Structure. Chaos. Flow. Balance. Discover. Make. Repeat.
It could be 8 years ago that I started a zipper quilt, with grandiose ideas for a coral reef (of zipper coils) and stitched sea critters. Pat Pease transformed that quilt in our UFO Make Over Challenge, but I still liked my original line drawing. And so I came to gather fabrics, create a stitched thread web, prepare a quilted background and before cutting up the stitched web, tentatively position it.
“Unstoppable Forces”, 10″h by 7″w. I’m submitting it to the Studio Art Quilt Associates 2017 Trunk Show exhibit, which will debut in Lincoln, Nevada next spring with the SAQA National Conference. I’ve sworn off deadlines, and yet I’ve entered photographs of quilts for consideration in 2 books and a juried quilt show (bad news, I’m afraid), and now this. I’ll just say no more giant deadlines, but mini-deadlines are the stuff of life.
(Note: My quilt did not get accepted into the juried quilt show, which had over 500 entries and 23 accepted quilts. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m reminded of the year I learned to ski at the advanced age of 31. One day I bragged that I had not fallen down all day. My then boyfriend-now husband-told me I had not tried hard enough! If you’re going to enter shows, you will get the letters of regret sometimes.)
Speaking of unstoppable forces, my niece, on my husbands side of the family, is certainly all that and more. Can you guess her first initial? She requested an interlocked E block for a quilt for her bed, so her Mom and I are obliging. These are the two E blocks (my design)- you can imagine the mirror image versions- making 4 types of blocks. Only 49, 10″ by 12″ blocks— we have some sewing to do!
Meanwhile, it’s winter here! We got our first 1″ of snow, that stuck for a few hours, and last I looked, it’s snowing again. Two Cats- One Box: do they sleep in their beautiful faux fur cat baskets? No they do not. Give them a box, any size, filled with crinkly paper, and they are happy!
Look for the Sulky Webinar “Creative Quilt Challenges” with Pat Pease and Wendy Hill, November 16th. If it is full, you can watch the recorded version at another time.
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing neglected chores, reorganizing the sewing room, and poking around for something to make. On my list: wind chime using lipstick covers; Christmas stockings; oven mitts and potholders; more “shape shifting” ideas; and so on.
I’ve only recently appreciated the duality of the way-in 1971-I made traditional quilts and accepted a commission to make a quilt like the floor of the Taj Mahal, 120″ by 130″, in black and white no-wale corduroy. The lines between tradition and original designs have always been blurred for me.
From the beginning, I hung my bed-sized quilts on the wall until they were needed as blankets. In 1986 I made my first non-functional quilt, intended to be seen on the wall. I’ve always appreciated quilts as craft and art.
Below: On the left- my only photograph of the Taj Mahal Quilt. On the right- “Bricks Gone Wild”- my first non-functional quilt intended to be seen on the wall.
I think that’s why I don’t understand time spent on trying to categorize people and quilts- artist or crafter? bed quilt or art quilt? The lines are blurred, categories overlap, inspiration and creativity have nothing to do with boundaries.
I’ve been fooling around with an old “interlocked braid” pattern, that goes back to the early 1800’s. You might be more familiar with the short cut braid pattern, in which the sides get squared-up and assembled in one long seam. The interlocked pattern is riddled with partial seams, forming a zigzag pattern.
On the left, is my first trial, with larger rectangles (FS 3″ by 6 5/8″). After all the partial seams, I felt the zigzag got lost. Also, the rectangles seemed too jumbo sized.
Keeping the same approximate ratio, my second trial with smaller rectangles (FS 2 1/2″ by 6″) worked better. But I added a narrow strip of fabric to enhance the zigzag (sold color for the black & white rectangles; black & white flower for the print rectangles)—and I really like it.
Is the black & white flower fabric too busy? Will it get lost in the assorted prints? It is busy, and it might get a bit lost, but I like the effect. It’s a simple repetitive pattern (all rectangles), so it’s good for the brain to work a little bit to find the pattern. In my opinion, anyway.
We have 3 people playing around with this pattern. One suggested calling the group The Friendship Braid. It has a nice ring to it!
Come early to the Pacific International Quilt Festival to be first in line or come a bit later to miss the crowds.
The twenty special exhibits have their own area in the convention hall. We had an “end aisle” on a main walkway near the women’s bathroom— how great is that?!!!
