Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday news roundup

Working away on quilting the sandy background for the glass float piece today.I like the way it is shaping up. I probably won't show it again until it is finished.

It was a day of odds and ends and catching up and moving forward. It was a good luck sort of day too. I found my Dr. Slick scissors that I have been searching for for weeks. Of course I wasn't looking for them when I found them. I was looking for a spool of thread, which I found, and there were the scissors in the bottom of a plastic box that I'm pretty sure I searched last week. I think gremlins move things around in my house. Do you have that problem?

I know I have written here about these scissors before, but they are so great and I am so glad to have found them, that I have to say again how perfectly useful they are. They are made for fishermen and fly tying, but they are perfect little scissors for trimming threads when quilting and doing needlework. The blades are curved, making it less likely that you will snip into your quilt when you trim close. The tips are wonderfully sharp and will pick up the tiniest stitch to clip. They are pretty besides, smooth and beautifully made and the finger loops are roomy and very comfortable.

I also got a nice little package today from Deb Lacativa. It was a wooden printing block from India. She had picked it up at a yard sale, didn't find that she used it, so she sent it off to me. It will join my growing collection.  I love them. I use them for printing directly on fabric, or rubbing. They can also be used to apply wax for batiks. I made a quick little rubbing just to show you how nice it is!

 These are the other printing blocks I have.

What a nice thing to share a tool or material with another artist. I have a piece of African fabric that I have had for a long time. I'm not sure I would ever use it, but it looks like something Deb might use. I know she sent me the block with no expectation of anything in return, but I'm sending her this fabric. I can't wait to see if she finds something to use it for.

Name of the beautiful purple flower

This, just in from my blog friend, Joanne. "The flower's name is Osteospermum.   A Proven Winner annual." Joanne works at a nursery, so I knew she'd know. Thanks!

They are, apparently, a native of Africa and come in a vast number of colors. Mine looks a little beaten down by the rain today. I hope it perks up. The picture was taken last week when it was looking a little livelier.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Struggling with the sand

It was really interesting to read the comments on people's preferences regarding diagonal or horizontal lines in the sand background. I think either could work but Diane hit on exactly why I was leaning toward the horizontal lines when she said, "To my eye, the horizontal lined background emphasizes the float more. The diagonal lines are striking, but somehow that takes away from the serenity of (what I imagine to be) still sand. So I like the horizontal lines better..."  I, too, liked the more serene feel of the horizontal lines and they seemed to offer a more solid foundation for the float. I also liked the rhythm of horizontal lines. Diane is one of the Twelve by Twelve artists and as I have gotten to know her I notice how often our thinking seems to align. So much so that for two of our challenges we made extraordinarily similar pieces. Thanks for your thoughts, Diane!  I always value your opinion, because I think we share similar goals in what we're after.

Once I made the decision to do the horizontal design, the execution was not really smooth sailing. I started by using two separate fabrics for the stripes. The more yellow fabric was cut, textured and fused to the more beige-y fabric.Once I saw the stripes coming together it seemed to me that the applied stripes were dirty looking. I think my shading was a little heavy-handed and the color a bit dead. Fortunately the fused stripes were barely fused and were easy to remove. Then I just continued to create the stripes on the single piece of background fabric.
I used a sheet of coarse sandpaper under the fabric and rubbed with water-color crayons to get the texture of the sand. Instead of the dark taupe and brown shadows I had been using I used a combination of blue and orange, which created an almost purple shadow. Much more lively than that dead brown.

Here is the finished piece of fabric. The next step will be to quilt the entire background. So far there is no stitching, though the edges of the shadows almost look like they've been stitched in the photo. I have been working on this all day and it has been a struggle. I think it is going to work, but it's not really there yet.

