Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Around The World Blog Hop

I was tagged in this blog relay by Colleen Kole and Sharon Robinson. I met Colleen at Nancy Crow's teaching Barn in Ohio when I went on an extravagant 2 week class there. Colleen and I had never met, but in the interest of saving a few bucks, and of meeting new people, we became roommates. I have to say, the two weeks were much richer for it, and I feel I have a lifelong friend in Colleen. Our time there was also shared with Maria Shell who travelled back and forth to class with us in Colleen's car - and we three bonded in a way that people bond through intense experiences. Many morning coffees and car rides were filled with conversation, lots of laughter, some tears and plenty of talk about art. One day I hope to reunite with those two, somewhere in this big wide world, and I think it would be great it if Sharon Robinson were there too. I met Sharon at a class with Nancy Crow, a little closer to home in Washington state. Sharon is wicked smart with an excellent sense of humour and irony, and was my classroom neighbour for two weeks, in yet another intense learning experience with a bunch of cutters and piecers who just want to learn the goods from our favourite teacher.

These four questions are being asked all around the bloggy world, and here are my answers of the moment;

What am I working on?
I’m making spoons! I’m a (temporarily) lapsed quilt maker who cuts and hammers and polishes metal. I woke up one morning and said “I’m going to make spoons!” Honestly, I don’t know where the drive to hammer out spoons came from, but I am loving the contrast of making small shiny things that I can complete in under an hour to working on large soft things that sometimes take weeks to finish. I will get back to quilt making in the new year, and with some fresh interest. The spoon making has freed up some part of my creativity that was trapped and sticky and keeping me from working freely and joyously, so I have discovered that my inability to stick with one thing has actually paid off. Another life lesson.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Its difficult to talk about where I fit in in the world of spoon making, because I haven’t really looked around to see whats happening there. I learned a few techniques and went in to full on production mode to make enough inventory for a couple of Craft Fairs that I was in, and I haven’t had much time for research. 
How is my quilty work different from others’? Well, I guess I believe that no two people can make the same quilt, even when given the same set of instructions and same fabrics, and that you put your personal stamp on whatever you do. I am always aware of patchwork tradition when I make quilts. My quilts are improvisational in design and are always machine pieced. I love cutting and piecing and have since I was young. I have a quirkiness that finds its way in to my work, lines are rarely straight, colours are put together in funny ways, I am fine with asymmetry and the visual balance of my work is mostly a little awkward. Even when I do a traditional block, it comes out with an organic, imperfect feel. My style is just “not perfect” but full of character. I tend to use colours that give a vintage feel, I try to do new, original things, but want them to look like they've been around a while. I don't do it on purpose....
This is a "selfie" I made as a distraction from a project that was getting hard. I just free cut shapes with scissors and pinned them onto a pieced background. Then I layered the backing and batting and stitched all the bits down with machine quilting.
Why do I create what I do?
I make quilts because I am a "blankie" person. I think some kids just love their blankies, some kids don't, and I was one of those kids who did. I used to drag my blankie around with me wherever I went, sometimes dragging my grandma’s cat along for the ride. I have fond memories of textiles in my life, like a plaid polished cotton windbreaker and a gold woollen dress with a built-in checked tie at the neck. I have very distinct recollections of the feel of these fabrics. I made my first quilt in the late 6o’s out of alternating red and blue bandannas, with a chambray denim backing. When I first discovered quilt making, it was like revisiting those memories, I would hunt out fabrics that had a certain feel or drape or vintage colour or print. I loved to mix the prints and patterns. I feel like I was born to sew, but never really liked making clothes. I love colour and I love to draw, I love to make things, I used to weave and paint, and combining all these things into making quilts just seemed natural for me.
How does my creative process work?
Well, I don't work any one way. I really fly by the seat of my pants, and my quilts may not have a consistent look because of it. When I use prints, I think my process is more loose, its easier for me. This one was done years ago and is a sampler of improvisational, pattern-breaking techniques. 

I was given a task here - a packet of fabrics and the theme of hearts - this single block was made for a friend's quilt. I added the flash of pink and drew up a paper-piecing pattern to do the branches in the heart, then I appliqued it and pieced a few bits.