Our 30 feet of back wall, with 24 feet of side walls, didn’t go as far as we hoped. We added a half wall at the 20 foot mark. PIQF provided black curtains, rods, telescoping rods, S hooks in 3 sizes, and a work table. It took Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday until 3:55pm to get all the quilts up. Five minutes to spare!!! Woo Hoo!
From Left to Right: Here is the first 20 feet of the booth. On the right is the half wall, with the door way to the last 10 feet of the booth. The quilt names go from left to right top first, then bottom row.
Photo #1: ColorBlind, 2013, Wendy Hill
Photo #2: Color Blinded Again (reversible quilt); Bright Hopes, 2013, Pat Pease; Georgi’s Garden, 2016, Wendy Hill; Cut Up, 2013, Pat Pease; A Change of Heart, 2015, Pat Pease & Wendy Hill
Photo #3: Bright Hopes, Georgi’s Garden, Silent Reflection, 2013, Pat Pease & Wendy Hill; Cut Up, A Change of Heart; Lightening Strikes, 2016, Wendy Hill
Photo #4: Silent Reflection; Lots of Trout, 2016, Wendy Hill & Pat Pease; One Orange Dot, 2013, Pat Pease; Lightening Strikes, Echino Yet Again, 2013, Pat Pease; Stepping Out, 2015, Wendy Hill
Photo #5: Confluence, 2015, Wendy Hill; Cairn Study 3, 2013, Wendy Hill
Photo #6: Marsh Scene, 2013, Pat Pease;Evey’s Quilt, 2016, Pat Pease; Snow Strings, 2014, Pat Pease; Jocey, 2016, Pat Pease
Photo #7: Left Side- Evey’s Quilt; Ripple Effect, 2014, Wendy Hill; Square Dance, 2013, Wendy Hill & Pat Pease; Pass It Forward, Bolt Fabric Boutique, 2016; Right Side- Shape Shifting Challenge, see below
Photo #8: See information Photo #7
We invited 10 people to participate in a group challenge on the theme “Shape Shifting”. The rules? Please interpret the theme, 20″ by 20″ maximum size, any materials or methods, mixed media okay. It’s fun to do challenges with your local friends, but with the miracle of the Internet, you can connect with people around the world!
From left to right:
Row #1: Opening by Christine Drumright, New Mexico; Genesis by Maggie Vanderweit, Ontario, Canada; Day Shift by Judith Garnett, Oregon
Row #2: Peace of Nature by Barb Frances, California; Magma Displacement by Susan Howell, Minnesota; Encryption by Pat Pease, Oregon
Row #3: Command+Option+Shift by Ann Marra and Timothy Ely, Washington; All Life Matters by Karla Rogers, California; Evolving by Tawnya Romig-Foster, Colorado
Row #4: Hot Flash by Maria Shell, Alaska; U-Turn by Wendy Hill, Oregon; Ohio Shifted by Tierney Davis Hogan, Oregon
All of the quilts deserved a bit more space, but our 30 foot booth at PIQF was already a generous piece of landscape at the show. We were ambitious! We had quilt signs, plus most quilts had technique or in-progress photo signs too.
We met a LOT of people: thank you to everyone who spent time with our quilts and us, Wendy (on left) and Pat (on right).
On October 10th (Happy Birthday To Me! See my Monster Pen gift?), Pat Pease and I drove to Santa Clara, California for the Pacific International Quilt Festival 2016, with a car loaded with our exhibit quilt & stuff and our personal luggage.
We started to set up in the afternoon of October 11th, then finished the next day with 5 minutes to spare. The Mancuso/PIQF crew is really great- with special thanks to Jared and his mother Penny- and a couple of other big strong guys whose names I didn’t learn.
We stayed at the Hilton Santa Clara, room #218. The sign on our door indicated that if we pushed the button, our room would be activated for warning lights in case of emergency. We’d never seen that before but we didn’t push the button to see how it worked. We were upgraded to the “executive lounge”, with unlimited breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, eggs, old fashioned oatmeal and so on and unlimited appetizer buffet in the evenings. Woo Hoo!
In 2013, we experienced miles of cars running the red light at this intersection. That didn’t happen this year, so maybe the warning sign is a deterrent!
More food photos!
