Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ace of Clubs - or is it?

Ace of Clubs
Originally uploaded by cathyb53

And another non-quilt item, just for fun. Last Christmas I made a set of playing cards, using a blank deck of cards & painting, stamping, transfer printing, & other fun techniques. To see the complete deck, you can look down my list of links on the right side of the screen, to:

My handmade playing cards-12/06, for Matthew

Maybe I'm the Ace of Clubs, releasing my 3 now-grown children into the world? But wait, it's a well-known fact that I'm the Queen of Hearts...except in this deck, I seem to show up as the Queen of Clubs, if you believe the images on the cards...Or maybe a person shouldn't delve too deeply into interpreting what comes off of one's work table at any given time!

In the Land of the Lotus Eaters

Not fabric/quilt art - this is a collage I made last winter while we were in the Bahamas, where there's a lot of flopping around mostly naked. Something about the indolent heat of August here in upstate New York brings it to mind.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Matthew's 30th birthday

Wish I could remember to take decent pictures of the things I make before I give them away! This is my son Matthew, celebrating his 30th birthday, in Maine; he's holding the little quilt hanging (which you can't see very well - the best part is below the frame of the picture) I made for him. I know, pretty girlish present, huh? Anyway, the little quilt was made entirely (well, except for the black) of my own hand-dyed & printed fabrics; below the frame of this photo are the beaded-bead embellishments and the tiny "liberated" log cabin squares. The label on the back is a fabric-printed old photo of me holding him at about a month or so old, as well as some more piecing of my hand-dyed fabrics.

The point of making this piece was to force myself to begin cutting into my own dyed, painted, & printed fabrics and using them as if they were "normal" (commercial) fabrics. A small start, and a nerve-wracking one, but at least I did it, instead of just hoarding up my "special" pieces and admiring them as cloth. More to come!

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Saturday, August 11, 2007


I wish that I were more focused these days. I keep being pulled in so many directions, creativity-wise, that the end result is paralysis. Or the desire to start a new project leads me to frantically rearrange my workspace. Or to tidy my sewing space by stitching all of the little snips of fabric on my sewing table into other crazy little bits of improvisationally-pieced, slightly larger, pieces. Or to re-categorize and re-shelve my paints, beads, or other supplies. Or to decide that I simply must unpack the random boxes of stuff that have been sitting in the middle of my studio since we had the new floor put in a year and a half ago; of course the reason they haven't been unpacked & put away before now is that they're down to the "stems & seeds" of the household items - long-expired sunscreens & itch creams, Ace bandages that have disintegrated from old age, old mattress pads that aren't ready to be chucked but are no longer needed for daily use, linoleum blocks I carved in high school, cat "toys" that send my funny little cats scrambling out of sight in fear, the old notebooks filled with the pitiful household accounting and somewhat-impressive Scrabble scores from life with my first husband 35 years ago...... Good grief!

When what I really want to do, of course, is Make Art. Not just the stuff I know I can do already, but the fantastic, make-me-drool-with-desire work I see on the blogs & websites of other art quilters, beaders, and surface designers. It's fear, of course, that keeps me always starting to play with new techniques & materials but never quite pulling it all together. Because what if what I finally do put together just makes me feel ashamed that it's not "better"? It's so much more comfortable to think that of course I could produce work like the rock stars of the art quilting world, if I would just get around to it, than to face my own limitations.

Of course, this is just a form of the dreaded Block, or Resistance. Hey, I read the books, I know what's what! I even know what to do about it: just Go Do It. But which "it" should I focus on? If I'm working on learning new dyeing & fabric painting techniques, I'm not sewing. If I'm sewing, I'm not working on developing complex cloth. And I haven't gone near most of my beads for a year or two, and.........Not even to mention that the time I'm spending on-line seeking inspiration & knowledge is LOTS of time not creating anything at all. I truly don't know how so many people seem to manage to do so much!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wild Birds Art Quilt

Wild Birds Art Quilt

This small art quilt was inspired by lyrics to a song by Jan Harmon; I sing a lot of folk music with my similarly-inclined friends, and this was a song I have always loved, especially when sung by my dear friend Jo Houghton. The chorus, part of which is the words on the front of the quilt, is:

"They're all dressed up in feathers with colors outrageous,
They soar from this earthly-bound kingdom of cages
On delicate wings, so small and courageous,
Thank heaven for wild birds."

I started it last fall, when the rich autumn golds and oranges and purples were all around me. I used my own hand-dyed fabrics, commercial fabrics, rubber stamps on painted watercolor paper (the birds) and fabric (the lettering), and beads. Instead of using the more traditional batting, I fused front & back on to Fast-2-Fuse (a stiff, heavy fusibile Timtex, the stuff the bills of ball caps are made with); this allowed the machine quilting to be purely decorative & free of the necessity to hold all the layers together evenly.

I admit it - I did get carried away a bit on the back! The frame around the "label" portion is a digital copy of a paper-and-scissors collage frame that I made 3 years ago as part of my daughter's wedding quilt - I'm quite fond of it, apparently.
Sadly, it was not accepted into this year's Small Art Quilts show at Main Street Gallery in Groton, NY. This was my first submission to a juried show, though, so I'm not too discouraged. And who knows, it may be accepted into another show - or I may just hang it in my living room, where I can see it every day!