Monday, January 28, 2008

Raw Materials

Last night, Charlie wanted to draw on some write-on/wipe-off placemats we have. So I colored in all the states I'd lived in and visited, and then used pink to color the state I've not been to. It helped us decide where to vacation this summer. We'll shoot for Michigan or Wisconsin.

Luke is being very helpful in supplying raw materials for my SpiARTuality group. We'll be making "Fabric Paper" and we're all to bring bits and bobs to sprinkle on it. Look at the beautiful paper towels after we wipe off the placemats:

And Proud Momma just has to show off...
Our family friend, Susan, watched the boys recently so I asked Charlie to draw a picture for her thank you note. He drew the whole thing upside down. After he'd drawn himself and saw what a large circle he'd made he said, "Well...Luke must be in my tummy." :)
Here's the picture of Charlie and Susan, drawn by Charlie (4 years, 2 months):

Who knew a mother could be so proud?! ;)
Firsts can be both unbelievably terrifying and unbelievably heart-warming, can't they.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quilt Pixie Swap

A few weeks ago, QuiltPixie and I did a swap. I sent her everything but cotton fabric, and she sent me nothing but cotton fabric. We expanded one another's stash nicely, I think.
As I pulled out and ironed each fabric she sent, I realized I haven't worked with real prints yet--and she sent me many to play with.
At first, I tried to organize into my current color spectrum of fabrics, but then I decided there were too many fun groupings. These fun groups were just begging to be shown off. So here are a few I'm playing with:

Rounds and Reptiles:

Baby, it's Hot Outside (even when it's only 5 degrees!!):

The colors didn't come through very well for this set. They have really vibrant pinks and oranges along with the blacks:

And my, oh my! LOOK at that divine Muscle Fiber fabric on the left!!!! Clearly, this fabric designer *must* be designing from anatomy books. WHERE can I see the whole collection? Brain prints...intestine batiks...mitosis...the possibilities are endless, and exciting!

All the fabrics in this photo have some shimmery gold to them. They will be delightful surprises in future quilts:

Thank you, QP. I can't wait to get my boys to sleep and have some time to play with these!

Finally Finishing

Finishing quilts is not interesting to me, so I don't often do it. That means I have piles of tops, tops and batting, and sandwiches all over my workspace. When I can no longer work, I finish a pile.

Here is a piece I did for our friends working in a Dominican Republic seminary. I met them in seminary. He was an amazing professor of Old Testament. I took 3 semesters of her Liturgical Dance class, and she was our fabulous chef in residence. Our dogs were best friends, too.
They moved down to the DR with almost nothing, and I noticed that their walls look pretty bare. So here's a little something to cheer their home:

These next two pieces are ones I started in Melody Johnson's workshop at QSDS. The one on the right is the first thing I dared to quilt (stitch). It was a piece I was willing to ruin, and I ended up liking it alot. I think it's going to replace the one I have in my office that was a Melody/Helen collaboration. The one on the right was so small I was afraid to finish it with a binding, so just pillowcased it. I think I'll send it off to my friends in the DR too. ( that I see it in the photo, I wonder if it should be a wide orientation instead of a tall one. But ew, that would mean sewing another rod pocket...)

And here are two pieces I finished just to get them off the pile. The first one is also one I started in Melodie's class. I added a fortune from a cookie that I found inspiring. This was also an "I can loose it" composition, so I tried fuse binding it, just pulling extra material from the backing over and fusing it to the front. Good enough for "sketches" but I don't think I'd use it for a piece I hope would be displayed. The second is an extra block from the "Faith Hope Love" series. I've got enough to make 2 more long pieces, and then 4 (now 3) extra blocks. With this one, I tried just cutting batting and backing fabric (no fuser), ironing them in place, and sewing around the edge. There is nothing attaching them all together except the outside stitching. I found that it works fine on a small piece like this.

I also kept working on my largest piece to date, which isn't all that big. Maybe 2ft x 3ft. It's small random-sized blocks of 1/4 my hand painted fabric and 3/4 white made into the shape of a cross. I had used big white pieces to fill in the corners to make it square, but then Hubby couldn't see the cross. So I ripped them off and replaced it with some very light blue fabric I painted. The fabric I'm using is somewhere between a heavy gauze and a very light-weight loosely woven regular cotton. I machine sewed the small squares together and into the cross, then hand-stitched top to batting around each colored rectangle. I ended up hand sewing the blue onto the fabric because I couldn't figure out how to get into the corners with my sewing machine. I think it needs lots more quilting, I'm just not sure if I'll do it by machine (I kind of know how to do this) or hand (I know *nothing* about how to do this). Or could I use hand for the cross and machine for the blue corners? And should it be backed before I quilt? I think so.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Faith, Hope, and Love

I started and finished 2 pieces this weekend. It's a record!
I also didn't make any mistakes while making them. It's a miracle!

I had them 80% done last night when we went to bed, and began wondering when I'd get a chance to finish them. So I got up after the boys were soundly asleep and put in the last hour's work.

I call them Faith, Hope, and Love (red) and Faith, Hope, and Love (blue). They can be hung together as companion pieces, or alone.

I originally planned to center the squares in the squares, but I'm so much happier that my messy side took hold and convinced me to make the smaller squares off-kilter.

Faith, Hope and Love create... pride. ;) and a good dose of happiness.

