Monday, December 19, 2016

Baby Quilt for Ava

My good friend Maggie is having a baby very soon, so of course I had to make a baby quilt for her little girl Ava.  I had a charm pack of minky squares I wanted to use but the colors didn't really go well together.  I pulled out the blue ones though to serve as inspiration.  I used all stash stuff which makes me happy and I think it turned out cute.

We're looking forward to her arrival!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Christmas Quilt

On and off over the years I've seen people make quilts using antique linens (like these) and I've always admired them.  A few years ago I picked up this Christmas doily somewhere thinking it would be great for this type of treatment although I don't have any reason to think it's antique.  After seeing Cindy Needham's fabulous special exhibit of this type of quilt at IQF this year, I was determined to try my hand at it.

I tried the doily on several different green backgrounds.  I had a really hard time capturing the colors in photos, especially for the darker ones, but I settled on a very dark green dupioni silk from my stash (it's the far right that looks almost black, but in person is a lovely forest green).  After a little bit of pre-marking I just started quilting away.

I bound it in a green microsuede which gives a nice soft texture in person.  The Christmas tree I quilted in the middle felt a bit off center to me because I placed it so the widest part of the tree would sit in a wider part of the wreath, so I decided to quilt the words "Lux Venit" (the Light is coming) under it in reference to Jesus' birth on Christmas.

Lux Venit, Shannon Conley, c.2016

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas and I hope you're finding time to celebrate with those near to you this time of year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New Manuscript Quilt

You may recollect I've been working on a series of quilts depicting the pieces of the Episcopal liturgy, specifically the Holy Eucharist, Rite 2.  The next section I decided to work on is the Confession.  In thinking about this piece I decided I wanted to use my own handwriting rather than a more formal script as I've used in previous pieces.

I didn't want to digitally print it, so I started thinking about ways to get my handwriting onto fabric.  At first I thought I'd try bleach discharge using a bleach pen, but on my little samples, the bleach pen bled so much that it wasn't really legible.

Next I thought about using Esterita Austin's ink/paint transfer technique.  I'd previously used it on my seed packet quilt and thought it might work here.  Basically, you can paint or write on parchment paper, layer it with misty fuse and organza and the paint/ink is picked up by the organza/misty fuse when you iron.  Previously I'd done it with paint, which worked quite well, but for the handwriting I wanted to use marker as I'm not very graceful writing with a brush.  I did some sharpie writing on the parchment (top picture), and then did the mistyfuse transfer onto organza (middle picture).  It worked fine, but because the misty fuse has the texture of a fine webbing and the marker ink doesn't have any inherent structure to it (like a layer of paint), the ink only transfers exactly where the misty fuse fibers were.  This resulted in a sort of faint transfer which wasn't exactly what I was going for.  I tried it using wonder under instead of misty fuse since that's a little denser, but it really didn't work (bottom picture); I just got a big mess.

Next I decided to try sunprinting.  I purchased some Jacquard SolarFast, a sunprinting fluid that allows you to print in many different colors, not just the blue of traditional cyanotypes.  I got a bottle of purple and a bottle of orange.  You paint it on, then while wet, put on your items for resist, cover them with glass, and put them in the sun.  Many people print black and white photos on transparencies and place those under the glass for printing, so I figured I could write with a black marker and that would work.  I did two small test pieces on different background fabrics.  For one (Alleluia Alleluia below) I used a standard sharpie and wrote on the transparency.  For the other (Go in Peace below), I wrote with standard sharpie directly on my glass.  The two pictures are just different amounts of time in the sun so you can see the color develop.  Writing on the glass was easier since it meant only positioning one thing, but I was concerned that because the writing was on the top of the glass, the thickness of the glass might make the writing less crisp.

Indeed that's what happened.  Sorry for the terrible lighting below, I'm not sure why I had so much reflected light off these samples.  Anyway, you can see that the writing is definitely crisper and easier to read in the Alleluia sample than the Go in Peace sample.  In fact on the Go in Peace sample, you can hardly even see the words, especially on the purple.

