Sunday, May 30, 2010

Preowned Passions: art on the road

Tardy I am this week, to put up my journal quilts and art ideas. But if you see beauty in cars and children, I pass on these photos to you. Bill and I never warmed to riding in the Lotus Elise so Joe found another car in the spirit of an earlier model years ago. The 1954 XK 140 Jaguar he restored and the sons in back are getting older. The grandchildren love the newer model 2003 XKR. It was granddaughter's "first ride ever in a car without a top!" (click cars to enlarge)

Both girls stopped their busy sales at the lemonade stand (signs by the girls) to take a ride. Grandson was particularly interested in constant imbibing and the cookies for sale. Joe said the car exchange was worth the effort to see the smiles on the children's faces!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Boil the water: a journal quilt

One day, people east of Weston, MA were told not to drink the water unless you boil it. A major water pipe had burst and a back-up plan was still in the works. Bottled water was provided by towns. It was sobering to think how to wash the lettuce, remember not to let grandchildren suck on bathtub washcloths, and throw out the ice in the fridge. People bought cases of water. Repairs were made within a few days.

I wanted to make a journal quilt of lines of plastic bottles (there is a fusible vinyl, of all things) standing in for long lines of people which seemed silly to me since one could easily boil the water and use caution. I was going to have flames under the silver pot. All of this I did not do but kept the background of thousands of houses affected, houses with surprise on their faces.

[I returned to add some imperfect handles, fusing bits of silver ribbon; because I wanted balance for all that hot water!]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crafting fun: earrings and dandelions

This morning Erika and I made storyteller dolls with Model Magic and this afternoon I joined my beading group. While friends created beautiful necklaces, I plodded along trying to remember how to make earrings for my unpierced ears to go with my summer outfits. I made these three sets.

After beading I gathered materials for some more plain old fun with little purpose. I got the yellow, green and white wild 'n wooly yarn and pipe cleaners to make varieties of dandelions woven on forks I had viewed on CraftSanity for their Mother's Day blog (click on gray CraftSanity and scroll down to see the tutorial or how to). Abby had told me how much I would enjoy the podcasts at and and I believe you will also! I downloaded over 100 and am learning so much. Grandmothers must BE PREPARED. Summer is nigh.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

AFibs Noirs: A Journal Quilt

This journal quilt is not finished. It needs to be cleaned up, embellished and quilted more; but I felt I must post since it has been a few days. My bete noire, atrial fibrillation, returned four times recently so it must be the subject.

At first I planned a dark cloud over four fibrillating hearts, and they were to be created from the cursing symbols. However, when I got out my fabrics, the ordinary blue sky of my life seemed to be an accidentally perfect background for how I felt (nearer my G....). Then I found the characters for Cinco de Mayo and thought they would serve as memento mori found in paintings to suggest mortality. Joe pointed out that the herky jerky Mexican band is a perfect metaphor for the afibs. I cut out some black fabric for the clouds and got so excited, I glued all down lightly with a gluestick and started sewing with a machine blanket stitch through the three layers (top, batting, backing) right away. Then I went to bed early.
I want to show you a cute quirky tree in my back yard that was about 5 inches when I planted it. Life goes on! If not, I love the Mexican celebrations on Day of the Dead. I want to adopt the holiday! In fact, I may.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Storyteller dolls: a good project

Julia Cameron recommends not only writing 3 uncensored pages a day to get ideas for projects, but she suggests taking an artist's holiday. I did this yesterday, going to Barnes and Noble for my art quilt magazine, where I also found in the creative "kit" section, a Storyteller doll with a book of 20 tales retold by Mary Packard for Metro Books.

I fell hard for Storyteller dolls on a trip to the Southwest. Loving libraries, books and children, I had to have one. I had already bought some oven-bake Della Robbia Clay for myself or to use with the grandchildren. One can roll a ball of clay and push in the middle to make a bowl, pinch the sides and turn it over for a base, add a head with an open mouth for singing or talking, arms and legs, and little children from rolled tubes of clay made into stick figures, attached by scratching/dampening the areas of connection, drying, cooking and painting. The Singer or Storyteller can be a grandparent, animal or whimsical creature. There should be at least 3 or 4 children attached. I am eager to try this project with Hannah and Erika. Many images and the history of these clay pieces can be found on-line. (click for close-up)

P.S. I forgot to say that the grandchildren love to hear "REAL" and "REAL SCARY" family stories. Packard's book has many Hopi quotations:"Hold fast to the words of your ancestors."
This is a good opportunity to gather those stories.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paper piecing: a journal quilt of sorts

Time flies on a Mother's Day weekend. Let me say I LOVEd it. I didn't get the projects made I intended, but enjoyed letting the grandchildren experiment with and cut up fabrics and thankfully take some home.

In the spirit of the weekend, I thought I would finish this paper pieced heart block. I studied Carol Doak's book, Show Me How to Paper Piece. Paper piecing allows beginners and experts to create accurate quilt blocks. According to her, you 1) pin oversized pieces of fabric to preprinted paper patterns; 2) stitch along straight, printed lines with your sewing machine; and 3) tear off the paper patterns to reveal perfect, accurate blocks! She has written several books on the subject, and I certainly needed one to follow! The method is fun and quick and I found it very helpful in creating Dear Jane blocks. (The Jane Stickle 1863 quilt of heroic proportions at the Bennington Museum has inspired thousands of quilters).

