Saturday, March 17, 2018

Making Progress

This week I've been making more fabric -- in the form of bed quilt tops.  Well...isn't that what we do when we cut up existing fabric, or piece scraps together?  Aren't we creating a new fabric?  😊

As an art quilter, I don't often make bed quilts, but the last year or two (or three!) I've had reason to make everything from comfort (lap) quilts to crib quilts to twin- and king-sized ones.  The latest crop of tops are twin-sized, and came about thus:

First, my daughter commissioned me to make one for the twin bed in her Air B&B single guest room, as the summer coverlet she had on it is wearing out.  (She has a double-bed room too, but its bedding is fine for now!)

Last summer we had a buying trip and got most of the fabric -- but as I was winging it on the calculations...well...let's just say I began it in earnest at the end of January and got only 1/2 the blocks needed out of the fabric on hand.  Blessedly, by my last post I was able to report that between us we found either exact matches or colour-ways that worked in beautifully, and that top is now ready to be quilted.

It was a not-so-easy Rail Fence.  Four rails (rather than the usual three) and "as random as possible, please, Mom."  (Hold that thought; I'm coming back to it in a moment.)

Nonetheless, I think it turned out well and hope she'll like it:

I call it "Random Rails" or "Fractured Fences" -- depending on my mood! 😉 With borders, it will measure 70" W x 94" long when bound.  It looks enormous on my own twin bed, in large part because I don't have the a deep box spring under my mattress, whereas she does.  Last weekend I procured a rich double-chocolate wide backing for it (now washed).  Yummy!

Second, my own beloved bed quilts are wearing.  Most of these were made by my quilty Aunt Alice, my father's sister, who died in 2002 at the age of 94, so you can imagine how old they are! 

I'm making four tops (which I also mentioned in my last post).  The first one to be finished was my "(Not So) Grand Illusion", a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt from 2014 (!) which I finished in November in order to justify starting her 2017 Mystery, "On Ringo Lake" (ORL).   Lest you missed that post, here's a photo:

I just love this one, and this week I found the perfect wide backing for it!

The second one is the "Rectangle Quilt" (what an original name!) that I showed you -- under construction -- in my last post.  That top, too, is now finished!

A Quilt Without Borders, it will finish at a healthy 67" W x 78" long (or so) when bound.  And yes, I've found just the right wide backing for it too.  😊

Now, remember that thought I asked you to hold?  The fact that the Random Rails/Fractured Fences was ''not so easy"?  This is where I get back to this subject, and focus on the word "random".  As defined by the Oxford Living Dictionaries, 'random' means "Made, done, or happening without method or conscious decision" or, when it comes to statistics, "Governed by or involving equal chances for each item".

Well.  It might be a simple concept...but it's not easy!

Both the rectangle and the rails/fences quilt required a) combinations of light, medium and/or dark fabrics to create contrast and movement; b) specific placement of said combinations -- that is, so many blocks across and so many rows down; and c) an arrangement that in order to be pleasing, was...well...random.  And random arrangements of anything (I'm guessing) require a intentionality!  

I found a method that worked first with the Rectangle Quilt and then with Rails/Fences --first, lay the blocks out on my "horizontal design wall" (my bed or my guest bed, whichever showed them off best); next, get the first two rows to work well, and sew the first row in pairs of blocks; then...move 'em around, interject different pairs, do whatever is needed to make everything play nicely together.  

Repeat till the entire arrangement is appealing, and still "random" in nature.  In all of my  attempts at designing "traditional" quilts, I've determined that they are at least as challenging (if not more so) as designing an art quilt.  The methods may be different, but the brain strain is on a par!

Of the four tops I've planned, only these three are finished.  The fourth requires it's worthy only of a mention here.  It will appear in a later post!

As for designing...

I've picked up "Storm Brewing" from the framer...I love it!

Storm Brewing Over the Lowlands
Fabric and water colour on stretched canvas
12" W x 12" L

The Call for Entry to the Annual Camrose Art Walk is now open, and my colleague Mary and I will be submitting our applications shortly for our Scotland-inspired collaborative exhibit.  Each of us is aiming for eight or nine pieces.  So far, I have five (including "Storm Brewing..."), but one is a tiny canvas and unless I make more that size, won't be included.

