I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

SAQA Atlantic welcomes you!

This week I took a foray back. Back to my roots, as I gradually realized.

SAQA. As I said to my Dad, I may never pronounce that acronym correctly. When first seeing it in print or hearing it spoken, to me it brings images of possible drum circles and ceremonial dances. Hmmm. Well, maybe I am not too far off the mark. After spending the better part of a day with members of the Atlantic Canadian division of this international group, I could really feel  - dare I call it - the spirituality and that type of bonding that comes from like minded people connecting as only they can. I can accept drumming - my heart was pounding as I realized these women spoke a language I readily understood. Dancing? Indeed. That was my creative spirit exalting in finding a new dance hall!

SAQA is loosely described as a non-profit organization which recognizes quilters.  A very loose definition indeed. Further digging on their website finds you this:

Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications.
Founded in 1989 by an initial group of 50 artists, SAQA now boasts over 2,900 members: artists, teachers, collectors, gallery owners, museum curators and corporate sponsors.

SAQA defines an art quilt as "a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.”

What I found in a little recreational hall in Truro, Nova Scotia was a diverse group of art fibre and textural artists who welcomed me with open arms. We were minutes late arriving - I am no navigator! Plus we had to make an all important bathroom break at Masstown Market where a breakfast cone beckoned us! My feeling? Everyone girl needs a Louise to their Thelma to make maple walnut breakfast ice cream a reality! Even late as we were, within minutes of settling into our seats, I knew the decision to come and join SAQA had been one of my smarter of late.

It was amazingly wonderful to listen to the discussions on group dynamics, building a community, expanding into the mainstream, acceptance on a more national scale, time for creativity! It was equally as wonderful beginning to put faces to art; work I had seen and admired, techniques and pieces I recognized were finding ownership within my mind.

Connections. So many artists work in isolation. Working with fibres is without question a solitary occupation. So whether you work in a remotely geographically area, or whether you don’t, much of your time creating is done alone. Time is valuable and most of us have to use ours very wisely to create because many of our methods are labor and time intensive. If you teach, you can often gain extraordinary inspiration from your students. But, it isn’t the same; the playing field is a little different because you are the one teaching these people this new language and trying to convince them to travel outside their comfort zones. Sometimes it is just really, really nice to have people accept where you are coming from creatively without having to explain yourself.

Except for the extraordinary sense of belonging I experience within my very creatively diverse family, I realized I had not experienced this feeling of community in a very, very long time. I felt it when I was a sign painting student and then working in the family sign business. I felt it when I was a student at the Holland College School of Visual Design and when I was weaving full time with my sister, Joanne. I even felt it briefly when I took my first quilting class, but that sense of belonging soon dissipated when I noticed I was the only one who used a glue gun on her quilts.

In the first 30 minutes I manage to volunteer for something. Try as I might, I cannot change the person I am. If I am investing my time, I am investing myself. Jump in with both feet, hold your breath till you bob back to the top and give it what you got. 

I know there are more potential members in our region. I know the more diversity there is in a group, the better it is for everyone. I know now that there is an amazing group of fibre folk in Atlantic Canada looking to broaden their circle and ready to welcome you as they welcomed me. SAQA Atlantic wants to be more active, more publicly evident. Yesterday we heard plans begin for a show, a retreat, an exciting travelling trunk show that could come to your area! (ask me how! I now those people now!)

Reach out and ask me if you want to know more. I will find the answer and share it with you. That way we will all benefit.

SAQA Atlantic. You excite me. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Brunswick Tourism Report

I felt like I was on vacation Sunday. The day was just that relaxing! I personally feel I have been working long hours too often lately and I think my husband was thinking the same, so we revved our motor and headed out with our dog-eared copy of The New Brunswick Atlas in hand. Normally we take oodles of supplies, but this time - nope! One bottle of water, one coffee, some extra socks, our hiking boots and my favorite, favorite accessory, my shewee which I feel no woman should ever venture into the woods without. Actually, I think they are handy for more than just the woods - talk about empowerment!! Every woman should get to pee standing up!!

