Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

A Year of Mark Making

My friend, Deb Prewitt, over at Blue Twig Studio threw down a challenge for 365 days of art for 2014. I have to admit that I am really terrible at consistency and the idea of publicly committing to a daily practice and posting it daily is just too overwhelming. On the other hand I have been trying to improve my consistency score. So, I decided in true mixed media fashion to twist the rules to suit my needs. I will tweek the challenge a bit and post my efforts as often as possible and not feel shame if I can't do it every day.

The spirit of the challenge is to take time to play, create and have fun every day while improving your skills. I have drawing had on my 'improve skills list' for at least 6 years. I have taken a few classes and have improved a bit so I thought I should revisit this drawing improvement idea for this challenge. In keeping with my guiding word of intention I asked myself to what end do I want to improve my drawing skills? I love illustration and detailed drawings and I can manage basic sketching. What exactly do I want to improve because let's face it...if I really loved drawing I would do more if it already.

I realized that my work is much more about mark making; recording marks in the world both man-made and nature made. I am fascinated by texture and line. While I would love to magically be able to sit down and sketch out a detailed street scene I don't care about it enough to put in the practice time. My work is becoming much more abstract; moving away from representational and that magical ability really wouldn't help move my art forward though it might impress people and increase my genius standing!

Sometimes my mark making will be on paper and sometimes with stitch. Here are two of my journal pages from this last week. I am dealing with a hand injury so all of my mark making has been with my left hand! I am enjoying this switch because I have less control and think that left handed drawing will have to become a frequent player in my mark making journey.

mark-making-journal-pages-1-of-2mark-making-journal-pages-2-of-2

 

Anyone else want to play along?

 

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A Wild Ride!

loving these warm waters



How on earth did it get to be mid-November already? Last I looked it was summer. Actually it was summer when I was in Houston last week! On October 27th my toes were happily splashing in the warm Gulf Waters and I was soaking up the sun with my buddies Ruth Chandler and Deb Prewitt.

Deb Prewitt and Ruth Chandler



We had a great afternoon relaxing before the big show! We all agreed that taking the extra time to rest and relax was worth the added expense. We plan on keeping up with this self care event in the future!

Before



After
After


Then there was the 10 days of chaos that are called Quilt Market and Festival. It always seems amazing to me how in a few short hours the show floor morphs from a cacophonous frenzy of crates, fork lifts, sweaty vendors and trash strewn about to a beautiful showcase of the latest fabrics, books and ideas for quilters and stitchers. I would call it the Greatest Show on Earth if that wasn't already taken.

Here are just a few of my favorite things from Market..

Creative Booth Displays



I really wanted to grab some of those bones to walk around Flinstone style.

Urbanista - love that leaf!



Kokka Fabrics - Prints Charming



I adore Kokka fabrics! This great line, Daisy Chain, in the Prince Charming Collection is awesome! Yes, I came home with some....is harder to resist than chocolate! You can get it soon from Blue Twig Studio.

Jennifer Sampou's newest collection ~ Fiesta



There were lots of great new fabric lines in bright colors. Looks like we are all going to be playing with these fun patterns, designs and modern colors. Maybe the dreary economy has something to do with that...or maybe I just didn't 'see' all the brown and gray fabrics out there.

Coral tree fabrics



One of my favorite discoveries is this new line of fabrics from Africa offered by Da Gama Textiles. These beautiful fabrics have a wonderful soft hand and the patterns and colors are wonderful...I came home with a few of these and you can get your own at Artistic Artifacts right now! You may have to e-mail Judy directly because she probably hasn't had time to get them on the site yet.

Art Gallery Fabrics



I am also in love with the new line of solids from Art Gallery Fabrics. Such luscious colors in their always scrumptious feeling cotton. The solids pair beautifully with their new patterns of course but I know they will blend well with much of what is in my stash.

I am always on the lookout for new products and found some great brushes for surface design from Royal Langnickel. Ruth and I can't wait to get the paints out and give them a workout...will post photos when we do.

I love teaching store owners and other teachers at Quilt Market as well as the time we spend in the Landauer booth talking about our books. It is always a crazy busy fun time. Check back tomorrow for a post about Quilt Festival and a GIVEAWAY!
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Chicago Town

Marilyn and Me in Chicago



I went to Chicago this week to attend the Craft and Hobby Association trade show with my friend Deb Prewitt. We managed to squeeze a day of sight seeing into our trip and had a blast playing tourist in the Windy City! Unfortunately we also happened to choose the most humid and hot day for our trekking about town...even the locals said it is never this bad!

Art Institute



So, to beat the heat we spent the hottest part of the day exploring the Art Institute. What an amazing place...we spent at least 5 hours and didn't see it all. One of my favorite exhibits was Chagall's Americas Windows

There was so much detail when viewed up close...hard to see in the photo but amazing in person.There was a great textile exhibit as well but photographs were not allowed. The exhibit showed a progression in design in kimonos through the years...from traditional to off the rack. It was full of beautiful textiles and featured a lot of very sheer summer weight kimonos that we don't usually see.

Deb Prewitt and Rothko



I was thrilled to see a couple of Mark Rothko paintings up close. I am amazed at the many layers of paint Rothko employed. His work is so amazing in person!

The museum was filled with my favorite shade of green. I don't think it skewed my experience but my eyes were delighted to be filled with my favorite shade of green. Love this grid pattern behind me!!