And as I now know that I will once again have a booth at the 19th Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale, I am busy with pieces for that.  The "Crumbpilations" pieces are all in for framing, one mini is in the planning stages, and I finished this one this morning:

Fog Warning! (C) 2018
Commercial cotton fabrics, wool roving, tulle;
thread painting, machine quilting, fused applique.
5" x 7", matted to 8" x 10"

It's a statement about driving to work -- about 8:15 a.m. -- in the Mists of March in these parts.  The other day the fog was so dense that while I knew there was a tanker truck in front of me, I often couldn't see it at all, and was praying he wouldn't have to brake unexpectedly!

Here's a close-up:

Thanks to Elizabeth Barton's Master Class, which I attended throughout 2015, I learned a bit about getting that perspective in place.  In a 'mini' it's tough because everything is smaller and fore-shortened, but there you have it!

Well, Gentle Readers, that's all the news that's fit to print for this go 'round.  I'm going to link this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and bid you adieu. 

This week she published a quote about the Art of Science and the Science of Art...and looking at my projects, I can certainly ascertain a link between the two!

Happy St. Patrick's Day for all the Irish -- and all the I-Wannabee-Irish!  Happy International Quilting Day for all of you who quilt!  

Happy rest-of the-weekend to everyone else!  😉

Monday, March 05, 2018

Making Fabric

Maybe it was all the snow we got this past weekend.  Maybe it was just a longing for Spring.  Maybe it was a longing for colour.

Maybe it was all three.

Whatever the reason, I found myself in lock-step with a quilty associate of mine, another Albertan -- artist, traditional quilter, long-armer and blogger, Cathy Tomm.  

Both of us, it seems, have been working on string blocks in swaths of monochromatic colours -- she, green and purple, and I, blue, purple and red (with green to follow).

I'm working on a new piece, large for me, which (if it turns out as envisioned) I'll enter into SAQA's "Season After Season" juried exhibit.  I may have alluded to this project in a past post (or two), but now it is on one of the front "burners" in my sewdio.  It has to include an Artist's Journal, so I am trying to keep that up at the same time.  This is not my habit, so it's been a bit of a challenge to make the effort to translate what's in my head onto a journal page!

Blessedly, as I am now really working out the process, I've begun taking photos.

Sorting colours

I determined that as far as possible, for this project, I'd use up stash.  They were all a-jumble in a basket or two or three 😉 so I had to sort them out to get the colours I wanted.

That done, I thought I'd do it with random piecing, but I discovered that most of said scraps are in strips, so I decided to string piece them.

I began with the blues.

And moved to blue-purple, and then purple...

Added some red-purples.

The blocks are rectangles that will finish at 6" x 8" -- or 8" x 6", depending on how they're laid out.  In the photo immediate above, I laid them out on the guest bed to get a feel for how big the piece will be.  Depending on the layout, they'll be 5 blocks x 6" by 9 blocks x 8" OR 4 blocks x 8" by 12 blocks x 6".  

I don't know yet.  Time to get back to that journal and draft out a couple of alternatives, complete with colours.

Meanwhile, there's other fabric-making going on.  I'm exploring some different techniques, inspired by the inimitable Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, for small pieces that will be heavily hand-stitched and put in shadow boxes or on mat board or canvases, for the Lacombe Art Show & Sale (no news yet on my application but I'm hoping for later this week!)

Inspirational photo

Materials for "Flora"

On the bottom right of the second photo you'll see some of my recent snow-dyed efforts -- cheesecloth and/or scrim, which features in the stitched material.

Fabric scraps, sandwiched between Sticky
Solvy layers, backed by a synthetic evenweave
and free-motion stitched

Solvy washed out, fabric backing trimmed -
ready for next steps

And so the fun continues!

Getting back to my more usual way of working, I've finished a second 'mini' in the series based on photos taken a local ranch...

View Over the Valley I - (C) 2018

View Over the Valley - Detail

And yes, that's a slice of needle-felting you see creating the forest on the horizon.  😊

There is clearly more to be done.  The blocks for the "rectangle quilt" -- taken from a pattern in a recent issue of Simply Moderne -- are finished and need to be sewn together.  I've managed to lay out several rows "in a way that pleases me", and have to get them together so I'll have room to lay out and assemble the rest, and then...the entire top!

