Maria and the Finch

 Maria and the Finch, 40x40

Maria and the Finch, 40x40

The past few weeks have been super busy getting this quilt ready to show last Saturday at our guild quilt show.  If you were following my Instagram feed I was noting the amount of time it took for the machine quilting.  It turned out to be about 20 hours just for that, plus another 5 hours to do the facing, sleeve and label.  Not to mention countless hours I spent designing and creating the fusible pieces.  You could also count the hours spent making the four smaller faces which gave me the confidence to start this quilt.  All in all, I'm only counting hours so I can have an honest answer when the inevitable question comes up.  I don't do that for every quilt I make and I know there are some quilts I've sold for a pittance compared to the amount of hours that went into them.  Luckily, I don't think I'll ever sell this one.

Maria and the Finch is 40x40 inches which was the size my book club determined for every quilt in this exhibit. A consistent size helped make this a very cohesive exhibit which you'll see in a future post.  

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My first task for getting on with this quilt about a month ago was to make the marten face.  I based this image on the book cover.  You can see the cover in the last photo of this post.  I wanted to make it look like Martin was hiding in the flowers and originally intended to put a lot more flowers in the mix. As I was adding flowers I changed my mind and made it a bit more simple.  

Once all the pieces were fused down I pinned it and got out a bunch of threads to get ready for quilting.  I ended up adding more colors of thread.  This free motion quilting included lots of thread changes which is one reason it took so long.  In addition, I prefer to bury my thread ends and I like to do that as I go which makes things a little slower.

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I started with the all important face.  First I got out my previous face samples to study for a bit. It had been a while since I did them and I wanted to get a feel for the process again.  Then I just dived in!  It's not perfect, but do you know a face that is?

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I love looking it at on the reverse too.  In order to keep from having the fabric bunch up I worked my way from the face out to the edges.  I did the shirt next, then the flowers and the marten before heading up into the sky.

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The bird got it's quilting, but the legs didn't get done until later.  They are just heavily free motion stitched lines.

I attempted some fur texture on the marten's face and body.

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Doing a person's skin is a particular challenge.  I've gotten used to doing the faces, but when it came to the arms I wasn't sure what to do and ended up with these lines.  The rest of the quilt is pretty densely quilted, so I wanted to keep the amount of quilting similar throughout.

As with my other face quilts, I don't do any stitching at all until the applique is fused and the quilt is layered with batting and backing.  Therefore, the stitching I do to hold the fused pieces down is also the quilting.  I also add stitching to every single piece.  I just prefer it that way and I don't trust the fusible stuff to keep it all together over time.

Below you'll find my label which I create in Microsoft Word and print onto printable fabric.  I hope you'll consider reading Martin Marten yourself. It's a wonderful book and the quilts our group made are really fantastic.  More on that in the next post!

Out of the Closet

 Inspired by Paul Klee

Inspired by Paul Klee

March was a busy month in the studio.  I made a goal to complete a bunch of UFOs that had been taking up space in the closet and I managed to get through 6 of them before having to move on to other projects.  The first one was an old project from a Rosalie Dace class 5 years ago.  This was a 5 day workshop where we were inspired by the artwork of Paul Klee.  This piece was a real favorite of mine until I started machine quilting it.  I made the mistake of doing that very heavy quilting in the circle and despite trying everything I could think of to flatten it out, I was never able to.  I started hand quilting the radiating lines, then added machine quilting between.  I also blocked it like crazy and nothing worked.  You can see that I didn't complete the hand quilting on the left side.  In the March madness of UFO completion I decided to do the binding and leave it as is.  It's wonderfully soft and I still love the design.  I'm not sure it will see the light of day, but it's now complete.

The second UFO finish is another one inspired by Paul Klee (Little Painting of Fir Trees).  This was also from the same workshop with Rosalie Dace.  In this case, the top was done except for some organza overlays that I had intended to hand stitch over the top.  It was that part that kept me from finishing it, so in the end I just quilted it as is.  I think this is more my style and I really like how it came out!

