Beth Markel

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Making art, and making art matter

Posted on April 29, 2017 by Beth Markel

Recently, there was a very lively, and somewhat vitriolic exchange on one of the art forum groups I belong to.  One artist was explaining a woven piece she had created which simply read “counteract” which I personally think is open to interpretation.  What do you want to counteract, or in her case, WHOM did she want to counteract?  I think art could and should represent that which we feel strongly about, whether we agree with the maker or not.  Isn’t the essence of art to provoke thought, emotion, or growth?

That discussion brought me full circle back to my sister’s quilt.  It’s been an emotional roller-coaster, sometimes with laughter all by myself in my studio, and of course, sometimes with tears, again, all by myself.  So while progress is slow, I’m just going to let it grow organically until I think it’s done.

The yellow/blue piece was another score (#Score32017) from the facebook page, “The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters” and is based on a stack of blocks I made at my 2nd or 3rd workshop, more than a decade ago.  I sliced, and randomly sewed them back together to make this little gem, which I think turned out really well.  If you haven’t yet tried your hand at improve, I highly recommend it – just dip your toe in and make something small to start – placemats, a crib quilt, etc.

Design Wall Friday 4_28_17

Cheers,

Beth

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Design-Wall-Friday, April 14, 2017

Posted on April 15, 2017 by Beth Markel

Last week at this time, I thought for sure this top would be finished, but I keep expanding it, thinking of conversations I had with my sister, and eventually how those conversations ended when she passed.

I’d like to yell at her for dying way too soon.

I’d like to hug her and never let go.

I’d like to have coffee with her at Bean & Leaf, talking and laughing until our faces hurt.

When she was diagnosed with leukemia, and wanted to talk on the phone, sometimes she would just call and say, “I’m here.  Can you just talk and keep me company?  I’m too tired to say anything, but tell me a story.”  So I would launch into memories that often began with, “Remember the time we…”

There was the time we walked in the surf on Sanibel Island until we were positively cooked.  To off-set our sun-burn, we painted our fingernails blue~

There was the time we hiked in Sedona and spent a 3-day weekend in the Red Rock canyons.  We were hiking and came across a guy sunning himself on a rock ledge – totally naked~

There was the time we were shopping in downtown Phoenix and a thunderstorm blew through and we both dashed for cover, only to land on our butts because we were both wearing flip-flops and the water created a sort of hydro-plane!

There was the time we were shopping in the Potomac Mill Outlet Mall outside Washington, D.C., and my tennis shoes squeaked, but only until lunch where we both had burgers and daiquiris, then she bought me a new pair of tennis shoes…which lit up as I walked, and she found highly amusing~

There was the time…

Design Wall Friday 4_15_17

Design Wall Friday 4_15_17

 

 

 


Design Wall Friday, DWF 4-7-17

Posted on April 8, 2017 by Beth Markel

I’m back to working on my sister’s quilt – or tribute quilt – and it’s been a roller-coaster week.  Monday would have been my mother’s 93rd birthday, and on her 63rd birthday we had cake with lots of family & friends because it occurred the same night as my sister’s wedding rehearsal and dinner afterward.  I am blessed to have had such creative, strong, intelligent women role models from an early age…but there are times when I miss them dearly.

So here’s what it looks like and it will probably be finished by next Friday.  As I put this together I think of all the conversations my sister and I had over the years, some at the dinner table, some in the quiet of the bedroom we shared, and some in her hospital room as she battled leukemia.  She hated being sick, and was so determined to beat the disease…if only determination was the deciding factor.

Design Wall Friday 4-7-17

Design Wall Friday 4-7-17

 

Cheers,

Beth

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Design Wall Friday, DWF

Posted on April 1, 2017 by Beth Markel

The last week has been crazy-busy, but before I started putting all of the left-over strips away from the last improve project, I thought I’d use up some more of my stash and sew some strips together.  I’ve had a project in my head for quite a while, and I think this may be the beginning of it – this will probably not surprise anybody who has seen my work – but it involves tons of really small strips in a more organic fashion that just a grid.

So…here’s what’s on my design wall as I close up a week of sewing and looking forward to Spring, as it was snowing here yesterday morning!

Each strip is about 45″ or close to it, and I’m liking the repeat fabrics in varying widths for continuity.  Not sure if I’ll keep the flying geese or not.

Make something beautiful this weekend!

