Another year, another author’s day at my friend Amy the librarian’s elementary school! I’ve mentioned her before in the March 14, 2017 and the November 2, 2017 blog. She’s an amazing person and an incredible resource for very special books and authors!
Last year as she was just starting to think about potential authors to invite, she mentioned really wanting Katherine Applegate to come and speak but didn’t’ think it was going to be possible. I admitted that I had no idea who she was talking about and shortly after that breakfast, I had two books delivered to me – The One and Only Ivanand Wishtree. Being the procrastinator that I am, I put them on the pile of books to read by my bed and there they sat. Amy had told me that much to her delight Katherine had agreed to come to the school. That jogged my memory but still the borrowed books sat. The holidays came and went and the new year began and I remembered those books with just a bit of embarrassment (sometimes Amy is far too forgiving and patient). I finally pulled out Wishtreeand couldn’t put it down. It’s a very special book.
For author’s day, a 15” by 15” art piece is created celebrating one of the visiting author’s books and the author signs the piece commemorating the visit. The framed pieces are hung in this beautiful library. I called Amy as soon as I had finished the book and asked if I could do the artwork for the book. She said yes! More accurately, I believe I said, “That book is mine!”
If you haven’t read the book yet, stop here, go get the book, read it and then come back to this!
If you’ve read this, read on and I’ll tell you a bit about the piece.
I chose an image of a red oak that felt sheltering and protected. Red shelters and protects the animals, humans, and history for his neighborhood. With Amy’s help, some of her students created the cards along with some of my friends and family. Those were put onto the branches using Photoshop. I wanted the image to be in daylight – things coming to light, exposed. I decided to print this out on two colors of fabric and sew it together using the traditional block called crossroads. This particular block was thought to have been used in the Underground Railroad to signify Cleveland, Ohio which was one of the main crossroads with many routes to freedom. I also love the definition of crossroads and how it pertains to this book – reaching a turning point where a choice has to be made. I had to give a nod to Red’s best friend Bongo on the mat. I took a photo of a crow from my husband (Curt Bianchi) and made a screen print.
When I met Katherine at author’s day, I became every bit a fan-girl and hopefully didn’t embarrass myself too badly! She was absolutely lovely and really liked the piece! Woo hoo!
Rest assured, I did read the other book and have returned it. I now have a stack of all Katherine Applegate’s other books on the top of the pile next to my bed! She has officially joined my shortlist of author’s works not to be missed!
Last month our quilt association decided to have “Summer Camp” instead of their usual meeting. They asked seven members to repeat 18 minute presentations four times each as the membership walked from station to station. I was lucky enough to be one of the presenters and demonstrated how to use tissue paper in art quilts.
I started using tissue paper in 2014 when I made Sunflower Pilgrimage. It seemed the perfect way to print the fractured sunflower and then fuse the sections to different colored fabrics to mimic different exposures of the image.
I had been inspired by seeing Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgrimage exhibition. I love her layered photos and the one that really knocks me out every time I see it is the photograph of Marian Anderson’s gown that she wore when she sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. I mean, wow. Just wow
The translucency of the tissue paper and what color fabric you put it on has the power to change the photo – making the image crisp and clear to subtly diffusing it. I also love the texture it adds to the quilts. It makes it look a little like leather without being heavy.
After the sunflower, I followed up in fairly quick succession using it in If One a Day is Good… for the apples, I’m Flying… for the ride structure, and Along the Forest Trail for the Columbia windflowers.
I’ve also used it to make postcards out of public domain vintage images online. Very nice for holiday cards!
Four years later and the opportunity to share tissue paper insanity with my quilt association gave me a reason to return to it and make some more samples while exploring some new possibilities on how to use it. That led to three small pieces.
Circuitous Path was made by taking a photo and running it through an App. I wanted people to see what can happen with a saturated image on four different colors of fabric. The two images side by side tell you which image is fused to which fabric – very subtle differences. I had to come up with a way to join these four sections without them being too close to each other because in using this technique, there is no way the edges easily match up. The nice side effect of separating the four pieces slightly is that your eye corrects for any imperfections.
