Monday, June 30, 2008

Quilt Canada (still cont'd)

My last class at Quilt Canada was called "Skylight: Painted Skies for Landscape" with Valerie Hearder. Here is her book called "Points of View" (photos of her book and the dyes are from Valerie's website).
In the morning we learned how to use transfer dyes to paint on paper and transfer the painting to fabric. The product we used is called Ranger Heat Set Inks. You can purchase these inks and read more about how to use them here on Valerie's website.
Here is a photo of my 1st paper painting on the right with the fabric transfer on the left. The yellow colour goes a long way and comes out much more intense than you would think looking at the painting. This was such great fun and I could have spent several days just playing with this technique! But there was still so much to learn!
One of the things that I loved about this class was how inspiring the classroom set up was. When you looked at Valerie as she was teaching, she was surrounded by 20 + landscape quilts and just look at these beautiful fabrics....all for us to make our landscapes!
After the painting fun, Valerie showed us a slide show and talked about landscape construction. Her approach to landscapes is more geared to intuitive decisions guided by fabric inspiration, less geared to realistic copying of a photograph or scene.
Our next step was to come on up to the fabric table, and let the fabric talk to us! Since this was only my second attempt at a landscape, ever,...all I heard the fabric saying was "ha ha, you have no idea what you are doing now!!" We were to cut fabric pieces that talked to us and use a totally intuitive process. My intuition was telling me to go back to the painting table and avoid that fabric and landscape construction table!!
But I forced myself to follow the instructions and cut a bunch of fabric bits, and put them in an order on my painted fabric. Then I needed to learn more about hand applique and here is Valerie demo-ing her technique.
Once the (stressful) decisions were made, it was relaxing hand stitching, which I enjoy. As I wrote yesterday, I have a tendency to get distracted by the energy of the other students, and other (wonderful) developing projects, but I really focused on my task and wanted to finish my (dreadful) piece while Valerie was there to guide me through any problems that might come up.
Another really neat thing that Valerie did throughout the day was to show us different techniques and products that we might want to use to enhance our landscapes. And here she is on the right demonstrating how to use the shiva paintsticks - that looked like more fun! And look at the pile of fabrics now, that were laid out in neat rows at the beginning of the class!!
Anyway, everyone who followed her instructions was able to finish their little landscape the same day and then we taped it into a frame. Valerie showed us lots of ideas for embellishing these little gems and I hope to someday come back to my landscape and add some stitching and beading.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quilt Canada classes (cont'd)

My second class at Quilt Canada was fabric painting with Margie Davidson. This was my favorite class because it was pure play time! These are the paints that were in our class kits - 4 transparent paints and 1 opaque...all Setacolor paints.
They are my preferred kind of fabric paints so far, because I like the hand of the fabric once they are dry and because of their sunprint abilities. This was my first experience with the opaque Setacolor and I didn't like it, because the hand of the fabric (almost stiff and crunchy) ends up to be similar to the Color Vie paints, which produces a fabric that is too thick/hard for the kind of intense beading I sometimes like to do. But I can see a limited use for the opaque paint for special effects, especially in a gold or copper colour.
Here is Margie on the right teaching us about wet vs. dry painting and how to scrunch paintings for special drying effects. Margie was a great teacher - organized, enthusiastic, an expert in her subject, and her handouts were the best of any class I have ever taken - clear, creatively organized and space for the students to write down their own comments as they learn. She also gave me lots of painting ideas that I hope to try out with the kids over the summer.
Here are the first class paintings on the drying rack. These were later overpainted and used for experiments in sunprinting. The Setacolor paints have this unique ability to produce silhouettes, even without the sun. On the right is one of my favorite sunprinted fabrics from this class...made using maple leaves, a small piece of plastic canvas, and a large piece of rubber shelf liner.
Stop by tomorrow to read about my class with Valerie Hearder.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Newfoundland Quilt Classes

