Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Spool Ornaments

I had a lovely Christmas with my son home from Portland, who thankfully timed it just right for the snow storms and got here and back with no trouble. My sister was here and my niece. We are a small family now, but we enjoyed ourselves just the same. I am leaving for Florida on Friday for my opening at the Marcos Island Center for the Arts (more about that in a later post) and so will start taking down the decorations soon. I don't want to come back to them on January 5.
One last look at some more of my sewing themed ornaments. This adorable teddy from 2002 was named "Thread Bear", also by Hallmark, I think. I never did put him on the tree, but he sits by the base with his buddy below.

He is from 2003. I was so excited by these cutie pies and couldn't wait to see the next year's, but alas, they never made anymore. Guess there's not a big call for this theme.

I found this thread family in a little gift shop. There are two more to the family, but they did get hung on the tree, while these smiley fellows sit at the base.

It's always sad to pack the decorations away. But it's fun to pull them out each year, like visiting old friends. When everything is put away, I usually do something very un-Christmasy, like pink or yellow flowers on the table with a blue and white tablecloth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Studio Christmas Tree

This photo was inadvertently deleted when I made the post and if you know Blogger, you know that the last photo imported goes to the top. This is one of the Hallmark ornaments I write about below.

I love to decorate for Christmas, all through the house. I put up a big tree in the living room decorated with mostly silver, white and gold ornaments, very elegant, I think. In the family room/kitchen I put up a smaller tree that's just Santas, collected over the years, hand made, glass, wood, yarn, etc. But this very small tree in the hallway outside my studio is decorated with all sewing themed ornaments. Hallmark used to have a series of ornaments and I'd get one every year, but they haven't had any in a awhile. Or at least I haven't seen them.
Be sure to click on each image for a bigger view.

I made several of these little angels out of inexpensive thimbles. I also made the garland out of 1/4 inch satin ribbon and tiny white buttons.

I made quite a few of these spool ornaments.

I have several thimble characters. Here's Santa.

This is one of the Hallmark guys. Check out his adornments.

This guy is a cute as can be. He's holding a real threaded needle.

Hallmark had a series of Alice in Wonderland miniature ornaments, one a year. This was the first in the series. All the characters are sitting on a thimble.

The Mad Hatter sipping his tea.

Cheshire Cat with his mischievous grin.

The White Rabbit.

My tree topper. The angel was part of a set of silver ornaments from my big tree. I hot glued the child's sterling silver thimble on. They could use some polishing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Card

I received this beautiful hand made Christmas card today from my friend, Andrea. She is a new member of my small weekly quilt group, the Scrapbag Quilt Artists. Andrea is a wonderful quilter, and beader, and potter and paper artist. Click on the photo to see it close up and all the detail. On the back the sentiment says, "May the joys of the season be a song in your heart".

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One more jacket

This year when I was at the IQA show in Houston I visited Star Hagenbring's booth. I was there last year, too , but did not succumb. She makes the most exquisite hand painted, silk jackets with prices to match. She also sells kits to make them yourself, still very expensive, but about a quarter of the price for a finished jacket. This year I gave in to temptation. In the kit you get all the necessary fabric, paints, thread and instructions. Now I know why her jackets are so expensive. They are very labor intensive. First you have to paint the circles, metallic gold on the black silk and black on the green silk/wool blend. Then you do LOTS of stitching. Assembling the jacket was rather easy. The lining is made of red silk dupioni, which forms the collar and turn-back cuffs. Then lots of top stitching. I'm pleased with the results.

The back.

Detail of stitching and painting on the front.

Stitching and painting on back. The black doesn't look very black here. That's it for garments for awhile.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Different View

A few people said that they'd like to see an upside down view, so here it is, with the facing done.
What do you think? See my last post if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Pieces

When I finish piecing a quilt I always make a little sample piece to try out different quilting designs and thread colors. I just slap down left over pieces of units onto a piece of batting and quilt away. It is a big mish-mash like this. I often save them and use them to experiment with other things later, such as seeing if I can sew through coke cans and plastic cups (I can) or to try different pens for writing on a quilt. As you can see this is a complete throw-away.