I decided to use orange for the center of my print (where most of the writing would be) and purple for the outside ring since the writing was easier to see on the purple.  I did like the look of the purple and orange on the light yellow print background, so I grabbed another piece of light yellow tone-on-tone from my stash.  I also decided to go ahead and write on the transparency rather than the glass and use a thicker marker.  The final size of my print is about 30 x 30 so that meant a large piece of glass, transparency, and fabric to line up.  It was a bit tricky lining it all up in the dark, and then my giant sheet of glass broke in two leaving some very sharp edges, but in the end I got it all layered up and into the sun.  Here it is mid-print.  The thing that looks like a white string across the top is actually the place where the glass broke.  I had to hold it together with clear packing tape.  If you look closely you can see the transparencies underneath (where the writing is).  The little whitish squares are the scotch tape I used to hold the transparency sheets together.  Unfortunately you can't use the transparencies without the glass overlays because they blow away. 

 Here's how the final print turned out.  I like it- the text is subtle, but legible if you look very closely, which is fine with me.  I have great plans for how I want to turn this into a quilt, but sadly there are a few more high-priority things in the pipeline right now so it'll be the first of the year or later when I get back to this.

What kind of experiences have you had with these techniques?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent is here!

As always I went to my family's place in southern New Mexico for Thanksgiving this year, and had a blast celebrating with my mom's cousins as well as my sister and her family, and my parents/grandparents.

As always we hiked up into the mountains to cut down a New Mexico PiƱon Christmas tree, and I hauled it back across the plains to OKC.  I love this tradition, and it was especially fun this year, the cousins and my sister's little kids came with us, and they did so well.  Anna, who is now 4, hiked along with me and pointed out all the cool things she found; cacti and sticks and tall swooshy grass.

After getting home, I set up the tree, and then got out the decorations.  I love seeing them all every year, it brings up lots of happy memories.

The dogs were so uninterested.

One of my favorite ornaments which I don't think I've ever shared, is my crocheted angel tree topper.  I crochet a fair amount now, but I didn't used to, and when I first started, the only thing I did for the first few years was string/lace crochet.  Many years the top of the tree is smushed up against the ceiling so she doesn't actually fit on top, but she goes as close up there as I can get her.  I still haven't decided what ornaments I'm going to make this year- I've had a few ideas but haven't settled on anything yet.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


It's been a while since I've been here, but I guess that goes without saying.  I'm working on a couple of larger projects but wanted to pop in today to catch up on a few smaller things.

My mom and I had a lovely time at IQF in Houston, it was great to see so much fabulously inspiring work there.  I came back geared up and ready to go.  We only took one class, a three hour introductory silk painting/resist workshop with Ginny Eckley.  She paints fabric and also does screen printing (another technique near and dear to my heart.  One of her collaboration quilts with Susan Ennis was in the IQA show, and was a personal favorite of mine.

Splash, by Ginny Eckley and Susan Ennis, IQA show, 2016

The class was a lot of fun- I've not really done much silk painting before and all the supplies were provided.  We used some salt for the background and worked with water soluble resist rather than wax.  I struggled with the resist- it clearly takes a lot of practice to figure out how to apply it without getting globby but enough to actually resist.  It gave me great appreciation for the skill of other silk painters, especially my friend Judith Roderick, whose work is amazing.

These are the two little panels I did in the class.  A very gloppy goldfish, and a slightly better rainbow reef fish!

I've also started to attend biweekly knit night at my church with some of my friends and it's given me a scheduled place to work on my crochet projects.  After finishing my black shawl, I've started crocheting a brown cardigan.  It's the first thing I've ever made that has to fit, so wish me luck.  Recently one of the knit night regulars moved away, and we all whipped up small projects to send her along with good wishes.  I love my crochet dishcloths, so I made this one up with her favorite colors.

Finally, my friend Liz gave me this fabulous t-shirt a while back- it's printed (front and back) with the artwork of one of her local artist friends, Rick Sinnett.  I loved the colors and pattern and everything, but it was way too small, so I slit up the sides and inserted some panels.  Now it fits nicely and is super wonderful. 

