James

20130927-untitledThis is “James”, my entry into A RVA Runs Through It, which is a special exhibit at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest (MAQF) this weekend in Hampton, Virginia.

The Richmond Quilters Guild sponsored this exhibit, and it seemed a natural for me to enter using photography as well as quilting.

My Artist Statement—

“I am not a native. As a transplanted New Yorker, the songs that Richmond sings to me aren’t necessarily the same ones a native hears, and I am ok with that! (Obits in my hometown paper for a 97 year old read “Brooklyn native, brought to Staten Island as an infant.”) I get it.

This is the first in a planned series of YoYo quilts. Painted Cheese cloth and Yo-Yo’s depict Class III and IV Whitewater Rafting, surrounded by photos I’ve taken of favorite spots in RVA.”

I love to take photos of the James River, and of things in Richmond that I enjoy.

I have an outsiders appreciation of the place—I don’t focus on the political or Civil War, but I do love a lot about Richmond, and the parallel’s to my former New York life aren’t lost on me. I was born in Richmond County, New York. (More popularly known as Staten Island.)  Staten Island is to Manhattan what Colonial Heights is to Richmond, VA.  Manhattanites stare blankly when you say Staten Island, and when I say Colonial Heights up in Richmond I get that same vacant stare, a level of disbelief that I have wandered so far afield and north of the river.  I went from the forgotten borough to the outer suburban edge of this metro area. It takes almost as long to get to downtown Richmond as it did to get to downtown Manhattan, although the mode of transport is very different. Car.  Not bus, then boat, then train.

The quilt came about the way most good things do. I was walking around the IQF in Houston just after Super storm Sandy, and my mind was distracted by thoughts of home, of the devastation, and I had a certain amount of survivors guilt, being there in TX enjoying life, while so many of my family and friends were battling this storm; seeing all the news reports, and just this sense of doom, and dread for my hometown, and all the places I knew so well.

The idea for this quilt came from that day, because walking through the quilt show in Houston, my mind being pelted with an overload of visual stimulation, I had suddenly envisioned a quilt about Sandy. And, once that came to me, it broke through my inability to buy fabric, to settle on things I liked. I bought fabrics and I knew it would have YoYo’s, and I had very specific ideas, but I wasn’t totally ready to make it. So, it sat, aging, as my quilts often do.

When this challenge was announced, “James” came to me, almost fully formed; so many of the thoughts about Sandy that I hadn’t yet realized just lined up and became this quilt.

Sandy is still going to happen. It’s closer now, than it had been before. This piece was very much a test run.

 

The photos on the quilt are all mine, and are all available to purchase at my website.  This takes you to one page where most of the images are, but please, explore more of Richmond and  more of my photos!

My understanding is after this 4-day show, the entire RVA exhibit will be at a church in Richmond for the month of March. (I believe it is Shady Grove, but am not positive, nor do I have details.) Watch this space for further information.

Vote for me!

Both Aunt Gene and my great grandmother Miriam suffered from Alzheimer’s.

To say they were eccentric is to put it mildy….Aunt Gene lived in this house from childhood till her mid 80’s.  No one was EVER allowed upstairs.  I remember there being strings of used teabags hung across the window by the back door, so they could be used more than once.  They washed their tinfoil.  Aunt Gene never tossed a plastic container away.

When she got closer to leaving the house, she would give me random items…. ONE of a set of antimacassars–because if she gave me a matching set, I might sell it!!! A huge Hellmans jar of buttons and zippers. An isinglass toaster. A jar full of shells. Cardboard pieces wrapped with a few yards of hand made lace (by her, my great great grandmother or my great grandmother…)

When I made this, I wanted for nothing to be new. The main fabric was selvages, the netting from another project, the buttons from that jar, the teabag from a cup I enjoyed…

Spread the word!! IF you go to this link, my quilt is the last one (called Wouldn’t Aunt Gene Be Proud)…VOTE for me!  Ask your friends too!! march 2006 wouldn't aunt gene be proud1Thanks! http://quiltinggallery.com/2013/02/0…rative-quilts/

Kitty….

My dad was a cat man; the story goes how when my mother was in the hospital giving birth to me, my father was home helping  Scrapper, the cross-eyed cat he brought home in a motorcycle bag, deliver her first litter of kittens.

He let me have a cat that lived with him that I named Tinkerbell when I was little.  When he died (two years ago today), I believe he was owned by about 6 cats.

