Well, my blog has suffered while I made the transition from Fairfax in Northern Virginia to Bedford here in the South-west corner of the state.. Little Old Lady Quilting Studio is Officially OPEN now.
I had my Grand Opening of the Studio on March 31, 2018. 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM. I had an unexpected turn out of over 300 people come through the Studio in one day. I sold some of my favorite pieces. I got several nice commissions. And I got several quilt tops to finish on Ruby ( my HQ Avante 18″ long arm Sewing Machine.) So I consider it a very successful opening, as well as a great start to my business life in the community here.
The day after the Grand Opening of Little Old Lady Quilting Studio, I hung a solo show as Featured Artist at the Electric Company Art & More in Down ton Bedford. Needless to say that was indeed a whirlwind weekend and month. The show came done on April 27 and I immediately ( s in that night) set up for a one day Art Market called the Maker’s Brunch sponsored by The Bower Center for the Arts. It was a great day of meeting people in Bedford and getting my name out there as a local long arm quilter, and showing some of my thread art.
The month since then has been spent creating and finishing a number of quilts for my clients, and working on commissioned thread art pieces. That and still doing upgrade work on the Studio and cabin, and beginning to do some landscaping to make the outside of the Studio as beautiful as the inside.
So life is beginning to settle into something resembling normal routines here now. I am so happy to be here and to be creating art work full time here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Bedford, Virginia. Y’all stop by and say hello anytime!
I officially moved to Bedford Jan 15, 2018. I’m still splitting my time between Little Old Lady Quilting Studio and our home in Fairfax where my husband is still living and working. I feel a little like Cinderella, or like I’ve died and gone to heaven!
I have not kept up with this blog on a daily basis as I hoped, but only because I have been so focused on getting all the things done that need to be ready to open my business officially at the Grand Opening scheduled for March 31, 2018.
One of the things that attracted me originally to the place was the two seperate buildings on property adjacent Route 43 ( Peaks road) the major thoroughfare between the Blue Ridge Parkway , the Peaks of Otter Lodge, and beautiful historical downtown Bedford, Va. We could live in the single family unit to the left, and I could have a 900 sq ft studio /gallery to the right. All of it is Handicapped accessible. (I have “spine issues” and will be in a wheelchair eventually so it is good to plan ahead!) Plus the property had already BEEN a craft and gift shop and was known for such in the community.
Of course, as with any old home, there are going to be a lot of little things that need to be fixed to bring it up to date and to make it work for one’s current needs. Even with a complete inspection before we purchased the property here, we were surprised by a few things that have added significantly to the expenses of getting the Little Old Lady Quilting Studio ready to open.
The inspector mentioned a few boards in the handicapped walkways that lead into the buildings that “were not 100% sound and may need to be replaced.” BUT… it turned out (after I fell through one of them) that they are almost all rotten throughout and the entire walkway and deck needs to be rebuilt. $$$ This has to be done before I can open the business to the public.
It also turns out according to our many friendly neighbors, the property had been sitting empty much longer than we were told by the real estate agents. Our first order of business was to deal with the MASSIVE Stink-bug invasion. This has been an ongoing issues with treatments every couple of weeks. EVENTUALLY they will go back outside and we will be able to seal up as many of the escape routes as possible. The Stink-bugs are just a fact of life here in the county. They can be dealt with… one day at a time.
The next unexpected issues was major…. under the studio crawl space ( which the inspector cursuri looked at but did not really inspect) turns out that there was water damage that lead to major mold and fungus problems. We had to remediate and encapsulate that plus add in a dehumidifier system in order to be safe for myself and clients in the building. Turns out there is also a fungal problem in the living cabin and so they will have to spray and treat that in the coming weeks as well.
In spite of these major expenses and setbacks, this is STILL the most perfect place we could have found for Little Old Lady Quilting.
I have been able to get into the studio and create a lot. I have been working to build my inventory of thread painting and artwork as well as home decor items.
I’ve also been showing (and selling) my work at the little gallery in town — The Electric Company Art & More located at 207 E Depot Street in Bedford, VA . I currently have several pieces in the 4th annual Curry/Bower Exhibit at the Bower Center for the Arts (and sold one of them!)
