Friday, June 26, 2020

W.I.P. - Off the Wall Friday

Well, anybody who has been paying attention will realize my personal work has stalled a bit the last
couple of years.  I normally would whine and apologized and be racked with some good ole fashion guilty but ya know what???  I've decided to be kind to myself.  In the old days, it wasn't unusual to hear about middle age women having "nervous breakdowns" or empty nest syndrome or their husbands leaving them for a younger woman.  At 54, none of that has happened to me.  I've just had a bit of a creative pause.  Even with that, I still feel creative but I just haven't done anything about it.   I think in 30 yrs of being a quilter, it's okay to take a pause.

But with my studio just begging to be used, it was easy to jump back.  I decided though to finish up the two biggest projects I have going...

2016  Block of the Month Quilt and my Hell Freezes Over Pinwheel Quilt.  So this week I worked on both.  That pinwheels is still giving me fits on what layout it will be but I do know that I need more dark-dark for the layout I thought I wanted.  Now that I look at it......I don't know......I really need to make visual decisions visually and get them up on the board.  It just take FOREVER to lay them out that way....not to mention looking up and down and up  and down makes me sea sick (pathetic inner ear - lol).  But its a great project to listen to a book and work by hand in the air conditioning.

My studio (without air) had me doing the next month on the block of the month quilt.  It's getting bigger and bigger!!

With that, work this week, reminded everyone that we haven't been taking time off enough since most vacations where I'm taking their advice and taking a few long weekends and try to get some of this stuff done.  While doing that I'll keep my eye on my next big project....

So What Have Been Working Creatively?

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Be a CopyCat on Off the Wall Friday

So I've been thinking about what project I wanted to work on now that my studio is all done.  Finally work is slow, the studio is cleaned and I have time to sew.  But WHAT??  Lord knows, I have a ton of unfinished projects from all the false starts of the last couple of years.   I also have a couple of big ideas in my head for new original projects that I can't seem to let go.  Hmmmmmm

One of the ideas is to do a "Mary Blair Inspired" piece that would also have hints of Paul Klee
influences.  I've been in love with Mary Blair's work every since our anniversary trip to Disney in 2017 and I made my husband ride It's a small world 4 times....yes 4 times!!  (See no wonder I kept him for 25 yrs!)  I seem to get a lot of inspiration from master artists because the way I look at it why not steal from the best?!?  But is it really stealing???

The answer is a resounding NO!!  The art world has always been based on copying from the Greats who have come before you.  Why?  Because its great way to learn how to successfully use the design elements.  And besides that's how THEY learned so why shouldn't you?

Now remember this can extend easily to traditional quilting....or both!!

How to be a CopyCat

  • Pick an Artist ...  Here's a shocker you want to pick an artist that you are strongly drawn to.  Research her not only looking at her body of work but also any biographic information you can track down.  What was her influences??  Her education??
  • Pick a Piece to Copy...Get a good image of the piece.  Tons of museums now have Open Access to their collections with great images online 
  • Analyze The Piece  ....  Print it out big....locate the focal the artist wanted your eye to move...What draws you the most to the piece....Print it out in grey scale to look at the value placements...look at the palette.....look at the use of light etc etc
  • Copy Exactly or Inspired By??  Now you have to decide if you want to copy the work exactly or just let it spur you into a new "Inspired By" piece. 
No matter if you copy a piece or let it just influence you onto something new, it's a great way to learn.  It frees up a lot of the brain power you use on angst of trying to find something new and lets you delve deeper into into the  how behind the art.  "How" is so important.  Think about it ... how many times have you loved a piece but you're not exactly sure why?  Or how many times do you see a piece with a ribbon but you wonder why?? This is a great way to study that!!

Things I Like

I have a big love of all things MidCentury Pottery. I love that its easily found ....not too expensive...and that its sturdy.  I love that it has a bit of age.  I love that it can easily be reused today and not add to our every growing landfills. So about a year ago, I started collecting mid-century planters whenever i saw them cheapie-cheapie or they really caught my eye.  THEN for Christmas, my husband gave me a gift certificate to Mountain Crest Gardens. I love to see things grow and since succulents won't bother my allergies, he thought it was a good gift.  Well...he...was ...right!!!  I got a flat of 2" indoor succulents last week all the way from California and they looked amazing!!  So much better than I could get at my local nursery!  Plus a flat cost about $50 which was  is $2 plant.  With the information they have on their webpage I was easily able to transplant them all into my stash of planters (I have about  little ones - big ones - weird ones etc etc) and now my house looks amazing!!  So far so good, I haven't killed any!!

Also, just a reminder....I will try to answer any comments right in the post's comment section.  It really saddened me that I can't get comments in my email anymore so that I can answer them there.    You're comments mean so much to me and I really appreciate them and you :)!

