Friday, November 4, 2011

Allison Aller's Blue Ribbon Quilt

Allie has done it again -- a blue ribbon at the IQF! After 9 hours of looking at quilts and shopping, I am so tired that I can't remember the details; sorry, Allie -- would you mind leaving a comment with the information? I spotted the quilt from several yards away, and the first thing I noticed was that it appeared to glow! This photo does not do it justice.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

International Quilt Festival

Fabulous art in every direction. These are not your grandmother's quilts, for the most part, although grandma's quilts are here, too. Abstracts and representational quilts which have been painted, stitched, stamped, composed of the traditional 3 layers of batting sandwiched between 2 layers of fabric all the way to multiple layers, even 3-dimensional attachments ... a feast for the eyes in every direction in the enormous George R. Brown Convention Center.

The shopping is incredible and I'll post photos of my best "finds" after I get home.

I am poised between inspiration and a sense of complete failure as an artist. These are the best of the best and I know I'll never be that good. But I can be inspired and persevere so I am planning on going with that.

To be cont'd

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quilt Festival!

Slightly unfinished ATC
Tomorrow morning I'll set off for my first trip to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. I hate crowds, jostling, and loud talking and from what I've heard from others who have attended the Festival it is made up of crowds, jostling, and loud talkers. My friend Colleen persuaded me to go by offering a chartered bus, uh, motorcoach trip. Someone else drives, handles luggage, lets us out at the door of the hotel, and takes us to and from the Festival each day. And, we'll only be at the Festival for one evening and two days. I think I can handle that arrangement in exchange for fabulous shopping. Yes, I know it's a quilt festival, but I am interested only in the crazy quilts and art quilts -- a small part of the exhibition. Shopping is the big draw. Over 1,000 purveyors of all things textile selling their fabrics, laces, ribbons, and more. Buttons galore. Things I've probably never even heard of but desperately need. Colleen and I have even made Artist Trading Cards for the big swap over by the Quilting Arts magazine exhibit. I hope that I run into old friends in the aisles, wouldn't that be a great surprise?

Think of me in that crowd, jostling and being jostled, screaming to be heard above the din as I smack another woman's hand to get that last package of gorgeous lace. I'll let you in on my acquisitions (that word sounds so greedy, doesn't it?) when I return.

Time to finish those ATC's.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lavender Sage Art Retreat

Four days with 10 wonderfully creative women, making art in a beautiful studio in the Texas hill country with two amazing teachers. Wow! We learned about monoprinting, collage, sketching, watercolor painting, blind contour drawing, continuous line contour drawing, image transfer, journaling, making a box, and best of all we learned about ourselves as artists. We visited art galleries, ate some great barbecue and Mexican food, and our chef Tess fed us very well at the Studio. We spent time sketching at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I am truly grateful for the connections that we made with each other, and for the opportunity to observe such talented artists. Oh, and I had all kinds of fun, too!

Next Lavender Sage Art Retreat is in April, 2012.

Thanks to Sona for lunch and a visit to her beautiful home and studio on Monday. What a treat! From Sona's Colleen and I went to S. Congress to visit Uncommon Objects and Tesoros where we managed to acquire even more "stuff" than we did in Salado. By then we needed a snack and hit Guero's down the street before we left for Oklahoma, where we arrived home about 1:30am. Tired but happy.

I have posted my photos to MobileMe and I'll upload to the flickr group soon. Here's one of my favorites from the Wildflower Center. I believe this is Texas sage; it was blooming everywhere. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big CQ Countdown -- Block 3

Anyone who knows my friend Martha Green will recognize this "tribute block". Martha is a tremendously creative, prolific crazy quilt artist, and I've learned more from her than I can possibly ever thank her for. 

I've tried to stay true to the vibrant colors the Martha uses, and the skeleton image is an original piece of art by Martha. She made the image for me, and if you click on the image to see it full size, you will see the lizard on the shoulder of the skeleton, who is holding a mug of beer. There's a story behind it, of course, but I'll save that for another time and place.

Day of the Dead image, compliments to Martha Green
More blocks to follow!

I love gifts from friends!