 Inspired by Paul Klee's Little Painting of Fir Trees

Inspired by Paul Klee's Little Painting of Fir Trees

 Studio dog Scrabble

Studio dog Scrabble

Quilt number 3 was this Starry Owl quilt.  The blocks were mostly done and I just needed to combine them in to this small community quilt that was donated to the guild.  

 Starry Owls

Starry Owls

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Quilt number 4 is called Autumn Baskets and it's a wall hanging.  These blocks were started several years ago when I taught liberated basket classes.  All the blocks were finished except for one.  I had to frame the blocks and put them together.  

 Autumn Baskets

Autumn Baskets

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The fifth quilt is another owl quilt and will also be donated to community quilts.  This one required more work as I had only the smaller squares that you see above.  I added strips to make each block 9.5 inches square.  This is a favorite size for charity quilts because I have a 9.5 inch square ruler, so cutting to size is super simple.

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When I'm making a charity quilt I like to keep things simple and having blocks of consistent size help with that.  I know that most people work with consistently sized blocks on a regular basis, but when you are a liberated/improv quilter you are often working with various sized blocks which is fun to do, but requires more time to puzzle together.  On this quilt I also used many of my most vibrant, rainbow colored hand dyed fabrics. I think these are beautiful, but I almost never use them in my regular work, so I was happy to use them on this bright and cheerful quilt.  I hope it brings some cheer to a child in my community.

 back of the owl squares quilt

back of the owl squares quilt

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 My Happy Stars

My Happy Stars

The last quilt for this March madness UFO series is called My Happy Stars.  It was made from some star blocks that were already finished. I also had some colorful curvy shapes made with wedge shaped pieces.  I ended up cutting those down to rectangles to frame the stars.  I really like how this came out and when I showed it on Instagram lots of other people liked it too.  In fact, one person asked about purchasing it and I was happy to take her up on it.  She even got naming rights!  I hope she likes it for many years to come.  

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Novel Idea Quilts 2011 to 2018

 2011 Imagine ( Kapitoil  by Teddy Wayne)

2011 Imagine (Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne)

Every now and then I get a really good idea when I'm in the hot tub late at night.  Sometimes the ideas are really quite harebrained, but I do a lot of thinking in there.  Last night I got the idea to do a Novel Idea quilt post so I hope you think this is a good idea too!  Each quilt is labeled with the title of the quilt and the title and author of the book.

I've included all the Novel Idea quilts I've made over the past 8 years and a couple of extras.  Imagine (above) was the first.  It is completely hand stitched using cloth weaving and embroidery techniques learned from Jude Hill. 

The Novel Idea program with the Deschutes Public Library is a community read program.  The book is usually announced in December and we have about 4 months to read the book (less if you are going to be creating art, of course) and then there is a month of group activities offered by the library which culminates in the author visiting town to do a lecture.  As a life-long reader and lover of books, this has always been one of my favorite things about our library.  I was thrilled when Marilyn Forestell (also a book lover and owner of QuiltWorks) suggested starting the Novel Idea Quilt club which gets together just for the purpose of creating quilts and textile art for this program.  Often the author has been able to visit the quilt gallery to see the exhibit and they've always been so thrilled to see it.  That first year Teddy Wayne was able to see the quilts and I was there.  It was so great to be able to meet the author and discuss how I was inspired to create this quilt.

 2011 Tea is No Minor Beverage ( The Elegance of the Hedgehog  by Muriel Barbery)

2011 Tea is No Minor Beverage (The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery)

Tea is No Minor Beverage is not actually a Novel Idea quilt, but it's here for a reason.  During that first year everyone was so fired up about making book quilts we decided to do a second project that year and we chose The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I didn't realize until doing this blog post that I've done a tea cup before!  After this one extra book we went to just doing the Novel Idea quilt each year.  It was never a cohesive group to begin with and many of us are now in other small groups which make book quilts.  Mine is The Undercover Quilters which I've mentioned many times before.  

