Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tumbling On

Friend Jaye gave me a great gift, she cut a tumbler out for me for my tumbler charm quilt from all the fabrics she bought last year. And, oh you must go see her Fabric of The Year Quilt project, it is amazing!

What a great big bunch all those tumblers made. Very polka-dotty and fun. I sewed them all together and made three more strips for the king-size quilt this is intended to be.

One of them ended up quite long, down onto the floor, but it is the exact right size for the bed. Looking in my project box, I realized I had a lot of strips now, I wondered how many and how they'd look together. I put them all up on the wall and saw that many of them were quite short compared to the one long and correct strip, that goes onto the floor in the picture above.
And there was already a big stack of tumblers that I had cut out over the last year as I went through all my various projects. So I sewed those together and counted and matched up and now all of the strips are the same length and I'm much much closer to have a king-size bed sized quilt top. Hours and hours later...
Although they are still in strips and not sewn together...
I'd say this is maybe 2/3 of enough to make the whole quilt, there are 18 and 1/4 strips done. So I still have a whole lot of cutting and sewing to do for this project. One of those long-term projects that it is fun to pull out and revisit on occasion.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Some Scraps Corralled

So I've been lamenting my overload of scraps lately right?
Well, at last weekend's wonderful CQFA retreat, I managed to make a substantial dent in one of my scrap boxes by sewing random strips to a foundation. (The foundation was free fabric of course, the most atrocious seaside vacation print, no I'm not showing it to you, my retinas are still recovering).

The intention for these is to make many more of these quilt chunks of different sizes and then wide border them all in a deep red for a bed quilt. Or maybe black, we'll see.

I've been inspired by reading about scrap management at Quiltville. Not sure I'm into going quite that far to get the scraps organized, but it is making me think about how to make this valuable resource easier for me to actually use .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Quilt Finished of 2009

Last year I made my niece a big ol' bed quilt, which was backed with flannel in various colors. Those very colorful flannel scraps were lurking on top of the giant pile on my worktable that was stopping me from starting in on anything new.

I swear they were mocking me and teasing me.

So I sewed them all together and made a quilt out of them.

Hah! So there!
The plaid flannel is from something else, but was also in the same scrap heap. I thought it made a good contrast to the solid-ish colors. The quilt ended up 30x38".

I like how it turned out. Maybe she can drag this one around the house and have the big one on her bed now?

I free-motion quilted it using these new gizmos, Quilt Sew Easy Discs. They work pretty well. Not that much better than my old rubber dotted knit gardening gloves, but somewhat easier than taking gloves on and off to fool with the thread. I'll be trying them again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Atomic Pillowz Program Expanded

More pillows needed to be converted into Atomic Pillowz. Alarming Orange was called for, so into the 70's bin I dove:

No, I chickened out and didn't use this. I just didn't think I could bear to look at it every day in my studio. But what is it for? Why do I still have it? Should I use the "quilting" stitches as a guide and actually do what the fabric says to??? Don't you hate such bossy fabric?!

A bandana-ish print in a very strange orange brown, do not adjust your monitor, it really is that color! And yes, I used it in a pillow, along with some intense gold cordoroy.

No no no. I did not use this knit! Isn't it fabulous though? Soon to be part of a doll, I think the legs would be best.

After all this auditioning of fabrics, several more pillows have been covered in combinations of new and old fabrics. All in the atomic pillowz series, they make for a fluffy spot to sit and bead on my quilts by the window.

Two of them are using fabrics that didn't make it into the final design for Lunaea's curtain so she gave them to me. Thanks Lunaea! This one above has the handprinted sad eyes fabric that I printed a while ago in the center, surrounded by the freebie strips of fabric Lunaea got from the nice lady at Judy's Sewing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thanks Lulu!

New glasses! Yes, they are red instead of purple. Made by Lulu Guiness just like the purple ones, but instead of swirls and rhinestones on the temple, there are dotted asterisks with silver bumps. I love them so much and am re-thinking what colors I should wear to go better with them.
It is quite interesting to see who notices, who comments, and who doesn't notice and/or doesn't say anything about them.
I'm not naming names, as I've gotten over taking it personally, but still, it is surprising.
Glasses are like a screen, a mask that one is always wearing (when you're as vision impaired as I am). I feel naked comparatively when I wear contacts. So when the mask changes so substantially, it seems like it would be a noticeable thing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Following Your Fascinations

I'm a little late in posting this, my thoughts about the third chapter of the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, to read more, be sure to go over to The Next Chapter.