I asked his girlfriend if I could have some of his ubiquitous flannel shirts (EASY to shop for at Christmas, plaid flannel never goes out of style)….I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them but I needed to own them.

They hung around the studio for a while, while I was trying to decide what I wanted to do, and then it occurred to me. Rather than making only one quilt with the shirts, or a number of wall hangings for all us kids, I could make stuffed animals—and cats seemed the obvious choice.

This is Meece:

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I found a simple stuffed animal pattern on the web. Sorry, I don’t recall where, it was a while back. I wanted something with a minimum of parts, and nothing too fussy.

I totally ignored the fabric requirements. The pattern was only for the actual shapes.

This is what I did: (and, no, I didn’t take pictures)

  1. Wash all the shirts. Their weights do not have to be the same. (I had 4)
  2. Reverse engineer all the shirts (fancy way of saying take them apart!!!!) I used a seam ripper and pair of snips. Cut off collar, button placket and cuffs. SAVE BUTTONS. Open up the entire remaining shirt, seam by seam. LEAVE pockets intact. Do not worry if there are balding patches or parts that haven’t faded.
  3. Press with steam. Use starch if the fabric is really flimsy.
  4. Using a straight edge and rotary cutter, straighten the edges. Don’t cut fabric into perfect shapes. This is really about just eliminating some of the curvier edges. (you will end up with many sided, uneven geometric shapes )
  5. Purchase the thinnest available fusible interfacing, and according to manufacturers directions, iron all fabric pieces onto interfacing, wrong side touching fusible.  Cut away excess interfacing.
  6. Try to not worry about grain, pattern or any of that. Just take two pieces that have a similar length side and sew them together, with right sides together. (standard quilter 1/4 inch)  Press seam open. Grab another piece and attach this to one of the sides of the previous piece.
  7. You are basically making a big piece of fabric. Resist the urge to square off! You may need to snip off a bit so you can find a flush edge.
  8. Stop when you feel the piece begins to get unwieldy, or you can’t find a good place to sew onto.

Now, you are going to make cats! How many are you making?IMG_0044

  1. Find the primary pattern piece (biggest body, and face, for example.) Place the paper pattern anywhere on your new piece of plaid patchwork.  Keep in mind WHERE the POCKETS will end up when doing so (right side up, etc)
  2. Do not obsess about grain or any color matching.
  3. Cut out those shapes the number of times you need to make your cats.
  4. DO NOT toss your scraps! Keep cutting out your pattern pieces. 
  5. When you have a lot of scraps, sew them back together, like you did at the beginning. (straighten a bit, sew together, iron.)
  6. Continue cutting pattern pieces, “making” more fabric whenever necessary.
  7. Build your cats. Sew and stuff according to directions.
  8. Hint: Sew buttons on for eyes and stitch black whiskers before sewing or stuffing head.
  9. I made a little ‘dog tag’ out of Shrinky Dink material that I ran through the printer with a photo of Dad and a phrase on the back, which I put on the cats as a collar.IMG_4740IMG_4741

I sewed all the scraps back together a few more times, and made little 5 inch tall stocking ornaments that I did a quick blanket stitch around the top.  2012-11 NOV 28-2

The cats all found homes with his sons, his granddaughter, his sister, his girlfriend and myself. The stocking ornaments were given to other family and friends.

A hint or two : This fabric is valuable in that it is a memory and you have only a finite amount.. If you are making a lot or cats, or you are not comfortable sewing, you may want to make a mock up out of muslin, so you can see if there are adjustments to the pattern you want to make, before you start cutting.  You can always sew the mistake pieces back onto the new fabric you are making, and try over, but…. 

Also, if you feel that there won’t be enough fabric, you may want to run to Goodwill and buy a shirt so you have a little insurance. Or you could mix in some other family fabric item.

There is no reason this can’t be made from women’s dresses, dress shirts and kids clothing,—and/or! It’s a patchwork cat, after all!

(linking to Off the Wall Friday!)

Post-Houston..

…I’m back. The heck with Sandy my ass. Sandy  destroyed huge swathes of my home town, of my childhood. I purposely chose to avoid as much of the televised experience as I could. I preferred it that way after 9-11, when we had no TV because our antennas had been on the towers. I preferred it that way this time as well.

It hurts my heart to see photos posted on Facebook. It is worse as days go on, and more and more people come back to post, finally with power, and tell their unique, yet universal, tales of woe. It pleases me beyond measure to see my forgotten borough of Staten Island behaving in such civic minded and neighborly ways, via the magic of Facebook. And now, a week out, news cycles later, with the wonderfully Hooloovoo color our country turned on Tuesday with the election, we need to remember it isn’t over, not by a long shot. New York and New Jersey will be suffering for a long time to come.

