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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well dang. Imagine that. The Wednesday deadline quilt gets picked up on Tuesday. I had the binding done and I'm sitting there clipping thread tails after just getting the baby to sleep. The owner shows up and tells me he was in the neighborhood and wanted to pick it up a day early. He decides to wait while I clip the threads.

The baby wakes up with a tummy ache, the dogs come back from the groomer, the phone rings, and a neighbor knocks on the door. All this while I'm trying to quickly clip thread tails. Needless to say I didn't get any pictures of the finished quilt. But.... it is this one that I took pictures of a few days ago while it was on the machine. I didn't get a chance to go over it one last time to check it either. That makes me nervous.

I have the Friday deadline one quilted. I'm putting the binding on it and clipping the threads today just in case the owner decides to show up on Thursday. Luckily it's a top I pieced with not many threads to clip.

After that I plan to work on some tops that aren't quite so difficult for a day or two. I need a creative break before moving on to the next of the pre printed tops. I have 5 more pre printed tops on my schedule. All of them queen or king size. I find those to be very difficult and time consuming to quilt. Mostly because I have to be so accurate in following the lines. Not at all like putting a top on the machine and creating freehand designs as I go.

It looks like it will be awhile before I can get caught up on deadlines enough to get back to organizing again. So.... I'm heading to the studio for an early start. I'm going to do some mindless quilting for a little while before the baby arrives. Hmm... forget about organizing.... with all the looming deadlines I wonder when I will find time for some simple house cleaning? Maybe next week. I knew there was a reason I should not have gone to Paducah. Now I know what it was..... deadlines.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How do you win in big shows?

During my time at Paducah I spent lots of time just looking at quilts. Not to see what won and move on. I spent time studying them. Winners as well as losers. Looking at details. Looking at design. Looking at stitching. Looking at color combinations and fabric choices.

Before I go on.... take a look at some of the quilts I saw. I randomly put some of the pictures here for you to see. Some are textile art, some are appliqué, some are traditional pieced. Some have ribbons, some do not. Enjoy the eye candy and I'll see you at the end of this post.

So.... have you figured out why one quilt has a ribbon while another one next to it, equally as breathtaking, doesn't have a ribbon? Did you click on the pictures to get a larger view and take a closer look? I'm still trying to figure this judging thing out. It is a complete puzzle to me. Maybe if I think about it long enough I will come up with the answers and find the key to winning a "big show" ribbon some day.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ok, I confess.... I played hooky from my studio for a few days. I went to Paducah. For 3 days! I couldn't tell anyone I was going away from home for a short vacation. Why? Because every time I tell someone I'm going to be gone; things come up to keep me at home instead.

Hmmm.... now I get to bore you to death with some really boring vacation pictures. Most of my time was spent just relaxing and enjoying myself. I had my camera with me. I was usually so busy relaxing and looking I would forget I had it. Then I would remember and say to myself.... oh, I forgot to take a picture.

This post is not about the quilts in the AQS show. It's about my time away from the stress of constant deadlines. If vacation pictures bore you, then please skip over this post. I'm writing this in my journal for me. So I can remember my time away..... on days when I feel very stressed and simply need a break. I will have this post to refer back to and remember.

So.... here we are on the highway. (We means my friend Maryann and me.) We are just a short distance from Paducah when we cross this bridge. I took the picture because I had never seen it before. It's funny how I've rode the bus to Paducah several times but..... never noticed this bridge. I thought we were on the wrong expressway. I probably never noticed it before because I always ride in the very back of the bus.

We got into Paducah, parked, and started our visit around town. It was sooooo quiet and peaceful! Even with thousands of people walking around shopping there was a calmness that really felt great. It would be a toss up between this town and chocolate as to which one is more soothing.

I wonder what this cow owner was thinking when he/she draped a quilt on her? You think it could have been the old time version of mobile advertising? You know what I mean? Like signs on the sides of buses and trucks these days? Hmmm.... my daughter says I need a cow that size. Maybe then I could stop asking her to pick up milk every time she comes over.

Hey look, a house related to mine! It and my house are the same width across. 12 feet. This one must be the taller cousin. It's got decorative tile all over the outside instead of wood like my house... but still.... there is surely a kinship between our houses. Hmmm.... I wonder if I can tile over wood clapboards? I think I'll take a second look at any tiles I find in my dumpster diving in the future. There is always a possibility...... look out art world.... my creative juices are itching to get my hands on some tiles.

