Sunday, December 30, 2012

First Snow: a Magical Time

       Last night we had our first snow of the season. Big flakes! The evening was magical with the cross country skiers, sledders and sculptors out in the dark.

       And what to my wandering eyes should appear, but neighbor Lloyd and his mother's rolling 3 foot snowballs from the top of the block down to their house. This was an engineering trick I had never thought of. Granted, #2 and #3 snowballs had to be whittled down to lift to make a snowman, but Lloyd and Sarah did it! A strand of brussel sprouts left over in their garden made eyes, nose and arms.

      Next, Joe noticed that ten-year-old Katherine on the other side of our house had put up what her dad called "an abstract snowman." I am surrounded by art!

        I keep close at hand this photo of  "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil," the young efforts by myself and five friends in my front yard, teen years, long ago in Amarillo. I always hoped to duplicate it alongside Storrow Drive in Boston someday. I remember being told that Carl Sandburg said the only thing between Amarillo and the North Pole was a single strand of barbed wire. Note: Speak No Evil is having a tougher time of it!

        As of today, we have probably received more snow than we had all last year. This old photo pictures the amount of snow delivered. There has been double that in the past. You can click on the photos to enlarge.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Creating Cake Pops for a festive time

     'Tis the season to do something festive and wish fulfilling with few calories. No snow? Make snowballs. Make snowball cake pops.

      The grandchildren will arrive tomorrow and I am sure they would like snow to sled and ski. Also, I had given my beading group cake pop equipment for a holiday present and I wanted to learn a few more tricks to pass on. It is not a quick craft, so I decided to make the cake pop SNOWBALLS  (vanilla cake, melted Nestle white chocolate chips topped with coconut) before the children got here rather than craft with them.

       I had two kits: Nordic Ware and Telebrands The Bake Pop. I have made the chocolate pops from the recipe on the Nordic Ware box and followed instructions from The Bake Pop to use an ordinary cake mix. Bake Pop suggests you add an extra egg to a cake mix, "substitute milk for water and use half as much as the recipe calls for." You need a baking spray that contains flour and don't skimp. Fill the half spheres of the pan without holes liberally with batter. Use chocolate to glue a pop stick into the cooled cake sphere. Have some styrofoam handy to stick your pops into to move them to the fridge for solidifying the melted chocolate icing. I couldn't believe how long it took because you have to melt the chocolate, thin it a little with oil, wait for it to drip to a thin coating, cool it until solid...a few at a time. Maybe I should have made a smaller batch! 

        I prefer the Telebrands pop sticks but I would have to order them on line. I like the smaller, rather that larger popsicle sticks that are available at craft and cooking stores. If you follow the Nordic Ware and Telebrands links above, you can read up more about cake pops to see if you want to make them. Wrap your creations with about a foot of plastic wrap and they will be delicious for days. It is fun to have a small treat to hand out liberally.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

De-stress with yarn, dishcloths, Dust Bowl reads

     Show and Tell at our Journal Quilt Connection meeting ended with Donna Jean's suggestion we mindlessly knit washcloths with Sugar and Spice cotton psychedelic colors to de-stress during the holidays. I am so suggestible. I could not wait to get my yarn (some for the girls), size 6 knitting needles (two more sets for the grandchildren), cast on 40 stitches, to start to knit to de-stress!

      But first I had to relearn how to cast-on before knitting, knitting, knitting. I got out 6 books and looked on YouTube for videos.  I assure you I will teach the girls and use myself, the easiest cast-on stitch. How important it is to practice before teaching the youngsters. How much one forgets. Click photos to enlarge!

