Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Photographer's Assistant

My DD came down from Edmonton for the better part of today...and we accomplished a number of things.

  • We delivered The Quilt Top to Sylvia Sawyer, long-arm quilter/proprietress of Windwood Quilts just up the road;
  • DD photographed some of my roses...while I held an umbrella to cast the appropriate shadows;
  • We reviewed her Maritime commission options and will go with 2 fabric minis -- the one that's finished and one other... and 
  • DD photographed three pieces I have in mind to enter into a couple of juried exhibits this fall.  She took the photos; I helped adjust the lighting.  :-)  She'll send me the shots, sized per requirements for the competitions...and I'll take it from there.
One of said pieces is "It's Still About the Sky"...the latest in my Master Class efforts.  In my last post I was awaiting EB's comments re: quilting.  She didn't disappoint; her thoughts were as follows:
Yes quilting skies is a problem, funnily enough that's exactly what I was trying to work out yesterday on the quilt I'm finishing right now.  I have different solutions...sometimes I just go with vertical lines - never horizontal because it seems to compress things.  and never ever those horrible wormy things that people call meandering - ghastly!!!

I do vertical, or diagonal usually...once in a while I'll look at the fabric and follow  the markings on it..and that might be your solution here...that expanding circle is really the focus of the piece...

I like to print out a few photos and draw potential quilting lines on them...and then I'll mark out the lines with a chalk pencil on the fabric to see how it looks too.

It's a great relief to me that someone of EB's stature agrees that "quilting skies is a problem"! :-)

Upon her advice, I added more quilting, following the "natural" markings on the fabric...and was so pleased with the results that I've faced it and am calling it "finished"! (Label to follow!)

Here's a photo I took of it right after facing it:

It's Still About the Sky (C) 2015
27.5" W x 23.5" L
Materials: hand-dyed and commercial cottons,
fusible web, cotton thread.
Machine pieced; fused, rough-edged applique, machine quilted

All in all, it's been a particularly satisfying month...Somehow, I feel that I've crossed a threshold...

And on that note, I'm off to bed...just as soon as I link up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she has a great wee post on 'critiques'.  (To my mind, EB's "crits" definitely fill the bill!)

Have a good one!

P.S. You can check out more of my daughter's beautiful work on her blog.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

'Scuse Me While I Quilt This Sky (With apologies to Jimmie Hendrix)

Well...The Line Painter showed up...and laying down the road lines was easier than expected.

The piece is now quilted and trimmed...and awaits further feed-back before facing is applied.  Why?  Well...I am not fond of quilting skies and I have not fallen prey to the trend to quilt the life out of everything (i.e. to quilt everything densely) I've asked EB for some advice about my sky quilting...and my road quilting.  (The trees and fields? I'm not concerned!)

Here's how it looks right now:

It's Still About the Sky (C) 2015
28" W x 24.5" L (before facing)

Detail of trees, grass, sky...some road...
It turns out the most challenging part of this piece was figuring out if its sides were straight.

I live (as I may have said before) in a small space.  My studio is the largest bedroom in said small space.  I have an 18" x 24" cutting mat on a surface that's not much larger.  Trimming this piece (which started at 30" x 26") to make its sides 'even' was a challenge!  No wonder I work "small"!

On the commission front...the client (my DD) who wants the gift(s) for her friends' tenth anniversary...well...she wasn't so sure about these:

Maritime Trio (C) 2015
Painted whole-cloth, quilted;
mounted on stretched canvas;
each = 6" square
Then again, she hasn't seen them in person...just a photo of the first one (far left)...

So I made an attempt at a 'mini' in my "usual style" and came up with this:

Maritime Memories I (C) 2015
5" x 7 " matted to 8" x 10"
Materials: commercial cottons, batiks, silk hand-dyed with indigo
Techniques: fused applique, machine quilting, thread painting
I dunno if I can come up with a companion piece...we shall see!

Meanwhile...I await feedback on all fronts (my DD will be here Saturday to review!) and...I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network...

Have a lovely evening!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Waiting for the Line Painter

A rainy day today, so one of the things I did was to begin assembling "It's Still About the Sky", in light of EB's recent feedback.

She wrote:

I love the title "It's all about the sky" that you've chosen - fits it very very well...the road leads us right into the sky...
And talking of sky..the  fabric is very nice but I wonder if you have something a bit more dramatic?  something Really Stunning?
Also the yellow center line is very slightly off at the bottom...needs to be a bit more towards the center...(as it is in your sketches).'ve used perspective well to give a great sense of depth...also size...both positive and negative spaced becoming would be good if you could soften the yellow going back into the distance...also the road color...go out on the road and look again!! see what happened to those hues as they recede from'll notice, when you really look, that the colors don't remain the same.  and you can make these adjustments with felt tips, or a little thinned acrylic...or anything like that...
Overall a great sense of distance!!   (emphasis mine) she misread the title...

