Friday, March 29, 2013

More street art (love)

I love street art. Not just graffiti. I love that poets and artists around my city and the world feel the need to provoke thought, promote love and express beauty in the midst of the urban landscape.
These pics are just ones that I was able to snap pics of while trolling around Los Angeles and Hollywood within the last month or so. When I find them, they feel like little unearthed treasures, secrets of my city. Especially when I stumble on a poster by Morley (do yourself a favor and search #morley for his pics on Instagram. He's guaranteed to make you smile and think and remember)
I love that these artists have decided to simply put their art out there. Where it may be walked by and ignored, but it also may make someone's day.
I don't really have the nerve to become a street artist... Can you imagine me tucking my kids into bed and heading out with stencils and aerosol cans to dodge police so I can get my art seen??? (The thought is quite thrilling and inspiring, but I don't see it happening, if we are honest... Anyone want to volunteer their wall for some big swirls?)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Knitted hats

Did I ever show you the hats that I finished in my knitting frenzy this winter? The little blue one is on Z's head and the white and brown ones are from a pattern I found on - It was a free download called Regina.
It was the hardest pattern I have worked on yet but I really enjoyed it and I love the hat.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gifts from creative friends

Part of the fun of having such creative friends is the gifts they give.

I often think that people who are attracted to sewing and quilting are the giftgiving type - at least the ones I run with are... Something about the mountains of scraps left over after each project makes you just want to find a use for things and a person to appreciate using them.

I don't know what it is about somebody giving me a gift that makes me feel so special but each one of these things here was given to me by one of my quilty friends on a day that I completely did not expect a present. (If you've read "The Five Love Languages" I'll give you one guess as to what my main one is)...

The Echino wallet is something my generous friend Megan gave me that I have been using for many months but I kept forgetting to show on my blog. She was testing out a pattern and I was the happy recipient of her test. I love it every time I see it.

The red patchwork tote bag and the blue polka-dotted bags were gifts for my friends Hollie and Ramona for my birthday... I love both of them. (The girls and the bags)!

And the little Frida project kit came from a sweet guild friend named Dana who asked for my mailing address and randomly sent this to me out of the blue. What a good mail day!

I could post a zillion other little pics... Things my gal pals have made me (I'll look and see which things I've missed recently), but it's the thought that counts and I just love to know someone thought of me... Don't we all?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It was a red kind of day. (Birthday recap)

A little bit before my birthday last year I went to school one day and saw my son's teacher dressed really fancy for the day. She looked adorable so I asked her what the occasion was and she told me that a close friend of hers had said all she wanted for her birthday was for her friends to dress up. I immediately loved that idea and asked for the same thing last year for my birthday. It was so much fun! I had maybe 30 or 40 friends send me pictures of themselves with high heels at play dates or walking down the street, many just were in the mirror at home. It didn't matter to me what they were wearing as much as I loved that they had thought of me even the tiniest bit. I mean isn't that really what we all want to know, that our friends care about us enough to make a little bit of an effort?

So I decided to ask for the same thing this year only to make it with a little bit more of "Libby" style, I asked people to either wear red or take a photo something red or polkadotted. The result was a influx of emails and texts all day long that made me smile from ear to ear.
The rest of my day was pretty boring, honestly... My husband was out of the country on a business trip, my kids had school and dance lessons, and I had a ton of chores to do at home... Though I did pop out for a quick lunch with an old friend to get my favorite mint lemonade at Bergamot Station. The reality of my birthday is that it really was online. And that was great. I knew I was loved. I was reminded all day long. Who could ask for more?

And in the end, look at these pics! Each one represents a person who was willing to take a minute to show me that my birthday mattered to them.
(The more I think about this, I think we all deserve birthdays like this. Let me know if you need me to wear green or orange or stars or circles someday to make you feel special. I'm in)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Morning doodles

