Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let the Season Begin!!

We brought in the tree and decorated it last night. We've learned that when you have vaulted ceilings, anything but a tall tree looks dwarfed in the space. So we look for the tall, skinny trees, with plenty of room for ornaments.

A tall tree also presents challenges in getting the decorations up top- but that's what kids are for, right?? Bentlee and Jaden hand the ornaments to their dad,

who then gets them up there!

These ornaments look as good as I'd hoped! And the kids loved my giant orbs, just like I knew they would.

So here we are, all decorated and lit--

Shannon is looking through her favorite recipe website to find creative ways to use all our leftover turkey.

The mantle also gets a makeover for the holidays--

And with the change in weather, the room now feels cozy and warm. We've had the warmest autumn I can remember, but it has been cold, gray, and drizzly all weekend. Time to snuggle up with a book, knitting, and comfy quilt!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Silk Scarf Dyeing

I stayed up later than normal last night, but I got the studio cleaned, and all the scarves washed and hung to dry. Here they are, ironed.

The yellow one on the left went through a couple of dyebaths, the second to try to fix a disaster that happened in the washout. I think it worked. Then I used a Pearl Ex stamp pad with a couple of stamps, one I carved, and one commercial. The blue one I discharged, using a thermofax screen of rocks that I photoshopped. Love how this one came out. The green one is also discharged, using a thermofax screen. It's supposed to be a frog in a triangle, but it didn't come out that clear. The turquoise one I used a thermofax screen of a page from my great-grandmother's high school graduation essay, with gray thickened dye. The last one is just blue- I did try a couple of stamps on it, but they didn't work. So I may go back in on this one.

These are the wild ones! The ones in the center and on the right I first dyed a pale value color, then shibori wrapped them and dyed a second, darker color. I learned I will have to find a longer length of PVC for wrapping, I don't like the horizontal lines I got where it overlapped. But otherwise, I'm happy with these. The one on the left is almost comical. It was a bright turquoise I'd actually dyed a few months ago, on a silk chiffon. I wanted to tone down the turquoise a bit, so I figured an overdye in orange would do the trick. Unfortunately, I used too strong a dye solution, and ended up with mostly brown. Last night I figured I had nothing to lose by discharging it, so I screened a pattern I got from a bench in my sister's back yard. And this is what I got, I think I like it!

These last two are a puzzlement, although I do like them both. Both were dyed a pale shade of ecru. One I twisted tightly, applied thickened,activated burgundy dye, and nuked. The other I screened with that same thickened, activated burgundy dye, and then steamed. Look at the difference in color!! I've had good success steaming with discharge paste, and not so good steaming my dyes. For the life of me, I don't know what I am doing wrong. Anybody has any ideas, I'd love to know what to do to steam dyes successfully!

That's it for dyeing for this weekend. I'm going to try to finish the blouse I started, and sandwich Blue Tsunami. The rest of the two dozen scarves I ordered will have to wait for another weekend.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What I did on Black Friday (and it wasn't a shopping marathon!)

Well, Shannon and I did get up and head for a store- Ikea, to be exact, about 25 miles north of us. I'd scoped out some Christmas decorations, so we headed up to get them.

I probably should explain. DJ and I have very different taste when it comes to decorating. The last few years, our tree has been his style- soft colors, classic. Our tradition has been to trade off tree styles every few years, so this year starts mine. And what Ikea had was right up my alley- simple, modern, minimalist, and in my favorite color combo- red, black, and white!

So here's what Shannon and I came home with--

Aren't these little gray-bearded santas cute?? They're the whimsy to go with the modern, according to Shannon.

I fell in love with those giant size orbs the minute I saw them. And these have lots of finishes- some matte, some shiny. I think it will look great in our living room, which also happens to be black, red, and white.

That was the extent of our Black Friday shopping. Instead, I spent the day in the dye studio, doing silk scarves. I love doing those in the microwave, it is instant gratification. And I did some discharge after I dyed- three have been in the steamer, three more are in it now. My studio is a disaster!

