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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

16 years! Home, Maine, HOME!

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

When I arrived in Maine 16 years ago today, to move into our house in Camden (we moved from there to neighboring hope in 2011), I did not know that after 46 years of wandering the globe and living on four continents, I had finally found what I always wanted: HOME!

After the storm, just a couple of days ago, from our front porch

Maine has become my muse and my soul’s home. Within two years, I made this quilt which flowed out of me effortlessly. In such a short time, I had become Maine’s and Maine had become my heart’s true home.

A Sense of Place: The Wall

When I grew up on the West Coast, everyone said that the West Coast was friendly, open, welcoming, made up of newcomers. Yet as a 6 year old arriving from Argentina, it wasn’t. The leader of the Brownie troupe wouldn’t let me join because we hadn’t lived in California long enough. Children told me I wasn’t a Californian and never would be because I wasn’t born there. Quests for better schooling let my mother to move me from school to school: Bayside, Central, Grenada, Del Mar and finally San Domenico all in the time from January of First grade to the start of 7th grade. I didn’t belong and never did. From College until age 46, I moved. And moved. And moved. All work, but still. No place to feel HOME.

Yet when I moved to Maine, where there was supposedly the vaunted “Yankee reserve,” I was welcomed with open arms even though I am indeed “from away.” Long time Mainers and others from away welcomed me equally. Quilters welcomed me and gave me a home. I began my quilt art and teaching career here. And this year, I was honored, humbled and thrilled to learn that one of my quilts will hang at the Bicentennial Exhibit to celebrate Maine’s 200th anniversary of Statehood at the Maine State Museum in August as one of Maine’s contemporary quilts. Everything has, of course, been delayed by COVID, but there will also be a book and I’m in it, with thanks to Laurie LaBar, head of Textiles (and other things) at the Museum. Did you know where I live was part of two states (sort of)? The District Of Maine was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when the colonies became the first 13 states in the Union in 1776. In 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, Maine became a separate state.

Over the past few years I have been making work inspired by the world around me, including Lupines.
Rose Hip, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2019. 36″ square. 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.
My beloved apple tree, on the lower part of our driveway. This WILL become a quilt! A big one.

My goal is to make an exhibit’s worth of quilts celebrating the world around me. Guess I’d better stop blogging and get back to the studio. I am forever grateful to be here with my husband, two sons Joshua and Eli, my third-child-by-another-mother DIL Ashley, and all the various critters past and present and future that share our lives.

From dog walkies this week. Always the world changes and is the same. It inspires me, it fills me with joy and awe and hope.

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.

My interview with Create Whimsy

Friday, March 6th, 2020

I was absolutely delighted when Create Whimsy wrote to ask if I’d like to do a Spotlight interview with them–so many people I admire have interviews that you can still see and read. It was even more fun when the Editor, Chardel Blaine, realized that I had taught at a shop she worked at–Quiltworks Northwest in Bellevue, Washington–and we had met about 15 YEARS ago!

Here’s the link to my interview… I hope you enjoy reading the flotsam and jetsam of my life and mind. I opened up a half dozen interviews to review and prepare which led me to a new artist I admire, and I’m planning on opening another half dozen for lunchtime reading. Thank you Chardel and Create Whimsy!

Accuquilt GO!

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

Part of every new year should be learning new things…and I’m starting with the Accuquilt GO!

As part of the Michael Miller 2020 Brand Ambassador program, we received the Ready. Set. GO! Ultimate Fabric Cutting System from Accuquilt. It includes an AccuquiltGO! plus the 8″ Qube (a set of dies to cut shapes often used in piecing 8″ blocks) and a ginormous die to cut my own 2 1/2″ strips. I’ve never seen one of these used in person, let alone done it myself. They are supposed to be lots faster than traditional rotary cutting and more accurate to boot. That makes two things where I need improvement–grin!

Lookit those amazing colors…don’t you want to dive in face first?

A while back, I was deliriously delighted to learn I had WON all 214 colors (above and below) of Michel Miller’s Cotton Couture (this was before I even applied for the Brand Ambassador program). I’ve been wanting to make a quilt I shall call “214.” As I’ve been waiting to upload this post, I realized that I can use the AccuquiltGO! to do the majority of the cutting, even the sashing! If I use the die for 2 1/2″ strips, I can then manually cut those in half vertically to get the 3/4″ finished strips I want to use for sashing. And then (!!!) I can use the die to cut 4 1/2″ squares (4″ finished) — if I am careful — to subcut the strips into 4 1/2″ lengths to match the size of squares I’m going to use in the quilt! Stay tuned…guess what I’m going to do today!

So, with that I am going to sign off and go play with my new fabric and toys!

Int’l Quilt Market, Part 3

Monday, November 18th, 2019

And yes, there was even more fun stuff at Market…see why I never got to the quilts? (Previous two posts have more good stuff.)

Loved the Robert Kaufmann display, especially the Library Pockets, which of course made me think of my friend Kate C. who is the Bowdoinham town librarian and wonderfully crafty and artful!
Can’t you just see this for a teacher’s room, or library, or your studio, or a busy family?
What a lovely display of little “this and thats”
The artwork in these fabrics made me stop in my tracks! I snagged a brochure… and yeah, I’d like THOSE chairs too…. The quilt on the right is a panel. I’m not sure I would use that, but the coordinating fabrics, and even just cut up those BIG flowers, and then cut the text up into smaller bits to piece into something amazing……

One trend I noticed across various fabric booths is that they are getting super smart about cross-marketing. The artwork isn’t just in quilting cotton, but heavier and/or lighter weights (in this case a canvas weight for a jacket, chair upholstery or tote), wall paper, gift paper, note cards, little stationery items. Smart.

I adore the look of watercolors…. look at the coordinating green and aqua prints on the right! Wonder if Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, Maine, will carry these? Or Alewives Fabrics in Damariscotta Mills?
And the Tilda booth….would love to just SIT for a moment
The Ruby Star Society booths and displays were another WOW moment. Almost makes me wish I didn’t have a Big Board and just a regular ironing board–I’d so buy this cover!
And Ruby Star also is marketing designs in different weights, like the drapey fabric in the dress. For the first time, they had a guest designer! LOVE her bold prints. And that quilt in the basket on the left…OMG it is a PANEL….
No one was around this late on Monday (within a half hour of closing) so I opened it up a bit to get this photo. It is the Tiger Fly panel by Sarah Watts. WOW!
And for my friend Tori, the Alison Glass display!
No trip to Houston is a success unless it involves dinner at Ninfa’s. I got to go twice! On Monday my friend Susan Fletcher King picked me up when Market closed, and we spent a lovely rest of the afternoon at her house. Then Lauretta Crites joined us for supper after teaching that day.
I’m a creature of habit: El Henry! Taco, enchilada and ….YUM OH YUM… tamale!

A perfect end to a fun Quilt Market. More on the house renovations, Festival, family and more in the coming weeks.