ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Free Issue ... Read my Article

Machine Quilting Unlimited Magazine has published an on-line issue that is free to you if you sign up for their e-newsletter. They've reprinted a few articles from the past in this issue, including my article "Art Quilting as a Career". If you missed this article last summer, you can read it now by signing up. Just click on this link.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Art Quilt Series/Student Work

Last night I purchased these tulips at the grocery store. Even though we are experiencing warmer than usual winters in Ottawa, we sure don't have flowers, so some fresh spring blooms at this time of year can really cheer one up!
This morning as the tulip blossoms started to open a bit, it occurred to me that they looked a little like worn and jagged knee joints! Can you tell where my mind is these days?
The washing machine repairman came by today and pronounced my washing machine not worthy of fixing. I promptly went out to buy a new (well actually used) one. I like the old style, top loading washing machine that doesn't save water. If you are only dyeing for yourself I think the water saving machines are great, but I want to be able to easily rinse out 30 meters at a time. Besides, with all the dyeing I do, my washer takes a beating, and these old style washing machines are much easier and cheaper to fix. I've also tested and think I can dye sitting down using a chair on wheels and swivelling stool in the basement.

But let me get to the main reason for this post. Mainly I want to showcase some student work. Saturday I taught Part 6 of my Art Quilt Series at Dragonfly Fabrics in Ottawa. I've been meeting with this group one Saturday a month for the last six months. Our last class covered a variety of edge finishes, framing and mounting options, labels, documenting and photographing your work, entering shows, selling your work, and evaluating your work.

We managed to get a group photo. From left to right, standing in the back row are me, Suzanna, Carolyn, Josée, Ghyslaine, Lynn. Sitting in the front row, from left to right, are Jeannie, Madeleine, and Sue.

Several students brought completed or almost-completed works to class. Jeannie created this piece after our last class on Surface Design. She used foils and Shiva Paintstiks to create the leaves from stencils. Love that yellow-green colour scheme, one of my favorites!

It was certainly Ghyslaine's day to shine! She brought three pieces. The first is her completed design exercise, in which I had asked that students work with 5-7 values of the same colour.
Ghyslaine also completed a piece using "seat of the pants" construction methods to depict her two cats under the Christmas tree. The variety of green values she cut free-hand for the tree give it depth, and the composition is interesting because it shows just a small section of the tree.
Ghyslaine also just finished free-motion quilting the poppy she started in my "In Full Bloom" class about two years ago. It only needs squaring up and binding now. By the way, that's Linda Doyle, the owner of the shop on the right-hand side.
It looks like I'll be doing another multi-part series at Dragonfly fabrics next year, probably my "Uncommon Threads" class. Stay tuned for details.

Josée spent some time dyeing since the last class, in preparation for creating a piece inspired by a purple iris. She learned how to dye in this class.

I love when students send me photos of their completed projects started in my classes. I have two I've been waiting to share. The first is the tree that Sue B started constructing at the "Tree Collage" class I taught for the Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild a few weeks ago. In this photo the collage has been built on muslin, which will be cut away later, and then the tree will be attached to a background. What a fabulous job Sue did with her values and knots in the tree. She later told me that she did experience some difficulty with thread breaking while trying to free-motion the trunk. I always suggest using a Topstitch 90/14 needle and a good quality polyester or cotton thread. I personally love Superior Rainbows, colours 855 and 856, for my tree trunks. When stitching through more than one layer of fusible, I do not advise using rayon thread or any other threads that may not be as strong or may be more difficult to use in your machine.
Last year Carol M. took my Liberated Strip Piecing class at the Country Quilter in Richmond, Ontario. A few months later I found the finished piece hanging in the Richmond Quilt Show. I love the bright colours and graphic lines. Carol actually sold this piece at the show!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Newfoundland: Warm Hospitality, Good Food, and Interesting Weather

I blew into St. John's, Newfoundland along with the snowstorm on February 9. We were the last flight to make it in that night. Visibility was near 0 on the ride to Conception Bay where I would be staying with Regina McCarthy. I met Regina when I was lecturing and teaching at Quilters' Pleasure Weekend in Cornwall, Ontario last year, and ever since she has been trying to arrange my visit to Newfoundland. During my visit I was hosted by the Eastern Edge Quilters Guild and the Cabot Quilters Guild.

