Friday, October 23, 2015

The Circle Composite!

From Alice:  I am at last home from my extended trip!  I came home to find Randy's composite and his, as usual, clever narrative about why he placed the quilts where he did.  As always, many thanks, Randy!    I think he did a brilliant job with this one, truly!  So, in his words:

Seems I must again apologize for the delay in posting the composite for your creative work.  Well, I’m at least a little apologetic. I was at my brother’s home in Cascade, Colorado, up the Ute mountain pass from Colorado Springs, just at the foot of Pikes Peak.

First, row three: my process in this creation is to download all your images, put them on one page, then lean back and see if I can find a row by row pattern for the composite. My quirky sense of humor led my eye immediately to Sara’s Circle – and my distaste for those traffic circles – Waco has two, one historical, one new “traffic calming” creation that still is not logical to me – but that quilt just had to be centered and it still makes me grin – Thanks Sara. And then the patterns and colors of Jane [I read two opinions of which quilt/backings– so I made MY choiceJ] and Kathy’s quilts seemed to nicely blend so row three was completed and that’s why row three was designed first.

Row one: two squares, one rectangular, nice color patterns, interesting complementary circle compositions and I’m now leaning forward and excited about the process.

Row two: Gail’s baby said to me, “the circle of life” before I read the description. I’m a biologist by education and Alice’s tree made me also think of life’s cycle, again before I read the narrative, so I think those blocks pin the corners of row two, with a nice, almost “nother world” feel in Andrea’s beautiful colors.

Row four: and we do have a “nother world” in this row?   How could those three quilts NOT be in the same row – WOW! All three are so life-like, makes me wonder if there IS a quilt guild out there?

Row five: knowing how difficult it would have been for David and Janet to pin her quilt on a wall, I used the techniques of Photoshop to “hang it up” – hope you don’t mind Janet? The colors of Carolyn and Judy’s quilts nicely frame this row and make a finishing statement to a challenging theme for this round.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tricia's House Quilt

Dear Fellow Material Mavens,  As you know several us met in Nantucket last May for a retreat at my house.  The members were able to come secretly created this amazing quilt for me.  I wanted to share it with all of our group.  From top left the squares are Alice, Gail, Carolyn, Nedra, Lois, Jane, Rita, Sara and Andrea

 Here is my thank you note to the group

Now that I feel like I am above water. I wanted to send out a note to all of you!  You can see your beautiful quilt hanging in our house.  I look at it every day and marvel at the beauty and originality.  You were all so thoughtful in creating it. I know I sent a note when I received it but wanted to show you were it is hanging and to let you know I keep looking at it and admiring all the detail you put into it.
Alice I love the Lobster house and your boat The Alice Elizabeth
Gail I love that your created my house with all our names and Mr Moss on the roof.  What great house fabric.
Carolyn Your hand work and your quilting are just so beautiful
Nedra I love the hydrangeas and fence.  Your sky fabric is beautiful. Love the roof quilting
Lois  What a perfect house Sankaty! I love seeing the photo fabric and the quilting in the sky. We were able to climb Sankaty last fall for the first time.  What a beautiful view from there
Jane I love your stitching along the house, the flowers and the roof quilting.
Rita What a fun house with the roses encircling the house.  Wonderful hydrangeas in the yard.
Sara Your stitching the house is just fabulous. You also used the confetti technique for the hedges
Andrea What a summer scene with the sailboats and Mr Moss behind the door.

The Artist Association keeps asking when you will be coming back.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Our Next Theme!

Sorry, friends!  I am out of town and distracted.  I had totally forgotten that it was MY turn to choose the theme word.  I have a list at home of possible themes, and of course I don't have it with me.  But I can remember some of them.  So!  So pulling one of these out of my foggy brain, I have decided that our next theme word will be


Have fun with it.  I have no idea in the world what I myself will do with it!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tricia's Moon Circles- Blood Moon

Well I thought a lot about the circle theme.  I went round and round about life is a circle.  I thought about my daughters wedding- a circle of her growth and coming around to getting married. The double wedding ring quilt pattern might have been fun to do a small version.

Then the first night that our son and his family arrived in town for Eliza's wedding we witnessed the Blood Moon.  We sat out in our driveway and watched.  My husband and son began photographing the changes in the moon.  It was a spectacular night. Neighbors stopped by and we chatted.  I thought about all the people in the world that were watching the moon that night.  In the days leading up to the moon's total lunar eclipse and several days after I kept hearing a scientist description of what we were seeing as the sunlight passing through the Earth's atmosphere and shinning all of the sunsets and sunrises of Earth onto the moon itself.  How amazing!

