The Undercover Quilters :: Martin Marten Quilt Reveal

 A Bear Visits Martin by Susan Mondry

A Bear Visits Martin by Susan Mondry

The Undercover Quilters is my quilting book club.  We have 14 members now, though two have moved away.  For those who don't know we read a book every month just like a regular book club.  Every year we choose one book we've read to make quilts from.  You should also know that the only rule about our club is that you can't quit.  You don't have to read the book and you don't have to make a quilt.  For this exhibit we have 10 finished quilts.  I should also note that though we call this a quilt "reveal" we have actually seen the quilts along the way.  There's often a lot of finishing in that last month though and often there are wonderful surprises.

This year our book choice was Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  This book is a coming of age novel about a boy named Dave and a marten named Martin.  It's just wonderful and set right here in Oregon on the slopes of Mt Hood.  As you'll see, our quilts celebrate the nature of the Pacific Northwest. 

When we do our quilt reveal meeting it's just a few days before the Mt Bachelor Quilters' Guild show which is our debut exhibition.  We never really know which quilts will be complete, there's always some that have a little ways to go (or sometimes a lot).  Some of our members are a bit shy, but I've posted the quilt name and maker's name for each.  I love that every maker has a different style.  We often try new techniques for these quilts and we share our quilt knowledge at every meeting.  Enjoy the quilts and be ready for the next post from the quilt show in which all of these quilts will be complete.

 Flash of Gold by Cheryl Chapman

Flash of Gold by Cheryl Chapman

 Maria and the Finch by Kristin Shields

Maria and the Finch by Kristin Shields

 Peek-a-Boo Marten by Sally Black

Peek-a-Boo Marten by Sally Black

 ZigZag River by Betty Gientke

ZigZag River by Betty Gientke

 What's That? by Martha Phair Sanders

What's That? by Martha Phair Sanders

 Baggallini Bandit by Cindy O'Neal

Baggallini Bandit by Cindy O'Neal

 Living on Wy'east by Lani Sanders

Living on Wy'east by Lani Sanders

 Watch & Learn by Jane Jensen-Davis

Watch & Learn by Jane Jensen-Davis

 Wy'east by Suzanne Martin

Wy'east by Suzanne Martin

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!

October Color

I love October.  It's probably my favorite month, aside from December.  The changing leaves, crisp temperatures and harvest bounty are so inspiring.  I also know that I'm not alone in this.

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."  ~Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I was inspired to get out and search for some great leaf colors to make leaf studies and then I photographed the gorgeous bouquet I bought at Fall Fest today as well as the squash gracing my table.  How about you?  Are you savoring the season too?

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Mono Lake and Other Points South

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Hello!  It's nice to catch up on here again after a super busy summer.  We were gone for a while this month as we took a road trip to San Diego and did some sight seeing along the way.  We took the trip so we could help Chloe move to San Diego for graduate school.  She will be pursuing a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience.  

If you keep up with my Instagram account you will have seen many photos from the trip as well as glimpses of my sketchbook.  The photos here were the only ones I took with my Nikon camera and it was while we stopped at Mono Lake.  It was beautiful, but we were pursued by thunder clouds so we didn't stay too long.  

It was so nice to have a family trip again with all 4 of us.  It's so rare that Chloe has the time to join us.  She will be dedicated to research for the next 6 years at least, so we had to make the most of our time.  We were able to visit Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and other points on the way south.  Then we had a few days in San Diego before we left Chloe behind and went back north along the coast.  Road tripping is one of my very favorite ways to travel, so we had a great time and had good weather for nearly the whole trip.  On the way back we stopped in Solvang, San Luis Obispo, Carmel, Los Gatos and Redding.  We saw our favorite places and also some new places.

Now that we are back I'm trying to get back into a regular routine again.  I have something new to share in the next blog post.  This fall I want to work more with acrylics, gouache and watercolor.  I am also doing some small textile art pieces, but I am having more hand and arm pain and so I'm wondering how long I'll be able to do that kind of work.  I have one quilt I'd like to finish so I can enter it in QuiltCon next year.  More soon!

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Totality

 Beautiful Rimrock Ranch

Beautiful Rimrock Ranch

The total solar eclipse last week was the talk of the town for pretty much the whole summer.  I remember hearing dire predictions about crowd size last spring and it only got worse as time went on.  By the week before the eclipse we had taken all precautions- gassed up all the vehicles, filled the pantry, and scouted out all the back road routes we might need to take to avoid traffic.  Mark was out of town, so it was just Ryan and me making plans to head to the total eclipse zone for an overnight.  

