Thursday, June 30, 2011

Play Ball!!

We've always been "Atlanta Braves" fans, having lived in Atlanta for 16 years. When my daughter was on swim team, the booster club used to work one of the concession stands at the Fulton stadium to make money for the team. Often we could see the players practicing on the field. We started at 3 in the afternoon and didn't get home until 1 am - lots of energy in those days, but good memories. My daughter and her husband Adam still live in Atlanta and love going to the games, often get complimentary tickets and sometimes right behind home plate. 
But it gets even more better! This week, Adam brought home 4 tickets to the game and was asked to "throw out the first pitch" of the game! How cool is that!
So we have our DVR set for sunday's game, we'll be watching but also recording to watch over and over - we are all excited!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Boiling or Steaming?

In this season of sun and fun, fishing, clambakes etc. you might get the impression (by the title of the blog) that this has something to do with cooking lobster, crabs or something along those lines. Not so,  this is all about silk.
I'm getting ready for the Southern Highland Craft Fair and have been dyeing silk scarves. I use acid dyes which will only work on a protein fibers and give (in my humble opinion) the best color. The silk is boiled in a designated pot with the dye and an acid such as vinegar or citric acid crystals; both work very well. My friend Nancy shared with me another way of getting color on silk. Through her constant experimenting, she came up with a wonderful process which involves steaming. They both give different results, it was mind boggling. I didn't realize it until I started comparing results using the same type of silk and same color dye - one boiled and one steamed. Some colors are better steamed, some really need to be boiled. The ones of the left in each photo have been steamed - same color on right but boiled.
I've always been a sample maker; it helps me down the road when I need a certain color and I like BIG samples I can really see. This is one of my favorites. On the right is "Country Green" and love the results of being boiled - a little washed out when steamed.
As I'm doing the scarves in a wide range of colors, I'm throwing in a small piece of silk to keep as a sample.
I love "Golden Pear" in both the steamed and boiled version. Some of the colors split (below) such as in Golden Pear where the dye actually breaks off into more than one color.
I scrunch the silk into old, used and clean pantyhose which produces a mottled effect.
Sometimes it's hard to believe you used the same color dye for both samples such as seen below.
I think it's really fun to see the difference in the 2 processes; I love both these samples;  it's like getting 2 colors for the price of one.
And this one - 2 totally different colors from the same dye color.

And this last one - Pink Sand, loved both.
Been lots of fun experimenting, getting lots done and learning a lot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pigs, Dancers and Beautiful Gardens

You might wonder what a pig, some dancers and beautiful gardens all have in common! They were all part of a wonderful day hosted by our friends Debbie and Joel. Well maybe not so wonderful for the pig - he was the barbeque part, all 119 pounds of him. I've never seen a whole roasted pig but Wally, the magnificent chef did a very discreet and excellent job of turning this into pulled pork.

The barbeque was to honor the dance troupe Terpsicorps that pays a visit to Asheville once a year. The dancers come from all over, some are already dancing professionally, some are still in school studying dance. They are all excellent, in wonderful shape and as Debbie says, you can always spot them as they'll be standing in some "dance postition" without even realizing they're doing so.
Debbie (our hostess) makes beautiful quilts but has taken a break to tend her gardens. She keeps her machine under the watchful eye of her furry friend.
The gardens are magnificent; we were first welcomed by some very friendly frogs....
and not to be outdone by some very "smart" rocks.

and a more "comfortable than it looks" bench.
At one point we found a very lazy bear.
and sleepy rabbit.
And always surrounded by butterflies....

And the gardens, they took our breath away
with all the natural stone.
and terracing

There's nothing like beautiful rocks to set off colorful flowers.

I think if I were a frog, bear, rabbit, bench, butterfly or rock (smart or not) I would want to hang out here also.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Larkspur and Peaches

Our Larkspur are nearing the end of their season for blooming and what fun they've been. They reseed themselves easily and the birds are happy to spread the seeds from one garden to the next. We are finding more and more plants each year - letting the birds and wind have their way.
There are 3 luscious colors that I know of - deep purple, dark pink and pale pink - all glorious.
Aren't these yummy?

