Thursday, 16 February 2012

Lights, Camera, ACTION!!!

Lights, Camera, ACTION!!!

This year PTQ is taking a journey into area’s unexplored and I am taking you along for the ride to share the ups, downs and all the in between. For the past five or six years my students have been encouraging, begging, emailing and posting on my facebook, requesting that I have my classes put on video. Now it’s not that I am camera shy, I’ve been on dozens of TV and On Line quilting shows in the past, and we often film live on the spot Utube videos for PTQProductions, it’s been more of a challenge to find the right camera crew. This might sound odd but I needed to know that the finished video would be, not only of the highest quality, but also that it would be as close to being with me in a class as possible. They say the hardest thing to do is to create the same energy level of a “live class” setting, on an “in studio” filming. This means that even after hours of endless takes and retakes and “A” shots and “B” shots that I needed to know that when we where finished taping you would still feel at least some of the crazy excitement that we share in class. I didn’t want the video to end up looking and sounding like a college instructor lecturing to class of sleeping students, and lets be honest, my biggest fear of course was that it would end up all work and no play! After all, my whole out look on free motion quilting is that it should be first and foremost FUN! Like I always say... It’s not brain surgery... It’s Quilting. I have been looking for the right film crew for the past five years... do you know how hard it is to find a film crew that understands not only quilting but quilters with my personality? Take it from me it’s harder then you might think. Then, last year I was asked to film half a dozen episodes for Linda V. Taylor’s “The Quilting School”. Before I was half way through the first episode I knew in my heart and in my mind that this was the perfect set up, the perfect crew, and the perfect everything to make the magic happen. 
The perfect crew !! The perfect place!!

 Knowing who you want to film your videos and where you want to film them is just the beginning. Before leaving Crazy Horse Production Studios, Jon (my partner and the business side of my brain) and I booked an appointment to meet with everyone that would be involved while we were all in Houston at Market and Festival. There where about six or maybe seven or eight, people at that meeting... I couldn’t tell you exactly who was there as I may have been to busy chatting with Linda and doodling in my note pad while I should have been paying attention. If there is one thing I have learned over the past 12 years, it this; know your strength’s and your weaknesses. Handle what you are best at and have someone else you trust handle the rest. I am not good at business meetings, contracts, any kind of paperwork that involves writing or typing or anything other then drawing really.  We can’t be good at everything and why would we want to be? My philosophy in life is simply this; Find something that you are passionate about and talented at and find a way to earn an income doing just what you love. Don’t miss understand me, you need to know it takes hours of hard work and strict determination to turn your passions into a business, but when you love what you are doing, the 24 hour, 365 days a year it takes to make a living with that passion, doesn’t seem nearly as hard as working a job you hate 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I LOVE to share tips, tricks, and new design ideas!

I LOVE to share my passion for quilting through lectures and trunk show!

 Jon took the lead at the meeting, knowing that I was just there to answer short yes and no direct questions. Jon, Rick and Todd discussed the over all feel of the videos, the time and length that the finished product should be, the money... who pays what, when and why. They agreed on a time date and location and before I knew it the business end of the planning was complete. Coffee time! I can’t remember if we signed contracts of intent but we probably did. Then the real work began. As soon as I arrived home the emails started flooding in. Todd needed a brake down of the classes, descriptions, content, some form of script, even though we all knew that I would not be using a prompter and that I would surely re-script as we filmed on the spur of the moment. He needed to know in advance what shots where the most important to capture and when and where I would be talking directly to the camera for my close up’s and when the camera should be focused just on my stitching! It was all very over whelming. I was sure the emails should have been going to Jon as they looked a lot like paperwork to me. When I filmed for the TV episodes I just had to have Jon send them my class outline and make sure that I brought lots of pretty samples to show. The hostess would ask me questions that I would answer while I was quilting out the techniques we  discussed, before I knew it someone would yell “CUT” and the episode would be complete.
Answer a few questions, quilt a little for the camera and Cut!

