Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review: Fearless Design for Every Quilter

In my last post, I mentioned the Practical Design workshop I've participated in for the last few years. I recently got my hands on the newest book by design teacher Lorraine Torrence, Fearless Design for Every Quilter (C&T Pub. 2009) and was delighted to see that she has presented a workshop in design in book format.

Basically, the idea of the book is this: focusing on elements of design and composition, a group of quilt artists take on small challenges and all of their results are shared and critiqued. So this book provides a lot of great information: basic principles on design and composition and color; aspects of positive critiquing; specific challenges; examples of what the artists did; and the critiques each result garnered. It's very instructive.

The book features artists of different styles and abilities, so the challenge pieces they produce vary and will appeal to different tastes. Even when the resulting piece wasn't something I was wild about, I found that I enjoyed reading about the artist's process, the problems she encountered, etc.

Working through the exercises in this book would be a great way to give yourself a home design course, or to work through with a friend. And there are springboard ideas, too, so you're not limited to the specific assignments set out here.

I was very glad to find this book, and I'll be recommending it to my friends.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No Shade in Sight

I've mentioned the monthly Practical Design workshop I attend -- or try to attend! -- and lately I've been working on catching up on exercises. This is my latest small piece, which measures about 11 x 15".

Our assignment was to work with a grid composition, and to emphasize diagonals or "s-curves." We were to work with a warm color palette.

I went straight to the box of pre-fused fabrics I have, and cut 1 8-inch square, and the rest in squares that were 4", 2", 1" and 1/2". I had a very fun time moving them around to play with composition. You can't see the quilting too well, but ultimately I stitched gently curving parallel lines, trying to emphasize where the diagonal block lines went.

It was a fun fast exercise. I realized how the grid superimposed with curving lines makes me see a map -- which leads me to think I'd like to use this construction and composition method for something bigger.

Every month I'm reminded of how important it is to just experiment. The workshop deadlines make me fit the time in ...but really, I should just do it, deadline or not.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My bed is calling me...

The bad news: I was up way too late last night working, and I will be spending today and tonight putting in a lot of hours to finish a big work project. So it will be a while before I can crash into bed to sleep until I just wake up when I'm ready to wake up.

The good news: The solution for what sort of border to put on the Cinco de Mayo quilt I started eons ago suddenly came to me. Funny how I get all sorts of creative ideas when my left brain is wholly engaged in legal work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One of the BIG questions of life

At our ranch retreat, we presented the quilts from our Second Annual Quilt Challenge. Last
April, a couple of intrepid fabric shoppers selected two different fabrics, and our challenge was to make something -- anything -- using some of each fabric.

Once again, I decided to make a quilt commemorating an aspect of the retreat that is meaningful to me. I thought about how we all get talking while we sew, and how we discuss all sorts of things -- our hopes, our dreams, our families, our failures, our marriages, our kids ... we can cover a lot of pretty personal territory.

So, my challenge quilt commemorated one of the intimate issues that absorbed us during the April '08 retreat:

"Over or Under."

(And don't tell me that at some time or another you haven't discussed this burning issue with someone...)

You can see a slideshow (once again, courtesy of Angie) of all of the challenge quilts here. There is a wonderful assortment!

Challenge Quilts April 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Virtual Retreat

Oh my! I've had all sorts of goings-on over the last two weeks, so I have a lot of blogging to catch up.

Before we headed off to San Diego for Easter vacation, I had a lovely 4 days with my retreat buddies at the Bishop's Ranch. As always it was total fun and lots of laughter and very restful and even productive!

I've not yet had a chance to download the pictures I took there but here is a great slideshow of pictures taken by the Official Ranchhands' Retreat Photographer, Angie. She's not only a great quilter, and blogger, and expert on home quilting systems, but she takes great pictures, too!

So click, and sit back and relax, and enjoy this virtual quilting retreat...

Bishop’s Ranch April 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Breaking from real life

So, we made a break from our real lives (get it, "spring break?!"), headed south, and have found ourselves in beautiful San Diego. We are staying with some old, dear friends who have a beautiful house overlooking the ocean -- so we are here for the week and will be eating and laughing and getting sand in our shoes and drinking margaritas and reading books and taking naps and generally having the sort of active and culturally enriching vacation we like.

Friends tell me that I cannot, cannot miss Rosie's Calico Cupboard while I am here -- a fabric store I would not have sought out as I don't really need calico for my cupboard, thank you very much -- so perhaps I will take a fabric-hunting excursion at some point.

Relaxation has already begun.

But wait -- a book recommendation for you...

I stumbled onto this book, via someone's list of favorites on ... and what a wonderful book. It tells the story of a modern day woman in Los Angeles, who has written a novel about the photographer Edward Curtis which is being considered for a movie project. The story weaves between her modern life and the story of Edward Curtis and his famous photographs of "the vanishing" American indians. The interweaving stories explore themes of vanished fathers, family life and intimacy, the myth of the American west, and more. The best part of this, to me, was the amazing lyrical prose. I kept pausing to re-read passages that were just so gorgeous.

It turned out to be the perfect thing to be reading as we drove down the length of California.

Hmmm, the fog is breaking so maybe a beachy afternoon IS in store today...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Deadlines can be good things...

Thank goodness for deadlines. Sometimes they push me to do something I wouldn't do ... and this month, the Twelve by 12 April 1 deadline was totally necessary to get me back to the sewing machine.

This time, the theme was window. Boy, did I have a hard time... I had so many ideas but just couldn't seem to get any of them started. I just kept waffling. Finally, I went with the idea that stuck the strongest in my head: using the traditional quilt block called "Dove in a Window." You'll notice that my windows have doves in them. Ahem -- literal, as usual, but still fun to do.

Head on over to the Twelve by 12 blog to see all 12 responses to this newest challenge. As always the 12 results are wonderful AND very different from each other.

I'm so grateful for the women in this group -- they inspire me and make me marvel at their cleverness and artistry and skill. I'm so glad to know them all and I learn from them every time.