Spring has sprung. The vernal equinox arrives to 46 and rain with the possibility of sun and a Super Moon tonight. Last weekend I spent two days in my tiny garden which surrounds our birdbath, digging up the miniature sedum I planted last year. It is too invasive so I’ll be replacing it with more hens and chicks, most of which survived the winter. Hey, I figured if they could survive Minnesota winters, they could survive here. I could not quite finish because there was a nest with critters (mice or squirrels)–there was a SQUEAK when I gently poked at it. Either mom came during the night and took the babies or some other varmint took care of them.
We were really excited last weekend when a male bluebird flew onto the bluebird house. Then I noticed the female was looking into the nest hole. When they flew off, I got my camera and went into stealth mode by the maple tree and waited. and waited. Finally they came back and perched on the fence when suddenly a chickadee flew out. I need to put a sign out–Bluebirds Only. Rats. Bluebirds actually fletch three times so we may yet be able to host them later this summer. Bella Vista is the world capital for bluebirds. Later in the year I’ll have the local count.
I started a new mailing box for upcycling. A couple years ago when I was removing a mailing label from an envelope, it ripped off the top layers revealing the corrugation and I thought that would be a good substrate for a mixed media project. And why not try this on a box! So I just worked at one side at a time and voila. I left the bottom intact to preserve the sturdiness of the box and have not decided how much to remove from the top yet.
Our modern quilt guild met on Tuesday night. Our leaders had attended Quilt Con in Austin and brought back some fabric scraps from a newish fabric company called Cotton+Steel. I really need another project and challenge in my life so I bought a baggie of scraps. The challenge is to make a project – tote, quilt, wallhanging, anything – using the scraps, adding only other Cotton+Steel fabrics and/or solid fabric, and using an alternate grid pattern. One of my fabrics has a jack pictured from the Playful line so my theme is going to be Let’s Play. These are the scraps I get to play with, all from different Cotton+Steel collections.
In the meantime I finally started on my slice for a group quilt. Our design is divided up into nine sections. Each section will be rendered in a bright color, my color being orange in a rainbow spectrum from yellow to blue. We will each be putting in some chartreuse to each slice. After we piece it all together, we will add wrought iron fencing. Yesterday I finalized my drawing and did a couple of practice leaves. Since you can see through the drawing, I turned it over and traced the leaves in mirror image onto paperbacked Wonder Under. Directions are to press the fusible to your applique with a hot iron for 5-8 seconds, let cool, remove paper backing. Then to affix the applique, place on background fabric, cover with a damp press cloth, and iron for 15 seconds. Lift and press with your iron, versus scrubbing back and forth. Finishing pressing till the moisture is removed (I pressed from the back). Be sure to do all this work on a Teflon sheet or parchment to keep your iron and ironing board cover clean. Next I experimented with zigzagging the edges. I placed some Sulky Solvy water-soluble stabilizer underneath. Actually I forgot to do this on the second leaf but because I was sewing slowly, it was okay. I used an 11/75 needle (which still left needle holes), Superior MonoPoly (versus nylon), zigzag at 1.4, straight stitch at 1.3 (Mode 1, Stitch #8 on Janome). If you can, adjust your speed down, use the needle down option, and proceed slowly. Start away from a point, with the needle down at the edge of the fabric, and pivot often if you have angles and curves. When I get to a point, I sew three stitches using the hand wheel so that all three stitches bite in the same hole away from the edge. Now I need to check with the group to see if my oranges are different from the fabrics on either side and if this applique method is sturdy enough for blocking and longarm quilting. Oh and we are all using the same ombre grey background, replacing the bluish portion with green.
I have been knitting small projects at night but soon I will be crocheting some hanger covers. This is what is left of the foam hanger covers. In the old days, drycleaners had hangers with foam that completely cover the hanger top (before that there was a paper cover over the whole hanger). Now they only cover the shoulder area and these won’t stay on any more–they held up pretty well considering I can’t remember the last time I went to the dry cleaners.
Until next time, buh-bye and enjoy the first day of spring and the solar eclipse.
I guess it’s been two weeks since my last post–I needed to fly up to Minnesota for a family emergency. It was 30-below windchill when I got there and not much warmer when I left. In fact it has been bitterly cold or sleeting/snowing here in NW Arkansas. I hope this last snowfall is the end of winter here. At least the sun is shining! Well actually, the moon is shining but sun is forecast for the second day in a row.
I didn’t know what to work on when I finally felt like doing something–my work table was covered with art and bookbinding supplies. I’ve been trying to get to a book about Halloween, requested by my sister, but just can’t seem to get started. Whatever–I decided that I needed to organize my supplies just a little better so I could actually find things. I saved three mailing boxes last year that I think will suit my needs, but of course I cannot just throw stuff in the box and label it. Oh no, I have to decorate it so what better excuse is there to try new techniques. My daughter and I were going to take a pastel drawing class. I already had a box of soft pastels and then purchased pastel paper. Alas, the class was cancelled because not enough people signed up–rats. Here are the supplies I used.
I forgot to take a picture of the first step, but I used the long sides of the chalk and covered my paper with whites, then starting in the center with the lightest to darkest, used all the neutrals (greys and browns). Then I again started in the middle and blended it all with a blender stump until it looked like this.
Next I covered the entire piece with Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels. I used my metal spackling spatula because the brush was not working so well–I did about one third of the page at a time, spreading it vertically and then horizontally. At the end I needed to catch the corners and left a little bit more texture. I let this dry overnight but before I quit for the day, I free-cut some letters from a coffee cup sleeve from a place not Starbucks because the color was perfect and I loved the texture. I used a toothpick to paint the edges to give them a little definition. The paper is curled somewhat for this project; otherwise, I could weight it down after it dries to flatten it.
This morning at an ungodly hour I proceeded, mixing a little bit of brown acrylic paint with water in a mini-mister. I set up a cardboard paint booth, laid down some wood gears, and sprayed. Too much water, so I mopped it up with paper towel and then mixed up some black/water and used a brush to add some speckles. Load a round brush with the paint mixture and tap the handle with another brush.
I try not to angst about my work, thinking that I ruined my pastel page–by the time I put the lettering on and whosknowswhatelse, I will have a nice cover for my supply box. I have two more boxes to cover so I can try, try again. It’s all good.
Here I have Mod Podged the lettering down. Tomorrow (or maybe later today) I’ll decide how to finish the page and adhere it to the box.
Have a great day–may it be sunny and full of creativity. When in doubt, make art.