Friday, April 20, 2018

Smocking Quilt Finished: Nestling

On Monday I shared the first steps of my new "fabric manipulation" quilt, and now I'm back to share the final thing.  The last we saw, it had been painted, quilted, and stitched along the grid so that the back side looked like a big mess.


But! It really does work.  Here's the final quilt from the front:

Nestling, c. Shannon Conley, 2018






I love the way it turned out.  To me it feels like a quilters interpretation of the garter stitch from knitting, or a bunch of little squids all nestled together.  I decided to call it Nestling, because of how nestled together each element is with its neighbors.  Of course a nestling is also a baby bird, so maybe they aren't squid heads but baby bird beaks?  Or very well-organized bird nests?  Who knows!  The quilt didn't fold quite as well as a single piece of fabric would have, but did come out quite a bit better than I expected.  I'm super excited to try some more like this using different patterns.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I Like #62

Another week of things to like!

1.  I like the ballet!  I don't go very often, for some reason it's not usually the first thing that comes to my mind (usually choral concerts or the symphony), but a friend invited me to go this weekend and I really enjoyed it.  It was a set of three modern ballets.  I enjoyed all of them, but Petal was my favorite; it had the best combination of music, dancing, and choreography.

2.  I like that Bullett is feeling a little better.  We haven't been to our follow-up vet appointment, but he's feeling better enough to be sad that he's not allowed to go on the walks, so I think that's improvement!

3. I like neon!  As a true child of the 80s, I love neon, and it seems to be in something of a resurgence.  I generally stay away from buying yarn and fabric in an effort to use up my stash, but after a friend instagrammed me about some finds at a local yarn shop, I caved and bought this yarn this weekend.  I love it, and neon seems to come in and out of fashion fairly quickly so I worried if I didn't buy it, it might not be around next time I looked.  I'm resisting starting something new due to anxiety about other unfinished projects, but I can't wait to use it.


4. I like flowers!  In common with much of the US, we've had a crazy spring here, warming up and then freezing.  I don't think any of my trees will have fruit this year because we had so many freezes after everything bloomed, and all the outside flowers I planted have died, but my inside geranium is blooming and there are some flower beds around town that are blooming.





5.  Finally, I'm almost caught up with my backlog of unblogged quilts which makes me happy.  I posted earlier this week about a new quilt I made using a smocking technique.  Check it out if you're interested, and check back tomorrow to see the finished piece.

Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us going!



Monday, April 16, 2018

New Quilt: Smocking

As part of my ongoing pursuit of dimensionality in quilts, I recently decided to see if I could make a smocked quilt.  By smocking, I mean something like this, which, as it turns out, is not actual smocking.  While at the Dallas Quilt Show a couple of weeks ago (after finishing this quilt actually), I visited the booth of the Lone Star Smockers which is a chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.  The very kind ladies there let me ask a billion questions and were very helpful but did let me know that what I was talking about is called "fabric manipulation" rather than smocking, which is this.  TBH, I think they should come up with a better name- fabric manipulation seems like what we're all doing and rather vague.  But anyway, actual smocking looks like fun too, but I don't think you could do it with a quilt.

I, as has been my recent pattern, started with a piece of pale polyester prom dress type fabric and painted it.  Then I quilted it quite densely with both matching and contrasting threads.  For this piece I wanted the quilting to be both even and dense because I was afraid it wouldn't fold up right otherwise.






After quilting, I went ahead and squared up and put on/finished the facing.

This kind of fabric manipulation is done by marking a grid on the back and then stitching from corner to corner in a defined pattern.  I had to guess about how big to make my grid; I wanted it to be big enough that the quilt would fold (since quilts are thicker than fabric) but small enough that there was space for enough repeats of the pattern to actually be able to see the pattern.

Here's the grid drawn on the back.  The next picture shows what it looks like as you're stitching the pattern from the back; basically a big ole mess.  You sort of have to trust that when you get to the end it'll have come out right.   Spoiler alert:  it came out right!  Come back Friday and you can see the final quilt!




