On Going to Houston As An Artist

Tatum-SkyHorse-Detail 2014

Detail from Sky Horse, which is in the show in Houston.

I leave on the 27th for The International Quilt Festival in Houston, and then on to visit my brother in California on Halloween. I am very excited and even a little apprehensive. This trip is expected to include some fun classes, starting Monday night, the awards ceremony, a party afterwards, and the lunch next day. Wed night, all day Thursday. and Friday morning I will be viewing the show, after which I set off to see my brother and his family in San Diego.

The plans in San Diego are also terrific. They include not only seeing my family that I don’t get to see often, but also taking in a museum exhibit on King Tut, going to the San Diego zoo (one of the premier zoos of the world), and a dinner at my nephew’s home. What a trip!

My apprehension is entirely related to “will my feet hold out?” and to flying again after years of not flying. If it all goes well, and I expect it will, I should have a trip of a lifetime. I’ve done everything I know how to do to prepare.  I am praying for a good and safe trip.

For some years before I retired on 1 Jan 2012, I began to take my sewing and art that my mother instructed, inspired, and encouraged me to develop and use from a very young age, and make a new career for myself to fill my “retirement” years. It is one that fills my heart with joy and I will keep doing this as long as I am able. I love exploring techniques and experimenting with types of fabric, paints, threads, digital technologies, and just about anything else that can be used to create fabric wall art. I love most of my results, some I just learn from.  Since retirement, I do this full time, though not for profit as yet, and it is an absolute delight for me.

Sew going to Houston, one of the premier quilting shows in the world, where I hope to meet many of my friends and some of the rock stars of the quilting art world, and having two of my own quilts hanging there is a big deal for me. I expect to come back inspired for my 2015 quilt year.

There are several shows I would like to go to in 2015 but I have to pick and choose, since I’m not bringing in any money with this new “career.” From the first I have planned on turning this fun occupation into a profitable business, at least to the extent that it pays for itself and allows me to keep up with good software, machines, nice materials, and new developments and go to the shows. I have some ideas on how I can accomplish that and plan to put them into action in 2015.  I will tell you more about them when I get closer to getting them launched.

After I get back on 6 November, I will post pictures from my trip. I am not dragging my computer along, and I photograph using a camera rather than a phone, except rarely. I am going to have my Kindle Fire with me, so I will be able to post on my facebook and email…not sure about writing a blog, but I’ll see. But I do plan on sharing the fun with you all as much as I can.

Sew happy everyone. Take care of yourselves, and maybe I’ll see you there!

Getting Ready for International Quilt Fest in Houston

 

It’s just a little over two weeks before I board that plane and fly off into the sky towards Houston.  Yesterday I got my flu shot, and I’ve gotten all my tickets, arranged for the shuttle transport to and from the hotel, and even arranged to do my voting with absentee ballot because I’m going to visit my brother and nephew and their family after Houston.  I’m really getting excited now.

I promised to put a pic of my brocade vest.  It is beautiful, but it does kind of make me look like a semi truck.  I’m going to wear it anyway.  Here’s a pic of it with the black blouse I also made to wear with it.

Palace Silk Brocade Vest

Palace Silk Brocade Vest

Sew I have been making some little things just to finish up and then it’s back to quilt making.  I made two tool rolls to tuck into my luggage..they are both alike, but one is open and the other snapped closed.

tool rolls

tool rolls

I hope to see many of you there.  To those who are Unable to Go to Houston (UGH), I plan on taking a lot of pictures.  I even bought some new compact flash things for my camera, have two batteries and a charger, so I should be able to take quite a few. I’ll share as many as I can.  Not sure what the rules are about that, so I may be limited to sharing the pics of friends and the vendor booths…we’ll see.

I’ll probably post one more time before I go.  I’m now making a bunch of mug rugs for my friends…some of them are made from my samples and practice pieces, so I hope they will like them anyway.

Sew happy everyone! And don’t forget to teach someone to sew or quilt…even if it is yourself!

