Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sewing Heaven

Since we landed in Asheville a mere 4 weeks ago I've been in sewing heaven. For years, and I mean years, I've wanted to learn to sew garments. I know what you're thinking. Everybody wants to sew clothes since Project Runway hit the airwaves! It's true!! Here in Asheville there is actually a fabulous garment fabric store called Waechter's. They have yummy silks, wools, brocades, batik rayons and silks, corduroy. They have it all!! I am going to the shop every Friday for what is called "sit and sew." This is a brand new activity at the shop and is a well kept secret, so far. I've been the only one there for the last two Fridays so I get one-on-one with Elaine, a wonderful seamstress, teacher, and quilter too!

So far I've made a Gore Skirt with 6 godets (aren't you impressed that I even know these terms?!!) out of silk noil, a full length robe to wrap myself in after a shower, made out of a luscious knit (my first project on a knit) and this Friday I am embarking on a lined Parisienne Flapper Coat circa 1930's designed by "Decades of Style." I'm using a Persian Lamb fabric with silk for the lining. Could you just die?!! Oh, I also whipped up a set of lined curtains in silk dupiani for the living room. Since I'm a seamstress now, I NEEDED a serger, of course. So off I went to the shops in town that sell these scary little, yet powerful machines to see which one to get. After much angst, I am happy to be say I am the proud owner of a Bernina 800DL, 4 thread serger. It actually arrives the end of this week. What is great when buying a Bernina product is the support from the local shop. I went to Asheville Cotton Co., the Asheville quilt shop extraordinaire, and Robin, the owner, hooked me up. I'm getting all the serger mastery classes a girl could ever ask for, for FREE!!

I've included a picture of my skirt, and also of the Persian Lamb I am going to make the coat from. If only you could feel the fabric. On the retreat front, things are happening there too. Our first Energy Retreat with Sharon Schamber is next month, so I'll be off to Payson for 4 days. My new website design is up and I love the blue chick logo Laura Jane from ChickenScratchStudio designed for me. Check it out! www.silverrainmgt.com

Until next time,

Monday, October 19, 2009

We're in Asheville

We did it! After nearly 40 years in Florida we have moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina. This is a picture of our new home!!

It's been completely crazy for the last several weeks, hence my lack of blog updates. Moving from one side of town to the other, which we did only a short 10 months ago, was a piece of cake, compared to moving out of state. There's a science to packing for a long move, but science wasn't my strong subject in school! Jay can't find the remote to the TV and my special box with towels, sheets, and other essential "must haves" for the first night in our new home ended up in the basement behind 40 other boxes in the basement. YES!! We have a basement. I've never had a basement. Well, not a real basement. In Florida, we have garages that are lovingly called "Florida Basements" because cars never make it in the garage, just all the stuff we have no room for anywhere in the house lands there. Now we not only have a garage, but a basement too!

I've also been busy putting together lots of retreats for Sharon Schamber, Gina Perkes, and Terry White. Sharon and Gina live only a mile from each other so we decided to have a series of retreats in Payson, AZ in late Feb-early March 2010, May 2010, and Sept 2010. Jay and I , and Toby, of course, can't wait to be in Payson,, working with Sharon in her brand new studio for her retreats, as well as with Gina, in her retreat location. I've got specific dates on my website so check it out. www.silverrainmgt.com

And, speaking of websites, I've been working with an incredible graphic designer, Laura Jane. She's put together a new look for Silver Rain. I can't wait till it's up and running- hopefully in the next week or so. So please check back soon. And check out Laura Jane's other work at: www.chickenscratchstudio.com She is so talented!!

Until next time,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sharon Schamber Retreat Success

We did it again. Another incredible week with Sharon Schamber doing an Art Quilt Design and Construction retreat. I almost can't describe it, except to say it was exhilirating, creative, exhausting, fun, and inspirational too. Nine ladies spent the week with Sharon, Jay, and me creating their own works of art. Now that we've done two of these retreats, I understand

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quilting Retreat with Sharon Schamber Redeux

I promised everyone that I'd post more pictures from Sharon Schamber's Art Quilt Design and Construction Retreat. Without further adieu, here they are.

