12 Nov

IQF Houston 2016

Here’s where I was last week (or was it two weeks already!). This was my fourth visit to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. (Here’s a link to lots of posts about previous shows and a few tangential things).convention-center

Quilt Festival is a huge event. Between the exhibits and the vendors and the potential classes it’s overwhelming. I’ve found that over the years, having a plan and a buddy has helped to make the event manageable. This year, Quilt National ’15 was one of the special exhibits and included my quilt ‘Murica. Seeing my quilt in this venue was the main reason for going, but I also wanted to support my friend Deborah as she promoted her new book and taught at Festival for the first time. And, since I was a bit at loose ends, I also took the opportunity to work for The Craftsman’s Touch Books. Working for the book shop had the unintended benefit of giving me a behind the scenes look at the Festival, and early access to the show (which I could really see during normal hours since I was working).


It’s a little surreal to be dodging forklifts and drivable vacuum cleaners in the aisles of the vendor area.


Day one was unpacking boxes. It’s a brutal day for vendors. They set up their booths on Tuesday and then fill them on Wednesday. Some booths just had a little work on Wednesday, but many worked 9-5 to fill inventory. At 5pm, the show opens and visitors fill in, shopping until 10pm. I was lucky to have only worked until 7 and then previewed the exhibits for a few hours. I left hungry and tired, but excited.


There’s a lot to cover! I did not have the time to browse the vendor mall, but I did ping around, checking out things that caught my eye, and looking for inspiration for The Pine Needle where I work in Portland.


The unveiling of the major prize winners is always a big part of the excitement of the show. October Sky by Bethanne Nemesh is my favorite. The silk just glows, and her stitched drawings are expertly rendered.



Old Denim Square by Noriko Nozawa also won a prize. This one grew on me the more I looked at it. I love the denim log cabin blocks. Then I grew to appreciate the deft use of custom machine embroidery in the details and the way she incorporated the pockets and brads and various parts of the denim clothing used in the quilt. Deborah predicts that custom digital embroidery will be the next big thing. We saw several examples at the show.



Denim must have gotten to me, because I was also attracted to Just Before the Lights Come On by Ana Buzzalino:



Another winner, The AEIO Ewes by Janet Stone charmed me. It’s clear design and sweet (but not too sweet) colors look great in photos and holds up in the cloth as well.



Skinny lines were on display in many ways. Fire in the Stone by Kimberly Lacy just blew me away. The color, the composition, the construction — gorgeous!


Look, more tiny strips — this time in Bobby Dole’s Blue Jeans by Chawne Kimber (my finger for scale, and hey, more denim in concept at least).



Machine quilting and long arms have finally come into their own in regards to whole cloth quilts. This one, Don’t Tell Me it’s Not a Dream by Ximo Navarro Sirera, is deceptively simple technique-wise, but strikingly elegant in design.



Deborah’s miniature art quilt won a prize too. I didn’t get a photo of her or it, but it was so exciting to be with her at the awards ceremony when she found out she won first prize in the category!

One of my favorite categories is Traditional Pieced. I particularly  liked this section with bold, fresh, quilts (from left to right, Flight Path by Mary Menzer, Amsterdam View by Carolina Asmussen, and Wall of Sound by Maria Shell)



Here’s a closer look at Maria’s. She’s doing exciting work in my opinion.



There were several quilts in various exhibits which were simple one-patch blocks, in bold colors, with a combination of machine and hand quilting. I really liked them all. Diamonds Quilt #2 by Tara Faughnan was one I returned to again and again.



This sample for Sizzix by Victoria Findlay Wolfe is a great example of how great she is at taking a traditional block and “removing” parts (often by matching it to the background fabric). I thin this is a variation of the Arabic Lattice.



I like the movement on this one too, though I think the hard work was done by mid century Dutch designer Wim Crouwel whose design was inspiration for Betsy Vinegrad’s Mod Blocks.



I’m thinking 2017 might be the year of the scrap quilt for me. I also have a ziplock bursting with half square triangle blocks. Obviously I was inspired by Chesapeake by Aline Joulin.chesapeake


Homespun by Mary Kerr and Donna Ferrill James reminds me of my own quilt, Partisan. It’s part of an exhibit of quilts marrying vintage blocks with modern settings.twisted


I find myself drawn to Baltimore Album quilts and almost as much to Whig’s Retreat quilts. I may actually get around to making a Whig’s Retreat some day. Sunshine And Bluebonnets by Laverne Matthews is a variation. sunshine-and-bluebonnets


And in another exhibit was this interesting contemporary variation, Spot On by Karen K. Stone, which caught my eye as well.spot-on


