Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Herding cats!

Went to the AGM of one of my artists' special interest groups tonight.  This is a well established group,with formal by-laws and a good executive.  But--I don't think any of them have ever heard of parliamentary procedure!  With many of such groups I find the meetings, generally, chaotic.    Tonight, it appeared that the executive had put very little planning into the meeting, and most of the time was given to general discussion on a variety of topics, often all at the same time. This doesn't appear to be only the case with artists, as I've had the same type of experience with other volunteer groups.

 Now, much of my background is in management, where the idea is that you should be able to finish any meeting within an hour. Since retirement, my experience is now within the volunteer sector, and I don't know if people have more time, but the meetings are much less of an information exchange and more of a discussion/decision-making event.  This is an entirely different approach, and needs to be experienced to be understood.  It's tremendously frustrating unless you are used to it, but--things actually get done.  A much slower process, but more of a collaborative process, which means a better 'buy-in" from the participants.

Thank Goodness I've been getting a little experience with saying "no" lately, so was able to escape involvement when I was nominated to the Board. I am determied to protect my "sabbatical", but the pressures are certainly all around me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Had been really looking forwar to the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge this month, but cannot get a handle on the challenge at all! We are to find inspiration in the realm of Art Deco.  I've been through about half of the internet references given and all I'm seeing is ugly buildings.  There has to be more to this--there just has to be--but I'm sure not seeing it so far.  And this month I had time and space to be working on it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scarey business

This morning I mailed two quilts to Southern California for inclusion in one of the Mancuso exhibitions.  But--considering that there is a pending Canadian Postal strike, this is really a "Leap of Faith".  Even scarier was when the Postal lady questioned the Zip code I had.  Ah well, I have a tracking number, and am thinking good thoughts.  Keep your fingers crossed!

P.S.  I later realized that I had addressed the parcel to her phone number.  Thank Goodness I made it backto the Post Office in time to change the address just before it went onthe truck.  DUH!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

From the ridiculous to the sublime

I worked through some of those ideas.  Then put them on the design wall and managed to not throw things at them.  It was quite an experience and I learned and practised.  I'm not sure what to do with them now.  My art quilt support group( Ravenesque) was over today and they seemed a little unsure of what to say about them as well.  The projects may never seee the light of day, but well worth the time.

Before the ladies came over DH and I tidied the studio and adjacent sitting area.  Some things got thrown away.  Every once in awhile I get into a mood that will allow me to get rid of things.For several years all of my small fabric scraps have been put into a 5+gal primary wine fermentor.  It was full and tightly packed, but now is empty and back in the wine making area.  I found a small piece of a very special fabric that I had bought years ago.  You know the type of thing.  So beautiful or so capable of arousing memories that you can't bear to throw away even the smallest piece.  I gave it to one of the Ravenesque ladies who does amazing crazy patch embroidery, and she immediately had an idea of what she would do with it.

Visits such as this are the highlight of much of my life ( those grandbabies will always come first).  There is a tremendous exchange of ideas, and every one of us learns something, despite all of us having many years of experience in all of these techniques.  But there is laughter, and the fellowhsip that I've spoken about before. We spent some time talking about the upcoming quilt show being sponsored by the  LQG.  The entry classifications have been publicized and we feel that there may possibley be a mis-understanding of the entire genre of art quilting.  But since the classicications have been released to the public, there is very little that can be done about it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


What they say is true!  When you're in a creative slump, just do something--anything!  I've taken articles from Qulting Arts and Machine Quilting Unlimited, and have been playing.  Now the ideas are flowing.  I can't keep  up with them and need to write them down.  Oh, this is wonderful!  I just hope I can work them through and actually produce something worthwhile.  What fun!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Special Interest Groups

Last evening I received a phone call asking if I could give someone a ride to the quilter's guild meeting tonight.  I was tired and cranky and forced to make a decision quickly, so said I wasn't going to go.  Over the past 3-4 years I've slowly withdrawn from the embroiderers' guild and actually resigned my membeship last fall, so I now see this decision about the quilters as, perhaps, the thin end of the wedge leading to total withdrawl.  I have intentionally given up my other volunteer work for the next year.

