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Posts from the ‘Symposia, Workshops, & Group Art Experiences’ Category

Final Impressions

Quilt Festival Houston 2022 was considerably smaller than 2019.

There were fewer students taking workshops.

The vendor market was much smaller.

The number of exhibits was half.

In many ways I thought this was a better show. With fewer quilts/exhibits I could concentrate on each grouping. There weren’t so many people that I couldn’t get a good view of each piece. And this year, the brochure contained photos of the winners in each of the categories.

I attended two lectures…one by Juditth Baker Montano on her journey as an artist with stitching: and Jill Kertulla on the value and manner of visiting an art museum.

Both were well attended and offered the following take-aways.

Judith started small (only two students in her first class—her best friend and her best friend’s mother), She works hard to develop her work improving—and interestingly getting more detailed with finer and finer thread. Her Silk Embrodiery book sold more copies than Stephen King for three months in a row.

Jill Kertulla started as a graphic designer in the days of cut and paste–physically and began using technology in the form of photographs printed on cloth but with additions of multiple layers, cutting down to some but always building. Focusing on a particular aspect whether it be design or color or image makes a museum visit valuable in advancing personal artwork.

I was fortunate to stay in the Hyatt Regency–a very nice hotel with bus service to the George R Brown Convention Center, I did a lot of walking on all three days and had the luxury of Starbucks coffee on two of them.

My husband dropped me off on Wednesday and picket me up on Saturday. I’m already dreaming of next year—but I have a lot of ideas and things to work on—and perhaps next year I’ll have several pieces in the show.

Its Friday and time to shop

Many attendees spend most of their time in the vendor section.

There is always new fabric lines, new thread, new irons or ironing boards and of course sewing machines and quilting machines.

Festival or similar shows are ideal for looking at machines and any hardware—ie expensive…item you need to upgrade or just because. New machines don’t make better quilts just like new paint and paintbrushes do not make masterpieces—but they are fun and can be incredibly inspiring.

I took the time to look at a replacement for my current workhorse of a Pfaff 7570. It is nearly forty years old and its computer screen is failing. I did not buy a new machine but I did get some lighting for these ‘getting older’ eyes that have difficulty seeing the menu in one of those atmospheric restaurants that do minimize the wrinkles that go along with the ‘older eyes’.

I tried to write down teh names of quilters and the quilts but next time I will take my brochure and a stack of post-it notes to do a better job of notation.

So here are a few of my thoughts.

This was a fun project, so bright and cheerful—and look how the not easily divisible number of letters was handled. The title is “Unscripted”…a clever play on words.

then there was this Cherry Basket—with equal values of the lime green and red and purple—and buttons to match.

I like to work with a lot of thread—and this piece with some of the design defined by black thread and some by the goldy-orange thread popping out the black circles. This one is titled ‘Golden Pathways”

Using a block called sunflower to create sunflowers—not a new idea but skewing them to suggest the movement of the sunflowers through the day—-

This one is titled ‘Troubador”

finally—this very simple concept—but exquisitely executed—Mobius Circle. Looking back through my notes on a retrospective of Escher—perhaps the artist had been to that very same exhbit.

Again, now I have some better ideas of how to notate….there will be next year—

A Foggy Thursday

In my past life, I made many trips to Houston, discovered the tunnel system and went to meetings in one of those high rise buildings. They sway in the wind—just like being on a ship at sea—and then there is the fog. It is odd to look out the windows and see tiny people and cars on the streets below—but even odder to look out and see nothing at all due to the fog. Perhaps Jack and the Beanstalk odd.

Thursday was supposed to be a gorgious sunshiney day perfect for being outside.

It was chilly, drippy, and foggy.

After a lecture by Jilly Kertulla on Friday ..notes on that are coming… I realized that I did indeed look for various things during a museum or art gallery opening.

Quilt Festival usuall has several themed exhibits in addition to the juried/judged show.

In the far back on the right was the Cherrywood Challenge of ‘Grafitti’. Each year, a challenge is issued; packets of their fabric are sold and contestants produce artwork of their own design. Bob Ross, Diana, Lion King are some of the past challenges—all immensely popular and fascinating.

This was my favorite piece of the group,

There were two color quilts–all seemed to use just two fabrics with some very odd and interesting color choices, some more successful than others.

Traditional quilts are based on blocks, repeated in various ways—perhaps different colors or sizes.

Here one shape is repeated but off-set.

