Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Here I Is!

I'm a little punchy right now. I'm working overnights this week--getting up at 2am and going home at noon. The being home at noon thing is great because I can work in the studio during the daylight hours, which I just love. The getting up at 2am thing is pretty rough. I can feel my body screaming "what the heck!"

Way back last weekend, which seems like light years ago...I went to the Nashville State Fairgrounds Flea Market. Which is just awesome. This time was probably the best I've ever had there. I didn't buy anything much--a couple of vintage apron patterns for 25 cents--but there were some great booths. You can view my pics on flickr here.

This is my new dining room set. Stand by the polar bear skin rug and the Tom Collinses! And beer nuts, whatever those are.

I'm working on a big quilting tutorial, just be patient, my friends! I'm working feverishly behind the scenes, it's just not very picturesque right now. I mean, us bloggers live perfectly photographable lives all the time. Er, right. And the light is always good with no need for a flash, and no dirty dishes in the background. Right again.


Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:23 AM :: (1) comments

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jane Sassaman's Class

Or, as I like to think of it....how to be the teacher's favorite. She told me "it's so nice to see a kindred spirit." Haha, Kim and Jessica. Apparently at Quiltfest past, Kim and Jessica have competitively kissed up for the title of Famous National Teacher's Favorite. I couldn't resist the opportunity to be a kiss-up. She did tell us all she would like us to be her neighbor.

Mom, Cuz Kim, and Cuz in-law Jessica and I all signed up for this class the very minute it went online all the way back in March. Jane Sassaman is just an outstanding art quilter and artist.

Please allow me to introduce Jane Sassaman. Awesome artist, fabric lover, mom, comedienne, and my kindred spirit (she said so herself. Haha, kimmie and jess!) Anyway, she was the most incredible teacher, instructing in the best way: guiding our voices through her tried and true creative techniques. That way, no one's work looked like hers, it looked like ours. But her work is fantastic. I mean, seriously. Go look at her gallery.

So here is what we learned to do in class: first, lots of sketching from real plants or photos of real plants. Then onto abstractions into circles, squares, and triangles. Inspired by artists of the 19th century--you know, Klimt and the like. Hey, Mom-Jean Howard--Did you take notes? Post some of the names of the artists in the comments, if you would. Thanks, you're a doll.

Then we abstracted even more by honing in on specific shapes and simplifying them. There's where I started having trouble. I was so in love with my swirling flowers from the previous sketches, I couldn't simplify. I'm so conceited!

Then on to the fabric fondling, as Jane calls it. Here we all are in our little auditorium surrounded by tissue paper and fabric. We all chose different flowers. My mom, in true form, got lots of her flower pieces done. I on the other hand, obsessed about fabric and color choices and got next to nothing done. Typical.

And to be honest, I'm still not sure about the fabric. I went to Tennessee Quilts (the best quilt store in the land) and bought 3 different kinds. Oh well. I'll figure it out sometime. I really like this disco dot. Kimmie says maybe not. Everything else looked very Miami or sherbetty.

If you ever get a chance to take a quilting class, you should. There is a huge quilting show here at Opryland in August which is great for shopping and also has good teachers. You can learn oh so much just by listening to the teacher. The perfectionism alone is astounding, but also they know tons of little tricks that really make things go nicely.

Can't wait for next year's quiltfest, girls!!

I'm signing off for the night. Happy Birthday to my Very Favorite One!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:27 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finally! A Print!

For the record, I reshot this pic 4 times, and I'm still horrified of it. What has happened to my photo mojo? The early morning lighting scheme just isn't working for me.

After 4 separate classes working on this print--and a saturday, too--I have a completed poster on my hand. The night I printed the orange run it was raining--so super muggy, and I had major problems with the print. And I've been seeing all these awesome perfect screen prints on Etsy that have no smudges, bloody inkspots, or splotchy places. But perfect I'm not, and it's just going to be okay to have some imperfections. It shows that it was made by hand, right? Hmm, I don't know if that floats in this situation or not.

Last night I printed the blue run, and I'm so very pleased with it. I kept stopping printing to admire my own little illustrations. I'm really enamored with them. And I'm modest, too!

