Posts Tagged ‘classroom’

Thread Magic Summer School: Contrasts in Tone

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013


Cyborg Female 3- Amusing Disorder

Cyborg Female 3- Amusing Disorder

Our color master today is Kathy Weaver.

Tone is the dark side of colors. In dye and paint a color can be darkened either by browns, blacks or by the complement of the color. Tint is the lightening of colors either with white or water. 

We somehow fear the dark. We sometimes forget the  colors that dark or muddy. But diamonds show up best against a black cloth. Darks are our shadows, our depths, the underside, the forest glade and our art is sorely limited without them. 

Pastels offer us a pale world, a shadow delicate mist.  I find it hard to go there. I want all my colors bright. But bright colors gleem against a pastel background. In both cases it  is a contrast in tone that focuses us exactly onto the art and lights our excitement.

Kathy Weaver has created a quilted world of robots that have always astonished me. She’s color master, part for her choices but largely for her painted imagery that jumpstarts her work. And she knows how to work contrast to make her images shine.

I’m also going to introduce you to one of my favorite online tools. Big Huge Labs is a site that has all kinds of free and fabulous photo tools. This is their swatch generator. It’s an easier way to look at the colors in a piece.

Here is one of Kathy’s works and a swatch list of the colors she used.

Robo Sapiens, Agent 5 has a glowing yellow robot against a deeply toned set of bars.

In Robo Sapiens Agent Four, we have the contrast of this wild pink robot against a beige netral.

Robo Sapien Agent 2 glows against the darkly toned background.

When we look at the swatches we can see the contrast in tone, the light and the dark. In all cases, she chooses the difference in tone to accentuate the figure from the  ground.

The figure is our focus. But if it do the same as our background, our ground, the eye has to somehow figure out where it is. Making a visual obvious distinction between the figure and the ground pops it all into view. And making it with differences in  contrast is a clean and clear way to that.

Cyborg Female 1- Complacent Nature

Cyborg Female 1- Complacent Nature

It doesn’t matter whether we choose a lighter or darker backg round. The difference itself, either way sets the figure fore and center in our perception. Cyyborg Femail has yellow arms that echo her background. But the difference in the tone pops her out against it. She glows against the background because there’s a contrast.

Fire Slinger glows against the dark because of the differences as well, although this time she’s gone to the darker contrasts.

Fire Slinger

Fire Slinger

And Invader has both soft background and foreground, but she lets the edges darken enough to pop the contrast.



Explore more of Kathy Weaver’s fabulous world on her web site at

Or you can learn from her at her classes coming up at Arrowmont, September 29th through october 5th. Here is the website info. workshops/venueevents/196-kathy-weaver


Make your images pop by choosing differences in tone when you pick backrounds. Go light. Go dark. Go different!

Laurens refrigerator

On our refrigerator today we have Lauren Strach from St. Joseph, MI. Lauren’s nature quilts have attracted attention (and prizes) both locally and nationally. Her work sings with color and contrast!

















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You’ll find more of Lauren’s fabulous work on her facebook page at

Dragonfly Sky Class at Smith Owen’s in Grand Rapids, MI

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Even though it’s unreasonably early, we expect a dragonfly sighting at Smith Owens Sewing Center in Grand Rapids.802+Dragonfly+cloud on  February 23rd. You could even take one home!

Here’s the information on my class!

Ellen Ann Eddy is coming to Smith-Owen to teach her most popular class, Dragonfly Sky. It focuses on soft edge applique, angelina fiber, and bobbin work with fabulous thick threads.

dragonfly sEllen Anne Eddy is an internationally known fiber artist whose wall art goes beyond the traditional concept of quilting, and now she is coming to teach you her specialty techniques using bobbin work, soft edge appliqué techniques and more.

Join us for this 6 hour workshop and leave with a beautiful finished wall art and the confidence to do more.

  Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time: 10:00 AM – 4PM
Location: 4051 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525
Phone: 616-361-5484 800-383-3238
Smith Owen Sewing Center is a fabulous Viking/Pfaff store with a magnificent thread and fabric collection that has been a legend in Grand Rapids for years. Join me there for this very fun class day!

