Friday, November 1, 2013

Inspiration - What Not to Choose for a Project

I have been traveling a bit and now am wondering what my next project will be!  That is always the most difficult thing to decide.  So many great ideas.  When I was in Spain I took some great photos at the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and hope to use some of them.  Also when we were in New Zealand in summer I was greatly inspired by the countryside.  I don't normally do a lot of landscapes but they are different and interesting too.  The challenge is to find something that is exciting for me and the viewer!  I think about both aspects.  Also I like to have some kind of a focal point in my design.  So now the work begins!  Searching through hundreds of photos for something that inspires me!  Then I put it into my Powerpoing program where I have a file just for inspirational photos.  Then I project them on my design wall with my Casio projector and see what they will look like very large.  I will know what interests me better at that point.  I don't like to do projects that have lots of the same things in them.  I have a beautiful photo of a water lily you can see here.  But for me the repetition of the creating the petals would make me crazy!!! 

So I continue on looking at other subjects.  If the photo has hundreds of small windows like some of the buildings along canals in Italy or France, I would rather not spend my lifetime cutting them out. 

I love to take photos of scenery, but these are also very difficult to recreate in fabric especially if they have a lot of "negative space" like lots of sky or water where there is nothing else like in this great picture from New Zealand. 

The great thing about creating photos in fabric is that you can eliminte stuff you don't want like the fence in the foreground here.  I love the silhouette of the trees against the bright background.  Maybe it would be interesting to try!  My students always ask what are the best types of photos to use for the projects.  I can show you lots of the ones I wouldn't use, but finding ones that I WOULD use is the difficult part.  Many times students choose photos I wouldn't try and their projects turn out fabulously well!  You never know.  We are all creative in our own way and who knows what someone might come up with!  You just have to try it.  I will let you know what I come up with for my next one!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Home from Workshops in Spain!

I'm home again from my whirlwind trip to Spain over the last few days!  The countryside is beautiful but hot.  We had great projects at the two venues I was teaching.  Such a broad variety of projects in the two classes!  Great stuff!  This is Montse's canoe dedicated to her husband who loves boats.  When you find the perfect fabric to do what you want in a project like this, it makes the whole design come together.  The water fabric was a light gray to dark gray gradient print that worked perfectly on the cloudy day the picture was taken. 

Value is always important when designing a project.  Pay attention to the values, the very light and very dark!  A small project like this is perfect for learning my fusing/fabric painting technique in three days!  I'm very proud of her. 

I'm sure I have many great pictures for future projects.  We visited a couple of beautiful medieval villages with arches, stairs, ancient windows and doors that will be perfect for my architectural style.  I'm looking forward to being home in my studio for a while this winter to work on more designs. 

This is the medieval village where Rosario Casanovas now will have her studio.  The architecture is magnificent and inspiring.  Wish my studio was in a place like this!   She was my translator and hostess during this visit to Spain.  We spent the first few days in Madrid area and then took the fast train to Girona north of Barcelone  for the last workshop.  The train went 300 km/hr or about 200 miles an hour!  I tried to take pictures but the scenery was going by so fast it was gone before I could click my camera!  So quiet!  And the engineer didn't even talk on his cell phone.  We went to a festival in one small town, Begur.  It was a Cuban festival to celebrate their heritage and everyone wore white with Cuban style hats.  It was fun and also a beautiful village!  Great mojitos! 

The streets were decorated with different things hanging from wires.  These little parachutes were very pretty!  People were dancing in the streets.  I would definitely have loved it more about 35 years ago!  I went the first day to Madrid and took the on/off tour bus for the day.  That is the only way to visit a really large city!  In the afternoon when I was hot and tired of walking around I went to the Prado, museum art gallery.  Very exciting to see Frederick Frieseke's painting below.  He is from Owosso, Michigan, and was an impressionist painter during the Monet times, late 1800's and early 1900's.  I love his work!

I hope to have more pictures of students' projects to show one of these days!  They were coming along fantastically!  They don't realize how well they do in only three days.  I have been doing this since 2006, that is just the fusing stuff.  I hope they enjoyed the class.  I think they did.  You can maybe see more on my Facebook page at  Also check out my schedule on my website at  to see if I will be teaching in your area one day

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Capturing Brittany Wins in Grand Rapids AQS Show!

