Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost Done!

I've been quilting every free block of time I can find, and am very very close to finishing! I quilted all the elements with just the top and batting, then cut away any unquilted areas, put a new layer of batting and a backing on, and have been busy filling in the background. The two layers do make each element stand out nicely, but boy is it heavy! Plus I am not at all sure it will lie flat. As soon as the quilting is done, I can trim it to square everything up, stitch on a binding, and add a few embellishments. Don't know that the quilting made a huge difference--can you tell? It would probably help to have a better photo. Maybe I am just too close to this piece right now!

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Too Busy to Blog

Ever find that happens to you? Get too busy to blog? Thought I'd do a quick note before the day gets away from me. YES! The quilt I have been working on is finally getting quilted! I spent a day working on the flowers outside the window, another on the tiffany lamp, and yesterday, got up my courage and quilted the faces. I am wondering if I quilt all the elements, should I trim the batting away from the background and re-layer a backing/batting before quilting the background? I am currently working on the top with batting behind but no backing. I was just wondering if it would provide some dimension to the elements and push the background further or if it would just be a lot of work for not much effect. Any thoughts on that? I'll post a photo soon!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thank You Gifts

Today's mail brought an unexpected and most delightful surprise--a thank you gift from Henry Dallal, whose photo inspired the Marwari horse quilt! Inside was a copy of his book, Horse Warriors, with my favorite photo on page 57, and a lovely inscription. As an added bonus, a DVD of his first book, Pageantry and Performance was also in the box! I was so touched and pleased. And I know it was the right choice to send the quilt to Henry for his London flat. To see some of Henry's work click on this link. 

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tackling the Background

Work on the quilt had ground to a halt as I needed to find fabric to make the floor of the room, and allow the ladies to settle, rather than float around in space. Finally got out to the fabric store today and came up with a mottled gray. That set in motion today's bits--mostly I worked on the glass door on the right side of the quilt. Really love the floral outdoor fabric! I had debated whether to add a rug, but this dark purple really warms up the room, and if I run it at the right angle, should help with the perspective. I didn't cut it yet, so it's kind of smooshed on there, but hopefully you can get the idea. Tomorrow we're working on a new group quilt, so it will be a few days before I can get back to this. I'll have to take all the elements off and piece the background, then layer everything back on. And then? Time to set up the sewing machine! It has been waiting in its case for two months! I am really looking forward to some thread play.

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Friday, September 3, 2010


Finally gave the ladies chairs to sit in! they had spent weeks 'squatting' as their legs were done but the chairs were not. Aaah. Now they can relax and look forward to a card game and a glass of wine. Almost done with the various elements! Time to give some serious thought to the background--wall, floor and sliding glass door. Here's where we are now:
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Home at Last

After nearly a year of false starts and missed connections, Postcard from Rajasthan has finally been delivered to the man whose photography inspired the quilt, Henry Dallal. I wrote this to accompany the wallhanging:

Captivated by the craggy-faced man and beautiful Mawari horse, I was inspired by Henry Dallal's photo to create this 45 x 60 inch wall hanging. I worked on this piece for about a year. The photo was enlarged to create a pattern, from which various commercial fabrics were cut and assembled on a muslin base. Intensive thread painting defined features and provided dimensionality.
In a nod to traditional quilting, I pieced the sky from half-square triangles in a close range of blues. The beaded fringe was created over many July evenings, while watching the Red Sox on TV with my father-in-law. The ornate frame, quilted in hexagons with gold thread, harkens back to Persian hand crafted woodwork known as Khatam-Kari.
Completed in 2007, the quilt was exhibited at several venues including: Maine Quilts: Augusta, Maine (Judges' Choice)
Northeast Quilts Unlimited, Arts Center Old Forge, New York
Road to California: Ontario, California (Honorable Mention)
Art Quilts Maine Exhibit, Saco Museum: Saco, Maine
World Quilt Show-New England: Manchester, New Hampshire

While I derived a great deal of pleasure creating and exhibiting this piece, I always knew it would ultimately be a present to my dear friend and inspiration, Henry.

