Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bars 4 Quilt by Mistake

There are some days I just out-smart myself and this was one of them. Does that happen to you, too? Way back in November I pre-cut strips for Tara Faughnan's workshop. It was a brilliant idea. Really. You see, I had another quilt in mind that used squares the same size as her starting strips. Cutting for both gave me all the fabric choices but less weight to carry into and out of the workshop, and would let me be ahead for my own idea.

But with all the family travails, I forgot this plan. While cleaning and culling the sewing room I found the stack of strips. You may remember I frequently cut too much fabric. And here were all these solid WOFs. I was so annoyed with myself {When will I ever learn to cut approximately the right amount?} but thought I could quickly make one more Bars quilt just to use these up. They all look very similar since only the color choices seem to change so this time I cut the bars much narrower. I did remember liking the dark version of Bars 1 and tried to create that.

Bars 4 quilt in progress
Here it is in progress. As I put the last set on the design wall I remembered what I intended to do with these fabrics. Now they are gone. Darn it.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Making Leftover Blocks Work in a Baby Quilt

Leftover blocks from the Color Study Enough to make a 5 x 5 block baby quilt.

Leftover quilt blocks

Actually, I can make it a bit larger because there are leftover blocks. {I just kept cutting those scraps. My usual M. O.} With three “holes” to fill, I pinned possible pairs to test the choices . Halfway down on the right you can see I pinned three strips to decide which would work best. In the end, I replaced a white background print in another block with the light green... so four new blocks in all.

Previewing the last few blocks for a scrap quilt

Here's the finished top: 6 x 6. Smaller quilts can be more difficult because there's less room to maneuver. And doubly difficult when these are the leftovers. Adding a few specific blocks to fit gaps can make it work. Hopefully it doesn't look like "dregs."

Color Study Chinese Coins 2 baby quilt top

DH took me to NYC last week. Surprise visit so I flew from a different city because I’d been helping family across Texas.  My flight was cancelled at the last minute - my bags were checked. Trying to figure out how to manage best I decided to fly to Boston and spend the night with DD then take the train to town. What a lovely upset. I’ve seen all my children and grandchildren this week and then got to relax with DH, visit museums and take in shows. Who could ask for anything more?

Lots of photos, lots more map ideas swirling but not clear.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

AHIQ #35: Maps


I thought the next AHIQ invitational was ready but have found myself repeatedly drawn to a new idea. Whether my mother’s passing made me consider past events or all the journeys by plane and car allowed time for reflection, traveling through history and over these long distances refocused me on diaries, connections and maps. I propose Maps and Mappings for our next six months’ study.

"Maps ultimately testify to our belief in the value of exploration, whether the compass is pointed inward or out. To do so is to appreciate the value of the mind as a dynamic vessel of exploration; it does not travel according to the limits of the compass rose, but moves by association. And when the mind comes to rest, when it ceases its orientating leaps and shunts and association, we find ourselves back where we started, where Here intersects Now." Stephen S Hall

Wikipedia defines a map as "a symbolic depiction emphasizing relationships between elements of some space, such as objects, regions or themes" that  "may represent any space, real or imagined, without regard to context or scale."

Road maps, geologic maps, treasure maps,

Texas Geologic Map, UT Austin 1992

landscape and house plans.

Eichler home floor plan

Instead of large-scale geography, it could also be the location of genes on a potato chromosome ...

 Schematic representation of the shape of DNA and the base pairs from PotatoGENE website

Or an imaginary or spiritual journey. My mother had an old needlework picture of the human heart. Not the Valentine heart but a realistic model with all the veins and arteries showing. Religious virtues were inscribed in different regions. I'm not sure where that picture went. She did have some downright scary art.

It could be as simple as a garden or as complex as the paths of every person in a city. Ed Fairburn combines portraits with maps. It could be as small as a pinhead or as wide as the cosmos.

The Milky Way Collapsing by Kukicho-san

"A map is a means for discovery, to be used for any kind of territory. It is a way to get from A to B, sometimes by way of Z. Most simply, a map is a cry from the wilderness, saying 'I am here!'" Katherine Harmon

Maps can relate time and frequency. David Ramsey’s post on cartographic mapping  revitalizes all my the timelines we made in grade school. Who knew they could convey so much? Many bloggers map their label frequencies on the sidebars. The more frequently the label is used, the larger that phrase appears.

