Thursday, July 31, 2008

Merrily We Marble Along - Day 4

Our "Noblest" teacher demonstrating the bunny hop to those in the class not old enough to remember it! What a way to start the morning! No really-- this was part of another amazing demonstration but I couldn't resist. Elin won't stand still long enough for a non - fuzzy picture. My fellow students do though!

This is the work areas of me and my closest neighbor. The flies all gravitated to my table for some reason and only attacked her when I left the area.

This is my view across the room. People are doing amazing stuff. It is fun to see that people have already actually developed styles and you can almost figure out who made some peices without knowing. I am certainly a good example of that).

I switched to green, gold and blue this morning. The gold does show but I know will really show more when it is ironed. I was amazed that all the Createx metallics floated with ease without any help from me. Today I did add a little water to all my paints though and that speeded things up a bit. I had watched Elin yesterday afternoon and she didn't wait forever for the little buttons in the middle to fan out!!

This was the blue and yellow that I just kept adding more and more color to awaiting the arrival of my penpals from Albany! I wanted them to see the process first hand! We had a GREAT visit and it was so nice to see them. It has been a long time since I have seen Sue but did get together with Betsey in NYC in the spring which was fantastic also.

This was what one of my trays looked like before I took a print. The white is a pearlescent white so should be sparkly when dry. This was moving into my purple and blue phase. I have managed to keep this size going for two days.

This is another from my green and gold period. I was merrily mixing Createx and Golden paints. I rarely if ever used any surfactant to make them float better today!

This was the remainder of my orange and red period yesterday!

The day ended with me getting totally drenched to the skin even though I (1) had an umbrella, (2) got a ride most of the way to my car and (3) drove my car back to the dorm!! That was okay though as not a drop of rain got on my trusty camera.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another "Noble" Day at QBL - Day 3

This is our "Noble" teacher demonstrating yet another technique. Just when you thought there were no more tricks, she has one more up her sleeve.

Well, lots of excitement for me today! For once, things seemed to work and I decided to keep two trays going instead of one. I did the same color palette in both. I think that I will do different palettes in the two trays tomorrow as switching from one pallette to another in the same tray makes for some mess and colors you don't want and some muddiness (at least that is what my experience was).

We got to use the paints that we had brought from home today. Now I have done quite a bit of fabric painting in the past (kind of in the Mickey Lawler or Elizabeth Busch styles). My paint of choice was always the Pro Chem pigments and their colorless extender. That way I could mix up my own colors either light or dark. I have tried others but preferred these. The last marbling class I took used Createx airbrush paints exclusively so I had a bunch of those (in opaque which is what I prefer). I also had purchased a number of Golden Liquid Acrylics some time ago but found I didn't care for them for as they are very heavily pigmented and leave the hand of the fabric a little stiff. So they have sat mostly unopened for several years.

Well today that all changed!!!! I loved using both the Createx and the Golden Acrylics -- the colors were so intense and they behaved so beautifully for me today. I really played around a lot and learned a lot but had only one piece which I LOVE but if I get one piece a day that I LOVE, I will be happy!! It is amazing to go around the room and see what people are doing and how different everyone's pieces are!

This is the only way to really begin to learn marbling -- to immerse yourself in it for days and experiment and see what you get! This will give me a winter occupation as I will definitely do more of this now!! And I can FINALLY use all those wonderful Golden Acrylics that I had. For some reason, it never occurred to me to use them for marbling!! Duhhhh...

This was a piece done by another class member (Dori)and she loved it and I did also!! Double click on it or any of these to see closeups.
Her friend Elaine did this one which I thought was quite cool also!

This was the second piece I did today and found out that the gold Createx did indeed float which was a pleasant surprise!
This was made with aged black Createx and some of the nice red from Golden which is a very rich color.

This was again using the Golden paints and was just fun and bright!

