18 December 2008

Finally got around to photographing "Fat Tuesday" which is up on my office wall. About 4' x 6'. This quilt is in honor of the holding of Mardi Gras in the year after Katrina. I'd hoped they would. The line is a water line (hand sponged with opalescent paint) and the "beads" are fussy-cut from a fabric called Mardi Gras. It may be possible to see two masks in the quilting.

13 October 2008

Lately Ladybugs and Pears

Now that the annual work film festival that I run is over, the quilting begins again in ernest.

Yesterday I finished quilting a baby quilt for a woman at my office expecting #2 child. I used the stitch regular on the Bernina Aurora purchased more than a year ago --for the first time. How silly was that? I freemotioned vines, leaves and flowers all over the surface exept for on the applique ladybugs and flowers. Something about the surface or the ability to release the pressure of the presserfoot a great deal--whatever it is, I can freemotion a lot easier on this machine than on my last (but I loved that Janome anyway).

I'm also making a lot of pears from a pattern I found in a magazine. I've finally tried out my paint sticks (you see the trend--more stuff than time!) on some green fabric and these will become funky pears also.

26 August 2008

Ned and the Very Land Itself

Finally, here is a picture of the quilt I made for my husband Terence for our wedding anniversary. If you are Australian it should be fairly self explanatory. If you aren't, this is meant to be a nod to Sydney Nolan's painting of bush ranger Ned Kelly in his homemade armor. The grey green rectangles are eucalyptus leaves and the white and yellow parallelagram is a sulfur crested cockatoo. In the center of Australia, the sand really is that color.

Polyester, silk, cotton (on the back facing and backing) and several different weights of variegated and solid color thread.

It's about 18 x 36" (guestimate).

11 August 2008

Blue and White Quilt

My son is ten-and-a-half and ready for a new bed quilt. His existing one is for a smaller bed and seems a little too young in his current bedroom. Yesterday he told me he wants it to be blue and white. Later in the day, of his own accord, he came into my studio and pointed out some fabric that he liked. It's a slightly deeper shade than sky blue.

Unlike my friend Erica who has an impressive collection of blue fabric, the blues I have are left overs from a project that needed a lot of different shades in small amounts. I was buying blue in 20cm pieces.

White I have. I'm a white person (not cream) . So the hunt is on for a variety of that shade of blue and some inspiring block that will not be the end of me when made double-bed size. I'm leaning toward Hunter Start or Birds in the Air or a big mariner's compass and a couple borders.

05 August 2008

Mere Words, Pix Soon

Despite my lack of blogging, there has been no lack of quilting activity now that the studio is in some kind of shape (thanks to supportive husband who installed shelves for me).

In fact, I've opened a couple new chapters.

First, I'm restoring a Road to California scrap quilt that I found at the local antique store for $12. I think it is from the 1920s. It isn't a masterpiece, but I like it, and would like to keep it "alive" for the foreseeable, so I'm appliqueing replica patches over the shredded patches. The original is there, underneath, but my efforts should stop the filling from coming out and prevent any ripping of the backing (so far intact).

Second, I'm making an anniversary art quilt for my husband (who doesn't read my blog). It's a sort of abstracted nod to Sydney Nolan. Silk, and poly with linen backing. It has been a chance to do some intensive quilting on the Bernina.

Pictures of these projects soon.

And a co-worker is having a baby so I'm having fun working on the baby quilt. Lots of flowers and ladybugs.

06 June 2008

Crab Apple in Bloom

Since moving in almost a year ago, we were waiting for the blooming of the crab apple tree. The neighbors told us it was a spectacle, and last month we could finally see for ourselves.

As a marked contrast, here is my great-grandfather's house in Ireland.

Baby Applique Quilt

This quilt started out as something to Show and Tell in my quilt group for Valentine's Day. Then the woman next door announced her pregnancy and it became a a race to hand-quilt hearts and feathers in time for the arrival. Sadie was born recently and our neighbors are delighted with the quilt.

I like giving baby quilts because they are so well received (almost always).

02 June 2008

A Bowl of Red

This one is a testament to the value of imperfect fabric. This bowl is made from one fabric that became an accidental ombre when one of the ink colors failed to print. I bought a 2 metre piece in the remnant bin marked "as is".

This one will tomorrow be presented to my co-worker Paula.

22 May 2008

Control and creativity

My office is moving. In fact, the movers have picked up some boxes today and one of my quilts is inside. It's only going a few buildings away, and I've moved them internationally before this, but that sense of having to trust the Fates kicks in anyway.

This same feeling (albeit at greater intensity) occurrs during childbirth and surgery.

