Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back From Vacation

I've been home for a few days, and it amazes me that it takes nearly as long to recover from a trip as it does to prepare for one. I'm still wading through newspapers and mail of the real and "e" kind and all my sewing paraphernalia is still parked in front of the studio door. But the refrigerator is restocked, the photos downloaded from the camera & it is time to share my travels. It turned into much more of an art immersion experience than I anticipated, one experience building on the next. And so I will break up my activities over several posts, beginning with the event around which the trip revolved.: my stay in Hood River, Oregon.

As you know from the previous post, my friend Judi was having her first solo show. The Gorge White House is an early 1900's Dutch style house in which they've turned the two main rooms on the ground floor into a wine tasting area and shop. Here's Judi with two of her pieces, the one on the left in her current style (interpreting her nature photos into fabric), the one on the right a nod to her traditional quilt background. The foxglove with it's beautiful silver frame sold - very exciting! Although the space was small and wall space at a premium, the owners of The Gorge White House did a masterful job of hanging her fabric art, all of which looked richer and more dynamic than I remembered. Truly, the photos on the Gorge's website do not do these works of art justice. Be sure to click on the picture for a better view.

The next day, Judi made room for me to set up in her studio at home. Judi works on one side of the room - here at her ironing board tracing, cutting and fusing small pieces for the commissioned art quilt in the background. This is inspired by the clients' photo of a favorite Oregon creek along the Gorge. Judi is using a modified "Snippets" technique in the upper portion involving layer after layer of tiny leaves interspersed with trunks and branches and even a few fir branches stitched on water soluble stabilizer. The lower section is also multi-layered with rocks "under" the water and poking up through the water, sheers helping to create this effect. This fine attention to detail produces a depth that makes the piece very 3-d. Even though she explained her process and I watched her work and could study the progress, I had the sense I couldn't figure out how in the world she was doing this. It will be a stunning piece when done.

Here's my work station on the other side of the room. The table in the back corner is Judi's mother's work space where she works on watercolors and other art. Both Judi and her mother, Julia Zweerts Brownfoot, are represented at the Columbia Art Gallery.

...which is where we headed the next day. The gallery has a huge classroom space which Judi was able to acquire so two friends could join us. Rhonda and I set up at one table with Marby claiming one all to herself. Rhonda was busy free-motion zigzagging around folk-style applique flower blocks - dozens of them that will go into a quilt for a sweet young girl. Marby volunteers in the schools to bring special art projects to grade school children. The blocks on the design board in this picture are part of her most recent project with them.

Here's Marby having the same reaction to Judi's commissioned piece as I had - a mixture of awe and you must be crazy! Behind her is the rest of the grade school art project. She chose a picture of sunflowers, enlarged it and cut it into sections. Each student got a section to work on and fabric to choose from and constructed their own block. Now Marby is putting the finishing touches on the blocks, setting them with "attic window" sashing. She's braver than I am! I believe the finished quilt is going to a special teacher at the school.

And what was I working on these two days? My next assignment in the row robin challenge, of course! I'd decided on what to do and pulled fabric before packing up and only had a few iffy things to get advice on from my trusty band of quilters. One of those iffy things was which color thread would work best around these appliqued circles. I had no time to test before leaving so threw in three colors as my best guess. I really thought that green was the ticket, but my test piece above said no - way too bright. The blue didn't show up and the purple - well, Judi liked it but I wasn't convinced. What to do, what to do...I was about to give in to the purple when I remembered reading about blending your own perfect color by running two threads through one needle. Wow! I couldn't believe how well this worked. The blue toned the green down perfectly. These are Madeira Rayon threads and I tried Sulky Totally Stable Iron-On, Tear-Away Stabilizer underneath. I've used the regular Sulky Tear-Easy with good success (pinning it in place), but this was so much better and truly tore away easily. I highly recommend it.

Although I loved this quilt when it arrived (the two rows on the left), it's not a style I normally work in. That's ok - part of the challenge is to force us to work with different styles and color palettes. I was stunned to find I didn't have similar fabric in my stash, although I thought I did. With the exceptions of my hand-dyes, I don't have much in the way of clear bright colors. Nearly everything I own looks toned and muted next to these fabrics. So I gave up on the idea of fussy cutting florals as in the original row and added batiks and those circles with the hummingbirds. So I learned two things from this experience that I can take forward into my own style - I need to quit buying so much muted fabric (no wonder my pieces so often are dark and moody even when I'm thinking brighter thoughts), and I have twice the options in my thread stash by virtue of my experiment with sewing two colors together as if they were one thread.

Next up - a fabulous day in Portland...

1 comment:

Katney said...

Great challenge row robin!!! Our group has been having trouble with row robin follow through. I'm glad I didn't join in, and I am reminded that I owe someone two blocks in another exchange before the end of the month. Yikes. why didn't I do that on retreat?