Saturday, July 19, 2014

Enchanting Echinacea




I think I'm safe in saying that the Echinacea is a staple in most perennial gardens in the northeast, where I live.  Commonly known as the purple cone flower, it is easy to grow and plays well with friends.  I have quite a few in my back garden, planted with day lilies in various colors and rudbeckia.  They have intermingled very happily and are so thick that nary a weed can penetrate the bed.  I also have some in a light cream.   I never knew that they came in other colors until I went to the nursery today and was totally smitten by these new varieties, new to me anyway.

I didn't know where I was going to put them because my garden is pretty full, but I remembered that I had planted a yellow knockout rose last summer.  It was a huge disappointment.  While the buds were a pretty yellow, the open flowers were a wishy-washy white and for some reason it was very straggly looking this year.  So out it went making room for my three new plants. I also had to transplant some blue salvia, more about that later.





Isn't this amazing?  This one is named Evening Glow Coneflower and it does seem to glow.  I like the fact that the flowers on the plant are all a slightly different color from each other.





This beauty is Orange Passion Coneflower and while I'm not a huge fan of orange, this one spoke to me.






Double Scoop Raspberry Cone Flower.  How's that for a name?  It is a luscious deep raspberry rose red with a big fluffy center and a double row of short petals.






Here they are in their new home surrounded my blue salvia, which is just coming into bloom.  It will soon look like the ones around my mailbox in the front of the house where they get more sun. See the next photo. The new coneflowers will be twice as tall next year and twice as wide and should really make a statement.






Here are the blue salvia around the mailbox.  Aren't they lovely?






I just had to show you this, the first Stargazer lily of the season to open.  There are many more in full fat bud. I just love them for their stately presence and their heavenly aroma.

I spent all morning in the garden, planting (I did a lot more than the cornflowers), fertilizing and spraying for deer and bunnies (I'm at war).  Now to get back to my studio.  My new quilt is calling.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Pictures Allowed!

It seems strange to write a post about photography without pictures, but today I finally photographed SW5 Big Green Diptych (my  online dictionary does not recognize this word, but it means two pieces of art joined by a hinge).  I have always photographed my own quilts and have been accepted into some top shows that way, but today I was having problems and I almost called in a pro.  But I kept at it.  I have a photography "studio" in my garage.  That means that I have a big foam core board covered with black velvet with gray felt on top of that, depending on how dark or light the quilt is.  Today I went with the gray.  I have professional lights and a tripod for my camera.

One trick is getting the lights in the right spot so that you don't get hot spots.  Then you have to make sure that your camera is at the same height as the center of your quilt.  And your camera has to be perfectly level. I have a small level on the tripod, which is good for knowing the camera is level from left to right, but none for whether the camera in level up and down.  So I took many, many shots, eight or ten at a time, then ran up to my studio to download them and see if I got it right.  I know that my quilt is perfectly squared off, but if the angle of the camera is wrong, you get a parallelogram, not a rectangle.  Arghhhh!!  Frustration, but I finally got it right.  I actually used my iPone for the details and they came out great.

But I am reminded of the bad old days when you had to send in slides.  You had to buy the expensive film (remember film?), take 36 shots, send them off to be developed (also expensive) and hope you got two or three that were decent. Sometimes you wouldn't and you'd have to do it all over again.  Digital is soooo much better.

So I filled out the digital entry online, uploaded the two photos, one of the over-all quilt including the edges and one detail to show the stitching, filled in the part so they could get my $45 from my Visa for the entry fee and hit SEND. BTW that's $45 per quilt. You can enter up to three. The entry deadline is Sept. 12 and I will find out a couple of weeks after that.  I think I deserve a glass of wine!
Or chocolate!




Sunday, July 13, 2014

I'm in Quilting Arts!

My Quilting Arts magazine came yesterday and I was thrilled to see my "Of Cabbages and Kings" given a full page with a detail.  This was part of the SAQA CT exhibit that traveled to three venues last year.  Eight of the thirty-seven who had quilts in the exhibit were invited to send their quilts to the magazine for possible inclusion in an article about the exhibit.  I mailed my quilt awhile ago and quite frankly had forgotten about it. So I was quite happy to see it there. 



I have had my quilts published in magazines before and many books, but this is my first time in Quilting Arts, my all time favorite quilting magazine. It is full of wonderful things, an abundance of art quits to drool over and new and interesting techniques to try, so go pick up a copy if you don't already subscribe. 
I've linked this up to Off the Wall Fridays.  Go see what everyone is up to and be sure to leave some comments.  We all love comments.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Artful Outing

Yesterday my FiberWorks group took a field trip to New Haven, CT instead of our regular Friday meeting.  Our purpose was twofold.  First we went to see an exhibit at the Yale Center for British Art, Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower: Artist's Books and the Natural World.  It was a wonderful exhibit, but no photography was allowed.  You can read all about it here.

After the museum we went right next door to the Atticus Bookstore Cafe  for a delicious lunch.  This is an independently owned book store, a rarity these days, right near the Yale campus. I wish we had more time to spend there because in addition to the books they had a huge selection of wonderful cards.  I usually buy cards when I travel and add them to my stash at home, so that I am not limited to the Hallmark cards we can buy locally. Nothing against Hallmark, but I do like something more unusual.