But...wanting me to make the sky more dramatic?!  You've got to be kidding, right?

I commented thus:

Make the sky more dramatic?! You need to spend some time on the prairies, Elizabeth (grin). Some days here it's completely cloudless. I could do a thunderstorm but that would change the mood altogether so...maybe another day! I will adjust the centre line...and there are two other lines to add that aren't in the blocked piece. I may find it will be best to leave them out but I'm going to have to play with them first. Thanks for the tip about softening the colours of the line and road...I was just concerned about getting it sliced on the right angle to make it recede (grin).

And she agreed that perhaps she did need to travel to the Prairies (presumably Canadian but other prairie will do)...

So I focused today on getting the background together and fusing the fields and trees in place.

The pavement lines?  Those are going to be tougher.  I only showed her the yellow centre lines; there are also white ones down the sides that delineate the shoulders.  Studying the photo, I can see that they don't necessarily fade out or change colour in the distance; rather, they could be said to disappear altogether...whether uphill (as in the photo) or not (as in my piece)...

 As for 'other things'...

My August "Block of the Month" was finished last week, despite all of its darned bias edges...

"Boys' Nonsense"
Now...did I show you July's?

"Wild Geese"
Or June's?

"Union Square"

Or May's?

"Windblown Square"
Now you're all caught up there, too.  :-)

And as for the knitting...

P loved her socks, and they fit perfectly!  (Here they are on my feet.)

Pattern: "Angular Velocity"
by Rich Ensor
And the August ones...are going slowly...

The challenge this month?  "Knit socks in a pattern and/or colour to reflect your favourite holiday."  Now, I'm not the sort of person who does 'seasonal' decorating...and my Christmas decorations are decidedly simple. is a favourite holiday so here are my 'Christmassy' socks... er...sock (only just cast on the second; these likely won't be finished for month-end...)

Pattern: "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"
by "knittymelissa"
Yarn: Schachenmayr Nomotta 4 fatig (4 ply) in red and cream

Linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and retiring with a good order to let the Line Painters come in and finish my roadwork...

All for now!  ;-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

EB, Interrupted...

In my last post, I'd just done my "depth" sketches and sent them off to EB.   She observed that I had a tendency to raise the horizon line from it's original position in my photos.  Hmm... Still, she liked what I did with overlapping, and making things smaller the farther away they were...

I knew I had some work to do, but I had another visitor from out of town -- my friend-from-university-days and former bridesmaid, P -- so with the exception of a bit of working in glue resist on fabric, I did nothing in my studio for almost a week.  Instead, we toured the hamlet, took in the Innisfail Quilt Show at the Heritage Village there, enjoyed delicious food and wine, celebrated my 40th anniversary with another couple at church, visited my sis at her cottage, slept in, read, took naps...and simply enjoyed each other's company.

That left me pushing the deadline for blocking my piece, as well as working on commissions that also have deadlines.

First, I finished the medallion quilt top.  I had to spread it out on my back lawn to get a full photo, as it's 116" W x 98" L:

The backing has arrived and been washed, so all is ready to go.  My daughter, who commissioned it, and I will visit the long-arm quilter later this month to discuss the quilting design and thread selection, and then leave it in her capable hands!

Next, another commission...for a selection of small Maritime pieces, based on photos provided.
I decided to try out a couple of techniques that -- serendipitously! -- were written up in the latest issue of Quilting Arts.

I wanted to make 6" square pieces I could mount on stretched canvas, and I wanted them to look like pen-and-ink-and-watercolour.  The long weekend (Aug. 1-3) when my Calgary friends were playing with me (we did indigo dyeing of silk, cotton and wool batting/roving), I made some samples.

First I tried "A Wholecloth Quilt With Color and Stitch", which had the look I was seeking.  Desiree Habicht gave very good instructions in her article, but it was clear I didn't have the variety of water-colour and InkTense (R) pencils on which to draw, because I couldn't get the colours blended the way I wanted:

I liked the look of the black stitched outlines...but it was tough to work on the quilted fabric, and the depth of colour just isn't there.  Pretty, but a bit stiff.

So...I tried "Drawing With Glue", using Elmer's blue School Glue Gel and SetaColor paints. Again, another great set of instructions, this time from Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum. 

The first time I made the sample, the paint was too dilute, but I loved the clear colours.  I also discovered that I should drawn in lines to define the clouds and trees, rather than trying to 'wing it'...

The second sample worked so well that it's turned into the first finished piece of the triptych.  I combined the glue gel resist technique with the black outline stitching and just love the whimsical. colourful interpretation of this Maritime Canada city (sorry, no further details lest the intended recipients read this blog!)

Here's the piece finished, faced and affixed to the stretched canvas:

The other two pieces have been painted, and will be finished after they're washed -- yes, in the regular laundry!

