Monday, April 25, 2011

First Birthday Party

This first birthday quilt was a joint effort. It may be a wee bit premature but when I went to a quilt show last summer with my daughter, the birthday boy's grandmother, we saw a version of this quilt at Debra Kaminsky's vendor booth and Rachel said we must make it for Finn [four months old at the time]. A few months ago Rachel and Cory arrived to go through my stash and pick out all the fabrics for the quilt -- color choice was largely Cory's input. Then Rachel went home with the patterns for the letters and the animals which she fancy cut and prepared for fusing. She brought them here and together we chose which background blocks for which letter. I fused them and sewed the blocks. Rachel arranged the animals on the border -- they are not in alphabetic order -- and I did all the finished except giving it over to Rachel again for hand finishing the binding. Viola! Done for the first birthday party Saturday.
We are, of course, convinced the kid will be a genius of some sort but I did notice that the cupcakes -- in frog guise -- interested him far more than the quilt. Cory and Rachel made these -- it's a family pun, the last name is Todoroff. Unlike other toads [and frogs] collected by the family, these disappeared by the end of the party.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Red and White bandwagon

The big red and white quilt show in NYC a few weeks ago is still coloring the world of quilters blogs. I needed a quiltie for a swap. I feel victim to red and white virus. So I made this: it's about 8x7, in the "try something new" vein. The little strips of red sewn on the white ground are raw edge, at the ends I've pulled the white bobbin thread up and tied it with the red top thread and left the ends a couple of inches long, thus giving the surface a "hairy" look.

The idea came from one of the posts on the 12x12 blog [in the sidebar, at the bottom] Then I finished by bordering with a red and white stripe and a red and white print on the back. It's really a very simple little quilt. I think the drama of red and white makes it interesting. When I do these tiny quilties I usually feel inspired to make larger versions for myself later on. That may happen with this. Quilties feel like sketching or doodling to me. Since I care about words and their uses, I think the rather childish diminution of the "ie" ending is appropriate and yet distasteful. I'd call them "quilt sketches".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Question about Orange

I noticed a lot of orange at the MQX show of which this is a fairly delicate example. Sometimes the orange is called "cheddar" which is appropriate enough. In one little area two very orange quilts were hung side by side. The one below that looks like many panels has a lot of orange, you'll note. I happen to like orange but I've never made a quilt that was predominantly orange. I'm not sure I want to either, it would clash with just about everything -- unless I decided to change out the red in my abode to blue.

My impression is that most people don't really like orange as a predominent color -- or is sensibility changing as, for instance, is the sensibility of Japanese quilters who are currently making lots and lots of taupe quilts? I hope a few people will respond with their feelings about orange. Am I trend spotter? What fun that would be.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More from MQX

Three more quilts -- again, by no means the most stunning ones -- rather ones I like for my own quirky reasons. Above is Lyn MacAffrey's "Girl By the Sea" which I liked for it's simple picture [I said, "I could do that"] I heard Lyn speak and show slides of many of her quilts a few years ago. At the time she was doing highly romantic scenes, princesses and so on, painting the faces very realistically and putting them in flowery forest glades. I like the straight forwardness of this quilt. Here the quilting was skillfully in keeping with the simplicity of the subject -- a real, wholesome, likable looking young woman.

Martha C. Hall's "A Little Peace" was one of the few in the show that did something other than normal rectangles. I like the cheeriness of her colors and the scattering of circles. I didn't understand the name but that's okay. I was glad to come upon a quilt with a contemporary feeling. Again the quilting was fairly dense but not distracting..

Cathy Spenina's "Ribbons of Hope" caught my attention because again, I thought, "I could do that." The ribbons are not actual ribbons, they are fabric cut and appliqued very neatly. It looked like a wonderful exercise in mark making as practiced in a sketch book. One could play at sketching a lot of motifs until one was pleasing. Again, my refrain, quite a lot of machine quilting, but nothing that distracted.

These choices of quilts to photograph say much more about my taste than about what was at the show. I am still concerned that some quilters are so entranced with what big, new, very expensive machines allow them to do so that the self-expression that comes across to me is not aesthetic pleasure but too, too much, quilting for its own sake, not to express oneself -- being controlled by the machine rather than truly controlling the machine to your end of creating something beautiful. By the way, in the heavily quilted pieces, often a great many small crystals had been added [hot glued in most cases] Sometimes the quilt became a piece of bling, sometimes it was restrained enough to add richness as I think the quilter intended.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Machine Quilting Expo - Providence, R.I.

The Machine Quilting Expo in Providence, R.I. which I saw Thursday was one of the best shows I've attended for several reasons: the venue was just the right size for the show, the lighting was the best I've seen and there were not too many quilts to really look at and enjoy. On the other hand, I consider machine quilting such as is practiced now and was very, very much on show there, a totally different genre of quilting -- one I do not aspire to but can look at with astonishment while I try to balance my aesthetic reactions. Mostly I think, as a new technology, many people are going overboard and not balancing the graphic appeal of the quilt with the extreme quilting. More about that another time.

