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07/04/15
Getting Inspired
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Challenges, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 10:51 am

Last weekend I got inspired and started a quilt for the JAM art quilters July challenge, What Inspires You? I drew hearts of 3 sizes, made templates out of cereal cardboard, chose fabrics that I loved, marked and cut the hearts out, and arranged them randomly on a background fabric. It was spontaneous and fun. What inspires me? Love of family, love of friends, love of quilting, and love of art/ mixed media/ art journaling.

We are having a 3 day holiday weekend here because of the 4th of July, the independence of the United States and the birth of our nation. I intended to have a quiet weekend to myself with simple plans, and instead unintentionally made too many plans. A good friend of mine told me you need time to yourself when I told him about all my plans. I didn’t think so two days ago but now I realize he was right. Yesterday was too chaotic and I was totally exhausted when I got home. I am just getting over being very sick for 2 weeks and thought I was better but I am still supposed to be taking it easy. And as an artist I need to preserve and make time for myself every week, not just when I’ve been sick.

This morning I watched some videos from Journal52 and realized that I need to get back into painting/ art journaling/ mixed media. This is very important to me and I have been neglecting/ avoiding this since my mother went into the hospital February 14. I have been spending a lot of time worrying and unable to focus. I was able to start working on small art quilt projects in April and that has helped me a lot. There has been some hand sewing involved and that is very centering for me. What I really need to do is work on art journaling projects that are inspired by my internal landscape. The year long classes I signed up for in January are great and I can use them as a jumping off point, but they are not getting me where I am, where I live, where I belong. You can’t force it, you have to let it flow.


Mary MacIlvain

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05/25/15
Transition
Filed under: General, Collage, Quilt Art, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Challenges, Design, Creative Every Day, Book of Days, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 3:58 pm

For a while now I have been thinking about where I want to go with my art and my life so I have been feeling my way through transition. I was feeling uncomfortable about where I was at and was unable to focus on any one thing long enough to work on my art. Instead I spent a lot of time just being and flowing from one moment to the next and taking an introspective look at what I was doing and why. I asked myself a lot of questions about my life and my artistic direction.

As suddenly as I had stopped, I got started on doing art again but this time in a more relaxed and contemplative way. I no longer felt driven to complete the weekly challenges in all the classes that I had signed up for in January as I was not enjoying the frantic pace very much. And I felt that I needed to be more self directed.

I started quilting again after a long haitus from needle and thread and found myself torn between art quilts and mixed media. Could I do both? Did I want to do both? The answer was a tentative yes. There is only so much time available and I work full time and want to spend time with family and friends. But I need my creative time and it is very much a part of my well-being. A lot of my work needs to be done at home. Still, there are portable projects like hand sewing aspects of a quilting piece or small mixed media pieces like ATCs or twinchies that can be done with markers. So off I go to work or visiting friends with a tote bag containing portable art and quilt items.

This is the opening spread for Book of Days 2015 Volume 2 Mixed Tape. It’s just a simple spread with a vintage photo of me and scans of CD covers of music that I listen to now. No, I don’t listen to oldies and like new music. I added some rubber stamping to unify the spread.

This is a spread for Book of Days 2015 volume 1, week 7. The theme was choices and I was inspired to write a spontaneous poem about choices. I used a simple collage approach to the spread.

Choices
We all make choices in life.
Some choices are small,
like what to wear today,
or what to have for lunch.
Some choices are not so small,
like who to spend time with,
where to work or where to live.
Some choices are not so clear,
like what is the right thing to do
in a complex or difficult situation.
You will choose many paths in life,
and it is ok to change direction
when you see new possibilities,
or when the truth becomes known.

This was from a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to look for a magazine. I have a lot of Art Journaling magazines at home and I have a previous issue of Bella Grace which is wonderful, but I wanted a magazine about art quilting and Quilting Arts was recommended to me by a friend.

This is my earth day challenge for the JAM Art Quilters’ April challenge. The only restriction was that the quilt had to be round and it was great fun exploring this format I made this 14″ round quilt at the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild retreat at the beginning of May and am very happy with how it came out. This Earth Day quilt, along with the Postcards from Iran quilt, will be in the JAM Art Quilters group display at the Newington Library in Connecticut for the month of June.

