Category Archives: motifs

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.


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?


Back to the Clothesline

     I think it is finally spring although only 50 today. I was able to hang and photograph a completed piece on the clothesline. Amazing when you just devote 4 hours of time to one thing and focus.

                                                         L Series- # 6 , 12×18

Looks like I have another project and that’s organize this years quilts names and labels. But I finished something even though it’s a small something! small.  The road to completion recovery …. hope has arrived.

Be creative, my friends!

The Last Seam

     I really wanted to put this piece away. But, I kept thinking and thinking about it. I will never really know until I just finish it. It may not be good or even great but honestly, it is in the completing of the design that I actually LEARN. And the sewing together of the top.

It started here. Random blocks that looked way too clunky for me. And dark. Didn’t like it.

I had the whole piece up on the design wall and didn’t like it. So, changed it up adding another border around these “blocks”.

mmm…that didn’t feel right either. cut some more.

Realize I have driven myself and my family crazy. Now, procrastinate and make a small piece out of the scraps.

And then get brave enough to start sewing it together-sewing numerous parts several times to get it to fit together. Finally, am down to the final seam.

Big clunky part on the lower left doesn’t seam together right no matter what I try.

What a mess that I am afraid to cut in to. No -let me re-phrase that- I don’t know what to do to make it work . Better recruit a friend  who is a better seamstress to give me some advice today.

This is quite the process that I am not sure I would tell anyone else but you how I got to this point. All this and I don’t even like it. Really I don’t at all. I just want to finish it. How crazy is that?

Now, maybe it just doesn’t need to be quilted but that I am not deciding today. It’s all a learning experience.

Be creative, my friends.



     I think as I was laying in bed last night, I have a plan for the next month. As I  complete the classes that I have started online, I will just work small. Now, I may tire of that and completely change my mind, but I feel relief in just giving myself permission for small. I am thinking of them as small studies and trying to use different color combinations rather than my comfort colors. Also, definitely improvisational with no plan in mind when I started. Just reacting to each piece and the pile of scraps I had . So, the first of small.

     I love some of the shapes that have been made within this piece. This little quilt makes me happy. I named it after lemonjello- the coffee shop in Holland where I enjoy a cup of coffee with my daughter at college.

      Painting more color swatches and another binding today.

      Be creative, my friends!

More Playing with Color

    Despite the sick sewing machines from last week,  I have persevered with the two classes I am taking online. I am behind as I always have that overcommitment thing going on but I am determined to finish both in the time allotted. I can do it. Fun looking at color-billboards, advertising in magazines, artwork at galleries in Stowe while on vacation and in all those quilting books I seem to collect.

I had to inventory and organize my fabrics. I have no blue-greens, violet or red-violets. I guess because I am not good at dyeing those colors. I will have to figure out why.

Leftover paint from my Color Theory class on cotton. I couldn’t let it go to waste. I have no idea what I will do with this piece of fabric. Something fun.

I also started a color journal and have been collecting all kinds of color schemes I like and analyzing what colors they are. Have you ever checked this site out- Color Schemer ?

 And then I looked on my design wall and decided to finish this piece. It fit perfectly with my color lessons. It is from an exercise in  Nancy Crow class from last spring on motifs.

Color Play #1

I added some hand stitching with my hand dyed floss.

Loving all I am learning about color.

Be creative, my friends!

#2 in the L Series

     That is a really lame title. But my tired little brain can’t think of anything else. I was having sewing machine issues so went to newly bought -used machine-but that was having problems too! But my very dear local dealer replaced it with another used machine and this one is sewing just perfectly for me-at this minute. So I just can’t think of a catchy name for this series right now.

     I am continuing blocks with a “L” theme and this time I went much larger.

     The actual sewing together of this one was very challenging for me. Oh alright, that was a polite way of saying it was driving me crazy at one point yesterday. A construction nightmare. I haven’t done inset seams before. Just sewn by hand but not machine. Until this week. And I heard a very distinctive voice, say to a workshop participant this spring-“At this point you should be able to figure it out. I am not going to tell you how to sew it together. You have to find your own way.” Over and over, I repeated those words.:)

So.that is what I did.

Figured it out.  One seam and one piece at a time. I ripped it some seams out SEVERAL times until the top was done.

     And it’s not necessarily any wonder- design wise. But I just feel accomplished because I didn’t give up. Hand dyed fabrics look pretty outside, don’t they? It measures about 32 x 60 unquilted. How does it fit as part of this series? Well…I did follow the “L” motif but I should have played with my original easy design before I jumped into this one. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s an improvisational series.

     Next, I am moving back to machine quilting these last two pieces. I need to add finished pieces to my tally for 2010.

     Happy Sewing, my friends!

The Beginning Work

     It is very quiet here. Drinking my coffee and enjoying the peace, the ticking of the clock and the hum of the refrigerator. Not quite wanting my day to start without them -but it already has -at 6am.  Missing them but relieved for the peace. Always kind of a push pull kind of thing isn’t it? Not quite wanting to start the list of things that is already there and wondering how it will all fit in. And then wondering where the art piece will fit in today.

 And wondering what to share of what I am doing. I did finish the memory quilt. A big yeah! I also pieced the first in my series/study.

