Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Letters" challenge deadline approaches

A week from tomorrow is our annual holiday potluck/meeting.  We're having it at Deb's again because it was so much fun last year (and she didn't mind hosting again this year!).  We'll each show our finished pieces for the current "Letters" challenge and much of it will be a surprise.   Interestingly, it seems that there's been much less previewing of our work in progress this time than there was with past challenges.

Soon after the "Letters" theme was suggested as our next challenge, I had the idea of secret writing.  I was also playing around with some encaustic wax projects and wanted to incorporate that  into this challenge

Here is the encaustic bit that I'll add to my "Letters" piece:
Layers of writing on watercolor paper, dipped into encaustic wax.
Previously, we've shared our challenge quilts throughout their construction.  Some members were simply excited to show what they'd done so far, while others sought specific design feedback (Do the colors flow?  Does the quilt have enough contrast?  Does it keep the viewer's eye moving through the piece?)  One of the beautiful things about our group is the willingness of members to share their knowledge and their generosity in offering valuable suggestions in a completely noncompetitive manner. We've created a very supportive environment where members feel safe enough to show work that may they feel less than confident about.  Unfailingly, someone will speak up about the elements of that design that do work, and others chime in with thoughtful ideas and suggestions, sharing even their favorite tips and tricks.  Such encouragement is like a shot of confidence for the recipient.

So it seems that we're all growing more confident and have less need to get feedback while our challenge pieces are in progress.  I'm excited about that.  I've often thought it would be more exciting if our challenge deadlines were actually unveilings where we'd see each others' quilts for the first time.

That being said, I realize I'd have even less reasons for posting on this blog if I didn't show my work in progress (or my design dilemmas, and of course there have been plenty this time, as always). 
A section I've pieced, including rust-dyed silk (left), deconstructed
screenprinting (blue spirals),  and a Thermofax screenprint (lower middle in blue).

Hand-dyed silk; 3 needlefelted pieces incorporating hand-dyed cheesecloth,
rust-dyed silk, wool and silk rovings.
Still much to do to get this finished by next week.  The ideas continue to flow, so I'll keep working on it until it feels like enough!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Deb's quilt accepted into Road to California Show!

Fiberexplorations member Deb Sorem recently learned that her quilt Grandmother's Secret Flower Garden was accepted into the juried Road to California Quilters' Conference & Showcase "The Best in the West."  The show runs from Jan. 24-27, 2013 in Ontario, Cal.

Gwen, Cora, and Harper in "Grandmother's Secret Flower Garden" by Deb Sorem.
"I took my granddaughters' names and worked them into kaleidoscopes," Deb said.  "The traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern was a favorite of mine, and my mother made one for me as a wedding present.  I repeated the shape of the hexagons in this contemporary version." 

You can see the pieced hexagons in the blue sky background above
This ingenious design could have easily worked as Deb's entry for our current "Letters" challenge, but I think she's done something entirely different for the challenge!  Here's one more detail shot of her quilt:
Deb's granddaughters' names are Cora, Gwen, and Harper.  I think I've successfully deciphered each girl's name in its corresponding flower.  If you want to give it a try, click on the first photo to enlarge it.  (Hint:  each flower blossom spells out one of the girls' names in both its normal orientation and in reverse image.)

My "answer"  to the puzzle (and I sure hope it's correct!):  Clockwise from the top left, the three names are in the order given in the  first photo caption above.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New samples for winter classes

It was a very busy week!  I didn't get any photos at our meeting last Monday because of poor lighting, but next month should be a different story.  That's our holiday potluck dinner, where we'll exchange fabric postcards (this year we're adding a distinctive Portland spin on the cards: Put a bird on it!) AND unveil our Letters challenge quilts.  And it will be at Deb's, where the lighting is much better.

Last week's stormy weather was good for keeping me at home, working on the samples for the three new classes I'm teaching this winter at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest (Salem OR).  In fact, I turned them in just one day late, and that was because I kept adding tiny details to my fabric collage (Hello Mr. Sun) to create more definition.  That project is for my Serendipity Quilts class from the book by the same title (Susan Carlson, author).

"Hello Mr. Sun" class sample.
I still see areas that beg for more detail, but I had to stop and get this guy delivered!  That's okay; I'll use it in class at a teachable moment -- an opportunity to show the impact made by the tiniest of details.
Eye detail of "Hello Mr. Sun."
Detail of lips on "Hello Mr. Sun."
My sewing machine was so sweet and compliant as I did the free-motion quilting on Mr. Sun.  I used rayon threads for the soft gleam they impart (light gold for the sun and a medium blue for the background). 

