Some Exciting News!

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Two years ago I had the opportunity to do an exhibit of my Housetop Quilts at the Oak Hills Church in Folsom, CA. Since then I have worked on two new series of quilts, The Psalms, and The Signature of Jesus. And Monday, I delivered 25 quilts to Oak Hills. They will be on display until Easter Sunday, April 5. Anyone is welcome to visit and view them. Of course, the gallery area will be open every Sunday morning, from about 9am-12noon. And you can also visit during the week, Tuesday through Friday. Just call the church office (916.983.0181) to make sure the gallery is open. (The gallery is in their very large sanctuary lobby.) I will be at the church this Sunday, February 22, sitting and demonstrating my handwork. Fun!

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I can’t say enough good things about this church. They have encouraged me to be an artist, and have provided an opportunity to share my work with others. When I delivered the quilts, two artists were there to help hang them, and they were laid out and arranged and rearranged to make a beautiful display. It is truly exciting to be able to see all of your work in one sitting like this. Teresa is the artist in charge of the program. She makes Pysanki eggs–they are phenomenal! Go to her website and view the galleries–you will be amazed!

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And another bit of very good news! The Quilt Show has gotten the kinks out of their system, and are set up for people to be able to view “my” show for free February 22 through March 8. Clicking on this link should take you directly to the show. THIS LINK WILL NOT WORK UNTIL FEBRUARY 22. I hope you will watch and enjoy. The Quilt Show does a wonderful professional job at producing each show. I truly enjoy watching each new episode. In addition, TQS has a wonderful website with lots of free instructions, ideas, news, and just fun stuff.

Here’s the trailer they created for my show!

 

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The End, She Said

I finally finished all the straight line quilting on this quilt, and then started in on the words. I mapped out where I wanted them, and tried a couple of different “white” markers on the dark background. In the end, I think I liked the old General’s white chalk marker the best. I tested several different colors and weights of thread, and decided on a #5 Perle cotton. I labored over one word (its not that pleasant embroidering on a heavily quilted background) and hung it on the design wall. That was NOT the look I was going for. I decided to change to machine quilting the words, and again auditioned several thread weights and colors. I chose what I thought was right, did one letter, and put it on the design wall. THAT was not the look I was going for either. I looked around again, decided on a #12 Sulky variegated yellow thread, dutifully changed my needle to a “metallic” needle (they have larger eyes, which usually works okay with the heavier thread.) I did two letters this time, and heard “CLUNK” (that awful sound your machine makes when the bobbin case jumps out of its holder) and stopped. I put it on the design wall, and this was the look I was going for. But I was disgusted with my machine and was not in the mood to fight with it over this heavier thread. So I went to the gym 🙂

Later that afternoon, I came home and tried one more time. No more clunks, and I finished the lettering. After dinner I picked out the first letter that was done with the wrong thread, re-did that, and this quilt was finished! (Oh, in case you’re wondering, a lot of the time I put the binding on before I put the lettering on.)

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And I realized that at that point I had finished all the quilts that I had planned to finish for this exhibit. SUCH a good feeling. Now, sure, there is another quilt in my mind that I would REALLY like to do, but it will just be a bonus if I do happen to have time to get it done. I am going to a rug hooking retreat next week, which requires that I switch gears, and so it feels very good to have this group of quilts completed.

More Finishes!

I made the sandwich for that light cross quilt, and pre-quilted a grid on it. I thought that that might make the piece look more finished  once I put the lettering on it. I actually hated the grid after I got it done (but after all the lettering was on, I liked it again.)

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Then I began the tedious job of putting the lettering on. I actually mostly like this tedious job. It involves a bit of measuring and counting, and that appeals to my mathematical side. I measured the lines at 1 1/2 inches, and used Gwen Marston’s “thumbnail method” of marking the lines. And then I used my blue pen to actually write the lettering carefully. I used dark brown thread, and planned to go over the lettering twice to make it as visible as I intended for it to be (sometimes I don’t want the words to be as visible.) In the mark once, check twice department, halfway through the stitching, I decided I needed to check the wording against my Bible. And sure enough, I had left out an entire line!! Thank goodness I found it right BEFORE I stitched it. I just had to erase all those lines of blue lettering by spritzing it with water, and wait for it to dry, and then finish the lettering.

