Eleven Years of blogging and some letters….

August 21st, 2016

According to my calendar, today is my 11th Blogoversary.  Yes, I have more or, most recently, less been blogging for eleven years!   To mark the occasion, I’m sharing a photo from this week’s Photo Challenge (a follow on to the class I did with Ricky Tims last year).  Instead of doing my initials, I chose to do Eli’s since he will be leaving for college (SOB) shortly.  I’ll thrill you all I’m sure with dorm move-in pics, and will do my darnedest not to start crying until after we leave campus.  The photo challenge theme for this week is Found Alphabet.  I actually teach a Quilting Design class which uses this “learning to see” exercise (Info is here, scroll down to Quilting Design).

Since I teach a class where found alphabet is a major component I almost skipped this week; our son heads to college in a couple days.   But I decided to give it a quick go using only the grout lines from our stone fireplace; I also opted to do Eli’s initials:  WEKS.   The W is a mirror image of the center stone (I’ll post the full fireplace in my Flickr album), cropped, and squeezed in from the sides.  The E is flipped horizontally, the S flipped vertically, and the K is a shot taken on the diagonal.   It’s gonna be hard being an empty nester.  Our lives have revolved around Eli’s sports for so long, every week a meet.  This year, none.  I know I will have more than enough to fill the hole, but still.   Spent the morning copying his iPod playlists so I can play them when I am feeling homesick for him.

Since  our son leaves for college soon and I’m busy, I almost skipped this week; . But I decided to give it a quick go using only the grout lines from our stone fireplace; I also opted to do Eli’s initials: WEKS.  The W is a mirror image of the center stone (I’ll post the full fireplace in my Flickr album), cropped, and squeezed in from the sides. The E is flipped horizontally, the S flipped vertically, and the K is a shot taken on the diagonal.

Here is a photo of the fireplace, source of the letters.

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All the letters were “found” in our fireplace. 

It’s gonna be hard being an empty nester. Our lives have revolved around Eli’s sports for so long, every week a meet. This year, none. I know I will have more than enough to fill the hole, but still. Spent the morning copying his iPod playlists so I can play them when I am feeling homesick for him.  Maybe I’ll even spend some of that time blogging…what a concept!

 

The Nest: a new approach to surface design

July 30th, 2016

For most folks who are in to surface design, the surface design is the goal.  For me, the surface design is to create cloth to use in my collaged artwork.  Rather than hunt (and hunt and hunt) for fabric that works, I make my own, using both my own hand-dyed fabrics and commercial fabrics, especially batiks.  In my new class, The Nest, I teach this project as a way to learn several surface design techniques and get you started.  I’ll be teaching this class for the first time (officially) at International Quilt Festival, Houston (class link here) on Thursday afternoon, Class 496.

The main class project for my class The Nest:  a new approach to surface design.

The main class project for my class The Nest: a new approach to surface design.  Right click photo to view a bit larger.

I provide a kit (with a fee) with paint, brush; hand-dyed floss, perle cotton and cheesecloth; Sarah’s custom thermofax screen (yours to keep) and more.  You provide the fabric and willingness to play!  The class can be either half or full day; in Houston, it is a half day class.
Since Houston is THE big quilting event in the world, it pays to prepare, so thanks to my local peeps, I did a “test run” on the class to work out timing and make sure everything was clear.   THANK YOU to my Coastal Quilters for helping me out…you were great, and the class helped me immensely (like I can only fit two projects, not 3, in a 3-hour class!).

aside

A detail of the project, and some intermediate steps

Step one in the class is to get your paint!

Step one in the class is to get your paint!  You can see a thermofax screen soaking in the basin.

Step one is to print your plain cloth with my custom Queen Anne's Lace screen.

Step one is to print your plain cloth with my custom Queen Anne’s Lace screen.

You can go wild and make this project totally your own

You can go wild and make this project totally your own

Or you can follow the project.  This student is on her second layer, starting to create her nest.

