Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bars Quilt Finished

The Bars quilt came from a workshop with Tara Faughnan. While I classify it as a Chinese Coins {which I certainly already knew how to create} learning how Tara uses solids might push me into including more solids in my own work.

The top has been sewn for months but I finally had time to quilt it. {Funny how much easier Bars 2 and 3 were to quilt. Oh, the joys of baby quilts.} Just simple straight line quilting with the walking foot again. This is 50-weight thread is slightly heavier than the 60-weight I previously used. The difference is unnoticeable in straight line work but becomes more apparent when stitching over previous lines in free-motion work. I hope this thread will hold up better as single lines.

Bars quilt with solid fabrics

My biggest takeaway from Tara's class was pairing colors by theme - not necessarily value. I mentioned before that we each created a personal sheet with color snippets for each prompt. Many people cut out one-inch squares or more for each; I pared the narrowest sliver from the selvedge for each. Hey, I might need that fabric!

The sheet is such a wonderful tool I pinned it on my cork board for easy reference.

Continuing to sew from my stash, I pulled three different shades of yellow, gold, and chartreuse Metler thread for quilting. Unless your nose is right on the quilting line the slight difference are hardly visible.

Bars quilt binding 

The back uses three larger remnants.

Back of Bars quilt shows parallel quilting lines

Previous posts:
1. Bars workshop
2. Sewing the top

Quilt Details
Size: 60" x 64.5"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: yellow, gold, and chartreuse Metler cotton thread
Quilting: Straight lines with walking foot

Two years ago I stored my fabric in one small and two larger boxes. The large ones became too heavy for me so I purchased four smaller boxes and transferred the stash. {DH took the big boxes off my hands and yes, he increased his junkheap  collection of important artifacts and tools.} My verbal plan was to whittle my stash down; obviously that wasn't the real plan. The fabric drought ended; I bought a bunch of colors that weren't in the stash. Like me, my stash has fattened over the years. But I have a plan...

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Reprise and Repetition

While I haven't been actively quilting I have been thinking about quilts and art and how ideas, scenes, colors, and designs are reworked by artists and changing technology.

In Chicago I photographed this painting of the Italian Riviera by Claude Monet because it reminded me of something I'd seen.

Bordighera by Claude Monet, 1884. Italian Riviera

Eventually I remembered my photo from Coit Tower in San Francisco. Both feature views of saltwater though Monet's has a town in the mid-ground while mine has the bridge. Similar greenery surrounds both on all sides. I like the way nature takes the foreground and background, adds the detail, and keeps drawing my eyes from the man-made objects.  Putting the darkest objects in front brings needed cool shade to a hot summer day.

The Bay Bridge from Coit Tower, San Francisco

The Art Institute of Chicago staged Music and Movement: Rhythm in Textile Design. It was only four small rooms but covered the world and the ages. The ones I've thought about most though are all from the 1970's.

Music and Movement exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago

At least half the textiles were dress and upholstery fabrics including Gallop, a stunning knit by Hans Krondahl from 1972 which ignited memories of Eedweard Muybridge's photography.

Gallop (screen print dress fabric of knit nylon)
by Hans Krondahl for Katja of Sweden, 1972. 
Leland Stanford, one of California's governors and later founder of Stanford University, hired him to prove whether or not all a horse's feet left the ground when galloping. Horse in Motion resolved that question.

Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge, 1878.

The zoetrope projects circular paper strips of still photos that appear to move when the device spins. Muybridge made improvements he called the zoopraxiscope in 1879. As such he is considered the founder of the motion picture industry. 

The Cantor Center in Palo Alto exhibits one of these machines as well as a viewing of a moving photo series.

Zoopraxiscope by Eadweard Muybridge, Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University

The fabric also nods to the Carousel Bar at the Fairmont with its murals of performing horses and in fact, any scene with racehorses - from the Kentucky Derby to Ben Hur.

Murals at the Carousel Bar, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco

Robert Brady's 1974 tapestry of Josephine Baker was prominently displayed.  An American vaudeville dancer, Baker famously performed her Danse Savage in 1925 Paris dressed only in a skirt of artificial bananas. She became a successful artist, worked for the French Resistance, and insisted on desegregated audiences for her shows when she toured the US.

Baker and Brady were close friends for years. He finally established a home in Cuernavaca, decorating it with the lavish colors of his adopted country and artwork created by himself and his friends. Now the Museo Robert Brady, it includes a statuette of Baker in her iconic costume.

Wool and cotton Josephine Baker tapestry by Robert Brady, 1974.

