Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tree Skirt-Along Finale

Did you think I forgot about you? I may be running late but I wouldn't leave you hanging...
Hopefully you have a full top done- Mine measures 49" square measuring from red point to red point. I won't be making it into a tree skirt since I love it as a table topper.
Here is one of the blocks with a quilting design idea for you. I like the swirls going in all directions and will probably quilt mine this way...especially the center area...Love it! If you like these, save the diagram below. Print it out to an 8 1/2" x 11" and you will have the designs for a 12" block.
I did have some issues on my end getting it to print out the correct size. You may need to print at 90% once saved. Here are the measurements for each component so you will know you are close:
Large Swoop: 2-7/8" x 4-3/8"
Small Swoop: 1-1/2" x 2-1/4"
Center Swirl: 4-3/4" x 6-5/8" (measured along the spine of the swirl)
For backing fabric you will need 3 yards (trim selvages off):
Cut in half for 2 pieces at 54" x 40".
Sew back together along the 54" length to create a backing piece 54" x 80". You can trim away from the 80" dimension for a 54" square if you prefer. The 54" gives you approximately 2.5" extra on either side for quilting. You will need more yardage if you want extra backing fabric.
The 54" is also your batting dimension.
Layer your top with batting and backing for quilting. Quilt your tree skirt in a design of your choosing.
After the quilting it is time to make your cuts (represented in black on the diagram above) in order for it to become a tree skirt. You will want the center hole to be 3 1/4" across- this allows for the 1/4" seam allowance when sewing on your binding so that you don't cut the points off the red. Check the openings of drinking glasses/mugs in your cabinets-my water goblets are 3 1/2" across. Don't forget to check tupperware lids, coasters, candles: Most homes have readily available templates if we just look around and get imaginative:)
Once you have marked your hole, draw a straight line from the hole down through the center of one of the red points. Cut up the line and cut away the hole.
You will need 1 yard of fabric for 260" of continuous single-layer BIAS binding: (I cut my strips @ 1-1/8")
I don't usually make true bias binding but you will need it for the hole in the tree skirt. Since I don't claim to be an expert here, I will refer you to the Connecting Threads tutorial on how to make the bias binding.
After you have quilted and made and attached your binding all that is left is to find a way to close your slit.
Options include:
Making ties that can be sewn on from the back at the binding edge. Ties could be fabric tubes that match the binding or strips of ribbon. Make ties approximately 12" - 15" long.
You could also attach buttons on one edge and create a ribbon or elastic loop.
You can choose to not have closures at all:) Then you would be done!
The important thing is that you finish it and label it and love it.
Don't forget to email me a photo of your completed top by Dec 16th (since I was a bit late I will add a couple of days) to be entered into a drawing for 2 free patterns.
Can't wait to see what they look like!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tree Skirt-Along Pt. 2

Welcome back! I hope you were all able to find a copy of the magazine so we can get started. Technically as I write this it is still November 22nd for 22 more minutes:) which means you will have plenty of time to work on this before the holidays.

This is what 1 block looks like and you can see that the red and white were alternated in the center so that you get a nice twist or swirl affect. I searched my stash for red and white and found this wonderful little gingerbread man print for my cute.

I want to give you some measurements for making your paper piecing experience a bit easier and reduce waste. You will need to copy the pattern from the magazine 16 times....remember 4 quadrants per block x 4 blocks.

If you cut all your pieces out first,
1. you can lay them out in the order you will be sewing to avoid confusion
2. you can chain piece and it cuts your time.

The block is numbered 1-9 and I am giving you a measurement that will insure that each piece will be covered.
1= 3 1/2" x 6" (16) 2= 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" (16)
3= 2" x 2 1/2" (16) 4= 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" (16)
5= 2 1/2" x 3 1/4" (16) 6= 2" x 2 1/2" (16)

7= 2 1/2" x 7 1/2" (8 red/8 white)
8= 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" (8 red/8 white)
9= 1 1/2" x 4" (8 red/8 white)

As stated before you will need 1 yard of red and 1 yard of white fabric.

My paper piecing tips are:
1. Lower your stitch length to help perforate the paper as you sew. On my machine, I lower it to a 1.4 and I use regular copy paper as my foundation.

