Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Big Reveal

I'm back from my little quilting retreat, which the ladies soon dubbed "the sanitarium" - I really wasn't in the best of shape when I arrived, and they all agreed I looked much better when I left. The combination of good friends, good food and good quilting...and lots of sleep...was the tonic I needed. And my oh my - those row robin tops we've been working on for a year are stunning! We all agreed that each of us pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zones to produce worthy additions, and while we all learned from and enjoyed the challenge, we have no desire to repeat it! Mine, actually, is missing a row - one of our members recently had major back surgery, and try as she did, she simply didn't have it in her to finish my row to the standard she wanted. I am so pleased with what has been added, and not being big on instant gratification, am just fine with having to wait for the final row.

Here's what we did for the back-surgery lady, Barb K. She started with the Celtic applique at the top. My row is the next one down. We were all sorry that she could not join us, but several of us stopped by her house afterward, to deliver her top and share stories and pictures.

This is "the other Barb's" top. Her border print was the most luscious fabric to work with. My row is second from the top.

Cindy had a Halloween theme and I think her top was the best of the lot. Mine is the row with the dogs and pumpkins. I had the most fun with this one.

LeAnn's "Sewing the seeds of friendship" theme garnered not one appliqued or pieced flower until the last row, which in retrospect was surprising. Mine is the row with the Greek crosses towards the middle.

Mo's also had a garden theme and we all responded with some kind of flower addition. Those hollyhocks were stunning. This was the only top that chose a vertical orientation to the rows.

The final one is Sheridan's to which I added the last row, so you can view it in its entirety at this post.

Because I traveled by train, I only took handwork, and enough to keep me busy far longer than the span of the retreat. But one never knows what one will be in the mood to work on, so one always takes more projects than necessary. Here's what I managed in my reduced energy state. All I could muster the energy for in the first few days was some hand quilting. I completed that feather motif in all four corners and a little quilting along some of the applique motifs. By the last day, I felt up to tackling the fussy applique vine, but upon completion of half of one side (I'd previously appliqued the first half), I realized I didn't have it in me to do more. The dark fabric and thread made it very difficult to see what I was stitching and the tight curves and small points would be taxing on a good day (prompting choruses of "what was I thinking when I designed this?"). Ah, but I was tired of quilting and up for some applique, so I resumed work on my Azalea Mosaic applique. I found I could even work on it while bumping and swaying along on the train, so was pleased to finish four squares in a new quadrant.

I didn't take many pictures from the train, since this was the same route I took before. However, when stopped briefly at Malta, MT, I spotted this building. Click for a larger picture so you can see the characters painted in the "windows."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm taking off for a few days - going to the big reveal of the row robin challenge I've been involved in this past year. I'm excited to see what the other 6 women did with "My Ecclectic Neighborhood." I've not seen pictures of its progress, nor did I want to, and I've only gotten a few teasers telling me I'm going to love it. I have no doubt about that! And of course, I'm curious to see how the other tops progressed. There will be good food, laughter, and a bit of sewing going on - it should be a great long weekend.

So you all be good while I'm gone...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where that stamped fabric went

I stand corrected. My stamped leaves look just fine now that the stitches have been added. What a relief. I guess I had that original piece hanging around so long already stitched that I'd forgotten what the unadorned leaf prints looked like.

And now the two recently stamped and stitched pieces of fabric are two more elegant padfolios.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Thanks for the well wishes - I'm finally feeling better - enough better that I got out the paints this afternoon. I got a request for a padfolio like this one and needed to stamp leaf shapes on more of the batik. Originally, I was using actual birch leaves, but of course there are none to be had this time of the year, so I used some leaf stamps I made from those Styrofoam meat trays. I resurrected some Liquitex acrylic paint, adding some textile medium and just got on with it. Which means I wasn't particularly careful with paint application and I'm not as happy with my results as with the real leaves. But it still gives the effect I was looking for and the leaf shapes will be quilted around.

So of course, I had a tad of a couple colors of paint left, and unwilling to throw anything out, I loaded up a foam brush, taped down the cloth I'm using as a paint wipe and used one of my glue stamps to transfer some marks. The colors are a bit off on the computer, but even so, this will not be the end of this cloth - I'll keep building up the layers as I have opportunity.

