Monday, November 09, 2009

Incorporating ubuntu...or How I Spent My Weekend

Desmond Tutu is one of my favorite people in the world.  Tiny in stature, but oversized in courage and heart, he still travels worldwide on his personal mission of social justice.  One of the recurring concepts in Rev. Tutu's talks is that of ubuntu, which means, I am because we all are.   Quite simply, it's a reminder that we are all connected in so many ways....six (or less) degrees of separation.  I think that is why the social networking sites are so popular; spending time with your computer used to be very isolating.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace bring us back to an essential necessity--to connect with other people, rediscovering ubuntu.  Meetup takes it one step further by bringing people with like interests together, face to face, the way people used to get together

This was an exceptionally busy weekend for me.  I am in the midst of preparing for three upcoming sales, a beading class I am teaching at Nubian Heritage Quilters, plus the demands of the new studio, Inspired ACTS.  These days times is more valuable than money.

On Saturday, I headed to an annual gathering of friends at the home of the sister of one of my closest friends.  This is the 20th such gathering, and we have come together over the years to talk about a wide variety of  things...sometimes it was a book, sometimes it was a topic---breast cancer, men, financial management.  It was, and continues to be, a bonding experience.  The hostess calls it Girl Talk, and I named one of my quilts after it.  A few years ago, my friend asked me to bring my quilts so others could see them.  The first time I did it, I sold a couple, and have brought them and sold a few ever since.   While it is not the purpose of the gathering, in essence it is, because it is about supporting and listening to each other.  I am thankful for both opportunities...the opportunity to join the circle of these loving, cherished women again, and the chance to share my art with them.  I am because we all are.

On Sunday, I headed to church, and reconnected with a former intern who will most certainly make an phenomenal priest very soon. Her sermons were magic, and I made some suggestions about how she could use post-its to accentuate the annotated bible she is allowed to bring for her priest license (my words, not hers!) exam.   She and I shared a moment last year where we saw exactly the same thing on someone's jewelry.  We didn't understand that the pin should read Obama 08.  I won't say what we saw....LOL!

I headed into NYC to attend the Empire Quilters Guild meeting.  Normally we meet on the second Saturday, but sometimes our meeting room at FIT is not available.  Our speaker was a friend of mine, the talented Sherry Shine, who displayed her amazing portrait quilts, shared her artistic journey, and explains her artistic process. EQG is not a traditional quilt guild by any means; they have a very broad definition of a quilt.  I would venture to say, however, that many of them had not seen work like Sherry's, which almost always features beautiful black women.  During her talk, Sherry also explained how a workshop with Rayna Gillman expanded her creative horizons, freeing her to use everyday items to create the backgrounds for her artwork.  I am because we all are.

I had to leave the guild meeting a little early to head uptown and support a fellow member of Quilters of Color Network of NYEdward Bostick. Ed has two very different quilting styles.  One style features traditional piecing methods, but with a stunning array of colors; the other style incorporates portraits of famous African Americans. In the pictorials,  Ed incorporates the artwork of Vincent Melbourne then adds colorful piecing elements.  Most of his quilts feature lovely quilting by Janice Jamison...more ubuntu!

My final stop was a lovely visit with my mother, who is in a long convalescent stay in Riverdale (NYC).  We talked and about my art and life, and she admired a piece I was embroidering.  It was one of the best visits in recent memory.  Throughout these connections all weekend, I was repeatedly thankful for each and every one of them; they enrich me personally, professionally, all parts of my whole.  I am because we all are, indeed, Rev.Tutu.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Weekly Tip: Taming Thread

I don't do lots of hand sewing, but when I do, I do a little bit of prep work to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.  To make quilting thread tangle less and go through your fabric like butter, cut thread (many different colors, or a single color) to 18" lengths.  Place it on a piece of waxed paper, fold the waxed paper over the thread, then place the folded waxed paper between two pieces of parchment, or in a brown paper bag.  Iron with a warm iron.  To store up to ten threaded needles, untangled, and ready to sew, get yourself a Clover Dome Threaded Needle Case.  

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Open House Event

The Inspired ACTS studio open house  in Harlem was a wonderful event yesterday.  We got a chance to share our space with fellow artists, friends and family.  The studio is a teaching studio, and based on the response, our hope of nuturing and sharing creativity will soon be realized.

I got a jump on my creativity efforts by building the table, design wall, and ironing surfaces in the studio.  Teresa, Chandra and I worked on the studio banner.  With our artwork and samples hung, the studio oozed with positive creative energy.  Our guests completed the picture.  I have a few pictures in my Picasa album.  I was busy with my hosting duties...explaining classes, tours of Workspace Harlem, etc.

Our schedule for November and December are done, as is our class descriptions.  If you'd like a copy, or would like to be on our e-mailing list, click here.  Put Class Info or Mailing List in the subject matter, and we'll take it from there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The studio is open! The studio is open!

Folks who know me know that they can come to me and ask me how to do something, and if I know it, I'll be happy to tell, show, or teach them; if I don't know, I'll direct them to someone who likely does.  I've gained a lot of knowledge by asking, or traveling to shows and attending classes.  Everyone I've met has been generous with the knowledge, and it has helped me grow artistically.

Now it's my turn.  I am a part of a studio, Inspired ACTS, and I plan to use the studio to share the fiber arts and crafts I've learned over the years.  There'll be dyeing, surface design, traditional and art quilt techniques, wearables, accessories....who knows what else?  I'm learning new things every day!

The studio is located in Workspace Harlem, at 2340 Fifth Avenue between 141 and 142 Streets.  It's easily accessible by train or bus, and free parking is plentiful (by NYC standards).  The studio has ginormous windows providing natural light, plus great overhead lighting.  Our studio was once a science lab, and we have sinks in the room.  We have a large table, design wall, and ironing tables (you can't see the ironing tables from this angle).  On the design wall is a banner created by the three studio mates which will greet you as you enter the studio.  We're finalizing the class schedule, so please visit the site, and sign up for our email updates.

Weekly Tip: Tilting your Machine

I promise to post a photo over the weekend, but I think you'll get the gist of this tip without it.  Last week, at a workshop, one of the attendees chose to stand and sew because she could not see the top of her machine too well while sitting down.  You could purchase one of those tilt tables, which are great, but pricey, or you can use this trick that will cost you less than five dollars:  buy a couple of doorstops, and slide them under the back of the machine.   This will tilt your machine, and give you a better view of what you are sewing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Studio Open House...You're Invited

On Saturday, October 31, Inspired ACTS will host an open house.  This artists' studio, housed in Workspace Harlem,  2340 Fifth Avenue between 141 and 142 Streets, is home to me, Teresa Vega, and Chandra Travis.  We are excited about our opening, and are looking forward to sharing our talents with other creative souls.  Our mission, as our name suggests, is to inspire our students to act creatively.  ACT also comprises our first initials--clever, aren't we?  We believe everyone, including us, can be more creative when in creative place, with other creative people.