I appreciate my shewee. It saves damp pant legs.


Our goal was to find a beach we had heard about but never been to, as well as some new to us hiking trails. Our destination was the Riverside-Albert area of NB. 
As we drove, we passed through the village of Hillsborough  and also past the entrance to Hopewell Rocks. The sky was blue, the few clouds were pristine white and the fields were luscious green sprinkled with buttercup yellow and every shade of lupin you could imagine. 

Finding Dennis Beach was akin to finding a gold mine! I had no idea there was this beautiful wind swept, light sand beach on the Bay of Fundy and it was hard to tear myself away! I love my beaches and could have happily stayed there for the afternoon. The beach is located near Cape Enrage and I guess as many times as we have visited the Cape, we just never went in that other direction, the one which would have led us to Dennis Beach.
Next we headed along the roadway in search of some trails. Rejean had an idea there were a few hidden in this area and we were excited to find two we hadn’t hiked before. Marking a page in our book for future reference, we continued on to the picturesque village of Alma
Alma is full of great things! It is a pretty little touristy village with shops and craftspeople and fish vendors and Kelly’s Bake Shop.....Because of Kelly’s, Alma is home to the world famous sticky bun and this was my first taste experience. The buns are so popular they are handed to you fresh from the oven and are so hot they melt the waxed paper they are wrapped in! They were delicious and I also happily discovered that Kelly's multi grain bread is now a favorite of mine!
After lunch (fish, of course!) we headed up the little ridge to check out the view and found the very amiable owner of Vista Ridge Cottages who shared the very interesting history of his cottages and some info on the nearby Fundy National Park. What a perfect location for a little getaway holiday or even a quilt retreat!! The cabins are really, really nice and bright and if you happen to be there on a Sunday, there is a super Farmer’s Market until 2 pm. This truck is parked at the entrance and I love how they have chosen to display it and have plants for sale on the back!
Taking another route back home, we did some exploration of another new to us trail in the Shepody National Wildlife Reserve and we have figured out the logistics for a hike/canoe trip in this area. It could be the perfect New Brunswick day outing!!
Continuing on, we also noticed a section of the Trans Canada Trail that we hadn’t really paid attention to before, so now we have another trail to try out with our bikes! We are collecting all kinds of possible excursions and at this point I am thinking a nice stay at those cabins would be a great idea!! Especially since they are open year round and we love off season activities! 

This section of the trail passes right through the property of the historic Riverside Consolidated School. The image of a train passing so close to the school teases my imagination. And notice how there are entrances marked for girls and boys! This school is still in use and while we visited a family arrived, ready to play on the playground equipment. That big shoot on the side was the original fire escape!
By now we are both ready to be home, so hitting the main road we motor on. As we pass Hopewell Rocks area, my husband says off-handedly, “oh, there’s your blog friend!”, as we pass a house where we see a woman loading wood in the side yard! Yeah, sure I say! I had mentioned to him that Marjorie lived in this area and that we planned to meet in person one day. What a laugh I got the next day when I saw a comment she made on Holly’s blog that she had been stacking wood that weekend!! It was her! Next time we won’t be in a rush to get home and will make a planned pit stop to say hi!

New Brunswick is a beautiful province to live in and these little day trips serve to remind us of just how much we still have to explore here. Even within a 45 minute radius, we have so much to see and do! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beginning Rulerwork

The more I use my longarm, the more I realize I don’t know. Although I wanted a machine for about 14 years, I made the decision to buy and ordered mine within a 24 hour period. A fast decision overall, especially for someone who can agonize over choices. There are no regrets, but my learning curve is wide, wide, wide......

Ruler work was one of those mysteries. I openly admit it. But, once I opened that can of worms, I ordered the things I needed and finally got some time to give it all a try! My Dad made me some super plexiglass rulers - circles, ovals, curves - and I had a grand time trying a couple of them out!