This third secret: "Following your fascinations" is very challenging one for me. "Fascinations have great power to keep us devoted and engaged". The chapter is all about how we need to figure out what we are passionate about, listen to our intuitive voice, and to silence our doubts long enough to be able to take risks.

When I first read that that about taking risks, I thought uh,oh, I'm not going to like this chapter very much. I find it hard to take risks, and have to really push myself to get out of my own way a lot of the time. But she points out the difference between spontaneous, impulsive risk-taking and calculated risks. A creative person needs to take both types, not just the leaping into the unknown with no plan type. Okay, good, I can deal with that. A little self discipline here is what is needed, coralling oneself from the distractions of all the shiny,fun things on the sidelines and having a plan to making a new leap.

"And the truth is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more." - Erica Jong

I think there is a lot that I'm holding back on trying, attempting, or beginning. And after reading this one chapter I'm realizing that I just need to break through that mini-wall of fear about failure, make a plan for following through and give it a go. Having a talent for worst-case-scenario thinking may be a plus here, I can imagine the worst and plan backwards from there...

What is it that you need to do, to take a risk? Once you've followed your fascination through all the safe waters and need to push your boat out into the bigger river?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Creature of the Studio

Look at this, I finally caught my studio cat in action and got a good picture of her. Pele is blind in one eye and we think, slightly brain damaged. Her brother knocked the scratching post over on her when she was a kitten and she almost didn't survive the injury.
She's a real sweetie, but only is seen after everyone else has gone to sleep. Most of the time she lives under the couch in the studio, but she loves to sleep curled up on my messy cutting table. So I have to remember to put the tablecloth over it when I leave the room, otherwise everything gets coated in her fur. bleah.
I feel like she is my cat since she inhabits the room where I spend my creative time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Free Fabric Haul

Free Fabric Giveway!
I heard the siren call and couldn't resist any longer.

So the stars aligned and I finally attended the semi regular giveaway put on by a couple that really likes to recycle. They travel to San Francisco to get the display samples from interior design companies, spread it out on tables in their house, and then give it away to people who want it. Otherwise it would all get thrown away! Brilliant, eh?
(edited to add the web site for FabMo, check it out if you're in the SF Bay Area)

Can you imagine? All this beautiful silk? In the landfill?

Or all this linen, which I am going to try dyeing and painting and stamping.

A silk curtain, hemmed and everything, perfect size for a spot in my house.

One of the things I wanted to work on this year was trying sheers in some of my work. Here is some.

And then some more.
All silk blends, and all very useable!
Very pleased with what I was able to find, and I've already begun using some of it. Sure it is a bit of a hassle to take tags, and gluey stickers off, but hey, it is free, and it is staying out of the landfill...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wrong Season, Right Chair

Newsflash: I finished something!
Yes, the old deck chairs that I was supposed to re-stain and make new slings for this last summer are done. For some reason I chose the middle of winter to do this.
Probably because of the week of 70F + temperatures we had.

Now they are stored inside the garage staying dry as the rain pours down. But they're done!
It was a good week to choose. I got to sit outside and enjoy them! Now I'm realizing that I really need to make little neck pillow for them. I have some coordinating orange/yellow print outdoor canvas that I think I'll use. Maybe they'll even be done by ....
next winter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Close, Closer, Closest

Walking around while waiting for new front tires, I finally got to take some pictures of a vintage motel sign I've always admired.
One of those things you see and say to yourself , "oh, I really should get a picture of it before they take it down and put up a Motel 6 sign". But you never do, because it isn't in a destination area, it is in that in-between destinations zone that one just doesn't ever have a reason to stop in. But when you are walking then there is time and opportunity and if you have your camera, all the better.

