Sunday, July 26, 2009

Global Warming?

For all of the 30+ years that I have lived here, my "mystery lilies" always pop up right around August 4th or 5th. You can count on them.

But this year, in my yard, and all over the Louisville area, they made their appearance several days ago, around July 22 or so. 

Is it because we had an unusually hot June and a lot of rain, or is it Global Warming?

We'll see what happens next year.  I know they are not really lilies.  Although they have several different names,  I think they are actually members of the Amaryllis Family.

My  plants (and weeds!) are all doing very well this summer.  My tomatoes got put in late, but I should have some to eat in several days. That is, if I can get them before the squirrels do!

I haven't posted anything lately about what I am sewing. I am practicing my thread painting, and I
 am putting the finishing touches on an iris quilt that I have been working on for over a year. I am sewing hundreds of beads on it, and will have it finished up soon.

Today was such a glorious day , that we spent a lot of it outdoors. We had an early morning bicycle ride on some beautiful quiet roads in Anchorage, and then this afternoon, spent some time at one of our favorite riverside restaurants, watching the wood ducks and folks enjoying the sunshine in their boats.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who's Got the Button?

At the end of May, CBS Sunday Morning featured the Tender Buttons shops in New York and Chicago. They are both delightful little shops with amazing collections of all sorts of special buttons.  In my post that day, I mentioned another great button source, at the Waechter's Silk Shop in Asheville, NC.

I definitely had that on my itinerary when we went to the wedding down there this past weekend.

They have moved to larger and nicer quarters near Biltmore Avenue. Their buttons are more accessible, and their fabrics are much better displayed. They and the customers have more breathing room. There's even a reading corner for husbands, and they offer them a free beer or Coke!

Now that Baer's has disappeared from Louisville, we really don't have a good source of unusual buttons, or really good quality silks and rayons and other premium fabrics.

Waechter's has a gorgeous array of dupioni silks 
in every imaginable color, as well as all sorts of other silks and other natural fiber fabrics.

And here's the best news: They have a website from which you can order anything in the store.
They even have packets of dupioni fat quarters.

 Here is a piece of silk I got for a project for a charity auction, and a few buttons I splurged on.

So, here's their website address so you can  browse to your heart's content:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Public Art in Beautiful Places

Here are just a few more photos of the public art to be seen all over Asheville, NC. I love it when towns I am visiting have good public art.

These first two figures are just outside the entrance to the Civic Center where the Southern Highlands Craft Show is held.

These next two are in the gardens outside the Grovewood Gallery, on the grounds of the beautiful and impressive Grove Park Inn.

For a getaway, Asheville is a very good candidate - wonderful art and amazing scenery, There are high quality galleries, and opportunities for all sorts of outdoor adventures, year-round. I highly recommend it, and can't wait to go back!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Indoor and Outdoor art

I've been off for a few days, to Asheville, North Carolina.

What a wonderful community! Great public art and lots of excellent galleries. All nestled in some of the most exquisite scenery in this part of the country. We went to the Southern Highlands Craft show, one of the best, in my opinion.

I'll post some more photos soon. We spent some time at the Gallery of the Mountains in the Grove Park Inn. That hotel is a work of art, too, and a miracle of engineering when you see the photos of how it was built, hauling those huge rocks up the mountain.

Also on the grounds of the Grove Park Inn is the Grovewood Gallery, probably my favorite. They display some excellent quilts on the walls, especially in the area where they have fine handmade furniture.  

There is a lot of wonderful outdoor art on the grounds, too.

We also managed to get to the Bellagio Gallery, another one of my favorites.

In addition, we attended a wedding nearby in Waynesville. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding at The Yellow House, an elegant B & B on five acres of beautifully landscaped mountain property. A wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Your Own Voice

I had lunch today, and a good visit, with my dear friend Joan. I met her through sewing, and we have been good friends for almost 12 years. We are so totally different in so many ways, and maybe that's one reason our friendship has been so solid.

