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Friday, December 12, 2008

December Musings

Wednesday was a productive day. I canned "Soybean Casserole," a large batch of Crabapple Jelly with its lovely pink-red claret color, and decanted and canned North Country Maple Syrup.
I also worked on the annual Christmas newsletter and baked a batch of yummy Pumpkin Chip Cookies.
Earlier in the week I put out birdseed for the first time in several years. It took a while for the winged creatures to discover the treasure. For some time now I had been disheartened, extremely discouraged about a particular on-going life situation. Sending up one of those "arrow prayers," I asked for a sign (whether I should keep hope, or abandon it).
Several times I looked out and saw only sparrows and junkos at the feeder, but later in the day as I wandered by the window, I spotted a darling brown cardinal hunkered down against the cold wind, followed shortly thereafter by her bright crimson mate. Call it juvenile or simplistic, but I accepted the sightings as a reminder that one must never give up hope. I have seen cardinals in the front yard each day since.
I'm so glad creation wears many colors. Just think: all the fruits and vegetables could have been gray- yuck!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Found Objects

Several months ago I signed up for a "Found Objects" fabric postcard exchange. Always a scavenger, as I rode my bicycle almost every day, many things caught my attention: bolts, bottle caps, windshield wipers, discarded CD's, etc. The collection began to mount.
Then one day I walked through a riverside park and saw a flock of snow geese on the lawn. When I returned they were gone, but the grass was covered with white feathers. I collected some, thinking I could work them into my "Found Objects" theme. Unfortunately, the feathers were too curly to lie flat. Another idea came to mind after I found a stack of orange plastic squares, stapled together. These markers for use on road repair sites, were easy to sew through and with the addition of beads, I ended up with this rather unusual design.

Greetings From Tyvekistan

In October I was honored to host a Tyvek Trade for one of my online postcard groups. A friend in the home construction business gifted me with an armload of house wrap scraps from one of the sites where her husband works. I have been wanting to purchase some Jacquard Lumiere paints with their shimmers of gold, but figured out how to 'make my own' by laying down one acrylic color, letting it dry, then applying a wash of gold acrylic paint over that. Carefully melting Tyvek cut-outs layered between Teflon sheets with a hot iron yields unpredictable results.
To me the shapes suggest "New Hampshire Map," "Funnel," "Flying Pig," and "Twister." The pieces I received in exchange are all uniquely textured. This was definitely lots of fun!!! Having a great time in Tyvekistan, wish you were here!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dotee Fun Has Begun

Salt & Pepper Sally was my first Dotee doll. I had fun ironing on the star decals, and putting black and beige hair on top of her body, shaped like those wooden spoons for the ice cream Dixie cups we had as children. She's so cute, even a bad-hair day is a good day. When she left for Northampton, England I hated to let her go, but she must be happy there because I haven't heard much except that she arrived safely.
My second Dotee doll actually has pink and orange hair which started out as a closely cropped frizz, but soon required a weave. She flew to Puerto Rico right before Thanksgiving and hasn't returned.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rainbow QTC's, Summer Glitz QTC's

I enjoyed working on this series of Quilter's Trading Cards, like half-size postcards (2+1/2" x 3+1/2") made of fabrics and embellishments. I made anywhere from 6 to 11 of each color. For the backs, I designed a label with lines for name, date, to whom it was going, etc. with Print Shop program. Next are the Landscape QTC's, and possibly a private 1:1 swap using only white, and one using only black. After that, it may be time to move on to something else!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blue Autumn

The sky has been vivid, bright blue for two days now. Not hot, but the sun on my shoulders feels intense. I have been riding my favorite biking path, drinking in the colors of the foliage: golden yellows, coppery oranges, fiery reds. Just before dusk the sunshine makes the tree tops glow and I am just stunned by the beauty. I gathered still-green leaves to preserve with glycerine water for freezing; in winter I will be able to make leaf prints with paint. I also gathered peach, burgundy, and tangerine-colored leaves to pound as I have with flower heads. The previous time I tried this technique I promised myself I would never do it again. It takes tremendous effort to force the pigment from the petals and leaves into the white muslin. Hammering with such intensity hurts my thumb. I guess it's not worth it, but I just had to do it one more time. Soon I hope to post more autumn pictures of my favorite riverside trail.


