Friday, April 25, 2008

last thoughts on seminar

It's a rainy morning and I'm packing up to move on. As I reflect on the seminar I realized that I got caught up a bit in cataloging goodies and activities and forgot to mention an important aspect of this gathering. This seminar was called "Threads of Friendship" and everything the committee did was to emphasize this aspect of the event. The often called it a "family reunion." And at each meal the coordinator, Sandi Nicolai, read a quote about friendship. Some were silly and some very poignant. The outgoing Regional Director, Carole DeWitt, was given a lovely friendship sampler, stitched by her board. The raffle cup for a quilt was stuffed by friends of one woman--they bought tickets and put her name on them--and she won to her vast delight. There were parties and gatherings in various rooms, most often between class and dinner.

Like everyone, I tried to find a friend to sit with at meals, but it really didn't matter. If you look like you're looking for a place to sit, people will offer an available place at their table. Everyone around the table introduced themselves, talked about their home area, what classes they were taking and what kind of needlework they liked. Connections were quickly found and people became friends. You're never lonely.

People also wander around the classes looking at their classmate's work. But more, it's acceptable, especially near the end of the day, to quietly walk into most other classes and see what they're up to. It's really interesting.
I will get photos of my works-in-progress and post them next week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's over!

Well, this year's GLR seminar is officially over. I'm whacked! (but happy). Today was more intense stitching on my cricket. I actually completed his wing. I didn't start his body. I want to do more on the leaf he'll be sitting on first. This class is so full of things to learn, my head's still spinning. Teacher Lynn Payette has really cool ways of doing fly stitch, beading, twisted cord, and detached sheer elements. I tried to sample each technique but the day just flew by.

I did a bit of work, got the books updated for the secretary position and passed them on to the new secretary and was generally busy! I stayed far away from the boutique sale and the bookstore.

We had a lovely dinner with the last of the doorprizes and the opportunity basket drawing. I didn't win. I'm not too bummed; I have plenty of goodies to bring home. But there were some lovely prizes. Our favor tonight was a sewing kit in a lipstick tube! It is really cool. I brought my autograph book and had the EGA national president, Carol Dam, sign it, along with some friends.

Two years ago I attended my first regional seminar. I didn't know anyone except for my roommate. Five meetings and two more seminars later, I feel like I really know a lot of these people! I know what kind of stitching they like--I already know several who like exactly the same things I do (because we're in classes together over and over). I know bits and pieces of their lives. I know who's quick and who's not, who's loud and who's very quiet. I've made two friends that I'm already thinking about ways we can get together in between meetings...

I know more about how chapters in other areas manage, what they do, and how they work. I've met a bunch of incredible teachers, too, and not just in class. I've ridden with them in the elevator and sat with them at meals. I've learned about their joys, trials and tribulations, and the other things they do besides teach needlework.

So, I'm sitting here on my last night, exhausted but hyped up with a brain full of new things, wishing it wasn't over but also rather happy it is. I think what I need now is a week here at the hotel, with the same people and shops just to stitch on my projects. A little less driven, more relaxed, more time to chat. Instead I'm heading north to visit a good friend for a day. Which is most likely a good break from the intensity of the last few days. I can't wait to see my friends. And I also can't wait to get home to my sweetie on Saturday. Time to go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Regional Seminar Day Four

I was pretty tired this morning but once I got going all was well. My class with Lynn Payette is more active than my previous class. We spent the day making the background for our cricket (which is really a grasshopper). We fused and then cut and layered sheer fabrics onto canvas to create leaves coming out of water. Endless variations were possible from just a few fabrics you could layer one over another and depending on which was on top, you got very different effects. Or use two layers of the same fabric. Or some you could use the front or the back of the fabric. For a leaf with several colors, you could use different colors for each and then add a layer of one sheer over all. Or not. On some if you changed the direction of the fabric you got a totally different effect.

So we were up and down between our work stations, the ironing board and many demonstrations.

After dinner tonight we had "Merchandise Night." Local shops, groups, and teachers set up tables to sell their wares. I did my part to support the local economy. 'Nuff said.

