florabunda! a blog hop

One of the really wonderful things about swimming in the pond I do (metaphorically speaking) is that I get to be friends with several fabric designers. When they have a new line coming out they have to provide samples for sales reps to show their work in action. The deadlines are usually impossible for one person alone to meet so the tribe steps in and shares the load…. or I should say we all PLAY together!


If you haven’t seen Melanie Testa’s latest line of fabric for RJR, you are in for a treat. I absolutely love her loose, organic designs. It makes me laugh just  bit because she works in such an incredibly precise and careful manner when she carves her printing blocks. She also always has purple and green, my favorite color combination.

Each day a different artist will be highlighted and RJR will be hosting a giveaway on it’s Instagram feed so be sure to follow them there.

Tiffany Hayes http://needleinahayesstack.blogspot.com June 7
Deborah Boschert http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com/ June 8
Sara Mika http://mockpiestudio.blogspot.com June 9
Lyric Kinard http://lyrickinard.com/lyric-kinard-blog/  June 10
Kathy York *http://aquamoonartquilts.blogspot.com  June 11
Teri Lucas https://terificreations.com June 11
Leslie Tucker Jenison *http://leslietuckerjenison.com June 12
Heidi Kelly http://www.hkellydesigns.com June 12
Jamie Fingal *http://jamiefingaldesigns.blogspot.com/ June 13
Debby Brown https://www.debbybrownquilts.comJune 14
Susan Brubaker Knapp *http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com June 14
Melanie Testa *http://www.melanietesta.com June 16 @MelanieTestaArtist

Work in Progress: How to Sew a Decorative Hanging Pocket

Progress on the Boro
Inspired by Melanie Testa’s Rockstar Boro project.
I got the zipper put in (the right way this time!), and the hem finished with a triple row of zig-zag to give it a little bit of a lettuce edge.
I put it on and decided the pocket that used to be a shirt pocket is too small to keep my phone from slipping out when I sit or walk. Time for a free hanging deep pocket. Decorative I think. Deep enough to hold my phone and keys. Free hanging so it won’t make the rest of the skirt bulge or get in the way of the swing. I really love clothing to swing and move when I do.
I sewed a triangular patch where I want the opening to be – you’ll see it in a minute. You can skip this step entirely if you want to make your own hanging pocket – or make a decorative patch in any shape your creative mind comes up with.
Next I placed the first pocket rectangle over it and sewed the opening shape. Again – this is a place to use your creativity. A rectangle is classic but how about a heart or an arrow? I made a smile.
Make sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of cloth (I didn’t) on either side of the opening. Also make sure the opening is at least as wide as your hand.
Slit and cut the inside of your opening – carefully go all the way to the corners.
Clip the seam allowances.

Trim the seam allowances if the fabric is thick and then turn it inside out.
Iron it so that you see just a bit of the outside fabric when you are looking at it from the backside.
Top stitch the opening if you’d like. You could also do some fancy decorative stitching here.
Pin on your second pocket rectangle.
Carefully sew all the way around the edge of the pocket. I sew from the back side of the pocket, pulling the skirt out of the way to make sure I don’t catch it. This is the tricky bit next to the opening that would have been easier if I had left more seam allowance.
(That’s my edge stitching foot – I was too lazy to take it off for this step.)
I finished the pocket edges the lazy way, turned them over and zig-zagged them. 
There’s the triangular patch on the front. I also sewed another line of stitching all the way across the top of that triangle, catching the top of the hanging pocket. That way and weight in the pocket will pull on the full skirt rather than just the pocket opening – which would make it sag out anyway.
More to come tomorrow.

More with Melly’s Meadowlark (and a giveaway winner…almost)

(scroll down to find out the winner of Melly’s fat stack giveaway!)

Last week we took a peek at some things I made for Melanie Testa’s booth space at the Quilt Market trade show to introduce her line of fabric for Windham. If you can’t wait to see who won the Fat Stack of her fabric scroll to the end right now! The same day I put together projects for her I decided to use the leftover cloth I had and make a purse to take with me on a trip I had. And yes, the trip was happening early the next morning and it was late in the evening when I decided to throw this thing together. I used to do this ALL the time.  (Make stuff the night before a trip that is.)


meadowlark_purse03And every time I do it’s an adventure. I needed a travel purse big enough for my iPad. My every day purse is really just a hanging pocket – just big enough for my keys, iPhone, and my important cards. When I travel I need something that will fit my camera, and now my iPad. My usual travel purse has a zip opening about half an inch too small to slide my iPad into it.

