March 31, 2009

Progress on Several Fronts

I'm making good progress on quilting Watt & Shand #3. (If you are new here, you can track back this series by clicking on Watt & Shand under Labels in the right sidebar.) I'm reminded once again how much I love working in this medium. I enjoy manipulating the fabric under the needle, making decisions on the fly as to where to go next. I especially like the transformative power of the stitching, the way it simultaneously unifies the diverse fabrics and colors while highlighting the individual design elements. And the texture is fabulous as well.
I was asked today if this one was going to get any bling-bling. I've been considering it as I stitch, and I think the possibility is great. I also love the transformative power of beads!

I've also unearthed the Plume Poppy top. I think I've been not-too-subconsciously procrastinating working on this one because it is so large; however, there's no time like the present to tackle something complex. I've now got it layered with batting and backing, basted, and have begun the quilting. It's going to be a stunner; that's the motivation I'm using to keep myself engaged.
And finally, while it is still much too cold and windy for any sort of gamboling and luxuriating in a spring-induced frenzy outdoors, I am heartened to see that the chinodoxa are bravely blooming in a sheltered spot next to the wall. Surely good things will follow....

March 26, 2009

Watt & Shand March Update

I'm still at work on #3 in my series of art quilts depicting the transformation of the Watt & Shand building in Lancaster, PA into a hotel and convention center. (If you're new here, you can track back the series by clicking "Watt & Shand" under Labels in the sidebar.) I've got it basted and am working on the quilting, which is going very well. While we await results on that, here's a few pictures of the progress on the actual building. Above, they are installing replica balustrades along the top of the building.
Above and below, they are installing the framework for the canopy over the entrance on King Street.

The building was originally scheduled to be open in late April; they've just pushed that date back about three weeks, into May. Still, they are coming down the home stretch. Below there are materials being loaded in through one of the windows:

More materials were being brought up by a pulley system to workers on a scaffolding at the far left corner of the building. I like the tension in this photo where the worker is leaning into his safety harness:

March 18, 2009

Watt & Shand #3 In Progress

Here's a few quick snapshots of the work in progress. I made a few more prints using the thermofax screens for Watt & Shand #3; I wanted some brighter colors. I love the way the way this one came out:
This one is printed on a natural linen fabric: Can you tell by the color palette that spring is almost here? Or that I was ready for a change from the almost-monotone palette of the last two Watt & Shand pieces? I was probably influenced by both those factors, but actually the palette in this one was a deliberate attempt to evoke the summery feel of Lancaster City in July, which is when the photos for this one were taken. Lancaster has been a Tree City for years, and there's a lot of greenery around, as well as a proliferation of colorful flower beds and flowering baskets.

The top is finished, next comes the layering, basting, quilting and finishing. I've been very prolific so far this year!

March 12, 2009

Watt & Shand #1

I'm pleased to share pictures of the recently finished "Watt & Shand #1". You can click on any picture to enlarge it. This work features images of the construction project taken in June, 2008. It measures 47"high x 57"wide. If you are new here, you can track back this quilt, the series, and the inspiration by clicking on Watt & Shand under Labels in the right sidebar.

This detail shows the Soldiers and Sailors monument in the center square of Lancaster in the foreground. This was early in the month, when the festive banners were still hanging on the scaffolding.
This is one of my all time favorite shots, a welder working on taking down the scaffolding, where I was lucky enough to catch the sparks:

Here's a crane employed in removing the scaffolding, which is already gone from the curved section of the facade:

Here's a closeup of the curved window; you can see the interior framework through it, and the new structure rising behind it:

And here's one of the window panels I used along both sides of the quilt:

I had a wonderful time making this one. I'm very happy with the almost-monochromatic color scheme, and the sense of energy and enterprise it imparts. I also like that it documents some very transitory scenes.

March 9, 2009

Watt & Shand #3 Begun

I've been a member of Kansas Art Quilters for years--you obviously don't need to live IN Kansas, and it's a great group of very talented artists. This year, as an inducement to pay your dues on time, Karen Stiehl Osborn offered to burn 5 thermofax screens for members. I've been curious about this process for a while and sent off my images for Karen to process. (Go here for a commercial site with great information about how the process works, and here for a Quilting Arts blog post with good pictures.)

Two of my new screens were made from my stock of Watt & Shand images. (If you're new here, click on Watt & Shand under Labels in the right sidebar to read all about this ongoing series.) I finally had time to experiment with them, and produced a lot of images on white cotton and natural linen. I like how stark and graphic they are. They are going to be the basis for #3 in the Watt & Shand series. I'm going to enjoy the challenge of softening the starkness without losing the edginess.

March 8, 2009

Anomalies in Intercouse

I needed quilt batting--I'm a fan of a particular kind--and made the trip to Zook's Dry Goods in Intercourse, PA to stock up. I wanted to get there before tourist season heats up and turns what should be an errand into an expedition.

I've got nothing against tourists, I am one myself from time to time, but they clog the narrow roads when they come to gawk at the Amish. I can understand the gawking. I passed (slowly!) several dozen buggies yesterday, and I am not jaded to their charms. I also savored some of the delicious anomalies of life in Lancaster County, like a buggy pulling up to an ATM machine, or a shop lit by gas lights that has an electronic cash register. The Plain people are not really technophobes, they just pick and choose what they will allow in order to protect a way of life they value.

Things are changing rapidly here. There's not enough farmland to go around anymore and provide a living to everyone in a large family, so many Plain sect members have jobs in small businesses or construction. And many are reliant, at least tangentially, on the tourism industry, even as they seek to lead private and quiet lives.

None of which explains that tree. It's in the parking lot behind Zooks, and for reasons inexplicable to me a section of the trunk is covered in sheet metal. Whatever the cause, it's a wonderful visual anomaly.

March 6, 2009

The Ashley & Bailey Silk Mill - Update

I posted pictures back in November of the Ashley & Bailey Silk Mill in Columbia, a magnificent hulk, and the plans to turn it into a tourist attraction for Turkey Hill Dairy. Now I've read an article in the local paper that details proposed plans to turn a part of the site into something called Farm World. The idea would be to educate tourists about the basics of how agriculture works, something we take for granted here, but which would presumably be exotic to visitors from the big city. And, I'm not making this up, "To move around Lancaster Farm World, visitors would be able to use pedal go-carts, shaped like tractors." I'm in!

The good news is that it was unclear to me from previous news articles whether the site would be razed or the building reclaimed. Here it looks like the building, or at least the shell, will be retained. Since the Watt & Shand project (see under Labels in the sidebar) is drawing to an end, I'm excited at the prospect of having another interesting construction project to follow and document.

March 4, 2009

Cold Cave

I've finished "Cold Cave", and am excited to share it here! (I'll get it up on the website soon.) It's based on the experience of hiking to, and into, the actual cave of the same name. The beadwork, the last step in the construction, was very enjoyable to work on, and added just the right level of detail and emphasis around the images. It measures 34" high x 38" wide. You can track it back as a work in progress by clicking on Cold Cave under "Labels" in the sidebar at the right.

Below is a detail shot--isn't that portal enticing?

March 3, 2009

The Routine

The snow and ice and howling winds continue....the best way to get through the days is with a routine.
A bowl of oatmeal "sticks to the ribs" and fuels the day's activities.

There's never enough Play Time, but it's important to fit some in amongst all the chores and tasks.

And before you know it, another day gone. Surely the weather will break soon, and Spring will come.
The images are the four corners of a vintage embroidered tablecloth from my collection.