October 16, 2017

How New is Modern: Circling the Square

How New is Modern is an upcoming exhibition sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, CO. The exhibit will showcase 38 modern quilts made by members of the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild. The quilts represent modern interpretations of traditional quilts from the museum's collection and I'm thrilled Circling the Square will be one of the quilts included in the show.

Springleaf Studios, Anne Deister



Today I thought I'd share how this quilt evolved by sharing parts of an earlier post about my design process.

The project began by playing with the traditional drunkard's path block. My early explorations were primarily based on the positive shapes created when quarter circle units are combined into larger shapes. As I played, I began to focus on the use of negative space. Three quarter circles creates a square negative space. One quarter circle can look like a bite taken out of a larger square. Just look at all the interesting negative spaces in the example below.



I started my explorations by creating a palette of basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator. A single quarter circle. A half circle. A 3/4 circle. Then I duplicated each shape and rotated them to give me a variety of orientations. Once I had my shape palette, I started to play around with placement of the shapes while paying close attention to the negative spaces that were created.

Creating negative squares from positive circles really intrigued me so, with this concept in mind, the name Circling the Square was born. I don't know that I've ever named a quilt while designing it but in this case the name spoke to me. It helped to clarify the concept and began to influence my design decisions.

Early on I tried quarter circles coming in and swirling around until they created a square of negative space in the center. Very interesting but not quite what the name implied to me. Maybe I'll pursue this idea down the road.


Then I began to focus on the circles forming a mass with the square at it's center. This was closer to what the name implied but it wasn't quite there yet.


The consolidation of shapes was going in the right direction but the rectangular format wasn't right. I made the decision to change the overall format to a square which seemed much more appropriate given the quilt name.

As the mass of quarter circles came together it only seemed right that the larger shape created be circular in nature. I tried a lot of different arrangements until I got a somewhat uniform mass of circles. Careful attention was paid, not only to the placement of the circular units, but also to the negative shapes that were created. I wanted to balance the use of full circles, 3/4 circles, and half circles along with the negative shapes. I worked primarily with odd numbers, in many cases repeating the use of three elements as you can see below.


Once I got the basic shapes in place, I started to explore color. The constructive nature of the design reminded me of the early modern art movements of Constructivism and Bauhaus.  Black, white and red were frequently used in the graphic designs of these movements so it just seemed to be the right color scheme to use here. I did look at a few other colors but nothing was as dynamic and strong.

As you can see in the illustration below, I tried using red for the center square. It seemed like the natural place to use color. The effect, however, was that the red square became a positive shape rather than a negative space. There's nothing wrong with this except it wasn't what I was trying to depict. My intent was the creation of a negative square formed by the circles. Removing the red, as in the second example, returned the square to it's negative space but the design needed color. By placing the red in the only full circle in the entire layout a focal point was established. It gave the eye a place to start the journey of the circles swirling around the square.


Once I settled on color placement, I explored the finer details of the arrangement. The addition of little black arcs around the outside activated the circle. Take a look above at the far right illustration and then the illustrations below and you can see how the composition feels more active. I started with three (below left) and decided on six (below right).


Another refinement was in the small negative squares that come off the large central square. I felt the small squares (below left) diminished the effect of the large square. It didn't quite read as a single large square in the way I intended. Next, I tried changing the small squares to quarter circles (below right) but this didn't quite work either. Now the center square looked like it had three little wings. This arrangement also introduced a new shape to the black 3/4 circles that didn't really like.

Do you feel like you're playing one of those games where you need to find the differences? Can you find all the things I'm referencing? If not look harder.  : )


Below is the final layout. Simply rotating the quarter circle units brought the 3/4 quarter shapes back in alignment with the rest of the design while clearly defining the negative center square. So there you have it. The final design . . .


While I work out a lot of my designs in Illustrator, many of the finer details happen on my design wall. The placement of the final black arcs and refinement of the center square all happened on the wall. I also auditioned fabrics on the wall. I used tone-on-tone prints for almost all of the circle shapes and for all the negative areas except the center square which is a solid. I'm quite happy with how this design evolved and developed.

I quilted it with a giant spiral starting from the center of the red circle. Red thread was used in the red circle and then I switched to a very light gray for the rest. Can't say that I'd want to do spiral quilting on anything larger than this. The final size is 52" x 52" which is about the max I can imagine turning around and around and around under my short machine arm space.


I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my design process. My graphic design background leads me to a more controlled approach to my work but not everything is predetermined. It's a back and forth between computer and design wall. Sometimes even a rough sketch on paper.

Show Information:
I'd like to invite you to the opening reception Friday, October 27th from 6-8pm.
The exhibit, How New is Modern, will run October 23, 2017 through February 3, 2018.

If you live anywhere near Denver or will be visiting the area, you really should check it out. It's going to be a fabulous exhibit of modern quilts. Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum by visiting their site. Come see the quilts and learn about modern quilting.

