The girls have both headed back to their schools. Finals start in just over a week for both, then they'll be back home for Christmas break. Within an hour of their departures, I got back to work on the gallery show. The quilt above is one I made a couple of years ago using ties. It's a textural piece, with lot of threads hanging loose. I stitched down the binding so it's ready to go. As you can see, we're all a bit tired, but a good night's sleep will quickly cure that! I'll have plenty to keep me busy, that's for sure. Tomorrow I'll go to the Christmas luncheon for one of my quilt bees. Can't wait!
I know you're sick of seeing this darn plant, but I couldn't resist one more photo. I promise this will be the last you'll see of it!
Isn't this a great idea for a homemade gift? One of my daughters was having trouble coming up with a Christmas present idea for a friend at college. I asked, "What does he like? Does he have a favorite food? Drink?" Turns out his favorite drink is the soft drink, Sierra Mist. At college, he mixes it with cranberry juice.
We made a trip to Walmart, and low and behold, this year they are making Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash! Can you believe it? Turns out he came up with a great combination! We bought a 12 pack, along with an inexpensive picture frame in the craft department.
Then we commenced with drinking lots of Sierra Mist! I pushed it with every meal. We made a paper pattern for each side of the frame and cut up the empty, rinsed cans. (Yes, I saved the pop tabs for a later use!) We traced the patterns on the underside of the can pieces and cut them with some heavy duty (non-fabric!) scissors. We made the patterns so that the corners are even mitered - aren't you impressed! I not very good at mitered corners in quilts, but these turned out well.
We carefully folded the pieces around the frame, having enough excess to fold to the back side. Then we used a staple gun, stapling on the inner edges and the back, so no staples show. We think it turned out pretty great. She's filled it with a piece of glass from an old frame and a favorite photo.
I'd like to do more of these. They'd look great with a small, funky quilt in them, would they?
Here's one last look at my cactus in all its regalia. Thanks for all the comments: I'd never heard of a Thanksgiving Cactus. I guess that's what I have. The blooms are fading fast. Thanksgiving Day (when this photo was taken) was the absolute peak. I was beginning to put the food out - can you see the cranberry sauce in the lower right corner?
We've had a nice holiday. I'm using leftover turkey to make a turkey pot pie for dinner tonight. There has been no quilting taking place around here. But tonight, I plan to stitch down the binding on some of the little quilts for the gallery show. I think I have to take everything to the gallery next weekend and help set it up. All the dogs have enjoyed having the girls home for a few days. Mickey especially, as you can see. Emily brought him a new frisbee, which he loves. He took time out to chew a couple of chunks off it before playing. I guess he had to make it his own!
I have taken time out to read a couple of quilt magazines that have come in the mail, and I'm full of inspiration. Once these quilts are bound, stacked, and catalogued for the show, I'll be ready to jump into new projects again!
I took a break from quilting last night, pulling out a basket of yarn and my crochet hook. I saw a beautiful scarf last week at a department store - $58! For a long row of granny squares stitched together! And the loose yarn wasn't even worked in! In my usual mantra, I thought, "I could make one myself! This thought has often gotten me in trouble in the past. Sometimes I end up spending far more than the item costs in the first place. Not this time. I will use only the yarn I have, I promise! Our younger daughter made it home safely last night for her Thanksgiving break, so now the gang's all here. The girls and I spent the morning shopping: new coats, shoes, and Christmas gifts for their friends at college. While they both studied the afternoon away, I made the dressing and cooked the sweet potatoes for tomorrow. I'm saving the turkey, gravy, and squash casserole to cook in the morning. When I was growing up, my mother did all the cooking ahead of time, so on Thanksgiving morning it was a matter of thawing and reheating. To me, though, part of Thanksgiving is smelling the turkey roasting, the gravy simmering, etc. So our house will be filled will wonderful aromas tomorrow.
This year I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, my two smart and beautiful daughters, and our parents. I'm thankful for quilting and my wonderful quilting friends. I'm thankful for our doggies, who make us laugh every day. Happy Thanksgiving.
