Friday, April 30, 2010

Almost there, almost there, ...

That is how I am feeling today. One more long dayof quilting should do it as far as the quilting is concerned. But then, there is the blocking and the squaring of the corners, a little cropping I think too, some fabric inks to deepen the shadows a little more, then facing, sleeves and a label. Now what shall I name it?
A comment from one of my readers n yesterday's blog suggested I should have the shop buy my quilt because I put in all the work at their shop. Well yes I have spent days there, but despite the driving it has not been a bad experience. I would have spent my days quilting no matter what location I was sitting on my butt. There chair in truth is more comfortable than mine, but then it cost more than mine did. Hmmmm... I just might purchase it.
During the time I have been there, I've had lots of visitors to the shop stop and look at what I am doing. I've enjoyed talking to people from all over the world. One of the things that is commonplace being in close proximity to the place where the Mouse lives.
I've had several people inquire about my other work and I have directed them to my website. I've had inquiries about teaching in other locations both in and out of state. Again I've directed them to my website. (I really must get some business cards made.
So not only am I promoting Bernina as a sewing machine, I never fail to mention to those who inquire if that is the machine I sew on at home, I tell them the story behind why I am sitting in the middle of a quilt store quilting on a Bernina and that I own a Janome.
This piece when finished does not belong to the shop, nor will it be displayed in the shop. It will be brought home and photographed when finished and a digital image of it will be submitted to Bernina for inclusion in their competition that is part of Bernina University and annual event held for Bernina dealers. This years symposium will beheld in Orlando, convenient huh. I am seriously thinking of forking over the $399.00 it cost to attend.
If the quilt gets juried in, it will be displayed there. If not, it will be rolled up and stored or sold if anyone is interested in purchasing it, just like the rest of my work.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Isn't it cute

I thought so when I saw it in an art supply catalog that arrived in the mail last week about the same time I decided to upgrade to a nicer, more sturdy easel after I found I like painting at one. I was planning to wait to purchase a nicer one from Michaels with a 40% off coupon. But late on Saturday night I placed my order online after I looked at the easels at Michael's again and looked at the ones that were on sale at my favorite art supply store about six miles from my apartment. With all things considered this one. Even with shipping it was cheaper than any of the others. I just hoped that when it came it was as pictured.
It came yesterday and I am not disappointed. Cursed a few times while putting it together. I'm not sure why manufactures of stuff that needs assembling can't write understandable instructions or provide easy to follow diagrams. When it was almost assembled, I realized that four screws were missing, but luckily I found four the size the instructions called for in my tool box. When all I had left to do was put on the coaster wheels I realized that I needed to get out the electric drill to enlarge the holes on the bottom of the easels in order to screw the screws into the wood that is a harder wood than I would have thought. I saved that task until tonight. Ta--dah!!! all done. It takes up so little floor space 20" x 24". Much much less than the three legged one I had. Plus it is collapsible for easy storage. But in truth is too cute to hide away.
Sorry once again no picture of how far I got today, but I am moving right along and it looks like I could get all the quilting done by the time the shop closes on Saturday. 2 more days.....Yeah!!!
Really was not looking forward to going back next week. I need a break from all the driving back and forth. Truth be told, getting up and leaving home everyday is beginning to feel like a JOB.
I'm retired, right. Right!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I arrived at the quilt shop

a little after 10 this morning, having forgone stopping at Joann's on the way. I also opted for the non-interstate and non major highway route because I could see as I passed over the Interstate 4 and thankfully before I got on the ramp that the traffic on I 4 was backed up for miles and creeping.
I don't have a picture of what I got done today, but I would say it was the same measurable amount as yesterday as far as square inch surface area. At the rate I am going due to the size of this piece I will have to go every day, even on Saturday (maybe) and three days next week to finish.
While I was there today a lady came in with three quilts that her great-grand mother had made, back in the early 30's (?) two of them were the kit applique ones and knowing how I love flowers I couldn't help but stop what I was doing and look at them and snap a few pictures. The two floral ones were in great condition. The one with the stars was very worn and was used a lot with a few of the patches because of the dyes or age and use were completely gone, only the quilting stitches and padding remained. I am always amused when "traditional quilters" scoff at machine quilting or the use of the sewing machine to do any part of making a quilt. On close examination of the star quilt showed that the binding had been put on by sewing machine. The machine stitches with white thread were visible on the right side of the quilt as if the binding had been put on in one step sewing through all the layers at one time but aren't the colors of her great-grand mother's era quilts lovely.