I am so lucky! I have such talented friends. Two of my favorite friends were kind enough to bring lovely gifts to me at the Crazy Quilt Retreat in St. Louis. I received a crazy quilted tissue holder from Yvonne Streeter, and a bracelet from Lisa Caryl. Both gifts are handmade by the givers. (I highly recommend double clicking each image for a larger, clearer image.)

Top side of tissue holder.
Yvonne chose lovely colors.

Backside of tissue holder.
Lots of delicate hand embroidery!

My photography leaves much to be desired.
This bracelet has beautiful soft pinks and purples,
 and lots of sparkle.

It has been such fun wearing the bracelet and using the tissue holder this summer. Both have collected lots of compliments. Thanks, gals!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

I didn't have any plans for the summer, and it's a good thing I didn't. Life happened and I've been busy traveling between SW Colorado, Northern New Mexico, and Southern Oklahoma. More about that. First, apologies to all the people I've neglected. Unreturned phone calls, unanswered emails, brief instant messages ... I have been terrible at keeping in touch. I was either busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger, I was out of ATT's service area, or I was with other people.

Here's the story. I don't expect anyone to read it all the way through. Only my mother would do that.

When I returned from the Crazy Quilt Retreat at the end of June, I had just a couple of days before I took off for Durango, CO. The Las Conchas fire, the one that threatened Los Alamos, was burning when I drove from Albuquerque to Durango. See the two smoke plumes in the rear view mirror of my car?

Aunt Helen showing how tall the sunflowers are.
My favorite Aunt Helen wasn't feeling well, and she needed to me housesit and dogsit with her adorable dog Muffin because as soon as she felt well enough she wanted travel to Birmingham to see her sister, my Auntie Irene. Auntie Irene is in a place that cares for people with dementia. She's not doing so great. Despite this sad situation, Aunt Helen and I had a great time visiting, cooking, and just hanging out. She watches Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every day, which is when we would have a beer and feed a few peanuts to Muffin, her adorable dog. I had time to work on my crazy quilt while we chatted, and finished up several blocks; I'll post more photos of the completed blocks.

Helen's backyard is a tiny work of art -- even the deer think so!


[Update: Last week the deer's fawns showed up in the yard, and Muffin got a little beat up by Mama Deer when she (Muffin) barked at the babies! As far as I know she is bruised and scared to death, but not seriously wounded.]

I was in Durango for five weeks, and had time to visit with my son, Barry, who lives there. I enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Barry's girlfriend Shannon, who is smart, beautiful, fun, generous, kind -- everything a mother wants. I'd better shut up before I jinx it. Shannon's parents were in town for a few days and after meeting them it's easy to see how Shannon turned out to be so special.

The weather in Durango was wonderful. A little hot during the day, but cool at night. The weather in Oklahoma during that time was brutally hot and I was grateful to be in the mountains.

Cloudy sky from Aunt Helen's garden.
At the end of my stay in Colorado, my son and I drove back to Oklahoma, where he spent two weeks helping around the "place". He and his Dad are working to make us more self-sufficient, and they installed a large drip irrigation system in the orchard. I didn't take any photos because it was too hot to go up to the garden.

We celebrated every day by having a pool party from about 5pm until about 10pm. We stayed cool, had a wonderful time with each other, and laughed our heads off. No photos because I was wet!

After two weeks, Barry needed to return to Durango to prepare for a mountain bike trip through Arizona (and he missed Shannon), so we drove him to Albuquerque on Sunday, August 21, where Shannon picked him up for the remaining four hour drive back to Durango.

Rather than immediately return home, Bruce and I meandered through Northern New Mexico. We spent a night in Santa Fe, a night in Taos, and took an indirect route home through Northeastern New Mexico. Bruce took me to Philmont Scout Ranch where he spent many summers as a Boy Scout. It is beautiful and I'd like to visit again. We stayed in an old hotel in Cimarron, NM called the St. James, where we found excellent food and tales of the gunslingers who stayed in the hotel while in the area robbing trains and banks. A fair number of them shot up the bar at the St. James while killing each other.

Adobe walls outside our room at La Posada.

St. Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe

Sculpture at La Posada.

Garden at La Posada.

El Santuario del Chimayo.

