Monday, December 16, 2013

Cold enough for quilts

    The sun is shining, but baby it's cold outside. Finally, an excuse to blog. David has his 5th birthday this month so it was time for another 12" x 12" quilted card to go with his present. I put a 5 inside the Superman logo instead of an S.  I am telling you that since most people didn't notice! I let David choose the fabrics (I have outgrown making these, but the children expect them." I was told more than once that "Mommy saves them!")

       I wasn't sure how to express a 5th birthday on the bright fabrics, but Joe suggested the 5, and I painted the new logo over the fabric. I "drew" the design with strips of 1/2" masking tape and then marked the edges with a white pencil. After removing the tape, I first used a white paint and went over it with the red and yellow. Finally I used Golden's liquid gold acrylic and brushed it lightly over the yellow and it is very pretty! Click to enlarge.

       On the back I fused a car, some dinosaurs and a cupcake. The objects didn't stand out enough so I used a gold puff paint once again around the edges, not being too successful, but good enough. David wouldn't let me keep it to take to my quilting BEE.

      Also, my Journal Quilt Connection quilted a shoe challenge. Stories accompanied each. I showed my dancing shoes the last posting.  Here are Donna Jean's, Tricia's two, Julie's, Elana's, Rita's. and mine. Next time, I promise better photos. Shoes have a long history.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Comfort in the Arts, a quilt challenge

       "Comfort" is a pleasurable topic to contemplate. The arts comfort me as on a Sunday morning when I sit down to play certain arrangements on the piano, pick up my ukulele after a long day on the computer before going to bed, or draw and paint at the kitchen table. I am relaxed and transported by the arts. But even more so, I have wings when I get to dance.

        In art school as at my Journal Quilt Connection, I was given the topic of “shoes.” I picked out tap shoes, stuffed some shiny fabric wings I had sewn, and glued them to the heels. My tap shoes would again be the reference for this month’s journal or art quilt. However, the creation of this “comfort” quilt for Material Mavens was totally UNcomfortable. 

       I chose the background and back fabrics spontaneously. I found a shiny black fabric from which I free-hand cut patent leather tap shoes. Problem. The black fabric cannot be sewn easily. I secured the shoes with a hot glue gun after stitching the silver “stage” to the background, batting and backing. I pulled the backing over the quilt edges bind them, a bit prematurely. I cut down the old wings from art school and glued them to the shoes, but the heat from the glue gun removed some of the color from the wings. No matter. I glued on beads for some glitz, trim, or taps. I wanted to stitch in free-motion my dance routine: One, two, three, four, five, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, One Kick-Hop, Two Kick-Hop, Repeat. However, my sewing machine didn’t like my writing with stretchy invisible thread, so I quit after a bungled line. Instead, I cut free-form notes out of the shiny black no-sew fabric and glued them down. I felt I should wrap the entire piece in pink tulle, sew it to the binding edge and pink it near the seam. Then I felt I should layer more beads over the finish. I put beads on the front and back.
    The quilt has sweet comforting memories encased. However, during a work crisis, I accidentally deleted this blurb on “comfort” which I had just written and had to rewrite it.   Time for COMFORT!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Children take the lead with elastic bracelets

      Bracelets are big time with the youngsters these days: colored rubber bands woven on a Rainbow Loom keep a wide range of children occupied. At beading, every grandmother but one had grandchildren quite engaged with elastic bracelets...and Chrissy's Charlie made $25 selling them on the New Jersey boardwalk! The basic kit comes with a bag of assorted colors, a loom, some instructions and a tool. Although I found a book of several patterns at Michael's, I find most children follow designs on You Tube.

 Click on the photos to enlarge..

       As a baby Hannah would put on all my crocheted bracelets up her arms...and even try to pull them over her head as in a necklace. Tonight I thought I would get a photo of the girls, now older, with their creations on their arms! David is trying to catch up so he goes to their room for help. Joe and David show bracelets they were gifted...Joe's for his birthday, from Hannah. The guy's are darker colors, sport team colors often.