This was inspired by some beautiful red woollen cloth and the simple colour scheme of red and blue. I just cut big blocks and fit them together, then tied the quilt with red wool ties.

 I mostly use solid colours now in my quilts because they allow me to create line and shape in a pure sort of way. I try to create good shapes and put them in combination with other good shapes. Colour, scale, shape, line - all play a part in my trying to make a good composition. It seems simple when I start out, but I dive deep into the details and struggle around in there and hope to come out the other side with something good and different and worth looking at. 

With the spoon thing - I am creating these little things just because I like a nice object. I am drawing in three dimensions - once again working from the gut, or from the heart, cutting shapes that please me at the moment and bending up a handle like drawing in the air. I make the bowl of the spoon, then I decide how the handle should be, looking for good proportions. Then I rivet the two together, polish it up and that's it. If I make a wooden handle, once again I am thinking of scale and proportion, and I shape the wood just by my intuition.

I would like to introduce you to two talented artists who live in my part of the world.  Jean Cockburn 
is a wonderful neighbour and friend and prolific maker of beautiful textile arts. She has a feel for the cloth and is a master of stitch. One of the rocks in my collection of rocks comes from Jean.

a very funny and talented photographer and modern quilt maker. She is in the middle of an advent calendar blog event, so join in and see what she is up to!

Friday, December 5, 2014

This Weekend - Craft Show

Texture. Shiny texture.

I've made some necklaces, spoons and flannel dinner napkins. The spoons and pendants are made of rehabbed silver and copper. The photo above shows an example of the texture, the following pics show all of the spoons I have for our booth at the Denman Island Craft Fair.

1. (see the quarter with the moose on it and the dime with the sailboat - the Bluenose, actually - for scale. FYI the Canadian coins are the same size as those of our neighbours to the south.)





The Craft Fair is fantastic, filled with community love, beautiful crafts and food like you wouldn't believe. Our table will have my stuff as well as quilts, knitted toys and fingerless gloves, homemade (and yummy) mustards, biscotti, oat cakes and other good things to eat. My better half has been very busy making wooden cutting boards ... like this;
 look how that padouk glows!
and pizza peels like this:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I'm making spoons.
Sorry about the blurry photos, my mojo is going into spoon making now - will work on the photos in due time.
I'm having a lot of fun.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Time and the living is easy

Studio Tour time

Its time again for the Studio Tour on Denman Island.
This year I will be part of the Denman Quilters' display at the beautiful Arts Centre, right in "downtown" Denman. We'll be hanging quilts from trees and porches, there will be tables with displays of work from the quilters group, and the weather will be BEAUTIFUL!

August 16 and 17, 10 - 4

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Simple Log Cabin

A while back, I made a little log cabin banner or runner in neutral colours. I gave it to Kitty who plays acoustic bass. She was the bass player in the band that played at a big birthday party we had for my mom. My husband played trumpet, Kathy played guitar, clarinet and sang harmonies, Helen sang her heart out, Gary played guitar and sang some too, and they played the swing music of the thirties and forties. It was a lovely event. This little quilt was a thank you gift for Kitty, who had just renovated her kitchen. It fit perfectly.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Sew In A Box

This post should have come before the last post. 

There it is, reflected in the fuzzy iron. One quarter of the quilt I am working on. 

My sewing/art studio is a converted shipping container. Its a small one, measuring 8' x8' x20'. There is a wall with a sliding glass door built in about 18" from the end with the big steel doors. This means I have a little porch! And it means I can shut the big steel doors if the weather is really bad, or if we are going away for a bit. Also, those doors open to the garden, which is great for when I need to clear my head from art experiences that are too intense... i just get out there and pull some weeds. There is a regular door down near the other end. My talented and capable husband, who is the master mind and sole creator of said shipping-container-conversion-to-art-studio took the regular door and installed a big window into it. So there is the natural light, a windowed door at one end and a sliding glass door at the other end.
The container is insulated and has white walls and lots of lighting and there is a small propane heat stove which easily heats the whole area.
The end wall, not the one with the sliding doors but the other one, is all design wall. Its made from a fibrous board that will take a pin, and is covered in flannel so cotton fabric sticks to it. It measures about 90" x 90". There is another 72" x 90" design wall to the right of that.
I am currently working on some biiiiig quilts. The aim is to finish at 90" x 90", making my design wall too small! With the seam allowances and edges-that-will-need-to-be-trimmed, the wall needs to be at least 100" x 100". I decided to solve the issue by piecing one quarter of each quilt at a time. I have now made three pieces that are a quarter of the finished size, and I cannot make them go together! Aargh! Now what! Stay tuned.


