Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Measuring Penny in top 100 nonfiction books

What a nice surprise... my Measuring Penny was named one of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books for Pre-K–Grade 8 by Judy Freeman on the Reading is Fundamental site. The whole list is here. There’s no date on the page so it’s hard to say how long the list has been up, but I just found out.

[A few minutes go by] 

Hmmm... just checked on the publication dates, and the most recent is in the early 2000s. So, it’s old news, I guess! I signed up for Google Alerts to try and keep up with things a little better. Gotta love the ‘net!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tag, you’re IT!

I just heard that Diane Evans gave me this wonderful award... thanks Diane! If you haven’t been to her DEsigned blog and seen her lovely art quilts, be sure to check it out.

Here are the rules for this award:
1)  Thank the person who gave you this award.
2)  Share 7 things about yourself.
3)  Pass the award along to 5 bloggers who you have recently discovered and you think are fantastic!
4)  Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.
I’m tagging the following bloggers to be fellow recipients of this award (click on their names to reach their blog):

Salley Mavor (don’t miss her 5-part series about illustrating her 1st book, The Way Home, with fabric.

Joyce Shelton’s Sketchbook... she has been posting a sketch almost every day of flowers, fruit, fish, and more.

Susan Elliot’s Plays With Needles has big, beautiful photos of her bead embroidery and other creative endeavors. This post about her Bead Journal Project is one of my favorites.

In Painted Threads, Judy Perez paints on fabric then quilts it. If you haven’t already seen her work in various magazines, you’re in for a treat. She posted wonderful in-process photos of the piece Oh Deer, Look What Has Become of Me.

Susan Miller posts about her children’s book illustrating and various nifty projects such as painting Christmas bulbs, gourds, and Easter eggs.

The 7 things about myself...
1) I love any color, as long as it’s in the right place
2) We haven’t bought lettuce in weeks... (my hubby is growing it hydroponically.)
3) My current favorite TV shows are Chuck and Project Runway.
4) I save my cat’s whiskers.
5) For me, shopping is a chore except in stores with art supplies, yarn, thread, beads, fabric, or handmade crafts/art.
6) I got swiped at by a tiger once. Fortunately, he didn’t have his claws out.
7) For the last year or so, I’ve been eating one vegan meal a day... it’s healthy and reduces my carbon footprint.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The rest of the flock

The third sheep has been completed... since I forget to show it previously, above is the sketch for this project. Pretty impressive, no? It’s not much more than a scribble done in Photoshop, but all I wanted was the size and basic placement of the critters. Sometimes I do a very precise pencil sketch on tracing paper and line up the fabric pieces exactly, but for this project a looser approach seemed possible and more fun.

Here’s how #3 turned out...she’s looking up at something up in the sky. I wasn’t necessarily going to hand stitch all the quilting, but it just seems to have the right whimsical feel.
As you can see below, I ended up ripping out the quilting shown in this previous post on the darker green fabric. Now there are yellow beads scattered around. Dandelions, probably. (Non-Floridians may not know this, but dandelions don’t grow down here.) I’m tempted to add a lamb, which for some reason didn’t occur to me until just this second. The funny thing is, this little flock of sheep is just a sideshow in a much bigger image. 
Hope you’re having a nice weekend. We hiked around most of the day looking at the new spring leaves.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More from Quilting Natural Florida 2

I just had to share a few more photos from this excellent exhibition at the Natural History Museum in Gainesville. (Related posts are here.) Above is a detail from Laura Quinn’s Pelicans by Susan Walen. The Laura Quinn of the title runs a volunteer bird hospital in Key Largo that the artist had visited and wished to honor. The sewn-on seashells on the seashore (try saying that three times, fast) are very effective, aren’t they? Below is the full image.
Another beautiful bird quilt is Solitude, by Gretchen Brooks, which depicts a Snowy Egret. The dark background shows off the white bird very dramatically.
I was intrigued in the label information about how the egret was made... the egret is a machine embroidery design that was digitized by BFC Creations. The company offers a huge number of designs that can be stitched out by the advanced sewing machines now available. This page shows the egret design. Personally, I’m only interested in creating my own original designs, but it is amazing what is “out there.”