When I finished the piecing for my Salsa City quilt, for some reason I decided to sew those little scraps together for practicing quilting and auditioning threads. I couldn't have spent more than a half hour sewing them together, not really paying any heed to the finished product, just trying to fill up the space into some sort of rectangle. After I quilted it, I realized that I rather liked the piece. I thought it gave the illusion of looking down an alley. I measures about 10 1/2 x 13. I needed a small piece for an upcoming exhibit and thought that perhaps I could use this . I also thought that I could do better and make one with an even better "down the alley" look. I thought I whip one up in no time. WRONG!

I spent all day Saturday, part of Sunday and Monday to come up with this. Of course I was not working with left over units, but had to start piecing units from scratch. Much ripping out and making over. This is the finished piece. Ignore the fuzzy edges at the top. I still have to face it. And I am leaving the irregular edge at the top. What do you think? Do you like the first one that I put together in no time, or the last one that I slaved over? This one is about 11 x 14. Remember that you can click on each picture for a bigger view.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The postcard I posted this morning bothered me.  Those too pale and too big mountains in the back were just not right.  I looked through my stash for just the right shade of blue/gray that would be a transition between the dark purple and pale gray.  I couldn't find anything so I colored a piece with colored pencils. It was a bit challenging fitting it into a finished piece, but I got it to work. I think this looks so much better, don't you?
And it really is perfectly square.  It's just my bad photography techniques that make it look askew.  I know, I know I should use a tripod.  The photo from this morning was also washed out because I used the flash.  This picture is without the flash and these are the true colors.

Another AC

I did finish this one last night, but too late to post it here. This one was based on a composite of wildflower/mountain shots from my son. I'm not crazy about the mountains in the far background. I usually do them in a darker blue/gray and then my "snow" stitching really shows up. I'm not sure what I'll call this one. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art Concentrated

My son lives in the Pacific Northwest and sends me wonderful pictures when he is out hiking. He know that I like pictures with flowers in the foreground and mountains or hills in the background. It was the inspiration for this postcard which had to be in the landscape orientation.

I can't believe how long it took me to make this little post card, or Art Concentrated, as we call them in Fiber Revolution. I need to make two of them to send for a FR show, where they will be mounted on watercolor paper and framed in black shadow boxes. I had hoped to get them both made today and here it is almost 4:00. I first fused down the four background pieces after auditioning many colors. Then I stitched the evergreens in the far background, then the leaves and grass in the foreground. The big lupines were fused, pinked pieces of dupioni silk, that were heavily over stitched . Smaller lupines were just stitched onto the green. I think I might try another one in the portrait orientation, but not today. I'm calling this one "Lakeside Lupines"

Now to see if I can start another one, something different. If I finish it I'll post it tomorrow,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Man for All Seasons

I wish I had some fabulous new art to share or pictures to show, but I don't. I have been busy sewing, but nothing finished to show yet. But I had the most delightful day today. I went to NYC to see A Man for All Seasons starring Frank Langella. It has to be one of the best plays I have ever seen on Broadway. It was riveting and his performance was astounding. If he doesn't win the Tony for best actor in a play this year I will be shocked. He plays Sir Thomas Moore, Chancellor to King Henry VIII and the play deals with the whole story of the King's wanting to divorce his first wife to marry Anne Boleyn. We all know the tale. But this is the story behind the story of how Moore held firm to his beliefs and ultimately gave his life. There wasn't a dry eye in the house at the end.
It is serendipitous that I am currently watching The Tudors on NetFlicks, the Showtime trashy version of the tale and recently read "The Constant Princess", also an abysmal narrative of Catherine of Aragon's life, Henry's first wife, the one he needed to divorce to marry Anne. Oh my, so much Henry VIII at one time.
As I said, today was splendid, spent with two dear friends, Nike and Liz. We had a delicious lunch at the Blue Fin, a very nice restaurant. Life is good.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Review

I was recently offered a free copy of this book with the possible inclusion of a review on my blog.
After checking on their website to ascertain that it was a legitimate offer, I agreed. My book arrived a few days later, a hefty coffee table book. At first glance my thought was, "Oh just a lot of black and white photos" and then I sat down to read it and changed my mind. It really is a glance at the history of our state from 1878, when the capital was established in Hartford to the 1960's and I found it fascinating.

