rocket tracking


Monday, January 31, 2011

Real Log Cabins part 1

So, you've seen one ratty old quilt type log cabin. Here's the real deal. This is the Iddings Log Cabin, supposedly the oldest log cabin in Miami County, Ohio on its original location.

I'm not sure who did a survey, but we'll get into that in another blog post. Some of the siding has been replaced and other repairs have been made, but this is the original configuration on the original foundations. In 1804, Benjamin Iddings brought his wife and six of his ten children to this location in Newtown Township and built this house to hold them all. It's not large, maybe about 20' x 12. As is usual, there is one room downstairs and a second upstairs, although I'm not sure if the second floor is divided. Usually they were, both for sleeping space for children and servants (if they had any, or hired hands) as well as for storage of grain, wool, foodstuffs and so on. This is the front of the house.

This is the back porch. Notice how the columns are simply logs which were put into place. Windows were expensive and quite often they started out as oiled pieces of leather or untanned hides and were replaced with glass when the family could afford them. Even so, you didn't want to have a lot of window as windows let in cold as well as light.

Here, you can see the east side of the house. The cabin stands on the Bruckner Nature Center property just off Horseshoe Bend Road in Troy, almost to Pleasant Hill...or maybe it is still West Milton at that point.

The Cabin is open during the summer for interpretation and for various activities.

Keep in mind the layout of this house and the porches. Quite often, these lean-to porches were turned into additional rooms, often a kitchen off the back as the family got more money and time to make their home larger.

The back door is about 5' high. I have to incline my head slightly as I go in and I'm 5'4". The average height of a man in the American Revolutionary war was 5' 8", so even they would have had to duck a little. Again, less opportunity for heat to get out, and unwanted things/people to get in.

We often think of log houses or log cabins as not being squared off, but most of the ones in the east and midwest were squared with a broad ax and cut to interlink. Notice the chinking--the mortar between the logs. Originally, this would have been made with a clay/grass and sometimes animal hair mixture and it would have to be replaced as time went on. At some point, this concrete mixture was put in...I think probably recently, perhaps in 1976 or in 2006 when the cabin was restored/repaired.

I would be a little concerned about this as concrete often holds moisture which would cause the logs to rot, but hopefully someone used a mixture which doesn't allow it to be wet.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Log Cabin Quilt

A couple of years ago, I won the contents of a drawer in an auction. I saw some trim in the pile as the drawer of the dresser was unceremoniously dumped out on the ground. This tattered old quilt fell with the mixed lot of junk.

Since the SAQA trunk show was supposed to show a connection between quilt and art as well as the roots in the folk art of quilting, I had thought I was going to take one of the ratty blocks apart and use it in my piece. Maybe paint it or something.

The quilt dates from about 1860 - 1880, but is probably in the earlier range. The set is called "light and dark." It uses the traditional red "fireplaces" or "chimney." The logs are in various shades of shirting and dress prints, double pinks, chrome greens, the average every day scraps of clothing. The light part is muslin or small print shirtings.

Stained and holey, there really isn't much save to it.

The border of the quilt was a sawtooth edge with what I think was a black check. The black, being more acidic, just disappeared leaving a gauze like pattern where the threads are gone.

I think Lemmie is happy that I haven't cut it up yet. He's claimed it for his very own.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Damage to One of My Quilts in a Gallery

Some of you may remember this piece that I did for Dijanne Cevaal's "K.I.S.S." challenge. I used a white sateen on black Kona, outline stitched in metallic thread, then bobbin stitched and hand stitched using perle cotton.

Earlier this month, I submitted it and three other of my quilts to a gallery which usually does fine arts about 4 miles from my house.
I didn't think anything about the fact that I hadn't put any of my quilts in a bag, after all, it was just down the street and I turned them in in the afternoon of the last day. The gallery owner said that I was the last to bring them in.

Yesterday, I stopped in on the way back home....and discovered that all of the white areas had turquoise color transfer. One of the more traditional (and larger quilts) in the show was made with multicolor batiks and the back of it was ....turquoise batik. It was the only quilt in the show that I could see that had this color in it, so I am assuming that they laid that quilt on my smaller quilt (it's 20" x 20") and that the color had to have transferred by just least I'm hoping there wasn't any moisture involved.