I took these pictures in sequence as I walked towards the sign. I think it is useful and interesting to look at them all together in a group, it helps me examine my use of framing and editing in my other art pursuits.

There is so much vertical emphasis with those big trees right next to it. They seem out of proportion to the sign.

Switching to a vertical format makes it seem more intentional to have all that verticality in the image.

From this view, it looks like the sign in hung on the tree right behind it.

My favorite view of the sign. I'd love to have that font to use on my computer. I bet there already is a "Vintage Motel Font".
For more great vintage motel signs (but not vintage Hotel signs! Oh no, not allowed) check out this flickr group.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Two More To Do

Here are two new patterns I've bought recently, they're both from Indygo Junction.
Now normally, I wouldn't buy something from a company that intentionally (at least I hope so!) mispells one of the words in their company name. That kind of thing just irks me, not sure why, but it does. Don't get me started on Disney's Winnie the Pooh. arrrggghhh, not helpful when you're trying to teach your kid's to learn to read and spell!
But the designs were eye-catching to me to get past the company name, as well as the interesting fabric choices in the models made up on the front.

I am admitting to myself (and you), that I know that I suffer from an addiction for buying clothing patterns that I don't always get around to actually making. I have several projects that have been cut out, (which is where most of my missing pins are, the pins are still holding the pattern paper to the fabric pieces!), and I have a few in-process projects in various stages of sewn-together-ness that have been in-process for so long, they are probably honestly never going to make it into my clothing closet.
But this particular pattern caught my eye. Probably because I made a skirt out of the fabric on the lower left part of the left-hand dress. But I'm looking for new ideas on what to wear during the day. Knit pants and tops or knit shorts and tops is just getting too boring. I did find that I liked wearing the skirts I made myself last year, so maybe a dress or two in spring-y fabrics would be a good bet for breaking out of my apparel rut.

Just look at the detail of the hem on the left. That was what made me buy this pattern. Oh, that and the cool fabric choices shown. And probably the assymetrical closure. That and I need new pj's and haven't much in the stores to my liking. Now to go shopping in my fabric stash for likely candidates to make these up. Maybe even in my box of Asian fabrics... I'll let you know if I actually start/and/or finish them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Beautiful Beginning

photo from Reuters.

I'm so proud of my country today, just beaming with pride, and filled with joy that we've finally passed one of the lines we needed to cross. Sometimes it is forgotten how young our country really is, compared to so many others, but now I am wondering: Are we finally growing up past our troubled teenaged years? Seems like it maybe...

The most stirring part of the brilliant inaguration speech to me was this part:

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. "

With fingers crossed that it comes to pass.

And on a girly, fashion-conscious level: do we have a stylin' first lady or what? Her outfit is just beautiful, so appropriate and fresh, (I'm coveting those green gloves!), apparently the designer Isabel Toledo didn't know that Michelle Obama would be wearing her design. That would make your day wouldn't it?!

And on a personal, admittedly petty level, I'm so relieved and glad to finally get to remove the Bush countdown clock from my sidebar.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nevermore Redux

Since it is Edgar Allan Poe's birthday today, he would have been 200 today, don't miss seeing this "special" raven cake over on CakeWrecks.
And oh, here are the other postcards I've made so far for the Raven Postcards Challenge.
This one has machine embroidered leaves and other machine embroidery on top of cotton scraps and upholstery fabric.
This excellent logo from a bookstore snagged online, printed out on cotton, surrounded by cotton scraps including some of my older discharged works. I'm finding I like this one diamond stitch on my machine. It is repeated three times, so the stitching is substantial and stands out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Remembering the Frozen Past

It seems like forever ago, but we had a bit of a cold snap just two weeks in the past. Hard to remember when we're in the middle of the normal early summer in the middle of winter week. Outside water bowls were iced over, the deck was slippery, that type of thing, not too major compared to the rest of the country of course. But I took some pictures, because just that little bit of a temperature change below the freezing point really changes how the mundane looks.
A car window looks so thick and strong under all the ice coating it.

The dying rose gets a last chance of beauty when dusted over with frost.

Even the deck railings were more interesting looking. So furry and soft.

Looks like powdered sugar has been sprinkled over the dead ferns.

