Friday, March 15, 2013

Two Mavens and an Extraordinary Birthday Gift !

Dear Mavens,  I wanted to share this incredible story with you.     A few days ago, I received a package from fellow Maven, Judy Wedemeyer (Anchorage, AK).   Judy W. and I the best of friends, and we address each other as "Sistah!"    My 65th birthday is next week, and Jude included the most extraordinary gift in her package.  I was overwhelmed and burst into tears.  Was this really for me ?  Was she just wanting me to see it in person ?  Did I need to send it back to her ?    A phone call confirmed that this gift really is for me, and I continue to be overwhelmed.     

Thank you, Dear Sistah for this most cherished gift.  I love it, and I love you even more for what you have done for me.        Love,  Kath

The words Judy included on her "Communication" challenge quilt are:  "Whenever in Distress Send God an SOS (printed on the top of the quilt)    and   "Without a Spoken Word Your Voice Will Still Be Heard."  (printed on the bottom of the quilt)

Kathy's Communication: Words, Gestures, and Actions

What a challenge this was !   Not because there weren't enough communication ideas, but just the opposite !  Having to limit myself to just one idea.... Or did I  ?    I started making a list of ways to communicate and came up with so many ideas that I just couldn't decide which of them to use, so I culled my list over and over again, and came up with my final list.   

The next challenge was to figure out how to get all those words printed onto the fabrics.  [Andrea.... I really wish we lived closer together !   I would have put your silk screening skills to good use and given your Thermofax machine a good run for its money !]    Not having access to the silk screen necessities, I improvised using the supplies I had on hand..... many that came down with me from Anchorage 3 years ago.   I printed all my text onto "Premium Coated Canvas" that I bought at Office Max - worked like a dream, and was actually very easy to sew / quilt through.    Next, using Pages on my MacBook, I figured out how to put a 'shaped box' outline around the title: Communication, then printed it onto  silk fabric using "Ink Jet Printing" by Jacquard.   The Habotai Silk comes on an 8-1/2" x 120" roll and has a paper backing so you can run it through your printer.   OK.... a bit of  a problem with the silk.  After I removed the paper backing, the silk kind of took on a life of its own.  It squirmed around all over the place and I never could get it to settle down.  Mistyfuse - where were you when I needed you !

Having somewhat persuaded the two fabrics to play nice with each other, I basted them together and then decided to use black and white piping between the text layers and the borders.  I learned about adding piping from classes I've taken with Rachel Clark, Linda Lee, and Loretta Tibor (Anchorage, AK teacher extraordinaire !)  After the piping I added borders using fabric that had vintage postal symbols on it (canceled stamps, envelopes, letters, etc.)  Why did I round the corners of this little quilt ? Because the Habotai Silk that had a life of its own got kind of crooked and made everything else look crooked !  What to do ?  Whack off all those corners, allow the quilt to speak for itself, and make the most of this creative opportunity (or sit down and cry !) 

Back to that silk again !    It continued to distance itself from the background words to the point where the words were unreadable.  Time to call in the troops !   Get out all those buckets of beads I've been hoarding, get out my hand needles and 50 wt. threads, and start stitching.   And for those of you who know me well, any kind of "hand work" drives me c-r-a-z-y.  Yet there I sat hand stitching every one of those lovely little beads; I must admit they do look kind of cool in a weird sort of way.

Would I change the way I approached this quilt ?  You bet !  Did I learn a lot about the compatibility of certain products with other products ?  Oh yeah !    Would I like to have a "Do Over?"  Yes !    Perhaps learning all these things is one of the reasons we continue to challenge ourselves and the reason we share our trials, tribulations, successes, and triumphs with each other.    

