Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Blog is Under Wraps

State of the Craft is currently inactive. I am still quilting, but at a fairly slow pace for the time being, and I am somewhat out of touch with the wider quilting community.

I will likely feel like writing about quilts and quilting again some time in the future. In the meantime, if you feel like following my various adventures -- including, possibly, quilting -- I publish pretty much daily at The Life & Times of Michael5000.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SQ11: Finished

You saw the face of this one last year, but here it is completed. It's made from salvage denim, backed with green cotton material that was probably curtains in its past life, and batted with an old poly blanket. It is nothing if not warm.

The quilting is pretty visible here, and simply followed the -- what's the word I'm looking for? -- the grain of the corduroy. I'll point out, too, that the photograph makes it look yellower than it really is, which makes it look a little dirty, which it isn't. UPDATE: I got a better photograph, so the colors aren't all yellowed out now. The blue and gray is actually pretty sharp in person. If I do say so myself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quilting the Jennifer Challenge

I did virtually no quilting in September and the bulk of October, mostly because I was doing other interesting and worthwhile things instead. Started edging back up to speed this week by quilting the Jennifer Challenge. I decided on the quilting pattern rather spur-of-the-moment, and I'm making all of those curves with a walking foot. Seems to be working....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Jennifer Challenge

In the last post I mentioned the "Jennifer Challenge," which my friend Jennifer seems to think of as the "Michael Challenge," where we both bought six fabrics about a year ago and did the obvious thing. And now both of us have finished the faces, and have finally revealed to each other what we've been working on all this time. I think you will agree with us that they are, as Jen put it, "freakishly similar."

Here's one:

And here's the other, not yet quilted:

Are we peas in a pod, or what?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The 09-10 PreSeason List

Well, it's August, and right on schedule I'm starting to get interested in quilting again. I even did a little piecing last night. That means it's time for the list that I always make this time of year, my priorities for the coming quilt season. It's a long list, but then you probably understand that. There are always so many more quilt ideas than there is time or energy to make actual quilts.


First Priority

Top priorities to finish this year. It would be nice to get ALL of these done.

Devil's Claw -- This is one I've talked about a lot in the last few years. The face is complete, and it's been pinned, so it just needs quilting and binding. "Just."

Jennifer Challenge -- Me and my friend Jennifer both bought a set of fabrics, and she is currently putting the hanging sleeves on the quilt she made with hers. I started cutting and piecing mine last night. I need to catch up, or Jennifer will hurt me.

Mondrian I -- My awesome (if I do say so myself) reproduction of a Mondrian painting in scrap corduroy. The face is finished, so it needs a back, some batting, and some quilting.

Symbol -- Another one I've talked about a lot here. The face background is complete. I need to select a fabric for the symbol and finish the face.

StormQuilts -- I have four of these on the First Priority list, but I won't belabor the details.

Second Priority

Second Priority quilts would be awfully nice to finish this year, but hey, I'm realistic. Hopefully, I'll make some solid progress on these, at least.

Mondrian II -- Already have it picked out!

A Couple of Child Blankets -- For some children of my acquaintance. If I was a good person, these would be First Priority.

Labyrinth II -- Most of the cutting is done for this sequel. I started the assembly, but ran into problems. I need to do some thinking and figure out how to get it going forward again.

Four Seasons -- I thought this was the world's oldest UFO, but I recently learned about an even older one. But it's MY oldest UFO.

StormQuilts -- I have three more of these on the Second Priority List

Third Priority

If I blast through the above and have time left over -- an unlikely prospect at best -- I might take on one of these. Or, I might putter with one from time to time with the idea of having it ready for serious attention next year.

The Legacy Quilt -- One I've talked about, but haven't done much with.

Labyrinth III -- I haven't even designed this one yet. I just like the idea of doing more Labyrinths.

A Project I'm not ready to tell you about.

Another Project I'm not ready to tell you about.

However many additional StormQuilts would get me to the ultimate goal of twenty.

