24 Apr

Just Checking in

So often it’s hard to blog because I’m just not sure what to blog about. For lack of any finished projects or deep thoughts, here’s a random sampling of what’s going on in my world right now.

There’s been a lot of work on our house projects, both by me and my mom and by hired pros, but nothing is quite finished yet.

Bathroom Vanity

Bathroom Vanity in progress: pro built, stained by me, I added hardware, waiting on a countertop and plumbing.

I took a block printing workshop with Valori Wells yesterday (through the Portland Modern Quilt Guild) which was lots of fun and jump started my thinking about fabric designs again.

Block Printing

I’m super happy with how these designs turned out — both from a printing standpoint, and a design standpoint.

I’m plugging away at several stitchy projects…

Project Chair

Hand stitching at the ready for quiet evenings.

… which have taken over and made more of a mess than anything else!

Project Table

Lots of work in progress on my studio table and sewing machine. Nothing worth showing yet though.

Work at The Pine Needle is excellent, and I’ve got some behind the scenes projects I’m working on with the team in preparation of summer shop hops and our Fall catalog.

The Pine Needle

This is where I work — surrounded by a wide variety of gorgeous fabrics. That yellow, teal, and maroon whirligig sample in the middle of the photo is one I made. I’m working on an asian-inspired version now.

I hope you all are knee deep in fulfilling projects too; every little bit counts, even if doesn’t seem very blog- or Instagram-worthy.

05 Mar

I will not work on spec. I will not work on spec. I will not work on spec.

I am a content Active SAQA member. I see many benefits of membership in this professional organization. A Call for Entries today got me excited. An opportunity for me to try again at fabric design (the Hawaiian designs I shopped around a few years ago were flops)! I read the details with anticipation.

Andover Fabrics (formerly Concord) will print and market a collection of cotton fabrics branded with the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) name and logo – the SAQA Urban Textures fabric collection. A percentage of sales of the collection fabrics will go to support SAQA in our 25th Anniversary Year – 2014!

Until I got to this part…where my heart sank.

You will be asked to agree with these Terms and Conditions:
This set of designs is my original design. I understand that my designs may be altered in order to be successfully used for the SAQA Urban Textures fabric collection. I agree to give Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. copyright to these designs, including all rights, titles, and interest in and to the designs. If my design collection is selected, I will sign a transfer document transferring copyright to Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. I UNDERSTAND THAT I AM ENTERING THIS COMPETITION TO SUPPORT SAQA AND WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY MONETARY REMUNERATION.

Did you catch the part in all caps? Flashback to my graphic design days. AIGA’s position discourages the inherent discount of the most important element of most design project — the research, thoughtful consideration of alternatives, and creative contribution designers make toward client’s objectives that occurs when working without commitment or compensation from the client. I think the same concepts can be applied here. So I sent off an email to SAQA’s president, and the competition’s juror:

Dear Martha and Luana,

Wow, everywhere I turn, there’s a new line of fabric being promoted or created. The variety available to the consumer is amazing. So it pleases me to see SAQA approached as a possible source of unique designs. I am also in support of seeking out new and different ways to promote SAQA and art quilts in general. I appreciate SAQA and the opportunities I have found through the organization.

As a former graphic designer, a current art quilter, and an artist whose subject matter often includes villages and homes, I got excited reading the call for entries. Finally, here was a project that might actually be appropriate for me to pursue. However, when I worked as a graphic designer, we as a profession were always cautioned not to do work on spec. To develop sketches and ideas, the difficult intellectual and creative part of design, for free, with only a hope that it may be selected, devalues the work of the designer. So you can imagine my disappointment when I read the terms of Call for Entry. Not only would NONE of the competing artists get paid for their work, they would also have to pay their way into the competition. An artist paying to do work on spec?! What that shows me is that Andover and SAQA place absolutely no value on my, or any of the artists’ creativity — our strongest asset.

I can’t imagine that Kaffe Fasset, Jinny Beyer, Amy Butler, Thomas Knauer, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, or any of the myriad fabric designers whose collections are the billboards of the major fabric companies today are creating their designs without monetary compensation. Exposure is a canard as well. New lines of fabric are introduced and replaced at the speed of light and buzz for a few weeks at Quilt Market is hardly worth the devaluation of one’s artistic capability.

While I appreciate the effort to expand SAQA’s footprint into other aspects of the quilt world, I’m afraid that I cannot support this project. I will not enter any designs. In addition, I will encourage my colleagues not to submit as well.


Kristin La Flamme

While I don’t expect the parameters of this particular project to be changed, I hope that SAQA will take into consideration the value of our intellect and creativity when the next opportunity arises. Perhaps a few potential applicants will re-think submitting and send emails themselves. Ideally, Andover will see a little more value in those with the potential to create the products upon which their business thrives, though I’m not holding my breath. Finally, I’m feeling deflated. Disappointed. Once again, a conviction of mine has closed a door on opportunity. I’m sorry it has to be this way.

