Sunday, January 29, 2012

No title yet

I finished the most recent "quiltlet".  This is the piece that drove me crazy with tieing off and burying the ends of the machine quilting.  I ended up putting two hanging rings on the back as it turned out more rectangular than square.  This started as a gelatin mono-print, which was cut apart and pieced back together again, including the curve of red.  Every line is machine quilted with invisible thread, some machine embellishment and then the beads.  It isn't bound but has been finished off with satin stitch.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Order out of Chaos

The beads are all safely put back in the corner cupboard.  I won't say they are sorted because I approached it a different way.  Since I usually work in colour families, I put all the glass beads within one family together in a huge bead soup.  The chip beads were stacked together in my stackable containers, again with one colour family per stack. I was stunned to find out how many different chip beads I have in shades of green.  The number of colour families was a surprize as well.  Blue quickly separated itself into two very distinct families--darker royal blues and the more teal ones.  While gold a silver were pretty easy to tame, I also found orange, red, pink, purple, black and white families.  Another surprize was the stack of seed beads containers in metallic colours other than gold and silver.  The biggest surprize was a large colour family in yellows, beiges and browns. These worked very well together, so ended up in the same bag, and just looking at them and fondling the bag has sent my creativity soaring.

The work took part of yesterday and most of today.  Once finished, I took a nap, then came to sweep the floor ( yeah, some of them got away during the sorting).  What did I find while cleaning up, -- a large shoe box full of containers of beads that had been completely missed in the sorting--a whole new colour family--and I can't even give it a name.  Grey/green/khaki?? Sounds awful, but it's one I really enjoy working with, and have couple of projects on the go using it--which is why they were segregated in another part of the studio. 

Well, nothing more will be done until I can buy more containers.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Today I decided to find the bead soup I will need to use to assemble some kits for my beading class at the end of the February.  I like to have everything ready ahead of time, in case I have to buy something, especially if I might have to buy it over the internet. Well, one thing led to another and this is the result.  Not only is the table covered, but the sruface behind the ironing board and the bottom shelves of the corner cupboard as well.  Maybe the whole thing just needs a complete clean-out.  My Ravenesque group will be meeting next week and maybe I can take the discards there, or save them for my grandaughter--my daughter would love that!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Doubts are back

After my complaining the other day about having to tie off and bury hundreds of thread ends, the question was raised " Why do you bother?"  Since then I've been questioning myself about why it's so important for me to demonstrate attention to detail and technical skill.  During my musings I found out that a quilter, known to me, with many undeveloped technical skills, has had work juried into a high profile show. Then, today the latest Quilting Arts Magazine arrived,complete with Robbie Joy Eklow's column, The Goddess of the Last Minute.  Amongst other things she mentions some newer and younger quilters who may not pay a lot of attention to detail because they really don't care.  (To be charitable, I would like to think that they don't care about technique because they are getting such a thrill out of the creative experience.)

So back to the original question--why do I care about detail and workmanship?  Is it because I believe in my heart that this is all I have to offer?  Is it because when my work receives attention and even sells, it is the pieces into which I have put the most effort, both creative and technical?  Is it because, as a former quilt judge, this is how I evaluate all work? Or is it maybe because that is all that I can control.  The creativity is a gift that is to be enjoyed and shared, but is not something that I have developed for myself.  When it shows up, it is a gift.

Today I finished the beading on my newest piece--number 2 in the Milky Way series--titled "Too Far Away".  This has taken five weeks of almost daily work to do.  Every bead larger than a seed bead is stitched twice, and the beading is solid for about 40 inches and about 3 inches wide.  Do I really think anyone will notice, or care?  Thank  Goodness, I know that this is the stage of every piece when my doubts kick in.  When the basic work is done, and only the finishing remains.  This is when I measure my original vision with the finished result, and because I've been so close to it for so long, it seldom measures up.   Probably a good example of "familiarity breeds contempt"  (Since this is for exhibition, I can't post any pictures--sorry)

But this also means that I can move onto another piece.  I have several in mind, and the drive to make my visions come to life, never fades, even in the face of perpetual doubt.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Line study

I wasn't happy with how my small 12" by 12" piece, "Line Study" turned out.  So on the suggestion of a friend, I've added some beads, and here is the result.  Obvously, I had a little problem with the lighting, but this is a better image than the one that was all washed out because of too much light.

Never again!

