Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend in the Mountains

We had four wonderful days in the mountains of North Carolina over the Memorial Day weekend.  Both the mountain laurel (kalmia) and wild roses were in bloom on the mountain.  The laurel were all in shades of white and pink.

The roses were all white.  It smelled wonderful as we came down the mountain after riding up to the tree farms on the top.

My hanging basket of pansies was starting to look a little ragged, since they do not last long once the days get hot.  I purchased this basket of red verbena and petunias to hang by the hummingbird feeder.

Our son Bryson and the two grandchildren stayed Friday through Sunday.  It was so much fun to have them there.  Lily was so happy that the daisies and buttercups are blooming again around the Christmas tree fields.

It got warm enough for the kids to swim in the afternoon.  Or wallow in mud, perhaps?  We had to hose our two off before they came in the cabin.

There were pretty babies a-plenty to play with and pass around.

These are our friend's daughter, Shelby, and my great-niece Lacy.  Good little mountain girls!  And Ragen can walk now, and did pretty well on her chubby little legs on the mountain.  With someone close by to grab her if needed.

The only bad part of the weekend was that my father had a car accident when driving over on Saturday afternoon.  Fortunately, he did not get a scratch or bruise, or even get sore the next day.  But his pretty little Toyota is pretty torn up.  We are so thankful that he was not injured.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Childhood Memories" Collage

Not long ago I received some TAP artist transfer paper from C&T Publishing Company, along with some flowered tissue paper.  I made them a sample product that I have not shown yet on my blog.  In addition, I began several other projects using the TAP.  On this one, I transferred the image of my great-niece, Hunter, directly to a canvas artist's board.  This was the only transfer that did not come out perfect- there were some areas that looked a little scratchy.  Perhaps if I had continued to iron....

Anyway, with the image of the little girl in the center, I added tissue paper, napkins, and magazine cutouts to surround her.  I added some text and drawing with a black Sharpie, and some 3-D flowers with rhinestones that I cut out of a birthday card.  There are various symbols such as the clock to denote the passage of time, the tree with the words  "Home is where your story begins,"  and a little Bible reference, "For with God, nothing shall be impossible,"  Luke 1:37.  This was a fun project and will be a birthday gift.

Purple Lucky Stars

I finished another customer quilt yesterday. 

 This one was made from the Lucky Stars pattern by Atkinson.  This is a fat quarter pattern that is very forgiving to make, since the star points do not end at the quarter-inch seam allowance. 

 My friend Mary Nennstiel from the Whacky Ladies made this one for her seven-year old granddaughter who loves purple.

I couldn't decide what overall design to use, so I decided to treat this as a magical star garden.  I stitched star bursts...

starry flowers...

 flowers, hearts, and swirls...

more swirls...

No tension problems or knots on the back this time after my machine tweaking the other day.  How fun to do a quilt and not have to do any "reverse sewing!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bluebird Journal Page

After committing myself to The Sketchbook Project yesterday, I decided that I should probably do some more entries in the journals I already have.  There is one lesson to go in my Artistic Journaling workshop.  I have made some backgrounds, but need to work on painting a face. 

Meantime, I ate lunch on the front porch today to enjoy the sunny, mild weather after several days of rain.  Our box of baby bluebirds had emptied out recently, so I just dumped out the old nest yesterday.  Along came Mama and Papa Bluebird, and promptly began Nest #2 of the season.  (At least, I am guessing it is the same pair...who knows?)  So, I got out my watercolor pencils and Moleskine and did a quick drawing.  I later blended the colors with a wet brush and added details and text with colored pencils and markers.

Usually one bird stands guard on top of the box or on a nearby branch while the other works on the nest.  Bluebirds use pine needles almost exclusively, at least here at Chez McBrayer.  If my five children had just left home, I don't know if I would have the heart to start another brood so soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

I signed up today for a project that I hope will be a spark for my creativity for the rest of the year. 

"It's like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks."

The Sketchbook Project is sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library.  Participants will each receive a Moleskine sketchbook to fill with any kind of art they desire.  Choose a theme and a color for your book cover, fill it up, and send it back by January 2011.  The sketchbooks will then go on tour, can be checked out, even offered for sale if desired.  Each book will have a bar code so you can track it online, tell when it is checked out, receive comments.  Pretty cool!

I chose the theme "In Flight."  Birds, butterflies, clouds, angels, ideas...  want to come fly with me?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fun with Family at the Wedding

When we were heading west to our niece Lindsay's wedding on Friday, the skies turned dark and the rain poured down.  We were afraid it might be a rainy wedding day, but it turned out to be very nice on Saturday.

We had lots of fun at the rehearsal on Friday night.  Richard, The Father of the Bride has been playing drums and singing in bands professionally for decades.  He had a great sound set-up, and the vocalists did an awesome job with the contemporary Christian music at the wedding. 