But, this post isn’t about that. It’s about QUILTS! And fabric. And the International Quilt Show in Houston, TX. (my photos,– none my quilts!– with placards after each piece. It requires a password. IQF/12 ) Enjoy!

The show was amazing. Fantabulous, even. Just inspiring and tiring and crazy large, and overwhelming and just perfect. I met so many wonderful artists at the SAQA/Quilt Art reception hosted by Karey Bresenhan, I met quilters from message boards I frequent, and I even serendipitously ended up next to someone I had tried to reach out to via email and never connected with! And those wonderful Facebook friends that I finally got to meet IRL!

Patricia “Pokey” Bolton and me at Craftsy’s Open Studios—(VERY cool idea)

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A quilted Yurt… (with Jamie Fingal posing for me as “Gert in a Yurt”)

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My “Haul”…or as male quilter I met from Kentucky called it, new items to add to my collection. (the idea being no one is expected to USE the stamps or the coins they collect, so….) ETA:  I had shoppers block! It was odd… I didn’t have a vision of  what I wanted to buy, and was paralyzed by all the choices…. I finally found one booth where I let loose.. and it was over. The fabrics I bought…many feel like Sandy. There is a quilt there, about my home…we shall see.

An overview….T-shirt, yardage and other assorted toys (Emails from China quilt on the wall)

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A selection of the ATC and Mug Rug Swap that was set up by the Craftsy booth.

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A ‘detail’ of some beads, rulers, paints, as well as my purchase from the  Pet Charity postcard booth, by Sylvia Weir (the Green piece)

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And because no vacation should be considered complete without a trip to the beach….We went to Surfside Beach on the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. (plus other random photos from the trip.)

I’m ready to go back. Eithne, Robin, are you up for it??

Houston Bound!

The heck with Sandy. We will see what becomes of her over the next day or two but I am focusing on the other end of this week:

My first trip to the International Quilt Festival ( IQF ) in Houston, Texas!

Long on my bucket list, Timmy decided it would be an awesome Christmas present this year. ( I tend to agree. Both that it IS an awesome gift, and that HE is an awesome husband!Red heart)

Unfortunately, he didn’t give me very much time to squirrel away money to SHOP! I think I may be going for the show (ie, LOOKING at the quilts) and for the friendship….meeting up with 50,000 like-minded souls.

(OK, and the tiniest bit of shopping, but lots of looking and plotting and planning…. if only I could sell my first-born, alas she is a bit old for that…Smile with tongue out)

 

I will be going as well to see two of my photos that were juried into the photo show that is on display at the quilt show, in a special Exhibit called Favorite Things.

“Hovercraft”

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“The Stories They Tell”

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And I will be bringing along a small pile of ATC’s and Mug Rugs to trade!  I have never made either, but I have had a lot of fun working on them (and feeling they may not be worthy, but that is a post in itself, isn’t it?)

I have been on a kick lately of just using up scraps. And using them in a very organic, no-thought kind of fashion, stitching them together until they resemble something large enough to cut into a shape of something else. I did sort a few tubs of scraps kind of by color, so some of the new pieces of fabric have a feeling of ‘unity’, but a good deal more are simply random.  Here is a lap quilt top using some of that ‘new’ fabric.IMG_2058

The ATC’s began as the leftovers of a Drunkards Path quilt called Emails from China that I made.  Very neutral colors, taupe and such. (Very NOT me, but I love it, and it hangs in my bedroom, probably the calmest colored room in the house) An in progress photo of the quilt. Yes, I am feeling too lazy to go take a new photo! of the finished product.

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After arranging scraps on Peltex and stitching,  I decided they needed some color. Out came my wild variety of paints, fabric and otherwise.  I keep saying the one thing I will NOT get sucked into is hand-dyeing fabrics. But over-dyeing and painting on commercial fabrics is fun!

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I made one set of these, and haven’t completely decided if they are finished yet….(but time is growing short, I know….)

Next, mug rugs. Using some of those new pieces of fabric I made with scraps, I then added some fun ribbons, and practiced some really awful machine quilting…. I also am trying to get myself to admit defeat, so I took a rather unsuccessful holiday wall-hanging, and have ‘repurposed’ it into mug rugs. (Think a washable, overly large coaster, where you can place your hot chocolate or coffee on one side and a nice big brownie on the other.)IMG_2495IMG_2498

Last but not least, I made myself a funky fabric covered button, announcing to one and all that I am a Quilt Art online member! (oh, and I got new glasses yesterday!)

