Quilt Update!

So this is how the whole Attic Windows quilt is coming together: it will have a border with some log cabin and nine-patch blocks giving it a bit of a sampler feel, but that’s OK. Fell behind due to being on vacation for 2 weeks.

So that is 216 individual blocks! And….The digital antenna simply works at this location right now; it is not part of the design process:)

This quilt design wall is 80″ high. So there us room to compose a large quilt!

Studio Update

It’s very sad to be capable of making art quilts and have one’s life reduced to this:

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It’s Kaffe Fasset Fabric, which is very popular among quilters, especially in my local art quilt bee. I don’t see it; but, that doesn’t mean much. He’s very popular and succesful. My bee is making a quilt for Quilt for a Cause. We all are making blocks and this is my contribution.

I’m hoping to finally start on my new project soon and have been getting my sewing space ready. Here it is, still a mess but almost ready:


My new project will not be teapots!

Organ Pipe National Monument Camping Trip

My mom and I drove the 120+ miles west of Tucson recently and camped at Organ Pipe National Monument. This is the view from the main campground, which has a frightening 220 camping spots, some for RVs w/generators, but despite the size it was quiet and peaceful. Here’s the view south to Mexico from our spot on the edge of the campground.  It’s a landscape straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel.

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Much of the monument was closed to visitors for the past 13 years due to violence related to the drug and human trafficking along the US/Mexico border. Last fall it re-opened. We drove to the very unique Quitobaquito springs, which is truly amazing. It doesn’t look like much, if you’re used to lots of water where you live; here’s my mom at the springs:

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However, you would probably never ever never find it in the middle of the desert, unless you had exact coordinates because everything looks the same out here. In the photo before, the springs are just a few hundred feet ahead, but you could easily walk right by them. There’s a cottonwood you can see that shows where the spring is, but it’s an introduced species, so in the era of the Conquistadors perhaps it was even more hidden.

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There’s something really magical about the desert. It’s quiet in a mysterious way.  The silence was welcome, given the anniversary we were recognizing. We’re already planning our return next spring.

Sacred Threads Quilt Show, 2013

I just got back from a brief trip to the Washington D.C. area, where I visited with my father’s older sister, my aunt Helen; together we went to see the Sacred Threads quilt show. Sacred Threads is a biennial, juried show featuring quilt artists from North America. The show features art quilts that address issues with spiritual and emotional content.

Here is a shot of me and Helen in front of my piece, Six Windows, about the January 8, 2011 mass shooting in Tucson:

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There were over 200 quilts in the show, and all were amazing; additionally, there was a featured artist:  Dominique Ehrmann. Dominique is an extremely talented and enthusiastic artist from Quebec; her piece was, deservedly, at the center of the show: here we are in front of her stunning 3-D art quilt “Come Follow Me”:

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It’s impossible from this static image to really understand the enchantment of her work. It’s best to think of it as a child’s pop-up book; there are 4 layers of quilting suspended from her custom made frame.Here’s a close-up of the child-shape, and you can get a sense of the depth of the piece if you look up to the left:

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Here’s more detail; it’s just a stunning vision in fabric and thread, so painterly and sculptural at the same time. In fact, she described her work as like sculpture, and I agree. I find that the construction of the art quilt involves a lot of sculptural thinking and technique.

Here’s a close-up of the tree on the left, and a great example of detail…..there’s a mouse down there……

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I stuck my camera inside the center; here you can see the 4 different layers of quilt: for example, you can see that the girl-shape is in a plane in the foreground and that the gate-shape is in a different plane about 3 layers back. Apologies to the artist if I didn’t get this right, but that’s how it appears, or how I remember it:

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There were so many excellent pieces in the show; I photographed a few just to show here, but they are by no means the only excellent works on display.

I liked this very expressive piece called “Hallelujah” by Sandy Curran of Newport News, VA, about recovery from debilitating chronic pain:

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This is a great example of portraiture using fabric and quilting; this is by Cheryl Hurd of Washington, D.C., and is called “Bubba”, one of 2 pieces she had at the show honoring her son who died of cancer:

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This was a very cool quilted interpretation of the Boston Marathon by Rosanne Williamson called “Boston in the Spring”; likely it was finished before the recent bombing attack at the marathon this year, as the artist didn’t mention it. That’s fine with me. That shouldn’t be the first thought that comes to mind with the marathon, anyway. I remember when my dad ran it when I was a kid. It’s a huge human achievement, one that’s been celebrated since ancient times.

“Mourning Doves” is by Betty Busby of Albuquerque, inspired by an exchange student she had in her home from Gaza, and his stories of the effects of war on his family. It’s a superb composition with great color.

