Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Burner Bag...Embellishment Finished

Sewing on this has been VERY STRANGE as it is so outside what I normally do. But then, graffiti is outsider art so it helped push me into a different zone entirely...
I also think of graffiti as folk art, so that was the look I ended up going for...

Design wise it was a challenge and that ended up being the fun part. How to make this work? I ended up using a lot of repetition to try and structure the chaos a little bit.

All my seams were graphic and used large stitches...and this pleated ribbon here, held down with a row of chain stitches, travels around the bag a bit.

I felt better about this guy once he was framed like this. His smile was starting to get to me!

This is how I hold the cording in place before I couch it down. I used a lot of this too.

I call her "Burner Girl. I think she is holding the business end of a spray nozzle from an air compressor that her cat is monitoring, spraying the wall in front of her. I had to paint around her in white acrylic so that she would show up better.

I am going to spend today finishing this into a totebag. It is so weird. I MUST hang some fringe around the opening....

When it is done I think I will mosey on back to my a dead run!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Burner Bag

From the Graffiti Glossary:

Originally a well-done wildstyle window-down whole car, a burner is a very good piece. Obviously, the reference to a window-down car is not applicable for pieces that are not on trains. A burner is any piece that has good bright colors, good style (often in wildstyle) and seems to "burn" off of the wall.
Well, my brother Ben collects "Burner" imagery, and I've always thought it was so darn cool. And isn't any imagery fair game for a crazy quilt?

I love flowers, and I will be going back to the flowers. But for a change of pace I thought I would try something different....

I love the colors in these, not to mention the sheer brilliance of the artistry. I thought they would make a unique focus for a totebag. I mean, why not?

So I decided on a basic shape....

And started constructing my tote front. I combined both piecing and applique, using a machine zig zag with a clear thread, as above. This is some kind of manic jester with the spray can, isn't he?

The suggestion of a fan shape here is my wave to my great grandmother's generation of crazy quilters. They would think I am totally nuts. Maybe you do, too!

I love having the option of being able to piece or applique, depending on what situation I find myself in. If I had drawn out a pattern before hand, it wouldn't be nearly as exciting...

Really, the sewing was a piece of cake.

This will be such fun to embellish, juxtaposing this wacko imagery with the stitching parameters we all know and love. I just thought CQ could use a little urban aesthetic...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Back for the H Quilt

Last night I dreamed that Barack Obama and John McCain were in my sewing room each clutching spatulas and trying to flip the motifs on one of my crazy quilts. They just couldn't figure out how to do it....

I think I have been watching too much political coverage.

But I've had two days of solid hand sewing "busy work", preparing my H quilt for its trip to Houston. You see, the old backing I had put on it just did not cut it. The silk had gone ripply due to my using the wrong kind of interfacing on it (or something). Plus, the label looked a little crooked. We just can't have that...not for Houston!

So I took off the old back, put on a new one of some VERY nice black wool (it was Donna Karan, many bucks per yard, purchased 6 years ago when I thought I was going to sew an overall jumper out of it. You know, to wear with a crisp white silk shirt? Summerset, if you are reading this, don't laugh. Me and is a sad story.)
Anyway, the wool looks great, very classy and I love the feel and weight of it.

Then of course I sewed the sleeve on to the side instead of the top and had to take that off and redo it.

Then I cut out my label from the old back and sewed it on--straight this time--to my new back. I squared it off and dressed it up a little, too.

Here is the new label. I got those punched brass corners at Lacis last winter.
There were three reasons I used that red lace as a border:
--I wouldn't have to turn under the edges of that brown silk damask. That would have been bulky and very hard to get straight. The lace covered the raw edges nicely.
--the little holes in the edges of the lace gave me a good stitching guide so that my stitches would be even
--Uncle Hal would appreciate the somewhat bordello aspect of the lace. He LOVED women.

I think that wool makes this more formal, as it should be. It is a memorial quilt, after all.

But H himself wasn't formal. This picture of him, taken the last time I went to visit him in Tucson, gives you an idea of his personality. He came up with this pose for me.

There he is enjoying his morning cigar and cup of coffee. His T shirt says "Freedom Is Not Free".

I guess H had politics figured out!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Crazy Quilts Win Awards!

Two winners!
The American Quilters Society had their Nashville Expo show last week-end. I clicked on over to their website to view the winning quilts...and was so happy to see that a beautiful crazy quilt had taken Second Place in the new "Needlework" category--that's for anything involving the needle arts, as I understand it, that is not quilted, and is the only category in all three of AQS's shows that CQs qualify for. (My friends know this is a pet peeve of mine.)

Click on the winner's list link and scroll down to the Needlework category, second from the bottom. There you will see the link to "My Own Victorian Image" by Ellen Purdy of Purdys, New York. Click on it and enjoy...
Way to go, Ellen!

The second winner is Betty Pillsbury of Green Spiral Herbs. She has won Honorable Mention in the latest Hoffman Challenge for her quilt "Birds of A Feather". Click here and Betty's quilt will cycle through the Mixed Technique category.
A most deserving win, Betty..... ;-)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pin Cushion Top

Working small is different for me and quite fun. And for some insane reason, occasionally I just want to work with those size 22 beads, which I call "bead dust". I have to wear magnifiers on top of my magnifiers to do this.

