An Artist's Quest

Posts tagged “freemotion quilting

Making Connections…


whole quilt

I Spy quilt made using 20 original stencils and gel plate print technique

Those of you who follow me know that I’ve got a million ideas and time for about 10 at a time. Some times my ideas are bigger than me and I don’t always reach out to make the connections I need to take an idea to another level. Because really there aren’t a whole lot of things we can do all by ourselves, and frankly, that’s a good thing. When we try to do things all on our own we don’t have the power of community, the power of family, the power of partnership – so things can only go so far. I’ve had this idea – well to be honest it’s not totally my idea – it’s an idea I’m borrowing and putting my own spin on.  It’s an idea that is all about connecting – connecting on so many levels… let me try to explain.

close up multicards

Detail of quilt and matching cards

A few years ago I crossed the path of a woman making an “I Spy” quilt. Do you remember the game “I spy with my little eye”….? It started out as a game to pass the time especially on road trips, clues are given and the guessers guess until they get it right. So an “I Spy” quilt has blocks with different animals or object in each printed square of store bought fabric (Goggle it you’ll see some examples on Etsy). So the “I spy” game on a quilt is like the original but it’s a conversation piece for parent and child. It could also be a way to teach attachment parenting and build language skills (you might have guessed in another life I was preschool teacher).  So what if there could be a connection made between quilt guilds – who love to make quilts – and early childhood learning organizations for families in need?

I liked the quilt idea but I wanted the images to be more cohesive and original. So I created 20 silhouette stencils for a farm and garden theme quilt. Each block is a gelli print on cotton then stitched together. I had multiple prints of each block and my husband made the connection that a second matching game could happen. When I showed a friend she thought perhaps the words could be in Spanish (or I guess no words just instructions in multiple languages…might be better). What if I made this into a kit for quilt groups and friends to get together and print and make the quilts to share in their community? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful connection? These are my ideas – a few of millions – I think to really make this idea go anywhere I need to connect with all of you – any ideas? Do you have any connections? I spy with my little eye…. connections happening, wheels turning,  community in action…. let me know your thoughts.


Listening to the Landscape

Another of my aerial quilts which doesn't show the fog or the steam or the starlings I talk about but does show the vast beautiful landscape. Drawn on the ipad - printed on fabric and freemotion stitched. Russian River valley -Summer vines

Another of my aerial quilts which doesn’t show the fog or the steam or the starlings I talk about but does show the vast beautiful landscape. Drawn on the ipad – printed on fabric and freemotion stitched. Russian River valley -Summer vines

I didn’t sleep very well last night so I almost talked myself out of my morning hike but I rallied after some oatmeal and a big mug of coffee to take a loop through the woods and out into a hilly clearing that provides vista’s to the east, west and south. The morning fog lay over the river and steam was rising from the dry grass hill as the suns rays warmed the frosted grey-brown grass. I sat on a near by bench facing the Northeast to watch and listen and breathe. The first sound I took note of was the distant road noise and marveled at the low hum. Then I watched the fog lifting its lacy fingers releasing the Russian river from its nights embrace, in the distance a murmur of starlings swooped across the valley and out of my line of sight. Then before I could see them I heard them behind and above, a rush of sound as blood and bone and feather worked to move wing and beating heart on and away out of sight again. The sun won the day- fog drifted, steam lifted and I rose by blood and bone and long limb to walk into my day. Strengthened by the reminder that I am part of the great net of life, one strand in the vast universe, one with the fog and the sun and starling.

Detail of stitch.

Detail of stitch.

What Price ART? My eternal struggle with what is the value of my art….

Art Quilt from the Peace Series (for sale now at my Etsy shop)

Art Quilt from the Peace Series (for sale now at my Etsy shop)

I have always had trouble assigning a price to my art. I believe strongly that art should be a part of everyone’s life that why long ago I framed the following “the why cheap art manifesto” that my sister gave me decades ago:

213.what price art

I’m sharing this because I have always struggled with what price to charge for my art. On the one hand I want the art to be accessible to lots of people and on the other hand I want to feel like my time and skill are being duly valued. Some people have said I don’t charge enough for my art but I want people to have it- If I make it and it just sits in a box under my bed then what’s the point!? So I have come up with a formula that feels ok to me. I loosely keep track of my time per piece then price the art the same way I would price a free lance graphic design or art teaching seminar, by the hour this seems fair to me, it values my time and it the price reasonable (I hope). So now I would like to introduce my Etsy Shop where I have my art quilts from the most recent “Peace” series to others I think you will recognize from the blog. I hope you will check it out! Thanks for your support and pass this link on to others you think might like my work.