Have you ever done any smocking or fabric manipulation?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

I Like #62

What to like this week?

1.  I like getting to visit my sister and the kids.  I went down to Dallas on Friday night because Anna's 6th birthday party was on Saturday.  We had a real blast, including a fun morning opening family presents, then a nice lunch with my sister's in-laws, followed by a pool party at an indoor water park.  That was a blast, the kids had lots of fun and I love swimming with them.  It was exhausting though; I was surprised by how many parents brought 5 and 6 year olds to a party at a water park and didn't expect to get in the water.  It meant multiple little kids to watch for each of us adults who were swimming, but everything was fine.  My sister had this fun idea for a fish cake made out of cupcakse and we had fun making it.  Anna and Alex helped putting on all the candy.  I really love getting to see them all!!  After the pool party we had a slumber party with a couple of Anna's friends, and all in all it was a nice weekend.


2.  I'm glad to know what's been wrong with Bullett!  He's been kind of off lately and late last week stopped eating completely.  I switched him to wet food, and he ate that, but I was really worried so got him in to the vet yesterday.  Apparently he has heart disease and lots of fluid in his lungs (which is not good at all), but they gave me several different medicines, and I think he's supposed to start feeling better soon (yay!!).

3. I love everything that's blooming!  I was short on pictures this week, but I went out this morning to spray some fungicide on my apple trees (last year they were completely devastated by rust fungus) and they were all covered in blooms.  They're the last ones to bloom.  It's been quite a cold spring here, or rather it warms up and then we get random cold snaps again.  Two weekends ago I was goign to plant the Dahlias, and it was cold on Easter.  Then it warmed up during the week last week, and then it snowed here this past weekend!  I think it's finally warming up for good though so hopefully I'll get to plant this weekend.

4. I love working on new projects!  I have several in process, but here's a sneak peek of the one I started while in California.  It's my Bentley Dog (in progress)!!  Hopefully more to come on all these quilts soon.


5.  I like getting to post about other things!  If you didn't catch it, this week I posted about one of my new not-actually dimensional quilts, and about the opening of one of our new quilt shows "Life Along the Rio Grande" and the catalog/promotional materials I made for it.  It opened on Friday at the Branigan Cultural Center in Las Cruces.  I wasn't able to get to the opening, but Betty Busby shared some great pictures of the show.  The show had tons of great quilts, I wish I'd gotten to see them in person, but I did get to look at the photos in depth while making the catalog.  One of my favorites is Hope Wilmarth's armadillo quilt (you can see it on the left side of the corner in the pic below).  I, as you may know, have a soft spot for armadillos.







Hope you all have a good week of things to like and thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us positive!





Monday, April 9, 2018

Life Along the Rio Grande Catalog

In recent years I've done the promotional materials (postcard, poster, catalog, etc.) for the SAQA NM art quilt shows, as well as some other shows.  I really enjoy putting together the catalogs and coming up with new designs and logos, and making a cohesive set.  I just finished the catalog for the most recent show, Life Along the Rio Grande which is opening in April at the Branagan Cultural Center in Las Cruces.  My mom worked really hard in for this show in particular, securing most of the venues, which is a huge task.  The catalog is available on Amazon, and the funds go to support SAQA NM.   The regions use the funds to help with the costs of traveling the shows to multiple venues.

The opening for the first venue was last Friday (in Las Cruces, NM) so anyone in the area should go check out the show at the Branigan Cultural Center.  The details are on the postcard back down below.

Here's the logo I made for the show:


And the postcard, front and back:

And the catalog cover and some shots from inside.







Then a few weeks ago I got a wonderful surprise in the mail (in spite of some delivery mixups) from my friend Betty Busby who's the curator for the show.  She knows I like graphic design stuff and she got me a sheet of stamps printed up featuring the postcard image.  What a fun surprise!



 And just for good measure,  this is the quilt I have in the show, called VLA: High Plains of New Mexico, which you can read more about here.




