Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thank you, Pop!

The amaryllis that my f-i-l gave me for Christmas is blooming!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Still In My Blue Period

I spent several days this week at the Trinity Valley Guild Retreat.  I love retreats.  Where else can you sit at your sewing machine from morning until midnight?  Where else will someone prepare all of your meals and do all of the cleanup?  Where else can you get a daily massage to soothe your aching back?  Where else can you sew with 75 of your closest friends?

The Trinity Valley Retreat is held at a hotel and spa on Lake Texoma.  It's a lovely place, and very quiet in January.  We had a beautiful view out of our bedroom window:
We each had plenty of work space, and Wendy and I put up design walls near our sewing stations:
Wendy was working on a large "wonky square" quilt.  Mine was much smaller.

Since it is still January, I had taken a pile of blue fabrics with me.  My first task was to finish the third bouquet quilt:
Blue Bouquet #3, 26" x 38"
The next day, I made two improvisational pieces with my blue fabrics and the scraps from the bouquet quilt.  I had taken along some fabric that I had screen printed and some fabric I had clamp dyed (itajime shibori), so I threw them into the mix.
Subdivisions 17, 23" x 33"
My fellow retreaters decided that the largest circle looked like a big eye, so they embellished it for me while I was out getting a massage:
The "Eye of Sauron", a collaborative effort
For the record, I removed the eye-lashes.  I don't like my quilts to stare back at me.

I noticed as I made the second improvisational piece that each successive quilt seems to lean more towards the turquoise end of the blue spectrum. I am very fond of turquoise.
Subdivisions #18, 26" x 18"
I am officially done with the January palette.

I spent the last two days of the retreat working on a new Tuning Fork.  Riffing off Mondrian.
Tuning Fork #30, T with Mondrian, 22" x 31"
At the end of the retreat, my wall looked like this.  Pretty good output for a week of sewing!
Now it's time to pick a palette for February.  Any suggestions?

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall FridayFriday Fabric FrenzyConfessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Work and a Very Nice Surprise

I spent a blissful day in my studio yesterday.  Why so blissful?  Well, for the first time in 5+ weeks, I had the house all to myself.  Ahhhhhhhh.....beautiful silence and no distractions.

I have a pile of tops to quilt and finish, and several of them have very tight deadlines, but I didn't feel up to serious work.  So, instead, I spent the day "playing."

It's still January, so I'm still working in blue.  I assessed the pile of fabrics stacked on my cutting table.   The stack has gotten significantly shorter.  What would happen if I threw some prints in?  I dug a bit and found a piece of blue and white itajime (clamped) shibori and a blue and turquoise batik, both of which I had dyed several years ago.  I dug a bit more and added a few other fabrics, mostly tone on tone prints, to the pile.

I started to throw chunks up on the design wall:
And the chunks started to "make sense" to me.  I especially liked the large pieces of my batik thrown into the mix:
 Finally, I ended up with this:
Subdivisions #16, 28"w x 32" l
It felt so wonderful to create without distractions!

The nice surprise?  Well, I got an email from the Visual Arts Society of Texas (VAST) yesterday.  I had entered Subdivisions #9 in their annual 125-Mile Exhibit.  The show opened last Friday in Denton, Texas, and Brian and I were not able to attend (we had houseguests), which was really disappointing.  

But I won an Honorable Mention!  A cash award!  I'm very proud and pleased.  The VAST show features all media, not just fiber.  It's especially exciting to me to win an award in an art show.
Subdivions #9
OK, time to get back to work.  I think I'll tackle the pile of unquilted tops today.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Blue Wall

I am really enjoying my limited palette this month.  It has been a challenge these last two weeks to work from the same pile of fabrics, but I think the results have been interesting.  And, since I've had houseguests for the last 4+ weeks, I really haven't had the concentration to do so-called serious work. The pre-determined palette has allowed me to snatch the odd hour or two in the studio, sew a bit, and return to my hostess duties.  In a way, it has allowed me to keep on an even keel.

After two weeks, my blue wall looks like this:
Two Subdivisions pieces (top and center right) and two "Bouquet" pieces.  I'm rather enjoying the Bouquet series, and I think I need to explore it further.  And I am happy with the Subdivisions series pieces.  Given the constraints on my palette, my time and my energy level, I think it's a good amount of work for the first two weeks of 2016.

The teeny blue Subdivisions piece (Sub #15) evolved today from this:
To this:
In the process, it became a much smaller piece.  Something like 15" tall by 7" wide.  But I think it is a stronger piece.  So I think I will leave it as it is, except for the quilting, of course.

Speaking of quilting, I spent 4 days quilting the Marsh quilt (Tuning Fork #29).  I'm very pleased with it:
The Salt Marsh Near First Encounter Beach, 61" w x 64" h
It needs a final trim (I straightened it, but apparently not very well.  You can see in the photo that the left side is wobbly) and the finishing hand work, and it will be ready to venture forth into the world.

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall FridayFriday Fabric FrenzyConfessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hard at Work (or Hardly Working?)

