Sunday, January 28, 2007

Postcard Mania

I've been plugging away this weekend on postcards for Karey Bresenhan's Heart to Heart project and my own Art2Mail group. And, I suspect I have done enough to mail some to family.

I have plenty of reds in my stash, so I'm using those. I've got my thread painted and Angelina hearts, which I posted last weekend. This weekend I've been quilting the cards. I'm going at this project a little backwards!

I dislike intensely trying to quilt around applique- and when you are doing a 4 X 6 card, it becomes even more of a challenge. So I've quilted my backgrounds, and now I'll fuse the hearts to them. Here's a sample of what I've completed, with brightness tweaked with so you can see the quilting better.

Here's a closeup of my first-ever quilted feather. Could be better- but could have been a lot worse, too!!

I've done it this way before, and it works better for me. I'll also probably be adding some hand stitching and beads to the cards, just to make sure those hearts stay down. Oh, yeah, I think I'm going to stamp some hearts on them, too- already made a stamp just for this, and I have plenty of metallic and pearlescent paint. So, by next weekend, I should have the cards done.

I think we are all depressed or sick here. The inversion, the worst I have seen in years, is just nasty. It is no fun going outside, and I sure don't want to breathe the crud. So, send some good vibes our way that we get some good storms to blow out the valley. I'll even take snow as part of the deal, as lousy as our snow removal has been!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I have been tagged. . .

by Ferret, to list five things about myself I haven't previously disclosed on my blog. Now that I've had 48 hours to think about it, here goes!

1. I've been sewing and doing needlework all my life, as did all the other women in my family. I was making most of my own clothes by the time I was in high school- back in ancient times when girls had to wear dresses to school! I was introduced to quilting in the 1970's by my ex-husband's aunt, who owned a quilt store at the time. I loved filling in for her at the store.

After my husband and I split, quilting went by the wayside for years. I remarried. Then in the early 90's, my then 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. A friend re-introduced me to quilting with Margaret Miller's Strips that Sizzle, I think as a way to help me maintain my sanity. I cut dozens of fabric strips using a hospital meal table- and yes, it was a wonderful form of therapy. I got two quilts out of those strips, gave them to my two sons. And the daughter is now 19 and healthy.

2. The Beatles were my introduction to rock and roll as a young teen. I grew up in Southern California, and saw them live in concert three years running. Unforgettable, and yes I screamed my way through it all.

3. I've spent most of my life in the American West, and deeply love the incredible landscapes and wilderness we have here. I only hope my grandchildren have some of those same landscapes to wander in and appreciate when they are grown.

4. I love almost every form of music, from all over the world. I especially love almost anything Gaelic, African and Latin- I've got Shakira playing as I write. (Saw her in concert, too!) Listening to Latin music is a great way to improve your Spanish!

5. I got my piece of Andy Warhol's 'fifteen minutes of fame' at the ripe old age of 22. I volunteered for the Peace Corps straight out of college, and went to Zaire (Congo) in Africa, with 50+ other volunteers. En route there, we stopped at Entebbe to refuel- and were detained for four days. Idi Amin claimed we were a bunch of terrorists come to fight in a nearby civil war. Diplomacy got us out unscathed- but that was an interesting learning experience, to say the least! We were covered in newspapers across the US, and my younger sister had her picture in the paper holding "the last letter from her sister being held hostage!"

So there's my five. Well, at least I've had some very interesting experiences in my half century on this planet!

Not sure who I'll tag next, stay tuned with the next post!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


It has been bitter cold all week- I doubt it got out of the twenties. And, because there was a high pressure system sitting over us, we also have the dreaded inversion- or what anyone who has ever lived in a large city knows when they see it, SMOG!! I grew up in Southern California, and I certainly know the stuff- I'm just not used to seeing it in winter. In California, the usual smog season is summer. Here, it's worse in the winter. But it's yucky air not matter where or when.

The cold has kept the snow firmly frozen. Our HOA has hired a snow removal contractor that does a marginal job at best, so leaving home is sometimes an adventure in slip and slide. And the dogs continue to wade through eight plus inches in our tiny backyard!

I have gotten my first five postcards from my Art2Mail group. From top to bottom, they are from Josephine Edge, Tina Marie Rey, Betty Alofs, Judi Corrado, and Carol Thompson. I love how the styles are all so different. It really does brighten a day to find one of these gems in your mailbox!!
And, since it is hard to see on the group photo- here's a closeup of Josephine's. Her machine quilting is exquisite. I learned about feathers at the individual class I had with Suzanne Hyland, and I have a whole new respect for those who can do them well. As yet, I can't even draw them well, forget quilting them!

I'm working on my February set of cards for the same group, and doing some extras for Karey Bresenhan's Heart to Heart project, sending fabric Valentines to injured servicemen and women from Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever my feelings about this war, I do not want this generation of military to experience what my generation did after Vietnam.

Here's my backing fabrics:
And here's all the hearts I have spent this weekend making. Some are threadpainted, some are Angelina fabric. I used cotton, rayon, and trilobal polyester thread, and a couple of different metallics. I rather like the lacy effects I got!
That should make for some nice projects to work on during the week, when I am normally tired and don't have a lot of time. I'm also thinking I'll include some interesting yarns I have with the hearts.

