Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Exciting Quilt Updates

Lots of exciting updates on the quilting front to share...

"Thunderstruck" was selected as one of ten finalists for the Riley Blake Creative Rockstar Fabric Challenge!!  With over 200 submissions, I am just honored!!!  Be sure to check out the winning quilts and fabulous finalists. 
Thunderstruck
A few days later, I learned that my "RE$I$TAN¢E" was one of 62 quilts juried into the Threads of Resistance Traveling Exhibit.  Given the sheer number of entries (500+) and the high caliber of entries, I am truly honored to be included in this dynamic display.  It will be heading off to the New England Quilt Museum for the July 15th Opening Reception.  In October, the entire exhibit will make its way to the Santa Clara Convention Center for Pacific International Quilt Festival, so I will get to see it in person!!  Be sure to check out the travel schedule to find a venue near you.    
RE$I$TAN¢E

Last but not least, I entered my latest Mod Mola, "Spring Has Sprung" into two online quilt challenges.  Both challenges incorporate an online voting process for family & friends (hint-hint).  You are cordially invited to VOTE for "Spring Has Sprung" and/or your favorite entries using the links below:

  • 2017 Pantone Color of the Year Quilt Challenge (Mini Quilts Category, Linky Party #19)
    Voting will stay open until 10 PM PST on Friday, June 2nd.  You may vote for your favorite in each category (Quilts, Mini Quilts and Just the Tops).  To vote, simply click on the heart in the corner of the thumbnail photo.  Remember, one vote per category so choose wisely!!  
  • Project Quilting "May I?" Challenge (Linky Party #1)
    Voting is open and you can vote for your 4 favorites.  To vote, simply click on the heart in the corner of the thumbnail photo.  

Spring Has Sprung
And I've got more exciting quilting updates on the horizon...so stay tuned!!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Slice of Improv Love from Las Vegas!!

It's hard to believe that a little over a year ago is when I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue a career as a fiber artist, teacher & lecturer.  My family and friends had been nudging me in this direction for several years but it was an email from the Las Vegas Quilters that jumpstarted me into this new world of teaching and lecturing about my love of quilting.  After my fun October visit, I was delighted to be invited back to teach a Slice of Improv workshop.

My travel adventures began in the San Jose Mineta airport which included a range of sights and sounds (top left clockwise):  hanging eCloud dynamic sculpture featuring polycarbonate tiles that dance overhead, triangle designs along an airport fitness area, an interactive robot that breaks out into music every few minutes and a fun carpet design that was a great preview of my upcoming Slice of Improv workshop...
San Jose Airport Signs & Sounds
Slice of Improv is such a fun workshop for me to teach.  Everyone shows up with a fun assortment of scraps and we dive right in to improvisational fun!!
Scrap Happy!!
Usually I start out the workshop guaging everyone's experience and comfort with improvisational designs.  This time around there were only 2-3 quilters who had tried improvisational piecing with the majority of attendees taking their first foray into improvisation!!   I was so impressed with everyone's sense of adventure in trying out the variuos techniques and variations!!  They were truly fearless as they tackled intersections, pi shapes, wedges, curves, slice & shuffle and more!!!
Slice of Adventures into Improv!!!
Their guild's photographer, Melodie G, stopped by to snap some action shots from the day which she so kindly permitted me to post.
Slice of Improv Demonstrations
As the day progressed, everyone's collections of blocks started to grow in both number and interest!!  Quite a few were well on their way to having enough blocks to assemble a crib/wall sized quilt!!
Preview of Improv Quilts in Progress by Phyllis & Nancy
Sue R, the workshop coordinator, brought two gorgeous pieces of hand dyed/batik fabrics which she managed to create two mini quilts by the end of the day!  You can see her blocks in progress (top left), which she then cropped to feature the X intersections for her Ten X miniature (right).  She then used all the sections cropped out of her blocks for a companion piece (bottom left).
Finished Improv Mini's by Sue R
We had a few hours to spare before my return flight to San Jose, which was perfect for popping into Sew Yeah quilt shop which was conveniently having a sale on all prints and then off to the Bellagio to check out their Conservatory & Botanical Garden newest "Japanese Spring" display.  This stunning exhibit incorporates 65,000 flowers including foxgloves, tulips, Calla Lilies, roses and more!!  
Turtle Topiary
Chihuly's Glass Sculptures & Colorful Flowers
 The main attraction is the large Kabuki character that stands 28 feet high and 35" in length and is completely covered in preserved roses and hydrangeas!!!
Kabuki Character
Some other highlights from my Las Vegas adventure includes an introduction to gold mining, compliments of my host family, Phyllis & Bill.  I was so enthralled in learning about the process & seeing the tools in action, that we almost forgot about dinner!!  And then a small taste of Las Vegas as I waited for boarding to completing some hand binding to the electric glow of the slot machines tucked throughout the Las Vegas airport terminals!!
Only in Las Vegas!!
What a lovely Las Vegas visit!!  I was delighted to receive several emails from the Las Vegas Quilters, several of which included pictures of their in-progress Slice of Improv blocks & projects (many thanks for the email updates and persmission to include photos Rickie, Del, Nancy & Melody!!)  I was especially touched to receive a thank you card containing a personalized mini quilt featuring a Slice of Pi block made by Sue R!!
Slice of Las Vegas Love!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spring Has Sprung Mod Mola

