A Design Wall – At Long Last!

My New Design Wall

My New Design Wall

I have a new design wall! Here it is with some sample pieces I started in a Sue Benner composition workshop back in January.

I have wanted a design wall for the longest time. I just had one problem….I don’t have an empty wall anywhere around my studio. I have crammed in as many shelves, storage units, and furniture pieces in there that ever inch of available wall space has been used. (There is the back of the closet door, but that isn’t wide enough.)

I decided that the best solution would be a portable design wall that could move as needed. I did some online research and saw many clever approaches from pull-down design walls to free-standing units that pop-up and can then be folded back into a storage bag. I decided a simple, very light weight, flannel-covered board would work well for me.

IMG_2795I have one large area in my studio with long shelves full of boxes of supplies. I don’t need to get into those boxes every day so I figured I could place a design wall over them and then move it aside should I need to find something in one of the boxes. Here’s what I did:

- With the help of a contractor friend, I started with a standard 4′ x 8′ size piece of 1 1/2″ thick insulation foam. (It helps to have a friend with a truck at this point unless your car is much bigger than mine.) Since the ceiling in my studio is not very high, I had to trim the board a bit so it would be just the right height to rest against the shelves and fit under the ceiling beams. It’s made of foam and is easy to cut with a straight edge and utility knife.

IMG_2787- I decided a white flannel twin size flat sheet would make a good cover for the board.  Since it was a new sheet, I washed and dried it to remove the folding wrinkles and to soften up the nap of the flannel. I laid it on a flat surface (Luckily I have my big table, but the floor would do if your knees and hips are more flexible than mine.)

- I wiped off the surface of the insulation board with a spray all-purpose cleaner and paper towels. (I discovered this was necessary the hard way. I didn’t realize how dirty the board was until I fist placed it on the sheet. Home Depot is a dusty place.)

IMG_2789- The board was centered onto the sheet. There is bold writing on the back of the board so make sure to put the plain side down so the lettering doesn’t show through the fabric on the front.

IMG_2803- I folded the top and back edges of the flannel over the board, using a little temporary adhesive to help me stretch and hold the fabric taut. Then I angled T-pins into the foam to hold the edges securely.

IMG_2792- Working from the center of each side, I folded and pinned the excess fabric at the sides to the back of the board. I tried to neatly miter the fabric at the corners but I wasn’t fussy. No one is going to be looking at the back.

- I leaned the covered board against the shelves and it’s perfect…light weight yet sturdy, and I can easily move it off to the side to get anything I need on the shelves behind it. And should it get dirty or full of threads, I can quickly unpin the flannel, wash it and put it back on the board.

I love my new design wall. It was so easy to make. Now to the fun part….designing!

 

 

 

Bring on the “New”!

You’ve probably heard the expression the goes something like this:

“Get rid of the old to make way for the new!”

Well that is just what I’ve been doing for the past several weeks.  (Actually, I think those weeks have turned into a couple of months, but I was determined to get the job done completely.)  In that time, I made myself open every box, bin, bag and basket in this workroom and go through it all and really think about whether it was something I needed to keep.  And, if it was, then it needed to be stored in an organized fashion so I could find things when I  needed them.

Supplies like buttons, beads and threads were organized by type and color.

It makes me so happy to see all these threads organized by color!

It makes me so happy to see all these threads organized by color!

My fabrics were divided by color, type, solids versus prints and placed into labeled bins. I vow to keep it that way, but I do have several unlabeled drawers and bins of unorganized scraps perfect for some improv piecing.

It's easy to see that green is my favorite color judging by the number of green fabrics I have in my stash.

It’s easy to see that green is my favorite color judging by the number of green fabrics I have in my stash.

A vow to keep everything it its labeled place.  At least I have good intentions on doing that!

A vow to keep everything it its labeled place. At least I have good intentions on doing that.

And my library of books…amazing that once you look at them you discover treasures you had long forgotten about as well as a few dated oldies but goodies that make you laugh.  And then there are the duplicate copies of titles (I know it is time to purge when I start buying something I already owe!)

I love my textile and art books!

I love my textile and art books!

So now I have a pile of supplies to sell or donate and my studio is all neat and tidy.

Clean and organized studio.  Let's hope I can keep it that way.