A few days later I came upon hand painted sunset fabric from Mickey Lawler that I had in my stash.  I thought it was a great representation of the sunsets.  I then decided that my circles will be 5 of the stages that we saw that night.

I used the hand painted fabric. I drew detail coloring with the intense pencils that Jane showed us.  I also used my type font on my sewing machine.  I have done a few pieces with lettering but this time I really learned how to use the type.  I did make a mistake leaving out "of" and had to put it in at an angle.  I will try and redo that section another day.

Judy S.- Circles of Joy

Circles of Joy came about from thinking of family, friends, experiences, and life. Lot’s of circles, but how to depict it was the question. I created 2 full circles and sewed them onto 2 different squares. Then I cut them into halves, but that wasn’t enough, so I quartered them and sewed them back together. 
This quilt represents how we are one and as we add more pieces or give of ourselves we become more colorful. The quilting adds even more depth and those are the subtle things or people that we may not notice have made an impression on us, yet they are valuable. 

Janet's Circle- "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"

Janet's Circle – “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

When I saw this quilt assignment the first thing I thought of was a much beloved hymn we sang growing up called “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by Ada Ruth Habershon, 1905.  That started me thinking about my grandmother and her circle.  She did not have a quilt guild or a bee, what she had was a sewing circle.  It was the only time I ever saw her take personal time because she rarely sat down and her day started in the dark and ended that way.  But the Tuesday sewing circle was never missed.  It was a group of women who lived on surrounding farms and whose lives were interwoven on every level.  My mother and father's families came to the Oklahoma territory for the land run.  Since German was the first language for some of the families they ended up with pieces of land all close to each other.  When you drive through the area even now it is the Beck place, the Stein place, the Sisler place, the Wile place  on and on even though no one but my grandmother had lived out there for decades.  She was one of those rare people who lived in three centuries and it boggles the mind when you think what was invented in the 105 years she lived.  She was fortunate in that she had a treadle sewing machine as a lot of them could not afford one.  That is how I learned to sew when I was seven and if you have never sewn on one it is an experiment in terror especially at the age of seven.  So the circle met every week and worked on whatever they needed to attend to or to quilt if someone had one ready to go.  The picture is of a quilt that I have seen on both sides of my family.  Six of the  squares are my mother's  mom and grandmother and my father's mother, aunt, and two sisters.  They each had to make thirty of the same square by hand and I have trouble generating one 12 x 12 quilt in three months with a sewing machine.  What was so special about this circle was that they  were there for each other  to deliver babies, cook meals when there was sickness, take over chores when there was a death in the family, band together when the crops needed to be harvested and canning days when the temperature in the house had to be way over 100 (my grandmother canned well into her 100's).  They did all of this with no modern conveniences, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no running water and no complaining.  Since my  grandmother raised me she is the voice in my head.  Laying in the hospital feeling sorry for myself  I could almost hear her say “you are in a nice air conditioned room with drugs and nurses and a color tv so straighten up”.   Due to some set backs with my health and some upcoming surgeries I will not be sewing for a while.  My husband generously offered to sew the quilt for me but I don't feel well enough to design one so I hope you will enjoy the picture of a quilt that is beyond priceless to me, made by a generation of women we can only hope to live up to.  Thanks grandma, I will try to straighten up.

Karen's Circles

I cut random sized circles out of hand marbled fabric. I cut same sized circles out of mottled black  fabric and fused the two together. Added batting to the back and stitched around each marbled circle with monofiliment thread. I cut away the batting from the circles ... trapunto.
Added another layer of batting and the backing. Re stitched the circles. Quilted the background in pebble fashion. After stitching the edge with a decorative stitch, I spritzed my piece to block it. The un pre-washed fabric dried and the quilting was enhanced. 

Detail of quilting

Carol's Circles

Circles, what could be more circular then planets? So I began this with a piece of black fabric. Needed stars……used the old tried and true paint in the toothbrush flicking method.
Looked around and found some really cool hand painted or dyed fabrics for the planets. The arrangement was not as easy as I thought, but I persevered and came up with this. I machine appliqued the planets on and stuffed a few for fullness.

