Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"It Started With a Stitch"

1600 Inch Jelly Roll Challenge -Nancy McIntyre
I am just home from a weekend in Victoria, where Kitambaa Designs had a booth at the Westshore Quilters Guild. This is a fairly new guild, and their show was admirable, with a nice variety of quilts on display, as well as demos and a Merchant Mall. I was delighted to see all sorts of people I knew - people asking after the Bitengye Designers, people who have been in my classes, and people who are interested in African textiles and quilt designs. It was a terrific experience, and has persuaded me not to give up on going to shows altogether - something I had been contemplating, because the physical demands of a show are so high. What made a terrific difference this time, was that someone helped me load my totes into the van at home, and when I arrived at the show, helpers were ready and willing to help me unload my wares. To anyone helping organize a quilt show, let me tell you that this help earned five gold stars for the Westshore Guild, and I would highly recommend offering the same assistance at any show. It made this vendor very, very happy. I don't have to commend quilt shows to those of you who read this blog, but
Mini Block Sampler - Youngmi Kim
I was reminded again how invigorating it is to see other people's work, and be exposed to their amazing creativity. The quilts I have shown here are just a sampling, but give you an idea of why this show was such a feast for the eyes. I was saw quilts that I wouldn't attempt to make in a hundred years, but loved, and quilts that made me stop and examine why they worked so well, and to think about how I might use that knowledge in one of my own projects. If you're trying to decide what you might like to try next, or if you're trying to narrow down the options a little and decide what might be your own area of expertise, going to a quilt show goes a long way in helping in that process. So a big thank-you to the Westshore Guild for inviting me to this event and being so very helpful, and thank you to all my customers, who gave me the necessary nudge to get busy and create some more Africa-inspired designs. And happy quilting to all of you.
Quantum Shift - Diane Sanci

Coming Home - Linda McDonald

Eileen Neill and Joan Darling

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trees and Working in a Series

Stronger Together
It's been too long since I blogged, but it's all been for a good cause. I have been totally immersed in Lisa Call's online class - "Working in a Series" - for the last 10 weeks, and it was terrific. Each week we had another design challenge, another piece to work on, to post to the group website, and to critique, and then we got feedback from Lisa. Add weekly lectures and thrice weekly emails full of "mindset" information and readings and introducing us to a plethora of artists (mostly unknown to me before the workshop), and it
In the Presence of the Elders
made for a very full and rich 2 1/2 months. I have never worked so consistently on one area of interest before, and found this hugely beneficial. And learning how to self-critique is something I will continue with all my work. So is the practice of keeping a journal full of sketches and ideas, of inspirational photos and writing. The latter is not a pretty thing; not the kind of thing you'd haul out to show friends, but it's a place to capture the journey, to catch fleeting ideas and thoughts for possible new directions. Of the pieces I made, I'm more pleased with some than others. I showed you the first two on my blog back in January, and here are four more. "Stronger Together", an exercise in colour, is about something called mycorrhizal networks - when two organisms, a Douglas fir and mushrooms, in this case - grow in such a way that their roots connect under the ground, so they're able to give one another the nutrients they need to be healthy and withstand things like drought due to climate change. I was thinking about this as a metaphor for community - that we may be very different from one another, but we need one another. I was particularly thinking about
In the North Woods
 people on the fringes of our communities, and the sometimes undervalued ways they contribute to the whole. This piece is probably the most different from all the other pieces, and might even branch off into a series of its own one day. Next is "In the Presence of the Elders", and was a study in value. I wanted to convey the magnificence of the old growth fir trees, thinking of them as the source of wisdom and stories, and of how much they have to tell us about looking after the earth. This is the piece I'm probably most pleased with. Then comes "In the North Woods", which was an exercise in line. Having resolved the problem of conveying depth to the forest in the previous piece, I started this one from that same place, and particularly wanted to find a way to use line for the branches, in an abstract way. The last one is called "Before the Fog Lifts". I was trying for trees that were abstracted even further, while making this piece, which is an exercise in repetition. I wish I'd stuck with the vertical orientation I had in the last piece, but the conditions in which I made were less than supportive, and I think that shows in my work. This workshop was just what I needed to move my own work forward. Where it will go from here and what you will see next is gradually becoming more clear, and I plan to blog about it much more often. But it was worthwhile tucking my head down and plugging away on my own for awhile, just to see what happened. I know that I'll need to do that from time to time, because not being
Before the Fog Lifts
concerned about what others will think of my work, and keeping it close to me, seems to help free me up in some way. At least when I'm trying out something new to me. But I thought you'd like to see what I've been up to while I've been in hibernation, because I know how much I enjoy and learn from other people who share their journey and their process with me. So here it is, and thanks to you who have been interested enough to read about it. Here's to the creative life, whatever shape it takes!