Someone asked if I liked sewing on the Bernina and if I could compare it to my Janome.
I think sewing machines are like cars. We all have our favorite, we all have ones we wish we had, but due to money or too many kids or what ever, we select the one that suits us best at that point in our life. A two seater Mercedes has been on my wish list for a long long time, but even now when kids or money is not the issue, I know how unrealistic it would be for me to own one. I still haul around too much stuff.
However a Bernina has never been on my want or wish list. The first machine I found that liked me was a Janome and I progressed from that basic model to a 4800 to a 7500 to a 6500 and now to a 6600P as I became more and more comfortable with machine quilting.
I love the size of the harp the 6600P has, until recently Bernina did not make a model with a large harp area and now Janome has a model coming out with an even larger space between the needle and the housing on the right, I think about 11 to 12 inches.
Because I started machine quilting on a machine with the standard size harp area going back to the smaller area that the machine I am using now, a stripped down Bernina 730 with a standard size harp area , by stripped down I mean, no stitch regulator, I am not having a hard time quilting on it.
I now have about 25 hours of user time on the Bernina and that come no where near to the
amount of hours I have logged on my Janome since I brought it at the end of 2005. So I have to ask myself this question to answer the person who commented on the last post.
"If someone gave me a Bernina would I use it?"
" Yes."
"Would I give up my Janome to get it?"
" NO!"
Am I planning to look at and test drive the new Janome when the dealer close to me calls me to say he has one in the store. Yes of course, sight unseen, it has moved to the top of my wish list.
Oh yes. in answer to the same person. I am doing free motion quilting on this piece so when you lower the feed dogs it is the machine operator that regulates the stitch length, not the machine.
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Day one

This is what I got done in 4 hours on Monday. Got to the shop later than I had planned. Had to head out from home in a different direction that prevented me going directly to Kissimmee . I had to get one of the many books on CD I have stocked piled to listen to while I work back to the Library. Don't want any late fees, unlike Columbia, MO, here they charge overdue fees. Plus I know how it is to want a book that is on the wait list and even Money by Dick Francis I had checked out was wanted by someone else. I moved it quickly to the top of the pile and listened to it over the weekend as I painted. I also stopped by the art supply store , (It was in the same direction as the library) not that I needed an excuse to drop in. Picked up 7 more tubes of watercolor paint. (in price, equivalent to buying 7 yards of fabric, but they will go soooooooo much further)

If you had wanted to see a woman dashing madly about her apartment on Sunday with a broom in hand, you should have been here. This little critter had the nerve to sneak through the small opening at the bottom of the screen to the patio while I enjoying the breeze and low humidity of the day. It is rare that I open my glass door to the patio, not since I realized that millipedes also like entering my apartment through the same small hole. At least them I don't have to chase, just bend over and scoop up with a stiff piece of paper. Depending on how charitable I am being on any given day I have deposited them back in the garden or in the toilet and flushed. But I hadn't seen any of them crawling around lately so I was fooled into thinking it was safe to open the slider.
Next time, I will plug the hole with something.
Now I am off to brave the traffic, hummmm.... think I'll stop at Joann fabrics on the way, there's a 40% off coupon in my pocket wanting to be used.
Will let you know how day two goes.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

An answer for Carol

She asked if I was talking about regular watercolor paint in a tube. Yes, but make sure it is artist grade and not student grade and select those colors that have the highest light fastness rating as well as staining, which means they want lift with water from paper something a water colorist needs to know and me too since I don't want the colors to wash out. Not that I plan to wash my work when it is done. I do test each new color I purchase by painting a little of it on cloth diluted with soy milk, let set over night or steam set with an iron if I am impatient and wash it by hand with warm water and a little liquid Joy to see how much color is lost. My findings so far is that you can't get rid of yellows, no matter how hard you try. As I said, I have used Grumbacher in the house, left over from when I was doing water color on paper, but for fabric, I really prefer Daniel Smith because they are more pigmented. My local art supply store carries the DS brand as well as several other high quality watercolor pigments. Ones that you can not purchase at Michael's or Joann's. If you are tempted to try painting with water color pigments on soy milk soaked fabric I would get a warm and a cool yellow, a warm and a cool blue and a warm and a cool red then mix your own secondary colors. Any other questions, just ask and I will tell you want I know. I am still learning myself, but I know I will be at it a while. I love it.
Off to Kissimmee on Monday.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Question answering Sunday

