Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rubber-Stamped Adverb Quilt for Better Blogging

Writing a quilt blog over the past three years has brought me so many non-monetary riches, including:

1. Quilty cyberfriends

2. Increased production. A lame finished quilt that I can photograph for my blog is better than a lame UFO* that I can't show anyone, crammed into my Scary Shelf.

3. Shorter prose. My first year of blog entries were long. Now they're relative semaphores. This may be due to increased practice, laziness, dementia, or all three.

While musing on #3 one day, I happened across a quotation by novelist Stephen King, whose scary books I can't read, but whose writing advice rocks:

"The road to hell," he said, "is paved with adverbs."

It struck such a chord that I decided to make it into a quilt:
So** TRUE! My spoken language is completely full of words like completely, literally, practically, and the cliche of my adopted state, the dreaded California 'totally.' On my second and third blog edits, I've learned to slash 'em, not to mention the very's and deeply's.

In researching this quilt, I plowed through** an exhausting yet non-comprehensive list of 3732 adverbs, and used the ones I most hate to love (and vice versa), sometimes on related fabric.

 I scattered scissors, delete buttons, and backspace buttons.




The last adverb in the maze is "ultimately," on a background which appears to be burning. 
There's novelty fabric galore. The "All That" faces were from a  strange thrift shop shirt.

Now**, don't panic, like DH did when he saw this quilt. "What's wrong with adverbs?" he demanded defensively. "I use them all the time! Should I feel guilty**?"

No, honey, not exactly guilty, I said, understandingly soothingly. I'm just saying that basically, anyone's writing will vastly improve if they scrutinize each word closely to see whether they really need it. On a tight deadline, scrutinize the adverbs, first**.

As for the technicalities - the words are, of course, rubber-stamped. There were too many to embroider, or cut out and applique individually. Adverbs tend to be ridiculously long - "ridiculously" has 12 letters,  "understandably" has 14 and, although I love it, "unconditionally" has 15.  (Update: I'm also excited to report that "unenthusiastically" has 18.) Rubber stamping brings its own drama, with a personal 25% fail rate, so I always** prefer to** stamp the fabric pieces before the quilt top is assembled.  I used Staz-on ink for permanence.

I was torn about whether to add this little guy.
I finally put him on, on the upper right.
Let me reiterate that I don't actually believe that adverbs are Satan's spawn, and I doubt Stephen King does, either. While writing this blog entry, it occurred to me that adverbs are more like dandelions. A few are fun, but a ton are a nuisance. So the last thing I added was this dandelion, to the top panel.
I attributed the quotation along the bottom - it says "Quotation by Stephen King," followed by more favorites.
Which adverbs haunt you?  

*Unfinished Object
**Unusual adverb. Really. Which ones did I miss?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Addressing Wrinkles, in Fabric

As you may recall from a recent post, I spent Christmas stripping and cheating, in a moralistic sort of way. One of the things I made from leftovers was this:
What does this quilt mean? Maybe nothing, or maybe it had something to do with wrinkles and aging. It's easy to get this far on a quilt. But if you're experiencing adult-onset hyperembellishment disorder, as I am, you need to go further. The next phase took a lot longer:
Vintage pink buttons went in the four corners of the top rectangle. I couched Valdani variegated pearl cotton in the borders. This means that I unspooled the thread and then took conspicuous, primitive stitches at random intervals to hold it down:
I think it looks like sutures. That was an accident.

Next step was to bring it to Starbucks to show my friend Linda, who is as great with accents as she is at finding meaning in random textiles. Linda is also quite the storyteller, and told me about something the distinguished 20th century Russian actress Madame Eugenie Leontovich is supposed to have said  "Dahlink, my wrinkles are my credentials."

Eureka! So I couched this line of beading horizontally to the top, alternating plastic black-and-white letter beads with white glass beads.
(it says 'lines and wrinkles') 
And along the bottom: 

('are my credentials')

I gave the mod person in the middle an alphabetized crow's foot.
In conclusion, my friends, it's a lot safer and cheaper to work out angst about aging with sewing machine stitches, as opposed to plastic surgeon sutures.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Quilting Paris: Make Art, Not War

Of course I am supposed to be working on something else entirely, but the events of last week in Paris are very much on my mind. While plowing through one of my fabric stash boxes looking for a quilt  backing, I came across this.
It looked at me, and I looked at it. Of course, being a news junkie, it made me think of the Charlie Hebdo massacre on January 7. 

In the very same storage box, I had also flipped past some Eiffel Tower fabric.

So the next thing you know, whatever it was I was working on was abandoned, and I frantically made this: 

Over the next few days, in l'esprit d'escalier (shoulda, woulda) I corrected the French (thanks, Paula!) added some faceted black glass beads, a round fleur-de-lis badge, and a bottle of pseudo-Maneschewitz, the latter to memorialize those murdered in a kosher grocery store. 
The lettering and the badge are rubber stamped; the rest are commercial fabrics. 

The typewriter looks a lot like the one my father, a writer, used for most of his life. Several of the cartoonists killed were of my Dad's generation. It's extraordinary to think about their decades of provocative and irreverent speech and political satire. 

If you make art about Charlie Hebdo, I'd love to see it. 

UPDATE: Jean wrote me to suggest I look at the new cover of the New Yorker. It's even more succinct. 




