Saturday, December 22, 2007


Olio: for non-crossword puzzle fans, an olio is a mixture of different kinds of elements or a hodgepode. This post is a bunch of this and that.

Answering some questions: Gerrie wants to know what I do with the ends of the threads in the finishing technique I showed. When I do the stitching around the edges of the piece I'm stitching off and back onto the quilt so there are no thread ends. At the final tie off, I use the fabulous feature of my Janome 6500P - I press a button and the top thread is pulled to the back and both threads are cut off at about a length of 3/8". I've already secured the threads by stitching in place several times, so now it's done. Those little thread ends pretty much just disappear from view and that's the way they are. No knot tying and no burying the threads. It's done, stick a fork in it.

Next question: how many sales came from shows - 1 and that was from an invitational show. I don't think I've ever sold anything from a juried show where I only had 1 piece. I've had much better success selling from solo shows or shows where I had multiple pieces.

And from Rayna: deconstructed from bubblewrap - either that or some other type of grid making design.

Today is the first day of Winter which means the days will start getting longer. Not very noticeable just yet, but in my head I know it's happening.

I have a piece in the SDA Traveling Show. It's one of the 100 that were selected from the members' show last summer. Smith-Kramer Traveling Exhibitions has taken on the show and is doing the traveling. Here is the link to their web page. They chose my piece as the icon for the show. Probably because it's quite colorful. Except I wish they had done a better job on the image, it's quite blurry. Here's a better shot of the piece, front and back. They chose to show the backside, the one on the left.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Year end Summary

Doing a little database crunching, I came up with these numbers: this year I entered 20 shows and was accepted in 12. Some of these shows were invitational and did not involve jurying and some will not occur until next year. Of the acceptances, one is a solo show and several were in the category of 'what have I got to lose?' I paid $352 in entry fees and over $200 in shipping costs, which does not include the cost of the packing materials. One has to wonder if it's worth it.

Actually, I suppose that in the art world only $200 spent on shipping is pretty cheap. It's so easy to just roll the work up and put it in a long box and send it off. The long box is necessary if the hanging stick has to go with the quilt, but I don't like to fold my pieces, so I would use a long box no matter what. I buy them from Uline and I love looking through their catalog. It's like going to the office supply store.

I'm thinking about entering Visions but the entry fee is making me reluctant. If you're not a member of Quilt San Diego, you must join in order to enter. This makes the entry fee $70. And they keep the quilt for a year. Once it's sent for photography, they keep it, effectively preventing it from being shown anyplace else in the interim. The show isn't until November, 2008 and the photography is in March. The big selling point is that there is a full color catalog of the exhibition. I've never entered this one before so I'm hoping I don't have to go through the process of several rejections before an acceptance. Not implying that that's how they jury, just that I often get several rejections before getting into a show. Anyhow, I have until early January to decide.

I'm not ready for Christmas. I still need to ship some presents but I'm waiting on something to arrive. I still need to buy stuff, mail out Christmas cards, make cookies, and I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten. Guess I had better get going.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Finishing Touch

This is a much better illustration of this edge finishing technique I'm working on. The first image is the quilt top quilted nearly up to the edge of the quilt; the batting and backing are still untrimmed.

The second picture shows the batting trimmed away just slightly smaller than the top (mostly) and the backing trimmed to 3/4" wider.

A 3/4" wide strip of Wonder Under is applied to the backside of the backing.

The paper is removed and the 3/4" strip is folded back and fused down.

This is the view from the front; the backing is turned back and fused so it isn't visible.

Another view of the top.

To secure that little bit of top along the edge, I quilted a continuation of the grid that was already there, taking the stitching off the edge which closes the gap between the top and the backing and hiding the batt.

This is what the back looks like. The finishing grid isn't as wide as the turned back edge, so every inch or so, I stitched a little further into the quilt to make sure that turned back edge doesn't come up. Click on the picture for a larger image.

We never made our planned to Chicago last weekend. The weather predictions of icy mix across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois just didn't sound like a situation in which we wanted to be driving. So it will have to be later. It's difficult to plan a trip at this time of year, what with the iffy weather and the holidays. We thought about flying out and renting a minivan to drive back even though that would be a lot more expensive. The only problem is that we would need the space in the back and so what would we do with the seats?

Now that it's the end of the year it's time for looking back over what I've accomplished in the past 12 months. I'll come up with numbers of shows entered, number of acceptances, and shows I've been in. I feel that this year I've sort of drifted along in the getting sales category. I haven't pursued much in the way of opportunities and the bottom line is reflecting that. I don't like to show a loss and can usually restrain my spending so that it doesn't overshoot my income but obviously I wasn't paying very close attention this year. Not too big of a loss, only a few hundred dollars. Next year I will do better.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I've been busy the past few weeks quilting on two pieces. I tried a new edge finishing technique on them and I think I like it better then the facing technique I was using. Which involved a lot of sewing of mitered corners, moving back and forth from the work table to the sewing table way too much, and hand finishing. Plus I don't like how it offsets the fabric boundaries.

