Jan 31, 2015

embroidery plans for Superbowl Weekend

Here's a photo sure to amuse all you 'Juno Blizzard surviving New Englanders'. It's 42 degrees in Houston and I'm sitting by the fire doing embroidery. Yes, I have the fire going and yes, 42 degrees is cold. Don't take my word for it, just ask the dog.

Don't know about the Juno Blizzard? Here's some serious snow pics from Fun With Barb - a blog I've followed for years.

Speaking of the dog... I must take this Super Saturday opportunity (translation? Super Bowl Weekend) to tell you the dog goes by the name Tom. Short for Tombrady. Oh yes I did!! I named him after New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. I mean what's not to love about this guy?


He's talented, attractive, dedicated, competitive, fierce. Did I mention attractive and talented? Need I go on?

In fact, want to know what to buy a Patriots/Packers/Texans fan quilter for Christmas? Here's the answer. My favorite gift this year. From my son. Good call Son. You picked the winners.

me wearing No. 12!
Okay... still with me? Back to the embroidery.  I've decided to cover my improv double wedding ring in tons of hand embroidery. I am thrilled with the work so far. I know this is going to be a long, slow road. But sometimes you just gotta slow down and do the handwork.
cast on stitch. aren't those fun?
satin stitch (white) and tiny back stitches around the hearts
The right tools always help too. I just discovered these embroidery / milliner needles from Sue Spargo. The length is perfect... not too thick and very sharp. Makes each stitch so much easier because you have a lot more control with the longer needle.

So, while I stitch away this Superbowl Weekend... one Tom Brady will rule the gridiron. The other Tombrady will just rule the rug.

Jan 24, 2015

my 'improv' double wedding ring has a story and a purpose

The top for "My Improv Double Wedding Ring" is pieced. And this quilt has a story and a purpose!
First the story.

Teresa Duryea Wong - double wedding ring work in progress. 2015. Approximately 80 x 70 inches.
I was inspired by Japanese artist Keiko Goke's "My Double Wedding Ring" pictured below. And I wanted to make a quilt in her style. Like hers, mine is all improv --- meaning I did not use a pattern and the pieces were cut freehand. No rulers! I wanted it to look folk art and funky.

Keiko Goke. My Double Wedding Ring, 2008. 
Cotton: 88 x 87 in. (224 x 220 cm.) 
Machine pieced, hand embroidery, machine quilted
All of the fabrics I used were designed by Keiko Goke and made in Japan (with the exception of the wool centers and the border cotton.)  Her fabrics just spoke to me and I love the oddly bright colors and funky prints.

Next step is to add hand embroidery to the quilt top. Of course I could thread paint or embroider it on the machine, but it would not look the same. I'm going for a folk art feel... so I think it'll be kinda fun to take the slow train with this one and add that handmade touch.

And now the purpose.

This quilt will eventually become part of my small trunk show that I intend to take 'on the road' and display during my book tour events later this year and in 2016. I've been invited to speak to a few quilt guilds about my upcoming book: "Japanese Contemporary Quilts & Quilters." Here's a link to a description at Schiffer Books.

Keiko Goke is one of the dozens of talented artists featured in my new book.

Like so many quilt traditions that have influenced one culture or another, the double wedding ring is a pattern originally popular with American quiltmakers. For at least a century, these quilts were made and given as wedding gifts and its believed that sleeping under it would bring the couple good luck. Countless double wedding ring quilts have become treasured antiques and family heirlooms.

But my latest version of a double wedding ring is actually inspired by a Japanese artist who took this traditional pattern and made it her own. And now, I am emulating her style, proving that influence does indeed come full circle.

I actually made a traditional double wedding ring about 10 years ago. Hand quilted! Its one of my favorite traditional quilts, but I recall a great deal of stress about lining up every corner just right... and difficulty piecing all those curves. So, the chance to redo this pattern with a folk art - no rulers and no rules improv style - was a heck of a lot more fun than the first time around!

I just hope my newest wedding ring turns out to be as interesting as the back story!

Linking up with a few places.
Off the Wall Fridays
Freshly Pieced
and a few more to come

Jan 21, 2015

meet Kate Adams, Austin's favorite quilt curator

Kate Adams has a very cool job. She works in a building connected to the famous LBJ Library and she spends her days surrounded by American history - more specifically - American antique and vintage quilts.

Kate Adams, Quilt Curator, Briscoe Center for American History on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin.
Kate is the Quilt Curator for Briscoe Center of American History at the University of Texas, Austin. She is petite and soft spoken, with an impressive intellectual capacity, and more importantly, a vast curatorial vision for how to acquire and best use a major quilt collection.

The Briscoe Center houses some 400 quilts. Parts of this collection are available to researchers with an appointment, and that's how I was lucky enough to spend part of one very memorable day with Kate recently.

She joined the Briscoe Center in 1981 and has been a part of this institution in one form or another ever since. She actually retired at one point during this tenure, but the lure of the opportunity to touch history, and frankly the quilts themselves, drew her back once more.

The entire quilt holdings of the Briscoe Center are named The Winedale Quilt Collection.

Winedale is a tiny Texas community with a deep German-Texas heritage. Houston Philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg poured a lot of time and money into purchasing and restoring many of the historic homes and buildings in the town. Eventually, she began furnishing these homes with the intention of making them a showcase for the rich historical diversity of Texas. American furniture, artifacts and quilts quickly became a prominent features of these homes.

