Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Pantone's Got a Winner

     I always look forward to the Pantone Company announcing their Color of the Year. Usually I poke fun at Pantone since their marketing verbiage is often over-the-top. Witness 2016's choice of two colors when it was obvious that they simply couldn't make up their minds and, like a fussy aunt who can't decide on a blanket color for an upcoming baby shower, decided to feature both classic pastel shades. 

     Color bloggers called Pantone out then and I wrote a snarky blog post about it. You can read that one here  
Pantone Blew It . 
     But 2019 is a different story and I can get my heart, mind, and eyes behind this one. Pantone has named a pretty medium-shade pink with orange undertones --tagged Living Coral (16-1546)--as 2019's Color of the Year. And I am very happy about this one.        Living Coral is definitely a 'girlie color' but it goes with lots of things. And it reminds us of a natural phenomenon we may lose in our world: the pulsing colors of tropical corals, those incredible clumps of tiny polyps (that we didn't know were animals for years) but whom we now understand are the harbingers of pollution problems in our oceans. 

Corals, in spite of their rock-like exoskeletons, are delicate creatures. When
damaged by violent contact with boat propellers or over-harvested or poisoned by pollutants in the water, corals easily die out and are years coming back and sometimes never do. In spite of some people not believing in climate change or in our pressing need to clean up our environmental act, corals tell the truth. If you'd like to make a banner advocating cleaning up our oceans, Pantone's 2019 Color of the Year can fill the bill.
     As a quilter, I always wonder when and if Pantone ever pays any attention to the millions of people who buy fabrics and sew quilts. In celebration of Living Coral, this evening I think I might start choosing some go-with's for a new quilt. I have no farther to look than my own stash. This Fall StudioE Fabrics issued a new shot cotton fabric in a color called Atomic Tangerine (#69 in the Peppered Cottons family). It's a little sunnier than Living Coral but obviously they're cousins! 

For your enjoyment, here are some of the photos Pantone supplied that served as inspiration for Living Coral.

On my Christmas list: a trip to the tropics (Bahama would be nice this time of year-) to further explore the shades of Living Coral.

You can also join the party by buying a jazzy coral-theme chandelier. Save your pennies--it costs about $4600. 

Or you might get lucky and find an old barn that's faded from a rusty shade of red and become quite fashionable. 

Here's to 2019's Color of the year!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

That Blue and Its Friends-New Peppered Cotton Colors!

The name of this print is At Close of Day and was first done as an oil painting by the American artist Maxfield Parrish and then reproduced in a calendar for Brown & Bigelow, a publishing company from Minneapolis. It perfectly captures the shades of blue Parrish often used in his work. I am a sucker for Parrish blue. In this round of Peppered Cottons, we made a blue+purple combination that could have stepped right out of this painting.

Meet Parrish Blue (No. 67), a shot cotton composed of a strong cornflower blue plus purple. Perfect for all your dawns and twilights! The reason Parrish achieved such glowing shades of blue was that he first painted the complete canvas in glowing blue pigment and then started adding all other details. No other artist has done blue with quite the same depth.

We also added a new grey--though this grey looks quite a bit more textured than our other greys. Called Tweed (No. 37) it is a straight-up combination weave of darkest black and whitest white.

This is a shade I've wanted for a long time. The character of this grey is subtle but sophisticated.

Just when you think there can't be any more shades of grey....

The shade to the right is Miami (No. 58), a playful combination of bright pink and bright aqua that reflects the beautiful Art Deco neon signs of downtown Miami.

(the Miami art is by Eduardo Kranjcec)

While we're doing retro, how about a nod to the atomic '50s--here's Atomic Tangerine (No.69) a shrimpy cross-weave of bright pink and yellow.

This color was daring even in the '50's. I wouldn't refuse a spin in this '57 Thunderbird!

And in the '60s my first prom dress (more demure even than the gown pictured here) was Atomic Tangerine--though the label said 'Princess Coral.'

Did you know that the #1 favorite ice cream flavor is, still, after all these years,

But there's nothing boring about Vanilla (No. 46), a combination of white and a warm tan.

While we're talking ice cream, here's Lemon Ice (No. 24) a shade that's subtle and way too cool!

