Wednesday, March 28, 2012

eye candy...


I collect art and textile books obsessively. Every so often a new one appears that gives me butterflies in my stomach. "Designs And Patterns From Muhu Island" is the most inspiring book I've devoured in a long time. It chronicles the folk art tradition of a small population of Estonians who essentially competed with each other to make the most distinctive and beautiful clothes as well as housewares. The book is that rare combination of academic history and how-to techniques. It explores this wonderful people's tradition of handicrafts including knitting, embroidery, beading and crochet. The book is made up of 400 pages of textile goodness with lots of charted and unique designs as well as gorgeous photos of the most extraordinary color combinations. The embroideries alone beg to be translated into appliqué quilts... These photos do no justice to the actual pages...


knitting...

beading...


crochet above...
and embroidery...





You may find this magnificent book here for European readers and here for North Americans. Thank you Juju!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

jane sassaman...



This week I had the privilege of taking a workshop with and attending a lecture from the incomparable Jane Sassaman. Both were really inspiring. Jane is a contemporary quilt artist, Free Spirit fabric designer, author and internationally lauded teacher extraordinaire. The quilt above is called "Willow". It was named  one of the best "100 American Quilts of the Century" and is featured in this PBS documentary. Her work is graphic and characterized by strong color and lots of subtle surface embroidery.

Below is a detail of one of her sample quilts showing how she uses standard machine embroidery stitches to both embellish and actually quilt her pieces... Jane encouraged us to explore our machines' capabilities in ways that would never occur to me before. She also taught us several unique methods of using tailor's lightweight interfacing to add body to our pieces and aid design and composition.




 Here is the description of the class I took:

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION

"Suns and Moons is a machine appliqué workshop based on the circle motif. Using Jane’s appliqué techniques and experimenting with our decorative stitches, we will begin by making a series of colorful fabric discs which will then be arranged into a dramatic and contemporary composition. "


Here is what I came home with. I still need to play with all the elements removing some and adding others. When I am pleased with the arrangement I will embroider and quilt my little sampler like crazy... 




I learned so much in Jane's class and from listening to her speak. It is hard to convey how fascinating it was to hear about her influences and inspirations specifically the Arts and Crafts movement and see how she visually translates the minutiae of life in her garden into her work. What you don't read about in her CV is how incredibly warm and generous she is. I left with a serious "art crush" on her. Heads up to all you Southern Hemispherers. Jane Sassaman will be in Australia for the next month. She seems to travel exhaustively so wherever you live on this planet you can find her at some point. Can't recommend taking a class or attending a talk from the divine Ms. Sassaman enough. Am now on the hunt for a copy of her first book which outlines her artistic process and techniques in more detail...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

never too old for fisher-price...






 Playing with my friend's 4 year old I became intrigued by one of his toys. It is called a Doodle Pro and it is a magnetic drawing tablet. It is kind of like an "Etch a Sketch" but instead of twiddling knobs to make a picture you use a stylus to actually draw. As my recent posts reveal, I am determined to learn how to quilt both by machine and by hand this year. All of the wisdom of the experts asserts that the best way to learn to machine quilt either free motion on a domestic or on a longarm frame is to doodle your design over and over so that your hands learn muscle memory. Have tried this and felt incredibly guilty about all the wasted paper. Enter the toy! With a simple slide an unwanted image disappears. I can experiment and practice to my heart's content then capture a shot of anything worth remembering or saving with my digital camera...






Needless to say: the next day after a visit to the local toy department, my very own Doodle Pro came home with me. These are my first attempts at continuous traditional feathers...



Thursday, March 15, 2012

liebster blog award...


Marjolein of www.bettyvanos.blogspot.com awarded me the Liebster Blog Award which completely turned a difficult day into a good one! Thank you! The idea is to nominate 5 blogs which you feel deserve extra recognition. Without further ado, I'd like to pass this award onto the following:


Pinkadot Quits. Kelly is an amazing quilter who is always working on something interesting. A recent project of note is a diary quilt with a block representing the events of her life sewn for each week of a year...

greenQuilts. Julia is the accomplished author of "Photo Play" which outlines her amazing and easy method for creating portraiture in fabric. I wrote more about her work here.

daintytime. Sherri Lynn Wood is a superb artist and the creator of this inspiring Quilt Along among others. I can't tell if she's already received the Liebster as she doesn't list having followers so am going to give her this award anyway. She deserves it!

Spirit Cloth. Jude Hill is another textile artist whose work is just extraordinary. Am probably bending the rules here too as she also doesn't list followers and she is well known. Her work is technically unbelievable and at the risk of sounding like a complete flake spiritually compelling...

fan decks and memos. Eliott is not a quilter (yet) but is a very talented interior designer. I've included her here because she is an insightful writer who posts really visually inspiring photos...

Lastly, if you don't already read the delightful Andie you need to. She has too many followers to officially win this award but I'm mentioning her anyway. She is creative, smart and super funny...

Hope you enjoy and explore these blogs!


The Liebster Blog Award rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to their blog.
3. Copy and paste the Liebster award to your profile.
4. Pick 5 blogs that you feel deserve to be in the spotlight (they must have @200 followers or under).
5. Blog about it and leave a comment for your nominations to let them know that you have chosen their blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

bloggers bom month #6...



Here is my block #6 of the Bloggers BOM. It was designed by Amy from Diary Of A Quilter. This one is made with more Kaffe scraps and of course more dots. Can't believe how quickly time is passing. Am starting to idly think about a layout for this quilt...


Monday, March 5, 2012

spoon quilting...



A dear friend recommended this great book "Utility Quilting" by Carolyn Foster after I expressed interest in learning how to hand quilt using perle cotton and big stitches. It is filled with lots of clever ideas and ways to get your tops quilted quickly and decoratively. Have tried to learn to hand quilt before but the attempt has always ended up as an experiment gone terribly wrong. I usually stab myself badly underneath the quilt and my fingers become very sore. The stitches go beyond being charmingly primitive and into the realm of just looking horrible. The idea of conventionally quilting an entire quilt by hand is completely intimidating.




Am determined to try again with the help of the Quick Quilter. This gadget replaces your hand under the quilt. The needle deflects off the spoon underneath rather than the tender tip of your finger. This is more easily explained in the video below or in an even better one here. Am making up some muslin/batting sandwiches and will post some pictures of my stitches later after a bit of practice. I'll give a more detailed review of this tool then. Any hand quilters out there? Any tips for a hopeless beginner? Any "can't do without" gadgets?