Archives for 2019

Time Flies!

I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?

Sandy Denny

I am amazed that it is May. My March shamrocks are still growing, much to my delight. The temperatures are creeping upwards and the days are each more beautiful than the last.

An April walk……....

Time has flown and I have little to show in fiber art projects completed. A trip back East, so much to be done outside on our property, and the distraction of my wonderful grandchildren slowed progress on my many fiber projects……I am working along in the two year-long online gatherings with Karen Ruane but I have no photos for you.

I have been busy at my sewing machine as a sundress was requested by one granddaughter. I totally enjoy the change in focus and was pleased with the outcome……

May promises to be quite busy too away from the studio. I trust my travels will yield some memorable photos for this blog…..In the meantime, I leave you with a video that I trust will make you smile. The grandchildren are very much into dressing up in all sorts of costumes. Miriam has also decided she wants to learn Irish step dancing. The results are as you can see from this video are totally entertaining and brighten everyone’s day.

Best Laid Plans…

It is good to have a plan….
but always follow your heart!

Yesterday started as a fairly normal day and I expected to move forward on a cloth page I have been working on the past two weeks for my Stitch Along class with Karen Ruane. But Thursdays are “late arrival” days for my seven-year-0ld granddaughter’s elementary school and her Mom drops her off to have breakfast with me and I take her to school. Judy Cate arrived carrying her little faithful stuffed animal, Raven. She reported that he was in real need of a bow tie and could I help. How could I say ‘no’ to such a request! 🙂

As we enjoyed our breakfast, we searched the web for patterns for bow tie pattern for doll. We found a free one, picked out appropriate fabric from my stash, and I agreed to have Raven outfitted by the time Judy Cate returned from school. Needless to say, the rest of my day got rearranged a bit with a very happy result.

Happy puppy

The blog where I found the pattern was Shiny Happy World. It is a blog by Wendi Gratz. She lives in North Caroline and, according to her bio, has chosen to create “sewing, quilting and embroidery patterns especially for beginners”. If the bow tie pattern I used is typical, then Wendi is a very gifted designer. I have followed a lot of patterns in my years of sewing and this was one of the best written. I particularly loved her side comments on some short cuts that were possible. They were the sort of ones that I would instinctively explore in doing any pattern and it was great to read that she used them too and they were okay. Wendi has many free patterns on her website for quilting, crochet, felting, embroidery and sewing. Where you need a pattern or not, it is worth checking the pictorial listing out as they will make you smile.

Raven went home with three bow ties made in less than an hour with Wendi’s pattern. I spent the rest of the day in gratitude that I am at a point in my life where I can drop other activities and doing something that I know will make a grandchild smile.

More on my other projects next week….for now I am linking to Nine Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog……

Let’s Talk

2018
25″ x 22″

Over the years, I have spent many hours near a favorite resting spot of Hawaiian Green Sea turtles. These magnificent creatures have been around for more than 150 million years. They spend the majority of their time in the ocean. When I have the opportunity to sit quietly with these beings, it is impossible to not feel appraised by their penetrating stare and to wonder what they might want to say to me.

“Let’s Talk” imagines these turtles opening a conversation with us about the current state of our oceans. Green Sea Turtles are impacted daily by the actions of mankind which are contributing to rising ocean temperatures and increased pollution of the seas. The Great Pacific Garbage patch, the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world, located between Hawaii and California, is a glaring illustration of the extent of our pollution of their ocean. 

Imagine if these wise ones could talk to us the wisdom they would share!

Detail Image – Click to View Larger

Ground Zero Reborn

2017
21″ x 48″
Global Murmurs 2017
Sacred Threads 2019

9/11 affected me deeply as my childhood revolved around lower Manhattan. My quilt, Ground Zero Reborn, captures my healing journey and my perception of how the site has healed over time. The three joined scenes in my quilt, “Remember”, “Respect”, and “Rebirth” trace the evolution of Ground Zero from destruction, through commemoration (the Memorial Reflecting Pools), to its regeneration. This last phase was crystalized for me when I stood in 2017 and viewed the Occulus building, now rising from the site, and saw it as a white dove rising to the heavens with the souls of those lost and our hope for the future.


