Wednesday, March 27, 2013


12" x 12"
March 2013
commercial fabrics, batiks and hand-dyes
machine stitched and quilted
hand sewn beads

My little dragon is preceding me to New Mexico right this very minute. Two days of pushing and I managed to get him done.

Here's a close-up of his face. It really is so very hard working this small. I am just not used to it. I found myself with my nose 2 inches above the presser foot with my zig zag setting somewhere close to one. Tomorrow will be a welcome change working with the bigger quilts again.

I made the decision that even though I am not currently working, I am going to go to Santa Fe for the convention. I had booked my room eons ago but yesterday I bought my plane ticket. I'm going for a week, Tuesday the 23rd to Tuesday the 30th. I have to rent a car and I will be doing a bit of sightseeing as I had been planning a few months ago. I'm really looking forward to it and I hope to see all the people I met in Denver and meet and get to know some new friends. 

On to the big quilts.

Monday, March 25, 2013

More Dragon

This is where I left off two nights ago with the latest dragon. Both wings were stitched completely in lilac thread. With only two work days left to finish this one off I need to put in a full day in the studio tomorrow and Tuesday. I've been thinking about what to name this one. Still up in the air as is often the case with me.

Yesterday and this morning I did some more stitching. The breastplate is completed and the scaly skin of the lovely aqua Lunn fabric is complete. Tomorrow's agenda includes stitching on the rest of the pieces and quilting some areas in order to finish off the actual stitching. By tomorrow evening, I'd like to cut the whole thing to the right size and finish the edges. On Tuesday I'll be adding beads by hand, crafting a sleeve and signing it. On Wednesday it goes in the mail.

More progress tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dragon Progress

I started working on the SAQA auction quilt this week. My initial drawing of it is to the left. I made a few composition changes to it and then started right in.

I chose my background from a group of hand dyes I bought quite a while ago from Lunn Fabrics. This was a gorgeous hot fire piece of red, pink orange and yellow. I hated having to cover up so much of it but it was perfect for the project. I added a pale blue, cloud swirled batik for a moon. I had a lot of fun picking through my blacks to find the rock fabrics. While I usually choose batiks for my work, I chose from my commercial prints for almost all of these rock pieces and used only one batik. There is a lot of color in these blacks and it picks up the background. One of the rock fabrics was chosen for the backing print. This is how the project looked at the end of my first day.

Taken in poor lighting this is how I left the project this evening before dinner. Yesterday I spent most of my day working on a big quilt but before going to bed I cut the pieces for the dragon. After sleeping on it I put them all in my scrap basket and took out all my aqua batiks to start over. I am one for keeping things connected, so I chose another Lunn fabric for the largest area of the dragon. It worked great. I ended up cutting one piece four times from four different fabrics before it looked right. Thank heavens for my work wall.

You can see my pile of aqua blue batiks. At one point I had them scattered everywhere before honing them all down to a handful. Miss Super Mario was helping and is guarding the pile in this shot.

After finally choosing the dragon colors I began stitching with the wings. The larger sections are filled with straight stitching to create the look of gossamer wings. I finished both wings. Tomorrow I will start in with the underbelly of the dragon, sectioning it off like a knight's armor. It will also have straight line stitching to give it texture. Then I will be able to iron the arms and claws down. I am aiming to have this finished and ready to mail by next Wednesday so it can get to it's destination by Monday the 1st. Lots more work to do.

Yesterday I ordered Martha Sielman's new book, Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits.
I can't wait to get it as I have heard nothing but wonderful things about it. Amazon has it at a very reasonable price, $8.60 + shipping which came out to $12.59 for me here in the Northeast USA. I'll be posting on it when I get it. If you are thinking about buying it for your library, I would buy soon at this price before someone realizes that it should be selling for more money.

More posts on the dragon's progress will be coming soon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SAQA Auction Piece

This week I started my week in the studio thinking that I need to get a move on if I am going to have a quilt to donate to SAQA for the auction. So I spent a good part of the day drawing in a 12" x 12" space. The one that excited me most was a new dragon. Above is my first draft of him. I already see a few areas that I want to change tomorrow before I begin playing with the colors to make him come to life.

