Archive for the ‘art quilting’ Category

The Purple Moose Quilt Retreat

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
At the Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains at peak leaf season

At the Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains at peak leaf season

Most quilt teaching jobs are in the standard Grange or church basement, a basic rectangular box, often in a basement.  You reach it by going to an airport (ugh), flying to another airport (ugh), connecting to a third (or heaven forefend a fourth) airport.  Frequently with long layovers in loud seating areas with expensive coffee and stale food.   The quilters are always fun, but the getting there, not so much.  This time was GLORIOUSLY different!   I drove 5 hours from my home in Maine to the White Mountains in NH where Terri Sontra, of Purple Moose Designs, held her first (hopefully annual and then semi-annual) retreat.  Terri has been looking for the right venue for several years and finally found the Snowy Owl Inn nestled in the heart of the mountains.

The Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH

The Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH

I can tell you right now, I want to go back as a participant and just sew and play at a retreat–been far too long since I’ve been on one, Terri wants to do things RIGHT, the lodge owners were incredibly wonderful…well, anyone wanna come play?

Balinese Garden table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Balinese Garden table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith  (Pattern available here)

Terri selected my Balinese Garden pattern for the Saturday teaching portion of the retreat.  We all arrived Friday afternoon in time for dinner.  Class, which was optional for the participants, was Saturday, but pretty much everyone ended up doing a bit of something I was teaching–FUN!  Saturday evening Alison Bolt came  and gave a humorous talk.  Sunday was more sewing–Terri invited me to stay the weekend (which happened to be the long holiday weekend AND peak color in New England for the leaf-peepers) but I needed to return home (fooey!), then folks went home Monday.  Like I said, I wanna come back as the not-teacher, too!  Several of the ladies went for walks in the woods nearby, and one took a free guided hour-long hike Sunday morning (put on by the town/center).

The students did fabulous work with my pattern–I love it when folks cut loose!  So I’ll salt in photos of what they did throughout this post.

Love the soft, spring colors in this.

Love the soft, spring colors in this.

What’s awesome is how she did it…

Ann wasn't feeling well and packed in a hurry to head to the retreat after work.  She tossed in this multicolored batik ad made all her leaves and flowers from it!

Ann wasn’t feeling well and packed in a hurry to head to the retreat after work. She tossed in this multicolored batik and made all her leaves and flowers from it!  That’s called making your fabric work for you!

Terri had some laudable (and achieved) goals for the retreat:  beautiful location, reasonable lodging fees, good and plentiful food on site (the Inn doesn’t normally run a restaurant full time, but they fixed meals for us and we snarfed), a FULL table per person, and the lighting in the room was REALLY good–no one needed to bring the usual array of extra lamps.  We had participants from Massachusetts, Maine, NH and Vermont.

As you can see, we had lots of room.  Terri had her booth stuff (she vends at quilt shows) set up at the entry with all sorts of useful goodies (including a great selection of needles and batiks, yes I bought some!).  I had the other end for my samples etc.  Each student had an entire table to use, and there were elevated cutting stations and ironing boards in the center.

As you can see, we had lots of room. Terri had her booth stuff (she vends at quilt shows) set up at the entry with all sorts of useful goodies (including a great selection of needles and batiks, yes I bought some!). I had the other end for my samples etc. Each student had an entire table to use, and there were elevated cutting stations and ironing boards in the center.  And in the lower left, the table with the drawings/prizes.  The swag bags for participants were to die for wonderful, too!  Even Alison (the lecture) and I got our own name tags and mugs!  Thank you, Terri!

Didn't this table runner turn out amazing?  When class broke for dinner on Saturday, she had maybe three flowers put together.  Came in the next morning and she had this DONE plus (see next photo)

Didn’t this table runner turn out amazing? When class broke for dinner on Saturday, she had maybe three flowers put together. Came in the next morning and she had this DONE plus (see next photo).   She even got some sleep, but she stayed up WELL past my bedtime!

She had these extra leaves to practice on as I suggested, since you play with thread colors and stitches on your machine  With a "spare to practice" you don't have to pick stuff out!

She had these extra leaves to practice on as I suggested, since you play with thread colors and stitches on your machine With a “spare to practice” you don’t have to pick stuff out!

Here's

Here’s a cheerful sample.  What I love is seeing students take fabrics I’d never think to use and come up with something they love!  Very cottage-y!

Love her blues.  Starr worked on several projects on Saturday, so glad she got so much done.

Love her blues. Starr worked on several projects on Saturday, so glad she got so much done.

The female half of the owners got to take the class, and I'm so annoyed I didn't get a photo of the finished top--I thought I had.  It turned out GREAT!

