Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flower Pounding at the Children's Garden

Phil-on-the-corner is a Master Gardener who runs a Children's Garden in the neighborhood every summer. He wants to instill a love of gardening (along with the skills to do it) in kids. Every week, all summer, they do a different activity related to the garden from planting to weeding to harvesting to to cooking their bounty to making bird houses, scarecrows, or rain barrels. I offered to lead a flower pounding activity this month.

We brought the following :
Prepared fabric (pre-soaked in a solution of water with soda ash and alum)
-Cut into 10-inch squares
Flowers and crab apples
Clear Packing Tape
Boards to pound on

People went right to work choosing and laying out their flower petals.
We taped them down with clear packing tape (which makes it easier to see what you need to pound), and people started hammering.

Once the color is transferred from the flower to the fabric, the tape (with spent flowers) can be peeled off, leaving the flower-pounded fabric. Here are some of the results from this night's work :

A few people decided to spell out names : Ginger + Phil (above)

Addison (below)

Here's Phil, our Master Gardener with his work of art.

Here's Jenny with one of her pieces.

CL did this one. Some of his petals made a perfect transfer!

Here are some pictures from when Oliver and I tried Flower Pounding a few years ago :

Laying out the flowers.


Really--even a kid can do it!

An Earthy Departure : Ned Plates

In June, we were in PA visiting CL's relatives. His cousin happens to be Ned Folz of Folz Pottery in Reinholz, PA. That day in June, Ned and his lovely wife Gwen were hosting a studio day where they invite the public in to design a plate. Ned provides a wet clay plate covered with a traditional yellow wash. The scraffito (sp?) technique requires the maker to scratch off the yellow not wanted. When it's they way you want it, Ned will fire it, and you can come back to get your plate at a later date.

I did the Toes Like Crunchy Peas at the top of this post.

Oliver did his rendition of fighting dragons (below) in honor of Dungeons & Dragons. CL added the chain link border. Oliver thinks someday he'll be a potter in his spare time like I'm a quilter.

Here is the family : CL's dad, Ned, Romaine, Gwen, and CL.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Orange Blossom Breeze Quilt : Remembering Grappa Eddie

After I learned to quilt in 2004, I decided that I would make a quilt for my Grappa Eddie. When I shared my intentions, everyone in my family said "Why do you want to make a quilt for Grappa? He's not going to be around much longer." My mom took care of the quilting and the binding. When we gave it to him, we made sure he understood that this quilt was to be used, and not put away and "saved" to keep it nice. We were very familiar with his Depression-era mentality for saving things, and never using them.

I found some orange blossom fabric and fell in love with the colors and the textures. It reminded me of Grappa. He had a talent for picking the best boxes of Indian River grapefruit and oranges from the traveling truck drivers who sold them on the road in northern Wisconsin. Grappa knew how to pick the fruit at the peak of ripeness, sweet, and fresh, and juicy. He knew what he was doing!

This is Grappa in an orange grove in Florida in the 1960s, I think.

The pattern is called Northwind, however, I softened it to "Orange Blossom Breeze" because Grappa didn't tolerate the cold as he did in his younger days. This quilt was my way of keeping him warm with memories of his cross-country drives down south and the sweet, fresh fruit of Florida--where everyone has a fruit tree in their yard!

After Grappa moved into the nursing home 2 years ago, Gramma returned the quilt to me. They decided the detergents in the nursing home would be too harsh on the quilt. She gave it back to me--it still smelled like their house. Now I get to keep the quilt and remember Grappa Eddie.

Grappa Eddie died peacefully on August 20, 2009. He was 98 years old.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dark Block Print

Here's another blast from the past. Dijanne Cevaal has been talking about her lino-cut class, and it made me think of my long-ago dabbles in the medium (or near-by).

I made this wood block print in my "dark" years. I was a waitress at a resort in Three Lakes, WI in 1990. We worked 10-12 hours a day, every day, all summer. I made $2.90/hour plus tips. We had 2 hours off in the afternoon. The other girls would go water-skiing. I stayed out of the sun and read, wrote letters, or made art. One of the guests was so impressed with my work that he actually bought me a set of printer's inks and a brayer. I had been using plain old acrylic paint spread with a paintbrush. His family valued the arts. I think his daughter played the cello ...

This print came out so remarkably well, I wish I would have used better paper. I used just plain old typing paper. It's starting to turn yellow at the edges--so it much have had a high acid / high lignin content. (That's why paperpacks from the 1980s are turning yellow and getting brittle. They are literally burning themselves up due to the poor chemistry of the paper. That's also why the scrap-bookers are so conscious of archivally safe materials now--which is a good thing!)

Lili's Dress

In my former life as a seamstress, I made dresses : Renaissance Faire attire, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses. I even made my own wedding dress modeled after Lili's white dress in the movie Legend (1985). [Yes, that's Tom Cruise BEFORE Top Gun. The actress who plays Lili is the impeccable Mia Sara. Sigh!]

