rocket tracking


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feathers Free Motion Quilt Project

If you have been following this blog, you'll know that I have neuropathy from the chemotherapy drugs I received.  The neuropathy surfaces for me as numbness in my hands and feet.  I'm grateful for that as I could be burning pain as it is for so many people who have received Taxol or Abraxane in their fight against cancer.   I have no feeling in my finger tips and my little finger and ring finger of my left hand (I'm left handed) are completely numb.  This causes me to not have great fine motor skills in my hands, and my free-motion quilting suffers because of it.

Thus, I decided that the best way to handle this was to re-learn machine quilting and just practice, practice, practice.  That's the key to good quilting (and almost everything else) anyway, so when Maria Elkins put up SewCalGal's challenge on her website, I joined in as well.

Each month, a renowned free-motion quilter gives tutorials and has us practice an element of free motion quilting.  This month was Diane Gaudinsky.
Usually, I would use the same or similar color thread when practicing on muslin because you won't see the mistakes quite as badly, but since I knew I was going to have to put it up on the blog, I did it in a variagated embroidery thread in the top and Superior's "Sew Fine" (love that stuff) in the bobbin.

I'm lousy at echoing.  The top piece is the sample I did this week.  The sample at left is doodles I did with Shirley Stutz in a class I took with her in I think about 2006 or maybe 2007.  I did a much better job there.  Shirley's a great teacher and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I was also using my beloved Bernina 153 which I sold to a friend when I upgraded to the 440.....and Carol...if you're reading...please remember I get first dibs if you ever decide to get rid of it...that machine was superb and beats the pants off my 440.  So...I'm working on quilting...working on drawing....and hoping that just maybe I'll be able to improve.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Another Quilt Inspired by the Barn in Palestine, OH

Here is the second of the two barn quilts I submitted to the Studio Art Quilt Associates Ohio regional show. Like the round window, it did not get it.
While this was fun to do and I like it, it didn't surprise me that it didn't make it in...for all the round window's faults, I think it is a better composition.

This one is also sort of problematic because I realized that I made one of the branches grow from two directions....The fact that it started out life as a grape vine, sort of confused me...there was grapevine as well as tree in the original picture...I opted not to use the grape leaves because I couldn't get the look of them down well enough. Instead of being divided, these grape leaves were not lobed much at all and the fact that they were old (this was taken in October) meant that the leaves were limp and fluttery....not looking much like grape leaves at all.

I wonder, if I cropped it a bit more, taking out some of the door casing maybe like this, if it wouldn't be better.  It still doesn't solve the branch issue...which I'm sure you'll be able to find easily in this shot.
In addition, I wanted this to be "painterly" in the painting...not tight and controlled...I tend to paint very tightly and I'm trying to retrain myself.   While the streaks of pain and some blobs of gold didn't bother me, I wonder if it does bother others.

The blobs at the far left are actually well as the blobs in the center.

I'm still having significant problems controlling my machine quilting.  The numbness in my hands just makes the fine motor control difficult.  I'm hoping that with more practice, I'll be able to either overcome it or develop a method or style of machine quilting which doesn't look too bad.  I rather like how the thread painting on these stems makes it look sketchy.

It was my intention to make even more thread build up on these...but I found that I was using a heck of a lot of thread and the way in which I was doing this was leading to too much distortion.  Rather than doing this on just the top with a layer of stabilizer behind it, I sandwiched it and thread painted through the top/batting/backing.  I then put another backing on it and quilted some more since the thread painting makes the back look so rough.

Practice makes perfect...and I've been trying to "do the work" a lot lately.  You can't get better unless you put in the time.  I'm looking forward to exploring more of my barn sketches and photos through quilting.

You can see the original barn quilt posting with the photos here:

Apologies, Gas, and Meds...

I'm beginning to wonder about what kind of a world this is turning into.  I read with much dismay that Rick Santorum criticized President Obama for apologizing for the burning of the Korans (or Qu'ran or however you spell it these days).  The way I was raised, when an error is made, particularly one which is hurtful to others, you apologize.  It's the right thing to do.  Yes, it was a mistake, and yes, we probably should have had some sort of safe guard to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen....but it doesn't mean we shouldn't apologize and accept responsibility for our errors.

