Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Like #27

Welcome to another week of I like!  

1.  I like fixing things!  I was talking to LeeAnna (I think!) last week after her mention of lawn ornaments about how I have a nifty black bear my grandpa made and a red bird whirligig on top of it.  Unfortunately the red bird had gotten really old and the center dowel his wings were mounted on had rotted and his wings had fallen off etc. etc. etc.  But this weekend I finally fixed him!  I took him all apart, replaced the middle dowel, and gave all his parts a fresh paint job.  Now he's back spinning in the breeze!  Unfortunately I see now that I need to repaint my bear too, but that'll have to wait because I think he needs a bit of sanding first.

2. I like kitty-cats!  I can't have them any more because my allergies are too bad, but even though I'm a hardcore dog person, I love cats too.  It was a sad time on that front here this week, my sister's cat Motor was killed by a car, but seeing my friend's two adorable cats lined up outside his house reminded me that they can be pretty cute in their own snooty way.  

3.  I like seeing pictures of exhibitions I can't make it to.  My mom and I both had pieces in the SAQA regional show Under the Western Sun, and my mom was the one who secured a second venue for it in Socorro New Mexico.  In a very old school caravan kind of way, the ladies who hung the show at its first venue in Colorado took the quilts to Santa Fe, passed them off to SAQA members there who then drove south to Socorro.  My mom drove up from her house, a couple of hours the other direction, to help hang the show.  It's at the Macey Center at New Mexico Tech, so if anyone is in the Albuequerque/Socorro/central New Mexico area you should go see it.  I won't see it, but I'm so glad she sent me these pictures!

4.  I love my Grandpa!  He passed away last fall, but his birthday was this week, so we've all been thinking about him.  He was such a smart interesting man, and I love hearing my mom tell stories about when she was a kid.  He made really beautiful scale models of ships and trains and houses, and when we were little, he always let my sister and I play with his tiny tools.  I remember spending many hours pretending to take apart his porch swing with little bitty screwdrivers and pliers.

5.  I love my grandma!  She's the one who always sends letters with lots of stamps, and this week she emailed me a picture of this cool wooden train that my [other] grandpa just finished putting together.  It's pretty cool- it's powered by rubber bands and actually goes.  Pretty nifty.  Maybe at some point I'll get a video of it in action.  I love when she sends me pictures and other things!

6.  I like flowers!  (Duh).  The bloom in this picture is pretty small, but now it's expanded to normal geranium bloom size.  I really liked the way it looked like it was kissing its reflection in the window though!

Thanks to LeeAnna as always!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Like #26

Another week of I Like has cropped up before I know it!  I should plan my posts on Wednesdays instead of waiting until Thursday morning!

Without further ado, here are some things I liked this week:

1. I like my plants!  Obviously you guys are all aware of this, but it makes me so happy to see them growing.  Nothing is flowering yet, but this is another one of the new small sprouts I got from the farmers market a couple weeks ago.  I'm not sure what it is, but it seems to be growing fairly well.   The little mini plants growing off of each leaf make me super happy, although the plant man said to watch out, they'll fall off in your other plants and then start growing again!  I actually started a couple in another pot already and they're sprouting!  Unfortunately I'm not sure why, but the new growth in the last two weeks (which is substantial) is fairly yellow.  You can see it on the two smaller leaves that are vertical in this picture.  It's right now living on my porch which is protected from any direct sun.  It has been really hot lately (over 100), and though I've been keeping him watered, I wonder if I should move him inside.  Does anyone know anything about yellow leaves?  He really has been growing fast-  that's about 2 inches of new leaf in two weeks, just weirdly yellow.

3. I like sewing clothes!  I don't sew that many, and I don't particularly like sewing complicated or finely tailored things, but skirts and some tops are fairly easy and fun.  I wear skirts a lot, but found that I wasn't wearing some of my more recent makes very often because they didn't have pockets.  So over the weekend I sewed up this drop-waist circle skirt out of some fabric I picked up on clearance when Hancocks closed last year.   I like doing a drop waist on circle skirts so they're still twirly but you don't have all that fabric around the hips.  The green band you see in the pictures at the bottom of my purple shirt isn't the skirt, it's a dark green camisole I'm wearing under the purple shirt.  The drop waist part of the skirt is the same material as the rest of the skirt, you just can't see it in the pics.  I still have a bunch of this green fabric left, it's a bit heavy and itchy for tops, so I'll have to think of something to do with it.