Friday, April 6, 2018

New Quilt: The Triangles Re-visited (Tesseract #2)

A couple weeks ago I blogged about one of my newer quilts, Tesseract #1 (aka the Triangles).  In case you don't remember, it was a dimensional piece sculpted on window screen.

Tesseract #1, Shannon Conley, c. 2018

I loved the way it turned out, but the dimensional nature means that I can't show it in a lot of places.  So I thought I'd take a picture of it, get it printed very large at Spoonflower, and then quilt it.  My goal was to see how dimensional I could get it to look while still being completely flat.  I juiced up the colors a little bit for a couple of reasons.  First was that I wasn't sure whether the printing process would dull them (although I've always had good luck with Spoonflower before).  The second was because I wanted the colors to be more vibrant, closer to what the original triangles were before I had to cover them with tulle to facilitate quilting.  Incidentally, I have discovered something which has more recently been confirmed by others (including Susan Carlson), and that my assumption that light colored tulle would be the most inconspicuous is not always true.  As it happens, I probably would have been better with a medium or dark tulle, rather than the beige I used which just had the sad effect of neutralizing/graying out all my colors.  

So here is the flat 2D version.  I got the picture printed on cotton sateen, quilted it, and then finished the edge with a couched yarn.  It's very very flat!  Almost startlingly flat.  In fact, because there's no binding or facing, it's even more flat than my normal quilts.  It's sort of optical illusion-y, because to me it looks quite dimensional.  Perhaps that's because I know what the original looked like, but I still think it's cool.  

Tesseract #2, Shannon Conley, 2018


I like that in some places you can see the original quilting stitches under the new quilting stitches.  Like a mirror-mirror-mirror hall.




I had this one pinned to my design wall sideways to facilitate photography, and I actually think I really like it this way.  I haven't put the pocket on yet because I was waiting to see whether it got into a specific show that required the vertical orientation (it didn't) but I think I might put the pocket on so it can hang in this orientation.




And for comparison sake,  here they are side-by side. It seems a bit eerie actually. 

Tesseract #1 (left) and #2 (right)


Thursday, April 5, 2018

I Like #61

Another week of likes!

1.  I love Holy Week and Easter.  Our church choir sings at many services including the Maundy Thursday service,  candlelight Easter Vigil, and multiple Easter Sunday services.  I love being able to sing in multiple services,  that way we get to sing all my favorite music more than once.  This year we had a saxophone quartet accompany the organ and it was fun to have some extra big sound for all the joyful hymns and anthems.  Maundy Thursday is always a very moving solemn service for us, and I was able to snap this picture just before the service started.  Unfortunately it was about 35 degrees on Easter, so I was prevented from planting my flower beds in the afternoon.



2. However, things are blooming!  Spring is coming regardless.  It's supposed to freeze again tonight, but hopefully not hard, because all my trees are blooming. I adore adore adore blooming trees (!!)  The crabapple is covered with beautiful white flowers,  the redbud with gorgeous fuchsia flowers, and the apple trees are starting to bud out in pale pink/white.  I got fungicide for them, last year the apples had a really wretched rust fungus and it was awful.  Sadly it was cloudy the day I took the pictures, but it's so nice to have things blooming.







3.  I like bookplates!  I recently went to an exhibit of medical bookplates, and used it as a reason to round up some of my favorites.  I blogged about it here, so you can go check it out.  These are two of my favorites,  one from the exhibition and one from my library.




4. I like my pups!  Of course that's not news, but I snapped this picture last night and I couldn't help sharing it.  Bentley looks so reproachful, very disappointed that I put stuff in his chair, yet undeterred from cramming himself up there.


Thanks to LeeAnna for linking us up!









Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Plate Exhibition

The library here at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center recently mounted a small art exhibition featuring book plates from their historical book collection.  I've always loved bookplates, at the bottom I've shared pictures of some of my favorite bookplates from my collection, so it was really cool to go see the exhibit. They scanned the bookplates, blew them up to 24 x 36, and mounted them nicely so you can really see lots of detail.  I was struck by the variety!