Now I can go on about other printmaking lessons. I might sell some of the better prints on Etsy soon. I'll let you know. Or, if you really want one, send me an e-mail or comment and I'll put up a listing for you. I think I'll probably ask $25 for them. The posters are printed on printmaking paper and are 16 x 20 inches.

I'm going to print more from home later, but for now it's on to lithography!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:47 AM :: (4) comments

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm back from Quiltfest!

...With a fresh perspective on so many things.

First, an explanation: Quiltfest takes place every year in Jonesborough, Tennesee which is Tennessee's oldest town. It's up in the most northeastern corner of the state. Tennessee Quilts runs it every July.

There's the work room in my aunt's home. We're all stewing over a one-block wonder variation. Or teasing someone, no doubt.

My aunt lives there on a gorgeous lake with a steady breeze and a double decker dock. Assorted members of my extended family converge there for uninterrupted quilting time with other hilarious, funny gals. This year there were 10 of us across 4 generations!

There was lots of laughter, midnight swimming, cooking, eating, sewing, critiquing and trading fabric. Cause if you don't have the right fabric, your neighbor probably does. And if not, you must travel to Tennessee Quilts! We went every single day. And did I mention the eating?

We exchanged our round robin blocks from this year. It was so fun! We all made strips 36 inches wide with one fabric in common, then gave each person one for their own quilt. See my circles there? And we showed our tops off--from last year's round-robin exchange.

My mom, my cuz Kim from NYC, my cuz in-law Jessica currently from Germany, and I all took a class from famed art quilter Jane Sassaman. I'll post more on that in the next couple of days.

Here are my photos from the week. And I'll be posting about our fabulous class and the quilting technique that swept us all up by the end of the week.

It was the most magical time with my favorite gals ever. We really have a special thing going on. And we're all different ages and different parts of the family, but we have no problems getting along whatsoever. It's just utopia in family and fabric, and food!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 7:53 AM :: (3) comments

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Off to Play--hooray!

Hey Y'all! I'm still here. I've been cramming for finals, though. Since we last talked
1)I have signed myself up for consignment at a new store on Elliston Place--I'll send you a link as soon as it's all up and running.
2)I've taken on a big freelance graphic design project.
3)I went to Fayetteville, Tennessee with Shona, Heather, and Jenn. My goodness! It was a party of a time. Man, we laughed from here to Sir's and back with a stop at Goodwill, of course. Shona, I think you might have hooked me. I couldn't believe my eyes to see size 11 mary jane's. Score! I have been trying to get away from work to go to another Goodwill ever since.
4) Become a mommy to a brand new HD television! Woo-hoo! Here's to early birthday gifts from your boyfriend. After all the work I did to switch my station over to HD, now I can finally see what the heck the difference is. It's beautiful, glowing colors and seeing people's every little pore and hair. Sounds yucky, but I can't tell you how awesome it is.
5) Spending time with said boyfriend. Either he's really tiny, or that's a huge cerveza!

Now I'm off to Quiltfest for the rest of the week. I could kick myself that I didn't take a pic of all my circles sewn together before I cut them into round-robin strips. I'll have to take it post-giveaway. I may or may not post while on vacation, so enjoy the week, and go check out Jane Sassaman on the web. I'll tell her y'all said "holla!"

And happy birthday to my friend Jack. I should have been at home packing last night, but I had to say "Hi!"

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:56 PM :: (1) comments

Friday, July 13, 2007

Overstocking my Collection(s)

The time of great fabric deals is upon us. Textile Fabrics on Franklin Road here in Nashville is having their summer 50% (!!) off all fabric sale. You must go! The more we buy...and when can you get this good of a deal?...the more new inventory they'll be able to get in. Now, I must say, their quilting cottons, the Anna Marias, the Denyses, and the Amy Butlers, are all regularly $11.98 per yard. So it's a little higher. But here in Nashville you can't find those designers anywhere but there. And at 50% off, they're just $6 per yard.

Countdown: T-Minus 25 hours until Fayetteville and the best bargain basement fabrics this side of the Mason-Dixon line! Here's my post about it from my last trip. That time I went by myself, but this time I'll have plenty of fun company. Ouch! says my check book!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:47 AM :: (0) comments

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Living my life...