The picture above was autumn leaves I picked, scanned in, saved as a bitmap, opened in Paint program... then I selected "invert colors" under the Image menu at the top of the screen. Since blue is my favorite color... And now, what they really looked like:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Autumn Views

Two days of warm, sunny weather must have been "Indian Summer" but now the rains have come. Several years ago I took pictures of the lovely foliage in this area. Many of them I worked into chapter headers in my book of poems. This is my favorite time of year. Sometimes the glowing hues take my breath away...
Autumn's colors proudly blaze,
then drift to earth on silent sighs.
copyright 1985
Along the back treeline across a field behind one country place I lived and never should have left, many animals made their homes. Here's my sign-out thought:
Sundown In The Country
(Slab City memories...)
The scream of the red-tail, the hoot of an owl,
and whimpers of wild creatures settling to night...
1980's copyright

Summer's End Postcards

"Green Sparkle" was another fabric collage with fusible-web backed cut out leaves. The overlay of netting adds little points of reflectivity to the postcards; ribbon, trim and beads were the final addition. I also made QTC's with the same fabric.

The postcard series "Melancholy Nets" seemed to need wedges of different colored netting to match the melon slices. I even worked the sparkly green into all of them. Then I topstitched whenever possible to accentuate the grainlines of the fruit. Looks almost good enough to eat, yes?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shake a stick?

Once upon a time I was a teacher. By choice, not by profession or training. I designed a twelve-week beginning quilting course with original materials, sketches and samples. My first run-through was in my home. The local co-operative extension office agreed to host my next series of classes, so I had a nice bright facility to use for several years. Then I put together an advanced quilting course which was held elsewhere.
Most of my students were eager learners. A few were hesitant, and their joyful realization that "I CAN do this!" pleased me as well.
One student, however, was not a beginner and she made it quite clear that she had a lot to add to my curriculum. When I tried to be encouraging, it only gave her the floor, which meant I lost it. I was perplexed about how to keep the class on track without hurting her feelings, until one day in a streak of creativity I thought up the "Magic Quiet Stick."
My idea was to walk around the room during my presentation. If someone was talking incessantly out of turn, I would touch her on the shoulder and "BLING!" she would instantly become silent and attentive.
Doubting the effectiveness of my invention, I decided to abandon the plan. I won't relate the sad conclusion of the matter, but I do have good memories of the first three out of four teaching sessions given at that facility. And I still have the "Magic Quiet Stick." It has never been tried. maybe it should have been...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sooooo Blue Postcards

These postcards were a delight to make for several reasons, first- blue is my most favorite color, and second- the print of this fabric is so diverse and versatile. Gold cording and butterflies were a quick accent for a pleasing end product. Wheeeeeeee!!!
I also made some blue QTC's (Quilters' Trading Cards) but will wait to post them with the red, orange, yellow, and green QTC's I've already made and the purple, pink, white, black, silver, gold QTC's yet to be made. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Aerial Thrill

On Saturday I was near the fairgrounds talking with some friends when I happened to look up. High above in the clear blue sky, a brilliant glint of white caught my attention. At first I couldn't figure out what it was, but seconds later, the source changed position and I saw it, a beautiful, majestic bald eagle. There was no mistaking the white head, brown outstretched wings and white tail. It lazily circled in the updrafts with nary a wing flap. Every time the angle was just so, the sunlight accentuated those white tail feathers in a very striking manner. I was thrilled! Having seen an eagle quite close up in the nearby marsh years ago, I knew they could be in the area but never had seen one flying over the city. Lyrics from two songs came to mind: "Lord, lift us up where we belong..." and "You are the wind beneath my wings."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beatles/Beetles Postcard Exchange

A fine member of one of my online fabric postcard groups (Postcardpizzazz) hosted a Beatles Swap recently. I was still slightly behind on making cards and QTC's so I did not sign up. However, I wanted to send her a card.

Remember Volkswagon Beetles? "Love bugs" with flowers painted all over them, "Flower Power?"

Thinking about the Beatles brought back memories from the 60's. When I was in grade school we shared the bus with Catholic high school girls. They were all ga-ga over some music group I had never heard of. (We didn't have a TV when I was growing up... never missed it!) For some reason my mother bought me a Beatle's album.

