Monday, October 4, 2010

Quilting....NOT! (But there's little discussion of Value here, check it out! )

I wish I would be quilting or doing a bunch of quilty things.... but we've had a lot of things happening at the Campbell household. First, Ken met a young man, Ryan Helmer, at the library on Friday evening. Ryan is bicycling from Arkansas to Denver, via Kansas. Ken invited him to camp at our house that night. Of course, we put him up in our guest room for the night, and fed him supper and breakfast. I always forget how much food it takes to fill up a young man, especially one who is burning 3500 calories or more cycling across the country. We thoroughly enjoyed his visit.

Then, when I was planning to work in my sewing room, we lost all electrical power. There was a loud 'Pop' in the alley right before it went down. I pretty much knew from other experiences that the transformer in the alley blew out. Ken then found the evidence below the power pole: a rather dead red squirrel. Ken decided that with all the chatter in our back yard, there must be a whole enclave of squirrel terrorists out there just waiting to bring down the entire power grid of this part of the country. Sally and Gianni patrol the neighborhood keeping them under control, but one got away to carry through on his suicide mission.

Even with all these happenings, I'm always thinking quilting, even when I'm not in my sewing studio. Thinking, thinking, thinking about some new class titles right now, even though some of my current titles remain very popular.

My Strings class is still in great demand. If interested, you can check out my latest workshop on my website where Ruth Hirsch, my partner in crime during my Fargo trip last week, posted a slide show of the Strings class I taught there. (Check out her blog of our trip, too.) And I'm scheduled to teach it again twice this month at the Kansas Quilter's Organization semi-annual meeting in Colby, and again at Sager Creek Quilts in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Then the floral applique version will be the workshop I'll be teaching in November for the Rock Valley Quilter's Guild in Janesville, Wisconsin.

But guilds and large shows want more half-day offerings, especially ones that do not require sewing machines. We all know how difficult it is to haul a sewing machine around large show venues. Some shows offer rental machines, but it is never the same as having your own familiar friend along. So I'm trying to come up with some titles for workshops that present new and useful information for quilters. In February, Miss Kitty's Quilters became my experimental subjects when I presented a program about "The Value of Value", a tentative title for a new workshop. People tell me that I have a great sense of Color. Actually, what I have is a great sense of VALUE! Color is always secondary.

The truth is that you can use any color or combination of colors in your quilt, if you begin by planning value placement first. Value is especially important in making a scrap quilt where you will use a multitude of fabrics. I'm working on ideas for helping quilters discover the values within their fabrics. Most seem to face a challenge when interpreting values in busy prints. Here are some of my ideas:

IDEA #1: Make black and white copies of portions of the prints you want to use in the quilt. This removes the confusion of color, and makes it much easier to compare values (Lightness and darkness of the print.) Then cut your pattern shapes from the copies, and place them in a practice paper block. After you are satisfied with your black-and-white block, substitute in color copy versions to see if you like the color arrangement.

IDEA #2: Use a reducing glass. The easiest and least expensive one is a peephole glass that you can purchase at most lumber yards or home improvement stores. These are intended to go in exterior doors, but you can buy them separately and keep it among your goodies in the sewing room. Use it to reduce the scale of a print or make a practice block and view it through the glass to see what it will looks like from a distance.

IDEA #3: Take a digital photo of your practice block. Download it, then either crop and manipulate it by making a single image with multiples in the computer, or print out multiple images, cut them out, and make a paste-up model of what your entire quilt will look like on paper.

IDEA #4: Take a digital photo of your fabrics. Then use your computer photo editing program to turn the color image into a black and white one.

IDEA #5: Make value viewers from pieces of red and green clear plastic folders. Or purchase red and green 'gels' that are used to change the color of stage lighting. Sometimes you can find red value finders in quilt shops. These will work well for all colors EXCEPT red. You will need green or some other color to compare the value of red prints. These work by removing or neutralizing color so that your eye will perceive value.

IDEA #6: View your fabrics in a darkened room. I found that the best way to decide value is to look at my fabrics in moonlight. Your eyes are much more sensitive to light and dark, and perceive value first. Color enters into the picture only when there is adequate light for your eye to discern it.

Are there other ideas out there? I'm still fine tuning my ideas, and would love your input. Give me your comments. This could be a great discussion.


  1. You ideas are terrific. I'm posting your bolg addy on mine. Thanks so much.

  2. What I do is about the same as you, I take a digital pic and put it up on my computer, its amazing what you can see, and it always helps,
    thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas
    and I am going to take a look at the slide show if my dial up will permit, lol
    hugs gigi

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog and thank you for the information. I have become a follower and will post your blog address on my blogsite. I look forward to visiting again. Love Lois

  4. I your really short sighted like me - taking your glassess off has the effect of making the Value much more obvious.

  5. Love the idea of "The Value of Value"!
    This would really help many quilters who get stuck on choosing colors for a quilt pattern!
    Thanks for exploring this idea for a 3 hour class. Hope it is ready by October, 2011.

  6. Well, ladies, better late than never. I have finished my new lecture and trunk show called "The Value of Value". I'll be presenting it for the first time tonight. I still have openings for summer and fall 2012 and nearly all of 2013. Just contact me if your group or guild would like to book a speaking/teaching engagement. Thanks.