And now..... On to the next challenge:   CANYON(S) !    Peace & blessings to all.....   Kathy

Judy S.- Communication Operator

I thought of many things, but Lily Tomlin as the operator on “Laugh In” kept popping up in my mind’s eye. She was a working woman, strong, but feminine. Nobody makes you laugh like Lily Tomlin. 
I always appreciated the real operators that helped us when we needed information or to connect us to the right party. They were always so nice and helpful. Machines just don’t give you that nice feeling that they are there to help you when you need it.
I know these look like 2 different quilts in the photo's, but they truly are the same. Lighting was indoors and outdoors, so I chose the best I had of the parts that I wanted to share.
My biggest fear in creating this piece, was not being able to make her face look right. Remember how I only did the back of my head on “Element”? I decided to take the challenge of doing a face and I think it worked out fine. 
I enjoyed quilting the blouse and skirt. I wore clothes like that and sewed them too, so I knew what they needed to look like. 
The plug in spots on the switchboard are made from tiny snaps. The rotary part of the phone was made by winding and squishing beading wire. Lily always had a big chunky bracelet which I made by stitching beads on her wrist. This is the first piece I think I actually did handwork on!
You can goggle “One Ringy Dingy” and find youtube video’s of Lily Tomlin. I did give the switchboard a company name. It is One Telephoney.

Judy W's Communication: SOS

"SOS" by Judy Wedemeyer (12"x12")

Nonverbal communication appeals to my perceptual brain.  I enjoy the mystique of relaying coded messages and the silent gestures of sign language.  Most mind boggling but simplest of all is prayer.  It’s invisible, may be silent, and only requires thought to transmit and receive. What an awesome concept in this high tech world!  My quilt portrays two of my favorite methods of communication to relay a message... morse code and prayer.  My challenge was in designing visual elements and learning how to use Pages on my Mac to overlay my images and then properly mirror and print them onto fabric.  Unfortunately I failed to make note of the ink jet fabric sheet brand I used.  The machine embroidery detail was meant to suggest dots and dashes and helped to add interest to the quilt border.

My Dad’s hobby as an Alaskan ham operator (50’s-90’s) was my first introduction to morse code and short wave radio transmission.  During Alaska’s 1964 earthquake, he relayed messages in and out of state while telephone lines were down.  [Ironically, my husband was a morse code intercept operator during his Air Force service in the 70’s before we ever met so I guess ‘ditty boppers’ were destined to be in my life!]  Around age 9 Dad set me up with a morse code chart and simple keyer.  I first learned SOS, the Maritime distress signal which meant ‘Save Our Ship’, ‘Save Our Soul’ or 'Send Out Succour".  My quilt’s encoded message supports the Save Our Soul interpretation:  “If ever in distress send God an SOS, without a spoken word your ‘voice’ will still be heard.”

As one of the earliest forms of reliable voiceless message transmission, morse code is capable of covering great distances, initially via telegraph and nowadays satellite.  (God doesn’t need either!)  Voiceless communication intrigues me for its versatility and universal appeal.  Regardless of language or cultural barriers, both morse code and sign language can be used globally.  Morse code excels in long distance whereas sign language requires a visual exchange typically up close and personal, but I suppose with internet and web cams similar distance is now achievable.  I Googled free morse encoder/decoders on the internet just to play with.  In addition to the electronic blips keyers make, Dots and Dashes are verbalized as Dihs or Dits and Dahs or visually sent as blinking light or replicated as hand gestures. 

Although morse code may be considered antiquated in comparison to computers and wireless - it will never be outdated in terms of survival when simplicity is all that’s available.  Imagine prisoners or hostages who have used morse code to tap or blink messages when speaking was not an option.  My first response when in distress... Prayer!  I rest my case. 

Tricia Communications

When I heard about the theme, Communication,  I first thought about telephones and how they have changed. I remember when we had a summer camp there were several families on the same line.  You had to pick up the phone, listen to see if it was free before you made a call. Then we had a phone but only needed to dial 5 digits. I also thought about last winter when Lois and I were on a trip to Vietnam with a our husbands and a group.  As we were traveling we saw many telephone poles covered with wires.  I'm sure a lot of the wires were for electricity and not for telephones.  I kept thinking about all the calls we make flowing thru the wires.  I've attached a photo of the wires.  I decided to show different telephones and a tin can phone we used as kids.  I machine appliqued the phones onto the backing.  I then collected old wires from our basement, stripped off the outer plastic and stitched them in place.  I then stamped the words blah blah blah on the quilt.

