Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Quiltmaking as Art/ Home from Paducah

Finally near the camera cables to post a few of the snaps from Paducah. Please note no quilts....again out of respect for the quilt makers. All of the photos are published in a great catalog from AQS if you would like to see who was in the show.

Being in Paducah was truly an experience of renewal for me. Coming home is good especially if you come home with a great sense of renewal and appreciation for quiltmaking as an art. Truly, it doesn't matter what style, traditional or non-traditional, each quilt carried with it the spirit of the quiltmaker.

We are so lucky to have textiles as an art form. Long associated with women and utilitarian needs, quilts have not just come into their own.....they have always been an artistic expression for women. Now artist in other media are turning to textiles to express their artistic needs and images.

So no matter how you work, bless those who started our tradition and those who are still carrying that tradition into the future.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thoughts on New Rules.....Technique vs. Style

Diane D, asked in a comment on the New Rules post how judging categories based on technique instead of style would effect the judges task. Thanks, Diane, great question.

For myself only, it is good news since I hand quilt. Having said that, there are a few categories that are already judged in this same way. Group quilts and mixed techniques categories both include a variety of styles from traditional to non- traditional. Also currently in pieced and appliqued categories at the AQS show there is no separation of traditional and contemporary styles.

Only the small wall quilts were divided in Traditional and Non-Traditional categories. answer Diane's question: The judges have already been faced with making decisions in very much the same way as they will have to make next year.

From a judges perspective, the cream always rises to the top. A great quilt stops you in your tracks from the very beginning. Visual impact is so important. The next step is there attention to detail, is the quilt well made, regardless of technique?

Letting things shake out and waiting to see what happens.....all comments are welcome.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Rules

This is the year of new rules for both Houston and Paducah. If you are in Paducah, you can pick up the entry form and see for yourself. For those of you who will have to wait, here is a brief synposis.

Large Quilts (called the Bed Quilt Category

1. Hand Quilted
2. Home Sewing Machine quilted
3. Long Arm Machine Quilted
4. First Entry in AQS show...not necessarily your first quilt, just the first time you have entered....any technique
5. Group....any technique by three or more people

Handmade Quilts any technique, pieced or appliqued but the qilt top must be stitched by hand. Long seams, binding and backing may be stitched by machine.

Large Wall Quilts

Same as above with the addition of a Pictorial category...any technique

Small Wall Quilts

Same as above with the addition of Pictorial

Young Designer Quilts

any technique in unique interpretation, open to ages 18 to 35

Miniature Quilts

any technique max size 24" w; 24" l....all aspects of quilt are in reduced scale

Libby Lehman, Mary Sorensen, Yvonne Porcella

January 5 postmark deadline. All entries must be on cd rom

That's it in a nutshell. Complete rules and forms can be received from www.AmericanQuilter. com or by writing to AQS, P. O. Box 3290, Paducah, KY 42002.

Get those needles flying.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On Being in Paducah

This is a picture-free post since I left my camera cables sitting just where they belong on my desk at home. Having said that, being in Paducah is such a treat. Life is definitely slower here than at home. Almost nothing open downtown on Sunday....not to be deterred, Donna Wilder and I found a great restaurant yesterday. A full bar and good steaks and salads. Ahhh!

The judging went well. Finished yesterday around 3 pm. No information will be revealed. Why spoil the party! Also there will be no pictures of the winners on this beloved blog since I don't have permission from the owners.

Seriously folks, this is an issue. Yes, we all love to see great quilts and blogs are good visuals can you in good faith not honor some other artist's copyright? A good subject for a longer post.

Moving on....another day....looking forward to seeing old friends and enjoying a smaller town atmosphere. While Paducah isn't exactly a small town, it has managed to maintain the small town hospitality. If you are a quilt maker or even just a lover of quilts and you are in town during quilt show week, you can get away with just about anything. The entire town has on its "we love you" duds.

The Schroeders run a hands on affair. The staff at the publishing company is working the show. All the family members are doing a task....with grace, patience and attention to your needs.

My bf, Barbara, had made reservations at our usual hotel. When I arrived on Friday from Nashville, Libby Lehman took me to the said hotel. Oops! The reservations were wrong...not for the correct dates. Therefore, no room at the inn. Immediate panic. The weekend before the quilt show and no hotel room....not a good way to start the trip. On the cell phone to Cathy Dodson, handler of all things teacher,
"Hi Cathy. Gabrielle room at the inn. Can you get me in at the Executive Inn....please....small catch in the voice....slobber, slobber." Five seconds later...."Call me when you get checked in. There is a room waiting for you." Praising her to the high heavens....shouts of glee.

So you get what I can get away with almost anything. Doesn't hurt that the judging started the next morning at 8:30 am.

Friday, April 11, 2008

After the Storm

North Central Texas in spring and early summer can be a rather lively place. Not that many other states aren't in the same weather pattern. This week we have been in the path of the cool air meeting the warm air.....perfect conditions for the dreaded Severe Thunderstorms. The winds really take their toll. The leaf above was blasted onto our front porch. Since the leaf was wet from the rain, it stuck to the least, until it dried out.

The neighbor down the street lost part of the tree in their front yard.

