Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting there….part two

Monday AM……

WOW.  This has been one of the easiest trips that we have ever made.  Our flight from Seattle to Beijing was almost perfect.  The only small problem was that it was really cold so I spent the time wrapped up in two blankets!!!

I learned another travel tip here.  First of all, Michael doesn’t ever use his pillow so I am normally fighting to hold on to two pillows.  This time, I stuffed one of the pillows inside the case of the other one and had one larger pillow….much more comfortable!!!

We could tell that we were tired because both of us slept for about four or five hours of the 11 hour journey.  This is particularly unheard of for Michael.  He normally works or reads the entire time.

One funny thing that I forgot in yesterday’s post…..  When we were going thru security at the Atlanta airport we walked down a corridor and then had two different options for which line to pick.  Several people ahead of us were confused and having trouble figuring out what to do.  One of the workers yelled out  “don’t over think this…..just pick one!!”

We arrived in Beijing, made it thru immigration and our bags were some of the first ones on the carousel.  I think that we were the first set of travelers to leave the terminal. 

As we walked out, we found a kiosk to purchase a Chinese SIM card for our phone, and then used that phone to contact the man from the hotel  who was picking us up. 

We met up with him and enjoyed a 10 minute ride to the hotel.  The driver had a small bell hanging from his mirror and it was fun to hear it tinkle every time that he  turned a corner.

At check in, Michael was handed a phone and told  that we had a call from “a friend”.  It was Jialin….our wonderful liaison in Kunming.  She just wanted to know that we had made it ok …..SO sweet!!!

The hotel is part of the “Days Inn” chain and is very nice.  We immediately fired up our computers, “Skyped” with our kids and then crashed in bed.  I was worried that we might have trouble sleeping but we were both OUT within about 5 minutes!!

This morning, we went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast and proceeded to walk PAST all of the “Western” food (omelets, toast, bacon/sausage, pastries)  and instead headed for the Chinese cuisine.  Our wonderful breakfast consisted of  fried rice, fried noodles, Dim Sum, Spring Roll, two veggie stir-fries….one with carrots, cauliflower and celery and one with celery and tofu (even the tofu was good!!), and an unknown fried meat patty.  It was all wonderful!!!!    We sat for quite a while, enjoying cups of coffee and tea and then headed back to the room to pack up for our next trip.

 

….NOTE…..I had been unable to post this earlier because my Virtual Network wasn’t working.  Apparently they have started blocking the one that I was using.  BUT…..I was able to buy another one so hopefully I am good to go now!!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The journey begins…..

We are currently sitting in SEATAC airport in Seattle, Washington and have FREE Wi-Fi…..I already love this place!!!!

We left the house at 7:00am with Brian and Amber driving us to the Atlanta airport.  Our flight boarded pretty much on time.  We were disappointed because there had been an equipment change and we lost of “Exit Row” seats, but it was still an ok flight.  The plane had Satellite TV so I watched Law and Order and MIB while we flew.

We arrived at SEATAC and immediately started looking for a board to check where our next flight left from.  It was apparently too early for it be on the board so Michael turned around to find someone to ask.  Low and behold, the gate just behind us was the one that we needed.  How often does it ever happen that you come in at S-2 and fly out of S-3……certainly NEVER when you have a fast connection!!!

We have had lunch….a wonderful Cheeseburger from a small Grill.  Probably the best airport food that we have had in a long time!!!

We are watching CNN Airport News and I just saw a great story about women who are making quilts for injured soldiers.  I teared up when they showed the quilt being presented to the soldier!!!

SO….free Wi-Fi  and a power points….guess it is time to do some blog reading!!!!

Next stop….Beijing  in about 16 hours!!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

On the air….

Last Friday I was in the studio audience for a new video-cast that is originating from our local public library.
The Library and one of our local art centers has received a grant to set up a program for “Boomers”…..those of us born between 1946 and 1964.  As part of this program they are presenting programs and activities that relate to this particular age group.  Most of these are being done as a live Video-Cast and then the recording is available on line for all to see.

The first speaker was local quilter, Elizabeth Barton who spoke about how she uses gravel and photographs to inspire the wonderful quilts that she makes.  Elizabeth is internationally known for her wonderful art quilts, with many appearing in books, magazines and on the walls of some famous buildings.

She writes an excellent blog….check it out here….

Her talk was filled with photos and resulting quilts and is well worth checking out.  You can see it here….
I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

AND,  for MY big news…  I have just signed up to attend a week-long workshop at Arrowmount School of Arts & Crafts, with Elizabeth Barton teaching!!!  Here is the description of the class that I will be taking…..
Arashi is a Japanese technique that yields beautiful wave-like markings and stripes on fabric. Dyes are pre-mixed into solutions and yields gorgeous colors in tye-dyed patterns. Utilize your stunning fabrics in a quilt design. Beginners may focus on simple, traditional quilts while more advanced students channel their energies into more complex custom designs. Plenty of individual instruction will help you move forward on your quilt journey. You’ll leave with a wonderful quilt and yards of fabulous fabric.
Doesn’t this sound like FUN….cant wait for October to get here!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fiber Frenzy Report

At the May meeting of the Fiber Frenzy group, we were treated to an informative talk about threads and needles presented by Francyne.  