I suppose that most of the time I enjoy a sense that I'm at the helm of my ship. Taking a hand off the tiller and going with the current becomes necessary sometimes though. You risk loss to gain something else.

And yet, letting go for the purpose of creativity doesn't seem so risky. Sure, you could end up with a strange result that uses up some favorite fabric, but there is always another process you could subject the result to. Overlay, scorch, paint, chop, fuse, gild, or sew a bead over. I think of this as being diverged from my intended path but still on a road to somewhere.

16 May 2008

How the Bowls are Made

Erica asked how the bowls in my past post are made. There are a couple books out and Fons & Porter did a recent show on this technique (in case pictures work better for you than words). The gist is that you cut one inch wide strips (don't even need to be bias) and you wrap them around clothesline. To start a new strip you overlap slightly and keep going. Sliding the wraps down the clothesline until they are a bit taut helps. Use a binder clip or a clothespin to hold the strip end to the clothesline (a sort of third hand for you).

Obviously, starting and stopping take a bit of finesse. To begin, you need to cover the end and then get going on an angle as you start winding.

To start sewing, you need not wrap the whole length--even one strip will do. With a denim needle in your machine and sturdy top thread (though I have successfully used rayon embroidery thread on the top), use a zig zag or that utility zig zag that is used on elastic in lingerie. Start your coil (you begin at the center of the bottom of your bowl and work up) and make sure you push the leading edge of your rope toward your coil and catch both as you zig zag along. Needle down position will help a lot.

You'll soon find you have something that looks like a drink coaster. To get the sides of the bowl to begin to slope up form the botton, you need to hold the bottom at an angle as you sew on more rope.

Changing colors is the same as adding a new strip--just overlap a little and keep winding.

To end is tricky. Cut the clothesline a bit ahead of where you intend to finish. Cut the wrapping strip a bit beyond that and taper and tuck in the raw end so the last part of your zig zagging will catch it. I'm still working this part out.

12 May 2008

Bowled over

Yep, more bowls. This time these are a gift to a colleague at work celebrating a birthday. She recently introduced me to etamame (young soy beans in the pod) and that was the inspiration for the green one. The birthday girl has a 1-1/2 year old daughter so the pink one is for her.
Everyone says to use cotton clothesline for these. I had trouble finding any so one bowl is made with polyester and the other with nylon clothesline. Both worked.
The pink bowl is made largely from the strips I trimmed off the backing of a small quilt I'm making.

06 May 2008

Stretching the definition of bowl

I am involved in my first series--candy dishes for the office on seasonal themes. I keep at it because the "out of season" one on the front desk sort of nags me as I walk past. This current one is meant to cover "Spring" and perhaps early Summer.
As may be obvious, it started out square and I sort of pinched and squished until it bowed into a semblence of a bowl. Luckily, the office favors wrapped hard candy which doesn't roll.
Meanwhile I am hand-quilting feathers on a baby quilt. It is almost done. The hopelessly girly pink hearts appliqued on it probably represent my natural optimism because I don't know the gender of the baby to be born to my next door neighbor. So it will be either right on time or really early for the next girl baby I encounter. If it is a boy, I have another quilt top that could be machine quilted in a hurry, if necessary!

27 March 2008

Mini-demos for the preparation-time starved

I started a quilt group on the college campus where I work and a small band of us have kept it alive for our one hour meetings every 2nd Tuesday of the month. Generally, I come up with a small demo and the rest is talking or show-and-tell.

If you've ever tried monthly demos, you know that the idea factory can run dry of easily transportable things so I thought I'd share a list:
  • Molas. I gave a background on this reverse applique style complete with a "kit": 10x10" stack of Kona solid cottons in characteristic mola colors so everyone could have a try.
  • Yo-Yos. After showing a yo-yo garment in progress and talking about other uses, we all made a few. As it turned out, the whole group let me take theirs home to use in my, uh, our project!
  • Ruching. People seem to get a kick out of ruched flowers on Baltimore album quilts and wonder how they are made. I cut bias strips in a small buttercup-and-white lightweight gingham. The little squares made it easy to sew the sawtooth pattern without marking.
  • To create a nice handout, I searched the internet for free download sites for graph paper of all kinds and provided URLs and images so everyone could see the range available out there (even honeycomb ones which could come in handy for planning grandmother's flower garden quilts or whatnot).
  • I let everyone have a look at my samples from a wonderful course on bindings I took a couple years ago from Narelle Grieve. The samples we came out with are great reminders. Our group used them for inspiration and discussion (because I don't believe in wholesale using the courses of others without permission!). By the way, you have permission to use any ideas in this post.
  • I showed a quilt that makes use of the fantasy fabric I learned to make from Chrissy Sheed. I also showed a piece of fantasy fabric at a much earlier stage of preparation and we had a good talk about all the things one might use in quilts. It made a good jumping off point. We did a lot of "I saw a quilt once that had..."
  • I have a faux chenille vest made from a commercial pattern which I broght in for everyone to see. I also brought in a stack of charm squares with the chenille in various stages --partially stitched, some channels still closed and a couple already clipped. This made it very easy to explain the process.
  • We've talked about fusing and stablizing a fair bit so one day I hope to bring in samples of several types and weights so people can feel them. I'd like to make a big labeled sample cloth with several different fusing agents on it and run it through the wash as a test.