It's late and I'm very tired. We had so many choices to make in our class today! It was very engaging and most of us had to be prodded to take breaks or leave for meals. I love this stuff. But now I'm feeling it and I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Regional Seminar Day Three

Today was another busy stitching day. First thing this morning I went shopping (how's that for bliss: a well-stocked needlework store around the corner and open at 7 a.m.!!!) I got some brown linen thread for tree trunks and some greens for leaves. The kits had plenty of materials but I wanted more variety and a slightly different color way.
I finished up my tree trunks and began adding branches. After lunch I started adding some leaves. Most of the students also cut out a backing board and painted a background to add even more of sense of distance. I made my piece just a bit too wide and it wouldn't fit well on the precut board. I'll do that when I get home--I watched everyone else and have a pretty good idea of how to do it. We learned how to mount and finish our pieces.
In the middle we had a Really Good lunch (Chicken Teriaki). I don't think I've mentioned it much before but the food here is really good. I hear the coffee is wonderful, too. At lunch we sat with two of our teachers, Lynn Payette and Michele Roberts, and two other teachers who, I believe, will be teaching at next year's seminar.
At the end of class I had the teacher sign my book and my autograph book and I asked my neighbors to also sign my autograph book. The chatter became a bit more general as we packed to leave and I learned more about my new friends.
Tonight was our free night. Many attendees went for a tour and dinner. Instead I had a pleasant drive through the Wisconsin countryside to Mt. Horeb and Witchery Stitchery. The shop extended their hours just for us and I must say I made it worth their while!
I found some Needle Necessity overdyes and DMC Medici wools, both fibers are no longer available. (more or less; I think Medici is still available, just not from DMC in the skeins, and I believe someone may be replicating some of NN's colorways but I'm not sure about either.) I'd never been up to Witchery Stitchery but my used to love to go to Mt. Horeb and the needlework shop. Mt. Horeb looks to be a charming old town with antiques and other interesting shops. I didn't linger because I wanted to find my way back before dark.
Afterward I decided that instead of a late dinner, I would, can you believe this?, exercise. I spent a half-hour jumping, jogging, and being silly in the pool. I dined on a lovely huge orange and almond-butter and rice cakes...not too shabby. Oh, and some Very Good Chocolate that my brother gave me Saturday.
Tomorrow I begin Cricket with Lynn Payette (which is really a grasshopper). Excuse me while I go and fondle my ever growing stash!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Regional seminar day 2

Today was all about stitching. I'm doing Perfect Forest by Catherine Jordan. We got lovely kits with dye-painted linen. We got going promptly and then spent the next three hours withdrawing some threads from the linen and reweaving others. It was tedious and seemingly endless! I was more than ready for the lunch break. It helped that I completed this task just before lunch so I could relax, knowing the hard part was over.

This afternoon we began to create our forest on the remaining fabric threads. We used needleweaving to fashion the tree trunks and branches. Catherine's techniques allowed us to separate the threads in a way that creates a dimensional effect, with some trees behind others.

I made one large tree up front and two in back. By then the day was over. The Regional Meeting was next, with the installation of new officers. Then another nice dinner. Tonight's table favor was a ball of perle coton. (Mine's yellow.) It came in a cool little plastic holder that is very reminiscent of the round holders you get prizes in from those coin machines (like gumball machines only bigger). It has a little hole in the top to feed the thread.

I won a doorprize tonight after dinner! I got Issue 70 of Cross Stitch & Beading, an Australian magazine, and a hand made wooden post-it-note holder with a diamond inlay. It holds the medium-sized square notes and came with a pad in place. It was handmade by a Madison Chapter member's husband. (I can't quite read his name on the note but hope to meet him Thursday to thank him.)

I also found two more goodie-bag prizes. I was looking for something and tipped the bag out and found a large nail file and a pen!

After dinner a friend and I went by the suite for next year's seminar and saw the pieces they're offering. Photos are nice but there's nothing like seeing the pieces in person!

My friend came by my room and we did our own show-n-tell. We both had brought some of our recent pieces and works in progress to show each other. Then we shared some of the things we'd bought here. The boutique and the book store are both nice. The boutique has an especially wide range of products---fibers galore, lovely tools and everything from beading through hand-dyed wool. So day two is done. Tomorrow I head back into the forest.

Goodie Bag and Favors!

Two posts in one night! I thought I'd catalogue my awesome goodie bag for you before it gets dispersed. Everyone got a handmade name tag (with a pocket for meal coupons and your room key) and a bag like this:
A complete catalog for the seminar: what's happening when and where and contact information for everyone.
Two cards of Rainbow Gallery Threads, Splendor and Flair and a coordinating skein of DMC perle coton.
A complete kit for a Brazilian Embroidery flower (Jasmine) from EdMar.
A Charles Craft Catalog.
Two samples of Udder Cream.
Gloves in a Bottle sample from Stitcher's Crossing (a local shop).
One sample tub of Handmade Natural Beauty Cranberry Almond lotion bar.
Charts from Martina Weber/Chatelaine, Nordic Needle, Prairie Schooler, Stacy Nash Primitive Designs, Creative Cross Stitch Designs and Quilt Patterns by Karen Kluba.
Recipes using real butter from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (they look yummy!)
Lots of shop fliers, some local-some not, and some with coupons!
Local tourism information and visitor's guides with lots of coupons for local shops, attractions and restaurants.

