Monday, January 30, 2006

Nine Swans A Swimming...

OK - so I didn't manage to capture all 9 swans at once, but here are five of them!

I was visiting friends who have a home on the Shrewsbury River on the coast of NJ. They had been telling me about a pair of swans that came by once or twice a day. Bird Lady that I am, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of them while I was there.

Wouldn't you know, but I hadn't even sat down yet when a pair of swans came a-swimming along... followed by another pair... and another... until a total of nine graceful swans were swimming by the house. My host told me to go on out to the dock and the swans would come up close - looking for food, of which I had none. I did. They did. And so you have some close-up photos of these beautiful birds on the water.

Before I even left home this morning, I managed to capture Mr. Cardinal a couple of times...

All in all, a pretty good birding day, wouldn't you say?!!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

2006 Small Wonders VIII - Finalist!

"Gifts From the Sea" 10"w x 16"h - cPat Dolan 2005

I just received word from Vicki Mangum and Darla Hartmann of Quilt Festival Special Exhibits that "Gifts from the Sea" has been accepted as a finalist in the 2006 Small Wonders VIII contest. Finalists will be exhibited at the Spring International Quilt Festival (April 7-9 in Rosemont, IL) and at the International Quilt Festival in Houston (Oct. 28-Nov5). I'm totally surprised and thrilled - the competition among the embellishing art quilters is amazing, so just being selected for the exhibit is a high honor.

So there's much Happy Dancing in NJ tonight!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nature's Artistry

After a rousing thunderstorm last night around 11pm, we awoke to Jack Frost's artistry on our auto windshields. Here are some examples of his wintry talent...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"Threads of Our Lives" - DONE!!!


It was early May, 2005, when I took a class with Rayna Gillman on various printmaking techniques to use in fiber art that I first became interested in combining my love of genealogy, memorabilia, and photography into fiber art. My maternal grandfather, Herbert Llewellyn Buck (1881-1972), was an avid amateur photographer from an early age and of his descendants, I inherited the bulk of his photography equipment, the 5x7” glass negatives, hundreds of black and white negatives, and a humongous collection of photographs. I also inherited his genealogical interest and materials, along with my grandmothers’ hand-written recipe book amidst a bunch of other nostalgic paraphernalia. Thus, it seemed only natural to use all this ‘stuff’ somehow in my art. In preparation for Rayna’s class, I printed up a variety of old photographs, recipes, postcards and such on transparencies with my computer. Thus I came to class armed with a LOT of material with which to experiment. The class jump-started a new series of fiber art work that has challenged my computer and printing skills, my design and composition skills, my patience, and my emotions…

Mini-quilt: THE MEN

In mid-October 2005 when I received the first notice of a potential venue for my photo/memory quilts. Keisha Roberts was curating an exhibition entitled “Nearness of You: Memory and Commemoration in Quiltmaking” to be exhibited at the February 2006 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia. Keisha was looking for a variety of examples demonstrating some of the ways quilters have preserved their memories in their Quiltmaking. I sent her an email and subsequently agreed to show two of my quilts in the exhibition – one of which I made in 1994 from my mother’s old embroidered dishtowels and one of which was not made at all, but merely a germ of an idea. And so the quilt, “Threads of Our Lives” began.

The printing of the transparencies and transfer thereof onto muslin was time consuming yet it was fulfilling in some way, too, because I watched Pop’s old photographs birthed with new life and visited with old memories along the way. Printing directly on muslin turned out to be a more reliable method of transferring the photos to fabric, but it also demanded a high learning curve on my part to execute the prints without harming the printer, the fabric or my self-esteem!

Mini-quilt: THE WOMEN

Within a month I had a body of 8 ½” x 11” muslin pieces, each with a montage of photographs or printed materials such as postcards, cookie recipes, maps and the like ready to quilt. I chose to quilt each small panel individually using a variety of monochromatic, neutral threads. The quilting designs seemed to flow from the montage of printed matter – spoked wheels danced across the mini-quilt featuring horses and buggies and model T automobiles. Circles wrapped around the corners of my mind, my memories and the quilt-lets as I proceeded to quilt each piece, some with waves, lines, curves or wandering trails of thread. The edges of each piece were deliberately left ragged and many threads were left dangling from the finished sewing lines, as well – all to achieve the unfinished look to emulate the incomplete family stories that were unfolding across the face of the quilt.