     Then I remembered that Trilla had sent me some washcloths she had made along with some guest room soaps to accompany her creations. Of course, I could only admire, never use until I made more. I found I had bought a pattern book, Dishcloths from the Heart, and had already bought psychedelic yarn back then!!  I dug further into my knitting bag (one of about 8 yarn UFOs*) to find Trilla's state of Texas with my Amarillo highlighted. All this happened the last few days when I was heavily into the history of The Dust Bowl, thanks to Ken Burns' movie. May I recommend his illustrated history and Karen Hesse's book, Out of the Dust, a Newbury award winner. It also helps to have a ukulele and The Daily Ukulele (364 songs) sitting by the computer. Maybe a virtual "I'll be Home for Christmas."
    *unfinished objects

Friday, November 30, 2012

4th Birthday Portrait Quilt

   Traditionally, I make a small quilt birthday card for my grandchildren to go with their gifts. Since David's birthday is near Christmas, I use materials I find on hand since time is crowded.

    I found a sketch I had made of David using a marker. It looks as if I may have traced over a photograph which I had enlarged. I made two copies on my copy machine and scanned them to fit a size 8 1/2' x 11" sheet of paper. Of course I used a printable fabric, not paper, of that size to print the line drawing.

     Next, I ironed Wonder Under to the back so I could laminate the fabric with the drawing onto a background. Mistake #1. I had wanted to embroider the lines with black thread but this is not easy to do once fabric has been laminated. I learned that other people use invisible ink for their embroidery lines. Mistake #2. I had used up the Cars fabric, our theme this year. In a hurry I settled for Batman and numbers. Later I found Cars fragments which I laminated, cut out and stitched around. Mistake #3. You can see through the white fabric, but it shows how colorful David is. Mistake #4. It was late. I forgot to change the thread for the binding. It looked messy so I further messed it up more with puff paints. I was distracted listening to Tom Wolfe's new book Back to Blood. But I think the card is lively and cute. I dried it on the radiator and added a cupcake.

      I love it when David says, "For me, LinLin?" I say, "Yes:" and he adds, "Oh thank you, LinLin! My quilt," and hugs it. Most of the time, to get done all I want to do, I can't worry about "perfect."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grounded Thanksgiving: three stitch crafts

      Colds clobber and cause one to miss Thanksgiving food and togetherness. Driving for groceries wiped us out and so would a drive to NJ and NYC. However, there is no place like home and one can catch up on crafting.

      I took Hannah's web and turned it into a doll quilt, trying to teach myself embroidery writing without any planning ahead. I made Chrissy's birthday present, a portable sewing kit, using a quilted floral fabric. For my journal quilt, I marked the election.
      Hannah had given me that square with her embroidered web (second photo) and I made a back for it. I ran across a note from her saying she would like to make another quilt with me after our first one. I left a corner for her to embroider on my side. So far it says, "read, draw, sew, Hannah's web." I need to learn the proper stitch and write it out ahead, but I am allergic to planning.

       Instructions for the portable sewing kit are at my blog for June 10, 2012. Using this double-sided quilted fabric from JoAnn's makes the crafting even easier! Up high on this blog in the Search area, by the blogger symbol, type in "portable sewing kit."

       Half of my friends and family are Democrats and half are Republicans and we love each other. Shown here are the flag "Bark for Barack," the bandaid for universal health care, and the caught FOX which I felt was destructive by distortions. The confettied flags are a quilted cushion for our country that will need one. Click to enlarge photos.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Material Mavens Reveal Day: 12 x 12 Travel Quilts

      If you were given the theme "travel," what quilt would you make. Yesterday, at the Material Maven blog, our international 12 x 12  quilt group revealed trips down the Nile, Japanese memories in Sashiko, an anniversary gondola ride in Venice, jaunts over Europe and North America as well as trips of the spirit. It is always fun to view the art, the surface techniques and experiments. I hope you can visit the site. Material Mavens

      I always want to have a visual so I am adding my already posted Shake and Fall. I added size 8 orange and red embroidery thread to depict the flight of the harbinger to our earthquake, felt by the Beadsprouts in Waterville Valley the night of the third debate. Click to enlarge. But don't forget to visit MM's site for grander efforts!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leftover Clay: Bake some Beads