We ate at the Pho Queen a total of three times (first two pictures) and I ate at Pho Hoa once (last 3 photos). We bought food at the grocery store for meals and snacks. And we enjoyed the breakfast and appetizer buffet. There is a LOT of good food in the Bay Area.
Next time, Part 2, with photos of our exhibit and some of the people we met.
Our book (by Pat Pease and I, Wendy Hill) began with our obsession for the reality television show, Project Runway. (For all fans out there, you probably know that Season 15 started yesterday!). In 2008, we challenged ourselves to make “something” based on the Project Runway challenge theme of the week/episode.
For the Unconventional Challenge, we had to make something with materials purchased at a grocery store. Pat made a very small quilt using sushi grass, other plastics and stuff. I made a tote bag using Tyvec envelopes, mop strings, plastic bags from the produce aisle, grapefruit bag netting and more.
Okay, we couldn’t keep up after just 2 or 3 weeks!!! But that didn’t stop us from doing challenges together. In 2011, we pitched a special exhibit, “A Natural Affinity…” to the Mancuso Brothers for their annual Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara. The answer: YES, for October 2013. Oh boy- we had almost two years to work on our quilts. Famous last words, because the first year went by in a flash. But we “made it work“, just like Tim Gunn tells the Project Runway contestants.
The folks at C&T Publishing visited our booth at PIQF 2013, took us out to lunch and announced “we want a book!” The rest, as they say, is history. We signed our contract in early 2014. Our manuscript package arrived at C&T about a year later, in 2015. Then boxes & boxes of our book, Creative Quilt Challenges, chugged by cargo ship from Hong Kong to the warehouse, arriving in early February 2016.
Back in early 2015, we pitched a “full circle” follow up exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival to be held in October 2016. The answer: YES! Our exhibit, “Creative Quilt Challenges“, will feature book quilts plus many new challenges by us and others.
Come back to see sneak peeks and previews of our special exhibit. Better yet, please visit us at our booth, in the special exhibit section, of the Pacific International Quilt Festival, Santa Clara, October 13-16, at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
In 1983, I covered the curves on Grandmother’s Fan blocks- instead of piecing the curves– for the first time. I used ribbon, not known for wanting to stretch around curves, but it worked. I made two extra long twin bed quilts, each 60″ by 100″. I apologize for the photo quality- these are my only photographs.
I liked the way covered curves gave more opportunities to mix up fabrics while offering a short-cut to piecing the curves (and having it look professional). Anybody, no matter the skill level, can cover curves, which opens up a door to a big room of curved quilt block and free-form curved patterns. In the early 1990’s, Threads Magazine featured the work of Koos van den Akker, who (at that time) combined unlikely fabrics- such as leather with Liberty of London, with free form curves, covered with self-made bias tape. Very Cool! (Google Koos van den Akker to see his work; he died in 2015 at age 75.)
In 2001, I drew something like 60 individual free form arcs blocks, thinking I would piece the arcs together. I woke up with the idea to cover the curves instead- something I had not done in awhile. I loved the first blocks! I ended up making two quilts with the blocks – one pieced & quilted (Roads Not Taken) and one quilted block by block, assembled with satin stitching (Entanglement).
In 2004, I pitched a book proposal to C&T about covering curves with self-made bias tape. It was accepted; I had a year to complete the manuscript package (fall of 2005). The book arrived from Hong Kong in time for fall International Quilt Market in Houston, 2006, and I got to be there with C&T to promote the book (my 4th IQM!)
Do you have something to share with the world in a book? Would you geek out at seeing the ISBN number assigned to your book? Would it make you smile to think of a copy of your book at the Library of Congress for all time? Then you should consider trying to get published.
Step 1: Get the book proposal guidelines from the publisher. I highly recommend C&T Publishing. All statements below are based on my experience with C&T- other publishers methods may vary.
Step 2: The more effort you put into your book proposal, the clearer it will be to the editors at C&T (and it gives you a head start if your proposal is accepted). The proposals get assigned to an editor, who passes it around with a checklist to other editors on the acquisition committee. The committee meets every “x” number of weeks, so it might take several weeks to months to hear the news.
Step 3: If your proposal is accepted, you will work with the acquisition person to define your book in the contract and set up the mini and final deadlines.
