Archive for the ‘Machine applique’ Category

Speak Up, Speak Out

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Emerging briefly from the production tunnel to share my latest piece which, thankfully, I CAN share despite the fact I’ve entered it in the Threads of Resistance Call for Entries (Deadline in about 2-3 days)!  As many of you who have known me for a while know, I haven’t usually been politically involved or spoken out.  This is, in part, the legacy of being a federal employee, when you were not allowed to be political (there were ways you could do it, but it was such a fuss that it was easier just to NOT).   However, the last election cycle aggravated me so much I began making political posts and comments on Facebook and getting involved.   Even though I didn’t really have the time, when a group of art quilters got together with this exhibit concept and called for entries, I knew I wanted to try to make a piece.

Speak Up, Speak Out © Sarah Ann Smith 2017. Although the Women’s March imagery has become ubiquitous since the March, I decided to proceed with my concept because it was my experience.

It began during one of the debates last autumn (2016).  The then-Republican-candidate (I *refuse* to use his name) kept saying “Make America Great Again,” as if it weren’t great already!   I will be the first to say that we are an imperfect union, this great nation of ours, but that is part of why we are a great nation….or were and must recover from the collective idiocy currently gripping the country.  I started sketching during the debate and came up with two ideas for art quilts, one about Maine, one about our nation.  The latter was to have a border of hands, holding hands, and phrases and words that represented the US, but the center wasn’t yet clear to me.

With my soon-to-be daughter-in-law Ashley G., I traveled to the Women’s March on Washington on an overnight bus (overnight going and returning…LONG nights sitting up!).   I bought a cheap spiral notebook and asked riders on the bus, if they wished, to trace their hands so I could use them as the border in this piece.  Every hand traced is here (one twice, because I needed one more hand to make things fit properly).

At the March, I took many many photos and as the day wore on I knew that being in this sea of humanity, most in some sort of pink hat or cat ears (reference to the-one-who-shall-not-be-named joking that he would grab a woman by the pussy–slimeball! that’s sexual assault you jerk!) I had found my image for the center of the quilt.  The images of women and men marching, protesting peacefully (not a single arrest!), has since become ubiquitous.  So much so that I considered NOT doing this view because it has been seen.  But I decided that since I conceived of the quilt before the march and finalized during the day of the March as the images had barely first been seen on the internet, I decided that since it was also “my” March, I would proceed.

This photo became my starting point–it is the only photo I didn’t take (since I’m in it..someone on the street offered to snap pics for us):

Some of the ladies from the bus. We are on East Capitol Street heading toward the Capitol. Mainers were to wear blaze / hunter’s orange. I’m on the far right standing next to Ashley, who has her orange scarf on, and we’re wearing the hats I made us.  There is an odd aberration in the photo, but so it goes.  I printed this photo on the label.

Usually when you see photos of protest marches, so many of the signs are manufactured, a printed graphic done by someone professional (ish).  What impressed me about this March is that almost all–upwards of 95 percent–of the signs were homemade and many were clever and/or inspiring.   I selected my favorite ones and used them.  One of the signs in the quilt is the actual sign that I made and wore on my jacket during the March.

Left side of the quilt. I loved the sign calling for a return to civility, courtesy, charity and compassion.

In the sky above the marchers, surrounding the capitol dome, I quilted the Preamble to the US Constitution on the left.   Brief signs/slogans are under the hands at the top.  On the right I quilted the First Amendment’s four freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and right to redress the government for grievances (which is what we were doing!  Democracy living and in action!), as well as more slogans and thoughts.

There were three huge signs in the shape of cats, maybe 4 feet tall, so I appropriated one of them to use.

Center left. I LOVED the quote attributed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (I think I am falling in love with that woman!) and made sure she really did say it before including “Better bitch than mouse” as one of the signs.

By the way, I used Fabrico felt tip pens and Pitt Artist pens (brush and bullet tip) for the signs.

When I graduated from Georgetown University (in DC) in 1979, a t-shirt was popular that said “A woman’s place is in the House, and in the Senate.”  At the time, no woman had been elected (or maybe just one or two…I’m thinking Margaret Chase Smith and Nancy Landon) to the Senate that had not gotten there by taking her late husband’s seat.  It was still common to be told that a woman’s place was in the home and the kitchen, not the office.  Now I’ve said “A Woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Oval Office!”

