Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Horse of a Different Color

Creative block can affect the best of us.  What do you do to deal with it? Do you have fall back plans?  Do you have a "creativity file" to look in for ideas you have wanted to pursue?

Some days, I just can't find a creative way to get moving.  I was having one of those moments today.  So I did some cleaning/organizing.  I found a piece of paper that had an idea for an art piece on it.  I think it was a creative spark for me.  Then I said the magic words "What if....???"  You did know that those words are magic didn't you? They seem to open all sorts of creative options.

What if I took that background piece I made and then didn't know where to go with it...

- what if I did a fusible applique using this idea on top of it?  What if....what if???

One of the classes I am taking on Craftsy is Handstitched Collage Quilts by Laura Wasilowski.  In the class  she teaches how to make a transfer using release paper and a sharpie.  I did some digital editing and created a pattern the size I wanted. Then I made a transfer and got the design on my pre-fused fabric.

I cut out all of the pieces.  I had to iron my background piece again as it was "stored away" and got wrinkled.
Then I started fuse tacking the pieces down.  Soon I had it all tacked in place and was ready to steam set it.
I put the horse on the background at an angle and then trimmed the background piece to level him out.
I call it "Horse of a different Color" - I may do a series. Yesterday I did some ironing and finally heat set some of the paint dyed fabrics I created.  I am thinking one of those would be a great background for one of these horses.  And that horse may be a different color altogether!
Maybe this has broken the creative block.  I have some fabrics that are looking for a project.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quilting Phase Finished

The Free Motion quilting on my class quilt it completed!  This is the quilt I have been working on for the Leah Day Free Motion Fillers Vol. 1 class on Craftsy.  
The quilt is in two pieces, because it is easier for me to quilt in that manner. I will join it with the method I use for Quilt As You Go.  But here are the two pieces aligned and laying on my bed.
That is the front side. But wait until you see the back.  I LOVE the back of this quilt as much as the front.

The back shows far more of the texture and design than is readily visible on the front.  Here are some close ups showing more of the texture and stitching.

I confess that I didn't follow directions well.  Leah Day said that we should not use variegated thread as it tends to have diameter changes where it changes color which can cause thread breaks.  But it was what I wanted to use so I used it.  I didn't have any problem with thread breaks.  Instead the problem I had was running out of bobbin thread. Ha ha! I used a lot of bobbins on this one.  Even thought the quilt is not "officially" finished I am linking this up with Richard and Tanya Quilts - Link a Finish Friday.  After all, I finished the quilting and that was a major finish for me.  I am thinking that this quilt will go in the gallery if Main Street Gallery has room when it is fully finished.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fantasy and Truth - a review

Disclaimer: Bethany House publishers provided me with a copy of Dragonwitch  by Ann Elisabeth Stengl to read and review.  However, the opinion and review is my own.

When I first began the book, I thought that I had made a mistake in taking this book.  The beginning language was odd and confusing to me. At the end of that small section, the tone changed and I quickly became engrossed in a tale of both human and mystical beings.

I found that I could not stop reading! I soon realized that the first section that I found off-putting was only one angle of the story.  The story contained several themes that seemed separate at first, but eventually they all become woven together in a compelling greater story.  In many ways this is a fairy tale, but also an adventure.  I am reminded in some ways of The Hobbit.  There are prophesies and legends, a mystical gate between worlds, a mysterious Temple of the Flame and many other intriguing things.  This was an adventure that pulled me fully into the story.  I know that I said "Oh no!" aloud several times while I was reading. I also  said "YES!!!" once or twice when something worked out well.

Interestingly, I found theological truths in the book that are far deeper than the story alone.  This was a total surprise to me.  Although if I had realized that the publisher frequently has books on the Christian best seller list, I might not have been as surprised.  I have found similar truths in the works of C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle.

I highly recommend this fantasy story, although I found much more that that in the pages.  The classical theme of good versus evil is well played and has some surprising twists.  I would love to tell the entire story, but I certainly could not weave it as convincingly as the author did.

This book is due to be released in August 2013.

Monday, June 24, 2013

More FMQ and Update on Classes

While there is still quite a bit to go, I have made good progress on my free-motion quilting class quilt.  I am learning that some of the designs work better for me than others.  Those that don't work as well probably would just require more practice.  Anyway, here it is for you to see.

