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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Website Makeover! Please VISIT : )

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Those of you who have surfed into my blog over the past two weeks or so will have noticed a completely new look to my site. Thanks to Derry Thompson of GloDerWorks and inspiration from several top art quilters with great sites, I think Derry and I have come up with a gorgeous new site–my first complete makeover since creating the site in 2004. I am responsible for (guilty!) the visuals, and Derry has done all the brilliant work behind the scenes to bring my vision for my site to life.

I still have a LOT of work on my end: thanks to the vast changes in the internet since 2004, I pretty much need to re-do ALL of my photos for larger size and crisper photos. Thankfully, I have a better camera, a tripod, lighting, and better skills at both photos and Photoshop so the image looks most like the real quilt. But I didn’t want to wait for months before sharing the “New Look” with all of you. Stay tuned as I update one gallery at a time.

Here is the Nature Gallery: just click on an image. That will open a filmstrip that allows you to scroll through larger images. One more click will then take you to details about each artwork.

Some of my favorite new things:

  • The clean look
  • The colors (I gave Derry a specific palette of colors)
  • The font (Josefin Slab and Josefin Sans)–now updating all handouts etc, too!
  • The multiple ways to navigate the images: gallery, filmstrip, arrows on the sides
  • The FOLLOW social media buttons (square) at top right
  • The SHARE social media buttons (rounded)
  • The BIG IMAGES!
This is the filmstrip view–thumbnails at a glance (love the way Derry made them top justified–makes it so neat and nice!), click on the image you want or use the arrow to scroll in either direction.

My inspiration came from many sites:

  • Jane Dunnewold‘s clean look to her site is a breath of fresh air. I love the font, but decided to go my own route. My green is similar to hers…one that I use in much of my art
  • Hollis Chatelain’s Gallery layout is wonderful, not to mention that she has been an inspiration to me for nigh on to two decades now.
  • Sue Benner’s crisp, clean site with crisp, clean color makes my heart go thumpety thump. I love the photos of her on her About page, down on the floor with the iron (been there, do that). I thought about an entire page for my Instagram feed, as on her Connect page, but opted for just the most recent IG image at the footer of everything but the blog.
  • Deidre Adams way of watermarking consistently on her images–more PhotoShop work for me but worth it!
  • And many thanks to Holly Knott for creating the SVG file for my signature, which is used in the header as well as on labeling (my paint kits for example). Someday I will learn Illustrator and InDesign, but Holly’s prices are so reasonable and she was so fast (same afternoon!) it would’ve been crazy not to use her skills. Holly has a brilliant page about photographing your quilts, Shoot That Quilt, and also designs websites.
Look at the detail you can see! Scroll down to see the info (see image below)
And lower down on the individual artwork page

Endless thanks to the long hard work Derry put in creating this site so that it is JUST PERFECT, beautiful, and works well. I am pretty much an “I do it all myself” business….except I made a smart decision in 2003: to go with Gloria Hansen and Derry Thompson to design and host my site. I have learned so much since 2003, a lot from these two. I never have to worry if a glitch happens, Derry fixes it. I actually scold him for answering late at night and on weekends: dude, you need to take some time off! Hoisting a pint to you!

Thanks for looking and reading this far….I hope you enjoy the new site!

Lamps, Before and After

Friday, August 30th, 2019
From old to fabulous! Look what a little spray paint, thermofax screens and textile paint, linen and ingenuity can do! Yes, those are the SAME fixtures!

The sconces in our house have made me crazy for years. The shades were made to fit on the old rounded incandescent bulbs…the ones you can’t find any more. The wires didn’t fit well on any of the smaller bulbs that suited the size of the shades and the fixtures–they were always tilting and crooked. And the “old West” look was SO not me! It was Candy Glendenning of Candied Fabrics who got me on the right track. Last year, Candy posted some lamps and shades she made using her wonderful indigo shibori fabric and blogged about them here and here. So I plotted and thought about it. I knew I wanted white, green paint mixed to my favorite shade, my own thermofax screens, and NOT black.