A Ribbon at MQX Helps Focus My Style

Canterbury Silk a MQX with Best Surface Design ribbon

Canterbury Silk at MQX with Best Surface Design ribbon

Well glory be!  I won a ribbon!  🙂  Best Surface Design at MQX Midwest.

If you recall several blogposts back I was discussing how I might focus my style a little more clearly in Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus….  I got some wonderful feedback from some of you out there mostly along the lines of “do what your heart tells you”.  Now I wholeheartedly agree with this.  I also have a list of about fifty or more quilts I have thought of and almost any one of them would please my quilter’s heart to make. Indeed, I think of a new quilt almost every day, but have stopped adding to the list unless it is extremely compelling.  Sew I think some focus might be in order.

The ribbon was so unexpected. Now of course I never really expect a ribbon when I enter a show. I hope for one, but I never really expect one. I enter shows so my friends and others can see my quilts.  A ribbon is icing on the cake.  But what I mean about unexpected here is what it is for…Surface Design.

I had never really thought about my work in surface design, but now that I look at my body of work, a great deal of it is centered around surface design. I hadn’t even put that together until I won this ribbon. The main exception to this is my line drawing quilts…Perspective in Threads and Dad’s House Plan.

Now, however, I see how well this fits. I love to add unusual appliques, thread painting, embellishments, and paints to the surfaces of my quilts to make my idea in my head come alive. This term “surface design” pulls together three of my four styles I identified in my previous post…story landscapes with Deep Space quilts and Canterbury Silk. What a surprise. So my two focus choices for the next year are…Surface Design and Line Drawings.

Thanks to all of you who gave me your feedback on my previous post about this. I really appreciated them more than you may realize. I have been struggling with this for some reason.

Sew happy everyone!

An Interview Concerning Kitsunes, Wulvers, and Golden Dragons

David A. Tatum

David A. Tatum

For more than the past six years, one of my chief concerns has been to try to help my youngest son David launch his chosen career as a novelist. You’ve no idea how much this means to me.  He’s wanted to be an author all of his life.  He made up his first story when he was about three.  His dad, my dear late husband Marvin, was a book collector and librarian, and had a collection of books on standing stones.  David made up a story about the enormous men who put the standing stones into place.  He grew up surrounded by books with parents who encouraged reading.

David, who has his degree in history, has a marvelous and interesting writing style based on sound research and filled with interesting characters. Even though he has elves, dwarves, and dragons in his first book, In Treachery Forged, they are totally fascinating with characteristics unlike those you might expect. His woman protagonist was blinded as a young girl and has learned to handle life with efficiency and forthrightness.

His delightful  second novel, The Kitsune Stratagem, does not have elves, dwarves, and dragons, but rather its female lead is a young kitsune (a human-fox shape shifting person with remarkable characteristics). It is an exciting story with palace intrigue, fascinating characters, such as wulvers and bunyips, placed in a very interesting world.

This week, he was featured in a blog interview that talks about his writing. You can find it here.   And should you want to read one of these delightful novels you can find all the links to print versions and ebooks here

He has arranged it so if you buy the print version, you can have the kindle ebook version for free.

 

 

Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus for Future Quilts

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sky Horse. A deep space quilt inspired by NASA photos of the Horsehead Nebula

The judges have finished judging and the notifications have gone out, and Sky Horse did not win a ribbon.  Sew I thought I would go ahead and share the finished pictures with you.  The problem has always been getting a good photo of the quilt because of the way it reflects the light.  But the one above is the best I could get after getting a special lens and all.  Here’s the detail:

Tatum-SkyHorse-Detail 2014

I have no idea how well it traveled.  I did my best in packing it to travel without developing serious folds or breaking of the Angelina Fibers applique (if you can call it that).  I have had good success in the traveling of my first deep space quilt Stellar Nursery.  It’s tougher than you might think once it gets the black veiling sewn on and the all-over quilting.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of "Mountains of Creation".  My first deep space quilt.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of “Mountains of Creation”. My first deep space quilt.

