Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jean Wells Keenen visits Lopez-II

As I was sharing with you in my last postI have admired Jean Wells Keenan's work for years. Finally, an opportunity to take a class without my having to drive that long distance from northwest Washington to Sisters, Oregon. Our small island quilt shop brought her to Lopez!

This is Part II about the class that just took place here in Lopez island June 2nd and 3rd.  I'll post names of the participants under the corresponding photo once I get my hands on a class list.


They are all about us. Not only does Jean tear pages and images from magazines, she takes a lot of her own photos and zeroes in on potential design images found within.

Jean encouraged us to keep a file folder of inspirational photos and to then sketch certain elements that intrigued us into our own sketch books.

above - selection from Jean's inspiration file 

Another Class Challenge

Another limitation we had with the fabric Jean gave us in class: we were supposed to try to get nine blocks out of those six 5"x44" strips. This meant you had to think ahead and plan a little. An interesting challenge....don't know if I am going to make it. This is all I have left and I've made only FIVE blocks so far!!

Maybe I made by first four blocks too big?  Well, nothing wrong with really small blocks! It will just make the final layout more challengeing, right?

GOOD Teachers Know How to Encourage while Critiquing

Another wonderful part of taking a class is what you learn as the instructor goes around the room discussing student's work in progress with each student, one at a time.

We love to tease heather about her love of purple!

(above) Debby discusses the possible choices for background fabric for her blocks
and how each effects the over-all color impression of the individual blocks as well as the whole piece.

Anne Dawson (below), our co-organizer and host for the weekend workshop, explains her color choices and responses to the challenges of the study blocks.

Edi Blomberg (below) discusses why she feels black will work better than a dark navy as her background piece.

Mary takes a good look at the possibility of adding black.

Pat, my table-mate. I showed you some close-ups of her blocks in my first post.

(above) Jean asks Karen Alexander a question about her process.

I rather feel like I am learning to sew all over again. It has been so long since I used my machine. Can't quite get those seams to press flat yet!

We are so fortunate to have the use of the restored one room school house at Port Stanley on Lopez.

Discussing Finishing Details

One of Jean's more recent pieces. 
The machine quilting is fascinating.

Some of Jeans' Sample Pieces

As I photographed some of the unfinished samples Jean brought, I didn't want to take anyone away from their work by asking them to hold the pieces up. So I just layered them one on top of the other since there was very little space left to spread anything out.  When I downloaded the photos later and saw what the overlaying had "created", I was intrigued.

The first overlay.

The 2nd overlay.

The 3rd overlay.

Someone saw me struggling to photograph this one and offered to hold it up. I think it is Nancy Caleshu.

The public began to show up about 2 pm to see our work in progress. Barbara Gonce (above) chats with Jean Wells.

My work in progress...

I think this is my favorite block of those I have made so far.

A Potpourri of Jean's work follows

Starting my own idea and sketch book

Below are examples from my own file folder. 

Now that I have taken Jean's class, I feel I feel I have a better handle on what I could do with the one below.

So here is my preliminary sketch...


  1. Looks like an amazing workshop. I got the opportunity to see many of these quilts when she was our guest at Guild. They are so beautiful in person. Love all the color going on. I'm looking at a class on Lopez, any suggestions on accomodations?

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Sharon. Can't say enough god things about Jean as a teacher!

      For accommodations on Lopez, I recommend you check out all the links thru the Chamber of Commerce here

      This is one cabin I have personally reneted for family when we have an extended family reunion.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful blog. So good to see how it all came together and how your eye now looks at shapes.

    1. It is pretty amazing, Dorothy, how differently I "see" after an intense class like this. Thanks for taking the time to read my posts!

  3. Lucky you..! Wish she would come to Charlotte. For her to come to your island is very wonderful.

    1. Just read your post about the zipper challenge on that little bag you were making. The drawstring solution was perfect! It looks fabulous now.

  4. oh my how I would love to attend a workshop like this
    I have bought her books for many years and loved watching her change and grow into the quilt maker she is today. I have been reading her book, Intuitive color and design again this week...its an incredibly inspiring book to me right now
    thanks for this post I will be back over and over again to look at the pictures !

    1. Kathie, Though you could obviously just follow here book and make such a quilt, you would miss experiencing her personally. Also, I find the camaraderie of a class inspiring, though I don't take classes often. Just so many other wonderful things fill up my hours and days.

  5. Looks like you had a lot of fun and I think you are off to a great start. The pics are very inspiring, thanks for sharing.

  6. Jean Wells was my very first quilt teacher. She was an awesome teacher and I feel very fortunate to have learned under her guiding eye. This looks like an awesome class!

  7. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Lori. It was so fascinating! But it seems to take a schedule class for me to get anything done. Have you taken any classes from Jean in recent years?