It doesn't make the U.S. weaker if we acknowledge error, in fact, it makes us stronger.  I'm not saying that the response to the burnings is appropriate.  It's not.  Even the clerics are pointing out that the Koran doesn't say that you should spill blood...this is way over the top...but Santorum is out of line.  Certainly, if he claims to be a Christian, he is definitely barking up the wrong tree because I thought we were supposed to acknowledge our transgressions and ask forgiveness.

I'm also puzzled as to why people blame the present administration  for the higher  price of gas....I thought we were in a free market economy.  And I thought that all the fuel companies are in the business of making money....not providing fuel at the cheapest possible rate.  As I understand it, contributing factors are that several refineries were taken off line because they were too old to efficiently process the crude oil.  In addition, countries overseas are willing to pay more for the fuel...and we, like the sheep we are, will pay whatever just to keep our cars on the road....So, oil companies pretty much can do what they please...and I wonder, how much in taxes do they pay on their exorbitant profit?  What incentives are still in place? Are we still paying incentives for oil exploration?  Why is it that few people look at the fact that all the times the price of gas rose, the companies declared high profits...yet, it's President Obama's fault for not allowing the Keystone XL to go through? Sounds a little fishy to me.

In some countries, the government owns the oil the U.S., we don't.

People have been asking me lately if I am able to get the cancer drugs I need as they have heard of shortages.  Yes there are shortages....but the ones I'm on haven't been a problem yet.  People tch tch at me and say "this is just wrong...people should be able to get the drugs they need."  Well, my dears, again, it boils down to the free market economy and the fact that we don't have nationalized medicine.  Companies are in the business to make money...lots of money...not necessarily to do lots of humanitarian things.  If they were, they would be non-profits.  But they make money and give back dividends to their investors.

If they have the choice of manufacturing drugs which make a lot of money, or ones which make less money, which do you think they'll do?  If a drug is in short supply...then I also imagine that they can command higher prices.

Maybe these are some things we should think on just a little bit longer...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Decay--completion of concept developed 2 years ago

Back in October, 2010, I went on a quilting retreat in Palestine, Ohio.  Next door to the retreat center (in an old school which had been rehabed) was a large 19th century barn.  Attached to the barn was a  house which probably dated to about 1860.  It had been moved to the barn to serve as its office, presumably because another, more stylish and modern house had been built.

The image intrigued me.  The structure was covered with grape vines, domestic ones as they had white grapes on them rather than the regular fox grapes (what we always called them in Michigan....but perhaps they are more properly called scuppernong as they were in Virginia) which, along with various tree seedlings, were suceeding in pulling down the building.

Last year, I painted the muslin to make an interpretation of it...and this is what I came up with.

I intended to really heavily thread paint it, something I had never done before.

I must say, I made some mistakes, but I think it turned out fairly well....
Here's the detail so you can see the quilting in it.  It's fairly small, only 22 1/2" x 21" (I'm too lazy to go back and check my book).

I thought this piece was better than the Texture study I showed you yesterday....but this piece did not make it in.

The turquoise in the picture is corrugated fiberglass which covered the windows and doors of the house.

Which do you think is better? This piece or the one I showed you yesterday (the Textures, not the goofy Unconventional Materials Challenge piece).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Explorations and Expectations

Unconventional Materials Challenge, Quiltart Message List 2011.
ARGHHH!.  Blogger is being a pest tonight and it won't let me start the text where I want it.  BAGH!

Anyway, The first image above is a "quilt" which I did for the Quiltart Message List in a month long challenge hosted by Maxine Farkas.  It was due on October 18, 2011, but I haven't seen anything about it since I sent the photo in.  

