Thursday, December 29, 2011

Atara's Art: a colorful life

     At a meeting of the Studio Art Quilt Association ( SAQA) at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Ma., I was intriqued and moved by Atara Halpern's work, so much so that I phoned her in a neighboring town to see when I could look at it again.
Click to enlarge all photos!

    In no time at all, this generous soul who did not know me had provided a delightful lunch and invited me into her quilting bee where I met other clever people from a neighboring guild.

      Surprise is important for fun and Atara delivers when we meet. Mid-December she laid out her hand-stitched colorful place mats which have metallic free machine stitching for the quilting. She embellished them with the colorful lunch for the bee. Hand stitching, as in these place mats, is fun to have to work on when traveling.

      Atara showed us the first quilt she made, combined in parts, for her bedroom seven years ago. She made more quilts.  The Secret Garden below is one of many shared in a quilt show. She is now working on another Secret Garden.  Since I have been doing some sashiko, I was interested in this other quilt she "saved" from a too loose fabric by close straight hand stitching.

        Apologies for only a few snapshots of all the many interesting, moving works Atara has created. I had to twist her arm to get these. I will be so glad when she has a website so others can see her portfolio of fine hand work...such as the Gardens of Cambridge and other quilts with links to literature. Of course, you really need to see them in person...the buildup of grass and trees, rock and bark, for surface excitement and feel the hours of thought that have gone into the densely hand-stitched creations.

The Secret Garden

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sneak Preview with Shorts

      Ann encouraged me to join a Round Robin quilt group. (This posting is a secret since the work is not to be seen before reveal day. However, everyone is busy. My RR group does not know about my blog,  and I want a blog/record.) I am a novice quilter and have never made a big quilt. I met with the group, presented my medallion to be set on point, and took home Evelyn's. She had paper pieced a detailed compass and provided fabrics. For the first round, we were given intricate (to me) mathematical formulas to use to set the corner triangles. Not wanting to ruin quilting for myself by following formulas, I set out as I do with journal quilts:  I cut and paste to see what develops.

     I got out my trusty Shape Cut Plus and rotary cutter to slice up some strips of fabric. This ruler helps to cut strips fast and straight. The problem comes trying to size and to fit the finished triangle. I did not do a perfect job at all, but I tried.

      We are supposed to have fun and take chances. I will pass my work on to Rosemary and receive a medallion with corners from Evelyn for the next round. On Rotation two, we are to add a pieced border 2 inches to 6 inches wide. We may use squares or rectangles. We are to border all four sides and add a framing piece around the outer edge of our completed work. Egads. I may need instruction.

        After each stage we take photos, but somehow the owner (who will keep the quilt begun with her medallion) won't see any work on her quilt until all rounds are complete on Reveal Day.

      I am eager to get back to Sashiko which I so enjoyed Thanksgiving evenings. It is meditative and fun for grandchildren. The straight stitches are something young children can do to also have a product (pillow, coasters). It can prepare me for hand quilting and moderation :*) I have put some projects in stockings. Although I have posted on Sashiko before, you must visit Ellen Katz's blog "File Under Fiber" for a solid introduction.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Building Boxwood Trees: a tradition

Read first "Comment" below the blog.  This is a repeat offering. :*)

Click to see Chrissy's tree shape
   Each year Nancy has the Beadsprouts to her home to make boxwood trees for the season. I didn't realize I would blog on this so I don't have a full set of pictures, but I have enough information for you to "take off!"

Note Debbie's joy and Nancy's gold container, oasis, tape and position of boxwood twigs
Nita is making a smaller one for her mother's table, and Linda B. a fuller one

  To build a boxwood tree, soak an oasis in the sink until the green "brick" is filled with water. Place the oasis in a container that can hold water, where the tree can be carved and all secured like wrapping a present w string only with floral tape. The edges of the block are sliced to shape somewhat like a bloated tree, easily done with a carving knife. After taping the oasis securely to the base, the collected boxwood limbs are cut with pruning shears to various lengths and are inserted in the oasis. The lower branches angle down, the midway branches go more horizontally and the upper branches shape up to a point at the top of the tree.

Enlarge all photos by clicking on them
   Then the fun continues as you see that everyone's tree already has a different personality. You will add bows and ornaments, even flowers, such as those on the my Costco purchase. I was baby sitting and would not get to make one this year. The ladies saw to it that four-year-old Erika did make a miniature tree in 30 minutes and decorate it before we had to leave to pick up Hannah at school.

     Get some friends to join you in the making and be sure to water your tree daily.  P.S. There are little floral spikes with wire that are handy for adding ornaments and bows....