Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Finished the race!

Time is whizzing by and summer is more than half over. And what a busy summer it has been!  Between little trips, yard make-overs, work and a call for submission (more on that later), I've had little time to sit down at the computer.

Last month, on almost the last day of the month, I finished the jelly-roll quilt. It is a little wobbly around the edges, but will keep me warm when I curl up on the couch this winter to read books.  I had fun machine quilting it, as it meant I could dust off my half-size quilting machine again and play with it. The lumpy batting (or my lack of practice) made it a bit of a challenge to keep the lines going straight, but in the end, not too many people will be looking closely at the quilt pattern. I think I may save that batting for doll stuffing and look for a less lumpy variety for any further quilts.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

New website launched

My website has been re-built and is now up and running. No more coding for me, for now! I'm hoping the drag-and-drop method will be more enticing (and easier) to refresh on a regular basis.

You can visit me at


Thursday, June 21, 2018


I've been working on the jelly-roll quilt a little bit each day. It has been sandwiched and the quilting has begun. A master quilter I am not, and it is good to have a "throw" quilt like this to practice on. I've had to take a little break from the quilting today, however, due to a puddle (lake, river?) that crept into my studio during last night's thunderstorm and surrounded the pedal of my quilting machine. Luckily, the pedal was not submerged (unlike the cars up the road last night -- who knew that the flat road could hold so much water?), and I am hoping that a day or two to dry will see it right.

In the meantime, I'll share a little project I've been working on.  A few years ago, I started a visual journal in a day-planner, having seen the idea in a book for using small visual entries to tell about your day, rather than relying only on words. I was good about keeping it up for 3 - 4 months, then missed a day here, and two days there, and before you knew it, had an entire empty week in the day planner. At that time, I threw my hands up in the air and gave up. As a perfectionist, having the empty pages meant I had not done the project "right"!

One of my daughters, while downsizing her possessions to move, passed on to me a small moleskine storyboard book. Each page is 3.5" x 5.5". A month ago, I found it again and went "aha!" This could be the solution to my empty page dilemma.  With no days or dates pre-set in the book, I could miss a day or two and still have full and complete pages. I've been having fun with it, experimenting with format, and think that, for now, I have settled in with what I want to do. Take a look:

Coloured pencils will probably be my go-to medium (watercolours don't work so well on these pages), but I'm leaving myself open for a multi-media approach. I look forward to seeing this book finished, and won't worry about the occasional "missing entry".

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Racing slowly

Well, another evening and an afternoon have seen some progress being made on the jelly-roll race quilt. I can honestly say I would not win any races, but then again, this is not a competition ;-)

One evening last week, I spent an hour and a half doing the next steps in creating the quilt top, according to the jelly-roll race instructions (fold, sew, cut... repeat). The result was more square than rectangular, probably due to the fact that I joined the strips on the diagonal, rather than using straight seams, thus slightly decreasing the overall length of the long strip. 

The fabric piece (for a new piece, it was) then sat on my sewing machine while the rest of the week passed and I mulled over my options in my head.

Today, once the garden was weeded and the bedding plants tucked into their beds, I came inside and rolled out the stripped piece once again. Then I grabbed ruler and scissors and started to cut.  Four hours later, this is what I accomplished:

Hmm. The cellphone camera is obviously not the greatest, but you get the idea.  Once those diamonds are sewn on, I can sandwich and quilt the piece.  That may be next week's relaxation exercise.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Time to start anew

Habits come and go - some easily, some not so easily. I have a habit of signing up for school, as I love the learning and the challenge of doing assignments. Sadly, that habit often takes away from other habits, such as making quilts, dolls and other artworks.

I've just about completed another round of school, this time for a Provincial Instructor Diploma at Vancouver Community College.  With a break now between the first seven courses and the final capstone project, it is time to re-examine what else I enjoy doing, and renew old habits with the intent of making them stronger and longer lasting.

Last week, I picked up a set of jelly roll strips from a quilt store in Penticton and decided to play with them at the soonest available opportunity.

Having never made a quilt from jelly roll strips, I looked up online for  away to tackle the project with the least amount of fuss and bother.  Look up "jelly roll race quilt" online to find out what I set myself up for.

Tonight I sewed the 40 strips end-to-end, as instructed:

I then trimmed threads and seams, ironed everything, joined the two free ends and wound up the big long strip (1600" long, I'm told) to keep everything neat and tidy until I have a chance to do some more sewing. Hopefully it won't be too long a wait.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Win some, lose some

I recently submitted an application to a group exhibition at a local art gallery. As you can tell from the title, I was not successful in my attempt to enter the exhibition, but that is the name of the game.  Although there is some feeling of disappointment, my more pragmatic side said "yes, but you only answer calls for submissions when it is a win-win for you, don't you?".

What, then, constitutes "win-win", when my entry was not accepted? Learning and growth, trying something new, refining a technique... all of those are pluses in my book, and all took place while I worked on this piece.

Here is the story of the creation of the work submitted to the call for entries.

My husband and I took a walk in a different town during our summer holidays and came upon this scene:

It took us a minute to realize what we were seeing, and then we did a quick double-take. What a mixed message! As we continued on our walk, I wondered how this could be made into an artwork -- would I quilt it? Would I paint it? Would I somehow create a 3D work and incorporate fabric figures?