I’ve had the pattern for Linda Ghee’s Bellino Purse (you can take a look at it here) ever since I met her somewhere I was teaching. Nope – don’t remember which where it was. She is a delightful person and I LOVE this bag! I vaguely remember her driving me somewhere (this could all be completely wrong in my head) and her letting me completely root through her purse as I examined the inside as closely as the outside.

I really love shoulder bags that convert into backpacks. My bones are getting old enough that they hurt with all the weight on one shoulder. I also love the adjustable straps to it can be long for an over the shoulder bag or shortened so the weight just hits the small of my back when it’s worn back-pack style.

I decided the medium bag would suit my needs well enough and sat down at my HQ16 and super quick quilted the lovely toile looking cloth to a backing. I do mean super quick. It’s just straightish lines back and forth at top speed – which on the HQ16 is fast!

IMG_9410I found this super funky lime green flower pin in my closet as I was taking photos and trying to stag them. I’ve decided it’s staying. I’ve also decided I’m better at playing with my photos than staging. (The magic straps in the air were really held up with hot pink shoelaces which I then erased with an app called Touch ReTouch.)

The funny part of the story is that it’s been about 8 years since I’ve followed a pattern. With clothing I can usually look at the pieces and choose how to put it together.

meadowlark_purse1Don’t get freaked out by that – it comes with having put together lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of sewing patterns. This was my first time following a purse pattern though and this things has three interior pockets and a zippered back pocket as well as the one you see in the front. I had to THINK about the construction. And it was late at night. And every time I got ahead of myself and thought I knew what I was doing I’d sew in a pocket upside down. It really does go together win a very clever way and the instructions are not difficult. It was just me and my brain late at night that got a little loopy.

So nearing midnight (with a 4am wake time for the next morning’s flight) I stitched the final stitch and triumphantly zipped up the main zipper – only to watch the zip/pull go sailing across the room.

meadowlark_purse4I must admit I shouted something loud enough that my husband came running down to see what was wrong. No – I didn’t swear – but I wanted to. I’ve repaired zips before. I also knew I could unsew and resew the other end. Except that I sewed the other end REALLY, REALLY good and tight and it was late. So I just snipped a few teeth, ignored the hole I poked in the cloth, and was really careful about opening my zipper on that trip. I have to admit that I zipped it right off again (and fixed it again) the next morning. When I got home I finally remembered to sew in some zipper stops on BOTH ends of that wonderfully chunky purple zipper. (Oh – the hardware and zippers can also be purchased at Ghee’s website.)

And finally, congratulations to Denise Spillane who wins a fat pack, one 10″ square of ALL 26 of Melly’s fabrics! If you love what you see here ask your local shop to order the line! (Meadowlark by Windham!)



meadowlark blog hop and giveaway

Welcome to a wonderful blog hop celebrating Melanie Testa’s first line of fabric for Windham


IMG_9147I already wrote about the sweet little table runner I made as part of Melanie’s sample team. She needed to fill a booth quickly with projects made from her line of fabric. How lucky are we to be able to play with her fabric!? I also put together a little set of nesting boxes in which she could hold things for display.

IMG_9226Here is the littlest.
The boxes were made using Pellon Peltex – a super stiff fusible craft interfacing.

IMG_9231And here is the biggest – using a leftover bit from the table runner.

IMG_9230This one has a bit of fancy on the inside too.

IMG_9228All four sitting so sweetly snug together.

Windham_booth_3And here is a picture of the crazy abundance of beauty that was just one small bit of Melly’s booth at the Quilt Market trade show!
(The picture is Melly’s – go check out her Market videos – in a minute!)

IMG_3157Off they all went for display and as is the usual in my schedule, off I went to another teaching gig. Only THIS time I did something that I haven’t done in years. Started a project for the trip the night before I left.  I’ll write all about that next week when I announce the winner of the following giveaway. Believe me – it’s a funny story! Here is a peek at the project and yes, I couldn’t help myself. I had to “play photos” first and run it through a couple of apps to make it all funky looking. I’ll post big clear pictures next Monday June 15th.