Yeah, so a total grab bag of nonsense, but hopefully I'll be back with more fun stuff soon!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Upcoming Shows

In less than one week, my mom and I will be traveling to IQF in Houston for the quilty extravaganza of the year.  If you're going, drop me a note in the comments, maybe we can say hi in person!  I'm privileged to have two quilts hanging there this year.  My quilt Eucharistic Prayer C: Convergence is in Quilts: A World of Beauty, and my quilt Peering Out of the Darkness is part of the Quilt National 2015 exhibit at IQF.

My mom also has a quilt in Quilts: a World of Beauty, hers is called Conflagration, Desolation, Rejuvenation, Jubilation.  She also has a second quilt in the brand new SAQA show "Turmoil" called Flying Geese (sadly I don't have a picture of that one).  If you make it to Houston, definitely check these out, they're so much more interesting in person than in pictures.

Shannon Conley, Eucharistic Prayer C: Convergence

Shannon Conley, Peering out of the Darkness

Vicki Conley,  Conflagration, Desolation, Rejuvenation, Jubilation

Mom and I also both have quilts in Art Quilts XXI: In Stitches.  This annual show is opening November 18th at the Vision Gallery in Chandler, Arizona.  My dog quilt is going to be hanging in the show, and my mom's fabulous donkey quilt, Shocked, is also going to be there.  Super exciting, her quilt is on the show postcard!

Shannon Conley, The Dogs

Vicki Conley, Shocked #2

It's really exciting to get to have pieces hanging at these venues, and I encourage you to check them out if you're in the area.

Monday, October 24, 2016

New Fall Decorations

It feels like I've been sharing lots of little projects lately rather than big projects.  Partly that's because I've taken a break from big stuff after pushing through my Dahlia quilt, my Eucharistic Prayer C quilt, and my Anonymous quilt in the spring/summer and it's partly because I'm holding off a little on sharing the new things I'm working on. 

In any case, last week I got out my fall decorations and decided that they didn't go well with my regular blue placemats, so I snagged a bunch of this floral fall colored home-dec fabric at JoAnns and made up some new ones.  I love the way they look with the warm wood and the copper candle holders.  Our everyday cloth napkins are a light green, so I tried to pick a fabric they would continue to match.  Unfortunately the ivory crochet doily that had been in the middle of the table was too big with the new placemats and all the other old doilies I had were stark white.  I wound grabbing one of them and just tea-dyeing it.  It took up just enough color to be a pale brown and now blends in fine with the rest of the decor.  The table would probably look better with not-white candles, but I'm not willing to spend any more money on this endeavor....

Then while I was cleaning out my sewing room desperately looking for a lost very important something which I had put someplace "very secure so I wouldn't lose it" (who knows where), I found this silk screened bird panel.  My mom made this silk screen a couple years ago, and at that time she and I both made several prints using it.  She finished hers into several small quilts (which have since all been sold), but my prints were just crammed into a drawer.   I decided to stitch one up into a little fall wall hanging which is now in my office.

One of the most fun things about this print is that I actually printed it twice, once in black on the navy fabric and then once, offset, in gold.  As a result when you look up close, there's more depth to the print and the black almost looks like a shadow.

Mom's prints were mostly black on a grey background and their ominous look led her to title the pieces Something is Coming... I liked that, so to make mine a little more interesting I drew out words and then free motion embroidered them.  On an aside, is anyone else addicted to calligraphy/lettering videos on instagram?  They're mesmerizing and have been popping up in my feed a ton lately.  Hand calligraphy/lettering is a field I've never really explored, but I tried a little here.  The whole thing isn't really quilted, I just backed it with some stabilizer to give it a little more heft for the stitching on the letters, and then bound the whole thing.

It was just a quick fun project, but I love getting cool things out of drawers/UFO piles and onto the wall!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New Crochet Project: Black Shawl

Earlier this year I shared my small blue-green crochet shawl.  I've really enjoyed wearing it- it seems to be the perfect thing for cold offices in the fall and winter.  I decided to make a second crochet shawl, this time using the black alpaca yarn my aunt gave me.  The pattern is the dragonfly shawl which I found on ravelry.  I loved the lacy look, and it looked like about the same size as my green-blue shawl.  The pattern itself was wonderfully written with a very clear diagram/chart (that's pretty much the only way I crochet), and it was fun for me to learn a new crochet stitch, the solomon knot. 