Those are teeny tiny beads.
But because my pin cushion top measures only 3 1/2 " in diameter, I needed teeny tiny.

My friend, Cindy Thury Smith, is writing an article about her radial pincushions for the upcoming issue of CQMagOnline, and some of us are making samples from her pattern for the article. So while I won't show the finished pin cushion, I can show the top I worked on yesterday.

I used scraps from my "Friends" piece. This time I wanted to use green with the blue, because I didn't get to last time. I love to experiment with very controlled palettes in CQ; I think they can give a lot of strength.
It sure is great to be doing shorter term projects again!

To see a fantastic series of small embellished crazy quilt circles, visit Marie Alton's "Porthole" series on her blog. They are truly fantastic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Friends"...Embellishment Finished

I made a bunch of these lettered sayings last year, thinking I would use them as bases for fresh floral photographs.
Like this....

And I did like how this came out.
But just like in the Spring CQ, all my fresh flower arranging is starting to translate into my crazy quilting, too.
Here is how "Friends: Opposites Attract" has finished up. (The "opposites attract" refers not just to wonderful friendships, but the fact that the dominant colors, orange and blue, are opposites on the color wheel.)

Getting this balanced compositionally without it being symmetrical was a fun challenge for me.

Detail shot here...I just love combining different elements like this.
I could do a ton of these...but there are other "fish to fry", as Susan Elliot wrote me this morning. Lots of fun projects in the works!

But first I have a garden to weed that's been neglected for two weeks now...
Not to mention the never ending supply of produce from Robert's garden to deal with!

We are eating well these days...........

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Friends"...Angelina Flowers

I am not ready to stop making 3 D flowers!

My angelina flowers are an improvement on the blue flax and dianthus that went on the Spring CQ. This time I used much heavier fusible web to bond the angelina to a piece of silk so the two layers won't separate. Here's my process....

This is my little pile of angelina fibers..actually, two different colors that have been blended together.

You layer your fibers between two sheets of waxed paper...or in this case (as I am out of waxed paper) some release paper from some fusible web.
Angelina loses its sparkle if you apply the heat for too long. The idea is to tap it with the iron just long enough for the fibers to melt together.

Like this!

Here are my layers of silk dupioni, fusible web, and my sheet of angelina.
The silk isn't necessary can cut out the angelina and it would act just like fabric (with no raveling of course). But I wanted my petals to be a wee bit more substantial.
When fusing my layers, I ironed with the silk side up to avoid putting direct heat on the angelina. I wanted that sparkle!

It was a simple matter to cut out my petals.

And then I cheated. Instead of pinning all my petals into place on my quilt (and making holes in the angelina that I didn't want), I first glued them into place with my trusty E6000 glue. This is probably a disaster in terms of archival issues, but oh well!

Sometimes expediency is virtue enough.

I was a good girl and did tack them down with some beading thread, though...

...and covered my center with a sequin and a bead.

Here is the wreath of flowers as of this morning....

It's getting there!

If you are interested in getting some angelina, I bought mine from Betty Blais of Embellishment Village. She and her husband are great folks to do business with.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I've returned to the Pacific Northwest and have a functioning laptop again too! God bless my clever husband who spent much of today fixing it....

I did quite a bit of stitching while at the cottage...but first I have to show you the magnificent gift my cousin Carol gave me.
There is so much I could write about how my dad's side of the family had real troubles when I was a child, culminating in me not being able to communicate with my cousins after my parents' divorce. To make a long story short, we cousins, as adults, have reconnected in spite of our crazy older generation! Getting to know Carol has truly been one of the great gifts of my life.

Our great grandmother had made a quilt--a crazy quilt--that her daughter, our grandmother, handed down to Carol many decades ago. I had asked Carol to bring it so I could photograph it again (I had seen it on a previous trip). This year she said, "I hope you have room in your suitcase, because I am sending it home with you."
I was just overcome....
There was something so symbolically healing about this for me, and maybe for her too...that quilt from my long lost heritage coming into my care at this time in my life shows that our family truly has knit back together...due in great part to my cousin's beautiful spirit.

It's so fitting that we two are kept warm together by this quilt. Surely our great grandmother was smiling down at us.
On my way back to the airport in Grand Rapids I stopped off at the cemetery and visited her grave.

All is well with the family, Margaret.....

So my little project for the week was very fitting...

This was my corner of the porch. I covered the area with bits of threads, as usual, while working on this....

I pieced it right before I left for Michigan. It measures 16" X 26".
I seem to still have 3 D flowers on the brain, after so long with the Spring CQ, so there is a circle of them underway forming a wreath around the lettering, as you can see.
When family and friends are one and the same, we are so lucky. It will be another year before we see each other, but Carol and I will be in close touch until then.

But Michillinda, I will miss you so!!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Computer Disaster!!!

