Friday, July 31, 2009

beading and quilting projects

this project is moving right along

the "pillars" on each side are all stitched with transparent bugle beads, and the "marble" blocks on the right hand side are all stitched with white size 11 seed beads with gray size 15 seed beads as the "grout"

next up is the marble and grout on the left side

considering it took me about 3 years after the idea to actually do some work on it, it's coming right along

and I'm starting to think about the next building that I'll do which will probably be the red brick store building

and I'm actually back to working on the project that started the whole cutting of rubber stamps madness

there at the top of the picture is the photo of the actual leaf that this is based on

and at the bottom is the completed appliqued square

oh yes, around the edges are the stamped images from the leaf stamps that were the first ones that I cut

the next step on this project is to do the embroidery around the leaf stamping --- I'm planning to use a pale gold rayon embroidery thread

this is the first of three leaf blocks that I plan to set together on point one above the other -- the veining in the leaf will be done when I do the quilting after I get the whole thing put together

I had nearly forgotten about this project until I was looking at all the rubber stamps I had cut recently and "rediscovered" the leaf stamps --- Duh!

meantime, work on the web site continues --- new "slick" lettering graphics have been loaded up, and today I hope to get the new home page done

time to get to it!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

one more square

seems I'm in the "slogging along" stage of most of the projects I'm working on ----- BLEAH!

but I did finish this afghan square last night

we made a trip to Walmart yesterday to get dog food and pick up some other household necessities, and it pretty much wiped me out for the day

spent some time working on new graphics for the web site --- decided that the ones we had were just too "fussy", so I'm creating new ones that have a cleaner look

the top graphic is the old one

the bottom one is the new one

now I'm working on changing all of the other lettered "buttons" for the site too

it's sort of tedious, but it is something I can do while I'm sitting in my recliner with my computer in my lap


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

getting the right tools

you may recall that I was having issues with using my steel knitting needles to knit the silk yarn I recently got to do some lace knitting with

after doing some research and inquiring of several experts, it was clear that what I needed was some hard finished wood needles --- something with a bit more "grab" than the steel, but not too much grab

I looked at several different kinds of wood needles -- including some absolutely amazing pairs made of rosewood and ebony -- but I just can't justify spending $30 for a pair of knitting needles that I won't be using a lot more than I think I'll be using these

So I compromised and ordered these really nice ones for a lot less than $30 --- now I just have to wait for them to arrive in the mail and I can start on the lace project.

Yesterday I spent some time working on the balloon beadwork -- the beading band for inside the frame actually fits (oh yeah!) and now I have it all marked for where each of the balloons gets attached --- and I think I've figured out how to attach them too --- just need to get some clear thread and try out my theory

Just as I suspected before I had my surgery, it hasn't even been two weeks yet and I'm "choppin' at the bit" to be able to do stuff --- I guess I really hadn't realized how many times I actually went up and down the stairs either to the bedrooms upstairs or to the basement where my desktop computer, photo set up and a lot of supplies are stashed. Now I'm having to carefully plan out each day which direction I'm going to go --- upstairs to take a shower, get clean clothes, etc., or on alternate days downstairs to use computer stuff, get supplies for a project. etc. Makes me also realize that the next house needs to be all on one level!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Out of Africa stitching series (& other projects)

It's all complete except for the wood rod that will have the cord for hanging

(the DH is doing staining and varnishing on that this week)

I'm am really pleased with how this came out, and excited about the idea of doing some more things on this theme

Out of Africa seems like the appropriate title for this series of mixed media pieces

Aside from this piece and the zebras (which I'll talk about more in a minute) I'm thinking about doing an elephant and maybe a rhino

We'll see how that all goes

the new zebra stamp is finally finished

you may recall that while I was in California I had cut two zebras, but instead of them facing each other as I intended, they both faced the same way (ok, I'm directionally challenged!)

So, now that I've recovered enough to sit in a hard chair for a while I decided to try again

and here is the very first print of the newly cut stamp


this first print is going into the mail this week to my friend in California for her to play with

and so I wanted to figure out a way to put the zebra that faces the other way into the original stamping I had do, but how to do it?