2. I would suggest using the Add-a-Quarter Ruler if you have access to it.

3. I also take a colored pencil and place a checkmark in each area of my templates to match the color fabric I am to put there...helps to keep me from getting confused:)

This is my sewing area and if you are able, I would highly recommend this. There is an Ott light (any desk lamp will work) to my left along with a small cutting board/rotary cutter and the Add-A-Quarter ruler. You can also see the piles of red/white rectangles all precut.
This photo shows that you are placing fabrics right sides together on the back side of the printed template. If you can see the triangular outline above the red, notice how the red is positioned so that when pressed open it will cover the point of the triangle.
This photo shows how the stitch line looks after chain piecing. On straight lines such as the one above, chain piecing is easier than coming in at an angle. On the pieces where you have to come in a little further, don't cut your thread, just lift foot and needle and then put needle back down into the paper right before the line. All the pieces will be connected by a thread and all those minutes of cutting your thread and restarting between each piece really do make a difference.

So I chain piece all the blocks: 1 to 2, separate, press them all open, trim for piece 3 placement, sew all of 3 to 2, repeat, etc.

When chain piecing the thread will interfere a bit with preparing your template for the next piece (in photo above see how thread goes all the way to the edges) but it is ok because the paper has been perforated and easily tears to where you need it.
This photo above shows how I have torn back the paper and folded it back ON the line where I will sew next. The outlines of triangles you see are on the back side of the paper and shows the importance of having that light there!

Now for the Add-A-Quarter ruler ....once you fold back that paper, the ruler has a lip that fits against the fold so you can trim to a 1/4". This puts your seam allowances in as you sew and you get a more precise fit to your pieces of fabric as you place them.

Here is the same piece from above with the paper folded back, the ruler in place, and my small rotary cutter ready to make my life a bit easier:)

The next step will be the green striped triangles. You have enough red and white left over to cut your strips:

Red: 4 @ 4 1/2" x 13" White: 4 @ 4 1/2" x 9"

For the green triangles you will need 2/3 of a yard. From this cut 2 strips @ 11 1/8" x 40". Stack the 2 strips together and cut 11 1/8" inches in so that you end up with 4 squares @ 11 1/8" sq. These four squares will be cut once on the diagonal for 8 triangles.
NOTE: It would be better to make quarter triangles so that your bias edge was toward the inside but I went with this measurement to save on yardage so be very careful of your bias edge and try not to stretch it.

From the strips now cut 4 squares @ 7 1/8" square. These four squares will be cut on the diagonal once for a total of 8 triangles.

Follow this photo (or diagram below) for placement:

Lay a 4 1/2" x 13" red strip out right side up and place a larger triangle to either side of it with the long side creating the diagonal.
Sew the triangles on from the bottom of the strip up.

Press seams to the triangles.

Fold the red strip in half at the top and make a mark where the halfway point is (should be 2 1/4" in from the edge).

***See left side of photo above and how square the red strip looks***

Lay completed piece out on a cutting board and following the line of the diagonal to the halfway mark, trim away the corners of the top of the red strip.

***See right side of photo above and how the red strip is pointed now***

Follow this process for all four larger triangle units.

Repeat the process above for assembling the smaller triangle units with the white strips.

Once all triangle units have been assembled, you will attach to the 24 1/2" square.

Fold bottom edge of red strip in half on the larger triangle units to crease your center mark. This will be your guide for pinning to the center seam.

You will sew a triangle unit to top and bottom and then the 2 opposing sides --Press toward the triangle units.

Fold bottom edge of white strip in half to crease your center mark. This will be your guide for pinning to where the seams are from the larger triangle units.

Following this diagram be sure that you sew on the red triangle units first: top and bottom and then the 2 sides.

Hope you are all on your way to creating something lovely. Please don't hesitate to ask questions if you get stuck.
See you here on the 6th of December:)

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today I get to help give away a free copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Quilt Blocks...YAY!
Thanks to a random number generator the winner is BillieBee of Billie Bee's Blog-CONGRATULATIONS!

AND since I have an extra copy, I generated a second number which belongs to Nancy of A Little Bit of Heaven blog.  I will need your contact information in order to mail this out to you.  Please email me at

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and took the time to leave a lovely comment on Monday...I wish everyone could win:)
Some of the comments:
"versatile", "love the variations and different colorways", "so many design possibilities", and someone even like the "tilted" look it can have once put together-Thank you, I enjoy that 'tilted' look too.