I decided this lovely little top with its fussy cut blocks could really use some extra effort to turn it into a soft cuddly lap quilt for someone. And I had the perfect thread, a beautiful green Glide with lots of sheen that I got in a sample pack! I also wanted to try stitching in the ditch with my new to me monofilament thread. So, I used a double layer of polyester batt to soften it up and got to work.

Along with those curves on each block, I quilted in the ditch along all blocks and borders to help create that puffiness I was going for. I also decided to give some feathers a try and quilted a swirl of them in the border.
The double batt and the chintz fabric made quilting a somewhat awkward combination, but overall I was pleased with the end result. The quilt is soft and cuddly and has the feel of a “comforter”.

I am linking up with The Needle and Thread Network

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Signs of the times

Whenever I get home to PEI, I always make a little trip into my Dad’s workshop. I grew up with the smell of paint and it is forever a part of my past. Some people equate baking bread, or even a particular perfume with a part of their childhood; for me, it is oil based paint.
After years and years in the sign industry, Dad still has a few tools of the trade available that he uses if he makes a sign for the church, a local fiddle player,or maybe for the golf course down the road. For years after he retired he made banners for my kids’ sports teams and there were numerous times that he and Mom and my brother drove all the way here to Moncton, NB to paint sets and props for his granddaughter’s Drama program. My sister even drove from St John to help me air brush the plant for Little Shop of Horrors. Yes, we are all crazy like that in this family.....
I loved being a sign writer. I love the feel of the brush in my hand as I create letters. I loved designing signs. I loved finishing a sign and knowing it was going to do a great job for my client. I loved knowing that the sign would last a long time and that I would see it every time I went by their business or when their vehicle passed me on the road. There isn’t much I disliked about my job and I was lucky to work in the industry for a couple of decades.
I never did fall in love with computerized signwriting. I know it had a place in the industry, but I just wasn’t really able to grasp it. There are parts of the technology I like, but as a whole it wasn’t for me. Gradually hand lettering had less of a place in what was a fast paced, customer driven business.
So, when I go home, I have my few minutes with Dad’s collection of brushes and paints. When I do, years of wonderful times and experiences wash over me and I am reminded of just lucky I have been.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A sunny rail fence quilt!

This is a top I quilted for a quilting friend who is also a member of the local guild I belong to, The Greater Moncton Quilt Guild. Rosemonde is a relatively new quilter and she did a beautiful job with her top! It was an absolute pleasure to quilt.

I used a pantograph called Peace Dove Sashing, enlarging it to suit the size of the blocks and overall top and then quilted it with a natural thread top and bobbin.
I don’t know where she bought that border fabric, but I love it! A little retro and a lot contemporary - such a great mix in my eyes!

Linking to The Needle and Thread Network. Check out how productive everyone has been!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Reader Challenge Published!

I was getting a bit concerned. I had sent numerous emails about my subscription renewal, but was re-assured they had received my payment and there would be no interruptions in delivery. Then friends told me they had received their copies. I saw evidence on blogs that people had their issues. Someone told me they had picked up a copy at a newstand. Every day I checked my mailbox. Finally I sent yet another email and learned that my subscription was suspended due to an undeliverable address. But, I haven’t moved! My address hasn't changed! Sigh.

So, I drove to three different newstands and finally found and bought the June/July issue of Quilting Arts magazine. 

And here is my work.....right smack on the Editor’s page! 
To be honest, just last month I remember thinking about how being the Table of Contents girl might kind of suck because everybody wants their work visible and in the context of the article. Or, that’s how I feel anyway. Then a friend mentioned she had seen my piece and the photo was re-e-eally small. But, she was quick to assure me, you could see it and my little write-up was included!! I have to admit, I was a bit deflated. I had already noticed on a couple of other blogs that some pieces had received a full page - pretty heady stuff when you consider the audience this magazine reaches. But, the editor did single my work out in comments in her editorial, so I am honestly pleased with that. 

