Busy Bee


Late this summer I embarked on an adventure in virtual Flickr quilt block bees. I had intended to sign up for one Bee and somehow ended up in two. While sewing 15 blocks kept me busy for a few months it has also speed up the process of collecting blocks other people have sent to me for my project. I am making my dad a quilt for his birthday with the blocks from the bees. Did I mention his birthday is Monday?
September Mosaic
The way a virtual bee works, for those of you who are not familiar with this phenomenon is that you join a Flickr group for a specific bee, are put into a hive, create a color-inspiration mosaic (like the one above) and make multiples of the same blocks in the colors requested by your fellow hive members. The two bees I joined, unlike the 12 month one I started (see Design Camp think outside the block Swap) were made up of 6 person hives. The Nubee's swap is a one month swap (I have done two rounds of this bee) and the 3x6 Bee is a three month bee. So far I have collected 11 of the 15 blocks I am expecting.
HST Bee Block Mosaic
Those are a few of my blocks for the August Nubee Swap Hive 3 and the 3 x 6 Bee Hive 16. I wrote a guest blog post about working with half-square triangles to come up with this block over on the Nubee Blog.
Blocks for NuBee Swap Sept 2011
I just finished packing up my September blocks for the Nubee swap which I am going to mail out tomorrow first thing. I used Christina's double-disappearing 9-patch block she demo'd at our September Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting. I had fun experimenting with the color placement in this block.

If you are interested in joining a flickr bee you can check out the ongoing discussion over at the Flickr Quilting Bee Blocks Group. There is also a discussion there that features Bee Confessions which is a hoot to read. Next up for me is participating my my bee Design Camp [think outside the block] Swap and a fellow-bee member's Add a Border project. Oh, and I must get crackin' on my dad's sampler quilt! Wish me luck!
Announcing the first ever Design Camp Flickr Bee. Design Camp (think outside the block) swap! I am super excited to host a year-long Flickr swap that is dedicated to exploring improvisational patchwork! I put a call out for 12 committed campers to sign up for camp and behold -- an international bee was born!
Our Bee reaches from my little corner of Portland, Oregon, up to BC Canada, across Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and way over to Norway and Singapore. This was filled up on a first come - first serve basis.

I plan to dedicate a post each month to what we are doing over there, but feel free to check it out and see what is going on. It will begin on October 1st and each month will be hosted by a new camp counselor.

For you Portlanders who are interested in exploring this technique, I will be hosting an improvisational mixer over at SewPo on Mississippi Ave on October 14th from 6pm on. Hope to see you there!
This summer Denyse Schmidt came to Portland to teach at PNCA. The class filled up quickly so I put my name on the waiting list. I had all but resigned to waiting for next time when my number came up. It caught me by surprise and I did what any logical grown-up would do, I called my mother and asked for her permission to take the class. Well, sort of... I had given her an envelope of 'emergency cash' and I asked to redeem it.

The workshop was excellent, but I have to admit that it was hard! I had barely dabbled in improv anything and was reluctant to let go of my recently acquired rotary-ruler skills. Denyse was so articulate in design and process I trusted that I would discover something incredible just by participating. I discovered that I had alot to learn!

My first faux pas was that my palette was too flat. One of the requirements for the class was to bring 1-5 yards of solid fabrics. A few of us gals who were taking the class had gotten together and shopped over at Cool Cottons for our solids. Denyse went through my selections and pointed out that there was no variation in value - I had chosen all mid tones. She grabbed a few colors from solids she brought and gave my palette some depth.
We all did an improvisational exercise which we selected random scraps blindly from bags marked 'small, medium and large.' The reluctance to use what you pulled was a common theme with my classmates, but I stuck to the rules and used what I got. As we finished our blocks, we put them up on the design wall and Denyse arranged them. It was the 'discovery' we had all been waiting for: we were all geniuses!

The second part of the class was to then create a more intentional design using our own fabrics inspired by the improv blocks on the wall. I felt like I was on Project Runway (and I suggested to Denyse that she give Tim Gunn a call!) I sketched about 25 different ideas in my book and was the last to conference with Denyse. She didn't seem crazy about any of my ideas, which wasn't much of a boost to my already low confidence.

I decided on a block that broke up the positive and negative space with a row of colors. I planned to pull this a bit randomly so I started to chop (and I do mean chop and not cut!) up pieces and add them to piles. Halfway through making my blocks I realized I had not been consistent with my layout, but I stuck with what I was doing just to see what would happen.

You can see my finished blocks from class on the right side of the photo (and thanks to Susan for sending me the pic!) I am not sure what I am going to do with these blocks or even when I will get to them again, but I am sure that I am interested in learning more about improv. So much more that I have a few plans up my sleeve so please stay tuned!
Hey, do these look familiar? I save all those things my camper's leave behind at the studio after camp. This piece is made up of sewing challenges from my 'collection' and was created for the 100th Monkey Studio's 5th anniversary show. The call for art was to create a piece that was about the process of making art.

Here is what I wrote about the piece for the sale:
When students first learn to operate a sewing machine I give them small pieces of muslin, or 'sewing challenge' which they must follow in order to move onto more complicated projects. In order to complete the challenge the student must first follow the line, then stitch in between the lines and finally design their own challenge to sew.

What is discarded and edited in the process of creating art and design are as valuable to me as a definitive design decision. As a young art student I had a strict fine arts teacher who forbid us to use erasers. The lines you chose to leave behind, she taught us, are of equal importance as the lines you chose to incorporate. Instead of erasing lines I drew with timid pencil lines that my instructor called "ghosts." She wanted us to make bold confident decisions. After much resistance to the visibility of my process I finally understood my professor. The 'ghost lines' I drew told the story of how I arrived at my final decision. I saved my own student's discarded work for the same reason. It was the story of how they learned to sew.

My piece "What was left behind" is made up of student sewn design challenges which were left or thrown in the trash at the end of the class.

Title of piece: What was left behind
Media: Muslin, Thread, Linen, Ink
dimensions: 17" x 22 1/2"

I was fortunate to be a founding board member of the 100th Monkey Studio  and I have enjoyed watching it grow and thrive over the past five years. Please come and support them  on Friday, September 14th and buy some art!
Hard to believe it is September! It was even harder to believe that camp is over for the summer and I don't get to hang out with the most creative kids in the universe on a daily basis for another 10 months. Well, never fear, I have PLANS!!! I met with the owners of SewPo last week, a swell little sewing studio in NE just off Mississsippi Ave that has space for classes and lots of nifty products in their retail shop and they want me to teach! This is where you come in - what classes do you want to take? I have a list proposed to them, but I'd love to cater my classes to my campers.
I am in the process of uploading all the photos from camp onto the design camp flickr page. It is taking a while, so check in for an announcement about that.

These days I'm keeping super busy with my day job. I am designing all the artwork for the girls apparel for Fred Meyer which I do twice a year. My design with my dog Ryder that I designed last summer is in stores now. He is such a ham!  Too bad it doesn't come in my size!
And I am also in the process of finishing a quilt that will be published in Fat Quarterly this fall, a quilt for my sister's wedding, blocks for my flickr swaps Nubee and the 3x6 Sampler Quilt Mini Bee, and wouldn't you know I woke up this morning with a new idea for a quilt!

And last but not least, here is a quilt I finished this summer called 'Off The Wall.' I am going to post a tutorial over at the Cool Cottons blog one of these days! It was raffled off to raise money for the drama program at daVinci Arts Middle School. Which brings me to my last mention - I will be teaching a fashion illustration class and my 'one week boutique' workshop there this fall! Excited about all the great projects on my plate right now!