the other way around. They don't want to travel too far for a workshop and pay costly travel expenses. They would rather do workshops with a smaller number of people they know they have an affinity with. There is a specific teacher they want to study with, but their Guild can't afford to hire them.

My art quilting group has found an answer to all these dilemmas. Organize a workshop yourselves. We are the Fiber Fanatics a small group of art quilters who are also members of a local quilt guild in southern California. One of our group found that Indiana art quilter Bob Adams was spending the winter in our area and was available for workshops. We all looked at his website and admired his free motion techniques for art quilts. Our organizer, Sandy, contacted him, arranged his fee, set the dates and graciously volunteered the use of her home and her large dining room table! She checked with her electrician to make sure that her wiring would take all of our sewing machines. That's one thing I never would have thought of!

We chose a two day workshop with dates that fit everyone's schedule. The cost when divided between eight of us turned out to be fairly reasonable given all the individual instruction we would have with our small group. Not having to travel far proved another bonus. Rather than brown bag our lunches, I was asked to organize communal lunches with each of the participants bringing a pot luck dish for ten people one of the days.

Sandy's home is beautiful with a view out of large windows to a tropical garden below - a wonderful setting. The workshop was cozy and casual and we all had a wonderful time. I heard no grumbling or complaints - just the happy hum of sewing machines.

Bob Adams' workshop was highly interesting and informative. We played at drawing with free motion line on our sewing machines and tested out multiple colors of thread on various colored cloth samples to see how to lighten, darken, neutralize and change color on fabrics using only straight lines of thread. He demonstrated how quilting line can change the mood and emotion of the quilt. His very masculine quilts using imagery from infrastructure (manhole covers, overpasses, etc) are very interesting and very different from our usual - can I say it? - feminine sensibilities. We were fascinated by some of his methods for surface design.

Bob and his wife Natalie were charming, down to earth people who made the whole two day session easy and fun. We all had a wonderful time.

This is in fact the second "in house" workshop our group has planned. Our first was a few years ago with the wonderful artist Patt Blair. They have both gone so well that without doubt we will do more! I totally recommend it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Becoming Art at the Seams" - Museum of Ventura County

I'm very pleased to have had two quilts - "Forrest's Flowers" and "Up at the Villa With Michael" accepted into the Museum of Ventura County's "Becoming Art at the Seams"! The show will run March 13 to June 20. The Opening night reception will be on Friday March 12, 6 to 8pm. See website for details: www.venturamuseum.org .

It's especially appropriate since my husband's Grandfather Forrest Smoot whose Epiphyllums inpired this quilt lived for many years in the Ventura area. For more on that quilt and its story see the blog post below.