This quilt is a mariner’s compass wall hanging for Father John, St Mary’s retired pastor. He had seen a table runner in this pattern that I made for my son a few years ago and he liked it very much. So I made him a wall hanging this month.

This is a work in progress for the JAM Art Quilters’ May challenge, which was to use a poem or quotation. I chose the Rumi quote, “Open your hands if you want to be held.” It seemed only natural to trace my open hands for this piece. I am adding a few more things to the piece and then it will be ready for quilting. I am using hand applique techniques in this piece which makes it a portable project and it is also very relaxing to do hand work.


Mary MacIlvain

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04/12/15
Art Journaling
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Art Journal, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day, Book of Days, Documented Life, Life Book, Journal52
Posted by: Mary @ 6:52 pm

There have been too many things going on in my life the past few months so I have not made a blog post for a long while. I wanted to share some of my work now before more time slips away.

This art quilt celebrates my return to quilting after a long hiatus (I had a wart on the underside of my thumb for over a year and that made it difficult to sew or even write). Last month I joined an inspirational art quilt group and they are doing monthly challenges. The March challenge was architecture and I chose to design Postcards from Iran to show the rich history of this country that dates back to the cradle/birthplace of civilization. The architecture is beautiful and so are the people.

This is a spread from Book of Days 2015 V1. The prompt was feathers. I painted a background and did pen and ink drawings and then colored it in with markers. Besides the feathers, I also drew some simple dream catchers and stamped with two of my hand carved stamps. I left two of the feathers uncolored because I liked the way that it looked.

This is from the Documented Life Project and the challenge was to use layers that you love and to see how many layers you could use. I had fun with this!

This one is also from DLP and the challenge was to use under papers. I chose to use papers that I had printed with my Gelli plate. I had a marathon art journaling session on Valentine’s Day and although I was alone, art journaling was a very nice way to spend the day in a snowstorm. It made the day special for me.

This page is from Journal52 and I am doing quick and easy postcard size art and taping it into a calendar planner. This must have been done on Valentine’s Day too and yes I am an incurable romantic and no I don’t want to be with just anybody which is why I have been alone a long while.

Another DLP piece and the challenge for this one was to use a repeated shape. I photographed previous work and glued it down for this page, then added the small dream catcher like circles as ornament and the words that I was feeling at the moment. The work came from a circle book I made with round pages that I had painted with watercolors, written an inspirational word on each page and then stamped them with my hand carved leaves stamp. It is fun re-using your work in another art piece.

I did this today for DLP and wanted to show my work table - the dining room table covered with a vinyl tablecloth. The challenge was to use 5 layers and I did something simple - paint, paint, and more paint and then I used punchinella (sequin waste with little holes) followed by an interesting circles stencil. I didn’t use any water, which is something I really like to do, because the Dylusions journal does not like getting wet and the pages really buckle when you work the paint wet.

This piece was from Life Book and it doesn’t look anything like the lesson seeds of love but I enjoyed doing the layering and used my awesome tree stencil over the layers to give it a floaty look. I added some sideways writing along the trees.


Mary MacIlvain

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11/22/14
Fall Quilt Retreat
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Family and Friends, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 7:21 pm

I went to a three day quilt retreat with the Greater Middletown - Heart of the Valley Quilt Guild at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share about my experiences there. I have not been able to participate in any quilt activities the past 6 months because of my cataracts. After the cataracts healed from the surgery in October and I got my new glasses, I was able to thread a needle again, so I was a last minute signup for the retreat and filled the last empty spot. I have been attending quilt retreats for well over 10 years (see Quilt Retreat and Friendship) and these respites from daily life with good friends are very important to me.

Usually I go to a retreat with too many projects to complete and I stay up late and don’t take enough time to relax and visit with friends. This time I was the first one in bed on Friday night instead of doing marathon sewing and being one of the last ones going to bed. I signed up for a chair massage by the fireplace on Saturday and that was wonderful as all the tension in my shoulders melted away. I worked on some small journal page size experimental art quilt pieces without having any plan in mind. I signed up for the art doll class with the talented and creative Pat Gardiner. Her dolls have been exhibited widely including Houston Quilt Festival, the biggest quilt show on earth. While this was not a doll I would have chosen to make on my own, it was a fun experience and everyone in the class enjoyed themselves in the process of making the dolls and sharing our own stories.