At our open house, you'll get to see our studio, pictured above, and see some of the classes we'll be teaching.  In addition to classes, we'll be opening our studio space for people who need a place to get messy, such as Art Quilt and Dyeing playdates.  (Yes, adults need playdates too!)

What will we be teaching?  Surface Design, Hand Dyeing, Needlefelting, Fabric Collage, Altered Lace, Collographs, Adinkra & Taino Applique Quilt, Photo Transfer, Batik, Indigo, Discharging, Silkscreening, T-Shirt Quilts, Memory Quilts.  There will be some traditional quilting classes as well.  Classes have various skill levels.

Come join us on Halloween.  We'll have treats, no tricks!  Because of building security, you must RSVP, which you can do by clicking here, sending your name and email address.  We look forward to seeing all of our friends and fellow artists!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Weekly Tip: Channelling Einstein

A few years ago, I had the chance to attend the Einstein exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.  I already knew Einstein was smart...a genius...but I also have come to believe he would make a helluva quilter.  He had a sense of playfulness and simplicity that would work marvelously in the fiber arts.

One of the things I learned is that Einstein did not use his substantial brainpower on just anything.  For instance, if you see photos of Einstein, you will notice that he is wearing virtually the same outfit.  Apparently, he bought several of the same item...the same jacket, shirt, shoes, socks...and simply rotated them.  He didn't want to have to think about something as ordinary as clothes.  I have to say this works a lot better if you are a man (even if you're not a genius)  in the early 20th century.

I have taken several of my tasks and "Einsteined" them.  In this I rarely have to think about these tasks, and it makes it easier for me to get them done.  Here is one that I use for sleeves. I will post other "Einstein tips" in coming weeks.

I sleeve all of my art quilts, and many of my bed quilts, specifically the ones still in my possession.  This is simply because I don't know which ones will be submitted for an upcoming show.  Yet, this is not the Einstein portion of this task.  Einstein helped with the process of making the sleeves.  What I do is take long lengths (perhaps 5 yards) of muslin, cut them to a 9" width, fold them in half, and sew a seam on the long end.  I then roll them around tubes, pin and rubber band them.  I cut the lengths I need, and I have ready to go sleeves that need only be attached to the top of the quilt, and turn the short edges in 1/4" and hem their short edges.  I then do not have to worry about what fabric I use for the sleeve.  I use the muslin no matter what fabrics are used on the rest of the quilt.  If I'm feeling extra creative, I can stamp or put Paintstik rubbings on the sleeve, but since it's not a part of the quilt that is likely to win or lose points for me during judging, I save my meek brainpower for other aspects of my quilting process.

On Being Flexible

Have you ever been in this situation?  You're with a group of people doing an activity, and something unplanned, and inconvenient happens.  How you do respond?

As the Program co-chair for Garden State Quilters, one of the responsibilities I share with Becky Dieckmann (my co-chair) is attending the workshops as the host.  The workshop was in my church's beautiful parish hall when all of a sudden, the irons blew the circuit. I'll tell you what I did as host in a minute, but my question to you is would you:

a) complain about not being able to work in a suitable space, but stay;
b) ask for your money back and go home;
c) stay and do what you can do until the lights come back on;
d) find a comfy chair and nap.

As the host, I tried to (unsuccessfully) find a circuit box with a tripped switch, then called someone to help.  I am happy, proud, impressed as hell to say the other ten people and the instructor chose (c).  While they could have done any of the other things, and justifiably so, they did what I would have done had I been on the other side.  There is a proverb, which is believe is Jewish in origin:  It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.  I have always loved this saying, but did not know I would understand it literally.

Many thanks are also due to the instructor, Didi Salvatierra, who was able to direct us to non-electrical tasks while we waited for the lights.  Everyone present possessed two important life skills which are necessary, but cannot be taught: flexibility, and a sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weekly tip: The Most Important Tool

Of all the tools in your studio, be it a kitchen corner, dining room table or studio, the most important one is YOU. Without it, that full-featured machine, the most wonderful gadget, the most perfect fabric is nothing.

Today's tip is one that will keep your most important tool from becoming overworked.  Use a minute timer wherever you sew and set it to 1 hour.   At the end of the hour, stand up, walk to the other side of the room, and do a minimum of these five "stretches".  (I'll post some more exercises later, but these are the basics).
  1. Neck roll.  While standing, keeping your shoulders down, try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder, then look up, try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder, then drop your chin to your chest.  Repeat three times, then reverse directions.
  2. Shoulder shrug.  Now is the time to bring those shoulders up toward your ears, then let them drop.  Do this ten times.
  3. Wrist flex.  Put your right hand directly in front of you as if you are singing the Supremes' Stop! In the Name of LoveI know you know the song, and the movement, too!  Use your left hand to gently flex the fingers back, until you feel the stretch in your wrist, and hold it for a few (that's three, people!) seconds.  Switch hands, and repeat the stretch with your left hand out and your right hand flexing your fingers.  Repeat three times for each hand.
  4. Back flex.  This reminds me of the chant of young girls  (We must, we must, we must increase the bust!)  LOL!    With both arms extended in front of you, hands closed (as if you are rowing) keep hands at chest level and slowly pull your hands back (as if you are pulling the oars back).    When your hands are back, hold the stretch for a few seconds, then return to the extended position.  Repeat five times.
  5. Eye Stretch.  While sewing, your eye muscles have been locked in a very near-sighted position.  To relax them, you need to focus on something in the distance.  This one requires a little preparation.  Either print an eye chart, or an inspiring quote and tape it in a place where you can look at it from across the room.  You may need to close your eyes (several times for me) to refocus, but keep trying until you can see the text.  If you have a window, focus on something outside in the distance.
Take care of your most important tool.  Maintenance is always cheaper, and less painful than repair.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Trip to Oaks, PA, September 2009

Last month, I attended the Mancuso quilt show, PA National Quilt Extravaganza.  This show is in its third incarnation, having been at Ft. Washington, and Harrisburg before it.  I think the third time is the charm.  The show had a large number of quilts, and vendors to match with products to tempt quilters to shop.  Many of the quilts were mini-shows, for example, a group featuring quilts from SAQA, a show featuring the Hoffman Challenge fabric, a show featuring quilts made during WWII, and a show featuring international quilts.