Strip Sets

Strip Sets


Weekend Update…

Posted on March 25, 2017 by Beth Markel

I finished this improve piece this week, and love how it turned out.  When doing improve, some quilters start with what they WANT their quilt to look like, which I have done in the past, and some quilters go in with a completely blank agenda and just use what’s in front of them.  That was me this week!  Since the challenge was to use what we had, I dug out 2 of my stash containers and came up with this.  Looking at my stash bins, I could probably do this, or something similar, about a dozen times over – which I think I might tackle.  The only real choices I made after the 2 elements were done (triangles are old, from a long-ago project & I made the strip string sets from what was in my stash bin) were how to put them together.  After a couple of false starts, or flat-out ugly attempts, I thought I’d tie the colors together using a solid.  Because of the parameters of the challenge, I did have 2 “grout” choices, brown and a dark slate blue, but found yardage at the bottom of one of my stash bins.  The first piece was a large cut of snowy, bright white fabric, which completely washed out the colors of both the strips and the triangles, and the 2nd was what I used, a darkish purple/navy cherrywood.  Love how this turned out!

#2017 Challenge #2, Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters

#2017 Challenge #2, Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters

 

On a 2nd project I’m working on, I’m trying to find the right look/ink/pen that will write on dupioni silk.  Thanks to our SAQA email thread, I’ve gotten a number of suggestions, so will try them today and post my results.  I never thought I would work with silk, perhaps just because I was intimidated by stories I’ve heard about sewing it, but I backed these gorgeous silk colors, and am working with it.  My initial problem was that I wanted to print, or ink-stamp, words on the silk, but everything I tried initially was running/bleeding through the porous silk fibers.

Make something beautiful today!

Cheers,

Beth

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Design Wall Friday – DWF

Posted on March 18, 2017 by Beth Markel

What’s on YOUR design wall?

Last weekend I moved all of the pieces of my sister’s quilt off to one side so I could tackle a short project from the Improv facebook group set up to go along with Sherri Wood’s Improv for the Modern Quilter book.  It’s the 2nd challenge so far this year, and it calls for easy-to-follow parameters (score – like the conductor would use!).

Here is the “final” outline for our next group score, #2017score2, THE SCRAP STASH ELIMINATOR!!

LIMIT 1: Pull orphan blocks, never pieced blocks, or a pieced top (or all 3!) that you just never loved enough to finish. Chop it up, slash it, separate it, reconfigure it, overdye it, etc…manipulate it in any way you like to form the foundation of your new piece.

LIMIT 2: Use any of the fabrics from your scrap bin to develop out the rest of your design.
Any prints you use should ONLY come from your scraps.

LIMIT 3: You have the option to purchase TWO SOLIDS specifically for this project to help balance it/fill it out. THIS IS NOT REQUIRED — your scrap stash might have plenty of multiple solids to work with — just remember: if its in your scrap bin, then its fair game!
(Solids can be new yardage, thrifted garments, fabric you bartered for…whatever your own definition of “purchase” is!)

LIMIT 4: Utilize contrast “grouting” to join the more randomly shaped, or unevenly sized sections.

As with #2017score1, there is no hard start/finish date, just complete your score within 30 days of starting it to keep the momentum going.

So I randomly picked 2 stash containers, had Darling Husband pick 2 random solid fabrics, and this is what is on my design wall – the flying geese blocks were all together in a Ziploc bag in the bottom of one of the totes, along with miles and miles of strips, mostly from very wide fatbacks, 110″ or close to it, cut off of a completed project once it was quilted, but before it was bound.  Some of the smaller strips were binding strips, and some were fall off pieces from other projects.  Because there was a rather odd or eclectic mix of patterns, I thought the simplest thing to do would be to cut into smaller strips and create strip panels – no rules, no rulers!  Not really sure where this will end up, but I’ll have it done by next week so I can get back to my sister’s quilt…tribute quilt…unfinished conversations.

#2017 Improv Challenge #2 - Stash Buster

#2017 Improv Challenge #2 – Stash Buster

 It’s so funny – I didn’t realize there was a leftover piece from an old Stack-n-Whack quilt on the upper right hand side of the photo…oops!  Guess I’ll have to cut that up and use it in this, too!

Cheers,

Beth

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Design Wall Friday, DWF

Posted on March 11, 2017 by Beth Markel

This week was challenging, mostly because we were without power for a day and a half due to wind storms…so hard to sew!  But I’m very grateful our power has been restored and that the weather was slightly warmer for those 2 days.  It’s funny how completely I take for granted that when I walk into a room and flip a switch a light comes on verses being completely without power…no lights, no fridge, no garage door opener, no sewing, no washer/dryer.

At any rate, this is progress on the current piece I’m working on – it’s really growing on me, and it’s been a very therapeutic period of time thinking about my sister and all the fun we had over the years.  I’ve received numerous emails regarding this project, and how many quilters/artists have worked through their own losses and grief through their art.  It’s been really encouraging!

