Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Out of the Blue

If you read my last post, you might remember that I was hankering to start something new -- probably related to the next challenge posed by my 15 x 15 Group.

That's not quite what happened.

Oh, I got an idea, alright, but not for that piece.

For the last long while (since June, at least), I've been meditating on the song by Tim McGraw, "Humble and Kind".

Since the RNC and the DNC (Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention respectively) in the U.S. -- to which I paid more attention than is probably healthy for a Canadian -- I've wanted to do something -- anything -- to keep our borders open, our long, historical friendship safe, to get rid of the vermin in the GOP -- but none of that is really within my power or abilities.  

I thought about posting a prayer a day, but in the end that's a bit "preachy" least, for a Canadian...

Then last night I got a picture of an art quilt -- dimensions, pattern, layout, etc.  This has happened to me before.  Anyway, it was based on the idea of staying humble and kind...a reminder to my American friends and family, and a warning to anyone (wherever) seeking any position of (perceived) power on this earth...

So first thing this morning I went into the sewdio and began.

I wanted lots of colour, so I created a 13 1/2" square string-pieced block:

I applied Wonder Under fusible web to the back, and drew the shapes of butterfly wings...and then cut them out:

Here they are, ready to apply to the background:

Once fused to the background, I backed the piece with freezer paper to stabilize it and wrote this phrase over and over around the butterfly: "Always be humble and kind."  I quilted around that in thread to match the background, and then quilted in the ditch of the strips on the wings using Superior Thread Monopoly "invisible" thread:

I decided it needed more quilting, though, so stitched around the outside edges and then echo quilted around the butterfly:

This evening I applied a facing to the piece, and so can basically call it 'finished':

Humble and Kind (C) 2016
12" W x 12" L

It uses so many traditional quilting techniques that I'm not sure it would sell in the SAQA Benefit Auction...and it's too late for this year's auction anyway...but it's what had to be quilted.  I don't think I've ever done an entire piece like this -- from inception to completion -- in one day.  Go figure.

It will end up where it's supposed to end up, I guess.  Meanwhile, this remains my daily reminder and my prayer for my American colleagues, family and friends...and especially for all seeking positions in the next U.S. election:

God be with you, every one.

Linking this up to the Canadian group, WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...and heading off to bed!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Posts -- but Not Here

This weekend I created three blog posts -- but not here.

MOB I - thigh
First, I updated Mark on the Body for July 29.  The first section of this project -- MOB I -- is now in the home stretch, and you can read about that HERE.

Second, as part of my work as a Regional Co-Rep, I updated the SAQA Western Canada Blog to showcase one of our member's latest achievements.  You can read about Diane and the Alberta Society of Artists' touring exhibit HERE.

Heaven's Gate - detail
And third, I posted my contribution to the 15 x 15 Group's latest "Reveal"; this one's on the theme of "Architecture" and required the use of a stencil somewhere in the piece.  (You'll recall from my last post the challenge that presented for me!)

You can read about my piece and see and learn about all the wonderfully unique interpretations of this theme HERE.

As we move into August, I find myself with much to do...and more of the same.  I have a hankering to start something new, and as the next 15 x 15 Group theme has already been announced, I might just make a start on that -- with Scarlett O'Hara -- tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm linking this up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and am going to enjoy some Sabbath time.  Have a good week!

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!