Spring is coming

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is still weeks away but it was in my heart this week. 🙂

Most of the week was spent on finishing up some of my stitching projects and working on ideas for my next set. As I was returning fabrics to my storage wall, I came across two panels I had purchased last year on a visit back to Victor, NY. I bought them with a purpose in mind but abandoned the idea after I returned out west. As often happens, the panels became buried in a pile…

I decided that there was a better use for the panels than sitting in my storage cubbies. It took only a few hours to create a potential quilt top to be passed on to Quilt Beyond Borders where it can bring joy to someone going through some difficult times. For the moment though, the quilt top is hanging on my design wall, brightening my days as I count down to Spring. 🙂

Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog. She writes this week about a movement by a number of art museums in the U.S. to share images in their digital collections with the public free of charge and copy right licensing. Be sure to check it out!

Mission Accomplished

Enjoy the satisfaction that comes from doing little things well.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is an extremely nice feeling to start from a gathering of materials that attracted you and wind up with a finished project. I mentioned in my last post that I rarely purchase fabric these days as I have a stash to draw upon. There must be something truly unique about some fabric, or even buttons, or ribbons — anything that I might use in my art – before I will buy it.

Last fall I started a small grouping of purchases from trips I had made to the Manhattan garment district, upstate NY and Sedona AZ during 2018. I had no plan initially for them, but something about them created a feeling that resonated with me. This year, in my stitching group with Karen Ruane, that pile started beckoning to me to let them join in my play.

First I created a suffolk puff from a Japanese print fabric I had found in Manhattan. Then, I began playing with some bullion knots around cording in another piece of fabric………ribbon and buttons begged to be included in my design process. 🙂

As time progressed, a plan for a bag developed and I began stitching in earnest.

This week I finished my bag. Here are two views of it.

View One
View 2

I plan to use my new bag in my studio for other special items that I have brought back from trips. In that way, it will serve a number of purposes, both reminding me of places I visited, and reminding me of that sense of satisfaction from following through from an idea to a final product. In that way, I suspect it will continue to encourage me to follow through in 2019 with other ideas and projects that speak to me, whatever they may be.

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

Waste Not, Want Not

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven..

Pete Seeger

I have been watching old episodes of Life Below Zero on Netflix this winter. One of the lessons that becomes clear as I watch is that when you are living a subsistence living near the Arctic Circle, absolutely nothing is wasted. It is a great lesson as figures suggest that the human population creates 2.12 billion tons of waste every year. That is a lot of stuff!

I resolved a while back to focus on using the stash of fabrics that I have accumulated over the years in my projects whenever possible. I still will purchase a special fabric here and there, but mainly I try to use my stash. My latest quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders is a perfect example of this.

I found a simple yet attractive pattern for a daisy chain quilt on Pinterest and was able find enough prints and solids in my stash to create both the top and back of a quilt that will go to a person in need. (Sorry about the poor photo of the quilt back but you get the idea. 🙂 )

Quilt front
Quilt Back

However, that was not the end of my Waste Not, Want Not story. To create the quilt, one had to slice off areas at the top and bottom as the quilt was assembled in angular strips. As I created my rectangular quilt, I created a little pile of odd shapes. I put them aside for a few days and then took them all out. There were enough scraps to be able to create a 15″ x 18″ quilt for one of my grandchild’s dolls!

Mini quilt

Now not only will someone somewhere in the world with no home benefit from my stash, but I have created joy for a child and avoided adding a small bit to that 2.12 billion figure.

I will leave you with one more statistic from that website on waste – it is suggested that 99% of things we buy are trashed within 6 months. Yuk! Hopefully, we all can do better than that!

Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Letting Go

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

Last week I shared with you the beginnings of my first ledger page for my online class, Ledgers-A Record of Stitch, with Karen Ruane. I had a design that I was pretty comfortable with:

This week I planned to finish up the page and move on with other projects. As I completed the French Knots on each of my crosses, I focused more and more on the circular portion of the design. My original ideas of simply stitching the two circular outlines just didn’t excite me any more. So, I began looking at what other fibers I might have in my studio that I could use.