My Christmas Cactus certainly thinks so. I've had this plant for years. It's about the only thing I can grow. Other houseplants are not safe with me. I either over water or under water. I give them too much sun or not enough sun. But this plant has endured all my mistreatment.
It blooms faithfully every year. But it always blooms at Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. Every year, without fail, I have beautiful blooms at Thanksgiving. So enjoy now, because come Christmas, the blooms will be gone...
This is the neatest bag! I found the pattern here. I've had the site bookmarked for some time, and finally got around to trying it today. Emily and I made this together, and found it to be very easy. We both want to make more.
The pattern calls for upholstery or drapery weight fabric. I had several yards of this fabric that I bought a couple of years ago at a garage sale - $4 for all of it. Go to the link above to see a cute one made of Amy Butler fabric. These would make great bags to take to the grocery store.
And here's the photo of Patches I promised yesterday. He's a special dog. Thanks to Emily for doing the photography for me today!
If you know me, you know I have a thing for dogs. I really have a problem, I think. If there's a stray, I'll take it in. If we go to Walmart and they're having a doggy adoption day, watch out. Several years ago, a neighbor had a dog who needed a good home. Quickly. If she didn't find a home by the end of the day, her husband was taking him to the pound. And he was so cute!
I called my husband. At this point in life we already had two dogs. His exact words were, "We need another dog like we need a hole in our heads." I agreed. When he got home from work that evening, he was met at his car by...three dogs. He fell in love with Patches (what a great name for a quilter's dog!) instantly, just like I had a few hours earlier. Patches has been such a special dog, and we can't imagine life without him. And now that I've gone on and on about Patches, I realize I'm not even posting a photo of him today. I'll show you Patches tomorrow, I promise!
We're now up to a grand total of four dogs, though for several years we had five. In the photo above are Prince (the older of the dachshunds) and Oliver (the dachshund wannabe). Oliver was a Walmart adoptee.
Anyway, the point of this long, drawn out story is really going to be a let down. I drove to Atlanta today to take my parents to meet my brother. He drove them the rest of the way to his home in Augusta. While I was gone, hubby and daughter took two of the dogs for a walk. To make a long story even longer, the leash broke, they had to throw it away, but first....
knowing me like they do, they took the broken leash apart to save the little clippy thing for me to sew on a quilt. Aren't they sweet?
I try to make this blog about quilting. That's my purpose, anyway. But there are a few days, here and there, (very rare), that I don't make it upstairs to my studio. Today was one of those days, and that's just fine. We all need a break now and then, don't we?
I did make a cake today, though. Yes, it's very ugly. I admit it. But I can tell you it will be delicious! That so true about many things. You can't judge a book by its cover - you know the drill. Beauty come from within. Blah blah blah... But it is really true.
The frosting on this cake has been made in my family since I was very young. This became my wished for birthday cake every year. So we had it every summer. I'm not sure why we didn't have it more, but that's okay, because it became this special thing I looked forward to every July 11. And now my kids ask for it for their birthdays, which is why I made it today.
Over the years, we've quit making the cake from scratch. A chocolate cake is a chocolate cake, and it's the frosting that makes it so yummy. So now I always make the cake with a mix. The secret is to make two cake mixes. Then pour the batter into 4 round pans and bake. Stick one of the baked layers in the freezer for later use, then split the other 3 layers in two, so you now have 6 layers. Do this all once the layers have cooled completely.
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
2 sticks butter (the REAL thing)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix flour and milk in a saucepan. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Cool well. (I do this part when I bake the cake so everything can cool at the same time.) Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add flour mixture. Beat until spreading consistency. Spread between layers and on top of cake.
So you're not really supposed to spread it down the sides, but I cheated a bit today since I only had one cake mix and my cake is only 4 split layers instead of six. I spread the extra frosting down the sides. This frosting is so yummy that sometimes I double the recipe so I can be very generous with it between the layers.
So I hope you enjoy my ugly cake. I think I'll have a piece now.
