Archive for the ‘International Quilt Festival’ Category

Welcome Albus, the 15000!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
An old/new project

An old/new project

Quite a number of years ago, before I taught at my first national-level show, I had a rare opportunity in about 2007.   Dianne Hire, author, teacher, quilter, artist, gardener, lives nearby me here in Maine.   Alas, she hurt her back–badly–just a wrong move picking up a light stick.   And she was scheduled to teach at her favorite retreat in just a few days.  She needed someone to drive her and help schlep all the teacher stuff.  Luckily for me, my name came up as one of two folks who might be able to help her.  The other person couldn’t do it, so I finally got to meet Dianne (we have a mutual friend but had never met) and in the one week of summer where I could take a break from Paul and the boys and go.  So I drove her to Paul Smith’s College (!!! Yep, can you believe it, a college with that name in upstate NY near Lake Placid) and got to sit in and take all her classes.   I began this project back then, but never finished it though I always liked it.

Another bit of astounding good luck:  I’ve been affiliated with Janome America in their artists and teachers program for a decade now.  Can you believe it?  I can’t, but they seem to be happy with me and willing to keep me on.   I had never really wanted or liked the high end machines that do fancy embroidery software etc.  Then at International Quilt Festival in Houston last year I taught a class in a room with Janome’s new top of the line machine, the 15000.   WOWIE ZOWIE is it a BEAST!  And much easier to use with all sorts of cool features.   Even more astounding, Janome is lending me one!   Here it is, newly set up in my studio:

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, because the Janome 15000 is of course the great White Wizard, the most powerful wizard ever

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, because the Janome 15000 is of course the great White Wizard, the most powerful wizard ever

I decided to finish the quilt above (I won’t show the whole thing because Dianne is working on a book with the pattern) as my first project on the machine so I could get to learn the machine and make friends with it.  THEN I’ll move on to the Embroidery function learning curve!  Here are some close ups of the fantastic satin stitching I’ve achieved on this beauty!  I was able to taper (adjust) the width of the stitch as I stitched to get smooth thicks and thins in the satin stitched line.  WOOT!

Satin stitched, quilted, then the applique was outlined to make it pop.

Satin stitched, quilted, then the applique was outlined to make it pop. The large motif in the center is stitched in the ditch, but the motifs in on the right aren’t yet outlined.  It really makes a difference!

And my border design

And my border design.  Here, the motifs on the right are outlined, the ones on the left are not.  The ones on the left kinda ripple.  By outlining, you really define and refine the shape.  Getting the tension just perfect was a bit fiddly.  I have found that the more complicated the machine, the more delicate they are in their settings.  Once you get them set, they are perfection, but you really need to understand your machine, be patient, and get to learn and know the way the machine works.  So often I hear students say “my machine won’t do that.”  Most of the time, I regret to say, it is operator error–not taking the time to learn and be patient.  So I am telling myself just that and hoping for LOTS of time in the near future to get to do that learning!

MASSIVE thanks to Janome America for their continuing generosity with me.   I hope to be able to give back to them and make some awesome, award-worthy quilts on this beauteous wizard of a machine!

Reflections, Eli and the whooshing sound of time disappearing

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

I am delighted to report that I will have a quilt in this year’s Dinner@8 exhibit, Reflections, which will debut at International Quilt Festival, Houston, in October 2014. I’m honored and humbled to be in such company as the other artists included, many of whom I know and am happy to call friend.

Eli, Cross Country 2014 (c) SarahAnnSmith.com

Eli, Cross Country 2014
(c) SarahAnnSmith.com

This year’s challenge was to make a 24″ wide by 60″ long art quilt to the theme of Reflections.  Curators Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison wrote:

A mirror image. A response to a thought or word. A memory. What glints back at us as we gaze upon the water. The throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it.  What will your reflection reveal about you?

For more information, visit their website, here.

For once in my life, I decided not to be literal.  Instead I thought about our sons.  Four years ago, for one of these exhibits, I made a portrait of Joshua playing his guitar.  Now, at the same age, I wanted to portray Eli, who is an honor student and star athlete.  Though his “first” sport is wrestling, it doesn’t really play well with a long and narrow format!  BUT, running does.  So I chose cross country season!