I can't show pictures of the quilts I was researching, which is completely understandable, but you can see images of each quilt in the Miss Ima Hogg Quilt Collection here. These date from 1780 - 1930! The photos are part of the Quilt Index - which if you've never been to this website, it is a vast and diverse collection of tens of thousands of quilt images.

What I appreciate the most about the vision that Kate and the Briscoe Center share is that the quilts they set out to collect and preserve represent quiltmakers of all types. While some are clearly masterpieces, many are not. Rather, the driving force of the Collection is to reflect the time and the history of our American culture. They are windows to our past, in some cases, created by ordinary people equipped with a needle and thread.

A case in point. The Winedale Collection includes 40 quilts that were made by Japanese and American quilters in response to 9/11. When a Japanese quiltmaker began talking with a Texas quiltmaker at International Quilt Festival following the 9/11 attacks, she knew she wanted to do something to reflect on this horrific event. She gathered her quilt friends in Japan and made a series of blocks. Later, these blocks were made into finished quilts by Texas quilters and these friendship quilts are now an integral part of the Winedale Collection and a poignant reflection of our shared history made by quilters from two very different continents and cultures.

The road between Houston and Austin is one I know quite well. Our daughter is a proud UT grad! But on this particular visit, as I pulled out of the famous LBJ Library parking lot, my mind was filled with all of the possibilities of how to bring to life the story of both our rich history and our shared heritage of quilting.

And frankly, the opportunity to travel this road once again to meet people like Kate (whom I've dubbed 'Austin's favorite quilt curator') who share this passion, well, life just doesn't get much better than that! 

Jan 13, 2015

a new start - an 'improv' double wedding ring

The fabric is here. The idea is settled. The pattern drawn. Only thing missing? Time to work!

Keiko Goke designs. Made in Japan by Yuwa.
I've started a new large art quilt - a double wedding ring made with no pattern, and limited use of the ruler - all 'improv' so to speak.  All of the fabrics are imported from Japan (purchased on Etsy at Fabric Party) and were designed by Keiko Goke --- she is one of the many talented artists featured in my upcoming book and I thought it would be fun to create a quilt in her style. 

The book pictured in the first photo is Keiko Goke's latest book in English. Last year I reviewed it here.
This is my inspiration!

Keiko Goke. My Double Wedding Ring, 2008. 
Cotton: 88 x 87 in. (224 x 220 cm.) 
Machine pieced, hand embroidery, machine quilted.
Here's a very rough pattern of the block. This is not really a template... I plan to freehand cut and sew, but I needed something to gauge whether the blocks were in the vicinity of the size I needed.

The center of each wedding ring block will be wool! I found these beautiful colorful cuts at my local quilt store. So happy with these selections.

More to come as I finish the blocks and piece this one together. 

Jan 1, 2015

new year, chance to hit the reset button

The blogosphere is alive with new year's wishes and goals. Isn't it great that somewhere along the human timeline we decided to start the year over on the first day of January each year? Somebody somewhere decided we needed this chance to step back, take stock and set the reset button. A do over. Or a do better!

With this post - which I recognize may interest only me - I'm adding my two cents to the noise. Laying out all my goals and aspirations for 2015. Well, most of them anyway.  And I'd LOVE to hear your goals for the new year. Hey, you might have a better idea that will inspire me and others.
So here it goes. My top ten list of stuff to do in 2015.

1. Scream loud with excitement when my new book actually reaches my two hands! Celebrate. Be Proud. Then get back to work.

2. Take that book on the road with a book-lecture tour to share what I've learned and seen in Japanese quilts with quilt guilds all over. I've booked about a dozen speaking events so far for 2015 and 2016, and can't wait to connect with others.

3. Go back to Japan. Connect with the great artists featured in my book and meet new ones.

4. Enter my Celtic Cross art quilt in the Sacred Threads juried competition.

5. Make progress on quilt-related book number two. This one will be a mammoth story... could take 1-2 years to research and write.

6. Put a proposal together for quilt-related book number three. This one will be fun and very visual. Not as much research, loaded with inspiration.

7. Enter the pattern making world. I once got a comment from a reader that my cow art quilt inspired her to start quilting! How amazing is that? Ever since then I have thought that that quilt (an original design) would make a great pattern for an intermediate / advanced quilter. I've never made a pattern to sell... and I kinda 'fly by the seat of my pants' when I make my own quilts. So it would be interesting to see if I would have the patience and diligence to clearly communicate how to make something, and then find the best way to commercialize it. Open to advice and guidance here!

8. Continue my wholesale tote bag business. (I make and sell custom quilted tote bags specially designed for needlepoint projects for a local needlepoint shop.)

9. Make more art quilts. Make more quilts. Make whatever comes to mind. And love every minute of it. You know... any day spent in the sewing room is way better than a day in some office!

10. And finally... shocking as it may seem, I am also working on yet another book. This one is not quilt related, but it is an epic story (non-fiction) and will take a lot of research and potentially two years to complete. This story will also require travel - at least two international trips, one being Japan. How wonderful is that? I believe this is a story I was meant to write.

I'm sharing all these goals for two reasons. First, I plan to come back in 12 months and see how much I actually accomplished. And when I hit the "blog to print button" to print out my blog in book form, I'll have the whole thought process documented.

Second, I've been in the habit of setting goals most of my life. I don't always wait for January 1st to do this... I'm constantly setting new goals, assessing where I am, and redirecting my energy to new goals. By laying out most of my business plan for all the world to see, though, I think this might help me stay on track and keep these big picture goals at the forefront.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind. What fun would it be if we didn't keep our options open?  :)

If you've read this far, bless you! Leave me a comment and let me know what your goals are this year. And thanks a million for reading along.