Here it is - the second in my new series, Little Women. Click to see a close up - bottle cap face, pop tab hands, gorgeous screen printed fabric. Love the fabric!
I spent the morning straightening my studio; luckily it didn't need much. The bug man was coming, and I like to have all the nooks and crannies clear so he can spray everywhere. He came; he sprayed. Then I sewed. Happy day. Gotta run. One of my own little women is due home from college any minute.
Things are finally back to normal around here. I finished my painted dress quilt today. Click on the image in order to see the button hands and background stitching. I put this in a little thrift store frame. I love to buy frames at the thrift store (usually for a dollar or so) and spray paint them black. Then I buy a ready made mat at a craft store (usually for a dollar or so) and mount little quilts like this. No, I didn't have to buy these - I have a pile of frames and mats in my studio. It make for a very inexpensive way to make a funky little art quilt seem more impressive.
I'm working on another little dress quilt - it's made with some of the fabric I won from Pokey Bolton at Quilting Arts. I'm really liking these little people. I think this is the start of a new series for me - maybe I'll call it Little Women after one of my favorite books from childhood. I'll try to finish the next one to show you tomorrow.
Sorry I've been away from the blogging for a couple of days. I have two very good excuses.
1. I've spent way too much time on the house (painted a wall, rearranged furniture, scrubbed bathrooms, etc.).
2. My internet connection has not been working and hubby (who knows just how to make it work) has been out of town.
But, miraculously, the internet started working again. Hubby will be back from a 5 day business trip tomorrow. Yay! I don't cook for just myself, so I've lived on Lean Cuisines and scrambled eggs. I just saw on the evening news that several Lean Cuisine chicken meals have been recalled because they might have plastic bits in them. I ate one of the recalled dinners two nights ago. Oh well.
So internet is working, hubby is coming home, and the house is VERY clean. Now I can get back to quilting!
Okay, I know. It's not the most beautiful fabric in the world, but I'll make it work. This is what I get for not using PFD fabric. The dye just doesn't take as well. I still like it though, and I already have an idea of what to do with some of it...
As you may can tell, I got out some stamps (and a rubbing plate) and had a little fun with paint on some of it. While I had the paints out, I had a sudden urge to paint a dress. Weird, I know. I'm not sure where the inspiration came from, but it did. So I did. And here it is. (Turn your head sideways. I forgot to rotate it.) I painted this with acrylics on a piece of my NEW black Kona cotton. The blue dots are made with a drinking straw dipped in paint. I think I'll add a face (maybe a yo-yo) and hands (maybe buttons). This is little - the background fabric is 6 by 8 inches.
Dying fabric is a messy and somewhat time consuming project. But it's always so satisfying once the fabric is washed, dried, and ironed. I mixed seven cups of dye: yellow, pink, aqua, green, purple, orange, and a blue/black. Then I spread the fabric I painted a couple of weeks ago out on a tarp in our garage. At this point, I had already pre-wet the fabric and dipped it into a solution of water, salt, and soda ash. Next came the fun, messy, sloppy part. I drizzled the different dyes all over the fabric. No planning. No preciseness. No problem. The final step was to sprinkle the fabric with rock salt, hoping for some cool striations. Who knows how this will turn out! I usually dye small pieces of fabric in ziplock baggies, so this is an experiment (or adventure, depending on how you look at it). I'll let it sit like this overnight, or until dry. Then on to the rinsing! I'll keep you posted.
Another fabulous work of art! I hope of these quilters are proud of themselves. This was so out-of-the-box for many of them. One of them told me that her 2008 New Year's Resolution was to try new things and step out of her comfort zone. Good advice for all of us, don't you think? She thought this challenge would help her accomplish the goal, and I wholeheartedly agree. At least someone fulfilled their resolution! I included some close-ups of this quilt. Enjoy..