Here is what the original stamp looked like

Two zebras facing the same way and on a piece of fabric that does not have enough space for the third one at either end

So my idea was to use some freezer paper over part of the front and the back of the zebras that had already been stamped

then I printed the new stamp over the freezer paper to add the third zebra to the print

after the paint dried, I peeled away the freezer paper

it's neat!

there are now three zebras in the picture and they face in different ways

so, next I wanted to create a picture from them

Then I decided that I wanted to put a blue sky behind the zebras, so I cut another piece of freezer paper and ironed it over the zebras and the bottom edge of the fabric so I could use a big sea sponge to create a blue sky

and here it is after I used Copic markers to add "rocks and grasses" at the bottom of the fabric.

So, now I will be using threads and beads to embellish this piece (like doing turkey work along the neck of each zebra to create a 3 dimensional mane on each one)

Guess this will be #2 in the "Out of Africa" series!

since I'm spending a lot of time sitting as I recover, I'm getting a lot of other work done too

this is the 5th afghan square completed and I've started a 6th one (with a lot of bright orange in it)

I'm finally feeling well enough to go back to quilting on the piece I'm making as a Christmas gift, have finished the sleeves and the back of the sweater I'm working on and I'm making good progress on the beading project

This week I'm still not allowed to drive or go up and down stairs more than once a day, so I need to plan my trips carefully (do I need to shower more than I need to do a load of laundry, for instance) --- a two story house with the washer in the basement is not real convenient right now!

But I'm hoping to get a lot of projects done!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

and another square

this makes four since last week --- not bad

When my sister was here over the weekend, she brought along some very cool yarn to share, so this square is made with one of those yarns --- always nice to have new stuff to work with

I've been trying to start the lace work with the silk yarn I bought while I was in California, but so far it's been nothing but frustration. I'm thinking that like most things that are new I just haven't quite figured it out yet.

There has been good progress made on both the beading project and the giraffe piece (even though I picked out the original binding on the giraffe piece to change it!)

Yesterday I was feeling pretty good, so I got the new zebra stamp cut too ---- I hope to get him mounted so I can use the stamp soon.

time to get to it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh look, real projects!

I'm actually beginning to work on things!

This is the beading piece I had gotten all set up a week or so ago, and now I'm working on the beading.

I used a piece of sort of irridesdant fabric over that entire center part for the old ripply glass that was in the original building --- notice you can read the "BANK" lettering on the door.

Once I finish the parts around the door I will be using even smaller beads to do an "X" through each of the rectangular "windows" to look like the original metal work on the front of this building.

(And as soon as I'm allowed to go up and down stairs as much as I want I'll scan the original photo so you can see the bead work and the "real thing" side by side)

Meantime I'm working on the binding around the little giraffe wall hanging, and I've just started shaping the armholes on the back of the the sweater I'm knitting.

slowly getting better

Monday, July 20, 2009

what I've done so far while recovering

not much actually, but I think I'm excused

Since I had my surgery on Friday morning I have worked on a sweater, knit these three afghan squares for charity and just laid around and tried to not do all the stuff that it's just second nature for me to just get up and do

So perhaps today my sister (who has been here since Saturday to help me out) and I will work on some family history too

stay tuned, by the end of the week there might be some real work done

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Something else to share

Somehow in all the commotion since we returned from California, I have neglected to post this treasure I got while I was on vacation.

This is a ball of 100% silk yarn --- 1100 yards! --- of hand painted soft fine wonderfulness

And such a lovely colorway --- soft aquas to almost white ---- mmmmmmmmm!

And so, you're thinking, "what are you doing with that?"

Well, after my experiment with knitting lace on a bigger scale, I'm planning to do lace more in the weight that lace is meant to be with this loveliness.

Yesterday I finished the beading of the frame liner for the Carried Away project -- hurrah!!

So today I'm doing last minute things --- laundry, cleaning and moving my printer upstairs to hook up to my laptop for using the next couple of weeks while my stair mobility is limited (surgery is one thing, but don't ask me to do without my computer for that long!!!)

I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Actual studio work

Along with all the getting ready for surgery house preparations, I actually have taken some time this week to work on some projects.

This is what I'm refering to as the "frame band" for the balloon piece. I still have about 3 inches of flat straight single color (read BORING here) peyote stitch to do to finish this up before I can fit it in the frame and zip it together.

Then I'll just have to figure out how to attach the balloons

All the rest of this project is ready for the contructions stage, so at least "on paper" it should be easy from here --- heh, right ---

I have finished doing the beading and embroidery and marker embellishment on the little giraffe stamp.