Friends are important - the good, healthy kinds of friends who don’t have a hidden agenda and have your best interests at heart. These are the friends who accept you as you are and don’t expect you to compromise your values or do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. They don’t cross or push your boundaries - they respect your autonomy as a person and your right to be who you are. That is what friends are all about.

Here are some photos from the quilt retreat. Enjoy!


Mary MacIlvain

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10/19/14
The Impermanence of Things
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 12:20 pm

Yesterday I went to the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) for my Connecticut Chapter meeting of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA-CT). It’s a wonderful museum and I love going there. SAQA-CT meets in various places around the state as we draw members from all over the state. The meeting was inspiring and energetic as usual with discussions about upcoming art quilting initiatives. We took a long break in the middle of the meeting to view the new exhibit, Let Me Quilt One More Day, with invitational quilts from Connecticut quilt artists as well as quilts that span the past 250 years.  The exhibit runs until January 4, 2015 and is a must see. Syl will be there to greet you :-)

It is always great to see the art quilt pieces that members have created. I am a fairly new member and was fortunate enough to meet several quilt artists yesterday who are working in mixed media as well. It is not that easy to find people locally who are doing this kind of work which crosses boundaries and spans different art media in one piece. Most people tend to focus on one type of expression and develop a body of work based upon that, whether it be painting, collage, photography, sculpture, art quilting, surface design, bookmaking, doll making, or something else. If you have a lot of interests it is difficult to limit yourself to just one thing and it is hard to choose. The good news is that you don’t have to choose - you can do whatever you want. It’s your art piece and your expression of what you feel inside and want to bring to life.

The wall of cups at the museum is gone. It has been there in the stairwell for a long while and I knew it was temporary but I was still sad to see it go. I found this picture I took of it the first time I saw it. It’s an installation piece and the entire piece was made of plastic drinking cups that are adhered to the wall in a swirling pattern. It was fascinating to walk around it and look at it and I wish that I had more photos but I don’t. But I will always have my memories of being in the same space as this beautiful work of art and what I was feeling at that time. It does speak to the ephemeral nature of life and the impermanence of things. All things must pass and nothing lasts forever. It is so important to enjoy what you have and the people in your life and be thankful.

You can see the edge of the blue Chihuly glass sculpture on the side of the cup photo. To fill the void left by the removal of the wall of cups , they have brought in a companion Chihuly piece to share space with the existing sculpture. The two glass sculptures are quite striking appearing together like this, as if in a dance of light. When two people come together with feelings of love they each bring their own light with them and together they make a greater light that is more than what was there before. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And yes, that is how I feel and I hope somehow you know this and understand.

It was a delightful day at the museum bringing warm thoughts and feelings to my heart. A day like this lets you leave worries behind and rejoice in being alive. It also makes you realize what is important and what isn’t worth getting upset about. I do fine hand work and like to embellish my small quilts with beads, buttons, charms, yarn, sea glass, shells, and other things, but I have not been able to sew with a hand sewing needle, except with great difficulty, for about a year now. I am finally facing up to the problem with my hand not being successfully treated by the regular doctor, so I am seeing a hand surgeon on Friday to talk about my options and schedule surgery. I need to be able to sew little objects onto things, not just quilts but paper too, so I am going for it! Glue is fine but stitching is more permanent, even in an impermanent world. SAQA-CT will be mounting a second Local Color exhibit in 2016 and I want to create an awesome piece that will get juried into the show.


Mary MacIlvain

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09/27/14
Weekly Round Up
Filed under: General, Collage, Quilt Art, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Quilting, Creative Every Day, ATCs
Posted by: Mary @ 7:35 pm

My art quilt group, SAQA-CT, is making small quilts to decorate the 15 foot Christmas tree at NBMAA, the New Britain Museum of American Art. At first I thought that I wouldn’t be able to participate because of my vision problems. But I am happily recovering and healing from two cataract surgeries in August and September and over the past 2 weekends I was able to put together a 7″x9″ improvisational piece for the tree. It is a wonderful museum and I love going there, so this fundraiser is a great way to show my support for the museum. All of the art quilts on the tree will be for sale once the tree goes up. It is a little early to be thinking about Christmas but it takes a lot of planning to arrange for members to make small quilts for this worthy cause and deliver them to the museum.

