Archives for 2017

Looking for my Art with Fabric Blog Hop post?

Due to the bugginess of the internet, my post for May 16, “Time for Tea!”, is appearing two posts below.

So, if you are looking for the post for the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, or just want to see my latest news, please scroll down or click on this“Time for Tea!” link.

Thanks!

To Fill a Design Wall!

With the completion of Ground Zero Reborn, my design wall looked quite blank. My plans for my next art quilt were uncertain so I wondered if perhaps I would be staring at a blank wall for a bit. Not to worry! Quilts Beyond Borders NW Regional Coordinator Susan Schmidt mailed me a collection of odds and ends that had potential for some nautical themed quilts if there was someone to pick up the challenge.

I can’t say that I would ever have purchased most of the prints but, hey, a challenge is a challenge. So, over the past weeks my design wall has been busy.  This first top used a number of blocks that had already been pieced. I was able to sort through the miscellaneous strips and odd remnants and come up with what I considered an acceptable layout:

The next top that I sent Susan used some of the fabrics that appealed a bit more to me. Once again, I received a few blocks and miscellaneous strips. These were accompanied by a large amount of that mini-anchor fabric. I instinctively would have preferred the border to have been some of the darker blue fabric but I needed to work with what was before me.

The next group of fabrics that I tackled were quite strange and I have not yet actually completed a top. However, I have a plan! 🙂

I have purchased some blue fabric that matches the blue in those mini blocks quite well and plan to fill in blue so those pictorials are surrounded by blue strips with those mini-blocks interspersed. I haven’t quite found the energy yet to tackle the math for cutting the needed pieces so this group is now sitting in a pile on my floor while I play a bit with Karen Ruane on a project called Artist Books (more about that in another post). There will be one more top at least, I expect, for Quilts Beyond Borders, using up the remaining fabric. It has been a good use of my time. I find the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to be quite true: “For it is in giving that we receive.” I find great comfort in the thought that these functional quilts may bring comfort to children who are in difficult times.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can check out other artists!

 

Return to Center

There is no true path without center
With center, the mind, body, and spirit –

Passion and commitment unleash
A force that cannot be contained.
Thomas Crum

A visit to the island of Maui a few weeks ago reminded me of the importance of ‘recharge’ breaks in life for staying centered and nurturing my artistic spirit. Maui had been an annual stopping point for my husband and I for many years. A little condo complex perched on the western shore offered an easy resting spot for us where we could quickly slip into a laid back routine. However, life has a way of intervening and it had been three years since our last visit.

It did not take long after our arrival for me to remember just why we had spent so many years trekking out to the spot annually. It felt as though the crashing waves outside our lanai were washing away tensions in my body. As I sat watching whales frolicking in the ocean, I realized the inspiration for many of my art quilts had emerged in similar moments sitting on a Maui lanai. The setting was a vehicle for me to nurture my own centered state akin to recharging a battery.

Back home on the mainland, I continued to play with the concept of recharging center. I began to identify and more fully appreciate the places in my travels where that feeling of ‘recharging’ was strongest and that I intuitively longed to return. I found each conveyed a deep feeling of peace that nurtured my creativity even though the locations varied significantly in landmark characteristics. High on my list were two sites in busy Paris – the sculpture gallery of the Louvre and the restored home of Rodin that displays many of his works.

Louvre Museum

Rodin Museum

Other ‘recharging stations’ for me were in more remote destinations: a beach on the west coast of Ireland, the ice in Antarctica, a mountain top perch in western Colorado.

County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland

Rocky Mountains

Fortunately, these places are not the only way for me to recharge. Daily meditation is my ‘at home’ go to for starting off a day in a balanced and inspired state, and sites such as the Seattle Art Museum, much more accessible than Antarctica, are guaranteed to recharge and inspire me. However, my Maui trip has reminded me of the importance of scheduling visits to some of those more distant magical places as often as possible. In fact, next year is already booked!

 

 

Time for Tea!