I finished these in a new way. I used fusable interfacing instead of batting. I fused it to the top side of the piece. Next, I machine stitched the rod pocket onto the back side of the piece.
Then I made my right sides together sandwich and stitched around most of the way leaving part of a side open for turning. Before turning, I ironed the edge open, and that seemed to help alot. Also, I ironed on a strip of WonderUnder on the open edge. Then I turned, and ironed well and fused the opening shut with WonderUnder. Finally, I sewed on the squares.

I LOVE this way of finishing! The only thing you need to be aware of is to make sure you don't sew up your rod pocket with the applique. I pushed my squares a bit lower so they wouldn't overlap with the rod pockets. (Again, a miracle that I caught this before I did it!)

Fabric store

I got some quilting gloves for christmas that I already had. So on Friday, I returned them for something more interesting. After looking through the whole neat store and choosing a few fabrics, I found something that made my heart beat quicker. This basket:

It was jam-packed with bits of this and that. Just what I was looking for! I asked if I could look through it, and she said yes. I pulled out a bunch of things and was simply delighted. It was much more thrilling than even looking through the basket of neatly folded & wrapped fabric bits by the counter. Delightfully fun!

And I even ironed all my fabric when I got home that night. I've now got my main quilt fabrics folded and sorted by color. Currently, they fit into 2 shoeboxes. I'm ready for more!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Wonky Christmas Present

Our family draws names for Christmas. This year, my hubby and I were to give to my sister in Kansas and her hubby. I wanted to give them something they'd really like and could use, but wasn't coming up with anything. Then I had an inspiration! Note cards with pen-and-ink drawings of their house.

But we have a $50 per person limit, so I'd need to be creative:

I e-mailed an old college friend who lives in their town, and he snuck over and took pictures of their house that very day and e-mailed them to us.

My husband, who minored in graphic arts and really likes to do this sort of thing, spent several hours on Photoshop changing the color photo to something like a black-and-white print. (He also removed a car, telephone lines, background homes, and re-drew at least 1/2 of the tree branches.)

The stationary store I checked with quoted me $355 for 25 cards. I don't THINK so! CopyMax didn't have thicker paper or matching envelopes. But the college print shop did. They printed on really nice paper with matching lovely envelopes, and it was a great deal.

I also planned on matting an 8X10 print for their wall. Then someone said, "Why aren't you giving any of your art for christmas?" I hit my head with the palm of my hand and said, "I'll print it on fabric and make a wallhanging.

I had 2 hours before it had to get to the postoffice and here's what turned out:

I'm delighted with it, except for that top left edge. HOW in the world did I do that? I looked and looked, and my sewing lines seem straight to me.
When I was done and saw the wonkiness, I decided not to send it. My friend Jo and husband both encouraged me to go ahead and send it. So I did. I'll not be insulted if they don't hang it. And would be happy to do it over if they really do like it.

All in all, I'm very happy with the way my husband and I worked together to create their christmas gifts. It was a gift to ourselves along the way.

Another Adoption Wallhanging

Friends of ours adopted 2 children this year. Both had been living with their family for a few years as foster children. J was 18 when they adopted him in March, and H was 6 (or 7?) when she was adopted on National Adoption Day in November.

When J was adopted, I really wanted to give the family a present. But anything I thought about that celebrated J's permanent status I was afraid would heighten H's not-yet-permanent status. So I waited.

When we got the news about H, I created this:

I was so delighted to be able to use one of the "Road" series that I made during the Tour de France last summer. I have 5-6 of them ready, but I've not been inspired to finish the others yet.
Then I added a house, which seems to be a running theme for me. And 2 big hearts for the parents, and 1 little heart past the house for R who died at birth and then 4 small hearts on the road to the house to represent all the children in their family.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. When I make my first $1,000 in fiber art, I will invest in a good camera that can really capture the true colors and details of a piece. ;) Until then, I'm stuck with the trusty camera I found that seems to have a problem with it's shutter timing.

Many Blessings and Cheers, B family!

Sculpty Nativity

Our December SpirARTuality group got together to make Sculpty nativity scenes. I had learned to do it from a wonderful artist, Judy King, who had started making these when she was Registrar at ETSS in Austin, but left to work on her art full-time.

I had hoped to be in contact with Judy to get a refresher course before our SpirARTuality class-but I didn't. So we winged it. The others, I thought, did better than I. But here's my result:

The most important thing when doing this is to use a good-quality pasta maker to run the sculpty through time and time again to get interestingly melded, thin, plyable sheets of sculpty. We also used little face, hands, and feet molds which give you one shape but you can then scunch and change it into other shapes.

If you've got the supplies and at least half a day, it's a fun project. MUCH more fun when you do it with others!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Surrounding yourself with art

When we stayed at our friend's home, Luke and I slept on a futon on their upstairs landing. These quilts and weavings were draped over their railing. It was a delight to sleep next to them, wake to them, and have them in such plain sight:

Here is my favorite quilt of theirs. When I asked them about it, I found out that both of these quilts shown below were made by her grandmother when she wanted a rug for her house. This first piece is the hubby's favorite. It's got more cotton fabrics in it and is more elaborate:

And this one is my favorite:

It's made up of wonderful crushed velvet squares, with brightly colored double-knit and some bold embroidery floss stitching:

I can't imagine using these on my floors. But I also imagine her grandmother in Greece making do with what she had. I think she said these may have been made in the 60s.

How delightful!