Care and Feeding of Guilds: The Right Classes

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

It’s that time of year when guilds start to pick next year’s line up. As a teacher I spend a lot of time figuring out how to really give students what they need in a class. This is some of what I think about when I’m building my class line up.

It helps that I came out to teach. I have a degree in Primary education. The economy of the time had other notions. And when it came down to it, I’m good at imparting information and lousy at crowd control. When I ended up teaching 8th grade, that was fatal.  I’ve come to love teaching quilters, where everyone wants to be there, and every one wants to have fun.

 I’ve learned two things about guilds. First is that guilds are all different. Their members, skill levels, interests and passions run the gamut.Secondly that you don’t teach classes, you teach people. You take them right where they are and they learn from there. Thirdly is that class is just people, so toss the class plan if it isn’t working,and give them what they really need.   I’ve learned to offer several different kinds of classes so students really get the teaching day they want. And I’ve learned to change class on a dime when I can see they need other and want other skills not on the plan.

Lectures are visual snacks. They need to hit the spot: Does your group want to learn about color? Thread work? Design? Pattern Free Applique? Or talk about development? I have a lecture for each of those, focused for differing skills and interests.

Thread Magic Garden

Of course I have classes based on my new book,Thread Magic Garden.You can check the rave reviews from

Thread Magic Garden, includes a pattern-less method of flower design, special skill builders on couching, machine beading, corded buttonhole binding, and Angelina fiber, 6 different stitches for free motion applique, 25 flower designs (which can be used to mix and match), 50 new quilts and 2 fabulous projects to get you started in your own thread magic garden. 

I’ve got all kinds of new classes focused on patternless floral applique.

The Thread Magic Garden lecture is brand new.It shows fabulous gardens in life and fabric with wonderful ways to make fabric flowers out of simple shapes. Recommended for groups interested in flowers and in beginning abstract design.

Classes based on Thread Magic Garden

  • Thread Magic Irises

  • Thread Magic Roses

  • Thread Magic Bleeding Hearts

  • Thread Magic Abstract Florals 

Then I like to offer classes focused on how you like to learn

 Do you want to design your own projects? Master Classes are the place for that. I offer master classes in

  • Abstract Floral Design

  • Thread Magic Mastery: Every Kind of Thread

  • Thread Magic Jacket/Vest

  • Free Motion Applique Mastery

  •  Thread Magic: Painting with Thread

Do you want a One day classes that focus on a specific achievable project? These classes offer that.

  • Dragonfly Sky

  • Ladybug’s Garden 

  • Dye Day Workshop

Do you want classes that teach technique and don’t work on a project but teach a specific skill? Here are some great skill based classes

  • Thread Magic Technique Book

  • Stitch Vocabulary

  • Corded Binding 

  • Thread Magic Overview

Are you looking for an easy entertaining class,just for fun?

These achievable projects are a great afternoon sit and sew.

  • Perfect  Pin Cushions

  • Guilding the Lily

  • Thread Magic Badges 

  • Tea Towl Sampler 

    So why do I set up so many kinds of classes? I really want to teach groups what they really want to know. If you ask me for a special class, of course we’ll set it up. That’s how new classes start.

    How do you get classes with me? Just ask.  I’ll say yes. But your best venue is your local guild or shop. If you ask them for my classes as a member, they’re so much more likely to respond than to my my adds or offers. Guild requests are responsible for probably about 70% of my teaching invitations.
    Don’t belong to a guild? Well, you’re missing something. Guilds have always been the backbone of the quilt community. They offer companionship, fun, fabric opportunities, and inexpensive classes from world class teachers. And you get to touch the quilts.

    For a complete list of lectures, workshops, and pricing please visit my web site at  for all her class  and lecture offerings.

Sarah Hinman will be handling Ellen’s Scheduling. You can call Sarah at 616-485-5646 or email her to schedule your class time with Ellen today!

Pat Jones: Mountain Fringe Girl

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012



I met Pat Jones at the Mountain Laurel Guild in Georgia. The whole guild was full of wild gardeners and astonishing fiber artists. Pat fits right in. She lives in a cabin up the mountain where birds sing to her right off her porch, looking down the gorge. It’s another world.

