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Archive for the ‘Getting Out of my Studio’ Category

I love to teach. I enjoy traveling to quilt shows outside my region, meeting new people and reconnecting with quilting friends. When I’m teaching away from home, I refer to this as being in the Quilt Bubble. Everywhere I look, I see quilt-related things, hear quilt-related discussions, engage in quilt-related activities. I love being in this bubble.

Happy Paper Piecing Class at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, MN

When I go away, I try to keep up with day-to-day things like my email, my deadlines, and world events. It’s hard to find the time and energy after a full day of teaching (sometimes three classes in one day!) to reach out to discover what’s going on outside my quilt bubble.

As I write this, I’m flying back home from Minneapolis, where I taught inside the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo quilt bubble. Before this show, I spent an amazing week at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in another quilt bubble. Over these two weeks, I gave one lecture and taught eleven classes involving machine quilting, foundation paper piecing, and surface design. These quilt bubbles were lovely, calm, and friendly places to be. However, while I was busy inside my quilt bubble, the world was not so lovely, calm, and friendly. And so, I have two lessons to report from this experience.

  1. Treasure those moments when you can spend time with your tribe, pursuing your passions and sharing your interests with others of like minds. These times can be scarce and fleeting. Live in these moments and honor them.
  2. Be gentle with yourself upon re-entry into the real world. Contents of the overhead bins may have shifted during your flight.

And so, thank you to everyone who has been part of any of my quilt bubbles this year — both at home and on the road. I value our time together and thank you for sharing your time and energy with me. Let’s do it again soon!

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If it’s fall, then the IQA Quilt Festival in Houston is right around the corner. I love the Houston show. (Question: Why do we refer to quilt shows by the location rather than the official show name? Discuss.) The Houston show has more quilts, more vendors, and more visitors than any other show I’ve ever attended. Think really big. In 2010, attendance was over 60,000 people.

FQF13WebButtonTeachers

If you’re planning to be there, I’d love to see you! Here’s where you can find me.

Tsukineko Ink Basics (Class)

Set of InksThursday, October 31, 9am-noon, class number 446. This is my second year to teach this class at the Houston show, but I’ve taught it many times for guilds and at Artistic Artifacts, my local fiber arts shop.

I really like Tsukineko inks and the subtle color they can add to labels and printed photographs. What I LOVE about these inks is how much fun it can be to color black-and-white commercial fabrics. I like to start with a very light value and then add more ink to achieve darker color values. The inks can be heat set and then more layers added.

Design Your Own Memory Quilt (Class)

Celebration Quilt

Thursday, October 31, 2-5pm, class number 484. I taught this class last year, too! Many of the quilts I make are memory or celebration quilts, using materials and artifacts to commemorate an event or a person’s life. So many of the quilters I talk with want to make personal and original memory quilts. I teach this class locally and I travel to teach it at shows and guilds. It’s important to me to help quilters gain the confidence and skills they need to commemorate in quilts what’s important to them in life.

In this class, I show examples of memory quilts, walk students through the worksheet from my book on memory and celebration quilts, and brainstorm with them to inspire ideas and overcome potential roadblocks. Everyone gets a chance to share their ideas and ask questions. Students arrive with a topic and leave with ideas, suggestions, and a path to follow.

It’s Okay to Write on Your Quilts (Lecture)

Color!Friday, November 1, 11am-noon, event number 549. I love adding text as graphic elements in my work and I’m gratified that this has been identified as a trend in the art quilt world. I believe the writing on your quilts should not be confined to your labels. In this lecture, I share lots of examples of adding text using your sewing machine, paint, ink, and beads. The possibilities are endless!

Meet the Teachers

Creating Celebration Quilts Book CoverFriday, November 1, 2:30-3pm and Saturday, November 2, 1:30-2pm. The show organizers invite teachers to present a half-hour presentation to help us connect with show visitors. I’ll be there sharing my book, Creating Celebration Quilts, and talking about making memory and celebration quilts. If you miss this class on Thursday, this will give you an overview of how to get started on your own memory quilts. No tickets required; this is a free event.

Printing on Fabric with Wooden Printing Blocks (Open Studios)

WoodBlockShellSaturday, November 2, 4-6pm and Sunday, November 3, noon to 2pm. While I love using commercially available fabrics, it’s fun and gratifying to create my own fabric with paint and stamps. In these free demos, I’ll show how easy it is to create your own fabric using some paint and the wonderful wooden printing blocks from Colouricious (available from Artistic Artifacts online, at the store in Alexandria, Virginia, or at the show). These versatile blocks can be used for stamping, for rubbing as a texture plate, and for display. LOVE them. No tickets required; this is a free event.

I hope I see you there!

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Beach

Join me in the Caribbean!

