New Tricks for an Old Dog

Well, now that its the first day of February, I will wish you a Happy New Year. ūüôā I keep meaning to re-start but realize how much of a perfectionist I am and how that really hinders me. I sat down to journal why in the world I haven’t been here! ¬†And came with all sorts of excuses.

Reasons I came up with: can’t show some of my work right now, haven’t been taking enough quality photos and lastly, I feel busy but boring. And I realize how ridiculous that is. I had a fine week filled with a workshop I jumped into at the last minute for 2 days, a blizzard, dyeing a large quilt backing, a husband who has been gone skiing for 5 days, and this overwhelming urge to organize. ¬†And I had critique with a long lost friend and dinner with my niece who is a young artist. So exciting for me, but maybe not so for you?

Anyhow, I did indeed purge my studio last month.

clean sweep of the desk

clean sweep of the desk

 

I can now see my desk and my photos I take on my little Selphy printer are all ready to be filed away. I have sat at this desk and actually sketched this past week and did some printing of inspirational photos for my journal. One of my new goals for the year is to use my sketchbook for more than just pasting photos and notes in . I got a swanky new  to me lateral file so I am dreaming of my profound organizational skills I will have this year. Yup,  you can smile .

 

I am dyeing some backing fabrics for finishing. I wasn’t sure how my white sink would like this but it fared ok.

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never buy into the color when its wet

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And I wanted a white sink for what reason?

 

Bummer about the large hole in the first piece. It was too light of a color so I will darken it up after I cut out the hole. I had ordered extra wide Kona for the first time to save me from piecing the backs. So much for that great idea.

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I also jumped into a workshop sponsored by the WMQG this past week. It was a 2 day long machine quilting class and featured the wonderful Harriet Hargrave. I took this same class 20 years ago and am not sure at that point if I heard anything at all. I was recently having such a time with my free motion quilting skills and the George and getting kind of desperate to improve-quickly and quietly. This workshop was absolutely the right thing to do. The amount of information I had wrong or was just ignorant about was AMAZING.

new edition chock full of information

new edition chock full of information

Needles , thread and just plain technique. I had been a walking foot girl for so long and what I was doing had been working for me.

tried and true walking foot although I would never mark a thing

tried and true walking foot although I would never mark a thing

I guess when I jumped into free motion quilting, I never took time to stop and understand how it was different. And a call to APQS helped me fix George’s problems that I had been struggling with for about a month now. I should have called sooner.

free motion quilting needs work

free motion quilting needs work

Harriet was forthright and adamant that you need to learn the skills. And then you can do whatever it takes to make it yours. I really needed this kick in the pants to practice before I jump into the next quilt. So, if you forgo a workshop because you “should” already know the information, think again. You are coming at the information from an entirely different vantage point. Or you haven’t done the practice. Harriet won’t be teaching for much longer so take advantage of her knowledge while you can . If she comes close to where you, sign up and you won’t regret it.

I generally take the lifelong learner phrase to heart. I am indeed a lifelong learner and find it rewarding  to stretch.

Nice to catch up.

 

Around the World Blog Hop

What a nice way to finish up the year with an Around the World Blog Hop! I will jump right in and answer the questions for you.

What am I working on? 

Well, ¬†December for me is traditionally a month for making gifts for others, ¬†doing some charity quilts and finishing binding or sleeves . The holidays make things busy at our house so I use this time to clear up and clean up the studio to start fresh next year and jump back in to work right away on December 26th or 27th. I am working in a new series called “Time Fragments” which involves my hand dyed fabrics and line work. I can hardly wait to get back to it.

I am also working on machine quilting an improvisational sampler that I made for a class that will teach in January at a new sewing studio called Stitched Studios. I haven’t work with commercial prints in eons so this was a bit of a challenge for me. And I separated all the sections out with sashing so the students could see the different techniques.

improv sampler for a class

improv sampler for a class

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Improv class sampler, 72×72

Not at all what I am use to doing, but I am super excited to teach again. I feel a sense of responsibility to teach others this craft so they , hopefully, have a desire to create art of their own.

Why do I create what I do?

I love the feel of the fabric. I love the texture of the stitch on the fabric whether it be sewn by hand or machine.¬†I love the definitive cut of my ruler to design. I even like the gratification of a frustrating piece that I seemingly unlock the puzzle of. ¬†And the color -oh the applying of the color onto the fabric with dyes-it just really does it for me! I can’t stop and its a part of who I am -my hands, my heart and my discerning eye all coming together to create a quilt. Nothing better-other than my family, of course.

