Monday, June 22, 2020

Polar Dendrogram Quilt: Finished

I blogged last week about my new quilt depicting a polar dendrogram, a biological tree of life.  I had so much fun with this, using large pieces of some of my fun prints and hand dyed fabrics, and with lots of room in the background for quilting.  The binding is half teal half pink silk, which is not a fun material to bind with, but that's life.

Tree of Life: Polar Dendrogram, c. Shannon Conley, 2020, 56" x 52", photo: Mike Cox
The outer ring of quilting mimics the shapes in the dendrogram.  It meant tons of thread burying, because there was a stop/start for each new shape, but I love the effect.

I love the way this turned out.  A pretty traditional quilt for me but filled with fun bright colors and cool quilting.

Friday, June 19, 2020

New Quilt: Polar Dendrogram

I've always been fascinated with tree of life quilts and tree of life imagery.  I love family trees and living imagery.  I put a tree of life into my own garden of Eden (it was filled with all of Darwin's different types of finches) into my Eucharistic Prayer C: Convergence quilt which was an exploration of the intertwined nature of science, evolution, and faith, but I've never done a specific tree of life quilt.

When I saw that Science and Math Quilts was one of the special exhibits at this year's International Quilt Festival in Houston, I knew I had to make something.  Of course I've made many science quilts before but none were big enough (Houston wanted something at least 50x50).  I decided to finally make a tree of life quilt, and the science theme led me to dendrograms!  

Dendrograms are used most broadly for hierarchical clustering, that is, to classify the relatedness of objects and the time or distance between different objects. They come in both linear and polar (circular) forms, but the basic idea is the same.  Dendrograms are widely used in biology, for example, in evolutionary trees to identify how closely species are related and how far back in time different groups diverged, or to classify genes or cell types.  They are quite literally "trees of life".  You can see an example of a polar dendrogram below.    Dendrograms are a great way to look at how closely related items are.

I drew a dendrogram in Adobe Illustrator,  it follows the organizational rules for dendrograms but doesn't plot any particular organisms or genes. 

My background was some pale pink (I think) jacquard weave fabric.  If you look closely,  you may be able to see the roses that are woven into it.  I painted it teal and green, and then set the pattern on top of my dendrogram pattern.

I decided to construct this like a mosaic, with the lines of the dendrogram represented by the grout lines between pieces, and each central shape cut out of a different fabric.  It was a great chance to use some of my cool hand printed/painted fabrics as well as other fun fabrics from my stash.  All the fabrics are silk or polyester, or other shiny fabrics.

Here you can see them as I was cutting and laying out each shape.  The paper pattern is visible underneath to help me line things up.

The pieces are all fused down; unfortunately, the background fabric wasn't super iron resistant, and I melted a big obvious hole in it.  More annoyingly, since the background was hand painted, I despaired of getting anything to patch it with that would match.  I finally wound up being able to trim off small pieces from the edge and using those to patch the hole, but I was lucky that the fabric I painted was a little bigger than I needed the final quilt to be.  You can see the patch in the final quilt if you look really closely, but it's largely invisible. I was so aggravated though!!!

Here's the whole thing basted for quilting,  the backing fabric is some sort of super bright floral print polyester satin stuff,  kind of like what you'd use for a frilly twirly skirt.  It's not really something I'd use for anything else, but it makes a fine backing.

Come back on Monday to see the final quilt!


Thursday, June 18, 2020

I Like #169

Welcome to another week of things to like.

My dahlias are doing well so far.  Two more new ones bloomed this week, this pretty pink pom pom (I love those tightly curled petals), and the big purple and white dinner plate below.  I hope they make it through the heat of the summer!  

Anna is with me this week and she is such a blessing!  She was watering my plants the other day and I saw her through the window dancing and singing with the spray hose.

I've been teaching her to play the Settlers of Catan card game, it's one of my favorites and Becky loves it too.  Anna is doing fantastic, she really seems to enjoy it and I'm so glad.  We'll probably play another round tonight!

I love using up old stamps;  these were from the 1973 supplement and they made me smile; stamps about the postal service!  Thanks to the postal service, I'm so grateful to continue receiving my mail and packages!!

This one made me giggle, by 1973, electronics had progressed a ton, but in the 45 years since then, wowza!

Becky adopted a new rat from the university and she (the rat) stayed with me last weekend.  She's super sweet and you can see her there peeking out from under her green minky blanket.

I hope everyone is hanging in there!  Click over to Lee Anna's for more things to like!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

I Like #168

Welcome to another week of things to like! 

1.  I was digging through family pictures again this weekend at the request of my cousin who wanted to know if I had any of her dad and my other uncle togther.  I found this fabulous one of my mom's family in about 1972.  I feel like the late 60s/early 70s just oozes out, from the ties, to the colors to the dresses (I'm willing to bet my mom didn't pick out that dress), to the lawn chairs.  Yum.

And this one, from about 12 years later.  That's me and my sister there, and this captures the outdoors, dusty feel of my childhood.  That picture was actually taken from Monjeau lookout, one of my favorite places in the whole world.  And for any girl scouts, my sweatshirt there was from Camp Mary White, my councils Girl Scout summer camp, another place I spent loads of fun summers as a kid. Hello Llama camp!

2.  My first two dahlias have started opening,  I wasn't able to get very good pictures, but I'm pretty excited, and they're beautiful in person.  The color depth and variety in that pink one is fantastic and really not captured well.

3.  I was at the store and saw this star trek windscreen!  It's hard to see but it made me happy!

4.  I bought several quilts in the Spotlight Auction fundraiser at the SAQA virtual conference this year (virtual since they canceled the in-person conference in Toronto).  For quite a while all the quilts (they're each 5x7) were held up in Toronto due to COVID-19, but we finally got them so yay!  So many cool ones.