Jane's Circle Quilt

[Note:  This is Alice again!  Jane is out of town because of the illness and hospitalization of her dad.  She sent me the narrative and the photos by email and asked that I post for her.]

I was delighted when I saw the theme this time. I had already started a series of circle quilts. It took me a while to decide what to do with this smaller version. I thought about many circle meanings, but came back to my newly defined artist identity which is: I am an abstract artist who works with fabric. I particularly love to "make" my own fabric with dyes and paints.

Therefore I created a quilt that reflects that identity. I used fabric that I had dyed and painted using a stencil I had created on a silk screen. As I was working on this quilt, I didn't want to stop; so I created a second quilt to use as the backing. I worked in the 11x14 format. I see one side as portrait confirmation and the other as landscape.

I will let you decide which is the front.

I would like to invite you to go to my art page on Facebook Heartsong Threads, Jane Hartfield, Fiber Artist to see the other larger circle quilts that I have completed.

Alice's Quilt: How Many Circles?

I decided to come up with a quilt that employed as many circles as possible in a sort of folk-art landscape.  And so I have a little puzzle for you:  How many circles can you count?

In constructing this quilt, I first fused sky and land fabrics onto my batting.  I machine quilted the background very simply before adding any other elements.  Then I free-hand cut out a tree.  Onto the tree I've placed either leaves or fruit--they could be either!  The bird perched on the tree needed a kitty-cat to be eyeing it.  To finish, I added a flower.

All elements are fused with Wonder Under and then appliqued with a tiny zig zag stitch.  Finally I added a very few hand embroidered details--the whiskers on the cat and the eye of the bird.  Oh, yes, I also did some thread sketching on the bird.

The puzzle is so easy, but by my count there are 16 circles in this quilt:  9 on the tree; 2 for the bird; 2 for the kitty, and 3 for the flower.

Carolyn's Circle of Friends: "SIDE-BY-SIDE"

For me, the word, “circle” is a reminder of the circles of friends that have been part of my life. I decided to make this quilt in honor of my nursing school graduation class.  We entered school in 1957 during the period when nursing education was an intense, year-round, 3-year hospital program designed to “weed out” those who couldn’t make it academically and emotionally.  During our education, the song, Side by Side was constantly on the radio.  It soon became our class theme song.

Those of us who finished our training developed a strong bond, not only because of the rigorous course requirements, but because we were thrust into adulthood by being assigned management responsibilities far beyond our training, age and life experiences.  Most of us were 18 or 19 when we entered; two of us, including me, were barely 17.  Twenty women entered our program; 10 graduated.  Since 1960, we have maintained close bonds through periodic reunions, and the sharing of many joys and struggles – marriages, divorces, childbirths, career changes, loss of spouses, illnesses and all of the celebrations and trials that make up life. Two of our members have died – including our class president, coincidentally, while I was working on this "Side by Side" quilt.

To construct my quilt, I randomly pieced together hand-dyed, batik, cotton and silk fabrics, along with a scattering of silk ribbons.  I chose to represent my classmates with circles from a Kaffe Fassett print to signify our constant changes and growth.  The irregular circles distinguish each nurse’s uniqueness – some leaders, others followers; some with outgoing personalities, others with quiet steadiness; some with unceasing energy, others with dependable creativity.  The bright colors in the quilt demonstrate the happiness we share when we are together. The quilt is zigzag machine stitched with orange Mettler poly sheen thread with the addition of occasional decorative threads.  The circles are satin-stitched with Aurifil thread.   

Rita's Circle Quilt: Smile please, Pluto.

This is Alice writing!  Rita asked me to post her photo and narrative for her, as Randy was going to be out of town and she was unsure about how to access the photo and the narrative.  So I happily agreed, and after first finding only the photo, I posted it.  I persisted in my search, though, and now have found her excellent and informative narrative!  Sorry, Rita, for the delay is posting this part!

About noon on July 14, 2015, after a nine-year, 3 billion-mile journey, NASA’s 1000-lb., grand-piano-size, $700 million New Horizons probe flew past tiny Pluto at a blistering 31,000 m.p.h.  As it went by, within just 6000 miles of the icy world, it furiously snapped pictures and recorded data on the temperature, composition and structure of this tiny dwarf planet.  Pluto’s little world has intrigued astronomers since it was first discovered more than 85 years ago.  Until Pluto showed up, all the outer planets were known to be gas giants.  What was this pip-squeak doing out there all alone?