Still Life was created by applying Inktense inks to the tissue paper and then collaging it to make a simple image. I like that you can get an intensity of color with the inks and yet it still retains a translucency.
The seed pods piece is still in progress. I ran a photo through an App and then played with it in Photoshop. I also played with applying watercolor to the tissue paper before printing on it. I really like how the collaged background shows through the torn edged tissue paper while it floats in the middle. I also ended up putting water color on the fabric background.
That, so far, is the history of my tissue paper journey! Hope you enjoyed it and really hope that you start including other materials in your quilts just because you can and it’s fun!
This is way after the fact, but I was thrilled to be selected for first ever artist member show at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles last fall entitled Juncture.
When presented with some challenges (all right, MOST challenges), ideas are slow to evolve. I was really having trouble coming to a satisfactory idea. My husband and I were on our way to a Giants game in San Francisco when I looked up and saw all of these wonderful connecting cables for the electric trolleys that run in the city. Talk about junctures! I grabbed my phone and quickly snapped a few photos before the light changed. Let’s face it, not a particularly good photo, but enough to work with!
With some judicious cropping, removing the background and then playing with color to emphasize some of the interconnecting lines, I printed the image onto the fabric. I liked the idea of giving the colored sections a little depth and decided to paint harsh shadows onto the piece with Shiva paint sticks. Finish the piece off with some quilting that gave the feeling of tension – of being pulled in many directions, and I was almost there.
With approximately an hour and a half until the entry deadline, I was putting the binding on. I decided to glue baste so that I could get the pictures taken and sent in. Piece of cake, right? Evidently my brain decided to take a holiday and I forgot how to do binding. A frightening mess ensued and I ended up having to cut and glue the corners to make it “look” acceptable in the photos and just send them in THEN rip it all out and finish it correctly – all done the next day when I was somewhat sane again. Frightening how the simple things can defeat you sometimes! In any case, this is my piece Choices.
After taking a bit of a hiatus from posting anything new, I’m back! I’ve created a few new things over the past six months or so that I’ll be getting around to posting slowly! Life of late has been more focused on family, but I’m still finding time here and there for artistic pursuits!
One of the more recent quilts is Seaside Succulent. A friend of mine moved to Aptos last year and a visit to her led to walking around her new neighborhood. Being a succulent junky, I fell in love with a bed of them near a beachside cliff. I loved the colors and took tons of photos! None of the photos were fabulous, but with some judicious cropping, rotating, and color adjustments, I really like the final image. Hope you do, too!
I had taken a fair amount of progress shots while working on it and decided to give an animated GIF a try – don’t get motion sick from watching it!
I’m currently in the process of trying to replace those negative voices in my head that tell me I can’t do things and that I’m not good enough with those voices that will cheer me on…loudly! I recently had one of those moments when a friend cheered for me in such a moving way, I was reminded that she needs to be one of the primary voices in my head! Here’s the story.
I’ve written before of my quilt Liberty Marches. It recently came to the Bay Area with the rest of the Threads of Resistance exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. A dear friend who is a fan of this quilt came to the show to see it in person as well as all the other quilts in the exhibit. We marched together at the San Jose Women’s March so it is especially meaningful to both of us. She wanted to surprise me the next day with a trip to a bookstore for a book signing, but I was still working the quilt show and couldn’t make it. The other morning at breakfast I was presented with a signed book, complete notes and photos from the book signing, along with a moving letter from her.
The book is freaking amazing and I highly encourage everyone within hearing distance to GO GET A COPY!!! It’s a children’s book entitled Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers with art by Shawn Harris. And, yes, it’s about the Statue of Liberty!!!! I’m not sure I can adequately tell you how much I love this book!
What’s even better is that is that both the author and artist signed the book telling me that my quilt was beautiful, inspiring, and incredible – kind of nice to hear, but my response was, “What did you do?” This lovely librarian friend went armed to the book signing with images and the write-up of my quilt for each of them as well as other copies “just in case” and handed out those, too.
