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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stormy sunset scarf

Here's the result of the pile of yarn and fabric that I showed you last post that I pulled together to go with my stormy sunset photo.

It's a dream to sew through the Sulky Solvy now that I have my hair dryer plugged in beside the sewing machine to keep the Solvy unsticky.

Have a colorful day

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cookies, clouds and color bowls

South of Bellinham on I-5 through car window.

As promised in my last post, here are some cloud photos that I took in my corner of Washington state over the past month. I often go back to my photos when I need color inspiration, and skies provide unlimited inspiration for the abstract work that I like to do.

Pulling together fabric and yarn from the photo's colors.
We were hurtling down I-5 last week in a rain storm, Dave driving and me stuffing my face with a custard-filled Bismarck from Rocket Donuts. (Click on that link to see a mouth-watering photo of every donut on the menu.) The sky was getting really interesting, but I couldn't take a photo and hold the donut at the same time, and it was too messy to put down. Then the brilliant yellow-orange in the top photo broke through the gray and I threw that donut down, grabbed the camera, and started clicking away. This next photo is from the same stretch of highway:

Same stretch of road, same hour, vastly different sky.

Bellingham sunset, just south of Western Washington Univ.

The fiery sunset above and below was in Bellingham last month, and I made everyone wait to go out for pizza while I excitedly snapped away. You can be sure I'll pull these out for a color fix this winter. I think these clouds look like big soft pillows.

Same Bellingham sunset, looking in different direction.

Coiled fabric bowl under construction.

During drab days -- like today -- I like to make my "color bowls." Here's one that I worked on today. I finished it by sewing two rounds of uncovered red cord to create an interesting rim. I'd like to sew a whole shelf full of sunset bowls. (I'm never up early enough to see sunrises, although that would be a nice inspiration for bowls.) I added it to my holiday bazaar stack, along with the Sulky Solvy scarves.

I took these two photos at Crescent Lake in the Olympia National Park last month. The bottom photo was taken about 14 hours after the top photo.

These two were taken during our hike on Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island. You can see all the way into Canada and to Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier from the mountain. Take a close look at the middle island below. See that little white rectangle along the bottom edge of the island? That's a ferry.

I love the way the clouds seem to mimic the landforms -- great potential for art quilt design ispiration!

I just found this little book at a natural history museum and am going to use it to learn my cloud formations. The author, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, is the founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society, a global organization that fights "blue sky thinking." (Although I have nothing against blue skies.) He lives in Somerset, England. Check out the website, for some fantastic cloud photos.

Last but not least ... the cookies! I haven't had many food photos in the blog lately because my kitchen buddy, Julia, isn't home. But last night's chilly, rainy weather forced me to whip up a batch of chocolate chippers and eat a half dozen warm from the oven. You do what you gotta do.

Hope this post has inspired you to look up and see the clouds.

Have a colorful day

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clouds like snow

From my airplane window


"Clouds like snow." That's all I could think of as I flew over these clouds somewhere east of Seattle. The sky, its colors, its clouds, the atmosphere have been my main artistic inspiration for a long time. (The quilt from the last post was inspired by outer space photos taken by the Hubble.)

I'm preparing another blog post with more cloud photos from my recent Northwest travels -- the only problem is trying to narrow down the selection! Be back soon.

Have a colorful day

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Art inspires poetry in "Deep Spaces"

Visiting my quilt in the "Deep Spaces" exhibit in Edmonds, WA

Last week I headed to Edmonds, WA, north of Seattle, for the ArtsCrush opening that included the "Deep Spaces" fiber exhibit that I'm in. A very special treat -- an honor, really -- was getting to hear the Floating Mountain Poets read their poems inspired by our art. The poets chose the pieces they wanted to write about after seeing the photos and titles of our work, but not our artists statements.

"My" poet, David Jones -- check him out at -- hit a home run. I wanted to pump my fist in the air and yell, "Yes, yes!" as he read, but I'd never actually do that because I'm quiet and reserved. So here he is, and here is his poem:

David Jones, left, reading his poem inspired by my quilt.
Another of the Floating Mountain Poets, right, listens.
Other Worlds

By David Jones


I want to remember a place like this
with warm colors and nice lines
a place where I can float in my dreams
and visit the suns of galaxies
in universes of pastel DNA chains
where the hills of green rise like towers
where the skies come alive
like being inside a kaleidoscope
filled with warm water
and there is a beach
with waves of sand that change in colors
and confuses you
as to where the sky ends
and you want to lie on this beach
watch the multitude of suns dance
for the gods and goddesses
who reign over a place
that defies boundaries
in a time of seeming chaos
with the elements in flux
a muse has come
gifted the hand of the artist
conveyed the vision
contained the dream of eternity
into a form you can understand

After the reading, we got to meet and pose for pictures in front of the quilt. I hope to hear him in person again some day, along with the rest of the fabulous Floating Mountain Poets.

