Friday, July 14, 2017

Is it a Quilt? Is it Quirky? Yes to Both!

This quilt creation (yes, it is a quilt- three layers with quilting to secure it) doesn't have a name yet. That's because I'm still speechless over it. Maybe that should be its name? Speechless. It began as a class project taught by Dianne Hire at the American Quilters Society show in March. When I walked into Dianne's classroom and saw all of her class samples, I thought, "Oh, this is going to be great fun!" And it certainly was.

Dianne may be the Queen of Quilt Enhancement given her creative addtions of curvies, tabs, dangly things. All of them are stitched and inserted into the seams of a pieced base. And then comes the embellishment of the enhancements! There are two felted beads made in a mini-class in my Fiber Art Bee group, along with other beads and bits I've collected along the way.

There are two more little geckos like this one hiding in the layers of the quilt. Can you spot them all?

Even the smallest scraps and figurative motifs can find a home in this style of quilt. Add some black and white prints for accent, and the whole piece invites you to lift, inspect, and examine it. I know I'll make at least one more of these projects! Oh, and by the way, the display rod is a simple dowel cut to size, painted with black craft paint, and dotted with white Posca Paint pen. Two wooden beads glued to the ends, and I've got a lightweight hanger that coordinates. Below are some of Dianne's class samples and the inspiration for elements to add to the project.

You can hardly count the layers and elements in this quilt. Dianne also uses stacked beads and buttons along with broken jewelry like those banana-shaped yellow beads on the dangling flower.

Prairie points, large and small, and tabs upon tabs- so much to look at in Dianne's quilts!

Also, the Queen of Curvy Piecing, you can see (almost) how the base piece has irregular shapes pieced together before the dangling bits are added. Even those have curved seams. Dianne's book is show below.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Home Sweet Home ...

This quilt is an ages-old project I began and allowed to "vacation" in the quilt closet with other unfinished projects. It's a pattern from Pat Sloan's book Berry Hill Quilts. I love her folk-art style and find house quilts appealing in general. And what can I say about the pomegranates? So graceful and pleasing. The quilt is machine appliqued using the buttonhole stitch to secure the edges of the pieces. AND I was determined to machine quilt this one myself. That's where I got bogged down.

As you can see, there are many elements and lots of colors used in the design. That meant a lot of thread changes and design motif changes throughout the quilting. Progress slowed to a crawl. But finally Pat Sloan came to our guild for a lecture and to teach a class. I showed her the progress on the quilt, but also noted that I was dissatisfied with my machine quilting and wondered if I'd ever finish. She encouraged me to keep on going, commenting that often we are harder on our work than others might be. So on I went, stitching away doggedly, heading for the finish line.

Then I discovered the Invisi-fil thread (also used here) that is lightweight and that blends so well with many colors. That was just the ticket. I was able to finish the quilt at last! I can't call it my best effort ever, but the quilt makes me happy and it hangs in our dining area. And I've convinced myself that there is a size limit to quilts I plan to quilt on my home machine!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's Paper Week...

It's become necessary to declare "paper week", or "quilt week", or "mixed media week" in the sewing room. That's because every interest requires its own set of supplies and it would not be good to have paints out when I'm quilting (unless, of course, it's an art quilt in process!). To say nothing of the myriad bits and pieces of paper, fabric, and trims that threaten to overtake the space nearly every day. I signed up for Toni Burt's online class called Wrapped in Vintage. The project I chose to work on is a mix of paper, sketch, stencils, and paint on a fabric journal cover. So the paper scraps flew as I put together this collage cover with a pretty girl on it.

This is the back cover. One nice feature of Toni's method is that she seals the covers with Dorland Wax Medium which gives the piece a lovely leather-like finish. You almost can't stop picking the journal up just for the feel. She provides thorough instructions in her class videos.

Remember this pair of fabric journals made in a fold-up pocket style and designed to hold (and tame) loose pages and bits not to be bound into a book? I showed them here earlier this year. The Fiber group invited me to do a demo on how to made them. Later, a few of the members brought their pocket memory journals to a show-and-tell.

Merri McKenzie, one of the members, made her lively version shown here. I love her colors and the use of rick rack.

This is the reverse side. Lots of pockets to serve as a repository for more art work. Her imaginative and colorful approach made for a fun journal.

Here's the cover when the journal is all folded closed. I love her style.

And for yet another pocket, I found a free tutorial on Roben-Marie Smith's blog for making this paper mixed-media art pocket. It began as a brown paper bag that got painted,stamped, stitched, glued, and layered. I decided to use it as a gift holder for a friend's birthday. I'm also taking another of Roben-Marie's online classes for making a pop-up fringe journal that starts with a file folder. Next week, it's back to "quilt week" as I have some challenge quilt projects to get underway. My sewing/craft room is most definitely my happy place!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This Quilt Was Fun...

What do you do with accumulated fabric scraps? I cut them into strips and then found Bonnie Hunter's easy tutorial for making Scrappy Trips quilts. After sorting the strips, I kept them in the sewing room and stitched them up in between other projects. Soon there was a nice pile of the blocks, but still no plan for putting them together. But then I pulled this panel from my fabric stash- it's Madonna Lily by Frond Design Studios. The colors in the blocks and in the panel seemed made for each other, and this joyful quilt titled "Our Lady" just invented itself. It took some engineering and there are some missteps in its construction, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. We even have the right wall to hang it on.