 So the emails kept coming and by the time we headed out to The Crazy Horse Productions Studio I had lots of “paperwork” printed out, ready to be filled in but nothing completed to hand to Todd when we arrived. Truth be told... the last few emails, I just printed with out even reading them, hoping that the quilting fairy would come along while I was asleep and fill in all the information for me...The fairy never came! The paperwork never got filled out...
This is where an awesome film crew that understands us (when I say us, I mean those of us who pay more attention to colour and design then questions and answers) comes into play... After we arrived Todd had me answer a few simple questions and write out a paragraph or two on what I wanted to see on the completed video. Then he worked it onto a “film sheet” and broke it down into takes, retakes, “A” shots and “B” shots. Of course I had no idea at this point what the difference between an “A” shot and a “B” shot was, but I can tell you now that one is the close up where I am talking to you or drawing on the white board and the other is me talking while you are watching a close up of the quilting. 
Oh did we start filming already? Oops!
No one can see that I am wearing my glasses right?
No one will know you have your glasses on, we're doing a ZenSuedle Close Up!

These are shot at different times and then edited together later to make it look like it is all happening at the same time. This allows the crew to reset the lights and camera angles for a clear, more professional looking video when all is said and done. The trick is remembering what I said when and where and which boots went with witch jacket and don’t even get me started on the earrings and bracelets and necklaces that went with each outfit. Oh and quick tip... remember to turn off your microphone between takes, you never know who might be listening in...
They think my designs are really cool.... I can hear them...

It takes about 4-6 hours to tape 1-2 hours of completed video with all the lighting and placement changes but it is well worth it in the end. We managed to shoot 6 full length videos all between 1 ½ and 2 hours in length in 3 ½ days, including all the photo shots for promotion, adds, and the video covers. We started at the break of dawn.  
Yes Coffee first!! Hair and make up can wait!!

 Each morning after breakfast Linda would decorate my nails, just one of the many perks at Crazy Horse Studio’s, while Rick and Todd prepared the lighting and the sets.
WOW it's like Linda is ZenSuedling my nails!!
 Then it was hair, make up and which outfit to wear. All the samples were pre arranged in staging areas, the longarm machine was loaded with jet black fabric (my favourite) and brightly coloured variegated threads and we were filming every morning by 9 am. We usually started with the close ups, the introduction and the thanks for joining us, and the step by step instructions either on the white board or at the table.

What! Am I saying hello and welcome to Quilt It With... or goodbye?

And here we go... bump-back-over

 Then it was time for a quick lighting change, a quick cup of coffee, and then onto the close ups of the stitch outs.
A cup between takes always makes me smile!

And just like we saw it on the white board we'll just bump-back-over

WOW that adds Awesome texture doesn't it?!?
 We averaged about 4 ½ hours per video which allowed us to complete one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Of course we had to stop for lunch, a quick clothing change and let us not forget that Linda re-painted my nails for every video, morning, noon and night!
I have never been so excited to here “That’s a Wrap!!” on that final day of taping. We were so exhausted we were lucky to remember our own names. Still the promo shots had to be done so a few quick clothing changes, some giggles and some smiles, and some fun super star poses close ups and I was sure we were done!
Hurry I have a leg cramp and I'm falling!!!
I'm too cool for my own good here but just couldn't find the strength to smile.

 But just when I thought we were done... it was on to all the final last minute details. We spent an entire day laying out the look of the video covers, front and back, choosing the right fonts for the headers, the perfect picture for the cover and the final details and descriptions on the back. Then it was onto the business stuff... when and how the videos would be released the cost of the finished product based on the length of each completed video, the brilliant idea to release a “limited edition” case that would include all 6 videos at a special pre order price... 

