• Art Journal Quilts at Pioneer Quilts and Sewn Loverly

    Next Friday, August 7, I am holding my monthly class on Art Journal Quilts at Pioneer Quilts.

    The Journal Quilt Project was started back in 2004 as a national challenge for quilters to form groups and create artworks in an 8 1/2″ x 11″ format to explore new techniques. Group members were to challenge themselves to try something new and then keep a journal about their projects. A display of many of these quilts was part of the International Quilt Festival in Houston every year.

    Though this was the inspiration to start my two groups – one is at Pioneer Quilts in Portland Oregon on the first Friday of each month, the other is at  Sewn Loverly in Wilsonville Oregon on the third Friday of each month, I have structured the groups a bit more casually than the national project. For one thing, I am not adamant that students stick to the 8 1/2″ x 11″ size, they can make their projects any size they wish though keeping them small is advised. I also do not insist they finish their project every month, the last thing I want is someone hesitating to come to class because they ‘did not do their homework’; it is enough for them to try the technique in class though they are encouraged to make something from what they learn. I also do not have them keep a journal about their projects; I wrote far too many ‘What I did on my summer vacation’ essays during my youth, that kind of regimented requirement would be enough to discourage ME from taking the class.

    The ‘purpose’ of the class is to expose quilters to the more unusual and artistic side of fabric and fiber. The projects are small and the financial investment in the materials and the time investment in the project are minimal so you don’t end up with yet another expensive UFO floating around your sewing room.

    My own personal motivation for this was when I decided to try my hand at machine made needle lace and I proceeded to prep a fairly large piece of a favorite fabric (now out of print – of course) and buy two medium spools of variegated machine embroidery thread. After a fairly small small section of the project consumed half a  spool of $10 thread, I realized: A) I did not like the texture I had chosen to do, B) I should have used a double layer of wash away stabilizer AND should have hooped the work  and C) finally seeing the small amount of coverage created by this densely stitched technique,  I was going to have to purchase at least another $100 worth of thread to complete my project. I abandoned it about $50 poorer and minus the last of my favorite (out of print) fabric but much wiser. If only I had ‘tested’ the process on a small, page sized project, I would have figured out all the logistics BEFORE wasting time, materials and money.

    Both shops have a lovely group of participants each month and in addition to the lesson, I share my current favorite art or craft book (the only place I can get myself into more trouble that a fabric store is on Amazon!). It’s nice to get a chance to thumb through a book before purchasing it. AND – we taste CHOCOLATE! I bring some unusual, sometimes exotic form or flavor of chocolate to share each class. Add a ‘Show and Tell’ for students to share their completed projects and there you have my Art Journal Quilt Class. There is room in both shops for more participants, contact the individual shops for more details.

    Last week at Sewn Loverly, the class explored weaving fabric strips to create panels that can be embellished if desired (see my prototype ‘Little Treasures Left by the Tide” below). Next Friday at Pioneer Quilts we will learn to make 3-D ‘Pebbles’ to applique onto a pre-quilted background panel (see below). I’m already so pleased with my resulting prototype that I can’t wait to try this on an artistic table runner.

    3 Dimensional stuffed pebbles inspired by beach combing finds at the Oregon coast
    3 Dimensional stuffed pebbles inspired by beach combing finds at the Oregon coast
    Little Treasures Left by the Tide
    Little Treasures Left by the Tide

  • Happy Father’s Day

    This is a day to reflect upon the ‘fathers’ in my life – both my own father and the father of my son. To my husband and the father of my wonderful son, I am grateful to him for being a wonderful man and I thank him for my son. To my own  father, I am grateful for all he did for me.

    He worked hard to put food on our table and a roof over our head. He had a quirky sense of humor and loved the television series ‘The Odd Couple” (he called them ‘Dva Bolvani’  – Russian for two oafs), “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Untouchables” and the television belonged to him when these programs were airing.

    He was a Professor of languages and taught Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey California; at home he spoke mainly Russian with the occasional smattering of English thrown in. He called my mamma ‘Kika’, an affectionate variation of her actual name Kira. It was not unusual for him to bring students home for dinner and often my mother had to scramble to feed an extra mouth or two on very short notice (that was OK, she was Russian too and Russians LOVE to feed people)

    He was not a great cook himself – his repertoire consisting mainly of Kotleti (ground meat cutlets that were simply awful the way he made them) and Vegetable Borscht which was heavenly; he also made good Zakuski (small open-faced sandwiches and tidbits served with copious amounts of Vodka). He always had a bottle of Vodka in the freezer that he added a strip of lemon or orange peel or sometimes hot chili peppers to. He loved sourdough french bread and a trip to the grocery store necessitated two loaves – one for the drive home. He was a tea drinker and drank tea from a large thick glass mug far more often than coffee; he occasionally drank his tea ‘Gypsy’ style with a spoonful of strawberry jam instead of sugar.