For my entry, I wrote something along these lines:  When I reflect on how fast time has passed by, I am nearly paralyzed.  Like me, Eli prefers to “Do,” not ponder.   At sixteen, he is literally and figuratively running headlong into his future.

For this piece I dyed the red fabrics (same batch as those used for the amaryllis quilt–clever how I managed that one, eh?) and some of the ground and foliage fabrics.  The remainder are commercial batiks.  As usual, I have quilted it very closely.  I hope to share more details with you on that.  For now, here’s a detail photo.

Detail, Eli, Cross Country 2013. (C) 2014 SarahAnnSmith.com

Detail, Eli, Cross Country 2013.
(C) 2014 SarahAnnSmith.com

 

Coming to a show near you!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Wow… this is fun:  I am shipping out FOUR quilts to various shows and exhibits today!   The first one to go on display is Conversations 1, at the big AQS show in Paducah!  Then two are going off to be in the Traditional Treasures special exhibit for the International Quilt Festivals in Chicago and (in fall) Houston, and then the pug-love is headed off to a round of exhibits with Mary Wilson Kerr’s Dare to Dance exhibit!

Conversations 1 is going to Paducah!

Conversations 1 is going to Paducah!

Next on the exhibit trail is Mr. Wiggles Does the Circle Dance.  This portrait of Pigwidgeon’s joy when getting his supper is in Mary Wilson Kerr’s soon-to-be-available book and exhibit “Dare to Dance:  An Artist’s Interpretation of Joy.”  You can read more about the exhibit and where it is going here.  This quilt is going to log a LOT of miles, starting in West Virginia, heading to MANY Sew Expo’s, MANY Mancuso shows and will return home after (get this!) two and half years on the road!   Wave hullo to our beloved pug when you see him!

Mr. Wiggles Does the Circle Dance is going on the road!  If you look closely (at least in person) you can see below the bowl that I'm asking him "Are you hungry?"  That questions sets off the dance which begins with three (always three, only three) counter-clockwise (same direction always) circles.  He then runs behind your legs and bumps you in the direction of the closet which holds the kibble!

Mr. Wiggles Does the Circle Dance is going on the road! If you look closely (at least in person) you can see below the bowl that I’m asking him “Are you hungry?” That questions sets off the dance which begins with three (always three, only three) counter-clockwise (same direction always) circles. He then runs behind your legs and bumps you in the direction of the closet which holds the kibble!

Then, to my utter astonishment and complete delight, I have TWO quilts that made it into a **traditional** exhibit at International Quilt Festival, the Traditional Treasures that will debut in Chicago in June and return again in Houston.  This is the first time I’ve had traditional quilts juried in to a major national show, and I am elated!

This may be one of my favorite quilts.  It is inspired by a beer carton (for our grocery challenge, see blogposts here).  I revised the harbor to be Camden and the schooner to be the Louis B French.  The miniature storm at sea is mostly from a John Flynn quilt kit, with the small square in a square finishing at (EEEK) 1 1/8".  At least when I pieced them accurately!  Finished size is 20 1/2" square.

This may be one of my favorite quilts. It is inspired by a beer carton (for our grocery challenge, see blogposts here and here). I revised the harbor to be Camden, Maine, and the schooner to be the Louis B French. The miniature storm at sea is mostly from a John Flynn quilt kit, with the small square in a square finishing at (EEEK) 1 1/8″. At least when I pieced them accurately! Finished size is 20 1/2″ square.  This quilt and the next one will also (yippeee!) be included in Lark’s forthcoming 500 Traditional Quilts book!

And my Hawaiian inspired quilt, Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, will also be in IQF’s Traditional Treasures.  There are apparently only 25 quilts in this exhibit, so I am totally gobsmacked and humbled to have two quilts included.  Nourish is 64 inches square, is available as a pattern, and is the basis of my Hawaiian Applique by Machine class:

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, by Sarah Ann Smith.  The blocks are either food (taro, pineapple or breadfruit) or things that are beautiful:  the plumeria with its heavenly scent and the bird of paradise.

