November 22, 2010

inspiration: the sky from my bedroom window

Every morning I open the curtains in my bedroom so the sun will help Simon wake up. For a while it was dark when I did this. But with the time change it has been getting light out while I'm still at home and every morning right around 7:10 the sky is amazing.

11/21 - do you see that jet stream?
I mean truly honestly amazing. Shockingly so. I am still trying to figure out why the sky is such a revelation to me, when it has been around my whole life.


The night sky is pretty great, too. I guess.


 I am completely awed by the difference in cloud structure, color, quality of light, and mood within a span of a few days. These skies only exist for a short amount of time, so unless you are really paying attention, they are easy to miss. If I wasn't such a slave to time, I would wake up with the sun every morning and take a picture. A project for winter break perhaps.

November 21, 2010

cough, cough, etsy, cough

I am officially a Sicky McSickerton with runny nose, cough, headache, and general unpleasantness. It's no fun. It's hitting especially hard now that I am back home in KC, away from The Most Adorable Nephew Ever.

Instead of an invitation to my pity party, I will leave you all with a very short blog post and some eye candy. Check out this treasury I made on Etsy.

Sneak peeks:

 Moldy Linen Pin by elinart

Quilt Card Set by krankpress

Again, the link for the treasury with a side note that anyone who wants to send me a Christmas present need look no further than this delightful list (hint, hint, no pressure).

November 2, 2010

pretending to be a designer again

option 1
Alright ya'll.  I'm coming at you again for some advice/help. This time I'm requesting input on postcard designs. I am making an effort to "put myself out there" as it were and finding that I need an actual, physical object to give/send people with my information on it.

option 2
This thing is going to have an image on one side and just a small amount of information on the back (like my email, website, etc.). I've been playing around with some detail shots of my quilts to try and come up with a postcard that is colorful, shows the texture of the fabric and stitching, and has my name on it. They will be 4" x 6".

option 3
I would really appreciate some feedback. Nothing is precious, I could use help with which image is best, orientation of the card, where the text (my name) should be, etc. I want to try and order them by late this week.

option 4
Thank you, thank you, thank you to anyone who writes me a comment with suggestions!!

October 30, 2010

Quilts from TSA part 3

So I meant to post this a week (or two, or three?) ago. Things happen. But please don't let the late-ness of this post in any way hinder your delight or amazement of what I am about to offer.

 In the market part of the TSA conference, which turned out to be very dangerous for my wallet, I encountered a table stacked high with brightly colored, hand made quilts. Quilts for Kids Nepal is a microfinance project, based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Its mission is to provide work for economically-challenged women and to finance education for underprivileged children.
Founded in 2006, the project operates in an encampment of Indian street beggars located in a large field in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu.

This is the quilt I bought. The quilts are entirely hand -pieced and hand stitched. You can't really tell from the photos, but the quilting is all done in thick running stitches of varying colors of thread. It took about 45 minutes to decide which quilt I would buy and the back of this one is what sold me. The back is solid maroon fabric, and you can clearly see the lines of stitches. Also, note the tiny triangles of fabric and fabric tassels around the edge of the quilt. Amazing.

 The quilts are made from materials either found or purchased at local tailoring shops in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu. Often they are made from scraps of old saris or from the pieces left over from the making of Buddhist monks' robes.

Go to the website and you can see more pictures and read more information about the program. 100% of your donation to Quilts for Kids Nepal goes to fund women's salaries as well as school tuition, school uniforms, shoes, pencils, books and backpacks for the kids.

October 24, 2010

productivity vs progress

This was a very productive weekend in that I got a lot done. However, I'm not really sure if I'm making progress. I've gotten off track slightly, but I think it's good.
This is what's up. Months ago, like way back at the end of August, I started a twin size quilt. It was in the "Skyscape" series, but based more on bright summer skies and green fields. Here it was in progress (hanging on my studio wall):
This thing had something like 26 hand dyed colors in the top and 35 hand dyed colors in the bottom. It was crazy. It took me about 4 days just to dye all the fabric, not to mention cutting and sewing the strips together. Twin size might not sound very big, but it was 66" wide x 88" tall, which is way bigger than me. The quilt top sat in my studio for quite a few weeks and was always in the back of my mind as this huge thing I had to tackle, but didn't want to. So on Friday I decided to cut it up into two smaller quilts. I planned, and sketched, and did math to figure out how best to cut this quilt top up to make two really great quilts out of it. Then I cut it wrong. I measured twice. I think I even measured 4 times, but to no avail. 
Here is what I ended up with:

The first one, I'm happy with. The second I was really skeptical of, but Jaime suggested cutting the big yellow piece on the bottom mostly off and now I'm feeling better about it. I'm going to cut it tonight. Both of these are back to my comfortable size of about 40" x 50". Both are quilted. The first one has the binding almost all sewn on. The bottom one needs to be trimmed up and then bound. The more I look at them, the happier I get. 

