Wednesday, January 31, 2007

KokoJazzMan DONE!

This is the finished KokoJazzMan piece. The acrylic paint reflects the flash but the man is solid black. I have had more fun working with Stephen (the artist who painted the picture) and stretched myself a bit with techniques. It will get packed up, along with some Textile Medium (hint, hint) and shipped off in the next day or so. This one will be hard to let of go of and I rarely ever feel that way about a quilt. Usually I'm happy when they're out the door and someone else has to worry about finding a place to put them.
Acrylic on muslin, cotton hand-dyes, commercial piping, commercial print. 28x30.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Forms, photo and check going out tonight for the GSQA show in Baton Rouge, and this is one I'm proud to send.

Ebony and Ivory Blues
Commercial cottons, fiberglass window screen, 'liquid gold' poly fabric, computer printed cotton, beads.

Each element of the quilt is made and quilted separately then assembled. Satin stitch edging on each piece. Free-motion and detail quilting on felt batting.

Monday, January 29, 2007

and more progress......

This is the hand with the screen cut away to show the fabric. It looks SO totally cool in person too. And that's even before I got it cut from the felt and the edges finished.

The next pic is the elements of the whole thing (with the exception of one more blue triangle) sort of laid out in the final design. Some minor adjustments in placement to maintain the top edge so it can be hung and some structural stuff so it doesn't buckle in the middle. Maybe a little moving them around for the hands too, and the final decision on if I want the wrists to stop in the middle of the brown fabric or trim the whole bottom edge even with the wrists.


I'm on the hands (Finally! Considering the forms and photos have to be received by Feb 1) and have made some progress, once I got through changing my mind about how I wanted to do them. It started out as simply printed on fabric, then went to some thread painting and now I've decided to use the fiberglass window screening. I started by re-sizing the drawing to life size, then printing it on the fabric. I then layered it with the screening on top and a piece of felt on the bottom. I have the outline stitched and then I'll stitch some of the details and cut away the screening. The whole little quiltlet will be hand-shaped once I cut it out around the outline, and the edges will be satin stitch finished and the entire thing will be added to the larger quilt.

A note about the hand drawings. My friend Stephen in Illinois drew these for me at my request specifically for this piece. He's also the one who painted the KokoJazzMan picture. Not only is he a great artist, he's also a musician and just an all-around nice guy.

Monday motivations

  • Get the binding and sleeve on the KokoJazzMan and get it shipped.
  • Finish the hands and add a sleeve to the abstract keyboard piece for submission to the GSQA show.
  • Do the bird mobile quilt (quilt mobile?) to get them out of my head and into fabric.
  • Off to my friend's house tomorrow for more visiting and critiquing.
  • Double-check "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" for loose threads/beads before submitting it to GSQA.
  • Two altered books for gifts to finish by Thursday.
  • Labels for everything. Labels are my downfall and half the stuff that goes out of here doesn't have one.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fast Friday January challenge

Justa Cuppa
The challenge this month was to do a "cropped still life" and use the element of form to give the piece dimension. I've been wanting to do a framed piece and when I saw the challenge and instantly had an idea of what to do, it seemed the perfect fit for the two ideas. I wanted to use a piece of batik-y looking stuff for the shadows and the coffee cup and saucer but it would have to be fussy cut to get the shadings like I envisioned them, so I was obviously limited in the overall size of it doing it that way. I was also determined to revisit the fabric collage technique, which I L*O*V*E and haven't done anything with in a while. The fates conspired to make all of that work out so I could do my challenge, use the fabric I wanted, play with a collage AND make a framed piece. I am very happy with the way it turned out. I've posted it to the challenge blog so we'll see what the REAL artists have to say about it soon enough. Or even worse, it might not get any comments.
The quilt itself is 5.5x8 and the green backing (not part of the quilt) and the frame are 8.5x11. Fabric collage using 25+ individual pieces of fabric, a layer of purple tulle, and outline quilting around the cup and saucer. The little quiltlet is stitched directly onto the fabric covered cardboard backing and then inserted into the frame with no glass.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Let's try that again

This time, I'll post the steps as I go on one. I've been wanting to experiment with melted poly sheers for a while, but had neither the sheers nor a heat gun. Thanks to my dear friend Vicki in Miami, and the $1 table at WalMart, I now have both. I began by layering the sheers in a not-planned-ahead design.

I stitched them down with black thread on a cotton background. After the first few rows of stitching, I added the black felt batting for stability with the sheers. I started by stitching down the outline of each piece, then doing some quilting lines, again with black, over the different pieces, keeping in mind that anything without stitching in it had the potential to melt away to nothing. I didn't do any specific patterns with the stitching, just random and relatively close together.