This is the point where I often get to with a piece and I just have to push on with faith that my plan will work out. I could easily give up on it at this point, but I think I have learned to keep seeing ahead to the next step. Not that everything always turns out well, but I think almost all (maybe all) of them go through a bad stage along the way. Do you go through this with your work?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So beautiful I could cry

And I did. This is a photo of the 12 x 12 quilts altogether for the first time at the Australasian Quilt Conference in Melbourne, Australia happening right now. See more on the 12 x 12 blog. It was the picture of Australian Twelve, Kirsty, holding one of my little quilts that did me in. The world just got smaller. Pardon the mush, but this just fills me with joy.

Featured on Dinner at Eight Artists Blog today

I am the featured artist today. The blog is featuring each of the artists with work accepted for the Beneath the Surface show. My piece, "What's Left Behind" will be part of the show.


This glass float piece is coming together in an odd way for me. I have the foreground elements done as component pieces. The sandy background has had me a bit stymied. I worked on it a bit yesterday, but was not happy with what I was getting. I woke up this morning with a couple of ideas—both less realistic, more stylized. Yesterday I was looking at photos of sandy beach and getting far too caught up in the way things really are! So I did a little playing in Illustrator and Photoshop this morning and came up with two scenarios, using a digital background and my photo of the float. You will have to imagine the foam added.

Here's #1

Here's #2
So, this helped me figure it out. I thought I would like number 2, the diagonal stripes, but I think I like the horizontal stripes when I see it this way. What do you think?

And jandj—your suggestion of making a sand texture by doing a rubbing from coarse sandpaper is exactly what I plan to do! I have done this before and it works great.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sea Foam

I am back to work on my Oregon beach/glass float quilt today. Since I am experimenting, and making a lot of this up as I go, I thought I'd share the process. I am trying to figure out how to make sea foam, using cheesecloth as the base fabric.

Here is my piece of stiffened cheesecloth—see yesterday's post if you don't know what I'm referring to. It is about the stiffness of a sheet of typing paper. I used some Solvy stabilizer dissolved in water to stiffen it.

I set my sewing machine up for free-motion stitching and started stitching little attached circles until I got a nice shape that looked like sea foam washing up on the beach. Then I cut it out and let it soak in some warm water to wash the stabilizer out of it.

Here is what a small piece, washed and ironed, looks like against the float and sand-colored background fabric. It seems to shrink a bit and since not quite all of the stabilizer washes out, it irons up quite crisp, which I think will be an advantage when I am ready to stitch it down. Yes! I think this is going to work. The finished stuff looks quite a lot like lace. I can see that one could use this technique for a variety of interesting effects.

Here's a bigger piece.
Now I need to figure out what kind of pattern/texture I want for the sand. Here's an experiment on a scrap of the fabric I'm using.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April Showers

It has rained quite steadily all day today, except for early this morning when I went to walk. Somehow the weather has turned the corner into spring, so the rain was more like spring rain than winter rain. Maybe you have to be an Oregonian with intimate knowledge of rain to distinguish a difference. Spring rain—warmer, gentler, but if anything, wetter. Makes everything feel damp. Indoors and out. But it is great for the flowers, especially those I planted over the weekend.

I pondered the glass float quilt and decided I need sea foam on the sand around the float to indicate that it just rolled in from the ocean, and just because I like the idea. My idea is to stitch a bubbly, foam pattern onto filmy cheesecloth, then stitch that to the quilt. In order to stitch cheesecloth I need to stiffen it. So I painted a piece with a liquid stabilizer that is like super, duper starch. I can stitch it, then wash the stabilizer out and have my soft cheesecloth back. Mind you, I've never done this before, but theoretically it is supposed to work! The problem is the high humidity. My stabilized cheesecloth is a bit limp. No surprise. That's what happens to crackers and potato chips and corn flakes when it rains like this. Maybe tomorrow I'll take the hairdryer to it. But for now I haven't made much progress. The rain makes me feel unfocused and lazy. I'd rather curl up in a chair and watch it come down outside or watch Dora the Explorer on TV with Sofia.

