Posted on

The King

This the largest quilt I’ve done so far.  Nine feet by nine feet. Eight-one square feet of hand-dyed Indonesian batiks and colorful Hawaiian prints (162 square feet if you count the back).  I pieced together strips to create the beach landscape, moving from sunset sky colors down to ocean colors and finally the sand.  I love the way the long horizontal strips create a feeling of vastness and make you feel like you’re just catching a glimpse of one small part of a much broader picture. The border is mixture of more of the batiks and Hawaiian prints and gives it a finished look without harshly cutting off the beach scene.

After stretching the background out onto the frame, I free-formed the designs on top of the beach scene, cutting each piece out of paper first to make sure proportions were correct.  Once I had everything laid out correctly, I cut the pieces out of fabric.  Each appliqué has the edges turned under and ironed down, making it a very useable, washable art piece.  It is a king-sized quilt, however that isn’t completely why I called it
“The King”.  One of the Hawaiian prints shows a King Kamehameha style character surfing in an old helmet. There are old structures and lush foliage that hint at ancient Hawaii. He’s not a prominent part of the quilt, but he seems to be there watching over it.  It’s one of the many little subtle details you will find as you explore all the images in the batiks and prints.

After I lay out all the fabrics and get the design just right, then it’s time to take the entire piece off the frame and add the finishing detail work with lots of freehand quilting.  I always compare it to drawing, except I am moving the paper instead of the pen.  All the thread work is my own design and is created as I go along.  No computerized stitches, no pre-programmed patterns and I don’t draw patterns out ahead of time onto the fabric.  It’s just me moving the quilt around under the needle, drawing with the thread.  Not only does it add beautiful lines and textures, but it is another layer of subtle details to be explored.

The backs of my quilts are always a favorite part.  The front has all the variety of colors, but the back is just the thread work on one large batik.  That allows for a graphic line drawing version of what’s on the front.  It makes it visually beautiful from both sides, which is important for a quilt that will be used and scene from both sides. In this case, it is a dark blue batik with a multi-colored tropical foliage. I used a variegated thread for the back that is the same tones as the batik design.

My quilting business started with a surfboard quilt very similar to this one.  It was a twin-size quilt that I made for my son eight years ago.  But, despite the fact that I’ve been making these surfboard quilts ever since, no two are ever exactly alike. Or even too close.  I don’t reuse patterns, and although the theme of the surfboards in the sand recurs quite frequently, the sizes, shapes, colors and fabrics are never the same.  Each piece I create is always a complete original. This quilt represents about 70 hours of work from conceptualization to construction and all the finishing touches.  Stop by and visit Studio 19 to see it in person.  It’s too big to hang on the wall for display, but that means it will be on my table and you can touch it and inspect it close up.

“The King” is for sale for $2900.

This little crab might be my favorite thing on this quilt.
Although I do love this sandcastle as well.
The photo doesn’t capture the sparkle of the stitching. I used a satin yellow thread and a gold metallic thread to add some shine.
I stitched wispy cloud-like lines and swirls into the sky to give it a different texture than the ocean.
I really love the batiks on this sailboat. That seagull batik is one of my all-time favorites, and the leaf one has the exact same color palette but compliments it with the larger scale print.
What ocean sky is complete without seagulls?
I absolutely love the surfboard prints in this quilt. And they were a second choice when I couldn’t find the one that I thought I wanted. Love those happy accidents.
I stitched the border in a lavender thread. I wanted to add some fun details like more tropical foliage and ocean waves, but I wanted the center of the quilt to be the star. There is a lot of detail in the border, but the color is subtle.
The back! I absolutely love quilt backs when done right.
The border.
I just love how the designs look pared down to just the stitching.

The sandcastle.
Laid out for photographing.

 

Posted on

“The Best Way Out is Always Through.” –Robert Frost

Layered batiks on cotton batting.

You know, I’ve had better weeks.  As I was packing some things up to work on at the studio today, I found this piece that I started a couple of months ago. Sometimes I create happy sea stars and fun octopuses.  And then sometimes, I am inspired by life and how it changes.  How it pushes and pulls you in these different directions, forcing you to either change with it or hold steady and fight it.  And the best solution isn’t always the same choice. Sometimes it’s about the happy things that inspire us–cute animals, beautiful scenery, vibrant colors or a great new piece of fabric.  And sometimes, it’s the not-so-happy things and in those moments of pain and struggle, I often visualize images that seem to parallel what I’m going through.

My rendering for “The Mouth of Hell” for “La Pastorela” at The Adobe Chapel in Old Town, San Diego.

