Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gifted Ornaments

I hosted a Christmas luncheon yesterday for 12 of my non-quilting friends. (More about my quilting friends later). I did all the cooking and following my niece's form, I served Pumpkin Pie Martinis to start, so delicious and everyone wanted the recipe. I was delighted to receive some lovely gifts including these five new additions to my trees.

This sparkly high heeled slipper fit right into my living room tree with all silver, white and gold ornaments.

As did this one made out of ribbon and fashioned to look like a rose, so pretty.

Everyone knows that I love Santas and this one was so unusual.  He's made of a small gourd and comes from Peru.

How about this handsome Parisian Santa with his easel, painting by the Eiffel Tower?  A real charmer!

And last but certainly not least, this winning Scottish Santa playing the bagpipe.

Now for my quilting friends.  I am hosting another luncheon tomorrow, but that will be much easier than yesterday's.  It's a much smaller group since so many will be out of town and its a potluck, so all I have to make is the meat course, a spiral baked ham, doesn't get much easier than that.  I love entertaining over the holidays and getting to share my festive home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Santas

If you follow my blog you know how much I love to decorate for Christmas.  Among other things, I put up two big trees.  The one in the living room has all silver, gold and white ornaments and the one in my family room has all Santa and red ornaments.  It's a big tree and there's always room for one or two new ones each year.

When I'm traveling I try to find a Santa from that country.  I looked and looked on my Canadian Rockies trip and the best I could find was this ice fishing Polar Bear with a Santa hat.  If you look very carefully you will see the fish he caught at the end of the line.

I am especially find of glass Santa ornaments and this little guy with a bottle-brush tree wanted to come home with me, so he did.

I could not resist this New York City Santa with the Empire State Building all decorated in red and green and the Big Apple with the I Love NY logo.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I enjoy sending Christmas cards and am vey fussy about what I buy.  I especially like three dimensional ones, though they often require extra postage, so I don't do that as often.  I also love to get cards and it seems like such a shame to throw them away, so I have bundles of cards from previous years.

This year when I was getting out my supplies of new cards and a few left from last year, I came across a card that I had sent to a friend and that had been returned to me.  She was in a nursing home and sadly had been moved to the dementia wing so I never did resend it.  I thought it was such a cute card and tried to come up with a way that I could use it again.

I also like to wrap my gifts in attractive ways and thought that if I cut this card down, it would make a great package tag, something of which I always seem to run short. So I cut off the inside part of the card with the sentiment and writing, folded the front in half, using a boner for the crease, trimmed it way down, and voila, a nice little tag.

It was originally a horizontal card with a very long scarf to the left and more snow to the right.  Now the scarf wraps around to the back,  Those are real little buttons.  Isn't he cute?

So that got me to thinking about what I could do with some other cards and I went through all of my cards from last year.  They don't all adapt to this technique. Some are folded vertically as above where they open like a book or horizontally making a tag that opens from the bottom. If it has been written on on the inside of the front, you can't use it.  Some were small cards that could not be folded  but they could be used as a tag that you write on the front.

I will go through all those cards I have stored in the basement at a later date, but now I have to go and address this year's cards.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quilt Tree

Last Friday my FiberWorks group took a road trip to The New Britain Museum of American Art to see the exhibit, Let Me Quilt for One More Day, an exhibit of quilts from the 1700's to present day.  I was thrilled to be one of the invited contemporary artists.  I showed you my quilt a while back when we had a SAQA meeting at the museum.  No photography was allowed, so no pictures of the other quilts.  Suffice it to say that it was a wonderful show, beautifully displayed.

In the lobby there was this huge 16 foot tree covered with small quilts, all for sale.  I have three small (postcard size) hanging there.

There were seven other trees at the museum, each one coordinating with the gallery in which they were installed.  For example there was a Victorian tree in the Moser Library and a very modern white tree in the Contemporary Gallery.

As I've said before, this is a great museum with a fabulous permanent collection and photography was allowed in the rest of the museum. This very large piece by Nobu Fokui caught our eye from a distance and we all thought it looked like a quilt.  As you got closer you could see the amazing detail.