This was my favorite piece that I have done yet. I used some burnt umber, gold and an aging black to get this effect. Mixing (but not well) the brown and black gave the shadey effect. Today I had not feathering at all which I had a lot of yesterday! You just never can tell. I do like the feathering and had to do some of my own later in the day. Those pieces are still drying.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Marbellishment - Day 2

Another fantastic day at QBL! Besides the wonderful class and truly talented classmates, the weather has been delicious!! Cool breezes, some sunshine and temps in the high 70's. Doesn't get better than this at QBL -- just trying to make us feel bad that we won't be back on this campus next year!

I am learning so much and I am beginning to be able to sense how things are going to go. I don't know when I ever would have spent five days just on this one technique back in the "real world". I will have to take extensive notes to myself about how I have done things and what I am discovering although the whole technique seems to be so intuitively driven. You marble with your whole mind. Something that works one moment literally will not work at all the next so you are constantly shifting and discovering. It feels a little bit like it did when I first learned fabric dyeing and could never duplicate what I had done before -- either color or pattern. Now that is a walk in the park. Elin assures us that there is much unknown and many have spent much time trying to "tame the beast". Coincidentally, the ex of one of the woman in the group had a degree in surface tension which is what marbling is all about.

Now if I could just figure out a way (other than shaving cream) to marble with MX....... Do I sense another challenge coming on as I know it is impossible but maybe I can find a way to mimic it.......hmmmm.....

Just your random application of blue and yellow paints plus a little marbellishment.

This is again playing with the yellows and blues and using a technique of laying down the piece in waves. It is pretty subtle on this one, but the effect is there. Probably better if you blew up the picture by double clicking.

I couldn't help myself on this one. I applied the navy and tried some other colors on it and they just didn't cooperate and I really liked just the navy and white so left it alone. Again, double click to see it bigger

These three pieces were done by another RAFA member - Sarah Terry working on some orange that she just hated. Didn't they turn out well!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Marbelous Day at QBL

Well, it is the end of the first day and I am pooped already. As usual, my class is the furthest distant classroom from the dorm I am staying in. It doesn't matter which dorm I stay in, this is always the case!! Anyway, lots of walking.

Well, the class I am taking is Marbling which is a monoprinting technique which uses acrylic paints which float on a size and then you print fabric that has been pre-treated with alum (yes, the same stuff you use for pickles).

Elin Noble is the teacher and as usual she is fantastic! I have picked up enough new hints today that I have gotten my money's worth already!! That always seems to be the way with Elin's classes. She is extremely knowledgeable and totally likeable as well so her classes are always entertaining as well as filled with information! I really arrogantly wasn't sure how much I could learn new. I have marbled (mostly badly) a bit in the past so figured I would just have a relaxing week of playing. Well, it is that but I am also going with Elin's totally new approach to it which is great.

This is the classroom which is really half of the gym for the school. We have tarps and plastic everywhere!

These were my first three attempts. The middle one is my very first. If you cut very small pieces from them, they might be okay!
This is the class's output hanging on lines. Everyone seems to be doing more than me and much nicer pieces! Oh well, I am old...

I really liked this one a lot.
I thought these were very cool also.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dye Painting with Salts -- the Easy Way

When I started on this adventure to create some dyed pieces using salts, I read all the conventional wisdom on doing this including the directions on Paula Birch's website and the Pro Chemical website. Having done this with acrylic paints very successfully, I was anxious to get it to work with the Procion MX dyes as I really like the hand of dyed fabric better than painted fabric. I use pearlized paints so I knew that would never happen with the MX dyes but thought there must be some way to duplicate the salt starburst effects.

The conventional wisdom is that you need to keep the dye reaction from happening too quickly (right on) and that you need to stretch the fabric so that it is taut when applying the dyes or paints and then salts. This seemed like far too much work to me. My earliest efforts consisted of using the mixed alkali recommended by ProChemical on their site, using a dye concentration of about 5% and direct painting onto crisply ironed scoured pfd Testfabric broadcloth which was placed on plastic on my table. I worked with fat quarters and tried all different colors.

With the above, I found that the salt effects did not happen (darn) and that you could see the marks caused by the plastic (where the fabric was soaked and kind of stuck to the plastic). Anyone familiar with painting with acrylics on fabrics laid on plastic will recognize this condition! No salt effects but I still didn't want to stretch the fabric (basic laziness here).

