Saturday, December 31, 2016

The State of the Studio - 2016

Well, it is 10pm on New Year's Eve so I guess that it is time to look back at my studio time for the year.  Unfortunately, it has been a bit slim this year!!

However, I did have a few finishes that I am proud of.   The first was for my friend Cathy who succumbed to cancer just a few days after she received the quilt......

Next was a baby quilt made for my Daughter's good friend, Emily.....

Then there was the "Southern Thing" challenge.......



.....followed by the Sunflower applique.....


 ....and the final finish of the year was "No Fishing".....


While not a quilt, I have one more finish that I am proud of for this year.  My husband Michael, is starting a new hobby in 2017.....building reproduction black-powder firearms..... and he needed a workbench.    We decided that we wanted to make it heavy-duty so that it could serve many purposes.  I had spent much of my childhood sitting in the garage watching my Dad build things so over the years I had learned a thing or two about construction.  So Michael put me in charge of design and production and he provided the muscle for the job.   And, it turned out great......


So, as we ready to head into 2017 there are lots of things running thru my mind .....

  -  will I get my Nepal quilt finished in time for the show???

  -  will I get my Queen Size pineapple quilted in time for the show???

  -  will I figure out the block placement for my Christmas Pineapple quilt???

  -  will I finish the Kaffe Fasset Needlepoint that I have been working on???

  -  will Michael be awarded the Fullbright fellowship which will mean that we be spending FOUR months in India in 2017??

  -  how will the new gun building hobby go???

  -   will I finish with digitizing all of our old photos???

  -  will I survive this year's income tax season with my sanity intact???



But, most importantly, I am thinking of all of my friends and family and how they have been such special parts of my life in 2016!!!

I am truly looking forward to what 2017 brings.....






Monday, December 26, 2016

It’s Rose Smelling Time!!!

 

I don’t tend to “wax philosophical” very often but this is one of those posts…..

Lately I have been in a hurry!!

When we got back from our travels I was in a hurry to get things put back together at home.   Next I was in a hurry to get to Texas to visit my Mom.  Then I hurried thru October, trying to get everything done so that I could have “creative time” in November.   I hurried thru Thanksgiving so that I could get the house decorated for Christmas.   I hurried thru the decorating so that I could get ready for our party the following week.   I hurried thru the party so that I could get Michael off on his trip two days later.   I hurried thru the 13 days that he was gone trying to get as much done during that time as I could.  I hurried thru the gift shopping, doing it all in about 90 minutes on Amazon.  I hurried thru the family Christmas Eve festivities so that I could get to the relaxation of Christmas Day.  And today, the day after Christmas, I have been hurrying to get my house un-decorated and redecorated for Winter.

The problem with all of this hurrying is that I forgot to stop and enjoy the events, the people and the fun of the season and that makes me sad!!Sad-Emoji

SO, I want to start this new year ( well actually this new week) off with a different attitude, one that says its okay if I DONT get everything done that I have planned, or if I DONT get my quilts ready for the upcoming show or if I DONT get the ME time that I desire.  Instead, I want to strive to enjoy each and every day regardless of what I am doing and stop all of this hurrying and looking at the next thing!!

So, if you see me on the street or in the Blogsphere, ask me how it is going?  It is going to take ALL of you to pull me thru this one!!!!!

AND, please feel free to join me in a bit of Rose sniffing……I’ve heard its good for the soul!!!!

 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

No Fishing

The latest challenge for our guild is called “Say It with Flowers”.  The rules are that the quilt has to have words of some sort on it and has to contain 3 flower fabrics.  At first I searched online for words or sayings to use and came up with things like “Be Creative” and other cutesy sayings.  None of them caught my fancy!!

Then, my computer screen saver popped up a photo that I had found in my Mom’s stuff.  It was a photo of an old Windmill that was on my parent’s property.

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The best part of the photo were the words “No Fishing”…..my search for inspiration was complete!!!

As I drew out the pattern I decided that I wanted a more “up-to-date” windmill, so I started out just working on the background first with the idea that I would add the windmill later.

I had originally planned to make the sky collage style using  a bunch of different fabrics, but when I saw this one, I decided just to make it easy, especially since I am on such a short time line.

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Next was to add the ground.  My initial attempt was good, but when I looked at it, I realized that good ole West Texas soil wouldn’t have that much green in it. 