Mini-quilt: RECIPES

Once I completed a group of these little mini-quilts, I arranged them on a large piece of black fabric until I found the order which created the best composition, given the nature of the project. Twelve pieces seemed to create just too much of a photo album appearance, not the artistic arrangement of memories in fabric that I sought to achieve. Eleven pieces, however – three rows with 4 mini-quilts on top and bottom with the middle row of three, seemed to work well. For a time, I considered having some remnants of batting and pulled threads tacked down to the surface of the quilt, too, to continue the loose-threads appearance and meaning. That concept was scrapped as the quilt began to refuse to cooperate by telling me what it wanted by way of completion…

ON THE DESIGN WALL - but not quite right...

From early December to early January, the quilt hung on my design wall, then on a portable design board – refusing to give me permission to complete it. I can admit to the fact that I didn’t really know quite how to quilt the entire piece into a cohesive unit, too. But something about the quilt just didn’t “feel” right. I tried fusing the 11 mini quilts to the rich polyester black background only to be unhappy with the results of the fusing. Something about it wasn’t working quite right, so I pulled the mini quilts away from the fusing and backing after determining I needed a different fabric for my ground. The fabric somehow needed to be richer, but I didn’t even know what that meant. While shopping, I found a deep brown and black silk tapestry fabric with threads of gold, red, and green running through it that were totally lost in the weaving. It was perfect. I sandwiched the tapestry to the black poly batting and black polyester fabric and quilted in random waving lines top to bottom.


When the base quilting was completed, I laid the quilted sandwich out on my parquet kitchen floor to make sure I was squaring it correctly, then carefully laid each mini-quilt in place – pinning it for what I thought would be more quilting. That turned out to be a total disaster with my machine rebelling strongly with the density of variety of fabrics I was pushing through it. As it turns out, this is the heaviest quilt (in every sense of that word!) I have ever made. I settled for sewing each mini quilt to the background by hand – and, surprisingly, I loved the effect that created. Then I had only the binding and the artists’ statement to complete and attaché along with the hanging sleeve. The quilt was finally completed today, January 22, 2006 – by which time I am so sick of it that I left it face down on the dining room table until it’s time to take it to the photographers!

THREADS OF OUR LIVES - c2006 Pat Dolan 49"x49"

The quilt, “Threads of Our Lives,” will be mailed out to Keisha the last week of this month along with the dish towel “Irish Chain Memories of You” quilt to be exhibited at the special exhibits section of the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival (Mancuso) from February 23-26, 2006 in Hampton, VA. I’ll not be attending the show, much as I’d like to see the other pieces in the exhibition and see how others have incorporated memories into their quilting. And I hope there will be lots of photographs taken and shared so I can get a taste of the exhibition. Maybe when my quilts are returned, I’ll actually like “Threads of Our Lives” once again. But I’m not so sure about that. It was a fussy, difficult, emotional quilt to create and I’m extremely glad to have it behind me!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

More FiberArt Cards

As promised, here are a few more of the fiberart cards I've been creating for various causes - including some for sale...

Here's one that's totally different than the rest. I call it "Budding Iris."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New Fiber Art Cards

I'm in the midst of creating a new series of fiber art cards, some of which will go to Virginia Spiegel's American Cancer Society Fund Raiser booth at Chicago's Spring Quilt Market. Here is a sampling of what I've done so far.

Below: Collection of Sue Reno

More tomorrow!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

New Work!

"School Days" (15x18" or so) c2006 Pat Dolan

Here's a little sampler I've created to try some techniques prior to attaching the 11 journal-sized quilt-lets to the backing for my Threads of Our Lives quilt going in "The Nearness of You" exhibition next month. I've named it "School Days" as it features photos of both my mom and my dad during their grade school years. The background is a wonderful tapestry that appears to be primariliy black with some brown running through it - but the brown is actually made up of red, gold, and green threads amidst the black warp. There's a bit of a nubby texture to it, which I like a lot. The little quilts are all of smooth muslin, so the contrast is wonderful. It's nearly time to mail the darned thing out but I haven't attached a single quilt-let! And then there's the photography...

After our nasty rain/snow/ice storm yesterday, the birds were out in droves visiting my feeders today. Here are a few of my favorites from the day:
Titmouse + Chickadee having a dispute as to who's going to get first dibs!

Downy Woodpecker Pair - male has a touch of red on the back of his head.

Daddy Downy

Mommy Downy with her feathers ruffling in the wild + wooly wind...

Full House

Acrobatic Nuthatch hanging from the feeder

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon sundog low in the sky

What a wonderful day for a walk! Camera on shoulder, off I went in search of beauty and textures, not to mention exercise. The following is some of what I saw and recorded.
Vapor Trails

Dried daisies

Sweetgum balls on the sidewalk...

