Judy Heyward's Musings on Quilts and Nature

Combining My Love of Quilting and Nature

Thursday, June 15, 2017

An Artist's Date

This is an article that I have written for our Guild July Newsletter and I thought I would also share it with those who read my blog.

            Don’t you sometimes feel as if you’ve hit a stumbling block in the creative side of your quilting journey?  You can’t decide what color would look great in a particular part of a block or the background you’ve chosen for your appliqué just doesn’t do what you have hoped it would?  We’ve all been there—it just doesn’t FEEL right (and if it doesn’t feel right then . . .well, you know).

            One of the things that has helped me over the years is the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  What has really stuck with me is the importance she places on a weekly “art date,” the theory being that when you immerse yourself in some form of art it will refresh your spirit and open yourself to ways in which you can make your own work more enlivened.

            Do I have an “artist’s date” every week?  No—but I try to do that in some way as often as possible.  This past week, three other quilters in our Guild and I spent the day going to each other’s gardens.  The ride to their homes went through pastoral countryside and their gardens were inspiring—both in design and beauty—and humor.  Can you help but smile at this rooster?  The day ended with conversation and a feeling that we had communicated in a way that went beyond words.  And I was  inspired not only to make my own yard a more beautiful place but also I was full of energy to translate the riot of color and texture into a future quilt.  Who knows, there may be a rooster in my quilt future!

Another way to have an “artist’s date” can be a very simple thing.  A week or so ago, I was at Beginnings Quilt Shop for a Quilt Show Wrap Up meeting.  While sitting there, I happened to look up at the wall near me was figuratively knocked in the face with the quilt blocks that were made by Linda Voltz.  The colors she used in those blocks!  It was a real WOW.  My eyes kept going back to them the entire time I was there.  They were so beautiful and that was most definitely an encounter with art.

            So . . .treat yourself to an “artist’s date” whenever you can.  I can guarantee you’ll feel better—and so will your quilts.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

South Carolina Quilts

Today, we trekked down the mountain to Landrum, South Carolina to see the Quilt Show put on by the Landrum Quilt Guild.  Several years ago, I presented my Trunk Show there and they were a great group of women, asking a lot of interesting questions and just generally making me feel welcomed.
One thing I noticed about their show today was that there were far more pieced quilts than appliquéd ones.  I don't know if that means anything--it's just what I noticed.  Also, they don't award ribbons per se.  When you enter, you are given a ballot and are supposed to vote for the one you like best in every category and I guess the winners are announced later.  (I'll have to admit that I didn't read up on that aspect ).  My husband and I sort of felt overwhelmed by the process and chose not to fill out the ballot but we saw some that we really liked.

This was probably my favorite quilt of the entire show.  A very small thread-painted piece and so beautiful.

We were impressed by both the bird and the background quilting in this wallhanging.  It had a really great use of quilting patterns to enhance the feeling of flight.

On the above quilt we liked the intensity of color and we absolutely LOVED this clock.  When I was a potter, I used to make clocks all the time and I have made one in fabric--but nothing like this!  I made me happy just to look at it.  I'm thinking there may be a sun-quilt in my future . . .

So, no, I didn't choose any pieced quilts as my favorites from the show.  There were some very nice ones there but I think that because there were so many --in comparison to the appliqué--it was just more difficult for any to stand out.  Or maybe I just lean towards the appliqué because that's mostly what I do.  I guess it's something to ponder.
All in all, it was a nice show and the quilters who were on duty while I was there were super nice and friendly.  A great combination which resulted in a great experience!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

It's Not The Same

This past week or so was spent with my two cousins--Annie from California and Le from New Mexico.  Before five years ago, I hadn't seen Le since I was 12 years old. (and, believe me, that was a LONG time ago!).  I had seen Annie more recently and have really enjoyed getting to know her as an adult.  We have so many similar interests that I have in common with no one else in my family.  And it was a relief to discover that as sometimes I have felt like a wanderer in a vast wasteland when it comes to familial commonalities.
And then I reconnected with Le--with whom I discovered even more similarities.  She loves to quilt and she loves to garden and is an accomplished and experienced grower of food.  I didn't know that and it was a blessing to learn of it and to share time with her.
This visit was the third time she has come East to stay with us and the second time Annie has come at the same time.  My poor husband--3 women at one time.  There weren't many edges in which he could insert himself.  Whew!  He did get some revenge when we played Liverpool Rummy and he won three times in a row.  How's that for being noticed?  He also enjoyed the variety of cooking that came with my cousins.  Le likes spicy foods--which I can't tolerate--so he had someone to share those with.  And Annie likes to pitch in and help to cook whatever's on the menu and to add her own interpretation.  My kitchen has been busy.
After Annie returned home to Santa Cruz, Le and I headed over to Mary Jo's in Gastonia, NC.

 If you haven't been there before, you can get an idea of the size of the store by this picture which represents about 1/3 of its space.  I've been there many times, but not recently.  I had been told that there was less fabric because of the addition of a sewing machine sales area.  When I got there, I saw it and also a very large classroom area.  I'm sure that both changes are loved by many--especially those who live in the area--and probably make sense from  a business perspective, but I was very disappointed.  In the past, I have really enjoyed the abundance of batik fabrics and that is no longer the case.  I know things change and time moves on, but I won't be too tempted to drive almost two hours to this fabric store anymore.