        When Hannah finished making a duct tape bag and wallet, I asked her to write down some of the names of bracelets to look up on-line: Sailor's, Fishtail, Triple, Mohawk, Double X, Starburst, Butterfly, Blossom. She says likes them all and learned to work so fast with her hands by folding origami birds when she was younger. Erika left for a Halloween party and David sang Happy Birthday to Joe in Hebrew. I spent the day making Ina Garten's carrot cake to take to Beth's spectacular dinner for Joe. Grandmothers probably should think twice about adding walnuts and raisins. Strike two!


Monday, October 14, 2013

My Weekend Quilting Binge

     Unfortunately, I missed my trip with the Beadsprouts to NH, so Joe drove me there a few days later to a quilt store I wanted to visit. We hoped to observe colorful leaf activity, but the lakes are what got to me! And the batiks at Keepsake Quilting.

      In the car, I stitched on a world map quilt I just sewed together for the grandchildren. I had put this aside because the world cities blocks side was longer or wider than the panel world continents map side or vice versa. I had to figure out the wild math and cut a mix of blue borders so that I could stitch the sides together to make a quilt. Now I will hand-sew along the printed stitch lines in the design (to the batting on both sides) and let the grandchildren decide what they want to do with it. The piece is colorful and educational.They can do the hand-sewing or I can finish it at a bee.

Click to enlarge photos.

     Keepsake Quilting is only a couple of hours away and there are some neat stops on the way. In the store I found Tonga Treats Table Runner batik squares that make up to a finished size of 16" x 52." That would be the biggest quilt and the most old fashioned quilting I have ever done. I usually make journal quilts and a 12" x 12" is big for me! It would have helped to have had lessons. But I had experience making quickie nine-patch blocks for Katie's Project Hope quilts. I tore into the first blue runner. It has some problems, but daughter in law loves it and feels it is perfect for her new dining room table.

     Artists never give up. I made another runner the next day. Although it was not groomed for its photo, with a little ironing the green one is perfect for my dining room (but only color-wise). I will gift it as well. The fun was in the ease and speed of the craft. According to the directions, you make 4 nine-patch blocks from thirty six 5" batik squares. Next, you cut each of those squares into four equal pieces, cutting horizontally and vertically. You then arrange the blocks into two rows of eight blocks and sew together. You add the 2 1/2" border and sandwich the backing, batting and top. Next, stitch the edges around, turn and hand sew the opening. You can quilt, but they are super without. This project kept me out of Joe's hair while he was grading law papers.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

PINK Day at the MFA

        Recently, 75 pianos appeared on the streets of Boston in Luke Jerram's public art project, Play Me, I'm Yours!  Citizens donated the Boston pianos to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Celebrity Series of Boston. Artists or community groups embellished the pianos, inviting all to sit down to play them. The grand piano below, decorated by Hilary Zelson, is near the Huntington entrance to the Museum of Fine Arts through October 14.

Click on photos to enlarge
       Many young relatives of museum staff dressed in pink on Tuesday to visit the museum for photos. The group enjoyed "tea" in Bravo after a preview of the Think Pink show which coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. After treats, Erika and I went outside where the children gathered on the steps at the Huntington entrance for more photos and balloons. Off to the side, Erika and I happened on a young man's playing Gershwin at the wonderful easel piano above. Erika took her turn.

        Erika and I had arrived very early for this PINK event and parked on the Fenway side. (At my age, what is the difference in the designated Huntington Entrance and the Fenway Entrance? A parking place on the street by the front door.) Before our 3:45 PINK date, the two of us visited the shop and the contemporary art areas. I found she was quite taken by the sculpture at the different spots in the museum, especially statues of people and Tara Donovan's undulating styrofoam cup cloud.

         By the end of the day, outside with others on the steps of the Huntington entrance, Erika still did not want to leave the museum. I noticed the MFA doors were starting to close, but the guards let us in. We moved extremely swiftly to the other side of the seemingly empty museum, to the doors where we had entered on the Fenway side. Thankfully, that entrance was still open.  I told Erika we must read the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I understand it is about two children who run away and hide in the Met Museum. Once outside on the Fenway side, Erika and I examined the new installation of Paul Manship sculpture: a Native American hunter and his prey, an antelope. What a day! Huffa Puffa.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Simple Fabric Postcard revisited

   Surprise is a good element for parties and just about anything. Often one can excite people with the unexpected. One doesn't expect a thank-you note to arrive as a quilted postcard...or a mug rug. Whatever, I like them; and the US Postal System has not let me down.

