Friday, June 15, 2018

My Summer Project

Last summer I had two commission requests.  They were both for High Holiday Torah Covers.  The requests were based on Torah covers I had made previously for a local synagogue.  

 I was so busy and consumed with my Mini Mosaic quilts and products that I was hesitant to accept these commission.  But one commission came from my favorite Rabbi's synagogue in Maryland.  He travelled all the way from MD to our place in the Poconos to marry my son.  How could I say no?  I couldn't. 
 The other request was from a synagogue in Germany.  They had found my Judaic work via the Internet.  We e-mailed back and forth a few times.  Frankly, I was hesitant because of my other commitments.  The woman who made the request was in the US visiting her daughter.  I tried to put her off.  I thought my fee would discourage her, but she was still interested, so I suggested we talk about what she envisioned. That phone conversation and this woman touched my heart and made me cry.  I could not control my emotions when  she recounted her journey about how she came to be involved with this synagogue that was built on the ashes of a synagogue that was burned to the ground by the Nazis.  About how she taught Russian Jews who left the Soviet Union in the late 1980's and early 1990's thanks to liberated emigration policies learn about being Jewish because they were forbidden to learn about their religion in Russia. How could I say no?
So, my summer project has begun. I will set aside my other projects, until I complete these Torah Covers, 5 of them. Every Torah that is used during the High Holidays need a special, plain(ish) cover.  The High Holidays start the evening of  September 9 th this year. 
I am starting with the covers for Germany since I need to ship them with plenty of time. 

And so I begin. I will share my process as I go.

The Torah covers are made from  white, off-white and cream colored luxurious silk dupioni.  I am a quilter, so I make them as if they were quilts. They need to last for many years.  Most Torah Covers are not made this way.  Lots of them are made from velvet or satin.

Step #1 for me is to quilt the top section with pomegranates - a very meaningful symbol.
I designed the quilting on a piece of paper that is the same size as the top section of the cover.
I placed a piece of clear Solvy over the drawing and traced it with a yellow soluble marker. Then I pin the Solvy to the silk.  Why did I use yellow? The Solvy is removed after quilting by tearing it off.  If there are any remnants left, it will disappear into the gold thread that I use for quilting.

After layering the silk with very low loft batting, muslin and the Solvy pattern, I free motion quilt with variegated rayon thread through all the layers.
I could never color within the lines:

 but the yellow lines were really a suggestion, so I didn't have to follow them exactly.  I could never quilt a balanced pomegranate design without it.
The next step is to remove the Solvy.  Frankly, it is my second least favorite step.  (You'll have to keep reading my blog for the summer to see what is my least favorite step in the construction!) I rip it off, trying to get off as much as possible.  This is what my discard pile looks like:

 It's nice to have a buddy cuddled up next to me while I'm doing this.  Now, I will use my very pointy tweezers to remove the last little bits and bobs that are still located in the tight quilting designs.

This is when I think that there should be a better way, but I can't think of it!
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Friday, May 25, 2018

What the Heck is GDPR?

What the heck is GDPR and how does it affect me?

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation.  It is a new law that adds to the European Union's privacy laws.  Compliance goes into effect on 5/25/2018. You will see and probably have seen a lot of pop-ups as you visit different websites informing you that they will be collecting info from you.  Altho it is an EU law, many US based websites, blogs, etc have European visitors and so it affects us all.  The fines for non-compliance are hefty.

There is a lot of debate as to what we small time bloggers and businesses need to do.I am trying to comply the best that I know how.  I will send an email to my newsletter readers reminding them they can  unsubscribe.  My blog and Bloglovin' are Google products. Google has published this:

You can count on the fact that Google is committed to GDPR compliance across products, including Blogger. We are always working to stay compliant, which helps make compliance easier for your blog. We are also committed to providing robust privacy and security protections built into our services. We know security and privacy are important to you, and they are important to us, too. For Google, it’s a priority that your private information is safe. 

I will also have a privacy statement in my Etsy Shop.

Please know that I have never collected or kept any data from you.  If you have purchased anything from me via a credit card, I do not keep that information.  My website/blog does not collect information.  My privacy is as important to me as it is to you.

And to satisfy the right side of your brain:
"Primitive Seasons"

I'll be vending at The Quilter's Unlimited show in Chantilly, VA the weekend after Memorial Day (6/1-6/3).  Booth #100.  It's a great show with a ton of quilts.  Hope to see you there.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

A Day with Victoria Findlay Wolfe

In my last post I promised I would share lots of photos from my day with Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  I am on her e-mail list and when I saw she was offering workshops in her loft in NYC, I started to drool.  What a fun day that would be - to learn from her and to see a NYC loft.  I told a bunch of my friends and they thought it would be fun too!

