Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Red Letter Week!!

No, not from a quilty perspective, although I have gotten quite a bit done on one project. This week's events were of a more personal nature.

Not long ago, I blogged about welcoming a new member to our family, and joked that it wasn't an in-law or baby. Well, this week we again welcomed a new member into our family, and it most definitely is an in-law- in this case, a beautiful daughter-in-law. My oldest son finally decided to take the plunge into the matrimonial waters, and eloped with his chosen, Marly Sydney. I've had the pleasure of getting to know her long distance; they are in Florida, and we are in Utah. Thank goodness for today's technologies; without Instant Messenger, and, more recently a webcam, it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. And, to add spice to the mixture, she is from Colombia. So I have been frantically brushing up on my very rusty high school Spanish, and learning everything I can about her homeland. But, speaking as one who had the opportunity to travel and live overseas when I was younger, I am incredibly excited. We Americans are sometimes just to insular for my taste! And, speaking of technology- I've also been able to use instant messenger to start to get to know Marly's mother Mary, who is still in Colombia. That most definitely would not be possible without the online translators! Can't wait until spring, when we'll be travelling to Florida and I'll have the pleasure of getting to know her in person. Bienvenida a nuestra familia, Marly!

Closer to home, you can tell Halloween is almost here when pumpkins make their way home. Bentlee and her dad Lance came over one night last week, and we carved pumpkins for their step. Bentlee was given the chore of pulling out the seeds and fiber, and doesn't seem too thrilled with her assignment.

Lance came up with some inventive facial features for his pumpkin--

A couple of days later, Shannon and I carved the last two pumpkins for our porch. We decided to take a different tack, and carved leaf shapes. Fortunately, I've collected quite a few to use as patterns, so we had a good variety to draw from. Here's lefty Shannon, hard at work on hers---

And, I've managed to get a lot done on the house quilt. I started thread painting the plants for the yard, and am quite happy with how they are coming out. Here's a couple of samples--

The larger 'bush' uses both thread and fabric 'confetti', which was fun to make. I've been using Aqua Magic for the soluble stabilizer, and am very happy with how it is performing. It washes out easily, and doesn't seem to leave a residue like Solvy sometimes does.

I pinned the piece up on my design wall for the first time, to audition fabrics for the bottom part- the sidewalk, as it were. I finally decided to go with the same fabric I've used for the walk and the driveway- which means I'll have to find more somewhere. Then, I'll have to figure out what I want to border it with- I'm thinking something that will help give the effect of a picture frame. Here's a picture I "photoshopped" to audition the fabric, with some "plants" pinned into place.

A few more bushes and plants to make, a rather large tree in the front planting bed, and a rock or two- and it will be ready for quilting. I think I'll make my self-imposed deadline on this one!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Getting the landscaping underway. . .

No, not on our home- thankfully, someone else takes care of that, so I don't even have to think about it. After finishing the luminosity quilt for our art quilt group, I'm back working on the house quilt. It will be a present for someone, hopefully no later than Christmas.

I got a sky I'm reasonably happy with, am auditioning my hand-dyes for the mountains behind the house, and have the front yard about done. Maybe this week I'll start thread-painting the plants and tress that I'll applique around the house. Lots of foundation plants, they'll help camoflage the join between the house and the front yard! Here's progress so far--

Rather than fuse multiple layers of fabric for the yard, I used Sharon Schamber's Piecelique technique. I've found it works great for curved piecing. I've thrown in a tweak of my own- I use Liquifuse (now Liquid Thread) instead of glue. If you want to know about using that product instead of fusible web, Terry Grant has a great tutorial on her blog. I used it to fuse most of the house itself.

We had an interesting experience last night. A friend of ours does wildlife rehab, mainly birds. She had two great horned owls that were ready to be released into the wild, and arranged with Sundance ski resort to do it there. The setting is spectacular, and seeing the owls fly gracefully into the night was awe-inspiring. Here's Patty holding one of the great-horns before releasing it.

And here she is releasing the owl-

She will be releasing an eagle at Sundance next Friday-- I'm thinking we'll be going to that also. I've seen golden eagles up close at Patty's, and they are magnificent birds. Don't think I want to miss that one.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Does Mickey Make It Look So Easy??

In case you are wondering, I am referring to Mickey Lawler, the fabric painter and author. It was taking a class on her fabric painting methods that first introduced me to the idea that I was not dependent on commercial fabrics for my stash.
I have been trying to paint a sky for background on the house quilt I am making for a friend for Christmas. A simple, not cloudy, summer sky. How can that be so difficult?? And yet here I am, three fabric lengths later, and I am still not totally satisfied. Too dark, too stripey, a vertical line down the piece---argh!!!
Here are a couple of my efforts---

I think what I will end up doing is using the back side of one of these pieces. I have never watered down my paints as much as I did these, and they are still too dark!!