 2012 Autumn in New York ( Rules of Civility  by Amor Towles)

2012 Autumn in New York (Rules of Civility by Amor Towles)

The third year we read Rules of Civility which was a favorite with many.  One of the things I love about book clubs of any sort is that I am introduced to books and authors I don't know about.  I became a fan of Towles with this book.  His more recent novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, is one of my favorite books ever.  

You may have noticed that this piece is made with silks.  Also, many of these are hand stitched.  One thing about the Novel Idea quilts is that there are no size restrictions.  When creating for most quilt shows, your work must meet a minimum size.  When I'm doing hand stitched art pieces I prefer to work small, so I love that I can work with any size that works for me.  There also also many hand dyed fabrics in these pieces.  I tend to use my most favorite pieces of fabric for these small gems.

 2013 The Spirit of the Wood ( The Snow Child  by Eowyn Ivey)

2013 The Spirit of the Wood (The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey)

Of all the books we've done for the Novel Idea Quilts, I think The Snow Child was the most loved by the quilters.  It's such a visual book with themes that appealed to many.  I had so much fun with this piece.  I used hand dyes and vintage linens and it's all hand stitched.  I did get to meet the author, but it was at the book signing rather than the gallery.  She did see the quilts and was very touched by the whole exhibit.

 2014 Longing for Connection ( The Dog Stars  by Peter Heller)

2014 Longing for Connection (The Dog Stars by Peter Heller)

If you haven't read The Dog Stars, it's a novel about a post-apocalyptic future.  Many people I know in town as well as many quilters were put off by the theme, but I actually really loved this book.  There were some lovely moments including a passage which included a poem by Kim Stafford, one of Oregon's past Poet Laureates.  This quilt, which is quite small, was inspired by that poem within the book.  I was able to meet the author at the book signing and to tell him about my quilt.  He saw the exhibit and was so inspired he asked if any of the pieces were for sale.  In the end he bought several of them including mine.  What an honor!

 2015 The Wayward Jungle Crow ( A Tale for the Time Being  by Ruth Ozeki)

2015 The Wayward Jungle Crow (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki)

A Tale for the Time Being was such an interesting book.  The author talk was also fascinating.  Like I said in the previous post I am always on the lookout for nature themes, wildlife and especially birds when I read a book for a quilt.  This one did not disappoint with a Jungle Crow that keeps returning to visit one of the main characters.  This one is machine pieced, hand appliqued, and hand embroidered using many hand dyed fabrics and some vintage linens.

 2016 Spirit Tree ( Euphoria  by Lily King)

2016 Spirit Tree (Euphoria by Lily King)

In 2015 my sister, glass artist Cheryl Chapman, moved to town.  She also loves books and is a quilter so I thought I'd better get her involved in the Novel Idea quilts.  We both made quilts for the exhibit, mine is above.  I was inspired by the cover of the book and also a passage about the rainbow gum trees.  In addition to that Marilyn had an idea for folks to make masks as part of the exhibit.  It was a theme that related to the book and many people did so.  Cheryl came up with the idea of making glass masks.  We had so much fun getting together to do this.  We created the glass forms in her workshop and she fired them.  Then we had a day in my studio creating the fabric additions for the top of the masks.  

 2016 Fused Glass Masks ( Euphoria  by Lily King) Cheryl Chapman on the left, me on the right.

2016 Fused Glass Masks (Euphoria by Lily King) Cheryl Chapman on the left, me on the right.

 2017 The H Quilt ( Homegoing  by Yaa Gyasi)

2017 The H Quilt (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi)

Last year the book was Homegoing which had a multitude of characters, time frames and locations.  In end I decided to put this quilt in the exhibit even though it wasn't made just for the book.  I had actually finished it a couple of months before with no other inspiration than seeing an old H quilt and thinking it would be cool to try it in an improv manner.  Plus, my maiden name starts with H.  As it happens, one of the main characters in the book was called, simply, H.  How coincidental is that?