Last year, 2012, was the year I can't remember. It was such a stressful and bad year that I think I was in survival mode and that's it. If I was in the studio for a month all year it was more than I can remember. I began to come out of it around December after leaving my job. I did not submit a quilt to the auction last year. Didn't even turn my computer on for months. But the year before I did submit one and it did sell well for $150, which makes me glad to have been helpful. It was a floral of three sunflowers. I was thinking this morning about what is marketable. Will a dragon be something someone will want to buy and place on their wall? I started drawing florals. But I haven't been drawing them for a while and I just realized that I am in a different place than I was two years ago. Flowers just don't thrill me much anymore. For the past three months I have been immersed completely in a world of wolves, dragons, mermaids, goddesses and snakes. It's been fun. Like it or not the drawing I have chosen is the dragon. 2012 was the year of the dragon, so I will give a nod to the year that wasn't in the year that IS becoming exciting.

My little muse, Miss Super Mario, keeps me company every day now. I spend a lot of time shooing. She loves ironing  boards, in-progress quilts, stacks of stash, behind the machine (even when I'm stitching), and on my lap. She is a face licker. But as annoying as it can be to stop what I am doing to shoo her out of harms way, she is great company and she is really helping me focus.

As an aside, I was reading my emails today and noted one from my SAQA group in yahoo. A quick note from Carole Lyles Shaw carried two links to youtube tutorials on how to do a mitered corner when putting on a quilt binding. I watched them both and felt they were clear, concise and very helpful. They have had over 44,000 hits. Thank you Carole for sharing with us and I would like to extend the share to all my readers.

Quilt Binding The Barb Sackel Way--2 part video. 

Hope you find them helpful and thanks to Carole and to Barb Sackel.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Visions Museum Show in So Cal

Just a quick note for my readers in the Southern California area. If you don't already know that this show is there, it is an amazing show. I have often credited it as the reason I am quilting. You can find museum info in my link area. Boy do I wish I were traveling to So Cal soon!


Now on View

Playing with a Full Deck

March 1—May 19, 2013

Also Opening
Images of Time, Pacific Quilt Artists
Canyon Quilters Children's Book Challenges
Visions Fortune Telling Challenges

King of Hearts by Diane Herbort

King of Hearts by Diane Herbort

Friday, March 15, 2013

Three Minis Complete

She's done. Between yesterday and today I managed to get all three minis finished off.

Swimming in the Blue
7 1/4" x 9 1/4"
March 14, 2013
commercial fabrics, machine stitched

I've really been having fun with the minis. They are a bit of a challenge though. Everything is just so small and compact. As per usual with me, some of my photos are not very good. Oh well, I'll just have to try again tomorrow.

7 1/4" x 9 1/4"
March 15, 2013
commercial fabrics, machine stitched

I decided to wrap the background fabrics around to the front of each one giving them a 1/2" border. Again this seemed a bit more tiresome than usual because of the tiny size. This one I am working on is called "Mermaid's Tale."

Right is "Crest" before I stitched in the border. I hope to do many more of these. They have been very helpful in terms of my picking color choices and I do intend to sell them. 

So tomorrow I clean up my mini mess and forge ahead with one of the bigger quilts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


OK, so I actually finished the piecing and stitching of this mini today, but my photograph was awful so I'll have to try again tomorrow. This is a shot of her almost completed but with only a few lines of stitching. She looks pretty good finished and I did learn a lot about which "hair" fabrics to choose.


I completed my drawing of Queen Bee. The composition of the girl and her bee hive hairdo is in some ways very similar to the completed "Without" or as I call her Blue Girl. Blue girl is having a red aura day. Some people see the spirals as hair but for me it has always been about her spirit, which is one of passion. I was learning techniques at the time I began this older piece and there is more than one experiment which made it's way into this finished product. But the left facing composition of a simply beautiful girl with a background filled with movement has intrigued me for a long time. No wacky experiments this time. As it always happens now with me, I will probably change some of the drawing as it is enlarged and as I am piecing it. Almost square she will be brought up to somewhere around 45 to 48 inches. Expect Bee to be full of honey golds, the flowers which are lilies somewhere in the purple to pink range and a very dark background in places to set off her honey skin. Oh and there will be lots more bees!