I just got another birthday present. See? I told you I liked to make my birthday last for most of the month. Muriel sent this utterly perfect wind chime. There was an old eye bolt already in place right where it was needed on the corner of the overhang by the front door and I hung it immediately. It is an articulated pine cone made of heavy iron and the sound is lovely when it moves. Kind of low and soft as opposed to your ordinary high, tinkly chimes. Just perfect.

And look who's back. Silly goose doesn't have the good sense to get out of the rain.

Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday Barbara left a comment and said, "You did inherit your mother's artistic instincts!" Barbara—who are you? Did you know my mother? I have been clicking through my mental file of all the Barbaras I've known and can't imagine which one left the comment... But, thanks Barbara. It was lovely to read that.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Finishes and starts

I started today by finishing a couple of projects. The first was my 12 x 12 quilt that will be revealed May 1. The theme colors this time are from Kristen in Hawaii and they are the colors of the Kilauea  volcano. It has been an interesting challenge. I found my inspiration, surprisingly, in a Native American art exhibit we saw at the Cleveland Art Museum last month. Be sure to come back on the 1st and take a look. The next thing I finished was a flower-themed quilt block which will go into a quilt being made for a friend's birthday. It is meant to be a surprise, so I will say nothing more. But I think I can show you and not give the secret away. I love irises and have done several iris quilts over the years. I think my friend is quite fond of irises as well.

Once those two projects were finished I took some fabric and paints outside and painted this big circle for a new quilt I am about to start. It will be another Oregon-themed quilt. Can you guess from this what it will be? I posted it on Face book earlier and one person guessed that it was Crater Lake. Another said "water—sky" then my niece chimed in that it was definitely Crater Lake. It's not Crater Lake, but amazing Crater Lake would certainly be a good Oregon subject.

It will be a glass float on an Oregon Beach. This is a childhood memory of trips, with my grandparents to the Oregon Coast. In those days you could still occasionally find the glass floats from Japanese fishing nets that washed up on the beach. I wanted to find one in the worst way, and one day I did, though I suspect in hindsight that my grandfather planted it for me to find. I wrote about it back here.

Even though the floats came from Japan, I think of them as quintessentially Oregon. You see them hanging in seafood restaurants along the coast and in gardens and homes all over Western Oregon. Apparently there was something about the tides that brought so many of them to Oregon beaches. They are quite rare now that most of the floats used are plastic, but I have heard that they still wash up occasionally. They were made as strictly utilitarian items from recycled sake bottles, but I think they are quite beautiful.

Here is what it looks like now that I have finished painting and it is dry and cut out into a circle. I think it captures something of the look of those wobbly globes of bubbly glass. My task now will be to create a beach context for it. Otherwise it could easily be a green bowling ball. In the spirit of my other Oregon piece, Douglas Fir Cone, it is larger than life-size.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


It has been a very Oregon Springtime Saturday today. First some sunshine, then a little rain and then some more sunshine. It was a good day to drive up over the hill out into the country to the Kinton Grange for the Master Gardeners' plant sale. Ray found some things he was looking for and I wandered around and took pictures and enjoyed the sunshine.

The Oregon countryside is beautiful and so very, very green this time of year. The Grange is next to the old Kinton Schoolhouse that is literally falling down. What an interesting old building. Too bad it has been left to decay so badly.

The old orchards roll across the hills. This is probably a hazlenut orchard.

Days like this make me wish for summer and spur me to plant flowers and clean off the deck, though it is too cold to sit on the deck for very long. I had a gift certificate at the Portland Nursery, so we drove across town, making a stop at IKEA for lunch and a few items, then spent way more than my gift certificate at the nursery and came home and planted some of the porch and deck pots.

One of my purchases at IKEA was a frame for my green eggs photo from the other day. I ordered a print and knew if I didn't get it framed and hung right away I would forget where I put the print or forget the whole idea altogether, so it is done. I love ordering prints from digital photos online. I can sit right here, order the print and about an hour later drive over to Walgreen's and pick it up. Hasn't photography changed dramatically in the space of what seems like just a few years? Used to be I'd have a roll of film in my camera for so long that by the time I got around to having it developed, which took about a week it seems like, I didn't even remember what pictures I had taken. From a roll there might be three or four worth doing something with and several totally worthless shots of the ground or the sky and a bunch of "who cares?" shots of the backs of people's heads at a parade, etc. Now I can crop and improve just the photos I want prints of and have them in my hand the same day.