I just made a discovery. Maybe I rediscovered, but gave myself permission to see today.

Here it is -

I want to sew all the time!

I have been trying to make good art. I make art by cutting fabric and piecing it into a composition, then I quilt it. Its really hard sometimes, and sometimes its really easy. When its hard, I avoid the work, and I have a million, billion ways to avoid the work. Sometimes I don't go into my studio because its too hard and sometimes I go in there and make other things. When I make other things I feel good, because I'm making something (I love to sew- did I mention that already?), but I also feel bad because I am not working on the art thats hard.
If I don't work on the art, it will not get better. This I know because I read things on the facebook  and  other places where artists write things like this. These artists and photographers and writers and musicians... they tell me to do the work , make the crap, make mistakes, make a lot of art- good and bad, keep working, work work work. This is why I feel bad when I have fun making other stuff! Because I am not doing the artwork. I should not feel bad making stuff, I should not feel bad period.

I am going to set aside time to make things, and time to work on the art that can be hard. I will set some goals for making things to wear or to sell and I am going to feel good about it! It seems so simple, but I wasn't ready to hear it until just now.

Gotta go - back to my work room to finish the linen pants that I have been enjoying making! Tonight I will work on the art.

Feel free to comment - I love to hear how people feel about procrastination and how to deal with it.

Friday, April 4, 2014


I spent two weeks in March at an intensive composition workshop with Nancy Crow. I love these workshops.... the days are long, I usually started at 7:30 am and worked until 10:30 pm when I'd start to make bad decisions or no decisions.
We spent two days making tiny compositions, mine turned out to be 15" x 15", and they were larger than many from other students.
Unruly Umbrellas. 15" x 15"

Then I spent 5 days on this...
10% to 90%  60" x 72"
Nancy said I should keep making quilts because I am tall!

Then I spent two days making this:
The Joke's On You   40" x 36"

It was one of my favourites. The next project took me the rest of the second week, two and a half days, and I didn't get it finished which is just as well because it went in a direction I didn't like. I won't be finishing it, but I will save some elements from it and move on.

Harlequin. Unfinished
Two weeks of intense patch-working, creating and learning with 22 serious artistic people (who are a lot of fun) is my idea of a good time!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Just Looking

I went looking through my iPhoto to see if I had something inspiring to post here. I found a photo of eggs that I shot at my friend's house. Aren't they beautiful?

That be some happy chickens that make these eggs. Yup.

And then I saw this in-progress shot of Kerri's quilt. I'm making it for Kerri as a trade for the most beautiful red sweater that she is knitting for me. Kerri is really good at knitting!
I have now finished the quilt top, pieced the backing and chosen the binding. Its all folded up waiting for me to go get the batting and put it all together. I'll show you later how it turns out!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tweedle Do Workshops

See events page for posters of the two workshops I am organizing this spring. Anna Heywood-Jones and Maria Shell are teaching in our week long art retreat. Go deep and join in. Elevate your art life!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

First and Last

Improvisational Amalgamation

I'm working on the first quilt of 2014, which I actually made a point of having up on my design wall as the final quilt design of 2013. I don't know if thats cheating somehow, … calling it the last quilt of one year and the first quilt of the next…. in any case, one day rolls into another, quilts get started and finished, life goes on. The parts were made at different times, the funny little log cabiny bits were made in 2010, when my sewing room was set up on the porch in the first year we moved to the island. The triangle parts were made this year, one day at a sew-in with the guild, and the top left corner and other stripey bits were made with scraps from a workshop I did with Nancy Crow in 2012. So its a multi year endeavour, one that shows how my pack rat habits can pay off.
Improvisational piecing is so much fun. Sherri Lynn Wood at Daintytime has put out a call to participate in her new book on the subject, which I think is just great! If you like doing improvisational work, go look at her post, you can apply to play! I love collaborating and plan to do much more of it. Do you have collaborative projects you have worked on?