Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Sunny Saturday Walk

Saturday was the most delightfully beautiful fall day one can imagine. My friend and I had planned a day together working on our blogs, our photo manipulation skills and just generally, computer art exploration done together. We had tea and with our lap tops side by side, we shared what we knew how to do (mostly her telling me), and made adjustments to our photos and discovered how to cut and collage within an on-line program. We got so enthused about what we’d learned and what a beautiful day it was that we decided to go for a walk and take pictures to come back and play with some more!  Here is a link to Angela's presentation:

Off we go marching down the middle of a country road taking photographs of trees with canopies of glorious color, leaves trying to outdo one another with their brilliance, rose hips red with their ripened blush, broken glass shimmering in the sun, a manhole someone has painted blue, and of all things, fire hydrants all in a row at the fire station. We ended up at a coffee shop, had a great cup and a great visit, and then walked back again, taking more pictures along the way. Here’s a small sample of what we saw and what we did with it. This is the short slide show I put together:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mortality & Reality

The past week was one that reminded me every day of our mortality. The first day of the week we heard that one of our teachers has passed away. He retired 2 months ago and deserved far more freedom than two months. Still reeling from that news, I received a phone call from my son to tell me that a friend of his has been diagnosed HIV positive. And still disturbed by that news, I’m told of the death of a young person from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Such sad situations for young people and such a loss of a good man in the teacher. To make these situations even more thought provoking, all this is happening at a time which has often through the years, had the school in a state of shock with the loss of one of our students, usually in car accidents.

All this got me to thinking of how none of us thinks it will happen to us today, and of course it seldom does, but all this in one week did make me meditate on the blessings in my own family, the friends I have, the part of the world I live in, and my more often than not, normal daily life!

The photo attached is of a life size metal tree. It was started by one of our students. But before it was finished, he was killed in a car accident. Between the metalwork teacher and his girlfriend, it was completed and installed in the school courtyard as a memorial. At first it was all silver, freshly welded and shiny and didn’t really look very natural. But with time, it has weathered, rusted, mellowed and begun to fit beautifully into its environment, becoming a warm tribute to the student who began the project. I would imagine the pain of loss for the family members will do the same eventually, but I think it’s thought-provoking how this school art project keeps this student in our minds just as much as the memorials on the side of the roads in our area, but in a much more positive and pleasant way. Instead of remembering only the tragedy, we remember what he was like and what he enjoyed. I hope someday my art will serve the same purpose for those I leave behind.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Contemplating Autumn

This is looking up into the Deborah Maple in our back yard. Isn't it spectacular? This picture, taken today, belies yesterday altogether.

This weekend started out to be a typical West Coast kind of weekend. Saturday was the type of day that prompted my Dad, when I put sunglasses on for a snowy day walk in Edmonton, to say "Your eyes have grown dim from peering through the fog." Dad will be 94 this year. At the time, I laughed, but yesterday we were indeed peering through the fog and sunglasses were just something that needed wipers! It was rainy, windy, drizzly, dreary and totally designed for staying inside.....everything that everyone hears about for winter on Vancouver Island and accuses us of being waterlogged or in denial.

I spent the day with a friend in my studio, designing the cover page for a fabric tome, using the patterns designed by Patti Culea.
We had a totally pleasant time snipping and designing and sharing ideas. Joan's tome is going to have an African theme. Joan works with Kitambaa designs (note their blog in my favorites list) and goes to Africa once a year to teach women how to sew in order to support themselves. She has been deeply touched by all she has seen and done there.

My tome is going to be a theme of "Me, Myself & I". Sounds a little narcissistic but my intentions are not at all. I just like to design around the human figure so this gives me the chance to get lots of faces and bodies into the design. The entire project is designed to put various techniques to use. We started it FOUR years ago and never kept it up. We've decided we're going to try to meet every second Saturday and get this one completed.

Now this unbelievable picture, is the Half Moon Maple in our yard. It is also exactly what you see and definitely not touched up in any way. This tree is a favorite of ours, and has lived with us at three different houses now. It started out as a large bonsai, in a pot, but got to heavy and wasn't doing well, so we planted it. I think it likes it's new home! It is lime green in spring, bright green in the summer, has a wonderful round leaf and then gifts us with this in the fall.