To clarify, I'm the one hard at work.  Boomer, I'm afraid, isn't working very hard. Quite the contrary.
My father-in-law is here for a visit and we've given him our bedroom, located on the first floor of the house.  Much easier for him than climbing the stairs up to the guest room.  As a consequence, I put most of my clothes in a suitcase*, and the suitcase on my studio couch.  Boomer has claimed it as his own, and I am only allowed to access my clothing with his permission.

I, on the other hand, am working very hard.  This week, I've been working on another blue piece.  I don't think this one is finished.  The upper left corner is bothering me.....
But mostly, I've been quilting.  For days.  I'm working on the Salt Marsh piece:
I have perhaps two more days of quilting left on this one.  Considering the fact that my f-i-l is here and I can't work in my studio for a full day.

*Full disclosure:  the suitcase actually only contains a fairly small percentage of my clothing.  I emptied two drawers in my dresser and made room in the closet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Palette of the Month Club

Well, not really a club.  Just me.  But it seemed like a catchy title.

I love colors.  Any and all colors.  Even browns and grays and muddy yellows.  Unlike my friends in grade school, I liked the flesh colored crayon as much as I liked the purple and pink and green.  I'm pretty receptive to all colors.  But I find that when choosing the palette for a quilt, I pick many of the same colors again and again.  And, also to my surprise, I find that I hardly every choose to work with blue.  Blue-greens and blue-reds, yes, but not pure old blue.  Why is that?

So my new years resolution is to expand my palette.  And to do so, I am choosing a unique (for me) group of colors every month and making several small pieces.  Using only those fabrics.

January's choice, of course, includes several true blues (and a little bit of spice):
And I have so far, despite houseguests and other distractions, managed to make three small pieces.  My first I showed a week or two ago, made for a challenge.  I've named it "Bouquet #1."
Bouquet #1, 16" x 23"
The second is another in the subdivisions series.
Subdivisions #14, 36" x 17"
For the third, I wanted to riff off of the bouquet idea.  Not entirely successful, I have to say.  I may have to chop this one up and play with it a bit.
Bouquet #2, 24" x 15"

Although looking at the photos, I like the way the dark lines on the light background almost line up.  It always amazes me how sometimes I can seem things much more clearly in a photograph than when it right in front of my nose.  But you can.  So, whatever I do to this piece, I'd like to preserve that feeling of connection.

I have to say, for someone who never uses blue, I'm liking this palette.

I still have thus group of fabrics laying on my cutting table.  Maybe I'll sneak up to the studio sometime today and start another.

So if you want to join my club, please do.  Let's play with color!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Word of the Year

Yesterday, between the traditional holiday activities (in our house they consist of watching the Rose Parade and myriad bowl games, playing games of Scrabble and cooking dinner), I spent some time mentally reviewing 2015 with, I have to admit it, a certain amount of satisfaction.  It was a very good year.  Now the question is, how do I maintain the momentum?  How can I make sure that 2016 is a very good year?

I also spent some time yesterday catching up with friends' blogs.  It was good to see what everyone has been doing over the holidays, and I enjoyed reading posts about plans for 2016.  Many people, in fact, have chosen a word to represent their endeavors in 2016.  Something to serve as their mantra through the year.  Something to keep them focussed.  It's a very interesting concept.

So I spent the afternoon, while sitting through several lopsided bowl games, thinking about possible words.  What could I use as a word to represent my intentions/thoughts/aspirations for 2016?  

The first word that sprang to my mind was "patience."  I tend to be impatient.  I always want "it" (whatever the "it" of the moment may be) immediately.  If I order something online, I want it now.  If I dye or shibori fabric, I want to see the result now.  With every piece that I make, after the design decisions are made and the construction is well under way, I want to be finished now.  I am constantly running to the next project, the next thing, the next idea.  It's a rather frantic way to live and to work.

I read an interesting post by my friend Gwen Walsh last week.  Gwen posts weekly on Linkedin, and her articles are always worth reading.  Last week she wrote about "The 'Perpetually Busy' Trap".  While not directly about impatience, she talks about the "frenetic state of motion...running from task to task."  She stresses the importance of stepping back and taking the time to think and to plan.  In fact, she advocates scheduling time to do so. Her viewpoint is from the corporate world, of course, but I feel that her message applies to my work as well.  

But will the mantra "patience" take my work to the next level?  Is it enough to be patient?

Another word I considered was "savoring." While I'm running from one thing to another, I want to savor the good things that happen, the wonderful things that life has to offer.  Friendships.  Travel.  Family.  My garden. The joy of creating.

And that brought me to "joy."  I think that may be the one.  

I LOVE what I do.  The process.  The resulting quilts.  The friends that I have made.  The travel it enables and requires. And I admit, I love to show my work, to receive positive affirmation, even to compete.  After many years in the corporate realm, I feel very fortunate to be able to spend my working life creating.
So for 2016, when I seem to be losing focus, or I become impatient, my mantra will be JOY.  I will try very hard to focus on the joy that the act of creating, showing and competing bring to me.  Because I am certain that if I focus on the joy the year will be a very good one indeed.

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