Monday, January 29, 2007

Quilting lines

I picked one of the 5 backgrounds that I have prepared and now I'm quilting it, covering the entire surface with background stitching. When that's finished, I'll start adding focus interest and stuff. I like using this grid pattern and worked out a method to get straight lines with the free motion foot and a ruler held along the side of the foot that guides it. Worked pretty well as long as I didn't try to make any grids larger than about 6" x 6". I varied the grid spacing: 1 inch and 1/2 inch, and used different weights of thread. After doing about a dozen of these grids, it just looked too rigid. With all the lines nearly perfectly straight, it just seemed that there was no soul to the stitching. So I went back to free motion stitching and letting the line wander a bit. I'm using different thread weights and different sized grids, with different sized spacing in the grids.

Shortly after I started this I decided that my thread box needed a greater variety of one particular type thread: Superior Threads King Tut machine quilting thread. They describe it as a Low-lint #40/3 extra-long staple Egyptian cotton. It's heavier than the 40wt rayon thread I often use, so the line is a little more obvious. Anyhow, I'm waiting for the approximately 20 spools that I ordered last week. It's getting to the point where I'm going to need more thread drawers.

Goals: Been keeping track of the hours spent on art time. For the past 4 weeks I've spent a total of 32, 25, 40, and 39 hours each week. The amount of art (vs business) has been 21, 10.5, 25, and 23, so 54% of my time has been on art. That's discouraging that business is taking up so much time. Thinking back, what I've done that I've counted as business includes several meetings, hanging a show, giving a lecture, drive to deliver art, prepare show entries, visit a venue, photograph work, and bookkeeping. There don't seem to be many days that are devoted solely to art work. And I didn't spend much time on surface design, only about 4.5 hours total. Gotta work on that.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hand work

I've been spending a lot of time this past week doing handwork on my current piece. Which means I've been watching a bunch of movies and tv and listening to alot of books because I can't just sit without something occupying my brain. I just can't imagine doing handwork all the time; it certainly cuts down on the amount of creative time I can do on a piece. And I'm using thick thread and taking big stitches.

The stitching is holding down these two (and 3 others) rectangles of gossamer (a very thin interfacing type material) that I have painted. The rectangles are about 5" x 6" in size. Below is a little bit closer view and you can sort of see the big stitches. It seems to be shinier in the picture than in reality, although there is some metallic gold paint on here.

While I've been doing this hand stitching, I've also been making more backgrounds to continue this series. I now have 5: red, blue/purple; yellow; green; and brownish. The last two are done with fabrics that have stamping and screening in addition to the dyed color. They are going to be more difficult to work with, I think, but one never progresses without a challenge.

We have a winter storm warning in effect for tonight and tomorrow - an inch or two of snow along with icing conditions. This will be the first snow of the season and odds are everything will be closed tomorrow. Baltimore goes into panic mode at the mention of snow and it's fueled to an even higher pitch by the tv weatherman who can't wait to tell us about how awful it's going to be. I'll bet the grocery stores are getting their pre-snow run on milk, bread, and toilet paper. I can sort of understand milk and bread, but for heavens sake, don't most people have more than one spare roll of toilet paper in their closet?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The opening of the FABrications show last Sunday was well attended. A steady stream of viewers attended, included the former County Executive. Everybody was properly appreciative of the art and we're hoping the show continues with lots more viewers, and maybe even a purchaser or two. I meant to take pictures but I forgot my camera. However, Martha remembered hers and took pictures so you can still see what the place looked like.

I'm trying a new approach to this current series that starts with a paint splattered background. I am usually a one-track kind of person - I work on one piece start to finish. I don't like having unfinished work hanging around; if it hangs around, it means I don't like it much, and it tends to never get finished. Anyhow, I am doing some handwork on the current piece and I just can't do handwork all day long. So I've started on more backgrounds. I'll make several then do the paint splattering and continue from there. So far I have 2 backgrounds that I did yesterday. Since they're just big pieces of fabric stitched together it doesn't take long to compose. And if I don't like one, I didn't spend a lot of time on it, and so not much time was wasted. Of the two I did yesterday, one I like (it's red) and the other is sort of iffy. Maybe the paint splatters will improve it.

