Here’s Looking

The last few weeks we have been examining principles of design.   Now the question is what do I do with it?    Well the obvious answer is design a quilt,  and I can help you do that if that is your desire,  but not everyone will want to do that.    However, everyone reading this is going to look at quilts.     It is also true that those who look at quilts will see some that they like, and some they don’t.    Your knowledge of the design principles can help you express your opinion in an educated and helpful way.    You will now be able to understand what you are seeing and how your eyes and emotions are being led by any given image.   ( That goes for advertising too )     If you truly look at the images around you with the principles in mind you will quickly come to understand the common factors in what you like,  and what you don’t.     While I have it in mind I want to remind you all that during quilt show and fair season it is ok to not like a piece,  if you need to express a negative opinion out loud please do so in a respectful manner.    Use the principles to explain your opinion in a manner that helps the listeners understand more clearly.     The quilt maker or her friends may just be in earshot.    So here are a few questions that you can ponder to help your looking be productive for yourself and those around you.    ( and one of my all time favorite paintings to practice looking at.  )


Starry Night by Vincent Can Gogh

Is the composition well balanced?   If not why?

How are the harmonies and dynamics increasing the overall message or emotion being conveyed?

Are there rhythms and patterns that support or interfere with the dynamics?

Does the color support the other elements?

And of course as quilters we also need to look at technique,  is it structurally sound?   How does the technique work with the design elements?

There are so many ways to begin to look with an educated eye,  I hope that each of you will practice this skill.   Looking with awareness is perhaps the greatest tool I can introduce  to you.    It can apply to many other life situations and will enrich many experiences.       Before I close,   I want to remind you that Crazy Quilt Club is tomorrow,   and that if you are going to submit for the fair booth I need to know asap.    There are some great fun pieces coming in,   thank you for all of it!!




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For today we are back to our discussion of the principles of design.    Value in the case of design means how dark or light a color is.   Tone speaks to intensity using words like pastel, muted,  or bold.     Tone and value often work together, and controlling these two principles allows you to create three-dimensional illusions.    The trip around the world in greens is an example of changing the value in order to achieve an more dimensional effect.     You can also use this


idea in tumbling blocks,  attic windows and half hexies for amazing optical illusions.        So in music,  value is called volume,  and  tone is described with words like soft, muted, bell-like,  and clear.     In music it is hard to have beautiful tone if your instrument is out of tune, or in disrepair.

I feel that I need to address the idea of value and tone on another level also as these two words have applications the go beyond the arts.    When artists in any media refer to good tone or the right value,  it is a relative thing.   The subtle manipulations of these principles in a work are key to the expressive quality,  often collectively referred to as the dynamics.     When the differences are large it is very dynamic, when they are small it is not.   Good use of dynamics can make or break an artwork.    This is for many,  the trickiest of the design principles to master,  but it is worth the work.

Tuesday the 17th is the rescheduled day for hand and stumpwork clubs,  and on Saturday the 21 we have our crazy quilt meeting.    For more information of  any of our clubs check the club new page, and if you are new to a club please let us know you are planning to attend.

Don’t forget to send me the info on any projects you have done with me that you would like to display.   I need to know by the end of next week.   Thank you!!

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Call for entries

I am looking for projects you have done with me that you would be willing to display in a booth at the Dutchess County Fair this summer.    I have already spoken to some of you about this, but if I haven’t here’s the lowdown.   I am being given the opportunity to show my work and that of my students/customers in a booth in the craft building at the fair this year.    I know it seems early, but there is much curating and paperwork involved so I am asking that if you have work to show please inform me by July 21.    I will need your name, the title of the piece, title of the class/workshop/club project if you can remember,  date completed and approximate size.    A photo also helpsIMG_7095 but is not required.  If you wish to say anything else about the piece that is acceptable as well.   ( This was the first time I quilted it myself type things are interesting to the general public. )    I don’t know yet how many pieces may come in and I reserve the right to not display a piece based on space limitations, but there will be no judging.       I have not shown my personal work in quite some time and it is good to be able to do so,  and I am even more excited that I am being given the chance to share that opportunity with you.     The single most important thing that I want to share with you my loyal customers and friends, and yes the whole world is the inspiration to exercise creativity.   This display at the fairgrounds will allow me to reach a whole new set of people and hopefully inspire a few of them to let their creativity loose in the world.