I have been showing some of my paintings here also.  From the comments I get the idea that you think it is all "talent."  But honestly most people can learn to paint.   And now Craftsy is offering classes in fine art, both drawing and painting.   You may want to check out some of these classes.
Craftsy Fine Art
· Craftsy Perspective in Landscape Drawing  taught by Patrick Connors
· Craftsy Acrylic Landscape Painting  taught by Bennett Vadnais
· Craftsy Portraits in Watercolor  taught by Matt Rota
· Craftsy Drawn to Painting  taught by Rob Zeller

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Main Street - the Gallery

A couple of weeks ago, a friend who works for an art council emailed me. It seems that a gentleman opening a gallery in Arab, Alabama was looking for artists.  It happens that Arab is a place I visit often.  So I got in touch with the gallery owner.  I went in on a Saturday to meet him and discuss business.  We settled on a commission rate that I think is greatly to my favor.  So yesterday, another Saturday, I took several pieces to the gallery for him to see and choose from.  He chose three paintings.
Enchanted Path
Moonlit Path

Ritmo (an abstract dancer)

And the other was a barn scene with a stream or river running near it.  I discovered that I don't seem to have a photo of it.

He also took a lap quilt
and my "String Theory" art quilt.
He also is displaying some of my art notecards, some original art greeting cards, some of my bookmarks and some of my quilted journals.
I am thrilled to have an art quilt in an art gallery.   I have another that I will be mounting on a canvas that may go in the gallery later.

You can visit Main Street Gallery on Facebook.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Retro Saturday

On June 22 of 2006, my blog was in its infancy.  I had just started blogging at on June 4 of 2006.
Here is my post from this date in 2006.  While I do much more quilting and sewing than painting now, it is still a form of creation.  I am sure it makes me more than I am.
Busy-ness and Creation
I have been busy lately doing little odds and ends. I have some paintings started using some experimental techniques. Making starts is a fun thing to do. The work comes in making them into finished pieces. The great thing is that when you have a passion for something even the work part of it can be fun.
I am excited about my "starts" so turning them into real art will be a joy. I do have a passion for painting. Thus the work is fun, joyful and sometimes ecstasy. But to be true and fair, I must say that sometimes it is agony and frustration. The secret is that out of the agony and frustration comes glory. Why? Because when we create we become more than we are. We become one with the universe and the creator (or forces of creation, if you choose.) Personally, I believe in a Creator. That is my belief and I am not ashamed of it. When I am one with the Creator, I have joy.

Whatever you believe, I hope that when you create joy is yours also.
Also, let me share a picture of a painting from that time period. 
Morning Magic
This is titled - Morning Magic 
While it is abstract, I see a brilliant fiery sunrise in the background with a couple of tree branches crossing the view. Hiding among the leaves of the tree are bluebirds. These birds are singing and rejoicing in a perfect sunrise. It is a new day. Rejoice.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More FMQ on the Color Block Quilt

I have gotten seven blocks and the stippling around them done on the class quilt for the Free Motion Fillers class I am taking on Craftsy.  Last night I finished the section on Pivoting designs.  Next up are the echoing designs and after that there will be branching designs.  While I like having them in categories, it does seem to make a lot of the same type designs end up close together.  I am trying to skip some spaces to use a different type - that is why the red block at top center is not quilted yet.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Slow but sure-learning as I go.

In case you have been wondering, I really have been watching the Leah Day class and working on my quilt.  Really I have!  Okay, so I only got two or three blocks and some stippling done Monday night. Then Tuesday night I did two more blocks and finished the quilting on that "half" of the quilt.

 I couldnt' get a picture of the whole thing where I had this is most of it.
I love the variations in the quilting designs all over it.  Here are some peeks at it from the back so you can see all the texture there too.

There are all kinds of straight line designs, curvy designs and mixtures of the the two. Each block of color on the front is surrounded by stippling.  On this half of the quilt alone, I have used almost 500 yards of thread for the quilting. (That does NOT include the piecing thread!) So, now I have to use another color of thread for the other half.  Since this is a variegated thread, I will see if I have another variegated that is similar.  Hopefully it won't be too obvious.

