Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ruth McDowell Workshop

I have just returned from Kalispell, Montana, where I took a week-long workshop with Ruth McDowell. This was my second workshop with her, and even more enjoyable than the first. Perhaps because I had a little more confidence going in to it. Ruth is such a generous and relaxed teacher, spending lots of time circulating around the classroom, and seeming to have unending patience in demonstrating the finer points of line drawings and section definition - the preparation that takes place before the quilts are pieced. We all started with a photo of our subject matter - everything from flowers to old family
photographs to landscapes. We began by making a tracing of the photograph, and then simplified this into lines and sections. Once that was completed - no quick and easy thing to do - we moved on to making fabric selections. While one person had her quilt top together by the end of the five days, most of us were still choosing fabrics, and some decided to do a second line drawing, rather than start sewing in the workshop. One thing I've learned about myself, is that I am a piecer. While I have dabbled in and quite enjoy many other methods of construction, it is piecing that I find most deeply satisfying. My goal in taking the workshop again, was to see if I enjoyed it as much this time as I did the first time (I did!), and then to commit myself to working in this method as much as possible over the next year. At the end of this time, I will evaluate how much I want to use Ruth's method in my ongoing work. I am so admiring of the flowers represented by people like Linda, the whimsical quilts, like Bonnie's Volkswagons, and the family photos interpreted in fabric, like Becky's piece. But the real draw for me is to landscapes,
particularly west coast landscapes. For now, I'll finish up the Yorkshire scene I worked on this time, and see where it leads me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Whistler Quilt Show

Last weekend I put on my vendor's hat, and headed up the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler for their quilt show. It was terrific to see so many people I had met teaching at other spots along the coast, and even to see old friends from spots in the interior of BC. So much so that I've decided Kitambaa won't give up on doing show altogether, but choose two or three shows a year to attend, just to let everyone know that we're still alive and well, with new African fabrics coming all the time. Of course it was also fun to see the quilts on display. The first one - Over by the Pond, made by Rhonda Harvey - won the ribbon for Viewer's Choice. It really was marvellous.
Next is a quilt that is part of a travelling exhibit of quilts made by the Fabricators - a group of art quilters from the Okanagan. I felt drawn in and down the path by the view captured in Pacific Vista, made by Evelyn Schmaltz. Sabrina Perfitt is the quilter who made the next quilt - Random Squares - to give to good friends of hers. I like the simplicity of it, and its controlled randomness. Paula Bohan's 1930's Scrap Zigzag was also very pleasing. I couldn't help but wonder what it would look like made up with African fabrics. And then there was this amazing hooked Hit and Miss rug, made by Nairn Stewart, as part of a display of other handwork done in Whistler. I haven't space to show everything, but I was thrilled to see the Africa-inspired corner of the show, and an amazing display of antique quilts too. All in all a most enjoyable weekend. And now I'm packing up for a workshop with Ruth McDowell in Kalispell, Montana. I am so thrilled that I'm able to take another class with her, as I've admired a work for a very long time. And at heart, I'm a piecer, so her construction process fits very well with my preferred way of working. But can I learn the design process well enough to use it in my own work? That will be the challenge.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Quilts from Czar

There were so many great quilts underway by the time I left Czar, that I thought you'd enjoy seeing a few more. All designing happens on the floor in Czar, so first there's Laura showing us her "work in progress". Then there are quilts from four other members, the last of whom is Dianne. She just sent me a photo of her completed quilt top, and I think it's just terrific. The one before that is Anita's. The other two? I'm hoping that the two of you will remind me of your names. I am utterly hopeless at remembering the names of everyone in any given class, although as soon as I see the fabrics, I can see your face and imagine exactly where you were sitting. This must say something about my priorities!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

African Collage in Czar, Alberta

I have just returned home from a wonderful teaching trip to Czar, Alberta. Where is this you ask? Well, it's 2 1/2 hours drive southeast of Edmonton - a town of 200 with a Quilters' Guild that draws members from all sorts of nearby rural communities. This 75-member Guild was celebrating their 10th anniversary, and I was fortunate enough to be invited there for this event. I can't tell you how impressed I was with these women, most of whom are traditional quilters, but wanted to try something a little different. They opted for my African Collage class, and each and every one of them created thier own unique wallhanging. I'd like to introduce you to just a few of them in this post, with more to follow in a day or two. First is Vicki. She had to prepare breakfast and lunch for the men on the ranch, who were branding cattle this weekend, before coming to class and designing this beautifully balanced and colourful piece. Next shown is Elaine, who added touches of blue to the warm fabrics provided in her class kit. Just the right touch to cause the eye to travel around her collage, and totally unlike anything she'd
made before. Carole used a deep blue and rust colour combination, to set off her batiked and silk-screened animals and people. The beads she's auditioning are the final touch. Ann went from saying that she wasn't sure what she was doing, to adding a row of squares on point in just the right colours to bring all the elements of her piece together. And lastly there's Miriam's work, with the unexpected addition of blocks from another quilt entirely, a curved pieced border, and a village scene in which rounded roofs of the huts echo that curved border. I am always amazed in this class, how individual each wallhanging is, how the personality of each person comes through. Apart from being a brave group of quilters, willing to try something quite new to them, they're also a phenomenally strong group of women. No matter what's going on in their lives, as many as can make it meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month in the Czar Hall. Once a year, on the weekend before Halloween, they have a quilt show, which draws people from as far away as Moose Jaw and Red Deer and Edmonton. And there's an annual sleepover at the
hall, and an annual bus trip, although now that they're up to 75 members, it's harder to do that. And then there's the food - home made soups and salads and desserts to die for. I was introduced to Saskatoon berry crumble, and will remember what a treat that was for a long time to come. So thank you to all of you in Czar and surrounding communities. You gave me such a warm welcome. I hope our paths cross again one day. And for any of you who might be travelling through that part of the country at the end of October this year, be sure to stop in and enjoy their quilt show, which is a much-anticipated event for the whole community every year. You'll be in for a treat.