The challenge was to use unconventional materials, specifically things you'd find in the garage or the hardware store.  Materials: Hardware Cloth, tea bags, landscaping cloth (the plastic kind), turn buttons, washers, ball chain, crochet cotton, wooden beads, masking tape "binding". Size:  17 1/2" H x 12" wide.  Because I know that my local groups would grump if it were only 2 layers (which is what Quilt National says ) I used a tea-bag "batting (I sewed large, restaurant sized tea bags together to make a middle layer).  I used hardware cloth and landscaping cloth because of the "cloth" aspect and just picked up what looked like fun.

Part of me balks at this....It is so easy to be distracted and not concentrate on making good pieces, but playing and having fun...don't get me wrong, fun is good....exploring things is the end product art? Is it worthy of being  shown somewhere?

The concept of doing the unconventional materials has been with me for a long time.  I have actually picked up pieces of hardware and plumbing before with the thought of using them in a I decided to join in on this challenge.

What is a little amusing to me now is that it presently fits the Studio Art Quilt Associate's new definition of "art quilt:  The art quilt is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.

The Board sees the revised definition as a visionary statement. The word "references" allows for a broader understanding of the art quilt, thus creating a potential for growth in SAQA membership in terms of numbers and diversity of artists. The revised definition allows for more 3D work and work in media other than fiber/textile/fabric/cloth; it allows for techniques and materials not found in traditional quilting. The revised definition allows for framed, unframed, bound, and unbound work, thereby welcoming growth and development of individual style. 

(Sorry that the background color came wit the clip).  I still don't think it is worthy of submitting to a SAQA show though....or is it???

The next piece, the one directly above, sort of came out of this same challenge....but with a twist.  I have been working with found objects...or rather mentally playing with found objects in quilts.  I decided that I wanted to do a piece which I called "zen stitching" and is roughly related to the Japanese concept of "Wabi-sabi."  Please take a look at the Wikipedia definition of "Wabi-sabi" as I think a lot of westerners have taken it to mean a sort of serendipitous aesthetic, when I think it has a more spiritual connotation.  Yes, it has elements of impermanence, and a rusticity, but there's more to it than that.  

I wanted to have a hand sewn piece, one which I would work on texture utilizing random hand quilting, with no prior sketch or thought....just stitching.  I chose a piece of my rust-dyed/tea dyed fabric to serve as the back ground.  Because it is so wonderful to needle through and has great loft and is surprisingly light weight, I used a wool batting.  

After stitching, I used old crochet threads to stitch down tile spacers and washers. Then, I machine quilted with free-motion zigzag using a hand dyed-Oliver Twist thread.  Then I couched hand dyed silk ribbon from Oliver Twist.
I looked at it and decided that I needed even more texture.  So, I found a remnant of copper colored synthetic fabric I bought from the remnant bin at JoAnn fabrics....and I had a piece of stretch velvet...I liked the edges of the wool batting sticking out from the background.  The original quilted section was not square, but reflected the scrap source of the piece of fabric I rust dyed--a scrap of fabric from a stash donated to a friend....destined for the dumpster if I didn't take it.

I then quilted it....lots.  Gives me two of a map or the texture of the earth....I extended the quilting out through the brown stretch velvet...and I felt for all the world like it was water running across the nappy shoulders of a buffalo.

I think I was probably influenced by some of Brooke Atherton's pieces....although hers are much more wonderful.

This was one of three pieces I submitted to the Studio Art Quilt Associate's Ohio Regional Show, and the only one to be accepted.  I am pleasantly surprised.  Correction, I am dumbfounded as a couple of people who I consider to do very good work didn't get in....and to think that this little piece which I did with found pieces, salvaged materials, and just my random stitching....well.. OK, it wasn't completely random as I did look at what I was doing, but it was completely without in.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Art Quilt Cards

 Last week, I was showered with cards as a week ago was my birthday, and of course Valentines Day worked its way in there as well.

You've seen Joan Sterr's lovely home-made fiber art cards before.  I haven't seen Joan in a while as she is playing the part of a snowbird....lucky duck.  She sent me this interesting thread stitched card.  She did it all freehand/free motion.

