Monday, August 14, 2017

More Wholecloth Quilted Mandalas

Hand Dyed Mandalas Ready for Quilting
Zen time as I transformed two more hand dyed mandalas into wholecloth quilts.  Just like Moonlit Mandala, there was no need for marking, as all the quiting was guided by the shapes and patterns created by the dyeing process.

First quilted transformation is Starburst...
"Starburst Mandala" Finishes 22" x 22"
Here is a close up of the quiting with Aurifil  White (#2024) in 50 weight which really allowed the hand dyed design to take center stage!
Quilting Detail
A bright pink Kona solid was used for the quilt back, allowing the wholecloth quilting to truly shine!
Reverse Side of Wholecloth Mandala Quilting
Next up is Peacock Paisley...
This quilt got off on a rocky start!!!  In my excitement to start quilting, I reached across my sewing table and slid the prepared quilt sandwich under my sewing machine and just started quilting!  For this mandala wholecloth quilt, I chose to incorporate different variations of the Paisley shape into each area of quilting.  Starting in the center, I chose a very elaborate and dense feather that was then echo quilted!  As I was quilting I kept hearing a punching sound and initially dismissed it as the hand dyed Pimatex cotton has a very dense weave.  After I had finished quilting three feathers, I went to bury the thread tails.  As I slipped my hand under the back side to ensure my hand needle wasn't going through to the back, I soon realized the cause of the punching sound:  An entire sheet of paper that was now stitched onto the back side of my quilt!!  I grabbed my trusty pair of tweezers and went to work carefully removing all the small bits of paper that had been perforated by my very dense quilting!!  
Haste Makes Waste
There was no way I would allow this minor set back to interfere with my Zen quilting!  Once most of the paper was removed, I double checked for any rogue pieces of paper and them resumed my meditative quilting!

Some doodling was required to figure out a new Paisley design for the next round of quilting designs.
Auditioning Different Paisley Designs for Round 2
And some more doodling fun for the outer ring.
More Paisley Doodles
Here you can see those doodles translated into quilting, again using Aurifil White (#2024) in 50-weight.
Detail of Peacock Paisley Quilting
A fabulous Kaffe woven stripe was used for the binding...
Peacock Paisley, Finishes 22" x 22"
And a picture of the quilt back, with most of the paper removed from the center!!
Quilt Back
This is the last of the smaller sized hand dyed mandalas from my December Dye Party.  So this called for a much needed Dye Party where I hand dyed 6 more mini mandalas...and I still have 1-2 larger sized mandalas.  Looks like I will be whipping up some new quilt sandwiches in preparation for some more quilting zen.  And yes, I will be sure to check the backs for any random pieces of paper before placing any of them under my sewing machine!!
More Wholecloth Quilted Mandalas on the Horizon

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Monthly Newsletter

I am excited to announce that my monthly newsletter is finally up and running, and you can check out the inaugural issue here!!  This endeavor has been several months in the making, and kept getting placed onto the back burner for one reason or another.  Thanks to Abby Glassenberg's Email Marketing Jumpstart online course, I now have the technical know how to put out an awesome newsletter with great content for my fellow quilting friends.

Each month's newsletter will celebrate a different topic or theme related to quilting such as Color in September, Organization in October and Texture lined up for November.  I'll share some behind the scenes sneak peaks in and around my studio, unveil my latest creations as well introduce you to some of my favorite tools, tricks and resources.  I'll also be highlighting upcoming quilt challenges along with my teaching & travel schedule.  

So be sure to check out my first issue and if you like what you see, I encourage you to subscribe to receive a monthly boost of quilting tips & inspiration from my studio delivered right into your email inbox!!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Van Gogh Cherrywood Challenge: Van Gogh's Blues & Hues

Yikes!  It has been some time since my last blog post, which means I've been a busy little quilting bee!  Yes--I will blame my blogging silence on this beautiful bundle of black and blues:  Cherrywood's Van Gogh Challenge fabrics.              
Cherrywood's Lucious Challenge Bundle
This year's challenge called for us to "use Vincent van Gogh's paintings as inspiration to push yourself creatively, think outside the box and create new fiber art."  Challenge rules included a 20" x 20" square finish and to use the challenge bundle of blues and black in 60-70% of the quilt top with the option of using additional accent colors from Cherrywoods hand dyed collection (white is the exception as they don't carry white).