And a detail:spot-on-detail


One of my favorite “traditional made contemporary quilts” is New New York Beauty by Katherine Knauer, which I saw a few years ago at the Texas Quilt Museum.  Here’s another of Katherine’s quilts, Solar City, which contains all kinds of fun fabrics, including some fantastic ones she designed herself. solar-city


Look, fuzzy fabrics and cabs and green streets!solar-city-detail


Zinnias in the Rain by Martha Wolfe has the loveliest transparencies and line work.zinnias-in-the-rain



Finally, me with my quilt, ‘Murica. It was great to talk about the quilt with people, and see it getting attention from a new audience. The best reaction might have been the one a friend relayed to me of a genteel southern woman who was so shocked and unprepared to see this that she had to go sit down in a quiet place and pull herself together (particularly after witnessing another person identifying with the quilt in a guns are good kind of way). Apparently, she had no problem with the two quilts with nudes as “nudes are in museums,” but guns at a quilt show was a step too far. The experience led to a really interesting (and nonjudgmental) conversation between my friend and this lady, so the quilt has done it’s job of opening dialog.murica-and-me

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.

10 Jul

A Little Bit Each Day

The blog has been a little slow lately. I blame summer. It’s hard to focus with the kids around. It’s also hard to do much while playing tourist –which is soooooo easy to do here in Hawai’i! We put my MIL on a plane yesterday though, so it’s back to our regular life now.

I do have lots and lots of ideas and half-baked projects going on in the background though. Fabric collages on canvas, a kid art project I’ve been meaning to get to for forever, a scrap quilt, an idea for a series that sprouted from “War Sucks,” the tropical fabric, maybe even some vacation inspired ki’i style monsters …

I’ve been overwhelmed by it all. I was telling myself that I just wasn’t in the mood, or I was too busy with fun excursions, but I now think overwhelmed was playing a big part too. “Pick a goal” is the obvious answer, but they are all so enticing.

What to do? I spoke with blog friend Kathy Mack this morning (I am so impressed with what she’s created with her shop and value her opinion) and she reminded me to chose one little thing to do each day towards my goal(s). So that’s what I am going to do. Yesterday I worked on my 12×12 Passion piece, and the day before I sent out an entry for an art quilt show. I would have sent this house quilt out too, but I ran out of checks for the entry fees and our mail has been sketchy since we returned from our cruise. By the way, the house quilt is going to “Breaking Traditions” which is a benefit show and this year’s theme is Home, so how could I not enter?! Today, I think, will be more 12×12 and hopefully some writing. Tomorrow I’ll quilt. And, so as not to become overwhelmed, I am going to do it all on my terms. I will not worry about all the potential roadblocks, or how and what everyone else is doing. I will do what I can — and whatever happens, happens.

First, I’m off to make some coffee.

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!


25 Mar


When I go to the Hawai’i Quilt Guild meetings, I usually go with a friend who found me through this blog and her granddaughter who happens to live near me. The granddaughter is a high school senior and is part of her school’s culinary arts program. Their big end of year research project is to plan a wedding: create a menu that they would cater and source the food, choose linens and table decor, location, cake, price entertainment, and probably a few other things. She’s decided her project will be a morning wedding on a beach. We tossed out ideas and compared wedding stories over dinner post-meeting. I envisioned a simple, classic, tiered cake with sandy colored fondant and sugar sea shells. My friend improved on the idea with those marbled Belgian chocolate shells. This led to visions of white linens, woven mats and hurricane lamps or apothecary jars filled with sea shells (no need for candles in the morning). Red coral seemed an appropriate exotic accent in the jars, which led to orange lei for the guests as well. I was really taken by the idea of a neutral wedding with accents of orange and spent the entire next morning making an “inspiration page” of images I found on the web (I’m not posting it here since it’s for personal use and I don’t want to mess with copyright issues or trying to link to every source, but imagine sea breezes and rustic chic). As much fun as finding all the parts was, I was really liking the colors. So, I made a palette, a la Vicky. It wasn’t looking as great as the inspiration or the vision in my head and I quickly realized that the proportions were wrong. Too much orange. So, I messed around a bit more and now the palette looks like a fabulous quilt block. Too bad the wedding isn’t a real one — I could make a quilt for the happy couple.

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.

