Sunday, March 29, 2015

I couldn't wait!

Well it worked!  See my last post for the background to this statement..

Now I get to move on to the fun part....


I must say, this was a HUGE learning curve!

Some of you might remember my earlier post here about playing with my Silhouette Cameo cutter.  Well, that was in January, and true this hasn't been a continuous or daily journey, but I must say it has been a journey.

First I must say that Martha Shiff, the moderator of the Silhouette Cameo facebook group is a goddess.  Her patience and her support have been wonderful to me and many others.  I must also say, I have used my cameo successfully for quite a few large solid images, with no problem at all.  You have seen some of these in my dancer art quilts.  But I decided in January to use the Cameo to cut out a very detailed, small circle that I had sketched.  So first I had to learn how to get clean images into the cutter that were drawn with pencil, with eraser lines, that didn't translate into cut lines when creating a cut file.  Then of course, I wanted many circles interconnected, so it is was about compound images and point editing...  my head was exploding...

Next I had to learn how to treat the fabric, so that very thin segments with curves and points could be cut with clean and sharp edges.  Along with that how to treat the mat, so that the fabric stuck enough, so those thin pieces wouldn't come up when the machine rollers rolled often them, back and forth, several times.  Of course, there were the cut settings.... blades settings, cut speed, etc...  Whew!

Well here are just a couple of the images that were the result of many hours of testing...  I won't show you the two before this one.. lol... it was truly a birds nest!.

These pieces are only 10" across, so the average circle in these photos is about 4" in diameter, with all the cut outs, making some of the pieces only 1/8" thick. 

I am writing this as the Cameo is cutting what I hope to be my final cut.  I really want to use in my next art quilt (I hope it works, as I don't have any more of this particular batik... I failed the first 2 cuts!)  It has been cutting for about 40 minutes now...  Keep you fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An interesting discussion.....

Tonight's guild meeting, led to a very interesting discussion and some deep thought on my part. 

What is good enough?  Does it matter if your points don't match, that your seams are more like jug handles than a 4 way intersection?  Who cares if you cross over lines in your machine quilting, or if you just zoom across the top to get it finished....  is 'done' better than 'good.?

Is design more important than technique?  If a piece looks good from across the room, isn't that all that counts?  Does it matter if your stitch length varies greatly across the piece?  Do you need to quilt evenly across the quilt? Would it get a passing mark from the 'quilt police'?

What is a 'fiber artist' or a 'quilting professional'?  When do you graduate from a quilter or crafter to an 'artist' or a 'professional'?  If it is on your business card, does that make it so?  Or if you get paid for a quilt or a speaking/teacher slot, does that make you a professional?  What about if you publish patterns, yet someone else makes even the sample from beginning to end...  are you a fiber artist or quilting professional, or a pattern maker?  Does getting paid to write an article on quilting make you a professional quilter or professional writer, or should you have to actually have made an award winning quilt.. or what?

Interesting questions....  most of which the answer is subjective, for others the answers don't really matter, as there is no regulatory body in the quilting industry.  And I think you could ask many award winning quilters and get very different answers.

What do you think?

What was I ever thinking...

I don't know about you, but I tend to get these 'great' quilting ideas, just as I am about to fall asleep.  So of course, it somehow materializes in my dreams.  A couple of weeks ago, you saw the circular sketch I posted and how I wanted to turn that into for my next project.  Well, it showed up in my dream as a brightly colored quilt on a dark background, in varying sizes.  Well of course, I woke up thinking, well I know what I am going to do for the next FANE (FiberArts North East) challange!

Well that piece has gone under some metamorphosis, not because I didn't like the design of the circle, but because I couldn't get it into my Silhouette Cameo cutter clean enough to make clean cuts.  Next I tired creating one large piece with many circles connected, all at the same size, but there were two problems that I bumped into that quickly changed my mind.  First all the circles the same size was boring, and second, at 3" in diameter, the detail was way too small to show like I wanted it to.  So instead, I started recreating my sketch at almost the same level of detail in the Cameo software itself.  Nope, still too small, but the good thing when working digitally you can stretch the object to any size you want.  So I spend hours creating these different circular designs, only to realize, that most of the detail was going to be too small to cut and even more so, to show the see through effect I was going for....  so after about another 15 hours or so of playing around in the software, I did a test cut on paper.