I am very happy to have Sky Horse in Quilt Fest in Houston.  It’s a true honor just to get in that show.  Of course, I’m a little disappointed not to get a ribbon, but the quilts that go there are incredible and I also think I did not capture the Horsehead Nebula as well as I wanted to.  I may try again some day.

Over the past few months I have had several discussions with two well-known quilters who both suggested to me that I pick one or two styles and make lots of quilts in those styles reaching constantly for improvement with each new quilt. I think on the whole that they are right.  But I will confess that this is difficult for me because I love so many kinds of art style quilts. 

The first is 1.  deep space quilts as seen above and just for reference here are several from my other styles,

2.  Story landscape quilts:  They tell a story on some kind of landscape:

Waiting...

Waiting…

The Storyteller

The Storyteller

Then I have the 3.  line drawings/blue print quilts:

Tatum_DadsHousePlan-FULL

Dad’s House Plan–a memory quilt for my Dad. This quilt was juried into AQS Chattanooga and will be there this week.

Perspective in Threads - This quilt was recently juried in to Houston's Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

Perspective in Threads – This quilt was recently juried in to Houston’s Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

And then there is my newest style, which one might call 4.  Innovative.  This quilt is meant to be the first of a series of silk quilts focused on ancient illuminated manuscripts and other old European and American artwork.

Canterbury Silk.  This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Canterbury Silk. This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Sew in principle, I agree with my quilting friends…4 styles is a lot to build a reputation on, and one needs to focus on a style or two and make many of those quilts.  It’s much like the decision I had to make many years ago to reduce my multiple crafts down to focus on fabric arts. But I have not yet decided.  They are all fun.  What do you think?

 

 

A Shift in the Studio

 

 

 

Kevin

Kevin

My handsome, brilliant, impish grandson Kevin enters middle school on 2 September and we decided as a family that his after school and summer day-care will be shifted to Grammy (that’s me) instead of his former care giver who has several new younger kids this year plus her own bunch to care for.  I live only a couple of miles from his school and his home.  I am truly happy to have him come here for the out-of-school work hour time.  It does impact my time for fabric art substantially, however, so I will have to scale back some of my plans in that direction for a few years.  I hope to share some wonderful time and create some great memories, as well as teach him some art among other things.  It will not stop me from moving forward in my own art, though.

Part of the time, Kevin and I are taking the opportunity for him to learn more about quilting, and possibly bag making.  He made a quilt top with me when he was 9, but sort of stopped working on quilting for the past couple of years.  But he’s interested again.  Last week he drafted a lemoyne star using Alex Anderson’s methods presented in a TQS show, and then decided to put together a small quilt and use the lemoyne star as a quilting design.  It would be a straight stitch quilting design and so he can use my big Bernina with the dual feed to quilt it.

Technology can really help in teaching kids to sew.  It is my personal belief that frustration and boredom are the chief barriers to kids learning to do high-level creative things like this. He worked out how he wanted it on my Electric Quilt 7 program, picked out the fabrics from my stash, and cut it out on my Go! cutter, and started sewing it on Friday.  If you have kids you want to teach to quilt, I really recommend a die cutter, because it is safe, accurate, and fast.  Fast means less boredom, accuracy makes for good results and less frustration, and a machine that works well means less boredom and less frustration.   So here he is sewing together the 10 inch squares on my little B350 machine.  I put a 57 foot, which is a 1/4 inch piecing foot with a seam guide, on the machine and slid the machine speed down to the middle so he doesn’t sew too fast.  His seems so far are perfection.

Kevin sewing in 2014

We’ll see where this goes from here.  It is my hope he will really enjoy it enough to want to do another one when this is finished, but if he only finishes this one, it will be a nice accomplishment for him.

