Saturday, August 29, 2009

The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd . . .

Last evening was the opening reception for my quilt show in Ste. Genevieve . . . WOW!! What an experience!!

I'd had a terrible morning (my rental car got a flat before I even left town, and I had to have AAA change the flat before I could return the car and get another; one of my cats required an emergency trip to the vet because he got his collar caught in his teeth; and, I had to buy new business card holders and hardware for the curtain rods I hang my quilts on because I couldn't find what's here in the apartment (somewhere)).

I got to the gallery only four hours before the reception was to open, and went right to work, hanging framed magazine articles and quilts. I was gonna check into a cheap motel for the night, but Sam, one of the co-owners, shuddered and suggested the B&B a block away. It was a great B&B: I had a shower and changed clothes (I didn't dare have a nap for fear of sleeping away the evening). I stopped into a storefront restaurant for dinner . . . the two women at the next table said, "hey, aren't you the guy in the picture across the street??" (The gallery owners had a poster of me in several shop windows.) Imagine that . . . me, the celebrity!!

It was a great reception!! The owners had set up a live feed of the reception on their Twitter cam, LOL!! (had I known THAT, I woulda given you fair warning . . .) During the evening, over 100 people came through the gallery; I handed out nearly an entire box of business cards (250 of 'em); I shmoozed a lot of folks (quilters and non-quilters alike); I did a lot of talking, LOL!! I told a lot of people about the design tiles and my take on symmetry (I just happened to have a set on hand for people to play with). I could get used to this!!

After the reception, I went to small party at some friends of the gallery owners . . . I got in after midnight. I was up by 7:30 a.m., showered, and ready for a new day (and, a great breakfast at 9:00 a.m.)!! I entertained my table with the design squares after we'd eaten . . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yesterday was busy . . . Today, I'm anxious

Five items of note happened yesterday: I burned the palm of my hand with some soup at lunchtime (it's better today) . . .

I mailed tax papers and promotional pictures to the Flint Public Library for next month's lecture . . .

I mailed signed contracts for a lecture/workshop in Santa Rosa next year (March) . . .

I visited an old friend in the hospital (I love that old man; I don't know what to do for him; there's nothing I can do for him; it hurts me to see him like this) . . .

I had most of a box of quilts photographed (all the quilts use the same set of templates; many are for the show this week; I'll have all of 'em added to the website next week).

I anxious for only two things today: I expect delivery of my new business cards from VistaPrint and computer memory chips from Greg in the mail . . . woo hoo!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Shape(s) of things to come . . .

Think of the individual shapes in the tile . . . the tile is comprised of five distinct shapes (the two corner shapes are identical).

When these shapes touch the shapes in other tiles, they form a new shape. These new shapes occur where corners meet and where sides touch.

These shapes may be open or closed. The shapes in the example above are open because they do not end at the sides of the block; they leave "openings" at every side. It may take more tiles to close the shapes.

This shape crosses six tiles before it closes.

Some shapes never close. I call them "stripes."

There are unique shapes for each unique arrangement of tiles . . . what shapes are in YOUR blocks??

Thank you for reading . . . please leave a comment and follow this blog. Or, join the Yahoo! group.

To a new symmetry . . .

I've said it before, but it bears repeating . . .

I've read three books about symmetry and two-dimensional patterns: one written by a mathemetician; the other two written by quilters.

All three books described the four operations of symmetry: translation, rotation, reflection, and glide reflection. All three books generated patterns using a method developed by crystallographers (even though crystallographers are not necessarily quilters, and vice versa). All three books overlooked two simple observations: all the patterns generated could be simplified to two pairs of squares beside each other, on top of each other, or diagonally from each other; and, in all but one instance, the squares were right side up or upside down, but never sideways.

I have previously described the operations of symmetry, but I will not generate any patterns with a method I now view as flawed. I propose a new symmetry which does not rely on any operations other than "pick a pair." I have presented the two tiles below to nearly 300 people. You've had a week or so to play with them.