Or you can follow the project. This student is on her second layer, starting to create her nest.

While the paint dries on the Nest, you work on a “free play” exercise, then switch back and forth as the layers dry.  You can make your own stamps (supplies provided), use materials I bring to share, or bring your own from home.

Student stamps.  I think I need to make a flying geese stamp!

Student stamps. I think I need to make a flying geese stamp!

I LOVE this student piece.  It would work perfectly as a background or cut and used in a naturescape.

I LOVE this student piece. It would work perfectly as a background or cut and used in a naturescape.

And another layer.  You can go as simple or as busy as you like.

And another layer. You can go as simple or as busy as you like.

Jim Vander Noot is an experienced art quilter and I LOVE this layered piece.  He began with writing, then added the thermofax screen of keys (from Lyric Kinard, LyricKinard.com, she also makes custom screens)

Jim Vander Noot is an experienced art quilter and I LOVE this layered piece. He began with writing, then added the thermofax screen of keys (from Lyric Kinard, LyricKinard.com, she also makes custom screens)

Jim added more layering, and here's the last time I saw this.  LOVE IT.

Jim added more layering, and 

here's the last time I saw this. LOVE IT.

here’s the last time I saw this. LOVE IT.

My thermofax screen designs are available at Fiber on a Whim, I’ll have some for sale in class, and Jan Girod and Kristin Rodriguez (who are Fiber on a Whim) will be vending in a booth on the show floor at Houston.  Artists have my complete permission to use my screens in their artwork, including works that will be sold or exhibited (but of course you can’t copy my designs and sell them…you know how it works!).

Student 1

Student 1, work in progress–if any of my CQ peeps remember whose work this is, please let me know so I can attribute it!

Student 2, work in progress

Student 2, work in progress

Student 3, Linda Satkowski finished her nest!

Student 3, Linda Satkowski finished her nest!I love the fluffy white wool bits that totally look like feathers.  One student even suggested you can BUY feathers–they are readily available at stores that supply fly fishermen.  COOL idea!  Thank you so much Linda for finishing this and letting me share it.  GREAT job!

So I hope you’ll be inspired by my local quilty friends–I sure am!   And I hope you’ll be able to join me in Houston (or have your guild hire me to come to teach YOU at home!).  See you in November!

 

 

 

 

Teaching at Int’l Quilt Festival Houston 2016

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!

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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

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!

Baker’s Heaven: King Arthur Flour

May 15th, 2016
Viewing window, the King Arthur Flour bakery. An air vent nearby was exuding the heavenly scent of rising bread.

Viewing window, the King Arthur Flour bakery. An air vent nearby was exuding the heavenly scent of rising bread.

During Eli’s Spring Break, after visiting his college, we decided to visit a Nature center in Vermont on the way home–a rather circuitous but enjoyable route.  And I discovered two places I totally love were on the way:  King Arthur Flour and Ben & Jerry’s!   Today, it’s baking:

Framed and in the hallway at the beautiful facility King Arthur has where they make flour, bread, have a cafe, a store (swoon), and host classes/workshops!

Framed and in the hallway at the beautiful facility King Arthur has where they make flour, bread, have a cafe, a store (swoon), and host classes/workshops!

The view as you drive up:

Turning in to the drive.

Turning in to the drive.

From the parking lot. Busy even on a mid-April weekday! Buildings are gorgeous!

From the parking lot. Busy even on a mid-April weekday! Buildings are gorgeous!

Panorama shot on my iPhone of the bakery

Panorama shot on my iPhone of the bakery

Panorama shot with the bakery at my back, of the cafe, hall to the shop, etc.

Panorama shot with the bakery at my back, of the cafe, hall to the shop, etc.  Jacquie–lunch here in June!

I’m happy that I’m taking a brief foray to Vermont Quilt Festival in late June and will stop and visit my friend Jacquie, and she’s agreed to go on a drive up to Norwich and visit.  She’ll be more amenable to browsing than my guys LOL!