Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some New Artsy/Quilty Things

Here are a few more things that might interest you from my lovely Christmas gifts.  (Amazon Wish List is a wonderful thing!  You can add things from any website as you are browsing the web.)

First is the little piece of artwork that Tom Jones enclosed in the package with his book on Watercolor Landscapes.  Pretty!

In case I run out of watercolor projects, here is a DVD by Frank Francese that looks like a great way to learn more about the subject.  I saw his name listed as an instructor for the summer workshops at Cheap Joe's in Boone.

And another DVD by local quilt artist Lyric Kinard.  This one is called Bead It Like You Mean It.  It looks really interesting.

We are having extremely mild weather this weekend to celebrate the end of the year.  It is sixty and sunny today.  Yesterday I took the dog for a walk on a new section of the greenway that begins at the Smith Creek Soccer Center on Heritage Lake Road.  Previously this trail followed the creek left to Rogers Road.  Now it continues to roughly parallel the creek to the right, all the way to the Highway 98 Bypass.  It is not quite finished yet.  We saw them installing this metal bridge at the beginning of the new section quite a while ago.

It is somewhat muddy on the unpaved section behind these houses in Heritage.

Then it becomes partly paved, partly boardwalk, as it continues along more woodsy areas.  In fact, there are two or three more of these bridges to cross the creek as it meanders along.

It ends at a concrete tunnel that goes under Hwy 98, and is supposed to eventually connect to a trail around the Wake Forest Reservoir on 98.

Kasey was all for exploring the tunnel, but it looked really muddy and dark.  No thank you!

It is nice to have a new trail to explore.  Kasey is mostly a small golden retriever, but she does not retrieve at all.  She loves to stick her nose in grass and dirt and make snorting sounds like a pig.  Can she be part terrier?

There are some pretty views of the creek, some nice natural areas,

and a pine woods so thick that it reminds me of the mountains.

I took down all our Christmas decorations today, and spent a long time sealing up the boxes.  We are probably going to put our Wake Forest house on the market some time in 2012, and so I packed like we were moving.  The prospect is rather daunting because we have been in this house for seventeen years and have accumulated tons of stuff.  I am sure you will hear more about this effort next year.

Happy New Year, and I hope it is a good one for you and yours.

Friday, December 30, 2011

One More Hand-Made Gift

Here is the last of the projects that you glimpsed in my "teaser" post about what I was making.  It's the one I started in October 2010 and misplaced until I was making Christmas bookmarks with my embellishing machine this year.

Peak Creek in Autumn, 2011

This piece began with a piece of batting, over which I arranged fabric, fibers, silk and wool roving until I built up the colors and depth and luminosity that I wanted.  Then I added additional batting and backing and quilted it on my longarm.  That may have been overkill, since this piece is only about 10" x 11".    But I find I can "draw" much better with the hand-guided machine.

 Of course, this piece was inspired by our favorite place, our mountain retreat.  It represents the view from our bridge over Peak Creek, looking downstream.  Each afternoon, the sun quickly disappears over the mountain, but the last rays will light up the water and one side of the creek bank.  The next photo is the view upstream from the bridge, looking toward the dam.

For that reason, I chose this piece as my study for Chiaroscuro, or Dark and Light, for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge 49.  One of the group members issues a challenge each month, and you are supposed to create a piece in one week or less.  I guess fourteen months to completion is not fast, but I really spent less than a week on it!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mountain Barn Watercolor Painting

For another Christmas gift to my husband, I matted and framed one of the new watercolors that I painted last fall.  I began the painting in a workshop with Tom Jones during Art of the Carolinas.

Mountain Barn, 2011

For those of you who live in the area, I have been having my artwork framed at Michaels on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh.  I have been happy with their assistance, materials, and service.

I very much admired Tom Jones as a teacher and artist.  Charlie bought me his book,  Simplified Watercolor Landscapes, for Christmas.

It is in a wonderful format which provides a working sketch, step-by-step instructions with photos, and a photo of the finished painting.  Mountains are the subject of several of the lessons, so I know I will be trying them out.

We got a good chuckle when I opened the book and read the personal inscription by the author:  "To my new friend and fellow artist Charles:  Have fun painting and remember you are better than you think you are." Charlie is many wonderful things, but have never known him to be an artist!  I take that back, he was a true artist on the trombone for many years.

There is also a nice little value sketch drawn on the inside cover under the inscription.

He also included a small colored painting on watercolor paper.  Tom is a generous artist, as I found out during his class, when he provided all paints and paper for our class, and also gave away the demo painting.

I have been procrastinating all day because I have to take the ornaments down off the Christmas tree.  We usually wait until New Year's Day, but we had a leak right before we left for our trip.  Either Charlie over-watered, or the water container has a leak.  Thankfully we mopped it up before we left, but I expect it is still damp under there, and we need to take it down before our wood floor starts to buckle.