At our house we could have seen a 99% solar eclipse.  At first it was my inclination to be satisfied with that, but after hearing my Dad's argument (and pretty much anyone who has seen a total eclipse) why we should go the extra mile (or 30) to see this once in a lifetime spectacle, I relented and started making plans.  

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As it turned out, while there were localized traffic jams, including a really awful, hours-long jam east of Prineville for folks going to the Symbiosis festival, in Bend we actually had very light road traffic.  Our route to the eclipse would take us to Sisters and then north to where we would have 1 minute and 24 seconds of totality.  But, like I said, I scouted out the back roads that I'd never tried before and since this was an adventure, Ryan and I took those back roads even if we didn't need to.  It was fun to see a part of Central Oregon I'd never been to.  We loaded up the pickup with camping gear and lots of food and drinks and headed to a private ranch for the eclipse party.

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Rimrock Ranch is private, but the owner coordinates tours with the Deschutes Land Trust and the Sisters Astronomy Club.  My dad is a member of the SAC and so we were invited to join ranch owner Gayle for a night-before star party and the eclipse viewing the following morning.  

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Skies were rather smoky over most of Bend and Sisters, but luckily the ranch was a bit north of the smokiest part and we had pretty good skies while we were there.  This field is the place where the astronomers set up viewing telescopes for all the celestial sights.  

 My sister Cheryl

My sister Cheryl

Sunday afternoon was pretty hot and spent mostly relaxing in the shade, but by the evening the temperatures had cooled enough to make a game of frisbee a pleasant pastime.  

 Brother-in-law Mark and Ryan

Brother-in-law Mark and Ryan

 Sunset view of Black Butte

Sunset view of Black Butte

 Sunset view of Mt Jefferson, with smoke

Sunset view of Mt Jefferson, with smoke

 Black Butte sunset

Black Butte sunset

After sunset we were treated to a fantastic star party.  We had views of Saturn with moon and rings, Jupiter with two moons, globular clusters, nebulae, and beautiful meteors.  We didn't get to bed until rather late.

 Eclipse day sunrise

Eclipse day sunrise

We woke up before dawn on Monday and caught these beautiful sunrise pictures.  Ryan and I are really night owls, so this whole experience is something we rarely see.  

 Home sweet home on the ranch

Home sweet home on the ranch

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 Sleepy head

Sleepy head

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By 9 am we were breakfasted and mostly packed and ready to watch the eclipse.  As I said, my Dad is an amateur astronomer and retired physicist.  He was over the moon (so to speak) about the possibilities of a total solar eclipse right in his back yard.  He and several others from the SAC brought telescopes and binoculars with solar filters.  Of course, we also had our solar eclipse glasses.  The eclipse started shortly after 9 am, but it wasn't until about 10 am that you could notice a definite shift in the light and a cooling of the air temperature.

 Dad, always with his eyes to the sky.

Dad, always with his eyes to the sky.

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Everyone needs glasses, including Scrabble.

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This was at about 10 am.  The light was changing all around, the temp was cooling by quite a bit and Scrabble was loving it.  I started drawing my sketchbook page, ready for the eclipse.

 What do you call a group of Volcanologists?

What do you call a group of Volcanologists?

 Gayle and Cheryl with one of the glass tile souvenirs that Cheryl made.

Gayle and Cheryl with one of the glass tile souvenirs that Cheryl made.

In addition to the astronomy club folks and their families, there was a tour group of volcanologists that had a tour at the ranch for the eclipse.

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After 10 am the light became more and more eerie.  

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 Ryan, Mark, Cheryl, Dad and me, with minutes to go

Ryan, Mark, Cheryl, Dad and me, with minutes to go

 Totality!

Totality!

Once totality began I tried to take a photo of the sun, but my camera wasn't focusing.  I gave up on that and got this one photo of everyone in the dark.  The 1 minute and 24 seconds were going by so fast!  I did get a video of all of us reacting to the eclipse which you can see part of on Instagram.  In addition, my Dad made a time lapse video of photos he took of the eclipse.  It was an amazing sight and worth all the trouble to get there for it.  Makes me want to see another one!

 Sunday ranch view

Sunday ranch view

 Total eclipse view

Total eclipse view

Here are some of the pages from my sketchbook of the two days we were at the ranch.  I'm glad I was able to record my thoughts soon after the event.  It was truly spectacular.  If you are ever in the path of one you won't soon forget it!

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