Center of the quilt. I was really pleased at how the dome turned out. I used my photo as my guide and sketched out the pattern, cut the shape (as usual I am using Mistyfuse on fabric and raw edge collage; the dome is a rare case of me using a print fabric instead of a batik. The peach-yellow hand on the left is my dyed fabric, the salmon-pink-purple on the right is Laura Wasilowski’s, from a fat quarter from a class I took with her.  The fabrics in the signs are mostly my hand-dyes.

The coat hanger sign is a combination of two such signs that I saw.   I loathe the idea of abortions. But when I was in my 20s, I was a US visa officer.   I was processing the paperwork for a British man’s visa based on his marriage to a US citizen.  When you do that, you need to establish that the marriage is legal and valid, so you need to see if there were any prior marriages and, if so, that they ended legally.  He was a widower.  To break the tedium, I used to look at cause of deaths when these cases came across my desk.  His first wife died of septicemia (blood poisoning) from a self-induced abortion (because it was illegal in the UK at that time). Ever since, I have stood for freedom of choice because there will ALWAYS be women who are that desperate, no matter how awful I or others believe abortion to be.  Moving on…back to the quilt.

Center right. I loved the take on the Don’t Tread on Me flag from revolutionary war times that turned the snake into a uterus and says Don’t Tread On Me (on left, on Laura Wasilowski’s fabric).  The big pink sign with Michelle Obama’s mantra is what I wore at the January 21, 2017 March on Washington.  That’s my DIL Ashley on the left in this photo, me on the right. I modified a sign carried by a Vermonter to read (in the sky writing) One Maine snowflake in a storm.

Center bottom right. A bit sharper photo.  In the bottom left, under the copyright, you can see a “ribbon.”  The center woman I think of as “Everywoman.”  Then there is Ashley (DIL) in braids, and me on the far right.  Ashley’s hand is the purple one at her right shoulder, mine is the blue one next to Ashley, one in from the corner.

Some generous unknown-to-me person who couldn’t go to DC made and gave away these ribbons to those from Maine who marched. It was done in the Mainer’s blaze/hunter orange. That was pretty bright for the front of my quilt, and I didn’t want it to distract from the imagery. So I scanned the ribbon into the computer, then in Photoshop darkened the color so that it would work visually on the front. THANK YOU whoever made these!

Far right. My friend Gail Galloway-Nicholson used to be the Curator for the Supreme Court so is as familiar with Capitol Hill as I am, if not more so from having worked there for a good bit of  her career..  I worked for a US Congressman for two years, and we also lived just two blocks behind the capitol (yes, I got to see our old house).  She asked me to carry her name in my pocket since she couldn’t go to the March. I did, and added the names of more friends (some I’ve only known via the internet and quilty stuff).  Thank you all for being there with me!   I love knowing you and that you wanted to be there in spirit and on the cloth!

So that is all the details, well, most of them, of what went into this quilt.  Don’t know if it will get juried in–I know there is some awesome art being made for this that doesn’t use the ubiquitous image–but I am glad I made it!

And I have decided to get involved volunteering for my Town of Hope, Maine.  I decided that one needs to put your time where your mouth is, and as the saying goes, all politics is local.   Here’s to giving back to my adopted-shoulda-been-born-here home state of Maine!

 

 

 

 

App2Applique by Dianne S. Hire

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Before I moved to Maine, I met Maine quilter Sally Field via the QuiltArt online quilt list; in fact, she is one of the ways we found our way to the Camden and Hope area!  After moving here, she kept telling me about her friend Dianne Hire, who lived maybe half an hour north of me.

Dianne’s Scrolls, on the right, is the quilt I began on this life-changing weekend.  Dianne Hire’s Yellow FraShizzle is on the left, and I have to giggle–I have that same plaid fabric! The book is APP-2-Applique, available here.  Just keep reading!

The second year (or thereabouts–circa 2006) that we were here in Maine, Dianne was scheduled to teach at Paul Smith’s Quilt Camp  in the Adirondacks (New York).  Alas, she injured her back–badly–just a couple days before.  She didn’t want to cancel on the venue and students, but she was on serious pain meds and couldn’t drive.  The quilters network went into overdrive, and to make a hectic 36 hours short, I ended up being able to take a week away from family, drive her to the camp, help her with the heavy lifting and schlepping of stuff (all quilt teachers know how much heavy lifting, literally, is involved!) and in exchange, get to take her classes and stay for free.  I met Dianne, then, for the first time as I went to pick her up to head out to camp.

