Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How It Was Done

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 
― Sylvia Plath

     Yesterday, I got the news that my latest art quilt, "Century Plant at Big Bend" was selected to be in the SAQA TEXtile Conference Show which will be in San Antonio the first week in April.  This Call to Entry was for Texas members  only as we are hosting the International SAQA Conference in our state this year.  I am very honored to be among many well-known artists to showcase our talents to the rest of SAQA attending.  I have had several people ask how I made this particular work of art so I decided to do a blog on that very subject.
"Century Plant at Big Bend"
     First, the inspiration...we were charged with the subject 'anything' Texas!  So I went through all my photos of various places I had visited throughout the state and came up with a composite of several pics.
Painted background 
    Then I got a piece of canvas and stretched it out on my table in my paint studio. I proceeded to paint a wash in the background with watery acrylic paints.
Second phase
I then added some grassy area with the start of some cactus and other plant life and the stalk of the century plant. When that was dry, I put the whole thing on a black batting and a back fabric to do some machine stitching in the sky area and the rocky background area.
Third step
I put it all up on my design wall and  began adding fabric to create more dimension to the grasses and plants by freeform cutting them and using fabric glue, just a dab, to hold them in place.
Closeup-the little blooms are about dime size, or smaller
Closeup- after some further machine stitching on the grasses

Workspace in my sewing studio
So I had drawn out on paper  the size of my stalk and then proceeded to hand cut my blooms
out of various batik fabrics of greens and yellows.  And placed them around the paper stalk to see how many I might want to add. Then I decided to give them more texture by covering them with French knots (you who sew or embroider will know what that is! For any one interested I have linked you to a Youtube Tutorial on how to make them!) I had fused each bloom to a felt background for added strength  and proceeded to add the French knots.  A great "sitting in front of the TV time"!  LOTS of time to catch up on my recorded PBS shows and Netflix series I had fallen behind on!
After having finishing all the French knots, it was back upstairs to my paint studio to paint the edges of the blooms so the white felt wouldn't show.

Close up
With the whole thing lying flat on my studio table, I first cut coordinating background fabric for each bloom and began to place them on the stalk, as well as adding fabric stems. These were all glued down to hold in place while stitching.

Back to the Design Wall
After checking out everything on the design wall...at this point I could still reposition the blooms, I took it back to my table and began hand stitching the blooms and stems to the stalk.  I had thought I might be able to machine stitch them down but it all became a bit too heavy to manipulate at a the machine..thus hand stitching!

Close up of blooms
So from the above picture, you can see the French knots which are on approximately thirty blooms of various sizes.  And how I hand-stitched each to the background.  It was all so thick at times that I had to use one of my most elegant sewing tools, the pliers, to pull the thread through!

The Border
And almost the last thing to do!  I trimmed all the edges of the batting and backing to 2 1/2 inches then pieced a border from the brown and green fabric I chose.  At this point, I am using another "uncommon for sewing"  piece of furniture for placing the border (it is not sewn down at this point)...my bed!  I have a large cardboard graph which I can place on my bed and can then work all the way around it. After deciding where to place the border, I flip it over, pin it down and go to the machine to sew it together on the artwork.
The last thing to do is to decided whether to put a binding on (which would show on the front) or to face it which, while finishing up the edges,  will not show on the front. And to add sleeve on the back to hang it.

And.....that's all, folks!!!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Memory Monday

“A planet with no mountains, no storms and no earthquakes will create a planet of weak people!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

     It is March 27, 1964.  We are happily living in Reno, Nevada; Dick is stationed at Stead Airforce Base and I am finishing up my second round of being a tele-communicator for the America Cancer Society.  All over the airways is news of the disaster which has occurred in Alaska!  A 9.2 force earthquake with its center in Prince William Sound half way between Anchorage and Valdez, has erupted; the largest in the United States and the second largest in the world. (I have linked you to a short youtube presentation if you are interested in seeing how this earthquake changed the scientific study of earthquakes.)
An elementary school in Anchorage
Downtown Anchorage
Turnagain Heights-a housing area overlooking Knik Arm
   Amazingly, only 15 people were killed by the earthquake itself.  It occurred  around 5:30PM and it was Good Friday so many places were closed and school was not in session.  There were 139 deaths total, many from the following Tsunami.
     A few weeks after this disaster Dick comes home with some "exciting" news.  He is being transferred to Elmendorf AFB. Guess where it is located!  Yep...Anchorage, Alaska!  Needless to say that announcement caused great consternation with both of our families.  We, being young and naive, thought it sounded like a great adventure!
      Dick was to report around the first of July I think, although he was still working at Stead.  My little job was over at the end of April so I wouldn't be able to get another job for such a short time.  As I had said earlier, we wouldn't be able to afford the apartment if I wasn't working too, so we made the decision I would go home to live with my parents until we took off for Alaska and Dick would go back to the barracks on base....not a happy solution for we newlyweds! But sometimes you have to just live with the negative side of life too!
      So Dick took a week to drive me home and spend some time with his parents.  Then he went back to Stead and I settled in for a loooong (six weeks) visit with my parents!  I remember going to church with my mom one Sunday after Dick had gone back, and this elderly gentleman, whom I had known all my life but not intimately, came up to me and wanted to know if everything was alright in my life!  It was just not normal for a newlywed to be separated six months after being married!  So I explained to him why I was home (although I was thinking it was really none of his business and wanted to tell him some really wild tale) and he seemed to think that was OK!  When I  exploded to my mom about the nosey old man, she said he was probably just concerned and would have wanted to pray for me if there had been something wrong!  Bless his heart! Ah, small towns.....you gotta love them!!!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Memory Monday