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Michael agreed and I pulled all of it off and started over again……

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This is MUCH better.

As I started to work on the trees, I first cut them out of solid green fabrics, but again, when I looked at the photo, I realized that they were Mesquite trees and very wispy.   Mine were MUCH too solid.

Then I decided to try painting them and pulled out my trusty favorite sponge and started mixing green paints.  I didn’t really trust myself to paint directly onto the sky fabric so instead I cut pieces of the fabric out and ironed them to freezer paper that had the tree shape drawn on it……

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I was then able to cover the entire piece with paint without having to worry about the outlines…..

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Now I just had to cut it out!!IMG_2509

Now the background is complete and it was time to start on the Windmill.  I got online and started looking for photos of windmills that I might want to use.   I found this one…..

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…. but obviously something was missing!!!

After playing around with it a bit and trying to extend the legs, I came up with this…..

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It looked good but was a little TOO perfect..,…the one at my parent’s farm NEVER looked this good.

At this point I made the decision to build the windmill myself, using strips of fabric and just adding on as I wanted to….should be interesting!!!

It was a lot of fun putting all of the pieces together and trying to figure out where the shading needed to be.  I was excited when I stepped back from it and was able to see how it looked….IMG_2528

One thing that I have learned is to use a grey Fabrico marker to make the shadows.  

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It works perfectly!!!    I really need to buy a stack of this color since it is about the only one that I use!!

The next step was to do the mill itself….

I wanted a metallic looking fabric so started with a solid grey fabric and added a Lumiere pewter paint on top…..

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I then added a bit of black to the paint and sponged some more…..IMG_2538

I wanted the sail to look different from the blades so did the same thing but started with a  print fabric….

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I was so pleased with the final result…..

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The last step was adding some fussy cut flowers (from 4 different fabrics)….

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I had a wonderful time doing the quilting and trying to think what details needed to be added with thread.  I am happy with the final result….IMG_2547

If I was making it again, I would make the windmill base narrower and shorter.  I think that the proportion would look better.

Overall, the thing that I enjoyed most about this quilt was stepping outside of my box and trying painting the fabrics and just using the pattern as a guide and not as an exact pattern.   Both of these represent personal growth for me!!!

It was finished about 45 minutes before time to leave….one of these days I will finish a challenge quilt early, but don’ hold your breath!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Nepal Monument Quilt Update….

I figured that it was time to give you another update on the Nepal Monument quilt. 
Last week I had time to lay down all of the grass and I'm very pleased with how it looks…… IMG_2499

I will still go in and add a lot of details to the grass, including rocks and other things like that, but I'm pleased with the basics that I have right now.

I also decided to use a dark background for the monument opening as I think that it will be the best backdrop to the items that are going to be INSIDE of the opening.

I really am enjoying this new technique of just cutting the fabrics and pinning them onto the background.  It only took two hours to lay down all of the sod (grass), and another hour to glue the pieces down.

 

But now I have to take it off the wall to work on a new project. My guild has a challenge that's due on Tuesday (it is now Saturday),  and I have an idea that I want to run with.   So, I have started working on that.

I am also spending the day with my friend, Marianna, helping her make a quilt for her granddaughter!!!

I said that I wanted to find some creative time in December and I have done it!!!!

 

MORE TO COME…….

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nepal Monument–Part 2

The second step for the monument was to put the spire on.  I decided that the one I had originally drawn was not the right size so re-drew it and started picking fabrics.   Again, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I added some Metallic silver paint to change the texture of it a bit.  IMG_2256

I was happy with the design, but didn’t feel as if the perspective was right, so I went to an expert, my Daughter-In-Law Amber, for help.    Her first suggestion was that I cut the three pieces apart and play with those some…..

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Amber is an Elementary school art teacher and a very accomplished artist and she jumped right in to help me…..

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Her suggestion was that the spire was too upright and needed to have some angled movement in it.   IMG_2402

I think that she was right!!!

The next part of the piece was to get the mountains in the background.  I was torn about these because I wanted them to show up but not to overtake the scene.  I found one photo that had a nice view of the mountains and used that for my pattern.

By a serendipitous occurrence, the  size ended up to fit the quilt perfectly.IMG_2252

I started off working from a color photo on my computer…..

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…but then realized that it was much easier to see the shading from a black and white version.

I had way too much fun filling in these mountains, playing with the colors and shading until I had a pleasant design that showed the depth of the scene…..