This has been such a fun week as I tried to peek in as much as possible to the QM blog to see the other designers and to pop over to some of your blogs as well.
A BIG GIANT WELCOME to my new followers as well!  I will be visiting each of your blogs very soon:)

It isn't too late to sign up for the tree skirt-along.  IF you send me an email to I will send you an email when the next set of instructions goes out since I know how easy it is to forget something:)

If you feel a bit timid about paper piecing, not to worry:
Starting on the 17th (after I know the magazine is out), I will be posting additional tips for paper piecing.

I am so excited about the formation of my own little tree skirt group and can't wait to see our accomplishments.  One of the comments stated wanting to make this as a table topper and, Donna, you are so right...  I had that in mind until tree skirt was suggested by a friend.
Remember that everything is attainable is small steps.  I read every single comment and found 14 who want to do the tree skirt along with another 7 'maybe's.  IF every one of us finishes a top, what a wonderful SHOW AND TELL we will have!
I look forward to all the variations.  You may think with just red and white there won't be, but there are so many shades of red:)  Variety makes the world go round...see you soon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

100 Quilt Blocks Blog Tour Monday

IT'S COMING..... On newstands November 16th, Volume 2 of Quiltmaker's 100 Quilt Blocks...can you feel the anticipation? This is my first time participating in the 100 Quilt Blocks Collector's Edition and also my first time participating in a blog is all very exciting. There will be many giveaways here and there including the original signed blocks from this issue. You will want to go 'there' (100QB Blog) to visit all the designers linked to the blog tour and to enter the drawings for fun prizes. Everyone who leaves a comment on my blog will be entered to win a free copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Quilt Blocks Volume 2. At the end of this post you will find an additional opportunity to create, participate, and win so come along for the journey:)
Here is my block, "Spiked Pinwheels" #125 on page 34. The paper piece template is available in the magazine. I have been experimenting with paper piece designs lately which is quite a departure from the applique designs I am used to creating. The first time I tried paper piecing, I was very intimidated and not overly thrilled. Now I find it easy and even enjoy the monotony of taking out the paper. Paper piecing offers such accuracy and the designs I am working on now offer the quiltmaker a variety of personalized creations based on color placement and block rotation.
You will need 4 quadrants to make one block and this is what the colorway in the magazine looks like in a 3 across x 4 down block layout...look at that wonderful secondary design. Keeping the center fabric a light color really gives you a sparkling star effect.

This photograph shows a completely different look by rotating the quadrants before sewing the block together. I was amazed at the striping you get when you multiply the blocks into a quilt. Think of all the color possibilities.

Then one day as I was driving down the highway, I noticed a soybean field that had started to turn that acid green color. Along the highway rows of white and bright purple wildflowers had been added-what a striking color combination.
I know not everyone loves earthy autumn colors the way I do, so here is a completely different colorway for you---

I love the vividness of this and notice I only used 3 colors in this version vs. 6 in the original block. I also alternated the color placement in the center vs. using the same color in the same placement in all 4 quadrants.

This is how a quilt would look in this colorway/layout. The German in me is a bit put off by the crooked feeling it gives off but that is also what makes it kind of cool! Just changing the color placement in the centers gives it a zig zag feel.

I felt that the picture of the whole quilt might overwhelm some especially if this is your first attempt at paper piecing (I promise it is easy!) so I pared it down to a 4 block layout. Once these triangle pieces were added, I started to get very excited.

Who is up for a challenge?? I have never made a tree skirt before and I think this pattern would be perfect so here is what I am proposing:
Peppermint Swirls.
The instructions for this tree skirt will be given in 3 sets:
November 8th: The center 4 blocks and initial fabric requirements
November 22nd: The striped triangle sets
December 6th: The finishing instructions including cutting the hole, quilting, and binding.
These dates make each step very attainable and gets it finished in time for a sweet Christmas gift.

You will need:
1 Yard each of red fabric and white fabric. This will complete 4 blocks with enough left over to add the stripes to the triangle sets in the next installment.
The instructions for the block will be in the magazine (on stands Nov 16th). You will make 4 quadrants for one block and you will make 4 blocks.
NOTE: See the color layout here and notice that the centers have been reversed for 2 quadrants. Two quadrants have a red/white/red placement and two have a white/red/white placement which allows for the swirl effect.