The Baker tapestry reminded me of The TVA Quilt I'd seen years ago; fortunately I found this image through the internet. In 1934 Ruth Bond and Rose Cooper headed a club that made the quilt they named Uncle Sam's Helping Hand to "honor the part black people were playing to transform the South." It is still on display at TVA building in Knoxville.

Uncle Sam’s Helping Hand quilt designed
by Ruth Clement Bond and quilted by Rose Lee Cooper, 1934

For Bessie's Blues Faith Ringold, a well-known author and quilter, repeated images of blues singer Bessie Smith in a layout that references both traditional quilts and Andy Warhol's pop imagery. The colors also repeat those of the Baker tapestry.

Bessie's Blues by Faith Ringgold, 1997

My initial impression was cyanoprint but it's actually acrylic paint.

I like the subtle variations of blue that help the blocks retain their edges, the color scheme, and the repeats with variation. Oh, those borders fabrics mixing curves from oversized florals with simple rectangles. And then finding another soft background floral so the rest of the work floats on top.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Friday, July 6, 2018

Heading West

After wrapping up some legal work I drove to Amarillo - about six hours away. The next morning I visited Cadillac Ranch, a regular stopping point on the way west. After all, how many art installations allow you to bring your own can of spray paint?

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo TX

Since I was the only person in my party I couldn't get a photo of my efforts but others busily added to the scene.

Spray painting cadillacs at the ranch
Most people clean up after themselves. There's usually some trash bags tied to the entry gate. Remember, Don't Mess with Texas. At the bottom of that link you can see all the ads. My favorite is Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88s.

The XIT Museum in Dalhart reminded me of more Texas history. When Texas became a Republic the legislature set aside 3 million acres in the Panhandle to pay for building the Capitol. They soon found it would take too long to sell to small farmers so in 1879 they sold it to the Chicago Farwell brothers and two partners who created the XIT.

Buffalo at the XIT Museum, Dalhart TX

John Farwell established the Capitol Company in Great Britain for pay for the Capitol and ranch development by selling $10 million in bonds. Cattle prices fell soon after the XIT started so the company couldn't pay off the bonds that came due. Starting in 1901 they sold large sections until the XIT was history in 1963. Who knew this connection between west Texas and Great Britain?

Lots of saddles, lariats, spurs, branding irons, fossils, and tchotchkes on display. Railroads were built to bring cattle to market. Ties were laid with date nails indicating the year so people would know when to replace them.

Date nails used laying railroad ties

The museum is setting up an exhibit of the Dust Bowl era which includes this crow's nest. Lacking other materials, it's built of barbed wire and lined with twine, hair, and feathers. Just like us, the crows used what was on hand. Improvisational.

Dust Bowl era crow nest of barbed wire lined with dirt, twine, hair, and feathers.

Moving on, I crested LaVeta Pass before the Spring Creek wildfire started. It's now the third largest in Colorado history. You can see the billowing smoke on the second day of the fire.

Sunrise over Blanca Peak and the Spring Creek Fire, June 27, 2018

Continuing west I found this herd of big horn sheep crossing the road in Cochetopa Canyon... and taking their own sweet time about it.

Big horn sheep, Cochetopa Canyon, CO

Miles to go before I sleep.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ad Hoc Improv Quilts Button Code Repaired

I think the button issues are corrected now. Try it (code on the sidebar) and let me know if it doesn't link properly for you.

Julie's already written a post about her Improvisational journey. Check that out you're there.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Group Blog for Improvisational and Utility Quilting

Kaja and I started a group blog for improvisational and utility quilters. We believe it will generate more interest and encourage more participation than a linky party because every contributor will be able to write as and when they choose.

AHIQ group blog

Check out our inaugural post at When you have something to contribute let us know and we'll gladly add you.

Kaja and I plan to post there on Fourth Tuesdays... and any other day we have something improvisational or utilitarian to share.

Patty asked how to add the button to her blog. Here are directions if you use Blogger:
  1. Go to the sidebar of Kaja's or my blog. 
  2. Highlight the code (text) under the AdHoc Improvisational Quilters button. 
  3. Press Control and C at the same time to copy it. 
  4. Go to your blog's design page and choose the settings tab. 
  5. Click Add a Gadget in the sidebar. 
  6. Choose HTML/Java script. 
  7. Press Control and V at the same time to paste the code into the second (larger) box in your gadget. Save the arrangement of your layout.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Contemporary Craft: Weaving

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented is the current exhibit at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. I finally had time to view it. The first area highlighted  historic and indigenous examples such as this 19th c. Treasure basket, possibly Yokuts. They were a tribe in the San Joaquin valley and Sierra Nevada foothills - near my favorite parts of California.