P.S. One funny thing happened at the end of the Mother's Day. This little dog, Emmit, got left behind when his family drove off. I cell phoned them to remind and they drove back immediately saying it wasn't on purpose! (Emmit, in charcoal, is lifesize.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Beth: a journal quilt

This week I am doing, not one, but two journal quilts...and really there should be a third for the east of Weston MA big water pipe break.

But this is Mother's Day weekend. I subjected my daughter-in-law, Beth, mother of my three grandchildren, to a quilt portrait: I put tea or coffee cups in the background because she makes me welcome at any time, and is always offering coffee, tea or supper. She is a devoted mother. The three paper dolls make her crown, and she always has plenty of bags on her shoulders.

Who will be next in this two hour exercise. Thanks to Clara Wainwright and Adrienne Robinson for the inspiration for this sort of casual portrait quilt and to Geri Barr for the idea of these sketches, 8"x 8" journal quilts, one a week for a year. Hoping not to portray Beth so horrifically as I do myself, I used the stamp filter on Photoshop Elements for a teeny bit of help, but mostly, I cut out free hand and scribbled with the glue stick and sewing machine.
Click to enlarge.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Framing to fit

Yesterday I saw a fabulously creative puppet exhibition in Newton at the New Art Center and have a few photos which I hope to share later. Today I am housebound, but from a window I can take a photo of our hawthorn tree with its little red flowers, white centers, before the squirrels decimate it. I wasn't smart enough to appreciate the tree over a maple shade tree when the town planted it (I came from the Dust Bowl); but now I love it! (click on it to see better)

Also, I want to show you the frame I made to hold Beth's needlepoint while I work on it. I cut some 1/4- inch birch plywood to fit the Work in Progress bag I bought in the Whitney Museum shop. I drilled a hole in the center of the wood, then cut out the inside with my small table jigsaw I got at Sears years ago when Joe and I married. (In 7th grade, in Amarillo, students spent half a year or semester in the homemaking area and the same in shop, both boys and girls. I have loved to sew and bake and had a motorized saw ever since.) I was not meticulous, but sanded the frame, gave it a shot of spray varnish, thumb-tacked the canvas on, and got to to work using the Mighty Lite I had bought for reading in the dark and had forgotten I owned. It is good for seeing needlepoint.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Funny Face: a journal quilt

This afternoon, I felt I should make a journal quilt about the water supply problem in Boston. However, I was still curious to make a portrait like the ones Clara Wainwright led the townspeople of Gloucester to make (see Sunday's post, May 2). I thought I would create one of Beth for Mother's Day with the children on her necklace; and then make all my friends for a quilt or get them to. Then I decided since this would not be a realistic portrait, it might not be fair to subject friends and family quite yet. YET!

So....I prepared a background for my visage. Thank goodness I don't look that way. I cut out pieces of fabric, free hand, thinking teaching, books, crafts, drawing. I held the fabric scraps in place by light dabs of glue. Then I tried different feet on the sewing machine (mistake). Very messy. Then it became apparent I would need to use netting for the unraveling elements. I understand only maroon netting works. Here is the monster! Artists never give up but maybe sometimes they should :*)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Needlepointing Neal

A good way to start the week is with some small muscle handwork. The Monday Club met with people involved with needlepoint, bead crochet, sweater knitting and food provision! On future Mondays, I hope to finish Beth's needlepoint for the children's doors, to be made easier with Julia's Mighty Bright light if I can find one.

Since I seldom finish needlepoint work, I wanted to show you my solution for finishable projects. I made bias tape (there is a little machine for this at quilt stores) to fit around the bookmark-size canvas and" gluestick-ed" it to sew. I had the hole punch from long ago, but the tassles aren't necessary. I needed a birthday present for good friend Neal, a reader, and spelled out his name with nautical flags. His wife Jean absconded with it; so I will have to make her one as well. I started another for Beth but my canvas weave was too tight to finish quickly. I used DMC floss but yarn is fine; and I found canvas at a craft store. After needlepointing the name, you blind stitch the cover on the back. I hope the photos (click to enlarge) make this clear.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sun, Water and Paint

What sunny days! We took off for the North Shore to see Clara Wainwright's "Surrounded by Water" quilt show in Gloucester at the Cape Ann Museum, had lobster rolls at Captain Carlos', and picked up a cone and strolled, watching the children dip their toes in the ocean. I can't wait to try the sort of fabric portraits Clara made with the townspeople of Gloucester with my family and friends. Her other quilts were painterly, staggeringly beautiful, narratives with mystery, grand color and texture. Joe and I keep reflecting on the wonderful exhibition. If you go, watch the DVD of Clara in action.
The grandchildren spent the Saturday night with us and we survived today to drop in Open Studios again, to see good encaustic and portrait painting, and bump into old friends. Since I last wrote, I have sewed some canvas covers for needlepoint bookmarks, made some calling cards, and piled some filler and blanks for journal quilts. But I have no new art to show.
Always looking for a quick solution, I toyed with how people who don't paint could create a family not modeled. The photo, filtered in Adobe Photoshop or Elements, projected to say to 4' x 5', or any size, would have to have hard edges, lines that could be filled in with paint. I came up with three filters (cutout, posterize and stamp) on Adobe. I think these have possibilities in the right setting and could be accomplished by anyone with time and patience. I am fond of the monochrome, but anything goes, if you are not prejudiced against "paint by numbers."