Monday, July 25, 2016

Oh, What the Heck!

Our 15 x 15 Group has its next "reveal" at the end of this month.  The theme? "Architecture -- with a Stencil".

As you know, Gentle Readers, I've had little or no time to devote to the topic since it was announced at the end of May.  Just a wee distraction... which came to a close a couple of days ago, and from which I'm still winding down.

(Digression: Is it me, or my age (early sixties)?  I seem to find it harder and harder to disentangle emotionally from either 'highs' or 'lows' -- especially involving family and close friends, recalling sweet memories and making new ones.  I need to snap out of this so I can get some work done!)

This afternoon I thought I'd tackle the vision I had for this project, and see if I could actually finish it in a condensed period of time.   I've had something rolling around in my mind for some months now, and this theme seemed an ideal way to capture it.

My inspiration is this Taize worship piece that I've performed countless times with the trio in which I sing at church:.

The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come now, and open in us the gates of Your Kingdom.* 
*Ateliers et Presses de Taize, France 

I had this picture in my mind of gates opening onto a celestial Kingdom...and when I remembered these photos I'd taken on my visit to Stratford, Ontario in May, I had the model for my gates -- from which I thought I could make a stencil.

Ha!  It wasn't as easy as all that.

Sure, I traced the shapes I wanted, got 'em on to printer paper, enlarged 'em...and then tried to actually create a stencil.

You'd think I'd never done it before!  But I have --  or so I kept reminding myself as I wasted piece after piece of the laminate off-cuts my daughter gives me (recycling from her workplace).

I have a wee problem with perception, you see...some of which is attributed to my wonky eyesight.  I tend to transpose images...and I have trouble differentiating depth (as in trying to parallel park a car) and positive/negative space.

I knew what I wanted to be the "empty" space on the stencil -- the space in which I wanted to either paint or apply resist while I painted the background...or both -- but I couldn't for the life of me cut it out without destroying the materials and ending up with gaps.

I went online for help and I confess, it was hard to find.  There were plenty of videos and articles on how to make stencils and what tools to use to make it easy...but precious little on exactly what to cut and what to leave intact.  I finally found this one from artist Amy Pearce...and the light went on.  As a result, I managed to cobble together a passable stencil, tape it down to my work surface, put the fabric over it and apply blue glue gel resist where I wanted it to go.  (I ended up making the stencil out of paper, and for this technique; i.e., with glue, based on Enid Gjelten Weischelbaum's article, "Drawing with Glue" in the August/September 2015 issue of Quilting Arts magazine, you place your fabric on top of your traceable design):

As I was laying down the glue, I thought to myself, "Oh, what the heck if it doesn't get done in time; this is fun!"

It has to dry 24 hours (which is fine -- I work at The Shop tomorrow)...and on Wednesday, if I'm able (I have 3 appointments), I'll play with the background colours...and Friday...might be able to stitch...

Blessedly, the 15 x 15 Group have forgiven me if I miss this particular challenge...but I'd like to try to get there on time.  Our "reveals" are always so much fun, and I want to be a part of this one too.

Wish me luck -- or say a prayer -- or both (whichever appeals to you)!  See you later...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What's Kept Me Going

As my Gentle Readers will remember from my last post, I've been a bit preoccupied this summer...

With help from Ann Petersen, I did indeed manage to get this project finished at about 107" square, and presented it to the Happy Couple on Friday.  Yes, it was very joyfully received.  (grin)

Dreaming of Japan
- in my Outdoor Studio

Centre medallion detail

Detail - one of the corner sections

Formal wedding photos have yet to arrive, but here they are, just after the ceremony at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Edmonton, yesterday afternoon.  

May I present 

Mr. and Mrs. Marty and Chereena Blank:

Just Married!

*Linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday....Sharin' the LOVE!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Tree Wrap Experiment: Conclusion

A year ago, I wrote about wrapping trees...something I wanted to try after seeing it done by artist Lesley Turner of B.C.

As far as I can tell, the last time I posted about the project was six months December, 2015.

Well...Saturday (July 9) marked the 365th day of the Tree Wrap Experiment.  Here's the last photo of the fabric on the trees:

Last day - July 9, 2016.

Doesn't look much different than the first day, does it?

First day - July 10, 2015.

Close up, though...there's been some staining of the fabric and some interesting lines.   And some critters had to be gotten rid of...

I deliberately didn't want to wash the fabric, because I thought that might remove some of the stains -- especially from the synthetics (there were a couple).  So I bundled the fabric and string and put the bundle in a hot dryer for 20 minutes, as I'd read somewhere that this would ensure even ticks were eliminated:

Ready to disinfect!

 After this process, I laid them out on the freezer/work table on my back stoop:

Here are some close-ups...

Although they're really only stained -- no deterioration evident -- I have in mind a project...might even risk dampening them to add rusting...It will be awhile in the making...but I'm excited at the thought!

Friday, July 08, 2016


I know, Gentle Readers, that I've been out of touch lately.  I'm quilting.  And quilting.  And quilting some more.  Yes, there's been a bit of knitting, and some embroidery, and my work at The Shop, and taking a friend to hospital and visiting her several times and bringing her home, and mowing the lawn, and tending my sister's cottage garden while she works in Calgary, and that sort of thing.