And then there was today. Bright, sunny, warm, towels and sheets drying on the line outside and the colors......I could not resist the urge to go outside to take pictures of the colors in the middle of laundry and house keeping! These pictures are of the trees in my yard, and they are not touched up, adjusted or fixed in any way. So just imagine, if this is the color in my own little corner of the world, imagine what I see when I look up and out to the rest of the neighborhood and beyond to the mountains. It is truly spectacular and I'm certainly not peering.

But, if this isn't a quilt from nature waiting to happen, I don't know what would be!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bookmark Exchange

Last summer I signed up with the online Stargaze Tome group to do a bookmark exchange. We were in groups of five, so would make five bookmarks, send out four and get four back, making a collection of five. The theme was Art Deco/Art Nouveau and the deadline was September 15. Lots of time thinks I!

However, back to work September 8 and a hectic first month of school put me behind yet again. I received the four bookmarks from the other participants in my group, they are stunning. And today, I have lots to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend, because I finished mine and will be mailing them out to the four patient participants in my group. Here's a picture of what they'll be getting.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Promotional Sample for Publisher

This story is a typical example of what procrastination and over booking oneself can cause. And by the way, these are two habits of mine that I'm consistently trying to change and haven't succeeded yet!

My book which was published with C&T was released in April....April Fool's Day to be exact. My family and friends got a chuckle out of the appropriateness of that date! Things have been going well regarding the book as I've had speaking engagements, and classes to teach as a result. More to do! And these have to be timed around my day job, in an office at a high school! However, this a part of my "retirement plans" so I'm working on it.

One day I got an email from a representative at C&T asking me if I would mind producing another sample for them to make a big promotion to a new customer in book sales. I said I'd be happy to do that. I was instructed to gear the new project towards the main function of the customer, pictures and framing.

So I pondered for quite some time about what I could do that would be suitable for this presentation. I landed on the idea of using one of my pieces of painted fabric. I was going to quilt it, and make a wall hanging. Then I decided to quilt it and then cut it into three and mount the little pieces as quilts. And THEN I decided to get my husband to make little box frames to mount them on.

As I worked away on the quilting of the painted flower, my darling, who is not known for his fine woodwork capabilities, struggled away in his shop trying to envision what I had tried to describe. I got so frustrated trying to explain it to him that I gave up and said "forget it, I'll make them little quilts to hang together. That will be easier to ship anyways". I continued quilting.

One day that week I came home from work and was presented with one wooden frame, which was exactly what I wanted! I was thrilled and he was so pleased about that. He promised to make the other two frames to my size specifications that week. I looked forward to the weekend when I would mount the quilts and send them off to C&T.

But it didn't happen the way it should. Work and life got in the way and I had to write to C&T to ask if I should continue or if I could have an extended deadline. They, as always, were wonderful and had of course, built in a buffer zone for people like me. I was granted an extension.

When the weekend finally arrived where I would be able to complete the project I was so happy. I mounted both small pieces on the little frames and was ecstatic with how they looked. I added beads to represent seeds at the center and all was well. About that time, my sweetie came into my studio to see how I was doing. I was bouncing around being happy and excited because the "plan was coming together". We chatted while I laid the biggest frame down on the back of the quilted piece. Without a second thought, I marked it and cut the trimmings away. I turned them over to center the piece on the frame and lo and behold.....I had cut to the INSIDE of the frame. Husband offered to make a new frame but I refused as a new size wouldn't fit with the other two. He carefully snuck out of the room and left me to my conundrum.

I pondered a variety of "fixes". In the end I decided to stitch the pieces back on, with piping in the seam as an accent to cover the error. This worked, except for the fact that I had not centered the frame on the piece, I had centered it on the best area of the design. So now the pieces put back on were three different widths...only by a fraction, but to me it was obvious. I was distraught. I scrounged through my stash for something to add to the project to save it. I found some sparkly black ribbon, and when laid out over the seams, it went well with the big black beads I put in the centers. So I cut the ribbon and glued it down over the seams, and then down and around the two outer edges of the smaller pieces as well.
I was not thrilled with the result as I knew there was a flaw in it. But when my friend came over to look at it she said that she thought it was better than to start because the black made the flower more masculine, therefore appealing to a wider market. I hadn't thought of that concept and time was up, so I mailed it away to C&T in California. When it arrived there, I got an email that said "Your masterpiece just arrived! AWESOME, you ROCK!" But the guy who really rocks is my husband, who in times of stress can really pull through. He had to reduce the size of the third frame to allow for the seam allowance I had taken up with my mistake, and he did without ONE comment!