This new technique which I learned from my friend Elizabeth Poole and modified a bit. I tried two methods, the modified one first. For the first, I cut strips of the backing fabric about 1.5 inches wide and put wonder under on them. I scored the wonder under down the middle and pulled off the paper. So what was left was the strip with wonder under exposed on half of it, the long way. Next step was to trim the quilt to its edges. I had already quilted most of the piece but left the outside 2 inches or so unquilted. Next, I slipped the exposed wonder under strip edge under the quilt top and over the batt, lining it up so that the papered half stuck out. Then fused it. The took the remaining paper off, turned the strip to the back side, and fused it. The result was that the batt was encased in the strip and since I used the backing fabric, it was nearly invisible. After I finished quilting the outer edges, the strip disappeared on the backside and no batt was visible.

The big problem with this technique is that it really distorted the quilt edges and they were very wavy. I really hate wavy edges, they drive me nuts. So I laid the quilt out on my work table, dampened it, and then steam pressed it flat. This seems to have worked.

This is the back (lime green) folded across the front. You have to look closely to see the folded back edge.
This is the edge on the front side. You can see the green strip here, but most places it's not visible. This could be a problem if the strip was some wildly different fabric from the front.

For the second piece, I didn't used the wonder undered strip. Quilted to the edge this time only leaving about 1/4" undone. This time I trimmed away the batt so that it was just slightly smaller than the top. Then trimmed the backing fabric to about 3/4" wider than the quilt. Applied wonder under to the backside of this strip, turned it to the back and fused it. Now I went around the entire outside of the quilt and adding enough stitching to ensure the back strip stayed down and also to close the gap between the top and the back so the batt couldn't show.
Here's the edge from the front side.
And from the back. You can see the folded back strip better here, partly because the edge stitching was done after the top had been quilted and so it doesn't cover the entire strip.

This second method did not distort the top at all. Both methods leave the edge rather fragile since they don't have the support of a facing, so time will tell how well I like how it holds up. I like the look.

This is the backside of the faced quilt. It's a very neat finish, but very time consuming.

This is what I mean about the fabric edges becoming offset. I don't like this, which is the major drawback to this method for my style of quilt. If I didn't have the irregular edges it wouldn't be an issue.

This coming weekend my husband and I are driving to Chicago to take some furniture that my Mother no longer needs and it doesn't fit into her studio. We are renting a minivan since neither of our cars is big enough to hold a dresser plus the other stuff. I don't much enjoy the drive and I sure hope the weather is good and the ice storm this past weekend doesn't repeat itself. We thought about flying out and renting the car to drive home but it costs more to rent a car one way for two days than it does to round trip it for four days. I guess they like their cars to always come back home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I've been tagged by Andrea, someone who found me by searching for 'textile artist'. I need to list 7 things about me. I sort of feel that I've written about everything I want people to know and what I haven't written about is stuff I'm not about to share. But here goes:

1. I love crossword puzzles. I also like Sudoku and Kakuro (but Kakuro books are difficult to find.)

2. I hate trying to make small talk with the person sitting next to me on an airplane. I much prefer reading or working puzzles.

3. I love the palette of colors shown by trees in the Autumn as they turn to red, orange, yellow, tan, with some green still mixed in.

4. I wish I had more space for a bigger studio. I practically have to back out to turn around.

5. I wish all motels and hotels would use fitted sheets. I hate how the bottom sheet gets all scrunched up and pulled out when it's just tucked in.

6. I hate the fact that on my next birthday I will be 60 years old. It sounds so old..."60 year old grandmother". Doesn't that just bring to mind a little old gray haired bent over crone?

7. I'm not much into politics, but I think the Current Resident (in the White House) has done irrepairable damage to this country and to the world at large. I cannot think of even one redeeming leadership decision that he has made.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, but we won't be celebrating until Saturday due to schedule conflicts. So instead we will be removing wallpaper from the hallway and maybe the dining room. I have an 18 pound turkey defrosting in the refrigerator. Usually I wait until right before T-day to buy my turkey but several times the stores have already run out by then. So I bought it last Saturday. We will probably be eating it all the way until Christmas.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Materials Hard and Soft

Welcome news - another acceptance. This time the letter came from Materials Hard and Soft held at the Greater Denton Arts Council, Denton, Texas. It was a rather thick letter and I thought at first it was a rejection because they were sending my slides back. Then I remembered I sent them a CD, not slides. The letter was thick because it contained a contract for the show. This was the fourth time I've entered this show and I'm excited to finally have been juried in. I've heard that it's an excellent show and rather difficult to get in (at least it has been for me). The juror was Georgia Gough and while I am not familiar with her or her work, she has an excellent resume. Also, she is the founder of the Materials Hard and Soft exhibition. Obviously, she cares about this show.

She selected Yellow Brick Road which, now that I think of it, has a name that fits right into the show theme.

Yellow Brick Road 53"L x 50"
©2007 Catherine Kleeman

Out of the seven shows I entered in August and September, the results are 4 acceptances, 2 rejections, and 1 still waiting to hear. This is a better percentage than I had expected, figuring only a 50% rate. My philosophy is that if you get into everything you enter, you're not aiming high enough.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Weekend

This past weekend I was a my guild retreat at the West River Center, south of Annapolis, MD. We've been doing this for nearly 15 years, I think. The facilities are spartan and the food is lousy, but it's lots of fun. We have a large room in which to work and each person had an entire table to herself. There is also a 'living room' with sofas and a fireplace (which we've never used) where you can go and sit if you need a break. Or you could go outside and enjoy the scenery around the West River. The area has become more built up in the years that we've been coming, and it's also becoming more exclusive (=$$$) since it's right on the water. Teardowns are very popular. That's when a little house or cottage is sold, torn down, and replaced by a 3 story mansion. In order to be able to build, the new house has to have the same footprint as the original because this area was originally a wetland, and alot of it still is. The lots are tiny and everybody is on well water and it just doesn't seem to be an ideal place to live except that you're on the water and close to Washington, DC and Annapolis.

