Monday, December 22, 2008

A Creative Freeze

Ok, so it has been cold here lately, but I exaggerate about the complete freeze of creativity. It is true that I haven't had the time or motivation to do anything fabric art-wise, but I have been knitting, sewing curtains, sewing chocolate show display booth table covers, photographing new chocolate creations! Of course, the only thing creative/artistic in this list is the photographing.

My husband/chocolatier has been creating some new vegan confections (due to popular demand) and he has discovered that I take more creative photographs of the finished product.

If you check out the Life By Chocolates website, you'll start to see more of the product pictures featuring fabric backgrounds and maybe some other fiber art materials!

The next two photos are of our chocolate bars. The first one has the bar resting on some gold raffia ribbon that I have used as a binding material on some of my art quilts.

This next pictures has the chocolate bars resting on a couple of spools of Superior Threads Rainbow thread. I love this thread and the colors go great with dark chocolate!

This next pic is of the new Vegan Tea Set truffles (tea-infused dark chocolate). I have them sitting on top of a ceramic cat that I bought on a Brownie fieldtrip to San Francisco many moons ago (when I was of the age to be in the Girl Scout Brownies!)

Here is my knitting chair-warmer! Bree, a 80 pound Rhodisian Ridgeback, thinks that she fits just fine curled up behind me on this wingback chair. I don't think this is helping my knitting, but at least my back is warm.

We also had a nice long visit from my daughter, Adina, over the Thanksgiving holidays. We made our annual trek to Webs yarn store in Northampton, MA and managed to load up on more yarn no matter how hard we resisted. The shopping spree was Adina's birthday present from us.

I'm crossing my fingers that I get a change to get back in my studio before too long.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Glacier Park in Montana

I never get tired of going to Glacier Park. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time. If I could have a home in one other place it would be in Montana. It suits me like a snap button shirt and John Deere boots. ;-)

Here is Adina at the edge of Lake McDonald.

The water was crystal clear. These pebbles are under water.

We were there on a calm day so the reflections in the lake were stunning. I could sit and glaze at this view all day.

This is on the way up to the summit.

We were lucky that on the day we visited the "Going to the Sun Road" was at least open as far as the Logan's Pass visitor's center. They were started to prepare the road for the annual winter closing and this road is now closed (as I just saw on the park website.)

This was shot at Logan's Pass, where there was a bit of snow on the ground and quite breezy. We would have explored for a while up there, but it looked like rain was on the way, so we drove back down to Whitefish for a nice dinner lakeside and then returned to our inn for an evening of knitting.

The next morning we got up early again and headed back to Seattle to catch our flights home the day after that. Of course, we had to stop at Paradise Fibers in Spokane on the way back.

This vacation was way too short and since I got home to pure chaos, it seemed like a distant memory the second I got to the inn. Sigh. I love being home, but I am looking forward to our next mother-daughter adventure!

On Sunday, I'm giving a lecture for the Hands Across the Valley Quilt Guild in Amherst, MA -- close to my favorite yarn store. But I'll resist a quick stop over because Adina will be coming for a visit for Thanksgiving and a trip to Webs Yarn is sort of an annual tradition.

The last workshop at the inn is next weekend (with Larkin Van Horn -- there is still room in the class for any of you last minute sign up type people!) and then I'm hoping to finally get back in my studio.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bound for Montana

We were on the road to Montana at the crack of dawn. Not even the local coffee shop was open yet! I had to be content with a little chocolate for a caffine fix.

We took the ferry back to the main land and had smooth sailing from there on. It was funny the way the GPS system kept insisting we return to the road while we were in the middle of the water.

We drove straight through to Spokane - our first destination. We just had to stop at Paradise Fibers, a yarn shop I had discovered when I was searching for some Chunky Misty Alpaca (a fabulous soft and thick yarn) on the internet. Too bad I forgot to take a picture, but this shop was located in back of an adult "book" store! It wasn't in the same shop, but in the building behind. It was a very unassuming front door as it looked like the back to a warehouse -- which it sort of was -- a warehouse of yarn! Once you were through the door you were immediately in yarn paradise. Both Adina and I dropped some cash at this place. The people who worked there were very helpful and friendly and gave a great tip of a place to have lunch. Again, my memory fails me, but was within 10 minutes of the shop and had delicious food and great mint lemonades.

