Saturday, March 29, 2008

Better Late than Never

Before we left on our Easter trip, I rubbed over a palm leaf with different colored crayons.  Since that didn't end up looking particularly exciting, I colored over it all with Shiva Paintsticks using a leaf stencil.  Yesterday I finally had the chance to finish this up.  I took scraps from a wonderful hand-dyed I bought from Susan Schrott  and cut squares to be the backdrop to leaves I had in my stash. 

I was planning to lay the leaves neatly inside the squares so you could see the leaf veins, but my eldest daughter said that was boring.  Instead, she suggested that I let the leaves fall as they may since that was more in keeping with the random nature of the leaves in the background.  It seemed like a good idea, so that's just what I did.  It certainly is unexpected and more dynamic.  Now that I think it's complete, here's a picture of the journal quilt for last week:Random Foliage. What do you think of the off-kilter leaves?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Quilt

Stretching Art and Tradition is celebrating its tenth year as an exhibit at Quilter's Heritage in Pennsylvania. This year, the theme of the exhibit is aptly, "10". Quilters were asked to create pieces that expressed "ten" -- and liberal interpretations of the theme were welcomed.

I decided to create a piece celebrating the ten fingers / ten toes that new parents are always thankful for. My piece has three rows in it, one for each of our three children. Within each row are twenty flesh-tone pieces that represent the total fingers and toes of each child. (One row has an extra piece for good luck.) And finally, I painted our youngest daughter's hands and feet and used them as prints on the quilt. I've named the piece, Ten Blessings - Twofold.

This is quite a departure from my usual work. I've never created anything that is so abstract outside of my journal quilt experiments. Since it is such a different style for me, I would sincerely like some critique. I really enjoyed making it and am wondering if there are more quilts like this in me. What do you think? Should I pursue this?

Full quilt (20" x 16"):

Detail picture:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Desert in Bloom

Greetings from Arizona! There's no art to post because we've been here in Arizona since Thursday to spend Easter with my husband's parents and I forgot to pack my quilting supplies. But even though I've goofed in regards to my journal quilts, I thought you might enjoy a few pictures of the desert in bloom. The colors are so vibrant and there's an incredible variety in the flora. I took these pictures while we were on a hike in the Cave Creek Regional Park. Enjoy!

Brittle bush on the hillside with cacti:

Desert Hyacinth:


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Supplies from the Butcher

I must say that I'm anxious for the end of virus season. We have been attacked by the stomach virus as if it's a villain in the night. It's pillaged and plundered our family without pause, taking even our youngest family members. I've had little time to do anything but clean up, make toast and pour ginger ale.

What this also required was that I keep things simple as far as art is concerned. I've had to put major projects and deadlines on hold (thank you Susan Heydt!) because I can't get to my machine. Instead, I've had to squeeze in little things here and there. While my youngest -- the latest victim -- colored for a bit, I quickly etched a doodle in the styrofoam plate from the bottom of the ground turkey. In two minutes I blotched on some paint and pressed a piece of muslin to it. The next day we looked at the results; it was actually pretty nice. I sorted through beads while we watched "Bugs Life" and I quickly stitched beads on today while my husband, home from a business trip (hurray!), diverted everyone.

I'd like to use this little doodle "press" again, but with different colors next time. I'll also try to take more time when I do this again since I think I rippled this piece a bit in my rush. All in all though, I like this piece. Maybe more beads next time.... or colors set in specific locations ... or embroidery ... I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, here's a picture; the metallic paint made it harder to photograph than I thought. It looks a bit washed out. Surprising.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Something New: Dumpster Diving

Technical difficulties have prevented me from blogging, emailing, etc, but here I am! Let me show you what I have from last week:

I definately tried something new. As I walked my dog one morning, I came across a pile of rubbish at the curb, waiting to be taken away. In the midst of it I saw some carpet padding that had the most wonderful collection of colors within it. I've never really looked at carpet padding before, but in the early morning light and perhaps, because I was a bit sleep deprived, the padding looked very interesting -- so I pulled off a piece to take home. Dumpster diving (in its suburban form) is a new thing for me, but I was proud I was trying to make art by recycling trash.

This padding really is a mishmash of colors; does anyone know why that is? Anyway, I thought it would be fun to use it as the background for some multi-colored circles. (Clearly I haven't gotten circles out of my system.) I had a plan but as it turned out, it simply wasn't going to be. I discovered that the padding was way too thick to fit under my presser foot. I obviously hadn't thought of that. So I took the foot off, but the needle couldn't go up and down completely. That, as they say, was that.

In the end, I still used a collection of circles as the design. I ran a simple running stitch around the edges to secure the pieces. I couldn't accomplish more than this because again, I hadn't realized how thick and stiff the padding is. It's tough to stitch through!

Was it worth it to create such a simple piece with unconventional materials? Well, this certainly counts -- for me -- as taking a risk and trying something new. Is it a successful piece? I think it's better than my previous week's piece with the silver "6" and I do like the colors. Will I do it again? No way! My fingers are still sore from stitching this! The remainder of the padding is back where it started: in the trash.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Silver Lining

You may have noticed that I was a bit tardy posting my journal from our week away. Well, it's not that I was unpacking or catching up on things; it was because I was suffering from a nasty stomach and abdominal bug. It started last Sunday night and continued to wreak havoc through Monday night. On Tuesday, I was able to stomach two glasses of ginger ale and a slice of toast. By Wednesday, I was up and about, but I was weak and my appetite still had not returned. It's no wonder the frail succumb to these viruses.

Well, here it is on Sunday and it's time to post my journal quilt for the week. Given that my week was dominated by the bug I caught, I was at a bit of a loss for inspiration. With no other ideas in mind, I decided to focus on the silver lining of my brief illness: the six pounds I lost in two days. For me, that's cause for celebration. I've been struggling to lose some tonnage and the microscopic vermin gave me the jump start I needed. Yippee!

"6-The Silver Lining" was created with gold and silver foils. I hadn't played with them in a while and needed a refresher. I quilted the piece using four different brands of metallic threads. I wanted to experiment and improve my skills here, too. I discovered that I really like Sulky Metallic thread; I used it as the gold border outline. Do you have a favorite metallic I should try?

This isn't a particularly artful journal quilt -- in fact, it could easily be called ugly -- but it was cathartic to create something out of my yucky week. I believe that my little artistic experiments here, along with helping me grow creatively, are documenting little bits and pieces of my life beyond quilting. I think that's pretty cool and a wonderful side benefit to this exercise.