Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flowers and chocolate for breakfast

Good morning!
Can life get any better than this?

My neighbor Rosemary invited Julia and me to come over for a "special coffee surprise" today. Now I'm not a morning person, I am a chocoholic, and I adore flowers but am not much of a gardener. So I stepped out onto our porch bright and early at 11 a.m. to go over for my breakfast coffee and found two vases brimming with these luscious voluptuous hydrangeas of all colors. My gardener friend Nancy had dropped them off early this morning and not rung the bell because she knew I'd be deep in sleep. But I knew they were from her because I had admired her garden just yesterday.

THEN I got over to Rosemary's and, much to my delight, discovered that the "coffee" was a coffee cup made of chocolate filled with chocolate mousse, whipped cream, coffee beans, and more chocolate! What a way to start the day, to say nothing of the warm feeling that comes from having friends like these. (Note: Rosemary is the neighbor who threw the Dog Party that I blogged about in August.)

Nancy said the flowers should dry nicely on their own, so I hope to have beautiful dried hydrangeas for the holidays -- a luxury I've never had before.

Wishing you a colorful day!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Photographing the silk work

Looking through one of my silk quilts from the back side.

This year I've been doing more fabric art and quilting with
silk organza
because its transparency opens up a whole new dimension. Because you can see through the layers, you can multiply the color and shadow possibilities. Also, its airiness (when you omit the batting) lets a silk piece float and ripple if hung near an open window. Even photographing the work -- above and below -- is a new adventure. Instead of my usual technique of pinning the finished piece flat against a design wall for its portrait, I take the silk outside and let it play with the light and wind.

Visiting son Keith helps with photographs.

Look at those big, brown eyes! That's Ben Bailey from next door.

Once Keith got ahold of the camera, he was off to explore its closeup possibilities. He snapped the photo of our neighbors' dog, above, who came over to investigate the activity. This is the dog whose birthday party was chronicled a few blog posts ago. Then he zoomed in on the center an orchid on the kitchen counter, below. I think it looks like a bat.

Here is more silk patchwork (I painted the fabric -- it started out white) rolled up, pinned, and ready to go through the sewing machine.

The piece above has white batting underneath the organza, which softens the colors. You can see how overlapping the organza pieces allows for more color complexity ... orange over blue in the lower left yields gray ... blue over blue at the bottom gives a more intense blue ... orange overlapping blue yields lavender.

The details above and below are silk organza quilts that do not have batting, so they're floatier. On the one below I've attached scraps with safety pins while I decide if I like the placement. While the piece is hanging on a design board, I pin, stand back and look, sometimes take a photo, rearrange, look some more, go downstairs for some chocolate, look some more ... the longer I debate, the more chocolate I can have.

Have a colorful day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Texas book -- I'm in!

Just when I had given up hope that "Forest Fire Spirits" would be selected for the Texas quilt book (see post in July), I got an e-mail today from Karey Bresenhan that it will be included! It sure made my day. She said there will be 200 quilts featured in "Lone Stars III: Texas Quilts Today," to document Texas quiltmaking from the past 25 years.

This was my very first 100 percent me art quilt. Up until then, I had either followed traditional patterns (usually with non-traditional fabric) or created my own design but used commercial fabric. For this one, I painted ALL of the fabric, except the black, and created the design on the living room floor because my sewing room was too small. Since then it's been pretty much all original except when my mind needs to take a rest and I fall back on a soothing traditional style. 

I made it in 1997 when I lived in El Paso, Texas.

These are the roses that our neighbor gave Julia last week with her birthday pie. They graced our kitchen table for nearly a week, blooming bigger every day.

Have a colorful Day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fibonacci broccoflower, wild berries, and pie

Here's a strange one from Farmer Dave's garden (above).
We decided to call it a
Fibonacci broccoflower,
and we stand before it in awe. I don't know if we'll eat it or just worship it.

And this shows what happens in the Pacific Northwest
if you don't keep on top of those
wild blackberry vines.
They reach up and out from the woods and cover everything in their path. But we tolerate them to some extent because they do give us sweet wild berries every fall, like this cluster outside our back door.

Mmmmm ...
Blackberry muffins,
Blackberry jam,
Blackberries on pancakes ...

... and a blackberry-apple-rhubarb pie
that our neighbor Rosemary baked for Julia's birthday last week! Notice how she clipped roses from her garden that exactly match the colors of the roses on her china. It was a feast of fruit, flowers and friendship.