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I make abstract improvisational quilts which you can see in my website gallery here. ¬†I consider my work ¬†part of the abstract improvisational genre of studio art quilts so my work has some of the same characteristics of those who have taught me. I am proud of that. But, at the same time, I am a “young” artist seeking my own voice amidst the crowds. ¬† I have been quietly working away in silence the past year to have a strong and courageous voice that I can shout from any mountain top . ¬†I think I may just have found “me” in this quiet phase of working silently – fine line work interspersed ¬†with large shapes and bold colors. I am working in a new series called “Time Fragments” and I am wildly excited about it. For now, I am not doing much sharing of it but I will show you when I have lots of work finished .

How does my creative process work?

I usually start with a photograph or a simple sketch as an inspiration and pick a pallete of colors I would like to work with.

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Then I free hand cut and sew what I call elements and make each piece as beautiful as I can.

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I place a few elements on my design wall , move them around incessantly and obsessively until I have a broader vision of what the larger composition will be like .

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And then lots of sewing occurs sewing even more elements together. I may have 2 or 3 pieces in process at one time. If I get stuck on one piece , then the other one is up in cue. There is always a piece in process. Finally, a new composition is made after many hours of design.

Rooflines #14  which needs facing yet

Rooflines #14 awaiting facing

To get all theses wonderful saturated colors, I dye my own fabrics.

Processing the fabric in the barn

Processing the fabric in the barn

I spend the summer hand dyeing my fabrics so I have a stockpile of fabrics to work with during the cold winter months. I absolutely love this part of the process. When the dye hits the fabric and you now have color- it just really jazzes me up to spend hours in the hot sun creating such beautiful color. Isn’t that how all people spend their summers?

Lighter neutrals on the line

Lighter neutrals on the line

The entire process of making a quilt in this improvisational manner has become a very cyclical and rewarding process for me.

 

How does this blog hop work?

I was recently tagged by Maria Shell.

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Maria Shell

Maria and I initially met at the Crow Barn and have taken several classes there together. The last class involved lots of laughs at night and much hard work for 2 weeks. She did a fantastic job of sharing who she is as an artist and how she creates-prolifically and without any holds barred- Maria produces lots of beautiful art. Thank you Maria, my friend!

Now, I will tag 2 artists whose work I admire. And they will answer the same 4 questions and tag  a new artist or two for you to discover.

1. ¬†Beth Berman :¬†I have been following Beth Berman’s blog titled Sewsewart¬†for many years. She is relentless and brave in trying new surface design techniques and is very generous in sharing her process. I can only imagine her fabric stash as each piece of fabric is really beautiful. I made a journal cover using her Best Ever book cover post here.

 

From Beth Berman's desk today

From Beth Berman’s desk today

tin book 17

From Beth Berman’s desk today

 

2. Barb Mortell : Barb and I also met at the Barn and she was my roommate for 2 weeks at the last Barn class. I have to admit I was worried about a roommate I have never met before. But I have found a lifelong friend in Barb.  Even though we live in different countries, we have kept in contact with each other and spurring the other on when the art gets hard.  Barb has a new love of making spoons which are very popular amongst the locals on Denman Island. Check her out at her blog House of Bug .

Barb Mortell's spoons

Barb Mortell’s spoons

Barb Mortell's piece titled Unruly

Barb Mortell’s piece titled Unruly

And they will answer the same 4 questions and tag a new artist or two for you to discover. If you trace backwards through this Hop, you really can learn about many artists, their processes and their art.

 

Just a Peek

I feel a bit off kilter this month.

I decided to jump in and say yes to the dress. No, I am already married.

Let’s start again. I decided to say yes to teaching a class at a local sewing shop¬†in the month of January¬†. I will be teaching a improv piecing class called Out of the Box¬†Improv and really look forward to getting others excited about improvisational cutting and design of modern quilts. For a long time, I have felt a little nudge to teach and really have missed the teaching portion of my previous physical therapy career. So in I jumped with 2 feet with no thought to the fact that it’s December and all the craziness that December brings with it.

I always underestimate the amount of work that teaching comes with but want to start strong with class samples and lessons. And I want to make the class my own and not rely on others information so I have been working carefully on the assignments.

I pieced the class sample last week and just the piecing took me about 40 hours. Now next up is the machine quilting. Here’s a peek of a section of it.

