Saturday, May 31, 2008

Passion for Purple, Another Layer

More work on the Passion for Purple project. Here are Jaye's background purple squares, which have the first circle from Adrienne. Now I get to add the second circle.This is what it looks like with the second circle added. I started out cutting up fabric and realized that I was choosing the exact same ones as the circles I had added to Adrienne's backgrounds. Too much of the same fabric will kill the look we're going for, so I pulled out some different boxes, pink and blue and greens. More variety, that's a better choice.
Now they're off to Jaye for the final 3rd circle. This is going to be a fun project to put together, I am loving working with all this purple. I find it both soothing and invigorating at the same time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Skirting the Issue

Oh hahaha right? Onto the next skirt project. One that has also been staring at me accusingly for a year from the Fabric I'm Not Putting Away Yet Because Then I'll Forget Why The Heck I Bought It Pile. Don't you have one of those fabric piles? No? Uhmm. Just me then I guess. Anyways.
I have this idea for a hem treatment on the next skirt. Should the measuring tape fabric be used vertically?
Or horizontally? Please note that it is NOT used as a waistband treatment (hardyharhar).

Here is a detail of what I ended up doing. Please note the ass-kicking job I did on adding some red piping. Oh yes I did, I not only did a hemline treatment innovation on this very simple skirt, but I stuck some piping in there. And it did not kill me. And it didn't take as long as I thought. Or turn out in a manner that makes me embarrassed to be wearing the skirt. I'm really pleased with it. So pleased that I'm going on and on about it here to you. Because no one I know around here could really give two cans of beans about the topic!
And here is the very smugly satisfied sewist wearing her new creation. As long as I stand there by the red roses and green tree background, it is almost a chamelon camo effect..
I can't find the measuring tape fabric, but equilter has a slightly different one available.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Discover Dulcet Messages

Just finished working in Michele Merges Martens' True Colors book. Her theme was aqua and turquoise.
A close up of the Discover Dulcet Messages. I love making up weird little sayings like this in collages. They might be meaningful, or just mysterious.

The left-hand page
List of materials, fabric scraps, batting and thread for small quilt on left, magazine photos and words, cancelled stamps, pearl crayon, tissue paper, glue, marker, glitter glue, blue transparent film, opalescent origami paper, ArtChix image, word card from an old game.
Detail of the small quilt I made for the far left of the two-page spread.

Next up, working in a book with the theme "Forest Floor"...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Exquisite Corpse, Secondly

Another exquisite corpse revealed! This time it is Carolyn's, and her brilliant idea was to include a piece of fabric that we were to use bits of in our design to hopefully tie the 6 squares together. I haven't seen a photo of the whole thing yet, but I think it will have helped. Here is how her piece arrived to me, I was the first to add on to her starter square. She's got the grid nicely marked out, and a good margin all around for clues on how to join up to the existing colors and shapes. Her theme was cool purples/geometrics
The purple polka dot is the fabric that she sent along for us to use. You can see here where I utilized it, mostly as a background. I thought what I came up with was ok, but I wanted a bit more "wow", so I couched on some wooly nylon and then added some beads.
Two looks at the square once it is done, one picture with flash one without. The pink bit on the left is the covering-up fabric over Carolyn's square, then a bit of margin of her work, then mine to the right.
Carolyn also mentioned that several of us put beads on our section.But not all of us, so she plans to add some to each square to pull the whole piece together.
That's the big challenge in this project I think, having a cohesive looking whole at the end!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Skirt Per Week

I'm embarking on a new quest, to actually sew the skirts I've bought fabric and patterns for. What a concept eh?
I'm getting tired of all the room this stuff is taking up in my studio as well as on my mental to-do/shame/regret list. I also am still not buying new clothing as part of my wardrobe refashion pledge. I want a bunch of lightweight, easy-care, comfortable skirts that I can wear this summer instead of all my very worn-out shorts.
Because of the progression of my disease/condition I can't tolerate a lot of binding tight stuff around my middle. So I don't think that I can make anything that is really structured with a constructed waistband. Maybe if it is set low enough I can. But I'm not sure how flattering that would be, since I do still just barely have a defined waist, I ought to emphasize it, right?

