MQG’s Webinar on Modern Quilting and a BOM

Let me remind you of the Around the World Blog Hop. Today, September 29, is Tam’s day; go check her blog out at Quiltcharette. Besides checking on her Around the World post, browse around. You will see some modern quilts.

Then come back to see my block for the Classic Meets Modern BOM. Not my most successful “modernization.” Oversized, yes. It is 25 x 25. Second idea was to embed two smaller. The middle-sized one barely shows up if you strain your eyes.

maple leaf block

25 x 25

It is another example of fabric values looking more different before cut and sewn. I’ll either have to redo the center–luckily I have enough of the orange of the large leaf–or add more small ones. Time will tell.

Every time I do this BOM I rethink features of “modern.” Every time I hear/read a presentation about modern quilting I find a new list of features. And that makes sense because modern quilting is not static. In fact Heather Grant’s list in the MQG webinar of several months ago omitted a couple features that were listed prior to the first Quiltcon exhibit in 2013. Gone was the use of white or gray backgrounds, gone was one person does the whole process from start to finish, and modified was that the quilts were functional.  In the recent listing, quilts could be used as wall hangings, but one needs to be able to throw them in the washer and dryer. She is still making the three prong distinction among traditional, art, and modern quilting.

Here are the common elements of modern that she discussed:

Creative use of negative space

No borders (When a border matched the backgound, she considered it no border.)

Minimalism, seeking the most basic form

A bright and graphic palette (though “low volume” quilts can also exhibit modern design)


Grid work (grids may be alternative, but are present)


Exaggerated Scale


Quilted textures more line and stippling than feathers.

Of course no modern quilt need exhibit all the elements listed, maybe 1-4.

Heather also talked about modern traditionalism, applying modern elements to traditional blocks in a restrained, impactful way. Thus, the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month fits right in.

An important point came out in the Q & A when Heather was asked to name current modern quilters.  She answered that quilts can be modern, but quilters can move back and forth between traditional and modern. So, just as the category “Modern” is not static, neither need we plant ourselves into one or the other. That’s good because I’ve been considering myself bilingual. Reinforcing flexibility is a statement from Caitlin Tomkins’ article in the NW quilting Expo program: “[T]h modern and traditional quilt worlds seem to be colliding in Portland, creating a community of ‘contemporary quilters’ whose works incorporate aspects of both styles.” I wonder if that use of “contemporary” will spread and stick.

Many of the elements Heather listed are those I’ve listed in previous months. New are grids and pixilation. I suppose the logical thing for me to do soon would be to try one of the new elements in my next block modification. Maybe next month.

When does it become important to know if a quilt is modern? When considering entering it in Quiltcon or another show devoted to modern quilts. Otherwise all that matters is that it gives you pleasure to make and that the receiver likes it too.



Filed under design, quilting

September at Lan Su Chinese Garden

There were two surprises in this September visit: no changing leaf color even though I’d begun to see a little yellow and red in my neighborhood and more flowers blooming than in August.

Here is the tree that that last  big peach fuzzy flower grew on:

Tree with pink flower

See it between the two parallel arching foreground branches? I’m glad for my zoom lens. Wouldn’t it be nice if I knew more names of flowers?  Guides mention them and there are booklets with some identified. But always there are more flowers than identities.

There is a red rose that they say is in bloom 8 out of 12 months of the year–I’ll have to check on that.

red roseApparently September is the time to harvest lotus blossoms. There is a lotus boat amid the lotus patch.

lotus boat

The gardener would wade into the “lake” in hip boots to pick the lotus flowers.  (Not only is this lake shallow, but the lake in the actual ancient philosopher’s garden would have been shallow as well. These gardens’ purpose is to bring the country into the city.) The boat is not for the gardener but for the harvested lotus flowers.

lotus pods

The remaining pods have their own beauty.



Filed under nature, photography, Portland OR

Bilingual Quilting: (Modern and Traditional Spoken here)

Two month’s worth of lotto blocks in one day. They may be a finished project; they may be in process. It all depends on whether I win blocks or someone else does.

September’s theme is brights. A friend gave me this great novelty print that I had to turn into traditional Variable Star blocks.

Variable Star

12 x 12

Brights month is always fun for the lotto quilts for Sunshine (link in list to right), I also kept a fifth block to make a small quilt for Fire Fighters’ Toy and Joy.

Then to save a little postage, I did the October blocks (black/white/red) as well. First I was going to do a trial run on an all triangle quilt–all black/white prints except one red triangle. Instead I managed one row.