One of my favorite things to do with Z is when we get up early in the mornings and spend some time next to each other drawing in our journals. It started off as a way for me to keep him quiet and not wake up everyone and it's turned into something that is a real time of reflection and connection for both of us. We don't do it every day but when we do it some of my most precious time.
Lately I have been collecting books and sources on lettering because I noticed that so much of my doodling involves things that I'm thinking about. I'm looking at fonts and thinking of different ways that I can express the things that are on my mind. For years I kept a journal that was page after page of my hand writing and my words, But these days I have a desire to say less and draw more so my journal looks a lot more swirly than it used to. Sometimes I write song lyrics down sometimes I'm not writing anything profound and sometimes I have a big question or statement that I want to get answered and so I write it down. If you've ever doodled as a form of meditation you will understand how I can find this calming. I've drawn pages around Bible verses, Mumford songs or pictures of sewing machines and tea in mugs.
This new batch, though, has had a real focus on words and trying to encapsulate the things inside my head. I find it healing. It's a fast, expressive and casual way to explore a thought.
I actually approach it in a similar way to the way I start a collage, by drawing a line on a blank page. I come up with a concept, sentence or a half line of prose-like words that express an idea I want to put into this page or canvas... (Only these are more literal than the collages, and you can actually -usually- see exactly what that phrase was while the collages usually end up with the concept hidden and only hinted at)

I'm excited to see where this path continues to take me. What could be more simple as art supplies than pen and paper and what could open up more potential than a blank page?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Collage luncheon

Last January I posted about a collage luncheon that I hosted with my friend, Sarah. She and I had offered it as an auction item at a fundraiser gala we support every year. Since we were both collage artists, it seemed fun to put it out there to make a day of it... People could buy tickets, have a fancy luncheon, get a short intro to collage and have studio time. It was such a hit that we decided to do it again in 2013.
This year, I hosted it at my new house. 8 people attended, we had an amazing presentation given by a third (actually really successful gallery artist who is also a mutual friend of ours) ... And we let the attendees go to town... They did a great job! You can see their work all assembled on my dining room table below.
I used the opportunity to make three small pieces for my Pay It Forward promise to send handmade surprises to friends....
The luncheon was a blast. The company was great and the art - well, art is great... Isn't it, always?
I'm all fired up now to make some new collages... ...and I just signed on to host another collage workshop as a fundraiser for our school (Saturday, July 27, no experience necessary, wanna come? Let me know...)

Madrona Road challenge

Sometimes the Modern Quilt Guild issues challenges to its guild members. We are sponsored by a particular fabric distributor - and a specific line of fabrics is given to us and issued as a challenge to work with.
I've participated in the RK solids challenge and the Jay McCarroll "Habitat" - challenge. I've grown each time I have participated, so I try to make each challenge a chance for me to grow...
Given Violet Craft's "Madrona Road" fabric recently, I used it as an opportunity to try a bunch of new skills...
1- working smaller than I normally do - I made table runners (three)
2- working on all three styles of quilting - free-motion, straight line and hand quilting
3- trying a new technique that my buddy Alissa and I made up that we call "fake binding" - it works. I'll show you how in a different post, soon. It's too easy to be called a tutorial, but it is fantastic.
All in all, I used this challenge to work on my skills... Which made it very valuable a lesson indeed.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Charity Quilts

I just dropped off these two quilts at the school office for our little charter school to sell in their upcoming charity auction. The big orange and gray one was the speed pieced quilt top that the LAMQG retreat goers whipped up in a little over an hour. We made it last November and it's nice to see it finished and headed off to its new home soon. The blue and white one is just a baby quilt, made from 100% items that were donated or given to me. The colored fabrics (other than the blue and dots, and a couple mixed in scraps) are from a mini-charm pack that I was given at Quiltcon as a giveaway. I don't know what it is about precut fabrics, but I find them utterly compelling when they make it into my possession. They bother me. They sit there - as if to say, "so what if you don't like me! I'll be a waste, unless YOU do something"
And thus, the blue quilt was born. I saw something similar in concept in a catalog or magazine I was given at quiltcon. (I cannot take credit for the inspiration) and the white was an old tablecloth, passed on to me by a friend.
Charity quilts never bring in what they are worth, but it will be interesting to see what perceived value might be.
Either way, the scraps got used, the school earns money, and I got to practice my quilting skills. :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Textile printing with Lotta Jansdotter - another quiltcon post