07 Nov

Inspiration Sunday

Sunday again and time to post another inspiration. Last week I promised more tropical designs. I would be remiss if I didn’t include taro (also called kalo) in a Hawaiian collection. The ancients considered kalo to be the older brother of mankind — to be respected and honored, but that which also sustains man. The starchy staple foodstuff, poi, is made from kalo corms and is greyish purple in color. The leaves have a distinctive heart shape, and are also used in cooking.

I tried an illustration of the corm, but preferred the simpler leaf shape. The purple background and the circles are my reference to poi.

(click for a closer look)

Previous Inspiration Sundays are here, and here, with the original Inspiration Sunday-er here.

31 Oct

Inspiration Sunday

It’s that time of the week to show a photo or thing and a quilt or design that was inspired by it. I’m working on a quilt that is directly inspired by a road near my house, but since it’s close to being done, I’ll wait until it’s complete to share it. In the mean time, I’ve got more pattern designs and their inspiration to share.

This is a plant native to Hawai’i called Naupaka. It has a wonderful legend attached to it and I was immediately drawn to it. I go by several naupaka plants when I walk around my neighborhood and they got me to thinking about how to translate the flower and it’s story into a quilt or design. It wasn’t long before I had a collection of designs based on local flora.

This is the first, and still my favorite, of the designs (click for a better look). I had it printed (by the half yard, on demand) at Spoonflower so that I could make things with it. Next Sunday, I’ll share another design and it’s inspiration.

PS: Sherri Lynn inspired Inspiration Sunday — check out what’s inspiring her.

27 May

Tiki Toile

I’ve been dabbling in Spoonflower. I first used their services to create fabric with my kids’ drawings to use as lining for the Army  Daddy messenger bag. I used them to print the Hawaiian themed fabric I designed and used those samples to propose the designs to several fabric and paper companies (nothing came of it, but it was worth a try).

Part of the fun of Spoonflower is that not only do they provide a wonderful service printing custom fabrics, but they are also creating a community — and part of that includes fun weekly fabric contests. I was soooo disappointed that their Mixed Martial Arts Smackdown theme was just an April Fool’s joke — I was totally ready to design some kickboxing fabric and then use it to make a tote bag for my paddles and boxing gloves! But I digress. A while ago they had a toile contest and I thought, “how fun would it be to continue my Hawaiian fabric theme with a tiki toile?!” I didn’t get my act together in time, but I didn’t give up the idea either.

Then, Spoonflower announced “Tiki” as an upcoming theme. Fate was telling me I needed to make the time to create this design! So here it is, Tiki Toile — from an alternate reality where the French colonized the Hawaiian islands instead of the Americans and English. Where tiki kitsch is early 19th century instead of mid 20th.

The tikis are roughly based on the Hawaiian gods Ku, Kane, and Lono, and are surrounded by plants, flowers, lei, and artifacts appropriate to ancient Hawai’i. Hopefully, one can appreciate the fun I had in combining such disparate art forms as tiki and toile and not take any more offense at my use of them than one would take at tikis in a mid-century beach shack party bar setting.

I had hoped to have a picture of my actual sample fabric, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Please do take the time though to go vote for my Tiki Toile, and/or your other favorite tiki themed fabric designs over at Spoonflower! Please cast your vote by June 3rd.

13 Jun

A Little (Kukui) Nutty

Why is it that as soon as I say (even just to myself) that I’m over something or not going to do it, I go and do it anyway? Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical.

A while a go I lamented the many directions I could/should go and wondered if would be beneficial to focus. After that post, I decided that although I would probably never be the type to focus completely and create a “brand” for myself, it would be OK to let a few things drop.

There are a million über-talented fabric designers out there that I couldn’t dream of competing with, (not being terribly fashion forward myself) and I had decided that as fun as exploring patterns based on local flora would be, my energies would be better spent on art quilts and home projects. My sketches were unceremoniously shoved to the back burner.

Until last week. I had reason to expand on one idea, and that, of course, built some momentum, which got the juices flowing, and now I have six designs uploaded to Spoonflower (private at this point) being made into swatches, just to see what a small collection would look like.

I had the idea that if my designs were picked up by a fabric company, I could donate the proceeds to an entity concerned with the study and preservation of Polynesian plants, or just plain conservation, like the National Tropical Botanical Garden, or Hawai’i Nature Center. I’m not particularly interested in opening up an Etsy or Big Cartel shop to sell fabrics at upwards of $18 per yard myself. I suspect this will go back to the end of the line now that I’ve gotten some of the fun part out of my system (not before making a list of nearly 20 plants that would be interesting to draw when the mood strikes again).

Speaking of the mood striking, Katja watched me using Adobe Illustrator to make my designs and wanted to make some herself. I think this is a perfect example of being inspired by something and yet making it uniquely one’s own. I’m also so proud of my daughter’s creativity, that really this post is mostly an excuse to show her off!