It has been a selfie week for me. Here I am with my hello kitty clock :-) I texted this photo to my kids this week with the message… “Do you know what time it is? It’s selfie time!” We like to text back and forth and it is a fun way to keep in touch.

I was unable to do much the first week after the cataract surgery, but I did manage to get out my Inner Excavation book by Liz Lamoreux and start on a collage journal spread for week 1. It took me another week to finish but it is OK to slow down and let yourself be in the moment and heal. I have been working primarily in acrylic paint for a while now, so it was refreshing to get out my art bin and pull out torn book pages and snippets of scrapbooking paper. The prompts included taking a photo of a cupped hand holding a small object which was a fun thing to do. I added washi/craft tape to frame the photos. Then I wrote a poem that fit nicely on the left side of the spread. I found the book’s companion blog piece from 2012, Inner Excavate Along, for more inspiration. Liz has such a wonderful approach and I enjoy her insight into the small yet special moments in life. She is also one of the top 100 pinners on Pinterest!

I have been thinking about friendship lately. Sometimes you have friends that you didn’t even realize were your true friends. Something happens and they are there for you and you didn’t know they would be. It is a wonderful feeling to have such a friend - like a hidden jewel. A true friend is such a treasure, more than any riches or wealth can bring. You may not see that friend for a long time but when you see each other again it is just like you saw each other yesterday.


Mary MacIlvain

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05/24/14
Two Totem Quilts
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Design
Posted by: Mary @ 4:30 pm

Today I attended the regional SAQA-CT meeting which was held at the Windham Textile Museum in Willimantic. The Connecticut Region of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) supports and promotes professional fiber artists and teachers as well as quilters working to develop their fine art skills. I was so thrilled when I viewed the Local Color exhibit and discovered that there was a local chapter for the national organization. It is so exciting and inspirational to be a part of a group that is exploring art quilts and pushing the envelope on quilting, taking this art form to a new level. I have both an art background and a quilting background and have been thinking about trying to combine the two, all the while working in somewhat of a vacuum locally with online groups being my main inspiration and support. I have one hand in paint/mixed media and the other hand in fiber/quilts.

These two totem quilts were placed side by side and scaled using Gimp, a free photo editing program, for ease of display. Totem-1 (7″x22″), the wavy piece on the left, was made from decorator samples that I obtained from a friend. I never say no to found fabric! The heavy fabric was free-form cut with scissors, stitched down flat, and then stapled. Totem-2 (8″x24″), the piece on the right, was free-form rotary cut and pieced intuitively, then decorative yarn was arranged and stitched down in place of quilting. I develop a piece as I go along in an intuitive way. I used to plan everything out but I have let go of that to a great extent and prefer to let my muse have her way.


Mary MacIlvain

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03/22/14
Small Art Quilt Published in Book
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Design
Posted by: Mary @ 5:27 pm

One of my goals last year was to get my art work published. So I have been submitting work for publication to several calls for entry and I am happy to say that I have had a small art quilt published in the Geography of Loss by Patti Digh. The book came out in January on Amazon and it is a beautifully designed book filled with art to accompany different people’s stories about loss and how they navigated through that loss. The legend on the front of the book says: embrace what is, honor what was, love what will be. The book is very special and it is an honor to be in the book on page 92. Here is my quilt that I call Far Away and it is about someone leaving and then not being in your life anymore. The piece is meant to be a positive statement about how people pass through our lives, some briefly and some for a long time, each one touching us in some way.

It has been a long while since I have made a blog post. I don’t have a reason why this has happened and it probably doesn’t matter. I have been creating a lot of meaningful art work and sharing my art in smaller circles, as that feels more comfortable to me. A lot of my recent work feels too personal to share in a larger arena. I would like to say that wherever you are in your journey, the important thing is that you are learning, opening up, and growing more into being yourself.