One of those moments reminded me of this painting I had created years ago for a primitive styled production of La Pastorela.  In this little Christmas play, there is a very literal mouth of hell.  For this production, the director just wanted a very simple, fantastical design and this was my rendering for that backdrop.  I don’t know why I thought about it all these years later, but I pulled it out of my stash of paintings and decided I would turn it in to a textile piece.  It seemed symbolic of where my life was and I wanted to create something a little less happy-beach-day and a little more true to what I was experiencing.  That said, I am an optimist and I always like to feel there is hope.  I’ve been contemplating a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel piece for quite some time, and thought it might be cool to combine those two ideas and have the tunnel be this demonic mouth of hell, as that’s what it felt like I was faced with at the time.  I came across this Robert Frost quote that I felt fit so perfectly:  “The best way out is always through.”  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the difficulties of my life these past few years, it’s that.  There are no short cuts.  There are no easy paths that will allow me to circumvent the pain and stress and sorrow that my situation brings me.  It is only in walking through the fire that I will be able to pass my demons and step out of the darkness, over those sharp teeth and into the sunshine that awaits.  I don’t know how long it will take to feel that fresh air again.  Sometimes I feel the breeze and the warmth of the sunshine and know it is getting closer.  Sometimes it seems to take forever.  But, through it all, I know there’s only one way to go, and that’s to face it head on and walk straight through.

The finished piece. 19″x19″. Indonesian batiks, lots of free motion stitching, including red and gold metallic threads. The eyes and the sun are embellished with Swarovski crystals.
Love this little sun clearly bold and visible through the mouth. Lots of thread and a handful of Swarovski crystals make it shine and draw your eyes through the mouth on to something better.
Lots of free hand stitching and a beautiful red and black binding.
One more view.

SaveSave

Posted on

Liturgical Art. Such a Great Phrase.


Here’s my second piece of “liturgical art”. I love that phrase.  If feels so classy and righteous. But seriously, I really love making these pastor’s stoles.  There’s something about the odd size and the fact that it’s a wearable that make these quite interesting.  There
are two sides that need to sort of go together but don’t actually touch each other, and each side is only about 4″ wide and super long.  It’s not a proportion I’ve ever used in painting or textile work and it presents and interesting challenge.  The goal is to make it a piece of art in some way, but that can be tricky with such a long skinny surface area to work with.  Well, two long skinny surface areas, that really make up one picture, but split in half, so not exactly.  I feel
like I’m in a Dr. Seuss world.

My friend gave me a quick sketch of what he wanted.  This is to be a special baptism stole and he wanted abstracted water swirling. He had been inspired by a design I had created for my mother’s piece (coming soon). So, I shopped for an interesting assortment of blue batiks and got to work creating this little work of art.  I used a lighter batik with less pattern for the background so the river would contrast more and be the focal point.  I picked one that had a little pink and yellow in it as well, to add to the contrast, since all my water batiks only had blues in them.  Then it was just a matter of cutting out and layering all the swirls.  That’s probably simplified just a touch, but that’s really all
I did.  Layered wavy lines until it looked right. 🙂 The cool way of describing that process is to call it “organic”.  Which sounds much better than “lacking a plan”.  I love building designs from scratch as I go, though.  There are times for patterning and there are times to just roll with it and see where the batiks take you.  This was the time for that.  When it was finished, it needed a few bubbles to break it up and to tie the background together with the waves.  The stitching helps with that, too, but I like adding the circular shapes against the wavy lines.  Five thread colors for the free motion quilting and this beautiful little river was finished!  I also love the back.  I’ve been using darker batiks on the backs of my quilts lately so the stitching is very noticeable and I just love how it looks. Very happy with the way it turned out.

 

A few more closeups:

Love the back!   

 

SaveSave

Posted on

Selective Randomness

You know that song “You Are My Sunshine”? Well, I hate it. Eleven years ago, after going through more than a decade of fertility treatments and so many difficult things, we were finally placed with a sweet baby boy with the hopes of adopting him.  It was the best.  Such a special time for me.  But for some reason, all these years of waiting and preparing for a baby, and the only song I could think of to sing to him for months was “You Are My Sunshine”.  I mean have you ever listened to all the lyrics?  It’s a super depressing song but I think everything thinks it’s happy because it says the word “sunshine” except it’s not about sunshine at all. It’s about loss.  And it turned out to be prophetic.  Five months later, we had to give that sweet baby back to his father, and I haven’t sang it since.  I have this idea in my head that if I sing it, I will lose one of my boys, and I can’t risk that again.  I know it’s not rational, but it’s how I feel. Well, this week, it was featured in my son’s elementary school music program, and it brought me to tears very quickly and unexpectedly. I’ve been thinking about how often I use the sun motif in my work, because it does still represent joy and peace and warmth and beautiful Southern California days.  I just can’t sing that song.

