Sunday, June 30, 2013

More Succulents

In the comments on yesterday's blog,  Lynne asked if my succulents winter over.  Last year I put two big pots in the garage, which is unheated and has no window.  I was surprised at how good they looked all winter, keeping their color and shape.  But it was false hope.  Once I brought them outside, they withered up and fell apart after a few days.  I think they were somehow ossified in the garage and not really alive.

The Hens and Chicks do winter over very nicely.  I take them out of their pots, which are pottery or terra cotta, which will not survive the winter, and put them in the ground.  They turn a lovely bronzy color and green up as soon as it gets warm.

I like the way this brilliant blue strawberry jar looks with the succulents. We have a fabulous nursery in nearby Brookfield, Shakespeare's Garden, that has a wonderful selection of succulents.  I strive to get a variety of style and colors, some hanging , some upright, some bluish some yellowy. I very seldom water them, but I did give them a drizzle today and that's what you see on the ground.

The jar is at the end of my narrow front porch, next to the driveway.  Last year I had it on the front deck, but I like it better here.  This is a view from the other side.

This is a favorite of mine.  How fabulous is that brilliant yellow-green?!  It will start spilling over the lip soon.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

From the Garden

Are you tired of looking at those shirts?  Well, I am so here's something pretty from the garden.

If you read my blog you know how fond I am of succulents in pots on my deck.  I don't grow them for the flowers but for the interesting shapes and colors and their ease of care.  I was surprised when these two started to send out flower shoots so early in the season, but I do like them, especially the magenta colored clusters on the one plant.

I also like Hibiscus, but they are a tropical flower. They were everywhere in Hawaii.  When I saw this braided trunk specimen in Costco's a few weeks ago at such a reasonable price, I snapped it up.  I repotted it in a much larger pot and planted bright blue lobelia around the perimeter of the pot.  The flowers only last for one day, but today it was very happy with several blooms.

Of  course the first frost will kill the plant, but for now I can enjoy it's tropical beauty for a few months.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not so wishy-washy anymore.

A few posts ago  showed the result of my ice dyeing. I liked a lot of the fabrics I made, but the linen shirt I had done was so uninspired, that I decided to redo it over this past weekend.  While pondering which colors to use to liven it up, I remembered how much I had liked the fabric on which I had used just one black dye. Since black is made up of many colors, they separated into those colors on the fabric.  There was preponderance  of reds and azure blue mixed in with the grays and blacks.  I loved it, so I thought why not try it on the shirt.  I found another white cotton shirt in my closet that I had not worn in a long time and I added that to the mix. This time I also used a lot more dye powder than I had previously used.

Close up of some of the colors in the black

The newly done Ralph Lauren long white cotton shirt.

The former lackluster white linen short, boxy shirt.

Well..........they certainly aren't wishy-washy, but I don't know if I would ever wear them.  They might be good as camouflage shirts if I wanted to hunt in a quarry.  Maybe, just maybe, I could wear the long one as a beach cover-up over a black bathing suit.  Probably not.  I think I am so over ice-dyeing shirts.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Radically Red

My FiberWork groups's challenge for this year is Texture.  Altho it is not due until October when the show will be hung, I wanted to get mine finished so that I can do another one.  I've been working on it on and off for the past couple of weeks.  It has a lot more hand work on it than I usually do or it would have been done sooner.

It was a very difficult quilt to photograph and also tricky to free-motion quilt.  I think that red on red is almost as hard as black on black. The quilt looks darker on the bottom, but it's just the lighting.  I tried photographing it without the overhead lights and that was worse.  If I ever decide to enter it into a show that requires good photography, I will set it up in my "photography studio" in the garage. That has good lights that shine on it from the sides.

This section took me the longest.  All those French Knots. The raised curves were made by using a double needle with a strip of cotton batting behind.

I had fun with these undulating tucks.  They really stand out on this dark red silk.  You can also see some of the free-motion quilting on the strip above.  I wanted to use wool batting to make those circles  pop, but none of the quilt shops near me had it. I could have gotten it online, but I was too impatient.

These are the same undulating tucks as the previous picture, but they don't stand out as much.  Not sure why, maybe this silk was softer.

The quilt is 30 inches square, as they all will be, and is made entirely with Dupioni silk. Radically Red is my working title.  I was going to call it "Totally Texture, Radically Red" (I love alliteration), but the group decided to call the show Totally Texture" so I will drop those first two words.

Friday, June 21, 2013


I recently went on a tour of the gardens of Eileen Plimpton, who writes a column for our local paper, the News Times.  It was a lovely day after a lot of rain and it was good to be outside enjoying her beautiful grounds. There were not a lot of flowers blooming yet but she had an impressive collection of Hosta plants.  They ranged in size from tiny to huge and in color from pale yellow-green to deep blue-green and everything between.
If you follow my blog, you know that i've often worked in many shades of green and I've even made three cabbage quilts, but I've never done Hostas. I'll leave that to Elaine Quehl, who specializes in them.  I am the proud owner of one of her quilts, having purchased it in the SAQA auction a couple of years ago.