OK!!! I guess I got through that one with my reputation intact....the question is which reputation!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Enjoying my Studio for Thanksgiving

It's Friday! TGIF. A long week to say the least. But now I have three days to spend in my studio. I have done my sewing in many situations.....a corner of the bedroom, the dining room table, the master bedroom in a small house while we slept in one of the small rooms, and now, in this room. I feel I've died and gone to heaven. BUT....there's a lesson learned. Your studio is NEVER going to be big enough. When you get a bigger room to work in, you also collect more stuff to work on. Here is a photograph of my sewing room "cleaned up". How often do you think it looks like this? Nobody I know would recognize it! But now the picture is here for posterity to prove that I actually did clean it up once!

Behind those "design walls" is my fabric stash. They slide sideways and I can access my fabrics, sorted by colors. I thought I'd just show you where I work! At the side is a china cabinet my husband bought at a garage sale for $50. It was brown and horrible looking and to top it off, smelled as if it had been in a house fire. Our son told us to paint it with "Kilz" and then paint it the color we wanted and it would be fine. We did, and it looks wonderful against the side wall. It holds all my wool. It's really a delightful room, especially in the morning sun. And this is where all the projects in "Embellishing with Everything" were created.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fabric Christmas Cards

Since the release of my book, “Embellishing with Anything” through C&T Publishing, I have been asked to teach a variety of classes at quilt shops on Vancouver Island, as well as to do trunk shows. This is a lot of fun and I love the people I meet at these events.

I have an upcoming class in Nanaimo, to teach a Christmas card I designed. This card is created using the technique for the cover project in my book. Only the colors have been changed from the Cherry Tree bark and pink flowers, to a more wintry shade of pale blue with beads and sequins added to represent ice and snow. It was fun making these.

If any of the students who were in the Gingko Leaf class (the project photo at the top of my blog) are in this one too, I know it will be a totally delightful day. That class was two Saturday’s ago and my students were such a great bunch. I was sorry to have to go home! And the best part? When I got home, unpacked my supplies and was putting them away, I found a set of three pieces of fabric that one of the students had snuck into my case. I had admired her fabric and the results and she chose to gift me with some of each one so that I can use it in my own work. What a lovely surprise….Thank you so much Dian!!!!

Painting a Garbage Can!

Now, I have a son who is a bit “out there”. He knows I feel that way about him so if he reads this, he’ll just chuckle. He has such a heart-warming chuckle. But to the reason I write about him…..he has three children of his own, and took in an extra four teen-age boys when their father passed away 3 years ago. That increased his family size to 9. Needless to say, some renovations to their house were made necessary.

One of those renos was to take out a wall between the kitchen/dining/living room areas, and install an island in the kitchen. The top of that island has an extended round end, and it is built to accommodate a full size garbage can, right in the middle of his kitchen! Have I mentioned that I think his wife is a saint? We had a good laugh when I said “Of all the decorating shows I watch, I have never seen any of the designers incorporate a full size garbage can!” He assured me they would if they lived with this many people and had to take a full bag to the curb daily.

For his birthday, my friend Ang and I got together and painted a garbage can. I mean, if it’s going to be a focal point in his home, it should look good don’t you think? We had so much fun painting it. The design is copied from a pasta set I have. It’s bright and cheerful and I can’t wait to give it to him.

Ang took pictures on the day we worked on it, a delightful Saturday, and has created a little slide show of the progress. The picture below is the finished project, with faces on and details added.

To view Angela's photo album: "fat chef weekend" Copy and paste this into your address bar:

To do this we spray painted the garbage can (a plastic one) with paint designed for plastic lawn chairs. From there we sketched the outlines with chalk, using the pasta set as a reference. (It should be pointed out somewhere here that he loves pasta). With that done we began filling in the colors and details. When it was done, we let the acrylic paints dry, and then added the faces and ties on their aprons with Sharpie markers in brown and black. With that done, the entire project was finished with two coats of spray acrylic varnish.

I am looking forward to delivering it to his home and hearing his response to our artwork!