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Happiness is…

going on retreat with quilters. Thank you Liz E. and Denise G. for organizing. Camp Egan is a United Methodist camp and retreat center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. We stayed in Holliman Hall, which has a wonderfully lit work space, kitchen and rooms for sleeping–a very clean motel! We walked over to another building for meals, but who cares–someone else was cooking. We were joined by a mission group of young people who did rhythmic table banging, asked us to join in prayer, and let us cut in line. Sometimes being older has its advantages.

I brought a mini-iron caddy and a pile of microwave bowls to sew up

and took both classes, a zippered tablet pouch by Janet R.

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and confetti landscape by Leeanna W.

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I had an allergic reaction to my pouch fabrics which for some reason were unwashed so I didn’t finish that. The quilted pieces are washed and ready to finish. The landscape class was a little different than what I have done in the past–place larger confetti fabric pieces directly on batting with backing, cover with tulle, stitch down to hold in place. Here is my landscape so far. I laid down a fairly light background and have started adding rocks, covered with a light grey tulle. I used a postcard of The Witch Tree (named Manidoo-giizhikens, or Little Cedar Spirit Tree, by the Ojibwe). It is located in Grand Portage, Minnesota, on Lake Superior. A future post will take you more through the process. Photo by Charles and Joann Jordon.

My microwave bowls feature sugar skulls, which fascinate me–so much so that I did a self-portrait of myself as a sugar skull with a stream of consciousness essay on the label–all of which just popped into my head as I was working on this project–it wouldn’t shut up, so I wrote it down. I realize that sugar skulls are more associated with Dia de los Muertos, but I see it all as celebration of the departed.

Self-Portrait/Sugar Skull, quilted/embellished

after I’m gone

…when my job here is done I’ll be buried in my mushroom suit and weird wildflowers never before seen or named will sprout up along with daisies and Icelandic poppies and wind anemones and Johnny jump ups will play all day long and maybe into the night. Pluto will once again be a planet and you’ll find tan m&ms in your Halloween candy because they taste the best. In my new world there will be eclipses every month and stars will nova every night–watch for them because that’s me–everyone will be kind, color blind, and rewind. More people will be artists of some kind and have Fun Fridays and Silly Saturdays and stuff like that. the end.

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Besides burial in mushroom bags (TED Talk, Mushroom Death Suit), there are green cemeteries sprouting up (see Green Burial Council), no embalming, good for the environment. There are none in Arkansas yet, but there is talk! And I think Pluto has once again been declared a planet.

I’ve run on long enough–need to get busy. We have really good color this fall. Have a safe Halloween. Till next time–

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April Challenge

I joined a private FB group in January.  Each month we set a personal goal to work on daily, the idea being to effect some kind of positive change in our lives.  Our goals range from enhancing a beauty routine, to weight loss/fitness goals, to organizing our desktops or files on our computer, to business goals.  You get the idea.  The psycho-experts out there estimate that it takes anywhere from 7-21 days to ingrain a new habit into our lives.  By putting our goals out there, we have continued support — daily if you want it — and hints about what works for others.  My April goal has been to work only on my self-portrait and UFOs (unfinished objects).  I worked on my self-portrait for the first five days and then started tackling my pile of unfinished quilts.  Some just needed to be quilted or have labels sewn on.  My pile of night time handwork has gotten bigger but that means things are getting done.  I did have to sneak in a small new project, a padded travel case for my daughter’s keyboard.  She is always putting her Mac and keyboard in a backpack and said keyboard finally bit the biscuit.  While searching for a new keyboard and carrying case, we spied a travel keyboard that folds in half to about the size of an I-pad but it doesn’t have a number pad so that one’s still in the store.  We’ll start with this project.  I used about a yard of fabric for both the outside and inside and some Soft and Stable byannie.com.  It’s a 100% polyester foam-like material, for bags and beyond.

http://www.byannie.com/

I searched in my Pinterest FMQ file for a simple quilt design and chose this one.

Spirl with Line quilt design

Spirl with Line quilt design

Here’s the loop for a button closure.  You can use ponytail bands for these.  I’ll get back to finishing this project as soon as I finish binding the edges.

Loop for button closure

Loop for button closure

 

I practiced on my white board before making a quilt sandwich.  Here are two spiral designs you can try.

Straight line with spiral

Straight line with spiral

Spiral

Spiral

In my ongoing effort to use up fabric, I pulled out this little print from centuries ago.

Quilt sandwich

Quilt sandwich

A lot of quilters like to back their quilts with a little print like this–you quilting stitches don’t show up much so it hides your stitching if you are less than a confident quilter, not that experienced quilters don’t have bobbles and mistakes.  Here’s a little batting hint.  One side of your batting is cleaner and smoother than the other so put that side up, facing your quilt top.

