Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Taste of Spring

We took a trip to the Flower Show in Hartford, CT today. It's always such a treat to see trees and plants in bloom when it's cold and wintry outside. Although we had pretty mild winter,we did get a few inches of snow the other day and it's been cold and windy enough for it to stay around, so it was fun to walk around and get inspired and think ahead to gardening time.

Of course there are always plenty of vendors at these affairs. I bought a beautiful yellow forsythia wreath for my front door and a cute mailbox cover, blue with yellow daffodils. I'll wait until April, when I'm back from Florida, to put them up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tie Silk Dye Transfer

Today I had so much fun doing this tie-dye project. No, this is not the tie-dyeing that was popular in your hippie days. This is actually using men's silk neck ties and transferring the color onto silk scarves. Andrea was so kind to turn over the whole first floor of her lovely home into workshop space for us. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of her. Shame on me!

Here's Barbara on one half of the big table in Andrea's huge studio. I had the other half. I got there a little late, so I wasn't set up yet.

Nike is in the dining room and she shared that space with Andrea. Notice all the ties draped over the chairs.

Carolyn had one table in the living room. Look at the graceful curves she's cutting. Andrea had set up two tables in there after moving furniture and rolling up the rugs.

Chris had the other table in the living room. We also had two ironing stations set up and the use of the dryer in the laundry room.

To give a very simple explanation of the process: Take pieces of the silk ties, put them right side down on the right side of the silk scarves. Roll around a PVC pipe, wrap in muslin, tie tightly with curling ribbon, submerge in a big pot of water/white vinegar solution and simmer for 2o minutes. There's a little more to it than that, but that's basically it.

Part of the fun and/or frustration is that you never really know what color you will end up with. These dark navy and bright red prints turned out a little subdued, as you can see in the picture below.

These bright red and navy polka dots became the colors below. Reds are usually reliable, but not always. Look how light the navy blue became.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun. Andrea has made many, many of these and hers are always beautiful. She has a knack for putting together wonderful color combinations and patterns. I'm hoping she puts them on her Etsy store. Barbara made a gorgeous two-sided one last year in a technique that she perfected and she won Best of Show at a Woman's Club Arts and Crafts competition. Carolyn's, Chris's and Nike's all looked wonderful, too. I should have taken more pictures. I didn't even take mine until I got home.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brown Planet Progress

I've done a little bit of work on Brown Planet (see last post). I made a lot of little pieced sections on the left hand side and put them up on the wall in no particular order, just to see if I had enough to fill the area. I also recut some of the big sections to tighten it up. I don't want those off-white strips in between the big pieces to be more than 1 inch wide, so I had to make some of the big pieces bigger. I don't know if that make sense, but it does to me.

Now I'm ready to start piecing. I think I will piece the big semicircle first and then worry about how to incorporate the background.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brown Planet Rising

If you've been to my blog before this may look familiar. I blogged about it about six months ago here. Kathy Loomis, a world class quilter had started this in a Nancy Crow workshop and never finished it. She blogged about it here. To get all the information, please go back to both links and see what happened. To make a long story short, Kathy sent me her quilt to finish. I don't have to follow her plan exactly, but I just have to finish it and then the quilt will be mine and it will be a collaboration. I have been so busy with this and that and traveling, so I am just getting to it now.

This is what Kathy's quilt looked like when I got it, loosely pinned to a sheet and spread out on the floor. Kathy had told me that it was 8 feet wide by 4 feet high, very large by my standards.

This is the picture that Kathy had taken while it was still on the wall at the Nancy Crow workshop.

This is what it looks like now on my planning wall. My original plan was to pin that sheet on which it came to my planning wall. That did not work at all. First of all my planning wall is only 7 1/2 feet wide, not eight, as I had thought. Second, the quilt is larger that 8 feet wide, more like 8 1/2. So I spread the sheet out on my work table and transferred the pieces onto my planning wall. But first I had to cut down the size of the semi-circle to fit on my wall. In making it smaller I had to eliminate a few of the big pieces, rearrange some pieces and cut a few new ones, but I think you will agree that it has the same feeling as the original. All those white spaces in between will be cream colored fabric.

The very top two rows were pieced together by Kathy, as were all the little pieced sections. I have a lot of piecing left to do, all the dark sections of fine piecing in the left side of the planet and all the light colored fine piecing sections in the whole background and the rest of the planet. My latest quilts are almost always made with my hand dyed fabrics and I thought that I could mix them in with the solid cottons, but realized that that wouldn't work. So I sent away for a lot of Kona cottons, trying to match Kathy's colors. I did get a lot of good matches, but have about 8 half yard pieces that won't do.

The fine pieced sections are just randomly placed up so that I can gauge how many more I have to do. I may even make the dark small piecing section a little smaller, I'll decide when I start sewing.

This will take me awhile to complete, especially since I will be away for the month of March in sunny Florida. But I will post periodically as I progress.

I'm already thinking ahead about how to quilt it and I have some good ideas. I'm also thinking that since this is such a big piece, in my eyes, that I may make it into a triptych. But I'm a long way from that.

Please check back now and then to see what I'm doing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finally Finished Fish!

