Mixing Work with Pleasure

by Christine Barnes

A mixologist is someone who mixes drinks, right? But aren’t we all mixologists when it comes to our quilting/sewing/artistic lives? We must balance work with creative pleasures, or we’d lose our minds, to put it mildly. One of the many benefits of teaching is that I can often schedule some fun before or after a gig, especially if I have a buddy.

That’s what happened a few weeks ago when I set off for Mendocino with my friend Kari to teach Transparency for the Ocean Waves quilt guild in Ft. Bragg. (Ft. Bragg and Mendocino are on the north coast of California.) The class happened at Sew ‘n Sew, a wonderful quilt shop. Needless to say, I came home with some fabric treasures.

Here’s our class hard at work. I LOVE the mineral-green color of the walls at Sew ‘n Sew.img_1697

The nine-patch structure is perfect for a transparency using a light “parent,” a dark “parent,” and the logical “child” of the two.img_1560

The color wheel comes in handy when doing transparencies: yellow + blue = green.img_1561

This block gets “extra credit” for sure! See how the design lines appear to flow from the light parent through the child? Lucking out and having just-right fabrics makes all the difference.img_1564

Although the “child” fabric is an aboriginal pattern, this block works well, especially from a distance. The light splotches in the light parent repeat in the child, helping to fool the eye.img_1593

The objective in this star block was to make it appear as if light and dark triangles overlap, creating a smaller, transparent triangle. It’s really effective in the upper star unit.img_1612

The next day Kari and I bummed around Mendocino, visiting my favorite shops. This crocheted and beaded necklace was in the window of The Great Put On, Art to Wear, a delightful shop. I didn’t buy it but did get a fabulous Boho Chic shawl.img_1708

Heading out of Mendocino, we stopped for a quick photo. The light, the sky, the water were spectacular early that morning. I never get tired of the coast.img_1711

A stop for lunch at the Culinary Institute of America just north of Saint Helena was a real treat. The beautiful stone buildings were once the Christian Brothers winery.img_1650

While sitting in the cafe, we could watch a class in session behind glass. Don’t you just love the chefs’ hats?? No such thing as too many cooks spoiling the broth here!img_1660

The next week I was in Stockton teaching Modern Color for the Tuleburg Quilt Guild. What a great group—a big “thank you” to my intrepid students!

The Granny Square block has become my new favorite design for working with color combinations because all the squares are the same size. You just cut the fabrics and start playing with the placement of value and pattern. Take a look at a few mock-blocks:

Linda keyed off the center fabric to make a near-complement of red-violet and green. Extra credit for the organic “stripe.”img_1673

Sandy achieved what I call accidental transparency with red and red-violet. So vibrant.img_1676

Kevin’s split complement of blue-green, red, and orange is hot, hot, hot! And what a perfect fabric for the center.img_1686

I don’t recall who made this block, but it’s another great example of transparency, as if a large, on-point square of bright green is on top of a blue “X.”.img_1688

Sorry I can’t remember who did this charming block, but it’s been more than three weeks, and students sometimes forget to put their names on their exercises. (Teacher also forgets to remind them :-). I love the freshness of this complementary blue-green and red-orange combination, with an intense yellow-green check/plaid. I hope you like the “eyeball” fabric in the center as much as I do.img_1691

Last but not least is another complement of blue-green and red-orange (here a color I call salmon). Extra credit for the stripes and the way the squares are oriented. Look how well they echo the center fabric.stockton-1-gs

Once again, my students displayed a creativity I could not have imagined. What’s next? I’ll be in Las Vegas teaching soon, but once I get home I plan to work on a quilt made up of transparent Granny Squares. Sometimes, work becomes pleasure!

And finally, Heidi and I are both in the Fall issue of Modern Patchwork. (She’ll tell you all about her fabulous project.) Here’s the first page of my article: module-quilt-mp-scan-2

Thanks so much for reading and looking about my latest travels. Until next time . . . .



On the Road with Color . . . and More

by Christine Barnes

. . . That would be the road to Indiana! Last month I spent four delightful days teaching for the Quilter’s Guild of Indianapolis and Appleseed Quilters in Fort Wayne. A big thank you to the ladies who made it all happen so smoothly. I made lots of new quilting friends, and I really enjoyed seeing Indianapolis and the farming country on the way to Fort Wayne, about 90 miles north. Here’s a sampling from our first workshop, “Modern Color”:

“King’s Crown” was our warm-up exercise. (Forgive the blue tape—we used a concrete-like wall for critique, so no pins.) It’s so much fun to see different colors/fabrics for each of the large triangles. And wow, low-volume background fabrics make it so modern. Of course, the block with stripes got extra credit.All Kings blocks copyThe next exercise is one of my favorite star blocks, “Party Hats.” Notice how the dark-value center in the first block blends a bit with the patterned star points on the right and left, making a parallelogram (squint to see it more). As usual, “Value does all of the the work . . . .” Love the aboriginal prints and semi-solids.Indy star 2In the example below the black-and-white fabric anchors the block, and the star points are beautifully balanced. I wish I had a bolt of the swirly fabric these ladies used in the background—it’s fabulous.Indy star 4As they say in the informercials, “But wait, there’s more!” In the “X and Plus” block below, the “plus” is strong because the solids and the black are strong, but to my eye, the ‘X” is even stronger because the pieces are larger and the colors more intense. I really like that the solids don’t have to match the print.Indy 5 smallerBelow, the “plus” comes forward and is dominant because the colors and prints are hot and intense, while the “X” is lighter and cooler. How can two blocks look so different? Fabric magic.Indy 7 smallerOn the second day, we made my “Luminaria” pattern. I’ve taught this class many times, but I never get tired of seeing what you do. Look how luminous the warm, intense centers are when surrounded by the cooler, darker, duller colors. This quilt will be stunning.Indy lumiosityAnd now, a sincere apology to the Appleseed Quilters: We had so much fun making “Elegant Circles” that I forgot to take pictures. So sorry! I’ll just have to come back, OK? Send me photos of your completed quilts, and I’ll show them in a future post.

Shifting gears, I have a few notes for students in my “Transparency” workshop at Zephyr:

Here are fabrics from another line that works well for parent/child or layered transparency, “Grunge” by Moda. I got these recently from the Fat Quarter Shop (http://www.fatquartershop.com)  and Fabric Depot (http://www.fabricdepot.com/). As I’ve said in my recent emails to you, I’ll have modest amounts of these and other fabrics for you to use in the mock-block exercises. If you want to use them in your project quilt, you should plan to acquire some of your own. From either shop, the smallest amount sold is 1/2 yard—frustrating, but that’s the case with many online stores.grunge groupingAnd here’s a block I made from three values of blue-green Grunge. The ethereal quality of these fabrics makes them ideal for transparencies.Teal circle blockI’ll bring some new toys for you to play with, two circle cutters by Martha Stewart, available at JoAnn. These are GREAT for cutting freezer-paper circles for either “Transparent Circles” (see the Gallery on my website) or “Serene Circles” (above). BTW, Serene Circles is for precision piecers—those seams must match up to “fool the eye.” I’ll be there to help.Martha circle cuttersAgain, many thanks to the ladies of Indiana—my time with you was one of my favorite gigs, and now I know, firsthand, about Hoosier Hospitality and Sweet Tea. (It’s very sweet.)

Stay cool. Keep quilting.