This is Tamalpais by Rhonda Rosales

Repetition can be dimensional in this next piece by Naomi Velasquez called Blood Knot

Those are hundreds of ‘tongues’ with a pink edging sewin in a pattern—we all tried to figure out how it was created as there were no raw edges. This piece is in the Frank Klein collection.

There were traditional patterns made with intricate piecing in what I would have cut a single piece,…such as this variation of a sunflower block

A book was available offering the pattern–called Lost Star by Sheila Bishop. One of my friends bought the pattern—it would definitely be a construction challenge.

This next piece was fascinating…ut was a tradutuibak vert large clamshell but each clamshell was broken up into intricate pieces. I did not notate the artist—my apologies.

This last piece today took my breath away. It is Cherry Blossoms and includes 640 girls—all different—, my detail photos are a bit blurry—

I have searched my catalog and notes but cannot find the artist’s name. I know she is from Japan—and I am in awe of this incredible work.

Tomorrow—a few more photos

In the Wilds of Marble Falls

Marble Falls is a fairly large city. Located forty miles or so from Austin, there are hills and waterways. Traffic was not too heavy but then I was not driving during peak hours. Main Street and the Lakeside Pavilion are nicely landscaped and inviting for boating, painting, picnicking and just being outdoors.

Balcones Canyon was not too far away and should I return next year to the Plein Air Event, I will take time to explore that area.

Sometimes it is good to have no agenda and just enjoy being outside.

Unraveling the mystery of Square

I am not a natural sales person, But I can talk about subjects I enjoy—especially bees—and talk about the processes and some of the thoughts that go into my art-work.

Last weekend I was a vendor at our local quilt guild show. Getting ready for one of these is a lot of work but it is enjoyable work and although working in multiples isn’t really something I prefer, some variation is possible.

I made stuffed bears;

And covered some Marble notebooks

hand bound books

and some monoprints in the upper left corner.

The pincushions were fun; little purses and owls with button eyes and one with a bobbin as an eye.

and honey in jars and in comb.

Here is a photo of my booth with my wonderful husband sitting in the chair trying to figure out how to work ‘Square’—-my oldest son figured it out for us—and we used it the second day with great success.

Those drapes are my drop-cloths for dyeing fabric.

It took us about twenty minutes to break it down and load it up.

I’ve been asked to vend at another show—I’m thinking about it. I will have to replenish my stock, consider display arrangements—but I do know how to work ‘Square’ so that is one less thing to conquer.

A delightful Afternoon (Mostly)

A mid afternoon doctor’s appointment at the Medical Center in Houston on a Friday afternoon is not preferable given the propensity of early weekend traffic—and traffic through and around Houston seems to have tripled in past months.

However, I wanted to try another viewing of Monet to Matisse at the MFA. I toured the exhibit several weeks ago—another doctor appointment—but I did not realize I could take photographs as there was no show catalog. I was determined to get some nice photos of some of my favorite paintings in the exhibit.

Happily I spied a Berthe Morisot—a garden painting—maybe during her honeymoon

; and this Renoir of a girl resting her chin on a chair—

and then a Gaugin of a small boy in blue—not the voluptuous mostly naked women usually associated with his name.

A Matisse—with its incredibly flat rendition of a water -harborscene—suggestive of wall-paper–no brushstrokes evident—the Monet also of a water -harbor scene–with the glimmerings of the beginning of expressionism

Then there was a Toulouse-LaTrec–on a special kind of cardboard used in billboards—and he did a lot of those—the head of a supercilious woman looking down at the viewer—and a Degas of two ballerinas head and shoulders in sepia tones.

The final gallery was 30 some paintings by Bonnard—-perhaps his work needs to be seen repeatedly to begin to enjoy—I don’t recall seeing any of his paintings before–they all seemed rather dark and dreary and mostly dark green and dark red landscapes.

I was so enjoying the paintings and taking photos until I was poked by a woman in a blue sweater who hissed ‘no flash photography allowed in here’.

Hmm—those flash cubes in the past had a theoretical potential of sparks—although why that should be a concern with all the water sprinklers everywhere—–and no-one has demonstrated the tiny automated flashes from a camera–not the huge ‘lights-camera-action’ lights faded paintings.

So I switched to my phone–which might have a flash feature but I haven’t figured how to work that yet—or how to transfer those photos to my laptop.

But I did manage to visit one of my favorite sculptures—Matisse’s Backs in the Cullen Sculpture Garden—deserted on that hot Friday afternoon with brilliant blue skies.

