Monday, March 27, 2017

The Forest Project

Elizabeth went to Harrisonburg, Virginia on Saturday, March 25, 2017 for a lecture and visit at the Virginia Quilt Museum.  The lecturer was Dawn Flores of The Forest Project.
Behind Dawn’s house near Richmond, Virginia is a park and a piece of land which was going to be developed.  Dawn shared how she and her neighbors used positive advocacy to develop relationships with the family who owned the land, the developers and the builders to document the process of change-over-time using art mediums.  Along the journey she was able to add professional and amateur artists, school children (Collegiate School Residency), filmmakers, and re-claimers to the process enabling many people to heal from the experience of witnessing a loss of trees from their environs.  Keeping a sense of realism to the project by grounding herself in understanding all sides of the story, from knowing that even her own neighborhood had once been a forest, to the respect the developers showed when they visited her disassembling and re-purposing the various parts of the old farm house allowed for a powerful sense of grief to turn to a sense of good coming from many different aspects of the experiences.
What drove Elizabeth to go to the lecture was Dawn’s printing of images from the Forest Project.  Hearing about these in the quilt museum’s newsletter peaked her curiosity.  Dawn showed photographs she had taken and then manipulated in order to create new images which could be considered patterns suitable for printing onto fabric. Dawn then sent these images to Spoonflower for printing on cotton sateen. 
While she can now be considered a quilter, Dawn was a painter who is associated with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School and other institutions as a teacher of watercolor and photography, especially those with a bend towards botanicals.  It was fascinating to learn how she took her photos and transformed them with computer software all the way to the place where she could then have ecofriendly, vegetable dyed fabric in hand to use not only for herself, but for other artists to also buy and use. 
Currently, she is recruiting quilt artists to use the fabric printed with her images to make quilts which can be photographed in the environs of The Forest Project, as well as possibly turning into a curated show.  

If you go to Dawn’s website, be sure to click on the link for The Forest Project so you understand the vast scope of this project as each facet has a page all its own.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

In the Studio

What have we been working on in the studio?  Now that taxes are done, we're trying to get back to the backlog of projects. Sue's got several things in process, and more planned on the agenda.  Here are 4 preemie charity quilts that are sandwiched and ready for quilting - a good opportunity to practice free motion quilting.
Another work in progress is this wedding quilt - top done, backing pieced. Needs to be sandwiched and quilted, and finished before the first anniversary in a couple of months!
Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been busy with mug rugs.  Last week it was St. Patrick's Day.
This week she's moved on to Easter.  Cute!
What are you working on?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bucket List (Savannah Flashback)

One more check-off on Elizabeth’s “bucket list” was enjoyed while we were in Savannah for QuiltCon 2017.
This was a visit to the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, a beautiful historic home on a grand avenue in Savannah.  Since we took the on/off trolley tour, we were able to disembark and enjoy our view of the Baptist Church, where the feather in Forrest Gump drifted down from the steeple, and cross the street to visit the birthplace.  The birthplace is now the home of the Girl Scouts of the USA and they run tours for troops of girls from around the world who make pilgrimages to the site; mornings are usually set aside for troop tours.  As well, ordinary tourists like us can tour the home in the afternoon hours.  Both Sue and Elizabeth had belonged to the girl scouting movement as children and were glad to see this childhood home of the founder of Girl Scouting.
Juliette Gordon Low was certainly an accomplished artist and her sculptures and paintings grace this mansion style home.  Right away we were treated to viewing the public and private rooms of this family where Juliette grew up surrounded by her parents and grandparents.  Near the end of the tour we visited the library where the original books are stacked around the fireplace mantle with nothing but gravity holding them up.  In the bookcases were books from more current eras which were all by female authors or topics relating to females.  The large table in the center was interactive so troops of girls could write poems or letters and leave them behind as part of a legacy collection on scouting.  An interesting piece of artwork on the table was a book with the pages folded to look like a 'g' and an 's'.
The garden was planted as it would have been in the time of Mrs. Low and it included a wrought iron gate which she made for a family home in England. 
England is where JGLow and her family were friends with Lord Baden Powell who was the founder of Boy Scouting.  It was on a visit there where she learned about the scouting movement and Lord Powell encouraged her to start a similar movement for girls in the United States.  Last week GS USA celebrated their 105th birthday.  Visiting this historic home was a memorable experience and one each girl scout or former girl scout is fortunate to get to do at least once in their lifetime.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Open Studio Session