Clean and organized studio. Let’s hope I can keep it that way.

Bring on the “new”.  I am ready to go.

2014 – A New Year Begins

View from under the deck in Mt. Snow, VT

View from under the deck at Mt. Snow, VT.
Interesting lines & angles.
Inspiration for a quilt?

Another year begins.  A good time to stop and reflect on the year that has passed and the one that is to start.  My resolutions always seem to remain the same – get organized, pair down the “stuff”, move more, eat healthy….

It’s a popular notion to select a special word to define your goals for the upcoming New Year.   I was going to select “Balance” since I kept reminding myself to keep things in balance as I juggled many “interesting” balls during the last few months of 2013.  Looks like “Balance” is a very popular concept – from the theme of this month’s Real Simple magazine to many personal blogs and TV segments.

Since the idea of “Balance” got me through the end of last year, the work/phrase that comes to me now is “New Perspectives – Looking at Life from a New Vantage Point”.  I like the idea of taking a minute to stop and think and see things in a new way.  As our lives change, we are given the opportunity to have that new perspective.  It just takes the confidence to listen to the little voice in your head that encourages you to think “outside the box”. (I hate that phrase!  I see a bunch of words captured inside a square.)

So here’s to New Perspectives in 2014 and the exciting places they may lead me to in my work and personal life.

Turned on its side - still an interesting inspiration for a design.

Turned on its side…still an interesting inspiration for a design.

Happy New Year!

Fall Quilt Market – More Quilts

Here are more of the quilts that caught my eye in the exhibitions area of Fall Quilt Market in Houston.

There were several unique quilts that had openwork sections.  It was fascinating to study them to try and figure out how they were constructed.

One of the quilts in the World of Mother's Dream exhibit by Reiko Kato

One of the quilts in the World of Mother’s Dream exhibit by Reiko Kato

A detail of the Reiko Kato quilt

A detail of the Reiko Kato quilt.

Another Reiki Kato quilt

Another Reiko Kato quilt

Circle Quilt by Aki Sakai

Circle Quilt

Detail of Circle Quilt

Detail of Circle Quilt

Blue Tone Quilt by Aki Sakai

Blue Tone Quilt by Aki Sakai

Detail of Blue Tone Quilt

Detail of Blue Tone Quilt

And there were the quilts that tugged at your heart strings:

Boy & Best Friend by Jennifer Day Photo of her 10 year old son and his dog printed on fabric and enhanced with 58 different thread colors.

Boy & Best Friend by Jennifer Day
Photo of her 10 year old son and his dog printed on fabric and enhanced with 58 different thread colors.

My Best Friend by Nancy Hutchison Scrappy pineapple blocks, created ith fabrics from her late husband's favorite shirts.  Quilting served as therapy following his sudden death.  The backing is an expensive Dallas Cowboy fabric she'd been saving.

My Best Friend by Nancy Hutchison
Scrappy pineapple blocks, created with fabrics from her late husband’s favorite shirts. Quilting served as therapy following his sudden death. The backing is an expensive Dallas Cowboy fabric she’d been saving.

Mayapples by Judith Busby Part of the Healing Quilts in Medicine exhibit.  These quilts were based on pharmaceutical plans and animals being used in cancer treatments today or being researched in studies and trials.

Mayapples by Judith Busby
Part of the Healing Quilts in Medicine exhibit. These quilts are based on pharmaceutical plants or animals being used in cancer treatments today or being researched in studies and trials.

And there were many quilts that made you smile. The What’s for Dinner? exhibit proved that quilters also had a passion for food, along with their passion for fabric.  Each art quilt was an enlarged place setting, complete with place setting, silverware, plate and food.

What's 4 Dinner?

Whats4dinner2Whats4dinner3Whats4dinner4Whats4dinner5

Fall Quilt Market Report……… Part 2 – The Quilts

Quilt Market Exhibits - Peaceful Inspirations and Quiet as a Church

Quilt Market Exhibits – Peaceful Inspiration and Quiet as a Church

One of my favorite things to do at Quilt Market is to spend quality time enjoying the rows & rows of quilts hung for the various quilt competitions and exhibits.  During Festival, those rows are packed with people admiring the quilts and eager to see all the details.  But, during Market, while most attendees and exhibitors are busy conducting the business of quilting, the rows are practically deserted and it is as quiet as a church – so peaceful and inspiring.  Here are some quilts that caught my eye this year.

