Gwenny

2015

2015

A bright light went out in the quilting world this week. Gwendolyn Joy Marston passed away on Wednesday at her home on Beaver Island, Michigan. All around Instagram and Facebook there are messages of grief and photos of her, but I felt a need to do one more blog post about Gwenny. She radiated joy to all who knew her and she loved teaching. Encouraging the younger generation was something she took terribly seriously and I am so lucky that I was able to benefit from this mentoring.

If you would like to make a donation to honor Gwen, here is link to a favorite charity of hers: Oil & Water Don’t Mix.

I was lucky enough to call Gwen a friend and it all came about because of the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon. I actually first came to know Gwen’s work when I lived in Hawaii in 2002. The local quilt shop on Maui happened to have a couple of Gwen’s books and I knew I’d found a kindred spirit as soon as I started reading her first Liberated Quiltmaking book.

The original Liberated Quiltmaking book

The original Liberated Quiltmaking book

If you ever see this book, pick it up. It is a treasure and really, more comprehensive than the later books. I remember reading this one over and over in those early years. When we moved to Bend in 2004 I had no idea how having the Stitchin’ Post nearby would change my quilting life. By that time I had taken tentative steps at some liberated quilt projects. Imagine my delight when finding out at that Gwen would be at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in 2006. I saw her and Freddy Moran give the lecture at the picnic that year. But I didn’t actually meet Gwen until I took my first class with her in 2009. I eventually did finish that first quilt (below) and it’s named A Tribute to Gwen.

2009

2009

2012 A Tribute to Gwen

2012 A Tribute to Gwen

Over the years I took every workshop I could with her and met so many great quilting friends that way. Gwen was the most encouraging quilt teacher I ever had and I knew I was on the right track when she was around. After a while we kept up an email correspondence and I was thrilled when she asked to have some of my quilts in two of her books- Minimal Quiltmaking and Free Range Triangle Quilts.

2010 with Sarah and Cher

2010 with Sarah and Cher

2012 Small Studies workshop, Martha and Gwen

2012 Small Studies workshop, Martha and Gwen

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2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Gwen and Sue Spargo

2012 Gwen and Sue Spargo

Two friends that I met because of Gwen are Jan and Marion. We first met at a Gwen and Freddy retreat in 2010 and became fast friends. At a later workshop Gwen suggested we three come to the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in 2013 which was the 30th and final year. We decided to go for it and had the most wonderful time! Even though, by that time, the retreat wasn’t actually on Beaver Island it was so wonderful to see Gwen in her element.

2013 BIQR

2013 BIQR

2013 Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Jan and Marion

2013 Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Jan and Marion

2015 Minimal Quiltmaking workshop, Gwen pointing out my lost triangle points which delighted her!

2015 Minimal Quiltmaking workshop, Gwen pointing out my lost triangle points which delighted her!

Gwen came to the Stitchin’ Post several times in 2015 and 2016 and I took every workshop she did. Her workshops are always fun, but these were especially sweet as we knew that she was planning to retire and we’d be unlikely to see her again.

2015 Gwen with total focus at the machine.

2015 Gwen with total focus at the machine.

2016 QuiltCon Pasadena

2016 QuiltCon Pasadena

In 2016 Gwen was honored by the Modern Quilt Guild with a special exhibit. I made plans to attend mainly to see her exhibit and went with my friend Marion. It was so nice to see Gwen again down in Pasadena. Her exhibit was beautiful and it made me so happy for her work to be introduced to a whole new group of quilters.

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I was thrilled to have Gwen there when I won a ribbon at the show. I think she was just as proud as me. It’s totally liberated. Gwen had so many groupies at the show that it was lots of fun. We did a big dinner out and met for lunches on the patio.

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Later that year in April, Gwen came to Sisters for her final workshops and a presentation called Gwenny’s Night Out. It was bittersweet knowing she would not be back to teach again.

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Gwen having a laugh with Tonye Phillips and my friend Vicky

2016 Gwen having a laugh with Tonye Phillips and my friend Vicky

2016 Gwenny’s Night Out at the Stitchin’ Post

2016 Gwenny’s Night Out at the Stitchin’ Post

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In April 2016 Gwen presented her last workshops at the Stitchin’ Post and then did a Gwenny’s Night Out with all her friends. Gwenny was well known for her little stories and jokes and we delighted in them all. She talked about her more recent quilts and life on Beaver Island. It was such a fun night.

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2016 Jean Wells and Gwen probably midst joke!

