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A little quilting

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I’ve had these two little wall hanging quilts here since back early in the year.  I told the lady it might take me a very long time to finish them for her and she was ok with that.  Well, I finally got them finished.  All I had to do is the binding and a hanging sleeve.  These are 6″ x 21″ each.

Quilts-Mary Ann 006I finished this small wall hanging for her too.  I did the quilting but stopped whenever my arm started hurting.  The size is 20″ x 45″ so its very small.

Quilts-Mary Ann 001It felt good to be at the quilting machine again.  I did very simple designs that could be done easily.  Straight  lines on the border.

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I did a type of meander in the background.

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An echo on the stocking and sid around the applique.

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I put the binding on by machine using a blanket stitch just like she had used to stitch the applique then added a hanging sleeve.  I managed to do the quilting without over working my arm.  Yippie!

I’m not ready to go back to full time quilting yet but it does feel good to be doing some quilting.  I have one more small one to work on.  I put it on the machine Saturday and will work on it a little at a time.  It has been here since back in the spring too.  I may be working at a snail’s pace but even snails get to their destination eventually.


Simple observations

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So what exactly did I learn in the Hollis Chatelain class?  Quite a bit actually, most of it was not painting related.  I was dazzled by all the artist celebrities.  I believe everyone except me was actually an artist and a couple of the people were big quilt show winners like Hollis.  I really was out of place among them but at the same time I was able to ask questions about their art work.  I liked that.

I went mostly because of the quilting part of the class and I did spend a lot of time looking at the quilting done on her quilts.  She must have thought I was weird because I kept looking at the front, then the back, then the front, then the back.  Hollis even mentioned the difference between a regular person looking at art quilts and a quilter looking at art quilts.  A regular person will walk by and say “hmm, that’s interesting”, look at it for a bit, then walk on.  A quilter however will say “hmm, that’s interesting”,  walk closer to look at the stitching, and then try to see the back before walking on.  Yeah, we quilters know there is more to an art quilt than just the overall design.  It is made up of many parts and we are interested in them all.

I should have checked further into what the class was really about before being so hasty to sign up.  The class was more about the painting than the quilting.  DUH! It did say “dye painting” class, not thread painting class or quilting class. We never really started any of the stitching.  We spent probably an hour or two on the last day learning about using tracing paper to sketch our quilting idea.  I prefer to use wax paper for my stitch design planning. It’s less expensive than tracing paper.  I’ve used it for many years and it works for me.

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Thread colors by Hollis for Superior thread.

Here are my observations of what I believe should be changed.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being critical at all, just observant.  She is a very good teacher. She has groups of people signing up for ten years worth of classes.  That’s dedication.  Or would it be popularity?  At least a couple of people came from far away states just to be in her class.  One from Michigan and one from, I think she said Oklahoma? I believe  another came from Texas?  I’m not sure.

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One of the teacher tables

I watched Hollis running around trying to set things up for the next step or putting away things from the previous one instead of continuing to teach.  That’s where an assistant would have been really handy. If I were Hollis I would ask each group to provide an assistant.  Assistants are volunteers.  Most of the big shows provide volunteer assistants, called teachers angels, for all their teachers.

Tasks like unpacking supplies, packing stuff away, handouts, measuring, and so forth are done by the volunteer.  I would also write up a schedule sheet for my volunteer and ask that person to be a clock watcher for me.  It should be written with enough instructions that the assistant could easily follow along to clean up one step then set up the next step while I continued to talk with the students or explain something or make my way around the room.

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Famous box contains the magic tools. (paint brushes)

Another thing I would do is make a large (poster board size) sign with this saying….. “Please hold all questions or comments until after I finish speaking.  It’s your money.  I can teach or we can all talk.  It’s your choice.”  and put it in front of the class.  That would surely cut down on the student need for interrupting the teacher.  Yes, I’m guilty too.  I forgot good student behavior and raised my hand a couple of times while she was talking.  Ok, maybe a sign is not a good option but making sure that is said and heard by everyone is important.