Hey, did you know that Craftsy has free patterns and recipes?  I was surprised to find that that there is so much.

Free Embroidery Patterns at Craftsy!
Free Knitting Patterns at Craftsy!
Free Sewing Pattern at Craftsy 
Free Quilting Patterns at Craftsy
Free Cake Decorating Recipes at Craftsy!

Check it out.  You don't even have to enter any payment information. Just sign up for a free account.  Of course you can take some free courses too - and then you may WANT to take a paid course.  Don't blame me if you enjoy it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Back Again

When I started to layer the other "half" of  my class quilt, I realized that one strip of the backing had a problem.  It reminded me of a Beauty Queen sitting on a float it in the Christmas parade!  Why you ask?  Well it was waving at everything!  I confess- I did not pin it on I just grabbed both pieces and started sewing.  Arrgh! Being lazy does not pay in the long run. It would probably have looked okay quilted, but there is that possibility of nasty tucks in the backing.  So I chopped it off (rotary cutter to the rescue) rather than trying to rip out that long seam.  I replace the fabric with a different blue and ironed them; then pinned them together. Those of you who know me well, know that I am NOT a pinner. But to make it come out right this time, I felt it was necessary.

Now, to sew it!

Ahhh Yes!
The tan is truer in this top picture. 
The blue is truer to color in this bottom picture. 
See how nice and straight that seam is.  No waves here! Now it can be layered for quilting.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Retro Saturday

Let's go back in time and see what I was doing in June of 2007. I was doing more painting then.  I had not started quilting yet.  But looking at this, I think I see an art quilt.  What do you think?

In the Gloaming
June  12, 2007
In the Gloaming
I was going thru some things and found an old painting that I was never happy with. So I took some gesso and reclaimed the area that is now the "picture" part of the painting- i.e. where the house and trees are. The upper edge was only glazed over with one color. The lower half has some bits added but is largely unchanged also. Amazingly the entire mood has changed. I wish the photo did this piece justice. (fyi- I replaced the original picture with a better one.) Due to some glossy bits used in texturing I could not get a great photo of it. Just be assured -it is better in person.

This painting is an abstract landscape painted using textures, transparent layers and a hand carved stamp.
I like the mysterious peacefulness of this painting.

Do you ever go back into your past for inspiration?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yes I can!

Yes I can learn to do free motion quilting. And I am pretty sure  you can too!
I am having a blast with this class on Craftsy Free Motion Fillers Vol. 1 Class.  Leah Day is the teacher and she really inspires my confidence that I can do it.
I need practice to get better, but I see vast improvement already.
Here is a piece of the back of the quilt.
And here are two photos of the front.

I have quilted eleven of the twenty-one blocks on the front of this quilt as well as over half of the background stippling.  I am learning new designs to try as well as repeating a couple I have worked on in the past such as an "in and out swirl" and pebbling.
This quilt will have so much texture when it is done.  I can hardly wait to wash it and they enjoy that quilty feel.  But I still have a long way to go for a finish!

I just want to say that if you are undecided about taking an online class, you should try one of the free classes on Craftsy.   One class you can try is the Craftsy Block of the Month 2013.  Or maybe you would like to try Creative Quilt Backs.  Both of those are free and will give  you an idea of how the Craftsy classes work. In the paid classes the instructors will answer your questions and they are usually pretty fast.  However since the classes are so well thought out, I rarely have to ask a question.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Finally BACK at it

The title of this post is has a double meaning. In fact it is a bit of a pun. (sorry.) What it means is that I am working on a backing for my class quilt.
I have sewn the borders on the other half (really 4 sevenths) of the quilt.
A bit of piecing with both large and small pieces of fabric created the backing for the first part.
Those neutrals almost get lost on this carpet!
You may see a bit of a theme from the front of the quilt. I decided to carry some of the color scheme from the front to the back.  I did not duplicate the actual design but sort of echoed it.  You may notice a bit of variance though.
The backing is larger than the front. to allow for shrinkage during quilting.
You can see how it extends beyond the front.  That right edge is a bit scary - the batting comes just to the edge of the quilt top.  I will have to be careful there! I am thinking maybe machine basting that edge.

