Friday, July 25, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole - Off the Wall Friday

I'm Grumpy.  How often does that happen??. . NEVER.  Needless to say  - I'm Grumpy.  The week hasn't gone my way - and now that its Thursday - its getting on my last nerve.

First of all - I had a wake up call this week from Elizabeth that I - like Alice - had taken a trip down a rabbit hole.  And she was right - as usual.  I handed in one sketch of what I wanted my homework piece to look like and ended up blocking out a whole other one.  Now that wouldn't be such a bad thing - if it was stronger - but it wasn't  - sighhhhh.  I mention this because lots of times when a piece goes wrong its because we strayed too far from the original sketch and values.

This is NOT the sketch

Then I spent today going to a doctor's appointment which was cancelled . . . after I made the 45 minute trip there.  The rest of the day was spent basting my curves piece which is my least favorite part of the whole process.  Of course, the sandwich is a bit off - so it will have to be done again. Ohhh and yeah - the piece is too big for my work table - so I'm doing it on the floor.

So I'm grumpy.  But I won't wallow too long - I promise!  I'm going to remind myself that all my best pieces were the most work.  That eventually the doctor will get his act together  and get my appointment right.  And the only thing I have to do to fix my homework is follow my sketch - grin - go figure!

So hopefully your week is going better!

What have you been up to Creatively?

Friday, July 18, 2014

July's Rhythm - Off the Wall Friday

After 10 hours in the studio today, I had to call "Uncle".  I really wanted to finish blocking out my July assignment on Rhythm but when all the fabrics start looking a like - ya know its time to quit! 

I gotta say I've thoroughly enjoyed this month's assignment.  First not only am I a music girl at heart but Elizabeth was kind enough to allow me to use one of my favorite songs to base my work on.  I picked the theme song from  the TV show, Justified - Long Hard Times To Come by Gangstagrass.  I love this song because it mixes the hip hop rap over a traditional bluegrass back beat.  Also, its not a secret that I have a huge crush on the main character, Raylan Givens.  With this assignment I get to mix three loves into one!


So playing the song over, and over, and over - managed to come up with two main sketches with value drawings.  With decent critiques on both - I chose the one that I thought spoke the most about the song - I wanted to express how the song was one rhythm laid over the other.

My next step was to play with my black, brown and white paper making value layouts.  I tried a ton and came up with a few possibilities.  I picked one but I'm still not totally sold on it.  The nice thing about this design is that I can still change it around on my design board if I want to because ya know how it is. . . ."Make visual decisions visually".

Even with all that planning, I was actually surprised to see my idea come to light on this piece.  It looks even better than I imagine.  Of course, that last 6 blocks will pull it all together - plus I think I'll be adding more accent pieces, but  you get the gist. Yes - I glued fused them. GASP!   With trying to get The Curves done too - its just faster this way.
 Its going to be fun playing with different quilting ideas.

Its 36" by 36" so its a good size as a model for a bigger piece.

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Where Bloggers Create - My Studio

I came across Karen Valentine's "Where Bloggers Create"  blog party and I thought I would join since I run an on-going similar link up on my blog.

If you're new to my blog, I create in Queen Anne Victorian's front parlor which we converted into a working studio just over a year ago.  Now with 14 rooms in this house, I  never had a designated space for my art not counting my old sewing hole (which was dysfunctional at best).  Its not large but it is functional.  Since I not only do art quilting but also messy surface design and hand dyeing in there I haven't taken the time to overly decorate it.  In fact, I'm kinda digging the splatters of paint and dye here and there - I think it looks more authentic that way - grin!

On my art quilt list, we recently had a discussion on where we like to create.  Are our spaces all neat and clean or cluttered and cramped?  Do we like to have a lot of stuff surrounding the space as we create or is a  clean palette more pleasing?  For me, I like to have most of the storage outside my space.  My fabric storage  is up in my third floor dressing room.  My art books are in the den.  I try to keep just what I'm working on at the moment in my studio.  Sometimes I'm successful at this and sometimes not.  Twice in the last year I've had to overhaul and shovel out all the things that truly don't belong in there.

Here is studio's history from last year.  I know its not the prettiest space - nor the largest  - nor the most decked out - but after a year of having it - I can truly say its my favorite room in the house!
Where Bloggers Create

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Curves Continue - Off the Wall Friday

I'm not very good at working on two projects at once.  I know that most quilters do work this way since bringing a quilt to completion is such an arduous task.  Still, I'm not that kind of chick.  Usually, once I start a piece I march through it like a women on a mission.  That would explain why while doing this masterclass, I really haven't gotten any of my own initiated work done.  Elizabeth has given me quilt quite enough missions to keep me busy. 