Meanwhile, I still managed to get my black blouse and slacks cut out for my dressy outfit.  Hopefully, I can complete this project this coming week.  Kevin will be spending some of the week with his other grandparents next week, so I have several clear days next week before the after-school thing starts.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew–your grandkids, your BFF, yourself, your annoying neighbor, your cats, your dogs.  LOL

 

 

Alex Anderson, A Bit of Progress, and Some Plans

ALEX
Today I went to G Street in Falls Church, Virginia, to attend a lecture by Alex Anderson. I had a lot of fun. I got there early enough that I could get a seat close to the front just behind the chair Alex came and sat down in while waiting for the time to start, and we had a lovely conversation about Bernina sewing machines. A Bernina representative was sitting next to Alex and joined in. I never expected to have time to chat with her, so this was an added treat for me.

Her lecture was entirely fun and very inspiring.  She told us about her life centered around quilting, family, and quilting friends, and how many times she had taken one step at a time to learn something new for her books, for her quilting, for her job as a show hostess.  In all of that and in clear statements she encouraged us to try new things and take one step at a time no matter how difficult they seemed at first to accomplish, learn, improve, and experiment in quilting.  I loved her speech, I enjoyed meeting her, and found myself wishing that we lived close so I could become a good friend of hers.  Thank you Alex for such a fun time today and all the shows and teaching you have provided.

I have been slowly building a network of really fine quilting friends across the country and occasionally I meet them face to face.  I hope to continue this as the years roll out in front of me.

Anyway, as to the progress on my clothing project.  I have now finished making the black embroidered reversible vest and embroidered slacks.  The vest fits nicely, but I’m not as happy with the slacks.  I have one idea for improving the slacks, and will do that, but I think I’m going to have to improve my slacks pattern before I make the other two pairs.

I also finished the silk brocade vest and it fits to perfection.  I will make the black blouse and slacks next, and hope I can improve the slacks pattern enough to be really happy with them.  If I can, I have at least one more pair I will make, and I found a nice piece of Rayon Batik I had stashed in the closet that will make a great loose casual lightweight jacket.  I’m going to make at least one bag and then I’m going to stop with the clothes for a while.  Later on, I want to use one of my four nice pieces of heavy wool I have to make an overcoat.  I even have all the specialized interfacing and lining for two of them and some faux fur to make cuffs and a collar.  But I will do that closer to winter.  I think I’ll blog the making of the overcoat when I do.  It should be interesting.

I have two quilts I want to make.  One has an end of the year deadline, and I will wait until early in the new year to tell you about it.  The other one is a quilt based on some line drawings by the Wright Brothers of their planes that I found on The Wright Brothers organization site and obtained their permission to use for the quilt.

The Wright Plane quilt will be one in my line-drawing series.  The first of that was Perspective in Threads, which has been juried into the Houston special architectural quilts exhibit this year, that will be traveling for a year.  The second is Dad’s House Plan that will soon be in AQS Chattanooga.

Sew I’ll put in a few pictures of my clothes when I get them done.

Sew happy! Teach someone to sew or quilt…your BFF, your brother, your daughter, your pets.

 

Stress Reduction: Read a Fun Book and Relax!

Cover art

Cover art

Life is sometimes hard to take, and the news seems ghastly lately.  One of the things you can do to lower your stress level is to read a really good book.  My youngest son, the writer, just published his second full length fantasy novel.  It is a great read and I wish you would all rush to your favorite e-reader store and purchase a copy.

After you read it, if you’d like, I would love it if you would go to the e-reader store where you bought it, and give it a short review, or a five-star rating (if you liked it, that is).  Of course, you don’t have to, but such reviews are very helpful in getting the book launched and seen by prospective buyers–much more than I realized before his first book was published.  OR, if you really would rather read it in print, it will be available in print from Amazon in a couple of weeks (you can review that too, if you’d like).  His books are fun, have a lot of research behind them, and are an easy read.  Here’s the link to Fennec Fox Press where you can find the links to the various online bookstores.

OK, Back to my clothing upgrade project.  I’ll post a blogpost on my progress there soon.

Sew Happy Everyone!

 

 

Progress Report and Thoughts on Quilting Economics

Saturday Morning 12 July

Saturday Morning 12 July

Hi. It’s been a while since I wrote a post mainly because I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “I’m still quilting.” 😀  Well, I finally finished the quilting and moved on to painting the border.

