Friday, August 10, 2018

The Fix is IN

Many thanks to Gentle Reader Kate, who just shared with me the 'fix' for my apparently non-functioning Blogger comments notifications.  If others of you are Blogger users and have -- like me -- just discovered that you've not heard from your readers for awhile, take heart.  It's not you; it's not your readers -- it was a Blogger problem, and apparently precious few people were notified about it!

Here's the "fix" she shared with me, courtesy of another blogger who uses Blogger.

Now I hope it perhaps one of you can post a "test" comment and we can see!  😊

Blessings to y'all for your patience...and Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 09, 2018

A Revelation -- and Apologies!!!


First off, a BIG THANK YOU to Gentle Reader Carolynn, who alerted me to A BIG PROBLEM!!

Some time back now, Blogger cut out using "Networked Blogs", which used to link this blog to my Facebook page.

Since then, I've kinda sorta noticed a drop off in reader comments...but I've been busy with shows etc. and didn't think much of it.  I figured people were turning to Instagram (to which I don't belong) and other social media and were ignoring me.


Ms. Carolynn just wrote me, wondering why she had trouble commenting on this blog.

SO...I decided to do some research.  I usually get an e-mail telling me if there is a comment, and there have been NONE for a couple of months.  SO I looked under comments "Awaiting Moderation"...and there's a PILE -- a Veritable Mountain! -- of them!!!


SO while in true Canadian fashion, I want to apologize -- and I DO -- I must admit I had NO IDEA this was going on.  I just thought I'd lost favour.

SO...I will be spending some time this weekend moderating those hitherto invisible comments..and responding. 

Again, with my sincerest apologies!!  I appreciate all who read my blog and am SO sorry that somehow technology cut us off mid-stream.

Blessings to all...and I'll be in touch.  I promise!!!

I am very grateful you are still OUT THERE, and I am HERE too...and we will reconnect.

Ain't technology wonderful??

Friday, August 03, 2018

Artist's Date

It's "August Long" in most of Canada.  This morning I'm off to visit friends on a small acreage south of Calgary.  We'll talk, laugh, stitch, weave, knit, sketch, play with paint and dye, look at art, nap, eat fresh foods and enjoy each other.

But before I leave, I want to share this gift, shared with me and so many others on Facebook by the wonderful Parker Palmer.  He always seems to know when the world needs a bit of Mary Oliver...

Sunday, July 29, 2018

"All About Them Books"

My colleague, Mary, and I delivered our pieces to the Camrose Art Walk on July 16 -- the second half, in which we're showing, opened Tuesday (July 24) -- so since then I've been doing a variety of things, not the least of which is a throw-sized "Bookshelf Quilt".

"How did you come to do that?!" you may well ask.

It's like this...

A childhood friend of mine -- we reconnected via Facebook a few years back now -- saw one (probably this one) online and asked (she, doing nothing of this sort of stuff, though I swear we took Home Ec. together!) if I would make one for her.  Not too big -- just throw-sized.  That's about 51" x 64" -- give or take an inch or two.

Well...she's a kinda special gal, so I agreed to make it but cautioned I'd track my time and would charge her for that and for the materials.  I knew I could use my scraps for the books, but there would be new fabric needed for background, sashing (the "shelves) and backing. as well as batting for the quilt sandwich (I don't worry about thread in terms of costs).  And I used the pattern from the link above, designed by a gal named Victoria, who is part of the "Fabric at Work" trio, and who offered it free online.  Thanks Victoria!  😊

Turns out that the blocks I've developed (this is a fairly loosey-goosey pattern) are 9" wide (unfinished) but with sashing, five blocks across, 4 sashes and 2 sides-of-the-shelf should make it.  Ditto for six blocks (9.25" tall, unfinished) down, with a top and bottom (3.5" and 4.5" unfinished, respectively).  

I'm planning to keep my friend's costs down by quilting it myself -- 'as you go'.  That is, I'll quilt one row at a time, and join it to the others with the sashing method that works so beautifully.  I did this with the Wedding Quilt: 'Dreaming of Japan' that I made my son and his wife two years ago...

