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.