     Can entertaining children also be productive for the adult? When the grandchildren were here last week, we got out the "pasta" machine and the Sculpey III polymer clay. They loved conditioning the clay by rolling it through the Atlas pasta machine that I received for Christmas 30 years ago. I made pasta once, and now I have made beads twice! After the children went to bed, I took the leftover clay to try to make some beads. Of course, I needed more clay, but I was able to create enough for one pair of earrings and a necklace.
Baked polymer clay beads  (click to enlarge)

      I have a copy of the KLUTZ The Incredible Clay Book which is no longer available. Through Amazon, you can buy the book used, minus the clay, and purchase the Sculpey at a craft store. I recommend a variety package.  I have the pasta maker, a thin clay cutting tool and the package I bought. There are other useful tools, but these put you on your way.

      To see how I made the strained "millefiori" beads, there is this terrific YouTube video by Donna Kato.  Kato has also published some handsome instructive books.

      After creating the beads, I used a toothpick to make a hole. I strung them on a wire, made hooks on the end of the wire to hang from oven racks, and baked them for about 10 minutes in an unused oven. Use a vent and do not sniff! They become hard and lightweight. Then at my beading group, I made earrings, or added other beads to string a necklace. Maybe now I will get serious. There are firmer clays for more professional results. I have worn the earrings twice and the necklace once. Not bad for leftovers. I have wanted to do this for 40, finally!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Arts/Crafts: Before and After the Frankenstorm

Chelsea Market carvings

El Quiote supplied the sparklers! 
    Last week, in NYC celebrating Joe's 75th birthday, the grandchildren were a big draw. He and I also went to Neue Gallery, the super Andy Warhol show at the Met, the Morgan Library, Chelsea Market, and I, the City Quilter thrice. We enjoyed El Quixote in Chelsea that is mentioned regularly in Just Kids, the book for Cambridge Art's book club. It is fun when a book you are reading covers the ground you are visiting. Things are different in that Lower Manhattan now, but the marathon was canceled and electricity has, thankfully, returned to son's place!
    This week, the evacuees, that same little family, are here in Boston, with other son Bill's working out of the Boston office. The children enjoyed Halloween on our street. What do you do with three children, ages 8, 6 and 3 for days (weeks?) when school like their electricity is OUT in NJ:

Live Pumpkin, Fireman and Goldfish

      So far, Hannah's picked up the ukulele fast. I hope to capture her on my new free Apps: Video Star and VideoFX Live. Check them out! (Fast and Easy) Both girls made headbands using ribbons. David and I played kazoo/piano duet train songs. Erika learned to knit.Today all three worked with  polymer clay that wore me out with the pasta maker's being used by the three to condition the clay. But I made myself some beads for a necklace! Joe took them swimming;  and tonight, while they were visiting old friends, I set out the sewing machines for projects tomorrow. Watching Hannah on the uke, I decided it is time for her to take her Hello Kitty Janome sewing machine home. She is finally ready to figure out what to do to solve problems that arise. You might know I gave it to her when she was four.With a twisted ankle I will skip the quilt show in NH. Next. the election! Click photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shake and Fall: a journal quilt

    Journal quilts are for memories...often significant events or special occasions. Click photo to enlarge.

    Last week, the Beadsprouts (my beading group of six...a number that fits around our craft tables) headed to New Hampshire to see the beautiful leaves and share a dinner and Presidential Debate together. Part way into our late meal, a bird tried to get into our windows. The bird frantically turned sideways and upside down to penetrate the glass to get to the light. We drew the curtains all around and finally tossed out an unappreciated dinner roll. That was the first piece of excitement.

