Monday, May 31, 2010

Name This Quilt!

I started making this a long time ago.  I had this pink fabric from a dye gradation that had an area that looked to me like a splash in a pond.  Never mind that it's pink.

So I quilted around it and added some foil and some Angelina scraps.  Around the time I was making this, I took a beading class, so I started adding beads.  I guess I thought I was going to bead the whole thing or something.

I made a couple of frogs á la Christie Friesen to complement the little frogs stenciled on the fabric.  I made some (out of scale) lilypads and flowers for the frogs.  Then I got sick of beading and sick of the pink, so I put it away.

Fast forward to last week.  I have been working on a piece for a show in Beaver Dam, WI -- the "Waves and Water Exhibit"  at the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association.  It wasn't going well and with all the horror happening in the Gulf, I remembered the pink thing.  I had wanted to make a statement about disappearing wetlands and how frogs are the cave-canaries of the marsh.  But short of "Toxic Swamp" or "Marshy Mess," I'm not coming up with much.  Nothing with even a whiff of elegance.  Or at least something that would let it stand on its own.  "In the Pink,"  "In the Drink," "Everybody into the Pool," "Swamp Gas," "Wetland Witness," nah...

I took it to a meeting of Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists.  I had been asking about methods for hanging pieces, but when I set this out and arranged the polymer clay bits, everybody said, "you should display it flat -- just like that."  Apparently there is space for a 3D horizontal work.  Cool.  Now if I can just come up with a title.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blah Blah Blog

Watercolor crayons and pencils on cotton fabric and threads

"A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world."
-Edmond de Goncourt  French artist & novelist (1822 - 1896)

When I started this blog, I was not going to post when I didn't have anything of note to post.  I wanted to focus on my art and avoid the temptation to indulge in loquacious inanities.  My motto was going to be:

"There's no point in doing a lot of barking if you don't have much to say."  -Snoopy

Remember when you were a kid and the deejay would blah blah blah over the entire intro of a song -- your favorite song -- and then start blabbing again before the song was over?  I remember thinking, "Why do they think that what they have to say is so much more important than my hearing this song?"

So when I took broadcasting/communications classes during my first few years at college, I refused to be a deejay.  I'm just not that important.  Or maybe I am, but I just don't want to be a blabbering boor.  Of course, you probably have to be a certain age to remember listening to AM radio deejays.  I don't think that my kids ever listened to AM radio.  Or even radio at all.

They started out listening to the (fabulous) music I introduced them to and, as the teen years kicked in, rapidly turned on me.  They now listen to what I can best describe as "kill-your-mother-music."  But I know that my parents felt the same way about the music I listened to and probably their parents felt that way about theirs.

The Creative Cue a couple of weeks ago was "mother" (just in time for mother's day, I noticed).  So for mother's day I got these:

And for my birthday the next week, I bought myself these:

(they were on sale and I am my mother's daughter and can't resist a sale.)  My mother's motto was,

 "If I can't get it wholesale, I don't need it."

Five years ago, I bought four little hibiscus trees (on sale, natch).  I bring those little trees in every fall and enjoy their blooms all winter.  Every spring, I move them back outside and let them hang out on the front porch until the weather is done freezing -- actually, I just need for the plants in the garden to get tall enough that The Neighbors can't see me sitting out there reading and drinking.  Then I "plant" the trees, pots and all, until fall when I have to dig them up and bring them back in.

So a couple of weeks ago I was whining that I hadn't seen a robin.  Well, one of them built a nest in my little hibiscus tree while it was still on the front porch, so now I can't "plant" it out in the garden.  She built that nest and laid an egg and then flew off.  Awfully irresponsible, if you ask me.

Then she came back, and I noticed that if I got too close -- off she flew.  We're up to four eggs and she does sit on that nest as long as I stay away from the front window and off the porch.  Picky, picky.

The eggs will hatch in 14 days and then 14 days later, the robinettes fly away. In my opinion, you get your street cred as a mother after you survive the teen years of your offspring.  Hers are unfairly short.

So I have lots of projects that I have been working on, but none of them is blog-worthy.  Or maybe the correct term is just not quite blog-ready.  But I'll get going and have some real stuff soon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Online Quilt Festival!

Amy's Creative Side is hosting another online quilt festival!

My entry is "Jungle Star."  It is the first feathered star quilt I ever made.  It was the first of my quilts to win a ribbon -- 3rd place in the Sun Prairie Heritage Quilt Show for mixed techniques - pieced and appliquéd and quilted on a home sewing machine.  It was also displayed at Olbrich Gardens in the fall festival the next year.

I thought that the squares in the center of each star looked a little harsh, so I appliquéd  (needle-turn) some more of each design over the edges to continue the picture out into the star.

For a look at other quilts in the show click here or on the Blogger's Quilt Festival button on the right side of this blog.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Trouble

with dyeing and painting my own fabric is that it gives me too many choices.  I started dyeing and painting my own fabric because I was never happy with all the choices available at the store, but now I have too many.  Go figure.  Of course, sometimes I get so caught up in the whole color thing I forget that I'm supposed to actually do something with the fabric.  Sheeesh.   I think that having fewer choices makes me be more creative.  But then, there is a lot of creativity involved in putting color on fabric.  Hmmm...