It was a beautiful, cold morning, though, and I took Kasey to the greenway for a walk. 

She was on high alert for awhile, stopping and perking up her ears.  I thought we might see some deer moving around, but we did not.  She gets equally excited over squirrels.  I am glad to have a dog to give me a good excuse to walk on pretty mornings like this.


Love having my doggy back home!  So does her daddy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's Been Very Merry

Just back today from visits with family in South Carolina and then western North Carolina.  We had a blast, but it is good to be home.  We got Kasey out of the kennel today, and she is a fluffy golden ball of energy after her grooming.

The visit with the grands was so much fun.  Loved spending some time with them. 

We had great weather on all the days we traveled, but it rained a little on Christmas afternoon.  Lily borrowed Melissa's new umbrella to get in a little bike riding.

When we went to visit the McBrayers in Rutherfordton, NC,  we got to see lots of little great-nieces and nephews.  I was finally able to meet Lindsay's new baby, Kaylee (and that's little Jada looking on).

Kaylee seemed to like her new quilt!

Charlie got a new quilt, too, but it is an art quilt.  Here is Sunday Drive.

I began this quilt back in May in a Faces and Figures workshop with Pamela Allen.  It took me forever to ladder- stitch with embroidery floss around all the raw-edge applique. 

Some of the tiniest bits are fused, and the figures are zigzagged with invisible thread.

The deer and turkey were cut from commercial novelty prints, but everything else was just cut with scissors freehand.  That way it is personal, and reflects "the hand of the artist."

I used dupioni silk for a few of the Christmas trees and also for the Gator. 

I quilted it on my Gammill.

On the back label, I did a photo transfer of us on the Gator in the same location, but in the photo we are driving away.

It feels so good to get a project done- especially one that has such personal meaning for us.  And in time for Christmas, too!  I have two other-hand-made gifts that I will share next time.

Wishing everyone the peace and joy of the season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not What I Should Have Been Doing Today

My little granddaughter, Lily, is learning to write, and loves to draw.  I always take a little notebook when we go out to eat for the kids to draw in.  I got each of them their own little spiral notebook, but wanted to make a journal for Lily.  Then I remembered the Doodlicious Daybook that she helped me make last year.  I decided to revise it to make it Five-Year-Old Friendly.

First I swapped out the chrome-colored metal binder rings for pretty colored ones, and added some fiber and ribbon wraps.  The front cover is a transparency printed on the computer with my doodles.

The whole journal was inspired by the online 21 Secrets journaling class with Tracie Hanson.  We created the painted pages by taking big sheets of brown craft paper and white drawing paper and painting with acrylic paints.  Then we cut those up into journal-size pages, often sewing them back to back with other papers.  In the photo below, the left side page is one of the painted brown papers outlined with marker.  The other side is cardstock painted and stamped.  I started a few doodled faces.

Here is a pocket page containing some raw materials to cut up and glue.

I like pocket pages and included several.

I made the pocket from a page with Zentangle doodles.

This page has a mini-book attached, as well as a quilted fabric bookmark.  The bird is a glitter transfer.  I have given her a few journal start ideas.

On the right is another painted paper from last fall.  On the left is a calendar page decorated with a duct tape flower.  Don't you love those printed duct tapes?

I never throw anything out, it seems.  When I have extra paint left on my palette, I often just spread it around on card stock.  I made a tag out of the blue painted flower.  There is a message on the back.

Here's another glitter bird transfer perched on the L from Lily's name.

The back cover is watercolor paper with a design stencilled on.

I hope Lily will have fun making art in this journal...and I hope she invites Gigi to do some pages along with her!

Warm Wishes Baby Quilt

I have decided to go ahead and reveal the baby quilt I just finished last night.  It is from the Warm Wishes pattern.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am over a year behind in making quilts for the new babies of family and friends.  I decided this one would be for the newest baby, since we are going to visit them over Christmas.    I don't think they read this blog, so I won't be spoiling any surprise.

Since it is for a little girl, I made lots of swirly flower designs as I quilted.  Several of the fabrics have flowers, so that tied in the motif.

This pattern is very easy to put together.  You do need yardage rather than fat quarters if you are going to use the strip piecing method.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quilt Whisperer Give-away

Today I will pass along a chance to win a great prize from The Quilt Whisperer, Carla Barrett.  She is a fantastic longarm quilter, does freeform crochet, peyote stitch beading, and creates original cartoons featuring a rather sarcastic chicken.

Carla is having a free blog giveaway and is holding another Quilt Whisperer Class on January 9, 2012, a creative class on quilting design for all levels of quilters.

You can read about both the giveaway of one of her creations and the class on her blog, Feathered Fibers.

If I win, I will ask for one of her freeform beaded necklaces.  Here is an example of one.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Framed Sunflowers

I can now reveal one of our gifts to Dave and Emily:  one of my watercolor paintings that I had matted and framed.