I met several famous people in Paducah... even Superman! Superman invited us to spend the night in his hometown of Metropolis, Illinois at the Hotel next door to Harrah's Casino. He even let me gamble for a few minutes at the casino. Too bad I wasn't as lucky as Maryann. She came out a winner.... I lost.

I don't think Superman can hold a candle to Jamie Wallen and Renae Haddadin though. I needed to pick up information about the A1 machines. It was the highlight of my trip to get to see them again. I got to FINALLY hear the rest of the story about Jamie's house. It only took a year to get the opportunity to ask him to finish telling me about it. I felt proud when he said he told Patrick.... when he called.... that I was there in Paducah. Patrick handles things for Jamie when Jamie is out of town at shows. Both those young men are very interesting people. The artist in them shows in their conversations. I love talking to artists. I always sound so dumb though.

As usual, Renae was huddled at a machine concentrating on quilting. I got a close up look at her latest work..... and believe me..... it is truly awesome! I think she has a winner. It let's me know I shouldn't try entering contests any more. I wouldn't have a chance to win.

I could stand all day just watching either one of them stitch designs. My trouble is.... I can't resist stitching a design or two myself even though all I really want to do is watch and admire what they stitch on fabric. It's like standing and watching an artist paint in oils or sketch with pen and ink.... always mesmerizing. Always makes me want to pick up the tools and try too.

I did get to see the painted wall of Paducah this time. More art for me to admire. I walked only a short part of it. Gotta save something for the next visit. Even on this short walk I had to get up close so I could see small details.
See.... with a close up look there are many details to admire.

So after quite awhile looking at the wall... I went along my way... along this street... toward lowertown. Lowertown is where many of the local artists live. I was in mesmerizing delight as I wandered in and out of galleries. I never made it to Jenny Beyer's gallery. I spent too much time looking in the previous places.

Saturday it was time to make our way to the fabric adoption place.

Remember how I told you.... never touch or pet a fabric.... if you do, it will follow you home? Well, just look at all these people who can't resist adopting more fabrics. They try to hide by parking the buses behind the building.

It doesn't work though... they soon don't mind who sees them... there is a mad dash for the entrance to the fabric adoption center..... by the thousands!

Inside it's every quilter for them self as they shove and elbow through the crowds to the tables of fabrics waiting for adoption. See.... wall to wall people scrambling for just the right fabric to add to their stash. One poor husband..... wearing a t-shirt that said "she quilts, I cook" was holding the new pets as the wife searched and loaded his arms up.

The fabrics are adopted by the cart full.... like this.

Here is another person checking to see if she has adopted enough yet. Maybe she is folding it up so she can squeeze a few more into the cart to adopt.

Yup.... I think she managed to get a few more in there. Cardboard makes a handy upstairs to the cart. That's plenty of room for several more fabrics.

This was one of three carts for this lady. Her fabric stash must have needed to be replenished. Maybe she was out of reds.... or maybe it was florals. Either way, she has enough to last until next year's fabric adoptathon.

My first trip into this crowd I totally resisted the urge to pet a fabric. I went out with only one spool of Bottom Line thread for testing on my machine. Quite awhile later; I went back inside to check on Maryann. She was in there so long I got worried. Maybe she got knocked out by an elbow or got buried in an avalanche of fabrics.

Going back inside the adoption center was the WRONG thing to do! I was too confident I could resist adopting fabrics. I told Maryann I would help her find just the right piece of fabric to match one she already had. After a few minutes I told Maryann I HAD to get OUT of there..... before I had a cart like those others.

Even though I rushed out as fast as I could..... just look what followed me home. It's my own fault. I knew better than to touch a fabric! Maybe I need to take lessons from my sister in law who rarely buys more than absolutely needed for one quilt.

Well.... I couldn't adopt a bunch of fabric pets without adopting the right books to tell me how to ready my fabric pets for a show.... now could I? Inside these are the tips that will make my fabric pets a best of show winner someday. But... some of these are Christmas presents for my sister in law and my daughter in law.

