Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A New Inspiration!

Well, it has been one of those "wonderful" days of staying inside and watching the snow pile up outside my window. However, I did manage to get one much dreaded task done today which was to add the borders to the Depression Extreme Sampler. I literally didn't have an inch of fabric to spare for one of the colors. Everything in this quilt except for the natural muslin and the backing is vintage fabric so it is not like I can go buy more! It took most of the afternoon but it is done so there is some hope that I can finish it for our quilt show in June -- I am actually hand quilting this thing as I just couldn't bring myself to machine quilt a quilt of this genre.

I can't believe but I managed to get the borders onto the two "I Spy" quilts as well as pin basting one of them for future machine quilting!

But sometimes I just get inspired by reading the notes I get daily from the various digests (I was about to type dyegest and that would have been very appropriate!) They have been talking about the dangers of sprinkling dye on snow and then doing snow dyeing but another lady spoke of doing it using some other technique which she didn't identify. A little web search came up with another technique and some pretty examples of what people got sooooo...... drumroll please -- more dyeing will be coming forth these next few days! It just looked like a fun thing to do and when you are "blessed" with a foot of snow.....

So onward to "prepare" some fabric for dyeing and to make up the dyes to do it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Having Phun with Photoshop!

Well, Monday during the day was spent at lovely Marcia's studio and of course Suki was there to help me with my drawing by keeping it stable. You can see a new quilt of Marcia's in the background - a really nice variation of her jet trails.

This is my troublesome Bird of Paradise with all its quilting done but still not sitting straight. The ladies suggest I soak it and really pin it tight to get it to sit straight. If you double click on the image, you can see the details of the quilting. I also must add that I have made the transition to using Photoshop for all my pictures.
Last night was the first night of Photoshop 102 taught by the very excellent Jan Klapetsky at our local high school adult education. He coincidentally is the husband of one of the members of our quilt club! He does a really nice job of simplifying this very complex and rich piece of software. I may just have to upgrade my version to take advantage of some of the new features!

Well, scrubbing the kitchen floor is keeping me warm but is very boring so I thought I would present my first attempt at collage with Photoshop! I forgot to do some things like feathering the edges of things but managed to get a bunch of shells superimposed on the beach even with a title!

You can see that I just started my second more advanced Photoshop class and because of my computer problems, I hadn't gotten to practice my lessons from the first class -- I was really fuzzy on layers but think I am beginning to get it with a little trial and error.
Some of you may subscribe to an art newsletter by Robert Genn but thought it was worth posting one of his latest entries:

You can subscribe to his newsletter which comes out twice a week for free and I think it is worth reading. Sometimes it has no relation to anything from an art quilting standpoint, but many times the advice can easily be applied to what we do. (End of commercial!)

It is a letter he sent a few days ago about composition but just as interesting were the many replies he got from some of his faithful readers. I thought there were some great suggestions about artistic composition which is my weakest area so I literally read everything I can get my hands on.

Well, will have to work on something other than the Bird of Paradise as I managed to leave it and my winter jacket at Marcia's yesterday and there is a snowstorm heading our way tomorrow so won't be able to get it til at least Thursday now! Marcia and Bill have a rule about things left hanging on their design wall for more than three days -- something about it belongs to them after that much time! Hopefully, the snow storm will be a good enough excuse so they don't invoke that rule!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dreary Depressing Day....

This is a piece that Marcia has pulled out of her UFOs and done some additional work on! I really like this one and think the addition of the greys on the sides works really well.

Cold and gray does nothing to improve my attitude or inspire me to get moving on various projects. My instinct is to climb under a blanket and sleep! However, I have managed to move forward and almost complete the Bird of Paradise. I have quilted the heck out of it and it still doesn't lie flat. I have measured it, ironed it and done everything but take pleats in it (I am not beyond doing this extreme measure). It should be flat on front -- the back is flat. That will teach me to mix those pesky high thread count balis in with the nice stretchy stuff! I used some nice firm balis to make the stems which go diagonally across the piece and I think therein lies the problem!

