Monday, November 20, 2017

International Quilt Festival–Ricky Timms seminar

When I started thinking about classes to take at IQF, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to do anything that would mean carrying a bunch of supplies with me.  Also, I was going to the show for inspiration and not really for new techniques. So, when I saw the Ricky Timms seminar called “Dream It, Design It, Make It”, I knew that it was for me. 

And, I was not disappointed.   He spent his three hours showing us some basic design elements and techniques and encouraging us to go forth and create….just what I needed to hear.

He first began talking about Skills and Technical Excellence.  He defined “technical excellence “ as how well you did what you INTENDED to do!!  He also commented that intuition can take you so far in the creative process and when you have exhausted it then the technical knowledge kicks in.   How many times have I seen that in my work!!!

Next he worked thru the various elements that make up a quilt, starting with LINE.  His comment here was that it was the artist’s job to control the viewer and that the use of lines was an excellent way to do that.

Then came SHAPE with him hypothesizing that shape is more powerful than color.   To demonstrate this, he told us that when we saw the next slide we were to shout out what color it was.  The only problem was that the shape of the object said BLUE but it was printed in RED.   Almost all of us immediately said “Blue” but then quickly changed our answer to “Red”.

The third element was VALUE.  I loved his comment that “color gets the credit but value does the work”.  He encouraged us to spend time in the areas of our quilt that contain contrast (and interest) and not to sweat the other areas of the quilt as no one will be looking there anyway!!!

Fourth was TEXTURE, which he called the “surface character”.   He further defined this by saying that it doesn’t have to be touchable with our hands but can be touched with our eyes.

The last two elements were SPACE (positive and negative) and FORM (has height, depth and width).

In the second hour he moved into the principles of organization which he reminded were only guidelines and NOT laws…..

Harmony  -  glues all of the parts together

Variety  -  the counterweight to Harmony

Contrast  -  change and shift size and color

Elaboration  -  Embellish, embellish, embellish!!

Balance  -  Symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial

Proportion  -  keeping things in scale, although whimsy is created when things are out of proportion.

Dominance & Emphasis  -  Make what is important…..IMPORTANT

Movement  -  takes the viewer on a journey

Economy  -  Keep it simple and go back to basics.  As Leonardo daVinci said….“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

My favorite quote of the entire workshop is that he loves the dialog between himself and his design wall……what a great way to think of it!!

He ended the workshop with an encouragement for us to look at the things that keep us creating and the things that hinder our creativity, and then he told us to go home and BE CREATIVE!!!

On that note, I met Linda again and we hit the floor again to see what we could see…..IMG_4471

The show was divided into a lot of smaller exhibits.  One of our favorites was by Danny Amazonas, a magnificent fiber artist from Japan.  The first quilt that we saw was this HUGE Koi pond…..


We walked around the corner and saw even more wonderful pieces…..



….and my all time favorite……


Now, technically they were not quilts as they just had a backing and no batting, but the way that he used the fabrics was astounding.  I also loved that he used only commercial fabrics and I could point to many that I owned as well.   He finished the top with what looked like a free motion zig-zag stitch done with monofilament thread.  If you google his name there are several videos showing his work in progress.

The other exhibit that I loved was the Cherrywood Fabric “Van Gogh” challenge.   The rules were as follows…..

Most of the quilt top had to use the official VAN GOGH blues and black Cherrywood fabrics. Accent colors of Cherrywood were allowed. The  entire quilt top and binding had to be made from Cherrywood Fabric and was to be 20 inches square.  Any technique or fabric manipulation was acceptable as long as it maintained the color and character of a textile quilt.  

The results were magnificent…..


….and of course I was drawn to the sunflower…..IMG_4162

I excitedly looked to see what the next challenge is and found a bundle of royal purple fabrics……Image of The PRINCE Challenge

….but the theme is “Prince”.  Not being much of a Prince fan I am not sure that I will participate but I will definitely keep an eye out for future challenges!  My friend Deb has encouraged me to go ahead and buy the fabric just in case inspiration strikes!!!

