Thursday, January 31, 2008

An unexpected hiatus

The landscapers inadvertanly cut the cable 2 places :( So for the past 2 days we have been without TV and internet. The cable was temporarily fixed this afternoon. Next week they have to come out and run a whole new line. But we're back in business now. In the picture below you can see the 'fixed' cable...they are normally underground. The bulk of the yard is done. The Landscapres are finished. There are still some butterfly flowering plants to put in, but I haven't yet decided what I want, so we'll put those in when I do. We are very pleased with how it turned out. And lucky that the only screw ups, where the cable line and a couple of our irrigations pipes. All back in operation now. WHEW!

And if you look closely in the picture below (click to enlarge it first) you can see Harry inside the screened courtyard meowing away at me! He is a Mama's boy, and doesn't like to be very far from me....this was to far in his opinion!

This is the new flagstone path in the back yard that connects the screened lanai and the 2 boat docks. Turned out nicely. And it'll looked even better when the moss fills in between the stones.
All the open area you see, will have flowering plants.

A view from the other side of the back yard. You can see the jasmine ground cover along the sea wall. That will fill in completely in just a few months. The other side of the back has my fruit trees. There will be no other plantings amonst them as they need room.

Definite progress, in fact near the end. Soon all I'll have to do is watch it grow, and enjoy all the birds and butterflies it brings!

Email me!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mary's Gone

We had a great time! We talked, ate, shopped, went to a quilt show, and experimented with new things. We caught up. I wish we lived closer together. But such is life. Instead we enjoy our visits when we can.

For those of you who haven't yet figured out.. Mary is a night owl. I am not. So I am catching up on my sleep!

But today, I went back to work. Finished up the final details of my MQR triptychs, and got them in the mail.

This first one is Suzanne's. She sent us all the same pattern with instructions that the ribbon had to 'read' black and then assigned a background color. My assigned color was yellow. Below is my piece. I used hand dyed silk dupioni for the background..yellow of course. I fused the ribbon and then stitched it down. I cross-hatched the background with gold rayon thread. Then attached the embellishments...a yellow rhinestone heart, a word plaque (create) and topaz hot fix crystals. My original plan called for beading the ribbon...Mary talked me out of it. I think that was a good thing. It finishes as a rich, elegant piece...sometimes less is more. The batting is Quilters Dream wool.

My other triptych piece for Gayle, was based on a photo she sent me of pictures she had taken in Monument Park. Below is my rendition. I used soft structure tyvek for the rock....painted with Jacquard Lumiere...3 colors layered with a dry brush to get the base color. I then heated the tyvek between 2 Teflon sheets to melt and shrink it to get the dimpling effect you see. Then I stitched the rock definition and painted in the extra shadows. Then I needle felted the greenery and then stitched the brush wood structure. The batting is also wool.

I really enjoyed participating in this challenge. It's a good thing to stretch your art and try new things. Thanks, Gayle for setting this up.

Also while Mary was here we went to a small local quilt show. Several of my clients won ribbons on quilts I had quilted for them. Mary posted the photos on her blog, so I will not repeat them here. But my other news is that my frog quilt pictured below was juried into the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival next month.

The landscaping is progressing nicely, and in a couple days I think I will have the finished product to post.
I enjoyed my visit with Mary....wish we lived closer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My new landscaping

We are in a 2 year drought. Things will only get worse. So I have being doing things gradually to be more environmentally friendly and reduce my footprint on this earth in hopes of leaving something of value for my grandchildren. I have replaced all my household appliances to energy and water efficient ones. We have converted our pool heater from electric to solar. And now, we have removed our turf lawn and in it's place are putting in native, drought tolerant plants, that after established in 45- 60 days, will require no extra watering other than natural rainfall, and no mowing. It is not a cheap process, but in the end will save natural resources and look good...even in a drought! the first few photos are before and during the lawn removal. We removed no trees and also left all the mature plantings that were native and drought tolerant.

You can clearly see the property line here...ours brown, neighbors green!

And now, the planting is under way. Still a long way to go, but progress none the less. There will be no grass...just a garden with winding paths through the plants. A natural xeroscape. But it will be green and beautiful year round, even in years of extended drought. It will require no fertilizers or pesticides. And it will provide habitat for birds and butterflies.