Remember my weekly tip, ABC--always bring a camera?  Well the codicil to that is always make sure said camera is charged.  My camera died five shots into my adventure.  Luckily for me, I knew almost 40 other people present from my various guild activities, and found three who offered me their cameras.  Unfortunately, the uncharged battery demon also struck the second camera, but I managed to shoot the rest of the show with a third camera.  I finally have gathered all the photos.  You can see them by clicking here.  Many thanks to Sylvia, Wannetta and Josaine.

The best thing about quilting shows is meeting people.  I also belong to Yahoo Groups African American Quilters.  While we most often see each other online, from time to time we do get to meet in person.  In the photo is Jeanyne James,  whose booth featured extraordinary collectibles, ceramics, pins, and home decor.  I couldn't resist buying one of her beautiful pins.

I had hoped my next trip would be Houston, but without a Saturday stay, the cost has become prohibitive; I'll have to catch the quilts in Chicago!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weekly Tip: ABC

My weekly tip is late, but timely.  Have you ever been walking somewhere and seen a dress and thought, "that would make a great quilt" or seen a background design on a pillow, a tablecloth and thought "that would make a great quilting design"?

ABC stands for:  Always Bring a Camera.  The camera will allow you to capture those ideas while they're fresh, even if you don't use them right away.  The world is full of vibrant patterns and textures, just waiting to be worked into one of your creations!  In a class or workshop, teachers or classmates will often allow you to photograph their pieces--not to be copied, mind you, but for inspiration.

The camera can also serve as a layout helper.  If you lay out your pieces/blocks/design on a design wall or table, you can use the viewfinder as a reducing glass, giving you a better perspective (specifically one from a distance).  You can photograph the layout, switch it around, and then compare several layout options simultaneously if you have a computer nearby, or consecutively if you don't, then choose the one you like best, and reconstruct the design by using the photo.

To show that I practice what I preach, here's my tale.  I recently accompanied a friend to an eye surgery appointment.  As I waited, I noticed the really cool texture of the carpet, as well as the groovy design on the chair upholstery. I pulled out my camera and took pictures, ignoring the quizzical looks from the other people in the waiting room.  I will create a Thermofax screen from the carpet photos--I deliberately took one on an angle--and I've already doodled the upholstery design in my sketchbook for FMQ.  (See my earlier post about the importance of doodling). I'll blog some more about the beauty of a Thermofax machine soon!

Tuesday Night Group: Bev & Friends, Happy Villages

In an earlier post, I promised to write about quilter Beverly's goddess doll collection, which is several hundred strong.  Beverly started making the dolls as a guild project, and by the time she stopped, she had made something like 300 of she has the task of stuffing them.  Each one is different and has its own beauty, like people.  She brings them to our Tuesday night gathering, and if anyone is taking a break, or has come to a point where they can stop early, we help her with the project.  When she has finished stuffing them, she will be embellishing them with all kinds of features, ornaments, and accessories.

During the summer, we decided that on the fifth Tuesday, one of us would show the others how to do something...a technique or a mini-workshop.  The first one was lead by me, and the group chose Happy Villages.  Karen Eckmeier, the creator of Happy Villages, taught this at Garden State Quilters a while ago.  It is a wonderful fabric collage project, a great way of using scraps of all kinds of fabrics, and one of the most stress-free projects I've ever done.  The hardest part was convincing the group not to stress over how they laid out their backgrounds!  By the end of the evening, I think they understood why I kept saying, "it doesn't matter" over and over again.  You cannot mess up this project.  It would be fun to do with kids as well, as long as you trust them with scissors, or you could do the cutting for them.   A village can be completed in just a few hours.  We swapped fabrics and laughed throughout the evening.  Next week, we'll finish up the project, giving the group a chance to practice their FMQ skills on the quilt top. I took photos of the four villages.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekly Tip: Faux Needleturn Applique

You can take a used dryer sheet and use it to create easy needleturn-like appliqués.  Trace your appliqué motif, adding a scant 1/4” seam allowance onto the wrong side of your fabric.  Sew the dryer sheet and the fabric right sides together, using the traced line as your guide.  Press the piece flat and trim a 1/4” seam.  Carefully snip a 1” slit.  Use your judgment when clipping the slit; make it larger or smaller depending on the size of your piece.  Using the slit, turn the piece right side out, and press again.   You will have a beautiful faux needleturn piece, which you can stitch (by machine or hand) or glue to your background fabric.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art Adventure on Riverside or It's A Small World, After All

Last night I went to the opening of Judy Langille's Torn Forms exhibit.  I first met Judy when I was stranded (although I guess it's not stranded if you're at home) by American Airlines last year on my way to IQF Chicago.  When it became apparent I was not going to my Thermofax workshop in Chicago, I looked around for local classes, and found Judy's class at the Newark Museum.  It opened up a completely different way for me to explore surface design, and I bought a Thermofax machine as a direct result of that class.

Judy has a wonderful eye for color and texture.  Her designs are simple and wonderfully complex at the same time.  To each element in the piece, she adds glorious textures.  The Treasure Room Gallery at the Interchurch Center offered a perfect background for her beautiful art.

The piece pictured on the right was my favorite.  My photo does little justice to the ethereal quality of the piece, which appeared to be a silk organza.  It floated above us, ever so slightly undulating--sheer beauty.  For me, it is an inspirational/aspirational piece.

I wished I had gotten a photo of Judy in front of one of her pieces.  By the time I caught up with her, I didn't want to interrupt her.  Fortunately, Rayna Gillman posted a photo on her blog.

Judy is teaching a Torn Paper and Textures workshop at the Newark Museum.  You can download the pdf by clicking here.  I've created a Picasa album for the evening.

It is a small world!  On my way to the museum, I ran into a neighbor/artist, Lisa, who was with another friend, Susan.  We are all so very connected, and I for one am thankful for it.  I love being around creative people!  In the photo, left-to right;  Rachel and I both belong to Garden State Quilters.  I met Rayna in person, (long after we met online) at a batik class; Sherry and I have a wide variety of connections.  Joan & I live in the same town.  Wonderful artists, all!