Crosses on tree at El Santuario del Chimayo.

Cimarron River.

Palisades at Cimarron River State Park, NM.

Bruce taking photos at Cimarron River.

Sunrise over Philmont Scout Ranch, NM.
We visited the Capulin National Monument, a dormant volcano, which has spectacular views from the top.

By Thursday, August 25, we decided that we'd go home. You know the feeling, you know your own bed will feel wonderful, but it's hard to say goodbye. Glad to be home!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big CQ Countdown -- Block 2

I had fun doing this block ... well, I always have fun embellishing blocks. Unfortunately, my iPhone camera didn't do a great job on the colors. The oranges are brighter, and the blue area behind the big yellow flower is actually purple. I'll be leaving Durango for home tomorrow and I'll use my better camera to photo the rest of the blocks.

10" block, muslin backing, silk, taffeta, velvet, cottons.
Thank you, Betty Pillsbury, for the
paisley class.
White sequin flowers, pink stop beads,
green wool stem stitch vine
On a different note, I've enjoyed spending the last month with my aunt, who continually amazes me with her energy, generosity, creativity, and intelligence. We have enjoyed talking about old family stories and current politics. We've eaten healthy foods, and enjoyed a 5pm beer every day. When we followed the beer with wine at dinner we called ourselves drunken sluts and laughed like maniacs. She is only 12 years older than I am and we have become more like sisters than aunt/niece. She has an adorable dog, Muffin, who makes us laugh every day with her persistent attempts to finagle food. (She is very well fed, but not allowed to eat all day long, as she seems to want to do.)

 Muffin, 2011

I am not looking forward to returning home as the temp in my hometown, Norman, Oklahoma, today is 108F, with a predicted high of 110F. Durango is very cool at night (50's and 60's) and usually in the 80's in the daytime. I hope I don't melt in the driveway when I get home and get out of the car. I feel so fortunate to have air conditioning. How did our foremothers survive weather like that?

While I'll be sad to leave, I miss my husband and my little dog, Abby, (at left) who has probably forgotten me. 

Wish me a safe journey -- it's a 12 - 13 hour drive from Durango to Norman. My son is riding back with me, and this will be the first time we've been alone together for that many hours since he was a little boy. He spent 3 months in Chile earlier this year, and he just spent a week in California. The purpose of the California trip was to take his girlfriend to see Stevie Wonder in concert. I am hoping for lots of good travel stories.

Safe journeys to you and yours, 
wherever you may be on the planet

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Digital Poppies for Houston ATC Swap

I took time out from stitching to work on a few Artist Trading Card designs for the ATC swap at the Houston quilt show in November. I plan to print this on fabric, probably draining every drop of ink from my printer's color cartridge, iron it on to peltex, and embellish with beads and embroidery. I'll iron a fabric back on it, and finish the edge with a machine zig zag stitch or a hand embroidered buttonhole stitch. I love the colors, and I hope my printer will duplicate them as vividly as they show up in PhotoShop.

I started with a layer of solid fuschia, then added layers of brushstrokes in various colors. I added the flower photo (taken in my front garden in the spring), and placed it between layers until I got the effect I wanted. The green floral design across the bottom is a brushstroke, and I even tried some embroidery stitch brushes (didn't like the effect). PhotoShop brushes are fabulous, and with so many free ones out there it's easy to build up a large library. Some of my favorites are French handwritten script, kanji symbols, floral designs, and abstract designs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Big CQ Countdown

I do believe that I see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. I am working through my stack of "Big CQ by 2-0-1-2" blocks for the final time. I've finished a few blocks, and will be posting them here until they are all completed. I don't remember the exact count, but I think I have approximately 45 blocks in this project. Block #1 (below) has not been blocked, and intend to use Gerry Krueger's olderrose's blocking technique to straighten it out.

The working title of this quilt is "Hats' Desire".  As always, I look at my work and I see so many of my friends represented there. The little butterfly in the bottom right corner is one of Cathy Kizerian's Crazy by Design "golden lace" pieces. The hand dyed cotton lace across the center and the yellow sequins are gifts from KG. I purchased the purple crushed velvet while in Arkansas attending a cq class with Martha Green. I learned to make the yellow fargo roses in one of Judith Baker Montano's classes. Every block in this quilt is a reminder of happy times.