And this is the back yard. A flagstone path to the water, piers and boat. A herb, and citrus garden. And a butterfly garden.

Like I said, a long way to go yet, but in a couple weeks We'll have a beautiful, natural, sustainable eco- friendly environment.
And tomorrow, Mary arrives! Let the fun begin!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Working with air dry clay

OK, here's my experiment with air dry clay. My goal was to make a charm to use as an embellishment for a wall quilt or postcard. I used Hearty's air dry clay. This is a soft clay that is easy to work with and does not need to be baked to cure. It is completely cured in 24 hours. For my charm I chose a sun mold. This mold is a Maureen Carlson flexible mold for use with any polymer clay. First step is to dust your mold with talc or cornstarch which will make releasing your charm from the mold easier. I used baby powder.

Then pull off a piece of clay and roll it between your hands to smooth and soften doesn't take much as it is fairly soft.

Now press it into your mold filling the deepest part first.

Then gently flex the mold to release the charm. I will say, it does take a couple tries to get it out without distorting the image.

Here it is out of the mold. You can see there is a little distortion...each try gets better. Now you can trim the excess clay away and save it for reuse. Remeber though, this is air cured clay, so put it away in an airtight bag or container right away.

This is the charm trimmed. Leave it for 24 hours and it will be cured. At this point if you want a hole to stitch through, take a toothpick or some other tool to make your hole now before it dries.

After 24 hours it is cured and ready to paint. I painted mine with Jacquard Lumiere Halo pink gold.

And it's ready to sew on the project of my choice.
You could also roll this clay out flat and use rubber stamps to make impressions that you can turn into buttons.
And I'm sure there are many other uses too.
I will use this allot!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A new postcard from Mary!

I was going to share the air dry polymer clay experiment today, but we have company and I don't have time tonight. But I did want to share the latest postcard from Mary.

She's really got this down and I LOVE getting them from her.

Have a great night and I'll be back in a couple days.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Experiments

First, let me thank Ruthie for giving me her "Make my day award" I am very honored. And along those lines, there are those blogs that make me.happy to be a part of blogland. So I will pass this award on to them. Mary (of course you all knew my sister would be on that list), Gina, Carla, Suzanne, Vicki W, Gayle, Judy L,Yvonne and Randi. Thank you all for make this blogland a wonderful, sharing place.

Now, As promised I will start sharing the new experiments I have been doing lately. This one was with Tyvek. As you may (or may not) know there are 2 types...hard structure and soft structure. The hard structure is like the post office and Fed Ex envelopes. The soft structure is what they make protective clothing out of. I did the same heat test with both. For this purpose I will call the hard structure Regular tyvek and the soft structure Tyvek fabric.
This is a 4" piece of tyvek fabric as it comes from the manufacturer.

I painted the piece with Jacquard's Lumiere paints (2 colors)...just brushed them on.

The I put it between 2 Teflon sheets and ironed them on the poly setting for just a minute or 2. It was too long.

But you can see what shrinks and bubbles. The side AWAY from the heat gets convex bubbles. This side TOWARDS the heat gets concave bubbles. This one had heat too long and the center melted way.

But you can see how the metallic paint becomes more intense.

This sample is the hard or regular Tyvek before painting.

And after painting; again with Jacquard Lumiere.

This time barely heated it with the iron on the poly setting. And again you get the convex effect on one side and concave on the other. And again the paints become more intense.

The beauty of this material is obviously the texture created. And you can sew thru either one. So I see lots of uses for this neat stuff in future projects.
Tomorrow we'll do air dry polymer clay.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I loaded an started another quilt yesterday, but found myself distracted. So in other words...I didn't work today. Instead I shopped. Bought a couple books on amazon, but mainly spent the big bucks at joggles.

I buy tons of art supplies there. All for fiber art..paints, beads, tyvek, shrink plastic, wool roving, silk roving, Angelina...and the list goes on. Actually I started there, then went to amazon to find the books to go with the mediums and techniques.

Got lots of cool stuff to try, and some that I have tried before and liked. Good Day!

For those of you who asked about my process for the quilt I posted last night, this is my usual way of working.

I first stabilize the quilt by SID (stitch in the ditch, for anyone not familiar)
Then if there are motifs to quilt, I do those.
Then if there is applique, do the detail work in that.
Then finally, I do the background fill.