As my usual, I did not actually start working on this challenge until the week before the deadline (Technically Thursday before the Tuesday deadline--but who is counting days, hours and minutes until the deadline?!?)  My mantra for this particular challenge was "If Plan A doesn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.  Stay Cool!"  And as several facebook friends reminded me...there is always the greek alphabet and chinese alphabet that has even more back up options!!

Plans A through E included idea of making a modern mandala, modern mola featuring peacocks, abstract irises, Blues Clues and even the Cookie Monster!  In fairness, I may have been hungry during that last moment of inspiration!  Luckily, several of these plans never made it past the brainstorming phase.  I did try a few different paper mock ups to play around with coloring of a modern iris design but I was having a hard time achieving the 60-70% use of challenge fabrics while also achieving an interesting quilt my paper mock ups were scrapped and destined for the recycle bin.  
Iris I Had a Better Design...
Like so many van Gogh fans, I love Starry Night.  I thought about incorporating some Starry Design inspiration into a backdrop for a Modern Mandala but struggled with the background idea and again that 60-70% rule.  This particular plan did involve me cutting up some fabric before scrapping the idea.  Luckily, those fused strips will make a lovely addition to my bin of fused scraps and I only lost a little of the challenge fabrics.
Fabric Swirls that Fizzled
Back to the drawing board.  As I studied Starry Night's backdrop, I envisioned swirling water that ebbs and flows.  Immediately I remembered Karen Eckmeier's Layered Waves technique that I learned while taking a workshop with her at PIQF.  "Yes--this would certainly capture those bold brushstrokes nicely" is what I told myself over and over as I grabbed my rotary cutter and cut a large waving curve right through the center of one of the challenge blues!!  Any fears were soon quelled once I finished my first wavy strata set!  Literally and figuratively, this design was finally flowing as I constructed more and more strata that just ebbed and flowed under the sewing machine!!  I added a lighter and darker value of blue to the challenge blues and just kept assembling units until I was down to scraps that were too small to use.
Finally Going with the Flow!
Laying out all these layerered waves was a bit tricky as they each unit had a mind of its own.  The goal is to conceal any raw edges by tucking them under the other layered waves.  However any shifting of one strata set, even minor, would inevitably lead to a domino effect of shifting all the other waves.  But after some careful maneuvering, I had achieved a composition that truly ebbed and flowed like van Gogh's brushstrokes!  I used Elmer's School glue to carefully glue baste the overlapping areas to create a weblike unit that could be picked up and moved.  This made it possible to audition different background colors:  orange, purple, pinks, lime and even...gasp...brown (shocking I know!!)
Auditioning Backgrounds
And while there were certainly some exciting color combinations, I chose to use the challenge black fabric as it allowed the blue waves pop!!  A friend was in need of more black fabric to complete the binding on her entry so I tried my best to conserve as much of the black fabric for her to use.  This was done by tracing the gaps onto freezer paper and adding some extra allowance.  Each template shape was then cut out and repositioned onto the challenge black making for a fun jigsaw puzzle as I tried to efficiently nestle all the shapes together and minimize any fabric waste.  Based on the image below of the remaining scraps, I think I was pretty successful as I was able to share a little over 5" x 18 or 20" with my friend to complete her binding!!  More Elmer's school glue was used to glue baste each background shape into place resulting in a finished quilt top.
Black Background Bits
I had envisioned some dense quilting, so I was confident that my glue basted edges would be reinforced in the quilting process.  Using flowing water as my inspiration, my doodles included different combinations of wavy lines, bubbles and spirals.  

Flowing Doodles
In my initial doodles, I used the strata lines as boundaries for each new shape.  But over time, I started to blur these boundaries, allowing some of the motifs to flow over into neighboring doodles, adding a water like feel.  A silver metallic thread was used for all the layered waves.
Doodles That Ebb & Flow
A variety of angular motifs provided a nice contrast to the swirling designs, as well as simulated the texture of a painter's canvas.
Canvas Like Background Designs
Black Aurifil in 50-weight was used to quilt the black background areas as I did not want these areas to draw focus from the brushstrokes.
Close Up of Quilting Details
One of the smaller strata sets was used for my quilt label.  A black micron pen was used on the lighter blue stratas, while a silver metallic Gelly Roll pen was used to write on the darker fabrics.
One More Brushstroke for My Label
My Artist Statement:  In Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh’s iconic brushwork combines darkness with light, chaos and serenity with color and texture.  In my minimalistic, modern remake, multi-hued curved strata ebb and flow, mimicking the hundreds of colorful and textured paint strokes Vincent layered into his celestial backdrop.  Metallic threads add flowing textures that truly sparkles against the brilliant blues swirls that dance off the edge. 
"Van Gogh's Blues & Hues", 20" x 20"
There were 465 submissions which is both amazing and daunting!!  Given both the sheer quantity as well as the impressive quality of this year's entries (many of which have been posted onto social media), the jurors are going to have a difficult time choosing which 120 will join the travelling exhibit.  Regardless of outcome for my entry, I know it will be a truly awesome exhibit and look forward to seeing it at PIQF in 2018!