The idea was added to my list of prospective projects (which is very long, let me tell you!), and I continued with other priorities and obligations, like making a birch bark basket for a fundraiser. Not even a  month later, however, a call for submissions came out and the them was... Fences!

The photo was retrieved and discussions were lively around the dinner table and at other times. My husband had as much to add to the concept as I did and we finally agreed to create a joint piece. He would do the carpentry and I would do the quilting.

He set to work right away, and we consulted back and forth on the wooden fence -- how should it look? What were the mechanics for storage and set-up? How could we make it look old, but well-cared for? The sawdust flew, the hammer rang, and before I knew it, the fence was assembled.

It was at that point that I realized what I'd let myself in for. My art quilts thus far had been rather modest in size, with the largest being my Geschichten quilt from a few years ago. When we discussed the Fences project, I had expressed the desire to finally create a large-scale quilt, something that would stand taller than me and perhaps spread out onto the floor. With the birch bark basket out of the way and the wooden fence made, I was ready to spread out.

And spread out I did! I had to actually purchase large expanses of fabric on which to build my scene, as my stash did not hold large enough pieces in the correct colours. The quilt-in-progress filled up my entire studio.

The first real challenge was the fence, don't ask me why. I drew and re-drew that silly thing until it finally came together. I wanted it to continue on fabric where the wooden fence left off.

Then it was time to start cutting fabric and piecing things together.  My new friend is a product called "Wonder Under" which allowed me to fuse the separate pieces to hold them in place without pins -- handy when you have a quilt that is over 8 feet long!  Things got a bit messy as I cut, placed, discarded and cut again.

I decided to keep the format simple, due to time constraints and so that the focus could be on the fence.

At long last, things finally came together and I could start to quilt. That's when the pins came in handy, to baste the layers so they would not slide as I rolled, bunched, smoothed and manipulated the quilt sandwich in the sewing machine. As you can see, I used a few extra tables to help support the weight of the fabric as I sewed.

Some hand stitching was applied, too, for the flowers in the grass and under the porch, and then it was time to assemble the piece and make it picture-worthy for the submission (the deadline was quickly approaching).

Luckily, my studio ceiling was just tall enough to accommodate the quilted part!

I think we achieved the concept of the mixed message, and spun our yarn wrote our artist statement to examine the metaphorical fences or barriers we build around ourselves, to keep ourselves safe from others and, perhaps more importantly, to keep other safe from that which lies within ourselves.  The bottom of the "Beware of" sign has fallen off. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to flip over the fallen piece to see what it says?

Now that we know the result of our submission, I am looking at the quilted part and rubbing my hands in glee, as there is more that I would like to do there, playing and experimenting with other techniques I did not have time to try while racing to beat the clock.  For myself, the rejection is secondary to the learning I gained in creating this piece, so perhaps  the title for this blog is somewhat inaccurate.  Perhaps it should be "Win some, Learn some".

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A matter of perspective -- seeing is believing

On Tuesday evenings, this fall, I'm facilitating a drawing course. The participants draw better than they think they do, but, as we all do, they have questions and concerns about how they transform a three-dimensional object onto a two dimensional plane.  Last week, we dove into the topic of perspective and played with vanishing points, horizon lines, cubes and cylinders.  When translating theory into practice, however, more questions arose.

I decided to rummage through my many thousands of photos to see if I could find strong examples of one and two point perspective.  It was an interesting exercise for me, and fun, as well, as I got to play with my camera and on the computer at one point to create a composite image that would illustrate a concept.

Here is what I came up with and will show the class next Tuesday.  For those of you who know all about perspective, this may be very familiar to you.  For those of you who don't, there are many websites out there that explain perspective in detail. I'm providing you with solid examples of how the theory fits into "real-life" situations.

An endless corridor -- note the vanishing point at the very end!

So many lines in this image lead to the vanishing point.

Can you find the vanishing point in this image?

Sometimes the vanishing point is off the picture plane.

Two-point perspective; vanishing points are off the picture plane.

Vanishing points can be vertically located, as well (look up three-point perspective).

Here's where I got to play with the camera.  What happens to circles (viewed from the edge) when they are at, above and below the horizon line?  With a construction paper disk, a paint stick, a tripod, a camera and some merging of photos, I came up with this image.  Note:  the camera was stationary for the entire photo shoot.

Drawing in the ellipses helps to see the circle shapes better. Note that you are seeing the bottom of the top two circles and the top  of the bottom two circles.  If I do this again I'll mark the top with a big bright X or make it an entirely different colour!

One question arising in class was why I had drawn the curves differently at the top and bottom of the cylinder on my handout sheet.  This photo and the next three images illustrate the concept better than my words could explain.  Depending on where your glass/can/mug/cylinder sits in relation to the horizon line, you will get different curves depicting the top and bottom "circles" of your object.

Here the cylinder spans the horizon line (I could have drawn that in, but didn't) with almost equal parts above and below.  Note how the top and bottom curves of the cylinder are very similar in shape.

Here the top of the cylinder sits almost on the horizon line and the bottom sits well below.  Note how the top curve is almost a line, while the bottom curve is much more pronounced than in the previous image.

Here you can compare them side-by-side.