Will you join me on a guided journey with these tiles??

Thank you for reading . . . please leave a comment and follow this blog. Or, join my Yahoo! group.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Logo for NGQ!!

I've been discussing this with my designer . . . originally, I wanted the Mardi Gras Man motif as part of my website logo, but considering he only shows up in one quilt, he wasn't a good choice.

A week or so ago, I suggested using my tile, which will be showing up more and more in my quilts. And, with all the people who now have sets of the design tile, it's better recognized. (Can you say, "Branding"??)

This morning, Patrick emailed me to say the new logo has been implemented!! What do you think of it??

Thank you for reading my blog . . . please leave a comment, and follow this blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

. . . and on the seventh day, God rested . . .

It was a good day . . .

Ed and I drove south of St. Louis about an hour or so to Ste. Genevieve and Chaumette Winery. There's an Episcopalian Chapel on the grounds, St. Vincent's . . .

The former Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, where Ed and I usually attend in St. Louis, was the preacher/celebrant. There were about 20 people in attendance, with 1/3 of 'em from Christ Church Cathedral.

Afterwards, there was a buffet brunch in the dining hall of the winery. Great food, great friends, great wine . . . a great day in the country.

Ed and I got home just before the heavens opened up . . . we took a nap with classical music playing on the radio, and rain playing on the window.

Hours later, I sat at the computer, putting the finishing touches on the first edition of my newsletter for those who had signed up for my website's mailing list. Out of 250 emails sent out, only one person "unsubscribed." At the same time, I had seven new people sign up . . . with a sevenfold return, maybe I should have more people "unsubscribe"!! (Just joking.)

Ed and I watched "Hairspray" on DVD (the original, John Waters' version with Divine) . . . we went to a staged production of the musical last weekend, and it was good to compare the two.

About a dozen people migrated from the mailing list to the new Yahoo! group: NGQTileAddicts. One person admitted taking my Quilt University class 4-1/2 years ago!! Good people online, too.

Yes, it was a very good day . . .

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a comment and follow this blog . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

For the recovering design tile addict . . .

The other day, Greg, from Flat Out Quilting, jokingly referred to a support group for tile addicts.

I'm pleased to announce the formation of a new Yahoo! group, NGQTileAddicts . . . Greg and I are the co-Moderators of the group . . . (I promise not to delete the group OR this blog entry, LOL!!)

If you're interested, give it a look . . . we'd appreciate any input or feedback you may have.

Thank you for reading . . . please leave a comment, and follow this blog.

Mardi Gras Men, continued . . .

Below is the 1M-4-1M-3-4M-3M-2-2M-1M block. It contains portions of four different men.
Below are colored blocks . . . for the sake of balance, the top row shown is actually the bottom third of a block (2-2M-1M) . . . then, there's a row of complete blocks . . . and, the bottom two rows show are actually the top two-thirds of a block (1M-4-1M-3-4M-3M).

In this drawing, you can see where two or more shapes are the same color. During construction, I taped my templates together and cut these shapes in one piece. This eliminated extra sewing (and fabric). Then again, I was only using one fabric per color. If I were using say, five or six different fabrics of each color, I would have cut the shapes as individual pieces and mixed them up, so I wouldn't get the same fabrics touching each other.

Here's a question for you: What is the minimum number of colors you can use for this pattern (for the men)?? What is the maximum number of colors you can use??

Thank you for reading . . . please leave a comment and follow this blog.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mardi Gras Men, a work-in-progress (after the fact)

Yesterday, Paula was surprised to learn that my "Mardi Gras Men" quilt was made from the set of design squares I gave away last weekend.

This brief post (the first in a series), will let you in on which arrangement of tiles I used.


1M-4-1M-3-4M-3M-2-2M-1M . . .

I came upon this arrangement quite by accident. I shuffle my own set of tiles, much like playing cards, giving one half (or the other) a quarter turn before interleaving them together. Then, I deal 'em out, face up, one at a time.