Next, I placed a second piece of fabric (muslin) also ironed under the piece I was applying the salt and dyes too. Ahah, this worked and I got my first salt trails when using any of the blues but not much with other colors. Still too much work -- who wants to iron an underpiece of fabric that you won't use. I don't even like ironing the piece I am using (before the dyes are applied). I then decided to try to use poly fleece which wouldn't require ironing and which I could throw willy-nilly into the washer and dryer. So this is how I evolved to where I was this summer.

In this process I have also tried using print paste on the fabric first to slow down the dyes. Interesting patterns but didn't do much of anything except to lighten the piece. Also found that I like the fabric dampened a bit before I applied the dyes as they ran more smoothly. Also liked the effects of a random application of dyes (sponges rather than brushes) which I noticed ProChem now also recommends. So my process is now:

1. Pre-scour a nice quality mercerized pfd broadcloth and cut to desired size.

2. Lay down a piece of poly fleece (interfacing or felt -- something reasonably thick). Make sure there are no fold lines (like off the bolt) on the fleece.

3. Lay the fabric to be dye painted on top of the fleece (I don't even iron that fabric anymore).

4. Lightly spray the whole piece of fabric with urea water (5 1/2 tbsps urea to 1 cup of water) especially if in a dry climate.

5. Mix up your bicarb/soda ash mixture (4:1 bicarb to soda ash).

6. Mix up your dyes. For turquoise and basic blue (the only red blue), I use 10%, intense blue 6%, mixing red 2%, and the yellows and strong orange all at 5%. I estimate about 1 total cup of dye per yard of fabric. This is my basic pallette but you will find your own but it must have the blues to work (my experience). So I might put 1/4 tsp of the bicarb/soda ash mix into four different cups and then put 1/4 cup of dye into these same cups for painting. Do this at the last minute.

7. Sponge on the lighter colors first and then sponge over with the blues and mixing red (which you might weaken even more). Do this very quickly and then put lots of salt in different sizes all over.

8. If and when the piece starts to dry out a bit, then and only then cover with plastic and let batch. The temp needs to be above 70 degrees and even warmer is preferable. The pieces need to be pretty moist to begin with so I may mist with a bit more urea water if it is a very dry day out. After about 3 hours, I actually will lay another piece of fleece on top of the drying piece and do an additional piece. I will keep layering as I only have one set of tables.

9. I am a coward so I have been nuking the pieces even after they have sat for 24 hours. I nuke them for about 4 minutes per yard checking on them and rearranging after the first 2 minutes. This would also allow you to do these in the dead of winter.

I have found this process to be pretty easy and okay for my lazy dyeing. The only time you really need to move is when you are putting on the dyes and the salts. Time is of the essence here!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Last Day of Dyeing Before QBL!

Well, it was just a day of finishing up what pieces were waiting patiently to be washed out. It has rained every day during the last week and the pieces remain just as wet 24 hours after they have been batched as when they were freshly "painted". The rain has added a complication as I have been waiting until the last week I could to soak my marbled-to-be fabric for class. Now I will have to soak it and try to dry it in the house as there just has not been a day I could trust no rain. We must have had 2 inches this afternoon!

Very exciting days as today I signed an offer on a summer home down in the Carolinas which with some luck we will get (probably a lot of luck) in which case I will be arrested for Grand Theft-House. But, it is good practice as we definitely want one in the area and there seem to be several in our price range. I also found out that I will be a first time grandma during next year! Very exciting indeed!

The two last pieces I did yesterday were with leftover dyes so they were pretty random. On one piece I put some of all the different dyes I had and on the second I just put on the rest of the Basic Blue but added some folds to see what would happen.

This was all done with leftover basic blue in a pretty hefty concentration. I love the color of this dye but don't like the way it mixes with most others. Also I prefer the heavier concentration. I wrinkled this one up as it was batching and the salt trails were all over the place which made it more interesting, IMHO.

This is a shot of about a fat quarter's worth of the leftover dye piece. The next one is also the same piece. I liked the way this one turned out and there is a color for everyone in it!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More and More Rain and Some Dyeing!

