Friday, October 28, 2011

Today I am playing with Orchids, and it is fascinating because I had no idea there were so many different varieties. I go into the grocery store and they always have gorgeous ones. Lowe's had them in Georgia. Tons of them, and I bought a plant, knowing full well that I do wonderful things with house plants that do not bloom, but bring a blooming plant into my home and it dies within 10 days! It is an interesting phenomenon that I do not understand. Because the last one I bought in Georgia, after a week, looked so pathetic, I ended up giving it to my daughter-in-law, who for some reason or other can make any blooming plant bloom 10 times more than any normal flowering plant should. After a week's hospitalization at her house, the Orchid looked gorgeous. She did end up with quite a few blooming plants that way, and now I have given it up.

So I figure if I can't grow them, I might be able to draw them and create interesting blocks out of them that hopefully other Orchid lovers will enjoy!
These are 12" blocks that I am preparing to put on Pam's Club, and I am wondering if I should offer them in 12" and 18". I sketched out an interesting framed looking wall quilt and am wondering if that is the way to go - or just let the talented quilters out there do whatever they want with them!
There is nothing that I enjoy more than dabbling in different fabrics, so I had fun with these. Several different fabric companies are represented in these blocks.
Last year I became acquainted with Wilmington Fabrics, and I just love them. Interesting patterns that give movement to a design and lovely colors. So look for these soon.
I am actually taking the weekend off to finish unpacking the final boxes sitting around this house, so that I no longer feel like I am living out of a suitcase or a box!
The high point of today came when 7 Mule deer were grazing in my front yard, one was a little 2 point buck and I grabbed my camera and ran for the window before The Incredible Hulk had a chance to bark and scare them off!
Boy! It's good to be home! Inspiration everywhere I look!

Friday, October 21, 2011

I posted these photos on my Facebook fan page when they came in today and I am using them again tonight to give you my thoughts on what makes a great looking quilt. This was made by Melissa Staib. The design is called Lily Pond and the emphasis is really on the dragonflies in the design that I originally did. When I designed it, the original quilt was executed with a Robert Kaufman Collection that I was working with at the time to coordinate with my Initially Yours line, therefore, I didn't have a lot of room to play with different fabrics. I stuck with the combination that I had chosen to begin with to create a "look" for the entire collection.
Melissa posted on my Facebook page that she wanted the quilt to be bright, cheerful and yet feminine. Well, she really accomplished it.
If you look only at the one block, you can see the leaves of the flowers, however when the blocks are joined together, the leaves form hearts. Melissa played up the flowers, which is the bright and cheerful and the dragonflies give the quilt its soft feminine look. And yet, when placed on a bed, the overall effect will be stunning, as the dragonflies form a circular effect.
The fabric choices here just do not get any better. I like to see a quilt that is well balanced. By that I mean colors that are carried from one element to another. On this quilt, Melissa has carried the pink in the flower into the dragonfly wings, yet in a bit lighter shade. The blues, although she used different fabrics blend beautifully, and the overall effect is stunning.

Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, and what appeals to me, may not appeal to everyone, but I do not like to have to hunt for a design in a quilt. That is my personal taste, and many would not agree with it.