The counter has stuff all over it, I've got a couple of scarves hanging on my Ikea rack. The sewing area isn't much better, there's a half-finished shirt I started Wednesday night covering the cutting area. I think I have enough energy tonight to get the studio cleaned up,so I can sandwich Blue Tsunami. And, I need to cut out leaves for Autumn Mountains. You can see the fabric I've auditioned in the studio photo, just pinned at the top of the quilt top.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was a happy one. Ours was a small group but fun- and probably the most relaxed Thanksgiving prep I can remember. We didn't go overboard, and it sure helps to have three cooks, each doing a part. The best part, working off dinner playing Guitar Hero, Wii tennis and baseball!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well, I got somethings done!!

I went into this weekend with good intentions- but had a hard time focusing. I finally decided today that working on something was better than wasting time on the computer, so I cut out a shirt from some fabric I've had laying around awhile. The body and collar are done, all I have left is the sleeves, hem, and buttonholes. It actually fits fairly decently.

And I did get the circles stenciled on Blue Tsunami. I used the clear fabric medium with Pearl-Ex pigments, and like the effect- sparkly but somewhat transparent, exactly what I wanted.

I checked to see if I have enough batting for Blue and Autumn Mountains- enough for one, but not both. So that meant a trip to JoAnn's for batting yesterday.

And, I have a back for Blue batching. I didn't have anything big enough for the back, so I'm dyeing a piece just for that. Just as well, every other fabric in the quilt I dyed and printed, so why do something different for the back? Autumn Mountains, I'm thinking just the opposite. It's all commercial fabrics, except the leaves which will be hand-dyes. But I think I will just hunt for a wide commercial backing fabric for that one.

Just two days at work this week- it would be nice to get started on quilting one of these pieces. Getting started is always the hardest part for me, I'm so paranoid that I'll screw it up. Once I get started, I'm usually ok. I just hope I'm not feeling so disorganized or unfocused.

Oh, and the Green Chili was awesome, definitely a recipe I'll do again. Here's a link to the recipe on the Food TV website, if you are interested.

Here's hoping your week and Thanksgiving are full of family, food, and plenty to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2008

(Not-so) Lazy Day

I was hoping to get all the grunge work done this morning, but no such luck. It's 4 pm, the last load of laundry is in the washer, our bathroom is cleaned, main and upstairs vacuumed. So it's looking like I won't get to Blue Tsunami until tomorrow, but that's ok- I won't have any distractions. Maybe I can bribe Shannon to put the lasagne for tomorrow's dinner together before she leaves for clinic at 11- that would make it perfect!

And even if I'm not getting to any art today, it feels so good to just be home. I was gone Sunday and Monday nights for work, got home late Tuesday night, then was right back up in Salt Lake Wednesday night for my Surface Design group meeting. And Thursday nights I'm seeing a private client. Ugh, too many late nights away from home.

With no art to post, thought I could tempt you with some food. Before I really got into quilting, I spent lots of time cooking. Two of my kids are definitely 'foodies'- my oldest son is a fantastic chef, a fact his wife greatly appreciates, and Shannon seriously considered culinary arts school before deciding the profession was just too cutthroat for her temperament. And every once in awhile I enjoy getting creative in the kitchen.

I decided I felt like green chili. Usually the first place I'll hunt for a recipe is on the Food TV website, and there was one that sounded good- a four star from Bobby Flay. I got most of my grocery shopping done early today, and found everything I needed for this at Sunflower Market, a wonderful new addition here in Utah.

First, we have onions, green pepper, tomatillos, garlic, and a pasilla pepper roasting in the oven. Yum, the smells are wonderful!

While that's roasting, I brown the pork cubes-

Then it all goes together, with three cans of chicken broth, in the oven. Leave it and forget about it for a couple of hours- my kind of meal!

All I have left to do is adding the cilantro- can't have Mexican without it. Add warm tortillas, a salad, and we are good to go on a cool autumn evening.

I've also been spending time with this eye candy-

The Master's: Art Quilts has great profiles of the work of forty artists- some I was familiar with, some not. Katie PM's latest book has some good design exercises in it, and two of our WAQ group have quilts pictured in it. My mind is already thinking of things I could do with some of the photos I took when I was in Reno earlier this fall.

