Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mini Mandalas

Thread Palette and Kona Solids
The San Jose Museum of Quilts &Textiles has a call out for 10" fiber art entries for through their annual FiberShots fundraiser event.

After having so much fun making the Mystical Mandala quilt, I chose to make a Mini Mandala as my entry.  Not only would this mandala be smaller, but I wanted to play with cool color threads as well as an off-center grid.  Soon after starting my mandala, I decided to make a second mandala that I could keep using the same colors with some subtle variations throughout.  It would be faster and more efficient to quilt both quilts before changing out thread colors, especially since I planned on using a minimum of 8 different threads!  Both 10" mini quilts were completely quilted in less than 6 hours (including several short stretch breaks).

I enjoyed watching as each mandala bloom grew larger and more colorful...
Mandala #1
Mandala #2
Did you pick up on the subtle differences?!?  Here they are side by side, which may make it easier to pick out the small changes in design and thread coloring.  There are at least 5 changes.  Hint:  click on the picture for a larger pop up screen to make for happy hunting!)
See If You Can Spot the Differences Between Mini Magnificent Mandala #1 and #2
For those of you who have asked whether I would consider selling my quilts--here is your opportunity to purchase a Mel Beach quilt!  Mini Magnificent Mandala #1 will be donated to the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles FiberShots fundraiser and be made available for purchase for $100, beginning with the SJMQT Champagne Reception on March 11th.  While the sale will continue through April 30th, you should know that once a quilt is purchased, it will go home with the new owner on a first come, first serve basis.  So you do not want to miss your opportunity to add an original piece of art to your collection while helping to support SJMQT.  I've seen several other FiberShots made by my fellow quilters--and there will be a really lovely selection of original quilts available for purchase.  Let's hope they are all scooped up by someone who loves it just as much as I do and helping to support all that the SJMQT does to "promote and celebrate the art, creators, craft, and history of quilts and textiles."
Mini Magnificent Mandala is Looking for a New Home!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

QuiltCon Reconnaisance


This weekend's quilty adventure was attending QuiltCon in Pasadena, CA for 3.5 days of modern quilting fun.

The Quilts
After entering my quilts into QuiltCon only to have them all rejected two years in a row, I was really curious to learn more about the quilts that were accepted into the show and and see which won ribbons.  After experiencing the quilts first hand, I must confess that I am still just as perplexed as to how the Modern Quilt Guild (or perhaps QuiltCon organizers) define "modern quilting."  What criteria are the judges using to award ribbons:  pure design aesthetic? content?  story?  and/or technique?!?  Perhaps the term "modern quilt" is an ever moving target: one, where I feel as if I am always trying to catch up.

Despite these ongoing questions, I certainly found lots of amazing eye candy as I went through each row of quilts on display.  Let's start with the astounding display of charity quilts made by local chapters of MQG as well as a few individual members.  All were made using an assortment of fabrics in red, yellow and teal, as well as neutrals white, grey and black, creating an impressive exhibit along the hallway and lining two smaller convention rooms!  Below is just a small sampling of some of my personal favorites...
Charity Quilts (top left to bottom right):   1.  "Riverfire" by Brisband MQG, 2.  "Tipi" by Calgary MQG 3.  "Intermingle" by North Jersey MQG, 4. "35 Sisters" by Pittsburgh MQG 5.  No label  6.  "This Quilt is Our Quilt" by Tulsa MQG


Several trends and themes really appealed to my current design aesthetic:

1.  Transparency with Fabric
Transparency (top left to bottom right):  1.  "Wavelength" by Rebecca Bryan,  2.  "Modern Spelunking" by Stephanie Ruyle, 3. "Plaid on Point" by Jennifer Jones Rossotti,  4.  "Retroreflective" also by Stephanie Ruyle, 5.  "Lines Lost and Found" by Jennifer Rossotti, 6.  "Triangle Transparency" by Yvonne Fuchs, 7.  "Puttin' on the Glitz" by Gina Boyd, 8.  "Color Study (Triangles)" by Erika Mulvenna
I really love these!  Two of the quilts used the Interleave technique!  The other six quilters were able to create the transparency illusion through smart fabric selections.  This technique still alludes me and I would like to spend more time learning more the formula of choosing the right fabrics, as the overall effect is just spectacular!

There were also two quilts that used a white overlay to create the illusion of transparency.
Gina Pina's "Cut & Keep" quilt on right with two details on left
Gina's quilt card shared her technique for creating the illusion of opaqueness:   "This is an applique quilt where the pieces are between the quilt top and the batting.   I placed the pieces under the quilt top right before quilting on a long arm."  This is definitely a technique that I would like to try on a future quilt design as there are so many possibilities!!