But mostly quilting.

The wedding is 2 weeks tomorrow, and I have a quilt to finish.  As of a few moments ago, all that's left to do is hand-quilt 6 whole-cloth blocks (9" square finished) and put it together, bind and label it.

Right now it looks like this:

It's big.  Very big.  Taking up a good section of one side of my back yard.  The white you see around the edges isn't sashing -- it's batting, which will be trimmed and disappear as each section is joined, one to another.

I'm relying on Ann Petersen and  "Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine" (a Craftsy class) to get me through.  :-)

So...'scuse me, but I'll see you later...I have some quilting to do.  I recommend you join the others at Nina Marie's for Off the Wall Friday, and I hope you have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

In the Middle

My creative focus for the past while, as you know, has been the JTQ (Japanese Taupe Quilt), also known as the WQ (Wedding Quilt)...and the wedding is now only four weeks away...!!

The quilt is being constructed in sections, quilt-as-you-go, which is reassuring because each time a section is finished, I can remind myself that it really is -- finished, that is -- because the quilting is done.  That's a relief when one's on a deadline that's looming ever nearer!

So.  There are four square 'corner' sections, each measuring 45" square (finished) -- here's a sample:

Section 1 (as in first one I made)
 - before quilting

Three of the four of these are now completely finished; the fourth is sandwiched for quilting.

The top and bottom two square sections will be joined together with pieced and appliqued mid-sections that are 18" W x 45" L (finished):

One mid-section, sandwiched for quilting

First two mid-sections, assembled

Both of these are now quilted -- the pieced sections by machine and the applique blocks, by hand:

Quilting motif close up

One of the applique blocks, quilted

The last part of this project involves attaching those mid-sections to their respective corner sections, creating a "three-patch" top and bottom section.  I still have 12 pieced blocks to cut out and assemble for this bit...

These will be joined by a long middle piece that consists of two more of these 'mid-sections' (pieced and appliqued), and an 18" square centre block:

18" square (finished) centre block

I apologize for the poor quality of that photo -- it was taken over 2 years ago, and I had trouble getting the lighting right.  :-(

While all of the blocks I'm using for this piece come from Sue Briscoe's Japanese Taupe Quilts, the layout and quilting have been of my own creation.  Once again I've been reminded of the challenge of quilt design -- that it's not any easier creating a bed quilt from scratch, mainly from stash fabric, without a pattern, than it is designing a landscape. :-)

So...I'm off to do some piecing...leaving you linked from here to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.   This week she contemplates picking up where one leaves off...which is what I'll be doing with my next 15 x 15 Group piece...after the wedding!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lawn and Garden

Having a lawn to mow is a mixed blessing.  It's tough growing "nice" grass around here, unless one wants to use poison to tame the weeds...and even then, the sandy soil and periodic droughts mean brown patches and a regular onslaught of dew worms and dandelions.

Yes; I've sung this song before.  :-)  Blessedly, the treatment I applied last year (epsom salts followed by 'Turf Builder' and water) has improved my front lawn...and the dew worms seem to have moved elsewhere -- for a while at least.  That said, the dandelions are as fierce as ever, and as I refuse to poison them -- and as 'home remedies' I've tried (involving dish-washing liquid) manage to kill the grass and feed the dandelions rather than the other way 'round -- all I can do is mow them down.

This is where the blessing comes in.  There's something very therapeutic about doing that -- mowing down weeds during turbulent times.  It's perversely satisfying to see them fall beneath the mower, when murder and mayhem, fueled by political bigotry, seem to have taken root too close to home.  On the head of each dandelion I can imagine the face of a certain particularly vitriolic politician...If you get my drift.

Then, to soothe my soul and restore my faith that God's in God's heaven and all really is 'right with the world', there are the flowers...

My ornamental almond in April

Forget-me-nots in May

The first of this year's peonies - June

A petunia and some begonias - June

A Campfire Rose - June

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth --
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

-- Dorothy Frances Gurney from God's Garden

Monday, June 13, 2016


Perhaps we all need a little peace and quiet right now...

Carrie Newcomer

Holy As The Day Is Spent (Lyrics)

Holy is the dish and drain
The soap and sink, the cup and plate
And the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile
Showerheads and good dry towels

And frying eggs sound like psalms
With a bit of salt measured in my palm
It’s all a part of a sacrament
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the busy street
And cars that boom with passion’s beat
And the check-out girl, counting change
And the hands that shook my hands today

Hymns of geese fly overhead
And stretch their wings like their parents did
Blessed be the dog
That runs in her sleep
The catch that wild and elusive thing

Holy is a familiar room and the quiet moments in the afternoon
And folding sheets like folding hands
To pray as only laundry can

I’m letting go of all I fear
Like autumn leaves of earth and air
For summer came and summer went
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the place I stand
To give whatever small good I can
The empty page, the open book
Redemption everywhere I look

Unknowingly we slow our pace
In the shade of unexpected grace
With grateful smiles and sad lament
As holy as a day is spent

And morning light sings “providence”
As holy as a day is spent