Monday, December 14, 2009

Hello, My Name is Sally Wright and I am a Classaholic...

Certainly, that's the way I feel sometimes. There are so many quilting techniques and teachers that interest me I wonder how to fit them all in. And once I've taken the class, I'm off to the next without the luxury of time to put what I've learned into practice. Suffice it to say that I'm never happier in my quilting life than when I am in a classroom with friends old and new and a great teacher learning a new way to express myself in fabric. Recently,
I've been able to participate in several new learning experiences.

Art Quilter Marcia Stein visited the Santa Monica Quilt Guild in November and presented her workshop "Picture This" in which she shared her methods for transforming photographs into pictorial quilts. I was especially interested in the way she simplified her subjects - her quilts are very direct and immediate, often picturing people in everyday situations on simple backgrounds, but they go right to the heart of the subjects.

I took a photo of a friend's garden in Mill Valley for my small quilt. Marcia helped me simplify the scene and select fabrics which would do
most of the work. The resulting quilt is entitled "October - Mill Valley" and became a gift to our friends who have shown us so much hospitality in their lovely 1880s home on a redwood studded hillside.

A few weeks ago I headed south to Westchester near LAX with a friend to Tanners Sew and Vac to take a class on making fabric bowls and totes using a technique of winding fabric strips around clothesline and coiling the line to form vessels very much like building up a coiled pot in ceramics. The afternoon went by in a flash with teacher Lisa full of good humor and great tips. By the time I left I had the beginnings of a coiled tote bag all done in shades of black, gray and white
(actually leftover strips from a log cabin quilt made for my son many years ago). I finished it at home and have been using it for a week or so to many compliments. I'm now addicted to these wound up creations and have finished another bag for a friend. Certainly a class like this is practical and money saving in the long run - or at least that's my excuse.

My recent totally indulgent Christmas gift to myself was a three days worth of classes with the wonderful Sharon Schamber at Sewing Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. I had long ago discovered Sharon and her work at another class at Sewing Arts years ago and at a series of classes at Quilting in the Desert in Phoenix using her Piecelique' technique. This time she gave a series of three classes on Stippling For the Longarm, Free Motion Unmarked Feathers , and painting with Dyes. I don't own a longarm but the stipple techniques are universal for both the longarm and the domestic machines most of us use. For the first time a drove a longarm using her techniques and it was fascinating, though I know I will never be able to afford either the funds or the room to own one! The Feathers class inspiring and full of tips and tricks for better free motion quilting in general. Best of all, Sharon gave us all copies of her DVDs for each class to take home and watch over and over again until her techniques are truly ingrained in your psyche. She is a fabulously talented quilter as her back to back Best of Shows in Paducah and Houston will attest, a truly great teacher and a very classy lady.

After Christmas there are more classes - Esterita Austin is coming to the Santa Monica Quilt Guild in early January and February may bring a workshop on free motion quilting for art quilts with Bob Adams. Then in March is my much anticipated week at Asilomar and a workshop with Barbara Olson. So many classes - so little time! Somewhere in between them I want to do some practice free motion feathered pieces on silk shantung - perfect for pillows - and there are more photo inspired quilts coming together in my head. Then there are those coiled bowls and bags which are totally addictive. I'm also going back to work almost full time in retail for a year, but have already figured out how to smuggle a sewing machine and supplies into the back room for the quiet hours. I'll get it all done, I'm sure!!!