Ughhh, while most will work out nicely, some areas are still way too small.  Here's to hoping I can enlarge them quickly without loosing the integrity of the piece.  I already know that one part won't work at the size I have, because the paper ripped right up when I tried to remove it from the cameo mat...  the pieces were just too thinly cut!

Oh well...  I see more hours at the computer in my horizion..  But not tonight...  Sweet dreams everyone!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Art can be humbling...

I was in a business meeting for work last Thursday, when I received an email telling me I had won 'Best Innovative Style Quilt' for Let's Here it for the Girls at the Mancuso, NJ Quilt Fest.  As you can imagine I was ecstatic.  I was sitting in Chicago, but couldn't wait for the weekend, so that I could see my quilt hanging in all it's glory in New Jersey.

Well, I am happy I had those 3 days to bask in my glory.  As always, the show had some phenomenal quilts hanging.  My notification email for the award had said that the judges felt that the competition was extremely tough.  But as I walked the show floor, I was amazed at the talented quilts and the big name quilters who I had gone up against...  oh my.  I didn't even rush to find my quilt.  I decided to take my time and appreciate all the other work, because surely they had made a mistake and I had maybe received Honorable Mention.

One of the reasons I like this show is that the quilts are usually so varied, and this year was no different.  Artsy quilts hung next to traditional, big next to small, hand next to machine...  In all, the workmanship spoke for itself.  These artists put their heart and soul into these pieces... surely, mine won't look as good, or as professional.  I quilt at night, after work, after dinner, after all the other things have been taken care of.  I quilt for me, not for judges...  I experiment with all different types of techniques and yes, sometimes, I say to myself, it is 'good enough', knowing it isn't perfect.

It is funny how all these thoughts rushed through my mind as I walked the floor.  Almost as if I was preparing myself to be disappointed.  And then I saw it.  My quilt...  my ladies, on the dance floor for all to see.  And YES, there was my ribbon as well..  BLUE for first place in a particular category.  As always, I watched the people as they approached.  Almost as expected, their eyes seemed to gravitate to the other 2 pieces handing next to it....  see I was right, it didn't deserve that ribbon....  then all of a sudden, they turned around...  they stopped and looked and took out their cameras.  They noticed the finely tuned bodies of the dancers, the realistic effect of them in front of the back-drop as a result of the trapunto, the 3D flowers that had been scattered across the stage in accolades.  They chatted amongst themselves and read the description and the quilters name.  At that point, I felt it was alright to step forward, to comment that I was the quilter.  They congratulate me and ask questions about the piece. As they walk away, I breath.  Ok, that wasn't so bad.  I survived, I belong....

No this isn't the first time I have won a BLUE ribbon, and no it isn't the first time the competition was tough, but it always seems to amaze me, that others enjoy looking at something that I created, and for that I am humbled.  I quilt because I enjoy it.  It brings me peace.  I think it is wonderful that others get some joy from merely looking at it as well.

For that, I say Thank You!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Playing with my Silhouette Cameo cutter

I tend to doodle a lot.  Some doodles are just that.  Others are more complete.  Some stay on the scrap paper, others get done over and over again.  Some get added to my sketch pad, others go in the garbage.

But this one doodle has been intriguing.  It has made it from the back of an evelope, to a piece of paper, to my sketch pad, to being done again in ink, to being scanned, to being cut on my Cameo.  I am not quite sure it is ready for prime time yet, but I do think I know where I am going with it.  Can't share it just yet, but when it is ready, I'll let you know.

In the meantime...  here are some shots of that innocent doodle along the way...

This is the fist sketch (cleaned up with a lot of eraser) done on the back of an envelope

Next I traced it into my sketchpad...

The Cameo didn't like the glare from the lead in the picture, nor the thickness of the lines.  I kept getting a double cutting line, so to eliminate it, I had to color in the positive space with a permanent marker.

  At this point I was ready to take another picture and import it into the Cameo.  I had already spent over 8 hours trying to get a good clean trace of the circle medallion.  Luckily, there were no issues with the trace this time, so I sent it to the Cameo and prayed....  and it WORKED!...