Two days later I spotted this floating cloud mountain in Bellingham and snapped it as it sailed beyond the evergreen.

P.S. "Deep Spaces" will hang through Dec.9 at the Edmonds Conference Center. It will be part of the Edmonds Art Walk Opening on Nov. 17.

Have a colorful day

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blow drying the Solvy

I think I've solved the problem of the sticking Sulky Solvy from the last post. Thanks to everyone's comments, I decided to zero in on the idea that the stickiness might be caused by the high humidity here in western Washington (which we have about 11 months out of the year). In a blast of creativity and laziness, I thought:

Maybe I can blow dry it!

It worked! Just before stitching the Solvy sandwich, I blasted it with the hair dryer for a few seconds on each side. I stitched the whole scarf with only a little sticking, and as soon as I blew it again with the dryer I was good to go. I took the final result outside to photograph it against our Japanese maple.

Thanks again to everyone who offered suggestions.

Have a colorful day

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Silk and yarn no-knit scarves

Here's what I've been working on this week ...
Scarves to sell when the holiday bazaars begin.

They start with these strips of luscious feather-weight silk from half-yard cuts that I bought years ago in Taos. The price was right, the colors were better than anything I could paint or dye myself, and I knew that just a little would go a loooong way.

I especially like the one that shades from white to black -- the colors of Seattle in winter. So here's how I started my "Seattle Winter Scarf" (above). First I put down a piece of water-soluble stabilizer (I used Sulky Solvy) the size of the finished scarf. Next, arrange strips of silk, yarn and anything else you'd like to include. Here's a closeup:

Then cover it with another piece of stabilizer and pin the layers together with safety pins. Take it to the sewing machine and sew evenly all over, being careful to anchor everything in at least one direction. Then swish it around in water to dissolve the stabilizer, hang it to dry, and you now have a light, airy, one-of-a-kind scarf!

My only problem is that the machine foot has been sticking to the stabilizer after the first few inches, slowing things down considerably.

Every inch or so I have to raise the foot and tug everything forward. I've tried different feet (walking and regular), I've tried lowering the dogs and doing free-motion, I've tried different weights of Sulky Solvy, but nothing works.

Does anyone have any suggestions? This is an old technique, so a lot of you have probably tried it. Is there a better product?

Anyway, I slog along just because I get a rush from combining the colors and fancy yarns. When the sun came out a few days ago I took everything outside for photos so you can see some of the finished scarves along with the fabric and yarns that went into them.

I'm thinking of combining this brilliant blue with the black-gray-white silk for a "Seattle Summer and Winter Scarf." I'll work in green yarn for the trees.

Suggestions welcomed on the Solvy problem!

Have a colorful day

You're invited ...

"Other Worlds," by Sherrie Spangler

"Deep Spaces" fiber exhibit
Edmonds ArtsCrush Opening

Thursday, Oct. 20, 5-8 p.m.
Edmonds Conference Center
201 4th Ave. N., Edmonds, WA 98020

I'd love to meet any of you who happen to be in the Edmonds, WA, area next Thursday for this opening. My quilt, "Other Worlds," will be in the show. As part of the annual ArtsCrush, a local poets group will write poetry about the works in the exhibit, so I can't wait to see what's written about mine.

I hope to be there for most of the evening, unless traffic sets me back. Anyway, if you're there be sure to introduce yourself. You'll be able to recognize me because I'll be wearing colors to match the quilt!

The exhibit runs through Nov. 30, then it will travel to Sam Houston University Museum Jan. 10-March 12, 2012; and the LaConner (WA) Quilt and Textile Museum March 28-June 24, 2012.

Cheers to Larkin Van Horn
or organizing the traveling exhibit!

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A storm at sea ...

Crossing from Whidbey Island to Pt. Townsend, WA, on the ferry.

