Log-Cabin Madness: Gorgeous but Tedious

July was log-cabin madness at my house. It’s been one of the hottest, most unpleasant summers on record here in Tucson. That’s bad enough, but additionally my job has been more difficult and my left shoulder STILL has tendonitis from quilting my ginormous art quilt about the January 8 shooting. Things have not been entirely pleasant in many areas of my non-art life….so for therapy there’s nothing like taking a rotary cutter to hundreds of scraps of fabrics to come up with 1 3/4″ strips for a queen sized log-cabin quilt.

Because of my shoulder injury, my massage table is open in my art room so I can stretch or just crash out in comfy style at a moment’s notice: but when not in a strip-cutting-coma on my massage table, I used the area for flat-space to organize my log-cabin blocks. As any chaotic artist-type knows, flat-space is the most valuable space in any work area….because it’s space to clutter up!

log cabin blog 1

Early in July, before my trip to D.C., my little blocks were just one layer big; here you see the pink dragonfly centers with 2 strips of light fabric and strips of dark fabric surrounding each pink square:



And after about 3 weeks of sewing, piecing, ironing…..I had 48 10-inch blocks; each block has a pinkish center surrounded by 12 strips of fabric, 6 strips of different light blue/green fabrics and 6 strips of different dark blue/green fabrics; here they are all, arranged on the design wall in my art room. My mom is reading off to the right; she came up from Sonoita for the night, and she helped me start sewing the blocks together.

july 29 blog 1

It’s really a challenge to keep the blocks organized in their pattern–this is a barn-raising pattern, though log-cabin blocks can be arranged in an infinite variety of patterns to create many different designs, which is why the simple (but tedious) block is popular with artists. I took 2 down off the wall at a time and handed them to my mom, who sewed them together, and then I pressed them and put them back up again and took down the next 2: and even with that system, things got mixed up a few times. It was SO helpful to have my mom at my sewing machine keeping an eye on the design to make sure no blocks got turned about or upside down.

Here’s a closer shot of the design; instead of 48 square blocks I now have 24 rectangular ones, and in another day or two I’ll have all the strips sewn together:

july 29 blog 2

While I am excited about the way it looks, I’ll admit that traditional quilt-making is definitely not my strong-suit. The final outcome is stunning……but piecing it all is just so much work.

And I’m not done yet!

Quilt Fiesta 2011: A Quick Look at Great Quilts

Today I spent most of my day at the Tucson Quilter’s Guild Quilt Fiesta quilt show, and it was lovely to see so many amazing quilts and art quilts; I would be hard pressed to say I had a favorite, but I must say I laughed my ass off at Maria Groat’s Anatomy of a Quilt, which featured rows of endearing fabric tiles printed with comments heard/received over the years in judged quilt shows, all paper-clipped together.  If my quilt pal Mary hadn’t pointed it out to me, I would’ve missed it. This photo doesn’t show you the text clearly….

…but this is a bit better…..

…and this is better still…..

How encouraging to see something innovative, funny and a bit iconoclastic at a venue that could benefit from a spirit of  adventure, while at the same time promoting traditional quilting. It doesn’t have to be either/or, it can be both/and as well!

Mary Vaneecke won second place in the art quilt category for her Circlesss IV:

Nice ribbon, Mary! I meant to ask her about the extra “s” consonants in her title and what that means. I should point out that the quilt is straight; it’s the cursed drapery in the background that added unwanted dips and bumps to some displays. I still don’t get it how she got those circles so perfect.

This is a well-done small piece by Sharon Nemirov, whom I met for the first time last year during the Tucson Open Studio Tour; this won a Judge’s Choice ribbon:

I know Nancy Arseneault by sight but not in person, though over the years I’ve seen her Day-of-the-Dead-themed quilts at the quilt show, and they are very well received; this is a very whimsical, clever piece recognized by numerous ribbons:

The white-gloved hostess kindly lifted the skirt of one skeleton, and if you can’t read the text (and you may not be able to, as I can only post small image files which have less detail than the original images), it says: Shame On You. Ha ha ha.

Mary kindly took this photo of me and my quilt, here I am featuring my slenderizing partial-profile:

Mary Vaneecke, in addition to being a talented art-quilter,  is the owner of a small business, El Sol Quilting, and she does fabulous long-arm quilting, for which she’s won many awards. Here’s some of her quilting, on a machine-pieced quilt by Nancy Dickinson called The Badge Sash, which won 1st place in the professionally machine quilted, pieced, small category; the quilt has a Girl Scouts theme and incorporates the quilter’s Girl Scout sashes, I believe:

Here’s some of Mary’s quilting up close…..

This year Best of Show went to an art quilt–The Desert’s Glory, by Lois Podolny–which featured a staggering amount of quilting. It was just nuts in terms of the detail; I mean, technically it is a real accomplishment and dizzying in the most minute attention to the smallest design elements:

Here’s some of the quilting detail up close:

I wish I’d been able to take a better photo of the quilt below, which won 2 ribbons for Best Use of Color, and then 2nd place I think for hand applique, hand quilting; Amy Bright’s Devil’s Claw:

Oops. There’s a 3rd ribbon there. Must be a Viewer’s Choice ribbon. This quilt really made an impact on me, probably because the hand quilting has such a….devotional quality to it. I mean, to do all that quilting by hand you have to really care.  I strongly feel hand quilting conveys an emotional quality that machine quilting just can’t match. Perhaps it’s something timeless.

I met Amy for the first time today while I was taking these photos and she was very gracious. Here’s a close up of some detail from her remarkable piece:

I was happy to get a chance to be at another quilt show in Tucson. This is the 5th time I’ve submitted something for the show. My membership in the guild lapsed in 2009, which was the year my dad’s identical twin died of cancer and the year when I got nothing done, art-wise; so that kind of sucked.

Hope to be back next year!