But this month its going to be different.  It has to be different.  I am endeavoring  to finish  my curves piece to enter in  the  Quilts = Art = Quilts show sponsored by Schweinfurth Art Center. (Not that I expect to get in but I love this venue and fully intend to support it!)  Plus I need to get back to my Masterclass which I find immensely fulfilling  (yes - I know you all realize I have a love/hate relationship going on with this class - but what can I say?  I'm  a sucker for a challenge -grin!)

So in that light, I continued on with the curves, finally working into new territory with it.  The last month, I've gone over each section - redrafting and repiecing  them so that they fit together nicely and are ready for the final quilting process.  Its a long and very boring process but I think finally its coming together.  I'm so glad the spray starch gave the pieces the stability they were crying out for. 

I also decided on which sketch to do for my rhythm exercise.  Elizabeth liked both (which I was glad about).  I think I'm going to do one this month on a smaller scale in hopes that it will be a nice mock up for a larger piece. 

But alas, between medical appointments this week, I didn't get to actually start on it - but I promise I will in time for next week's post!

So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Catch the Beat - Rhythm - Off the Wall Friday

Rhythm created by Line and Shape  (this is Pittsburgh's Children's Museum)

Is anybody wondering where June went?  I lost most the month to being sick but it seems like finally I'm on the mend.  Elizabeth is helping me get back into the routine of things with giving us our new assignment of the month - Rhythm.  Now that's a topic close to my heart.

If there is anything I love as much as needle and thread, its music.  I never go anywhere without it and its essential in my studio.  Not to mention I've been known to play an instrument or two.  AND there is nothing I love more than a song with a thick, fat beat!

So that all said I did spend some time today researching rhythm.  One thing I noticed is that with my roots in quilting firmly on the traditional side, I already have been designing with rhythm for literally 20 years.  I mean I'm quite sure my full size quilt with over 4,200 of the same shape  over and over and well - over - would fall under "Rhythm".

But it rhythm is created through the use of repeating shape.  You can also use gradations of shapes (going bigger to smaller or visa versa) as well as using rhythm by radiation (shapes coming off of one central point).

It seems that  the rhythm of a design allows the viewers eye  to see a recognizable pattern which in turn leads to a better understanding of the over all piece.  Not to mention its a great way to give movement  and balance to a piece.
(Who knew?  grin)

Now with the basics down, I can start creating a  sketches and get my homework in!  

So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Improvisational Piecing - Off the Wall Friday

More than once during my week at QSDS, I was asked about my piecing method.  I never really "learned" it from any place.  Its just something I started doing to create a certain effect.  Since its not hard and  the kind of thing you can personalize with your own style, I thought I would write up a tutorial.

1. Choose Your Palette - Decide what colors you need in the space you want to improv piece.  I do this two ways - I either pull out my color wheel (and all the color theory behind it) or I use a picture that I like to help me pick the colors.  Either way make sure have a full range of values and saturation of the colors.  Lots of times (like with the curves) I do a monochromatic palette adding in just a neutral color (black, grey, brown, white).  Adding the different saturations of color and neutral is important since it will give the piece interest.

2.  Lay Out Your Values and Saturations - I usually make little piles going from Light to Dark and the muddy saturations I keep on the side.  (Red Solo Cup Dye fabrics are perfect for the "muddy" fabrics).  Cut hunks off each pile.  How big the hunks are depend on how big the area you are making.

3.  Cut the hunks into manageable pieces - usually 3 or 4 sided shapes 4 - 8" big (or whatever - you know how I am - grin).  You want to pay attention to the values here.  If you want an all over chaotic look you can mix all the values.  If you want your piece to have a dark look - choose mostly darks with a few mediums and a very little light for spark.  With a light area I just tend to stick to the lights with a bit of medium.  I always make sure to add in some neutrals and a bit of an accent color.

4.  Pair them together.  Sew with 1/4" seam (or whatever).  Iron.  Trim off any uneven edges  - making straight edges easily pieced again.  Sometimes at this point I will cut a piece in half or on the diagonal  or where ever to be paired with another piece of fabric.

5.  Repeat step 4 until you have a bunch of interesting blocks of varied shapes.  Mine tend to end up rectangles.

6.  Decide how big a shape you need to improv piece.  (If you haven't already) I usually have a tracing paper pattern that I can lay my rectangles out on - piece all the rectangles.  Cut out the shape.  If you're doing it for a background like in Praise ladies - I only pieced the background you could see - then used muslin behind The Ladies.  It took a little thought process but it was a lot faster than piecing a whole background that you wouldn't see behind them.

7.  Press With Spray Starch or some other stiffner.  This is important.  Once you've pieced and repieced and repieced the fabric, all those bias edges get very stretchy.  The spray starch will add some stability and make your life a LOT easier.

A Word About Spray Starch: I've been using a heavy spray starch which has worked great.  But until Mary Jo Bowers clued me in, I had no idea that it leaves a residue.  So now I use my ironing sheet - also I spray and iron on the backside because sometimes the pieces can get shiny ( I do starch with a very heavy hand since I rough edge applique my pieces.)