I use Electric Quilt to make a block of the tiles, lay out a pattern of repeated blocks, and to play with coloring in the shapes.

More to come . . .

Thank you for reading, and please leave a comment.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Now you see it . . . now you don't . . .

Yes, there WAS an earlier post, "For the recovering design tile addict," but I came to my senses and deleted it. I'm simply not prepared to moderate a Yahoo! group on top of everything else I'm not accomplishing, LOL!!

Thank you for reading, and please leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Would some instructions help??

I have a question (or two) to ask those of you who received a set of the design tiles:

Did you know what to do with the tiles, or did you look for directions??

How can I make them better??

Thank you for your input and feedback . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now that I've got 'em, what do I do with 'em??

Design tiles, right??

The original idea was to devise a low-tech method for generating infinite patchwork blocks from a single tile. I had a tile with lines drawn through it, and a mirror-image of the same tile. I numbered the rotations, 1 through 4, and 1M through 4M, for the mirror-image tiles.

I started arranging groups of four tiles.

All four tiles can be identical . . .

Three tiles can be identical, and one tile can be different (easily accomplished by rotating one of the tiles) . . .

The four tiles can be two pairs of identical tiles (the two tiles in the pair can be identical to each other, the two pairs can be different from each other) . . . These two pairs can be beside each other, on top of each other, or diagonally from each other.

The four tiles can be one pair of identical tiles and one pair of different tiles. Again, these two pairs can be beside each other, on top of each other, or diagonally from each other.

The four tiles can be four randomly-selected tiles (my favorite) . . .

There are 4096 possible 4-patch combinations.

The same concepts work for 9-patch, 16-patch, 25-patch (and beyond) blocks . . . yes, an infinite number of patchwork blocks.

W.O.W.!! (What an Outstanding Weekend!!)

I send a big "Thank You!!" to all of you who took advantage of my giveaway this weekend . . . you're the greatest!!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, back up a day or so to Sunday . . . early Sunday morning, I offered a set of my design tiles/squares to anyone who signed up for my mailing list.

Well, there were already people who had signed up a month ago, who had no idea of what was coming . . .

I had recently gone through my Yahoo! address book, making sure I had all the email addys entered from every person I emailed, going back, say 5-6 years. My address book contained over 1500 email addys!!

I composed an email that said, "Check out my new website . . . join the mailing list for a free gift." I started sending out emails 25 names at a time . . . I learned that Yahoo limits the number of emails per hour (100), and limits the number of emails per day (500). Sending my message to everyone in my address book was gonna take three days!!

While waiting for the hour to roll around, I entered data from the contact forms into the address book for my website. It was a slow, laborious process of "copy and paste" (I was taking no chances of making any typos). After every 10-15 email addys, I would email the lot my "free gift."

Names and email addys started coming in faster than I was sending 'em out . . . uh oh . . . there was a definite time gap involved. Sorry, no automated system here; just little old me, "copying and pasting" as fast as I could!!

I got my fair share of "undeliverable mail" messages . . . I assumed these were from addys in my address book, until I looked closely. Hey, wait a minute!! I just entered that addy!! You guessed it: some of the people signing up for my free gift had mis-typed their own email addy. Considering their email addy was wrong, it wasn't like I could contact 'em to say, "Sorry, but you've made a typo in your addy . . . would you mind correcting it for me??" I'm afraid I'll have to wait for 'em to send another comment like, "WTF?? Where's my free gift??" (then, I'll compare the second addy to the original.)

I belong to several groups: I could tell when a group got busy from the increase in submissions, LOL!!

I reconnected with some people who wondered where I'd gone . . . I got a lot more people who told me they were sharing the link with others.

All in all, it's been a good experience . . . once the hubbub dies down, I can get back to work on my writing . . .

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My First Giveaway!!

I am very excited about this!!