I especially like it because it reminds me of lady in an 18th century gown, with a stomacher (the yellow part) covering the lacings on her bodice....A throwback to my area of historical specialty, Colonial America.  You some ways, the face sort of resembles Joan...This was her Valentines card to me.
 This fun little piece is simply a section of aboriginal print Joan embellished and quilted.  I love the color combos....
 Ruth Treon, one of the Batty Binder Art Quilters (Twisted Stitchers) made this little confetti style postcard.  She and I took Noriko Endo's class together at the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati last year.  She wasn't happy with her piece, and has yet to finish it.  However, she did this little piece as a fun thing using Noriko's technique.  She said that this was more fun and I think you'll agree, it is pretty successful.

I have to admit, this is the orientation I like if the leaves have fallen from the aspens and are now on the forest floor.
However, this is Ruth's intended orientation.  I think because the yellow is such a strong color that the balance is better with it on the bottom...If the forest floor were darker, then I think I'd put it her intended way.....

Either way, I really like it.

I am beginning to have quite a collection of fiber art post where near rivaling  Del Thomas' collection of 12" x 12" pieces...but who knows?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Guilty Gardener

Snow crocus

The forlorn vegetable garden
I have been working hard on doing taxes and college financial reporting (which is sort of silly as we don't qualify for the loans).  We've had many warm fact, too many.

This is a snow crocus that was blooming in my garden on January 31, WAY too early.  The same day saw several snowdrops blooming, but evidently I forgot to take pictures of those little white beauties.

I've been a little concerned, not so much for the spring bulbs, but I have tree peonies which are beginning to unfurl their leaves....not good if we get a prolonged cold snap.  I'll probably lose the cherry crop this year as well, I often do if there is a late frost.  I had no crop last year.

I have much to catch up on in the garden. The fall was busy and I wasn't up to par, not that I am now.  I managed to get the front pretty well taken care of, but my back yard gardens are full of things which need cutting down, and leaving them harbors more insects and some fungal and viral diseases.  I'm thinking mostly of the daylilies and iris....I did cut back most of  peonies, another chore which must be done or risk botrytis blight.

I prefer clean up rather than using sprays, although some things I leave in the garden to have winter interest, like my grasses and my sedums.

This horrible mess though was a complete loss....I planted rather half-heartedly last year, but I did put things in my raised beds and just beyond..but I wasn't able to garden in the summer...the chemo just took too much out of me.  The year before was somewhat the same.

The only solace I am able to take is that these over grown weeds are home and shelter to lots of birds.  Mostly sparrows, juncos and finches at this time of year, but this summer wrens found it great too.  Hopefully, I'll be able to clean it up soon and this year I hope to have a decent garden....either that, or I'll put it all back to lawn again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some Birthday thoughts

Odd how the death of a singer who abused alcohol, illegal drugs and prescriptions gets 24 hour coverage for days after her death, but those who've kept terrorists from attacking & killing civilians on American soil and elsewhere in the world rarely get any coverage.  All of those celebrities coming forward and calling her a "treasure" knew she was slowly killing herself and did nothing to protect someone who they deemed a treasure.  Our Troops and first responders are our real treasures as they do something--keep us from being attacked and killed.  So let's make sure we take care of them.  Thank you troops.

I first saw this on Facebook today, and was really taken by it.  Please know that the above and the photo are not mine.   It is posted by  whose "about" section reads:  No more homeless Veterans, no more Veteran suicides, no more wounded Veterans not being able to find help.

I had never seen it before, and only saw it this time when one of my FB friends "liked" it.  

I've felt this way for a long time....I don't feel that we are doing enough to take care of our veterans.  I feel that the Veteran's Hospitals are woefully not up to the task of taking care of our own, especially after hearing what friends go through as they try to guide their WWII and Korean or Vietnam Vet parents through the morass.  I felt this way when I was getting treatment at the Hospital of St. Raphael's and saw a homeless vet every day with his sign near the hospital. I feel this way now as I see younger and younger vets struggling with what they have seen and done in the mid-east.  

