Thursday, May 12, 2022

Timna Tarr at Marc Adams School of Woodworking on Off the Wall Friday

This is why we asked Will for more tables!

 Is anybody surprised that a week after getting home, not only am I just feeling normal again but my
studio is not unpacked?  Gosh!!  There it all sits in the middle of the room just waiting to get back to its proper place.  It really was a great class....exhausting...but great.  After spending 2 years isolating it was so odd to be around people for most of the day!

Back in the early 90s, Marc Adams had the vision to start a woodworking school in the middle of a cornfield in Indiana.  Since then it's grown to 100's of classes given annually from March - October by world-class teachers.  On top of that, he's been adding alternative crafts to the schedule so that family and friends can join their favorite woodworker.  That's where Timna Tarr came into play.

Timna Tarr  is a quilter, teacher, fabric designer, and now an author.  Her book, Stitched Mosiac Quilting comes out in August (taking preorders now).  What I loved about this class was the technique wasn't terribly hard but you could make it as easy or complicated as you wanted.  Everyone was using the same technique but all of our projects looked totally different.  Honestly, after I finish this one, I want to explore what else I can do with it.  

Timna's Example - Seriously how did she do that???

Why I Recommend taking a Timna Tarr Class

  • She's I mean it ... she's really nice.  In this world of division, Timna has learned the skill of being kind, thoughtful, and supportive.  I'm personally annoyed I couldn't take her home with me and make her my new best friend.  The remarkable thing is I bet that everyone in the class felt that way.  
  • She knows how to meet her students at their skill level.  If I was going to be honest, I didn't need a lot of help figuring out colors and values and such....what I did need was encouragement and cheerleading.  Timna was there all week and never looked too tired to do it.  
  • She knows her technique.  This lady knows this technique inside and out.  She makes it look super easy - which it is NOT (go figure).   She always had the time to show you exactly how to get the look we wanted.
  • She's enthusiastic.  You can tell she loves what she does and that is infectious.  I never got the feeling like she was the teacher and we were all below her as the students.  It was more like we're all in this together kind of atmosphere.  Her attitude never changed from 8 in the morning to 6 at night.
So if you get a chance, take a class with Timna virtually or I would highly suggest it in person.  (Did I mention how nice she is?)

Now a little about Marc Adams School of Woodworking
  • It truly is woodworking paradise.  They have all the best equipment, all the best teachers and the best spaces to work.  My husband truly loves it.  Just ask him.  He'll tell.  A lot! I mean really, don't ask him about the school unless you have some time on your hands! (grin)
  • Lunch, snacks, drinks (coffee, tea, fountain pop, water) are included with your tuition.  The food was great and you won't go hungry.  They accommodated my blasted food allergies easily.
  • They have their own ice-cream machine - yes you read that right  - their own ice cream machine that you can use any time of the day.  Our class decided that 3 o'clock was renamed ice-cream o'clock.  (I got that tip from my husband who could live on the stuff!)
  • Classes go from 8 am - 6 pm with all machine equipment shut down after 6. Then  people are allowed to use the building as late as they want for hand, design work or socializing.  Luckily sewing machines could be run after 6...BUT let me tell you that is a LONG day to sew.  That is a long day for Timna to teach!
  • Tuesday night is considered pizza night and if covid allows lecture night where the teachers share their work. (that is included as well)
  • Our classroom came with a "Will".  Will kindly checked on us periodically during the day to make sure we had all we needed.  Funny how every time he came the first couple of days we asked for more tables.  He also did a lot of the cleaning up at the end of the week since at the school you are expected to leave the room as you found it.

  • Our Class 

  • The school has artwork and samples throughout.  Plus it has a media room and a library of woodworking books.  A lot of Gabriel Lehman's work is featured ... that's how we ended up with his painting on our wall,
  • The school employs a photographer to  document your week.  All the photos from this post were taken by Diane who does an excellent job!  Each student gets a class photograph plus a wooden nameplate to take home as a souvenir.  The nameplate has the class and date on it.  Paul has 22 of them  - I now have my own!
  • Marc does have some rooms to rent in nearby houses, but other than that you'll have to find a place to stay.  With bed and breakfasts nearby, airbnb etc it's not that hard.  There are plenty of places to eat within a few miles.
Paul working on his Apprentice Class Designing me a Table

To tell you the truth the only thing I would have liked is a rolling, secretary chair that would go up and down for my 5 ft self.  I was too low all week even with a pillow under me.  

So that's my story of how I took a great art quilt class at a woodworking school in Indiana.  