Want to read up on mapmaking?

Map Art Lab by Jill Berry and Linden McNielly (2004) is a series of creative weekly exercises for mixed media. Only a few directly address quiltmaking. This book is also suitable for teenagers.

Map Art Lab by Jill Berry and Linden McNielly

Alicia Merrett has made map quilts since 2008. Her book, Mapping the Imagination (2014), is out of print but she has three Contemporary Quilt Demonstration videos on YouTube. You can find examples of her work in her gallery.

Valerie Goodwin's Art Quilt Maps (2013) specifically addresses making map quilts reflecting her training as an architect and professor.

Art Quilt Maps by Valerie S Goodwin
Her work involving imaginary and real places can be seen at:
Other artists working with maps as the foundation of their painting, collage, or quilting include
"Maps have been used to demonstrate position, location... but they can also teach history. They can be used to hold stories and feelings about a place." Diane Savona

This Pinterest board has more links but is certainly not inclusive.

The opportunity to express history and feelings in patchwork, collage, stitching, painting, and stamping makes me believe this could be an interesting challenge. I hope you'll join us.

Also posted on AdHocImprovQuilts blog.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 21, 2018

CCVIII: Strewing Roses

This is where I left off with Chinese Coins VIII. You may remember, these were cut for a guild demonstration that was delayed due to family issues. I decided the light blues would make a good background for the roses I'd always wanted to applique. These roses, though, are pieced.

They need stems and leaves IMO. My first idea was to make a partial wreath with the stems but it didn't work. {And I forgot to take a photo.}

Quilt with Chinese Coins background and pieced roses

Next I ran all the stems in the same direction but don't like it much better..

Testing stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt

Third try put them in a triangle. Better.

Testing more stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt

Adding some length to the stems. They are turned under yet.

Adding length to stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt

Next steps: turn the stems, and add leaves.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chinese Coin Color Study

Flotsam and jetsam. Did you know they mean different things? Flotsam is marine debris accidentally lost overboard while jetsam is tossed when the ship and crew are in peril - usually to lighten the load.

Sorting and clearing my stash located lots of flotsam - stuff I hadn't deliberately tucked away but was too small to find easily. It took going through the fabrics individually to bring them to the surface. And much of it needs to be jettisoned. It weighs me down. As a quilter, however; it's very hard to let the “precious” pieces go. It all becomes precious quickly - even when I've tossed it out of the box. {Gollum, gollum.}

Projects like Scrap Vortex and these darling Christmas balls make me feel terrible for not using everything myself... even though I'll never get through it all... even though it weighs me down physically and psychically. Currently my largest section is solids {which I collected for last year's workshops.} Of course there's a huge pile of printed scraps. The solids are large pieces so more difficult to discard {although I could cut each in half and not miss it.} But scraps dance in my dreams.

I decided to make a very quick one-block quilt that might resemble Chinese Coins {because it's very hard it is to actually discard/sell/give away fabric.} Just four tiny coins from each...


Pairing solids with prints - all from the discard pile. I wish I could say this was all the discards but it's barely a dent.

Coins cut and paired

Once I started sewing many of the pairs didn't work out. Each time one looked uninspiring, I left it out as I sewed the next sets so I could see if the pattern and solid paired better with something else. I wanted both continuity and contrast but wasn’t sure how to define that.

Here’s the first finished {sewn} combinations.

Simple color study block mixing a print and a solid fabric

Moving the blocks around led to this...


Simple color study block mixing a print and a solid fabric
Which cried for another column. Back to the never-ending scrap bag.


Simple color study block mixing a print and a solid fabric
The sewn top emerged by the end of the day. .

Color Study Chinese Coin quilt top

This mix of solids and prints reflects ‘me’ more than all solids. It’s simply a one-block quilt that looks like a Chinese Coin variation even though it's made from blocks. That's a good thing because my guild demonstration is rescheduled for mid-September.

Just as I queued this up for posting I saw Cynthia’s version here. Interesting differences when sashing is added. Doubly interesting that we had such similar ideas independently.

Enjoy the day, Ann

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 use 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