Sunday, October 16, 2011

BIQR 2011: 37 Sketches

Long time no blog post! Yes it has been awhile! I have been madly quilting ever since I got back from the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat. There is nothing like the combination of scenic Elk Lake and the greatest quilt teacher, Gwen Marston, to get your quilting mojo going!

Gwen had plenty of her new book: 37 Sketches on hand. Gwen was extremely proud of this one, her first hardcover art book. She described in detail how fun it was to choose all the details from the debossed lettering on the cover, to the tophat, to the colour and type of end papers.

Usually the first morning of the retreat Gwen does a trunk show based on the theme of the retreat, then she leaves the quilts in a pile available to us to look through at any time. This year she hung her "37 Sketches" on the wall for better viewing and to reinforce the artistic and design component of this year's theme.

She used these quilts as an artist uses sketches to explore colour, technique, design and composition. She created a workbook of many of her ideas and techniques.

I brought a handful of matching fat quarters in solids in a colour palette that I wanted to work in plus all the solids I had on hand and started from that. But boy it was hard to get started at first. I wandered around and looked at what other people were doing, spent some time gazing at the 37 Sketches, picking out my favourites and the bits about them that excited me. Gwen's first demo was the narrow wavy line, a technique she learned from Jean Wells.

So I started with that... a snazzy, kaffe fassett fabric inserted into a plain gray...well I guess I need another wavy line! And so it goes, building onto each piece. You try out a bunch of different techniques and use what works, and cut up some that don't.

Some of what you don't use for one, may end up in another. On Day 2 I wanted to use lighter colours and work in a more landscape shape. In my first piece, my floating squares did not dance enough, so I experimented on that.

On Day 3 I wanted to work using a log cabin method. At first it was very prim and proper and then as I used bigger pieces I could add more interest in each side.

Gwen set up a gallery for the students to show their work, too. On the last day we were given a pointer and asked to describe how we chose the things we did.

This year Christine and I brought our friend Gail, far right, to the retreat. She was thrilled to meet Gwen and had a great time. You can read her version of the events at her blog The Cozy Quilter in One, Two, Three parts.

Another fantastic retreat!