I cringe that we mark the passing of someone who has thrown away their lives which usually aren't filled with the horror and struggle of  our vets.  I think too of all the help that my nurses give me and the work that hospice nurses do.....and I think that it is sad that we focus so much on the entertainers of the world.

I don't care what country they serve. I do care about the sacrifices they make.

Today is my birthday.  I know what it means to be thankful for another day and another year.  I greet each year and candle with joy, every grey hair, every creaking bone...because at least I can wake up and feel and so many can't.  People with great promise who didn't throw their lives away.  

So, in honor of my birthday, I'll make a contribution to somewhere, whether it is to a veteran's service group, or to an aid group for famine or natural disaster (yes, Haiti and many others are still working on rebuilding and trying to put their lives back together)....but it seems to me that that is something I can do. I hope you consider celebrating your special days in some similar fashion.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Last Tree in the Batty Binder Forest Linette Vagades

Linette Vagedes is a special needs teacher in an elementary school and loves to mess around with art quilting...She is often frustrated, however, at trying to get what is in her mind's eye, onto the fabric, something which stymies most of us from time to time.

Here's her little "blank" tree.
I'm a little amused by seems to have a split personality...a tree in the late autumn just as the frost and snow begins to come.  You might think that the addition on the side of the piecing is a bit odd...but the exercise that the person who added it was trying to work with was creating piecing.

I really can't remember who did what here.....I do know, however, that Susan Pickrell was responsible for the fairy and for the spiderweb in the tree....

I love the texture and depth that the additions to the base gave the tree. I think that the trunk may have had some paint added as well.

I'm sorry my picture didn't show it better, but there are whispers of silver thread through it very nicely stitched close together to suggest the wind.  I think Becky Goodwin was responsible for that, but it may have been Jo Heffner.
Here's the whole crew with their pieces....I'm not sure if the group really accomplished what they wanted to do with this project, but I can say they had a whole heck of a lot of fun doing it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Trees in the Batty Binder's Arboretum from the Chief Forester

 This is Susan Pickrell.  She is an amazing person.  I'm sure that your local quilt group has someone like Susan....but then on the other hand, maybe not.  Susan loves to learn new things.  If it has anything to do with fiber, she does it.  She knits, crochets, quilts, does wonders with her embroidery machine, and a couple of years ago I let her know about a really inexpensive felting machine, and gosh if she didn't get that too.  But that's not all.  Although Susan's kids are all grown, she still works, and is extremely active in her church and belongs to a dulcimer group and plays quite a bit.  On top of that...well, she just always manages to do really nice things for people AND finish projects...

Here's the tree blank that Susan passed around....She made a ton of them trying to figure out what she was going to do, and she used some of them to do mock ups to practice on before she used the technique on the exchange quilt. I thought this blank was interesting because of her choice of fabrics.  The stripes really gave some cool texture to the tree.
 Here's what she got back.  Gwen added the brown square at the's a tea bag.. Gwen works as waitstaff at a restaurant and gets us their commercial sized tea bags to play with.  Linette wrote "peace" over the top because when she thinks of peace, she thinks of Susan...not just because Susan is a Quaker, but because although she is very energetic, Susan exudes peace.  Linnette also added the red deer which is actually a hang tag made of thick cardboard from one of her husband's shirts.  Truth be told...I don't remember who added the other things.

Susan was really surprised when she got hers back.

But as in the Ginsu knife commercials, "Wait! There's More!!!!"

 This is a larger piece that Susan was playing with.  The leaves ont he tree were felted ones she made from when she was working them out.  She said that making them was a little addictive.  She also included a fairy as practice for the fairy she used on someone else's quilt (I think Linette's).

This tree is one which because of the background with the lightning bolts (a halloween fabric) and the close value of the tree, it looks more like a ghost tree.  She practiced some fancy silver thread stitching and put on a silver spiderweb cut from another halloween specialty fabric she got on clearance.
 This quilt use used gauze (cheese cloth) for the tree limbs.  The back ground is a Cheetah Girl's print (also from clearance which had some neat sayings on it).
This piece she practiced her shadow work, and included a deep shadow on the side of the tree.

