One of my most popular online quilt classes from Quilt University days was Darned Quilts. Last offered in 2013, the class is now back online and open to patchwork quilting students from around the world!
Together, we make an embellished background based on a dyed or other gradation--anything so the colors change over the surface of the quilt top. Then, we cut identical shapes from the background, and drop them into similar holes so the shapes begin popping near and far in the visual field.
Next, we darn the shapes into place to create an original art quilt. I've always worked with circles because I like the unlimited possibilities for rotating the shapes in the holes, but other people have used other shapes, and created some really amazing work:
Recently, I received word that one of my quilts, All That Jazz, had been selected for inclusion in the Kenya Arts Diary. The Kenya Arts Diary is a kind of calendar/yearbook that works like any hardcopy scheduler, but features the work of Kenya's finest artists.
I was stunned to learn that my work now fits that classification. Never before has a patchwork quilt been considered as "art" in Kenya. Getting one piece included in the Kenya Arts Diary opens the door for other patchwork quilt artists (yes, we have several talented artists in the Kenya Quilt Guild) to have their work featured in coming years. More importantly, each textile artist will begin at long last to receive the acknowledgment and respect for their talents that each one deserves!
Yesterday, I received two invitations: one to attend the opening of the Kenya Arts Diary exhibition at Alliance Française in Nairobi on October 18, and the other to a reception on behalf of the Kenya Arts Diary at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung on November 2.
I'm thrilled to be honoured by having made the first ever patchwork quilt accepted into the Kenya Arts Diary as a work of art, and looking forward to attending both events!
Paraphrased from the Heinrich Böll invitation comes this brief history of the Kenya Arts Diary:
Nani Croze and I have known of each other's work for many years, but due to the difficulties of time and space in Kenya we have spent very little time in each other's company--a shame! It will be good to see her again at these two upcoming events. Learn more about Nani and her remarkable glass art here.
I also look forward to meeting the other artists whose work has been featured in the 2019 Kenya Arts Diary, as well as those whose sponsorship and support make the Kenya Arts Diary possible!
On my recent holiday in France for the Kenya Quilt Guild exhibition at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork and subsequent stay in Paris with my best friend from America, I felt GREAT! The reason why? I WALKED!
I've done yoga for many years, but I must admit that walking is probably my favorite form of exercise. With an iPhone on my person, I became aware through its Health application that I was doing a lot more walking than usual.
Getting any kind of exercise at Baringo is tricky. It's VERY hot here, and the equatorial sun burns in a flash! Those are two reasons why yoga works well here--you can do it indoors with minimal or no clothing on. Nevertheless, walking in France made me feel so good, that I determined to carry on walking when I returned home.
I downloaded the Runtastic Steps app. It works in conjunction with Health, and it does a great job of helping me meet my walking goals. I walk our dogs twice a day, in the early morning before it gets too hot, and during the last half-hour or so before the sun sinks below the horizon, when the heat of the day is finally abating.
I thought we were all meant to walk 10,000 steps a day to keep healthy. In those two times, morning and evening, I'm able to walk a recorded total of more than 8,000 steps. I figure I make up most of the difference walking in the house but those steps don't go onto my phone because I don't wear the phone on my person. At any rate, I'm feeling GREAT!!
AND--I'm reading while I walk!! I downloaded an audiobook from Kentucky Libraries Unbound (I have a Kentucky library card) onto my phone, set the audiobook to play on Overdrive, plug in my headset, and set off. Over the last few days, I've listened to Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now."
Like doing yoga, this audiobook is meditative. Tolle's voice is soft but unyielding. He speaks slowly and with a slight European accent, but he speaks well and with obvious intelligence. The book is not a new book, but I've learned a lot from it, and I recommend it to anyone who seeks spiritual enlightenment. I did not find anything in this book with which I did not agree!
Now, if I can just keep the dogs from killing the goats we meet along the path (that's positive action taken in the Now), walking could actually become pleasurable again for me! I can thus improve both my body and my mind!
Think I'll pick up a couple of muzzles this week . . .
Oh, and by the way--my highly popular online quilt class Darned Quilts opens this week at Academy of Quilting. I hope to see you there!
Hold onto your hats, folks! Are you ready for this?
The Kenya Arts Diary selection committee has chosen one of my quilts for inclusion in its 2019 publication.
It's official!! Quilting is ART in Kenya!!!
There's to be an exhibition of all selected works at the Alliance Française in Nairobi. Details in the photo:
My online quilt class Reflections opens at Academy of Quilting on October 5.