At dinner tonight we each got a favor. The theme of this seminar is friendship and our favor was a complex fold-out this way and that booklet with a hand-stamped and cutout cover. It's an autograph book! We passed ours around our table for all of our table mates to sign. What fun--I haven't done this since high-school. The pressure was less but there was still a bit of thought so you wouldn't say something too lame or silly. I may ask my table mate tomorrow to sign and the teacher...

Pretty good haul! and it's still only day one!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

TIF and Vacation!

As I was getting ready to leave Friday night, I scanned the next two finished bands. It was frustrating because my thumb drived died on me. I finally gave up on it and borrowed my husband's. The first band adds a little color and stitch variety. I did it on an ecru linen with a darker perle using four-sided stitch. The third band is on lugana and it went quickly. I used satin stitch and purple perle.

Saturday morning I left on vacation. First I drove up to the Rockford area to visit my brother and sister-in-law. We went to the 12th Annual Stephenson County Fiber Art Fair. It was very nice. Many spinners. You could by a fleece and a drop spindle and learn from scratch! They had lots of lovely tools and accessories, gorgeous yarns, many hand-spun. We had fun paint-dyeing our own wool. For a nominal fee we received a skein of handspun wool, a lovely trash-bag coverall, dye and instructions. The dye was in old-fashioned baby bottles and you squeezed it onto the wool in the colors and pattern you wanted. Mine is all shades of green from yellowish to teal. It was a load of fun.

After a nice dinner, I drove backroads up to Madison, Wisconsin. It was a lovely pink and purple sunset as I drove along the winding roads. Now in Madison I'm at the Embroiderer's Guild of America Great Lakes Region seminar. I thought I'd share with you how much fun and what a bargain this regional seminar is. Many EGA regions hold them, but I would guess they vary in style and content. The GLR seminar is wonderful.

I checked in last night, had a lazy morning and lunch and then headed to my first class. It was a beaded pendant taught by Andrea Sapon and was a lot of fun. The class was only three hours and my piece is nearly done!

(I brought my camera so I could take and post pictures but forgot to bring the interface thingy that allows me to plug in my data chip, so no more pix 'till I get home.)

After the class I had a board meeting and then there was a "meet the teachers" where all of the seminar teachers displayed their seminar pieces and often other things they've been doing. So I got to meet my teachers for the rest of the week. The opening banquet featured killer chocolate cake and a talk by a local quilt artist. She brought a lot of her quilts (pieced, applique, painted, dyed, thread-painted, etc.).

I ran into the boutique after dinner. If you don't catch it early, you may miss that treasure! I got a kit for a needlepunch pincushion. I like to buy a kit at each event I attend and then do my best to finish it before leaving. It's kind of a souvenir for me.

That's just day 1. The seminar offically begins tomorrow.

The GLR seminar runs from Sunday night's opening banquet through Thursday night's closing dinner. The classes are all day M-T-W-Th or M&T and W&Th with the Sunday afternoon short classes for those who come in early.

The seminar package includes all but one meal from Sunday night through Thursday night. One night there's usually a special tour and dinner you can sign up for. I usually don't--I need that night off to just absorb everything. Our fee for this seminar was $395. So that's four days of teaching fees and twelve meals, plus all sorts of goodies, door prizes, events, and fun! Kit costs and hotel are extra, but they do a great job at keeping costs down and the rooms are one rate whether it's one of you or four.

That's all for today. Tomorrow I'm doing "Perfect Forest" with Catherine Jordan and I need to gather my supplies.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

TIF in progress

I finally began stitching on my pulled thread bands for April. Band one, on the pink, is complete and band two underway. Band one is the most traditional. I don't consider it seriously traditional because I didn't count it out exactly. It's off center. I didn't count the number of threads in the drawn section so I was lucky the twists came out even. I used perle 12 and 8 on linen, white on white.

Band two gave me fits. I scanned these images last weekend and I have the band nearly done now. The linen is 32 count and my eyes just can't see it. The sample shows the threads for the outer edge withdrawn. I did four-sided stitch with perle 12 around the edge and then folded under a double hem and backstitched it through the four-sided stitches.