Fourth Priority

Fourth Priority is a holding pen for ideas I hope to work on sometimein the future. For now, I'll just give you the working titles:

The Sarah Horowitz inspired light on light-light design

Requilting my own baby quilt

Oregon Map II

Yet Another Project I'm not ready to tell you about.

And Another One.

A wall hanging using my mom's Silhouette technique.


There you have it! More quilting than I could possibly accomplish! Let's see how far I get!

What are YOUR quilt goals for the coming fall and winter?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SQ7: Finished

It's not technically quilt season, and in fact nobody's doing much of anything right now while a massive cloud of superheated steam rests sullenly atop the City of Roses. But last week I got a sudden burst of quilting mojo and, over the course of three or four nights, did the quilting and binding for StormQuilt #7. And here it is:

Again, like all of the StormQuilts, this one is made completely from scrap and salvage materials. Here's a detail showing the squiggly quilting, which came back to me pretty easily despite not having practiced for the better part of a year.

Then, having finished that, I put all my sewing stuff back away for another month or so. This little burst of activity was kind of like the "exhibition season" before quilt season kicks off in earnest at the beginning of September. Until then, I'll be continuing a gradual deep-clean of my studio space and planning out my quilt priorities for the fall. See ya then!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer Recess

State of the Craft is off on blog vacation for the summer! Publication will likely resume in September with the beginning of the 2009-2010 Quilt Year!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Northwest Quilters 2009 Show

A few of you who have Reader know I wrote this a month ago, but never got around to adding the pictures. Check me out! I'm catching up!

Last year, I wanted to display quilts in as many shows as possible. Really, it seems like I spent half of the spring either attending a quilt show or on my way to drop off or retrieve a quilt. This year, not so much.

In fact, I've been a real quilting hermit. There were a couple of days when I couldn't make it to my guild's meeting because of a schedule conflict, and after that they had programs scheduled that were way too -- for lack of a better word -- girly. I'm just not into, for instance, learning how to make a quilted purse. Call me crazy. After a while, I hadn't had contact with the guild for half a year.

So I was out of the loop enough to forget that the guild's annual show would be in early spring this year, instead of early summer. By the time I caught on, it was way too late to submit work. But, I had just enough wherewithal to get my name in as a volunteer. I was what they used to call a "white glove lady" but which they were this year just calling "white glove." I appreciated the change.

And here's the thing: the show was awesome! In terms of organization and of the quality of work, it was easily among the best three shows I've ever seen. It got great press, and probably three times the number of guests as we had in recent years. So, that made me think that maybe I want to be less of a quilting hermit now, and get back into the community. It kind of inspired me, like. We'll have to see if the inspiration really "takes" or not, but in the meantime I've submitted a few of last year's quilts to be shown at the big summer outdoor show in Sisters.

I took several photos at the show based on gut response -- these are just a few of the ones I liked the best, with no particular reasoning applied.

The "I Would Never Make One Like This, But I Love It Anyway" Category

"Lady Liberty," pieced by Carol Brown, quilted by Carol Parks.

"Carley (Prairie Flower)" by Marjorie Rhime

"Most Amazing Story" Category

...and the story:

"These Quilts Give Me Ideas" Category

"Nine Blue Characters," pieced by Ann Johnston, quilted by Oswego Quilters.

"Batik Woven Star," pieced by Trudi Luther, quilted by Barbara Schulenburg.

"No Payne No Gain," by Maureen Orr Eldred.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bins and Bottlenecks

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to get back to work on a more formal quilt, and leave the StormQuilts be for a little bit. But that didn't work out. It turned out that I had so many StormQuilts laid out but not quilted that I didn't have any safety pins left to get the backing and binding on the quilt I wanted to make progress on, Devil's Claw.

