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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.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Still working on it

The quilt on the machine is not finished. I got distracted by other things several times yesterday. I thought I would show you this. It's what happens when I work on an extra long quilt. See the brace bar? The quilt sandwich is so long that it barely has room to fit in this area when it's rolled up on the backing bar. I don't use the normal backing bar because I float the tops. In normal use this would be the top roller bar. You can also just barely see my batting storage underneath the machine.

I was asked where I get my design ideas. Hmm.... the answer requires a bit of history. I started machine quilting in 1981. At that time machine quilting was a "big no no" in the quilting world because it was all panto designs. Very few pantos were available. So I started creating my own pantos. My favorite place to find ideas for my self-made pantos were in Dover design books. I would also try to draw things out of my head.... even though I wasn't very good at it.

When my kids were little we watched a kid's drawing show on PBS. I can't remember the guy's name but he was an elementry school art teacher. I would sit with my kids and we would draw what the guy taught. This carried over to my days of drawing my own pantos. Most of my pantos (and other drawings) have a cartoon like character. Similar to what a child would draw.

Over the years, as my skills improved, I started seeing the quilting designs on quilt pictures in quilt magazines. Each time I got a new magazine the first thing I did was look for new quilting ideas by getting out my magnifying glass and looking very closely at the pictures. I sketched what I saw as closely as I could. Pretty soon I did the same thing with internet photos of quilts.

Whenever I could afford it I bought quilt design books for hand quilters and converted them to continuous line. Pretty soon vcr tapes were published with quilting instructions for freehand designs. I bought whatever I could. Then I got my Gammill machine and a whole new world opened up with design possibilities. Well along came many, many new quilting instructors with many new freehand design..... and now they have dvds. Technology moves much faster than I can keep up!

These days I find myself seeing quilting designs in the fabrics.... like this. See the scrolls? I see a machine quilting design there. I can't draw an arrow on the internet photos like some people can but..... do you see the hearts with it's point in the v of the scrolls? That's a new design I will sketch. It could be a flower too.

Here's another idea in the fabric. See the snowflakes? Sorry it's a blurry picture. These become freehand block designs if I sit and sketch them out. I change it from a 6 points to 4 points to fit into a square. Keep the 6 sides for snowball quilts. Use 3 points for a triangle. ETC.

Each time I put another quilt on the machine; I use wax paper to audition a new design or two or three. I don't throw these away. I keep them. These eventually get redrawn on a sheet of computer paper and put into a binder.

Here are some of my design books. When I'm really stumped about what to quilt on something I pull out a book or two to look through for inspiration. I sometimes visit the artful quilter's web ring to drool over the art. Many of the artists keep sketch journals..... well these are my sketch journals. I may not be a "true" artist; but, my journals are just as precious to me.

This is what some of my early freehand sketch journals look like.

This is an example of one of my early panto drawings. This one was created to go on a card tricks quilt. I didn't know about nested designs when I drew this. I think I drew it in about 1983 or 1984? It was when lots of people were doing the card tricks quilts.

So, you see? Quilting designs are found absolutely everywhere! You just have to see the possibilities. It could be a cookie cutter, a magazine picture, an applique design, a carpet, a flower in a curtain fabric, or even what is created when you spill a cup of coffee. Don't look at the center of the coffee spill.... look at the outline. (think ink blots) Start keeping your own design idea journals to refer back to when you need inspiration.
While writing this post it occurred to me... if I had spent as many years learning to do the serious drawing I wanted to do.... I'd be really good at it by now. Well life and fate dealt me a different hand and now I'm a good machine quilter instead.

I don't want anyone to think I'm depressed or anything. It may not be what I've always wanted to do; but, I do like the cartoony quilts that I make. I often visit this blog to see that I'm not alone with my style. Why do I not think of myself as a "true" artist? Well the difference is in the ability to sell one's work. I've never had the time to create and promote my art. No one ever taught me how to sell it. How does one find places to sell art anyway?
Oh! Shoot! I just looked at the time.... I'm late starting my day.


Beth said...

oh Anita! I thought I had some RARE disease that makes my eye to go to ANY and all designs and magically turns them into quilting designs...or sometimes pieced blocks! Now that I know I"m not ALONE, I can relax and enjoy them! HA! I love looking at YOUR blog for inspiration...so SEE? You are passing it on!

Elaine said...

Thank you so much for all your explanation. I do pretty much the same thing. I used to machine quilt with my sewing machine for about 3 years, and now have my APQS Lenny for about 6 months. It's all so exciting, and I'm getting lots of practice. I don't like bought pantos and make my own also. Or I chalk the quilt. And a lot of freehand. Your work is so beautiful. I can see the years of experience. Something for me to look forward to.

Cathy said...

I think you are a true artist Anita. Just because we don't get paid for "art" doesn't mean it isn't or that you aren't a true artist. I rarely get paid for my paintings but I still consider myself a true artist because my work is done with passion and love and creativity - just like your quilting and your art quilts. You are a true artist.

Elaine said...

I really appreciate your idea for the binder. I audition with wax paper also, but hadn't really thought of what to do with them, so they just lay around. I do get a lot of ideas from what you do. I love your work. Elaine