Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bells, Baths and Bidets

Several people have commented on the quilt that is shown on the right side of my blog so thought I would show you a larger photo and tell you the know that every good quilt has a story that goes along with it.......

In 1998, our family spent 10 days in Italy, including 3 days in Rome. When we first walked into our hotel we heard a Church bell ringing LOUDLY, so Michael and the kids both ran to the window to look out.....

This is what they saw.......this tower was extremely close to the hotel and right on our level......

As any good tourist does, the next stop in the hotel room was to check out the bathroom. This one interested us in several ways........

Michael noticed the curtainless shower, Brian and Jenny (then 12 and 11) noticed the Bidet (something they had not seen before) and I noticed the cool tile on the wall.....

Much to B&J's shame, I whipped out my tracing paper and made a tracing of this wonderfully designed tile.

After I got home, I graphed out the design and tried to figure out how to piece it with mostly straight lines. Here is the graphic that I finally used......

And here is the final project.......
It is a fun reminder of a great trip to Rome.

On a comic note, I have since contacted the hotel to see if the tiles were still in place and, if so, could they take a better photo and send to me. Needless to say, I have had no response from them, although I am sure that they talk about the crazy American lady!!!! We are spending a month in Rome in 2010, and I am planning a trip back to Hotel Miami and check it out for myself!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The joys of quilting with a group!!!

Even though I have been very remiss about writing on the blog, I have been fairly busy in the last week with quilting.

I am continuing to work on the Portugal Stairs quilt that I started 2 weeks ago. I had gotten stuck on it and knew that it needed "something", but I couldn't figure out what. So, yesterday I took it to my Bee and, of course, they immediately saw the problem and gave me tons of suggestions. I went into the group being frustrated with it and not wanting to work on it, and now I cant wait to get back to it.

I have also been working on a Charity quilt that will be given to a local Relay for Life event. The basic blocks were made by our guild members, and I started working at putting it together. Once again, I knew that it wasn't exactly right and, once again, the bee was there to rescue me. As we worked on the design wall, someone said...."what if we put it on point", and that was the answer. It completely changed the look of the blocks and I am excited about working on it some more.

Last Saturday, my friend Deb asked me if I could help her out of a time jam by quilting a small wallhanging that she was trying to get made for a class sample. This is the first time that I have ever quilted a piece for another quilter, and I found that I was really nervous to start it, but once I got going it was a lot of fun to do. The nicest comment that she made was that I must have been reading her mind because it was quilted in the exact way that she had thought about.

Finally, I worked on one more is being donated to a local cancer center and they will raffle it for funding. The fabrics came from a woman's stash that was left to the center and these particular ones were a kit that she had bought but never started. I began by cutting the strips that were required by the kit, but the charity group then decided that we weren't really happy with how they would look, so I went home, got onto Electric Quilt, and came up with another design that would use the strips that we had already cut.

After I had pieced a bunch of the blocks, I realized that it was "too much of the same thing" and decided to insert a red sashing strip and then add more blocks to the outside of the sash. At this point I took it back to the charity group and Nancy suggested that we add a "piano key" border. She took care of that, Ellen quilted it and we presented it to the Center board the next week. Here is the finished product......

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dye Day with Deb

On Monday, my good friend Deb H. came over for a play day!!! What fun we had!!!

We wanted to play some more with using the Elmer's Gel glue resist and each ended up making three pieces.

The first thing that I tried was over-dyeing a commercial fabric. I first used the glue to stamp 3 flowers and draw leaves, stems and the vase. Just to try it, I also did a resist using a stencil...just wiping the glue over the top.

After the glue dried, I painted it with a mixture of blue and purple Set-A-Color paints.....

When it was washed, I was very pleased with the results.....even the stencil areas.

I now have a new project in my mind using some hand embroidery stitches!!

The second piece that I did was to finish up the extra one that I had made on Friday. I just used two foam stamps for the resist and then also did a bunch of dots on the surface. I did a paint wash with black paint and this is the result (I seem to see solar systems in this).....

My final piece started out with flowers drawn with gel glue and lots of squiggles and swirly designs drawn free-hand.

When I started painting, I began with the funky flower and decided to try wetting the fabric a bit. Well, that was a BIG mistake, because the paint started seeping out and spreading in places that I did not want it to go.

I then decided that this piece would not be usable, so I would just play. The next step was to do the 3 Aqua blue swirls and then I painted the big flower with "Lumiere" paint. I wanted a "dirty" green for the center of the flower and once I had painted it, I added more yellow and water to paint the outside of the flower. By this time I was just simply playing with color....I would add a bit of this and a bit of that and then paint until I ran out of a color and then I would mix a bit of another and so on.

The final result ended up being my favorite of the three pieces. ......

Obviously, I am not thrilled with the "funky" flower, but I think that I may add an applique over that area and then quilt the heck out of it.....another project for another day!!!

Deb did three pieces as well. This first one was using a cheap piece of printed cotton fabric and adding a flower and leaf to it. She also used a small stencil to put leaves in a few places on the background. After it had dried, she realized that she didn't really want to over-paint the entire piece, so she mixed up a thin paint the color of a tea dye and just painted the two corner areas of the piece. This photo is sideways, but you can see how well it came out......

Her second piece was also free-handed with glue. While painting, she learned a few things....firstly, you have to make sure that there are no gaps in the glue, or the colors will run together. And, secondly, she decided that she needed to either find a better way to blend the background colors, or she needed to follow the lines more. Even with those comments, it is still a fun piece......