I want to show you the projects I made in my Quilt Canada classes. I'm hoping to tell you all about that in the next couple of days, starting with the 2 day "Stitch a Flower Garden" class with Anne Morrell Robinson. The first day we looked at Anne's quilts and watched her demo how to use fusible stabilizers and create flower parts. Our goal was to practise making flowers, using the handouts, or the inspiring magazines and garden books that Anne brought.
I was surprised at the number of people who came with a complete plan in mind, including recreating garden photos and bringing commercial floral patterns that they wanted Anne to help them make. Some students planned to make vases, floral arrangements, and garden trellises or arches. I was completely blank - no plan, no ideas, basically no clue!!! But I just began in the way Anne instructed us, and these are some of my practise pieces, and trying to select a background fabric.
The first day was relaxing and fun since there was no pressure to work towards a masterpiece, only to make some possible flower components. Then we learned some techniques for making stems and leaves.
The second day was for growing your own unique garden made of the flower components from the first day. This is when it wasn't as fun anymore. I got really distracted by the growing gardens of the other students. First I was worried because most of the other garden backgrounds were dark, and mine was very light. Secondly I was starting to be concerned about the colours I had chosen which created a very colourful garden, that most of my classmates called "interesting"! Thirdly, the amazing quilter beside me was WAY ahead and was already machine quilting her finished garden, while I was still goofing around making flower components! It was a real insight into how students who lag behind might sometimes feel like giving up!! Here is Anne showing us how to machine quilt around the flowers, stems and leaves. Here is my project still trying to decide when there were enough flowers and leaves to move on to the fusing the flowers to the background stage.
I was amazed at how Anne could come around to each of the desks, look at a garden in progress and offer suggestions that always improved the composition.
On my lunch break the second day I realised that I didn't have big enough pieces of fabric for borders, so I quickly went to the merchant mall and my fellow student Isobelle helped me to pick some fabric. Here is the border fabric auditions. It seemed to take me forever to get the borders decided and sewn on.
Then I finally got to the sewing part. Here I am working on quilting the flowers down - notice I am not swearing, yelling or crying! The machine gave me/everyone fits to get started but eventually the thing cooperated and I got quilting. I just had time to do a little bit of sewing to make sure I understood the technique before it was clean up time. I wish I would have taken photos of the other projects, but apparently I was obsessed with my own project, and didn't notice that they other students had gone away!
Anyway, here is the project as I unpacked from my suitcase. It still needs a lot of quilting and I'm sure I will finish it since I still like it. In fact I like it a lot more than I did when I compared it to the other gardens in the class!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One Seam Short of a Quilt!

It seems lately I am one seam short of a quilt! My lawn is a mess and my garden is a disaster. No carrots or cucumbers at all. The beans are finally starting to come along and the tomatoes are my saving grace! My flowers are anemic looking...ugh! I'm not giving up on it, but it certainly is not a stellar crop this year! Let's just blame it on the weather!
Ad I am one seam short of the OC quilt top. I have been working away on it and trying to get the hundreds of seams to match up. I'm so glad I pressed all the star block seams toward the centres and all the orange block seams toward the outside of the blocks. They are matching up fairly well. I have the one long diagonal seam to sew to finish the top. It is bigger than anything I have made for a long time. I feel like Alice in Wonderland where everything is out of proportion - here's me who prefers mini quilts, trying to piece this huge orange quilt!!
To de-stress I have been working on my Capricorn Quilts BOM for May - yes, May! It is finally finished. I have June's traced and have the weekend to finish it before the July block is posted. No problem since I don't need to spend as much time in my mostly dead garden!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back to Quilting

I finally had some time this weekend to do some quilting. This whole week was very busy and disorganized, everything was a mess from the condition of my home, to coordinating the end of the school year activities for the kids with my work schedules.
It was also overwhelming shlepping all my quilting stuff back into the studio to unpack and reorganize. It was a shock to see so many UFO's and pieces of projects piled up, and I chastized myself several times for having too many ideas, and too much activity in my life - quilting and otherwise!
Yesterday I worked on getting organized a little bit at a time. And in between the "putting away tasks" I worked on sewing my Orange Crush top together. I had peeked at some of the mystery quilt blogs to see how the other quilts were coming along and was excited to get going on mine. Here are as many of my blocks as will fit on my design wall. This quilt is so large already without borders, I'm thinking I will probably just put a small border on, or maybe no border at all. I have many of the blocks needed for the border that Bonnie suggested, but maybe I'll use them for something else, or part of the quilt backing.
Then my brother dropped in for a visit and I was delighted since we don't get many opportunities just the two of us to talk together. We had a great chat while I worked on piecing the rows. That will always be part of my memory of working on this quilt. Don't you find that when you look at your older quilts you remember exactly what was happening in your life at that time - the good and the bad stuff?!?!? They are like little visual cues of your past!
Anyway, now that I see the blocks on the computer screen I see a mistake in the layout! I did manage to get many rows sewn together and just hope I didn't get that far along in the sewing so I can change that one block.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Newfoundland Wildlife