Step 4: You will have “x” amount of time to complete your manuscript proposal. I’ve always had about one year, although I’ve heard of authors who agree to less time. You will receive your Author Guideline packet, at least an inch thick, detailing how to put together the manuscript, the images, the how-to samples, and so on. The better you follow these guidelines, the better the final outcome will be.
Step 5: The clearer you can write and organize your text, images, illustrations and overall message of the book, the better your team at C&T will be able to give your book your voice.
Step 6: You aren’t finished after turning in your manuscript package. Now begins the second year, with timelines for opportunities to give feedback about the cover, the styling of your book, and the editing. Again, the better you are at giving this feedback, the better your book will represent you and what you want to say.
Step 7: The book goes off for printing, in Hong Kong, and after some weeks, comes back into the United States. Woo Hoo!!!!
Of all the techniques I’ve written about (thread texturing, reversible foundation piecing, stitched thread-web 3D constructions and bias covered curves), I’ve probably used bias covered curves the most, with thread texturing & 3D constructions coming in at a close second. Here are a few of the quilts I’ve made after Easy Bias Covered Curves arrived in stores in 2006:
Bubble Bath Day, 2006: This is my own variation on a traditional block called “Leatha’s Fan”
Falling Into Liquid, 2003: This original design uses bias covered curves to create the surface design in the blue circle and around the circumference of the entire circle. This quilt is part of the permanent collect of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum (inducted 2005).
Yellow Fever, 2009: I used zippers and bias tape to cover curves. This quilt was part of the “Color Cascade” special exhibit, which debuted at the 2010 Pacific International Quilt Festival, then traveled all over, including Alex Anderson’s Garden Party event in 2011, the Sisters Quilt Show 2011, and more.
I made a reversible baby quilt for one of my son’s teachers in 2006. It’s a terrible photograph, but a good example of adapting a traditional block with bias covered curves.
In 2007, my love of the color “taupe” collided with the fun of using bias covered curves. With 21 different quarter-circle blocks and different widths bias tape, the (auditioned) random layout lets all sorts of things happen. Taupegraphical got included my article “Taupe, More Than Just Brown”, Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine #394/July-Aug. 2007 (and the Electric Quilt Co. CD-ROM with QNM) and was juried into Quilts: A World of Beauty 2007, Contemporary Colorations: The WOW Factor (National Quilting Association) 2008, and Quilts=Art=Quilts, Auburn, NY 2009 and Fabrications- the Art of Quilting, Bend, Oregon 2012.
“Out Far, In Deep” 2007. Another taupe quilt with colors, I played around with the musical idea of repetition of melody, only with visual motifs. This quilt debuted at the Sunriver Quilt Show in 2007 (Shaker Challenge), then got juried into the World Quilt Show XII in New England 2008, and the American Quilters’ Society 25th Show & Contest in Paducah, Kentucky. QuiltMania Magazine featured it as a project in #73 then included it in their collection of quilts at the 15th European Patchwork Meeting 2009. It was also included in two gallery showings, DIVA in Eugene, Oregon 2009 (Solo exhibit “Wendy Hill: Not Always Linear) and Art in the Atrium, curated by Billye Turner, in Bend, Oregon with the Lubbesmeyer Twins, Linda Spring and Alice Van Leunen).
I’ve always pitched book and magazine proposals with the belief I have something to say that will add to the body of knowledge in the quilt-fiber art world. After Easy Bias Covered Curves, I thought I’d said it all. But then came an exhibit of challenge quilts with collaborator and friend Pat Pease at Pacific International Quilt Festival in October 2013. The folks at C&T Publishing took us out to lunch and pitched the idea of a book to us. About 2 1/2 months later, we submitted our proposal to C&T and they said YES. That led to my fifth book, with Pat Pease, in print and in the USA as of February 7, 2016.
Around 1997, I discovered something about Sulky Solvy: if not washed all the way out, it dried stiff. Solvy is a water soluble stabilizer, originally marketed for machine embroidery, but has a host of other uses as well. It currently comes in many different weights and styles.
But back then, almost 20 years ago, I used Solvy to make stitched thread webs (such as scarves or “new” fabric). I also used it to make the signature bouffant thread hair for my Button Babies, shown in my first book, On the Surface.
On this particular day, the hair dried stiff as a board. My first thought: “Darn! Now I have to rinse it again”. But I had an immediate second thought: “How could this be useful?” An idea popped into my head: A stiff, stitched thread-web bowl beckoned to me. I dropped everything to make my first bowl. Wow- it worked!
