Sunday, May 31, 2009

Catching Up...and Symposium Report #1

It has been a hectic week and weekend. At school we are still giving End-of-Grade tests. Since I do not have my own homeroom classes that have to be "covered," I have been pulled to administer tests, make-up tests, and re-tests for the last two weeks. I would much rather be working with my groups. It continues tomorrow and at least through Wednesday.

Last Tuesday we had a whirlwind visit from my son and two grandchildren. My sons went to see the Carolina Hurricanes in their playoff game in Raleigh, and we babysat. We kept the kids overnight, and then Bryson took them home the next day. Then both kids got sick. Lily had pneumonia, ear infection, and eye infection. Sure am glad that did not happen while she was here. She was just starting to cough a little. Charlie got them light-up sticks that they were wearing in these pictures.

Friday was our 38th anniversary. We had a wonderful celebration at The Melting Pot in Raleigh, a fabulous fondue restaurant. We had a four-course meal of cheese fondue, salad, lobster, shrimp, chicken, pork, and beef fondued in a citrus flavored oil, and finally, white chocolate fondue with Amaretto added. Oh my my! Charlie got us a beautiful bottle of French champagne for a gift, and I got him new wine glasses. We must be made for each other!

This is how Charlie looked in our engagement picture. Lots of glossy dark hair!

Then, on Saturday, I had my first opportunity to attend the North Carolina Quilt Symposium show. Symposium is held once a year and hosted by various guilds in North Carolina. This year, the Capital Quilters Guild were hosts for the conference at Peace College in downtown Raleigh. I spent all day Saturday gazing at the quilts and shopping from the fabulous vendors.

I only entered one quilt in the show, my Carolina Woodland Spring trapunto quilt. I have written about it before, so you could search my blog for it and see how I made it. This won a first place in the North Carolina State Fair last fall.

It did not place in the Small Wall Hanging category at this show, but it did win a wonderful award! Look at the nice big Judge's Choice ribbon! There were three judges in the show, and they each got to award one special ribbon. Mine is courtesy of Cindy Brick.

Today when I was heading to my class, I met the quilt symposium chair in the stairwell. She said to wait a minute, and then she fumbled through her bag and fished out a nice check that was a monetary award for winning the judge's choice! What a great surprise!

Unfortunately, it did not cover the expenses of the fun things that I purchased from the vendors. But every little bit helps! Here are some of my purchases.

A Symposium T-shirt, a new 6" x 24" ruler that was on special sale at a great price, and a straight ruler to use with the longarm. This one has a plexiglass handle to hold on to while using the ruler. Maybe it will help my stitch-in-the-ditch.

Some fun fat quarters of fabric just right for some little girl quilts.Two adorable patterns for little girl's clothes. Maybe if I get busy, Lily will have a new little dress for her birthday in a couple weeks.Some beautiful bead assortments and beading thread.Misty Fuse and printable fabric sheets in lawn and organza.More girly fabrics in softer shades, and a pattern for all kinds of bags for phones, etc.Gorgeous hand-dyed vintage linens and fibers from Artistic Artifacts.Some nice buttons and charms.

Here is the quilt that won three major awards, including the Carolina Longarm Association ribbon. Isn't it a beauty? It was quilted by Linda James with lots of feathers, pebbling, and McTavishing.

It was a wonderful quilt show with fabulous quilts of all descriptions. I will report on the show tomorrow, and eventually on my class with quilter, beader, and author Larkin Van Horn. She is from Whidbey Island near Seattle, a place I visited when we were out there on Camano Island to visit my brother's family. Lots of fun and I learned a lot.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Great Art Quilt

Today I am recommending that you visit a wonderful blog post by art quilter Kathy York in which she describes how she made Little Fish in a Big City. Kathy's very original, 3-D quilt was accepted into Quilt National, the annual art show at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio.

In her May 20 post, Kathy describes the details of how she constructed skyscrapers that actually rise up out of the quilt background. Also, look closely at the fish to see that they are all transporting little people through the city "streets."

What a great quilt that I am sure will be talked about for quite awhile!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Misty Mountains

We had another great mountain trip. The weather held off most of Saturday, and the kids enjoyed fishing in the pond and splashing in the creek. Here are two of my great nieces having fun with nothing more than a plastic grocery bag at the creek. That's Anna on the receiving end of the shower from Hunter.
After all the kids left on Sunday, Charlie finally learned how to operate the backhoe that we own half of. He successfully dug out a stump while my sister's dog, Fred, watched "Uncle Charlie" nervously.
Our "bonus day" was mostly showers and rain. The road down the mountain was shrouded in mist.

