Maybe she is a flower girl??

I have continued to think about the background for my “Henna Girl” and just haven’t been happy with any of my ideas. Here, once again, is the photo that I have been working from……

My original plan was to add the lemons in the background, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I was concerned that having something so intricate and detailed might take the emphasis off of the girl.

I was talking to Michael about it the other day and he suggested adding something that was a little more abstract rather than a realistic background. I originally thought about adding a linear design….maybe strips in the background, but then……

…..Facebook to the rescue!!! A photo ( from Jan Ali of Chalo Heritage & Nature Walks) was posted that had large baskets of flowers….

They looked as if the perspective might be right so now I am playing with baskets of flowers rather than lemons. I think that I can do the wicker in detail but have the flowers more abstract.

I have done a bit of playing with paper…..

…..and think that it MIGHT work.

The real question will be whether to add more than the one basket in the background and the partial basket in the foreground, but I guess that I don’t really have to decide that yet!!!

So I am off to start weaving baskets!!!!

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Let's play "Never Have I Ever"

If you have never played this game, one person says…..”Never have I ever ___________(fill in the blank).” IF the other player’s HAVE done it (whatever it is), they have to perform some task…..maybe have a drink or do 10 sit-ups (wouldn’t happen with me), or some other silly thing.

Well, today we are going to play it with making bias binding…..

Never have I ever…… sewn the wrong ends of the bias strips together so that I ended up with 2 loops of binding rather than one long piece…..

Never have I ever……cut the strip too narrow and not find out until I had sewn all 260 inches together and started making bias……

Nope, that does NOT look right!!

Never have I ever….. clipped a notch in the bias when trying to trim the seam……

Never have I ever…… had to re-sew the connecting seams SEVERAL times to get the angle correct!!

Never have I ever…… sewn the strips together so that they form a 90 degree angle rather than a continuation of the strip!!

Since I did every one of these things this afternoon, it is obvious that I would LOSE this game!!!

I finally got my act together and actually made some decent binding. I was using the Clover bias maker in 3/8 inch width. Once I made the correct width and length of bias, I trimmed the end…..

…..and inserted it into the bias maker, using a point to help guide it thru……

Once I had it working well, I called Michael upstairs and ask him to help me video the ironing process…..

So at the end of my short creative time, I have the binding made and ready to add to my Color quilt!!!

Maybe tomorrow will be better!!!

Thinking of backgrounds…..

Since I now have the “Henna Girl” (working title) body completed, it is time to think about the background and rest of the picture.

As I showed a couple of posts back…….

…….. she and her mother were sitting in the middle of a large street market….literally IN the street!!! They block that particular street off for a certain time each day and the market moves in for the few hours.

I decided that I wanted the background to look something like an asphalt street and figured that sponge painting was the fastest way to go.

I started looking thru my stash and came across this piece of fabric…..

You may remember it from the “less-than-successful” dyeing session that I had this past summer. As I looked at this fabric, I decided that it would be the perfect base for the background, but it was going to need a lot of highlights added!!!

I cut the fabric in half to give myself a second try (if needed) and got set up on Michael’s workbench…..

I started out by mixing several brownish paints and began sponging my way across the fabric……

Next I added some greens and kept going with the same spongeā€¦..

As time went on, I kept adding new colors, but mixing them in with whatever paint was left from the previous round.

I ended off by sponging a jet black over everything else.

The final product looked good……

Next, I glued all of the body pieces together to make her all one piece and excitedly added her to the background……..

I covered it with the tulle and am super happy with how it looks. Although the tulle deadens the colors some, it really does help with blending the fabrics……

I have also started working on the two background elements….. part of the basket in front of her and a bag of fruit in the back.

She’s coming along!!!!!

What I did last weekend.

First of all, let me apologize for not having more posts in these first 2 weeks of 2020. I have had great intentions, but life has simply gotten in the way!!!

That being said……this was my view for much of this past weekend…..

….staring at an I-phone screen while it recorded my husband Michael (on the right), interviewing various people at the Dallas Safari Club Convention. One of his editor’s had asked him to do some posts with video reviews of the convention and I offered to come along to handle the technological side of things.

All in all, the videos were successful although I did learn a few things along the way that will make it better next time. Also I now feel VERY comfortable with recording and editing videos so maybe I can add a few here every once in a while.

Most of Michael’s time was spent talking to various firearms dealers, (which quickly grew boring for me), so I decided to walk the show and look at the artisans who were present. Here are some of my favorites…..

The first that caught my eye were the works of Joshua Tobey. I particularly loved the humorous side of many of his sculptures…..

There were so many painters with works displayed that it was hard to pick a favorite, but I was captured by this painting by Peter Blackwell…..

….and truly enjoyed the colors displayed in many of his other works…..

The wood carvings of Steve Bartholomew would be gorgeous in any home!!!…..

…as would the bronze work by Christopher Smith…..