Borders have been added on the left side and at the bottom (the one at the bottom is a fabric I created by doing applique of shapes in different colors over the base fabric)

This has now been pin basted and the detail quilting has begun --- in orange thread of course.

Once the quilting is done I'll need to figure out what sort of hanging device I'm going to add to this. Right now I'm considering loops and a rod decorated with some beads and fringe. We'll see how that goes.

Nice to have a small quilting project to work on

(and, by the way, that unidentified big quilting project I'm working on has also been pin basted so I can start the quilting on it)

and here we have the first of the Kansas architecture pieces -- The Bank

notice that the top has been inked in with a blue color

this piece is intended to be mixed media, so I decided that the blue marker made a good "sky" backdrop for the bank building

The center of this will have a piece of sort of irridescant fabric for the glass with rows of size 15 seed beads to serve as the "frames" of the glass.

and I'm planning to use bugle beads vertically with seeds horizontally for the "pillars" on each side

It should be interesting, and I'm sure will change as it moves along

time to get busy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

just a little side trip

over the weekend we made a quick trip to our daughter's house to help out with a little home repair project

since the current knitting I'm working on is for her, I couldn't really work on it while we were there

so, here are two afghan squares all ready to be shipped off --- I'm thinking I may put the supplies to do a couple of these in my hospital bag, so I can work on them if I'm feeling up to it

meantime, I have been working on setting up to work on the first of the mixed media architectural pieces to be framed

I'll be doing the bank first

Progress pictures to come!

Friday, July 10, 2009

new projects

As you may recall, yesterday I was babbling abount needing to start on a new project to get jazzed up to finish some old ones.

I can report that I did, and I am.

Although actually these drawings have been resurrected from about two years ago when I originally thought about this project then couldn't figure out how to do anything with it.

So, now that I'm more seriously working on beaded pieces that go into frames, it seemed logical to pull this out and reconsider it.

The plan is to create 5 pieces as a series in frames. There are two that got me started on this idea in the first place --- that very first one that is the theatre and the last one that is a bank.

We'll see where this goes.

Meantime, I started doing the embellishment on the giraffe print last night, and it's looking good!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thinking about the "here after"

as in "what did I come in here after"?

I loved being on vacation --- I had a great time working on art projects with my friend. But now that we're home I find that I'm at the "boring" part of some bead work and the "are we ever going to finish this" part on a quilt.

And it's hot, which makes me want to just lay down on the tile floor under the ceiling fan with the dog and do nothing whatsoever.

Add to that the fact that next Friday I'm having surgery so I'm trying to put the house in order so it won't make me totally crazy while I'm recovering and can't just go fix whatever is bugging me.


So, I need a new project to get me jazzed up enough to work on stuff.

While I was in California someone suggested it would be cool to make a lion out of beads (have you noticed there have been a series of African animals on the scene of late here?).

So I'm thinking about lions and whole new ways to make animals -- as in doing the skeleton out of wire then covering it with batting and unbleached muslin then working beads over the entire thing. (Wow, where did THAT idea come from).

and then of course there is that series of architectural pieces to put in frames that I was thinking about before we left

and the piecing of a suitable border to go around the giraffe print

but I digress -- Oh yeah, that seems to be the problem!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Blocking --- It's not just mental

Most of what I usually knit does not require "blocking"

Part of that is because I usually am using "un-natural" fibers -- acrylics, polyesters -- that do not require blocking, just a run through the washer and dryer and it's done

This project, however, is a whole other critter

This yarn is made of bamboo. I got it in the sale bin during a recent visit to one of my favorite yarn shops.

There were exactly two of the little 82 yard balls of this in the same color (and two of another sort of gray color which I did not like). And the price was low enough that I just couldn't resist getting some to play with.

What I did not expect was that it would work up so neatly

I had decided that I wanted to try the lace technique in a larger format so I could actually see (quickly) what I was doing. This stuff was great for that.

And now I have another finished project --- or I will just as soon as it drys.

Who knew blocking would be so much fun?

Monday, July 06, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation

Remember those compositions we had to write the first day back to school?

I've decided that the teachers were just trying to get a bit more prep time, so they gave us a "make work" project. (I also hated those compositions because we never did anything all that exciting over summer vacation when I was a kid --- hours and hours of laying around in a hot house reading and the occasional camping trip)

Anyway, since I'm talking about my vacation in this post (and the last one), I thought I'd share some things with you.