The female half of the Snowy Owl Inn owners got to take the class, and I’m so annoyed I didn’t get a photo of the finished top–I thought I had. It turned out GREAT!  Here it is in progress.

I love for how this student brought fabric that echoes my pattern and is using my process to enhance the fabric.

I love for how this student brought fabric that echoes my pattern and is using my process to enhance the fabric.  She is relatively new to sewing, but has a great eye and good design sense.

This student has a quilt/bedspread she made and wants to make a wall hanging to go in the bedroom.  She brought the fabric used in the quilt, so we figured out how to use some of that fabric in the top.

This student has a quilt/bedspread she made and wants to make a wall hanging to go in the bedroom. She brought the fabric used in the quilt, so we figured out how to use some of that fabric in the top.

She brought out the fabric to show her neighbor-table-mate, and we both said  BORDERS!  Make it bigger, use it as a border.  Isn't this FAN-flippin'-TASTIC?!!!!  I so want pics when it is quilted.  She bought some gold thread to use. Swoon!

She brought out the fabric to show her neighbor-table-mate, and we both said BORDERS! Make it bigger, use it as a border. Isn’t this FAN-flippin’-TASTIC?!!!! I so want pics when it is quilted. She bought some gold thread to use. Swoon!

Next year, Terri has Ami Simms booked.   I may not do the project/class, but I want to go and laugh!  If Eli’s cross-country season runs the same, I could leave after the meet on Friday, be in NH by bedtime, and spend the weekend…..hmmmmm……..

Anyway, if you are looking for a great getaway retreat, I can say hands-down Terri’s was great.  Now, can I really escape for a play weekend?  Since I began teaching a decade ago (a DECADE?  Already?!!!!!????) I haven’t gone away to play at quilting, feeling that I am gone enough.  But I’m taking next year off of teaching to be home for Eli’s senior year and sports.  So…..if I wait until after that week’s meet is over…….Terri, when do you start taking deposits?

 

 

Two of Us: published again in Inspired by the Beatles

Friday, 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.

My DVD in QA’s Top 25!

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Just a very quick note:  Interweave is having a 25 percent off sale on its top 25 products, and mine is among the top Quilting 25!   Check it out here.  The sale ends tonight, so move quickly.  If you do the download, I highly recommend the High Def version–it is really sharp and crisp. Will be back soon with some pics of teaching at Terri Sontra’s Purple Moose Designs inaugural retreat in the White Mountains of New Hampshire…so much fun!

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.  Click to see larger.

 

Thermofax screens galore!

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

I promised I’d share more of the thermofax screens I have designed and that Fiber on a Whim is making and selling, so here they are.  You can order these online or buy them at International Quilt Festival and other shows where Fiber on a Whim has a booth.

Onions is one of my favorite designs.  I used a small white onion to stamp, then fiddled with the print in photoshop to create this screen.  It makes a fantastic background print.

Onions is one of my favorite designs. I used a small white onion to stamp, then fiddled with the print in photoshop to create this screen. It makes a fantastic background print or part of a  layered piece of complex cloth.

I’m teaching two mini Whimsy-Classes in the Fiber on a Whim booth on the show floor at Quilt Festival, and we’ll be using the onion screen for oen of the two small projects in the classes.  For more information on this, visit here.  There is no advance sign up–come to the booth and the first 8 in line 15 minutes before the classes get in.  The modest $10 fee covers the kit fee–I provide everything you need.

The screens are so new I don’t even have some of them yet!

Squiggles thermofax screen by Sarah Ann Smith at FiberonaWhim.com

Squiggles thermofax screen by Sarah Ann Smith at FiberonaWhim.com 

Woven, thermofax screen design.  Sometimes you just want a bit of something.  This is a full-size screen  so you can print as much or as little of the screen as you like.  With the somewhat irregular edges, it is easily overlapped.

Woven, thermofax screen design. Sometimes you just want a bit of something. This is a full-size screen so you can print as much or as little of the screen as you like. With the somewhat irregular edges, it is easily overlapped.

One of FoaW's best-selling thermofax screens is an old French ledger, so we thought we'd try an alphabet, hand-written by me in a brush pen.  Again, a good background design, which is what I was going for with most of my designs.

One of FoaW’s best-selling thermofax screens is an old French ledger, so we thought we’d try an alphabet, hand-written by me in a brush pen. Again, a good background design, which is what I was going for with most of my designs.

Another vegetable--this time celery!

Another vegetable–this time celery!

The dagger-drops screen is a smaller size because you can easily repeat it.  It will be fun to play with this, alternating the direction of the print 90 degrees or at diagonals or every which way.

