Road to California–part 2

I’ve had some really good comments from readers about Road to California and it’s interesting how they parallel what I was hearing behind me and around me from the attendees: nice quilts, but I’ll never make one of those.  And certainly I felt that way about the quilts I wrote about earlier.  So, thanks everyone, for writing.

There were a lot of quilts that when I looked at them  I began to ask myself: what is it about these that is different, special?  Here’s some more that I saw.

Beauty Parlor De Los Muertos, by Nancy C. Arseneault is a classic, as she got all the details just right.  She’s from Tucson, AZ.

Notice the clever use of fabric in the floor tiles!

Sunlit Circles, from Ann Petersen of Surprise, AZ uses spiky circles floated over the top of her quilt.  What makes this one really interesting, I think, is that border of quilted circles, with an occasional scalloped edge.

Nice quilting, and while close together, it’s not excessive.

And not one sparkle (yay!).

This is one of those quilts that you had to see to believe.  Titled The Loading Dock, and made by Mary Buvia of Greenwood Indiana, it reminded me of those books by Jan Brett with ornate illustrations all alongside the main panel. Bruvia hand appliqued much of this “during the long hours of chemo treatments” for her late husband.  She made this quilt in homage to him, as Christmas was his favorite holiday.

It was beautifully done.

Yes, it had sparkles, but this is one quilt that should have — to show the snow sparkling in the North Pole moonlight.  Just my .02 worth, here.

There were a series of quilts that used fabric to show texture in interesting ways–another use of hexagons in this quilt by Jean Spring (from Steamboat Springs, Colorado) and titled Three Gulls on a Wall.

Holly Dominie, from Readfield Maine, took Australian fabrics to a class given by Susan Carlson, intending to experiment in the “Pointillism” style.  This portrait of her daughter is titled Queen of My Heart.  It was stunningly beautiful, and I am sad that they hung the ribbon right on this work of art, which was based on photographs Dominie had taken.

I crept in right up to the quilt, then zoomed in, so you could see her amazing work with the fabrics, cutting, laying them down, then the random stitching.  I have to say I thought of one of my favorite blogs, written by Kathy Doughty, who features these fabrics (because she’s from Australia, for one thing) to great effect.

This one of her son is titled Irrepressible.  Same artist, same technique.  When I visited the vendor’s booth that had stocked these fabrics, they were flying off the bolt, snapped up by all of us quilters as we now envisioned what could happen.  Not that we’ll ever do it, of course, but we hope and believe that we can, inspired by these quilts.  And that’s my big gripe with those “show quilts” from the other post.  They DON’T inspire us.  We look at them, amazed by the hours and hours, but the stray comments I heard never indicated that a quilter wanted to go home and fire up her sparkle gun, or get busy quilting with lines 1/16th-inch apart.  I can admire their work, but that’s as far as it goes.  Of course, I could just be weird, an anomaly, but judging from what I heard, I don’t think I am.

This was just the perfect little piece–wavy edge reminiscent of a postage stamp–a tiny snapshot of a day.  And that’s the title: Snap Shot from Seaside, and it’s made by Mary Kay Price of Portland, Oregon.

I was very interested in the edge of that bridge–the spiky grasses, the grayed ledge. The grasses were raw edge appliqued, but really fused down somehow so they looked painted on.  And the edge?  Some fabric paint to blur and soften that so it melted into the picture.  Really beautiful.

Early Snow, by Yuki Harding from Green Valley, Arizona, was based on a photograph she had taken, of what I assume to be cherry blossoms shedding their blossoms.

Or I could be completely wrong, and it IS a first snowfall.  Whatever, it was interesting, and I loved how she created texture with fabrics and thread.

Here was another stunner of a quilt, that unbelievably only garnered a second place.  Titled The World, and made and quilted by Rachel Wetzler of St. Charles, Illinois, is her rendition of the genesis of the world.  It’s a well-balanced composition with great detail and good use of color and technique.  Maybe it only got a second because it didn’t have any sparkles on it? (Can you tell I’m so done with the sparkle business?)

Such an amazing quilt.  I hope it comes to a quilt show near you so you can sit and study it as well.

Kathryn Nolte, from La Habra Heights, California created this visual feast, titled Take in the Night Blooming Jazz, Man.  Sinewy, fluid shapes echo the subject of her quilt, with a real live “piano key” border.

Great quilting, too, putting more motion into this quilt.  Whenever I went by, there were lots of onlookers clustered around this quilt.

