Monday, April 28, 2008

Family Wedding in the Mountains

We dodged showers all afternoon and evening...but the weather held long enough for my nephew, Jason, to marry his lovely bride Robin next to the dam on the family property on Big Peak Creek Road last Saturday. The wedding was not fancy, but could there have been a prettier setting... or a happier couple?
The wedding party walked down the hill from my sister's place, crossed the bridge, and walked along the creek toward the dam. Robin was "given away" by her father and son.Robin's daughter Anna and Jason's nephew Briar were attendants.

It was a wonderful day filled with fun, family, and love. Congratulations, Jason and Robin!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Baby Went on an Outing

One of my longarm friends from Raleigh, Cathy Kirk, was kind enough to photograph my quilt named Something Girly when it was at Machine Quilters Expo last week. It sure looks like it was hanging in good company, with all the ribbon-winners surrounding it! Hmmm, there is a little something hanging from mine. Maybe a participant ribbon like they give the kids at swim meets? LOL! I had another quilt accepted, too, a little green one called Carolina Woodland Spring. I'm glad my quilts got to go to New Hampshire this year.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

You may have seen a picture of my art quilt Work-In-Progress, The Green Man. (Who is almost finished!)

In honor of Earth Day, here is The Green Boy

and The Green Girl.

I think they both look very good in green!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wonderful Carolina Spring Weekend

We almost did not get to go to South Carolina to see the grandchildren this weekend. DH busted my bubble before I left school with a Voicemail message that everyone might have strep throat. We decided not to go, and puttered around sadly Friday afternoon. Then DS called back and said Avery was crying because we were not coming. That's all it took for this grandma to pack up the car and head for Hartsville. So much fun packed into one weekend!

We decorated the driveway with sidewalk chalk.

Avery was excited about his birthday presents.

Avery got a little better at steering his Gator after running into a few trees.

The children were getting along better this time.

Lily was a daredevil, riding "no hands" and snapping her fingers Fred Flintstone style.

Avery worked hard "cutting the grass."

Lily did a little plowing.

I had the kids for about an hour by myself, and Avery asked angelically to brush his teeth. What he really wanted was to smear blue toothpaste all over his face...

Aside from that little incident, he demonstrated his engineering skills by putting together his new 48-piece puzzle by himself!

It was a beautiful, cool Spring weekend. Thanks for having the old folks down for the weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Heading South

After school today, we are making the three-hour trip to South Carolina to visit my son's family. It is a between birthday weekend- son Bryson's was April 14, and grandson Avery will be four next week. It should be a gorgeous weekend- and Hartsville, SC, is a lovely small Southern town with gorgeous Victorian homes along tree-lined streets. I am hoping we might take the kids to Kalmia Gardens, where Bryson and Miranda got married. It has a beautiful woodsy nature trail that seems like it belongs in the mountains, rather than on the coastal plain.

Will post pics when we get back!

Happy weekend and happy quilting to you all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


What a beautiful day! After a cold start to the week, it warmed up nicely this afternoon. The third graders went on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art, so I only had one class today. It was a good feeling to get lesson plans done and student folders reviewed.

After taking a photo of this lovely pot of French lavender in bloom, I noticed a bird flying off the floral arrangement hanging above it in one of those iron scroll work pots. I got out the stepladder and took a peek. Yes- seven little blue speckled eggs in a hidden nest! That's a whole mess of eggs for one little bird!

So far, no picture of Mama Bird. I checked my bird book and decided she was a house wren. I don't remember ever seeing one before. She is too nervous to stay on the nest when I open the back porch door. But we have had a Carolina wren nest on top of our vertical propane tank for the last couple of years.

And here is another new nest that I removed from one of the bluebird boxes long enough to take a picture. I'm not sure what kind of bird made this nest, but I've never known the bluebirds to add moss to line the nest. Looks a little like a mini Green Man to me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sewing Machine Cabinet

Look at the lovely gift I have "inherited" from my daughter-in-law's mom! She recently downsized to a townhome, and I was gifted this terrific old treadle machine cabinet. I love the patina of the wood and the elaborate scrollwork of the iron. I am thinking of putting my regular sewing machine in there, but I would probably be hitting my foot on the treadle all the time. It might just have to be a nice, well-loved side table. Thank you, Mama Watkins! I love this table!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Slice Quilts and Mountain Trip

Thursday night, a group I belong to called the Cyberbee had its quarterly meeting. We formed back in the nineties when there were not that many people who were using the Internet. We ended up with fifty members. Not that many attend any meeting, but the quarterly meetings have fabulous show-and-tell. Of course, the show-and-tell at Guild is fabulous, too, but you don't get the up-close view and chance to ask questions of the maker.