Here are the final shades, then I’ll share the process:

Left to right: Queen Anne’s Lace, Birches, Grasses, and Milkweed

First thing I needed to do was see if I could spray paint the fixtures. Before we moved into the house, one had been damaged and removed (but kept in the basement). I bought some Rustoleum in Satin Nickel and it worked! I didn’t even have to sand!

I was delighted at how good the fixtures looked as Not Black. Once they were on the ground, I also realized I could turn the fixtures upside down and that fluted frill on the bottom looked sort of like a Japanese temple roof line. Sort of. But at least better than as a candle holder!

I had planned on using a cotton-linen blend for the shades, but when I went to Fiddlehead Artisan Supply (quilt and art shop to die for and only a half hour away!) they were temporarily out of the blend, so I bought some coarser weave pure linen to try. Then I started searching out stuff to make new shades, starting with Candy’s source, I Like That Lamp website. I ordered the styrene–the rigid stuff to which you adhere the fabric–and glue from that site, but her rings only go down to 8″, and I wanted a 6″ for my sconces in the hallways. I found some 6″ size here, on Etsy.

Next, I needed to see how the linen would print. Using my existing printing board, the prints were blobby–the surface had too much squish in it for the somewhat more open weave of the linen (as compared to quilting cottons). So I made a new printing board with less padding, and learned that using paper towels under the linen did not affect the quality of the print and prevented less of the ink from soaking in to my new board.

Mess-making in process. I used ProChemical and Dye Opaque and Transparent textile paints. I sell some sets in my store (just scroll down) plus you can buy larger quantities and more colors directly from ProChem.
The screen/design for grasses is new and I can tell I will use it often. I cut my linen into lengths from selvage to selvage, then marked how long I needed with a pin. If I goofed, I could keep printing and avoid an oops spot.
The Milkweed thermofax screens used in the upper left piece I had already made, but the others are new. All are drawn, not a manipulated photo (which is another process I use). So far I am only selling the milkweed screens (here), but if anyone is interested in the others let me know.
At least in my universe, printing always involves an oops and some “letting it go”, but I did end up re-doing the grasses because I had printed them too high on the strip–the bottom of the blades of grass needed to be at the bottom edge of the lamp. I also made some real mistakes on the Queen Anne’s lace, so re-did them, too. But I will use the not-bad parts of those for something else!
I Like That Lamp website has some excellent tutorials. Instead of using binder clips, I used Wonder Clips the same way and they worked beautifully. I did have some fuss and bother getting the glue to hold as I wrapped the edges around the wire rings, probably because the glue oozed out between the weave. However, once set, you’d never know. They look well done if I do say so myself.
Because my fixtures are OLD, and I didn’t want to have them as candles with the ring sliding down around the tube to rest on the metal, I needed to get creative with how I would suspend the shades. Wire!
It’s not the prettiest solution, but it works. And it doesn’t show, best of all. Because the wire fitter is recessed down below the top of the shade, the wires that hold the shade to the fixture are hidden (unless you are really, really tall). Those tails were wrapped around the spider-legs of the ring.
The Queen Anne’s Lace is in our bedroom.
The birch trees are in the back part of the hallway, in the “Rogue’s Gallery” (aka family photo wall)
The milkweed is in the front portion of the hallway, with Eli’s middle school art project underneath and a pour painting by my friend Deidre Murphy on the right.
The simplest is perhaps my favorite and is the sconce we see from the living room, the waving grasses. When we first moved into the house there were shrubs that grew up and blocked the view out the windows at the far end–not great. But in the afternoon light they cast lovely shadows on that wall, which inspired me to make this shade.

Some good news: in August 2020 I will be teaching a 3-day surface design workshop at ProChemical and Dye in Fall River, Mass. (about an hour or 90 minutes south of Boston, minutes from Rhode Island) and we will cover the thermofax and paint technique.

The whole thing worked SO WELL that I am thinking I would like to make a set of seasonal shades for the floor lamp in the living room…one for Christmas/Winter, another for Spring, Summer and Autumn. I need to do some patterning as this lamp looks best with an angled shade, not a drum shade, and they are harder to make. I need to learn if I can do it with standard 44″ wide fabric given the flare on the shade. Stay tuned for more house fix-ups! Hope you’ve enjoyed this detour from the usual art quilts and family life.