That weekend was to become life-changing for me:  for the first time, I was on the teacher’s site of a retreat.  I met other quilt teachers and realized hey!  I teach locally now, I can do this.  That weekend is what led to me becoming a national level quilting teacher.   I had never thought of that, but this weekend opened my eyes, I saw a doorway, and off I went!

Fast forward many years:  Dianne’s APP is for Applique became a quilter’s favorite.  But she had (of course she did!) more ideas than could fit in one book.   After life happening (including back surgery) for her, she finally got to  put  more ideas into APP-2-Applique.  The book is so much fun–not only does it have great patterns, quilts by my local peeps (who are of course HER local peeps too), but it teaches you how to make your own designs, too.  Way cool!

APP 2 Applique by Dianne S. Hire–use the patterns or learn to design your own.

Dianne’s first class that weekend was the designs that became this book, and I was having so much fun, I just kept working on my quilt in her next classes.  And I have to say, it is a testament to Dianne’s goodness that despite the incredible pain (even with major pain killers) that she was unfailingly polite, gracious and kind to one and all that weekend.  Utterly amazing!

In the section on the Scrolls pattern, Dianne talks about selecting fabrics to make the scrollwork pop, how to prepare the pattern to get two blocks for the effort of one, and more.

And Dianne includes quilts by others to give you an idea of the many ways this design can be interpreted.

One of my favorite of Dianne’s quilts in this book is this colorful beauty!  Diane’s work is full of joyful color.

So I thank Dianne, for her friendship, for including my quilts in her books, for teaching, for showing me the way.  When the books arrived at her house, she called us all up and we ended up (a bunch of us published in the book) going to Dianne’s house for tea and signing the books–like autographing yearbooks.  I treasure being in this book with my friends!   Thank you, Dianne, for all you have done for me and shared with me.

Dianne’s Scrolls © Sarah Ann Smith. Published in APP-2-Applique by Dianne Hire.

 

Teaching at Quilt Festival Houston–sign up soon

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Online signups for classes at International Quilt Festival in Houston end on October 7th !!!!! I’d love to see you in one of my classes.  Here’s my very busy line up!

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I’m thrilled to be so busy and hope to meet many of you.  Here’s a blogpost about The Nest, a new and totally fun half-day (or full day if a guild wants a full day) class, it’s a blast and the extensive kit/materials provided make it easy to prep.  I’m also teaching my intermediate/advanced Tame Fussy, Fiddly Threads for Machine Quilting class for those of you who want to learn more about the “cranky” threads–that really aren’t cranky if you just learn how to use them!

Houston has revamped the catalog a little bit. There are now (yeah!) pictures in the catalog (not just online) and there are weblinks so you can go to my website for the FULL supply list and handouts.   To shorten the process, if any of the above look good to you, you can go to my class listings page here for info about my classes.  Each description has a hotlink to the pdf Supply list.  If I have blogged about a class, that also is in the description.  You can also find all my supply lists in one place on my Resources page.  If you click on “Resources,” Look at the jump links at the top.  Click on Class Supply Lists and it will jump you down the page (instead of having to scroll down).

Here are some more blogposts about the classes I’m offering in Houston:

Decorative Stitch Applique here and here

Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag here

Can’t wait to see you in Houston!

 

Teaching at Int’l Quilt Festival Houston 2016

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Can you tell it’s been busy?  Whenever I disappear, that means so much life is happening I don’t have time to blog.  I’ll try to catch up a little bit at the time.  First things first…the catalog is out for classes at International Quilt Festival in Houston!!!!! Here’s my very busy line up!

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 4.39.58 PM

Houston has revamped the catalog a little bit. There are now (yeah!) pictures in the catalog (not just online) and there are weblinks so you can go to my website for the FULL supply list and handouts.   To shorten the process, if any of the above look good to you, you can go to my class listings page here for info about my classes.  Each description has a hotlink to the pdf Supply list.  If I have blogged about a class, that also is in the description.  You can also find all my supply lists in one place on my Resources page.  If you click on “Resources,” Look at the jump links at the top.  Click on Class Supply Lists and it will jump you down the page (instead of having to scroll down).