My paper piecing tips are:
1. Lower your stitch length to help perforate the paper as you sew. On my machine, I lower it to a 1.4 and I use regular copy paper as my foundation.
2. I would suggest using the Add-a-Quarter Ruler if you have access to it.
3. I also take a colored pencil and place a checkmark in each area of my templates to match the color fabric I am to put there...helps to keep me from getting confused:)
Paper piecing isn't your thing? Please let me know why in the comment section (be sure you leave a way for me to contact you) so that I can still enter you to win a FREE copy of 100 Quilt Blocks. I will announce the winner on this blog on Friday Morning. Good Luck:)

Paper piecing is your thing? Great! Follow along for the next 5 weeks, email a picture of your completed top (I am giving us all a Nov/Dec craziness out:) to , and with your permission I will be posting all our wonderful tree skirts in a special Dec 14th post.

In addition, every completed top will be entered into a drawing for 2 FREE patterns of the winner's choice from my website. They make great stocking stuffers:)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Education of the Artist Pt 3

I took a workshop with this leader in my field.

"The school years may be the perfect time to take on large problems, but do you really want to pencil in 'Change Basic Premise of Educational System' at the top of your To Do List?", Ted Orland.

A friend posted this video link and I was blown away...not only by the information within but the artistic way Sir Ken Robinson shares the information with us. I sometimes found myself drifting as I watched him draw and wondered how long it took him to condense this down for the clip. Enjoy and make sure you come back:) (or watch once done reading)
"A degree in art doesn't automatically make you an artist any more than lacking a degree precludes you from becoming an artist."
We need to remember that everyone learns differently though. Some artists will thrive being/learning on their own while others will crave the energy of a room filled with like-minded people. Which one are you? Whichever one you are, do you make the effort to balance your life with the other?
If you are the latter, it doesn't mean you must apply to college, rather that you should be open to alternative learning opportunities. Back in the day artists became apprentices of the masters. As Ted talks about apprenticeships, he points out the obvious, " ...there aren't enough masters to go around."
What is attainable to us all are extended workshops with a top artist in your medium. These offer great one on one opportunities as well as critiques and feedback and comradery with fellow artists of a like passion.
They can be costly so do some research on scholarships offered through guilds or grants offered through local/state art councils. My local council just offered such a grant and my local quilt guild offers a scholarship every year to Symposium.
"Workshops offer aspiring artists arguably the best- and absolutely the most concentrated - of all educational possibilities."
"Moreover, every student figures out sooner or later that the really important discoveries don't even occur during the formal morning or afternoon sessions- they happen in the spaces between sessions, out in the field or over lunch or coffee, or late in the evening when everyone's sharing sketches spread out all over the floor and arguing about the future of the world. These intense and often intimate encounters at the edges of the main event bring another revelation-that finding your friends is every bit as important to your future as learning your craft."
I couldn't have stated this any better! The electricity I feel when working alongside others in my medium can be overwhelming at times. I always come away feeling scattered and focused at the same time. In the last few years, I have transitioned into teaching and that is an amazing experience in itself and I am so grateful to have all of these opportunities.
So go forth and learn! :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quilter's World

Quilter's World December issue is chock full of vibrant reds and greens to make your holiday season POP!

In the midst of all these wonderful designs you will find my new pattern, Gingko Romance. My family is all about traditions and you can read about a fun international tradition as you set out to make your own.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Nights

It isn't too late to have this adorable wall quilt hanging for Thanksgiving....

Harvest Nights 22" Square

copyright 2005

"Harvest Nights" was created to satisfy my need for pumpkins:) To me there is no smell more wonderful than pumpkin pie and a slice with redi whip- YUMMM!

This is a 12" candle mat that is the bonus layout in the pattern. It is also what I use for my beginner hand applique class because the curves are nice and gentle. The leaf gives opportunities for inner and outer points without being too tough.
My tester's version used the same fabric as the strip to give a wonderful frame effect...lovely job, Susan.
Use fusible applique and machine quilting and you are done in a weekend. That is something to be thankful for :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Education of the Artist Part 2

Happy Halloween:) Above are my daughters' pumpkins from this year representing their college teams: ECU Pirates and NC State Wolfpack. They did a great job! I am so very proud of them working hard at school to learn all they can for when they go out into the world....but what are they learning and does it matter to them?