Thanks for all the nice comments on the Autumn Mountain quilt. I hadn't thought about Paducah, but if I manage to get the quilting right, and it's done on time, I may consider that. Otherwise, it will be ready for a gallery show my Surface Design group is having in Salt Lake, starting in May.

I'm taking an extra day off for the Thanksgiving holiday, hoping to get some dyeing done. I got two dozen scarves from Dharma, and want to do some for Christmas presents. Probably not til Friday, since I'm cooking Thursday.

Here's hoping your weekend is a productive one!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

WAQ, and a Quiet Weekend

Our WAQ group met on Friday, and learned several ways to construct a pictorial quilt. I did Sharon Schamber's Piecelique, Suzanne did her take on Katie Pasquini's method, and Robyn did Ruth McDowell. It was interesting comparing the various methods- by the end, we agreed that which method you use is dependent on the effect you want to achieve. And, like anything, each has their upside and downside. But it did inspire me to develop a table comparing the methods, the tools needed, and the resources available to learn each. I'm also adding some we didn't discuss- Judy Dales' method of curved piecing, and Barbara Olsen's 'air applique.' I figure it can be a quick way to compare methods when I'm trying to determine how to move from the idea to fiber reality.

Remember this piece?

Ignore all the periphery- my design wall is packed, and this quilt is large enough that it's hard to get a picture without the distractions.

The tree and quilt are now one- I free motioned the tree on yesterday morning. Cumbersome, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I have a nonwoven stabilizer on the back- don't think the quilt would have held up under the weight of the tree without it. Two steps left, make a lot of leaves (some double sided), and quilt the piece. Some of the leaves will go on before I quilt, but a lot will be applied afterwards- I'm going for a 3D effect. I'm going to try to quilt lines that look like wind- I've done some drawings, and think I can pull that off.

I won't be getting to it until next weekend, however- I'm in Salt Lake Monday and Tuesday for work, the large surface design group meets Wednesday night. And, I'm anxiously awaiting two parcels- one from Amazon with Katie Pasquini's new design book, and another from Dharma, which is mostly scarves,T-shirts, and yarn. I'm hoping to dye some gifts for Christmas, and get a knitting project underway. So I'm sure the books will prove a distraction for a bit!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More Experimentation with Blue Tsunami

I played around more with the various paints after I posted yesterday. I figured out that the water circles around some of the samples were more a function of a wet paint roller than the medium I was using. A sample done with the textile medium, Pearl-Ex, and a dry foam brush worked just fine. So that is what I am going to use- it gives me the see-through, sparkly effect I was going after.

Then I took the cut-out freezer paper circles, and started pinning them on the background. I decided I needed to avoid areas with multiple seams for the paint circles. This is the arrangement I came up with- first a value study in black and white, then in color.

I'll leave it on the design wall a few days, to see how it ages. Meantime, I now have the stabilizer I need to move forward with Autumn Mountains, so I still have a project to work on. And time, since Tuesday is a holiday!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Playing with Paint

I am being careful with this quilt- I am actually making a sample to test out paint and other options for the circles I want to stencil on Blue Tsunami. I want a sort of translucent, pearlescent look. I had several options in my studio to try, and I may be looking for other options on the web.

Here's the sample, before the paint has tried. If you click the picture, you should be able to read what I used on each circle.

I must not have shaken the Lumiere enough, that is a water ring around the circle. At this point, my favorite is #4, with #3 coming in a close second. And #5 is definitely out, I want a white look,and the metallic silver is way to dark. Let me know what you think!

Once this dries, I'll heat set the paint. Then I'll have a sample to use to try out my thread options

Friday, November 07, 2008

Coming Down to Earth

I didn't sleep much Tuesday night, and was up early Wednesday. While doing more mundane tasks like laundry, I got the borders on Seasick. Except, now I am reconsidering the name.

I can't remember the last time I worked in blue, especially monochromatic blue. I started this in the heat of the election, and have the top almost completed the day after. Was there some subliminal message coming out of my subconscious? Maybe! I've used all shades of blue, and even mixed fabric types. This top has dyer's cloth, Kona cloth, sateen. It has cool blues, warm blues, pales, medium, and darks. Kind of like the coalition of citizens that helped elect Obama president, I'm thinking. So, in honor of the election, I'm renaming this quilt Blue Tsunami, because that's what's sweeping over Washington and this country.