On the guest bed -- view from the door!

On the guest bed - view from the 'side'.
Pay no attention to the quilt underneath!  ;-)

Not to mention...that I'm still plugging away at the units for Clue #6 of Bonnie Hunter's On Ringo Lake mystery.

And the rest of the fabric needed for my daughter's "Random Rails" quilt top has been delivered -- so must get those washed and cut and assembled into blocks to finish that top.

My long-armer doesn't know it yet, but I hope to have four tops (the Rectangle, the Rails, the Ringo Lake and the now-finished "Not So Grand Illusion") delivered to her for quilting by month-end!

On ward and upward but first I'll belatedly link this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's talking about the legacy of an artist who's filled our lives with colour and whimsy -- if we've been fortunate to see her work...and may of us have (including me!) without knowing it.

Now...must get out and shovel that last bit of back sidewalk so I can put out the compost and the garbage!

Stay cozy; surround yourself with colour and whimsy; Spring's coming to these parts soon!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Creative Chaos

For a few days this past week, my studio looked rather like those February winds I mentioned in an earlier post had come right in and blown everything about.

I was working on my latest piece for the Scotland Series...testing out felting ideas, sampling stitching on water-soluble stabilizer, auditioning colours for wee buildings.  Creative chaos indeed!

The piece is now finished, and awaits its floater frame, but you can have a look at it beforehand:

Impressions of Portree (Isle of Skye)
12" x 12", mixed media on stretched canvas:
acrylic paint, coloured pens, needle-felting, quilting

And a bit of a detail shot...

I also added to "Abbey Echoes I" by mounting it on a painted stretched canvas -- an idea learned in the "Picture it Framed" class with Lyric Kinard.  I tried to echo the arches in the white-on-black painting.

Abbey Echoes I
12" x 12" mounted on
painted stretched canvas
Finished size: 16" x 20"

I think this now makes it a better companion piece with "Abbey Echoes II", which finished at the same size.

Abbey Echoes II

In between the Scotland-inspired work, I've made a mini -- the first this year and the first of a series based on photos taken last July at a ranch about 3/4 hour's drive southwest of here.  There is an old home on the property that was replaced by the current ranch house some years ago, and simply left there...

It saddened and fascinated me -- particularly the door hidden behind the overgrown bushes...

And so I was inspired to start with this little piece:

Overgrown - (C) 2018
5" x 7" matted to 8" x 10"
There will be more to come in this series, as I am hoping to need "non-Scotland" pieces for the Lacombe Art Show and Sale in April (news about my application is due in a couple of weeks; I'll keep you posted!)

I also have some photos I want to recreate in textiles and stitch that are close-ups of various flora and fauna.  Those may take quite some time, so we'll see how that works out.

Meanwhile, I knit two hats for a client; continued piecing units for Bonnie Hunter's "On Ringo Lake" mystery (I'm now on Clue 6!); made progress on a very colourful bed quilt (for my home) that now needs fabric for borders and backing; and started yet another bed quilt from stash fabrics, based on a pattern from   "Simply Moderne", one of the magazines I gave away recently to celebrate my blog anniversary.  

Oh, and I did a bit of serendipitous snow dyeing with all that white stuff in my back yard...

Snow-dyed cheesecloth, scrim

Assorted cotton, poly-cotton and muslin

Batting scraps!

I really don't know what I'll do with them -- or even if I like them very much -- but it was a bit of fun.  Now my stock of dye powder is pretty low, so nothing will happen till I replenish it!

And so it goes...

Perhaps this gives you, my Gentle Readers, the impression that when it comes to my art work, I'm all over the map -- that I don't have a distinct style or 'voice' -- but I would disagree.  

I think it's possible to experiment with techniques -- from applique to piecing to mono-printing, to dyeing, to colouring with pens; from quilting sandwiches to mounts on stretched canvas to work directly applied to that canvas; from semi-representational to more impressionistic to down-right abstract -- and still have a distinct way of expressing oneself artistically.

Those of you who've followed my blog or see my work in my Facebook posts (3F Creations) will know that I have a penchant for landscapes that are more impressions than realistic, a fondness for colour, and a "side bar" of work that is more abstract or unreal, and may venture into making a statement from time to time.  And I see all of that as part of my unique artistic voice.