I used fabric that I blogged about just over a year ago. One of my long-term half-baked plans was finally ready, hooray! This vintage fabric was found in Goodwill for a couple of bucks. I really like all the browns in it with a bit of contrasting blue, and the allover patterning is great for hiding wrinkles. And I have a shirt that goes with it, even better, right? One less thing to have to make...
So this elastic-waistbanded skirt was made with a pattern I drew myself from the fun, clearly written, beginner book Sew What Skirts. I've never sewn anything for myself to wear without using a store-bought pattern, so this was kind of thrilling in a small personal way. Instead of taking a pattern and altering it to fit me, I made a pattern from my measurements (what a thought, right!). And lo, and behold it fits, hey I can follow directions sometimes. The skirt is perfect, not too tight, not too loose, waistband just right, and I like the length. Now I can't get too cocky because this is not like sewing pants or something, but I'm still pretty chuffed about it all.
Now to choose the next one to work on for the upcoming week. I think it will be the embroidered purple cotton gauze using the Park Bench Patterns swirly circle skirt Griffith Park.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cornucopia, End of May Edition

Gifts from friends are the best aren't they? Whenever they arrive! I received this super cool double flowered pincushion from Lunaea, it is made out of that wonderful Japanese slightly nubbly silk kimono fabric, with a sparkling vintage button on top. She bought it from an Etsy seller, SillyBoodilly,

And then she had some fat quarters of various quilt fabrics. I wasn't clear on why she had these fat quarters, maybe to make bags for her fabulous beaded Goddess rosaries? Anyways, as she is not a sewist (one who sews), and she's doing such a great job of weeding through all her stuff, she gifted me with them. Hmmmm, what should I make for her out of them, they kinda do go together...
This photo was too funny not to share. I don't have to mow my lawn, I have a grazing herd built in. See, I don't need to rent those goats from the neighbors! Seen here is head cow Zelda the Wonder Dog with her faithful sidekick Spike the meanest cat we've ever owned. Both have to eat their daily requirement of grass, they're really insistent about it. They are quite the dynamic duo indoors and out, patrolling the yard, making sure the other cats are safely up in the redwoods.

Remember the mystery palm that is taking over the front yard that I was showing you a while back in April?

It had all this beautifully strange yellow pollen spongy fruity looking stuff, and now here is what remains. The little branchlets are such an odd shape and color. Don't they look like coral? All the dried out seedy stuff has fallen below and been collected in this spider web conveniently woven between the hairy trunk and evilly serrated fronds. This has turned out to be a really cool plant to have in my garden. I'm really glad I didn't throw out that mostly dead house plant I inherited from my grandma...

The climbing red roses are going crazy this year, so I cut just three stems for this bouquet in my favorite blue vase. They don't have much of a scent unfortunately, but they sure look pretty.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Leafing Out

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to squeak into the completely sold out class taught by Gabrielle Swain at EBHQ. It was all about design the first day, using leaf shapes in particular. My printer wasn't behaving so I couldn't print out any fave photos of leaves, and since we are having an infestation in this county (Light Brown Apple Moth), I didn't think I should import any contraband leaves across several counties up to Berkeley/Albany! Luckily there were some inspiring shapes mere steps out the door of the classroom.

