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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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The Self-Portrait Project

My art quilt group has a new challenge (which we started talking about in January or February) and I finally got inspired this week.  The original idea came from the self-portraits of Yvonne Porcella, a multi-talented quilt artist who just recently passed. Red was a neutral color to Yvonne–look for her books online and at your local library.  I believe her website is still up and there is a challenge out there in her honor.  Technical difficulties today–cut and paste the following link to your browser.

Call for Entries! Celebrating Yvonne Porcella

The only rules we have for our group challenge is that the portrait should be on a darkish background (no white or pastels) and can be any dimension or shape as long as it fits within a 20 x 20-inch square.  I chose a purplish-blue from one of my hand dyed parfaits.  My inspiration was sugar skulls that you see in Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, November 1) celebrations.  Candy, sugar skull–get it?  So I drew out a classic head and started with the mouth.  I am using Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 by The Warm Companyon on all of the fabrics.  Follow the directions that come with the product, which is a fusible with two backing papers.  Take off the paper which comes off easily, finger press the fusible to the wrong side of the fabric, draw your shape on the remaining paper, and cut out your shapes.

Hand pressing applique

Hand pressing applique

Cuttiing out applique

Cutting out applique

Placing applique on background

Placing applique on background

Head steamed in place

Head steamed in place

If the shapes are small, run a dry iron over the piece.  The best thing about this project is that you can stick your shapes to your project and move them around until you’re ready to permanently fuse.  Then use steam for 15-20 seconds.  So far I have only fused my head shape to the background and zigzagged the edge with mono-poly clear thread.    Here is my drawing, traced to a sheer non-fusible interfacing that I basted to the background.  Cut your shapes, lift the tracing, and put in place.

Overlay

Overlay

Mouth

Mouth

Backing up, I traced the teeth onto a white star fabric and ran a dry iron over it, the pieces being really small.

Teeth and mouth

Teeth and mouth

I started in the middle to place the teeth, cutting out one tooth at a time.  As you can see above, I numbered the teeth but you have to remember that everything is backwards so the number order didn’t totally help.

Placing teeth

Placing teeth

After placing the teeth, I pressed on some fusible to the back of the black fabric and cut out the entire mouth, placing it on the head.

Mouth

Mouth

Sunflower hair

Sunflower hair

Last night I cut out a ton of flowers.  Today, I cut out some more and some centers.

Flowers

Flowers

In 2004, I took a fabric painting class from Phil Beaver (actually his assistant as he had just had a heart attack) and I used some of the sunflower templates for my hair.  So here is my portrait so far–I have teeth and hair and a few flowers.  That’s it for the day.  Next time, I’ll show you more progress and talk about another challenge I have going with a secret FB group.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get out and finish up my garden project and plant my pansies.   We have another freeze warning tonight–hope it’s the last one.  I was going to photograph my new dogwood every day but there really has not been much to photograph with the cold nights we’ve had–maybe next week.  Can I hope that it will bloom this year or just be content with the area dogwoods.  Here’s one of my photos from years past.  For now, I have dogwood envy.

DogwoodLatshaw1

DogwoodLatshaw1