And then we were on to our next destination, to visit the quilt that I sold last winter to the Yale-New Haven Hospital's Fetal Medicine Center.  The ribbon cutting ceremony was last March when I was in Florida, so this was the first chance I got to see it hung.



Mine was hung in a hallway and I couldn't stand back far enough to get a good squared-off view.





This gives you an idea of how it was mounted in this shadowbox-like frame, wired for security.




The very nice metal plaque hanging beside it.





Vivika DeNegre, the current editor of Quilting Arts, who was instrumental in having the powers that be look at my website and choose my quilt, also had a very large commissioned piece hanging in the same room. My piece was abut 50" square and hers looked twice as wide as mine. I think they must have painted the wall to match her quilt.  Anyway it looked great!




I loved the way she quilted it.  



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pieced Binding

I've been sewing the binding on Big Green, piecing it as I go to match the edges.  It's rather tedious and time consuming, but I think it is worth it.  I am treating this as two separate quilts that will hang side by side.  One side is completely finished, including the hanging sleeve and the second side is all machine sewn down with the hand work to do. A couple more nights of TV and the hand work will be done.  I almost always do my machine sewing during the day and my hand sewing in the evening.







This looks a little lumpy because it is still pinned on the back.  When it is hand sewn, it will be smooth.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Magnificent Met

Yesterday four friends and I drove into NY to see an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We are so very fortunate to have this fantastic museum, the largest art museum in the county with over two million works of art, only an hour's drive away. You could easily spend days there and not see everything.  But we went specifically to see one exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion.  Quite frankly I had never heard of him and perhaps you never did either, but he was a huge influence on fashion in the 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond. Each ball gown was a work of art and an incredible fabric sculpture. The room was very dark with each gown on a pedestal with an ongoing video at its base that explained the construction.  My words definitely fail here, so please go here and click on the second video down on the page. I also did not take any pictures in that room because it was so dark. I've never been to an exhibit put on by their costume department that did not wow me and this was no exception.

As we walked through the museum from one gallery to another I was constantly overtaken with awe at the amazing and beautiful things to see.  I took a lot of pictures, but I'm just posting a few that caught my eye.

An exhibit of gold chalices.



This charming frieze high up on the wall had a companion piece on the opposite side of the room, Each one told a story.


This rooftop garden on the fifth floor was like an elevated park.  There were no flowers or sculptures, but just a floor of mostly astro-turf that was quite cushy to walk on and fabulous views of the city.  They had a small stand where you could buy drinks, alcoholic or otherwise and sandwiches.  People were strolling around or sitting on the "grass" drinking and eating.  We had already indulged in lattes and scones at a cafe inside, so we didn't get anything, but their martinis were tempting.


This is a view looking down on a small section of the Grand Hall, where you enter the building from 5th Avenue. This looked like a group of school girls on the bench.


I don't remember the significance of the stag entirely covered with clear glass balls , but  I thought it was incredible.

This fierce fellow was at the entry to an exhibit about the Edo period in Japan. He was larger than life.

This and the next photo were from the Temple of Dendur room








It was an absolutely perfect weather day, in the high 70's, no humidity and not a cloud in the sky.  We walked over 86th Street to 3rd Avenue to have a late lunch and found a great Greek restaurant. We marveled over the town houses and I was particularly taken by this one with the cherubs holding up the second floor balcony. We saw two for sale on the same street and wondered how many millions they were going for. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

The city was remarkably uncrowded, being a holiday weekend.  People were probably at the beach or elsewhere celebrating the Fourth.  It made for easy walking, driving and museum going.

I know that I've said it before, but I do love New York and am so glad to live in such close proximity.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Working

Perhaps you are wondering if I am getting any work done in my studio with all my traveling. (I also went away this past weekend for a family party). I admit that I haven't done anything in a while. But now I finally am working.  Big Green has been blocked (twice) and hanging on my design wall since before I left for San Francisco on June 17.  I had been looking at it and deciding how to trim it.  I am going to make it a diptych so the two sides have to be identical and hang side by side with each side being exactly the same. How to do it? It's way too big for my work table.  So I went to Jo-Ann's and bought a new big cutting mat, the 58" x 34" one and used my 40% off coupon.  My current one was pretty beat up and I could use a new one anyway.




Then I went to the dining room and put all the chairs out of the way, pushed the table to one side.  I brought in my two Costco folding craft tables and put them along the long side of the table and put the two mats on it, side by side.  The new mat is a little bigger than the old one.





I made sure to line up the grid lines and put pieces of tape all along the seam to make sure it wouldn't shift. Whose scary, very old looking hand is that?  Oh, must be mine.







The new mat was purchased in a roll and it didn't want to lay flat, so I put the hair dryer on it for a bit and then put some heavy books along the seam for an hour or so.  I wanted to have the two quilt halves lay side by side so that I could trim them both at the same time.  It was a lot of measuring and walking around the table and at two points even climbing on the table to trim with my long ruler and rotary cutter.

It worked and I think it looks great.  Next job is to bind it and I will start that tomorrow. Then I can photograph this puppy and get my entry sent in.  Again I wish I could show you the quilt, but I can't. But I must say that I love it and hope the jurors will, too.