Friday, November 20, 2015

Catching Up

I'm back...I don't know why it's so hard for me to post to this blog on a regular basis, but I guess it's just part procrastination and part my feeling that I don't have a lot of interesting things to say.  In any case, I do owe you a few photos of quilts past and present.

First, I teased you about a commission I was working on a few months ago and I owe you pictures.  My niece was retiring from the Army this past May and I was asked to make a quilt commemorating her and her husband's service (he retired at the end of 2013).  They were both in a very special unit, called the Nightstalkers.  Michael was a Blackhawk pilot and Sandra served with the support team.  I'm not fluent in military speak, so if I've botched that, I apologize.  But, if you want to know more about the 160th, you should Google it.  Then, you'll know why I'm so proud of both of them and why this quilt had to be right.

I had in mind a wall-hanging/art quilt, but Sandra wanted something for their king-size bed.  Yikes!  I spent weeks worrying and thinking and, yes, procrastinating, trying to come up with a design.  She had sent me pictures of several quilts she liked, along with some of their patches and other items, but the one photo that I couldn't get out of my mind was a silhouette of a helicopter against a sunset sky with the ocean below.  I knew I had to have something like that somewhere in this quilt, but I was still struggling as to how to incorporate it.

 So, I did a smart thing.  I went to visit my friend, Linda, who also happens to be a terrific quilter, as well as the owner of a quilt shop.  Just showing her all the items and pictures and explaining a bit about who Michael and Sandra were and how special their service had been was the catalyst I needed to get my brain unstuck.

I showed Linda the picture of the helicopter against that sky and told her I had to make it part of the quilt.  She said something that just made everything else fall into place.  Her words were something to the effect that, no matter where I put it on the quilt, the helicopter/sky would be the focal point and what your eye would go to first.

It made so much sense.  This would be a giant art quilt.  The helicopter would be the center and the patches and other items would be secondary.  Linda also gave me an idea as to how to size this project.  I would make it so that the quilt covered from the bottom of the pillows to the edge of the mattress at the foot of the bed and it would hang over on the sides.  It ended up being 72" long by 108" wide.

I like the idea of using strips of fabric in varying widths, so the background was made of 1 1/2" (finished) strips of blues, aquas, oranges, yellows, and purples.  I decided to stabilize it with a layer of interfacing so the strips didn't end up being giant smiley-faces and would remain straight.  Then, I cut tons of strips and began laying it out in my studio floor.  That was the only place that would handle the width.  I put it together in sections the width of the interfacing.  I drew lines across the interfacing to help me keep the strips straight and I stitched the strips together and stitched them to the interfacing, one row at a time. 

It was a BIG job, but it worked out well.  I found a photo of a Blackhawk helicopter online and used that as my guide for the shape of the silhouette.  I couldn't use the original photo that had been my inspiration, as it was too small and indistinct.  But, I think I captured the feeling.

The hardest part was depicting the blades of the helicopter in motion, as they don't really show up in a photo.  I used black tulle and, with a lot of help from my husband, who designed tools for aircraft maintenance in his former life, I think I got the shape of the whirling blades.

Enough talking--here's the photos of the finished product.


It didn't have a name--another thing I'd thought long and hard about.  Usually, by the time I'm almost finished with a piece, the name has come to me, but not this time.   Then, I got another e-mail from Sandra and she included a photo of an item  given to Michael at his retirement.  It had a verse from the Bible that had the quote, "Here am I, send me".  It was perfect.  Our volunteer military doesn't question--they're ready to serve whenever and wherever needed. 

I got it finished and shipped in time for Sandra's retirement ceremony and I held my breath because they had not seen it until it was presented at the ceremony.  Sandra didn't want to know what it would look like and it was a total surprise for Michael, so I was a bit nervous about whether they would like it.

They did.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Travelling Time

For someone who stays pretty close to home, it has been a busy travel month.  The first of May, my husband and I drove to Lake City, SC for ArtFields 2015.  As you probably know, I went to the show last year with my daughter-in-law, Robin.  It was another great event.  We took an extra day this year so we were able to drive around the area and see more of the community of Lake City.  It's certainly bigger than I realized.

The art was amazing--so many talented artists and quite a variety of mediums.  I'm not sure I "got it" with some of the work, but it's always fun to see what's on other people's minds.  I'm just not sure I'd want to be stranded on a deserted island with some of them.  But, hey, if we all thought alike, wouldn't the world be a boring place.

I'll share a few photos from the show.  These are from some of our GA/SC Regional SAQA members.

Then, some random things that caught my eye.  This was pretty amazing.

The installations are always interesting.  The second one is made from parts of old VHS tape decks.  Can you say "re-purpose"?

