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 sponge…..

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!!!!!

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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!!

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!!!

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!!

It's my blogiversary!!!

Eleven years ago I decided to start writing and posting a blog featuring quilting, traveling and the other crazy things in my life.

When I started, I was uncertain that I would enjoy blogging, uncertain that it wouldn’t just take up more and more of my time, and uncertain that ANYone would want to read it. Well, all three of those worries were unfounded!!!

I love writing about what I am doing and I have found that the blogging process has helped to focus my quilting energies. I am always thinking about the next project and how I can blog about it. I have also enjoyed the documentation process that goes along with blogging, and have found it to be really helpful to write what I do and why.

But the biggest enjoyment of blogging has been the people that I have met along the way…..I have connected with women from many parts of the US and many foreign countries, and they all have one thing in common……they each have SO much quilting talent!!!

I have “met” people who spin with drop spindles, knit until their arms ache, learn to speak Greek just for the heck of it, cook some amazing dishes and, most importantly, keep the art of quilting alive and well in this world. I have been encouraged, complimented, educated and loved by all of you and I thank you!!!!

So, please raise your glasses…..

”To all of the wonderful blogging quilters of the world…..HERE’S TO YOU!!!!!”

Cooking up some memories

Today I did a bit of Christmas cooking for a dinner that we are hosting tomorrow night. I started with a carrot cake……

….followed by three candies….and that is where the memories flooded in.

The first was making Peanut Brittle using a recipe that my Mother-In-Law (Esther) gave to me many years ago…..

Esther was a good cook, and she LOVED for things to be easy and I really appreciated that. This candy is made in the microwave and is wonderful, although I often burn at least one of the two batches that I make. But, today I got them both just right!!!

Her other Christmas specialty were Millionaires, using caramels and pecans and covered in milk chocolate….YUMMY!!….

Esther turned 94 this week and, unfortunately, is struggling with dementia. When I spoke with her today and mentioned the Peanut Brittle, she brightened and said that she bet it would be good!!

The second memory arrived when I was making Double Divinity….one of my Mother’s favorite Christmas goodies. And this candy is not made the easy way. It has two cooked sugar solutions that are poured over beaten egg whites. She had a love/hate relationship with it as it would sometimes fail for no apparent reason, including whether or not it was humid outside!!!

My Divinity experience today was mostly successful, although I burned the second sugar/water solution, not once but…..TWICE….

…..That is NOT the right color!!! But this is the way that it is supposed to look…

I will let it sit tonight and cut it into squares tomorrow.

All in all, it was a fun afternoon cooking and remembering my Mom and Mother-In-Law, although watching “The Great British Baking Show” may have put a bit too much pressure on me!!!!

One batch of cookies in the morning and I am ready to go!!!

It's the Little Things

There have been two things that have made me happy on this Monday……

Seeing the cable that is being laid in my neighborhood to bring wired internet and TV service!!! No more DSL or U-Verse!!

Having these pins delivered to my front door. I bought them specifically to use on my design wall and they are PERFECT. The “comfort” heads make them easier to push and the size of the head makes them easier to find when I drop them!!!

As they say…..

Happy Thanksgiving….the Arnold way!!

Our family has always been a bit weird when it comes to holidays and Thanksgiving is no exception

Our son, Brian and his wife Amber spent the morning running in the Peachtree Half-Marathon in Atlanta. Brian did the half…..

….while Amber ran in the 5k. After they finished…..

….they ate at their favorite Korean Restaurant and spent the day recovering!! We celebrated Thanksgiving with them last Sunday.

Jenny and Kevin arrived for brunch, starting off with traditional Mimosas……

….and a family selfie…..

After eating our brunch, we made the traditional trip to the Tree Farm and picked out our 2 trees. After Michael and Kevin practiced with the small tree……

…it was time to tackle the 14 foot tree. We normally put the tree in the stand and then carry it into the house. Kevin asked the obvious question….why don’t we carry it into the house and THEN put it into the stand…..DUH!!!!

They carried it into the house (with Jenny helping by taking selfies)…..

And, in about 5 minutes, the tree was up and secure!!!…..

Michael said a big”THANK YOU” to Kev for his help!!!

After the kids left to go visit Kevin’s family, I headed to my studio for about 2 hours and then proceeded to strip the house of all decorations…..

Tomorrow I will decorate for the upcoming holidays!!

Thanksgiving dinner consisted of Cheese Dip, Salsa, Guacamole and Tostitos….

I hope that your Thanksgiving was equally fun and traditional!!!!

One side note here…… if you have a large tree and are looking for a good solid tree stand, I can highly recommend the Krinner Tree Genie…..

It is a bit pricey, but it is super easy to use and completely stable….a win-win!!

It’s International Quilt Festival Time!!!

For the last two years, I have been able to attend the Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas with my friend Linda and this year brought more of the same fun!!

We arrived in Houston and immediately went to sign in and pick up our registration packets. It was so much fun to look at the show thru the portal windows on the second floor…..

The “party” got started…..

….in the usual way, with Mexican food from Pappasito’s…..YUM…..

I started finding quilt designs before we ever hit the show floor!! This tile was in the restaurant…..

….and the carpet in the hotel has inspired me for all three years that we have been here!!!

As we entered the show, the top award winners were display along the front of the hall and, in my estimation, THIS quilt should have been the top winner!!!!

“The Long Goodbye” by Lea McComas

Lea was there to talk about the quilt and her process. I was interested to learn that she first fused the fabrics to a background and then covered it with a Bridal tulle in a Champagne color. She then thread paints over the tulle. Whatever her process, it was a poignant and amazing quilt!!

