Monday, October 31, 2016

Reclaiming Creative Time

How does a person reclaim their personal creativity?  Elizabeth has felt like she has been in a creative void for nearly all of 2016.  Early in the year, her mother died after a short illness, and her employer was generous in giving her the time to travel over 1000 miles away for several weeks at a time to tend to her mother and then to have a memorial service.  The only creative endeavors she was able to squeeze in were a class to learn how to use the machine embroidery functions on her one year old BabyLock Destiny sewing machine, a VCQ workshop and the VCQ Celebration weekend.  The rest of the spring season was one giant blur.  
Summer came with the yearly chore of packing up her classroom and heading off to the family’s summer house in New Hampshire where an August wedding was planned for her son and his finance.  With the support of friends and family, she spent many hours preparing for the wedding and getting the property ready for guests.  Frankly, she was glad that the time line was relatively short since she can’t imagine spending a year or more planning and prepping for a wedding like some modern day brides do.
Although she took along her sewing machine, dyeing supplies, and her thermofax screens, she was able to get very little creative work done over the summer months.  Once back in Virginia, life was back to the annual tasks of setting up a new classroom and getting the school year started with a new schedule in a new room.

So, by the end of September she had given herself a good old fashioned talking to and decided she needed to get back to her machine embroidery and other creative pursuits.  She took a class at Artistic Artifacts, taught by Sue, where she made a fat-quarter pop-up from The Fat Quarter GypsyShe used hand dyed fabric which had been screened with PGFiber2Art’s crackle screen.  Time to use up some of this stash!  
A few weeks later she and Sue taught Printing with Thermofax Screens at Artistic Artifacts and set up a class on January 21, 2017 to teach how to make your own screens using Photoshop Elements.   She wrote a proposal to offer an Open Studio thermofax printing day also at the store.  We'll let you know when this is scheduled.  Perhaps, some of you will be able to come and use our screens and print away for an entire day?  Another creative endeavor was this sun print with a Thermofax screened tree for Halloween.
One weekend she went to Richmond to upgrade her “Super Baby” with all the new software Babylock has developed. This weekend she is attending an all-day embroidery party for Anita Goodesign products.  Let’s hope it gets her out of this funk!  The next creative inspiration will be a workshop at the November VCQ meeting in Martinsville, along with viewing The Art of the Quilt exhibit at the Piedmont Arts Center.

In the meantime, Super Baby has been churning out some fall mug rugs from Kreative Kiwi Embroidery.     

So, bit by bit Elizabeth is getting her creative groove back!  We will be participating in the Artistic Artifacts open house/handmade sale on December 3 where we'll have some screen printed scarves, wall art, mug rugs and other items for sale.  Come see us!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall Sale!

Do you need some screens for a fall or winter holiday project?  Or perhaps you have an image of your own you want made into a custom screen?  We are offering a fall sale in the Etsy shop!  Now through Dec. 31, get a 10% discount on screen purchases by using the coupon code FALLSALE at checkout. 
We have renewed some screen listings like pine cones and spine sprigs that you might want to incorporate in fall/winter projects.
Of course, our always popular leaves are available too for those fall projects you might have in mind, along with many other images.  Check them out in the shop!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Library of Congress - National Parks Display

Yesterday Sue had an opportunity to visit the Library of Congress to see a display commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks that included the "Inspired By the National Parks" book. 
Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto, who is the author of the book, got a call a few weeks ago letting her know that the book was selected for a special display in the Science Reading Room, and inviting her and other local contributing artists for a brief tour of the library and official greeting.
We were taken on a brief tour of the original library building (above), the Thomas Jefferson building.  This building was completed in 1897 and is incredibly beautiful as you can see in the photos below.  First is a collage of parts of the interior.  The top two photos show ceilings, all inlaid mosaics, the bottom left shows the main entrance area and bottom right is the main reading room. 
There are also exquisite floors with many geometric patterns that are sure to catch the eye of any quilter.  Here are just 2 examples.

After our tour we traversed the underground tunnel to the Science Reading Room in the John Adams building where the display was located, passing one of these along the way.
This is one library that still has card catalogs! 
This is a shot of the Science Reading Room.  The display was at the back on a lovely marble table behind the stacks.
The book is at the center of the display, opened to one of the quilt pages.  We're told that they periodically change the page that it is open to.  In addition, they selected some of the pages of the book to reproduce and display behind and around the book.  In addition, there were a few other materials pertinent to the national parks.
Pictured above are Donna DeSoto and our LOC guide, Nanette Gibbs. After viewing the display, we were taken to a conference room where we met Constance Carter, a recently retired 50 year employee of the LOC.  We enjoyed Connie's homemade chocolate chip cookies and stories of her time at the Library.  Donna brought along a few of the quilts from the book to show.  From there it was off to the Madison building for lunch. 
Above is part of our group on the library steps before the tour.  It was a beautiful day and a great excuse to visit one of DC's famous landmarks, one of the advantages of living in the shadow of the nation's capital.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fabulous Fabric Swap