One of you lucky blog readers is going to have the chance to win a fat pack of the entire collection – that’s 26 10″ pieces! 

All you have to do for a chance to win is to leave a comment on this blog post between now and Thursday, June 12th.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner and announce it here on my blog on Friday June 13th.  Good luck!

(update – Denise Spillane is our winner. Congratulations!!!)


There’s a lot more stops and chances to win a fat pack stack on the blog hop.  You can stop by and leave a comment on each blog and have that many more chances to win.

Melanie Testa  –June 2
Vivien Zepf –June 2
Chrissie D –June 3
Sue Bleiweiss –June 4
Leslie Tucker Jenison –June 5
Jamie Fingal –June 6
Lyric Kinard –June 7
Jen Eskridge –June 8
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun –June 8
Stephanie Forsyth –June 9
Victoria Findlay Wolfe –June 10
Teri Lucas – June 11
Scott Hansen –June 12
Helen Eckard –June 12

In fact, when the blog hop is over, the blog with the most comments will also be able to draw an extra name to win a copy of Melanie’s book, Dreaming from the Journal Page. (It’s one of my favorites!) And if you love what you see – stop by your local quilt shop and ask them to order Windham Fabric’s Meadowlark line!


new work – melanie testa’s fabric line

Sometimes dreams come true.
Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work!

Melanie Testa has dreamed for years of having her own line of fabric and now she’s done it. She has worked like crazy for the past year and made it happen. Spring Quilt Market just happened. Manufacturers and designers come together and show off  their stuff to the quilt shops and Melly needed a whole booth full of stuff made out of her fabric to display.


Well – what are friends for!?
Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play with this gorgeous stuff? This is a simple fused table runner, satin stitched over the raw edges with a layer of batting in between.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog hop and giveaway featuring projects made with Melly’s fabric.

Melly Testa – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison – June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8 (guest post)
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen – June 12 
Helen Eckard – June 12 (guest post)

just for fun – a sneak peak at quilt market….

I got to play with something fun a few weeks ago. Shhhh! It’s a secret.

Take a look at Melanie Testa’s video and see if you can guess which two projects I made to help Melanie Testa fill a booth with fabulous things made from her new line of fabric!

Stay tuned, in a few weeks we are going to have a wonderful blog hop and giveaway! You won’t want to miss it.

Melly Testa – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison – June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8 (guest post)
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen – June 12 
Helen Eckard – June 12 (guest post)


Meadowlark Blog Hop Image

Book Review and Giveaway: Dreaming from the Journal Page

home_dreaming_bookI know I’m late – it’s been busy. I really didn’t want to throw this last giveaway up without a true and proper book review because  Melanie Testa’s book, Dreaming from the Journal Page, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. She is a talented artist and a gentle soul with a rock hard core of strength and resilience that inspires me. I first met her several years ago and you can read my series of interviews with her here.

photo 2-1I have two copies of her book or there is no way I’d be giving this pretty thing up. It’s very exciting to me that I have one to share because I hope you will love it as much as I do. Dreaming from the Journal Page is a beautiful blend of technique and inspiration for those of us who explore more than one medium.

Both her work on paper and in cloth is deeply textured and layered but manages to retain a clean simplicity  and purity of focus. I have always loved her deep connection to her subject matter and her love of decorative forms. This book is a look into Ms. Testa’s process and gives one a glimpse of her work that leaves you feeling uplifted.

photo 1-12Melanie guides you through a basic understanding of some of her favorite materials and techniques. She introduces the reader to basic information on paper, brushes, paints, glues, and gives you the instruction, “Your job is to experiment and learn the qualities of each so that you can pair a technique with a planned outcome.” Then she gives you a detailed chart of which techniques might work well with which materials. Chapter 2 guides you through an exploration of color with different media such as collage, watercolors, and dyes. I find her challenges and prompts to be well thought out – giving enough instruction that the reader will not feel lost but leaving room for playfulness.

photo 3-11

The third chapter runs through myriad techniques such as soy wax resist for dye, and frisket resist for watercolors. She talks about solid grounds and gradations, stamps and stencils. There isn’t anything new and earth shattering in this chapter, just good, solid basic information – well written and sumptuously illustrated.

photo 2-1

My favorite chapters are in the back of the book with page after page from her journals, her textile art, and even some more low key projects such as t-shirts and pillows. I can spend hours looking into the layers of her creations and always come away happier and with a desire to create something beautiful myself.