After talking about this idea for a while, we have finally scheduled an Open Studio session at Artistic Artifacts.  The date is Sunday, April 23 from 9 AM to 1 PM.  This is a 4 hour block of time to print with our extensive collection of screens.  We will offer support and encouragement and address any individual questions but there will not be formal instruction.  The prerequisite is to have previously taken our basic Thermofax printing class, either at Artistic Artifacts or another venue (such as VCQ).  This is a wonderful opportunity to print yardage (or smaller pieces), improve your comfort level with printing, and experiment with patterning and layers.  You are also welcome to bring/use gelatin plates and rubber or wooden stamps to combine techniques.  All of these surface design techniques play well together.
This class will be held in the warehouse at AA, which can be cool depending on the weather, so dress in layers and wear old clothes or bring an apron, as well as comfortable shoes.  If you are a member of JAMS (Judy's Altered Minds), they will be meeting at 1:30 that day, so this is a great opportunity to spend the morning printing and then stick around for JAMS.  Check the class listings on the website for all the details and registration.  We hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March Snow Dye

It's really amazing that we didn't get to do any snow dyeing this year until March - it's been a snowless winter until this past week, and even the couple of inches we got was less than predicted.  Just a few weeks ago we were hitting temperatures in the 70's, so this abrupt change back to freezing temps was not particularly welcome, especially for the cherry blossoms and other spring flowers popping up.  But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade; when nature gives us snow, we snow dye!  Sue soaked her fabric in soda ash Monday evening so it would be ready for the snow on Tuesday.  She decided she could fit 3 pans in the basement shower stall, so planned on a yard of fabric on top of each pan, with a half yard in the bottom.
The top photo shows the pans with the fabric arranged on screening above the pans (one has snow mounded on it).  The bottom photo shows the snow added and dye solution poured over each. 
She had mixed 3 colors - purple, teal and turkey red - and decided to use 2 colors on each pan.  The one on the left had purple as the base color with red added.  The top right had a teal base with purple added. The bottom right had a red base with teal added.  After batching for 24 hours, the fabric was first rinsed in cold water, then soaked in hot water over night.  After a hot water wash in the washing machine with synthropol, they were dried and ironed.  The results are below.
The above 1 yard piece is the purple base with red added.
Next is this 1 yard piece which has the red base with teal added.
Third is the teal with purple added.  The photo makes it appear more purple but the teal shows more in reality.  The other 3 pieces where half yards that were folded and accordion pleated in the bottom of the pans to catch the melting snow and dye. 
These have some interesting textures and might work well in landscapes if turned horizontally.  So those are Sue's results.  Stay tuned to see how Elizabeth's pieces turned out.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

VCQ Quarterly Meeting

Our quarterly guild meeting of the Virginia Consortium of Quilters took place this past Saturday in Annandale, VA.  Sue made the hotel and meeting space arrangements for this meeting while Elizabeth scheduled the teachers.  Each quarterly meeting is education based and includes a choice of 3-4 teachers as well as an option to sit and sew which we call “Come Quilt with Me”. 
This weekend we had three fantastic teachers.  Julie Booth taught a hand stitching class.  Slow stitching or adding hand stitched details to fabric is trending strongly right now. 
Shannon Shirley taught a three dimensional applique class of bottles and daffodils.
Marisela Rumberg taught a class in free motion machine quilting.  Sue and Elizabeth both took the free motion class.

Members travel from all over the state of Virginia for VCQ meetings and the fellowship and quilt related sharing is an important part of our day.  At the end of the day we have show and tell from each of the classes, plus any other show and tell attendees bring.
If you live in or very near Virginia, please consider joining us.  You do not need to be a member of any other guild to belong to VCQ, and you do not need to be a member to attend meetings.  The group has a Facebook page, and membership information and newsletters can be found at
Meetings for the remainder of this year will be held in Richmond in May, Newport News in August, and Manassas in November.  Our biannual retreat is held in even numbered years.  In April of 2018 we will gather at Smith Mountain Lake for 4 days of quilting fun with national teachers.  Registration for this event will open for members in August 2107.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Jane Sassaman

