Friday, February 25, 2011

Wanabe Show and Tell

There is always a bunch of things to see at each month's Wanabe Friendship group meeting. This month I was taken back at 2 very traditional pieces. The first, an old piece long ago began and owned by the recently deceased daughter-in-law of a member. Mother-in-law member finished the border and Phyllis Reddish quilted it for gifting back to the young family ( 3 kids plus Dad) now without their Mom.

And can you believe it?This quilt top was GIVEN to a member by someone who didn't know what to do wih this unfinished heirloom. Now... it is beautifully quilted, and finished.

The following is a class wool applique sampler by Carol Culbert. Is this not cool stuff?

Another chance to use embroidery stitches usually seen on crazy quilts. Wool is quite the thing of late, isn't it.

Well all that said, I am off to a couple days of private retreat sewing. While I am essentially an art quilter, I have 30 ( count 'em) 30 shabby chic wedding party table runner to get made for a May wedding. Peddle to the metal ,Patt!!

Wanabe Dining

Once monthly my Wanabe Quilters Friendship Group meets for lunch at a members home...this month at the home of charter member Phyllis Reddish in Anaheim Hills, Ca. Okay, this woman can definitely set a nice table

Phyllis is a professional quilter for hire doing spectacular custom work on every quilt. She also loves contemporary work too. You can see her home is very current. We call Phyllis a minimalist... as she so smartly keeps her basic home furnishing modern and minimal so as to show off her interesting art purchases.

On top of all this... she is an artist of a cook. The person hosting the month after Phyllis is always a bit intimidated tho as you know anytime someone is cooking for us, we women are happy!!!!.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fini! .... Is that French or Italian for finished?

I'm likely making that up but it sounds good! Our Victorian lady is done. Yeah. First, that unstitched netting on the hat was machine stitched through stabilizer as planned. The broad background of black was textured with small scrolled stitching as well, then some nice purchased embellishments added to top it off!

The outline embroidery was added on face and bodice, colonial knots on the collar and hat brim, and I can call this lady finished. Wish I got to keep her. Click once or twice on photo for closeup.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pretty Lady

The overall plan is in place.... now to finish with embroidery.

I'm afraid I can't stop myself from inking things in when I think it will help the overall project. Her collar and bow will be outline embroidered and several colonial knots will add texture.
The elegant large hat will require a good amount of embellishment. First for the fishnet area in teal that would take 'forever' to hand embroider. I think machine stitching will work nicely by first placing a good stitch and tear stabilizer on the back side. That should save HOURS of work and likely look better/more interesting. We'll see!.

More to come.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Victorian Therapy

Sometimes we want to do handwork.... other times we NEED to. This is a need to time ! I have plenty of work work to do, but there's been some stressful times of late and when that is the case, handwork is my friend and relaxation therapy. How about you?

In 2006, a friend began a Victorian Lady quilt block rotation where each friendship group member would ideally complete 1/2 to a whole block. ( We all trade work ). I loved the project and completed 2 long ago... but recently relieved a friend of her not yet started project block as this was the last block awaiting completion. These are sooooo fun. The pattern is designed for hand embroidery. The project owner defined only that certain gray, and charcoal threads be used on certain parts of the face. After that, WHATEVER! I begin with painted with ink areas, some of which will stand alone, and others will be a back drop for embellishments.
I love the idea of soft boufant (?sp) painted with ink hair that will be accented with embroidery in differing thread values. Before on the LEFT
Partially completed after on the RIGHT

This is not a real new pattern but I snapped a photo on contact info in case this pattern of 12 lovely ladies is of interest to you.
More to come.

North To Alaskan Quilters Cruise...

What are you doing late July/early August???? I've just been asked to co-teach a Fiber Arts Adventure Cruise to Alaska. (Cruise Begins/ends in Seattle) 7 nights aboard ship includes meals etc, 3 days at sea of classes with myself , Ricki Bremer, all taxes and port fees included. Dates: Highly desirable time of July 29 - August 5. Pre March 28 signups are refundable and also secure a private classroom. If you think you'd like to go... get signed up! Unlike other cruises ,fee includes all port charges and taxes) $1349 double occupancy ....$1479 ocean view.. Bringing a non sewing spouse or friend???? Ask John ( contact info below) about the reduced price.
web site Click on special groups tours, then click on Alaskan Fiber Arts Cruise in DARK BLUE HIGHLITED LIST

I plan to offer 3 classes:

Fun Faces in Ink... caricature portrait class where I bring sample heads, noses, mouths, etc that you can mix and match into a fun wacky portrait of whomever you like for inclusion in a quilt, wall hanging, placemat, etc.
Big Cats at Sea... Closeup images of tigers and lions... or frankly, you can paint anything you really want.
"The Art Of Quilting" .. Whether a quilter or a top maker, you'll learn how to plan the quilt line and thread choices.
NO machines required for my classes. Yeah!