Check out the quilting on the piano player’s pants!

Obviously you are subject to my biases and personal preferences, but if I were to consider a quilt for the Best of Show Award, the following would be on the short list.

The Archer was made and quilted by Wendy Knight of San Diego, California.  Unfortunately, it was hung on a side aisle so the lighting isn’t as good I as I hoped for.  This quilt is expertly composed with lots of movement, color shifts and values, detail and on top of that is interesting.  It also had a crowd every time I went by.

Was I influenced by her expert quilting, writing in text into the background of her quilt?  No doubt.  These are words from the teachings of “Bushido–which is the way of the warrior.”  Her husband is a “student of Japanese history, in particular the Samurai culture” and it obviously influenced her subject matter.

The circular piecing and quilting on the horse’s neck really showed the form of the animal.

More detail. . . and more quilts in the next post!  My husband has just made me some fresh-squeezed orange juice downstairs and I’m headed to a late Saturday morning breakfast.  Enjoy your day!

Valentine Quilt–Getting Unstuck

Tomorrow it will be one month since my surgery.  In my dream last night  I was clothed in a heavy coat, trying to get up into a tall vehicle, and unable to lift my leg to get in.  Over and over I tried, like we get sometimes with our pajamas or nightgowns caught up in sheets and too sleepy to figure out how to untangle ourselves.  So that’s how it felt in my dream–like I couldn’t go forward, couldn’t get up in that car that was going to take me somewhere.  I was stuck. I woke up, trying to get oriented.  The house was quiet, as I had slept in really late and my husband had gone.  I stumbled into the shower and began to cry.  Why is it that tears come so easily these days?  The doctor said it will take six to eight weeks to recover from surgery and I’m only at week four.  So I guess I can expect some of this. It just drives me crazy, that’s all.  I just want to be me again, an impossible wish.

But as I dressed, still teary, I asked myself that question I do sometimes when I’m in a stuck space: What do you want to have accomplished by the end of this day?  What do you want to have done?

I don’t ever need to write it down, because it’s only one thing I have to identify.  And today, I wanted to have the Valentine Quilt sewn together.

And just knowing that pulled me into my studio, got me sewing the little white squares on the end of red strips, cutting, ironing, and what you see is up on the pin wall at 2:00 p.m.–leaving me the rest of the afternoon to sew it together.

The original is 64″ square–and 8 by 8 square quilt.  I just need mine to hang up in the hallway, so I went with six by six.  That will leave me some extra squares to make some pillows to throw on beds.

So, the bottom line is I made it through my funk.  I climbed up into that imaginary car today — bum leg and all — and got going.  I dried my tears, straightened my shoulders and began sewing the cloth together.  Like I imagine hundred of other quilters have done before me, in good times and bad.

Valentine Quilt

More Road to California is coming–just had a lot of lesson prep to do–plus this little detour.

This is a WIP post–Work In Progress post–hosted by Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics.  Since having my heck-of-a-December, these weekly deadlines have been quite a blessing for me.  They give me a goal to have my hands on the cloth at least once a week.  Many thanks, Lee!

But this afternoon/evening I stole away from the computer for a few minutes to start on a Valentine Quilt (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a Forth of July quilt!).  It all started when Rhonda sent me a photo of a quilt she was doing for a class for Mare’s Bears–a local quilt shop near Alexandria, Virginia, where I used to live.

I fell in love with it–so fun and fresh and so red-and-white.  We talked on the phone and she told me her inspiration was Le Jardin Cerise, in a recent McCall’s magazine.  I looked up that quilt and to me, they looked very dissimilar.  The original was a blender quilt, with more emphasis on color, whereas Rhonda’s had an emphasis on value–the light-to-dark of a quilt.  She gives credit to the magazine for the pattern, but I give credit to Rhonda for making it sing for me!

So I opened the “red” cupboard. . .

. . . and picked a swath of reds.

Maybe I had red and white on the brain, having shopped at Sandy Klop’s booth at Road to California, where they gave me this very cute bag.  (See our photo with her below).

And maybe because Cindy and I (on the right) were all decked out in reddish tones.  And maybe because all the stores have put away their Christmas and gone straight to Valentine’s Day.  But I think it’s more because of Rhonda’s amazing skills.

Beginning, I cut red squares, until I remembered that Rhonda said she’d done a more streamlined way of putting it together, sewing the thin strips onto the larger.

Okay.  Back on track.  Then I bordered them with strips on which I’d placed a square, then stitched diagonally to make a triangle.

