Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some hand quilting comments

Steadfast and Faithful c2000
approx 50" x 57" overall shot

Steadfast and Faithful is one of two pieces - the other being "Lying Fallow" - that were made to be part of "Celebrate Millenium" - a travelling quilt exhibit sponsored by the Presbyterian Church of Canada from May 2000 - July 2002 to Celebrate the Jubilee Year. It is a portrait of Covenanter Church in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. Investigating it's history also gave me more information about my own personal past during the process. Covenanter was built between 1804 and 1811. There is lots more information about it but I won't expand on it in this post. It is a National Historic Monument and a NS Provincial Heritage Site. It is a companion piece for Lying Fallow, also part of the Celebrate Millenium exhibit. It was also selected as part of the 2004 Grand National - Constructions at the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery and the 2004 Tactile Architecture Exhibit in Houston, TX and travelled for a year before returning home.

Steadfast and Faithful was completely hand done except for machine stitching the binding to the front of the quilt. It was enlarged from a smaller photo and was the first time iit was enlarged via computer. Previously I did my enlarging using a photocopier and the cut and paste method. This meant I would often have several sizes of the same "pattern" which has come in handy on more than one occasion.

The reason I am posting about this piece is that I was chatting in QuiltChat about tiger tape and mentioned that I used to to create larger stitches in my work. It is also a method of helping quilters achieve even stitching in their work. In this piece I specificially used it to create the clapboard on the church. Had I known how long it was going to take when I decided to do this, I don't know that I would have started it! The additional stitching was done AFTER it returned back from it's 2 year plus journeys (at least 4 times) back and forth across Canada. I also requilted the trees, did the cross-hatching in the border, and added more quilting in several other areas. In all I figure I added between 60 - 100 hrs of quilting on this piece. It sure made all the difference!

clapboard detail handquilted using 12 stitches/inch Tiger Tape

close up of clapboard detail

detail of border quilting

The lower left hand corner shows some of the original motif quilting - the cross hatching was added about 3 yrs later. In the interim, I had fallen and torn the ligaments (or whatever) on the saddle joint between my thumb and index finger...........I was unable to do any hand stitching for about a year. This shows that I was able to return to my former quality of hand quilting as there is no difference in the hand stitching.

I was just remembering that I sent the intent to enter form in and a day or so later found out I was going to be moving in 6 weeks as a suitable apt had become available. It was quite the journey to get these pieces done and off to the co-ordinator. In fact, I almost didn't finish Steadfast and Faithful but decided that it's historic value to the exhibit as the oldest extant Presbyterian Church in Canada (meaning it's still being used as a church) was important enough to ask for an extension. I remember sitting in a cleared space amongst the boxes in my house and spending hours stitching to get it done. I think I even slept on the sofa cushions as I didn't want to take the time to makes a larger space to open up the sofa bed. It was an interesting two weeks to say the least. I did manage to get it to her in time for it to be shown with all the others at the World Ecumenical Conference being held in Montreal in May 2000.

Flo, thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time to Get a Move On!

Since I seem to have about a week's respite until I find out about the job I interviewed for yesterday, I am taking it as a sign that this time meant for me to get my entry for Flatland Fibre figured out so I can send my intent to enter by next Wednesday. I didn't plan to enter very many shows this year, wanting instead to spend my time creating a body of work. The 3D requirements for this show have intigued me, however, and seem to follow along on the work I did to develop my fibre card in December. I am a bit reluctant to share details of that at the moment as they are looking for innovative work - which this SURE is for me and I don't want someone else to "scoop" my idea. Once the intent to enter deadline has passed, I will share some pics and info with you folks as I go along.

An eagle-eyed online friend noticed that a thimble was missing from the handquilting tools shown in a previous post, so this pic is for her!

Maps, can you spot the thimble here?

A closeup pic of the type of thimble I use

I have also spent time today catching up on my "missing" blog posts. Having my laptop away for over 2 weeks plus coming back without most of the programs has meant that it's more difficult to get the pics onto the puter and uploaded. I finally decided just to use the HP program on the laptop as a temporary measure in order to get caught up.

As well, I've been thinking a bit about the class/workshop I will be offering through the Art Gallery at the end of March. I need to ruminate about these things before I write them up. I plan to do my "required" hand quilting for the day while the Thursday evening crime shows are on tv tonight.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First turn of the wheel(quilt)

close up of quilting on charm quilt
charm quilt showing length of quilt and first section

I've gotten the first row of quilting done on my charm quilt and got to roll it to start on th next. One row of how many? But it is progress and I am happy to see it. I finished quilting the row as a means of de-stressing from my job interview in the am.

The job interview went ok, but it was the first sit-down interview with several people I've had in over 12 years. (I got that job) so I was a bit stressed both before and after it. I will know in 5-7 days whether or not it will be offered to me. It sounds interesting and the salary will cover my expenses. It's also a Monday-Friday job with regular hours so that should allow me time for my art and teaching workshops at the Art Gallery (which could be another source of income).

