The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: artistic reflection (Page 1 of 6)

ToDoTuesdayNine

Bright Delight is a Grand Slam Finish!

Bright Delight finish #1
Bright Delight 2020 LBL (27.5 in x 35.5 in)

First introduced as Michelle’s African Fabric wall hanging, this project has been a ToDo since ToDoTuesdaySix where I detail the story & history of the fabric along with a few of my initial stabs at working on it. Then came a short progress update on ToDoTuesdaySeven. By then I had chosen the block pattern, sewn the complete quilt top, put together quilt sandwich samples to test deco threads and ultimately chose the copper metallic & variegated green rayon threads for use in the next stage of the project.

I then rolled it all up and set it aside.

After several weeks of leaving it be, I began again in earnest layering and readying it for machine blanket stitching around the design blocks.

Early on I decided to use a double batt – with a low loft poly batt to add some subtle puffiness to the top when machine stitched and an 80/20 batt against the backing fabric for ease of machine stitching while also giving the finished piece a nicer drape against the wall.

Bright Delight machine blanket stitching with copper metallic thread
Spray & hand basted design block machine blanket stitched with copper metallic thread

After spray basting the two batting layers together, I then treated them as a single layer of batting. I continued spray basting the top, batting and backing into a completed quilt sandwich. In addition, I hand basted around each block to give them extra security.

Starting from the center and continuing outwards, each design block in the middle vertical column was machine blanket stitched using the copper metallic thread. The rest of the blocks were machine blanket stitched with the variegated green rayon thread.

Once the deco stitching was finished,* I squared up the quilt and prepped it for the next stage of completion. Using the walking foot, I basted 1/8th of an inch from the edge of the piece attaching the hanging pockets, label and special Cote d’Ivoire selvage tab.

Next steps? Constructed the binding and sewed it onto the front of the piece taking care to miter those corners! Folded over the binding to the back, clamped it in place and took my time hand stitching the final folds to completion.

Now 100% completed and on its way via the USPS to middle daughter Michelle and son-in-law David:

Bright Delight is a Grand Slam Finish!


*I will discuss the details involved with working with metallic and specialty threads in another post, as it required a whole different set of tools and techniques to pull off a consistent finish. Also will detail specifics on constructing hanging pockets, achieving perfect miters & easy binding joins, and a few backstories to keep it all from getting too dry a read! For those of you interested in greater depth on these parts of the process, I look forward to sharing my newfound insights & tips with you at that time.


’Home

Thank-you Roseanne for offering this opportunity to share my finish.

Ray's Zen

One hot, humid evening, late last summer, I scrounged the few books I had left on my bookshelves (in my passive-packing,* some of the first items to be packed were ‘books I can do without for now’). I spied my paperback copy of Ray Bradbury’s, Zen in the Art of Writing, and promptly plucked it from the shelf. Thumbing through the pages, I realized its time had come for a re-read.
A compilation of essays Mr. Bradbury wrote at various times about creativity and the act of creating, this is a book I picked up in the late 90’s and wrote on the title page “…deciding to write notes in the margins of this book…3/2000.” How cool to do a re-read with my own ‘notes’ alongside this book as well.
Before beginning my re-read, I skimmed through the various essays and noticed those handwritten notes ended after the essay titled, Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine. I don’t remember why I stopped there but I do know that those ‘notes’ were written during a very dynamic time in my life. Perhaps quitting there was more an indication of satisfaction in what I had already read, or maybe just that I had reached the essay which discussed my favorite novel of his, Dandelion Wine.
No matter.
I do know that I whenever I read such essays I substitute any specific genre of the arts reference with my catch-all word, (he)art. In this case from Ray’s point of view, writer is replaced in my reading mind with, (he)artist.
Here’s a quote from the first few pages of this compilation of essays with my replacement word inserted after the slash.