    He was a member of the Rosicrucian Order and loved ancient Egypt, an appreciation he instilled in me and I inherited most of his books on ancient art and mythology. When I was 12, he gave me the first book I ever read about ancient Egypt – “The Winged Pharaoh” about an Egyptian queen and priestess; a book perhaps far too advanced for my years but I loved it and it gave me the confidence to tackle other books ‘too advanced’ for my age such as “Quo Vadis” and  “Don Quixote”.

    He had been a musician in an earlier life in Europe and loved classical music and opera. He liked grandiose music and would listen to Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Wagner and Madam Butterfly by Puccini was a particular favorite, he also liked movie soundtracks. He had a film projector and collected some of the old silent Laurel and Hardy, Ben Turpin and Buster Keaton films. He would sometimes invite guests over for a film fest during which he would play recordings of popular 1920’s songs. When I was 10 years old, he took me and my sister to see the Russian production of War and Peace – all 7 hours of it (shown in two parts, thank goodness)

    He loved to garden though he was a poor judge of just how large that plant in the one-gallon container would ultimately grow; our garden was full of Roses, Cineraria, Gazanias and Fuchsias (that grew into veritable shrubs in the mild coastal climate. He also loved to plant fruit trees but we rarely got much fruit from them.

    He was Russian Orthodox though not devout. We  were raised Roman Catholic by mamma though we did attend both Christmas and Easter services at the Orthodox Church with him and he, in turn, attended these same services at the Catholic Church we regularly attended.

    He was an excellent Chess player and played often with fellow professors from the Language school. He taught me to play but I never did get good enough to beat him. He was happy to introduce us ‘older’ kids to unusual cultural experiences and on one trip to San Fransisco to visit relatives, he ‘rescued’ my sister and I from going to look at the Bison herd in the park with the younger children and took us instead to explore Chinatown, giving us each several dollars to spend as we chose on exotic wonders (I bought a paper fan and lantern).

    I wish he had lived long enough to see me grow up to complete adulthood, he died when I was 19 years old and though married and a new mother myself at that point, we were just poised on the point where our relationship would have evolved into that between two adults instead of father and child. I wish he was here to call and wish a Happy Father’s Day to, and to give him a hug.; I hope he can hear and feel my love wherever he is right now. In the meantime, I treasure the other ‘father’ in my life – the father of my son though the fatherly recollections here are my son’s responsibility.



  • Memorial Day – Quilts of Valor Sew-in

    Once a month I participate in a sew-in for Quilts of Valor – quilts made for Veterans. The project started originally to show appreciation to those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan but quilts are being made and presented to veterans of other wars as well. Our group operates under the umbrella of our guild Northwest Quilters but not all the volunteers are guild members.

    We get together on the last Monday of each month to work on these quilts under the guidance of our tireless leader Maureen. She coordinates the workday and comes up with patterns and projects for us to make though some of the volunteers bring and work on their own projects destined as Quilts of Valor. I sometimes draw on my skills to coordinate a project or two but mostly I just follow direction and help Maureen feed the volunteers by making a soup or salad to contribute to lunch.

    Maureen also coordinates the presentations of some of these quilts to the Veterans who are to receive them, these ceremonies can be quite moving; a young Veteran who was presented with his quilt at a ceremony during one of our guild meetings was so overwhelmed that he broke down into tears upon receiving his quilt. In all, we have a lot of fun accompanied by a sense of satisfaction that we are helping to honor a Vet and let them know they are appreciated.

    Lori puts binding on a QOV
    A quilt in progress on the design wall
    On many projects, volunteers will work in pairs or teams to construct a quilt.
    Maureen's husband, Bob, worked on these blocks with my help.
    This is one of the the blocks Bob and I were making, we need 96 of them, we have 27 so far (69 to go!).
    Tom shows off a finished quilt top
    Kathleen holds up a finished quilt top.
    This is one of the quilts I coordinated in the last few months, an off-center Mary's Triangles pattern