These past few weeks have been a total whirlwind as I've got a number of projects in the works.  Two projects on my radar involved two quilt challenges:


Given my limited bandwidth, I chose to create one quilt that meets both quilt challenge guidelines.  This is not cheating...it's being resourceful!!  ;-)

My morning walk abouts helped to inspire this spring-time scene inspired by the saying "April showers bring May flowers."  A garden scene featuring 3 flower pots, each containing some springtime blooms was free-motion stitched onto a greenery solid backdrop.  Instead of marking out my design, I created two templates out of contact paper for the flower centers along with some blue painter's tape to outline my flower pots.  Everything else was truly free-motion quilted.
Before and After
While I was rather pleased with my wholecloth quilted scene...it was time to transform it with some crayon-etched/modern mola magic.  That meant taking a deep breath before brandishing my trusty seam ripper along with curved tip embroidery snips to carefully remove portions of the solid greenery fabric to reveal a secret layer of colorful and pattern fabrics layered beneath the surface.  The first cut is always the scariest...but once the hidden layer is revealed, I couldn't wait to cut out the next section!!  Lucky for you that I managed to show some restraint to slow down and capture some pictures of the progress so you too can witness the transformation.
Captivating Coneflowers
Dazzling Daisy
Radiant Rose
 As I did not mark out my design in advance, there was a small gap next to my daisy.  This created the perfect opportunity to add a friendly fauna to my design by stitching in a butterfly.
Beautiful Butterfly  
Spring Inspired Aurifil Threads to Help My Garden Bloom with Color & Texture
Fun Quilt Back Featuring this Garden Inspired Print
"Spring Has Sprung" finishes  27" x 21" 
There is more mod mola magic on the horizon!  Until then, I would like to wish you a very colorful and happy Spring!!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Moonlit Mandala

In continuation of my mandala series, I experimented with hand dyeing my own mandalas.  I was excited by the results and couldn't wait to add quilted texture and transform them into a wholecloth quilt.  Unfortuantely, these plans got put on the backburner in order to meet pending deadlines and teaching engagements.
Hand Dyed Mandala Waiting Its Turn
Recently I experienced a particularly difficult incident that completely consumed my morning and drained both my attention and my energy.  After losing an entire morning trying to make sense of the incident, I soon realized that I needed to regain control over my day and I headed to the studio in search of a distraction.  There, I found this hand dyed mandala which I had just recently pin basted into a quilt sandwich.

A few minutes were spent auditioning threads and then I just jumped into the quilting process.  Starting in the very center, I would study the patterns created by the fabric dyeing process and used the designs as my guide.  Zero marking!!  Almost immediately, I felt the tension of the morning release out through my fingertips.  The meditative nature of this particular project consumed my full attention as I watched the stitched design emerge.  In less than 2-3 hours I had 75% of my quilt top completely stitched and I felt renewed, empowered and creative.  The next morning I woke up excited for a fresh start and completed the last of the quilting.
Quilt Back Featuring Light Grey Aurifil on Kona Solid
For the quilt front, I chose a metallic thread to add some much needed sparkle and bling to my hand dyed mandala.  A light grey Aurifil thread was used in the binding, which really pops against the solid Kona quilt back!
Moonlit Mandala, Finishes 22" x 22"
A raspberry pink striped print added one last pop of color while framing the entire mandala.

