Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let the Garden Grow

we're in a drought here

starting tomorrow morning we will be on water restrictions 

we had decided a couple of weeks ago that we would not plant a garden this year

but that means there is a large garden area that will pretty much just lay fallow over the summer

which may not be all that attractive in terms of marketing the house

yesterday when we did some work in the yard, I mentioned to the DH that it would be cool to create some large wood flowers (sort of like the sunflowers I have in another part of the yard) to "plant" up there to at least create some color

later in the day while I was at the sewing machine, he cut these out of some scrap lumber that he had in the garage


we need to get some narrow lumber to use as "stems", and there will be more cutting and painting --- and we'll probably paint some of the little bird houses he built too and add them to the garden area

this should be fun!
 this is what I was working on at the sewing machine

the new technique that I was considering worked great

I took a sheet of soluble stabilizer and used a Sharpie marker to draw right on it the pattern I wanted to stitch for the the last feather

I was a little worried that either the Sharpie marker would bleed or the soluble part of the stabilizer wouldn't work properly, but all such concerns have been banished now --- it worked great!

now I need to do some quilting in the top corners that are not stitched to finish the "test" for what I will be doing on the actual quilt

meantime, the applique work on the actual piece is going well --- 

before I start the quilting on this piece I will need another package of that stabilizer, but I'm feeling pretty good about this now

(which of course means my brain is already starting to design the NEXT project!)

that feels a lot better

the big oval didn't work in the place I first tried to use it, but in the end I'm glad I had it all bezeled and available to use

once it was added, I went right back to the "chain" pieces, and those are almost done too

this piece will probably be finished either today or tomorrow -- still a couple of days ahead of the deadline entering it in the challenge

(now, which of the two projects I have designed in the meantime will I start next)

a while back, my mother gave me some buttons

a whole lot of buttons that my grandmother had collected over the years

yesterday I went through the tins and found this matched set -- the perfect color, size and number to put on the sweater I have just finished knitting for the DH

I laid them out on the sweater so he could let me know if he liked them -- and he did!

last night I got both seams of the sleeves stitched shut and one sleeve set in -- another project that is very close to being finished!

(heh, yeah, and I've got the next knitting project already waiting in the wings)

yesterday was my birthday

for the first time in a long time, it was not accompanied by a week or more of internal doubting about rather or not I'm doing anything worth while

I can say that I think what I do from day to day IS worth while

I'm volunteering my time to a couple of organizations that promote things that I believe in

I'm making art on my own terms

most importantly, I've quit beating myself up for having made mistakes in the past

as I was listening to a program recently, someone said that when we are in the middle of struggling with making ends meet, of going to a job every day that we hate but must keep because we carry the responsibility of feeding, housing and clothing someone else, we do not see what else is going on around us

I realize that I spent a number of years in that mind set, and I feel blessed that I have been able to leave it behind

words have power --- I'm being Brave

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The greeter of Spring

when I went out to get the paper this morning I saw the first robin of the season

for the past few years we've had robins nesting in the big trees at the back of our property, and I watch for them each year to signal the beginning of Spring

he sat calmly on the big rock and watched me put envelopes in the mail box for the postman and pick up the newspapers from the drive way


 I had declared the center of this finished and started working on the chain to the clasp there on the right hand of the picture

uh, but now that I'm looking at the photo, I really think it needs something else there on the left side

it is asymmetrical and is supposed to be but right now it doesn't look balanced to me

I'll be pulling out the remaining stone and crystal pieces and figuring out what need to go there

the sleeves for the sweater I've been knitting for the DH are complete!

today I can start sewing it together

and I'll need to take a trip to the button tins and find some suitable buttons for it

yippee --- getting much closer to being finished!

the stitching on this piece has begun

yesterday afternoon I drew the piece on the thin interfacing to prepare for the stitching

and last night I started at the top -- cutting out that first curved tree branch and started doing the needle turn applique

looking good!