2.  Slice and Insert Quilts
Slice and Insert (top left to bottom right):  1.  "Find Joy" by Nicole Maroon, 2.  "Putting on the Glitz" by Tami Levin, 3.  "Mid-Century Modern Quilt" detail by Jo Avery  4. "Moonlit Sticks and Stones" by Deborah Ross,  5 "Party Day and Night" by Anna Koelewyn
3.  Circles Around
Circular Designs (clockwise top left to bottom left):  1. "The Big Swirl" by Betsy Vinegrad, 2. "Grey Circle" by Serena Brooks, 3.  "Mid-Century Modern Quilt" by Jo Avery, 4. "One Earth" by Kathy York, 5. "Escapade" by Elaine Poplin,  6. "Twisted Sisters Quilt" Bee/Group quilt submitted by Stephanie Ruyle, 7. "November Nights" by Giedra Bowser, 8. "The Whole is Greater Than The Sum of Its Parts" by Cassandra Beaver, 9. "Shards" by Casey York
There were circles all around the show in various form and techniques:  pieced swirls, modern double wedding rings, applique and even finished border/binding.

4.  Triangles Throughout
Triangles were also found throughout the show, and not just limited to the EZ Quilting Triangle Challenge!
Triangles Throughout (top left to bottom right):  1. "Mod Mountains" by Susanne Williams 2. "Cut Diamonds" by Beth Shutty, 3. "Pointed Statement" by Amy Friend, 4. "Modern Dresden" by Lori Landenburger, 5. "Treetops" by Abigail Fuller, 6. "Diamond Quilts 2" by Tara Faughman, 7.  "Log Pyramid" by Linda Jankauskas
More Quilting Fun
Here are a few more cool quilts on display.
Fun Quilts (top left to bottom right):  1.  "The Color of Squares" by Juli Smith, 2. "Ephermera" by Jennifer Rossotti 3.  "Lots O'Dots" by Shari Cifaldi-Morrill, 4. "Value Does the Work" by Susan Hilsenbeck, 5.  "Flower Doodle" by Lindsey Neill
Lectures
While I did not sign up for any workshops, I did attend eight lectures/panels.  They were all around awesome and left me feeling inspired and rejuvenated.  My personal favorite was Christina Cameli's "How to Love Free Motion" which offered witty relationship advice!

I also attended a lecture offered by Pamela Weeks, Quilt Historian, presenting her research on the quilts made by Molly Upton.  Molly (1953-1977) created a body of work that was truly ahead of her time!  Unfortunately, her quilting career was tragically cut short when she committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.  Pamela conducted research about Molly's life, her body of work/inspiration and process.  Molly's family helped with the research, generously loaned Molly's quilts for the special exhibit and were in attendance at the lecture and convention.
Molly Upton Exhibit (top right clockwise):  Blades (1974), Construction (1975) and Alchemy (1976)
Takeaways
While I took away a lot of inspiration from both the quilts and lectures, I also left with a few physical keepsakes, thanks to all the wonderful vendors and exhibitors!!  While the exhibitors were not permitted to sell any fabric, they had lots of give aways you could win by participating in their fun games.  Aurifil had an entire quilted board game!  Roll the dice and if you landed on a winning quilt block, you walked away with different size spools of Aurifil thread!  Other booths had spinning wheels and even a game of Plinko!  Others had samples of their fabric including Grunge's Bar and  Northcott's Charm Pack for a new quilt challenge.  In addition to fabric samples, they also had buttons, necklaces and miniature english paper piecing kits.  Of course, I supplemented these fun takeaways with a few small fabric and book purchases from the participating vendors!
QuiltCon mementos for me and the girls
These goodies will help me continue to celebrate my adventures at QuiltCon and stay inspired for more modern quilt designs!

Thank you to all the QuiltCon organizers, volunteers, vendors/exhibitors, quilters and presenters for a truly memorable weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vacation Mode

This week's Project Quilting Season 7 theme was "I Need a Vacation."  I was super nervous that I wouldn't pull it off as, tomorrow, I  am leaving for my own mini vacation:  QuiltCon West!!

Fusible applique to the rescue...starting with this fun fabric pull:  lime green, teal and raspberry!
Fused Fabric Palette Ready for Inspiration to Strike
With less than 24 hours until takeoff, I began to cut out a variety of organic shapes to create this festive cactus wonderland!  I had so much fun incorporating a variety of fabric textures:  stripes, plaids, florals, spirals and dots!  They were enhanced with a variety of free motion filling motifs adding yet another fun layer of texture.
Detail of Cactus Stitches
Most of my vacations tend to be Staycations--which I love, as it means I can quilt away!  But one day, I hope to plan a vacation in the Southwest.  Until then, my little Cactus Garden will suffice!
"Staycation Hot Pots" 16" x 21"

Monday, February 15, 2016

Zip It!

Back in January, I treated myself to a birthday treat:  a class on making zippered pouches.  For the class, we used the Becca Bags pattern, which I found to be well written with easy to follow illustrations and instructions.  The Becca Bags utilize only half of a zipper.  Yes--you actually cut up and pull apart the zipper and use only one side for your zipper!  With the additional of an extra zipper pull, you can make two pouches with only one zipper!      

But wait...there's more!  The pattern has instructions for making two different sizes of pouches, so you get double the fun!  I just had to make a companion bag for each of the larger bags.  

The Simpsons' pouches made for a fun Valentine's Day gift for Doug.  They were perfect for holding more Valentine's gifts:  chocolates, post it notes and of course, Legos!  I can't wait to whip up some more of these zipper pouches for family, friends and perhaps myself!?!    

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Square in a Square Block Modern Makeover: Ninja Star

The Square in a Square block was the focus of this month's "Everything Old Is New Again Block and Quilt Challenge," sponsored by Modern Quilts Unlimited.
Collection of Blocks at the Halfway Point
Last month was the half way mark, and I took the opportunity to evaluate all the blocks made thus far for unity.  The two blocks in the left column were made earlier in the series and used lots of 90-degree angles vs. mostly diagonal lines and rays featured in the other four blocks' designs.  I used this month's block design as an opportunity to design a block that would bridge the gap and add to the overall collection.
Auditioning Different Colorways
Starting with the basic Square in a Square block, I incorporated an inner wrap around border from the North, South, Geese, West block with the colorway of my Dealer's Choice block (which did not get its own posting).  I think it is a beautiful block on its own and really helps create cohesion among all the blocks made so far.  I will continue to use previous blocks to guide new designs, as well as start thinking about the final quilt layout!!
Ninja Star
You can vote for Ninja Star online (with a facebook account) today through 2/14 (hint hint).   

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Project Quilting "It's All About That Thread": Mystical Mandala

This week's Project Quilting Season 7 Challenge was "It's All About That Thread."  Immediately, I knew I wanted to create a whole cloth mandala quilt.  Within a day or two, I had my quilt sandwich basted and ready for quilting with solid black for my quilt top and solid white for the backing.  Freezer paper and a compass were used to draft up the rings and lines as the foundation for my mandala, and my acrylic plastic/whiteboard markers were used to audition various free motion filler designs and motifs.  An assortment of Aurifil threads were selected to create a gradation from white/yellow in the center, out to orange, red, pink, purple and finally my green leaves.

Several days lapsed, as I wasn't 100% sure of my design or exact process.  I kept trying to assure myself that once I got started with the quilting that I would find my zen and the design would just flow.  Sure enough, once I got started Friday morning, my mandala just blossomed.  Only the center circle was marked with chalk.  Otherwise, I relied on elements from my design and the freezer paper templates to hit various marks as I free motion quilted various designs.  Before starting each ring, I would sketch out a few ideas, but as I began to quilt, new ideas would often arise and so my initial design certainly evolved as I went along.
Watching My Mandala Bloom Ring By Ring
I found the entire process very meditative, up until the very end!  After taking a dinner break Friday night, I returned to my studio to find a "Fatal Error" message flashing on the screen of my Bernina with several lines breaking up the screen!  Panic set in as I powered it off, and hoped it was just a temporary glitch.  I experienced a very similar glitch this past summer, requiring the replacement of the screen and ultimately computer.  Fearing the worst, I made the decision to eliminate a 5th ring from my original design, as I was not sure how much longer my Bernina would continue to cooperate.  This turned out to be a very smart decision, as once I got to quilting the four corner leaves, the messages began to pop up at a faster rate and would require me to power off my machine and restart to resume quilting.  As soon as the quilting was complete, my machine was sent out for repairs, and I turned to my "Old Reliable," my Brother to add the label and binding!
From Doodles to Done!:  My Journal Practice Page to Reverse Side of Finished Quilt
Here is my finished "Mystical Mandala" whole cloth quilt.  A total of 11 colors of Aurifil 50 weight threads were used for my finished design!  I will be linking it up to the Project Quilting page, where online voting will start later today at 10 AM (PST) and continue through 2/12.  Be sure to vote for your favorites, as there are some really spectacular interpretations of this week's theme!!
"Mystical Mandala" Wholecloth Quilt, Finished 21" x 21"

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Canvas+Paint+Friend(s) & Wine=Paint Nite Fun!!

I've always been drawn to create art, and I especially enjoyed taking art classes in elementary and high school.  Unfortunately, my college studies limited my ability to continue my art education.  This period was brief, as once I wrapped up my graduate work, I took up quilting.  And while quilting is certainly my main love, I also enjoy other creative outlets:  photography, cooking, mosaics, beading, drawing, etc.  So when I learned about Paint Nite from my friend Tami, I was immediately intrigued and ready to give it a try!  Fortunately, it did not take much convincing for Tami to be my date, and we had an absolute blast!!  