One thing led to another and as you can see from the photo below, where I wound up with quite a ways from where I started. 🙂

My new design is much more vibrant and mysterious. I continued to explore color balance and the impact of differing proportions on composition but I gave myself permission to just let go and play. The unstructured, scattered nature of the yarn that I crocheted together to meld the blue and black carries the free form of the organic gatherings of French Knots to a more extreme form.

I left the little black circle in the lower left as information on another color balance example as this is for a ledger of design ideas. In one sense the little circle is a bit out of place. In another, it fits as it develops the progression of darkness through color proportion from the small crosses to the large circle to a final extreme expression.

You might wonder what might have been influencing me as I was working on this composition. I suspect it is the Harry Potter series where I am currently in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Twill be interesting where my reading takes me next! 🙂

Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

The Delights of Stitching

It is our choices that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities.
Dumbledore

My grandchildren are reading the Harry Potter series. (More accurately their parents are reading it to them each evening.) I had read the series when it was published years ago but decided I had better brush up on the characters so I could discuss them with our seven year old. I really am enjoying the escape from current events that the books now offer. The above quote jumped out at me as I was reading and I had to share it. I think it rang true for me for my life overall.

Having finished True Power last week, I have refocused on my adventures with Karen Ruane. I have been following along with her and my compatriots in the Stitch Along class for six months now – that hardly seems possible as time flies in the class. I have continued to play with adorning vintage children’s dresses and now have begun what will be a cloth book of embroidery ideas for future projects. I simply love that we are free to do as we wish when we follow Karen. If an idea she is exploring resonates with us, we can try it; if not, then we can focus on what has caught our eye.

I have finally finished one dress that I suspect will find a home eventually with my youngest granddaughter as she appears to have inherited my love of dolls. I think you will recognize some of the adornments from an earlier fall post:

My cloth book is just beginning but I have put together the ‘front’ side of what will be one page in the book. It allowed me to play with some exquisite lace I picked up several years ago in the garment district of New York and to explore the rich effect created making suffolk puffs with silk.

Since I love the community of stitchers that play along with Karen, I have just joined another of her groups – Ledgers – A Record of Stitch. Here the focus will be upon creating a paper ledger of color studies and design options drawn from items that have caught our eye – whether photos, embroideries, really anything that we wish.

For my first ledger page, I chose an embroidery that I received from a group of women who stitch in their villages in Afghanistan. The color choices really appealed to me.

I am now working on a page where I am using those colors and expanding from my chosen ‘resource’ to create my own designs. It is fun to stitch on paper for a change! As you can see, I am just beginning my stitching process.

As you can see Karen’s classes definitely can keep you busy! Of course, I am also thinking about my next quilt projects — to be shared as they materialize. 🙂

Linking with NineMarie’s Off the Wall Friday blog for more inspirational ideas.

Honoring Nature

Wilderness is not a luxury
but a necessity of the human spirit.

Edward Abbey

As I look at the photos and art quilts that fill the walls of my studio, a good number of them are of nature — rock formations in Scotland, an Aspen tree, cypress along the Pacific Coast, the Atlantic Ocean off the west of Ireland. I find my inspiration in nature, retreat to nature to re-center myself in life, and to keep in perspective how minute my presence is in the universe. When I cannot be present in nature, these images help ground me. Today I was happy to add a new image to my wall, True Power. The title comes from a favorite quote that Tom Crum used in our many workshops, True Power is energy flowing freely towards a vision. Glaciers embody ‘true power’ to me as they move purposely on their way.

I wrote last week about how what is now titled True Power came about. In the past week, a path to completion became clearer and clearer. Handstitching the water against a backing of batting flowed into appropriate stitching for the shoreline, mountains, and sky. It was a simple matter to frame the piece in an open frame once trimmed. You can see the detail work in the photo below that contributes to the overall desired effect when viewed on a wall.

I am excited about this piece and looking forward to playing more with this genre, along with my many hand stitching projects and some digital images I am currently getting printed. I think 2019 will be a fun year!

Linking as usual to Nine Maries Off the Wall Friday blog.