Pat tells me I gave her permission in my first book to try things. And she has. She’s this quiet and very proper southern gal doing wonderfully wild things with her thread and fabric.

She took my flower class, and being a master gardener herself, she build one incredible flower garden.

Here’s what she had to say about it.

“First, THANK YOU for your visit with us in June.  We were ALL blown away by your work!  What inspiration!  As a result, I had to put all the work I was in the middle of aside and try your techniques.  This is my first attempt, and I plan to do MANY more!  I have a long way to go….got to learn to be FREE!  What a joy you are and your work is gorgeous, on top of that, your teaching is so excellent that it makes us feel confident that we can try it. 
The pink flowers in the wall hanging were stitched onto a felt background then stitched on the background fabric sandwich.  That made them raised a little and I really like the effect.  The center of the flowers is all thread stitched onto Ultra Solvy then applied.  The butterfly is, of course, Angelina.  The wisteria is made of tubes of hand painted organza and silk. 
This past Tuesday was guild and it made a splash with the girls!!!”
There’s no way to know where she’ll go next with her work, but she’s unstoppable. I can’t wait to see.

Bird Speaks from the Dog House: Studio Miracles

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

As always, it’s my job to care for the social well being of all people who come to the studio. I think they lack proper dogs who kiss them enough. I always help with that.

But I also get to see the miracles that happen when you have a creative space. A creative space doesn’t just make objects. It makes people creative. And bless them, we know they need help.

Liams machine

Several years ago, a lady left a sewing machine for my mom. It was an  awfully old Pfaff, before the walking foot mechanism. She said at the time, she’d find it a home. It’s home seemed to be under the counter.




Then her neighbor Liam, who is 11 told her he wanted a sewing machine. Liam is a great neighbor. He comes over, tells great stories, rubs dog tummies, watches Mom sew and has helped make a great new garden bed for Mom. He even helps her find camera and glasses.

There’s a readiness to learning to sew, just like there is for reading. When a kid wants to, that’s the time. Thank God we had that machine ready and waiting. It’s perfect. It’s all metal, tough, strong and solid. And Liam loves to oil and maintain it. To make him feel better I stuck my nose right up his back while he was stitching. You know, I think he needs that kind of support. But it was good his foot was off the pedal.

But that’s what a good studio does. There’s a lady who needed a place to give her machine to. There’s a little boy sewing his heart out. There’s Mom with great and lovely people around her. A studio is a place to create things. But it also creates happy people.

Can you come to our studio? Well, of course. Call Mom first so she knows or you may find her upside down in a dye sink. If you wish to see a clean studio you can make an appointment for 3 years from now. If you to come play, well just come over.

Who Me?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


Quilter  Magazine offers a Teacher of the Year award. It’s one of those rare moments when someone says thank you. Class is always a rush. Quilters are the best folk on earth and if anyone will follow the niceties, it’s quilters. But it’s rare and lovely to hear a thank you.

I grew up in a teaching family. Everyone in my family had a teaching degree although not everyone taught. But even though I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, it was assumed that that was true if I wanted to be a teacher. I did want to be an archeologist, but that involved bugs and snakes. Bugs I like. Snakes I don’t. Eventually, the snakes and the need for serious organization intruded into the dream and I took my degree in primary education.

It was with serious shock that I realized I wasn’t suited to teach in a regular classroom. It should have been a clue when I realized that I was leading the riot. I’m great at communicating and setting up learning environment. Not so good at crowd control.

So when I began to teach quilters, I knew I found a home. But I also found that my students have always taught me.

They’ve taught me the kindness and personal support quilters give each other.

They’ve taught me to laugh at myself most.

They’ve taught me that the worst disaster is only a comedy in process.

They’ve taught me that nothing is impossible. It just takes more time.

They’ve taught me that physical limits are simply an invitation to do it differently.

They’ve taught me that most things can be fixed with chocolate, duct tape and ice cream, at least for a while.

They’ve taught me to ask for help.

They’ve taught me that accepting someone’s help or gift is a gift in itself, and it’s selfish not to do so.

So, since someone nominated me for teacher of the year, I have one thing to say. After all you’ve taught me, thank you.

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