“Blew” Two….

Yesterday, I posted about my entry in the “I’m so Blue” guild challenge.

Normally, I am finishing my challenges on the day that they are due, or maybe the day before if I am really organized, but, with this one, the idea came quickly and I was finished over a month before the due date…. UN-HEARD OF!!

Just after I finished it, I was talking to another guild member (Sue) and she said that she would make it different by using the other spelling/meaning of blue……ie BLEW!!

Just after our conversation, we made another trip to Kunming, China where I spied this wonderful bronze statue…..

I adored the look on the man’s face….

….not to mention the little boy at the back…..

Now THAT is a great example of “BLEW”!!

When we returned home, I called Sue and asked if she had ever acted on her inspiration. She said that she had not and that I was welcome to use the idea.

I started with the photo itself, tweaking it to enhance the color…..

I used the pinwheel as my inspiration and added a bunch of small pinwheels and two larger 3-D pinwheels….

….and added the beaded “stick” to meet the embellishment and blue requirements.

I made a couple of paper quilts to test out the quilting designs….

….but finally decided on wavy parallel lines in a metallic thread….

I love the final product…..

…particularly the way that the fabrics worked together.

And, as a plus, it is another fun “Travel Log Quilt” that reminds me of a trip to Kunming!!

As Blue Goes By….

Back in 2010 our guild proposed a challenge called “I’m So Blue”. It had to include the color blue and also have some form of fabric embellishment.

Unusually for me, I had my idea MONTHS before the due date, and it came from the British Sit-Com, “As time Goes By”. In that show there is a picture on the wall that has a dresser with a single flower in a vase and I had always been drawn to it.

I started out by pulling blue scraps and placing them around a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing…..

I did my usual internet research and came up with an interesting looking chest to use…..

….and also found this flower design…..

I added a vase and flipped the flower to one side….

After everything was cut out and fused down, it was time to add the embellishment. I wanted the chest to have an antique look so decided to sponge paint a bit of color…..

Since I was playing with paint, I also added a bit of stenciling (you can see it at the top of the above photo).

After adding a border and a few more details, I declared that “As Blue Goes By” was finished…..

But this was not the end to the “I’m So Blue” challenge…..come back tomorrow for the next entry!!!

Why don’t I like this quilt??

When Michael and I were photographing all of my quilts, I kept pushing one to the back and finally suggested that we just leave it and not take pictures of it. Michael asked me a poignant question……”Why don’t you like it?”

I had to think about it for a few minutes and then responded that I remembered the emotions that were racing thru my mind as I was making it and it put a damper on my enjoyment of both the process and then the quilt itself!!

This quilt was started as part of one of our guild challenges where we were supposed to use polygons in the design. I had an idea and started to work on it but then life started to unravel a bit. We were planning to travel to Nepal in June to trek in the Himalayas, but then there was an earthquake at the end of April. Plans were put on hold, plans were changed, travel tickets were canceled, life was rerouted, VISA’s were complicated, new passports were needed, and on and on!!! None of these things were horrible but they simply overwhelmed us for about 2 months!!!

Now, when I look at the finished quilt, that is all I can remember…..the frustration, disappointment and challenges of that time period.

As I was refolding the quilt after the photo session, I decided to hang it in my studio for a while and try to enjoy it. And it has worked!!! It will probably never be a favorite quilt, but I have come to love the simplicity and serenity in the design……

Maybe it isn’t such a bad quilt after all…….

When you see a tree….. Part 1

Do you have a thinking place? A place where you can go to clear your mind and let problems solve themselves. For me, it is my shower!!! While soaking under the warm spray of water I have solved accounting problems, house repair problems, quilting problems and have had more inspirations than I want to admit. My water bill would probably be a lot less if my thinking closet was somewhere else!!!

My latest epiphany relates to a guild challenge that is due at our meeting next Tuesday…. less than a week away!!! The challenge is “When You See a Tree” and, as usual, I had way too many ideas of what I would like to do. Many times the real challenge for me is to narrow it down to just ONE choice and often that narrowing takes place at the last minute!! This particular morning, I kept coming back to the idea that a tree is a place of refuge and the image that formed was a tree branch with a bird’s nest in it.

I was pretty sure that I wanted to use some three dimensional leaves and other accents so I wanted to do something different with the tree bark as well. I have seen tree trunks that were made with cheesecloth and thought that it might be fun to try it myself. The first problem was that I needed cheesecloth!!! After a walk thru my local grocery store I finally asked the customer service person and was told that I could find it in the cleaning section where the rubber gloves are!! Not exactly where I would have put it, but at least I left the store with it in hand!!!

I began by wetting the cloth and loosely folding it in a plastic box. I dribbled three colors of paint onto the fabric…..

…..and then pressed the color through out the cheesecloth. When I squeezed out the excess paint, I grabbed another piece of fabric and used it to sop up the beautiful brown leftover paint…..