Reflections is a great starter online quilt class for budding artists. It teaches the use of a simple design device to turn yourself into an instant patchwork quilt designer, and your interpretation of the composition turns you into an artist!
Even if you are positively certain that you cannot draw, Reflections will have you drawing and designing original art quilts in no time.
In Reflections, pick up a simple and easy drawing method you can use to make hundreds of beautiful quilt designs, then discover how choice of materials influences the interpretation of a sketch as an art quilt.
Gain new sewing skills to ensure you can make any quilt you design, and you’ll be off and running – as a new patchwork quilt designer.
Learn how to design original art quilts by taking online art quilt classes I teach as they are offered at Academy of Quilting.
Quick reminder: Bind Quilts by Machine and Math for Quilters are set to open for registered students on October 1, 2019!
Both classes are offered "on demand." That means you have 13 weeks of active classroom time with me as your instructor, then you can continue to read the comments that come in from your fellow students.
Bind Quilts by Machine offers three different methods of applying a binding to your quilts by machine--no hand sewing necessary. In it, you will learn Fuss-Free Binding (quick, easy and very neat!), Seamless Binding (no unnecessary binding joins allowed!) and Double-Fold Binding by Machine, the one EVERYBODY wants to learn!
Find more information and register for the class here.
Math for Quilters is the online quilt class EVERYONE should take! It's a soup-to-nuts course that takes you from analyzing the design structure of even the most complicated quilt blocks through re-sizing blocks and quilts, to fabric layouts to conserve costs, all the way to costing and pricing your quilts for sale. Loaded with rich tables, a sample quilt plan, and math reviews, this class brings you up-to-date with the best mathematical information used by quilters.
Find out more and enrol in Math for Quilters today at Academy of Quilting.
On-demand classes are available to begin as soon as you make a user account (with confirmation) and Academy of Quilting has given you access, definitely within 24 hours of purchase, usually much sooner and often within an hour. On-demand classes do not include a forum but do include a comments/question area at the end of each lesson for you to interact with the teacher. All lessons are open immediately. You can begin as soon as you log in.
Hurry to register! You won't want to miss a minute!!
On Friday, Lynn and I continued our holiday in Paris with a visit to the Gobelin Tapestry Manufactory. For those of you of British heritage, please permit me to clarify one point: to my way of thinking there is a definite, structural difference between embroidery and tapestry. For me, embroidery is stitching on a layer of fabric, whereas tapestry is the weaving of a graphical image or design as a single piece of material, usually for a large wall hanging often used to decorate and warm cold stone walls. I believe, therefore, that The Bayeux Tapestry is a misnomer; the piece would be more correctly titled The Bayeux Embroidery.
When it comes to European tapestry, two names hold pride of place. Aubusson is one, and Gobelin is the other. Now, I'm not here to give you a lesson on the history of tapestry design and manufacture; you can pick up that information from Wikipedia and elsewhere online. Here, I wish only to share with you my utter amazement at the diversity and quality of design and construction that we saw in the exhibition currently on display at the Gobelin works. Let me show you what I mean:
The amount of detail in each design was mind-boggling. Colors changed every few threads, and sometimes with every warp thread.
The piece that really caught my eye depended entirely upon backlighting to make it remarkable. It was woven from plastic tubing--that's right, the whole thing! With a brightly lit white wall behind it, the colors and the transparency effects were truly amazing! My primary photo was taken from a side angle to capture the 3-d quality of the work; the detail shows the transparency effects created by the tubing.
Within about five minutes of our arrival, I realized the tapestries were not worked nor hung as I expected, with vertical warp and horizontal weft. There was no one available in the gallery to answer my question, so I did an online search and came up with this explanation, well stated by Elizabeth Buckley:
This last photo is not of a tapestry. It is merely a camera shot looking out of the gallery window upon the street scene below. Perhaps I should turn my photo into a cartoon and get busy weaving? No--wait! How about this as a design for a new quilt?!!
I cannot believe I was so enthralled just looking at these huge pieces of art, hanging on the walls, upholstering the furniture, and lying on platforms as pile carpets, that I neglected to photograph the artists' information, so I sadly cannot tell you who designed the tapestries I share with you here. If anyone can help me with that, please do so as comments below--thanks!
After attending the European Patchwork Meeting in the Val d'Argents in Alsace/Lorraine, France, I traveled by train into Paris to meet my best friend ever for a few days of holiday time. I had been nervous about traveling by train, never having done so before and certainly never having done so alone! I needn't have worried.
