Triptych

Looking back about 10 years I am amazed at the amount of work I was producing. Lately each piece has taken months to complete. Life is more complicated right now. Maybe my creative energy is waning.

The triptych is for an online exhibit by the Mountain Art Quilters. I’ve been playing around with names. Even though its a triptych I wanted each piece to be able to stand alone, The center panel is 20″ x 20″. Each side panel is 12″ x 20″.

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Months in the Making

I don’t remember it ever taking me this long to finish a quilt. I began Moon Dance in August. The theme is similar to one I made in 2009 called Ghost Birds.

I vaguely remember looking at the shibori fabric and deciding to make another Sandhill Crane piece. I had to two pieces of hand-dyed fabric pinned to the design wall while I worked out the composition. This photo is dated August 14th!

October and much of November I work on a commission. Once I returned to Moon Dance it seemed I had a new challenge with each step. The finished piece is 35″ x 35″. I used both my new Brother Sashiko machine and my Viking to quilt it. The last element to go in was the fused silk organza marsh plants.

And now onto something new… I hope.

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November is Nearly Over

This post is way overdue. I wish I could say it is because I’ve been so productive but that’s not the case. I’ve been stalled. Lacking ideas and any creative energy. I finished my piece for the Fair Oaks Cancer Center last month and mailed it off. Its being framed prior to installation. I like the larger 36″ x 36″ format better than the original 18″ x 24″.

If You Plant it They Will Come

Moon Dance is slowly, slowly taking shape. The crane bodies are assembled and fused to parchment until the background is quilted.

And that’s the hang up right now. I have a plan for the quilting but I need to practice more. I recently purchased the Babylock Sashiko machine. Its a one-trick pony but what it does is beautiful. I love the look of hand quilting, particularly big stitch but my hands cannot do it This machine will. I’ve been practicing on muslin sandwiches:

Playing with various stitch lengths, etc. The longest learning curve involved threading and inserting the bobbin correctly. The machine only uses a bobbin thread and has a barbed needle and the arm that picks up the thread. Pretty amazing to watch. The manual recommended 30 wt. thread so I ordered a bunch. Luckily I only opened one spool because this machine does NOT like it. Spoke to Superior Threads and they verified it so I am using 40 wt. Now that that’s clear up I am ready so quilt with it. I’m going to start on this small collaborative piece that’s been waiting for lightning to strike for over a year.

I want to just have fun with it. Then I plan to stitch the marsh background on Moon Dance.

Several members of the local SAQA group, Mountain Art Quilters are joining in a Visioning Project for 2021. My vision is to master the Sashiko machine in order to incorporate the stitch into my art. I’m sketching out preliminary plans to achieve that.

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October Already

Despite all the limitation we face right now the days are flying by!

wip — Commission 36″ x 36″

The Backyard Escape piece resulted in a commission from a hospital in Virginia. They selected 12 quilts from the Backyard Escape portfolio to be interpreted as square in a larger size. I love a square format and so far the design is working to my satisfaction. Luckily I had additional ice-dyed fabric that I was able to piece for a similar background. I need to add leaves to the Veronica. Then cut and applique the Butterfly weed. The first quilt had 2 butterflies. This may want more. It will tell me how many.

Last weekend I participated in a small outdoor art show in a private community. It was a perfect October day. So enjoyable to be out with people even wearing masks and “social distancing”.

Now its back to the commission. I want to work on the crane piece but that needs to wait its turn.

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Three steps forward and two steps back

The International Crane Foundation has been presenting Zoom sessions on cranes for the past few months. The sessions on Sandhill Cranes prompted me to make yet another crane inspired piece.

The background fabrics are my own hand-dyes. I’m slowly working with the composition.

I build each crane on a piece of parchment so I can move them around. I’ve re-done a couple of them more than once. I’m still not set on the number and size of each, so the background is pinned and not yet quilted. I may decide to change the size/shape.

Yes, the legs are missing. They are thin and fragile. I plan to make them from a non-woven interfacing that I will paint black. Betty Busby does this and I hope it will work for me.

I’ll keep plugging away until I have a composition I like. Any suggestions?

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If You Plant it…

they will come.

My pollinator garden is my field of dreams. I started it last summer as soon as we had a slew of overgrown Leland Cypress trees removed from the middle of the back yard. I fought with the weeds and the heavy clay soil. I planted several butterfly bushes, black eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Veronica, Joe Pye Weed, etc. I learned that southern weeds are much more aggressive than northern Michigan weeds. Plus lots of them have thorns.

Most of my perennials came back this spring. The weeds were quickly overtaking them. I found a great landscaper who cleaned the beds, put down landscape cloth and bark dust. What a difference. I am continuing to fill in with new plants. I came home from the nursery yesterday with more two varieties of Crocosmia (for the hummingbirds), Phlox and Coreopsis. I hope to plant them tomorrow since its nearly 90 degrees this afternoon.