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She has written out a lot of this information on her  blog, so you can check it out here.

The main point of her talk was that there were hundreds of different threads, each with it’s own set of properties and uses.  The bottom line is that you have to just try each and see which works best for your particular project!!

After the talk, we each shared our Scrap Challenges.

Anita had set the challenge and she presented these two beauties.  The right one is made from the scraps left from the scraps of the left one!!!

_6305780 Shirley made this fun butterfly.  I particularly liked the feelers…..

_5132486 Cleo produced this cute piece.  She said that it was challenging for her to work with both hot and cool colors in the same piece.  I think that she succeeded!!

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Sue  got REALLY creative and produced this Lion puppet….._5132480

Francyne started on a scrap flower piece….._5132483 

Finally, Nancy made this cute piece with a “Put a Bird on it” theme…._5132485 Nancy also brought her “going green” challenge for the previous month.  She managed to find a way to use old cassette tape to great effect……

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scrap Challenge

My Fiber Frenzy group set a challenge for our last meeting…..creatively using scraps in a project.

I had planned to make a sunflower quilt to be given to Deb (my friend and Co-Chair for the past quilt show) so I decided to “scrap it up”!!

First step….pull out all of the yellow/gold scrap strips…..

_4232348 Next, sew them onto an interfacing base…..

_4232350 _4232351 I then photocopied the strips and tried cutting petals and experimenting with the placement…..

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I cut some petals with the stripes across the petals…..

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Some with the stripes running the length of the petal…..

_4232356 But my favorite was with the stripes running diagonally…..

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Next, I made the center of the flower, using a technique from a book by Nancy Eha.  It is called elevated beading and you begin by setting a base of beads with another bed on top of it.  The new line of beads are woven thru the upper beads….

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When I added this center onto the original flower, it looked dowdy and not at all how I saw it in my mind’s eye.

I was about ready to give up and start over with the flower, when I thought….maybe I can add some paint.  SO….out came the gold Set-A-Color paint and I used it to soften the colors of the flower and the leaves as well. 

Much Better…..

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I used more paints to stamp the inspirational words on the background. 

Next step was to find a border….

_5102430 Of course this step requires pulling out hoards of fabrics to try….

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Here is the finished piece…… a happy use of my scraps and a “thank you” quilt for a wonderful friend…..

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Anyone can draw….even me????

I recently purchased and downloaded a video from Interweave Press by Jane LaFazio entitled “From Art Journaling to Art”.   From the first minute of the video, she insists that she can teach you how to create art…..and she delivers!!!

Her work starts by making  a light pencil drawing of her inspiration.  She then uses a permanent pen to outline the design and add interest lines.  She suggests using a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen…..

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Next step is to use water colors to add color to the drawing.  She used four different types of color…..

_5232534…Watercolors, Water Color Crayons, Inktense Pencils and Water Soluble Oil Pastels.

BUT, the best tip that she gave was the type of brush that she used…… a Niji Waterbrush.  A waterbrush has a barrel handle that allows water to be stored in it.  You simply squeeze the barrel and water flows onto the brush.    I bought one Niji brand (on the right)  and also a   Koi brand (on the left).

_5232535 They both work fine, but I really prefer the shorter brush.

The really nice thing about using the paint brush is that you dont have to carry around a cup of water when you want to paint.  All you need is a few layers of paper towel to wipe the brush on.   To clean the brush, you simply squeeze out some water and make a few brush strokes on the paper towel!!!

Jane had one other tip….use a water soluble pen to draw your design and then take the brush and pull out some of the black to add shading to your drawing.  It really works!!!!

 

I had been playing with some doodles before I purchased the video, so I went in and added color to the page, using all four of the paint types, as well as the water soluble ink……

_5232536SO MUCH FUN!!!!

I think that I will take this exact packet of goodies on my China trip and try to spend some time sitting at the numerous parks and doodling, drawing, painting…sounds like fun!!

Fun Jungle Quilt

My friend Nancy B made this wonderful Jungle quilt……IMG_0158
Have a close up look at some of the fun critters…..IMG_0160

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Needless to say, Nancy is a “Paper-Piecer Extraordinaire!!!!!!”
WELL DONE!!!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

WOW….don’t we look young!!!!

 

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On May 20, 1977,  I was fortunate enough to marry my very best friend, and THIRTY-FOUR years later we are still living and loving each other every day.

During that 34 years, we have…..

….Received a total of 4 University Degrees ( 1 for me and 3 for Michael)

….Lived in a foreign country  (Australia for 6 years)

….Lived in 5 cities (7 houses)

….Owned  12 cars

….Visited 9 different countries together

….Hiked the Georgia portion of the Appalachian trail

….Watched countless hours of British Sitcoms

….Quoted lines from books and movies back and forth to each other

….Attended an unknown number of sporting events, ranging from Little League baseball and softball to Test Match Cricket

….Raised two wonderful kids and have loved seeing them morph into adults with careers, lives and opportunities in front of them

 

So, here we are now……

P1060829 …..still holding hands and enjoying life together!!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thistles…..