So, here is the egg photo framed and hung. It is right below my son-in-law's little painting of the old houses along the river in Cuenca, Ecuador, his hometown. He gave it to me when he and Emily were dating. When I measured it for a frame I found that the stretched canvas he purchased in Ecuador did not correspond with any standard frame size here once I got it home, so I had to have a frame made for it. I can tell you it cost about 7 times what the IKEA frame did. I hate spending a lot of money on frames, but I like things to look good. I like the clean lines of the IKEA frames and the price is certainly right.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green Eggs, No Ham

I bought a big 2-dozen carton of eggs at Costco the other day. They were lovely shades of tan and brown. I decided to hard boil some of them today to have on hand. I am trying to eat a lower carb diet and think I could enjoy a hard-boiled egg for breakfast instead of cereal. I usually mark the boiled eggs "HB" with a pencil so we don't confuse them with raw eggs, but remembering our lovely colored Easter eggs, I decided to add a few drops of food coloring to the water as they cooled instead. The green food coloring affected them differently from egg to egg. You may see these weird putty-colored eggs as ugly, but I am quite in love with the colors.
This one looks like it was treated in some way to achieve the interesting stripes, especially the wide patterned stripe. I didn't do a thing to it and it looked exactly like the others when I started. Somewhere there lives an artistic hen, who marks her eggs with a secret code.

These three seemed to exactly match this ceramic plate, even duplicating the effect of the clay color showing through the green glaze. I want to frame this photo and hang it on the wall.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Last summer I bought a couple of solar powered Japanese style lanterns to use outside. I really enjoyed them on the deck and I was intrigued with the idea of making lanterns from fabric that would be a little more colorful and interesting than the very plain ones I bought. The catch was finding the solar powered light to go inside. I looked at lights on the internet and didn't find what I thought I needed, plus the ones I found were pretty expensive. Then one day I was in the garden section at K Mart and saw these individual solar lights. I discovered that the stakes popped right off leaving just the light. And the price was right. Perfect.

So, those of you that guessed that yesterday's project was some kind of lampshade were pretty much right.

Here is the finished lantern, hanging on a little shepard's crook outside. I made the framework from bamboo-like sticks, lashed together at the corners. I sewed the fabric, a lovely gingko patterned batik, with channels at each corner for the sticks to go through, then when it was assembled I painted a layer of clear acrylic medium on the fabric to give it a little body and partial rain resistance. The solar light was  hung from each of the corners with twine and additional twine, tied to the corners  is used to suspend it from the hook.

Here's a somewhat blurry photo of how it looked tonight.

I may make a couple more of these. I think my design could be refined a bit.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sewing Machine

The first sewing machine I ever owned was this early 20th century Singer Treadle model. I still own it. It is out in the garage right now, waiting for my studio to be built, where it will resideIt looks exactly like this. I was 10 years old and a friend of my mother gave it to me. I sewed so many things on this machine, starting with doll clothes and then my own clothes. I remember making a red, black and white print dress, trimmed with white rick rack that won a blue ribbon at the Bannock County (Idaho) State Fair.

I can't imagine living without a sewing machine and I own several. My current model of choice is a Janome 6500 with a wide opening which makes it handy for quilting large pieces. It is the tool I use for the fabric art that I make. Today it was a tool for shortening sleeves and pants. Then I played around with an idea that has been floating around in my head for awhile. It is not a quilt, but a crafty sort of thing. Can you tell what I am trying to make?

Sometimes I hear people say that don't own a sewing machine and I am astounded. I can hardly imagine anyone living without one. Well, of course I know it's possible, but how do you hem your pants? It has been a rare occurrence in my life that I have purchased a pair of pants whose legs were exactly the right length. Men. I know when they purchase trousers they have far more pant length options than we women. Probably because they are less likely to own a sewing machine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I knew it!

