My latest inspiration came from a hand lettered sign on an overpass on the Maine turnpike. It said "Never Stop Exploring." I have no idea what the context was for the sign or what it meant to whoever put it up, but it got my mind going.
Ever since I took a workshop on diary quilts from Susan Shie years ago, one of my favorite things is to stitch words into my art quilts. I start with a topic and see where it leads me. During the last open studios at Western Ave., a woman commented on a piece of mine in the hallway that it looked like I was just riffing as I stitched. I was delighted, because she captured exactly what I was doing, but I hadn't thought of it that way.
So here's my latest riff in progress.
I've been thinking about just what that phrase "never stop exploring" means in my life--learning new things, making new friends, trying new recipes. One of the things I admired most about my dad was his love of learning. At an age when many people retired, he learned to build Finnish masonry heaters and traveled the country building them for people who wanted to heat with wood without polluting the air. I definitely want to follow in his footsteps in this way. Creating this little quilt (12"x9") will help me think about just what that means.
I've been playing with my new toys. Yesterday it was my new sewing machine - a Pfaff expression 3.2. I finally got up the gumption to figure out using my machine's capability to stitch letters and save a series of stitches. All the time that I used Sonja's machine, I never got myself to try any of the special features. Now that I have my own, I swore I'd try to make fuller use of things.
I decided to try setting up a signature file. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to do it correctly and get a look that I liked, but overall it was very quick and easy. It won't replace my hand-stitched signature on everything, but it sure is fun to do.
I managed to save the sequence and even to edit it, but I never did figure out how to go back to just plain stitching without restarting the machine! That convinced me that I need to take the two free classes that Nashua Sew and Vac offers with every machine purchased. Manuals just never tell you enough...
Today I got a very different new toy - a new bicycle. As happens in so many cases, you don't realize how bad your current one is until you try a new one. My husband wanted a new bike because his was giving him a few problems. I thought we ought to wait to make sure we'd really get back into biking. But...before we could really start, we had to go to the bike store because we discovered that my helmet was broken. Of course, while we were there, we thought we'd find out about what was available so we could "plan." Plan, haha! All it took was a short test ride and I knew I didn't want to get back on the old bike. If we were going to get into biking at all, we'd have to have new bikes and we put in our order. We picked them up this morning and went for a ride after lunch. I have to say that it was great and I'm really looking forward to riding more.
While I'm talking about the bike, I have to give a plug to Ernie's Cycle Shop in Westbrook, Maine. It is hard to imaging that we could have had a better experience. Sylvia spent literally hours with us helping us get everything just right, offering suggestions, but never pushing; helping us figure out what was right and the best value for us. She made us feel like we'd been friends for years and her enthusiasm for biking was infectious. If you need anything bike-related and you're anywhere in the area, I'd definitely recommend that you go there.
My entry for the Loading Dock Gallery's August juried show - The Dog Days of Summer - is coming along well. In my last post I shared the centerpiece of the triptych I'm working on and the origins of the piece. The photos above share the left and right portions of the triptych.
The right section is embellished with hand couching. I've done herringbone stitches over hand-dyed 5400 rayon threads from Stef Francis. These rayon threads can be dicey to work with as they are very slippery and they unravel very easily, but the color and sheen they add are well worth the trouble to me. I often use them in machine couching, anchoring the ends with tight satin stitches. This time I tried the technique of threading them through a fat needle so I could plunge the ends through the fabric to anchor them on the back of the piece. They will not hold a knot, so I used the couching thread to do several overcast stitches to hold the ends to the backing felt. That seemed to work pretty well.
The left section I'm embellishing with seed beads in a pattern to echo the couching on the right section. it has been quite a while since I've done any beading. It feels good to get back to it again. I found I had several colors in my bead stash that went very well with the fabric colors in this. I hope to finish this beading today so that I can work on mounting the pieces when i get back to the studio tomorrow.
Ann M. Lee