One solution, obviously, would have been to go out and buy some more safety pins, but that seemed like it would just be contributing to my habit of leaving things half-finished. So I took the other approach, and jumped back into quilting on the StormQuilts. And, it's been going pretty well. I've got one that's finished, another that's finished except for the thread-burying, and one that is 3/4 quilted. I'll get some pictures of those to you next time.

Meanwhile, I went on an excursion to address another bottleneck -- battings for the StormQuilts. I made another excursion down to "The Bins," our Goodwill Outlet Store that blurs the line between rummage sale shopping and dumpster diving. For a pittance, I filled the back of my truck with blankets, fleeces, heavy flannel sheets, and mattress pads that seemed too damaged or discolored to find a new home in their first life. Two of the blankets were faded commercial quilts, the kind that are made on the cheap in China and sold in department stores. I like the idea of using a worn-out commercial quilt as the batting in a StormQuilt -- it's a nice twist on the historical practice of using old quilts to bat the new.

The heap of scrap batting, after washing, burying my ironing board and sewing table:

The heap of scrap batting, tamed, pressed, and folded:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Fun With Corduroy

Well, you can't use all your scrap corduroy replicating famous works of art, of course. Here's a quick face I made with other pieces from my Big Birthday Box o'Corduroy.

Like a lot of my quilts it's an "original design" that I doodled out on scratch paper -- but, since it's so simple, I'm sure that tens of thousands of other people have had the same idea before me. Probably it's a traditional quilt pattern with a long-established name. Possibly you are itching to tell me what its name is in the comments, even now.

Kind of a handsome one, I think. It's officially designated StormQuilt #11.

Speaking of How Hard It Is to Do Something Original...

I've been walking around all week feeling I was possibly the cleverest person ever born to have thought of replicating an abstract painting with scrap fabric. Well, of course I'm not the first person to think of that. It turns out, in fact, that frequent commentor Jovaliquilts' daughter did the same thing for her first ever quilt. Also, Jovali Jr. did a better job than me of matching the colors of her original (although, to be fair to myself, I guess I wasn't really worried about color matching).

Here is Jovali Jr.'s quilt....

and Here is the painting she replicated, Ellsworth Kelly's Colors for a Large Wall.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Neoplasticism 2.0

Synchronicity, part 1

So last summer Mrs.5000 found this big box of scrap corduroy for a buck at a garage sale and hefted it home a good mile or something so she could give it to me for my birthday. Mrs.5000 understands me.

Meanwhile, in 1921, Piet Mondrian painted one of his famous grids of rectangles and primary colors. (Neoplasticism, I think the genre is called. The de Stijl movement! i iz likes art history.) This particular one is usually called Composition in Red, Yellow, Blue, and Black.

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

And so eventually the idea of "What shall I do with the corduroy?" rattling around in my head ran up hard against the idea of "you know, of all the painting genres, the de Stijl stuff is the one that would be most susceptable to a treatment in quilt form. From that collision was born a Bee in my Bonnet*, which involved compulsive internet searches for the simpler of Mondrian's work and appraising sorting of my corduroy trove.

Once I found Composition, I transferred its grid onto graph paper, made some very rough color equivalences, and started cutting. And when I say "rough" color equivalences, I mean a not-as-light-as-it-could be grey for white, burgandy for red, golden tan for yellow, and a dark, greenish blue for blue.

Nevertheless, I am very happy with my little "Mondrian Quilt" face. Indeed, I bet its one of the best adaptations of Mondrian in scrap corduroy to have been achieved on the West Coast this year!

Next question: how am I going to quilt this sucker? I guess I'll have to try to be guided by the obvious question: How would Mondrian quilt it?


The is the 100th State of the Craft post. Huzzah!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Arguably, It's Time to Get Organized

I've been a very different kind of quilter this year than I was in 2007-2008. Last year, I was all about putting quilts in shows and being part of the community, and I had this detailed work plan that I actually followed. This year, I haven't even been attending Guild meetings, let alone putting pieces in shows. I haven't been nearly as interested as creating my best work, but rather on just playing around with recycled materials. And although I've still been quilting, it has been sporadic and on random projects, sometimes new ideas that I just plunged halfway into as soon as I had them. All this has been to such an extent, in fact, that I had lost track of how many projects were even in the hopper.