Thursday afternoon...

Thursday afternoon…

 

Piecing is coming together and I'm loving this!

Piecing is coming together and I’m loving this!

What’s on YOUR design wall?

Cheers,

Beth

<(((><

 


Design Wall Friday – DWF

Posted on March 4, 2017 by Beth Markel

Hi All,

This project is coming along – with a lot of thought given to the conversations that my sister and I had over the years, conversations I would like to have with her today, and milestones that she missed.  How we would have celebrated when our kids graduated from high school, then college!  How she would have loved being at both my children’s weddings, dancing in the grass, laughing until our sides aches – and while we disagreed about many things, including politics, we always listened to each other before we discussed things – she was my first and lasting best friend – and it’s taken me a while to reach this point of thinking about conversations – interrupted.

Interrupted Conversations WIP 3_3_17

 

Next, this is an “inchie” project.  I see the inchies on Pinterest and marvel at them, and this is part of a project for the small art quilt group I’m part of, but this is not in my wheelhouse.  I like small.  I can piece super-small – but making inchies is a challenge because, well, they have to be more uniform than free-form.  Here’s my first attempt, and the final project is only 12″ x 12″ finished, so I’ll keep plugging along – but there’s no love here so far!

 

Design Wall Friday 3_3_17 02 Inchies

 

Making every day count~

Beth

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Design Wall Friday – DWF

Posted on February 25, 2017 by Beth Markel

Hi All,

Work continues on this project, which now has a vision, direction, and actual progress!  I’ve made numerous quilts now in a progressive study of ways we communicate called, “Escuchame: The Communication Paradox” and have thought intently about how many ways we are all linked together but how fewer and fewer real connections are made…facebook, where an ideal of us is found, to texting, where our thoughts are limited to 140 characters.  For many years I’ve struggled to create a piece about missing my sister  – she died of leukemia – more than a decade ago.  I still miss her every day.  I think about all the times we used to get on the phone when I was in college, or when our children were young and just talk and talk and talk.  I think about conversations we had while the kids were running through the sprinkler on a hot afternoon, or when we were shopping and stopped for lunch – because, you know, you have to spend an entire day at the mall if you’re going to go.  Oh, how we would laugh and laugh and laugh!

This quilt is beginning to represent to me, conversations that were interrupted – abruptly – because of her illness.  There was still much left to be said.  This really evolved in the last week, as I kept looking at these colors and being reminded of some of her favorite outfits.  The gold, greens, purples were all colors in the plaid skirt of the first “business” outfit she ever bought when she started work.  It was the first outfit she had that always had to be dry-cleaned…and no, I have no idea how I can recall that, but I can see her in it as clearly as I can see the computer screen in front of me.

I’ve also begun to drop yellow dupioni silk into this, as Barb loved textures - silk, textured clothing, satin jammies, woolie socks, fuzzy stuffed bears…and it reminds me of her.

Direction...

Direction…

Make everyday count!

Cheers,

Beth

<(((><

 


Design Wall Friday – DWF

Posted on February 18, 2017 by Beth Markel

I’ve committed to posting every Friday, literally, what’s on my design wall.  This week has been a process of decisions – and this evening, Friday, I’ve come to where I think this purple/gold/yellow piece is headed.  Rather than explain how I started with a cluster of leftover blocks from a workshop and purple background, I’ll just show you the pictures.  Somebody asked me once after I had finished a trunk show, “Where do your ideas come from?”  I wish I could say that I had a dazzling or witty response, but I’m a pretty simple gal – my work comes from a place of joy, sheer joy to be alive, my husband loves me (bless his heart!), my children are grown, flown, and both happily married, and I get to do what I love.  I get to create – because I need to create – and I want to create something beautiful!

Cluster of blocks on shades of purple - it's OK, nothing special

Cluster of blocks on shades of purple – it’s OK, nothing special

 

Same wide chunks of purple fabrics, but creating a modern vibe with straight set blocks

Same wide chunks of purple fabrics, but creating a modern vibe with straight set blocks

OK, these just look like argyle socks...

OK, these just look like argyle socks…

 

Cluster of blocks without any background - would just be pieced together - meh - kind of mundane

Cluster of blocks without any background – would just be pieced together – meh – kind of mundane

Without being impressed with any of these avenues, finally, yesterday afternoon, I thought it might be more interesting if it looked like the blocks had slices of different colors peeking through…I might be on to something!

I'm liking it more and more!  It's not where I started, or even where I thought it would go, but the addition of slices of other colors is really interesting to my eye~

I’m liking it more and more! It’s not where I started, or even where I thought it would go, but the addition of slices of other colors is really interesting to my eye~

 

Make something today!

Beth

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