Friday, August 14, 2015


FLTQ is officially closing. It's been fun while it lasted, but it's time to leave it.

I'm happy spending my sitting time reading and writing, not producing things for which there is no use. I'm far more interested in my non-sitting time. I like getting out and walking. The trail and the ocean are calling...

I have an inventory of some tiny quilts that still need homes on Etsy. I have a small inventory of some beautiful, solid-colored fabrics that may, at some point in my life when I am forced by age/infirmity to do more sitting, become some actual bed quilts that get used.

Read more about random subjects at 1womanwalking if you are truly bored.

my daughter took this at sunset two days ago on our beach vacation. not sitting at home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

happy birthday FLTQ - what now?

Floating Leaf Tiny Quilts just had it’s second birthday last month, or so Blogger reminded me. It’s been a fun two years. I’ve been able to focus on art concepts, intentionally seek out and write about art exhibits, and experiment with making small projects that are not in any way utilitarian. It was a tough move for me to go from making bed quilts (decorated blankets) to creations that began to resemble art for art’s sake. I still live with the conflict between decorative art and ART.

I've realized that one thing holding back my progress towards more artistic freedom is the process of quilting itself. I have lots of fun planning the pieces: sketching designs, picking out fabric colors and stitching. The finishing process of putting a layer of batting in, stitching the layers together and sewing the binding has made problems for me.

The first problem is time and materials. Once the design is finished, I still have hours of work left to do and double the fabric cost, plus batting. And this is work, not play. I still enjoy the stitching, but it’s just structural. I want to move on to the next piece, not fuss around finishing off this one.

The second problem is that by making my design into a quilted piece, I feel it loses some stature as a piece of art. Fine art is traditionally framed. Quilted fabric layers are traditionally a type of household bedding. A tiny quilt has started to feel (to me) like something to keep a body warm that has gotten all uppity and wants to hang on the wall like the fine art does. But it’s still a “quilt”.

I’m not saying that doesn’t work for others. There is a huge art quilt community and galleries have opened their doors to the art quilt world. There are competitive, juried shows. Art quilts are beautiful and they are truly art. I just like the surface design part better than the quilty part.

I will take up the needle as a pen and play with embroidery as drawing, in addition to the appliqued bits. I’ve done some cool pieces in the past. I’ll dig out some old stuff from my sister’s attic when I go there in July and post up some pictures.

Which brings me full circle around to the blog.

What is Floating Leaf Tiny Quilts without the Tiny Quilts?

Should I combine my art posts with my travel, book reviews, and other philosophical musings in my 1womanwalking blog?

Should I just keep posting non-tiny quilt art stuff here?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

beyond books

This was in my morning news feed, so yeah, I spent a few minutes in visual daydream heaven.

Who doesn't love books? My mother was trained as a teacher and she also collected books. She read to me often while I grew up, nestled together on the couch with the book between us so I could follow along. Those hours on the couch shaped me into the book lover I am. She volunteered at the local library where we went every week for a new stack. 

She got me a job at the library when I was 15. I loved that job the best of all my jobs. If it wasn't the case that librarians were having trouble finding work in the late 70's, I might have been one. Instead I took a winding path into IT. This winter I took a class in data management given by the library staff at 7 VA universities. Librarians have certainly moved beyond books!

On another path, artists have always shown their love for books by pushing their boundaries, too. There have always been art books. I've been to the Cloisters and have seen the intensely illustrated holy books of the Middle Ages. There are countless beautiful books that present art made in other mediums, what we traditionally think of when we say "art books". There are accomplished book designers who blur the lines between art and book, like Irma Boom. There are artists who create books from the paper on up. There are artists who take books apart, such as Brian Dettmer, Su Blackwell and Cara Barer. And last but not least, are the poets and the photographers, who use books as props.

Of course, fabric artists have to get in the game. Fabric and paper are similar in many of their properties, so fabric books are a natural extension of bookmaking. I found examples of embroidery samplers made into books. Fabric books look like great ideas for FloatingLeaf to explore. This news article claims the VCU art book collection has over 4,000 items. Must add a trip there to my Art Day Out schedule. My favorite piece from this list is the embroidered composition notebook. Love it!!