Paint Nite is a relatively new trend here in the San Jose area, combining the creativity of painting, affording attendees the opportunity to check out the cuisine and cocktails at various local hot spots.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by our host and Paint Nite Artist, Fuqua Duarte, who was just all around amazing!!  He provided the table cloths, aprons, canvas, easels, brushes, paint, rinse stations and most importantly, a mini Shamwow to dry off our brushes between use!!  
Canvas-check!  Paint-check!  Brushes-check!  Wine-check! We Are Now Ready to Paint!
Tami had attended several Paint Nites and said Fuqua was the best yet!  His outgoing personality and humor certainly paved the way for an entertaining and relaxing 2+ hours!!  Last night's artwork featured a cherry blossom tree with a full moon backdrop.  And while he guided us through the process of creating the background, foreground and little details along the way, he also encouraged the rebels amongst the group, such as Tami, to explore alternative colorways and designs.  I changed the orientation of my canvas to landscape and painted mountains for my midground, instead of the urban landscape of skyscraper buildings.  Tami opted to also skip the cityscape and created lovely red and orange flowers, as she is not a fan of the color pink.  At the half-time break, Fuqua encouraged us to walk around and check out at our fellow attendees' creations!  While we all received the same instruction and supplies, I was really impressed to see quite a bit of variety:  orange moons, detailed buildings, a pagoda building and my personal favorite:  a solid, pale blue background with one large pink lotus flower in the center!  Yup--this one attendee skipped the moon, dark sky and tree branches and really made an original work of art!!    
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night of Painting and Having Fun!!  This Is My In-Progress Pic Taken at Half Time Break
After the break, we were ready to add our cherry blossoms and any other final details.  Fuqua even demonstrated how to paint cat and owl silhouettes, for those wishing to add some night creatures to their scene.
Adding Blooms to My Masterpiece
This was a super fun experience and I can't wait to attend another Paint Nite event!  If you've never experienced the fun of attending a Paint Nite, I highly encourage you to check it out (hint-hint:  there are a number of significant discounts offered through Groupon and Living Social).
The Fun of Paint Nite May Be Over, but I Have My Souvenir of A Truly Fun Evening with Tami!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Beating the Winter Blues with a Dye Party

At a recent quilt meeting, I spied some beautiful hand dyed fabric being used by a fellow guild member.  I struck up a conversation about hand dyed fabrics, which led to coordinating a dye party date!!  We've been getting quite a bit of rain (which is much needed here in San Jose) and accompanying dreary skies.  An infusion of hand dyed color was the perfect cure for the San Jose Winter Blues!

We had some email exchanges leading up to the dye party to coordinate dates/times and supplies.  She makes beautiful landscape quilts, and was hoping to work with a palette of colors she could incorporate into her artwork, including blues, greens and...browns!  Luckily, two recent quilt finishes, Rainbow Geode and Seasonal ReLEAF, had helped me overcome my aversion to the color brown.   Even more surprising, was the fact that I had two different brown dyes in my stash thanks to two sample kits gifted by Doug:  rootbeer and rust!  Below are some of the fat quarters created yesterday that incorporate either the rootbeer and/or rust dyes!
Brown is Beautiful!!
Looking at these lovely pieces, I am really learning to appreciate the color brown in all its beauty, and dare I say it...perhaps starting to love brown?!?

We also created several gradations of blue dye by varying the amount of dye added to get dark to light values, as well as incorporating black dye.  Below are some of the fat quarters made using fabric scrunching, featuring various shades of blue dye, including an ombre (top row, third from the left).   I especially love some of the arcs created by feeding the fabric into the container starting at one corner.
Beating the Winter Blues with Hand Dyed Fabrics
We also did some fabric manipulations including clamping and shibori dying (wrapping the fabric around a cylinder/PVC pole and tying it with rubberbands or string, before scrunching.)  I love the look and easy of scrunched fabrics, which are my go to when dyeing fabric.  But its nice to add different textures through different fabric manipulations.
More Beautiful Texture Through Fabric Manipulations:  Shibori on both ends and Plastic Discs Clamped in the Center
Towards the end of our dye party, we had some leftover stock made up.  So we mixed things up a bit with some warm color dyes:  amethyst, magenta, orange, golden yellow (and remaining rootbeer/rust dye).  This combination produced some gorgeous pieces!
The Party Was Warming Up!
I am looking forward to incorporating some of these lovelies into future quilts!  And I recently ordered a new bolt of PFD fabric, and can't wait to schedule my next Dye Party!!