Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lesson 3 of Shelagh's Creative Challengers

The last step for this round was stitching with a metallic thread.

Lesson 3 of Shelagh's Creative Challengers. I can't say much about the techniques as Shelagh asked us not to. Join us for the next challenge!

Gramma Pickles is Complete

I finished the thread sketch of my Gramma, complete with the filler background quilting and binding. The background filler was inspired by the way a rubber band fell on the table one day. Nice continuous loops.

Detail - Those are refrigerator pickles around her head. I first started it for a May Creative Cue.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Felted Geode Pin Cushion

At Conversations-in-Cloth this month, our resident felter and fiber artist taught us how to make felted geodes that can be used for pin cushions. She brought a great pile of hand-dyed wool that was heaped up on the center table. We picked the colores we liked, layers them, and "worked" it into a ball.

This is my geode put back together. Just like real geodes, it has kind of a humble shell. The most exciting part of the evening was when we cut them open at the end of the night to reveal the patterns and colors within. Ooohh! Ahhh!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Memory Bear for Hospice

I finished another Memory Bear for Hospice this week.
As always, I hope it beings comfort to the family.

This person's clothes smelled really good--like pipe tobacco before it was smoked.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tin Lizzie Debut

Well, I did it! I quilted my first quilt on a long-arm. Whoo-hoo!

It's Sew Rite, the local Janome dealer in town offered a class in how to use the Tin Lizzie. After that, I can rent time on it to do my own quilts. This is the perfect option for me because 1) I don't have room for the set-up at my house and
2) unless I made it a business, I would not do enough quilts to justify the expense
3) I can quilt a lot of quilts this way and still not spend as much as I would on my own set-up
4) Kathy was there to offer help if I got stuck.

What did I learn? First impressions :
1)It does go faster. I did a whole lap-size quilt in 3-1/2 hours (I know even that sounds like a long time, but I'm still learning.) It would have been 2 months of weekends on my little domestic sewing machine at home, and the marking would have been a bear!
2) If thread tension is a problem, check to make sure the presser foot is down.
3) Any way you look at it, this is physical labor. I was tired afterwards ... I think I was clenching my teeth the whole time. I'll need to learn to loosen up and relax ... and wear good shoes!

4) The pantograph I chose was Whirlygig by Willow Leaf Studios. It has a lot of starts and stops. It took a while to get the hang of moving from point to point with a fluid curve in between. I think if I had known any better, I might have picked a pattern with continuous curves and loops, without so many starts and stops.
5) It was kind of weird to be stitching all that way, and not really be looking at the fabric, or even the needle. My focus had to be on the pantograph pattern, which is kind of divorced from the quilt (until it's sewn).
6) Move the laser pointer, not the pantograph when starting on a new row.

What batting do you like to use on long-arms? My favorite batting up until now has been Hobb's 80/20. It works great on my little DSM, but here, it looked like there was some pretty consistent bearding on the back. The quilt back was black, so maybe I should have used a black batting.

Threads : King Tut varigated black to gray in the top. Black Bottom Line in the bobbin.

I will definitely be doing more on the long-arm!

This is the quilt I started for my mother-in-law, but she died last summer before I finished it. It will be donated to the local cancer center. I'll post a full picture when the binding is on and it's really complete and ready to give away.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tea Leaves Quilt Top

With the blessedly cool weather this week, being in the sewing room did not literally equate to a sweat shop (Read : We don't have air conditioning.) I got the Tea Leaves wall quilt together (so far). I know how I want to quilt is already, but it needs something for borders ... Any ideas?

What would you do?

The "New" Oliver Fabric Portrait

I skipped out on working out at the YMCA last night to work on this new fabric portrait. The Oliver needed an update. I don't have too many regrets so far!

At this point, he is not even fused yet, nor stitched. Still need to add the sparkle to his eyes. I was surprised that it only took about 90 minutes to cut out the layers. I was afraid it would take much longer ... Then again, remember this piece is only 8-1/2 x 11 inches. Who knows when I'll get it stitched? I was so excited with the way it came out so far, that I wanted to share. ;-)

Here it is in my sewing studio, which I have to walk by several times a day.
Pretty amazing from a distance, isn't it? It really looks like my kid coming out of the fabric!
That's the really neat thing about working on fabric portraits is that there is a point where they really start to come alive ...

