Friday, July 25, 2014

A Quilters’ Showcase…


Our small weekly sewing and crafting group recently held a welcome luncheon and display for potential new members. We all brought a variety of items we’d made and arranged them for all to look at. When I gathered up all the small things I’d made or been given, it filled a table.


I think this just proves the point that I never met a craft I didn’t like and want to try. Paper crafts, quilting, rope bowls, greeting cards, journals… you  name it. That’s just one of the fun things about our group, the Citra Crafty Quilters- there's an abundance of talent and interests.


One of our members, Penny, makes these cute night light covers and decorative fabric pine cones. She taught a class on the pine cones, so all who were interested learned to make them. And that was all of us!


Penny is also learning “pin-broidery” or card stitching. She’s stitched the butterflies on cardstock by pricking a pattern into the paper, and then stitching in a pattern with variegated thread. This is a new craft to me, and Penny has jumped right in, making a number of beautiful hand-crafted cards. It reminds me of those sewing cards I had as a child, though an advanced version.


These two striking pieces were made by Claudia who recently took a class in soy painting on silk with quilt artist Juanita Yeager. The poppy above was her first project, and she’s hooked. It won’t be her last. And I love what she’s done with the batik panel of butteflies. Her quilting is beautiful, and I wish the camera could show the spark added by the crystals she embellished with.


Jackie, an art teacher, sells her work in an artist’s co-op locally. She showed this grapevine and raffia piece. I love the intricate knotted pattern, and it felt good to the touch with all that texture.


Ida is an absolute master of embroidery, but she's so humble she doesn't even know it. We just marvel over her handwork. She brought a number of her heavily stitched and bead-embellished blocks that will eventually go to make up a quilt. This one impressed me most because of the flower vine stitched in metallic thread. Metallic! I would never attempt this much design work with metallic thread. But Ida got it to behave with remarkable results. And those tiny cross-stitches along the fan handle have one itty-bitty seed bead sewn between each pair. Such a gift she has.

Below is the soft and sweet Half Log Cabin quilt made by Ann-Marie. She also made the redwork pillow and I love the little French Knot dots between the roses. They enhance the white space, and add some lovely texture.


I thought you might also like to meet Smarty. Smarty is a yearling Quarter Horse, and is a full brother to Jackson, who I’ve shown here before. You might have thought this was Jackson, because they look a great deal alike- both bay roans, and very handsome fellows. Jackson was sold and is now with his new owner, but still at the same trainer’s barn. We’re hoping to get a picture of both of them together at some point. Smarty arrived at our barn just after Jackson left. Smarty is living up to his name as my husband Jack is working with him off the golf cart and a little bit in the ring and he's catching on nicely. He’s a sweet guy, gentle and kind. Smarty, I mean, but so is Jack!


We’re traveling to Maine, and Smarty will board at the barn where Jackson is. So we may get our photo op soon. The boys' half-brother Freckles is also at the barn. He can get in on the family photo, too.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dressed Up Mail…


Tired of boring, ho-hum mail, I signed up for two online mail art classes. One is called “Create It- Mail It- Alter It” and is offered by the artitists who created The Documented Life Project. So I created it and mailed it. The stitched envelope above is covered with vintage papers, paints, doodles, any old thing that came into my head, with the guidance of the instructors. Who wouldn’t love to open their mailbox and find something like this instead of circulars, bills, and catalogs? This one went to a quilting friend in Pennsylvania, and it made it successfully all the way there from Florida. I took it to the Post Office to make sure it had the right amount of postage, plus I wanted to select colorful stamps in the right monetary combo that “enhanced” the piece. Now that’s going the extra mile, right? Anyway, this initial mail art piece was very enjoyable to make, and it won’t be the last one I'm sure.


This is the face of the envelope and has more of the same paints and papers, plus a scallop border. In the class, each of the instructors offers videos showing their style and project ideas for making mail art pieces. Roben-Marie Smith was the designer of this style. I admire her work, and she offers her own classes in addition to working with the Art to the 5th consortium. So I also signed up for her class “You’ve Got Mail.. Art”. Never much of an art student, I must say I’m liking the spontaneous freedom of these mixed media classes.


Of course it means all sorts of new supplies and gadgets. I’m a gadget person, so I don’t mind at all. Here are a few things I learned. The first two sheets are the left are pages from old National Geographic magazines altered by spraying with Citra-Solv. The inks on the pages dissolve and move around in interesting patterns and can then be used as art papers once they are dry. The next paper is “under paper” which catches drips, blots, and leftovers made when painting other pages. It winds up unexpectedly pretty. The next 6 papers are painted deli papers (the waxy stuff used to wrap deli sandwiches). They are translucent when applied on top of other surfaces. The last paper on the right is another piece of underpaper.

And the big “X” in the middle of the photo is just about the most fun gadget of all (at least until the next fun gadget comes along). It’s called a Xyron, and with it you can turn just about anything into an adhesive-backed sticker. On the far right are two strips of paper I ran through the Xyron. You can just peel and place them. Mine takes paper pieces up to 1 1/2” wide, but there are larger sizes available, too. I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s possible to run lace and rick-rack through it. I’m so impressed with the Xyron and mail art! Fun, fun, fun.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is There Such a Thing as an Ugly Quilt?


I once thought there was not. But I was wrong. Let me hasten to add that this quilt was once ugly, but less so now. I think it’s moved up to the category of not-so-bad. The quilt began as an online bargain for a “jelly roll” set of pre-cut strips. I’d been wanting to try one of the Jelly Roll Race quilts from the Missouri Star website to make a donation quilt. So I took a chance and ordered a very inexpensive roll of 2 1/2” strips. When they arrived, I immediately had misgivings about the colors and patterns. But I’d spent that money and had hopes that since they were all from one fabric line, perhaps they’d all work together somehow.

So off to quilt retreat I went with this unusual set of strips. Since the Jelly Roll Race quilts are sewn in one long sewing session, seam after seam. That meant that I was looking at the back of the quilt top until it was finished, and couldn’t get a good sense of how things were progressing. But retreat members could see the pile of fabric strips as they were added, and they’d stroll by, curiously asking what this was going to be and where the fabric had come from.

At last came the big reveal. I held up the quilt top and could see right away from the stunned looks on the quilters’ faces what I pretty much knew already- that this quilt was less than a success. And we were right! It was overwhelmingly busy and garish- not a resting place for the eye in sight. However, the quilt top provided plenty of laughs! There was no way I could leave it like that though. And I don’t have a picture of the top in that state (which is a mercy- it could scare you). So the quilt top came home with me and I sliced it through in order to add the wide dark strips, thinking it would break up all that pattern a bit. This is the result, and I’m pretty sure there is someone out there that is going to receive and love this quirky quilt! 


And if the recipient needs a rest from the quilt front, then perhaps the pieced backing will be more soothing!


I learned a lesson about buying fabrics online, sight unseen, in the process. And I learned one about bargain fabrics, too. While the trademarked Jelly Roll fabrics by Moda are costly in comparison to other brands of pre-cut strips, the quality counts for a lot. Every Jelly Roll I’ve purchased has been accurately cut and quality cotton. In my bargain pre-cut roll, there were several strips that were mis-cut like the one shown here. The fabric must have shifted while die cutting and the result was uneven strips. The uneven parts were right at the fold line, giving it “the bends” and making the strip useless for patterns that require a full width-of-fabric cut. Live and learn! At any rate, the not-so-bad quilt is now on the way to its new home. I’m confident that someone will choose it and love it for qualities that may not be readily apparent to me.