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The Quilts for Obama show continues to get a great deal of buzz.  I recently found out that there is a possibility that the show could be extended.  Nothing has been confirmed yet but I will let you know.  In the meantime, Sonji Hunt has been collecting links of the 44 artists in the show.  After you have finished visiting here please take a look at Sonji’s blog to see the fabulous work of the show participants.

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I have been working on a new piece for a show about Africa

n Merwomen and Merwomen.  My quilt is called Olokun kept Us. Olokun is said to be the keeper of the deepest part of the sea.  She is often depicted as a mermaid. Sometimes she is described as being/connected to Yemaya.  The quilt I  constructed evolved from a dream I had.  I had been reading Nature’s Studio by quilt artist Joan Colvin.  I admirolokuntransfer1e her work and found some of her collage techniques interesting.  In rendering Olokun I wanted to show her deep in the water but I also wanted her to be a part of the water.  Reading Colvin’s book got me to thinking about ways to make my figure blend into the background fabric.  I did not want to applique the image or have her sit on top of the fabric.  I began this quilt three times before I got the effect I wanted. Here is the first “block” I created.  I came up with the idea of  painting Olokun on to iron on adhesive and then transfering the image onto fabric.  I thought that this was one way I could get the sheer look I wanted — where the figure would look like it was emerging from and was one with the background.  So, I held my breath and used a light gray colored pencil to sketch in the figure. I then painted the figure on to Heat n Bond lite with liquid acrylic paints.  I let my painting dry, cut it out and got my iron out and this is what I got in my first attempt

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What I discovered in this process is that Heat n Bond Lite is not the correct adhesive to use for this process.  I found it too plasticky.  Also, the ransfer became hard and peeled in someareas.  Still I felt I was on to something so I decided to try it again.  In the next version I made a more detailed drawing and really focused on painting the face. This time I decided to paint on Wonder Under.  Here is a picture of the painting in progress.  My next post will show the steps I went through to complete the transfer and build the rest of the quilt.

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I mentioned before that I was going to make a point of getting out of my studio and out of my own little world more. My first step was taking the plunge to participate in an 8 week workshop on monoprinting at the Atlanta Printmakers Studio. I am sad to report that I have found a new addiction. Karoda mentioned that like quilters, printmakers have their own language, tools and groups. I already knew this from my days as an undergrad. Still, I let myself go into this space knowing that I would be drawn in. Shame on me (not!). Monoprinting is a favorite among many because of its painterly style. Since I love painting this workshop seemed like a match for me. This year I want to explore as many ways to get images on fabric as possible. This process especially includes the unusual and extraordinary. I am experimenting on paper and fabric during this workshop. Right now I am using soy based inks. Next week I will be experimenting with water-based inks and procion dye. I have a batch of sodium alginate setting up right now. Here are some samples of my work on paper. Used the soy based ink and Utrecht’s American Masters printmaking paper. The images are drawings I did for my next several exploration quilts based on LOVE. I obviously need to keep working but I am proud of my first efforts. I see the potential of new and exciting things to come. I have plans to go back in to two of these images and do a little watercolor to bring out the images more. What I like about this method of trace monotype is the interesting line that you can get.

With this image I tried drawing in the ink with odorless mineral spirits. Kind of creepy but I kind of like it.

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As many of you know 2007 has been all about completion for me. I have whittled down the stack of incomplete quilts in my studio to about a hand full. The hardest part about this process has been in deciding which pieces I would actually finish. Sometimes I get fired up about a project only to find that it should have stayed an experiment — that the idea was really never supposed to be a full blown pie ce. The idea for the quilt Ebony Phoenix came to me after rereading Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place for the 100th time. What I love about her work is that I find something new every time I read her book. Naylor’s words appear in color to me. Her characters have “Nutmeg arms” that lean over windowsills. Their “gnarled ebony legs carry groceries up double flights of stairs and saffron hands string out wet laundry . . . .” Naylor ends her description of the women who lived in Brewster Place as “ebony phoenixe[s], each in her own time and with her own season had a story.”

To say that I am a visual person would be an understatement. Words always seem to transform themselves into images in my head. Naylor’s description of the women of Brewster place appeared this way in my sketchbook in a couple of different versions before I decided on the design of the quilt.

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Here is the nearly finished quilt. Rollover or click on the image to see it in more detail. I have been hand quilting it with procion dyed perle cotton. I have one last section to quilt and then I will bind it. I am currently working my way through the Painted Quilt so I haven’t ruled out adding more color to the piece once the quilting is done.

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Egyptians named the phoenix “Bento” which means “to rise in brilliance.” The phoenix is said to represent the inner ability in all of us to emerge transformed out of our self-imposed limitations and life’s greatest sufferings. Makes me think of something we used to play as children –rise sister, rise. wipe your weeping eyes.

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If you are anything like me you probably like to take a peek into the spaces where artists create. I like to look at bookshelves too. No, I am not particularly nosey (not particularly) but I do think that looking at how artists work, how they arrange their spaces, what they have in their spaces, what they read, will tell something about them and their creative process. I am not sure what my space will tell you about me other than I am not especially tidy. Still, I have to say that my studio office and studio are my favorite rooms in the house. These rooms are where I go whenever I have a free moment. The photo above captures a corner of my studio office. This is a little room above my actual workspace where I have most of what I call my design supplies. I have all (ok, MOST) of my fabric stored here. I audition fabrics for dolls and quilts on my table. I also like to draw here. The bulletin board holds calls for entries for shows as well as postcards for places where I would like to exhibit. Time sensitive material goes here too. The white boards (a great organization tool) are where I keep my checklist of projects with upcoming deadlines.

I wanted a pale color for the walls. I chose a sea foam green for this room. I guess it is the Pisces in me that made this choice.

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It is amazing to me the time in takes sometimes between the start and finish of a quilt. I don’t intend to take as long as I do but sometimes it just works out that way.  I painted this quilt top in a workshop I did with hollis chatelaine about five years ago.  I knew I wanted to set this block in a particular way. After having it sit on my design board in the back of my studio for all of this time I finally figured out what I want to do with it.  Oh, this painting has not been collecting dust.  I have taken it down and tried to set it in different quilts a couple of times.  I think I have finally figured it out.  Here is the painting

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I used what I learned in hollis’s class about dye painting with a few of my own techniques.  I think the hardest part about painting with dye for me initially was that the colors weren’t what I expected.  It took a minute for me to understand that I needed to know the cast of a color before I could get the mixtures I wanted.  Anyway, what I wanted to do finally clicked after I finished reading the introduction to Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi’s Textural Rhythms.  Jazz and Gospel music are heavy influences in my life.  I am a word person and an extremely visual person (obviously) so lyrics and words and phrases in novels and in books really inspire me. The music of Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling gave me the last little bit I needed to get me on the road to completing this quilt.  The quilt is called Esperanza (from the word esperar which means to wish, to wait, to hope for).  If you listen to Kurt Ellings Live in Chicago cd you will get the little joke that comes with the name of this quilt. As Ntozake Shange has said, I Live in Music. I will post more on the progress of this quilt.

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