So here we are on our way home. This is the last rest area before getting to Elizabeth town. About half way home. I always like when we stop here because the land this highway and rest area are built on used to be my grandparents farm. It was built right in the center of the farm. It's like visiting the old homestead when I get to stop here.

I did spend a lot of time just looking at quilts. I tried to figure out why some quilts won and some didn't. I still can't figure it out. To me, they were all winners. I still have this image in my head of judges standing there saying inny, minny, miney, moe. If I can't figure out what makes a winner..... I'll never create a winner. Opps! I shouldn't say that... never say never.

I saw some names on awesome quilts that should be watched in the future. Some amazing talents have found the usefulness of stitching quilts with sewing machines. One in particular is Claudia Clark Meyers. She is the lady who worked on a quilt with Marilyn Badger. I absolutely loved the quilt those two created.

Well I need to rest up from my vacation. Monday it's back to work again for me. One deadline is for Wednesday and one deadline is for Friday. Don't ya just hate the end of vacations?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clothing quilt

I've been working hard on finishing this quilt. I just started the quilting. I hope to have it finished sometime today or tomorrow. I have some housework to get done today too.

This quilt started out like this. A pile of clothing cut apart. Yup.... you see right.... there is a terry cloth bathrobe in there next to the wool shirt and the uniform pants.

This is a memory quilt being made from the clothing of someone who passed away. It's about the memory of the person rather than what should or should not be put into a quilt together. I find great satisfaction in creating these quilts for the family.

Then IT happened.....

I couldn't help myself. I was so anxious. I wanted to play with my new toys to see if IT (the technique) actually worked for me. During my lunchtime break; I told myself I would just cut out a couple of the pieces from the kit in the package. That way I would have these ready to use when I had the time to finish. I kept telling myself not to start. Honestly, I did. Yet, IT kept calling out to me. Just cut a couple of pieces.... IT kept saying to me. So, loosing all my "keep working will power", I gave in. Wrong thing to do! Before I knew it all the pieces were cut out.

After an extra long lunch break cutting out pieces I went back to working on the deadline quilt. During my evening meal break I kept hearing this little voice telling me.... you really should see if you cut out the pieces accurately. No, I said.... I can't stop working on this quilt, it's how I pay the bills. The voice said.... just take a minute or two to place a couple of pieces together so you will know if they fit. It's break time... what harm can it do? I reasoned with my better judgment.... it can't hurt to see if I cut the pieces accurately. It will only take a minute or two.... right? Wrong thing to do again!

Needless to say it was an extra long supper break. Before I realized what happened..... this is what I did....

Yes, yes, yes! This is the technique I've wanted to learn! Realism in fabric. Sitting to cut out the pieces was the wrong thing to do..... I'm so hopelessly hooked. My past art quilts pale in comparison to the quilts I see in my future. Yes, I could buy more kits from Margaret.... but that's not what I want to do. I want to create compositions of my own using this technique. I want to create a combination of traditional piecing with realism. In my mind I can see me creating instead of just visiting textile art blogs and websites to drool.

I don't know who the little girl is but she will continue to be hanging on my wall to admire. Ummm..... maybe not. Hanging on the will she will be constantly calling out to me to create.... no time for creating right now.... customer deadlines to meet.... it's how I pay the bills.

Sigh.... I best get to work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Portrait quilts

I'll get to today's finished quilt in a minute. First I want to show you what I got in the mail yesterday. Normally my mail doesn't get to me until sometime around 5:30 pm because I'm at the very end of the daily route. This time we had a substitute mail lady so this arrived just after 8 in the morning.

I'm so excited! It took every ounce of work discipline I had in me to keep working on a customer quilt for the whole day instead of stopping to read and to play with my new items. Its from Margaret Bucklew from Chiseled in Cloth.com. She is a fantastic artist.

What's making it worse for me is that I won't even be able to play with these until sometime next week or the week after. I'm behind schedule with the customer quilts. I have deadlines I must meet. I will also be out of the studio for 6 days over the next couple of weeks too.

I've wanted to do portraits my whole life. When I was maybe 4 or 5 years old an artist drew my portrait. She used chalk on a brown paper bag. I was hooked! I wanted to do that too. I told everyone, from that day on, I was going to be an artist when I grew up and I was going to draw portraits. Time and life didn't agree with my decision though. I got married and had a family. This is what girls were expected to do in my young days.

