Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dancing Umbrellas

Happiness is having my daughter living within an hour of my home. This is quite a change from driving two entire days to visit when she lived in Chicago. Double happiness is having a daughter who loves to sew as much as I do (and is just as addicted to fabric as I am)! She and I frequently meet at our favorite fabric store, Painted Pony and Quilts (http://ppnq.com) in League City, Texas. A few weeks ago, we found this adorable quilt pattern at Painted Pony.
It's called "Dancing Umbrellas" from www.laundrybasketquilts.com. Shopping with my daughter makes me want to do a happy dance, just like these umbrellas -- and she loves "Singing in the Rain" so I just could not pass this one up!

Usually, my quilts are much brighter than the suggested fabric for this pattern so I hit my stash as soon as I got home. I decided on black and white background squares with one unexpected square:
Umbrellas in bright primary colors brighten any rainy day. I usually piece my quilts but this one is appliqu├ęd, so I had to refresh my skills in that department. For that I found an excellent tutorial online at sewlikemymom.com/applique-tutorial-curves/. I've just about completed all the applique work, and I'm ready to sew the blocks together. So that I won't get the blocks out of order when I take them down from the design wall, and so that I can keep the umbrellas correctly oriented and "dancing" in the right direction, I basted a label to the bottom left of each block. Here's my progress so far:
Now, the big question is how to quilt it? I know I will echo quilt around each umbrella shape, but I think I want raindrops around the umbrellas. I'll be quilting on my longarm machine, so does anyone have suggestions for quilting raindrops without a millions stops and starts? Maybe diagonal lines accented with raindrop shapes?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Autumn poem

This is my favorite time of year, peaceful and pensive.
I love the colors, and the smells, and the sound of wind shushing the pines and helping other trees shed their leaves.
And always, I love the sight of deer visiting the woods here at Slipper Moon, though they always seem to know when I don't have my camera. I hold my breath when I see them, a moment Mary Oliver describes as swimming inward and flowing outward in this poem:

"Five A.M. In the Pinewoods"

I'd see their hoof prints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night

under the pines, walking
like two mute
and beautiful women toward
the deeper woods, so I

got up in the dark and
went there. They came
slowly down the hill
and looked at me sitting under

the blue trees, shyly
they stepped
closer and stared
from under their thick lashes and even

nibbled some damp
tassels of weeds. This
is not a poem about a dream,
though it could be.

This is a poem about the world
that is ours, or could be.
one of them -- I swear it! --

would have come to my arms.
But the other
stamped sharp hoof in the
pine needles like

the tap of sanity,
and they went off together through
the trees. When I woke
I was alone.

I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.

(Mary Oliver, House of Light)
Excuse me for a while, friends. I'm going for a walk in the woods.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Easy Breezy Art Display

I wanted an inexpensive and interchangeable way to display some art prints that I bought recently -- interchangeable because I like to change art with the seasons. Dick Blick online had a magnetic display, but you have to affix the magnet to the wall. Not an option for me because people complained that the removable adhesive damaged their walls when they removed the magnet. Uh-uh, sorry Dick Blick -- I just had my walls repainted. So here's another way. Get a blank artist's canvas to fit your print, with room for a border all around. I cheated here and recycled an "ambitiously bad" painting (as Tim Gunn would say) that I did at Painting with a Twist when my friends and I had a little too much "twist." Decorate the canvas as the creative muse moves you. I just painted over said embarrassment with leftover latex house paint.
Go to your nearest craft store and buy some super-powerful magnets, the little button kind that wreck your fingernails when you try to pry them apart. While you're there, buy something cute to glue to the magnets, unless you're a minimalist and like the sleek, utilitarian look. If you don't have any good adhesive, buy some glue also (Minimalists, forego the glue.). Advance to the home improvement store and buy some metal pieces that magnets will stick to. Here's what I bought at Home Depot for a little over $3:
Go home and glue your "something cute" (old shell buttons for me) to your magnets, and leave them face down on your work surface until the glue sets.
Now comes the fun part: Turn the canvas to the back side and decide where the pieces of metal should be placed. You don't have to glue them -- just hold one in place while you position the art print to the front and attach the magnet.
Et voila! Art you can change at the speed of light!
This beautiful print is by the wonderful Terri Windling: www.terriwindling.com I have big plans for this idea, and a veritable wealth of embarrassing canvases painted by moi. I ordered a Charles Wysocki Halloween print, so one canvas must be black and spattered with orange paint. Those who are more talented than I am could decorate the canvas with mixed media art, or paint it and stamp evocative images all around the border, or wrap the whole thing in some fabric to match your decor. For kids' art, you could paint the canvas with blackboard paint and write something clever in the border each time you change the art. Just one word of CAUTION: Keep those magnets away from children and pets. If swallowed, they can cause serious or even fatal injury. Have fun with this idea, and share your results with me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall is nipping the air!

"Sometimes it is the smallest thing that saves us: the weather growing cold, a child's smile, and a cup of excellent coffee." Jonathan Carroll

Sunday, August 26, 2012

thoughts for a Sunday morning

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.” Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crusader's Cross quilt in progress

During this incredibly hot summer, I've been escaping into two favorite movies: Robin Hood (Russell Crowe, of course!)
and Kingdom of Heaven (Orlando Bloom)
so my brain is saturated with images of the crusades (oh, okay! with Russell and Orlando, too!).

ANYWAY, this quilt block bounced around in my imagination until I had to sit down and draft it.
The blocks are rotary-cut and quick-pieced, though the math was a bit tricky. I've set them on point to look like crosses instead of X's. Bright jewel-toned batiks are the crosses. I'm trying to include at least five colors in each block so that the crosses appear to radiate with faceted jewels. My design wall has been handy for working out the color scheme of each block. Deep midnight blue is the unifying background for each block. Each cross is further unified with the same blue and gold crown, and the crowns are creating an interesting secondary design. Here is the quilt so far.
The blocks are 10" square so the quilt is working up quickly. More to come later, and maybe even a tutorial for this block, if anyone is interested.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Test post with ipad

Hubby gave me an ipad for my birthday. Our computer crashed and I lost all of my photos which is why I've been so absent (and silent) on this blog. Hope I can learn to use this new toy and post much more frequently! So here goes with my test post, and a picture of The Man himself -- sweet thing that he is!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Comin' Around Again

Playing around on YouTube tonight, I found this video: I love Carly Simon's music, and I remember seeing this performance on TV many moons ago. Years later I read that she was almost paralyzed by stage fright during this performance and most others. I'm glad she overcame her fear. The world is a better place for her music.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury

How sad that within a month of my last post, the world has lost another great writer. Rest in peace, Ray Bradbury. Your beautiful prose transported me to other worlds at times when I did not like this one much. "Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before Death is what counts." from Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Featherstone, and Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak's passing yesterday robbed the world of a little wonder. I love his writing; it still takes me a place of imagination and fantasy. This video reminds me of his "Wild Things." Goodbye, Mr. Sendak. From wherever you are, send magic to us on earth.