Finally, there was a lot of “fine” jewelry, but these simple animal pieces from “The Magic Zoo” were the ones that tickled my fancy……

It was a fun weekend and I always enjoy when Michael and I can work together….we make a pretty good team!!!

So, the last videos are now edited and ready to post and it is time to turn my mind to my January 31st deadlines…..ie….the curse of the CPA!!!!!

I’ll be back soon!!

Two projects at the same time!!

I seldom work on two things at one time, but busy times call for intense multi-tasking!!

As I have posted here over the last few months, I have two quilts in the making….the Color Wheel and the Henna Girl. Since I found out that my studio enlargement is going to start at the end of January, and I REALLY want to get both of these quilts finished this spring, I am having to split my time between the two.

The first item on the agenda was to get all of the hand appliqued circles put onto the Color wheel quilt. When this was accomplished, I then added the color “squiggle, basting it in place as I went……

I had to make a few alterations to make the corners match, but it was fairly easy to put a fold into the squiggle.

Next I made 25 feet of bias tape, using the 3/8″ Clover tool and glued it to the outer edge of the squiggle…..

With all of it now in place, I will be able to work on the hand applique at night while watching TV…..

On to quilt #2……

Today I finished the body of the “Henna Girl”, adding her legs and feet……

The next step will be to work on the background. I am thinking about painting the “asphalt” fabric that she will sit on. The question is what else to add to the background. As I look at the original photo that I took of she and her Mom……

….I am thinking that I want to include a bit more of the background to better set the stage. I am tempted to include the bag of fruit in the background and maybe some of the woven basket in the foreground.

Decisions…….decisions!!!!

2019 in Review…..

Well, it is 7:00pm on the 31st, we have enjoyed our celebratory Dairy Queen Blizzards……

….so it is now one of my favorite times…..

On New’s Day, I wrote about a few of my goals for 2019, the first being to be fully engaged in two of the big events that were planned for the year….. out Guild quilt show followed quickly by Jenny and Kevin’s wedding…..and both event in the middle of a busy income tax season!!! To that end, my word for the Spring was “FOCUS”. And, I am happy to say that I got to May having fully enjoyed both events and being in even better shape with my work than I have been in many years!!!

My quilting goal was to do just that….find time for quilting and working to improve my free motion quilting and my ruler work. These were both accomplished with the final product being this quilt…..

As I worked on this goal, I wondered if I was getting any better, but when I was recently doing some quilting that had to be FAST, I found that I was able to do a better job with much less effort. That seems like a sign that I have improved some!!

I also had a goal to spend a few minutes every day doing something creative. Sometimes this was physically working on a quilt and sometimes it was simply sitting in my studio and thinking!!! But, the point is that I did it even during the busy times. Actually, I found that it was easier to do when I was super busy than it was when I had more time available!!!

This year I made three quilts for VERY special babies entering this world……

I finished “All Tatted Up”…..

….complete with a most unfortunately oil spot!!!

With the help of some very special friends, I finished “Vila do Conde Friendship Garden”……

The infamous “Christmas Pineapple” was at last finished and put into service during the month of December…….

I participated in two guild challenges this year. The first was “When I see a tree”……

…..followed by the Silhouette challenge…. “Dreaming of Sunsets”……

I took a class to start the process of becoming a NQA show judge but then decided that it wasn’t really for me. Instead, I started thinking about color and putting together another guild talk based on my thinking. But, then I got carried away with my Color Wheel quilt which is still very much a Work-In-Progress.

Finally, I put on my big-girl panties and tried my hand at a portrait quilt. It is also still in progress but I am hoping to get it finished this spring.

I also got to spend many fun hours with my sweet friend Claire and enjoyed working together to make a quilt for her mother, Liz……

Unfortunately, I am ending this year with one new UFO!! I started a challenge from my “Creative Eight’s Group” but just haven’t been able to see it thru……

I am doubtful that I will ever finish it, but if someone would like to, I will happily hand it over!!!!

On the blogging front, I am happy with my move to WordPress and pleased that I have been more consistent in posting blogs. As a result, I have made several new friends in the blogsphere!!!

Finally, Michael and I enjoyed a month in Italy, France and Switzerland, a week in hot West Texas and many adventures closer to home.

All in all, the year has been good and now I am fully ready for 2020…..

Studio Update

Now that Christmas is over, my house has been undecorated and redecorated in “Winter Blues”, using a few of my favorite “blue” things……

….including this small 12 inch quilt that I made YEARS ago…..

In the studio, I have been working on my Color Wheel quilt……

I have now appliqued most of the circles on and am ready to start putting binding on the edges of the squiggle. The first step is to baste it in place…..

Next I need to make miles of bias binding, and then decide whether I am going to apply it by machine or by hand…… I am leaning toward hand.

Now for my biggest studio news…..

In the upstairs of our house, there is a sitting room just on the other side of the bedroom that holds my studio…….