This is a shot from the Wild Horse monument, looking away from the momument and back in the direction we had come.

Here is Adina, with the horse monument in the distant background on top of the hill. I know it is hard to see in the photo, but it was composed of a "herd" of horse silhouettes. A marvel sight!

Finally we arrived in Montana. We got there probably between 8 and 9 at night. Whew, that was one long drive. Our lodging was at the Hidden Moose Lodge in Whitefish. We immediately when to our room and went to bed.

Our room was on the left hand corner, right where the walkway is leading.

We were going to be in Montana for two full days, so we decided the the first day was going to be devoted to exploring the town and shopping! We made a good haul. (No, Nordstroms is not in Whitefish! That was from Seattle.) Adina was being good and buy mostly Christmas presents. (She is so organized!)

I bought myself some John Deere cowboy boots! It's been a very long time since I bought cowboy boots and I was pleasantly surprized to find that they now came in a round toed style! My feet can't take the pointy toed ones any more. But these were very comfortable. I got the John Deere colors only because it was the most practical color choices for wearing around the inn and our crazy dogs -- besides I like green. There was a very pretty patchwork boot, but I was afraid the dogs would scratch them up in no time.

I also got several long sleeve shirts, including a flannel one with snap buttons! I love snap buttons. I use to make my own snap button western shirts. (I wonder what happened to them?)

I can't remember the last time I actual bought clothes for myself. It was wonderful fun, especially shopping with Adina!

So that was our shopping Montana day. The second day was our touring day when we drove to Glacier Park.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Whidbey Island and the Four Sisters

The story continues . . .

Before leaving downtown Seattle, we, of course, had to visit the flagship store of Nordstroms to visit the shoe department. Adina found a few things to try on (not shoes) and so we saw the very elegant dressing rooms!

After our shopping, we had lunch at a wine bar. I forget the name of it, but Adina is making a face (just for fun) because she hadn't wanted to come in the place because it was a wine bar! But it turned out to be an excellent place for lunch (even if you don't like wine.)

Then it was off to Whidbey Island. It was fun to take the car ferry - something I hadn't done since I lived in PA.

This is the view from the front door of the Saratoga Inn on Whidbey Island. It is owned by the Four Sisters, Inc. The name of the company was part of the reason I choose it as a place to stay! It was a lovely inn and the staff was very friendly and helpful. They even packed us a nice bag breakfast on the day we left because we left at 6:30am.

Here is Adina on the front porch.

The first day we walked around the town of Langley, which is where the inn is located. It was a very quaint town with beautiful views of the sound. We even found a yarn shop. That evening we found a fabulous little restaurant, Prima Bistro, for dinner and discover that they had my favorite - sweetbreads - as an appetizer. That settled it - we came back the next night, too! Everything was delicious.

The second day we drove around the island, stopping in Coupeville for lunch and also discovering the small shop that was used in the movie Practical Magic. We drove up the island as far as Oak Harbor -- mainly because I had forgotten to bring my camera battery charger and had to get to a camera shop where I can get a replacement!

On the way back down to Langley and the inn, we found a great little pottery shop and discovered that they were also having a fiber art exhibit! So Adina bought a nice set of mugs and I admired the fiber art of Janet Steadman. Beautiful work!

This is a picture of the sunrise as we left on Tuesday morning at the crack of dawn.

So began our 10 hour drive to Whitefish, MT.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Silence is Broken

Wow, its been close to 2 months since I last posted anything. I still haven't had any art time, but I thought I'd pipe up and let you know that I haven't disappeared under a pile of leaves. (I've been raking leaves for quite a while and most of them are still on the trees!)

In the last two months I may not have had any art time, but I did get away for a wonder week vacation with my daughter in Seattle and Whitefish, MT. It ended too soon. I'll be posted pictures and such from this vacation, for the benefit of family members who have been asking to see pictures for weeks! Then I'll get back to the fiber art stuff.

Here is the happy adventurers at the start of the trip.

