Monday, February 28, 2011

My Ugly Alders

Our current color palette over at Twelve by Twelve is brown, blue and sage.  I was a little behind getting started on this challenge so I dedicated the last week to playing with those colors.  The view out my art room window actually follows the palette on a good day (its mostly gray when the sun isn't shining) so I tried sketching with the sewing machine the alders across the street.  It turned out very messy, but that's how they look.  I don't find them a very pretty tree, especially in winter.  This is the first time I have tried to actually draw a picture while free motion quilting, so I gave myself a lot of freedom and just went with the flow. 

After stitching, I pulled out the paints.  I went with the obvious -- blue sky, green ground and brown trees.  I actually like how the paint flowed to the back better than the front.  The tension was a little off if a few places though, creating a big loopy mess so I decided to stick with the front as the front.  After finishing the beading, I think I should have just gone with the back as the front -- the loopy mess would have just added to the effect. But what is done is done and I'm not about to pull out all those beads.

Next, I added green beads to the branches for a little sparkle of the sun.  Working on the commission had inspired me to do a little more beading.  I had forgotten how meditative it can be.  Plus, I didn't use any fabric paper so it was easy to stitch through. 

Originally, I planned to cut the piece down to 12 inches square to fit the challenge, but the the trees were a little too tall and I thought the piece worked better with its current proportions.   Besides, I have a couple other quilts for the reveal tomorrow that I like much better.  In the end, this isn't one of my favorites.  It could use a bit more of a focal point (perhaps why I like the back better than the front) but it was a fun experiment and something I am going to try more of in the future.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Off to Art-O-Mat They Go

 After finishing up my commission, I switched to the opposite size extreme and made a bunch of pieces for Art-O-Mat.  These little pieces have been on the back burner for a while.  I forgot how much fun they are to create.  Plus life at Art-O-Mat has been rather busy.  One of the busiest machine is at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.  There machine sells over 100 little piece of art a day, making for a nice check for the artists.  I'm also excited whenever I find out my work has been in the Whitney Museum  or the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Plus, I just notice that they have a machine in Cairns, Austraila and Vienna, Austria .  As far as I know none of my work has travelled that far, but maybe one of these days I can check it out in person. 

Above are some of the "Dreams" pieces created with fabric beads -- each little scroll representing a dream hidden inside.  Below is my "I Felt" series.  I use hand dyed wool felt, ribbons, embellishments and a fun little word.  I love coming up with different words and then trying to match embellishments to the feelings.

 For my "Bits and Pieces" series I created these colorful little quilts from the scraps trimmed from my commission. I love how I can take what would normally be thrown away and transform it into a little piece of beauty. 

Finally, these are the pieces that I made from the Pizza Planet fabrics and fabric paper.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Glorious Overcoming

Here is my final quilt for the commission.  I'm still working on the perfect title, but it is about overcoming the stuggles in glory.  There is life after the pain and it is beautiful.  All the nasties will be transformed and used for good. 

I used gold thread for the quilting and painted the background in a beautiful rainbow.  The circles come in all colors and are ringed with glass beads.  Copper tape forms the stems.  All the beading took much longer than I expected.  Pushing a needle through several layers of thick fabric paper was a real challenge.  I ended up pre-poking the holes with the sewing machine.  I still managed to stab myself numerous times, but kept the blood off the quilt.  I love how the quilt turned out -- it just sparkles.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hope in the Storm

"Hope in the Storm" 24"x30"
With all the excitment about the book coming, I didn't have a chance to finish blogging about my commission.  This is my third piece in the series.  After the carefree nature of childhood and the craziness of being an adult, this piece deals with the struggles we face when life throws us a curveball.  Life isn't always pleasant, filled with bright color and energy.  The storms come.  Within those storms, I tried to convey hope and the sense that we are not alone despite how it may feel.     

Working with such dark, muted colors was a step out of my comfort zone.  I began free motion quilting with black thread and then painted the fabric with watered down black paint.  The result was a dark gray, which I then painted over with dark purples, blues and greens.  The background was still too dark, so I added metallic paints and a touch of watercolor crayons. The effect was a very blustery feeling.  I wanted to main circle to be the focal point and not too depressing, so I used a bright yellow-orange with the more muted red and purples.  I then added the additional small circles and copper washers.  When I first layed them out the piece looked more like a fertility quilt.  After rearranging them, I hope that isn't the first impression.  My goal is for them to be points of light shining in an otherwise challenging environment.  They could also be challenges that have the potential to sparkle in one's life.   Finally, I finished the edge with a dark purple varigated yarn and copper thread.

