Friday, April 19, 2019

Getting Serious with the Pinwheels on Off the Wall Friday

Okay, enough is enough!  This week I had a come to Jesus talk with my self.  I said, "Self, you have playing around with the pinwheels for too long. At this rate this quilt is NEVER going to get done.  It is too darn pretty for you to do a pinwheel here and a pinwheel there.  Get over your laziness and just work on it regular!"

So that's what I did this week.  I took it out in my studio and started working on the pinwheels like it was a regular project, not just a project I do to keep my fingers busy.  Now you've seen it here and there on this blog but this time I'm serious!  Fabric on my work table, blocks on the wall, Work an hour or two a day serious!

I'm still not quite sure what form they are going to tessellate into but I did realize that I needed some very "Medium" blocks.  I have a lot of darks, a lot of lights but really no mediums and transitional blocks.  So that's what I was making this week.  I also discovered the world of 5" charm packs.  I had no idea that the smart fabric marketers have started selling 5" charm packs of commercial fabric lines.  AND these little charm packs are relatively inexpensive and full of a lot of variety.  Thanks to Amazon Prime, I was able to get some Stonehenge Gradation Chips from Northcott in a jiffy.  I still think that I'll have to do some Red Solo cup dyeing soon in the palette of the quilt to get some good transitional fabrics but we'll see.

Anyways, listening to Laurie R King's A Grave Talent, I happily am plodding along on the quilt.

Now for the sad news ....

This week, the quilt world lost one of the greats to cancer....Gwen Marston.  Over the last 30 years, Gwen has been teaching and lecturing her ideas of "Liberating Quilting".  Although she, like many of us, started with traditional quilting, she took the leap into creating in a more innate abstract  way.  With this new liberation for the structures of  the traditional , she found her passion.  She felt that  “…quilts like these hold my attention longer than their predictable, well-organized, color-coordinated, pattern-based, uptown sisters.”  Now a days, we can all appreciate that sentiment.  But 30 years ago, it was more groundbreaking.

In her quilting life she taught internationally, wrote several books and founded a popular quilting retreat near her home in Beaver Island, Michigan home.    She was a prolific quilter and with a quick google search you can find many examples of her videos, podcasts, and quilts.

She will be missed.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

1847 Quilt Retreat Center Review - Off the Wall Friday

Early this year, I started looking for a place where I could take a long weekend treat and get away from my work at home life.  Luckily, I found  1847 Quilt Retreat Center that is housed in the Hotel Millersburg, Millersburg Ohio.   Millersburg is within 3 hrs of my house and I love central Ohio so I thought why not?  Still, retreats are for groups right?  And I'm only ONE!! 
But I thought I would call the coordinator and see what she thought.  Leslie was super accommodating and didn't think it would be a problem at all.  She had several groups of quilters coming in the spring and she picked one that she thought I would like. (But really they do retreats for one or two if you want since they have bedrooms that are big enough for that).   After picking one of the 33 rooms to stay in, I was all set! 

Leslie was right.  The group, Pieceable Quilters from Zanesville, Ohio are an amazing group of ladies.  Not only did they adopt us (my friend Rhonda from work joined me as well!) as one of their
own but they made sure to include us in all the fun they had planned for the weekend.  We were so lucky to get to know them!

So onto the Review:

  • Retreats can be customized to your needs and can accommodate 1-50 crafters.
  • The actual crafting facilities are adequate. 5 ft tables, cutting tables with mats, iron stations, padded chairs (complete with kabooti cushions), 24 - hr secure access, restrooms clean and nearby
  • Soft drinks provided through out retreat
  • Unique bedrooms  with many different options to choose from
  • Large - YUMMY - breakfast included
  • Affordable made from scratch restaurant on site.  The food was AMAZING.
    My Room
  • Hotel staff was super friendly and approachable.  
  • The whole place had a very relaxed atomsphere where you didn't have to do your hair or make up all weekend if you didn't want to.  (Which I did not - LOL) 
  • The hotel is all VERY ADA accessible with large bathrooms and a nice elevator.
  • Small town environment with many interesting main street businesses, restaurants and quilt shops near by. It all feels very safe and Mayberry.
  • Nick - yes they have a Nick who helps you move in and out, makes sure you have everything you need, will show you how to fix your heating in the room, and will sit and chat if you want to know some local flavor.  Whatever they are paying him is NOT enough.
  • A Truly well priced Great Value!

