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  • Longarm Love

    I have a love / fear relationship with my longarm quilting machine.

    I acquired it about 3 years ago. I don't generally quilt-for-hire. I have a select few customers for whom I do some work, but I really got the machine in order to finish my own quilts. It just became far too difficult (for me anyway) to wrangle large quilts through my domestic sewing machine. I wanted a way to be able to finish large pieces and to finish them faster.

    Unlike a professional quilter-for-hire, I don't run my machine on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. So when I do get to the point of quilting there is always a re-learning curve - and that is when the FEAR sets in!

    It's been several months since I used the machine, and . . . . . . .

    . . . . . . this is the week. A year ago I promised my S-I-L that I would do the quilting on a quilt that she was making for her daughter. That beautifully pieced top arrived in January. It's made from African fabrics that my niece brought home from her time as a medical intern in Ghana. It's got a lot of love already sewn into it - I really want to do it justice.

    To overcome my fear I must take it a step at a time.

    The first step is to oil the machine. Actually, the first step is to just go out into the room where the machine resides! Then . . . . . I oil the machine and run it for awhile to work the oil through. I'm not going to start on the African quilt; I want a little practice first. I have some crib quilt tops that I made awhile ago. They're perfect for practice because babies and toddlers are not going to notice any imperfections! Next step, pin a quilt onto the rollers. Check thread tensions. Start stitching.

    Longarm_Love_crib_quilts

    Longarm_Love_block_detail

     

     

    I finished the quilting on three baby quilts this week. The practice was invaluable and I got reacquainted with my machine. At some point, as I was stitching along it suddenly hit me - I'm having fun! This is fun! Ah, the magical moment . . . . . I fell back in love with my longarm!


     

    The Ghanian quilt is now pinned to the frame. I did some sketches of quilting motifs and
    S-I-L has given approval. I can't wait to get started!

    Longarm_Love_Ghana_peek

    Until next time -

    MCH

    P.S. After binding, the baby quilts will go to Project Linus via my quilt guild. I hope some little ones will love cuddling them as much as I loved making them.

     

     

  • Fiber Revolution

    I was honored this week to be invited to join a group of distinguished fine art quilters called Fiber Revolution. This group of professional textile artists, in addition to creating a diverse body of art, are pro-active in pursuing exhibition space and getting their work out for the wider world to see. To be included in this group is a fantastic opportunity for me.

    To get acquainted with the other artists check out the Fiber Revolution website. Each member has a profile page with a short artist's statement and several images of their work. There are also links to current and past exhibits.

    I can tell already that I'll have to step up my game! But I'm eager for the challenges and looking forward to the opportunities ahead. On that note, I need to sign off and head into the studio!

    Until next time -

    MCH

  • Postcards From The Edge

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    Fabric postcards are totally fun to make - addictive even! I've made several in the past couple of days. Yesterday I mailed one to myself to see how it will tolerate the USPS. The picture here is a little distorted, but the PC itself is squared and straight! One of these days I'll get my photography act together.

    The postcards are class samples for a one-day workshop I'm going to give at my quilters' guild. I think participants will have a ton of fun creating them, and I know people like to go home with a finished project. This morning I had to resist the temptation to make more. I have another job to do - the fabric arrived this week for my freelance project and there is a deadline.

    Until next time -

    MCH

  • Media Deprivation, The Artist's Way

    If you are familiar with Julia Cameron's "The Artist"s Way" then you know that week 4 is "Reading Deprivation" week, or as I chose to frame it, "Media Deprivation" week. Media Deprivation is meant to reduce the inflow of outside distractions and allow some inner silence and space to get clear with your own thoughts and creativity. It is not an easy task, but it is rewarding and insightful. I wasn't perfect this past week, but I did gain self-awareness. Here is a summary of my week:

    Monday: I determined that the outside distractions that I would give up for a week were to be, reading the newspaper (including my daily Sudoku and Crossword puzzles), books, magazines, TV, radio,and the computer in all forms - e-mail, reading blogs, and social networking. I made a list of other things to do to fill my time, most importantly uninterrupted time in the studio. I actually did have to turn on the computer in order to upload pictures, burn CD's and prepare some quilt show entries, but I resisted e-mail and Facebook completely - so proud of myself! Monday night I missed one of my favorite TV shows and instead cleaned out and threw out 3 boxes of junk from my bedroom closet (that have been there how many years?)

    Tuesday: The daytime wasn't too rough as I was out of the house most of the day. I went to my quilters' guild meeting and then a group of us went out to lunch. That was all well and good, but the evening was another story. Only day 2 and all I wanted to do was have a glass of wine, watch the evening news, and hang out on Facebook! None of that happened (oh, except for the wine).

    Wednesday: A few slips today. I felt sluggish the whole day partly due to a poor night's sleep, but also because I was between art projects and needed to put the finished work out of my head and move on to the next piece. I accomplished some mundane tasks - laundry, some mending, a few errands. Later, I mixed some dyes and got the studio prepped for the next day, but didn't really accomplish much more than that. I slipped a bit and watched Oprah, but it was a decision to watch because her guest was Michael Pollan who wrote "In Defense of Food" - I love that guy! Oh, and I sat and did a crossword puzzle this evening - now what is so wrong with that?

    Thursday: This morning I woke up to snow! It was a total surprise because I am not watching TV - news, weather, nothing. I considered turning on the Weather Channel, but why, really? It's snowing - that's the weather. Had my best day of the week so far. In the studio all day. Painted with thickened dyes for the first time - I had a large blank piece of practice fabric and went to town! It was lots of fun! Then I started dye painting on an existing piece that needs to be finished. An 8 hour studio day! No slips and no distractions today.

    Friday: More studio hours. It is becoming so clear to me how much work can actually be accomplished when one tunes out all the distractions. Much of it doesn't feel like so much of a deprivation by now. Of course I miss reading and I know that's coming back, and you know I'm going back on Facebook!! As an artist who holes up in my home studio for days on end, I really love the connection I get with social networking. I do think, though, that I have learned a good lesson on self-discipline. I can check online a couple of times a day and that is enough.

    Saturday: All my guys are gone for the weekend. Mark is out of town on business. #1 son is gone for the day, #2 son is moving into his own place nearer to work. The weekend is my own and I plan to spend it in the studio. Another great day making art - then I lost it in the evening. Sitting home, all alone and the desire for connection sent me straight to Facebook! I'm nearing the end of my week - so I had a weak moment! Ah well.....

    Sunday: My week of Media Deprivation is coming to a close. I wrote my Morning Pages 6 days out of 7, I had a wonderful Artist's Date on Friday night, going to hear Jack Walsh's gallery talk about his art quilt collection. I've had lots of clear, silent inner space in which to think and it has been enlightening. I have a clearer purpose for self-discipline in all things distracting; I know it is something that I'll need to be vigilant about. It has been a productive week in so many ways.

    Until next time -

    MCH

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