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Archive for the ‘Photography’ 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.

A Snowy Owl at the Library of Congress!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

Well today sure started off well…. got an email from curator and exhibit organizer extraordinaire Donne DeSoto that my Snowy Owl, from Acadia National Park, will be on display at the Library of Congress soon! Here’s the LoC’s information on the exhibit–I SO wish I lived close enough to go see it!

Here’s my owl, based on photographs I took at nearby Clarry Hill Ridge. Of course I had to pick something from Acadia National Park, here in Maine. The fabrics are my hand dyes, include a little bit of paint, and lots of threadwork!

This quilt is part of the Inspired by the National Parks exhibit which debuted in the National Parks Centennial Year. The exhibit will finish its phenomenal run in February at the Mancuso Brother’s Mid-Atlantic show. Donna told me the exhibit has been to THIRTY ONE venues in the three years it has traveled! That is astounding! So many thanks to Schiffer Publishing for putting out the tome with all our quilts and to the other participants. But most of all, special thanks to Donna. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work it is to keep tabs on so many quilts and get them traveling so many places for multiple years. THANK YOU DONNA!

Free for ONE Week, my episode on The Quilt Show

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

For just ONE WEEK  from October 13-20, viewers anywhere with the not-so-secret code will be able to see my episode, No. 2508, on The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson, will be able to see the episode for free!    Just use this code:  {  http://thequiltshow.com/watch/show-list/video/latest/show-2508-sarah-ann-smith?artist_coupon=25081013  }  from the 13th to the 20th–I so hope you enjoy it!   Free Viewing time starts at 12:00:01 a.m. Sunday October 13, 2019!  
I will confess–I was mightily relieved and happy when I saw it on the 6th when it went live for members of The Quilt Show.   It looks great, I didn’t look or sound like a total dork, and I packed in a lot of information!

First it was live, now it is free for ONE WEEK ONLY! Click HERE to see it before it turns back into a pumpkin/Members Only viewing!
Taping was such an amazing experience…this vast soundstage, seeing the huge booms with the cameras (you can see one coming in from the left), how they project the logo onto the wall and faux brick wall, how the massive counters just roll around the space, how a longarm can easily be rolled hither and yon. Behind photographer Adele Merrell (thank you AGAIN for these fabulous photos and memories), to her left and back, are the risers with seats for the audience. And on the right, one of the two large monitors, one on each side, so the audience can see what the camera sees (in case the camera is blocking their view).
The audience, watching Alex and Ricky talking about how to get perfect miters on borders.
The impressive array of monitors in the control room where the producers sit. The communicate with the cameramen and crew through headsets.
Justin, Alex, me, Ricky and John, the four principals (the ARJJ in the Quilt Show ownership) in the TQS logo aprons I made for them with custom thermofax screens. I was delighted they were in use on the set within days of taping!
At the very end of the last segment…can you tell I was happy and relieved it went well?

Here’s that special link again… it will ONLY work from midnight a.m. October 13 through October 20, 2019. It means anyone can watch the episode, not just TQS members. But I gotta say, I have been around a long time, know a lot, and yet I LEARN a lot from watching The Quilt Show. I’m proud and pleased to now be a part of–as they put it–The TQS Family. Thank you Ricky, Alex, Justin, John, Shelly, Lilo and all the gang!

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!