"I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day." 
- Vincent van Gogh

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Walking Foot WOW! Gets a Mod Mola Makeover

Back in April, I introduced Mod Molas while serving as a Featured Artist for the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Show.  Everyone that stopped by was completely mezmerized by the stunning transformation as I trimmed away snippets from my layered samples.  During that weekend, Isabel, a member of our Programs team asked whether I might consider incorproating this into my upcoming Walking Foot WOW! workshop scheduled for August.  I certainly saw potential for the Walking Foot designs but needed to experiment first.  So I stitched up another Walking Foot WOW! sampler with three modifications:

  1. Layering one of my hand dyed fabrics under the quilt top
  2. Using a slightly shorter stitch length
  3. Stitching less dense designs in order to create larger, unquilted areas
Then I grabbed my trusted seam ripper and thread snips and went to work carefully trimming away sections from the solid black quilt top to reveal the colorful hand dyed fabric underneath.  These pictures do not do justice to the transformation process--it is truly magical!!!!!

Mod Mola Metamorphasis
So I agreed to incorporate the Mod Mola option into the workshop and updated the supply list for those participants who were game to try.  I loaned my new sample to Isabel to promote workshop sign ups!!  Sign ups began at the May general meeting and by the time the meeting began, the workshop had sold out!!  Isabel had a suspicion that this might be the case, so we had already discussed the possibility of scheduling a second workshop date to accommodate.  Well...not only did the second date fill up, but we went ahead and scheduled a 3rd date which is also full with almost 30 members on the waitlist!!  WOW!!

For the nearly 60 members who are signed up, I am sharing three of my favorite Walking Foot WOW! notions:

1.  Machingers Gloves:
These amazing gloves have rubber finger tips which helps you grip and control your quilt sandwich as you stitch out the various designs.  While wearing my Machingers gloves, I no longer need to maintain a death grip on my quilt sandwich, thereby allowing me to relax and enjoy the quilting process.  It may feel a bit funny to be wearing gloves for quilting, but let me tell you that whenever I take off my gloves and try to resume quilting without wearing the gloves, I immediately feel the tension in my shoulders/back.  The gloves come in 4 different sizes (Extra Small, Small/Medium, Medium/Large, Extra Large).  And as you can see below, the white gloves don't stay pristine for long.  While I have had some luck putting on the gloves and washing my gloved hands using Dawn or Palmolive dish detergent, I usually treat myself to a new pair every year or so.  In fact, one of my older pairs (2+ years old) started to experience rubber rot and I would find little bits of rubber flaking over the top of my quilt.
Machingers Quilting Gloves
During the workshop we discuss options available for securing started/stopped lines of quilting including my personal favorite method of tying a knot and burying thread tails within the batting layer.  Using a self-threading needle makes this process quick and easy.  While there are several different brands of Self-threading needles out on the market, I love the Sench brand side-threading needles because they are super easy to thread and I have yet to experience any shredding of my threads!  In fact, I am able to bury 4 or more threads at once, cutting my time in half!
Sench Side-Threading Needles
3.  Havel 4 3/4" Snip-Eze Thread Snips with Curved Blades:
I love, love, love these thread snips!  They are ergonomically friendly to use and their curved blades allow you to trim thread tails very close to the surface of the quilt top.  They are also the secret behind my Mod Molas, as the curved tips allow me to hug up along my stitch line and trim away swatches of the top layer of fabric.    
Havel 4 3/4" Snip-EZE with Curved Blades
Whenever possible, I try to support our local quilt shops.  I am pleased to share that one of our local quilt shops and supporters of our recent quilt show, Golden State Quilting (located in Campbell, CA), is carrying all three products and is happy to restock as needed for our upcoming August workshops.  For those enrolled in the workshop, I recommend calling the shop ahead of time to ensure they have the products in time for your workshop date.