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See you in Houston!!!

Scrappity scrap scrap! (quilts!!!)

I am not a quilter who worries overmuch about rules, or about precision (except where REQUIRED and UNAVOIDABLE), nor am I afraid of color, or colors matching, or….well, I think you get the idea….

Earlier this month, I had a revelation about my studio, and so enlisted DH to take a trip to IKEA….sigh…

We came back with the perfect solution to the chaos that WAS the studio….

Before.before

After.  IMG_2057 

We bought the insides of kitchen cabinets, white, wall mount sized, that would fit those wonderful scrapbooking containers.  Mounted one set on legs, to make it the proper height to iron on, tossed the ironing board in the Goodwill corner, and mounted an 18x 48 piece of wood, with batting and Teflon covering.  The other set is without legs so it would slide a bit under the cutting table.

So, now that I have such an organized space, I need to make some quilts, right? Prove to myself that what was stopping me was disorganization?

Enter the scrap quilt. (Wow, did I find a LOT of scraps.) During the Olympics I dumped all those totes into a pile and sorted, very loosely, into color groups. (i.e., all the teal/blue/aqua/greenish into one pile)  I didn’t agonize. I just went with my gut.  Then, I took a container to my quilt meeting, ironed all of the scraps, and loosely sorted by size.

Next, I grabbed a handful and started sewing together in strips. As you see below, there is NO organization. They aren’t the same size. The widths are different. The colors are all of a feeling of belonging, however. I didn’t square up anything, so if it was 2 inches at one end and three at the other, well then it starts to get wonky is all.

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I took a square ruler, and began to cut out 9 inch squares.  (The scraps from the cutting will be sewn together and made into another quilt.)

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Next, cut into diagonals. And choose another fabric to make an equal number of 9 inch squares. *(six, this time)

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Pin those stretchy bias edges like a mad fool and chain piece!

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Press, with lots of starch, and lay out on a design wall.

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All that is left is to settle on a layout, and what color sashing I will use. (Probably black.) Add a nice wide border with some other large-ish piece of fabric that I haven’t chosen yet, and Viola!!! A quilt!

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And, a completely different, yet scrappy project, is another baby quilt!

Spoiler alert:    This is my signature baby gift.

My theory being if the quilt is too ‘precious’ the parents won’t let the child barf on it, so I choose 42 (the meaning and purpose of life) colorful 5 inch blocks, sewn together 6×7 rows. Then half of a length of fleece, a package of satin blanket binding, some fancy stitches to hold it altogether, and a test run through the washing machine later, we have a baby quilt! (Complete with baby’s name embroidered on the edge)

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Copy Wrongs…..

I cannot believe I am going to attempt a blog post about copyright law. I need to have my head examined. :)

Copyright is a topic of conversation that comes up with seemingly scheduled regularity at one or another of the creative-leaning message boards to which I belong. (The fact that this blog is being posted now is not because of any one thread, anywhere…. so don’t be paranoid…I frequent reading, writing, quilting, photography and multi-media art boards. :))

It matters not an iota apparently, that there are pages and pages of governmentally published, legally complete and sound copyright information at one’s fingertips, because before a few pages go by, the threads almost always resort to virtual shoving matches; with an entertaining variety of supposition, assumption and plain old poor legal advice being offered as ‘truth’ and ‘don’t let the turkeys get you down, do what you think is right.’ (Some of the ‘best’ will eventually invoke Godwin’s Law.)

It is no wonder, after reading these sometimes amusing and highly fictionalized diatribes, that people do not understand copyright law. They probably understand less after finishing a thread than before. Therefore, I am not offering you any legal advice (other than the link above).

But I do want to throw on my ethical sombrero for a moment, and pose these few thoughts. (And let’s remember, people, this is a blog. A semi-humorous rant even. :)  It’s my opinion, offered up to you on a carefully seasoned sarcastic plate. YMMV.)

Often, the reasoning begins with—“I’ve heard (or was told by my college art professor) that if I change 10% –or 20% or 30% or the background color– it is no longer copyrighted.” Or the line of attack borders on quantity, or the amount of money changing hands.  “I certainly can understand why it’s illegal to copy CD’s, after all, that is thousands of dollars…” (I never know whether they mean that the artist is losing or the ‘thief’ is making :) ) They then excuse themselves with the line—“but if I only want to make 4 of this to sell, or copy 15 of that so I can teach a class (where they receive monetary compensation??) it’s not hurting anyone.”

