Something good from COVID-19?

Something seems wrong about the title of this post. How could anything good come from the ongoing pandemic?

Even though I didn’t have extra time during the lockdown, for some reason, I have had tons of time this summer. Part of this is because of the new paradigm that I initiated in 2019, where I am using blocks of time to accomplish my goals. Part of it is because of the many gatherings that have been canceled and part is because our usual overseas travels have been curtailed!!

Because of this extra time, I have been able to finish many of my ongoing projects and am ready to try some different techniques and just do a little bit of playing!! So on Saturday, my goal was to look for inspiration…..

……for future projects, especially thinking to expand my knowledge of drawing, painting, and surface design.

But first, I wanted to get my studio cleaned up again, including cleaning and oiling my machine…..

It looks SO clean!!!

When Kaitlyn and I were both sewing a few weeks back, I had put up my Viking and enjoyed having both machines up. But, once I took the machine down it seemed like a nice area to leave open for other tasks…..like inspiration planning…..

The first thing that I did was watch a video that I bought many years ago featuring Jane LaFazio and her ideas about drawing, watercolor and keeping a journal……

This video ALWAYS inspires me and encourages me to start trying some drawing….something that I don’t really believe I can do.

I pulled out my art supply box and was pleased to see that I have all of the tools that she talks about, plus a few others…..

So starting on Monday, I am going to try to draw something at least 3 times each week.

I decided to do a quick run around the yard to get ideas of things that I could sketch and ran into some pretty butterflies along the way…..

Next I pulled out a stack of books about art quilts and design techniques, found a comfortable chair and started working thru them one by one. There were two that stood out to me….

“Art Quilt Workbook” contains exercises that might help to get me thinking in a different way, and “Fabric Art Workshop” has lots of surface design ideas. I am thinking that I may try to do some of these exercises as well.

BUT, all of these are designed for making Art Quilts and honestly, I don’t see myself as an art quilter. However, I am sure that trying new techniques will give ideas for future projects.

Finally, I remembered a book that I bought at a Quilt Show some years ago…..

The idea behind this book is to first layer and stitch a lot of textures onto a background piece that is only in whites and creams. Then you paint over the texture that you have developed and add the featured designs on the top. This sounds really interesting and something very different to anything that I have ever done.

So, I am planning to make this quilt……

I really don’t like copying designs that someone else has already done but I will follow the instructions for this quilt and use it to learn this technique.

The final thing that I thought thru was whether or not I needed to make more quilts that weren’t necessarily meaningful to me. What will I do with any new found inspirations? Do I want to put them on ETSY and see if I can sell them? Maybe put them in the member’s boutique at the next guild quilt show?

Or maybe it is okay to just make art pieces without having a reason? Can that be right? It sure doesn’t fit with the way I think but it seems that this may be a good time to take a chance and change that thinking!!!

Inspiration Tuesday

How about this for some geometric inspiration……

This photo was taken inside one of the greenhouses at Kew Gardens in London.

We were there for Michael to speak to a group of scientists and had spent the night with two of them. That morning, as we all walked into the back gate of Kew, one of our hosts asked what my plans were. I said that I was going to stick around the area until the gardens opened. He said that there was no reason to wait and that I could enter at the back and wander by myself!!!

SO….I had almost two lovely hours to stroll thru the area without any other visitors…..just me, my camera and the odd gardener!!! It was heaven!!!

BUT….back to the inspiration. It would be fun to use this as a pattern for a quilt using blocks of color and trying to get the perspective to work!!

And now as I think about it more I am getting really excited about this one. Who knows, maybe it will be my new “BIG” project!!!

What’s next…..

I have finally finished all of the quilts for our local show, and I have laughed as I realized how many of my quilts have a finish date of January or February of show years!!   I guess that I really do need a deadline!!

I am now starting to think about what to do next.   I know that the next three months are going to be super busy and that I wont have a lot of large blocks of time but I do want to make sure that I have something planned for my “creative-20” minutes each day.

The problem is that there are just SOOOO many choices, including a number of UFO’s that came from my Mom!!

She left this quilt top…..

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….which I dont particularly like, but I just realized that it might be a good place to practice some ruler work free-motion quilting!!

She also left several sets of block that I am not sure I EVER want to finish…..

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Since I couldn’t come to a decision about where to start, I decided to  start working on cutting and organizing the scraps that have accumulated in the last couple of years.   Today I worked on them for 2 hours while listening to a webinar about Depreciation Tax Laws…..