So I ask, what role do organizations such as this play in our lives?  I have been very active in both groups, spending over 20 years on the executive of the embroiderers' guild and over 10years on the executive of the quilters' guild.  I made a good contibution to both, but also received value for my effort.  At a time in my life when I was a wife, harried, mother, and full time employee in a stressful job, they provided much needed stress relief.  I told my children, who expressed resentment at the four evenings a month I went out, that those four evenings kept me from committing murder.  ( Thank Goodness they were old enough to get the joke)  I learned so many new things, resulting in an excellent grounding the the basic techniques and traditions of both fields. Good enough that I have been teaching both for over 35 years.

Now I have taken that knowledge and am applying it to my art work.  I am using every techniques I have learned in both, plus more, and using all of it,  in creating what can only be called fibre collages.  My stimulation and knowledge development is now coming from wider sources.  The special interest groups I belong to are more regional or national, and/or much more focussed. 

So what is left to gain from the local, traditionally-based, special interest groups?  Fellowship for sure, but my interests are no longer the interests of the majority of these group members.  Certainly I have grown, intellectually, but as I age, I also find my sphere of interest getting smaller.  I worry that if I continue to drift away from some of these organizations, I will end up a lonely old woman working in my studio ( or maybe playing internet poker--Heaven forbid) with little human contact and only a tenuous hold on reality.  This is scarey!

So, while I may still slowly leave the traditional local special interest groups, I think I better do so using a long term plan that will maintain my vision of myself as a social animal.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The week continues

Today I went bead shopping.  I particularly chose stores that I don't often get into.  Found some neat stuff and even spent some time showing a local store owner some of the options available for over-dyed silk ribbon.  Had a marvelous conversation with another store owner about rescue cats and treating obesity in cats. At both stores we ended up talking about the business of dealing in a commodity that must be considered "luxury" goods.  DH went with me, and there were occasions when I noticed the "eye rolling", but he never said his usual "What the H--- do you plan to do with that?!"  He even took a book along and sat in the car reading, so that I could take my time.  Since I was able to do that,  and not worry about what I was doing, I actually spent far less than I have other times. 

The last commission is finished and in the mail today.  Now the planning process for two embroidered evening bags--which will probably never be used--and an experitmental wall hanging is underway.  What a great feeling!

But I must remain constantly vigilant.  The tempation to commit to a show or an exhibition is always there.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This and that

Last Monday evening, my small art quilt support group, Ravenesque, met at the friend's house with whom I recently shared her inherited stash.  She is very generously continuing to share, and during the feeding frenzy (we are such a calm and polite group!), she casually brought out a very nice device that is used to make the thread rings  that are part of Hedebo lacemaking.  These rings were made and used in the 70's by serious embroiderers, not in actual lacemaking, but to add texture to the very detailed and complex surface stitchery that was popular then.  These devices were usually made from wood which had been turned and shaped in a lathe, then polished to a very smooth finish.  The device she had appeared to be glass or crystal, and was very small/fine, for making very tiny rings, and was probably quite expensive in its day.  I expressed pleasure and surprise on seeing it, and this lead to a conversation about the technique. By Tuesday evening I had the whole embellishment part of a new piece planned.

On Tuesday, itself, my DH and I headed out for a three day visit to the USA, with me sitting in the front seat making Hedebo rings using the body of a Sharpie pen for shape.  I made those 'suckers' for three days and 1000km.  We even had to stop at Nordic Needle in Fargo to buy more colours of thread for making them.  I also found the spray adhesive for quilting that I had been looking for, and 15 small matts for pictures at a price I couldn't refuse.  Today, it was off to the sell-out of a local Ukrainian museum gift shop, where there was a significant amount of embroidery thread on sale, stopping at a local rummage sale to buy old jewlery, on the way home.  The embroidery thread I bought will likely be overdyed to make it more interesting, and then used in embellishment, as will the beads recovered from the jewelry.