August will certainly be a flurry of Walking Foot WOW! fun.  I will be sure to take lots of pictures to post everyone's samplers (especially the before and after Mod Mola transformations!!)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Inspiration In & Around the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Saturday was jam-packed with quilting fun and inspiration.  Once home from the California State Fair, I had a little over an hour to recover before heading off to the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles for their Champagne Gala.  Luckily there was no traffic so I had some time to explore the local downtown scene for a bit before the gala commenced.

There is free parking on the evenings and all day on Sundays under the 680/280 overpass, where all the columns are painted in an array of bright colors.  This most recent visit I noticed several paint patches, which I suspect are the city's solution to covering up graffiti.   While I certainly do not condone disrespect or destruction of public property, I really appreciated the way that the colors & shapes interacted with each other!

Just past the SJMQT is MACLA (Movimento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana)  and I was quite smitten with the artwork adorning their building and windows.  Above their sign is a graphic black & white artwork that reminds me of my favorite artist:  Keith Haring.  Then their windows have large banners that feature pastel colored organic shapes that overlap to create transparency.
Interaction of Color and Shapes
Interesting lines and textures were abundant within the architecture of the sidewalks and brick facades.  So many possibilities for walking foot quilting and modern piecing designs!!
Abundant ArchiTEXTURE
My little inspirational scavenger hunt lasted only a few minutes as soon it was time for the Champagne Gala to open.  Once inside, I was shocked to see that my donated FiberShot had already been purchased, as evidenced by a red dot next to the signage!!  The new owner revealed themselves and I am delighted that this lil' Mosaic Mod Mola is going home with a fellow quilter who is both a long-time supporter of SJMQT as well as a founding member of my guild.

This year all donated FiberShots were on display and will remain part of the exhibit for the next month or so.  So while quite a few were purchased during the Champagne Gala, there are several amazing pieces of Fiber Art that are still available for purchase for $125!!  I recognized one FiberShot that used the Interleave technique, as well as another that incorporated designs from my Walking Foot WOW! workshop.
In addition to all the fabulous FiberShots on display, there were three new exhibits in addition to the Artist in Residence space.

The first gallery featured Linear Intervention:  Sabine Reckewell, architectural installations that "focus on line, repetition and geometry."  I was especially entranced with her Linear Intervention, 2017 that is constructed out of polyester webbing, wood strips and screws.  I just kept moving around the space taking in the new patterns of light and color that emerged, especially with the bright orange webbing against the slate blue walls!!
Sabine Reckewell's Linear Intervention, 2017
Next stop was to the Maker Space featuring the current Artist in Residence:  Heather Deyling and her Invented Hybrids series.  Heather's colorful organic creations are a fabulous complement to Sabine's minimalist designs!
Heather Deyling's Invented Hybrids (left to right):  Accumulation 1, Stalk and Fused 2
Once again I was transformed as I viewed the award winning quilts from the 13th Quilt Nihon Exhibition.  These stunning quilts were made by some of the most talented artists from Japan and the Pacific Rim.  Not only did these quilt feature brilliant and beautiful designs, but were impeccably constructed!!!  I had a difficult time choosing my favorite, so here are a few of my favorites with accompanying detail pictures.
Harue Konishi, SYO#80:  I love how the machine pieced Ls dance and the floating circles
Keiko Ohno, Triangles to My Heart's Content:  Such energy created by the different shapes/angles and quilted lines
Yoko Kageyama, Sparkling Until the End:  Fall Leaves Reimagined into so many ways!!
Ayumi Asano, Good Luck:  Enamored with all the fun fabrics and quilted balloons floating in the background!
These are just a few highlights of these breathtaking exhibits, making the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles a must-see this summer!!  I am already looking forward to returning again to spend more time with these quilts where I am sure I will discover surprising new details!!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

California State Fair

This past weekend, Doug and I drove up to Sacramento and braved the 100+ degree heat for the annual California State Fair. 
California State Fair Entrance
Back in late April, I decided to enter a few of my quilts into the California Crafts Competition, especially since this year they added a new Modern Quilt category.  The entry fee was only $12 per quilt, plus the cost of shipping your quilts for the judging process (note:  next year they will be moving to an online submission process using photos for the initial jurying process).  In early June I received a feedback form for each quilt in the mail and was impressed with the quality of hand-written feedback that was provided:  a full paragraph plus with both praise as well as some constructive feedback).  The form also indicated whether or not the quilt had received any ribbons or awards.  I was excited to learn that all four of my quilts had placed and would be included in the Crafts Exhibition.
My Colorful Quilts & I
Exhibitors are provided with two complementary adult tickets and a FREE parking pass which we opted to use to attend the Awards ceremony on Saturday morning.  The ceremony celebrates the major and donated awards and afterwards I was able to pick up my ribbons (with the cash prizes mailed at a later date).
Quilts Exhibited (Top Left Clockwise)

