Sol LeWitt’s Patchwork Primer

Sol LeWitt's Patchwork Primer_final

Sol LeWitt’s Patchwork Primer
Quilt #135 of 200 Quilts
47″ square

sol-lewitt

It started with a catalogue my father had of Sol LeWitt’s work, and I read it cover to cover, bookmarking different pages and ideas of his, impressed with his breadth and depth and interesting ideas.  I selected this image, “Fifteen Etchings,” thinking it looked sort of like a “how-to” or primer of sorts, for dividing squares into quilt patchwork.  You can read more about my process and sample some of LeWitt’s notes on getting to work in *this post,* including the 6900 variations of the arrangement of quilt fabrics into squares (maybe I’m exaggerating a bit).  The fabric I chose to use was Mirror Ball Dots.  After a long hiatus (I started this in March of this year), I finally got it out, pinned it and got the quilting going:

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_quilting the quiltI started in the middle, quilting in between the lines of dots.  In the neighboring color, I sewed the other direction, and so on, around the quilt.  I changed out thread on each color, but used my go-to thread in the bobbin: Bottom Line, by Superior Threads.  I lowered my upper tension to keep the thread balanced in between the layers so no white popped up to the top and no colors popped through to the back.

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White binding (what else) goes on next.

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I think with the combination of the dots on the fabric and the quilting, it reminds me of what I envision a 1960s quilted jacket might have looked like.  I’m sure my sisters had them.

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The backing is a Marimekko fabric of large grey blossoms over an acidy-yellow background.

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I included the picture that inspired me on my label.

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I love the “stained glass” look of quilts, shot from the front when they are illuminated from the back.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_front2It’s nice to have a finish!

Now here’s your quote on creativity for today:

“The creative act is not an act of creation in the sense of the Old Testament. It does not create something out nothing: it uncovers, selects, reshuffles, combines, synthesizes already existing facts, ideas, faculties, skills.  ~~Arthur Koestler, in the 1960s

Road to California 2014, part I

Plaid Geese Quilt

No matter how many times I go, I’m always excited to walk in the front door of the convention center, see these hanging quilts (this one is by Nancy Boyce Geese in the Fields) and know that the quilting game is ON, specifically that the Road to California show has opened for another year.

Road to California Logo

I’m trying something different this year.  I noticed that the Road to California has put up good, high-resolution photos of the quilts that far surpass any of my snapshot renditions (largely because they are able to go around earlier, with a tripod and a good flash camera), plus they have many of the quilts that I may pass by.  Click *here* to go to that listing and enjoy their show.  What I’ll do below, is list some of the ones that interested me, make some commentary here and there (good and bad) and sum up the social aspect of the show.

Schamber Grand Prize

This is the Big Kahuna of winners, and no surprise, it was won by Sharon Schamber.  Titled Once Upon a Time, she started making it in 2000, then put it aside for over 10 years.

Schamber Grand Prize2

I’m interested in her quilting, for that it how she gained her fame.

Schamber Grand Prize3

See

Cheryl See’s quilt, Tatted Hearts had 20 yards of her great-grandmother’s hand-tatted lace and a doily. Never could locate the doily, so I assume it was used in the construction of this whimsical quilt, but the yards of tatting are evident.

WilsonMagicCarpetRide

Magic Carpet Ride reflects the childhood of maker Janet Wilson, when she noted that she grew up with Turkish carpets all over their floors.  She set out to create a design that was a colorful quilted, version of these carpets.

WilsonMagicCarpetRide_3

This is a quilt that gets a thumbs up on the use of crystals (generally, I think it is WAY overdone in show quilts), as they were used to be a integral part of the design and only for accent.  But using French knots would have been okay with me too, in those spaces where she put some bling.

WilsonMagicCarpetRide_2

How do you like that fringe?  Wilson is a clever quilter, and skilled with her quilting (below is the back):

WilsonMagicCarpetRide_back

GunnZenGarden

Zen Garden was made and quilted by Margaret Solomon Gunn, and is based on the “Blooming Carpenter’s Star.”  She noted that all the fabrics she used were from her stash (certainly noteworthy!) and she used a longarm machine to complete the quilting.

GunnZenGarden_detail

On this next quilt, first I’m going to show you some of the details before showing you the full quilt:

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CrineWillow

And here it is: Willow, by Debra Crine.  She used hand-dyed fabrics over a silk background, and her technique was to fuse them, then appliqué them with a double blanket stitch.  She also quilted it.  This was not a large quilt, nor was the Magic Carpet Ride.  Crine doesn’t say whether it was a domestic sewing machine (DSM) that she used to quilt it, or a long arm.  Of course, my bias is to see people quilting on a domestic machine, as that’s what most of us have.