Our first night was at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. Adina arrived in the afternoon and I arrived in the evening. We picked a downtown hotel for our first night so that we could walk to the Pikes Market the next morning.

The vast colorful array of fruits and vegetables did, I admit, make me long for the long growing season of the west coast -- just a bit.

Adina took lots of pictures of the displays, too.

Lots of displays of seafood, too.

We had breakfast in a little cafe with a great view of the harbor and then continued walking around the market vendors. We came upon the very first Starbucks location. There was this cool 4 person band playing out front.

Here is the inside of the Starbucks. The line was long but we had to get a latte, just to say that we had. ;-)

We did find a nice yarn shop in the area and I bought some yarn. Unfortunately, I know forget the name of the shop! But it was within walking distance of Pikes Market.

On the way back to the hotel to pick up our car, I saw this street scene and had to capture it. It reminds me of the architectural drawings of my father.

From Seattle we drove to Whidbey Island, where we'd stay for the next two nights.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Time to Play At Last

I was lucky to have the time last week to join the workshop taught by Lesley Riley here at the inn. Who knew roofing material could be such fun! I'm talking about Lutradur a synthetic fabric-like material that can be painted, stitched, stamped, cut, burned, heated, and transferred onto.

Here is the mixed media book that I started in the class. Still a lot to do to finish it, but it was great playing with the image transfers and the Lutradur. I'm definitely going to have get me some more of that stuff!

I also finished hanging/setting up the exhibit we're having at the inn of work by the Califoria Fiber Artists. I have posted pics of exhibit on our inn blog. So check it out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fiber Art / Quilt Art Workshops for 2009

I must be on a website update roll. I just finished updating our website for the Hudson River Valley Art Quilt Workshops with all of the information about our 2009 workshops.

Two down, two more to go.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Finally Some Web Progress

I'm finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I have uploaded my updated website and now have pictures of my newer work and also more importantly, information about the workshop I am teaching this year!

I still have to do some more tweaking and update the "What's New" page (I don't know why I left that for the last, but I did.)

We are between workshops today and the sun is shining. It looks like a beautiful day to work in the garden, and since I just repaired the garden cart I should start doing some much needed trimming, but my back is hurting like crazy. So maybe I'll use that as an excuse to spend this glorious day in my studio!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Still Laboring on My Site

It is an endless process managing a website. Just when you think you're nearing the end you discover that there are updates to be made on your updates.

Today I worked on updating/creating the second level gallery pages. I added small image versions of all the new work (or older work that I finally had photographs of). While in the midst of this I realized that I needed to update my art catalog datebase with all of the new work so I would then have the detail at hand to update the website, with things such as size and price. So now I have to tackle that project.

Next I'll have to create the detail pages for all of the images. This is the page that shows a large version of the image and other information about the specific work. Gads, I could spend weeks on this.

So I've had no time in my studio lately, which make me long for winter. Here's picture of what I'm talkin' about!

I'm going to have to do a winter quilt one of these days. I'll have to start collecting white/grey fabrics.

So to keep myself from going innsane (not a mispelling ;-) I've been knitting (mostly socks) during the few short moments when I can keep my eyes open before going to bed.

I know this not exactly exciting blog commentary but it's all I've got for the moment.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Web Revision

I've given up. I started a whole new design for my Crazy By Design website but have decided that given the amount of free time I have (like none), it was just going to take way to long. My poor website is already woefully out of date (the danger of blogs - the website gets neglected!). So I have been working on sorting through all of the pictures I have and making a list of what I need to add to my existing website. The sorting of digital pictures is done. Now I just have to ready them for web publishing.

I was going to hire out my website redesign, but discovered that it just wasn't in the budget at the moment. But I would definitely recommend it if you can afford it, even if for the only reason that it could save you a lot of aggravation!

I have finally started quilting the landscape that I have been working on, but I doubt I'll get much time in the near future to work on it. We are starting in the season when we have workshop, after workshop. Not that I'm complaining about that, because I love this life, but one does yearn for a bit of time for one's self now and then.

I'm also itching to do some more work on the pieces I started in the Nancy Crow workshop. Sigh. I long for snow, which of course will mean that it is finally winter and I'll have time to spend quilting.