I had a little green and white phonograph in the (finished) basement. My younger sister and I played this new record. It was my first lp, as I had only had 45 speed (with the red plastic center inserts) and 78 speed records before that. We began dancing to the music, shaking our long hair all over the place and looking like a pair of crazies. All this without seeing anyone else dance like that. Weird!!!
So, instead of participating in the Beatles theme swap, I stepped a little bit outside of the box and made two cards with my own interpretation. I just love to add googly eyes to some of my postcards. They are so fun to shake! Hope you like it.
One of my postcard friends refurbished a touring bike, painted flowers and dots on it and rides wearing a long flowing scarf. I wanted to try and capture the image on a postcard, which I sent to her. She said I got pretty close on this one.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Flavors Of Summer...

The first postcard in my Flavors of Summer Series was created for a woman who just loves pineapple coconut ice cream, probably only available in Hawaii. I had fun using thin strips of Pellon interfacing for the coconut, and fused the pineapple chunks onto the light background. Next came chocolate, then black and red raspberry (or strawberry) with sprinkles on top, chocolate coated vanilla, butterscotch fudge ripple, and my favorite (okay, one of my favorites): mint chocolate chip. Don't the chocolate waffle cones look yummy? Catch that drip! Or as my mother used to say when we were children, "Here, let me help you with that." Yeah, right, Mom!

Sprinkles on ice cream make me recall
some of childhood's most colorful scenes of all:
trips to the city zoo, laughter well-spent
on raucous clowns in the circus tent;
birthday parties with lots of friends,
rainbow days with early ends;
fireflies, grasshoppers, bumblebees,
bright colored playclothes with patched-up knees;
marshmallows singed by a campfire's light
that flickers and leaps up into the night;
snow caves, and icicles sparked by the sun,
leapfrog and hide-n'-seek, all sorts of fun.
Sprinkles on ice cream I'll eat today-
I'm still a kid at heart, what can I say?!
Written 4/21/2001 Copyright 2001

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Button, Button, Who Has The Button???

Several days ago (or was it longer than that?) I was told in an off-handed way: "A button just came off my shirt." Since I am the resident seamstress, it is my responsibility to keep track of miscellaneous bits and parts and put them back together. I set the errant button on the cutting board in the kitchen.

The next day, while pouring the last little bit of hot Naking Cherry Jelly into a jar, I noticed something dark inside it. What??? Oh, the button. (How did it get in there?) Today I mixed up dough for four loaves of mixed grain bread. Somehow that button kept showing up in the flour. I was wondering if it might find it's way into one of the loaves, but I am happy to report that it is still on the counter. Maybe now I should go sew it on the shirt before the button gets canned with the Hamburger Soup???

I had a good day today, riding my bicycle to the dollar store for corn picks (they keep breaking off in the cob), then walking along the river on a trail which used to be a railbed. My friend and I took turns being dragged along by her big dog and her little dog. They both know how to slip out of their collars, just a little too tricky for my liking.

Many blackberry bushes along the pavement's edge begged to be picked. I intended to go back with my bike and a container but thunder rolled in. Some time later, rain poured down in sheets with ice chunks in the mix. Hail! Please don't bruise my tomatoes... Such a sweet fresh scent to the air afterwards. Mmmmmmm

Fabric projects in progress include a Threads Of Friendship postcard swap, a Happy 1st Birthday postcard swap for our group, silver QTC's (quilters' trading cards) and gold QTC's (these are swaps I'm hosting). I'm also working on green QTC's, blue QTC's and purple QTC's and my take on the Beatle's swap (but not what you might think). And cards to sew before I sleep...

Summer Dyeing

One of the fun activities of summers past was gradient dyeing. Some people call it "pickle jar dyeing," but I use canning jars because I have plenty of them. With only 4 or 6 jars and two dyes, a pleasing array of colors can be achieved. When the jars of dye and scrunched-up cotton fabric are lined up outside in the sun to "cure," they look almost as pretty as my filled jelly jars on the pantry shelf. The center stack of fabric started out as a lavender and white print. The other fabrics were white. If these daily thunderstorms let up, I just might go down to the basement and mix up some dyes.