That one big drop of frozen dew really drew my eye. And I now see that the outline of the hollyhock flower is edged in white.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nevermore Again

Another raven postcard for the challenge. This one made with three colours of plastic bags layered and melted over cotton, with word and picture of raven printed out on cotton, fused on, a picture from a paper napkin, then all outlined with fabric paint dots.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Honoring My Inspirations

The second week of reading "12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women", and the secret is Honoring Your Inspiration

For me, it all comes down to noticing. Being present, where you are, right now, breathing in, breathing out. The usual loveliness of a river scene suddenly transformed by two tiny steps taken in the right direction.

That is all it took.
Two steps to the left.
And then I got this.
One of my favorite pictures I've ever taken in my life.
All because I looked, really truly looked at what was right in front of me. Something I've seen so many times, that the beauty of it is mundane. But suddenly transformed by the moment's observation being captured by the lenses of my eyes and camera.
This lesson is taught over and over again when we spend time out in Nature. (and yes I capitalize Nature, just like another person might capitalize God). But most of the time we're closed off to noticing it, and aren't learning this lesson.
What is it we are supposed to learn?
I think that the ultimate point is that: it is all here, right in front of you, everything you need to create whatever you imagine, every curl of every leaf, every crisscross of branches, face glimpsed in a rock or sinuous movement of a garden snake left in the dirt at your feet. All of this is your source material for a lifetime of artistic creation, if and only if you slow down enough to notice it, absorb it, record it and then go back to your studio and use it.
A quote from this chapter of the book: "Nature has been for me, for as long as I can remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion." Lorraine Anderson

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Sunny Exquisite Corpse

Another one of the round two exquisite corpse projects has been revealed, so I'm going to show the part I did on Susan's. Hers was divided up rather differently in pentagon shapes arranged in a flower shape, only meeting up at the center. Each of the spaces had a word, mine was Sun, if I'm remembering correctly.

Susan included green fabric cut in the correct shape to cover up the front and back, so the green you see is three other spaces that have been worked on. She also included quilt batting which made it nice to work on. She's right that it is hard to quilt after there are embellishments added! Here is the initial design I came up with here. I used several cottons as well as some gold velvety upholstery fabric.

Then I added some beading, and was much more satisfied with how the whole thing looks.
A closeup of the beading, with the enormous yellow bead serving as the focal point for the end design.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Persimmon Permission

Have you ever eaten a persimmon? I got talked into it recently by my son. He had eaten one somewhere and was trying to convince me they were good to eat. And I'm pleased to announce that he was absolutely correct, persimmons are definitely tasty.
Who knew?
My only experience with persimmons (Hachiya) was the ooshy squishy ones that used to lurk on the kitchen counter until my mom would make the fabulous persimmon bread for holiday gift giving. They weren't sweet enough until they were close to turning to the dark side.
Turns out there is another kind (Fuyu), which is firm and sweet and a lovely consistency. Reminded me of an apple, but not quite that firm. Not squishy at all. I'm glad I listened to Alex. And I'm glad we cut open the persimmon to see what it looked like inside (our standard M.O. whenever we try a new fruit or vegetable).
Now to make a persimmon carved stamp. Muuuuuuch easier than the pomegranate I wanted to do. I love the shape of the typical persimmon, so squat, stable, and curvy. The interior is an interesting design too, isn't it?
There is a persimmon tree that I admire every year as I drive by, it stands kind of alone in a field and is so beautiful in the winter, the orange globes seem lit up, as they are the only color in the landscape besides the new green of the grass below. Some year I will take a picture, but alas I am too late as the tree is now bare.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


One of the first activities I do in the new year is to use one of my many tarot or oracle decks to choose which animal guide will be accompanying me through the turn of the year's wheel. This year I chose the raven. Or the raven chose me. Whichever way you look at it, it is then no coincidence that there was a raven postcard challenge announced in the first week of the new year. I've gotten right down to work with one easy one made today.

This is my first 4x6" raven postcard made for the fiber artist group celebrating Edgar Allan Poe's 200th Birthday.

You can still join in if you'd like, over at: theraven_postcards yahoo group. They're due by the end of this month. I'm planning to make several more.