Who does that? I’ll tell you – someone who is passionate, supportive and loving! She promoted me the way she promotes a book or an author that she knows is special – by telling everyone she knows and giving the book to as many people as she can! She has a faith and a commitment to what moves her that is inspiring and I’m incredibly grateful for it! Not only for her support of me and my work, but, my God, she’s turned me on to so many amazing books and authors!
Thank you, dear friend! You are now officially the leader of the voices in my head!
As the catalog for the touring exhibit Threads of Resistance came out recently (available at Amazon), I thought I’d give you a little background on my piece Liberty Marches that’s included in the book and exhibit.
I heard about a call for fiber art started by a group of artists I really admire called The Artist Circle. Threads of Resistance was their idea for a touring exhibition of fiber art that reflects artists’ viewpoints in response to the 45th president. I knew I wanted to participate.
Trying to process the results of the election and what that said to me about our country was a difficult time for me. A friend was trying to process her feelings as well and put her hopes and wishes for peace into a quilt. I decided I needed to do some art therapy as well, but was in too dark a place and couldn’t think of an idea for a piece that I wanted to work on. And then came the Women’s March on January 21st.
My husband Curt and I thought it was important to attend our local march. We connected up with groups of people we knew – people from up north that we had worked on a campaign with, friends and neighbors, fellow League of Women Voters members, quilting and museum friends. We were part of the 25,000 that marched in San Jose that day. It was a day filled with positive energy – peaceful, loving, and determined to advocate for civil liberties. I got home from the march and the ideas started to come!
Now, for the ridiculous part of creating anything – those unrelenting voices that tell you, “If it was a good idea, someone else will have already come up with it and will do it better than you ever could.” I managed to just let the voices wail and “nevertheless,… persisted!”
I found a public domain image of the Statue of Liberty and then, after altering it slightly, used Photoshop to tattoo her with replications of over 100 Women’s March signs that were carried around the world. I learned even more about Photoshop doing this project! Harking back to the skills we used in grammar school, the idea of weaving this image appealed to me from how it would look as well how it reflected on the meaning I was trying to convey.
I had four shades of gray fabric in mind for the printing and when I went to treat the fabric to prepare it for printing, I discovered there wasn’t anywhere close to the amount I needed. Argh!!! I whipped out the computer and did a search for gradient gray fabric, and in less than five minutes I found a gorgeous piece with the quantity I needed to print the image twice. I wanted it to be gray, both to refer to the gray winter morning on January 21st and to have her marching into the darkening sky. I found this piece dyed by Vicki Welsh that is perfection.
The printing was challenging this time as I had to try a new heavier freezer paper to stabilize the fabric due to the length of the strips I needed instead of the cardstock I normally use. After some frustrating attempts (and my husband’s help) it worked.
A friend pointed me towards looking at some bargello quilts to get some ideas on cutting the widths of the strips to weave. A great idea! While looking nothing like a bargello quilt, varying the widths of the strips gave me the movement I needed in the finished piece.
To finish this off, here’s the artist statement for Liberty Marches (also written with the help of my husband and a friend):
On January 21st, 2017 the Women’s March took place around the world in protest of the character and policies of the 45th president of the United States of America. Women and men marched in support of many issues including liberty for all human beings.
The symbol of our country’s freedom commonly known as the Statue of Liberty is actually entitled Liberty Enlightening the World. Libertas carries a torch in her right hand lighting the way forward, a tablet in her left inscribed with the date of our declared independence, and a broken chain at her feet symbolizing abolition.
I imagine her on January 21st wanting to march but knowing how much more important it is to hold high the symbols of freedom. She invites over 100 marchers from all over the world to make the signs they march with a part of her. Emblazoned with their words, she re-enlightens the world.
We can help. The fabric of liberty is imperfectly woven together. Sometimes it frays and unravels and hangs by a thread. We can strengthen the cloth. Working together, marching together, we are liberty.
Be sure to check out the tour dates and locations near you!
So much going on but, instead of trying to jam it into one rambling, lengthy post, I’ll spread it out over a few days and make this a rambling, lengthy post about one topic!