The good news is that my piece Spring Green has been accepted into the SAQA exhibit Transformations '08 which will premiere at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England, August 2008. After this show it will tour for up to a year.

Spring Green 54"L x 50"W
©2007 Catherine Kleeman

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A short break and now back to work

I spent the last week in Chicago helping my Mother move from her apartment in independent living to assisted living. She had to decide what to give up from a two bedroom place in order to fit into a studio room. Lots of furniture will be put into storage and the rest will be squeezed as best as possible into her new place. I'm glad she made the decision and I think she is glad, also, even though it was difficult leaving the other place. But now there are people around all the time to help her when she needs it. And she doesn't have to do any food preparation at all.

I'm working my way through two books I just got from Amazon. The first is on Creativity - Living the Creative Life: Ideas and Inspiration from Working Artists - and is very interesting. There are several fiber artists included, Susan Shie and Bean Gilsdorf, but it also includes artists who work in other media. There is lots of talk about journaling. Some of them do it and some don't. Keeping a journal is something I always have good intentions for doing but never seem to actually get around to doing it consistently. Of course, looking at some artist's journals is quite discouraging because they are works of art in themselves.

The second book is Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art by Terry Barrett. Terry has written several books about art and critique and there is an ongoing discussion on the Ragged Cloth Cafe blog referencing his book Interpreting Art. I haven't started reading the Why Is That Art? book yet, but it's next on my list. Here are links to two of these books but for some strange reason I can't get the link for the Why Is That Art? book. Amazon says they don't have it, but they do because that's where I got it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fabric Annex Redux

Several years ago I wrote about my Fabric Annex. When I made the move away from commercial fabrics, I stored them in an inconvenient location. In order to retrieve any fabric, which I have been using for backings, I have to crawl on my hands and knees (ouch) underneath and around the model train foundation. And I'm running out of the larger pieces which means there is a considerable amount of piecing necessary in order to get a backing large enough. Needless to say, this has all gotten quite tiresome.

I could use the fabric I have already dyed, but it's a very tightly woven broadcloth and it's difficult enough to sew through one layer of it. Making it the back layer also would make it impossible to do any hand work at all. Not that I do all that much, but sometimes I like putting some big stitches in by hand.

Well, duh, why not get some looser woven fabric and dye that for the backing? I ordered 50 meters yesterday from Testfabrics. I got the 400M, their cotton print cloth. And since they're so close, it showed up today on my doorstep and I've already cut off two large pieces and dyed them for backs for the current pieces. They're in the washer now.

So, timewise, it's difficult to say which is more efficient. Actually, getting fabric from the annex probably takes less time. But crawling around on a hard wood floor is becoming less and less appealing as my knees get older and older. Probably should send one of my grandchildren up there to pull fabric. I'm sure they would love the little cubby hole.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More results

People are talking about their recent acceptances to Art Quilts Elements (formerly Art Quilts at the Sedgwick). I entered this show but unfortunately it seems I didn't get in, since I haven't heard anything. But I did send in my registration for the joint SDA/SAQA show that will be held during the run of AQ Elements, so I will be able to see not only this show, but several others that will be on at the same time.

This past weekend was the Beaux Art Fair, a local event to benefit the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Last year I sold a piece in this show, but not this year. It's a great event, with a champagne preview party that's catered with lots of wonderful food, including caviar. And unlike many other charity events that sell artists' works, this one splits the proceeds 50-50 with the artist.

And since it often seems that events run in threes, I expect my rejection from CraftForms to arrive any day now also. Notifications were supposed to go out October 17; maybe they have already sent the acceptances.

I finished a new piece last week. It's the one I started last May but had to put aside because of all the other stuff that has happened over the summer. I do my own photography, which is incredibly fiddle-some. I do it indoors with tungsten photoflood lights. I know that lots of people do it outdoors, but there is not a level place in my yard in which to hang a quilt. Plus there also aren't any places that are totally shade-free. I have a spare bedroom all set up with a hanging apparatus. And in spite of the digital revolution, I also shoot slides. I know it's possible to make slides from digital, but for less money I can shoot and process an entire roll of 36 slides. It was a shock to send off the processing mailer - with the new postage rules the mailer is now considered a package because of its thickness and it cost $1.13 to send. Used to only cost 54 cents. Ouch. And sending it off to be processed will take up to 2 or even 3 weeks. Doesn't work for last minute stuff. Except nothing works for last minute stuff anymore, even the local place takes 4 or 5 days because they send them out.

I wonder how long slides will continue as a viable process... with Kodak no longer making projectors, there soon won't be a way to view them. I wonder if projectors will become like thermofax machines - hot properties on eBay for those who really want them.

This is a detail shot of the new work. It's red.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Interesting experiences

First off, thanks to all who expressed support and understanding for the situation with my Mother. The good news is that she is recovering and is currently in the nursing home. From there she will go to assisted living. She has decided to give up her independent living apartment, which was a big and difficult decision. I will be going out to Chicago again at the end of the month to help with the moving process.