In my last post I told you how Sharon Schamber not only changed the way I will quilt forever, but also changed my life. That is an understatement! Welcome to the new and exciting and zany world of quilting retreat management and business agency. Jay and I have launched our new business, "Silver Rain" which encompasses custom retreat design and delivery as well as business agency services. We've been working around the clock and have loved every minute of it.

Sharon is returning next week for a second Art Quilt Design and Construction Retreat. We are hosting 9 quilters for a 5-day intensive retreat with Sharon at the helm. Kathy R and Natalie C loved the first retreat so much, they are coming back for the second retreat!! These ladies have some incredible design goals and it will be amazing to watch them during the week as their art comes to life. We expanded the retreat this time around and added some after dinner time with Sharon plus additional independent work time.

To top it all off, Jay and I (and Toby too) will be managing 3 retreats for Sharon in her Payson, AZ studio in late Feb and early March 2010!!

If that isn't enough, we are privileged that Terry White, a gifted thread painting and embellishment quilt artist and teacher, has given us the green light to create some unique 5-day retreats for her!

I've been taking a stab at designing a website for Silver Rain. So far, I've only managed to put some text into a canned template. But, it's a start! Now if I could only figure out how to...

Until next time,


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Design & Construction Retreat with Sharon Schamber

Top left: Nat's original with her piece on right. Center- My piece. I was working on shading around the eyes, and Bottom: wide angle shot of our work space.

It's been a while, again, since my last post. This past month I've been busy putting the finishing touches organizing our 5-day design and construction retreat with Sharon Schamber. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity to spend a week with Sharon. She has changed my life forever. Not only will my quilting be forever changed, but more importantly, I have changed how I see the world around me. I can't quite put it into words, at least, not yet. Suffice it to say that life at the Harry home will never be the same again.

The retreat was a new concept that Sharon and I put together after we met at a guild sponsored class in Lakeland, FL last November. We were talking about how I'd love to come to one of those Quilting in the Pines or Desert type event that she teaches at. Sharon suggested instead, that she'd come to me, if I could get a small group together. That way we'd only have to cover Sharon's travel and lodging, etc instead of paying for a group of 7 to fly to her. Well, that's all it took for me to be off and running. I called her husband, Gene, Thanksgiving Week 2008 to beg a block of Sharon's time and he told me he had Sharon booked well into 2010. Then the following week Gene called and offered a week in August 2009 that opened due to a cancellation. I couldn't believe how lucky I was!!

My friend Kathy and I handpicked 5 girls to participate with us in this adventure. Sharon gave me cart blanche to design the retreat around any theme or technique we wanted to learn. It became a 5-day intensive retreat on design and construction of an art quilt.

The first morning of the retreat, each girl presented her drawing as a basis for an art quilt they wanted to make, but didn't know quite how to execute. The first step was for each of us to talk with Sharon, one on one, about our vision for the quilt. What was so amazing to me, was that Sharon saw things in each project, that none of us saw. After initial discussion, Sharon got us working on our master copies. She worked her magic on each of us, and by the end of the 5th day, seven gorgeous art quilts were coming to life. Now, I am making it sound so easy, but believe me, it was anything but. It was intense and completely mind blowing. But worth every second. No one wanted the week to end.

It was incredible how Sharon was able to move around the work room from one project to the next and know EXACTLY where each one of us was, what challenge we had, how to help us, and guide us. More incredible, actually, since each project required different techniques.

Evyonne drew a "gaudy fish" and, with Sharon's knowledge of movement and color, Evyonne redesigned her water and used piecelique to create unbelievable background for her fish. She also put patchwork inside some of the waves using piecelique- something none of us would have thought to do. Evyonne used Shiva paintstiks to add dimension to her fish, and did some amazing thread play too.