Today we have to close at 1 pm,  and Tuesday we will also be closed ( orientation at my daughter’s college!!! )  so Hand stitchers and stumpwork clubs will meet on the 17th instead.    The Civil War sampler will meet tomorrow at 9 am as scheduled.      I have updated the clubs pages with pertinent information on all of it.     Next week we will get back to our discussion of design principles.



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Rhythm and Balance

Continuing our exploration of how the principles of design cross from music to quilts and back,  we will look at Rhythm and Balance today.    Appropriately this morning my img_7110-e1530282338263.jpghusband had on the movie, The Blues Brothers.    It holds up pretty well, in part because of all the amazing cameos in it,  but also because the music is wonderful.    A good rhythm gets your toes tapping even before the morning coffee.   And that is the whole point of rhythm,   to keep things moving.    Feet, hands, and even the musicians keep time together because of rhythm.      In the visual arts,  drawing, painting and quilting,  rhythm is a word that can be harder to understand,  but it is still about how something moves,  in this case, your eyes.    When we talk about a print or pattern being too busy we are really saying that our eyes have no place to rest between stopping points and the rhythm is too fast and irregular.    Regular steady rhythms are stable and solid, but can be boring.    Great for all over patterns on a bed quilt where you will sleep under it, or a march where the band needs to step in time.      Introduction of an accent or syncopation can liven things up but you need to keep things from being overwhelming and that is where the principle of balance comes in.    Balance is like rhythm,  but zoomed in,  balance is the overall distribution of elements, and again, regular and centered is the calmest.

Lets look at Flow (  you can still take this workshop, call to make an appointment )  It is very balanced, there is a clear center and the elements are arranged equally around it.   This pulls your focus to the center, which is slightly different from the other blocks.   The rhythm is slightly syncopated, because the green squares are off-center in the block, and this keeps things interesting.   This piece is perhaps like a piece of slow jazz,   regular but slightly off rhythm,  a bit of improvising, and then back to the established rhythm,  nothing too discordant, but enough to keep you engaged.        small orchestra RXR2018

Our Row by Row has been picked up by people from as far away as Florida, and California,  and one lady who isn’t even doing the program saw our block online and drove all the way from Buffalo just to pick it up so she could make a few for her local guitar society.    How cool is that?    I hope she remembers to post photos when they are done.


Lastly a reminder that we will be closed on July 4.   Listen for the rhythms when you watch the parade!!, and stay balanced!!

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Shared Principles

Yesterday was the kickoff for the 2018 Row by Row program.   I am especially excited for this year because the theme is Sew Musical.      There are so many things that music and quilting have in common.    Even though a classical guitar performance and making a quilt are very different,  they have several shared principles that are worth exploring a bit.     At the First Dutchess Quilt Guild meeting this past Wednesday the guest speaker also briefly mentioned that the Design Principles apply to many disciplines,  and since the subject keeps coming up I thought it would be worth expanding on a few of them over the next couple of posts.

small orchestra RXR2018So the one that I will start with is Harmony.      When multiple notes in music sound pleasing together it is called harmony.    Likewise when several colors look pleasing together it is called harmony.      Now there are all kinds of harmonies in both music and quilts,   some are smooth and gentle like a Vivaldi waltz or soft gentle florals in a traditional block,    some are bold and loud  like heavy rock and roll or orange double-knit in a crazy quilt.     Each kind of harmony  has a different emotional impact.     Think about how you reacted when I said Waltz,   versus how you reacted when I said Rock and Roll.       Some sets of harmonies are universal enough to have names,   so you will hear of analogous colors, ( ones that are closely related )  or  key signatures in music,  that dictate the usual ways that the notes or colors are combined.     If these harmonies are violated there is dissonance.    This is sometimes an honest mistake by hitting a wrong note or choosing a color that doesn’t go,  but it can also be applied on purpose to create discomfort or bring the audience’s attention to something particular.