Our approaches to quilting are absolute  opposites, too. She has been at it a lot longer, and her work can be said to be traditional  and meticulous.  (No one would say either about my work.)

Before we left for lunch, her husband mentioned how much she had enjoyed one of our challenges that we issued to each other. This photo is Joan's piece in answer to my challenge that we each do something that is "not a rectangle and that has a feature that you have never used before." 

 Drawing on her own expertise in  learning styles, she describes herself as "field-dependent." This beautiful piece, she explains, is an example of that, because she sewed it using a "doodle" she had in her sketchbook. I was in awe of her piece, and of the beautiful craftsmanship and creativity. Look at those curves!!!

We both used fabrics that I chose for the challenge, and my piece ended up a self-portrait, and was in the shape of a trapezoid,  and I tried some prairie points, and used hundreds of beads.

During our conversation, I talked about artists who imitate their teachers until they "find their own voice."

To that Joan said, "I don't want my own voice.  I just want to make quilts. I find comfort in the repetitive rhythm of piecing."

I think that is a wonderful insight, and for many, it is that
repetition that is comfortable and comforting about piecing and quilting. 

It is why I enjoy beading so much. I find it meditative and immensely relaxing. It is beading I turn to when I need a break, or need some time to reflect.

I feel sure that is why  people enjoy knitting, crocheting, hand-quilting and other repetitive tasks.

I think that also points to why quilting has become so popular - there is something for everyone. There are patterns for people who enjoy the structure, and there are fusibles, fabric paints, and all sorts of other things for people who want to take risks and who have a more creative bent. And there is everything in between.

I have thought a lot about her comment. While I believed that "Finding one's voice" was something to strive for, I can see now that not everyone wants to or needs to.  Some people have their own voice ALL ALONG!

So in addition to having a wonderful visit and a good lunch, I learned something, too!


Monday, July 13, 2009

How Does my Garden Grow?

Early this morning, while it was relatively cool, and the humidity was low, I snapped some photos of the plants we put in this summer.

 ( "We" means Bob - he has been wonderful about planting plants that friends have given us, and tending to the weeding etc. The one thing that I love to do is the watering,  but sometimes I postpone that until the plants get a little droopy.) 

The first two plants are my spearmint, which thrives no matter what, and the purple basil, which I just got two weeks ago. 

This next plant, the white one, is shooting star hydrangea, which Bob's ex gave me for Christmas. It survived the ice storm back in January, when my house temperature was about 35 degrees (Fahrenheit) for about a week, so it is sort of a miracle plant. It doesn't resemble the traditional hydrangea at all, but I really like it.

This vine is a gift from my buddy Emma; it is a Cardinal creeper, and it is really thriving with all the rain and heat we have been having. Eventually it will have little red blossoms.   
These are on my side porch, and there is also some out front, climbing a pole. Hope it brings some hummingbirds!

Here's a little Norfolk pine which Rachael gave me Christmas before last. It's another miracle plant, considering what it's been through with the hurricane and the ice storm... 

My tomato plants are doing very well, considering they 
were put in late. 

This succulent is an ice plant. I was surprised to see it in this part of the country, since I had only known it along the highways in California. 

And last, a little cypress tree, one of two we planted. They were given to us at a neighborhood park, and so far, seem to be thriving.

Along with my plants doing so well, the weeds are having a record year, along with the mosquitos and chiggers. They are worse this year than they have been in a long time. I guess it's the excessive rain we've had, followed by excessive heat so early. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another fish story

After experimenting a little with rubber stamping with fabric paint onto fabric, I decided to do a little thread painting on one of the fish.

The fish looked like a pompano, so I used the colors you sometimes see on pompano. I especially like the silver. I put the silver in the bobbin, and embroidered that part from the back.

I used a variegated thread around the eye, and I like that effect, too.

The embroidery is about 90% finished. Need to get some gray thread for the pectoral fin, and fill in a few more details. I need to do more to fill in the face around the eye, and a little detail on the bottom fin.

