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Archive for the ‘Fusing’ Category

Canticle of the Stars

Monday, May 11th, 2020
Canticle of the Stars, or should I call it Anthem of Light? Chime in!
Completed May 2020, 36 tall x 46.5 wide.

There is a thing called star trails photography (just google it…it’s really cool). The earth rotates on its axis. The North Star is static in our northern skies. If you take time lapse photos and then “stack” (merge) them, you get star trails….images that describe the lines created by the light of the stars. Did you know that starlight comes in different colors??? It does… I love the feeling of the vastness of space. When I went to college, I comforted myself knowing that my then-boyfriend and I could both look up at the constellation Orion in the sky even though we would be 3000 miles apart. I love wondering what is out there, and feeling snug and at home in my own world. The universe is Out There and it is Within Us. I love the resulting art quilt. While trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem to go with this quilt:

As many of you know by now, I was selected to be a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador this year. At the start (last December) we received a box STUFFED with goodies (post here). I decided to challenge myself, using items ONLY from this box to make an art quilt in my style, but using fabrics that are totally not in my usual wheel house: commercial solids, prints, and bling. I love the result…in trying to figure out the title (star trails was too boring), I wrote a poem above. Help me decide should the title be Canticle of the Stars? or Anthem of Light? Leave comments and thoughts!

So, how do you make an image that is DARK work successfully as an artwork? In this case, the answer is a lot of quilting with light thread in seven shades from pink to peach to green to blues! Here are the fabrics I used:

The quilt is under the fabrics, with the top visible in the upper half and the backing below. The Michael Miller Fabrics are from left to right: Michael Miller Krystal in Aubergine 1278, Wine 2248, Coal 1302 and 1257 Evergreen. Fairy Frost in Black. Cotton Couture SC5333 in Midnite and Ink. Marble CX1087 in Stone, graphite (or onyx) and night (I think on the denim blue). Michael Miller Jet Black which is part of the Cotton Couture line. I overdyed the green with a navy dye to use as the backing.

The quilting was done entirely on my Janome M7 Continental. The sky was done with the walking foot and the trees was free-motion quilted. It has been eons since I did walking foot quilting…I may do more of it soon! And the threads I used:

It is VERY rare for me to use a walking foot for quilting, but for the sky on this one I did. I used the dark blue So Fine to help hold down the Mistyfused pieces (cut curved, but on the bias so I could adapt their arc) and solid black (I can’t remember if it was the Mettler or So Fine) for the treelike silhouette. The six colors are the star trails in the sky. I used both regular straight stitch and the triple-straight stitch with the walking foot.
Detail, Canticle of the Stars. The edges of the print fabrics are definitely rougher than I am used to with the batiks and hand-dyes I use due to the different thread count, but I think they work because the light edges become another star trail.
And a very close up of the raw edges, some wool lint (sigh…do you know how many times I vacuumed and lint roller this quilt??????) from my pressing surface, and the quilting. The pale green turned into that creamy yellow color when quilted. It’s amazing what thread will do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey to the stars, and back to home on Earth.

Irons: from tiny to dragon!

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

For a while now I’ve wanted to blog about irons, and why I love the ones I have. Yes, plural…..I have SIX! Three are “small” size, two are regular, and one is Sirius the Black Dragon. Yes, my Janome M7 sewing machine is named Albus (the second, he had a predecessor named Albus). There’s even a video at the end of this post about all these irons!

From left to right: the CHI, my beloved Panasonic Titanium Nonstick, the little mushroom style, the (SOB no longer made SOB) Clover, and Sirius, a LauraStar steam generator. I have a sixth sorta small iron, but it is too heavy/awkward for my hands and was upstairs for use steaming in the closet–not that I’ve actually ever used it for that. Sigh.

The Panasonic is my go-to iron for fusing. At 1200 watts, it gets hot and has acceptable steam, although I almost always use it as a dry iron. I love this iron so much I wore the finish off my last one! I always have one that is my working iron, and a brand new spare in the closet in case the cats or I knock it off the ironing board one time too many (studio is in the basement, cement floor…not good for falling objects). I can LITERALLY place this on Mistyfuse or other fusible web, melt it all over the bottom of the iron and WIPE IT CLEAN. No more hot iron cleaner fumes (which cannot be good to inhale–they set off smoke detectors)! For the price of four tubes of iron cleaner, you’re golden. This link takes you to the one I am currently using–I like that it has auto off because I am easily distracted. As of April 2020, it is a whopping US $27. Even if you only use it for fusing, it’s worth it!