I love reading Linda’s blog, Flourishing Palms, as she is trying to adapt many of the longarm techniques to our DSM, applying some of their tricks and tips so that the resulting finish can have a similar technical excellence to them.  I began to look for quilts that indicated that they’d used a DSM, chuckling a bit at the phrase “hand-guided longarm quilting,” although I know that this label is appropriate.

LegerMarinerCircle

When I read in MaryPat Leger’s artist’s statement that her quilting was inspired by Leah Day’s free motion quilting class, I knew I was seeing a quilt that was done on a DSM.  Leger tried out many different patterns on her Mariner’s Circles, and although the next picture is blurry (they have strips of plastic stretched across the quilts so it does make it hard to get good photos), you can see how many different stitches she tried on her quilt.

LegerMarinerCircle_detail

CrineTasteofParadise

Debra Crine’s been busy.  This is another quilt of hers, titled A Taste of Paradise.  Taken from an illustration, she hand painted the fabric with acrylic paints and a used a variety of threads for the thread painting.  She also quilted it, but no word on whether it was a DSM or a longarm.

CrineTasteofParadise_2

CrawfordBrittany

Lenore Crawford came upon an art class of teenagers sketching in the streets while on a trip to northern France, then returned home to create her quilt Capturing Brittany from what she saw.  She used raw edge fused appliqué, and quilted it herself.  This was another quilt that we were prevented from seeing up close, due to the barriers.  I just wanted to stand there all day, enjoying her scene and her skills at bringing this to us.  Click on this quilt on the Road website to see it larger.

We interrupt this quilt show to bring you an advertisement for more sparkles.

Sparkles 1

Sparkles 2

This is the BACK of the quilt, a sign proudly proclaiming “over 22,000” crystals.  Would it surprise you to know that this quilter had a booth, and was selling crystals? Certainly a masterpiece of quilting and technically perfect with applied crystals, it represents the high point (or low point, depending on your point of view) of the Crystal/Sparkle/Bling phenomena.  (I don’t know who the maker was because I was not impressed with the front, and I don’t like to give out the names of quilts I diss.)  We now return you to our regularly scheduled quilt show.

WilliamsPrettyPieces

Lorraine Williams, who made this quilt titled All The Pretty Pieces, notes that it comes from a pattern, but doesn’t mention which one.  (I’m guessing this one from Jen Kingwell Designs.)  But it was lovely and refreshing and I’ve already participated in helping to make a variation of this pattern for one of our Mid-Century Modern Bee quilters.  I like the look of this one, as if someone had been piecing blocks all along, and then it just came together naturally.

WilliamsPrettyPieces_2

Williams also quilted her blocks differently, letting each stand out.  I thought she used varying backgrounds quite successfully, and her color palate was harmonious and brought the quilt together.

Gallery of Flowers

One of the odd (and maddening) things about the way they hang their quilts at Road, is this unfortunate habit of grouping all like things together (p.s. have they ever heard of “habituation?”).  The downside is that a viewer’s eyes begin to glaze over. . .oh, another flower. . . oh, another animal. . . oh, another whatever. . . after seeing 10 of the same subject in a row.  The upside is that you can always find them again if you want to find them again “It’s in the flower section,” like we are at a garden show and all the lilies are grouped together or all the orchids.  It’s been this way for quite a few years, and nothing I ever say will change that–it’s just one of Road’s idiosyncrasies.  But since I’m trying to bring you the essence of Road, that’s just part of it.

TurnquistSunflowersWept

Sue Turnquist started her quilt Even the Sunflowers Wept shortly after her mother passed away in 2009, and she referred to it as her “mourning quilt.”  I’ve seen a few of these in quilt shows over the years, and I like the idea that a quilt was made to help process grief and in remembrance.  She writes “Even though the sunflowers weep, one cannot remain sad in their presence.”

GunnRainbowNouveau

Rainbow Nouveau is by Margaret Solomon Gunn, using batiks, hand-dyes, and gold acrylic paint for accents.  She quilted it herself: “quilting is hand-guided,” meaning longarm machine.  Her original and whimsical appliqué kept my eye moving over the quilt.  It was fun to look at.

GunnRaindowNouveau_2

Random Quilt

I apologize for not having the maker’s name, nor the title, but I found it on my camera.  Something about it caught my eye.  If anyone has any information about this, please let me know.  I really liked the use of those four small squares set on point to act as a type of sashing.