I spent much of my time studying the exquisite machine quilting that was shown.  The texture that can be achieved is so exciting…..IMG_4180




This quilt by Kristin Vierra called “Star of India” was magnificent…..


….as was “Wickedly Green” by Debora Poole…..


I left this exhibit with LOTS of ideas for making a whole cloth quilt!!!

One final comment for the day….. I spent quite a bit of time with Cynthia England, author of the book “Picture Piecing”…..

I have been enamored with her quilts for many years but never thought that I would be able to pull off the technique.  But, she very patiently demonstrated her technique and answered a myriad of questions which increased my excitement about trying it sometime.   She posed in front of my absolute favorite of her quilts……


I left her booth with a new found respect for her!!!IMG_4397

Linda had a class that afternoon so we met up again at 5:00 and headed out to find someplace to eat.   The only problem was that a parade to honor the World Series Champion Houston Astros had just ended and approximately 1 MILLION Houstonians were downtown as well so finding someplace with a wait time of less than 3 hours was a bit of a challenge.  We finally stopped at a McAlister’s Deli and spent a fun evening sitting outside and watching the city of Houston walk past!!

One day left……

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Highlights of the International Quilt Festival–Machine Quilting Forum

After doing a quick view of the quilts on the opening night, I woke up early on Thursday morning ready to start getting serious about the show.   I began the morning with my first class….the Machine Quilting Forum.  I had no idea exactly what this would be like but ended up enjoying three very informative hours. 

The session began with each of six women giving a short talk, telling us how they came to be a quilter and what had influenced their art over the years.  We then split into groups and spent 20 minutes with each quilter and learned some amazing things…..

My first session was with Cathy Wiggins who specializes in quilting on LEATHER and boy did she get my attention quickly…..IMG_4194

Being a cowgirl at heart, her work made my head spin!!  And, the thought of collaborating with Michael in some of his leather work just seemed too good to be true.  She gave us some basic information and told us that she has a book coming out in March….  “Quilting Leather on Any Machine”.  And yes, she does all of this work on a regular home sewing machine!!  She said that the only requirement was that you use a “leather needle” which actually cuts a hole in the leather rather than just pushing it thru like a fabric needle does.  I loved the textures that she could get from the leather…..IMG_4197

And I have to admit that I have already bought some needles and given it a try with some of Michael’s leftover leather scraps.  I am thinking that his leather is a bit too thick for the job but I have pre-ordered her book and cant wait to have a full-fledged try with it in the Spring.  The most daunting thing about the process is that, because the needle actually cuts a hole into the leather, you cant make a mistake because it will show…..YIKES!!

Cathy had one quilt in the show itself, a piece called “Another Day”……IMG_4289

All too soon the bell sounded and it was time to move on to Patt Blair who talked about ways to make “knife-edge” facings to your art quilts, and just look at her magnificent quilts…..  IMG_4199

Her biggest trick is that she does some stay-stitching at various points of the process and also trims extremely close to the edge of the piece.   Her technique is described in detail on her blog at  I will definitely remember it the next time I am finishing up a quilt!!

The next session was with Nancy Goldsworthy who talked about “The Art of the Pantograph”.  It was obviously designed more for long-arm quilters although she did talk about using the pantograph on a home machine by piercing it and using a pouncer to chalk in a design.  My favorite thing with her was her encouragement to stop and play and to break the rules!!!  Sometimes we need to hear those things!!!

Next was Jenny Lyon who talked about “Finessing your Free Motion Quilting – Small Changes = Big Results”.  And, based on the pieces that she had hanging behind her, she knows what she is talking about…..IMG_4203

Her basic message was to pay attention to some of the routine choices that you make when working on a quilt and then see how much difference they make.  There were two things that she said that stuck with me.  The first was what batting to use.  I have to admit that I tend to use the easiest one around, which in my case is a fusible from Hobbes.  I know that I really should try different ones, but often it just seems easier to use what I am used to.   Maybe I can branch out one of these days!!!   The other thing that she talked about was basting and this is really the reason that I love the fusible so much.    You dont have ANY pins to dodge when you are quilting  AND you dont have to use a messy spray.   However, her basting method might just work.   She pin bastes on a grid and then uses water soluble thread (top and bobbin) to stitch between the pins.  Once that is done she removes the pins and is able to work on the basted piece with worrying about pins.  And, the water soluble thread easily washes out…..hmmmm…something to think about!!