I love it when I can combine a bunch of favorite things in one event, don’t you? Next March (2014), I’m teaming up with Quilt Retreats at Sea and Artistic Artifacts for an eight-night quilting cruise where I can enjoy:

  • Travel to warm places while it’s cold at home
  • Spending time with my hubby
  • Spending time with quilting buddies (quilters I know now and quilters I will meet)
  • Sharing my favorite original quilt pattern with other quilters
  • Giving out prizes and surprises
  • Food, food, and more food
  • Ocean view
  • Sewing!
Cruise Project, Ocean View

Friendship Chain, Purple Rain Colorway — Fabrics will vary

Sounds good, right? I’d love it if you’d join us! We’ll leave Baltimore on Friday, March 28, 2014 on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. Our ship was refurbished in 2012 and is just beautiful! Click here to read all about the ship. Our stops include Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, Bahamas; and Key West, Florida. We can have beach time, shopping time, sightseeing time, and just lazy time. We’ll return to Baltimore on Saturday, April 5.

On three of our days, we’ll be at sea, having fun piecing a quilt. I’ll be teaching the techniques you’ll need to successfully complete our quick and easy project. This is my favorite pattern, Friendship Chain. Back before the Dawn of Time (when I was in elementary school), we used to make these zigzag bracelets out of paper chewing gum wrappers. This quilt reminds me of those bracelets, hence the name. I can almost smell the Juicy Fruit gum!

Tangerine Sunrise Colorway

Tangerine Sunrise Colorway — Fabrics will vary

Quilt Cruisers will get to choose from two colorways: Purple Rain and Tangerine Sunrise. Our sewing machines are being provided for us along with an expert to troubleshoot as needed and keep us rolling in full bobbins! But the best part about our quick and easy project is that I will cut the kit for you. When you sit down to work, you will not have to cut strips or subcut blocks — it’ll all be ready for you to get started!

If you are a fast worker (and you know who you are!), you might want to bring a small UFO or two. While the ship has lots of distractions for your free time, you may finish your quilt top and want something to work on during the optional Stitch-and-Sail sewing times.

Toward the end of our cruise, I’ll have a surprise project for you to work on. We’re going to have lots and lots of fun!

Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas

So, what’s included on the cruise? The Friendship Quilting Cruise Package includes:

Snow on the Deck

March 2013 in Virginia – Wouldn’t you rather be in the Caribbean in March 2014?

  • Eight nights aboard the Grandeur of the Seas
  • All port fees and taxes
  • Prepaid onboard gratuities
  • Trip/travel insurance
  • Two group cocktail parties
  • All onboard meals
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Quilting classes and instruction
  • Project kits and materials
  • Open Stitch-and-Sail sewing times
  • Group events, prizes, giveaways!

I’d love you to join us! For more information or to register, contact Quilt Retreats at Sea. If you have any questions, e-mail me.

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Picture of Austin Sunrise

Austin Sunrise from our Room — Do you see the reflection in the window?

For years, I have advocated filling the well. I don’t think it’s sustainable to put art and ideas out into the world without taking in some sort of artistic nourishment. And so, I’ve counseled my friends and students to visit museums, walk art shows, page through beautiful books, and look at engaging sights.

In December, on a trip to Austin, Texas, with my husband, I learned that I was only halfway there with my well-filling philosophy. It appears my recommendations were too limited.

Walking Path in Austin

We Walked Everywhere…

Austin is a vibrant and lively city, even in the dead of winter. We walked across bridges, through the city on endless sidewalks, and along a few roads that were not designed for pedestrians. We ate, we walked, we drank, we walked, we listened to music, and we walked some more. We enjoyed galleries, shopped in boutiques, and visited historic monuments and museums.

Here’s what I learned.

Gourdough Foodtruck

Gourdough Foodtruck – Home of Big.Fat.Donuts that you eat with a fork!

All sights and sounds are food for your spirit. You don’t need to limit yourself to “artful” activities. Our wanderings were just what I needed to renew the wellspring that sustains my creativity. The irony? Until I reached for my notebook to jot a quick sketch, I hadn’t even been aware that I had been running on empty. The sensation of choosing a pen and opening the cover seemed foreign. It had been too long.

My new well-filling philosophy?

There's a spoon on my nose!

Embarrassing my Husband

Keep your eyes open. Use all of your senses. Don’t wait until your well is so empty that it’s an effort to get out your supplies and play. Every day (okay, start small and think every week), look around in wonderment and really SEE something. Look at the structure, the colors, the scale, the signs of wear. THINK about your observations and let your brain play with what you see. How do you react to the frayed edges of that fabric or the patina on that sculpture? How do you respond to the snow on the path or the sand on the boardwalk? Do you SMELL the ocean or perhaps something blooming? Do you HEAR the wind rushing through the trees or the ocean rushing to shore? FEEL the sun on your face – or the rain or the snow.

Even if you cannot link these sensations to your art, you are still contributing to your art. Be aware. Be in the moment. Try it. I’ll try it, too.  And let me know how it works for you.

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Back Corner of the GalleryI took a road trip yesterday. I packed my truck with the 104 quilts of the Power Suits Art Quilt Challenge and I drove them to the Arts Center in Orange, Virginia, where they will be on display from June 7 until July 20, 2012.