Marc asked our class for suggestions of other quilt classes and teachers we would like to see come to the school.  I have my ideas but I was wondering if you had any?  Please leave them in the comments!!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, May 6, 2022

Stitched Mosaics on Off the Wall Friday

You'd think after 30 years of quilting, I'd have learned every clever way to sew together fabric, right?!  Apparently not.  This week, I'm here at Marc Adams School of Woodworking taking a Stitched Mosaics class from Timna Tarr. Wow!  Am I having fun!  I'm not sure what is more amusing...learning a new process of translating a favorite photo into an art quilt or being surrounded by a bunch of people who have no idea what quilting is beyond that its something that goes on a bed.  Let's just say that the ladies in my class have been taking some time to re-educate the woodworkers in the other classes this week.

The process seems deceptively easy.  Blow up your favorite photo, grid it out into  2" squares, chose fabrics to match the photo, and sew them all together.  No problem right?!  Welllllll, there is a bit more to it than that.  Timna has taught us all the skill of prepared turn under machine applique using Best Press starch which is useful in all sorts of applications.  Here though, we used it to do the blocks that had more than one color in them.  Plus the whole process is a great exercise in value and color!  It's enough to make your head spin!!  It all adds up to a week of a lot of thinking, sewing, and Advil.

So here is the play by play...

Day 1:  This is what I'm trying to make

This is where I was the first day....

Not too hard...the background was very reminiscent of putting together the watercolor quilts of the early 2000's

Day 2:  I spent the day getting a lot of the background sewn together ....started working on Tessa's hair, worked  out the issues with her lace dress using the backside of light flower fabrics and started getting her hair together. (sorry it's blurry - the florescent lights threw off my camera)

Day 3: Finally tried the machine applique process...only had to do the block over 3 times to get it right!  I did work out a system where I would prepare several blocks that needed to be applique and then sew them all at once which worked out nicely.  The right side came together nicely and I found just the right fabric for the Queen Anne Lace RJR snowflake fabric!

Day 4:  I spent most of the day  at the sewing machine.   I did finish placing all the fabric on the background and her arms.  The face is left  for last.   I'm finding mistakes here and there, but I am beginning to understand how to manipulate the fabric.  One thing I am reminded of is that my Janome Horizon does NOT like monofilament  thread.  I probably will switch to a nice 80 wt when I get home and give that a try.  

Next week I'll give an over all review of the class and school. Plus want to gush more about Timna and my classmates!   Right now I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open!

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Traveling ... Off the Wall Friday


Off to Indiana...I promise to report back!

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Friday, April 22, 2022

Inspired to Travel on Off the Wall Friday

Blacksmith Shop, John C. Campbell's Folk School


As my class date draws closer, it's got me thinking about how travel always seems to inspire my creative nature.  (Obviously, since we have traveled very little in the last two years and I feel all dried up inside.) It's the trips and the classes over the years that have been a driving force in keeping me sewing.  There is always something new to learn, places to explore, and people to meet.  

But right now I just have one little trip planned for this summer and it's located smack dab in cornfield country in rural Indiana.  (Don't get me wrong!  I pretty much believe the Midwest is my favoritest part of the US...but still it is a cornfield in rural Indiana!)  So I was thinking of other trips I could plan that could inspire...hmmmmm keeping in mind that gas is $4.25/gal here in NW PA!

Marc Adam's School of Woodworking
(cool right?!?)

(Here's another list for you Norma!  I swear I never realized how many posts ended up with this format until you mentioned it!)

Travel Ideas to Inspire

  • Local History...If you're like me you might forget that your hometown actually has a history behind it.  Make a list - take a day - GO VISIT.  While you're at it ... are there any good nature spots that you haven't visited?  Track those down and go visit those too!  They are in your backyard!
    Lake Erie from Blasco Libary, Erie PA

  • Drawing Class at the National Gallery in DC
    Museums...If you've been paying attention you know I'm a museum lover.  My husband reads his way through museums but I tend to LOOK my way through.  I look at everything...the exhibits...the architecture...other people visiting.  It totally inspires me and I have ideas jumping in my head every time I visit.
  • Take a creative class somewhere else.  Here are my posts on folk schools here and here.  But you're not limited to those... You can travel to take any kind of class that gets your creative juices flowing!  Paul is still talking about traveling to take New England to take a baking class there.  Plus look I'm going to a woodworking school to an art quilting class - grin!  (BTW - Marc's school is offering a really cool selection of all sorts of classes and that list grows every year!)
  • Explore the Opposite... What I mean by that is if you live in the city, pick a rural place to visit
    and if you live in the country, pick a city.  Don't be afraid to talk to the people and eat something different.  I highly suggest that you use TripAdvisor to help you find fun things to explore in your chosen area.  So many times, I've taken their advice and found the most interesting things to do.  
Westside Market, Cleveland
That should get you started!  Now once you start traveling don't forget to take a ton of pictures.  Don't take the regular shots but get up close and personal.  Remember to take shots of things that excite you and things that are different from home.  Try to take different angles and zoom in on the small and interesting!