I’m thrilled to be so busy and hope to meet many of you.   I will do a separate blogpost to go live in a couple days about The Nest, a new and totally fun half-day (or full day if a guild wants a full day) class, and my fairly new Easy Peasy bag class.   Can’t wait!

 

Descended From the Stars, Part 3

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

When I left on in my last post about this quilt, I had shared the dyeing process and the stones and lettering.   Next, I fused trees in the four seasons into the corners.  I distorted the shape so the tree canopy served as a frame.  I had thought initially I might need an inner border, perhaps couched yarn or stitching of some sort, but the shape of the tree worked so well I didn’t need anything extra.   As I did with the stones, I cut out leaves, LOTS of leaves, separating the colors into the ice cube tray so I could place them carefully.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.  Each of the leaves is free-motion stitched with several rounds of thread on each leaf.  The nice part about doing this at the top stage is that I could use the scissors on my Janome 15000.  I didn’t have to bury thread tails!

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

I did the stitching around the stones and on the trees, including the leaves, at the top stage with stabilizer underneath.  (See my post here to learn more about my current article for Machine Quilting Unlimited on the Fourth Layer–stabilizer– for densely thread painted quilts.)  I removed the stabilizer everywhere except for under the center because I knew I would want to quilt that area more densely than the rest of the quilt.

Here

Here I have begun quilting.  You can see the custom-dyed cotton duck on the back.  The use of heavier cloth helps keep the quilt flat and stable; it also helps minimize shrinkage.  The final piece had to be 40 x 40 inches, and I wanted to have a balanced amount of blue on both sides of the lettering, so I needed to control the shrinkage that happens with dense quilting.

Next,

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Superior Threads (Thank you Bob and Heather Purcell!) has come out with some tone-on-tone variegated threads.   I have been pestering Bob for YEARS to make threads like these as I prefer blendy to contrasty.  I ordered up all of the new earth-tone blendy variegateds in the Fantastico line and used them.  I began with a light green blend in the first row around the sun, switched to another in the next to rings, and then a third in the fourth ring that you see here.  If you look at the left, you can see how I snuck some of the current thread color into the next ring to get even more color blending.

Then, I had to decide what threads to use in the dark areas.  My sewing tables (two back to back) are each 24 inches, so I have a nice, HUGE flat surface to support the quilt as I work.

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Choosing thread:  dark, pine-y green and deep blue.

With all the manipulation, I realized that some of the ink had rubbed off, despite being REALLY careful to heat set it according to directions.  I wrote immediately to friends Judy Coates Perez and Susan Brubaker Knapp to seek guidance.  Judy had only used the regular colors, not the metallics.  And Susan had an article in the just-out issue of Quilting Arts about lettering, including these inks!  She too discovered that the metallics seem to “shed” a bit.

After quiting, some of the bling had rubbed off my quilt, so I had to do it AGAIN!

After quiting, some of the bling had rubbed off my quilt, so I had to do it AGAIN!  You can see where I have inked over the letters and what is left to re-do.

After re-inking and heat setting, I tested on my scrap cloth several products to seal the ink including GAC 900 (a textile medium that one adds to paint), a UV Coating, matte gel medium, and Krylon Spray Fixative which says it is acid-free, archival and safe on fabric.  Only the Krylon didn’t leave tell-tale signs that it had been used.  So I carefully masked off the rest of the quilt, leaving only the lettering area exposed and sprayed the Krylon on it (stinky!) in hopes that will help prevent the mica flakes in the gold ink from coming off.

I was nearly done, except that I didn’t really care for the multiple layers of thread I had used stitching the sun.  Picking it out did NOT appeal to me.  So I trekked down to Clementine fabrics in Rockland and bought some perle cotton in the right color.

I wasn't happy with the way the stitching looked, so I couched perle cotton on top of the outline of the sun.  MUCH better!  You can see the difference in this half-way-through shot.

I wasn’t happy with the way the stitching looked, so I couched perle cotton on top of the outline of the sun. MUCH better! You can see the difference in this half-way-through shot.

At last, it was nearly DONE!  Time for facings, sleeve and label.

The back side of the quilt.  By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

The back side of the quilt. By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

And I couldn’t resist the temptation to place a moon behind the sun as my label.  One more time with the dip pen!

The End--the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

The End–the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

This quilt will be for sale–another reason I opted to not include a lot of personal details in the quilt.   As I said before, I am happy!