I'm very excited to announce that my piece, Capturing Brittany, just won Best Machine Workmanship in the AQS Show in Grand Rapids yesterday!  How exciting to win a great prize like this for a technical skill and design.  I have worked for many many years to improve my stitching and I guess it is ok now.  I have a new machine I have been using for the past three years, Janome 7700.  It is a fabulous machine that has been very user friendly especially for the work that I do.  I have gone through many high end machines and had lots of problems with tension and thread breakage.  This machine doesn't care what I use in it which is lots of different top threads and ONLY mono-filament in the bobbin.  I have tried lots of different mono-filament threads over the years and my favorite one is CHEAP!  The cheaper the better.  They all work pretty much the same.  They don't melt as some have suggested and are very great for not showing up on the top of your quilt.  You can fill the bobbin three times more full than with regular thread so you don't have to change it as often. 

Here is a detail shot of a student who was sketching in the village the day we visited with her art class.  I loved the architecture of this northern France village called Dinan.  I used several Stonehenge prints by Northcott in this design.  I love the variation of texture of these prints.  Also you will see a very tiny amount of fabric paint I always use to add the fine detail to my pieces  like the shadows behind her legs and arm, shoe details, shading around the windows.  I use my opaque fabric paints for this because they cover up the fabric and allow for blending of different fabrics together.  You can see more about them on the Tools Page of this blog.  Also you can learn to make your own art quilts like I do on my Fusing/Fabric Painting to Create an Art Quilt CD-ROM on my website at this link.  Thanks to everyone for your nice comments on my win on my Facebook page!! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My New Pattern, Quail, Is Now Ready!

My piece, Quail, is now in pattern form for you to try!  Check it out on my website at on the CD/Patterns Page. 

Quail Pattern, 2012

So hopefully the links will all work for purchasing the patterns.  If it doesn't please email me at so I can just send you a Paypal invoice for it.  I am also working on a new pattern, Rose, from the picture below I took a while ago in California. 

This will be a pretty pattern for you to try too!  I love roses!  So the other thing I want to tell you about today is that I have entered my big new piece, Enter My Sanctuary, to an art competition of which the prize is a trip to Paris.  Of course I had to enter and now you get to help me get to Paris.  Here is the link to vote for my piece!  I hope to get there again one day to take more pictures for inspiration for new work! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Home From New Zealand

We are home now from our fabulous trip to New Zealand!  What a great experience!  The countryside is incredible and the people were very nice.  This was the scene at the end of Lake Taupo next to our hotel.  I opened up my curtain everyday to see this view!  This is what I guess was called Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings.  It was winter there but not really winter according to we from Michigan.  I loved the weather, about 50 to 65 in the day and colder at night of course.  Great fall weather so we didn't die in 95 degree weather like back here in Michigan. 

The classes were great and my students were brilliant as usual!  There were 35 teachers at the Taupo Symposium in all.  A great lineup of teachers like Gloria Loughman, Michele Hill, Phillipa Naylor, Susan Brubaker Knapp, and so many more.  I would love to go back to another New Zealand quilt festival one day!  I guess in 2017 it will be in Christchurch which would be great because it's on the south island that we didn't get a chance to see. 

Mud pots are basically boiling mud in this volcanic area.  The patterns are beautiful.  Above that are dormant volcanos that erupted in 1886 and killed 200 people including the Maori that lived there.  This is Lake Tarawera outside of the Rotorua area.  While we were there, an earthquake occurred in Wellington which was about 4.5 hrs south of Taupo.  In our classrooms every morning we went through the evacuation procedures and what to do in case of earthquake.  Seemed a little unnerving!  But they are used to it (like in California).  Now I have to go through all of my photos to get inspired for a New Zealand wallhanging.  My husband and I took lots!!!!  We also visited Hobbiton, the location for the filming of the Hobbit village scenes in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.  It was very fun.  Movies sets are really well done.  Sort of reminds you of Disneyworld!!  More later after I go through the rest of our pictures. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Designing Nearly Finished!

After all this time I am nearly finished with this piece.  I have a little more re-doing on the geranium section at the top and then it's finished.  I will then have to top-stitch it of course, but the rest will be done.  This piece as I mentioned before has been a challenge.  Creating the foliage and flowers was not easy.  They were all fussy cut and assembled individually.  Also the leaves were done this way too.  Here is a picture of it so far.  I will be changing the shadow at the base of the geraniums a bit, but otherwise I am mostly happy with it. 