Just a picture of some of Joe's pretty flowers!

These are pictures of about a 18 x 22 section of the piece. Each full sized piece is 2 yards.
This is another view of these pieces with different colors.


This is the piece that got literally soaked through and through about an hour after it was starting to batch. It is quite a bit lighter than the other pieces but I was amazed to have any color at all.

Another fat quarter chunk. This was batched a good 24 hours and then nuked for 4 minutes to top it off. It looked almost totally black before washing.

Just another view.

Well, the weather has not been at all cooperative and life has been very exciting around here besides! I did finally manage to get some pictures that looked like the fabric. For some reason, my camera (which usually takes the best pictures) rebels when it comes to fabric and I get these strange wavy lines when using the flash. So I took these from a distance and zoomed and so they are not too bad.

These are the pieces I have done over the last couple of days. Generally, I have just put some of every color on them trying to get every combination and permutation. They have all sat for at least 24 hours and then were nuked before washing out. I only nuked the last two for a total of about four minutes altogether. They were still very wet this morning as was piece yesterday. We can't seem to lose the humidity although there hasn't been that much warmth -- just a consistent 80. Two more pieces today with the leftover dyes and then a hiatus until I return from QBL in Morrisville where I do a week of marbling (and hopefully blogging as well).

Why the heck does the magnolia tree in the front of our house have a load of flowers at the end of July??

Monday, July 21, 2008

50 Ways to Tell That Dyeing has Taken Over Your Life

Often at night when trying to go to sleep, I think up top ten lists (instead of counting sheep). That is how I started this list. I have seen it repeated now on a couple of blogs but this is the original which I will update as I get more!

1. You look forward to days when the temp is in the 90's and the humidity is at least 80%.

2. You have to plan your showers ahead as you frequently run the hot water tank out of hot water!

3. You only buy clothing that is white. In fact you buy one of everything, take it home, see how well it dyes. If it passes, you go to every store in the area buying up your size and one size smaller and larger.

4. People avert their eyes when they see you in public with large bruises (really just that purple dye that got away from you).

5. All your pillowcases are tie - dyed.

6. You always spell out "d - y - e" or "d- y - e - i - n - g" when speaking in public.

7. You can recite from memory all the Procion MX pure dye colors and their numbers. You even know what the numbers and letters mean.

8. You know what every MX color discharges to.

9. You analyze every piece of commercial batik trying to figure out "how did they do that?" and then try to duplicate it.

10. You own salt in 20 different sizes.

11. You own a rainbow colored microwave which lives in your basement.

12. You know the weight in grams of every pfd fabric on the market and you own some of each.

13. You never have met a color you didn't like (and want to duplicate).

14. Your husband has to schedule when he will do his whites as there may be no hot water in the tank.

15. You contemplate dyeing that white streak in your hair green or purple or better yet multi-color.

16. You regularly check out thrift stores and ebay for old white linens and silks.

17. You wonder why everyone doesn't know the difference between dyes and paints.

18. You own pvc pipe in every diameter that is made.

19. You stalk construction sites to see if you can get 6 inch pvc pipe for your shibori.

20. You covet your neighbor's six gallon buckets as they would be perfect for your next dyeing session.

21. You try to buy all products in large plastic containers. Your husband just thinks you are being frugal.

22. You don't make homemade frosting anymore as the container that the store-bought stuff comes in is perfect for your dye solutions.

23. You can't imagine buying your dyes in anything less than 1 lb containers.

24. You seek out pool stores in winter in the cold Northeast and then buy the largest containers of pH+ they have. (They never fail to offer you a small container first for your "hot tub".) Corollary: you go around to all seasonal displays in supermarkets, Walmarts and home stores to find half priced pH+ in September. You check the label to make sure it is indeed sodium carbonate and not bicarbonate.

25. You buy a heated mattress pad to use in your dye studio.

27. You do your chores in the hour it takes for your low water immersion fabrics to batch.

28. You have to caution family members not to get too close to the edge of all your laundry sinks as they might stain their clothes.

29. If there was ever a fire in your house, you would take out your 3 1/2 inch thick dye book first as one of your treasured possessions.

