Balancing Summer with Quilting.

This is Jane. Summer is here and I have been thinking about how to combine my quilting business with taking time off. Whilst running a quilting business from home it is too easy to spend all your time working and not taking a break. My sewing space is located at the front of the house, so its very easy to slip in and get sewing! My high school aged son is still home so I want to do fun things with him this summer. We are currently planning a couple of road-trips so really when I’m not traveling I can work. It’s about finding the right balance.

Camping at Long Lake June 12th 2021 Photo by James Haworth

Since Covid I have received many custom orders from customers around the USA. They send me t-shirts or neckties to make into quilts. Although I am trying to cut down on this type of work it still flows in. Ideally I would love to have more time to spend developing new ideas for quilts, playing with fabric and making new work to enter into exhibitions or quilt shows. Writing this I am sure that is what many of us crave.

Playtime with my Gelli-plate and leaves

Part of my workshop at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat this year is a day of mark-making. I plan on spending time this summer exploring the various mediums and techniques I will teach at Zephyr. I think it’s all about having the materials at hand and inspiration to kick start your creativity. One of the materials I will provide will be gelli-plates so we can explore how they can be used. In the photo above I gathered leaves to print in layers.

This small quilt is the 12″ x 12″ donation piece I submitted to the SAQA Benefit Auction that happens in September every year. This piece I called ‘Keep Calm and Sloth On’ I have been meaning to make a large sloth quilt but “have no time!” and so at least I started with this small piece. It does include a lot of messy stitching, hand stitching and unusual materials. I used leaves I had leftover from a 2011 reptile quilt, some silk necktie off-cuts and threadwork I made using ‘solvy’, a dissolvable interfacing.

Inspiration photo for a new quilt

Often I will look at Pixabay.com for copyright free images for subjects that I aren’t able to take myself. Otherwise I will look over my own photo library for ideas. This picture I took at my neighbors house while letting out her dog. I love the contrast in colors and textures. This would be a great image for a fabric collage.

KitKat keeping during our hot spell.

In the same way this photo would be good for a fabric collage. I would probably crop it a bit. Again there are nice contrasting textures and lines and then the focal point KitKat, my cat. If you wish to start your own fabric collage of any subject or my favorite topic; pets and animals, think about signing up for my workshop at Zephyr Point. It will be my last year teaching here but I am looking forward to attending at a later date when I can work on a project like this.

I do love making quilts for customers using their saved clothes or ties. It is meaningful for them to preserve those memories especially of loved ones that are no longer around. For the first photo I made three of these lap quilts for three sons from their dads old polo, flannel and button-up shirts. I still have a pile of fabric left that I intend on making a surprise quilt for the lady (mom) who sent them to me. The middle quilt is a king-size necktie quilt that I am still working on and the last a t-shirt quilt made from a husbands collection of old rock music shirts.

Long Lake near Royal Gorge, CA

We recently spent a lovely weekend camping, hiking and backpacking with family and friends. It was a time to enjoy nature, friendship and life returning to normal. This spot is just an hours drive up I80 from our home into the Sierra Nevada mountains near Donner Summit. The hike is just over 1/2 a mile so we were able to take in extra supplies that normally when backpacking you couldn’t take! From our camping area we had amazing views of Devils Peak and could relax by this cold body of water.

I have spent this last year teaching online classes for the Mancuso’s at their various online quilt shows. This was the last workshop I taught called Big-Eyed Chameleon Fabric Collage. These photos include the inspiration photo, my sample and student work by Gayle. I love what she did and I think hers is better than mine. Hopefully that’s a sign of a good teacher! I have just a couple of online classes on my calendar and I believe as the Mancuso shows happen in-person they will still continue to host a portion of the show online, as requested.

My set up for the Road to California online event in May.

Although I do enjoy teaching online and students are able to get a great view, use their whole stash and favorite sewing machine etc it will be great to meet in person again. On Saturday I am teaching to a local guild which will be my first time in about 16 months. I hope i’m not too rusty!

My first in-person gathering was at the Carson Valley Quilt Guild in May. I got to speak at their guild meeting and share my quilts. I was very happy to see so many members brought in their animal quilts that they made after signing up for my on-demand class. In 2020 my workshop Love of Pets was cancelled so the guild signed up as a group and took the class online. The link is here Love of Pets

Demonstrating mono-printing using Botanicals.