….and my husband has had the idea of knocking down the adjoining wall and adding about 75% to the size of my studio. We talked to the contractor today and he plans to start sometime toward the end of January. I am pumped!!!!

I have been searching the internet looking for new storage ideas for fabrics and threads and trying to figure out how to build a new cutting table. So many new things to think about!!!!

Now I need to get the Henna Girl and this Color Wheel quilts finished up FAST!!!

Crazy Arnold Christmas

As I mentioned back at Thanksgiving, our family has never been “normal” when it comes to celebrations, but we all love to laugh and have fun and that is the theme of this post!!!

In the last few years we have celebrated with our children on Christmas Eve, leaving Christmas Day for the kids to visit with their spouse’s family. This past celebration was a blast and I wanted to share a bit of the fun with you.

This was the year of the “payback”…..let me explain. For MANY years I have made our kids play games and have contests to get their presents. They have had to pop balloons to get cash out of them, unwrap $5 bills that had been ensconced in toilet paper rolls and even solve a puzzle to open the bank that held their gift.

Each year we hide a “cactus” ornament (as opposed to a pickle) and the winner gets to unwrap a game of some sort and then they play…..for money of course!!! This year was a slapping game and the results were spectacular……

Then, the guys received a boxing “training ball” as a gag gift and we all trooped outside to watch them train…..

Now it was time for payback…..in a big way……

Our sweet kids gave us a Gift Certificate to spend a weekend at a favorite spot. It was SO unexpected and we are looking forward to a weekend away in the near future!!!

The fun continued for the rest of the evening, with Mexican Chicken Spaghetti for dinner and, of course, the opening of lots of presents…..

…..and the annual Christmas family photo……

Christmas day was a quiet affair starting with a morning walk, including a neighborhood trail that I haven’t been on in the 7+ years that we have lived here…..

The morning continued by doing a bit of stitching and watching a great Christmas movie……”DIE HARD”!!!!!!…….

…..lunch from a local Chinese restaurant……

….and ending the day in my studio, enjoying some of my gifts……

As you can see, I have LOTS of things to try in the new year!!

All in all, it was a WONDERFUL holiday!!!! I hope that you also enjoyed a very……

Quilting with Claire

Over the last 6 months, Claire and I have been working on a secret project….a Christmas gift for her mom, Liz.

It all started out at our last guild quilt show where Liz picked out a panel that she liked and asked Claire if she could make a quilt from it. She then asked if she needed to buy some other fabrics to add to it and Claire uttered the immortal words….”No Mom, Mrs. Frances has plenty!!”. She speaks truth!!

We started on the project when school was out last June, planning to get it finished pretty quickly, but life was just too busy for both of us so it took a few months to do.

The first step was to pick out a bunch of fabrics that would work with the panel…..

After cutting out the blocks from the panel, we added borders to each of them and planned a basic layout (that we “sort of” stuck to)…..

Now it was time to start filling in all of the blank spaces between the blocks, starting with a string of fish…..

….followed by more fish…..

….then some paper pieced umbrellas……

Like me, Claire is NOT a fan of paper piecing.

We then started using bigger pieces of fabric to fill in, piecing 9-patches, strips of squares and adding lots of borders…..

We kept adding bits and pieces and finished the top construction just after Thanksgiving. Claire basted it using fusible batting…..

….and started with the quilting…….

She did all of the straight lines and I came back and added a bit of free-motion quilting.

There were smiles galore as we looked at it one last time…..

….before packing it a big box with ribbons and bows. Liz was presented with it on Saturday and is looking forward to keeping warm under her special quilt “Dreaming of Beaches” by Claire!!!

Now we have to come up with a new project to work on in 2020. I can’t wait to spend more time with this wonderful young lady!!!

Using the best tools!!!

As I mentioned previously, my husband Michael has a side business where he writes about hunting and firearms. As part of this he is often sent firearms to review, with the latest being a rifle that was designed for long-range targets. Since he needed help at the range, I went along as his photographer, videographer and spotter.

After a few shots at various range targets he asked me if I wanted to try it. Now, I have never shot a high-powered rifle before and never really had any desire to, but he encouraged me to try this one. And, boy was I surprised…..

The design of the firearm meant that there was virtually no recoil and the scope meant that it was easy to spot the targets. My shots at 100 and 200 yards were close to perfect.

As the targets moved further out, we needed something to help with the calculations…..in this case a Handheld Ballastic Computer…..

This thing is seriously cool!!! You enter the specs of the rifle you are shooting and the ammo that you are using. Then you hold it out to check wind speed and direction. Finally, you enter the distance at which you are shooting and VOILA…..you are given the settings that you need to use on the scope to effectively reach the target.

We kept shooting and moving out 100 yards at a time. The final target was 715 yards (2/5ths of a mile) away and this was my grouping…..

Not too bad for a beginner….

…… but I do have to share my kudos with the tools that we used!!