Help Me Shed Light On My Work

I mean that quite literally. My husband has proposed some lighting upgrades to make it easier for me to see what I’m doing in my studio. It is a former bedroom with the obligatory middle of the ceiling dim light. New energy efficient bulbs haven’t helped much. The two windows are on the same wall and either bring in too little or too much light from their western exposure.

So far I’ve done online searches, which have given me general guidelines but not enough specifics as to products to use/avoid and costs. Some of the studios pictured have tons of ceiling lights, but visions of large price tags for fixtures and electricians dance through my head when I look at them.

Drop lights and wall sconces

Track lighting. (I want that cabinet to the right.)

Rows of track lighting. My fabric doesn’t look like that.
I like the idea of adjustable height lights.

I have task lights at my work table and on my sewing machine, but there are dark areas by the ironing board and design wall. I know changes are needed, but I’m befuddled about where to begin. This is where you come in.

What lighting solutions have worked for you? What kind of budget did you have? Are there resources I haven’t yet tapped to help guide me?

Thanks.


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Artistic Endeavors – Quilts And Real World Issues

Quilts often seek to evoke warm, cozy feelings associated with rainbows, puppies, and holidays; but some are deliberately different. They are meant to make the viewer question assumptions and possibly feel uncomfortable.

Most recently the Threads of Resistance show has been exciting reactions, but quilters were making social and political statements in the 19th century about topics like war, temperance, and women’s suffrage. The tradition has continued through civil rights, environmental issues, AIDs, refugees, gun control and other contemporary concerns.

AIDs quilt

Women’s Christian Temperance Union Bear Paw quilt

I addressed the social commentary quilts shown at 2018’s QuiltCon earlier. Here’s my favorite one, a tribute to Heather Heyer, the activist killed during the white supremacist march in Charlottesville last August.

Juli Smith B4U

I viewed the Threads of Resistance exhibit at the 2018 Sewing Expo in Cleveland, Ohio, after reading the printed warning about the graphic nature of some of the work. The exhibit was cordoned off, with only one entry point. I took photos of ones I thought combined a message and artistry. See all the entries here.

Get Woke – Julie Parrish

Seeking Refuge – Do Palma

Patriotism – Amy Sullivan

My Body, My Rules – Sue Bleiweiss
Nevertheless, They Persisted – Do Palma

The societal/political aspects of quilts are stronger than you’d think if you went only by what’s exhibited at many quilt shows. Part of the International Quilt Study Center’s website, World Quilts: The American Story, is devoted to engagement. Thomas Knauer posted an impassioned editorial about what he calls the whitewashing of quilts’ context

I looked over my work and found almost no topical subjects. I just don’t do what I call message quilts. But maybe I should. Let me end with a quilt I think, and others agree, epitomizes the use of quilting skills in service of a message.

Freedom quilt by Jessie Telfair, 1983




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Sticking The Finish

I love having boring but necessary finish work to fall back on when I get stuck on new stuff. My deep purple project (no, you haven’t seen it) needs wall time, so I turned to binding two projects.

Neither is especially original, though I like to think I’ve put my own spin on them. “Church Windows” is a smaller version of a Victoria Findlay Wolfe project, and “Twinkle, Twinkle” is my riff on the “Rock Star” quilt I spotted on Pinterest.

I wrote about “Church Windows” before I quilted it. The quilting was a bit tricky as I went with a wool batting. My reasoning was it would make for a warmer, lighter lap quilt. The batting became an issue after I washed it half way through the quilting process and the quilt puffed up like a startled cat.

Oh, why did I wash it? I sprayed what I assumed were water erasable blue pen marks with water after I did part of the quilting. Turns out I assumed wrong. I used many kinds of pens to trace around templates for the pieces in order to see my lines, and one/some of those bled horribly with water. The bleeding came out with a wash, but the batting really fluffed up in the dryer. Then I had to tamp it down for the second round of quilting.


“Church Windows” 39 by 57″

You can see how puffy it got.

Luckily, quilting “Twinkle, Twinkle” went smoothly, however boring a one inch diagonal grid is to quilt.


“Twinkle, Twinkle” 40 by 47″


“Twinkle, Twinkle” detail

I used up many, many scraps on this one, but I fear my scrap boxes are gearing up for the winter breeding season.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


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Artistic Endeavors – Tokyo at Night by Liam Wong

If you’re a fan of the movie “Blade Runner” you’ll love the neon colored  photography of Liam Wong. Wong is a Scottish (I didn’t see that coming) graphic designer who works for a video game company in Canada. On a trip to Tokyo he set out to capture the city in all its nighttime neon glory.