2016 Jean Wells and Gwen probably midst joke!

2016 at my Twigs gallery reception

2016 at my Twigs gallery reception

That April I had my first gallery show at Twigs which is part of the Stitchin’ Post. It will always mean a lot to me that Gwen was there for workshops and took the time to come to the reception. Without her mentorship I may not have been there in the first place. What fun!

2016 Free Range Triangles

2016 Free Range Triangles

The very last workshop Gwen did here was this Free Range Triangles workshop. She kept up her good humor and excellent teaching right through to the end. We all gave her big hugs thinking she’d be back at some point if not to teach, just to see the quilt show or something. Alas, it was the last time I saw her.

We did keep exchanging emails, cards, and letters though and I was terribly saddened to hear of her cancer diagnosis last year. She remained cheerful even when her treatment was clearly debilitating. Gwen went to Ithaca, New York for her treatment and to spend time with her children and grandchildren. It makes me happy to know that she had so much quality time with family at the end. I am also comforted to know that she was finally able to get back to her beloved home on Beaver Island just before she died. I know that place meant the world to her.

I feel like I’ll still be consulting her in my mind over the coming years. I’ll certainly be going back to her books on a regular basis. Most of all I will treasure all the memories of this vibrant, funny, creative lady.

Michigan girl

Michigan girl

Happy Quilt News Tonight

Tranquility

Tranquility

Just popping in for a quick post to let you know I've had some happy news tonight.  Tranquility has won an Honorable Mention in the Modern quilts category at AQS Grand Rapids.  I won't be able to attend the show, but it starts tomorrow if you are in the area.

In other news, Wild Abandon has ended its show days and will be heading to its new home tomorrow.  I have added new items to the shop in recent days.  Check out quilts, textile art and original paintings here:  KristinShieldsArt.  For handmade art journals look here:  KMSHandmade.

Wild Abandon

Wild Abandon

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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Oglethorpe Square

Oglethorpe Square, 18x40

Oglethorpe Square, 18x40

Oglethorpe Square was inspired by one of the squares in historic downtown Savannah, Georgia when I was there for QuiltCon last February.  In Savannah, each square is a green park space with serves as a gathering area for locals and tourists alike.  They are beautifully landscaped with trees, flowers, fountains and statues.  There are always several park benches too and are a lovely place to pause while walking around.  Oglethorpe Square was one that I went to several times while I was there.  When I got home from Savannah, I was reminded that the Central Oregon SAQA challenge for this year was "Pathways".  I decided this was the perfect theme to highlight this square.

Now, the logical thing to do would have been to make this quilt with a variety of greens to echo those squares in Savannah, but I had this stack of indigos that I've been wanting to use.  Some of them are Japanese indigo and they are really lovely, with a variety of textures and shades.  You'll notice a variety of colors of blues in the photos which are due to lighting and my tendency to play with Instagram filters.  In reality the blues are duller than in most of these photos.  The left side photo below is probably the most accurate color-wise.

While I was inspired by a real-life square I didn't try to copy it in any realistic manner.  I created several strip sets and cut them up in a liberated manner to create this design.  In general, the square did have the four quadrants and two pathways aligned perpendicularly to one another. My favorite bench was in the bottom right quadrant. 

Pausing in the middle of machine quilting

Pausing in the middle of machine quilting

Again, I went back to my old standby of 1/4" channel quilting by machine.  I usually start by stiching in 1/2 intervals and then going back to create 1/4" spacing.

I created this piece in just a few days as I had a lot on my plate and upcoming 2 weeks of jury service (thankfully, I did not get called in).  It was nice to get this project done so I could move on to other things.  

Oglethorpe Square will debut in the SAQA special exhibit at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on July 8 and may have other showings around Oregon in the next year.  

Dancing in the Streets

Dancing in the Streets is a new quilt that I made for the Mountain Meadows Quilt Guild log cabin challenge.  This block is a variation called half log cabin and it's my favorite.  I have played with it many times (Walking the Dogs, Iris Dreams, and Puzzling World).  In this case I used a stack of highly patterned fabrics I've been saving for a while.  It was a lot of fun to cut up and use these fabrics.  The exuberance of the prints led to the title of the quilt.

Dancing in the Streets, 48x48

Dancing in the Streets, 48x48

I decided to hand quilt this one and it went quickly with pearl cotton.  I finally figured out that using a chenille needle size 22 works best for me when quilting with pearl cotton.  Now that I have a system that works I have been doing a lot of that.  

The back was fun to do.  I used up leftovers of fabrics from the front and had to buy the red in the cross shape just to make it big enough.  This will make a super fun and cozy lap quilt! Dancing in the Streets will debut at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on July 8.  Then it will be shown at the Sunriver Quilt Show on August 5.