My DVD in QA’s Top 25!

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.

 

England 2014: Thursday the 14th

October 11th, 2014

Thursday was a travel day for us, with the morning spent in London at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, and wending our way to East Anglia for our week on the road with our BritRail passes.   The trains are lacking in quaintness now (no more compartments with sliding / slamming doors and wrought iron overhead luggage racks), but they are modern, clean and fast, and go nearly EVERYwhere!

The view of the alley behind our hotel in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington  part of London.  Notice the silver car on the left.

The view of the alley behind our hotel in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington part of London. Notice the silver car on the left. The cool funky one.

So we went down to see what it was.  It’s a Morgan, a make I’d never heard of before.   I now know why:  I could save every penny I earn for the next two decades and I’d still not be able to afford one.  It is a new car made to look old–really cool, roadster old.

The Morgan.  Oh my.  Beautiful REAL wood dashboard, leather everywhere, oh my.  I remember the ferries to San Juan Island...so low-slung it probably couldn't get on/off the ferry!

The Morgan. Oh my. Beautiful REAL wood dashboard, leather everywhere, oh my. I remember the ferries to San Juan Island…so low-slung it probably couldn’t get on/off the ferry!  Made by hand.  I’m not sure Tom Cruise could even afford one of these!  According to Wikipedia there is a six month waiting list to buy one, but has been measured in years at some points!  We chatted a bit with the guy in the photo who worked there…if I recall, they start around 200,000 pounds sterling.   Start at that price.   As I shall never be a Saudi prince, I don’t think I can afford one.

Next we went on to the National Gallery.  Eli was enchanted with the street artists.  This shot is from the entrance to the gallery which overlooks Trafalgar Square.  Though it doesn't look too crowded, it was.   An English friend had been the day before and said the crowds in London were as thick as she had seen in some 70 years!

Next we went on to the National Gallery. Eli was enchanted with the street artists. This shot is from the entrance to the gallery which overlooks Trafalgar Square. Though it doesn’t look too crowded, it was. An English friend had been the day before and said the crowds in London were as thick as she had seen in some 70 years! I love England, I love London, but I think if/when I return it will be in early February to avoid the hordes of tourists.

It's not the best photo, but I have always been captured by this painting of the Execution of Lady Jane Gray.   The silk of her gown glows.

It’s not the best photo, but I have always been captured by this painting of the Execution of Lady Jane Gray. The silk of her gown glows.

Just look at the mastery in the painting!

Just look at the mastery in the painting!

And a close up of the velvet gown of Lady Gray's lady in waiting.

And a close up of the velvet gown of Lady Gray’s lady in waiting.  It was fascinating to see what bits were in exquisite detail, and which were less finely detailed, like the straw (see first photo), causing your eye to focus on the sharply defined items.   The luster of the pearls, too, in the rosary she holds here.

An Odilon Redon...look at that seductive color.

An Odilon Redon…look at that seductive color.  The face in the lower right, the soft and crisp edges.

Eli, of course, wasn’t as enchanted with the art, but humored me.  He is a good traveling companion.  He grasps the concept of Mom needs to see some stuff, Eli gets to see some stuff.  We allow for the other person’s interests.  What a concept!

As I was whizzing through one of the galleries when Eli had temporarily disappeared (it turns out to find a men’s room, which of course is located in the distant basement reached by stairs at the end of the building so it takes forever to get there and back), I snapped these two photos while searching for my disappeared son:

I think this was one of the Cranachs, the Elder?

I think this was one of the Cranachs, yep, Cranach the Elder.

Look at the detail on the textiles!

Look at the detail on the textiles!  Think quilt designs!

Back in the Impressionist rooms were a couple Van Gogh paintings.  Love this humble village.

Back in the Impressionist rooms were a couple Van Gogh paintings. Love this humble village.

Does this Van Gogh look vaguely familiar?  Add a night sky with sworls of gold and you've got Starry Night....

Does this Van Gogh look vaguely familiar? Add a night sky with sworls of gold and you’ve got Starry Night….I LOVE being able to go up close and see the brush strokes.   I may need to try to do a sky like that in a landscape quilt.

And of course I had to take a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, though I prefer my dragons friendly and alive, thank you veddy much.

And of course I had to take a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, though I prefer my dragons friendly and alive, thank you veddy much.  By Gustave Moreau.

And how can you not LOVE a nation that has a sense of humor.  There were some wonderful mosaic floors in the National Gallery (so many people forget to look UP and then look DOWN):

A pub sign that says Rest and be thankful in the mosaic floor.

A pub sign that says Rest and be thankful in the mosaic floor.

And my very favorite of the mosaics:  MUD PIES!

Mud Pies mosaic floor, UK National Gallery, London, England

Mud Pies mosaic floor, UK National Gallery, London, England.  And I’m sorry this is sideways–Photoshop Elements and whatever are NOT cooperating with letting me turn it right side up.  Anyway, ya gotta love a nation that will made a mudpie mosaic!

In the afternoon, we took the train to east of London to Woodbridge, because the next day we were going to the site of the Sutton Hoo burial ships.  I shared photos of some of the phenomenal artifacts that are housed in the British Museum earlier, here.

We stayed in a small B&B at the Station House, and our room was literally on top of the train station in Woodbridge, in East Anglia / Sussex.