So What You've Been Up to Creatively?
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Friday, June 12, 2020

Sewing Studio Make-Over ... Off The Wall Friday

So over a month ago, I decided that my studio needed a full over haul.  I  mean if you can't do a make over of your sewing room during Stay At Home Orders when can you??  I knew it was bad but I really hadn't a glimpse of how bad.  Since the federal government was kind enough to send me back some of my tax dollars, I thought I would spend some and stimulate the economy!  I set a budget of $400.  Originally when I did my studio, I tried to spend as little as possible reusing things I already had.  The first time I did my studio  it cost about $250 mostly for the design wall, wood for my sewing machine table, my peg board, lighting and paint.  With the new extra $$  I added some things that I really have been needing.

So you can see the beginnings of my make-over  saga here.  When I say saga, I had no idea how long it was going to take.  Sorting, researching, ordering, unpacking, assembling, reorganizing, and finally donating!  My gosh...who knew??

My sewing studio is in the front parlor of my 150 yr old Victorian.  Its not big...about 250 sq ft but its away from the rest of the house and has nice closable french doors.  Still over 5 years there were some things that weren't working and I really needed to change....


Fabric storage that was too bulky, too high AND in front of a big glass door 
and didn't hold all my fabric effectively 

Notions cabinet  located in a corner that is unorganized and buried in a mountain of stuff
Pegboard not effectively used leaving a lot of things on the table, 
Sewing machine table at the end of the table with electricity awkwardly placed
my scraps all in bags in the fireplace

In Short ... it was a God Awful Mess.  This is exactly how it looked on the day I started.


New Wire shelving with bins that hold color coordinated fabric
Thread boxes arranged by color and type
All clearly  labelled

Reorganization of the pegboard adding labels and more hooks
Adding one cup labeled PAPER ONLY for paper scissors
My family loves this - they use scissors and then put them back
(cost $20)

New binders decorated by downloads from Etsy 
(cost $20)

Notions cabinent reorganized with storage stack-able  boxes
(Cost $15)

Fireplace holding bolts of fabric and Silks
(Cost $0)

Cube Storage arranged so the big window is clear
Holds scraps organized by Color
(Cost $50)

I did do a little shopping at Hobby Lobby for some decorations and put up a few of my quilts using hooks and binder clips (so they can easily be switched out).  I had to buy a label maker (which was one of my best ideas EVER). Also I bought new surge protectors and extension cords.  That all came to about $60.

So final Cost ???  $465
 So worth it!!  I can now see the fabric is neatly organized and should stay that way as I do pegboard is easily used for me AND my family - things go right back to the placed labelled!  Not to mention, the room has a new vibe.  Its old  chaotic clutter is not good for me to create.  Now when I walk in  I see a clean slate - just waiting for new possibilities.

So things I want to mention.....The metal shelving is a great investment.  It is totally changeable and you can add or subtract as needed.  I did add 3 more shelves because I had more fabric than originally thought (go figure - lol)

The cube shelving is also reconfigurable to suit your needs and is super inexpensive.  The bins can be added or taken away if you want shelving or bins.  They are just super neat and easy to put together.

I bought all the little stackable boxes at JoAnn's on sale (they have them at Michael's too).  Totally worth the $1 they were.  OMG ...not only does stacking them make it easy but they were easy to open and close PLUS label.

I hope you found this helpful if you decide to do your room.  Remember what people say is right.....its not about's how you use it!!! (OMG did I just put that out online lololol!!)

If you have any questions, please put them in the comments and I'll answer them.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Considerations on Abstraction for Off the Wall Friday

The feeling of Joy in Worship

Recently, I had a reader email me a question on abstract quilting.  She wanted to know how I made the jump from my traditional roots and figurative working more in abstraction.  My answer was not easily.  It seemed to me, looking back, that I took the long way around.  At first I admired abstract work greatly.  It all seemed random chaos to me....but a chaos that was  pleasing and interesting. The more I learned about abstract design, the more I realized that there really wasn't anything random or chaotic about it.  Really most abstract works are still based on the the design principals and elements, that figurative work was based on for hundreds of years. 

Okay, I get elements I its just not putting down random patterns and it!  But now what....

How to Make Your Quilts More Abstract

The same bird house repeated with unexpected colors
  • Pick a Feeling or Concept... I always found deciding what I want to say before I say it helps keep me on the right path.  So you want to make a quilt about anger over current events??  Think about the colors that evoke that .... the shapes that say it....the movement of your piece
  • Pick a figurative idea and then edit it to make it abstract.....You can repeat it, morph it with a photo editor....distort the size/color....take out key elements....add new elements...literally tear it apart and put it back together in a new way.  I've done several of these things to great success and its always fun to see where its going to lead you.  I find mapping out the changes before I start is helpful on keeping me on the right path,
  • Work in unexpected ways...choose unique colors, shapes, scales
    Suggests Urban Housing
  • Less Reality....More Suggestion....Abstractions work best with a bit of mystery.  A forest doesn't need to look like a bunch of individuals can just be a hint of greens and browns
  • Its not all Real or All Abstract....don't be afraid to do a bit of both ...switching back and forth.
  • Start with a plan but don't be afraid to let your piece take the lead.  If you see a new patterns emerging don't be afraid to embrace them.
  • Control the Chaos.  With Abstraction the possibilities are limitless right?!  So I suggest you use the A LOT, JUST SOME, A BIT...thinking.For instance with colors...pick a palette of greens, reds and use a lot of all different greens, some reds and a bit of yellows.  Or with shapes  A lot of small shapes a few medium and one big shape.  See??
    Notice how the bits of odds and ends in the shapes colors adds interest
I could go on and on I swear but this will get you started.  One of things that I really found helpful is I started looking at famous works from the last 100 years.  How did other artists abstract out their work?  What makes it so successful???

