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The lacemaker

One of the fun things about attending a conference is gathering ideas for new avenues of exploration. One of my fellow artists were entranced by the idea of interpreting a work of art and seeing just how different and exciting we could make it.

Although I have been spending a lot of quality/$ at the dentist, I did manage to get some art work completed. Tackling a challenge tends to distract the mind from physical ailments to some extent.

My fellow artist selected the photo “The Lacemaker” by Vermeer. We both had color copies of the painting to work from. I studied the photo for several weeks trying to come up with an idea that was not just a literal translation from painting to fiber–it would have been easy enough for me to do so but my name is not Vermeer and I wanted the work to read as mine.lacemaker20initial20painting-m

I traced around the major shapes in the painting–the crouched upper torso, the face, the hands and a portion of the desk or cabinet and then enlarged them by eye. I then selected fabrics in the general hue and tone of the painting but deliberately chose patterned fabrics rather than solids.lacemaker20tracing20of20shapes-m

The pieces were cut, hand-appliqued, then stitched by machine.lacemaker20initial20shapes20sewn-m Next came the cutting apart and mixing up of the pieces. I tried several arrangements until I found one that seemed balanced and that I liked.lacemaker20playing20with20rearrangement20of20strips-m

These pieces were sewn together; I quilted it in straight lines and backed it so that the edges were clean.lacemaker20sewn20together-m

Here are the two completed pieces side by side.lacemaker20two20versions-m

Our next venture will be to interpret a painting by Matisse ‘Woman in a Purple Dress’.

Western Art in the Briscoe Museum

Saturday was bitterly cold with a wind that cut through jackets and made me wish for my motorcycle jacket. The morning was to be devoted to local gallery tours; we decided to walk the 900 feet from our hotel to the Briscoe Museum of Western Art.

We all got to claim senior status and therefore a reduced entrance fee–although if we had been service men/women our entrance would have been free.

tim20cherry20rabbit-mTwo large galleries were full of contemporary Western art —no photos were allowed–although I did get this shot of a rabbit by Tim Cherry. If I had the money or the place to showcase this piece—but I didn’t so I will content myself with this photo.

img_7938-mw20h20dunton20painting-mOf interest was a small painting by W.H. Dunton whose title for a rather small painting was quite striking—a paragraph long title for a rider on a horse galloping across the plain. Interestingly the local Stark Museum of Art in Orange Texas posesses over 200 pieces of his work. He, along with other western artists of that era, also illustrated magazine covers and books.

In the afternoon we settled down to an entertaining critique session with Judith Trager. Creative people that we are, one attendee removed her belt as a splash of color on a monochromatic piece.

An evening banquet followed with a lively auction of the small pieces contributed by the members. There was much rivalry and last minute bidding–all to fund future events.

Viewing the Alamo

alamo-mThere was a very long line waiting to get in to see the Alamo; the line looped back through a covered area and was halted by a photographer at the entrance.

Inside, people chattered and pointed–and if you stood in one place, you heard the same comments repeated but by different people and in different languages. They marveled at the number of places the defenders claimed as home—Ireland, Wales, Scotland, North Carolina, Kentucky–and more. Flags of each state and country were displayed around the periphery of the building and we all took turns peering into the rooms cordoned off.

alamo201-malamo2011-mOutside were lovely old live oak trees, a small rivulet with giant carp all hoping for a tidbit of bread, benches, and blooming prickly pear. alamo208-malamo205-m

Outside on the plaza were stands with soft drinks and ice cream. The Menger and the Crockett Hotels were nearby as well as the Wax Museum.

No matter the details of those final hours in whatever version people care to claim as factual, it is an awe=inspiring place—so lush and green–and the entire complex quite large–not the dusty single building in a vast plain with nary a tree to be seen.



Early Morning Discoveries

I had thought I might catch a sunrise behind the Alamo but I admit to being distracted and then there was the building that somehow blocked my way–I had to turn on my GPS on my phone to find my way back to the hotel.

In the meantime–what do you think about this?


I suppose the delivery driver had other stops and no time to wait for someone to receive all of this–Not perhaps the photo tourism image one might have of San Antonio

San Antonio Walk About

door20of20cathedral-mConference morning activities followed breakfast punctuated by greetings–putting faces to names of people I had read about, ‘talked’ to via internet and handing out of business cards.