I got a couple of very nice comments from Nellie and Vicky about the postcards I made and mailed last week. Working in semi-isolation, I often wonder what others think of my creations. Feedback that is specific is helpful, and has told me that my minimalist emerging style is working. I really do appreciate it when surfers on this blog leave me comments!

And, speaking of surfers on this blog- I like to read my sitemeter and find out where people reading my blog are from. I seem to have regular readers from Hungary, Switzerland, Australia, and several locations within the US and Canada. Who are you? I would love to know! I've encountered some interesting people and work by following comments back to the person's blog. Come out from hiding!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Return of Ms. Muse

Well, I think Ms. Muse has decided to come back out of hiding and play. I completed the first five postcards for my Art2Mail group, and can honestly say that I am happy with the results. My theme did not change from my original idea, but rather the way I 'solved the problem.'

I've come to recognize that my art is heavily influenced by my surroundings and the season of the year. I live in the high desert surrounded by mountains, and we have had plenty of snow so far. We haven't been dumped on like Denver- but I have at least 8 inches of the stuff in my very small backyard, which is creating some problems for our dogs! So, I was attempting to abstract snow on the mountains, using the cool colors of winter. I used my hand-dyed fabric for the backgrounds, and commercial for the mountains. I also was finally successful in figuring out how to cut fused Angelina fibers with a scrapbooker's diecut. We had one of a snowflake- and I tried a number of ways, all unsuccessful. We got it to work by making the Angelina fabric thicker than I normally do, and backing it with paper when we cut it. And, some colors work better than others. We had the best luck with cobalt. Ayway, here's the five completed cards.

I also found these cards to be a good way to practice machine quilting motifs and skills I learned after Christmas with Suzanne Hyland. I did a half-day semi-private class with her, and it was wonderful. I've known for some time that my machine quilting is the weakest part of my work, so I've been looking for ways to improve what I choose to quilt. (Believe me, I already know that the key to improving the quilting itself is practice, practice, and more practice.) I've been "practicing" on paper since the class- this was an opportunity to practice on fabric. I also used her Quilter's Preview Paper to design motifs specific to the cards before quilting them- the stuff is great!

I reach a milestone this week- on Tuesday I turn 56. I now know exactly what my mother meant when she talked about seeing a stranger in the mirror. I certainly don't feel that old. I've been blessed with good health all my life- now I'm having to pay attention to that. I want to live long enough to have a quilting career after my social work career!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Searching for the Muse

I did not spent a lot of time in the studio over the ho
lidays- I finished the house quilt, gave it to the intended recipient, and pretty much turned the sewing machines off. I did spend a day dye printing with my brother- but I was singularly unhappy with the results. I won't even post them, they've already been tossed in the overdye pile. For the foreseeable future, I'm done with wet on dry printing.

So today I got out fabric, WU- and started making my first five postcards for my Art 2 Mail group. I had an idea, one I was reasonably certain I could pull off. I spent most of the morning crazy-piecing backgrounds, cut them into cards, and started machine embroidering the first one. Ooh, it was looking good!! After that was all done, I decided I needed to paint a shadow in- so I grabbed my Caron d'Ache watercolor crayons. No, I did not test on scrap fabric, of which I had plenty. I went at the card, wet the color- and knew I'd made a massive mistake. Wrong color, it bled more than I thought it would, and the white on white fabric I'd colored did not take it evenly. It ended up in the trash.

Then I started looking at the other pieced backgrounds I'd made. One fabric kept screaming at me, "I don't belong here!!" I finally decided it was right, and ended up chucking every single card I'd pieced. I did manage to pull them off the Timtex, and salvaged that part of the cards. Good thing, because I didn't have enough left to make any more cards.

I did make a good start on five cards- very different from my first attempt. But it was a struggle. I'm wondering where my muse has gone on vacation, because she doesn't seem to be residing in the studio right now.

I did complete something over Christmas, however. I used to knit a lot, then gave it up. When my boys were young, I happily designed and made them sweaters. I hadn't touched a knitting needle in years. Then I found myself in the predicament of not being able to find a cream colored vest to replace one I've had for years, and literally wore out. I hunted for over a year, and finally decided this fall the fashion dictators were not going to permit stores to carry anything even close to what I wanted. So I bit the bullet, found a pattern on the internet, and dug my needles out of storage. And I finished it!

I grossly overestimated the amount of yarn I'd need- so I knit my daughter's dog Dieter a sweater too, thanks to a pattern I found on Judy Perez Coates blog. So, here are Dieter and I in all our sartorial glory!

Mine has vertical diamonds done in moss stitch next to the border. Dieter's has horizontal diamonds done in seed stitch, with cables on either side of them And, a lovely 2 X 2 rib turtleneck, which, surprisingly enough, he doesn't seem to mind.
A closeup of Dieter's sweater-

It was nice having a portable project- so, I'm looking for yarn for a second vest for me. But I sure hope Ms. Muse makes her way back home before long, I have a four-day weekend coming up. And I need her to play with!