 “…if you are a writer/(he)artist without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer/(he)artist.…How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
~Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Life seems more complicated now with social media spouting out meanness in the name of ‘passion’, but (he)art is (he)art – a very different thing altogether.
Ray’s admonition must not be ignored by us creationists (interesting use of that word,no?)
…regardless of what the twitterers are twittering about!

Use your gift, (he)artists!

*update forthcoming on hold until after COVID-19 plays out?

ToDoTuesdaySix

It’s been 19 weeks since my last ToDoTuesday post*.
Here’s my first in 2020!
~~~
On-going goals since October 15th, 2019:

  • Work on Michelle’s lime green African Fabric wall hanging in progress
  • Sew up scraps have on hand in progress
  • Practice free motion quilting in progress
    ~~~

How to use my growing stash of glorious authentic African fabrics without compromising the scale of design? That question is always the number one concern whenever I pull out those lengths of fabrics for consideration of use in a ‘special’ quilt project. Stumped for a satisfactory solution, I usually end up draping them over armchairs, the couch and the living room floor admiring their textures, rich colorations, and design elements. Soaking in their exotic vibes, breathing in their subtle, yet specific cloth scents – all feeding my imagination, yet still coming up short on a way through my dilemma.
And then, Along Comes Mary**from Zippy Quilts! A few months ago, she posted a quilt design that seemed to answer that question. For one set of fabrics at least.

Woodin Fabric selvages

Cote d’Ivoire/Woodin fabric selvages


The latest yardage given to me by our middle daughter acquired during her last PhD trip to Cote d’Ivoire included a deliciously vibrant patterned Woodin material paired with a complimentary solid lime green waxy-shiny chintz fabric. The solid fabric is not African, but commonly added as a free component in the sale. Interestingly, this is because all dresses are sewn with linings. Michelle told the vendor she wasn’t going to have the material made into a dress, but he insisted it was part of the deal, regardless.
Floating Block Lattice wall hanging top

Floating Block Lattice wall-hanging top


Using the two together, this is the completed wall-hanging top. At this stage I can safely roll it up and pack it away to be finished at a later date. Meanwhile, I have a roadmap figured out for the next steps needed to finish this project:

  • I’ll be using the 80/20 batting to help stabilize the two fabrics under the needle when I do the machine quilting (the lime green chintz is thinner than the more densely woven African fabric)
  • Quilting pattern inspired by the gold streaks in the African fabric – as an all over design on lime green fabric with lime green thread and gold metallic thread as accents on some of the gold streaks on the African fabric
  • Binding is still up for grabs as is an actual backing fabric

 

African fabric scraps

Scrappy sewing is my favorite type of piecing!


As most of you know, I am a scrap-lover and enjoy sewing up the bits & odd shapes leftover from on-going projects on a regular basis. Heck, I even pull out old scraps from my scrap stash to fiddle with as a tension reliever! In this instance, I decided to use only the scraps generated from these two fabrics in the construction of the wall-hanging top.
I think they look quite artistic for such minimal effort on my part – yet with great therapeutic payback in the doing of it!
Speaking of therapy, on a whim, I picked up one of my made-from-scraps quilt sandwich samples to practice my free-motion quilting skills. This has been a frustrating technique for me to feel comfortable with, but it calls to me often to keep at it!
Well, to my surprise and delight, this impromptu session yielded a break through! My hand direction/foot pedal co-ordination/stitching speed miraculously fell into sync where the whirls of design took on a life of its own…what a thrill!
That’s it for now!