Rayna graciously offered me a ride back to NJ.  Rachel, Rayna, Sherry and I talked nonstop, finding that we had more friends in common.  We will likely take another art adventure together in the future.  Sherry gave me a lift back to my car, and I invited her to take a peek in on our Tuesday Night Group.  As I didn't have a machine with me, I helped another friend, Beverly, stuff some of the 300 goddess dolls she's made.  I will post a picture of Bev and her dolls soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On Men & Quilting

Over the last three days, two of them were spent with strange men.  (Bet that got your attention, didn't it?)  On Saturday, Empire Quilters welcomed David Taylor as their monthly speaker.  Last night, Garden State Quilters welcomed Mark Lipinksi as their speaker.

They had a number of things in common.  Both men were uproariously funny about how they came to be quilters.  Both men displayed a tremendous amount of hubris about their art, and are incredibly comfortable with doing what they do.  Both men have been so successful that they have given up their day jobs to pursue their quilting businesses full time. Both men are extremely personable, whether sharing a bag of caramel rice cakes, or schlepping bins of quilts.  You'd enjoy hanging out with them.

They had a number of things that differentiate them.  David's quilts are gorgeous, intricate portraits; his attention to detail rivals that of Jinny Beyer, Paula Nadelstern, or Jean BiddickDavid's beautiful quilts are wonderful portraits, snapshots of nature's beauty.  Mark's lovely quilts are seemingly more traditional; pieced, but using vibrant color schemes and patterns, which match Mark's personality.  I have a theory about this...keep reading. 

I wondered two things as I saw them both:  what drives a man to want to enter a world dominated (artistically, but not in the business side--again, keep reading!) by women?  One of the things I've observed is that male quilters seem to have a quicker route to superstardom; their uniqueness gives them a competitive edge.  I also notice that the men take huge leaps of faith, whether it's Mark Lipinksi starting Quilter's Home magazine, John Flynn creating his own tabletop quilting system, or Ricky Tims snapping up Alex Anderson for The Quilt Show.  I'm not hatin', as my niece would say, but I know equally talented women who are equally deserving of opportunities and accolades.

David's quilts are a result of what seems like thousands of careful choices.   For instance, if you see Keeping Watch Over Carlson Ranch to the right, you would not believe the pile (I think it was 38) of fabric used to create the piece.  All of his quilts have frequent changes in the top thread; he also changes the bobbin thread to match the top thread  Visually, the back of his quilts are nearly as stunning as the front, essentially two beautiful pieces of art. He sees the possibilities in photos, such as Sally at the Window, owned by Alex Anderson.  David's quilts have deservedly won awards at all the major shows.

Mark detailed his quilting journey, from first seeing Eleanor Burns and thinking, "I could do that!" to the present, where he is designing patterns, designing fabric, publishing Quilter's Home, and co-hosting an online show, Quilt Out Loud! . Mark said two things that struck a chord with me last night.  The first was that for a business whose primary audience is nearly 100% female, there are very few women in positions of authority in the quilting industry. It is an industry dominated by men who are making the rules, and setting the agenda.  When he said this, I thought of the fashion industry, constantly showing women who look like they haven't had a good meal in years, in shoes that we couldn't walk a block in, wearing clothes that weren't designed for average women.   We need to support the women in our business who support us.  Karey Bresenhan comes to mind, as does Pokey Bolton, and of course Alex Anderson.   They created their industries, blazing a trail for others to follow.  They continue to support and encourage quilters to value their work, and creativity.

The second dealt with issues of censorship, and Mark was incensed that guilds were rejecting member quilts from their shows because it might offend someone.  He distinguished this situation from a juried show, where the organizer has the right to accept or reject a piece for any number of reasons.  It made me think of the rapid  changes I have seen at quilt shows in general.  When I first went to shows, art quilts were the ugly stepsisters.  The quilts I saw were typically made for a bed, pieced, using commercial, floral prints and/or little color variety.  Carol Bryer Fallert's  and Hollis Chatelain's work were revelations.  More and more I am seeing an explosion of art quilts, using wildly varied techniques and a mixture of store-bought plus fabrics and embellishments you won't find on a quilt store shelf.  It's a veritable UNLEASHING of creativity!  Now the art quilts are beginning to win awards, and hang beautifully amongst the traditionals.

Now for my theory on Mark's fearlessness when it comes to color.  When I had a playdate with Rayna Gillman last week, we talked about the four guilds I have belonged to.  Two of them are large guilds mentioned above, and two of them are small, African-American guilds (Quilters of Color Network of NY, Nubian Heritage Quilters). I am also a member of an online African American Guild (African American Quilters Yahoo! Group).   Rayna asked me if I saw a difference between the two types of guilds, and I told her what I observed. First, since the African-American guilds are smaller, the group dynamic is more intimate, more friendly critiquing goes on, more information is exchanged.   I cannot say there is a cultural cause and effect going on, but in the African American guilds (both of which have members of all races and both sexes), there is an overt flaunting of the "rules".  They use patterns, shapes,  fabrics, and colors that are rich and vibrant, downright loud sometimes, and they work.  That sense of fearlessness, of only pleasing your self with your art/craft, is indispensable to any artist.  It is not something that most quilters start with, as they are typically matching textiles in clothes and use that as a guide when it comes to quilting.  Black women have frequently broken these rules.  As an example I offer Josephine Baker, Patty Labelle, Grace Jones, Tina Turner.  Mark's introduction to quilting was through an African American guild, and it still shows in his work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Weekly Tip: Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

My website has a tip each week which I cross-reference here.  This week's tip is about expanding your FMQ motifs, and jump starting your own creative brain.

Are you tired of doing the same patterns over and over on your fiber art?  In a class, I once heard a teacher comment that no one should ever do stippling anymore, now that sewing machines could be programmed to make the stitch.

There is an easy technique to train your brain, eyes, and hands to create new quilting motifs. It has several things going for it:  easy, portable, no fancy equipment needed.  In fact, you may already be using this technique subconsciously.

What is this magical technique?  Doodling.  That's right....doodling.  By doodling, you are commingling those right and left brain skills, training your brain, hand and eyes to make the motions and designs you use during FMQ.  Get a sketch pad, white board, or one of those Magic Erase boards--I may be dating myself here--the ones that have the sheet you lift to erase the page.  I don't use Etch-A-Sketch (TM) for this purpose simply because the motions are not the same.  The photos above are from my sketchbook.  Start with lines, loops, geometrics, then try flowers, leaves, butterflies, hearts, and so on.  Make your designs multidirectional.  Draw them facing left, right, upside down, diagonally; after all, that's how you'll be quilting them.  When using paper, I prefer a felt tip pen, but if all I have is a pen or pencil, I go with it.

In the past week, my friend Dorothy Hayes recommended  an awesome FMQ blog, Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs.  When you get there, bookmark it, then try doodling some of the designs.  After doodling them for a while, try quilting them, and I'll bet it will be easier!