And then this quilt. My problem child. I did this BIG quilt quite a while ago. And then I decided that I should put a lot of kantha stitching at the bottom, indicating the world. Halfway through all that stitching, I didn’t really like it. But I stubbornly continued on. And of course, the stitching really skewed an already lopsided quilt. And THEN, where I  wanted to put the simple lettering  (GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD,) there was a purple stick of fabric that would be right in the way.

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Well, I’m getting down to the deadline for this exhibit*, and so I got this quilt out ONE. MORE. TIME. I remembered that I could appliqué a patch of background color over the stick, and with the lettering over it, it wouldn’t even be noticeable. And then, with my experience of the past couple of quilts, where I have blocked them on my design wall, I was able to spray it lightly with water, and do a decent job of blocking some of the skewy-ness out of it.

Here's where I put the patch--that purple stick of fabric continued up and would have interfered with the lettering.

Here’s where I put the patch–that purple stick of fabric continued up and would have interfered with the lettering.

*The Signature of Jesus series, and The Psalms series will be exhibited at Oak Hills Church in Folsom from February 22 through March 15.

That In-Between Quilt

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I might have showed you this one before. But at some point it got put away, and I never finished the quilting on it. I knew exactly what I wanted to do–I had to make the writing and the lilies show up by quilting “wood grain” into the cross. I got it out, did a little scribble practice on my sampler sandwich (I always keep a little square ready to try out new designs. Gives me confidence in going to the actual quilt,) and went to town. I was most anxious to get this one done and soaked, because I had used blue pen for the writing and the lilies. And then I had to fairly carefully block it, because of course, the more intense quilting wanted to draw up. I soaked and spun it out in my washing machine, and then blocked it directly on the design wall. Please don’t ask me if I used rulers or anything 🙂

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Inspiration Struck!

In the middle of that artist’s holiday, inspiration struck me! I was looking through a book called Quilted Planet, when a certain quilt struck my fancy.

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It really just brought to mind an old idea I had, based on the words at the end of the poem in John 1 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” I’d had in mind a cross (for the series The Signature of Jesus) shining in the darkness. When I see a quilt that inspires me, in general I just keep the idea in the back of my mind, and on purpose, I don’t go back and look at it, so I will be doing my own work.

I took from this quilt the idea of using rectangles as a construction unit. And this time I even wanted them to be all the same size, so I found a template that would work, and got out my big box of scraps, and cut out a million rectangles. All different colors for the cross, and a variety of neutrals, shading from beige to gray to black for the background. I worked quite a while on this piece on the design wall, and it was not coming out at all what I envisioned it to be. I knew it was a problem of values, but sometimes I get stuck on the fabric and I don’t want to change. I almost gave up, but then I found my original inspiration, and tried one more time. I cut out a lot more light and dark squares, and ta da! I am very pleased with the outcome.

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I started quilting it, and then, AS USUAL, struck a road block. I did not know how I was going to quilt it. Fortunately, I had another quilt waiting in the wings for some finishing quilting, so I got that out and completely finished it!

And in the meantime, I decided on a simple plan for quilting the dark cross. Don’t you just love quilting?

The Summer of Dying, Day Three

Well, you knew I would have to do something with that pile of pretty fabrics that I DYED ALL BY MYSELF! I am surprised at how delighted I am with this new skill set. I am dreaming of turning my old laundry dungeon into a wet studio when all the other work on the house is done!