We stayed in a small B&B at the Station House, and our room was literally on top of the train station in Woodbridge, in East Anglia / Sussex.

Our view looked over the train tracks to the river.  Apart from a group of 30 or so inebriated 20 somethings heading to the last train at about 10 pm, it was lovely!

The view from our room to the river, across the tracks.

The view from our room to the river, across the tracks.

There is beauty everywhere:

Flowers popping up by the picnic table

Flowers popping up by the picnic table

We wandered about the small town, which Eli and I decided was about the same size as Belfast, Maine, just north of us.  Eli found a shirt and pullover jacket for school!  And I spotted this pillow in the window of a shop–so want to pull out my paints and play and sketch!

Don't you just love hedgehogs?  If you do, you'll like what we did a week later.  Stay tuned!

Don’t you just love hedgehogs? If you do, you’ll like what we did a week later. Stay tuned!

And we had the most scrumptious dinner–one of the best I’ve ever had.  I think it was called the Table restaurant.

Dinner--Eli had salmon, I had massuman (?) curry.  SLURP.  I was well behaved and did NOT lick the plate.

Dinner–Eli had salmon, I had massuman (?) curry. SLURP. I was well behaved and did NOT lick the plate.

And since dinner was so good, we had dessert.

Chocolate mocha pot de creme with fresh mint (homemade) ice cream, with crushed chocolate cookie bits

Chocolate mocha creme anglaise with fresh mint (homemade) ice cream, with crushed chocolate cookie bits.  At least I thought to snap a picture after just the first bite.  Because it went as slowly as I could manage, which wasn’t too slow at all.  SLURP.

As you can see, I continued to exercise Herculean restraing in not licking the plate, but managed quite well with my spoon.

As you can see, I continued to exercise Herculean restraint in not licking the plate, but managed quite well with my spoon.

Next trip when I get to London, I shall schedule some alone time so I can dawdle to my heart’s content in the art galleries, but it was a wonderful day.  I got to see the painting I most wanted to see again (Jane Gray) as well as more.  And finish with a top notch supper in a very pleasant small town.

Thermofax screens galore!

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!

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!

England 2014: the 13th, Stonehenge

October 4th, 2014

This late afternoon visit is one of the memorable moments of my life.   If you stick with me and go through this post, you’ll not only see photos, but two short videos I took while walking inside, so you get to walk along with me!

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm.  On a typical summer’s day, some 3000 tourists visit Stonehenge, which is located on the Salisbury Plain.  They must keep to this walkway around the stones because they were being loved to death, with folks compacting the soil so much it was disturbing the structures.  But with our after-hours tour, we got to go inside.

The tour Eli and I took, with Premium Tours and here, visited Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge (first part of the day blogged about here).  For a considerable (but worth it!) sum, a few companies are allowed to bring a tour bus in at either sunrise or sunset, before or after the general public is allowed in, so you have the grounds to yourself.  Since at least when I was in school in England in 1978, you couldn’t walk near to the stones but on a path a distance away (where I took this first photo).  Now, these groups are allowed (in groups of 25) INSIDE the CIRCLE!  Keep reading…the best, longest video is toward the end of the post in sequence.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face.  The new wonderful visitor's center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face. The new wonderful visitor’s center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago. Just to the left of Eli’s head, about the level of his chin, you can see a structure beyond the fence post…that’s it.  Seems small on the broad horizon.  Just wait!

The official sign near the visitor's center

The official sign near the visitor’s center

From that perimeter pathway.  As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

From that perimeter pathway. As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone.  Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze....

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone. Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze….the hush as we all stood looking.  There were the 50 people on the bus, our tour guide and two security guards.  LOTS better than a throng of thousands like during the day!

The site allows only 25 persons at a time inside the circle, and you are not allowed to touch the stones.  Luckily, Eli and I got ourselves into the second group.

At one of the signs on the perimeter path--yes, we were really there!

At one of the signs on the perimeter path–yes, we were really there!

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down. Notice the guard on the left, to give a sense of how BIG these stones are!

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot.

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot. Just by the trees on his right is a major road, the equivalent of a US interstate.  They are working on relocating that major road farther away from the site.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside.  The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside. The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

From inside the circle.

From inside the circle.  That tallest stone in the center has a nipple on top:  at the top of each of the standing stones is a nipple with a corresponding divot on the under side of the lintel / cross-piece.  Amazing to think considering what tools they had when this was built.  

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird's nest.

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird’s nest.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

Here’s the first video, me turning around inside the circle; if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view):

Stonehenge 1-Inside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Decided to lay down on the grounds--no, didn't feel any deep vibrations or c ommunication from the other side!

Decided to lay down on the grounds–no, didn’t feel any deep vibrations or communication from the other side!

Eli at Stonehenge.

Eli at Stonehenge.

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

And the second video, walking around the stone circle.  Remember, if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view).  Come walk with me and listen to the wind and sigh:

Stonehenge 2–Outside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Then the sunset began to glow…OH MY!

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014.   SIGH.  Contentment.

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014. SIGH. Contentment.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze...Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze…Stonehenge, August 2014.

Everyone was just awed–we were all walking around smiling and awed from ear to ear.   It was a long day, and at about 8 pm we began the trip back to London and our hotels.  Worth.  Every.  Penny.   Expensive, but worth it.   A memory for a lifetime, and so glad I got to share it with Eli.  SIGH.   Contentment.