The book is divided into four sections: A Gilded Age and the Golden Dome (1868-1916), Change for the Land of Steady Habits (1917-1938), Life On the Home Front (1939-1945), and Peace and Prosperity (1945-1960's).

The collection of mostly casual snapshots provide unique and different viewpoints. The short introduction to each chapter and the very informative text under each photo give a glimpse at what has made Connecticut what it is today. I liked the format of one large photo on each page.

I will quote the book jacket here because they can say it so much better than I can:
"From the decades following the Civil War we view Connecticut's inventiveness and industrial genius through its mills and factories. In its neighborhoods, colleges, and rural towns we glimpse its religious, cultural, and intellectual wealth. Along rural lanes, railroads, rivers, and highways we catch images of its farmers, workers, and war heroes, of its reformers, industrial statesmen, inventors, and school children. Through train wrecks, floods, fires, and blizzards, Historic Photos of Connecticut provides a glimpse at the hardscrapple toughness that characterizes the people of Connecticut."

I moved to Connecticut in 1970, so all the events in the book happened before I was here, but many were things that I had heard about, like the great floods and blizzards. There was also a lot of information that was new to me. I was hoping that the book would continue up to the current date, but it stops at the 1960's.

I think that this book would make a nice Christmas gift for any CT resident or history buff. You can order it from This is Turner Publishing Co.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kaffe and Frank

I seldom buy commercial fabric anymore, but when I saw this Kaffe Fassett fabric I knew that it would be perfect with some of my hand dyes.

I pieced a simple linear design, somewhat Frank Lloyd Wrightish and fussycut some circles from the Kaffe fabric. It's not quilted yet. I'm not sure if I love it. Don't know if it's too "cute".

Here I'm auditioning a binding cut from the Kaffe fabric. I'm undecided about this, too. Is the binding too much? Would it be better faced?

Detail of the binding. I'm also not sure how to quilt it. Should I quilt straight parallel lines in the straight areas and circles in the circles or should I quilt it all in circles? It's a small quilt, only 17 x 29. I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've Been Tagged

This is going to be hard for me. I 've been tagged by Natalya, which means I have to supply seven little known facts about myself. Natalya's were wonderfully art based and Jane's were fun and quirky, so here are mine.

1. I can't swim. I went to a State Teacher's College (SUNY at Cortland) and passing swimming was a requirement for graduation. I took it for four years and passed it in my senior year with a pity (and pitiful) D. I still can't swim!

2. I love to travel and have been to 12 countries in the past five years, including China and Japan.

3. I can wrap my thumb and pinky around my wrist and overlap by 1/2 inch. Very skinny wrists.

4. In my next life I hope to play one sport reasonably well, have a good singing voice, and great legs, none of which I possess now.

5. I used to make most of my own clothes when I was much younger and thinner and couldn't get clothes to fit off the rack.

6. If I only had one food to live on for the rest of my life, it would be cookies, preferably good homemade.

7. I was voted best dressed on my college campus and was included in the Glamour Magazine Best Dressed College Women issue in 1962. That was with a lot of my home made clothes and borrowed sweaters from roommates.

Natalya took my tagees so I'm going to do what Jane did and say that if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. Leave me a comment to let me know if you are going to do it. Have fun!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good News

I just found out that this quilt "Hot Spots" sold at a gallery in Botswana, Africa. I have an international client; how exciting! I belong to a wonderful group of fiber artists,
Fiber Revolution, that exhibits regularly, mostly in the Northeast. One of our members, Cindy Friedman, has connections in South Africa and arranged for us first to be part of a quilt show in South Africa and then exhibit in this gallery. Last night was the gallery opening. Cindy was there and said that there was an excellent turnout and two pieces from our group were sold, one of them mine.
This quilt is 30" x 30", as all of them were, making it a little easier for Cindy to hand carry on the plane. It is made entirely of silk dupioni and I love working with it. I have a lot of fabric left from this piece and I want to make more quilts.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Finshed Jacket

Last night I finished the jacket using the Wendy Richardson over-dyed vintage decorator fabric and trim I bought in Houston. I bought the hand painted buttons there, too. I've made this pattern before (see bottom picture) and have worn it many times. I never felt the need to wear anything at the neck, but this one wanted a scarf. I wore it today to a concert and out to dinner today with this scarf.