In part 1, we discussed 'everything matters' 'What Matters' to you??
"We hardly need to 'decide' to scan for knowledge- it's already hard-wired into us. Our species seems to harbor a singular need to understand why things are the way they are- a need to grasp their underlying nature." There are many areas from which to choose to enrich your understanding of the world around you. Each of us has already headed down a path and we can make decisions every day to lead us to the goals we set for ourselves; but we don't really know where we are heading.
"Where did you learn the things that really matter to you?"
"Where was that critical fork in the road that directed you to this point?"
"Who have been your real teachers?"
These are great and fascinating questions and the answers will number the stars for every one of us. I think a good portion of us can say our parents taught us the most basic values that we then tweaked to our individuality once grown. As to "...that critical fork...", I can't count just one. There have been multiple pivotal moments and hindsight is 20/20:) As to my entry into the quilt world, a fellow Coast Guard spouse named, Michelle, taught me while I was stationed in Puerto Rico 10+ years ago. She was passionate about quilting and wanted to make some new a small group of us would gather at her house once a week and she taught us the basics while enjoying chocolate cake and rum punch:) It is amazing my seams are still together on that first quilt!

"For better or worse we've created an educational system that only works on any large scale when the knowledge being offered is first pre-packaged into teachable gradable transferable and preferably marketable semester-length courses- and in recent years, structured as well to satisfy the current political demand for quantifiable proof that learning has occurred." I cherish those memories and learning moments that would not have been attainable through a formal art education process. The education system is set up to teach lessons with definative right and wrong answers. In an art mind there are no right and wrong answers. Don't misunderstand me: We do need the education system to give the basics of design element, history, etc. because without any exposure, how do you move forward? If you don't have a basic understanding and a platform from which to start, how can you possibly go in a different direction or reject the status quo?

When learning something new, there is a lot to be said of learning on your own. Yes you may be doing the process the hard way (at first) but it is Your way and the way your brain works things out can't be taught in a classroom. Once you have sorted out a process and then you learn other methods of doing the same thing, you have a basis from which to accept or reject those other methods. Sometimes in a classroom setting you are only taught one way as the 'right' way.

"Wisdom does not reside in facts alone-experiential, intuitive and moral judgements on how knowledge should be used lie near the core of our definition of humanity. As history suggests, getting a rocket off the ground is only half the equation."
How many of you had a formal art education?
How many of you have learned as you go?
It is our responsibility to educate ourselves in whatever path we are taking whether it be through reading, workshops, experimentation, or a formal degree. I personally feel that all methods available to us should be seized upon in order to allow us the freedom to buck the status quo:)

There is more discussion on Katharine's blog.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Education of the Artist Part 1

Education is key in anything we want to pursue and art is no different. This is the topic of the 4th chapter in The View From the Studio Door which I will break down into a few parts so that we can thoroughly discuss it. The discussion also continues on Katharine's blog.

Above is my second cross stitch made when I was 10-12 years old...I didn't want to finish but my mom wouldn't let me start something new until I finished my current project. Too bad that lesson didn't stick with me:) I leave many projects unfinished now. I did learn that I won't like everything I will work on. I also learned workmanship and neatness and carry those lessons into what I do today.

Ted ended chapter 3 by stating that we artists are making the world a better place and to move us closer to becoming a society that values every artist we must first acknowledge our own contributions.
We begin chapter 4 wondering how to get to where we need to be, "Indeed you may wonder what magical qualities you'd need to even begin such a journey." Ted discusses doing the work (a lot of it), caring about the work, and mastering the work.
*****While reading this chapter on learning I remembered a blog post I had read about blogging with a learner's mind. It was very interesting and could be applied here as well since there is a lot of positive reinforcement in each section of this post. I digress....

"Consciously or otherwise, we each self-select the path we need to take."
Take 10 minutes to really think back on your lives and what paths you took that brought you to the place you are now. I truly believe that ALL experiences-good and bad- have a lesson in them that you can apply to what and who you are today. "After all, if there's no predicting which particular piece of knowledge or experience will later prove essential, we're faced with the disconcerting possibility that everything matters."
Everything does matter! I didn't enjoy cross stitch when I was young but I eventually came back to it for it's familiarity and then learned that I really enjoyed it. This led to learning other mediums of art which eventually led me back to fiber. I have held many jobs in my life that I stumbled upon and they all had something to do with advertising. All those bits of information help me immensely today with my own business of self publishing my patterns, writing copy, marketing, etc.
We have all been learning our art and how we approach our art and how we put that art out into the world our whole lives. As we continue on this path, we can correct and/or change directions as we see fit for where we are going or want to go. YOU are in charge and you have a lot of the information and education you need...AND you will keep adding to that information. Try to learn one new thing each day---you never know when you will need it:)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quiltmaker's 100 Quilt Blocks is coming....