The two dyed pieces were carried down to the driveway for a (hopefully) quick drying session.

While I waited for the fabric to dry, I cleaned and put away all of the paint and supplies. Now my husband, when he reads this, will fall into a dead faint because I am SELDOM known to pick up after myself when I am in “creative mode”.

Of course the Georgia sun and heat, which has been in overdrive in the last 3 weeks, was nowhere to be found. The first 10 minutes of “drying time” produced no great difference in the fabric, so I grabbed my hair dryer and started adding some heat of my own.

That did the trick and I was quickly back in my studio trying to figure out the next step. I felt that the cheesecloth needed something else added to it so I pulled out my felting tools and started adding bits of wool roving to the cheesecloth base……

After seeing that it was working well, I switched over to my felting machine which hasn’t been used in YEARS!!!

And, in a few short minutes, I had a wonderful piece of fabric to turn into a tree trunk…..

As I laid it out, I was super pleased with the result…..

Next I picked a background fabric and started thinking about how to add leaves to the piece. I knew that for perspective some of the leaves needed to be very small and fairly dark in color. After thinking about fusing leaves on I had the idea that stamping them would be easier!! I cut a leaf shape out of foam….

….and started stamping on a scrap of fabric, following lines that I had drawn in first. I was thrilled with the results…..

I drew in some tree branches with a Pigma ink pen and then stitched over some of them…..

I was extremely happy with how it looked after I placed the felted branches over the top…..

Now it is time to add the leaves that are in front of the branches and I guess that I need to insert the bird nest at some point!!!

More to come……

No Fishing

The latest challenge for our guild is called “Say It with Flowers”.  The rules are that the quilt has to have words of some sort on it and has to contain 3 flower fabrics.  At first I searched online for words or sayings to use and came up with things like “Be Creative” and other cutesy sayings.  None of them caught my fancy!!

Then, my computer screen saver popped up a photo that I had found in my Mom’s stuff.  It was a photo of an old Windmill that was on my parent’s property.

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The best part of the photo were the words “No Fishing”…..my search for inspiration was complete!!!

As I drew out the pattern I decided that I wanted a more “up-to-date” windmill, so I started out just working on the background first with the idea that I would add the windmill later.

I had originally planned to make the sky collage style using  a bunch of different fabrics, but when I saw this one, I decided just to make it easy, especially since I am on such a short time line.

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Next was to add the ground.  My initial attempt was good, but when I looked at it, I realized that good ole West Texas soil wouldn’t have that much green in it. 

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Michael agreed and I pulled all of it off and started over again……

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This is MUCH better.

As I started to work on the trees, I first cut them out of solid green fabrics, but again, when I looked at the photo, I realized that they were Mesquite trees and very wispy.   Mine were MUCH too solid.

Then I decided to try painting them and pulled out my trusty favorite sponge and started mixing green paints.  I didn’t really trust myself to paint directly onto the sky fabric so instead I cut pieces of the fabric out and ironed them to freezer paper that had the tree shape drawn on it……

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I was then able to cover the entire piece with paint without having to worry about the outlines…..

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Now I just had to cut it out!!IMG_2509

Now the background is complete and it was time to start on the Windmill.  I got online and started looking for photos of windmills that I might want to use.   I found this one…..

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…. but obviously something was missing!!!

After playing around with it a bit and trying to extend the legs, I came up with this…..

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It looked good but was a little TOO perfect..,…the one at my parent’s farm NEVER looked this good.

At this point I made the decision to build the windmill myself, using strips of fabric and just adding on as I wanted to….should be interesting!!!

It was a lot of fun putting all of the pieces together and trying to figure out where the shading needed to be.  I was excited when I stepped back from it and was able to see how it looked….IMG_2528

One thing that I have learned is to use a grey Fabrico marker to make the shadows.  

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It works perfectly!!!    I really need to buy a stack of this color since it is about the only one that I use!!

The next step was to do the mill itself….

I wanted a metallic looking fabric so started with a solid grey fabric and added a Lumiere pewter paint on top…..

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I then added a bit of black to the paint and sponged some more…..IMG_2538

I wanted the sail to look different from the blades so did the same thing but started with a  print fabric….

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I was so pleased with the final result…..

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The last step was adding some fussy cut flowers (from 4 different fabrics)….

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I had a wonderful time doing the quilting and trying to think what details needed to be added with thread.  I am happy with the final result….IMG_2547

If I was making it again, I would make the windmill base narrower and shorter.  I think that the proportion would look better.

Overall, the thing that I enjoyed most about this quilt was stepping outside of my box and trying painting the fabrics and just using the pattern as a guide and not as an exact pattern.   Both of these represent personal growth for me!!!

It was finished about 45 minutes before time to leave….one of these days I will finish a challenge quilt early, but don’ hold your breath!!