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I thought that having my hands on fabric would make the webinar more enjoyable….Not So Much!!   Anyway, it will be good to have all of the scraps cut and stored in an orderly manner and ready to use at a moment’s notice.

One of the things that I also wanted to do was to give my sewing machine a good clean.   To that end, I purchased a vaccuum cleaner attachment that would allow me to get down and dirty with my machine…..IMG_7592.jpg

It seemed to have made a big difference.

Finally, the chairman of our Guild’s charity bee gifted me two quilt tops that I can use to practice my machine quilting.   I love this quilt……img_7593.jpg

…..and am looking forward to quilting it, but think that I will do this other one first……img_7594.jpg

These two will give me some good practice time!!

 

Finally, I have also realized that I am missing having something to work on at night so I am playing with some hand applique….but more about that in a future post.

So for now, I am enjoying doing a few small things and looking forward to creative times to come!!!

 

Step right up and see the amazing Bovine Woman!!!

Yes, I can officially say that I am a cow…. Yesterday’s Rotator-Cuff surgery ended up being a bit more extensive than planned but it is over now and I will definitely feel better….once I get out of the sling in 4 to 6 weeks. One of the things that the surgeon did was to insert a strip of bovine collagen that is supposed to help strengthen the shoulder tissue. So you see, I am now part cow.

During one of my wakeful periods last night, I started thinking about this phenomenon and had a good giggle remembering how my father felt about his cows. He loved them like pets and I think he would be happy to know that I am now “part bovine”.

As I thought more about him, I was reminded of a photo that I had come across at my Mom’s house in which my dad is pictured feeding one of his favorite cows……2013_08_27_12_14_46

And, the idea for a new quilt was formed!

The photo quality isn’t great but hopefully I can crop it down and pull enough detail to make it look realistic.2013_08_27_12_14_46

I know that I will enjoy working on this reminder of my sweet Dad!!!!!

Words of advice from Lyric Kinard……

I subscribe to the Lyric Kinard newsletter and loved this post from her about creative slump……

“When you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.   Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.   You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.   Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Every once in a while you need a change of pace. You feel that you are in a slump, are feeling blue, or you’re just plain tired. Too many deadlines, too much pressure, too much on your plate. You feel creatively blocked. It happens to the best of us once in a while.

I believe it’s part of the process and part of life. Energy and enthusiasm can wax and wane.

It’s what you do with yourself once you hit that slump that matters.

The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping stone in the pathway of the strong. ~Thomas Carlyle

Go for a long walk. Breathe. Look up at the sky. Notice beautiful fallen leaves or fascinating cracks in the sidewalk. Take your camera. Getting out of your narrow environment and looking at the wider world can work wonders.

Try something new. Take a class in an unfamiliar medium. If you are struggling with portraiture, try a wild abstract. If your usual palette is earth tones, do a quick exercise using only saturated brights. If you only machine quilt, pick up a scrap of cloth and some embroidery thread and randomly stitch by hand for a bit.

Clean your space. Methodically clear the clutter away and make space for new ideas and new projects. You will find materials you had forgotten that will inspire you. Cleaning might also become more unpleasant than the making of art – so you’ll want to get back to it.

Wait. Sometimes, it is best to just wait it out – Continue to just keep doing. Let the ideas stew in your subconscious. Studies of creative people show that many brilliant ideas come not during the period of intense study, but in the quiet resting time afterwards when the ideas have had time to mix and mull in the unconscious.

Stop. Sometimes, if you are still blocked, it is time to make a change and leave what you were doing.

There is the possibility that you will emerge a different, a better artist. Don’t wallow or fret – slumping may be a natural part of your growth process. Look up, look out, grow!

I’d love to hear what you do to “un-slump” yourself.

All my best wished to you!
~Lyric

Lyric Kinard, Artist, Author, and educator, can be found at www.LyricKinard.com.
You can sign up for her monthly newsletter there.
© 2011 Lyric Montgomery Kinard. All rights reserved.

Look what I found….

A couple of months ago  I was shopping at Sams Club and, from a distance, spied this book cover…..

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And look at some of the fun designs inside…..

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I DEFINITELY feel an applique or quilting project coming on…..

 

NOW…..fast forward to yesterday…….

The first project that I wanted to work on was to quilt this top…..