I thought I'd share my quilted nametag for quilt guild meetings. I used to have one that was very traditional. I appliqued a rose with little bias stems and cute leaves back when I first joined Birmingham Quilters Guild. The more I learned about quilting, the more my point of view changed. The change happened over years - but slowly I went from a traditional quilter using calicos to a contemporary quilter who prefers hand dyed fabrics, batiks, graphic black and whites, and anything funky. One day I realized that my nametag didn't suit me any longer. So I made this one. It's messy and funky. It has beads and colorful ribbons. My name is spelled out with typewriter key beads. And there is some colorful stitching with embroidery floss. This isn't the greatest photo, but perhaps you'll get the idea. I have to be careful where I pin it to myself; sometimes the ribbons hit at the wrong spot and appear to be a tassel! I also wanted to share the finished product from my recent fabric painting adventure. I really like the organic nature of the colors. But it's not really finished. This weekend I'm planning to over-dye it. Next I'm going to try some screen printing. Can you tell I was very inspired by the fabric from Quilting Arts?
Some of you may be wondering what happened to that portrait I making from tiny strips of fabric. I haven't worked on it any lately. I have other deadlines that are looming. The galley show has to be ready by the first of December, so I'm putting finishing touches on lots of little projects, many you've seen here. I'm also still quilting Shifting Momentum (aka, the football quilt) for the show. And the slice quilts! I'm going to have them all sewn together by the December quilt guild meeting. The due date for the portrait quilt is not until January - I hoping to enter it in a contest. Let's hope I can finish it in December.
We'll get to the rubbing plates in a minute. But first - ta dah! I sewed the first of the three Starry Night slice quilts together this afternoon. Isn't it fabulous? These quilters really came through!
Most of these women told me over and over that they are certainly not "ART QUILTERS," as if art quilters are some foreign breed, people who have specialized training and natural abilities that they themselves weren't blessed with. I was also told MULTIPLE times that they spent hours and hours agonizing over how to approach their slice, but once they dug in, it really didn't take very long. Isn't that true about so many things? Usually I find it best to skip over the agonizing part, just dive in, and do it!
I still have to sew on binding and a sleeve, and then on the the next Starry Night. Okay, now for the rubbing plates. As I trimmed each slice for these quilts, I put all the scraps in a pile. Remember, these slices were turned in to me already layered with batting and backing, and the quilting had been done. So these scraps were pre-quilted for me.
You know me, I'm not going to throw away good scraps. So I began butting them side by side, and I zigzagged them together. I kept adding strips all around until I was out of scraps. It's a cool thing. But it needed something more. I noticed that one of the Slicers had used a rubbing plate and Paintstix to embellish her piece. I wanted to do the same to my scrap piece, but the rubbing plate wouldn't work through all those layers (I tried).
Then the light bulb went off! I dabbed white paint directly to the rubbing plate and used it as a stamp. Voila! I got the texture I was hoping for. Here's Starry Night Revisited.
Isn't it gorgeous? I was getting a bit concerned about it since I knew it was mailed more than 3 weeks ago. I even e-mailed Pokey Bolton over the weekend. She was going to send out another pack to me, and wouldn't you know - it came today. I LOVE IT! It will go into something very SPECIAL, so stay tuned. At our guild meetings, there is always a FREE table, a place for members to bring fabrics, patterns, magazines, anything they don't want anymore. And look what I found - 2 vintage Simplicity posters! Love them! They scream 1960's, the decade in which I grew up. I'll find a special place in my studio to hang them. A friend brought me the above, a nice bag of selvages. She knows I collect them. What fun I'll have! I also received another gift from a guild member today. It's something I REALLY NEEDED! Black Kona Cotton! To her, I say a very special thank you; you are kindness personified. I already have plans for much of it. Now I will mark it off the Christmas list I've been preparing for my husband.
Today was the due date for the slice quilt challenge that I coordinated. All but one of the completed slices were turned in. I'd say that's excellent! The only one I'm missing is from someone who wasn't there today, and I have no doubt I'll receive hers shortly. So now you know what I'll be doing sometime this week - sewing slices together! I can't wait to see these three Starry Night quilts come together. I'll post them here as I complete them.