This is the lake at a church conference center on Darnell Woody Road. Very mysterious in the mist!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wildflower Walk

I am so lucky to have a nice street with lots of nature to view when I am walking my old doggy. There are fields, woods, ponds, and creeks, affording all kinds of flora and fauna. In the past week I have seen two male redtail hawks performing an airborne battle over a third, presumably female hawk; two little tweety-birds chasing a great blue heron through the sky, and almost stepped on a brown water snake wriggling through the grass near the pond.

The divinely sweet smell of honeysuckle is permeating the air with intoxicating scents.

It tends to be very invasive around here. It winds its way up bushes

, trees, fences
but I don't care since it smells SO GOOD and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

I noticed a field of daisies in the new, still uninhabited neighborhood down the street and hiked through the tall grass to get a nice close-up.

There is also a bluish-purple wildflower growing in one of the empty lots in the new neighborhood. I think it is a type of vetch. Very unusual color!

And it is always fun to see what is going on in the ponds around the neighborhood. This one is where the ducks like to hang out, not to mention turtles and frogs.

We are off to the mountains again as soon as I get off work this afternoon. It will be a three-day weekend since we celebrate Memorial Day on Monday.
Last night at guild, our speaker was the founder of a non-profit organization called Military Missions in Action. You could have heard a pin drop in the room as he spoke of the organization's work to modify homes for wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In my twenty-one years in the guild, I don't ever remember a standing ovation for a speaker until Mike Dorman spoke last night. In honor of Memorial Day, you may want to visit the website, see the great work these volunteers are doing to help our young people suffering from loss of limbs, head injuries, or even post-traumatic stress disorder, and see if there is some way that you or your organization can help out. The guild has chosen MMIA to be the recipient of our Heritage Auction in October. I am going to get busy making items to sell at the auction.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trash Bag Purse finished

My "Trash Bag" purse is finished and ready to turn in tonight at the Capital Quilters Guild Meeting. I am meeting friends for dinner at a Mexican restaurant before the meeting, then turning in my quilt, purse, and donations for Symposium.

I decided not to add a strap, as I think the clutch purse is just right for this fancy fabric. I used three hand-sewn pieces of Velcro the flap to make it stay closed. The inside is a shiny pink moire satin
that I have gobs of for some reason. Maybe it was to line a pair of curtains that never got made.

If you would like to see more of how this purse was made, just search my blog for Creative Challenge or Trash-to-Treasure.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Group Comfort Quilt

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you may know that I have participated in two online classes with quilt artist Pamela Allen. After the first one, Think Like an Artist, many of us in the group begged for another session. Quite a few of us stayed together for the second class, Still Life is Boring- Not! These were very active e-mail groups, posting pics and critiques and continuing to correspond by e-mail and blogs.

During this year's class, one of our members had a tragic death in the family of a beloved baby grandson. Some of us contributed blocks to make a "comfort quilt." Originally, some one suggested nine patch blocks, but Pamela herself suggested that we contribute art quilt blocks instead. The result is quite amazing. Linda Jacks assembled and quilted the blocks and it is ready to mail to Norway. I think it is okay to post the picture, since the recipient has already seen the photograph.

For Synnove, with love

More Mountain Fun

Another great weekend at our mountain place...very much like the previous weekend, except with more rain and with our own grandchildren. When we got there on Friday, we went right to West Jefferson to buy our groceries. The clouds were building
and we got caught in the rain during our errands.
The next day was sunny and beautiful until late in the afternoon. We took the kids fishing at the pond. It was fun because the fish were hungry and the kids were pulling them in quickly. Lightning MacQueen and Dora the Explorer fishing poles were very successful!

Yup, that's my gnarly hand that I tried to draw the other day! Lily caught her first fish.

Of course, all the fish got thrown back in.
After they got tired of fishing, we went to the creek and watched the kids throw rocks and sticks and get progressively more muddy.

Lots of nature lessons at the creek as Bryson found a crawdad, and a huge osprey flew right over our heads. We had never seen one of these sea hawks in the mountains. No picture- he was too fast.

Our baby birds in the nesting box have started looking less like fuzzy thumbs and more like bluebirds.

Hated to come home once again, but we plan to go back again for the Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Needle-Felted WIP's

Here are some new pics of what I have been working on during the few hours of time in the mornings before I report to work.

This is the first project from the Trash to Treasure fabric from the Creative Challenge. I took the largest piece, quilted it to a piece of muslin with dark green and bright pink threads, and folded it to make a clutch-style purse. The flap is kind of funky and wavy. The lining is a fuchsia-colored moire fabric. Right now the flap is just pinned down until I decide what type of closure to use. I also left openings for a strap, but am undecided about whether or not I want one.