~~~
ToDo for the weeks following February 25th:

  • Continue on-going goals

Thank you Roseanne for this opportunity to share and reflect

And thank you Zippy for showing off my completed top on your blog

*Geesh, almost sounds like a confession…Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s been X weeks since my last confession…Just sayin’.
**
This link leads to the YouTube of the song (give it a listen, it’s only about 2 minutes long) – which Zippy will no doubt recall listening to back in the day 🙂

Re-stringing a Life

Andres Segovia & Augustine StringsA few weeks ago, I finally changed strings on the Prisloe (my classical guitar). After a couple of months trying out another brand, some Augustine Regal/Blue High Tensions as recommended by Segovia himself, I’m back to my standard Blue Pack (Savarez Alliance High Tension 540 J’s).
In addition to his pioneering role in elevating the classical guitar to the concert stage around the turn of the 20th century, Segovia partnered with Augustine Strings in the 1940s to develop a revolutionary (at the time) non-gut string option for classical guitars. For many years since, Augustine Strings were one of very few quality options out there for classical guitarists.
All told, those Augustine’s just didn’t agree with me. My style, my fingers; maybe even my guitar. That’s part of being a working musician, trying different things to see how they enhance or detract from one’s playing. When I know I don’t need to depend upon reliability in sound/tone due to a lack of gigs, or recording dates, I often slap on different strings – brands, tensions, material composition – just to test drive the newest innovations, those recommended by colleagues and/or those with the best reviews by other players.
The Augustine strings offered up a strong rich sound in the basses with less buzzes but were harder to coax out tone colors. Plus, the trebles took several days of consistent playing to settle them into a decent tone – albeit with a plastic-y feel and muddled sound. Yes, they lasted longer and handled my hard-driven playing well, but they just didn’t offer up the variety of subtle tone colors I use in my playing or feel good under my fingers.
They also were harder on my hands. Segovia had huge hands with sausage-like fingers and probably really needed the thicker, plastic-y feeling of the strings to accommodate that physical factor. And as far as the relationship between instrument and strings goes, remember: Segovia played a huge Ramirez with 664 fret scale and larger, 54 mm nut width.
For those of you not in-the-know about the great Segovia, I found a quality, yet un-retouched video of him playing sometime in the 1960s when he was actually in his sixties. I chose this one because it’s representative of his tone/style – his signature technique of finding just the right sweet spot on the fretboard for each note, delivering a rich deep vibrancy – all while showcasing his effortless command of the instrument.

The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played, compositions are created, techniques are explored, expanded and maintained. For myself as a musician, each time I re-string one of my instruments, there is a sense of expectation. A moment in time where everything seems possible, opening up a wide world of sonic possibilities, hopes, dreams and deep expressions of my (he)art flowing through my fingers into the outer realm.
And when the right strings are strung, those aural rewards inspire and invigorate…
The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played.
Life is lived.
And when the right strings are strung, life is magical.

I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10b NKJV

SwS project status & my basic music score editing process

4/6 'Final Finals' music scores 100% finished!

4/6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores 100% finished!


First off, I’m thrilled to announce that 4 of the 6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores mentioned in the previous post are 100% finished. Nestled in their respective PDFs, each are ready to be distributed in multiple media formats when the time comes. Their timing is intertwined with the release of both the vignette and recorded music parts of related content from the overall SwS project.
That said, the Goat Suite (Saga) scores are not even ‘Final Finals’ yet even though the music has been recorded and ready for mastering since 2017 and the related vignettes are now nearing the formatting stage for publication. The original scores are still scruffy with scribbles from the recording sessions.
Given that Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite (Saga) will be the first section of the project to be released, those scores are now top priority for beginning the Final editing process. For a sense of what’s involved, my Goat Suite (Saga) is written for 2 classical guitars, mandolin, 12-string acoustic guitar and rain stick. I have the Master Score pretty much done, but the details specific to each individual part need to be entered onto each of the extracted part scores.
Here then, is an overview of my basic music score editing process, as promised.