This is the pattern I started with, edges outlined in red as directed by Maria Elkins (She does some amazing work!) in the Quilting Arts instructions for Beginning Portraits.

Tip : When she says cut all the fabrics the same 8-1/2x11 inches, do it! It makes placement of the layers so much easier! Everything lines up properly.

This is the picture I started with, minus the marker on his face.
Finding a suitable picture, and playing with the photo-editing software was probably the hardest part of this whole project. I used the free Paint.net program. Someday I'll break down and purchase PhotoShop Elements, but not yet ... That's the part that intimidated me the most. So a few weeks ago, I just decided to spend a Saturday morning playing with some of our photos. Some pictures worked out better than others ... It was worth the time to play and practice.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Creative Cue : Wreck

My Grappa Eddie drove a school bus for many years. He had a pipe dream about turning an old school bus into a camper that he could take up to Canada on fishing trips. This is his bus ... the machine shed fell on it along about 1980 when a tornado went through their property. And there it sat for 30 years ... a perfect wreck.

Here's another choice image from my Grappa's estate auction last summer. Can you believe someone actually purchased and hauled away both wrecks?

See other Creative Cues for Wreck.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Design Wall : Tea Leaves

Lest you think I have forsaken quilting, fear not!
This is what's on my design wall at the moment ... I had cut these out about 5 years ago, and couldn't bear to look at them anymore. About a month ago, I finished appliqueing the blocks. Now I'm ready to lay them out, and eventually start stitching them together. It's coming along ...

Blue Lake Wool Felted Bag

I finished this bag today. Back in May, my friend Lynda did a wool felting workshop where she taught a group of us how to make these. No stitching required! Even the beads are felted down. Blue Lake because I was going for a water feel.

Creative Cue : Book

Front - Flash and no flash

Back - Flash and no flash

Here's a new journal recently completed. The cover is made from a sop cloth in my dye studio. It's a Viva paper towel, if you can believe that! I loved the feel of it, but was concerned about it wearing away with friction and use, so I experimented with finishes as a top coat. I finally decided on PVA glue and ModgePodge Matte. It definitely gives it a durable finish; unfortunaely, it's so far from the soft fabric-like texture I started with that I have my regrets ... The search continues for the perfect finish!

Test Fabric for Finishes
1 - Modge Podge Matte
2 - Modge Podge Gloss
3 - Norbond PVA Glue
4 - Self-Leveling Gel GLoss
5 - Liquitex Clear Gesso
6 - Crystal Clear GLaze
7 - Aleen's Instant Decoupage
8 - Control - no finish

See other Creative Cues for Book.

Creative Cue : Dream

Tornado Dancer

Years ago, in my early 20s, I was plagued by recurring nightmares about tornadoes bearing down on my family's house. I couldn't find them, couldn't call out to them to warn them or call them to safety. The sense of terror and frustration and helplessness really got to me ... Living in the midwest, Tonadoes in May and June are a fact of life. You just hope you don't run into one ...

Finally, I shared these dreams with one of my coop housemates, a wise woman named Sinden. She suggested that the Tornado was probably trying to tell me something. Since I kept running away from it and shutting it out, it kept pursuing me ...

So, one day, I planned a meditation where I would meet this Tornado and find out what it wanted to tell me. It came, laughed a bit and said, : "It's about time, kid." His name was Morrison, a small whirlwind--but effective. It took me up into it's whirl so I could see the view from the upper rim It was not spinning wildly up there--it was more like I was in the eye, so it was calm. After a while, the Tornado set me back down on the deck, under the birch trees. He "stepped" back and presented me with two gifts :

1) a four-pointed blue white star
2) a rose just beginning to bloom

I never had another tornado nightmare. I'm not sure I can say much about these two gifts in terms of the symbolism and what they mean to me ... They speak to a place where words don't go easily.

At about the same time, my friend Terra Gold (a budding Shamin) who lead drum circles made a drum. She put it in front of an open oven to dry, but the heat was too intense and it warped. She brought this sad bent drum to a drum circle and I fell in love with it. It sat perfectly on my knees. At some point, I decided to paint these images on the drum. Here it is ...

See other Creative Cues for Dream.

This story was published previously at Hidden Passages in May 2008.