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!