Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A quilt for the RED Sofa

My new friend, Pat, had her dream house built this year. Despite many rain delays, surveying hold-ups, and the usual construction schedule modifications, her house was completed this summer and she was finally able to move in. She had been furniture shopping while the house was being built and had stored several pieces. One of the pieces she had always wanted was a red sofa—and she found it.

When I heard about the red sofa (and being a lover of all colors bold and bright), I was eager to see her new home and experience her decorating style. Her new house is classic and decorated with an eclectic flair and several unique furniture and art pieces. As a house-warming gift, I decided to make her a quilt. And for the lady who owns a red sofa, I didn't need to shy away from my stash of bold and bright fabrics (yay!).

The quilting and binding was completed this weekend and the house-warming gift delivered. Here is Pat, opening her gift while seated on her red sofa. Pat, we wish you many "Happy Hours" in your new home!

Here is the back of the quilt. I free-motion machine quilted it with loops, leaves and feather motifs on my Janome 6500. The large graphic print in lime green and chocolate is by Valorie Wells for Free Spirit.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's "The Holidays" ... an artist trading card swap

So, what's your fav holiday? Pick one, any one—your holiday du jour. "The Holidays" was the theme for this ATC swap and the holidays depicted were not just the current end-of-year, cold-month commemoratives, but spanned the entire year ... and farther.

The inspiration and creativity of the artists in the FiberAntics ATC swaps never ceases to amaze me. At first site, I am impressed at how the techniques are so skillfully executed and the thoughtfully chosen color palette enhances each card's composition. A further inspection—and a flip to the back side of the card—reveals specifics on the materials used and how "personal" these choices can be. Participants will certainly smile (or LOL) over the inspiration for the Santa ATC (bottom row, far left). Who'da thought to use this "fabric"? An ATC artist did!

So, if your 2010 calendar doesn't have some of these holidays listed, here they are:

June 6, National Day in Sweden; September 20, International Day of Peace; January 26, Australia Day

February 6, Waitangi Day; March 8, International Women's Day; April 26, Secretaries Day

October 10, Cuban Independence from Spain 1868; July 12, Battle of the Boyne, a Northern Ireland holiday (of sorts); 5th Full moon of the year, Dragon Boat Festival.

May your holidays be merry all through the year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crayola doesn't make a color for your eyes

Welcome to December! Celebrate the season: draw, or paint, or quilt, or sew, or collage something that makes YOU smile. This will get you started, or at least get your toes tapping...  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"A Page from my Journal" quilt challenge

This week my quilt guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, revealed the results of its annual Guild Challenge. From a small guild of about 18 members, there was an excellent response—including an entry from a visiting quiltmaker. The 9 journal quilts on display illustrated memories of people, special occasions, and trips to places far and near in a variety of fabrics, stitches and trims.

The Challenge, entitled "A Page from my Journal," asked participants to take a page from their life's diary and document it in a 16" x 16" quilt. With a reference to the crazy quilt era in which fragments of clothing, decorative stitching and other embellishments were incorporated into quilts, entries were required to have at least 5 different woven or non-woven fabrics, 3 different decorative trims and include hand or machine embroidery in the composition. The quilt style could be pictorial, abstract, collage, pieced or appliqué.

Congratulations to all the participants and Challenge winners! Here are their "stories in cloth."

"Bad Hair Day" by Kim H.

"Pennsylvania Snow Day" by Deb H.

"Julia's Girls do the Town" by Cristy C.

"Ireland's Treasure" by Mayrelou S.

"Memories of Gram" by Veronica H.
Best Workmanship award
Viewers' Choice/Best of Show

"A Travel Journal" by Vista M.
Most Variety of Fabrics and Trims award
Best Use of Embroidery and Embellishments

"A Day in the Garden" by Sherry B.

"Birthdays" by Delores D.