I was very excited to be asked by Alida of Tweety Loves Quilting to join the Spring 2017 edition of the “Art With Fabric Blog Hop!”   If you are not familiar with the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, contributors are asked to create an art work inspired by a ‘conventional’ piece of art – it could be a painting, a carving, a sculpture from any era – that leaves choices pretty open for the contributor I would say. The ‘theme’ for the spring 2017 hop was women. We could choose an inspiration piece made by a woman artist… or a piece that displays a woman… or a piece that represents some kind of women related theme… How we were to include or interpret the theme was left completely up to us.

The invitation to participate came in a few days after the inauguration of a new U.S. president – a time where tensions in the U.S. were running high you might say. Hundreds of thousands of women had just marched to express concern about the future of women’s issues and rights.

As I accepted the invitation to participate in the blog hop, my mind went immediately to a sculpture that sits in a park in Rochester NY near the National Susan B Anthony House – the home of the legendary American women’s rights leader during the most politically active period of her life, from 1866 until her death in 1906. It is now a permanent memorial to Anthony and the cause of women’s rights.

The bronzed sculpture called “Let’s Have Tea,” created by Rochester sculptor Pepsy Kettavong, was erected in 2001 — at the behest of the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association. It portrays Ms. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, two early local champions of civil rights sharing a cup of tea. The famous suffragist and abolitionist were close friends who shared the common goals of social justice and civil rights.

I loved the sculpture the moment I laid eyes upon it. A cup of tea has special symbolism in so many cultures. In my Irish homeland, a cup of tea is often the first thing you are offered upon visiting someone’s home. In Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson wrote that in the high tension areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan any meetings of substance always began with sharing tea.

And, so, I chose Pepsy Kettavong’s sculpture for my inspirational piece. I created an art quilt, using the silouhette of Susan B. Anthony and called it “It’s time for Tea!” I can definitely visualize Ms. Anthony taking to task those who are attempting to govern the U.S. now, reminding them it is time to sit down, discuss, and begin to work together.

Please do check out the other artists in the Spring 2017 Art With Fabric Blog Hop who are posting their creations today:

Linking as well to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday………

Ground Zero Reborn

I spent much of my studio time in the early months of 2017 working on a new art quilt that I have titled Ground Zero Reborn. The idea for the piece came directly from a visit that I made to the Ground Zero site in Manhattan in early November 2016.

The financial district of Manhattan has always been important in my life as my parents met while working on Wall St. and my father worked for an investment firm for his entire career. After 9/11, I visited the Ground Zero site whenever I was near New York City. I remember peering through plywood walls in the early weeks, years later standing in line for hours to gain admittance to the reflecting ponds and finally on this last visit walking down into the Memorial museum.

In the weeks after my November visit, I realized that something had definitely shifted for me. I had gained some perspective and perhaps some reassurance that whatever was thrown at us as a country, healing was possible with time. I have no doubt that my feelings of hopefulness were due in part to the choice of white marble for the interior of the massive Occulus transportation hub which lies on part of the Ground Zero site as well as it’s amazing roof design that reminded me of a bird taking flight into the future.

Photo of the Occulus building taken in November 2016 from the memorial ponds.

My new art quilt, Ground Zero Reborn, reflects my perspective now, in 2017, on the Ground Zero site and the journey of the site since that fateful day. It does this through three separate but joined art quilts.

The lowest quilt in the grouping, Remember, speaks to the horrible carnage and destruction of that fateful day when the towers came down. It is essential in my world view that we never forget horrific world events caused by mankind and that we learn from them so hopefully they will never be repeated.

The middle quilt in the sequence, Respect, honors the nearly 3000 victims of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 and 2/26/1993 as well as all those who risked their lives to help save others. It underscores the important place of respectfulness in modern society. It is my fervent hope that in paying homage to those who lost their lives, we will be inspired to commit to living our own lives at a higher level as we have the privilege of life.