The quilt I’m sharing with you today is the latest of my quilt mosaics entitled Morning Light. This is another close-up of a succulent – an echeveria – one of my absolute favorites! I love the ruffles, the undulating lines, the deep shadows, and brightly lit edges. It’s from an early morning picture and the colors make me happy.
Morning Light was a commission piece that was a dream from beginning to end. I received an inquiry at the end of last year asking if I’d make a piece for a family. I said that I would be interested and that we would talk after the first of the year. I asked that they think about size, subject matter, color preferences, etc. – all the normal stuff. We picked our date in January and talked after the holiday craziness had calmed a bit. The conversation was one of those wonderful, easy connections you make with people sometimes. I was entrusted with information about the family that gave me a sense of who they all were and I felt a real emotional connection to each of them. After a bit, I was told that they had decided they wanted me to choose the subject matter and color scheme. They wanted it to be truly from me.
Talk about nerves hitting. I played around with a few ideas and images. But this is the one I kept coming back to. So with a due date of May 31st, I started.
Some painting and some dying of buttons did happen, along with a little more purchasing but more than that, I thought about each member of the family while I was sewing. I felt like they were involved with its creation. This quilt actually debuted (unfinished though it was) at the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association’s biannual quilt show where I was one of the two featured quilters (Mel Beach was the other). I got to share my process and even had some kids help lay out buttons.
In spite of going to an out of town conference and a family reunion trip to celebrate my mom’s 90th birthday, I managed to finish the piece and have my husband Curt photograph it for me.
Now the nerves truly kicked in. I sent the photo off to the family and had to wait for approval. They did approve it and I sent it off, still a bundle of nerves wondering what their reaction would be to the piece face to face.
I knew it had been delivered, but didn’t hear from them until Saturday. It was received in a way that was beyond my expectations and I was and still am so moved. The one line I’ll share with you, “I told my kids that this is our family heirloom.” I can’t express how honored and incredibly grateful I am that they let me create something for them! What a wonderful family and a wonderful experience.
It’s been quite a while since I sat down to try to capture some thoughts. That indicates that either I haven’t been thinking or that everything has been a muddle in my head. Although some might try to tell you that it’s the first, I assure you it’s been the later! The climate in the world has had me reeling.
I’m focusing right now on finishing up three projects. I’m working on a button mosaic piece for some lovely people living in Arizona. Truly excited by how it’s coming out! I have a due date set for May 31st but I’m hoping to get it done earlier as this year seems to be getting busier by the day. I’ve signed up for a class in how to make my own buttons and beads but that doesn’t happen until September. I need it now!!!! Certain colors are illuding me!!
While working on this quilt I’ve been working on two other quilts as well and the smallest piece is now complete! A dear friend of mine (Amy) is a librarian at a local elementary school and once a year arranges for several authors to come and speak to the students. As a part of these Author Days, she has a 12″ x 15″ work of art created surrounding an author’s particular book title. Historically, these are quilts but some have worked into other artistic expressions. Each author signs a three inch strip at the bottom of the artwork representing their book and Amy then has these beautifully framed and hung around the library. I was lucky enough to create one several years ago for a book by Mac Barnett and I was so honored to have her ask me to again create a piece this year for Wendelin Van Draanen’s The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones. This is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. I simply love it. I’ll deliver the piece to Amy this week and then get to meet the author and hear her speak on April 23rd. Very excited!
The second piece I’m working on is a larger digital piece that I’m working on for the Threads of Resistance challenge. I have all the work done on Photoshop and just received the fabric, etc. that I’ll use for printing. I think it will come out! That’s the best I can say at this point!
In the rest of my spare time, I’m preparing for our local quilt association’s quilt show on April 1st and 2nd at the Santa Clara Convention Center. If you’re in the bay area, I hope you will stop in! Mel Beach (a brilliant quilter/teacher/lecturer and I are both the featured artists for the show. Check out the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association website for information. Also, please click on the link to Mel’s blog as she does such a good job of promoting it and giving important details! Hope to see you there!
I’m feeling overwhelmed, excited and very inspired! So many good things happened over the past week!