08 Nov

My Quilted Research Project or This is Gonna Be Wordy

World Population chart from Wikipedia

World Population chart from Wikipedia

One of the things I really liked about being a graphic designer was wrapping my head around whatever it was that the current client was about. I learned a lot about Braille writing and types of blindness, Princess Cruise Lines’ routes and specials, tourism in Israel, the benefits of easy blood sugar testing, and on and on. The current 12 x 12 Mathematics challenge reminds me of my old work as, so far, I have spent exponentially more time researching than actually creating the quilt visuals or sewing. And because I doubt that all this information I’ve been gathering will actually show on the end product, I share it, and ultimately, a peek into how my brain works on a project, here.

After ditching the quilter’s math idea, I grabbed onto the phrase “You do the math.” It appealed to the ironic side that Terry says I seem to gravitate towards. It begged for some sort of comparison or statistics. For it to be meaningful to me, I figured I should look at women’s issues, or something close to home. It was the writings of Jared Diamond that finally inspired me (I’ve read two books and two articles by him and although he can bog you down with facts and figures and details, in the end I always find myself saying, “wow, I think he’s on to something.”).

According to his book, “Collapse,” First world people consume 32 times more resources than Third World people and produce 32 times more waste. If all current Third World inhabitants adopted First World living standards (a very real desire and a hope held out by relief organizations and human nature) the globe would need to support 12 times the current human impact.

Thomas Malthus, an English economist and demographer, wrote in his 1798 Essay on Population,

“The power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population unchecked, increases in geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.”

So, even if high food-producing First World countries were willing to export food on a regular basis to Third World countries, it would not, without effective family planning, mitigate starvation. And, even if world population levels off at double it’s current numbers, we are already living at a non-sustainable level. Diamond askes, if 2.5 billion people are currently malnourished and lining on less than three dollars a day, what do we do with another 2.5 billion, especially when so many people in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa are trading in their lower impact lifestyles for higher impact First World ones? Apropos to today’s food riots in Haiti, a decline in poverty equals an increase in food consumption which then equals raised prices (and that’s just one angle to the problem).

Thought to have been disproved in the 1950s by the Green Revolution, Malthus’ Dilemma is once again rearing it’s frightening head. I’ve found very interesting articles here and here that do a far better job summarizing the problem than I could (also, not about Malthus, but very interesting food issues, here‘s another interesting article).

It’s possible that technology could save us with the next big leap forward (just remember that with solutions inevitably come more problems). In 2002 biotech crop acreage rose 12% worldwide, which might feed an annual 1.5% increase in population, but could it be sustained long enough to support an eventual 33% increase? The advisers at the National Academies paint a grimmer picture, additionally pointing out a decreased use in the pesticides that made the previous Green Revolution possible, decreases in available land in some of the neediest places and poor natural resource management that will impact agricultural yield. They say “A major challenge for the future will be to link conservation and biotechnology.”

Many of the articles I read, including a recent one in National Geographic, praise organic farming. Unfortunately, it currently makes up less than 10% of farming worldwide and between 1% and 9% of farming in developed nations (Sweden is a notable exception with 11% of it’s agriculture organic). Naysayers posit that 100% reliance on manure as fertilizer uses more space than exists: there is not enough space for fields, pastures AND homes (they must not have read the article about rotation where the fields and the pastures are one in the same).

In a 2003 article, the Christian Science Monitor says international agriculture has exceeded demographic increases (disproving Malthus), but can we keep it up? “Starting in the 1700s, Europe fed its burgeoning population by expanding agricultural production, especially in its colonies.” One third of the world’s land is currently cultivated, essentially leaving no more for agricultural use without inviting environmental catastrophe. As an aside, more and more farmland is being used for non-food crops like corn for ethanol, or less efficient food such as grain for cattle being raised for their meat. According to the article, the world’s farmers produce 25% more food per capita than 40 years ago, but the population has nearly doubled. Between 1950 and 1960 US grain yields increased 45%, but from 1960 to 1990 only another 10%. An article from Harvard’s Belfer Center gives similar statistics.

Back to our theme of Mathematics. All this research was to properly be able to visually represent my original inspiration. My quilt will be about Malthus’ original idea — which is mathematical and thusly fits the challenge. As to whether or not the dilemma has or will come to fruition is arguable (I’m tending to think Malthus was right, his timetable was just off by a century or two), but for my math purposes, beside the point.

In order to illustrate some of the information I have been trying to digest, I found projected population information at the UN’s Department of Economic & Social Affairs’ database, and agricultural yield info from the statistics division of the UN’s Food & Agricultural Organization. As with all statistics, it’s what you do with them that tells the story. Numbers don’t lie, but interpretation of those numbers can be manipulated in many ways. I think the research portion of this project is finally over and now, with the help of my Excel savvy husband, I’m off to draft some quilt art.