Knowing that she wrote this book throughout her cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process makes it all the more amazing. You can read more about Melanie on her website/blog at http://melanietesta.com.


I can’t wait to give this lovely book to one of you! I hope it will be as inspiring to you as it is to me. Please leave a comment for your chance to win. Do you have any stories about art and healing in your own life? What do you think art is for? Why do you create art?

I’ll draw a winner next Sunday June 9th. If you absolutely can’t wait I highly encourage you to go ahead and purchase the book! If you really want to support the artist buy it directly from her (signed) here!




Work In Progress: Rockstar Boro Skirt

More progress on the boro inspired skirt.
I’ve sewn down dyed vintage laces to cover the raw seams but haven’t embroidered them yet.
At my current pace this project is going to be ongoing for years….. and years.
skirt front view – Lyric Kinard

 If you missed it – Melanie Testa inspired this project with a more true to form Boro project of her own.

If you haven’t seen her new website yet – go check it out. It’s GORGEOUS!
skirt back view – Lyric Kinard
 This will eventually be partially covered by more embroidery. I’m thinking this whole skirt will be a continual embroidered travel journal… which means the Disney Castle should show up next.
Here is a link to the previous progress posts for this project.
(I love alliteration – don’t you?)

guest tutorial: Melanie Testa makes …

My good friend and fellow artist Melanie Testa is currently a vagabond blogger. Sad for her – lucky for us. We wish her blog a very speedy recovery. In the meantime today I have the great good pleasure of hosting her fabulous

Artspark heARTfest tutorial

 Here she goes…..

If you haven’t noticed, I am having blog troubles, yup! it is totally broken! But that doesn’t mean I don’t have fabulous friends that don’t want to help  blogless girl out! And don’t worry, I will have a new blog and web site soon. So let’s all thank Lyric for helping me bring a Tute Toot Tutorial to you for our Heartfelt Blog Hop.

When I was a girl, I loved going to the pharmacy around Valentine’s Day to purchase a plastic wrapped box of Valentines. They would come with little envelopes and need to be torn down to size along perforated edges. This was so very exciting to do, and going home to make an envelope out to each person in my class was excitement beyond measure! So I present a tutorial using stamps, sweet imagery and perforated edges.
You will need:
Paper to print on
Sticky back fun foam
Exacto knife
Tracing paper
Stamp pads
plastic ruler

Fun foam is the way to go, create a stamp (or 4) that fits your valentine design. My valentine’s are 2×3”, so my stamps fit within this size. I drew my design on tissue and rubbed it onto the foam.
Cut your design. 
Peel the backing off the fun foam and adhere to acetate or a backing of your choice. I put my tracing paper wrong side up underneath my acetate.
Pencil in a grid to size and begin printing your stamps, using stamp pads, within the grid.
Using the Pattern Wheel and plastic ruler, perforate your design along the penciled grid.
Fold and tear your valentine’s apart.
Write a special message on the back of your design and start giving your special Valentine’s to your best friends, buddies and and of course, your most cherished loved one(s)! 

Work in Progress: Rockstar Boro

Beautiful Boro and education at KimonoBoy.com
Japanese Boro is a form of patchwork repair, a method for using every scrap of precious cloth and keeping your clothing functional over many, many, years. It was a necessity – not an artistic choice.
I think my Boro project is much more in the spirit of Boro, rather than following the actual design esthetics. I think it’s a beautiful idea. Even though I do my best not to subscribe to our culture’s rampant consumerism, I find myself being wasteful more often than not. I’m seriously considering a clothing moratorium for an entire year. I certainly have more than enough clothes. I also have many, many projects I’ve wanted to make – and the fabric to make them.