As for quilting, I've finally found a background I like to place my 11 journal sized memory quilts on for Keisha Roberts' "Nearness of You: Memory and Commemoration in Quiltmaking" exhibit to be held in February at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Virginia. It's nearly time to mail it out to her... but its incomplete. I hadn't been satisfied with the background - a flat black - but didn't know what I wanted to replace it. Yesterday I stopped at the Rag Shop where I found this mottled black and brown tapestry fabric that I think will work perfectly. Here's a glimplse of one quiltlet sitting on the tapestry. Now it's time to get to work sewing!!!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Some Reflections on the Old Year and Some Thoughts on the New Year

This week has been the designated time for "office work" - an attempt to begin 2006 in a much more organized, business-like fashion... It's time to pay membership dues to several of the art quilt organizations, time to update my SAQA webpage, time to update the resume for Fiber Revolutions, time to update the quilt/location/listing, yada, yada, nauseum. And it's also time to determine which shows I'd like to enter during the coming year. I really hate this sort of paper work - as so many of us do. It's so darned time-consuming and has so little by way of immediate or obvious benefits!

Still, the resume writing turned out to be easier than I thought it would be since it really was merely a matter of building on last years resume. TaDa and it was done. Writing checks to pay dues wasn't too tough - except on the bank balance, of course! One by one, things are being crossed off the "things to do" list. I only wish I could stop all this paper work and go back to creating ART!!!

It was gratifying, however, to realize just how many pieces of art I created this year (14 full pieces; 10 Journal Pages; 50+ fiberart cards) and how many that have been donated and/or sold during 2005. I'm still working up that list, but it looks like I donated about 30 fiberart cards - 20 or so to the American Cancer Society through Virginia Spiegel's gargantuan efforts and another 10 for the Katrina Relief efforts spear-headed by Laura Cater-Woods. I believe all but one of those cards have been purchased - Virginia discovered one of my cards upon her return home from Houston so it will be in Chicago for the Quilt Fest at her booth there, along with some new ones I'll be making for her.

Aside from the donations, I sold 6 quilts and several framed and unframed artcards. One of my quilts was accepted in the Fiber Revolution exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum this year. Another quilt was accepted in "Quilts=Art=Quilts" at the Schwienfurth Museum in Auburn, NY. (Yes, I was rejected from numerous other exhibits, but I got into these two!!! And isn't that the important thing - what worked out well?) And one of my fiberart cards was published in "Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine," Winter 2005 issue! Last year at this time, I never would have guessed that the year would be so prolific or so successful. 2005 was a very good year for my art and my business!

And now 2006 is here, I have several projects 'in the works,' although nothing that really fuels my passion at the moment. I've committed to curate the art quilt exhibit for a local group, Eclectic Threads (in which I am a new member) at the NJ State Quilt Guild Show in June. And I've agreed to co-curate, with Carolyn Lee Vehslage, a Fiber Revolution exhibit proposal to the Museum of the American Quilter's Society in Paducah... Keisha Roberts has curated two of my memory quilts into her "Nearness of You" exhibition at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in February... And, for Christmas, my dear husband gave me the gift of a Hudson River Valley Art Workshop with Laura Cater-Woods - "Tempting the Muse: Beyond the Surface" scheduled for the last full week in April.

When will I find time to create?! That is the most important of all, creating. It's important for my sanity, my joy, my play, my life - not to mention I need new work to submit for the upcoming shows... The time will be there because that is where my passion is - in the experimentation and creation of something out of a multitude of fibers at my disposal. 2005 was a very good year. 2006 will be a very good year as well - one way or another, I will hone my attitude to create a very good year and so it will be. May yours be so, as well!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year in Vermont

From central Pennsylvania for Christmas with our daughter and her husband, we went to central Vermont for New Years with our son and his family. Here is Alyssa opening her Irish Quilt - and wrapping herself in same.

Do all quilt recipients have the same strong desire to wrap themselves up in the quilt received? It seems so, from my experience, anyway...

This is the view from the front porch of the Raney Brook Farm Bed and Breakfast where we stay in West Townshend, VT.

And here is the front porch in all its wintery glory!

Newfane, Vermont - a picturesque little town often photographed for calendars, about 15 miles south of our son's home. This is one of the houses on the town square decorated for the holidays.

A church (one of several) on the Newfane Commons.

The county court house on the Newfane, VT commons.

Dukie Dog in sleigh bells!