Two of Us: published again in Inspired by the Beatles

October 24th, 2014

Looking back on it, this has been an exceptionally good year for getting published!   It has also been a bit of a challenge as I’ve had to keep three quilts and one watercolor unpublished for an extended time while jurying of exhibits was done or waiting for books to be published.  The first of the quilts was the one of Eli running during Cross Country season, which I wrote about here.   This is the second:  Two of Us,

Two of Us, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  Part of the Inspired by the Beatles challenge and an anniversary gift for my husband of 33+ years.

Two of Us, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014. Part of the Inspired by the Beatles challenge and an anniversary gift for my husband of 33+ years.  Of course, as soon as I gave it to him (late) I then told him he had to give it back for two years because it was going in an exhibit and book!

part of the art quilt challenge organized by Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto.  The recently released book is Inspired by the Beatles:  An Art Quilt Challenge.   You can read more about the challenge here and order the book or read more about it here.  Even better, if you are lucky enough to be going to International Quilt Festival in Houston this year, selected works from the exhibit will be on display there, including mine!

Donna asked participants to choose a Beatles song title, then make a quilt with that same title, inspired by the song perhaps, but careful NOT to use any copyrighted lyrics, images, etc.   I had been wanting to make a quilt like this for Paul as an anniversary gift for a couple years–he is notoriously hard to get gifts as he always says he doesn’t want anything.  I wanted a scrapbook feel to this quilt, similar in some ways to the kimono quilt (you can see it here) that is pictured in one of the photos on the bottom right which I gave to Mother for her 80th birthday.

Detail of Two of Us, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.

Detail of Two of Us, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.  These photos include the only two grandparents who were alive for  the boys to know, Paul’s dad and my mom.

I went through our photo albums and boxes of photos, picking pictures of us from the time we met until just recently.  Beginning in the top left corner, you can see photos of Bissau, in the west African nation of Guinea-Bissau, where I met Paul.  A bit of our wedding invitation, a wedding photo, our home on Capitol Hill in DC, from Canada, Bolivia, Machu Picchu, Gabon and our first generation of cats run across the top.  Moving clockwise down the right you can see our home in Arlington, Virginia (I still love this architecture more than any other home we’ve had), me preggers with Joshua, with the boys when they were little, pregnant with Eli, in the hospital when Eli was just a day old then the first ferry ride home, to our home on San Juan island in the bottom right corner.

Moving right to left on the bottom, pictures of the boys when little and life at home.  And up the left side, the boys as they grew,  moving to Maine, Joshua with his beloved guitar (and boy is he GOOD) and Eli, honor student and exceptional athlete.  Can I just say, Life is GOOD!

Here's to book, a 176 page hard-bound whopper.  Each quilt gets its own page (some get two), with a fun and extensive commentary written by Donna from our replies to her questionnaire that tell about our lives, inspiration and methods.  Click on the links in the first paragraph to learn more.

Here’s to book, a 176 page hard-bound whopper. Each quilt gets its own page (some get two), with a fun and extensive commentary written by Donna from our replies to her questionnaire that tell about our lives, inspiration and methods. Click on the links in the first paragraph to learn more.

The quilt is made with fused collage.  For the house, Paul, the pug and me, I sketched us on white cloth with colored pencils.  I hate to admit but since I made this over a year ago, I don’t recall for use WHICH pencils I used–either Prismacolor or Inktense.  I have since learned that some of the Inktense colors are not colorfast, so I HOPE it was prismacolor!  Total finished size, as required for all quilts in this exhibit, is 24×24 inches.

This is a typical two-page spread.  The book is organized alphabetically by title.

This is a typical two-page spread. The book is organized alphabetically by title.

And a shot of "my" page!  Artwork (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

And a shot of “my” page! Artwork (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

And since we are quilters, I must show you the back.  I did the threadwork at the top stage and did simple outlining around the photos.  But it is the letter and photo I want you to notice:

Paul and me on our wedding day outside the church, and a photocopy of the very first letter Paul ever wrote me.  Yes, we wrote snail mail.

