Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How It Was Done

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 
― Sylvia Plath

     Yesterday, I got the news that my latest art quilt, "Century Plant at Big Bend" was selected to be in the SAQA TEXtile Conference Show which will be in San Antonio the first week in April.  This Call to Entry was for Texas members  only as we are hosting the International SAQA Conference in our state this year.  I am very honored to be among many well-known artists to showcase our talents to the rest of SAQA attending.  I have had several people ask how I made this particular work of art so I decided to do a blog on that very subject.
"Century Plant at Big Bend"
     First, the inspiration...we were charged with the subject 'anything' Texas!  So I went through all my photos of various places I had visited throughout the state and came up with a composite of several pics.
Painted background 
    Then I got a piece of canvas and stretched it out on my table in my paint studio. I proceeded to paint a wash in the background with watery acrylic paints.
Second phase
I then added some grassy area with the start of some cactus and other plant life and the stalk of the century plant. When that was dry, I put the whole thing on a black batting and a back fabric to do some machine stitching in the sky area and the rocky background area.
Third step
I put it all up on my design wall and  began adding fabric to create more dimension to the grasses and plants by freeform cutting them and using fabric glue, just a dab, to hold them in place.
Closeup-the little blooms are about dime size, or smaller
Closeup- after some further machine stitching on the grasses

Workspace in my sewing studio
So I had drawn out on paper  the size of my stalk and then proceeded to hand cut my blooms
out of various batik fabrics of greens and yellows.  And placed them around the paper stalk to see how many I might want to add. Then I decided to give them more texture by covering them with French knots (you who sew or embroider will know what that is! For any one interested I have linked you to a Youtube Tutorial on how to make them!) I had fused each bloom to a felt background for added strength  and proceeded to add the French knots.  A great "sitting in front of the TV time"!  LOTS of time to catch up on my recorded PBS shows and Netflix series I had fallen behind on!
After having finishing all the French knots, it was back upstairs to my paint studio to paint the edges of the blooms so the white felt wouldn't show.

Close up
With the whole thing lying flat on my studio table, I first cut coordinating background fabric for each bloom and began to place them on the stalk, as well as adding fabric stems. These were all glued down to hold in place while stitching.

Back to the Design Wall
After checking out everything on the design wall...at this point I could still reposition the blooms, I took it back to my table and began hand stitching the blooms and stems to the stalk.  I had thought I might be able to machine stitch them down but it all became a bit too heavy to manipulate at a the machine..thus hand stitching!

Close up of blooms
So from the above picture, you can see the French knots which are on approximately thirty blooms of various sizes.  And how I hand-stitched each to the background.  It was all so thick at times that I had to use one of my most elegant sewing tools, the pliers, to pull the thread through!

The Border
And almost the last thing to do!  I trimmed all the edges of the batting and backing to 2 1/2 inches then pieced a border from the brown and green fabric I chose.  At this point, I am using another "uncommon for sewing"  piece of furniture for placing the border (it is not sewn down at this point)...my bed!  I have a large cardboard graph which I can place on my bed and can then work all the way around it. After deciding where to place the border, I flip it over, pin it down and go to the machine to sew it together on the artwork.
The last thing to do is to decided whether to put a binding on (which would show on the front) or to face it which, while finishing up the edges,  will not show on the front. And to add sleeve on the back to hang it.

And.....that's all, folks!!!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Memory Monday

“A planet with no mountains, no storms and no earthquakes will create a planet of weak people!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

     It is March 27, 1964.  We are happily living in Reno, Nevada; Dick is stationed at Stead Airforce Base and I am finishing up my second round of being a tele-communicator for the America Cancer Society.  All over the airways is news of the disaster which has occurred in Alaska!  A 9.2 force earthquake with its center in Prince William Sound half way between Anchorage and Valdez, has erupted; the largest in the United States and the second largest in the world. (I have linked you to a short youtube presentation if you are interested in seeing how this earthquake changed the scientific study of earthquakes.)
An elementary school in Anchorage
Downtown Anchorage
Turnagain Heights-a housing area overlooking Knik Arm
   Amazingly, only 15 people were killed by the earthquake itself.  It occurred  around 5:30PM and it was Good Friday so many places were closed and school was not in session.  There were 139 deaths total, many from the following Tsunami.
     A few weeks after this disaster Dick comes home with some "exciting" news.  He is being transferred to Elmendorf AFB. Guess where it is located!  Yep...Anchorage, Alaska!  Needless to say that announcement caused great consternation with both of our families.  We, being young and naive, thought it sounded like a great adventure!
      Dick was to report around the first of July I think, although he was still working at Stead.  My little job was over at the end of April so I wouldn't be able to get another job for such a short time.  As I had said earlier, we wouldn't be able to afford the apartment if I wasn't working too, so we made the decision I would go home to live with my parents until we took off for Alaska and Dick would go back to the barracks on base....not a happy solution for we newlyweds! But sometimes you have to just live with the negative side of life too!
      So Dick took a week to drive me home and spend some time with his parents.  Then he went back to Stead and I settled in for a loooong (six weeks) visit with my parents!  I remember going to church with my mom one Sunday after Dick had gone back, and this elderly gentleman, whom I had known all my life but not intimately, came up to me and wanted to know if everything was alright in my life!  It was just not normal for a newlywed to be separated six months after being married!  So I explained to him why I was home (although I was thinking it was really none of his business and wanted to tell him some really wild tale) and he seemed to think that was OK!  When I  exploded to my mom about the nosey old man, she said he was probably just concerned and would have wanted to pray for me if there had been something wrong!  Bless his heart! Ah, small towns.....you gotta love them!!!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Memory Monday

"Marriage is the highest state of friendship. If happy, it lessens our cares by dividing them, at the same time that it doubles our pleasures by mutual participation. "

     It is 1964; we have been married about six weeks; we are in our cozy little apartment in the middle of winter in Reno, Nevada.  Such a beautiful winter!  There is a fresh coating of snow on everything.  Reno is in the Sierra Nevadas and the Truckee River runs right through town.  We go walking at night, in the snow.  There is a bridge over the Truckee not far from where we live.  A special memory, standing on that bridge, watching the snow fall into the water which is really raging below us.
The Truckee River-Reno, Nevada
      I had never cooked much before we were married but Dick was very encouraging as I practiced on him!  Except for one time...I made a coconut pie which was one of his favorites.  He tasted it and said it was pretty good but not quite as good as what his mom made!  Well, to a newly wed, that was not the most tactful thing he could have said.  I wasn't angry...but my response to him was..."I am very fond of your mom, but don't ever compare my cooking to hers!"  And he never did again!  She is a really good cook, but over the years, I became pretty good myself.
     It is February 9, 1964.  Do you remember what happened that night?  The Beatles were in America on the Ed Sullivan Show!!  And we had our first party!  Some of the guys from the base who worked with Dick at Shakey's and their girl friends/wives.  

The Beatles with Ed Sullivan
The first song they sang was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" .  If you would like to get a taste of the show click on the song name which will take you to a youtube film of them and on the side you will see more links to more songs.  We had a great time until the neighbors complained about the noise...and everyone had to go to work the next day, so the party broke up pretty early.