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Here’s a close-up:

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Judith Heyward from Hendersonville, NC created this piece, “Hidden Potential”, about the need for women to be pro-active in breast cancer prevention; this was a very technically solid piece:

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I must say, I’m a bit of an introvert, and I had limited time to really view and enjoy the show; I did find myself returning to my piece, only because it looked really good where it was hanging; I’m very thankful to the curator for giving it such a lovely spot with such good lighting!

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I’m very thankful to the Sacred Threads staff, committees, curator, sponsors and all artists who participated; it’s truly a very moving show, and I’m certain those who visit will find it thought provoking and emotionally relevant.


Mount Lemmon Highway Getaway

There’s nothing like a quick trip up the Mount Lemmon Highway once the temperatures start to heat up here; it’s a stunning drive from the Tucson desert up to 9,000 feet and pine and aspen forests. Not that much forest is left after devastating fires nearly 10 years ago. But it’s a beautiful drive nonetheless and today my mom and I took a lovely drive up to the top. Here’s a photo of my mom, looking very at home in a landscape she loves; I believe this is the Geology Lookout, with a view of Rincon Peak to the left in the distance:

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Non Stop Knitting

The last 4 months have seen me do little typing–away from work that is–and no sewing. Why? Because I still have tendinitis in my left shoulder, which started in the middle of machine quilting my “Six Windows” piece, and that was 6 months ago.  And to make matters worse, I got a cortisone injection that only caused me more pain. So. Not much sewing going on for a while.

I have at least been able to knit and I made a simple hoodie for my nephew; here it is, hanging up after I blocked it:

051313 blog 1And here is Damian wearing it is a few days later in Madison, Wisconsin:

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This is the next sweater in progress, another top down hoodie for my nephew Luke; this one has a cable down the middle: I’m getting adventurous!

051313 blog 2Aside from finally having some knitting success–thanks to the good folks at Kiwi Knitting here in Tucson for their instruction–I’ve also had some success on a larger scale: I submitted my “Six Windows” quilt to the Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition near Washington D.C. this summer, and it was accepted. I’m very pleased, as it’s a well known national show. And I know people will really appreciate seeing it.

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Studio Upgrade

This is the view of the north side of my sewing room; it’s a bit messy because I’m moving stuff around to get ready for a major upgrade. Well, major for me: the patio door will be removed and the space framed up and then a window put in, and a skylight is going in the ceiling. The fellows who did my window installation a few years are doing the work:

Here I’ve cleared stuff away, which is to say I’ve stuffed everything in other corners of the house. You must admit, this view is a bit glum:

Especially when you look closely at the patio door; the idiot who installed it did a bad job, check out how the mortar is cracking:

And not just on the inside, on the outside, too; it was getting to the point where this just wasn’t even safe and secure, let alone aesthetically pleasing:

After vacuuming, this is my new view of the north side of my sewing room; much nicer. The dark blob in the center of the skylight is the ceiling fan blade. I love the natural light. Now I have to put all my stuff back!!

Straightening Up

Today I started straightening up my art quilt-top. This is a tedious process involving ironing the piece, and then using a level and plumb line (you can see the plum on the lower left side of the photo below). Once I have a somewhat true vertical, I’ll then pin the vertical fabric on top and sew a seam, and hopefully when it comes time to straighten up the final quilted product, the vertical seam and the binding will mostly appear parallel. Wish me luck.

Structural Delay

I ran into a bit of a structural problem while sewing the pieces of my art quilt top together. Some of the panels in my piece are cotton sateen; other panels are cotton sateen covered with acrylic gel medium….so those panels are stiffer. I used satin stitch to sew these different panels together. After a few times squashing my rolled up quilt top through my sewing machine, I noticed that the fabric was tearing in small places along the satin stitch seam line, but only the fabric that was stiff was tearing a bit. I realized that the mulitple needle punches that make up satin stitch were actually acting like a perforated line on that fabric. I needed a solution, quick. Above, you can see (faintly) a tear in the fabric on the top of the seam, on the left side.

I fused about a yard of Wonder Under onto about a yard of muslin; then I cut out the wavy shapes of the seams from the muslin/fused fabric, and then actually ironed the fused fabric onto the back of the quilt top. If you look carefully at the photo below, there is a faint neutral colored area on the bottom side of the seam, on the left side, just above the letter T. Part of that creamy colored area is the fabric itself, but the smaller area near the seam is the muslin. And believe me, it’s hardly noticeable.

It took a while to do this as it was rather tedious and it put me in a bad mood.

This is my piece so far, the square window shapes haven’t been assigned permanent locations yet:

Let the Piecing Begin…

I’m taking some time off from work to get some sewing done; so far so good. I started piecing together all the bits of fabric I’ve made over the past 6 months or so, this fabric will be my “quilt top” so to speak. This is the first section:

I pieced the 3 sections together with a straight stitch and then satin stitched over the seam; here you can see a close up here I’ve satin stitched one seam, not the other:

Here you see both seams are done:

Here is my project as it evolves; more later!