First (and most important), on Wednesday we celebrated my incredible son’s 26th birthday! They keep coming fast and furious!
The Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) started on Thursday. I had one day to see it all! As I mentioned before, two of my quilts made it into the show. High Voltage Birds won an Honorable Mention in the Innovative category. So much fun! After walking every aisle (sometimes more than once), looking at every exhibit, at every quilt, and perusing almost every vendor, I made it home and put my feet up. A friend emailed me about an hour later asking, “Did you realize your Albuquerque Sky quilt was used as the backdrop for all the PIQF special exhibit signs!” I looked at all those signs and never noticed! How ridiculous!
Now for the part that has me still giddy! We drove down to San Diego to attend the Visions Quilt Museum opening reception, breakfast, walk through, and juror talk on Saturday and Sunday for Breakout: Quilt Visions 2016. I’m so honored to have been selected to be part of this show. Walking around and looking at the other pieces, I’m overwhelmed. I wanted every single piece being displayed. Oh, for unlimited funds and wall space! Add to all that eye candy the opportunity to talk to some of the most amazing artists and my weekend was almost complete! Other than being some truly lovely people, I learned quite a bit as well – lots of great information was shared!
I was pretty nervous the first evening not knowing anyone other than my lovely husband who doubles as a great security blanket! I managed to talk to a few people when I first got there and then spotted a friendly face – an amazing artist I’ve met at PIQF once a year for the past three years was at the opening! Marty Ornich is a fiber artist that has created some amazing wearable art some of you may be familiar with. This is one of her creations that was at PIQF in 2014. She is also having a special exhibit at the Houston show coming up in November. If you’re there, be sure to check it out! It was so lovely to see her again and spend some time catching up! Funny how just that little familiarity can give you the confidence to reach out to more people! She is such a generous, vibrant person!
I was one of the award winners as well and was thrilled to meet the artist that the award was given in honor of – Rita Zerull. She’s a funny, charming, spunky 80+ year old San Diego artist and very generous with her time and conversation! (How could I not love a woman who said she would send me some buttons!) The photo is Marty on the left, Rita in the middle with me on the right.
If you are in the area, it is really a beautiful museum and a beautiful show! There’s even a book! Many other galleries and museums are right in the same area and some pretty amazing restaurants! Go!!!
A busy week coming up and full of fun stuff!
A friend is getting married this weekend and was lovely enough to trust me to make her bouquet. It is a lovely collaboration but now I’m having day-mares that it is going to die and fall apart before the wedding tonight! Hold a good thought!
On Monday, I’m dropping off my quilts for the Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) opening this Thursday. If you’re anywhere near the south bay, stop in at the Santa Clara Convention Center and check it out! I have two quilts that were accepted this year – Beacon and High Voltage Birds. You’ve heard the story behind High Voltage Birds but now I’ll tell you a bit about Beacon.
Beacon is my impression of an antique lighthouse prism. I tried to capture some of the feeling of refracted light and some of the depth while looking into the prism and then played around with designing the border mimicking the circles and the prisms. It’s funny, but I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this piece. It was a departure from what I’ve done in the past in some ways and pushed me in different directions, which can be a good thing sometimes. I’ll let you know when I’ve come to a conclusion!
PIQF is always a fun show and I love wandering through the quilts and seeing how many of the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association members have quilts hanging in the show! We are a mighty group! One year I think we should make it a member game to see who can find all the member quilts hanging in the show. The first one to find them all to win…??? Suggestions?
The same weekend (of course because it never rains but pours) is the opening of Breakout: Quilt Visions 2016 in San Diego. I’m lucky enough to be one of 41 artists chosen to display a piece in this show. Very exciting! The quilt in the show is Stonecrop Tapestry. The only slightly terrifying thing about the opening weekend is that I have to give a two minute talk about the quilt. I have no idea what to say so I’m procrastinating preparing! Feeling slightly intimidated speaking in front of some truly amazing artists!!! Help! Hopefully I’ll pull it together and prepare something that will sound fairly coherent other than, “Yeah. I made this. I used buttons and beads. It came out kind of pretty.” Somehow, I don’t think that will cut it.