I also spoke with Laurie at the Art Gallery about the workshop(s) I might teach in March. For her publicity purposes, the class description, etc needs to be written up soonest so she can get the word out. We've decided on a title - No Sew Intro to Fibre Art. This workshop will be an introduction to the various types of fusibles, students will make samples of each plus spend time creating their own art work(s). With the gallery classes, all supplies are included in the cost of the the class. We also decided on a Saturday 10-4 class time in late March so they can explore possibilities and take home a finished project or two at the end of the day. We plan to build on this by offering other classes that use the information acquired in this one. the only skills necessary are being able to use scissors and an iron!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday at the Gallery

Today I was the featured artist demonstrating at the Art Gallery of Swift Current from 2-4 pm. It was a fun thing to do....... Sit there and work on your art while folks come and go. I didn't get much actual work done as I spent time talking to folks about what I was doing. One couple spent about half an hour asking me questions and me showing them some things I was doing. I apologize that I forgot to take pics until I was packing up. I may be doing another one of Feb 8 so I promise to take pics then.
Here are some of my photos showing some of the pieces I took to show a variety of techniques.
My summer show entries on display at the Art Gallery during the opening

A Time to Gather overall shot

A Time to Gather - detail shot showing some of the mixed media used in this piece

A Time to Gather was a challenge piece created to enter in local quilt show. We had a packet of fabrics to use and were allowed to add 3 others. I did a "Blomidon" piece without Blomidon - using one of my previous patterns and adapting it from that. This piece was my first "mixed media" piece and uses quite the variety of item on it including silk leaves, a real raffia basket, artificial fruit and veggies, fruit/veggie buttons and a REAL wooden picket fence (from a scrapbooking supply store). It was very fun to do. I also used some machien trupunto on the tree trunk and appliqued it on as a separate item. It was my usual hurry up and make the deadline style I used back then. I pulled into the yard of the person receiving the entries just as they were about to head out to the Guild meeting (in the nick of time!!!). That's about the closest call I've had.

My hardest decision was trying to decide what I would take to work on. When I can't make up my mind, I end up taking much more than I need. I thought I would take along some more altered photographs printed on the cotton inkjet sheets by Jacquard to try using the NeoColour II water soluble crayons and also take my yummy 132 box of Prismacolour artist quality pencil crayons to try on some of the extra silk prints I made in December to compare how I liked the results. With all the chatting I didn't get much done there. I will post more about the results of these trials in another post.
I took a number of the books I bought myself for Christmas so people could see the variety of fibre art techniques and methods.
The 2 hours flew by fast and I managed to get it packed up and ready to go by the time the library closed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Beginnings

Today is a big day for my US friends and for the world as well. Barack Obama is being inaugurated today. I plan to spend that time quilting on my charm quilt and listening to/watching coverage. I have been an event "junkie" since I was young - one of the boomers who has lived the important events on radio and tv. Since I am home, there is no way I was going to miss this one. There was a lot of coverage on both tv and computer, so I brought the laptop into the living room so I could see different coverage of the event. I have only 1 channel I can get right now since I don't have cable or satellite tv - just my rabbit ears.
I also decided that I could probably get a decent amount of handquilting in as well. My new mantra is that "if the tv is on, I will be handquilting". At least in the living room. I started quilting on the charm quilt yesterday but did not post photos.

Charm quilt in the Hinterberg Floor Frame, tilted to show the intial starting area

It's been quite awhile since I've quilted on a floor frame, and it took a few tripsto the studio to accumulate the things you use while you are hand quilting. I started out learning to quilt as a traditional quilter and have spent lots of time quilting with others around a quilt frame. I don't do a lot of bed quilts, I never have. I have always been able to do fine stitching and was known for it. I plan to quilt this quilt (mine) plus one each for my daughter and one for my son - full size quilts.

L to R: beeswax to use on quilting thread, non-sharp pointed scissors, 1/4 " tape, quilting thread (from my past) and size 12 betweens - my choice of quilting needles

After a lot of thought, I decided to quilt my charm quilt with white quilting thread since that's what we mostly used when I was beginning quilting. I also have several spools of the white quilting thread I used to use back then. My quilt back is a blue and white print, so the white quilting design will let me reverse the quilt from the charm quilt front ot a quilted design blue and white comforter type one - in theory anyway.

You will also notice the uneven edges.......the bottom and top are nicer diamond edges....... I have figured out that I need to fill in the pointier edges along this side and it's opposite. I plan to turn the edges under and bind or just stitch them shut to keep the integrity of the diamond shape template and be "true" to having the one template. Trimming the edges to make a square edge would mean that there is more than one shape in the quilt.

showing the individual block with 1/4" tape marking and beginning to stitch

One of my other major decisions I thought about on and off through the years was how I was going to quilt the charm quilt. Due to the random assembly of the blocks dark medium and light elements, there is no distinct pattern that emerges. Instead, a variety of patterns emerge as you look at different spots on the quilt. I like this aspect of my quilt and didn't want to hinder it. So I finally decided just to quilt 1/4" inside each piece. I will be interested to see what the design looks like on the back. The quilting will be more visible on the dark and more brightly coloured blocks.