My next duo of samples is for the Zen Quilts class, and is based on the concept of Zentangles, a type of doodling I've played around with for the past 5 years. I just now clicked on that link and visited their website for the first time in quite awhile, and I am WOWed by its popularity.  There are even yahoo groups set up for sharing the tangles that people have come up with!  (tangle is the term for a specific doodle design).
"Zen Quilts # 2 & 3"
 My third new class is the one I'm most excited about.  For me, surface design on fabric is all about making discoveries, and I love sharing those techniques.  When you combine fiber reactive dyes with a soy wax resist, you get batik!  To make my sample for this easy batik class, I simply cut some of the pieces I've made and stitched them together: 
Samples for my soy wax batik class.
With Thanksgiving behind us and my class samples finished, I'm ready to concentrate on pulling together all my ideas for our Letters challenge and choosing a starting place. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A busy Sunday

Tomorrow night's our monthly Fiberexplorations meeting, but I just received word that we need to change the meeting location.  On such short notice, I offered to host it, and just sent out an email telling everyone.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everyone checks their email and sends an RSVP so I don't have to track them down by phone.

The downside to hosting is that I've been living as if the entire downstairs was my studio, and some cleaning is definitely in order.  (That means less time to sew today, when I'd planned on working on the samples for my 3 new classes.)  On the other hand, I can share my work-in-progress from the 5-day Rosalie Dace workshop in early October.  It's still pinned to the design wall (though partially stitched!) and would've been too cumbersome to take to the original meeting location.
Work in progress from 2012 Rosalie Dace class.
One day last month, the Salem Art Group got together for a "play day" at Nancy Eng's studio.  She does the most beautiful encaustic work (and is very generous in sharing her supplies!)  Here's the encaustic piece I made:

"Relent" (mixed media encaustic).

"Relent," detail.
 Though I'm still a novice when it comes to encaustics, I love it.  The smell of the warm wax, the tactile appeal of the finished surface, and compared to quilt-making, the almost-instant gratification! I've been considering ways to incorporate encaustic wax with textiles, and at least for the current Fiberexplorations challenge, Letters, I've found one way:

A "waxed" letter."

 I haven't decided how to use my waxed letter in this challenge, but I did leave a blank, unwaxed tab at the top of it (on the left) so it can be stitched onto fabric.  It sits on the table, beckoning and encouraging me to finish the class samples and get to work on this challenge!

There's one more thing I want to share, circa 2006 (?).  I taught a series of mystery quilts and this was one of them.  I rarely finished any; I just worked through all the steps on each so I'd be prepared to teach them.  This one was found with one row sewn in upside down, but it had already been "unstitched" and only needed to be sewn in again.  Presto -- a new quilt top!   (I was always partial to the geometric designs that relied on strong contrast in order for the design to pop.)
A "building block" mystery quilt (in need of a good pressing).

Please leave a comment, even if it's just to say hi, and come back again soon.  I promise to take photos at tomorrow night's meeting!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This one's for Torrie!

Last Mon. afternoon, Deb, Kathleen, and I drove to Sisters and spent the night at Torrie's (our member who's recently relocated there).  We dubbed it "the PJ Party," but in reality it was a meeting to prepare for our presentation the next day to the Mountain Meadows Quilt Guild in Sunriver, OR. Over wine and cheese, we discussed the next day's plan and sorted through the 50-some quilts we'd be showing.

After the fact -- some of my quilts that were shown at the presentation. 
I should stop here and make a confession:  Yes, I've neglected this blog for 2 months and feel guilty about it.  I missed the writing, yet (obviously) not enough to break out of the rut I'd found myself in.  I  left my camera at home and missed out on some prime photo op's (like the one at Sunriver!), and let some stories pass by unrecorded. 

But all it took to get me back here were a few words from Torrie, spoken over dinner at her house that night.  She missed my blog posts!  It seems that while I thought no one was listening, she kept checking in to see if I'd posted anything new.  So this one's for you, Torrie!

Photographed through the filter of my rain-streaked window last month.
Our hour-long presentation in Sunriver came off without a hitch.  (Deb had laryngitis -- honestly! -- so her speaking part was very limited.)  We described the beginnings of Fiberexplorations and the positive impact it's had on each of us, as well as stories about our quilt challenges and exhibiting our work in public, and the opportunities that have come our way as a result.  It was gratifying to see so much of our work in one place, but even moreso to receive the compliments of the guild members after the presentation, as they came up for a closer look at our quilts.

