Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Beach

Last week we took a wonderful family vacation to Turks and Caicos. We had never been there before and it lived up to all the hype. The sand is like silk, the water truly is turquoise, and the reefs and aquatic wildlife are amazing. I hope you have a chance to go some day; it's a worthwhile destination. But go soon! There's quite a bit of development going on and I worry that may change the flavor of the islands.

But enough preaching ... I packed a few things so that I could make a journal quilt while I was away. Since I'd never been to the islands and packing space was at a premium, I brought along some embroidery threads, two pieces of beige fabric and a square of blue tulle. Clearly, I had a beach scene in mind when I packed. And, yes, that's what I created here. It was inspired by the view from our room: the huge ocean coming up to the quiet stretch of sand.

All in all, I'm a bit disappointed because I pigeon-holed myself; I think I might have made a better piece if I hadn't had a sub-conscious, pre-conceived notion in my mind when I set aside my supplies. I guess I'll have to really think about this when we take future vacations. But I do like the yellow crayon umbrellas (thanks to what my little one had the foresight to bring!) and I like the texture created by the stitching on the tulle. (This shows up better when you look at the journal quilt at an angle; it looks like it has ripples.) I've also learned I'll need to pack a ruler. I didn't know where my stitching should start and end. When I was home, I ended up having to cut off some of my ocean to make the piece 6x6, while at the same time, I had not filled in all my beach grasses. Ah well, live and learn, right? That's what this is supposed to be about.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Coffee or Cake?

I've had a lot of guests over this week which translates into lots of pots of coffee. You have to understand that this is a big deal for me since neither my husband nor I drink coffee. I love the smell of it, but don't care for the taste. I think I've learned to make a respectable pot, but I always have cream, sugar, and sweets on hand-- just in case I mess up.

Between Valentine's Day and guests, my mind is swirling with images of coffee and cake. Not surprisingly, this week's journal is an abstract of just that ... depending on which way you look at the picture. In one direction, you can imagine the coffee dribblng through the filter with the grounds floating about. Looking at it the other way, it could be a chocolate layer cake with sprinkles. Do you have a preference?

Here's "coffee" (photographed against some brown silk):

And here's "cake":

In case you're wondering, the light brown dots were cut from the coffee filter I used to make the last pot of coffee.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cats, Birds, and Darwin

I love cats; I really do. I had one growing up that I adored and we had one a few years ago until, unfortunately, it had to be returned to the SPCA. We discovered it had feline herpes.

At any rate, please keep that in mind as I say -- I'm saddened by the number of wild birds that are killed each year by pet cats. I'm not blaming the cats; they're only doing what comes naturally. But it makes me sad, nonetheless, when I come across the remains of a bird that's been taken out by Fluffy.

I recently I discovered some feathers on my lawn. They're either from a Hairy or a Downy Woodpecker. Now I must admit that my first reaction was regret: another statistic in the bird column. Then I began to consider the situation more. Maybe, just maybe, the bird that met its demise was the one I've been battling with for years. We've had a pesky woodpecker that insists on claiming our house as its territory, furiously pecking three inch holes all over our house. It's really quite maddening and expensive. Perhaps, with luck, the cat followed its instinct and eliminated a bad egg from the gene pool. Nature and Darwin in action to my benefit. That would be pretty great.

So, as I pondered that question I decided to make a journal quilt from it all. Here are two feathers from the deceased, attached to a black fabric that was stamped with the end of a broken plastic children's toy. The red lines were created with embroidery.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Journal #5

Planning and preparing for, hosting, and then cleaning up after a Super Bowl Party for almost 50 people took far more time than I anticipated. It was lots of fun, but it kept me out of the studio and off the computer.

But here I am now, better late than never. This is my fifth weekly journal and I'm calling it "Orange Peel". I painted the bubble wrap that had protected my son's new dictionary and used it as a stamp. I pulled out a few of my lingering embroidery threads from past projects to practice my stitching. (You can see it still needs a bit of work.) Finally, I retrieved my machine from the repair man just in time to stitch around the outside edge.

In my mind's eye I had hoped to make an abstract waterfall with my threads, but I think I fell short on that. In my opinion, the blues and the metallic gold threads don't show up well enough and the French knots got lost. But I discovered that I had fun working with the bubble wrap "stamp" and I may end up using it as the background for more pieces. It was far more liberating to create something abstract than I expected and I may try that again, too. I think stitching with greater contrast thread will probably lead to a stronger piece next time.