This one and the next were tiny.

This was the biggest one. A man volunteered to put his hand there to give a sense of scale.

Another biggie, I think.

Another itty bitty

Isn't it amazing how many shades of green there are in nature?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

El Anatsui, part 3

This part of the exhibit was a complete surprise to me.  At first we all thought that it was paper mache using newspapers, but we found out that they were discarded aluminum printing plates used to print all kinds of media, such as newspaper sports, political and obituary pages to wedding invitations.

The bag form resembles the large woven bags that Ghanian refugees used to pack their belongings to return home from Nigeria.


This shot gives you a sense of the scale.  They were quite large.

Here you can read some of the print.

And that's the end of this report.  As I said before, it's an incredible exhibit. Go if you if possibly can.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

El Anatsui part 2

While Anatsui's metal wall art is spectacular, he also does smaller wooden pieces.  I wasn't expecting to like them as much as I did.  His strips of wood are hung on a slat and can be moved around and interchanged to give many different designs. Of course, they reminded me of quilts.  I'm still working on my skinny, wiggly strips on and off and could see myself arranging them like these, especially the second and fourth ones.

These are just a sampling.  There were several more.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

El Anatsui

This week my FiberWorks group took a day trip to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to see the El Anatsui exhibit.  I had seen a smaller exhibit of his a couple of years ago at the Clark Museum and I was blown away, so when I heard of this exhibit I knew it was a must-see. He is an African artist who makes art out of what would normally be thrown away, such as metal strips from around the necks of liquor bottles and the lids from tin cans.  It is hard to believe that this is what he uses until you get up close and see that you can actually read the writing on the strips.


When you walked into the exhibit space, you were greeted by these see-thru pieces that hung from the ceiling, which was about 2 stories high.  It was breathtaking.

This piece was enormous, you can see how it goes from floor to ceiling.

Detail from above piece.

This blue and silver piece was stunning.  See how some of the blue spills onto the floor

         I loved the drapes and fold in this huge red piece.

Detail from above piece.

                             This piece was so big that it wrapped around the corner.


He did several floor pieces made out the lids from tin cans of milk, Peak brand, and some of the pieces were named  "Peak".


These pieces could be displayed at the whim of the curators. We decided that this tubular arrangement would have been better if the tubes had undulated.

I loved the way the pieces draped and folded just like fabric.  But this "fabric" was made from metal strips, with holes punched and joined together with little pieces of wire.

There were three different videos showing his staff at work.  I found them to be fascinating and it took 
some of the mystery out of his creations.  If you go to the exhibit, be sure to watch all three.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art is a wonderful museum with five floors housing many, many exhibits and fabulous permanent collections including Judy Chicago's famous piece, "The Dinner Party". You can read more about the El Anatsui exhibit here. Be sure to watch the first video about how some of the installations were done.


It would be hard to choose a favorite, but this might be it.  You would swear that it was made from bronze, but it was just all black labels with touches of red.  Amazing!

The exhibit is there until August 3, so if you live anywhere within driving distance, you must go.  We drove about 2 hours each way and it was well worth it.  We also enjoyed the Joh Singer Sargent watercolor exhibit, which will be there until July 28.

Be sure to click on any picture for a bigger view of all.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Texture Magic, One More Time

One of the comments  on my last blog suggested that I try it with wool batting and I did.  The results were much better.  To make it a fair test, I used the same design, the same fabric and the same thread.

I think it definitely looks better and is much softer.  Of course it would have looked even better without the pink thread.  What do you think?  Does this have possibilities?  I'll have to try it on a piece of red silk.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Texture Magic

I bought this product, Texture Magic, a few years ago at a quilt show.  It seemed like a good idea at the time even though it was a bit pricey. You pin it to the back of your fabric,with or without batting, stitch, then steam from the back and it pulls up and give you texture, lots of it. It has been languishing on my pegboard and this project seemed like the perfect time to use it.


Here is my design drawn on the back with a layer of cotton batting between the magic and the silk Dupioni. You sew from the back.


This is how it looked from the front before steaming.  I used pink thread in the bobbin.

And this is what it looks like after steaming.  It shrinks by 30%.  I was so disappointed with the look.  It just looks like a bunch of puckers and you can't see the design at all.


So I tried the same design without batting.  I still don't like it at all.


This is just plain FM quilting with Hobb's wool batting. I like this so much better,  I will not use this design on the quilt, but will be using red silk again, although a different shade.  What I like about the wool is that it gives a lot of depth.  Whatever you don't quilt down really puffs up, almost as if you had used trapunto.  I have some designs in mind that should work well.

I haven't completely given up on Trapunto Magic, I just won't use it on this project.  I think it might work well in a purse.