 Unfortunately I underestimated how big it was.  By the time I realized how big it was getting I was in the middle of a multiple row repeat so had to finish several more rows and then a 10-12 row border.  This is in no way the fault of the pattern, but basically, it turned out huge.  You can see in the picture below, the central point falls below my knees.  Much larger than the little shrug/shawl I was hoping for.  I wore it the other day and it wrapped around my shoulders twice.  It wasn't quite cold enough for it- the alpaca is really very warm, so I was roasting by the end of the day.  I do love the pattern, and the witchy-spider-webby vibe seems very seasonally appropriate.  Next time I just need to remember that triangular things get big fast and I shouldn't underestimate the size added by the borders!  Ignore my weird look in the pic below, I have no idea why my eyes are closed.

And while we're on the crochet note, I have to share this absolutely fabulous amigurumi my friend Rahel made me.  She's crocheted me wonderful things before, notably the carrot potholders, but I think this takes the cake.  She's moving back to Switzerland in a month or so, and in spite of the fact that I'm sure she has a million things to do, and that usually presents go the other way, she made all of her friends crocheted going away presents.  You guys!! She crocheted me an amigurumi crochet hook!!  You cannot get any more wonderfully fabulously meta than that.  Hooray for Rahel!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Wallhanging for Grandpa Wilbur

About a month ago I went home to New Mexico to celebrate my Grandpa Wilbur's 90th birthday.  He and my grandma live in the same town as a lot of my extended family, and everyone else made a big effort to come for the party, so it turned into a de facto family reunion.  It was really great to see everyone and celebrate.  My Aunt Susan was organizing the party, but I volunteered for two projects.  
The first was the invitations which I designed in illustrator and had printed at vistaprint.  I've used them for lots of print-on-demand things and have usually been very pleased.  It always helps to find a coupon, and the shipping is a bit much, but the quality is good and reliable.

The second project was to do something with this sign.  My aunt rescued it from my grandparent's garage many years ago.  My grandfather had written this message on a piece of particleboard and had always meant to do something with it, but never got around to it.  We all loved his handwriting, so I took some pictures and after a bit of editing, got it in good enough shape to print at spoonflower. 

When it came back I stitched some simple borders on it, added a little topstitching (with a couple layers of buckram-like material underneath to add a bit of stiffness, and then stretched it around stretcher bars.  

I think he appreciated it, and he's hung it up in the house.  Luckily there were extra prints of the center panel in the yardage from spoonflower because now both my aunt and uncle have asked for one.  It was definitely a fun and easy, but meaningful project.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park Handbag

A couple months ago I got a surprise package in the mail from my friend Barb. As an aside, there are very few things more satisfying than an unexpected package in the mail. Barb and I are science and quilting buddies, you may remember her as the microscopist who took the picture that inspired my photoreceptor quilt.

Evidently her friend Forest purchased a bunch of these small Rocky Mountain National Park panels based on vintage park posters and pictures. They ranged from about 3x3 to 5x7 inches. Barb had more than she had stuff to do with so she kindly sent some to me!

I'm a big national park fan, I hope someday to visit them all, but I've not yet been to Rocky Mountain.  Initially I wasn't sure what to do with the panels since they were so small, but after looking at them for a while I decided the vintage styling would be great as a mid-century inspired handbag. 

I'd purchased some wooden purse handles online a while back with no particular project in mind, but figured this would be a great chance to use them. I sketched several different shapes, but the maximum size was limited by the panels. I wound up piecing them together and adjusting my pattern a bit as I went to be able to fit the panels. 

The exterior is interfaced with automotive headliner fabric and the lining is interfaced with sf101. I put only a single zip pocket inside and a magnetic closure, so it's a fairly simple bag. 

I think it turned out really cute, and it's the perfect size for the amount of stuff I want to carry, a critical aspect since the amount of stuff I carry expands to fill whatever receptacle I'm dragging along with me.