I've also finished my luminosity piece for the Salt Lake art quilt group meeting this week. I'm trying to get over the feeling that every piece I do should be a "masterpiece", and tried to approach this one as a study and learning experience. I'm ok with what I ended up with from a color and value perspective- not so happy with the quilting design I came up with. The entire effect looks too stilted to me. Maybe after I finish the house quilt, I'll do another one of these and try some other, more flowing quilting designs. Food for thought, here's a picture of the entire piece and a detail.

And for the not-quilting content, Sadie and I have been hiking up the canyon again. No more tree canopy over the hiking trail, the majority of leaves are gone. But the view from Vivian Park is still beautiful. even though the colors are much more subdued now.

Sadie and Dieter have become best buds in the short span of two weeks. They play hard, and then crash next to each other. In fact, the only family member who hasn't yet figured out how to get along with Dieter is our cat Annabelle. She spends most of her time hiding in Shannon's closet, and then creeps out at night when he's crated. Hopefully he will figure out that she doesn't want to play with him, and that chasing her does no good.

I've added a site meter to my blog, and am fascinated with the locations of people that visit me. The internet certainly has given us a window to the world that didn't exist when I was growing up! I'm trying to be more conscientious about leaving comments when something strikes me on a blog I visit, since I enjoy getting comments also. So, if you see something you like, let me know! And, if you want to critique any of my quilts I post, please feel free. I consider myself a learner and a student, who is playing catch-up in many ways. There is so much gorgeous work out there- I'd like to think that I've got some striking art in me. So I keep plugging away, making pieces I hope others like and from which I try to learn how to make better art in the future.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I DID IT!!!!

It has taken me over a month , two books, and endless frustration with HTML code that I understand just enough of to be dangerous- but I have finally managed to personalize my blog banner! Thanks to all those other bloggers who went before me, because frankly, it was looking at your coding that was the biggest help in figuring out my own.

I spent last weekend and part of the week working on a small challenge with the Fast Friday Fabric challenge group. If you want to see my completed piece, head over to the FFFC blog.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the "assignment" the newly formed Salt Lake Art Quilt group gave interested members. We were to come up with a small quilt to show the illusion of luminosity. I've been playing with ideas in my mind and on the computer, but this week I finally got to work. I had intentionally dyed my yellow to violet overdyes with this project in mind. I have gone back to my roots in quilting, I decided to use the simple "Strips that Sizzle" block from Margaret Miller. I have always loved how you can get spectacular results with such simple component blocks. Anyway, here's the arrangement I've liked best so far:

I really prefer arrangements that don't have a central focal point. I tried some arrangements that had more of a focal point with these blocks, and it just doesn't work for me. I was going for the "sprinkling" of light across the surface of the quilt. Have I succeeded? These are just up on my design wall, so I still have time to play with them and finish the quilt before we meet on the 18th.

We are definitely into autumn here. Last night we took the grandkids to the Spanish Fork Harvest Moon celebration. It was geared to kids, with a focus on the arts. Bentlee and Jaden got their faces painted, saw leaf art being made, and had fun in a kid-size hay maze. And, here they are as lively scarecrows--

It's a long weekend for us, so I'll be spending more time in the studio. I'm trying to get the house quilt done for a friend by Christmas, and I'm easily halfway there. Time to audition fabrics for the sky--

Monday, October 02, 2006

An Addition to our Family, and a Challenge Piece Finished!!

First, no, we didn't gain another grandchild, or in-law- this addition to our family is of the four legged variety. Daughter Shannon is an animal lover, and has been all her life. She has been working on us to get a second, smaller dog- and she finally succeeded. She is now the adoptive mother of Dieter, a Schnauzer DJ found for adoption at a shelter.

We figure he's about a year old, and he's been well-cared for- groomed and all. And, best of all, he has a mellow disposition and is getting on famously with our border collie Sadie. Here they are taking a companionable nap together while I sew--

As for what I've been sewing on- I joined a challenge group that formed off the QA list, the Fast Friday Fabric challenge. Once a month, a challenge is posted, and we have one week to complete the project. The first one was posted last Friday, and I finished it tonight. Since the challenge isn't up until this Saturday,I'll refrain from posting a picture until then- but I am pleased with my results, which incorporated a 3-D element- something I've never done.
Fall is here in all it's glorious color. The mountains just to the east of us are ablaze with reds and yellows, a sight I never get tired of. And we've been having wonderful Indian summer weather. If only we could skip straight from fall to a couple weeks of winter over Christmas, and then right to spring- I do so dislike all the long dark days in winter. But, for now I will enjoy the glories of God's wonderful creation.