My hotelier, Gérôme, of the Restaurant/Hotel Elisabeth, dropped me off in the nearest village, Liépvre. I had a bus ticket from there to Sélestat, and a train ticket from Sélastat to Strasbourg with a change of trains in Strasbourg straight into Gare du l'Est. I managed it all well, except that my suitcase was too big and heavy, and because some stations still do not have lifts or escalators, I needed help from a few strangers along the way. The bigger the station, the more difficult it is to change trains, but I managed to get through it without going all the way to the end of the line on the wrong train!
My friend Lynn of Boone County, Kentucky, flew from the USA into Charles DeGaulle International Aeroport. She arrived in Paris much earlier in the day than I did, and I found her waiting for me in, of all places, the McDonald's restaurant near the Gare d'Austerlitz. She had managed well enough, but it was a long time to go without sleep, so she was quite tired by the time we checked into our flat, rented through HomeAway. The flat was great! It was just as pictured--mostly white, fresh, clean and well-outfitted for our needs, and most important of all, not full of OPC (other people's clutter). We went out to do a little shopping, and had a simple meal for dinner before calling it a day.
On Tuesday, after spending much of a sleep-late morning making over-delayed plans for the things we wanted to see and do, we traveled by Mêtro (easy as anything!) to L'Atelier des Lumières to enjoy the immersive art experience of the Klimt/Hundertwasser artworks presented as a light show. It was fantastic, and well worth the effort to find it. The price was fair, especially as one can remain inside the show as long as one likes. The entire presentation takes about an hour, and visitors may enter at any point along the way, so there's little queuing necessary.
On Wednesday, we visited the Musée d'Orsay. I had not been there before, but Lynn had. That mattered little, as the museum currently features the Picasso Blue and Rose exhibition, full of art neither of us had seen before! We were amazed to see work that looked like other artists of that period--Toulouse Lautrec in particular--as Picasso passed through that stage in his artistic life and moved on to other things. We had a delightful lunch in the Musée's restaurant, surrounded by English-speaking Americans from Colorado!
On the way back from the Musée d'Orsay, Lynn suddenly dived into a shop, one inhabited by a tour company offering trips to see Monet's Garden in Giverny outside of Paris. As the journey would be relatively long and the trains do not run all the way to Giverny, but only as far as Vernon, we agreed to sign up for a guided transport. I can't say that I recommend that idea, as we had a difficult time finding the starting point for the tour, the tour guide quit working as soon as we arrived, and we missed our bus on the way back due to miscommunication about the rendezvous point!
Nonplussed, Lynn approached a young couple loading their car, asking first if they spoke English and then if they would carry us as far as Vernon. Travellers who become stranded must be fairly commonplace, and most people are willing to help if they can, so this kind couple gave us a lift to the train station in Vernon, and we got back into Paris on our own. We had some conversation with a couple of Pakistani youth seated opposite, and generally had a good time despite missing our bus! Travelling should be about adventure, yes?! I think this link applies: Paulo Coelho's 'Hippie' Travel Tips from the GoodReads blog.
At any rate, we made it to Monet's Gardens! Lynn loved the gardens, as she does a lot of gardening herself.
I live in a virtual desert, so gardening holds little appeal for me. I was rather smitten with the house, which oddly reminded me of my great-grandparents' home in Kerr, Ohio. With eight children between them, Claude and his second wife Alice Raingo Hoschedé Monet needed a large kitchen and an equally large dining room. This house surely suited them well!
I loved the period chintz upholstery and curtains, the antique furniture, and the delicate wall paper, although I honestly failed to appreciate having every square inch of wall space covered with artwork, either Monet's or his carefully collected Japanese prints.
What really caught my eye was the Delft blue and white tiles (inspiration for a quilt?) and the wonderful array of copper-ware in the kitchen. If in working order, both the kitchen sink and the huge cookstove could be used by any good cook today, and with each meal a homemade French country dish, the cuisine must have been excellent!
So, we had a pleasant ending to a lovely day! In my next post, I'll tell you about how we spent our last day in Paris--with a trip to the Gobelin Tapestry Manufactory!!
Well, it's all over!
Dorothy Stockell, Veena Sennick, Amber Siddiqui, Rohini Desai and I all arrived in Val d'Argents, France, for the 2018 European Patchwork Meeting, representing Guest of Honor the Kenya Quilt Guild. Dorothy and I flew into Strasbourg on Monday morning, were collected by Lysiane Held of the EPM, and transported smoothly to our hotel, the Elisabeth, in La Vancelle. Amber, Veena and Rohini arrived later in the day and checked into the Auberge aux Deux Clefs in Lièpvre. Pretty much exhausted from our travels, we had an easy evening and went to bed early.