Now I thought that painting the border would not take me more than a day or two, but I have been painting about three full days so far and as you can see, I have less than half of it done.  I’m using a combination of  Lumiere and Setacolor paints.  I found if I accidentally paint a little outside the stitching, it can easily be removed if I act quickly with a dampened paper towel.  Then I finish off the leaves and flowers with a coat of SoSoft glitter finish.  I actually like the Setacolor glitter finish also, but the glitter pieces are much larger in it and I thought the subtlety of the SoSoft works better for this quilt.  SoSoft takes a couple of days to stop being sticky, but it dries to a level where it doesn’t disturb it if you touch it in about 10 minutes.  Setacolor dries faster and better than any of the paints.  After the paint dries for a couple of days, I will turn the quilt upside down into a soft towel to prevent the trapunto effect from being squashed and heat set them by ironing from the back of the quilt.  I’ve already tried this with my sample pieces and know it works well. 

I estimate that I will finish the painting in about three more days of work.   I am using multiple paint colors on each leaf, flower, and swirl and this takes time. Then I will bind it and I have a lot of beading I want to add to the quilt…beads in the middle of the flowers, around the center of the faux sashing between the red center block and the border, and I ‘m debating whether to scatter some beads on the border.  The original design from the illuminated manuscript has some scattered spots of paint that could easily be beads on the quilt.  Here it is.  See the spots?

My design...border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

My design…border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

 

Sew that’s why I haven’t been around to post anything much lately.  But I have been taking periodic breaks and watching entries in Facebook, The Quilt Show, and so forth.  I have noticed that there is a bit of disturbance in the quilting world regarding what threads and fabrics to buy, what fabrics “require” what threads, and where “responsible shoppers” buy them.  Sigh.  I may lose some of my followers here, but this is what I think about all of this.  Buy the best grade of fabrics and threads you can, because you are spending so much of your time and effort making these wonderful quilts and garments, but sometimes you can find real bargains of fine quality threads and fabrics.  So buy them where you can get the best for the best price.  If you buy them from JoAnns, or the big box store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping supply badly-needed jobs for your neighbors.  If you buy them at your local quilt store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping to keep them in business.  If you buy them from the Internet for a particularly good price and convenience without spending gas to go get them, you can rejoice in having saved enough over time to make one more quilt—perhaps even a charity quilt.  Don’t feel guilty for where you shop or what you buy, but DO pay attention to the quality.

Sometimes it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy a high quality thread in a cone on sale than it is to buy a low quality thread in smaller quantities at a discount store.  The lower quality thread also can damage your machine, so that has to enter into your thinking about the economics behind your purchases.  Also, it is not necessary to use cotton threads on cotton fabrics.  The quality of the higher end threads, especially, are so high now that no longer applies.

Sew those of you out there who have developed into–for good reason–thread snobs or fabric snobs, please be gentle with those who shop where you think they should not and buy the threads you think they should not, and vice-a-versa.  Love thy fellow quilter or sewist as thyself.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew…your son, your granddaughter, your nephew, your niece, your fiance, your neighbor down the street, your cat, your dog. 😀

My Mentors

107

On a trip earlier this year, a friend of mine asked me who I considered my mentor.  I was driving and the traffic was heavy, so I didn’t give a very good answer to that question.  I have had many mentors, the chief one being my mother.  Sew I decided to pull an earlier post from my archives of my old blog, but looking at it, I realize I have added several additional mentors and so I put those into the post in blue text.  I am so thankful for all the wonderful quilters and sewists who have taught me so much across the years.  Many of them I have never met.

 

AUTHOR: BJ Tatum
TITLE: Let us now praise famous women (and men)
DATE: 8/7/2011 9:35:54 PM
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BODY:
I don’t quite know why, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the
wonderful women and men who have handed down their skills and forged
paths in sewing, engineering, painting, fabric weaving and printing, and
development of all manner of tools and notions  that have brought us to
the fantastic opportunities we have now spread before us.   I thank God
for them.