Quoted in Quilting Arts Issue #100

Monday, July 8th, 2019

I’m thrilled, touched and honored to be quoted in the Centennial Issue of Quilting Arts magazine! First though, CONGRATULATIONS to founding editor and publisher Pokey Bolton for starting a classic, congratulations to current editor Vivika Hansen DeNegre and the entire QA team (including alumni members among others Kristine Lundblad, Cate Coulacos Prato, and Helen Gregory) at QA for what you have collectively created and given to all of us. The two-page spread on pages 86-87 of all 100 magazine covers gives me goosebumps: it is still on my dream bucket list to make the cover of QA — I came close once, was one of the top two choices, so I will strive! It’s good to reach for the stars–even if you don’t ever make it, you’ll enjoy the journey.

The current issue of Quilting Arts magazine, issue #100!

When QA began, I was living on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington state. I was in King’s, one of the two main grocery stores on the island, and by mainland standards a pretty small store. It was the only store on the island to stock magazines, which I was browsing. I picked up Issue Number 2 of something called Quilting Arts, and the rest is history! I ordered issue #1 so I have every. single. issue!

A while back editor Vivika Hansen deNegre wrote many of us who have contributed to the magazine over the years (I KNOW… Me???? How lucky am I to have been published so many times?) to ask for quotes that might or might not be used. I was THRILLED when she said it looked like my quote would make it into the magazine, and indeed it did. Check it out on page 55!

I’ve blurred out most of the page…you’ll have to find a real copy, but left my bit un-blurred. But honestly, go find a copy and enjoy the whole thing!

When I got home, before I had even read the entire issue, I picked up the phone to subscribe. That was the first time I ever spoke to Pokey, and learned that she had attended San Domenico School in grade school, my beloved Alma Mater, and grew up in Marin County, California, where I did! She’s a good bit younger than I am, but what fun–and when I won a second prize at International Quilt Festival Houston in the Art Quilts Miniature category, it was sponsored by QA and Pokey presented the prize to me. What memories.

So THANK YOU QUILTING ARTS, and you betcha I’m shouting. Thank you for the opportunities you have given to me, including my own video workshop! (available here as a download), the opportunities and inspiration and learning you have given to legions. Here’s to issue #200!

On Creativity

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Always more to learn. And Omahi’s absolutely right about equipment vs. imagination (link in caption). Sometimes the true creativity comes from figuring out how to make your vision come to like with the materials and skills you already have . . . No excuses! Plus, the Guy has good Photoshop skills with fire!

https://mymodernmet.com/omahi-behind-the-scenes-photos/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_term=2019-04-30

The Quilt Show–Sarah’s Episode!

Friday, April 12th, 2019

What a delight it was to be invited to tape a show for the Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson online “tv” show, The Quilt Show (TQS)! In the past I have taped for two seasons of Quilting Arts TV (on PBS) and did a video workshop for Interweave (Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork, available as a download), but TQS is on a whole other level of professionalism. It was filmed in the Comcast center near Denver…as you walked by the main office there was an entire cabinet of awards including a few Golden Globes! And to get it up front: THANK YOU ADELE Merrell for all these great photos and Gayle Schliemann from Bernina for a bunch more!

Intro segment with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims…yes, they color coordinate their tops with the guest’s outfit! My dress is a Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 9112
I was so excited that I was able to pull off my surprise gifts for Alex, Ricky, John and Justin: custom TQS aprons made with a thermofax screen I made for them (with behind the scenes help from Producer Shelly to help with a graphic and favorite colors for them).
After the intro we got together and everyone modeled their custom TQS aprons. Sorry folks, there are only four of these that exist, but I’m delighted they are already using them with other guests. I bought all cotton colored aprons on Amazon (where else?). If you like the milkweed design on mine, I am selling my custom screens on my website for a limited time (maybe six to 12 months) so you could make your own!
There are two guests taped each day–I had Saturday morning. They hang the quilts first as all the other prep begins, and well before the audience comes in. The lighting is SUPERB…both of the guests and the quilts. There are light colored walls behind the seat walls with bounce diffuser lights that reflect off the exterior studio walls to create a smooth even light, then each quilt has a spot…there wasn’t a single “hot spot” or deep dark area (unless it was intentional)