     Later, our chairs vibrated under us for about 5 to 10 seconds. I forget how we knew the pulsation was an earthquake from Hollis ME, but the bird must have been a harbinger. After getting the big TV to work just in time, we finished the evening watching the debate and continued the next day to enjoy our surroundings, leaf time in Waterville Valley. That was my first earthquake!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reversible Headbands: multiple choices

     Did you ever wear a headband, or do you have a friend who loves them? I wanted to give granddaughter Erika, seldom seen without a headband, a surprise of more headbands and a chance to design them. Finding grosgrain ribbons about an inch wide was easy. Finding plain headbands (with no teeth) was not so easy. I tried drugstores and department stores.
enlarge to view

            The last time I was in NYC, I stopped at M&J Trimming on 6th Avenue. They and my local Ben Franklin carry a variety of ribbons. Down the street on 6th Avenue, at Fun to Bead or another bead store,  I located the perfect size headbands. These are black which could show through lighter ribbons. At M&J I found white bands, but they graduate in size to larger in the middle, bigger than the ribbons I bought. You only need one headband since the reversible covers slip easily on and off. I used the black.

on the subway in Manhattan...headband with ears on Erika

      I cut the ribbons to about 15.5 inches long and sewed each 1/4" down at ends to the wrong side. I did this to two ribbons. Then, wrong sides together, I sewed the edges with invisible thread just on the long sides leaving the ends open. Sew easy for grandmother fun. I made three quickly and will let Erika design the rest, choosing which two ribbons to sew together.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October Mysteries: crib quit origin

     Do you have some mysteries in your life that need solving? I have a baby quilt that I imagine my grandmother sent to me for my first child and I was too immature to appreciate to protect it. I used this crib blanket daily, washing when needed. I hope I expressed enough gratitude for all the hand stitching, the applique and design, and the multitudinous perfect hand-stitches in the quilting. Until today, I always wondered if she designed it or if it came from a pattern. A quilt from the 30s, was it made for me and saved, or created to send for Jim to have?

      Today I got up early to attend the Cambridge Art Association book group where we discussed Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger. Then I headed out to Lexington for the Rising Star Quilt Show where I ran across and bought an old 80's book Crib Quilts and Other Small Wonders by Woodard and Greenstein. Lo and Behold! The book shows a quilt like mine, one from a private PA collection. I was so excited for a pinch of a lead. Now I am eager to find where the pattern originated. I hope someone can help me so I can do something to relive the experience with my dear Big Mom. 

       I had cleared off the design wall, some more of my little Maine 50th anniversary quickie paintings and journal quilt, in order to hang the stressed but beloved crib quilt. I think the marionette theater must have had quite an influence on me. Click the photos to enlarge!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Painting in the studio: Landscape memories

     On my 50th birthday, this former English and history teacher went to art school for her 7th life. I painted dawn to dusk daily. Many of my paintings are at my website Lately, however, I have been quilting and working in a variety of crafts encouraged by involvement with grandchildren.

     Down in my basement studio, I pulled out some little 4" x 4" canvases and my Winsor Newton Griffin fast-drying alkyd paints. In about 1 1/2 hours I painted three little vignettes from our recent trip to Maine.

      It may look like it, but I just sloshed around the oils with a little turpentine and bits of medium. I then painted skies, trees and grounds while thinking of Maine and some sketches of sites I had seen while on the road. I want to do several more memories until I run out of compositions or moods and then I can quilt them for handwork on road trips.

    Joe wanted me to do a small portrait of grandson. I felt I had just begun; but he told me to was finished. Hope David doesn't mind looking jaundiced! I am loving being back in the studio while I read The Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucien Freud

Friday, September 28, 2012

Monkey Sees, Monkey Does: a new small quilt plus

    Are you going back to school this busy September;  or are you always learning new things. I try to take some new workshop usually, so I got busy with what Sue Martell and Jo Diggs taught me. The last time I saw Betsy, she asked if I had started making Maine landscapes (I reported on hers August 18) and I took her hint to do a Jo Diggs workshop. Jo Diggs is a master applique landscape fabric artist.