I've gotten several comments on the last few blog entries I've made so I thought I would do a, "here's the answers to your questions", session.
I do sell my work but don't like posting prices online, so if anyone is seriously interested in something I am doing please inquire by phone at 502-244-8812 or by e-mail at
The reds Karoda was asking about were achieved with watercolor paints, a new technique I am really in love with because it lets me partake of two things that make me happy; painting and quilting.
Over the years beginning almost immediately when I first started to make quilts, the pieces I sewed together got larger and larger, so making a quilt for me wasn't about the piecing, and after a time the scale of my appliqued pieces grew too, not that they were every small as in the Baltimore album sense to begin with. Hence my large scale flowers.
I, the person who thinks bigger is better is sitting here now as I am writing, looking at my print/paint surface thinking, "how can I make it larger and keep it portable". You see I want to be able to move it to the window area, but put it away when not in use so it can't be too large. (no place to store it). You know a king size bed could hid a multitude of ... which I do have, if it wasn't for the center support legs. :( . So I think my paint surface will max out at 4' x 6'

Back on subject. The pin into surface I have now is 4 feet by 4 feet and made with two, 1" thick pieces of blue insulation foam board, it is cover with one layer of black acrylic craft felt and right now a much laundered piece of cotton duck canvas.

Not only do I have a width limitation of 4 feet with the painting surface, I also have a width limitations with the fabrics I choose to use which at the moment is silk broadcloth (expensive I think) and Roc-lon bleached white muslin from Joann's (as cheap as it gets). But my happiest discovery in this process was finding "Tidy Pins". I use them instead of 'T" pins, less frustrating when you are removing them after you are done painting. Tidy pins are a Dritz notion and I get them at Joann's, but wait for a 50% off notion sale.

Do I get to Chicago? I've been there twice to teach. There's nothing on my schedule for that neck of the wood at this time, but I will go anywhere a plane flies or I can drive to teach so if you want me to come, let me know. We'll talk fees and other arrangement kind of stuff off-line.
As a side thought; I've had some request too arrange a retreat in the Orlando area in Feb. or Mar., 2011 so if you would like to be on the receiving end of this information when it is finalized, let me know.
And now about the quilting. I started out as a hand quilter and I was a right good one at that IMHO and one who was proud of the way my quilt stitch looked front and back. I never was a stick to one color of thread quilter just so the back would look good kind of gal and I carried this philosophy with me into machine quilting. I did try to choose a backing fabric that helped camouflage all the thread color changes but in the beginning I was more concerned about minimizing my stops and starts. All of this fell away to non-importance once I stopped entering judged/juried quilt shows to concentrate on making work in quantity for exhibitions in galleries and museums where no one looked at or cared about what the back of an art quilt looked like. (Who looks at the back of a painting). But I cared so I made my backs neat by doing all of the quilting and thread painting without a backing fabric and added the backing fabric at the end.
On some of my earlier large pieces some additional stitching was required to keep the backing fabric from sagging. I did this for a time until I discovered I could adhere the backing fabric "just nicely, thank you" with WonderUnder. No more sagging, no added stitching required.
But now back to the present and the situation I find myself in now. And that is; the back of the piece I want to submit to the Bernina competition has to have stitching through all the layers visible and neat and since these are the rules and I want to play I have got to do it their way. Therefore I have selected a fabric that has all the colors that I plan to quilt the top with just in case the top tension is not quite right and a top stitch dares show itself on the back, which was what was happening on the first piece. IN MY EXPERIENCE, which is the same as IMHO, and carries the same amount of weight is, it is rare when the tension is right that the bobbin thread shows on the top so I never think about keeping the bottom thread and the top thread the same, plus it is too much trouble to keep changing color in the bobbin ever time I change the top thread color. Besides those vertical bobbins give me the fits. They did before my Janome with the drop in bobbin and they still do I discovered while quilting on the Bernina with the vertical bobbin especially when it is in a cabinet. A small flash light WILL be in my sewing box when I go back to Kissimmee tomorrow, so I can shine a little more light in the bobbin area when I have to refill and replace the thing.
Someone inquired about the paint brushes I use. I love the Royal brand soft grip variety, just for the comfort and I can generally get them at Michael's and I was pleased to learn that the art supply store near me in Winter Park carries them, but just two day ago I discovered while in Michael's Robert Simmons brand of paint brushes, the one I picked up has a long handle but I found I like the weight of it and the balance was right so I brought one to try. I like it and will buy a few more in different sizes. Michael's in their reorganization now sells three varieties of art supplies in their paint "fine art" department, craft/ academic or student and/artist or professional grades which are priced accordingly, I saw that the Royal soft grips are considered a middle grade whereas the Robert Simmons I picked up was a professional grade brush. Despite the fact that I am using water color paints (profession artist) grade Grumbacher or my favorite brand, Daniel Smith or procion dyes in some cases thickened with alginate, I use a brush that can take the roughness of fabric so I use an all purpose brush boars hairs or synthetic bristle designed for acrylics. Water color brushes are much too soft and Round brushes are not at all suitable for my style of painting so I use only "brights" which are a Flat brush with a shorter bristle. I also use slants or flat angles and have them in three sizes1/4, 1/2 and 3/8. the bright range in sizes from 4 to 12 but I use most often the bush size that is about 1/2 inch wide.
Hope this answers all the questions put to me if not comment again.
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There's nothing like

