Monday, March 31, 2008

WIP-Better Deer

I worked on the deer for this scene yesterday. Hopefully, they now look more like deer and less like collies or French Poodles. It was an ugly scene on the cutting table: carnage everywhere as I amputated legs, snouts, and ears. I decided not to make antlers for a buck, because this looks like a spring or summer scene to me. Deer antlers are not completely grown until the end of summer. Anyway, the ones we see standing around grazing are always does.

Must take a break from art quilting to get back to the Gammill for awhile and do a bed quilt for my friend, Jean. It will be a "Delectable Mountains" with leafy motifs.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me with kind remarks about these experimental art projects!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

WIP- Personal Symbol

We are on the last week of the online class, Think Like an Artist. We are busily churning out projects to be finished later. A few of the members have gone ahead and quilted/embellished their pieces, but I am struggling to keep up with the homework! This is for Part 2 of Lesson 3, a personal symbol. Mine of course includes the mountains and creek that I love in western North Carolina. Those deer need a little surgery to make them anatomically correct! Guess I will go fine-tune the deer and the bird on my self-portrait. (See previous post) I am thinking of making a wild turkey (one of the birds we see all the time in the mountains) landing on her head, and calling it Too Much Wild Turkey! Ha, still having fun with this class!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Ha-ha! I am having way too much fun doing this project for my online class, Think Like an Artist with Pamela Allen. This one is not even "glue-stick" basted down yet. I keep changing my mind about it! Someone in the group asked if the bird was a sea gull...yup, it looks like one, but that does not make sense in the context of the rolling hills/woods. Maybe that is why there is such a surprised look? I am thinking of changing the bird to an owl, wild turkey, grouse, or something that might be in the North Carolina mountains. Actually, I started with a bluebird, but Pamela suggested that a bluebird on the shoulder might be a bit "twee." She cracks me up.

In this workshop, all the quilt elements are cut freehand with scissors. No drawing, no patterns. Then you embroider all the elements to the batting/backing. After that, you machine quilt and embellish. No borders! While intimidating at first, this technique is really freeing, because you do not have to be realistic. I like the element of humor that can be injected into the quilt!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cherry Blossom Pink

Look what happened in time for Easter! When we moved in fourteen years ago, I planted Yoshino Cherry trees along our driveway instead of the ubiquitous Bradford pears. Only two survived, but they have become lovely mature trees which add fragrance and beauty to our yard. They do not have edible fruit, but the blossoms are worth growing these trees. In fact, this is the same variety that graces the National Mall in Washington, D.C.While I was photographing the cherry trees, I kept noticing bluebirds flying from tree to tree in the front yard. It is time for the annual battle for the birdhouses between the bluebirds and the house sparrows. If you look carefully, you can see both in this pecan tree.
One more day of school until spring break! Last night I worked for about an hour on the next lesson in my Think Like an Artist quilt workshop. Nope, not going to show you yet! This one is supposed to be a self-portrait. Well, a self-portrait along the lines of Domestic Goddess in yesterday's post. Suffice it to say, this does not look much like me! I am not happy with it yet and make totally scrap that one and start over. Our teacher spent the day traveling to Florida and has not made any more comments today. I can tell you that this class is stretching my comfort level!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Check out A Roof Over our Heads

I just got my new copy of American Quilter (May, 2008) and was delighted to find a photo of a quilt by my workshop teacher, Pamela Allen. There was a quilt auction to raise money for The Alliance for the American Quilt in Asheville, NC. There are some wonderful pieces in the Put a Roof Over Our Heads gallery. The quilts are house-shaped, and are just delightful eye candy. The one by Pamela features a portrait called Icon: Domestic Goddess. It is embellished with thimbles, bobbins, clothespins, scissors, spools, and lots of other great doo-dads. I had to e-mail her to find out what she used for the "halo" embellishments. She replied that they are old-fashioned hair curlers!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter weekend in the mountains

We had a very busy and fun weekend at our little mountain home last weekend. The weather was beautiful and warm Friday and Saturday. I even got a little sunburn as I sat outside stitching the Green Man!

Friday we had lunch in Boone with my father, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, niece, her hubby, and two kids! for my family that was just a mini-reunion, but it was fun to get together

My father and my husband

My brother John and me

Sister-in-law Debbie and brother Chris

It was a beautiful day to ride across the mountains from Boone to Laurel Springs, NC.

Charlie's big project for the weekend was mounting this giant antenna on the cabin to get a few network TV channels. That's why I was outside stitching- handing him things and hoping he did not fall off that big ladder!

We also planted fifty more Fraser fir Christmas trees and watered them. My daffodil bulbs have come up, and one was in bloom by Easter Sunday!

The beaver dam in the creek has broken up. Now the creek is diverted and there is a new
"deep end."

