Creative afternoon

There are a lot of moving parts working around me right now. I’ve been trying to update my website and start scheduling classes and workshops for 2018. Last year, I took a short hiatus from teaching, but I’ve decided I need to get back into it.

I’m happy to announce, that I’ve finally made my workshop and lecture page live. I know this is going to be an ongoing work in progress, but the big first step is done. To get started, I scheduled a few classes at Cary Quilting in Cary, NC. I love this shop, the people who work there, and the fabric/supply choices they offer. It’s especially gratifying to teach somewhere that you like to be.

The first class on my schedule is my pincushion class at Cary Quilting on Sat, Dec 9 from 1:30-4:30. The pattern is a slightly modified version of a pattern I wrote for Quilts & More magazine in 2011. I loved using fun fabrics on the one pictured here. The best part is how it feels. Its filled with crushed walnut shells and has a nice weight, so it stays put. If you’re in the area, maybe you’d like to join me for a creative afternoon.

 

Put yourself out there

It has been over 10 years that I began reading Quilting Arts Magazine. It has always been my bucket list dream to grace the pages of this inspirational publication. I came close in 2012, when my pet portrait of my dog “Storm” became Mr. September of their calendar.

Since then, I pondered to myself, what do I have that’s worthy of their reader’s interest. I use a lot of tools to create my art, but everything felt ordinary. A few years ago I began experimenting with Prismacolor pencils on fabric. I was so impressed with the depth I could create (my piece “Silenced,” on my home page, was enhanced using them).

I’ve been asked several times by artists I admire, “Why aren’t you publishing?” I had no answer. Early this year I decided to take their challenge and submit a proposal to Quilting Arts. To my joy, they accepted. This summer I wrote the article and created the supporting artwork, I’ve been waiting to share the news since July.

Having worked in the publishing business for many years, I was always told don’t talk about it until its in print. Anything could happen along the way. Today I got the OK to share the news, but to my surprise I get to share even bigger news. My summer tanager will gets the limelight as the cover artwork. I cannot explain how amazingly surreal this is. Dreams come true when you put yourself out there.

 

See my artwork at your local newstand
Quilting Arts Magazine
December/January 2018

How this goes

The heats on in the house, my winter clothes are now in my closet, and the leaves are starting to change color. Its fall and winter is heading our way. I love this time of year, but as I’ve gotten older, I don’t like the winter darkness as much. Seems like as soon as it gets dark my body clock tells me its time to sleep. That’s not a so good for 5:30pm.

This month my goal is to catch up on some things and prepare for the upcoming new year. This is more of a challenge given the shorter days. I read an article this week that talks about how we allow other things to filter into our daily agenda which take us away from other things we should be doing. It was interesting to read that I’m not alone on this juggle.

So between the diminished daylight and tasks that need to get done, I plan to set myself up for success. For starters, I need to makes lists. I have a pretty good memory for my to-do list, what I don’t have is the ability to prioritize in an effective manner. My lists aren’t going to be so much about doing things, but more about what needs to get done next. We’ll see how this goes.

Creative journey

A few weeks ago, I shared a “sketch” for my newest bird in my songbird series (you can see it here). The sketch becomes the line drawing I use for making fusible applique artwork.

For those of you who don’t know, fusible applique is a way to glue layers of fabric together. The fusible product (aka web) is ironed to the wrong side of the fabric. Pattern pieces are then cut from the fused fabric and assembled on the background fabric. The assembled fabrics are ironed again to activate the fusible web and adhere all the layers together.

Fused fabrics are not meant to be a permanent way to adhere the fabric together. The fusible web can come loose with handling, which isn’t good for long-term stability. So, after the fabrics are fused they should be stitched in place to make sure all the layers are permanently joined together.

My fused applique Eastern Towhee, shown in the photo, could be stitched in place as it is, but I like to add another layer of interest before I do my sewing. I’ll show you that step in an upcoming blog post. So stay tuned and keep enjoying your creative journey!

Using up what I already have

I remember the family sewing kit. It was a big white plastic box with a tray inside. The tray had little slots to put your bobbins. There also were slots in the sewing cabinet drawer for bobbin storage. People were more frugal back then. A sewist probably had fewer than a dozen bobbins (I own 48 for my Janome Memory Craft 6500).

Back in the day, it was common to find a bobbin loaded with several different colors of thread. I mean, why fill an entire bobbin when you only need thread for a small job? So the sewist would add layer, upon layer of thread onto one bobbin. This isn’t the best way to manage your bobbins. Besides not knowing how much thread you have on the bobbin, the layers of thread can effect bobbin tension, thus effecting your stitch tension.

In my modern, less frugal life, I grab an empty bobbin and load thread on it every time I need a new color. Frequently, I don’t use all the thread on the bobbin, so I tuck it away for storage. Every once in awhile I realize I have a lot of bobbins with varying amounts of thread on them. I’ll also realize, that none contain enough thread to complete a job or they’re not the right color for the project.

My method of freeing up bobbins is to use them on my thread painting projects. In the photo you’ll see an example of the back of one of these pieces.  Because I’ve set the tension right, the bobbin thread doesn’t peak through to the top so it doesn’t matter too much what color the bobbin thread is. I take a partially full bobbin, do as much thread work as I can until the bobbin runs out. Then I grab another one and use it up. I keep doing this until the project is done or I’m out of usable bobbins. There’s a lot of stop and go in this sewing process, but it is so helpful to clear up the partially-filled bobbin clutter. I also feel more thrifty because I’m using up what I already have.

Take time to listen

We’re living in unsettling times. There are so many things that seem uncertain, upsetting and chaotic. If we seek balance amongst the chaos, we have to look inward.

The only thing we can change is ourselves. So when dealing with troubling times, maybe its as simple as seeking a different perspective or just seeing the good things around you. Find the calm within you, because its there.

My looking inward has me focusing on the fire in my belly. What gives me motivation and inspiration? Answer: my art. I can sit here waiting for the uncertainty to resolve itself, or I can keep moving.

Right now, I’m working on a songbird series which brings me joy. To keep the inspiration going, I stop and make a bird between larger projects or when I get artistically stuck. Up next in the series is the Eastern Towhee. They make me smile when I see them foraging in my yard. The male bird tells us to “drink your tea” or some say he just says his name “Tow-hee.” Either way you hear him, just take some time to listen.

Stop playing

No matter how accomplished you get in doing something, I believe there is always room for improvement and growth. Maybe some people can admit that they’ve reached the pinnacle. Not me.

The world is constantly changing. People’s interests change, fashion changes, and new technologies are created. If I could say I have it all together, I suspect in a few months…maybe a year…what I do would become out-dated, old, and uninteresting.

So my issue is to keep figuring things out. It’s a difficult process, because you can never stop, even if you get tired. My feelings right now are I need to improve my quilting skills.

I have a fancy machine, but that doesn’t do the work…my hands and brain do. Lately, I’ve noticed that when I quilt my pieces I fall back into what’s comfortable. I’m bored.

Recently what has wowed me in other quilts is the beautiful mixture of different motifs on one quilt. The backgrounds are rich with varying designs. That’s what I’m loving and want to do. I’ve been trying to think what’s holding me back and I realize its time. I don’t allow myself time to play … play feeds inspiration. Play also allows you to try something new without worrying about failure; “Oh well, I was just playing.”

This week I played. The results aren’t typical for me, but I was able to experiment with some new designs. Then, because that wasn’t special enough, I experimented with Derwerts Inktense pencils to add some color. I won’t show you the fails, just know that there were a few.

My take home message from this is to allow yourself time to play and experiment. You don’t have to be so serious about everything you do. Just remember as this applies to our art: “we don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.”

Gathered along the way.

In a couple days, we’ll be at the official end of summer. For me, it’s been a long one filled with a lot of good things. I got to spend a few days at the beach and I worked on an exciting professional opportunity. This opportunity presented me with 2 deadlines. One was at the end of July and the other was this week. I look back on the days and I’m proud of my accomplishments. High-five to me, I did it! I also realize I enjoy what I was doing. Now I have to figure out how to continue with this momentum.

Over the next couple months, I’ll be working to make changes with my professional journey. After a year+ hiatus from teaching, I’ve decided to get back into it. I’m going to be approaching it all differently this time. I want to share my enthusiasm for “art” quilting and encourage other’s who feel the cravings like I did when I first started this journey.

I’m going to use the motivation of my summer deadlines, to continue moving forward. Using the symbolism of my bee friend, I will continue to explore the possibilities while remembering to enjoy life’s nectar, to work hard on my goals, and to share the information that I’ve gathered along the way.

Bid on Me!

I belong to SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). This organization has provided me with a lot of information and encouragement over the past several years. For the support they give me, I like to give back to them. This year, I am again participating in SAQA’s annual benefit auction.

Earlier this year, I made a 12″ x 12″ quilt that is similar to my quilt “Silenced” (pictured on my home page). Both of these quilts feature my rendition of the now extinct Carolina Parakeet. These birds were the only indigenous parrot of North America. They once flourished in the old growth forests along rivers and in swamps. They could be found from Southern New York all the way to eastern Colorado.

Whenever I talk to people about the Carolina Parakeet, they question me by saying they’ve seen parakeets living in their yards. How could that be? The parrots they’re actually referring to are called monk or Quacker parakeets which are considered a feral species. Feral species, including  “feral” cats or dogs, were once house pets that escaped that now live and breed in the wild.

With these quilts, I hope to educate people. Maybe by seeing my quilt with cloth parakeets, I can start a virtual discussion with the viewer. Maybe we can find a way to stop further losses. At the minimum, I hope the viewer finds a visual place to pause and imagine what life use to be. I hope whoever sees this finds peace.

You can own this quilt
Carolina Parakeets
by bidding on it during the

SAQA Benefit Auction

Bids on this quilt will be open Sept 15- 24
For more details visit www.SAQA.com

Keep looking forward

Doors have been opening for me lately. I think that’s definitely a circumstance of me knocking on them and putting myself out there. I also think it’s because I’ve started putting my aspirations first. For the past year, I’ve been focusing on self-development. I’ve pondered my dreams and wondered how to get them to come true.

For over 10 years, I’ve had a bucket list dream that always seemed to fall just a little short of reality. Although I did try, I really don’t know why I didn’t try harder. I suspect it was the perfectionist that lives in my head. She likes to tell me that things need to be a certain way before I can put it out there. I call myself a “recovering perfectionist,” but that doesn’t mean I’m recovered.

I’m not too concerned that sometimes my alter-ego drives my thinking. Right now that pesky little voice has put me somewhere that I’m pretty confident about. I’m ready for this and its all because she used to tell me “not yet.” Maybe that’s the key to our dreams, maybe we need to be ready for the next step. It doesn’t mean give up. It does means continue learning and developing yourself, because with knowledge comes confidence. If life doesn’t seem to give you want you dream, keep trying, keep looking forward.