Last tip:  keep a sketch pad or another pad of blank paper (the larger the better) and a felt tip pen with you at all times, and try to doodle something everyday.

Adventures Galore!

Back to back quilting adventures!  On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Rayna Gillman in her studio.  We chatted and laughed about how much we have in common (we are both ENFPs...another story).  Afterwards, I got a chance to "save" a piece of fabric.  I wondered where this fabric came no way, at no time, was it my "type".  I happily went at it with some thickened dyes.  First I used a stamp I created by heating and impressing some architectural thingy into it.  Following that, I used a wonderful "Klimty" stamp purchased at a scrapbooking store in MD.   Rayna showed me how simple it is to cure my fabric using steam.  I'm definitely going to try that again.  I left her with a I can't tell--hopefully you'll see how she used it in one of her future blog entries.   It's not finished yet; I see some paintstiks and metal on it before I'm finished.  I'll keep posting it as I gild the ugly duckling.

Here are  photos of the layered design cloth (LDC), one before I added anything, and one after I stamped (thickened dyes) dried, steamed, rinsed, and ironed it.  It's now ready for another layer.


My second adventure, yesterday, was a trip to NYC to see Mom.  I passed by an African shop, African Masidi & Co on Broadway and 231/232 Streets a couple of weeks earlier, and vowed to come back and shoot some photos.  When I went in today, the owner, Cheik,  was not in, but a lovely woman, Belco (shown in photo), called him and asked if it was ok for me to photograph the astounding mask collection.  When he said yes, I was thrilled. What you see is a small portion of Cheik's mask collection, as Belco told me some of the masks had been damaged in a flood.  The masks are from all over the African continent, adding variety.  I see a series, and something to use in the upcoming QCNNY challenge!  The photos of the masks are in my Picasa album, which you can see by clicking here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The New Studio @ Workspace Harlem

Are there ever times when you do something and think, my life won't be the same after this?  There's a huge sense of excitement and little trepidation about the unknown...and sometimes the reverse (lots of trepidation and only a little know what I mean!). Today is one of those bold step days for me.

This week, Morna McEver Golletz  of Professional Quilter  blogged about taking inspired actions.  I have ALWAYS been willing to share whatever knowledge I have with anyone who asks.  I've given presentations and lead demos at my guilds, helped fellow quilters take quilting adventures,  hosted quilters gatherings and taught dyeing, embellishing and layered design cloth workshops in my home.  I've now joined my creativity with two other like-minded creative souls in an effort to bring more sharing to more people.  Our workshop studio won't be ready for a few weeks, and in the meantime there's a lot to be done.  To see some before shots of our studio and various other rooms, click here.  As soon as the workshop studio is up and running, I'll post a schedule on my website.

While I'm taking inspired actions, I'm going to make one more bold step, and I'll let you know the outcome of that soon.  I don't want to jinx it!

Walkabout in the 'Wood

I love walking.  In NYC, it can be the fastest way between two points, particularly crosstown.  Town or country, there are usually surprises to be had on a walk that you miss in a car.

I especially love walking in the fall, and seeing the beautiful art and inspiration that nature provides.  The photo is a GINORMOUS fungus I found at the base of a large oak tree.  Oak trees seem to always have the most beautiful growths on their leaves, barks and roots.  I'll have to ask one of my gardening buddies why that is.

I cannot wait to use this in a quilt!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Weekly Tip: Seams So Easy

On my website, I post a weekly tip, which I post here so they can be archived, as I take them down from the site at the end of the month. 
This week's tip is really six tips about dealing with seams that will make the back of your quilt look better, and by doing so, make your piecing, assembly, and quilting easier.  
First, a repurposing tip. Repurposing  is when I take something meant for an entirely different use and put it to work in my quilting studio.  I keep a wallpaper seam roller at my quilting table and in my class kit.  It's great for pressing seams quickly.  

If you finger press first or use a wallpaper seam roller, you will have an idea of whether the seam needs to be pressed differently, before you've pressed it with the iron.

When it's preferable not to press to the darker seam, press to the lighter seam, and then trim the darker seam.

When pressing seams in your quilt block always press the seam flat first, the way it was sewn.  This is called "locking the seam".  It sinks the thread into the fabric and reduces the bulk of the seam.  Your seams, when pressed to one side, will lie flatter.

Often, I prefer to press multiple seams open instead of to one side to reduce the bulk.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday Night Group

It's wonderful to be able to get together with friends and have no other agenda than to have a good time crafting.  Working hard, hardly working, the laughter is flowing, the critiques are helpful, and the opinions and conversation are uncensored.  Our self-designated outreach person has already lined up a charity for our charity quilts.  This group started with a bunch of us wanting to sew together on a regular basis, and has grown beyond the original few.  Whoever can make it, comes; no attendance, or membership necessary.  We recently decided that fifth Tuesdays would be reserved for one member to show the others a particular technique.  We kick in a small donation for snacks and the center.  I've included my photo holding my preemie charity quilt, hand dyed (which you can plainly see) and machine quilted (which you cannot see at all) by me.  It's a welcome change (remember, I sit on three guild boards) to get together and not have a meeting, an assignment or task to do in preparation for it.  Just sit and sew! That is my idea of what heaven is like.

Friday, August 28, 2009

At the Morristown (NJ) Atrium

If you get the opportunity to display your work, you should take it; there is always something to be gained as an artist from the experience. Even if you only show one piece, it's the chance to share and the chance to get feedback. Last night I went to the Fall Art Show at the Morristown Atrium. The Atrium's day job is the county courthouse and other municipal offices, but the atrium-style structure lends itself to artistic displays, and thankfully, the county makes the space available frequently. With parking in the building, and refreshments in the cafeteria, it's a lovely way to spend an evening.

There were many beautiful artworks, but I went specifically to view the works of four friends, who call themselves JaViWa & Jo (Janice, Vicky, Wannetta, and Josaine). They meet at a local quilt shop, Aardvark, weekly on Thursdays; when Vicky told them there was an opportunity for them to display their work, they happily agreed and began selecting pieces.  In addition to showing their work, they have the opportunity to sell their pieces on display.   To see the photos of  the quilts, click here.  The quilts were beautiful; I only wish I had a better camera with which to capture it.  They are four quilters with four distinct voices. 