Angela Walter's is infamous for her "Quilting is my therapy" mantra, and this wholecloth quilted mandala was the perfect therapy for me.  While I hope the worst is past, I have a few more hand dyed mandalas prepared for a future rainy day!
Future Quilting Therapy
I will be teaching a 2-day "Magnificent Mandalas" workshop as part of an Alaskan Quilt & Cruise July 5-15, 2018.  To learn more, please visit my teaching calendar.  Typically the cruise deposit is $100 per person, but coming up on May 22nd (one day only), the deposit will be only $1!!  I hope you will consider joining this once in a lifetime adventure!!

Monday, May 15, 2017

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles 40th Anniversary Kick Off Celebration

Last Sunday was the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles 40th Anniversary Celebration kick off.  The staff put together a fun & festive line up of activities including tours, trunk shows, live music and interactive make and take projects.  

I was stationed in the main hallway at the Mini Quilt station where attendees could create their very own mini quilted masterpiece.  The museum staff did a great job of kitting up all the supplies:  a rainbow of felt background squares, assortment of fabric scrapes and tulle netting to make it an official quilt with 3 layers!  Once their composition was complete, the artist brought their artwork over to Martine and I, who then proceeded to add quilted texture.  I attempted to keep track of all the fabulous mini quilts that I worked on...but got distracted by all the creative energy and lively conversations!  If I had to guess, I would guestimate that I quilted somewhere between 30-40 mini quilts during my 4 hour shift.  The time flew by as I had so much fun engaging with each artist as I inquired about their masterpiece and answered questions about quilting.  The best part about this activity was how it appealed to all ages, males & females alike!  Who could resist playing with fabric and creating an original masterpiece?!?    
Sample of Quilted Masterpieces
Luckily I arrived before the festivities kicked off, as it gave me a chance to check out some of the amazing exhibits that are on display.  Two galleries contained quilts from the Modern Quilt Guild travelling exhibit.
Top (left to right):  Breathe by Leanne Chahley, Modern X by Christa Watson and Eichler Homes by Mickey Beebe (quilted by Tami Levin who lives in the Silicon Valley area); Bottom (left to right):  Half Square Triangles 2015 by Tara Faughnan, Indie by Phoebe Harrell and Collection by Carolyn Friedlander
There was so much to love about this exhibit:  negative space, clean lines, minimalist designs and fun color combinations.  I was especially drawn in by some of the amazing modern quilting motifs.
Blobarella by Hillary Goodwin
Bauble by Emily Cier, Quilted by Angela Walters
Another gallery contained an exhibit entitled Three Left Coast Artists:  Linda Gass, Linda Macdonald & Gyongy Laky.  Each artist addresses different political issues through their artwork.
Top to Bottom:  Linda Gass, Gyong Laky and Linda Macdonald
Such a fun day filled with quilting inspiration and conversation!  I hope you get a chance to check out the current exhibits and be sure to check out the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles website and facebook page for more 40th Anniversary events and programs!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Intriguing Interleaves at Bay Quilts

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of teaching Intriguing Interleaves at Bay Quilts, a fabulous quilt shop located in Richmond, CA.  Bay Quilts has a beatiful classroom that is filled with natural light and has a birds eye view of the amazing selection of fabrics!!

There I welcomed 11 new Intriguing Interleaves Inductees.  Such a fun and adventurous group of women...and an equally fun range of fabrics & color combinations...
Sherbert Brights (and the First toFinish!!)
Asian Inspired Prints & Batiks
Striped and Dotted Batiks!
Bright Batik, Organic Stripes and Solids
Metallic Accents that Sparkle
Jewel Inspired Batiks
Southwest Tones (including an organic stripe in lieu of a strip set)
Gem Stone Inspired Prints
Bold Colors
Springtime Solids
Black & White Prints with Pops of Bright Colors & Ombres
For those of you who have yet to visit Bay Quilts...I will be back to teach another round of Intriguing Interleaves on Saturday, July 15th!  Be sure to sign up before this workshop sells out!!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Threads of RE$I$TAN¢E