I always wondered what his model thought of how she was represented and how did all those really fancy frames get put on those paintings–did the artists choose them—or were they traditional ‘standard’ frames.

Persistance Isn’t Always the Right Thing

Over the past few weeks I have been taking a class—via Zoom—from Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts on Complex Curves. I had signed up for her class in March 2020 and then Covid happened. And I had hoped her class in Wisconsin would occur—but then Covid still was around. So I was pleased when she offered the class via Zoom.

Our first assignment wasn’t hard–draw three curved lines in a squarish type area and make four blocks. I used a batik and a lot of orange in that one—and it was fun. (I”ll post photos of it when it is qullted)

Our next assignment was to include some curves—I used a feedsack and an embroidered dish towel as focus fabrics—and I’ll post photos of that after it is quilted.

But then our next assignment was to make a focal piece, add curved connectrors and some curved borders/extensions.

She had shown us a quilt she had made for a girl called Nora–and I was entranced. Her name was short–just four letters and it was done in bold graphic letters. Could I do it with a more lyrical sense?

It was not easy to piece some of the small areas; nor easy to do the larger curves. But it is pieced and ready to quilt.

And I”m sure you are waiting with bated breath to see how I lined up those curves.

It would have been far easier to applique this whole thing—but once started, I was reluctant to toss the whole project–I was determined to finish it.

And now it is ready to get in line to be quilted.

Rounding the Curve

I had long wanted to take a workshop with Patricia Balyea from Okan Arts from the Northwest, signed up for a class in late March 2020 in HOuston—that was cancelled, thought about a class that August in northern Wisconsin that was also cancelled, and thought about a class in May 2021 but thought back surgery might make it difficult—but was pleased to sign up for a class via Zoom this July.

Our first class was to draw three curved lines and construct a block. I chose a design, made it and then made another switching the colors around a bit, and then made another block in a smaller size, repeated it and sewed them all together. I cut out the borders…..there is just enough for the borders and a binding.

I am now working on the second assignment curves plus straight lines. I thought I would begin with an embroidered square from a dish towel my mother embroidered along with some feed sacks my grandmother used as tablecloths and to cover the plate of slice bread and butter dish between meals.

Retreating to La Porte Texas

In today’s news I read about a leaking tanker truck at the Dow Chemical Plant in LaPorte Texas resulting in evacuations of an elementary school and a neighborhood. It seems the tanker truck had a leaky valve and the company’s HazMat team was on the scene busily assessing and dealing with the problem. Of course there are people who are always upset that the company did not disclose the full details—as it was trying to figure everything out—and delayed and distracted by all the phone calls by news media and others wanting up-to-date information. Having been one of the responders, it is frustrating and I fully understand putting out a statement the news media called ‘vague’ until they could determine the extent of the problem.

However, that is neither here nor there—as I was in LaPorte last weekend for a SEW DAY!!!!!

It had been so long since I had attended an in person workshop, I really didn’t know quite what to do.

My sewing machine had lived in its travel case in the front hallway during the pandemic.

But I managed to pack up a few projects–I always take more than I know I can complete—but you just never know how you will feel about a particular project when you pull out your sewing machine–and see if it remembers how to stitch—and did I remember how to be a participant in a workshop type environment.

And Sew It Began is a wonderful place with a lovely quilt shop next door, an old house with sleeping quarters in four bedrooms, and a sewing space that has nice tables and chairs and design walls.

My project involved some strip piecing—and I now have a huge stack ready to trim up for a project that is still jelling in my mind.

The other wonderful thing about this place is the wonderful flowers all around the outside of the buildings. My camera fogged up and so I don’t have many but these roses around the side and front the old house had a wonderful fragrance—and then there were the zinnias on the back fence—reminding me of home–where everyone planted zinnias and marigolds each spring.

Holus Bolus in Athens

chicken-mNo Greek food or balaika music. No mustachioed men with cummberbunds dancing and stealing our hankerchiefs.

There was food—looked wonderful.

There was music…..45’s.

There was singing (to the music)

And there was sewing.






And we played with Sharpies and alcohol–I had to fill the little bottles outside as I tended to spill a bit—or sometimes kind of a lot.


And there was even more sewing and a lot of laughing.

And there were a few walks monitored by Fit Bit



And then the ghosts tapping on my door all night long—-figured out it was this! Disappointing but makes for a good story.ghosts20during20the20night-m-2