With not enough paint left to cover a stamp, there was still a lot of paint in the brush. So I pulled another paint-wipe cloth and just dabbed the brush over it until all the paint was spent. I like what's happening here and think the next step will be to use an ivy stamp with a bit of leftover green paint. I'm not really going for anything specific here - just observing what happens when I use different colors, marks and techniques. Hopefully, at some point the cloth will be usable. Click on any picture for a larger view.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chiura Obata

I've been quite under the weather, and about all I've managed to do lately, other than lie on the couch and watch TV or read, is work on burying threads on the nephew quilt. Not the stuff of blog show and tell. So while you wait for me to get back on my feet, enjoy the beautiful art of Chiura Obata.

Obata was born in Japan but moved to the Seattle area in the early 1900's. I was introduced to his work while watching the PBS series on America's National Parks. I'm so familiar with views of Yosemite by the likes of photographer Ansel Adams and various painters, but have never seen these similar scenes by Obata. Goodness, it was one of those "wow" moments for me - his style really spoke to me in a way other painters have not. Actually, this one is a woodcut called "Evening Glow at Yosemite Falls." Click for a larger view.

If you image-google Obata, you will see that he did more than paint Yosemite and perhaps will find his work as extraordinary as I did. This one is called simply "Sun."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Taking up the challenge

"Do not bore. Do not be obvious."
Hamilton Easter Field

Back in December I extended a challenge to artists of any medium to make an original work inspired by the photograph at the end of this post. It's something that caught my eye but I have not been able to figure out what to do with it myself. I was curious what others might do with it, whether it be in fiber, with paint, with sculpture. It never occurred to me that someone's medium might be food! My niece has been doing a lot of culinary experimenting lately and decided to make the above upside down pear gingerbread cake as her response.

I was so impressed with the thought she put into this, presenting an "artist's statement" worthy of any exhibit:

"I thought the photo spoke of layers, soft and hard support, hardness of stone, the softness of grass. There is also a melding and mixture of the two, and a rather inspired conclusion that the seemingly weak (grass) can surmount the seemingly powerful (stone). Look at the grass, just growing up and around, no matter, I'll just grow here instead of there. Much like faith in the face of adversity."

"Well cake is not quite capable of such nuanced meaning but this does have a juxtaposition of round (stone/cake) and angular disarray (grass/pears), the soft covering the hard, with both providing different types of support, some additive (grass/pears), some formative (stone/cake base).

I was surprised I didn't have more takers - Perhaps the timing wasn't right being around the holidays. Would anyone else like to try?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sheridan's Row Robin

Here's the finished row I added to my last row robin challenge. I used to do a lot of embroidery before quilting spirited me away, and it was fun to add blanket stitches, stem stitches, and chain stitches to the applique. I pondered if I'd saved any time fusing rather than doing needleturn - by adding all that blanket stitching, the time spent may have been about the same. But I do like the way it brings out the design.

I didn't like the dark blue as blanket stitch around the purple flowers, nor did I like using the fuchsia around the center flower. Yet they needed a little more definition after blanket stitching in pink and orange respectively. What if I ran the rejected thread under the ladders of the blanket stitching, I pondered. Perfect! So subtle but really punched it up. The center flower, by the way, is actually a quilting motif that I adapted to applique.

And here's the entire top with my row at the bottom. Again, this is only 12 inches wide and includes lots of embroidery and even some dimensional flowers to carry out the owner's theme of "Garden Party." Click on the picture for a larger view of each row.

Friday, March 05, 2010

What I like about handwork...

One of many, actually: I love its portability. I love that it allows me to enjoy sitting outside in the sun and yet still feel productive as happened today. I am working on my last row robin challenge assignment which is due at the end of the month when we have our great reveal. I've had this since before Christmas, actually, but because of its size (the rows are a mere 12 inches long) and the deadline for completion so far away, I was lulled into a false sense of procrastination security. For peace of mind, I knew I had to get going on it before the week was over, and got all the parts cut and fused yesterday. Now I am going back over it, blanket stitching around the edges and adding stem stitches and lazy daisy details by hand. Click on the picture for a larger view.