Lindsay looked lovely and happy at the rehearsal

and even more so at the wedding.  A truly beautiful bride!

The McBrayer men are a handsome lot, although I may be a bit biased there...

including Lindsay's brother Chris, from whom I got a rare smile

Richard also moonlights as Elvis from time to time, so The King made an appearance at the reception.

On the way home, the sun was out and the mountain roads were beautiful...

until we were closer to home, and there was a severe thunderstorm.  But how blessed were they to have a rain-free wedding in the midst of the passing storms.   

Friday, May 21, 2010

Guild Eye Candy

Last night was a wonderful night at the Capital Quilters Guild of Raleigh.  It was the first time I had attended guild since we moved to our new location at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh.  We have tripled our space, and the room was much more light and airy.  Two raffle quilts were on display. 

The first is the Carolina Longarm Association raffle quilt, which will be raffled at our show in September.  The amazing machine quilting was done by Rosemary Cushman.  It features gorgeous feathers, duplication of the applique motifs, pebbling, McTavishing, piano keys...just amazing. 

Our guild's Heritage Day raffle quilt was also shown.  It is a vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden top that has an applique border added on and is in the process of being hand-quilted.  This one will be raffled off in October.

There were many beautiful quilts to be ogled at Show-and-Tell.  I am so sorry that I could not keep up with all the names of the quilters.  We have a huge guild, and I do not know all the members, and Show-and-Tell goes very fast. 

There were two similar quilts made from a mystery quilt retreat.  The first was made and quilted by my friend Ann Hull in glorious reds.  The second one is done in browns.

One member visited a quilt shop in Tennessee, and convinced the owner to sell her all the components of a block-of-the-month quilt at one time since she was from out of town.  She made this amazing quilt.

We have several quilt book authors and pattern designers among our members.  One of them, Sandy Fitzpatrick, designed both of the patterns for these baby quilts made by another guild member.

But the highlight of the evening was the presentation by Katie Pasquini-Masopust of New Mexico.

There are many people who call themselves art quilters, but Katie is an artist first and quiltmaker second.  She presented a slide show with a retrospective of her jaw-dropping quilts and paintings.  Now she is combining her paintings and quilts with breath-taking results.  What I did not know is how amusing and down-to-earth she is.  My friend Carolyn is taking both of her workshops this weekend and was scrambling to find all the materials needed.  I would love to spend the weekend soaking up some of Katie's expertise.  Perhaps another time.

Our plans for the weekend are to celebrate the wedding of our beautiful niece, Lindsay McBrayer, to Matt Cooper.  Lindsay has been a dancer all her life.  Whenever we would go out to eat at a restaurant with background music, little Lindsay would get up on the floor and dance right in front of everyone.  She grew up collecting trophies with her dance teams, and even got her father, Richard, to participate with her in Daddy-Daughter dance team events.  Here she is in pajamas, wrapping herself in garlands that her mom was taking off the Christmas tree and performing a number for us.

She has grown into a beautiful young woman, and we wish her every happiness.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Couple of "Quilts for Kids"

After completing a big quilting project, it is kind of fun to work on something fast and fun.  My guild meets tonight, so I got out a couple of charity baby quilts to whip up real fast.  These were made by Sharon from donated fabric at our last charity quilt sew-in back in January.  She actually made a pieced top and back using panel fabric, but thought the backing was cute enough to make another quilt.  These will be donated by the guild to the local neo-natal intensive care nurseries.
I had been having trouble tweaking my tension and was getting some unwanted knots on the back.  I spent a couple hours doing some machine maintenance.  I think the main culprit was the tension check-spring.  With manual in hand, I took it out and put it back in three times until I got it right.  Yippee!
So, I zoomed quickly on the baby quilts doing some flowers, swirls, hearts, and loops.

The other quilt has the same little bunnies in lines across the quilt.  I added a few feathers and fun flowers.

Our guild speaker tonight is Katie Pasquini Masopust, an artist and quilter that I greatly admire.  I would have enjoyed her workshops this weekend, except that we have a family wedding to attend.

Pretty in Pink

Here is Martha's quilt that I have been working on off and on for several weeks.  It is a large pieced quilt that Martha finally finished for her daughter after many years.  The quilt has intricate piecing of tiny squares and stripes in what I would call Seminole piecing.  The picture shows it on my machine, but Blogger is insisting on rotating the photo for some reason.

In the large center striped area of each block, I used Pam Clarke's Designs With Lines circle stencil to freehand a rose wreath.  Inside the wreath I added additional leaves and a swirl.

In the pieced square area around each block, I quilted what I call "Swirly-cues", or reversing C-curves.  You can see the quilting better from the back.