The other day I had to visit with a client who lives a little way out of town.  On the way there I came across a wonderful patch of Thistles and just HAD to stop and take some photos……

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Seeing these beautiful flowers reminded me of a Crewel Embroidery picture that I made MANY years ago (for my cousin’s, Sue, wedding)……

 

Thistles

Now I need to make a Thistle quilt…..just add it to the To-Do list!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Framing the Easy Way

Every so often you make a quilt that just screams for a frame.   Yes, you could put a sleeve on it, but you know in your heart that it would look better framed.

SO….a few weeks ago I came across a tutorial for how to frame your quilt.  I would LOVE to give credit to the author but I honestly cannot remember where I saw it.  Did I read it?   Did I watch it?  Did someone tell me about it???    ARGH….I just cant remember.  (Note:  last night I dreamed that I lost my car and couldn’t remember where I had left it.  When I woke, I was dreaming that I was walking down a very busy street, pushing the panic button on my key and hoping that I would find my car).    GREAT….I am forgetful in my dreams….not a good sign!!!

OK….on with the tutorial.   Here are the steps used to frame a small quilt……

 

The first step is to center the quilt on the BACK of the matting.   I did this by first gridding the back……

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and then placing the quilt, FACE SIDE DOWN on the mat……

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Draw around the outside of the quilt……

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Now, take an awl and punch a hole just inside the drawn outline (about 1/4 of an inch inside the line).   Place one punch at each corner and then one every 2 inches…..

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Turn the mat over and place your quilt over the punched holes.

Take a needle and thread and, coming from the back, draw the needle up thru one of the holes  (start with a hole NEXT TO the corner)……

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Catch a small bit of the backing fabric on the needle……

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And return the needle back thru the same hole……_5092391

If you leave the corner for last, it makes the final stitch easier to make since you can fold back the quilt.

As added protection, I ran a piece of masking tape over the stitching line…..

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And, voila……here is the framed piece.

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I really like that this method doesn’t interfere with the integrity of the quilt and that I could easily change my mind and remove it from the mat, put on a sleeve and hang it as a quilt.

As my final step, I place masking tape over the edges of the glass and am planning to us this to try some mono printing in the future!!!!

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Enjoying our Elders…..

A couple of weeks ago we spent the evening with a wonderful couple, Harold and Harriet W.

_4282381They are both in their 80’s and have lived a full and varied life.  They both have PhD’s and were involved in education for most of their lives.  

Early on in their marriage, they lived for about 18 months in Alaska.  Harriet has written a book that is based on the letters that she wrote to her Mother during the time away.  It was a very interesting look at life in that frozen world!!

Harold has written several books about his time in the Air Force and is in the process of publishing yet another book about his life. 

They both have a great love for God and have spent their lives honoring Him in the things that they do.

WHAT A GREAT INSPIRATION!!!!   Michael and I both want to use their lives as a blueprint and hope that we are still active and vibrant as we get older.

Thanks Harold and Harriet for allowing us into your home and for sharing your life with us…….

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How do you do that….Part 5

OK….now I come to the part of traveling that I have the most trouble with……what to take to work on!!!

On our first long trip (2 months in England), I didn’t have any idea of how much time I would be spending in the house while Michael was at work.    Consequently, I took lots of fabric to work on a quilt and even took a small sewing machine with me.   I set everything up on the dining room table, plugged the machine into the convertor and turned it on.   Everything worked great until I pushed on the presser foot…..then there was a loud pop and a puff of smoke!!!!  Apparently the convertor hadn’t worked properly and I blew up the machine!!!! 

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I ended up buying a VERY basic machine while in England (for less than $50), but I couldn’t use it for much except paper piecing.  BUT, what I learned was that I don’t tend to spend much time sitting in my apartment and sewing.  Instead I prefer to be outside, observing the newness of the place that I am visiting.

 

For the 7 weeks in Italy, I took fabric and doo-dads to work on an undersea collage.  I spent a couple of days working on it, but am not sure that it was worth carrying all of the stuff for it……

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I also took a lot of drawing supplies, thinking that I would be sitting in various piazzas and sketching what I am seeing.   That particular idea didn’t work because there is simply no place in Rome for people to sit!!!  

On many of the shorter trips I have taken an unfinished Counted Cross Stitch project.  But face it…..I will NEVER finish it, so why waste the time and effort in carrying it with me!!!!

So, now I am trying to decide what to take to China.  This trip is a bit different because Kunming is not a huge tourist attraction and there wont be lots of museums or other things to see.   Having said that, my favorite thing to do when we were there last year was to sit at one of the parks and watch people.   Also, we will be visiting during the Rainy Season, so I may be forced indoors more.

My plan (at the moment) is to take the quilt that was made by my friend, Pat and add some beads and hand quilting…..

_3161984[4] Here is the post where I talked about this little quilt….

I am also planning to take some drawing/water color supplies and hopefully spend some time playing with those.   I have just watched a great video that I will tell you about in a few days……

My question to end this post……what are your ideas about what to take on long trips?????

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