I gave a bowl to my husband’s parents, who lived in Palo Alto at the time. Over the next few days, their bowl slowly deflated. The short story is that yes, a clear residue of Solvy will dry stiff, but since it’s water soluble, it will pick up moisture in the air, and get soft again. I got the bowl wet again, reshaped it, let it dry, then sprayed it with a matte finish acrylic spray (repeated 3 times in between drying periods). I made another bowl, with the acrylic spray treatment, and gave it to someone who lived on the coast, a block from the beach- plenty of moisture there. Neither bowl deflated. (Photo of first vase by Craig Howell, Studio Craig)
I kept experimenting and waiting for the acrylic spray to turn yellow (still waiting— hasn’t happened yet). I used a glass vase to mold a stitched thread-web as fine as a spider’s web. It still stands. The gradated color vase incorporated silk flowers within the stitched thread-web, also molded over a vase. I made dozens of “Color Bowls”, molded over the plastic lid for a coffee drink, and although it’s hard to see in the photos, there is a flower center made by pushing the thread-web into the hole for the straw. Each of these bowls is constructed with fabric confetti pieces and thread blend to create the new color.
My mother-in-law and I decided to embark on collaborative art projects. This thread-web/painting was our first. We kept passing it back and forth, adding to it as we saw fit, starting with the underlying painting my MIL. We ended with a stitched thread-web that I shaped with a cake rack (pushing the wet web through the wires).
Check out my book and see how easy it is to make 3D constructions from flat stitched thread-webs. You might just find a new obsession and gigantic thread-stash. You’ll find the basic instructions needed to make anything you can imagine, as well as projects and gallery samples (in each project chapter).
P.S. Check out Sulky Solvy too! I use it for a LOT of things, but you can read all about it on the Internet and at sulky.com
Isn’t it amazing how we can believe we’re going in one direction, but then we come upon surprise forks-in-the-road or even intuitive leaps to another landscape altogether. I thought I was making bouffant hair, but I caught a glimpse of another landscape entirely, and I jumped to explore it. Immersed in the manuscript package for my “3rd” book, I had the opportunity to squeeze in a book about stitched thread-webs. We experience time as linear. We can’t “remember” the future. Things in our daily experience go in one direction only. But our imagination is not limited to linear travels. If we are open to it, we can go anywhere!
And then came my fourth book, published in the fall of 2006:
Where do ideas come from? How does a book about reversible foundation piecing relate to a reversible chicken/egg doll? (Housewife Hen/Rietta on the Town, 2003)
For me, ideas pop into my head. Often there is an obsession or a theme to the ideas that take on new forms over time. Instead of following ideas in a series, I tend to circle around, coming back to old ideas in new ways months-years- decades later.
Making reversible things (and the magical thinking that you can make 2 sides in the time it takes to make 1 side) is an idea I’ve thought about & used with clothing, quilts and other things throughout my creative life. When Quilting Arts Magazine issued their “Move Over Barbie” doll challenge in 2003, the idea for a reversible chicken-egg doll came to mind. I think this idea had been waiting around for the right moment to come back around, because as I’ve thought about this blog post, I suddenly remembered a reversible Red Riding Hood/Wolf doll I purchased over 40 years ago. I haven’t seen that doll for over 30 years, but I’m sure it had some influence on my chicken/egg doll.
One morning, in 1995-96, I woke up with the idea that I could adapt the method of foundation piecing to make reversible pieced patterns, with great accuracy on both sides, by always sewing on a line. I wanted to try it first with the log cabin block, but why this block? Around the same time, I bought a reversible picture book* for our young son. After reading it from front to back, you flipped it over and read it from back to front, telling two stories with the same pictures! Isn’t this similar to a quilt that looks like one thing from the front and quite another from the back, even though the pieces have been sewn together in lock step through the batting with foundation piecing?
*Round Trip by Ann Jonas shows- in simple black/white drawings and simple text- a trip to the city. But at the end, flip the book over, and the now upside down images show the return trip to the country! (google for more information about this out of print book)
Before I tried the idea (1995-96), a local shop owner in Grass Valley, California talked me into teaching a workshop based on this technique. She had students signed up before I tried my first log cabin block. Of course, it didn’t quite work the way I expected, but with some experimenting, I found a way to make it work with any block pattern. I had to use fabrics from her store for the class sample. The orange side is mostly fabrics by Nancy Crow. This side is electric!