"Marriage is the highest state of friendship. If happy, it lessens our cares by dividing them, at the same time that it doubles our pleasures by mutual participation. "

     It is 1964; we have been married about six weeks; we are in our cozy little apartment in the middle of winter in Reno, Nevada.  Such a beautiful winter!  There is a fresh coating of snow on everything.  Reno is in the Sierra Nevadas and the Truckee River runs right through town.  We go walking at night, in the snow.  There is a bridge over the Truckee not far from where we live.  A special memory, standing on that bridge, watching the snow fall into the water which is really raging below us.
The Truckee River-Reno, Nevada
      I had never cooked much before we were married but Dick was very encouraging as I practiced on him!  Except for one time...I made a coconut pie which was one of his favorites.  He tasted it and said it was pretty good but not quite as good as what his mom made!  Well, to a newly wed, that was not the most tactful thing he could have said.  I wasn't angry...but my response to him was..."I am very fond of your mom, but don't ever compare my cooking to hers!"  And he never did again!  She is a really good cook, but over the years, I became pretty good myself.
     It is February 9, 1964.  Do you remember what happened that night?  The Beatles were in America on the Ed Sullivan Show!!  And we had our first party!  Some of the guys from the base who worked with Dick at Shakey's and their girl friends/wives.  

The Beatles with Ed Sullivan
The first song they sang was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" .  If you would like to get a taste of the show click on the song name which will take you to a youtube film of them and on the side you will see more links to more songs.  We had a great time until the neighbors complained about the noise...and everyone had to go to work the next day, so the party broke up pretty early.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Memory Monday

“Marriage: Love is the reason. Lifelong friendship is the gift. Kindness is the cause. Til’ death do us part is the length.”  -Fawn Weaver

     The wedding is over; the honeymoon is in the past; we are on our way back to Reno...January, 1964.  We are loaded with wedding gifts...pictures, placemats, blankets. We decided to leave the crystal and silver at my parents' house. Then we have to find a place to live because Dick didn't have a high enough a rank to live on base. We found a nice little furnished apartment..one bedroom and bath, a kitchen and living room combined. 

Our first apartment
    Our unit was downstairs on the front. The entry door was under the stairs. The building had four units...two down and two up.  It had been built in some guy's back yard...not many building codes at that time! It was small but relatively new and seemed pretty great to us for our first home together!

This is our kitchen.
      Right across the street was a appliance repair business.  There was only one parking place at the apartment per car but we could park one of our cars in front of the business before they opened at 8:00 and after they closed at 5:00 M-Sat...Sundays they were closed so we could leave it there.  Because Dick had to leave before I did, we parked the car he drove in front of the business.
     My job at Penny's was no longer there...they weren't too happy with me leaving during the busiest time of the year.  I was having a hard time finding anything and to be frank, in order to pay rent I HAD to have a job too...Dick's military salary wasn't great and he didn't qualify for off base housing allowance.  I finally found a job with the Heart Association as a telecommunicator....one of those obnoxious people who call you up and plead for money.  It was a six weeks' gig.  We were literally living one day at a time!

     I was soooo good at what I did that, after  six weeks' was up, I was hired on by the Cancer Society to do the same thing!  And for this, I went to college!!! We were living in the newly wed bubble though so all was good!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

