Monday, February 22, 2021

Taking Care of Our Fine Feathered Friends

We are a bird loving family and enjoy taking care of these sweet little feathered friends in the colder months, knowing that there isn't a lot of food for them to find.

We have lots of little plastic dishes of seed tied to the back railing on the deck and some on the front porch railing. We also have bird feeders around the yard. My son put these together...a log with giant holes (made with a very large drill bit), filled with peanut butter and seed. The nails serve as perches. 

Another way we feed them is to cut bread into small squares, fry it in lard and sprinkle with quick oats....They seem to gobble this right up. I used to watch my mom do this all the time during our very cold winters in NY...She would throw it on top of the snow and those that decided not to fly south for the winter got some warm nourishment.

We have one of our log feeders in the front...
 and a couple hanging off our deck. This is where we have the small dishes attached to the railing and we see a lot of birds eating from them....
so we hope they'll be brave enough to come to this log feeder. 
We also read somewhere that certain birds love oranges and apples so we hooked them onto several trees....
high enough for them to feel safe.
We've seen them nibbling at it...
They are so much fun to watch and we have such a variety of beautiful birds....It's also heartwarming to know we're helping them get through a cold winter. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Fabric and Images

I have this small piece of wonderful fabric...great imagery.... so I scanned it and put it in Photoshop Elements to see if it could be manipulated into something interesting for a silkscreen. I'm not sure of the copyright laws on scanning fabric even though you can use the fabric itself for commercial purposes....

so I will be careful to change the image considerably or just use it on my own personal art...not for sale. It was just a fun thing to try...I do love Photoshop Elements and the many different options and filters for manipulation of an image.

This was a filter "find the edges" which is one I use a lot...closest to the original image only in line form.
I don't remember this one but don't think it would make a good screen.
This is just the image itself turned into a black and white print....I would remove the "dust" before making it into a screen.
I think this was "wind" as it moved the image around...
And this filter was "twirl" and a great candidate for a screen as the image is completely changed and interesting.
Til Next Time....

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Where the Twig People Dwell

I recently finished a piece that's been sitting on my design wall for quite some time....
It uses a lot of different surface design techniques. I often create fabric and then stash it away and forget about it....
and then while thinking of a new piece, I usually find one piece that strikes me more than others and work around that, pulling from my design wall is covered with bits and pieces of everything until I start eliminating. The piece of fabric above is a brick wall with color changes and printed in Photoshop E. The printing is a silkscreen of a recipe from my grandmothers "home made" cookbook. Adding her writing keeps a little of my past in the present. Below left is an eco print of leaves done on silk and on the right is a silkscreen of trees from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

An organza overlay of a page from my mother's autograph book from the 1930s...
and my "twig people" - little people made out of twigs and made into a silkscreen. 
The twigs are one of my favorite silkscreens....
Time for quilting using a very thin batting.
And the finished piece...I could not for the life of me come up with a name...forests, trees, writing and twigs ....nothing worked and then the Aha moment...probably in the middle of the night...but it came to me none the less and I think it fits..."Where the Twig People Dwell".  I do think Twig people would most likely be found amongst the trees and leaves....Take a look and see if you can find time you're on a hike in the woods...
Til next time..Stay safe and happy!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses..

 like with this piece...which I really wanted to work. During my teaching career, one of the workshops I taught was "Bobbin Couching and Stumpwork" which involved working with heavy threads in the bobbin.This is a great technique when you want to use a heavy thread for texture but it's too heavy to fit through the eye of a needle. Winding it on the bobbin and working from the back so the heavy thread appears on the front is the way to go. Couching is the overall design you see in the center; the stumpwork is the heavy build-up of threads you see on the applique edges .The original sample looked a lot like this. When I finished teaching, the original was turned into a small wall hanging with an appliqu├ęd tree in the middle. It was part of an exhibit/sale at the NC Arboretum and did very well, especially since it embraced a nature theme which the arboretum encouraged.

The second piece (above) was the one I had set up to demo also appeared to be the beginnings of a nice piece or so I thought.
Instead of doing an applique of a tree, I thought to use a silkscreen. Now I should know better to always make a sample first, but I was in a hurry and took the shortcut which lead to poor results.
The paint I used is a fabric friendly paint which means it contains a special binder making it permanent on fabric. It's made by Speedball and very thick making it ideal for silk screening...You can see how dark, heavy and "globby" (new word) the image is. It has nothing to do with the paint itself...just the screen image was a poor choice.  I should have chosen something more delicate.....AND TESTED IT!

So here is my big mistake and I hope I learned a lesson to not be in such a hurry and do a little experimenting before diving into the final piece...So maybe I'll be able to get a few cards out of this...we'll see...
Have a great day and til next time.