Onward to the next piece though. I had a wonderful day at Marcia's last Wednesday working on the drawing for my next endeavor which will be capturing a great blue heron in fabric. This one will not have any real curves in it and I hereby make a promise to myself to carefully mark the grainlines on all the 8 million pattern pieces! I almost finished the drawing although I have not yet decided what I will use for background. I will take my freezer paper and my crayons tomorrow so I can mark all the tic marks and outline the major areas for piecing. It is a little difficult to see but here is the beginnings of the drawings on a 3 foot by 4 foot piece of tracing paper.

Tomorrow I will take my Bird of Paradise piece for some serious consultation with whomever shows up along with Marcia! It will be another day of basically drawing though which is a great use of Marcia's wonderful studio space.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Top is Done and So Am I!

This small piece was the original piece I did using this drawing. It was appliqued onto a hand dyed piece of brown. I think this newer version below is a lot more vibrant than the original. If you look closely, you can see some of the actual changes in the drawing as well!

Well, the groups of pieces went together just fine but getting the piece finally put together was not pretty at all... I may have made one change too many or one too many Y-seams but many seams were stitched and re-stitched and it still doesn't sit as flat as my pelican did. I am hoping that quilting will bring the piece back into line!

The piece measures about 36 inches by 42 inches right now. It uses some of my marbled and hand dyed fabric as well as commercial fabrics. Who knows how big it will be after I do the "real" cropping.

I am relatively pleased with how the piece looks now that it is done. I re-pieced several parts completely that I had already done so that took extra time. I HATE undoing stitching and redoing it but I wanted this to look how I envisioned it so there was much restitching!

In my defense, I must say that I did the drawings for this piece long, long before I took the Ruth McDowell class and didn't redo some of them until I was into the piecing. The changes I made won't be obvious to most but made me happier! These involved basically undoing leaves that I had finished piecing. Instead of using two or three prints in a leaf, I decided to piece the leaves so that there were many greens making them up. Now, this is NOT what the leaves looked like but I did maintain the shape!! I also took out several of the leaves that were in the original drawing, taped them back together and made background instead adding stems where appropriate.

As everything else around here, we have a free-spirited "Christmas" cactus and I use that term loosely as it has never bloomed for us on Christmas but this year came the closest so we didn't have to call it an Easter cactus or Memorial Day cactus -- this year it is a Chinese New Year's cactus. It certainly is filled with blossoms though!! I am thinking that it has a hippie karma left from my youngest daughter!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester RAFA Opening Reception

Well, last night was a highly successful opening of our RAFA show for 2009! Thirty-three artists were represented this year showing quilt art, doll art and even felting and a hooked rug! When I left at 8 (an hour before closing), 211 people had visited. This was truly amazing in view of the fact that the temps and wind chills were in the single digits and below!

Pat Pauly (in black and white with her back to you in the above picture) did a wonderful job of directing the hanging of this show as we over-achieved on how many pieces were hung!

Here Jeanne Beck and Janet Root are talking with a visitor about their quilts. You can see my pelican watching over everyone in the background!

This is a doll created by doll artist Debra Pope who is a fairly new group member and a wonderful artist.

These were pieces by Pat Pauly and Ren Vasiliev respectively. Ren's academic specialty in geography is evident in her works. She travels extensively, keeps up a blog as well as a full time college teaching job and makes this wonderful art!

This is the back wall where my pelican is hanging in excellent company! The piece below is by Barb Magin, next to me is Jeanne Beck and then the whimsical giant frogs are by Julie Brandon who is also an accomplished doll artist!
This is a closeup of the piece that Jeanne Beck did. Double click to see all the detail that really draws you in. Her background as a writer is becoming more and more evident in her pieces!

This was the largest piece in the exhibit by Linda Bachman who is basking in the Florida sunshine while we freeze!

This was the wall in the other room which has Bev's piece on top made from her own shibori dyed fabrics, Pat Berardi's African inspired piece and Barb Seil's piece also containing many of her own hand-dyed pieces.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of many of the toy sewing machines which decorated our food table. They were there courtesy of our own Janet Root.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Moving Right Along!

Well, staying inside yesterday was definitely a good idea! It snowed most of the day and then more at night although light and fluffy but it is sooooo cold, the roads are not good. The sun is brightly shining this morning so hopefully the roads will be okay for the Opening Reception of our exhibit at the Rochester Area Council for the Arts.