Paul and me on our wedding day outside the church, and a photocopy of the very first letter Paul ever wrote me. Yes, we wrote snail mail.

You see, Paul was working in West Africa and I was in grad school at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy near Boston when we met.  The letter is hilariously “State Department-ish.”  Paul was acting Ambassador (Charge d’Affairs, ad interim) for the first time, so for his first letter to me, he wrote to thank the American (me)  for her part in improving morale at post, in particular that of the admin officer (that would be Paul).  Then he added a note saying this would probably be suitably framed in something tacky and hung in the bathroom.  I vowed upon receipt to do just that–in his first apartment when he was back in the US.  Little did I know that in less than 10 months, his first apartment would be OUR condo as newlyweds.  The original letter still hangs in a tacky metal frame from the drug store (which is sorta falling apart, appropriately), over the toilet in our bathroom.  The signature on the letter has faded to near invisibility.

So that’s the “Two of Us.”  Plus kids, cats, pug, and assorted stuff from all over the world.

England 2014, Friday Aug. 15: Sutton Hoo!!!!!

October 21st, 2014
From a staff, at Sutton Hoo Burial Ground, near Woodbridge, Sussex, England

From a staff, at Sutton Hoo Burial Ground, near Woodbridge, Sussex, England

Back in 1978, I saw the Sutton Hoo artifacts at the British Museum for the first time.  And I NEVER forgot them.  The incredible artistry in the gold and silver works was stunning, especially because they were made in circa 625 a.d.   Seeing them again so many years later, they are still astounding.   As I mentioned in this post, which has lots of photos, you can see them at the museum and go to the burial grounds now (the lands were not public back in 1978).

This post is about our visit to Sutton Hoo Burial grounds.

Eli and I arrived before the facililty opened, but after the grounds opened.  Owned by the National Trust, families may come and visit, picnic, hike the grounds.  So we did!  This photo is shortly after we began our walk looking at Woodbridge in the distance, just across the river.  Think of rivers as the interstate highways of the days of yore--if you wanted to get some place in a hurry, going by water rather than overland was the way to do it.  It's only a few miles up hill from the river to this place.

Eli and I arrived before the facililty opened, but after the grounds opened. Owned by the National Trust, families may come and visit, picnic, hike the grounds. So we did! This photo is shortly after we began our walk looking at Woodbridge in the distance, just across the river. Think of rivers as the interstate highways of the days of yore–if you wanted to get some place in a hurry, going by water rather than overland was the way to do it. It’s only a few miles up hill from the river to this place.

On the way to the path in the photo above, we passed a playground for families with squirrelly kids who need to burn off some energy.  This includes 16 year olds .  As we found ourselves saying across England, isn't this a great playground, gosh this would never exist in the US because somebody would sue somebody else if a kid got a skinned knee.  Imagine, a zipline (low down obviously) in a playground!

On the way to the path in the photo above, we passed a playground for families with squirrelly kids who need to burn off some energy. This includes 16 year olds . As we found ourselves saying across England, isn’t this a great playground, gosh this would never exist in the US because somebody would sue somebody else if a kid got a skinned knee. Imagine, a zipline (low down obviously) in a playground!

There were blackberries and these in abundance.  Eli and I snarfed quite a few blackberries, reminiscing about San Juan Island.   I think these are currants, but wasn't sure so we didn't test taste any.  Great art inspiration though.

There were blackberries and these berries in abundance. Eli and I snarfed quite a few blackberries, reminiscing about San Juan Island. I think these are currants, but wasn’t sure so we didn’t test taste any. Great art inspiration though.

Trees.  England does trees.  BIG trees.  Majestic trees.  Trees made for climbing.  Eli is a climber.  By 6 months of age he could clamber out of his high chair, climb into his high chair, in and out of his crib by 18 months (hence the early switch to a bed with guard rail).