“Opposites Attract”, 65″ by 65″, 1996, earned Honorable Mention in the juried Quilts=Art=Quilts exhibit in Auburn, New York at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center. Next came a magazine article published in American Quilter, Fall 2000, Vol. XVI, No. 3, followed by book #2 with C&T 9n 2001.
I’m making the case that ideas can take you places if you give them a chance, if you jump on board, and pursue tangents and opportunities that land in your lap. While it was premature to schedule a class before I figured out the technique, having a full class list motivated me to find a solution to the obstacles. We always have good reasons for letting ideas drift by- just make sure you don’t miss too many opportunities in the business of every day life.
Just as with my first book, On the Surface, I invited a variety of people to take my idea and run with it, each in their own way. My books are never only about me and my creations. I always hope my readers will take my methods and ideas and run for their creative life—-making things I would never imagine.
“If you followed your dreams, where would they take you?”, I wrote in the Dedication. I believe everyone is creative and anyone can make a quilt.
This book includes quilts, clothing, accessories, home decorations and more, with studio and location photography, for projects and gallery examples. Here are some photos:
Look for the photograph of the reversible doll quilt with the Grandmother’s Fan blocks- notice how one side has ribbon covered curves. In 2001, the same year as this book was published, I started making random arc blocks with bias covered curves. I’d been covering curves and seams, but this time, the idea hit me big time. In 2004, I had a book contract for what would have been my third book (Easy Bias Covered Curves), but then C&T asked me if I’d like to squeeze-in a book about stitched thread web constructions. I received an extension of 2-3 months on my manuscript deadline to work on the new book. So…..fast, fun & easy Incredible Thread-A-Bowls became my third book in 2005.
My first book, On the Surface, Thread Embellishment & Fabric Manipulation, arrived from Hong Kong in October 1997, in time for my first International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas (aka “market”, followed by “festival”, or International Quilt Festival).
It all began when my husband suggested using “that thread thing” on a big quilt in progress on the design wall. I dreaded sewing together the hundreds, maybe thousands, of little squares, rectangles and triangles in various sizes. I’d been exploring a way of thread texturing, with the feed dogs engaged (not free motion stitching), but using raw edge collage with “surface stitching” through all the layers on a big quilt would be a first for me. I loved it!
Finished in 1992, this quilt, Walkabout, 66″ w by 83″ h, was juried into the 1) American Quilter Society 9th Annual Show & Contest in 1993, 2) Leone-Nii Gallery “New Directions- Contemporary California Quilters” exhibit in Mountain View in 1993 (and tied for Viewers Choice, 2nd place), 3) American Museum of Quilts & Textiles “New Faces” exhibit in 1993, San Jose, California, 4) Pacific International Quilt Festival III in 1994, California, and finally, 5) Mountain Star Quilters exhibit in 1995 in Downieville, California
I loved the idea that anyone who could sit up at the sewing machine and make it go could immediately create interesting thread texture to make new fabric, to create surface designs or use as a functional quilt stitching to hold the layers together. The next year saw the publication of a book with That Patchwork Place, called Watercolor Quilts by Pat Maixner Margaret. While the author used only 2″ squares, she showed how to cut and sort by value in cardboard box lids- just like I did– and create imagery with value gradations- just like I did. As my quilt went around to various shows, people thought I’d copied the technique from this book.
I had something to say with my technique surface stitching and I imagined that someone somewhere in the world surely was doing the same kind of thread texturing. I’ll admit that I wanted credit for what I discovered on my own. C&T Publishing accepted my proposal in 1995 and I was off and running towards my manuscript deadline in the fall of 1996.
Looking back, I see a lot of ways that On the Surface, was just a bit ahead of the times—
This book featured a lot of location shooting around Grass Valley- Nevada City, California, with my friends and their kids as models, and locations including a coffee shop, a State Park, a Bed & Breakfast, and a park. A friend donated her professional “photo stylist” skills and we used all the tricks of the trade (such as shaving cream- not whipped cream- in the coffee shop shoot). What fun!
I love thread, so it’s no surprise that one of my favorite photos was taken in the studio, on a light box. This book has a chapter all about thread and how the sewing machine makes a stitch. I really got into the research!