One of the first special exhibits that we saw was the “Cherrywood Fabric – Bob Ross” challenge. Each year Cherrywood selects a topic and puts together a bundle of fabrics that must be used in the making of the quilt. When I heard about this challenge last year, I figured that it wouldn’t be all that great, but I…..Was…..WRONG!!!

There were a large number of quilts displayed ( I am guessing 150 to 200) and the designs were absolutely amazing.

I particularly enjoyed the “70’s” furnishings in “Painting with Bob” and the tree leaves on “Sunset Among the Trees” were done with ribbon embroidery……

We moved into the “Comics and Sci-Fi” exhibit and stood in front of this quilt for a long time, trying to figure out what it was……

“The Image of an Angel” by Erin Amos

Only when I looked thru my camera could you really see it…..NOTE….squint when you look at the above photo for best effect!! It was cool and terrifying at the same time!!

Not so terrifying was this comic sci-fi character quilt……

“the Eyes Have It” by Carolyn Skei

Moving into the “Modern Quilt” exhibit, we found this amazing radial quilt……

“Offset Radial” by Audrey Esarey

….and this lovely quilt by our very own Sylvia Schaefer!!!! I absolutely LOVE Sylvia’s quilting!!

In the “Extinct Animal” exhibit, I found a fun peacock……

“Green Peafowl” by Sherri Cyra

This quilt is a great example of using “Fussy Cutting” in an applique format. Personally, I think that this looks a lot easier than piecing…..

by Janet Steele

In the “Celebration of Color” exhibit I loved this fish quilt although I can’t imagine cutting out all of those fish outlines!!!

“Swim Team” by Betty Busby

….and this quilt reminded me that I need to get back home and get to work on my “color” quilt!!!

“Rainbow Blender” by Stephanie Skardal

We wandered into the “Tactile Architecture” exhibit and I quickly forgave them for turning down my “Tiles of San Giovani” quilt!!! I LOVE this archway quilt…..

“Passages” by Nancy Woods

….and this Eiffel Tower quilt was magnificent and was HUGE….probably 8 feet across….

“La Tour: by Damss Arnoldi Sarzi-Sartori

There were a number of other quilts that caught my eye, but this one was probably my favorite…..

“Iconoclastic Reflection” by Barbara Forrester and Jill Vickery

I was very interested in the way that the bricks were rendered…..

It appears that the blue was first quilted and then the splotches of color were added with paints!! What a great idea!! As I looked at the above photo, I realized that they outlined most of the quilt with black thread quilting. It really made the quilt “pop”!!

I took this photo to remind myself of an easy border pattern that I could use a straight ruler to create…..

Finally, I found two sunflower quilts to enjoy…….

I hadn’t even noticed the bee on the left one until I read the quilt title!! And, have a look at the center of the quilt on the right. This is only a portion of the quilt but I was amazed with how the flower center was created.

We spent most of the evening in the quilt area but did manage to wander a bit in the Vendor hall, and amazingly, four hours passed before we knew it.

I would say that it was a great “preview” for the days to come!!!

Color Wheel Central….or the Comedy of Quilting Errors!!

If you have been reading this blog in the past few months, you may be wondering exactly what happened to the Color wheel quilt. I can assure you that it is still in process!! I was super excited when the fabrics that I had ordered arrived……

They are so much better than the pieces that I tried to dye for myself!!

This quilt has been a “sort-of” quilt…… I “sort of” knew how I was going to lay it out and I “sort of” knew how I was going to attach the squiggles, and I “sort of” knew how I was going to position the Catherine Wheel circles and I have “NO IDEA” what I am going to add in the outer corners…..but that is getting ahead of myself!!! Back to the “sort-of ‘s”!!

The first thing that I needed to do was to figure out the exact size of the squiggle square because that would determine the dimensions of my inside square. I started laying it out on the floor but…..

….I couldn’t make it square to save my soul!!! I would carefully adjust one side and corner, only to have the other side not fit!! ARGHHHHH!!!

If only there was some way that I could square up the sides???? Oh yeah, I have a laser square…..let’s try that!!!

And, amazingly, I had a good square laid out in just a few minutes……

A quick measurement of the center square (47 inches) and I was ready to start cutting background fabrics…..and things started going wrong!!!

This is the layout that I was thinking about…..

I want the squiggle to be on the darkest fabric and will want at least 2 inches on either side of it. So, if I take 4 inches off of the inside square measurement, I need the center piecing to be 43 inches. These 43 inches will be split between 3 fabrics…..say 14.5 inches each.

Do you see my mistake???? There are actually FIVE strips in the inner square and not 3. So now I have cut all of the fabrics too wide….YIKES!!!

I trimmed them back down to the needed size and started working from the inside out.

The first step was to applique the inner color wheel. I had a “sort-of” idea about how to do this using bias binding to cover the edges. My plan was to machine sew the inside edge and then hand stitch the outside edges. BUT…..no matter how hard I tried on my practice piece, I could not get it to lay flat…..the binding would pull the circle in and cause it to puff out……

At least I had the foresight to practice my technique prior to working on the actual piece!!! After several tries, I decided to change tracks and applique BOTH sides of the bias tape which meant that I could make everything lay flat. I accomplished this by glue basting the bias tape all the way around the circle before I ever started stitching…..

However, I did manage to cut the bias tape too short the first time and didn’t leave enough to join it back together…..ARGH!!! At last I had it finished…..

….but then realized that the yellow had to be on point and not on the square side of the block.

At this point I need to say…..I promise that I am smart, although you couldn’t prove it with this day’s work!!!!

Instead of re-doing the applique, I ended up adding corners to each of the sides to put the color wheel in the proper perspective……

So much for not having many seams to applique over!!!

I will leave this disaster here for now and continue with “Comedy of Errors” in tomorrow’s post!!