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I was excited by the fact that, although I used the photo to help with the shading some, I was able to do a lot of it intuitively….a FIRST for me!!!

The next obstacle was to get all of these pieces glued down and get rid of the pins.  I started working with the bottle of glue as I had before but decided that a stiff paintbrush was easier to use….

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I also realized that it would be easier to work from above the pieces so pulled out a stepstool to give me a little height……

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After I glued all of the mountains down, I took it to the machine and outline stitched around each piece.   My plan is to add a lot of quilting and hopefully the outlines wont show much.  I am very happy with the progress so far…..

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Next will be the grass and rocks leading down the path.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nepal Monument - Part 1

Many people asked Michael and I why we wanted to travel to Nepal to trek in the Himalayas.  It all started when we watched Michael Palin’s series about the Himalaya Mountains.  One of the things that captured my imagination in these shows were the pictures of Buddhist temples covered in prayer flags.  We saw those images while in Kathmandu but not so much while we were hiking.  Instead, as we walked, we passed many small prayer monuments.  Our trek leader, Badri, said that he wasn’t religious but I noticed that he would often place a small rock, stick or flower on these monuments as we passed.

So, as we trekked, I kept visualizing the quilt that I wanted to make to commemorate this trip and I knew that it was going to focus around one of these monuments.

I started planning the quilt late last year, searching all of our photos for the perfect picture to use.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find ONE photo that had everything I wanted so I decided to use bits and pieces from several of them.

This one had the look that I wanted and showed the aspect that I desired, but I wanted the monument  to be wider rather than taller……

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I used this as my pattern but extended the front so that the shape was different and also added a rectangle opening.   It came out looking like this…..

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I enlarged the design, traced it onto a very fine interfacing and started adding the fabrics, using a Wonder Under backing…..

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But, I didn’t like how it looked!!!  The grouting was the wrong color and the rocks looked too stiff.   At this point, life got busy and this project got packed away and put into the closet.

Now, fast forward…..  While we were in India, I found a blog by Susan Carlson  ( Susan Carlson Quilts ).  You may have seen her twenty foot Crocodile quilt or one of her other “Specimen” quilts.   As I read her blog, I found that she free-cut her fabrics, gluing the edges down before she quilted.   I also discovered that she had written two books so I ordered both of them and this one arrived first….

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In this book she made use of paper patterns for the pieces, cut them out of fabric and glued them to a piece of muslin.

In her second book…..

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….she dispenses with the paper pattern and instead draws the design on the muslin and cuts the fabrics to fill the spaces.

Since I felt more comfortable using a pattern, I chose the first method and started cutting and placing my fabrics on my interfacing backing…..

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I was immediately happier with the more organic look.

After I had placed all of the fabrics and got ready to glue them all down, I realized that I couldn’t glue onto the thin interfacing because it would just seep thru the interfacing and onto my design wall.  Instead, I traced the pattern out on a piece of muslin and started the slow process of moving each piece off of the wall and onto the base…..

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Per Susan’s instructions, I used a VERY thin line (dots actually) of “Aleenes Original Tacky Glue” and slowly added the pieces….one row at a time.

I was basically pleased with the outcome…..

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….although I knew that the opening needed some work (it is not yet glued down) and I also felt that there were too many color variations in the rock.  I had the idea to add some paint to blend the colors together more, using a thin translucent grey in two shades.  I used a sponge to add the color and, although I started the process with much feat and trepidation, I was happy with the end result…..

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I moved to the sewing machine and started thread painting around each of the bricks, adding more thread and texture to the grouting.  After I had finished the thread work, I turned it over and gave it a good pressing from the back.  I was thrilled to see that the rocks had actually wrinkled a bit in the process, adding yet another serendipitous dimension to them…..

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I also made the decision to have the opening go all the way thru the monument, although that may change again at some point.

Happily I have now completed the FIRST step in this quilt design.  Next will be to create a spire of some sort to go on the top.  Then I have to figure out how to add snow covered mountains to the background without them taking over the focus.  Finally will be adding the prayer flags flying from the spire and hopefully staying in perspective as they flow out of the picture.

Contemplating the prospect of the project is daunting for me, but just like on the trek, I plan to take it one step at a time!!  Hopefully the end result will be worth the journey, but regardless of the outcome, I am determined to enjoy the process to its fullest!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A finished UFO!!!