My family has decided that Newfoundland is the most beautiful place on the planet that we have visited so far. And the wildlife we saw each day was just amazing. Everywhere we drove on the island we saw moose on the sides of the road. They are huge and would do some damage to your car if you drove into one! The moose that we saw were much more interested in eating than walking on the road, so there were no close calls.
We went on a boat ride to the island called the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and saw the most beautiful birds. We enjoyed learning about 3 birds in particular. We saw the Turr (photo on the right) which are also called "auks" and in Nova Scotia are called Murres, and we watched hundreds of them nesting on the cliff face. They looked like little penguins. It was so interesting that they laid one egg a year and the parents take turns sitting on the nest. The egg is shaped in such a way that when it rolls, it moves in a circular motion so that it won't accidentally fall off the cliff!
We also saw lots of birds called Kittiwake - shown in the photo on the left. They also build their nests on narrow rock cliff ledges. The sound of these hundreds of birds singing was incredible to hear!
Of course the most famous and interesting birds in this area are the puffins. Puffins are the official bird of Newfoundland. They are so cute with their little orange beaks and feet. And they seem to work so hard to fly. They make a little hole in the side of a hill and build their nests inside the holes, about 9 feet into the ground, which makes all the trees die above the nests. Another interesting fact about Puffins is that they mate for life, separating in the winter, meeting up again in the spring, and return to the same place to mate.
We also had lots of fun with fish. Here is a big lobster just waiting for tourists to come along and take his picture! We ate fish for almost every meal - scallops, cod and scrunchions, cod au gratin, salmon, and of course we had to try lobster.
And here is the poor fellow we tried to eat! We had a fabulous waitress who taught us how to eat a lobster. It was very labour intensive to extract the fish pieces, and not all that delicious. It is expensive to buy, and I'm not sure what all the lobster hype is about? Perhaps it is an acquired taste?!?!?
The most exciting creatures we saw were the Minke whales. My daughter and sister went sea kayaking and had a fantastic time, although it was scarey at the end of the trip when the wind picked up and they couldn't seem to get back to shore. This is a photo that shows how close the whales were to their kayak. Unfortunately for me, my daughter fell in love with Newfoundland and wants to go to Memorial University now. Oh's a little far to commute!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The beauty of Newfoundland

I have to show you a few photos of the great beauty of Newfoundland.
This is the classic view from Signal Hill in St. John's, facing the Atlantic Ocean. It was amazing how quickly the fog would roll in and you would only be able to see the grass in front of you!
It was cold in Newfoundland - I wore a turtleneck, fleece vest and winter coat for most of our travels. However, the good thing about the cold weather is there were lots of icebergs to see.
Icebergs come from the glaciers in Greenland and float to Newfoundland down "Iceberg Alley". Some years there are very few to see, but this year there was an abundance. If you want to learn more about them or see incredible photos, click here.
The photo of my daughter and Mom on the left was the closest we were able to get to an iceberg. This was on a boat trip in Bay Bulls where there were several icebergs in that cove, but this was my favorite one.
On the right is a photo of one of my favorite views on the trip. Taken at the Ocean Sciences Centre, with the fog rolling was breathtaking. It was very windy (as you can see by our windblown hairdos!) and it was very cold, but we stayed a long time to watch this beautiful iceberg.
The photo on the left was taken at Twillingate and the iceberg looks small since we were so far away from it, but isn't the view spectacular??
And of course I really loved the rock cliffs that surround know how I love rocks! (Visit my beading blog to see a 8" x 11" beaded piece I made based on Northern Ontario rocks). Here I am standing by a rock cliff at Bell Island. I have lots of photos of rock, but I'll only show you this one!
In the next post I'll show you some of the wildlife we saw.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back Home

I arrived home from Newfoundland late last night and am trying to get reorganized in my life again. The 2 weeks seemed to me to be a very long time to be away. My family managed well without me, and they realized how much I do to make things run smoothly at home. They are very appreciative of my efforts - it has been wonderful to hear how much I was missed!
My first experience with Quilt Canada was completely overwhelming for me. I was not prepared for the volume of activities, the overwhelming excitement, the energy required to participate in 4 days of classes and constantly learn new things, and the lack of sleep/rest.
The classes I took were wonderful and I enjoyed each of the teachers, from whom I learned a ton of new things about quilting and about teaching. Here is Anne Morrell Robinson teaching a 2 day class on Stitching a Flower Garden. This was a fun class and I learned new things about many areas of quilting including how to use fusible stabilizers, making and using bias tape, composition of quilt designs, and a new way of binding corners. We had a real struggle learning how to use the sewing machines they had for us and that made the class quite a bit more challenging than any of the others.
My next class was fabric painting with Margie Davidson and it was my most favorite class because I remembered again how much I love fabric painting! I have painted with Setacolor paints for many years but have never taken a class on how to use them "properly". I found out I was doing everything "right", learned many new techniques, and was totally inspired to paint more fabric!
My last class was with Valerie Hearder and was called "Painted Skies for Landscapes". This was challenging for me because everything was new, having only done one quilted landscape in my life and that was many years ago. But she was a great teacher and taught me so many new things, I still am amazed at the volume of material she covered in one day. Here is the inspiring classroom she set up for us.
I will show you what I made in these classes when I get the rest of my photos downloaded, and get some laundry done.
I will also tell you a bit about my second week of my holidays travelling across the province of Newfoundland with my Mom, my daughter, and my 2 sisters. It was more of the same in terms of constant activity and sensory overstimulation, combined with lack of sleep...but lacking the quilting component!!
I look forward to checking in with my quilt blogger friends and see what I have missed!
And I long for some time to sit quietly and quilt!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Here in Newfoundland at Quilt Canada

