Sunday, January 27, 2013

Raspberry Cordial Quilt Finished

 The Raspberry Cordial Quilt is finished!
This is a lap-size quilt made with leftovers from Unca Ray's Red Barn Quilt.
After I finished it, I liked it so much I decided to make a smaller one for me.

 Detail of the of the blocks and the quilting.
Since this was a smaller quilt, I did the quilting on my little domestic home sewing machine (as opposed to the Tin Lizzie long arm down at It's Sew Rite).   I tried marking the quilt sandwich with  a chalk duster and a stencil.  It looked that that would be just the thing :

 First, I traced the pantograph pattern onto freezer paper.  

Then I "dry-stitched" the paper with no thread in the machine.
This served 2 purposes :  A) It helped me learn the pattern and get it into muscle memory.
B) It served to punch holes into the paper to make it a suitable stencil :

Then I used the Quilt Pounce to chalk the stencil design onto the quilt top.

The first pass seemed to work pretty well.  I was able to see the pattern for free-motionstitching as it was chalked onto the quilt top.  However, by the 2nd pass, much of the chalk had disappeared, or rather gone up into the air.  I could feel it in my lungs, and could no longer see it on the quilt top.  
For the 2nd and 3rd passes, there were many places I had to re-chalk the pattern with a chalk marker at the sewing machine.  By the 4th pass, I was just making it up as I went along.    Marking this way would have worked better on a smaller project, I think.    Marking is always a pain int he patootie.  That's why the free-motion designs have such an appeal.

Here's the message I found in a Dove Chocolate the day I finished this quilt. 
This just make me smile big-time!    ;-)

Pattern : Band Together by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. This pattern appeared in the Feb 2010 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.
Batting : Hobbs 80/20 Cotton Poly Black Heirloom Batting

Beyond Layers Day 78 : Add Some Noise (from Above)

Here's a photo from my archive, taken last summer when we could get vine-ripened tomatoes.  I happened to take this shot from above, so it fits with one of the parameters for today's Beyond Layers lesson.   The other addition is a Noisy black texture provided by Kim Klassen. 

Here's the original image straight from my camera.    Cropped, desaturated, one of Kim's Noisy textures added, along with text to get the image at the top of this post.   That's it!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beyond Layers Day 77 : View from Above

Any guesses as to what this might be?
The title of today's post should give you a hint.
Give up?  Scroll down for the answer ...

It's a street lamp reflected in an icy puddle during a January thaw.  My husband and I were going out for lunch that day.   We had just parked the car and were walking in when I spied this vision of beauty in the gutter.   I love it when that happens! I was looking down into the puddle to capture a view from above.

This revolution in digital photography and iphoneography is really amazing!  We are free to take pictures of everyday things we never would have wasted on film.   I'm lovin' it!  I could do a whole series on the interesting things to be found in gutters!

Here's the image straight from my camera. 
To get the image at the top of this post, 
I pulled it into PSE, then RadLab and applied the following filters at default settings : 
POS Lens
EZ Burn Original
Antique Tone
Blueberry Cobbler

No other textures were added.  I thought the texture of the pavement was enough!
There's a quote on the tip of my tongue that I might add as soon as I pin it down ...


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Beyond Layers Day 75 : Celebrating Growth

Today, Kim asked us to take a moment to acknowledge the progress we've made so far in the Beyond Layers Class the last 8 months.    Through the class, I've met some neat people around the world : Bev in Indiana; Julia in Scotland; Eija in Finland, and Mary Ann in LaCrosse who likes barns in Wisconsin.  

I decided to make a little "movie" with some of my favorite images from BL class assignments so far.   It's a nice way to review the work so far.   I've come a long way with PhotoShop Elements.  I remember how frustrated I was with it a year ago ...  This class has been a tremendous help!  I had no idea what Actions were, or Brushes.  I knew about Textures, but I had no idea how to use them in images.  I took some risks--especially with the Vasalisa pictures, hiring a model and investing in props.

For this photo montage, I used Picasa's Movie Maker, then uploaded it to You Tube.  The hardest part was picking a fitting song!  It's Syd Straw's "Golden Dream."



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Beyond Layers Day 73-74 : Wishing Stars

This week's lesson was inspired by a book cover illustration in which a butterfly is trapped in a jar.  The rest of the background is heavy with texture (Is it any wonder this image appeals to Texture Lovers like us?)