It was a nice break this week to gather with the Mountain Art Quilters for an outside meeting in a members beautiful backyard. This was our first in-person meeting and was a chance to breath, relax and enjoy time with other creatives. This reminds me of that feeling I get when at Lake Tahoe at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat. I love the quiet of the lake early in the morning, the buzz in the dining hall when you chose new friends to meet and sit with. Heidi says they have a new chef so thats something to look forward to! Seeing what people are working on and how creative they can be is always inspirational.

Thanks for following along with my post this month and if you are interested in the retreat there is still time, so reach out to Heidi, Sandra or myself with any questions.

Five New projects.

This is Jane

I am coming to you from an unseasonably hot Spring in California. How I know this? Its because daily I check on our current temperatures as I have started making a Temperature Quilt. If you have never heard about these do a google search and you will find many examples. It was something started by members of the Modern Quilt Guild and they will be having an exhibition of Temperature Quilts at the next Quiltcon in February 2022.

Chosen fabrics sorted for my temperature quilt.

Project 1. Temperature Quilt

I started by figuring out the range of temperatures at my home over the year. Using one fabric per 3 degrees seemed right, so from my stash, I chose about 20 fabrics to use. I also decided to use the Drunkards Path block and made them 4”. Now each day either taking data from our weather station or Weather Underground online I choose the correct fabric for the high and low temps of that day. Getting the right data has been my biggest issue but now I have settled into it. I just have to remember to make one block each day.

I did decide to add data for rain days or nights by using grey through black fabrics. So far we have just had one rain day since I started on April 1st. This will fun to see the progression of this quilt and how many days of rain!

SJSA Quilt of Rememberance

Project 2. Social Justice Sewing Academy Quilt

As a volunteer for the SJSA I was asked to make a Quilt Of Remembrance for a family in Minnesota. The person being memorialized was Matthew Tuhkanen, a dad of five kids who lost has life by law enforcement. I was given some photos to print onto fabric and details of his kids names, favorite colors and activities he liked.

As I had no clothing to work with I started by printing the photos and photos referencing his hobbies. His favorite colors were blue and grey and I pulled orange from the basketball reference. I gathered my fabrics and began making smaller blocks and rows using Maria Shell’s book Improv Patchwork. You will see in the photos my progression as the quilt came together on my “design floor”. I think the quilt was colorful and will be a wonderful memorial for the family. Here is their email.

Making memory quilts is special to me, I think that is why I make so many Quilts from Clothes.

Purple version of Tilly by Jane Haworth

Project 3. Pet Portraits

Finding time to work on my pet portrait collage quilts is hard when I am working on making custom quilts and teaching online. Recently I got a customer order form a man who had watched me on Quilting Arts TV and wanted to buy the purple and yellow Tilly Quilt. This quilt was used on the cover of the Quilting Arts magazine so I couldn’t sell it! I am now in the process of making another one. It’s fun to make it again and since I don’t have all the same fabrics it will be slightly different.

 Anyone wanting to sign up for my Mark-making and Fabric Collage workshop at the Zephyr retreat in September is welcome to bring a photo of their pet or favorite animal and work on that. We start by making the pattern, choosing fabrics and then working on the collage. It really is an addictive and freeing technique. I have plenty of space available in the workshop and I’m looking forward to getting away to Lake Tahoe in September.

Gathering pieces for my Vignettes Quilt

Project 4. Vignettes Quilt

I am a member of the MQG Modern Quilt Guild and have never yet attended a show but this year as it was online I did sign up for a workshop. I really enjoy improv piecing so the class I found was taught by Heidi Parkes and was called a Vignettes Quilt. Th idea was to make a quilt focusing on using the Elements of Art, the Postmodern Principles of Art and Art Vocabulary. This meant we had to include line, shape, color, texture, value, space, form, economy, appropriation, text, representation, gazing, obsessive, juxtaposition and more. 

It was perfect for me as I was able to use many of those saved textiles, quilt blocks, clothes and fabrics that I already have. Heidi Parkes hand-quilts all her quilts and I am proud to say I stitched half and hand stitched half.

Pieces of my Life Vignettes Quilt

I love this quilt and am already planning a couple more.

A few examples of my hand painted wildflower cards.