Oh woe is me, I dropped my guard, opened an infected attachment that came with an email that TRICKED me, and now my laptop is kaput with the Trojan virus until I get home early next week. (I'm typing on Marne's computer...)
So I'll return to posting when my computer is out of the hospital.
Meanwhile, Happy Stitching Everybody....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Uncle Hal's Cottage Paintings

"H", my beloved late uncle, was a watercolorist. He and I shared a deep bond in the way Michillinda inspired us in our creative endeavors.
I thought I would share a couple of his paintings that are hanging here in the cottage.
He really nailed this place.

But first, this is the north end of the row. There is lots of ground between the cottages and the edge of the bank overlooking the lake, but it wasn't always so. All the cottages have had to be moved back twice during my lifetime, due to erosion of the bank.
H's paintings are from the era when the cottages were right at the edge of the bank, before they were moved back. I loved that period because the waves were practically beneath my window. We were right on top of the lake! Scary during the big storms--I still dream about that--but so cool.

This was on a calm day....

He did a very large painting of the woods in front of the cottages....the one below is a study for it.

There were many nights of stargazing on that lookout that you see there....a few teen-aged make-out sessions, too!
H would have loved reading that..... ;-)
He'd love knowing that the "H" quilt got accepted into the Houston show this fall too. Yippee!

I've brought some stitching and I will share that next time. Today it looks like some rain is coming in, so it is going to be an indoor afternoon.....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Greetings from Lake Michigan!

I want to thank you all for your comments on my Spring CQ. I am overwhelmed!!!!

Now I am at my beloved's an old row of cottages on Lake Michigan, where my family has come for over 90 years. One of the cottages has WiFi, and I am sitting in their yard with my laptop as I type this. ;-)

We've been walking on the beach....

and enjoying the evenings looking out at the lake....

..and of course, watching the sunsets.

And then unwillingly going to sleep. But it is in my grandparents' room, which I love....

There is something so special about connecting to the family history in this beautiful place....and finding inspiration for new quilts!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Spring CQ...Center Finished

It's been a marathon sewing session around here the last couple of days. My DH even ended up making dinner for us last night! (It was homemade borscht, with all ingredients from the garden. YUM.)
I just had to get this top done before leaving! And though it needs a little "housekeeping", it is for all intents and purposes finished.

I had the center laid out and sewn down Sunday, had nightmares Sunday night, woke up in a panic Monday, took everything off, and tried again...finding the key in some green, yellow, and orange trim that Pam Kellogg sent to me awhile back. (Thank you, Pam!!!) From then on it was sew, sew, sew.

The design process ended up being identical to the one I've used for all the floral mandalas I've made over the years...but in those I always used fresh flowers. This is the first time I used fiber ones!
I just let the design grow out from the center...

Here is an example of a floral mandala from several years ago.

And here is my center....

I had a bag of vintage millinery roses that I added to "Dove Roses" I had made. I think they combine quite well, enhancing each other. There are felted leaves, vintage millinery leaves, and those dianthus in their new incarnation.

Here is a detail shot.

And here is the overall quilt.....

That ring of green in the center formed by the leaves was what I needed and didn't have before.

This quilt will have a dark narrow border around it to contain the light values that run out to the edge in the blue sections...and I really have to fix the crooked bottom edge of the white center block....but I won't be getting to the actual finish work on this piece for awhile, so this is it for now...

I decided not to do a beach scene at Michillinda because, basically, I don't feel able to start a brand new piece "cold" while on the road. (I won't have my entire sewing room with me, you see.) So I will bring a UFO of some sort.....
But when I come home I'll be so full of the lake and sky that the beach scene will come then.

Thank you all for accompanying me on this saga of the Spring CQ! It would not have been nearly as much fun without you. XO

Monday, August 4, 2008

Spring CQ...Center Block Seams

Thank you so much for your nice comments about the Dove Roses!
They were fun, weren't they?
My dear friend Judy, the most creative needlepointer I ever knew, wrote to me to express her concern about the possibility of my burning myself when melting my petal edges...
I surely wouldn't want ANY of you to get burned trying this out, either. Judy suggested using tweezers to hold the petals.

Like this. I think she is right, and I'll use this method from now on. Thanks, Judy!

Meanwhile, I added some more "heft" to the edging of my center block.

The addition of the colors and little blue loopies extending into the quilt from the center here help to integrate the center with the rest of the piece.
They make me feel better, at least.

Then I covered the seams of all the patches in the center block, so now I am ready to attach my roses, their leaves, and whatever else catches my fancy at the last minute.
With the top anyway. (I just have to cover the green arc seams.) (And then put the backing, binding, sleeve, label on, etc. But that's just labor, nothing too creative there.) (Except maybe the label.)

My goal was to have it done by the end of July, so I am not doing too badly.

I'll be leaving for my beloved Lake Michigan on Friday morning, and I want this quilt top to be histoire by then.
While I'm there I want to do a beach scene like Lisa's on Ivory Blush Roses.

It will be hard to be away from home for 10 whole days...
Hope Robert keeps my flowers watered!
(I know he will.)
A few of the cottages at Michillinda have WiFi now, so I am bringing my laptop and will post some pictures of the lake once I get there.
But first I have some roses to sew on....