Click photo to enlarge

     Type the word "postcard" in at the top left of this blog where you see a magnifying glass, an area next to the orange and white Blogger symbol. Many blog postcard postings will come up for you to scroll different ways of making fabric postcards. I often check back to see how to make them. I wanted to get these off fast. 

     Today I needed two on the topic of art. I took Seurat's pointillism, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte to symbolize the gorgeous day and beautiful reunion luncheon many of us enjoyed on Thursday. Georges Seurat had other intentions. For me it stands for many paintings this group has supported as well as the lovely, perfect gathering.

      To make the postcard, cut front and back fabrics, as well as fleece, flannel or batting to 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches. Postcards are 4 x 6 inches and go at a postcard rate. I always put on a full- rate stamp, since I will take to the post office for hand-canceling. You need to write with a fabric marker. I used Fabrico. I have a "Postcard" stamp, but you can write out the word and should. Run over any ink with a dry iron to further set it.

       Put the front and back fabrics, right sides facing each other, the fleece on one side or the other to pin the three for sewing.  Leave a 2-inch opening on the side so that you can turn the postcard out after trimming corners. You will need to iron the postcard at this point and slip- or blind-stitch the opening closed. Sew or quilt around the card with a  1/4-inch stitch from the edge. In this case I also quilted a line down near the center from the word "Post Card." Quilt as much as you like keeping a thought to legibility. I read somewhere that mug rugs or fabric coasters are better with fleece interiors which is more absorbent. I used fleece this time along with invisible thread. Timtex makes a firmer card, but I like soft. Speed was important here. I hope they arrive in the morning.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

More Journaling: three new quilts

     Summer passed too fast; and I was not very productive. So I decided to make three journal quilts in a weekend. My Journal Quilt Connection had invited the president of our guild to visit; and I hated not to do my part to contribute.

      I always look for a subject that is memorable or I don't want to forget. These journal quilts are supposed to be sketches, hopefully with an edge. On the back of last week's blog's self-portrait (September 3), I added an embroidered hypodermic needle (lots of lidocaine that day) and clock (8 to 5 off and on in surgery); and I will surely add more details to the quilts I am showing this week:

      Coming up is the 25th anniversary of my group at the museum. Almost thirty of us will meet to lunch in Boston this coming week. I found a fabric with paintings (a mix of artists on the front and Seurat on the back). On the reverse, I added a duplicate fabric for a pocket into which I will insert a DVD of all our earlier reunions along with a music fragment of "I'll Be Seeing You." I used a clock again to remind how fast time passes when you are having fun. A glue-gun helped attach beads to the clock to form XXV (25 years). Then I got busy designing a menu.

      One day Joe and I found we could leave Boston at noon, get to Portland ME to see a show at the art museum, stop in Ogunquit at the Oarweed for lobster on the water and return to Boston early in the evening. With Joe's teaching a law class (he never stops laboring), I fear I will lose my September or fall trip to Maine and the many art destinations there. I got those pretty fabrics at the City Quilter in NYC and had been wanting to use them.  The easel is made of bias tape.

Click to enlarge all photos
     And speaking of Joe's non-retirement, he has been gathering little $3.50 pots of cactus at Home Depot that grow to form a little house of horrors. He says cactus is the one plant he can't kill. This quilt commemorates two. A very little one started growing a long, long stem and we didn't know what it was or if we should cut it off. Recently it sprouted lots of little white flowers at the far end. I gave Joe the strange 4 long finger variety. It was his birthday and I needed a present. I saw this bizarre cactus in a window of a Chelsea NYC florist. The four long spikes have grown to four extremely long arms that are loping and encircling all the other I suggested...a Little Shop of Horrors.