Hree's what it looked like originally (although it was taken with my other camera and the lighting isn't the same). You can see, this is pretty noticeable. I'm left wondering what to do with it. I don't dare wash it because I'm afraid that the perle cottons would bleed.

From now on, all quilts I submit ANYWHERE will have their own bags with labels sewn in and also with tyvek labels backed with a piece of the major fabric in the quilt and on the drawstring.

I'm thinking that perhaps I can use some shiva paintstiks on white in either wite or silver, or a combination.....Any other ideas? What do you think?

Friday, January 28, 2011

SAQA'S This is a Quilt entry finished and sent

This is a photo of a Great Spangled Fritillary I took in June of 2010. I loved the rich colors of this butterfly, even though it is a common one in the Northeast and Midwest. I've been meaning to do something with it since I took the photo.

I have to say that I have a little Devil or Angel who periodically sits on my shoulder and gives me a shove. Her name is Vivien Zepf. Vivien has strongly urged me to do items to enter into SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) exhibitions. Hmm.

Currently, SAQA is collecting little quilts that they will mat and put into a trunk show. The title is "This is a Quilt" and the goal is to explain art quilts and yet connect them with the folk art tradition. Why do we choose to do this type of art? A question I often ask myself as art quilts are not often accepted as "fine art" but are often classified as "craft" (with a negative connotation).

I struggle with this because I love to paint and indeed many of my art quilts have painting in them if they aren't done completely in paint. If I painted the image, I would be finished much more quickly than if I quilted the same image. I wouldn't have to quilt and bind and hand sew in a hanging sleeve. I would just have to wait until it dries, maybe slap a coat of varnish on it, and frame it. Much easier than quilting and certainly a ton less time consuming. Paintings regularly get into shows easier and also command higher prices. Phyllis Cullen has written a blog post on this topic (Is it Art ) . Hopefully the pieces put together with their artist statements will help explain quilts as art. In fact, the matting will make the point even stronger.

First, I selected a piece of rust dyed fabric as it seemed very similar to the background of the quilt. Then I drew the butterfly freehand with Derwent Inktense pencils. I think I need to learn how to get the pencil darker as it just doesn't get the richness that I know these pencils are capable of.

Here's what I ended up with. It is more of a collage as when I drew it, all I could think of is the 19th century specimen collections. I used specialty papers that I layered and wrote the Latin name for the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele cybele) and burned the edges of the mulberry paper. This is partly because most people who think "quilts" wouldn't dream of having paper on their quilts, yet paper IS a fiber. the green ribbon is a wired organdy ribbon which came wrapped around a pile of fat quarters. I'm sorry I can't show you a close up as the only ones I took ended up being a bit blurry (it WAS early morning and I am decidedly NOT a morning person.) The other writing is in Pigma pen and is "Great Spangled Fritillary." The long whitish piece on the left is on a scrap of cotton grabbed from the waste basket at our quilting group and reads "Lepidoptera" the name of the order of Butterflies and moths.

I outline quilted the butterfly in a metallic/rust/dark brown thread and closely quilted the background to make it lay pretty flat. Why? Well, the reason I think I like quilting images is texture. Lots of texture. You can get texture in oilpaintings by impasto and a palette knife...but that's about it. With quilting the whole world is opened up with texture: the choice of fabrics, what you do with the fabrics (fraying, manipulating, etc.), the quilting itself, and then the myriad of embellishments such as beads, buttons, sticks, metal. You name it and you can do it. Art Quilting, unlike traditional quilting opens the world of materials. Things you wouldn't dream of incorporating into a traditional quilt all of a sudden becomes fodder for an art quilt.

I debated doing this piece for a while after I saw Terry Hartzell's Luna moth at the November SAQA show. I intended to do something with my photo, but Terry has done a couple of pieces with rust dyed fabric and a Luna moth as well as a Buckeye Butterfly. Was I using her idea? Did it influence me too much? I decided that that concept was ridiculous as many people do similar topics and even use similar materials, but each individuals vision creates a different piece. Take a look at Terry's work here and you can see how different they are....and hers are down right gorgeous!