You can read yesterday's post to find out about Ranjana's Chai (below).  If you haven't made a book quilt yet I highly suggest it as a jumping off point.  My rule with them has always been that my quilts are inspired by the book.  They are not necessarily illustrations of the book.  You can take a feeling, phrase, sentence, word, color scheme, character, animal or object for your inspiration.  It is really fun though and maybe you'll even meet the author some day!  I have done 19 book quilts so far (wow!) and am making plans for my 20th for the Undercover Quilters.  This year our book choice is Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  I can't wait!

 2018 Ranjana's Chai ( No One Can Pronounce My Name  by Rakesh Satyal)

2018 Ranjana's Chai (No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal)

Indigo Blues

Indigo Blues for Julie  (15)Indigo Blues was made for a very dear friend's 50th birthday.  It includes some true Japanese indigo blues and some imitation indigo prints.  I actually started this project several years ago and had in mind to make her a table runner.  When I went to the cupboard of doom (aka the WIP drawer) this summer I found this project and decided on the spur of the moment to make it into a lap quilt.  I enjoyed the process, mainly 'cause it was nearly done.  The columns of strips were already put together.  I only had to go to the stash to find the appropriate fabric for the connecting columns.  Indigo Blues for Julie  (1)

I machine quilted this one with simple straight lines, about 3/4" apart.  My straight lines are never really straight though.  I mailed this off about a week after her birthday and it's been happily received.  I even have a photo of my friend with the finished quilt and it delights me to see her big smile.  Indigo Blues for Julie  (6)The cupboard of doom isn't completely cleaned out, but I sure did make a big dent in it this summer.  For now I will be working on some new projects so I don't when I'll get back to it.  

The last couple of months have been so busy with taking classes, teaching classes, travel and a nasty cold that I haven't done a whole lot new to show you.  What I have done has been documented on Instagram, so check there if you are curious (see the link in the sidebar).  You'll also see lots of photos from our travels.  I am finally back to the studio this week though and will soldier on despite a lingering cough and low energy.  The weather has turned finally and so there are good studio days ahead, I'm sure.  More to come when I've got something to show!

PS:  Remember I'm teaching Liberated Stars at QuiltWorks next Friday, October 24, 10-4.  Click here for more info.

Wendy's Wish Upon a Card 2014

DSCN9976After the Fiber Arts Stroll on Sunday I had a few minutes to check out the fabric postcard display at the Sisters Chamber of Commerce.  It's always wonderful to see how the Wendy's Wish folks display this little works of art so beautifully.  The wall above includes all of the challenge postcards minus the few that were framed (award winners).  These challenge postcards will not go on sale until Thursday at 3:30 at the reception.  DSCN9990

DSCN9989The First Place Honor goes to my good friend, Marion!  I'm so pleased that she won.  As, always her work is exquisite and whimsical. Marion also made this wonderful star below.DSCN9984

DSCN9977My silly bird got an honorable mention.  I love making these goofy birds!  I have two other framed pieces, the house below and the vase of flowers.  The house was made with the watercolor technique I demonstrated on Sunday.  The flowers are made with a different watercolor technique.  For those I used a technique I learned from Carla Sonheim.  I painted with regular watercolors on t-shirt transfer paper, added a bit of colored marker, then cut shapes which were then ironed on the background fabric before quilting.

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These cards were framed by Myrna Dow of High Desert Frameworks in Bend.  She does over 80 framed cards every year as a community service project. Her framing choices are unique and imaginative.  Here are a few others I really like.  I will be at the reception on Thursday.  Don't forget you can also buy many other postcards in the general category.  Unmatted cards are only $5 a piece!  Matted ones are being sold for $25 or $75.  There are also the teacher's framed cards available at Sisters High School.  I haven't gotten over to see them yet, but they are always fantastic.  

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