“Common Threads: Volume XXXVIII,” 2012
by Candace Hicks

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

the shelf project - Pantone piecework

Fabric is beautiful stuff and I love playing with it. The dense saturation of color in fabric is one of the things I love about it. I love to layer colored shapes to make new images. However, when fabric is cut, the edges ravel and begin to fall apart. The cut shape loses its clean edge. The essence of appliqué is to turn that cut edge under and stitch it down while still maintaining the desired shape. In turning that cut edge, though, tight curves and angles become quite challenging. 

Challenge is an interesting word. It can have both a positive and a negative spin. It means, simply that stuff is difficult. But difficulty makes one work harder and achieve more. It’s difficult to make tight curves and angles work in appliquéd fabric pieces.  Sometimes, the challenge isn't really worth it. Better to turn to a different medium entirely.

In comes paper. Paper can be made with the same dense saturation of color as fabric, but it has very different qualities. The stiffness of paper and the ability to maintain a clean cut edge were two material qualities I wanted to play with.

I found some paint chips at the hardware store. There was a big section of Pantone color chips at this particular store the day I was helping myself. I would have loved to bring home one or two of each color, but I think they might get suspicious I wasn't going to buy any paint. I kept it to a dozen.

I've been looking at images of cut paper designs. (I love you, Pinterest!) I played with an off-set target design while breaking up the image into 12 sections.  It's not earth shattering, but it was good practice cutting the paper mask. I'll play with this technique some more. It's fun to see the design appear with blade in hand.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

trip report - Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

It was a chilly, rainy April day in Montréal. My better half was attending a conference for some obscure software thingy and I had tagged along to spend a few days exploring. One of my favorite places to go in a new city is an art museum. I prefer modern art if I can get it. Montréal has several art museums within walking distance of Vieux-Montréal, where we were staying. I was off for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. But the rain and the cold...

The inhabitants of Montréal have that figured out. There is an underground city with passages that go just about everywhere one would want to go. It's accessible through subway stations, buildings and random street corners. One simply walks about looking for signs that say "RESO" and down one goes. I traveled from the convention center to the modern art museum all underground, through a 3 story bustling shopping mall with a huge fountain - dry and warm. 

The museum itself was delightful, if smallish. The two exhibits I enjoyed the most happened to both be video pieces.  The first was an actual movie called "The Column" that showed the creation of a marble column from the quarry to the finished piece. The carvers worked on it on board a container ship crossing the ocean, which made the process of carving almost surreal. Maybe I was tired from the long walk, but I sat there engrossed through the whole thing.

The other piece was a room full of several large "canvases" on which video projections of the backs of people's heads facing the ocean.  After the viewer was totally convinced this was all there was, the people would turn to face the camera and then fade out, to start the scene again with the backs of their heads showing.  There are several people and the timings were such that the viewer felt compelled to wait until everyone had turned around.  Part of the allure was the mesmerizing effect of the waves and the extraordinary size of the screens.

All in all, it was a enjoyable exploration.  Returning, I stopped for a tea in the underground mall and watched some day care kids parading around the gardens built around the fountain. There were raised wooden platforms to walk on and a small stage where the kids could climb around. They looked to be about 3 years old, all holding a long piece of fabric their teacher had anchored in her belt and singing cute little French songs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


noun: greeting; plural noun: greetings
a formal expression of goodwill, said on meeting or in a written message.

I received a card in the mail the other day. This is a pretty unusual occurrence. It brought me joy on so many different levels. 

It was from a friends whom I haven’t seen in awhile and miss. They took the time to send me concrete good wishes on a speedy recovery from some minor surgery. I’d been feeling kinda low about how long it was taking to get back on my feet, and some long distance hugs were just what I needed. It was so good to connect with their lives and hear about mutual friends and good times.

The front of the card was a painting of some beautiful lilacs. Lilacs are special to me since they connect me to some happy memories of places and people I love. Just looking at the card sitting on my shelf makes me smile.

