Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Pair of Cardinals

I've amassed quite the backlog of quilts to share with you, so what better time to start sharing them than now!

One thing that has pleasantly surprised me about doing quilt commissions is how far in advance people contact me to get on my list!  It's so helpful for me in regards to planning, and it ensures that you will have your quilt done when you want it done.  This particular commission came to me early this year by an old childhood friend of mine who needed these done by Christmas.  I wasn't able to start construction on these until the beginning of November, but had been planning for them much earlier than that.
She was wanting two quilts, one for herself and one for her mother, that had cardinals as their focal points.  Cardinals are a very symbolic bird for their family.  I searched high and low for a paper pieced cardinal pattern until I landed on this one.  The blocks that I found though were much smaller than I was envisioning.  I enlarged the pattern pieces as large as the printer at work would allow me to do, which about doubled the size.  Since I don't make the same quilt twice, I proposed making mirrored quilts, so they would be different, yet the same.  She was down.  For the cardinals, I then needed to make a reverse image of the pattern!  My dad has an old light table for tracing that we use mainly for display at the shop.  I cleared everything off of it, and had a tracing party!  Then, I had to reteach myself how to paper piece!  It's SUCH an interesting process that always creates precise fabric works.  
After that, it was just a matter of framing everything out.  I had to make sure I had enough of each of the fabrics that I used for both quilts, and I had to make sure everything was perfectly mirrored.  For me, this was a challenge!  But a challenge that I welcomed.  Towards the end of piecing, I wanted to add in four lines connecting the two quilts.  Within the many representations of the quilts, one was the connectedness between my friend and her mother.  Forever together, even when apart.
When it came to quilting, I knew I needed to keep it simple.  I also knew that I wanted to keep it mirrored as well.  This probably took the longest amount of time.  I would do one section on one quilt, and would then do the same section on the other quilt, so they were always progressing together and so I would make sure to do each section the same!  Since things were slow at work and I was done with school, I took my machine to the shop with me a few days to make major progress.
When I work on quilt commissions, I can't help but pet them as they evolve into finished products.  Maybe that sounds weird, but it's true.  Even I am amazed by the transformations they undergo.  From a pile of fabrics, to a small idea, to imagery spoken through textiles, to layers of warmth, to an artful hug filled with energy and love.  A lot goes into the creation of a quilt, more than most people realize.
Another incredibly special aspect to these particular quilts is their bindings.  My friend sent me a baby blanket that her mother had made for her before she was born, and my friend wanted it included somehow.  I took several evenings carefully deconstructing the baby quilt so I didn't damage anything.  We didn't feel like the light yellow belonged within the design of the quilt, but it felt perfect to bind them in the baby blanket.  I love, love, love the way that turned out.
Finally, I backed the quilts with a super soft vintage sheet, as I do.  She didn't want the quilts to always feel Christmas-y, so with the yellow binding, a yellow backing felt perfect.  Plus, I had two of these sheets, so I knew that I would have enough to back both of them!
And with that, there were two mirrored cardinals, forever connected.  My friend sent me a video of her mother opening her quilt, which made my heart feel all sorts of feels.  I've never seen a reveal of one of my own quilt creation commissions before!  She loved it.  Sigh.
 I hope your holidays are peaceful and beautiful this year.  Until later.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Since We Last Spoke...

It's been about four months since I last wrote here.  It's been so long, it's hard to know where to start!  Needless to say, it's been a busy fall.  A quick summation of the past quarter (and then some) will now follow, with photos as I can find them.  Ha!

Teaching

This summer I taught three art camps at Philbrook, which I thoroughly documented right here.  During that same time, I taught a night class which was a high level ESL TOEFL prep class (aka, nonstop grammar dissection!  Yay!).  I found myself with a few weeks off before diving into a very heavy fall semester.  I taught four classes, which I hadn't done for many years.  It was wonderful and exhausting all at the same time.  This year, my confidence with teaching has grown exponentially.  That's not to say that I don't have off days or find some situations challenging (I learn something new in every single class I teach!), but I trust myself more and know that I am very competent in my field.  It feels good to feel and say that out loud.
I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend my first international professional conference, TESOL in Chicago.  It was SO rejuvenating, insightful, and affirming.  Sharing a space with thousands of people in the same discipline was monumental in my professional world.

Family

First and foremost, my little sister got married in August!  !!!!!!!!!!!  While she and her husband live in the LA area, they decided to get hitched in Tulsa, which made the whole thing extra special.  It was a gorgeous joining of two lives, and it was a joyous celebration.  Rio was the ethereal flower girl, I was the bawling matron of honor, and Brent was a handsome groomsman.  It was one of the highlights of the year.  I also did a lot of sewing for their wedding - ties and pocket squares for the menfolk, clergy stole made from a print of a painting by my mom, and the ring bearer's pillow.
One of my cousins also got married this summer!  She also lives in the LA area but got hitched in Oklahoma, so my mom and I made a road trip to be there for their union.  It was perfect!  I'm so proud of my cousin, and excited for her future.  Her husband is a lucky man.
Speaking of weddings, in March, Brent and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary!  Talk about in the blink of an eye!
Rio recently turned six, just a few days after I turned thirty-nine.  Let's focus on her aging for now.  ;)  She's such a big kid now!  She's in kindergarten now reading and doing math (quite honestly better than I can!), cracking jokes, helping out around the house, and being the most affectionate kid I know.  I'm not a hugger, but I'll certainly take her hugs.  Hard to believe how time truly has flown.  So cliche, so true.
Today we are celebrating one year with our puppy Vinny.  I know he's been mentioned before, but perhaps he needs more airtime here.  He's QUITE the character.  He was a dumped pup that some friends found.  I was still dealing with the passing of my dear Vera, and felt like we needed a new animal around.  Enter Vincente Paz.  He's come SO far, and is really a sweet, sweet guy, but he is a ball of energy!  He definitely keeps us on our toes!
Mondo isn't his biggest fan, but we're Mondo's biggest fans.  He's almost twelve, and is really starting to show his age.  He's still perfect and we're still enamored with him.
ZB, Rio's crazy cat, will be four soon.  He and Rio are true BFFs, even though he continuously chews up everything.  Yesterday he opened up two Christmas presents I had just wrapped.  Thanks, ZB.  Even he and Vinny are pretty close.  They antagonize each other all day long, and sometimes they end up bathing each other by the end of day.