These appear often to be the same upstanding, God-fearing citizens that feel there is nothing wrong with not following the rules of redemption for coupons in a store, other little acts of civil disobedience or dishonesty because they feel entitled,,or for belittling a service provider and telling them to “Have a blessed day” as they storm off.. (But that is another rant entirely. :))

I am a photographer. (And quilter and writer….) I’ve spent a good long while attempting to ‘perfect’ my craft. I am not perfect. Not by a long shot. But every photograph I take, the moment I take it, BELONGS TO ME. (Even if it is a photograph of you–unless you paid me to take your photograph and I agreed to transfer the copyright.)

The fact that I post it on the internet does not mean that anyone is permitted to simply find it, click on it and sell it, print it, design a quilt or paint a painting using it, put it on a T-shirt, or a notepad, use it as a screensaver—well, you get the idea. That is why on my site, all images are Right-click protected. If you find one that isn’t doesn’t mean you are allowed to have it and do any of the above either. It belongs to me. You are welcome, and indeed ENCOURAGED to contact me if you would like to do any of the above, and we can discuss it! :)

There are legal limits, however, to what I may do with a photograph that I take. For example, when I go to a quilt show, almost all of their brochures specifically state you may NOT post photos of the show on the internet on a public forum. (With or without attribution.) I don’t have the specific language, but basically they say is “Don’t shoot images of quilts whose makers you don’t know and toss them up on Flickr.”

I take hundreds of quilt images. They are for my own perusal, for my own satisfaction and enjoyment. I take a photo of every placard, so I can reference the artist. I do put them online, on my own photo website, and they are locked and unavailable to the general public. I still state in the comments field that they are NOT my work. If I am so inspired by one that I end up designing and making a quilt based on one of these images, you can bet your patootie that I will be contacting the original artist before I post it online and I will always give him or her attribution.

I took an incredible shot of a hummingbird at the San Diego Zoo. I cannot sell it for profit, because that is the San Diego Zoo policy (Which I agreed to based on my entrance fee) Sure, I could not tell anyone where the shot was taken. If I really needed to sell it, I could contact the zoo and see what I need to do. I do have photos taken at a Botanical garden with an entrance fee available for purchase on my website, but before I posted them, I contacted the location and they stated sales are permitted.

I do not frequent Wal-Mart (A whole other thread, :)) But, I am aware that if I take my photos in to them to print, chances are, they will not do so, because my work is of a quality (depending on subject matter) that smells to them of professional. And they are to err on the side of copyright law. Much to the chagrin of folks who attempt repeatedly to make copies of studio images. While I can’t condone much about Wally, I am glad to know that they take this seriously.

I sometimes write Fan Fiction. Which basically means using another author’s characters. At the top of every chapter I type a disclaimer. ‘These are so and so’s characters, they don’t belong to me, I am making no money, yada yada.’

In quilting there is a long history of sharing and a wealth of public domain quilt blocks available, and this can sometime make the entire copyright situation confusing. However, physically copying someone’s instructions for construction of a quilt is a no-no. The act of combining this block with that block and a creating a totally new interpretation, etc. can ….well, wait. I said I was not offering legal advice, didn’t I? (I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV) Whether a lot of the other information that the author expresses in the fine print is legally binding is debatable (hence the pages of threads, etc) but still—

There is a simple understanding and basic rule of thumb to follow, and it is not a law at all. It is simply called the Golden Rule. Be nice. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Found in pretty much every civilization and in every religion on the face of this earth.

How would YOU feel? Isn’t that something we ask our four-year old when we try to teach them that taking the blocks someone else is playing with isn’t nice? The grown-up version may be more along the lines of “How would YOU feel if you spent all of that (time and effort and money and education) coming up with ABC, only to find that someone else is trying to make $money$ from it, without even saying you had inspired them?

FILE UNDER: SARCASM, HUMOR, with a dash of ‘Do I see myself?’ 

©2010 Trish Casey-Green  (Which I don’t need to state. The act of my fixing these words in a tangible form automatically copyrights them to me. You may link this entire post only (not a part out of context) and you may not do so without indicating I am the author of these words. By the way, titles can not be copyrighted. So, a million pardons to anyone else who has used the title before. (I imagine myself to be clever, but I am probably not THAT unique.)  Oh, and if you want to know how to affix that neat little © ? Hold the ALT key and on your numeric keypad and type 0169.