Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Inside my quilt scrapbook

Awhile ago I posted a photo of the quilted cover of my quilt scrapbook, and Melinda suggested that I show some of the interior pages, so I am following through on that great idea. The book pages are 6x8, just the perfect size. I made the information form with my scrapbooking program. I am not completely satisfied with the form headings for the quilt details. They may change over time.

I had a lot of fun making this quilt, inspired from the Thinking Outside the Block book.

The "Happy Blocks" for this 75x53 quilt were obtained in an internet swap with the StashBuilders Yahoo group. A quilt back is often a place for me to play around, and I had to work hard to make this one purposely off-kilter!

A number of my pages do not yet have the information filled in. I am saving that job for cold winter days. This quilt, about 30x40 (rough estimate, since it is hanging on the wall of my Hideaway studio where I am NOT, at the moment), was created entirely of 1.5" squares (hence the pixelated look) from a photo I took near Moab, Utah. I hand drew this one, though now I discover there are programs that can do all the work for you.

I now have more quilt pictures than pages in my scrapbook, and no more room to insert more pages, so I am shopping for a new book. The next quilted scrapbook cover will most likely make use of some of my surface-design practice pieces.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A chairful day

Whilst moving my studio furniture, AKA stuff other people have gotten rid of, I came across several extra ugly chairs and decided to do something about them.

The first one is a very old wheeled office chair. The black nylon fiber covering the seat and back was in such a state that the chair was not inviting to sit in. I made a couple of quick tie-on denim slipcovers after appliqueing (fused and zigzagged with monofilament) beautiful fabric leaves from yardage Linda gave me from her extensive fabric stash.

The second two chairs are still in progress. Today was the wash-and-sand day. These chairs are incredibly sturdy, possibly due to the many coats of paint holding them together. In the various dings in the finish, you can see the evolution of color over the years from light to dark:
  1. Plain wood (pine? I don't know)
  2. White
  3. Pastel yellow
  4. Green (that icky institutional green)
  5. Dark brown
  6. Red
  7. Tan
  8. Black

I don't want to lose the history of this amazing amount of paint -- and in the most recent case, amazingly drippy paint job -- so I am going to add another paint layer over what's already there. They will be multicolored, though I am not exactly sure in what way, possibly crackled. The design will grow with the project and will somewhat depend on the colors I already have on hand.

My philosophy: I can't make a mistake with these chairs, so I will forge ahead with confidence.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Critter haven for rest and relaxation

On the way to getting my Hideaway studio floor all polished - a seasonal thing I do after the harvest has kicked up the dust and spread it thickly over everything I own, I got sidetracked. It usually turns out to be a three-day job, this floor-polishing project, because I always get a little sidetracked.

Today, as I was moving all the previously moved furniture from the unpolished part of the room to the part I polished yesterday, I considered my antique sewing machine. Its wooden case could use a little Tung Oil, I thought. So out came the tung oil, and a-polishing I did go. Just as I finished the last of the six drawers, I knocked over the tung oil can, one of those pesky things that can't stand on its own foot when jostled a little. It went plop on the floor, splashing oil three feet away, and glugged out a half-cup puddle onto the unswept floor. I saved as much of the now-dirty oil as I could, and thinking it might work as a solvent on the Jackson Pollock-style floor paint, as many oils do,immediately cleaned it off the floor with Spic and Span.

OK, that was interruption #1.

Interruption #2 came when I considered my ironing board cover. My ironing board is a wooden table about the size of a twin bed, originally made by my dad, along with about ten other tables, for use in our packing shed when we were growing Asian pears commercially. I love it. Perfect for ironing large pieces of flat fabric. It is covered with batting, a mattress pad, silver-coated ironing board fabric, and a stretchy knitted bottom twin sheet. The sheet had started to turn brown in the middle from many ironings scorching the fabric and the dust that settles there every minute of every day.

The words, "Dye it," were recognized in the nether regions of my brain. First it had to be washed, and now it is sitting in a bucket of blue dye, topped with black dye (modified "color parfait" method from Color by Accident) out in the nearly 100 degree afternoon. I hope it will come out darkly mottled. Then I might do a little discharging with my bleach pen, just for fun. "Ain't nothing bad can happen to this bottom sheet," so it is said.

Interruption #2 ended, #3 was fast approaching. It must be noted that I have not yet mentioned the "To do" list I kept running to and scribbling full of to-do ideas as they made themselves apparent during my furniture-moving moments. Make covers for folding chairs. Paint mismatched cabinet wood. Handpaint grassy flower border along walls. Make sleeves for small quilts. Etc. Ten or eleven items so far. I now have enough projects to keep me going until Thanksgiving, providing I don't take a trip anywhere. Ha.