 More quilting and details could be added to each.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School Portrait

     Summer vanished. People came and went; and people returned to stay. In the meantime I had to pay for summers as a teen, playing golf and swimming in sunny Texas without using the lifeguard's zinc protection on the nose. It was the 50's, of course, minus the vast information about sunscreen protection we have today.
Click to enlarge.
      So this August I had some Mohs minimal surgery to make repairs, to stem possible damage to my nose. The reason I sewed the experience is that I have a quilt challenge topic of "GREEN" from an art quilt group, Material Mavens. All I could think of was money and grass, but nothing personal. I usually like an emotional connection, as in a journal notation, to create a piece of art. When I hit the surgeon's office, there were GREEN SCRUBS all around with purple accessories. I was excited to finally have a topic! 

       I have used this excellent surgeon in the past. But before beauty there are some ghastly appearances such as swollen jowls and purples. I won't show the big bandages that I craft out of brown tape every morn to cover the wounds. I had neat stitches down one side and a circle to heal by itself on the other. If I added the tape you couldn't see what I am illustrating. I believe in humor to deal with most problems.

        When Material Mavens post GREEN quilts on September 15, I will have more details on the crafting of the piece, and I just thought of some additional graphics to add to this 12" x 12" quilt.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Taking a blogging break with summer guests!

     Summer visitors finally arrived, and I took a break from blogging. We enjoyed the grands while their parents moved house. Then, super niece and nephew, Brittany and Alan Clayton, arrived from Texas. We swam and ate lobsters. Interested in American history, the siblings hit the Freedom Trail, the new MFA wing, and JFK Library among other fine sites. What fun!

Click to enlarge photos.
      When David and Erika stayed with us one weekend, I had a craft found all over the Internet that interested both children...making racing cars from empty TP tubes. We collected tubes for about 4 or 5 cars. They painted the tubes in fast-drying acrylic colors. To make the wheels, I used circle cutters from my TV craft days on ABC's The Good Day Show; but all you need to do is draw circles in cardboard and cut them out (I used some black foam core) .

      You will also cut circles for steering wheels and hubcaps. Attach wheels with pronged fastening brads. Help the children mark and cut the seating area by drawing and cutting an H on top. Check the many Internet sites for varied instructions. Making cars was a lot of fun and a source of pride to the children.

      At the same time, a friend said she was hosting an octopus birthday party. Abby at While She Naps offered a free pattern for an octopus! I had some spotted fleece which I cut up, as she suggested, into 16"x 16" squares,. From that, I cut out 5" squares in the corners. Abby suggests you cut 6 strips on each side and then secure and tie up a  3" styrofoam ball with string. The children braid two legs on each side for a total of 8 octopus legs. If you buy 16" of fleece off a bolt, you'll  have enough left for small blankets. Those 5" square corner leftovers make doll pillows. Abby once encouraged me to blog, saying it encourages productivity.You will enjoy scrolling through her site.

       For the parents' viewing, I left out the cars, octopuses, pillows and blankets, drawings, as well as some Sculpey clay pieces. I got in a little beading. I love vacations.

Sketching and lobsters at Summer Shack


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Crafty Summer Week: Batman Pillowcase, bracelet, and Reveal Day

    The kids have moved back, 20 minutes away, and are now settled in, very happy. When the girls created sundresses, David preferred a Batman shirt. So far, he is getting a Batman pillowcase. It is a one or two hour job if you follow the fabulous instructions on YouTube.

     I Googled How to Make a Sausage Pillowcase. This is the best explanation I have found for this amusing task. I look forward to making some more for the girls and friends for trips. The size fabrics I bought were: body, 23" x 45"; header, 13" x 45" and accent 2" x 45". When I got home I realized my fabrics were only 42" but everything worked out fine! Click to enlarge the photos.

      That same week, The Beadsprouts learned a new bracelet pattern. It is a lot of fun and easy once you get started. I haven't found any instructions on line. Hannah found it a breeze, but I make a silly mistake every time I pick it up again. I'll make some more and try to come up with instructions. The blue and white bracelets are Nita and Luly's inspiration!