Then, I was messing around with my BabyLock Embellisher, and tried to create a fabric with similar colors as the Trash Bag fabric, but not as crunchy in texture! This piece has only a piece of commercial cotton as the base. It is a beautiful painterly-looking fabric with gold metallic dots. I have added silk fibers and some rainbow organza that I stamped with turquoise metallic paint. I also added some Angelina and yarns. I wet-felted the piece, then zapped with a heat gun. I am loving the look of this.

The last piece is needle-punched to a piece of soft cotton batting. I covered it with some orange hand-dyed fabric, and just added some silk, organza, sari ribbon, organza, and other bits of fabric. This may become a postcard background.

Finally, I received the first of the two Collage Mania pieces I purchased in the mail yesterday. Fluttering is even more beautiful in person. Please visit Annette Rogers' website to be blown away by her talent in painting and fiber art. We have had a nice e-mail correspondence, during which I found out she lives in Raleigh and also has a house in the North Carolina mountains not far from our place.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Face and Hand

Yesterday, I mentioned joining a blog group to work through the lessons in Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain. I did the first two Pre-Instruction sketches last night. The first was to be a 30-minute pencil sketch of our face, while looking in the mirror.
I would say that mine looks like a person, but not necessarily myself!

Here is a school picture that was just taken in April, although it features the opposite side of my face.

The second pre-instruction drawing is of my hand. It is a 15-minute pencil drawing.
Pencil sketches do not show up too well on the computer. I guess I need to get Photoshop.
Looks like I should be off to get a manicure! I can remember being a hand model for my dad back in his commercial art days. Yikes, when did my knuckles get so big, my veins so prominent, and what's with all these lines? Remember in Gone With the Wind, when Rhett saw Scarlet's hands without her gloves and realized she had been doing field work?

The next pre-instruction drawing will be a corner of the room.

Thanks for looking and feel free to comment.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Potpourri

Usually Wednesday is my Work-in-Progress blog, but I do not have much new to show you. This morning, I made the dough for some delicious cookies to take to school for our fair on Saturday. Judy Martin's book Cookies and Quilts has the best cookie recipes I have ever made.

Oh,yes, loaded with butter and sugar and double the chips. The fifth grade is sponsoring the Cookie Walk, and I thought I better help out since I won't be here for the fair.

I have also created a few small pieces of background fabric on the embellisher, experimented with various combinations of fabrics and yarns to make tree bark for the Grand Canyon tree WIP I have been dawdling over, and done some more quilting on the Trash-to-Treasure fabric. I need to get at least one purse made in time for the North Carolina Quilt Symposium at the end of May.

I do have a beautiful piece of new fabric. My local bee is celebrating our birthday months with Fat Quarter gifts of fabric. My birthday is not until June, but since Janice will be gone, she bestowed this gorgeous batik lame on me at our last meeting. I don't know if you can tell how the fabric catches the light with shimmers of gold. I had never heard of batik lame, but I can't wait to try it out! Janice, thank you for this wonderful fabric-it is perfect for me!

Also, I have some new books and a new challenge to tell you about. Sarah Ann Smith from the Quilt Art mail list has started a blog for anyone who wants to improve their drawing skills. The blog is called See*Draw*Quilt*Learn. We will use The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I also purchased the workbook that accompanies the book. Those who want to post their drawings can do so, and receive helpful feedback.

I have always been able to draw fairly realistically, but I should have spent more time at my father's knee observing his skills. (Absorbing them by osmosis?) He of course, made his living in commercial and fine art, and made valiant attempts to teach his kids to draw. He even came to my special education classroom every year and taught my LD kids to draw. But I am far from expert. Never even took art in school after eighth grade. I guess the home ec classes helped me become a quilter eventually. One thing about having an artist for a father, I have never feared trying new materials since my dad always encouraged us to use his stuff. Pastels, watercolors, inks, colored pencils, overhead projector, nice brushes and pencils, charcoals were all as familiar to me as the smell of fixative in his studio. Thanks, Dad, for encouraging me to try to make art!

My books just arrived, but it looks like I will be learning a lot. The workbook has forty exercises to develop drawing skills. It says there are five basic skills of drawing. Only five?

  1. The Perception of Edges

  2. The Perception of Spaces

  3. The Perception of Relationships

  4. The Perception of Lights and Shadows

  5. The Perception of the Gestalt

Wish me luck! Better yet, join in!