And a panorama shot…the detail isn’t great because of the re-sizing I had to do for the blog, but I am standing in the center of the audience area. There were four large quilts including this year’s BOM, Sizzle, then the door to the Green Room, a monitor, the areas of the set from the “brick” wall, seating area, gallery space. The big tables are all on rollers as is the longarm and Q20 so everything can be moved easily for each segment. Another monitor on the middle-right, the staff and guest cubbyhole is behind that wall, you can see a long light thing that is the longarm, then Alex’s quilt (which is gorgeous in person) and right bank of the audience seating. There are usually 50-70 guests for each show. Tickets are free but you must reserve in advance…check the TQS website for info.
Justin Shults, Ricky’s partner, consults with the team in an area to by one side of the set where they collect the guests’ “stuff” for the episodes and serves as staff work space. I love that they said “welcome to the family.” Everyone staying at the DoubleTree collects in the same zone of the restaurant for breakfast (travel, meals, hotel are on your own dime, but it is so worth it!) and eat together. It is a delightful way to get to know the crew and principals. Left to right: Lilo Bowman, Justin Shults, Mary Kay Davis and Katie. Justin is the guy coordinating things on the set while Shelly Heesacker, the Producer, is in the control room. They communicate by headsets.
This is pretty close to the image folks will see when the show airs online sometime this autumn.
And here’s what that looks like from the sidelines
Sarah Ann Smith visits The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims
My first segment was about using paint on cloth (and I now have custom paint kits available here) and using shrink fabric to make my sunflower quilt (a blogpost to come). Here Ricky and I reviewed what I brought and what we could fit into the 10-14 minute segment. While the guest and hosts review the segments, groups of folks from the audience are allowed to come up and see the quilts up close.
In the breaks between segments, John Anderson (Alex’s husband) keeps the audience entertained, shares quilts from upcoming guests and more. This one is at the end of the day when Ricky came to chat with the audience.

Rehearsing for the thread segment: Ricky, Alex, me and Mary Kay Davis taking a close up photo.
Thanks SO MUCH to Adele, who dresses the set, for taking a billion photos for me. I especially wanted this one from inside the control room that shows what a polished and complicated production this is. Producer Shelly Heesacker is in the bottom left and she crafts each episode and runs the show.
And a close up of the screens as I am taping my second segment, with Alex, on how I do my Threadwork.

After-taping shots: here, I am holding a photo by Chris Maher from the online Photo Critique Group–it is a mock movie poster, with Ricky, Justin and many of our classmates in the assorted cast and crew roles. Too much fun!
I made TQS screen prints on my hand-dyed fabric for the audience as a little gift. MAJOR thanks to Iris Karp of MistyFuse for donating a package of MF (which changed my life and makes what I do possible!!!!! and that is NO exaggeration) so I made up a pattern for the sunflower that I demonstrated on set.
Time for some portrait shots with my quilts…this was one of the best!
Going to use this one for my FB profile photo for a while…THANK YOU ADELE!
Question and Answer session with the audience (and you can see that fun dress!) after taping.

I have to say, I wasn’t all that nervous thanks to being UBER prepared and having done Quilting Arts before, but I was wired for sound LOL..by the time of the Q&A I was relaxed and ready to have even more fun sharing.

At the end of my segment saying “It’s a new day EVERY day,” the TQS motto. Can you tell we were having fun?!!!!


My episode will air sometime in late summer/autumn. Star Members of The Quilt Show will have the first view, then there will be one week where the episode will be free to everyone. I will be sure to post, but gosh there are so many wonderful guests that I am so glad I am a member–and did you know I joined the very first day TQS began: January 1, 2007? And now, here I am as a guest! WOOT! Life is GOOD!