My afternoon and evening were free as I had not signed up for breakout sessions, thinking I would like to settle myself somewhere on the Riverwalk and just enjoy the day. However, I am not a cold weather sitter on metal benches–and so I opted to walk.

What time in San Antonio would be incomplete without a visit to the Alamo. The streets were filled with newly graduated AirMen–(and a few women) in their crisp light blue shirts and dark pants–all with parents or sisters or girlfriends all roaming about–all smiles, nervous, proud.  I caught up with one nice young man and his two sisters–both shivering in their light jackets–they were from Pennsylvania and had dressed expecting much warmer weather.

I wandered by the Cathedral–the first mass celebrated on the day appointed to Saint Anthony–thus giving the city its name, the Bexar County courthouse which was humongous and imposing in red brick and skepp topped domes,courthouse-m courhouse20view-man immense archive building, the hemisphere tower, and then the Alamo. I took a lot of photos, and then bought post cards to replenish my stash for future postings. Three living history sites were set up with men dressed as Alamo defenders displaying and discussing cannons and riflery.

waterfall-m Directly in front of the courthouse is the Liberty fountain. Nearby are beds of roses both red and yellow. These beds are not near this fountain but the petals from the red roses were placed in the fountain’s layers–an interesting custom as it seemed deliberate but I could not find anyone around to ask.



Blue Bonnets and More

field20of20flower-mLast weekend was the annual conference hosted by Studio Art Quilt Associates in San Antonio Texas.

For those who have not been in San Antonio recently, the city will be celebrating a 300 year history. Not that you would even guess with all the ‘300’s  in shrub plantings, street signage, and mentioned at least twice in any conversation with a local resident.

This conference moves about the country; I’ve been to ones in Ohio, Philadelphia, and Denver with each one progressively more polished and informative.

For me, driving to San Antonio meant a lovely day driving in the Hill country outskirts and stopping for the requisite spring time photo of bluebonnets. I didn’t find the large masses but at a truck stop in Luling I managed to get a nice photo or two. And of course, there are more wildflowers than just the bluebonnets.another20field-mcloseup20of20that20bluebonnet-m

San Antonio is not my favorite city to drive around in but I timed my arrival to early afternoon on a week day. Traffic was minimal but parking spaces were at a premium. The hotel offered valet parking only and the attendant claimed he was expert in standards but I only allow a very small number of people the privilege of driving my truck.

It is easy to hear me coming with that diesel reverberating  in all that concrete but I managed to find a nice spot, hauled my belongings to the hotel lobby and checked in. I admired the lobby–a bank in earlier years—with art deco motifs on the elevator doors, the cornices, and a fabulous stained glass window featuring the Alamo.

A RiverWalk cruise was the adventure of the evening–I took a few photos but then decided I would just enjoy the view.



Portfolio Time

When I first joined SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) a portfolio of the juried artist members was produced intermittently–I asked–and was told when they had enough new work. Now it is an annual event and every year I try to find something that represents my work but hasn’t been submitted before. I like to do portraiture but there has recently been a wealth of portraits not done the way I do them but in a manner that many people seem to feel attractive. So I have gone back to abstract type or variations of traditional work.

Here is this year’s submission.

It is Floribunda. I started this in a Nancy Crow workshop and had bits and pieces of it to take home after an intense week there.—they are all intense! But great fun! Because I had started doing leader-enders and there are a lot of small seams to be made in this kind of work, I brought along a stack of roughly cut triangles from my grandmother–found in a box neatly labeled ‘material scraps’. I pieced those triangles together and those became part of the piece too.

I quilted it on my new Gamill longarm–named Vivian after my grandmother and so here it is.

Weir floribunda

and a detailWeir Floribunda detail

celebrating Silver in Portland Oregon

Sometimes I wish I could travel as much as some of my artwork does. This particular piece will be in Portland the next week or so at a Quilt Knit Stitch event. But then I’d have to travel with twenty or so others all lying flat in a crate.