...and not doing much blog-worthy stuff. Truth is, I'm working on round robin blocks for my upcoming Quiltfest with all the girls from my family. And it's just not all that exciting. I thought "Hey, lots of concentric rings would be really fun, and simple, and not take weeks of work." Yeah, right. I'm going on week 2 of all-night circle making (from 2 posts below this one) They do look fantastic, but it's just laborious. What else is new?

Some exciting things are going on in the background, though. Check out this new shop that's going to open on Elliston here in Nashville! I'm going to be a consignor there. Woo-hoo! And I've got some big plans for couture style purses. Things I can really dig in and spend some real thought and time on the design of, and not worry about keeping the work/cost ratio so low.

This pic here is another high school art project. It was supposed to be a self-portrait collage. I have a pic of myself sitting on the cross bar to our swing set. Man, I loved that swingset! We thought it was most awesome. Only slightly better than the sand box. We used to make little chairs and rooms out of sand. I always wanted to be an interior designer. And you know how most kids like a huge cardboard box more than a $50 plastic contraption? My sister Allison and I were no different. I remember using up all the juice in my Crayola markers drawing patterned wall paper on the walls of our "house". Good times.

I am so looking forward to this weekend! Shona, Jenn, and Heather and I are all trekking to Sir's Fabrics in Fayetteville, TN. Be jealous! I'm sure there will be much blog-love, since we're all bloggers. Fabric cheap and dirty, here we come!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:13 AM :: (1) comments

Monday, July 09, 2007

Working Weekend

I drove home to Missouri for the weekend for some good cooking and some hammock time with my sister. And also, my mom has a kick-ass dye room. So I took my screens that I've made recently and went to work on Saturday morning. Can I just say that screen printing kicks ass compared to inking up an individual stamp and stamping one at a time? Thank you. It's way easier. And you can get really nice details. I used a lot of vintage clipart items in these screens, and some other things. Not that I've tried it out, I have a lot of ideas for better screens in the future.

Thanks to Mom for dying all the base colors before I got there. She dyed all day on Thursday. What a worker!

And now, boys and girls for shameless self-promotion. You can purchase these prints on a lovely, soft, quality cotton at my Etsy shop! you can go and see 3 of the pieces I did this weekend, and I'll be adding more soon. As usual, I'm late for work. Happy Monday!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:09 AM :: (1) comments

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Making Perfect Circles or other shapes

I'm always coming up with ideas for quilts that involve curves or otherwise un-patchworkable pieces. This it the best way I know to precisely attach shapes to one another without hand stitching it (which is also rewarding, just not so fast)

1) cut your shapes from freezer paper (it's the best tool I have great for pattern making, and also this applique). Avoid inverted shapes. Just "outies". At least at first. Also, cut very smoothly and precisely. This will be your exact shape--no messing around later. This is it.

I used round objects from all around and cut with my fave, the xacto blade.

2) Iron the waxy side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the fabric.

3) trim to within a quarter inch of the freezer paper.

4) cut slits into the quarter inch seam allowance. Get close to the paper, but don't cut through.

5) take a standard, non-colored glue stick and go 1/2 around your shape.

6) With your dominant hand, tightly fold down the edge so it's snug against the paper. Take your other hand and follow along, just to reinforce the finger-pressing.

Now you've got your shapes done, pin or hold your fabric pieces together.
Here's where your sewing machine comes in handy. I used the blanket stitch, but almost all machines come with a blind hem stitch. Just adjust the dials. I also used the open toe embroidery foot so that I can really see the stitches.

I used black thread so you could really see it, but you could use invisible thread (get the quality kind, or it's a total mess)

After it's stitched, you can take the sewn-in freezer paper out by cutting slit in the back an wetting down the areas where you glue-sticked (stuck?) it. If it's really sticking, you can use tweezers.

So that's pretty much it. Stitch your heart out!

Here's my machine's stitch card--I used #28. But seriously, the blind hem stitch looks just like that.

Here's something I learned after doing a million of these--stitch your freezer paper piece onto NON=freezer paper back fabric. Then, inside the stitching, cut out the extra fabric. Now your freezer paper will be revealed, and you can remove it. Like this:

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:40 AM :: (37) comments