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Friday, August 13, 2010


I had a very exciting phone call last night. A member of my guild, Art Quilts Maine, called to say one of the quilts I had in our summer exhibit at the Central Maine Artist Gallery in Skowhegan had sold! I had three pieces in the month-long exhibit: Wish, Tiger Two and Rags to Riches. Wish sold, and the gallery owner has asked to keep a few pieces, including Tiger Two for a few more months. I am so thrilled! I am posting a photo of Wish. You can see the others in my Album. Wish, which is 12" square, features a painted face (a photo of my youngest daughter served as the model) thread-painted hair and dandelions, and fairies embellished with beads and sparkly thread. I totally loved the way the background quilting came out on this piece.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Elements Added

Worked on a few new elements for the picture-quilt. I hadn't planned to include the overhead lamp, but decided it would be good to have that light source, so I gave them a Tiffany lamp. I liked that it brought some color to the composition as well. There is a scrap of tulle over part of it--one possibility to avoid stitching down every small piece. Bit of a side road--12 to 15 hours in and threadpainting awaits. Worked on arms as well, so they look a little less like Weebles, and strung some beads for a necklace. I've been wondering if I can find a miniature deck of cards or if I will be making fabric cards for them to hold. Any opinions?

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Work

Here are the first photos of my latest work in progress. Another photograph-based quilt--this photo taken by my friend Andy Waterhouse when we were in DC. When I saw his photo I knew I wanted to interpret it in fabric--it would be a challenge to get the light and the wine glasses to work out. First though, the faces. If they didn't work, may as well abandon the idea. So that's what I have been playing with--tracing, sketching, familiarizing myself with the subjects, then cutting and layering fabric shapes in various shades. I am pretty pleased with the result so far. Still so many ways this could get derailed, but a good enough start to post some photos. Enjoy!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Baby Brights

Has it been over a month since my last post? Guess that's what happens when the weather improves here in Maine--can't spend those sunny weekends indoors! Garden is growing, home projects started. Haven't made much progress on my new quilt--it is ready for me to pull fabrics, but I have procrastinated, waiting for a day with a block of undisturbed time to work. In the meanwhile, we presented the Wedding Tree to our co-worker and put together a baby quilt. Everyone made blocks using lots of bright scraps--either flowers or pieced squares, then we got together to sew blocks into a top and add borders. I brought it home and quilted it (see pictures.) Now it goes back to someone else to bind, another person is working on a label, and with luck we can present it before the baby arrives!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Something New?

Puttered around in my 'studio/dining room' all day Saturday. Organized fabric. Thought about new quilts. When I realized I was planning new projects to avoid starting on the next pictorial quilt I decided, "that's it." Either start this quilt or give up on the idea already! So I spent much of today putting everything I have reviewed about drawing faces for quilts to work and started creating patterns. The way I see if, if I can't execute the faces, there's not much point in working on the rest. I pulled fabrics. Next block of time will be devoted to cutting the shapes and figuring out if I can pull this off. Wish me luck! What is the quilt going to be? I'm keeping it a secret for a bit. If it starts rolling, I'll post photos.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

We will miss you, Jeanne Marie

Last Saturday several of us spent a couple of hours in the a.m. at the Calico Quilter's annual show then off to lunch at a very nice Indian restaurant in Brunswick. After lunch it was over the bridge to Topsham to spend the afternoon drinking in the quilt artistry of the late Jeanne Marie Robinson, a member of Art Quilts Maine. A ballerina in her youth and co-founder of the Robinson Ballet in Bangor, Maine, Jeanne Marie created mostly hand stitched quilts that combined traditional blocks with amazing applique, often featuring animals. Maine Fiberarts Gallery hosted the restrospective. You might still be able to see some of her work on their site.In looking through her quilt photo albums, we were struck by a rather dramatic shift in her work. Over a year or two the quilts went from following traditional patterns to springing to life from her own, fertile imagination. Just breathtaking.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Art Quilts Maine