The current exhibit is on until Jan. 5, but the museum always has something interesting to see.  

I'm linking up with Off The Wall Friday.  Go see what everyone is up to this week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's a Good Thing

You've often heard me talk about things that I've done with the Woman's Club, of which I am a member.  I've been on numerous trips to various museums, New York City, points of interest, and many other things and many lunches.  What you may not realize is that our club, the Woman's Club of Danbury/New Fairfield, is part of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs of Connecticut. We are basically a service organization dedicated to uniting women in the community by promoting educational, philanthropic and fellowship activities. We also have a lot of fun in the various fellowship groups such as hiking, bridge, canasta, Lunch Bunch, golf, bowling, Flick Chicks, book club and many more.

Our club's biggest fundraiser is our poinsettia sale, where we presell plants in November and then deliver the plants in early December.  It is a huge undertaking and this year we sold over 3,000 plants or $50,000 worth.  All of the profits are donated to local charities and given to five local high schools for scholarships.  Every year we get better and better.  More that $460,000 had been raised for the organizations in the Danbury area since the club was founded in 1982.

This past Tuesday was our distribution day.  The plants are delivered at 6AM in two huge delivery trucks.  We always hope for decent weather and this year was pretty good, cold, with no snow, ice or rain.  We have a cadre of husbands who unload the trucks and then the members empty the boxes and set them in rows according to size and color.  There are five different sizes and three colors and prices range from $10 to $30 apiece.  The empty boxes are filled with orders to be delivered.  It is a masterpiece of organization.  All the orders are usually filled and delivered by 1PM.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but there are many, many volunteers, each with a specific job.

Then there is the food.  I like to help out in the kitchen.  We start with breakfast food and coffee, lots of coffee, to feed the hungry workers.  About 10:30 lunch is set out in the form of sandwiches, pizza and desserts.  All the food is donated by members, too.

It's a busy day, but very rewarding.  In April we have our Celebration of Giving, where we invite representatives of the various charities to our luncheon meeting and hand out the checks.  It's a good thing!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fiber Art For a Cause

I am delighted to announce that I am an invited artist for “The 100” to be held on Wed., Feb. 4, 2015. The goal for this fiber fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is to raise $10,000 in one day. And February 4 is my birthday, what a nice way for me to celebrate.

This is Virginia Spiegel's baby.  Fiberart For A Cause has already raised $240,000 through the generosity of fiber artists and patrons. In 2015, her goal is to bump that amount up to a nice, round quarter of a million dollars. 

I’m sure you will want to be one of the very exclusive 100 patrons who will be randomly assigned artwork from an extraordinary line-up of international fiber artists.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Creativity

As I have in the past several years, I went to my niece's for Thanksgiving and as always her creativity in cooking and table decor were over the top.  She never does the same thing twice.

I forgot to take pictures of her Pumpkin Martinis that we imbibed before dinner with scrumptious appetizers.  She coated the martini glass rims with crushed graham crackers and it tasted like an alcoholic pumpkin pie (which I love) in a glass.

I did take a few pictures

This year her tablecloth was an embroidered silk with couched ribbons.  The roses and tulips were a perfect shade of apricot and the pumpkins were silver to coordinate with the silver chargers.

The soup was pumpkin/peach with a creme fraiche and toasted pumpkin seed garnish. I didn't take pictures of the rest of the meal, but it was the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings and everything was delicious.  I love Thanksgiving.

At my house this weekend I will be taking my Autumn decor down and starting to decorate for Christmas.  It's a huge undertaking and getting harder to do as I get older, so I am hiring a young man to get the two trees and all the trimmings from the basement, but I will do everything else myself.  I know it's a lot of work and most of my friends are scaling back, but I love the way the house looks and I will keep doing it as long as I can.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old Friend

Martha Sielman is publishing a new art quilt book, this one Abstract and Geometrics, right up my alley so I entered the two photos that you were allowed to be considered for the book.  I did not expect to be chosen as one of the feature artists, but was hoping at least to be in the running for the Gallery section of the book and that is what I got. She chose my Salsa City, one of my Configuration series, but wanted a new picture at a very high resolution.  I had to take the quilt out of storage to re-photograph it and I  had forgotten how much I like this quilt. It was like visiting an old friend. The colors just sing out and seem so perfect for this Thanksgiving season.

