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.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Thermofax Screenprinting Class

From Friday night to Sunday afternoon my thermofax printing students worked like they were driven. Many of them had no idea what this was going to be like, not being familiar with a thermofax machine. Some had screenprinting experience and remembered how difficult and time consuming it was to make a screen. I spent the Friday evening class explaining what a thermofax was, talked about kinds of images it could make, what might work and what might not work. Each student received about 8 linear feet of screen, enough to make approximately 10 full size screens. At least that's what I figured.

By the end of the evening, each student had made at least one screen and we were ready to build our printing areas with a cotton batt, fabric stretched over top, and fastened with duct tape. Saturday morning everybody arrived ready to print. After a short demonstration on screening technique, they were off and screening. We had some technical difficulties in getting the copy machine and the thermofax machine to play well together, but that was solved, more or less. At this point I could have left and I don't think they would have noticed. They were so busy! And that thing about 10 screens....little did I realize how resourceful this bunch was. The screen pieces kept getting smaller and smaller as nobody was willing to let any unused screen go to waste. I was concerned that they might have trouble with paint running off the edges, but that didn't seem to be a problem.

By Sunday afternoon the walls were covered not only with fabric but also tote bags, aprons, pillow covers, and t-shirts. Wow!

Remember those old Spirograph toys? Time to dig them out of the attic and use them for screen designs!

They made us take a break for a class picture. But as soon as this was taken, they all rushed back inside to make more prints. What a great group!

I'll have pictures from the Dyeing class real soon. They are just as enthusiastic as the screenprinting gang and making just as big a mess.