Trees. England does trees. BIG trees. Majestic trees. Trees made for climbing. Eli is a climber. By 6 months of age he could clamber out of his high chair, climb into his high chair, in and out of his crib by 18 months (hence the early switch to a bed with guard rail).   Keep in mind it would take multiple adults to hold hands and hug this tree, that’s how big it is.

Now look UP.  Waaaaaay Up.  Yep, that's my boy!

Now look UP. Waaaaaay Up. Yep, that’s my boy!  He is 5’9″ tall, so he’s WAY UP.  I did not pass out from holding my breath.  Barely.  I have this irrational fear of falling which extends to my kids, too.  But Eli LOVED it!

On the walk, we passed a farm and these awesome four-horned sheep, which someone on Facebook (where I posted some of the pics during the trip) told me these are Jacob's sheep.  Cool!  More inspiration.

On the walk, we passed a farm and these awesome four-horned sheep, which someone on Facebook (where I posted some of the pics during the trip) told me these are Jacob’s sheep. Cool! More inspiration.

At last, time to go in to the facilities, then go on our walk of the grounds.

At last, time to go in to the Sutton Hoo facilities, then go on our walk of the grounds.

And wouldn't you know it...opposite the register/till where you pay your entry fees, a quilt!  WOOT!

And wouldn’t you know it…opposite the register/till where you pay your entry fees, a quilt! WOOT!  Wish I knew who made this.  If anyone knows, please tell me and I’ll add the information!

I bought a book about the site which has this photo that shows some of the area that was excavated.  Burial mounds were subject to frequent raiding over the centuries and many of the magnificent artifacts were looted.

I bought a book about the site which has this photo that shows some of the area that was excavated. Burial mounds were subject to frequent raiding over the centuries and many of the magnificent artifacts were looted.

A burial ship being excavated.  The burial mound that was source of the most stunning Sutton Hoo artifacts, however, had partially collapsed, so the grave robbers missed the center point (where the good stuff is usually buried with the deceased).  That meant it was STILL THERE, and now lives in the British Museum.

A burial ship being excavated back in the 30s. The burial mound that was source of the most stunning Sutton Hoo artifacts, however, had partially collapsed, so the grave robbers missed the center point (where the good stuff is usually buried with the deceased). That meant it was STILL THERE, and now lives in the British Museum.

I took about a thousand (well, maybe a hundred) photos in the exhibit area, and as many as I could manage while we had our tour of the mounds. This was the only day it rained, and it POURED.  The heavens opened.  We got rather wet despite having good rain gear.  But it was still cool!

Here are some of the artifacts of a horse bridle at the Sutton Hoo facility.   Other items at the facility are reproductions, as the British Museum has a huge building and massive security for the gold works.

Here are some of the artifacts of a horse bridle at the Sutton Hoo facility. Other items at the facility are reproductions, as the British Museum has a huge building and massive security for the gold works.

A closer iew of the goldwork.  Aren't those designs amazing?

A closer view of the goldwork. Aren’t those designs amazing?

Our guide and some of the mounds in the burial grounds.

Our guide and some of the mounds in the burial grounds.  In this photo we are standing atop the mound where the most stunning artifacts were found.

And Eli on the left, daypack under the jacket, walking back to the exhibits area.

And Eli on the left, daypack under the jacket, walking back to the exhibits area.  A dream of 15 years to visit here, since I heard the public could finally get access.  Contended sigh.

And that photo up at the top, here's the staff/sceptre.   Incredible!

And that photo up at the top, here’s the staff/sceptre. Incredible!

Here's the Woodbridge train station that afternoon, where we began our 4 hour journey (three trains) to York.

Here’s the Woodbridge train station that afternoon, where we began our 4 hour journey (three trains) to York.

More design inspiration in the supports at the train stations.

More design inspiration in the supports at the train stations.  A thermofax screen perhaps?