Let us now praise famous men [and women], and our fathers [and mothers] that begat us.
The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through His great power from the beginning.
Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:
Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of
learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:

Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing.
Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations.
All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though
they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born;
and their children after them.

But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant.

From Ecclesiastics 44, King James Version

Several quilters and sewers have had a huge impact on my appreciation and love of sewing and quilting.  And you know, I’ve only actually met one of the most impactful of them besides my mother.

Zephana Bivens:  She was my dear incredibly brilliant talented mother, who was an advanced sewist and knitter.  She never made quilts to my knowledge, but she taught me to sew and knit and embroider from the time I was about 4 or 5.  I honestly can’t remember exactly when I began, but I do know I made my first dress, with a lot of help from her, at age 6.  Late in her life, she got interested in intricately carved woodworking using a scroll saw and made some wall art that I can only characterize as “wood lace”.  Sadly, she passed away at age 79 from cancer just as she was perfecting her woodworking, and she never got to see my quilting development.  How I would have loved to share it with her, but somehow I believe she knows about it.  She was not famous, but she was clearly an artist.

Martha Pullen: The other day, I was watching  “Martha’s Sewing
Room” where one of her guests (sorry don’t know her name), was showing a
way to sew something and turn it that was remarkable in its result and
simplicity, but required an engineering mind to figure out in the first
place.  Martha has provided some remarkable teaching from her program and I have learned a ton of new methods especially for heirloom sewing.

Sharon Schamber:  The first time I realized that quilts might be a fascinating “hobby” for me was about 7 years ago when I attended the Chantilly Sewing and Quilting Expo where they had one of Sharon Schamber’s quilts on display.  I was astonished and fascinated with her piecing and quilting techniques and, oddly, I didn’t even particularly like her overall quilt.  I realized, though, that she has a remarkable talent.   Since that time, I have studied many of her how-to videos on her network.  She taught me to improve my piecing, my quilting, and especially my binding. [Sharon’s videos are now available in DVD form on her daughter’s site Purple Daisies]

Alex Anderson:  Alex’s TV show Simply Quilts, which never seemed long enough to me but which introduced me to many new concepts and techniques piqued my interest.  Now she and Ricky Tims and their families and colleagues produce The Quilt Show, which has provided me with a huge amount of teaching through the shows, the classes, and the access to other quilters online.

Nancy Zieman: Over the years I have watched every Sewing with Nancy episode I could find and have bought a number of her dvds and books.  I improved my basic sewing skills from her teaching.

Diane Gaudynski: 
Diane is relatively new in my unmet masters.  I bought a couple of her books on machine quilting using a domestic sewing machine and they helped me to vastly improve my quilting. She helped me to realize I don’t have to have a long arm machine to do high-end quilting.

Laura Wausalowski, who I took a workshop from a couple of years back and she taught me how much fun quilting should be and how to improve my fusible applique.

Recently, I have developed a lot of interest in the techniques that are used by Caryl Bryer Fallert, which, remarkably, closely relate to many of my favorite methods, though our quilt subjects are so different and she, of course is the master, and I am just an explorer at this point.

Pepper Cory, from whom I have taken several workshops and with whom have an ongoing friendship.  Now Pepper is mostly a hand quilter, but her knowledge of quilt history, sense of design, and ability to deal with stencils (and other quilting design sources) have been an enormous help to me in seeing some directions I need to take in my future quilting.

Pat Holly and Sue Nickels, and their books Stitched Raw Edge Applique and Machine Quilting: A Primer of Techniques along with their video appearances on The Quilt Show.  I have only briefly met Sue Nickels at her lecture at The Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival this past February, but they are both such effective teachers that their books and videos have been enormous help in improving my quilts.

Everyone develops their own styles and methods, and often they are a mix of things learned from others…but it’s just wonderful how much is out there today to help us get there and we don’t even HAVE to go to their workshops to get that advantage…though it is much more fun if we can!

Have a great week everyone.

Cheers,

Betty Jo

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