Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stephen Sondheim and Me...

I love the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. My favorite musical of his is Sunday in the Park with George, a beautiful view on the life of an artist. The lyrics of one song: Work is what you do for others, art is what you do for you. This week I finished my work, the series of grief quilts. And I let the art begin!  My Moonscapes is in process.  While the body is complete, the borders are not.  There are a couple of vivid reds on the sides, there's a toned-down murky red on the bottom, and I'm also considering adding a series of borders, using something yellowish and bright to frame the body before going into the red/s.  Notice the spools of threads - I'm trying to decide what color I want use to quilt the moons.  All of this will just remain on the studio floor and percolate as I wait for my chairs to be upholstered.  Since this piece will hang above the chairs, it's crucial to make sure the borders - whatever they are -go with these chairs.

Next, an envelope bag from Jinny Beyer. I'll admit I bought this kit mostly for the directions, but I do like these fabrics. It's a birthday present for buddy Marge. It was quick and fun, starting with an 18" quilted square. There was more handwork than I care for; however, I'm pleased with the results and will try this again. I want to look for cording and magnetic closures I can use for future projects, including something for a black envelope bag.
The odd thing about this envelope bag is that it has a front (with the metallic button), a back (with the stone button), and a nice middle pocket - you can see an envelope sticking out of the middle pocket.

Another Jinny Beyer project that I've been wanting to do is her Mini Palette, but as usual I've been reluctant to spend the money on the kit. Her website has made the swatches for this kit available - 150 swatches precut 1.25" x 3.5". Yesterday I assembled these three columns with some intense assembly-line sewing, used black for the sashing, and a wonderful blue-green Handspray for the outer border. I love how this piece looks. It's going to hang in my studio when it's finished. Jinny Beyer's sense of color and light is represented by the range of these fabrics, and this mini-palette glows. Which brings me back to Sondheim and Sunday in the Park with George in which the artist George Seurat sings about art in terms of color and light as he "finishes the hat." This palette gives form to color and light.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scraps - another deja vu moment

No matter how many scrap quilts I make or how many scraps I give away, the pile just seems to grow. Brandon started sorting and ironing scraps on Labor Day and finished the project yesterday. Now, what to do? Attending the first meeting of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, seeing what others are doing, and participating in liberated quilting has made me realize that I tend to work large and bold in my quilts. I mean, really - look at these scraps.

At least they are organized as I wait for inspiration to hit!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grief Quilts - In Process

Joyce died too young after a 10 month battle with the very rare thymic cancer - she was only 62. Her daughters, her mother and her husband are grieving Joyce's death and working hard to celebrate her life and keep her spirit alive, especially for the sake of the young grandchildren. Joyce's family gave me her golf shirts and golf caps as the basis for 4 wall hangings. The caps had to be deconstructed, and the shirts were cut into 6.5" squares. The logos from the caps were sewn onto these squares. In this first picture the squares are ready for assembly

This second picture shows the blocks as they are pieced together. The pattern is a random one with a preponderance of lighter fabrics, a couple of odd-sized pieces, and a few dark patches

Each family member chose cottons for the borders of these squares. Joyce's husband chose a beautiful blue/green batik and a navy solid to frame the fabrics of her life. These borders will give the random pattern of blocks a sense of unity and a color theme.

This last and smaller wall hanging is for Joyce's mother. The borders have been added, and this piece is now ready for backing/batting and quilting. A sleeve for hanging will be a part of each backing.

Grieving is so hard, and I'm impressed that Joyce's family has found this pathway for their grief. While this project is a sad one to work on, I recognize that what I'm doing is of great value. These wall hangings will be just one more way to keep Joyce and her spirit close to their hearts. Grief quilts are a misnomer. These are life's celebration quilts.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Recently I told a friend I wasn't ready to blog about this quilt.  But since I've just taken the process pledge, I think I must.

I'm doing a color shift in my living room.  There's lots of purples and greens.  I'm recovering two chairs that were a cranberry/burgundy color.  Although I looked for fabrics in that color, we really feel in love with the texture of a fabric that is pretty scarlet, much brighter and redder than what I intended.  What an opportunity to create a new wall hanging and incorporate the purples and reds. 

Part Two of this process is my ongoing love affair with batiks, so many of which are in colors I love. 

Part Three?  Free Motion Quilting.  I want to quilt this piece horizontally as if there are bits of clouds in front of each of these moons.

Whoa - that's a pretty tall order!  I know where I want to go with this piece, and I have a couple of terrific scarletty reds for borders.  But I need to see the chairs in the house before I go any further. 

