Sunday, January 22, 2012


Yesterday, I needed a break from cleaning and reorganizing my creative space, so I went cross-country skiing at Menominee Park on Lake Winnebago.    It was a beautiful, bright clear crisp day!  Enjoy the pictures.

I actually had a chemical hand warmer in my camera bag so that the battery would not die from the cold.  It worked like 2 charms!

 These are ice shoves.  For those of you who don't live near a lake that freezes, ice shoves are frozen chunks that get pushed ashore.  Wave action continues even while the lake is in the process of freezing and thawing.    I thought they looked kind of monolithic (even though there are 2 or 3 here).   And I liked the stripes on the ice behind it ...  I'm always on the lookout for pattern, textures and colors.

A little more color to the sky as I finished up my late afternoon ski. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Little Things

"My Thoughts Are With You."    
Fabric Postcard.  Techniques : Raw-edge fusible applique with Threadpainting.
I've been wanting to do a postcard of this scene for quite some time.   
My mom put this handy little tool in my Christmas stocking.  It's great for placing small and fickle pieces too delicate for fingers.  

I also finished 2 new quarter-size journals this weekend.  The covers for these comes from a "sop cloth" in my wet studio.  A sop cloth is what you use to wipe up spills, or wipe out the last bit of color from the dye pots.   Some people call them serendipity fabrics.     You never quite know what you're going to get.  It must have been red, purple and black that day : a nice combination.

 This one is for my friend Rolanda, who requested another journal to take on her 2-month tour of India and South-East Asia this summer.     This kind of tie-dye totally fits her personality, too.  It has 2 extra signatures in it (over the usual 3).   I hope she likes it.  ;-)

This one is for me.  I'm planning to use it as a "creative calisthenics" journal, with serendipity collages and ink-splats.   More on that later --when I actually get my workspace cleared enough to do some of these.   I also needed a quarter-size journal of my very own, to use as a model for making more.  I sold the last one I had at the craft sale in December.   I picked up some embellishment at the local liquidator store : a heart with wings.    I'm curious as to how long it will stay on the cover.  So consider it a test.

Monday, January 02, 2012

So Many Options for a Creative and Inspired 2012

There are so many options for cultivating a Creative Life in 2012.  Here are just a handful that I am considering.  Did I mention most of them are FREE?

Sketchbook Challenge 2012 Welcome Message
I did this challenge in 2011, and surprised myself in a number of ways!
I started out thinking the sketchbook would be a separate medium, but there were a number of things that started out as sketches on paper, where I thought they would remain on paper.   Several of then eventually moved into another dimension and became journal quilts.  I also stretched my wings and started doing some water color pieces, too.  I'd like to do more watercolor in the coming year.   I like having a theme to flavor a whole month of creativity.   

Book of Days 2012 : Journal Art & Memory Keeping with Effie Wild
This looks like it will be much more than just making stuff, involving Spirit as well.  Cool!

Free-Motion Quilting Challenge 2012
This will feature some of the greats of FMQ like Diane Gaudinski, Ann Fahl, and Leah Day.  The organizer is careful to note that it's not an online class, but another outlet to learn and share more about FMQ from some of the greats.  They will also feature regular exercises, monthly challenges and prizes.  Good thing I just re-vamped my sewing area to accommodate easier FMQ!

Creative Jump Start 2012 Summit
The first tutorial was on warmups to get your creativity going.  Simple stuff!  Great stuff!  I can't wait to get started ...  I'm realizing I need to make a space for paper arts in my "studio." 

Fabulous Surfaces - Lessons to accompany Lynda Monk's new book
Not yet posted, but I'm waiting for it!

Candied Fabrics is offering a "work-at-your-own-pace" online dyeing class beginning in February :
Although I've been dyeing fabric for several years, now, I am interested in making the 2-66 swatch color boards, aka "The Candiotic Table of Elemental Color."    Having an actual class might just be the impetus I need to make such a hands-on color study happen!  Recipes for re-producable color results is also a bonus!

Candy Glendening has also appeared on Quilting Arts, so she might look familiar to you.

Not sure what pricing will be yet, but these online classes are usually pretty reasonable.   It seems to average about $10 per online lesson.  There will be some kind of early bird pricing.

Photo Shop Essentials - Lessons with Kim Klassen
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to take her Beyond Textures class, but that would be like running before learning to walk.  I really need to wait for the basic class in Photoshop Elements.  She gives away a free texture every Tuesday--beautiful layers that you can use in your own work --- if only I knew what to do with them!   Baby steps.  I have to start at the beginning.    What I really want to do is use some of my photographs as silhouettes against some of my National Geographic-Citrasolve backgrounds.  There has to be an easier way to deal with layers, and I do believe Kim Klassen holds the key to those mysteries!