Priest's House Entrance

I'm not sure what to call it now.  It is the entrance to the priest's house in Yvoire, a picture I took a few years ago.  I am very happy with the hydrangeas on the left now.  Of course the blue ones are more of a focal point so they pop out.  The ones on the left don't have to.  This piece is quite large too at about 45"H X 60"W.  It will be a challenge to top-stitch!  If you have any ideas on names, please let me know.  My email address is, my new one!  Thanks!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Excitement in Paducah

Last week I was very privileged to have taught at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.  I had a wonderful class full of great ladies very excited to learn a new technique and create their own art quilts from their own photos!  It was a very fun three day workshop with 20 enthusiastic girls.  A couple of their projects are shown below.  I know they will finish them! 

The rain came down in buckets and much more during the early morning of our last day, Saturday.  A couple of the ladies were staying at the local Days Inn a couple of buildings down the road from where others of us were staying at the Drury Inn.  We were the lucky ones.  The Days Inn was flooded at least a foot high on the first floor.  One of the girls woke up in the morning to a foot of water around her bed IN HER ROOM!  Her rental car was nearly floating away in the parking lot.  She didn't even know their was an issue going on outside and inside her room.  No notification from their staff!!!!  Unbelievable!  So if you go to Paducah in the rainy season, be sure to stay at a hotel located higher than creek level!

I have been working on my latest piece a bit over the weeks.  Here is an updated picture of how it's going.  It has been a challenge because of the foliage.  That is always a difficult thing to create depending on what types of textural green fabric you have.  I have been cutting the leaves out individually.  Time consuming! 

The blue hydrangeas are created from fussy cutting pieces of a very small blue floral print and fusing them in clumps like in the photo.  Finding the perfect floral for them was hard.  Now I have to create the other hydrangea bush in the lower left corner where it is currently blank.  Not sure which fabric to use! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Email Address and Update on Current Work

I have had problems receiving email for a while now through the server I have been using.  So I am changing my email address to  If you have sent me anything recently and have not received a response, it probably got lost in cyberspace because of the server issues.  Please delete the old address and update it with this one! 

Below are the two new photos of my current work.  It is going slowly.  The foliage and flowers in any design are the hardest part to make look realistic.  I will be plodding away on this piece for quite some time I am sure! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

My New Piece, Capturing Brittany, Wins Second Place at Denver National Quilt Festival 2013

My piece, Capturing Brittany, wins second place at the Denver National Quilt Festival this weekend.  I was waiting to hear about this show before showing it to everyone.  So now you can see the full finished piece.  It has been a very busy couple of weeks after my daughter got married last weekend.  It was fun of course!  Here is a picture of the finished piece!  Check out all of the winners at this link

Capturing Brittany 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beginning My New Piece

As I mentioned in past posts I am beginning my new piece, Priest's House.  Here is the first photo of my progress so far.  I have been working on it for a couple of weeks now.  The floral areas are always the hardest.  This one will be very complex because of all of the vegetation in it.  The hard part is finding fabric that works and gives the look you want, light and dark, the right texture. 

Below is the picture again I am working from.  I will lighten the geraniums in my design once I find the right color of paint for them.  This piece will be quite large at least 55" wide, big for me. When you have a design that has a lot of detail, it's nice to do it as big as possible.  Then you can add more detail and the pieces won't be so small.  I think the black in the shadows of my geraniums needs to be toned down a  bit too.  I will use paint to do this.  I also don't want the wall inside the door to look as grungy as it does in the picture so I will use fabrics that blend more together for this part. 

More posts to come!  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Orange Poppy

Sometimes I have to create samples of my patterns.  It's fun to a point and then I get very bored with repeating them.  This one is my One Poppy Pattern that I created in a sort of red/orange color for the pattern.  This variation was fun to do adding the seed pods and leaves and changing the color to the orange family.  Below is the original pattern and the new orange version!

You can see more about this piece on my Etsy site at this link  It's very vibrant in the orange against the dark background (more than this picture shows).  I used a variegated thread with oranges and browns in it and did my free-motion stippling.  It is treated with UV protection stain guard and has a split sleeve on the back for hanging on a single nail.  If you want to see my patterns, go to this link on my website and scroll down to see the patterns including this one. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Floods and New Work

We have had a lot of rain!  Floods everywhere!  At our house we have been very lucky to not have any flooding, but a lot of others weren't so lucky.  Here in the middle of Michigan the land is very flat with lots of lakes and rivers.  When it rains for forty days and forty nights (seemed like it), it puddles up as my husband says. 