This sun textile art is still a favorite.  I created each piece completely separately because I didn’t want anything to line up perfectly at all.  I wanted each piece to be a quadrant, but I didn’t want them to look like they went together.  I often refer to my process (and I used this term as a scenic artist also) as selective randomness. I need it to look random but if I really threw caution to the wind and didn’t check anything, then there is a big chance some parts would line up way too perfectly or the colors would match too well, and I don’t want that.  So, how do I coordinate but clash?  Well, clashing takes a little more skill than you might think.

I started by choosing four background fabrics that were very different from each other.  I chose two warm colors and two cool colors. From there, I picked up one of those squares and added all the fabrics and stitching.  The first one was kind of easy. But, from then on, I had to make sure things didn’t line up, and I didn’t use the same exact shapes.  It may sound easy to not match, but it’s surprising how repetitive our brains can be, and how they like to go back to their go-to shapes and colors and suddenly you wind up with four very similar pieces.  I often ask myself when I’m laying out fabrics “what does NOT go with this?” and then I choose that fabric. It’s a way of pushing me to step away from a routine or a tendency and instead pay attention to an instinct.  It requires intention, though.  It isn’t something you craft while you’re chatting with a friend.  I find in those times, we often revert back to habit.  It takes a conscious effort (at least for me) to push a boundary and to make a different choice.

Once I pieced all four quadrants, then I had to shift them around until I found the grouping I liked the best.  Next, I photographed it from all four sides to decide what direction I liked best, and that determined how I stitched the pieces together.  The individual quadrants were stitched to canvas before all the free motion quilting, to give the cotton batik fabrics some stability and to protect it when I stretched it over the frame.  Lots of free motion stitching, including several gold metallics.  It’s bold and abstract and full of life and so many colors.  Much better than that stupid song. 🙂

 

SaveSave

Posted on

Strong Women “Keep Going”

My phoenix rising from the ashes. She is unwavering in her determination to fly again. Read the blog post about this one.

I’ve been obsessed with Harriet Tubman lately.  I love tough girls, and she had to have been one of the toughest. I love Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth I and Sacajawea.  I listen to Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Miranda Lambert and Pink. And of course my mother…my biggest influence, and my sister and other amazing women in my family.  I saw a girl on a motorcycle today waiting at a stop light in her sleek leather pants. Red helmet, sweet black ride. I wanted to be her. Badly. Learning to ride a motorcycle has always been on my bucket list. I think it’s because the last few years have had me questioning what it means to be a strong woman.  A feminist. Which is a word I haven’t always related to because where I grew up, it often had a negative connotation.  A femi-nazi.  As if all women really wanted to just be men and/or wanted to live in a world without men.  And being a feminist must mean you don’t want be with a man or have one hold a door open for you and your days were spent bashing them.  As a mom of two young boys, it worries me that they will be seen as the bad guys for just being men. I don’t think turning the tide the opposite direction is equality. I have come to understand that the true definition of feminism is that I have the right to think and feel and pursue whatever I want. And if that means I want to cook pastries and raise babies, I can do that.  And if I want to be a CEO or play hockey, I can do that, too.

When I started making quilts as a business, it was really important to me that my more feminine quilts be just as bold and strong as the more masculine ones.  It also became important to me to bridge that gap and use such interesting combinations of colors and prints that both men and women would be drawn to just about any of my pieces. Since I started out making surf-themed crib quilts, I made a point of keeping the surfboard themes in both my girls’ and boys’ quilts, just making minor changes in the fabric choices…mainly adding more fuchsia to the girls’ quilts. I looked at what was already available out there and the boy decor was surfboards and vintage cars, strong prints and bold colors and the girl decor was inevitably flowers and bikinis. No, thank you. I love flowers, don’t get me wrong, but I felt it was time to portray those cool surfer and skater girls that I had seen ripping up the waves and tearing up the skate park.  Despite me not being great surfer and a worse skateboarder, as a more athletic person, those are the girls I could relate to more.  Nothing against Disney princesses, but there was plenty of that.  I wanted to bring a different powerful dynamic to my work.

She is her own woman, looking out over her limitless domain on a cloudy day, at peace with herself. The manager of her own destiny. The decision-maker in her own life and the chaser of her own dreams.  Maybe she’s a mermaid, but she’s a badass mermaid.