This is how the back would look with sashing
to join one section at at time.  :-)

I've now (as of this writing) finished 25 of 30 blocks.  All of the "novelty" blocks -- ones with knickknacks or stacked or leaning books -- have been finished, so what's left are "plain books".

Last evening I realized that I've only enough 'book' fabric cut for another 2 or 3 blocks, so will have to cut more for the last few.  Blessedly, I have enough scrap fabric (go figure! 😉) with which to do that! LOL!

So...that's today's project in the forecast heat (28 C +/- with the humidity -- yes, even on the prairies): make the last few blocks and start to cut the "shelves" (top, bottom and sashing).

Here are some progress photos so far:

I began by cutting the book fabrics -- 1.5" to 2.5" wide and 8" to 10" long -- and attaching them to a large swath of black background fabric.  (The background has tiny text on it in grey that I think is really cool!)

Book "slices" stitched to black background fabric.

Then I sliced off each piece and divided them as to size:

Next I began by creating the blocks and putting them on my design wall:

First 4 blocks...
beneath a photograph by Gordon Hiebert
bought at the Lacombe Art Show in 2017.

Design wall full!!

Once I filled the design wall with blocks, it was time to move them to the "design bed" in the guest room!

On the 'design bed'

I am trying to lay it out so that there's not a concentration of either the 'novelty' blocks or the 'regular' blocks in one place.  Rather, I want to have the former distributed relatively evenly throughout the quilt.

Here's a close-up of a couple of them -- a 3-D photo frame in which my friend will be able to put any photo she wants, and switch it out any time, or remove it for washing; and a vase of Brown-eyed Susans, which she said are a favourite flower:

Blocks with photo frame,
vase of flowers

I'm hoping to have the arrangement of the blocks finalized and the sashing at least underway before I go back to work on Thursday. to the studio!  But not before I link this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.   

This week she's been at her Annual Quilting by the Lake art retreat, which I find so a propos, because on Friday coming up, I'll be leaving to spend the "August Long" weekend out of town at the home of friends.  It's our Almost Annual Art Play Weekend, and I'll be taking dye stuffs made at Olds Fibre Week, and organic cottons bought at MAIWA, and...a sketchbook and paints and perhaps some small canvases that need skies...and...and...

And so till next time, Gentle Readers, I hope you all will have similar lovely opportunities to take time to play with your art!

While I "hit the books", here's a little musical inspiration...

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Now I've Gone and Done It!

Fueled by recent successes -- a new contract with a new gallery, acceptance into a SAQA International Exhibition -- this morning (after a few weeks' thought and several days' work) I threw caution to the wind and put in a proposal for my very first solo show: Under the Wide Sky: Views from a Central Alberta Hamlet.

The call I answered was placed by the Leighton Art Centre, a beautiful venue that used to be the home of A.C. and Barbara Leighton.  A.C. was an artist and art instructor; he was the founder and first president of the Alberta Society of Artists (of which I am in my second year as an Associate Member).  He was also instrumental in founding the Banff School of Fine Art.  They built their home near Millarville, AB in 1952, and this is where the current Art Centre, Museum and Education Centre are located.

The galleries focus on Alberta artists -- in particular those whose work reflects and expresses the Alberta landscape.

I am grateful that the site has a very useful set of guidelines for solo exhibition, to which I paid close attention.

In my Project Proposal, I wrote:
Under the Wide Sky – Project Proposal
When I moved to Alberta in 1976 – yet another transplant from the East – I was fascinated by the Rockies.  My children would groan when, on a regular drive west along John Laurie Boulevard to our northwest Calgary home, I would exclaim breathlessly,  “Look at the mountains!!”