At the YHA (Youth Hostel Assn.) York Hostel, my first ever Pimm's.   It will NOT be my last:  cucumber, strawberries, 7 Up, Pimm's, citrus over ice.   Summer perfection.

At the YHA (Youth Hostel Assn.) York Hostel, my first ever Pimm’s. It will NOT be my last: cucumber, strawberries, 7 Up, Pimm’s, citrus over ice. Summer perfection.

Next up on the England trip, York!   But quilty goodies in between, too.   Stay tuned!

Interweave DVDs on sale for 2 days, including mine

October 20th, 2014

Hey…if you want to start Christmas shopping early, head over to Interweave.  Just got an email that stuff is ON SALE for two days only.   Price on my dvd is less than wholesale plus postage!  AND you can get 3 video downloads for only $35….use the link below to get there.

The cover (back and front) of my DVD, Art Quilt Design From Photo to Threadwork, with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting.  Order the DVD from me here, or the download and DVD from Quilting Arts/Interweave here.

The cover (back and front) of my DVD, Art Quilt Design From Photo to Threadwork, with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting. Order the DVD from me here, or the download and DVD from Quilting Arts/Interweave here.  Here’s the link to my DVD.

Save up to 60% during the Flash Sale at Interweave

The most beautiful place on Earth

October 18th, 2014

Yesterday evening, I dropped Eli off at a teammate’s home for the weekly Cross Country team potluck Spaghetti dinner.  The house is on Appleton Ridge Road, which has some of the most stunning views in the area, so I took the scenic route home.  Then today, on a quest for small halogen bulbs for our under counter kitchen lights, I took the back road–Barnestown to Gillette to Hope Roads to route 17.   OH MY… I truly live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and this is the finest example of autumn in the decade we have called Maine home.   Enjoy (and tell me you don’t want to grab paint and dye and play).  Click on photos to view larger.:

on Hope Road in south Hope, Maine.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

on Hope Road in south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith.  The colorful foreground is wild blueberry barrens.  Rockport in the background.

Friday evening on Appleton Ridge Road in Appleton/Washington, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Friday evening on Appleton Ridge Road in Appleton/Washington, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking west from Appleton Ridge Road at sunset.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking west from Appleton Ridge Road at sunset. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Sumac at Barnestown and Gillette roads, Hope, Maine.

Sumac at Barnestown and Gillette roads, Hope, Maine.

From Gillette Road in south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

From Hope Road in south Hope, Maine, looking back towards Gillette Road.  I am pretty sure this is the back side of Ragged Mountain. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

South Hope, Maine.  There is a trail head near here and I keep promising myself I'm going to go hiking there.  Maybe early this week as a treat?

South Hope, Maine. There is a trail head near here and I keep promising myself I’m going to go hiking there. Maybe early this week as a treat?

Tree and wild blueberry barrens on Hope Road, south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Tree and wild blueberry barrens on Hope Road, south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking towards Rockport from Hope Road, Hope, Maine.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking towards Rockport from Hope Road, Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Hatvhet Mountain as seen from in front of the Hope General Store.  Hope, Maine.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Hatchet Mountain as seen from in front of the Hope General Store. Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Sure wish I’d had my good camera with me, but thank heavens for the iPhone Camera!

Intentional Printing by Lynn Krawczyk and giveaway!

October 16th, 2014

The drawing is concluded.  Any comments left now (after 5 pm Saturday) will be appreciated but won’t be in the drawing.  The lucky winner (chosen by a random number generator on the internet) is comment number 16, Sylvia!  I’ll email you directly.

Sometimes the right book comes along at the right time.  For me, Intentional Printing by Lynn Krawczyk was that book. Lynn is funny (love her Facebook posts), creative and has been able in her book to get me (and hopefully you) to just “fling some paint” and have fun making cloth you will actually USE.  So I’m going to tell you a bit about her book.  Then I’m going to send you over to her website and blog:  if you’d like to win a copy of her book, comment here by 5 pm East Coast Time on Saturday, October 18th (that’s SOON), and tell me something that you liked about her website and/or blog.   Here’s her site, Smudged Textiles Studio and her blog.  Read on!