ElenbaasBeauchampHappyHauntings

Always fun to have a Halloween Quilt! Debra Elenbaas pieced the top and Diane Beauchamp quilted Happy Hauntings.  It’s taken from a pattern by Verna Mosquera of The Vintage Spool, and has lots of appliqué.

HappyHauntingsdetail

I thought the spiderwebs in the borders were classic!

LabodaStarsLightYourWay_front

Kay Laboda made and quilted Stars to Light Your Way, a black and white quilt where each block is different from the others.  She says she “loves paper piecing” and gave this to her son and new daughter-in-law.

LabodaStarsLightYourWay_detail

KayQuilted Northern

Now I’ve seen everything.  Yep–the title of this is The Real Quilted Northern.  Maker and quilter Jerry Kay writes “The TV commercial showed little old ladies with knitting needles making quilted northern.  I wanted to show the ‘REAL’ thing!”

I’m going to close out this post (there’s more coming–stay tuned) showing one reason why there are fewer and fewer judged quilts at Road.  It is because these collections of quilts — sponsored (read:$$) by a shop owner or a store or a corporation — have become numerous.  I counted about five different ones, but here’s two.

Gallery Show Angels at Road

This one was huge (I’m only showing half of it) and had mounds of white fluffy batting to denote “clouds” as this show was about angels.  Some of the quilts were interesting, but many were not.  Wasted space.

Gallery Show at Road

Because I’m involved in an on-line art group, I took time to look at this gallery of “art quilts,” also 12″ square. I thought some were interesting, but many were not (sound familiar?).  Some wasted space.

I’m guessing that the economies of sponsorship outweigh the showing of quilt-show quilts, but am saddened by the shrinking number of quilts, and wish, somehow, we could have more individual quilts, fewer galleries of quilts.  The category of wearable art seems to have disappeared this year, and the doll exhibit was substantially reduced.  Here’s a couple:

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And one doll from my favorite doll maker: Elinor Peace Bailey.  She’s the best.

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This traditional Dresden Plate design is updated in a pink and green setting with central blocks to allow for fabulous quilting.  Quilting designs are “hand-guided.”  Margaret Solomon Gunn titled this Big Bertha, and it was a stand out quilt, as you can tell by that fancy ribbon hanging on the side.

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At the front of the hall, just behind the harpist selling his CDs, was this exhibit which was a communal effort of many quilters.

SacramentoRiver

And the Sacramento River ran through it all.

IrvineChinaGardens

China Gardens by Roblee Irvine

BurrisTableMountain_river

Table Mountain in the Bend Area, by Alice Burris, Violet Skeeters and Beula Alioto

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Sims Flat by Patty Schuler.  She says the three women about ready to head into the river “represent my sisters and me.”

WhiteSouthFork

Headwaters Along the South Fork of the Sacramento River, by Jacque White

Part II of Road to California 2014 will follow, which will include my favorite quilt and my nominees for the Most Ugly Quilt (I actually have several this year).  I just found out that the Quilt Inspiration blog has also liked some of the same ones I have.  Click *here* to see their first post, then follow the links to their second post.

In Bed With a Bad Cold

cold and quilt

In Bed with a Bad Cold
by Pam Rupert

Posted without permission. (Pam, if you wish, I’ll remove it, but thanks for your great rendition!)

UrgentCareTree

And this was the Christmas Tree down at Urgent Care this morning (my second trip–I’m going to lick this yet!)

ToteBagClass

But I need to digress backwards and show off the three totes made in my Tote Bag class by three wonderful students.  They worked hard and all finished up.

Quilting Santa_1

I had taken some time this week to work on the quilting on my Santa quilt, and as always, How to Quilt This can really take over my mindset and stop me in my tracks.

So Fine Thread

I have had troubles free-motion quilting (FMQ) in the past, and have worked to figure it out.  I now have three different FMQ feet (the last one was the one that worked best), and am still experimenting with threads.  This one, So Fine by Superior Threads, is a dream, as is using their topstitch size 12 needles.  I purchased, and read, both of Diane Gaudynski’s books on quilting, which nudged a bit further along on this path. Both were helpful, but I don’t really see myself heading in her direction of teensy-weensy quilting decorated by gorgeous swooping feathers and lots of echo quilting.

Wide Open Spaces

This week, Judi Madsen’s book arrived, and this is more what I hope to quilt like.  I’m already behind because she has a huge quilting machine, so our techniques of moving the cloth and figuring out the quilting stitches will be different, of necessity.  But I found it really helpful in so many ways.  She also has a video up on YouTube which is also instructive.  So I quilted until the Bad Cold determined that I would not be quilting.

Quilting Santa_2

So the quilt is loosely folded up on my sewing room floor, waiting until I get better, get the Christmas tree decorated, the Christmas caramels made, the stack of research papers graded, the final given, the final graded. . .  But you know, Santa doesn’t come until the 24th of December, does he?  I doubt mine will arrive much before that either.  And somewhere in there we need to do a little bit of shopping.  Yessiree, it’s a bad time of year to be in bed with a bad cold.

Quilting. . . and a Sticky Question

Facets Quilting_1

It begins here.  I printed off a picture of my quilt, then took a fine-point sharpie to “quilt” in the designs I thought I would do.

Facets Quilting_2

Then this happens.  Over and over, on each row.  For every hour quilting, I spent half an hour unpicking.  Wrong color thread.  Wrong pattern.  Wrong shape.  Wrong style.

Facets Quilting_4

Finally, things start working.

Facets Quilting_3

Facets Quilting_5

I admit it.  The last row got stippled, as I was pretty tired and my shoulders hurt from quilting.

Facets Quilted_1

I put it up on the pin wall, but something’s not working.

Three Tries for Facet

I pin up different centers–hard to see on this small picture, but I know it’s the center.  I call in my resident quilt expert.  “Looks nice,” he says, in the same tone of voice as when he answers the question “Does this make me look fat?”  I know now what is wrong, but I am loathe to admit it.  I turn out the light and go to bed.

Facets unpicking_1

In the morning, I pick up my seam ripper.  Unpicking dense quilting gives you a chance to think.  A lot.  Here comes the sticky question, but first the set-up.  I own a good-quality Viking/Husqvarna sewing machine, but it was purchased before we all started quilting so much on our quilts, even though it is called the Quilt Designer.  After three tries, I finally found the foot that works for me, the tension, the everything to allow me to quilt on my machine.  But my quilting doesn’t look like Judi Madsen’s on The Green Fairy, or on other blogs that I haunt.  And I know why: my domestic sewing machine, without a stitch regulator, cannot compare to what a long-arm can do.  Or even a baby long-arm.  It’s just me and the thread, me and the pedal, my hands moving supposedly in sync with the speed of the machine.

But it’s not enough anymore, is it?

Facets unpicking_2

What was wrong with the middle was my quilting.  The shape of the fern, the stitches that hover near even, but occasionally veer into very small or a bit-too-big, the whatever–it was just wrong.  Free-Motion Quilting — the REAL free-motion quilting, has its warts, showing the artisan behind the tool.  But that’s not what we are after anymore, is it?  We want perfection: no bobbles, no wobbles.

So after three hours of unpicking, I am back here.  And the reality of where our industry is heading today is that if I want a quilt that I feel I can enter in a show, or display wherever, I’ll have to step up on the quilting front, because no matter how you look at it, the ones with the bigger, more extensive machines with stitch regulators will always have it over me on my little domestic machine. Because of the limitations of my tools, I don’t know if I can make it right.

But I’ll try.

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Note: You may occasionally see ads here placed by my blogging software.  They place ads so I can blog for free.  It’s an okay trade-off.

Hot Mitts, take two

Just a little something I put together. . .

Kim Hot Mitts

. . .for my daughter-in-law Kim, who, when I posted them on Instagram said she liked them and “hint, hint.”  I was happy she wanted some!  They were for her birthday.

HotMitts

I used Malka Dubrowsky’s fabric again, as it hides cake-mix-on-thumbs really well.

Quilting hot mitts back

I liked how the quilting looked from the back, on the heat-repellant fabric.  Click *here* for a pattern and how-to’s.

Sam Graduation

My husband and I drove in and attended my nephew’s graduation from University of Southern California, known for its well-endowed education in an academic sense.  In other words, lotsa money at this place.  Congratulations on finishing law school!

USC reception

They had a little reception afterwards and it was like a garden wedding–and delicious.

St. Honore Bottega Louie

But we took off and met the rest of the family at Bottega Louie, where this cool-looking St. Honore caught my eye in the dessert case.  Instead of trying to figure out how to get it home in one piece, I bought macarons in five different colors, and shared them all weekend with my husband.

But I have bigger news about this family gathering in the next post.  (No, I am not pregnant.)  Stay tuned.