The imagery is just beautiful, as you can see in this close-up photo. Frond Design Studios has some very unique fabric and panels available in quilt shops. I found this one while visiting Quilter's Store Sedona a few years ago, and it's been waiting for its turn in a project ever since. The longarm machine quilting was completed by Debra Johnston. Her challenge was to decide how to quilt the center panel and blend in the quilting for the pieced blocks. She used gold thread and swirling designs in the block, contrasted with more straight-line quilting for the image. She did well I think!

This year, while visiting Sedona, I found this four-block "Inner Faith" panel by Robert Kaufman Fabrics at the shop. I'm not sure how I'll use this one, but am thinking the red block may become the label on the back of "Our Lady". So many quilt ideas, so little time! The ideas flow way faster than the execution of them. But we'll see where these wind up.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gone to the Dogs...

Here's the end result of my projects made from quilter Pauline Salzman's pattern and instructions. She taught a class at our guild which I unfortunately missed due to illness. But she was kind enough to provide the materials for me to give it a try on my own. Pauline is known for her whimsical pet quilts, and bases many designs on her Weimaraner dogs. Our rescue dog Scooter resembles the breed in head shape, so my project became a portrait of him. The link above is for some Pinterest images of Pauline's quilts. With the pattern, she also sent one of her wonderful postcards, shown below.

 The post card is shaded with some fabric markers. Mighty cute!

 For this project, I decided to do some free-motion machine quilting. I'd discovered InvisaFil thread at a quilt show, and was interested in trying it. The thread is very fine and blendable. Rather like monofilament, but not stiff and pokey like the nylon can be. It's described as "cottonized polysester". It's so fine, that it did require some special handling to use it successfully in my machine. So I placed the thread spool in a cup behind the machine as it wanted to spill off the spool pin on the machine. Then to achieve the proper tension, I rigged up the pink straw section you see on top on the machine above. It's taped in place and the thread runs through it just to give it a bit more tension and guidance than the regular thread guides offered. Once that was done, I was ready to proceed. You can barely see the thread coming through the straw- that' how fine it is.

So I stitch-doodled and stippled my way around the dog image. And I really like how the thread looks. It made my free-motion quilting look "not half-bad", as the saying goes.

I've been away from my blog for some time as we've also been away from home. We traveled to Phoenix, Sedona, Prescott, and Wickenburg, Arizona. A lovely trip with wonderful sights. In Scottsdale arts district I happened onto this cactus sculpture covered with found objects.

And we stayed for a couple of nights in the beautiful red rock area of Sedona. These photos were taken from the balcony just outside our hotel room door. Because the sun hits the rocks at different angles throughout the day, the rocks are constantly changing. These shots were late afternoon. Such a beautiful area.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oh, the Things You See...

I feel a bit like a "Grandma Moses" of art journaling. Many years ago I enjoyed doing a lot of different crafts, but finally told myself "Pick one!" because there just was so little time or space for multiple hobbies while teaching and raising our family. So I chose quilting at the time. However, in retirement, I have more leisure time and have discovered an interest in mixed media art journaling. I never tried it before, but have really enjoyed exploring the supplies and techniques. It helps that I enroll in online classes in order to learn what to do and how to do it. My most recent class is a 16-week one called One BADASS Art Journal 2017. Each week a new artist guides us through a lesson. Tiare Smith is the organizer of the class and she taught the dream girl above which includes the use of a floral napkin in the composition. So I'll share a little peak into my art journal here.

The second week was about using black backgrounds and adding texture with modeling paste. Fun!

And then we learned to make our own art papers, create compositions with them, and add doodles for interest. There's lots more to come as we are not even half way through the course.

We've traveled about some lately, too, so I have not been blogging as much. But I'm always taken by the scenes and things you see when traveling. This lovely entry is part of a large Thoroughbred horse farm in our area. We're always happy to drive by at night when it's lit so beautifully. Very inviting, don't you think?

And we met some friends in Dunedin, FL, near Tampa recently. The community has some nice art installations around town. I just love the colors and graceful lines of this one.

These dolphins are also displayed around town and are done by different artists in different styles.

One night we were driving at sunset and saw this magnificent anvil cloud. Just amazing.

I always notice cars and love vintage ones. But I'd never seen anything quite like this one. It's so customized that I can't figure out what it started out life as. Those gray areas are a brushed finish and it drew a lot of attention there in the parking lot. You just never know what surprises are in store when you are out and about! Phone cameras are just the best for recording those special sights.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Breath of Spring...

When my daughter and my husband admired a quilt similar to this one at a quilt show last fall, I decided to make one to display on the wall in her home. It's such as easy design and yet evokes that pleasant feeling of looking through a window at a pretty view. The quilt starts with a fabric panel landscape scene. Making it requires just enough math to determine the size of the rectangles that can be cut from the panel so you'll know how many rows and columns there will be in the quilt. And the best thing of all is that Jenny Doan of The Missouri Star Quilt Co. has a helpful tutorial to guide you through the math. So once that's out of the way, cutting and sewing the quilt moves right along quickly.

