Designing VORTEX (The Senility Test)

Twisted Octagon Log Cabin

Twisted Octagon Log Cabin Block


As you can probably assume by now, I am very much into working in that Black/White/Touch of color theme which began with an ARTAA (my fiber arts group) challenge. This is piece number three and the ideas are still flowing.  I fear another obsession coming on. Yikes!

ARTAA was asked to do some demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum’s Fall Fest in early October.  I decided to bring along my ruler and graph paper and show our visitors how to draft a twisted log cabin block.  As an overachiever, a simple square wasn’t enough for me.  I designed twisted triangles, equilateral, isosceles and even scalene triangles with a twist.  No, I am not as intelligent as this post makes me out to be.  I had to Google triangles to find out what the various shapes were called.  The last math class I had was in 1955, far too long ago for me to remember.

With a little help from hubby and a compass, together we figured out how to draft a hexagon and even a pentagon which required a formula.  As my enthusiasm and my confidence grew, I decided to go really BIG.  Why not a twisted octagon?  As I sat at the museum with my pattern taking shape, I made a discovery.  Men, who usually walk quickly past a group of women quilting, actually stopped to check out what I was doing.  It looked complicated which they found quite interesting.

I came home with the completed pattern and wondered if this old brain could actually figure out how to piece this puzzle.  “To ward off senility, challenge your brain” is the advice given to senior citizens.  If completing a crossword puzzle was considered helpful, what would completing this sucker do for me.

I am very proud to report that this old lady passed the senility test.  Crazy, yes.  Senile, no. Starting in the center, round and round I sewed seeing my vortex take shape with each finished row. I completed the piece in a week, something of a record for me.  I see me getting sucked into the quilted whirlpool-making business.  Once I figured out what to sew and where to sew next, this was actually fun.

I titled the piece Vortex and hung it on point which made it even more interesting to my eye.




Birds of a Feather

In 2005 I was asked to join a newly formed group of art quilters, the Adirondack Regional Textile Artists’ Alliance, (ARTAA), who had come together because they felt their work was often unappreciated and misunderstood in their local, very traditional, quilt guilds.

At my first meeting, with the discussion centered on gesso and gel medium, I felt as though I was in a foreign land. What were they talking about? Sewing I knew. Gel medium I didn’t, and what did that have to do with quilting? I came home feeling that maybe this wasn’t such a great fit for me. But, there was something about this group of women which drew me back. Simply put, I liked them. Their lively discussions never once mentioned 9 patches. They had adventure in their souls. They were willing to put themselves out there and create works that, quite often, only THEY understood.

Gradually, I felt more at ease as I realized each and every member of this diverse group did her own thing and was comfortable with the decision to be different. Very important to me was their always enthusiastic acceptance and encouragement of the most bizarre ideas I could present to them. They were not afraid to critique, to offer suggestions, to show an easier approach, but did so in a constructive way. I was among friends, soul sisters who understood why I do what I do.

The affirmation I have received as a member of ARTAA has been life changing for this former “closet” art quilter. Our not-to-be-missed twice monthly meetings are the highlight of my creative life. The chatter is deafening and is only drowned out by the laughter. Yes, we, the ladies of ARTAA, laugh a lot. I always come away from these gatherings renewed, feeling that life, like diversity, is good. I still don’t know what to do with gel medium.