When the Threads of Resistance call for art was first announced in early February, I experienced a range of emotions:
  • Thankful for having an artistic outlet to channel my concerns with the current administration and policies.
  • Overwhelmed by the list of issues to address, as there were 23 themes listed and this was just 2-3 weeks into the new presidency! 
  • Uncertainty and trepidation as to how best to convey my viewpoints while also staying true to my artistic style.
  • Vulnerability and fear, especially after I witnessed some of the malicious comments (several from fellow fiber/quilt artists) that were directed towards members of the Artist Circle for mounting an exhibit in protest of Trump and his Administration.
  • Courage and hope, thanks to the strength and composure of the Artist Circle, overwhelming support from the online community and my own small quilt group (several of which worked on their own entry submissions).
Much of my growing frustration with the current administration is their tendency to side with dollars vs. data and put their own greed before the need of Americans.  So while I was researching images of money, I started to see images of dollar bills folded into hearts and stars.  Intrigued by this idea, I did a quick Pinterest search which revealed hearts, stars, ties, guns, animals, guns and letters all folded out of $1 bills!  Interestingly, I had recently watched Nova's "Origami Revolution," a fascinating documentary about scientists and engineers who were applying origami techniques into medicine, microrobotics and space exploration.  Bitten by the origami bug, I went to work searching for shapes that would tie in with Trump's Administration.  I focused on mostly 2-D shapes that would lie flat within my quilt vs. the 3-D shapes which would create a challenge for both the quilt construction as well as safe shipping as part of a travelling exhibit.
Billfold
I must warn you that origami, especially using $1 bills is way more tricky than it looks!  And it is entirely possible that I may have uttered some choice 4-letter words during the folding of these shapes.  Some of the instructions found online were difficult to understand and follow.  Luckily, I was able to find some helpful resources both online and through our local libraries:  
Video tutorials were the easiest to follow, especially when they used an actual $1 bill so the viewer could identify reference points for folding.  But even then, there were some sections that I would need to watch, and rewatch multiple times before figuring out a particular folding technique.  I should also note that while my mother was visiting, she helped to fold several of the shapes including the fish, guitar, house and the lower half of the female symbol.

Crisp, uncirculated dollar bills are ideal...but unfortunately my bank did not have any available this time of the year.  But the bank tellers were very nice and went through their drawers in search of the newest and crispest dollar bills!  As some of these shapes took multiple attempts, some of my dollar bills lost that crisp finish.  Turns out that it is safe to iron your dollar bills...which is truly a unique experience!!!
Money Laundering

I researched the rules & regulations with regards to using US Currency in artwork starting with the US Department of Treasury website which outlines the laws and regulations related to the use, image use, reproduction defacement and associated fines/imprisonment for violations.  While I was passionate about my creative vision, I was not ready to pay a fine and/or go to jail.  So I did what any law-abiding citizen would do and I emailed the US Treasury department introducing myself as a fiber artist working on a new piece and requesting a one-time persmission to incorporate $40-60 of US currency into my piece.  I also let them know that I did not plan on selling the piece or making any profit but simply to express my artistic view point.  Much to my surprise, I received a prompt email response...albeit not the response I had hoped for...   
Ms. Beach: 
Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code. Under this provision, currency defacement is generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. 
Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service. Please address your inquiry to the United States Secret Service web address at www.secretservice.gov. 
Thank you,
BEP
Moneyfactory.gov

So much for that plan!!  Interestingly, there are several artists who are creating amazing artwork using US Currency, some of which is on display within the Pentagon!:
So I looked for alternate construction techniques to express my artistic viewpoint without risking jail time and/or paying a hefty fine.  After exploring a few different possibilities, I opted to use tulle netting to layover my quilt and use stitching around each of the shapes to effectively encase the dollar bills into the quilt.  Now that the construction was sorted out, I needed to finalize my layout and design.

As you can see below, I explored a variety of compositions.  Several were scrapped because they were too busy or didn't allow enough space for the origami shapes to take center stage.  I briefly explored using some colorful fabric, but opted for the green and white effect of the dollar bills.
Throw Money Around
I liked the heart concept but needed to scale it down to make room for the wall and origami shapes.  I also played around with the orientation of my layout.  The left one is more of a portrait orientation and left for very little negative space.  So the next morning I woke up and rotated it 90-degress and liked it soo much better!!
Pressed for Money
I used painter's tape to hold the various shapes into place before placing a grey tulle netting over the entire surface.  Lots and lots of safety pins were used to baste and stabilize the quilt for quilting.  I started by outline stitching all the bricks and origami shapes using Aurifil 50weight thread in black.  Great care was taken not to accidentally stitch through the dollar bills.