"Pink is my new Favorite Color" by Ginny M.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A beautiful blend of tradition and contemporary fine art

My good friend and quilt group "sister," Tari Ristorcelli, sent me this video link of the "Rooted in Tradition" and "Sew—It's Art" quilt exhibit currently on display at the Florida International Museum at St. Petersburg College, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tari's wool log cabin quilt was one of about 40 quilts juried into the "Sew—It's Art" Best of Pinellas County quilt exhibit. (Look for the orange, yellow and red quilt above the blue and purple star quilt.) She designed her piece in response to a guild Challenge.

Other quilt artists whose pieces are included in the exhibit are Yvonne Porcella, Carol Bryer Fallert, Pauline Salzman, Ann Johnson and Richard Schultz. See how history and tradition have influenced today's quiltmakers through these exquisite quilts.

Congratulations, Tari, on your beautiful quilt!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Inkle Weaving with Ann Mullican

If you've ever had an inkling about weaving, you might try an Inkle. Inkle weaving is a centuries old craft with many practical and contemporary uses.

Textiles woven on an inkle loom are long and narrow and lend themselves to items such as belts, bands, straps, trims and other narrow-format pieces. The inkle looms are portable, easy to use, and perfect for beginners.
I attended an Inkle Weaving workshop this weekend with instructor Ann Mullican from Hendersonville, NC. Ann is a wonderful teacher and a very accomplished weaver. The workshop was sponsored by the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild in Chattanooga.

At the workshop, students used tabletop inkle looms to weave long pieces approximately 1.75" wide. The woven bands were then sewn to form a tetrahedron and made into a 3-dimensional doll.

Ann taught us how to design and graph the pattern, warp the looms and make a "butterfly" of the weft threads.

Here I am with weaving instructor, Ann Mullican (center), and Pat (right), a fellow fiber arts guild member and  fellow NIU (Northern Illinois University) alum.
These are the 3/2 pearl cotton warp threads on my inkle loom. The chartreuse thread wound into a butterfly is my weft.

Our inkle loom "dolls with character."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"It's a Girl Thing" ATCs and a message for Women

Pink prevailed in the FiberAntics October ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap. Among the eyelets and lace, luscious velvet trims, pearl buttons, teeny bikinis and all-things-bling, there were health-conscious reminders that surfaced in the artist trading cards about the importance of annual mammograms. Although it was not a conscious decision on my part to have "It's a girl thing" as the theme for October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, sending the message to "Get Screened" is always timely.

Here are some statistics in the United States:
•  every 3 minutes, one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer,
•  every 13 minutes, one woman dies of breast cancer,
•  there are 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States,
•  with early detection and if confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98%.

The small group of artists who traded in person relayed stories of their "annual ritual" and family and friends who are BC survivors. One trader's grandmother, a BC survivor,  is going 30+ years strong. Congratulations! You go, Girl!

If pink makes you think "girl things," I hope you'll take one step further and associate it with an annual mammogram. If a history of this disease runs in your family, talk with your doctor and reevaluate the recommended "40 years of age" starting point for a mammogram—I did, and have had routine mammograms since my late 20s. The procedure is really not scary and the advancements with digital technology have improved processing, diagnosis and treatment.

Studies have shown that mammograms and early detection does make a difference. So, tell all the women in your life to "Get Screened." It's not just a girl thing.  It can make a difference  in everyone's life. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New 2010 ATC themes

Hey FiberAntics ATC Artists! I've gotten inquiries about continuing the ATC swaps next year. If you're all still game, let's DO IT!

New ATC themes are listed below and are posted on the right. I hope they inspire and intrigue.

January: It's about time...
February: Epigrams
March: From the Garage
April: If I were a flower
May: Bridges
June: Folklore Across the Continents
    If you want to participate in a swap, read the ATC swap rules and e-mail me by the registration date for each swap.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Inkle Loom Weaving workshop

    This past weekend, the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild members demonstrated spinning and weaving at the Ketner's Mill Fair, an annual country craft and art fair in Whitwell, Tennessee. One of the weaving techniques demonstrated was Inkle Loom weaving, and I got to talk with weaver extraordinaire, Mary Lou Scohier, for a step-by-step view of dressing and weaving on this type of loom.

