Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Lowell Quilt Festival
August 8 - 10, 2013

A Citywide Celebration
of Quilts & Fiber Arts

It's coming up soon. As I promised I want to let my readers know what is happening with all the details. Lowell, Massachusetts is the home of an annual quilt festival that spans several venues in the city. One of the northern-most cities in MA, it is easily accessible to southern New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont as well as eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island and cities in Massachusetts, such as Boston, Worcester and even the Berkshires. I took my three quilts up to the New England Quilt Museum this morning via Rt.495 and it took me about an hour and a half one way. However, if you live farther away than that, you may want to make it a three day visit and stay at an area hotel such as the UML Inn & Conference Center which is right in the thick of downtown. There are several parking garages in the area, one of which is very close to the NEQM and the Visitor Center at 304 Dutton St.

So what have they got cooking up there?

Let's start a walking tour at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium at 50 East Merrimack St. This is the home of the Images Quilt Show including a show of traditional quilts, art quilts, a vendor mall, a quilt appraiser, lectures and the show my pieces are in, 'Three Cohesive Pieces', a regional SAQA show. Admission to this venue is $12 (valid all three days; includes NEQM entry). There is a group discount for 5 or more people but you have to move fast for this - the deadline is July 31.

You may wish to move on to the Whistler House Museum of Art at 243 Worthen St., which is showing 'Art Quilts at the Whistler: What's My Line?', art quilts exploring the use of line either literally or figuratively. Admission to the Whistler is $5. Also within a short walk is the Brush Art Gallery & Studios, 256 Market St, which is showing 'Art Quilts Lowell: Tangled Up In Blue' and is free with donations welcome. At Appleton Mills at 219 Jackson St., you may view functional quilts with a modern aesthetic at a show called 'Quilts from the Boston Modern Quilt Guild' which will also include quilts from 'Quilts for Boston' a relief effort from BMQG for those affected by the bombings in Boston this spring. Admission here is also free. Rounding out your downtown walk brings you back to the New England Quilt Museum at 18 Shattuck St. where you will see the show 'A Slice of Cheddar: Antique Pennsylvania Quilts' (free with your Images admission or a $7 admission). I viewed this show this morning and it is a powerful show of color.

Other venues included in the festival are the American Textile History Museum at 491 Dutton St. (admission $8), with "Behind the Veil: Brides & Their Dresses' and the All Arts Center at 307 Market St. (admission free, donations welcome), with 'The Fabrication of Imagination 2013: 3D Fiber Arts' featuring both wall and free standing fiber art.

Hours for the festival are Thursday & Friday, 10am - 6pm and Saturday, 10am - 4pm. There is a Gallery Night, Friday, Aug 9 from 5pm - 8pm for all venues except Images in which admission is free. There will be two free shuttle buses running for all three days if you prefer your exercise at the gym.

So what else is there to do in Lowell? A large part of the city has been designated part of the Lowell National Historical Park. Lowell's water powered textile mills were integral to the industrial revolution. You can experience the workings of those huge looms and the machinery that fueled them, traverse a canalway walking trail, or take a canal boat tour or trolley tour. For information on schedules and fees, contact the Lowell Visitor Center. I have experienced two of the many eateries in the downtown area and can attest that you can find some wonderful dining in Lowell as well. There are way too many to list so you may wish to google a few Lowell restaurants before you go.

Here are some numbers if you have questions about the festival: for the Images show, NEQM or Appleton Mills call 978 452-4207, The Whistler: 978 452-7641, The Brush: 978 459-7819,  The American Textile History Museum: 978 441-0400, the All Arts Center: 978 221-5018, the University of Mass Lowell Inn & Conference Center: 877 886-5422 & the Lowell Visitor Center: 978 970-5000.

If you prefer something visual here are some links:

If you love quilts and you are in New England then this is the place to be in just a couple of weeks. I will definitely be there on Saturday all day but may also go up on Thursday. If you want to coordinate times with me so we can share the fun, leave me a message here in my comments box with an email so I can get in touch with you. 

See you in Lowell!

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Box of Crayons

OK, how many of you art lovers started out as kids who loved getting a new box of crayons, all pointy and full of the smell of wax. In an art store, I revert in seconds to a kid in her type of candy store. My darling husband gave me Pantone markers and a sketch pad for our 8th anniversary this July 2. I couldn't wait to crack 'em open.

With the heat pushing me out of the studio into the only air conditioned area of the house, the bedroom, I found myself enjoying 'the doodle.'

My first two are named Supermoon and Rainstorm

Then came Autumn Inside...



And Geology, which I am still working on.

I am having so much fun! You can see that I love graphic design, which is what I studied most of in college. Even my paintings in college were graphic in nature, resembling silk screens. For two years, in the summers before my Junior and Senior years, I worked for a company called Gravure Engraving. They primarily produced copper cylinders for the printing of fabrics. In the art room I learned to find the repeat in a drawing, and redraw it in order to create a perfect 'step' repeat. These were the years before computers. I often wonder what those 30 or so people are doing now for a living.

