Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

I am in good health, but confined to my apartment under the COVID-19 restrictions. I am extremely grateful that I have my many interests to keep me occupied. If I had to narrow it down to the top three, I’d say making things (quilting, embroidery, sewing), reading and nature study are at the top of my list. No-one knows how long we’re going to have to hunker down in the hopes that the global pandemic will not get completely out of control. But I can tell you that I will not run out of fabric!

image of the "Expectation" wall quilt


I made two quilts last fall that were given as Christmas gifts to my two sons. “Expectation” is a small quilted portrait of my younger son’s apricot-coloured standard poodle, Paisley. If you look closely, you can see that I used a paisley fabric for her ear, as well as the “ground” fabric. I learned this fabric collage technique from Susan Carlson.

For my older son, I made a couch quilt using Anna Maria Horner’s “Feather Bed” pattern. I decided early on, as I constructed the feathers, that staying strictly within the red, orange, brown and yellow palette was too predictable, so I injected a bright blue, which is reminiscent of the blue patch on a mallard duck’s wing. I think that was a wise decision.





The health centre I wrote about previously finally opened, so I had the opportunity to go and see my “Reaching out for Strength Within“ quilt hanging there. I hope it inspires and uplifts those who see it.

Stay healthy and stay inside as much as you can, everyone!


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Unless you are a self-avowed curmudgen, you can’t help but admire these birds, and because I happen to have a free pass to one of their breeding grounds (Sauble Beach on Lake Huron), it was love at first sight for me.

Source: Why the Piping Plover is the ultimate emblem for World Shorebirds Day

Loving something, and then adapting it into a piece of textile art is another thing! But it’s a challenge that I welcome.

I used my own photographs of the plovers at the beach for guidance, and found fabrics that would convey the elements of the plovers’ habitat (lake, shoreline, beach grasses). The background is pieced, and the bird is machine appliqéd on top. You can see that I used a piece of driftwood as the hanging device.

I donated this piece to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory‘s silent auction fundraiser that year (2007).

If you’d like more information about the Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach, visit this website: http://ploverlovers.com/.

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About six years ago, I was fortunate to discover a small group of women in my community whose interest and obsession with making textile art equals my own. Each year since then we’ve managed to find a place in the neighbourhood to mount a display of our creations.

A few times it was a room in a church, several times a funny little vacant space on the side of a building (called “Side Space Gallery”), once in a café, and this year, in a yoga studio. The expansive white wall that spans the length of the studio was just begging to be lit up with our colourful creations.



We negotiated with the studio owner to have specific hours (around her classes) where people could come and see the exhibit, each weekend throughout the month of November.


A Patch of Stillness

This Saturday, we’ll be holding the opening reception for our show at the Studio for Movement.

A week ago, we met to “hang” the show. None of us knew what each other had created, so it was a bit like Christmas morning when we spread everything out on the floor to get an idea of what the collection looked like. Amazingly, it all came together beautifully. It’s astonishing how some of us, working independently, used similar colour palettes and themes in our work. This made it fairly easy to create groupings that complemented each other.

I worked pretty hard to get two new pieces finished (each participating artist is invited to submit two pieces) and was still stitching on the labels the day we hung the show!

A third piece I had brought along (Open Arms, aka Driven to Abstraction) turned out to be just the right size for one of the walls, so that means I have three pieces in the show!

Getting together with my artist friends to plan and execute these exhibits, on a shoestring, has proven to be a great catalyst for all of us to learn, laugh, experiment and share our art with the community.E_invite_2013

If you’re in the Toronto area, I invite you to come by and be inspired!

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colour combo inspiration

quilt colour combination inspires jewelry

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I have a couple (OK, maybe four) projects on the go, so I thought I would share one of my latest obsessions. Wanda Hanson inspires me on many levels, and I identify with her bold colour sense. Ever since I came across her blog,  which has only been a matter of a month or two, I have been following her daily updates. She’s one talented artist, and prolific, to say the least. I don’t know whether she has any “down” time at all.

cobblestones in progress on the design wall

my “cobblestones” in progress on the design wall

Here’s my take on Wanda’s “cobblestones” design, batik style, up on the design wall. I’m not quite finished with the arrangement, but it’s getting there. The process is simple, downright addictive, and for the most part, I am using scraps.

Last weekend, I took my folks for a drive north of the city to a small art gallery in Unionville – the Varley Art Gallery – to see an exhibit titled “Canada on Canvas”.

We discovered a modest exhibit in a rather tiny gallery, but there were a few pieces by relatively famous artists that I hadn’t seen before. In particular, pieces by two Canadian women – Emily Carr and Doris McCarthy – made an impression.

Home, by Doris McCarthy

Home, by Doris McCarthy

Ms McCarthy lived to 100 (1910 – 2010) and she lived and worked for many or most of those years atop the Scarborough bluffs, where I lived for a few years.

I can visualize her “Home” painting interpreted in fabric … inspiration for another day!

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I have finally managed to dedicate some time to writing this blog post, which is long overdue. Life has just been too busy these days (as the fall always is in my “day” job).

Since a about 2007, I’ve been part of a group of fabulous textile artists in my neighbourhood that has been organizing annual exhibits of our work in the community. However, it’s getting harder and harder to find a decent place to show our work. One of our members approached a local cafe, and the next thing we knew, we had wall space for the month of November!

So last weekend, we had our opening reception at Ellington’s Music & Cafe. Shelley’s talented friend, Steafan Hannigan, and his partner performed some lively, eclectic Irish music and kept the place hopping!

I wanted to share a bit of background on the creative process that brought my “houses” quilt to life.