You know it seems like I'm always saying that I don't have enough time. I think that is what should be put on my headstone - "She didn't have enough time." LOL! So true, no matter how old I'll be.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Masters - Art Quilts

I just spent several happy hours curled up with a treasure trove of inspiration. The new book, Masters, Art Quilts by Martha Sielman published by Lark Books is most definitely worth getting for your library.

The thing I like the most about it is that rather than the usual one or two images per artist, this book has multiple pages full of work by each of the 40 artists highlighted in this book. Being able to see this range of work really gives you a much more thorough glimpse into the artist's voice. Each section includes insights from the artist. The insights touch upon their process or their inspirations.

I enjoyed seeing the familiar and the new. Many of the artists I already knew about (some I've taken workshops with or I have hired them to teach workshops for the Hudson River Valley Art Workshops), but there were also many artists who's names I'd heard of, but have never before seen their work or some that I'd not heard of.

It is a wonderful chronicle of some of the most talented artists working in fiber today. I hope that this chronicle continues in more volumes of this book. It would make an excellent encyclopedia of fiber art. I immediately decided to buy a duplicate of this book to put in the inn library because I didn't want to let go of my personal copy! I'll also be adding it to the stock of mini fiber art supply store at the inn. It is that good.

The artists included in this book are:

Jane Sassaman
Michael A Cummings
Ita Ziv
Cher Cartwright
Noriko Endo
Deidre Scherer
Carolyn L Mazloomi
Hollis Chatelain
Linda Colsh
Charlotte Yde
Joan Schultze
Judith Content
Kyoung Ae Cho
Jette Clover
Eszter Bornemisza
Pauline Burbidge
Yvonne Porcella
M Joan Lintault
Katie Pasquini Masopust
Nancy N Erickson
Susan Shie
Caryl Bryer Fallert
Jeanette Gilks
Jane Burch Cochran
Pamela Allen
Therese May
John W Lefelhocz
Miriam Nathan-Roberts
Jenny Hearn
Terrie Hancock Mangat
Wendy Huhn
BJ Adams
Inge Mardal & Steen Hougs
Chiaki Dosho
Inge Hueber
Michael James
Velda E Newman
Anne Woringer
Clare Plug
Elizabeth Brimelow

Monday, July 14, 2008

Last Nancy Crow Workshop Project

Since my floor is now clear, I was able to get a quick picture of the last exercise project that I did during the Nancy Crow Workshop.

This is the "mother" of stack and whack. ;-) It is fun to do because you never know what you are going to get and can create endless combinations of color.

I created 6 units because I used 3 colors of fabrics. I was running out of time at the end so I just grabbed 4 units and sewed them together. So I didn't have the time to figure out which units I liked best together. This means that this combination could change completely before I'm done with it. I'm also toying with the idea of just using a component of the composition surrounded by some other unit. Who knows. It is on my design wall and is next in line to work on after I finish the townscape I started this past winter.

Here is a close up of one of the units.

For comparision, here is the piece that I created from the same exercise in the Nancy Crow class that I took in 1998. In the 1998 class, she had us do the exercise first in black and white and then in color (I never made it to the color version). It's called Forest Vortex and is currently hanging in one of our guest rooms. The border is creating with a free form crazy quilt-like piecing method that I learned from Diane Leone (former owner of the Quilting Bee in Mountain View, California). Then I added appliqued leaves swirling to the center of the piece because it looked like a vortex!

Paige asked how I learned to piece the pieces that I created in Nancy's class. Well, it is probably a combination of experience from multiple workshops and classes. It was very useful to have the sewing classes in high school, for example, because I learned how to do inset seams, how to handle the fabric going around curves, and other clothing construction methods (this is useful knowledge for knitting, too). I also took a traditional sampler workshop many years back. The instructor made us promise to piece at least one of the blocks entirely by hand. This really gave you a close look at the seams and how they fit together. The book we used in that workshop is by Diane Leone and I think it is just called The New Sampler Quilt.

I'm sure that in the first Nancy Crow workshop, she gave us pointers on piecing the irregular shapes and curved pieces, but I can't remember for sure, I just know that I learned it somewhere.