Lemon Ice combines white and a sharp citrus yellow. Looks great with any shade of grey or blue by the way.

Our customers had been telling, "We need more pinks!" so in response to their requests, two of the new Peppered Cottons are lovely pinks. Meet Carnation (No.59) and her darker cousin, Cinnamon Pink (No.65). Carnation is a white/sweet pink combo.

Did you know that in the Victorian language of flowers a pink carnation symbolized gratitude? 

Right about now's a good time to say 'thank you' to everyone who buys and uses Peppered Cottons!
 Cinnamon Pink is a combination of two shades : sharp fuchsia pink and deep red.

Bluebell (No. 17) is a true chambray--a strong blue mixed with white--every cowboy's work shirt.

OK, now concentrate: some cowboys wear the color better than others- 

To round out the ten new colors, here's Sage (No.72), a muted two-tone of soft greens. Beautiful for complimenting 1930s repro prints or any kind of appliqued stems and leaves.

Or another cowboy shirt.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Peppered Cottons Sampler Quilt

Over a year ago I responded to an email from my boss Scott Fortunoff at StudioE Fabrics. He'd asked all employees/consultants/sales reps to think about new marketing efforts. Scott is pictured at right. That wasn't a stretch for me as a longtime quilter in that I knew "many hands make light work." Short translation: ask your friends to help. So I did and sent out emails to my quilting designer buddies and asked the following:

Would you be willing to make one quilt block for a sampler quilt? There would be only four rules: #1) the block when it's mailed to me should measure 16 1/2" square so that it will sew to 16". The #2 caveat: use only Peppered Cottons in the block. The #3 rule) make sure the style of the block 'looks like you.' Tie it to some class you teach, book you're written or pattern you sell. Finally #4) Get it to me on time! 

To my delight, almost every one I wrote to responded. Then the blocks started coming in and by October 2017, I was ready to unveil the concept of the Peppered Cottons Sampler to the world. At Fall Quilt Market, in a Schoolhouse presentation, I displayed the blocks each as separate matted works of art and introduced the designers individually. I explained the concept of this quilt was something called Reciprocal Marketing. Simply speaking, it meant that the designers all got publicity for themselves and their work while StudioE got a beautiful quilt to display to show off the Peppered Cottons line.
The block pictured left is Featherberry by Robin Koehler.

I was the 'glue' that held this project together. I did the correspondence, cut and sent the fabrics and then received the blocks and prepared them for their Fall Market debut by having custom-cut matting made and then mounting each with thin batting behind the project and posterboard backs. At this point each block could have been hung as an individual work of art. Here's a link to that Schoolhouse where the blocks were shown as individual works .

After Market, I took the blocks out of their mountings and carefully ironed and set them aside as I designed the perfect 'set' for them. The word 'set' in quilt lingo means two things: the quilt's block arrangement and it's eventual size. I went through a large pad of graph paper as I experimented with the challenge of displaying twelve beautiful 16" square blocks that were all different colors and styles. And sewed, ripped, sewed again two different times. Then I realized I'd hung the blocks on my design wall in a natural and quite traditional arrangement and that it worked! 

Falling back on my North Carolina roots, I sewed triple-strip sashing units (1" wide by 16" long) united by common cornerstone blocks 3" square. The sashing strips were of different colors (just like the blocks) but a calm neutral (Pepper #44-31) anchored the strip sets and appeared as all the cornerstone blocks. Interesting that although Pepper is one of the top-selling colors in the Peppered Cottons line, none of the designers had used it as a major player in their blocks. Thank goodness I had this quiet color to work with! 

In January/February 2018, I put together the sampler quilt. In March the quilt top went to Laurie Mayo, an extraordinary longarm quilter in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Then I breathed a sigh of relief as I knew Laurie would do an excellent job. We talked several times about quilting styles, thread color, and placement of designs. On the tray you see all the different colors of threads Laurie used to quilt the sampler.