There is also a secret third quilt in progress. If I can keep using the dining room as my sewing studio and tear myself away from the Sookie books, I might complete three quilts this month. 

And this was the sky last night as I was working. Strange and beautiful. This might be the color palette for my next quilt.

October 14, 2010

Quilts from TSA part 2

The International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE has an amazing exhibition up called South Asian Seams: Quilts from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. All of the quilts were truly incredible - all hand pieced and hand quilted, with an amazing use of color, pattern, and repetition. I was particularly mesmerized by the Ralli Quilts from Pakistan. I have known about Rallis for a few years, but this was my first experience seeing them in person. Its impossible to know what the future will bring, but I have a feeling that the impact of seeing these quilts in person will change my work.

detail of the above Ralli   

 Ralli from Pujab, Pakistan. This ralli has the traditional Punjabi patterning with a mixture of geometric blocks and fine line applique. The appliqued blocks remind me of paper cut artwork and Hawaiian Quilts.

From Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan. Features fifteen 8-petaled lotus flowers in bright colors. The multiple, patterned borders are typical of the region. 

All of the hand-stitching and hand-applique make me feel pretty lazy for machine stitching everything. I need to reconsider time and commitment in my work and the expressive quality of a hand-made stitch. 

October 10, 2010

Quilts from TSA part 1

Okay friends. I feel totally rejuvenated and inspired and ready to make some amazing quilts. All because of the Textile Society of America Conference that was last week in Lincoln, NE. It was a great conference and I'm still mentally sorting everything - the people I met, the amazing quilts, weavings, embroideries, and other fiber work, and the lectures. Not all of the lectures were mind-blowing, but enough of them were great that the mediocre ones will soon be forgotten. There were way too many highlights to showcase in this one blog entry, so I will pick out my three favorite quilted things from the conference to share in three parts. Parts 2 and 3 will come later this week.

First: I got to see Anna von Mertens' quilts in person. (that sentence does not properly describe my excitement about the event).There was an exhibition of 6 of her quilts at the Project Room. In one room there were two quilts, Dawn (Anna Zerissa Morse Thurston, born February 6, 1841, Surry, Maine) and Dusk (Anna Zerissa Morse Thurston, died April 11, 1886, Oakland, California) 2008, hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton, 54" x 100" (each piece). In the other room were four of her Aura Quilts, two are pictured here:

Philip IV's aura, after Velázquez
2009, hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton, 80 x 38 1/2"
(with me)
Mona Lisa's aura, after Leonardo da Vinci
2009, hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton, 34 3/4" x 25 3/4"
I have been a big fan of her work for about 4 years but had only seen pictures of her amazing quilts. As you all probably know, fiber work does not really translate into photography. These quilts, well, I just don't know what to say about them. The color is the main thing and it is bright, dark, light, juicy, smooth, vibrant. They are all hand quilted and you can see (if you look closely) the portrait that they are based on in the stitching. If you don't know her work, go to her website now.
coming up later this week:
Part 2 - Ralli Quilts from Pakistan
Part 3 - Quilts for Kids Nepal

September 27, 2010

issues and goals

I have been so busy lately. I'm sure you don't want to hear about it because everyone is busy, right? But I feel like the three week chunk of time I am inhabiting is unbearably busy. Luckily, Simon bought groceries yesterday and made a big fall dinner of roasted pork with rosemary, butternut squash, apples, and cabbage. I can't think about food when I am this stressed out. I'm to the point of stress where I just want to shut it all out, put on my winter pajamas, make some hot tea, and read my Sookie Stackhouse books.

So I'm just going to whine for a minute. Everyone is invited to my pity party. I'm taking this class called Artist Inc where artists learn how to be grown ups about everything from marketing, to paying taxes, to talking and writing about our work, etc. It's good for me. I'm grateful to be in it. The bad thing is that last week we had to make one manageable short term goal and we had to tell the people in our small groups what the short term goal was. Mine was to finish the quilt I've been working on since before school started. There's not much left - just iron the top, make the sandwich, quilt it, trim it, and sew on the binding (I guess that's kind of a lot). So I made a plan where I broke it down into manageable chunks and I really thought I would get it done. It felt so good to have a plan and a goal and people holding me accountable. I haven't touched the quilt all week. Fail.