30. You own every dye book ever written but never look at any of them (except for your treasured dye book).

31. You frequent home stores on a regular basis with your husband as there may always be a new brush or sponge or leftover pieces of plexiglas.

32. Your children and husband roll their eyes when they see what socks and tshirts you are wearing in public.

33. You now own a lot of black clothing as it does not show any dye stains!

34. You buy fabric 100 yards at a time. You never let the supply in your basement get below 100 yards.

35. You no longer have to look up any formulas for soda ash or urea water!

36. You have given the MSDS sheets of every color of MX dyes plus the auxiliaries to your engineer husband so he no longer believes your are trying to poison your family.

37. You treasure your dye dogs as they are just the beginning of a more interesting piece!

38. You get most of your daily exercise by running up and down the steps to check on the progress of things in the dye pots.

39. You always find something you can use in your dyeing in the dollar stores.

40. You still take classes on dyeing on the outside chance that you will learn a new or better way to do something.

41. You finally have a use for all that old pantyhose from your work days in the corporate world. (It works wonderfully for straining dyes or for scrunching fabric.)

42. Your friends and family nod politely when you start talking about your dyeing experiments.

43. You have absolutely NO problem cutting into hand dyed fabric!

44. You have been known to sit in bed and fold and refold newly dyed fabric.

45. You save all your priority mail envelopes as the Tyvek doesn't take dye and washes wonderfully so you can label all your experiments without losing the information on a heavily dyed piece.

46. You get Tyvek from all your friends as well!

47. Your local fabric store has your number on speed dial and gives it out to anyone who wants something dyed. (It should be noted that you don't do commission dyeing.)

48. You can recognize fabric you have dyed in any of the local quilt shows (or see people walking around in something you have dyed).

49. You are invited to new groups (so people can be the first to pick out fabrics they want).

50. You read Dyerslist and Complex Cloth each day without fail in case there is something new you can experiment with.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dyeing in the Rain Yet Again!

Well, I smartened up this time and reclaimed part of the garage for dyeing today! The piece that got rain soaked yesterday has happily come from the washing out and the dryer and it is okay! I can see that the part that was not soaked by the second rainfall was nice and dark. It is all spotty looking, but that is fine as I like texture. A good ironing will improve it immensely as I found out last night with my so-called "okay" pieces from yesterday. A brisk ironing was all it took to make them look more than acceptable!

Today I am again trying the pallette that I did on that piece with a little bit of an update. I spread sun yellow, golden yellow and a mix of strong orange and mixing red all over the piece leaving a few blank areas. I then took a 75%/25% mix of turquoise and intense blue and covered the whole piece, heavier in some areas than others. I have found that laying a foundation color and then putting color on top brings out the salt tracks. Have a feeling that the MX dyes just love to bond immediately with that fabric if there is no dye on it but when some of the more obvious dye sites are used up, then the colors have to wander a bit, helped by the salt.

One thing I did notice with the piece yesterday is that there are some very dark dots on it where I believe the large salt crystals were sitting enhancing the dye reaction. The rain did a very good job of dissolving almost all the salt that was on the piece, and believe me I use lots of salt. (I recycle the salt also by scraping it off the piece before I wash it out.)

The piece today is just not drying out at all!! Much too cool and damp I suppose so I will just let it be overnight and try to get some more done tomorrow. I am always anxious to see how one turns out before trying another one these days but it will take all summer at this rate. It has just been too rainy these past couple of weeks! It is amazing the effect of the urea if there is moisture in the air -- built in humidity check!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dyeing in the Rain!

This is one corner of the piece of the multi-dyed one that I did yesterday. I was very pleased with how it turned out! The picture is a bit blurry and the other one I took even worse so it will just give a taste of what it looked like -- lots of large colored flowery images in it!

Well, I didn't intend to dye in the rain but of course the showers came just as I sat down to have some lunch. Some rain got on the piece before I covered it up with plastic so we may have something a little different. Unfortunately, the plastic had blown off so we had some premature washing out of the piece!! I don't know if there will be any color left on it at all! I may use the Afterfix to try to retrieve a little color as it looks pretty washed out right now. Darn.... Well, instead of the Afterfix, I threw the soggy wet piece into the microwave and nuked it for 8 minutes (2 yard piece). I then let it cool down and it is currently soaking. There is still some color but don't know how faded it is going to look. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain again.

