Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Finished

Another quilt finished using the mono-printed fabrics, again. The stitching mimics the scribbles of the mono-printed fabric. I like to call it "Basket Weave."

I also managed to finish the bicycle that I had started earlier. It started out o.k. but the results ended horribly. It actually looks better in the picture than in real life. I wanted to use a thicker black thread to do the "sketchy" outlining on the bike, but could not get it to work. So I used a thinner thread and went over twice. I learned that it is very hard to do long lines of free motion quilting on a conventional machine (I guess that is why people get long-arm machines). The quilting looks sloppy and I am not very pleased with it. I don't think this is the best way for me to work.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Losing Focus

Ever since returning from the Nancy Crow workshop, I have given myself the task of really focusing on creating and finishing new pieces. I have been doing very well at focusing and keeping to the task. But I have done it for several weeks now and am to the point where it is becoming laborious as opposed to creative work.

I am getting new ideas while I work, but those have to be pushed aside to hurry and complete what's already in front of me. Why hurry? Because I have also set myself a deadline as I am trying to get a portfolio ready to apply to the Master of Fine Arts program at Boise State University. (I have already sent in the application form and had letters of recommendation sent).

At this point, I feel as though I'm just rushing and producing crap (pardon the expression). They want a portfolio of a "current cohesive body of work". Which I did not feel I had, and still don't. It may be all moot anyway. Their areas are the usual traditional areas of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and alternative media (I think here they are looking at things like video, etc.). Fiber is not listed, but you can draw and paint on fabric and make sculptures from it. Therefore, even at the start (no matter how much I try to spin it), my work doesn't even fit the categories at which they are looking.

I mentioned my intentions to Nancy at the workshop and she said it was very hard to get into a MFA program as a "fiber" artist. She wasn't trying to discourage me, but give me the reality of it (which I have already realized). Another strike against me is the length of time I have been away from school. It's been 17 years since I graduated from college. My BA degree is in drawing but that's not what I'm doing now.

Despite all these strikes against me, I still have to try. I am a very good student. I would be a professional student if someone paid me. I'm interested in lots of things and want to learn more. And I can work hard. But the catch-22 seems to be that before you can go to the masters program and learn more and get guidance, you already have to be somewhat established with your work and have some direction of where you are going. If I already had that, I probably wouldn't need to go back to school.

And I don't really need to go back to school. I want to. And I keep telling myself if I don't get accepted, then, oh well. I'll go on to plan B (which I haven't figured out yet). But in reality, it would really mean a lot to me if I was accepted. Therefore, I guess I should get back to work!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In Memory of Misty (2005-7)

It's been a hard day today. We had to put Misty, Anna's hamster, to sleep today. Around noon, Anna heard her making strange noises. I took her out of her cage and saw her eyes were swollen shut, her nose was red and she was really struggling. Since it is Sunday, our pet clinic wasn't open so we had to take her to the emergency vet. The doctor said she had the pneumonia and was very weak. She said from her experience, they probably wouldn't be able to save her. So we made the decision to keep her from suffering.

We held her and snuggled with her and gave her kisses before they put her to sleep. Anna was extremely upset. I thought that I could not be strong for her and not cry. I then thought that I could be strong for her and cry. Why not cry when someone you loves dies?

It was very hard to be the one to make that decision - to be holding this cute little furball that is still trying to climb around on you and know that you are ending that life. Even harder is watching your ten year old's heart break.

We brought Misty home, wrapped her up in a bit of the blanket she liked to chew on. Put some treats with her and buried her in the back yard. Anna wrote on the stone with her chalk, "Misty, 2005-2007, R.I.P." We'll miss her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Monoprinted fabric quilt #2

Here is another completed quilt with the mono-printed fabrics. It is fairly small so didn't take too long to quilt.

I guess I am liking this dense quilting because here it is again (back view).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monoprinted Fabric

For a while, I have wanted to try mono-printing on fabric. A couple of weeks ago I did a bunch of small pieces of fabric with mostly scribbles. Here is a piece I recently finished using some of those fabrics. I also did the dense quilting on this one as well. I like that the dense quilting makes it somewhat "flat". The second picture shows the quilting on the back.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Abstract Chairs Black and White

Here is another piece I recently finished. I did the dense quilting again. The second picture shows the back.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Last week I managed to go to the museum one day, teach Anna's class art one day and still make 3-4 new pieces. I'm really trying to focus. Can you tell?

This week I am working on getting the new pieces and a couple other pieces quilted. I was being overly optimistic that I could get them all done, but I have not. I have three quilted and I will be working on another one today. I have the edges finished on one and almost done on a second. Will get the third one's edges ready to hand sew today and hopefully finish quilting on one more.

Here is one of the pieces. This might look somewhat familiar. I re-did the piece I did in the workshop which I showed previously here. (It's the green and black one on the bottom). I cut it up and reworked it and here's how it came out.

I haven't decided which direction I like it best yet. Which do you like?

Here is the back view of the quilting. It is densely quilted, which I don't usually do, but thought I would try. The green thread is actually slightly variegated but you can't really tell.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Last Exercise

This was the last exercise I did at the Nancy Crow Workshop.

