Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Walk Through the Garden and Other Places

Every year we make our yearly trek to Painter's Nursery, a huge nursery in Old Fort, NC.  It opens for 5 months of the year - the rest of the time is spent getting ready for the season. We always go for the heirloom tomatoes, hard to find but wind up buying far more than a few tomato plants. To a gardener, this place is Paradise.

 The color is amazing.
 There are also outside gardens and tents with plants; we didn't even make it to the tents this year.
 So back home, everything is blooming, I'm sneezing but also loving the bright green "new growth" and gorgeous color.
 Our cherry tree is one of my favorite things.

 My son is an artist and loves garden art.  He found these logs, drilled out parts of them and planted grass in them - I love them.
 And some beautiful tulips - love the multi-colors.
 We are on 3 acres; my husband and son being gardeners would fill up every inch of dirt if I gave the okay. This garden is in the back, one of the prettiest because of all the spring flowers.
 There's even a little house my husband built to set in the middle.
And to save the best til last - our Bluebird house once again has a new family in it. It will be the first of several this year. We love watching them - no babies yet, but plenty of activity going on.
Happy Spring.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I'm Not Even as Smart as a Third Grader

My good friend Norma has been doing a special program for the third graders at Black Mountain Primary in Black Mountain, NC. Norma is an accomplished fiber artist but also very knowledgeable in Japanese culture and the art of flower arranging known as Ikebana. The 2 week program involved learning about Japan, their culture, quilts, costume and will end with an official tea ceremony. I was invited to come and spend a morning, meeting the kids and showing them some quilts.  What a great morning with such cute little people. They had such enthusiasm, energy and lots of smart genes. They were working on so many things and seemed to love every aspect of this wonderful unit.
A group quilt made up of individual blocks was sewn together - still more blocks to sew on but almost there.
They were very proud of their accomplishment.
They also worked on individual blocks which they will get to take home.
They used lots of wonderful color and many of the images found on Japanese quilts such as kites and flowers.
There were 3 group quilts in progress - children were asked to create images for these as well.
One of their favorite things was making yo-yos and used on this piece. Norma will finish the quilts with batting, backing and a binding.  Their imaginations and spontaneity were such fun to watch and be a part of.
There were also examples of Japanese kimonas, shoes and hats.
One little girl modeled for us - she looked adorable in this authentic kimona - a gift given to Norma.
I brought a number of quilts to show. One little boy asked me why it was so small and couldn't be used as a blanket which gave us the opportunity to talk about art quilts. The quilt is called "Japanese Beetles" and tells the story of when my cousin and I were young and given the job of removing all the beetles from the rose bushes.  We kept them in a jar and fed them rose petals and leaves. Unbeknownst to my mom and grandma (who shared the rose garden), we let them go each evening as we didn't want anything to happen to them...and would start the process all over the next day.
I also brought my "Shibori Tea Party" which was appropriate as it used the Japanese technique of Shibori to create the fabric used along the edge and made into teabags. I thought to bring a piece of PVC pipe, muslin and string to quickly show them how to wrap and create Shibori.
The kids thought it was cool that there was real tea inside the organza bags.  The quilts made by the Black Mountain Primary school will be on display at the NC Arboretum and Black Mountain Center for the Arts. It was a fun day and so much fun to hang out with such great kids.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

River's Edge - Done

I've had some good studio time these past several weeks and was able to finish or make a dent in some of my ongoing projects.  My purple and gold piece is done and now known as Leaves.  It was a challenge because most of the fabric was deconstructed screen printed fabric, which is fun but very busy.  Luckily I had made enough in the same color way so there was lots to work with.  The imagery was so busy, I played down the quilting so as not to overpower it.
The quilting was done using a monofilament on top and purple rayon on the back.  I also used these wonderful Microtex Sharp 60/8 needles. The needle hole barely shows.  When using a very fine thread such as a monofilament, it's a great combination.
Basically, I quilted around the shapes to give texture.
The rocks were fun to do; in the solid areas, I quilted a design.
I quilted the "vine" theme in the couple of blank areas I had.
The leaves were probably my favorite part. I just outlined them and did the veins inside.
And the finished piece.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Purple and Gold Study

I've been working on a piece which has been on my wall for months. Everyday, I walk in my studio, look at it, study it a while and then move onto something else. I'm using all deconstructive screen printed fabric which is very busy and hard to use.  I have a few hand dyes to quiet it down but for the most part, there's a lot going on in just the fabric.
 I like using purple and gold together; they are nice by themselves and make the prettiest brown when they touch and blend.  The above piece looked hopeless until I turned it over.
 This side was so much better and almost looked a bit like trees. I don't remember what I did to get this so it's definitely one of a kind.
 This piece of fabric used a sink mat with a stones pattern on it, along with mop strings and some confetti strands.
 This next piece used the same things, different amounts of dye color - mostly gold.
 I never know what I'm going to do with my prints and usually wind up making too little of one color way. Next time I do this, I will stick with the same colors throughout so I have lots of choices to work with.
 This next piece is one of my favorites - done on silk charmeuse; this will be a border.
 And here is the wonderful magical mat that made all those great rock shapes.
 purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
 I've also done some screen printing using a leaf shape.
 and some smaller leaf shapes.
And of course a tree - a very small part but works well with the rest of the fabric.
I'm still putting combinations together and we'll see what happens.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nature Center Inspiration

I had my 8 month old granddaughter visiting this past week and one of the things we did was to visit the Nature Center in Asheville.  It's been many years since I've been there and there are many more animals and walking paths, picnic areas - it was a wonderful day.
 All of the animals are native to this part of the country making it more personal and fun.
 Audrey was fascinated with the huge snake she tried to reach out and touch, oops except for that glass in the way.
 The cougars were among my favorite. Being a lover of cats, it was fun to see the big cats doing the same thing as my 4 domestic ones.

 And there are still lots of "winter trees" which I love with all the crazy configuration of branches.
My most fascinating time was with the wolves....all kinds - red, grey and white, and at one point they all set to howling, each kind of wolf had a different howl -  it was amazing. One of those moments you wish for but rarely happen. And so here is my inspiration - to photograph these beautiful animals through a chain linked fence or glass. I did both but when I did the glass, the trees behind me reflected on the glass and came through on the picture of the wolf I didn't realize this until I downloaded the photos. I love the "double exposure" kind of thing and am thinking I might want to do a quilt using this picture.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Windows I Redone - DONE!

I've had some time to work with my Windows piece - see last weeks post. I was never really happy with it - one of the things being the colors so I decided to change the color palette.  
Through the use of couching threads and paintsticks, I created a very different look.
I love using paintsticks and find that I use them more and more.
Sometimes just a touch applied with a very tiny stencil brush (around 1/4" in diameter) does the trick.  A little bit of gold and aqua were added to trees to help carry the new color theme throughout.
I also brushed a little bit of Lumiere textile paint across one of the fabrics for a little sparkle.
Then I had to decide where to put the borders - black on top or bottom.
Bottom won out.
I wrote on one of the fabrics with charcoal and since it was an art quilt, sprayed it with a fixative to make it permanent. The black border was an old Damask tablecloth which was dyed with a blue-ish black and worked well with the blues in this piece.

I stitched around the trees with monofilament and also gold thread to highlight it in places
and added a little writing on one of the borders.
So from this...
to this.....DONE!