1890 Feather basket, possibly Yokuts

Most of the exhibit concentrated on reinvented basketry. I was taken by these small Mixing Bowls by Karryl Sisson (2003) which were coiled with polymer and vintage cloth tape measures. I'd like some in my sewing room.

Mixing Bowls by Karryl Sisson (2003)

Then this amazing basket recalled the Feather one above. The sharp porcupine quills in the top are reprised with black ash and pine needles in the jar.

Porcupine by Joanne Russo, 1999.

From a distance this menagerie appeared to be cut from iron sheeting.

According to Isidore by Carol Eckert, 2015

But closer inspection reveals the scene is entirely composed of coiled linen and wire.

Detail of According to Isidore by Carol Eckert, 2015

At the end a display of "Touch Me" basketry techniques and materials encouraged comparing the tactile impression of various techniques such as weaving, plaiting, coiling, stapling, netting, twining and lashing. How would these translate in quilting?

Basketmaking techniques on display
I hope your weekend is as much fun.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Scientific Pinwheel Quilt Gifted

I'm constantly amazed how quickly small quilts get finished. It took part of one day to sew the borders on and pin baste the quilt, another day to quilt it, and it was bound the next morning. Then it just needed a quick wash and dry to be ready to gift.

I like to wrap these quilts into little sausages and tie them with a pretty bow. The colors are pretty enough for wrapping paper and I get to see their excitement when it's unrolled. How do you wrap quilt gifts?

Scientific Pinwheels baby quilt

Scanning my stash brought this yellow and green stripe to the surface.

Green and yellow binding on Scientific Pinwheel baby quilt

Red was my original plan for the binding with grey quilting thread but I like this even better, especially since the backing is red with "sun-printed" ferns.

Back and binding of Scientific Pinwheel baby quilt

I sewed the binding to the back then pressed it away from the back and again to turn it over the raw edge. That means only the corners need to be pinned although I use a stiletto to keep things straight.

Pressed binding only needs a few pins in the corners

This baby quilt going to its Forever Home tomorrow. Hooray!

Quilt Details
Size: 41" x 41"
Design: Medallion with hourglass, Chinese coins, and pinwheel blocks
Batting: Hobbs Premium 100% bleached cotton
Thread: red Gutermann cotton thread, 
Quilting: Free motion Baptist fans 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Quick Trip to Chicago

After manipulating the corners of the inner border, I decided on this spinning effect. It requires a  partial seam but that's easy enough especially on such long strips. It just blends with the spinning pinwheels. {The other choice was a courthouse steps arrangement. I forgot to snap a photo and I'm not going back. This woman is on a deadline.}

Scientific Pinwheels quilt layout

DH and I flew to Chicago last weekend for baseball. We'd had the trip planned since last year and he encouraged me to take a break. I could have taken a photo of the entire Wrigley's sign but loved that the Cubs flew state, city, and team flags for their opponents.  We arrived early the first day for a stadium tour. Wrigley Field is the second oldest baseball stadium. Their rich history combines well with some recent updates.

Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs

The next day we toured the Chicago Institute of Art. Silly me. I thought it was mainly a school but they have an enormous collection of art: paintings, sculptures, textiles, artifacts. Having learned from previous experience we selected five galleries to tour thoroughly and left the rest for another visit.

I never realized Seurat's painting was so large. And there was always a crowd in front of it.

Crowds viewing A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, 1884.

The painted border is an interesting detail I never knew existed. This is not a mat. It's painted on the edge of the canvas. So quilters aren't the only ones who add borders.

Detail  of the border of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, 1884.

I thought this was a "one-off" paint technique until I saw Vincent van Gogh's Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnieres) nearby.  Influenced by Paul Signac and Georges Seurat, the Neo-Impressionist style emphasizes scientific use of color theory. You can see many aspects of Seurat's technique in this painting including the bright red mat Vincent painted around his picture.

Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnieres) by Vincent van Gogh, 1887.

Chicagoans rallied to preserve their city's landmarks and the Chicago Architecture Foundation leads river tours of the varied skyscrapers of downtown. We thoroughly enjoyed ending the day with a sunset cruise while watching the lights go on. So informative, so lovely.

Nighttime Chicago skyline from the river

When buildings are torn down, artifacts are offered to various foundations and museums. The Institute displayed several in their Grand Staircase. Don't you love the Art Deco elevator screen?

Artifacts of Chicago's past at the Institute of Art

Now that we're home I can finish the Scientific Pinwheel quilt. Good thing because the new dad visits soon.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Back to the Scientific Pinwheels

I'm home for a couple of weeks for some rest and recuperation. At least I thought it would be that. DH mentions the scientific baby quilt several times a week and it is time to finish it up.

