Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blue Mystique

Isn't this just the most beautiful color orchid! It's a gift from my husband, Tony, for my birthday which is today. I love having a birthday in the spring as it's my favorite time of year. Everything in the garden starts to green up and grow. After such a harsh winter so full of snow, it's just wonderful having a spring finally. Still a bit cool here though so my attention falls to my indoor flowers, especially this new beauty.
I have such good luck with orchids bought reasonably at the Home Depot. The blue orchid is named Blue Mystique. Since they are so cheap, I'm always able to get new ones and I have them all over my house. The one below is a usual coloration for an orchid. This is also a gift from Tony. I have the same color orchid I bought last year in my kitchen and it has rebloomed this year but with fewer flowers.
Having flowers in the house is so inspirational to me when it comes to finding my artists heart. Cut flowers are lovely for such a short time, so I really have loved having the orchids growing in my home. The bright magenta one below is a miniature orchid I picked up last year at HD. It sits in the west exposure window of my kitchen above my sink, catching a lot of steam from cooking and cleaning and just the right amount of sun. I was thrilled to see such a lovely show of flowers again this year. It has a sister miniature sitting next to it which has a yellow flower that is sending up a shoot with buds. Just about the time that the flowers fall off of the magenta one, the yellow one will be blooming.
To update my progress on Mermaids, I have been stitching the wave. It is so frustrating pulling and pushing this large quilt through the space on my Bernina, that I am actually considering getting a new machine. This sounds like blasphemy to me as I have loved my current machine for years. I have created pieces as large as 4 feet in one direction before but usually smaller in the other direction, either 2 or 3 feet. They are not easy either but by comparison to my 4 x 6 foot Mermaids, they were relatively easy. Most of my work has been on the smallish side up to this point, so I am getting a real education in how to deal with large quilts. My plans for quilts in the near future include many more large quilts, in the range of 4 x 6 or even larger.

I have loved my Bernina because of it's perfectly consistent and beautiful satin stitch, which is an essential part of the look and construction of my style. This makes it difficult considering a different machine as it would need not only to have a longer arm but a consistently perfect satin stitch. I have been thinking about a Janome but I haven't done any real research yet. I would welcome any suggestions, or opinions on machines from my fellow quilters. I guess that my birthday wish is for a sewing machine that meets all my needs!

As I am almost finished with the wave's satin stitching which holds all the pieces on to the backing and quilts them to the piece, I will be shifting focus to the two mermaids soon. The mermaids get fused and stitched over the existing wave. The wave is a commanding presence and is just beautiful. I don't want to destroy it by choosing poor fabric choices for the mermaids. I need for it all to flow visually and this is my next hurdle. I'm excited by the prospect and eager to start in.

Another thing which is on my mind is my trip to Denver, rapidly coming up in a month's time. I'm excited about meeting the women I have been talking with in the Visioning Project and about learning new things and discussing my craft. Not real happy about all the issues the airlines have been having lately. I am flying out and as always a bit nervous about that. I do love a good adventure though, and I'm about to have one!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Wave Comes to Life

I love how I start in on a quilt with an clear and planned idea of where I'm headed and end up in a slightly different place. This is the joy of art. The colors are chosen, the wave is cut and ironed and I have started stitching it down. Looking at the fabrics I lined up to use, especially knowing which were my expected favorites, I'm enjoying looking at which ones were and weren't used. The wave has a life of it's own. I used lots of fabrics with dots and "bubbles." The wave grows from the darkest, most saturated and even muddy teals up through mid-hues and into lighter, clear-color blues and aquas. It really has the look and feel of water, a cresting, Japanese inspired wave. I pulled it up out of years of summers on Cape Cod - my Mom and Dad's summer home and finally the site of my Mother's retirement. I have spent countless hours watching the ocean move, and spill. And now that I needed to create a wave, it came mostly from feeling; the smell of salt air, the glint of sun reflecting off a breaker, the feel of sand between my toes.

Sewing is a challenge, even though most of it so far is just long straight lines from left to right and back again. My Bernina, which I love for the constancy of it's satin stitch has a rather short arm. I am rolling and unrolling like crazy. It's a bit of a challenge! As I look at the wave on my work wall or taking up almost all of my work table, I am overwhelmed by how big it is.
I'm not even going to think of the mermaids until all my wave stitching is done. Then I will drop them in on top.

Last night I got an unsolicited and very unusual complement from my husband. He is trained in art and is a jeweler by trade. He loves extreme realism in paintings and sculpture. His own drawings and paintings were exercises in extreme realism. He respects my work, but does not really have an affinity for it. He does have a good eye though, and his comment was that he thinks I am finally working on "a prize winner," as he put it. Put a smile on my face. I think he's on to something though. I am finally working from within to create this piece using everything I have come to learn about art; color, line, composition, repetition, etc. and blending these with as much of my heart and soul as I can muster.

I am working as much as I can after work on my day shifts - just trying to plug away at this to get it done in time to photograph it for entry by June 15. I must be out of my mind! Been thinking about how to use what I am learning with "Mermaids" in the next one, "Medusa." I have been collecting fabrics for "Medusa" too. Always thinking ahead! I just picked up a black and white snake scale print. I'll be hand painting over it to create stripes and diamonds on the snake skin. I'm looking forward to doing this. But for now, I have a quilt to finish and very little time to do it! Back to the sewing machine!