Friday, May 29, 2015

The "Bird" Quilt

I had the strangest phone call yesterday.  I answered, and she said"Is this really Pat Findlay?"  I assured her it was, and she then identified herself as the lady who had commissioned the "Bird" quilt, that I made for the Crafts Guild of Manitoba, over two years between 1984-86.  She had evidently "googled" me, and luckily, our phone number had followed us through both moves, since then.  She had also kept the very detailed letter I wrote, describing the whole process.  She lives in Quebec, and, she and her husband, are at the stage of leaving their home, for gentler accommodation.  They sound quite wealthy, as some of their furniture is being donated to a special Foundation that furnishes diplomatic residences all over the world.  We chatted for quite awhile,and mutually agreed that she might prefer to find a museum or something similar, where she has a little more control over how the quilt will be handled, in future.  She has promised to let me know what she decides.

I certainly remember the quilt, as it consumed my life, at the time.  It is the largest, and most complex piece I have ever done, as almost every block was an originally-designed appliqued bird, and almost every stitch done by hand. I expect that it would be appraised at between $10,000 and $15,000.  The provenance is impeccable, as the letter details every individual block, who designed it, and how it was constructed, including problems I ran into. I hope it finds a good home. 

Otherwise I am home from knee replacement surgery, and have no inclination, whatsoever, to even look at my sewing machine, but have sewn a couple of "hexies" together, by hand

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Putting in time

Saturday I found a link in The Quilt Show Newsletter for a method of making four Flying Geese blocks out of one charm square.  I had a package of charm squares that I had won in a small raffle about 2 years ago.  They are all ugly Halloween prints, and have been sitting in my studio, almost daring me to do something with them.  So I thought "What the heck, take a day off, and play".  So I did.  I chained as much as I could, and ended up with 112 Flying Geese blocks. 

 I used black as my background colour, and then hit my stash looking for any colour that would fit into the bright neon-type colours of the prints.  I found a green and a purple, so I'll use those in the sashing, along with more black.  This has been a very good bolt of black, a deep, pure colour, but this is the end of it. I have another bolt but the colour isn't quite as good.  Not that anyone would notice unless the two were side-by-side.  Anyway, all of the blocks, and extra fabric are carefully put away in a project box, for when I get home from the hospital

The quilting project on the hand dyed fabric is done.  I have mixed feelings about it, but read a message from Angela Walters in a recent The Quilt Show newsletter, talking about three things a quilter should never do.  She emphasizes that we should remember what the purpose of the quilt was, and never loose track of that. This quilt was an experiment in trying to design quilting to accent the colours in hand dyed fabric, and as a means of practicing my machine quilting.  Within those requirements, it did the job, and the finished result is what it is--nothing to get excited about.  I decided not to bead it, although I had purchased the beads.  I felt it would be distracting, and would prove far too much work for these old arthritic hands, especially on a piece that won't be leaving home.

The design did not work out well, and I learned several things

  • with LWI dyed fabric the various colour patterns do not flow well enough to support a feather based design
  • choose a design with as little travel stitching as possible.  It will show, especially with a variegated thread.
  • if you want to emphasize the colour  of the dyed fabric, choose your thread very, very carefully.  Variegated thread does not work as well as a neutral.
  • make sure you have enough fabric to use as binding.  Otherwise you will be looking at a facing.
  • unless your machine has perfect tension ( mine doesn't), match your top and bobbin thread for colour
  • I need a lot more practice in turning sharp corners during FMQ'g
  • beading will be a distraction to your fabric colour and stitching design
  • If you  see beautiful quilts with designs that appear to have been chosen to match the colours, you "bet your bootie" the colours were added after the quilting.
I probably won't be back in the studio for a couple of weeks.  Talk to you then.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Not much to show for time spent

since my surgery is next week, I've seen sorting out "stuff" between the two studios, and making sure everything in the basement is in the right space.  Before the last surgery,I took photos of all the storage areas, so that I could show DH exactly where to look for something I needed.  It worked well, and we want to be able to do the same thing, this time.

I am in the process of working on one of the LWI dyed pieces I spoke of last time.  I placed a vinyl sheet over the fabric and then designed some quilting on the vinyl, using a water erasable pen.  This worked even better than I had thought it would, until I discovered that I couldn't lean on any portion of writing, as my sweat would erase it.  Then I transferred the design to the fabric itself, using a light box.  That worked quite nicely.  I have had to mail order special threads to use in this project, and now realize that backing fabric will have to be carefully chosen as well, since I hope to work on cleaning up the backs of my pieces.  As I usually use a false back to cover the hand stitching I do, and beading, this has never been a concern, but maybe it's time.

I want to bead these pieces I'm making, and a friend had recommended a fairly new bead store in town.  There are a couple of quite good stores locally, but they cater to jewelry makers, and neither has a decent stock of seed beads.  This store caters more to Aboriginal beaders, and had a whole room devoted to seed beads in a variety of sizes, including, Delicas.. What's more the prices were more than reasonable.  There had been a wonderful store, in town, that, unfortunately, appeared to be a well kept secret. She had wonderful beads, and would spend time helping a fibre artist find exactly the right bead. However she closed just over a year ago.  I have really missed her, but maybe this new store will fill the void.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What next?

The show is over, and I may have sold a couple of bookmarks.  (I hope they weren't stolen!)

Now I'm faced with "what next?".  With surgery in less than three weeks, I have time to get the upstairs studio ready for after, when I won't be able to get down the stairs for 4-6 weeks.  I have been doing a lot of LWI dyeing, but have had trouble getting pastel shades.  this means that there is a lot of fabric with strong colours and a lot of variegation.  I plan to attempt to make some whole cloth pieces out of it, firstly to practice my FMQ'g, and secondly to try to get a piece well enough done, to enter in the LQG show next March.  The back of my work is often less than show worthy.  Not a problem when it is displayed as art, as I add a false back, but a problem if it is to be judged.

The plan is to use  a vinyl overlay on the fabric itself, so that I can design the actual quilting so that it works with the colour variegation in the fabric. By using a water soluble marker, on the vinyl, I can make any necessary corrections quite easily.  So I picked up the vinyl, and markers today.   i will start one , to validate the technique, and then be ready to go at the end of the month.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Show is now hung

And what is getting the most attention?  Icarus' Dream!  These are mainly artists, and they have been approaching me with their comments, so I have to accept the compliments at face value.  I have not received any comment on any other piece.  While hanging, several other artists told me quite firmly that my prices were too low, but I had time to raise them a bit.  There are two more days of the show.  Maybe something will actually sell.