Mary MacIlvain

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08/19/12
Giving Flight Blog Hop
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 8:28 pm

in our Giving Flight Blog Hop we are celebrating the 1st anniversary of our coming together via Kelly Rae Roberts’ Flying Lessons: Take Flight. To celebrate, we each chose a way to give back to the world in some way. It makes sense to do this because we have spent a year in this special space, giving to one another. The Flying Lessons Alumni group means a lot to me and is always a source of creative inspiration and friendship.

My choice for giving back to the world is to answer the Call to Artists for Prayer Flags at the Oceanside Museum of Art in Oceanside California. Artists from all over the world are invited to express their prayers and concerns in the OMA Prayer Flag installation at the museum. Each flag is created in the artist’s own style, then hung outside for a while, its words and sentiment dissolving into the wind and being spread to all whom the wind touches.

Here is the Prayer Flag that I am donating to the museum for their installation:

And here is the companion prayer flag that I am keeping at home to remind me and inspire me:

Here is a list of my friends the Flyers who are participating in this blog hop, with links to individual blogs. There are about 400 of us but not everyone has a blog or is able to participate in the blog hop. They are all here in spirit.
Janet Forrest
Cat Athena Louise
Stacey Bockness Curry
Kris Lanae Binsfeld
Renee Burke
Mary Sterk
Michelle Reynolds
Constance Rawlins
Kelly Hoernig
Cindy Jones Lantier
Kathleen Conard
Claudia Dow
Susan M. Walls-Beverly
Linda Barutha
Linda Kinnaman
Cheryl Dossey
Sofia Dabalsa
Jill Lambert
Sally Rose
Ursula Smith
Deborah Eaton
Lori Leissner
Creative Clearinghouse
Lenore Angela
Katharina Star
Rachél Payne
Sherry Richert Belul
Deborah Velasquez
Shannon Etnyre
Live Laugh Love Retreats
Kelley Miller Artworks
Wini Dougall
Carol Bray
Tracy Yarbrough
Diane Enright
Jamie Burch
Mary Cottingham
Susan Dietz
Lori Moon Studio
Kim Hyer
Tina Carlborg
Catherine Pistone
Mary MacIlvain
Carolyn Chenault


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07/21/12
Design Wall Progress
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 9:51 pm

The quilt on my design wall is growing and changing, like me. I started with the same palette of fabrics that I had chosen for my abstract landscape quilt. Some of my favorite ethereals are in that plastic sweater box. The design foundation is based on a 1.5″ square grid set on the diagonal and the pieces I am superimposing over the grid are cut 2″ square, 2″x3.5″, and 3.5″ square. For those of you who don’t sew, a .25″ seam allowance is used in quilting and foot #37 on my Bernina is exactly a quarter inch from the needle to the edge of the foot, so I don’t have to pin or mark the fabric to sew pieces together.

This quilt is abstract and the concept behind the piece is the crossroads or the labrynth. I have been through the labrynth and have been at the crossroads many times. One of my favorite Robert Frost poems is The Road Not Taken, an excerpt quoted here:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I always take the road less traveled so these words ring true for me and are dear to my heart. It is not always easy taking a different path than everyone else, but it is a lot harder being someone you weren’t meant to be. Above all, you have to be yourself. Which is why I am not going to show you the beginnings of a quilt I made in a workshop in April and have put away. Why? Because the quilt is not me. It looks like someone else’s work.

Here is the progression of work on the design wall quilt so far. The triangles sticking out at the edges will get squared off after the piece is assembled but there is more work to do yet. It has been extremely enjoyable to work on this quilt and it parallels some inner work that I am doing. When the mood strikes I add pieces or rearrange to my heart’s content. It is so self affirming for me to work on something in this manner. Make your own path and find your own way.


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10/02/11
Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Quilting
Posted by: Mary @ 6:14 pm

My friend Betty is making and donating quilts for this worthy cause and I want to let other people know about the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. She has encouraged me to get involved too especially since smaller quilts are easier to complete and I have difficulty working on (wrestling with) large quilts now because of my hand injury. My beloved aunt has some dementia so this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

“The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative™ (www.AlzQuilts.org) is a national, grassroots charity whose mission is to raise awareness and fund research. The AAQI auctions and sells donated quilts, and sponsors a nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer’s. The AAQI has raised more than $591,000 since January 2006.

Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan is the founder and executive director of the AAQI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operated entirely by volunteers. She is a quilter. Her mother had Alzheimer’s.”

You can view some of these wonderful quilts on this Flickr stream and some of my friend Betty’s many quilts are displayed here.


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08/13/11
Rainbow Leaves Quilt in Show
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Design, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 6:34 pm

My rainbow leaves quilt was in the GHQG quilt show last weekend. Fall is my favorite time of year and this was a perfect theme to design a quilt for my antique four-poster bed. I chose a rainbow of colors in my favorite fabrics from stash. This is an original paper pieced design that was laid out in Adobe Illustrator. It was machine pieced and machine quilted by yours truly. It is a bit like wrestling an alligator to machine quilt a bed size quilt on a Bernina 1090 with a standard size opening but I rolled and tugged and pushed and pulled and did it in stages. The background area is quilted in loose puzzle piece shapes so that the leaves pop out and the strip pieced border has freeform leaves quilted into it.


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02/14/11
Memorabilia Crazy Quilt Finished
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 6:45 pm

The embroidered crazy quilt with photo transfers of my children is finally finished! It was still in progress last August as chronicled here and in January with the help of a few snowstorms and being temporarily snowed in I got motivated to make that final push to finish it. It is small, 16 inches by 20 inches, looks great hung on the living room wall, and makes me smile every time I walk by.

The books I used for crazy quilt embroidery inspiration were: Elegant Stitches, Crazy Quilt Odyssey, Art & Inspirations, and The Crazy Quilt Handbook, all by Judith Baker Montano, along with The Magic of Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler. I used specialty fabrics, mostly satins, silks, brocades, and some shiny fabrics, collected over a period of time. Embroidery threads and silk ribbons came from my local needlework shop, Thistle Needleworks.

The individual blocks with details, shown from top to bottom below the quilt are: my daughter holding the milk snake she pulled out of the water at Highland Lake in Bridgeton, Maine, both of my kids soaking wet in the water play area on a trip to Storyland, New Hampshire, my son driving his uncle’s party boat on a lake near his home, and the Luke and Leia Star Wars costumes that I made one Halloween.


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12/15/10
Fiber Fatbook
Filed under: General, Collage, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 10:34 pm

The term fatbook originated at ArtFest, an annual art gathering in Washington state organized by Teesha Moore. Michelle Geller has some wonderful fatbooks on her blog Hold Dear. There are also some great fatbooks in Collaborative Art Journals and Shared Visions in Mixed Media by L. K. Ludwig, a treasure trove of inspiration that I return to again and again. The fatbook is made up of 4″x4″ embellished fiber pages swapped by participants in advance and bound into a book for distribution on arrival at the event. It is a monumental effort and the results are spectacular.

Since I am into art journaling, book arts, and quilting, making a fiber fatbook was a natural choice for me. I chose a 6″x6″ page format, some Hobbs Thermore batting that was on hand, and a variety of my favorite designer and specialty fabrics from stash. Here are some of the pages assembled recently and the next step would be to add some beading and more embellishment. Making fatbook pages is a great way to open up to new creative possibilities and try new things.



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11/01/10
Fatbook - Shell Page
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Mixed Media, Creativity, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 9:07 pm

Leah Piken Kolidas’ Art Every Day Month is here once again! What may seem daunting at first, a call to make art every day, can be looked upon as a gentle invitation to create. The hardest part is getting started, but once you begin things just start flowing.

Right now I have a lot of art projects in process and some almost started. To add to this, last night I decided to create a 6″ square fabric fatbook similar to the fabric books they do at Artfest in Washington state, except those are 4 inch square and participants swap pages with each other. My pages will express ideas that come to mind while working in an improvisational way to come up with something new. Current reading inspiration has been Fabric Art Collage - 40+ Mixed Media Techniques by Rebekah Meier.

This fabric collage page, front and back, was inspired by October beach. Techniques used include free-form applique, raw edges, and a clear contact paper threads and snippets pocket with seashells tucked inside.



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07/31/10
30 Journals 30 Days: You
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Mixed Media, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Art Journal, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 8:32 am


Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio has invited everyone to participate in the 30 Journals 30 Days project today, July 31. Every day for the month of July she has interviewed a different art journaler and posted it to her blog. Today is our turn to share our enthusiasm for this creative mode of expression.