Another good thing about her method is that there are no set-in seams. Traditionally the Attic Windows block requires a Y-seam or set-in seam at each corner where the lattice pieces come together. That's often tricky. But this method relies on half-square triangles at one end of the lattices and you can hardly see the seams, giving it a set-in look without the challenge. I've seen a few other panels that would lend themselves to this type of quilt, including a Santa-through-the-window one and a western-themed one with horses on a roundup. Now that this one is finished, I may decide it's not my last Attic Windows quilt!

I'm heading off to the AQS quilt show in Daytona for a couple of days, so perhaps my shopping with include another panel or two. I'll also be taking a class, so will post photos soon. Ahhh, Springtime!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Say Hello to Q...

 And say good-bye, too. Q (yes, that's his whole name!) is retiring after 14 years of service as a therapeutic riding "instructor".  Q is a Paint horse that husband Jack purchased long ago. He planned to work with him and show him at horse shows. However, as they worked together, Jack could see that Q was a good, patient, and cooperative boy but he didn't have the moves he'd need to be competitive at shows. He was just four at the time, and Jack considered whether to keep him on our farm as a trail horse. But what he decided was to offer Q to the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, a non-profit that uses horses to assist riders of all ages who have limitations. Although they don't often accept horses that young, the staff could see the Q had the kindness and qualities that would make him of benefit to the program. So for the last 14 years, he has been a faithful steed to dozens of riders. And now it's time for him to enjoy a retirement. That called for a party!

A large turnout came to enjoy the celebration, and Q was offered the first piece of cake. Sugary treats are not usual for the horses, but this was his day so an exception was made. He was not impressed and preferred the carrots and horse treats instead.

Here's the cake a baker at Publix designed for Q, using a photo of him. She got the color and his distinctive white face just right. And this is actually individual cupcakes assembled into a portrait, so the it was easy to serve. Nicely done!

You can see that he was a little tentative about his cupcake, but did get frosting on his nose.

This happy staff member got to take Q to her farm where he will reside for his retirement. She'll trail ride with him, and he has a pasture mate to enjoy hanging out with. We also offered that if she's unable to care for him for any reason, he is welcome to return to our farm. Have a nice life, Q! Your retirement is well-earned.

I've not written a post for this blog for some time as I was visited by whatever bug was making the rounds this month. Just getting my spark back now. But there was certainly a bright spot while I was feeling badly- this wonderful fiber valentine arrived from friend Robbie of Robbie's Paw Prints blog. She makes a number of these every year and surprises friends with her happy mail! You can read about how she made these delightful pieces here.

Even though I was a bit lackluster, and didn't go near the sewing machine for a couple of weeks, I did manage to make this little art journal. It's the first of 16 lessons in Tiare Smith's One BADASS Art Journal 2017 online workshop. Book artist Kiala Givehand was the instructor, and she's an excellent teacher with lots of ideas. I used a Gelli printed piece of canvas for the cover on this journal, but have another cover underway as well. You know I'm a big fan of online classes, and this one is no exception. More to come!

 And once I was feeling up to par, we took a day trip to St. Augustine. It was a lovely day to stroll around the historic downtown, and there are pretty courtyards and restaurants tucked in and among the historic buildings. This restaurant just looked so appealing with its painted chairs and greenery. Couldn't you just walk right in?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Isn't She Lovely?

Sort of? She started life as one of four designs on a fabric panel by Alexander Henry Fabrics called "The Ghastlies." You can see her friends below. They just made me chuckle and reminded me a bit of the Addams Family. Do you remember them? "They're creepy and they're kooky; mysterious and spooky; They're all together ooky, The Addams Family." That was their theme song. I dressed her up a bit by using fabric markers, colored pencils, glitter glue, silk flowers, glitzy trims and beads. Then she was stitched and stuffed with fiber-fill up top and white rice on the bottom to allow her to stand upright without toppling over. She's a tall, willowy beauty. She was such a fun project, that our Fiber Art Bee is going to do a challenge based on the Ghastlies. Members will each get one of the characters and then use it in an embellished project- a doll, pillow, wallhanging- whatever they want. It should be fun to see what creative ideas flow and to see them all together! But I think this girl needs a name now that she is done. Any suggestions?

Here's what the panel looks like. And now that she's had her makeover, you can get a glimpse of the "before" photo.

Here are the other two figures included in one panel- a pouty, angry woman, and a family with questionable parenting skills. They just make me laugh. This is not a new fabric line, but one released in about 2011 or so. There are some other coordinating prints that go with.

I thought I'd also show you this. I have a number of mixed media projects that hang. So many that I was running out of door knobs to hang them on. So I spotted some small, clear Command hooks in the office supply aisle. It occurred to me that they would work way better than cup hooks or anything more permanent to suspend the pieces from  the ceiling. These now occupy one happy corner of the sewing room- a small forest of birds, hearts, and snippet rolls. I'm sure I'll add more.