One of the reasons is that I spent all weekend getting ready for my workshop in Columbia next weekend, preparing two slide shows for class this week, doing my other Artist, Inc homework, AND getting things ready for Apartment Therapy Design Showcase final round. Poor me, right?

So I don't have any pretty picutres to share. I don't have any progress to report. I don't have any inspiration photos. Blerg. You can see a video of me over at AT talking about my skyscape quilts.

September 18, 2010

we grew figs

That's right. Figs. In Kansas. It's very exciting. So far we have harvested 6 figs. Our tree is only one year old. Next year there will be many more figs.

I also decided I should show the fabric from yesterday even though its pretty mediocre. My biggest issue is that most of the dye washed out. I get so frustrated with myself because I know better. I know how to dye things and print with thickened dye. I know how much dye and how much soda ash to add and I know how long the dye will work once everything is added. Yet, I ignore all of those facts far too frequently. I suppose I'm a big fan of shooting myself in the foot. Is there a facebook page for that? Others who like "shooting yourself in the foot" also like "paddling upstream" and "digging your own grave".

fabric one, on the print table (pre wash-out)...

and post wash-out. 

fabric two on the print table...
and post wash-out.

Right. So they both just need a few more layers of printing and then maybe some embroidery. Blerg. The figs are pretty exciting though, right?

mama thinks so, too.

September 17, 2010

not myself today

All of the Apartment Therapy* excitement sort of wore me out. I had a very mediocre studio day today. This going to the studio only once a week business has got to stop. All of my creativity builds up all week and my head is full of ideas and then I get to the studio and panic.

Today I left my dye notebook at home and was too lazy to walk/drive the 4 blocks and get it. So my plans to make another paint chip quilt fell by the wayside. Instead I decided to practice some alternative screen printing processes for the workshop I'm teaching in a couple weeks. It was just...bleh. I didn't make anything mind-blowing. I did print about 5 yards of fabric that need a few more layers before they are something. I also dyed some backing fabric and binding fabric for a new skyscape quilt that is twin sized.

While I was working and feeling not too excited I heard a song that made me feel better. Here are the lyrics:
 Acony Bell by Gillian Welch:

The fairest bloom the mountain knows
Is not an iris or a wild rose
But the little flower of which I'll tell
Known as the brave acony bell

Just a simple flower so small and plain
With a pearly hue and a little known name
But the yellow birds sing when they see it bloom
For they know that spring is coming soon

Well it makes its home mid the rocks and the rills
Where the snows lie deep on the windy hills
And it tells the world Why should I wait
This ice and snow is gonna melt away.

And so I'll sing that yellow bird's song
For the troubled times will soon be gone.

*If you haven't voted for me yet, it's not too late! Go there now and vote. There are some other really great designs, too. I love Snuggles and the Cat Hammock. Support independent designers!

September 16, 2010

I'm on Apartment Therapy!!!

Oh my goodness, I almost choked on my toothpaste this morning when I read the email from AT that my submission for the Design Showcase was going to be posted! Just last night as I was falling asleep I thought: "It's okay if they don't choose me. There are a lot of good designers in the world and I'm just starting out. It made me get a little more organized and put myself out there and no bad will come of it."

Seriously, ya'll. Being on Apartment Therapy is exciting all by itself. I read that blog almost every day. But to be chosen to be in the Design Showcase is a huge honor. If you don't know what I'm talking about go check it out right now. And while you're there, vote for me! You have to register, but it's fast and free and then you can give me three stars...or, you know, however many you think I deserve.

And now, a juicy picture treat.
This is wax block printed fabric from the South American / African Grocery at River Market in KCMO. My new friend Lauren from Aunt June told us all about it at quilt guild and then I went out and bought some. Don't you want to lick it? I do. 

September 13, 2010

log cabin (on a lake) love

This summer I got to spend 3 1/2 glorious days at a charming little cabin on a lake in Minnesota. It was so quiet there and calm. At night it was so dark that it seemed like I could reach out and grab the stars. The lake was so clear that I could look down and see the fish looking back up at me. It was just the best.

So. Then I came back and started teaching. Not that I'm not totally thrilled to be teaching - I am. I love my job and my students and can't believe this is my life. But sometimes I close my eyes and try to smell the sunshine on the water and feel the quiet breeze.

When I'm old I want to retire to that cabin and make quilts entirely by hand. Here are three variations on the log cabin block that I just made out of scrap shibori fabric to spread the cabin on a lake love.