Yesterday's interesting experience was attending a live performance of The Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. The show played at The Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, a restored vaudeville palace that opened around 1915. It's a wonderful old place with all kinds of gilded decorations. We also have season tickets to the Broadway across America shows, but this was a different kind of audience. Lots of chit chatting, clapping, singing along, and audience participation. Carole King was the guest singer and she has the most wonderful voice. We had lots of fun.

Today's interesting experience was a studio visit from the group from Maryland Art Place. I wrote about being accepted for this show last month. I showed them work that I had submitted for the jurying process and talked about my processes. Then I took them down into my studio and showed them examples of the different kinds of surface design that I use and they were most interested. The critic told me he thought I should be entering fine art shows, painting and such like, because the processes I use are the same as what painters are doing. Very nice words, indeed.

I haven't put any pictures up in a while so here we have a picture of moose-watching tourists at the Tetons.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Where's the Art?

I've been dragging around a piece that has been in progress since May. May! I haven't had much of a chance to work on it. In the time since then I've been to Chicago, gotten a new granddaughter, been to QSDS, taught at Miami U, family reunion at the Ocean, trip to Chicago, vacation to Wyoming, weekend retreat, and another trip to Chicago. In between it seems that there just hasn't been much time. I did spend several weeks doing deconstructed screen printing, so at least I've been in the studio. I got caught up in the planning for my guild's quilt show. It just seems that I haven't been able to get back to the art part.

And those three trips to Chicago... the first was quite enjoyable, but these last two have been emergency trips. My Mother is not doing too well, in and out of the hospital and emergency room with various problems, some serious enough that I wanted and needed to be there. She turned 95 in August and up to now has been quite healthy. So with this going on, my concentration has been elsewhere and not on much art. And I'm not sure how productive I'm going to be in the near future either.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The results are coming in...

Last month I blogged about entering shows. I entered a bunch of shows figuring my chances were good for getting into maybe half of them. The results are coming in and I'm thrilled to say that I've been accepted into one of my "probably not going to get into" shows. Maryland Art Place runs a show called the Annual Critics' Residency (this is information about the show held earlier this year) where they select a group of artists and two writers and there is a collaboration of sorts between them. They will visit my "studio" aka the basement in October and talk about and select work to be in the show. There is also a Public Forum in which the artists and writers discuss their work. Aack. The show will be next Spring. It's definitely not a fiber show.

On another note - the changing of the seasons. I keep looking out for the last hummingbird. The large group that stays here during the summer left several weeks ago and now I'm seeing one or two on occasion. I saw one checking out my red mailbox - he must have just been passing through and was looking for food. I haven't seen any since Tuesday but I put out some fresh sugar water just in case. It's amazing that these little tiny birds fly all the way to Mexico for the winter, some even flying across the Gulf of Mexico. Not a wise decision at this time of year, it would seem. I hate to see them go - it means winter is coming.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Local Guild

I belong to a local quilting guild - Baltimore Heritage Quilters Guild. I've been a member for about 20 years. (Good grief!) When I joined I had just barely started quilting and my first quilt was a Quilt-In-A-Day Log Cabin tied quilt, made with Williamsburg blue calicoes as the 'dark' and off white calicoes as the 'light', with a mauvey-red center square. Every print was the same size and there wasn't much variation in the color. It was my very first quilt and I was really thrilled. I made a bunch of Log Cabin quilts in those early years.

In 1993 I attended my first Quilt Surface Design Symposium. It was really a huge stretch for me and I was really out of my comfort zone. Saw my first Quilt National and my first Fairfield Fashion Show, and I thought maybe I was in the wrong place. It took me several years to move from traditional quilter to art-quilter-wannabe to art quilter. Steps along the way included getting away from the repeated block quilt to doing my own design, then adding paint and fancy threads, then getting into dyeing and surface design, then abandoning commercial fabrics in favor of doing my own, to where I am now.

The first juried show I ever entered was the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, when it was still in Williamsburg, Virginia. My piece was a whole cloth, white on white machine quilted with a design of my own. The edges were scalloped and there was a little problem of wobbling because they stretched. You know how difficult it is to photograph a white on white quilt, and since this was the first effort at doing this, you can only imagine how awful this slide turned out. It had all the things you're not supposed to have, such as my hand holding the corner edge, and my dining room as a background. They must have been accepting everything that year because based on that slide, I shouldn't have gotten in. I don't think I have ever been as excited to get an acceptance letter as I was when I got that one. My first juried show!

Since then I've been in many shows and won ribbons and sold work. It's still gratifying to be validated, but that's not my major motivation. I just like doing it and I like the experimentation factor.

But - back to my opening topic, my local guild. We're having our biennial show next weekend. I've always helped on various committees for this show, but in a weak moment this time I volunteered to chair the Hanging Committee. We're in a new location and using an unfamiliar hanging system, and suffice it to say I'm having sleepless nights fretting over this. I am keeping extensive notes so that the next Hanging Chair (which will not be me) will have the benefit of my experience and won't make the same mistakes. She can make her own new ones.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two Quilts In

While I was away on vacation, the jurying results for Art Quilts XII: Current were posted. This show is in Chandler, AZ and is curated by Diane Howell. The show will hang at the Chandler Center for the Arts from October 12 through December 1, 2007.

I'm very pleased that two of my pieces were chosen to hang in this show.

Sun Dance 50" x 50"

Downtown 44"L x 51"W

Both are constructed with cotton and silk that I dyed and painted, using a multitude of surface design techniques on Sun Dance. Both pieces are enhanced with flung paint and spatters and quilted in grids of various sizes and colors of thread.