Friday, March 29, 2013

happy dancin'

one of the things that I do every morning is check on my Etsy store

occasionally I get a pleasant surprise and something has sold from there

this morning I'll be shipping this lovely piece to Paris -- in FRANCE!

cool, very cool

seems like just when I'm getting discouraged about that store, something makes me more excited about it

I worked on this a bit more yesterday

after some experimenting, I did fill the biggest open space with some crystal bicone beads in a sort of random pattern, which makes that opening less glaring

the right hand side of this is finished and ready to me to start the chain that will go up to the back for the clasp

I hope to get more of the left hand side done today

 the stitching of the second feather is complete

and I used a different technique, so there is not nearly the messy thread issue on the back

so now I know that this technique is a better one than the first one I tried

for the third feather, I want to try one more technique that has more to do with how the quilting lines are marked

maybe today

work on the Visioning Project continues

the hand applique work on this piece is finished, so now I'll be trying to figure out what I will do to it next

lots of work to get done -- time to get that package to the post office!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

feather business

back at the sewing machine yesterday, and finished the stitching of the first feather

I used several different colors of thread for the second set of stitching -- and except for the yellow one, I like the color blend with the teal

 I am not as happy with the back of this however

I'm not real sure how to prevent this issue where the thread from the front has pulled through to the back at the ends where the thread is automatically "tied" by the machine

when I go back to this I plan to try a slightly different technique to see if I can improve the appearance of the back

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

back to studio work and taming clutter

now that we're back from our weekend adventure, I'm trying to get back into a routine that allows me time in the studio as well as working on some other needed projects

 yesterday afternoon I worked on this piece some more

I haven't yet decided if I'm going to put some smaller crystal bicone beads in that opening there on the right hand side


I do like the way this is coming together

back to the sewing machine to work on how to stitch the feather sample that is actually the colors I will use in the final project

it took a bit of thought about start and stop spots so it will actually make the feathers look like the proper layers

looking good

traveling means knitting in the car, and these two afghan squares are what I finished while I was gone

the box is slowly filling up

one of the things that a couple of the email lists I belong to have been discussing is taming clutter

I'm a 3rd generation pack rat, and I can tell you, keeping a clean house is not my strong suit

and the DH isn't good at it either (and yes, I believe everyone that lives in the household carries equal responsibility on this subject!)

so in the end I do what I HAVE to do to keep the living areas clean enough to be healthy, but spotless is not the watchword here

and there in is the problem

things get carried to the depths of the basement and there they remain 

all this, however, has got to go, and so I'm trying to break up the job into something I can handle in small pieces without feeling so overwhelmed that I want to just back up a dump truck and trash it all

yesterday I was doing laundry, so during the drying of the last load, I stayed down in the laundry room (about an hour's time) and worked on cleaning up of the side of the laundry room that also serves as the food storage area

now all the shelves are organized, the items that were past their usable dates have been discarded (there wasn't much -- just 3 bottles of home canned salsa that was made from our last garden in California in 2001 -- uh, time for those to go!), the "like items" arranged together, the empty canning jars put into boxes and put back on the shelves instead of sitting on the floor in front of the shelves

in a way this was the easy wall -- decisions about discarding out of date food are easy -- there are no attachments 

my plan is to move a quarter turn in the room and clean there next -- probably not today as we have major shopping to do -- but my current plan is to do that tomorrow

I'm focusing on that new present my daughter gave me!

who knew what would come next when I selected that word!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

serious kitchen project

at least the expression on Mr Cute's face says it's a serious project!

we were at my daughter's house over the weekend, and on Saturday evening there was an egg dyeing project

very serious business indeed!

so no doubt you're wondering what the whisk has to do with that

  and this would be the answer

somewhere my daughter saw this suggestion, and it worked really well --- put the hard boiled egg inside the wires of a pretty large whisk and use it for dipping the egg into the cups full of dye

no broken eggs and a lot less splashing of dye

and he's pretty adorable!

since I've been away from home since Thursday morning I've got lots to do to catch up -- time to get to it!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

odds and ends of the day

this morning's sunrise was interesting

after the snow all day yesterday this morning brought fog 

and this eerie looking view from the back windows

another great shot to possibly be made into a quilt some day

my daughter made this for me for my birthday

for right now it will sit next to my computer, and as soon as I get done rearranging my studio I'll be hanging it there


and after making the giant leap this weekend into a smart phone -- I'll be making use of that "Be Brave" advice!

I was able to get this beauty for just the small upgrade amount --- it will be good to have some time to fiddle with it before I want it to serve as navigator/alarm clock/camera/web browser when I go to a quilting conference out of town next month

whoo hoo!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's a "return"; and good news/bad news

I spent yesterday morning in a quilt meeting, working on the quilting of the trees piece

it's coming right along, but there just isn't much to show anyone on it

 later in the afternoon, as I was putting things away, the doorbell rang, and the UPS man handed me a box

What?  I wasn't expecting anything

this quilt was inside

I made this piece last summer and shipped it off for a competition on the East Coast, and pretty much forgot about it

uh, it's back!

