Monday, October 25, 2010

Present Tense

So I DID get a few things done over the summer . . . now that that's clear, fast forward to this week!

Here’s what I’m working on now:

Dyed fabric. I’m trying to get solids, because I’m reading Jean Wells’ Intuitive Color and Design. She uses a lot of solids in her work, and I love the way they look.

I used the gallon plastic bag method and squished a lot, but I still got some mottling:


I machine-pieced this quilt top a couple of weeks ago. Then I thought I would try some needle-turned appliqué. Why? Well, this is going to sound silly to some people: I love certain TV shows, but I get bored watching them and need something to do with my hands. I really enjoyed the hand-appliqué process and think I’ll do more of it. I’m using the methods from the Becky Goldsmith & Linda Jenkins Teach You to Applique the Piece O' Cake Way DVD, and it’s really not difficult at all:


I think I’ll hand-quilt it, as well.

Finally, I’m taking yet ANOTHER online class—this one with Jane Lafazio on her watercolor sketchbook techniques. Here are my first watercolor sketches:





I love these little sketches because they are quick and there’s no pressure, but I learn a lot about color, highlights and shadows, white space, composition, etc. Look for more of these in the next couple of weeks!

Is everyone excited about the Houston Quilt Show???!!!

One More Catch Up . . .

Other than a couple of quilt tops that I pieced but haven’t quilted yet (I’m SO tired of wresting double- and queen-sized quilts through the tiny throat of my machine), I think this is the final project I worked on over the summer.

As with most of the others, this beaded purse is the product of an online class (I HAVE to get over my obsession with taking every online class that comes along!):

beaded purse enhanced

If we ever get time to go to the Renaissance Festival again, I think this will be a lovely addition to my costume!

Wall Quilt & Pillow Completed? Check!

More projects I finished over the summer:

This is a wall quilt I started almost by accident a very long time ago. I was playing around with piecing scraps—no neatly cut squares, no rulers, just rotary cut and stitch:


Then, I decided it would be fun to add some flower appliqué (fussy-cut from coordinating fabric) and organic (stem) lines to contrast with the geometric patchwork. I decided to hand-quilt the piece, and I was very very happy with it:

finished copy

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the blue chalk lines out that I had used to draw the quilting lines. I ended up washing the piece, and, of course, it lost its crispness.

I also finished the crazy quilt squares I started a while back in an online class, and I decided to stitch them together to make a pillow top:


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paper Art

One of the advantages to posting on my blog is that I have a record of what I’ve accomplished. It turns out, after looking back through photos I’ve taken over the past few months, that I did get a few things accomplished during the long summer of sloth. Remember the tags and ATCs I was making in Melanie Testa’s Joggles class? Here are the tags in progress:


And completed tags; these were (variously) stamped, stenciled, painted, and markered:






Tomorrow, more summer projects.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Slacker Blogger, and What to do with Fall Apples

Summer has not been a good season for blogging. In fact, I'm not really sure what summer WAS a good season for. I've had a serious case of the blahs for months now. I haven't really worked on much; I've pieced a couple of simple quilt tops, and recently I've been doing some needle-turned applique, just to have something to do in front of the TV. But I'm not really inspired, if you know what I mean.

I can only chalk it up to working too many hours at a soul-draining (but good-paying) job (and yes, I AM grateful to have it in this economy, even more so since my company continues to send more and more of my profession's jobs to India every day).

At any rate, now that my favorite season is here (beautiful Fall after the Texas heat of summer!) I hope to find some kind of rhythm in my life again, not to mention some good old-fashioned drive to create. In the meantime, since I don't have any good work to share with you, I'll give you my recipe for applesauce. Actually, it didn't start out as my recipe; I got it from and made a few modifications.

I made this for the first time last week after buying about 20 lbs. of apple "seconds" at the Farmers Market, and it was the best applesauce I've ever eaten! I'm headed back to the market this morning to get more apples and make enough applesauce to can for the winter. Enjoy!

Applesauce Recipe

Preparation time: 45 minutes. The sugar amounts are just guidelines, depending your taste, and on the sweetness of your apples, use less or more. If you use less sugar, you'll likely want to use less lemon juice. The lemon juice brightens the flavor of the apples and balances the sweetness (don't skip the lemon juice--it really does add something to the flavor!).

  • 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples. (Make sure you use a good cooking apple like Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Gravenstein.) (Note: I used whatever was in the "seconds" bag; a mix of sweet & tart, I think).
  • 4 strips of lemon peel - use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
  • Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
  • 3 inches of cinnamon stick (Note: I also added about 2 t. ground cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar (I ended up using more--about 1/2 c)
  • up to 1/4 cup of white sugar (I substituted Splenda for the white sugar, and used a little more because my apples weren't that sweet)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Taste and add more brown/white sugar or Splenda and cinnamon, if desired.
2 Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher.
Ready to serve, either hot or refrigerated. Delicious with vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt (I added some to oatmeal for breakfast--yum!).
Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in a cold freezer.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Paper Play

Yes, I’ve been neglecting my blog. Where does the time go? The days have been whizzing by faster than I can catch them.