       Also, Material Mavens had their Reveal Day. The theme was CELL. I have already posted on how I used Klimt's CELLS, but you might be interested in further information I added on the connection of science and art back at the end of the 19th C Vienna as well as view about 12 quilts with the challenge topic CELL.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stitch a Seam: Summer Sundress!

       Because I was so fussy about my outfits as a young lady, I now do not have the nerve to buy my granddaughters a dress. But I do remember one outfit that was fun to wear! When I saw bolts of material at JoAnn's with elasticized tops that needed only ONE seam to turn it into a sundress...and on sale half price...I thought I would gamble! More than that, it was a stitching craft the children could complete in a short period with success.

       Earlier, I made a quick stop at the store to assess the children's taste, to gather their comments as to what colors and designs they like. I bought about 5" less than a yard after using my hands to suggest to the clerk the children's sizes. The lady cut through the elastic and then ripped the rest. "That is how these frocks-to-be should be cut. And by the way, leave a little larger-than-usual seam binding so that next year you can rip out the seam to enlarge to wear another year," she contributed.

       At home, we measured the outfits, and cut some more. We pinned the sides; and I showed Hannah how to keep her seam straight, by eyeing a marking near the feed dogs. After fitting, we checked where she wanted the hem since she wanted a short rather than a long dress. What we cut off became straps. Then I showed her how to fold the hem twice, for a small hem with perfectly colored thread. She stitched the hem beautifully. I made wrap-the-neck straps she designed.

         Erika sat in my lap to move the fabric to be sewn. She wanted straight straps over the shoulder and thankfully I had some yellow bias tapes to use. They know what they want! I measured and sewed her 2" hem.

       Hannah also had a black and white skirt that had a 2-inch-wide elastic black band. She would find a top for it at home. The girls wore the one or two hour sundresses home and to a cook-out that night. It is WARM in Boston! David did not want a dress. He wants a Batman shirt! I wonder if he would settle for a pillowcase?

Click photos to enlarge. X to close out.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Copying the Master: a Tree of Life

    There is a long tradition of painting from the Old Masters. You have seen artists standing in front of a painting in a museum doing a creditable job on a different scale from the original. I am happiest when I am working from a painting I find meaningful; because I see the painting in so much more detail and insights come to me. This time, I am neither so serious nor so careful. I needed a fabric that didn't exist for a quilt challenge, so I had to paint one...paint my own novelty panel.

     Painting on fabric is a blast. I have foam core that I have covered with clear Contact paper. I tape the sketch down and over it I use masking tape to secure the edges of a piece of muslin. I can see the sketch through the muslin and can trace any image with my Sharpie Rub a Dub Laundry Marker. I got out my Lumiere metallic gold and bronze paints (numbers 561 and 565) and started painting with Princeton brushes within the lines. I don't believe Gustav Klimt was so heavy handed in defining things in his Stoclet Frieze where one views, left to right, Hope, the Tree of Life, and Fulfillment. I painted and painted so happily, often redefining lines with the marker. I had to get out a few other colors for the plants at the bottom of the tree, and the cells, mosaics and other symbols of life and death within the top of the tree.

     After quilting along the lines to a piece of batting, I auditioned the squares and the dashes for the binding and backing. Black and white are always good to absorb color. In this case they remind of the architecture, furniture and clothes in fin-de-siecle Vienna, Austria,  Klimt's time. Klimt's portrait of Emilie Floge uses the dashes effectively. I cut batting and the dashes fabric to 12" x 12".  I cut the checkerboard into a long strip to sew around the edges, finishing by hand on a car trip.

      Science and art were in strong communication in the late 19th Century. Klimt painted the cells he viewed under microscopes and learned about at lectures. He painted in nature and from the nude. Sexual references abound as do flowers and jewels. He merged the decorative arts with painting and was a revolutionary with his spell binding works. Hundertwasser admitted that when he was artistically blocked, he would go to Klimt's works to enlarge parts to his canvas to "take off." Be sure to Google both artists and Images, and perhaps hit the libraries and museums. I love Neue Gallery in NYC and the Minuteman Network of Libraries.