    So I loosely cut out the fabric Sue encouraged me to buy in her sister's shop, and all but copied one of Sue's on the drive to NYC. All I did was layer fabric over muslin and started at the top, adding shapes on, to pin the shapes down. I whipstitched the seam allowances under the main shapes with silk thread that Jo says lies flatter. There are sky, rock, water, tree, plant and sand fabrics available; but you can paint your own white or muslin fabrics with fabric paints so that the fabrics remain soft. I like applique in that you can do it on a car ride or in front of tv news and you don't need a sewing machine. I feel romantic toward hand stitching...all of those little stitches.

     However, when I returned home, I became a monster. I couldn't bear to go much to do! Whereas Jo Diggs puts mats around her landscapes, I wanted fabric borders and had to get out a sewing machine to add a twig fabric from The City Quilter. I dug in my bias tape drawer for white and cream. I didn't want machine stitches to show so I used Stitch Witchery on the inner frame and a sewing machine and backside whipstitch on the white outer frame. I messed up a bit (fusible dirtying my borders, messing up my iron) trying to go so fast, but the fabric picture is ok as a memory of trip to Maine on our 50th...not so perfect as Sue's or Jo's,  but one step in learning a new technique.

photo I took of a Jo Diggs landscape...note the reflections 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Square spiral: a Reveal Day posting

     If you were asked to design a spiral quilt block, what would you come up with. Below is my offering at Material Mavens. After you try to draw the pattern and color it (it is tricky), I recommend your visit to see, enlarge the photos, and read the explanations given by 12 participants in this international journal quilt group. For my 12" x 12" offering, I wrote:

     Because I am often in a spiral, I felt confident to work with this theme for September. I have earrings galore which have spiral designs. I often feel like a dancer in a spiral; and I like the zany and untraditional that the symbol connotes.

     At a recent quilt show, I obsessed over a seemingly simple spiral block quilt that did not seem to interest others. I casually tried to sketch how to compose the mildly tricky block; so I was pleased to have an excuse to work with the block in detail. All I needed was the two colors of fabrics.

     At the NH Mancuso quilt show, in the last vendor booth which I visited,  there were batik spirals fabrics perfect for the job. I chose colors opposite on the color wheel to hint at, somewhat like yin and yang, the good and the bad spirals in life or the world today. I set the small erratic fabric spirals inside the larger architectural spiral of achieved calm. The back of the quilt is a hand-dyed spiral of a same color which I found in my stash.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sketching on the road...a new product

     Many times people pack up paints and pens to produce works of art on a vacation; and then they find they never have a chance to use them. As you know, I often stitch Sashiko in the car while listening to a good book on CD as Joe, the car enthusiast drives. For this trip, part of our 50th celebration, I decided I would sketch in the car.

      If you sketch on a trip, I think your memories are more indelible or tangible than when you only take photos. I put a sketchbook, Micron pen .005, water soluable pencils, pencil sharpener and Niji waterbrushes loaded with water in my purse. From the minute we hit the road, I didn't know what to sketch and thought...what the heck...I will sketch anything in front of me without giving it thought!

      Believe me, my sketches look as if I didn't give them any thought. The road goes by FAST and is bumpy! But it was fun to mark the path with pen, then color with watercolor pencils and wet the marks down as well. I don't think this was my favorite sketching solution, but I love having a rough 60 pages of marks and some memory flags to remind me of what to paint when I get to it at home. One should paint her 50th anniversary!  

      After  I wore down the Micron point in Castine, ME, I made the exciting discovery that there are Sharpie fine point pens now that don't bleed through the paper, and more than that, there are Sharpies that come with a retractable fine point so you won't have to look for lost tops under seats in the car! When I couldn't replace some of my Caran d'Arche watercolor pencils in the USA, I found Derwent watercolor pencils in Rockland a surprisingly good substitute. Heavenly. And of course there are different results for sketching on arrival but this was an experiment! Click photos to enlarge.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Making Landscapes to enjoy: Martell and Rasmussen

Sue Martell 
    The World Quilt Show New England X is this weekend in Manchester NH. I had so much fun that I spent two days there.