Here are a couple of pictures of Laurie's glorious quilting as seen from the back of the quilt. Notice the thread changes. Left is Janice Pope's block and right is the border of the quilt/

By the end of April the Peppered Cottons Sampler quilt was ready. All that remained to do was to hand-sew the binding down. Rod and I took the Sampler into the back yard to photograph it against his shed as I had no wall big enough to accommodate the piece.

It's natural when viewing a Sampler quilt to choose your favorite block. If you do, the text following the picture has all the information you need to contact the block's maker and see more of her work and to purchase her patterns and books.

From left to right starting at the top row: Crazy Quilt by Valerie Bothell of the Facebook page Joyful Embellishments  . Author of  the book Joyful Daily Stitching. Center block: Pieced star by Bonnie Hunter, www. , author of numerous quilt books. Right upper corner: Pineapple applique block by Kathy Delaney, . Author of several books, teacher, and quilt judge. 

Second row left to right: Featherberry by Robin Koehler of Nestlings by Robin . Center block: Kelly Ashton, Kellyquilter Designs . Right block: Applique Tulips by Sue Pelland of Sue Pelland Designs, .

Third row left to right: Antique Vase pattern by Allison Aller of Allie’s in Stitches Author of Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined. Center block: Janice Pope of Anything But Boring Designs Right block: Ginko Love by Robin Koehler of Nestlings by Robin .

Fourth row left to right: Gyleen X. Fitzgerald, Colourful Stitches .
Author of Bricks, Cobblestones, and Pebbles . Center block: Susan R. Marth of Suzn Quilts . Author of The Dresden Quilt Workshop. Right block: Barbara Black of My Joyful Journey: My Life as a Quiltmaker and Quilt Teacher, /. 

To all my quilting friends who contributed to this beautiful quilt, my deep and sincere thanks. As we do in the South, I'd have you all over for supper!  

                                         Photo taken in 1959, Grand Lake, Colorado.

Friday, May 4, 2018

All Sorts

As soon as I saw the fabric line called Licorice Candy from StudioE Fabrics, I knew it was something special. And as is often the case with my left-of-center choices, the line was not wildly popular with quilt stores. Licorice Candy came out last Fall and has been all shipped to stores--although there may be a bit left in the warehouse or floating around on ebay or Amazon. But I only was able to get a little bit of each of the fabrics. Most of the samples I sorted right away into their color bins--the yellow and turquoise for instance went straight to their respective tubs stowed away on the Great Wall of Fabric. 

I knew there was a quilt waiting to happen in the Art Deco-inspired geometric print and the widely-spaced floating posies of Licorice Candy. These two prints remained in view in the studio as I didn't want to lose them in the general chaos. And I made a drawing of an old familiar quilt pattern using Drunkard's Path blocks, my favorite quilt block since the 1980s. 

These two prints from the Licorice Candy line have no special names other than 3353-09 and 3353-91. In my mind I called them 'all sorts' prints since they reminded me of the classic British candy by that name. 

All Sorts candy was supposedly invented in 1899 by a clumsy salesman named Charlie Thompson who worked for Basset's Candy Company. Charlie tripped when he was showing a tray of separate licorice candies to a potential customer and the resulting colorful mess delighted the customer who ordered the 'all sorts' mixture. Whatever the quilt I made was going to be, its name would be All Sorts.

The working drawing was on graph paper but informal. It's the way I usually plan my quilts. You realize that in letting you see this drawing, I am revealing that I don't plot out my quilts down to the details nor that I am even very precise. I like the idea that I might change my mind at any time. In the meantime, my friend Mary Frankle was a good sport and cut out pieces, stacking them on paper plates.

Here was the teaser picture I put up on Facebook a couple of days ago. Just two of the blocks side by side.

Little did the FB friends who commented know that the blocks would shortly be joined by seven other blocks and not all would show the same background print. After all, I had only 1 1/4 yard of each print and this was looking to be a queen-size quilt.

Meet All Sorts, a queen-size quilt top that we could only photograph by clipping it to the side of Rod's shed in the back yard.

The individual blocks are large (24" square) and the border adds another 12". It's a whopping 84" square.

Have no idea exactly how I'll quilt it right now. A combination of hand and machine work is likely. The backing will be the same charcoal grey but the binding will be eye-popping purple.

Feeling quite pleased with myself today.