Lynn Krawczyk's Intentional Printing

Lynn Krawczyk’s Intentional Printing.  Here’s a link to Lynn’s website page about her book, complete with a fun video of her telling you about the book and showing her printed cloth.

For years now I’ve been buying books about dyeing fabric and surface design, yet I do precious little (almost no) surface design in my own work.  So WHY do I keep buying the books?  There must be some deep desire to make my own cloth in a way that goes beyond dyeing fabric.  Many of the books I’ve purchased are intimidating:  so much to do, so many options, too many supplies, too much set up and clean up time.

With Lynn’s book, which is about paint (not dye),  all of a sudden I got up and started DOING.  No fuss, perhaps some mess (the fun kind), and productive work that has got me to develop a whole new workshop that combines the best parts of a class I used to teach (and eliminated because I hated teaching the other parts of the class) with Lynn’s approach to paint on cloth.

Lynn discovered that the pieces she made just didn’t quite work, didn’t fit what she wanted to do.  So she figured out how she could work to create pieces she wanted to use, was inspired to use, while keeping the spontaneity of the process intact.   The chapters of the book are:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1:  Exploring Intentional Printing
  • Chapter 2:  Tools and Materials
  • Chapter 3:  Fabric Printing Techniques
  • Chapter 4:  Handstitching
  • Chapter 5:  Layered Printing
  • Chapter 6:  The Projects
  • Templates
  • Acknowledgments, Resources and Index

Inspired by this book, I worked up two pieces that you’ve seen recently on this blog, The Nest and my X and O (Hugs and Kisses?) pieces that I’ll be teaching in the Fiber on a Whim Booth at International Quilt Festival in a mere two weeks!   Here’s a link to more information about my mini-class and to my thermofax screens blogpost (and to Fiber on a Whim where you can ORDER those screens!)   Once you see the inside of the book, you’ll see Lynn’s X and O piece, which must have been in my subconscious when I made mine!

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

And some art cloth--this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style.  I wanted to have something totally "not me" though so that students get to try both representational and not!

And some art cloth–this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style. I wanted to have something totally “not me” though so that students get to try both representational and not!

What I really liked was that Lynn’s approach can work for the way I use fabric.  So many of the surface design books are by people for whom the fabric and the process are the be-all and end-all.  Once the cloth is done, no more needs to be done.  But I don’t like abstract stuff very much, and I don’t think the cloth is the artwork (for me! if it is for you, that’s great, but it’s not what I want to do), it is something that goes into creating the art.  With Lynn’s book, the cloth can be the goal and the finished product, OR it can be a component that goes in to the artwork.

In The Nest, for example, I used a couple techniques Lynn covers in creating the background fabric, the nest, and the eggs.    In a quilt that I will share with you next week, Insalata, I dyed the fabric for the background but it just wasn’t quite enough.  So I used paint and a couple stencils to create background texture that got the fabric from “pretty good” to “just right.”  That’s exactly what Lynn’s book is about:  getting the fabric you need for the idea in your head / the project you want to make.

For novices to surface design, this book is a great start.  For folks like me who have tried it some but just weren’t jazzed, this book is a great way to help focus random flinging of paint into a process that will give you something with which to create (instead of a pile of “what am I going to do with that now?” cloth).  HIGHLY Recommended!

So if you want to WIN A COPY, here’s what to do:  go to Lynn’s website and blog,  Then come back here and  leave a comment  by 5 pm East Coast Time on Saturday, October 18th (that’s SOON), and tell me something that you liked about her website and/or blog.   Here’s her site, Smudged Textiles Studio and her blog.  I’ll post the winner probably on Sunday–Eli has a Cross Country meet that will last all day Saturday.   ENJOY!

And thank you Lynn for offering a copy of your book…I LOVE IT!