Neck I have to size it.  This is about 5" and for my idea to work, I don't want it bigger than 4".  But now at least I know what to do.  Oh yeah, I am going to eliminate those tiny inner circles.  My goal is to cut about 20 of these out of felt, and it will never cut those tiny circles cleanly....

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"The Colors of Life"...still riding high!

I have been so focused these last few months on getting new pieces made for my first solo exhibit, that even Christmas didn't seem as important to me this year...  and for those of you who know me, that is big as I am addicted to everything Christmas.  But having my first SOLO show was MAJOR to me, so first let me thank Julie Saviano, the owner of Etui Fiber Arts for her confidence in my work, that she wanted it to hang all alone!  I have been in other gallery shows before, but never has a body of my work hung all by itself.  I was full of mixed emotions...  what would be the reaction, am I kidding myself to think my work is worthy enough to stand all alone..  I was truly going to be standing NAKED on those walls with no other supporting artists to prop me up?

Well as I noted in my last post, I hung my 10 piece show Tuesday night.  Folks in the knitting classes were complimentary, admiring the work as it went up.  Julie told me that over the next few days many commented on how gorgeous they were.  I was still skeptical.  I wanted to be there and watch peoples faces as they looked at each piece.  I could barely contain myself as I waited for the Opening Reception.  As I drove up to the gallery Friday night, I saw some had beat me there (and yes I was early).  I could see them taking pictures... I realized it was my niece and nephew who had driven up from Virginia to show their support during the opening. OK, I can do this, folks cared enough to come.

As the gallery started filling up, I could see the smiles on their faces and in their eyes.  At first I wasn't sure if it was shock or true enjoyment, but as the comments started coming and folks started asking me questions about the pieces, my inspiration and my process, I knew I would be ok.  They liked my work!  I began to relax and enjoy the evening a bit more.  Again I looked around... there was family and friends and fellow quilters, ok, those I had hoped would attend.  But wait, there was one of my high school teachers (yes from almost 40 years ago) whom I had recently reconnected with on Facebook.  There was a college friend, whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years, another follower of my work on Facebook.  But to my surprise, there were folks who I didn't know, who had heard of the show from social media and pictures people had shared on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter about the show.  Pictures that had intrigued them enough, that they came out on a frigid 10 degree night to see MY work. 

So now, 2 days later, I am still riding the high, still feeling elated with the reception my work received.  Still feeling BLESSED that so many would come to see what started as a stress reliever that has grown to be one of my greatest pleasure givers...  the time I sit with my sketchbook, or gaze at fabric wondering what if, or the time I sit at my machine creating.  I truly enjoy the process.  The good news is, I am on a continual journey...  the more I create, the more I learn, the more I want to do.  That in itself is so fulfilling, to be inspired to learn, play and create.

Ok, enough about me.  I know many of you have asked for pictures from the show, so here they are...

Fire Dancer 2015 (30" x 36")

In The Spotlight 2011 (31" x 28")

Let's Here It For The Girls 2015 (51" x 40")

Sea Glass Pathways 2015 (36" x 30")

 Splat * It is All That! 2014 (18" x 30" each piece... can be hung side by side as well as separately)

Swinging Willows 2015 (53" x 31")

Pathways 2013 (3 separate pieces to create a Kimono shape, center is 19" x 30" folded lengthwise, each sleeve is  12" x 15" folded lengthwise)
Knock, I'll Be There For You 2014 (18" x 30")

Paisley Visions 2013 (33" x 33")
Sister Chat 2009 (32" x 27")

The rest are pictures from the Opening Reception and views of the gallery.  Hope you enjoy...

The exhibit is up until January 31st.  I hope you get a chance to see it first hand.  I would love the opportunity to walk you through and share my thoughts on each piece and the 'farm to needle' shop that Julie has created in downtown Larchmont, NY.   If you are interested, just let me know and we can try to coordinate a time.

Euti Fiber Arts is located at 2106 Old Post Road, Larchmont, NY.  Hours are Tues/Wed 10am-5pm; Thurs 10am-9pm; Fri/Sat 10am-4pm; Closed Sun/Mon

Hope to see you there!