How long have you been Art Journaling? It has been about a year now since I finally got started, but I have kept written journals since age 14 and drawing sketchbooks since age 30. I have also been painting watercolors off and on since age 30.

How has Art Journaling impacted, changed, or enhanced your life? Art journaling has allowed me to be more spontaneous and free in expression. It has given me the opportunity to try new things and in a format that I love - books. It is very nice to have a record of my work in one place where I can flip through the pages. A very important aspect of art journaling is that it allows me to combine different media in one vehicle - painting, drawing, writing, photography, collage. It has also been a more portable and easy way to bring my art with me wherever I go - even if that’s just out on the front porch or relaxing on the couch. Art Journaling lets you work just about anywhere.



What are a few of your favorite Art Journaling materials? It is hard to choose just a few as I love all art supplies. First would be my paint brushes and I keep my watercolor and acrylic brushes in separate small fishing tackle boxes with their respective paints. Next would be papers and ephemera of all different kinds and a good pair of scissors. Mark making materials like pitt pens, gel pens, and colored pencils are important. And I can’t live without mat gel medium, UHU glue, gluestick, an old credit card scraper, and things to add texture like bubble wrap, plastic canvas, and a comb. I really love fiber and related items too - fabric, threads, yarns, beads.

Who are some of your favorite art journalers? This is another challenging question as basically I like everything art journaling that I see, even the things that don’t appeal to me directly. Because it is a means of personal expression, I can accept and understand that the person is taking me inside their world. My point of discovery for this type of artistic expression was Somerset’s Art Journaling magazine in Borders and I read these magazines over and over again, never tiring of the images shared inside. Since then I have discovered an explosion of art journalers online which adds to the sense of community. All that being said, here are a few of my favorites:
Connie, Dirty Footprints Studio
Lynne Perella
Pam Carriker
Teesha Moore
Daisy Yellow
Diana Trout




What kind words of encouragement would you say to an Art Journal newbie? The hardest part is getting started. Treat yourself to an issue of Somerset’s Art Journaling magazine, start clicking around art journalers’ blogs and YouTube videos, and get inspired. Gather together some supplies and a sturdy art journal that work for you. When you are ready, start with one page and don’t worry about finishing it. Then start another page. Go back and forth and work on your pages. Do what pleases you and won’t worry about making the pages “perfect”. Letting go will come with time. Remember that you are doing this for yourself… this is for you. Later you can choose what to share with others.

Where can we contact you… give us some link LOVE!
My blog is at maryart.macilvain.com
My web site is at www.macilvain.com

Short Bio
My grandfather gave me my first camera when I was 8 years old and I have long enjoyed capturing that special moment on film. I learned to sew on my mother’s old Singer sewing machine at the age of 11. Quilting and sewing have been a passion for many years because of my love for fabric and all things fiber. Watercolor painting and drawing is something that I do when inspiration comes. Recently I have been getting into scrapbooking, book arts, collage, and mixed media. I absolutely love books and read quite a bit and also enjoy trying new things.

I live in a small town in the northeast or New England part of the United States. My son and daughter are both in college and we have a mischievous cat named Tangerine who was adopted from the Humane Society animal shelter. My career world has touched many areas including computer science, research, web design, graphic design, administrative, marketing, and volunteering. The best part of all has been the people I’ve met along the way.

Enjoy in the doing and be happy in following your own path to express yourself creatively.
Mary




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01/13/10
Shafts of Light Diptych
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Inspiration, Challenges, Quilting, Creative Every Day
Posted by: Mary @ 9:46 pm

This past weekend I finished a quilt that forms a Shafts of Light Diptych with a quilt created ten years ago, in the year 2000. The original quilt was done as a challenge for the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild retreat that year. The challenge was to interpret the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, Voices of the Night/Prelude, in the form of a quilted object. This theme manifested itself to me as a visualization of abstract beams of light penetrating through the forest. I drew my design on an 18″x24″ newsprint pad (I probably sketched thumbnails first but don’t remember after 10 years) and when satisfied with the angles and layout made a paper pattern using drawing paper. The design or layout of the second quilt is a mirror image of the first quilt but with different fabric choices. It is a rare occasion for me to make a second version of anything as all my work is one of a kind.