The 5th session was with RaNae Merrill who has just come out with a book called “Free Motion Mastery”.  Her teaching approach focuses on 6 basic shapes (straight line, C-Curve, Circle, Teardrop, S-Curve and spiral), with the assumption that once you have mastered those, you can easily quilt almost any design around.  The one tip that I really liked from her was to practice the design you are about to quilt by drawing in the air or on a table, but holding both hands together just like you would at the machine.


She suggests holding a small acrylic ruler in your hands or even just a piece of clear acetate with a dot drawn on it.   I can really see how this would build muscle memory and hopefully make it easier to quilt some of the designs.

My last session of the morning was with Catherine Redford, a spunky English lady who does some amazing modern quilts and does almost entirely straight line quilting…..IMG_4211

She had a couple of interesting tips.   The first was to run a stiletto down a seam before stitching in the ditch.  She said that it helped to open the seam and make it easier to keep the stitching in the right place.   Now, the other tip was one that I shouldn’t have to be TOLD but….. have you ever used masking tape to mark straight lines?  I have tried it and always got frustrated because I would accidently stray onto the tape and then I had a big mess to deal with.   She reminded us that we didn’t have to sew RIGHT next to the tape but could use it as a guide and stitch a 1/4 inch away from the edge…..DUH!!!

After I got out of class I met up with Linda and we decided to hit a few rows of vendors!!  My first purchase was this cute batik piece…..


I am not sure exactly why it called to me, but I cant wait to layer it up and have some fun with quilting it!!!

After a while, we ended back at the quilt show end of the auditorium.  Here are a few of my favorites……

The piecing was amazing in “Red and White Stars”, made by a group of women from the Austin area…..


The most amazing thing about the quilt is the fact that it was made by a GROUP of women….how did they ever get such complicated blocks to fit together so well!!!

There was a wonderful exhibit called “Made in New Mexico” and this quilt kept calling me back over for another look……IMG_4230

It was titled “Old Blue” by Michelle Jackson and was made with fusible applique.  On one of my passes by the quilt I finally noticed that it had a tulle layer over the applique…..IMG_4234

This is a technique that I have been wanting to try so looked at this quilt with even more appreciation!!

We spoke to the maker of this quilt, Karlyn Lohrenz, for a long time.  It was part of an exhibit featuring just her work and she seemed completely overwhelmed that her work was in such prominence at the show.  IMG_4238

Ok….enough for now…..more to come!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Moving on….

It has been FIVE weeks since I last posted and I have to admit that I have had little motivation to do so.   When the last post ended, we were in the middle of our trip to Washington DC.  We spent the last two days there enjoying Arlington Cemetery, the Air & Space Museum and a magnificent “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant called “Ray’s Hell Burger”!!! 

We easily made the trip home, entering the house to find beautiful new floors and lots of dust to be cleaned up!!  The next 10 days were used to clean the house and get things ready for the furniture to be returned. 

But, something happened this past week that has made me encouraged and excited to get back into quilting AND blogging.

A week ago (the 1st of November) my friend Linda and I flew from Atlanta to Houston for the International Quilt Festival!!! 


We knew that we were in the right place when the taxi driver said, in broken English, “Are you here for the quilts?”

Downtown Houston was ready for us, with areas festooned with color…..IMG_4078

We checked into our hotel and then made our way to register and pick up our packets, followed by a wonderful Tex-Mex dinner at Pappasitos…..


While we were waiting for our meal, I checked out the show program and was so excited to find this entry…..


Now I REALLY couldn’t wait to get to the show…. and it definitely lived up to the hype.  It was such a thrill to turn the corner and see my quilt hanging amongst the others from the “Tactile Architecture” exhibit….