I'll leave you with those thoughts...and the link-up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, where she brings up that very topic: finding one's voice.  I'm curious to know about do give it some thought, and pause for a comment if you're willing to share.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Give-away Winners!

Thank you to the Gentle Readers who took some time to comment on my 15th anniversary as a blogger...and to tell me a bit about their own journeys since 2003.  It's gratifying to someone who types words into cyber-space regularly, never knowing where they'll land, or who's "out there" reading, to get to know some of you a wee bit better.

Without further ado, here are the three who've won the magazines on offer, according to the random number generator I used late last night!

Watch for an e-mail from you can advise me of your correct mailing addresses and I can get these packets of inspiration off to you! the Sewdio...

We had a(nother) snow storm yesterday -- complete with "Blowing Snow Warning" (!) so I spent most of the day sewing strips of fabric together.  I'm working hard on stash-busting while I plan my next art piece...and will post further process-with-photos very soon.

Have a great rest of the week, and stay cozy!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Fifteen Thirteen

On February 8, 2013, I wrote my one thousandth blog post -- and celebrated ten years of blogging. An average of 100 posts a year.

I seem to have kept that up, as this is Post #1,513 -- and tomorrow marks, yes, fifteen years of writing this weblog.

I was a few months past my fiftieth birthday, with an ailing husband who was trying to get around on two artificial limbs.  Our son was about to graduate from high school, and our daughter was just a year out of university.  My mother, unbeknownst to us just yet, was in the last year of her life, as was my godmother...and my husband and mother-in-law would follow a few years later.

Blogging was in its infancy but Facebook didn't exist (launched in February 2004), nor did Flickr (March 2005), Twitter (March 2006) or Instagram (October 2010).

Ravelry was just a twinkle in the eyes of founders Casey and Jessica Forbes (till May 2007).  Back then, the inimitable Clara Parkes lead the way for yarn-crafters with Knitter's Review, with a pioneering online forum founded in 2000.  I was a member for a long time, and still enjoy KR in its newer iteration as a resource for all things woolly, including books -- all of which I own and have read!

I began the blog to share my knitting, and my original url was taken from "The Lady Who Knits on the Bus" -- a nick-name I'd earned by knitting on public transit to and from work each day.   The blog itself was then entitled "No Idle Hands"...after a book about knitting's history in the U.S. -- a thick tome which, I confess, I never got 'round to reading!

 I was very much a fledgling on the art quilt front, taking classes with the talented Anna Hergert, who lived in Calgary then, as did I, and taught at a quilt shop in Cochrane, Alberta.  And as you know, I'm still knitting...

But by 2006, several of us who'd studied with her for about three years formed small textile art group, which lasted until 2008 when distance and other demands of life conspired to scatter our members.

I'm still in touch with two members, though -- the gals I spend a long weekend 'playing' with almost every summer.  We continue to explore our crafts and have a great deal of fun at it.

Which brings me to...a way to celebrate this 15th Blog Anniversary -- my first give-away in years!

One of the aforementioned play-mates passed on to me a beautiful embroidery magazine from Australia.  Another stitching and quilting friend gave me two magazines -- one from Quilt Mania in Europe, and one from UPPERCASE here in Calgary, Alberta.

All are glorious sources of inspiration, and all are gently used...but ready to find new homes, to inspire yet another maker.

Love hand-stitch?

Inspirations Issue 93:"Birds of a Feather"

Love quilting -- especially the modern approach?

Simply Moderne Issue 11

Love making visual art with paper? Pen and ink?  Scripts and texts? Fabric and stitch? 

UPPERCASE - current issue (#35)

A week from today is Valentine's Day -- and the day I will do a random draw from all those who post a comment to this blog post.  Please Note: a comment or a "Like" on the Facebook link to this post won't do.  You have to visit the blog to make it count!  😊  (And the comments are moderated...just so ya know! No spam!)

What to say in your comment?  How about you tell me what you were up to in February 2003...or how long you've been blogging (if you do) and why you still believe in this form of social media...or a bit about your journey to your creative spirit, what inspires you.  How have you changed and grown in the last 15 years?