Because of our space exploration program with fly-by probes and orbiters, we already had marvelous photographs of the inner eight planets.  Now we have one of Pluto as well!

As I was musing about what my Circle quilt would be, I settled on the idea of picking the best “glamour” shot that could be found of each of the planets.  Originally I planned to put them in order from the sun going from upper left to lower right.  However, in printing the photos, I made the scale of the planets too large and they would not fit on an 11 x 14 format.  So it was time to get creative.  They are still in their correct order clockwise around the quilt, starting with Mercury and ending with little Pluto, but a great deal of artistic license has been used to depict their orbits around the sun.  On my little quilt, Pluto looks to be quite close to the sun, when in fact it is the most distant planet.

For a refresher from 8th grade Earth Science, the order of the planets outward from the sun is: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

The background is composed of several different black fabrics sewn on the diagonal.  The photos of the planets were borrowed from several different sources and with the magic of Photoshop (Randy’s expertise) were then printed on Printed Treasures fabric in the ink-jet printer.  Wonder-Under fusible was applied to the back of the photos from which the planet images were cut out and then arranged on the black background.  Silver seed beads and silver thread were used to create the “distant starlight”.

Nedra's Circle - Celestial Orbs

Inspired by Jane's painting demo in Nantucket, I decided I wanted to paint fabric for the next challenge.  I packed all of my painting supplies, as well as a few former painted fabric pieces I had attempted, for the trip to Maine for the summer.  I painted several pieces of fabric using solo cups, paint bottle caps and brushes as my tools, varying colors and designs.  When I was done, I liked one of the previously painted pieces of fabric I had brought because of its subtler colors and shapes so I went with it.  I believe I had actually painted this piece of fabric with Andrea several years ago in her studio.  But how perfect, the circles were just what I needed for this theme.

I cut out the random shape from the painted piece and stitched it to my background fabric.  I appliqued a few circles from commercial fabric to add contrast.  Machine stitching was used to emphasize some of the circles.  Regular and metallic DMC floss was used to add more contrast and texture to the design.  "Bows" made from fabric scraps and beads were added and tuille was placed over the background piece to add just a bit more contrast.  When completed, the piece reminded me of planets, moons and other celestial orbs as well as shooting stars and meteors, thus the name.  I LOVED this theme.  It is wrapped around an 11" X 14" canvas frame.

Gail's Circle of Life

The birth of my granddaughter in August has found me contemplating the awesome circle of life: birth, growth, and death.  All of us will come full circle in our lives and it's a joy to look back at that journey.  I so appreciate the circle of friendship that Material Mavens has afforded me and I look forward to many more encounters with all of you.  This 12x12 quilt is cotton raw edged appliquéd and quilted with Superior trilobal polyester thread.  Note the background and baby gown are circle fabrics.  It is based on a photo of my baby girl Ruth Ann.

Andrea's Circle Quilt

  snow-dyed 100% cotton,  machine stitched,
11 x 14

Originally this quilt was going to be completely hand-stitched, my project while recuperating from my September 8 knee replacement surgery.  Due to unforeseen circumstances the surgery was postponed to today, October 15.  As I was still able to get to my second floor studio I decided that the majority of the stitched texture would be done with my sewing machine and the circle would be the only hand-stitched element.  I used Sulky 12wt Blendable variegated cotton for the machine stitching which covers the entire surface with straight lines going in 3 different directions.  The hand-stitched circle, DMC #8 pearl cotton, was positioned so that it would include the converging machine stitched lines.  Viewed from a distance all that is really seen is the fabric, which was my goal.  By getting a bit closer, the stitching visually begins to appear.  This was a very different approach for me and I am glad that I followed through with my concept, even though I was not sure if it would work.


WOW !  This challenge has literally caused me to come "Full Circle."   Let me explain !    I had an idea set firmly in my mind...Really !  The lyrics to the song "Circles of My Mind" that I sang over and over again, along with beautiful illustrations !    And then I came upon a different illustration of somewhat concentric circles that threw me into an entirely new direction; I decided to just go for it !

Using a new-to-me tool called "The Ultimate Stencil" (, I traced a number of randomly placed concentric circles onto my all-cotton fabric, then machine stitched around each circle using Madeira Monofilament thread (top thread and bobbin).   The circles were great, but the overall effect was BORING !   So I began the labor intensive task of Hand Quilting each of the circles using very thick & heavy, black-core copper metallic thread ... you know... the kind that tangles, frays, snags on itself, and in general takes more time to complete than all the other processes put together !  To help calm-down the thread, I used liberal amounts of "Sewers Aid" that I applied directly to the thread each time I re-threaded my needle.   (Sewers  Aid is available at most stores that sell fabric & supplies.)