I finished one other piece on my day in the studio. The title is The Collection. I'm going to frame it in a shadow box frame, which is why I have not done any finished of the edges. I've been wanting to try a shadow box frame from my work and this is a good excuse to order one now. I'm going to try a frame from the American Frame company. I recently order a frame from them to replace one of our room mirror frames and I was very happy with the quality of the frame. I'll post a picture when it is done.

I used some silk cocoons, mulberry bark, and silk rods from a multimedia pack from Stef Francis that I bought at Friends Fiber Art shop in Lowell, MA

That's it for a day well spent! Ah, I feel much better now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In the Studio At Last

It's been more than a month, but finally I made into my studio to do more than just look at the fabric and sigh.

I was faced with the choice of clean up this mess or just shove the stuff aside on my sewing desk to give myself enough space to finish off something creative.

Well, I didn't have to think long on that one!

So I finished the piped facing for the collage piece that was a result of a workshop with Rosemary Eichorn.

I'm calling it "Inheritance" (which is in reference to the saying that the meek will inherit the earth).

It was certainly a fun process, but already I can see things that I would have liked to to differently, but then again that is what workshops are for! Experiment, practice, learn. If you're lucky you end up with something you really like.

I really like the way the piped facing looks on Rosemary's work, but I don't know if I'll use it again myself. It was a bit too fussy for me -- probably because it was the first time I tried it!

So having satisfied my creative hunger. My next task was to put my studio in order so that I could find my floor once again and make it to the fabric shelves without tripping on something. By condensing the fabric into taller stacks, I was able to make room for all of the solid color fabric that I got for the Nancy Crow workshop.

It only took two shelves. Wow, it seemed like a whole lot more when I was lugging it around in the suitcase and bins.

I also finished another piece and took pictures of the final exercise that I did in Nancy's workshop. You'll have wait to see those because now I need to set up the new iMac we got for the office. Our office assistant has been waiting patiently for it for over a month.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Still Under Water

That's just figuratively, not literally! My studio has still not been put back together after my return from the Nancy Crow workshop. But I've told myself that I just need to go in there and put just one or two things away each day and it will be finished in no time. Well, I'm still working on it.

As soon as I can see my floor again, I have to x out a day on my calendar, go into my studio and refuse to come out! I'm hoping to get some time during the July 4th weekend.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How Do You Piece That Thing?!

Someone asked how I managed to piece the 30-color abstract that I did on day 4. Well, the answer is I'm still working on it!

The way that I am approaching it is to first piece the easy stuff - those pieces that can go together with relatively straight seams to create a "unit" that can then potential be later sewn to the unit next to it.

In the picture below I have circled two of the units that I have assembled this way. I haven't sewn the two units together yet because I'm still working out the sequence. You need to figure out in advance how you are going to fit all the units together so that you don't box yourself into a corner. And even if you do, you can always resort to applique, by I'm going to try to avoid that. It is also a good bet that the look of the piece may change slightly during the construction because I might change a shape to make it easier to piece or I might add another shape somewhere for the same reason. That is why Nancy calls this improvisation - just wing it as you go along.

But as much as I long for a bolt of fusible at this point, I am going to try to piece the whole thing together, as that is part of this project and a major part of the challenge.

It's definitely not going to be easy.

This is probably the part when I should have been asking Nancy for help. She had asked me why I hardly ever asked for help during the class. I didn't know what to say. I know I have a hard time asking for help even when I desperately need it. Probably has to do with some shyness/self-worth issue. (Did you know that in kindergarten I was forced to go up to the teacher and whisper good morning to her in her ear because I wouldn't say it out loud with the class? Good grief, what was that about. ;-) Don't worry, I can now say good morning with the rest of them!

I was hoping to get in my studio this week but we are having a bit of a heat wave here in Greenville and my studio has no air conditioning, so I am procrastinating. Maybe if I can find a small fan . . .

Monday, June 09, 2008

Last Day at the Crow Barn

Wait a minute, wait a minute. I think I'm confused. Well, just a little disclaimer - I may be mistaken about which day some of these projects began and ended. I just looked at the pictures I have for day 5 and realized that is is quite possible that some of them actually occurred on day 4. In any case, the pace was grueling.