  1. Enter original hand scored piece in NOTION – just the notes, no dynamics, interpretive suggestions, fingerings, etc.
  2. Fix weird quirks that NOTION places in score regardless of how info is entered (ie-stem direction, rests, location of text info, etc.)
  3. Print it out and play from that score to approach fingerings with a fresh eye and jot down
  4. Add fingerings, and simple dynamics in NOTION, print out for spacing/alignments and jot down by hand extra needs for score as play through it.
  5. Continue with edits (#2, #3 & #4) with an eye for keeping the score uncluttered and easy to read for the player yet filled with the needed information.
  6. Add title, composer, dedication, copyright, etc. info and arrange text nicely on score, sometimes defying NOTION conventions.
  7. If composition has more than one instrument, extract each part from Master Score for individual print out.
  8. Print Master Score and any extracted parts scores to PDF and print out to proof.
  9. Proof as needed.
  10. Repeat #5, #8 and #9 until becomes a true FINAL, then print to PDF.

Using my arrangement of Mo Giolla Mear as an example, here are photo’s of the process continuing from its mention in a previous post.

The following two score photos correspond to steps #1, #2 and #3 of the basic process overview:

My hand scored copies alongside newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

My hand scored copies alongside (then) newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear


Mo Giolla Mear excerpt

The next score excerpt photo corresponds to steps #5 & #6 – check out measure 8 for an easy to see example of a stem direction fix in addition to the overall inclusions of fingerings, dynamics, etc.

Mo Giolla Mear edited excerpt

 This last score excerpt photo corresponds to step #10 and is from the final PDF:

3 Mo Giolla Mear Final Excerpt

 Whew! I hope this answers some of the questions you my readers have asked about what it means when I mention ‘doing score edits.’ Much like literary edits, it can be tedious but the end result is the pot of gold at the base of a very beautiful rainbow.

ToDoTuesdayFive

It’s been three weeks since my last ToDoTuesday post. Here’s the latest.

(A Reminder of) My goals for the week of September 24th through October 1th:

  • Add sequin detail to PF eye done, sign/sew quilt label done
  • Work on post about music score edit process in progress
  • Get ready for out-of-town trip! done and back!

My PFWHK handmade label amidst a flock of PF's.

My PFWHK handmade label amidst a flock of PF’s.


All things must come to an end. In this case it is all things Pink Flamingo. The PFWHK is done and done! I am very tempted to hang her up facing the wall to show off the backing fabric and my snazzy label. But she has her eye on me…no can do. HA!
PF sequin eye detail

PF sequin eye detail


Our out-of-town trip was action packed. Not so much sight seeing as visiting family and investigating areas for us to relocate. More on that in a later post. Meanwhile, here are some family photos.
The Guys: my cousin Kayden (Gail's son), my hubby Terry, Uncle Dennis (my Dad's younger brother)

The Guys: my cousin Kayden (Gail’s son), my hubby Terry, Uncle Dennis (my Dad’s younger brother)


The Gals: Aunt Adua, me, my cousin Gail

The Gals: Aunt Adua, me, my cousin Gail


As for that music score edit process post? It’s definitely in the works  DONE. To catch a glimpse of the beginning of the process involved, take a look at this post I wrote in 2015. Yikes, has it really been that long ago I started entering my hand scored compositions onto NOTION?
While not mentioned on the goals listed above, the number of actual score edits becoming “Final Finals” now total 6 pieces. Including the Mo Giolla Mear piece featured in the 2015 blog post. This is a big leap in the completion of that portion of my Swimming with Swans:the music project and is worth noting.

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this – hence the linky-party connection.

’Home
* a term I recently invented

Insights into the creative life…Quotes

Couldn’t have said it  better myself…the following quotes by J. Michael Dolan

Uptight, Worked Up & Edgy!

Every single day, a plan, a plot, a project, a scheme or a great idea screams to be on the front burner: A song that needs to be recorded. A video that needs to be shot. A business deal that needs a push. A website that needs to be built or updated. A relationship that needs to be dealt with.

Important because sometimes our best-laid plans work out, far beyond our expectations. Other times they fall apart and fade away. That’s the nature of a creative, independent lifestyle. However, truth be told, it’s all those big plans, worthy projects and bright ideas that we’re NOT doing that continue to keep us uptight, worked up and edgy.