I am giving away a free set of my design tiles/cards to everyone who goes to my website and joins the mailing list (ok, so it's not completely free, but you'd have to give me your email addy anyway for me to send you anything, right??).

I recommend printing the tiles/cards on card stock, then printing 'em out . . . you are gonna have so much fun, believe me!! If you don't believe me, would you believe my beta testers?? Greg and his wife were very helpful yesterday. I dunno if they got any sleep (they were having so much fun).

The tiles/cards are at the heart of my book (if/when I get it self-published) . . . I figured why should YOU have to wait that long?? If you take me up on my offer, I invite you to come on back to participate in a series of posts I'll write about symmetry and how it applies. And, of course I'd love to hear your comments, questions, and suggestions, too.

Tell all your friends . . . hell, for this you should tell all your enemies, too!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Day at the Races, A Night at the Opera (but, no Duck Soup) . . .

Today was a "mental health" day for me . . .

I'm a paralegal by day . . . I work for the Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis, in the Child Support Unit. For nearly four months, I've done the work of two people, while my office mate recovers from back surgery. I prepare paperwork, etc. for six investigators and six attorneys (and, make it look easy, LOL)!!

I drove my partner to work this morning, then came home and went straight to my studio . . . I worked on the binding for my Mardi Gras Men quilt, the largest of the four quilts I've bound this week. I sewed for three hours, then went to visit a friend in the hospital; I sat and visited with him for an hour. I went back to my studio when I came home . . . another couple of hours, and I finished binding.

I'm at a loss, here . . . I have leftover squares and pieces for squares from two previous projects . . . I still have some uncut fabric from a recent fabric swap. Do I make something new from what's left of the old, or design something new for the new?? The theme of the fabric swap was "Fall," so I have some nice browns, oranges, and the like . . . I'm thinking of adding a sage green and a sky blue to the mix.

I did the dishes; cleaned the litter boxes (long overdue, but I have no one but myself to blame); and, took out the trash . . . one can only stand so much domesticity for one day!!

I picked up my partner from work, and I "doctored" some store-bought chicken salad for a light dinner. Then, we took a brief nap before we went to the Muny Opera. In Forest Park, site of the 1904 World's Fair, there's the Municipal Opera. It's an open-air amphitheater that has nightly musical theater that changes weekly . . . this was one of the last nights for "Hairspray."

I won the tickets several months ago at a reception I attended. There were those who said, "Raymond, think about it: outdoor theater in St. Louis in AUGUST!!" The weather was surprisingly agreeable. I hadn't been to the Muny since I was a child (and our family sat in the "free seats" way at the back). Tonight's seats weren't cheap and were much closer to the stage. My partner, Ed, had NEVER been to the Muny (and, we've lived here too many years to tell). We both enjoyed ourselves, and the show.

We got home after midnight (it takes time for thousands of cars to leave the park, you know). We've had a cocktail, and may head to bed soon . . . today is another day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Metal templates have arrived!!

Some time ago, I decided that since I was only making quilts from one set of templates, I'd best invest in some good ones. After doing a Google search, I decided on Quiltsmith, Ltd. ( I spoke with JoNell Smith over the phone several times. She was very helpful. I emailed her my artwork. Today, the templates arrived!!

They are aluminum, with a gritty, non-skid backing (sorta like the sandpaper I back my own templates with). There is a 1/2" seam allowance included. The blunted edges are very helpful, too. When the pieces are placed right sides together, all the edges match (no "dog ear" triangles to deal with).
I can hardly wait to cut me some fabric with these babies!! Oh, yes, I can use my rotary cutter with 'em!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Self-taught self-publishing

Once you get to know me you'll find out I have a tendency to immerse myself in a subject, reading everything I can get my hands on . . . sure, some of the material repeats itself (and some doesn't).

Then, I go do something else and forget about what I've read . . . sometimes the act of letting my subconscious work on the matter provides a better solution than if I actively worked on the answer. And sometimes another answer is presented to me from a different source.

Self-publishing my book is a case in point . . .