I'll do more four-sided stitch around the drawn thread panel. In the scan, I'm in the process of doing the reweaving of the drawn threads for the edge of the open panel (that's the part I had a tough time seeing). I've withdrawn and rewoven a few threads here, working from the outer edge of the panel toward the center--you can see threads withdrawn all the way across ready to have the thread next to each unwoven from the center to the edge of the panel and then rewoven to the outer edge. I do one thread at a time generally and weave the threads back in before moving on just to keep things stable.

I've already begun marking the third panel, just to give my eyes a rest. It's on lugana which is much easier to count.

One tip I learned (I should have known better and paid for forgetting)--work with a well sized or starched, crisp fabric. The linen for panel one had been washed and it was really hard to keep crisp folds and to get the threads a the corners to stay put. It really wanted to unravel. If I'd added some sizing before I began I would have had fewer problems. The linen for band two behaved much better.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

crazy quilting

Yesterday's mail brought a delightful book from Pat Winter on her crazy quilting: Pat Winter Gatherings, My Crazy Quilting Journey. I really enjoyed reading it and looking at all of the lovely photographs.

I read it cover to cover last night.

And then all night I dreamed of the huge crazy quilt I saw at the Lockport Gallery on Sunday (see yesterday's post). This quilt is amazing. Many traditional crazy quilts embellish the seams of the pieces and sometimes also stitch a motif or design within the piece. This quilt maker did that but it also just ignored the patches and stitched lovely flowers and appliqued motifs wherever they fit. A scalloped floral border breaks completely free of the pieced fabric underneath and the stitching is done as if on a solid ground. Motifs are stitched on in metal thread and also crocheted (and appliqued) in the same metal thread. There's a metalic thread crochet border, too. From the way it's tarnished, I suspect it might be gilt-silver.

All in all it's a magnificient piece. The more I looked at it the more I could see. The only photo I could find is this little one. (that's Christopher Columbus in the middle; there are other portraits on it, too) If you can, go see it in person!

Monday, April 14, 2008

International Quilt Festival

This was a fun weekend. Friday was the International Quilt Festival. If you can ever get there, do so. It’s just wonderful. The website has some great images of the festival. The galleries of quilts on display are awe inspriing and wonderful to see. The market place is very dangerous to the wallet (and a great deal of fun!)

When we got there the first thing I did was go to the Quilting Arts “Make-it U” and sign up for classes. Then I went around the corner to the Art Girlz booth. I stocked up on felt balls, cones for dolls, and faces, feet and hands. I got into the first class and Judy Coates Perez taught us her painted collage technique. (Woo-Hoo!) A picture of me is in her blog (two actually if you look close!) (how cool is that?) here

Just under the photo of Judy is a pic of three ladies hard at work. I'm the one on the left, wearing bright stripes. Here's what I made, still a work in progress. This was a really fun class and I got to experiment and play and learn things, too.

I shopped (more on that later this week) and took another wonderful class by Grinnel FiberWorks about making a collaged, painted, beaded brooch. The teacher (whose name I’ve sadly forgotten) had lots of wonderful ideas and suggestions. I was amazed to have been drawn for two classes!

So here's another work-in-progress from the festival, my "brooch" (maybe, it keeps getting bigger so it may become something else entirely.

My friends and I had a great lunch at Gibsons across the street. Our tradition is to do show-n-tell over lunch and it’s always great fun. Plus we always share one of their wonderful (and gigantic) desserts. In the afternoon it was more shopping.
Saturday was a fun lecture lunch with Mary (Monica Ferris) Pulver. Her talk was fun and really interesting. We had a good turnout for our guild’s first venture into this type of event. My sister and sister-in-law and friend Gena all came and we had a great time.

Today my hubby and I went out to the Illinois State Museum’s Lockport Gallery to see the new show there, Embellishment. I believe this show will go to other gallerys of the museum and if you can see it, it’s well worth it. For fiber artitsts there are laces, quilts, embroideries and an amazing crazy quilt. There are other media, too: wood, ceramic, metal, hair, glass—all examples of the human love of Embellishment.
Phew! I spent a quiet Sunday evening at home, petting my stash and scanning in some images of it to post later this week.
Next week I'm off to the EGA Great Lakes Region Seminar in Madison, Wisconsin. The fun is just overwhelming!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Take It Further

I realized over the past few days that I handle change best when I anticipate and have a plan. So here's my plan for my April piece.
I have the fabrics together and some fibers but I haven't done any thread withdrawing or stitching yet. But I have a plan!