     It is always a pleasure to visit the cheerful vendors at the Quilt Essentials booth. Betsy Dorr, the owner usually knits and quilts and her sister Sue Martell inspires me with her piles of totally hand-appliqued landscape quilts. Sue is quick to point to the printed fabrics she uses; books on the topic, and the cloth support onto which she collages her fabric segments of "grass," "sky," "water," and "rocks." She repeatedly suggests I get to know Jo Diggs, a respected teacher and landscape artist. I no more got home from the show this year than I found in my e-mail a note from The New England Quilt Museum listing a Saturday morning workshop with Jo Diggs. I signed up! The Commons, a gallery in Eastport ME, carries Martell's landscapes.

Winter's Approach by Sue Rasmussen

    Ever helpful Sue Martel pointed down the hall to a beautiful landscape created by Sue Rasmussen, professional quilter from Simi Valley CA. "Winter's Approach" is entirely machine quilted. She used a printed fabric for the sky filled with branches and a shibori type fabric for the mountains. She pieces beautifully and I have been getting to know this artist by her work "on-line."If I had known I would blog about the quilt I would have taken a better photo. If you link to See How We Sew, you can see detailed photos, as well as  read about Sue, her book and her upcoming TV appearance. You will also want to visit Sue's website by clicking on this link.

      I believe both of these artists like the clean edge and the soft hand of a pieced or appliqued image.  I eagerly await my workshop with Jo Diggs mid-September at the New England Quilt Museum. Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crafting puzzles of memories

    I have been gathering ideas for a celebration. There will be some small children at the event to entertain or offer a souvenir. Usually I have markers and paper, but I have been so busy with  photos, slideshows, movies and dvds, that I wanted a photo craft to involve them. Back when I used my darkroom for photography, I made puzzles for children. I would enlarge their photo on black and white thick matte paper and heat bond it to wood. I believe I also have used matte medium brushed on the back of the photo and onto wood to adhere the two together, letting the piece dry for four hours under pressure.

Click to enlarge.
     Today I decided to use a heavy duty spray adhesive since it was sitting in front of me! There is only a one hour wait for adhesion. I got out my camera to show what I first gathered together: my old Dremel scroll saw (my favorite tool of all time that I learned to use in 7th grade), two pieces of l/4"thick plywood the size of the photos (these 9 x 12s are birch and smooth), extra strong spray adhesive. I also grabbed a scrap piece of lattice work to see if I could still cut wood; and I double checked to see that I had plenty of blades. 

      First, I printed two photos on thick paper. Of course in art and craft something always goes wrong. This time, the printer started adding white borders around my photos. Or was the computer setting the problem? Nevertheless, I am forging ahead. Can't waste ink or paper. After I cut these out, I will lay them on cardboard from tablets, and put a clear wrap around...and they should be presented in a ziplock bag to hold the pieces for another round. I hope the puzzles please and inspire the children.
      I am back from cutting out the puzzles. I placed them on tablet cardboard. These puzzles are difficult!! I am glad they have white borders to assist the puzzlers, but at the same time entertain them for awhile!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Grandchildren motivate one to craft

      Hannah and I recently visited The City Quilter where she got involved with My New Sewing Book edited by Susan Akass and I bought Journey to Inspired Art Quilting by Jean Wells and Connecting Design to Stitch by Sandra Meech. To observe her interest to read to gather what she needed for her projects made this one of the happiest days of my life. But she was off to camp so we brought the other two grandchildren home here to Camp Hicks.

(Click on the photos to enlarge)

       Erika and David hit my studio coloring. In fact, Erika, after letting me draw her, wanted to draw me and her brother with a charcoal pencil. He accidentally turned into a monster, she said.

        In no time at all, I was pulling out all the projects I had played with 40 years ago or had never opened. The best projects were the Fancy Nancy quilt and pillow Erika designed; the Sculpey III, a polymer clay that stays soft until you cook it in the oven; and the wire jewelry created with telephone wire. I had an old pasta rolling machine that made the clay malleable and both children loved passing the clay through the rollers. Erika made several necklaces out of the recycled telephone wire which she wrapped around popcycle sticks and round dowels. She put the beads onto another wire and shaped the ends into hook and eyes to make necklaces.  Although we both worked on beads with the Sculpey III while David cut out the clay with cookie cutters, Erika wanted to make pinch pots and baskets. We had so much fun.