I really like Hollis’ art because she doesn’t see people in skin tones either.  At least we have that much in common.  Maybe she has trouble finding the right paint in the same way I have trouble picking the right crayon.  Anyway, next time you look at her work notice that she has blue people, and green people, and denim people, and multi-color people.  For the class she even made a red orange person.  Just look at the shine (light reflection) she painted on the eye.

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I think if we had met in different circumstances we might have had a conversation or two about some controversial or political issues.  I’ve been an activist for as long as I can remember.  She strikes me as an activist type person because that’s what I see in her art.

When I was there I could have sworn Hollis showed us a quilt that was a hand and was quilted with red thread.  Another person that was there said the same thing.  Hollis told us no she had not shown the class a hand quilt done with red thread.  Both of us were puzzled and wondered if we dreamed the whole thing.  Two separate people with the same dream?  Not likely.  I have now figured out where I saw the hand quilted with red thread.  It’s on Hollis’ website.  It’s called “red quilted hand”.   A blue green hand, not a flesh color of some type.  It’s quilted with white and red threads.

Now it’s time for me to go visit with my Mother at the nursing home.  She had a fall last night so I want to see for myself that she’s not injured.  This is the last of the posts about the class.

I did this

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This is one of the paintings I did in Hollis’ class.  Can you tell what it is?

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How about now?

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I was so focused on learning the process that I forgot to take photos as I worked.  The hand drawing is her’s.  The painting is mine using her drawing.  She had several we could choose to use.  Look at this class sample done by Hollis.  That’s why she is the teacher and I’m a student.

Loucon 2014 051Here is the other one I did in class.  It is also one of Hollis’ we were allowed to use.  The sketching on the left is a possible stitching designs to do on the painted fabric.

Loucon 2014 059While I sat in class waiting for things, I pulled out my sketchbook and played around.  I can’t seem to simply set still.  I feel the need to be doing something all the time.  At first I was making little sketches suitable for putting on customer quilts and then it dawned on me…. I don’t have customers anymore.

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So I started looking at my own hand and deciding how I’ll go about doing the quilting on this hand quilt if I finish it someday.  The mod painting one will be easy, the hand, not so easy.

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A really nice lady, named Elsbeth, from the group mailed me a book about drawing people.   I believe it’s going to be a great help for me.  Once I get started.  It seems I’ve done lots of other things the last few days instead of concentrating on the one thing I want most. I’ve been procrastinating by house cleaning or internet surfing or cooking.  Maybe it’s an artist block or something?  Anyway, today I’m spending time in my studio again.  Even if I only do a bit of cleaning it should help get me motivated.

Someone cancelled

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Monday was the monthly grocery day where I chauffeur my SIL and Tuesday was put it all away day.  I don’t mind shopping, it’s the putting away that takes so much of my time.  Yesterday was catch up after being gone a week day.  Laundry, mopping, etc.  Anyway here is more about my trip.

When I got the call that I was actually accepted into a spot in the Hollis Chatelain class I went from no hope to yippee!  I could barely concentrate on finishing canning a batch of mushrooms.

Food and kitchen 2014

Then, reality set in.  How on earth was I going to pay for the class with no money?  How would I purchase the supplies required with no money?  How would I even get there without a car?  What clothes would I wear?  A clothes decision might seem simple to most people but I was still wearing clothes I had bought 15 years ago.  My clothes were basically rags held together with thread.  I told myself, “if I am meant to be in that class, it will happen” and stopped stressing about it.  I finished my canning and started making a list of what I’d need.

Statefair 2014 003

Remember this quilt?  A purple and green double wedding ring?  Ok, maybe not.  I just realized I haven’t posted this as a finish this year.  I did show it in a photo back in July when I was working on it.  Anyway, the money from this quilt helped pay for my trip to Loucon.  The new owner had me promise that not one cent from the sale of the quilt would go for anything other than the trip.  Yeah, she knows me really well.  Actually, no one, not even my daughter, knew I was keeping this quilt as a savings account.  If anyone knew  I could sell it to get money then there would be a “crisis” of some sort and I’d give away the money.  As long as everyone only saw a quilt and not a savings account then I was safe from any emergency need requests.  The new owner agreed to wait about picking it up until I knew if I could go to the class or not.

