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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Book Project: Group {a finish}

As part of my book, I want to show people how to work together as a group designing a quilt. So, I have a couple of projects that highlight a couple of ways of doing that. The first group project is all finished and counts as my last finish of 2018.

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I had some amazing people contributed. A big thank you to all those that volunteered.

Lynne @monkeyneedle
Paige @quiltedblooms
Tania @iamgingerq
Nicole @mamalovequilts
Sophie @lunalovequilts
Jenn @jennrodriguez1
Melissa @meliherboth
Louise @imfeelincrafty
Valerie @valbetweenquilts
Rebecca @creativeblockquilts
Abigail @cutandalter
Sharon @sharonhollanddesigns

Check out who made what on my instagram feed (@ml_wilkie).

Once I received the blocks I decided that I did not want them all straight and very grid like, and wanted to add some wonkiness. This was accomplished with the sashing between blocks. The other thing I decided I wanted to do was add a color key of the palette used in the quilt. This was accomplished with the flying geese addition on the bottom right.

I had decided early on that most of my quilts for my book, I will be paying for someone else to quilt. It is not my favorite part and if I waited for me to quilt them all, we would never be finished. Luckily, in the quilting community there are lots of people who love this part of quilting. Krishma (from @krishmaquilts) is one such person and does amazing work. I have watched Krishma on social media grow over the last few years and her quilting skills are impressive. I asked her to quilt this one for me. She did an amazing job.

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Lastly, the binding I added was to ground and frame the quilt. Navy blue was an obvious choice, however, this particular C+S print was perfect. I loved the grid look but the small  surprises were in the colors that matched the quilt…white and pink/coral. A perfect finish.

Details

Name : ??? still needs a name – open to suggestions. 
Design:
 Design as a group
Fabric: Defined color palette use of solids and prints; whatever was in stash
Binding: C+S
Dimensions: 
Quilted: By Krishma from Krishma Quilts

The quilt is done but I don’t have a name for it. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment?

 

 

 

Park Lamps {a finish}

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Photo Credit: Love Patchwork & Quilting #56

Park Lamps was one of my last finishes of 2017. I had a lot of fun with this quilt. Firstly, interpreting the original inspiration of old gas lamps at the Mannheimer Wasserturm in Germany. The gas lamp was used as one of the quilt design a day prompts (sparks) and included the original color palette. I loved the geometry of the triangles in the light.

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My interpretation of this spark, lead to this original Art Deco looking design.
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I was thinking about adding this design to my book but decided that it would be a better fit for a magazine submission. I submitted it to LPQ, and provided options for multiple color palettes to modernize the look of the quilt. This was fun playing with color. I really loved the final color palette (Kona Mint, Kiwi, Peach, Ice Peach and White – purchased from Stash Fabrics) and design (slightly simplified and re-scaled).

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I decided for accuracy, I would (foundation) paper piece this pattern. It involved a lot of repetitive but simple paper piecing. I loved how each of the blocks matched, as it was essential to the secondary design. For the quilting, I wanted to continue to highlight the secondary diamond shape the triangles made, so I used straight lines echoing that shape. I am very pleased with the finish.

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Photo Credit: Love Patchwork & Quilting #56

Details

Name (Original): Park Lamps
Name (LPQ): Fruit Punch
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Kona Cotton (Mint, Kiwi, White, Peach, Ice Peach)
Backing: Carolyn Friedlander wideback – green
Binding: Lecien striped fabric
Dimensions:  60 x 60″
Quilted: Echoed Straight Lines (domestic sewing machine)

 

Insights, goals and plan for 2018

2017….what to say about it?? I struggled to find the time for the quilting projects I wanted to do. I wish I could say that I didn’t mind…but it was frustrating. I understandably had to prioritize with travel, work, and life. I commited to spending time with my son and working through my stress/feelings that was compounded with my Mum loosing her battle with cancer.

We all go through our life journeys. I always try to learn from my experiences. This year, I learnt that:

  • Work-life balance is important to me and will be a focus in 2018.
  • I am more productive with deadlines in place (usually imposed by other people).
  • I really enjoyed giving back to the community.