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, by Sarah Ann Smith. The blocks are either food (taro, pineapple or breadfruit) or things that are beautiful: the plumeria with its heavenly scent and the bird of paradise.

Have lots of things to share, but am so busy I don’t have much time to blog!  Will try to post again in a couple of days!

International Quilt Festival 2013, Houston, #7: Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Caryl Bryer Fallert Gentry makes the leap into a new life

Caryl Bryer Fallert Gentry makes the leap into a new life

One of the stand-out exhibits of last Fall’s Houston International Quilt Festival 2013 was Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s exhibit of 30 for 30:  to celebrate 30 years of art quilts, she made 30 quilts 30×30 inches.  They celebrate her journey, invoking her style and techniques that have made her one of the pre-eminent art quilters of our day.  You can visit her website, here.

Many of you will know her for her vibrant rainbow-hued hand-dyes and appli-pieced quilts.  Some of you will remember the various styles she has tried over the years–remember the wonderful dandelion quilts?  the photo transfers?  the tucks and pleats?  All are represented in this exhibit.

Some of you may know that she realized a dream, building a  home and studio in Paducah with her husband after she retired from her “day job” with United (I think it was) airlines.  Her Paducah studio is amazing (here’s a link to an online tour of her studio), a perfect place to live and to offer workshops and sell her works and fabrics.  Then her husband died suddenly what seems like just a few years ago, but was actually  a few more than that.   After several years alone, she met Ron Gentry, love happened, and they married at the Quilt Museum in Paducah, with homes in Paducah and his home base of Port Townsend.  The quilt above is Caryl making the leap to this new life!  And I’ll put in a plug for her…the studio is now for sale!  Check here.

The exhibit was just inside the main doors as you enter the convention center on the quilt show side (as opposed to the vendor side) of Festival...what a wonderful way to begin!

The exhibit was just inside the main doors as you enter the convention center on the quilt show side (as opposed to the vendor side) of Festival…what a wonderful way to begin! Every time I passed by there were people taking photos and enjoying her work.

Remember the gradations of value, light, the piecing?

Remember the gradations of value, light, the piecing? Notice how perfectly centered the binding is, the yellow precisely in the middle, the mono-rpinted border, the quilting.  Sigh.

The nearly cellular-level "macro" shots?

The nearly cellular-level “macro” shots?

The photo transfer/prints years?  What is wonderful is that this is a new quilt, using photos from the Pacific Northwest and her new life, but in the style of these particular years.

The photo transfer/prints years? What is wonderful is that this is a new quilt, using photos from the Pacific Northwest and her new life, but in the style of these particular years.

A symphony of color

A symphony of color.  SWOON!

Be still my beating heart!  The lighting was great when you were standing there looking at the quilt, but my photos are a bit washed out--the color was more vibrant.

Be still my beating heart! The lighting was great when you were standing there looking at the quilt, but my photos are a bit washed out–the color was more vibrant.

And a detail:

Look at that quilting.  And of course the quilts are perfectly flat, perfectly square, perfectly perfect.

Look at that quilting. And of course the quilts are perfectly flat, perfectly square, perfectly perfect.

The best news is that you can see all the quilts here (and see how many are sold/reserved and which are still available).

And yet more color and movement and "Macro".  Sigh.  Swoon.

And yet more color and movement and “Macro”. Sigh. Swoon.

Though I didn’t buy the CD, a CD with proffesional photographs of this series and exhibit in its entirety is available.  Hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot as much as I enjoyed seeing the quilts. Thank you, Caryl, for sharing your art and life with us.

International Quilt Festival 2013, Houston, #6, Decorative Stitching!

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Time for another catch-up post, about my Decorative Stitch Applique class on Friday at Quilt Festival.   I’m on a yahoo group for Janome 6600-7700-8900 owners, and a discussion cropped up about using the decorative stitches and I realized I had yet to post this information, so here goes!