I fuse on top of my ironing surface, but also on the design wall. Holding the iron (which is relatively light) had gotten uncomfortable because I have arthritis in my thumbs and wrists. So I tried the little mushroom iron, the ones you see in classrooms and at retreats–many folks can plug them in and not blow the fuses. It is quite comfortable to hold when used on a flat surface, but on the design wall it requires you to bend your wrist, and that hurts for me.

Here I am holding the iron on the design wall, and I have to bend at the wrist which causes discomfort. That’s why I really prefer the…SOB….not longer available Clover iron. Yeah, I’m sorry, I know that doesn’t help you very much. I haven’t included a link for the little mushroom style irons…there are a bazillion available on Amazon, at quilt shops and so on. From what I can tell they are fairly similar.
The Clover iron is ideal for the design wall. The “mug” handle rests on my fingers, and I can see my hand and forearm in a single line–as if I were wearing a brace. That means I can tap it onto the design wall as I work with no pain at all. I don’t know if there are any models similar to this style out there….If ANYONE KNOWS OF SOMETHING SIMILAR, please TELL ME! I’d love to test one out and see if I can recommend it to my students. And if anyone knows someone at Clover that we can all write and beg them to make this again, tell me that, too!
The 1200 watt Panasonic Titanium non-stick iron is on the left, the CHI 1700 watt is on the right, and that glorious fabric is Meadow color of HashDot by Michael Miller Fabrics.

For years I have recommended the Panasonic Titanium nonstick iron to students–Panasonic should give me free irons for life I’ve sold so many for them LOL! But I had (note the past tense) suggested that the gold-ish colored titanium appears to be the key. Not so much. First, my “in the closet” iron-in-waiting is a Panasonic Titanium ordered earlier this year, but is now a silvery color instead of gold-ish, but still works the same. Second, not all Titanium non stick is the same. I decided to give the CHI Titanium Ceramic, below, a try. It costs more, about $59, and has 1700 watts so lots of heat and power and good steam. It’s great for steam ironing, but not so great at the non-stick–it really doesn’t wipe clean the way the Panasonic does. Here’s what happened:

I needed to (yuk) get out the hot iron cleaner. This surface just doesn’t wipe clean well. I use Faultless Iron Off hot iron cleaner on a soft white terry towel. And look what happened: I rubbed off the finish on the gunky edge!!!!!! It’s still a good iron, and I use it, but not for fusing. It has quite a large capacity water reservoir which is good in principle, but again that pesky arthritis poses a problem: it’s heavy. That’s where Sirius the Dragon comes in. Keep reading. ANYway, if you don’t use fusibles (or even if you do) this is a good, hot iron with good steam.
The LauraStar steam generator is a grand indulgence! Please be sure you are sitting down when you see the price on this black beauty…they are expensive. But OH MY! I had been lusting after a steam generator for a long time, but (to repeat myself in a short space) they are expensive. And this is on the expensive end of expensive. But I’m sure glad I indulged–nothing beats a great tool.

The model I purchased is the same as this one (minus the soleplate cleaner, which I wish I had). The steam is IMPRESSIVE…literally, it sends out a jet about six feet….watch the video below! It comes with a cord stand (which I don’t point out in the video. There is the power cord and, wrapped in cloth, the line that powers the iron and brings the steam to it. Unlike a regular steam iron that produces steam constantly (if you set it to do so), you need to push the button, but that is easy to do given the location on the handle.

The steam cord is a bit stiff, which is why having the clamp-on cord guide is so helpful. You also get a silicone mat so you don’t have to tip the iron on end, just set it on top of the mat. That is comfortable for my arthritis. So is the light weight of the actual iron. AND you can steam things that hang, like curtains and garments!

When I have a lot of ironing (like yards of dyed fabric, or just washed fabric), the steam generator is a DREAM. Also excellent when doing a final fusing of the finished art quilt top and when blocking a quilt. Many steam generators if the tank runs dry, you have to turn it off, wait for it to cool, then add water. Not so this one–just open the lid to the easily accessed tank and add water (shown in video). BINGO! WINNER! Just be sure not to send a blast of steam in the direction of your other hand. Guess you don’t need to ask why I advise you of that. Ahem. Only did it once! If you are also a garment maker, you’ll love this. I will grant you, it is *expensive.* But in my case, worth it.

Bottom line: I use the Panasonic for all fusing. For smaller ironing jobs, I use the CHI. For working on the design wall, I use the Clover. And when I need STEAM or have a lot of ironing to do, the LauraStar. So there you have it…why I ned at least FOUR irons! What are your favorites, and why?

Check box! TWO Ribbons!!!!!

Friday, February 28th, 2020
for Lupines and Rose Hip

And yes, I meant every single one of those excessive exclamation points. Usually I’m lucky to get two out of two quilts juried in to a given show. This time, not only did both Lupines and Rose Hip get in to the Mancuso Brother’s Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, they BOTH RIBBONED!!!!!! That is a bucket list item that I never, ever, Ever, EVER expected to check off! Guess what…done! To the judges: THANK YOU for making a dream come true!