I sketched a lot and worked hard to create feminine designs the rivaled they boy stuff in the cool factor. Yes, I still use mermaids and flowers and feminine things.  But, I try to create powerful designs with those images.  As women, we are both feminine and strong.  Soft and tough.  Bold yet compassionate.  That’s what I want you to see when you see my work. I want you to see life and movement and passion and struggles and darkness and despair and triumph.  That’s what I see in myself.  All those things rolled into one person.  And many many people.

 

I started out with the surf quilts, and that led to creating other ocean-inspired designs. I’ve since branched out into desert landscapes and mountains and wildlife and so many other things.  Even when I’m designing a basic flower, I want that flower to embody how I feel about other women and about being a woman myself. So, even down to the simplest notecard, my designs are full of strength.  You may never know the thought behind each of my pieces or who may have inspired them, even in some small way, but know this…behind each work of art that I create, there is ALWAYS the influence of some badass woman who kept going.

“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” –Harriet Tubman

 

More of my strong feminine designs:

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
My surfer girl sunset.
This was for another amazing tough woman I know who is a business woman and also conquers the lake on her paddle board regularly.
Fearless flowers.
One of my surfboard notecards. Strong colors but feminine touches in the print.
This little octopus has stories to tell!
Mermaids are often girly, but the vibrant colors and her independent nature definitely make her a tough girl.
I love these wildflowers. Strong shapes and colors and design with a sun full of feminine sparkly Swarovski crystals.
It may be a simple heart, but the strong diamond print background gives it a little extra power. Hard geometric lines against the soft curves of the heart. Very symbolic.
There’s a blog post about this amazing she-wolf.
Touches of fuchsia bring a fun feminine element into this abstract surfboard.
her face…so determined. Wild mane flowing in the water. She knows where she’s going.
Even my jewelry is more rocker chick than quilt diva. So is my hair.
I freehanded the outline of the girl looking out at the wave there on the right. I love that image–of the surfer preparing to go out, reading the break. I also put her in a summer wetsuit because I get tired of the girls always being in a string bikini when most of the surfer girls I see aren’t.
I did a whole blog post about this girl and this design. Check it out under “The Calling”.
Now, this is one of the few I’ve done with more pastel colors. It’s also also more traditional style, which is unusual for me. But this collection of prints had the texture of denim…a little worn looking but still bold and colorful. I really loved them all and put them together in one quilt. I love the very simple design of the single surfboard and the sun on top of the squares and rectangles.
The poppies! I also did a blog post about this one, but I still love how bold and strong this design is. It’s flowers, but they’re powerful with their red color and proportion to the sky and grasses.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Posted on

Poppies!

I’ve always loved working with textiles. I’m a painter by trade and worked as a scenic artist in the theatre for many years. But, when I got back to working with fabric, I found my love. Part of what I love is that the way I create detail with the prints and colors that someone else designed keeps me loose and free in a way that holding a paintbrush and zoning in on small details inhibits. Not that you can’t be loose and free with painting, and in fact, painting scenery requires it. But fabric—it’s a whole new world.  I love that I layer tons of different prints to create a field or a sky or in this case, that line where they both mesh together. Where a close up view of tall grass breaks the straight horizon line you might see from a distance and the blues and greens blend together. I love all the fun prints that make that happen. So, when it came to these poppies, I decided they needed to be more solid in color.  A bold pop of brilliant red with no print to help make them blend. I wanted them to stand out. To stand strong against the meshing of the field and sky. Blocky stems and large, rounded, more abstract flower shapes make them the focal point of this piece. I used orange thread on the poppies to add a touch of highlight to the two red fabrics. The background was stitched in lighter weight blues and greens to add a hint of the sky and grass textures. Heavier weight dark blue and dark green threads finished it off, sketching in stem outlines and a horizontal bold skyline to offset the horizontal stitching of the grass and stems. A little abstract but fully recognizable.

 

  

SaveSave

Posted on

The Bear/Sloth/Octopus/Shapeshifter

Okay, it really is a bear, people. But, apparently it’s many things to many people because those are all the animals people in the studio thought this piece portrayed. I was only slightly offended at the octopus, though the person saw it upside down as I was trying to show it to them and I guess the fur looked like tentacles.  The sloth–somewhat understandable I suppose.  I was intrigued by the idea of a shapeshifter and that may be a subject for a future piece! That said, this piece has garnered tons and tons of attention. Perhaps it’s because it’s different than a lot of the pieces I make in that it’s more realistic in it’s woodland color palette and style, or maybe it’s the more details stitching in the face or maybe it just stands out in the studio against all the ocean colors.  Whatever it might be, I always love when a piece gets lots of attention.  And I do love this bear. I never could decide if he was a brown bear or a full on grizzly…I’ll leave that up to the new owner.  I used six colors of thread to create his powerful face and am very happy with how it all came together. I used a cream color thread to stitch all the fur and the hint of redwoods behind him, and then focused the attention on his face to bring out his bold, strong shapeshifter-at-heart personality. He needs a name.  Maybe I’ll ask his new owner what that will be.