I am about to Open Little Old Lady Quilting Studio to the Public with a Grand Opening March 31, 2018 11:00 am until 3:00 PM
I am also slated to be the Featured Artist for April in a solo Show of my new works at The Electric Company Art & More. I have created a new series of Wall Hangings especially for this show which is entitled Blue Ridge Visions. Each is 24″ x 9″ and based on nature images of the Blue Ridge area I love so much here in Bedford.
I am now a member of the Bedford Artisan Trail Network and the Virginia Artisan Trail. Very excited for the opportunities this provides me to market and reach out to the arts community here as well.
And so, life is moving ahead. I am incredibly grateful for every opportunity here, for the beauty of nature I am surrounded with, for this gift of time to make art and build a business and life here in the area I love so much!
I began my visual art career as a painter mainly creating landscapes using oil Pastels. I loved the texture and the ways you could blend them (and the vibrant colors available.)
What I didn’t really like about painting was that a viewer can not touch it, feel it, explore it. I branched out into silk wall paintings that became quilted tapestries. From there explored traditional quilting techniques, and finally have landed in my niche as a art quilter who also LOVES incorporating thread painting in many of my works.
Most of my art these days is base on my original artwork that I am “transcribing” into fabric art. Art that IS touchable as far as I am concerned. I also work at times from photos of places and properties that people would like commemorated in a thread painting.
My latest series of wall hangings are based on a series of paintings I did years ago. I loved the format and felt that they would transcribe well into the art I am doing today.
I’ve officially been here in Bedford for two weeks. It has been time spent cleaning, unpacking, and arranging Little Old Lady Quilting Studio/Gallery to get ready for visitors. I’ve been sewing a lot of the time too.
So I thought I’d show you a little of the display furniture that I’ve been accumulating:
Of course, first there is Ruby. She is my HQ Avante 18 long arm machine and my best friend! Though she was not cheap, she was an investment for a lifetime. (Mine anyway)
So that is where I am today. 2 months until my grand opening on March 31, 2018 10:00am – 4:00pm. I still have a ton of stuff to make, and some friends and family to collect things from. But it is slowly coming together!
Home! It means different things to different people. In all my travels around the world there was always the idea of HOME in Bedford, VA. when I left Bedford 40 year ago, like many young people then, I could not wait to get away could never dreamed of any reasons to return.
A lot changes in 40 years.
I traveled the U.S and parts of Europe as a classically trained professional singer. I rubbed elbows with well to do people. I learned to speak proper English. I learned to eat fancy food and to wear really expensive clothing and even to be comfortable in it. I confess, even as a child my sisters alway thought me a bit of a snob and elitist and I enjoyed the world outside of Bedford.
As I aged out of my professional career as a singer, I began to look at other creative endeavors to fill my life and produce an income stream as well. I worked for a number years building a career as a Fine Artist working in oil pastels and oil painting. And then I discovered the world of Quilting.
In all fairness I must say I returned to the world of quilting. My Mom had been a quilter most of her later life, She would spend hours in her basement sitting beside a hanging quilt rack hand stitching quilts she had pieced from old scraps of fabric. That was the world of quilting I knew. But then i discovered the work of ART QUILTS and my life changed. One of the things I was unhappy with in my oil paintings was that there was no chance for a tactile exchange and discovery between the viewer and the artwork. “Don’t Touch” is everywhere they are displayed.
But I WANT my artwork to entice people to touch it, to follow the seams, to explore the landscape or the image in front of them. See how the thread is layered like paint for blending and for effect.
So, now I have returned to Bedford. I am in the process of opening a private Studio/Gallery to continue to create my artwork and to finish quilts for others with my long arm machine and FMQ. What is most interesting to me is that my love of Bedford has grown 1000 times. I love the people. I love the landscape. I love the big skies. I love the weather. I can spend the rest of my life just creating works of art that celebrate Virginia, Bedford, and the Blue Ridge Mountains and I will never run out of subject matter.
Like this Wall hanging I have almost completed of Dogwoods — The State Tree of Virginia.
So it is official. We have bought a Cabin/Studio/Gallery in Bedford, Virginia and will be relocating there almost immediately to set-up and open my new Studio/Gallery for Little Old Lady Quilting.