And then to get closer…IMG_4104

…..and read the artist statement….IMG_4105

….and finally to listen to the recording that I had made several months ago.  This is the text of that statement…..

“Hello there.

I am Frances Arnold from Bishop, Georgia and I hope that you are enjoying my quilt, “Himalayan Hallows”.

I almost feel that this quilt should be called “Serendipity” because so many things happened during the construction that were not planned by me but ended up being exactly what I wanted to portray. I started the project knowing that I wasn’t sure how I would complete it and that at any point, I might ruin it, but decided that I just wanted to enjoy the process and see what happened.

As I worked on it, I thought about our 10 days of trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp and how the mountain called Machapucherie was always in our view. It is the highest peak portrayed in the quilt.

I also fondly remembered the Nepalese guides and porters who assisted us on this journey, and of the great care that they showed for each of the trekkers. I remembered how hard it was to say goodbye to them at the end of the trip and how we waved and waved until they were out of sight.

Finally, as I worked, I could smell the wood smoke pouring from the teahouses and hear the sound of the bells that hung around the necks of the pack animals that walked the trails with us.

My husband and I are privileged to have the opportunity to travel overseas a lot and I love making quilts that come from these journeys, but this one will always have a very special place in my heart and in my mind.”

And the final step was a photo in front of it…..


Ok….now that I have done all of that, I can enjoy the rest of the show and it was a magnificent one with 1500 quilts and hundreds of vendors!!

More about that to come……soon…..I promise!!

Monday, October 2, 2017

How to enjoy a Sunday in DC…..

One of the other events that I found on the “Things to do in DC” website was a Jazz Brunch at a Cajun restaurant called Acadiana.  When we saw that it was less than a mile away from the apartment, we made a decision that it was THE place to be on a Sunday morning, and we were not disappointed!!!

After a lovely walk thru the quiet streets of Washington, we arrived at the beautiful restaurant and were soon seated.  Our booth was situated between two large mirrors and I loved the optical illusion that I faced as we ate….. IMG_3935As the band set up we started perusing the menu, trying to decide which of the delicacies we would try.

But first we were encouraged to try one of the $5 cocktails!!   Michael opted for the Cajun Bloody Mary while I chose the “Bourbon Lemonade" which was made with muddled blackberries and homemade lemonade.    IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!IMG_3931

The menu was set up as a “fixed price” selection so you paid one price but got an appetizer, main course and dessert.  After much consideration I got the Fried Green Tomatoes with a shrimp and cocktail sauce topping…..


…and Michael enjoyed the Blue Cheese and Bacon salad…..IMG_3934

Next came the main courses of Jambalaya…..IMG_3940

…..and Shrimp and Grits (a Grits cake)……IMG_3939

By this stage we were completely stuffed but we couldn’t leave without dessert….

….a Pecan torte for Michael…..IMG_3942

…. and “Chocolate Doberge Cake” for me……IMG_3943

We rolled out of the restaurant and down the street to our apartment.  When we got there it was all that I could do to make it to the bed to crash out for about an hour….and remember that the bed is only 15 feet from the apartment door!!!   Oh yeah….the jazz band was great and was a fun background to the meal, but the food was DEFINITELY the highlight of the morning!!

Later in the day, after I had recovered from the food and alcohol of the morning, we caught the Metro and headed to the Jefferson Monument.  After disembarking at the “Smithsonian” terminal, we walk a bit and came to the Tidal Basin off of the Potomac River and loved our initial view of the monument…..IMG_0522

A few minutes of walking brought us to the monument itself, but first we had to stop and appreciate the Washington monument to one side of us…..IMG_0523

The monument itself is gorgeous and was obviously the place to be on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon…..IMG_0526

The statue itself was fairly plain…..

IMG_0531We did try to figure out what he was standing in front of…IMG_0536….possibly a stand with some books sitting on it.   I have tried to find this on Google but haven’t had any luck so far.

I did enjoy looking at the dome structure and thinking how fun it would be to make a quilt in this sort of a design…..

IMG_0534After one last walk around the monument…..


…..we walked the 2 miles back to the apartment, ending our Sunday in DC!!

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