I tend to get excited about all my classes, I wouldn’t offer them if I didn’t feel they were something to crow about. Every now and then though, I come up with something refreshingly different from what I have done before and I get particularly enthusiastic about those. My upcoming workshop for Northwest Quilters in March is one such class. I have taught a couple of classes for my guild over the last few years and because most of the members know me by reputation if not by sight, I have felt it necessary to come up with something completely new whenever I have the honor of offering a class through them. I do have a cadre of ‘followers’ who take many of the classes I teach (sometimes more than once) and I feel an obligation to offer something new that I’ve not offered at the shops when I present a workshop for my guild; after all, many of the members have taken my other classes through shops already and I want to try to fill my workshop as well as possible.
Though I never completed a degree in Art, I did take some fairly advanced classes in college and had a great professor who taught me some wonderful insights into art and what I was capable of. In his ‘design’ course – Form and Color – he encouraged us to use subject matter for our assignments where the preconceived notion of what your are drawing does not take over the process of developing good balance and composition. I still hear his voice telling us that “the moment you decide to draw a fish, that fish takes over your hand and directs what it should look like…” He showed us a unique way to find abstract designs in nature, he called these ‘Discovery Designs’. Those of you who have studied art will probably already be familiar with this design process but for many it will open your eyes to design possibilities beyond your imagination. The best part is that you don’t need to have good drawing skills to use this method.
This will be a design class only, students will ‘find’ their discovery and then create working drawings to play with, fine tuning the design and rendering some color layouts using colored pencils. When you are pleased with your design, you will have a design you can enlarge to any size you wish and make a working pattern from which to make your quilt.
I am anxious to promote this as much as possible through my website and social media, I have shown my quilt in progress over the last couple of months at guild meetings but only put the final binding on the finished quilt a few days ago. I was planning to show it again at the Northwest Quilters’ meeting this morning but the weather had other ideas; not only did our out of state guest speaker have to cancel (I guess the weather where she lives was even worse than here) but last night the word went out that the entire meeting was being cancelled due to treacherous driving conditions. It is my hope that I can reach a sufficient number of students through the newsletter and the internet.
I have posted a photo of my project below. Bear in mind this is my original design, it is not a pattern that you will be working from to create this quilt, you will search for and discover your own unique design.
For those of you not familiar with this fun retreat; Ocean Waves Quilt Camp just celebrated its 25th year. It is a yearly retreat organized by Jane Wise and staff of Jane’s Fabric Patch in Tillamook Oregon. Jane’s shop features perhaps the most fabric per square foot ratio I’ve seen in many a quilt shop along with a good selection of other non-necessarily-quilting sewing stuff (the nearest JoAnn’s is a long drive so she tries to serve more than just the quilting community).
I have been an instructor for this retreat going on several years now and with each passing year I see the ‘regulars’ as well as many new faces; I look forward to this every year now. Jane always selects a good cadre of teachers covering a wide range of projects and quilting styles, this year her teachers included Victoria Jones, Linda Peck, Peggy Gelbrich, Ardis Weir, Mimi Shimp and Kennette Blotzer in addition to myself.
The accommodations are somewhat rustic – it is held at Twin Rocks Friends Camp which is a more or less traditional ‘camp’ setting; but there are amenities such as an espresso bar that is open a few hours each day and Jane spoils us with a luscious selection of Tillamook Ice cream (12 half-gallons this year) in the basement classroom freezer and if you have time to walk off the ice cream before or after a class, there is a lovely bridge that crosses the highway and gives good access to the beach.
I offered three classes this year – Thread Painting, Migrating Geese and Magic Squares. The last two classes pretty much filled to capacity, if I had gotten any more students than the 18 I had for each class, I don’t know where I would have put them. The Thread Painting class had a lower attendance but that also meant that the students could spread out a bit more and get more one-on-one attention if they needed it (plus – we were located in the basement classroom – the one with all the Ice Cream!)
Most of the students in Thread Painting were novices at this, one told me she had taken classes and explored this before but it had been many years since she had tried it. Some struggled with the method more than others and in some cases it was a reluctant sewing machine that was to blame. The choice of patterns was a bird or a butterfly with the butterfly being a simpler project for a beginner. Despite that, several students chose a bird and a couple of them went out on a limb (no pun intended) and designed their own bird – a bold move that I admired greatly. One novice student chose the butterfly and proceeded to stitch such a lovely winged miracle that I compared it to the embroidered butterflies I have seen on classic Japanese silk scrolls. She later told me it brought tears to her eyes to receive that praise on her first attempt. Thread Painting a a slow labor intensive process and no one actually completed the project in class but I did get some pictures of nearly completed projects plus one that I just receive via email yesterday. These are pictured below.
My ‘Migrating Geese’ class filled to capacity. In this class, I teach students how to create undulating bands of Flying Geese that can weave and ‘migrate’ across a quilt. These bands can be a focal point in themselves or be laid over another quilt pattern to add visual interest. Some of my students opted to design their own bands of geese rather than follow a simple pattern I had supplied for those who didn’t want to attempt the drafting part of this project; one student decided to make a larger project designed as a sort of ‘Advent Calendar’ to countdown the months left until her retirement; she is planning to hang this in her office and mark off each goose with a pin, button or other marker as each month goes by (the creativity of quilters never ceases to amaze me). There were many color schemes and various backdrops chosen for the geese, some students even played with transitioning colors for the geese with stunning results.