My online fabric postcard swap groups hosted a MiniQuilt exchange, with size requirements of 8" - 10" square. I had fun using a picture I "saw" in my head to design the "Flowers Of Imagination" quilt. A background of purchased hand-dyed fabric, flowers cut from batik, some free-motion thread-painting on netting and washaway stabilizer, two fusible-backed butterfly cut-outs and some opalized clear glass beads for dew drops completed the quilt. (The striped border seems to be one of my trademarks. Now if only I could find some more of that narrow striped fabric!)
I'm working on a series of postcards which are truly yummy, but have to wait to post the pictures until someone out west receives her very special first one. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

More Fabric Postcards To Share

I had this teal/purple/blue zebra striped fabric and didn't know what I would do with it. An "Anything Goes" exchange came along, so I made four postcards, each different. One of the recipients suggested that I might be into swimsuit design. (Look at the cards sideways...)
While I was making some Yellow Quilters' Trading Cards "Lemon-Cheddar" using the fabric collage method, I decorated enough background to have some leftover for a few postcards. Adding pink and orange fabric bits prompted the name "Tropical Punch." I couldn't decide if I liked the card with or without added edge trim...
I had the same dilemma with the Asian Exchange postcard, another collage using three different fabrics. This shaggy sparkly black yarn demanded to be added after-the-fact. Maybe my discontent stems from my not really being a "frou-frou" type of gal.
The red gloves postcards, "Hands Of Friendship" were prompted by the cardboard inserts in a package of white cotton gloves. I fused red flowered fabric over the cardboard shapes, then added silk flowers, beads and lace "cuffs." One of the cards I sent to my dear chiropractor and his wife, my gifted massage therapist. Through their hands they have helped many, many people move from pain to better health. I'm so grateful for them both. They loved the card. Unfortunately, the other card never reached its Texas destination. I was disappointed and so was the intended recipient. I've made and sent her a replacement card, but it just isn't the same as the first. Isn't that life? This collage of chocolate bars was my contribution to a Chocolate & Beyond postcard exchange. It's made entirely of fabric and ribbon, except for the heart which was cut out of the shiny red cover of a box of chocolates. The "kisses" and "hugs" strips are white cotton, printed first on the computer. I scanned in the candy bar wrappers and printed out on fabric AFTER emptying each package, of course! Sometimes one must make a sacrifice for the sake of art!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July Postcards

These three postcards were put together for a "Just Lace" exchange. The one reminds me of a wedding cake. The cards with flowers on them may have stretched the theme, since I only used the knit lace for a backdrop.

Another recent swap was a Jungle theme. I had purchased some animal fabric, only to realize that most of the scenes represented the African plains. This leopard seemed to be the only true jungle animal. I didn't want to cover him up, so I added yarn "vines." Then the idea hit me to introduce the parrot as an actor in a Jungle film, and to tell the unfortunate tale of his imminent demise. He thought he saw a puddy-tat... Aawwwck!
The bright orchid card started as a cut-out from some lovely fabric. I used "thread-painting" techniques to cover each section with a similar colored thread. This was made for a dear woman who sent me a postcard with embroidered cheeky golden marmosets.

Fabric-Fun In The Sun

In the 1960's as a child I was poking around in a basement laundry room cupboard, when I found some photo paper on which I placed objects, then exposed it to light. The background darkened and the objects' images stayed light.

More recently I sent for a package of photo-sensitive fabric which acts the same way as the photo paper. From these squares of apparently plain white fabric, cyanotype prints can be made. The resulting white on blue prints are quite saturated in color. My experiments with part of a lace tablecloth did not work, but grasses and a plastic food tub cover made a "Moonlight" scene, while Queen Anne's Lace umbels gave a pleasing effect. I think Dharma Trading Company still carries this pre-treated fabric. They have a very tempting catalog!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fabric-Painting Playday

Hi, I'm back. Summer got REALLY busy with berries to pick and preserve, and it's only half over. Several years ago about this time, a fellow quilter invited our guild members to gather in her farm fields for a fabric-painting playday. Under a tent we painted white cotton fabric with sun-sensitive paints, then placed items to resist the sun's rays and exposed our piece of fabric to sunlight. That was alright, but most fun was seeing the instant results when we floated bright colored paints on the surface of thickened ("sized") water in a large metal tank. By swwirling the paints with a comb we created shapes like the marbelized linings inside old book covers. Here are some of my experiments, which of course I haven't been able to cut up and/or use yet: Sorry this is so spread out... I haven't learned how to make these pictures line up where I want them to! And when I try to delete some blank space, the pictures disappear on me. Oh well...