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Section of class sampler for Out of the Box Improv class

I used a Denyse Schmidt packet of” Hadley” fabric. I haven’t used commercial fabrics in eons and chose a vintage look. It was really hard for me not to use solids But I want them to be able to work with commercial prints and solids -so I had to do the same. ūüôā

Out Of My Box: Part 2

Last weekend I attended a workshop/ retreat called Camp Stitchalot. Two workshops were given while we were there which were optional to participate in. The first on Friday night was given by the lovely and sweet Carolyn Friedlander. I had the privilege of sitting across from her while I sewed and I came to appreciate getting to know her.

Carolyn taught us needle turn appliqué and gifted us a charm pack of her new fabric line, Doe,  soon to be released. We used her Aerial Grove pattern from her new book titled Savor Each Stitch.  She has a background in architecture and this background is definitely evident in her book which shows us her love of color and detail .

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I had fun setting my project up and basting them on. Very relaxing change of pace for me. I also really enjoyed sitting by a fire stitching with a group of women and doing some slow stitching that night. Late into the night. I haven’t done that in years!

 

Carolyn giving a trunk show

Carolyn giving a trunk show

 

Carolyn's trunk show

Carolyn’s trunk show

 

Carolyn Friedlander trunk show

Carolyn Friedlander trunk show

From the new book, the twenty or so quilts she has designed and made the last 2 years and her fabric lines, it is very obvious that Carolyn is a determined and talented teacher and modern quilter. I look forward to keeping up with her on her blog. Thanks Carolyn!

 

 

 

 

 

Out of My Box: Part One

I just returned from a four day sewing retreat with 34 women.  I had signed up for it just a short while ago when they had a spot open up thinking that November would be a great time to take a break from the studio and get out with the humans again. When Thursday rolled around and it was time to leave, I was really  nervous to go .

My husband asked me why and I casually replied they weren’t my peeps. I didn’t know one single person who was going. He looked at me like I was crazy. ¬†I went anyway. ¬†I was just plain curious to see why the “modern quilters” were having so much fun and what they were all about. I admit I knew several of them by stalking their blogs but had never even left a comment or interacted with any of them before. I liked what I saw on some of their blogs and wanted in on the buzz that surrounds modern quilting.

A few hours later I arrived at the destination, Camp Stitchalot at the Hankerd Inn.

Hankerd Inn

Hankerd Inn

I set up my table and I was wedged between Carolyn Friedlander and Sherri Lynne Woods who would be giving workshops throughout the weekend.  I thought I could remain mysterious and quietly sew and observe. No such luck given my location.

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In fact I sewed right next to the lovely and sweet Carolyn. ( My mess to the left slowly evolving and Carolyn’s neatness obvious on the right. ūüôā

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Bags made for us!

Bags made for us! .

The weekend welcome included a bag made especially for each of the campers by the woman on my left who assembled 30 of these bags on Thursday. She was one speedy and industrious sewist!!!! To the left of the bag are little charm squares of Carolyn’s new fabric line “Doe ” which we received for her class on Friday. I fell in love with the mark making illustrations on these fabrics . Really in love with it and it comes out very soon.

More about Carolyn’s work and class tomorrow.

 

 

Fall Wrap Up

 

IMG_0065I have had way too much fun this fall with all things art and otherwise. As a result, I have been less than attentive to this blog as two people have recently reminded me.  I think it is just like anything else you procrastinate with: the longer you put it off, the harder it is to return to it.  So I will try again.

I kicked off the fall with an entry into Artprize 2014.  It is always a whirlwind of excitement, social events surrounding art and of course, the art viewing. The art viewing experience alone  takes up hours of walking amidst the crowds to a destination and then viewing a portion of the 1700 plus entries. This year was no exception.

I was a part of the Cathedral Square venue  which had a great selection of artists and proves to be a growing destination site. 18,000 people passed through the doors to see art from 56 artists.

Some highlights –

 

Elizabeth Brandt‘s piece

Elizabeth Brandt's entry titled" Random Thoughts"

Elizabeth Brandt’s entry titled” Random Thoughts”

 

Blair Reinckman

Blair Rieckmann's "The Shortest Route

Blair Rieckmann’s “The Shortest Route

 

My entry

Rooflines #15, Colleen Kole ©2014

Rooflines #15, Colleen Kole ©2014

 

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Visitors viewing Elizabeth Brandt’s “Random Thoughts”

 

Kids education days which is my favorite part of the event.