My final class was Magic Squares, a 3-D optical illusion quilt I designed and have been teaching for years. I finally published the pattern a few years ago through Story Quilts (which is under new ownership and continuing to sell my patterns) and this has always been a popular class. The 3-D illusion relies on careful control of color values but it is astounding how different the quilt can look with subtle variations in color and value. It is particularly attractive when rendered in Batiks and absolutely stunning when made from Northcott Fabric’s Stonehenge line of fabrics as several students chose to do. I have a fairly good selection of these fabrics in my stash but the manufacturer keeps coming out with new colors and design variations – seeing what some of the students used necessitated a stop at Jane’s shop on my way home to add to my collection.
One of the really nice aspects of the constantly returning attendees at Quilt Camp is that many of them will bring projects they completed from the previous years for show & tell so I was also able to get a few pictures of completed projects from last year.
This was the 25th year of Quilt Camp – a milestone to be celebrated! For four days there were mystery gifts left on Jane’s podium at each meal – all of them PINK! For those who have not visited Jane’s shop in Tillamook it is famous for being located in a shocking pink house at the south end of town. Jane received pink shower puffs, pink hand lotion… even a pink extension cord (guaranteed to keep your husband from stealing it from your tool kit). In the end, it turned out these gifts were being left by a group that has been attending camp since pretty much the beginning, a group Jane calls Pearl’s Girls’ (how Jane can remember everyone’s names – even the newbies, astounds me after the hundreds and hundreds of attendees she has had). There was entertainment at each meal – mainly ‘colorful’ jokes that I help supply and that Jane had to ‘tone down’ a bit once a Christian Family Group attending their own event started sharing the dining hall with us during the last couple of days (she managed quite nicely, not all of the jokes are rated R). The final night’s wrap up was a party as usual but with a special event as Jane was presented with a commemorative quilt with blocks made by as many participants as were able to participate. This project took the better part of the year to coordinate and make (and were in pink and silver – of course) and there were so many blocks that some of the ones later received had to go on the back of the quilt. I do think that Jane was surprised though keeping it a secret from her all year must have been difficult with all the coordination required. There were skits, songs and more humorous gifts and CAKE (though I was a good girl and abstained in consideration of my blood sugar). It was a festive night. All that is behind me for another year though I’m already considering what classes to offer for next fall. If you have never been to it, check on Jane’s Fabric Patch website for updates and consider coming – it’s a blast!
Next week I have a couple of classes scheduled at the Latimer Quilt & Textile Center in Tillamook Oregon. These are part of an annual event, an Adult Day Camp, Latimer started several years ago – a series of fiber art/stitchery classes during a week in October. Unfortunately, the week of classes this year falls right after the Tillamook County Quilt Show, another event that Latimer is involved in and in the flurry of activity preparing for the show, the Day Camp classes sort of got lost in the shuffle and have not been as well promoted as they should have been. I don’t know what the enrollment numbers are yet, the samples and printed flyers have been on display at the museum but only accessible to walk-in viewers so I’m taking the initiative to try and promote the classes on my website. I should have done this earlier but preparing for Northwest Quilting Expo absorbed my time and attention so I can well understand how Latimer managed to push the classes to the back of the ‘to do’ list, they never even got posted on their website.
The first class I have scheduled is one on creating Stumpwork Sea Anemones, this class is going to be next Wednesday October 12. Stumpwork is a form of three dimension embroidery that originated in Europe – most popular in England and France in the 17th Century. It is a sort of combination of needlework and sculpture. Traditionally, pastoral scenes with people, animals, and flora & fauna were the subject matter created with Stumpwork, I have chosen to explore the technique and apply it to a ‘Tide Pool’ theme of sea creatures and the Sea Anemones are a beautiful subject to render in Stumpwork. For those who feel they wouldn’t have time to prepare for the class, I will have kits available.
The second class on Thursday October 13, is on a method of Reversible Machine Applique. This is not Reverse Applique which is one-sided and consists of layering, cutting and stitching the designs to expose underlying fabrics, this is truly a double sided reversible quilt that can be hung from either side. The machine technique is surprisingly easy and it fun to end up with a quilt that can be reversed for variety in the time it takes to make one quilt. The photos I have posted show the front and ‘other’ front of one quilt. To make the quilt more easy to reverse, I suspend the quilt panel from a piece of weathered driftwood – eminently suitable to the beach theme. This class will also have a kit available.
Tillamook is an easy day trip from Portland and the drive down the Wilson River highway in Fall is spectacular, the Fall colors should be starting about now. If you have the time and inclination to come to Tillamook next week, please consider taking one of these classes. If you need more incentive, Latimer has an exhibit right now of woven tapestry work by Natalie Olsen, The Tillamook Cheese Factory is just down the road a bit and features not only cheese but every imaginable flavor of Tillamook ice cream and the Blue Heron French Cheese Company is just down the road the opposite direction and features locally made Artisan Brie (to die for) and then there is Jane’s Fabric Patch – a delightful quilt shop crammed full of gorgeous fabrics and more at the south end of town.