As soon as she posted the workshops and the dates, we signed up.  There were only 8 spots.  Our workshop was from her new book, Modern Quilt Magic.  The day that worked for us, she was offering "Cascade". 

WE walked off the elevator and into this huge room.  About half of it had tables and sewing machines.  Each of our work stations included a Juki sewing machine, mat, our own table and a design wall and a box full of notions including a rotary cutter, seam ripper, pencil, etc.  The only thing we needed to bring was fabric and our lunch.

These are 2 of my good friends Helen and Denise.
(Did I tell you that Victoria's husband is a gallerist and there was art everywhere?)

 After a lengthy talk about the magic behind her quilts and her design process, she shared a few quilts that she just had "hanging around".

Believe it or not, this is a T-shirt quilt that Victoria made using her star pattern from Harley Davidson t's.
Her dogs.
Cindy, Kathy and Terry working on their quilts.

And a great group photo at the end of the day.  (Victoria has the longest arms, perfect for selfies.)

When the workshop was over, we headed to Victoria's shop in the  building next door.
I couldn't get a great picture, because we were all busy shopping!
Then she was gracious enough to show us her studio.  It was in the same building on a different floor.  There were lots of design walls with all different projects.  Since there was a soon to be released project, NO PHOTOS.

What a great way to spend the day.  We took the Bolt Bus up and back from Philly.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and for me it was an opportunity to do some sewing since I haven't touched my machine in weeks.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Bit Of Quilty Gossip

Let's face it.  Most of us enjoy a bit of gossip from time to time.  I'm not talking about malicious gossip.  I'm not a fan of that.  The quilt industry is going through a lot of changes now, so lots of interesting things are happening.  Some seem good and some seem not so good. These past 2 weeks have been full of goings on.

Keepsake Quilting - Have you been?  It used to be a destination for summer travel up in NH.  I haven't heard much about it lately, other than receiving their catalogs.  I think Missouri Star has become the quilting destination.  I guess Keepsake has been in need of a facelift and one of my favorite fabric vendors is going to be doing it.  Pineapple Fabrics has bought Keepsake!

I first saw the gang from Pineapple Fabrics when I was vending at the AQS show in Syracuse a few years ago.  It was a bunch of young guys with a decorated food type truck decked out with fabric.  I heard it was a redecorated stripper truck from Vegas.  I'm not really sure if that's true or not, but you can't miss it.

The people who own Pineapple Fabrics have a very interesting history that I didn' know about until I read the article about the takeover.  They have been in the fabric business for generations and have been in the pre-cut business and do it for lots of the big name fabric companies.  They plan on bringing Keepsake back to its former glory and then some.  You can read  more about it HERE and visit Pineapple Fabrics website HERE.

Exposure is a word that I have come to detest. We deserve to be paid for our work, just as everyone else.  It has value.  Exposure does not pay the bills or feed your family.   DMC, the premier embroidery floss company has not been receiving much popular press lately.  They have been running a design contest.  Their goal is to offer 1,000 free stitching designs on their website.  What's the problem? They are offering no compensation to the designers.  Not only is there to be no payment, DMC retains all the rights to the designs. The designs were to be posted to DMC's contest Instagram account (DMCxstitchcontest). So what are designers to do?  They revolted and posted rebellious embroidery designs.  Some of them I can't repeat  here, but one of my favorites that I can share is:"If I wanted exposure, I'd become a Nudist! Pay Artists".  There was such an uproar that DMC is now offering a pittance of compensation - one $500 prize.

If you're a Bonnie Hunter fan, you have probably hear this.  She is expanding her Quiltville empire to include a retreat center.
Bonnie has to be one of the most generous authors/designers and she deserves all good things.  She has an inordinate amount of energy and travels non-stop.  This will be a wonderful place for her to "hang her hat" when she's ready to slow down on travel.  I can't wait to watch it take place.  You can read about it HERE.  Definitely sign up for her email list if you want to follow along.

And finally, there are big changes at Cotton & Steel.  There was so much excitement at RJR Fabrics in 2013 when they formed a division with  a group of  5 designers to capture the modern quilt fabric market. Not only was the fabric innovative, but their means of marketing was too.  Sadly,  it was just announced that the original designers are moving on. There will be new designers and new concepts. Let's hope for the best.  They really had some wonderful fabric.

Now that I've been a gossip columnist for the day, it's time to get back to work! Just kidding.  I have lots of fabric to iron and cut, because.....tomorrow I am taking a busman's holiday.  I'm heading back to NYC with some friends to take a workshop with Victoria Findlay Wolfe in her loft!!!! I hope to take lots of photos to share.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Paint By Number

My Mom would do paint by number paintings when I was a kid.  It was her creative outlet and it wasn't messy. I remember Gainsborough's Blue Boy hanging in the dining room for many years.

A few years ago there was a piece on 60 Minutes about how these vintage paint by number paintings have become collector's items.  You can read about it HERE.

Recently, I came across an article about the museum where the original Blue Boy is hanging.  It really brought back that memory - something I haven't thought about in years.  It's the Huntington Museum in California.  They are currently in the process of refurbishing and doing  it in full view of the public.  What a great road trip that would be.  You can read about it HERE.

Do you remember doing paint by numbers or a relative that did? I wonder what happened to my Mom's.
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Friday, May 4, 2018

The Life of an Itinerant Quilt Designer

I cannot believe that it has been over a month since I wrote a blog post.  What the heck have I been doing???  The Lynch household has been turned into an order fulfillment center.  Mini Mosaic quilts have taken off and have become in great demand.  It started with my episode on The Quilt Show and it just snowballed from there.  They sold out in 2 days, and then people went to their local quilt shop who then went to their distributors OR they came to my Etsy shop.  We are finally seeing the light.  I know everyone at the Post Office by name and they know me at FedEx too. There are no more boxes in my foyer, well almost none.
We did head to Kentucky for the AQS Paducah quilt show.  Although I brought Curvalicious, I focused on my Mini Mosaics.  I just can't get enough.

 I was by myself in the booth (while my husband was filling orders st the house where we were staying) and not able to do many demos, so I brought a virtual assistant!The good news about a VA is they don't talk back, they don't need a potty break and they work tirelessly.  My VA was a video I created demoing Curvalicious and the Mini Mosaics.  I brought a TV and ran the video  in my booth on a loop. (Thanks Rich and Dina.)

Because I was tied to my booth, I really didn't get to see any of the quilts or the vendors. I was located in what they call The Pavillion, aka the bubble that kind of looks like an enclosed tennis court. I did get to see the Van Gogh Cherrywood challenge, because it was located in the Pavillion.  There were lots of quilts and it still amazes me the amount of creativity inside quilters's brains .  The challenge for next year is based on the singer Prince.  I think you can guess the fabric color.

I made sure that I had some extra time after setting up my booth to visit Hancock's of Paducah. This is the largest quilt shop that I have ever visited.  Since I was there the day before the quilt show started, it was not super crowded. Based on experience, I know that you need to go there with a plan.  My plan was to load up on batiks for my Mini Mosaic kits.  SUCCESS!!!!

There is a story that I have to share.  Last year a group of quilters who met each other all over the world, stopped by my booth.  They decided to do a challenge using Curvalicious.  They showed up at my booth on the first day.  Three of them had finished their challenge. I only had a chance to photo one of them and she surprised me overwhelmingly. Her challenge was gift wrapped and I was warned to be very careful.

She didn't make a fabric Curvalicious quilt, but she made one out of glass!! She was so excited to gift it to me and I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was a votive candle holder.  

She spent hours and hours learning how to work with glass and to make it into a Curvalicious shape.  I have never received anything like this.....ever.  The two other challenges were quilts that were so unique, but no photos!

It did take me 2 days to unpack the car once we got home and five more days to bring everything down to the basement.  Now that we have caught up filling orders, I can return to what I really love to do.  I have a couple of Mini Mosaics waiting to be quilted.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Why I Love Mosaics

I am in love with making fabric mosaics.  As I was working on my newest project, I was thinking about why I like them so much. After 2 years of making mosaic after mosaic, why haven't  I gotten bored with them?
I find them calming and I find them forgiving.  If I miscut a piece, I set it aside and cut a new piece.  I get to use lots and lots of batik fabrics.  I have quite a collection! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the things that need to get done for my business.  In the midst of the stress, I may get an idea for a new Mini Mosaic pattern.  (Oh who am I kidding, I have a ton of ideas floating around in my head!)  I'll take a few days to design a new one and by focusing on that design, everything else in my brain disappears - work problems, family problems, world problems.