3.  On the clothes subject,  I love the blog Male Pattern Boldness.  The blogger, Peter, is a fantastic clothes sewer, an excellent tailor/draper who makes beautiful clothes for men and women.  Plus his blog is fun and approachable.  If you're at all interested in clothes sewing, it's worth following his blog or instagram.

4. I love starting new things!  I started a new quilt last week for our upcoming regional SAQA NM (also including TX/UT/WY and CO) show, Life Along the Rio Grande, and I'm hoping to be caught up enough to blog about it in something close to real time.  I'm going to be doing the print materials again, and got organized enough to do an official logo for the show!  If any of you are in SAQA, and live in any of those regions, you should consider entering.  The details can be found here on the SAQA NM webpage (scroll down through the meeting notes).

I hope everyone is hanging in there this week through (for us) the hot (and hot and hot and still hot and holy cow we still have to get through August) part of the summer.  Thanks as always to Lee Anna!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Listen Louder than You Sing: Finished

I talked earlier in the week about the first steps for my quilt Listen Louder Than You Sing.  Today I'm back to share the finished piece.

I'm pleased to say that it was accepted into Threads of Resistance, which opened this Tuesday (July 11th) at the New England Quilt Museum.  If you're in Massachusetts, you might go to see the show, it should have some fabulous quilts.  It's also going to be touring around, so you can check out the Threads of Resistance homepage to find out if it's coming near you.

Listen Louder Than You Sing, Shannon Conley, c. 2017

I quilted it using stick quilting in many many different colors of thread.  One of my goals was to incorporate a fair amount of color change across the surface of the quilt. The background letters are openwork (i.e. you could stick your fingers through them). Each set of letters has 5-6 different colors of thread quilted over and over.

Unfortunately I squared it up a little too small, namely, I cut the top edge so there was only 3.5 inches from the top to the first row of open letters.  Anyone who's ever hung at a quilt show knows about the dratted 4" pocket, so I had to make an adjustable pocket which would open up to 4" in diameter for hanging on a fat pole at a quilt show (where hopefully the pole would be large enough to prevent the pocket from showing at the top) or would shrink down to a 3.5" pocket for hanging on flat gallery slats.  I can't believe I screwed it up that way, it was really a pain in the neck to make the pocket.  The other problem that arose was that with only 3.5 inches at the top, I really didn't want to loose another 1/4 inch in a facing, nor did I want a traditional binding.  In the end I just finished the edge with a zig-zag and couched nubbly yarn that complemented the colors of the quilt.  That turned out to be lucky because I love the edge finish.  Photographing it so you could see that the letters were openwork (not white) was difficult, but many thanks to my dad who took the pictures for me while Mike was out of town.

Thanks to the Artists Circle Alliance who organized this important show!  I'm linking up with Nina-Marie as usual!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I Like #25

Happy Thursday everyone!  I hope there are good things to like in your life.  This has been a good normal week for me, normal in the sense that I'm regular-busy not crazy busy, and that's a refreshing change.  I spent all day Saturday running errands in a singularly inefficient manner (not on purpose of course), and luckily it was only annoyingly inconvenient rather than super stressful because my schedule wasn't over packed.

1.  I liked hanging my own show!  It's very small, just 12 pieces, but it's the first time I've gotten to hang a bunch of my work all in one place.  It's hanging at a coffee shop called the Gray Owl in Norman, OK, quite close to where I live.  Shout out to Roshni, Jenny, and Braden from the Gray Owl for the invite.  Mike helped me hang on Sunday morning and my stuff will be up through August.  If you happen to be in the area, please stop by!  I hung some of the pieces higher than I might normally in the hopes that they would stay out of the path of wayward coffee!

