Sunday, May 10, 2020

Everything is Canceled & Harry Potter Quilt

Clay Classes & Events Canceled

Spring is usually a busy time for art in Yakima and at YVC. At Yakima Valley College, we usually hold our annual pre-mother's day clay sale as well as the Student Exhibition at Larson Gallery in May. May is also the month for Larson Gallery's Tour of Artists' Homes and Chalet Place hosts June Art Fest in early June. This year I am still taking part in a Mount St. Helens exhibition at Oak Hollow Gallery, though people can't really go see it.

My daughter's spontaneous reaction to the pandemic.
This year, because of the pandemic and the stay at home order, my winter quarter final critiques for my clay classes were moved online, my spring 2020 clay classes were canceled shortly before the quarter began, and within the last couple of weeks, our last hopes for having a late spring clay sale have been dashed by the extension of the stay at home order. The student art exhibition at Larson Gallery hasn't happened and in late March, YVC made the decision to move nearly all classes online for summer and fall. 

The Deathly Hallows quilt square

While disappointing, all of the decisions to cancel classes and events are completely reasonable given the circumstances of the pandemic. Some of our programs have permission from the state to hold face -to-face class meetings this quarter, but students and faculty need to maintain strict social distancing protocols, wear PPE, and follow other safety precautions. Faculty are required to develop written plans, train the students on safety protocols, make sure everyone is following the new restrictions, check students for symptoms, and re-do the training and checks every day. 

My daughter's fox quilt from last year

I suspect that, even if the state allowed us to teach clay classes with social distancing protocols, it would have been difficult to meet those safety expectations. Yakima Valley College decided relatively early to move most classes online for fall. Based on what scientists seem to be saying about how the coronavirus spreads, it sounds like this decision was a wise one. I'm also glad to know this before students start signing up for fall classes later this month.

Our plans for the Trelawney's teacup

The Lucky Ones

As one of the lucky ones, who has a job that can move entirely online and whose family and friends have (probably) not contracted the virus, I have been thinking about the kinds of things that have made this time easier for me and my family. Unlike many of my colleagues, I have taught online for several years, and I've taught all of this quarter's classes online recently, so I am not in the position of having to learn to teach online or to move my classes online in a short time. I also spent significant time in August and September updating and adjusting all the dates for my online Art History series for the year, as I was anticipating that my union position and contract bargaining would make spring especially challenging and wanted to do as much as I could before spring.

Rita Skeeter as a beetle (my favorite one so far).

I am optimistic that one of the side effects of this time spent online is that my colleagues and maybe the YVC community in general, will have a better understanding of what teaching online entails. So few faculty taught online before the pandemic forced us all to go there that I think people simply didn't understand how much work online classes require. I am optimistic that this time will help put our collective energy behind supporting students and faculty in these classes.

Fluffy, the three-headed dog

My family is also lucky that our daughter is old enough that she can work on her own and that her grandparents are able to FaceTime with her regularly. We also benefit from having functional technology in the house and from living in a place where the internet is reliable. Her schoolwork has been pretty doable and, though she gets frustrated when I have hours of meetings and time on the computer for work, she is also able to find things to do that don't interrupt those meetings.

our original plan for the quilt, the size of our earliest pieces have changed significantly

Harry Potter Quilt

My daughter and I have been working on a pretty big sewing project for a little over a year and this time has probably allowed us to focus a bit more time and energy on it than we would have without the stay at home order. My daughter started doing 4H sewing few years ago. For her first project she made a "Fancy Forest" quilt, using a pattern from Elizabeth Hartman. Last year she made a large quilt using just the fox from this pattern. This year we are designing our own quilt with several pieces derived from the Fancy Forest designs. This year's quilt is Harry Potter themed.

"Fancy Forest" quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

We drew up our designs for the quilt last spring based roughly on the spacing of the full Elizabeth Hartman quilt. Some of the shapes, like the top of Luna's lion hat and Fluffy, the three-headed dog, are based on Hartman's designs. We started our plans last spring and, feeling excited about the prospect of the entire project, we bought enough fabric to complete the entire quilt (and maybe a bit more besides).
Our first six pieces, The glasses are based on the technique used for the owl's eyes and the broomsticks and top of the lion are based on the hedgehog design.

At the time I remember thinking that maybe we were overdoing it, buying so much fabric at once. Our 4H group meets in Joann's Fabrics, and we could buy the fabric anytime. The project was going to take a long time and there wasn't any reason to get ahead of ourselves. We only attend 4H once a week and there were times this year when we missed several meetings in a row due to travel, after school commitments, and other conflicts.

some of our Harry Potter fabric stash purchased this past summer

Of course, now that we're stuck at home, haven't been to Joann's in nearly two months, and are able to spend closer to two or three nights a week on the project, I'm really glad we bought all that fabric early on. Since mid March we've finished 5-7 pieces of the quilt and today we cut all the fabric pieces for three more. We completed about 10 pieces in the previous 9 months. So our speed has greatly increased.

The point at which we got too confused to continue working on the frogs

The pandemic isn't entirely the cause of the increase speed. We also have made significant improvements to our approach. When we started we didn't really use a pattern. We did a lot of guessing about angles and sides. This worked fairly well for the simple shapes, like the broomsticks and Luna's lion hat that consisted mainly of parallel shapes, but once we got into some angles, things got difficult. 

more confusion while we first tried to use the frog pattern

We got really turned around when we got to the chocolate frog and Trevor the toad. We started out trying to just guess at the angles. Finally after several people, including the 4H sewing leader and my mom, told us to make a full sized pattern, we did and we were able to complete the slightly wonky frogs.

Trevor the toad and a chocolate frog

After the frogs, we decided to start with a pattern. We used a full-scale paper pattern for Riddle's Diary, Dobby's sock, the Deathly Hallows, Scabbers, and Rita Skeeter (in her animagus beetle form).

Riddle's Diary with a basilisk fang and Dobby's/Harry's sock

Once we had completed about 15-17 (depending on how you count) of the pieces, we laid them all out to feel a sense of accomplishment. This is less than a quarter of what we plan to make for the entire quilt, but it feels good to look at them all laid out in a semblance of the final quilt.

Our quilt progress, collected