At the moment I have entries out to four other venues, but the earliest I will hear from any of them is the middle of October. And I really need to get back into the studio and WORK!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Home from Wyoming

We returned yesterday from a week at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It was fabulous! We had a great time and it always makes me think that I would like living out there. But then I think about winter and since I have never experienced winter in Wyoming, it may not be something I would enjoy.

We hiked every day, and by the end of the week had gotten our routine down pat. I'm sure to those who live out West and who hike all the time, our treks might seem less than spectacular, but to us almost-city folks who live at sea level, we were quite pleased. Our longest hike was 9 miles up Cascade Canyon at the Tetons. My biggest problem with these mountain hikes was not the uphill, but the downhill. Steep hills just absolutely killed my rotten knees. I spent one afternoon icing down a knee, and Aleve helped lots also.

For the past year I have looked at the webcam aimed at Old Faithful nearly every day. So while we were there we stood in front of the webcam and called our kids. They brought up the web page and here we are:

We're the two people in the center of the image facing the camera. Nearly every time we walked along this boardwalk we could see people doing the exact same thing. Waving at the camera with a cell phone in their hand.

I will upload some pictures later on. Today I have to catch up on all the things that didn't get done while I was away.

Friday, August 31, 2007

On the Road Again

This time tomorrow I will be sitting on an airplane waiting to take off on vacation. We're off to Wyoming to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. This is about the 5th time we've been there. I just never get tired of that area and there is always something new to see. We've got some hikes planned that will be new to us and will provide all sorts of opportunities for taking pictures. I think that the majority of our luggage is electronic: cameras (many) and a laptop computer. Clothes, the bare minimum. I always pack too many clothes so I'm trying to be very efficient. It's odd to be packing for freezing weather when it's been so hot here, but the lows at Yellowstone have been in the 20's. Yet by the middle of the day, it's t-shirts and shorts. So the word is Layers.

These are pictures I took last year. Old Faithful erupting at dawn.

And a view of the Tetons.

Here is a link to the webcam that looks out onto Old Faithful. I have checked this webcam nearly every day this past year. In the dead of winter when the roads are closed and there are no tourists, it's sort of cool to be able to see what's happening, or not happening. Sometimes bison or moose cross the geyser field.

There's no Internet access in the National Parks so I will be out of touch until I return home with lots of great pictures and interesting stories of wildlife encounters. Just not too close.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Entering Shows

In looking over my resume I am struck by the change from years past. I used to enter many more shows in recent years than I have so far this year. And I wonder, what is the reason? I know exactly why I no longer enter weekend pole-and-drape quilt shows: it costs just as much to enter one of those as it does to enter a month long show and I really want to exhibit to a wider audience than that which a weekend show attracts. Plus there is little possibility for a sale, not that I've sold much at month long shows.

But there are tons of month-long juried fiber art shows these days and I could spend all my time entering those. And I haven't done much of that either. The first four months of this year I spent in making work for the QSDS Invitational, and then I got busy with other stuff and have slacked off considerably.

I spent nearly all day yesterday preparing 3 entries. And I had already prepared an entry earlier this month. So, 4 entries. Of these, 2 are for month long fiber-only shows, 1 is for fine crafts, and one is totally art. I think my chances of getting into the quilt shows are pretty good but not sure things. The other two are way less certain, actually I would be surprised if I was accepted.

My theory is that if you get accepted into everything you enter, you aren't aiming high enough. This can be a little tough on one's ego, getting rejection letters. But, on the other hand, what kind of satisfaction is there in getting into a show when it's a sure thing? And what if, for some reason, I would get rejected from something I thought was a 'sure thing'? That would be a real blow.

So with these 4 entries, and a few more that I want to enter coming up (why is everything due in September and October, no matter when the show is?), keeping track of things becomes a real challenge. It would not be good policy to double enter something. I keep track of all my work in a database, along with all the show information, and what's been entered where. But I needed a visual representation to ensure against overlap. For this I used Microsoft Excel, created a calendar, and used shading to show the duration of each show. Writing the names of the pieces entered in each show in the shaded areas made it easier to see what I was committing and when and how long.

And here's a real dilemma - Quilt Visions in San Diego. A prestigious show with a full color catalog, something beneficial. But it costs $70 to enter! And they keep the quilt for an entire year. It's definitely not a 'sure thing' type show, and I really have to think about spending that much entry money and possibly losing a piece for an entire year. Luckily, I can ponder that for several months, as the deadline isn't until January.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Comments on Gee's Bend Comments

I was going to post this as a comment, but it was getting too long, so here it is.

Karoda - I think that very often art is judged by who the artist is. I know that I have read articles (Robert Genn, I think) where a piece of art by a well known and respected artist was presented to a group (without their knowing who the artist was) and their comments were less than enthusiastic. And somewhere on YouTube is a video of a world famous concert violinist playing in the DC Metro and pretty much totally ignored. But in these cases the artists had made their own way up in the art world and their notoriety was the result of that.

In the case of the Gee's Bend quilts, their notoriety was given a huge shove by William Arnett, et al. That's not to say that some of those artists don't deserve this because without it they would be doing their art in obscurity and unappreciated. In any group there is going to be a range of talent, and some of the Gee's Bend quilters are more talented than others, yet they are all considered pretty much equal. But my point about white, middle-aged, suburban women is this: if W Arnett had been presented with the same quilts but they had been made by the these women, he would not have seen any potential in promoting them. There is a tremendous back story about the Gee's Bend Quilters, and I think that contributes greatly to their interest and value.