    The Inkle Loom is a classic loom for beginners because of its simplicity and ease of use. The tabletop loom Mary Lou used for the demo was small, compact and very portable but she indicated Inkle looms come in various sizes. She has a larger, floor loom at home. Inkle weaving dates back thousands of years and was introduced in the United States in the 1930s. The narrow format of Inkle weaving lends itself to such things as belts, bands, straps, trims, ribbons, garment decorations and accessories. Creativity abounds with the use of color and pattern. 

    Worsted weight yarn was used for the warp and weft threads on Mary Lou's piece, but any weight of thread, yarn or string could be used. As an art quilter who creates wearables, this opened up my mind to all kinds of possibilities!

    If this technique piques your creative curiosity, the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild is hosting an Inkle Loom workshop November 14-15. The instructor, Ann Mullican, is a well-known weaver and teacher in the weaving community. Workshop participants (I'll be one of them!) will learn the weaving technique by making a "Woven Doll with Character." Details for the workshop are on the guild's web site. Come and join the guild for a fun weekend of Inkle weaving.

    Create your own Inkle Loom Doll with Character!

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Geometry and Quiltmaking—A Dynamic Duo

    Do you remember high school geometry? Some of the terms, formulas and applications are probably second nature to you if you are a quiltmaker. My niece, Dana, has a geometry class assignment to create a quilted pot holder (OK, a mini-quilt) that is due this week. On Sunday afternoon I got "the call."

    The requirements of the project had to include: a sketch of the quilt top on graph paper, an example of at least six geometry terms, and 3 layers quilted (stitched) together bound with a double-fold binding. Dana and I designed her project so it also included a loop from which to hang it—a most desirable attribute for pot holder.

    Here is the finished project. She chose the 4-patch Broken Dishes pattern found in Jinny Beyer's "The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders," and did an EXCELLENT job matching the points and nesting the seam allowances. This was also Dana's first time using a sewing machine.

    We had the all-important safety lesson on how to use the rotary cutter.

    The fabrics chosen were based on color and value to illustrate symmetry, rotation and other terms.

    In addition to being a functional element to the quilt, the machine quilting served as a design tool to illustrate acute angles, parallel and perpendicular lines.

    At one point in the evening, I asked Dana if she wanted to make the geometry assignment a 2-day project and finish it the following evening. In the spirit of a true quilter (and the incentive of extra points), she was determined to forge ahead and finish that evening. So, we auditioned binding fabric, cut strips, and created the double-fold binding. She finished the binding and the hanging loop with hand stitching.

    Below is Dana with her Grandma, taking a picture with the cell phone of the finished project. It deserves an A+. Very well done, Dana!

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Red Bank Market features Arts & Crafts

    This Saturday, October 10, the Red Bank Neighborhood Pride Association is holding the first ever Red Bank Market. The market will be highlighting Octoberfest with several artisans showing and selling their work which includes fiber arts, artisan and stained glass, hand crafted jewelry, hand-painted furniture, soaps, candles and other uniquely crafted items. I will be there with my artful journals and other fiber art creations. Look for the FiberAntics banner and tent.

    Artful journals by Veronica

    The Market will take place from 11 am to 5 pm at the Red Bank City Park across from Bi Lo on Dayton Boulevard. Fresh produce from local growers, entertainment and food are planned and a live flower swap is scheduled. Come out for a fun day and make the first Red Bank Market a success! Red Bank Market: www.redbankmarket.com

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    ATCs: Water

    "Water" was the theme for the September ATC swap and the last in series: "The Elements." The personalities featured on the cards included Richard Nixon, Sponge Bob, and Noah (as in the ark). Can you imagine a social gathering in which all these "people" were in attendance? (So, is Sponge Bob considered a "person"?)

