Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Threads

I put in an order with Thread Art.  They sell polyester embroidery threads with a nice sheen that are strong enough for quilting.  They are not that expensive as embroidery thread goes, and I've been able to build a nice palette / stash of thread colors in the last few years that is within my budget.  [Still waiting for the fancy and expensive thread companies to gift me a set of threads to make art with ...   ;-)]    

I said these threads quilt up beautifully.  I've been using them for the past couple of years, and have been very happy with them overall for this purpose.   They also work for embroidery and threadpainting.     Here's another one showing how it quilts up on Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly batting :

I am currently working on quilting Rosita's Wedding Ring Quilt.  The rings are so colorful, I thought one of these variegated threads would be suitable to quilt the rings.  Maybe that orange/melon?

This time I purchased the set of 25 Variegated Polyester Threads.  
Look at these colors up close :

I was burned a while back when I bought a set of Madiera rayon embroidery threads, but they just didn't last.  I was nearly in tears one weekend trying to figure out what was wrong with my machine ...  until I finally realized that the rayon thread had gone bad.  It wasn't me, or my machine, or the needles.  It was the rotton and brittle rayon thread.  Still beautiful colors, but you can break it off of the spool.  Not fit for sewing anymore.  Now I use them in  my composed fabrics as splashes of color. 

This time, I purchased the ThreadArt  Set D -- as I already had sets A, B, and C which I bought as a larger set of 120 spools on a Black Friday deal a few years ago for about $1 a spool.  All those luscious colors!  Set D is supposed to be the "blues & neutrals." 
Here's what ThreadArt says about Set D : 

"This extension set called our Brilliant set will increase your selection of blues and neutral colors of thread. Sometimes we forget to collect the neutral shades of thread because they are not the pretty one. Add this set to your thread collection and you will have the colors you need on hand. Plus, this set is not all boring. It has some really pretty blues to enjoy."

I don't have the thread stand that is pictured above.  I did have one -- gave it a try, but I just don't have the space for it in my sewing studio.  Instead, I use those scrap-booking boxes.  The threads stand up so I can see the colors from the top and the boxes are easily transportable to Quilt Camp or classes.  Since the boxes are covered, it also keeps dust out, so they stay clean, too. 

Warm Colors

Friday, April 15, 2016

Liberate Your Art 2016 Postcard Swap and April Blog Hop

Hope in Winter

For the past 4 years, I've participated in Kat Sloma's annual Liberate Your Art Post Card Exchange, where she encourages us to print our art, and exchange it with other creatives around the world.  After all, the world needs more art!

The card above is the one I sent out this year.   It's a late winter photo taken in the park next to our house, then overlayed with several coffee-stained textures (that I also made myself with real coffee and paper), with a few other treatments in Photoshop Elements.  It was quite the culmination of my creative abilities -- really a part of and from me.  Really neat to see it professionally printed and "living" in the real world as opposed to strictly digital.  Learn more about how I created Hope in Winter, including the PhotoShop processing recipe with before and after pics.  It was quite a transformation!

This year, I decided to send out 5 copies of the same card, as I thought it would be easier to track where they landed.  So far, I've heard from the following people in these corners of the world :

1)   Tina Walker in Salt Lake City, Utah, at A Dog's Life Blog
2)   Louise Mamet-Berthereau in The Loire Valley, France
3)   Sheila del Gado in California - She actually got 2 of these trees as I sent an extra-side-swap (all the other side-swaps did not get the tree), never dreaming she would have gotten one in the official swap.  What are the odds?
4)  Michelle Sweetnam in Alexandia, VA
5) ??

These are the cards I received in the official swap :

An orchard in Northern California.
On the back is the quote : "There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude - a quiet joy.  Sometimes you just need a break in a beautiful place alone to figure everything out."
I think this might be my new "happy place!"   

The quote says : "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we're curious and curiousity keeps leading us down new paths.  -- Walt Disney

From Delphine Skinner in  nearby Madison, WI
Photographed on our wood pile, as our outside is also white with snow.

From Karen Kuhlman in Durham, NC. 
"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
She says she's learning to paint snow with a palette knife, so I photographed it on a snowy-ish looking quilt.

From Susan in Clona Kitty, West Cork, Ireland.

"I'm slowing down the tune
I never liked it fast
You want to get there soon
I want to get there last"
-- Leonard Cohen

And this is the card that Kat Sloma, the organizer of the event, sent out to everyone this year. Gorgeous and dreamy ...

Thank you ladies for filling the world with more beauty!

Every year, I've had the good fortune to do a few extra side-swaps, beyond the official 5 cards given and received.  Here are the extra side-swaps exchanged this year.  I've exchanged with some of these people in the past, and we've kept up the tradition.  Some of them are new ...  some discovered in the FB Group.  It's easy to contact people to set up a side swap -- especially if you really like their work, and vice versa!

from Sarah Calhoun in Atlanta, Georgia 
A mosaic made of re-purposed and re-cycled materials from Howard Finster's Paradise Garden.
Reminds me of the pot-shard pavements in Ile-Ife.  ;-)   Order out of chaos!

