Friday, April 4, 2014

It's finished: The Water Boy

It's Finished

The Water Boy        36" X 38"

 I began working on this piece almost two years ago. Often my large pieces take a while to mature. I start with an idea, work, look, wait, work some more and, if all is going well I finish within a reasonable time. All did not go well with this piece.

If I run into a snag I might put the piece up for a while. Sometimes, that is a matter of weeks and sometimes it's months. This one took many months.

I decided to share my thoughts and photos of this piece as it progressed, from an idea, to the finished piece.

Our son, Michael and his family have always lived a good distance from us. When they come home for a visit, my camera and I work overtime. On one of those occasions, I took this photo. It really spoke to me. I've kept it in my files, waiting until I came up with just the right way to interpret the image. 

A few years ago I became interested in using Photo Shop Elements as a means to manipulate photos as inspiration for my work.  One of my favorite techniques is to blend or overlay photos that share something in common. A few of the pieces that I've used this technique in is, Spirit of the Kive and Ohm.

While the photo of Connor was cute the background held little appeal, so I used PSE 11, to dropout the background. One of my favorite tools to erase images in a photo, is found under Image in the upper tool bar. I click on image, and a drop down bar appears. Magic Extractor is at the bottom of the list.  I usually have to use the eraser to do a little clean up around the edges, but this technique works well for me.

Then I began looking, in my flower file, for a photo that I felt would be a good companion for Connor. I actually found three or four images that I liked, but after superimposing Connor's image over them, none really spoke to me. As I continued to search my photo files I cam across a photo of a quilt I made several years ago. The title of the quilt is Through My Window. This is actually an image of my great-room looking through a window.

While I'm not able to grown geraniums in my window boxes, not enough sun, I do grown flowers there each year. I adapted a fabric origami pattern to to fit my rendition of geraniums and filled the pots.

My poor husband ends up watering these boxes all Summer. Even though it's only in a piece of art, I decided to give him a water boy, to do that for him.

After I was satisfied with the manipulated images. I sent a copy to Spoonflower. to have it printed on fabric. I had had 5 " samples made, with this image, on different fabrics and chose the cotton-linen. I felt it gave a truer color.

This was by far the largest piece I had ever thread painting. I knew I wanted to thread paint Connor very closely. My plan then was to quilt the rest of the piece, just not as densely. I often start a project not knowing what I'm doing. It often gets me in trouble as it did here. This is the time to stop, think, look, plan, read, and mull it over.

Notice the puckering near the dark blue at the pocket. It's quite heavy, though hard to see here. My choices, as I saw them, were (1) to plunge ahead and hope that after the thread painting was finished, I could make corrections in the background. or (2) decide now, that I would cut Connor off and threat it as two separate pieces. I chose two. It actually became easier, to thread paint, as I had less material to guide through the machine. I decided to send the image of Through my Window to Spoonflower to have it printed separately. This would solve my problems, or at least I hoped so.

 If you have ever thread painted, you know that distortion is inevitable. You can get a bulge or volcano as it is sometimes called in quilting. This happened to the water can. Thanks goodness for artist like Carol Shinn. She wrote Freestyle Machine Embroidery, and that book has saved my butt several time in this process. She recommends cutting through the thread painting, yes it is heart stopping, overlapping the image and trim out the overlap. You can then place a piece of fabric on the back and thread paint over the trimmed image.

The repaired image. Can you see where I cut? I bet not.  Okay I'm on my way to the finish.

Last year my friend and fellow fiber artist, Gail Sexton and I collaborated on Spirit of the Kiva. Gail is a wonderful machine quilter. I asked her if she would once again collaborate with me on this piece. She finished the quilting, beautifully, I might add, several weeks ago.

I have since been facing the background and attaching the thread painting. This was also no little matter in it's self.  The thread painting had to have the backing fabric attached.  Woe, enough already. I think you get the idea. It's finished and I'm happy, happy, happy.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Busy Week

Before I get into describing my week, I want to toot my horn a little. "Spirit of the Kiva" won a third place at the Smokey mountain Quilt Fest in Pigeon Forge, TN this past week. Totally stoked.

The past three weeks have been very busy in my studio. I have lots to share but I'm traveling this week, so details will have to wait until I have more time. I want to get the photos and words organized in my mind first.