I had the best of intentions (and we all know where those lead!) to do actual physical journal pages with drawings, etc.

I did exactly ONE of them, and here it is.

Actually I learned some really important things from this idea and my failure to complete it:

1. I'm better with a camera and a computer keyboard than I am with a notebook and a box of pencils --- my drawing skills are just not up to the task of creating (to my satisfaction) some of the complex ideas I wanted to convey.

2. When I'm on vacation I don't spend a lot of time reflecting --- I spend time observing and doing --- and reflecting time is when I do journal (or blog) work.

3. It's okay that I didn't get all that drawing done because I had a great time, did some wonderful art projects and have some fun stories to share.

Odd things seen on the road #1: Windmill Farms

In the two and a half years since we last drove to California, a lot of windmills have sprung up.

These are not the old multi-blade water pump for the stock tank sort of windmills.

No, we're talking about those tri-blade high tech wonders that are becoming a part of our nation's power grid.

I for one find them fascinating --- and I'm happy to see them showing up on the top of hills that are otherwise covered with sagebrush in areas (like Wyoming!) where the wind seems to never stop blowing.

For years there has been a place called Altamont Pass in northern California where one of the oldest windmill farms in the country was. We drove over Altamont specifically to see if those windmills were being upgraded to the new ones. They are --- and they have added many, many more windmills too.

Odd things seen on the road #2: Dairy Cows and Moose

No, I'm not kidding.

When you drive Interstate Highway 80 (the most direct way to get from where we started to where we wanted to go), and go out of Wyoming into Utah, you go down a sort of narrow valley that has a lot of smaller family farms.

In the past I have seen fields with sheep, cattle and horses all together.

This year's trip was a whole new adventure.

As we're slowly crawling along in traffic (it's road construction time), I looked over into the field and saw 6 dairy cows (you know, the black and white ones like on the California Cheese commercials) RUNNING across the field.

I've seen a lot of dairy cows, but I can't remember any other time I've seen them running anywhere. It was puzzling. What were they running from?

But wait, there in the field ahead of them is another animal --- a female MOOSE! They were chasing the moose out of their field!!

What a hoot!

Odd things seen on the road #3: Urban Transportation?

In same areas along the highway, the road runs parallel with streets in little towns along the way.

As I looked out in one area I saw what must pass for urban transportation for one guy at least.

He was riding his horse, with his mule in tow and two dogs running along side right down the middle of the paved street into town.

I wonder if he was headed to Walmart ---

Odd things seen on the road #4: Air Travel?

This seemed to be the trip for oddities of machinery intended for air travel.

#1: Two helicopters without their rotors on trailers behind pick up trucks --- one seen on the way out to California, one on the way back.

#2: A little yellow airplane suddenly appearing from behind a burm that ran along the highway apparently taking off from a little runway that we couldn't see.

#3: Crop dusting with a small bi-wing plane in the Central Valley of California.

#4: A small plane flying at about 10 feet off the ground parallel with the road across the salt desert.

Odd things seen on the road #5: Dust Devil

We've watched dust devils from the car for years as we've driven back and forth to California.

They always look like little dirt tornados, kicking up dust and then disappearing.

This was the first time that we had actually felt the impact of one of them.

As we were driving along I spotted one out in a field ahead of us. Because of the speed and direction of both our van and the dust devil, we had the experience of driving through it --- or it running over us.

After that brief and somewhat scary experience I can tell you that I think those folks that chase after full blown tornados are nuts!

Odd things seen on the road #6: Back in Time

As we were coming home we saw two fully restored Model T Fords headed the other way.

It was pretty amazing to see them rolling along --- although not at 75 miles an hour --- in with the other vehicles.

Makes me think of a lyric from the musical Ragtime:

See my people?
Well, here's my theory
Of what this country
Is moving toward.
Every worker
A cog in motion.
Well, that's the notion of Henry Ford!
One man tightens
And one man ratchets
And one man reaches
To pull one cord.
Car keeps moving
In one direction.
A genuflection to Henry Ford!

(I have some thoughts about this politically as well, but we won't go there on this blog!)