its the second of the competitions by the same organization that I had entered -- this one is one that they send you a package of fabric (you pay for it of course) and you can only add one or two fabrics to it to create a piece that must be 30 inches square

they said complimentary things about my workmanship in the letter that accompanied it home

interesting, but now my work is going a different direction, so I don't think I'll be doing this again

 yesterday I had someone ask me about doing a custom bracelet with a sunflower theme

I did these drawings last night and sent them along to her this morning

less than half an hour later she said she's decided on something else

ok then

but I really like both of these designs, so I just may make them up anyway

I admit that I was a bit disappointed though -- an actual sale would be a good thing -- but her timeline would have made it a "RUSH" job which might have impacted some other projects, so maybe its a good thing after all

this evening I have a meeting of an art group --- and lots to get done before them, so I should get off the computer and get to it!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

finished and begun and an announcement

 pressed, bound, complete!

this piece served two purposes --- test run for the Hoffman Challenge, and the assignment for the Visioning Project regarding "scale"

(and the next sample that is a closer test for color for the Hoffman Challenge is ready for the machine work now)

apparently the triangles and the circles are still with us

the next assignment for the Visioning Project is one about balance and color

I did this little drawing last night, and when I get back into the studio I'll be pulling out the fabrics to create this piece

you may remember this piece, titled "Warning Sky",  that I did back in the fall

yesterday it went off as a donation for the Studio Art Quilt Associates fundraising auction

when that starts, I'll put up a link here so you can see how it does

when I did that piece I could sense that I wasn't done with that whole idea

I did this little sketch last night, but I'm now thinking that I might want to try a vertical version too

we'll see where that all goes

I'm pleased to say that this piece took second place in the challenge that I entered it in

after entering pieces almost every month for nearly two years, this was the first piece to even place

I'm thrilled

I consider it evidence that my word for the year is working --- being BRAVE --- last night in my reading I saw this quote:  "what would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?" -- yup, be brave!


Monday, March 18, 2013

ready for "framing"

the stitching is finished and this piece is now ready for some aggressive pressing and a binding

and I learned one more thing about what I want to do on the final piece by finishing this stitching -- I want to use a thread that is an exact match to the background on that piece, so the quilting other than the feather works just fades into the background

I've started the applique work on the sample I'm making with the actual fabrics, so I should get a chance to test that approach soon

the DH says I should title this one "Feather Duster"

 the making of bezels for all the crystals is finally done!

now the little pieces of "chain" need to be done so I can start putting this all together

the chief of security and head nude model for the studio is just hanging out -- sharing the footstool with the DH --- his feet are on top while she uses it for a pillow


time to get to work on the projects for the day

Sunday, March 17, 2013

stitching, cleaning

after doing a lot of stitching with the new rayon threads I'm feeling pretty good about how this is going to look

I will finish this up with more stitching all the way up each feather

meantime, I need to do a sample with the actual materials that I plan to use so I can see how that looks

this chair frame is ready for me to start doing the covering

the DH spent some time in the garage yesterday cleaning up and rearranging some things

so the chair needed to come in and I need to start working on it a little bit every day like I did when I upholstered the stool that goes with it


Saturday, March 16, 2013

new threads

in the end I never got into the studio yesterday afternoon, but I did get to the store and got this lovely array of rayon thread

I just love the glow!

and today I will get in there because we're not going to be out running around!

and I just wanted to share this photo, taken by Kristin Nicholas, and appeared on her blog  Getting Stitched on the Farm yesterday -- I've been reading Kristin's blog for a while now because I really enjoy her photos -- especially the ones of the lambs!

I love this photo -- and I see a quilt in there -- so I wrote to Kristin and got permission to use it as an inspiration point for a piece of art

(yeah, I know, another piece into the mix!)

this should be a lot of fun

Friday, March 15, 2013

peacock feathers evolving

exercising my word for the year -- being BRAVE -- doing machine quilting!

beginning with this smaller piece to test this out has been a good thing because it has allowed me to test the technique without so much fear

here we have the stitching of the very first feather

 and here some of the stitching has been done on the second feather

I really like the look of the stitching in those places where it intersects

in doing this I learned a couple of things that will be useful for the final project that I'm going to use this on

first, the size 12 thread (which is generally intended for use in hand stitching and is considerably heavier that the size 30 and size 50 that is normal to put through the sewing machine) runs through my machine (with the proper needle) without issue -- a good thing

second, I'd like to experiment with some rayon thread to add some "glow" factor to this stitching -- I have considered using metallic thread, but my experience with it is not pleasant, and I don't want to press my luck for this piece if I can get a suitable look with some rayon

