Sunday, January 06, 2019

Starting with Finishing!

In my last post, I said that one of the things I want MORE of this year is time in the studio.  Well!  Since that post -- a mere 5 days ago! -- that's exactly what I've made sure I have (notwithstanding the fact that I worked at The Shop on one of those days!)

"Random Rails" chez Gina Blank's
Air B&B, Edmonton, Alberta
"Bookshelf Quilt"
As those of you, Gentle Readers, who follow this blog regularly, know -- I've been stricken with "Piecer Madness" for some months now.  I had two commissions for pieced quilts in 2018 -- the Random Rails twin-extra-wide-and-extra-long for my daughter's Air B&B; and a Bookshelf Quilt -- throw-sized -- for my school-days friend, M, who lives in B.C.

I finished a quilt I called the "Rectangle Quilt" (for want of a better name!) and gave it to a fellow whose home burned down to the ground about a block from me, a few months ago.

And I was determined to finish Bonnie Hunter's 2018 Mystery Quilt, "On Ringo Lake".   Lo and behold, that happened this week!  I'd finished the first five rows (laid out 'on point' on my narrow guest bed) and finally wrestled the second five-row section into submission -- and then (be still, my heart!) I managed to stitch them all together -- into one GINORMOUS (is that a word?!) top:

Finished top out on my back stoop -- on the chest freezer!

Finished top on my own (regular-sized) twin bed!

Finished top - detail

I put in all three photos to show why I love Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts!  I'm not a great bed-quilt maker, but I LOVE to piece -- it rests my brain (believe it or not!) during intense periods of Original Design (which, even if I've nothing to show for it, is most of the time).  And despite my shabby piecing skills, it never fails to amaze me that the tops I make with Bonnie's patterns (mystery and otherwise) always turn out to be amazing!!  So, Bonnie, I applaud you -- and thank you with all my heart for enabling me to turn my scraps into wonderful things!  (And yes, lest you wonder, I have hopes of making her 2018 Mystery Quilt -- now fully revealed -- some time later this year!   And YES, I have the scraps with which to do it!!)

Next up?  Somewhere along the way in the past couple of weeks I stumbled over a pattern for a "Spectacle Quilt" that was offered up on the Internet for those who wanted to make quilts for Project Linus.  Well...I wasn't in the market for that BUT I was looking for a way to put some 4" (OLD) blue and yellow 'charm squares' into a quilt for a new baby cousin (born in September). 

I fell in love with this simple way of using 4" or 5" squares (the pattern is for the latter; I adapted it for the smaller squares) -- and came up with a top I'm calling "You are My Sunshine".  I used a charm pack from well over a decade ago, when I had a subscription (quarterly) for samples from Benartex.  I added white fabric left over from the wide backing for a throw-sized quilt -- sheep and cats on the fabric! -- that I made for L, the owner of The Shop, whose birthday was in November. 

This will be a "tummy time" quilt for Marshall Richard Douglas McKellar (!), born in September, and once I get it quilted it will be well on its way East, where that part of my (father's) family lives. Meanwhile -- till I make an LQS run for batting and backing! -- it remains on my guest bed, measuring in at about 40" square:



And from there...I "screw[ed] my courage to the sticking place" (thanks, Shakespeare!) and finally executed a piece that's been rambling around my brain for over a year.  Part of what I refer to as my "Spirit Series", it's based on a passage from Isaiah 11: 1-3, often read at Advent in churches that practice liturgical worship:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him -- 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the  fear of the LORD --
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.


For the Jews, the "shoot" is the tiny, fragile thing that will grow up out of a dead, decaying stump of a people, to give them hope.  To fill them with Life and Inspiration.  For Christians, the 'shoot' is also a metaphor for the Messiah, the Saviour, a fore-telling of Jesus the Christ...and so...I took this image, and created a new art piece, which I've just this very afternoon entered into Sacred Threads 2019.