Five members of Cyberbee are participating in a "Slice Quilt" project. They each selected a picture they would like made into a quilt, and at each quarterly meeting, one of the members gets the slices of their quilt. Here are the ones from Thursday's meeting:

Here are four of the five slices of Cathie's Van Gogh quilt next to the original poster. Aren't they spectacular? Combinations of applique, thread painting, and fabric painting.

Joann received her slices at the last meeting, and has sewn them together.

Dorothy has also sewn her slices together.

After I got home on Friday afternoon, DH and I took off for our little place in the North Carolina mountains. We were thinking it would probably rain all weekend. Happily, it only rained during the night Friday night. We had lovely weather to be outdoors and visit with my sister and brother-in-law and the various nieces and nephews and friends that were there this weekend. I was afraid I might have missed my mountain daffodils since we have not been there in several weeks. However, they were bobbing their lovely golden heads along the driveway and in the little garden I planted by the back door.

Here is a neighbor's horse in a pasture below our property, enjoying the fresh green grass after the night's rain.

Of course, Maggy and I went for a walk looking for photo ops. Here is the pond as seen through a bough of a huge hemlock tree beside our driveway.

And another photo of the pond from the dam, with reflections of the trees starting to bud out.

Here is the creek upstream from our place.

And here is the new bend in the creek, created when the beaver dam broke up during the winter. Maggy is checking out the current before plunking herself in the deeper area.

And finally, here is the new wooden floor that our friends Ricky and Mary installed in the new mountain home they are building. Didn't they do a beautiful job?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Artful Blogging

Monday was my last day off from school, and of course it was cold and rainy and gray. In fact, it was cold and rainy almost every single day. Good news is, the Falls Lake reservoir is now full once again. Yesterday after school, the sun peeped out again, and it will start to warm up today. Anyway, I was at the mall shopping for birthday gifts, and decided to peruse the magazine section at Barnes and Noble, the big chain bookstore. I was looking for a copy of the Quilting Arts book about Studios, since I am still working on my workspace make-over. They did not have a copy, but look what I found!

What a feast for the eyes and soul. They have published excerpts and photographs from art blogs on the Internet. All I can say is, "Wow!" I love looking at blogs, but there is nothing like curling up with your quilt and a cup of tea on the couch. Well, I can also say this: "I want to learn how to Photoshop!" The photographs are artfully staged, the banners are gorgeous, quotations abound. This magazine cost fifteen dollars, and will eventually cost me the price of Photoshop software! This is the second issue. I will be actively seeking a copy of the first. Don't we deserve beautiful eye candy?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Green Man is coming to life

It is the last day of my spring break- actually a Teacher Workday which I have opted to use as another (unpaid) day off. Yesterday I worked hard in my sewing room remodel, which I started in February. I cleaned out my son's stuff and painted. Now I have put together some storage cubes, and am close to moving in my fabric and sewing machine and cutting table.
But at night, I happily stitched away on the Green Man- are you tired of him yet? I wanted him to look organic, and just could not bear to enclose him in a traditional binding. I concocted this binding made from fibers I got in a $3.00 card of "Adornaments" at Michael's. First I zigzagged the edge of the quilt several times, then zigzagged the fiber to the front and back. Now I am going around and hand-stitching the fiber to cover the zigzags. I think it looks sort of like moss! I also left some raw strips hanging off the edge.

I also got out my Fabrico markers and Tsukineko inks and worked on some areas where I wanted to enhance the quilted motifs, such as the frog, the flower, and the text.

My favorite embellishment is on the eyebrows. I wanted prominent, projecting eyebrows, but they were looking very flat after quilting. Again, I used the "Adornaments fun fibers and some shaggy yarn I already had. I twisted and crunched them together and added in a few beads. The little white flower and green leaves are from an arrangement of my grandmother's. She had given me a little Victorian lady's shoe figurine with these little artificial flowers.
Can you see the hidden lizard now? He still needs a little paint to bring him out some more. I gave him a yellow glass bead for an eye.

I can't decide on the nose. I have added some fibers and have tried using a big wooden bead with a small wooden bead to make his nose stick out. It is not looking quite right. Maybe I can find something else.