Exuberance by Wendy Starn - a windmill block cut using the stack & whack method

Exuberance by Wendy Starn – a windmill block cut using the stack & whack method

Fish Scraps by Rahna Summerlin.  Inspired by a vintage fish quilt.  Almost all the fabrics are from surf wear industry ready-to-wear fabric samples & remants

Fish Scraps by Rahna Summerlin. Inspired by a vintage fish quilt. Almost all the fabrics are from surf wear industry ready-to-wear fabric samples & remnants.

Cakes Are Ready by Keiko Maida of Japan.  Just gotta smile when you look at this one.

Cakes Are Ready by Keiko Maida of Japan. Just gotta smile when you look at this one.

Dear Jane, Welcome to the 21st Century by Valerie Mullally of Ireland.  Jane keeps up to date with apps and icons for her block designs.

Dear Jane, Welcome to the 21st Century by Valerie Mullally of Ireland. Jane keeps up-to-date with apps and icons for her block designs.

Recycled Silk Ties - No Necks Needed by Virginia Anderson.  Sewn from silk ties.

Recycled Silk Ties – No Necks Needed by Virginia Anderson. Sewn from silk ties.

Pink Candle, Organic Log Cabin #5 by Jennifer Emry.  The color palette for this quilt was inspired by the Henri Rousseau painting, "The Pink Candle"

Pink Candle, Organic Log Cabin #5 by Jennifer Emry. The color palette for this quilt was inspired by the Henri Rousseau painting, “The Pink Candle”.

Mediterranean Colors and Perfumes by Sonia Bardella of Venice, Italy.  A beautiful mosaic pieced quilt.

Mediterranean Colors and Perfumes by Sonia Bardella of Venice, Italy. A beautiful mosaic pieced quilt.

A detail of Mediterranean Colors & Perfumes.

A detail of Mediterranean Colors & Perfumes.

Irish Crochet Lace by Chieko Shiraishi of Japan.  A combination of crochet and quilting

Irish Crochet Lace by Chieko Shiraishi of Japan. A combination of crochet and quilting.

Looks like there are several more quilts I’d like to share, but I will stop here and do Part 2 of Part 2 shortly.  I guess that would technically make it Fall Quilt Market Report – Part 3.

Fall Quilt Market Report – Part 1

As usual, fall Quilt Market in Houston was a colorful visual treat for all the senses and an overload of sewing/quilting and creative inspirations.  Here are just a few of the booths and products that caught my eye when my camera was close in hand.

Fabric, fabric everywhere!  It seems to me that this show, more than ever, featured so many new designer fabric collections.  I sure am glad I am not a fabric buyer because it would be so difficult to narrow down my favorites.  Here’s a peak at what was new:

Laura Foster Nicholson of LFN Textile and designer for Renaissance Ribbons introduces her first fabric line with Troy.

Laura Foster Nicholson of LFN Textile and designer for Renaissance Ribbons introduces her first fabric line with Troy.  http://lfntextiles.blogspot.com/

Andover Fabric makes a big splash with their Downton Abbey collection - free tote bags at Schoolhouse.

Andover Fabric makes a big splash with their Downton Abbey collection – free tote bags at Schoolhouse.  http://bit.ly/1go3SVm

Amy Butler Hapi collection inspired by her travels to Egypt.

Amy Butler Hapi collection inspired by her travels to Egypt.  http://bit.ly/1bTTbUM

Heather Bailey's award winning booth.

Heather Bailey’s award winning booth.

How nice to meet Denyse Schmidt (no relation!) and see her Ansonia collection and Modern Solids

How nice to meet Denyse Schmidt (no relation!) and see her Ansonia collection and Modern Solids. http://bit.ly/19whitQ

Anna Maria Horner's beautiful Dowry collection.  Anna Maria just had her 6th child...how does she do it all?!

Anna Maria Horner’s beautiful Dowry collection. Anna Maria just had her 6th child…how does she do it all?!