Your intrepid reporter got confused on the last post. I thought I had told you about the storm at sea, but I didn't. So here is my dispatch.

We arrive at the ferry departure point on Whidbey Island, reservations in hand for the ferry to Pt. Townsend:

That's us in line with the kayaks on top of the Toyota Venza. Have you seen the TV ads for the Venza, the ones where the grown kids worry that their empty-nester parents will be bored without them? Then the ads cut to the parents laughing as they unload their outdoor gear from the Venza and take off on their mountain bikes/horses/whatever. I guess we fit the demographic.

Here's another view from the ferry landing.
Notice the threatening clouds.
Anyway, the sky was very dark and the winds were gusting at gale force, so they told us they might not be able to cross. The last trip had been canceled and our boat was being tossed around out in the water because the captain didn't know if he could dock it safely. Veteran ferriers that we are, we were prepared to wait. We pulled out our sandwiches, chocolate bars, coffee and books and settled in along with everyone else in line. An hour or two later they decided to take a chance and we all drove on.

Here's a view from inside the ferry. It was rocking so much that they tied all the doors shut and roped off the stairways. That was a first for us.

It was sort of exciting!

Instead of a straight crossing, the captain had to zig zag into the wind, which meant a lot of VERY sharp turns that left us looking down into the maelstrom. The first time it happened he didn't warn us what he was doing and I thought we might be capsizing. He also hadn't warned us yet to stay in our seats, so people were staggering all over the place like drunken pirates, trash cans were sliding around and I hated to think about the poor people in the restrooms.

I still wasn't too worried, though, because I didn't think the state of Washington would put itself in the position of drowning hundreds of tourists, what with liability issues.

Before they told us to stay seated I managed to get a few shots of some of the art in the main deck. I'm a really big fan of public art and would hate to see it go away.

Our boat was the Salish. Luckily we didn't need life preservers.

We made it safely to Pt. Townsend, where we had an excellent dinner in a snug little restaurant on the water called T's that also had excellent art. My photo isn't so excellent, but you can get the idea. It was nice to see something other than gray.

More updates later
on the water, skies, trees and art
of the Pacific Northwest!

Have a colorful day

Monday, October 10, 2011

Orcas Island and Friday Harbor inspiration

The goat looks like it's part of the mural on Orcas Island. Love it!

When your intrepid reporter last blogged about our recent Pacific Northwest trip, we were on the ferry in gale force winds crossing from Whidbey Island to Pt. Townshend on our way to hiking through the Olympic rain forest. Allow me to back up and give you some color and inspiration from the first week, which was in the San Juan Islands.

Signs on Orcas Island.

These first photos are from Orcas Island, which has a charming little central village called Eastsound and artists scattered throughout the island. It also has Mt. Constitution in Moran State Park with spectacular views of the islands, Canada, Mt. Baker and Mt. Ranier as well as miles of hiking, camping areas and Mountain Lake, where we kayaked.

View from Mt. Constitution.

The art above and below is from Crow Valley Pottery (near the goat), on Orcas Island. They have a store in Eastsound, but these shots are from their studio in the country, which has been there since 1959. We spent a long time meandering along garden paths studded with pottery and other art, including the bead-embedded bench below:
Cement bench embedded with beads.


The wood carvings above and below are part of the same large piece, "Tribute," by Todd Spalti, on display in the village of Eastsound. His artist statement tells the story of how he was inspired by several creation myths. My photos don't do it justice; I couldn't get good lighting or a good overall shot.

Speaking of big black birds, here's another piece of art from Crow Valley Pottery:

In the Northwest, ferries are a part of life. When I first moved here and started riding the ferries, you couldn't pull me away from the deck and the passing scenery. Now that I've gotten used to them, I spend more time sitting inside working on the puzzles that are left set up on tables.

On the ferry from Orcas Island to Friday Harbor.

Ferry crowd disembarking in Friday Harbor.
We spent a rainy day browsing in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Most engrossing was the Whale Museum:

Also fascinating was a long mural by Annie Howell-Adams about the local fishing industry:

It was BIG. Part of the sign told us we could "Meet the artist, down the street at Funk and Junk Antiques," but we didn't have time ... maybe next trip.

I don't want to bore you by turning this into a family travelogue, but I have to include one more shot, of the bakery case at the hotel/restaurant where we waited for the ferry on Orcas. I had three large, warm chocolate croissants there during our five days on the island.

Have a delicious day!