Anyway, here it is. I know the top and bottom borders look lopsidely large, they will be trimmed down.

I will be stitching together some of the leftover fabric to give me a practice canvas. I want to add some circles, and will experiment with Tsukineko inks, Shiva paintstiks, Setacolor paints. I want some glitz, but I want it to be subtle and transparent. And, I'll also be experimenting with threads. Do I use the heavy 30 weight Brytes, a variegated, a single color, or monofilament?

We are definitely moving into winter. We had our first snow on Wednesday, and it has remained cold since. My feet are getting readjusted to having to wear shoes instead of sandals, much to their dismay. But I'm trying to motivate myself to use this nesting, homebound time of year to get creative in the studio.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Totally contrary to our expectations, the polls were steadily busy all day- then dropped off in the evening. We were dead the last hour, so we were able to finish our reconciliations and break down the machines earlier than we'd thought, and quickly. I was home by 9 pm, which meant I was able to share the joy, watching Obama give his speech from Chicago. Being in that huge crowd at Grant Park must have been an awesome experience.

I've had competing images floating in my brain recently. I was a teenager during much of the Civil Rights movement, so I experienced it via TV in southern California. I remember feeling youthful outrage when I saw the videos of Bull Conner using hoses and dogs against African-Americans who were only asking for the same rights I took for granted. Seeing the crowd at Grant Park- multi-colored, multi-ethnic, all celebrating his election- it was an emotional experience. It really does feel like we have turned a corner in this country.

I can't remember ever feeling so much emotion around an election. I am hopeful, happy, energized. For the first time in so many years, I will be looking forward to listening to what my president has to say. I can once again be proud to say I am an American.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Seasick, Part II (and other quilty content)

I got more work done on the strip sets this weekend, and my arrangement chosen after several auditions and black and white printouts. The sides are evened out, the background is chosen- now just to get the sashing strips cut. This will be a little tricky, since I'm not cutting them as rectangles. But I think it is doable. Here's the final arrangement, on the fabric I'll use for sashings and borders--

In keeping with the water theme, it occurred to me that Houston Quilt Festival is now over, so I can post a picture of my journal quilt. It was not juried in, but it is part of the online show 'Braving the Elements' that you can see here. I am in very good company, there are some wonderful quilts in the show. Here's mine, '2051: A Sea Odyssey.'

I took it to my small crit group, and they had some good suggestions for things I could have done to improve the piece. I may play with one idea in Elements before I try it on the actual quilt.

Remember Autumn Mountains? It's another quilt I'm hoping to have done for an exhibit next spring. I think I have the tree almost done- I added some more embroidery with a wilder thread color, and I like the pop it gives it.

Next step is to get it onto the background, and start making leaves- lots of them.

And, this weekend brought another treasure in the mailbox. Several months ago, Linda T. Minton did a Pay It Forward on her blog, and I was one of the winners. She sent me this gorgeous postcard! The photo doesn't do it justice, the fabric is screened (I think), then embroidered and beaded. Thank you Linda, I love it!

We've had a lovely, lengthy Indian summer here, but I think it is over. It has rained all day and gotten progresively colder. Our weatherman is forecasting the possibility of snow in the valleys by Tuesday. Oh well, time to sequester myself in the studio and quilt.

And, if you haven't yet, make sure you get out and VOTE ON TUESDAY!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008


No, I', not going in a cruise- I'm still working on my blue strip set quilt, which I have unofficially named Seasick. I needed to audition fabric for the sashing strips, so I pulled out my blues while taking care of laundry. I'd forgotten about this piece of sateen that I'd dyed several months ago. And, it is one of those rare larger pieces I've dyed, so it is big enough to do the job.

Here it is in color--

I wanted to check out my value distribution, so here it is in black and white. What did we ever do before digital cameras??

I think I will also play with moving the strip sets around, and see if one arrangement jumps out more than another. But at this point, I'm thinking that this background fabric will work just fine. What do you think???