Quiltmaker's 100 Quilt Blocks will have a new block by NESTLINGS by Robin in the second edition that comes out in November.

I went in a new direction with this block so those of you used to seeing applique will be in for a surprise. I have a lot more of these designs on their way in 2011 and I hope you will let me know how you like them.

The blog tour will be November 8-12. Stay posted for giveaways and lots of new ideas from all the designers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Art and Society

Art, Society, and our place in it: Where do you fit in?
I won't be answering any questions today but rather sending more out into the world for us to ponder and in turn ask each of ourselves so that maybe one by one we can bring art back into society's broader appreciation.

"ART plays no clear role in our culture.
ARTISTS have little direct contact with their audience.
ARTMAKING is indulged, but rarely rewarded."

These are the larger issues that Ted Orland feels artists today face. So the question becomes, How do we change that?

"....there was a time (and not all that long ago) when artists were employed to make new art every week-art that addressed the deepest issues of life and death and spirituality. We have nothing like that today-and it makes you wonder: how would art and artists be received today if we made work that spoke for the community rather than to the community?"
As much as I don't necessarily feel that every piece of art has to "stand" for something, I will say that artists that speak for a community do tend to stand out more and get more praise and critical acclaim. Think of rappers that bring certain atrocities to light or artists who paint murals about the environment, etc.
So what to do if I really just want to bring beauty to your world and not hash out every outrage of our society? I have lived in darkness and don't want to go back there!

Ted goes on to discuss being productive and making art vs. believing the myth of creative genius and natural talent. He discusses the "creative process" and how getting better means making a lot of art; ".....having a working command of the creative process-that is, all those elements that lead to the making of art-is truly essential"

"...................take comfort in all those small steps"

"If you develop productive working patterns and learn from the work itself along the way, you will always be on the path toward making the best work you can."

"The common ground shared by artists who make continuing progress in their work is that they have committed themselves to working on the things that really matter to them."
"So what (if anything) does all this mean for you?....................................stay at work on the things that are really important to you, and you will reach your potential as an artist"

Two weeks ago I received the second rejection of a book proposal. I Love the designs within the book and so does everyone else who has seen them. Still the job isn't getting done somewhere along the way. The knee-jerk reaction is to have a pity party about how it isn't any good---STOP! They are good-great, in fact- and I need to "stay at work" on this path. The universe around me is pushing me in this direction as well through no nonsense friends and a supportive husband and multiple paths that I can traverse down until I get the desired outcome.

Society does not need to dictate to us about our art, but does this bring us back to 'speaking to the community' with our art?
We are in charge of our own destinies though and can be successful with our art with lots of hard work. Weren't we all raised to believe that if you worked hard enough, you could attain your goals? First we must know what the goals are though and so I challenge each of you to choose one very large and one very small goal to work toward. Place a completion date of December 31st, 2010 for the small goal and December 31st, 2011 for the large goal and make it work!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I realize it may not be proper to tell everyone how much I love my birthday but I don't care. Women diminish so many things in our lives because it isn't ladylike to sing our isn't humble to want the spotlight.

Sorry....I do want the spotlight and I enjoy having one day a year where attention is paid to me and gifts given to me. While we are at it, I love winning ribbons and making money from my art. There I said it out loud and I firmly believe there are many others just like me. I may not be very good at taking compliments (they make me very uncomfortable) but when I know they are sincere, I glow on the inside.
The first gifts to arrive were a wonderful new Flip video camera from my dear husband (look for video tutorials in my future:) and my copy of the QNN dvd for new members.
I was given this complimentary copy because when you join, I am one of the sponsors of free patterns this year and there are many other wonderful gift ideas as well.
My next fun gift was from my daughter...An Evening with John Barrowman. He is the heart throb from the BBC Torchwood series. He has an amazing voice and sings cheesy love songs and disco tunes on this much fun and very easy on the eyes:)
Because life is not all sunshine, my rejected book proposal came back to me next. It was bittersweet- unhappy it was rejected but happy to have my project (babies) back.
My mother always sends me something fun and unexpected and this year was no different. Mom is a master knitter and I love scarves so this year....
a box of Potato chip scarves. How fun are they? Just swirls of fuzziness:)
Then to top that.........

