I started this quilt last year as a plaything. I had all these fat quarters of Waverly fabrics in pinks and grays that i wanted to use up. Plus I wanted a large quilt to work on the long arm machine with for practice using pantographs.
I created a pattern using string quilting techniques for the center. Then I let the quilt go wild. I surrounded the center block with wonky squares that were all off kilter. It was as if the quilt’s structure was decomposing from the inside out. Then for the final outside I simple used blocks in a checkerboard edging to give it some formal structure. I added white borders and sashing for spacing and definition.
This quilt ended up being bought as a gift for a newly expecting first time young mother. I hope it gives her and her baby hours of comfort pleasure!
I’m sorry it has been so long since I wrote on a regular basis. I do tend to keep up with my Facebook page but I’ve been so overwhelmed with the planning, and lots of manual labor and health issues trying to get Little Old Lady Quilting Studio ready to open the end of March. I had also foolishly planned to have a solo show at The Electric Company & More art gallery in downtown Bedford opening at the same time. And I agreed to do a Artists Market Brunch at the Bower Center For the Arts the last weekend in April. All of these displaying all the work I have been creating for the last year (that which had not sold already… ) On top of that i was building my clientele for the long-arm-machine finishing quilts, and doing an average of two of quilts a week on the long arm besides the thread art commissions I have I needed to be creating.
To say the least it was a mad couple of months.
I’m going to try and write weekly at least to keep the world posted of what Little Old Lady Quilting Studio is up to.
My first quilting client in Bedford brought me this magnificent hand done needle point block quilt made by mother and daughter.
I wanted to quilt this very simply to give it strength and stability , but not to interfere with the hand stitched embroidery.
The client was very happy with the finished quilt. as was I!
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’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!
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!
My goal this year besides relocating to my hometown of Bedford, VA is to set up my quilting studio and my Art Quilt Gallery to support myself. I have been working a lot these past few weeks on producing small works for galleries and shows for the holiday season. Sometimes it can feel like “selling out” that I focus on things only for selling. But isn’t one of the major points of being an artist to produce work that connects to people in such a way that they want to own it, share it, take pride in it, even rejoice that it is unique and something only they have? Therefore it is a good thing for me to do and to be excited about as a means of supporting myself.
At the same time, I get the urge to create things that are different and take up more room in the the room. So when I have a moment’s break I visualize and create larger works (or a series of works that go together) so that I can continue to grow and keep my mind fresh and continue to learn.
In the last few weeks I have created several wall hanging that I am really happy with. They are unexpected things. They grew organically as I played with them. None of them turned out as I had originally visualized them in my head, which to me is always a good thing. I can be such a realist visually at times, and my own idea of Art is not about reproducing an image exactly, a camera can do that, but rather capturing the sense and feel of an objects or landscape.
The Mimosa series was inspired by photographs my husband Michael Putnam took of Mimosa blossoms at their early peak. I struck by the play of light on the long tendrils as well as the sheer beauty of the blossoms. In trying to recreate that sense with thread painting, I had to play with whether to work from the center out or the outside in. Ultimately, working from the outside to the center proved more exciting and allowed me play with depth and focus, but also with color and a sense of transparency.
This wall tapestry was based on one of my older oil paintings. It was a glorified and an abstracted idea of the house and property my parents lived on after I left for college. I had so much fun with this one because of the exaggerated sense of proportions, and because it allowed me to play with my preferred color palette. With this kind of quilting and thread painting, I have to find a real balance between the amount of thread painting I want to use and the weight of the piece. With borders etc, there can be a lot of wavy fabric flow if the balance is not correct. I intentionally carried the thread painting into the borders outside the image to keep a sense of continuity and not make it feel so much like a painting or a set image.
This piece is nothing like what I started working on in my head. I had envisioned a small wall hanging with strips of solid colors and thaws slashed and then reshaped, and hung on an organic shaped background.
This piece, WHO CAME FIRST?, obviously had a mind of its own. The farmyard styled fabrics fell from the shelves into my hand. I sewed a few strips and then wonky cut them and re-pieced them. Since I had a little chicken theme going thought I would quilt the front piece with a string of eggs pattern, (much like a string of pearls but changing the connected shapes.) But the wall hanging was not at all happy with that idea — and forced me, literally to fill in each of the eggs. Then of course the idea of who came first appeared. At the last moment the little chick in the upper right hand corner decided to be hatched. ANd so there it is.
It has been a crazy month here. We have bought a second home, a cabin/studio/gallery for my business Little Old lady Quilting, in my hometown of Bedford, VA. I have been working towards this for a while, but it all happened rather quickly when things lined up.
Besides preparing for the purchase of a new property, I have also been organizing and planning and working towards more inventory for the studio. I have also been creating a number of items for sale at a gallery in Bedford.
I am now a member of The Electric Company Art & More at 207 E. Depot Street in Bedford, VA. 24523. How that fam about is a funny story. I had intended to enter some pieces of art into their annual holiday Art4Gifts show. Everything in the show must be priced $99.00 or less. Since so much of my quilting work is large and time-consuming, I knew I would have to especially create something for this show.
I began to make a series I called “The Bedford Paintings” – six small 5″ x 7″ Thread Paintings based on my original artwork of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I made the pieces, I posted the process and the finished works on my Facebook page. I was suddenly selling them as fast I could make them. Thre of the six I sold immediately and had to remake copies of them for the show in Bedford. Since I was moving them and had a good response I decided to prepare a larger number of them to have ready when I needed them. I prepped 18 of them with images and the fabric underlay I do to have them ready.
Since Mike and I were taking a long weekend Columbus day weekend to go to Bedford and look at a property, I took the six I had prepared for the Art4Gifts show along with 2 extra thread paintings with me to show the gallery to see if they would accept them for the upcoming holiday show.
My thought was being in the show was a good way to get my name and my artwork known in the Bedford community before we moved there. But what happened was that the Gallery coordinators were so excited about my work that they convinced me to join the gallery as a full member and hang my work right then for display and sell in the gallry. I agreed and actually signed a year+ gallery contract for them to represent me in Bedford.
Since they took all eight of the works I had taken with me, when I got back home to Burke, I now had to create six more for the Art4gifts show coming up. Luckily I had prepped the 18 so It was a matter of finishing the thread painting, and labeling and framing them, and getting them in the post to the Gallery in time for the Oct 21 deadline.
The Six additional paintings for Art4Gifts – November 1 – Dec 23, 2017, at The Electric Company Art & More. $99.00 each
At the same time, I got a commission for two pieces for a small show in November for the Reston Community. PLUS I got a five-item commission (from photos the client provided) to create for a Christmas presents for her husband commemorating a holiday trip they had taken together…. Photos to come after she has gifted him over Christmas. I was very pleased with how the came out!
Another Client Commissioned me to do a small 8″ x 8″ Wall hanging for her of a Red Clover plant — one of her favorite plants and the state flower of Vermont, her home state. Here is the finished piece.
I have finally finished all that work. We have a ratified contract on the Cabin/ Studio/Gallery. There is much work to be done on the property. But, I have a gorgeous Studio workspace to create more beauty, and a lovely Gallery space to display and sell my work along with the work of others I deem fits the concept I have of a gallery focused on the crafts and the landscape of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley.
I am also working on some larger works that can hang on the walls. My goal is to have a number of large tapestries and small thread paintings ready to sell when we close on the property in December.