I had my camera so I snapped a few shots of these on-their-last-legs calla leaves. They really remind me of elephant's ears. I used the large leaf shown here in the first picture.
And I used the folded leaf below the one I'm holding. We worked for a long time sketching the leaves, enlarging, repeating, turning, twisting, layering. Making sure there aren't any stems leading the eye off the quilt. My design changed a few times, but I ended up with two of the large leaves in two different sizes, really large and pretty small. as well as one of the folded leaf shape in a medium size. I really got into this design exercise and it was fun to see how everyone else in the class tackled the challenge. Some people took trips to the copy center to enlarge sketches up to and including on enormous blue-print sized paper! And some were much more free-wheeling with the leaf shapes, going for more abstracted, stepped-back designs.
Gabrielle is a great teacher, she was really organized, confident, clear and giving. A great combination for an art/quilt teacher. I'm glad I finally got to meet her in person (instead of our Creative Spark class phonecalls) and learn from her in situ.

We were using hand-dyes (or batiks) for our leaves, and a geometric as a background. How do you like my background fabric? Pretty wild huh? I originally bought it to use as a binding fabric, thought the color stripe blocks would look cool on the bias. A very small amount of background will be showing on this quilt, so I thought I might as well have something really punchy and contrasty with the intense colors of the leaves. I found that I had brought a really strange selection of my hand-dyes, a lot of which were completely unusable for this quilt. (Of course!).
But with a lot of help from Gabrielle and friend Jaye I dug through and tried a lot of options.
And came up with this final combination of colors.

The smaller bits of fabric will be the main veining on the leaf.

The second day of the class was on the following Monday. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the two hour drive up there due to my boys' school having a "late start" day (which we hadn't put on the calendar, oops!). So I didn't get to take the how-to hand-reverse-applique' part of the class. :( Sigh.

Now I have to decide whether to make this quilt in the manner I normally would (raw-edge applique' or maybe with some fusible) or try to do something out of my comfort zone involving hand-stitching (usually makes me run screaming quite honestly). I'm not good at it, because I don't do it very often. It is hard to make yourself do something you suck at, isn't it? But after getting to fondle and pet Gabrielle's gorgeous quiltworks in person, I think it might just be worth it to try the harder, more painful (for me) method.

Stay tuned on that one...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Exquisite Corpse First Reveal

Finally I can spill the beans on the Exquisite Corpse Round Robin that I've been participating in. One of the artists in my group got hers back so we can reveal our details of that one piece. I'll show the other ones to you when I know that the piece has returned home to the originating artist.
Part of the fun of this project is the secrecy!
This is what the piece looked like when I received it. The original artist (Nellie) and one other person has worked on it, and have covered up their 6" squares with muslin front and back (to preserve the secrecy). The only clues you have to work on are the theme, and the 1/2" margins that we are leaving. This is supposed to help us take a cue from what the adjacent artists are doing so that the whole thing will look cohesive once all the muslin are removed.
The theme of this piece was pattern. The artist to the right of me did hand-stitching, you can see the orange x's and white x's, which I then extended with embroidery stitches from my machine.
Here's how it looks before I cover up my square.
To see how the final piece looks in all its uncovered glory, check it out.

If you're interested in participating in this, signups for the second round are happening now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Macro View

Out in the garden this week, attempting to capture the close-up view. I noticed this large bee on one of my pincushion flowers.
After many many attempts I got this picture using macro zoom! I'm so thrilled to have captured a bee with no blurriness. Usually they are always in motion and hard to get a still of without a special shutter on your camera. But this particular bee was resting, punch-drunk on the pollen. Or tired. Shortly after this photo, the bee plopped off down into the grass. He righted himself but just kind of sat there. So maybe it wasn't such an achievement after all. But I still like the picture a great deal. Click to see it larger if you want to.The iris patch is taking off, bursting out with a lot of blooms. The jasmine is exuberant as usual. I had to pull it off of several adjoining plants and trees, as well as the second story deck where it was attempting to strangle one of my rose bushes. That stuff is relentless, but it sure smells good.
A closer view of an iris. These pictures were hard to get as there was a bit of a breeze and these long-stemmed irises were waving about. I like the hard edge of the iris' shadow on itself.
If you click on this photo you can see the beard really closely, it reminds me of a sea urchin! The beard gives pollinators something to hold onto as they climb down into the flower for the pollen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Robotic Mother's Day

It was left to me to choose our outing for Mother's Day. I almost chose going to the San Francisco Giant's game, but only my mom and I really enjoy baseball. All the menfolks who would be accompanying us would undoubtedly appreciate something else.