I bought a cute little bundle of delicious shot cottons (fat eighths) at Greenwood Quiltery a few months ago (the one and only time I went there!), and just knew that I wanted to make houses out of them.

Way back in my subconscious, I had stored images of the colourful houses I’d seen in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but in the forefront of my consciousness, I had two current sources of inspiration. #1 – an illustration I’d cut out of the Globe & Mail Report on Business magazine; #2 – an image that I encounter every time I am sitting in a certain meeting room at work (daydreaming, and looking out the window!!).

Inspiration #1

Inspiration #2

#2 isn’t the best quality photo, but you get the idea … the angular shapes within shapes, carrying on almost infinitely. I played around with various ideas on paper, but the design wall became the best source of design inspiration.

Not too Close for Comfort

You have to look closely to see that the blue background fabric is not uniform (click on the image to enlarge). The top part represents a starry sky, whereas the bottom half is tone-on-tone fabric symbolizing earth, vegetation, growth, roots. A lot of the small pieces were random scraps from my scrap stash that I didn’t even trim.

It’s really liberating to follow your intuition and just start throwing things up on the design wall. I highly recommend it!

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I am pretty much always inspired by the natural world (except for spiders and centipedes). There is so much colour inspiration for example, in nature.


While camping recently, we were serenaded all weekend by the little ovenbird, which one of my bird guides describes as having a voice much louder than you would expect from such a small bird. This little guy has beautiful, subtle colouring.

tree lichen – colour study

Check out the colour combination in the photo above. This would be an interesting pallete to replicate in a quilt.

Scarlet Tanager

Now this fellow’s finery is certainly more flamboyant than the ovenbird’s!

And now, back to quilts!

detail – baby quilt

Here’s what I’m working on right now … just finishing the quilting and then all that’s left is the binding for this baby quilt. When it came time to think about how to quilt it, this time I didn’t allow myself to a) do the obvious quilt-in-the-ditch or b) over-think the design. I just basically went by instinct and started in the middle with the curved lines, and followed up with the diagonal parallel lines going outward from there. I’ll be sure to post a photo when it’s done.

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It’s been quite a while since I last blogged, and I’m not sure I can adequately explain or rationalize it. When I finished my latest quilt in February, I didn’t have another project lined up, waiting for me. I’ve been cruising through the last few weeks kinda jumping from one idea to another looking for inspiration.

First, I became infatuated with Zakka Style quilts, and have joined the sew-along. It’s just about impossible to keep up, though, with one project each week, so I am being selective and following along at my own pace.

My latest, a disappearing 9-patch quilt, tentatively called "Antidote to Winter Greys"

I deliberated over whether to enter the Guild’s Challenge, and decided in the end not to. The reason? I looked back on the last two or three times I entered, and I realized that the pieces that came out of those challenges, for the most part, weren’t my favourite pieces. It’s also a lot of pressure, which I do not need right now. My “day job” is extremely hectic these days, and I certainly don’t look forward to added stress during the weekends!

So besides dallying in the Zakka Style projects, I also got a book out of the Toronto Public Library called Carefree Quilts by Joy Lily. One of the projects has sucked me right in, because it’s a really unusual strip-pieced leaf block, and I’m a sucker for nature-themed patterns. Stay tuned …

Tomorrow, I will spend the day with one of my sisters, and my sister-in-law, sorting through my Mum’s sewing room. Mum’s 93, and she’s lost the capacity and interest to carry on quilting. It has taken us a while to come to terms with that, but the Guild’s upcoming Sewing Room sale has provided the impetus for us to get started on this daunting project. My Mum was a prolific quilter, and the driving force behind my interest, as well as being my best teacher. She’s still an inspiration.

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My sister and I were transported to 1880’s rural Ontario recently. Well, we drove to Fergus but once we got there, we were immersed in 1880’s culture at the Wellington County Museum & Archives. We were there specifically to see the exhibit of log cabin quilts. Some gorgeous examples in this collection, on display until May 25, 2012 and they were well displayed.

One of my favourites was made in the 1880s by a 12-year-old girl, Agnes Miller, from the vicinity of Clifford, Ontario. I kept saying to my sister – this looks so contemporary! The colour sense and the design really impressed me.

Agnes Miller's log cabin quilt - zig-zag pattern

The border of this quilt is dark red velvet. I can’t imagine creating something like this when I was 12 years old!

We also learned that this museum, a National Historic Site, was built in 1877 as a House of Industry and Refuge, which provided shelter for the “deserving poor,” the aged and the homeless.

My sister and I both adore log cabin quilts, so we came away with renewed appreciation for the talents of our quilting ancestors and lots of design inspiration. We highly recommend this exhibit!

close-up of Agnes's zig zag log cabin blocks

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The quilt show I’ve been talking about – Art for Body and Soul – is finally on, actually, today is the final day! I spent 5 hours there yesterday. My parents came, as well as my sister and sister-in-law. And my son (and his dog, Paris) also made a surprise visit from Ottawa.

The quilts did not disappoint! Colour, design, technique, artistry … so much inspiration. There are 236 quilts hanging, plus the finalists from our last two challenges (20 in total), so you really have to take your time to take it all in.

"There are always flowers, for those who want to see them"

We all tell ourselves that we don’t “need” more fabric or books, but we can’t deny that we “want” it, so there are 15 vendors to satisfy our “wants”.

The bed quilt shown here (one of the 2 quilts I displayed in the show) features machine appliqued flower motifs over a simple four-patch of contrasting paisley fabrics. The longarm machine quilting was done by Sandy Lindal. The title of this quilt is a quotation from Henri Matisse, which I felt fits my personality and outlook on life.

The show is still on, until 5 p.m. today!

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