2. I like starting something new!  SAQA New Mexico has a call for entry currently out called "Life Along the Rio Grande" and this weekend after finishing up a bunch of miscellaneous admin type stuff, I got to start my piece for it.  So far I'm just painting the background, but It's all on velvet/stretch velour-type fabrics because I was given a bunch of those, so it looks like it'll be an adventure.  It's going to feature part of the Very Large Array, a huge really cool radio telescope in central New Mexico, which I've gotten to visit before.  

3.  I like house plants!  Of course you guys already knew this.  This weekend in an extremely side-tracked attempt to make pancakes I wound up at the Moore Farmer's market where instead of buying a bunch of vegetables (I did buy a few), I got involved in a 40 minute conversation with a super fun plant cultivator.  He had all different kinds of specialty houseplants, including a gorgeous, about to bloom pink bromeliad (Aechmea fasciata).  I have a red one and have long wanted a pink one, but alas it was outside my price range.  But I had a fabulous conversation with him (sadly I've mislplaced his business card), bought this cool plant which I've already forgotten the name of, and was given three cuttings to start several other different things.  Fun!

4.  I like the girls I work with!  Two of them are leaving really soon (they were just with us for the summer), so I had a friend take a lab picture after we all went out to lunch last week.  Mostly we were just giggling the whole time.  Things are often pretty crummy at work, so it's been good to have some fun people in the lab this summer.

I hope you've all had a good week, and thanks to LeeAnna for hooking us up!

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Quilt: Listen Louder than You Sing

While I was at Asilomar this Spring for my artist residency, I started work on a project called "Listen Louder Than You Sing" a piece I wanted to finish in time to enter into Threads of Resistance.  I feel like so much of our current strife is caused by people not being able to look beyond their own experiences.  I decided the piece would be openwork, with multiple layers of writing.  Something like the idea of a palmipsest, except that the first layer hasn't been erased on purpose.  

I started with my standard polyester satin random apparel fabric (thanks again to Georgia, I've found lots of this kind of thing in the boxes from her and I routinely use this as a quilt base).  I layered my quilt sandwich and then put down a full sized  printout of my letters to use as a guide for quilting.  Ripping off all that paper after the fact was a pain!  As was the fact that I had to do that quilting using my old teensy travel janome and there was not very much space to ball up the quilt and paper underneath the harp!

My two texts are: "My American experience is not all American experiences", and then superimposed on that is the text "Listen louder than you sing".  Our choir director says this to us with some frequency, largely I think to try to get us to blend harmoniously (with limited success).  But I think it speaks to the same theme: to know what others are experiencing you have to listen louder than you're talking.  And yes, the irony of making a large loud quilt talking about listening is not lost on me.

After ripping off all the paper, it was time to paint the background.  These are a couple of the color schemes that inspired me; I wanted a dark background with pops of red orange and maybe some greens.  I painted the whole background with dark greys, greens, blues, and purples, then used a stencil to paint on the front letters in orange-pink-red.  Finally I cut out the back letters along the quilted outlines so that they're open.

The background looks like a fairly uniform grey, but there's actually quite a bit more variability than these pictures captured.

This is the back you can see places where the grey paint seeped through.

The final step was quilting it, and I'll be back with those pictures on Friday.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Finished Confession Quilt: Finally Blogged

This quilt has been finished for a couple of months and only recently did I realize that I'd never done a final blog post about it.  I checked in a few months back on a WIP: Wednesday to get opinions about the binding, but never followed up!

This piece is part of my ongoing series depicting parts of the Episcopal liturgy.  In this case, the prayer is our confession of sin, the text of which reads (1982 Book of Common Prayer, p. 360)

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

In common with many of our prayers, it is said aloud and in unison every Sunday, giving a very communal feeling to a very personal consideration of what each of our failings are.  The really personal nature of this particular prayer is what prompted me to take a slightly different approach to the quilt.  Many of my illuminated quilts have a medieval-inspired feel, and the letters are often done using silk screens and "fancy" fonts.  In this case, I wanted to incorporate that personal element and decided to use my own handwriting.  The letters were printed from a handwritten transparency using sun-printing, more of which can be found in the previous blog post.