Monday, June 27, 2011

St Louis blues ... and greens and reds and mauves and pinks ...

For four days we stitched and shopped and laughed. Twenty eight crazy quilters met in O'Fallon, IL for the second cq retreat, put together by MaryAnne Griffin. We spread our projects over half a hotel ballroom and dropped threads and beads all over the carpet while we sewed and laughed. And what a talented group! I wish I had taken more care to get some good photos of people's work because there was plenty of eye candy spread around.

Martha Green and I traveled by car to the retreat and Martha dragged me into a huge candy store on I-44, somewhere in MO. We left with more sugar than we came in the door with. Enough said.

The first day of our visit, MaryAnne took us to a scary warehouse where we pawed over old jewelry and fabrics spread over an entire floor of the building. Donna of Donnaland, dealer in things old, was there to show us around.

Most of us left with some cool old jewelry to either wear or take apart to sew on something beautiful.

Martha and (I think) Bonnie (above) on the creepy warehouse elevator. It was the kind of place that might have been a set for a horror movie.

Things got even spookier when we went to a nearby restaurant (all part of the Lemp Brewery of old) said to be on the Top Ten Most Haunted Houses in the US. The food was great and I, at least, didn't run into any haints.

Then it was back to the hotel for more stitching and carryings on.

A few of the crazy women ... (as you can see I need some practice photographing people from the front).

A couple of the Kansas City group. Sorry I don't know names!

Yvonne and Kay

Lori Bates working hard. Lori was my roommate for the first night of my stay. It was a pleasure to meet her and get acquainted.

 Marci Henkel laughing evilly. (Or maybe she is just laughing, but she has such a great evil laugh.)

It was a wonderful retreat and god willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be back in 2012. Thanks again to MaryAnne and her helpers Willa and Mona for putting together such a great event.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tornadoes and Friends

Yesterday I was glued to the tv, watching the progress of the three major tornadoes that wreaked havoc on my little corner of the world. I am not a big fan of viewing live devastation, but these things were headed for me at various times and I wanted to know if I needed to get out of the way. I was one of the lucky ones yesterday. The tornadoes came close, but not close enough to hurt me or damage my home. Others were not so fortunate; several people lost their lives, many more people lost their homes. Oklahomans are a resilient bunch. We help each other, and we rebuild lives and property. We love the land and we love our state. (Oklahoma has some terrible things wrong with it, and change is needed, but we all agree that we help our neighbors in times of need.)

In the midst of this tv vigil, my phone rang and it was Yvonne Streeter, a crazy quilting friend from Texas. She was driving up Interstate 35 and found herself in my city just as the storms were coming in from the west. Since I live a good three hours from her and she was on a very long drive to Nebraska to see her mom, it was kind of an amazing coincidence that she was just a few miles from my house when she realized that she should get off the highway. She came over, we watched the storm together on tv, and my husband cooked dinner for all of us. It was such a nice thing to be able to provide, literally, shelter from the storm for a friend. When the storms had passed, we calmed down enough to stitch on our crazy quilts, and Yvonne spent the night in our guestroom before resuming her trip this morning.

I feel doubly grateful today that we were spared the horrors of the tornadoes at my house, and that I had a friend with me while the storm raged.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I have a gardenia bush in a pot on my deck and it is in full bloom. It smells heavenly and it has attracted a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly was so overcome by the fragrance that it didn't even notice me as I was snapping photos. (At least that's what I am making up about its lack of attention to me.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crazy Button Quilt by Pam Kellogg

Pam Kellogg of Kitty and Me Designs has made a lovely video of her crazy button quilt, complete with beautiful music. It's about 3 minutes long, and packed with the kind of eye candy that crazy quilters love. Pam has put together some of her wonderful stitching in an e-book, Elegant Crazy Quilt Seam Treatments.

Friday, April 15, 2011

the least among us

Okay, sorry, I've gone all political on you. I just needed to get this stuff off my chest. I have a surprise for tomorrow! Some cute little gift tags that are fun to make from fabric, but that's all I am saying for now.