We will be living here in the beautiful cabin nestled here in the blue ridge, and enjoying walking over to the 800 Square foot Studio/Gallery next door where I will be doing my long arm quilting for the local quilters; as well as creating my art quilts and my thread paintings to sell to the tourists and the gallery shoppers passing through.
The Studio gallery is going to give me ample space to show my work and the work of other local fiber artists, while also giving me a major work space for teaching classes in beginning quilting, thread painting, and etc.
I plan to have a GRAND OPENING for Little Old Lady Quilting Studio/ Gallery and have the Gallery open full time beginning the first part of April. If you are taking a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, or coming near Beautiful Bedford, VA in the spring, please stop on in and say hello!
This weekend I have been laid low with body issues. I have a degenerative spine disease which is slowly crippling me. I deal with it fairly well most days. But the drugs I take for pain management have their own side effects and so I am trying to wean myself off at least the massive doses of steroids. On top of that it seems I have picked up some kind of stomach bug or the flu.
The good news is that I do not want to eat much right now. (I am always struggling with my weight.) The bad news is that I don’t have a lot of energy right now, so I am not getting much done in the studio.
One of my dear friends reminded me Friday that I work pretty much 24 hours day. And that I do not take time for myself often. She again told me that without replenishing the well of health and creative energy with rest and meditation and time out in the world, I can not constantly create beauty.
So I gave myself permission to take off Saturday (yesterday.) I lounged in my overstuffed love seat with the puppies in front of a fire. (It is getting colder now.) I watched old movies. I had some fresh popcorn. (I didn’t want real food.) I let my mind wander and dream. I had some wine and I slept like a baby last night. (I don’t sleep well usually.)
This morning I woke up feeling better, fresher, with my mind ready to get back to work, although my body is still lagging behind a bit.
I started work on a new tapestry/wall hanging Dogwoods.
So I am back at work a little, although I promise to take it easy today. There is no deadline for this piece to be finished… although I tend to be a person who can only work on one project at a time until it is completed and then move on to the next one.
Soon I have to begin to sort and pack my studio for the move to Bedford, VA where I will be opening my Studio/Gallery in the spring. Life is good.
I am in the process of relocating my life and art to my hometown of Bedford, VA. PArt of that process is creating a body of new work to have as inventory for my Gallery that will open in April of 2018. It is interesting to observe that as I am focused on producing work as efficiently as possible, and in a larger quantity than I have ever worked before, my art is morphing, changing and growing into new forms I had not considered working in before.
Thread painting as an art form has been around for centuries, but I only came upon it as I was exploring ways to use fiber and quilting in smaller artworks. It has taken over my art for the time being. I am loving the ability to produce a “painting” of colored threads that is both impressionistic and realistic and which people can easily connect to.
My latest work “Golden Moments” is about capturing the light across fields in the Bedford countryside.
My process for these is continually changing and growing. I am currently exhibiting in two different galleries The Electric Company Art & More in Bedford, VA and The Gallery at Lake Anne, Reston. I will have my own Studio/Gallery open in 2018 in Bedford, VA.
When I was growing up Bedford, VA was a little sleepy redneck town that had seen better days. The agricultural way of life that had formed it since the 1700’s had given way to a few factories most men worked their farms in the evening and worked in the factories during the day.
As we took the bus to school up 122 everyday we would pass the old abandoned Big Otter Mill (formerly known as Forbes Mill) building. At the time, it was rather grey from many years of sitting alone in the sun and rain. Boards were missing. Windows long ago broken out. Weeds and wild trees growing in and out of it.
Built originally around 1919 the mill had ground flour and corn for locals.
Now, thanks to the Big Otter Mill Foundation, the building and grounds are is being restored as a historical and educational building. Donations are always appreciated. Their aim is to restore the building to its original working condition, and use it for teaching others about the history of agriculture and food in our community.
I was so inspired by the change in the mill, that I have created two wall hangings based on aerial photos of the property that were taken by Mr. Thomas Fields of Northsky Dromes.
I love the fact that others think our history and what has made us unique is worth saving! And I am inspired to create art that says this is part of who I am as well!