The back of the card really brought home some memories. The card was produced by a company that I used to sell for back in middle school. My maternal grandparents were nomadic and my grandmother was a voracious letter writer. She liked a particular brand of stationery and somehow I started selling the cards and notepaper door to door and at school, so I could get reduced rates on what I purchased. I was my grandmother’s main supplier. Along with her letters and cards, she would often include small poems, typed out on carbon paper.

This card also made me think of people in my life who might need a greeting in the form of some mail. I got out some blank cards I had made up for FLTQ awhile ago and got drawing. I even included a poem.

What goes around, comes around. Now, off to the mailbox!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

dry spell

This post is long overdue. Since moving back to land and getting busy doing other things than sitting around, FLTQ has taken a dive. It’s for a lot of reasons. 

Hand sewing is done sitting down. There’s no getting around that. I’ve tried doing it while standing, but sewing really needs some kind of surface to lean the work in progress on, be it a table or lap. And the sewer needs to sit relatively still. I need more movement in my daily life, not more sitting.

Simply put, the world does not need any more quilted objects of any kind. One look at Etsy or Pinterest is enough to gag on the sheer quantity of quilts that people have felt compelled to make. I suppose the case can be made for a bed quilt from time to time, since they do keep one warm and they can be special, but there are enough of them out there. Enough.

I’ve been reading way too much on human impact on the planet lately. Quilts are made out of (lots of) fabric, which can be new or used. New fabric carries all the baggage of using finite resources like water to grow the cotton, fossil fuels to process it and ship it around. Lots of baggage. Used fabric has some appeal, but often that leads to making scrappy looking quilts. Been there, done that.

As I’ve grown comfortable with a minimal life, I need less to look at. The last time I had a piece of art on the wall of my home was in 2009. I like seeing the wall (or bulkhead). It’s a place for the eye to rest. We live in an intensely visual world. My eyes enjoy the rest. When I need something interesting to look at, I go to the art museum or a gallery.  While I have a rather large collection of my own tiny quilts (want to buy one?), I don’t want to look at them. Not too many other people want to look at them either. Breathe into the spaces.

I want to spend my time on other things. If I want to sit, there is plenty to read. Mostly, I want to play outside. 

I’m not sure right now what I’ll do with this writing space.  I may post some museum reviews from time to time. I did spend a few hours at le Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal a few weeks ago. It was delightful.

I will continue to post about the shelf project.

I may do more painting.

I do have several yards of new fabric that shouldn't just sit in the cupboard, so there may be a new quilt to share at some point, but not tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2015

the shelf project - zen-dō

There are some experiences in life that change you in more profound ways than others. They become a part of your internal story. One such experience was a trip to a Zen-dō on a winter weekend for an introductory class in meditation. I dragged my (then) 16-year-old daughter along for company. I'm not saying the class changed me much on the outside, but it did bring part of me into focus on the inside.

It was way up in the Catskill Mountains of NY, so the drive in was stunningly beautiful. The buildings were simple and lovely. The monks were compassionate to our little group of beginners. We had lots of questions. We spent the weekend sitting. We ate in silence. We worked. We listened. We chanted. We got some free time to tramp about the grounds in the snow.

For some reason, the shelf project was calling out for a tiny zen-dō, probably because I started a sitting practice for real this year. I attempted to make some tiny zafu, but, while they came out nicely, seemed too time-consuming, so only the bottom cushions got sewn.

I am fully aware that the Tibetan prayer flags are inconsistent with the Japanese tradition, but I felt like making them.

There's a tiny picture of my Mom next to the Buddha on the altar. Photographs of teachers who have passed away are often on the altars in a zen-dō, and my Mom was one of my most important teachers.

There's a tiny study, rendered in colored paper, for a possible quilt on the back wall. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

calling the baby ugly

In the real world of software project management, in which I used to be a small player on the sidelines, we used to talk quietly about calling someone's baby ugly. It's in reference to a project or a technical solution that just doesn't work well, but someone wrote it and has invested some emotion in keeping it going, no matter how inappropriate it is.