Sunday, January 4, 2015

Striving to Dehoard Extra Challah Covers

I rarely sell my premade quilts - most of my sales are commissions - but a few weeks ago a cyberfriend asked if I have any challah (Sabbath bread) covers available for quick purchase, which forced me to do something I've long feared: Go through my stack of quilted challah covers, figure out the ones I would be willing to sell,

 It's so hard - I get attached. So I made myself come up with a pile of 10, and photographed each one for her. Your job: Guess which one she bought. (I don't expect you to buy one. Really, I know you can make your own.) First:
The leaves are cut from a seperate fabric and appliqued to the dark blue background. It took many, many hours.

The next two were early prototypes for my Log Cabin challah cover pattern: Hand beaded with large purple and gold beads, hand painted (the lettering) Heavily quilted. 16.75" x 16.75". The words are the blessing over the challah.
 The words are outline quilted and painted with gold metallic paint. The challot are echo quilted.

Next one is made from the same pattern. Tiny seed beads, gold and holographic purple, embellish the challot.  (Purple for regular raisins, gold for golden raisin). It's 18" x 18".
The letters are outline stitched with a variegated purple/turquoise thread, then filled in with gold metallic thread. This is NOT done with an embroidery machine - I don't have one - it's all hand-guided, and boy did it take a lot of time to do neatly. I think this was the last time I ever did that.
This next one is more of a mat than a challah cover. 20" x 15"

Quilted with emanating holographic and variegated threads.


This  next one is stencilled - "Who brings forth bread from the earth," in Hebrew and English. It was made while developing my Whole Wheat Challah Cover pattern (scroll down a bit on the page). Background is hand painted, with sun-sensitive paints; then exposed to sun created the dark areas on the front. Heavily quilted. Multicolored yarn trim. 22" x 24".

 Here's the same stencil, but the central wheat is not done in reverse. It's heavily hand-embellished with embroidery stitches and French knots.The background is hand-painted. It's 21.5" x 18". There's une boo boo with the paint in the upper left corner, tragically. 

 Very simple - Shabbat on one side...

Chanukah on the other, 19" x 17" plus 1.5" fringe all the way around.
This is a small mat, probably works better going under a wine cup than over a challah. It's 13" in diameter.  It's heavily quilted and hand embellished with unusual buttons and green lace.

Very traditional. Pieced star, extensively quilted with holographic and gold threads, with the words "Shabbat v'yom Tov" (Shabbat and Holidays) quilted into the white side strips. 20.5" x 14" .



Next, a harvest challah cover, using the same wheat stencils shown above. It's hand painted, stamped, and stencilled,
...and very heavily quilted. The colors are muted, more like the above photo than below. 18" x 15 1/2" plus 2" beaded trim all the way around. 

Can you guess which one she bought? I bet you can. She immediately bought the first one, traditional and elaborate. I had to fold up all the rest and put them back in their boxes. That was a bit of a bummer, after I'd already mentally said goodbye.

Do you have a favorite way of selling your overstock? 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Spent Christmas Stripping and Cheating

I spent Christmas Day (and the following two days) plunging into my scrap stash, stripping and cheating.

Strip piecing, that is. And also, cheating by turning old leftover strip sets into something new.

The first step was to unlatch the Suitcase of Terror, which holds my scraps. The pile immediately sproinged upwards, like a voracious vampire emerging from its coffin after a long day in June:

I pulled out a bunch of long strips, and sewed them together.

This creation did not inspire me. In fact, it bummed me out. So I continued digging through the ever-growing pile. (Scrap stashes are like egg whites - the more you stir them, the bigger and fluffier they get).

I found a leftover set from the back of a bat mitzvah pillow I'd made recently (blogged here:
). 
I eliminated some strips, and cut the piece to 8" x 8" . Then I added three real rocks (actually, two rocks and a piece of beach glass, set among the rocks at bottom), a plastic fish from an old necklace, a brass eagle charm (upper right), and an old key. It seems to be a seascape! 'Fish Seeks Key to Life, Bird Seeks Fish.'
Heavily influenced by the rock and ocean theme, I pulled out some more strips, and this went together quickly.
I'm thinking it's called, 'Some of my Best Friends are Angels,' or maybe, 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot, On a Japanese Beach.' That light blue fabric with the floating people is supposed to be sweet and celebratory, but it also does look a bit to me like they've all been shot in the heart. (Are those red dots supposed to be cherries? Why?) The dark-blue-and-white fabrics are traditional Japanese designs. 

(UPDATE: Thanks to an alert reader who recognized these figures as copies from Matisse's 'Fall of Icarus.' [Scroll down on this page.] The fabric selvage doesn't mention the Matisse connection at all! Is that legal?)

Plowing through the pile more, I found some 1"strip sets in black and white, left over from a gift I'd made a dear friend. (I called that piece 'Chiarascuro,' blogged here
)
I turned the already-sewn-together strips into this:
Which I set on a white quilted background: 
 Final (maybe):
It's a meditation on life. At the moment, I'm calling it  'Lines, Circles, and Pouches are Suddenly Appearing Around my Eyes.' 

Finally, I found another set of white/cream/light blue strips made from a tallit case I'd made for my son 7 years ago. The narrow strips surrounded the flap in that project:
I took the already-joined strips strips, added some triangular leafy fabric I found in my stash, a strip of birch tree fabric, new and different rock fabric for the bottom. (I had no idea there was so much rock fabric in my stash. I think people gave it to me. I can't remember ever actually using it.)

It's not clear to me whether the white strips are birch trees or a fence, but either way, I think it's kind of naturey- - and I like it! I set the bottom horizontal strip on backwards, so you can feel the ridges.

So that's what my Christmas Day (plus the following two days) have been like. Are you getting in any creative time this holiday season? Stripping and cheating might work for you!