The fabrics in both cases were chosen intuitively which is how I usually work. The only plan I did have before choosing colors was the placement of darks, mediums, and lights. Value changes have more of an impact than color because it is differences in value or shading that give a piece contrast and definition. I tend to buy fat quarters (18″x22″ or half a yard cut in half) as that gives me a lot more variety and depth in my pieces. To make a piece like this I drag out all of my fabric and go through it and choose the ones that interest me and that might work until I have a pile of fabric. This is my palette. When I shop for fabric, which isn’t often these days as I have enough on hand, I do that intuitively too, and not with a specific project in mind but with the feeling that I am adding to my palette.

These two quilts are paper pieced which is a method where the pieces of fabric are pinned or held to the wrong side of the paper pattern sections and then you flip it over and sew on the lines on the top of the paper with the fabric underneath the paper. I love to design my own paper piecing patterns and have a collection of those. The only tricky part is that everything is reversed or mirror imaged which can lead to some interesting mistakes. You can find good information about paper piecing on the Carol Doak web site if you are interested. Both pieces are free motion machine quilted and the first quilt (on the right) has beads sewn onto the surface which was done after the quilting was completed. I learned to free motion quilt in several workshops a long while ago and I have taught free motion quilting. There are some excellent books out now that describe the process and the best advice I can give you is to loosely hand baste (so the pins don’t get in the way) a small whole cloth sampler (18″x18″ to 24″x24″) using cotton batting the first time (it doesn’t slip around), drop your feed dogs, put your free motion foot on your sewing machine, relax, and just doodle and play with it until you feel comfortable doing it on a real quilt.



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12/26/09
Photo Memory Quilt
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Family and Friends, Quilting
Posted by: Mary @ 4:12 pm

Here is the photo memory wall quilt that I gave my daughter Marianne for Christmas. It was started in a workshop at the quilt retreat and finished at home. Printed Treasures inkjet printable fabric sheets are washable and colorfast and were used to print these photos with excellent results. A few years ago I made a photo bed quilt for her brother Joe with computer and monitor blocks that I had designed. Screen shots of video game scenes were printed using a different brand of inkjet printable fabric sheets and the colors washed out when I washed the quilt. It was very upsetting to have this happen but now I am going to redo the screen shots for his quilt with Printed Treasures brand fabric sheets and applique the retangles down over the washed out scenes.


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10/29/09
Making Progress
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Quilting
Posted by: Mary @ 7:51 pm

The valances got finished tonight and now I have pictures of the finished quilt as well as the valances. This gives me a real sense of accomplishment to be finishing things. It also motivates me to continue on with self directed creative work. I am starting to get ideas about designing new quilts for the walls and need to put some sketches down on paper. Some of my best thinking occurs while driving and I have been doing a lot of that lately. Pages of loosely drawn thumbnail sketches are a great way to sort out and compare a lot of different ideas. Usually I use either a sketchbook or computer paper. If the design lends itself to the computer I still sketch on paper first. The touch of hand to paper with pen or pencil activates a different part of your brain and thought process than hand to mouse. Working in a variety of ways keeps your work fresh and your wellspring of creativity overflowing. This is my 50th blog post.

There is no try, only do. Yoda


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09/26/09
Fall Leaves Quilt Progress
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Creativity, Design, Quilting
Posted by: Mary @ 10:11 am

My fall leaves quilt is heading into the home stretch. Last night I finished thread painting the leaves into the colored band border. All that is left to do is the meandering line quilting in the last white border and then the binding. My quilt should be done before winter sets in so that it can go on my bed. This quilt was started 6 years ago and has been to quilting retreats and been a long time in the making. Here are some photos showing how I take over the dining room table to work on the machine quilting. I have a Bernina 1090 which was purchased at a Super Bowl Sunday sale 15 years ago and it still runs great. It is like wrestling an alligator to roll the quilt to get the center portions between the free motion foot and the right side of the machine, bit it can be done. I did not want to send this quilt out for professional machine quilting because I wanted the work to be totally mine. The machine quilting gloves have small rubber bumps on the palms and fingers which provide good traction and flow for moving the work under the needle as it goes up and down.


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