Journal Quilts Challenge
I'd like to continue with a monthly journal quilt as I did in 2011, but since Three Creative Studios is no more, I wonder if I'll have the push to to actually make it happen on my own?

Quilting Arts
This magazine is chock-full of articles, ideas and inspiration.  And don't forget the accompanying tv show!  I have to start taking notes on the things I want to try ...

Of course, then there's the usual dyeing, quilting and mess-making that I like to play with.   I don't know that I'll be able to keep up and participate in all of these opportunities in 2012, but it goes to show that the horizon looks very bright for a Creative Life!

Journal Quilts 2011 Review

One of my goals in 2011 was to participate in 3 Creative Studios Journal Quilt Challenge.  Vicki Welsh of 3CS made it so easy to participate.  No rules other than the ones we set for ourselves.  My goal was to do 1 journal quilt per month, and to use some of my own hand dyed fabric. 

Mission accomplished!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Winter Solstice : A Comparative Quilt Study

Michele's Winter Solstice Quilt

Holly's Winter Solstice Quilt

My Mother (Holly) and my Aunt Rosita were the ones who got me into quilting almost 10 years ago.  They have a fantastic quilt shop in Antigo where they could take classes to learn all these new techniques--like raw-edge applique.  They even picked out a "new" sewing machine for me at this shop (A Husqvarna Viking Rose -- which I still use).     My mom was able to take a class to learn "scribble" applique.  I live too far away to take the class, so she gave me the shortened version, and I took the patterns and played on my own.

Even though it's the same McKenna Ryan pattern, we both made different color choices, embellishment and quilting choices, so that they really look like different quilts.  The maker's personality can come through.  That's why Quilting is so popular : It's versatile!

Enjoy this comparative study of the two Winter Solstice Quilts :

Michele's Encounter Block

Holly's Encounter Block
Detail of Holly's Encounter Block
Michele's 3 Bears

Holly's 3 Bears  (Sorry--I cut off the 3rd bear in the photo.)
Michele's Old Tree / Holly's Old Tree

Michele's Starry Night Block

Holly's Starry Night Block

Michele's Cabin Block     /         Holly's Cabin Block

  Detail of Michele's Cabin in the Woods.

Michele's Wolf Moon Block

Holly's Wolf Moon Block

Michele's 3 Chickadees Block

Holly's 3 Chickadees Block

Michele's Corner Chickadees  /     Holly's Corner Chickadees

Detail of border quilting with the embroidery unit on Michele's Quilt.

The Beauty and Variety of Quilting is Amazing!

Winter Solstice Quilt

I finished this quilt back in 2005.    I was still a new quilter, and the techniques of raw edge applique and free-motion stitching were new concepts for me.  The separate blocks broke the total project down into manageable chunks--It was kind of addicting when I started it.  I remember staying up late at night --way past my usual bed-time--just to work on these blocks.  I could't wait to see how they turned out! This is a McKenna Ryan pattern from the early 2000s ...  It doesn't seem to be available anymore, or I'd provide a link.

I remember learning to free-motion stitch and feeling like the world had opened wide for me with that new knowledge.   There were a lot of firsts for me on this quilt :

* raw-edge applique
* free-motion embroidery
* free-motion quilting
* beadwork

* using the embroidery unit on my sewing machine (that turned out to also be the last time I used it)
* printing to fabric (There's a poem on the back ...)

* altering a given pattern.  The original had Father Christmas carrying skis on his back.  I changed it to a load of wood.

When it was finished and hung, I remember laying down on the couch so I could look at it, mesmerized in a kind of meditation.  Even though I had worked every inch of it up close, it seemed to take on another life at a distance.  I LOVE when that happens!

And now, when I look at it, I'm still amazed and fascinated with it.   Now I also see it as an accurate record of my skill set at that time.  If I were to do it again now, I would do more embellishment, more free-motion embroidery.  I'd really color in the spaces more, add more texture, secure those beads better.   That was also when I didn't really see the need to square up a quilt top before adding borders, and binding.  It's a constant reminder of how far I've come! Cheers!

One More for Trashed

 Our dog, Purty, found this trashed baseball in the park next to our house.  It must have gotten chopped up in a lawn mower.   I thought it had some interesting textures, and it fit the December theme beautifully!

One last contribution for the Trash, Ruin & Decay  December Sketchbook Challenge Theme.