Contact John at Connection To Cruise 714 692-2210 or email
Double click on photo for

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Testing Marking Removal

I suddenly had a desire to test the success level of 2 well known stain removers often advertised as great for removing quilt top markings.... I tested Sew Clean... and Mary Ellen's Formula 2. I took a piece of white fabric and marked them up with numerous things both products claimed they were capable of removing... plus a couple things not stated but hopeful me wanted to test. I tested with success on both products... ball point pen, numerous types of pencil markings ( Included #2 pencil, marking pencil, prismacolor, pastel) plus a drop of machine oil, coffee. The two unsupported things I was 'hopeing' it might remove were pigment ink and pigma pen.
I dug in serious heavy make up to test.. and Mary Ellens did a little better than sew clean, but honestly, I think it was the stated removal process that helped produce a stronger result. Simplistic difference in process both of which include applying liquid to stain and allowing it to soak is that one blots (Sew Clean), the other suggests a soft brush to loosen the stain (Mary Ellen's). Both end with a washing! Alas... the pigment ink and pigma pen stains stayed. But since neither product claimed it would remove them, I can't complain. All worth the test. The middle strip is the BEFORE... the top(Mary Ellens) and bottom(Sew Clean) ... the AFTER.
In fairness to both products, tested stains were fresh. The older the stain, the less likely it is to clean up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Private Class Journey 'Snow Leopard'

I do enjoy working one on one with students. In a little over 3 hours yesterday, student Terri says she came a long way and learned alot. As a teacher, I ofcourse like that result. Terri has painted in class with me before and made an enormous leap forward yesterday. Terri arrived with a traced/printed image following the EZ drawing button on my home page( What first?... she asks. On people and animals... I like to start with the eyes first because I have more patience and concentration at the very start.

One of the major keys in portrait painting is near constant and detailed referral to source material. Her reference photo was fairly small. Sometimes a magnifying glass helps when that is so.
First : the source material photo
And then the "beginning" of the ink'd eye... Lots more to do but we are on the right track.

My approach to painting an image is to get the basic overall image blocked in and then go after the detail... so after the eyes, we moved to getting some basic fur areas. Since the drawing underneath had several dark areas (spots), after Terri blocked in some subtle yellow and pale tan areas, she blocked in spots with beginning mid value blacks, followed by soft grey fur. I was very proud of Terri, she stayed calm and focused. Yeah girl!

ALMOST done, we laid strips of art paper to frame the image and better evaluate next steps...

Terri's original plan to leave out any EAR portion of this primarily "eye" portrait called for partial reconsideration. The darks of the inside of the ears, if added to the upper corners would help frame the finished image, so they were added purposely without a great level of detail.

All said and done.... both Terri and her hubby were very happy with the result.

When one gets to this stage of a painting (nearly done).. it is time to let the painters eyes rest. Terri has a few areas she wants to increase values here and there, but she is pretty close to finished. Fresh eyes bring fresh patience and objectivity and is always a good thing when finishing up details.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!!!

Phew... The new Gammill Vision is here, overhead lights have been installed, new power feeds, cabinet storage for 'clean' thread , and there IS an underneath back live feed camera to check backside tension. I almost have my 'nest' long arm room ready to go. Now all I need is skill to complete that ACTION phrase in the title. !
So far, this feels like I'm starting ALL OVER as a quilter. Everything is different. So a whole new learning curve begins. The new Vision seems techy cool though. The camera, an on Board FM tuner to listen to radio as I quilt, and probably a bunch of stuff I don't even know about yet.