Well, I was doodling and surfing the net basking in relative cool one day when I wandered upon Spoonflower. Some of you may know this company. Spoonflower makes it possible for individuals to design and print their own fabrics, wallpapers and gift wrap. They do this by using large format digital inkjet printers which have been modified to print on yardage. Unlike the former employers from my youth, this company is eco-friendly using water based inks and natural fiber textiles. 

If you find a design you want to buy while looking through their many options, you have a choice to buy a sample (8" x 8") for $5.00, a fat quarter (21" x 18") for $10 to $11, and yardage that costs $17.50/yard for basic combed cotton. Starting at $15.75 you can design your own fabric for any use at home with 10 different grades of natural fabric to choose from. You can have your design tile stepped, half stepped or mirrored as well as a few others. When you go to reach for that fabric you just can't find, you now have the option to make it exactly as you want it. Here is a link to Spoonflower so you can have hours of fun looking at all the designs: http://www.spoonflower.com/welcome

So I may be reworking a couple of these in order to create a repeat that I can make up into fabric. Won't that be so much fun! And perhaps someone else will want to buy my fabric too. More fun! I will keep you informed as I go through this process. Perhaps you will be seeing my fabrics soon!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Heat

Summer has hit us in the Northeast with a vengeance. As I type it is dark out, about 8:30 pm and the thermometer reads 83 degrees still. I am sitting in a pile of sweat. During the day when it is sunny, my studio, which is not air conditioned, is about 90. This is a heat wave and I'm not liking it! I can't seem to get motivated to sit in a hot window and stitch. But my creativity has had it's moments. 

In my last post you saw my three pieces which I entered into a local SAQA show in Lowell, MA called "Three Cohesive Pieces." They were accepted and will hang there from August 8 - 10. Woo Hoo! This summer, four out of four pieces that I entered will be showing. It is a great start and gives me a solid base for a beginning resume and also gives me encouragement to keep going.   

So keep going I must. I mentioned a fourth piece that I had started for the show in Lowell but decided that it would not work with the other two. It is called "Monumental" and I'd like to show my work on it so far. If you have ever needed a light box but not had one, I discovered a window can work just as well. This is my beginning of my drawing the bricks in this piece with my fabric markers.

In this shot you can see more of the drawing showing through the fabric and what I have already drawn.

Later in the day when the sun is not quite so strong, you can see more of what is drawn on top than what is on the paper below.

In this shot, I have completed the drawing and added in the fabric for the shadows. I love this fabric, which is one I found in Newton at a small shop where we had our last regional SAQA meeting. It is a dark brown/black with miniscule dots all over it in bright colors. It is a great fabric for bringing color into dark areas in a subtle way.

I got all my drawing done on the right side of the building and all the shadows fused. Next I moved on to try out other fabrics for the left side, which is shaded. I had trouble seeing value. A friend suggested using black and white to see it, so I copied swatches of my fabric choices in groups of threes on the B&W setting of my copier, so I could see the value better. In doing so I was able to make the right choice of fabric.

Super Mario is still helping me in the studio. Here she has chosen my winning option by sitting down next to it. I joke. In reality sometimes I can't believe that I just don't have quite the right fabric with the right value, color and print for what I need. I have so much fabric! I guess it is never enough. Anyone else have that problem?

This is as far as I got before the heatwave set in. The fabric to the left of the shadow still needs to be drawn. To the far left is my choice for the border which will be similar to the three completed pieces in my Santa Fe group. From this point on, pretty much all I have left to do is stitch, in which I will follow the lines of the brick. I may continue to do a piece or two to follow this body of work later in the year, but once "Monumental" is done I will begin going in a different direction.

And you might be asking, "in which direction will she head?" I have begun rounding up fabrics for "Queen Bee." With the crisis going on presently of a million bees dropping dead from chemicals on GMO seeded farms, I feel a need to get into my piece devoted to the love of bees. I have enlarged the queen to about 48" square. You can see the edge of my work table which is 60" wide. She fills the table.

I have done some redrawing and fine tuning to get her the way I want her and I am about ready to start. Her skin will be a peachy golden blend of a hand dye. Her dress will have another hand dye mixing yellow, aqua and orange. The background will be punctuated with black batiks which sport bright colors popping through. The lilies will be blending yellow-orange, orange and pink with turquoise leaves. And there will be scads more bees than the ones I have drawn. I have a cache of small gold-tone bee buttons that I have been saving for ages and they will land on this quilt. One good thing is that I can see her in my mind. I can't wait to get started. I can't wait to see her done! Mother Nature please give me cooler weather or let me win the lotto so I can install air conditioning in the studio.

Tomorrow I will post about what I do to feed the creative when it is so hot that I can't be in the studio. I can hint that it involves the company 'Spoonflower' which offers the service of printing fabrics, papers and decals. We'll chat tomorrow!