The first seven images are the different layers of thread as I worked up to the finished face.  The others are finished details.  Enjoy!

Lots of stitching on the ear to create depth. And I love the hint of the trees in the background.
Love his serious face! It’s completely freehanded, so it’s always a surprise to me how their personalities develop.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Posted on

Original Batik Free Motion Quilted Textile Notecards

My mother loves to travel and collect cards from local artists.  It’s her way of getting a little piece of their work when she can’t buy a larger original.  The inspiration for these came from her and I’m so glad I finally listened to her and created them.  Each card is a unique mini version of my quilts with a fun design cut from bold, colorful fabrics and finished with free motion stitching. Each finished textile is then stitched to a 5”x7” notecard and is signed.  I feel every single one has its own unique personality, and even when I make multiples of the same design, I never duplicate the same fabrics and it’s impossible for me to free motion stitch them exactly the same, so you can be sure you have an original.  I make dozens of these a month, but here are just a few examples of some of my favorites.

So many cards every week!
I love this little saguaro in the hot desert sun. A splash of metallic thread on the sun adds a little fun sparkle (thought the metallic never photographs very well!).
A handful of the nativity and holiday cards I made at Christmas time. Still love these.
Step 1–piecing it all together. The stitching adds so much fun little detail
I added a few sea horses to the repertoire.
Each little handmade card is textile creation is a one-of-a-kind,

SaveSave

Posted on

“I Am Both”, self-portrait, 18”x24”

A couple of years ago I came across this Rumi quote and it really affected me.  I’ve been going through a period of rediscovery and have been trying to define who I was. Sometimes we want to put everything and everyone, including ourselves, into a category. But, we are so often many contrasting things at the same time.  I love that we can be peaceful and wild, and so many other opposing things all at the same time.  There are perfect times for all parts of us and we don’t have to choose just one thing to be.

I layered the batiks for the background and then built up the design until I had her just right.  Lots and lots of free motion quilting in many different colors of thread came next.  The final touch was to add all the bling.  Fifteen hours worth of hand beading, rivets and Swarovski crystals. The photos don’t do justice to the way that it sparkles.  All those ideas and thoughts and dreams and emotions either bursting out of her head, or being poured in.  You decide.  Or maybe it’s both.

I tried to capture the contrast of peaceful and wild in many ways. Her eyes, the contrasting colors, the juxtaposed stitching and the softness of the fabrics with the sparkle of the hard, shiny beads and crystal.
Love, love, love all the embellishments. Gotta love a little bling!
Layers and layers of bold Indonesian batiks. At least three layers of stitching on those lashes.
Gotta love some bling! So many hours, so much shine.

 

SaveSave

Posted on

“Connected”, 50″x70″

We are all connected. The seas, the creatures, the moon and stars and sun all move together to create life and write our story. We rise and fall like the tides and somewhere in there, there’s a splash of magic.

That was my artist statement for this quilt.

This quilt is one of the first ones I’ve done that has more of a story to it.  The original idea was to have sea stars rising up from the ocean and when the cross the horizon line, they become the night time stars. I loved the idea of a strip quilt for the background.  It gradates from a dark night sky into a sunset, and then from the bright surface of the ocean dow
n to the darker depths. As I was looking at the original sketch, I thought there needed to be more life and more connection between the sea creatures and the elements. I had this idea that an octopus would have his arm(s) full of sea stars and would be sending them up at dusk. This created an incomplete circular motion, so a setting sun seemed to complete that circle.  But, of course we needed to have a moon in the sky with those stars, and I loved the idea of it being a crescent shape to mimic the crescent wave.  The moon affects the tides so that seemed like another beautiful connection. I love the overlap of the two crescent shapes, especially since they both are in constant motion.  The last piece to be added was the mermaid.  Since all the other elements were connected in some way, I thought another creature should be involved in helping the moon to rise up into the sky. When I added her, it felt complete.  I love all the bold colors and prints and how they work together to create a beautiful composition that feels like it is in motion.

Each sea star got it’s own little design with the free motion quilting.
I thought the moon needed the mermaid’s help.
The batik I used for this octopus is one of my all time favorites.

 

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave