Category Archives: workshops

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.

IMG_0336

never buy into the color when its wet

IMG_0335 2

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.

IMG_0338

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.

 

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 .

DSC_8312

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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

All Things May: Family Snippets

Life had picked up speed with the end of the school year. I feel squished at this point trying to keep up, enjoy life and yet still get all my art in before the summer time hits. It is all very, very good.

IMG_1442

dye samples for my class notebook

 

I missed my friends who were still at the Barn in week #2 of the Master Class and week #2 of Carol Soderlund’s dye class!

Artwork at the Barn

Artwork at the Barn

But I really didn’t want to miss any more of his games. I love watching him play. Mostly , I love the fierce determination he has to perform to his best.

State Cup play offs

State Cup play offs

Now on to the semifinals next weekend

Now on to the semifinals next weekend

We have travelled to 2 different states so far this week for games.

And the weekend has involved meeting her new boyfriend. He flew in to see her …she might have a long summer without him.

home from college with a boyfriend visiting for the weekend

home from college with a boyfriend visiting for the weekend

A trip to the beach to feel the warm sand, the sun and see the water. Water temp was 45 degrees. No one cared and we soaked up the warm sun on our faces walking on the beach.

Beach in May

Beach in May

And a trip to the Muskegon Museum of Art for the All State exhibition opening which was crowded and busy. I loved seeing so many enjoying art!

My piece at the All State exhibit...

My piece at the All State exhibit…

It’s been a really great and busy week and I wouldn’t trade the last week in May with my family.

What About Color?

At the beginning of the year, I set some lofty goals for myself. And one of them was to  intentionally study color. I rounded up all my color books and lined them up in a nice, neat little pile. I opened the first book and realized most , if not all , of the exercises involved working with paint-either acrylics or watercolors. I made a list and saved my coupons to go buy some more supplies.

And then stopped before I bought the paints. The idea of paints really was exciting but I felt it would just be a huge distraction for me right now. Instead, I signed up for Carol Soderlund‘s Color Mixing for Dyers class at the Barn. ¬†I needed to know how to dye the colors I wanted and knew that Carol would be the best to teach me reproducible results on fabric. Not painting on paper or canvas.

So this is the week I am at the Barn.

DSC_7112

Sorting of fabrics into buckets

DSC_7119

Carol having fun teaching

DSC_7126

Counting and checking before the next steps

DSC_7124

the pretties all lined up for tomorrow

Carol is a most organized and excellent teacher. And by the end of the week, I will have 1029 samples of new colors and understand a lot more than I did before about color dyeing on fabrics.

It is worth waiting for and not jumping into the paints . Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for the right class to come along.

A New Show, A New Store and A Little Spring

fabric is flying…this week

fabric is flying…this week

I have been working away in the midst of the never-ending winter here in Michigan. I feel the clock ticking down to spring and a garden but am really making the most of my indoor time. And I am appreciating it.

 

A few catch ups for you:

1. I am currently in Lisa Call‘s Master class and one of the goals I have given myself is to track my actual studio and art business time . I have logged in 58 hours this week. I felt like I was working hard and moving forward but never had any really numbers to justify those thoughts. ¬† Good news: This week Monday through Friday, I logged 58 great hours of art time: 46 actual studio time hours and 12 art business hours. ¬†Woohoo and no wonder I am tired ¬†tonight. Bad news: I am not ready to show you what I am working on yet.

2. I have work hung at the Electric Cheetah restaurant. Last Friday, I hung 5 of my pieces at the restaurant in their mini art gallery section and Saturday went for dinner there to celebrate. Go if you are in the area as they will likely be there for 2 months. It was a great learning experience in having a solo show (lots of work but rewarding ) and it was received well there. Nice to have my art be seen.

Show at the Electric Cheetah

Show at the Electric Cheetah

3. I found a new store just a few miles from my home. I went today to visit and was very happy to see bright lighting, modern fabrics and a great store owner who was helpful and enthusiastic about her upcoming classes and events. She will be hosting a Modern Quilt guild meeting at her store on Tuesday April 1st at 6:30 pm if you are interested. Super excited to see her come to the area and I wish her well. 

Stitched Studio opening in Grand Rapids

Stitched Studio opening in Grand Rapids

 

I bought a few fabrics for fun summertime making.

Lotta Jansdotter love

Lotta Jansdotter love

4. A wonderful friend Lynne sent me some spring last week.  The multi-talented Lynne is one of the first people I made a group quilt with. She made these beautiful butterflies for me sending a little spring my way. Thanks Lynne! I love my friends I have made along the way !

Lynne's butterflies

Lynne’s butterflies

DSC_6900It really will come. Spring is coming soon.

Time for 2014 Planning

Paint chips for my year of color study

Paint chips for my year of color study

I spent some time over the past few weeks planning my year out. Last year in Lisa Call’s Setting Goals class, I made very specific goals which I did again this year. ¬†I am not going to bore you with all the specific details but have decided to group them together under broad categories to share with you.

 

DSC_6522

My sweet Aunt gave this book to me for Christmas. She said she knows how much I love and appreciate color. Can you even imagine a life without crayons? I loved to spend time coloring with my kids when they were younger and still love the smell and freshness of a new box of crayons. Can you imagine a life without color or noticing color? My uncle is colorblind and he says his black and white world is not so noisy as he imagines a world of wild colors to be.