Time to Celebrate
This certainly called for a celebration, which included sharing a Funnel Cake (or Fried Dough as we called it in New York) followed by checking out the rest of the fair's exhibits that celebrate California's forestry, farming, wildlife and even included a Dinosaur exhibit.
Having Fun At the Fair:  Wood Carved Creatures, Tractors, Doug with a Douglas Fir, Birds of Prey and Dinosaurs
The exhibits provided both education and inspiration.  I was especially enamored with a ceiling installation featuring hanging soda bottles that contained colorful liquid.  I loved the gradation of color, light and floral shapes created at the base of each bottle.  In the Modoc county exhibit, there was a rotating display of barbed wire styles that could easily translate into free motion quilting designs.  Oh the possibilities!!
Inspiration for Next Year's State Fair Quilt Entries?!?
I encourage all my California quilting & crafty friends to consider submitting your work to the 2018 Crafts Competition!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hoffman Challenge: Technicolor Trellis

Time for the annual Hoffman Fabric Challenge!!  This year featured two large floral all over prints from the Style #P4299 Mastery Digital-Print Collection:  562-Blooms or 55-Charcoal.  Participants could use one or both challenge prints, as long as they were used in body of the quilt and in more than one spot.  And 50% or more of the entry had to be made up in Hoffman fabrics (Mastery collection coordinates, Hoffman batiks, screenprints or digital prints).  Quilt entries could be any shape, but the combined sides must equal 72" to 160".

Unsure of a design, I purchased two yards of both the Blooms and Charcoal fabrics.  And then I waited for divine inspiration...
My Fabric Palette:  The Challenge Print Blooms and a Super Fun Ombre Print
With just 6 days until the deadline, I finally managed to come up with a design and template.  In my two yard cut, I was able to find six repeats, so I modified my Mod Mandalas from sixteen wedges to six isometric triangles.  Once the triangles were fussycut to feature some of the larger flowers, I could rotate them to generate three different kaleidoscope backgrounds.  

Blooming Kaleidoscope
Half inch bias tape was made out of a lovely Timeless Treasures ombre that gradated from a glowing yellow green into a brilliant blue.  A package of emerald quarter inch tape was used for the skinny strips.

Once all the bias tape was appliqued into place and my triangles reassembled, it was time to start auditioning quilting designs.  Taking inspiration from the floral print, I sketched out a variety of petal-like filler designs.    
Floral Inspiration for the Quilting
Once again, the Hoffman Challenge was co-sponsored by Aurifil threads.  There are three Aurifil Awards (that include either $250, $500 or $1000 in Aurifil products!!) that will be awarded to entries that have Aurifil threads visibly used (thread painting, embellishment, beading, etc).  A variety of Aurifil 50-weight threads were used in both the construction and quilting of my Mod Mandala:

  • Spring Green (1231) used in the bobbin for the bias tape applique
  • Grey Smoke (5004) for piecing the triangles into a quilt top
  • Bright Pink (2425), Neon Orange (1104), Red (2250), and Red Orange (2245) were used to free-motion quilt the petal designs into the background areas.

Abloom Aurifil
Some of the charcoal print was used for my quilt back and sleeve.
Greyscale Backing
Artist Statement:

This year’s challenge fabric, Mastery Blooms, prompted a garden themed Mod Mandala design.   Six repeats of the bountiful flowers were fussy cut to create a brilliant kaleidoscopic bouquet.   Petal-like designs were free-motion quilted into the background, adding a delicate layer of quilted texture.  An ombre trellis constructed out of bias tape applique, provides support for this floral design to blossom and bloom! 
Technicolor Trellis, 27" x 24" (81" perimter)
Despite my late Tuesday night start, I managed to finish my entry within 4 days and even managed to submit it online with 24 hours to spare!!  Phew!!  Less than a week later, I received an email instructing me to ship my entry to Hoffman Fabrics for the next round of judging for consideration of awards and/or be included in the travelling exhibit.