When I saw the first portrait in fabric a few years ago.... I knew there was still a chance I could do portraits. Maybe not with chalk but certainly I could do them with fabric. I've been on a mission to learn more ever since. I don't want to copy the work of others who do fabric portraits. I want to learn the technique so I can develop my own art. This would be the same as taking an art class to learn from the teacher but going home to draw my own style.

There is still another glitch in my learning this technique.... my old computer. Its completely out of memory. Until I can afford another computer or at the very least more memory, I won't be able to purchase the software needed to do the patterns. Without the software I still can't do my own art..... Bummer!..... I will learn what I can anyway. I can still keep saying..... someday.

So here is today's finished quilt. I'll just let you look at the pictures and I will get back to the studio to work on those deadline quilts.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Here is the current finished quilt. It is a king size pre printed whole cloth with cross stitched roses on it. A man brought this to me to finish because he found it in his wife's things after she passed away. He didn't know she was making it before then.

I followed the dots for the design that was already printed there.

I like the design it has on it. I would have done a little more quilting on it but he wanted it just the way she planned to finish it. I couldn't argue with that.

It has taken several days to finish it because its such a large quilt and I wanted to follow the dots as closely as I could.

I had intended to tell you about the man coming to work on my Gammill yesterday but instead I'll tell you about something else.

I took a break from the quilting machine very early this morning. I went to get another cup of coffee and decided to check email. Yes, it was there. The MQX winners list was in my email. I tried to open the attachment and couldn't. This dang computer couldn't read the attachment.

I was very upset that I couldn't see who won at the show so I decided to vent my frustrations by sending a post to my online friends on the shortcuts list. (That's a list for smaller quilting machine owners) Anyway, I'm sitting there typing an email when my two dogs start running around and growling. They were very agitated. They do that when anyone is near the house or when one of those thumping vibrating cars go by.

I could feel a slight vibration in the house just like when one of those cars is near. Your gonna think I'm weird but..... I could also hear a sound in my ears like that of wind blowing across my ears or maybe ocean waves. That didn't make since to me because I was in the house. I kept typing and the vibration got stronger. This is when I realized it wasn't just a thumping car. It was an earthquake. I thought it was only a minor one because it was just a slight vibration so I hurriedly finished the email saying the house was shaking and it must be an earthquake. I hit the send button.

By this time the whole house was really shaking hard. I ran for the front door. I opened the door and stood in the doorway. The electric lines from the houses to the utility poles were swinging back and forth like jump ropes. It lasted only a few seconds but it was very scary!

I next grabbed the phone to call my daughter. I've always told her she could sleep through an earthquake and not even know it. When she finally..... sleepily..... answered I told her to wake up, we've had an earthquake. She needed to get up out of bed in case there are more tremors or after shocks. She needed to be ready to get outside with the baby. What did she say to me? Mom, are you tripping? We didn't feel anything. See baby girl, Moma always told you how you sleep.... now get the heck up!! Turn on the tv and you will see I'm not tripping. I turn on my own tv. She brought the baby a little while later and we had a laugh about her sleeping through an earthquake.

As I'm typing this post this evening most of America knows about the earthquake that was centered about 150 miles from here. I got back on the computer only briefly this morning to tell my online friends I was ok. I spent the rest of the day in the studio. I did feel two after shocks later in the morning. Both times I grabbed the baby and went outside into the yard.

I did a walk around inspection of my house. I have a few cracks in places where there weren't any before. Like at the bottom of my door frame.

And the ceiling of my front porch.

This is the worst one of the front porch cracks. I think there was only layers and layers of paint holding it together in the first place so no big deal.

This is my skylight window in the studio. The frame just came apart a little bit at the joins.

I had some knick knacks fall off the shelves and break. One was a ceramic piggy bank I had made for my daughter when she was born. I had planned to give it to her baby.

There are other minor cracks above inside door frames. Nothing major. There was only one damaged building here in Louisville. It lost some bricks. There were also a couple of chimneys that lost bricks in the West End near where I live.

I finally got a chance to look at the MQX winners list thanks to a good friend... Regina. I didn't win. The only disappointment I feel is for the owner of a quilt that was entered. This was her first time entering and I sooooo hoped she could get a ribbon. Her piecing work is exceptionally good. Oh well..... this means I have 12 months to be ready to enter next year.