The quilts will be shown in three locations: the Morin Gallery at the Arts Center in Orange, VA, the Law Offices of Sean D. Gregg, and the Virginia National Bank. All three locations are just a few steps away from each other.

Quilts to Hang NextThe opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, June 7, 2012, from 5 to 7pm at the Arts Center in Orange at 129 East Main Street, Orange, Virginia. Normal exhibit hours at the Arts Center are 10am-5pm, Monday through Saturday. Most of the quilts will be at this location.

You can find some of the Power Suit Quilts at the Law Offices of Sean D. Gregg, 111 East Main Street, Orange, Virginia. Hours are 9am-5pm Monday through Friday.

Long Wall with QuiltsThe third exhibit location is the Virginia National Bank, 102 East Main Street, Orange, Virginia. Hours are 8:30am-5pm Monday through Thursday; 8:30am-6pm Friday; 9am-noon Saturday.

For more information about the Power Suits Art Quilt Challenge or to find out where the quilts are headed next, visit the Power Suits website.

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Recently, I received an intriguing e-mail from the folks who bring us the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I’m teaching there again this year and they were asking their teachers to send their top five tips for quilting or whatever our specialties are. Here’s what I sent them. You may see these tips on their website, but why wait?

  1. Technique counts! If the points are supposed to match, then take your time and make the points match. If you’re adding a traditional binding, take the few extra minutes to make sure your binding is full and tight with nicely mitered corners. And “Art Quilt” is not code for sloppy and haphazard – unless you are intentionally going for a sloppy and haphazard effect in your work. Whatever you’re doing, do it well.
  2. When you’re choosing fabric to represent something, think outside the box. For my Trees workshop, students often show up with fabric that has bark printed on it to use for tree trunks. While that may seem logical, the scale of these prints is almost always off. Instead, look at your stash and think color and feel. You may be really surprised by what works best!
  3. Use your thread! As quilters, we collect pretty thread and then stash it in boxes or line it up on shelves and racks for display. Why do we do that? Instead, go ahead and use it. They’ll make more!
  4. Be purposeful in your work. Sometimes we all need to throw together a quick quilt from a kit or our favorite fabrics, but it’s important to also make the time to create purposefully. Think through your decisions as you choose fabric, thread, paint. Are you adding those beads because they move the quilt forward or because you just took a beading class and everything suddenly looks like it needs a few beads? Do you really want that focal point in the absolute center of the quilt? Maybe you do, but you might want to consider the effect of that bull’s-eye before you commit to it. Be present in your work and consider what you are doing.
  5. Teach someone to quilt. Share your knowledge and your love of the art. Pay it forward. You may never know the good you’ve done, and that is perfectly fine.

If you’re going to the Quilt Festival in Houston, I hope to see you there. My trees class is Friday night and I’d love to see you at my lecture, The Anatomy of a Commission, on Thursday at 10am. And I’ll be in the Bernina booth on Saturday trying to create change in the world one gift bag at a time.

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Awhile back, I shared with you that I drank the Bernina Kool-Aid. Well, a few weeks ago, I visited Orlando, FL, to attend Bernina University. What an experience! And more Kool-Aid!

Martin Favre Welcome at BU 2010

Martin Favre Welcoming Us to BU

The kick-off meeting was a huge multi-media event hosted by Martin Favre, Bernina of America’s president. The opening was filled with audio, video, dancers, showcases, entertainment, education, and, of course, sewing machines. You’re seeing pictures of the screens, since they photographed more clearly than the people on stage. 

Jennifer Gigas and a 380

Jennifer Gigas Introduces the 380

Before we went to Bernina University, we kept hearing about the new 3 Series machines: 330, 350, and 380. It was worth the wait to see these machines in action. They are wonderful machines for sewers of all kinds. I can easily imagine these machines being snapped up by young moms wanting to sew for their children and homes, by sewers who are becoming a little more serious about their work and want to upgrade from their beginner machines, and by sewers who want a second (Or third or fourth – you know who you are!) machine to take to retreats or classes or travel. The Quilt Patch, where I teach and manage the Bernina department, is planning a 3 Series event in late August. If you’re interested, you’ll have to reserve your spot. Look for the announcement on the Quilt Patch website in the next week.

Of course, Bernina University is about more than ceremonies. I took classes and learned until my head was full. My classes included machine embroidery, the CutWork tool software (OMG, too cool!), information about the 820 and the 830, and using online resources like websites and social networking. I saw amazing art-to-wear done as I prefer it – to personalize and augment your look, not to announce your entrance. It was inspirational.
View from the Window

The View from our Hotel Window

I wasn’t looking forward to Orlando in the summer, but northern Virginia was actually hotter than Orlando. Amazing. It felt odd to go all the way to the Land of Disney without actually visiting Mickey, but we had a tremendous view from our window of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. In the evenings, we watched amazing sunsets and then caught the 9:00 fireworks. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I came back with my head full of ideas and projects. Now, if I only had more time…

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