I hope there will be more opportunities like this, where we get to visit other groups to share our stories and our work.  Oh, and more PJ parties, too!
Rain-soaked leaves gathered today (to be preserved).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On not comparing yourself with others . . .

I know we shouldn't compare ourselves with others.  It doesn't matter if they're weavers, spinners, quilters, painters, or dancers; there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself, as Max Ehrmann wrote in Desiderata.  (Anyone remember that poem from the 1970's?  I had a big poster of  it in my apartment and thought it held all the wisdom of the world.)

So instead of writing  I'll never be as good as this guy,  I'll just say Wow, when it comes to design, no one, and I mean NO ONE, can do it better than this guy!  

Take a look:

"Tapestry in the Grapevines"

"Tapestry . . ." partially sunlit.

And this work, more loosely woven and by a different artist, is more in the style of a crazy quilt or scrappy patchwork:

"Radial Steps"

Both of these artists credit a long line of maternal ancestors for their inherited skill and artistry.

"It's just in my blood," said one.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Katydid, a fabric interpretation

I finished piecing my fabric interpretation of my friend's abstract painting, and had some interesting thoughts in the process.  Once again, here's Katy's painting:
Abstract painting by Katy Vigeland
And my fabric interpretation:
"Katydid" on a black background
When I told Katy I was using her painting as an inspiration for an art quilt, she said "I've never been anyone's inspiration before."  (Isn't that the name of a song??)  She may need to get used to it, because I enjoyed this process very much and can't wait to start another one!

What I learned:  I began the project as a literal interpretation, but when the lower right-hand section turned out a bit off-kilter, I liked it even more.  Most of the other parts were already constructed, and I didn't want to re-make them.  So this first attempt actually is more of a fabric interpretation rather than an exercise in creating a piece inspired by an original painting.

And now, how to quilt it?  I'll have to let the ideas percolate before deciding.  I do know that I definitely want to do more like this, while allowing myself more latitude in the process.

Thanks, Katy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My 100th post; not quilt-related

I've been trying to find a way to link this post's topic to quilting, but I give up.  It's not related to quilting, but since it's something different than the usual, I deemed it blog-worthy.  It also happens to be my 100th post!

I spent last Fri. night with my daughter in Portland.   Her neighborhood was hoppin' with excitement (even though there was no street parking within a 4 block radius) because they were filming an episode of the TV show GRIMM at Zell's Cafe, on the corner of SE Morrison & 14th.

Zell's Cafe
Note on Zell's window
Equipment being delivered
Lighting on crane
We didn't see any of the show's stars, but since I've only seen it twice, I wouldn't recognize them anyway.  I couldn't believe how many people, trucks, semis, tools, equipment, electrical stuff, etc. were required!   

We hung around outside til midnight.  Talked to lots of different crew members and some of the extras -- all were VERY nice and friendly.  In fact 80-85% of the people who work on that show live in Portland; only a few come up from L.A.  Also learned that this one little TV show requires:
10 months of filming -- 5 days a week -- 12-16 hrs. per day

We each bought a T-shirt and here's what's on the back (note the Sasquatch on Mt. Hood!):
Back of T-shirt
Close to midnight, the director (I think) told us we could stay where we were standing while they filmed, as long as we didn't look in the direction of the camera.  Two of the extras who'd just finished their shots stood nearby, talking to a crew member. The director told them the same thing, so we may show up as background figures in one of the shots!
The directors' chairs

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunsets and Screenprinting

One thing I love about Oregon's Willamette Valley is the sunsets.  It was partly cloudy today, which makes for a more interesting sky when the sun begins its evening descent.

Tonight's sunset.
 . . . and a few minutes later.
 Yesterday I did some deconstructed screenprinting.  First, I removed the items I'd embedded in the thick, wet thickened Procion dye on the back of a silkscreen, after making sure the dye was very dry.  Then I mixed up some print paste (urea, sodium alginate, water) and let it thicken.  The screen was placed on top of  my soda-soaked fabric, and print paste was spooned into the "well" at the (inside) top of the screen.  A squeegee was used to pull the print paste across the screen, which releases the dried dye on the back and prints the image.
Ready to pull the next print onto fabric.
Ink remaining on screen after deconstructed screenprinting.
The mess in my kitchen nook (AKA my printmaking studio!)
Wet prints on fabric, ready for batching.
 Today I rinsed the batched fabrics, then wash, dried, and ironed them.  I got a few nice surprises (always the best part), as well as a few duds.
Series of prints from one screen.
Detail shot of print from another screen.