I took four classes at QuiltCon (which was a lot!) 2 were technique classes - binding and paper-piecing... And two were just because I wanted to be in the same room with the instructors...
I was so thrilled to be a part of Lotta Jansdotter's "printing on textile" class. It was really enjoyable.
I was a corporate textile designer for 6 years at a huge manufacturer years ago, and before that, I studied textile design for a summer in Florence, Italy. I also took a printmaking class while in my certificate program at the Art Institute of Chicago (which i never finished!) So this is not a new process for me. But it was so much fun to go in all rusty and leave so inspired.
We did both stamping (carving our own stamps, something long term readers will remember that I love to do) - and stenciling. I liked both of them, but the stamping really excited me the most. Partially because I love carving my own stamps so much.
I also have never actually patterned fabric with the intention of using it to sew with. And when she had us making stamped and stenciled designs over pieces of her patterned fabric, suddenly I began to percolate with ideas.
Naturally, I used my go-to doodle swirls for my theme. And also some fun dots. I was sitting next to my friend, Liz, who - used a familiar shape, triangles, for her designs. We giggled at our differences and I even instagrammed the pic of our works in progress asking friends whose work was whose... (It was obvious if you know us).
Lotta was simply adorable. She has this way of simplifying design. Maybe "distilling" is a better word. Everything feels edited and yet cheerful. She is just like that herself as a teacher - refined, yet sparkly with good energy. While we were in class, the folks from Martha Stewart Media were there taking photos of her teaching the class (specifically, while she was leaning over my work, so we'll need to keep our eyes peeled for a Libby photo-bomb in the background of whatever article they are writing on her...)
I'm super glad I took this class. Sometimes we build up things in our heads (especially artistically, I find) that say, "oh it's too hard, even if I did it in the past..." It felt so good to be ridding myself of the stigma that I'm no longer a textile designer. (I still am! I still am!) and I cannot wait to make some more fabric patterns of my own and use them in my work.
Thanks, Lotta!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I made a quilt top at Quiltcon!

my messy workspace - I find it almost impossible to work in a tidy manner
I had to make a post heading say that because I just don't know how many people actually completed a quilt top while they were at a conference.
To be honest it wasn't even my intention. When I took AnnaMaria Horner's class she had asked us to bring fabrics that inspired us if we didn't have any current works in progress. I had won this beautiful stack of Lotta Jansdotter fabrics from my guild meeting in October. There are actually a lot of them with solids to match. Not being someone who usually works from one product line, you can see that this could get really intimidating for me to try and find a good use for them. I find them absolutely wonderful but the entire line all at once was really overwhelming for me to look at.
So while most people who were in AnnaMaria's class ended up using specific fabrics that she had designed, I brought fabrics from another designer. I was stuck looking at them until I realized I should just go with what I know and I began some improv curved piecing. It really took off when I decided to add in a couple scraps that were not from Lotta's line - including a vintage linen piece I have treasured for years and some fantastic orange and yellow scraps that AnnaMaria had brought to share.
For a few months, I've had this concept I wanted to pursue in a quilt - of parallel lines that are similar in character, but never quite timed right. Like a relationship that should work but always misses being in sync. The poet side of me wrote next to my drawing in my sketchbook, "always parallel, never connecting" when I first thought of it.
I'm not sure that this quilt actually brings that thought to fruition but it was a great starting point. The class that I was in was called "composing a quilt" and the idea was to move from a sketch to fabric -like a painting or collage. I actually spent some time speaking with AnnaMaria about how I struggle following through with my sketches because I so often improv in a new direction. I love the freedom of improvisation but at the same time sometimes it frustrates me to not be able to see my sketches actually come to life. My strengths most definitely lie in improvisational quilting.
So once I got started making a block, I began the column. From there I added more columns and suddenly by the end of the day I actually had a top. Though I love the balance of the three columns, the quilt is not a size that is very usable right now so I have to determine if I will treat this like art or like a bed quilt which I am usually more prone to do. (I like big quilts).
The added bonus was when I got to meet Lotta the next day and actually take a picture with her and my quilt made of her fabrics. I have admired Lotta for over 10 years back from when I was a textile designer and she began showing her beautiful work. So this was really special to get to meet her, take a class from her, and show her the quilt I made with her fabric. Plus, she's so adorable. You just wish she could be bottled up.

I find it really funny that I actually meet celebrities in Hollywood pretty regularly and I never ask for pictures or act like an idiot fan girl with them. But here I was at Quiltcon doing just that with fabric designers that I have been a fan of for so long. (Jay gets the biggest kick out of that)
Oh yeah and I also included pictures of the amazing machines that they had for us to work on while we were there. A number of my friends bought them and have them shipped home for free to California to use with their own sewing. Super fun!!!



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