The Details:

  1. The draw will be made by a random number generator by 10 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Wednesday, Feb. 14.  The first person to post a comment will be number 1; the second, number 2 and so on.  
  2. You need to have an e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.  I have some Gentle Readers whose comments come to me as "no-reply", but I have their address in my e-mail records.  If I don't have that and can't find you...the names will go back in and I'll try again.
I'll be linking this today to WIP Wednesday over on The Needle and Thread Network...and again on the weekend to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday...

Have a great week, and I'll be in touch!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

"February Puff and Blow..."

"...fill the ditches full of snow!"

That was another of my mother's favourite collection of expressions (or cliches) -- and Mother Nature certainly took February up on that here the last few days!

Ah...but I have a cozy wee house with a well-functioning furnace, and a studio full of fabric, fibre and floss, so...with no need to travel, what's not to like?

And even better, those February winds have blown away any angst I was feeling when I wrote my last post.  

With February's impending arrival, last Monday I hit the ground running and I'm only pausing to write this and share before I go back to it.

First, I prepared and mailed photos to that client for that potential commission.  Then I prepared and packaged my application for the Lacombe Art Show and Sale -- the full meal deal because there appears to be no 'Gallery' option this year, and I didn't want to skip it altogether.  This I delivered to City Hall on Thursday.

Wednesday I worked on a bit of the never-ending scarf for my charity knitting, but then headed to the sewdio to pick up the crumbs.


Remember the 'crumb quilt' I started on before my last post?  This one:


I decided that looked too much like work (I was going to need at least 24 blocks to make it any size)...but I loved the idea of intersecting blocks with that bright turquoise, and figured I might just make some solo pieces with it.

By yesterday I'd finished four, each of which has yet to be quilted, but which should finish at 12" square. I think they make wild, colourful art pieces that would brighten up a room singly or in pairs or whatever.

I call them "crumbpilations" (because they're compilations of crumbs of fabric)...

(L) Intersection and (R) Take the Back Roads
(C) 2018
(L) You Can't Get There from Here 
and (R) Never the Twain Shall Meet
(C) 2018

(Click on the photos to enlarge.)

Also on Wednesday I trotted "Storm Brewing" and "December Dusk" to the framer's because...well, because I had to go to Stettler anyway.  Stettler's the home of the only nearby Wal-Mart, and while I don't shop WM much, it's a good place to go for housewares at reasonable cost when you need 'em in a hurry.

Which I did, because in the middle of working on another 'Inspired by Scotland' piece, my steam iron died.  It was a Sunbeam, my third in about 45 years...and it didn't owe me anything, but I was sad, because I really liked it.  Alas, in the midst of fusing some fabric, it made a very funny noise, let off a burning smell, and quit.  Period.

Blessedly, I found another Sunbeam and back to the finish first this:

Abbey Echoes I - (C) 2018
12" x 12" unframed
Printed on cotton and on layers of organza;
machine quilted, bound.

And then, yesterday, this:

Abbey Echoes II - (C) 2018
16" x 20" unframed
Printed on cotton and organza,
laid over purchased hand-dyed fabric,
wrapped around stretched canvas.

I'm considering auditioning the first on stretched canvas too, but that will wait till I've finished stitching down the binding.  The second will go into a floater frame if the cost won't make it hard to sell. (Ah, the things one must consider when showing in a small-city/town market!)

Both of these were inspired by photos I took at the Abbey in Melrose, Scotland last fall.  I turned these...

Into grey-scale and then into contour drawings,

...which I used to get the general outlines for the 'echoes'.

Finally, I finished off yesterday with the first of the February blocks -- again in triplicate -- of The Quilt Show's 2018 Block of the Month, designed by Edyta Sitar, which (so far) I'm making up in oddments of black, white and red -- part of my continuing effort to reduce my stash.  I just love the look of this colour combo!

And look!  Nothing sewn in backwards!  😉

Today...we're under an "Extreme Cold Warning" this morning -- with wind-chills as low as -40 C (or -40 F; they're equivalent at this point!), so I'm playing hookey from church (I've not shovelled yet!) and will be cutting strips for that Four-rail Fence I've been commissioned to make.

Linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall rejoice with her that she too has broken through the January doldrums and is back at work in her studio again!

Happy Super-bowl Sunday for those who watch...

Onward and Upward!