Author Archives: mlwilkie

About mlwilkie

Software Developer, Mother, Wife with keen interest in art, design and crafts of all kinds.

Artist Fundraiser Event @ NCMA

I have been working on transitioning more into being a textile artist lately which involved applying for an artist fellowship, putting a portfolio together, an artist statement, resume and thinking about pieces and project for a submission for a show.  I have to admit that I have had to think differently depending on event or application (below an example of one portfolio). It’s been a good process so far.

I also need more exposure as an artist and not just as a quilter. So, I decided to apply to participate in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s largest fundraiser event – Monster Drawing Rally. The museum is not big like the MET or SFMOMA but it is prominent in North Carolina. I was so thrilled that my portfolio was well received and I was given one of the seventy-five spots to participate.

The fundraiser was a 3 hour event where there were 3 shifts of artists. Twenty-five in each. Each artist had 50 minutes to produce one or more pieces (up to 4), no bigger than 11 x 17 inches. All pieces were sold for $50 and were “raffled” off.

I did prepare for the event and narrowed things down to 3 designs, worked on measurements up front and made sure I packed all the fabric, small iron and sewing machine. And yes, I was going to produce a stitched piece (not quilted) in 50 mins.

I was asked to be on in the last hour (8-9pm) which allowed me time to get food and walk around and see other folks. The Meltdown food truck made the best sandwiches and we had a great view of NCMA’s Ann and Jim Goodnight Park while we waited.

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Luckily, Nancy from @nancy_purvis, a friend and  a veteran (she also participated last year) was at the event too. She helped calm my nerves a little before the event and we were at the same table. She was on the hour before me stitching with paper.

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I was so nervous when my time came up. I set-up and got a good layout with the design on the left top, then below the cutting station, sewing machine in the middle and iron on the right. The pressure was amazing, I mean I have to produce something right there with people watching and asking questions.  Immediate lessons learned….Bring marketing (business cards etc) so people can walk away with your details and have a way to reach you later, precut what you can and change out the blade of your rotary cutter.

I worked on a blue and white minimalist piece. I made sure I did not rush, as I wanted a good quality piece. I thought it turned out well. The only thing I did not like was once I stitched it to paper it dragged the fabric slightly. Next time, I would use interfacing before stitching to the backing paper.

Once the piece was finished, it was place in a bag with two dots (red and green…meaning green was still available and this was removed once sold, leaving just the red). It was then walked to the “auction area” and folks opted in and pulled raffle tickets…highest number won. Below were all the folks that were bidding on my piece. Friends (as I was still in the artist area) reported back like 8-10 people were bidding!!!

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I was so thankful it sold straight away!! I was able to get a quick picture with me and the final pieces before leaving. fullsizeoutput_ff5

Below was the picture that is cataloged in the NCMA’s event. They sent out an image to every artist of all their pieces that were sold. I thought that was really nice. I think they will even connect you with the buyer once they get all the details collected. fullsizeoutput_fe8

I would definitely participate again next year as it was so much fun. It was great to see other artists. I hope my nerves are better the second time around as I would like to enjoy the other artists and the event more.

Outskirts of Denver {a finish}

I always love looking out the window when flying. There are so many interesting patterns you can see from above. I was on a trip flying into Denver when I saw this intersection of roads and was fascinated by the simplicity and space.

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The next day, I immediately started putting a design into fabric. I love the blue hue in the black of Kona Pepper and then the mix of white would be perfect to represent the simplicity, minimalism of the arial. This mini quilt top came together quickly, one afternoon of Sewtopia.

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Unfortunately due to other deadlines, the top went on the WiP pile though I had ideas for quilting already. Finally, when I picked it back up in July, I realized I wanted to make some changes. To keep the simplicity, I decided to move the curved line on the left and leave it negative space. Also, I had missed one of the lines coming off the vertical line, and wanted to have it in the design. Adding it as stitched ghost-like line seemed the perfect solution to the miss.

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For the quilting, I loved the idea of using various directional and spacing straight lines to represent neighborhoods or property boundary lines. In the end the texture of the quilting is amazing.

Lastly, I decided to face bind the quilt and not add a standard binding. One due to the size of the quilt but also to keep the minimal and simple look of the quilt. I really enjoyed the process of this one and how it turned out. I am hoping to enter it at QuiltCon later this year.