To finish him, I am thinking of adding some botanicals, like dried sticks or moss. And I am thinking of adding tabs at the top and hanging him from a tree branch. I went looking in the yard for a likely stick that would enjoy becoming a quilt hanger. Could not find what I wanted, but am considering a crepe myrtle because of their reddish wood and the shaggy bark.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

WIP- The Green Man is Quilted!

Well, it is not like me to stick to a project until it is finished, LOL! But I have been excited by the online workshop with Pamela Allen, and am really enjoying the pieces I have created in this class. So, here is the latest progress on The Green Man. I used black, dark green, sage green, shiny emerald green, and even Glow-in-the-Dark thread to define some woodsy motifs in this piece. Can you see the rather primitive frog on his forehead? There is also a lizard hidden in the foliage on the side.
But the unexpected surprise I think will be thought-provoking is the subtle text in the lower part of the quilt. After I do some shading with my inks, it will show up a little easier. Explanation:

The Green Man is such an interesting subject. I have been researching him on the Internet since choosing him as my subject for the two-color composition. There are many Websites devoted not only to Green Man as an architectural element, but also to his legend and lore. I have now requested one book from the library, and purchased another online. I was looking for some appropriate text to perhaps quilt into the piece, or use on the back or label. Choices abound, including works by Shelley and Shakespeare (whose Puck, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, is his incarnation of Green Man.) Some people think Robin Hood is also Green Man. But I was most taken with this quotation from William Anderson's book:

Our remote ancestors said to their mother earth: "We are yours."

Modern humanity has said to Nature: "You are mine."

The Green Man has returned as the living face of the whole earth so that through his mouth we may say to the universe: "We are one."

I have quilted the three phrases into the lower part of the quilt, almost as if they were carved into the trunk of a tree. I hope to finish this piece this weekend. I would like for him to be of an organic shape, perhaps with leaves extending over the edge. I have some fibers and other embellishments to play with, so we will see how he looks when he is finished.

And, notice, no pics showing off the back of this piece! I should have used a busy leafy print for the backing. Grendel the Gammill does not approve of using lots of different thread types, and there is an assortment of knots, "eyelashes", and other quilting judge "No-No's" on the back. I used a khaki colored hand-dye, which is the perfect shade to blend with all the greens and browns. Actually, it looks interesting, and I may end up painting the back to get another reversible quilt. Those thread glubs and pokies would make good tree bark!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Flowers in Color and in Black and White

When I created the black and white still life for Lesson One of Think Like an Artist Workshop, I was thinking to myself, do I really want to create black flowers? Normally when they turn black, it is not a good sign, LOL. Then, in the mail the other day, there was a flyer for this quilting book:

Maybe I was on to something! While on the subject of flowers, here are some more spring pictures for those of you longing for the snow to melt and temperatures to thaw.

This handsome fellow (a mockingbird) was perched atop the loropetalum bush in full bloom in my front yard. Thanks to my friend, Jean, for identifying this shrub for me when she visited on Wednesday. It is in full bloom now, and has really brightened up the gray days of this rainy week.And here is a last shot of the cherry blossoms before they all drift to the ground, with the loropetalum in the distance.

My earliest daffodils have faded now, but with many varieties, they continue to provide sunny spots of color throughout the yard. These are below one of my garden feeders- OOPS, it looks empty. A chore for this morning!

I like this double flowering variety next to my front steps.

These are candytuft (Iberis) and grape hyacinth against a backdrop of dwarf crimson barberry.

On our morning walk yesterday, I noticed that the Carolina Jessamine is blooming wildly in a vacant wooded lot. And the first of the dogwoods is now blooming. My favorite time of year here in the South is when the dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom.

Unfortunately, as soon as the dogwood trees blossom, so do the pine trees. The dreaded yellow dust of pine pollen is already starting to cover automobiles, lawn furniture, sidewalks and streets. My formerly slate blue porch chairs turn a sickly chartreuse, and so does the seat of your pants when you sit in one. With the current ban on washing cars and hosing off landscaping due to the drought, I guess we will all be seeing sickly green for awhile. At least the rain will help not only the drought, but also the pollen removal. Here are the beginnings of pine pollen forming a sickening scum on the surface of our little garden pond.

Well, after all this nature talk, I am inspired to get back to quilting The Green Man, which I started yesterday. Hope to finish the quilting today and start the embellishing!