"Hope in the Storm" Detail

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Me and My Book


Monday, I was on my way out to lunch with my husband for Valentine's Day. I stayed home until the last possible minute just in case the UPS truck came. I really didn't want him to leave my precious package on the porch since it was raining cats and dogs. No truck, so I headed out. But what was that across the highway? A big, brown truck. I had to check. And the driver knew right away that he had a package for me. No more waiting. I was able to get the box right off the truck. Then of course I had to drive all the way down to Bainbridge before I could open the box. I was able to open the box at the office and almost cried as I flipped through it. As we headed to lunch I was so excited that I had a beer just to calm down. I still can't really believe it. I'm a real author. Of all the things in life I thought I might do when I was young, write a book wasn't one of them. Life so often takes you on a path you were never expecting and I am so glad that it does!

The front of the book. That's my chocolate quilt in the lower right hand corner.

The back of the book with my hands free motion quilting.

Here's my chapter, Chocolate.

And here is my house looking so clean. I don't think it has looked that good since. What doesn't show in the picture is the boxes of stuff I stashed in the garage so everything would look tidy.

Now I just need to find the time to sit down and read the whole thing cover to cover.

For those of you who would like to order a signed, by me, copy please let me know via email and I will send you a paypal invoice. I am selling them for $20 plus $5 shipping within the United States. With every order I will include a bookmark featuring my original quilted inchies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Suspense is Killing Me

Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge is due to be released March 1st or at least that was what we were told. Imagine my excitement when I awoke this morning to an email sharing the news that it is now available online at Amazon. I'm actually a real, published author. I'm still in a little shocked disbelief, especially since I haven't even seen a copy of the book. I know they are out there and there have been sightings. But I'm still waiting, and waiting, and WAITING! for my author copies to arrive. The suspense is killing me.

Okay, maybe I wont die, but I'm certainly not getting much done as I spend my time looking down the driveway hoping to catch a glimpse of a big brown truck. The experience emotionally feels a lot like waiting for each of the kids to be born -- waiting for months was fine, but these last few days are torture! The more I think about it the less patience I have. I have no idea when the book will actually arrive. I just know it will be soon. The distributor didn't give any kind of notice or tracking. The first member of our group received hers on Tuesday. She lives in Maryland and the books are shipping from New Jersey, so it makes sense. It typically takes a week for a package to cross the country, so most likely us west coast girls wont get ours until next week. I know I shouldn't get my hopes up. But I really don't want to wait that long. How can anyone expect me to wait the whole weekend. It's just not right. I really do need to find something to distract myself. But... Maybe, just maybe, that next rubble sound I hear will be him. With my book!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!!!!

This is my second quilt for the commission. I was capturing the feeling of my current stage of life. Everything is crazy. Kids, Spouse, Home, Career, Friends, Hobbies, Hopes, Desires. So many good things all going in a million directions. Often it can just feel out of control and life is starting to fly away. I really love the colors in this quilt and the fun embellishments. The star washers and coiled wire are perfect for that extra little craziness.
Yesterday I took all four quilts down to the interior designer who commissioned the pieces for the Peninsula Cancer Center. She loved them! I can't tell you what a big sign of relief that was. I didn't realize how nervous I was until I got in the car to go home and was overcome with exhaustion. These are the biggest art quilts I have ever done and even though she said she loved the pictures I was scared they would be disappointing in real life. Her happiness was a big confidence boost. Plus, she said she is working with another cancer center in eastern Washington and she is going to recommend me to them. Whoohoo!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Youthful Energy!

I am just about finished with the commission! I am so happy to be on the home stretch now that I just need to cut them to size and finish the edges. It has been a busy three and a half weeks. I probably was crazy to think that I could finish in such a short time, but I wanted to make everyone happy and I have other projects that I want to start on. I was moving along at a pretty good clip until I remembered how long hand work can take. Beading through thick layers of fabric paper is not an easy task.

Youthful Energy (or perhaps a different title since I haven't finalized everything) is the first in the series. I wanted to capture childhood and its carefree nature. I went with light, bright colors and silver thread. I tried to find large flat beads with a hole in the center, but had no luck. Instead, I added circles of hand dyed wool felt to give the beads a little more presence. I also thought the soft felt was fitting for childhood when life tends to be a little softer in nature. When I first stitched down the yarn strings I was a little worried, but after living with it for a week I'm liking the effect and the four quilts together are very fun.