What I learned from this workshop:

- I don't have to use a ruler to cut fabric.
- How to construct the sewing for the pieces.
- I can focus and work for a long, concentrated time.
- You can get a lot done when you have a focused, concentrated time to work.
- More awareness thinking about how figure and ground work in a piece.
- How to experiment with strip sets.
- Several ways to jump-start myself when I'm stuck for ideas (I don't usually have this problem. I usually don't have enough time to do all my ideas.) or to just do something spontaneously.
- That I still have a really long way to go!
- I would love to do it again.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Autumn Leaves

Today I had intended to sandwich quite a few of the quilts I had from the workshop and ones I've been working on this week. What really happened was a beautiful autumn day with warm temperatures, a cool breeze, bright sunshine and falling leaves.

First, we went shopping for some shoes for Anna. Then I went to look at some fabrics at Craft Warehouse hoping to find a particular color/theme. Instead, Anna and I probably spent a half an hour picking out beads from their assortment that you can put in a container. Lunch at Baja Fresh and then to the quilt store to buy lots of threads to quilt the quilts I was suppose to be sandwiching.

Back home, I have managed to pin three quilts and then got distracted by Anna and leaves. Too beautiful to stay inside the whole day.

Here's Anna getting a pile ready over in the neighbor's yard (they get all the good leaves).

This is only the beginning. The pile ends up much bigger than this.

And who can resist a big pile of leaves?

Not Anna. . .

Not me . . .

. . . only the grumpy old 40 year old who was too busy working on his rockets!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Workshop pieces continued

These are some strip sets I sewed for the next exercise.

And here is what became of them (it's not quite all sewn together here).

Details Removed

As I have been discussing the workshop I attended, I have been trying to describe what we did. I thought I was being vague enough about the exercises as to not give all the details. Nancy's material is copy-righted and I was trying to honor that. But perhaps I was not doing a good enough job on being vague, so I have removed previous information from the posts and will just show you my pictures of completed work without an explanation.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Walk with No Purpose

Today is a beautiful autumn day; sunny with clear blue skies and a cool breeze, leaves showing off their new colors. Frank is off at a rocket launch and Anna and I are on our own again.

After going to the grocery store and having some lunch, I asked Anna to show me where she and her friend had found some giant pine cones in the field (we have a bazillion small ones in our own yard but not big ones). We walked through the field and she showed me where they found them and she pointed out her imagined "warriors" territory (based on the Warriors series of books about wild cat clans).

Then we wander along the paths in the fields and out to another street, no direction in mind, just going where we felt like it. Then Anna said, "This is fun. It's been a long time since I've taken a walk with no purpose."

Yes, I guess it has for me, too. What a wonderful way to spend the day.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Nancy Crow Workshop

The workshop was intense and lots of work. The first day we started around 8:30 a.m. and I finished around 8 p.m. I was the first one finished. So the others must have worked later. One day I completed the exercises before dinner, but most days we sewed from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. I was usually the first one to finish or even complete all the exercises. I think this was because I wasn't worried about trying to make something great. I was just there to learn (as you will be able to tell from my pictures). The others were more concerned about doing a good piece and, hence, spent more time contemplating the arrangement (and staying up late).

Since we were at a horse ranch, there were lots of trails that we could walk on. But after two walks, I decided it wasn't worth it because you always had to watch your step so you wouldn't step in the horse stuff (and I don't own cowboy boots). I always tried to take some little breaks to go outside and enjoy the sun for a while instead of staying inside the entire time working. (This helped greatly in my mental well-being.) We were up in the woods so there wasn't much of a view. I found a porch swing that they had set in a clump of trees that faced on opening where you could see some distance pastures. This is where I often went if the sun was shining there.

The workshop was called Improvisations: Let's Experiment. Here is the first piece I did.

That was the morning exercise. In the afternoon, we worked with neutral colors. This is what I did.

My third piece is below. These are not strong pieces but I learned how to get the pieces sewn together and we were not allowed to use a ruler to cut fabric for the entire week (except to square up the edges of pieces when they were complete). That was new to me. Most everything we did was new to me. There were only 3 or 4 of us out of 17 that week that had never taken a class with Nancy before.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Does this guy look 40? Well, he is now! Happy Birthday, Frank!

His sisters, Susan and Mary, made sure everyone at his work knew it was his birthday with the lovely balloons (as he had not told anyone at work).

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

At the Ranch

On the way up to Sandpoint, I stopped and took a couple of scenic pictures.

We took over the Western Pleasure Ranch outside of Sandpoint. This is a picture of the outside of the lodge where we worked. They had six rooms in the lodge and some people stayed in those.

They also had three cabins a short walk from the lodge. I stayed in one with three other ladies. There was one bedroom downstairs for one person and the other three of us were upstairs in the loft. This is the outside of our cabin and my 16 year old car that got me safely there and back.

Here is a picture from inside the lodge of the sewing setup for upstairs. My machine is the closest on the left. There were five of us working upstairs and everyone else was downstairs in the main part of the lodge. It got much warmer in the upstairs, but we had much more natural light from all the windows and it was a cozy group as there were only five of us.

Here is the setup for downstairs (before the fabric started flying).

Monday, October 1, 2007

I'm Back

I arrived home last night from my Nancy Crow workshop in Sandpoint, Idaho. I will tell you all about it and show you some pictures, soon. I am still really tired from the long drive (yes, it takes 8-9 hours to get to Sandpoint from Boise) and the previous week.