So on the second half of day 4 we started to make fabrics composed of solids, solids and prints (stripes and plaids). We were suppose to have 5 light values, 5 middle values, and 5 dark values.

It actually takes longer than you think to sew strips together, especially when each strip is 40-plus inches long! I only had time to put together the lights, 4 middle values and 3 dark values. Below is a pic of some of these composed fabrics.

Here is some more.

Then on the dawn of day 5 we were instructed to cut up our created fabrics to create a design that featured a repeated unit. This project was the most fun for me. Maybe it was because this was something familiar, as we had done a similar project in the first workshop I took with Nancy. Maybe it was because I finally got to use some bright non-solid fabrics! (Oh, by the way, Nancy has a wonderful fun selection of fabrics in her own mini fabric shop at the barn. Lots of great prints and patterns. I did my share of shopping here!)

I created the design by pinning the units first on the design wall and then came the tricky part of putting it together without having to resort to inset seams -- I only had to do one. Whew. I think this is my favorite of all the work I did in the workshop.

The final project was, I think, the very first "stack n wack" technique, or at least I had done it in the first Crow workshop way before all the Stack n Whack books came out -- by at least 3 or 4 years. You stack four large squares (like 24" squares) and cut a certain number of lines and shapes through the four layers, then reassemble them using the different contrasting fabrics. I used 3 fabrics and cut through 6 layers. (No matter how many times I told myself to keep it simple, I refused to listen. Boy, I'm stubborn. ;-) Anyway this project is a lot of fun, too. Nancy said she saved this project for last just because it was so easy and fun.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this final piece! Probably because I was racing like a fiend to get it finished before the deadline. I barely made it. I'll post a picture later this week once I clear a path through my studio so that I can get a good shot of my design wall. I'll talk about it more once I have the picture up so that you can see what I'm talking about.

The final part of the workshop was the grand "gallery showing." Each of us had to take turns hanging up all of the work we created during the entire workshop and then giving a short (3 minute) presentation about what we got out of the workshop and what we thought of each of our pieces. Everyone was encourage to take photos during these presentations as a reference. It was quite amazing to see the body of work that each person created.

Unfortunately the person who I asked to take a picture of me in front of my gallery of work did not get the whole wall of work. I guess she thought it was better to get a closer shot of me. (Looking rumpled, of course.)

So, what was the final analysis of the workshop: I loved it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, it was grueling. Yes, there were times when I thought I was crazy for doing it and working until I was exhausted (I do that at home already. I don't want to do it on my time off). But I do think I will continue to use what I learned. I do think that I final get some of the concepts that Nancy is trying to teach, and if I took a workshop from her again, I'd learn even more.

I think you just have to be prepared for hard work in Nancy's class. It is not a "fluffy" class. As she says, it is a graduate level workshop and you have to be there because you want to give it your all. You have to be prepared for the deadlines and the 12 hour work days. Of course, all of this is really self-imposed because not once did Nancy threaten to kick someone out for not completing a project! But to me, even though I desperately needed time to relax, I couldn't not try to push myself to keep up with the pace. I get the chance to take very few workshops, so I was going to get the most I possibly could out of this one, and that meant keeping up with the projects. But my words of advice -- keep it simple! I'll try to remember this myself next time.

Regarding the supply list - of course, I didn't use all 100 yards of fabric, but having that range of choice made creating the compositions much easier than they would have if I had had a much more limited palette. Also I now have the fabric to continue playing with the lessons we learns. Most important -- bring lots and lots of black and white fabric. I'd bring twice what Nancy suggests. Many people ran out of what they brought.

Some people used polaroids of their work in progress to help them with their designs, but I never looked at my digital pictures after taking them. So leave the dated camera or printer at home, but take lots of digital pictures so remembering the processes later on when you get home.

With all that piecing I thought for sure that I would be going through spool after spool of thread, but I only used up one large spool of Star thread and I used it in both the bobbin and on top. It is good to have lots of bobbins so that you can prewind a whole batch of them in the beginning and don't have to stop midway in a project to wind bobbins.

I took extra rotary cutter blades, but never changed the one I started with. Maybe because I'm too use to using the blades until they are really annoying instead of just starting to be annoying.