This is our local country club.  This is not a bridge to nowhere.  It is a bridge crossing a very small creek.  This is now lakeside property!  I don't know which hole this normally is but it's totally a lake now. 
Quite a lot of water.  Some friends of ours had 6' of water in their basement.  Not fun.  I have been a little side tracked with my daughter's wedding coming up this weekend.  I have lost my direction in my studio.  So now I am trying to get back on track!  I have my pattern all ready for a new large piece I will be creating over the next few months.  I love this picture and hope it turns out well!  We will see.  I will post progressive photos of it as it grows.  That is always the fun part, watching it become something.  Here is the photo I will be working from.  It is the entrance to the cure's house (with an accent on the e that I can't make with this program) the priest's house in Yvoire, France.   The flowers and architecture inspired me along with the time of day I took the photo giving lots of shadows to give it depth.  I will use more vivid colors of fabrics for the hydrangeas since it looks like they are past their prime here.  Floral areas are the most difficult to create with fabric.  I want them to look realistic and often not a lot of fabrics are available for this.  We will see what I find!  I'll have to go shopping in my mother's fabric stash!  Anyway I am really looking forward to beginning this project.  My Stonehenge by Northcott prints will be great for the old walls. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Small Wall Hanging

This is a picture of my newest piece that is about 18"H X 21"W.  A friend of ours, Mark Kotanchek, is a birder and takes incredible photos.  He has a ton of them, and I loved this one.  I saw one of these on top of one of the motel room buildings when I was last teaching in Scottsdale.  I don't know exactly which type of quail it is, but it is quite striking. 

I don't do too many birds but this one was fun.  I stitched the background with a variegated thread in this sort of climbing leaf pattern for something different.  I used a tiny amount of paint to add the fine detail to the finished fused design.  You can try my fusing technique too getting all the information you need on my Fusing/Fabric Painting Technique to Create Realistic Art Quilts which can be found on the Tools page of this blog.  More information can be found about this piece on my Etsy Page at this link Lenore's Etsy Page

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter Sky Shredded Art Quilt Finished

This piece was very challenging!  I used the shredded art quilt technique and tulle to create the sky.  Then I used my fusing technique to add the tree on top of a layer of tulle and fused it directly to the tulle.  Then another layer of tulle and stitching.  The stitching was the challenging part! 

Winter Sky, 29" H X 23"W, 2013

When doing free-motion sewing on the Janome 7700 with the feed dogs down changes the hole size where the needle goes through the needle plate to a single needle width instead of the large open hole you can zigzag through.  I didn't know this so when I was stitching using a very heavy black thread it was too thick to go through this small hole.  I broke several needles and the thread a lot.  I took the thing apart and saw that this happened when the feed dogs were down so I switched it to keep them up.  No more problems.  It stitched through the large space instead and allowed the thick thread to go through too.  So finally I finished the stitching!  Halleluiah. 

Try this shredded technique sometime.  You can get rid of lots of scraps of fabric you have laying around.  This technique was originated (I think) by Noriko Endo of Japan.  She does beautiful work.  I have a description of how to do this technique along with how to put a glued binding on it when you are finished on my Shredded Art Quilt CD-ROM you can find on this blog on the Tools Page.  It's fun to trying something new! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Work

Dinan, Normandy, France
A couple of years ago my husband and I traveled to France with some friends.  We went to Normandy and took many pictures there.  The architecture was so different from other areas of France, the buildings darker, more slate like.  In this village a class of art students were sitting around sketching.  I was inspired by the beautiful buildings and even the students!  This is my current project I have been working on for a few weeks now. 

It's growing!  On this project I decided to try something new.  As I create each piece of the project I am doing my detail painting right then.  It has been even more fun to create!  I will not go back to the old way of waiting until I'm finished fusing the whole design anymore.  I get a real sense of how it will look when finished this way.  Much more satisfying even!  I have been using my Northcott Stonehenge prints for this design which give perfect texture and value for the stone buildings.  I am very excited to continue this piece and finish it to see how it comes out.  Value is very important in design, can't stress that enough.  Look at Grace Errea's work to see how value can be a main design element putting color second on her website at  I was just teaching with her at Quilting in the Desert in Scottsdale, AZ, last week.  A really nice venue!  We had a two day fusing workshop and a three day workshop.  You can see more about my schedule and workshops on my website at