I used a fusible batting for this and I am not overly thrilled with the application process. There were virtually no instructions on the package, so I took to the web and found some. This is the one that I read. I knew that I did not have a table that big nor one that I can iron on. Arrgh.  So I put it together in the floor and hand pressed it. I carried it to the ironing board and pressed - and pressed - and pressed.  Sigh! then I realized that some of the top extended past some of the backing .  Arrgh! I gently peeled off the backing and reapplied it. Back to the ironing board where I pressed - and pressed - and pressed some more. That is why I am not re-positioning the top for that one little edge.  I think my hairspray method - which I also press after doing also - works better and is generally cheaper.  But I did get a bargain on this fusible batting, so I decided to try it.
Have you tried fusible batting?  Did you love it?  like it?  hate it?  I am curious at how others feel about it.
I can see using it for smaller projects. So after this quilt, unless it quilts out amazingly well, the rest of this queen size bat will be reserved for small projects.

Monday, June 03, 2013


Today I popped the soap out of the molds.  Then I sliced it into bars -which is super easy with the bar trays as I cut on the lines.  It is stacked on a wooden rack that I found somewhere. I have no idea what it was really made for.

There are twenty-four bars of delightful smelling soap.  (I need to remember that fragrance blend. good think it is in a blog post!)  Now it takes 3 to 4 weeks to cure.  Then it is ready to use.  You may notice some imperfections on the surface of some of the bars.  Apparently this batch is a bit soft.  Next time I plan to add some ingredients to make a harder bar of soap.
Now if you are interested in reading an in depth tutorial on making soap, there is another quilter, Vicki Welsh who has written one.  It is in two parts - Part One  and Part Two.  Vicki mentions the Majestic Mountain Sage website and the lye calculator.  This is the lye calculator I have used since I started making soap and it works well for me.  My molds that you saw in the previous post on making soap came from them. They are the Rectangle Bar Tray molds.   There are similar tray molds with designs or words (handmade, etc.) on them, but I find that just makes it more difficult to get the soap out of the mold.
Oh yes, Vicki also hand dyes some wonderful fabric - if you need WANT some hand dyed fabric.

In quilty news,  the top for my quilt that I started Friday night is nearly finished.  The other "half" still needs borders but other than that it is done.  Now I can start quilting along with Leah Day in the class I am taking on Craftsy.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

A lovely visit AND a start

Saturday was a delightful day. I had the joy of meeting up with another blogger.  Sue and her bloke are visiting the USA for a bit and came through part of Alabama.  Sue blogs at Charlotte's Cottage. I have been reading her blog for quite a while, so long that I don't remember how I found her. Ha ha.  The first I really remember is a delightful post she did on making a scarf, but she wrote it as a fairy story.  It was very nice and it stayed in my memory.  I suppose I realized I had found a truly creative soul.
But, onward to the more recent past.  For our meeting, we chose to have lunch.  Since Sue and the bloke had never been to a Cracker Barrel -and they were interested in local food, we decided that would be a great choice.
Since they had salads, we asked for an order of cornbread so they could try it. Our sweet waitress also brought some apple butter with the cornbread. Mmmm good stuff.
No trip to Cracker Barrel is complete with out looking in the gift shop.
 Are you surprised that a quilter looked at the quilts that were hanging there? No, I didn't think so. Sadly these are made in China.
Sues' bloke found a DVD set he would have liked to have, but  as Australia uses a different DVD region encoding, we were afraid it would not work when he got it home.
And I thought I was the only one who remembered F Troop fondly!

And of course we had to have a picture in the rocking chairs on the front porch.
Now,  for the rest of the day, I started working on a quilt top.  I had cut the pieces Friday night.  So I got to sewing right away.

The full quilt will be seven rows, so this is three-seventh's of a  quilt top.  My plan is to make it in two sections. One will be this row of three and the other will be a row of four. I find it much easier to manipulate that way. I simply don't have space for putting two or three tables together to hold a full quilt adequately.
I have to say that I am loving this quilt already.  I may make it again using patterned fabrics for the color parts.  But for the free motion class near solids and solids were important. I won't be distracted by the patterns in the fabric.