Thursday, December 19, 2019

New Mystery Quilt done

     Alycia posted a new mystery quilt- A Winter Quilt Along, with each step supposedly taking one hour. Some of the steps were longer for me, especially since I had to do a lot of ripping as I sewed together parts wrong. Sometimes I am angle challenged, especially if the design is not symmetrical. 
     It started out with lots of HSTs. It was divided into three sections- top, bottom, middle. 
     The center section was last. When I laid it out, the center did not work for me. I thought the center should pull all the diagonals together and have some points, instead of a truncated star. 
Testing out the new design
     This meant I had to make more HSTs (half red, half blue) and leave off a few half red/white. 

Going to choose the red fabric
      I was happy with the result and choose the red fabric for a border. I won't be able to sew this on until after Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Christmas Card saga one more time

    Since I was 18, I have made Christmas cards every year. The number keeps creeping up, and every year I hold my breath to see if I can make it. This year I made 110. I don't like copies, so each one is handmade. I find people always love my cards and tell me so, but I can hardly ever sell a painting when I exhibit them. Hmm.
    This year, I experimented with Brusho, a watercolor crystal product, I saw demonstrated at a rubber stamp show in September. By the time I started this last week, I totally forgot the demos and had to reinvent the wheel. I used two Brusho blues sprinkled for the sky, a fine spray bottle, Arches cold press watercolor paper, a self carved stamp of an evergreen, brushes, kosher salt, white paint, and regular watercolor paint. The Brusho is a dye, so my fingers have been blue all week. 
Brusho skies
Skies with trees, ready for cropping
My mess, stamps, gelli plate, etc.

    I painted the skies in long strips, stamped and painted the trees, spattered paint and added shadows with a brush. Then I cut the strips into compositions for the cards. I bought A7 cards and envelopes with coupons from Joanns. 
     I printed out the poem I used for the inside (Longfellow's original "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day") on white paper, rubbed yellow/yellow orange pastel dust over it and glued it inside. Now I am writing a greeting in each one- the hardest thing for me to do. The out of town ones are mailed- I keep on writing in the rest.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sometimes dreams take a long time

     Back in the 80s, I tried repeatedly to become a published children's book illustrator. Because there was a cheap airline, I flew twice a year to NYC to see publishers and attend the Society of Children's book writers and illustrators. Learned a lot, met a lot of great illustrators, but the endeavor went nowhere. I gave up, ran a graphic design business and went back to school at 41 to earn a teaching certification and masters in K-12 art. I taught for 13 years, retiring due to chronic migraines and middle school.
     I embraced quilting again just before I retired, having put it aside for the above. I love making all quilts, but especially comfort quilts. Almost all quilts I make are given away many, to people in need of them, mostly by referral. Included here is the most recent giveaway, an original design done as a mystery for my guild and Alycia Quilts. Some people asked me what I include in quilt package, so here is a photo of the bag, book, card, pocket quilt, and quilt.
All washed and fluffed.
All the pieces. Bags were donated, I sew a pocket on the front.
Recipient fighting brain cancer who I have not met. I don't meet most of them.

     I could not find a suitable childrens book to include for chidren referrals, and extensively searched along with my neighbor, Sandra, who is a professional writer. She wrote a suitable script and asked me to illustrate. I explained to her the above and she was not deterred. As I back out of my driveway, I pass her bedroom window. She kept taping signs in it, like "Do the Book", "You can do it", "It is waiting for you", etc. She wore me down. Using my grandson as a model, I posed him according to what I saw in the text, took tons of photos, did lots of sketches, painted all the 11 x 14" watercolors over a year.

    You guessed it, we could find no one willing to publish. We had some hard covers self published printed to try and find a publisher. Cold silence. For years. 
     Last summer, a small publisher, 50/50 press, contacted us. They had received one of our hardcovers through a convoluted trail. Almost a year later, Amazon printed it. Not thrilled with how the paintings printed, but thrilled for it to be there. Later, Barnes and Noble picked it up. Last week, our local paper, the Ken Ton Bee, interviewed us. 
     Finally, I have a book to include with the quilt package and a book for others to share.
     My grandson was five when I started. He is nine, going to be 10 in March. How is that for a long delayed dream?

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Other creative pursuits

     It is the time for Christmas cards. Every year I make over 100, so the process cannot be too elaboarate for each card. It also makes it hard that people tell me how wonderful the last one was which puts pressure on me to top or equal it. I hate to be judged on my work.
     This year, I am experimenting with Brusho watercolor crystals, water spraying, carving a tree stamp, salt and white paint. I am not to the point where the cards are being produced. 100 cards is a lot of cards to make. I do not do copies or giclees as I like to give original work, thus I give myself headaches.
     Also, my granddaughter insisted that I make her a doll. I am 3D challenged and when sewing stuffed parts onto non-stuffed parts, I sweat and rip a lot. She would not relent, so we found a pattern online, and I ripped a lot. She says I am the best grandma ever. I will endure ripping and 3D trials for that. I could embroider the face fine, as that is not 3D dependent. Couldn't figure out the shoes.