Rose Hip, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2019. 36″ square. This quilt won Best Use of Color in the Wall Quilts division at the show. One of my favorite quilts, in part because it is of my beloved Maine, but also because I’ve been able to meld my personal hand dyes, a hand dye by Lisa Walton, fabrics printed and over-painted by me, to create a cohesive image.

I’ve never won a prize such as Best Use of Color at a national level show, so I am particularly pleased–my work is about color, and then about the quilting. Next August 5-7 I’m going to be teaching a three-day workshop, Exploring Paint on Cloth, at ProChemical and Dye in Fall River, Massachusetts. I’ll be sharing the techniques I used in both of these quilts in that workshop and hope some of you can join me! Details in the hotlink. I’m deep in the planning for the specifics of what we can do in three days and getting so psyched for it!

Lupines won Third in Wall Quilts…given the quality of the quilts I am surprised, delighted, honored…. there are some mighty fine quilts in this show! And once again, to the judges: THANK YOU for making a dream come true!

The Quilt Show with … me(OMG!) … is live! Episode 2508

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Bucket list item: appear on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims: CHECK! Here’s the link to watch if you are a member. If you couldn’t tell, I’m giddy!

Sarah Ann Smith on The Quilt Show https://thequiltshow.com/component/allvideoshare/video/show-2508-sarah-ann-smith
Just took this screen shot as I’m watching my first of two “doing” segments on The Quilt Show….I’m over the moon!

To watch the show, you usually need to be a member of The Quilt Show community, which is an online “TV” show and so much more. Next Sunday, for one week from October 13-20, 2019, or thereabouts, the episode will be FREE to anyone with the code. I’ll post here on my blog, Facebook and Instagram. I might even post my first tweet (Shudder!)…. so stay tuned.

For those who aren’t TQS members, you can see the preview now, at this link.

I am so grateful for this opportunity, so excited, and hope some of you can join me in my classes at International Quilt Festival 2019 in Houston (there are still a few spaces in my Friday class, Tame Fussy Fiddly Threads which includes painting and learning to handle those glitzy threads that really aren’t hard to use once you learn how from me, and my Saturday class on Hawaiian Style appliqué…did you know I love it?)

Join my 3-day workshop playing with paint on cloth at ProChem in Fall River, Mass., in August 2020, to spend time learning what I’m demonstrating in my first segment on The Quilt Show. You can sign up now by going here https://prochemicalanddye.net/workshops/exploring-paint-on-cloth-smith-august-2020.html

And one more time……SQUEEEEE!

I’m on The Quilt Show #2508

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

WOOT! Check an item off the Bucket List!!! I will be on The Quilt Show (TQS) with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson as of October 6th! The promo video went live last night, and you can see it right here! Members of TQS will be able to see the show starting the 6th, but for non-members, there is ONE week where you will be able to view it for FREE from October 13-20, 2019. Of course I’ll post this again, but here is the link to use–remember, the link won’t work to view the show until the 13th. I share my quilts, my crazy “previous life,” and using paints and other tricks on my art quilts. And to those of you who are new to my website, please use the sign ups in the right sidebar to subscribe to the blog and/or to my newsletter. Thanks and enjoy!

To say that I am delighted is an understatement! Here are some photos from taping in April. My show is #2508, so click this link to take you directly to that show. Remember you do have to be a member of The Quilt Show to view it unless you are watching during the one week it is free to all.

I surprised Ricky and Alex (and Justin and John) with special TQS Logo aprons for use on the set, made with thermofax screens I did up special for them. And yes, I gave them the screens, too! Thanks to Producers Shelly Heesacker and Lilo Bowman for helping me pull off this surprise. Thanks to Adele Merrell for this and the other shots …. they are perfectamundo!
On the set with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims (and Mary Kay’s hands LOL) going over my next segment — this is where I explain how I thread color my work.
Seeing the production room was so cool…it was so professional…look at all those displays, about six people working at desks, with headsets to communicate with the crew on the set about positioning lights, cameras and whatnot.
And here I am with the four principals, with aprons in their favorite colors. Left to right Justin Schults, Alex Anderson, me, Ricky Tims, and John Anderson.

The Quilt Show likes to say that Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims bring you the friendliest interactive online community for quilters worldwide. Join today to learn, share create, connect and watch Alex and Ricky in brand new episodes of The Quilt Show! As you saw in the promo video, I joined on Day One when TQS launched many years ago. I am so glad to now be a part of the TQS family–THANK YOU!