Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An eggplant a day

Some people are spending this week cooking food in preparation for Thanksgiving.  This year, I'm thankful that my brother Gregg and his wife Kitt are worrying about the food -- I get to paint it and bring wine to dinner on Thursday.

My task this week is to paint eggplant.  We are working with purples in the online sketching and painting class I'm doing.  I'm still working on getting the paints to do what I want them to do but each time I do one, I get a bit better.  But I'm having fun and enjoying the process.  We're supposed to spend no more than 45 minutes on each picture, and I figure spending 45 minutes a day on this is pretty doable. 

But fabric is calling, too.  I clearly need a bigger studio.  And more time.  There's a house for sale across the street and last night when I was falling asleep I was fantasizing about buying it and making it my studio -- my fantasy long-arm quilting machine in the living room, a painting room upstairs over looking the back garden, etc. 

But I know I am lucky to have a room, however small, dedicated to my sewing and other pursuits, and I can close the door on the mess and leave it all there.  That is no small thing. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011


While I work on cleaning up the mess in my studio (you know, so I can start making NEW messes), here's a picture to celebrate autumn. 

Stay warm and cozy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The fabric I couldn't resist

I didn't plan on buying any fabric at the quilt festival in Houston last week.  My closet is bulging as it is.  But I figured that I'd allow myself to bring some home if it was something fabulous and something I'd not seen before. And then Deborah told me to be sure to check out Marcia Derse's booth.

How had I not seen her stuff before?  It's gorgeous.  Marcia dyes and hand-paints fabric which is then printed -- so it looks like it's hand-done, but it's far cheaper than what hand-painted cloth would cost.  In fact, it's comparable to regular printed cotton. 

You can see I couldn't resist the bundle of red fabrics, above... and a few more pieces called to me, too.

You can see Marcia's full line of fabrics here, and they are available for online ordering at Glorious Color.

And for those lucky enough to live near her in Ohio, there's an upcoming holiday show at Marcia's house on December 9 and 10 about which you can find details on her website under  "schedule."  It's probably a good thing I'm a long way from Ohio.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Carving out some time for fun

On Friday, I went up to Bishop's Ranch for a play day with friends. It was the perfect day to be there -- the sky was a soft gray, rain was falling, and the air was full of the fresh scent of autumn. Our friend (and the ranch's artist in residence) Lisa Thorpe gave us a lesson on reduction stamp carving. So we brought our lunches and settled into the cozy art room to play with rubber and ink and paper.

Here's Lisa, demonstrating her carving technique.  We started by drawing, and then carving a simple shape in both positive and negative.

Then we printed, one on top of the other with different colors.

 It's trickier than you'd think, figuring out which lines should be on which stamp!  We all agreed that the ones that weren't registered had the best, wonky energy.

Then Lisa showed us the reduction carving.  She did a great article on this in the Sept/Oct issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, by the way.  She calls it stamping back to front, color by color.  So we started with carving little bits away, printing, and then carving more.  We experimented with one simple design, figuring out what to leave and what to cut away with each print.  Here's my final print, which had four layers stamped on it:

By the last layer, you've cut away most of your stamp -- so my remaining stamp looks like this:

Lisa, of course, has a lot of experience and has figured out just how much to leave to get those wonderful woodblock carving lines.  The answer -- as with a lot of art -- is to just keep doing it!

I also did a tiny nest stamp.

I really wish this had the background carved away with the positive egg and line shapes remaining... but that's probably harder to do.  And really, I didn't realize that until I printed what I had carved.

I brought my camera with me, and took the opportunity to take some pictures along the way.  I'm getting to know a new lens (Nikkor 50mm/1.8) and I'm determined to just keep it on the camera until I get better with it.  It has a VERY shallow depth of field to which I've not quite adjusted yet, which explains why there are so many out-of-focus parts in the following pictures!  But still, you get a sense of the day.

Here is Ancella, concentrating as she prepares to stamp a first layer.

Pat M was having a good time (sorry for the lack of focus there, Pat!)

Sydne works on her sketch...

I actually love this shot of Pat's hands as she carves, although I wish I'd adjusted things to get more in focus. This is one of "my other" Pats, as Miss C would say. I have two close friends named Pat and often do things with both together.  So in case you need to know, this is Pat D.

And of course, I had to shoot our tools...

 It was a very fun and relaxing day.  Lisa has done some great banners, stamping images on fabric and then stringing the pieces together artfully.  Well, Lisa does everything artfully. 

 It was a lovely way to spend a rainy day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Houston, 2011 in pictures

I am still basking in the happy glow of my experience at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last week. It's impossible to explain how stimulating and inspiring it was -- but maybe these photos will give you a taste of it all!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Flashback to Birmingham, England

I am still catching up from Houston, but in the meantime I see that our exhibit from the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England was recently featured on Ricky Tims' and Alex Anderson's "The Quilt Show."

Thanks to Pam Holland for interviewing us and featuring our quilts so beautifully! And just so you know, I did not do all of the talking that day ... Helen Conway had a lot to say but her witty words are on a digital cutting room floor somewhere.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Houston Adventure

I have spent the past four days at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, having a marvelous time. The full set of 288 Twelve by Twelve quilts have been on exhibit, and nine out of the twelve of us were able to attend and meet each other. Before I fly home tomorrow, I thought I'd post a few pictures to give you a taste of the excitement.

The adventure was made possible by Del Thomas and the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection, and I can't begin to express how grateful we are to Del for supporting our exhibit.

The exhibit looked beautiful and our quilts glowed like jewels.

We sold and signed lots of books.

We posed for a lot of photos ...

And felt like rock stars with paparazzi shooting our pictures.

We dined and celebrated the fun of being together (complete with cardboard faces of the three Twelves who couldn'tbe in Houston) and seeing our project accepted and appreciated so enthusiastically.

Now we are headed back to our respective homes, full of appreciation for how far we have come together and the surprising enormity of what we have created.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Come see us in Houston!

I am headed today to Houston where I will be at the International Quilt Festival for the next four days!  All 288 of our quilts will be on exhibit, plus nine of the twelve of us will be on the premises to meet everyone and sign books and sell postcards and generally share in the excitement.

If you are at Houston, please do come by and say hello!

If you are not going to Houston, you might share the fun by going to our website and Twelveby12.org and walking through the challenge sets again.  It's astonishing to realize we've made almost 300 quilts together!