Project 5. Watercolour Painting

Finally my last project to share is watercolor painting. I tried to do the 100 day project by doing a small painting a day but only lasted about 5 days! I have all my supplies out and have been drawn to paint some of the wildflowers in my yard this Spring. We have lovely lupines, blue dicks, fairy lanterns and more. I did challenge myself to paint some of these using my non-dominant hand which takes away some of the fear. This would be my excuse if it didn’t look so good! Actually I was quite pleased with them. I am now working on making these with fabric or including them in my quilting.

Work-in-progress Wildflower table runner!

I hope I have inspired you to try a new project or have a go at a non-dominate hand painting. And don’t forget to sign up for the retreat if you haven’t done so already. Having had my vaccine I am excited to get away and share my time with other creative friends.

Online Teaching and our In-person Retreat

This is Jane. For my blog post this month I am reflecting on what I like about teaching my collage classes. I’ve been thinking about how I have survived 2020 by teaching online and enjoyed the experience. But now, although I am still teaching via Zoom, I’m excited and looking forward to our Artistic Alchemy retreat in September .

Ready to teach Hens and Roosters via Zoom

 It seems a long time since I have gathered with quilters or traveled to visit a quilt guild. I have kept busy presenting and teaching classes to quilt guilds and taught at many online quilt shows. I think this platform is great for sharing information with students, demos are successful because students have the best front row seat and working from home they will not run short of supplies. Also I can set up the day before and be ready at my laptop 30 mins before class starts.

This may look like a crazy amount of fabric but its enough for this fabric collage of Ruby the Cow

I do miss cruising the classroom and chatting with my students, monitoring how their work is progressing and offering tips along the way. When I teach online its harder to see the progress they are making and with collage its tricky to pick the piece up to show on camera. But recently I have received photos via email of finished students work. It makes me feel happy that they have enjoyed the process and then spent their time working and completing the project.

When I am teaching I like to say to my students “Value = Contrast = Dimension”  These words are especially important when making collage and other art practices. I encourage students to” look” at their photo. If you spend 5 minutes really looking at what is going on in a photo your brain will see things that you do not expect. Sometimes when we work we make things as we think they are. By showing what is really going will result in a better and more successful design!

Looking at contrast in a photo

In the photo above I see contrast between the color families of the two types of succulent. I see contrast when looking into the shadows between the leaves of the succulents and I see contrast between what is in focus in the foreground against the blurriness of the background.

Ruby 24″ x 34″

To achieve this I encourage students to exaggerate what they see for a successful piece of work. Where you see the shadows or the areas that are layered this would be where you need to add your dark or black fabrics. For those light reflections or highlights, use your lightest fabrics even going to white or off white. The rest of the time we can use the medium value or our fun fabrics.

Enough of this lesson!

At the 2021 Artistic Alchemy retreat in Lake Tahoe, September 6-10th, I will be teaching collage quilting starting from a photo or you can use one of my patterns.

Little succulent designs in blue and white pots

We will spend time learning to make a pattern, choosing the right fabrics to use and then jumping into my technique for making fabric collage. If you are unfamiliar I don’t use pattern pieces or use fusible on the backs of the fabric but trace the shape onto the fabric and cut it out. It is a little more freeform with fewer rules. Resulting in a finished piece that is fun and unique. I don’t want students to stress over this process as its just “small bits of fabric!”

As well as the fabric collage in my workshop we will be spending the first day playing with surface design and mark making. I love to do this when the opportunity arises. What is better than using your own handmade textiles in your collage. 

Lino Cutting and printmaking

I like to use textural print fabrics in my collage and if I’ve made them myself that is even better. I use paints, fabric or acrylic paints and a number of simple tools to create unique patterns and textures. For my workshop there will be a small fee for materials. I will provide paints, a gel plate, fabrics and other materials. You will have the opportunity to paint on fabric, make your own stamps, lino-cuts, cyanotype prints and monoprints. 

Spring is on its way in my garden.

Now looking at this photo, and I am really looking, I’m thinking about mark-making and collage. I could paint some fabric to make those beautiful violet and lavender petals. Also the texture of the sepal leaves could be created using mono-prints and then there is the blurred background to consider!