However, the house is warmer upstairs on days like yesterday so I spent most of the afternoon and evening working on the Birds of Paradise piece and make some significant progress. Of course, I am now at the stage where I wish I had done some things differently and did an "audible" yesterday afternoon and changed one aspect. There are some other things I may change today as well. When I work and touch a piece, it really starts telling me what to do after awhile. As following directions as never been my strong point, it is amazing that I do listen to the pieces I am working on!
As you can see above, I have finished the upper half and am now struggling with the middle and the lower right corner where I am making a lot of changes as I go along. Hopefully, it will all fit back together again at the end!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

10 Degrees and Falling!!

My tan does look a little weird when there is snow piled everywhere and where the high today was a whole 10 degrees. That will be considered warm, we are told, by Friday....

Anyway, it was a great day to work in Marcia's studio on my Bird of Paradise piece. I made some progress today plus helped solve some of our world's problems (probably the ones of lesser significance!) We had a good group of four plus our gracious hostess and host. Poor Marcia had to work again on real computer stuff so that put a damper on the day for her. Not a lot of piecing got accomplished at her end of the room but she did help solve the world problems between customer calls!

This was a piece that Priscilla (our resident non-quilter -- haha) made and which the ladies convinced her to send to SAQA. It has beautiful beading on it which is hard to see unless you double click on this image. Thanks heavens she has lots of fabric from Thousands of to work from!!

This is a piece that Marcia had hidden away but which she is resurrecting. She is adding some more grey to the white areas on the side -- I really like this one with its unusual color pallette.

This was the piece that Jeanne started in the Nancy Crow workshop and I really liked the colors in this one as well! Unusual and very striking.

Priscilla was working on the wolf quilt which is getting finished plus starting on a Parrot Quilt -- all of us had an opinion on the direction that should take but I know Priscilla will pick the best solution and will come up with a great composition.

Pat had used one of her pieces as a pattern to create a new piece that is more in Pat's style as opposed to Nancy's plain colored fabrics.

I was of course working on my Bird of Paradise which was derived from a couple of pictures I took in California of my favorite flower. I had used those pictures as the basis for an applique version of this quilt about 7 years ago. I had always wanted to do a pieced version and change things a bit. I am trying to use many of the techniques I learned in Ruth's class but am unquestionably adding my own way of doing things. In Ruth's class alot of time was spent auditioning fabrics -- I really don't do that at all. I pull out a few, see if they go together in one small spot and go for it!! If I don't like it later, then I applique over in small areas or rip it out if I haven't gone too far. I tend to work in sections as you will see from my photos.

Above was my piece as it started the day. The bottom right corner had been finished and I had pinned up background fabrics around the rest of the piece to get some idea of whether I liked the mix or not.

This is how the piece looked at the end of the day with the bottom left corner filled in and progress made on the leaves and one of the flowers. It is really like a jig saw puzzle when you start putting some of the curvy skinny pieces back together again. Seems okay so far and definitely better than my earlier version of this drawing!!

Have to decide what to do next as I am getting down the home stretch with this one and I have three or four days of freezing, freezing cold and I will just sit inside and work on it!! The leftover pot roast certainly tasted good tonight!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back to the Studio for the New Year!

It was so good to get back to Marcia's and join with Priscilla in a wonderful day of solving the world problems and getting some sewing done. Unfortunately, her beloved horse became very ill while we were there so we didn't see as much of Marcia as we would like but Bill kept us up to date on what was happening.
As we left, the full moon was brightly shining through the trees even though it was still daylight. I couldn't resist a couple of pictures.

This is Priscilla's Wolf quilt which is just beautiful and a stunning tribute to this beautiful animal. I was lucky to see one in the wild in Alaska (although not at Yellowstone). I had to capture the Singer Featherweight which is also my machine of choice for this travelling piecing!

This is a closeup of one of the cross-stitched pieces on the quilt. Notice the wolves all facing to the left.
This wolf is looking right at you and is definitely the focal point of the quilt. She had to eliminate some of her selections because the wolves were facing in the wrong direction!!

This is the front of Priscilla's "Jacket from Hell" as she affectionately calls it. She was desparately trying to give either Marcia or I the pattern for the jacket yesterday but we weren't falling for it!

This is the back of the jacket. The jacket is literally just one piece and therein "lies the rub".