_3314970 Click here if you want to read the post about the making of this quilt….

As I sat and looked at this quilt and tried desperately to figure out how to quilt it, my eyes wandered to the book shelf and the Mandala coloring book, and fireworks went off!!!

I am quilting every other block using the Mandala’s from the book!   I LOVE it when I actually use something that was a spur-of-the-moment purchase.

Thistles…..

The other day I had to visit with a client who lives a little way out of town.  On the way there I came across a wonderful patch of Thistles and just HAD to stop and take some photos……

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Seeing these beautiful flowers reminded me of a Crewel Embroidery picture that I made MANY years ago (for my cousin’s, Sue, wedding)……

 

Thistles

Now I need to make a Thistle quilt…..just add it to the To-Do list!!!!

Where do you do your thinking??

Over the years I have realized that I often do my best thinking and planning when I am in the shower and sometimes it gets me into trouble….as it did yesterday.

You see, I am working on a pictorial quilt and have been experimenting with using RIT dyes on some of the fabrics…..more about this in another post.  Yesterday morning, just as I was heading to the shower, I realized that I wasn’t happy with the coloring of the bottom part of the quilt.  As I thought about it (while showering), I decided to take the bottom bit off and try over-dyeing it to see if I could fix the color.  I knew that I was going to change it anyway, so I figured I would try this first.

Naturally, I couldn’t wait until I was dressed and ready to sew, so I wrapped the towel around my mid section, closed the blinds and headed into my studio.  The first thought was that I would simply see how hard it was going to be to unpick the section.  Well, that was easy enough.  So, why not go ahead and do the dyeing……still wrapped in the towel and with my hair drying plastered to my head.

After dyeing, rinsing, hand-washing and rinsing again I took the piece to the ironing board and proceeded to dry it with the iron.  Not dark enough….so back to the dye bath….this time for a longer time period.  I went through the same procedure and discovered that this time it had just turned to a muddy grey and would not be usable…..Oh well, it was worth a try.

Back to the bathroom to put  my make-up on.   While standing there, thinking about whether or not I had an appropriate fabric  to use, I had the brilliant idea to use one of the fabrics from the top of the quilt, but to OVER-DYE it to make it a bit darker. (Do you see a theme here?)  Since I didn’t know how long the dye bath would be usable I ran to the kitchen to dye this piece…..ha….success.

Back to the bathroom to re-wet my now dry hair and try to style it into something not resembling a bad wig.  As I am getting dressed, I suddenly remember that the base fabric that I had originally used had been over-dyed as well and that I would need to do the same for this new section.  Off again, this time half dressed, to over dye this final piece.

At the end of my one hour delay, I was clean, coiffed and ready to sew.  AND, I had two new colors of fabric to work with.  It was worth it, but I am just glad that no one else was home!!!

Casa Amarela

A few weeks ago I ranted about a project that I was scared to start because I didn’t know if I was capable of finishing it.

It was a quilt based on this photo that was taken when I was in Porto, Portugal back in May……


I knew that I wanted to replicate the stairs and houses, but was frightened to start it!!!!!

I started out by printing the photo in an 8×10 format, using Black and White printing, on regular computer paper. I then used a ruler and fine point Sharpie to draw the major lines on the drawing. If the Sharpie is fairly new, the ink will soak thru the paper so that you can see it easily from the back side. I re-traced those lines on the back, giving me a reverse pattern.

I then printed out the reversed version of the line drawing using the poster function which allows the one page to be printed out onto 4 pages….2 across and 2 down. Finally, I printed the photo itself out onto four pages as well….of course I ran out of toner mid photo!!!

I began working with the fabrics by dividing the picture into straight-line sections and tracing them onto Golden Threads paper. I paper pieced each section and then sewed them all together. A couple of the seams were hand sewn to help me get the parts lined up properly.


At this point, I decided that I wasn’t happy with the piece, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. So, I took it to my Charity Bee the next week and asked for their suggestions.


They immediately said……add the details from the photo and add some shading to the stairs!!! Simple little changes, but they definitely did the trick!!!!

I was nervous about using gray markers on the piece to shade it, but once I finally got my courage up, it made a HUGE difference. I ended up adding shading to almost every part of the picture.

The quilting was fun, although I had to take several lines out and re-do them because they didn’t match with the perspective of the quilt.

Here is the final version, named “Casa Amarela”, which stands for “Yellow House” in Portuguese.