Archive for the ‘Quilt Inspiration’ 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!

 

 

 

 

Autumn on Blueberry Lane

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

This quilt was inevitable.    Right click to view larger.  That thing in the middle is the needle bar of my Bernina Q20.  Notice the difference as I lay in the grasses along the edge of the driveway:  done on the far left, upper grass done on the near left, upper and lower grasses done on the near right (but not the tall grass which will happen in the final pass back to the right), and no stitching at all.

This photo is not the full quilt, but the quilt is a strong horizontal, and this shows more of it than I’ve shared to date on Facebook.  I’ll share the full quilt in mid March when I tape my Quilting Arts TV episode on one of the techniques I’ve developed and used in this quilt.

The photo below, taken in October 2015, was my inspiration, along with every autumn blueberry barrens I have ever seen.  The colors in the wild blueberry bushes are just beyond belief.  So I dyed a lot of fabric and went to town!

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine.
The usual edits: smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

Hand dyeing fabric inspired by the blueberry barrens Maine (they look the same in Nova Scotia, too)

Same colors, different technique, scrunch

Scrunch and done. I used just about every single bit of this piece of fabric except for the more pink bits.   The blueberries are more of a russet and burgundy…this needs a touch more yellow in the red to get to that color.  

I’m still doing the facings and hanging sleeve…I’ll share the finished quilt in March, unless I change my mind and do it sooner!

 

 

Inspired by the National Parks

Friday, December 30th, 2016

2016 was a very good year for me, including being published in books and magazines.  It was also a very hectic year and I have neglected my blog and sharing my news, so I’m going to get caught up this week and next, at least on the published works.   One of the delights of the year was FINALLY being able to share a small quilt I made some time ago for an exhibit and book to celebrate the centennial of the founding of the US National Parks, website here.

Snowy Owl by Sarah Ann Smith, ©2015/2016

Part of the exhibit debuted at International Quilt Festival in late 2015, but the book was not released until Spring 2016, so we were asked not to share photos online.   For once, since my contribution was for Acadia National Park, I was not alphabetically challenged (with a name like Sarah Smith, I’m at the end no matter whether lists are done by first or last name).

Inspired by the National Parks, by Donna M. DeSoto. You can visit the exhibit website here and purchase the book here.

There were to be three categories of quilts:  Landscape, Flora and Fauna.  The landscape quilt is a long vertical or horizontal.  The Flora and Fauna quilts are squares.  When displayed together, the three works create a square.  Subject to availability, those participating got to choose which  theme and the subject, as long as someone else hadn’t already chosen.  For example, blueberries are very Maine, but they are also part of the scenery in other northern tier states and were already gone.  To be blunt, this could have been a disaster.  Instead, the work exceeds all expectations and forms the most wonderful whole.  I so wish I could see the entire exhibit **in person.**

In the book, Donna has contributions from one of the US Park Rangers working at each of the national parks, writing about the park, along with tidbits of information about each place.

Inspired by the National Parks, Table of Contents

The next photo shows the opening for Acadia National Park, here in Maine:

Acadia National Park, opening pages with statement from a park ranger and the landscape quilt, by Cyndi Zacheis Souder.

And the flora and fauna quilts for Acadia, including my snowy owl.  They wisely edged the photo with a fine line of black so it wouldn’t “moosh” into the page!

Water Lily by Audrey Wing Lipps and Snowy Owl by me

A couple years ago, there was an “irruption” of Snowy Owls, meaning they migrated a lot further south than usual, and were relatively easy to spot here in Maine.   I added the Snowy Owl to my birder’s “life list” that winter.  I went to Clarry Hill in Union, where two or three owls had been spotted.  I walked along the path through the blueberry barrens on the bare hilltop, but nothing.  As I was about to turn around, I spotted one at a great distance (beyond the no trespassing signs), so I was happy, but no good photos.  Then I returned to the car.  As I approached the car park, I turned and saw an owl in a tree growing next to a stone wall…camera OUT!   Snap! Snap!  Snap!  Thank heavens for auto-focus.

This was about 4 pm, as the sun was beginning to set. There was an owl in the tree on the ridgeline!  The owl had followed me down the path and was checking me out!

The owl few even closer, so I got some better images. I still get goosebumps looking at this photo! To hear the rustle of an owl’s wings and landing….wow!  Hopefully, one of these days Sony will make an even longer focal length zoom for my a6000 mirrorless camera…I am saving already because it WILL be expensive, but worth it!  I am inspired by Jeannie Sumjall Ajero’s nature photos she shares on Facebook.

When it came time to make my quilt, I couldn’t decide which view.  So I messed around in Photoshop, and thought, well why not BOTH?

A composite photo image that was my guideline. I obviously adjusted the branches and the placement of the stone wall/tree in the final work.

The subtle winter palette is challenging in terms of finding fabric, so I dyed some cotton sateen.  Despite being stingy with the dye, my first attempt there was too much color, so I tried again and got just the pale tones I needed.

I created the bird on white cloth, used stabilizer, and did the very heavy stitching on the bird first, then appliquéd her (probably a female because there is a lot of barring, the brown bits) to the smaller close-up image.   I then composed the background quilt and appliqués the smaller one to the larger one.   I’ll enjoy having her fly home eventually.  Until then, if you get a chance to see this exhibit, DO!   And no matter what, the book is a delightful volume.   The **Library of Congress** has included the book in a display this year…how amazingly cool is that?  Kudos to Donna and all the artists.  Exceptionally well done!

You can order the book on Amazon here.  What a great thing to do on a long winter’s day!

 

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!

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 4.39.58 PM

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!

 

The most beautiful place on Earth

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Yesterday evening, I dropped Eli off at a teammate’s home for the weekly Cross Country team potluck Spaghetti dinner.  The house is on Appleton Ridge Road, which has some of the most stunning views in the area, so I took the scenic route home.  Then today, on a quest for small halogen bulbs for our under counter kitchen lights, I took the back road–Barnestown to Gillette to Hope Roads to route 17.   OH MY… I truly live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and this is the finest example of autumn in the decade we have called Maine home.   Enjoy (and tell me you don’t want to grab paint and dye and play).  Click on photos to view larger.:

on Hope Road in south Hope, Maine.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

on Hope Road in south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith.  The colorful foreground is wild blueberry barrens.  Rockport in the background.

Friday evening on Appleton Ridge Road in Appleton/Washington, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Friday evening on Appleton Ridge Road in Appleton/Washington, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking west from Appleton Ridge Road at sunset.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking west from Appleton Ridge Road at sunset. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Sumac at Barnestown and Gillette roads, Hope, Maine.

Sumac at Barnestown and Gillette roads, Hope, Maine.

From Gillette Road in south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

From Hope Road in south Hope, Maine, looking back towards Gillette Road.  I am pretty sure this is the back side of Ragged Mountain. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

South Hope, Maine.  There is a trail head near here and I keep promising myself I'm going to go hiking there.  Maybe early this week as a treat?

South Hope, Maine. There is a trail head near here and I keep promising myself I’m going to go hiking there. Maybe early this week as a treat?

Tree and wild blueberry barrens on Hope Road, south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Tree and wild blueberry barrens on Hope Road, south Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking towards Rockport from Hope Road, Hope, Maine.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Looking towards Rockport from Hope Road, Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Hatvhet Mountain as seen from in front of the Hope General Store.  Hope, Maine.  Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Hatchet Mountain as seen from in front of the Hope General Store. Hope, Maine. Photo (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Sure wish I’d had my good camera with me, but thank heavens for the iPhone Camera!