Once the quilt is stabilized I can roll it back and forth at will without worry. So I will start with one color and do all the work with that color before changing. So it is more efficient than changing colors a gazillion times with each roll.

The borders are usually the last thing I do (sans background fill) and I do turn the quilt to do the side borders.

This all works for me. It's certainly not the only way...just my way.

Thanks for all the generous comments about my work, I really appreciate it.

And I love seeing all of your art too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Feathered out

Another one finished. This one is impeccably pieced (what a treat that is!) and it is huge...107" square. The client wanted feathers, so feathers she got!
I used King Tut "Cairo" in the fan blades, and So Fine "sunshine" (I think that's the name) in the yellow fan bases; So Fine "Pearl" for the background feathers , Monopoly for the SID, and Rainbows "Western Sunset" for the outer border. Oh yeah and dark gray in the black border.

The batting she chose was Quilters Dream Poly request loft, so it is really pretty thin and flat looking. I was actually surprised I had as much stitch definition with a batt that flat.

This quilt was so big I didn't think I'd ever get to the end! I am feathered out. She picked it up this afternoon and is pleased with it.
The next one is loaded and ready to go. After that one I'll be back on schedule. I also did a little work on my 2 triptychs for MQR. I'm trying some new mediums and techniques, (new to me at least) so it is definitely trial and error. But I'm having fun with them. I'll post photos ( successes and failures) when they're done. I am keeping a photo record of the process and I'll share that as well when done.
I still need to make my challenge block for our upcoming guild retreat; and cut my 80 six inch squares (also for retreat). I still have not done my MQS quilt, or the quilt for my next applique class.
I need more hours in the day!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A postcard from Mary!

I got a new postcard! In case you haven't figured this out yet...I love getting fabric postcards! Such wonderful pieces of art from others. Well this one is from my sister Mary. And those I get from her are extra special.She tends to be more critical of herself and her work than I am of mine. But then she is a perfectionist; I am more free in an artistic sense (actually in life) than she is. But she is very methodical and attentive to detail. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants. But she is always willing to try new things. So when I receive something that she made, it is so very special to me. That we share this quilting passion is a gift I will always cherish. To my other 2 sisters, I love stuff you make me too! And Mother...those things I have that you have made are priceless. But I must admit that I have a special bond with Mary. that is not to diminish what I feel for Ann and Maureen, because I love them dearly. It's just different. I am the oldest in my family. I was away at college and then married while the others were still at home. I have 2 brothers who are wonderful, next in line to me. Mary is the next closest sister in age to me....that is not to say she is in my age group...heaven forbid! But we share a passion for quilting, and she as I do, have a grown family and thus the freedom to pursue that passion.

Anyway, this has gotten really long winded. But Mary is coming for a visit the end of the month and I am thrilled! We tried to get
Mother to come, but she didn't feel like she could at this time. We will miss her, but we will enjoy our time together. Thanks, Mary for making the effort to connect. I cherish our time together. And thanks for the beautiful postcard.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The long awaited light bar!

I am jumping with joy tonight! My light bar is done and installed! For those of you that missed it, I had been complaining about needing more light directly over my workspace. I had looked at the light system Gammill has now, but there were 2 things I didn't like about it. #1 is that there are regular individual lights at intervals along the bar with shades. So I was afraid shadows would be an issue. Might not be, but it was a concern. #2 was that it was pretty high above the work surface. So, I talked to my husband, showed him the photo of the Gammill setup and told him what I wanted different. He measured and made a drawing. Took it to a steel fabricator that made it to his specifications. Then he drilled my table and bolted on. Then hung two 48" shop light fixtures (I have an 11 ft table). We put in 4 Ott light tubes and Voila! I have perfect light 23" above my entire work surface that doesn't get hot (heat is a big issue here in SW Florida) and with no shadows!!! I am a VERY happy camper!!!
These last 2 photos were taken after dark without the overhead room light on and without the camera flash. The Ott light bulbs came from Dick Blick.
The shop light fixtures came from Home Depot.

I can even quilt at night now if I want too. That is something I couldn't do before. I'm a very lucky girl! Thanks Don, for listening to what I needed and the providing it yet again. You're the best, honey!