On Tuesday morning, we assembled at the exhibition hall where the Kenya Quilt Guild's quilts would be exhibited. We laid all the sticks and quilts out on the floor, and began to finish Dorothy's hanging plan. Working from careful measurements which required a certain amount of space between the quilts, Dorothy knew that all the quilts we brought would fill the area of our display.
We did not expect to hang the show until Wednesday, but by Tuesday afternoon the two fellows doing all the hanging in that hall had completed displaying everyone else's works and they offered to go ahead and hang our quilts. With their experience and nifty two-sided step ladder, the job was done in no time at all under Dorothy's competent supervision. On Wednesday, we enjoyed a quiet day off in anticipation of the work that was yet to come!
On Thursday, we expected a low turn-out, so Amber, Veena and Rohini took off to visit other exhibitions. Dorothy and I were soon swamped--lesson well learned: the opening is when there is the greatest traffic! Dorothy, fluent in French, was able to talk to visitors easily and to explain the stories behind some of the quilts. I, with my stumble-bum French, was happy to stand mutely nearby my work and pass out business cards announcing my online patchwork quilt classes at Academy of Quilting, set to open in early October.
One of my quilts on display was All That Jazz. A few years ago, I discovered on YouTube some videos by Margaret Fabrizio about the Siddi women quilters of Karnataka, India. I was fascinated by the way the women constructed patchwork quilts entirely without prior piecing. I made a few of these quilts for myself, testing ideas about construction and design.
Later, I presented a lecture to members of the Kenya Quilt Guild about the Siddi women, and Margaret's and my own work completed with Siddi quilting methods. Dorothy was present that day, and readily understood that she could teach these methods to a self-help group of women, the Salama Mamas.
Dorothy carried quilts from the Salama Mamas to the European Patchwork Meeting, and she told everyone who would listen about them. Working with the Mamas led to modifications in both sewing and design. Dorothy helped the women develop a new way to finish the outer edges, the quilts have no batting but are constructed on Masai shukas (heavy blankets), and the hand sewing goes all over the place, but the resulting products are unusual and they were big hits at the show. Both quilts sold!
We carried on exhibiting and selling for four solid days, with each of us coming and going to support the others while still trying to see something of the rest of the EPM. We sold elephant challenge quilts with the proceeds going to support the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and we sold giraffe challenge quilts with the proceeds to go to the Giraffe Centre conservation efforts. We sold some beaded bangles on behalf of the Guild, and we sold Kenya Quilt Guild calendars, theme "zebra," and that money goes toward Grevy's zebra conservation.
I discovered amongst the elephant quilts one made by my friend Donna Pido in memory of my ex-sister-in-law Lynne Leakey, who passed away suddenly of a brain aneurism a couple of years ago. Knowing both women made the quilt special to me. The Kiswahili phrase loosely translated to "Save Our Elephants." I traded the Kenya Quilt Guild sponsorship of an orphaned baby elephant for the quilt and packed it to travel back to Kenya with me.
In the end, we were five tired but happy and proud exhibitors. Our exhibition was the talk of the event, we made lots of new friends and saw some familiar faces like Frauke Schramm, Martine Chamorel, Lynn Edwards, Maggie Vanderweit and Dawn Willer who often works as an interpreter for EPM teachers. For me, the event was something like a homecoming, and I'm delighted I made the journey and was part of this fantastic effort!
Watch this space! We're working on other possible venues around the world, places where we can show off quilts made by Kenya Quilt Guild members!
All set and ready to fly to France for the European Patchwork Meeting! Bags packed with clothes and quilts for exhibition, electronics to keep in touch and a few little surprises along the way, like the dark chocolate blueberry bar in my tote—a treat for having to spend a long evening at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport!
After a red-eye flight via Amsterdam (sorry—layover not long enough for shopping!) Dorothy Stockell, chairwoman of the Kenya Quilt Guild and I will be transported to our hotel in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, home of the Amish and their fabulous quilt makers!
We will have the rest of the day to relax from the journey. The we must hang the sixty something quilts we carry there and make ready our part of the exhibition.
If you are in the neighborhood please call in and say hello. Dorothy, Amber, Rohini, Veena and I will be there to welcome you and show you what the Kenya Quilt Guild has been doing!