Odd things seen on the road #7: Awesome Animals

As on every trip, I notice animals. Here then is a sampling:

1. A praire dog sitting on the edge of the highway as if he were counting cars as they went by.

2. Antelope in the fields with the cattle. (Unlike the dairy cows and the moose, the cattle didn't seem to mind)

3. Deer -- but none of them alive. I can't remember ever seeing so many dead deer along the highway.

4. Racoons in any state don't appear to explode on impact --- it must be the slick fur.

5. The last day of our trip we went up into the Colorado mountains with our daughter and son-in-law. On the way back we saw 3 elk in a little meadow by the side of the road. The bull elk was amazing --- the most enormous rack, and all in velvet still --- such an amazing creature.

So, just what did you do on your vacation?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Catching Up

I'm back!

For the first time in a very long time we actually spent two weeks on vacation!! Weird ---

As we have done shows and traveled for those in the past few years, our "vacations" have usually consisted of an extra day after a show to visit a place we've not seen before or to visit briefly with friends.

This year, since I will not be doing any shows that I'll be traveling to, and because a dear friend was celebrating her 80th birthday, we made a trip to California.

The point of the trip was that she and I got to "PLAY"!

In this post I'm going to talk about about the projects that I've worked on the past two weeks, then in another post in the next couple of days, I'll talk about our travel "adventures".

Project #1: The Angels
You may remember this project from a while back.

Even though in general I was pleased with the way it came out, I have long maintained that doing faces, especially human like faces, in any medium is not my strongest suite. This piece was no exception, so I took it and the fabric markers I had originally used on it with me, hoping for some help with it.

The suggested fix? Darker markers to do the shading/highlighting of the eyes, nose and mouth and under the chins.

The result I think is much better.

Project #2: Rubber Stamping
That we should be messing with rubber stamps at all is sort of funny as neither of us have ever been all that into the whole rubber stamping craze, but when we recently got involved with cutting rubber stamps from our own drawings, we got a lot more interested!

These are the pair of zebras that I cut and the first stamps of each of them.

There's only one problem with this -- my original plan was to have two zebras that would FACE each other --- except I got the transfer to the rubber wrong, and so both of them face the same way ---- Pfffttt!!

Okay, that means that I need to cut one more, but I'll have to get another sheet of the rubber stuff to cut first.

Project #3: Rubber Stamping and a Painting Technique Lesson
You probably remember that I've been sort of giraffe crazy of late, and that has spilled over into this project too.

There at the top is the giraffe rubber stamp, and underneath is the stamp with the embellishment of an added tail and mane that are drawn on with a fabric marker.

Because my friend has taken all those classes in painting techniques that come along with a BA in Fine Art she gave me a techniques lesson on using various sea sponges to create the tree and the ground beneath the giraffe.

My plan next is to use thread and beads to further embellish this and to create something that can be hung on the wall from it.

And yes, I'm thinking about something that will involve even more stamped animals.

Project #4: Dye Workshop
Ok, perhaps we should have labeled this "playing with dirty soap"

This project involved squirting dyes into a pan of shaving cream to form patterns then laying the fabric over the pan to take up the colors and patterns -- sort of like you do with marbling techniques on paper.

After that you pick up the fabric and let it dry for about 24 hours before you wash out the shaving cream and residual dye.

And these are my pieces from the project.

My plan is to use them as parts of more stamping/embellishing projects in the future

The Shopping Spree
This was not a trip where I did a whole lot of shopping for anything.

I did get the chance to go into a quilt store in San Jose while we were there and picked up a piece of fabric for a wall hanging we are working on that is titled Breakfast on the Hoof.

The "cow print" fabric was just too cute to resist especially since they were having a sale.

And here's the next question --- which is more useful, the purchase or the bag?

Since I work with lots of media, the bag will be just as good to have as the fabric!

A Project Complete!
One of the things I can do quite well while riding for hours in a car is knit.

While we were traveling I completed the last of the mittens for this year's Mittnz challenge.

I'll be sending along my picture this week.

Since those were finished by the middle of the second day out, I started working on this year's sweater project. Because sleeves are usually the last pieces I knit and I usually dread them if they are just plain sleeves, I decided to knit those first this time. And I'm now within 10 rows of having both sleeves complete.

And there have been some other knitting experiments which I will be sharing in the next few days, incuding the purchase of some absolutely amazing silk yarn.

And so there we are.

I'm back, I played, and now there is a ton of laundry to do ---- more soon!