Barb sketched out an orchid scene and was off and running using piecelique, applique, micron pigma pens, Shiva paintstiks, and thread play too. It was great when she let out a happy squeal after seeing how easy and fast it was to make elegant and flowing stems using piecelique.

Natalie recreated a stone sculpture of a woman using only shades of gray fabric and black and white shiva paintstiks. It looked so much like the real sculpture that when Sharon sent a picture of Nat's quilt to Gene, he called and asked why we sent him a picture of the sculpture, not the quilt!! Natalie will NEVER look at anything the same way again. She has learned to read shades and light and everything with dimension. WOW!!

Sharon loved the 5-day retreat concept and doing art quilting. so much so, that I am going to organize more 5 to 6-day retreats for her. So, for those of you that want a life-changing week with Sharon, give me a call, or email me. I will get Sharon to your hometown for an experience of a lifetime!

As the girls finish their art quilts, I will post pictures for everyone to enjoy.
Until next time,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

to dye for

I finally mixed dyes and prepared fabric for painting and dyeing. It was a lot of fun playing chemist. I used Melanie Testa's new book, "Inspired to Quilt" for various recipes needed to get fabric and dye ready to create art. I love her book because it gives step by step directions for exact measurements of all the stuff you need to do this. There are many steps! First I mixed the pro print paste, since it has to sit for at least 1 hour before you use it. Dyes are the consistency of water which makes it very hard to paint with so you need to thicken the dyes by mixing them with the print paste mixture. While the thickener was setting up, I made a batch of soda ash, urea, and water to soak my pfd- prepared for dyeing fabric. The fabric has to be prepped to accept the dyes by first soaking for 30 minutes then drip drying. Finally, I mixed up dye concentrates of 5 colors with fiber reactive dye powder, urea, and water. This is how Jay and I spent our 19th wedding anniversary!! What fun.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm a MAC

Well, I finally did it! I became a MAC. I am sooooooo happy. It didn't take me long to get comfortable on the platform and the experience is second to none. Why did I wait so long?

I've been busy getting the house ready for Sharon Schamber's visit in August. She is staying with me for 7 days to teach me and 6 friends quilting design construction and implementation. Sharon is one of only 24 "master quilters" in the world. And best of all, she is humble and generous and excited to teach. In preparation, I've made a queen size quilt for the bed she'll be sleeping in and I've begun on a second queen size bed quilt for the other guest room as well. All my quilts, except for the 2 on the sofas in the family room, hang on the walls. What kind of quilter would I be if there weren't quilts on the beds?!

I just finished an alocasia leaf wall quilt as part of my leaf series. I've got the monstera you all saw last month sitting on the fireplace mantel. I still have a banana leaf to do, then it will be a real series, with 3 pieces.

I still have to mat and frame the water color paintings I did in class last month. I really enjoyed myself and found the experience very relaxing. It was a good launching point for me to start painting with textile paints and dyes on fabric. Jay has come up with some very cool design ideals which I will trace onto PFD- prepared for dyeing- fabric, paint, then quilt. It's great that he is so supportive of my quilting addiction.

This Saturday, July 4th, is our wedding anniversary. We're starting our day at the beach to watch the sunrise with mimosas in hand. Then in the evening, we'll watch fireworks on the docks in downtown Stuart with some friends. The city always puts on a fantastic display.

Until next time- which I promise won't be too far off.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm a Painter too

I've been buried in old issues of Quilting Arts Magazine Judie was kind enough to share with me. It is amazing how creative and uninhibited quilt artists are. Since I have a hard time finding commercial fabrics that inspire me, I decided I am going to paint my own canvas, if you will. I purchased some PFD (prepared for dying) fabric and textile paints and all the assorted goodies that a painter needs and I am embarking on designing my own fabric. I even got some Tjaunting tools to draw with batik wax- way cool stuff. After painting and dying, I will draw with my thread to add dimension and detail.

