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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Summer Fun

I can’t believe it is June already.    It is a busy time for me,  with about half of my extended family having birthdays or anniversaries between Father’s Day and mid July.   This year we also have a few weddings, and of course Liz is graduating High School and getting ready to go away to college.    Time flies.

This is why I always fill our summer schedule with playful and out of the box techniques.   It is too hard to work complex piecing,  fussy applique or super dense quilting in around all the BBQs.     So I our June offering is super fun.     I’ll give you the secret to carving a word on a a stamp and having it come out readable.   It is actually pretty simple.   CIMG_7108hoosing the right word might actually be more challenging.       Then we will use your unique stamp to create some squares of fabric and once they are dry we will use them to make a project.    If you get enough you can make    a wall/throw size quilt like I did,  or you can do a table runner, or even a just a pillow top.    Your resulting fabrics can be used just like any regular quilt fabric,  except that they are more special because no one will ever have fabric exactly like yours.     How cool is that?    And it is easy and fun.

The group class is on the schedule for June 13 and 27.   Session one for carving and printing,  session two for sewing.    It is a good idea in classes to isolate the paint,  paint


water and messy stuff from the rotary tools,  pins and electronics of a sewing machine.    Ask me how I know.   My all purpose studio at home has taught me some valuable ( and expensive ) lessons.    Paint and print ink also seems to dry faster in the summer.    Call us, comment here,  or come visit and register in person.    We can also arrange a session for July if there is interest.   Supply List is on the showcase page.

One other thing I need to mention, is that I made a mistake,  the Row by Row program starts on June 21,  not the first.   I am sorry that you now have to wait longer for your kit,   The first was my deadline for getting it finished so you can understand why that day stuck in my mind.    I will be re stringing my guitar this weekend and rehearsing for a bit longer so when I do get to play for you it will be even better.


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Sew Musical

I am excited to announce that this years Row by Row theme is Sew Musical.   As a player of classical guitar the imagery for our contribution was an obvious choice.    Besides it being an amazing sounding instrument, the way that the curves of its shape contrast with the grid formed by the frets and the strings has intrigued me from a visual perspective.      The great Andres Segovia gave this piece its title,  he said,  “The Guitar is a small orchestra, it is polyphonic.  Every string is a different color, a different voice.”  small orchestra RXR2018

We chose the new format of 18 inches square because of its visual impact and the ability of a piece this size and shape to stand alone.   Small Orchestra  works as a wall hanging or pillow top as well as a block in a larger Row by Row Quilt.     We used machine applique and hand embroidery for the strings, but you can easily fuse the applique and put the strings in with the quilting instead.

In addition,   since I do play, I will be keeping a guitar at the shoppe for the duration of the Row by Row program and will play for anyone who buys a kit.   I am not quite as good as Segovia was,  but I do play with the Mid Hudson Classical Guitar Society, and am happy to make some beautiful sounds for you.

This weekend is Memorial Day,  and since we are usually closed on Mondays anyway, we will have regular hours over the weekend.   In fact, I usually park in front of the store for the parade Monday Morning.   If you see me and need something just ask.    Here’s hoping for good weather — and some good music.



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The Big Event

It is easy to be distracted by life.   The little things of everyday,  but the planning and work that goes into the big events too can totally prevent us from spending time for ourselves and our hobbies.     Things like babies being born,  graduations and proms, weddings, even moving houses,  can completely remove us from things we are CAP-AND-GOWN_PHOTO_-LOS-FELIZ_JUNE-2015_PHOTO-CREDIT-GETTY-IMAGES-copy-2passionate about.      Even though these things are positive and exciting, they are transitions that can be filled with stresses too.    I think that is why they are often celebrated and commemorated with quilts.    How many of you made your first quilt for a baby?     Tonight is my last Spring Concert for the school band.   They do a thing in this piece where one by one all the Seniors put down their instruments and walk off  the stage.    I have cried through this number every year and now that my daughter is one of the Graduating class I am almost in tears thinking about it now.   Yikes.   But she is getting a new quilt for going away to college next year – of course.    Tomorrow is the Royal Wedding,  and our Crazy Quilt club will have tea at the monthly meeting, how many of us have made a r special quilt as a wedding gift?       If you made one and want to share we would love to see pictures.

wedding preparation

So life’s big events are quilted.    Why?  because the making is therapeutic and guarantees that we take a few minutes to think.   The end result is a long-lasting reminder of the Happiness and love that led to the big event,  and when the stresses of life get to us they are a hug from a friend that you can take with you no matter where you go in life.   Not to mention they are beautiful.

No matter what your skill level there is a quilt project you can complete to celebrate the big event.    We are here to help – with new fabrics arriving shortly, and projects patterns or workshops for every occasion and skill level.     We are here to help make your big event extra special.   Congratulations!!




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