After completing all the hand quilting, I hand-sewed copper beads / buttons to the center of each of the circles.  The beads / buttons give the quilt a more finished look, and I think, help emphasize the concentric circles.

For the back of the quilt, I used one of my favorite "Keyhole Binding" techniques, and as you can see, continued the "Circle" theme with my choice of fabrics, and the Circular keyhole.

Peace and Blessings to all !     

My Mom's Favorite Shape Is a Circle! Sara's Circle Quilt

I LOVED this theme. I was telling my husband about my planned approach while we were on a road trip headed to Wichita Falls, TX to bicycle this summer. He told me I needed to write down 10 other ideas. Within 10 minutes I had written down 22 ideas (including bicycles!)  but I just had to do this one. My daughter of blessed memory used to say " My mom's favorite shape is a circle because that is how she drives". Well obviously I like circles - that is why is was so easy to think of them! I just had to this one to honor a precious memory of a precious person. She was referring to my horrible sense of direction. Whenever we went anyplace each intersection brought a 1 in 4 chance that I would head off in the right direction. We did a lot of circling around even though I had lived in the same city for most of my adult life.
This was done with very straight forward piecing of the road fabrics into a great map fabric designed by Tim Holtz in his Eclectic Elements collection. I decided to use my newest toy, a 10 needle embroidery machine, to embroider the question marks. I digitized them in 2 different software systems and ended up liking the one built in to the machine after I tested all 3. I used Sulky puffy foam behind the embroidery simply because I've owned it for years and have never used it. It gives great depth to the characters. I drew out a whimsical car and my wonderful husband edited my drawing (at my request!) to make it look more like a car. I copied my drawing to freezer paper and used it to cut out fabric attached to Pellon double sided sticky fusible. I experimented with a messy decorative stitch on the red to attach the red car and decided to finish off securing the appliques with a straight stitch. The car windows are a sheer translucent fabric. Quilting just had to be done with concentric circles. I used my walking foot on pre-chalked circles for the inner circles. The outer ones were done by using a guide on the foot against the previously stitched lines. Edges were done with facings I learned from Shelly Stokes of Cedar Canyon Textiles in an on-line ruzuku class.

Now many years later, I still seem to be going around in circles. I am lucky to have the technological augmentation of a GPS. I get lost much less often

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lois's Circles

I decided to do a graphic illustration of the theme circles. After playing on my computer with many different options I printed this one and began coloring it with inks and thread painting some of the areas while leaving some open! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Carol's Time

Well, here it is....sorry for the wait.

When the word Time was selected, I puzzled and puzzled. I finally came up with a clock I remembered in a MacGyver show - very retro, so I thought it would be a good one for me.
I used my 11 X 14 in a portrait view, drew the desired shapes on the fabric, then proceeded to use fabric paint for the neon. I stitched in the numbers, which took a bit of time (pun intended) and then used orange thread to make wavy lines around the neon section. The hands on the clock were just a satin stitch that I gradually shortened until I got what I wanted.
I have sent along the original picture I "borrowed" off the internet.
Well, life got in the way, but here it is.

Original pic from the internet:
That's MacGyver's shoulder in the lower left corner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Janet's Time Quilt

I recently had an experience where time felt like it was going the speed of light to every minute feeling like it was an hour.  I went from a stuffy nose to bronchitis to the emergency room to the IC in what felt like a very short span of time.  Once admitted to the hospital while they tried to get me stabilized every minute was agonizing.  Recuperating at home now is painfully slow and the highlight of my day is hearing the garage door go up in the afternoon meaning my husband is home.  For him there is not enough time in the day, work, errands, chores at home, taking care of me.  

My quilt has a similar story.  I bought four Garden Gang cross stitch patterns when I was pregnant.  I was on bed rest and I finished two and thought I would have lots of time when the baby came because they sleep a lot,  so I would finish the other two after he was born. Silly me. That was thirty four years ago.  I did finish them finally this last year and since I've taken up quilting I thought why not make them quilts instead of framing them.  I just could not believe that much time had passed since I finished the first two.  So time is relative to your situation.  I have to thank Judy Steward for quilting the borders for me as she is someone whose day flies by and I appreciate her taking the time.