Here I am calling my own baby ugly. Creativity isn't always about producing something beautiful. It's about playing with various constraints, building on thoughts and ideas and trying to come up with something new. It doesn't always come out well. Sometimes you have to step back, call the baby ugly and move on. 

I'm re-reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She talks about persistence, editing, more editing, and walking around behind the back of your work, to really understand what you've got there. Maybe it's ugly. Keep working on it.

The baby. It's ugly. No getting around it. It was making me feel stuck.

Editing, reworking, changing it up.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

the shelf project - hearts go out

The first exhibit of the shelf project was installed this morning. Called "hearts go out", it is a collection of 25 tiny valentines. They are constructed from colored paper, newspaper, thread, paint, glue and ink.

Monday, February 2, 2015

the shelf project - part one

FLTQ is starting a tiny side project. It started with a new office, an empty bookshelf that came in that office and a co-worker's suggestion to decorate said bookshelf. At first, the word "decorate" raised up an emotional barrier. I don't decorate anymore. I'm so over decorating. Harrumph. That was something I did when I had a big house and shelter magazines to pour over. Who needs to spend hard-earned money on that crap taking up space and gathering dust?

Not so fast, partner. The urge to play with spaces is always going to be in me. I still cruise over to Apartment Therapy and Dwell more often than I'd like to admit. But how does one "decorate" a bookshelf? I don't want to spend oodles of cash. I don't want to acquire more stuff. I certainly don't need any books at work.

And so it begins. A series of temporary, tiny art exhibits will inhabit the shelf. They may be built from found objects, paper crafts, fiber, or who-knows-what. They will be trashed or sold when it's time for them to move on.

Here is the placeholder piece, while I build the first collection. (Disclaimer: not the actual shelf at work, this is home, where the light was better)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

quilt migration

The tiny quilts are now moved over to the second coffee shop for the month of February. While the first coffee shop had lots of windows and no wall space, this one has tons of expansive, gorgeous, accessible wall space. I could have five times as many tiny quilts and they would still fit. They look a bit lonely. (Translation: get moving, you lazy quilter!)

Here's my shameless self-promotion spot.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

finally, tiny quilts come out to play

The coffee shop with art space finally opened and my friend, Bobbie, and I stopped in for lunch yesterday. The shop is in Scott's Addition, in one of those trendy industrial buildings with huge glass windows on all sides - no walls to hang quilts on. So, we improvised and hung them on the staircase. One has sold (yea!) *and* the marketing manager asked me to hang them next month in their Church Hill shop (more yea!).

Sunday, January 4, 2015


My daughter was telling me about her mending last week. New Year's seems a good time to mend. Mending is a lost art. Most people don't have the skills, the patience or the supplies to face mending garments. She had asked me a technical question about basic sewing. You Tube to the rescue! I didn't have to try to explain it over the phone. Successful mending session.

I've been reading about this book - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Her approach to possessions is to love and care for them.  Since one only has enough time to do that with a few possessions, it's also a book about minimalism and reducing clutter. Her focus on clothing is to have a few of the best clothes you can afford and treat them lovingly. Store them lovingly. Mend them.

So, I've been playing in my closet. I've always loved clothes anyway. Playing in the closet is great fun. These are two of the things I've played with.

I found a beautiful J. Jill sweater dress at the local consignment shop last week.  It has a scoop neckline, something that always slips on me and exposes - bra straps - yuck. My great-grandmother, Edna, taught me how to make these tiny straps on the shoulder seam of a sweater or shirt that keeps that ugly strap in it's place. Takes 5 minutes to install with some seam tape and two snaps. 

This is an Ann Taylor LOFT sweater (also a consignment find last year) that has one of those trendy back zippers. I was also tidying up my jewelry collection and found these earrings that I made about 15 years ago on a bead shop expedition. I wasn't going to wear them again, so I installed one on the zipper pull. It comes off instantly to wash the sweater, but adds a bit of bling.

Just a little "mending", lovingly tidying up the clothes.