All the sidewalks and streets were covered in debris. We even found two crab apples in the driveway....with not a tree in sight. There is no telling how far they had to travel in the wind to get to us. Two hours west, in Breckenridge, a tornado managed to touch down. Taking away several homes but, fortunately only injuring 5 people. That doesn't count how much was lost due to other winds and loss of power.

We were luck only some shingles were sticky straight up off the rood. Sweet Ronnie climbed on top of the house and repaired them. No photo, as you might well expect. I was forbidden to get near him with a camera. So spring is here....along with the American Airlines debacle.

This isn't building confidence. Recalling all the times, having flown American lots, that my plane was an MD 80 or Super case you didn't realize...they have grounded almost the entire fleet due to bad wiring. Excuse me....ahem...don't y'all do regular maintenance? Thanks guys for all the great regulation of safety on the airlines. Oh, let's see and you gave them all this money to save them and the airlines still want to be bailed out? Oops!
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Allergy Season...Or When Your Body Revolts

For a few weeks I have been noticing the onslaught of pollen...feeling tired...sleeping late...and of course, the muddled brain. Ya know what I mean. You think you are clear headed and then you do something totally whacko. My Saturday in the studio being a fine example. Everything I touched went splat. However, at the time of touching, they all seemed like good ideas.

Please note the ginormus bags under my eyes. Yikes! These aren't bags...they are an entire set of luggage. Thought about dumping my head into a sink full of ice. Brr...shiver...only to realize that Sweet Ronnie is the only person on the planet who is going to be subjected to this view.

Much to my surprise I photographed this debacle and posted it to you. Again an error in thinking. While I never suffer enough to take any of the much televised medications, a few weeks in March or April are not a pretty sight. Although I do love the high cheekbones, that gaunt look that makes you appear thinner than you really are. Or could that just be a syndrome of "old?"

Today the mission is to stay away from sharp objects, don't speak until thinking, and don't start a major project. Pearls of wisdom during allergy season.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Better Living Through Drawing

Quickly an update on "Last Leaf"...yesterday was so frustrating. Almost fell into the trap of too much color yet again. Finally woke up to simplicity and chose three fabrics. Darkest for background, medium to do the line work in the background and lightest for leaves.

This gorgeous sateen, hand-dyed by my bf Barbara, is just to gorgeous. Great color change....lots of places to cut for leaves.

Busby was exhausted by the time the decision was made.

Woke up this morning firmly convinced that yesterday's disaster was due to my lack of working with fabric. Since I took a sabbatical from quilt making, I have been painting and manipulating photographs in Photoshop. Easy to forget how one has to think for applique.

To solve the dilemma, today was spent drawing with applique in mind. Sorry no pictures just yet....but it was a good day. Last week, my creativity students were posed with the exercise to re-tell a myth. A story we are all familiar with but told in a new way. Think "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" An amazing job of re-telling the story of Ulysses.

With that still in my mind, and drawing on past experience as a calligrapher, I created the first set of sketches in "The Cliche" series. Taking only one word from a cliche and using it as the centerpiece of a design, I managed to get four solid sketches done. The big reveal will come later...when I actually get some work done.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Thankful for Do-overs

Some faithful readers might remember "Last Leaf" shown above. This was the quilt that I slaughtered with color. Way too much color. What was I thinking? Or better yet was I thinking at all? Occasionally, in your quilt making career you will do something so off that you surprise yourself. So be thankful for do-overs. Thank you quilting gods.

So I woke up early this morning with do-over on my mind. I truly like the design ergo the problem has to be in execution. Operator error...fatal error...are you sure you want to do this? I started pulling fabrics only to discover that you can own all the fabric in the world and still not have the one you need. Sigh! Sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Two possibilities finally presented after much digging. Leaving them on the cutting table to see what strikes me and hopefully after more digging finding something else that works. The idea of slightly monochromatic as in the first photo is very appealing....but then again the green next to the rust would be kinda good leaves. Not a problem to figure out just a choice to be made.

Also, a big thanks to everyone who commented on my "Is Blogging Dead?" post. Thank you all for some food for thought and insightful comments. Check the blogs of the ladies who responded...great work.
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spring, Summer, Fall...What Season Is it?

The joys of having an established garden are amazing. Stuff that was planted last year is blooming and thriving. However, there are some plants that shouldn't be. Behind the ground cover are got it. Fall mums with buds on them. Summer temps in Texas are bound to fry them to a golden crispy texture. They have no idea the fate that awaits them. Poor babies.

They are happily growing beside the Snap Dragons that have already bloomed. There are several more Snaps full of buds and about to bloom. This precocious darling decided to get a head start on the show. It has been blooming for about two weeks.

And, of course don't forget the garden favorite...dandelion. Fighting a losing battle with these invading, maurading suckers.
But, I ask you what is going on? Mums, Snaps and snow in March. Texas has weird question. My garden is testament to that fact. Could something more be at play? Could it be a change in the climate? Could the scientist and Al Gore be correct? The last thing Texas needs is more warm weather. You will hear me moaning when summer arrives.

But will summer arrive? For the mums sake, it would be great if we had a mild summer....for the planet? Owwie, my head hurts just thinking about all the consequences.
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