Triptcyh Piece #2, with source photo

Triptych Piece #3, with source photo
As an aside, while we were dyeing with indigo (the natural type, from MAIWA in Vancouver), my friend Sha suggested I try a glue resist design quickly dipped in the indigo vat.  I did a free-hand drawing of cone flowers, imitating one of the examples provided in Ms. Weichselbaum's article.  The results were a delightful surprise, and I'm going to do it up as a small stand-alone piece.  Here it is drying on the line:

And now back to our regularly-scheduled program...

The Master Class assignment for August!  Based on EB's comments about my rising horizons, I decided to do another set of sketches, focusing on only one of the landscapes I'd submitted originally.  My choice: "Driving East On Hwy 12"

Much better, but how to do this in fabric?!  Perhaps if I made it more 'geometric'?

Re: the vertical lines: I toyed with the idea of another triptych...but in the end, I blocked it out as one large piece.  There are some details to add (more highway lines) but for now...

When I finished, I realized that for me,
"It's Still About the Sky"
Materials: snow-dyed fabric, commercial cottons & batiks
Size: 30" W x 26" L (unfinished)
And I hafta confess... I love it!

Linking this to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...and waiting for EB's feedback...

All for now!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

A Bit Out of My Depth

The August theme for the EB Master Class is..."Depth" (as in perspective).  We are to try to incorporate into a single piece, as many of the ways of evoking depth* as we can, and then (if we are brave enough!) we are to try to "flatten" the depth in a second piece, in the manner of David Hockney.

All the midst of two sets of out-of-town visitors.  The first set (July 31-Aug. 3) and I played with dye and paint over this past long weekend.  Indigo dye, to be specific, on cotton and silk, and then, to exhaust the dye baths, wool roving and batting.  Stay tuned for a separate post about that; for now, suffice to say, it was delicious!

Back to EB.  I live in an area of wonderful landscape, so over the weekend and the past day or two, I've taken some fresh photos.  I then tried to sketch them, with very mixed results.

For example, here's a line of bird houses along a fence at the Ellis Bird Farm (a sanctuary, really), which my friends and I visited on Monday:

And my abysmal attempt at sketching this out...which I abandoned early on:

Then there's this great rail fence along the lane from the farm to the parking area:

And my sorry attempt to deal with the fence posts:

I just can't seem to get the angle right.  If I were to re-create this, I'd have to take a tracing from the photo, which is not quite kosher.  Sigh...

I managed a bit better with the wooded pathway at the Farm, which frames the view in the distance:

And the sketch:

If I do that one, I'll have to do my best impression of leaves...

I am very fond of roads going off in the distance, too.  Here's a view taken driving East along Highway 12 on the way home Monday afternoon:

And my rough sketch:

Then there's the avenue a block or so north of me (most of our streets and avenues here in Mirror are gravel, or partly so):

And my sketch:

I sent the sketches of woods and both roads to EB for her assessment, feeling that I didn't have a good enough handle on the fences/birdhouse ones.

I also sent her a link to one of my daughter's recent posts -- featuring a wonderful indoor scene with great depth (she's a talented photographer).  You can check that out HERE; I'm sure you'll agree!  :-)

And so to bed...

Before I go, I'm linking this up to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network, in the hopes that I'll find a few minutes to catch up with the goings-on over there.  My next guest arrives Friday.

Thanks for reading...and stay tuned!

*Ways to evoke depth:

  • Overlapping;
  • Size and relationships;
  • Fading colour and texture (aerial perspective);
  • Height on the picture plane;
  • Roads or paths that go off in the distance;
  • Foreground interest;
  • Framing the view; and
  • Using lines that lead the eye from the foreground back into the scene.

Family History

My father worked in education.  He taught my mother in the ninth grade, and married her a decade later.  He also served as a school principal and near the end of his life, while in provincial politics, worked on teacher's pensions and establishing schools where there weren't any.

His sister worked in education.  She began as a teacher in a one-room school in rural Eastern Ontario...and retired at 65 from years as a K-Grade 1 teacher on the West Island of Montreal.

My cousin, worked in education, and retired a science and math teacher.  His middle daughter has taken over his job.

I work in education.  I teach the general public and the quilting populace about art quilts and art quilting...and years ago, I used to teach people how to manage their cash flow and prepare for retirement.

My daughter works in education.  She coaches educators in their work with children who have serious developmental delays and challenges.  In her free time, she practices the art of photography.  Is it any surprise that she was attracted to THIS?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday a Manner of Speaking...

It's been a good week.