I certainly hope not, but I've been sneezing and sniffing all day! No fun, but that comes with the season. And our fall color is so pretty this year! I'll sniff my way to Christmas if I have to.
I did sew a bit today. I finished this little quilt with a selvage flower, a bottle cap center, and pop tab grass. The leaves are scraps of raw silk and the surface of the quilt was dry brushed with paint after quilting.
Then I made this little piece called Midnight Tulip. I decided to put binding on this one, which I have yet to stitch down. One of these evenings I need to gather up all such quilts and stitch down the binding!
I want to give a shout out for help for Just Jenn. Click on her name to go to her blog. She's collecting 5 inch charm squares for a 1000 pyramid quilt; these fabrics need to be mostly black. She has a good example at her blog. I'm sending her several, and the best part - she'll return the favor by sending back some of her stash. You even get to pick what you want - I'm asking for batiks!
Tomorrow is our guild meeting. I need to gather the things I need to take: name tag, box to collect slice quilt pieces (tomorrow they're due!), 2009 calendars to sell, sign-up list for new bees, fat quarter for drawing, block of month (oops, I haven't done it yet!), and I'm sure there is something else I'm forgetting. Oh yeah, the green prize for Donna B! Have a good Monday!
I told you this photo might turn up in a quilt! Well, sort of a quilt, anyway. I tried the technique I've seen in Quilting Arts magazine to give a holographic effect. I printed the bottle photo on printable silk organza (a sheer fabric) and pieced it with some of my hand dyed fabric. I then quilted this piece and stapled it to an artist's canvas. I had earlier cut a rectangular piece of the canvas away - the same size as the photo. Next, I printed the same photo on cotton fabric and glued it to poster board. I placed the canvas over the poster board, lining up the photos on top of each other. I then trimmed the poster board and stapled it to the back side of the canvas. So now the photos are about 3/4 inch apart, with the sheer one on top. The effect is pretty cool, especially in person. From every angle, this quilt looks different. I'll do this again, I'm sure. I also worked on quilting Shifting Momentum, aka, The Football Quilt. I'm doing a good bit of straight line quilting, emulating yard lines, I guess you could say. This is not difficult, but is very time consuming. I'll be working on this for days.
Well, no quilting again today. But that's okay. My hubby is taking a few days off work, hoping to play a bit of golf and relax with me. But today the forecast was for a rainy day. We went on a nice walk through the neighborhood and got home just as it started sprinkling. No golf today. So he suggested we take my parents to north Alabama to visit their good friends. My parents jumped at the chance (not literally - boy, would that be a sight!) So off we went.
My mother planned the Decatur day itinerary. The first stop was Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue restaurant for lunch, because as Mom often tells us, you can't get good barbecue in Birmingham (her opinion, not mine). We brought a cooler along, so after lunch we ordered two chickens, two pounds of pork, two slabs of ribs, and two pints of slaw. Guess what we'll be eating all week?
The second stop was the hospital to visit the family of a dying relative. Hubby and Dad waited in the car, while Mom and I took care of the visiting.
The third stop was their good friends' house. We had a nice visit, all the while peeking out the windows at the house I grew up in (and which my parents sold 5 years ago). We admired how the hydrangeas had grown, and lamented how the yard was not as pristine as when my mother took care of it.
The fourth stop was the mall, namely Dillard's, because, as Mom says, no store in Birmingham has nice clothes like that. Again, her opinion, not mine.
Then it was back to Birmingham to drop my parents off at their apartment along with their portion of the barbecue and Dillard's bags. After a quick trip inside to unclog their toilet. we came home. I'm now curled up on the sofa with two dogs, a quilt, and my laptop.
I can't stand posting without a photo, as you well know. So here's another shot I took at last weekend's art show. I had fun with this one, turning his hair lime green and his shirt purple. I know, I really need to get back in my studio! I promise, tomorrow there will be productivity! But at least today, I have two very happy parents.