The top quilt in the group, Rebirth, acknowledges the steps forward that Manhattan has taken to rebuild and revitalize its damaged community and population. I see in the image the spirits of those lost on the site soaring to the heavens. The piece truly embodies my hope that we will learn from the past and work towards a future without violence.

The three art quilts that are Ground Zero Reborn were created using multiple fiber techniques as appropriate to each quilt. Much of the stitching was done by hand with care and loving thoughts for those that lost their lives on the site.

Exhibiting with a Good Friend

I was honored to receive word a week ago that my art quilt, After the Storm, has been accepted into the 2017 Sacred Threads exhibit.

I have always loved the Sacred Threads exhibit. It is held bi-annually in Herndon, VA. The website for the exhibit describes its purpose as “a positive influence on the human spirit, giving joy as well as addressing concerns of the soul and mind.”  In my journey as an art quilter, I immediately flagged the exhibit as one that I would love to be part of. I have been fortunate to have been previously accepted into the 2013 and 2015 exhibits. My 2015 contribution, JOY!, has been part of the Sacred Threads traveling exhibit.

After the Storm depicts a scene on the Hana coastline of Maui in Hawaii. It had been a day of torrential rains. We had been on a day long tour of the coastline and had pulled over near a viewing point. The remnants of some branches that had blown against some rocks caught my eye. The sun was just beginning to break through the clouds.

I entered After The Storm into the exhibition under the category of grief. For me, the broken branches reaching out and seeming to pierce the skyline represented emotions of angst and pain that I have felt in my life as friends and family have passed on. The sky, beginning to clear, served as a reminder that life goes on.

The 2017 exhibition will be July 7-23 at the Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon. If you are in the area this summer, it is an exhibit definitely worth seeing. In the meantime, I am linking to Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday blog so you can see what other artists have been up to this week.

A Feeling of Closure

Closure:
A sense of resolution or closure at the end of an artisitic work.
Definition in Google.

I have been working fairly intensely on a project for the past two months that revolves around the Ground Zero site in Manhattan. I revisited the site last November and wrote about it in a post on this blog. As I wrote in that post, it was not my first visit to the area but this last visit was meaningful in that I began to see past the horrors and the sadness  and to recognize new life or rebirth in the area. It was that experience that prompted me to create an art quilt that captured my perception of this transformation.

I am still in process on that work and documenting the steps in its development on my Facebook artist page. I realized though this past week that I had reached a turning point in my process – from design to mainly execution.   It created a true feeling of closure that I promptly celebrated by cleaning my studio whose floor was covered with fabrics and sketches. I will save you from what my studio looked like ‘before’ but here is a peak at the after. You may not think this is very ‘open’ so just imagine every place where there is carpeting filled with piles of paper and fabric. 🙂

That large case that you see is for my new Bernina 765 machine that I purchased a month ago to celebrate my birthday. I had decided that 2017 would have a mantra of ‘simplify, simplify’. I have owned an 830 for many years, along with the embroidery attachment that I simply could never get excited over. My 830 was finicky…….it did a beautiful job of free motion quilting once I had the tension just right. But, I had come to realize that my needs were simpler than an 830. My 765 sews for me instantly, whenever I need a straight seam. And, when I want to quilt with it, it does so without any objection. I am in love with it and wondering why it took me so long to change.

Getting closure on projects has proved quite simple with my 765. And so, I retrieved my UFO Aspen III that I wrote about last year and finally faced and labeled it. As a result, I am pleased to be an early bird for the 2017 SAQA Auction.

                                                         Aspen III

I am looking forward to finishing my Ground Zero quilt and moving on to other projects. Hope that you are all moving forward too!

 

 

 

 

Wrapping Up Dreams

One of my projects towards the end of last year was to create a wrapping cloth. Many of the participants in my stitching group with Karen Ruane were creating cloths and so there was a lot of camaraderie.  Much of the written history that I could find traces the origins of wrapping cloths to the Japanese as early as the Nara period (710-784). The custom has spread world wide with cloths used to wrap precious items or hold precious thoughts, tiny pockets can metaphorically hold loving wishes for a recipient – the interpretations and applications are endless.