For some time now, I've been getting emails from a company called AuthorHouse about self-publishing my book. Not that they know I have a book to self-publish, but they're there, willing to offer their services ("they're," "there," "their"). Something in my gut kept telling me to let 'em slide . . .

A couple months ago, I went to a lecture given by an author who used AuthorHouse for his self-published book . . . he told how AuthorHouse was always there (until they got his money, then they all but disappeared). ERK!! "There but for the Grace of God go I," I thought.

I did a Google search for "self-publishing comparison" . . . and in my reading, I found It was considered one of the better self-publishing companies, so I looked over their website to see what I could see. I was considering self-publishing my work as an eBook, to cover the costs of printing a paperback version.

Then, I found "The Fine Print of Self-Publishing" on This is a fine site, and the downloadable book is written by Mark Levine, an attorney who compares the contracts of 45 self-publishing companies. I'm working my way through the book. My own book is on hold, until I can make a better informed decision . . .

(AuthorHouse is listed as a publisher to avoid . . . Lulu is listed as a pretty good self-publisher (two steps up from AuthorHouse) . . . I'm looking over the list of outstanding self-publishers (one step up from Lulu). Wish me luck.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Working Bibliography . . .

Me, an expert?? Yes, I am an expert because I SAY I am . . . I'm also an expert because YOU say I am . . .

Over the years, I've read a LOT of books on different subjects. They helped me develop my "artistic sense" as it were.

I read three books on symmetry, starting with Handbook of Regular Patterns: An Introduction to Symmetry in Two Dimensions, by Peter S. Stevens. It was a thick math textbook; I remember grasping the implications (and possibilities) of block design as I read it. I imagined writing a book for quilters on the subject until I heard about Symmetry: A Design System for Quiltmakers, by Ruth B. McDowell. My language was not suitable for publication, LOL!! Years later, I also read Designing Tessellations, by Jinny Beyer.

All three books explained the operations of symmetry, and all three books used the symmetry groups devised by crystallographers. As I've said before, crystallographers are not necessarily quilters, though . . . I've devised my own system that's a lot simpler (and provides for even more possible patterns).

Two books come to mind on designing patchwork blocks: Pattern Play: Creating Your Own Quilts, by Doreen Speckmann, and The Patchwork Planner: 350 Original Designs for Traditional Patchwork, by Birte Hilberg.

Both books presented block "components," squares with lines drawn through them. The first book gave a vague instruction to "arrange the components in a pleasing manner," without explaining how; the second book arranged the components in a pleasing manner, without explaining how. I came back to these two books (and their components) after I read about the operations of symmetry. Things started to fall into place.

I read four books about color theory: Color for Quilters, by Susan Richardson McKelvey; Color Harmony: A Guide to Creative Color Combinations, by Hideaki Chijiiwa; The Magical Effects of Color, and Color Play: Easy Steps to Imaginative Color in Quilts, by Joen Wolfrom.

I'm sure there are other books I'm forgetting . . . Johannes Itten on color theory goes in there, and another book on design by Scandanavian authors (it'll come to me as I sleep and wake me up).

I'll save the books on piecing and fabric dyeing for another time . . .

What books have YOU read that influenced you?? Please leave a comment or email me: I'd love to discuss them with you . . .

Small pieces quilted . . .

Tonight, I finished quilting the three smaller pieces (pics to come) . . . they all still need to be bound.

I experimented with different quilting angles on these pieces. On one piece, I quilted parallel rows at a 45 degree angle . . . one another piece, I quilted parallel rows one unit wide and two units high (think of a diagonal line through a 1 x 2 rectangle) . . . on the third piece, quilted parallel rows one unit wide and three units high (a much steeper angle). The quilting lines coincide with angles within the piece, so I'm happy with 'em.

Now I'm debating whether to design and start a new quilt to use up more of the fabric swap fabrics, or "go scrappy," and clear out some leftover squares and cut fabric from old projects . . .