## Tuesday, May 22, 2018

### New Quilt: Twining, Art with Fabric Blog Hop

Every so often Alida from Tweety Loves Quilting hosts an Art With Fabric Blog Hop in which art quilters share a piece inspired by another artist.  She kindly invited me to participate again this year.  It's always lots of fun, I encourage you to hop over to that main page for links to others posting throughout this week.

The other bloggers sharing posts today are Terry and Bea, and I definitely encourage you to check their work out:

This years theme was "1 + 1 = 3", and my inspiring artist was Maria Oriza-Perez a contemporary abstract ceramicist from Spain.  I've loved her work for a long time and her use of space, form, shape, and pattern really inspired my jump to dimensional fabric work in general.  A lot of her work feels very mathematical, but she really uses non-traditional geometric forms to give what feels to me like a lot of motion to her work.  In addition, I'm often inspired by the empty spaces and shapes created by her sculptures.  Really really cool.

Anyone who's been following along here knows I've been working a lot with ways to introduce three-dimensional shapes and forms into my quilts, and several of the most recent (including this one) have been inspired by the concept of tesseracts.  Mathematically, a tesseract is a 4th dimensional version of a cube, but its a concept I was introduced to in A Wrinkle in Time.  There the idea is that a tesseract is a way of bringing two far away points in space and time extremely close together, to permit connections that would not be possible traveling through space and time normally.

Of course I only have three dimensions to work in rather than four, but I love the idea of finding different ways to make shapes by bringing together different spots on the surface of flat quilts.  I've used a variety of techniques to do this, but recently have been using smocking.

I start by painting a large solid piece of fabric and backing, then layering and quilting.  This one started out a solid gold-bronze color, and is a color scheme definitely outside my more common pink-purple-teal color palette.  I free motion quilt, in this piece with 30 weight thread to help give some more interest to the surface, and then finish the edges with a facing made from the same painted fabric as the top.

After the quilting/piece is finished, I start sculpting using a standard smocking technique.  This involves marking a grid on the back of the piece along with lines indicating points to be hand-stitched together.  Finally, I built a frame to support the back of the piece since the newly created fabric folds and shapes kept wanting to flop all over the place!

Here's the final quilt, I named it Twining because the shapes and colors make me think of children's book illustrations of Jack and the Beanstalk.

 Twining, c. 2018, Shannon Conley, 53" x 27" x 4" Photo: Mike Cox
 Twining, c. 2018, Shannon Conley, detail Photo: Mike Cox

 Twining, c. 2018, Shannon Conley, detail Photo: Mike Cox

I hope you enjoyed seeing my piece, and please visit the other blog hop participants!  I hope you'll come back here again, and if you're interested in more dimensional work, you can check out some of my other recent pieces.

## Thursday, May 17, 2018

### I Like #66

Well, sometime I promise I'll get back to posting more crafty content.  I just need to take some more pictures!

For now, here are some things I'm liking this week.

1. Starting a new project!  This will turn into my third smocking quilt, and I enjoyed painting the fabric for it this weekend.  I think the fabric was pale coral to start with.  These pieces are all very abstract, but this one is mean to put you in mind of a field of spring wildflowers, like indian paintbrush which started blooming here a couple of weeks back.

2.  I like getting on the lake!  We didn't actually get to sail any, but last weekend my friend Eric and I pulled his boat out of the water and then power washed, sanded, and painted the bottom in preparation for the summer sailing season.  It was way too windy to sail, but at least we got the boat mostly ready.  It was really gratifying to watch a winter's worth of lake algae go into the wind.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures except this one of a warning label from the Rear Commodore saying we need new dock lines since I left my phone on the the boat before we hoisted it out of the water.  It was a nice day to be outside anyway!

3. I love seeing my pieces out in the world.  Out of the blue last week I recieved an e-mail from the Dean of the Sacramento Episcopal Cathedral.  They bought one of my liturgical pieces last year out of a show, and he was writing to say that they used it as an altar frontal during lent, and how much they enjoyed it.  It's this quilt depicting the Confession of Sin, so it was really fitting for Lent.  So wonderful to know that it's living someplace where it fits so well.

4. I love my toads!  I usually have lots of them through the summer, and the first one showed up last week.  Big and fat, and bug-filled!  Hooray!

Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us linked up.  I hope you guys have a great week.

## Thursday, May 10, 2018

### I Like #65

Another week of good things to talk about!

1.  I think (please please please) the tick fiasco is wrapping up.  Bentley went to the vet and is fine, I got them both on new good medicine, and I haven't seen any ticks in a few days.  I'm still vacuuming the furniture and spending more time than usual in my non-upholstered wooden rocking chair, but I think things are improving.  For your enjoyment-  some happy sun-spot dog pics.  They're so sweet.

2. I love all the things that are blooming right now!  My petunias have come back from all the freezes, and my blackberries are blooming too!  In addition, my Christmas cactus is super-confused and has bloomed like crazy!

3.  My dahlias have sprouted!  At least a couple of them.  At least I'm pretending they're sprouting dahlias (rather than just another weed).  I think the little bright green shoots in the middle are the dahlias.  Keep your fingers crossed that they keep growing.