Here is a towering hemlock along our driveway, next to the pond.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

WIP Continued: The Green Man

Here is my "paste-up" of my Green Man art quilt project. Now he is peering out from a tree or forest. He will be going to the mountains of North Carolina tonight! Excellent inspiration!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Green Man Tweaked

My Glue-Sticked Original Green Man
Pamela Allen's Tweaked Version (PhotoShopped)
Not only is Pamela Allen a fabulous artist, she is a very generous one to allow me to share her vision for my Green Man art quilt. Yes, he needs to be put in context of leafy surroundings instead of floating in space on a brown rectangle! Thanks, Pamela!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WIP: Green Man

I quickly put together this little composition for Lesson 2 of Think Like an Artist, my online workshop with Pamela Allen. I am learning so much from this class, just by looking at the work of the other students and reading the comments with suggestions.

For Lesson 2, we were to choose two colors, and use light, medium, and dark values of both. We were to avoid "pure" hues except for details. I finally decided on green and brown, so I could make something woodsy. You know me, I love the outdoors, woods, mountains... so after I put down my three background pieces, it occurred to me to try The Green Man. I have always admired the sculptures and images of him. This is a pretty far cry from the still life I started in Lesson 1! I can see him getting lots more layers of leaves, dimensional quilting, some bits of sticks, maybe a bird's nest!

I posted my Green Man to the Think Like an Artist class, and almost immediately got a response from Pamela that knocked my socks off! I am not sure if I have permission to post her Photo-Shopped version of my piece, so will have to wait. But now I am totally excited by this creation and its potential! Suffice it to say, I was following the instruction to lay down three shapes for the background. Now I am going to make it all leafy and botanical and wild! Stay tuned!

Tomorrow is DH's birthday, and we are going out with Dave and Emily (son and DIL in Raleigh) to the Outback Steakhouse for supper. I have wrapped his presents and have a cake in the oven. We are taking tons of stuff to the mountains on Thursday, including a new lawn mower, the awesome bird feeder and pole I got for Christmas, DH's new television antenna, and a nightstand that I am borrowing from our guest room for my side of the bed up there. We are taking a trailer to haul behind the truck. Big gas expense, but that's the only way it will all get there. It will be lovely to be in the mountains for Easter. If I don't get a chance to blog again until then, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend. We are off from school Friday for my first vacation day since going back to work in February.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's in Bloom? Mid-March 2008

One of the best times to be in the South is in early spring, when much of the country is still socked in with snow. I love it when it is warm enough to be outside all day!

A beautiful afternoon to prune summer-flowering shrubs like buddleigh and crepe myrtle, remove the brown stems and dried flowers from last year's mums, lemon balm, and autumn joy sedum, and glory in the new spring flowers! I also made a new spring mailbox flag to go with the pansies.



First Spring violet

Purple crocusFlowering Shrubs

Grape Hyacinth
Red MaplePansy (slightly dirty from heavy rains)

Thanks for visiting with me!

An Artsy Retort

When I posted my final pictures of the stitched-down Cut Flowers piece, I received this reply from the workshop instructor (artist Pamela Allen):

Hasn't the stitching enhanced the leaves especially! You tell your turning applique friend that your stems and the stitching is an element that makes the viewer take pleasure in the NEGATIVE space between the stems. This had a good start and now a great finish!

Wow, I could never have phrased that so well. I did not know the viewer was taking pleasure in my negative space!

Yesterday, I was outside weeding the mini-garden surrounding my mailbox when it started to rain. A soft, gentle rain. Just what my flowers needed! Later in the day, the bottom fell out of the clouds and we got at least an inch of rain. Charlie and I had a rare opportunity to sit on the front porch rockers and watch the lightning while we sipped our wine. (Our area has had very little rain for the past year.) Some time during the night, our power went off. I was awakened by a blinding flash of lightning, followed by eerie darkness and silence. We normally have two fans on in our bedroom, a ceiling fan and a box fan, to muffle sounds of barking dogs and provide a nice "white noise." It was strange to try to sleep in total silence. The power was restored before morning.

Yesterday, I went upstairs to begin my Lesson 2 for the workshop I am taking. I had to decide on the two hues I will use. I got all my hand-dyed fabrics out and sorted them by color from light to dark. I did not know I had so much! I collected hand-dyes for several years from a New Zealand fabric dyer who sold on e-Bay. Sometimes I was able to get a meter of gorgeous hand-dye for as a little as $3.00. She does not seem to be e-Baying as frequently any more, but her selling name is 2dye4-fabrics. Anyway, I never did decide on my two hues. I did get a lot of my fabric sorted, including several drawers in my dresser full of fat-quarter size commercial fabrics. And I started going through my two plastic file cabinets of "scraps." Most of these I can get rid of, since the pieces are too small to deal with.

Then, I started cutting some of the scraps into various-sized squares for scrappy quilt projects.

All this did not get my new sewing room put together, or my Lesson 2 completed, but it was satisfying to make some order out of the chaos in the old sewing room.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Enter a Quilt Give-Away!

Or perhaps a gift certificate for some of her soap products! This is a very nice opportunity. Some pretty nice background music on her blog, too.

A beautiful day here in the heart of Carolina! Too nice to stay in and watch ACC basketball on the tube. Well, my team, (NC State) bowed out in the opening round on Thursday, so I will not have to miss a chance to enjoy the balmy weather.