This quilt was made a few years ago for a special art quilt exhibit that the Houston show does every year.  That year the theme was Town and Country and I thought that another Configuration quilt would be just the thing.  It was a juried show and I was delighted to have mine accepted and I got to see it hanging at Houston. Unfortunately the exhibit traveled for three years and when I got my piece back it was too old to enter into any of the important shows.  So it has been rolled up and languishing on a quilt storage shelf in the guest room closet. I would love to see this hanging in a public space.  It certainly would brighten up a room. 


I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving however you choose to spend it.  I will be at my niece's, as usual enjoying her gourmet cooking and spectacular decorating.  Right now it is snowing like crazy here, but they promise a sunny day tomorrow so I'll be good to go.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday where Nina Marie wrote a great blog about being thankful for creativity and then see what some other creative people are up to.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How Sweet It Is

Every time I go to a big quilt show I drool all over the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen machines.  As happy as I am with my two Berninas, I loved the idea being able to sit down with a long arm and work on a bigger quilt with ease.  It has 16 inches of throat space and eight inches of vertical space.  I tried it at shows more than once, but never thought I had room for one in my very crowded studio.  But I had an L-shaped desk unit with my computer on one leg of the L and my desk on the other and my printer in the corner between the two.  Now that I have a lap top and a wireless printer, I no longer needed that part of the desk.

This is nothing like a regular stand-up long arm machine in which you move the machine to make the quilting stitches or you can set it to use a pantogram and it quilts all by itself.  On a regular long arm, which is huge and takes up a whole room, the whole quilt is attached to a frame.  On my new machine it is like free motion quilting with any domestic sewing machine.  You still have to move the quilt around under the machine, it's just that you have more room.  I like to describe free-motion quilting to the uninitiated like this.  Imagine that someone is holding a pencil straight up and down and you are moving your paper under that pencil to get your drawing. You have to coordinate how fast you move the quilt with how hard you push down on the foot pedal.  Move too fast and you get big galloping stitches, too slow and you get tiny, tiny stitches.  You want to strive for consistent stitch length (a quilt judges's favorite comment).

Soooo... I ordered one at Houston and it arrived the other day.  Today I had two strong young men carry the desk and a filing cabinet out of the studio and into my car to go to Good Will and move my new table and machine in place.  It is in front of a window and looks like it was always there.

The sales rep from the Quilt Basket in Pawling, NY is coming over in a couple of weeks to set it all up for me and show me the ins and outs of it all.  The threading and the bobbin are a little different that my Bernina and I sure don't want to screw it up.  I don't have a big quilt to quilt right now so I certainly can wait and in the meantime I can admire it and dream of happy quilting sessions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One More Small Piece

This one is for my guild's challenge.  It's not due until January, but with the holidays coming up, I don't want anything hanging over my head.  The theme this year is Simply Solids.  Only solid fabrics can be used, no tone-on-tone, no prints that read as a solid, no batiks, no mottled.  You probably know that most of my quilts are made with my hand-dyes, but I purposely make them mottled.

I toyed with a lot of ideas and decided to go with one more with fine-line piecing since they are so much fun to do. I went to my small box of solids and was determined to use what was in there and not buy anything new.  I originally wanted do something bright, but they were not in the box, so I went with some very "un-Norma" colors.  I had a lot of browns left from Brown Planet and I picked a coral, a bright pink, a very pale blue and very pale green although those last two read pretty much the same in the quilt.

What surprised me was how the pinks receded into the background and the pale colors jumped to the front.  I liked that!

Frazzled   16" x 18'

Again, I decided to do a lot of free-motion quilting in the open areas.  It's a little hard to see the brown thread on the brown fabric, but it does give an added interest. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see more detail and more of the quilting.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.  Go see what some very talented artists are doing this week.