11 March 2008

Aussie Opal Comes Home

This is a shot of the center of a 50 x 70cm challenge quilt that has made it home from a couple years of wandering in Australia. The Fantasy Fabric in the colorful parts are thanks to a class I took from the wonderful Chrissy Sheed and I learned the elongated Mariner's Compass drafting methods from Stephanie Knudsen. Steph doesn't have a blog yet, but will be absolutely dangerous once she does.

Erica wants me to be a more consistent blogger as a trade off for listing me in her Blogs I Read list. She's using logic on me. Now I'm in trouble.
The above bowl is meant to be festive and hold the office candy up through St Patrick's Day. I do know that shamrocks are three lobed (to symbolize the trinity) and that this is based on the four-leaf clover, but there are some three-leafers in the quilting so I'm covered. Not what we'd call my best work, but fun anyway, I think.

07 March 2008


Well, after knowing what a "tag" is since about Wednesday (when I saw it on Brenda's blog), I discovered today that I've been tagged by Erica. Do you also get the impression that the earth spins faster than it once did?

Okay. If I've got it right, I need to tell you this (thanks for the cut and paste, Erica):
These are the rules...1. When tagged, place the name of the person and URL on your blog. [check!]2. Post the rules on your blog. [check!] 3. Write 7 things about yourself. [see below]4. Name 7 of your favorite bloggers. [hard to do because I read about 3 religiously]5. Send e-mail letting those bloggers know they have been tagged [I suspect my bloggers have already been tagged--is it okay to tag a Facebooker in a pinch?].

My seven things:
1. I've been to ten countries (I don't count a couple which were airports or passing through on a train only)--used to be 12 but China, Macau and Hong Kong all count as one these days. The others are in rough order: USA, Mexico, Australia, England, France, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Belgium and New Zealand. I've also been to Detroit which is pretty close to Canada and to a stone's throw from the Cambodian border as well as rather near Burma and Laos.
2. I'm a dual US/Australian citizen as is my son (who'll be ten on Monday). Husband also has two passports (Aussie/Irish).
3. I have a B.A., MA. and PhD from Berkeley in Rhetoric.
4. The two strangest things that have been on my resume are costuming a drag show (two actually) and an article in the magazine Inside Karate.
5. I've had dinner with a Nobel laureate and a guy who was Cosmo's bachelor of the year once.
6. I voted for Hillary and sent her $50. I'm so in her demographic! Like many of my buddies, it's been a case of "I want to see a woman president in my lifetime". I even had a dream that Bill Clinton got into our family car to talk to us about the campaign.
7. I'm struggling a bit with the age thing this year (I'm 48-1/2) because I had a tooth pulled and my well controlled diabetes got a bit less well controlled and the change seems to haveme in its sights. This just has to be a design flaw. I mean, who would plan this?

Okay, there you are. Now I have to figure out somebody to tag. I'll think on it. And in the mean time, shouldn't Erica add me to her list of Blogs She Reads if she tagged me? Seems like natural justice...

05 February 2008

Valentine's Bowl

At the office we had a large package of conversation hearts and nothing to put them in. I said I'd make a bowl. By tomorrow. Despite a new Prison Break episode. And a meeting that lasted until 6. And it isn't a good idea to sew after my son goes to bed at 9. So here is my testament to what can be done during the commercials!

02 January 2008

Ice and Snow

It's back to work on a cold day after about 10 days off. While they were testing the building's fire alarms, I snapped this great icicle hanging off the roof of the porch.

Despite all that time off, all the quilting I have to show for it is buying and pre-washing some fabric and making about 6 "berries" ahead of time before a class to be held on January 22. The class is to be taught by Gwen Marston on Classic 4-Block Applique. I read her book on that subject. Very unlike the remnant bin diver that I usually am, I bought glorious Hoffman jacquard fabric for this project in colors that will actually look nice in my living room. If the berries are an indication, I think it will applique well despite the slight texture it has.