I also layered different colors and fabrics over each other to see how the under layers came through. I also added some fine lace that doesn't melt. I debated doing everything and then melting it, but finally decided to melt this much of it and add more. I knew I needed some dark at the top. I had the best time playing with the melting part! And no "art incidents" from the fumes this time. The last piece I added is 4 layers of the red over a layer of the lace. I wanted more depth of color than I was getting from one layer and I wanted the lace to peek out of the holes. I love the way it looks right now, but it will most likely get some beading and embellishments on it. And I'll definitely have to get some close-up shots of the detail once I'm done. Very cool effect, and worth the wait for playing with it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

So much for that bright idea

I had intended to do a step-by-step with this one, honest I did. But once I got the initial border on and thought through colors, my entire plan changed. Why can't I EVER just do what I originally plan to do? I took the border off and used black piping between each border instead. I am WAY MUCH happier with this than I was the original too, and the owner loves it (his words, not mine!) and he claimed to be speechless. At any rate, I'm happy with it.

All that's left is the quilting and binding and sleeve and label. And then he's going to paint me another picture to keep for myself. Collaborations are more fun than challenges, and you all know I love a good challenge!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

KokoJazzMan - step by step

A friend in IL has painted a picture that I'm turning into a quilt. I'm going to try to show each step as I put it together. The first step is the initial border, which is black satin and will ultimately be only a half inch wide. I'm auditioning greens, purples, deep golden yellows and reds for additional borders. I have no definite idea of exactly what I'm going to do, but I have some ideas to try. I'm also going to take the plunge and do an applique border on at least 2 sides. The picture itself is 14.5 x 17.

"Big Eyed Fish"

So here is the finished quilt for the Draw Down. Total size is 62x76. Not a standard size but it works for me anyway. Cotton background fabrics and backing, appliqued fish and raw edge seaweed. The eyes are 2 buttons. A horizontal wavy quilting pattern in the center tie-dyed area and a vertical seaweed-y quilting pattern in the darker border. I pulled out all my cool variegated Mettler and King Tut to use on this one. They are a dream to work with and give more of an effect than you expect them to just looking at it on the spool. All free-motion quilting with some small detail quilting on the rocks and leaves at the bottom. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE free-motion? And my new discovery for getting the sandwich flat and stable makes it that much better since I don't get the pleats and tucks in the back and I can work on a smaller section at the time without worrying about messing it up by leaving it in the machine for a day or two, and it seems to wash better.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Long week

It's been a very long week. A man I've known for almost 30 years died suddenly of a heart attack at 51. I've gotten calls from people I haven't heard from in ages, and I think they were just touching base with others who were close to him. It's hard to reconcile his energy and humor and drive with his death. My mind continues to wander back through all the memories of him over the years and it's a good sign that I find myself laughing at some of the memories. J.D. would like that. Laughter was very important to him.
The brother of another friend was killed in a plane crash last week too. I knew him slightly, but I've known his sister for 15 years at least and worked closely with her at the church for many of those years. Again, memories intrude to the point of distraction. I'd like to be able to say it's a function of my age to be losing people. That it's just a natural progression and to be expected, but that brings me to the third death of the week.
My son's fraternity big brother committed suicide this past Sunday. He hanged himself in his room at the frat house. Both the college and the national office of the fraternity seem to be doing an outstanding job of providing support and counseling for the fraternity members, and my son has been relying on his church a good bit too. I can't imagine what Austin's parents are going through, losing a child so young to suicide. It's hard enough dealing with my own. I'm so scared I won't have the right words for him when he calls, and the best I can hope for is to not make things worse.
Some weeks are worse than others for trying to be a mother.

More boys than girls commit suicide.
Suicide is the second most common cause of death for college students. (Car wrecks are first.)
Cluster suicides are common at schools.

None of this is reassuring to the mother of a 20 year old boy off at college.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Monday motivation update

The fish are quilted. I still have to quilt the background and border and get it bound. A new basting method I tried and I LIKE it. I pin basted around each fish and then ironed the stuffing out of it. It stays perfectly flat as I'm quilting and the stitches seem to be a bit flatter too. I've always ironed the binding to within an inch of its life at each step, but never the body of the quilt. The batting doesn't stay flat. It eventually puffs back up in a couple of days but it's a dream to quilt on while it's still flat. And no pleats on the back!
Joyce, you asked how I was quilting it. Fairly close quilting in the fish, going with the shapes of the applique with invisible thread. For the batik in the center it will be a King Tut blue/green variegated in a loose horizontal wave, and tighter quilting (McTavishing? Stipple?) with matching thread in the bright blue border. Maybe something vertical for the seaweed.

