Sunday, August 30, 2009

Taking Classes

Soon, I realized there is a parallel universe in quilting -- the universe of Art Quilts. These people didn't seem to care about matching points, following patterns, or making stuff from kits. they were "anything goes", "let's try it" and if the results were less than perfect, who cared!

My kind of people!

So, I began taking classes from the ones who taught and starting learning lots about creative stitchery, painting and other new techniques.

My first teacher was Carol Watkins -- a fiber artist living in Boulder, CO. She taught a 6 week class at the Art Student's League of Denver and I learned about free-hand cutting and piecing, stamping, free motion stitching, and numerous other techniques that fiber artists use to create their art quilts. It opened my eyes up to the possible.

I started making lots of art quilts. Here the first art quilt I made using my own design and the technique of free hand cutting. It's called Moonlit Rockies. I also stitched freehand, following the curves of the pieces.

After it was done, I decided to enter it into a local "shop hop" contest since I had never done this before and low and behold, it won first place! I was shocked! But the best part was, I got a check for $200 as my prize.

This changed everything for me. First of all, it made me think I might have some talent in this new "hobby" of mine. Secondly, I found that the clerks in the local quilt stores started to call me by name (was I getting famous?) and thirdly, I realized there could be a way to pay for all my art supplies -- entering and winning contests.

But it was a much longer time before I actually thought of myself as a real "artist". In 2006, I was still fooling around and thinking my fiber art was just a hobby.

Here's a close up of the machine stitching in this piece.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Beginning

I'm going to start my story by explaining how I got started in this business of being a fiber artist. In 2005 I felt the need to contribute to charity by making things with my hands. I found a group of quilt makers who were making children's quilts for firehouses to keep on their trucks to give to a child in distress. that sounded perfect. I hadn't sewn anything since the early mid 70's when I tried to make a King size quilt. (That story is on my website so I won't repeat it here!).

I appeared at the rec center where the women got together and discovered a whole new world -- rotary cutters & mats, computerized sewing machines, and fabulous fabric! I was hooked immediately and spent many hours making small, "I-Spy" quilts for the charity. Here is one of my earliest quilts.

I made this quilt for the birth of my niece, Sophie. I thought she would like the colors and the images on the quilt. I don't think her Mom liked it though since she had received a store-bought quilt from one of her friends and that was the one Sophie had on her bed.

I've heard stories of this happening before -- most people who don't make things have little appreciation for how much work goes into making something unique. I've heard of quilts being used for dog blankets, truck bed covers, and unprotected table cloths.

From these early pieces, I learned many important basics -- how to
cut with a rotary ruler
measure to 1/8th of an inch
sew sashing so that the corners were perfect
sandwiching the 3 layers of the quilt
machine stitching in the ditch
and finally sewing a binding.

These quilts were simple but I was amazed at how much you had to learn to make even a simple project look great.

After making about 50 of these quilts, I started to think -- is there more???

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I am Starting This Blog

I have spent my professional life in publishing and always thought "how silly that people are blogging away about their uninteresting lives on the Internet and people are actually reading this drivel." And, who has time to write these things anyway? I'm never going to do this.

As a published author of several books on quilt-making and the business of publishing, I know how hard it is to write -- put thoughts on paper (wow! That's a phrase out of my past!) and tell a story or share a technique or experience. In the old days, (was that 8 or 10 years ago?) people got their information from carefully vetted sources. Now, it's a free-for-all. Who knows who is to trust?

So, with my anti-blogging bias, why have I finally decided to "go with the flow" and blog?

Because I think I have something to say.

This blog will not talk about my pets (I don't have any) or children (I don't have any of these either). It won't talk about my husband (I do have on of those) or my daily activities (that's what Twitter is for). My blog will attempt to share with you my life as an artist and what I am trying to accomplish in the next 10 years. I will share my work in progress and tell you what I am learning, who I am following, and how I am slowly becoming a professional artist.

You may or may not agree with what I say but I will read and respond to your comments should you choose to share your thoughts. I don't know how many "blogs" I will post in a month but I promise to share something at least one a week. There needs to be a set time for this activity in my life because what I really want to do is be at my studio, making art.