Can an art quilter ask for a better week?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reflections on a new machine

Last evening my new sewing machine started to mis-behave, so I stopped working immediately and took it in to be seviced today.  Of course, once the serviceman took out a screwdriver, the machine was scared and immediately began to behave.  However, I've had it for almost a year, so left it behind for a routine servicing.  Now, I'm determined to finish the last of the three charity quilts I've committed to, so we hauled out the old Pfaff for me to use over the weekend.  It fits fairly nicely into the table I got for the Janome 7700, and after a few minor difficulties, I got it working. 

I used that Pfaff almost daily for 7 years, and, while we had a bit of a love/hate relationship, I had always felt that it was the most useful machine I had ever owned, especially for an "art" quilter or fibre artist.  There were features of that machine that I really miss on the Janome.  But using the Pfaff again after a year, I am amazed at how much I miss the Janome.  Yes, the Intergrated dual feed on the Pfaff is much easier to use than the Accufeed on the Janome, and the needle threader on the Pfaff is more reliable, but other than that I now know that I'm thoroughly spoiled with the Janome and may never go back to any other machine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beaded pendant

The beaded pendant isfinished.  if you remember, this was the evening bag that was converted when I lost the fabric needed to finish it.  I think this has worked well, and I'm quite pleased with the result.  The cord was hand made with perle cotton and floss with beads incorporated into the twisting.  I'm not sure how the colour will be represented here but the cording, which matches the beads beautifully, is done with DMC820

Monday, May 2, 2011

Curved needles

One of the best tools I've ever found for finishing is a curved needle.  It takes a bit of practise to use efficiently, but well worth the effort.  When I started my finishing business, I ordered curved needles from California ( and what a hassle that was!) Several years ago, I found some curved John James beading needles, locally, that work well, but are so fine that they quickly break or loose their curve, and I go through them very quickly.  Well, old age is making itself known and I can no longer thread the little curved beading needles that I like so much.  I tried a wire threader and it worked--once! So one of my tasks today was to see if there was still a local source for any sort of curved needle, and the threader to go with it.  I found some huge curved needles in Fabricland that are sold for tying quilts, but far too large and coarse for what I'm doing. Then, in a little embroidery shop, that I went to in desperation, I found the exact curved beading needle that I had hoped to see.  She also had three sizes of curved tapestry needles, and --bonus!!--stronger wire threaders.  The tapestry needles can be sharpened with a bit of emery and elbow grease, and I'm thinking a size 24 will be perfect.  I intend to try it over the next couple of days, and if they work, go and buy as many as she has.  The other two needles ( size 22 and 20) are a bit too large, which means paying $2.99 for a single needle, but if it's the right  needle, it's worth every penny.

When my friend sold her emboidery shop a couple of few ago, and the new owner had a family member to do her finishing, I had thought that part of my life was over, but business still trickles in.  Thank Goodness, because it forces me to keep my hand in, and now I have a couple of pieces of my own that require a well-experienced finisher.  I know just where to find one, and I know she has some really good tools.

New beginning--Again (lol)

A new month and no looming deadlines almost makes me giddy!  I have a commission to finish a heavily embroidered evening bag.  I haven't been doing a lot of finishing lately, so wanted a practise run before starting.  A beaded evening bag has been hanging around the studio, unfinished, for so long that the fabric to finish it is long gone.  So I have turned it into a pendant.  This gives me the chance to practise my hand stitching and finishing skills before tackling the commission.  It's going well, but selecting something to hang it from is giving me pause for thought.  I have a twisted cord that would work very well, but is a little large for the pendant, and I have a black chain that may be a little coarse. The answer may be to go shopping--and who can resist that?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

End of the art sale

Two of my larger matted pieces sold, so a bit of money coming in.  I only had 5 of them there.  Lots of positive feedback on my work.  This will allow me to consider working with this group again.  The most positive comments came in response to my larger, older work.  Since I'm now free to explore whatever I choose, I may take a look at working on a slightly larger scale.  Some of the other artists reacted well to my comments about doing some work with print making, and it would be no problem to enlarge the size of the basic prints that I start with.  All good food for thought.