I knew if I waited long enough I'd finally get to be trendy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Douglas Fir Cone

It was such a nice day today. Sofia spent the day with me and we tried out the new picnic table by taking our lunch outside. She pronounced the new table "weally nice."  I was pleased to see that it already has a little bit of bird poop on it. It is settling right in.

Yesterday I finished the big cone, formally named "Oregon Douglas Fir." This piece is done way ahead of schedule for submitting for the Oregon SAQA show. Once I had the idea I just wanted to do it. I should have measured it, but I have it wrapped up to take to the STASH meeting tomorrow and I don't want to unwrap it, but I think it is about 30 by 36, so the cone itself is probably about 2' high. Definitely larger than life. I really enjoyed the whole process and especially examining each small detail of that cone and then enlarging it. I am now thinking of other things that would be interesting to work on in a magnified version.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Silly Goose

After a rainy walk this morning, it is turning into a beautiful day here. I just stepped out back to talk to Ray who was planting seeds in the garden and saw this goose, looking very regal, standing on my neighbor's roof.

He seemed to be separated from his flock. No other geese around. And just to provide some context:
That blue sky is just about the same shade as the blue sky I am quilting right now in my big cone quilt. Nearly done. I'll show you when I finish it.

I just looked out the window. Silly goose is still there. Makes me happy just to see him up there.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Working on it

It was a pretty nice day today. Supposed to rain, but it didn't so we got a few things done outside. This yard of ours is a big project and I will be the first to admit that I'm not much into the heavy lifting aspects of creating the landscape, but Ray seems to think it's fun so I am happy to be the idea man and supervisor.

Several weeks ago I saw logs used in landscaping a yard I saw on my walk and we had just had three big trees cut down and had piles of logs all over the front yard. Today Ray and picked out a nice selection and we arranged them at one side of a berm that Ray created. I think they look great and will be even better with some plants in front of them. Our planned little round patio will be right out front of this area.

Friday I spotted wooden picnic tables for sale. I've been looking for one for a couple of years. When we bought this house I could envision a picnic table on the wooded side of the creek. Rustic. The classic Forest Service type picnic table.  How many of these kinds of tables have I scraped the bird poop off of to lay out a picnic? Too many to count. Camping trips, roadside stops, trips to the park, campfires in the mountains. Very nostalgic for me and they just seem to belong among the pinecones and needles. We took the pickup down to the store where it was this morning and brought it home. It came unfinished so I spent a couple hours this afternoon brushing on a protective stain. Looks perfect to my eye. It would only take a little heavy lifting to turn that pile of rocks into a fire pit. The firewood is already right there. Marshmallows!

Funny thing about working on these yard projects. It is hard work and all the while I am doing it I am thinking about how lazy I am going to be when it is finished! That picnic table? I see myself eating my lunch with a book, drinking a cold beer late in the afternoon with Ray. Over where the logs went? That's near where the hammock is going and the big comfy chair. I imagine the cool shade there on a summer day. I wonder if we'll ever get there...

Yay! I found it!

Friday, April 09, 2010


Do you do StumbleUpon? It is a time waster, but always yields something interesting. Yesterday I stumbled upon a site with a neat drawing application. I did several drawings, having a lot of fun with it, then I lost it and I can't find it again. Sigh. It was similar to this site, but cooler. Instead of drawing a line drawing, then applying the spidery lines after the fact, they appeared as I was drawing the thing, so there is a little more control involved. If you know what I'm talking about let me know. Anyway, here are some of my drawings. Click to see them larger. The detail is interesting.