In a few minutes I'm off to give a lecture to a local guild on my journey from traditional quilter to art quilter. I've given this lecture maybe 10 times and it's interesting how it changes over the years. The beginning part is still pretty much the same, but the art quilt part has expanded and progressed. So, I'm off.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What's Happening

Not much, to tell the truth. Keeping track of art time - last week I logged 32 hours, of which 21 hours were actual studio time. Pretty good. So far this week it's 23 business hours and only 3 studio hours. I spent a lot of time on Tuesday hanging a show for one of my local groups Fiber Artists of Baltimore, and a lot of time on Wednesday going to a meeting of my other local art group New Image. The show opening is Sunday and I plan to take pictures. Of course, that means I have to remember to bring the camera.

I just finished taking down the rest of the Christmas decorations. Now somebody else can store the boxes away. The box with the tree is just too heavy for me to drag up 2 flights of stairs.

Next week I'm scheduled to give a talk at a local guild. I need to go through my slide tray and edit. Last time I gave the talk there were too many slides and so I talked way too much. In addition to the slides I always bring some quilts. But right now the ones I would want to bring are out at shows, one of which is not too far from the lecture site. Maybe we should do a field trip.

If you're in the area on Sunday, come to the show opening: Slayton House Gallery, Columbia, MD, 3-5pm.

Do you ever have stuff that Goodwill won't take but is too good to just throw out? Try FreeCycle. The website is sort of the umbrella for thousands of local groups. The way it works is you post that you have something to offer and then you get emails from people who want it. You choose the lucky recipient and arrange a pickup time and location. I gave away a computer monitor because I got a new flat panel for Christmas. Posted the notice at 7:30am and by noon the monitor was gone. Today I gave away a scroll saw that somebody gave us when he was downsizing. I know you want to see what a scroll saw looks like:

And that's the picture for today.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Goals for 2007

Ha! If you thought I was going to present you with an itemized list of goals like Lisa's, think again. I am thoroughly impressed (and cowed) by what Lisa has planned for the coming year. But I have been thinking about it (yeah, working on the procrastination thing, too) and here is what I have so far:

1. More time in the studio doing art. Keep track of the time spent on art. But wait - does sewing on a sleeve count as art time? Or is that business time? I've made a chart with 4 divisions: art, surface design, business, and other. Surface design is really a subset of art, but I want to keep track of that also. Business includes maintaining my database of artwork and show listings, preparing entries, meetings (and travel time if it's any distance), show openings, photography of artwork, processing images, etc., etc. It's more difficult to break the art activities down: design and stitch. But wait, I often take photographs as inspiration and play around with them on the computer - where do I put that? So now I can get bogged down in trying to categorize the amount of time I spend on an activity. Maybe I will just aim for a total number of hours right now, keep track of what I'm doing, and in 3 months revisit this task. So okay - my goal is 30 hours per week.

2. Use a sketchbook. I have lots of sketchbooks, all with some of the pages used. But it's not something I keep at hand and jot in frequently. Needs to be a more concerted effort.

3. Exposure - seek out more mixed media shows; seek out public art and percent for art calls; seek out solo show opportunities. I have already sent out one application for a solo show and I subscribed to Previously I was getting Art Calendar but I'm dropping that. I've also been building a collection of postcards of my work. Every time I finish a piece, I get 100 postcards from VistaPrint. Once you get something from them they start sending email offers for free stuff, in particular 100 postcards for free. It's not totally free because you have to pay for shipping and uploading the design, so it's actually about $10.

So for today, I'm going to spend quite a while ripping out quilting on my current piece that I don't like. I guess that goes into the art category, although it's more like un-arting. Then I also have an appointments for a haircut, a mammogram, a Dexa scan, and then I will go to the gym. That pretty much takes me to dinner time.

Seasonal note: today is the latest sunrise of the year, at least here in Baltimore. From now on the sunrises get earlier and the sunsets get later and the lengthening of the days will become noticeable. If you're wondering why the earliest sunset and the latest sunrise are not both on the winter solstice, read about the Analemma. I'm not going to explain it here.