The package from my friend arrived yesterday and the picture and hand sketches are even better than I expected. I'm forcing myself to hold off on those until I get the fish quilt out of the way though. Another day or so. Of course, I fell asleep with designs swirling through my head for the Kokojazzman too. My original ideas from seeing in-progress pictures of him painting it are pretty much out the window now. Once I got the real deal hanging on my wall the ideas started flowing. The first idea just won't go away now so I think I'll have to start with that as a base and build on it from there. Maybe I can get some pics up of it as soon as I talk to him. I don't know if he wants to follow along as I work on it or if he just wants to see the finished quilt.

I managed to find a backing for the rudbeckia quilt I did ages ago. I started quilting around the blooms using a brown backing but I was never happy with it so I set it aside. I have one now that I'm happy with (who could NOT be happy with 6 yards of batik?) so I'm going to trim away the brown backing and use this one. And in the meantime, I also decided to add borders on 2 sides. I think it needs the definition. No progress other than that on getting stuff together for the quilt show. This may not be my year to have any shown.

No laundry or dishes done, but I did vacuum up the dog hair on the living room rug so I could baste the fish.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday motivations

It seems like a good idea to write down stuff I want to tackle (fiber-related stuff anyway...nobody wants to hear about me doing laundry or loading the dishwasher) during the week. Maybe if I see it written down it will make me do more of it in a more organized way. Or not. Time will tell. I did manage to do the entire month of NaBloPoMo though so there's hope for me yet.

  • Get the fish quilt finished and delivered to the school for the Draw Down
  • The kokojazzman collaboration piece and the hands my friend drew for the abstract music piece were shipped yesterday so I'll get on those as soon as they arrive.
  • Go through finished and half-finished pieces and decide which ones (if any) to submit to the GSQA quilt show by Feb 1.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I gotta get some sleep.

Or not. This is the result of waking up at 3:00 am and being bored.

I know! I'll just make a king size bed quilt! I'm sure I'll be able to think of something to do with it once it's finished.

Speaking of finished, just the quilting and button eyes left to do on it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm on a roll today

I finally got a picture of the quilt I gave my son for Christmas. I made a matching stocking for him and he really seemed to like both. The quilt hangs above his bed in the apartment because the living and dining room walls are covered with stolen beer banners.
The photo sucks but I was pleased with the quilt.

This is a test, this is only a test

I'm posting these pics of a WIP to get a better idea of the next thing to do to it. The first pic is the actual quilt as it stands right now. The second pic has another musical note added, but I'm not sure I like it. If I do use it, I think it needs something more in the "hole" created between the staff and the note. Any ideas? It will ultimately have 2 hands on the keyboard that will be done in thread painting and, like all the other pieces parts, will be separate little quiltlets. As it is right now, the quilt will hang flat and balance with a ring at the top of the staff and a sleeve across the blue piece above the trumpet. I can't believe I got that to work out right!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I just don't get it

//rant mode ON
On the Today show this morning they showed the winner of the $100,000 quilting challenge and now the quilt art list is full of posts by women who are aghast (AGHAST, I tell you!) at the fact that Al Roker had the absolute balls to TOUCH the quilt! How dare he! What was he thinking! And they shot the segment OUTSIDE! IN THE ACTUAL SUNLIGHT!!!! The fact that it was a white-on-white whole cloth quilt and was exposed for a short period of time apparently escaped them. And the fact that quilts were originally MADE to be touched. And the fact that it's a cotton quilt with no doodads. And the fact that Al probably washed his hands at some point this morning. And the fact that it's a quilt, people! We wash them. We sleep under them. We fold them up. We toss them in the trunk. We even (GASP) throw them down on the ground and eat on them! I have a ratty ass quilt on my bed that's at least 50 years old and has had NO special handling. I don't doubt that the eventual owner of the winning quilt will display it lovingly and take care with it, but why in the world are these women sending emails berating the Today show for handling a quilt exactly the same way they were originally intended to be handled? If it isn't meant to be tactile, paint it on wood. If you make it out of fabric and then add texture to it with the quilting and put the batting in to make it soft why in the HELL would you NOT want people to touch it? Comparing it to a "work of art" and Picassos at the MoMA and telling them what idiots they are for displaying it to the public does nothing but make quilters come off looking like a bunch of elitist old ladies who probably use antimacassars on their sofas/couches/davenports/divans and use plastic runners on their carpets too. If it's so delicate it can't withstand being shown on national television she needs to use a better quality fabric. Besides that, comparing handling a quilt to handling a painting makes no more sense than comparing handling a painting to handling a sculpture. Different media require different handling.