We were fortunate last weekend to be able to attend a lecture by Jane Sassaman at The Quilters Studio in Fairfax, VA.  Jane is a long-time art quilter and fabric designer for Free Spirit.  Her nature-inspired art quilts have been in many national and international exhibits and have won numerous awards.  Jane talked about her evolution as a fabric designer and shared some of her quilts.  This is her most recently finished work.
Though her quilts usually feature flowers, bugs and butterflies, she also enjoys adding things a bit more "subversive" as she says (like spiders and sometimes skulls or skeletons).  Most of the quilts Jane showed were 2-sided quilts.
The red and white one shows Scandinavian influence.
She prefers making applique art quilts, but has learned to design fabrics that mimic her art quilt style, and actually make dynamic quilts with fairly simple piecing.
The quilts above are made with her fabrics; those below are some of her art quilts.
These are some samples of quilts that students could choose from to make in a class she taught Sunday.
And a bag made from Jane's fabric.
And another quilt, more bags, and a pillow from her fabric lines.  Many of the fabric lines play well with each other because the color palettes are similar.
Kathye carries all of Jane's fabric line at the Quilters Studio, as well as ribbons and patterns.  Check it out if you are looking for Jane's fabrics!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wrapping Up Savannah

Our return flight wasn't until Monday afternoon so we still had Monday morning for a few more stops.  We started with breakfast at the Funky Brunch Cafe, only a few blocks walk from our hotel.
On the way there, we passed the Pirate House, built in 1754.  It is associated with Savannah's maritime history and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and is also a stop on some of the ghost tours.
After breakfast, we couldn't pass up a stop in Dick Blick Art Materials next door.  We are familiar with the online store, but hadn't had an opportunity to visit a retail store before. 
Since Savannah is home to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), it makes a lot of sense to have an art store here.  SCAD has renovated a lot of historic buildings for the school throughout Savannah, in fact the only new construction they undertook was freshman dormitories.
There are many ways to tour Savannah, including several trolley companies, walking tours, carriage tours,
and Savannah Slow Ride.
Did we mention the Waving Girl before?  Florence Martus lived in Savannah from 1869-1943, and while the stories differed slightly, she was known for waving at the ships that went up and down the Savannah River.  One story said she waved because her brother operated the lighthouse, another said she was waiting for the return of her significant other who went off to sea; at any rate, as the story goes, she waved at ships for 44 years, thus this statue in her honor along the waterfront.
Another point of interest was the Independent Presbyterian Church.  This church is known, among other things, for being the church used at the beginning of the movie Forrest Gump, where the feather drifted down from the top of the steeple.  Savannah was the scene for several other movies as well.
We hope you've enjoyed our virtual tour of Savannah, and that you get to visit for a real tour of your own!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Savannah Sight Seeing

After 2 days of QuiltCon last week, we spent Sunday sight seeing and had a fabulous time wandering the streets of Savannah and taking in the history and culture of this awesome city.  To decide what to do and see, we got some recommendations from the concierge at our hotel.  We started off on the trolley to get to Gryphon Tea Room for brunch, one that the concierge highly recommended.  It doesn't seat a lot of people, so we were lucky to get seats at the bar. The photo shows the outside of the building.
After brunch, since it was a lovely day, we decided to walk to some of our other destinations.  There are 22 squares (small parks) throughout Savannah which honor events and/or individuals in the city's history.  Below is the Pulaski monument, honoring General Casimir Pulaski who died in Savannah during the Revolutionary War.
Our next destination was the Sorrel-Weems house, a site that is undergoing restoration and is supposedly the most haunted house in Savannah. It is a site that has it's own evening ghost tours!
From there we walked to Forsyth Park to see the fountain,
and a nearby boutique hotel that had art by Peter Keil for sale in its lobby and hallways.  Then we headed to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which we had ridden by several times, but wanted to see the inside.
We caught the trolley again to ride to City Market, which is a pedestrian shopping area.  Here we were advised to visit Byrd's famous cookies, where we sampled some of the bite-size delicacies and, of course, made a purchase or two.
We wandered a bit more through City Market and some of the shops.
And passed this sculpture of Johnny Mercer, a Savannah native who was a lyricist and composer, author or "Moon River", among many others in the Great American Songbook.
We caught the trolley again to take us to Leopold's for ice cream, another long-standing tradition in Savannah.
Since we also had plans for the 7 pm Ghost Trolley tour, we first had an early dinner at The District Cafe and then our dessert at Leopold's. 
The tour included a visit to the Andrew Low house (glad we didn't plan a separate visit!) and a final stop at a riverfront warehouse with some period reenactments.  It was a beautiful day and entertaining evening.