From Snap Lane in Houston, TX.  
She has a pond with beautiful water lilies (Lotus?) and eight fish, so I photographed it atop my old pond (not set up this year yet) with some aquarium glass and the ghosts of my own water lilies and goldfish of summers past.

This gorgeous card came from Janice Darby in California.  It was a work done in tandem with with grand-daughter.  I absolutely LOVE the art Janice creates.  It's photographed here on top of a small cathedral windows quilt I made, meant to complement the colors.  

This one is from Sherry Harmes in Larsen Bay, Alaska.  
Photographed here atop a stepping stone -- a suitable foundation for home-building.  Sherry has a connection to Oshkosh as she took an internship here at the local state mental health institute, many years ago. 

From Sheila Del Gado in San Bernadino, California.
Flower to Flower.

From Deb Keyworth in England.
She likes bikes (as you can tell), and asked for my postcard of the bike in France.

Want to see more?
Kat created a video showcasing many of the wonderful postcards in this year's swap :

Kat's post about the 2016 Liberate Your Art Celebration.

There's also a FaceBook Event Group where you can see more and interact with other participants.  There are multiple sideswaps happening, too.

Check out my LYA blog posts from previous years.
Thanks for stopping by my corner of the web.

Have a wonderfully creative year!

The Blog Hop happening April 15 - 17, 2016.

See where our art landed.  It kind of feels like tossing the cards up into the air and then waiting to see where they land around the world ...  Join us for a trip around the world :

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Missives from Quilt Camp - Spring 2016

Officially finished Aidin's Quilt.  Just needed to add the "secret messages" in the borders.
There will be a separate post documenting the making of that quilt, to be posted after it has been gifted to the young man.

Not much contrast as it's meant to be a "secret message," therefore subtle.

Finished putting together Rosita's Wedding Ring Quilt for her grand-daughter.  Even added another row (4x4).  Not nearly so hard as it might have been, as long as you use the notches to mark the centers, pin and take your time (go slow ...).  It went much faster than I thought it would have -- It was all together by 3 pm on Saturday with me wishing I'd brought some batting and my basting boards so I could envelope it, and start on the quilting.  Another day ...  Can't find the photo taken at quilt camp.  Seems to have disappeared into the ether.  ;-(

Polar Bear and ice flow are assembled.  Couldn't bring myself to start stitching down the applique part  -- sometimes I need a good breather between one stage and the next of any given project.


1 sheet of composed fabric made from scraps from Aidin's Quilt in blues, purples, grays with a few other scraps.  The quilting in lines was inspired by LuAnn Kessi's Quilting Journals.  This is also good practice for me for free-motion quilting.  Destined to be journal covers later in the summer.  Also considering making small beaded art quilts out of them, too -- Larkin Van Horn Style.

This was at Silver Birch Ranch outside of Langlade, WI, not far from where I grew up.  Ma sat across the table from me.  Nice to spend the time together, even if we didn't talk much. 

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Sirena Blue - Variations on a Theme

Playing with PhotoShop Elements 14 and Topaz this afternoon.

Wow!  I love the way this turned out!
The original image, with Topaz Impression Georgia O'Keefe 2 filter.
Then cropped for the close-up.

 Here's the larger image, with the Georgia O'Keefe 2 filter from Topaz.

Here's another version.  This one uses Topaz Impression's Warm Haze 2 Filter.
Also nice in it's own way.

Here's the original photo, taken at The Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI. 

The performer is one of the talented ladies from Sirena.   If you don't know this group, check them out -- You may be as mesmerized as I was.  And that is what these Sirens do best!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rosita's Wedding Ring Quilt : The Odyssey Begins

My Aunt Rosita died last November.   She and my mom got me into quilting in 2004.  There's been a tradition in the family of the older generation of womenfolk offering a quilt at weddings (or sometime thereafter).  Rosita has a lot of grand children who are starting to get married now.  One wedding is set for August 2016.  The family knew she had started this Wedding Ring Quilt for that wedding, but it remained unfinished when Rosita got sick.  So her son asked my mom and me to finish it in time for the wedding ...

My first response was : What the?   Do they have any idea how difficult The Wedding Ring pattern is?  It's not for a beginner!  Then I remembered, I'm not a beginner any more.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it ...  Hence, this is my 2016 Challenge.

Rosita had a Go-Cut Machine on which she cut out the fabric pieces.  We'll see how that goes ...  Supposedly, that should help the pieces not to distort.

The photo above shows the blocks she had assembled before she got sick -- on the design wall.

She has several more "footballs" already together.  The question is : Do I cut out more Xes to make it bigger, or do I just go with what she's got.  It won't be a bed quilt, but something much smaller -- and still something to remember Rosita by.  All of the pieces are scraps from her long and productive quilting career.

Unca Ray gave me her old Designer I Viking sewing machine, too.  That was good timing, as my old one bit the dust at about the same time.   It's an honor to have it -- as I know some of what Rosita's produced on it through the years.  She was best known for her embroidery.  At holidays, and birthdays, anniversaries, she would embroider a card for us.  Lots of stitches on that machine already!