Home has a design wall so the first thing was to lay it out again.

Scientific Pinwheel baby quilt in progress

I wasn't happy with the pinwheels as the inner border and thought the quilt could use a quiet area. Then I quickly added more pinwheels in dark to balance the inside and outside. Good enough.

Next was to make some quick Chinese Coins for the inner border. Driven by the design wall, it seemed they should be soft and light. Like this.

Building an inner border of Chinese Coins for Scientific Pinwheel baby quilt
And just as I was congratulating myself on an "original" design, I read Audrey's post at Quilty Folk. Look. Almost the same quilt. Nothing new under the sun; just variations on a theme.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

AHIQ #33 - Scale Change

I have not quilted at all this past month. Too busy... but I did write about a family quilt we found at Mother's. We know we are lucky to come from a family of makers. We know that history but we can prove it because she SIGNED HER WORK. Sirena passed away long before any of us were born. There is a faded photograph of her but no evidence my mother met her. If she hadn't signed this quilt no one would know its provenance, its importance to our family history. Take the same care for your family. Sign and date your quilts.

I made a few visits to family to deliver small mementos. Driving in Texas involves hours behind the wheel. In fact, you can tell a Texan because if you ask how far away something is, they answer in hours rather than miles. "Amarillo? Oh, 'bout five hours away."

The scenery may appear desolate to others but I love the undulating plains of north Texas. The photo doesn't do it justice.

View of North Texas plains from the Hedley safety rest area

Texas DOT is upgrading the old rest stops with new safety areas combining picnicking, restroom, DOT facilities, and tornado shelters. If a thunderstorm builds while traveling, these are welcome sights indeed.

However, because it's Texas, beware rattlesnakes.

Picnic table at Hedley safety rest area, Texas

The Coca-Cola Building in Dallas has a Foucault pendulum. I enjoyed watching the movement of the pendulum while eating my sandwich last week. If you stay long enough, the pendulum rotates through the circle.

Foucault pendulum, Coca-Cola Building, Dallas TX

Kaja has all the scoop on Scale Change. Be sure to check out her site and all the links.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Vintage Flower Garden Quilt

While clearing out the house QS and I rediscovered family quilts. Several of them were made by us - including the quilt that makes the background of my banner and one QS made from Hawaiian fabric she purchased on the Big Island. How timely considering Kilauea is currently erupting.

There was also this Flower Garden quilt,

Flower Garden quilt by Sirena Jenny Salyers, 1935

a classic Depression era scrap quilt made by a master quilter

Detail of Flower Garden quilt by Sirena Jenny Salyers, 1935

One of the unusual aspects of this quilt is the path of tiny connecting diamonds and triangles in very pale blue. Were they always this light or has the color faded over time?

A pale blue diamond path surrounds each flower in the Flower Garden quilt.

What a lovely, though time-consuming, addition to this masterpiece.

Best of all, our great grandaunt signed and dated the quilt!

Flower Garden quilt signed and dated by Sirena Salyers, 1935

This one must have been at our Grandmother's house. I'd never seen in growing up. Most of our other family quilts were used to death over the years. What a better fate than rotting forgotten in a box. So this one will continue to be enjoyed, encouraging future generations to appreciate and love quilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Only a Few Pinwheels - AHIQ 32

Over the past two weeks I've made ten of these small pinwheels. Even that tiny amount was difficult both to carve the time out for and to find the creativity to select combinations.

Pinwheel baby quilt it progress

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color, who recently moved halfway across the country, has written several posts about the experience: the excitement of discoveries along the drive, the struggles of house-hunting, the challenges of finding her feet, her supplies and her mojo. She's creating again and contacting nearby quilters. Hooray.

There are parallels with my life. Fortunately we are a large clan so most items have found a home where they will be a memento of happy childhoods without becoming a mausoleum. But we've now reached the paperwork. Oh, my stars and garters. Everything was well arranged but still must be read before deciding to keep or shred. The shredder is very small and overheats regularly. I'd get a new one but... it's helpful to be forced to slow down this process. Surely we will reach the end soon. Then we can donate the shredder.

I haven't read anyone's posts, haven't responded to comments, haven't sew any borders or made any quilting plans. I did take a lunch break and wander through a quilt store but even that didn't inspire me.

QS is coming to help again so I cleared these blocks off the spare bed. Instead of putting them away immediately, I laid them on the floor and snapped this photo.

Pinwheel baby quilt with space for an inner border

I think a quiet inner border might be the solution. The colorful pinwheels might actually work although I'm going to try to make a few more with black and white... and purple and green.

What have you been up to? Reading about your creative decisions will be a blessed hour of tranquility.

Enjoy the day, Ann