I looked through my journal and found a Sunday morning doodle that would be just right for semi-solid fabrics. Last night I auditioned the fabrics, and decided where they would go in the design. This design would require me to actually measure and accurately cut and sew fabric. Ahem…

So, I didn’t measure to make sure I would have enough fabric for each section. Partly because I didn’t know until I got to that part how much fabric I would need. When I got to the final round, not only did I NOT have enough of the green, I also cut the first two pieces incorrectly.

I took a lunch break and stewed over what I was going to do. In the end, I increased the size of the purple pieces by one inch, so the greens that I had cut too short would now be the right size. And I decided to use a different color on the bottom border. And then when I was auditioning it on my design wall, I decided that I’d just go for it and make that border even bigger.

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I like this piece. I don’t like accurate cutting and piecing, especially when I am the one having to figure it out. I ripped out a lot of seams. And using the mottled hand-dyes? Sometimes a weird ghostly bunny face appears right where you don’t want it, and you have to cut another piece of fabric and undo another seam. Because when you might use the quilt in your series “The Signature of Jesus,” you don’t want a bunny face on it.

What’s Next?

In my last post I hinted at a special event coming up. I wrote about that on my other blog, Part 1 and Part 2. I was a guest on The Quilt Show! What I didn’t write about over there was some of the prep work I did for the show. I put quilt sleeves on twelve quilts!! I have never liked quilt sleeves. They don’t seem that helpful for the average non-quilty person. And I think I was a little afraid of them, because I had never done them. But I found Libby Lehman’s wonderful instructions, and now I am an expert on the sleeve of the quilt!

Getting ready for the show had me concentrating on finishing some long-overdue quilts, and putting the final touches and words on others.

I put a red border on this quilt:

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I had it on the design wall for quite a long time, trying to figure out what words and where to put them. And then I got an inspiration–just put the original words that you are putting on all the cross quilts (God so loved the world) but add them to the flower design. Hidden, and yet visible–just as God is so often! I love it!

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The Quilt Show requested three six-inch blocks. I made four–one for me to keep as a memento!

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The past two days I’ve been in my box of little two inch squares again! This is a version of a quilt I saw in a book. Only that book had 1/2″ finished squares in the four-patches. I knew that probably wasn’t going to happen, so I started thinking about this. And realized that pretty easily it could be made into a cross quilt. I like it. And I am auditioning border fabric there. I think this quilt might need a border.

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So what’s next? While I was trying to think about the words for that cross quilt, one of the phrases that I contemplated was “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”–the famous words uttered by John the Baptist when he saw Jesus. They didn’t seem quite right for this quilt. But it got me to thinking. What about a series of quilts called “What They Said,” with the words featured prominently–phrases that people uttered when they encountered Jesus. I am quite excited about the possibility. I went through the Gospels and wrote down a number of outstanding comments. This would give me a chance to do a little more work with the actual lettering–I’ve been collecting various fonts used in artistic ways. And although the wording would be the dominant feature, there is no end to what I can do with the background and/or borders in each of these. I’m also thinking about keeping them all the same size. That will be a challenge for me…

 

An Ambitious Schedule

I’ve set myself an ambitious schedule for the next couple of weeks. Later, I’ll tell you exactly why I am doing this. Today I was very pleased with myself–I put the finishing touches on THREE quilts, two of which had been “in the works” for months (if not years…) Oh, and the thing that I was most pleased about? I found a particular piece of fabric that’s been missing since I packed up all my stash before the studio was built!!

First, I put the binding on “Stars in the Garden.” I think I’ll call it that since it was a star workshop that I took with Alex Anderson in the beautiful gardens at Alden Lane Nursery. It finished at about 50″X65″.

Next up, I finished “Found,” from Psalm 139. It is part of the Psalms series. I really enjoy creating these quilts and choosing just the right Psalm for the particular quilt. Most of the time I use a modern version of the Bible for the words on my quilts. This particular verse is from a favorite Psalm of mine way back when I was in my 20’s and at that time I was reading the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. I don’t read that version much any more, but I do still like it. The language is very beautiful. This quilt is about 26″X40″.