Everyone has their own sense of what colors "speak" to them, and one person who might like this in purple would be on the right track if that is what makes that person feel good. You have to feel good about what you are making, and in my opinion, not just make something to say "I made it and I got it done in a weekend!" That is the artist inside of me, and that is the way I think, which doesn't necessarily make it the "law of good quilting and design". This piece of work, to me, is as close as you can get to creating something that you can show off and be proud of. It certainly could be a ribbon winner in a show if I were one of the judges! Congratulations Melissa Staib. I think you have done a smashing job!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Well, it's been a while I know! We have unpacked when we have been able to and have the kitchen set up and the dining room. Bathrooms are sort of done but there are boxes sitting unopened all over my office waiting to go onto my book shelf. All quilting and design books of some kind or another. I have been very determined to keep my priorities straight as I am one of those people who has a huge problem living in clutter, but I wanted to get new designs to our members - and non members and get my first Newsletter from Colorado out, which is going out to everyone in chunks. We are testing a new server, so we don't want to overload.
I thought it might be fun to share a few of my decorating adventures with you as I love to decorate and haven't had adequate time to do what I want to do, but it will get there!
I swear, realtors have special lenses on their cameras to make things look longer and larger than they really are. I am sharing two photos with you that I had to work with before we moved. The one on the top shows the living room and goes into the dining room. Santa Fe, Adobe homes have massive posts that are generally dark, rough hewn wood with accents of the same type of wood and the same style in different areas of the home. I love that look, and really wanted to utilize it.
Because we now really live in the forest, I wanted to use as many natural accents as I could with my decorating. The photo beneath the top picture shows a portion of the dining room that has an enchanting window looking into the kitchen. This too was taken by the realtors. The first thing I noticed when I looked at the photo in Georgia were all of the pots hanging in that window. To me, it spoiled the effect of being able to look into a brightly decorated, friendly kitchen. When we got here and I saw the flagstone wall in the kitchen with a charming small wood stove, I wanted people to be able to see that from the dining area.
I took snapshots last night of what I did with that area to improve it and add some of nature in the process. Now these are not the greatest snapshots in the world, but it gives you an idea.
I am a bargain hunter, - have been for years. I have quite a few baskets that I really like and boxes of dried and natural looking flowers in every shape and color. I just happened to find one of those boxes and dug right into it.
Robert and I have a lovely antique ice box that we have had for at least 40 years, and it fits right in with our Southwest style, rustic furniture. Those two styles of furniture are really a good mix as both show the lovely wood grain.
The first day that we began to unpack, Susan put the little green tea kettle in the window and I built around that. We have unwrapped two framed pieces of art, and the one hanging above the ice box is one of my favorites. It is the only piece of honest to goodness true art that Robert and I have ever purchased, and it is an artist from Taos by the name of Ed Morgan. It is actually an embossed Indian, putting on his moccasins with just a touch of silk paint in defining places. We purposely chose a very rough looking frame for the piece. The photo does not do it justice, but when we unpacked it we couldn't believe the effect that it had in that spot, as the inside edges of the frame are gold, and the yellow walls just made it "pop". I didn't think I would like the yellow walls, but I really do.
Now, from both directions you can see into the kitchen as I framed the window ledge with old wine bottles (one antique one from a rummage sale) and some round, decorative pieces made from large seed pods found here and there in our yard years ago when we lived in Durango. The wooden deer were a Christmas gift from some friends, and the antlers look wonderful near the dark, wooden window frame.
I have picked up natural touches in the few places that I have had time to decorate, and am relishing every spare moment that I get to complete it and finally see the end of boxes!!
This home is not as large as the homes we have had in the past, but we are in love with it. The stove in the living room is gas and has logs and flames when turned on. It throws some powerful heat and I am thrilled with the insulation in this house. It stays warm and toasty when that stove is on.
It's cozy and has huge windows all over the house, which I love. I like to look outside and be a part of natural things and wildlife. Fortunately, my office has two windows, one very large that faces the mountains.
I guess my husband summed it up the best after the first 5 days. He said: "I haven't felt this kind of peace in 25 years!" I second that one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Continued from September 19, 2011 post..........The end of the story may be lengthy, but I will complete it tonight.
1995 brought many changes to our lives, most of which were traumatic. Her return in the fall, that I had looked forward to for so long was not at all what I expected. She was the peaceful slice that remained in my life at that time, and I yearned to see her young. A lovely daughter walked behind her as she approached me from the hillside. How did she sense my stress and despair? I'll never know, but I believe that she felt the disturbance in my once peaceful inner being, as she immediately swung around and chased her young to the top of the hillside where she remained.
This did not change our unique bond, as she returned to me, and allowed me to put my arms around her, somehow sensing that this silent gesture was my need for her comfort and friendship. And it remained so, throughout that winter and into the spring of 1996. Our daily quiet walks together, crusted snow crunching under our feet, and always watching her lovely child standing on the hillside waiting for her mother to return to her. I was never allowed to touch, or approach her little girl, and I respected the unanticipated protective side of this kindred spirit beside me. It was a time of grief and sadness for me, and difficult to comprehend why her young was kept at a distance.