Here's another option. I purchased this crinkled silk scarf in Japan and have been surprised at how many things it goes with. I think this gives it a sportier look.

I have quite a bit of fabric left over and am thinking of making a small shoulder bag purse.

Here's the old tried and true version. This is also Wendy's fabric and trim. Buttons also purchased in Houston.

Now I have to finish my Challenge Quilt for the guild and *then* I can get on to making something new. Not allowed to show the challenge quilt before the February meeting.
The challenge is "Going Green" and you have to use some recycled material. I'm having a lot of fun with it and it's almost finished. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Antique Watch Faces

I forgot to include these in my post yesterday. I purchased them from the same dealer who had the rabbit beads. I'm planning to make a small piece about Time and these should be good embellishments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Houston Purchases

Since I haven't done anything in my studio since I returned from Houston, I thought I'd take the cue from other bloggers and show some of the neat things I bought at the show.

These beautiful buttons are hand painted, unbreakable, washable buttons from South Africa. They were only $8 dollars a card, regardless of size. I wanted them all! They are on a one inch grid so you can see the size.

This scrumptious fabric is over-dyed vintage decorator fabric from Wendy Richardson. It's much deeper and richer than it looks in the photo. The top is really a deep rust and the bottom is a deep rust/teal print. The trim is dyed to coordinate. I made a jacket/blouse from two of her fabrics several years ago and every time I wear it I get compliments, so I decided to make another one. The patterns calls for two large buttons and I am going to use the two on the far left in the button picture above. In person they do look great together.

I had to have these rabbit beads hand carved from bone. The big ones are about 1 1/2 inches long. Don't you love the way he's scratching his ear?

This is the same size as the one above.

I bought two of these smaller beads, about an inch long. They will all play together in a necklace with other supporting beads.

Obviously I bought a lot more "stuff" but these are probably the most interesting.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I took over 350 pictures of my trip to Japan, but I think that I'll end my blogging and pictures from Japan with this entry. Above is a shot of my wonderful travel companions. L to R Claire, me, Ruth (my sister who got the curly hair in the family), Mickey, and Liz. We all got along so well and had such a good time together and many, many laughs. I always travel with my sister. Claire and Liz joined us on our trip to Croatia last year and the year before Mickey went to China with us. We're talking about taking another trip, but haven't picked a destination yet.

Oh, yes, we are wearing the yukatas that were in our hotel rooms in addition to the thick terry robes. A yukata is a lightweight, cotton robe, sort of an informal kimono. They were meant to be worn to the onsen, or public bath. You would see people wearing them in the halls of the hotels coming or going to the baths. Three of the hotels had them in the rooms, each one a different pattern and color. In two of the hotels we wore them to the formal Japanese dinner with a little jacket on top. We weren't very fond of the jackets, being quite warm and the tendency to make you look fat. But the yukatas were quite nice and I was tempted to buy one, but resisted for a change.

On a very cloudy, overcast day we were so lucky to get a glimpse of Mt. Fugi. I was surprised that it was not snow capped. Global warming or just too early in the season? When I visit my son in Portland, I'm used to seeing Mt. Hood with snow on top all summer long.

We saw several of these topiary mum plants outside doors to shops or homes. They all seemed to be exactly the same size. I've never seen them here in the States, but would buy one if I could.

This tori gate in Kyoto was the largest I saw on the same trip. You pass through a tori gate when you visit a Shinto shrine. We didn't go to this shrine. I wonder how big that was!

So that's it for my Japanese pictures. This was just the tip of the iceberg, but perhaps it gave you a glimpse of my experiences. It was a splendid trip!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back from Houston

I arrived home from Houston last night and as usual had an exhilarating, exhausting time.... so many fabulous quilts to see. Here I am shamelessly proud of my quilt in the Town and Country special exhibit. You can see more of the exhibit here. I didn't win one of the two top prizes (those quilts were amazing!) but I was pleased with the way it looked, hanging nice and flat under those bright lights.
It is all pieced, using my hand dyed fabrics and lots of free-motion quilting.

Another detail. Sorry for the fuzziness.

I'm not posting any pictures of other quilts, knowing that some people will object. You can see all the prize winners here. Click on the Ruby slippers.

I have a little more to post about my Japan trip, maybe tomorrow. Then I'll have to get to work making something new.