Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Handy Hubby

 My husband John has been a woodworker for many, many years. I remember the first thing he made for our first apartment - a set of bookcases out of plywood. I thought they were the cat's meow...Now when I look back...not so much but it was the beginning of his love affair with wood.  He has made much of the furniture in our home and  seems to have a neverending list of projects....his next is a new dining room table for our daughter for her big "40" birthday...wow, am I that old to have a daughter turning 40!!
Well, I have a new Bernina much bigger than others I've had; the tables he made for them don't fit this big baby....so I placed my order for another one. John loves to work in hardwoods...this was suppose to be a quick and easy, strictly functional piece. He chose Hard (sugar) Maple which is very hard and has a beautiful grain. 

 He designs it so the table drops down to allow the machine to set into it and be flush with the top of the table. It's a great design idea and so gentle on the shoulders; I'm at a perfect angle.
The grain is so interesting. He purposely used this beautiful piece in a very obvious place on the table.
It's a wonderful setup and is flush against another table giving me more room when working on a larger piece. I must say I'm lucky to have this great new table and even luckier to have such a sweet hubby to make these things for me. Thanks John!

Monday, February 1, 2016


I have been busy creating pieces for an upcoming exhibit I'm doing with 2 friends at the NC Arboretum. Kate, Mary and I have done an exhibit there before; they give us the entire second floor to fill with our work. It's great fun and a wonderful opportunity to show and sell our work. The arboretum being nature orientated prefer that we exhibit things nature related - easy for the 3 of us as we all have done many pieces around that theme. I've been making some smaller pieces in a 9 x 12 size and using a pre-stretched canvas as a mounting board.
 My inspiration for the piece was a photograph featuring beautiful skies and sheer leaves in front. I always use my own photographs when printing on fabric...making it more personal and also to avoid any copyright issues. I took the above photograph on one of my travels. I needed to make it into a portrait orientation. I also knew that printing this photo would give me an 8 1/2 x 11 size which would be way too small.
 I needed to cut the photo in half after putting it in photoshop and making it a vertical orientation by unchecking the "constrain proportions" box allowing me to adjust the sides to any size. With some photos, doing this can distort the image but with nature, it usually works just fine.
 I was able to print each half of the photo into 8 1/2 by 11 prints, making it large enough to mount onto an 9 x 12 canvas and wrap around to the back.
The 2 halves were joined together by fusing a small strip of fusible web (around 1 ") along the top edge of the bottom photo, laying it over the top photo and fuse into place. It would be very obvious if you did a straight cut and then fused. It's better to cut along an uneven edge - in this case, the tree and building silhouette. Up close, you cannot see where the 2 pieces were joined which was my goal.
Next came the leaves to use as overlays. I had several options and made samples to see what created the most pleasing effect. I was working with organza which is very sheer with lots of body. The first sample was a silkscreen with a dark gray/black paint. It was way too heavy.
I loved the leaf and screened it on paper and then removed a lot of the dark areas using white out. From that new print, I was able to make another silkscreen which has a lighter look. After screening this onto organza, they were cut out. I liked the new look but thought they still might be too heavy.
 Throughout the process, I used a padded surface. Since organza is so sheer, much of the paint seeps through to the padding to create some really great images and fabric.

 My next option was to print these leaves onto organza using an inkjet printer. Inkjet images are much softer than a silkscreen which uses paint.
 I think I like this look better. The images were cut out and the edges burned with a wood burning tool giving a nice look to the edge which is obvious in the finished piece.
A branch was machine embroidered onto the surface. The leaves were attached using a monofilament thread stitching down the vein lines. I look at this piece and the first thing that comes to mind is a quiet, peaceful place hence the name  ...."Solitude".  I am linked to Off the Wall Fridays and Whoop Whoop Friday. Check out their blogs to see some wonderful fiber art being created.

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Snowin and Sewin"

I don't imagine anyone needs a reminder of the big storm...a crazy amount of snow and wind but a perfect time to hunker down and do some sewing as long as there was power.......AND power there was...so all was good.
 I do like snow...and to have 1 or 2 snowfalls a season is just fine ....it is so pretty and as long as you don't have to go anywhere...it works for me..
 We have some nice size hills...the kids were out sledding and I watched from inside. We gave our new kitten (13 pounds) a taste of his first snow and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it...

 The sky was beautiful that night....meanwhile back in the studio I decided I needed a no brainer...to sew for the sake of just sewing. I've been anxious to use up scraps and thought I would put together this little scrappy quilt.
 I started to see a pattern of this Kokopelli running through the quilt. By the way...could not for the life of me remember his name so I googled "little man with arched back playing the flute" and up popped Kokopelli...you can find most anything on the internet.
I also started to see the gold was really needed to pop and the dark brown batik really  made the gold work more effectively so scraps were replaced and rearranged.
So it has some sashing and borders and now it just needs to be quilted. It's a fairly small piece so it should go fast...Think I'll call it either "Snowed In" or "Kokopelli's Maze"....think Snowed In will always remind me of this huge snow storm.......Til next time...