These are a few of my newest ones:

Can you tell that these were inspired by my time in Key West? (Which I plan on returning to next Winter.)

The Minis measure 11"x14" finished.  The one on my worktable today will measure 28" square.  It's unusual to use a mini for inspiration for a larger piece, but I loved that Key West Sunrise so much, that I wanted a larger quilt.

I do know why I love making these fabric mosaic quilts. They are puzzles.  They are puzzles made up of 3/8" squares.  Squares that I cut and trim to fit my line drawing pattern.  Where do I start?  What direction do I follow? How do I cut the squares to fit? The challenge in making a Mini Mosaic quilt appeals to me.  It appeals to both the creative and logical side of my brain.

There is something about making quilts that appeals to all of us.  Whether it is logically oriented or a creative outlet, we make them because we love to and often we make them because we have to.  Sometimes the origin of a quilt comes from our heart.  Each stitch is made we love.  We think about who we are making them for.  Can they feel the love?  We hope so, don't we?

If you want to see more of my Mini Mosaic patterns/kits, visit my Etsy shop by clicking HERE

One more thing.  If you live in the Glen Mills, PA area and are free this Saturday (3/24), I am giving a second Mini Mosaic quilts wotkshop with The Brandywine Valley Quilt Guild.  I know there are some spaces left, so email me if you're interested.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

My Hiatus is Coming to a Close

It's time to get into the swing of things.  The natural rhythm of my year leaves me with a 3 - 1/2 month hiatus from lecturing.  During December, most guilds have a holiday themed meeting.  January and February are my months to be in Key West and then the first half of March is for travelling home, unpacking and maybe a couple of  quilt shows.

I am now getting ready for my first lecture of this year at Helping Hands Quilt guild in Dover, DE.  "Turning Travel Into Treasure" is my newest lecture.  I share many fiber pieces that I have created based on my travels over the years.  As I prepare for the presentation, it's like a walk down memory lane, packing each quilt and reminiscing.  Sometimes the memories overcome me. 

In 2011, there was an outdoor art installation in Central Park, in NYC, called The Gates.  I was drooling over photos and wishing that I could walk under those tangerine flags. I grew up in a suburb of the city and have such fond memories of visits from my childhood. One day, my husband said, "let's go!".  Really??  He took a day off from work and we drove the 2 hours North.  It was a glorious, crisp, clear day and I walked and walked and walked under all those flowing pieces of fabric. Then  a volunteer handed me a small piece of the tangerine gate fabric.  I knew I had to use it. 
 I won't share all my stories now.   I could write forever, because many of my quilts are inspired by  my travels.  I'll just share a few photos.

"Filigree Fantasy"  inspired by all the wrought iron balconies and doors in Barcelona.

"Houses of Key West"

"Casa Talavera" inspired by tiles in Mexico

"Concentricity" inspired by sidewalk tiles in St Augustine

Are you inspired by your travels?
Come to one of my lectures if you want to see more eye candy  and hear more of my stories. 
 Click HERE for my schedule.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

From Photo to Pattern

We had two amazingly spring like days here in Pennsylvania this week.  It certainly helped to lift my spirits.  It was the perfect time to head to Longwood Gardens with my DIL.  She loves it there and knows every nook and cranny and lots of interesting information - plus she has guest passes!

Currently the Orchid Extravaganza is taking place.  There are orchids everywhere in the Conservatory.  Some are front and center, like this arbor
and others are tucked away in surprising places:

Longwood is just not a botanical garden, it is also a place for morning walks,   play dates for children,  and contemplative thinking.  You can even transport yourself to Versailles. The picture of all these strollers parked outside of the indoor children's  garden warmed my heart.

So many beautiful orchids are inspiration for so many quilts, more than anyone could make in a lifetime.  I took lots of photos so when I was ready to make a quilt, I had lots to choose from.

At our last quilt guild meeting I shared some computer apps/programs that can be used to manipulate photos. Some of these can be used as the basis for quilt design.
I used my photo of a Cattaleya orchid:

 I started with an app called StitchSketch

I wasn't able to adjust the number of squares or size, so it was hard to define the petals.
I tried another program called Pic2pat - where I could change the resolution
So I searched for one more program where I could adjust the resolution AND the color.  That was Picture Craftwork.  I could adjust the color to define the shape or to create a different hue.

And my final surprise of the day at Longwood, was in the bathroom near the gift shop.

Who needs computer programs?

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