Then it was time for Jon and me to pack everything up and make the 37 hour drive home (I may have slept the whole time while Jon drove). Todd and Rick got right to work editing the footage and completing the cases, and creating the really cool intro we wanted. After all, you don’t think I’d do videos with out a really cool intro do you?
Now as Jon works on adding the video to our site, that is ready to be launched  and Todd and Rick complete the editing, I am working on the next group of video’s scheduled to be taped this July. I can’t wait to see what awesome nail designs Linda comes up with. All in all it was an awesome experience, but one that I would never have managed to get through with out the awesome help of Jon, Todd, Rick and Linda. If you have ever thought of creating your own videos to share and are looking for that perfect crew like I was, I highly recommend that you contact Todd Fletcher at at Crazy Horse Productions Studios. Although they specialize in quilting they offer a full range of video opportunities. I hope this blog inspires you to take the next leap through that open door of success and happy filming... And Remember...Smile there are real people on the other side of the camera and they are all watching you!!!

I would like to take this blog space to thank all my students that encouraged me to take this step and get these videos done. I would also like to thank Linda V. Taylor, Rick Taylor and Todd Fletcher at Crazy Horse Production Studio for making this such an awesome experience. Also, although it goes with out saying... I would like to thank Jon Vorich for arranging the opening of that door of opportunity, and handling all the business stuff, with out him the creative side of my brain would only have dreamed of creating a video to share rather then actually making it happen.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Call it what you will... Doodle, ZenDoodle, Zentangle, ZenSuedle... it is still the art of finding your Zen through design and texture... like I always say’ “a rose by any other name would still have thorns to protect its beauty”. What ever medium you use to channel your Zen Designs, it is still a work of art to be inspired by. I have been an additive doodler my entire life. It was the number one reason I was asked to leave class as a child and now as an adult it is the way I unwind at the end of a long day, rediscover my lost creative mojo, or pass the time during an endless meeting. My doodling has lead to countless quilting and embroidery designs, stencils, fabric line set to be released in May2012 and has even been tattooed on other people’s body parts. I have been known to doodle on any scrap of paper I can find, on my jeans, my shoes, the wall by the phone in the kitchen... if it’s in reach it can be doodled on. This article is meant to inspire you to create texture and designs regardless of the medium you choice.
Now don’t get me wrong I know the difference between art and doodling. What you need to understand is that it all starts with a doodle, a scribble, a movement created with a pen, a paint brush, or whatever your medium choice might be. In the last 11 years my simplest doodles have been used to create countless quilting designs, edge to edge panto’s, embroidery designs, countless quilts, wall murals, quilting idea books, stencils and fabric lines. Oh and let’s not forget that my designs have also been inked for all time onto peoples skin in the form of tattoo’s... ooch!        

From This:
To This: 
There are as many different ways to design as there are designers or uses for the designs. I would like to share my process with you in hopes that it may inspire you to take your raw doodles to the next level, what ever that may be. I doodle on everything, all the time, then at night when I am in my hotel room or in my limited spare time at home, I take all my doodles and sketches and lay them all out on a large table in front of me. I then start pulling design concepts that I think could go together, be revamped, or just played with until I like the end result. Some of my starter designs get filed away for future play and others get pulled from the pile and re-drawn.
I like to work with different sizes of sketch paper, a large light box, black sharpie markers ranging from ultra fine to thick and a full range of eye glasses to help magnify small areas so my eyes do not get strained. I also have a full array of acrylic shapes in every size imaginable. Most, well almost all of my shapes have been purchased from Quilters Rule. I will include a link at the end of the article for those of you who would like to check out there on line site. I also keep my stencils, and a few scrap booking border tools close at hand. Although most of my designs are free form drawings I use the tools listed above to create specific shape spaces to fill in and repeat.
When I am happy with the finished design I then start pulling variations or sections of the design to create repeats, background fillers, and complementary designs so the finished pieces can be used together to create a full line of fabric or on there own for other projects, such as stencils or embroidery and quilt designs. I like to have at least five pieces that go together. I then take them to my graphics guy and have the designs scanned to be sent to my computer and photo copied at least three times so I came colour them in. Be sure that the copies are done on good paper or your colour medium will bleed when you start to apply it to the copies.