We even included a Rat Doll/Purse in one of the photos with my Bernina sewing machine.
I didn’t know it at the time, but two of the projects eventually led to two of my future books. The popular Button Baby project with thread hair led to a discovery about Sulky Solvy and 3D stitched thread constructions. This ultimately led to my third book, fast, fun & easy Incredible Thread-a-Bowls in 2005, with C&T Publishing. I’d been playing around with ribbon and bias covered curves since 1983 (ribbon covered Grandmothers Fan blocks). I used self-made bias tape to finished the raw edge of the heart applique. I kept exploring this technique, and once I again wanted to get credit for my methods. C&T agreed, so my fourth book came out in 2006: Easy Bias Covered Curves.
My editor at C&T argued to expand the book from 96 pages to 144, so I got to say just about everything I knew about surface stitching, thread, sewing machines, projects, ideas, and oh so much more. There is a chapter devoted to whole cloth, another to raw edge collage, and another to weaving. The cover designers put a photoshopped section of a woven, surface stitched vest on the cover, which inspired the book designer to use a wavy line on many of the pages.
Here is the amazing thing about the “manuscript package”, submitted by the author to publisher: like Humpty Dumpty who fell off the wall, the book is delivered in fractured pieces. Unlike poor Humpty, the team at the publisher puts the book back together again. Your team- your advocates and helpers- might include the developmental editor, copy editor, technical editor, cover designer, book designer, illustrator, photographer, and possibly more depending on the book. So the manuscript arrives in pieces, and then everyone on the team works on it in pieces, until the book designer puts it all back together, using styling to give it personality. What an amazing collaborative process!
Dinosaur Age: 1) Steve Buckley, Photographic Reflections, in Grass Valley, California took all of my photos (thank you!) with old school 4 by 4 large format negatives! 2) Unlike today, the printing then was subject to ambient factors, such as temperature, humidity etc. The colors could actually vary depending on these factors during the printing process. 3) In the year that C&T had to produce the book, everything got sent back and forth be FedEx overnight! Now everything is digital.
Funny Me: I thought the technical editor would actually make all the projects! Ha ha!
So what led to book number 2? That’s a story for another day.
I’m going to be on a panel with our local Studio Art Quilt Associates group in August, with other published authors, to talk about our “personal route” to publishing. Included in this group are self-published authors and authors with C&T Publishing and other companies.
What compels me to write? I’ve always believed I have something to say and share with others. Publishing in the quilt world started with my quilt, “Star Light, Star Bright”, 73″ by 73″, 1989.
The December 1992 issue of Quilters’ Newsletter Magazine featured a project article with my original log cabin Christmas Tree quilt and pattern. Original features include:
• a wide assortment of green fabrics, including warm and cool colors in corduroy & cottons
• tree log cabin blocks constructed with wide and narrow logs to help create depth and texture
• the bottom row of tree branches constructed with varied log cabin blocks to give the tree branches (instead of having a flat straight bottom)
• log cabin tree trunk blocks on the diagonal, using textured fabrics such as corduroy and visual textured prints to help with the illusion of tree bark
• background logs all narrow, to help the tree come forward
• metallic lame triangle points in places to create the illusion of lights on the tree and packages in the border
• reverse appliqued red balls, with loops to help with the illusion of red ornaments
• 24 loops inserted in the seams to hang our own ornaments
I had a vision for the quilt and I turned it into a reality for all to see. In 1989, it took months to collect the greens because back in then only certain colors could be found in abundance at any given time, and green wasn’t an it color. Sales clerks advised against using warm and cool green colors, but I ignored their advice. It’s the same today- I have a vision and I am generally in Wendy’s World.
I couldn’t wait to hold the magazine issue in my hands, but imagine my surprise to see the words that my pattern had been modified to make it simpler. For all those who followed the directions, their tree quilt would look vastly different from mine in the photograph. How disappointing to have my pattern dumbed down!
I did (and do) continue to publish in magazines, but perhaps this experience planted the seeds for writing my own book, where I’d have more control over the content. Of course, authors never have full control, but we do have a great deal of influence and say in the final product of our book. In my experience, C&T Publishing is dedicated to preserving the authors voice and style.
In 1997, C&T Publishing published my first book, On the Surface, but this is another story for another day.