Let me just say that none of these really affected my stay ... but still want to include them.
Playing a Fat Quarter Game
  • The traffic in town is crazy.  Their main street sits on state road and literally 18 wheelers are constantly going by.  
  • Parking for the hotel,while free, is hard to come by in the busy public lots
  • Unpacking your car happens on this busy main street
  • Communication between staff could have been better and more organized.
  • The service in the restaurant was hit or miss and they definitely for now were understaffed (I expect this will change since between the quilt retreats getting popular and tourist season starting in May they will need even more help)

So how was my stay personally???  Just the best retreat I've ever taken!  I loved that Nick helped move us in.  There was plenty of time to sew and I worked on my Craftsy Block of the Month quilt and my hand pieced Pinwheel quilt.  We ate mostly in the Hotel and both of us loved the food.  I mean  - really loved it!  They literally have the best Rubens EVER! Leslie chose an interior bedroom for me with a large king size bed.  At first I thought I wouldn't like it since it didn't really have an exterior window but I didn't realize how safe I would feel in the room and how quiet it would be.  Plus it was super close to our working space that I could hop back and forth with no problem.  The whole hotel was VERY clean and well kept up.  There were quilts everywhere - if there was a wall - there was a quilt
on it.
Our Soft Drink Station

I did make a quick run to a near by quilt shop - Somewhere Sewing  - where they had exactly what I needed.  I didn't make it to Zincks or Miller's Drygoods but I will next time.  In my quiet huge bed I slept great, got a ton done and felt rested when I got home.  The whole time totally recharged me.  I loved the atmosphere that I can tell that will be my new go-to place to get away.  I love low maintenance vaca's that don't cost an arm and a leg....especially where their is sewing and food involved.

Obviously I can hardily recommend!!!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Retreats..The What, Why & How on Off the Wall Friday

Today's post come's from my comfy Victorian room in Millersburg, Ohio in the heart of Amish country.  Yes, I decided to take a quilting retreat because it was long overdue!


For those of you who don't know, a quilting retreat is where you take a break from your real life - grab your current project and head to some out of way place to sew!  There are all sorts of ones out there with all levels of amenities.  Also, you can take them with your guild, quilting bee, just a few friends or by yourself!  You can pick one that is close to home or one that is in a place with other tourist attractions.  They can last a couple of days or a whole week!  One thing I found, is that if you call the hostess of the retreats usually they will accommodate your needs.


Why retreat?  Because its a great way to just escape for a while and immerse yourself in your work.  I don't know about you but when I'm in my studio I still feel the pull of the rest of the house encroaching on me.  There is something about schlepping all your stuff to retreat that really makes you settle into your work. Plus its a way to be with YOUR PEOPLE.  You know who they are.  They are the people who actually understand what  you do and  how you do it.  Their eyes don't glaze over
when you mention fabric or Bernina.  They GET YOU.


Still the how might seem a little daunting to someone who hasn't gone on retreat before.  Sometimes
it pretty easy.  Your guild sets it up and you just join the group.  But what if - like me - you don't have a group.  What I did was do a google searches of quilt retreats in a 3 hr radius of my house.  Luckily I don't live too far from the midwest so there were most than a few to choose from.  I called the coordinator and asked her to help me plan a retreat for myself (and later a friend joined me).   I told her what my needs where and what I was looking for and she just set it up for me.  I talked to three different coordinators who were all great with all sorts of options and just chose the one that worked best for me.

All that is left is the packing and deciding what to bring.....more on that next time!

So What Have You Been UP to Creatively?

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Off the Wall Friday

Friday, March 22, 2019

March's Mentally Strong Women on Off the Wall Friday

So with March comes three more things that Mentally Strong Women Refuse to Do.  You can see the first two installments of this series Here and Here.  I was so struck by the original concept of Amy Morin's book because while reading the list they were all things that I have learned to practice in my own life.  I just wish I had mastered them at 25 rather than 50!

Continuing on. . . . Mentally Strong Women . . .

Don't Put Down Others to Lift Themselves Up

I love this one because this is the kind of rule that can change the world.  This means you have to be secure enough in your OWN  worth rather than devaluing others'.  Now that's easier said than done for sure.  You only have to turn on a national news program to figure that this country hasn't mastered it.  But the way I do it is to remember that we were all made intentionally unique.  Each of us has value. Each of us is amazing in our own right.  If someone doesn't see value in me, then obviously they aren't looking hard enough! Plus it reminds me to see value in others around me, even when I don't quite understand them. 

In art terms, this work is ME and your work is You.  I don't need to put yours down to make mine look better because each has its own inherent value.  Now don't get me wrong.  Obviously, artwork is always going to be judged.  I'm just thinking that we don't need to make it part of our creative process.

Don't Allow Others to Limit their Potential

How many times have you heard, "Why in the world are you spending so much time and money doing THAT?"  Or ... "Ohhhh, I could just go buy a quilt much cheaper at Kohl's" Or...."What is THAT?"  There are always going to be people who don't get what you are doing or get why you do it or get where you want to go.  You can NOT let them influence your decisions.  The rule in the Sayre's house is that if you're not hurting someone or hurting yourself, then you should be allowed to follow your own path without the peanut gallery chiming in. Of course, the Peanut Gallery thinks their opinion is the one that you value, but all you need to do is smile nicely and say "ah-huh"....maybe nod a what you damn well please.