So here are my first four blocks, with the little pinwheel in the center.  Mine’s much more unkempt than Rhonda’s, because I drew from my stash, while she limited herself to six fabrics.  Of course, I like hers better (I always do), but mine will work.  I have to teach in the morning, but look forward to getting back to this tomorrow afternoon, raiding my stash for reds to make it work.

Road to California-I

I started going to this show about 20 years ago, give or take a year or two, when it started out across the street in the Marriott hotel, so I know its history.  It was an offshoot from a local fabric shop and in those early years most of the displays were home-grown, local quilt artists and so you went to see people you know.  The woman who ran the show put on a good game, with lots of good vendors; she had a knack.

About 3 or 4 years ago (or so the scuttlebutt goes) she hired a new person to help her hang the show, run the displays, and since that time I’ve seen it tilt heavily to overly quilted quilts with lots of spangles and sparkles.  This year, I’d have to say that the show has hit a new low, and I started referring to it as Road to Las Vegas.  This is not to dismiss the workmanship of the quilts that were displayed.  The technical skill and stitch quality of the top prize-winning quilts cannot be disputed.  What can be disputed is whether I liked it, or the ladies next to me liked it, or if  using a million crystals (Swarovski or not) or ten miles of embroidery thread enhances a quilt or if I found the quilt show interesting, or inspirational, or motivational (as in: I want to make that quilt!).  Enough yakking.  Here goes.

The title of this is the Magical Mermaids Castle, [sic] by Claudia Pfeil from Germany.  The workmanship is exquisite, with quilting no more than 1/4″ apart, and embellished to within an inch of its life with those aforementioned 40,000 crystals.  Shimmer.  Shine.  Sparkle.

She obviously has spent a long time on this.

I turned off the flash so the quilting lines would stand out, so sorry that it’s blurry.  When I walked through with Cindy, from Live a Colorful Life (more on our meeting up, later), she had tried some of the crystal work and noted that it must have taken this quilter “hours and hours.”

The back.

Back, detail.  Obviously this quilt is about what you can do with a longarm, what you can do with embellishment.  I finally heard a term that described what these types of quilts are: “show quilts.”  That term came from a quilter, shown below, who was standing beside her quilt, talking about it, and she said she tried to make at least two “show quilts” a year.

It was hanging on a side aisle, the shot angle is a bit skewed (sorry).  The title is Witches Brew [sic] and it is a clever quilt, made by Cathy Wiggins from Macon, North Carolina.  In the accompanying sign, she tells the story of her quilt, plus adds “There is [sic] over 250 hours of hand-embroidery on the scroll.”  I liked how the scroll was like a hand-written recipe, with things crossed out and changed.

NOTE: I keep writing [sic], which means “this is how I found it in the original source.”  I don’t know whether it was the quilter, or the people who printed the signs, but there were lots and lots of typographical/grammar errors everywhere.

Witches Brew, detail

William and Tony’s Magical World is pieced and quilted by their mother, Kristen Vierra and it also shimmers and shines.

Magical World, detail

The Director’s Choice blue ribbon went to Sherrie Reynolds of Laramie Wyoming for her quilt America, Let It Shine.  An absolutely stunner of a quilt, I had her pose by it–she was there a lot, standing by her quilt like a proud Mama (and she should have been proud–it was beautiful).

This is the only shot I could get of the quilt without someone beside/in front of it.  It’s a simpler design in some ways, with a central medallion and detailed borders, but she also used embellishment extensively, as well as a tremendous amount of quilting.

Back of the quilt, held up by the white-gloved hostess.  This shows you the amount of quilting that was on it.

Border detail

Detail, word strip.  The sign reads “5121 Swarovski Crystals represent the words of the Constitution, Star Spangled Banner, Pledge of Allegiance and the age of America. The 13 colonies are represented by using 13 points on outer blue rays and red triangles. The 50 states are represented with the ring of 50 stars.”  And my favorite words of all; “free motion quilted on a Bernina 1001,” or a home-sewing machine.  So, no long-arm, but as you can see, she has a lot of skill in her FMQ.

I remember reading that this got high honors in Houston and it got high honors here as well.  It is heavily (and I mean HEAVILY) quilted with gilt and regular threads, with lots of embellishment.  I should point out that the award winners are at the front of the exhibition hall all in a row, with signs by each one, as they are in other shows.  So, I’m showing them in a cluster as well.