Monday, April 7, 2008

paper leather and marker fun

Last Friday I ran a conference at work. In the past I could bring my laptop and work near the event room, so I'm handy if needed. Sadly, that no longer works because they've removed Wi-Fi from the classroom area. I didn't learn this until Thursday, so I was very happy to have just received in the mail a lovely package from Pat Winter (Gatherings) with a surprise in it--Pat had taken the images from some postcards I'd posted in January and printed them on fusible fabric and mailed them off to me.

So while the conference attendees were having serious discussions, I sat at the registration table in the hall with my Sharpie collection and some odds and ends colored pencils and had loads of fun with the photos.

I then sat and played with a couple of Pat's really cute sachet kits from her Etsy shop. I didn't stitch, I was too busy and interrupted, but I did some arranging and playing with the materials. I got two Christmas theme kits so I can mix and match the cool embellisments Pat sent.

It's finally spring in Chicago and Saturday we set off for the Dunes area for a day exploring around Michigan City.

I was pretty tired from the busy week and didn't feel much like stitching so instead I decided to make faux leather from paper bags, paint and shoe polish. This is based on a recent articles in Fiber&Stitch and Stitch magazines. I used materials that were right to hand so I didn't have to move from my chair.

This first piece is just shoe polish on plain grocery bag. I crumpled the bag and rubbed on cordovan color paste shoe polish. I let it dry a bit and crumpled again and added brown shoe polish. Antoher good crumple and a little black polish. I let it all dry and then ironed it and then coated it with a mixture of Golden acrylic matte medium and Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold. I didn't mix the medium and gold paint well so that the result is uneven.

The other two pages began with stamp pads brushed over the first two crumplings or stamp pad ink brushed on. I began with pink and added some gold and, I think, some brown. Then I crumpled the dried paper again and brushed on cordovan shoe polish.

I pressed the paper and then brushed it with the medium and gold paint mix. I used much less of the paint but still didn't mix it well so it's mottled.

I'm not sure what I'll use my new paper for. I added Wonder-Under fusible to the back last night. I have thought about fusing it to felt, cardboard for a book cover, or heavy pellon to make a box or vase. I'm still having fun thinking about it.

I used heavy-weight grocery bags so I'm not sure about stitching through it, except perhaps by machine. I love the something-out-of-nothing aspect of this project.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Love Squared--Pink Artists' Challenge

She's done! Go here to see the details and many, many more pictures. Monica did an incredible job.

I am so excited. I found one of my squares. Even more fun, it's a near neighbor to my friend Liela's square! Leila spotted this, not me. I'm not nearly that observant.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thoughts on April's challenge

I've been wanting to write all week about my thoughts on April's challenge and change in general but this has been one of THOSE weeks. One more day, filled with conference events (I'm organizing, not participating) then I collapse!

First, thanks to those who suggested the little tea lights for my landscape tube. I tried them but they didn't emit nearly enough light. They're very faint. So I need to keep looking. But it was a great thought, thanks!

On to change. It's been interesting to see how many other's relationship to change is similar to mine. It's inevitable but that doesn't mean I have to always like it! I do prefer it when I control it, that's for sure. And I do much better with evolutionary change rather than revolutionary change.

On the other hand, sometimes big changes can breathe fresh air into life and shake things up for the good.

So I know how I feel about change, good and bad, but it's really hard to put concepts like this into images. I thought about a blowing wind with people holding umbrellas and reacting to the wind in various ways—fighting it, sailing along.

But then last night I was reading Stitch magazine and saw an new bullion stitch design by Effie Mitrofanis and it reminded me of her pulled thread book that I’ve found quite inspiring. And from that I think I’ve decided to show the evolution of an embroidery.

The first formal embroidery course I ever took was Hardanger embroidery from Aina Momquist at the Scandinavian Boutique in Homewood, IL, in the very early 80s. Aina is a very traditional embroiderer and her work is exquisite. For her the epitome of beautiful Hardanger, drawn and pulled work is white on white in a fine count with precise stitching. I plan to begin there with a simple drawn thread area in linen, hemstitched with invisible darning in of the cut threads using fine perle cotton.

Personally, I like color and it was hard for me to stick to white so I introduced some color right away in my second piece when studying with Aina (she tolerated it). I love antiques and I've seen many pieces with grayish stitching on ecru and I love this combination. I plan to do a band like this with the same drawn motif.

All in all, I want to do a number of bands adding gradually color and different fibers, inspired by Effie Mitrofanis’s work add button hole stitches, ribbon work, eyelets and other variations around the same simple drawn-thread band.

So, that’s where I am for now. Sorry, no pictures today. Just thoughts.