Archive for February, 2009

VACATION! The university I teach at has the earliest Spring Break ever! My boys are in school and my husband is out of town on business. What I SHOULD be doing is dyeing scarves and making notelets and bags for my next show (April). OR charging ahead and making skyscrapers or bird houses, newly inspired by my houses I just made. But no – what’s on my design wall right now are some fantastic pieces of fabric I’ve been saving for “someday”.  Stop waiting! I want to have these out where I can see them. I want to quilt these unobtrusively and let the fabrics shine. What I have in my mind right now are two panels that will hang side by side. I THINK I like the large pieces, what I’m fussing with are the two small bands running through the center of each one:


1st Try I think that having the yellow on the right piece is too much yellow.

2nd Try

2nd Try: I like the orange band on the right. SO I put it's complement on the left to balance it.

3rd Try: Another shade of blue on the left.

3rd Try: Another shade of blue on the left. I think I like the darker shade from try #2

4th Try: A green to pull out the tiny bits of green in both the top & bottom fabrics on the left panel.

4th Try: A green to pull out the tiny bits of green in both the top & bottom fabrics on the left panel.

5th try: Another green with more yellow in it.

5th try: Another green with more yellow in it.

6th Try: This green has bits of navy in it.

6th Try: This green has bits of navy in it.

7th Try: I was worried that there was too much yellow.

7th Try: I was worried that there was too much yellow.

Right now I’m leaning towards versions 2 & 6. I leave them up for awhile, but I don’t want to stress and fuss too much with this.

Any thoughts?

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One of the things I’d like to do with this blog is pay homage to the people who  inspire me. So I’ll occasionally devote a post to a person and how their work has inspired and influenced mine! And for me, the 1st person to begin with is Melody Johnson. And specifically, this quilt:

Hot Fun (Summer) 1995 Best Machine Artistry, American Quilter's Society

Hot Fun (Summer) 1995 54" x 60" Best Wall Quilt, American Quilter's Society

I had been subscribing to the AQS magazine since the early ’90s, and that was my main connection to the quilting world at large (this was before the internet, you know!) I always eagerly looking forward to the edition that had all the award winning quilts from their large show they sponsered each Spring. Well, this quilt EXPLODED off the page at me.  It made me think of quilting in a whole new way. It was so free & uninhibited, abstract and bright, and yet it conveyed some very specific emotions! Her work (along with that of Caryl Bryer Fallert) was to become recognizable to me – when I came across apicture of something she’d done in a quilting magazine somewhere, I’d be able to know it was her.

This quilt:

Technique Rebellion III Redux, 1998, 50" x 50"

Technique Rebellion III Redux 1998 Best Machine Artistry IQA Houston 50" x 50"

was another one that truly amazed me! And for years I had no idea how it was constructed!

In the Spring of 2001 (I think), the stars aligned, and I was able to take a weekend machine quilting class with Melody at QSDS, being held in Athens, OH, just a 2-3 hour drive from where we were living in Newark, OH. This was my 1st quilting class, and man it was awesome! The machine quilting techniques I learned from her allowed me to (with practice) confidently cover my quilts with spontaneous free motion quilting. She had TR III Redux hanging in the classroom all weekend, and I have a vivid memory of her taking my hand and dragging my up to TR III to show me the back of it, after I was complaining that the back of my quilting wasn’t perfect. Her back wasn’t perfect either – she made her point – don’t get too hung up over what doesn’t show – focus on what does!

Sidney  2005 26" x 34.5"

Sidney 2005 26" x 34.5"

Sidney  2005 26" x 34.5"

Sidney detail

So I learned how to cover my quilt fronts with lucious quilting…and then got bogged down with the thought that they were Melody’s invention, not mine. I was really hung up over what was original and what wasn’t for several years. I started looking to the internet for info as it grew, and would visit the webiste of my favorite quilters every couple of months…then in early 2005 I saw a link on Melody’s website to her blog…and Whammo! I found the world of blogs! Although I’d heard of them, I sort of thought that blgos were written by news type people about world news items…or maybe comptuter tech stuff. It had never occured to me that Artists would have blogs!!! – HAH!

A Triumph of Tulips 2004 52" x 43"

A Triumph of Tulips 2004 52" x 43"

So, every day since then, I get to see a bit into Melody’s mind. She’s a stupendous artist who shares everything. I’ve gotten over my fear of not being original, and although I’m sure you can see her influence in my work, I think I’m developing my own style! Although I’m sure most of the folks who are reading my little blog know where she hangs out in the ethersphere, please pay here a visit if you haven’t come across her yet.