For the background, I considered quilting in a variety of quotes and messages related to each of the miniature scenes.  Again, I did not want to detract from the $1 bills and scaled back to include one quote that wrapped around the large heart.  I auditioned four different Aurifil threads:

  • red, white and blue variegated
  • solid red
  • solid white
  • green/white variegated
The red thread was difficult to read against the black background.  The green variegated was interesting but seemed more military vs. currency.  I really liked the red, white and blue variegated.  Once again, I was drawn to the high contrast of the dollar bills against the black backdrop and chose the all white thread in keeping with this high contrast design.

Thread Auditions
I printed out the quote using a large font that somewhat represented my own handwriting.  I cut it up and wrapped the words all the way around the heart.  I used the blue painter's tape to reserve space for my stitching and taped the paper copy directly above as a reference for spacing and spelling.  Once the painter's tape was removed, I was left with a channel of space to stitch the quote in one continuous line.  
"Patriotism means to stand by the country.  It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country."  Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States 
Aurifil black was used to stitch a zig zag meander throughout the unquilted background.  Various threads and embroidery floss were used to add some quilted details:
  • fumes and bubbles rising out of the beaker and test tube
  • tassel for the graduation mortor board (with some red embroidery floss for the diploma ribbon)
  • syringe needle for vaccinations
  • wind spirals for the wind mills
  • bubbles for the fish

Money Embellishment
In case you were wondering...there are 67 $1 bills used in this design.  Some of my quilting friends have joked that I will need to make arrangements for an armored car to transport this quilt!  I am reminded of the saying:  "Put your money where your mouth is!"
"RE$I$TAN¢E," finishes 39"x 34"
The online entry process required a photograph of both the finished quilt as well as a detail shot, along with as an Artist Statement which I chose to include a letter addressed to Donald Trump:
Dear Donald Trump, 
American citizens are speaking out to express our significant concerns with regards to your administration and policies.  To date, we’ve mailed postcards and letters, made phone calls, communicated with our United States Senators and Congressional Representatives, signed petitions and organized rallies and marches—all of which have been dismissed by you and your administration.  Since you’d rather think like a billionaire than act like a public servant, let’s utilize the one item that has consistently received your attention:  Money, Money, MONEY!! 
Now that I have your attention, I would like to express my profound disapproval of your determination to build a Wall along the US/Mexico border.  Not only will this place a huge financial burden on those who actually pay federal taxes, but it will do little to address illegal immigrants from entering the United States.  Instead, let’s reallocate more of the federal budget into programs and policies that will truly make America Great (top left to right, counterclockwise)
·         Establish Immigration policies that provide a safe space to refugees fleeing from war-torn countries, for immigrants who wish to rebuild their lives and positively contribute to our country, much as our ancestors have done throughout our history (Statue of Liberty)
·         Acknowledge and support scientific inquiry and research (Beaker and Test Tube)
·         Build bridges and partner with world leaders to work towards world peace rather than bully other nations (Peace Sign)
·         Support our veterans by creating job opportunities, affordable housing and insurance for those who have given so much to our country (Star)
·         Invest in quality primary and secondary education, so that we can empower our youth and develop leaders (Mortar Cap, Gown and Diploma)
·         Provide affordable health insurance for all Americans (Vaccination, First Aid and Heart)
·         Protect LGBTQA rights and provide equal access to marriage (Paper dolls depicting gay couple and transgender)
·         Create affordable housing (House)
·         Celebrate and fund the Arts including music, visual, performance and literature (Guitar, Music Note & Painting)
·         Preserve our environment and natural resources, including our waterways, air quality and wildlife (Fish and Tree)
·         Respect women’s rights, our right to choose and equal pay (Dress, Uterus & Female Symbol).
·         Invest in renewable energy (Windmill) 
As Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed, “Patriotism means to stand by the country.  It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country.” 
The country is speaking up and I truly hope you will listen and start standing by the country and its citizens vs. your own self-interests, your family, the Trump organization, your business associates, and other questionable affiliations. 
Sincerely,
Mel Beach
A Proud Registered Voter who is eagerly awaiting the 2020 Presidential Election