Last year Sue participated in several Reader Challenges with Quilting Arts magazine, and even had a few pieces published.  Circumstances have not allowed her to participate this year until the June/July issue contained a Reader Challenge to share a fat quarter of surface designed fabric.  Wow, this is what we do, so she set out to create a submission. The fabric had to start out white - from there it could be dyed, painted, printed, have multiple techniques applied.  A selection of the submitted fabrics will be published in the December 2016/January 2017 issue.  In addition, each challenge participant received a fat quarter created by another reader/artist.  This week Sue received her swap piece, as well as an email from the person who received her piece.
This is the piece Sue submitted.  It was dyed with a shibori technique - pole wrapping - and then printed with our birds on a branch screen.  Her piece was received by Ann L. Scott of Fiber Designs by Ann.  She sent a very kind and complementary email about the fabric.  Wow, Sue was blown away by Ann's work when she looked at her website!  You have to go take a look!  Sue was very flattered that Ann liked her fabric, after seeing the work that she creates.  Most everything featured hand painted fabric used in art and landscape quilts and mixed media work.  She also has a series of mixed media pieces that combine photography and quilting - absolutely gorgeous!
Above is the piece Sue received in the swap.  It came from a reader/artist in Switzerland.  Unfortunately Sue is unable to connect to the blog address that was provided.  This piece is also screen printed - in fact the screen looks similar to our tree bark and crackle screens.  The technique is interesting in that part is done with paint and part (we think) is discharge.  Could be an idea to try in the future.

The swap was fun and we look forward to seeing the pieces selected for publication when the next issue arrives!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Babylock Destiny 2 Kickoff

A few weekends ago Sue and Elizabeth went to the Sew Expo as you know from previous posts, however Elizabeth only stayed for a few hours; long enough to see the exhibits and short enough to save her pocketbook.  Never fear, she was off to spend some big money at the Destiny 2 Kickoff at All Brands Service Center in Richmond, Virginia.
That’s right her “Baby” Babylock Destiny sewing machine is getting an upgrade and becoming a Destiny 2!   (The link will take you to a video about the Destiny 2.)  While the machine will stay the same, the software will have lots of new features and she is very excited about the quilting designs.  The machine has been unplugged since last January as life events kept her from sewing but now it is time to get that creative groove back on!

Here are some of the new things it will be able to do: new 9-1/2” by 9-1/2” frame, new large designs, new font, add stippling to any design or background fillers which look beautiful as quilting, upgrades to IQ Designer (new shapes, new stitches such as candlewicking), color sort your designs when adding or combining designs to minimize thread changes, text upgrades as well, see how things will look prior to stitching and combine bobbin work designs together.  It’s a lot of new fun and learning. 
She also won a door prize!  This adorable stuffed bear is by Embroider Buddy.   The stuffing is inside a zipped pocket and can be neatly taken out so the bear's tummy or back could be embroidered.  It is really cute and oh, so soft.  They also make snowmen, moose and cows, as well as other animals.  Stay tuned to see what Elizabeth does with this new upgrade.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Be Creative! Challenge

Another exhibit at Sew Expo was the Be Creative! challenge sponsored by a group of magazines - Quilter's Newsletter, Quiltmaker, McCall's Quilting - and Keepsake Quilting (NH store and mail order business).  The challenge was to design a quilt using a specially created bundle of fabric by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham.  Quilters were able to add up to 3 additional fabrics and quilts needed to finish at 56-60" x 68-72".  Here are some of the winners and finalists.
a-MAZE-ing Chain by Amy Asmus won 2nd place.
CREA-TV is by Mel Beach and was a finalist.
Emerging Knots is by Beth Anne McLachlan and was a finalist.
Slices by Nancy Rowland was another finalist.
Dawn Golstab created From a New Angle, also a finalist.
1417 Jansdotter Lane is by Julie Johnson and Cara N. Bennewitz; quilted by Mary Dorschner, won 1st place.