North Texas SAQA Meeting

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” 
― Ă‰mile Zola

     Last Saturday the North Texas SAQA Circle met in Grapevine at the Must Love Fabric shop.  We had ten members there and had a very interesting meeting. The month before we had brainstormed ideas of things we could do at our monthly meetings.  We came up with several ideas:  techniques to demonstrate, how we each work and where our ideas come from etc.  This week we all brought our sketchbooks/journals to share how we used them as a tool for our creativity.  It was really interesting to see how varied and yet how similar our sketchbooks were.  Some use theirs very frequently to get ideas started; others more casually and less often.  I, myself, am a kind of off and on...but I do enjoy journaling when I do it!
     Then we had our usual showing of what we had been working on which is always a favorite!  Always inspiring!
Deborah brought an abstract square she is working on and explained
how she worked with it and plans to continue 
Deborah had taken a class from Cindy Lohbeck
Another example of Deborah's dyeing
Jen is working on some small art after taking a bit of a sabbatical..
Glad to have her back in the swing of things!
Another small art by Jen
Jackie showed a stunning work of art. Be sure to enlarge this so
you can appreciate her hand stitched circles. 
Jackie had also taken a recent class from Sue Benner.
Taking a photograph and interpreting it into a fabric work of art.
Andrea has also been bitten by the ice dyeing bug and
had several beautiful pieces to show us.
Diane, a new member, had several small pieces to show us.
I think she will fit in quite well!!
Another work by Diane
And another.
Jaye showed her Century Plant which is finally finished!
You might be able to enlarge this to see the billions of French knots
which make up the  blossoms.
          Our last bit of business for the meeting was to discuss what we are doing at our February meeting.  We are going to be meeting at the same location and decorate our share of the tote bags that each Texas Circle is doing for the SAQA Conference hand outs. The conference is being held in San Antonio this year in April. Each of us is to bring paint, stamps, inks, brushes, stencils, whatever can be used to decorate the bags.  It will be a fun meeting!

Monday, January 15, 2018

NTAQ January Meeting

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” 
― Pablo Picasso

    My NTAQ Art bunch met today...as always, a real boost to share our creativity with each other.  Our challenge this month was a painting by Georges Braque "The Echo".  It is an abstract picture with some definable objects.  Our challenges are not necessarily to interpret the pictures exactly but to use the shapes and colors as inspirations to create something original. Here is the picture on my design wall with my work.  It is not one of my favorites but since I rushed it together I guess it will do.  I was working most  of the day and night yesterday getting my "Century Plant" finished so I only spent from 10:00 to Midnight last night on the challenge!

Georges Braque/ Jaye
And here are the ones done by the others:

We had a couple people not able to be at the meeting....here is a picture of all the challenges together
Michelle's is upper left...I didn't get an individual pic of hers

     Then we had our "show and tell" of other works! Kay had really been busy since our last meeting.

Kay says this was done "just for fun"!
Kay added the circles after finishing the quilt, feeling it needed a little something more!
A small work Kay brought to get some suggestions on what to do with  the background.
This is a sea turtle Kay did as a reminder of her recent trip to Hawaii
     Bethany had been busy doing some ice dyeing:     

Bethany plans to leave this as a whole cloth quilt and add stitching
      Wendy had a most spectacular quilt to show....the backs of her quilts are alway as wonderful as the fronts!!
The front
The back
    And I showed my Century Plant.  I had originally planned on entering this in a show in South Texas named "Life on the Rio Grande".  I didn't get it finished by the deadline...so I am now going to get it finished to enter in the SAQA Conference Texas Only SAQA members' show in April.

My "Century Plant"
It is not quite finished....I need to quilt the borders and stitch down a few of the blooms that I haven't done yet.  I also took several pictures on the process of this quilt as I did a few things that I had not done before and plan to write a blog on that.  So I am not going into much detail on how I did this one.
     And the meeting ended with lunch, conversation and lots of laughter, as always!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Memory Monday

“I celebrate the connections in my life, from my past, present, and future. I joyfully accept love in all its healthy forms!” 
― Amy Leigh Mercree,

     We are now back at Dick's parents' home.  While we are there, all the neighbors throw us a shivaree.  Now for those of you who are not familiar with the  custom, shivarees were "celebrations" of marriage. Originally they could get pretty wild...usually a newly wed couple would be in their new home and the community would show up one night and mischievously wreck their home! Nothing malicious...all in good fun! The couple would expect this to happen so would have beer and snacks set aside for when the partiers would show up.  Sometimes the bride would be "kidnapped"  while the groom had to watch his domain being wrecked!  Then all would get back together and help clean up and the party would  begin. Crazy, I know!  I wonder if they still do that anywhere?

    Because we were not living in the area, what we got was just the party!  It would not have been appropriate to wreck his parents' house!  It was a nice party, a chance for me to meet all the neighbors. And their tradition was to give the couple a "money" tree.  Bills had been collected and some creative person would make flowers or something out of the money and place them on a branch....a much nicer tradition than what I was used to!!!
Dick and Jay after the shivaree with money tree
This picture was taken in Dick's parents living room...that is a window behind me, showing off the beautiful farm land that surrounded them. Right down the road were his paternal grandparents and just a few miles away, his maternal grandmother...all of whom were at our wedding.  His brother and little sister Janice are still living at home.  Fay is nineteen and farming with his dad; Janice who is 14 years younger than Dick and in total awe of him, is eight.
25th anniversary
This is a picture of Dick's mom and dad celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary August 14, the summer before we got married.  We were in Reno at the time so not able to attend.  Brother Fay 18 and sister Janice 7, in the background.  Again, a community party held in the church hall.

    Next stop...Reno, Nevada...our first apartment!