It was very difficult to find good photos of her dress back then. I studied the movie on VHS, and sketched her dress :

Then I looked for a pattern that could be modified--since this exact pattern was not for sale anywhere. This is what I found :

Butterick 4301

In pencil, I drew over the top of the pattern that seemed close. All I had to do was modify the front panel to be lace-able, and modify the sleeves--and that worked out quite well.

For my dresses, I always made a muslin version--to make mistakes, and chart changes in the real version. That works out very well. Then you're not wasting that lovely expensive silk and linen on a dress that doesn't fit.

Next I took a trip to Chicago's Vogue Fabrics. I was living in Madison, WI, at the time. No one there at the time sold fine fabrics like linen and silk.

Light blue silk for the under-dress.

French Ribbon alongside linen.

Pearly-beady trim my Gramma Pickles had. It was just enough to trim the arms and waist.

Here's the finished dress on my dress-maker's dummy.

No--It's not exactly Lili's dress. I had to work with what was available to me in terms of trims and my own abilities as a pattern drafter. I was pleased with the results. Good enough to get married in!

The shoes I wore were the Medival Moccasins. It felt like walking on clouds, they were so comfortable, and perfectly fitted to my feet. I actually traced my feet and sent the tracings to them. From that they were able to make a perfect fit.

Gramma made me a crown to wear. I don't have a clue how she did it. It's not one of the mysteries I am privy to. My friend Caroline loaned me a string of pearls. I made the earings.

No--this dress is not for sale.
And no--I don't have time to make another one.
But I do know someone who might be willing to make one for you. So ask me if you are interested.

The dress has been put away with archival tissue paper and placed in a cedar wardrobe for safe-keeping. A Sweet Leaf Productions Original!

Helen Squire at LSQG

Helen Squire was the guest speaker for my local quilt guild last night. Ms. Squire is known for her whole-cloth quilting (less for piecing)--and she tells jokes! She's got a million of 'em! I purchased the 2 books above, along with a CD-rom of printable patterns. I like her swirls ...

She brought a number of quilts to show and discuss--some of them antique beauties!

She said she got to go to South Africa not long ago, and worked with some people in Zululand, helping them quilt their works with appropriate patterns (not putting flowers over the elephant's face). I thought that was so neat. After the lecture, I told her that I had studied Zulu for a year, but it was too soon after Apartheid, and students couldn't travel there in the early 1990s. She had a wonderful opportunity to do what she did!

She also told a story about someone bringing in a quilt for an appraisal. The back was full of knots (We're trained to pull the knots in to the batting layer.) It was kind of a mess, and she was wondering what to tell this lady about her quilt. When she spoke with her a little later, the lady said, "I just wanted to show you this quilt. I made it for my daughter who's blind. The knots are in braille. It says, "I love you." What a nice story!

Here are some gems from her lecture :
* Rule of Thumb : If a pattern is geometric, the quilting should flow.
Ex : Monkey wrench block could be quilted with baptist fans.

* Quilting should enhance the patterns.
Looking at the back, the quilting should give you an idea of the pattern on the front.

* Quilting is easier if the front fabric is on the straight of grain ||||
and the backing fabric is opposite ----

* Quilting was made to be seen from all sides.
Mix up your motifs, so they might be sideways, or upside-down from some angles.

* In her Quilting UFOs book, she asks 4 questions :
1) What's the method : Hand or machine-quilted
2) What kind of batting? High loft, low-loft, medium loft.
3) What is the purpose? wall-hanging, baby-quilt, heirloom ...
4) Theme / Occasion? Log cabin getaway may beg for nature motifs in quilting

* Helen Squire makes a "muslin master" where she maps out her quilting patterns.
1/4 of the quilt pattern is traced onto the muslin. Use tracing paper to work out the quilting designs--make changes, audition designs, decide on grids, etc. BEFORE you actually do any stitching. Then use the muslin as a reference. When she has a design she likes, she traces that onto her top with a matching chalk pencil.

* Borders -- Leave more seam allowance on your last border to account for the squaring up process. You could loose more than you think.

* Leave room for Quilting
Don't make your quilts so busy on the color/pattern side.
Quilting is secondary when the color takes over.

* For Marking - Use a chalk pencil that matches the fabric.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Silk Paper

Soy Silk Paper
Looks like it needs some fish swimming around in it. ;-)

Silk Paper. The color on this one was difficult to capture. It has a blue shiny, rich, rayon-y shine to it.

These are destined to be journal covers.

Basic Instructions for silk paper (Silk Fusion) available at Two Creative Studios.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Alternative Rust Dyeing

I also gave Purple Missus' Alternative Rust Dyeing another chance. This time, I got some Iron Sulphate (mordant) from a natural Dye Supplier (not the fertilizer that failed so miserably last year).

Initial results on cotton looked encouraging (I'm glad I took pictures because all this color, pattern, and earthly textures went down the drain) :

This one (above) washed out to this (below) :-(

This (above) washed out to this (below) :

Anyone have suggestions on how to make the color stay?
Would this work better on some really nice paper that wouldn't get washed so thoroughly in the washing machine?

Like I said, I'm glad I have the pictures.