It feels good to get something done and out on the road.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Pea Escapee

Sweet peas which escaped from an early 19th century farmstead. Thoughts of warmer times.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's Stopping You?

Have you ever had a time when no matter what you THINK you want to do, you're stymied? Blocked? Thwarted? I'm kind of there. The sad thing is what is stopping me is that my studio (sewing room, whatever you want to call it) is an utter disaster area and it is so bad (and I'm not exaggerating) I can't stand to be in there...

The floor is covered. I can't get to the thread cabinet for all the stuff which has fallen off the back of my sewing cabinet. The table set up as an ironing surface is, no kidding, piled three feet high.

So...I'm spending valuable quilting time picking up and sorting and throwing out....all because I did not live by the addage "If it is in your hand, put it in it's rightful place." Dumb.

Sometimes we let these curves get us because we are afraid to succeed...or that we don't think we really can so we throw up roadblocks and create self-fulfilling prophecies. Sometimes it is one of a myriad of other fears, demons or whatever.

I keep on thinking about something that another art quilter said to me about Natalya Aikens ( this quilter gossip???? Hmm). She said that Natalya is really busy and has very little time to create, but she goes into her studio and spends maybe a half an hour or so at a time and manages to carve out time and create lots in that small amount. Like many of us, Natalya wears many hats and is pulled in a variety of ways...but she does it.

Which makes me think. Her studio is probably set up so that when she leaves, she has things neat and tidy and all things set up preparatory for her return...the next step's tools and needs laid out. Perhaps she even writes herself a note as to what comes a quilting journal. By doing this, she records her progress and creates a history of the project she's working on.

But I'm guessing. I think what I have described is what I'm going to try to soon as I dig out the mess. Do take a look at the hotlink I put on Natalya's name. I don't know her at all, but her work is fantastic. So...think of it this way, we have some curves in the road, but eventually, it opens up to a straight least it does on this road.

(Horseshoe Bend Rd., Pleasant Hill, OH...yes, it IS a horse-shoe bend on the Stillwater River and it, like so many rivers in Ohio, is on a deeply cut area, so the road switches back in order to cross it).

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I purchased Judi Warren Blaydon's collage+cloth+quilt: create innovative quilts form photo inspirations (C&T Publishing, 2010. 95 pages. $27.95. ISBN: 978-1-57120-8507) the other day. At first, I was supremely underwhelmed. I felt that the book could have been largely handled as an article in a magazine.

Blaydon explores the use of photomontage in quiltmaking. In other words, slicing and dicing photos and fabrics to make quilts. I took another look at the volume however, and decided that it couldn't really be handled in a magazine article. I was still disappointed though that it didn't cover other methods of using photographs in quilts, even as collages.

Blaydon covers how to choose photographs and how she uses elements from several photographs to combine making a new image. She doesn't hit hard on the elements of design, but then she's not writing a design book but teaching people how to use photomontage in the world of quilts. She gives some handy tips on how to lay them out, seaming, using a window to isolate elements and other tricks.

She has copious examples of work from her students. Some of them are quite successful. Others are a bit ho-hum, but that's OK. If you're interested in this type of work, it is worth a look. Amazon has the click-on opportunity to look at several pages plus the table of contents. It is presently available new from about $20; and used from $14.98. Take a look
here and explore.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Forest of Trees: Susan Pickerell's Round Robin

This is Susan Pickrell and her tree which she is sending on for her round robin. It's a great tree and Susan believes in practice....lots of practice.

She tried several different things before finally settling on this one....and I have to admit, some of the pictures aren't terribly flattering of Susan as she was flipping through them all so quickly, it was hard to get....and I didn't notice Gwen's straw sticking up into the photos.

This one is her "Jungle tree" . She slipped in a lion and a monkey from some novelty prints into it....and there's a Cheetah Girl from the print she chose as a background.

She used some t-shirt transfers cut out and arranged so that the words made the "leaves" of the tree in this one....which will be really cool with more embellishment. Like me, Susan haunts the clearance section of various craft stores and comes up with some really interesting ways of using them.

This next one is her strip tree....notice how she's been consistent with her light source and made sure that the shadow only fell on one side of the tree...something I really have to be mindful of. It's easy to accidentally place light coming from several different angles....