So. I have quite a collection of old linens and lace scraps – other people’s cast-offs. Some of them are exquisite hand made pieces that I can only imagine creating. 
Many of them are deteriorating, no longer useful in their original form. I’ve dyed them and now a few choice pieces will add color and shape to my wearable “canvas.” 
It’s no different than making a sketch or any other work of art. It’s all about composition. I have to choose shapes and colors and think about placement.
If I use a contrasting color it might become a focal point. It’s very important in wearable art to consider the placement of a focal point or any attention grabbing element. There are places you don’t want people to stare when they are looking at your body right?
Boro beginnings by Lyric Kinard
And to reference Melanie Testa, the inspiration for this project, I’ve stitched a little bird inspired by some of her artwork. Literally – sketching with needle and thread.

Joy in Service: Day 6 Thank a Worker

The invisible ones.
The guys who pick up your garbage. The custodian who cleans up the school. The bus driver. The kid who gathers the grocery carts. Your mail carrier.
What ideas do you have for ways to thank them. I’m thinking of standing out when our garbage truck driver comes through and handing him a gift. They drive by in the big robot trucks so the driver doesn’t usually get out of the truck… I’d have to get his attention some how. We love the robot truck. We run to the window to watch the arms reach out and grab the bin and lift it up so high to dump it into the truck! I think I might still run to the window to watch even without kids.

Boro Project by Lyric Kinard

I’ve been mentioning this to so people as I’m out in different places and it’s so much fun to see them think of little ideas they can do to make someone feel better. I did stop and say thank you to the secretary at my kidlet’s school, and told her how great she looked. I didn’t leave myself enough time to give a gift. I did some quick shopping later and instead of just picking up teacher gifts, I picked up extras for the bus driver, the secretary, and the custodians. They need the lift as much as the teachers do.

But I feel bad for one thing. I was rotten grouchy after some worse than usual “homework fights” with the kids last night and after they went to bed I went to the grocery store. I smiled and asked one girl who was stocking shelves how she was and she said “tired.” I smiled and said “tired too.” I wish, wish, wish, I had a little gift… a flower, anything, to give her. Or maybe I should have just knelt down next to her and given her a very quick hug and told her thank you for what she does. Now I know what to do next time.

And here is the progress on my Boro project. One more gore in the skirt, a zipper and a hems and then some of the real fun begins. I think I might raid my stash of hand dyed lace. I like the idea of embroidering stories into the cloth as Melly does.

Please tell me what you did to make the world a better place today!
It’s not bragging – it’s giving me ideas for what I can do.
It’s inspiring others to look outward.
There is nothing that makes one feel better than helping someone else.
And I’m having so much fun sending little thank-you gifts from my studio. Mostly some lovely Quilting Arts magazines that I need to clear out, but a few other things here and there.

Joy in Service – Day 5 upcycle something

Yesterday you did so many lovely things. Knitted prayer shawls and caps for soldiers, gave compliments, coffee cozies and desert choices to both strangers and loved ones. I offered a ride to a friend and fed a couple of hungry young missionaries who were far from home. I sat next to someone looking alone. 
Gene Black is making and collecting lap quilts for a youth center. Do you have one you can ship off?
Today I’m officially joining Melanie Testa in her Rockstar Boro project.
Look here to learn more about this beautiful japanese upcycling art form.
I’ve had this stack of old linen shirts – cut up and laying over the back of my studio chair for months. I’ll start there and work out a skirt. I know it’s not exactly following the Boro esthetic of appliquéing onto existing garments…. but I’ll get there.
First this had to come off Brunhilda, my duct-tpe-double. I’ve enjoyed remembering my fabulous sisters every time I glanced over to it’s colorful corner. (really, you’ve got to go check us out…you’ll smile!)
This is the progress so far in the first quick hour.
After I get back from lunch and center time at kidlet5’s school I’ll sew a few more bits together. I think I’ll take something (who knows what) as a little surprise giftie for the front office secretary.
Tell me what you did today!

Artspark Winter Tutorial Day 5

You’re going to love Traci Bunker’s video tutorial!

Melanie Testa has had some technical difficulties and her tutorial will be up some time tomorrow.

ARTSPARK Giveaway Day 10!

Today it's Melanie Testa's turn
You can click HERE to read an interview I did with Melanie way back when.
Or HERE to read a review of her book.
You could win both if you leave a comment on Melanie's blog!

Last chance!
Hurry to each of these blogs and leave a comment on the giveaway post in order to win!