My friend Jean brought me a gorgeous Delectable Mountains in all blues to quilt for her. I am going to do the Forest Floor Meander just like I did on my recent quilt Hunting Season II. Not sure when!
I showed Jean my "Cut Flowers" black and white study, which is now completely stitched down. She really liked it, but thought it looked like I had chewed up and spit out a section of one of the stems. Yup, the fabric frays when not turned under. I am awaiting another lesson from Pamela Allen on how to finish this little art project. Meanwhile, I might get started on Lesson 2, when we do a similar project but with two colors plus black and white.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

WIP- Still Stitching

Here is my workshop project again, mostly embroidered. I still have to stitch down two flowers and a little of the background. Pamela is right that the embroidery floss adds additional line and dimension to the quilt. On my piece, that is most noticeable on the white area of the leaves, and around the flowers. The centers of my flowers just have a long running stitch. I am thinking there will be some beads or buttons or both when this thing is done. And knowing me, it will still have a go on Grendel the Gammill to add some fun machine quilting!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cut Flowers Continuing

Despite my trepidation about the online Think Like an Artist online workshop with Pamela Allen, apparently I passed Lesson One! Pamela says she PhotoShopped my piece and couldn't recommend any changes. Now I am stitching down the raw edges with three strands of embroidery floss. It looked like she used a blanket stitch in the photos. I did some of that, then actually scrolled farther down the page and saw that it was a ladder stitch. Much easier and quicker. I would say that I am about halfway finished or more.

I spent some time perusing Pamela Allen's work yesterday. I love her sense of humor and the whimsical folkiness of her quilts.

Long school day today: faculty meeting before school and a training meeting in another town after school until 6:00 PM. Oh, for my lolly-gagging days! I really wasted a lot of time before I went back to work. (And thoroughly enjoyed not even wearing a watch!)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

WIP-Think Like an Artist, Lesson 1

Finally, a new project to blog about! Between returning to full-time teaching and having my sewing room in a remodeling wreck, I have not done any quilting for a couple of weeks. But, I had signed up for the online class through Quilters' Threads. It is Think Like an Artist with Pamela Allen. The first lesson is about shape, placement, space, and contrasts. I have a lot to learn about these concepts and am looking forward to the experience. It is a little intimidating to put yourself out there to be criticized on the Internet by the instructor and classmates. I just uploaded my photo, so I am eagerly awaiting the feedback. We could only use black and white fabrics, with freehand cutting with scissors. No drawing, no patterns, no rotary cutting. Those scissors are a little funky-looking! All the fabric pieces are just glue-sticked down to a batting. Once we get the OK on the placement of objects, we are to do a blanket-stitch around the edges with three strands of embroidery floss.

In non-quilting news, we had a blessing of heavy rain this week. About two inches or three inches total. When I came home Friday afternoon, my neighbor up the street was out by his pond in rubber boots watching his dam get breached by the water. This is unreal- that pond has been a scummy icky stagnant puddle with no water for about the last year. With all the heavy rain, his pond washed over his earthen dam, across the neighbor's driveway and into their pond, which also overflowed. The creek behind my house is usually about a foot across, but it also flooded and created some new creekbeds and standing water. Well, it hasn't hurt anything in my yard, and we are grateful for the rain. Just when everything has started blooming, it turned very cold and windy today. I hope all the blossoms don't blow off the trees just when they are getting pretty.

My neighbor's driveway that was flooded by breach of dam. Their lower pond is on the right.

Another neighbor's house with forsythia and Bradford pears in bloom.

And this is the new development at the end of my street. Anyone want to buy Lot 4? Looks like it might be a little soggy! Actually, the developer made a series of sediment ponds to protect the creek from mud being washed in. Good thing, huh? They filled up for the first time this week.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Featherweight and I

I bought a Singer Featherweight sewing machine on e-Bay a few years ago, got it out and played with it, and then have never used it. It stitched just fine, but the case and the machine itself smelled a little musty. Then I kind of forgot about it until I went to a recent Cyberbee Sew-in, and noticed several quilters stitching away on their Featherweights. I got mine out, and took it to Archie Johnson's Sewing Machine Repair in Cary one day when I had to go there for my teaching application. Then, I decided to replace the case with a non-stinky, modern soft luggage version. While I was looking for that, I found this neat book about Featherweights and purchased it and some bobbins.

Here is the red case, with room for foot pedal, cord, and extra stuff.

The book has a spiral binding so it can lay flat, and only has text on one side of the page to allow for note-taking. It is written in very non-technical terms, often quite amusing. Now when is the last time you read an amusing technical manual? He describes how to maintain, repair, and restore the Featherweight, including the stinky case. So maybe I will keep mine and try to deodorize it. It seems I must apply 150 degree heat for 12 hours to knock out the mold that is probably from the horsehair glue used to glue the lining to the box! Now that's old mold.

It also describes how to reburish the exterior of the machine to make it gleam and shine like new. Mine needs some of that TLC. It is quite amazing the amount of detail and metalwork used purely for ornamentation on these machines. One reason I selected mine was for the fancy metal faceplate. Looks like Art Deco to me!

I purchased all my new Featherweight stuff from an Internet vendor, in Florida. The service was very quick. Maybe I will be toting it proudly in its soft-sided case to my next quilting workshop!