After we had finished whatever shopping we were going to do at Mary Jo's, we headed around the corner to Lowell, NC to the Bernina store, Sew Much Fun.  I was happy from the moment I walked into the shop.  It was just a wonderful atmosphere and the fabric drew me in immediately.  Lots and lots of batiks and, for me, batiks that I like to use in my appliqué quilts--not too much of the large graphics--just subtle patterns that work well for me.  These are what I bought that day--along with a new batting to try--Quilter's Dream Orient.  It felt really nice.

And look at the beautiful daylily that was in my garden today.  Some of these fabrics are going to be just right.  So . . .while I was very disappointed at Mary Jo's, the trip was a great success once we got to Sew Much Fun.  Now I know where I'll find wonderful batiks in the future.  And--I had a great time with Le.  What more could I want?  Well, I guess we wanted a good lunch before heading home--and found it at Cheddars close by.  No complaints there!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Solid Quilting

We went to the gardening show in downtown Hendersonville this past Saturday and, in addition to beautiful plants, I purchased this wooden quilt block.  I don't call it a barn quilt block for two reasons.  #1 is that it's not going on a barn and #2 is that I'm displaying it indoors on my screen porch and #3 (oops--3 reasons!) is that it is smaller than a traditional barn block.  It is only 24" x 24" and is done in natural woods rather than colored paint.  I really love it.  It emphasizes the natural woods and bark from this region and I think that it will last longer on a screen porch than if I hung it outside on the house.  My best purchase ever at the garden show.  Yay!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Starting A New Project

I make a fair number of wallhangings that are centered around flowers or other things in nature and people always wonder how I take a small photo and turn it into a large wallhanging.  Well, my little piece of magic software is Excel.  And this is, more or less, how I do it:

This is a picture of a mushroom cluster that I took in 2008, thinking that someday I would make it into a quilt.
I then inserted the picture into my Excel program, changed some settings, dragged the image across the screen to the size I wanted and printed it out as separate sheets. (and, no, this is NOT the mushroom--just an example.  After it is printed out, I trim the appropriate edges and glue the entire piece together--ending up with quite a much larger image.  You can make it as large as you want really.  I guess it would depend on the resolution of the original photo.
This is my glued-together mushroom.  If you look closely, you can see some of the edges of paper.  You can also see where I drew in dark lines to use for my appliqué pattern.  
The next step is to trace the entire pattern/picture (meaning, in this case, the mushrooms) onto thin tracing paper.  I number each object within the drawing, label that side as TOP, turn it over and then trace the separate objects onto Wonder-Under.  Tedious?  You Betcha  . . .but ultimately worth the effort.
After I fuse the Wonder-Under patterns onto fabric, I cut them out.  Then I turn the tracing paper pattern to the TOP side, place it under a teflon ironing sheet and fuse together sections of the quilt appliqué, using the pattern underneath as a guide.
You know, I'm getting kind to tired just thinking about doing all of this.  But, for some reason, I REALLY enjoy doing it.  And here are the results so far.  Of course, it's far from finished--but it's also far from just beginning.  There are still things to add and other things to figure out--but a challenge can be a good thing, right?  This piece will be about 34" x 38" when I finish--unless I add some sort of border treatment--which is a fair amount larger than a 4" x 6" photo!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Nice Thing

The Western North Carolina Quilt Guild had its Quilt Show last weekend and it was a very nice show.  Lots of really nice quilts and equally nice quilters.  It was my first time to participate as a member and to see how all of the pieces fit together.  And fit, they did.  Our Show co-chairwomen were experienced and the venue, Bon Clarken, was great.  And there is no BUT.
BUT, something very nice happened to me AFTER the show.  This is one of the quilts that I entered into the show.  (It actually won a Merit award for "Best Message." ) This quilt means a lot to me because our world and our responsibility to preserve it mean a lot to me--and I hope to you.  A lovely man saw this quilt and wanted to own it because he, too, is very concerned that our time is running out.  He really GOT what I was trying to say.  He came to my home with some friends and visited, sharing his perceptions and commitment to doing what he can for our future.  And he left with this quilt.   And I was happy.  What better home could it find?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Trip Top Cabarrus Quilters Guild

This week I had the pleasure of traveling to the Cabarrus Quilters Guild in Concord, NC to present a trunk show and to teach a class on fusible appliqué .  And what a great time I had.  The members of this Guild are so welcoming.  They meet in the parish hall of a local church, using the "seated around a table" format with encourages conversation, I think.  By the time the meeting began, all the tables were full and the members were in full visiting and sharing mode.  It was wonderful.   Another thing that was wonderful--from my perspective--was that they asked me lots of questions about my quilts and genuinely wanted to know what methods I used, how I choose my threads and fabrics and other insightful questions.  I always love it when that happens.  And, by the way, they had dessert!
The next day, at another church with a great classroom space, I taught the class on fusible appliqué.
 You can see here some of the students hard at work--and work, they really did!  The two ladies in this first photo are Ono and Charlotte who are the Program Chairs and they were great.  So kind and thoughtful, making sure that I had everything that I could possibly need.  Thank you, Ono and Charlotte!
So, I arrived home, tired but with. great memories--and look what I saw upon my arrival . . .The first peony bloom of the season.  How beautiful.