8.  Cut the pieced improv pieces to the size area you need - using a pattern or dimensions.  Give a final press and final trim.

9.  Important - Save all trimmings except for the itsy-bitsy tiny ones.  Through out the whole process this is true.  All the scraps can be pieced back into blocks which add surprising little gems of interest.  This will create an look of complex piecing without much effort.  At the end,  I save all interesting bits in a baggie by color.

See Easy-Peasy, right?  Things to remember - don't try to be too matchy-matchy.  Mix in the saturations that you normally wouldn't think go together - like the warm greens with the cool greens etc.  Remember the mood you are trying to create.  Do you want a happy mood - use a lot of pure bright colors - sad mood - use a lot of muddy colors.  You can choose a palette of neutrals with a bit of color for a calm mood.  Also - think about scale - you can do this using big hunks of shapes or you can get as complex as your patience will allow.

Please feel free to email me with any questions!  Remember if you have your comments set to "No-Reply Comments"  I can't email back.

So What have you been up to creatively?

Friday, June 20, 2014

QSDS - A Review - Off the Wall Friday

Sunset from my Classroom window

Because I've decided to keep my progress on The Curves under wraps for a bit, I thought I would do a review of my week at Quilt Surface and Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio.

Although this was my first time at QSDS, I've been going to quilt conferences for 15 years.  As in most things in life, this one had some things I really liked and some things that I really didn't.

The Things I Liked

  •  The City - Columbus is gorgeous.  The conference is held downtown at the Columbus College of Art and Design.  All the classrooms and campus suites are pretty much in the same block and its easy to get around.  The parking is plentiful, free and close.  The Campus is close to the interstate.
  • My Classroom - We had this huge - very huge - space.  In the master's class they gave us  2- ft tables and two design boards.  There was also a conference room for our use and a huge set of tables to lay out quilts if you needed too.  Electricity and light were adequate.

  • My teacher - Sue Benner - was great.  She knew how to offer advice when needed and back off when not.  She facilitated great discussions each day and kept some kind of structured to this non structured class.  I would recommend anybody take her.
  • Opening Lecture by Michael Mrowka of Batik fame was excellent - probably the best I've heard in 15 yrs.  He told the story of how he and his wife, Debra Lunn work directly with a batik factory in Java Indonesia where they strive to make a difference in the factory's community.  Amazing!  (I really didn't realize that all batiks are STILL made by hand!)
  • My Suite  - I really loved where we stayed.  The suite had 4 very small bedrooms and two baths, a complete kitchenette (with a nice table) and modern decor.  The living room wall was completely glass and you could look out over the city.  The elevators and big bins made moving in and out a snap!
    View From My Living Room
  • 7 Day structure - Classes run 2, 3, 5 or 7 days.  I love that.  The 7 days was plenty to get something done!

The Things I Didn't

CCAD Campus is Pretty and Convient
  • The Food - Now let me preface this with, I'm not a fussy eater but I do expect to get fed.  This unlike other conferences leave meals up to the quilter.  You can buy a meal ticket and eat in the college dining hall.  The food was horrible.  Deep Fried food (sometimes cold), little to no staff, little variety (menus repeated).  You could go to the near by grocery which was Amazing but expensive and who wants to eat take out 3 meals a day?  You could cook in the kitchenette - UGH!  or eat out at restaurants.  With all these choices, everyone seemed to go their separate ways for meals and you didn't have a big chance to meet anybody in other classes. All of this added up that too much time was spent  trying to decide what I was going to do about eating.  
  • The Organization - Before the conference emails went unanswered, payments and due dates not done on time, inaccurate website.  During the conference, the communication is lacking and programs started late.  
  • Wednesday Afternoon Off  - On Wednesday classes only go to lunch time.  After that the conference offers a nice bus tour of local venues that might be of interest to a quilter (at an additional fee).  You could work in your classroom instead but there was no teacher at that time.
  • The Size - this conference is small.  Many classes were cancelled this year because they did not fill and there didn't seemed to be a huge amount of quilters around.  Also I didn't meet anybody younger than me all week (I'm 48).
  • The Vendors - there wasn't a big number of vendors so you'll want  to make sure you have what you need with you or expect to go looking for the closest Joann's or LQS.
I guess I've come to expect my week away to feel like summer camp for quilters where you eat, breathe, talk quilting all week long.  Instead this kind of felt more like taking a class at home but you're sleeping in a strange bed.

In all fairness, I talked briefly with a lady in the elevator (the one place I did chat with other quilters) who loved the food - hated the suites!  And my friend, Pam, LOVED eating alone (or with her roomies) up in the suite each meal.  She liked the quiet beak away from her stressful job.   But even she was tired of take out food by the end of the week.

What you been up to creatively this week?