A vegan 100% silk scarf that is so light and lace-like I am a bit hesitant to wear it. It is fragile and wonderful and I can't wait to wear it:) This is my first bit of silk and now it is time to go shopping to find the perfect blouse to wear it with!

Thank you to my friends who sent cards and facebook well wishes. I am very happy to be here another year and feel loved.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Making Sense of Art


Today's chapter begs the age old question, What is Art? I love the photo above and feel it has artistic qualities but don't know if I would call it art. It is my photo and I love the hazy look of it along with the glow of the buildings coming to light as darkness starts to fall. I didn't think about all that as I took the photo, I just loved the feel of it all.

Again Ted compares the animals to us, ".....constructing a robin's nest also requires an active effort. If I dismiss the bird's efforts as "nest-building", then why should Frank Lloyd Wright's efforts to that same end be accorded some privileged status as "architecture"? OK, robin's efforts are instinctive, while Wright's are the product of conscious reasoning, but should that make any difference?" So, should it? Wen commented yesterday, "I think spider webs are artistic but I think the spider uses them to catch his dinner." I too think animals are artistic...they are just oblivious to it. Are we artists because we make the art intuitively or because we have the reasoning and the words to describe what we do?

My comment on Katharine's blog yesterday:

I am finding the comparisons between the animal world and the human world very interesting. I think that many animals are artistic just oblivious to the art they create since they do it out of necessity (instinct).When we as artists create because we have to, it is called intuition and Ted states this is closely related. We also have the words to describe what is art to us and the emotions to feel the art we view. I don't necessarily think that the emotions have to be deep societal statements...sometimes the beauty of a moment frozen in time is enough to render someone speechless and everyone's moments/memories are different.

There are many books written on the subject of 'what is art?' and it has been discussed to death on many forums. I think every artist needs to define this for their own work vs. letting the world define their work for them. You can't let everyone be your critic. This isn't to say you shouldn't be aware of what the art world is doing so you know how you do or don't fit in-just don't let that define you.

This is all great positive self-talk for myself as I sit here today awaiting the return of my rejected book proposal. Dear friends took me out last Friday morning to 'set me straight' so to speak. They didn't conjole and say it would all be ok. Instead they gave sound constructive advice on moving forward and I was gently chided for my negative thinking. Not ones to give empty compliments, they stated my talents and told me to continue doing the work I love and everything would come in time. Impatient me still wants to yell, WHEN????.

The theme of that morning continued throughout the weekend with conversations with my husband, discussions on radio programs, and horoscopes (though normally taken with a grain of salt suddenly sounded prophetic).

I deem what I do art. Even the most traditional quilt that I have painstakingly assembled by hand over weeks/months is art due to my view of design and the imprint of my soul in every stitch.

In describing gardens, Ted says, "the most prevalent role of the garden today is simply to provide its maker with a small oasis of peace and privacy- a refuge from an increasingly harsh world." Shouldn't that be what art does for each of us whether you make it or admire it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Making Sense of the World

I follow an artist named Katharine A. Cartwright and she has started a new book that I actually own titled, "THE VIEW From the Studio Door" by Ted Orland. This time I thought I would read along and take part in the comment discussions that happen on her blog.

This is the view out of my studio at present due to a combination of storms that hit North Carolina a week and a half ago. It is slowly getting better and I don't mind the view....I have waterfront property:)

Back to the book... In the first chapter, Making Sense of the World, Ted asks lots of questions. "What are we actually doing when we make art?" There is a lot of talk about why we make art and animals don't, what the deep need to make art is doing for us, etc. That isn't what I was intrigued by:

There is a story about a man that goes on a walk with a mushroom hunter. That example really drove home the sense of how what I see differs from what you see. The mushroom hunter saw the paths and hiding places of mushrooms where the man saw a tangled mess of moss and pine needles.
We all have a common sense of the sky being blue, grass being green, etc. but not all people are fascinated by the clouds in the sky or the weeds amongst the grass the way I am or maybe you are.

