Monthly Archives: October 2022

I’m Back to Sewing, Finally

I’m still coughing my head off, but I am now able to follow a train of thought for more than five minutes. That means I am becoming reacquainted with my sewing machine. Since I have had no artistic breakthroughs for new work I am quilting the pieces gathering dust in the fabric closet.

Under the needle this week is “The Left Coast.” I wrote about designing it, but now I am trying to add texture with quilting. I gathered about 15 spools of thread to use and began with walking foot quilting. The past two days have been all FMQ. To make the process simpler I am using Superior Thread monopoly pre-wound bobbins. It’s wonderful not to have to change bobbins when I change thread color, but the stuff is hard to see and a pain to rip out.

I have added a bit of red to the sky and water to give a sunset effect, and some white for waves. I haven’t yet sewed on the islands as it’s hard to sew around them. If I add them it will be after the rest of the quilting is done.

Quilted but without islands.

Two different arrangements of islands.

Detail of water

Detail of cliffs in foreground.

I’m still uncertain about the islands, but prefer the second arrangement above to the first. If I use them I will need to add some whitewater around their edges. Time on the wall may benefit my decision making process. In the meantime, I have pressed a variety of leaves to use with my gel plate.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Old (and New) Masters

Since I continue to be under the weather and without any artistic spark, I’d like to share a few of the glorious paintings we saw at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid and at other museums. Guidebooks go on about the Prado, and the Bosch paintings aren’t to be missed, but unless you have a thing for large portraits featuring Habsburg chins or are in awe of the immense skills of Velazquez and Goya, your time is better spent elsewhere in Madrid. My recommendations are the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia.

The Thyssen is the more manageable for viewing in a single visit. The Reina Sofia is huge and its layout is confusing, but its curators have made great efforts to put the artists in the context of their times. For many of its artists, that’s between the great wars. They have included magazines, journals, posters, and movies made by the artists. Interestingly, their collection has a nice assortment of photographs by U.S. artists such as Helen Levitt. If it matters to you, the Thyssen has better bathrooms.

The masterpiece of the Reina Sofia is Picasso’s Guernica. Photos do not prepare you for its sheer size. The exhibit includes many of the preliminary sketches and layouts, and the website link will give you a deep dive into the piece.

While the Reina Sofia covers art from about 1881 to present times, the Thyssen represents a mostly a single collecting family’s taste from the 1400s to present times.

Most Christian religious art leaves me cold as it is often allegorical and designed to teach or pay homage to donors. Occasionally hints of everyday life slip in as artists use neighbors for models or depict local scenery. Those are the bits I look for. The Thyssen offers lots of that and a quick and dirty history of the development of Renaissance art.

I couldn’t resist the fresh colors and the lively infant in this piece from the 1480s. I don’t know about the old man on the left.

A typical profile of a young lady, but her clothes and hair are worthy of imitation. Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni
1489 – 1490 by Domenico Ghirlandaio (Florence)

Another portrait of a young man who seemingly inspired 80s rock star hair.

Here more realism is creeping into the portrait.

Jumping ahead a few centuries, a Degas that was one of my girlhood favorites.

It was a joy to meet a new to me Van Gogh.

I find this portrait creepy but effective in conveying the loucheness of post WWI Berlin. Portrait of Dr. Haustein 1928 by Christian Schad.

Sonia Delauney, Three Dresses. The closest I came to a quilt the entire trip.

These are mere hints of the Thyssen’s collection. Another day I may have chosen different works. The website has arranged the museum’s greatest hits thematically if you want a deeper dive.

Next week I hope to be recovered enough to attempt some artistic endeavors; if nothing else I have some quilting to do.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Exhibits

Glimpses of Spain

While I had intended to have a newly sewn lap quilt top to show you, the universe had other plans. A few days after my husband and I returned from Spain we both came down with something flu-like. It wasn’t Covid, if the multiple negative test results were to be believed. Instead, I’ll share what came to be my photo obsession of our trip – portals.

A passageway near our Madrid hotel. The gates are locked at 9 p.m. every night.

The magnificent Alhambra in Granada.
A drug store in Seville with the beautiful tile work the city is famous for. All drug stores seem to feature neon green crosses for easy identification.

The British Institute, a language school in Seville.

A glimpse into a residential courtyard in Seville.

Courtyard of a former textile factory in Barcelona, done in the Modernismo style by Josep Puig i Cadafalch (and that’s what Catalan looks like.) It’s now a cultural and social center, CaixaForum.

Any or all of these may inspire future art.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Project Ideas

Fun While It Lasted

Here’s yet another “classic” post from 2016. You guessed it, I’m still on vacation. This post is especially pertinent as I have just dropped my Modern Quilt Guild membership. I don’t know why it took me so long. Maybe I kept hoping the direction would swing away from all the patterns.

With QuiltCon West underway in California it seems a good time to declare that I am over modern quilting, as defined by current modern quilt practitioners. Back in 2012 I had high hopes for a bolder, less pretty, more personally defined approach to quilting. I read and was inspired by many of the blogs that sprouted daily, and joined a local modern quilt guild. I made several quilts in the spirit of modern quilting.

Now, four years later, I say goodbye to all that. My local modern guild limped along on life support for two years, and finally vanished without even a whimper. Many of the blogs I enjoyed have ceased publication or have devolved into advertisements for fabric collections, patterns, and other items for sale. I gather it’s called branding, which I always associate with cattle ranching. Certainly there are outstanding exceptions, but many modern quilting books either lack substance or recycle “traditional” quilt book topics like half square triangles with new fabrics. Modern quilters jump from one “must have” fabric line/pattern to another. The owls, the deer, sheesh! What happened to the originality? I see a lot of “me too.”

It may be that I’m holding modern quilters to higher standards than I do traditional quilters. Yeah, probably. I just had such hopes for self-determination – design your own quilts, make them with less expensive solid fabrics/vintage sheets/whatever, learn to sew and FMQ in a month. Then, the marketing juggernaut struck. And who wouldn’t be tempted by the chance to make money from your hobby? BTW, I’d be interested to learn of quilters who support themselves on modern quilting.

I do treasure what I’ve gained from the moderns. The bold, off kilter designs were a shot in the arm. The exuberance of new quilters who had no idea something might be hard was a spur. The sheer thrill newbie quilters got from their first efforts reminded me how fun quilting can be. You can see from the winning quilts at QuiltCon West that plenty of great quilts are being made; not all has been drowned out by marketing. I still think, though, the definition of modern quilting remains as slippery as ever.

Here’s some of my modern quilts that were most directly inspired by the modern quilting movement. One, Breezeblocks, is even very close to the original in Quilting Modern. I still treasure that book.

Curves Ahead 2

Curves Ahead (based on Pinterest pin)


Spring @ 60 MPH (layout by Timna Tarr)

Where did all the hexies go

Where Did All The Hexies Go? (from my head)

107 pyramids

107 Pyramids (based on a drawing by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr)


Boxed Triangles (from scraps)

Color Slide

Color Slide (my own invention)

Impact 2

Impact (concept from Terry Aske)


Tipsy Lampshades (concept from Quilting Modern)


WPM (layout based on Esch House Quilts design)


Breezeblocks (based on Quilting Modern)


Filed under Commentary, Modern Quilting, Snark