I tend to not name quilts, but two friends have suggested names.  One was "Moons Over China".  I thought "Over the Moons."  But friend Marge's suggestion of "Moonscapes" is the winner. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Graduation Day

Last January when I first started going to outpatient physical therapy for the first knee replacement, I was still on drugs and pretty afraid of any movement. I met my physical therapist Chandra, and she gently coaxed my new knee into being an integrated part of my body but was hindered by my old knee. We worked until the end of February - that's when John, my cane, and I went to SE Asia.

Then in April I had the 2nd knee replacement. When I returned to physical therapy and Chandra in June, Chandra announced it was no more Miss Nice Guy since both knees were now capable of the same movements. So we worked and worked until August. I requested 8 more physical therapy sessions for some fine tuning, the last of which was yesterday. And I was officially graduated from Paulson Physical Therapy at LaGrange. I had a home-made cap and a gown, a diploma announcing my successful completion of Bilateral Knee Replacement, zuchinni muffins, and even graduation music for my walk down the long hallway - a hallway I once limped slowly down.

At one point with home physical therapy, I would cry when I saw the therapist drive up. I went to Paulson LaGrange with great trepidation. Gaining movement and range of motion hasn't been easy. But Chandra made it great fun, even when she was torturing me. I'm thankful to her for her guidance, her help in my making of a daily physical exercise book, her sense of humor, her book recommendations, her donation of a sewing machine to my studio, and her gifts of pakora, chutneys, and other foods/sauces. 

Here we are balancing on one foot.  Obviously she's better at it than I am, but she has shown me what I'm capable of and has given me goals I can continue to work towards.

Very nice graduation, indeed!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Using Fabric Mishaps

I love this fabric.  Of course I would.  It's a batik.  One of the things I love about batiks is how the colors melt into one another.  But every once in a while my Internet purchases are just wrong.  This grey/grape/purple batik has yet to work itself into any quilt, and I don't think it ever will.  So I made 4 Mors bags of the fabric.  Because batiks are so tightly woven, I didn't even line these.  All 4 are going into the trunk of my car.  I can't believe how many bags I've made and how many times I've been without a bag - a discovery I always make after I've shopped.

This last bag is made from a Jinny Beyer border fabric that I bought on sale years ago, seriously maybe 15 years ago.  This is the last of it although I've never used this one in a quilt either.  The lining fabric is nice but so far away from the batik look that I love so much.  This deep boxed bag will just sit in the studio, waiting for its owner to be identified.

Also I've started working on a new wall hanging for our living room but am not ready to talk about it just yet.  And there's a new series of grief projects that I started today.  Predictably, I'm sad.  It's fitting for the tone of today, 9/11.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day, In and Around the Studio

My grandson Brandon labored today in the studio.  He knows how to handle an iron, thanks to his experience quilting last summer, and agreed to help me organized and iron the constant mountain of scraps in the studio.  Of course, he agreed knowing that I pay him well for his efforts

Like me, he is left-handed.  And like me, he handles the iron with both his right and left hand.  Behind the ironing board is one of the standing tables, and that's where he was organizing what he ironed.  Now it's my job to figure out how I want to store and use these scraps. 

We didn't finish today, so he will come back after school one day this week or next.

While he was ironing and sorting, I was able to finish basting my Night and Day quilt and even begin some preliminary quilting. 

Meanwhile, John is outside tending to his smoker.  It is loaded with a couple of pork shoulders

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

The whole time I was attending school and teaching school, Labor Day weekends were always painful.  I cried, I held on to the last days of summer, and I gnashed my teeth at the thought of a new school year.  By October I was always fine.  But changing gears was never my strong suit, and September was a month I dreaded.

But now?  I rejoice in the Labor Day weekend.  John is busy with the Chicago Jazz Festival, and it's my time to refocus my efforts in the studio.  I had my design book out and have pulled some quilt pictures for inspiration. I've finished up some Mors bags.  The coin fabric was on sale, and the ethnic bag is one piece of leftover fabric.  In fact, I gave my dad one of the darker coin bags.  Currently it's holding all his letters from his Honor Flight.  I'm glad to have the other ones on hand - you never know when you'll need some!  My Night and Day quilt is being basted and is almost ready to quilt.  And I'm still plugging away at the free-motion quilting on my India Whole Cloth quilt.

I've also been preparing a "hand" project.  Inspired by the Cathedral Windows design and some fabrics a thoughtful friend sent me from her visit to the Jinny Beyer Studios, I'm going to try this.  There's a lot of prep, and there's a lot of hand sewing.  I've gotten started and can only hope it's going to go better.  Not quite ready to post any pictures just yet.  Coincidentally a woman with whom I work out came in one day carrying this Cathedral Windows clutch.  She let me borrow it so that I could photo and measure it.   Happy Labor Day!