I would like to read that article that you mentioned.

There is a catalog for this show. The catalog includes many more quilts than what was on display, plus lots of text.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gee's Bend Quilts and more

Better late than never. Yesterday I finally got to the Gee's Bend exhibit at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. It closes tomorrow. It's been running since mid-June and between traveling and procrastinating, I just never quite got there. It closes tomorrow so I was just in time.

So what did I think of it? No matter what you think of the Arnetts (the promoters) it's easy to see that they have done a magnificent job in bringing these quilts to the public. Books, museum exhibits, licensing agreements, rugs - they have explored many outlets for these designs.

In the exhibit were quilts from the early 20th century, before the Gee's Bend quilters were discovered. These quilts were utilitarian and made from old clothes and other used cloth. Work pants were a favorite resource and it's interesting to see the pockets included and notice that the worn knee areas are incorporated into the design. In the 70's Sears Roebuck contracted the quilters to make pillows out of corduroy and so they were able to recycle the corduroy scraps into quilts. Lots of avocado green showing up in these pieces. Working with such heavy fabric had to have been difficult.

The modern pieces, at least some of them, show a definite concern and skill with design. Others look like they were made because the designer wanted to be included on the band wagon. Often the photograph of the work presented it in a far better fashion than the original piece. I found some of the unskillful workmanship offputting. I am not one who counts stitches per inch or obsesses about perfect points but when technique jumps out and grabs you because it's so noticeable, it had better be good. Not totally the case here. I think the photographs were able to emphasize the graphic quality and design, which are the strong points of these works. If these quilts had been done by middle-aged, white, suburban women they would not have received the kudos and exposure these pieces are getting. Of course, part of the interest lies in the ability of the Gee's Bend women to make art with such limited resources and in such relative obscurity for so long. In this case, the maker is just as important, or more so, than the work.

And other stuff...
I've been working on deconstructed screen printing, after getting my interest flowing again. I had some packages of Print Paste mix from ProChem that I had purchased a while back, sitting in the closet waiting for just such a moment. The Print Paste is pre-mixed with all the chemicals needed and all you need to do is add water. I mixed it up, and added dye powders, and started making my screens. And much to my dismay, the dye pastes haloed on the screens. Where I had drawn a line with a syringe, the color oozed away from the line and spread out. Nothing stayed crisp. It was difficult to get the screens to dry.

See what I'm talking about? Those X's are bleeding all over the place. I suspected that the urea was the root of this problem. Urea is the wetting agent - keeps the dyes moist so that they can batch, or fix, over the 24 hours that they need to work. Looking at the recipe for mixing up print paste from scratch (on the ProChem site) and comparing it to the one that Kerr Grabowski gave us, I realized that ProChem's recipe used twice as much urea. I think that their premix also has the same amount of urea as their recipe. This may work great in Arizona where it's dry and keeping things moist is difficult, but in Maryland in summer, moist is not our problem.

I was stuck with the dyes already mixed in the print paste. But I have more alginate, and made up a new batch of print paste from scratch and omitted the urea entirely, then mixed that with the clear print paste. That cut the amount of urea in half. I also used a hair dryer to help dry the dye paste on the screens, and set the screens in front of a fan to keep the air moving. All of this seemed to help.

This is the fabric screened from those X's. OK, but the halos make for blurry outlines, not those cool edges I got while at QSDS. It's part of the process to be very unpredictable. However, I'm glad I was able to see the differences between QSDS and home because I would have been discouraged if all I had to go on was those blurry images. I'm still working on this and have lots of dye paste left. As usual, I mixed up way more than I probably needed.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

An Excellent Catalog

I received the catalog Quilt Art 22 - Under Construction yesterday. It's a catalog of the exhibit of the European group Quilt Art and it's a fascinating look at not only the work of these 20 fiber artists but also the thought processes and planning that goes into her piece in the exhibit. There are pictures of studios, sketch books, inspiration photographs, along with explanations of how and why they chose to do what they did. I love to see the process behind the work, and it's so interesting to see how different people are in their approach to what they're trying to do. I highly recommend this little catalog. It's small in format, about 5.5" x 5.5", but there are 96 pages of color images, and it's beautifully presented. Charlotte Yde is the graphic designer and editor and is also one of the artists in the group. Others in the group are Bethan Ash, Elizabeth Brimelow, Sally-Ann Boyd, Fenella Davies, Ann Fahy, Dirkje van der Horst-Beetsma, Inge Hueber, Sara Impey, Bridget Ingram-Bartholomaus, Jane Lloyd, Sandra Meech, Evelyn Montague, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, Karina Thompson, Janet Twin. And also my friends Linda Colsh, Dominie Nash, and Jette Clover. I really like the fact that I'm hanging around with such accomplished and talented people.

Their website is here.

If you would like a copy of this catalog (in the USA) email Dominie. The cost is $25 plus $3.50 shipping.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Deconstructed screen printing

In June I took Kerr Grabowski's Deconstructed Screen Printing class at QSDS. I have already posted some of the results, here and here. My friend Linda in Belgium and I are having a conversation about this technique, our successes and less than desireables. I thought I would put my pictures on my blog and discuss them here rather than send them to her in an email. That way the rest of you can see what a cool process this is. I highly recommend the DVD that Kerr has made. It's 3 1/2 hours long, costs $35, and takes you through the process from start to finish.