Detail for

Detail for “Peace Be With You” art quilt

A Stitch’n Week

Quilter, friend and blog follower doing some hand work - A long shot of the Pavilion with machines and fabric everywhere!

Quilter, friend and blog follower doing some hand work – A long shot of the Pavilion with machines and fabric everywhere!

I spent the last 5 days stitching till I dropped. The Bishop’s Ranch hosted it’s 4th annual Quilt Retreat and the place was packed with sewing machines, fabric, thread, creativity and inspiration. The retreat is designed so folks come and work on any project they want there aren’t any instructors or product pitches each person does their own thing if you want input there are lots of skilled women to give their two cents worth but if you just want to stitch and do your thing no one tells you you’re doing it wrong. For the 3rd year in a row my mom came to sew, she worked on a quilt top of beautiful batiks I of course brought a huge stack of things to work on. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while may have seen some of these images. In the last year I have had the chance to fly an number of times and started taking photos out the window at take off then I spend the flight drawing the aerial view using the Brushes app on my iPad. These I had printed on lovely cotton Sateen at, then I stitched and stitched and stitched……they are about 30×40 inches and I think they look great. I need to block them, all that stitching made them a little warped an wonkie (if any one has some tips on blocking please, please share!) When I have them flattened out I’ll trim and bind and make them ready to hang. I have about 4 more aerial images I plan to have printed up large….maybe even bigger I’d love to show them somewhere so if any of you have ideas on that too let me know. I’ll post some pics when I have them all done. I’m so glad I gathered with all these wonderful women for the week and got a surge of stitch’n energy!

Aerial View of Alexander Valley - Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Alexander Valley – Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Willamette Valley - Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Willamette Valley – Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Salt Flats in SF Bay - Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Salt Flats in SF Bay – Close-up of stitching

CARPE AMO : share a little love today!

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I am a big fan of Valentine’s Day, not the romantic love kind of Valentine’s Day (although I’ll take when I get it) with all its pressures and expectations; but the homemade, fill a box at school kind of Valentine’s Day.  Some years ago I abandoned sending out Christmas cards and opted for Valentine cards instead.  As a kid I loved Valentine’s Day at school, decorating the Kleenex box as mail box, making the valentines cards copying each classmates names carefully from the list, walking around the delivering the cards to everyone’s letter box perched on each desk, then taking my stash home and nibbling the candy treats, sorting the Valentine’s into piles, reading and reexamining each one. As a grown up I like to give a little of that school days happiness to my friends and family still.  So here is a little digital Valentine for you in your virtual mailbox.  I made these stuffed hearts this week at a quilt retreat I attended here at The Bishop’s Ranch.  As the week went on the scraps in the scrap box began to pile higher and higher with tantalizing patterns and colors in every fistful.  I took a few back to my sewing station and channeling my childhood self stitched, zigged, zagged and stuffed these scrappy love notes to share with you.

A little squishy love note

A little squishy love note

I hope you have a love filled day and if you have a chance to commit a few random acts of love today I hope you seized the moment…..CARPE AMO!

a little scrappy love pillow

a little scrappy love pillow

Quilting in Community

Still Life with Peonies, 16″x20″
This is an iPad drawing transformed to art quilt, the image was printed out on fabric and free motion quilted this week  (thanks for doing the binding Janelle!)

Last Sunday I arrived back at the Ranch in the wee hours after a belated birthday trip to Chicago with my husband.  We loved the city.  We spent most of our time walking and exploring the wonder neighborhoods and the vast lakefront park a tootling down the river in a water taxi with the mighty city tower overhead on either side.  It was a wonderful adventure and lovely to spend time with just my husband and I, no agenda but to be together and enjoy our time together in a new and exciting city.  So when I noticed on the calendar that the Ranch Hands Quilt Gathering was happening starting Sunday I decided there was no way I could participate this time around after just being away.