It doesn’t look like much from a distance (the deck) but enough is blooming to attract the pollinators. The butterflies, hummingbirds and hummingbird moths have all shown up as well as several variety of bees. In the fall we’ll move some the rhododendrons to allow for more light–and more space for flowers.

Butterfly weed, Joe Pye Weed, Veronica and dwarf goldenrod all blooming.
Black eyed Susans and Purple Coneflower, three butterfly bushes

This is is what I hope a corner of it will look like next summer:

If You Plant it 18″ x 24″

I hope to find out if it will be selected to travel with the “Backyard Escape” exhbit.

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Ready for Butterflies

I think black butterflies, some kind of Swallowtail.

Working on this has been a joy. With luck it will be selected to travel and might bring a little bit of joy into a hospital.

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Dog Days of Summer

Its been hot here. I guess its hot all over. My days have developed a fairly steady rhythm that begins with a 2 mile walk with my dog, Bridget. We get out early while its still cool and we have the benefit of shade along the pretty country road which is our favorite walk. Then, depending on the day, it either out to the yard for weeding and watering or down to the studio for my online yoga practice. So I usually don’t get to work until after lunch, if at all.

I finished the “Gypsy Baby” which will be donated to the Asheville Quilt Guild Silent Auction during out 2021 Quilt Show. Like most events, our 2020 show is cancelled.

Gypsy Baby 16″ x 23.5″

I finally got around to sewing the sleeve on a piece I made last spring at the beginning of the pandemic. We’d been seeing gorgeous sunrises every day which inspired “A Brighter Day”. I used a lot of my own hand-dyed and discharged fabrics.

A Brighter Day 27″ x 46″

I have been stumbling around trying to start something new. Last week I happened upon a call for quilts for the Sacred Threads Back Yard Escape Exhibit which will travel to several hospitals and some quilt shows. I am passionate about art in hospitals so I was inspired to start something even though the deadline is less than 3 weeks away.

The best part of my own backyard is my pollinator garden so I chose 3 flowers from it, Veronica, Purple Coneflower, and Butterfly Weed. I’m using one of my ice dyed fabric for the background.

I’ve assembled the flower clusters, fused onto freezer paper and pinned more or less where they will be fused after the background is quilted. I’ll free-cut the stems and leaves at that time.

The butterfly (or butterflies) will be created once the flowers are fused and stitched. They will tell me what kind of butterfly they want to visit.

If (big if) there is time, I’d like to try a second quilt. I have an idea but it will wait until this is done. I need one to make the deadline. But having a new idea is a good thing.

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Now the difficult part

I’ve pretty much squared up the Gypsy Wife quilt. I may tweak it a bit more but for now I’m enjoying it on the design wall. Its a happy quilt.

I’ve had a hard time getting started on anything new. I have at least 3 challenges I’ve been invited to participate in. All three have good themes and doable perimeters. Still I find myself stuck in coming up with a idea for any of them.

So I set to work on a mini version of a Gypsy Wife type quilt to donate to the 2021 Asheville Quilt Guild’s Silent Auction. I am in charge of the function at the show and need to write something (anything!) monthly in our newsletter. When I finish this I can write about it and invite members to send photos of their donations.

Also I thought by just working I may get inspired to begin one of the challenges or at least start on the next pollinator piece. So far lightning has not struck.

I enjoyed making the blocks, particularly the new ones. Playing with bright colors is just plain fun. Now the difficult part: figuring out the strips and the placement. The quilt needs to be no larger than 24″ x 24″. I started by using my small portable design board and sort of winging it. I see that I may need to get out the graph paper.

My goal is to have it quilted by next week. Wish me luck.

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Gypsy Wife Assembled

I meant to post this on Monday but had a little runaway kitty incident. I found him up a tree in the woods behind the house, after hopping the fence, tripping over vines and cutting myself up rather badly. When he saw me he came down on his own and is safe at home.

The Gypsy Wife quilt is pieced. The last section gave me fits. Isn’t that always the case. I am not sure yet if it will square up and lie flat. For now it is “resting” on the design wall. The long-arm quilter thinks she can take it in July or August. Glad I am not attempting to quilt this myself.

In the meantime I finished the binding and sleeve for a small abstract for a group challenge. The group was intrigued with the catalogue from the Studio Art Quilt Associates “Sightlines” exhibit (2010-2013). https://www.saqa.com/art/saqa-exhibitions/exhibition-archives

They decided take a slightly different route. Essentially the pieces were to “connect” via a black line that was 3/4″ when it entered and exited the piece. The line could change size and move wherever it pleased within the composition. Unfortunately for me I was not at the meeting where this was decided and had no say in these rules. You can probably tell from my tone that I did not like the rules but apparently everyone else was fine with them so I had no choice but to go along.

The piece which may be called “A Brighter Day” resisted the line. I still need to put a binding on this one.

27″ x 46″

Here’s a picture of my little runaway, Magnum PI. He’s a good studio cat. Doesn’t get into my fabric or even my yarn.

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