Wed August 10 Carla Sonhiem http://carlasonheim.wordpress.com/
Thurs August 11 Diana Trout http://dianatrout.typepad.com/blog/
Fri August 12 Gloria Hansen http://www.gloriahansen.com/weblog/
Sat August 13 Tracie Lyn Huskamp http://thereddoor-studio.blogspot.com/
Sun August 14 Jane LaFazio http://JaneVille.blogspot.com
Mon August 15 Jill Berry http://jillberrydesign.com/blog/
Tues August 16 Judy Coates Perez http://judyperez.blogspot.com
Wed August 17 Kelli Nina Perkins http://ephemeralalchemy.blogspot.com/
Thurs August 18 Lyric Kinard http://lyrickinard.blogspot.com/
Fri August 19 Melanie Testa http://www.melanietesta.com/mtype/

The Sketchbook Challenge: prepping a book

I’m excited about the Sketchbook Challenge. I’ve always used my sketchbooks as a learning tool and a reference library. If it doesn’t go down onto a page of my ubiquitous little black sketchbook – the idea most often disappears somewhere out in the ether. These little black books will never go away.
But this is a challenge right? I don’t expect to create a masterpiece – but I’ve been in love with Melanie Testa’s visual journals since the first time I saw them that I’m inspired to take a step in that direction this year. I’m going to play. I’m going to experiment. I’m going to strive for beauty. Take a look at the first step I’m taking.

Join me. Join us!
Go over to the Sketchbook Challenge blog and “follow” it.
Sign in to the Flickr group.
(If you’ve seen the muppet named Rizzo the Rat say that – say it in his voice!)
You won’t believe all the exciting goodies that our sponsors are offering for the giveaways.

Art Spark Tutorial Tsunami (part 1)

Same fabulous tutorials have been posted by members of ArtSpark!
Jane LaFazio
Layered Journal Page
Melanie Testa
Fun Foam Stamps
Part 2 comes tomorrow so check back soon!a

New York New York… it’s a wonderful town!

I’ve been wanting to visit New York City for a while now. I’ve had the opportunity but never felt like dragging the kids along for the ride. It seemed like more of an adventure for grown ups. The past few days after paying my dues (I watched my brother’s kids in Philly then he watched mine) I got the chance to take a quick overnight trip into the city.
The lovely and talented Melanie Testa and I spent two days walking and playing and having, in general, a fantastic New York experience! Here she is getting ready to unwrap a tasty lunch packet we got at the Japanese store. Oh, my – a whole floor of books. A floor of stuff including office and art supplies and a cafe on the top floor. Check out this lovely pen that Melanie had me try out – refillable ink cartridges and an actual brush tip – bristles and everything. Naturally I had to come home with one. The lunch packets were rice with spicy cod roe, wrapped in seaweed. Of course it took an engineer to open the thing. There was plastic between the rice and the seaweed as well as the on the outside and if you opened it just right then it all lands together in a lovely packet. (No – neither one of us got it quite right but they were delicious anyway!
Our first stop was Central Park and the Zoo. It’s the tiniest zoo I’ve ever seen but it was lovely. We truly enjoyed the tropical house with lemurs and birds and a few reptiles here and there. 
Check out these legs. Coming from a woman who loves, loves, loves crazy socks, this was my favorite shot of the morning.
We traipsed up through the park to the Met, but had forgotten that it was closed on Mondays so we simply walked west a while then hopped onto the subway and would our way to Melanie’s lovely (tiny) apartment and studio. I must say she has made the best  of her situation. She’s very organized and everything had a space. I’ll not complain about my studio any more. Hers is the size of my closet. Literally.
Day two and we went to Spring Studio in SOHO. It’s just a basement room but they have life drawing sessions two to three times every day!!! We spent a full three hours drawing two, five, ten, and twenty minute poses. (I think this is a five minute pose.)

What a fun opportunity – not having had the opportunity to take life drawing courses in college. It was three hours of drawing – sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating – but a wonderful chance to learn.

Next it was more subways, more walking, more quick stops into churches, shops, (even a quilt shop), and elegant train stations with beautiful constellations on the ceiling.

We ate our lunch outside of Melanie’s Alma Matter, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the popped in to their gallery to view their current exhibit, Eco-Fashion: Going Green. I found it quite interesting to see how they fit some of their historical collections into the theme, as well as spotlighting some very forward thinking current designers.