home and your own sewing machine. I finished quilting this piece after dinner tonight. I have blocked it and trued the corners. Not sure at this moment if I will or not crop it a bit more on both the left and right side, As you know I am not happy with the way the back looks. I wrote about this two blog entries ago, So to make myself happier I plan to apply another piece of fabric to the back before facing it, But like always the facing and the sleeves are on hold for now and this piece will join the three other pieces rolled up and waiting in the closet. I can see a week of nothing but facing and sleeve in my future.

The newest piece, the image below, is sandwiched and waiting for me to make the trip to Kissimmee on Monday to give quilting on the Bernina another go. I have blocked out all of next week on my calendar for this project. This time to keep the frustration at a lower level I am using a fabric on the back that is viusally busy and with lots of colors. Maybe no more Drats and Dangs and Darns. AND I am only going to use Isacord and Bottom line, I hope there is a spool of Bottom Line in red in the shop. If not.. I will take along my favorite in the bobbin thread; clear Mono-poly just in case they don't. This piece as pictured measures 44" x 54" but it will quilt up to be smaller and then it will be cropped. So I am looking at it being about 40" x 50" when it is done.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Eventually I am going to get this right

I kept telling myself as I moved from place to place and now I think I have. By that I mean,getting it right where I want to stand or sit to paint. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about packing myself up and moving myself to a corner of the room away from the window. Well that lasted about a week or so. Then I realized that I really really really truly do like being in front of the window best.
So why did I move. I moved away from the window because the print/paint table I had took up too much room and looked uncool, not that I am all about the cool because I'm not.
I think what disturbed me most was that my print/paint table was visually disturbing and disorderly looking. You see, I've come to realize that I am more about orderliness... now... more so than I have ever been in my whole life.
Maybe it my age or my harmones (you know I'm a woman, so I can blame it on the any number of things) but the truth is now at this time in my live I can control my environment whereas in the past when I lived with other people, husband/children, it was easier to go along to get along since ulcer were a no no I refused to let disorder get to me.
Yes moving to the other end of my living space near the laundry room solved the visual disorder. And I worked okay in that space and there was order and I thought I had solved the problem, but no. While it left the living and TV viewing part of my apartment free of disorder I felt like I had outlawed my artmaking self in someway by relegating me to a corner.
So here is how I resolved my issue, an easel, It is easily moved to stand in front of the window without me having to move my little table and chair set away from the window. So I can still sit and eat or journal in front of the window.
This easel breaks down to a little of nothing much more than a pile of sticks that can be stored in an out of the way corner when not in use.

This is the cheapest easel I could find at Michael's $14.00 minus 20%, I brought it just to see if it would work and it does. And hey, it makes me feel like an artist. So now I am back at my light filled window where I can rest my eyes by looking into the garden as I work, I am going to invest in a more substantial easel when I can use my 40% off Michael's coupon on Sunday or Monday. And yes, I think I'll take this one back and apply the cost to the new one, 12 buck is 12 buck.
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There are two more flowers in this composition that need to be painted so I think I will work a little while longer. Will give you an update tomorrow. Really like what I can do with water color pigments and soy milk.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quilting & Quilting & Quilting

Here's the story. The last time I was in Kissimmee teaching I was asked by the manager of the Queen Anne Lace Quilt Shop (they sell Berninas) to enter a quilt for their shop in the Bernina University Show that will be held in Orlando this summer. Of course I said... sure. The catch.... it had to be done completely on a Bernina. Do I sew on a Bernina.... No.... I sew on a Janome.That is what I have been doing for the last three days. It was like going to a JOB. Starting on Monday morning, I got up, got dressed, had breakfast and then drove 40 miles to Kissimmee to sit down and quilt using a new Bernia 730 sewing machine with more bells and whistles than I would every want or dream of using. The stitch regulator was not installed. I controlled the stitch and speed with my own hands and my right foot. It took me a while to get used to the sound of the machine. I determined through trail and error that the machine did not like Robison Anton Rayon thread, (my Janome loves it) that 730 likes Isacord and a #14 embroidery needle. On Tuesday I was feeling disheartened that the back of my quilt was not worthy of being included in a judged competition, which was the purpose of me driving there to quilt.Of course the sky opening up and pouring on me most of the way home didn't help my mood, so it was early to bed for me on Tuesday. But today, I was back up ready to meet the challenge and off I went to Kissimmee again. Today, the stitching and the tension was much, much better. I was more comfortably with adjusting the tension by today, of course I kept hitting the wrong buttons but learned the best way to get out of a program or stitch I engaged in error was to turn the machine off and restart it again. Of course the starting again is like using a dial-up Internet connection instead of high-speed cable. At the end of today I determined that I and the machine work best together if I use only Isacord for the top with Bottom Line in the bobbin. So with that discover I decided to start over from scratch. So for the next four days I will work at home to complete another composition by painting with thicken dyes or with watercolor pigments and soy milk then I will return to Kissimmee on Monday with hopes of finishing the piece by Friday or Saturday.