I spent a half hour this afternoon doing a little project census, and the results are sobering. In addition to about 20 "regular" projects in progress, I've got a whopping seven (7) StormQuilts in some stage of assembly. Which is kind of crazy. But now at least I have a list of what I'm working on, and can maybe concentrate my efforts a little bit.

This beast over on the right is the face for SQ10, which I made about a month ago. It was jointly inspired by Quilty's success with using t-shirt fabric and a purge of my overflowing drawer of well-past-prime shirts. I had no interest in preserving the designs on the shirts as such, so just cut all of the useable fabric into 8 1/2" squares. I do like the way that the ghosts of the lettering and logos from the shirts creates a little extra visual interest, though.

As you'd expect from t-shirt fabric, there is some serious limpness going on here. I will need to back it with something relatively stiff, I think, to keep the end product from being a completely shapeless mass.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Still Quilt, Encore

So, the quilting action here at studio5000 continues to be mostly focused on the scrap/recycled "StormQuilts," which is good because my mother unloaded another zillion yards of scrap fabric from her collection earlier tonight. I'm going to have to keep making StormQuilts just to keep liveable space in the house, tucked in among the fabric storage.

Some of you were interested to see what would happen with the complementary squares I cut for SQ6&7. Well, here's SQ7 (I think), which has three borders and is rectangular. It's a little hard to see the edges, but the lighter blue is actually the batting, in this case a beat-up old child's blanket.

And here's SQ6, which I think is fairly handsome for a piece made from salvage materials. It reminds me of VERY old-school quilts -- not 100, but 200 years ago. It is pinned out and ready for quilting, but I have no idea how I'll tackle that.

I HAVE been quilting on SQ5, though. It is all green, and I thought I'd get brave and experiment with free-motion. I feel pretty positive about the results, at least on top; there are some really ugly tangles underneath that I choose not to show you at this juncture.

But how 'bout them leaves? I'll go back at the end and double or triple the main "vine," so it doesn't look so scrawny compared to the leaves.

Meanwhile, inspired by this post from the Libster, I turned a purge of my closet into raw material for QS10 (or thereabouts). Quilty says that working with knits wasn't so hard after all, so nine ratty old t-shirts went under the knife. I'll let you see how that all works out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Still Quilt

So, yeah, I'm still quilting. In general, I've been paying less attention to fancy designed quilts this year, and more on the recycled scrappy quilts. Not that I've entirely abandoned the designed quilts -- there are three of them that I putter with from time to time -- but when I've sat down to quilt I've just generally felt like doing something quick and easy. And there's nothing quicker and easier than pieceing together one of the StormQuilts.

State of the StormQuilts

People often tell me that the StormQuilts -- those are my scrap, salvage, and recycled lap blankets, remember -- are terrific. Then they pause and ask, "but what are you going to DO with them?" An excellent question, and one I didn't really have a great answer for. This little crisis was resolved by Christmas, when I gave the four completed SQs away to siblings and in-laws. To dignify them just a bit, and to explain them, I made this label for them first:

And, it seemed to work, in the sense that no one angrily threw the offered quilt down and shouted that they were insulted. Plus, it made for a very economical Christmas!

Meanwhile, the production of new StormQuilts grinds unstopably forward. Heres' one, SQ9 if memory serves, pinned out.

And here's the simplest yet, yet also possibly my favorite. It's SQ8, I think.

And then here's the slightly more complicated centers for SQ6&7....

...or SQ7&6....

Yesterday, I pieced these centers together and put a couple of borders around SQ6. It's quite handsome, and I'm sure I'll be showing it to you soon.

Of course, this reintroduces the question of "What am I going to DO with these?" Well, we'll find out eventually I guess.