I've made several sample for upcoming workshops. One of these is way out of my comfort zone, but I'm excited about how it turned out. I am also putting the finishing touches on two major pieces, hope to have at least one of those ready to show next week.

I am on my way to the Mancuso Show in Savannah, GA. The SC/GA, Region of SAQA exhibit, "Southern Exposure" is having it's premiere showing this weekend.
I am also delivering a car full of my quilts to a representative of The Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum. They are headed to Carrollton GA for my solo exhibit titled, Wall Art; a Retrospective. Lots happening in my life right now. Lots more to come.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014


I don't usually post about my family life but I am going to make an exception today.

Memories 31" X 27"
Fifty four years ago on March 20, 1960 my husband Kermit and I were married. We were just kids but it was not uncommon in the South, at that time, to be married young.

Kermit went to college while I worked and during his junior year our first daughter, Lisa was born. At times we literally did not have two cents two rub together. However, we were happy, worked hard and still had time for fun. Kermit earned his degree in engineering. We moved to Pennsylvania when he accepted a job with Talon Zipper Co.

Three more children, moves to NC, back to PA and then a job change. Moves to SC, Alabama twice, France twice, Nova Scotia and back to SC. Four successful children, four wedding, six grandchildren.

The back of Memories

We've had ups and downs but worked them out. I could not have asked for a better man, husband, father to my children, friend and help-mate than the one I have spent the last fifty-four years with.

These past few weeks have been very busy ones for me. I have an exhibit coming up next month. I also have a teaching job in MD during the same time. Both, while trying to finish two major art projects. Kermit has been my rock my support, my fix-it man, my computer support, and as he likes to call himself, my beast of burden. For that and all the other things he has given for the past fifty-four years I am thankful. Life is good!

I made a little piece of fiber art commemorating our years together. I chose a photo of us as the young couple the year we were married. A photo of us the year we celebrates Fifty years and a photo of our family during a camping trip in Cooks Forrest, our favorite place to camp. Each grouping gets smaller and lighter as it recedes into the past. This signifies that some memories may fade but the most important ones stays with us a lifetime.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

A Sneak Preview

I've been very busy in the studio this week working on three different project. One of these projects has been preparing notes for a class that I have coming up later this year. Necessary but not satisfying work. One of the projects is a thread painting that I'm struggling with, a section of that is show below. 

The other is finishing up the background for a thread painting I've been working, off and on, for quite some time.

Gail Sexton and I are collaborating on this piece. This is the second piece that we have worked on together. Gail is a fabulous quilter and my pieces are so much better with her as my partner. I am finishing up the image with beads and then adding the facing. The real challenge comes when adding the thread painting of my grandson. Hopefully that will happen this week and I will publish the finished project. Lots happening here come back soon.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm Back in my Studio

I'm back in my studio after spending a month in CA. We had a wonderful time, great weather, fun soccer games, visiting with our CA kids, fresh fruit and veggies, having time to take a few knitting lessons. What's not to like about Southern CA?

I guess the worse part was not having my studio there. So it felt really good today to get back to work.

I was working on the piece above before we left and had done some quilting on the petals. It was good to have something I could pick up today and start working on. I finished quilting the petals today but the hardest part is next. I always hit a block when it comes to the background design. Hopefully I won't let that happen this time. Perhaps I'll dream about some wonderful design tonight. Wouldn't that be nice?

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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Many Colors of. Balboa Park

It's always inspirational to visit a location that is not your own. I've been to Balboa Park many times and one of the first places we always visit is The Spanish Art Village. We have friends visiting and I knew my friend would enjoy just strolling the park.  I love to look around at the art work and talk to the artist but the thing that keeps me coming back is the color.

- You might get the idea that I also like doors, windows and flowers.

I've loved the time we have spent in CA this Winter and an hoping that all this beauty will inspire a piece or two of artwork.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sample for workshop

I am still on vacation but I brought a few things with me to work on should I have the time. This week I pulled out my fabric and pattern and set to work to make a sample for my Mini Fabricating Class that I will be teaching at the NCQS in May and The Blue Ridge Quilt Festival in July.

One of the patterns that will be available for my students is titled "Mates". I brought four different background fabrics with me that I felt had potential. The birds aren't finished and there will be berries added to the branches as well as snow. However, I wanted to show how a piece changed with the background.