Two Fisted Advantage
(italics mine)

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs & stories you already know that I’m a huge advocate for artists & entrepreneurs. That’s because I’ve been both all my life and in my world there’s no difference between the two. They both dwell in the land of uncertainty and risk and they both have to use creativity and innovation to negotiate their way through it. That’s not all…

A songwriter (composer) composes the music he hears in his head.
An entrepreneur creates a vision for the future that she sees in her mind’s eye.

A painter prepares a canvas for her next artistic expression.
An entrepreneur prepares a Powerpoint presentation for his next keynote.

A writer processes words that stimulate and entertain.
An entrepreneur processes words that motivate and inspire.

A singer (instrumentalist) nervously stands in front of his audience and shares his soul.
An entrepreneur nervously stands in front of her shareholders and shares her vision.

Neither one would last long in a regular 9-5 job because both have a relentless muse and an untamable creative spirit which they simply MUST follow. And unlike others, A&E’s have an advantage: the unique ability to devise, create, invent, fabricate, formulate, manifest and cook-up ways to make a buck.

Important because if our world ever crashes, it will be the crazy, genius artists and risk-taking entrepreneurs who will survive to inspire us and point the way out of the rubble and into the light.

ToDoTuesday

This is my first time to do a ‘linky’ post. It may be the first of a sporadic few or the first and last of just this one. Since I covered my bases with Roseanne of Home Sewn by Us, the sponsor of this linky-party, I was assured no one will be offended one way or the other.

This also counts as day two of my 6 years on WP.org posts. My, how serendipitous.
Here goes!
My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber artMUSICwriting. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this.
My goals for the week from August 13th through August 19th:

  • Edit “Christmas Medley” NOTION score (hey, like this creative use of the square root symbol?)
  • Start ‘Pink Flamingo Wall Hanging Kit’ 

I’m planning on writing up a special post on the process of editing music scores into a Final copy, so I’ll just let that square root symbol ‘check’ linger to show I’m on track with that goal.

Pink Flamingo Wall Hanging Kit

Pink Flamingo Wall Hanging Kit


As for the Pink Flamingo Wall Hanging Kit (PFWHK)? Lots of tangibles to share with you new ToDoTuesday readers and my dear usual suspects (little listers/followers).
I don’t usually do kits, but this one was on sale and I thought I’d use it to perfect my machine walking foot quilting skills and try out a few sewing experiments.
First thing I noticed right out of the box was the quality of the pre-printed fabric. The fabric itself has a great hand and feels like a high thread count cotton. It in fact glides smoothly under the needle and is a joy to sew/quilt. The printed aspect of it, though, is quite poor.
Everything except batting and thread is included –
Pink Flamingo Wall Hanging Backing Fabric & Battings

PFWHK backing fabric, 80/20 batt, low loft batt and tip of top fabric panel


which plays well with my intention to try a ‘double’ batting application and exploring lighter weight/finer thread in the bobbin.
My last two projects involving batting yielded a sense of incompleteness. I used an 80/20 cotton/poly batt for the Project4Now quilt which handled & quilted nicely, but feels flat and heavy. On my Proud2Bee an honorary Manc wall hanging I used a low loft poly batt which handled & quilted nicely but hangs flimsily.
For the PFWHK I decided to combine the two – with the 80/20 cotton/poly against the backing fabric and the low loft poly against the top fabric. I spray basted the two together then spray basted the outer layer of the 80/20 to the backing and then the outer layer of the low loft to the top. After smoothing everything out, I needle basted the new quilt sandwich for an extra measure of security.
I chose thread I already had on hand: a Gutterman 100% cotton Pink thread for the outline stitching required around the PF’s body and a Mettler Metrocene poly White thread for the vertical quilting lines. Both had The Finishing Touch Bobbin Thread 100% poly White 60 weight thread in the bobbin.
pretty pink stitches

