Thursday, May 23, 2013

Improvisational block Orange

 I have been working on a series of extra blocks that are all improvisational strips, squares and rectangles of orange fabrics with bits of brown and gray. It all started with a gift of some lovely scraps from a couple of the quilters in DC Modern Quilt Guild. I began playing with grays, blues and greens then moved away to my warm palette with the bold oranges, marigold yellows, flame reds and it soon won out on the felt design wall. It has been a lot of fun and a lot of work piecing dozens of bits together. Today I think I am finished with the top. I didn't want to spoil the final reveal by showing an incomplete quilt.... so
Flowers showed up to match my project, I decided to incorporate them in a view from the ironing board to the kitchen and bedroom beyond. 
Instead I will show the rarely seen reverse side. This is the underside where all my quarter inch seams are pressed flat open and starched to keep them from bunching up under the sewing machine and quilting needles. Thanks to my mother's Christmas gift, I have a light weight and very effective steam iron. I still use her aunts antique ironing board in our foyer room to do pressing after sewing the seams. I run from living room sewing table, to ironing board foyer, to bedroom design wall where I have my felt hanging to lay everything out to puzzle over how the pieces will fit together.
see iron on the book shelf upper right side of this image 

close look if you want to see the seams and the backside of the printed fabrics

the long view with perspective
Now and then I have to go to the back porch studio to cut larger strips of fabric on the big table out there with a straight edge and rotary cutter, so in fact I use the entire apartment to sew. Keith has been supportive all along never complaining about being crowed by my ever growing stacks of fabrics and materials. Thanks to everyone who supports my creative productions and my emotional life with gifts of fabric scraps, comments, complements and sometimes purchases of my creations. I am really happy with how this scrappy quilt top project has unfolded over the last couple months. Now it is time to find a complementary backing to quickly set this up to be quilted so I can show you the finished version. Seems I need to find a cooler colored project to hang on the bedroom wall now that the heat is beginning to arrive our steamy sub-tropic Washington, DC. Moon lit gardens come to mind. Cool dark colors perhaps?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

mob of grackle fledglings

Our garden in the back of the building is a refuge for a mob of baby Grackle fledglings who are hanging out waiting on their parents to bring them food... They also take timid little flights from branch to ground or what ever gets in the way. They preen and just have a good look around to see what is in this world. I counted six babies at one point in the garden and only saw two adults so this must be a very big family. I wonder if there are going to be Cicadas to feed on in weeks ahead, because that might explain the big family this year. I am no expert on Grackles but I do like those brilliant blue heads with golden stark eyes and their long elegant tails. The babies have none of those features.
Here are a few photos I captured of the mob.

Three gray fledglings on the fence seemed to like being near one another waiting on handouts 

adult being followed along the edge of the garden by two fledglings 

Patiently waiting

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quilter's Tour at NGA

Today I met about 6 quilters and 5 children to take a tour of the modern wing of National Gallery of Art. The group was larger than just us quilters lead by a volunteer who knew a lot about the building and various works of art. Meeting up like this was a lot of fun and I wish I had lead my own tour, but hindsight is 20/20. We did a lot of floor changing up and down which was a bit challenging for the kids on wheels but it was all a lot of fun in the final analysis because we shared an art experience. Lunch in the sculpture garden was busy but we expected crowds this time of year. I didn't pose the group for a formal portrait. I just tried to get snapshots. Further down I have some images of the art I liked some of it wasn't on view today due to a leak down in the lower level that closed up several of the rooms.
Part of the gang on our tour... embedded quilters see any you know?

Guard son and Amy

Jamie and three daughters and Amy in the back with the guard and her son 

Paul Reed American, born 1919
acrylic on raw canvas

Henri Matisse Paper cutouts
The Ellsworth Kelly paper works exhibition is a temporary installation of works done with colored paper pulps editions in small sets of 10 or less for each design in 1977. Still looks very modern and interesting for quilting inspiration I believe. His painted canvas shapes are always so amazing to me and usually one or two colors on an exquisitely shaped canvas.
Ellsworth Kelly paper works

Ellsworth Kelly paper works

Ellsworth Kelly paper works

Ellsworth Kelly paper works

Alexander Calder small mobiles and sculptures

Alexander Calder huge mobile

Untitled Mark Rothko 
This great warm colored Rothko painting was switched out for a  blue and black one today. I knew something had changed! I took this picture last time I toured the modern collection thinking it would be a good place to go hunting for inspirations with my quilting friends.
Alexander Calder mobile and shadow

Cy Tombley 

Joan Mitchell
reminds me of a crazy quilt with so many triangles and interlocking strokes

Richard Pousette-Dart
American 1916-1992
White garden, sky 1951
graphite and oil on linen

Joseph Albers 

Andy Warhol self portrait x 4
QING Dynasty
Porcelain with overglase famille rose enamels 
This Qing Dynasty vase from the Asian ceramics in the west wing was one thing I found that looks very modern and would make a very nice quilt design using various star forms common to quilters. So I don't think we always need to look directly to modern art to find ideas for modern quilting. I believe everything we do is modern we can't help it being so but inspirations can come from any time or era. Updating past artist works in our own versions is one of the oldest tricks in the artists handbook. Ideas that are old always can be updated to find a new way that is informed by current culture and understanding.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Quilting for Mom

Improvisational block quilted pillow case
Last week in a sweat I worked up a little patchwork project and developed a gift for my mother. I worked up a design of strips using the same improvisational technique I have been doing in orange for that big quilt. This project was inspired  by a fat quarter of fabric my high school pal Valerie gave me a while back. We explored all sorts of Appalachian traditions  during our Junior and Senior years in high school together including quilting and dancing to blue grass bands at festivals.  Her choice really set my imagination running. I love the Ottoman/Mongol theme of this fabric which reminds me of the Persian and Mongol (Indian) miniature paintings seen at Sackler Asian Art Museum down town. The colors in the print are some of my Mother's favorites so I had to keep adding more to my stash and the DC Modern Quilter Guild's scrap exchange last month really helped expand my choices for the improvisational block building.
Last year's pillow the Rose Star in purples 
Last year I did a Rose Star English paper pieced pillow design. So this year it's a new cover done by machine with machine quilting.

fabric strips and pieces laying on the ironing board ready to sew

Finished and ready to use by Mom. 
Mom doing her word search puzzle in the big teal chair (soft focus) 

another block in my purple green theme with the Mongol towers in the center