The glass art was fascinating.

And, one I knew my grandson, Devin, would love.

Once again, my piece was hung in the library--a nice, safe place for it.

Also, lots of paintings, metal works, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Two weeks after ArtFields, I drove to Melbourne, FL with Kathy Ellis, a fellow SAQA member from the Atlanta area.  We went down for the Southeast Regional SAQA Conference.  It was a long drive, but having company made it a very pleasant trip.  We only got lost once when we missed the ramp from I-75 South to I-10 East.  It's really not very well marked and we breezed right by and didn't realize our error until we got to Lake City, FL.  Luckily, Kathy had her Iphone and she knows how to use it, so, not only did I have good company, but a great co-pilot and navigator.

The conference was an awesome experience.  It's very rare for me to be in the company of so many art quilters.  I met some tremendously talented artists and everyone was so willing to share their knowledge and experience.  Dr. Sandra Sider, who is the curator for the Texas Quilt Museum, was our keynote speaker and I also had the privilege of being in a critique session with her.  It was all very positive and I got some great feedback on my work.  I've already made changes to the piece and am much happier with it.  Oh, how I wish I had some fellow art quilters nearby to help pull me out of the ditch when I get stuck on a piece and I know there's something not quite right about it, but I've looked at it for too long and I can't see it anymore.  Another pair of knowledgeable eyes is invaluable.

There was an opening for the exhibit, "Southern Accents", at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts in conjunction with the conference.  This is located on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.  I had entered two art quilts for consideration and one of them was accepted.  This is the first time I've entered a SAQA exhibit and it was exciting to be counted among so many talented artists.  And--surprise, shock, and thrill--my quilt was chosen for the cover of the catalog for the show.

"Downtown", my part of the exhibit.


There was a gallery talk by Dr. Sider during the conference and it was extremely informative.  Not only did she talk about how the pieces were chosen for the exhibit (she was the juror), but she also talked about how the show had been hung and the decisions that went into the placement of each piece.  It was fascinating.  Now, if I ever do another solo exhibit, I'll know a lot more about how to put it together.

All in all, a busy and enjoyable month.  Especially so, considering what the past few months have been like.  Next week, I begin my "wonderful grandmother" summer, when I plan to entertain each of my 3 granddaughters for a week--one at a time, so I can remain the "wonderful" grandmother, not the referee of sisterly squabbles.  I'm looking forward to some quality one-on-one time with each of them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The "C" word.

I haven't posted anything in several months, but this time, I have a legitimate excuse, as opposed to those other times when I didn't post for a long time just because I'm not as disciplined as I should be.

Since my last post, I have had several new experiences.  They include, but are not limited to, an ultrasound, a CT scan, a colonoscopy, a diagnosis of a malignant mass, major surgery to remove the mass, then another surgery to insert a vascular catheter (port), a PET scan, and last, but certainly not least, chemotherapy.  I was sailing right along through that list until I ran into the brick wall called chemo.  I've always thought of myself as a pretty tough cookie, but I've definitely met my match.  I called it a day after 4 treatments (was supposed to do 12).  My last session was 2 weeks ago and I'm already feeling much better.  So, now I'm ready to get on with the rest of my life. 

I haven't accomplished a lot over the last months, but for the past few days I've been working hard to finish a commission that's due next month.  I will take photos when it's finished and show you what I've been working on for way too long.  Normally, I'd have finished the piece by now, but only having a few days a month when I felt like going down the stairs to my studio has made this a very long-term project.

My take-away from this experience is a real appreciation for simply feeling good and being able to enjoy such basic things as having food taste good and actually wanting to eat.  I'm sure I will eventually regress to that state of taking life for granted again, as we all do, but for now, I'm savoring every day.

While I've been laying about taking it easy, my quilts have been working hard.  "End of Day" was juried into ArtFields in Lake City, SC.  The show opens April 24th and runs through May 2nd.  There were over 1,000 entries and 400 were chosen, so it feels really special to be a part of the show for the second year.


"Downtown" will be included in the Southeast SAQA Exhibit, "Southern Accents", and will be displayed, along with art quilts from throughout the Southeast at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Florida Institute of Technology, in Melbourne, FL.  The exhibit opens on May 15th and runs through August 22nd.


And, in today's mail, I received the latest edition of the SAQA Journal, turned to page 22 and found "Cowgirls Just Wanna Have Fun", which I had submitted several months ago for their consideration.  The theme was "Joy/Happiness".  I know I was happy to see my work there. 

So, even though I've been otherwise engaged, my "children" have been out in the world getting some much appreciated recognition.  I'll try to keep up with this blog a bit better in the future.  Thanks for stopping by.