Pretty pink stitches


Using left sided quilting barUsing the walking foot for all stitching applications, I used ¼ in. Quilter’s Tape for the first two vertical quilt lines then added the left-sided quilting attachment spacer bar to continue the vertical line quilting on the PFWHK.
I learned two cautions with the walking foot:

  1. The ¼ in. QT peels back under the walking foot, sticks & acts as a stitch-shortening ‘brake’
  2. The presser foot glides under basting thread, catches & acts as a stitch-shortening ‘brake’, too

~~~~~~~~

ToDo for the week of August 20th through August 26th:

  • Continue edits on various NOTION scores
  • Finish PFWHK
  • Maybe have something to post on next week’s ToDoTuesday linky party

Thanks, Roseanne for letting me try my hand at this linky-party!

’Home

 
*new term I just invented!

Giving Voice: Gaelynn Lea, Violinist

Friday, July 26th was the 29th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was also the day I first learned of a remarkable musician on the PBS Newshour – Gaelynn Lea, Violinist.

Notable quotes from her interview:

“Adaptive music is not as common (as adaptive sports) but I hope that it becomes more common.”

on playing the violin:

“I realize that you probably don’t know unless you have a disability that you spend every day modifying everything. I’m not concerned with doing it the way everyone does it, because I can’t really do anything the way other people do it. So, for me, finding a way to play violin was just a matter of time.”

The final set of lyrics to her newest release, “I Wait” written in defense of the Affordable Care Act, protecting those with preexisting conditions:

“We need a seat now at the table, so please invite us.
Or
Don’t pretend to care.”

Poetry Shoutout: “In Brigantia” by Andrew James Murray

In Brigantia by Andrew James MurrayGood poetry meets you wherever you are then draws you into its world. Seamlessly weaving place, perception; revelation, inspiration. Touching both the mind and soul.

The poetry of Andrew James Murray does just that and his second published poetry collection, In Brigantia does not disappoint.

~~~

I prefer reading poetry in the deep of night, the early recesses of morning. I like to take my time and linger, savoring each line and nuanced word choice within the context of the whole of the poem.
Yes, I flip through a new volume upon first receipt, even skim a few lines, but ultimately, the hunkering down with a new collection of poetry is an anticipated event – date – I make with myself for some dark day, quiet evening or womb-like twilight.

~~ Phrases to savor ~~

“From this soil,
seeded with the dead,
beautiful things will grow” (from: In Brigantia)

“Our country is too small
for road trips.

There is nothing epic
about these squeezed shores.
Where are we to go
to find ourselves?” (from: Motorway)

“A dog barks itself
into tomorrow,
clawing back the shade.” (from: Nocturnes)

~~Regarding process~~

“Some lines come to me when travelling, such as with Railway Platform.
We passed through a station (without stopping) which, due to rain sweeping in, appeared abandoned, except for a guitar case no doubt left by its owner who was seeking shelter while waiting for his/her train.
I was thinking about how platforms are normally busy places of greetings and farewells, and maybe some of those could, somehow, be held in the atmosphere and tapped into to work as inspiration to creative people. Like the owner of that guitar case.
Like seeds growing in darkness.
That’s how my mind works! And that’s how that poem was born before we’d reached the next station.” – Andrew James Murray

~~~

In Brigantia can be found at Amazon and Amazon UK

~~~

Andrew James Murray, Manchester UKAndrew James Murray is a writer and poet who is still firmly rooted in his childhood town in Manchester, England.
He has a wife who keeps him grounded, and four children who keep him young.
Among other things, he loves history and roots, books and writing, spirituality, landscape, music and the outdoors-all of which he can become a tad obsessive about.
He also tracks Great White sharks throughout the world over the internet, much to his wife’s consternation.
He can be found writing about anything and nothing over at City Jackdaw and at Coronets for Ghosts for all things poetry related.
Andrew is currently working on his first novel.

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