    My inspiration came from the days and days (and days!) of rain we've been having. This week the sun has finally returned and fall temperatures in the 70s are a welcome change.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Threads magazine: Spot the Difference

    Threads magazine: Spot the Difference, Issue #120
    Ever play the game, "Can you find the difference"? Here's a fun one for the sewing enthusiasts. I was successful at finding all the "differences" on a few of the covers... but only after some practice. Try a few and see how you do.
    Posted using ShareThis

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Hatcher Foundation "Hope Quilts" free pattern

    My friend and fellow quilt guild member, Pat, is championing the establishment of a new pediatric cancer center, Hatch's House of Hope, here in Chattanooga. Pat works in the medical field, and about two years ago I remember talking with her in the parking lot after a guild meeting. I listened as she relayed the devastating experience her friends, one of which was a co-worker, were having. Their newborn child had been diagnosed with brain cancer. 

    Recently, Pat told me about the foundation her friends had established in honor of their son, who had died of the disease at 9 weeks old. It is called the Austin Hatcher Foundation (www.hatcherfoundation.org). They are in the process of securing sponsors and volunteers to raise funds and awareness. As a quilter, Pat had the idea of making "hope quilts" that could be given to the children, siblings and family of the cancer patients. I wanted to help her make this idea take flight.

    Hope Quilts—A Fat Quarter friendly quilt pattern
    With a passion for patchwork and puzzles and inspired by the grid-based paintings of Pieter Mondriaan (Piet Mondrian), I have designed a lap-size quilt (36" x 48") that uses 7 coordinating fat quarters. This quilt is based on a modular system and all the fabric pieces are a multiple of 3"so the layout possibilities are endless! This quilt could also be made with scraps. For a FREE PATTERN and instructions, send an e-mail to veronicaquilts@gmail.com. Dig into your Fat Quarter stash and give hope to a child or a family.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Lace Knitting—a sampler scarf

    Have you tried lace knitting? Here's my first attempt—a sampler scarf—using two lace patterns with rows of garter stitch between. The yarn, Alpaca Prima by Plymouth Yarn, is a 100% superfine alpaca fiber. The scarf took only one hank (363 yards/100g) and the periwinkle blue is color No. 1600. This yarn also comes in several other beautiful, rich solids and heathers.

    This sampler is comprised of two stitch patterns: Herringbone Faggot (a single row reversible pattern) and Trellis Lace (a four row repeat). Other lace patterns could be incorporated provided they had the same multiple of stitches. One enjoyable thing about working a sampler is the variety—if one pattern is not your cup of tea, there is another one coming up shortly. It keeps your mind engaged.

    Our knitting instructor listed this project's skill level as "intermediate," but if you are a confident beginner looking for a bit of a challenge, give lace knitting a try.

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    The Great Chicago Fire and Smokey Bear

    These are Artist Trading Cards from the third in "The Elements" series. This month's theme was Fire. Mrs. O'Leary's cow proclaims, "I've been framed," and insists the real cause was the candles on her birthday cake. I guess you had to be there.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Salute to Liberty quilt party

    A great group of quilters got together for a Friday Night Quilting Party. We learned a technique for making the flying geese unit that is quick and "fabric efficient." Thank you to all that attended and for your help with the refreshments, set-up, clean-up, and above all, for your wonderful company, friendly conversation and a fun time quilting.
    A block sub-unit is shown here in two colorways.
    The quilt block is comprised of four sub-units.
    To create a block, rotate each of the four sub-units 90 degrees from each other so the white fabric is in the center of the block.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    New host for ATC swaps

    For those who have been participating in the ATC (Artist Trading Card) swaps at Stone Light Studio, or have been following the results of recent trades on my blog, I will now be hosting the swaps through my blog.

    The swaps have been very successful as well as inspiring with a minimum of bumps along the way. We all follow the Golden Rule: give what you would like to receive; and everyone has a good time.

    Anyone is welcome to participate in the swaps—quilters, stampers, scrapbookers and mixed media artists. The Rules and Guidelines are posted here.

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    ATC Swap Rules & Guidelines

    The size of an ATC is 2.5" x 3.5" (64 mm x 89 mm).

    Cards are made as one-of-a-kind pieces or in a limited edition.