Looking back on the year, I am proud of the accomplishments that I did make; including my two favorite finishes, New York Highline and San Francisco Bustle.

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New York Highline

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San Francisco Bustle

I think the biggest accomplishment that I achieved this year was selling 3 quilts to a corporate art curator. This has opened my mind to actually thinking I can sell as an artist and has opened doors that I am looking forward to explore more.

Overall, I meet my goals that I made at the beginning of the year. I was pleasantly surprised by this as I wasn’t sure I had.

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Fabric Postcards sent to Instagram friends

  • Be more engaged with a wider quilting community: My most favorite thing this year was to create and send fabric postcards. I had a bit of a bump in the road with these as my Mum got really sick and then passed away. This delayed shipping and left some incomplete. I have not blogged as much but I have stayed in touch mostly on Instagram (ml_wilkie)
  • Kept expanding and learning my quilt style: I focused more on minimalism this year (like my two favorite quilts) and have loved the results. I now need to decide if I want to keep my work expanding across multiple techniques and also multiple avenues (commercial as in magazines, or more textile art).
  • Teach more quilt classes this year: This year I have taught my quilt design class (2x), Improvisation: Lines and Shapes (3x) and Hand-stitched blocks on the go (1). I loved teaching and want to do more.
  • Submit quilts to one or more Quilt shows: I entered quilts both into QuiltCon and AQS again this year which saw all my quilts juried in.

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    Quilt publication from Love Patchwork and Quilting #52

  • Work on a couple of magazine submissions and additional content submissions: I was super lucky this year as I had to quilts patterns, and a couple of articles for the MQG. I also have two quilts in Love Patchwork & Quilting this year as well….with one coming out this week sometime. I also had quilts curated into QuiltCon 2017 magazine,  the first issue of Curated Quilts and the MQG’s book “Modern Quilts”. I enjoy having these projects with deadlines as it keeps me moving forward…I have no choice if I get in a creative slump but to power through and deliver.
  • Release a few more quilt patterns. Start with the previously released magazine submissions: The only goal I did not accomplish this year was the release of more quilt patterns.

For 2018, my goals are a little different based on what I learned this year, and the fact I created a business for my quilting exploits.

Work – Life Balance:

  • I need to work on what needs to be in my life….I need to eat healthier and start exercising at least 3 times a week, for example. I need to find better avenues to manage that stress.
  • I want to commit, twice a month, to doing a weekend family activity. I have been tracking some of these activities on my other Instagram account [ml.wilkie_adventures]
  • Challenge my creativity by allowing myself a project a month that is not related to deadlines. Have fun with friends in doing these challenges.
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Triangle MQG Charity Quilt (in-progress shot)

Giving back to the community is important to me:

  • Complete and/or contribute to at least three charity quilts.
  • Do my best as MQG Board Representative. I want to commit at least 12 hours a month.
  • Do another round of fabric postcards (with a goal of 2 per month).
  • I want to give back to the community with an Instagram give-away once a month of my favorite things.
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Broken Trellis Quilt Project for my upcoming book

Manage my productivity:

  • Finish my quilt book ready for publishing. This means finishing 8-12 projects and  an introduction; editing, designing and photography for these projects.
  • Complete 3-4 magazine submission or published.
  • Release 2-3 patterns and look into opportunities to publish patterns to print.
  • Track my projects monthly to see how they are going (like I have done in the past).

Put some focus on my new business (“Idea+Design+Create+Quilt”):

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Business Logo (designed myself + Melissa Herboth)

  • Put a business plan together with some goals.
  • Need to work on getting income into my business. Start with what I make income with today – magazine publications, pattern sales and teaching. I hope to make around $5,000 – $10,000.
  • Submit my work for an art show in my local area. I have been wanting to do this for a while and I am ready to sell some of the pieces.
  • Create new pieces and how to sell as art. Does that mean continue selling to corporations (they need larger pieces) or do I also cater to those that want art pieces  in their houses. Can it be both?
  •  Branding…Textile Artist, yes…Modern Quilting, yes…but do I keep with both improvisational and minimalistic pieces? or focus on one? Does this impact my business?