Another principle that applies to music and quilting is Dynamics.   This refers to how loud or soft,  how clean and crisp or muted and muddy,  or light and airy or heavy and dense,  and how these things change throughout the piece.   Notice that without me saying whether I was taking about music or quilts you couldn’t tell.    In Principles, the line between art forms is very blurred,  in fact sometimes you hear terms like tone-color used in a form (music)  where there isn’t really any color,  only what the audience is lead to imagine.      A quilt for a baby to sleep on should have lullaby colors and quiet dynamics,   a marching band should have bold strong brassy sounds to keep everyone moving.   The dynamics of piece should be moderated to its intended effect.

Tomorrow is Graduation day for my daughter,  so the shoppe will be closed.     Have a wonderful weekend and I will see you all next week.   The second part of the printed affirmations workshop will happen on Wednesday.  See you then.

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Creative Clutter

The process of making and creating is usually accompanied by lots of stuff.   In the excitement of the moment it isn’t important to put things away fully.    These two facts together make for clutter and sometimes downright mess or even, ahem,  chaos.   This has always been the case.    Our muse rarely shows up with a vacuum oprinted affirmations in processr dust cloth.   She shows up with tangles of thread,  fabric draped everywhere and possibly with paint on her hands and face.       This week we had the printing session for the printed affirmations workshop and the results were stunning.       It is good to have lots of space, and some plastic messy mats as you go along.      If you want a private session for printing call and make the appointment.


My husband found the black and white image in an antique shop.    Near as we can tell it is from the 1920s.   The machines are electrified,  there are 8 of them,  and they are still available,  I googled it.    They did a chain stitch and other embroidery.   How fun is this?  But even posing for a glass negative photograph with a shutter speed of up to 15 seconds,  there is still clutter on the table and all around.  The baskets at the far end of the table appear to be full of fabric scraps.

You are all probably also wanting to see a prom photo or two.     She had a great night with good friends and enjoyed every minute.   Preparations began with a hair appointment at 10:30 am,  then nails,  and then friends at our house getting ready.   It was a night none of them will forget.   They took photos at Montgomery Place.   She wanted to feel the Old Hollywood Glamour and  she achieved it.  So proud of my beautiful classy daughter.













Next Saturday the 23rd is graduation, so the Shoppe will be closed.    Time really flies, she was just starting Kindergarten when I took over  ownership.   Amazing.     The more things change the more they stay the same – in the studio and in life.     Here’s to the inevitable creative clutter.

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I know I mentioned this before, but my daughter is graduating High School.    Her prom is tomorrow, so I will be closing the shoppe at 2 pm to help her get ready and get some good photographs.     I recently found the photo from my oProm1985150dpiwn senior prom.    It was 1985,  but you probably didn’t guess that,  look at those shoulder ruffles.   And who could forget those long gloves.    But the youthful energy is there and I remember the excitement.   A limo ride, a formal occasion without family,  All my best friends will be there.    What great memories.    And I see all of that repeating as my daughter preps for her prom.   The fashion may change, but the event is still as significant.

So what does all this have to do with quilting?    Just like the institution of prom,   there are techniques and patterns that have stood the test of time.    The fabrics and color scheme might have changed,   but the basics are there,  connecting us to the millions of quilters who came before us.   Every time a new quilter picks up a tip or technique from a more experienced one the legacy is strengthened.    It is a reassuring thing to see in our crazy world.    Generations bonded together by a common thread.   I promise that next week I will post a photo of my girl, so we can see how things have changed and still stayed the same.


Batik stamp for printing


Next week is going to be busy here.   On Tuesday we have our handstitchers and stumpwork clubs,  Wednesday is the printing portion of the affirmations project.  There are 2 seats left.  Let me know if you want me to save one of them for you.   The print block you make in class will be used on fabric but can also be printed on paper and used in scrap books,  cards,  Art Journals and anywhere else that your imagination can dream up.    And last, but never least, Saturday is a Crazy Quilt Club Day.      Come get involved and be part of the legacy.   –  No prom dress needed.

The photo is a hand carved wooden Batik Stamp.   You need not be so fancy,  but it is part of the tradition you will take part in when you take Wednesdays workshop.    Enjoy Continue reading

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