The idea behind these pieces is that the magazine issues a Reader Challenge with a theme and guidelines and then opens it up to their readers. You send in photos of your interpretation of the theme and the editorial staff chooses a varied number to publish in an upcoming issue. So there is lots of room for having fun and getting creative with an idea!

This piece is based on a photo my husband took of myself and my son when we were travelling in Guatemala. We are on a sloping road in a little village on the beautiful Lake Atitlan, checking out our bearings. Neither of us had any idea we were standing back to back with those puzzled looks on our faces but Rejean captured the moment! To be fair, Gabe is now actually a very good navigator, but he had a lingering virus that entire trip and felt pretty lousy most of the time. I have no excuses. I am generally pathetic with directions, but am an enthusiastic traveller and am willing to follow anyone most anywhere! It just takes me longer. Anyway, the photo makes us laugh every time we see it. 

I used a lot of my photos printed on fabric for this piece, as I am so often apt to do. I printed a map of Guatemala for the back and my label is a photo I took of a beautiful beach, the Playa Blanca, on the Caribbean Sea a short boat ride out of Livingston. If you ever feel the urge to visit Guatemala, go for it!! We were so charmed by this country that we plan to return to visit areas we missed and volunteer, most likely with Trama Textiles
The little worry dolls I stitched onto the quilt are ones my son had when he was just a wee boy. My Mom had purchased them at a Ten Thousand Villages sale and they came in a little handwoven bag. I really hadn’t paid attention that they were Guatemalan until we travelled there and I saw lots for sale. Kind of serendipitous, in a full circle kind of way, I think. Anyway, we were so sure we would eventually find our way that we really didn’t need worry dolls that day, though in my experience, it is always good to have a backdoor plan! Just in case.....

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A quilt for empowerment!

Recently I quilted this lovely top. My friend’s niece has been accepted with Canada World Youth and she will be completing a 6 month placement in Bolivia and Ontario. Her program will focus on educating young woman in AIDS prevention, domestic violence and empowerment issues, all worthy areas to focus young time and energy. I have to admit, I am a little jealous of what sounds like a life altering and empowering experience! Her whole extended family is doing some intense fundraising for her trip and this quilt will be used for that purpose. I was more than happy to help a little bit by quilting the top and getting it out into the public as quickly as they could.

Of course, there is a name for this scrap busting technique, but I have to be honest, even though Sue just mentioned the name, I forget again.....I do know I tried this technique and my fabric wasn’t nearly as pretty and fresh! The idea is to sew your scraps together to make fabric and then cut your blocks from the resulting fabric. I think there are endless possibilities for colors and shapes using this technique.

The backing is a a nice light, crisp fabric; the batting is a super loft poly; thread is a 30 Wt cornflower top and bobbin. I used a pantograph design called Starburst, but it is actually a flower design so I think the designer just ran out of flower names. 

I hope the tickets they sell provide a jumpstart on Olivia’s fundraising!

Today I am linking to the Needle and Thread Network

Awash in spring pinks!

Spring and summer are hands down my most favorite times of year. I believe I was meant to live under palm trees, but in a garden would probably suffice just as well.

As I age, I enjoy flowers and greenery even more if that is possible. The really ironic thing is that I am a terrible gardener. However, one thing I have learned over the years is that I can take photos of flowers and trees and bushes and have my garden year round.....works for me. 

This past weekend we made a quick dash back and forth to Halifax, Nova Scotia  to spend some time with our daughter. We managed some delicious meals (food at this restaurant is always a favorite!), some birthday cake ala cheese cake, a lovely stroll along the waterfront, and another through the Public Gardens. The park is awash in blooming magnolias and rhododendrons and sharing soul that I am, here are a few shots I took......

These are the delightful blooms of the “double dip rhododendron! 

Beautiful tulips that greet you as you enter the gates!