I have given my husband instructions.  If I ever suggest again, that I do intense machine quilting, with hundreds of tied and buried ends, using invisible thread, he is to institutionalize me immediately, because I will have gone insane.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Trying too hard

I needed some hand work to take to a LQG meeting on Wednesday evening.  I sorted thourgh my stack of gelatin prints and found a likely candidate, sandwiched it, and took it along to add hand quilting.  Luckily, I also took a doodle cloth to test out various quilting threads to use.  Tried an overdyed #12 perle, #12 silk perle, and a variegated tatting cotton.  Ble-e-e-ch!  After much frustration, I realized that I'm just trying too hard to make things work, and I really need to sit back and let the inspiration come.  This is so hard for me, but it's  a skilll I really need to develop.  So, as I was falling asleep, I had a sudden idea about another one of the gelatin prints--and actually remembered it the next morning.  So that is in progress, but it promises to be a long time in production.

Then, Thursday evening, while discussing an entirely different thing with a friend, I had an idea about how to fix the piece that is shown in the last post.  The quilting just doesn't show enough to influence the design.  So I plan to add dark purple seed beads along some, but not all, of the quilting lines, to accentuate them.  This, of course, meant a trip to the bead store.  Too bad!

Most of my work, right now, is hand work.  There were two events this week that called out for some hand work, so, as well as the gelatin prints, I sorted through a box of old counted thread embroidery projects, that I found in my store room. (Not cross stitch!) This fairly large box once held a fortune in evenweave linen fabric and a healthy collection of overdyed cotton floss.  This floss is a specialty thread that is no longer manufactured, so is even more valuable now, than it once was.  Over the years, I've sold off most of the fabric, and a fair bit of the thread, but kept anything that I had once started to work on ( my UFO's).  At one time, I was very good at counted thread work and even won awards for it.  I also taught the techniques, specializing in counted thread ethnic embroidery techniques.  This was a big part of my life that I had to give up when my hands and wrists just couldn't take it any more. Well, there were two half finished tray clothes and a small Christmas ornament--not started, left in the box.  Sad remnants of over 20 years of loving and dedicated work.

Okay! Enough of that!  One of the tray clothes has 18 separate motifs, of which 15 were done!  Well, they're all done now, and only the hemming remains.  I need to read up on hemming before I start, as it's been quite awhile!  The other tray cloth is about half done.  The pattern I had in mind didn't really work out well--which is why it's not finished. So, simplify the pattern, and I should have it finished in a few days--once I get to it. The Christmas ornament can wait until fall.  We'll see how my hands take to this.  I'll have to pace the work and make sure that my beading projects--which have a deadine--get priority.

My hope is that I find I'm able to do the work, if I pace it well.  So far, I've been too "into it" to pace well, and the pain is coming back.  If this works out for me, it will be like coming home to an old friend.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Which side is up?

Here are some photos of my most recent 12"by 12".  This is just a nice pleasant comfy piece--not spectacular--but one I like.  Again, I've used the LWI-dyed cotton Damask.  Napkins are often less worn than tablecloths, and are just the perfect size for these little "quiltlets".
Anyway, I tend to like it whichever side up.  Can't make up my mind. Which view do people prefer?

     #1                                                                                                                   #2

#3                                                                                                                              #4

close-up to show quilting
Here is a close-up of the quiltlet in hopes that the quilting is a little easier to see.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Life skills, and why I call myself a Fibre Artist

These days I'm very busy beading a larger wall hanging.  Beading is somewhat mindless work and gives me lots of time for thinking.  I'm also in the preparation stages of a new beading class and spend time practising my teaching.  Sounds strange, I know, but as I work I'm thinking " Now, how would I teach this?"  This sort of execise leads me to think about how I learned a particular technique.  ( I told you that beading gives me lots of thinking time--maybe too much!)

What I've realized is that every stitching/beading/quilting/painting class or experience I've had, has had a place in developing the skills that I use today.  The piece I'm working on is hand beading on a free-motion, quilted fabric--to which I have also applied acrylic paint.  The beading stitches I'm using were learned in a beading class, but I'm also using a beading technique that I learned in a stitchery class.  The fabric is controlled using a set of Q-Snaps, bought for use when hand-quilting, but set up in a method learned in an English Goldwork stitchery class, and using a frame weight hand-made for use with canvaswork. 

My skill-set is unique, and used in a variety of ways, and combinations.  Being referred to as a "quilter" doesn't begin to describe  me, or what I do.  No wonder it makes me feel uncomfortable.