She’s been working smaller, and using the intense free motion quilting purposefully, rather than covering the entire surface quilt surface because she can. This strikes a chord in me as well. I was lucky enough to again have the time off to take her very last class! It was a weekend class up in the Monterey Bay Area, sponsored by the Monterey Peninsula Quilter’s Guild. There she was teaching the process of developing a quilt, based on a simple layout. It was great to have her look over my shoulder and agree with some of my choices, and to also agree when something wasn’t working right. This class for me gave me the “okay” – I felt that I did understand the artistic process, I was actually an artist! This confidence has given me the strength to go out and start showing and selling my work. Which pays for more materials and equipment, and more importantly drives me to create MORE! I am forever greatful for Melody’s help, both in person and online. I’m pretty sure that without her, I would still be stressing and angsting that I wanted to do my own thing, but didn’t know how!


Street Series: Each about 12" square

Here’s one of her dreams – I think it ought to happen!

My Daydream

My Daydream

Did I mention that quilting is her 2nd art career – she’s a painter too?

Asian Pear 12" x 12"

Asian Pear 12" x 12"

Veggies for Tommie

Veggies for Tommie

Splurge 30 x 40

Splurge 30 x 40

Every day for Melody is a new day, and she makes art for that day.

It's a New Day  16.75" x 16.5"

It's a New Day 16.75" x 16.5"

All photos in this post are from Melody’s blog & website, with her permission.

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Well, I finished the 3rd house last night! I took lots of pix (boy it’s hard to photograph these) and then handed them into the RAA for jurying. I’m really happy with the 3rd one. It’s called “Home Is Where the Art Is: #3 Cabot Trail”.


Home Is Where the Art is: #3 Cabot Trail


Base is 12" x 12.5", 10" high


These colors reminded my Hubby of the houses on Cape Breton. Cabot Trail is a spectacular drive along the coast.


The base is made from a piece of hand dyed fabric I made years ago and have been saving for that special day - well, that day was yesterday! Look at the little leaves falling onto the ground - I LOVE them!

To recap: I was inspired by Jane Davila to make a 3 dimensional house, where each side of the house is it’s own little art quilt. My early experiment ended up being so vigorously complimented by many people (like..5 or 6!!!) that it was deemed not a prototype, but a keeper:

#1 Olive Avenue

Home Is Where the Art is: #1 Olive Avenue

Base is 12" x 12.5", 10" high

Base is 12" x 12.5", 10" high

It’s named after the street I live one – 2 olive branches are free motion quilted on the house.

The second house, entitled “Home Is Where the Art is: #2 Baltic Avenue” was the one where I realized I wanted a base to ground the piece (which made me go back and make a simple one for the Olive Ave. house). The way I finished the edges of the base, combined with the simplistic house shape reminded my husband of the game Monopoly. Which property name do you most associate with Monopoly? For me, it’s Baltic Avenue (that and Ventnor, but it’s such an ugly name).

#2 Baltic Avenue

Home Is Where the Art is: #2 Baltic Avenue

Base is 12" x 12.5", 10" high

Base is 12" x 12.5", 10" high

My Uncle Winnie (boat captain by summer, photojournalist by winter) wrote me with the following questions as to my motivations:

“While it is quite striking and certainly well done I’m not confident that I get the point of the 3-D aspect? Is there a functional angle I’m missing? Or is this simply the making of a normally 2-D art or graphic into a 3-D art or graphic? None of this is meant to be critical, you understand, it’s just that as an old codger I’m probably missing something here and need you to clarify your objectives in creating the piece. Perhaps it is just fun?”

Holy c**p, I think he put more work into thinking about that paragraph than I did about why I wanted to make these! But the asking did get me to think a bit more about my process, and here’s what I think were my motivations:

  1. Because it’s cool.
  2. There’s also the challenge of physically creating them – met, but not enjoyed! (Especially with the last one where I used – DOH! TWO layers of Peltex!!!)
  3. I REALLY LIKE creating smaller pieces that are part of a larger whole: “Once in a Blue Moon” or  here or here for example. To make 8 small pieces that are specific dimensions (those gable ends being neat spaces to fill) and hold together as a unit but are at the same time pieces that can stand on their own really stimulates my creative juices!