Creating

This year, I decided to make a rudimentary sewing To Do list and a Done list.  I'm excited to analyze it at the end of the year!  Since July, I've made four commissioned quilts that I can't wait to share.  Commissions were a huge part of this past year, and I hope to make them even more so for 2019.  I sewed again for Philbrook for the holidays, just not 500 trees.  Ha!  I am VERY excited to share my next upcoming collaboration with them for next year.  It's still a secret for now!

(That's a quilted TV cover below!)
Rio was a turkey vulture for Halloween.  Add that under the list of things I never thought I'd sew!  I was an Oxford Comma.  That's a costume that's sure to confuse everyone you encounter!
A few weeks ago, I produced the 9th Annual Alliday.  It's always a good time, and I'm always glad to have done it.  I'm also always happy when it's done.  :)

Random Stuff

In July, I celebrated my 20th High School Reunion!  That's a hard one to swallow!  I really still feel like I'm about 17 years old, and I'm still incredibly close with so many of my high school friends.  It was quite the weekend, and one that took me a few days to recover from.  Made that twenty year mark a little easier to belief afterwards.  ;)

I'm still actively exercising and eating a vegetarian diet.  So thankful for both of those changes.  I ran the 5K in the Tulsa Run in October just a few weeks after recovering from walking pneumonia.  Not quite as fast as I had hoped, but I did it!  I have hit so many yoga goals this year, too!  Just this week I did a forearm stand for the first time.  What that wha!?  Yoga has helped me feel SO strong in SO many ways this year.
Oh, and I cut all of my hair off.  Again

In closing, I feel like I've missed sharing so many things.  I guess that's what happens when you step away from a space for so long.  But I'm back.  I've figured out how to log back in again (seriously, that was an issue), and I'm wanting to share bits of my world in long form again.  Whenever I find time to go down the rabbit hole of my own blog posts from years past, I'm so grateful that I took time to write those posts, as useless or strange as they may be.

Until later.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

NWA - Yay!

Earlier this year, the Northwest Arkansas Modern Quilt Guild reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in speaking to their guild and possibly teaching a workshop.  Um, YES!  It's been one of my goals to do more public speaking, so this was the perfect opportunity to work on that goal.  We nailed down a date that would work for me, and July was it!  

I was thrilled!  I decided that I would take Rio with me for a little road trip, like we had done the previous year when I spoke at the OKC MQG.  If I could keep doing at least one of these speaking road trips a year, I'd be a very happy camper!  
That area of Arkansas is only about two hours away, making it a really nice drive. We headed up on Tuesday morning and landed in our hotel around lunchtime. Grabbed a bite to eat, and then went directly to the hotel pool. I'm all about hotels with pools! And so is Rio! After that, we took advantage of a quiet hotel, and grabbed some R&R. After a quick nap and a surprise thunderstorm, we journeyed just a bit up the highway to meet some of the guild members for dinner. SUCH a lovely bunch! And Rio had a friend there just about her age! The dinner with everyone helped any nerves that I had floating around.
We had previously discussed possible topics to speak on, and they decided that they wanted to hear about my journey to how I made 500 tree quilts for Philbrook.  I was excited to look back to that experience, and to share my reflections on mass production of art, how to take on gigantic projects without getting overwhelmed, random tips, and whatever else bizarre thing popped into my head!  Ha!  

It had been many months since I thought much about the tree project, and it was pretty surreal looking back on it all!  It was also the first time that I had spoken about it in a public setting, aside from this here blog.  I felt like the presentation went really well!  Rio got a little stir crazy towards the end, but she's 5, so I get it.  ;)  I believe I spoke right at an hour, and probably could have kept on speaking for another hour!  They had such wonderful questions and feedback, which has already helped me in thinking about what I would add in the future.  It's always so enjoyable to join other guilds.  I like seeing how they operate similarly and differently, what type of works they are creating, and such.  

Speaking is energizing in such a positive, fulfilling way for me.  I also love that by actively taking speaking jobs, I am actively using skills that I teach my students, I am becoming a better speaking teacher through experience, and I am showing them that there is always room for growth!

For the following day, we decided to have an improv tote bag workshop.  We had eight wonderful participants in the class who all brought their own personal styles to their work!  It was a lovely day!  We held the class at the Rogers Experimental House, which was such a cool venue in downtown Rogers!  Rio and I did a short walk about before class started and were smitten by the charm of the area.  I brought along my bin of scraps for everyone to use, and we got to work!  We had several hours to make our totes from start to finish.  No matter what I'm teaching or who I'm teaching, I ALWAYS learn something!  This time, it was tiny rules about boxing corners!  I could have used that new knowledge just a week before the workshop!  Ha!  (Big thanks to their guild and to REH for so many of the photos below!)
 And some of the finished products!  I love them all SO much!!
The past three months have been an absolute blur.  SO much has happened.  So.  Much.  This trip spent in NWA was a cherished highlight.  I hope to return again soon!
And I'm sure Rio would enjoy a trip back too.
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