Get off your high horses and admit that this may be a beautiful, breathtaking quilt, but I simply don't see it as a work of art on the same level as a Monet.

And don't even get me started on the women who obsess over the 100-year archival quality of fabrics and materials. I want ALL the love and softness and use in my quilts used up by the time their 100 year birthday rolls around.
//rant mode OFF

We're defeating one of the defining elements of quilting if we take away the comforting, tactile aspect of it. If we lose (or drive people away from) the warmandfuzzies of quilts, we're creating something different and just calling it a quilt. I, for one, would hate to see that happen.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

IFA group homework

Our fiber group meets every 3 months in Hattiesburg and we usually have "homework" to do. This meeting, we're supposed to bring a piece we did using a photo. I'm sure they're thinking along the lines of landscapes or something, but I have been wanting to do one of these for ages and this seemed like a good excuse. I played around with it a lot in my graphics program but never did get exactly what I wanted, so I took the easy way out and ran it through the Warholizer at
What looks like blue is actually a very deep purple, and the lightest color is a bright lime yellow green. I have GOT to get a black background so my colors come out looking more true than they do against the red wall.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

As promised.

I'm through piecing the top and ready to quilt it. I'm going to pillow case the backing with a 1" strip of the purple (raw edge) around the outside. Then wash it about 10 times. This one is about 48"x60", which I think is a good size for a throw. The top is flat because it's one of my pet peeves to have 'dangly bits' on the top edge to tickle my face, be they fringe, irregular edge, whatever. I have yards of a gorgeous black batik with spots of color that will work well for the backing and it's wide enough I won't have to piece it. The purple will look good with it too. I have to wait for the rain to stop to do any more work on it though since spray basting inside guarantees an asthma attack, even with the doors and windows open. By the way, the terra cotta color is my dining room wall. The edges of the quilt actually stop of the points.
I finally decided on the deep purple for the lattice too.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm on a roll!

I woke up this morning with this "design" already full-blown in my head. I say "design" because there's nothing original about squares on squares on squares, set on point, even if they are wonky. The one thing I'm going to do that I've never seen before is sew a 1/2" strip in each seam as I piece the blocks together so that a 1/4" free edge shows sort of like lattice work across the top. I don't want to make the edges of the blocks with the seams facing out but I do want the raw edge. The batik quilt I made for my mother with the raw edges came out great after a couple of washings and I liked the effect, so I wanted more raw edge on this one, but not on the rust dyed fabric. The solution to me seemed easy enough by adding my own raw edges and a little color at the same time. This thing is going so fast I may have another picture to post by tomorrow since I know my explanation of what I'm doing is pretty dismal.
And yes, you recognize the fabrics from the one I'm making for myself. Scraps of scraps. Pretty cool way to use fabrics that I absolutely LOVE.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Wishes for the coming year

I could say "Happy New Year" but that's just been done to death. My wish for each of you is creativity, contentment and satisfaction this year. I think if you have those three things, everything else just falls into place for you. Create! It keeps you young and curious and interested. Explore all of those techniques and materials and ideas that you have in the back of your mind for "some day." See where your talents and abilities can take you this year that you've not been before. Never close off that part of yourself.

Contentment with what you have doesn't mean you don't strive for more. It just means that if you don't achieve more you are still happy with what you have. I would love to be a better housekeeper, and I'm working on that, but if I never improve I'll still be content knowing I can find things when I need them and that it's just messy, not dirty. And I'll be content knowing my family and friends don't judge me by my house. (Damn good thing, too!)

Satisfaction is the tricky one for me. It's just the ability to not second guess yourself or push yourself to the point of unhappiness. If you drive yourself to the point of perfection in everything, you will never be satisfied with anything. Perfection is never achieved and if you are not satisfied with anything less, you will never be satisfied. I'm NOT saying to lower your standards, I'm simply saying make them reasonable and find that point where you are satisfied with your efforts. If you are never satisfied with anything, you can never be truly happy.

We had a wonderful anniversary dinner last night. My one night a year for lobster and it was worth it. My brother and his new wife dropped off a gift of champagne glasses, a mini bottle of champagne and a HUGE fireworks thing. We drank the champagne out of the glasses and made rude jokes about the fireworks looking (and's called a "Lavender Ring") like a sex toy. Two friends of my oldest daughter drove down from Starkville and they did the 20-something stuff downtown. My son was in New Orleans with his girlfriend and a bunch of others for the gumbo pot drop in the Quarter and my youngest was at a party at someone's home. No late night calls from the cops or hospitals and no requests for bail money or auto insurance information, so I'm happy.