I cut up a Hopper painting and put the elements back together to get this
Another tip for success is while you are working don't be afraid to take time to do a quick self evaluation.  Check your values....check the movement of you eye....check what is your focal point...doing it as you work will save you a lot of heart ache in the end!!  See more posts on abstraction here.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Just a Quick One on Off the Wall Friday

So yes, I feel asleep while Microsoft updated my I'll make this quick!!

Under things that I like....Have you tried Hoopla yet? You definitely should!!  Hoopla is an on-line service that allows you to stream TV shows, movies, music, books, graphic novels and audiobooks for free....yes you read that right FREE.  You merely have to enter your library card number and you can access all its content.  It's super easy and the selection is huge.

Here's the best that huge selection resides nearly 700 ... yes ... 700 quilt books.  All the latest selections from the last 10 years and plus some oldies but goodies!  It really is crazy the selection of quilt books they have (C&T Publishing has over 300 alone!) I took out a couple that I wanted to read before I bought them AND I took out a couple that I own but never read.  Reading them on my kindle is much easier on these old eyes!! 

With that ... I gotta get dressed for work!!

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Friday, May 22, 2020

How to Organize a Sewing Space (Part II) on Off the Wall Friday

My Original Sewing Hole....I totally outgrew this space
Well, now that the leaves have finally come out, I am out of pollen induced haze.  Its amazing how good you feel when the tree pollen level drops!!    With that I'm finally on the last legs of sewing space reorganize.  If you had told me that it was going to take a month, I would have said NO WAY, but of course I didn't realize I would lose a week to tree pollen!!

So we continue.....(you can find Part I here)

How to Organize a Sewing Room or Studio
(What I did is in Red)

IV.  BUILD and assemble all the new pieces you will need for your space.  To my surprise, a ton of furniture comes unassembled just waiting for you to put together.  This is also the time where you put up shelves, design boards etc.  You also will want to get your layout finalized.  Really walk around the room and sit in it.  Make sure that you like the traffic areas and how much clearance all your pieces have.  Nothing is worst than pushing our sewing chair into the same book case every - single - time you get up!

Part of my Open Shelving which is much more filled now
V.  FILL...Now comes the hard part.  Take your "keep" pile and neatly replace it back into it's new home.  This will mean using new forms of storage that you came up with in Part II.  I highly suggest using a label maker or  sticker labels for storage.  One thing I noticed that its much easier to return things to their proper place if you don't have think where that proper place is.  My husband laughed at me that I labeled my bins full of fabrics with the colors that were within.  He didn't realize how much easier it was to read the "GREENS" label rather than search the 12 bins for the greens.  I would also suggest not putting anything back into the sewing room that you haven't used in recent history (Reorganized my fabric, my notions cabinet, my peg board, my shelf)

VII. DECORATE....Now's the time to put in the personal touches that take this from a generic sewing room to your unique creation space.  To get you started refer back to your planned aesthetic.  I really think that this part is lot more important that I first thought  eight years ago.  You  want to make sure your space feels like your happy space and you can't do that without your fav pretty stuff around you!!   (I still haven't quite gotten this far....its my goal to finish by the end of the weekend) 


I personally think the most important part of this whole process is how you are going to organize and store your fabric.  Most quilters (but not all ....gasp!) have more fabric than they have room or time.  So it's doubly important to come up with a storage plan that works for YOU.  Over  30 years of quilting, the organization of my stash has evolved with the direction my quilting has gone.  In the beginning I used cardboard file boxes labelled and smaller scraps cut into charmed and put into shoe boxes.  Then I went to open shelving which I loved but its on the third floor and my sewing studio is now on the first.  So now, I've decided on that my hand dyeds and prints I'm most interested in go on shelving in my studio.  The rest of my stash stays up on the third floor.  I have one bin that will make it easy to transport things back and forth on occasion that I want to add things to either place.

I say all this because I have seem many, many innovative ways lately to store fabric....all of which would NOT work for my hundreds and hundreds of yards of fabric.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I can't name a quilter they would work for!  (Yes..Blueprint...I'm sure I  couldn't make enough mini bolts, file folder (?!?!?), or little hanging  shelves for my stash!! )  So when you are thinking about fabric storage think about what works for you now and don't be afraid to change your way of storage as your sewing evolves.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Off the Wall Friday

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