One of the photos is a group shot; Vicky joined us after the photo.  While we are all quilters, we are truly all friends who support one another.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekly Tip: Portable Design Wall

A great portable design wall is an inexpensive flannel backed tablecloth from the dollar store; sometimes you can find yardage of flannel-backed tablecloth to make a larger wall. It’s portable, light, and you can put it up and take it down as you need to

Friday, August 21, 2009

At the Uptown Squared Show

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the opening of Uptown Squared at Gallery M (123 W 135 St between Lenox & Adam Clayton Powell) in Harlem. The event was festive, and featured a variety of media; the artists had one constraint in common: they had to do their thing on a 12 x 12 canvas. The outcome is wonderfully varied, and worth a quick trip uptown. The show was curated by Laura Gadson.

I've posted a photo of Joyce Stroman, and her piece, Meditation. Joyce is a talented artist and AWESOME dollmaker, and runs Art-Zee Sistas with her friend Minnie Curry. For additional photos, click here visit my Picasa gallery for this event.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weekly Tip: Sewing with Black Fabric & Unsewing

This week's tip is actually two tips in one:

If you are piecing with black fabric, use black thread on the top but navy blue thread in the bobbin. If you have to unsew, and you KNOW you will, it will be easier.

Speaking of unsewing, a speedy way to do this is to use a scalpel type seam ripper, cut every third stitch on the bobbin side, then turn it over and roll a lint remover (looks like an inside-out roll of masking tape with a handle) over the top. Voila, quick unsewing!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hand Dyeing Class Aug 2, 2009

The summer is simply awesome for hand dyeing. I can get outside, not worry about dye splatter, lugging buckets or space. It is typically when I host dyeing classes in my driveway. I have a nearby water source, a couple of large tables, buckets galore, and a long clothesline.

Having said all that, Mother Nature forced me to take my show indoors. My students (3) took it all in stride.

We started the day doing full immersion. I wanted to do this because low water immersion (LWI) is so popular and easy that it is rare to see the technique for full immersion done. Full immersion is the best way to guarantee a solid result, as opposed to a mottled (varied shading) result.

I mixed the dyes and the dye chemicals beforehand, and asked the students to choose two colors from the 64 box of Crayola Crayons. They chose: (left to right, pictured above) chestnut, mulberry, cadet blue, turquoise, orange. I added saffron (not pictured) and we also dyed t-shirts. With some of the leftover dye, I dyed a pair of cotton slippers.

The next technique was LWI; my sample is the blue fabric (third from left). I'm sure one of the things they took away from the day was an understanding of why hand dyes are so expensive, and why it is important to write things down in case they want to repeat their results.

We also did a parfait technique --I think that is what dye expert Ann Johnston calls it as well. The fabric second from the right was dyed squeezing they dye we had mixed on t-shirts.

The only color that didn't seem to be what I expected was the chestnut (far left). It seemed it might in the photo, but does not look that way when I hold it up to plum colored fabrics. It does look brown. The eye can fool you. When I spoke with them after the class, they were very pleased with their results, and want to come out and play with dyes again, though I'm not prepared to do this in my kitchen!

I am preparing to use the oranges on a candy corn quilt for Halloween....stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Singin Wid a Sword in Ma Han

You just never know when someone is gonna need a quilt. Vienna Carroll, a talented vocalist has interpreted a slice of African American history incorporating storytelling and song, Singing Wid A Sword in Ma Han. I wanted to support her efforts, offered a sampler quilt which contained several blocks mentioned as Underground Railroad quilt blocks, and she accepted.

Singin Wid A Sword in Ma Han was accepted as part of the NY Intl Fringe Festival, and is running August 16-21. Its runtime is about an hour, and tickets are at the bargain price of $15. Keep your eye on this one, folks, and you'll be able to say, "I saw it when....".

Thus I am the proud Mama of a quilt on off-off Broadway!


It is finished. Sometimes, hearing those three words is as good as hearing I love you...especially when you're talking about a creative project....or a WEBSITE. After months of hemming and hawing I finished the maiden version of my site. It's simple but useful for now, and will allow me to get in front of more people...I think.

The site contains (or will shortly) a gallery, tips, links, favorite things recommendations, workshops and lectures, a calendar of quilting events, and recipes.

Please visit the site, and give me your feedback!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tool Time: Shape Cut & Shape Cut Plus

Alright, I'll confess. I'm a gadget groupie. Whether it's a cooking tool, gardening tool, or quilting tool, if I think it's useful, helpful, faster, better, I'll try it.

With all the templates, rulers, die cutting devices and such out there, it's easy to accumulate a lot of tools for cutting straight geometric shapes such as strips, squares, and diamonds.

This week I had the opportunity to remind two fellow quilters why I keep the Shape Cut Plus in my ruler bag, no matter what the class calls for. Nothing cuts strips more effortlessly, and once you've cut your strips, you can turn the ruler without touching the fabric and cut squares, diamonds, triangles. It cuts through multiple layers of fabric. You can make multiple cuts across your yardage without moving the fabric, and placing the ruler just once. They remembered they had one at home, and wondered why they hadn't thought to use it lately.

The genius of the Shape Cut Plus is the slots which allow you to insert your rotary cutter at regular intervals. By not moving the fabric, you are less likely to have wonky cuts. You can cut faster. You are not moving the ruler, either, (which is the way teacher/author Debbie Caffrey cuts), but rather using the ruler to keep the fabric in place

The Shape Cut Plus is not without its drawbacks. You can't mindlessly cut. You have to figure out the slot i.e, if you are cutting 1 1/2" strips, it will be the 1 1/2" slot, 3", 4 1/2", 6", etc. You also have to pay attention to where your hand is and where the rotary cutter is, or you could wind up with a nasty rotary injury. Last, the slots are only in (depending on which ruler you buy) 1", 1/2" and 1/4" increments, so those 7/8" increments that you often need for triangles are not a choice.

Still, with the drawbacks considered, this is a tool I go back to time and time again. It serves it's purpose, making my cutting time more efficient and accurate.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review - Fabulous Fabric Beads

Fabulous Fabric Beads
Kristal Wick
Interweave Books, 2008 Paperback, 111 pages

I've had two opportunities to meet Kristal at IQF Samplers in Houston and Chicago. Each time, I was impressed. Kristal has finally published her first book, Fabulous Fabric Beads: Create Custom Beads and Art Jewelry. The book is most appropriately named.

Quilters are known for saving the most insignificant scraps of fabric in the hope of using them again. Kristal provides 24 different beads to try, using fabric, paper, ribbon, leather, metal, mixed media, wood and resin.

The book is broken into three sections. The first section illustrates surface designs, and you can test these methods on beads first, and try them on larger pieces of fabric later. The second section provides how-to, with beautiful, step-by-step easy to follow illustrations. Kristal provides plenty of notes for variations.