Have a colorful day!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fat quarters, stashes and stitches ...

Typical pile on a quilter's floor

"Fat quarters, stashes and stitches
are part our quilting festivities"

That's the headline on my column this week in the Peninsula Gateway. It's a little tutorial for the general readership on the nuts and bolts and art of quilting in honor of numerous quilting events that are taking place in Gig Harbor in September and October. You should be able to read the column on-line by clicking here:

I'm posting a few photos for non-quilting readers who might wander this way. First, some STASH photos:

Quilters love to organize fabric in baskets ...

and in drawers ...

We save the tiniest scraps.

Quilt stores carry "charm packets," little squares of coordinating fabric perfect for putting together a quilt with dozens of different fabrics.

This is a "layer cake," a packet of coordinating fabric
cut in 10-inch squares.
Another great marketing idea.

But there's more than fabric in a quilter's stash:

Yarn is great for adding texture.

Chocolate candy wrappers come in all colors,
plus they're nice and shiny!

A friend helping me in my old "studio,"
which was a corner of the living room.

My column talks about the difference between traditional and art quilts. Here are some examples of traditional quilts:

One of my quilt groups makes these quilts
to donate to cancer patients.
Note the repeating block patterns.

A friend at a quilt retreat arranges blocks on the design wall.

Me, a LONG time ago in front of one of my traditional quilts using the "Hole In the Barn Door" block. It's also called "Churn Dash" and "Monkey Wrench" among others.

A pile of "crazy quilt" blocks -- another traditional technique.
Elaborate hand embroidery and beading
are part of crazy quilts.

And now for some art quilts, which are made purely as art, not as bed coverings:

"Chocolate Nirvana in Red," by Sherrie Spangler
This one uses chocolate candy wrappers
-- I had to eat a lot, but it was worth it.

"Garden Gone Wild," by Sherrie Spangler
Here is where all that yarn comes in handy.

Yours truly again, this time with two of my art quilts. I'm wearing some of my yarn in a sweater that I knitted. I accidentally felted the sweater and now it's about the size of my head.

"Starfish Rising," by Sherrie Spangler
(Currently on tour with West Coast Wonders quilt exhibit)

This art quilt uses beads, hand-dyed embroidery floss
and hand-painted fabric.

Detail above shows a quilt with purposely exposed batting
(the fluffy white patch) and dangling gold thread tails.

Quilting stitches add another layer of design
on top of the fabric.

I hope this helped illustrate everything I discussed in my column.

But what's a fat quarter?

Answer: Normally when you have a piece of fabric cut at the store, it is cut clear across the width of the fabric as it comes off the bolt (usually about 44 inches for quilt fabric). So if you asked for "a quarter yard," you would get a piece about 44 inches wide by 9 inches long. But a "fat quarter" is cut across half the width, so it's about 22 x 18 inches. You get the same amount of fabric, but in a different shape. Most regular fabric stores won't cut fat quarters, but any quilt store worth its stash does.

Have a colorful day!

My man Kaffe is coming here!

I was standing in front of a humongous display (above) of Kaffe Fassett fabric at Island Quilter on Vashon Island, WA, last weekend, gushing to the guy behind the counter about how much I love Kaffe's colors, when he said, "He's going to be standing right where you are next month."

YES! Kaffe Fassett and design partner Brandon Mably will be giving two quilt classes, two knitting classes, a painting class and a lecture/book signing Oct. 8-12 at our little island here in the Puget Sound. Lord knows we need as much of their bright colors as we can get as we head into the grayness of another Pacific Northwest winter.

Island Quilter carries about 700 bolts of Kaffe's glorious colors, and it's right up front. Here's another photo (some of these may be other designers, but I think it's mostly Kaffe):

I wanted to bask in it all day. The store has more than 7,000 bolts total plus a gorgeous selection of yarn (below) and other goodies for quilters and other lovers of color. Those flowered rolls leaning to the left of the yarn are laminated, and I would've bought a length for my outdoor table except I couldn't remember its dimensions.

But I did buy some half-yard cuts to add to my stash and to fondle throughout the winter:

Store info:
Island Quilter
17626 Vashon Highway SW
Vashon, WA 98070
(206) 713-6000

Check out the website for details on the events.

Have a colorful day!