I don't think there was anything that I wish I had remembered to bring. I followed the supply list (except for the polaroid/printer) and used everything.

I enjoyed spending the week with like-minded women. It was fabulous to see the wide variety of work that was created. I tend to be very quiet in group settings, but I loved listening and watching.

Nancy, John, Nathan, and Margaret were wonderful hosts.

I definitely recommend taking workshop retreats where you get away from your every day life and immerse yourself in the creative process and the community of artists. I'll be waiting for my next opportunity!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Day Four at the Crow Barn

Ok, so I finally have a moment to blog to my hearts content! We had a full house at the inn yesterday which meant I was making 30 breakfasts this morning.

But back to the regularly scheduled program . . .

Day three ended with the critique and since the critique didn't hurt (I had heard that Nancy was quite strong with her opinions), I retired to my hotel room exhausted but anxious for the next day.

The assignment for day four was to create a composition in black and white using squares, rectangles, triangles, and lines in various sizes. The size was to be relatively small. You were suppose to just pin something up on your wall and then sew it together quickly. Nancy "encouraged" us by saying, "the Japanese students had the design created and sewed together in less than 2 hours."

No one in our class came close to completing something that fast!

This is what I came up with.

I'm still seeing very architectural elements in everything I've created so far! (My Dad was an architect, so maybe I have a repressed desire to follow in his footsteps. At the very least I know that I am very much my father's daughter.)

This simple little desire was quite the bear to sew together. I was still working to finish it when the next assignment was given in the afternoon. But I wasn't too far behind, so wasn't worried.

But then came the next assignment . . .

We were to recreate that black and white design but with a few little twists: it had to be MUCH larger, instead of black and white it had to use 30+ colors, and all of the shapes had to be "whobberjawed". (Whobberjawed is roughly translated to mean "Wonky" or "Larger, Twisted, Bent, and Generally Skewed".) Again, Nancy mentioned the speed of those Japanese women!

This is the assignment that caused the most teeth-gnashing, hair-tearing, and the desire to sit in a corner and cry. (Ok, I'm exaggerating about the crying, but not by much!) I think I must have put up a design on my wall and taken it down about 5 times. At one point, when Nancy came by to see if I needed any help, I looked at my composition on the wall and pointed to one piece of fabric in it and said "that's the only part I like." And then I took everything down off the wall except for that one piece.

The really hard part was the whobberjawing because you also had to maintain the design elements of the original black and white piece so that when they were put side-by-side anyone could easily see how one was abstracted from the other.

Many people commented that another difficult part was using 30 colors. This wasn't too much of a problem with me because this time I had come with enough solid colored fabrics to have a choice. It was a little tricky to keep the dark/light contrast that the original black and white piece had in the color version, though.

So, drum roll please . . .

There it is - pinned on the wall. If you're wondering which was the one piece I had liked and kept from my previous design, it is the orange and the blue piece in the upper left corner. It is still my favorite part.

I think at this point I had just started to sew it together. Gads, I think I must have paused to stare at the thing so many times just trying to figure out how in the world I was going to piece this thing together. Where was some fusible when you needed it!

Nancy is very opposed to fusibles because they are not archival. I hear you, Nancy, and while I do love piecing and will continue to do a lot of it in my work, there are times when a fusible will make things so much easier! I can definitely see the value of using a fusible to create design studies, so that you can knock out several designs quickly to find the one that works best and then maybe recreating the best one in a pieced design.

In any case, I wouldn't have dared bring a fusible into the barn! So I struggled and struggled to get this beast pieced together. At 9:45pm I gave up. I too worn out to think straight, let alone sew straight. (The next morning, I heard that a number of classmates had begged to stay past the 10:00pm barn closing and were there until 11 - 12 pm.)

I got back to my hotel to find the front door locked. Obviously I was out after curfew! Luckily, an employee who was just driving out of the parking lot saw me at the door and stopped to let me in.

I fell into bed, had my champagne and piece of chocolate, reviewed the millions of emails that my husband sent to me about a million little things and tried to reply, only to have the emails sit in my outbox because the internet connection was too slow. Very frustrating.

Too tired to even knit. I'd definitely need a double shot latte then next morning.