Barbara's Communication--Missing Landmarks

My ideas for this challenge started with fabric with a writing pattern and the "birds on a wire" fabric in blue. The technique is styled after British applique artist Janet Bolton.  She begins her pieces with the background, fabrics overlapped and hand stitched through the batting behind.  I had just bought some vintage handkerchiefs which I added inside the corners of the darker frame.  Her look is simple and primitive.  I wanted to applique people talking to each other, but my friend, Annette said, "How about telephone poles?".  That really hit home for me because the poles are no longer prevalent in our landscape.  We used to take road trips and see these landmarks lining the road like soldiers at attention.

Our New Challenge Word !

From the Great State of Texas - Good Morning, MAVENS !      For our next challenge quilt, I'd like you to think of soaring to the highest heights and plummeting to the greatest depths.   I'd like you to imagine the most brilliant high-energy colors, and then again, the deepest, coldest and most somber colors.   Think grandeur.  Think ancient.  Think geology.  Think stratigraphy.  Think fossils.  Think paleontology.   Think of sand and stone.  Think of water and ice.   Think breath-taking.  Think awesome.    And there you have it !    Our next challenge is:

C A N Y O N  

I hope you have a great time with this challenge - I'm really looking forward to seeing what works of beauty and art you come up with !         Peace & blessings,     Kathy    

Carolyn's Communication: Listen, Learn, Speak

When I began thinking about the word, communication, the first thought that came to my mind was the schism in our society that pits one side against another.  It’s all around us – in families, at work, among friends, and all the way to our Congress in Washington, DC.  I selected the background to emphasize how shattered our  country seems to be in talking with those who hold views that oppose our own. 

I chose 3 arrows to represent the communication cycle.  The quilt is named Listen, Learn and Speak.  It seems that our society needs to recover the most important step in effective communication, the ability to listen.  Listen is represented by the purple arrow. 

The second communication skill is learn.  By listening to others, we can learn why people hold to their beliefs.  Often, we gain information and discover that their positions are not that different from ours.  Learn is represented by the orange arrow. 

All of us as children heard the admonition,  “listen before you speak.” So, speak became the third skill in my communication cycle.  In our high-tech communicative world, it’s so easy to speak before you listen or learn.  It is represented by green, the color we use to know when to "go."

The yellow in the circle is the harmony that results when we listen and learn from one another.

Lois's Communications

When I heard the theme for some reason, the lack of communications between children growing up today kept sticking in my head.  Visions of kids sitting in cars glued to a hand held device for hours kept creeping into my mind. I was remembering all the time I spent playing jacks, and making things, like a telephone out of two tin cans. Interaction with friends was real time and in person. We rarely used telephones, but would run across the street to find a friend and conspire.

  Although I'm not anti computer, I do think our children need more making opportunities.  As an Illustrator I chose almost a coloring book look to my applique piece.  The bow on the red-head's hair is 3-d. I fused two fabrics together, cut out the shape and put stitching around the edge and hand sewed it on. I outlined most of the fabric pieces in black like a coloring book would have been, and tried to use colors that reminded me of my youth.  Crayola color.   The back was done with lots and lots of scraps, that I save in color bins, and regularly use on my backs.  What a fun theme!

Linda's Communication: Two Worlds

    The same day “communication" was announced as our theme, I strangely had chosen to applique birch trees in doubles. The branches started reaching out to touch to communicate. My brain said they stood for both our virtual and our face-to-face lives. We live two lives in one. However trite the image, my brain refused to entertain any other expression of the topic.

      Today we have circles of friendship and families we see regularly, but just as important and real are the virtual friendships, families and lives we enjoy only via the Internet. It has been said that 4 out of 5 Internet users have developed new lives online in virtual worlds. It is interesting to think how communication differentiates these worlds. Presence, with its diverse elements, communicates as much as words in the physical world, while in the virtual world, communication is both focused and limited by the shared interests.  Communication is never easy, face-to-face, but may be more difficult online; thus, the emergence of emoji, the Japanese term for the picture characters or emoticons that we use to clarify or stand for our facial expressions in real life. But that is another quilt!

A teaser: Are the communicating birches virtual or real? That is the paradox in all representational art.      Note: This quilt is mounted to stretched canvas in a manner demonstrated in my February 13, 2013 blog posting on Linda Drawing Time.