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Details

Name : Outskirts of Denver
Design:
 Original Design
Fabric: Kona Cotton (Pepper, White)
Binding: Carolyn Friedlander (Faced)
Backing: Neutral Scraps
Dimensions: 19 x 22.5 in.
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil , using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines various directions and spacing

Spliced {a finish}

You never know when inspiration will strike. The family and I were on vacation at Lake Powell (AZ) and the carpet of the hotel caught my eye. I immediately had an idea for making this into a quilt. I just was not sure how.

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I subscribed to three magazines, Selvedge (textile based magazine), Quiltfolk (quilting community and connection) and Uppercase Magazine (arts and crafts). I love Selvedge  as it has amazing color palettes, and this issue (in photo) inspired the palette of peach, bronze, blue and greys.

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When revisiting the carpet inspiration, I thought they looked like broken Half-Square Triangles (HST). Experimentation with a column of HSTs and cutting them into threes of different widths was where I started. I shuffled the thirds, varying the placement and added filler strips to give this broken look.

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I was really pleased how it turned out and liked how the bits of color in the filler blocks could lend itself to a shift/transition between colors, especially thinking from light to dark.  I decided to take advantage of the transition affect in the mini quilt,  adding movement in the quilt.

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This finished mini was perfect for a gift/swap for a friend, and its so good to know that it has a good home.

Details

Name : Spliced
Design:
 Original Design,
Fabric: Painters Palette Solids, Paint Brush Studio’s
Binding: Painters Palette Solids, Paint Brush Studio’s
Backing: Gleaned, Carolyn Friedlander
Dimensions: 22 x 18 in.
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil , using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines on the 45 degree diagonal with opposing overlapping lines in the center (1/2″ apart).

Spark to Design {#spark2design}

I am fascinated by what people miss seeing and experiencing on a daily basis. We all too often get stuck in a routine and distracted by our electronic, social media-based world. What details are we missing by not taking the time to really see and experience those things around us. I believe that with practice and intention, we can be inspired by patterns and design elements in objects we see or events we experience, every day. By seeing with intent, you could see the layered geometric designs of the concrete overpass structs, or the lines the bottom of a bamboo steamer or the unique pattern the moonlight casts through a window.

You can understand then, why my favorite part of making quilts is the design process of the quilt and then actually making that design into a quilt top. My typical process is finding elements in the world around me, photographing that image (the spark) and then creating a quilt design from that image. I love finding the geometry in things I see and looking at those individual elements and creating a design purely from one or two of the elements… breaking things down to the minimal components.

When I design and explore the elemental components, there are typically several editing and modification steps between the spark to final design. If I design on my computer instead of paper there are typically more iterations.

Let’s walk through a couple of spark to design processes that have been done using computer software. Note: I use Quilt Canvas which is a subscription based web tool.

Bridge

My friends and I were out for a drive at dusk in Nashville in February. I was in the passenger front side and as we went back to our apartment, we went under a bridge. I loved the arches and contrasting colors from the evening lights and the evening sky. As we drove this was the spark I captured through the car’s open window.

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Fascinated by the arches and how they look stacked this was the first design which I really liked where this was going but the left bottom arch just kind of hung in nowhere.

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To continue the eye fully to the edge I extended the second arch through to the edge which I really liked but it still had the issue of the lower arch hanging in no mans land.

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So what would happen if I joined the lines for the second and first arch in that bottom left corner. I loved the connecting lines and how they gave a little more flow and connectivity to the design.

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Yes, I liked this but I think we needed to have less negative space in that corner, so I dragged those connecting lines down to fill the bottom left corner.

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Now that the design was what I was looking for what if I played with the colors. I loved the color palette which was inspired by the palette of the photo. I think the additions of the orange and the red-brown adds interest and has a great 60s vibe.

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This was the final design. Yet to be made but is on my to do list (which is rather long).

Carriage

This year I went to Marrakesh, Morocco with Amy Butler and Valori Wells. It was one of the most amazing and inspiring trips. The color and tile work everywhere was mind blowing. In one of our shopping adventures, Valori and I explored an alley behind some of the craftsman shops. At the back there was this old carriage. The geometry of the rectangles and curves captured my eye, those shapes just fascinated me.

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First design was looking at the elements in the carriage, the rectangles of the stair like top, the curve of the undercarriage, then the rectangles of the body. I also had one that included the semi circle within the undercarriage curve but before I even saved the design I removed it as it just created additional noise.