These are in no particular order and since when you do the upload it always puts the most recent pics at the top of the post, it's even more un-ordered. If I had planned better I would have started at the bottom of my upload folder, but I always forget about that. Most of the fabrics began as white with the color added during the screening process. If the fabric was already dyed a color, I mention that.

Multiple screens were used to get this piece. Some had already been used previously and were nearly totally deconstructed and others were still unused. The screens were different sizes and there were many textures.

Closeup. I think those are confetti like pieces of paper making those cross hatch lines.

Definitely a cut paper stencil making the tree shape.

Texture only.

Screened over a furnace filter. Release color is sort of yellow/green.

Screened with dye paste through a thermofax screen (the spiral shape), then drew little squares and rectangles with a curved tip syringe, all in a green color. The fabric was already dyed sort of gold; the release paste color is yellowish.

Another view.

This is two different screens. The parallel lines are newspaper stencils. Behind that you can see the screen that I did over top of a stamp (see the original several pictures down the page).

This is what Kerr describes as ghost printing. I made the screen with a torn paper stencil, leaving lots of open space. For the first pull (on the right) I loaded the screen up with black thick dye and pulled the image. The second pull (immediately to its left) was done without adding any more thick dye, so only what was already on the screen. The third pull (again, move left) there is barely any dye left on the screen and all you see are the ghostly outlines of the stencil. The scribble lines are done later with the curved tip syringe. The fabric was already dyed gold.

The background screen was some kind of textural thing. The writing is the formula for urea water and thickened alginate. This was two separate screenings as I let the background batch before doing the writing part.

Another view.

On this piece I put a stamp that I made under the screen, then pulled brown dye paste. Screened with uncolored release paste. At least I think that's what I did.

A closer view.

Torn paper stencil, screened with screen lying on top of kraft paper with red-brown dye paste. The kraft paper wrinkles up when it gets wet and gives that sort of bark-like texture.

The above piece is one of the few that I didn't like. I first drew a spiral and some dots on the screen with black thickened dye. After it dried, painted red and yellow thickened dye. After that dried, screened with alginate.

The screen was done with torn paper and a textured background. The background fabric was already dyed gold. Released with red thickened dye. The solid red areas are when the paper was removed from the back of the screen so that the red went through immediately.

I think orange dye paste went on the screen with some kind of texture. Then screened with yellow thick dye. As the orange deconstructed, more of the yellow shows.

The screen has torn bits of paper as a stencil, then red dye paste was screened with the screen on top of a metalic grid to get the diagonal shapes. Screened with yellow thick dye.

I drew a grid on the screen with thickened dye, I think in a dark red color. The fabric was dyed yellow and I screened with a brownish color.

Then since there was still a fair amount of grid on the screen, I did a second piece of fabric. This piece of fabric was already dyed a sort of goldy-yellow. The release color I don't remember.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Back to reality

Vacation is over. The tri-ennial Kleeman Family Reunion is now history. We had a wonderful week filled with fabulous meals, terrific beach time, laughs and stories, and just reconnecting with family. In the two side-by-side houses there were 43 people and 11 Harry Potter books. All week long at least one person had his or her nose in the book.

The surf was great after the first two days when it was so rough the No Swimming red flags were posted. The rest of the time we spent either body surfing or using the boogie boards. In my first venture into the surf it was immediately obvious that I wasn't going to be able to hold on to my board and also keep my bathing suit pieces in place. Luckily I had also brought a one piece suit that was ideal for riding the waves. Thirty years ago when we were on these jaunts I would spend hours and hours riding the waves. Now that I have 30 more years on my body, it was not nearly so effortless, especially the standing up quickly enough to not get knocked over by the next breaking wave. I came home with many scrapes and cuts and some very aching body parts. I need a vacation to recuperate from my vacation.

We always do a group photo and I've posted pictures from some of our previous reunions, except I can't find the post. Here is the latest and greatest.

The theme for this year's reunion was pirates and so the 'crazy picture' featured a lot of pirate paraphernalia - beards, eye patches, swords, etc.

And then we do family groupings, always a challenge when there are small children who just can't see the point of taking all these pictures. Until we look at them months later and say Remember how much fun we had? So here we are, and we are a gorgeous bunch, if I do say so myself.

So now I'm just about totally unpacked with everything put away, the laundry is done, the grocery shopping for the week is complete and I have no more excuses for not getting back to my art. It seems forever since I was able to devote time exclusively to my own work. I spent most of May preparing for the classes I taught at Miami University and gathering supplies for the classes I took at QSDS. Then I spent 10 days at QSDS, 9 days at Miami U, and a week at the ocean. And don't forget the birth of my new granddaughter. First thing tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Something old, new again

Thought I would give garment sewing another try. Frustrated with the style of pants available these days - I mean, hip huggers and lower are okay for some, but not me - and not able to buy pants in the length I need them, I decided to make a pair. I bought the fabric and pattern several weeks ago, washed the fabric, and stored the pattern in a Safe Place. Which, of course, I couldn't remember when I went to find it. I cleaned off my entire work table, which needed it. I looked in drawers, and found the manual for my sewing machine that I had misplaced and so ordered another one. Finally found the stupid thing after about 2 hours of searching.