Poor Lisa had planned to head to the beach in NC today to treat her visiting friends to a nice weekend as well as look at some beach houses. Wouldn't you know that an unplanned tropical storm would head exactly where she was going!! So she will get to see what beach houses do in the heavy rain!! I had just turned on the Weather Channel to check on our storm situation and saw the update on NC. It couldn't have been a minute later when she called to find out about the status of Hurricane Bertha (the original threat which wasn't). I had to break the news to her that a tropical storm had risen up overnight and was headed her way! Unfortunately, she was three quarters of the way there from Charlotte where she lives.

I have the three pieces from yesterday done and am moderately pleased with them. I think the blues one suffered from not letting it be long enough. It was the last one I did and the first I washed out. I didn't like the one with the purples at all so may just overdye the whole thing with yellow although I haven't decided yet. The first one I was very pleased with (the forerunner of which is on yesterday's blog). I like the serendipitous colors you get when applying some of all the primaries in different concentrations.

Today I am doing some experimenting. I made up sun yellow, golden yellow and strong orange and sponged strong diagonal stripes on the piece covering the whole thing. Then I applied turquoise mixed with a little intense blue all over the whole piece, lighter in some areas than others. I should get some different greens and browns with this. We shall see. I really was trying to see what the sun yellow and strong orange would do as I haven't used those yet.

This is the piece when I first applied the dyes before the rains came!

You can see that the salts were beginning to work their magic.

This is what I do with the leftover dyes from a day's dyeing. This was the leftovers from last week's dyeing adventures. I had hit upon a real gold mine in KMart with these tshirts which are women's and I swear are mercerized, they take the dye so well! I have bought pfd tshirts that didn't get this rich color from week old dyes yet! This was basically some leftover turquoise and intense blue, some mixing red and then a small amount of golden yellow that I inserted in some places that looked a little white!
This is the purple and blue piece from yesterday. Looks a little splotchy to me but it isn't ironed yet.

This is the blue piece which is mostly turquoise and some intense blue. I don't think it is as rich as it could be.

Friday, July 18, 2008

High Temps = Painting with Salts Again

This is the beginning picture of what the first piece today looked like. It dried very dark but is washing out quite a bit now. We shall see tomorrow what the pieces look like! Double click on any of the photos to see them closer!

Another really hot day out there today and the sweat was pouring off my forehead as I applied dyes and salts to a 2 yard piece of fabric out in the driveway!.

This time, I kept the mixing red and golden yellow at 5% but mixed the turquoise at 10% and the intense blue at 6%. I also mixed up a batch of grape at 10% as I haven't tried that yet. I decreased the concentration of the mixing red to about 4%. Usually about two cups of dye gets applied to a 2 yard piece. Of course first I spray it all over with urea water as it is easier to apply the dyes when the surface is a little damp.

The first piece was golden yellow on first and then sponged with turquoise and mixing red. I let it get close to dry and then nuked it for about four minutes and I am letting it sit out on the line to get dry. It is quite a humid day and there is probably enough moisture to keep things going a bit although the quick microwave will probably be enough heat to get it going.

The second piece was grape and turquoise and mixing red. There was quite a bit of movement. The grape was a very high concentration but still doesn't seem to have that much color to me.

The third piece was just intense blue and turquoise. The intriguing part was that there was very interesting movement of the intense blue even before I put on the turquoise and salt. It looked like feathery fireworks. I may just do a piece like that to see how it dries.

Figured six yards was enough for today! I have covered up the second one with black plastic and then did the third piece right on top. I will nuke them both before I rinse them out!

It is very obvious to me at this point that the higher the concentration of dye, the more effect you get so I won't be shy about using my "Ann Johnston" concentrations of dyes (10-12%) which gives you the beautiful bright colors!