I have figured out how to make a collage in PhotoShop.  Cool, huh?

So which background did I choose?  Um, well -- none of the above.  Yep, I overdyed one that was similar to one of the above for something completely different.  It figures.

Below are the threads I have chosen -- sometimes it's hard when you see so many shades of grey...

But now it's time to stop agonizing and just do it.

"Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one's face."  
~James D. Finley, Textile Executive, 1917 - 2003

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Buncha Blocks

I've been catching up on some blockage.

These are some of my favorite traditional blocks.  I know that they have many different names, but I prefer to call them "shining stars."  I particularly like these because they are well suited to particular piecing á la Paula Nadelstern with all the diamond shapes and the way they fit together.  When made with the right fabric choices, they truly shine.  Although, I think, they look pretty good with any fabric choices.

I have also been working on the blocks for my piecing club (the other posts are here and here).  And yes, I know that the outer triangles on that top block aren't sewn on yet -- I'll get to it.

I haven't made all the the blocks because I just wasn't crazy about them.  This month the two blocks are made with the dreaded "A-word" (appliqué) -- so I'm saving up used dryer sheets for that.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Play That Song

with the funky break.  This week, the Creative Cue is "break."   I have had "Blinded By the Light" by Bruce Springsteen playing in my head all week.  This is a thread sketch of my son playing a funky break on his newish guitar.

Monday, May 3, 2010

TCB -- Takin' Care of Biz

Yesterday, in my rant about the tree, I forgot to mention a couple of things.  First, my darling daughter, age 10, gave me a wonderful mayday basket when I got up.

She has been rather secretive of late -- working on some project she didn't want me to know about.  Since Mother's Day is next week and my birthday shortly after, I decided I should not worry.

This basket is amazing.  There is a removable butterfly, a pencil, and a shiny stone in it.  On each side is a note made from stickies -- one says "hello" inside and the other, "happy belated may day."

Inside there are drawings of a sun shining and an apple, which is a continuation of the apple tree she drew on the bottom of the box.

When I took Rosie-the-dog on her aprés-dinner walk, I encountered a neighbor who told me that my daughter had given her a mayday basket with some drawings and a sprig of lilac in it.  She teared up when she told me how much that meant to her and how special she thinks my daughter is.  How sweet, I thought.

Also yesterday, Robbie, who blogs at Robbie's Paw Prints, posted about using glue and alcohol inks.  She gave me credit for inspiring her and also gave me some new ideas.  How cool.

The Creative Cue last week was "pocket."  I thought of a car I had way back when I was young, single, and gorgeous.  It was a Honda CRX and a car magazine at the time labeled it a "Pocket Rocket."  Of course, I had the economical 4 cylinder model, but it was still fun to drive.  And I looked cool in it.  Then I thought of the old Little Feat song, "Rocket in My Pocket."  Actually, I'm not sure that they were talking about the kind that NASA shoots into outer space.  But that's where my mind went.  This is my very first doodle.  How fun.

Finally, I have a bunch of new followers -- to them, I want to say, "Welcome."  And the same to all the old ones because I may not have had such good manners then.  Welcome.  And thanks for following.  How great!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunprinting and a Useless Tree

I hate this tree.  It is beautiful for exactly three days every year.  The rest of the time it drops nasty fake fruit everywhere that the kids track around everywhere in the house.  Even though there's a No Shoes In The House rule.  The leaves that it drops are too small to rake and its low hanging branches threaten to decapitate anyone mowing the lawn.

It is in the perfect place to provide shade for the back patio, except that it's a fake fruit tree and not a shade tree -- too short for shade.  So why not chop it down?  Because for a couple of days every year, I can use it for sunprinting.

When the petals from the flowers fall onto freshly painted fabric, beautiful things happen.

Rain was forecast for the entire weekend and I figured it would knock all those wonderful petals off the tree and onto the grass.  What a waste.  But to my joy and amazement, today was beautiful and sunny and not too windy.

So I got out my paints and my fabric and got my DH to help me move my table out onto the lawn under the tree.  Of course, the neighbors probably thought I was nuts: shaking the branches so that the petals would fall onto my painted fabric.  "What in the world is she doing now, Martha...?"

Or maybe they already thought that from the dye experiments that decorate the front yard.  "Look, Martha, she's at it again..."

These are the results -- heat-set with an iron, but not washed.  I always let them cure for a day or two after the heat-setting before I wash them  --not sure that it makes a difference, but it can't hurt.  Washing them gently with a little Synthropol makes them soft.

I never use fabric softener on my fabrics because I never know what I'm going to do next -- dye, paint, fuse, stitch -- I like to keep my options open and fabric softener limits those options.

Yep --those are my toes -- it felt like summer today!

And if I need it, I can get shade on the front porch -- as well as spy on the neighbors.

"Look, Martha, she's sitting there reading a book and drinking..."  Hmmm....