I began with the idea of the stump, which I'd drawn out on large paper so as to meet the minimum 80" PERIMETER  requirements for the show.

I started at the top, which I created from a wonderful batik from my stash (you know -- those fabrics that tell you to buy them but at the time you've NO idea why?) and another batik-wanna-be commercial cotton:



I then turned to a combination of Cas Holmes and an online resource re: creating "fabric paper".   It had to do with recycling tissue paper, using muslin as a base, spreading on the tissue, and 'painting' the surface with a mixture of basic white glue, water and paint.  Can I find the pages I printed about it to tell you the source?  No!  Sigh...If I do, I'll edit this post!

Anyway, I made this stuff and sliced it up into "bark":

"Fabric paper" laid out to dry

"Bark" slices on the stump's trunk

My new Pfaff Performance 5.2 didn't balk a bit at stitching those slices to the (much lighter-weight) fabric, and from there I fused both the 'trunk' and the top to a background, sandwiched it and quilted away:


"Bark" stitched to background of stump

"A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse: Isaiah 1l:1" -- finished


And a couple of detail shots:



As you can see, I decided to keep the background quilting simple by following the lines on the fabric -- and I'm happy I did!

Today, all the info and photos were sent via the Internet to the Call for Entry for Sacred Threads 2019.  This is the first time I've entered this show -- though I've been thinking about it for some years.  The decisions will be made by the last week in April...so...now it's just to put the piece away and wait.  😊

Meanwhile, I've found a supplier in Calgary for Procion MX dyes (so I don't have to deal with USD exchange rates or higher shipping costs from Canadian sources in Ontario and B.C.) so I've put in an order to replenish my sadly depleted stock of dyes -- preparatory to my "Under the Wide Sky" series.  I think I'll make a small piece to kick-start it -- and make that my contribution to SAQA's 2019 Conference "Spotlight" auction. 

I continue to collect tea bags, and have some more ideas for experimenting with gel medium, paper, fabric, Transfer Artist Paper, cheesecloth, muslin...etc.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I wish you all MORE time to pursue whatever captures your fancy this new year!  And...I'll link up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, while there's still time.  Enjoy her recommendations for increasing your art history knowledge -- and just look at that wonderful cabinet her DH got her to tame the chaos in her studio!  I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Have a great rest of the week -- and thanks for stopping by!



Tuesday, January 01, 2019

I Don't Really *Want* a Word

"A word for the year", that is. 

I know, I know...some folks still choose one, rather than -- or perhaps in addition to -- making New Year's Resolutions.

I gave up resolutions a while ago...but the idea of a 'word' comes back to haunt me every year.  The last time I chose one it was 2016, and the word was "Celebrate!".  Indeed, that year there was much to celebrate.

The following year?  Not so much -- though 2017 found me having a great time at the Lacombe Art Show & Sale (April), turning 65 (September) and travelling to Scotland...out of which arose the 'Scotland Series'. 

And that -- in collaboration with my friend and SAQA colleague, Mary Wilton -- gave birth to two well-received exhibits.  ("Shamrock & Thistlemo: Textile Art Inspired by Ireland and Scotland" is showing in Lacombe's Memorial Centre as I write; it comes down January 30.)

As for this past year (2018)?  Well...yes...there have been some memorable moments: the 19th Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale; the showing of S&T at the Camrose Art Walk and now at the LMC; a lovely visit with friends at their new home south of Calgary; and the acceptance into my first juried International Exhibit with SAQA, Season After Season.  In addition, I taught my first-ever mini-class on knitting with double-pointed needles (dpns) at two consecutive "Creativ Festival" shows, and have secured a spot (dates TBA) as part of an Artists' Collective in a nearby town, for a four-month period later this year.

The not-so-memorable moments? Relationship challenges in my family...coping with health issues myself (nothing major but nonetheless troublesome)...and the mess the world is in -- in no small way related to the foolishness in the government of Canada's neighbour to the south.  Sigh...

