09 Dec

Back to Art School

I finished my homework. Insprired by Karoda, Gerrie, Mary M, et al, I am also doing the exercises from Color and Composition.” Here’s the first “blind” contour drawing:

Contour Drawing 1

Sorry about the bad quality of the scans. They aren’t actually scans, as my scanner isn’t currently talking to my new computer. I had to resort to the digital camera. But I digress; here’s the “semi blind” drawing:

Contour Drawing 2

I spent 20 minutes on each of these. Then I got sidetracked for about 2 weeks and did the final drawing yesterday. Wouldn’t you know, the orchids have moved in a desperate search for the sun.

Contour Drawing 3

I enjoyed the drawing and really, really, really need to keep up with it. I’d love to draw 20 minutes a day, but, well, life keeps getting in the way. I look forward to next week’s exercise: contour cutting and sewing.

06 Dec

39 has been a great year

We don’t normally do a “what we did this year” holiday letter, nor am I apt to do an end of the year summary in letter or diary form, but as of last night I’m kinda feeling the urge.

Normally our years are defined by TS&WGH’s job — is he home, or in other parts of Germany, or Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq; what’s he doing? command, school, counting beans, creating Power Point masterpieces, etc. Kids usually come next — how old are they now, how’s school, what activities are exciting them, etc.

Ha, this year actually was a banner one for me! I started off the year by finally finishing the Travel Europe quilt which had taken me four years from first concept to completion. I thought it had potential as a block of the month pattern for begining and intermediate quilters, especially those who are in the military “family” — the type of people I interact with all the time. So, with the support of TS&WGH, I hauled off and had the patterns professionally printed. (Then, of course, I immediately moved on and virtually abandoned that direction in my quilting.) I also began teaching the block of the month as a class at the Arts & Crafts Center on post, as well as other begining quilting classes. The best part has been that I can teach most anything I want, as often or little as I want. I had been teaching at our previous post as well, but it took the previous four years for me to figure out what it is that I have to offer, and how/what I enjoy teaching. This was the year I feel it all came together nicely.

Class at work

I decided this year to take myself seriously as a quiltist (my friend Page coined this term and I like it); and I made a definite paradigm change from traditional quilts to quilts that are, for me, more experimental, and definitely more in tune with my art school training and few years as a graphic designer.

In springtime, I finished “Abby” for my SIL. I love it, she LOVES it, she entered it in the Marin Needle Arts & Quilt show and they loved it (3rd place)! What a great feeling! It also hung at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley in October.

Abby and Betsy

I have been quilting like a mad woman and have churned out over a half dozen quilts or wall hangings this year. I’ve been trying embellishment, different piecing and fusing techniques, and working on my machine quilting. My work is all over the place, but maybe next year will be the year of focus. I attribute my productivity to the fact that my kids were both in school this year, for the first time! My family also upgraded me from my 40 year old sewing machine to a fancy schmancy new one last birthday/Xmas.

TS&WGH (Tech Support & World’s Greatest Husband, for the majority of you who have probably not been reading this since it’s na├»sance) insisted that I needed a website if I was going to be serious about anything, and also urged me to blog. I’m quite pleased with the website (though we’ll be changing programs soon due to purchase of cool new iMac and now I am supposed to be the one to create the site — yikes!). And blogging, well that’s opened myriad new doors for me. I have met so many other wonderful quilters/fiber artists and don’t feel nearly so isolated as an artist myself. And I’m absolutely loving the insight into people’s creative processes — thank you all so much for sharing! I had no idea blogging would be so inspirational. I must send a special shout-out to Melody Johnson for drawing me into this fabu world!

Me & Mrs. Mel

I went to Art Quilt Tahoe this year. Wow! I learned so much, and had so much fun. I never expected to meet so many talented people (and must admit, though I’m in awe of the teachers, I was completely humbled by the student work as well), and I cherish the friendships I made. To top it off, I won their scholarship to next year’s conference!!!!!!! I never expected I could actually go back and experience it again.