Petite Patriot, Anita Howe
After years of thinking she was too cutesy and too traditional, I've come to love sunbonnet Sue, to me she's a visual representation of how many places women can and have gone and a visual tie I embrace with historical and traditional quilting and quilters.

Blue Bird on Cherry Blossom Tree, Michelle Perkins

This pretty bird was drawn (painted?) with inktense pencils which I've always struggled with!

Wildflower, Rose Kauhane

I love the little flowers.  This piece has lots of cool hand stitching and texture!

A Moment for Thought, Daniela Tiger

I loved how much expressiveness the artist captured with fairly minimal stitching.  And her artist statement said "This work is based on a very old photo of my father, during his adventuring days, long before I was born"  I love old photos (duh, I seem to be always sharing them), and I love the idea of adventures our parents had before we were born.

Circle Play, Cindy Loos

I love the fun circles, and this is another one with so much texture up close.  The pink is super fuzzy, some sore of chenille yarn or fabric and is so fun.  And I like the combination of jagged quilting with round quilting. 

I don't have very much wall space but I found space to hang them in my studio!  They're all matted and I just left them inside their cellophane packages.  The glare is annoying in photos, but in person it's fine and this way they stay protected from the studio dust!

5. I got to work in the lab almost all of this week!  So often most of my time is spent writing and doing office stuff, that it's super exciting when I get to get back to doing actual experiments.  

Click over to LeeAnna's for more of this weeks likes.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

I Like #167

It's been a rough week all around, but I'm here with a few things I'm grateful for.  They're pretty much the same things I'm grateful for every week, but that's ok!

1.  I'm grateful for my people!  My in-person people I see through masks at work, my family, my in-person friend people who I don't see now (alas), my church people, my online friends (that's you guys!).  This is what our family Zooms always look like.  Everyone bouncing in and out of the frame, but grateful to be together.  Two screens from my sister's house with the kids, two screens from my parent's house, plus my Aunt and Uncle in NM, my Aunt in CA, my Grandma, and me!

2.  I saw my first toad of the year.  I've been hearing them all over but haven't seen the normal contingent in the backyard.  This guy was the first.  Blue chased him but luckily he escaped. Usually after the first little bit the dogs leave them alone.  And my marigolds are blooming.  It has suddenly turned immediately into SUMMER-hot (it was 96 yesterday) so lots of my flowers may start to die back, but hopefully I can keep them watered and going.  And I ate the first tomatoes off my tomato plant.

3.  My sister helped me hang this cord reel in the middle of my studio.  Now I don't have so many cords all over the place.  It was getting bad particularly because Bentley can see and has gotten him tangled up in the iron cord several times recently.  I've been able to catch him/it so far, but was getting more and more worried he'd pull it down on top of him.

Yes, we're talking about you.

4.  I shared a few posts which I wrote a while back about my new liturgical quilt.  It has a lot of personal symbolism in it.  You can read about it here, here, and here.

Click through to LeeAnna's for more things to like!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Nicene Creed Quilt: Finished

Today I'm here to share my finished Creed quilt.  If you missed it, scroll back a few days, there are two in progress posts from this week.  This quilt is fairly large for me, 40" wide by 61" high.

I Believe, c. Shannon Conley, 2020, 61" x 40", photo: Mike Cox

Here are Blue and Bentley in the top window.  The background is an overpainted blue synthetic velvet.  The trees are trees from home, an apple tree, a piƱon tree, and aspen trees.  And underneath that are fun quilting doodles.  One of my favorite things about illuminated manuscripts are all the doodles and flourishes that fill in extra space around the text.  Those round ones right below the window element are trinity symbols.

The decoration of the large C for credo also features more Trinity symbolism.  The background of the C and P are hand-dyed silk velvet.  The bled a little onto the surrounding quilt which makes me really sad.

Blue with his tennis ball, and more fun quilting doodles!

Pumpkin staring up at Blue with the tennis ball!

Here are Missy and Angel dogs sitting in front of our Sierra Blanca mountain in the bottom window.  The mountain is again overpainted synthetic velvet, and the flowers in the foreground are indian paintbrush.  I remember pulling out the centers and sucking the nectar as a kid.  They grow here too, and I always love seeing them.

This side has another tree-from-home, the ponderosa pine.  We used to try to braid bracelets out of the long ponderosa needles as kids.  That's Sam cat there under the tree, and Becky's rats Silky and Puffy (not-to-scale) up in the tree.

This is the other side, my lovely brown dog Shooter sitting under a blooming cherry tree.

Here are a few more fun quilting doodles,  the flowers there are red hot pokers, a favorite from where I grew up, but I can't get them to grown here

 The borders are a mix of applique shapes and very dense quilting.  The pale grey green pebbles is all just dense quilting.

I carried that dense quilting motif up into the area surrounding the top window, the light blue pebbles interlaced with the applique elements is all just dense quilting.  The quatrefoil elements are actually the leftover centers after cutting out the borders for the Lord's Prayer quilt.  I cut the centers out of those centers, so now I have a pile of even smaller middles left to do something else with.

I love the way this turned out.  All bright colors and intricate shapes and fun quilting with dogs and flowers and trees and New Mexico and prayer.  It seems like a pretty personal representation of me :)

The back turned out really pretty too.  It's an orange silk sari.  There are some quilting bobbles and places with uneven tension, but overall it's really cool to look at the back where you can see just the quilting.

Linking up with Art Quilt Fridays!