So I started looking up museums, and nothing in SF was too intriguing (although I'm psyched to see that Frida Kahlo and Dale Chiluly will have major shows this summer), and I thought to look at the San Jose Museum of Art. They were advertising an exhibit of Robot art, and hey Target was sponsoring the weekend, so it was free. Mom (and I) love a freebie, so that was the choice. Plus, less gas required than a drive up to SF.
The boys glommed onto the lego station and made some cool robot creations. You can see in the background behind Alex the gigantic robot banner. Photos weren't allowed but I got a special okay from the guard to take pics of the boys' robots. There were even some embroidered robots, but most were of harder material. The museum is trying a new thing and offer an iTouch to check out and take a video tour of the exhibit. It was cool, had interviews with the curator and the artist, showed more of the artists' work, etc. I thought it was a great innovation.

Then it was time for lunch at the yummy museum cafe. It was such a nice day we sat outside and waited. And twirled our number, that would be number twenty three. Paninni sandwiches all around.Here is Alex and my mom at the museum entrance. Note she is wearing the Mother's Day badge I made for her back in 1978 when the junior high school acquired one of those badge maker thingies. I was obsessed with that thing and spent a lot of my money to make them. 50cents apiece!That's my dad in the red shirt, I was far away on the museum steps using the zoom to capture him, as well as Zach and Marc. But somehow he sensed the camera. And froze. And started grinning. The other two were oblivious because they were distracted by the Happy Birthday Buddha celebration going on in the nearby plaza. The people were very nice and explained stuff to us, as all of the signs were in Chinese, it was a lovely display of Buddha related artwork, with flowers.
Zach doesn't go anywhere without this little guitar. Here he is practicing busking in front of the Fairmont.
One of the unsettling things about downtown San Jose is the flight path of the landing airplanes for the nearby airport. It goes right overhead, and since the airport is so close, the planes come in very low. I always think that the planes look like they're about to crash into the tall hotel buildings. Yikes!
Some city sculpture we found interesting. Alex tried really hard to tip them over (dont' they look tip-able?!) but they didn't budge. Somewhere in here we went to Ben & Jerry's and got tanked up on high-calorie delicious ice cream. But I was too sticky and sugar buzzed to take any pictures. But I did discover that there is an ice cream in this world that is too chocolatey for me, their Chocolate Therapy. Huh, how about that!
And on the way home, we had to stop at Guitar Showcase as Zach had broken a string on his guitar. It has a huge selection of guitars (duh!), keyboards, and drums. We were there for an hour fooling around on all the instruments, and watching him play $2,000 guitars. eeeek!

So, that was my Mother's Day, fun going out with the family, seeing art, eating good food and just being together. Perfect. Hope yours was good as well!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fun With Funghi

I'm not sure why, but these three large mushrooms were growing in my strawberry bed. Yes, I have been watering it, so it hasn't gotten very dry, so that is the how. It has to be pretty moist for mushrooms to grow, and this grew to a quite impressive size. And I'm guessing that there were some mushroom spores in the organic mulch that I just purchased and put on the top of the soil in that garden bed. That is all you need apparently, for freebie, free-loader mushrooms.
I was tempted to try eating one, but my son Alex talked me out of it in case they were poisonous. I told him I guessed I was too much of a Hobbit at heart(who are of course renowned for liking to forage for mushrooms and eat them!). Glad to know there is someone around here who is sensible!
I hope more grow so I can make some spore prints, unfortunately these were already mixed in with the coffee grounds in the compost bag so they weren't retrievable when I found out about spore prints.