The Funky Chicken, from Sarah's Decorative Stitch Applique class in Houston

The Funky Chicken, from Sarah’s Decorative Stitch Applique class in Houston.  Right click to enlarge image.  I’ve stacked (grouped) stitches on this one.  For example, the checkerboard (in yellow upper left) is two passes of a satin stitch that has two columns of small alternating squares.  To the lower right of the green square, a scroll stitch is bracketed with scallops.  The center square is appliqued, stitched with the “V” stapes, then outlined with a bold straight stitch.  Done on a Janome 8900.

Ya know how we all have these fancy machines that do a bazillion things, and pretty much 98 percent of the time (or more) all we do is use the straight stitch and sometimes the zigzag?   Well, when I wrote my book, Threadwork Unraveled, I included a section to teach folks how to play with their fancy stitches. This is the project in the book and the regular class project.

Decorative Stitch sampler for my Decorative Stitch Class.

Decorative Stitch sampler for my Decorative Stitch Class.

I teach that section as a class which was offered this year at Quilt Festival.  This year I came up with a couple new projects as class options for students. Most of the students did the usual tossed leaves project for this class, but one loved my Funky Chicken.   Here she is early in the day, filling the background with fun stitch combinations in fun colors:

This student used the same colors as my sample.  We were luckily in the Janome classroom with the FABULOUS 15000 machines.  I've never been a fan of computer-screen sewing machine models, as I prefer visual knobs and buttons.  Well, let me tell that has changed!  I have severe sewing machine lust for one of these babies!  And they have even more (!!!) stitches than the already fabulous 8900!

This student used the same colors as my sample. We were luckily in the Janome classroom with the FABULOUS 15000 machines. I’ve never been a fan of computer-screen sewing machine models, as I prefer visual knobs and buttons. Well, let me tell that has changed! I have severe sewing machine lust for one of these babies! And they have even more (!!!) stitches than the already fabulous 8900!

Other students put their own spin on the leaves:

A student is making sample blocks with decorative stitches

A student is making sample blocks with decorative stitches.  This is a great way to test out pattern combinations–here she has a practice square to toss out and her “real” piece on the left.  If you have a practice square, that means you don’t have to pick out the stitches if you don’t like them!

Close up of decorative stitching on an aspen leaf.

Close up of decorative stitching on an aspen leaf.

This student tried a very bold, wide multi-stitch zigzag.

This student tried a very bold, wide multi-stitch zigzag.  You can see this is her practice bit–see how she has tested the appearance of various stitches in the strip on the right?

I made a smaller (about 9 inches square) quiltlet with the sampler leaf and the background stitching.  If you right click on this image, you can see more detail.  Notice how I layered up stitches to applique the green patch and how I used a decorative stitch on the binding.  On the latter, I used matching thread to machine stitch down the binding, then went over that with a decorative stitch.

I made a smaller (about 9 inches square) quiltlet with the sampler leaf and the background stitching. If you right click on this image, you can see more detail. Notice how I layered up stitches to applique the green patch and how I used a decorative stitch on the binding. On the latter, I used matching thread to machine stitch down the binding, then went over that with a decorative stitch.

And a happy student with her nearly-done funky chicken:

Thank you, Barb Brown of Colorado, for taking my class!   I love your chicken!

Thank you, Barb Brown of Colorado, for taking my class! I love your chicken!

The day ended with one of my favorite things at Festival:  FRIENDS!  This evening was the Dinner@8 artists.  Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison curate an exhibit each year for several years now, and I am thrilled to have been both invited to submit pieces and accepted in the exhibit!   My orca quilt, seen in earlier blogposts on Festival 2013, was in this year’s Exquisite Moment exhibit.  Here a bunch of us who were at Festival enjoy dinner and friendship and art!

One of the two tables of folks in the Dinner@8 exhibit.  Leslie is at the head of the table, next to Diane Rusin Doran (in pink), Susan Brubaker Knapp (glasses) and Lyric Kindard (only partly in the photo--sorry Lyric!)

One of the two tables of folks in the Dinner@8 exhibit. Leslie is at the head of the table, next to Diane Rusin Doran (in pink), Susan Brubaker Knapp (glasses) and Lyric Kinard

And too much fun not to include, Susan and I taking pictures of each other taking pictures!

And too much fun not to include, Susan and I taking pictures of each other taking pictures!