Still Life with Oranges and Tulips 16″x 20″
Drawn on iPad then printed on fabric, with free motion quilting. This quilt is included in the Quilting Art Magazine online extras for the Oct/Nov issue

Now let me back up a little and explain what the Ranch Hands week is. I’ll start with what It’s not: it’s not a teaching week, no one stand up front and leads the group in learning a technique; it is not an exclusive group, you don’t have to be a part of a quilting guild or club, people come on there own or with friends from all over the Western states; and lastly the participants aren’t all quilting in the same way, there are art quilters, and traditional quilters, people working from kits, people are sewing on everything from Mocha brown Singer Sewing machines to bright shiny machines that would put the space station to shame.  While there is definitely no one star performer teaching a specific technique there is a lot of accumulated knowledge in that room.  With 45 quilters spread throughout the beautiful airy pavilion you can find the answer to just about any question and thread to match any fabric you might pull our of your stash.  So even though I was jet lagged and hassled by my boundless email inbox I couldn’t resist the allure of all that creative energy.  So I pick up my sewing machine and a couple of projects I’d started months ago and set up my shop in the north wing of the Swing pavilion surrounded and supported by millions of hours of accumulated knowledge about fabric and quilting.  When my 16 year old son saw me dragging my stuff across the acre of lawn from my studio to the pavilion he asked “can’t you just sew in your studio?”  I could, but where’s the fun in that… what would I learn?  So despite my time limitations and the need to run off for three hours a day to teach art to k-2nd graders in town, I choose to sew in community.  I am so glad I did.  Everyone there is working on their own thing, everyone there has something they want to accomplish but there is also this wonder sense of time slowing down, time to wander the isles of sewing machines with quilt design walls propped up against every wall, time to wander and watch, to talk and ask, to kibitz and praise.  When one person was vexed by tension troubles another person came by and helped resolve it, when one quilter was dissatisfied with her blocks on the design wall, other came to give feedback and helped move pieces around while she stood back and found the order she was looking for.  When I hand sewing the binding on my fourth small art quilt of the week and poked my finger raw needle finger once again a friend and long time hand quilter offered to finish the binding for me!  I gratefully handed it over.  All this and some much more could never have happen alone in my studio.  I am grateful for the opportunity to soak in such energy and goodwill and will return to my little studio renewed and inspired.

The Bishop’s Ranch is offering a Quilt Retreat in February 2013, form the 10-14th.  As with the quilting retreat I described this is a time for all levels and styles of quilters to bring ongoing projects or start new ones.  Everyone bring their own sewing machine and supplies, but community cutting tables, design walls, and ironing stations are set up to share.  Of course all around is the beauty of the Ranch outside every window, and lots of open space to wander and shake off the sewing machine shoulder hunch.  And don’t forget the most fabulous food you would ever want to eat.  Here is the link to the Ranch website I am going to be at this retreat it would be great if some of you were there too! Bishop’s Ranch Quilt Retreat

Janelle sewing the binding on my Still Life with Peonies panel for me, Thanks Janelle!

Me at my trusty old Bernina

You Are My Cup Of Tea

Quilted Wall Hanging

I know it’s a rare thing when I don’t have much to say but this week I’m going to say it with pictures.  I spent the week with 51 quilters here at The Bishop’s Ranch.  The room was abuzz with the whirring of sewing machines and the swoosh of steam irons.  Everyone was at her table working away, with breaks to wander the large pavilion hall to kibitz and admire, share and learn.  It was a lovely, industrious week.  Prior to Sunday’s start I had made a number of teacups and mugs using scraps of fabric from my stash as the base shape and then stenciled the defining detail on top.  When I was all done I had about 25 cups to play with during the week.  I made a table runner and placemats for my home and then this banner to offer up to the world.  It will be posted on my website as soon as my fabulous, busy husband and web-master has time…. keep checking in  I promise to be more loquacious next week.