I chose the same green velvet mat as my Hollyhocks picture, but the frame has a golden gleam.  There is a bit of reflection showing in the glass in the photo.  They seemed to like the picture, which is actually a mixed media piece.  I added painted tissue paper to the watercolor painting to add more depth of color and some texture.  There is also some texture added by sanding watercolor pencils over a piece of lace on the blue background areas.  You can see that better in this picture of the unframed painting.

I received a copy of a book I have been craving:  Masters Art Quilts, Vol. 2, curated by Martha Sielman.

This is a fascinating collection of art quilts by men and women from around the globe.  Only a few of the names were familiar to me, such as Paula Nadelstern, Laura Wasilowski, and Jane Dunnewold.  How wonderful to be introduced to so many new works of arts made with diverse techniques.

We also got a fabulous gift of an Apple TV device.  We can now view our computer or phone images, videos, music or other media on the television wirelessly.  How cool is that!

We had a great dinner at Bocci's Trattoria and Pizzeria in Cary.  None of us had been there before, so we each ordered a different entree and shared them family style.  Now it is one of my favorite local restaurants!  Great food and service.  The meatballs were the size of baseballs.  There was snow crab ravioli- yum! 

To really get into the Christmas spirit, we went to see the Christmas lights at one house near Dave and Emily's.  They have a phenomenal light show which is synchronized to music they broadcast on an FM station. 

They were rocking the Trans-Siberian Railroad music

and then went into The Star-Spangled Banner.  It was awesome!

A relaxing soak in the hot tub while it poured down rain outside was the perfect ending to a great evening. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Elves Have Been Busy

Yesterday my Gammill was purring all day.  I finished the quilting on two projects, and got about halfway through another.  Can't really reveal them yet, but here are some teasers.

This is a detail of a needle-felted wall quilt that I started for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge 49, use of chiaroscuro, or light and  dark. 

I obviously was not very fast, since this challenge was from around September 2010, and it is supposed to be done in one week!  I guess all together I have spent less than a week on it, but this little piece got lost in my sewing room.  Go figure!  I found it when I was working on the bookmarks for my art quilt group a couple weeks ago.

This one is a small detail of a Pamela Allen class workshop quilt that I started last May.  I am so happy with this one.

Here is a detail from a baby quilt that is still on the machine.  I actually went to a fabric store and chose coordinating fabrics for this project from a Moda line.  Usually I use stash fabrics and make scrappy quilts.  The bright yellow is the only one that I had on hand.  I used the Warm Wishes pattern.

I am about a year-and-a-half behind on making baby quilts.   In fact, I quit piecing almost entirely.  I guess it was because I was doing long-arm quilting for customers, and making small art quilts. 

You know, even when you've acquired a skill set, such as quiltmaking, you do have to use it or lose it.  First, I forgot that I had changed the tension settings on my Janome when I was using metallic threads for the bookmarks.  I made about five long strip sets for this quilt before discovering that my tension was set on "0."  The bobbin thread was one long straight line.  Then, I thought I was using my quarter-inch foot.  I was not.  My seams were about 3/8 inch.  After a bit of frogging, I started to make some progress.

All week I have been discovering what I fondly call "Lily Tracks" around my house and yard.  Lily Tracks used to be crayon, marker, chalk, and paint marks with which she decorated the walls.  Fortunately, she quit doing that.  Now she likes to rearrange things.

I noticed the deer on the roof of this house right away, because it is in our downstairs powder room.

I did not notice the continuing theme of deer on the roof until this morning.

No one has asked me why there was an empty hummingbird feeder decorating one of my garden flagpoles.

Lily had some help from Caden on this one.  They built a "Wal-Mark" by putting gravel from our driveway into the back yard.  And were supposed to get it all out of the grass before they left.  Whoops!

Tonight we are going to Cary to celebrate Christmas with son Dave and DIL Emily.  Poor things, they are going to Florida and Key West for Christmas this year with Emily's family.  We will be going out to dinner, exchanging gifts, and hopefully spending time in their hot tub.  I have been looking forward to that all week!

Speaking of Dave, he asked to borrow some of my "tacky Christmas sweaters"  for a party about three years ago.  You can see them all in this post.  Any way, I never got them back- they were destined to be Tacky Party sweaters forever.  But this year, Dave's office had an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest at their holiday party.  My beautiful Snowy Christmas Chapel sweater with beads and glitter won him $75.00 for first prize!

Okay, maybe on a guy who is six and a half feet tall, it might  does look a little tacky.  But the second place prize went to one of his co-workers, who was wearing another of my sweaters...the The Saggy Stained Sweater with Christmas Tree. I inherited that one from my mother-in-law who also worked in an elementary school.  Teachers really rock the holiday themes from head to toe.

Dave is promising to take me out to lunch some day with some of his prize money.