What ever your style, what ever medium you work in, how ever you choose to tackle the creative process, my best advice to you is that you enjoy that process from start to finish. I design and create for me first and foremost; I never tackle a project with the end result in mind. This allows me to be free formed and have fun without bending to the end need for the doodle. When I feel the project is complete and I am happy with it I then decide how I will present it and it’s end purpose.
Well I hope I have inspired you to look at your doodles in a whole new way. A very awesome quilting instructor, Linda Taylor, once told me "let your quilting reflect who you are inside", and this is my advice to you... "let your works of art reflect who you are and never second guess your ability to create something awesome!"

A Special thanks to my good friend Dusty for sharing his tattoo's of my art work. To see Dusty's awesome quilting and design work go to To view all the wonderful templates from my good friends at Quilter's Rule please visit

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Let's Get Started...

I thought I should start my Blog with some insight on how I ended up where I am today... It all started with a trip to a local quilt shop, Jillybean's Pride, in Oakville, Ontario Canada. I was of course picking out new fabric I had to have and thread to add to my collection, when I noticed the most AWESOME Quilt I had ever seen. I can't tell you what blocks the quilt had or even what colour it was, but the quilting on it was life changing for me. The texture, the designs, I was lost in the moment. I found out that day that the quilt had been quilted by a lady named Carol Cunningham from the Quilt Batt, on her longarm! I had no idea what a longarm was at the time, but I knew I had to have one. Later that day I ordered my first longarm sight unseen, over the phone! I, of course, do not suggest that this is how you choose your first longarm, but looking back on my last 11 years it was the right call for me. The machine arrived at my house on Dec 22nd 2001 and after punching holes in the wall of my dinning room, to make it fit, I had a wonderful 14 foot table in my 14 foot room. Although I had no idea how to turn it on I knew that with hard work I could have a nice little stay at home job... it was a 5 year plan to start with. I would learn how to turn it on, take in a few client quilts and earn a little money while staying at home with my three children. I had no limits to what I thought this magical machine could do and no one to tell me the do's and don't so I just started doing what ever I wanted and that magical longarm became my design tool. Before I knew it I had a 6 month waiting list and more quilts on my shelf then I knew what to do with, so I bought 2 more longarms to help get the work done quicker and I was in business.
In 2002 this quilt hung in a both at Houston. It was my first Thread Art Quilt and was adapted from Rosemary Mekhan's applique design,from her Woodlands Garden Patterns. The quilt was noticed by some big wiggs in the longarm industry and before I knew what was happening... I was teaching that year at MQS one of the largest longarm shows in the States. My 5 year, stay at home little business idea took on a whole new dirrection. It has been a world wind from there. Trips to Germany, France, England, all across the US and Canada teaching, lecturing, designing for all things quilting. I've have 2 books published, appeared on Quilting shows, in magazines and turned my weekend hobby into a thriving business, that takes me around the globe about 9 months out of the year. I have made new friends, met thousands of wonderful people, won some ribbons, had countless opportunities, all because of my passion for creating and a simple phone call, I thought it might be nice to include some of my work before fast forwarding to today... Kalidescope Of Threads
Birds Of A Feather
Another Sleepless Night
Alexis Winter Garden
Artistic Threads
Thread Art Tapestry
Bitter Sweet Revenge- Front
Bitter Sweet Revenge- Back
All Dressed Up With No Place To Go
Dare To Be Different
This year we hope to launch our new web site , distribute our new fabric line, share our new line of thread by YLI, offer my new training videos (we start filming in two weeks, right after a trip to Denver) and share our travels and experiences along the way... So I hope you enjoyed my intro to my blog... Tell a friend... share the link... and I'll catch you on the flip side of somewhere else... I Remain Crazy For All Things Inspiring...Or Maybe Just Plain Crazy... Sue Patten