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In case you can’t read it: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me…”

Close-ups:

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And lastly I finished the latest cross quilt, from “The Signature of Jesus” series. Its a small quilt (about 10″X12″,) so I decided to embroider the whole thing. I haven’t added the words yet–I’ll decide where to put them and do that tonight. Each of these “Signature” quilts has the same words “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD.”

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Close-up:

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Three quilts, three different sizes, all finished. Now that’s a good day!

Taking a Break and Returning to your Work

This is not the first time I have declared a moratorium on my quilting. In the past, it caused me some angst–would I ever return to my quilting? Would I lose my forward momentum? How would I ever get to all the ideas I had if I kept taking breaks? Now I think that it is an excellent idea. It really frees up a lot of time, and I usually get more done than I had even planned on. In this case, it was finishing my little oriental hooked rug, and I had the added bonus of having the time to clear out my bedroom and closet, as well as the unexpected (and time-consuming) project of choosing paint and carpet colors!

Here is a bit of the new bedroom colors, along with the quilt that is currently on my bed. Good grief, I did not even realize until I saw this picture that the color I was trying to get for the walls was the EXACT SAME COLOR as the inner border of this quilt!!

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I returned from my adventures at rug hooking camp refreshed and looking forward to resuming my quilting routine. I left a lot of quilt projects unfinished, and I had a lot of new ideas I wanted to try out. Being a little bit disciplined won out, and I started working one by one on the unfinished projects.

First up, I finished piecing together the dark blocks for the cross insert in this quilt.  I decided to cut the cross with a wavy edge, and then decided that it would be easiest to raw edge appliqué (zig zag) this on top of the background piece. I liked the way it looked with the cross way off center. I will add words, but I’m not sure how I want to do that yet. I’ve already made the quilt sandwich and have all of the cross quilted.

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Here’s a close-up of the cross “fabric.” It is fun to do this, but also slow going, so by the time I have enough for a project, all the fun has gone out of it and I am ready to move on to the next project : )

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Then I remembered that I had this quilt in the closet, almost completed. I got it out, marked the places where I had missed the quilting, and got that done. It just needs binding to be completely completed. This is a quilt that I started in an Alex Anderson workshop on stars. I had this background fabric (that obviously I love,) and wanted to use it as my focus fabric. Its big enough to use on my bed. Hmmm…seems I do have a coral and aqua obsession going on here.

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I quilted the stars “in the ditch” and then filled in the background with huge feathers surrounded by spirals and bubbles.

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And this next project I can hardly believe myself that I got this done. I do not like working on large quilts. I do not like making big quilt sandwiches. But once in a while I make a quilt that just insists on being big. That is the case with that double wedding ring that I was working on before the moratorium. I really do like this quilt, and so I decided that I must make the sandwich. And I have to tell you, I LOVE my big ironing surface!!! It was big enough that I could use my “steam iron method” to make this sandwich in four quarters.

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I took this picture to show the ruler that I slip between the ironing surface and the quilt sandwich so that I can put the pins in. When I steam the quilt top like this I do not need to put very many pins in place. I usually take the sandwich directly to the machine and either machine baste it together or stitch in the ditch between the blocks.

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Oh, and in the measure twice, cut once department…DON’T do the math in your head. Write all the numbers down, and probably don’t do it when you are already tired. I was VERY SURE that I had made everything plenty big. I started making the sandwich, and the backing was only an inch and a half larger than the top on two sides of the quilt. That is cutting it a little too close, even for me.

It feels good to be home, good to be back working in my studio on my quilts, and very good to be back blogging about my adventures!

 

Almost finished!

I put the last embroidery stitches on last night, and added the machine quilting this morning. Now I just have to decide if I want to cut it down to the 7X 10 size constraints for the SAQA exhibition, or if I want to make another smaller one for SAQA. Either way, I think I will make another of these. I enjoyed the process, and the size, and like the outcome.

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