Today was my bee meeting - loads of fun, as always. Good friends, good food, and pretty quilts - it just doesn't get any better! My Baked Potato Soup was very good. I experimented with a new recipe and was very pleased with it. Get the recipe here. I used fat free half and half and prepackaged bacon bits when I made it.
This post is a bit jumbled because I forgot that Blogger is now loading photos backwards, so bear with me.
Below is a photo of those bottles from the art show I posted here a few days ago. As you can see, I've been playing with the photo on Photoshop, cropping and changing colors around. Hint, hint, you may see this again in a quilt.
Okay, now back to the bee meeting. Today we celebrated the upcoming wedding of our dear friend (and youngest bee member BY FAR). Tiffany has been out in the working world for a couple of years now and so is not able to be a regular part of our bee anymore. But we still love her and were glad to have her today. For her gift, we each made a quilted place mat in her new kitchen colors: black, white, and a touch of red. Her grandmother, Jan (another bee member) provided us each with a red paint swatch so we'd all have the correct red, since reds can be tricky. We each did our own pattern using our own fabric, so they are all different, but look beautiful together. Here she is opening the box. As always, we had a fun show-and-tell. Lisa (a regular visitor to my blog) had this wall hanging she's making as a Christmas gift. This photo doesn't do it justice. The piecing is perfect, though Lisa claimed there are some cut off corners. I certainly didn't see them! I haven't been in my studio today, but hopefully I'll be back again tomorrow. So many quilts, so little time!
Here the quilt top I made yesterday. As I said, it's all my hand dyed fabric. When I look at this, the orange and blue/purple strip sets shift around on the quilt, hence the name. No, this is not a political statement. I will never talk politics here. I really see it as more indicative of a football game. One team can be winning big, then they throw an interception and the losing team runs for a touchdown. Instantly, the game shifts in momentum.
My hubby says it one of his favorite quilts I've done. I'm wondering if that's because of the football analogy. It will be fun to quilt, maybe this weekend.
Today I delivered the finished quilt to the Amelia Center. They are always so grateful and nice. I enjoyed doing it, but I'm very glad to have it done.
One of today's project was painting this fabric. Remember that 4 yards of muslin I found in my studio weeks ago? This is another piece of it. Now it's almost gone. I prewashed this piece, then spread it out (still wet) on top of my kitchen island. Yes, I put plastic under it. Then I got out a box of Setacolors paints and slopped it on. This paint is transparent so the color is more subtle. Once it dry, I'll iron it to set the color. Then I'm planning on doing further surface embellishment until I'm satisfied. I'm not sure what effect I'm going for; I'm just playing. Often experiments can turn out much better than well planned projects.
I also started another project today. I can never do only one project at a time - have you noticed? I cut strips of some of my hand dyed fabrics and sewed them together. Then I chopped these up and they are ready to sew together again. I already have a name for this one - Shifting Momentum. I'll show it to you tomorrow.
I'm hosting a bee meeting here at the house on Thursday, so tomorrow I'll take time out to grocery shop. The menu is baked potato soup, ham biscuits, and pumpkin cake. Yummy.
I have the BEST husband. He knows how to make me happy. There was another outdoor art show in the area today and he said, "Let's go!" Art shows are so much more fun when you're sharing with someone else. Plus the weather was GORGEOUS today! It was sunny and warm, but not hot. There was a guy playing guitar, filling the park with beautiful music. You could smell gumbo and hushpuppies, plus smokey barbecue. There were paintings, pottery, jewelry, and more. I recognized some of the artists' work from the Kentuck festival a couple of weeks ago.
These bottles really caught my eye. The colors were amazing, especially against the backdrop of the white tent with the sun sparkling on them. I got permission from the artist to photograph them. But silly me, I didn't think to get his business card so I could give him his due credit here.
I am a wife, mother to two daughters, an avid art quilter, cooking contest entrant, and dog lover. My book, FABRIC PHOTO PLAY, AQS, 2005, demonstrates my original technique for making portrait quilts. My second book (with Peggy Rhodes), Quick and Easy Hexie Quilts was recently released.