Batting

Batting

I did a lot of practicing yesterday and went through four small quilt sandwiches before finally deciding to use the same line with spiral design on my Gelato tablerunner.  Here is the quilt halfway done.

Quilting design

Quilting design

When I was ready to quit for the day, I looked up at my screen to see what was playing: It was Where the Rainbow Ends, by Northern Sinfonia of England, written by Roger Quilter.  I just can’t make this stuff up.  I’ll show you the table runner after I finish stitching the binding and putting on the label.

So back to my April challenge.  Here is where my self-portrait is–I have some Kreinik iron-on ribbon I’m going to use.  The stickiness has gone so I need to see if I can still iron it in place before stitching.  I’m on a spiral kick this week I guess because I made these spirals–my portrait is starting to look like a party’s going one here.  I’ll talk more about this challenge in a future post.

Adding flowers and spirals

Adding flowers and spirals

This quilt has been finished except for sewing on a label and one quilt square on the back. This is called Memory game–there are two of each center square, except that one square had to go on the back of the quilt.  It’s a variation of a quilt called Cappuccino, by Joyce Stewart, as seen in McCall’s Quick Quilts, November 2008.

Memory Game

Memory Game

This quilt also just needed a label: String Theory1, inspired by Heart Strings by Jennifer Rounds and friends, as seen in The Quilt Life, February 2012.  I went crazy with an all-over feather design.  I thought I had better photos–will have to retake these.

StringTheory

String Theory1

StringFeathers3

Feather Quilting

Then, there’s this quilt, Waiting for Spring, which I quilted and bound in April, 2014.  So what was the problem?  When I went to weave in all the thread ends, I noticed that my tension was off in the section with the small squares.  Here’s a close-up to give you an idea.

Bad quilting tension

Bad quilting tension

Like an idiot, I start ripping out the worst portions and then was going to rip out this whole section.  Well that lasted a couple hours and I saw the error of my stinking thinking, requilted where I had ripped and have now called it good.  By the time it’s up on the wall, I won’t even see it and neither will anyone else.  Lesson Learned: Aways check the back when you start free-motion quilting on your project to make sure the tension is correct.

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring

So that’s it for today.  I’ll be back later in the week with more quilting news.  Also on my list for this week, file all my photos on my computer and find out why Internet Explorer stops working every time I try to type a hyphenated word into tags for my posts.  It’s driving me ka-razy.  Till next time–

 

Picturing the Male Self

This is a series of male self-portraits presented at Crystal Bridges.  The photographs are rather dark–I was experimenting with a manual setting to compensate for the museum lighting.

Picturing the Male Self

Picturing the Male Self

We’ll start with this sculpture–I think it would be interesting to just sit near this to watch people’s reactions, it is so detailed and lifelike.  Evan Penny, aluminum, silicone, pigment, hair, fabric.

Old Self-Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be, Variation #2, 2010

Old Self-Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be, Variation #2, 2010

Self-Portrait, 2011

Self-Portrait, 2011, David Bates

Self-Portrait, 1911

Self-Portrait, 1911, Morton Livingston Schamberg

Self-Portrait Among Churchgoers, 1939

Self-Portrait Among Churchgoers, 1939, Ben Shahn

Self-Portrait, 1935

Self-Portrait, 1935, Paul Cadmus

Studio: End of Day, 1961

Studio: End of Day, 1961, John Koch

This next is based on black and white photos by Sam Samore.

Untitled (After Sam), 2006

Untitled (After Sam), 2006, Rudolf Stengel

Self-Portrait, n.d.

Self-Portrait, n.d., Joseph Stella

Self-Portrait, 1935

Self-Portrait, 1935, John Stewart Curry

The Closed Window, 2001

The Closed Window, 2001, Will Barnet

Self-Portrait, 1912

Self-Portrait, 1912, Stuart Davis

Self-Portrait, 1933

Self-Portrait, 1933, Oscar Bluemner

Man & Wife, 1944

Man & Wife, 1944, Milton Avery

It strikes me that not only are these men not smiling nor do they seem to be enjoying life or their art, but some of them look truly miserable.  What comes first, the art or the angst?

Speaking of self-portraits, my art quilt group has a new challenge: Self-Portrait.  We don’t have too many rules for this one and the initial idea came from the late quilt artist,  Yvonne Porcella.  Have you done a self-portrait?  Do you have a favorite self-portrait?  Send me a link if you do and search for Yvonne Porcella’s Self-Portrait class for some colorful examples.

http://yvonneporcella.com/