It’s also really neat to see how my ideas change and grow from one complete piece to the next. As these were created to enter into a Multi Media Mini show (< 14 ” on a side). the intention behind the “MINI” show is to draw people in and make them look closer at a small piece of art – and these houses really do that. I’m glad the deadline pushed me to make them. I’ll continue to make more – I’m thinking smaller, roofed, quirky birdhouses. I’m also digging bird nests right now, so will be working through that as well

I swear, the worst part of this whole project is taking pictures of the darn things. I’ll be posting more to my Flickr site as I get them processed. The shadows are going to KILL ME! (not really…but ARGH!)


Taken indoors with two 30 Watt Trumpet Top Bulb CFLs


Taken outdoors, obviously with direct sunlight. I couldn't wait for clouds - don't hate me, but here in S. CA, clouds are hard to come by!

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3rd Iteration Done!

Here it is…I’m happy with this one!




Once it was done, i decided it needed a bit more stucture/grounding, so I made a board for it to sit on from 2 layers of Timtex fused together.

Unless i regret it tomorrow, I’d decided to call this series “Home is Where the Art is…” Hokey, but it seemed brilliant at 6 AM and hasn’t made me totally gag as the day has progressed. I’ve got until Sunday to decided. And speaking of Sunday, you folks were so enthusiastic about the prototype, I thought i’d enter that one as well. So, now I’ll ahve to make another one, so it truly is a series. One reason why I’d like to continue in this vein is that the intention behind the “MINI” show is to draw people in and make them look closer at a small piece of art – and these houses really do that. It’s a bugger trying to get pix of the inside after the house is assembled…I’ll try again tomorrow. Until then, here are details of the sides before assembly:


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Progress on house #3

I’m just about done with house #3 and I’m very happy with it!
Here are some teaser shots:

Also, I need a better name for this than “Art House #3″…anyone?

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On your marks, get set…

I, like lots of other folk, find many ways to procrastinate. Here’s my plan on how to be very creative this weekend:

  • Deadline…check. I’ve got to get some pieces done for the Multi Media Show, take in is a week from Sunday.
  • House clean…check. My cleaning lady was here today, so we already are picked up & cleaned up. All the laundry has been folded and folks have put it away (except I haven’t done mine…but it’s in front of my closet!)
  • Colors chosen….check!
  • One beautiful piece of inspiration fabric I dyed from a palette I’m working with:


  • A couple of dark to light pieces I dyed to go with the fancy dancy fabric:


  • Lots of shades & tints of the main colors of the inspiration fabric. Value is important! A simple lesson that was years in the learning!


  • Plan of attack…check! I’ve got some little printouts of the house sides printed out, and I’ve sketched some possible layouts on them. This helps me get beyond the “what do I do” phase when faced with a blank sheet of release paper, just waiting for fabric. Another genius tip from Melody.


Now,  let’s see what I can get accomplished tomorrow!

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Art House – Take 1 & 2

One art quilter who has been quite an inspiration to me is Jane Davila. Last Spring she posted about a 3-d house she made – it’s AWESOME! Please go look, I’ll wait. I love the way that each side is it’s own little quilt unto itself, but the whole things works together as well. I love how the pieces suggest a house, but is not wholly representational.

Anyway, this concept has been kicking around my head for awhile. Jane published a simplified verison of this in the Quilting Arts Gifts magazine this winter.  Although I wanted to make some little holiday houses, that never transpired. But then, the deadline of the Redlands Art Association Mini Multi Media show reared it’s head. For this show, “mini” means anything that is 14″ square or less OR anything that can fit in a 14″ cube.  This 3-d aspect made me want to try to make a little art house to enter.

Take 1

I made this simple one the size Jane used in the magazine. I just grabbd whatever scraps I had to hand, I just needed to try out the assembly method. Knowing that my little one would want it, I added a window and a door so his Lego people could go in & out!



So, my son loves it, and I can make a house out of peltex. But I definately want to make a larger one, this one is about 4″ x 6″.

Take 2

Scaling up, I chose a piece of multi colored fabric and some mottled solids that  have the same hues and set about making 8 little art quilts – 4 for the outside on a layer of batting, the inside ones were constructed on either stacy fusible (the purple ones) or craft fuse. I didn’t try to create any sort of cohesiveness between these – rather I was trying out my different styles of construction, trying to get a feel for what would work and what wouldn’t. Here are the sides before construction:



Here it is during construction – that last seam is a doozy!


And the final result. It definatley is all over the place stylistically, but it served its purpose, I know that all the different types of quilting I would want to do will work well.







Now on to something that works well together!

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