Ted talks of the mental map we are all making second by second as our brains choose which pieces to keep and which pieces to put to the background.
"The process of being unfolds as an endlessly overlapping succession of most-plausible-pictures. We become who we are by virtue of the choices we make-consciously or otherwise-about which parts belong to the story, and which parts can be left out."
Today when you go to your art, which pieces will you choose to include into your vision of the world around you???

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seagrove, NC

Well I did my part this weekend to support local artists:) As I have said before, my husband is in the USCG and this is our last year in NC. Whenever the last year of a duty station comes around, we start making a list of places/things we would like to see/do before we leave. We never know if we will get back to this area again.

This weekend we headed to Seagrove, NC. known for it's pottery. There are approximately 32 potters in a 10 mile radius. On the 4 hour trip to Seagrove we went through Fayetteville, NC. where there is a lovely quilt shop, Quilt N' Tiques on Anderson St. in the downtown. We also drove through the adorable town of Cameron which is full of antique shops and not much else. If you are looking for high quality antiques, this is the place to go.

We had a pretty good lunch at the Jugtown Cafe in Seagrove where we planned our attack:) There was no way to see them all so a stop into the North Carolina Pottery Center really helped to narrow down the choices. There is a section there that has samplings of the various potters so you can go to the ones that are to your tastes. Also in the center there is the history of NC pottery and lots of displays.This candle holder is one of my finds from Smith Pottery. I wanted lots of things but tried to be practical in my purchasing. The design on this is very subdued compared to some of the pieces there with beautiful Tree of Life designs. They had 3 different Bridal Registry sign ups displayed.

We went to Fat Beagle Pottery just for the name. Sadly no beagle to play with; I do miss my Schmoopy. There I found this sweet leaf dish. It is not very big...maybe good for a serving spoon.

At O'Quinn Pottery I found this business card holder. I am pretty sure they are using the scraps from other pieces to create this (cutting waste-great) and I just love the stamping in it and the deep earthy color. Great little $6 find.
There shop is in a 100 year old cabin that is very rickety but adorable. Most of the shops were very old feeling and out in these beautiful country settings. I was very envious.
My favorite that we went to was Ray Pottery. I would totally redo my kitchen in all of their dishware. This simple crock will probably hold my coffee and I am thinking of buying matching coffee mugs in the future. This is one of the few potters with a site. Even so I was impressed with the organization of the potters in the area. The center really helps and they have all advertised in a beautiful fold out map with their addresses and locations so you can spend a day driving out in the country from shop to shop. I dreamt out loud about textile artists taking over a town like this and becoming a destination. I am not sure how they all make a living but the diversity of design helps.

When we stopped at the Ben Owen Studio, you could walk out to the kilns in the back and they were so impressive. I took many pictures of these for possible screening images.
For our overnight extravagance, we stayed at a B&B named the Duck Smith House. The pictures on their site do it more justice than my pictures. I loved all the bead board and the old fireplaces and that gorgeous man on the couch (22 years worth:).The sisters who own it are very friendly and we fortunately had the place to ourselves so we enjoyed sitting out in the fancy living room to watch Eureka friday night. After an extremely comfortable night's sleep, we drank coffee from the mugs that Ray Pottery makes and they fit the hand wonderfully. Breakfast was stuffed French Toast-yummm:) Thank you again, Barbara and Suzanne!
These next pictures are of the outbuildings on the B&B property and give a good semblance of what some of the pottery studios looked like.

This is the Pisgah Covered Bridge. Lots of photos were taken of the rock supports.

Here is another picture of a butterfly that seemed to taunt me everytime I stopped to take photos. I would get excited and just as the button was about to be pressed, flutter flutter flutter away. I did manage to get 2 decent pics (out of about 20) and that will have to do.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Antique Treasures

Yesterday while my daughter and I were out for the day (soooo much fun!), one of the things we did was go to a new antique shop in town. It is in a great old home that really gives you that treasure hunting feeling: The Blue Gardenia Antique Company. There were so many beautiful items organized into little nooks.
Before I even entered the shop I found this geometric textile printing block. It might just decorate my shelves but how cool??
Then while we were inside, my daughter found the best one which definately looks like work I would do only in applique. I had to have them both and now I do:) I am lucky to have it too since the owner almost kept it because she likes them so much. There may be more for my collection too....
Tiffany, one of the owners, showed me another one that she had (not for sale)that was carved out of a log and it was gorgeous. The log had a honey pecan color and it had been inked in teal....very striking together.
You just never know what you will find and where.