I arrived safely in Newfoundland and am writing from the Memorial University library..which
must mean I am a blog addict! Here is a photo from the airplane and the stitching I was doing on the plane (a block from Journey of a Quilter).
I missed out on the entire first afternoon of the conference meetings because for some bizarre reason the registration desk was closed (on the afternoon of the first day of the conference)! Lots of people were arriving from across Canada, so I ended up being the greeter and answered the questions as I was able to figure out the answers over the course of the afternoon.
There was no supper provided the first night so I was able to track down some food...always a good thing! I was very lucky to see an iceburg the first day here and I will post photos when I am home.
Last night was wonderful with a fantastic meal featuring "cod & scrunchions" which was delicious! We enjoyed a Show and Share session and many people won a tea cozy or table topper.
Today I finished my 2 day class with Anne Morrell Robinson called "Stitch a Garden". We made flowers using fusible web, which I haven't used much. Just wait until you see what I quilting friends will not believe how big it is!! I actually had to piece a backing! It definately was the "odd quilt out" in the class in terms of colour & layout - many people did a preplanned layout, followed a photograph, or brought a floral pattern. Mine is, well, let's call it "interesting"! Anne was a great teacher and I don't know why I was so nervous about my "first Quilt Canada class" was great fun!
The worst part of the conference for me so far (besides being on the fourth floor of a dorm with no elevator) is the lack of sleep...too much creative stimulation, and not enough quiet time to get a good night's sleep in the dorm (that's my room in the photo on the right). The workmen arrive very early in the morning to continue the deconstruction of all the sidewalks around the dorms...bizarre decision in light of having 600 (mostly older) women wishing they could walk on those sidewalks this week!! Must have been something that needed to be fixed urgently!
I missed out on the quilted wearables show since I am just too tired and you can't get back to your dorm until the bus leaves...last night we stood in line for the bus starting at 5: 30 pm, stood on the bus, stood in the drinks line, stood in line to enter the ballroom, finally sat down (more like "fell onto" the chairs) to eat at 7:30 pm, and we didn't get back to the dorm until 10:30 pm. And all that after a full day of classes! Because I slept through the supper, I missed out on another meal...I'm going to be thinner and in better shape by the end of the week!!
I haven't seen many of the quilt shows yet. I hear they are fantastic. But they don't allow photography so that is very disappointing. Don't know what I will show the guild members at my "Quilt Canada review" in of iceburgs I guess!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Quilt Canada

When I was surfing the Orange Crush mystery blogs and seeing all the step #5 blocks, I realized that I wasn't really finished with step #5. I had "forgotten" about the 18 half and 4 quarter blocks. So I quickly whipped those up in my free time on the weekend, and now I am really and truly finished step #5!!
I am all packed and ready for my very early morning flight tomorrow. I will go to bed early but doubt that I will sleep a wink since I am so excited! I have dreamed of going to Quilt Canada ever since I first read the CQA magazine many years ago, so this is really a dream come true for me! If I have time and can find an internet cafe in Newfoundland, I'll let you know how it's going.
Quilt Canada - here I come!

Hand Stitching Party

Yesterday I hosted a quilter's birthday party with two quilting sisters (whom I met years ago when I did a quilt lecture and some teaching in Goderich, Ontario) and one blog stalker from North Bay - she drove a long way to join in the fun!Here is Barb (whose outfit matches the Carolina Crossroads mystery quilt in the background!), Deanna (blog stalker!) and Louise (birthday girl!) working on their hand stitching projects. It was lots of stiching fun, with an assortment of treats, great conversation, and even treat bags (which were really jars, filled with quilting treats including a plastic thimble, new rotary blade, my favorite many gifts)! They asked me to pick out a project to work on, and I provided everything they needed except the hoops - they brought their own colourful hoops -pink, purple, and blue.
What a great way to celebrate a quilter's birthday - Happy Birthday Louise!