Yes, the trip did cost a small fortune.  Roughly around fifteen hundred after class fee, membership fee, art supplies, car rental, clothes, etc.  I don’t have an exact figure.  What?  Oh.  You want to know how much my trip cost me?  Sorry, I miss understood.  Hmm, let’s see.  It cost me about nine months worth of non-edible groceries, two months of internet, four months of utilities, three months of phone service, a couple months of medication, and my entire clothes budget for the next fifteen years.    Give or take a few dollars.

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A future art quilt?

Or I could say it cost about one fourth the amount I need to get my teeth pulled and new dentures made.  Or enough to buy a new top of the line fridge instead of the dorm size I currently use.  Or, well just about anything.  Just like in art, it’s all in the perspective.  Let me put it this way.  To someone living pay check to pay check one dollar means a whole lot more to them than it would to someone who can afford to purchase Hollis’ art.  I hope I explained that right.

Would I do it again? No.  But let me tell ya, my decision has nothing at all to do with the artist, the class, or the people.  I’m very happy I got to go and happy with what I learned.  I made several new friends and had a great time.  My decision is about the economics of taking an in person class.  Even if I had somehow gotten a scholarship to pay for the class there would have been many other expenses associated with going away for a class.  Art supplies are not cheap.  I don’t know how artists can afford to become artists.  Renting a car is very expensive.  Paying rent at an away place is another expense.  So, you see for me it is not practical to take an away class.  I think I need to stay with online classes, or DVD classes, or classes I can actually get to by city bus and be back home at night.

I’m very happy I went though.  I don’t know what art I want to create unless I give some different techniques a try.  I had to know if painting interested me.  Who knows, I could have come home ready to start painting fabrics.  I did learn that I’m happier drawing than painting.  I guess that’s why I like quilting so much.  Quilting is like drawing.

Morning ritual

Morning ritual June 2010

To be continued.

I’m back

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Did anyone miss me?  Actually, no one knew I was gone.  In a ghetto neighborhood, like the one I live in, you don’t tell anyone you are leaving home for a few days because you might not have anything left when you return.  Blog readers may have wondered why I didn’t post for several days and I have several emails to answer but no one in the neighborhood or online really knew.

It’s been years since I was gone from home for more than a few hours.  My daughter came every morning before work to open curtains and returned in the evening to close them again.  Oh, and she fed my furry kid Dylan too.  A couple of neighbors may have wondered why they hadn’t seen me for a few days.  Mostly no one actually notices me either way.  I’m easy to forget.

Future utility poles

Future utility poles

Well anyway,  I went to a Hollis Chatelain class at LouCon.  Let me tell ya, there are probably very few quilters who don’t know the work of Hollis Chatelain.  I asked her to say her last name for me so I could pronounce it right.  Uh, duh! It’s a French name.  I’d never be able to say it even after hearing it.  Not with the accent I have.  I simply said thank you and walked on.

Well anyway, quilters everywhere know her quilts by sight.  She wins ribbons and big prizes at the major quilt shows.  Click on her name link to see examples of her work.  She is a fantastic artist.  Umm, while you are looking at her art check out the prices on some of her quilts.

I expected to see high prices but ghee whiz some of her wall size quilts are priced at more than my house and everything inside it cost me.  Including the Gammill.  But, her pieces do sell so why shouldn’t she ask a big price for them?  I would do the very same thing if I thought someone would actually buy my art.  To quote Hollis about pricing art work, “If your art sells faster than it took to make it, double the price.”  Yeah, I like that one.  I don’t think I’ll forget it.  I never got a chance to ask if she would do the reverse if something did not sell for a long time.  All her work sells so she probably wouldn’t know about that.

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So let me tell you about Loucon .  Loucon is a Church based summer camp for kids about 50 or 60 miles from my house. It’s out in the country, of course.  What kids summer camp isn’t someplace in a rural area?  The kids are back in school now so the camp rents cabins as a retreat center.  The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society booked a 3 day class and I just barely squeaked into it.  I was told I was the last remaining person on the waiting list.  I held out little hope of getting into the class.  I actually didn’t know about the class until last month but other people had booked spaces about a year ago.