In 2008 my view changed: I moved to a tiny hamlet in Central Alberta, a good four hour’s east of those mountains, now hard to see –even on a clear day.
My artistic journey, which came into full flower in this place, is now dominated by my love of the wide Alberta sky and rolling prairie, the grasslands and the stands of aspen that surround my home.
My purpose with this exhibit is to share this glorious landscape with those whose experience may be more urban or mountainous – to evoke the sense of space and gentle calm found in a place where the gravel streets end in grasses and trees with that ever-present, fulsome sky.
The exhibit would consist of a combination of “soft” pieces – hangings mounted on dowels via attached sleeves; canvases – pieces wrapped around or mounted on stretched canvas, framed or not, and wired for hanging; and “minis” – small pieces matted for framing but displayed on small stands.
To this end, I would propose that my work be exhibited in the smaller gallery where there is a plate rail that would accommodate standing pieces, as well as wall space for hanging pieces.
Please note that the photos accompanying this proposal include some pieces I hope to exhibit in this project, and some that aren’t available but which are examples of my past work most relevant to this proposal.  (These pieces are marked “not available” in the Image List.)
Techniques would include mono-printing, water colour, fabric paint and dilute acrylics on canvas, combined with quilting, needle-felting, embroidery and beading.

I hope and trust I covered all the bases, dotted all the i's, crossed all the t's and accomplished every cliche relevant to this situation!  😉

Wide Alberta Sky (C) 2015

I attached ten photos -- with Image List, as required -- that reflect my work in that genre, with a focus on the sky, hit the "Submit" button, and received a prompt, "Thank You! Your submission has been received!"

So now I wait.  The deadline for the call for 2019 exhibits is July 6.  And as the site advises, "All applicants will be contacted by Friday, September 7."

Back to work!

Editted to add: Linking this to The Needle and Thread Network.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

It's All Worth It (Long, But LOTS of Pictures!)

I'm talking about the 'bit of a slog' that I came through recently (and not for the first time), as well as the ongoing learning curve(s), the disciplining of The Voices (you know: the ones who ask you repeatedly, "Who do you think you are?").

It's all worth it.

In the month (!) since my last post, I've taken two workshops, visited several galleries, enjoyed a local quilt show in the company of a friend who's a new quilter, and finished the last five pieces for my contribution to Inspired by Scotland, my collaboration with SAQA colleague and dear friend, Mary Wilton, which opens at the 2018 Camrose Art Walk on July 24.

There's been travel and fun, and hard work, and education, some disappointment...and a couple of wonderful surprises!

Where do I start?

Hmmm....Perhaps with those pieces.

The first one I tackled turned out to be the most unusual (I think).  Part of the Scotland series, it was inspired by a photo I took out of a window at Hill House, built for publisher Walter Blackie and located just west of Glasgow -- one of Charles Rennie MacKintosh's most wonderful achievements:

I had a vision of how to do it that involved both piping (for the leaded glass) and a three-dimensional effect of the plant inside on the window ledge.

First, I auditioned the fabric and created the background, which I sandwiched and quilted:

I learned a great deal putting this together...because my sewing machine absolutely refused to rejoin sections if I insisted on using piping for both vertical and horizontal leading.  In the end, I used it for the vertical -- and bias tape for the horizontal.  Here's how it went:

First bit of piping.
 The lines of stitching you see in the photo above are the guidelines for where I cut the fabric -- yes, top to bottom! -- to insert each line of piping.  This process meant there were seams of piping on the back.

Whoa!  Look at those seams!!

I created the 'blossoms' for the plant by layering organza with water-soluble stabilizer (Sulky brand), stitching each shape twice with silk thread, and cutting them out individually before soaking off the stabilizer.

Petals pinned for attaching (by hand)

Here's how I dealt with the aforementioned seams on the back: I covered them up by stitching a piece of craft felt over them (by hand).

See the white lines on the blue craft felt?  Those were my guidelines for mounting the piece onto an 8" x 10" stretched canvas, coated with matte gel medium.

After consulting colleagues on the SAQA Members Only Facebook page, I took the plunge and mounted the 10"  x 13" piece (bound with a narrow black bias binding to match the other "leading") on an 8" x 10" canvas:

Through MacKintosh's Window: Hill House
(C) 2018

Here's the view from the side:

Of course, the piece will be wired to hang properly -- in the photos above it's just perched on a nail on the wall of my living room!