Taking Stitch to Cloth and Paper

What do I need to Learn Here?
Thomas Crum

For many years, I worked with Thomas Crum as we introduced people to what we called the Discovery Model. The premise is that as long as the questions you ask yourself in life are along the lines of “What do I need to say or do to be right?” you are not operating at your full potential. Indeed, a look at the truly great inventors over time revealed that their frame of reference in trying new ideas as setbacks and failures occurred was more typically the question, “What do I need to learn here?”

As many of you are aware, I have been exploring the art of hand stitching with Karen Ruane for a number of years…what began as an interest in learning hand embroidery has grown to an exploration of expression using stitch on both fabric and paper.

The start of my current project was innocent enough. I was interested in creating a small art quilt from a glacier photo taken on a trip to Alaska last summer. Initially I thought I would follow my typical process of drafting a sketch from a photo, fusing various fabrics to muslin to create a base and then free motion quilting to complete the art quilt. It has been a bit since I had followed that model but it had always satisfied me before.

An interesting thing though happened as I began to work on a muslin base trying out various fabrics. Nothing satisfied me. The more I searched for fabrics, the less pleased I was. I finally realized that some paper I had collected to use in projects with Karen was pretty close to what I wanted. It was time to let go of the traditional and come from discovery!

I began constructing a base of fabric and possible papers for my scene:

In the above photo, I found that a matte frame really helped give me a sense of direction. The central portions in the scene are all layers of paper while the sky and water are fabric.

I wisely did not permanently attach anything to my muslin base. The more I looked at the scene I realized that while it was a fair representation perhaps of the photo I had chosen as a base, it wasn’t what had stood out for me as I remembered our trip. We saw many glaciers in varying light and, as you would expect, varying colors of both ice and water. The glaciers as a whole left us humbled by the power and raw strength of nature that created and moved them. I realized that I needed to create an art work that captured what spoke to my heart as I had gazed at all of them rather than concern myself with reproducing a specific photo.

Once I accepted that reality, I really began to make progress with my piece. I changed some of both the fabric and paper layers and added some dabs of paint.

From there I quickly began experimenting with stitch on the glaciers. I found that a combination of seed stitch and french knot offered the effect I wanted.

This piece is very much still in progress. I currently am playing with stitch for the water. In my earlier stitching stages, I worked without a batting layer as I didn’t feel it was needed and I had given myself permission to create without being bound by the current day definitions of an ‘art quilt’. As I played with possibilities for the water on test pieces, I concluded that I will now add a batting layer to the piece as I like the textural effect the batting lends to the hand stitching for the water.

Bullion loops and running stitch

Over the coming weeks, I will be stitching in the water and then exploring how to interpret the mountains and sky. Promise an update soon!

As always, linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

A Fun Portfolio Project for the New Year

A number of years ago I created a portfolio for myself using a pattern from Bernina. It was intended as an exercise in using their circle tool. A local Bernina store offered a class using the pattern so I had plenty of help on my first try.

Original portfolio

I still am using that portfolio and about two years ago decided to make versions for my daughter and son-in-law. They loved their portfolios and continue to use them. This fall I got way more ambitious and decided to make a series of portfolios as Christmas gifts.

Playing with variations

I took the basic idea of the original portfolio but decided to give myself more leeway in the design process. Rather than focusing upon circles, I took the basic form of a long rectangle and used assorted materials from my stash along with decorative stitching and some ribbons to create the outer portion of each portfolio. This decision really allowed me to have some fun with both novelty fabrics and vintage Japanese cottons I had collected over the years.

To line the insides of each portfolio, I simply chose a coordinating fabric. Using some double sided midweight fusible stabilizer to join the outer and inner sides of the portfolio and some bias binding to edge the rectangular shape, my gift portfolios were near completion. All that was left was to fold the rectangle to create the pouch and the cover sections, stitch the sides of the pouch section, and add a velcro fastener.

The gifts were a tremendous success and I really encourage everyone to play with this idea. It is a great way to use some of your stash. While I created portfolios that could easily hold a notebook or letter sized documents, one could easily create other sized portfolios by altering the size of the starting rectangle. (I began with rectangles roughly 15″x 28″). I wasn’t able to find my original instructions online but did find some references on the Bernina site for a similar idea that you could easily use as a jumping off guide: https://weallsew.com/embroidered-circles-folio

Below are images of one of the new portfolios from various views:

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!