The next three are the absolutely stunning hibiscus that we have blooming in our front yard. There are tons of new flowers each day in salmon and red/orange. We got these at KMart and didn't see any flowers for the first month. They love this hot weather!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On the Way to Ruth McDowell Designing from Nature Class

September is fast approaching and my pre-work assignment reached me last week for the class I am taking with Ruth McDowell. The class is on designing quilts from photographs and then executing your design. Ruth McDowell has been one of my favorite art quilters and original inspirations for probably close to 25 years! When I complete this class, I will have taken classes with all of my icons from my quilt beginnings -- Michael James, Nancy Crow, Ann Johnston and finally Ruth McDowell. This is not to say that there have not been numbers of other wonderful teachers along the way but Ruth has always done such wonderful quilts!

A friend from our RAFA art quilt group attended the class last week. I was dying to hear about the class so she called and told me how great it was and how much she liked Ruth!! Yeh! She gave me many wonderful hints as well which I have already put into place today.

Today was spent trying to do my prework which was basically to put together one of the quilts from Ruth's many books. I chose the water lily from the newest piecing book as it had lots of curves and was something I liked besides! I gathered together lots of nice greens and blues and a few yellows to launch forward. First I had to trace the pattern onto freezer paper and then made another copy on tracing paper as my master pattern (probably should have just used the one from the book!). I then started picking out the blues and greens and cutting out the many many freezer paper templates to audition the fabrics I THOUGHT I wanted to use. It is a very useful exercise as I saw that I need more of a value change than I had so will do some substitutions now that I am home. I got mired in that mid range value bind that many of us get caught up in!

It was nice to catch up with Marcia and Priscilla on what they have been doing and what has been going on! I won't see them again until the August Jacket Class that Priscilla is teaching right after I get back from Quilting by the Lake (QBL).

This is the earliest positioning of fabric held up on the master pattern with pins.

This is the freezer paper drawing that will be cut up and used for templates.

This was my preliminary selection of blues and greens. I think the greens are okay but the blues were too much alike so will add some darker blues in for variety.

This was how the piece ended the day. Per a suggestion from friend Jeanne, I used double stick scotch tape (close enough to what she suggested) to tape the pieces on the master pattern. I discovered at that point that I had actually put a blue piece where a green one should be so that was corrected. I have a few more changes to make before I am satisfied even with this far. I do get it and do like the nice bright blues but think I need a couple of dark navy blues as well. The waterlillies will be yellow or pink (depending upon my stash) rather than the white ones that Ruth has in her picture.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sour Cherries are in Season - YUM!!

Well, we have already pitted 8 quarts of sour cherries and made two pies! Warren bought a new cherry pitter this year and it did an awesome job of pitting the cherries in record time and with minimum splatter! The pies were so good, we are off today to pick up two more pecks (16 quarts more). There was a bumper crop of cherries this year but there were three series of very damaging hail storms which hurt the apple crop here even more than the cherries. Some of the cherries have dings, but who cares for pies!

My cherry pies are in great demand amongst my friends and neighbors which is crazy since they are from a very basic beginner cookbook (Betty Crocker). (I suspect they just don't want to pit the cherries and flattery is everything!) This year, I have been substituting more and more Splenda for the sugar to see if there is a point when you can detect a difference. I have successfully replaced 2/3 of the sugar and there is absolutely no difference in the consistency or the taste of the pies! The next one will be 100% Splenda substitution. It certainly helps with the calories and point values for those of us doing Weight Watchers! It would be even better if I eliminated that top crust but just wouldn't be cherry pie to me anymore!

Recipe for Cherry Pie (Betty Crocker with Beth's changes) - 9 inch

4 cups pitted sour cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup Splenda (not the blend)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp almond extract

Mix together and put into prepared pie crust and cover with another. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes covering the edge of the pie crust for the first 30 minutes.

I have eliminated the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for this recipe.

This is Warren with the cherry pitter. We managed to do two pecks (16 quarts) in less than 2 hours! Pretty impressive! We got it down to a system between the two of us.
This is the first six quarts which will mean 6 cherry pies this winter. Our freezer is now full to overflowing with these cherries! I figure I have enough for about 20 pies still!