Black and white trainglesMy little triangle ruler had no measurement indicators and it turned out the triangles were 3.75 inches instead of four. Hard to get a 12 1/2 inch block that way. So I fiddled to make them fit and added strips. I still may try an all triangle quilt, but not just now. (Thinking back to the lost edges post, I see lost edges here in two of the triangles–can’t say it is an effective design feature here, just unavoidable, given the fabric prints.)

The next three started at the freebie table at quilt guild as 9-inch black and white blocks.

Three orphan black and white blocksI had just read Jacquie Gering and Katie Pederson’s book with its chapter on slice-and-insert and thought these three orphan blocks a great place to add red that way, then add prints to get them up to 12 1/2 inches.  They have been sitting around waiting for October for quite a while. Pretty amazing that I could find them now.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced




Filed under quilting

Around the World Blog Hop

Moira McSpadden of The Quilted Snail has tagged me to play in this blog hop. Moira and I met in two online quilt groups, Sunshine and Our Quilting Beehive–the Buzz, a Google group. The latter holds annual Swarms, so we also got to meet F2F.  Moira designs blocks, leads Quilt A Longs, and makes some fantastic quilts. Do visit her site.

1. What am I working on? First, let’s agree to omit the box of WIPs and the other box of To-Be-Quilteds. I am planning an ocean-beach themed quilt that is currently in the hunting and gathering stage, soon to be in the drafting stage.  I am currently making dolly quilts for my traditional guild’s Christmas project, the Firefighter’s Toy and Joy project. I have this Leader-and-Ender project that is ongoing (based on this tutorial).

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I am not sure it does differ.  “My genre” is “eclectic”: I like it all. And I dabble in traditional, modern, and art quilts.

I try to keep my art quilts quilty (i. e., no paint) and my traditional quilts arty in the selection of pattern and color. So when I shift groups, my work could seem different from others in one genre while being ho-hum in the other.  I have given myself a challenge that may be different: I want to design modern quilts that use traditional fabrics because I have this 12 tub thing called a stash.  I bought up fabric when I was working so I would have it when I retired to a fixed income. I did not plan for the change in fabric design over the years. Another possibly unique act: I do my free motion quilting on a Featherweight.

3. Why do I write/create what I do? I enjoy the processes of designing, piecing (rarely applique), and quilting. So long as I have a photo of a quilt, I can easily part with it. Some go to family, some to friends, some to charity (Wrap a Smile, Quilts Beyond Borders,Wrap Them in Love, and various local guild projects). Some go to friends and family, and maybe someday I’ll sell some. I do keep a couple for myself. I write because I enjoy it.  My blog is mostly about quilting design, occasionally about books I have read, travel (local and distant) and my grandson, who happens to be quite photogenic.  A blog is better than a traditional quilt journal for a couple reasons.  It is easier to link photos to words for documenting quilts. It becomes part of the ongoing contemporary quilters’ dialog. It allows me to learn through comments as well as share with others. Mostly, I value the friendships that spring up through comments that become conversations.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I have several starting points for quilts: challenges, photos, browsing traditional block possibilities, themes, or sometimes starting with a favorite fabric. The more restrictive a challenge is, the better. When they are too open ended, they aren’t rally a challenge. I think my favorite challenge was a crayon challenge where we reached in a bag and drew out two crayons and had to make a quilt using only those two colors. I groaned when I drew brown and cranberry.

Crayon challenge lap quilt

37 x 45.5

But I was happy with the result. Examples of quilts designed  from photos are  here and here. I love samplers and started one on a poultry theme.   After pulling red,blue and yellow fabrics to unify the various blocks, I searched my various lists of traditional quilt block patterns and started making one of each block that had poultry in the name.  It is currently hibernating while I decide what to do with blocks with more than one name.  Shall I make duplicates for Hen and Chicks, Duck and Ducklings, and Goose and Goslings when they refer to the same block? Shall I have a consistent color for each type poultry? Let’s see if I can import a photo from Flickr. (Ah the limits of my technical abilities; all I can give you is a link.)

I work in a variety of way as well.  Sometimes I draft first. Sometimes I make blocks first. Sometimes there is no block and I make templates: for Weighty Reflections I taped newspaper to get 40 x 60 and made full-size templates. No matter how I start, I allow the design to change as I go. There is something about seeing the design in fabric that jogs ideas in a way that sketching and thinking don’t. I have tried electronic quilt design programs, but  I find I spend more time trying to figure out how to draw what I want to make than it would take to pencil it on graph paper. If I could get the basic up, I’d like the ability to view different color ways. Maybe someday.

Now let me pass the baton to Tam of Quiltcharette. She designs some very interesting quilts and posts interesting questions for discussion.  You don’t have to wait for September 29, her blog hop day, to visit. Go now.