Confession. c. 2017, Shannon Conley
The center medallion is floating, connected only to the outer ring by thread, and is a slightly different approach to openwork compared to some of my other pieces.  I love the openness and lightness.  It means the quilt takes some of its personality from what it's hanging on, another way of being even more personal.  In my studio, it's currently hanging on my bright yellow wall which really brings out the warm colors.  Before adding the stick quilting which holds the medallion in and which grounds the corners, I quilted the blue background in repeating circling layers of text reading "what I have left undone, what I have left undone, what I have left undone...."  The things that are left undone are the things that constantly bother me, I never know if I've done enough or could do more, or missed my chance to do something important or kind or right.

Overall I'm pleased with the way this turned out.  I wish it was easier to read the text of the prayer, but I think it's ok that for this piece it's more subtle.  I'm working on projects for a whole bunch of different things right now, but hopefully will get back to this series towards the end of the year.

Linking up with Nina-Marie!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

I like #24

Welcome to another round of I Like Thursdays!  I'm grateful that there's a lot to like this week!

1. I like having a bit of time to get caught up on blogging!  For quite a while I haven't had time to blog much except my I like posts, but I finally had a bit of time over the weekend to get posts written up about some of my recently completed quilts and sewing projects.  Check back in over the next couple of weeks if you're interested in seeing them!

2. I like 4th of July!  I like the celebrations and I like having a moment to pause and think about why I'm proud to be American, and grateful to those who have fought and served for our country, even if I don't agree with everything happening now.  Mike and I got to go to a couple of fireworks displays too which was fun.  One of them got rained out, but it turned into something of an adventure.

3. I like public art!  This giant sculpture is called skydance bridge and the top portion was inspired by our state bird, the scissortail flycatcher.  It's over the freeway, and is really neatly illuminated at night.  I caught this picture while Mike was driving us home from the rained-out-fireworks the other night.  So cool!

4.  I love my grandmother!  She's 89 (or maybe 90?) this year, but she and my grandfather still live in their home in Ruidoso where I grew up.  She's such a great lady, always interested in everything we're doing.  She worked for many years in the post office, and started collections of plate block stamps for each grandchild when they were born.  I love looking back at the old stamp albums she made us.  As a result though, she has tons of leftover stamps from the 60s-90s and just uses them up now as postage. Getting a letter or card from her is even more wonderful because of all the cool stamps!

5.  I love my crabapple tree!  My crabapples just got ripe and I decided I should pick them all before the birds go them.  It's not a big tree but I got enough to make it worth doing some jelly, so on 4th of July I made the juice.  I put it in the freezer and I'll make the jelly later in the year.  I don't have any canning jars right now and I was going to buy some, but my mom has tons and tons, so I'll just wait until I can get to NM and grab some of hers.  The crabapples were a bit wormy, in fact, one live worm crawled out on my cutting board! (That's the bottom picture)  Jelly's a good thing to do with wormy fruit though, you can just hack off the gross parts and proceed without having to throw the whole thing away.  Don't worry, no worms in the jelly!

Thanks as always to LeeAnna for keeping us going!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Crochet dress finished

I mentioned in one of my I like posts a while back that I'd finally finished a crochet dress I was working on, but I never got around to sharing the final pics!  I'd been wanting to do a pineapple pattern for a while.  I chose the Jordan Sleeveless Pineapple Top which I found on ravelry.  It had a nice easy-to-understand chart, and crocheted up very well.  I fiddled around with the pattern some, but only because I still never use the right size hook/yarn that is recommended.  I'd wholeheartedly recommend this pattern though, it was very well written and clear.

C. Vicky Chan (from pattern)

I wanted to use this "yarn" a friend gave me, even though it's not really clothing yarn.  It's made up of lots of short pieces of ribbon held together by a wrapping of black thread.  It's a bit chunky and because it was rainbowy (and nubbly) it didn't show the pattern too well while I was crocheting, but I think you can see it well by the end.  It wasn't bad to crochet with, the worst part is that it was on very small balls so there were lots of ends to weave in.

My mom took that final picture of me while we were out at the QN17 opening (which was my goal for finishing it), and I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I think you can see the pineapples (especially in the bodice) as long as I wear it over something solid colored.  It was great to finish, and though fun to work on, it did take a long time.  Luckily my ladies at the church knit night were super helpful and encouraging!