Yes, before you ask... I do plan to finish the piece pictured. Just not for a judged quilt show.



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Monday, April 19, 2010

Back from Portsmouth, VA

Because I paced myself over the five days I was away, ate light and went to bed at a reasonable hour, I wasn't to wiped when I got home at dinner time on Sunday.
The weather in Portsmouth was just wonderful. I sat for a time on the patio at the hotel and looked at the boats on the river and watched the ferry going back and forth to Norfolk.When I was in Portsmouth last, about four years ago, I did not know about the boat pictured in the center of the collage, but my interest was peaked the first time I saw it. I was happy to learn from my limo driver who was a retired Coast Guardsman that the boat served as a floating lighthouse in the old days. Fully restored it is now a museum with scheduled tours. For one who does not like riding in or on them boats have always held my interest. And of course being were lots of ships come to be repaired, I say many of the private and military variety. A large aircraft carriers was scheduled in for repairs but did not arrive before I left. I would have loved to have seen it up close.
Here are some images of the students in my dye painting class and their in progress projects.
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This last collage includes my appliqued flower class and some candid shots of the Ice Cream Social and Pajama party as it was just beginning. Bad me I didn't read the list of schedule activities planned for the retreat therefore I failed to pack any pajamas I wouldn't get arrested in if caught outside of my hotel room. So I went early in street clothes, grabbed my sundae and made my way back to my room. I HAD A GOOD TIME. Thanks Sandra and Joanne and all the members of the 54-40 Quilt Guild for all of your hard work.
Went to Kissimme today to the quilt store will let you know what else is going on with me tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here are three of the ladies

who were in my class on Saturday in Kissimmee. Kathy bending over tracing her design, Jacquie(sp) contemplating her fabric choices and yes I forgot her name, but I do remember she is from England, a town near Grantham where my youngest daughter went to college. She is a snow bird and is going back home at month's end for the summer.

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I had a good day teaching at the q-shop after I got over calling myself a dunce for locking my keys in the car. Had to be rescued by a profession car unlocker person who had troubles getting in. Point of interest, if you want an auto that is hard to get into, get a KIA Sorento.

I've been dyeing fabric, almost 80 yards worth over the last few day and now I am done for the time being. I am out of my favorite dye colors. Need to order more fabric. Both the fabric and a fresh supply of dyes from Prochem are in works.
I'm off to the airport tomorrow, flying to Norfolk and airport limo-ing to Portsmouth. I always enjoy being with the 54-40 Quilt Guild and the ladies that organize that bi-annual retreat. Will post from Portsmouth, VA during the time I am there. I'm sure the Marriott has in-room Internet connection. Will return home on Sunday.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

I love my red stool

that was purchased on the day I brought the wire baskets at Ikea. My baskets as you can see are empty for now. Fabric should arrive some day this week. Yeah!!
The red stool is the perfect height for me to sit on while painting with the print surface tilted and leaning against the shelves behind it. Since it is 2 inch thick insulation foam it is light weight and easy to move into the laundry room. (the door on the right)
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy painting in the space pictured because I'd gotten so used to looking out at the garden while I worked. Moving away from the view was the down side. The up side is I am in easy reach of all of my mark making tools that are stored on the shelves to the left. This saves me walking back and forth to fetch and replace. Moving location has corralled all of my art making stuff to one area of the apartment. Despite me living here alone, it does please me that there is an area that is for living and orderly and an area that I have designated as messy and who cares. Here is a look see at what I have been working on this week. The petunia's are painted using soy milk as the fixative with watercolor pigments.
The more abstract leaves are done with thickened dye. I do this design a lot, mainly because I am trying to get a handle on different media, like Pan pastels, watercolor pigments, inks, etc. to see which gives me the results I best like.
Hope all had a great Easter and didn't over do the jelly beans.
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