Remember Art is unique to you and will be seen differently by everyone due to that uniqueness.  What people say concerning it, maybe be of interest, but it still shouldn't affect what you do or how you do it.  You are the man behind the curtain pulling the levers on this show.  Not them.  They are here to watch.

Don't Blame Themselves When Things Go Wrong

Okay, a show of hands....How many of you get halfway into a new piece and say....OH MY GOD!!  What was I thinking???  This sucks!!  Its a mess....I'm a mess!  Whose idea was this anyways and why in the world didn't I take up knitting????

Alright, that's a little dramatic, but I'm sure you get the point.  The creative process is a journey that goes through its ups and downs.  You can NOT let the downs convince you that the ups aren't going to come again.  You don't want to allow others to limit your potential and you surely don't want to limit yourself.  

Its all about being self-aware.  You can say, "Wow, this is NOT working" without saying "Wow, I'm a complete failure."  You then put your big girl pants and like Tim says, "Make it work!" (BTW, am I the only one that misses Tim Gunn terribly and thinks why in the world they thought Christian Slater would make a good mentor? sorry ...I digress...grin)

So I know, this segment of the series is a little more preachy than practical.  But once you are made aware of the dynamics of what's holding you back you can change it.  It's really not rocket science.  You just have to take a moment to assess what is happening.  The world these days is so fast - so loud - its hard to take that moment.  But for your own mental health - DO IT! 

So What Have You Been Doing Creatively?

Friday, March 15, 2019

My OPEN ACCESS Challenge - Off the Wall Friday

Let me just tell you ....  don't start browsing  a museum's open access collection unless you pack a lunch!!!  After many....many....many hours, I finally decided on a piece by the Expressionist Emil Nolde (1876-1956) I was first introduced to the art of Nolde when I saw the amazing exhibition Monet to Matisse: Painting the Modern Garden.  When I saw his pieces in the exhibit, I was so struck by the use of bold color it made me gasp!

That's why it surprised to find out that he was an accomplished print maker.....yes prints that were just black and white.  Once I started browsing them, it made me think, WOW what would be like in color....and then it went onto many other "What If" questions!!

So I picked a print to play with .....Tanzerinnen (Dancers), 1917.
The description from CMA says

These two swooning female dancers in long, elegant robes express themselves in dramatic but graceful curves, which are matched by Nolde’s vigorous gouging of the block. He combined a richly inked block with embossing, created by printing the block without ink (especially evident on the dancers’ white dresses). Throughout his career, Nolde returned to the theme of the dancer as the embodiment of freedom and expressivity. He knew several renowned avant-garde dancers whose form of modern dance involved elemental poses and free movements, often accompanied only by a drumbeat.

Of course, I'm intrigued by dancers too for pretty much the same reason Nolde was .... the curves of the body, the natural rhythm they bring to a piece ....the freedom the spirit.

So tomorrow on my Creative Day off, I'm going to attempt my first original piece in FOREVER!!  So excited!!  I'm going to use Nolde's print as a jumping point and see where it takes me.  I can tell you right WON'T be black and white!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Open Access CHALLENGE on Off the Wall Friday

The Digital Wall At CMA where you can look at images right there
Have you ever heard of the Open Access Movement?  Yeah, me either.  Well at least that was true till my last visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  In its simplest definition the Open Access means that academic research (but for my purposes art work) is distributed to the public free of charge and copy right licensing.  With a little bit of research you will find that this movement has its cheerleaders and naysayers (as you can imagine - but really in today's climate what doesn't?)

The Red Kerchief, Claude Monet (CMA)
And why is this important?  Because museums are giving the public free access to their extensive digital collections to use as they may.  The Cleveland Museum of Art  announced last January that  the public now has the ability to  share, collaborate, remix, and reuse images of many as 30,000 public- domain artworks from the CMA’s world-renowned collection of art for commercial and non-commercial purposes. In addition, portions of collections information for more than 61,000 artworks, both in the public domain and those works with copyright or other restrictions, works are now available. 

And CMA is not the only one!!  The National Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago all have open their images free to the public. 

So I have a challenge!  I challenge YOU to browse through the museums' collections  - pick some picture that inspires you and let it jump start you onto a new path in your creative journey.  Now this doesn't have to be anything formal. It can be sketches, digital or ..... gasp.....actual fabric!!!  But let your imagination run wild and take the plunge into these collections.

I will be sharing mine over the next few weeks and I would love it if you would too.  Anybody who does please link back to this original post so that maybe it will inspire someone else to take the plunge into Open Access!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?