The next was a piece based on a close-up photo of a bit of mended wall at Stirling Castle -- the wall of one of the weavers' studios, as I recall:

I won't go into detail about my process for this one, save to tell you it involved cutting up a lovely batik into very tiny pieces and applying them to a white fabric substrate that had a fusible web coating (see below).  

I then sandwiched it, quilted it and -- using a technique similar to that described above -- mounted it on unpainted stretched canvas.  Here is is before framing:

Mended Wall: Stirling Castle
(C) 2018  (12" x 16")

At this point I took a break and went off to Olds College for a couple of classes at Fibre Week 2018. The first day was a long one -- dyeing fabric and yarn with plants and mordants -- and lead to one of the surprises I alluded to above.

On the second day I took a needle-felting (with some wet felting) class with a delightful instructor -- Lois McDonald-Layden -- who'd travelled from New Brunswick to share her vast knowledge of the subject via a variety of felting classes.  (I took only one but found myself surrounded by disciples who'd taken some already and were about to take more.)

I wanted to recreate -- or create an impression of -- this plant I'd photographed in the gardens at Clan Donald Centre (Armadale Castle, Skye):

P.S.: If any one of you, Gentle Readers, knows the name of this plant -- would you let me know?  Thanks!

We began by making our own "pre-felt" foundation -- layers and layers of merino top/roving, needle-felted together, gradually incorporating colours from our chosen background.

We then added more material -- different types and forms of wool -- to the surface to create a design, and needle-felted it securely:

At this point it was ready to be "set" by wet felting.  This we did by rolling it up in layers of small-bubble bubble wrap, inside a towel, around a pool tube, and rolling it back and forth much as one would roll out pastry for a pie -- but far longer and more aggressively!

In the end, it was 'set' -- and I was ready to go home!

Once home, I began to add the quilting I wanted, to give it definition:

And then I added embroidery:

I continued with the embroidery, enhanced by beading, until I had it the way I wanted it.  I steamed it a couple of times with my iron (from the back) and then mounted it on a stretched canvas painted black, with some hints of dark green:

Blossoms: Gardens at Clan Donald Centre
(C) 2018 - before framing (12" x 12")

Fourth piece?  Back to canvas, and another landscape, based on a photo taken on the road from Edinburgh to Eilean Donan Castle, early in our trip:

I began by painting the sky on the canvas, and then auditioning and shaping wool felt, which I layered and stitched together with machine quilting:

Layout and felting supplies!

 And here's the finished piece, photographed (rather poorly!) before framing.  Yes, it has a needle-felted foreground, and some whisps of roving applied directly to the "sky"...

Misty Road to Eilean Donan
(C) 2018  (12" x 12")

I decided to end the series with a 'soft' piece -- that is, one not mounted on canvas but hung with a sleeve -- and it's a miniature of a piece I finished in 2014 entitled "MacKintosh's Garden: Hardy to Zone 3".

This version is only 12" x 12".  

Mac's Garden: A Tribute to Charles Rennie MacKintosh
(C) 2018  (12" x 12"

Here it is on my design wall, to the left of the original:

And here is a detail shot:

I was blessed to have several of the fabrics I used in the original, so I incorporate them with new ones for this little piece.  The pieces each feature grids and the Glasgow Rose, both motifs associated with the work of CRM and his wife, Margaret.

"So what were the surprises?" you might be wondering.

Well...when I knew I was going to Olds, I set up an appointment with the owner of a gallery there, where I have several pieces on view.  I've dealt there for several years but this owner has only been there for a year.  I rushed to get to the appointment -- which she'd confirmed by e-mail earlier in the week -- only to find the place locked up tighter than a drum.

But...I'd spent that day in the dyeing class with a gal who just happened to be the owner of Points North Gallery -- a well-established frame shop and art gallery in Fort McMurray.  When I shared this with thing lead to another and she looked at the pieces (four of them!), took them back to "Fort Mac" with her, and now a contract has been executed...and all is well!