This next one she used some cheese cloth....and then painted it. She felt that the paint wasn't too successful. The writing in the fabric is from a "Cheetah Girl" fabric which was in clearance...I liked the fabric, and I liked the sentiment...but I wasn't thrilled with the signature of "The Cheetah Girls." Somehow when Susan's using it, you don't even notice.

This next one is one which Susan calls her "fiber tree." Susan needle felted a variety of specialty yarns into the background. She bought a Singer Embellisher and has been very happy with it.

This ones kind of fun because she used some fabrics from her stash. I can't wait to see what she ends up doing with it.especially since the blue of the tree is so similar to the lightning print she used for the sky.

This next one is what she calls her "Asian Pine." She was doing some machine embroidery and designed this one.

This last one is another one which I think is kind of fun. The fencing is made from an embroidered ribbon.

Susan is relatively new to art quilting...I think this exploration the Batty Binders has been doing has really pushed her to try some of the things she had in her head already. She does a lot of the practice pieces from Quilting Arts and is very faithful in working at this. She's also got a great imagination. I can't wait to see what she's going to do next!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Batty Binder's Art Quilt Round Robin

My local guild, the Batty Binders, has an art quilt group which we sort of call "Twisted Stitchers." Most of the Batty Binders are pretty much traditional quilters. Several of us, however meet and explored Jane D'Avila and Elin Waterston's Art Quilt Workbook.

While we finished the book, they decided to return to some of the concepts and that they would do a round robin. A Round Robin in quilting is where someone does a central motif or block and then the piece is passed on to the next person who adds something else. In this case, the concepts are provided by the Workbook and all the quilters are following the theme of trees. At left is Ruth Treon's tree.

The trees look great. I'm saving one of our members, Susan Pickrell, just to show you all the samples she did. I am not participating because I am having a hard time finishing up things with the fatigue I'm well as having a hard time going to night meetings.

Loraine Smith loves tropical things and these colors as well as the use of batiks are her "thing."

Linnette Vagedes was pretending to be a Lisa Clone....but here's her piece.

Jo Heffner did an interesting "pieced" background, shading the background by using fused squares. I love her tree shape.

Gwen Brown is actually doing two, one which she will keep and do exactly what she does on each of the other round robins so she can keep a record of what she did. Her exchange piece is set on an angle..but the shot was so bad of Gwen that I know I'd take some heat for it if I I'm kind and didn't.

Becky Goodwin is also doing two. Here she is showing her tree which has a loose trunk so that if someone wants to put something behind the tree, they may do so. The tree is cut out, and the branches were added by doing free-motion embroidery on the piece.

The second one is her practice piece and is a free motioned pine tree. She used two 40 weight rayon threads through one needle. She had some trouble with the tension until she added a heavier cotton in the bobbin.

I'll keep you posted on the progress as we meet months.

Monday, January 17, 2011

View from my Kitchen Window

The other day, I shared with you the sketch of what I saw out my kitchen window....While very rough and unfinished, I thought you might like to see what I was quickly trying to capture.

You see three different types of grasses, all from the same family...although I must admit, I'm unsure of the difference. They are Panicums or "Switch grasses." Native to North America, many hybridizers have turned their attention to these attractive grasses.
The one which is reddish in color to the left is "Northwind", the one to the right, "Dallas Blues" and the one which is triangulated in the middle, but further to the back which you can't see too well because it is grayer is "Heavy Metal."

In the very back, beyond the fence but very tall and standing feathery and golden against the dark green of my neighbor's spruce trees is Giant Feather Reed grass, although I must admit, I'm a little confused at present. It has flower heads like a Calamagrostis, so I think it must be Ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae, also known as hardy pampas grass), but it isn't invasive.. at least I've had it here for 5 years without it spreading by seed, only getting bigger at the base. It is not Arundo donax, which is definitely invasive. I will say, it has very sharp leaves and I imagine when I go to divide it, it will need to be done with an ax.

This is a slightly different angle, on a morning which the whole world was covered with a heavy, sparkly frost. I couldn't quite capture it, but the sort of golden dust and fogginess is that very essence I was trying to capture.