It measures about 36 by 36 and I am not going to quilt it yet. I might add another to it but the next in the series…My parameters for the study: play with one block or motif and manipulate it as many times as I can stand it. Don’t need to necessarily like the outcome but just work the motif. Each piece will be individually cut freehand with the rotary cutter-just like this one. Looks like floor tile to me … oops I said no criticizing it , didn’t I? I will show you these along my way.

Also, I am on Work of the Week #2. Parameters on this project:

     1. 4 per month measuring 8×12.
     2. I will start with surface design techniques.
     3. Again, I don’t need to like it, just experiment.
     4. Start with a plain white “canvas”.
     5. No starting it over-finish what you start with.
     6. I may or may not show you them.

That’s it. I will document on the back what I liked and what worked.

This is actually the back which I liked more than the front-the way the paint seeped through the quilting lines.
The front was painted AFTER I did the quilting lines with some Jaquard paints I had in my drawer.

Odd I know . I am not a painter and don’t like the colors or my paintstrokes…oops again…what I do like…what I do like….

I LOVED stitching first and applying color second. Positive is better and makes me feel like I learned something. I guess I need to work on critiquing rather than criticizing my work. That might be the most painful part of this process. Ongoing and forever I guess. Critique rather than criticize.

Off to weed, shop, drive and go to a cross country meet. After I put my hands on some fabric for awhile!

Happy Sewing, my friends!

Monday Catch Up

Grafton Inn,VT

     I am ready to get off the month of May. My friend Betsy described it as wanting to get off the hamster wheel. I do agree. Just got back from a family wedding in Grafton, VT. Left Thursday and came back last night.( Love hearing about what went on while I was gone….). It was an outdoor wedding and the weather was picture perfect Vermont.

Even had fiddleheads on our salad-how much more Vermont could you get? Nice to see family from afar. Did lots of spring clean up at our house there and it always takes longer than you think.

 Congrats Mike and Kate-you finally did it!

     Well I finally downloaded some more of my pictures from my workshop. This is my last piece that I did.

In Process…

She mixed the week up a bit and had us do our larger piece in the middle of the week. This was our choice using any of the motifs that we had brought with us- I mixed up an L and a T. Disappointing and I told her that it looked like a cross between a bad Christmas dream and the American Red Cross flag.

She laughed and said ok- just finish it. She said I backslid on it which I did.At that point in the week, we were all getting punchy. I do recognize my mistakes-bad color choice, too simple of a motif which looked like strip piecing and not thinking far enough ahead with it. That is the good part of the process-knowing when you made a mistake, finishing it and letting go.

     Now, for “homework” she said to do the assignment over at home :)!

Happy Sewing, my friends!


     I can only come up with a one word title. I feel a bit slow yet amidst the chaos that is created this week-in between coming home and getting ready to leave already for a wedding in VT this weekend. Just a few days to re-group and re-organize -slow and not very productive is not really a great place to be at.
     I spent last week at the Barn at a workshop with Nancy Crow at the class titled Sets and Variables I and II. The class -very basically-was working on a specific motif ( a original block pattern you drew) and all it’s various configurations. Each piece we cut was cut freehand and individually. She gave assignments and lectured at the beginning of the day and we had timed exercises to complete. For example, here is the project and you have one day to do it or two days to do it. Then, each person would present it to the class and Nancy would critique it. She has an amazing amount of energy and is brutally honest. But within the critique, she met each of us where we were in the process-as a true beginner or much higher. So, after the initial  critique you were less fearful , and were actually looking forward to seeing what she had to say. For the brutal honesty and time she gave us, I really respect that. Because honest critique of your work is very hard to come by.
      Lots of art theory-LOTS! I am not a person who likes to present to others so the whole experience is really hard for me-but I realized I learned the most from seeing others pieces and doing a self-critique of my work. And yes, I really did work from 7:30 am until 10pm. Brain work and sewing work.

                                                   Design wall: Day One

     Since it was an intermediate class, I expected it to be hard. Nancy spent an incredible amount of time with us both individually and as a group. Design, shape, texture, figure-ground, pattern repetition, pattern manipulation-I could go on and on. She wants you to figure out the answers and process the information.

     The energy that is created with working with others is something I don’t know if I can explain. As a quilter/artist , it is lonesome working by yourself. I rarely sew with others because it is just too hard lugging my stuff out of my studio. (Yup I will now call it a studio.)  Few people do this kind of work so I am kind of an oddball too. Like-minded quilters are hard to find? So just not being odd, was great. I enjoyed spending time with a  woman, Rahel,  who was sitting adjacent to me- a woman from Israel who had just retired from teaching. She has devoted 40-50  hours a week since her last class on producing quilts so the body of work she showed was amazing. And she gave a brief 15 minute talk to us-at Nancy’s request-about how to integrate art as a priority if this is what you want to do. Rahel was very articulate and had us all in tears at the end- how using your hands is a gift not to be wasted.

                                         End of Day One

     This was clearly a stretch for me both technically and design-wise. I knew that going into it and didn’t really expect to make wonderful things there. I never do with timed exercises.  It’s more for me the knowledge I leave with and how I begin to process it as I leave and go forward. And my head is just bursting so I hope all of it stays inside and just doesn’t burst.

   Unfortunately, on the last day of class one of the gals I traveled with fell and broke her femur….poor thing needed surgery. I must run and try to call her and see how she is doing. We had to leave her behind in Columbus while she recovers. Miss you new friend and hope you heal quickly.

Off to catch up.

Happy Sewing, my friends.