My wrapping cloth is relatively small (21″ x 15″) and I focused upon a theme of joy and playfulness in creating it. Since I was concurrently formulating a design for an art quilt on Ground Zero in Manhattan, it was a good contrasting focus for me! The cloth is quite detailed with many hidden pockets and embroideries. I am quite pleased with the results and happy to share with you.

Detail photos:

Hidden pocket and cutwork insert

surface pocket with hidden embroidery behind it (pictured below)

 

 

 

Linking with Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other artists have been up to.

A Trio of Memories

Those that touch our lives
stay in our hearts forever

My Aunt Eleanor was blessed to live a long and amazing life. Her three children are all special cousins to me. After her passing at the age of 100, my cousin Kate was kind enough to share with me some vintage French lace doilies that her Mom had tucked away. The doilies had never been used and were still held together by a single stitch and a tag of origin.  I decided to create a trio of small wrapping cloths for my cousins from them.

For a contrasting fabric to the white lace doilies, I used a fat quarter of an aboriginal design cloth that I had run across while I was visiting the La Conner Quilt Museum last fall. Using some spun silk broadcloth as a base, I created three unique cloths for my three cousins and saved them for holiday giving. The wrapping cloths have now been distributed so I thought I would share some photos on this blog. I am particularly pleased with how they turned out.

I was able to draw upon many of the stitches and techniques from my studies with Karen Ruane in creating these pieces.

In the detail photo below, you catch a glimpse of some gimp anchored with bullion knots and stab stitches. Karen is using gimp in her own compositions in the most amazing ways. I chose here to simply create a line echoing the triangular prairie points and highlighting three pieces of the lace. You can really appreciate the beauty of the lace in this close up.

In the composition detailed below, I used some covered cording to create a design line and then added some appliqué circles outlined with chain stitches and yo-yos as a background to the lace doilies.

My third piece used the largest doily in the group. I used French knots, gimp, and chain stitching as well as some small appliqué circles to offset the larger lace piece.

All three pieces were backed with white cotton fabric and given a finishing touch of an edging of small running stitches.

I had many fond moments remembering time with my Aunt as I was stitching these mementos for her children. My hope is that the pieces I created will bring back many similar memories for each of my cousins when they happen upon them in their own homes.

New Facebook Page

With the start of the new year, I have begun an artist page on Facebook. I am slowly developing a gallery there which eventually will highlight my hand stitchery as well as my art quilts. I will also use the page to share posts as I create new works. I intend to still blog here several times a month but if you would like to also follow my new page, here is the link.

 

Joy about JOY

Joy in looking and comprehending
is nature’s most beautiful gift.
Albert Einstein

JOY

“JOY” is a work that I entered in the Sacred Threads 2015 show. It was accepted both for the main show in Herndon, VA and for the following traveling exhibit. For the past 18 months, it has been traveling to different venues across the US. About a week ago, I received word that the traveling exhibit would be featured at the Texas Quilt Museum this winter and that “JOY” had been selected as one of the quilts on display. Last night I learned that “JOY” was featured in the Texas Quilt Museum newsletter announcing their exhibits opening in January.

I am delighted that so many people are getting to enjoy my art quilt. The photo behind the quilt was taken on a ski trip to Aspen Colorado where my granddaughter had one of her first experiences of snow. Her enthusiasm is absolutely infectious and I could not resist sharing her true expression of joy through an art quilt.

I am truly honored to have my art quilt as part of the Sacred Threads exhibit. The bi-annual exhibit is a forum for fiber artists to share their works and stories on themes of Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing and Peace/Brotherhood. The exhibit is accompanied by audio recordings of the artists explaining their motivations behind their works. The combination of visual and audio create a powerful experience for the observer.

You can learn more about Sacred Threads at this link. The next main exhibit, Sacred Threads 2017, will be in July in Herndon, VA.