Nedra's Communication - "Love Letters"

After a conversation, with Andrea, about the wealth of possibilities this theme presented, I began thinking of several methods of communication; but I kept focusing on one - feather tipped pens.  Images came to mind of handwritten letters with the curved feathers of a pen superimposed on them.  Hmmm, this could be interesting.  I thought of my reading of the biography of John Adams, I was moved by the correspondence of Abigail and John during their many years of separation while she remained in Massachusetts and he journeyed to Philadelphia, Paris and Amsterdam.  Their love endured the many miles between them and was so evident in their correspondence.   Feather tipped pens were used to write those letters!!!!  Aha!!  I knew this was what I wanted to do.  Screen printing seemed to be the best method for the images I imagined , and so I went to my friend most skilled in this for a lesson, Andrea!!

I found the letter (from the Massachusetts Historical Society Archives) and the pictures via a Google search.  In order to get the shape of the pen just as I wanted, I had to sketch it myself.   Black and white copies of all were made and off to Andrea's I went.  She patiently walked me through the process and we made the screens using a thermofax machine.  I learned the toner in the photocopy “etches” the special plastic screen and thus allows you to screen print the images.  Now at home on my own, I pulled the images of the letter and pictures with a black acrylic paint on gray cotton sateen.   Although, I achieved the look I wanted, it seemed dull with only the black printed onto the gray background.  I quickly realized that more contrast was needed. I purchased a black silk which I used to frame the pictures and a dark gray silk which formed the border and provided a nice frame for it all and the needed contrast.

I stitched the framed pictures onto the bordered letter.  I then ironed a fusible to the back of the sateen with the screen printed feather and then carefully cut it out to avoid snipping off any of the feather sections.  I fashioned the inkwell from black silk and ironed fusing to it and cut it out.  I then placed those on top of the letter and when satisfied with placement, I fused those down.  I covered the entire piece in a navy tulle and wrapped all to the back of the peltex batting and fused in place.  I covered the back with a fabric piece the same size. Now for some quilting.  I stitched in the ditch around the letter and pictures and carefully around the feather.  Machine quilted feathers seemed appropriate so I stitched those using a pattern I drew on golden threads paper.   For a finishing touch, a few black beads were stitched on the feather tips which you can see a little better in the picture below.

Andrea's Communication

Homage To The Typewriter

screened, discharged, cotton, linen and organza fabric

Communication - my mind immediately started dancing with images of telephones ( NOT cell
 phones! ), letters, typefaces, advertisements, cave drawings, pens, typewriters. 
Ahhhh....typewriters!  My sister owns two antique ones so I thought it would be fun to photograph them, and I was "off and running" and very happy to have settled on a subject matter so quickly.
A few weeks into the project I was looking on Pinterest ( I am addicted ) when I saw some postage stamps that shifted the way that I was planning on making my piece, into something a bit more personal  
and fun/whimsical: design and create my own postage stamp!  
The name and address, which is mostly hidden on the envelope, was enlarged and screened from a letter that my grandfather mailed to his mother and sister from Switzerland in 1910.  As the postmark on that envelope was from Luzern, and I was creating a U.S. stamp I wanted an old U.S. postmark.  The one that I used is from another letter mailed to a relative in 1905 from Boston, MA.
A little information about the history of the typewriter is screened on to organza, and unfortunately a piece of thread ( that I did not see until just a few days ago! ) is also fused between the organza and "envelope".

Close-up of "postage stamp"

Close-up of brief history of the typewriter

Music - Carol B

Communication – I thought what better way to communicate then with music? Music is the universal language and is understood by all. It communicates feelings and thoughts and brings them to everyone who listens. What better way to interpret communication, I asked myself.
So I started with the idea of Gregorian Chant. An old and not well known form of singing, and the voice is the instrument of communication. There are many forms of chant, but this one I heard at an early age and enjoyed the sound. To depict chant, I put it on an interpretation of an Illuminated Page for a manuscript, and of course used the letter “C.” It could be for the word communication or my name!
Other modern musical notes were added using fabric I have had for years and of course, circles – because everything goes around and comes back to you.

I appliqued most of the piece by hand, fused some, embroidered the heck out of it, machine stitched some and added beading too.

I also posted this for Off the Wall Fridays which I like to link to.