My life and part of my history as a designer must now come into play to explain the turmoil that had come to be in my existence during this period of time. My husband and I had worked for many years to build our business so that we might pursue our dreams and fulfill our destiny. The hard work had paid off as I stood on the deck of my new home in Colorado on October 3rd, 1985, beholding a beautiful double rainbow across our little valley. A tremendous feeling of accomplishment swept over me. I had produced the art that was born within me and was part of my identity in a way that I had never imagined when I began painting water colors in my late teens.
I was introduced to crafts by friends, thus beginning my journey into quilting and designing. Drawing, and then stitching out the motifs in my head, and seeing them come to life was one of the greatest gifts that could have happened to me, and I marveled that I was earning a good living creating from the depths of my imagination.
I had teamed up with Better Homes & Gardens magazine in the early 1980's, producing a Transportation Quilt that made the cover of the magazine in July of 1981 and was a monumental success. It was the beginning of the huge triumph that we experienced for over 14 years, designing and manufacturing not only for the magazine, but for Better Homes Craft and Book Club as well. I designed, and Robert, my husband, manufactured my designs. His creative side emerged during this time and we generated everything from quilting patterns to cross stitch, candlewicking, and any craft that was popular during the 1980's through the mid 1990's, but it proved to be a fatal mistake and a good lesson for later in my life.
The bulk of our work came from the Book Club, and I was kept very busy producing all of the models for photography and then the instructions that were all produced by my hand, as computers were just making their debut in the marketplace, but had yet to reach my realm of production.
Although Pam Bono Designs was on every color front sheet that Better Homes printed after photographing my models, we were never allowed to place any contact information about our company on anything that we produced for them, which included both kits and patterns. Little time was available for me to pursue other clients, nor did it enter my mind to do so, as I felt very secure with this giant company, even though my work was all on a sub-contract basis.
Each month I had a phone "meeting" with the people that I worked with in New York, and decisions were made regarding what I would produce in the coming weeks. The designs were completed, sent to New York for photography, during which time I produced the patterns and instructions. Soon the purchase orders followed for the kits or patterns. Although it kept us very busy, we did find time to enjoy our home and our life in the place that we loved.
After 14 years it was over as abruptly as it had started. The "Powers That Be" had gone into the offices in New York, unannounced, and fired everyone as they did not feel that the Book Club was profitable any longer. Kits and patterns were no longer offered in the magazine. The Book Club was sold and I found myself without an income and without any contacts with other possible clients. We had a son in college and our second son would soon be graduating high school. Fortunately we had a "nest egg" that stretched out for 18 months while I searched for other ways in which to market my work.
The loss went deeper than the income, as I felt that I had lost the vocation that I truly loved, and had put my heart into for so many years. Had I taken it all for granted? I was too close to the situation to be able to step back and look at the positive potential.
We hung on as best as we could, and it seemed as though I hit one brick wall after another. Fall of 1996 had come and she was back, but this time with a beautiful little male who reminded me so much of her brother. He strutted and pranced in our yard showing pride at a very young age. Although she hustled him to the top of the hill when I appeared, I just had to give him a name as I stood at our living room window every day and watched his performance. I named him Jack.
As things went from bad to worse, we were forced to sell our beloved little home at the top of the hill where I had stood on my deck so many times and watched the cowboys move their cattle to and from the high country, and had marveled at the beauty of the rainbows. This had been so much a part of my inspiration. The colorful inspiration that went into every design that I had rendered or put my hand to. The loss was devastating.
To this day, I don't know how she knew that we were leaving, but she knew. Still keeping her young at the top of the hill, she followed me around like a dog every time I appeared, and the love between us would remain in my heart forever. I had no gift to give her the day before we were to leave, but she gave me her complete affection that day, and it will remain with me as long as I live. We stood in the driveway together, my arm around her while she gazed up at me. I spoke softly to her and she reached up towards my face to rub noses.
Suddenly she stepped aside, moved her head in a gesture, and I saw Jack running towards me. I was frozen to the spot as he approached and stood before me. Reaching my hand out slowly, I touched the silky hair on his beautiful little head as he arched his neck upwards to rub noses. My journey with them had come full circle. No greater gift had ever been bestowed upon me. No unconditional love had ever gone this deep, nor would it ever again. She had given me the only gift that she had, and that gift was her baby.

I feel no sorrow now, although it took years before I could tell the story without tears. The experience taught me many things, one of which was self reliance, and the other was never to give up my dreams, which I have yet to do. My husband and I, and now with our assistant designer, Susan have authored many books, and have built a website to fulfill our independence and to teach quilters, and those who love crafts, the best possible ways to achieve success and build skills so that they may produce work that they are proud of.

So many remarkable things were experienced with this special loved one in my life who was a great teacher for me and for my family. She was a gift, and she was a miracle. There is not a day that passes that I am not grateful to have had her in my life, and to have experienced and learned what happens when you love a place so much, and connect so deeply with nature, it has a way of giving that love back to you in ways that you never imagined.

Her name was Webster, and she was a Mule Deer in our beautiful State of Colorado. She never did quite grow into those huge ears!!