Memories of Green


Tokyo Night Train

Walking The Nocturnal Streets of Shinjuku



Purple Rain

Minutes to Midnight


I’m drawn especially to the rainy night scenes. Wong has an Instagram feed for his work, @liamwon9. You can also buy merch printed with his photos. See his website for details.


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Modern Curves

I hereby declare this is drunkards path week. First, I featured the paintings of Luiz Zerbini. Now, I want to show you two small quilts, let’s call them quiltlets, I’ve been working on. They use the modern drunkards path block.

What makes this block modern? As the photo below shows, the larger, traditional orange and yellow blocks have at least a half inch between the outer edge and the pie piece, while in the smaller modern blocks the distance between the pie  and the curved piece is just 1/4 inch. When the modern blocks are sewn together, the pies touch each other. At least that’s the theory.

Inspired by the work of Jenny Haynes, I created a flower pillow and a small quilt using the templates I had copied from the back of Angela Pingel’s “A Quilter’s Mixology.”

The 15.5 inch pillow cover is made up of 3.5 inch blocks and is quilted with my sewing machine’s serpentine stitch.

The 20.5 by 24.5 inch quiltlet reverses the light and dark colors from the pillow cover.

The stem is a strip of old curtain material I plucked from the theater costume shop’s garbage can.

I’m still working up a quilting design for “Flower Power” but have managed to start two new projects, so I’ve shoved all the boring (to me) finishing chores to the bottom of the heap. I have a month and a half until the close of 2018, plenty of time for all the facings/bindings/quilting/hanging sleeves needed.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Artistic Endeavors – Luiz Zerbini

Sometimes I see a painting that at first I think is a quilt, like the one below.

Tatu Bola by Luiz Zerbini

Recently I’ve been working with Drunkards Path blocks so that’s what immediately came to my mind. But, Tatu Bola is one of the paintings by Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini that was recently exhibited at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

According to the Stephen Friedman Gallery writeup of his work, “Zerbini uses a rich and luminous palette on a range of different subject matter from landscapes, cityscapes, and domestic scenes to those with a more obscure or even abstract intention. By juxtaposing styles and techniques, organic and geometric patterns, fields of light and shadow, he creates optical effects that beckon for contemplation. He is an artist that constantly multiplies the formal possibilities related to his painting and rejects any potential stagnation of established formula, making it difficult to define any linearity in his production.”

I take that to mean you can’t really pin down his style. But, no matter, here’s some of his work that appealed to me.

I find an intriguing combination of grids and curves in Zerbini’s work, and some of his painterly effects, like the lower right corner of the last work shown above, look like they could be hand dyed fabric.


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The Rest of the Story

About a month ago I featured my adventures in an online class called Abstract-A-Licious, run by Lyric Kinard. The class ended in mid-October, so I want to show you my responses to the last class exercises. We were to take some of our abstractions and develop them further into a design in fabric.

I used my drawings from earlier lessons, though there was no requirement to do so. Lyric encouraged us to “go rogue” if that’s what worked for us.

I began with my Degas dancer abstraction. First, though, I played with my tracing paper drawings just for fun.

 Maybe an idea for a transparency work?

The abstraction I used.

First version, which Lyric said was top heavy.
Second version, flipped and shapes added. From here on, I stopped fusing the shapes and just laid them down.


Third version, color and position of “ball” changed. Both Lyric and I think it still needs work, but I need the perspective of time.

For my final class project I cut a window in a sheet of paper and selected part of a drawing for a paper collage design. I think this design was to be in fabric and more finished than mine is, but I had the colors I wanted in paper only. I hope to make it in fabric, though the translation will be tricky.

Lyric commented, “There is a fantastic flow in this work… lots of organic shapes that lead the eye from one place to another. It’s in a mostly analogous color scheme so the colors aren’t really competing with each other. The point on the yellow really moves your eye up to the orange then swings it back down and around.”

One side benefit I got from the class came from Lyric’s push to articulate why I made my design decisions. Many I thought were intuitive actually were rational. I’ve begun to see that it’s important for an artist to be able to talk another person through her work.

Each online class I’ve taken has had varied student participation and interactions. I think Lyric’s class began with about 15 students. Just two of us completed all the units. I know at least one student was preoccupied with Hurricane Florence, and had very limited internet access. Still, I wonder why so many of the others never posted beyond the introductory unit. Lyric was very supportive in her comments so I hope students didn’t fear criticism. While you can read and benefit from the class materials, you really learn by doing the work.

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