I think it was Judy Coates Perez' blog that pushed me over the edge to bite the bullet and plunge into painting on fabric. Her work is incredible. You can check her out at www.judyperez.blogspot.com

I'm also studying color theory with her. We are doing an online interactive 6 week class using Setacolor transparent paints on watercolor paper to make our own color wheels, combinations, etc. It starts next week, and I can't wait.

And if you know me, you know I usually don't do anything half way, so to get a shot of self confidence before putting paint to fabric (which can get expensive) , I've spent the last 2 Wednesday nights at a watercolor painting class, where I am just about done with my very first watercolor picture. It's called "View from a Window" and depicts a set of shutters open with a view towards the water, where a sailboat sits, with the mountains in the background. I am doing a second watercolor of the Jupiter lighthouse next- Jay doesn't know about this project, since I want to give him the painting for his birthday in July....so don't tell!

I'm happy to report that while my hip is still on injured reserve I am back on my bike and up to 7 miles in the morning time. Gotta love it!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

domestic diva

It's been some time since my last post. I really don't know where the time has gone. When I worked I couldn't imagine how I'd fill my days. Now that I'm not working, there isn't enough time in a day to get done all the things I want to accomplish. Time seems to be rushing by.
This post is called domestic diva. I guess I've become one of those...I can actually cook. I've been chastised for years that I can't cook, but I've discovered I can. I even made a chutney with pineapple, dried cherries, almonds, and various other goodies that I put on chicken. Jay went wild- he couldn't believe I made it. I am, however, a utilitarian cook for the most part. I put a well balanced meal on the table (well, sofa- since we sit on the sofa to eat as I hate sitting at the table) every week night for dinner. Mark taught me how he makes salad dressing and I make my own, fresh, every night. It's got flax seed oil, organic apple cider vinegar, organic soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, agave nectar, cayenne pepper, ginger, and garlic. If that doesn't qualify me for domestic diva status, I don't know what would.
I had a slow week with my quilting as Rachel was home for 10 days visiting in between semesters. Since I couldn't get any uninterrupted quilting time, I decided my sewing room needed some color. Our new home is currently "beige" on "beige" on "beige." I am NOT a beige person. So I pulled out Jay's 8 ft ladder and painted the room, one wall at a time. It took me 3 days to complete (I did 2 walls in one day). I love it. Two walls are a lime green and the other two are a soft lavender.

Rachel left on Mother's Day morning and I've been back in my sewing room quilting away. Toby's face is just about done. I need one more white fabric to complete his chest then I get to start thread painting. I just taught myself thread painting. I found a book with progressive lessons and off I went. I've done lessons 1-3 and can say without hesitation that thread painting rocks!

I'm excited that I get to spend the day with Kathy tomorrow. We've formed a Thursday quilt artist group and will work with various mediums doing lots of experimenting. Natalie and Judie are also in our group. I can't wait to show everyone the stuff we work on.

I've put up a few pictures of my thread painting lesson pieces and an updated Toby face. I also finished a lone star quilt that I free motion quilted with wild feathers and I made a monstera leaf quilt using invisible machine applique as the technique. CLICK on any picture to see the details. Hope you all like them.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Portrait of Toby

I've been busy in my sewing room the past week and haven't been back to blog. As I mentioned last time, I wanted to let everyone see my progress as I put together a quilt of Toby. I've been trying to learn how do some simple editing in Adobe Photoshop Elements with the pictures my official photog takes of my work (Jay). I can do some basic editing, but it's going to be a slow and painful learning curve for me. I just can't plant myself in front of the computer long enough to sink my teeth into the program for a whole day.

I took some headshots of Toby and manipulated the photo into black and white layers. I then projected the picture using the overhead projector onto the wall and traced the main layers. From there I labeled everything and assigned fabric selections to various layers. I am still working on getting my colors right and putting together the basic shape. Here are some pictures of the tracing, the transparency I made to trace the piece, a real picture of Toby, and the beginning of the fabric. Hope you enjoy it.