Her last piece was on the same fabric as my vase and she chose to use leaf stamps and then fill in with some parallel lines. She is going to use some of this in a piece that she is currently planning......

As we would finish, there would be dots of color on the plastic cloths and Deb grabbed an old piece of fabric ans started using it to blot up the color. I think that this looks a bit like an old fashioned map.......

When we had finished up, we had 9 or 10 cups with tiny amounts of paint left in them, so we took an extra fat quarter and poured, dripped and blobbed the paint onto the surface. Deb suggested rolling the fabric from corner to corner and then we each grabbed an end an twisted the fabric. When we opened it up, it was a gorgeous piece of dyeing. We set it out in the sun to dry and then added a handful of Kosher Salt sprinkled the surface for even more texture......

I can already see using this piece as the background for a fun applique quilt.

The bottom line here is that we had a WONDERFUL DAY and I was once again reminded how much fun it is to spend the day with such a creative person......Thanks Deb for making my day!!!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Something New

After yesterday's rant about creativity, I spent a lovely morning with my friend Anita H. and had a wonderful time talking about (and showing off) our various projects. I always come away from my visits with her with LOTS of new ideas to try.

I then toddled off to Barnes and Noble for lunch and to look at some books on drawing and painting. After spending a couple of hours getting inspired, I flew home and got out the Set-A-Color paints that I had bought on clearance a few weeks ago.

My first step was to take 2 fat quarters of PFD fabric and lay them out side by side. I then wet one of them and started adding colors of paint. I added streaks of color to the wet piece and blocks of color to the dry one.

The dry one ended up with a lot of white areas, so I took a blue paint and diluted it down a lot and then did a color wash over the colored splotches. I also added some extra water to the splotches to see if I could get them to run a bit....that part didn't really work.

After they dried, I tool some stamps that I had on hand and used Elmer's Gel glue to stamp a resist onto the fabric (I left the splotchy one for another day). I started out spreading the glue onto the stamp using a foam brush but quickly realized that my fingers worked better.

After I had tried a lot of different stamp designs, I added some glue lines and dots to finish off the piece. The biggest problem that I had was that, once the glue dried, I could not easily tell where I had already stamped.

After the glue had dried completely (hastened by the 90 degree afternoon heat and my hair dryer), I prepared to do a color wash over the top of the dyed piece.

I was planning to use Set-A-Color paints, but the dark purple that I wanted to use was fairly thick (remember I bought them on clearance) and would have to be diluted, so I decided instead to use a Dyna-Flow paint that was already very thin.

After the purple paint dried, I washed the piece in very warm water, soaking out all of the glue.

The resulting piece is a fun example and I am pleased with my first efforts. I have learned a few things.....

Firstly, I used too many different kinds of flower stamps. It would have looked more cohesive if I had stuck to only a few.

Secondly, the red paint was too different in color from the others as it tends to stick out more.

For my next try, I want to do basically the same thing, but use several different colors in the final wash and see if it will get a batik look.

Anyway.....lots of fun!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts about creativity

I have been thinking a lot about creativity in the past few days. The reason for this is that I have completed several projects recently, including a charity quilt that turned out MUCH better than I expected.....I forgot to photograph it but will put one on in the next couple of weeks.

Also, this time of year is a slower one for my profession and I am actually looking at having time to quilt and I cant decide where to head with it.

When we were in Portugal in early June, I took lots of photos of stairs....some just simple, short staircases, some long and windy and some even circular. As I have thought about these photos I am realizing that I would love to try a series of quilts using stairs. BUT, the bottom line here, is that I am scared to start it!!!!


I have been trying to look thru some of my older, forgotten books and came across one by Andrea Balosky called "Transitions...Unlocking the Creative Quilter Within" (published in 1996). It does not contain any patterns or instructions, although it does have a nice selection of quilts to get your creative juices flowing. Instead, it has lots of pages of text where the author is doing her best to motivate you to get up and get going. There are wonderful tips and lots of "you can do it" pep talk.

As I have read thru her steps to creativity, I have realized that I already do many of these earlier steps, including recognizing inspiration and researching the idea. But I am intimidated by the later steps including "inviting impulse and intuition" and "playing"..,...really....I'm allowed to play???

However, I love Phase Three.... "Just Do IT".....I think that she had that idea long before Nike took it as their slogan.

I recently read a quote by Walt Disney that said "The best way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing". So, my goal for this weekend is to just BEGIN!!! Stop cleaning my studio, refolding my fabrics, cutting my scraps.....and just BEGIN.

Hopefully I will have something to report at the end of the weekend.....but if not, there is always next weekend!!!

Thanks for reading my ramblings!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!!!

This is a quilt that I made several years ago to celebrate the month of July.

I have a wall in my entry way that has a special place for 30-36 inch square quilts, and I try to change them each month. I also have pie safe (which holds many of my quilts) that was built especially for that area and I put various nick-knacks on top for each month. Here is a photo of what it looks like this month.....

This quilt was made from a pattern found in a now unknown book, but it was for a 66 inch square quilt, so I cut the dimensions in half to get my finished product.

My biggest memory of this quilt was that my sewing machine was acting up and I spent MUCH of my time re-piecing the areas where there were birds-nests on the back.
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