The pink sashing strips got a curvy leaf vine, using Pam Clarke's Leaf Border stencil.  Martha added some glue-basted butterfly shapes, most likely die-cut from her Big Shot machine, since she used this method on her flower quilts.  I just followed the shape of the butterfly wings inside the edge to fasten these down.  The will have the "shabby chic" look of a frayed edge.

I combined the last pink outer sashing with the floral outer border to stitch a rose and leaf design.  I used another Pam Clarke stencil called Rose Vine, but added some designs to make it work around the butterflies. I could not really see the chalked stencil on the floral fabric anyway, so the flowers are mostly freehand.

You can see it better from the back.

This was a big project that I will be happy to hand back!

In other news, I finally got my car back yesterday!  Sweet Sue looks good as new and runs nice and smooth after getting a whole new back end.  It took over a month, mainly because when the car was disassembled, they kept finding more parts that had either been destroyed in the accident or had to be cut away to access the repairs.  I got calls at least once a week from the company giving updates, and had the rental car, so it was not too bad. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Little Nostalgia

Last week before we left on our trip to St. Louis, I spent a day or two playing with TAP artist transfer paper.  This product is similar to other iron-on transfers in that you can print your digital images on it.  However, this one can be ironed on to other materials than fabric.  It claims you can transfer to wood, metal, and glass.  I produced several transfers of my photographs on to white cotton, white silk, gessoed canvas, and untreated canvas board.  All were very successful and printed perfectly with no change in hand.  The only exception was the canvas board.  Perhaps if I had continued to iron a little more.  The image was just a little scratchy on the board, but I am using it to make a collage.

The collage above features a photo of my grandmother Polly and her sister back in the days of horse and buggy.  I used coffee-stained laces and a pin-tucked shirt with lace and bows that was also coffee-stained.  This little piece smells good!  Cafe au lait!

I used a glue-stick to mount the photo onto a piece of canvas, and then just started adding lace and trim until I liked the look.  I used some of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine, and also added a few touches of hand embroidery, silk flower petals, and buttons.  The word Joy is made by painting with acrylic paint over adhesive scrapbook letters that I stuck on black fabric.  I'm not sure the text exactly matches the nostalgic look, but I wanted a little contrast to all the beige and natural tones.

After fraying the edges of the canvas by picking out threads, I made a backing by fusing fabric to a piece of Timtex, turning under the edges, and stitching to the front.  I would advise being sure that you do not want to embellish further before attaching the backing.  It is not easy to stitch through the stiff layers of interfacing and fabric, especially by hand!

This little piece is 7.5 inches square.

I am on the last border of a custom quilt I have been working on a long time, so will try to have pics of it soon.  Another little accident slowed me down a bit.  I was weeding the garden on Sunday afternoon when I tripped over a shovel and fell face down in the yard.  After that I spent the afternoon applying ice packs to my black eye and wondering if I should go to the ER.  I decided I did not have a concussion, but I do have quite a shiner!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Last Day in St. Louis

Friday was our last day in St. Louis, Missouri.  My husband and the others all had meetings, so I set off alone once again to see what I could see.  This time it was raining lightly as I set out.  No problem, I put on my waterproof rain suit and started walking.  Our hotel was only about four blocks away from Citygarden, a really wonderful sculpture garden.  There is a good mix of the whimsical, like this bird with human legs and shoes, and the abstract, like this:

There are herb and perennial gardens throughout, lots of benches and fountains.  The plants are labeled clearly.  I loved the heads of the giant allium poking above the greenery.

There was some fauna amidst the flora:

and this fallen head that reminded me of the old movie Clash of the Titans

And even a nekkid lady right in front of the restaurant.

After wandering around in the Citygarden, I ate a lovely breakfast at a restaurant, and wandered through a plaza toward the  old City Courthouse. To my surprise, I came upon an amphitheater.

In the back there are steps with water cascading down.  Very impressive, framed with the backdrop of the arch.

If you walk past the amphitheater, you arrive at the old city courthouse, whose dome is visible below the arch.  There was some event there for which the fountain had been colored green.  Someone from FOX news was taking photos at the same time I was.

After that I visited Macy's and a boutique store I could see from our hotel room window, CeCi.  That shop had everything from souvenirs to art and blown glass to prom dresses and fancy hats. Although really craving a hand-painted silk jacket,  I purchased a cool patchwork hoodie.  Then Charlie called and told me to get a cab and bring our luggage to the meeting site.  We would eat lunch, and the company would shuttle us to the airport.   When I got there, we walked a few blocks to an Irish pub right next to the castle-like Union Station.  That had been one of my desired locations to visit, but I did not know it was just a few blocks from the company's headquarters.

The rainy day with severe thunderstorms caused many airport delays.  We did not get home until about 11:30 PM Eastern.  As we approached our layover city of Nashville, Tennessee, the remnants of the thunderheads produced a gorgeous sunset.

That's it for my report on St. Louis!  A great city that I hope to visit again some day.