      Today their mother and father picked them up and Erika left with a Sashiko coaster project in hand to sew on the road, just as LinLin did on drive bringing her to visit!

       We had a few failures: the plaster animals that never dried in the rubber latex molds so we could paint them. However, I am so glad to finally have had an excuse and the time to make the polymer clay beads. I would never have gotten to them if not for the children. Ceramic mosaics are next! I also loved introducing Erika to the notion that you can learn a lot studying instructional photos...not just reading the instructions. She starts first grade in September.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Theme is Daydreams

    The international journal quilt I belong to, Material Mavens, has Reveal Day today. We reveal a new topic every two months on the 15th. The topic this time is DayDreams. Visit the group of twelve quilters to see interesting and more complex interpretations!

     I do not daydream. I dusk dream. When I hit the pillow in the evening, at a time I should be sleeping, I start to plan my paintings. I wonder how to celebrate 50 years of marriage, imagine new projects to enjoy with my grandchildren, and think about friends near and far. The quiet period, with nothing to disturb my dusk dreaming, along with my being a night person, can be productive.

     This quilt started out as a nightwalk on a beach in Maine or the Vineyard, but the sand became stars at night. I love the coast...walking and picking up shells. But stars at night with an assortment of pillows, topics dreamed on the pillows from that week in June one day about a month ago (baking, painting plans, quilt shows, friendly spider Charlotte near my computer), are reflected in this piece. I REALLY wanted to portray the bear who made it all the way to the ocean on Cape Cod and was taken 100 miles back into Western Massachusetts, but again made it 100 miles back to a tall Brookline tree before he was downed. He had big daydreams and the admiration of many. Mine should be bigger!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Project Hope blocks completed!

   Every year Katie makes a couple of quilts for Project Hope. She gathers a number of friends to make blocks on a theme. She pulls out her stash and adds to it. This year, the theme is farm animals.

Click to enlarge.

    Each person (not all are quilters) volunteers to make a 12 1/2"square block...and others make more. Some exercise great imagination in building the blocks, making them interactive. Others crochet their own drawings. Katie gathers the blocks during the summer, joins them with strips (sashing) and adds borders. batting, and backing to prepare the creations to be quilted. In the Fall, after the quilts are put together, it is exhilerating to see how different and exciting people's work can be.

     I usually volunteer to make about 8 or 9 blocks.  It is my nature to do something quickly. So my pieces may not be the most interesting, but they blend in to add to the quantity needed.  This year I found a print at Quilting by the Yard in Vernon CT on the way to NYC. With it, I broke my former time records.  If you type "Project Hope" into the Search area above (top left by the orange B icon), you can see earlier posts for Project Hope.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Uncle Sam welcomes you

     Betty always gives the best 4th of July parties. One year, Joe and I made her an Uncle Sam to greet guests as they entered the backyard. Uncle Sam might hold her gorgeous blue hydrangeas, a welcome sign, or stand festooned in balloons.

     At other times I made two more butlers: one for everyday to welcome Joe at the front door, and another for a Valentine's Day television segment. Now these helpful souls hold my painting palettes in my studio. They are going back to work! Joe and I have been reorganizing my painting area, and that is why I am late with my weekly blog.

     To make these young men or young women, cut out the body (I used my band saw) from a 3/4 inch piece of plywood. Cut out two arms, two simple shoes, and a base on which to glue and screw the legs. Use any tray across their arms and glue and screw these on as well. Here is a quick sketch (body to base)  to give you ideas on wood size I worked with but which will vary with your design.  Paint with acrylics or anything you have on hand including house or wall paint. One can't have enough help these days!

(Click to enlarge photos and sketch)