Stanza thinks the new quiltframe makes a great perch for looking out the window

Since I am a big meanie and don't want tufts of cat fur on my quilt, I make stanza get off the quilt when I'm working on it. She soon decides that there are other places a kitty can nap. I keep the quilt covered with a flannel sheet when I'm not working on it for two reasons:

1) the window faces east and I dont' want the fabrics to fade - I like to quilt in the natural light in the afternoon

2) it keeps kitty "stuff" off my quilt.

Stanza napping on the Ottoman - she adopted this as her own after we moved into apt

The ottoman was left in the apt when we moved in - it makes a good coffee table with a shelf on it for a hard surface; is a great foot rest when sitting on the couch but it's primary purpose seems to be to serve as Stanza's own private comfort zone!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Off to Maple Creek, SK - a trip to our vet

Stanza and headed late this am for her trip to the vet in Maple Creek. We still use the vet in Maple Creek as they were recommended when we used to live in Gull Lake. They've treated us well and know Stanza so we've kept going there even though we moved to a place with several vets. I like to visit Maple Creek every now and then, it's a nice little day trip. We haven't had a road trip together since we came back from BC in October. The weather was great......warmer than it has been in ages. Should be above freezing before we head home, She settled in once we were on the highway and snoozed most of the way. Once I turned off the Trans Canada, though, she was up looking out the window and checking things it. It always makes me chuckle when she does this.

Stanza checking out what's up in Maple Creek

I spotted this over the street metal silouette which I hadn't remembered seeing on previous trips to Maple Creek. I took a number of photos of it on the way out.........wanted to make sure I got my lunch in at the local lunch spot. Because it was Monday, Currah's Bakery was closed - they make the most awesome cinnamon buns so i didn't get one of them.

Maple Creek street silouette sign

Maple Creek is nestled close to the Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial park and the rolling landscape is great ranching country. It is not unusual to see cowboy hats and boots on "real" cowboys. The first time I drove into Maple Creek I thought it was a place I'd like to live in. It is about a 10 min drive from the Trans Canada highway. I have been known to head into Curragh's for cinnamon bun(s) if I'm going by and have the time. There are folks here with the same last name as me. I ran into some of them at a local rodeo and we are not related' Too bad, they are nice folks and well known ranchers in the area.

Stanza going for a little stroll before heading into the vet office. She is looking quite thin for her

Stanza was her usual trooper self during the exam which was very thorough and included bloodwork to check on a variety of conditions. She was not impressed when they shaved her front paw to take the blood. The blood goes off to Saskatoon on the bus to be tested. Results won't be back until Tuesday or Wednesday. The vet said she had a nodule on the side of her thyroid and had me feel it. Stanza has also lost about 1.5 lbs which is a lot for an approx 8 lb cat. Her thinness at this time of year was one of the things that concerned me. She's usually putting on a bit of weight due to what I call the "fur doily" syndrome (sleeping everywhere) in the winter.

Stanza back at home with her "bandage" just before it was removed

After all the travel and news from the vet we were both a bit tuckered. I got home in time to see an Oprah show I didn't want to miss from Washington DC and stanza went off to catch up on her missing naps and rest up from the indigities she had to endure with her vet visit (they took her temp).

The first piece quilted on the quilt!

I spent several hours quilting on the charm quilt. It's a great de-stressor.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I have been somewhat missing in action from blogging for most of 2008 due to a combination of factors. I am hoping to load some posts from my various travels (backdated) so you can see what I was up to. Since it's January 1, it seems like a good time to get back to posting about my creative activities.

Like many others, I have been encouraged by Christine Kane's blog, to choose a word to guide me throughout the year. After much thought and deliberation I have chosen EMERGE as my word for 2009. Later blog posts will describe how I intend to use this word to meet my goals for 2009. I think it's a word that best describes what I have so far been able to set down on paper regarding my intentions for this year. I have also been much inspired by Lisa Call's blog Lisa is very generous in sharing her thoughts and processes about her work and decision making.

For Christmas this year, I gave myself the gift of books. Books to assist me on my own journey as an artist. I may share some of those along the way. I look forward to reading them and absorbing them. I used a daytimer for years and haven't the past couple of years while my life has been in flux. To keep better track of my time, goals and work towards them, I bought a 2 page/day one so I could track where I am spending my time and where I might rather spend it. I am counting on this tool as an important one to help the organized Louise EMERGE once again.
When I write down what I want to get done the next day it means I already know where to start in the morning instead of wondering what needs to be done first.

Stanza has a more open attitude to her day however -