On the 29th of each month (or as close as I can get) I update Mark on the Body, my project honouring those who live with and/or care for those living with Type 1 Diabetes.  The past few weeks have been taken up with Part II of this project, which is participatory.  I've asked interested stitchers to stitch on a small quilt sandwich (which I provide) and return it to me to be incorporated into a 'body' of work that expresses "Mark on the Body: Making My Mark".  I have been touched and honoured by those couple dozen who have participated so far -- some of whom have had no experience of T1D in their families or with friends. (If you are interested in participating, please e-mail me).  This week I received 3 finished contributions in time for posting...and today another arrived...

I also got two pieces quilted to send to EB in time for her month-end evaluation in the Master Class...on "Rhythm".  I knew she liked the rectangular approach, but the 'wavy lines' approach spoke to me too.  Both are quilted but...not faced or not quite finished (but that's okay).

First, the 'rectangular' approach.  I posted about this one earlier when I blocked it out.

Rhythm in Blues I - approx. 16" square (unbound)

Here was her feedback on this one:
This came out very well...I might have had one or two red notes for sforzando!!!  Sudden loud notes!!
and maybe made the black strips even skinnier...but I do like the way the blue notes glide through..different sized but fairly evenly paced...a very nice calm representation of syncopation.
And the quilting pattern definitely adds to it...that's a very good choice, perfectly supports and adds to the original idea.  Plus the squareness of it goes with the squareness of the notes.

Now the "wavy lines" approach.  I used hand-dyed muslin, and sections stamped with a self-made stamp using string on cardboard, and acrylic paint mixed with textile medium:

Rhythm in Blues II - approx. 45" w x 12.5" L (unbound)
And a detail shot:

And here was her feedback...
I like the idea of  the one above....I've enlarged the detail so that we can see the string print....I really think it would be worth pursuing further...the string makes a very delicate line...
I feel though it would be stronger if it were bolder, more varied and bigger. (NOTE: I responded with the measurements; she hadn't realized the size of this one.)

Imagine many more horizontal slices with just small background spaces and the string motif jazzing about all over  them.  Don't think you need the "hangers on"...they really don't make a telling point.  (NOTE: I like the "hangers on" as I intended them to add to the 'syncopation' of the piece.)
so I would say: great idea, but put it to one side - as a sample - and develop it much further when you have time.

 So...we shall see what transpires.  I am setting both aside for a while, because tomorrow there will be a new Master Class Theme...and Other Things are going on.

On the knitting front, I've almost finished a baby sweater (buttons to add; then a wash; then a photo!) for the latest grandchild of a cousin of mine "down east" in Quebec...

And I finished the July Socks from Stash:

Pattern: "Hummingbird" by Sandi Rosner
from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Socks
Yarn: Celestial Merino in "Fiesta" colour-way
from Lucy Neatby (discontinued)

Next month's challenge?  Knit in a colour/pattern that reflects your favourite holiday.  This is a toughie because I'm not a big "seasonal" decorator/celebrator.  Even my Christmas celebrations are low-key and worship and family focused.  But...I decided to go with Christmas and a red-and-white pattern called "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"  from "knittymelissa"...

Whoa!  Let's hope mine turn out as well, eh?

Now about those Other Things...

In addition to the two new-month-challenges (EB and Socks from Stash)...I have two friends visiting this weekend, and another the following weekend...through Aug. 12.  Sha and Mary are friends from Anna Hergert's classes in Calgary a decade or more ago...and almost every summer since I moved out here, we've had a long weekend being messy artists in my back yard.  Paint, dye, paper and fabric arts...whatever...we will play this weekend and leave with more inspiration and ideas than we know what to do with! I mowed the lawns (front and back), made a dozen rhubarb muffins (fresh rhubarb); prepped pastry for Bumbleberry Pie (rhubarb, Saskatoons and apples); made a couscous salad and set lamb cubes to marinate for kebabs for dinner tonight; did 2 loads of laundry (including washing fabric for indigo dye vats this weekend); prepared two guest beds...

And now posted this!

It's time to go to the Outdoor Studio with a cold beverage and some stitching (there's a binding going on the hand-quilted throw...)...and time to link to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" guests are due within the hour...

Have a good one, eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Tree-wrap Experiment

When I first wrapped "my" trees, it had been hot, hot, hot and dry, dry, dry for weeks.  But...a week later: deluge!  We had a full day of almost torrential rain and high wind.

Next day I went out to check.  Did my ties hold?  What did they look like now?

Post-deluge, July 18-2015

The good news: they were (and are) all still in place!  And...some of them have begun to pick up stains from the underlying bark:

Interestingly, the sheet remnant didn't show anything then...

Neither did a strip of synthetic sheer fabric...

But as of yesterday, the morning after the hail storm the night before...

Hail stone - July 21, 2015
I checked again.  All four trees are still wrapped firmly, and now all of the wraps are being impacted by the elements.

Stay tuned...!  (Linking now to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network...and going off to work at The Shop.  Lacombe Days sales begin today!)