I know it looks a little puckered around the fish, but that part will also be cut away when I put it onto a background.

Now for the background...


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Something fishy here...GYOTAKU

Since I taught trigonometry for years, I guess I am permitted now and then to "go off on a tangent."

Ever since I saw the Japanese method of making prints with fish, called  gyotaku,  which means "fish impression", I have been interested in learning more about it.

Originally, it was done so that fishermen (and women?) had proof of the size of a fish they had just caught. Or so they say.

There is a woman in Sarasota who teaches classes in gyotaku, and also in making prints with seaweed and other marine creatures and plants. I have been in touch with her, and perhaps some day, I might take a class from her. She says that the printing works well on fabric, as well as paper. She said it works really well on silk.

So in the meantime, I borrowed two rubber fish stamps from my friend Emma, and I bought some fabric paint and started playing. These are wonderful stamps,  from Fred Mullett (yes, that's really his name!)

I have almost no experience with paint on fabric, so I did some research about the best type of fabric and the best kind of fabric paint.

I used white pdf fabric. Some I left as is, and some I bonded to a pellon stabilizer. And I just tried various methods of applying the paint to the stamp. Some of my impressions have little blobs, but I think in time and with practice, I could get it right. The higher the thread count, the better the impression. One source suggested using batik, so I'll try that, too.

This last picture is of an impression I got when I was using the stamp a second time without refreshing the ink, and of course, it is not as clear. But I don't like to waste anything, so I am using it to practice some thread painting.

 I put another layer of stabilizer on the back, and I am just going to free-motion embroider it and see how it turns out.

And that raises a question for me. I have seen a method in which people thread-paint on the kind of stabilizer that dissolves in water when you get your image finished. So what would happen if you stamped an image on it and then tried to thread paint it? Would the paint cause it to dissolve? 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


If you saw my post yesterday, you saw the photo of the juvenile sandhill crane, taken by my friend Mary Jane, in FLorida. This is a photocopy, with the outlines I used to make the pattern.

I took it to Kinko's, and enlarged it to about 14" x 21", and used it to trace my image onto fusible. Although Bob gave me a light box, I like using my back door when I trace bigger projects.

Using the mirror image, I traced it onto the sticky side of a one-sided fusible. I used a fusible by Pellon, which has cotton on one side. 

Next, I constructed the background, and used it for more practice on my free-motion machine quilting.

Then I placed the fusible on the background. Sometimes I use double sided fusible for my birds, but this also worked fine.

I applied the legs, feet,  and his flip-flops.

Then, the cap and facial features, with a perfect bead for his eye.

Here, the fun begins, applying the feathers one by one.


More feathers, hundreds of them. I used all sorts of fabrics, including silk, copper mesh, brass mesh, many different textures. 

When I decided to add the fishing pole, I had to add a wing to cover it. The scarf went on last. 

I did some additional thread painting on the background. I may do a few more finishing touches, then he's off!  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Progress Report

I haven't posted much lately, but I have been working!

Although this project isn't finished, I want to give a progress report. This juvenile sandhill crane is based on a photograph taken by my friend Mary Jane in Florida.

I love it when the sandhills fly over Louisville on their migration path, and the best part is listening to their distinctive calls. But some are resident in Florida, and raise their young, and stay put.

I just find the confident stride of this little fellow very appealing. 

I have wanted to do a quilt of the sandhills for a long time, and I even bought a pattern, but when I saw this photo, I knew I had to make my own pattern.

I will post some  photos of my process in a few days, but I just wanted to show where I am now.

Bob contributed some of the cute ideas for accessories, like the flip-flops and the ball cap. Some people have a muse, but he's my "amuse."

I hope this is the beginning of a series, like my flamingos that I did several years ago.

I love doing the feathers, and I think I need to do at least one more in the series , a female juvenile sandhill.

So this is what I have been amused by for the last month! It's not finished, but it just needs binding, and it will be ready to take to my Monday night quilt group, and then it will be heading to Florida as a gift.