I was put onto a waiting list of one, hoping against hope I would get to go.  I didn’t know how I would pay for it.  (No money)  I didn’t know how I would get there.  (No car) I didn’t know if I was even qualified to be in one of her classes. (No formal art degree)  All I knew was that this very famous person was going to be in Kentucky just a short distance away and I wanted to meet Hollis the person, not just Hollis the famous artist.  What? Why?

I’ll explain.  She does beautiful paintings and I know her classes are way out of my league.  I truly didn’t expect to take one class and come home ready to create masterpieces.  Ok, yeah I did have hopes but one class does not make an expert.  Next to her art my art is like a kinder gardener competing with a college professor who has lots of letters behind the name.  Names like Mr/Ms so-n-so,  phd, md, cme, or whatever.  I spent a lifetime living in a ghetto and she’s been all over the world.  She sells small art pieces for many thousands of dollars.  I usually earn around one dollar an hour for my work.  My art quilts have been given away free and I usually teach free.  In other words, our worlds are on opposite ends of each other.  Ghetto vs affluent.  But, we have one thing in common that I was hoping to get a chance to talk with her about.  Her art is sort of controversial or tree hugger style or something like that. Geeze, my mind can’t seem to find the right word to describe it.  Anyway, I really want to do some of that type art without offending anyone.

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I want to convey my lifetime of living in poverty without people thinking that I’m just prejudiced.  I want my art to say “Hey, I live here in the ghetto too so why shouldn’t I create art from what I see everyday?” and not cause a riot.  For example, the little man quilt that I entered into the fair.  Yes, I did mean for it to make people laugh.  But, laugh at the absurdity of pants worn so low, not at the person who wore them.  Gosh, this really is extremely hard to explain.

Hollis did speak to me a minute after seeing the little man quilt.  What she said has helped me start putting into words how I want the public to see me as an artist and my art.  It will need a whole lot of polishing and for that I’ll probably ask the neighbors to help.  Here goes,

I am an old white Caucasian woman lady, living in a predominately young black African American neighborhood. I am a liberal democrat living in a conservative republican state.  Although I  do have very tightfisted frugal habits which makes me more like a conservative liberal?  Would that be a Re-pud-ocrat or a De-mol-ican?  Ha!  Figure that one out. My friends and neighbors all know that when we laugh, we are laughing together, not at or about each other.  I laugh with them, not at them.

Hey, by golly,  I just started writing an artist resume.  Imagine that!  Yeah, ok, I know it sounds ridiculous right now but it’s my blog and I can write what I want to write.  Don’t like it?  Stop reading it.  If I make fun art why not have a fun resume to go with it?

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I have never seen people in terms of skin tones.  To me, people are just people.  Maybe that’s why I have so much trouble drawing realistic images.  I can’t figure out which crayon to use. So many colors from which to choose.  My neighbors often laugh when I say something and then I realize why they are laughing. Uh duh!  I forgot my skin is light and talked just like one of them. Yeah, they laugh when I forget I’m a senior instead of a first grader too.  I’m the neighborhood Nannie so everyone knows I would never intentionally do anything to cause hurt feelings.  I am trusted with house keys, pet feeding, children rescuing, money holding, and dependable for food when hungry.

I thank Hollis for helping me to start putting into words who I am and what I want to do.  Seriously though, my resume should reflect why my art includes so much of the neighborhood.  I’ll work on it.  The painting class?  Ok, painting fabric is really not my thing.  I have to be honest about that.  I may want to paint fabric sometime in the future but not now. Maybe when I’m comfortable drawing I’ll want to branch out into other mediums.

I understand about drawing lines.  Regardless of how a line is created it’s still just a line.  Only the instrument of drawing a line changes.  A thread line is no different from a pencil line or a paintbrush line or a crayon line.  It’s the combination of directions of lines, thickness of lines, and the negative space in between the lines that create art.  Create images?  Create realistic?  What-ev-ah.  I guess my next step should be to learn about creating lines and their combinations?

I do plan to write more posts about my trip.  I don’t want to put everything into one post because I’d be here for days just type talking.  It takes me a long time to write a post because I type, read, edit, and repeat time after time.  Even then I find myself hesitating to click the publish button.


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