Filed under creativity

The Challenge of “Lost Edges”

Yesterday was to be devoted to quilting, all day. Love those days! However, it wasn’t to be devoted to only the master class project. Picking out different colors of the same value turned out to be more challenging than I had anticipated.

I’ll start with the results: assignment to block a design finished. Submitted a couple days early.

Blocked design

17 x 15

It became more complicated when I reread Elizabeth’s comments and saw that there was more value work than only in the beams crossing the “moon.”  I needed three values of at least two hues. I started with the light-valued fabrics and lined them up, then  I checked my value sense by editing a photo to black and white. I was surprised at the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t.  (And let me say that the colors that do not work here appeared to work in the b/w photo auditioning. Not sure why the change.)

The only design decision I’d made before stash diving had been that the “moon” would not be white or any shade of yellow. Other than that, I’d see what fabric values worked and plan from there. The green and pink were the only fabrics with the range of three values that seemed to work.

Here is the desaturated version of the above photo.


Everything disappears like it is supposed to except the lightest values. Shopping would not be likely to help–I had recently shopped to fill some holes, including light values and values between values I had.  I begin to see why quilt artists dye their own fabrics.

When I compare the blocked design with the sketch, I see the “moon” has shrunk. Since only the moon is stitched, I can easily adjust that. And I must move that second building so that it doesn’t look like a lamp with a circle globe–didn’t see that till I took the photo. I also think the two wide beams are too wide. And maybe I’ll swap out one pink for another green beam. Elizabeth hasn’t commented yet; we’ll see what else is possible.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday and Off the Wall Friday.

ETA: Elizabeth commented approvingly, although it doesn’t show lost and found edges. There goes my idea that equal values = losing edges.  But then on another occasion she said  there have to be hints of the edges so that there is something to lose. Maybe that is what is missing here.


Filed under design, quilting

Raven Society and Intelligence

Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-BirdsMind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds by Bernd Heinrich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a record of raven behavior from field observations in the wild and controlled studies in an aviary. Heinrich reports others’ studies along with his own and includes others’ single observations along with his own. In the “Afterword” he indicates his move beyond behavioral ecology. Heinrich, while acknowledging the benefit of controlled studies, also values the single anecdote. Both are used to raise new questions as well as to answer old ones, to challenge old theories and posit new ones. He also notes the need to study behavior in the context of the life of the animal and its society.

The book progresses from social observations about mating, territoriality, and hierarchy into observations and studies about mental activity, intelligence, insight, and questions of consciousness. Definitions are needed. Insight is the ability to anticipate outcomes. “Consciousness, at its simplest level, implies awareness through mental visualization” (336). With this latter definition he parts ways from those who would restrict consciousness to language users, and he opens the door for consciousness in non-human animals.

It is a good read for one interested in science and for those interested in animal intelligence. It is well told without heavy use of technical terms; when they are used, their definitions are near. It is told in language such that lay people can appreciate the accomplishments of the birds. References are listed at the end of the book by chapter number for the researcher who wants to delve deeper.

View all my reviews


Filed under books

Time for Sketches

It is the ninth month of the MasterClass in art quilts with Elizabeth Barton. I’ve learned plenty, even in the several months where I didn’t have time to finish a project or didn’t like a project well enough to finish it. This month I will finish one. But first come the sketches.

The assignment was to create a design with “lost and found” edges. Up to a point, I understood. I understood obscuring an edge by having the object’s value the same as the background’s.

Sketch 1But that sketch was deemed only an exercise. Sigh. And leading the eye off the page. Not a good thing. I’ll tinker with that one someday, but not now.

Next comes the puzzler.  Lost edges by interrupted lines, as in Tim Harding’s Koi Shimmer. It is what I thought I was doing in this sketch:

Sketch 2


But no. Unless I merge the values of the grass with the background, there are no lost edges here. (Though EB liked the design.) So what is different between mine and his? Well, his whole fish were “interrupted” by lines to show light on the water above it. Here only a small portion of the wheel. And the whole surface of Koi Shimmer was water reflecting light. Which of the two features is most significant?

And then the sketch of the one I will be making, the one that almost got rejected as only an exercise then resurrected with a suggestion about color and value.

Sketch 3The moon and the light beams will be the same value but different colors. It was the suggestion. It was also my original plan, but it hadn’t occurred to me to say so when submitting the sketch.

Now, I hope I have enough fabrics of the same value to pull it off. I think the dark buildings will each be the same value but different colors too.

Stay tuned. The blocked piece is due the 20th. I plan to insert the circle, then do slice and insert for the beams. I think I’ll have to applique the buildings. I’ll probably quilt before appliqueing.

Linking up with Nina Marie at Off the Wall Friday.


Filed under design, quilting