Sunday, January 21, 2018

First Quilt of 2018

When I left to go to International Quilt Festival in Houston last fall my design wall was entirely blank.  I had anticipated coming home as I always do, full of excitement, energy and enthusiasm.  The empty design wall would allow me to start a new project without any preconceived ideas of what I was going to do.  A nice, clean, empty palette.

However, my balloon of enthusiasm was punctured as soon as I got home.  Because of a family crisis, in the subsequent two months, November 5 through January 3, I was home exactly 18 days.

During each of those short visits home I was weary and depressed.  But I decided to go up to my studio every day nonetheless.  The first time, I sat at my sewing machine and stared at the empty design wall.  And I cleaned the studio.  You would not believe how clean my studio was!  And, frankly,  I moped.  But as the days went on, I found that the studio was the place to help work through my depression.  I started to pull fabrics, shades of blue, black, rust and gray, and to make strip sets.  At the end of the first week home I had made a ton of strip sets.  And had cut them into pieces.  I left my design wall looking like this.  None of it was sewn together:
During the next visit home, I sewed a few more chunks of the quilt.  And sewed the top section together:
 And right before we left for Maryland for Christmas, the piece looked like this:
The bottom half is not sewn together in this picture.

When we got home after New Years I was feeling more like myself.  I moved some of the bottom chunks around and made some more.  And hung up some mini Cleveland Browns pennants my brother had given me for Christmas.  It's a very festive look, and it made me smile:
 And this last week, I sewed it all together.  It is not quilted yet, of course, and it is currently 33"w x 52"h.  And I think I rather like it.
I have named this piece "Turmoil."  Working on it helped calm the chaos in my mind and soul, and, although it may not be the best quilt I've ever made, it may end up being one of the most important.  It's the quilt that gave me back my creativity.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Launch of my 30 Day Creativity Project

My quilt art critique group, NTAQ, started a 30 day creativity challenge on Monday.  Each day each member will make something new, quick and original.  Bethany, for example, is trying out a new machine quilting pattern every day and assembling the results into a reference book.  Michelle plans to do a quick collage each day.  I, however, needed to think about what I wanted to do.

I decided to make a new journal, hoping that the exercise would give me some idea of what I wanted to commit to for the month.  So I got out my stash of Japanese decorative papers, some book board and a pile of hand made paper and made a journal.
I hadn't made a journal in ages.  I took a book making class ten years ago, and I had to look up how to sew the binding, but I enjoyed the process.
 I couldn't leave the first page plain.  So I decorated it.
When digging through my bookmaking box I found a box of stamp carving blocks.  I had ordered them from Dick Blick years ago.   And I had forgotten all about them.
So I decided to make my book a book of original stamp patterns.  Each day I will carve a stamp, and I will print it into my book.   I assembled my materials:
I drew my pattern:
I carved the pattern, keeping in mind that the lines I cut out would not print.  On this block, only the background will print.
Using craft acrylic paint, I inked my block and printed it on a piece of white cardstock.  I glued the cardstock into the journal:
I decided to print on card stock because the papers in the book are much too porous.  I was afraid the acrylic paint would spread.  Besides, I liked the look of the white cardstock agains the ivory paper.

I'll be posting my daily creative effort on Instagram.  Click here to see them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I'm off to Japan this weekend!

I'm very excited!  I'm heading to Japan this weekend for a tour with Melissa Sobotka.  It is going to be fabulous!

Brian and I went to Japan with my brother-in-law in 2014.  Bruce was in love with Japanese culture and food and had been to Japan many times.  He was the perfect tour guide.  And he had amassed a large collection of Japanese antiques and art.  I loved his dining room with the tatami mat and traditional Japanese table and chairs.  We had many wonderful meals in that room!
He loved and collected Japanese art and furniture:
And he planted quite a few Japanese maples in his yard:
My own kitchen has a bit of Japanese flair: 
And Brian and I often cook Japanese-inspired meals.  First visiting the local Mitsuwa Marketplace:
A trip to Mitsuwa always includes lunch at one of the Japanese restaurants there:
Shopping there is so fun.  Brian came home with 5 types of mushrooms last weekend.  They were delicious!
My Japanese trip is a fiber focussed tour, and several of my friends are going.  It's going to be fabulous!  I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Finally! The first post of 2018!

2018 got off to a rough start, but I'm back!  Finally over the flu and back in Fort Worth.  And, maybe, finally back at work.