Kim shared 2 textures and made her own lovely and buttery Butterfly image.  

There's just something so sad about a butterfly in a jar--in an "I-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings" kind of way.  You know it doesn't belong there.  If a butterfly is in a jar, it's probably dead or otherwise preserved--or just hatched from the caterpillar / pupa stage.  There's a lot of potential and hope in that scenario.   I guess the book title set me up for the former.  I'll admit, when I see a dead butterfly (or a dragonfly), I pick it up and take it home with me.   Why?  Out of respect for something free and beautiful and wild.  That butterfly/dragonfly was once alive--It had a life and a purpose and a free will.  Beauty.  And it could FLY!   Life behind glass is deminishment, anyway you look at it.  [Here's I'm also thinking of Snow White in her glass coffin, dead to the world, but perfectly preserved ...]  That said, I have a small box of butterflies and dragonflies--so delicate they would disintegrate at the slightest touch--one of them did, unfortunately.

So I borrowed one of Oliver's potion bottles (again) and was thinking about what else I could put in the jar to make a statement, more than just a beautiful image ...  It's the wrong season here for Fireflies, Dragonflies, or even flowers ...  What else?

I was thinking about curiosity cabinets or the specimen jars at The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia or the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow (Sorry, I'm a health science librarian by day so medical specimens and morbid anatomy appeals to me.)  
Not quite the feeling I was after here  ...  I wanted this image to soar!  So I kept thinking ... What else comes in jars?
Canned goods lined up on shelves.  
Rumplestiltskin's Jars of potions and other magical ingredients.  

   I liked the Magic train of thought.  I wanted to keep it positive, about potential and possibility ...  Finally, I took a couple of stars from the bookshelf and set up the still life and started arranging the scene and snapping pics until the camera battery ran out (Don't you hate when that happens?)  I took the lid off the jar, to let some of the Simple Magic out so it could do it's work.

 Here's a sample of the straight-out-of-the-camera shots.  Pretty blah, huh? 
I usually do some basic edits (cropping and basic lighting adjustments) in Picasa.  I usually try "I'm feeling lucky."  Often, it works great--sometimes not.  It's easy enough to undo.

This is what I got with I'm-feeling lucky in Picassa.  WOW!  Looks like it upped the brightness and contrast--I'm not sure what else.  I loved how it really brought out the schmutz on the bottle and the color in the top star.  It looks like it's ready to be "activated" and wished upon.   I didn't feel like this image needed any additional textures. 

Then I pulled it into PhotoShop Elements.  I copied the background layer at Multiply Blend Mode.  Then I played with adding some textures, but they didn't seem to work with this one.    I found a suitable quote and added the text.  Finally, I added an edge burn to frame it.

I also pulled it into RadLab.  I liked the warm and cold treatments of Warm it up, Kris

and Cool as a Cucumber, but they effectively cancelled each other out when I layered them.  Or perhaps it's more accurate to say the warm and cool balanced each other.

It was so much fun flipping through all the still life shots I had taken for this assignment, that I decided to make a little movie out of it.  Kind of like one of those little cartoon flip-books my brother and I used to make as kids.  I could really tell how the first images were kind of practice pieces (believe me, I deleted a bunch of those).  Towards the end, more of them were keepers.  If not keepers--workable.   Enjoy :

If you actually go to Picasa Web Albums, you can speed up the slide show to 1 second / slide.  That makes it more dynamic, and more like that flip book.


Monday, January 07, 2013

Beyond Layers Day 72 : Tea-Stained Brushes

Kim originally released this lesson back in December so the timing was right to do a Holiday Samplar Christmas Card.  I missed the boat on that by being so many weeks behind.   As Kim says in the lesson, take the techniques and adapt them--so I did.  This looks vastly different from the digitally stitched sampler Kim made for her example in the lesson.    Proof that the techniques she teaches are transferable!

Many people this year are picking one word as a touchstone for the year, in lieu of new year's resolutions.  Last year, my one-word was Story and it worked so well for me that I had a hard time giving it up--until I realized I don't have to give it up. I've internalized it. ;-)   With so many opportunities out there, it was a wonderful way to focus.  This year, I've settled on Open-Hearted.   We'll see where it takes me ... 