Keep a small notebook.  Now I haven't ever gotten those to work but I've had many of my friends carry a small notebook to take notes of things that interest them as they travel.

Pick up bits and bobs!  I'm not talking about the normal souvenirs one gets but the small things that will fit in your purse that will remind you of your trip..a leaf, a napkin from an outdoor restaurant etc.

Hopefully when you're home and rested all of these will come together to springboard you into a new piece.  

Fingers crossed it will for me, too!!

So What are You up to Creatively? 

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Friday, April 15, 2022

Found: Stitch Samples on Off the Wall Friday


This week I've continued on with the spring cleaning of my dressing room which houses the clothes I don't wear all that much and the stash that I don't use that much.  When I say "That Much",  up until I started this it's been a long while since I had been in there.  The clothes have been easy.  So far 12 13-gallon bags have gone to the Salvation Army.  Apparently, when you work for a women's clothing retailer you tend to accumulate a lot of clothes.  Now the stash, well that's another story.

I've been coming across all sorts of stuff that I ... #1 Loved but didn't know what to do with ... #2  Hate but know I'll need it eventually and  #3 Totally forgot I owned or where it originally came from.  It's kinda scary the stuff you accumulate over 30 years of quilting.  So I'm making piles.  

One of the piles is actually one that I will need quite soon.  

In three weeks, I leave for Marc Adams School of Woodworking to take an art quilting class.  Part of the supply list are scraps over 2".  Now I thought I had made an honest effort over the years not to keep too many scraps. But, I keep finding little baggies and boxes of them.  Apparently, "Honest Effort" is all relative.  Right now they are all sitting in a large laundry basket...yes you read that right...laundry basket waiting to get sorted into some kind of semblance of order.  More on this in the upcoming weeks.

One thing I found that was interesting was the box of weird experiments.  I found these stitching blocks that I was playing with.  I just took the odds and ends scraps I had and started stitching them, playing with the texture and line.  I thought they were kinda cool but had no idea what to do with them.  I also found a box of what I call Lost Blocks.  These are leftover blocks from bigger projects, or starter blocks that I didn't like, or blocks I traded that weren't my deal.  

Truly I can see this project taking me all summer.  And yes I'm taking pictures.  

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Friday, April 8, 2022

Off The Wall Friday

Sorry, I'll just play host this week!  We got blessed last minute with Alton Brown Live tickets and I couldn't pass them up.  OMGoodness, what a great show...different...interesting and of course, funny! But really, it's Alton Brown, what's not to love!!

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Friday, April 1, 2022

5 Facts You Didn't Know about Michael James on Off the Wall Friday

North Rim, Michael James, 2022

Wow!  It's been a while since I did a "Facts You didn't know" post.  I love doing these since it gives me a good reason to take a minute and research some of my favorite artists.  This week I choose Michael James.  Now most of us know him, but how well??

Like did you know...

  • In 1973, James was months from receiving his Masters of Fine Arts in painting when he stopped cold to take up work in work in fabric.  Can you imagine how THAT went over with his friends

    and family?  He felt that he had "nothing to say in painting" but was inspired from seeing an exhibition of Amish quilts.  It put him to mind that quilts could be more than blankets for your bed.  Not to mention he was brought up around the dying textile industry of Massachutes. 
  • James was married 43 years before his wife died of complications of Alzheimer's.  From this painful experience, he created a body of work, “Ambiguity & Enigma,"
 that was exhibited in 2015.  This is considered one of his strongest series to date.

  • The University of Nebraska - Lincoln Library houses 40 boxes of Michael James correspondence and research materials.  This includes insights into the beginning of the Studio Art Quilt movement as well as correspondence with Nancy Crow, Pauline Burbridge, and Jan Myers-Newbury to name a few. The collection is open to research by appointment at the library.

  • Michael James isn't afraid to call his art quilts.  In an article on he said, "I make quilts. That admission is, unfortunately, damning in the contemporary art world. The favored term in use among folks who are a bit skittish about ‘the quilt world’ is mixed media Well, that’s fine if maybe a little pretentious. A quilt is a quilt is a quilt. Certainly, there’s some ambiguity here: he’s a man, and he makes quilts? And they don’t look like what you think of when you hear the word ‘quilt’. And he doesn’t quilt them himself, a woman does that. I don’t lose sleep over these perceptions and misperceptions. I just do the work."   (I swear I need to put that on a poster in my studio)

    • James was inducted into the Quilter's Hall of Fame (okay raise your hand if didn't even know there was a Quilter's Hall of Fame (grin)) and has a quilt in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian (here is my plug to put the Renwick on your Bucket list if you haven't ever been there).  His work also resides in the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City, the Racine Art Museum, the Newark Museum, the Mint Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Shelburne Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art to name a few.

  • Now that he's looking at retirement, I wonder how it feels to know that your work has inspired generations of artists after you.
  • So What Have You've Been Up to Creatively?

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