Friday, November 29, 2019

O my stars swap

    I have not participated in a swap for a long time. The last time I started, I had a heart attack, so I thought when Barb put it out, I would go for it and do the modern blocks.  I don't like making the flying geese in the big square with little squares method, so I used my Easy Angle and Companion Angle ruler. I have made about 20 so far. After it dawned on me that I have a 2 1/2" triangle die. I am going to recut the rest of the triangles on it so I can be really, really precise. I will still use the Companion Angle for the white triangle and they are all cut. 
     I am also using the Acorn Precision piecing seam align glue I bought at a quilt show for Precision Piecing instead of pins or hanging on tight. Works terrific on the small pieces.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

All bricked in

     I finally finished the 2 x 4 quilt I call "Bricks". It is a fun and easy pattern. It can be found at  for free. I have made more than 1. This seemed perfect for a whole bunch of 2 1/2" batik strips I had cut up. The gray border is also batik. The binding is the stripe fabric I bought in Ohio a couple of weeks ago. Love those stripes. 
     My cat, the quilt assassin, was at it again when I laid the quilt out for photography, so I had to go outside. Luckily the weather was cooperative. His look says "I have no idea who dove into the quilt."  
      Quilted with Mocha Glide on top, DecoBob gray in the bobbin.


On the design wall inside
Back with label

Friday, November 22, 2019

A class in Stars

     Over 3 years ago, I booked the teacher, Debbie Thomas- a cerified Studio 180 instructor, to teach at our guild. I chose the Tucker Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star, because I thought the stars could be used in a myriad of ways in all kinds of sizes instead of a one project workshop. Before the workshop, we had to cut all the strips. There were a lot of strips in lots of sizes. We had strips for stars 3" through 12". There was plenty to do in the all day workshop that there is no time to cut strips. Debbie was an excellent teacher and helped us all get those stars made.
All packed up

I highly recommend this tool if you want exact star points easily with strip and chain piecing and NO paper piecing. These are the 3", 6" and 12" stars. Love the colors, love the batik I chose. Now to finish all the other strips. I even bought a sheet on how to fussy cut the stars.
Our guild class

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Very quick trip

     A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I did a quick overnight trip to Berlin, Ohio to look at wood and fabric and the awesome scenery. We are not going again in November because we hit wet, heavy snow from Erie to Akron on the way down, the days are too short and thus it is dark way too fast in Amish country, and the ride back was in the dark and, again, some snow from Erie to Angola, NY along Interstate 90 (or the 90 as we call it in NY). 
    Despite the conditions, the land is so beautiful. We stayed at an Amish B&B and it had a room that I chose, called The Quilters Room. It had a treadle, decorations, quilts, a quilt wallpaper border and neat little wood houses and shops displayed. The B&B was on a big hill, so I was able to take some phenomenal photos from there. Beautiful landscapes get me all the time.

If anyone knows where to buy these little houses, let me know. None in giftshops there, just China junk.

The start of the road up the hill.
Near the top of the road. A real treat coming back at night from dinner with no lights at all.
    We went to Keim Lumber in Charm, where my husband drools more than me in a fabric store. I went to Millers in Charm and Zinck's in Berlin where I found some things I could use.
The stripes are for binding, the black and white for a block exchange, and the others, because. I did not get a shot of the RWB fabric I bought at Zinck's before I cut it up for the Mystery Quilt by Alycia.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A view from the opposite side

     The other side being Canada, just across from the photos I took last time from Fort Niagara. Last week Tuesday sounded like the last nice day for a long while, so my husband and I drove across to Canada and biked around Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of my favorite spots ever. The little town, founded in 1792, is so charming. It was just gorgeous that day. I was able to photograph the Fort from the Canada side and walk through the little park that has my lovely gazebo. So fortunate to do this. On Thursday, 60 mile an hour winds whipped through our area and ripped off all our beautiful fall leaves, so enjoy them here.
Looking through the yards of NOTL across the Niagara River to Fort Niagara, NY
 Fort Niagara that we toured a couple of weeks ago. Niagara River in front, Lake Ontario to the left and rear
Part of the Park
Part of the Park just an hour later
Right over the ridge is the River and then the American side

My favorite little gazebo. The equipment is fixing shoreline erosion caused by record high Lake Ontario waters that backspill into the Niagara River.

On the River shore of the Park. Great question, right?