I was not paying attention yesterday. I went to a meeting last night wearing mismatched earrings. I blame it all on allergies. My car is covered with a fine layer of green pollen and the air is full of it. I feel like my head is full of those spidery lines in the drawings.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I have had this camera for more than 3 years now and I just discovered that it has a setting for taking pictures at night. Takes much better low light pictures than I have been taking, using another setting that I stumbled upon awhile back that took better low light shots than the default setting. I love taking photos and I try to take good ones, but somehow I just don't have the patience to read the manual, so I bumble along until I accidentally figure something out. I still haven't figured out how to take a short video with the camera. I know it will do it. It's probably in the manual. Years ago I owned a nice SLR camera. I had taken a photography class and it seemed like I needed a good camera. I never did know what I was doing with that camera and it just frustrated me.

I don't get it. I'm a smart person and I exercise extreme amounts of patience in other spheres of my life. Reading manuals for machines just makes me crazy and I don't do it. One of these days I really am going to have to read the manual for my electric toothbrush. I need to replace the brush part and try as I might I can't figure out how to remove the darn thing.

Monday, April 05, 2010

It's my birthday

That's me, newborn, in my mother's arms. Four generations, starting with my great-grandmother, Cora, known to all as "Bam"; my grandmother, Clarice, who would rather be called "Teresa", and my mother Betty.

I've never been much interested in the study of geneology, but I have been thinking a lot lately about my family and where I came from and what they all mean to who I am. I remember Bam and Grandma. Bam lived into her '90s and we visited her many times when I was a child. We visited Grandma. She visited us. She taught me to sew doll clothes and passed on her love of color and fabric. Bam quilted weekly with the Methodist ladies. Mom was an artist. And here I am with bits from all of them—not to mention my other Grandma Hazle, my Dad's mother. They all walk around with me in some little way and I know them as my family and my blood. It occurs to me that my granddaughter will never know any of these women, except for me, but, in a more elusive way, they are walking with her as well. And, of course, my son and daughter too. And the family that came before. Bam's mother and grandmothers and great grandmothers—aren't they part of this too?

I have been watching the PBS series called Faces of America and it has been surprisingly moving, as the host, Henry Louis Gates, reveals to his guests information about their ancestors and finally the previously unknown connections even among those guests. Revelations about race and ethnicity discovered through DNA testing, told some of them they were not exactly "what" they thought they were. Each bit of information was met with such a sense of joy and delight—never dismay or disappointment. Knowing more about oneself, whatever is revealed,  it seems, is something so satisfying.

Looking at my grandchild, I realize how many people contribute to one person's makeup in only a few generations time. She has her American ancestors, both mine and Ray's as well her South American ancestors which include indigenous (Inca? Maybe.) blood and Spanish. A vast network when you think of it. A network that overlaps and intersects thousands of other networks.And each of these networks is a network of stories. Faces of America was all about family stories and it was the stories that the guests responded to with such emotion.

And so I think we are obligated to tell our stories, as well as the stories that were told to us. See those three women in that picture up there? I could tell you a lot of stories about them, but you have your own stories. My grandchildren will hear my stories.


At the last minute my daughter and I decided we would dye eggs at my house after my birthday dinner Saturday night. I'm sure the rest of you had dyed your eggs and had them beautifully decorated and nestled in a sweet basket before we even got our plan together. What can I say? It was a crazy, busy week. Emily called Saturday evening from Albertsons, the third store she'd been to, in frustration. There was no Easter egg dye left to be found in any of the stores. Did I have food coloring? I did.

So, I'm going to let you in on our secret.discovery. You know those dye pills everyone uses to dye eggs with? Forget those. Food coloring works better. Honestly, it does. Here's the recipe, found by Googling: 20 drops of food coloring, 1 tablespoon vinegar and half a cup of lukewarm water. The eggs seemed to take the color instantly, evenly, clear and bright. I'm never going to buy those pills again. We dyed and decorated them with crayons. Pretty much your basic Easter egg. Sofia loved it.

Then, this morning the Easter bunny dropped by and hid them all over our living room (too wet outside) and Sofia found them. We made sure all were found (didn't want a repeat of this again) then we all sat down with a salt shaker and peeled and ate an egg each. Delicious. Colored eggs are just so much tastier than plain white ones.