On Friday night I delivered a lecture and trunk show for both guilds. It was held at the Marine Institute of the Memorial University of Newfoundland. I'd say this is the most hi-tech lecture hall I've appeared at, and it came with a technician for the evening!

The quilts were are all spread out on the stage, and you can see members arriving for the meeting.

Here you can see Regina introducing me.

On Saturday and Sunday I taught for the Eastern Edge Quilters Guild. The topic for Day 1 was "In Full Bloom". This is a somewhat complex class and you can see that students only finish one or two petals in one day. I brought two bins of hand-dyed fabrics with me to Newfoundland. There was a pretty serious fabric frenzy the first day and about 3/4 of it was scooped up. I'd say 95% of the fabric I brought was sold by the time I left.

My hand-dyes are seriously depleted (this is a good thing!) after St. John's, Newfoundland and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories so I need to get dyeing before my Toronto tour in three weeks! I have figured out a way I can dye sitting down (my knee is still a big problem). The only problem is that when my husband put the bed sheets in the washer this morning the control panel started smoking. We either need a repair or a new washer. Hope that will be resolved this week!

By the end of my week in St. John's, Elsa had completed her tulip and I would say she did a fabulous job! That's Lorraine peeking out the left side of the photo.

Day 2's class was Liberated Strip Piecing. It is always so much fun to see students let go and cut and piece freely without rulers.

I was delighted to meet Karen Colbourne Martin and Judy Cooper, both well-known Canadian fibre artists, who came to my trunk show and classes. Here Karen contemplates her liberated design.

Another student, who was a bit shy about attention, was turning out a very interesting piece.

Since I tend to be a bit monochromatic in my colour schemes, I really enjoyed Jennifer's use of colour.

On Sunday night there was a catered dinner that guild members could attend. It was held at Joanne's home. I should mention here that Joanne is a medical doctor, and that there were several medical doctors and nurses in my classes, which somehow comforted me given the state of my knee. Regina's niece, who has a catering company, was responsible for this scrumptious meal of cod au gratin, chicken penne, lasagne, and several wonderful salads.
The chocolate cake Joanne baked was literally to die for! I felt a lot better eating it knowing that a doctor was promoting it!

When Regina booked me for this trip, she suggested that I take a day off between teaching for the two guilds. That proved to be a wise suggestion. So Monday I slept in and then went for a long lunch with Regina and Jennifer.

Here is Regina showing off her dish of cod tongues. I tasted them and they were really good!

I ordered cod on penne with a rose sauce. Yum!

After lunch Regina and Jennifer took me on a driving tour of the city of St. John's. I should say here that Regina is a very experienced and knowledgeable guide! She and her husband ran "McCarthy's Party", providing tours of Newfoundland and Labrador for 30 years. The company is now run by one of their sons. We started out at Signal Hill, which overlooks the City. St. John's is the oldest city in North America, being claimed as an English colony in 1583, although John Cabot is believed to have discovered it in 1497. Newfoundland and Labrador only joined Canada in 1949.

We drove through the old city, where colourful clapboard houses line the streets.

We made a stop at the Craft Council shop, where I purchased several pairs of socks hand-knit in Newfoundland.

After my tour, I was handed over to the Cabot Quilters Guild, where I stayed in the home of Brenda Lewis. Brenda took very good care of me (there's a picture of Brenda a little bit later in this post). Oh and I must mention that she lives in a rapidly growing town called "Paradise"!!

The next day I taught my Collage Tree class. Here is the class holding up their work at the close of the day. Most people do not finish building the tree trunk in one day.

On the last day I taught my Beyond Stippling, Part 1 class. We had wonderfully spacious classrooms for each class.

That night the Cabot Guild took me out for dinner. More fish and I was happy! From left to right: Brenda, Lorraine, Andrea, Marina, Elsa, Sharon and me. I breathed a sign of relief, as I made it through the week despite my knee problems! There were some painful moments when my knee locked, but sitting down seemed to unlock it. I'm still walking with a cane though.