Now, from a different angle, you can see the same grasses in the summer. This photo was taken in August.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge and Sketchbook Project

What a busy day. I started my taxes (I have to have them done early so I can file my daughter's FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid) for scholarships....which means a lot of number crunching before I take it to an accountant...providing we DO take it to an accountant (although it was my husband's idea he seems to be dragging his feet when it comes to calling the guy), I figured and paid the OH sales tax for the books sold in Ohio on Amazon, went to the Thursday group, finished sewing on the larger beads on the larger quilt I was working on...and did some other stuff.

I needed to upload the most recent sketchbook entries before I got too stacked up. Again, the theme is "Highly Prized." I chose my sketchbook out of the stash that I had sitting around. I'm trying to use up things that I have rather than going out and buying new. I used water soluble oil pastels (if this doesn't sound like an oxymoron!) and then washed over it with a brush. The pages of this sketchbook are so thin that they make the pages wavy. What is it? Well, when we go to Florida to visit my husband's family, I love sitting on his mother's deck drinking coffee, eating pastelitos de guayaba and watching the water. Her condo is RIGHT on the beach at Siesta Key.

This is a quick work of the view out my kitchen window. I love the grasses and sedum heads, along with other plants in my garden in the winter. This is done in Derwent inktense pencils and I'll probably come back and do some more with it.

This little dealie is my bookshelf in the breakfast nook. I love books....and this shelf holds a portion of my cookbooks....I mean to shade in the white areas with gray.

This last sketch...I sort of got carried away....and it has the marks of using up what I have. I wanted to do a sketch just of my eyes...but it turned out being my whole face...well, sort of my whole face..I don't think it really looks like me.

One of the things I have been struggling with is giving people who are in middle aged and older the appearance of being so. For some reason, the cheeks I draw end up being rounded and smooth, wrinkles are hard to put in...
Of course the other problem eraser. I couldn't find my art gum eraser and I used the one I had in the bag with my drawing pencils....only that eraser had been sitting in that bag ever since I was in high school....even pink pearls don't stay nice and happy for 30 years. I erased the mouth....and now it looks like I had a cup of hot chocolate.

This whole process has been giving me pause...all right, this whole process PLUS the Sketchbook Project. I foolishing joined the Sketchbook Project last year...I got the moleskin sketchbook, paid my fees....and promptly misplaced the I've been trying to fill in in . I have to send it back on Saturday. It is JUST awful. Horrible. I feel like my head had been full of grandiose ideas which are not coming to fruition. Of course, I meant it to be the thoughts and images I had while going through this cancer journey I am presently on....most of the pieces are just pencil sketches...and I'm not happy. There are blank pages I will try to fill tomorrow. And...I looked at Cynthia St. Charles' blog and the last two blogs are filled with her gorgeous images. I feel like just chucking the whole thing in the wastebasket and not returning it. Do go and look at hers.

Of course, this always brings back the other question...can I improve, or am I just kidding myself. Should I just get rid of all my fabrics, tools and art supplies? It certainly is daunting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Clean and Sparkly Montana

When I was in Montana this summer and I was posting, Sunita, who lives in Mumbai, India commented that Montana seems so pure and clean.

Well, I have to admit, the air is pure and for the most part, the water is clean as well. The vast space with sparse population kind of allows for that....but up until the mid to late 1970s or so, and maybe in some respects now, man has left his mark in piles of trash.

There's a reason for this. Since there are so few people and since the attitude of getting rid of your trash has changed from "let's fill in the land that has no use" --gullies and other areas which couldn't be tilled, the method of getting rid of trash, old farm implements and worn out vehicles was to just drive them to the edge and heave them in.

Presently, that has been changing somewhat as people now take their trash into the landfills or transfer stations and when the cost of scrap metals rises, then people start raiding their dumps and bring in literally tons of scrap iron.

Indeed, my sister-in-law has made short work of some of the piles of discards on the land immediately around her house.

What is left, often leaves good fodder for photos. :0

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Laura Cater-Woods Wonderful Composition

I've been working on my daily sketchbook entries. Some people have set up a different blog just to post their entries every day. I think I 'll just post mine here, but group them together.