So if you are considering attending our retreat this September the registration is already open. Go to the Workshop page on the blog and you will find out more info about the pricing etc if you click on the registration button. Remember priority for lake-front rooms is given to those who sign up first.

My latest recommendation

After my post back in November when I reviewed many of the books that I had read over 2020 this is one of my newest reads. I’m over half way through and am really enjoying the narrative and the rich descriptions in this book. I believe there are plans for a movie in the works.

Let’s hope as Spring arrives we are all more optimistic. We can savor the days when we will be able to socialize and have fun together at the retreat. Keep creative as Heidi, Sandra and myself continue to do.

Kicking Off 2021 with Creativity

This is Jane. Happy New Year. 2021 is finally here, yeah!

Hoping everyone is well and staying healthy. Going forward we will need patience as we keep wearing our masks while waiting for the vaccine program to roll out and hopefully politics will take a backseat in our lives.

The start of a New Year

Leading into 2021 we have been in contact with Zephyr Point Conference Center and are planning our retreat, September 6-10th 2021. Finally here’s an event we can anticipate and get excited about after so much time sheltering at home. We should be able to gather, maybe still wearing our masks but share this beautiful and creative environment. As usual our retreat information and reservation forms will come out at the beginning of February. So be looking for that. We are all excited to make our announcement for the September retreat.

Playtime using my new Gelli plate

Christmas time rolls around and my family asks me “What would you like for Christmas?” I really don’t need anything but usually I will buy items that can be gifted to me! This year these included a knitted beanie, quilting books, and some art supplies. I was caught by surprise as my son James bought me a Gelli plate and two brayers for printing. The Gelli plate by Gel Press is the biggest one I have seen! Its 12″ x 14″

Getting to play with my new Gel Plate

After watching a few Youtube videos, I went outside gathered some leaves and weeds from my garden, organized my supplies and started printing. I used acrylic and fabric paints I already had. Tip: I did buy expensive Golden fluid acrylics but found they worked no differently than less expensive craft paints. I tore up some white muslin into 13″ x 15″ pieces, which I sprayed with Terial Magic to stiffen them. I also gathered some sketchbook paper and covered my table with newsprint in preparation.

With my daughter Lucy to help and all the supplies around, we ended up making about 10 panels of fabric and about the same on paper. Many of the prints have three layers using three different colors and a variety of leaf shapes. Some layers were made using the the paint off the plate and others came off the ghost print that was under the leaves after the initial print.

The question I ask myself and I am sure my family does too, is what will I do with them? They are all unique, some more successful than others but beautiful and unexpected art. I have a few favorites and some of these are on paper. I plan to copy these using my inkjet printer onto fabric sheets.

My workshop for the 2021 retreat will again be a combo class of mark-making and collage. So if you wish to play with fabrics, papers, printing supplies and paint then this could be the workshop for you. As I think about using these panels I could cut and piece them together for a great background for my collage.

Starting some fabric collage using succulent imagery

The two books I “bought myself” for Christmas were The Painted Quilt by Laura and Linda Kemshall and Botanicals by Uppercase. I have also been watching videos on DesignmattersTV which is fun and relaxing, inspiring all things surface design and quilting.

Using my new iPhone to take a picture as I work

This year some of my goals include finishing some of the collage quilts I have made but not quilted or finished. Above I am working on finishing one such quilt which I need for an online class next week. I am teaching my class Little Frank Fabric Collage for Craft Napa Uncorked. Other goals include using my stash of fabric, drawing and painting in my sketchbook, being more experimental in my work and writing another online, on-demand workshop on Coursecraft. Check out more of my work and patterns etc I have for sale on my website

Another new product I have been using is called Applipops These are a variety of different sized metal rings, that you use in pairs, to make simple pressed circles of fabric. I have been using them in the hand stitched Japanese Rice Pouches I’ve been stitching. The pattern I use for the above bag is from KZStevens and is very simple to make. I’m on my sixth one! My current hand stitch, meditative stitching project is this floral panel that I stitch in the evening whilst watching Hinterland on Netflix. This panel will be number seven Rice Pouch!

Work in Progress hand stitched, embroidery panel

So now you know what I have been up to in 2021 and I hope you too have been inspired and creative. So lets get through these crazy times by staying busy and staying home. As Heid says try to get in 15 minutes a day of creativity.

Until next time, Jane