Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentine grandchild: soft card and uke

    Valentine's Day is almost here along with Erika's 7th birthday. I like to make a soft birthday card, a 12" x 12" quilt for a grandchild; but I am more proud of the red ukulele that will excite her.  The card still needs embellishment, but posting time has passed. I will probably add beads and some gold wings from puff paint. Visual solutions are sometimes slower to arrive these days!

     I was very tempted by the Alex Toys My First Sewing Kit, but the temptation of the family ukulele orchestra won out. I found the Hilo toy ukulele at Guitar Stop in Cambridge and was pleased by the sound and the fact that it holds its tune. It is smaller than Hannah's concert ukulele and will be easier for Erika to hold. For her, I ordered the book Jiminy Kokopo's Ukulele Sing and Strum Fun Book. I just received the very thorough Ukulele for Dummies for myself. What a rich find. I am telling you this information so you will join us :*)!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Self Portrait as Crab: another quilting technique

    The Quilters' Connection has free winter workshops. I signed up to take Gladys' impressionistic quilting based on Susan Carlson's book, Serendipity Quilts. I own the book, but had never tried quilting by drawing a picture, gluing tiny bits of my fabric scraps to fill in the subject and free motion quilting atop. I didn't get far...just the crab. I cut it out and quilted it to a sandy looking fabric. Actually, I added a piece of tulle to the top to blend the colors and give extra hold to the teeny fabric pieces. I am still embellishing it, trying to save! This was all fun to do even though I made a zillion mistakes.

    I drew the object, freehand from a photo, onto 14" x 14" muslin using a Sharpie Rub a Dub marker. I grabbed groups of fabric scraps from the drawer where I keep them and gathered them in piles, rainbow pattern. I used Aleene's Tacky glue and a wooden pointed stick to apply the glue to the center of the scraps. Other people like glue sticks in order for ease in shifting the fabric pieces.

     As a present for the teachers, I turned little tins found at Michael's into mini portable hand sewing kits for carrying handwork around the house...magnets in the top for needles and pins, batting in the bottom so beads won't roll away.  The teachers had to add their own small scissors and a bobbin of thread for sewing to my present. Click to enlarge photos. Visit Susan's book at Amazon to read about the technique in more detail.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Family Holiday: Interwoven for Material Mavens

     My Material Mavens journal quilt group has a new theme and posts on Reveal Day, the 15th of every other month. I like to have a personal connection the the subject of these 12" x 12" quilts. This topic "interwoven" was challenging.

      When thinking of what is interwoven, I thought of my family since it was December. The mixing of traditions and family personalities kept leaping to mind. The simultaneous  reading of Middlemarch, with all its interwoven themes, just accentuated the chosen topic.

        I remembered Celtic designs with their intricately intertwining patterns, and researched them on the Internet and in books. Rather than quilting patterns, I was looking for something wilder but still a controlled image.Since there were no fabrics with such designs and appliqueing would take me a year, I decided to enlarge to our 12” x 12” using squares and then paint the piece on muslin. Red and green holiday Jacquard Textile Colors mixed lightly with water left soft the white piece of fabric on which I drew. When the paint was dry, I accentuated the lines of the image with a Sharpie Rub a Dub laundry marking pen that does not bleed but gives a consistent wide mark. I stitched over all the lines with invisible thread to quilt to the batting. I added a red and green backing fabric that came up and over the edge, mitered at the corners. Finally, almost, I attached cheap red carnival beads all around.

       Next, a friend suggested I mount my Family Holiday to a 12” x 12” pre-stretched canvas. I found canvas on sale at Michael’s and the shallowness was perfect for a quilt. I usually like deeper for a painting. I cut a 15” x 15” piece of the backing fabric and lightly centered the quilt and  basted or stitched all around the back edges of the art by hand. I put the quilt, attached to the new backing, face down and dabbed Aleene’s fast- drying tacky glue to the back edges of the 15” x 15” and secured those outer edges to the wood. The result was a painting ready to display...but one with the floating softness of a quilt.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Music making: a crafty interlude

    Bono said that music can change the world because it can change people; whereas George Bernard Shaw warned that hell is full of musical amateurs. But music lifts the spirit, I love to play duets however pitifully, so I try to develop partners.

       Joe played a few recorder duets, but he found 5 minutes exhausting :*). Fun began when Hannah took up her new ukulele and recorder over the holidays. It was a joy to watch her studying the books and getting excited by what she was learning....especially when she said, "LinLin, let's play a duet!" She gave Joe some tips. So many crafts, so little time.

       Both Joe and I were unaware of the use of recorders in orchestras and the existence of ukulele orchestras.

      Scour YouTube if you are interested to hear some fabulous performances or take some free lessons. We are so fortunate to have the Internet.
      I showed both Joe and Hannah many chords, various strums and tabulature reading for the ukulele. The recorder books for soprano and treble recorders surprised me. I was shocked that "treble" books are for the alto recorder. As a self-taught person, this was at first confusing.....notes were created by different fingerings! It is helpful that one can practice quietly by making a simple mute from a narrow short strip of postcard bent to fit over the edge of the window of the recorder. But one must practice constantly I find. How to do it all!