Detail, lower left corner

Backside of lower left corner, showing that there is more thread than fabric showing here.

Detail of the cherry blossoms–all done with thread.  So essentially this is a three-ply thread painting.  Whether or not you like it depends on your own sensibilities, but there is certainly a LOT of work in this quilt.  The title is Harmony Within, and it’s a tribute to marriage by Sue McCarty from Roy, Utah.  Below is another thread design, based on a photograph.

This is a depiction of a potter from the Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, as was her mother before her, and it titled Grace. It’s made by Jennifer Day, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who printed the enlarged photograph on fabric and then went to town, quilting it and covering the face and hands with thread, using sixty-six colors and one-and-one-half miles of thread total.

Detail.  They put tape across each section of the display so it’s hard to get a full-on quality shot, but I think you can see how densely she “painted” with thread.  It’s remarkable how she was able to shade and color the face with all those threads.

Yes, those women really are striding into the scene of helping to put up a quilt show, somewhere in Australia.  She created the figures separately and they are attached to some black tulle netting for support.  Clever, I thought.  Titled Color Comes to the Back of Beyond, it was based on a painting by Pauline McPharlaine.  The makers are Pam Holland, Jan Munzberg, Pauline McPharlaine, and Jeanette Coombs (all from Aldgate, Australia) and was quilted by Pam Holland, the true heroine, for making the quilting integral to the quilt.  I stood at found detail after detail, in this not-so-large quilt.

At first I thought those were dropped glass-headed pins, but they were in other places in the quilt as well, so I decided they must be itty-bitty flowers.  Do you like thread-painted quilts?  The jury is still out for me, but I did like this one.  What you can’t see very well is the texture of this quilt–it really has a lovely quality to it that makes you want to touch it (I didn’t!).

Two more Big Fancy Quilts, then more in the next post.

Deruta, by Suzanne Marshall of Clayton, Missouri. She notes that Deruta is a town in Italy well-known for its hand-painted pottery (yep–I’ve been there!), and that her quilt was inspired by some plates she has with beasts on them.

What’s hard to see about this in the photographs is that she apparently has couched a thicker thread all along the edges of her applique pieces, giving them a harder edge.  Quite remarkable technique and skill.

Calling all you hexie lovers!!  Cheryl See of Ashburn Virginia has made a quilt for you to emulate!  Titled Star Struck, it has 12, 256 hand-pieced hexagons in this quilt. It was stunning, as you can see.  Here are some detailed photos (below):

What’s interesting also is how she used the printed fabric hexies to blend and smooth to the solid-fabric hexagons, which act as borders and as outlines.  And guess what?  No sparkles anywhere!  You CAN make a quilt without quilting it to death or turning it into a Las Vegas Showgirl! More, next time.

Road to California 2012–Preamble

Yessirree! Road to California welcomes you–with a typo.  (Maybe only English teacher types would notice?  Certainly the lady I showed at the official booth had no idea what was wrong with the sign, and I have to admit it’s the first time I’d seen a verb with an apostrophe).

My friend Leisa picked me up early, and we were there in the show by 9:40 (we had to wait for the end of the line to arrive so we could get in after them).  After going to this show for umpteen years, we’ve seen a lot of changes and have perfected our plans.  I always head to the quilt show first, and she likes to give the booths a once-over before doing that.  Really the best time to see the quilts in the show is around 4-6 p.m., when all the busloads of shoppers have gone home and it’s cleared out, but I didn’t know if I would last that long.

I don’t like to show too many quilts until the event is over, so watch for upcoming posts, if you’re interested.  But I will show you some of the things I bought–surely there’s no harm in that.

Flying Geese ruler, Kaffe’s latest violets (in multiple colorways), print fabric, notecard, a set of leather handles for a tote bag and a pattern.  When I told my mother that I could fit everything I bought into my one tote, she said “You must not have been feeling well.”  I was a little under the weather due to complications with the recent surgery, and I felt shopping was like trying to eat dessert after a Thanksgiving feast–you want it, but your heart’s just not in it.  No one had the typewriter fabric I was hoping to find.  Bummer.  And I avoided too-crowded booths (gimp girl, here).  I loved seeing all the quilts that the vendors had decorated their booths with.  Hold onto that thought because I’m coming back to it in my wrap-up at the end.

We had a great day, yummy lunch (box lunches from California Pizza Kitchen) and saw lots of interesting things, but by 3:00 I was ready to go.  So we hopped in the car for the ride home.  Many thanks to Leisa for taking me there!