One of the big impressions I’ll take from the city is the interaction of so many people sharing the same space. Standing together on the subway. Making way on the sidewalk. Enjoying a pleasant sunny day.

People going places and doing things. So many all together in one place. And guess what. They weren’t rude or all dressed in black. Just as many people smiled and were helpful as in any other place I’ve been. Guess what? I love New York! Two thumbs up. 

Just remember to bring very comfortable walking shoes, be prepared for adventure, and just soak in the humanity, the art, the environment and all the wonderfulness in its colorful and myriad forms when you visit. NYC will definitely be seeing me again.

Tutorial Links

Here’s a quick recap of Art Spark’s Tutorial Tsunami. To make things easier for you as well, I’ve added a new page link to the top of this blog where you can find links to all the tutorials that will be posted here.
Alisa Burke’s Altered Striped Tank
Judy Coates Perez’ Printed Tea Bags

Gloria Hansen’s Painted Shibori

Tracie Lyn Huskamp – Nature Inspired Greeting Card

Lyric Kinard’s Painted Shoes

Jane LaFazio’s machine felting tutorial

Kelli Nina Perkins – Spoon Poetry

Diana Trout’s Sumi Smoosh

Alma Stoller’s Recycled Magazine Pages

Melanie Testa’s Cloth to Headband

Carrying Cases

I was inspired by Melanie Testa’s sweet little pen case tutorial.
I had a scrap of fun screen printed fabric laying about and found some scrap batting.
A little linear free motion quilting in a few thread colors and viola!
Now I get to carry around one of my favorite vintage buttons and my pens can travel in style.
 I had a few other things laying about that needed travel cases.
I keep penny whistles and my recorder in the same turnabout desk organizer that I keep my scissors in.
Sometimes I take a little break and drive my family nuts with some whistling.
My poor little laptop is in the shop. It is a very good thing.
I waste far too much time online and now I’m diddling about in the studio instead.

Artist Spotlight part 3: Melanie Testa – process

The past two weeks I’ve enjoyed introducing you to a favorite artist of mine, Melanie Testa. Today I’d like to introduce you to her artwork. Together we’ll learn a little more about her process.

Lyric: I’ve seen just a bit of your visual journaling and it is just as lovely as your artwork. How do sketching and drawing help you in your textile work? Why did you choose textiles rather than a more traditional media?
Melanie: My journals are so import to me that I can’t imagine not keeping them. I draw inspiration for stamps, marks, actual artwork, they help me to remain focused creatively. Just today, I met up with a friend and we went to the Met to draw, I feel so alive when I am looking at and evaluating what I see. When the line looks like what I am trying to draw, it is such a thrill. I can’t take that for granted! But even though I utilize my journals and sometimes even share them when I write articles, the journals are private, they feel intensely personal to me.
As for why I work in cloth? I could not have it any other way. I just tried to imagine myself as an oil painter. I need the ragged edge, the dye, the stamps, the sewing machine.

L: I am fascinated by your juxtaposition of symbols and words with imagery from nature. How do you go about choosing which images to combine? How did you come upon the process of layering images with sheers?

M: Working with sheers came about as a result of journaling. I came to a place where I found my journals held more artistic focus and intention than my quilt art, but my quilt art was more important to me! So I evaluated the difference in approach and technique. I had been using tracing paper in my journals, I would trace a drawing from one page onto tracing paper, paint around and over the tracing, then glue that onto another painted page. The transparency is what held sway. So I figured out cloth equivalents to my favorite techniques. Silk organza became tracing paper and could be dyed with Procion MX dyes.
I started using words in my art because I was working with a man who used words in his paintings but I could not stand how he did it! I started using text and symbols because I knew there had to be a better approach. The words ought to merge with and become one with the piece almost as though in pentimento. As for using nature in my work, I find great solace in all things natural. 
L: Do you work from a plan or do you improvise as you go?
M: I like to plan loosely. Right now I just started a series if 20 Common Birds in Decline. I am working on an image of an Evening Grosbeak. the drawing of the bird needs to be perfected before I begin because the artwork is only as good as your original drawing. But the background and the collaged elements are not in the original drawing. I like to leave as much as possible to chance.
L: What is it about birds that draws you to use them so much in your artwork?