Thursday, January 7, 2021


This is a new piece, very small that uses a wonderful technique created by Wen Redmond.

Basically, it uses 2 prints of the same photo - one on an opaque fabric and the other on a sheer fabric such as silk organza. The idea is to layer the 2 images with 3/4" of space between them....That is 
accomplished by using a pre-stretched canvas, cutting away the canvas part.  The outer wooden frame is covered with black felt or batting and the opaque print is attached to the back of the frame. But before it is attached, stitching or further embellishment can be done. I used a metallic thread which creates a pretty little sparkle underneath the top layer of organza. A staple gun was used to attach the opaque fabric to the back.
Next, the sheer fabric of the same print is applied to the front where the canvas was cut away. 
This is the tricky and perhaps most time consuming part. 4 strips of fabric are sewn around the edge of the sheer print, sewing in a little closer than the opening. Any fabric can be used for this; I used a black silk noil which has some body and a slight nubby texture. I used 1'2" seam allowance and treated the seams with Fray Check as organza frays easily.

The opening with the organza should be perfectly even when it is stretched over the top. The fabric frame should also be even all around from side to side and top to bottom. This part was tedious also as I used T-pins to hold the fabric in place and worked from top to bottom and side to side, alternating sides with each pin added. You can understand why working with a small frame is so advantageous. 

I also used safety pins as they didn't go as far down into the frame area but I had to find a way to lay this piece down (to flip it to the back) without disturbing the pins.
I found an empty bin I could lay the piece on top of, which imitated a flat surface and easy to maneuver around.

A tedious process....Once the fabric is wrapped round to the back and secured in place with an electric stapler, trim the edges of the frame fabric to within 1/2" of the staples. Cover the back (forgot to take a picture of this) with a pretty backing fabric

But the interesting..It almost has a blurred effect. This is because of the double image and being able to see through the sheer image to the opaque one. This is an 8x10" piece.
And here a view from the side in hopes of being able to see the layers. If you are interested in learning more about this Wen Redmond...she has a website, several books and probably some videos on You Tube...She's very talented and does a good job explaining how and showing the technique.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

I'm Calling It....

We weren't quite sure about a White many varying weather reports and living in the mountains makes it more unpredictable.....but we did have snow...not a tremendous amount but enough to call it a White Christmas. 
The mountain peaks are usually covered but not too much here...and along with the snow comes the cold...
and in this case, we were down into the teens....It's supposed to get warmer so we  can expect some melting which is good for the roads.
This is our vegetable garden (on right)...waiting patiently for some seedlings to pop through.
But it sure is pretty...
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas day...and however you chose to spend it.....I've heard a lot of unusual and creative ways for getting together.
We were alone but my daughter zoomed on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and afternoon so it helped a lot...but I really missed the hugs. I've heard that said over and over... missing the hugs...I guess we humans need that kind of fills our heart and soothes the medicine I know.
 As we approach the New Year, I wish you all peace, love and a new appreciation for what we have. May this be a good year for all of filled with many happy moments with people we care about and hugs....LOTS of hugs...Til next year....please be safe and healthy and 

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Moda Hearts and Feathers....DONE....FINALLY1

Those of you who have followed my blog, know I go on a retreat every year with my PTA fiber group...this is a project from years past. My friends Mary, Kate and I always do the same project so we can  swap fabric, compare notes and just have fun watching each other's progress. I might add, I ALWAYS finish last....Theirs have been done, hung or sold for years and after having had mine packed up and ready to quilt for SOOO many years, I ran out of excuses for finishing it. Not enough time, been out and about too much...just wasn't true so I dragged it out with semi-enthusiasm and got to work. 
 It's not that I dislike the quilt, I love the fabric...I just don't like working on large pieces...too hard for me to maneuver..I also love to do free motion work - especially feathers, but with a tremor in my hand, it does get jerky and my feathers can take on a pointed look...not very pretty.
But I was determined to have my way about this, pointy feathers or not. I used a very sheer non woven fabric (actually soil separator cloth from Home Depot) to draw the pattern onto, lay it over the quilt and with a blue marking pen, trace over the marked design which leaks through to the fabric. (More on this cloth later)
 I free motion quilt in a hoop, always worked the best for me and being able to hold onto the hoop gives my shaky hand some leverage.

 Oh and....The cloth I use for transferring is a "fabric like material" I happened onto in Home Depot. It's called soil separator cloth and used to line large pipes to prevent soil from seeping into the inside of the pipe.  It resembles pattern duplicating material but @ 1/10th the price. It's very sheer, non-woven and when you write on it with a blue marker, the markings seep through to the quilt underneath. 

So.... I am pleased that I stayed with it .....and finished it....and got my feathers ......and luckily, not too many pointy a happy ending.