Below is Road 9, Crandall Pasture, by Julie Mainor. The artist created quite an effective depiction of sunlight streaming into the woods.
Last but not least, below is GoPher It, by Dawn Moore. Like many Floridians, I adore gopher tortoises and often find them munching the vegetation on our property. Then there are the deer that keep hoovering the citrus tree leaves, but that’s another story!
It’s funny, but I can’t remember seeing any quilts with alligators... how did that happen?!? To see a page from the museum’s web site with several more nice images, click here. If you look at the participant page, there are several artists who don’t live in Florida, so anyone could enter as long as the quilt referenced the state’s natural beauty.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feeling sheepish

Need some sheep for a grassy field? Here is one way to make them, using a punch needle with embroidery floss or other threads to make the fleece. If you’re not familiar with punch needle work, here is a nice tutorial on Planet June by June Gilbank. I tried 2 strands of white floss with metallic silver on the upper left, but it looked too gray. On the upper right is plain white floss, which seemed a tad dull. The lower left one is white floss with one strand of variegated thread... it’s pretty, but not a good sheep color for this project. On the lower right is the winner, one strand of perle cotton in a cream color. 

The backing is white Kona quilting cotton. After taking the fabric out of the embroidery hoop, it’s trimmed to about 1/8" away from the loops. Then it's glued around back with tacky white glue. (A bamboo skewer comes in very handy to press down the raw edges.) The black parts are ultrasuede, their eyes are a gold bead held with a knot of black thread, while the ears have a stitch of brown floss. 
Here they are in place with seed stitch quilting, consisting of 2 strands of variegated floss. It’s pretty hard to tell, but in a few places I colored over the dark green pattern where it seemed too prominent next to the sheep, using a light green wax colored pencil. Might need do some more. I’m not 100% sure that I like the quilting stitches... may try some beads instead and see how that looks.

These remind me of sheep pins I made eons ago out of polymer clay. Actually, these guys could be pins with a little pin back sewed on. Their face and legs might need stiffening, though. You could fuse two layers of ultrasuede together, maybe.
Hope you’re having a creative week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quilting Natural Florida 2 is even better

The first version of this show in 2006 was enjoyable, but those involved really outdid themselves with the current exhibition. The bird-themed quilts almost stole the show. Above is Roseate Spoonbills by Sally Pearce Freeberg, with a detail below. 
Another stunning quilt depicting the same subject was Happy Together, by the Lovin’ Spoonbills, by Susan Slaton. She pieced the background first, then added the birds, nest and mangroves.
Here is a closer look at the wonderful chicks. We’ve seen quite a few spoonbills over the years, particularly on the Black Point Wildlife loop drive on Merritt Island, but have never glimpsed an actual chick.
Florida Flamingos (below) is by Denise Oyama Miller. Did you know that according to Audubon of Florida, there was a small breeding population of flamingos at the very southern tip of the peninsula when the first Europeans arrived? (I had not known that, just looked it up.)
The palm fronds certainly are well done, and of course the birds themselves.
There were many other subjects other than birds that quilters were moved to depict, including abstract representations of some aspect of the state such as weather. However, to complete the visual theme we have going, here is one final pink quilt:
Florida Beauty is by Martha E. Berles who found inspiration in her own back yard. I have attempted to make a quilted hibiscus in the past... that central stamen stalk is not so easy to do.
There are many non-pink quilts in the show, the majority of them, actually. In addition to birds and flowers, they include trees, butterflies, turtles, and even a fungus. To see the previous two posts about this show, click here. The exhibit is open until April 25, 2010 and is well worth seeing if you’re in the Gainesville area.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shooting and adjusting excellent detail photographs

I just read a post on the Beadlust blog by Robin Atkins, Taking and Editing Quality Photos of Beads and Beadwork... it’s an excellent tutorial that would be useful for many types of artwork. It includes the adjustments she uses in Photoshop, including Levels, Shadow/Highlight, Brightness/Contrast, and several more. A before and after image shows how much of a difference her process makes in bringing out the beauty of her beadwork. I certainly learned a thing or two that will come in handy. 
While you’re there, of course, check out the fab artwork made with one of my favorite materials, BEADS! I haven’t posted many of my beaded creations, but above is a butterfly that’s almost finished. He just needs a little repair work where I managed to cut the thread around the outside... oops! This actually was scanned, not photographed... it doesn’t look as sparkly as the real thing, but since I was in a hurry and didn’t follow all of Robin’s steps, that’s probably why.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quilting Natural Florida 2 exhibit is now open

If you’re in the Gainesville, Florida area from now until April 25, 2010, be sure to stop into the Florida Museum of Natural History. A special exhibit of nature-inspired quilts will be there, sponsored by the Quilters of Alachua County Day Guild. To see the guild’s lovely quilt, appliquéd with the flora and fauna of the state, click here. 