M: When I was a girl, I wanted to be a bird, to be able to flit, watch and leave by taking flight! I began bonding with birds when I was a teenager, my father had bought a bird feeder and a Roger Torey Peterson identification book and we began putting names to shapes and colorings. As an adult, I started keeping my own feeder, then bought binoculars, and now study and read all I can. Right now, I am an armchair bird watcher! Simply? The shiny sparkle of light in a birds eye bowls me over, I can’t resist it. 
L: Your use of stitching is so well integrated into the composition of your work. Do you begin with your stitched lines in mind or do those ideas come afterwards.
M: I do loosely plan the images used in my work. As I print, paint and stamp, ideas will float past and reveal themselves, but it is only when I get to the sewing machine that I can listen to and enact a plan for the stitch.
L: If you went to a desert island for a week and could only take a shoebox of art supplies, what would it contain?
My backpack is about the size of a shoebox and often contains, scrap, batting, needles, thread, embroidery floss and beads, a journal and a small box of paints, one pencil, two pens (Pilot t500 and a Pentel Pocketbrush) and a niji water brush. My wallet can be left behind to accommodate more cloth, perferably hand dyed dupioni, my current cloth crush. 🙂
So dear readers, are you as in love with Melly’s work as I am? Her process fascinates me and I’ve enjoyed studying it and sharing with with you.
I’ve finished the 5×7 piece from the ginkgo fabric that Melanie sent to me. Next week I’ll tally up all of the comments on the four posts featuring her. Yes, you can leave a comment on each post and be counted four times!

I’ll throw the lot into a random number generator (or have one of the kidlets shout out a number between so and so) and the lucky winner will be sent this lovely little piece of art. It is 5×7 and made with the beautiful piece of organza printed by Melanie. I do believe that she is posting the piece she made with the fabric I sent her on her blog this week as well.

Artist Spotlight part 2: Inspired to Quilt

I told you last week how much I admired Melanie Testa as an artist and as a friend. This week I want to introduce you to her book, “Inspired To Quilt.” The title is appropriate as her book is truly inspiring.

I purchased my copy from her at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last October and spent a lovely and very early morning flight home perusing it. I blogged about that morning here. That page also shows a little sketch copied out of her book.
In the interest of full disclosure, Melanie and I were both contracted to write our books through Quilting Arts at about the same time. Now the gushing – I must say that the books they have put out recently through Interweave Press are beautifully laid out. I love, love, love the layout and the general lush and beautiful look of “Inspired To Quilt.”
Now I’m one of those people who will get completely involved in the imagery of a book like this. I “read’ my magazines by flipping through from the back and absorbing the pictures. I love good photography and great layouts and graphic design. And I am completely enchanted by Melanie’s artwork.
Let me tell you now about some of the more in-depth reasons why I love this book and think you will too. Melanie’s gentle and encouraging nature comes shining through in her writing. (Yes, I DID finally read it.) I love that she urges the reader to experiment and play as they try out each of the  processes in this technique oriented book.

There are step by step instructions for working with dye, for printmaking, stamping, stenciling, and dye painting. Melanie walks you through her process one layer and page at a time. She shows you how she begins with sketched ideas, creates layers of cloth and imagery in cottons and sheers and stitching. You are carefully guided through her construction process as images are built and cloth is added and taken away and embellished until the composition is completed. She goes even further to the back of the textile art, explaining finishing techniques and edge finishes.
If you are a project person there is something in “Inspired To Quilt” for you too. I think Melanie’s Pretty Purses are absolutely sweet. Other projects include a Sewing Holster, Merit Badges, and Artists Trading Cards.
So, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of this book. Take a look at the Inspired to Quilt FaceBook Fan Page to read an ongoing discussion about the book and to join in reader challenges.  
And finally, remember that both Melaine and I are working on a textile postcard to give away to lucky commenters on our blogs. She is introducing me to her readers on her blog if you want to pop over and say hello there too.  Any comments on my posts that feature Melanie are eligible for the drawingso go back and leave a comment for last week and pop in the next two weeks as well.

Do you want to hear something amazing? We both sent each other dyed and printed fabric – without telling each other what it was and guess what!?! We both sent fabric printed with the SAME thing – ginkgo leaves. Now THAT is serendipity!
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