This particular piece was made for SAQA’s silver anniversary. I was lucky enough to be chosen by Yvonne Porcella, the founder of the organization with full rein to produce whatever I dreamed about–. When I was in high school chemistry class, we got to play with liquid mercury–it was fun to chase it around with toothpicks, separating it into little balls and then gathering it all back together again. I thought it would be fun to illustrate children looking as though they were playing, while others just watched. Each figure took about a week to stitch as I choose the fabrics, assemble them and then hand-applique them in place so there are no raw edges. The background is pieced and I did a lot of sampling and kept careful notes about the process in a notebook containing just my notes about this particular piece.

It will come home soon–and then it will join the others all lying flat on a table or rolled up in the mailing carton.

Houston Quilt Festival 2014

Festival is always an exciting and busy time. The vendor section is immense with so many selections I truly feel overwhelmed with choices. Then there’s the quilts, row after row and it is hard to pick what to do first. This year I had a piece in a special exhibit jurored by Yvonne Porcella–the originator of Studio Art QUilt Association called Celebrating Silver. My piece was called Quicksilver, referring to the fascinating qualities of liquid mercury. I was interviewed by Quilt Alliance about this piece and it will be on Youtube sometime soon. I think they said they had over 60 quilt interviews this time.

It was fun to meet up with the Holus Bolus gang–we’ve been together now for seven years. We do a communal project with the grand reveal at Festival. Each year they are better than the year before. We’ve also started to sign up for a class together–probably much to the teacher’s chagrin as we tend to be somewhat boisterous. This year we made a wet felted hibiscus—a technique that is too hard on my hands to think I want to do more.

Sherry met one of her favorite people–Jenny of Missouri Star Quilting Company.

I took photos of some of my favorite red and white quilts===a fabulous display, in itself well worth the trip and the traffic and the hassle of parking amongst all the congestion engendered by the addition of the mass transit train connecting Main Street with the sports arenas.

Quicksilver completed

this is my way of sorting colors before I begin work. The center holds the bobbins. Each day consists of 8 bobbins–which is one 250 yard spool of thread.

Last fall before my scheduled back surgery I was notified that I had been juried into a SAQA silver anniversary show. I don’t know how many artists applied but I was definitely surprised. Unfortunately I had to put the project on hold while I recovered, being limited to sitting no more than twenty minutes, standing no more than ten, and mostly lying down with no excitement.

Along the way I bought a bag of scraps on Ebay which had promised to be feedsack remnants. Unfortunately they were not but they had a lovely golden tone and so I diligently pieced together the small pieces into Mulligan blocks–crumb blocks–mile a minute–they go by a lot of different names. The background was completed by the middle of December and I only needed to find photographs to fit my purpose.

I take a lot of photographs, many are used for poses and expressions and activities and not always the best photographs. Some of my photographs are quite nice and I differentiate those from my working files.

My idea was to illustrate the concentration and joy of playing with liquid mercury as some of us did as children–when the thermometer broke. Mercury is also known as quicksilver. I looked through some of my photos, took some, and printed them not realizing my printer had been out of black ink for some time–cartridge wasn’t even in there–so the images were mostly red and blue with a lot of lines through them.

Next step is to enlarge them to the proper size and I seem to have to relearn that faces the size of my thumbnail are not easy to execute. Next came the drawings of all the figures, the selection of fabrics and the hand applique of all the pieces in place. I don’t like fusible–I ran out one weekend, didn’t have a car (for some reason) and decided to try it without. Needle-turning the edges came after I decided I did not like the tiny thread sticking out from the raw edges of the pieces.

At last I was ready to do the imagery, a step that I always approach with hesitation–and of course the first one was the hardest one–the thumbnail face–as it was behind a larger face.

Back to the store twice for more bobbin thread–I use coats and Clark Dual duty Polyester in a medium gray color.

The sides seemed to be ruffling despite an initial overall gridding in silver. I added a second gridding in a variegated black-silver-white. Still ruffling.

Off to the fabric store for some interfacing. Plopped the piece down on the living room floor and ironed the interfacing on the back. :Pinned the backing and outlined the figures in black. Cut a binding from black. And took its picture with the aid of photo lights and work lights. Imagery sent off one day early!

Unfortunately I cannot show you the completed piece. You will have to come to International Quilt Festival Houston in fall of 2014.

Completion feels like I have run a marathon—but I need to start training for the next one.