Kids education days

Kids education days

I loved their silly questions. I loved their thought provoking questions . And I loved their open eyes and surprised look when I explained what I did. There is no better than than watching kids get excited about art. This is a significant perk for me in participating in Artprize.

 

Gail and Bill Baar came to spend a night and attend the artist opening at the DeVos Center. Gail had a primo spot there. I took them on a whirlwind 3 hour trip around and I exhausted all of us.

Gail Baar Colorforms

Gail Baar “Colorforms #55

It was great to catch up and we also snuck in a trip to Meijer Gardens before they left.

Gail and Bill at Meijer Gardens

Gail and Bill at Meijer Gardens

I was lucky enough to have an interview on a local radio station WGVSU and was fortunate to not say anything too silly. (Thanks Betsy for the opportunity!)  It was nerve racking but not as intimidating as I thought it would be. And then the icing on the cake was a photo in the Sunday paper of my little old piece that was a total surprise.

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In late September, I fulfilled my last duty as member to the workshop committee for my local guild, ¬†the West Michigan Quilt Guild. ¬†I was classroom monitor for the first day of Jacquie Gehrig‘s workshop titled ¬†” Slice and Insert Improvisations”. She is a kind, energetic and a “meet you where you” are kind of instructor. She is very passionate about the Modern Quilt Guild and a great ambassador for it. It’s no wonder she received Professional Teacher of the Year for 2014.

Jacquie Gehrig  workshop

Jacquie Gehrig workshop

Jaquie Gehrig workshop

Jaquie Gehrig workshop

October was filled with family. I had a quick trip to visit my daughter Hope in Iowa for parents weekend. I am proud of how hard she is working to make her way in the competitive pre-vet world.

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Lots of soccer games and my son Ben was named to the Olympic Development team which will mean trips to Sarasota, Phoenix and Costa Rica in the next 6 months.  Big news indeed but again he is such a hard working driven kid whose work is paying off.

Ben , my goalie man in mid-air

Ben , my goalie man in mid-air

We ended on a sad note with saying good bye to Grandpa and father-in-law Thurm . Death is always a lesson in appreciating the time we have today.  We will miss you Grandpa.

It has been marvelous fall filled with art, friends, family and the making of things.

 

 

 

 

Studio Shots

I haven’t wanted or been able to show you what I have been working on for a long time. So I struggle with exciting things to tell you about my process or my art happenings.

the state of things

the state of things

I am just hard at work work right now but I miss connecting with you.

So,  I will try something new here on this blog. I am going to institute  two regular postings. One will be simply studio shots and  thus,  title of the post will be : Studio Shots.  Not a very catchy title nor very original but I am really trying to get back to posting!  I take many photos which are simple but convey a moment of time I am trying to document in my studio.

from a tag sale

from a tag sale

My husband brought me this stash of books from a neighbor’s tag sale. What a sweet guy and I was jumping up and down when he gave them to me.

 

rocking in the studio with my music of choice today

rocking in the studio with my music of choice today

The second post will be titled: What’s Happening? I expect it to contain a really broad variety of topics : family fun stuff, events happening in¬†whatever town I happen to be in and all things Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is a pretty great town and I am really looking forward to Artprize 2014 beginning on Wednesday September 23rd. Wooho-let the fun begin! So there will be lots of new posts titled “What’s Happening? ” in the next few weeks.

Summer’s End: A Workshop, Lecture and an Exhibit Visit

Summer has ended with a return to warm temperatures and a big sigh of relief. I love the last few weeks when you have fully sunk into sleeping in and reading lots of useless novels. Haha-that didn’t happen round here and August has kept me busy and happy.

Highlights from the month:

1. After moving home from VT in early August, I packed my bags and went to a Nancy Crow workshop sponsored by the Muskegon Museum of Art. I had taken it before but signed up knowing that a little refresher is always good for you. The title of the class was Sets and Variables and the intention was to manipulate a “motif” you have made into various assignments.

Peek to the left and you can see the beautiful workspace!

Peek to the left and you can see the beautiful workspace!

The workshop was given in a recently renovated building in downtown Muskegon and I fell in love with the high ceilings and great lighting we had.

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Motifs under construction

I greatly missed Margaret’s cooking as we ate out for lunch/dinner which really disrupts your process. I struggled with staying focused for the exercises. I learned quite ¬†a bit about my working habits that are getting in my way.