Still dreaming about the the tomato goddess. You can now see about where I am headed with my thoughts of her. What I need is for the pencil to make it's way across the page as if it knows where it is going. Not there yet. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thinking Small

There's a new cat in the studio and she is my muse. Her name is, of all things, Super Mario. Yes it is a her, and I had nothing to do with naming her. She is visiting for a bit while my son's girlfriend is detoxing from her allergy to cat dander.  As you can see Miss Mario likes to sit atop pieces from my stash as I work on my table. Thankfully she has not discovered my armoire full of fabric. I do not like finding lots of fur on my fabrics. She is a very sweet cat and since she has moved in I have had a huge resurgence of creativity.

While still working a few hours a day on my large quilts, I have added mini pieces into the mix. I am hoping that these small pieces will be marketable for me so I can start making some money at this. I have no outside job lined up and don't know if I will. Still in a bit of limbo that way. So while I am home, I am using my time to work, work, work in the studio. My minis are  based on a 6" x 8" format. So far all that I have drawn are vertical but I will flip to horizontal if I think a design warrants it. The ones that are in the works are like artist proofs for a larger quilt. I am using them to try out fabric choices, thread choices, quilting designs and even a general feel of color to suggest a mood. In doing so I have already discovered some changes I wish to make on the larger quilt, in this case my "Mermaids" quilt which still needs some work on the actual mermaids.

Above, I changed up the colors of the wave and the sky to create a different mood from the larger quilt. I like the combination of colors and may move to create another ocean piece with these fabrics as major pieces. Even though working small can be a real strain on my eyes, I am finding that I can pop them out in a day or two. The more I do the faster I get.

These two are completely pieced and awaiting a few chalk pencils to draw up their quilting lines. I need to make a trip to the fabric store which is not something I want to really do because it always results in my spending money I don't have on stash. I'll probably get about 8 or 10 of these done and waiting for quilting and then do them all in a day.

I worked on mermaid hair today. The mini above was about half pieced as I took this shot. I finished piecing it this afternoon and am about half done with my stitching lines. This one has really helped me see the strongest choices for colors and patterns in creating the hair. As we all know mermaids are sirens, visually appealing to men, they are beautiful enough to tempt but they have a harpie side to them. It's not easy finding that fine line between the two. 

And so this leads to my thoughts on where I am heading in terms of my style. I can't deny that there is a strong storyteller in me. It is the place I go to most often when I conjure up a drawing. I can create landscapes and florals well but they lack the strength of my conviction. When I want to get inspired not only do I go to my art books and pictures of other works of art but I have been using pinterest a lot to find inspiration in colors, textures, patterns and yes artwork too. I find myself relating to artists who illustrate, which I know sometimes is wonderful and sometimes presents a challenge to find artistic integrity. I do not wish to fall into the later group of artists so I am working very hard to remember that stories are best when they are told WELL.

I am also a bit frustrated working with large size quilts. Part of me feels that they need to be large to give me lots of space to create that "wow" factor that I always try to create. Lets face it mermaids and dragons command space. But they take so much time to finish. Ugh. I just have to push through the few I have on deck and get them done. My muse kitty has helped me work some new drawings too. One of them is almost done. My daughter is sitting for me tomorrow so I can finish it off. It is an extension of a couple of older ideas and an older quilt, "Without." So far I see two pieces coming up here, one is the Queen of all bees and she is the one that is almost done. The other is the tomato goddess, which I had dreamed up a long time ago. She is coming a bit slower than the bee queen but I expect that one to be done soon too. Both of these will be done up in a mid range size no bigger that 4 feet in one of the directions. This should make them easier to finish up.

In the next few days I will have a few more minis finished up to show and my preliminary drawing for "Queen Bee." So I'm off to get some sleep and hopefully dream about my tomato goddess.