Archive for September, 2007

Faith And LoveHave you ever made something and then forgotten all about it?  I did that and it was like opening a present when I came across it again.

In 2000, when my husband’s sister got married, I wanted to create a wall quilt for her and her fiance that reflected their deep faith in God and love for each other.  They were both quite active in the same church and I wanted to find a way to include that in the quilt. 

And so, fabric and lumber crayons in hand, my husband and I went on walkabout through the cemetery that surrounds their church.  Some stones make better rubbings than others, but we were lucky that day and found the perfect headstone.  In the blazing sun, we lifted a rubbing and I took it back to my studio to play.

Around the center panel, I added two flanges or fillets, one black and one from purple and black striped fabric.  The border fabric was as close as I could get to the moss and other green stuff that often grows on and around the headstones.  The couple seems to like Celtic things, and so I added some knotwork applique to create a little interest. 

I am thrilled to report that this little quilt lives above the mantel in their master bedroom.  Seeing it again was like having a birthday and getting a great present.  I thank them for allowing me to share it with you.  For more information on this quilt and to see more tribute quilts, visit my website at www.MoonlightingQuilts.com.

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Art in the Park

My Booth at Truro’s Art in the ParkI live in an amazing neighborhood.  My neighbors are wonderful, the houses are cool, and the sense of community is something I’ve never experienced before. 

Yesterday, we celebrated the artists in our community by reviving a Truro tradition called “Art in the Park.”  For two hours, we invited people from the ‘hood to browse our booths and buy or just introduce themselves.  I am in awe of the talent in our little corner of the world.  We had painters, jewelers, photographers, fiber artists, mixed media artists, art suppliers, and even someone who was selling coffee!  Of course, we had enterprising youngsters with lemonade, hot cider, and brownies, and we had a booth with entertainment for the kids.  The weather was glorious and the everyone seemed cheerful.

I just wanted to get my quilts out there so that people would know what it is that I do all day.  I didn’t sell any quilts, but I did have the chance to meet some great people and make some great connections.  On the bright side, I can continue to enjoy these quilts for a little longer…

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I Love Teaching

Paintstik Primer Class PictureI truly love teaching.  My degree is in education and I taught seventh grade English for over a decade.  It was challenging, but I loved it.  There were so many rewards.

I think my favorite aspect of teaching is being able to witness the “aha” moments.  Today, during my Paintstik Primer class, I witnessed such a moment and was reminded why I spend so much time planning and researching topics for class.  In the middle of our class — in the middle of creating wonderful painted textures using rubbing plates, in the middle of filling in stencils with these richly colored oil paints — a student had her own personal aha moment.  “We’re designing our own fabrics!”  Yup.  That’s exactly what we’re doing, but there’s more.  We’re also stretching our limits, playing with artistic toys, and spending time with other artists.

There’s a lot of discussion out there about taking classes.  Some quilt artists feel that we should not take classes for fear that we’ll create derivative artwork as a result.  Others feel that we should take as many classes as we can to “fill the well” and to help us grow as artists. 

I think the answer is somewhere in the middle.  As long as we are mindful of the trap of derivative work, we won’t create it.  I recently took a class with Melody Johnson.  My class project looks very much like her body of work.  My next piece, however, incorporated some of Melody’s timesaving techniques and looked nothing like her artwork.  Isn’t that the point of taking classes? 

This week I saw a Journal Quilt created by an artist who took one of my Toolbox classes.  I’m thrilled to report that she used a technique she learned in one of my classes in combination with her many other skills to create a quilt that will stand out in the Journal Quilt exhibit this year in Houston.  Not derivative.  It was truly original work and I am honored to know that I contributed just a little. 

 I do love teaching.

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What Do You Call That?

Moonlit TreeA friend of mine posed an interesting question the other day and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  What do you call those things you make — class projects, design explorations, new techniques that look more like science experiments?  And what do you do with them? 

They may be finished; they may be UFOs.  They may have been successful in someone’s eyes, but to you, they’re a dog’s breakfast.  Do you keep them, trash them, donate them to your guild’s auction, repurpose them, hang them on the door of your studio as a warning to future experiments? (Don’t come in here!  This could happen to you!)

These things are like past relationships; they made you what you are today.  A failed class project may allow you to say, “I hate that technique and I’ll never use it again.”  An experiment may show that an idea is good, but you’re going to have to work on your technique.  And some of these things are like fine wines: they have to age. 

I sat in for one day of a Laura Cater-Woods  class and I felt like a fish out of water.  I liked her work, but I didn’t see it relating to what I do.  Now I really wish I’d paid more attention.  I wasn’t ready, but those ideas have aged and I’m ready to think about them again.  By the way, she has a new workbook available at http://www.cater-woods.com/ that I plan to buy.

Which brings me to my Tree.  A while back I took a class with Ruth McDowell.  Wow, is she good at what she does!  Anyway, she was teaching in the area and I wanted to learn what I could from her.  I arrived on the first day with more fabric than you can imagine and a variety of photos from which to choose.  At the end of the first day, I was sketching because none of my painstakingly selected photos worked.  The rest of the week was spent creating the pattern and beginning (yes, beginning) the fabric selection.  I give you my Tree, still on the design board from class.  It lives in my storage room, mocking me from the corner whenever I go in there.  I can’t bring myself to disassemble it because I spent so much time on it and since I love the image.  So there it stays, waiting for me to do something with it.  While it ages, I think I’ll pretend it’s finished.  It’s a portrait of a concept, frozen in time until I am ready to work on it again. 

But I’m sorry to say, Donna, I still don’t know what to call it.

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