The above quilt is by Barbara McKie whose pictorial quilts I've been looking at for 25 years. She embraces technology and strives to make the most of it to create a picture. Sometimes I've felt she has more technical expertise than aesthetic taste. In the case of "White Winged Dove" she has thread painted the head and breast brilliantly [click to enlarge and then click again to double enlarge]. The background of the piece is machine quilted in a way I found distracting. There were half a dozen bird quilts done the same way, with intricately thread painted and/or quilted birds and a background of leaves that was distracting, they were by various people. This was the most magnificent of the birds.
This vase of flowers is aesthetically blah, it was done by a group. The workmanship was fascinating, the flowers are three dimensional of lighter weight fabrics. My camera is not sensitive enough to capture the dimensionality which I thought was masterful. Again two clicks will help you appreciate it. And you'll see some of the fairly typical dense machine quilting on the background.
I took a dozen pictures [a lot for me - partly because the audience was sparse enough so I didn't have to juggle space to take a picture]. This is an example of white work done entirely by machine with no 1/8 of an inch not quilted -- it's impossible to show the astonishing amount of work by Cindy Needham who was the featured quilter with many white work quilts each more elaborate than the other -- all in a tasteful way. They are masterpieces of over-quilting. What Cindy, and quite a few other quilters. are doing with whole cloth quilts is mind bloggling. Just thinking of the hours they spent being extremely precise! For my part, I cannot conceive why anyone would do this but obviously there are people who must enjoy it.

Besides many white work, whole cloth quilts in intricate patterns, there were many black and dark colored ones on which great varieties of colored and metallic threads were used. Miles!!! Truly, miles of thread. Not many appealed to me and I knew I could not hope to capture them on my camera so I took no pictures of them.

Likewise many traditional or contemporary quilts were heavily machine quilted, sometimes to good effect and sometimes the quilting so overshadowed the quilt itself one felt sad about all that work to an ugly end. This is all a matter of people finding a balance as this new technology is available. More on that another day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just plugging away

This selvage tote bag was being carried by someone at the Empire Guild show. I had a case of Sudden Envy and thought I'll make one. I will. But not just now.

From the stasis in posts here it seems I'm not quilting much -- in fact, I'm just plugging away at WIPs [works in progress] and that not as much as usual because the last three weeks or so have been unusually busy. I will be going to a big Machine Quilting show in Providence, R.I. in a couple of days with a busload of other Bayberry Quilters and will probably come back with more photos for my own inspiration that I'll share here on this blog.

Meanwhile I've spent a lot of what spare time I've had writing stuff. A little [very little] sample of it is online for the week. If you look to the sidebar on the right you will see Time Goes By, a blog I read by Ronni Bennett, and on her left hand sidebar is a box to click for the Elder Storytelling Place -- do click and you'll find a short story of mine. I am plugging away just now on a novel with a couple of elderly characters but this short story is one of the few I've written with an older woman as a main character.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

New Toys for next new technique

At the Empire Guild's show, I browsed the venders -- of course! -- and restrained myself although the African and Indonesian fabrics were siren songs I could barely resist. What I did purchase was crayons -- three kinds. I keep seeing wonderful things people do with crayons and paint on their art quilts. I don't know quite what I want to start with but I want to work my way into a portrait of some sort, but I will probably start more simply.

The beautiful blue fabric the boxes are laying is from a part of a bolt of decorator fabric I was recently given by a person who doesn't understand quilting fabric but does understand heavenly blue. Such a beautiful color! I'll eventually find something I want to use it for.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Spring Flowers Popping Up

The book Twelve by Twelvee showed a version of this technique. As usual I don't leave well enough alone, I had to put my own twist on it. As soon as I saw the idea of cutting through a couple of layers of fabric and turning the corners back to look like a discovery or, in this case, flowers coming through the grass, I had to try it. Below are the layers of fabric, without another pink because I decided I didn't want the green back [same fabric as the front] showing in the square. So this little quiltie [it's 8x8 inches is really five layers of fabric, the top four having been sewn together in squares and then clipped through and lightly ironed open -- enough so what shows in each case is a variety of the pink-yellow-blue and green.
Frankly I think it is a good abstraction of flowers popping up in the grass. I was recently given the ribbon that says "happy spring" and decided to add a strip o it to the top and to make hanging loops with it as well.

This was fun, although harder to open out than I expected -- I needed a third hand to accomplish the job efficiently but was quite unable to grow one on the spur of the moment when needed. I have an idea for making another, only three layers, I think. I learned that I'd have preferred the end results if the green top fabric were uniformly the same shade on the back and front which it's not. It's interesting to me to cut through some layers and not do reverse applique but leave them raw edge. I have a little fear that the person to whom I am supposed to send this piece will not understand what I've done and will find it very weird indeed as a quilt.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Alligators in the NYC sewers

I wish I had posted this yesterday. When in NYC over the weekend I actually did not see this -- but I wish I had. After all the years of hearing about alligators in the New York City sewers and it being debunked consistently ... They're crawling out, and they're BIG!

No, he's not real, but looks real -- he's a sculpture and his dopplegangers are coming out of man holes in various places in the city -- or so the article I read said. He's meant to look entirely real -- some April Fool's joke. They'll be there a while. I love it! I love that city with all it's variety and sometimes screwy sense of humor like the street signs I've always loved that say, "Don't even think of parking here."