To the Studio

In the fall of 2012, I was one of 44 Northwest artists who made work for the Bellevue Arts Museum’s exhibition High Fiber Diet. My contribution to this exhibit was nine Color Grids.

Maria Shell at the BAMIt was the first time I was challenge to prepare a larger body of work and the path getting there was–let’s just say, not pretty. If you are interested in a re-cap of that adventure, you can click here. The short version is that my cat died, two huge wind storms left us without power for a lotta days, and during the middle of it all my husband ran off on a long business trip.

Which is why I went on a sweater sabbatical.

And then I decided to write a blog to capture my adventures in transforming old wool sweaters into new clothing and cotton scraps into quilts. I had no idea how much I would enjoy this. The blog gives me the opportunity to marry word and visual work. I have come to think of it as part of my artistic practice.

Balancing these three components has proven to be challenging at times. All summer, I struggled to find the time to write. This winter, I would love to make myself a new sweater, but there just isn’t time.

In fact, January is a little bit on the unrealistic side. I have two solo shows in February, and I am planning on creating three new looks for this year’s Object Runway–which happens on January 23rd.

In fact, I may have just gotten myself into a perfect pickle. Part of me thinks that, and part of me thinks, what the hell–I always manage to drag myself across the finish line. It is never pretty, but it is always an adventure. Some people drive fast or jump out of planes–I test the boundaries of my stitching abilities. What will go wrong this time? I have no idea, but it is all part of the story.

I do have a game plan. From now until January 12th, I will quilt for four hours a day and piece for the rest the day. Starting on the 13th, I will quilt for four hours a day and design garments for the rest of the day. I’ll write more about my Object Runway plan when it is closer to the 13th which is another way of saying I haven’t really figured that out yet.

Solo show number one is at the Wiseman Gallery in Grants Pass, Oregon.  This show is all about Color Grids.

Solo show number two is at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer, Alaska. This show was originally scheduled for later in the year. When we decided to move the show up, we also decided that I would show some older work as well as finish some work not related to the Color Grids. This is exciting for me. I have so many almost finished pieces rattling around in my brain.

I have dug through my bins of unfinished quilts and selected eight. For the most part, they are all past the design phase and require only stitching hours in order to be complete.

  1. Tribe (these are working titles) is currently being quilted. It is large and complicated and taking way to long, but it is almost done.
    Maria Shell Quilting Tribe
  2. Crazy Daisy is pieced and ready to be quilted.
    Crazy Daisy by Maria Shell
  3. Lite Brite is also ready for the long arm.
    Lite Brite by Maria Shell
  4. Two more seams and Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy is ready to be quilted.
    Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy by Maria Shell
  5. Tiny Treasures requires hours of mindless stitching and quilting, but the urge to have closure on all these itty-bitty color grids is very strong.
    Tiny Treasure by Maria Shell
  6. Big Grid has been designed and just needs to be stitched and quilted.
    Big Grid by Maria Shell
  7. Dress Shirts needs to be multiplied out and quilted.
    Dress Shirt by Maria Shell
  8. THINK BIG is a bit tricky and will require some composition time, but I am HIGHLY motivated.

THINK BIG by Maria ShellThe truth is I have enough finished pieces to complete the two shows as described right now–today–but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting plot line. So, I’m going to go with this and see what happens. I am actually really excited right now. When I am in eat-sleep-stitch mode its like I get to go on a meditation retreat.

Or as Buzz Lightyear might say–To the studio and BEYOND.

What are you doing for a challenging adventure this January?

This entry was published on January 3, 2014 at 2:40 PM. It’s filed under Quilt Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

11 thoughts on “To the Studio

  1. pmgarrett2 on said:

    I grow weary thinking about your life…. but loving the peach and blue thing and your boldness. Go girl. love to you all. grandma patt

    patricia garrett, lcsw

    box 671643

    chugiak, ak 99567


    Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2014 22:40:33 +0000 To:

  2. Your schedule is blowing my mind. More power to you! I guess I oughta go do something, too.

  3. Lying here by a fire with my box of kleenex and feeling quite sick, I am absolutely amazed at what you need to get done. But what fun to give it a go and succeed. All of these new pieces deserve a show! Happy New Year Maria and I know you can do it.

    • Colleen- I was wondering what you have been up to, bummer to hear that its been sneezing instead of sewing. I hope you have a quick recovery dear super nice wonderful friend from Michigan.

  4. Phew! Go you!
    I am going to drag a bunch of unfinished bits out and see what can be done with them. Also, I have three “guilt quilts”, those for specific people and reasons, to finish. I hereby challenge myself to get two fun quilt tops finished and one trad quilt all finished. I’ll keep you posted!

    • Barb- You can do it! I guess it is just my personality, but I like it when I am challenged this way. I know at some point it is going to really be depressing and miserable, but when I get to the other side it will all be worth it. Can’t wait to see your finished projects on your blog!

  5. Hi Maria… there is a second “Wonderwoman”… it;s you! Just amazing the pieces you have ready to quilt and the bitsy colour grids is hugely terrific.. so do finish it! Every piece is dynamic and screams to be seen. Best of luck with the “BEYOND” and we’ll be watching!
    Happy New Year…stitch on.
    Bethany in frigid but beautiful Kingston, ON

    • Bethany- thank you so much for your support. I know it seems crazy, but I really love it when my life gets to be totally focused on my work. I’m moving right along.

  6. Pingback: TRIBE | Maria Shell

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