So here’s a little review of some of the things I’ve been working on; no fabric, but a lot of paper and paint, some stencils and stamps, pens & markers.

First, from the online Mary Ann Moss class, “Stencilry”:







Can you imagine these stenciled images on fabric? Yum!

Next, backgrounds created in Melanie Testa’s Joggle’s class, “Let’s Exchange Some Art”. Can you believe these are made from old newspaper??? They are made using handmade and commercial stamps, stencils, pens, and markers, and they’ll be turned into ATCs and tags:








Time for work. Not the fun kind (sigh); the kind that generates the paychecks. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Journal Quilt

Ok, I’m finally ready to post a pic of my year-long journal quilt project. For this quilt, I made one 6x6” journal quilt every week from my 48th birthday until my 49th (Feb. 2009 to Feb. 2010).
The quilt actually has 56 squares—52 weeks, plus 4 embroidered corner squares that read “Journal Quilt,” “Feb. 2009,” “Feb 2010,” and “My 48th Year.”

As it turns out, creating all the squares was probably the easy part. Once I had completed them, I couldn’t decide on the best way to assemble them.

I considered stitching them to a solid background in a grid. I didn’t want to do that, however, because each square has a hand-written label on the back describing the inspiration for that week’s square.
I thought about adding sashing between the rows and the columns, but I was afraid that would make the piece unbearably wonky.

Finally, I decided just to stitch them all together. Here’s what it looks like at this point:

I’m not terribly happy with it yet. I think the problem is that there is nothing to unify the squares, so it seems a little disjointed/chaotic. I’m considering adding borders to it, but I just can’t decide.

Another thought . . . I could disassemble the squares, stitch them to a background (black, maybe?), then cut away the extra background fabric so that the labels are still visible.

Ideas? Suggestions? I would like to finish this quilt before ANOTHER year has passed!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lucky Me!

I just found out I won Melanie Testa’s drawing for a spot in her Joggles class: Let's Exchange some Art: Stencils, Stamps and Grounds with Melanie Testa

Yippee! Thanks, Melanie!

I may end up with a bunch of art to share with blog readers as well, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 18, 2010

So Long, Arkansas!

Our vacation is almost over, and we’re driving home tomorrow. I’m already thinking about “home” things and making mental to-do lists and losing the peaceful feeling that has settled over me. So before that feeling is gone completely, I’ll share some of our vacation memories from the past week.
The little cabin that we stayed at in Eureka Springs was charming and cozy:
cabin bedroom
We had a lovely view of the lake, both from the cabin and during our walks:
view from cabin
We met a sweet cat named Luke who walked with us, and posed for pictures:
We grilled steaks and fresh vegetables we bought at the farmer’s market; our little dog Maxine was particularly thrilled about the leftovers:
max and bone
I was surprised by the number of interesting wildflowers we encountered; in Texas, our wildflowers are mostly weeds. I have no idea what these are, except for the coneflower, which I only know because I’ve seen one in a quilt:
I may be over the limit in pictures for one post, so I’ll continue them in the next post.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Not mine, but here:

Mummysam is giving away an adorable book called Little Birds: 26 Handmade Projects to Sew, Stitch, Quilt, and Love.


Pop on over and leave a comment for your chance to win!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Child at Play

Sometimes the best way for me to pull out of a creative free-fall is just to get out the art supplies I don’t play with often enough—paper, paints, markers, scissors, glue—and revert to that time in childhood when play was serious business (and vice-versa). No pressure, no thoughts of “what will I do with this?” or “how does this move me toward my goals?”

So, here are some collage/mixed media/visual journal pages that I’ve been working on playing with, complete with advice to myself:






Fun, fun, FUN!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Catching Up

As usual, I did manage to overcome my creative drought. Even in the midst of it, I took advantage of the extra time to get some projects out of the way: a quilt I had promised to Quilts for Kids,



and a quilt top for my sweetie that needed to be quilted. My intention was to hand-quilt this one, but after hand-quilting a few of the blocks I threw in the towel and finished it off with machine FMQ:



And, a journal for my sister, who just retired from teaching drama to middle-schoolers; now that she’s a lady of leisure, she’ll have plenty of time for fun things like journaling:






Tomorrow, I’ll post pics of what I’ve been doing with paper, paints, markers, and my renewed creative spirit.