Next...just last week I found out that the piece I'd "slogged" over -- "Incarnation to Resurrection..." -- was accepted into the SAQA Juried Show, "Season After Season"!!!  My daughter will be picking it up to take better photos -- for publicity purposes -- and I need to make a larger sleeve (5" instead of 4") and a new label (address included etc.) there's a bit of work to do there yet, but I'll have it ready to send by the end of August and it will go up in the exhibit at the Texas Quilt Museum in January.

This is my very first SAQA International Show (My Corner of the World: Canada is considered "Regional") -- so I am over the moon!!!

The last bit of news is that a small piece -- "In Green Pastures" -- has sold at my friend Kayleen's In Spire!  Boutique Yarn and Gifts...

So..."there's my 'three'" (based on the notion that events -- good or not so -- happen in threes)...for which I am truly thankful.  😊

And on that note, I've pretty well exhausted both of us -- writer and Gentle Reader -- so I will close, with wishes for a Happy Canada Day to my compatriots, and a link to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

May your week be lifted into light and creativity, wherever you are!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Bit of a Slog

That's how it's been for me -- least-wise, in the sewdio -- since I touched base with you shortly after the 19th Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale.

Thinking about this, I realize that there were a variety of things at play.

First, there's the "morning after" thing.  You know -- as in "the day after Christmas" or "the day after the wedding" or "the day after the grad party" other words, the day after whatever celebration you might name.  "The party's over" and life goes on as usual.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, get my drift.

The 2018 Lacombe Art Show was over.  The excitement of it all was over for another year.  Now what?

"Now what" for me this year is two-fold.  There's the Camrose Art Walk, which for me and my friend and colleague, Mary Wilton, will be July 23 through September 5, an exhibit of our "Inspired by Scotland" pieces -- but first there was this rather large piece I was determined to finish for a Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Call for Entry that has a deadline of 9:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on May 31.   Yep.  Tomorrow.

Enter the Second "Thing":  the Return of the Voices.  Those are the ones that start on you at the beginning of a major project and don't let up until it's either a) tossed aside in despair or b) FINISHED.

The prelude to this Call began long before the actual Entry opened (this is quite normal), so I've been pondering it a while.  Months, in fact.  Unique to this Call (at least, in my experience) is that those who are accepted have to include an Artist's Journal that documents the exploration of the theme, Season After Season.

The first entry in mine is dated January 7, 2018, but the pondering began long before.

In early December, in Advent, I attended a concert featuring British poet-priest, Malcolm Guite, and Canadian singer-song-writer, Steve Bell, both Christians who worship in the Anglican tradition.

I'd bought Malcolm's book, Sounding the Seasons -- and a CD of the same name that has him reading the poems aloud -- with some birthday gift $$ in the fall, and was following his lovely sonnets through the celebration of the church year.  In the photo above you can see on the right that I set up a journal to get me into the 'groove'.

The journal sat that way for a while -- till after Christmas and that first entry, when I began making notes about what I wanted to say in this piece.  I'd printed out an illustration of the liturgical year in colour:

I thought about doing the illustration as a Tree of Life -- which is an important multicultural/spiritual symbol...

Photo of a wonderful tree
on the edge of a property near
Cranna Lake, Lacombe, AB, Canada

I didn't use it...but I love that tree shape and it will likely appear in future work!

It took from the third week in January to the end of February to realize I'd been over-thinking the project (ever do that, any of you, Gentle Readers? 😉)

I began to move into production by selecting fabric strips in the colours of the liturgical calendar:

Yes, you see 'chunks' of fabrics there -- most fat quarters or at most, 1/2 metre (about 19" long, 42" wide).  The rest?  Strips and scraps.

I decided to create the piece in rectangular blocks using "string piecing".  Why?  My main source of paper for the blocks is the Red Deer phone book from a couple years back -- and they make beautiful blocks that are 6 1/2" W x 8 1/2" L.  The Call required the piece to be 30" x 72" (at minimum) -- 5 x 9 blocks.  Perfect!