I need to make a trip to the local quilt store that carries the thread I like to use and see what I can find

third, I think the rachis of the feather (that long "stem" that holds it all together) should be a slightly lighter color than what I have used here -- so in the big project, I think I'll be using the gold toned part of the challenge fabric (and that may mean I need to do one more little sample piece -- smaller even than this one)

when I was in elementary school, I colored and drew a lot

a bad experience in a high school art class convinced me that I wasn't any good at it

fast forward over 40 years --- over the past couple of years I've come full circle --- back to working on "art" projects

and increasingly in the last few months, being unafraid to put pencil to paper to create some representational image of something either imaginary or real

yesterday as I sat in my recliner working on the bead project, I glanced across the room and saw the dog asleep on the couch with her chin resting on the arm -- this little drawing was the result

I think I see a quilt in there

it will be fun to work on something totally different that what I usually do

today we need to run some errands, then I hope to get back into the studio and work on projects

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

two steps forward, one step back

just when I was getting pretty smug about how well this was going, I started having real issues with making the piece flow in a way that would actually be wearable

at issue was the big oval crystal that I had added even though the original drawing didn't include it

so I picked a lot of it apart and moved things around -- this arrangement will be much better (and closer to the original drawing)

uh, when in doubt, stick to the drawing!

it's ok -- I've already done another drawing to use that big oval crystal

this may end up being a pin --- not sure yet

this piece is a small block (12x12) where I'm testing out a design idea

right now this looks like long skinny handled spoons full of blue puppy paw pads

the question is how to proceed -- I want to do thread painting to turn these into what I actually want them to be, but the question is do I do that before it has a batt and backing or after

I need to do some research

this morning I need to go get dog food and some groceries for the people that live here -- time to get moving!

Monday, March 11, 2013

just a little project

not much to show you this morning

except this little project from the sewing machine

a while back my daughter bought me this most awesome heavy hooded sweat shirt

and I used it quite a bit

but I knew that I would use it even more if it had a zipper in it so it was easier to put on than pulling it over my head 

so I splurged and purchased a 24 inch red separating zipper about a week ago, then I went on line and found an instruction to do this

which wasn't as hard to do as it sounded in the instruction

ta da!

now all I need to do is pick up a long shoelace for the hood (don't ask, I don't know what happened to the string!)

I know this sweat shirt will get a lot more use now!!!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Things to do on a stormy day

yesterday was cold, windy, snowing (a little) and just not a day you wanted to go outside at all

fortunately, there were lots of projects at hand to be worked on

 the first of the (now) three pieces for the motion lesson of the Visioning Project  -- this one is titled "Mesmerized"

piece number two is titled "Dropped Ball" (with a "thank you" to Alison, who left the comment that gave me the idea for that title)

the third piece I created after I thought I was done with this lesson when someone pointed out that it would be interested to see what I could do by playing more with the triangles

this piece is titled "Follow the Arrow"

aside from the lesson on creating a feeling of motion with shapes, these are also the first of these lessons that I quilted on the machine, and I used the quilting to "echo" the shapes to emphasize the motion of each one

I'm pretty pleased with them

the quilting of the sky on the far left side of the trees piece is done --- there are still all of those aspen leaves to be quilted (I plan to outline each one and quilt in the veins of the leaves)

this is moving right along, but I still can only work on it for at most a couple of hours a day because I'm hand quilting it and the fingers on my left hand get too sore for me to do any more

this is moving along nicely

when I did the first drawing, I didn't have that big oval crystal, so that space in the drawing was two smaller round crystals 

I like that big oval one -- but I'm having some issues with creating the bezel for it -- I worked on that some yesterday, but have not yet figured out the exact adjustments from the round bezel to the oval one

it'll come I'm sure

here is the latest sketch of what to do with that round metal tag

yesterday I ordered some glass beads that are spike shaped to put into this 

yet another piece that is totally different than anything else I've worked on -- and if I can manage to get it done by the deadline in May, I may put it (and a couple other of my steam punk pieces) in a local exhibit

 I'd like to say a word or two here about the last few drawings that I've done for the jewelry pieces

in a recent issue of a jewelry magazine that the DH gets there was an advertisement for this newly available book on drawing for jewelers 

it's a hard bound book that was originally released in Europe (it's in that cool longer, narrower format that is the standard for papers there), and it's pages are high quality color that will stand up to being used over the long haul

when the DH saw the ad, he said "see if you can find this book and order it"

those new and improved drawings I've done lately are the result of reading (and some practice scribbling) from the first three chapters in this book


the phrase "I can't draw" is slowly being eradicated from my vocabulary!!