This is the text that accompanied the exhibit:
"A bookplate, or ex libris as often referred to, is a decorative label pasted inside the cover of a book to indicate ownership. The first bookplates originated in Germany along with the invention of the letterpress in the 15th century. As printed books began to flourish and borrowing became more prevalent in the 16th century, a record of ownership became necessary. Throughout the 17th century, bookplates were predominantly used by superiors in monasteries, philosophers, mathematicians, and physicians and were commonly designed with a coat of arms. The 18th and 19th centuries brought about copper-plated engravings which replaced woodcuts and introduced more decorative and ornamental designs. After World War II, ready-made bookplates became available. The current exhibit on display is a sampling of the bookplate collection from the Bird Library’s History of Medicine. All are believed to be post-WWII and were contained within books donated to the collection from those named on the plates. All bookplates were scanned and enlarged for display purposes."
---Kristi Kohl, Head of Serials Services

Some of the bookplates had a modern feeling vibe, quite illustrator-ly.  Others had a modern vibe in the architectural sense, with a sort of early-20th century reach for the sky feeling. 



I love this.  It feels very John Steinbeck to me.

I love this too- I think this is my favorite out of the whole exhibit, because this seems so like me.  I love the woods and being outside and hiking, and also having my nose stuck in a book.








Some had a very medieval feel, often complete with animals straight out of a fantastic bestiary. 





I have no idea what that third word is.  The rest of it reads: "Let thy _______, therefore, be thy pastime and game: which (if thou love it as thou oughtest) will so delight thee, that thou shalt think no time so well bestowed as upon it."  That missing word seems fairly important actually-  it looks like "bake" but that doesn't make much sense.  When I think of what would fit there, I think of something like Work or Prayer or something.  And I have no idea what any of that has to do with the little monster.


This is so strange!  Why would you label your books with an evil demon yelling at another demon?  And the flowery writing is so at odds with the picture!

Several had a classical/age of enlightenment/age of discovery sort of feel.




I put "Dii Laboribus Omnia Vendunt" into google and got variously: "All are hard sells" (I think the literal google translate version),  "The gods sell everything for labor", "No pain, no gain" and in my opinion the most graceful translation, "Heaven concedes everything to the laborious". 

Even for a doctor this one seems particularly grim.

I especially like this one- it's so custom, it makes me want to design some bookplates for myself!



Exploring this exhibition made me go back to my collection and take a look at some of my favorite bookplates.

These are the first two I remember, you can perhaps guess at my age by the quality of my penmanship.  I loved those snoopy ones especially.  I was talking to my mom about the bookplates the other day and she said the only ones she ever remembered having were snoopy bookplates, and I actually think "my" snoopy ones were actually some that she had leftover.  IMO that makes them even cooler!

When I was a little older, I picked out this undersea stamp.  I remember a few times carefully coloring it in with my stamp pad markers, but mostly I think I just used it black and white.  I still have it actually, maybe I should get it out and use it now.  I also remember asking for this embosser one year for my birthday.  It seemed very grown up (as a kid of about 12).  It reads "desk of" rather than "library of", but as I never had any official documents that needed to be embossed, I used it mostly for books.  



Later in high school/college I remember getting these.  They were my favorites and seemed like a splurge luxury item.  I spent lots of time trying to decide which books were sufficiently important to merit the "good" bookplates.  


Then about ten years ago, my grandfather gave me half a box of his bookplates.  That was again pretty special for me, having a connection to him.  He's passed away now and I have many of his books.  It's always fun to open up one and see his bookplate with his name or mine.  In his case, these two, theater and ships are both very fitting, those were both strong interests of his.  Mine are perhaps less personal, but still emblematic of things I love: books, animals, fantasy, family?  Good things I think.

The crafty side of me thinks I ought to carve a new bookplate stamp for myself.  I did a little stamp carving at a class a couple years ago, and what better way to make a really personal label, but I'm not sure I'll ever get around to it!



Do you use bookplates in your books?  Do you have any from beloved family members?