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After the first design I questioned whether the curve was needed in the design, so I removed it. I really think that this was more due to the color I chose within that grey scale.

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Deciding that the curve needed to be part of the design I added it back but played with other areas trying to get a better balance between the greys to make the curve more part of the design.

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Finally, deciding that it was really the coloring was throwing the design off. I went to a pure two color design – red and white. I also made a couple of other simplifications:

  • Removed the use of borders vs. filled rectangles on the top stair portion. I kept all the rectangles as solid shapes.
  • Removed the second rectangle on the left side and representing this now by the lines and negative space
  • I also moved the design over to the right, extending those rectangles and lines on the left column.

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Again, wanting to make sure the curve was a good fit I removed it but decided to add it back, as I really like that curve. It was the core element that pulled me in originally.

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So, lastly after adding the curve, I shortened the line that was on the left that represents the edge of the missing rectangle. I liked the balance of this line and it stopping just over 1/2 way gave it interest, a hint that there is something in that space. It no longer creates a firm outline.

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Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to answer anything around design/quilt design.

Community {Part III – Giving Back}

Giving back to one’s community, to me, is the most important things you can do for your community. There are lots of was to give back to your community and it does not always involve money.

Last year, North Carolina went through a couple of terrible hurricanes that left areas devastated. Some folks are still without homes and belongings. As this is in my backyard I felt compelled to contribute in some way. I have donated several clothes, kitchenware and bedding already. My favorite contributions though, that I recently finished, are  two quilts that were donated to Carolina Hurricane Quilt Project.

The first project is using Denyse Schmidt’s Ocean Wave quilt pattern. I started with a 100 charm pack of various Kaffe Fassett fabrics, and 3 solid charm packs that I had received in conference goodies. The HST laid out beside each other were a little saturated for me so the extra negative space in the ocean waves pattern was perfect. I am not a huge fan of the prints but I loved how it turned out. I know it will be treasured by its new owner too.

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The other quilt was an UFO that I had lying around for a couple of years. It was originally designed for a back but I decided it was better as a quilt top. I made it slightly larger by adding blue border. I think it would be such a fun kids quilt.

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Both quilts were quilted by Cary Quilting Company which is also the place to drop off and donate quilts for #Carolinahurricanequiltproject.

There are many groups that you can join that are all about giving quilts to charity.

Making quilts or quilt blocks for quilts to donate are one way to give back to your community, however there are many other ways to give back as well. Here are other some ideas for thought:

Volunteer

One of the things I hear from several guilds and groups is how hard it is to get volunteers. Time is one of the easiest things you can give to your community, even if its just an hour here or there. Opportunities with you group or guild could include:

  • An event – manning a booth or for setup / take down
  • Bringing refreshments
  • Organizing an activity – like a swap
  • Join a committee or a board

One of my favorite things to do is to volunteer for events that nurture other people’s interest in the activity that  I love (in this case, quilting). For example, this weekend, the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild hosted a booth at the NC Museum of History to support the Quilt Speak Exhibit. The booth highlighted Modern Quilting and had a couple of machines and fabric there, so folks (the public) can make an improvisation block. A way of learning some modern quilting techniques and promoting participation, a great conduit for community interaction. We even had people trying sewing for the first time.

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Education Opportunities

Education is so important in today’s societies. Art and hand skills are missing in many schools today, and I think people are missing the ability to express themselves, become creative thinkers, or see | understand other views. Some options here include volunteering at your local schools (or your kids school), or at local community centers, Local guilds or art centers.

For any of these think about:

  • A talk you could do (also gives you a chance for public speaking)
  • A Program (like a tutorial of a technique)
  • Join a group that supports outreach programs to schools or teens
  • Or run an after school program at your local school.

I am hoping over the next year to either help out with an existing outreach program or start one for kids and teens. I would like to teach sewing basics, quilting basics and design elements. I will let you know how this goes.

Donations

Don’t forget many art programs are working on grants. If you have left over supplies that you don’t know what to do with, think about donating it to an art program. I donate everything from instructional or art books, glue, paper, pens, fabric, sewing notions etc.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask what the organization needs as they may have specific program in mind. For example, one group needed a couple of Gees Bend books as they were studying them that year.

Those were my ideas and things I have tried. I would love to hear how you give back. I am always looking for new opportunities and ways to give back or participate in my community.