4. I finished another quilt!  I'll share more of it in a couple weeks, but here's another updated sneak peek.

5.  I like Roger Whittaker!  LeeAnna shared a link to Leaving on a Jet Plane, and though of course that's classic John Denver, I grew up listening to the Roger Whittaker version.  He has such a wonderful voice and we listened to so many of his albums growing up.  As with most things, there's a bunch of his music on YouTube if you haven't heard it before.

6.  I like jigsaw puzzles!  I had such fun doing them as a kid and teenager, but hadn't done one in a while.  Recently I realized I have a niced sized dining table and I'm the only one who eats at it so there's plenty of room to have one out and going.  I just worked this Star Wars puzzle I'd had for a while, and I have a big Disney one to work on next.  Just a few minutes while I'm drinking my coffee in the morning, or in the evening when I'm too tired to sew anymore.

I hope everyone has a good week!  Thanks to LeeAnna for linking us up!

## Thursday, May 3, 2018

### I Like 64#

Welcome to another week of I likes!  We've well and truly entered storm season here, and last night were the first tornadoes of the year.  They were mostly small and we were fine, but you know Spring has sprung when the storms crop up.  It does mean that for most of the week we've finally had really nice weather, so hooray!

1.  I love hiking!  I found some new trails in Lake Thunderbird State Park while looking for places to hike so last Saturday I took Bentley with me and we had a lovely hike.  The wildflowers are just starting to come out and it was really pretty.  The most exciting thing is that while sitting along the lake's edge eating lunch, a beaver swam by!  I've never ever seen a beaver before and he was so close to the shore!  You could see his giant tail and everything.  At first he looked like a very large otter, but as soon as I saw the tail I knew it was a beaver.  So cool!  Unfortunately, by the time I pulled my phone out of my backpack, he'd passed me, so all you get is this tiny lump of his back.

 The Beaver!

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse after that, poor Bentley barely made it back, I overestimated his stamina, and then I realized he was completely covered in ticks.  I pulled off about thirty, and thought I'd gotten them all, but then have found more each day since we got home.  Last night I pulled off another fifteen,  this time from between his toes and under his armpits.  I feel like such a terrible dog mom, I didn't realize that his monthly medicine is only fleas and heartworm, not ticks.  I'm still not convinced I got them all.  Poor Bentley!  Now I'm worried I'll have an infestation in my house and yard.

2.  I love flowers!  I don't love gardening, but I do love flowers.  I decided to try to grow dahlias this summer and I finally planted my bulbs this weekend.  They've been sitting around for a month in my house, one even started sprouting, but we've had such weird late freezes I didn't want to put them out.  I have no idea whether they'll grow or not, but here's hoping.  I did see lots of wonderful grubs and earthworms while digging holes for the dahlias, so that's fun.

 Grubs

3. I like making progress!  I made a lot of progress this week on a new 3D quilt.  I'll be posting on it in a couple of weeks as part of Alida's blog hop, about which more later.  It's kind of a different mood colorwise from most of my other pieces.  Lots of brown and gold and bronzey green colors with just a dash of orange and red.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

Thanks to Lee Anna for keeping us positive!

## Thursday, April 26, 2018

### I Like #63

Another week of I Likes!

1.  I'll start with Bullett!  We went back to the vet earlier this week, and though the vet said his heart sounded bad, he was cleared to go on short walks.  He was coughing some this morning so I think we might need to go shorter, but we're all enjoying walking together.  And they've been snuggling with me more in the evenings, so yay!  Of course they always love a sunny patch.

2. I like building things!  I'm not actually much of a carpenter or anything, but I had fun this week building a floating frame for a quilt I mounted on stretcher bars, sneak peek below.  The quilt was a gift for Mike and I'll be back next week blogging about the whole project, but it was fun to build something new.  I decided I needed a miter saw to make it (rather than my very cheap old plastic miter box), and I was astonished by how much sawdust it generated!  I feel silly saying that, but of course it was pouring rain and my garage is so dark, so I decided I'd just use it inside my sewing studio.  Not to worry, extensive vacuuming saved the day, and I loved all the precise cuts from the saw!

3. I like baking!  I've been re-watching some episodes of the Great British Baking Show, and the other day I decided to make some yummy lemon egg yolk cookies from a recipe I got from my sister.  And of course since it only used the egg yolks, I had a bunch of whites left over so I decided to make meringue cookies too.  So tasty!

4.  I liked learning more about the history of Sesame Street!  One of the podcasts I really enjoy is called Part-Time Genius, and their most recent episode was all about the show.  Definitely worth a listen.  I really love podcasts, they are what I listen to most of the time.

5.  I like rain!  It tells me spring maybe really is coming, and my plants are super happy.  More flower pictures next week hopefully!

Thanks as always to LeeAnna for keeping us positive!

## Friday, April 20, 2018

### Smocking Quilt Finished: Nestling

Update:  I'm entering this quilt in the Pantone Color of the Year Quilt challenge, because I love the bright purple, quite close to this year's ultraviolet, you get in this quilt where the underlying darker purple is overlaid with pink and turquoise thread in quilting.  You should check out the entries,  and thanks to No Hats in the House and Bryan House Quilts for hosting.

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?