Of course there were lots of other things besides fabric to get excited about.  A couple of my favorite new products:

Nathan Wiedenmann, creator of the Stella EDGE light.  Santa...I need this!

Nathan Wiedenmann, creator of the Stella EDGE light.  Santa…I need this!  http://stellalighting.com/

Terial magic spray that transforms fabric into paper like sheets.  Makes incredible soft flowers that can be molded and formed.  Exciting what can be done with it and the Silhouette Cameo.  More things to add to Santa's list.

Terial magic spray that transforms fabric into paper like sheets. Makes incredible soft flowers that can be molded and formed. Exciting what can be done with it and the Silhouette Cameo. More things to add to Santa’s list.

And of course there are always the quilts!

Love the graphic look of this bicycle quilt.  Sorry I didn't write down the company who featured it in their booth.

Love the graphic look of this bicycle quilt. Sorry I didn’t write down the company who featured it in their booth.

How cute is this Dena Designs ruffle chevron quilt?

How cute is this Dena Designs ruffle chevron quilt?

A happy BOM colory therapy quilt program from Westminster Fibers.  Inspired by Michele Bernhardt's book Colorstrology: What Your Birthday Color Says About You.  My color is nectarine...what does that say?  I like to eat them!

A happy BOM color therapy quilt program from Westminster Fibers. Inspired by Michele Bernhardt’s book Colorstrology: What Your Birthday Color Says About You. My color is nectarine…what does that say? I like to eat them!  http://amzn.to/18UhKhp

And the booth that I thought was really unique:

Green Bee Design & Patterns.  Love how they showed their patterns in muslin with the design lines in black.  You can imagine them in just about any fabric.

Green Bee Design & Patterns. Love how they showed their patterns in muslin with the design lines in black. You can imagine them in just about any fabric.  http://greenbeepatterns.com/

Here I am after my book signing.  Thank you to Fabric Editions for helping me promote Precut Patchwork Party.  I signed 20 books in 20 minutes–whee!  http://amzn.to/HDkxWHBookSigning

In Part 2, I’ll show you quilts from the exhibitions area.

Ken Lockwood Gorge ….. My Special Place for Peace & Inspiration

Ken Lockwood Gorge

Ken Lockwood Gorge

Do you have a special place where you can go to find peace and inspiration?  Perhaps a spot where you can hear yourself think, listen to your heart beat, find answers to the questions/problems you face and calm your soul?

I live close enough to NYC that I can take the train in to see what is new in my favorite fabric haunts in the garment district or check out the trendy products and displays at ABC Carpet & Home.  This weekend I get to go in to take part in the Quilters Take Manhattan conference.  All of these places and events are very exciting and inspiring, but my very special place for inspiration is not far from home – the Ken Lockwood Gorge in Califon, NJ.  A walk through this hidden natural gem never fails to nourish me in so many ways.

2013-09-24 017Today was the perfect day to stop and walk down the gorge trail, right next to the Raritan River – not a cloud in the sky, a little cool, a picture perfect early fall day.  On my way home from running errands and rushing through my day, my car found its way there. For a little over an hour I slowly walked, enjoyed each turn in the path, noticed how the sunlight changed along the edges of the river, and listened to the sounds of nature.  The music alone of the water rushing through the rocks lowers my blood pressure and calms me more than any yoga class ever has.

Ken Lockwood Gorge - a popular spot for trout fishing.

Ken Lockwood Gorge – a popular spot for trout fishing.

Although I hadn’t planned on it, I found myself thinking about a design problem I was facing yesterday – one that had me stuck and frustrated and doubting myself.  But on the walk, as I looked at the amazing natural world around me, the next direction for that problem suddenly became clear.  This has happened to me several times before when I have faced what looked like a dead end.  It’s never forced.  It’s never anything I set out to find, but there is something about this place that helps me to answer questions and problems, whether they be personal, worldly or related to my work and design projects.

The heron who lives at the Gorge.

The heron who lives at the Gorge.

Reflections in the water.

Reflections in the water.

The music of the rushing river waters...

The music of the rushing river waters…

I hope you have a special place too.  Whether it’s a beach, or a lake, a favorite museum or book store or a quiet neighborhood path, never underestimate the power it has to renew you.  Take the time to go there, if not in person, then at least in your mind.