Most of the group is donating them to the Collage Mania FiberArt for a Cure.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia is having a big birthday celebration with all kinds of events including a seance where they'll try to contact the spirit of Poe.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Acknowledging Your Creative Self

That is the first secret in the book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor
that I'm reading as part of a virtual book club Next Chapter The book begins with the author's (Gail McMeekin) personal story of overcoming Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to completely refashion her life with the aid of her own creativity. I find this so familiar and still very inspiring, as it is basically what I am right in the middle of trying to accomplish for myself.

I especially liked this observation that she makes: "I had transcended the New Age distortion that I was to blame for my illness and stopped trying to regain my old life. Every time I pushed myself to do work that was overly stressful just to earn money, I relapsed immediately. I finally understood. It was time to redesign my life in line with my limitations and with total allegiance to my truth."

Oh my goodness does that ever ring true for me. I had the experience a couple years ago where it literally took me months after reading "The Secret" to call bullshit on that particular nugget. Of course I am not to blame for my illness. My illness may be present at this time in this life for me for a reason. It is definitely a teacher that I am learning from (like it or not), but there is no way that anyone can convince me that I chose this illness. That is how I define being able to assign blame, there has to be a choice involved. Nothing I did in the past gave me this illness, I was born this way. period.

After finally jettisoning that particular burden I felt freer to work on the next part: Stopping trying to regain my old life. Regret, shame and despair were the themes here as I replayed the litany of how I used to be, what I used to be able to do and what I thought my life possibilities and plans were, yadda, yadda, whatever. Not a fun part of the journey there. But once I was able to accept that the old life I lived is not where I'm headed, I was able to let that go. I'll be honest that I still re-visit this particular lesson over and over again, but it is getting easier each time to get through it and let go of the grasping on to "how it was supposed to be".

So with all this energy no longer focused on fighting the reality of my circumstances I was able to use it to start in with harnessing my creativity. A sweet plum to enjoy at the end of this period of trial and tribulation, but it was so worthwhile in reaching it let me tell you!

I'm looking forward to the rest of this book, mainly for advice on how to accomplish the next steps, now that I've acknowledged my creative self, so fully and completely, now what to do with that next? The picture accompanying this post represents my creative self, much bigger than me physically, undefined, amorphous, but still attached to me right at my own feet. That sentence makes me realize that I can then step this way or that and my creativity comes with me, no matter where I go. A good thing to really know isn't it?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Britex and 1000 Journals

Some photos from a recent trip to San Francisco with friend Jaye, specifically to go see the 1000 Journals exhibit at the SFMOMA, but first we had to stop in at Britex Fabrics.
I love going there, even if I'm not looking for anything, it fun to just be in a big city building devoted to fabric. Four floors of it. We were searching for a red flannel, but they didn't have much that wasn't girly or flowery or non-Christmassy. Oh well. But it was fun to look at the rack and rows of colors and sparkly embellished silks that cost more than my mortgage payment.

The 1000 Journals Project was started a few years ago by someguy, he sent out 1000 moleskine journals into the world, some requested, some at random. A website was set up where their location could in theory be tracked. Most of them have never been returned. But there were many on display at the museum. It was great fun to read through them all. Unfortunately there was a lot of stuff basically defaced by cretins and clods, I'm talking to you Mr. Orange Highlighter.

The way the exhibit was set up there was a reading desk attached to the wall, where the journal was also attached by a cable. Here is a photo of a page by one of my fave journalists Tracy Moore of zettiology fame.

But eventually we figured out that there were drawers underneath filled with glue sticks, markers and colored pencils. After a brief break looking through our purses to see if there was any interesting emphera to put in a journal entry, I found enough and started in on an existing blank page. It was hard working standing up, and with museum goers watching over my shoulder. But I perservered and came up with this (click pic for slightly larger).

I happened to spot another page done by Tracy Moore, this one was about lomography which is a funny coincidence as my son, Zach has recently purchased a Holga camera and is off on the adventure of lomography. Very fun results in his pictures so far. I'm trying to talk him into setting up a blog to put them on, more on that later I hope.