When I finished working with the screens last night, I did a little dye-painting (painting with thickened dyes).  Since the next Fiberexplorations challenge is LETTERS, I played with writing, using a narrow paintbrush and for the very thin lines, a curved plastic syringe from the veterinarian's office.
Detail of dye-painted piece.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A summer Sunday afternoon

How do you decide what to do with hours and hours of free time on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon?   There's an art fair in nearby Silverton, a small town nestled in the western foothills of the Cascades.  But since I want the day to be both enjoyable and productive, I've narrowed down my choices:
1.  Sewing: Continue work on the small piece I started last week, which is a fabric interpretation of an abstract painting by Katy Vigeland.  Katy's a friend from the other group I'm in, the Salem Art Group (SAG).  I instantly fell in love with these two abstract paintings that she brought to a meeting last fall:

Abstract painting by Katy Vigeland.
Another of Katy's abstract paintings.

This is the first of Katy's paintings I chose to interpret in fabric.
The start of my interpretation of her first painting above.

Some of the other fabrics to be fit into place and stitched.
 2.  Dyeing: A great option for a warm (but not too hot) sunny day!  I mixed up a flour-paste resist and scraped it across this white fabric (taped down to a foamcore board covered with clear Contac paper).  While it was still wet, I scratched some wavy lines into it with an "Afro pick" comb, then used a bamboo skewer to draw other shapes and doodles, plus a bit of writing.
(Dried) flour-paste resist on white PFD fabric

Words and textures scratched into the surface.

A bit more doodling.

My next step is to remove the tape and scrunch up the fabric to make the dried flour-paste crinkle and crack.  Then mix up the dye solutions and apply.  The dye will only penetrate where the fabric is exposed (through the scratches and cracks).  It's always exciting to see the surprises that result from using resists!

I'll also add some thickener to some dye colors for deconstructed screenprinting.  After the thickened dyes are dribbled down the back of the screen,  textured objects are embedded into it and left to dry.  More on the process (and my results) in the next post.

3.  Find new design inspiration:  I played around with some watercolors last week with the goal of then using two L-shaped cropping corners to find what Katie Pasquini Masopust calls "the heart of the image," an area that can be used as the design basis for an art quilt.  (This is just one of the great ideas I've rediscovered while looking through Katie's book Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter.)

My first page of watercolor play -- not very interesting.
My second effort was more exuberant and probably has some areas of interest.
I choose dyeing!  I'll post my results later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Special Exhibit, 2012 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2012 . . . the largest 
outdoor quilt show in the world.

Photos of our Fiberexplorations' Fabric Swatch Challenge Special Exhibit:

Crowds gather for an up-close look at our quilts.
by Maureen Erhardt
by Joanna Price
by Erika Close
by Lisa Encabo
by Kathleen Nesvik
by Torrie Gordon

by Chris Deibel
Leaf detail:  hand applique, white cotton velvet, threadpainting

by Deb Sorem
Kathleen amazed us all with her beautifully-executed confetti-style landscape.  Can you believe she's only been sewing for a year or two?  In this piece, it's obvious that she has a background in art, but it also gave her more confidence in her sewing skills -- she said she finally "became friends with her BSR" (Bernina Stitch Regulator).  No wonder Kathleen's smiling like a proud parent; she's definitely earned it!
Kathleen and her masterpiece!
[Thanks to Lisa Encabo for the above photos.]

For the first time in its 37-year history, the show had to close "significantly early" (2:30 pm) because of an approaching thunderstorm.  As soon as the call was made, visitors rushed to help the quilt show volunteers with taking down 1,400 quilts.

Thunder in the distance . . . down came our quilts!

10 min. later . . . torrential rain, and no quilts in sight.

The Three Sisters, after the storm.
Rainstorm moving across the high desert.

Lisa took these final 2 photos while driving 
from Sisters to Bend, after the show. 

I'm so proud of our group!  These quilts all originated from the fabric swatches we created and exchanged earlier this year, based on the color palette of the 2012 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show poster by Kathy Deggendorfer.  We each started with the same group of 9" fabric swatches and finished with these unique art quilts.  Where to from here?