Today, however, I just have to talk about this wonderful piece. The small image at left is Laura Cater-Wood's entry for January 4th. I think this little piece, only done in 15 minutes is a prime example of the design sense which makes Laura an internationally known artist.

One of the primary things which hits me about this piece is the use of negative space. Even when you see it as a tiny thumbnail or from across the room, it is pleasing. There is balance. The shapes fill the space well, but move the eye around. The lines have motion and while the go off the page, you are also brought around the page.

The limited use of color adds interest, but is deft in its restricted palette. There's a good range of shades here, but the colors are limited only to black, white (and the various shades), blue and a green-blue. It is subtle, yet rich.

The texture is absolutely wonderful, from the cross hatching and the dots to the swirls. I also love the text she put at the bottom. It reads: "In the morning I have birds,
clearly divine messengers that I don't understand yet day by day feel the grace of their intentions"

from "at age 69", a poem by Jim Harrison, published in
In Search of Small Gods

Laura's line explorations are fully evident here....and you really must check out her website as her fully developed pieces are truly wonderful. She derives much of her inspiration from the natural world, doing wonderfully abstracted pieces full of texture and interest.

I was grateful for Laura to post this, as she emphasized that she only spent 15 minutes on it. Yes I know, it is the second time I've mentioned this. I was happy that she did this because I was finding myself wanting to spend too much time on this. I was getting stymied by wanted to create a masterpiece....and when Melanie Testa wrote this: "And here is my secret: I strive for every page to be perfect. Every-single-page, page-after-page (there are some crappy pages here and there). I will not apologize for this." on her entry for January 5th, my heart stopped. Perfection? Each and every time?

But, like so often, your brain gets stopped at what you first read. Melanie went on to say this: "BUT. I will tell you that this has taken me years and years of practice. This is not inborn talent. This is trial and error and a lot of swearing and acceptance and page turning. And you too can put the time in to creating beautiful pages. Remind yourself that your shoes are unique, talented and directed on a path that is as unique and individualized as you are." She went on to describe how she arrived at her path.

I know my path isn't going to be like Melanie's. It can't. After all it is MY path. So, I was happy to go back to Laura's work, which I greatly admire, and remind myself, 15 minutes, but do it every day. Practice makes perfect and fear of not making perfection leads to no practice....which leads to no work...and how can you ever improve if you do this?

So for me, life isn't perfect, but I will muddle on an try to achieve great heights. If I don't reach it, that's OK, I'll certainly be no less advanced than I am at present.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bicycling: A Year Round Sport!

Last week, my husband and I took a "local" sight-seeing trip up to New Bremen, Ohio to visit the Bicycling Museum there. Housed in a 19th century commercial building, the Bicycle Museum of America is largely composed of the Schwinn Bicycle company collection which was purchased by the owner of the Crown Equipment Corporation and opened to the public to create some tourism for this little town. New Bremen is charming, and the Bicycle Museum is located next to a reconstructed (and functioning) Lock on the Erie/Ohio Canal.

The museum is stuffed full of bicycles. Since today was such a slithery afternoon, I thought I'd share this one with you. It's a late 19th century/early 20th century effort to turn cycling into a year round sport in the northern climes. Although the manufacturer is unknown, it was probably made in New York. The bicycle (ice-cycle?) uses a standard frame, but the front fork is replaced with a ski, and the back wheel is fitted out with a spiked wheel to ride on the snow.

Here's the rear wheel. I wouldn't want to accidentally get run over by this spiky thing.

There were other renditions of a bicycle built for snow, but none of them went into major production and they are very rare.

I always enjoyed riding my mountain bike in the winter on Mt. Higby Reservoir trails in Connecticut prior to children. One trip, I was following Ian Thompson on ice and we were going along just fine until ultra-cautious Carlos yelled to me that it probably wasn't too good of an idea to ride on the sheer ice....of course that was when I started sliding sideways down the trail. Never trust a cautious Cuban! They'll MAKE wierd things happen! It didn't dampen my enthusiasm for it though.

I think though, that perhaps a tricycle arrangement might have been more successful than this one.

After you drool over all the bicycles, you could go just down the street and eat at La Piazza, New Bremen...a sister restaurant to La Piazza in Troy....WONDERFUL Italian food. see? Ohio isn't really a fly-over state...