What will I remember about Newfoundland? First and foremost the people! Their warmth, hospitality and helpfulness were truly outstanding and made my trip so much less stressful. A chair with wheels was provided for my workshops, I was driven door to door, and a complex network of quilters' husbands showed up at venues to transport my bags. I will also remember the wonderful food. I think I ate fish (halibut, steelhead trout and cod) nearly every day. Last but not least, I will remember the weather. Where else can one experience four seasons in one day? I experienced it all! A snow storm with whiteout conditions, freezing rain, gale winds and driving rain, fog, a little sunshine, and more freezing rain!

I returned to Ottawa Thursday night, and yesterday taught Part 6 of my Art Quilt Series at Dragonfly Fabrics here in Ottawa. I will be blogging about that in the next couple of days. I now have three weeks to spend in the studio, dye fabric, and take care of my knee before I head to Toronto.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Good and the Bad

Life often hands out good and bad at the same time. I haven't had the best of weeks, but two good things happened.
I have been awarded a Liebster award for my blog. It is apparently given to bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. My friend Carolyn, whose blog you will love bestowed the honour. She is always up to something creative.

Apparently there are rules attached to the Liebster Award-
1. Thank the giver and link back to her/him
2. Reveal your top picks and leave a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too.

I have not yet met rule #2, and that is to reveal my top blog picks. At the moment I'm preparing to fly to Newfoundland tomorrow, so I promise I will pick some of my favorite blogs upon my return!

Second, I was asked permission this week by Marina and Daryl of Quilt Inspiration blog to use some of my images to write a feature article about me on their blog. Marina and Daryl live in California and have a blog following of over 700 people. This is great publicity for me. So check out the images and what they have to say.

For the bad news. Well I have just been diagnosed with Osteo-arthritis. I had a really bad flare-up after my trip to Yellowknife, likely the big boots I was wearing caused some mis-alignment/injury to my knees. It got so bad last week I had to cancel a class because my knee locked and muscles went into spasm. The next day I had x-rays and learned of the arthritis. Both my grandmothers were very incapacitated in old age due to arthritis in their knees, so it wasn't welcome news for me. However, we have medications and surgery available today that can keep us mobile longer. I am experiencing relief from anti-inflammatory drugs and have been cleared to go to Newfoundland. I will, however, be using a cane, sitting more, and needing some help with my luggage. The hospitality and warmth of Newfoundlanders is legendary so I should be in good hands.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Home from Yellowknife

I guess you got the impression that I loved Yellowknife and the North? Yes I did, and I haven't finished blogging about it yet. I left Monday during a minor blizzard, flying over Calgary (where I saw no snow on the ground), and home to snowy Ottawa. This is what the situation looks like at my little abode in the suburbs
The window upstairs on the right is my little studio, so I have a good amount of light, a view of the street and the maple tree when it turns golden in autumn.

I taught my Reflections class over two evenings, and then Saturday and Sunday was devoted to my intermediate and advanced free-motion quilting classes, Beyond Stippling, Part 1 and Beyond Stippling, Part 2. You can see the class at work here. Deanna, in the green sweater, is well on her way with her free-motion work. She is one of the young quilters, not too far in age from where I was when I began. Deanna just sent me the loveliest message on Facebook. She said that I was her most inspirational instructor so far. Isn't that nice?
Arlene, below, flew all the way from Inuvik to participate in the classes.
A group of us went back to Bullocks Bistro on Saturday night, and the place was packed. I tried the Arctic Char this time, and it was fabulous. It is very similar to salmon in appearance, but in taste it is much better, and it was about as fresh as it could get.

Of course if I meet any fabulous felines on my teaching trips, they always get featured on my blog. On my last night, Donna and Ray invited me down to their apartment for dinner, so I got to meet their two cats, Mulder and Eddie.

This lovely calico is Mulder. She once lived with her littermate Scully, who has now passed on.
After Scully passed on, Eddie came to live with Donna, Ray and Mulder. What an entertainer he is! He scuttled about, jumped on things, and hung upsidedown from the bathroom faucet to put on a show for me.

I'm teaching two classes locally tomorrow and Saturday. I'm also still unpacking but at the same time repacking since I'll be leaving for St. John's, Newfoundland in a week.