I'll see you there.  : )

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September 19, 2017

Which Fabric / What Pattern

Does anyone else besides me have a hard time deciding what to make with a particular group of fabrics? I sometimes have the hardest time deciding which quilt pattern to use with the fabrics I gather together.

Below are just a few of the fabric groupings that are sitting around my studio. I thought if I shared them with you then maybe, just maybe, I'd guilt myself into actually making quilts with them. Maybe?

Right now I can't decide which fabrics to start with but am leaning toward the green leafy grouping below. Even though I'm finishing up a green quilt (which I'll blog about soon) I still want another one for our family room. Winter is coming and we need new quilts for the couches.



And then there's these two black and white groups. Pretty florals and of course leafy prints too.



Love these pretty coral/yellow prints in this group. The larger print second from the bottom is a new one that I just couldn't resist. Not that I needed anymore fabric but I just fell in love with the colors in the print. I probably won't use all that are shown in this photo as I may just want a limited palette to feature the main print more.



I've been collecting these pastel Kaffe prints for awhile now. Really need to do something with them before I collect anymore. haha.  I like that it's not my usual bright color palette.



And finally there's the aqua, teal, chartreuse collection that's been accumulating for ages. This color palette came from a gift store display that featured mostly aquas with a touch of chartreuse. I think this one will be the Cross-Plus pattern . . . maybe?



I have many many more fabric groups that I've pulled over the past several months. They sit around the studio for awhile and then get put back on the shelf or into a plastic box. I really really need to get busy. And I really really need to stop buying until I make a reasonable dent in what I have.

Choosing which fabric to use is only half my battle. Then I have to choose which quilt designs/patterns to use. Disappearing 9-patch. Bento Box. Bow Tie. Cross-Plus. Painted Forest by Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studio. These are just a few of the ones I'd like to try. And then there's the remakes from my own patterns. Plus trying some improv ideas from both Joe Cunningham's Craftsy class and Sherri Lynn Wood's book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. I'll probably save those last two for the solids in my stash.

I've known for a long time I have more fabric than I can use and now I'm also beginning to realize there are way more ideas than I can probably get to. The ideas for my own quilts just keep coming, plus I keep finding more and more great quilts on Pinterest and Instagram that I would like to make.

Time to turn off all the social media input and get the inspiration under control. Time to turn on the machine so I can start stitching. Wish me luck.  : )

So which fabric group would you choose first? What would you make?

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August 26, 2017

Mr. and Mrs.

I'm back . . . and this is why I've been gone. My daughter Emily got married!!!



On June 29th 2017, Emily and Ryan said their vows with a rushing Colorado mountain river in the background and just a few raindrops to bless their marriage. It was beautiful!


Our family of four has grown by one and we couldn't be happier.



It was so special shopping with my daughter and finding the perfect dress. The one she chose was extra special because the name of the dress was Marnie. My Mom was called Aunt Marnie by my cousins my entire life. On top of that, Emily wears my Mom's engagement diamond in her ring! And, to complete the picture, this frame is a special one that came from my Mom's house. I just love this photo and all it means. I'm sure my Mom is proud of her beautiful granddaughter.



Emily envisioned a botanical theme featuring primarily ferns with a few florals added in for color. My inner graphic designer had so much fun designing and making the invitations and other decorations. I used my Silhouette to cut the leafy panels for the invitations and Illustrator for many of the other items.



The floral motif came into play with this beautiful paper that we used for some of the signage and this fun wall of photos telling the Deister and Othman family stories.


Since allergies were a bit of an issue, Emily and I did the bridal bouquets ourselves using some lovely high end silk flowers from a specialty floral boutique. Can you tell we had fun playing with all the beautiful colors and blooms.



We spent the whole week of the wedding in the mountains with family from out of state. Hiked in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park, talked, ate and talked some more. Had a special girls only party and basically had a fantastic time just being with family. This is Ouzel Falls and then the view of the river near the wedding venue. Stunning.



I'll leave you with just a few more wedding photos . . .



Introducing Mr and Mrs Ryan Othman . . . my daughter is a wife.
And Ryan is a wonderful, handsome, caring husband.
Life is good.




If you've read this far, thank you for indulging me and sharing in this very special event. I promise I'm getting back to quilting. I've finished a top that perhaps you've seen on Instagram.  Take a look and follow @springleafstudios.

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March 22, 2017

Walk With Me . . .

I've picked up the pace of my daily walking since the first of the year and it feels great. Unfortunately I haven't kept up the same pace with my blogging posts so it's time for a little catch up. These photos cover walks over a period of time, but they do have a common theme.


I walk on all sorts of terrain. Crushed rock trails like the one behind my house. Roads. Mountain trails. Boardwalks. Grassy trails. And of course concrete sidewalks.


Regardless of the trail surface, I need to spend a fair amount of time watching my step.
Here are a few of the things I see when I'm looking down.