My New Light iPhone Case

I decided I needed a new iPhone case (yeah, the old one suddenly looked pretty "junior high").  So I thought it would be neat to use one of my own creations.  In 2015, I picked "Light" as my One Word.  It worked so well, I didn't want to give it up this year.  So I'm keeping it a while longer ...

Enter SnapMade. For a reasonable price (about $17 delivered), I have a one-of-a-kind case for my iPhone.  Maybe now I'll actually carry it around with me?

Maybe this will be the kick-in-the-pants to start my own Society6 or RedBubble or even a SnapMade shop to Liberate a bit more of my art?  This could be the year ...

Friday, March 04, 2016

Simple Pleasures in a Bowl of Cherries

Still getting used to PSE14.  Last night I spent way too much time trying to tie in my old plugins for Topaz and RadLab.  I finally got it figured out and had to try it out.  Here are the results.

Here's the recipe :

Layer 1) Background image - Original
Layer 2) Texture #3 from Sirius SDZ from Texture Pack 11
               Texture masked off of the bowl of cherries
Layer 3) RadLab : POS Lens - Divine Light - Iron Mouse - Fuzzy Navel
Layer 4) Copy Layer 3 - Topaz Impression -  Georgia O'Keefe 61%
Layer 5) Text - Zapfino Regular Font in Overlay Blend Mode
Layer 6) Copy Layer 5

That's all there is to it!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Carrying Case for Singer Featherweight


With the Mondo Bag class the last few weeks, and actually traveling with the Featherweight, I decided that the handle on the original carrying case was in "fragile" condition, meaning "it could go at any time."  It would break my heart to drop this beauty because the leather handle failed.  Not much leather left holding it onto the metal clips anymore. 

Here's my new carrying case, made (for the most part) on the Singer 221 Featherweight.
The lining in quilted to some batting.  In hindsight, I would quilt through all three layers, if I did it again.   For the pattern, I took apart a re-usable /recyclable grocery bag (It was about the right size -- the featherweight case fit inside).  That way, I didn't have to think too hard about measurements--I just traced the pattern.)

 Side view.

I spent some time fussy-cutting the fabric for the bag so that the birds would show.  In the end, I rolled the tops down so I could actually open the latches on the case easier, and the bird heads were covered by the rolled rim.   So ...

I decided to make one more piece--a cover/topper for the carrying bag, that doubles as a matt for the little 221 to sit on when in use.    It's the only place you can actually SEE the blue birds as intended. 

 The cover pieces is attached with some buttons and ever-versatile hair ties.

 The Featherweight sitting on it's little matt, which doubles as the cover for the carrying case. 

That's 2 projects completed on this little beauty!  We're getting to know each other.  Seems like I should have a name for her (like I name my cars) ...  I'm leaning towards Millie (short for Mildred). 

On another note (Sheila, this one's for you, as I suspect you're the only one who might make it this far ;-)  How do you like the backdrop in first and last photo above?  A friend gave me some dinner napkins as she knew I could dye them to give them a whole new life.  This one came out like storm clouds.   With what I've learned about PhotoShop and Textures, I'm much more conscious of the backdrops in my project photos now.  Funny --  I started with PhotoShop and Photography because I wanted to improve the pics on my blog -- sort of.  The PSE and Texture work kind of took on a life of their own, and makes the quilting and craft pics look not so polished.  Well --to be honest, essentially they are just snapshots of the creative work I've done.  Not every photo needs to be finished and polished with texture added [Here, I'm just trying to convince myself ...]

Thanks for staying with me this long. 

Mondo Bag

I took a class at Going to Pieces Quilt Shop in Appleton, WI, to make a Mondo Bag.  It was a good chance to try my little Singer Feaatherweight on a real project.  Straight line sewing, for the most part.  The fabric is leftover scraps from the 2 black-red-and-white string quilts I made.

If you're wondering how to make a Mondo Bag, see the pattern above.  You can also purchase extra fusible interfacing in case you want to make more, but already own the instructions.    From what they say, no one makes just one!  I'll pan on making another one at Quilt Camp in April.  ;-)

This is a really thorough page on making one in a workshop via Margaret Moorehead and Sue Houseman.  Lots of pictures.

 Here are each of my 4 panels, in case you're wondering about the layout, and how I manged the reds and blacks.  Reds in the corners marked for Centers and Handles. 

See--I really was sewing on this little vintage 1941 Singer sewing machine.  It worked great -- much better than my go-to machine at the moment!  The funny thing was--There were 4 people in the class.  I was the youngest at 45 years old.  The other ladies had relatively new Viking Husqvarna's -- which is my usual machine, but for this I wanted to do something on the 221--in an effort to get-to-know-her--o see how she runs.   Even the teacher was surprised it ran so well, and that I didn't have any problems.  Apparently, she had one for a while, and wasn't so lucky.

 Inside the bag, is a foam-core square covered with fabric,  On the underside, it's taped on with painter's tape.    The square give the bag some stability, and hopefully the bag won't sag once I put something into it.  There's a lot of room here!

 The bottom of the bag where the 4 red center corners meet.