Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

Feather Play I
(16" x 16")
Inspiration for this little art quilt came from several terrific sources. During a workshop in May, quilt artist Sharon Schamber encouraged me to include more texture in my quilting by adding small scale stitches to the larger motifs. And quilt artist and fellow blogger Jill Buckley posted a lovely piece of work to her site that helped push me in the right direction. I asked Jill's permission to adopt her idea and blog about it.
I then referenced Mary Nordeng's Extreme Makeover: Feather Edition, a gem of a book which I purchased from Kim Brunner's web site, and I adapted one of Mary's sketches for my design. I auditioned a number of different micro-stippling patterns inside the feathers; in the end, I decided to use just one pattern repeated in each feather.

I used my lightbox to transfer the design to the fabric; then I pulled out the 30-weight and 40-weight rayon threads and began stitching.

I had so much fun playing with this technique, but it did take me some time to complete the piece because I work so s-l-o-w-l-y. I wouldn't want you to hear the sound of my machine as I quilt -- a friend who took a class with me told me that she thought I could probably hand-quilt faster than I was machine-quilting. Watching me stitch is as exciting as watching grass grow. But I do find that quilting is meditative for me -- works better than sitting in the lotus position and chanting "ohm."
So, I say "thank you" to Jill for her inspiration and to all of you who follow my blog and send along great words of support -- you lift my spirits.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Little Art Quilter That Could: The Presentation

I am now officially into Phase II of my commission for four art quilts, and I will be documenting my journey for the SAQA Visioning Project. If you're a member of SAQA, you can follow the progress of all the participants here; I'm so excited about this venture that I wanted to share it on my blog, as well.
Since the quilts are to be hung in Shaker-style residences, I submitted five different drawings of Amish-themed quilts, from which the contractors chose the Monkey Wrench design, pictured above. They gave me the color palette, and I put together my presentation board, pictured below, with a Photoshop-designed image of the quilt, fabric swatches, and samples of quilting motifs attached.

The design has been approved, and the fabrics have been ordered. I chose Kaufman's Kona cotton solids because I felt they would coordinate well with the upholstery and carpet patterns already in the homes.
The quilt tops will be pieced, of course, and I'm auditioning different threads to find a strong one that will create the least amount of bulk in the seam allowance. What's your favorite thread for piecing? I'd welcome your input.
Thank you for sharing in this journey with me -- it should be an exciting ride!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Early Holiday Present . . .

. . . from me to me! (And don't I deserve it?!) I found a shop on, called Dye Candy, through a link posted by Jackie at Canton Village Quilt Works. The owner, Chris Daly, sells some amazing hand-dyed fabrics, and I absolutely couldn't resist this gradation called Autumn Colorways. An idea for a quilt has been percolating in my brain for a while now, and these colors should be just perfect in the design.
And what a treat to receive the package! It really was an early Christmas present. Chris sent along a card with this beautiful photograph attached to the front and a hand-written note inside, as well as two lollipops for my sweet tooth (how did she ever know?).
I always wash my hand-dyeds just in case there are any residual dyes left behind, but I needn't have worried with these -- Chris does an amazing job with her rinsing process, and these fabrics were totally colorfast.
Visit her shop when you get the chance -- you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

That Little Voice Inside . . .

On the relatively few days of beautiful summer weather this year, I would pick out a cherished quilting book and retreat to the backyard hammock. One of my all-time favorites is Judy Dales' "Curves in Motion," a superbly written and illustrated collection of techniques and projects accompanied by photos of Judy's amazing quilts (visit her web-site here). I was fortunate to have taken a week-long workshop from this talented artist, and her generous spirit, meticulous attention to detail, and unique wit are alive on every page of her book.
Much of what Judy has written about is inspirational, and several passages resonate with me as I strive to become better at creating art quilts:
"Judging your efforts too early in the design process is inappropriate and counter-productive, but it is something that we all tend to do," she writes. "It is almost as if there is a little judgmental person inside us who is supercritical and constantly ridicules our efforts. This little person has an important function in real life, which is to warn us of danger and help us make decisions that keep us safe. . . However, when you are trying to be creative, it is important to ignore all those annoying warnings. . . Tell your little judgmental person to go sit in the corner while you work. . . Keep him quiet for now so that you can work without inhibitions and worry, and capture a spirit of playfulness and adventure."
Great advice, isn't it? So, off I go to practice what Judy preaches, although it isn't easy for me to refrain from critiquing myself as I create. Please share with me any advice you have about training yourself to work freely -- what techniques work for you?
And may you always capture your sense of play as you continually enter your world of creativity.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

And the Winners Are:

Thank you all so much for participating in my little give-away. It was heartwarming to receive such kind and supportive messages. I printed out all your lovely comments, folded them, and placed them into a bag from which my Top Administrative Assistant chose two names. And the winners are:
Concetta and Geralyn!
Congratulations, ladies! If you'll each send your address to, I'll send out your notecards lickety-split.
A post-script to one of my previous entries: On my post entitled The Creative Process: The Zig and The Zag, Janet wrote:

Diane, do you use a stabilizer on the back when you do your appliqué?
And how do you wash your quilts?
I always use a stabilizer when I appliqué; I prefer Pellon Fusible Shirtailor in either the light or medium weight, and I iron it onto both the appliqué pieces and the background fabric. After the appliqué piece is sewn, I cut away the background behind the appliqué to keep the background color from shadowing through and to reduce bulk. You can read more about this part of the process by clicking here.
Since my quilts are meant to hang on the wall, I never wash them. However, I always pre-wash the hand-dyed fabrics that I use, so that if the iron decides to spit during pressing, there won't be any chance of bleeding colors. Other than that, the only time I go near the washing machine is to wash clothes -- and I'm certain that my husband is taking in laundry from the neighbors, because I can't believe that two people are this dirty . . .
Again, my thanks to all of you for reading my blog -- your support and encouragement mean so much to me.



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