Nancy (one of my Beyond Layers Classmates) at Rainbow Light Angel has an excellent post on One Little Word for 2013.  She includes some great resources for helping you pick your own word for the year.  Stop by and check out her blog--She's one of the most positive people!

The Making of this Image :
Layer 1)  New blank background image.
Aside : At some point I managed to stamp a green version of the world map in Layer 3 on this blank layer.  It didn't seem to add or detract, so I left it there.
Layer 2) Kim Klassen's Tea-stained Muslin Texture - stretched and blurred.
Layer 3) World Map Brushes from here.   Stamped in a Sepia color.
Aside :  I absolutely love these!  I found them while I was searching for a viney stitched border brush closer to Kim's example.   Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and I made this work.
Another Aside : I really liked the idea of using the map brush because 1) the one-word touchstone acts like a map for the year and 2) it gives this idea of being open to the world, open to the unknown, and willing to learn something new about myself.  There's so much possibility in this one little word!
Layer 4) Kim Klassen's Naturally Texture - smallified - Normal blend mode ; 75% opacity
Layer 5 ) Open Heart Brush from here.    (Normal 100%)
Layer 6) Text - "Open-Hearted" Caflisch Script Pro - Normal 100%
Layer 7) Text -  2013 - Normal 28%
I wanted the year to fade into the background more.



Saturday, January 05, 2013

Beyond Layers Day 68 : Sweet Adjustments

This was a challenging lesson for me.  I knew it would be.  I watched the video twice last week, taking careful notes.  I had to let it sit for a week.  All those adjustment layers were making my head spin!

It really doesn't look like the cloudy and faded processing below.  That's in part because the gradient I chose was not black-to-white, but black-to-transparent.  I also chose a reddish color for the gradient, filling in the furthest black horse.   All the other layers in Kim's recipe are there with varying blend modes and opacities.

I veered from Kim's recipe on the final framing of the image.  I found out you can add some nice effects by tinkering with the blend mode and opacity of the Solid Color Layer used for the frame.   I really like this effect for framing. 

 Here's the original photo taken last summer at Menominee Park here in Oshkosh.  
Golden Hour lighting.

Kim gave us one of her lovely sample pics to practice on.  This morning, I ran through her recipe on the sample pic.  When I finally felt like I had it figured out, I deleted it, and started over.  Don't worry--I did that on purpose.  I wanted to practice it again ...  The 2nd time went rather smoothly.  I was so happy to finally get it -- after 2 hours of tinkering, and reviewing the video.    Only then did I feel ready to start in on the Carousel picture at the top of this post. 

Here's Kim's original sample pic so you can get an idea of how processing changed this image.  If you want the recipe, though, you'll have to sign up for the class.  ;-)

I'm glad I'm taking this class, and taking the time to deconstruct a lot of these recipes. 
Just the same, a canned PSE Action would be really sweet, too!   I see and understand the appeal of oll those actions, with 1-click processing.  Rest assured, these were done from scratch. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Gift for New Year's Day : Stillness

I watched the video for Beyond Layers : Day 68.  It's a perfectly good lesson about some "Sweet Adjustments" on a still of black-eyed susans.  I'm just not in the mood for summer flowers ...

I went Cross Country skiing this past weekend.  We have a wonderful park here in town along Lake Winnebago.  I took this photo during the last snowfall on Saturday.  There are old oak trees along the shore line.  This is looking out over the water which has begun to freeze and is covered with snow.  The image actually came out pretty black and white : A perfect pallet in need of a texture. So I added a texture by Bonnie Zieman (of Pixel Dust Photo Art) to make it look more like sunset with the light reflecting ...

There were only a few other people out enjoying the day, so I had plenty of opportunity for Stillness.  I love this quote by Morgan Freeman : I love the idea of that Stillness becoming a glow and having its own energy; its own Light. 

Here's the original photo straight outta my camera.

Here's the Photo Processing step by step :
Layer 1 : Background Image
Layer 2 : Add Bonnie Zieman's Texture Soft Horizon ; Multiply blend mode - 100% opacity
Layer 3 : Copy Layer 2 ; Soft Light Blend Mode - 100% opacity
Layer 4 : Add Text - Caflisch Script Pro ; Normal blend mode - 78% opacity