I went to the guild meeting Saturday. It was, as usual, lots of fun. Sally Rowe taught a workshop on "Happy Villages", a technique by Karen Eckmeir that you are probably familiar with. Sally makes it all so easy and fun. She is working on a series of village quilts--I think she said one for each letter of the alphabet! The technique is fabric collage, and I figured out a way to glue that was actually fast and not at all frustrating, so that's a bonus. Here's a shot of my tiny village in process--4" x 6"! The guild exhibit this summer is at the Central Maine Artist Gallery in Skowhegan. Opening reception is Sunday, July 11 at 3:00. The show runs through August 11. All pieces must be 16" x 20" or smaller, and most are available for purchase. I am planning to show "Tiger Two" and if there is room for a second, "Rags to Riches" (see photos below.) We saw some wonderful pieces during show and tell--a beautiful Caspian Trout by Anne and intricately woven fabric art by Kathy. As I was leaving, I browsed the guild library and found three books to borrow. Definitely worth the trip!

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The One Week Quilt

Here is a quick little baby quilt for a shower I am going to soon. I pulled the blue and yellow fabrics from my stash, and when I found the dark blue batik with dinosaurs, I decided on a pattern that showcased it. I had already started the swirly quilting when I hit upon the idea of adding the pink dinosaur, so she got placed in a corner that wasn't yet quilted. I don't know if you can see it in the photos, but I am using several different variegated threads--four total, just for a little variety. Just one quarter left to quilt. Don't you love the dinosaur applique? I think it really makes the quilt! I've got a mix of blue fabrics pieced for the binding, which I hope to apply by this weekend--that would be a new record--concept to completion in One Week!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Catherine Wheels

A quick post to show you the *probably* finished (and revised) quilt! Here is a full shot and a detail showing the switched blocks (note that I went with the original Libra in the small block) and the constellation stars in place. I think it is about as done as it gets. Label, secure the sun to the center and good to go! I have decided on Catherine Wheels for a name--a type of firework that spins like a pinwheel.
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Saturday, March 20, 2010


You will not believe this. I woke up this morning having glued stars on all but one constellation in the border and looking forward to completing the four larger constellations, representing the zodiac signs of the family this quilt is going to. For no good reason, I rechecked their birthdates. Dec. 4, Sagittarius. May 1, Taurus. January 23, Aquarius. September 21, Virgo. WHAT? September 21??? How is it that I have Libra in that square? Frantically recheck lists of dates. Nope, September 21 is never Libra, always Virgo. Good Grief, now what? I had redrawn Libra because it was the only illustration I didn't feel worked in the larger squares and now--it doesn't even belong there! No sense crying. I thought about ripping out all the quilting stitches, but after 20 minutes spent ripping out Virgo's foot I realized that wasn't going to fly. So I cut out new blue squares, hand appliqued them over the finished blocks, then quilted Libra in the small block and Virgo in the large block where she belongs. 5:00 and I am caught up to where I was this morning. Well, it would have been the END if I had gifted it with such a major mix-up. "That's nice, but my daughter is a Virgo." You can see the mixed up squares if you click on the detail photo. I'll post a new photo once the blocks dry--had to spray water on the fabric because I don't think the quilt should go thru the washer with all the rhinestones glued on, but the new blocks look flat since they haven't been washed. Fingers crossed!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bound and washed!

That close! I got the binding and hanging sleeve done while away on a business trip last night. Tonight I put the quilt in the wash. Now to attach the central painted/appliqued Khorshid Khanoom and start madly glueing on stars. Just about a week before we leave--I'd really like it to be done in time. Today's pictures don't look much different from yesterday's--except hopefully better color, and imagine the hand sewing is done--big relief for me! I want to call this Cartwheels or Catherine Wheels but I can't find a Farsi translation for either. That's the connotation I want though--any ideas?