Janet - Errands List


I have to tell you this to tell you that. I was having an especially bad night during the planning of our last quilt show. It was going to be the first quilt show in history without any vendors and it was going to be my fault. Not only would they throw me out of the guild I would have to move to another town. That led me to how did I get myself into this in the first place (Judy asked me, nicely), why did I start quilting in the first place (my hands hurt too much to needlepoint) and somewhere down the trail of beating myself up I started thinking about cave drawings. Were they drawn because some woman had an overwhelming need like I do to be creative or was it a to do list for their mate because post it notes had not yet been invented. Personally I think it is a errand list. Since they had not developed numbers yet please follow the dots on the quilt:

  1. Gurg, I've gone shopping
  2. I saw a hat I just can't live without
  3. Please pick up something for dinner
  4. While you are out look at horses, ours has at least 100,000 miles on him
  5. Pick up the kids at your mother's cave
  6. About 5:30
  7. All of you wipe your feet and wash your hands, I spent all day cleaning the cave
  8. Does this make my butt look big?
These are all real cave drawings and I would love to hear your version of the to do list.
    Now for the back of the quilt. There are caves all over the world with nothing but hand prints, some dating they think as far back as 35,000 years ago. Here are four generations of my family, my uncle Vicki who passed away recently, myself, his great nephew Justin (my son) and the youngest member of our family great great nephew Hudson Black and his chubby little baby hand. I included the hands because we communicate with them more than we realize. Think about how much you say with your hands without uttering a word.

Alice's Communication Quilt--The Lost Art of Letter Writing

The art of letter writing has, sadly,  almost disappeared.  I have a notebook filled with letters written by my parents to my dad’s younger sister Sallie in the 1930s, along with a few to his mother.  My parents were engaged, but it was during the Depression and times were hard.  Reading them, I heard my dad lamenting over the difficulty of finding a job as a journalist and worrying if they’d ever get to marry.  But then I heard my mother exulting as a new bride, listing many of the delights of marriage.  I decided to focus on this treasure-trove of letters for this quilt.

After choosing a few of the letters, I scanned them and some envelopes, resized them, and printed them on Jacquard Inkjet Fabric Sheets.   I also scanned and printed a picture of my parents taken in the early days of their marriage.

For the background of the letters and envelopes and the picture, I made a crazy quilt block.   I used some of Mother’s old, sheer handkerchiefs, as well as some old lace.  I backed these delicate fabrics with pink and blue fabric (more about these in the photo captions), fusing them together with Misty Fuse.  Once the crazy quilt pieces were fused, I sewed them together and added some decorative machine embroidery stitches to the seam lines and a bit of lace insertion with pink ribbon.

Next I arranged the photo and snippets from the letters and envelopes onto the background.  Once I had a design that pleased me and showed off the lovely embroidery on the hankies, I fused them to the background with more Misty Fuse.  Finally, I stitched around all of the fused pieces with a tiny zig-zag stitch.

I bound the quilt with one of the fabrics used behind the hankies, and I made a Cross Country block for the back, again using some of the fabrics from the front, as well as some 1930 vintage feed sack fabrics.  I chose Cross Country to symbolize how my father made so many cross-country (well, cross-state!) trips to visit Mother, during their long courtship!

The center block in the backing was also used under some of the crazy quilt pieces.  It reminds
me of my mother's "every day" china, Pink Tower by Spode.  I have a few pieces of this china, and I think of Mother every time I see them!  My father loved flowers and gardening, 
and he loved Texas, so the blue bonnets and other wild flowers in the fabric are in honor of him.  The other two fabrics in the backing are from authentic 1930s feed sacks.  Again, I chose pink for Mother and blue for Daddy.  It is likely that they would recognize these fabrics, perhaps in some garments that were made for them by their grandmothers!

I couldn't resist a close-up!  Perhaps you can read, in Daddy's distinctive back hand cursive, that he tells his sister Sallie "don't tell Mom" about losing a job he had for a short time.  And Delight #3 that Mother mentions to her sister- in-law is trying new recipes!  She projects into the future and imagines being a granny with grandchildren spending hours in her kitchen.  This is poignant to me because my late, beloved daughter was her first granddaughter, and she did, indeed, love to cook with her grandmother!