Here you can see it over all.  She's not really done with these, they were just play pieces.  She did these as well as worked on everyone else's quilts, decorated their boxes, made little booklets and cards to put in as well as making cases for some of the cameras which were included in the boxes.  Oh, and decorated the journals and tucked in extra pieces, bits and bobs she found that she thought others could use in their work.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Art Quilt Forest: Ruth Treon's Tree

 I have been madly trying to get three quilts done to submit to the Studio Art Quilt Associations Ohio regional show...and quite frankly, have been too tuckered out to write! As I just got two of them pinned to the carpet and blocked, I'm going to take a little break and post this. :)

One of the things I think which was difficult for our little art Quilt group is to figure out how much or how little to make our blanks.  
Compare Ruth Treon's branches which flow off the space, with Gwen's (Here on Feb. 1)which were well.....truncated!

Ruth also packed her quilt bits in a shoe box to pass around.
 Remember, the originator didn't get to see these until the reveal.  Here you see Ruth's surprise as Loraine looks on.

As I mentioned, Susan Pickrell decided that the boxes needed embellishment....and she really had a heyday with Ruth's box.  The cover was covered with some trapunto quilting.  Inside, Susan made a yarn cover (I don't know if she knitted it or crocheted it) for her camera and stuck in some other interesting things in case someone wanted to use them on Ruth's work.
 Here's Ruth's finished piece.  Susan did the first thing which was to work with a word (the assignment from the Art Quilt Workbook which was applied on her turn).  Her word was "shadow."  Susan wrote "shadow" repeatedly on her sewing machine over net stabilized with water soluble stabilizer. This became the tree's shadow.

I think, but I'm not sure, that Linnette Vagedes added the pieced quilt...Becky Goodwin added the angelina frost which I think turned out great, Gwen Brown the painted area in the sky, and Jo Heffner made the rabbit and the rabbit footprints.
Here you can see more closely the really cool bird that Loraine Smith has a real feather tail, and it is really tiny.  The over all size of this piece is about 14" the bird is about 1/2" long.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Trees

Gwen Brown is another of our art quilt group.  Gwen made this rather simple tree.....and what people did with it was far from simple.
Ruth Treon added the sunset behind the tree by using water soluable pastels.  Linnette I think added the little tiny purple hexagons...Gwen's favorite color is purple and she has been working on Grandmother's flower gardens...The yoyos? I think Susan Pickrell added these....I think people were just having great fun adding lots and lots of stuff to her simple tree and giving it texture.

Loraine Smith is a very talented quilter in our group. Loraine is fond of bright colors and batiks.  Her "blank" was perfect for her...the tropical scene is Loraine through and through....
Here is Loraine looking at the outside of her box...Susan Pickrell (I think) found an advertisement for Goldfish crackers which showed the crackers arranged in a rainbow ..and colored similarly.

Loraine's finished piece turned out well....The little green dangly thingies on the palm tree Becky Goodwin added.  On a recent trip to Hawaii, Becky noticed incredible seed pods hanging from palm trees.  Becky recreated these with beaded bits.  Linette added the white and gold swirly thing over the round real life it is a dove with the words "Peace" written across it.  She made it out of "Shrinky Dink" which made us all laugh as we were all of an age to have played with the original rendition of "Shrinky Dink", a plastic which you colored then melted in the oven....I think Gwen made her the umbrella, and Jo Heffner added the metalic foiled sun (the round thingy on the right).  I can't remember who added the white....I think it was Linette, and it's real sand, held on with glue.  Ruth Treon creatively pieced the swirl in the water....and Susan Pickrell added the large jellyfish which drops off the edge.  Susan made it as a pin so it could be removed when it came time to quilt it.  I think Susan's favorite thing is to add texture.  The jellyfish is a great addition especially because it trails off the  edge.

This will really be fun to see quilted.  Loraine is an exceptionally prolific quilter, and her work is very very good.  I ribbed her pretty hard tonight at our meeting because she showed so many great pieces in show and tell and she's always finishing up something and sending it on as gifts for her grand children....