We enjoyed a rest on a bench by the water...I even pulled out my sketchbook!

Grants Park



I enjoyed the skyline and beautiful tall buildings...like Amazonian  women gathering at the water's edge. This fountain seemed like it was built to allow those Amazonian women to dip their feet in...it is huge! The parks were equally wonderful and plentiful! Boy were we thankful for the shade of all those trees in the parks and the breeze off the water.

There were beautiful gardens and sculptures everywhere you looked...a very beautiful city. Deb and I finished off the day with a walk along the Magnificent mile. We didn't do any real shopping...just window shopping and ducking into stores to get cool. :-)

Thanks for a great visit Chicago! The people we met were great especially the one young couple who took us under their wing and gave us the metro tutorial and tips for further adventures in the future.

Tune back in tomorrow for a CHA market report!
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Dove Grey to Deepest Blue Black

 




Ann Johnston demonstrating painting on fabric with color on our last day





I know, I know, I said I would never go down the fabric dyeing road but some friends dragged me along on their adventures last summer and I was quickly hooked. I loved the results of low water immersion dyeing so when I heard that Ann Johnston was coming to Colorado to speak at Front Range Contemporary Quilters and offer a workshop I jumped in with both feet. Who better to learn from than the Mistress of Dyeing?  

Deb Prewitt and Chris Dickinson working into our lunch hour



 I had no idea there were so many shades and variations of black until I spent 3 1/2 days with Ann Johnston last week. From dove grey to deepest blue black we brushed, smeared, thickened and stained dyes on different fabrics until we started to be able to pick out which ones were slightly greenish from those that were slightly purplish. Working exclusively with black dyes, we focused on line, texture, pattern, value and shape as well as rhythm and repetition. It was awesome to spend so much time focused on art and the confusing science of dyeing with no interruptions...just one of the many reasons I love workshops and retreats. Ann is a great teacher and shared every shred of knowledge she had stuffed in her brain...or at least as much as we could drink in.  

Liz Hoops with one of her mono-prints



 The other amazing thing about attending workshops and retreats is getting that glimpse into other artists' brains and thought processes. We had 19 people in our class and the energy was amazing and it was boggling to see so many variations come out of the exact same assignment.  
 




Laurie Gibb focused on mark making





Ann is a closet scientist and tests, tries and explores every variation of dye process that you can imagine so that we can learn from her adventures and not spend so much time experimenting. I highly recommend her classes. Ann did give us some demos of how she paints her beautifully colored art fabrics on the last day...we were so excited to see color after all that black and white. Here are a couple of my favorite pieces that I made.

Cotton and Cotton Linen blends



Silk Habotai ~ dyes black very differently than cotton

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Fall Quilt Market

Fall quilt market was great. The atmosphere was upbeat and some of the stressful faces from previous markets were replaced with cheerful smiles. Business in the quilt world is thriving.  I didn't have as much time to talk to fabric designers and see the whole quilt show but I do have some photos to share.

M&S Textile from Australia



I didn't take a lot of photos during the Schoolhouse sessions...just plain forgot! But I did get this photo during the M&S Textile session. Their Aboriginal fabrics are wonderful and wow do they create an intricate quilt. This quilt is actually a very simple pattern...the fabric does all the work. That is my kind of quilt!  Artistic Artifacts carries an extensive line of these fabrics...I want them all!!

1/2 of sample spree



Sample spree is a shopping experience not to be missed. Store owners, teachers and designers have a chance to pick up some of the hottest new products and fabrics so they can get their samples and classes prepared before the products are shipped. It is a bit of a mad house as everyone rushes to their favorite vendor table...quantities are usually limited. This photo shows just half the ballroom where it is held.

Ruth Chandler and I in Landauer booth



Ruth Chandler and I had demos for Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond every day and I had demos for Threads: The Basics and Beyond as well. We love talking about the books and getting store owners and teachers excited about giving classes based on them. Our demo table is always a pile of samples! Other quilt authors bring nice neat stacks of quilts and we bring all this little stuff! LOL! It is sort of a treasure hunt as we try to show cool techniques amid the jumble of book samples. No one seems to mind though. We were very excited to learn that Fabric Embellishing will be translated into French! Hope I can get a copy.

I had two big book signings at distributor's booths. Unfortunately, my co-author Debbie Bates couldn't attend. These signings are a lot of fun and I get to talk about thread! They had to listen very intently in the E.E. Schenck booth because I was losing my voice.

Book signing at E.E. Schenck



Threads signing in the Checker booth



I also taught a Take and Teach class designed for shop owners to give them ideas for teaching from Threads: The Basics and Beyond. We made this cute little quiltlet with a flower power theme. The students had a great time and almost everyone finished their mini quilt. Those classes are hard on the store owners because we start at 8am! Then they hit the show floor at 9:30...it is pedal to the metal stitching! Fortunately I had my dear friends Ruth Chandler and Deb Prewitt manning the heat guns so we could get their thread lace flowers dry enough to stitch on to the quilt. Friends who will get up at 5:30am to help are priceless.

Take and Teach students hard at work.



Susie's finished Flower Power quiltlet.



Tomorrow I will post some photos from the market floor and then more from Quilt Festival...stay tuned because you know I brought home some goodies for a giveaway!
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