I have a lot of unanswered questions on the business side but I am on this journey to learn and see where it takes me.  I am sure, I will have stuff not happen but I do a pretty good job on not worrying too much about changing direction if needing too. It is always good to get some of this down and think through some pieces.

Good Luck, Happy New Year, and a warm welcome 2018!!

Linking up with Yvonne @QuiltingJetGirl 2018 Planning Party.

 

Book journey {an intro}

I thought I would start sharing my journey on writing and self-publishing a quilt book with you all. I am not sure whether this is will be a successful activity or whether it will be unsuccessful, at this point. I have always been curious about what people go through along this journey, what worked and what didn’t.

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#Swingin30sMedallion

Each month, I would love to share with you how it is going, answer any questions you might etc. here on my blog (that is if I can). You can also follow progress of projects on Instagram with #ideadesigncreatequilt or via my account @ml_wilkie.

So…..

Let’s start with an introduction of some of the initial ideas, decisions and steps so far.

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#BrokenTrellisQuilt

What is the book about?

The book will be about designing your own quilts and what that entails. It also include quilt projects that you can make and shown in the images here (in various stages).

Why did I choose to self-publish a book?

I decided to self-publish for three main reasons.

  1. Schedule: I needed to work with my schedule which is not predictable. With the events of this year, I needed to be in control when I could commit time and effort.
  2. Sharing: I wanted to be able to share the progress of the book and the quilt projects along the way. This way I can get feedback from you all and incorporate that into the book/projects.
  3. Layout & Design: I had pre-conceived notions on how this book would look. I wanted it to be visually stimulating and modern.

I am currently thinking of publishing via the amazon company – CreateSpace.  CreateSpace works based on a print ondemand model, meaning that once a book is ordered, it is then printed.  There is no need to keep inventory. The royalities for each book sold via amazon is appealing. They will distribute the book for you too, to companies such as Barnes and Noble but the royalities are much lower.

I am not tied in yet, I have had thoughts of finding my own printers as I have some unique features I want to include in the book. This would not fit with the “standard” style of CreateSpace options. I would then need to find a distributor myself and take on the printing costs of an upfront run.

What are your thoughts?? You’ll see more on this as the project comes to fruition.

What were some of the first steps I took?

  • Knowing my skills (and limits) I knew I would need help from a Graphic Designer and a Technical Editor. I reached out and secured those resources.
  • Used a Lawyer who specializes in publishing to get a contract in place for the graphic design and editor services.
  • Set up a meeting and shared ideas with my Graphic Designer and Editor.
  • A mind map of the ideas to help with layout and what could be in what chapter.
  • Selected initial set of projects that may be included in the book.
  • Created a rough project timeline | project plan
  • Organized a group project with contributors which included them sending blocks to me, a waiver and inclusion notes in the book.
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#IdeaDesignCreate_Group

What time frames did I have in mind?

My initial time frame was to launch the book at Fall Market 2017. That has now moved twice to Fall Market 2018. Over the Christmas break, I plan to update my initial project plan with Fall Market 2018 as a key target date.

How are you committing to the project?

I have been really frustrated with all things that are slowing me down. This year has been a little start and stop for me as a quilter for many reasons. Like many of us, I have had to deal with life getting in the way of my plans. It can be as simple as trying to keep up with the daily schedule, or to provide care | assistance | time to an ailing family member who lives across the other side of the world, or to a full-time job demanding more time. This project has had to take a back seat, somewhat.

I did find that if I had other project deadlines (ie. magazine submissions etc) it helped me prioritize and manage my time better. I hope to spend a good portion of December working on getting 2-3 projects off to quilters.

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#ManicuredGardensQuilt

Anyway….Thank you for stopping by, I hope this will be useful for folks. Let me know if you have any questions or topics you are interested in or if you have any advice to share.  Would love to hear from you!!