So why a word for 2019?  And what word?

Like I said, I don't -- and didn't -- want a 'word'.  I didn't want to think of one.  I didn't want to own one.  But...it came to me out of the blue -- and here you have it:

MORE

Not as in "more stuff" or "consumerism" or "unbridled accumulation".  NO.  "More" as in...

More peace.
More quiet.
More time in the studio.
More fruits and veggies.
More water.
More rest.
More sleep.
More giving (away).
More fresh air.
More long walks.
More poetry.
More finished projects.
More connections with friends and family.
More love.
More forgiveness.
More patience.
More kindness.
More gentleness.
More self-control.
More people remembered.
More letters written.
More sweet memories made.
More joy.
More prayer.
More contentment.


I'm thinking I might just like this word. More of it, every day.  Any of you want more?  It's there for the taking, if we can just slow down long enough to find it, treasure it, and take it home with us.

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers!

May it bring you MORE than you hoped for.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Show's UP! -- And Other Things

This has been a very full week!  The catalogue for SAQA's Global Exhibit, Season After Season, arrived in my mail.

I've become shameless and showing it off, and when I think of it, all I can think is, "WOW!"


My pages!

I'm particularly thankful for my daughter, Gina Blank, who did this photography for me.

As if that weren't enough, on Wednesday morning my colleague Mary Wilton and I over-saw the hanging of our collaborative exhibit, Shamrock & Thistle: Textile Art Inspired by Ireland and Scotland, at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.  We have 18 pieces between us, and all are available for purchase (to do so, contact Maureen MacKenzie at the City of Lacombe.)









I apologize for the lack of close-ups -- my camera's battery was threatening to die at any moment, so this is a cursory overview!  Perhaps I'll go back another day and do better.  The show is up till January 30, 2019.

And of course there's been the finishing of Christmas preparations.  This is the Last Year of the Annual Xmas Boxer Shorts...The end of an era!



And the Very Long Hooded Cardigan for my daughter is also finished and -- now -- washed:

Back -- showing the hood
Pattern: Dubline from Marousa Gallagher
Yarn: Berroco Vintage (worsted)
Colour 5181 - "Black Cherry"

Front -- cabled border goes all
the way up the front and
around the hood

NOTE: This jacket sweater is buttonless; I just put the pin on the front to hold it closed for the photo!

And there was some baking...a trio of mini Bumbleberry pies for my son's freezer...



In the midst of this I did manage to fit in some studio time.  I finished "The Content of Our Waiting" -- adding some hand stitch and applying a facing.  All that remains to add is a hanging sleeve:

The Content of Our Waiting (C) 2018
11" W x 13" L
Painted paper, commercial and hand-printed fabric;
machine quilted, hand embroidered.
Inspired by the writing of Steve Bell,
the season of Advent, and the work of
both Cas Holmes and Deb Boschert


And I dug out and quilted a "Crumb-pilation" I'd created some months ago, out of neutrals, that I really wasn't sure what to do with.  Once it was quilted, I zig-zagged the edges and mounted it on a thin stretched canvas to which I'd applied slices of linen fabric.  I might still get it framed, but here's what it looks like for now:

Crumb-pilations V: Making My Way Home (C) 2018
10.5" x 10.5" mounted on 12" x 12" canvas
Machine pieced and quilted.
Yes...at first I numbered it "IV" but I've managed to fix that!

Crumb-pilations V - Detail


I'll be spending tomorrow tidying the house and packing for my trip to Edmonton on Sunday, right after church.  The toughest decision will be what book and what knitting to take!  I've pretty much decided to leave my laptop at home, so I expect to be incommunicado for a few days.  😊

Now before linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, I want to bid all of you, my Gentle Readers, wishes for joy and blessing over whatever you'll be doing through the Christmas Holiday time.  

Thank you all for continuing to read, when there are so many demands on your time.   Thanks especially for those who take time to comment on occasion.  You all inspire and encourage me to keep making.  To paraphrase Tiny Tim, "God bless [you], every one!"

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Starts and Stops

A couple of weeks ago I wrote in a bit of a panic, about all the Christmas knitting I had on my needles.  Well!  I'm here to tell you that progress has been made!

I've turned the heel on the second of these socks, and am well on my way down the foot.  The finger-less mittens are finished and in the mail.

My nephew's scarf is in the mail (sorry; I forgot to take a photo!)  And...the long hooded cardigan is farther along.  There's only 6 1/2" left to knit to get to the top of the hood!

And what of those boxer shorts?  Well...not yet.  But their construction is on Monday's 'do now!' list.  Really!

I've set aside work on the On Ringo Lake mystery quilt to play with some of the painted paper I made recently, and have come up with a piece that emulates the work of the wonderful Deborah Boschert.  In her article entitled "Developing Meaning and Exploring Shapes" (See Quilting Arts magazine for Oct/Nov 2018), she states that part of her process involves "incorporating personal symbols" into her pieces.

Up to now, I've not given serious thought to what personal symbols I might have in my life.  That said, I realize much of my work incorporates moons and trees, hills, roads and fence posts -- aspects of my environment, in addition to that wide sky I love so much.  In my Scotland series I explored echoing archways found in the ruins of an ancient abbey in Melrose.




Abbey Echoes I (C) 2018

Abbey Echoes II (C) 2018


But I've not thought of any of these as personal symbols -- despite the fact I love everything about them.

One of the symbols that's important to Deborah is the bowl -- and she's made several pieces incorporating simple bowl shapes.

And that's the shape I explored this time 'round -- inspired in part by Deborah's work, yes, but mainly by the words of Canadian singer-song-writer, Steve Bell, in the first book of his Pilgrim Year  series, the one that delves into the Christian season of Advent.  It's a season of preparation, of waiting for the arrival of God Incarnate, the miracle of the arrival of God in human form as a vulnerable wee baby, at Christmas.

In his essay for the First Week of Advent, Mr. Bell writes, "So when we consider the Christian season of Advent, what is the content of our waiting?  How are we to prepare?...How do we ready our lives to receive the gift of Christ...?" (emphasis mine).

The words echoed in my mind: '...the content of our waiting'.  The idea of 'waiting' as a vessel that contains our prayers, thoughts, feelings, spiritual preparations.  And what kind of vessel?


A bowl.

Content of Our Waiting  (C) 2018
Under construction!

Partially quilted, it's on my design wall, waiting itself for the rest of the quilting and then, I think, some hand stitch.  And ya know, when I look at this piece, I see the hint of some of those elements I mentioned above: tree/grass/crop shapes, rolling land shapes, fence post shapes and natural colours -- green, muddy grey-brown and rusty brown, white-off-white (we have snow here).  There's a certain horizontal symmetry to it too, despite the fact that this piece is a rectangle in "portrait" orientation.  

Maybe -- just maybe -- my personal symbol is the prairie landscape.   

While I chew on that idea for a while, I'll leave you to link up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and wish you a warm and happy rest of the weekend!





Friday, November 30, 2018

I'm Drinking More Tea

My friends and family know me as an inveterate coffee drinker.  One of my very favourite gifts is a package of coffee beans from some unusual independent roasterie, or a Starbucks gift card to use whenever I'm in the City.

For years I've maintained that I only drink tea when I have a cold.  I drank tea exclusively when I was in university -- until I fell in love with coffee on a trip to Italy in my early twenties.  I moved from coffee with hot milk (50-50), to coffee with regular milk and sugar, to coffee completely black, and the darker the better -- and I've seldom returned to tea.

That said, I do keep some green tea bags in the bathroom to use when I soak in a hot tub.  Green tea and Epsom salts make a very soothing hot soak after a slog mowing the lawn or shovelling the walks and driveway!

But drink it?  Not so much.