Other Community Posts in this series:
Community {Introduction – Part I}
Community {Group Activity – Part II}

 

 

 

 

Playing with Large Scraps {creative journey}

I have been in a somewhat creative rut since November or so, however I have recently discovered Stanley Whitney’s work. He had his work on display at Lisson Gallery in New York, and has a unique style where his pieces use large colored painted areas represented in rows.

Then one day, friends and I were talking about these larger scraps we had and how fun it would be to use those scraps to make quick scrappy quilts. These two events then merged in my head. As a result, I have been playing with a series of ideas.

The first was to take Stanley Whitney’s idea and explore the concept to fabric. I used the yellow fabric as anchor, to draw people in and follow it down. My favorite parts to this was introducing the strip fabric and also that interaction with the lighter blue scrap along the first row sashing and green triangle in the pink.

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“Whitney” (~55″ x 60″)

The next one, I wanted to explore using all neutrals with a couple of splashes of color, in the sashing (yellow and the red linen print). I enjoyed the use of various fabric substrates in this one – linen, cottons, denim’s and flour sacks.

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“Stanley” (~50″ x 55″)

This last and most recent piece was taking the original concept but making a piece truly me. The colors I had left over, were almost rainbow like. I liked keeping the like colors together and forming these blocks. I used a linen from Robert Kaufman as sashing and I really enjoyed how this worked within this piece.  These the blocks of color and sashing I think help the eye move around the piece.

The hardest part of this quilt was deciding on the middle, it definitely took several trials, photo’s and text to friends for opinions. In the end, I had some striped class samples I use in my Improvisation class that when placed up on the design wall, I immediately knew this was the center. The center in its very neutral but smaller piecing, centers the piece – couldn’t be happier.

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“Study III” (~60″ x 70″)

These were such fun exercises and the tops came together in a day. I am out of my creative rut but not my finishing rut….these pieces still need quilting. Sigh. I will need to get this done soon though as these will be samples for my upcoming QuiltCon class “PIE003 Scrap Diving”. 

So, (the plug :-))…..if you are in a creative rut or have lots of larger scraps (say up to a fat eighth) or want to create a quick quilt – sign up for my class. The QuiltCon catalog is available here and registration starts end of June.

 

 

 

Tread {a finish}

The design for this quilt, Tread, was originally created as part of an article for the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) on finding elements and designing a quilt. I was lucky enough to be asked to make it a realty, using a specific color palette in Moda’s Bella Solids. This quilt is now available as a pattern to MQG members as part of Modern Monthly, and will be the feature quilt for June.

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Photo Courtesy of The Modern Quilt Guild (Photographer: Austin Day, Stylist: Lauren Day)

The original inspiration was this cog and spoke machinery, that I had captured at the Shantytown Heritage Park a couple of years ago. I was fascinated by the arrows of the cogs, to think that these interlock and make something move… just loved the pattern and shapes.

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Not my usual color palette but I grew to love this supplied color palette (Rust, Coral, Teal with backing and binding fabric Zen Chic’s Day in Paris). The batting was also supplied by Quilter’s Dream which I had not used before but really enjoyed the low loft. The quilting was done in 50wt Aurifil 2420 (light Coral color). I shadowed the zigzag and used some extra ghosting in areas for interest. In the larger negative space areas, I just used vertical 1/2 in. straight line quilting.

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Photo Courtesy of The Modern Quilt Guild (Photographer: Austin Day, Stylist: Lauren Day)

I was so pleased when the MQG posted the pics of this project, for:

  1. I was finally finished with the quilt. I had stitched this quilt in a period of a creative block and in midst of over commitment with craziness at work, additional travel and prepping for teaching my first time at QuiltCon. It was such a relief to see this done
  2. The staged pictures that the MQG produced (see captions of photos for photography and stylist) were just amazing. I mean look at the wall and how much it makes this quilt pop !!! Amazing!!

As I marked my quilt with chalk, I had to give a spin in the washing machine and dry it. I love that finish crinkly look of this piece.

Details

Name : Tread
Design:
 Original Design, Inspired by Cogs
Fabric: Moda Fabrics, Bella Solids – Rust, Coral and Teal
Binding: Moda Fabrics, Zen Chic, Day in Paris (Teal)
Dimensions: 60 x 60 in.
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil 2420 (Coral), using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines.