Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exploring taking (and teaching) online courses

My latest class assignment
I have just started an online class with the fabulous Jane LaFazio. It’s called “Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs from Life,” and even though it’s only the first week, I’ve learned a lot and had so much fun! The photos in this post are some of the work I’ve done for the class. 

Here is Jane’s description of the class: “Working in a sketchbook, you’ll draw and paint in watercolor from real life subjects. Then from your own drawings, you'll create original designs that could be used in surface design and mixed media.”

Jane is a mixed media artist who works in paper, fabric and fiber. She’s been on “Quilting Arts TV” numerous times, and I took a class from her in person several years ago when she taught in North Carolina. You can learn more about Jane's online courses on her blog here.

another page

The class is delivered in bits, once a week, in the form of videos and PDFs with photos and text. There are exercises and assignments. It is six weeks long, and all the information is available for several weeks after the class officially ends. The cost for the six-week class is $99. 

I’m taking the class partly to explore the idea of teaching online classes. I wanted to check out the platform Jane uses (Ruzuku), and to see what I like, or don’t like, about it. So far, it seems very easy to navigate and to connect with Jane and the other students taking the class.

If I offered online classes, what would you want to take from me?
Here are some ideas I’m considering:
  • Tyvek, Mylar, Lutradur: Explore versatile materials for art quilting
  • Wholecloth painting: Paint on fabric from your original photo
  • Thread sketching: Add detail, texture, and interest to your work with thread
  • Fusible applique: Build a composition from your original photo
  • Needleturn appliqué 101: Get started with this heirloom technique
  • Machine quilting 101: Gain confidence and skill in free-motion machine quilting
  • Photo inspiration: Learn how to use basic design and composition principles to take better photos with a point-and-shoot photo or your smart phone

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My work in the June/July issue of Quilting Arts

My work is featured in the June/July 2015 issue of Quilting Arts magazine, which will be going out to subscribers, and on newsstands, soon! You can buy it online here right now. It focuses on using acrylic inks to do lettering on cloth for art quilts.

This is my piece “The Mind is not a Vessel” (10.5" x 28"):

Monday, May 11, 2015

“Thermofax 101” review and giveaway

Lyric Kinard’s new DVD workshop is here! “Thermofax 101: Screen Printing Made Easy” is a great way to learn about how to start working with thermofax screens. Thermofax are an easy way to screen print your own imagery onto fabric.

The 65-minute-long workshop is divided into chapters. In the first chapter, Lyric discusses what a thermofax screen is, and how it is made. She explains the old way of making silkscreens, and then the way to make them using a thermofax machine. I don’t have a machine, but it was very interesting to understand how it worked, and to see it in action. If you don’t have a thermofax machine, you can send images to Lyric and have her make them into screens for you. The guidelines and pricing are here. She also has some screens of her designs for purchase. 

I had only worked with thermofax screens once before, and I learned so much from this workshop. Then I put what I had learned into action, using a thermofax of one of my fish drawings that Lyric made for me. First, I used ProChemical & Dye’s ProFab Transparent Textile Paint and screened onto Robert Kaufman Pimatex PFD (top), and onto white cotton canvas fabric (bottom):

Even though the printing was not as clear as on the Pimatex, I think I liked it better, with all its imperfections and texture, on the canvas:

I still need to practice a bit to get the right amount of paint going through the screen, so that I don’t lose too much detail. But I wasn’t aiming for perfection, but more of an arty look. I love how the fish look printed on a canvas apron I’d “dyed” with paint, then stenciled before printing:

The second chapter focuses on finding imagery, from using online resources for copyright-free art such as Dover Publications and the Library of Congress, to developing your own personal imagery. Lyric’s expertise in understanding and explaining basic principles of art shows clearly here. 

The third chapter covers printing techniques and materials, including the ideal printing surface (with just a bit of padding for a good print), supplies such as paint and scrapers, and advice about cleaning your screens so they will have a long life. She also covers techniques beyond printing with paint, such as using a bleach-based detergent for discharging dye from fabric, and printing with adhesives, so that you can foil. I tested out the foiling process (basically printing through the screen with an adhesive, allowing the fabric and glue to dry, and ironing on special foils), and loved the effect:

In the fourth chapter, Lyric offers great tips for how to use your thermofax screen images to design your own cloth. This was my favorite part of the DVD, and I think it will be helpful for anyone who wants to use thermofax screens in an artful way. Again, Lyric’s ability to explain and demonstrate basic design principles shines through here. You’ll feel confident about your ability to use thermofax screens to create dynamic fabric after watching.

Here’s a little video preview of the workshop:

Lyric is a gifted teacher (she was the 2011 International Association of Professional Quilters Teacher of the Year!), and she’s teaching with me this fall at my Once in a Blue Moon Fiber Art Retreat, October 1-3, 2015 in Black Mountain, NC. We only have room for four more students, so if you are interested, please send in your registration form soon. We are going to have so much fun!

If you want to get started using thermofax screens right away, you can purchase a copy of the DVD for $19.95 on Lyric’s website.
For more chances to win a copy, check out all of the links below, and leave comments on each blog. Lyric is giving away a DVD for each of the stops on this blog hop!

April 24 Cheryl Rezendez
April 25  Leslie Tucker Jenison  
April 28  Sue Bleiweiss
April 30  Judy Gula
May 1  Susan Price & Elizabeth Gibson
May 2  Judy Coates Perez
May 4  Linda Stokes
May 6  Jane Davila
May 6 Melanie Testa
May 7  Liz Kettle 
May 8  Carol Sloan
May 9  Kathy York
May 11  Susan Brubaker Knapp
May 12  Desiree Habicht
May 13  Jamie Fingal
May 14  Deborah Boschert
May 15  Sarah Ann Smith

Leave a comment on this post by noon on May 16 for a chance to win a copy of Lyric’s workshop on DVD. Tell me why you want this DVD. I will randomly select a winner and list it after this post on May 16. International entries are also accepted for this giveaway. Please leave an email address if you do not have a blogger profile that lists yours. I'll need a way to get in touch with you to get your address if you win. Please note that your comment may not show up right away, as I am moderating all comments before they post (I had a bunch of Japanese porn spammers leaving comments ... eeeew).
WE HAVE A WINNER! Vicki has won the DVD. Thanks, everyone!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Teaching coast to coast

From Cape Cod…
to the Monterey Peninsula
I’ve recently returned from a coast-to-coast teaching trip. I taught April 21-24 in Cape Cod, MA, and then flew all the way across the country to teach April 26 - May 1 at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in California. I got to see some beautiful places, and I dipped my toes in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean within about 24 hours. Then I rushed back on the red-eye from Los Angeles to Charlotte to get back in time for my daughter’s senior prom.

Here are some shots I took on Cape Cod, where it was chilly but clear and lovely, the water was a million shades of royal blue to teal, and the daffodils were in bloom:

But I also was struggling with an infection in my jaw, which turned out to be caused by a molar gone bad (and required a root canal when I got home). Luckily, I had some help from Ro Morrissey, who was supposed to accompany me to see the Edward Gorey house on Saturday morning, but instead got me to an emergency dentist and the pharmacy before she put me on the bus to Logan airport in Boston. (Thanks, Ro!)

The dentist in Cape Cod couldn’t see anything on the x-ray, but suspected an infection caused by a bad tooth, and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and told me to take 3 Motrin every 5-6 hours.

In my years of teaching, I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s necessary to lean on the folks who are sponsoring you – in ways you did not intend to have to do. That’s when you find out just how kind and accommodating quilters are. And you have some good stories to tell in the end, no matter how unpleasant or embarrassing the actual event was. (Ask me about the time I got a horrific diarrhea bug while teaching in Atlanta. Actually … don’t ask me. You really don’t want to know.)

Here are members of the Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod who took my Wholecloth Painting – Botanicals class. Beautiful work!

I also got the chance to have dinner with the immensely talented Melissa Averinos, (she paints, writes and illustrates craft books, designs quilting fabric, and makes quilts) whom I’d last met years before at Quilt Market. She took me to a local hangout for a wonderful fish dinner and a tasty piece of blueberry pie. 

After taking the bus to Logan airport, I took a whole lot of Motrin and got on a plane for Phoenix, then Monterey. 

Leaving Boston
Western mountains from the air

I arrived in Monterey about 11 p.m., took a dizzying taxi ride up and down and around curvy roads in the dark, with the scent of clean salt air in my nostrils, and arrived at Asilomar by midnight. I took more Motrin and the antibiotics and crashed. When I woke up the next morning, I was still in a lot of pain, but it was early (I was still on East Coast time), and I went out and walked for several hours on the beach before breakfast.


The west coast was experiencing a phenomenon where millions of Velella velella jellyfish were washing up on shore. These jellyfish ride the wind on the surface of the ocean, using their clear sail. When the living part (blue in the photo below) dries up, they leave behind their sail, which look like clear plastic Pringles potato chips with beautiful ridges in them. Very sad, but also incredibly beautiful. 

The Empty Spools Seminars are held at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Asilomar State Park. I had heard that it was spectacular, but I was still stunned at its beauty.
Asilomar was created as a YWCA Leadership Camp in 1913. It is called Monterey peninsula’s “Refuge by the Sea,” and includes 107 acres of state beach and conference grounds. It is known for its restored dune ecosystem and architectural significance. Many of its historic structures were designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan between 1913 and 1928. They have a strong Arts & Crafts/Mission influence, but with a west coast twist.


Two of my students took me to a darling breakfast place in Carmel called the Tuck Box for breakfast one morning:

Empty Spools Seminars  are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year! If you have never taken a class there, I highly recommend it. I know you will find it to be an amazing experience, and will love your time at Asilomar. They’ve just opened registration for next year!

The conference is extremely well organized, the lodging is simple but clean and comfortable, the food was great, and the event has a really great overall vibe. Everyone was friendly and companionable, and you can’t beat the location. I took wonderful walks every morning on beach paths with views that simply left me speechless.

My class covered wholecloth painting, fusible applique, and thread sketching. Students worked from their own photos. Most of my students focused on wholecloth painting. A few got one of their pieces completely thread sketched and quilted! Look at this wonderful work in progress!

Thanks to all my students in both Cape Cod and Asilomar for making this such a memorable teaching experience.

Here’s most of my Empty Spools class on the last day: