Monday, March 28, 2011

Palouse Patchers

I have just returned from a marvelous teaching trip in Moscow, Idaho for the Palouse Patchers Spring Fling. The Palouse is a stunningly dramatic area of the country of giant velvety hills and valleys. Trees on the Palouse are few and far between and the sky puts on a show all day long. 

The Patchers really made me feel special. At the opening event every place was set with a swatch of Garden Diva fabric and a lovingly crafted fabric flower brooch. The centerpiece on each table was a tiered plate filled with colorful cupcakes.

The next two days we had class in Moscow's handsome community center. The girls in class were good sports and cut into their Sassaman fabrics, even though they didn't know exactly what would happen. Here are the awesome results of Friday's Kaleidoscope class.

I am delighted that they are all so different. Each one has a distinct personality. We didn't have time enough to work on borders, but you can still see the beginnings of some exciting quilts.
Some students used 45 degree triangle templates, some used 60 degree ones and others did their own "thing". I never get tired of the surprising relationships between the different fabrics, especially when they seem to blend in and out of one another.

It is also interesting what depth the black fabrics create. In many of these pieces there is an underlying  organizational principle like "mirror image", "light to dark" or "alternating". Keep scrolling down to see the rest. You may be inspired to try a "kaleidoscope" of your own!

Thanks, Palouse Patchers for your enthusiasm and your hospitality! I look forward to seeing your completed quilts one day soon... hint, hint!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Kaleidoscope Experiment Continues

Well, I guess it is inevitable but the spring changes are beginning to appear. This is the same enthusiastic crowd of little snowdrops that herald the new season every year. We even have some tulips and daffodils stretching their pointy little fingers toward the sun.

I continued to do a little more play with the kaleidoscope pattern and the Garden Divas fabrics. You can refer to the previous blog for the basics, if you missed them. This tine I used the Spring Wreath fabric for the central star and the border. The Wreath fabric is so busy that the emptiness of the Willow Wands fabric give the quilt top  some needed breathing space.

Here I have digitally added black borders which give the composition some muscle and punch. This would be my preference. The black outline defines and focuses the wild prints.

Again we have the exact same diamond and border fabrics, but we have switched out the corner squares
and triangles (surrounding the star) for the Iris and Bleeding Heart fabric. This substitution added some extra movement by suggesting circles of bleeding hearts. Pretty interesting.

So now we have added the black borders again. It is amazing what those borders do! Again it tames the business and focuses the best parts of the composition. This has been an entertaining experiment, but so far I have just used fabrics with black backgrounds, which always makes thing rich. Next I am going to try some pastels and see what happens!

Friday, March 11, 2011

One Pattern, Two Looks

This time of year seems to inspire everyone to regroup and get organized and this was my direction this week, too. Greg varnished and installed the new studio shelves and I filled them with fabric. My helper, Susan, cut bolts of fabric for kits and bundles to take to class. I reorganized the studio space in to new task areas, including a zone for shipping and packing.

But during the whole time, the Garden Divas were competing for my attention. This was not the time to begin a large quilting project! But, hey, a "little" one would be OK, right? So I got out my favorite template, the Fast 2 Cut Fussy Cutter Diamond Ruler designed by Jan Krentz! This is the perfect ruler for symmetrical prints and that's why I have used it for almost every collection. The results are always fabulous.

In the first quilt top the construction is obvious. You can see the diamond, the 9" square, the half square triangle and border. The design is very clear despite the patterned fabric. The colors and simplicity remind my of Delftware ceramics.

The second top is exactly the same, except the squares and triangle have been substituted in another fabric. The effect is very different. Now we have a kaleidoscope that blends and flows through colors and textures. The pattern pieces totally disappear. The composition looks more sophisticated even though the piecing is exactly the same.

This is an exercise worth continuing. I think I will try it in some different colorways and see what happens.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

All Tied Up

This week I heard the first Sandhill Crane, a sign that spring is truly in the wings. I also shipped my new fabric designs to Westminster and found the perfect shelves to store fabric in the new studio. The giant work wall is installed and covered with white paper. A little progress occurs every day.

But after so many months of designing exclusively with paper, pencil and computers I am feeling a desperate need to fondle some fabric and sit at the sewing machine. It is always best to warm up with a smaller project, so this week I am showing off these fabulous new bow ties made with Sassaman fabrics past and present.

Oh, that feels better! These are "mood altering" accessories! You can't be crabby when you wear one of these happy ties. Now I can pull out my Illinois Album quilt, the one with the salamanders, and begin quilting the borders. This week I will also be visiting the Heritage Quilter's Guild in Lockport, Illinois. It is always a treat to have work so close to home!