Until the last week or so.  Until I watched what Libby Williamson does with them, in the episode she recorded with The Quilt Show.  You see, she uses tea bags in her art work.  Used tea bags that is -- ones that have been steeped, dried, and carefully cut open to empty out the leaves, preferably into a compost pail.

Now, Libby had had an article about this work published in the June/July 2017 issue of Quilting Arts magazine, and I'm a subscriber, but I'll admit that what was shown therein didn't capture my attention.  It was...ummm...a bit fanciful for my taste.

But what she did on The Quilt Show -- that was something that intrigued me.  I love rough edges and layering is very much part of my landscape work.  I also love quirky pieces inspired by an unusual thought (like her piece, "Call Wendy").

On top of Libby's inspiration, I've been wrestling with my challenges to make collages; to whit, Cas Holme's latest book, Textile Landscape, which I bought with a birthday gift card a couple of months ago.

Having managed to get back into the sewdio for the "Fire Moon" piece, I hankered to do some more playing to break up the hours of Christmas knitting that's taking up most of my days right now.


A couple of weeks ago I tore apart a dusty old book -- it was falling apart already -- and painted some of the pages, using a sponge.



The book's cover is interesting too...

Actual cover 


So I made a 'contour drawing' of it in my photo program...

"Contour Drawing" of the cover

But in the end I got stuck again.  I just couldn't get a feel for how to go farther with paper.  In the process I was digging through sheers and silks and flinging fabric around trying to find something that would call to me.

I came up with a piece of rust-dyed silk charmeuse I've had for a while, and suddenly I could see IT!

There were two pieces right off the bat, and I know there'll be more.  I didn't photograph the process, but I did take some pictures of the finished pieces, each mounted on painted 10" square stretched canvas, each about 1/2" thick.  I do believe I'll have them framed but for now...

She Thought He Hung the Moon (C) 2018
Rusted silk charmeuse, recycled tea bag,
machine thread painting,
hand stitching.

She Thought... Detail of moon, stitching

Where Do I Go from Here? (C) 2018
Rusted silk charmeuse, recycled tea bag paper,
machine thread painting, hand stitching

Where Do I Go...? - Detail of moon, stitching

Yes, these tea bags are round.  I no longer have the box (I store them in a tin with a tight lid) so no idea what brand this is, but the bags hold black tea.  I also brought home a couple of roiboos tea bags (also round) that I used at The Shop, and I've also collected a few rectangular bags (black tea) for future use.

Yes, I drink the tea.  I've rediscovered the soothing nature of tea, to which I've taken to adding powdered ginger and a teaspoon of raw honey.  I don't know how long I'll keep it up, but I've just received an Air Miles coupon  for a box of Tetley Tea so...

I think there'll be more tea bag paper in future pieces.  After all, I still have more of that lovely silk charmeuse...

Stay tuned -- and thanks, Libby!  😊

Linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- and hoping her internet wobbles right themselves soon!

Pour yourself a cuppa and...enjoy!


Saturday, November 24, 2018

In and Out of the Sewdio

Have you missed me?  😉

I can't believe it's been three (count 'em!) weeks since I last posted.  Oh well.  Time flies when you're having fun!  And we are, aren't we?

As long as we don't get caught up in the international news of the day hour minute!  I've been engaged in a great deal of textile therapy in order to keep sane, sensible and loving.  It takes work, I tell ya!  It takes work!

When last we communed, Gentle Readers, I was in the throes of "Piecer Madness".  I'm still working at the edges of that so-called "malady", but there's been progress!