All furniture having been moved, I started sweeping, and there was interruption #3, horrible sight, a pile of doggy doo (should have been #2) in the corner under my ancient TV (any TV that is not flat now looks ancient). I touched it tentatively with my broom, wondering how many years it could have been since Mattie had left such a mess there and I not seen it. Impossible; I'd swept under there only last March. :) It was dry, totally dry. Swept it out all the way, and this is what I saw:

Poor little froggy. Came into the Hideaway one evening, probably, while I was sewing with the doors open, which I love to do, and never found its way out again. I went out to show the little girls, and they were all properly disgusted, but then told me about the hummingbird that had gotten caught inside the Hideaway several weeks ago and was now hanging from the wire from which my dad used to hang his model airplanes. I hadn't noticed, but went inside, and there it was, hanging head down, looking like it had gone to sleep and never let go of the wire. When I retrieved it, however, I found that a spider web was what was holding it to the wire. I believe it is the skylights that always confuse the birds when they come in. They are so bright that the birds always fly towards the skylights rather than the doors when they try to get out.

The mummified hummingbird looks as if it's drawing nectar from a flower.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 4

Round 4 of the International Friendship Quilters' "Round Robin" Ostrich Quilt was revealed on September 9, a churn dash block. I started out with green and gold blocks (cutting into my beautiful hand-dyed gold fabric was hard to do) and didn't like the brightness of it, so decided to make this round, and probably the next few rounds, more subdued, making the center square up to this point a colorful medallion in the middle of the rest of the quilt. You can see that the churn dash blocks on the far left are a reversed image of those on the right.

This quilt is different than anything I've made before, and since at this point I don't think I'll ever do anything like it again, I've decided I will enjoy the little bit of tedium (brain vacation) that comes from cutting, sewing, ironing, and trimming repetitively. While the colors are symmetrical, I decided to break away from the strictly traditional look by not making the block designs themselves symmetrical. It makes a person take a second look, which may or may not be a good thing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Piecing, traditional style

What is a traditional quilt? That's a question that comes up now and again on the Quiltart.com list. I don't have a hard and fast definition myself, but I know what it feels like to make one: tedious, at least for me.

As part of my ongoing project to make a quilt from my greatgrandmother's block, I made sixteen (only 16, and felt I was persecuting myself) churn dash blocks from my hand-dyed fabric, only to decide that another color combination would have been better. Cutting and sewing 128 rectangles, 128 triangles, and 16 center squares is repetitive enough to make me want to wash windows for relaxation (ha), and now that I'm facing going through the whole process again in order to improve on the color choice, I have special appreciation for the quilt makers of more than a century ago, when it was all done by hand.

So what is a traditional quilt? As soon as I start feeling as if I'm a machine, doing the same thing over and over again, I know I am making a traditional pieced quilt, even if the end result is nothing like my grandmother would have devised.

As to what I will do with these, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking: handbags.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Black widow

While I enjoy traveling, camping, visiting family and friends, it is so nice to be home again and back in the Hideaway, creating away with my always-present eight-legged companions. I wouldn't mourn much if most of them were gone, but was thankful for their presence yesterday when swarms of fruit flies erupted overnight from the piles of apples and grapes in the kitchen area. The spiders have been feasting on the flies, and are now probably in the process of multiplying almost as fast as do the fruit flies.

I recognize there is a small part of me that hasn't grown up yet, and that came to the fore a couple of weeks ago when we visited the bug museum near Colorado Springs. There I saw little bags of plastic bugs, and had a great idea.

"Do you have a bag of black widow spiders?" I asked, thinking of the worst of the denizens of my Hideaway, and of my quilting friends who are strangely paranoid about them.

"No," said the lady running the shop, who just happened to be the granddaughter of the founder and collector of most of the bugs in the Natural History Museum, "but I have this," and she drew out a black widow replica that is about six inches long from toe to toe.

"Good enough," I said, and bought it, planning to share it with my friends. heh heh

The quilting friends' arrivals last night were well spaced out, giving me opportunity to give them individual attention. Ahem.

Friend #1 was mildly surprised.

Friend #2 said, "Thank you for the spider."

Friend #3, whose introduction to the spider was when she found it on the seat of her chair, was startled, giving an indescribable vocalization that would be gratifying to the ear of any practical joker.

I know, I know. Time to grow up.

I wonder if I still have any friends.