The third section is filled with projects, a beautiful section with color palettes, a gallery, a beading techniques primer, and a list of resources.

This is great book for beginners and experienced beaders who are looking for another type of bead to add to their repertoire.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In Praise of Continuing Education

My absolute favorite quote comes from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: "The best gift you can give a man is not to share your riches with him, but to reveal to him his own." In my mind, the perfect teacher is not the one who does everything for you, but who encourages you to ride on your own, stands there ready to steady you as you take off without training wheels, is ready to pick you up when you fall (as you are likely to do when you're learning) and cheers like hell when you've gotten the hang of it.

Carol Soderlund is such a teacher. I cannot say enough about what I learned these past five days in her Color Mixing for Dyers class offered at Pro-Chem's facility in Fall River, MA. Don't get me wrong. The days were long, and the information was, in Carol's words, relentless. But the group of women I shared the class with were wonderful, generous and gifted; that, in turn, raised my inspiration and enjoyment level exponentially. We came from different levels and styles of expression, but had a common love of color and fiber.

By day three, you have dyed the 1029 squares you will need to assemble your very own copy of The Book; when Carol says this on day one, you might be wondering: well, what are we going to do the rest of the time? Carol probably has forgotten more about dyeing than many people remember, and what is extraordinary about her, is that she doesn't keep it to herself, she shares it....all of it; I'll bet she could have done the class for seven days, and we still wouldn't be finished! Fortunately, there is Color Mixing for Dyers 2, and I will be taking that class sometime next year; I'm sure there is much more to learn.

Another wonderful feature at the Pro-Chem class is Vicky Jensen, the Director of Education. Vicky is very talented in her own right, and showed us some gorgeous felted pieces she was working on. Vicky was there to assist from the start, helping us get our stuff into the class and arranging lunch and dinner (one night in the classroom, another night at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in nearby Somerset). Though the class went through the weekend, Vicky was there, making sure everyone was getting what they paid for.

If you've seen The Book, you know that it is, simply, a monumental thing of beauty. Carol gives you the knowledge to create your own colors, and the freedom and encouragement to get out there and experiment. I'm sharing a photo of gradation dyeing we did in class, and you will get an idea of how wonderful having The Book is. To see an open copy of The Book click here.

I'm still using my training wheels, but Carol has given me what I need to keep going. Look out, world!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

On Dyeing

This is it! This is the week I finally check off one workshop I have been dyeing to do, so to speak. Carol Soderlund is a dye goddess, and leads a 5-day workshop at Pro-Chem (and a few other placed as well) that teaches you how to mix a thousand different lie! When you are done, apparently there is this master book that will be yours, little grasshopper.

My adventure starts tomorrow. I'd better get to bed so I can look fresh in the photos I'm going to post of the class!

Monday, June 08, 2009

On the Renegade Route

I made the trek to Brooklyn yesterday to check out the Renegade Crafts Fair. I love the idea of an organization making it possible for artisans to market their handmade crafts to the public. Etsy is awesome, but seeing the vendors in person was a huge plus. It was a sunny day, and after so much rain this past week, NYers were surely ready to be outside in the sunshine.

There were hundreds of stalls with crafts for sale; many, many t-shirts, lots of funky jewelry, body care products, art on display everywhere. One of the things you realize is that the handmade items have a certain je ne sais quoi that mass produced items cannot match. I enjoyed strolling through a pure crafts fair, without the distraction of food and crafts that had little or no handmade touches.

Hmmm, I wonder if they've considered a NJ venue?

Where Ya At?

'Where Ya At?' is something you hear a lot of in New Orleans. Translation: whassup? how are you doing? where've you been? (Yes, a blog gives you the license to create your own contractions). :-)

Over the past couple of months I've been on the road a bit, and gearing up for classes I'm taking and teaching this summer. I went to the Spring IQF (International Quilt Festival) in Chicago, and I was surprised to see how many classes I could still get into at the last minute. Class attendance seemed lighter, but attendance was heavy as usual.

I had the opportunity to hook up with (one day I might have to change that phrase, as it doesn't mean what it used to apparently!) some African American quilting buddies that I only see when I get the chance to check into my African American Quilters group on Yahoo! We plan a lunch on the Saturday of the show every year, and spend the time catching up. The photo was taken by Jeanette Walton's camera (so she could be in the picture).

Upon my return from Chicago, I headed off to Paducah, KY for the AQS show. What made this show different and wonderful was the fact that the whole town was part of it. Paducah is, indeed, Quilt City USA. From Hancock to the National Quilt Museum, to Caryl Bryer Fallert and Eleanor Burns, everyone is all in. My only complaint, and it is a huge one, is the HORRIBLE execution of the shuttle bus. If you have your own transportation, I strongly urge you to use it. Otherwise, you will subject yourself to long waits, blank stares instead of answers, and less of the show surroundings because of a tight schedule. I was also amazed at the number of residents who had never been to a show. If I had thousands of people descending upon my tiny town like locusts, I think I'd make it my business to find out why. Go figure. I'd also train the hospitality industry a wee bit more. I had an inept Group Manager cancel my group booking, and then have the temerity to tell me she "probably should have called me". If you want to know who, and what hotel you should avoid if you want to skip that nightmare, email me, and I'll tell all. ;-) All in all, the Paducahns make you welcome, and if you are a quilter, Paducah is a trip you should complete once in your lifetime.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On With the Show!

This weekend, I had the opportunity (again) to experience a show from the hosting guild's perspective. Presenting a show gives you great appreciation for all the effort that goes into preparing, producing, and executing a (usually) weekend long quilting party. Just before your guests arrive, you get anxious, and wonder what in the world you were thinking. By the time your guests arrive, you are happy, and when it is over, you are pooped, and vow to be so much better prepared if you ever do this craziness again. The twist with a quilt show it that it is usually a new cast of characters at the helm, and they may or may not have had the experiences you did.

A show is a wonderful gift to both your members and the quilting community at large. It offers:
  1. a chance to share with a wider circle of people the talents of your guild members;
  2. a chance for the guild to gain new members;
  3. a chance to introduce new quilters to quilting or change a person's idea of what a quilt is or is not;
  4. a chance to meet other quilters from nearby areas and guilds;
  5. a chance for the ever-shrinking group of vendors to find new customers and stay afloat in a difficult economy; and
  6. a chance to offer speakers, or classes that attendees might not otherwise have a chance to see.
A show can be fun....for the people not involved with producing it. However, based on the comments, smiling faces, and bags I saw at the Urban Inspirations show put on by Empire Quilters Guild, it was worth it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Months in Review

When one thing happens to throw me off track, it is usually followed by a series of unexpected events. You know what I mean...a family emergency, elder care issues, LIFE in general?