The dagger-drops screen is a smaller size because you can easily repeat it. It will be fun to play with this, alternating the direction of the print 90 degrees or at diagonals or every which way.

The Queen Anne's lace is from a photo I took, modified in photoshop elements, then scaled into three sizes.  We will use this in the mini Whimsy-Classes project you can see in this blogpost.

The Queen Anne’s lace is from a photo I took, modified in photoshop elements, then scaled into three sizes. We will use this in the mini Whimsy-Classes project you can see in this blogpost.

Another onion print, a full size (9x12 inch) screen, that I call Tossed Onions.

Another onion print, a full size (9×12 inch) screen, that I call Tossed Onions.

Grasses, a full size screen with two ends to use.  Kristin of FoaW requested this one--I had ordered it earlier for one of my own projects.

Grasses, a full size screen with two ends to use. Kristin of FoaW requested this one–I had ordered it earlier for one of my own projects.

And last but not least, another great background print design, corn!  Yep, I sacrificed an ear of corn on the cob for the sake of art.

And last but not least, another great background print design, corn! Yep, I sacrificed an ear of corn on the cob for the sake of art.

In a few days I’ll do a review of Lynn Krawczyk’s great new book, Intentional Printing.  It will give you TONS of ideas on how to use thermofax screens and other surface design techniques.  Stay tuned! Here’s a link to Lynn’s website in the meantime, and she’s a ton of fun and on Facebook here.

And just in case you don’t feel like scrolling to the top but want to see the website where the screens are sold, here’s the link one more time!  I can’t wait to go to Quilt Festival, but I’m also looking forward to returning to my studio and playing with paint and thermofax screens!

 

 

 

 

In a new Janome advert!

Monday, October 6th, 2014

What a thrill!  My copy of American Quilter, the AQS magazine for members of the AQS (American Quilters Society, as in the quilty folks in Paducah), arrived a day or two ago.  Yesterday I pulled it out of its wrapper and was leafing through it while making decaf tea last night.  I set it down, cover down and my eyes just about popped out of my head–there was the banner I made for Janome in thanks for their long-term support and loan of machines over the past decade ON THE BACK COVER in Janome’s new ad!

The back cover of the current issue of American Quilter with a Janome advert and MY quilted banner!

The back cover of the current issue of American Quilter with a Janome advert and MY quilted banner!  Right click to view larger.  They photography is great–it is really hard to photograph quilting on white fabric and show the depth and texture and they did a great job with this.

The banner was quilted on an 8900 to show what one can do with the machine.  It is a *brilliant* machine.   If you don’t want the top of the line 15000 (what I currently am using on loan and OMG is it a phenomenal piece of computer and machinery) and all the embroidery functions, the 8900 is tops and has a zillion options.   Anyway, here is a picture I took of Janome’s booth last year in Houston, with my banner hanging!

The banner in the Janome booth at International Quilt Festival last year (2013).

The banner in the Janome booth at International Quilt Festival last year (2013).

And some shots of the full front, back and a couple of detail photos.

The full banner.  Right click to see larger.

The full banner. Right click to see larger.

The back.  I LOVE the backs.  The more I quilt, the more I like the back even more than the front!

The back. I LOVE the backs. The more I quilt, the more I like the back even more than the front!  Right click to see larger.

And some detail shots.

Detail of stitching.

Detail of stitching.  Right click to see larger.  I really like the way the background quilting turned out.

And one more detail photo. Right click to see larger.

And one more detail photo. Right click to see larger.

Thanks again to Janome America for years of support and making the best machines ever.

Thanks are also due to Jenny Bowker, a fanatastic art quilter from Australia.   About four years ago at Quilt Festival I was chatting with Jenny Bowker, who was telling me about how she teaches free-motion quilting and invited me by her classroom to see her samples.  In my classes I have always suggested using a large print to free-motion practice, but Jenny had this great way of using a square of big print surrounded by a solid color then by white (like a log cabin blog of sorts).  I asked permission to use/borrow/adapt Jenny’s idea and, Jenny being the wonderful and generous person she is, instantly said of course I could.   When I started my samples and offering this as an alternative to the main exercise in my intro free-motion quilting class, I wanted mine to be different so I eliminated the colored fabric and changes the shapes a bit.  Think of it as big print meets Quilt Modern!

After Festival I made some samples and blogged about them and Jenny’s work.  This banner is an extended version of those samples.   Thanks again to Jenny for a brilliant idea and sharing it!  Do go visit her website and enjoy her artwork, here.  Warning:  do not drool on your computer…her work is what I aspire to be able to do!