Monday, June 25, 2018

Quilting Immersion

Summertime is always a great time to expand our quilting skills.  Life is a little slower and there are some opportunities to immerse yourself with other quilters to learn new techniques from world renown teachers.  It can be anything from fabric dyeing to modern piecing to making art quilts.  I was reminded of this when Sarah Bond visited our quilt guild the other month.  On her "Growth List" was to spend time immersed with a single instructor.  And isn't it a dream to be able to leave the cooking, cleaning and family behind.

Recently, I started thinking about the retreats that I have attended and started making a list of these 5 day retreats in the US.  I have participated in a couple of them over the years.  I want to share them because maybe you'll have the means and the time to tale advantage to grow your quilting skills.  Accommodations range from college campuses to retreat centers to visiting the artists studio and staying in a hotel.  There's a lot to choose from and the roster of artist/instructors is constantly changing.

It may be too late for this year, but it's good to start planning and saving for next year. Take a look at the websites to see the selection of workshops.

Quilt Surface Design Symposiumwww,
4 sessions of workshops are held at the Columbus College of Art and Design in downtown Columbus, Ohio and accommodations are in their dorms.

2 sessions of workshops take place at the Onandaga Community College in Syracuse, NYLodging and meals are on the college campus.

Hudson River Valley Art Workshops
There any many sessions throughout the year at this all in one workshop environment held at historic  Greenville Arms in the Hudson River Valley/ Catskill Mountain region of New York.

Fabric Dyeing and surface design workshops are held thought the year in their Fall River location.  You are responsible for your own lodging and meals.

Empty Spools Seminar:
Located on the picturesque Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.  Fee includes classes, lodging and meals.  Sewing machine rentals are available.

Crow Timber Frame Barn Art Retreats
Study with Nancy Crow or a limited selection of other artists in Central Ohio in Nancy's timber frame barn  retrofitted to accommodate quilters and or fabric/dyers.  Lunch and dinner are cooked and provided by a professional chef.

Located in the Napa Valley of California, Craft Napa offers several week-long retreats thoughout the year focusing on sewing, quilting and mixed media, organized by Pokey Bolton, past owner of Quilting Arts magazine.

Quilt Gallery:
Located in Kalispell, MT,not far from Glacier National Park, the Quilt Gallery offers  a variety of week long quilt retreats with internationally recognized instructors.  And if you've read this far, I am excited to share that I will be teaching Mini Mosaics there July 31-Aug4, 2019!!!! After learning the technique, you'll be able to design and  start to create your own with my help!!!

If I've missed any (and I'm sure I have), let me know and I'll add it to this list.

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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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