First, the TQS Block of the Month for 2018 -- my "Barn Quilt That's Not" -- is finished.  At least, the top is!  At 72.5" x 82.5", I've tucked it away till I can get some wide backing for it -- likely from Hamels' Fabrics when they're at the Central Alberta Quilt Show in the spring, when they have deals on the stuff and I can pick it up in person.  I finished the final 2 strips of blocks and added a zinger and a border, thus:

The Quilt Show BOM 2018
with alternate centre motif, no applique


In matters of All Things Pieced, I've moved on to try to finish the "On Ringo Lake" top -- Bonnie Hunter's 2017 Mystery Quilt.  It seems only fitting -- as she just launched the first clue for the 2018 MQ!  😉  I don't know as I'll do the 2018 one -- I find I'm captivated by neither the theme nor the colours -- but time will tell.  Meanwhile, I've finished the first five rows (on point):

"On Ringo Lake" - Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2018 - first 5 rows

As you can see, it's a large top!  And the second half is taking shape on my design wall:



Would you believe that both of these projects have emerged entirely from stash fabric (except for 1/4 metre of red for the "zinger" in the TQS BOM)?!  I swear my scraps breed in the night!!

What I've not told you, Gentle Readers, is that between my last post and the work just described, I created a new piece in time to answer the Call for Entry from the Alberta Society of Artists for it's themed show, "Nocturn".

I had this photo (with permission) from my daughter, of a full moon taken in August of this year up in Edmonton, showing the colour of the moon/sky altered by the smoke that had travelled from wild fires in British Columbia (to the west) and from northern Alberta.

First, I had to audition fabric for the sky, and create samples of the moon.  I tried removing colour (using "Decolorant") but it did nothing on the commercial fabric I wanted to use for the sky.  Thus I knew I had to paint in the moon.  I tried several combinations of acrylic and fabric paints, till I got what I wanted:

NOTE: the spots on the printed photo (Inkjet) are water spots,
not stars!!

I also had to do some copying, enlarging, tracing and cutting to create the 'tree' template:

"Contour Drawing" of the photo

Stages of creating the tree template
and cutting it out of fusible web

I found a wonderful batik for the tree fabric, which didn't fray (much).  I then marked out the finished size of the piece (which I planned to wrap around stretched canvas) and laid the "trees" out on the "sky":



I sewed down the edges of that 'tree' fabric and then I added the moon:



Then I sandwiched the piece for quilting, and machine quilted around the moon and then through the sky.  Finally I used seed stitch by hand in a toned-in blue silk floss to add texture to the trees, and needle-felted in a bit of roving for the clouds, before wrapping it around the 1/2"-deep canvas.

Fire Moon (C) 2018
16" W x 12" L - wrapped around stretched canvas

I entered the piece online on Monday, and yesterday I took it to my framer's in Stettler for mounting in a floater frame, giving it a bit more 'polish'.   I won't find out the jury's results till December 10, and if accepted, it won't go up in the exhibit until March or April (TBD), but I want it ready for whatever happens.

That's because...I have applied for a spot at the new Homestead Artists' Collective for the months of either a) April through July; or b) August through November, 2019.  And the Call for Artists for the 20th (!) Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale has just come out (it will be near the end of April, 2019).  I'll be hitting the ground running to make new work come January...

But for now...

Time to finish Xmas gifts!!

Like the second sock of this pair for my neighbour, Edna...



And the finger-less gloves for my friend Peg in Montreal...

Pattern: Pianissimo Mitts
Designer: Becky Herrick
Yarn: Estelle "Watercolours" DK (discontinued)
Colour #27

And this sweater jacket for my daughter, long in the making...


Pattern: Dubline Cardigan
Designer: Marousa Gallagher
Yarn: Berroco "Vintage" (worsted weight)
 Colour #5181 - "Black Cherry"

Oh...and the fabric for the Annual Xmas Boxer Shorts has been purchased and washed, and the pattern located.  Just need to pick up some more elastic for the waist band and...well...make them, of course!!

Thirty days till Christmas Eve?  Travelling up to Edmonton in 29 days?  I'd best stop writing and get knitting!!

I'll leave you with this link to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- having counted my blessings: friends, family (especially my kids) and The Ability to Work with My Hands.  Have a great week -- and "see" you again soon, I hope!