This is my piece, Reaching, that was juried in. We haven’t seen the exhibit yet, but since it’s only about 7.5 X 10 inches, it’s probably the smallest piece in the show. Here is my artist’s statement:

I painted this pine tree directly on the fabric while on location at Highlands Hammock State Park. The twisting branches of pine trees continuously catch my eye, each treetop a unique formation caused by Florida’s weather extremes.
All of the image color is paint, except for the binding fabric. This detail shows the stitching. One drawback of using acrylic is that it causes the fabric to retain needle/pin holes, so it’s best to get the stitching right the first time. I made the mistake of using safety pins to hold the layers together which left a few holes. Using a sharp needle mostly from behind, it wasn’t too difficult to gently pull the threads together to minimize them. 

There are a few more trees that want their portraits done... hope to fit them it sometime soon. I would like to try a larger one that incorporates chunks of fabric in addition to or instead of paint. At long last, the weather is not so chilly now, so that helps. Spring is right around the corner, yay! 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2 new quilting books

A surprising and delightful package arrived last week containing two new titles published by Lark Books. Apparently I had signed up to review books for them months ago, though had completely forgotten about it. I would have written about them sooner, but after starting to page through 500 Art Quilts, I put everything on hold to spend the next few days in the studio putting together an entry for a contest before the March 8th deadline. (Made it, see sneak peek below.)

So, I can personally attest that 500 Art Quilts: An Inspiring Collection of Contemporary Work, definitely lives up to its subtitle. The artwork juried by Karey Patterson Bresenhan into this book presents a wonderful overview of the variety of work being created by artists today using cloth and thread plus many materials that uninitiated readers might not expect. Each full-color photograph is accompanied by a materials and process list that may include newspaper, fusing, drawn threads, charcoal, gauze, stones, tulle, ink-jet printing, grommets, zippers, beads, shibori, and much more.  A portable quilt show in 432 pages (8" X 8"), it is a worthy addition to the books in this series, such as another one of my favorites, 500 Beaded Objects

For a more detailed step-by-step book, Pretty Little Mini Quilts can fill the bill. The small (under 36") quilts are original designs by 25 different artists. They include a variety of styles and techniques such as traditional geometric blocks, appliquéd images, a portrait quilt, “drawing” with thread, machine and hand embroidery, vintage fabrics, and the use of embellishments. The directions are clear and should provide enough information for sewers with at least some experience. Compared with the artwork shown in 500 Art Quilts, these projects are simpler overall and require relatively standard materials and techniques. The 144 page, 8" X 8" book includes a table of contents, supply and tool list with general instructions, and an index. 

Last week I wasn’t sure if there was time to pull together an entry for the Quilting Arts 2011 calendar contest, but things came together nicely for once... perhaps my biggest worry was having enough time to print out three 8" X 10" photographs without my printer balking. No problemo, this time. As you can see from the detail, I crocheted some elements, in this case the curly stem on top of a tomato. I was glad to be able to enter again, wish me luck!

Monday, March 1, 2010

From trunk show to quilt study collection

I received some fun news from SAQA recently... my little 8" X 8" piece that had been part of the SAQA 20th Anniversary trunk show has been chosen as one of 55 to be archived in the permanent collection of the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln.) There is more info on this page about how it was made. 

Tropical Dreams l has some novel materials incorporated into it, which is probably why it was chosen for the study center. The shell is painted onto a sparkly sheer turquoise fabric, not too unusual, perhaps. But the fronds of the palm tree are painted, stitched heavy-duty aluminum foil, which is a little offbeat. By the way, the painting on foil technique won’t work on the new, nonstick foil that is available now, so read those labels.