This is a piece that Marcia recently finished quilting and I love the colors and the feeling of the piece -- very soothing.
This is the first of my two hexagon tops. If you look closely (by double clicking), you will see family pictures in the hexagons as well as many different critters and "stuff". I tried to add things that would be meaningful to the family in both of these two hexagon quilts. Different novelty fabrics were included from local as well as email pals! I must have had close to 600 different prints in the end!!

This is the depression quilt put back together. I quilted by hand 70 of the blocks so far and now just have to do the blocks on the outside and the two middle rows -- this adds up to 62 blocks and I also have to add the borders yet and quilt those. Hmmmm -- will it get done in time for our quilt show? Double click to see the detail of these blocks. As I have mentioned before, all but the backing and the natural colored muslin were vintage fabrics. The blocks are all 30's era blocks as were derived from a quilt I saw on ebay and the patterns sold by I never finished all the blocks in the original quilt and added a few of my own that I got out of Electric Quilt's Barbara Brackman CD which contains the derivations of all the blocks.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Snowy World.....

Welcome to my dreary, snowy world in Upstate NY in January!! Makes you just want to curl in a ball and stay inside under a blanket.

Ah, this is more like it!! These next two are pictures left over from my month in Florida. The first is the everpresent skink that runs for cover anytime you go on the pavement. You see dozens of these scurrying anytime you are walking.

This was a particularly daring great egret who decided to take a full-fledged bath in the swimming pool until I chased him out as I wanted to swim!
Today was our January meeting of the Genesee Valley Quilt Club and, despite the lousy weather, we had quite a showing of people although most of our "southerners" (south of the thruway) were missing! The snow was pretty nasty this morning -- I managed to plow the car into a snowbank less than two blocks from the house but did no damage (only going 5 mph after all).
This was a top that Nancy Levant finished using the patterns we had at Fall Migration this year. When I finally get around to it, I plan on using this pattern as well with a whole bunch of black and white prints I have accumulated.

Ever creative Nancy used the leftovers from the previous project to create these two small quilt tops.

This was a very nice two sided quilt which featured lots of fussy cut fabrics.

This was a huge very lovely Burgoyne Surrounded variation done by one of the club members. I was in the back of the room taking pictures as best I could and didn't get all the names.

This was an exceptionally lovely paper-pieced star quilt.I just loved the colors!

This was Pat Jeanmarie doing a demo of improvising on the block from a book by Sandi Cummings. She covered a lot in the 12 minutes she had to present. We had a total of 8 different presentations, and there was time for all of us to go to 5 different ones. As usual, they were all well done and contained lots and lots of hints for making your quilting more fun and better!! Janet Root never fails to teach us something new, no matter how long we have quilted!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Finally Functioning and New Year's Resolution!

Transitions are just a pain! After our wonderful month in Florida, we had to unpack and attempt to organize some of the chaos we left behind in Rochester in November! Trying to get ready to leave left my sewing room unworkable and returning home has left my bedroom a cluttered mess with laundry etc!

Lisa has been left off at the airport (5:30 this morning) and things are beginning to reach some semblance of normalcy again. My marbling stuff is calling to me as I made that trip past the table to get to the freezer again. Of course the table was also a mess but it is now ready yet again minimally!

It's time for those pesky New Year's resolutions and I usually put a bit of thought into them as I have been very successful the past few years at making some small changes (always having the dishes done by bedtime, always having my clothes on first thing in the morning and committing myself to finishing traditional quilt projects and not starting more). This year it will be to clear out at least one box a month of "stuff" to go to Good Will, quilt friends or trash. Hopefully, by the end of the year I will be ahead and some of the clutter will be gone!!

My computer is now fully functional again thanks to those nice folks at the Geek Squad who made it all better (and I didn't even have to spend anything). I also have managed to "rip" a lot of my cds to MP3 files and now have several hours of music on my MP3 player (a new Christmas present). Now, I ask you, how would anyone over 30 know that converting audio files to MP3 files is called "ripping" and that you use the Microsoft Media Player to do it. Each Christmas I seem to have some sort of new technology challenge which I generally overthink!!

Would you believe I actually wrote a fan letter to Google because I was able to use Gmail to get at my files and send them to myself so that I didn't lose anything with the Vista ick. I found I could also click on the attachments in my Gmail notes and use Word and Excel as well while in Gmail! Now, why can't Microsoft be more like that?