    The front of the card can be done in any media: fabric, stitching, textile arts, paper, rubber stamps, colored pencil, paint, ink, calligraphy, beadwork, digital art, mixed media, collage, etc.

    On the back of the card, the artist writes part or all of the following information: artist's name, contact information, title of the ATC, date, and number (1/8, 2/8, 3/8 ...) if it's part of an edition.

    Bonus! Previous traders enjoyed learning about the techniques and materials used in the ATCs. Please include information on the back of the card or include a small slip of paper with a sentence or two about what you used to make your card.

    Follow the Golden Rule: Give what you would like to receive! Whether you are new to making ATCs or you have years of experience, do your best. What most collectors really want are cards that were made with care.

    When you sign up for a trade, you are on the “honor system” that you will participate. Realize that the other participants will be making a card to trade with you, so please respect their investment of time and materials.

    After the swap registration closing date, I will notify you with the total number of participants (so you’ll know how many cards to make). We'll be trading ATCs one-for-one.

    Cards are due 4 days prior to the swap if you are mailing your cards. After the swap, I will mail you the ATCs you receive in trade. When you mail in your cards, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope (or a SASE). If you want me to use the USPS package tracking service, please include the extra cost.

    I often post pictures on this blog of the ATCs received in the swaps. By participating in the swaps, I have your permission to post a picture of your ATC. If you don not want pictures posted, you must notify me specifically. All artwork seen on the blog is for inspiration only and the copyright remains with each individual artist. Reproduction without consent of the artist is not permitted.

    E-mail me at veronicaquilts@gmail.com if you have any questions. Enjoy the trade!

    Guild Challenge quilt—Take Flight

    The 2008 Choo Choo Quilters Guild Challenge was called the "Open Door Challenge." (I finally got around to taking a picture of my entry.) Among the guidelines that were issued was the incorporation of a door somewhere in the quilt. Here is my response to the challenge. It is an art quilt entitled "Break Free. Take Flight."

    Various hand-dyed fabrics, including my shibori hand-dyed pieces, were used to create this piece. It is 39.5" x 39.5", machine pieced and free-motion machine quilted. I used my Janome 6500 domestic sewing machine to quilt it. It won the Best Workmanship, Viewer's Choice and Best Door awards. I was very honored.
    "Break Free. Take Flight" detail.

    My "door" is the bird cage door that is machine quilted into the composition.

    Sunday, August 2, 2009

    A day with the Tennessee Valley Quilters Assoc.

    Stone Light Studio vended at the Tennessee Valley Quilters Association (TVQA) annual Assembly Day event this past weekend. Assembly Day is a day when all member quilt guilds of the Association (which encompasses the Tennessee River Valley area—Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky) assemble for a day of quilting activities—a quilt exhibit, a presentation by a national quilting instructor or industry personality, shopping, Show and Tell, a quilted wearables floor show, door prizes and various association announcements.

    It was a bustling day with lots of excitement, renewal of friendships, food and fellowship. Members from the three hosting guilds were friendly, helpful, attentive and very organized. Things ran very smoothly which makes it a pleasure for us who vend at these kinds of events. Here are some of our offerings which we packed for the show.

    My business associate and I shared a showroom with another vendor, Lebanon Vacuum and Sewing Center. Upon arriving at our space, we were openly greeted by our "roommates" who were familiar with our store through our web site and e-news blasts. They commented on our unique products, creativity and artistic use of color and were very complimentary of our web site and e-newsletters. An amazing feature in their store's display was the beautiful hand quilting on all their quilts. (And these were bed-size quilts!)

    During a lull in the activities, we had the opportunity to visit with the other vendors. In a conversation with Wanda from the Lebanon Sewing Center, she was amazed and impressed to discover that I had quilted all our quilts using freehand (no mark), free-motion quilting and a domestic [Janome 6500] sewing machine. "I was sure they were done on a long-arm, computerized Gammill machine," she said.

    It's always nice to hear when people take notice of your work. It's especially gratifying and humbling to receive compliments from one's peers.
    Store display at the 2009 TVQA Assembly Day.