This year, I actually had the nerve to ask a moonlighting co-worker, who’s a budding curator in her real life, if she’d be willing to help me put together a show. I am now willing to share that it looks like I will be having a show next autumn at the German American Institute in Heidelberg. Now I just need to keep making quilts for it, as I have no theme or series in my work. That’s what I’m working on now.

This week, I have the opportunity to learn how to quilt on a long arm machine. I spent some time this morning practicing and I have to admit, it’s a bit addictive. I hope to trade time working on orders for the shop for time working on my own projects. We’ll see how this all turns out. Any way it goes though, I now have another tool to add to my toolbelt.


Way back in the begining of this blog I mentioned that last night was significant. When I came home from long arming, there were two envelopes from Road to California quilt show waiting for me. I had written the show off as notification of accepted quilts was to be at the end of November, and since I completed Katja’s Owlz, all quilts made before it have paled. However, Road to California seems to think that Abby and Seaweed? are worth showing to the world! Rene from my AQT class said that if you like your quilt then enter it. Don’t second guess what judges will think. Yeah Rene, thanks for the great advice!

I turn 40 next week and I couldn’t be happier ­čÖé

05 Dec

Long Arming

I learned how to use a long arm quilting machine today! OK, no proficiency here, but I did receive instruction in pinning backing, batting, and a top onto the rails, and then threading the machine , and interpreting the buttons. The Arts and Crafts Center on post just bought the machine in order to provide a quilting service to the military community, and I am lucky enough to be cozy with the shop and therefore got in on the training today. I see it as an opportunity to learn a skill that could be useful, to finish some of my own projects while improving my skills, and to help out here by becoming one of the shop’s quilters. As I practiced some feathers and leaves, I was awed by the way the machine kept all the stitches so even, no matter what I did. But I was also stuck by how different manipulating a quilt in a home machine is from guiding a long arm! The two skills are really apples and oranges. So today was introduction to the machine and the rest of the week is practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of free time this week, so I’ll have to squeeze my practice, practice, practice in later in the coming months. What an opportunity!!!!!!

Ego boost of the day: Myrna, our instructor (and an award winning quilter in her own right) thought my Katja’s Owlz quilt was absolutely cool and that I should enter it in shows ASAP!

02 Dec

Love/Hate Xmas

Around Christmas, I have a love/hate relationship with living outside the US, yet having mostly Stateside friends and family. All cards and gifts must be made or purchased, and then addressed, and mailed before the 15th of December in order to guarantee delivery by Xmas. This year it’s the 9th for some reason. I hate this because I have to coordinate everything while I am still in the post Thanksgiving denial that Christmas is even that close (which, technically it’s not), and I’ve barely even had the chance to visit the Weihnachtmarkts. On the other hand, I’m loving life after the 15th when everyone else is gearing up into full frenzy mode; I’m done and can sit back and eat cookies and drink Gl├╝hwein.

This year, I was far too distracted and busy to do much of anything about our holiday cards. But, ex-graphic designer that I am, I always feel that just because I can make nice cards a la Martha, I should. I was relieved when TS&WGH said he’d get something at the PX, and then secretly even more relieved when he didn’t actually get around to it.

The design of this year’s card had to be something super duper simple that I could whip out pretty quickly. Bonus that I could incorporate my sewing machine, since this year has been all about my decision to become a quilt artist (not there yet, but the journey counts). Double bonus that I could enlist the kids’ help in stamping the letters. I wish that I could have reached into my magic box of paper and pull out enough envelopes and cards to decorate, but that was last year’s cop out! I wasn’t thinking any deep thoughts when I created these, but I like that it almost looks like I was. I could say that the fluttery papers hanging from a line are inspired by Tibetan prayers (goes well with Peace), but that’s a bit too trendy eastern philosphy for me. My favorite interpretation is that Peace has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Too bad it’s my own country doing the kidnapping and my husband is part of the ransom “money” (obviously, along with the thousands of others on both sides of the playing field(s)). Peace to all.

Xmas Card 2005