I am digressing. But it leads to my set of goals for 2014.

1. I want to study color. I have never taken a class studying color and my science brain wants to know and explore more. So I pulled together what I have and what I have purchased based on others recommendations.  I will spend time each week reading and doing some of these experiments on paper and with small fabric sketches. It will just be a small beginning but it will be a push in the right direction as I think you can know never enough about color.

 

DSC_6526

My personal color study texts

2. Along the same lines of studying color, I am taking a class with Carol Soderlund at the Barn in May. ¬†I want to understand how to dye the colors that I choose and that appeal to me. Serendipity in dyeing is so much fun and really thrills me. But about 50 percent of the time, I want specific colors and just don’t have the skill to make a particular color or set of colors.

3. My big goal : I want to make lots of art this year. My numbers goal is 15 -20 pieces finished and completed down to the hanging sleeve and label.  I need to narrow it down though with sizes this week. Then,  I want to realistically write them on the calendar like an assignment and complete the assignment pretending its homework.  And by realistically, it needs to fit into the calendar that week meaning that I need to do a better job estimating my time on my job tasks.

4. I will keep up with studio clean up after each project and do it quickly so I can move on to the next piece. I tend to procrastinate with this and love taking time sifting through the leftovers.

 

No more obsessive scrap sifting

No more obsessive scrap sifting

5. I will keep up adding things to my website, maintaining this journal on my blog and taking better photos.

6. But , most importantly, I really want to have confidence in my work, passion in what I am doing and always remember what a privilege it is to be an artist. If, at any time, the goals get in the way of enjoying what I am doing with my art, I am taking time to figure out why and what’s getting in the way of it being fun. Then I will be right back at those goals.

How about you? Now that it almost February, do you have your year all lined up and planned out?

 

WW continues and a list

The past two weeks have been used…mmm…in an odd manner. The last ten days I have been kind of manic in my sewing. I went away to a retreat with some members of a bee I belong to. I spent 3 days madly stitching together some gifts and charity quilts and I sewed for probably 12- 14 hours per day again.  The manic sewing continued when I got home. I purchased fabric for backing, fabric for tops,  and I have kept relentlessly sewing.

I put together a quilt top for a friend who is ill. ¬†I didn’t like it so I pieced another. I put together 2 tops for my brothers for Christmas. One ¬†top is done but the other isn’t. I made two charity baby quilt tops. I think that would be a count of five pieced functional quilts. ¬†AND they aren’t really quilts yet because they are only tops at this point. Is it reasonable to think I can finish 5 quilts before Christmas and have time for art???

I really diagnose my self with continued Workshop Withdrawal yet. It is the only excuse I can think of for all this mess I have just created. I have sewn with abandon and made the pile of  unfinished projects HUGE in my studio. The only cure for this mess I have created is a list. I need to re-focus some of my manic energy into a reasonable and FOCUSED list. What needs to be finished first this week and what can wait?

Ugh, I hate it when I do this to myself. I take full responsibility.

And add to that fixing this boring blog. It needs color. It needs photos. A header. You get the picture, don’t you?

 

Workshop Withdrawal

I vowed it would not happen this time. I promised myself I would not come home to workshop withdrawal. I have been to six intensive workshops at the Barn and each time I have returned home, I fall flat. It takes way too much time to regain my momentum in the studio. The first few days I catch up on everything that is undone from my absence : I clean (always a novel concept), I iron clothes instead of fabric, I run errands that really can wait, I cook great dinners and I make cookies. I procrastinate. I do everything but return to the studio.

I rationalize it thinking I am overstimulated with new ideas. I write down all of the ideas in my journal. And I do nothing with them. Then, I think I am useless as an art quilter. After seeing all the great work that others have done, I compare myself to the famous and fall woefully short. I order books that will make me smarter.  I review my notes.

Then, I relax.  The studio is in order. I am going this weekend to travel  to see my daughter at college in Iowa.  I am going to love on her and have fun with her. I am not going to think of my workshop withdrawal. Instead, on Monday I will do what I always do when I return from a workshop: make a baby quilt or two. It has worked every time.

What do you do when the adrenaline from a workshop is gone?

The Aftermath

The Aftermath of a Workshop

The Aftermath of a Workshop

I came home on Saturday after a 2 week workshop with Nancy Crow at the Barn titled Potpourri 1 and 2.  To spend time with 27 other women who are pushing the boundaries of their work was more than a privilege. There was a wide range of experience but no limit on honesty, compassion, support and willingness to share technique and information. I wanted to pinch myself at times to make sure it was real. And then, when I slept for about 5-hours, sewed for 12 hours every day including sewing time on the weekend , got frustrated beyond belief when nothing would come of my efforts the last few days, drank a few glasses of wine and laughed until I cried, I knew it was real.

I met new friends (miss you Barb and Maria) , caught up with old friends from previous workshops, ¬†and worked side by side with Elizabeth . ¬†I am inspired , a little overstimulated, sad ¬†sad it’s done with but more than excited to get back to work in my studio.

Back to work after I put it all away.