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quitled Motifs

Seems I missed posting a shot of the zodiac motifs. Here is Sagittarius--I will be adding crystals in the constellation positions as a final touch. The quilting is done--I can't find anything more to quilt! Feathers filled in open space as did some echo quilting. While I mostly used matching thread for texture and background, allowing the motifs to take center stage, I did go back and quilt over the petals/flames in each corner of the motif blocks with gold thread to match the center. They were lost once the whole background got quilted in. Take a look at the binding--a small flange of hot pink will peek out of floral binding using the star fabric . I have to thank Heather for her unerring eye and good ideas. I haven't been happy with the color of most of the pictures of this quilt --in artificial lighting it has been photographing more gray than in life. Any ideas? Except take it outside since it is pouring rain?

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The quilting is coming along and making a difference. I have plans for feathers in some of the open spaces, but before I get to them, I keep finding fiddly bits to quilt, like around all the points, and within the kaleidoscope stars. Here are a few shots-you may be able to see the quilting better if you click on the photos.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lady Sun

I don't know that this quilt will get done in time to bring to DC in March, but at least I am back to making some progress. Having decided to quilt zodiac symbols around the sun, I went in search of a series that I liked. The ones I chose are from an old children's book. Here is a practice piece, trying out different threads and getting the hang of quilting the motifs. My process is to print the motif on tracing paper, glue the paper to the quilt sandwich with a spritz of spray glue, then free motion stitch over the lines. The worst part is getting all the bits of tracing paper out of the stitching. Here is a shot of the quilt center with Khorshid Khanoom in the center. She is very nearly done--painted and beaded. She will be the final addition to the quilt--along with a scatter of glittery crystals.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wedding Tree

What a difference a border makes! The tree quilt got a beautiful batik border of flying geese, chosen because geese mate for life, followed by a bright red border which brought great warmth to the piece. I spent the weekend quilting the center panel and am ready to pass it on to Linda to quilt the borders, then someone will add binding and a label, and voila! Ready to gift! Today's photos show the quilt with center quilting done, and a close up of some of the fill-in quilting--borrowed from Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs Thanks, Leah!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Accepted for Show!

Woo Hoo! Today's mail brought a letter of congratulations from the jury at the American Quilting Society's Quilt Show and Contest in Lancaster, PA March 24-27, stating that I am a semi-finalist! They even included a press release, which reads in part: "Bali Bloom was chosed from a large field of entries and will compete against others within its category. . .all semifinalists' quilts will be displayed at the show, which is expected to draw nearly 20,000 people. . .Quilts were entered in this international contest from 38 states and 7 other countries." How cool is that! Off to a guild meeting this evening--maybe I will bring it for show and tell.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Feathered Star

OK, back to quilts. I have been working on the piecing for the feathered star blocks. Next time I decide to do a quilt with lots of piecing, remind me that I don't really love matching points, sewing lots of tiny seams or trying to make everything match up beautifully. That said, here are some photos of this quilt in progress. Still rough, but coming along.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trust Women

Today, a diversion. I am a firm believer that abortion has no place in politics and should rest in the hands of a woman, her family, and her health care provider. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe vs Wade. How private decisions ever became politicized is beyond me, but here we are, 37 years later, still fighting. The murder of Dr. Tiller last year, simply because he provided legal, safe abortions was dispicable. Would those who wish to ban abortion choose a return to coat hanger, back alley butchers? Is that a better solution? Dr. Tiller wore a button that read: Trust Women. Couldn't be simpler. Trust Women.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Feathered Star

I am excited to be starting a new quilt. I will post a few photos of the "background" in process, which hopefully will feature a face in the center. If all goes well, I plan to give it to a friend who has talked about this idea for quite some time. It has been a long time since I have made a quilt from a pattern, with piecing. And this is fairly precise piecing--feathered stars are all points! The stars are cut using a 'stack and whack' system, stacking repeats of the fabric so they line up perfectly before slicing into diamonds. The final effect is of a kaleidoscope. When I get to the face, I plan to print it on fabric, paint, then thread paint and finally, embellish with tiny beads. Fingers crossed for a happy outcome! Should the top come out well, it will be on to quilting, and I want to do rather more structured quilting than usual--the blue spaces lend themselves to specific designs--I am thinking about something to do with zodiac signs, but we'll see. Long way from that decision yet. Here are the 1.5" half-square triangles, chain-stitched, then surrounding the star. Love that Hoffman garden fabric.

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