My friend Bonnie Ouellette is dying fabric for me and making kits to go with the pattern for this class. This is the background that will come with the kit and it works quite well. One of the subjects that I cover extensively in my longer Fabricating Nature class is the best selection for your background.

By placing the birds and branch on four different backgrounds you achieve a very different look with each background.

All four of these piece work quite well, that is a phenomena that doesn't alway happen. I think this is happening in this case because it is a scene and each background offers the viewer almost a different composition. Often when we are creating a flower that is not the case. The background must play much less prominence but still present big Wow power and compliment the flower as in the piece below.

I posted the four photos of "Mates" on my Facebook page  this week and received a lot of comments. While I will be using #2 for the kits I hope to demonstrate the importance of a well selected background. If you have any preference let me know.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Mini Mini SAQA Meeting

The Internet is a wonderful thing. Without it I would not have met many of my fiber art connections. My husband and I are spending this month in Encinitas CA. Our daughter, Lisa is visiting this week.

A while ago I saw a post about Paula Chung's art work using MRI images as her inspiration.You can see Paula's work here,  Paula and Karen Rips use the same image as their guideline with Paula going representational while Karen's work is abstract. you can see Karen's work here  I knew Lisa, who is a MRI tech, would be interested is seeing their art work so I sent her a link. Lisa in turn sent Paula an email telling her how much she enjoyed her work. One thing lead to another and Lisa is now supplying Paula with some interesting MRI images. When Lisa told Paula that she was coming out here Paula proposed that we should get together. That happened this week.

Paula on the left, Lisa in center and Judy Rys on the right.  You can see Judy"s work here Where does Judy fit in you might ask? I met Judy at the SAQA booth in Houston this past Nov. We chatted a little and continued to email occasionally. Judy and I also talked of connecting during our visit to CA. Well it happens that Judy knows Karen, who by the way had an accident and couldn't make the trip, so Judy and Paula got together and come to Encinitas. The art work on the table is Judy's. Judy incorporated photos, embellished fabric and commercial fabric in this piece she shared with us.

It's difficult to see the intricate work on the table. Paula has drawn out an MRI of the head and is thread painting using four different threads.

This piece shows up a bit better. This is a whole body image. You can see the spine here. Paula draws the very intricate image on Solve and then uses four different colors of thread to paint the image.

A close up of the whole body image.

Another close up of the base if the head.

It was extremely interesting to meet with these two artist and share information, to ask questions and have ideas thrown around. I felt that I had know both of them forever and could have spend many more hours,if not days, just talking about our art and the process. This meeting would not have taken place without the internet nor my daughters interest in art. So I thank both the inventors of the internet and my daughter for a pleasurable Mini Mini
SAQA meeting.
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Friday, February 7, 2014


I haven't gotten a lot of creating done this week, at least, in finished product. However the beauty that surrounds me is both inspiring and restful.

This is the sunrise view from our condo. It's hard not to bask in the beauty of the world in which we are privileged to live. This beauty is often what my art work is about.

I've been walking every day with my camera as my companion.

It's hard for me to pass this beauty without thinking of my art work. Not long ago I had become a little burnt out on creating my large flower pieces. I felt that I needed to move along to develop something new for my vision. I have done so and am happy with my new creations but, I am still feeling the need to create the beauty that surrounds me.

So I've decided that I will continue working with "Fabricating Nature" and it's beauty while I work to develop new techniques. My passion will always be the beauty of our

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's been A Cold Week

I've been hunkered down in my studio this week. When the weather is so cold and we have snow I usually get lots done. That's been the case this week, I just don't have anything to show for it.

I an going to teach at the NCQS, North Carolina Quilt Symposium in May and the BRQF, Blue Ridge Quilt Festival in VA in July so I am making new samples and creating patterns.

I spent the week putting together patterns, fabrics and supplies to take with me on a month long trip to CA. I also plan on creating instructions for these classes and working on updating my web site.

However the most important supplies are ones that I have put together to spend time creating with my granddaughter. She's ten and loves to sew and create and I love to be her teacher. I have been looking Into knitting lessons for her, my DIL and myself. I've taught them how to do the basics but I'm not a seasoned knitter and I think all of us could use some help. I have a project that I want to do but it's over my head and I think they would benefit from someone who really knows knitting.

Is a month enough time to get this all done? Stay tuned.

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