 

To start this post, I have to go back to September of 2013!!!  I first posted about this piece HERE, working thru the process that I used to discharge the fabric vase.

Then I started working on the applique of the vase and Sunflowers, enjoying the process greatly…..Sunflower

But, as with most UFO’s, other things cropped up and the project got stuck on top of the fabric shelves.   Amazingly, before I threw it up there, I had finished all of the applique except for ONE flower petal!!!

When I unexpectedly had a few hours in my studio, I really wanted to accomplish something so I pulled out the top, quickly finished the applique and set it up for quilting.

It didn’t take long to have a fun, FINISHED project….

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Now if all of my other UFO’s are as easy to finish, I will be one happy camper!!!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Art for the walls

Once we got back from our travels, Michael and I both hit the ground running.   We each had lists of tasks that needed to be done and amazingly they all were accomplished fairly quickly.  So, we decided to hit a few of the “long-term” tasks as well!!!

One of the things that we have wanted to do was to purchase some art for our home.   When we moved in 4 years ago, there were large expanses of blank walls and we knew that we wanted to find special things and not just fill it in with framed prints. 

The year after our move, we made a trip to New Mexico and purchased two paintings that got our collection off to a good start…..

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But then we got busy and money got tight and we forgot about adding to our collection, but we have added quite a few things in the past 18 months.

Last year, when we were in Colombia, we purchased a couple of pieces….

  -  this wooden carving that Michael fell in love with…..

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….and this Mola that I fell in love with…..

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A friend of ours (Scott Pope) from Church had a solo show and we bought one of his smaller pieces…..

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…although we both really wanted one of his BIG canvases!!!

When we were in India last year, I also bought two small pieces for $6 each.  When I checked into having them simply framed, the cost rose to over $75 EACH!!!   So, they laid around the laundry room for a year but then amazingly I had an idea that only cost $8 for BOTH.  I  bought a piece of foam core mat board, had it cut to the proper size and used a spray adhesive to attach the artwork.   Perfect!!!…..

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For my birthday this past year, Michael bought a painting that I liked….DSC08944

When we were in Spain back in May, we added this wonderful tile….DSC08951

….and I insisted that we buy these wine drinking Chickens in Vienna…..

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When we were in India in 2015, we were introduced to tribal art from the Gond people.  In particular, we saw a piece by  a woman named Durga Bai, an illiterate but talented artist…..DSC05778

This style of art struck a chord with both of us and this past trip we searched in vain for a gallery where we could buy some of her pieces.   We never found a “brick and mortar” store but we did find a website!!   So, when we got home, we logged on and picked out three pieces that we liked….two painted by Durga Bai….DSC08936

DSC08937…..and one by Shiv Prasad Malviya (sorry for the window reflections)…..

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All three of these pieces were either ink or acrylic on paper and arrived safely (and quickly) and were soon framed and ready to reside in our home!!

But we weren’t quite thru yet!!!

We spent one Saturday at the Oconee County Fall Festival and came across two things that we liked.   The first was a three-dimensional painting by Eugene Swain…..DSC08933

The bridge is actually made from small slats of wood and the water image could not be better!!

Finally, being a life-long Sunflower lover, I found this stained glass piece in another  booth and bought it to cover a laundry room window…..

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I typically don’t leave decorations in the same place year after year and basically re-do the house every few months.   This gives us a chance to enjoy more pieces each year.  The problem of doing this is that you have to have places to store things and over the years I have added several storage cabinets and LOTS of Rubbermade bins.  But those don’t work well for paintings and I was finding that it was really hard to keep them stored where  they were safe and I could get to them easily.  Then when we added all of these other pieces, I was truly in trouble.

A series of events meant that we had to clean out the closet under the stairs and Michael had the idea that it would be the perfect place to store our pictures.  I started looking for a shelf to purchase but couldn’t find one with the right dimensions….unless I wanted to pay BIG bucks.  I finally came up with the idea of building one ourselves (I designed and Michael provided the labor) and ended up with this……

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A perfect solution!!!

I also have a few other oil paintings that were done by my Great Aunt and were hanging in my Mother’s house.  Mom was into big, ornate frames (which I am NOT) so I need to do some re-framing before I can enjoy them to their fullest.

All of this to say that we are glad that we have taken our time in buying art and that we are looking forward to continuing to add to our collection over the years to come!!!

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