I do have a studio separate from my home up on the mountains. Since I don't LIVE at the studio condo, that means the garage isn't used to park cars, and thus this big machine has taken up residence in that oversized space. Ofcourse, I am making it homey... I am a quilter and thats what we like. I'm not completely done , but I'm on my way. What I did notice when I lifted the garage door is that people are fascinated... cars stop and back up looky looing (?sp). It feels a bit creepy actually. So some nifty folding patio screens from the local hardware store do the trick to give me some privacy when quilting...and I can see out through the screens but drivers don't see in.
WHY get this machine at all you ask? Actually I ask myself that question, but I have had some very LARGE drawings of painted projects for several years that I just couldn't bear trying to quilt on a domestic sit down. We'll see over time if this was a good idea.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pays to Get Up Early

Nope... this is not a sunset but barely dawns light as I drove down off the mountain to my studio. A camera is in my purse for such moments. I am always collecting inspirational material. It's a bit like fabric stash collecting. I collect more than I can ever use and often forget I have. Sounds familiar, huh? The sky looked much less spectacular in a single minute. Timing really is a big deal!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dates are Good!

I always have plenty to do for quilting related work, but I know I need to relax more with my hubby.
Yesterday.... an afternoon at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to see a one man show by the incomparable John Lithgow. The man is crazy funny and talented.... One man playing 10 parts ( 1 of which was a parrot). He pulled it off in spades.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Class at The Quilt Bee and Happy Birthday Mr Man!

A hectic fun week just concluded. Last weekend... a fun filled day teaching painting with inks at The Quilt Bee in Orange, Ca. What a great group. Below: an in progress "Santa's Secret" painting on fabric. I'm teaching this as a standalone class at Houston International this fall. It's all about the drawing which I provide to lay under your fabric.
and check out this beautiful Tiger. Nicely done!

And I mustn't forget to note hubby and I celebrated his 72nd birthday. He is quite a fellow... He still runs 5 miles daily which helps me out at these dinner gatherings. He eats his order and usually half of mine. (No guilt for me for not finishing). He still has a college boy metabolism. Kudos to Ray!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Painted Quilt Art 2012 at Asilomar.. Yahoo!

Some months ago, I was asked to teach at Asilomar in 2012. I am thrilled to finally say the contract is signed and back in my possession. It's a go! I'm excited for at least 3 reasons...
1) Heck.... It's Asilomar... How great is that?!... on the beach in Monterey,
California territory. Sweet!
2) It's 5 days of dedication to Painting AND Quilting the Arts. Heaven!
3) It's 5 days of time with quilters of like interest. That's always thrilling!
The date is April 3 - 8, 2012. I hope to see some of you there!!!

A Fellow Quilter Question about Quilting People

(c) In Quito's Market (Detail)
I enjoy getting questions where I have at least some partial answer that might help someone in their journey. Following is a recent question from a fellow portrait quilter having just seen a photo of one of my portrait quilts...

From a frustrated quilter:
I just saw a photo of your quilt "In Quito's Market". I do figural
quilts and I have a question that nobody has been able to answer for me.
My problem is that I take a wonderful top, that I have spent hundreds of hours on and can't seem to understand how to quilt it.My quilts faces get puffy because of the quilting around the figure. I have tried quilting them minimally and it
doesn't help at all.There must be a secret

My response...
A face is usually a more central part of the quilt... anytime one quilts all around it first, there will be trouble such as you have experienced. I suggest one never create an unquilted island of anything before quilting the 'island' of as yet unquilted fabric.

With art quilts where there is generally more quilting than maybe a bed quilt, it is actually pretty important to work from the central area outward... and that often means the face first... which is what I generally do. The rule of thumb with quilting faces is ... make a choice up front.... either minimal quilting or alot.... anything else doesn't seem to work well, and ofcourse the same rules of thumb about even quilting distribution across the whole surface of the piece holds true.

If you do heavy quilting(almost thread painting as I often do) on the face, pretty much the same level of quilting density is called for across the rest of the quilt. One doesn't have to go the heavy thread painting approach.... so if doing minimal quilting on the face use minimal quilting elsewhere. Failure to evenly distribute quilting density is a call for ripples/ puffs. Hope that helps.
Good Luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Final Few

This is the third/final showcase of texture fillers shown on ONE quilt over this and the 2 previous posts. It underscores the old saying that Variety Is The Spice of Life!" To me, it is so interesting to see a quilt with such varied interest.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Variety

All the texture patterns from both this and the previous post are from the SAME quilt. Incredible!
Am off to the tire store (flat) instead of watching super bowl. TIMING!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Prizewinner Close up

I am among many totally blown away by the continuing advancement in the art of quilting. Who wouldn't love this exquisite quilt by Sharon Schamber? !
I don't work the same as Sharon but I so love her quilting skill. Following will be several closeups of quilt patterns on this quilt. It's rare one gets sufficient time/ closeness to snap this number of real close ups. Yeah! The variety of patterns itself is part of this quilts beauty.