Here are the sheer panels I talked about a couple of blogs ago. I finished them last night at 8:20. Whew! I am glad to have them done. You can see how tall they are hanging here, right up to my eight foot ceiling and almost touching the floor. I wanted each piece to hang loose , but for some reason one side would zig while the other zagged, so I had to tack them together in a few places. I wonder if it would have been different if I had used silk or cotton organza instead of the polyester or nylon that I did use. Silk or cotton was not available locally.

One side is pale blue and the other is aqua, although I don't think you can tell. Are you wondering why I made something in such an unusual size? You may remember my mentioning a group of which I am a member, FANE. We put on an annual show at a library, but this will be at the Northern Star Quilter's Guild quilt show in May. Our panels will be in a separate room and will be suspended from the ceiling and you will be able to walk around them, so they must be two-sided. There is no theme, although the exhibit will be called Totems, and they all must be the same size. They can be two layers, three layers with batting between or just one layer of fabulous art cloth. I've only seen two other partially finished pieces, but I think it will be a fabulous exhibit. I will be sure to post pictures.

I am trying to come up with a name. The only one I can think of is "Fish Flash". Any suggestions?

Now onto my next adventure. Brown Planet is looming on the horizon. I'll post about that in a few days.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Just a Dusting

They predicted snow last night and into today, but this is all we got. Here in Connecticut they're calling it "the winter that never was" and that's fine with me. After last winter's record breaking snow totals (72" here in Danbury) and frigid temps that left the state with collapsing flat roofs and decks and then this year's disastrous Halloween storm with 17" of snow on top of trees still in leaf that crippled the state with downed trees and wires, we deserve a break.
I'm sure that the snow plowers and skiers are unhappy, but this weather suits me fine. I just got back from a nice brisk walk and now I'm settling into my studio. Maybe I'll finish my fish panels today. I hope.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Winner

As soon as I heard it was coming to Broadway, I knew that I wanted to see it and went online to get tickets. I had always loved the music....all those wonderful songs, like "Summertime", "I've Got Plenty of Nothin", "I Love You Porgy", "Bess, You Is My Woman Now", "It Ain't
Necessarily So", and many others. Wednesday's trip into NYC with a group of friends to see the show did not disappoint. Audra McDonald, as Bess, has a magnificent voice, as did Norm Lewis, as Porgy. The minor parts and the ensemble were also terrific.

I thought that it would be fun to rent the 1959 movie with Dorothy Dandridge , Sydney Portier and Sammy Davis Jr., but it is not available. I found out why on Wikipedia: "The Gershwin estate was disappointed with the film, as the score was substantially edited to make it more like a musical. Much of the music was omitted from the film, and many of Gershwin's orchestrations were either changed or completely scrapped. It was shown on network television in the U.S. only once, in 1967. Critics attacked it for not being faithful to Gershwin's opera, for over-refining the language grammatically, and for its "overblown" staging. The film was removed from release in 1974 by the Gershwin estate and can now only be seen in film archives or on bootleg videos." What a shame! I would have loved to see the movie again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sneak Peek

I have been working on a sheer, two-sided wall hanging that is eight feet long and 18 inches wide. There is nothing between the two layers so that one side shadows through to the other. I purposefully made it wider that it needed to be, figuring that I would trim off the selvedge and give it wavy edges. I cut out the fish and grasses from Dupioni silk and fused them and stitched them to the sheer organza. I was rather pleased with the results.
I sewed the two side together and made an internal sleeve and then hung it up. It listed to one side rather precariously, but I thought that cutting the sides in waves would make it look right. Well, I totally ruined it. So all day yesterday and into the evening (with the Super Bowl on in the background), I painstakingly cut away the fish and grasses from the organza. Today I made two new panels, measuring very carefully so that they would hang straight.

Here's a few of the fish. You can see the shadowing of the fish on the other side.

Now I have to add fusible to the back of everything, which I cut in one piece, like spaghetti with fish attached. Then pin it back onto the sheer panels, iron it down and sew it down again. Argh!!

The next three days are very busy for me, including a trip to NYC to see Porgy and Bess and many other things, so I can't sew again until Friday or Saturday. I was so ready to be on to the next project, but I have to finish this first. It has a deadline. I'll show the finished product. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


My small quilt group meets weekly at members' homes and since we are such a small group, I get to be hostess every 7 or 8 weeks. When choosing our dates, I always ask for one near a holiday, if there is one, because I like to decorate with a theme. I guess it's the old elementary school teacher in me who loved to do bulletin boards.

Here's my table from yesterday's meeting, everything in pink or red.

My niece gave me these silicone cupcake molds last year for Christmas along with a Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook. Of course the plastic saucers don't go in the oven, but the cups do and can be used over and over. I made Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, recipe from the book, quite good if I do say so myself.

The recipe made 24 cupcakes, so I froze the unfrosted ones to use at a book club meeting later in the month. The remaining frosted ones went under this hand painted domed cake plate painted by my sister a few years ago. Isn't it pretty?

I went out to dinner with a group of friends last night and we came back here for dessert, more cupcakes! Yum! Today is my birthday and I was so fortunate to get to celebrate twice yesterday with two different groups of friends. I count my blessings.

Today will be a quiet day with me working in my studio and then out to see the new Glen Close movie tonight with friends. Life is good!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Is it too late to wish you a happy Chinese New Year? I know I'm about a week late, but this is the year of the dragon and that lasts all year. This is a quilt that I made a few years ago for a myths and legends challenge.

Gong Hey Fat Choy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012