19 Apr

Still Scattered, But Slightly More Content About It

You guys are right. I can’t separate it all. Although my head says that showing the public a focused side of me where they can predict what I’ll produce (be it art quilts, craft ideas, a lifestyle type blog…) my heart knows that it’s just not me. What I really have to come to terms with is that to be the better person I want to be, I need to let go of the expectations or conventions of others. I need to stop comparing what I’m doing to what others are doing, and I need to define success for me only.

This post is evidence of that inability to separate that which excites me. I had what I thought was three separate posts swimming around in my head, but they kept converging. Bear with me as I just throw it all out at once.

I think it begins with the Ripple Afghan which is coming along nicely. I ripped it out and started over when I decided that I wanted more white. I contemplated leaving out a few colors, but once I added the white and toned down the orange with a half row of red, everything decided to play together well. I had originally imagined the color scheme as a beach wedding with red coral accents, but my daughter pointed out that it looked like lava to her and I love the way that tied my greyer colors in conceptually. So now, it’s a beach on a volcanic island (which I guess I really was from the start anyway).

As I’m rippling away, I’m watching the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. I’ve decided that I really like the ancient chanting dances known as Kahiko Hula. It’s very different from the Don Ho hotel show style that usually comes to mind, and it’s not the coconut bra, wild hips of Tahitian dance either. I highly recommend going here to KITV’s Merrie Monarch page and look for the column of videos. Under “Watch Hula Kahiko Hälau Performances” are videos that will probably challenge your ideas of what Hula is. Check out the Hälau Hula O Kahikilaulani under Wahine Kahiko. I love the way their grass skirts move! Hälau Ka Liko Pua O performed a chant from the coronation of King Kalakaua (you may remember him from one of my 12 x 12 chair quilts). Kane are men, and you might want to check them out too — there’s more than a few bare chests.

(via the Polynesian Cultural Center)

Under the same general list of videos, Cherissa Käne, Kaholo Panui, and Pohaikau’ilani Ann Nu’uhiwa show a nice variety of costume and style within the chant category. I found myself fascinated not only by the rhythm of the chants but also by the outfits. The sheer yardage amazes me — just think that all woven cotton fabric would have been imported by ship in the days after “contact.” Before that, when these story-telling Kahiko were at their peak, I’m pretty sure the dancers would have been wearing Kapa cloth meticulously pounded from tree bark and then patterned using small bamboo stamps. I can’t imagine pounding or purchasing enough cloth for the full Pau skirts. I believe the puffy hip wraps I saw on both men and women were meant to represent kapa cloth, which would probably tend to puff rather than drape. Even with those, there was a variety of ways they were fastened. And the tops were fascinating to. At first I thought they were all variations on the tube top, but I realized that the tight fitting ones were actually ingeniously wrapped around the womens’ torsos. Again, they looked like they’d need lots of yardage. The men wore all kinds of loin cloths or skirts over pants. Again, the fastening of all the fabric intrigued me. There were dry grass and fresh Ti leaf skirts too. Amazing.

Probably because of all the mesmerizing drums of the Kahiko I’m feeling the urge to work on my tropical fabric designs (I realize that even if that’s a go-nowhere direction for me, I still have the urge to pursue it).

I’ve been working on other fabric-y art quilt stuff too. Earlier in the week, I decided to play with my Setacolor light sensitive paints. I wasn’t too happy with the results, which I attribute to my using a loosely woven, re-purposed duvet cover and cardboard stencils. Today, I tried again, with finer PFD fabric, plus I found some eight year old cyanotype fabric I had forgotten I had. I cut shapes out of fun foam, and it worked a treat. I don’t have photos of today’s work, but here’s my secret project from November. I wrote a proposal for my Süße Sac shoulder bag pattern using various types of complex cloth one might have around after trying the many techniques found in Quilting Arts Magazine. They rejected it, but now you get to see my summery, tropical (the convergence part) version made with sun printed fabric!


04 Mar

Local Inspiration

I’ve been very busy lately. It came after a bit of a slump, but I decided to make some new clothes, which led to riffling through fabrics, which led to unearthing old projects, which led to inspiration for new projects, which led to… You get the idea. When people say “just do something, anything” to get out of a slump, they are right.

I’ve been posting more crafty than arty things lately, partly because that’s who I am, but also because working on the crafty has lit a fire under the arty. No art to show yet, but it’s coming.

I love the way one thing leads to another, especially in conversations and with inspiration. I take a walk around our housing development most school mornings after I see the kids off at the bus stop. One of the first things I pass is a row of Naupaka bushes. Looking at these half flowers, I was inspired to make simple postcards for the Hawai’i Quilt Guild’s annual show (they’ve invited everyone to make postcards). The Naupaka postcards led to Ilima postcards, and the whole process (along with another train of thought related to using kid’s drawings as fabric for something completely different) has me now thinking about local plants as inspiration for custom fabric. These sketches are far from fully realized, but I love the idea of the patterns being pretty graphic and not looking like typical “Hawaiian” fabric.

I’m not sure if I’m going anywhere with this, but the path and where it intersects others is a lot of fun.