    ATCs: The Elements series—Earth

    What can I say??? Another great Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap! These are the ATCs from the second in our 4-month series entitled The Elements. The theme was "Earth."
    The titles for the cards are: 1. Earth's Geology; 2. Earth; 3. From the Earth; 4. Mineral Wealth; 5. Fool's Gold; 6. Earth; 7. Earth; 8. Earth Song; 9. Mother Earth/good & bad; 10. Mother Earth. Although some of the interpretations followed similar lines of thought, the materials and methods used to execute the ideas were quite diverse: beads, copper mesh, metallic threads, gold edge paper ribbon, silk fibers, fabric and paper; painting, rusting, stamping, embossing, iris folding, stitching, punching, appliqué and digital collage.

    Nine artists participated in the group swap. Card #1 was from a personal swap which I thought everyone would enjoy seeing as it followed the Earth theme. I'm very proud to have this inspiring and thought-provoking collection with a piece of art from each of these very talented artists. Thank you, ATC artists!

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    The Sears Tower: I was number 11

    It was a cold, rainy day in 1973 when the skydeck of Chicago's Sears Tower—the iconic 110-story skyscraper and still North America's tallest building—was opened to the public. I know this because my mom packed my brother and me into the family station wagon, drove us downtown via underground Wacker Drive to get in line outside the Sears Tower to board the elevator "to the top."

    I remember a spry, wiry man in line behind us as we hugged the side of this architectural masterpiece to buffer our faces from the wind and rain. For an opening event, the line was quite short by today's standards. Possibly only the architecture fanatics and Chicago history and trivia buffs decided to brave the inclement weather, or the excitement of a little girl with only 10 people ahead of her in line had clouded my perception of how long the line really was.

    From the skydeck, the view through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows was [predictably] spectacular! We located our house, our grandparent's house, our neighborhhood park, other prestigious buildings and city landmarks as well as locales of a more personal nature. We would have quite the story to tell grandma upon our return.

    This week, the Sears Tower was renamed. Although its original tenant, Sears Roebuck and Co., vacated the offices in the early 90s, the familiar name of this must-see city landmark remained—until now. The rebranding ceremony took place with Chicago's Mayor Daley (the son of the first Mayor Daley during whose term in office the building was erected and in whose neighborhood we lived) and top personnel from the London-based insurance broker, the Willis Group, to unveil the "Willis Tower" signage. Knowing how die-hard Chicagoans can be, I can imagine the rumblings and grumblings over this news. So here, I too, add my posting to the other on-line editorials, websites and blogs which no doubt run the gamut of emotions, responses and recollections.

    For a long time, the red, No. 0000011 ticket stub, the accordion-folded brochure of building stats and diagrams, was in a scrapbook along with other childhood collectibles. Alas, the book's location is unknown to me now, but my memory of that blustery, rainy morning and being the 11th person to go to the top of the Sears Tower remains.

    The task of changing the name on the various and sundry reference materials will hopefully generate revenue for printers, designers, sign painters, mapmakers and the like. However, this rose by any other name will still be "Sears Tower" to me . . . and I dare say it will for many Chicagoans for quite some time.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Mystery Quilts revealed

    I created and taught a 6-month Mystery Quilt class at my fiber arts studio, Stone Light Studio, this year. Each month, the students received a "clue" for assembling various patchwork units. They also learned and mastered dimensional piecing techniques. The final quilt was revealed during the Mystery Quilt's "group solve" session (see pics here )—complete with dark and stormy skies, a fierce rainstorm and the electric lights going out a couple of times at the studio. Eeek! Just like in the mystery novels. (I couldn't have planned a more appropriate backdrop if Sherlock, Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet had been present themselves.)

    Here are results from some of the participants. They all expressed having a wonderful time in the class and were very pleased with their final quilt tops. Each top is so distinctive and unique. I think they did a fantastic job and appreciate each one's willingness to brave the unknown of a Mystery Quilt class!

    This one is the class sample. The name of the pattern is "All Points Bulletin." It is my design.
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