So, the body attributes that make it difficult for me to find ready-to-wear pants that fit also make for problems when sewing them myself. Threads Magazine is always printing articles about how to make clothes fit, so I dug out the ones about pants. It's a little difficult to do this fitting by yourself, but I didn't have anybody around to help. I don't think my husband would be interested.

Followed the directions, made alterations in the pattern, cut out the pants and sewed them up. Results are less than spectular. I still need more alterations. And I don't know when this happened, but somewhere along the line ready-to-wear and the pattern industry parted ways in size labeling. It's very disconcerting to discover how much bigger the pattern industry thinks I am vs Lands End.

On an art related note: I have had a sort of love/hate feeling about SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). In years past I felt I got nothing out of my membership even though I was a Professional Artist Member. I dropped back to an Associate, just as SAQA began to reinvent itself. Things seemed to be improving, what with new leadership and renewed energy. I decided to re-up as a PAM, but now you need to prove that you are at a professional level. Which I could and did.

SAQA still has some bumps and needs improvement but I think it's an organization that could be extremely useful to fiber artists. And today is the start of the Online Auction for the One Foot Squares. SAQA had put out a request for donations of small quilts to be auctioned at the conference in May, along with the Art in a Box Auction. The response was so overwhelming they had to come up with a different strategy so as not to be practically giving away the artwork. I hope this is a success. And I hope somebody bids on my piece (it's in this first grouping)....

There was discussion recently on the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Yahoo List about a blog ring for SAQA artists. I volunteered to set it up and spent the weekend trying to figure out RingSurf. I'm pretty computer literate but it took several attempts to get it right. I sent out invitations to a bunch of people who had responded to the SAQA request and have been getting them set up. For some it's gone pretty well, but others have had a few frustrating problems. I understand their pain.

On the side bar to the right is the link to the SAQA Artists Ring. I'm number 1 in the queue (one of the privileges of being the ring owner) and so far there are nearly 15 people in the ring. If you are a member of SAQA and want to have your blog part of the ring, click on the Join link. It will take you to the page where you submit your site.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Comments on Quilt National

Thanks to everybody who left a comment on the Quilt National post. Lisa, I think that you're probably the exception that proves the rule. Except that since the entry deadline is September of the year before the show, you're not holding them back for as long as it seems, the longest being about nine months. But still, I'll bet that's longer than most people hold a piece back.

How does one decide more than a year before the entry deadline that a particular piece is going to be the work that is good enough to enter, and then hold it back? My hope would be that over the course of those months I would be continually improving and that I would have something better to enter. Otherwise, one would have to hold out nearly the entire body of work in order to be able to pick the best three.

I don't mind the the 2 year rule. It's that prior publication thing that gets me. And it only applies to venues in the US. So someone in Australia can show her piece in several shows, maybe even win some prizes, and it's still eligible for entry into Quilt National because supposedly it hasn't been seen here. And it can also be published in a foreign magazine or book, no matter what it's distribution. Just not an American publication. Why is this fair?

The rest of the week

The next class I taught at CraftSummer was a combination Dyeing and Machine Quilting class. Before the class started I polled the group to find out if there was more interest in one technique over the other. If most of the class wanted to spend more time dyeing then I could adjust the segments. But they all said they were interested in both segments equally. OK, so we would spend 2 1/2 days dyeing and machine quilt until Friday afternoon.

Each student received 10 meters of fabric and 3 colors of dye. I had prepared samples to demonstrate each of the exercises I had planned and as I pulled them out, the class could hardly contain themselves. They were eager to get going.

Into the second day, when it became apparent that 10 meters was not nearly enough fabric, they were able to purchase another 5 meters. And they brought in t-shirts, tote bags, aprons, cotton duck, and threads.

I told them that they had to put their last fabric in to batch no later than Wednesday noon. Then they cleaned up the dye materials and pulled out sewing machines, ready to begin machine quilting.

This segment of the class turned out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The abilities ranged from experienced machine quilter to not having touched a sewing machine in a very long time. We had some problems with incorrect sewing feet, sewing machines that couldn't do free motion work, and unfamiliarity with the machine in use. (That would be me since I borrowed a machine and was always forgetting to lower the presser foot. The machine let me sew but would leave a lovely lacey tangle on the backside.)

But they all perservered and everybody discovered new skills and new stitches and cool techniques. It was amazing how much their free motion skills improved just over the course of 2 days. By Friday morning they were ready to work on the small quilt I had them bring to class.

Michelle, Shara, Jeanie, and Carole are concentrating on their form. The table and chair heights were uncomfortable and we had to remember to take frequent breaks.

Meg and Mel stitch away.

Michele demonstrates the eyeball technique for threading a machine.

Don't know what Shara is doing, but it's got her undivided attention.

Mel zipped through all the exercises, then quilted an entire piece on Friday morning. Working with metallics presented a little challenge. I told her she needed to slow down a little with metallic thread and that was difficult since she normally quilts at about 90 miles an hour.

Meg is demonstrating the proper tongue position.

I was so proud of all of them. They accomplished a great deal in 5 days of class. I would like to think it's because I'm such a fabulous teacher but it's probably due more to their interest and eagerness to learn.

I arrived home Friday night and have mostly unpacked. Now it's time to get back into my normal routine. June was extremely hectic and I haven't done any of my own work since early May, it seems. Been concentrating on class preps and other stuff.