It fascinates me how the simplest of things can capture my attention if I look for them. If I just pay attention. Things like the shadow from a seed pod . . .


The cracks in the sidewalk . . .


Or the cracks in parched soil . . .


Things left behind and blown around . . .


Things peeking through . . .


Interesting surface textures . . .


And tracks left by those who went before me  . . .


I love to isolate details of line and shape with my camera. To focus in on how they can be cropped into pleasing compositions. I'm amazed at how a simple group of cracks in the pavement can be cropped into numerous compositions. Try it the next time you go for a walk.

Least you think I spend all my time staring at my feet, I'll leave you with this beautiful composition of line found far above my head . . .


Do you enjoy walking? The weather is getting nicer and nicer so get outside and take in some fresh air. It's time for me to take another walk. See you later.  : )

You can see photos from my other Walk With Me posts here.

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February 9, 2017

Colorado Cadence: BMQG Charity Quilt for QuiltCon 2017

I'd like to introduce Colorado Cadence . . . 
Boulder Modern Quilt Guild's charity challenge quilt for QuiltCon 2017

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt, Springleaf Studios


The Boulder Modern Quilt Guild has made a QuiltCon charity quilt since the challenge first began in 2014. Making charity quilts has always been a large part of the BMQG's mission and I'm thrilled to say we have donated more than 50 quilts over the past three years. For a small guild, averaging around 24 members, I think that's pretty amazing!!!

Today I'd like to share the process we went through to bring Colorado Cadence to fruition.

When the color palette and theme were announced by TheMQG, we talked about possible directions we could use to depict the idea of scale and agreed upon the color palette we wanted to work with. We also chose to use mostly prints rather than working with solids as we have done in previous years. Using the prints allowed us to use scale at the micro level within the design which gave the final quilt even greater variety and depth.

As chairperson, I developed a few ideas to review at our the next meeting. One of those ideas came from our President, Cynthia, who had seen an article about Roberto Burle-Marx, a Brazilian landscape designer. The article included this wonderful mosaic. 

photo by Scott Zona shared via Flickr Creative Commons

At the review meeting, everyone agreed the mosaic offered wonderful opportunities for exploring the use of scale. The next step was to develop the design. Squares and circles, structured through the use of color blocking, was the basis of our concept. The super large areas of color provided an additional level of scale beyond that within each block. 

Boulder Modern Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt, Springleaf StudiosQuilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt, Springleaf Studios

I started with big blocks of color which provided the larger scale element of the quilt. Then things were broken down into 12" blocks and the basic design elements of squares and circles came into play.

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt, Springleaf Studios

More and more details were added which provided texture and variety. And with each progressive refinement more and more movement and rhythm was introduced to the overall design.

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt, Springleaf Studios

The layout was then broken into sections based on color and packets of fabric were pulled together that included a small amount of a solid plus a few prints. Participating members were asked to sign up for 2 or more blocks of a given color and to supplement with fabrics from their own stash. In this way we added even more variety to the quilt. Sewing assignments were designed to be flexible so those who wanted could add their own twist to their blocks. The main criteria was to stick with the color scheme and basic square and circle elements. This worked well for our group and we ended up with a little of both. Some made their blocks exactly as the diagram showed and others took liberties. 


Over a 2 month period, members worked at home and during our monthly sew days to make their blocks. As the blocks came in, I put them up on my design wall at home to keep tabs on the progress.

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt
Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt



















All blocks were due in September. Then, during our October sew day, many people pitched in to sew the blocks together. By the end of the day we had not only a finished top but were well on our way to a finished backing made from the leftovers.

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt


Our talented President, Cynthia, took everything home at the end of the day. She completed the backing and then worked her free-motion magic by quilting a variety of different motifs in the various sections of the quilt. We are so lucky to have her skills in the guild. She used her sit down Juki mid-arm machine. Look at all this wonderful texture . . . 




By early January it was ready for the finishing touches. Label. Sleeve. Binding.

The vast majority of our guild participated in one way or another. THANK YOU, THANK YOU quilters for all your time and talents. I am so proud of you and our quilt.  This picture shows many, but not all, of the quilters who helped.

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild, QuiltCon charity quilt


Seeing Colorado Cadence hanging in Savannah with the other charity challenge quilts will be amazing. Many of our members will get to see it in person. While I won't make it to QuiltCon this year, I can certainly vouch for how inspirational it is to see so many quilts, all sharing the same theme and colors, hanging together in one place. AMAZING!!!  And all for charity. Quilters truly are generous people.

The Boulder Modern Quilt Guild is based in Boulder County Colorado. If you live in the area or even if you're visiting, we'd love to have you join us. Evening meetings are the second Thursday of the month and sew days are the usually the third Sat or Sun of the month. We currently meet/sew in Louisville, CO.

Learn more about us by visiting our Facebook page or our website.
Follow us on Instagram too @bouldermqg.

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