September 11, 2010

I did it!

After much encouragement from all of you, I finally submitted my work for the Design Showcase! There seemed to be the most interest in choice #4 from the last post. So I cheated a little and submitted #3 and #4 as one design. I guess that's not really cheating because they are the same idea, just different colors. Right? I'll let you all know if they choose me so you can go vote for my quilts.

I also decided that this would be a good opportunity to set up my new etsy shop. If you look over there to the right, you'll see a little preview of it. You can also see it at Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think. I plan on adding more quilts and more custom options, but it will take me a little time.

September 10, 2010

I need some help!

Hey all you blog readers out there! I need some advice. So far I have four quilts in my collection that I am very happy with (4 out of 8 isn't bad...) but could definitely use some feedback. Tell me which quilt or quilts you like best and why. Leave a comment. Don't be shy.

I'm trying to work up the courage to submit my work for Apartment Therapy's Design Showcase. I feel a little strange thinking of myself as a designer and stranger still considering entering something like this but it feels like the right thing to do (even if it is the scariest scary thing ever).The deadline is coming up really soon so please please give me feedback. I need to choose one of these to submit:

1. Paint Chip Quilt in Blue: 25 hand-dyed blocks gradating from bright blue to black, dark to light.  100% cotton, pieced and then quilted in radiating X formations.

2. Paint Chip Quilt in Orange: 25 hand-dyed blocks gradating from light yellow to dark red with all oranges in between. 100% cotton, pieced and then quilted in straight horizontal lines.
 3. Skyscape Quilt in Yellow and Purple. 23 hand-dyed strips gradating from dark purple to light yellow, then dark green to light green. 100% cotton, pieced, then quilted in horizontal straight lines.
4. Skyscape Quilt in Rust and Blue. 21 hand-dyed strips gradating from dark blue to light blue with rose in between and then from light blue to dark rust. 100% cotton, pieced, then quilted in horizontal straight lines.
Ok. Those are the quilts. Please let me know what you think and which one I should choose!!

September 8, 2010

Good News Bears

Yesterday I received some very exciting news. This summer I applied for a grant from the Kansas Art Commission that would fund my studio space and supplies to develop and make a whole line of bed quilts. And they chose me! They cho-cho-chose me! This news is so big and so exciting that I'm sort of in denial. I've only told my mom and Simon so far.  I also scooped up Owen cat and made her dance with me until she put her claws out and yelled (that took about 5 seconds).
That's Owen with Simon. Owen is a girl and she has a fat belly. 
She is also called Owey, O-face, Thriller, Fatty-Bear, Bun Head, and Bobbin.

As most of you know, I've already started developing the line of quilts. The sky/landscape quilts and the color block quilts are part of the series. But with this funding I can go crazy and make as many prototypes as I need and explore as many different colorways as I can think of. Now there really are no excuses...well, other than being busy with teaching.

Yay Yay Yay Yay! And now some pretty pictures of surface design samples:

stamps and low water immersion

direct application and shibori

direct application and crackle

August 12, 2010

Open Studio (friday the 13th)

The what: Open Studio and Quilt Exhibit
The where: Pressroom Studios and Kaw Valley Arts and Humanities
The other where: 750 Armstrong, Kansas City, KS
The when: Friday 8.13.10 5:00 - 8:00pm
The why: because you love quilts and you love me and you want to support the arts in KCK (and you love live music and free food)

 (this quilt is not new. but it is beautiful and will be on display and for sale tomorrow night)

Ok. So I failed in my mission to have 8 new quilts. Life got in the way a little. So did procrastination via Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I do have 6 totally finished brand new quilts and 2 that are nearly finished but still need the binding sewn on. What are you going to do? But really, there's way more than 6 new quilts to people who have never seen my work. Right?

August 11, 2010

the sky in july (and august)

I've posted before about how I'm trying to notice things more. It's a continuing battle but I'm making a consistent effort. Keeping my camera nearby at all (well, most) times is helping.
Something that I've been noticing and documenting this summer are the amazing skies in Kansas City. Our house is on top of a hill and there are no other houses close by -  at least by city standards. It gives me a great view of the sky in 360 degrees.
I've based two of my most recent quilts on our summer sky:
 (I love this one. It seems like little cherubs should be flying out of those blue spots)

 these two skies were the inspiration for:

full quilt / detail

and these two inspired:

full quilt / detail

Both quilts are completely hand dyed. The top one has 19 different colors and the bottom one has 23, if I'm remembering correctly. This is a series I'm excited to continue.