See all the winners and finalists here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

SAQA - Redirecting the Ordinary

Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) is a "non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications."  One of several traveling exhibitions, "Redirecting the Ordinary is about turning things around, upside down, inside out, backwards, or how even a minuscule course correction can charge up the humdrum, turn the common into the uncommon, and make the expected unexpected."  This exhibit is currently touring with the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo and was one of our favorites at the Fredericksburg show.  Here is a sampling of these extra-ordinary quilts.  You can see the whole exhibit online on the SAQA website.  Enjoy the show!
Old Sink by Val Mayse of Seattle, WA.  Circles, squares and crosses are powerful symbols found in an ordinary object.
Forke Family Secrets by Ann Turley of Fallbrooke, CA.  Like many real families, the forks are a bit unbalanced and dysfunctional.
Turning Bottles into Stained Glass by Sara Sharp of Austin, TX. Ordinary bottles filled with colored liquids transform a gray winter day.
Have a Cup by Joan Dyer of Grass Valley, CA.  A simple cup imagined in multiple ways.
Sheer Delight by Denise Oyama Miller of Freemont, CA.  Good scissors are a critical tool for textile artists.
A Close Shave by Helen Godden of Canberra, Australia.  Colored pencil shavings conjure up visions of ballerina skirts and sea shells.
Memories by Jennifer Day of Santa Fe, NM.  A woman sits in her wheelchair in a doorway in Havana, Cuba.
9:29 in the Morning by Gillian Cooper of Balfron, Stirlingshire, UK.  Photos of the ground were taken with every 37th step on a morning walk.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Back in the Studio

Sue finally took some time over the weekend to get back in the studio and try to finish up some projects.  One was this 12" square piece from last year.
The plan was to mount this one on canvas rather than finish as a traditional quilt with a sleeve.  But the outside edge needed something.  It took a while to find something she was satisfied with.
First was a 1/4" wide hand-dyed Tentakulum trim.
Next the multicolored yarn used to embellish the small squiggle was layered on top.  It didn't have enough "weight' on its own - that's why the 2 layers.
Finally it was mounted on a 12" black canvas.  Sue used sticky-backed Velcro to attach it to the canvas.  This is the first time she's used this method, hopefully it will hold up over time.

Best of QuiltCon 2016

QuiltCon is the annual conference and show of the Modern Quilt Guild.  This special exhibit at Sew Expo featured the best of modern quilters today, and includes the 2016 Best of Show quilt.  The Modern Quilt Guild began as an online community and developed into in-person guilds in 2009.  Now there are over 170 guilds around the world.  You can find out more about them at
Fossil by Nancy Purvis.  Category - Minimalist Design  The artist chose to focus on asymmetrical shapes and triangles.
Cut & Keep by Gina Pina  Category - Applique  The applique pieces are placed between the top and batting, and the dashed lines indicate "break in case of emergency" and use the pieces as desired.
My Brother's Jeans by Melissa Averinos  Category - Improvisation  This was the Best in Show quilt.  The denim used to make the crosses is from the maker's brother's work jeans; he committed suicide in 2009.  In the background are gold and white crosses, and the grid quilting echoes the crosses and reflects his occupation as a tile installer. (Note: the black line is the ribbon in front of the display, not part of the quilt.)
Echoes by Leanne Chahley  Category - Use of Negative Space
Release the Geese II by Sarah Bond (piecing) and Carol Heisler (quilting)  Category - Modern Traditionalism (Again, the black line is ribbon, not part of the quilt.)
Twisted Sisters  by a Group (too many to name)  Category - Group or Bee Quilt  This took 3rd place in the Group Quilts.  It is an interpretation of the game Twister.
Flounce by Melanie Tuazon  Category - Modern Traditonalism  It is inspired by the architecture of the Eastern hemisphere.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Black and White Plus One

Black and White Plus One was the theme of this year's annual Expo challenge sponsored by Wisconsin Public Television and Nancy Zieman, the challenge being to use only black and white and one other color.  This makes for some very striking quilts.
Bison in Prairie Flowers is by Debra Ninas of Elgin MN.  Her yellow flowers are done with a black & white print that was sprayed with textile paint. 
The same effect could be achieved with a flower screen printed in black on yellow (or any color) as Sue has done on some of her quilts. 
Above is Flowers of the Night by Nancy Roodell of Roscoe, MT.  We especially liked the border print at the top and bottom of this one, it reminded us of a screen print.

This is called Night and Day, by Mary Kay Price of Lake Oswego, OR.
The variety of black and white prints here really adds a lot.  Also notice there are a few squares that repeat the sun image.
Skiing on Burns Glacier by Debbie Derr-Weaver of Urbana, IL, shows how to create visual depth using value.  Very striking.
Black White and Read, This Could Be Grimm is by Terri Sankovitz of Albuquerque, NM.  The description says it is done with fused applique (very thin lines!) and has lots of stitching to enhance the image.
Sentimental Lady by Diana Napier of Mountain, WI has a background painted with Inktense inks.
Besides the striking color contrast, the quilting on this is a real stand-out.
Weekly Walk: Winter is by Laura Moss Gottlieb of Madison, WI.  This really evokes the peace and serenity of a walk in freshly fallen snow.
In Licks of Love, Eileen Daniels of Brodhead, WI, layered white on top of black to create shadowing.

Of course, there were more wonderful quilts in this challenge, all a source of inspiration.