The monthly NTAQ meeting, as always, was inspirational and thoroughly enjoyable.  Our challenge for January was to create a fiber piece inspired by this piece by Georges Braque, a 20th century Parisian painter:  
Georges Braque, "The Echo," 1960
 The six members attending the meeting had wildly different interpretations of the piece.  Wendy (bottom center) focussed on a small portion of the painting (the area around the red triangle on the bottom right), several members played with the stylized branch near the top of the painting, and some (me, upper right) just grabbed some fabrics and started slashing and sewing.
Here is my piece.  It is 15"w x 19"h.  And, honestly, it's pretty dreadful.  I just slashed, sewed, slashed, sewed and slashed until I ran out of time.  But the last two months have been personally dreadful (I'm going to sum it up by saying it featured two funerals and the flu) and I was happy to have something to show at the meeting.  And, I have to say, it felt good to sew.
I might like it better if I cropped most of it away and made it into a post card sized piece.:
I think what I like best are the twiggy white lines on the black that runs across the bottom of the piece. If I cropped it further, they might be even more of a focal point:
Or I could slash it even more:
Ah, the magic of photoshop.  I like this best so far.  I may need to get out the rotary cutter....

There were other wonderful things shown at the meeting.  Bethany had been busy ice dyeing folded fabric.  She got some fabulous results:
 Wendy made a piece using shot cottons:
Jaye showed a gorgeous hand painted, hand stitched century plant quilt:
Michelle showed this cool piece.  The background is the wrong side of an upholstery fabric, the woven section and the scattered gold flecks are made of twist ties.
The group decided to do a 30 Day challenge.  One small creative effort per day.  Once I decide what I'm doing, I'll post my daily effort on Instagram.  

I have been in the studio a bit during the last couple of weeks.  Working for an hour or two when I had the energy.  Piecing this:
The little Cleveland Browns pennants were a Christmas gift from my brother.  I thought they enhanced the quilt.  Complimentary colors, and all of that.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas is closer than you think...

The last month has flown by, but I haven't had any studio time.  And now Christmas is sneaking up on me!
In my defense, in the last month I have spent two weeks in Maryland, working on Bruce's house getting it ready to sell, and one week in New Jersey, visiting Pop, attending a memorial service for Bruce, and visiting with old friends and cousins.
Brian and Pop
Grief is a funny thing.  In college, I took a class based on Elizabeth Kubler Ross' book On Death and Dying.  At the age of 19, death was certainly an abstract concept, and I found it academically interesting, but of course not personally applicable.  At 19, Brian (who was then my boyfriend, now my husband) and I were going to live forever.  My parents, although I thought of them as "old" (they were in their forties -- ancient!) were going to be with me forever.  But of course that is not true.  Loss is inevitable and is a part of life.  It is funny, though, as I lose each loved person, I find that I really do go through the stages of grief outlined by Kubler Ross.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Not necessarily in a linear progression, but I have experienced all of them.  And although acceptance does finally arrive, sadness occaisionally comes creeping back.

I am ready to move into acceptance.  I think I'm almost there.  I didn't think I would be interested in celebrating Christmas this year, but much to my surprise I find that I am.  It's time to dig out a few decorations, write a few Christmas cards, wrap a few presents and shop for a few stocking stuffers.  And time to cherish those I love.  

Season greetings!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Texas Quilts: Art in Stitch Opens at Texas Tech

Texas Quilts: Art in Stitch, which opened in Abilene last September, has opened at the museum at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Tuning Fork #11 (red and gray quilt) with dinosaurs!
More Dinos and quilts.  Magnetic attraction is on this side of the gallery.
I am thrilled to have two of my pieces hanging in this show.  And to have them hanging with dinosaurs is a thrill.
Tuning Fork #11, far right
Magnetic Attraction, bottom left
Today's Quilts: Art in Stitch will be exhibited at the Museum from November 22, 2017 thru February 18, 2018. More than 30 pieces by 22 quilt artists are included. The SAQA Regional exhibit was curated by Gay Young and juried by Brenda Wyatt.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Bruce, me, Brian in Japan, Christmas Day, 2014
An hour after I arrived home from Houston I received a terrible phone call.  My brother-in-law, Brian's identical twin, had died at his home in Maryland.  It was sudden.  It was unexpected.  And it was a horrid blow.

Bruce and Brian were very very close.  Naturally.  I don't entirely understand the "twin bond," but it was eerie how much they thought alike.  And acted alike.  Brian is inconsolable.

At the moment, we are trying to keep moving.  Brian is the executor of the will and there is so much to do.  The pain is there, bubbling to the surface periodically, but working keeps it temporarily at bay.  Yesterday, I even spent a few hours in the studio.  Grabbing the scraps from my last project, cutting, sewing, ironing, not thinking.  The piece in progress is looking very jagged.  Echoing the turmoil in my head.

It will get better, I know it will.  And we will get through the overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done.  But Bruce, we will miss you.  The world will never be the same.

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