While I have not been posting regularly (shame, shame), I have less guilt than most because I have been actively doing quilt related things. Here's the catchup:

I thought, when we (Quilters of Color Network of NY) went to Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn, NY) in February that we would be talking to ourselves, and explaining the art of quilting to the few stragglers passing by. Was I ever pleasantly surprised. We had engaging, thoughtful conversations about quilting with a number of students and staff. One of our volunteers that thought to bring a small machine, and once we let the visitors sit down and sew....WOW. The effect was magic. The ability to sew, even for a little while, speaks to creativity, to accomplishment, to empowerment. We were all very glad we went, and special thanks go to Joanne Meyers at the school for organizing the event. We can't wait to go back!

I have completed my first full guild presentation...well actually my second. Over the years, I have been an active member of four guilds, and one online group. In addition to that, I have a sewing background. As a result I have amassed an extraordinary amount of quilting, sewing, and home dec stuff, plus the tips to go with it. In January, I showed to Empire Quilters my method of creating a database to keep you from buying duplicates of stuff you already thought was necessary to have and then forget about. ;-) The presentation I did for Garden State Quilters was called Night of 1,001 Tips. Despite some technical difficulties, I managed to keep a room of quilters interested without showing a single quilt. The tips were broken into categories: Acquisitions, Saving Money, Sewing & Pressing, Tool Tips, and the Zen of Quilting. I also included some exercises (which we actually did), because everyone needs to remember the most critical tool in the quilting room is YOU.

I am the trips host for Empire, and we have made two excursions this year: Winterthur, and the Quiltfest of NJ. Winterthur was exquisite, with small group private tours; we will surely go back. QFNJ was our first show of the year, and we were glad to get out of the city to see some of the creative pieces as well as shop. The next trip is our Paducah adventure. It is the first trip for many of us, and to say we are psyched is an understatement. I will have the computer in tow to share some daily blogging.

Lastly, two of my quilts are being displayed in the show that Empire is doing this weekend (setup was yesterday, and surprisingly, after 8 hours of lifting, reaching, walking, I am not aching...(thank you Zumba!). If you can get to NYC March 21 or 22, please come and see some awesome works of art. Show information is on the Empire site (see link above).

Now you are caught up....I am still catching my breath!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Organizing Your Stash - The Database

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to share with members of Empire Quilters one of my tips for organizing my multitude of quilting items. We commiserated about finding a hot new gadget, getting it home, and finding out you already had it. Ditto for books, templates, stencils, etc. This, by far, is the most important organizing tool I own, and it is easy enough to do. I am including a sample of my book database below, but if you would like a sample file to download, subscribe to the blog and send me an email.

A database is a fancy word for a computerized, sortable list. There are many ways to create a database; the most popular programs are Excel and Word. I prefer Excel simply because formatting and manipulating the database is a little bit easier, but the input for Word and Excel are exactly the same. I have a master database, which is comprised of several smaller databases, including books, patterns, inks/dyes/paints, templates/rulers/stencils, markers/pencils, batting, thread/floss/yarn, and notions.

Because of my formatting limitations here, I have taken a photo of my screen which appears at the top of the blog. Below are the fields (columns) in my book database, and I have provided a sample entry and described the information that I input in the column. The most important thing for you to remember is that the database should make sense to you. If you need more columns, add them; if you don't need all the columns that I have, delete the ones you don't need. I type everything in capital letters to make the inputting faster.

TYPE BOOK Is it a book, a magazine, an ebook?
TITLE 1000 GREAT QUILTING DESIGNS Self explanatory; Omit The if it starts the title.
AUTHORLAST ROBERTS If there are two authors, I enter both last names.
AUTHORFIRST LOUISE If there are two authors, I enter both first names.
CPU 22.95 Cost per unit; how much did it originally cost? This is for resale purposes.
SUBJECT M I created a one or two letter system for categorizing my books; i.e., A= applique, AQ = art quilts, etc.
The hard process is gathering your stuff and doing the initial entry. After that, it should be simple to to maintain. I hope this helps you get started, and feel free to answer any questions. The full database will be available on my website at a later date for a nominal fee.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Week 1 - Review: The Quilting Arts Book

If you're just getting started with art quilts, you could have no better guide than The Quilting Arts Book: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating One-of -a -Kind Quilts by Patricia "Pokey" Bolton.
Pokey, with her husband John, has transformed her love of all things fiber into quite an empire, and Quilting Arts (QA) magazine is the crown jewel. If you've never opened an issue of QA , TQAB is a great way to catch up on all the creativity you've missed. One of the hallmarks of the magazine is great photography, and the book does not disappoint. You'll also find the directions to be clear and concise. There are step-by-by step shots when needed, and closeups provide excellent support for the text directions and descriptions. While the techniques are grouped, you would not have a problem hopscotching around, trying the techniques that interest you first, and then circling back to the others. If you already have a subscription to QA, much of the text and photos used in the book will be familiar to you. However, there are some wonderful additions, and having a book filled with so many techniques to try is preferable to lugging out 29 issues of QA.

I have few improvements to suggest; if I were a beginner, I'd appreciate a robust glossary, as many of the tools and terms used may be new to budding quilt artists; the Resources and Supplier lists are skimpy, but since Quilting Arts has a well-stocked store, you could simply find the supplies and a wide selection of books through them.

One of the best things about art quilts is that the process is part of the creative journey. You may start with one idea, and the simple process of creating leads you to entirely different and more satisfying place. The Quilting Arts Book is an excellent travel guide for your art quilt adventure, and I highly recommend it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year!
I thought I'd share my New Year's resolutions with yall:
  1. I am going to doodle for 10 minutes every day.
  2. I am going to be less critical of my creative self.
  3. I am going to set aside a creative play date every two weeks.
  4. I am going to post weekly; each week will have a different topic: Book Review; Tips, Tool Review, Techniques or Loose Threads, which will be a potpourri of stuff
  5. I am going to teach one class on quilting techniques before June.
  6. I am going to learn Photoshop.
  7. I am going to participate in a minimum of four calls for entry this year.
  8. Less procrastination on my artwork!
  9. I am going to consistently create items for those craft shows throughout the year, and get a jump start on my gift list.
  10. I am going to finish, toss, or give away one UFO for every other project I complete.
Okay, what are your resolutions?