Friday, January 15, 2016

PTA January 2015

Our first meeting of the new year for PTA  was at Georgia Bonesteels home; it brought lots of laughs (as always) and wonderful inspiration to give us a jump start on some new projects. 
 Dort is using up lots of scraps to create some beauties like the one above and
 this beautiful landscape.
 I love the choice of fabrics and the unique way of depicting the 4 seasons through a
 Linda is still busy knitting some wonderful, warm (all wool) socks which should come in handy in the next couple of months....although I for one think they need to be framed and hung up.
 Mary, our resident felter is always busy and producing wonderful things. She makes some beautiful bowls which get better and better.
 Another one of Mary's pieces which is a wonderful piece. The photo doesn't do it justice as it's a bit blurry.
 This was my favorite piece of Marys...think the use of deconstructive screen printed fabric is so well done as it's such a difficult fabric to work with.
 Mary had a cabuchon she wanted to highlight but it had an odd shape...so what to do...add some beads. Great idea and focal point.
 This is a quilt Kate made at a former retreat ...I made the same pattern only in soft roses and greens. Kate is an amazing piecer and sailed right through this...I on the other hand thought it was hard to do...I did finish mine but still waits to be quilted.
 Kate's is finished and looks great...here is a detail.
 We all decided that this quilt of Kates should be called "a Happy Quilt" ...that is the first thing I think of when I see it. Her use of fabric is so uplifting.
 And a detail.
 And another one of Kates in earthtones. This was made square and a sleeve will be put on both top and side so anyone can change the orientation of the stripes and being square, it will fit the same way in either direction.
 And a detail....
And Rosie the cat who decided she needed to be part of our group...made herself quite at home on top of Georgia's patterns.
It was a great day, full of inspiration, good food and lots of laughs...what a wonderful way to start the New Year.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

All Packed Up and Ready to go......

back into my studio. It was a wonderful holiday season and with my birthday tucked in-between, making it even better and a little more hectic. I'm finally back on track and sooooooo ready to get back to creating. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and I wish you a very blessed, healthy New Year. Tucked in with my good wishes is the hope that you'll all find lots of wonderful moments for creating or just doing what you love to do. 
 So first on my list for this week...first week of January...was to take down all the decorations. Fraggle wanted to help so desperately but just created more craziness...but you gotta love him!
 I do a lot of decorating...it is a lot of work but I love the way it looks and keep it up a long time.
 So consequently, the take down is just as much work. There is tissue, bags etc everywhere...
 There are 10 of these bins to be filled.......so half way there
The table is full of stuff...
 The tree is bare...
 along with the mantle...
 and bannisters...
 So when everything is packed up, vacumned (although I know I'll be finding pine needles for a long time) it's my time to get out some books I love and spend time perusing for inspiration. SAQA puts out a wonderful publication every year called Portfolio. It features work from the professional members of SAQA. Every page features a different artist; the artist chooses what she/he wants to be featured on their page.
Another series I turn to is the "Masters" series featuring artists who were invited to participate. The Masters has many different books each concentrating on a different art form. Of course my favorite is the art quilts. Each artist has 4-5 pages dedicated to their work so you can get a good feel for their style.
And I love Elizabeth Barton and her newest book - Inspired to Design and all the Benn and Morgan surface design books. So hopefully very soon, I'll be listening to the sound of my sewing machine and again...Thanks so much for hanging in there with me....and a very Happy New Year to each and everyone of you my dear readers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from my home to yours. In whatever way you celebrate, I wish you joy and the many blessings the season brings. May your New Year be filled with happy and creative moments and good health.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fiber Junkies - Hooray

It's that time of year... lots of gatherings with special friends. My Fiber Junkies certainly fits that bill...such special and talented ladies whose friendship I value so much. There are only 6 of us and we do manage to have buckets of fun as well as creating and experimenting each time we meet. 
Our annual holiday party was at Gens this year. 
Gen had a beautiful table and we all brought some yummy things to share. I particularly loved the centerpiece...made with popcorn, cranberries and a candle...how clever!
Denny who has been absent due to a family medical situation always brought the Yule cake which was lavish and delicious. Kate took over the job this year and created a delicious sponge jelly roll cake filled with whip cream, chocolate glaze and colorful holly.
Gen had these very clever napkins (which she made) and unfolded into a half circle to use and then folded back to a tree. Gen let me borrow one and I hope (with Gen's ao-ahead) to give directions for these in the future. I thought you could make these in a variety of prints for different seasons....flowers for summer, autumn colors etc.
This is what they look like when unfolded...
and the various folds
to wind up as a tree.
We had so much bubbly...even some pretty blue which was quite yummy!
The whole day was delightful but by far the best part is our gift exchange. Since there are so few of us, we decided several years ago to do a gift for each person. Knowing and working with each other so closely, we know each other's styles which makes it even more fun. Mary is a wonderful felter and doing more and more very intricate things. She made each of us a small bowl, picking the one she thought was most suited to what we love. Mary knows I love polka dots and here's mine. It's wonderful and it will sit in my studio where I spend the most time and want to be surrounded by my favorite things.
Kate made covers for these little notebooks...all the fabric was made by Kate....
and a place for a pen inside. It's already in my purse as this will be used constantly.
Val made us small rice-lavender heat bags which I've already used for my sore shoulders. Val made all the fabric and then screened designs on top. Not only is it functional but beautiful (and smells so nice with the additional lavender).
Gen who is probably the best knitter I know...Seriously...this woman can make anything! She knitted us all scarves which are gorgeous...each one a little different. Well, it's been quite warm here but friday night in Asheville...with the wind chill - it was 10 degrees. We were out and about and guess who was wearing this beautiful new scarf and loving it!
I made note cards using sky fabric I photographed and printed on fabric as a background. I also had lots of photos of trees I've taken over the years...I made them into small silk screens and screened them onto the background and adhered them to notecards.
Every gift was so thoughtful and useful...so like this group. In counting my blessings this year...this wonderful group of ladies is at the top of my list.
Hope your holidays are happy and bright...the countdown is on...