I wanted to show the flow of "Season After Season" by running the colourful seasons together from top to bottom, beginning with Advent (once 'purple' but now 'blue'), moving into Lent (purple), Pentecost (red) and Ordinary Time (green) -- leaving the white (Christmas/Epiphany and Easter/Ascension) aside for the time being:

Example: blues into purples
Colours after colours on the design wall

Now...what about the white?  I wanted it to be balanced against the other colours...

This is where I get to the "given to me" part that occurs in much of my work.  I was "given" a "picture" in my mind (and heart) that was a star...and a cross, which I first drew out in my 'Artist's Journal'.  In fact, I had to draw it out more than once because the first time my "to scale" drawing had six blocks across, not five!

The Cruciform Star

I did this by creating the white string-pieced blocks and attaching them onto the back of the piece...and cutting away the front...

First cut...

Cut open and prepped for needle-turn applique

But then, as I moved further in...I found a spot (or two!) where some of the fray-friendly fabrics were coming apart at the seams! The "Voices" had taken another tack to stymie the process!  😉

How to fix?!  I used a light-weight fabric and MistyFuse (R) to patch it here...

And here...

Not once, but twice!

But can you tell (photo taken before layering, quilting and needle-turn applique)?

And so it went!

Eventually I got all those edges turned under and appliqued.  I quilted it very simply (I'm not a proponent of dense quilting, especially with the multiplicity of seams in string piecing).

Layering batting on batting with 505 Basting Spray
outside on my back stoop. 

Now adding the top to the quilt sandwich

Simple quilting in the ditch and at right angles to it.

Then I began to second-guess myself.  The weekend of the Royal Wedding (for which I got up before 5 a.m. to watch - I'm a Canadian of Anglo heritage, after all!) I got this notion that perhaps a vine was in "You are the branches; I am the vine." (referring to John 15:15)

Ummmm...maybe not so much.

Clearing that off, I applied a narrow black border, as well as a label (which might have to be editted because it doesn't include my address, but I'll wait for the outcome first).

By this time it was Monday, May 28 and the Call for Entry deadline - May 31 -- was looming.

It took me some time to set up a spot in my home to photograph this piece, because I live in 1,050 square feet with skimpy wall space.  I am not a camera 'buff' -- I own a Canon Sure Shot that is undoubtedly smarter than I.  I usually rely on my talented daughter to photograph my work for important entries, but there was no time to do that this time around.

I wrote a friend and colleague for advice...but she was busy too (no surprise there!) and didn't get back to me for hours.

In the end, afraid that if I waited I'd lose my nerve, here's what I sent in:

Incarnation to Resurrection:
Reflections on the Colours of the Church Year
30" W x 72" L (C) 2018

Incarnation to Resurrection (Detail)

And from my Artist's Statement:
The full title of this piece is "Incarnation to Resurrection: Reflections on the Colours of the Church Year". Growing up in the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church, I've long been attracted to worshiping through the liturgical seasons, and was inspired by this theme of "Season After Season" to create a piece in the colours used to express them. I chose to use scraps in the appropriate colours and to create a 'cruciform star' as a symbol of the highest Christian holidays -- Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Ascension. As one season flows into another, so do the colours of this quilt -- from blue in Advent, through purple (Lent) to red (Pentecost) and green (Ordinary Time). The diversity of fabrics reflects the varieties of worship expressions found in the Anglican tradition, while the black binding is for Christianity's most solemn day -- Good Friday.
I got back to my colleague and wrote, "Let the chips fall where they may".

Yesterday I worked in The Shop.  We're moving.  That's a story unto itself!

Today?  I cleaned house, and reset my mind for a new project.  I have five (5!) pieces to make for the above-mentioned Camrose Art Walk.

I start Friday.

Meanwhile, I'm linking this to WIP Wednesday over on The Needle and Thread Network, as well as Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- and wishing you all a lovely rest of the week!

P.S. If you follow the liturgical calendar...