Alwasy listen to directions :they needed to be smaller

Always listen to directions -they needed to be smaller

2. Nancy ¬†Crow gave a lecture on Thursday night in conjunction with the opening of her solo show titled “Transformational Quilts“. It was a treat to here her speak about her work, her career and inspirations. The exhibit was breathtaking and included older work and some very new pieced work. ( No photos allowed. ) I have never had the opportunity to see more than one or two of her pieces in the past. She is definitely the master of color and composition and this exhibit reveals that so clearly. ¬†It took my breath away to see such a variety of styles of her work in one space. The two events were a treasure for me. If you are in the area, you definitely need to see this exhibit. If you aren’t in the area, think about making a visit there before it closes in mid- October.

3. I went back to fabric dyeing last week. I am in love with full immersion of really dark pieces.

full immersion of  2 yard pieces

full immersion of 2 yard pieces

4. I assisted in the hanging of the AQS show here in Grand Rapids. It was amazing to see what goes on behind the scenes in a show. I signed up for a shift to help hang the quilts and enjoyed seeing both sides of the quilt.  I also appreciate what the vendors do to get their merchandise ready for all those crazy buyers.

large pallets being moved in to the vendor region

large pallets being moved in to the vendor region

And now my son is  back in school and my daughter is at college so I am back to regular studio hours and the  fabric is flying.  I am on to the next season of work and play . What are you working on?

 

Re-entry Fast Approaching

 

All ironed and packed up!

All ironed and packed up!

The car is almost fully packed and I am just waiting for the last 2 loads of wash. (It would have been one load but I found a bucket of 2 scarves soaking in soda ash so I went ahead and dumped some dye on them. ) My record breaking 9 weeks in VT is coming to a close . We load up at 4 am to drop my daughter at the airport ( she was the lucky winner of the airline ticket home) and then make the 13 hour trek back to MI with dogs, husband driver and all the sewing studio in the car. Whew!

a goofy girl tie- dyeing some shirts with my dyes

a goofy girl tie- dyeing some shirts with my dyes

This summer seemed particularly crazy. With the work I had to do, it seemed like summer swirled around me. I was an observer and a sometimes participant in all the activities. I enjoyed it but it was different.

taking care with her project

taking care with her project

Plus my kids came and went from here depending on what things they had going on at home. Gone are the days when we enjoyed all of the summer together! I felt nostalgic about that and realized it will only continue. I cherish my time with them as sassy as they can be…

one of my favorite farms on our walks

one of my favorite farms on our walks

I spent yesterday whizzing through some motifs for the class

making motifs for the upcoming workshop

making motifs for the upcoming workshop

at Muskegon next week. I think /know I was supposed to spend more time on them but I just didn’t plan right. It felt good to play with black and whites as much as I dreaded/procrastinated doing them all summer.

cleaned up lots of fabric messes yesterday

cleaned up lots of fabric messes yesterday

 

Nancy Crow is teaching her Sets and Variables class next week at the Muskegon Museum of Art. She has a solo show opening Thursday night with a lecture . If you are in the area , don’t miss it.

One more Vermont picture for you…see you on the other side!

top of the hill

top of the hill

Wrapping Up Summer Fabric Dyeing

It was steaming hot here this past week. It’s the kind of weather that the cotton fabrics and dyes love. I definitely have been in love with my newfound knowledge of fabric dyeing after my Carol¬†Soderlund ¬†class last May.¬†

 

Processing the fabric in the barn

Processing the fabric in the barn

Carol recommends processing in a plastic bag for low water immersion. But I am way too messy with that. I can’t get manage to get the fabric folded without having the dye all over my legs while I fold it up for the plastic bag. Or maybe I am just too stubborn to not waste all my plastic containers.

 

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Reds on the line

For the first time, I used full immersion for these two yard cuts of red. I ended up loving full water immersion for absolute solid coloring! It does take an hour of full tending to the pots though.

Lighter neutrals on the line

Lighter neutrals on the line

I need a few more neutrals but that will wait until a nice fall day.

Wacky over dyeing of the "ickies"

Wacky over dyeing of the “ickies”

And the dry results…

 

Neutrals ready for ironing

Neutrals ready for ironing

 

Brights ready for ironing

Brights ready for ironing

No ironing until after I enjoyed the weekend with friends.

Hazy VT summer days

Hazy VT summer days

It’s summer after all.

 

From my garden

From my garden

My husband has been with me in VT for longer than usual this summer. He said he’s amazed at how much time I spend working on my art. How did he not know this? ūüôā

What are you working on? Can you settle into a summer time routine with your art or do you take break?