A word about peaches - I wish I had taken a picture. When I was little, peaches were my favorite, sweet and so juicy, you ate them over a sink or you would run the risk of juice pouring down your arm. As a kid, you didn't care. I still love peaches; while at the Farmer's Market in Asheville we bought a couple of small containers, brought them home, once again hopeful - we tasted peaches like the ones from years ago. So yesterday, we went back and bought a huge basketful - so heavy we had to weigh them out of curiosity - 23 pounds worth. Now you might ask what I plan to do with all those peaches and I would have to say - I have no clue! Just nice knowing they're there!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quilt Garden

My daughter Jill has been visiting all week, it's been a whirlwind of bopping around, eating out etc - so much fun and now today is "catch-up" day. One of the things we did was to go to the NC Arboretum, an amazing treasure we are lucky to have right here in Asheville.
I'm always fascinated by their quilt garden. I couldn't get up high enough to get a good picture but you get the idea. Flowers arranged to create a patchwork pattern.

It's really wonderful in person and great fun to see.
Another favorite of mine is the Bonsai exhibit, on display year round. I don't know much about Bonsais but they are fascinating to see in person.

Many of the pieces had more than 1 Bonsai, like a forest which was super interesting.

And I loved this one with all the heavy vines; reminded us all of the Tarzan movies.
It was a great day but now it's back to the drawing board and reality. I'm getting ready for the Southern Highland Guild Fair in July, and working on a new piece for a challenge I'm in. Lots to do - will be up to my elbows in dyes today.
Hope you're having a great weekend.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shady Ladies - Amazing Ladies (Once Again!!)

The Shady Ladies of Waynesville has their annual quilt show going on this weekend at Lake Logan retreat center. The group, founded by Jane Cole and Wendy Bowen meets weekly to work on projects, learn new things, brainstorm, socialize and enjoy each others latest accomplishments. The talent from this group is amazing. They wow me each year with their latest quilts and their annual challenge which is always so interesting and unique. This year, the Ladies were to use a photograph they took themselves and interpret it into fabric. The size limitation was 20 x 30 give or take and they couldn't use photo transfers in their piece. Following are some of the photos followed by the piece inspired by the photo. "Growth Rings" by Wendy Bowen....
became this.

Chris Regina took this photo and made it into
"The Myrtles"

Sally Pollock created "Willemstad" from this photo.

The "Centenarians" by Wendy Bowen was wonderful.  The shading was done using layers of tulle, sometimes 1 layer and sometimes 2 or was so effective!

Plum Blossoms by Jane Cole was a beautiful piece as is everything Jane does.

This is just a small sampling of the wonderful quilts you'll see if you drop by.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Deconstructed Screenprinting with the Fiber Junkies

Our Fiber Junkies group met again yesterday for another round of Deconstructive Screenprinting. We work in Vals garage and depend on hot weather to dry the screens quickly. We certainly had the hot weather - think it hit 90, but the screens dried in minutes giving us a chance to do lots of printing.
We started with all sorts of wonderful things to create texture - things such as cardboard, plastic and iron grids, rick rack, plastic doilies, shredded paper, texture plates - Anything goes as long as it's 1/4"thick or less. You start to view the world differently along with strange looks from people who see you collecting and getting excited over the craziest things!
I love using live plants such as the fern seen below.
Mary cut some circles out of textured cardboard and also used some spikey plant leaves.
A blank screen is placed over the textured items and a thickened dye is "squeeged" over the top, creating lots of texture on the screen as you go along.
After letting the screen dry, a clear print paste mixture is squeeged over the top of the screen which has been placed on soda ash treated fabric. The paste mix loosens the dye to release it on the fabric.
And here are some of Mary's - Every time we do this, there is always a "favorite" texture item, think this time, it was the round iron grid - It's very cool!

As you swipe each print (a screen will give you 3-4 prints), each one changes depending on the amount of dye that is released onto the fabric.
And each one is a little different than the one before, but work together and so interesting.
I did a set of 4 using blue dye. The first print is always my least favorite as it releases a minimum amount of dye and sometimes too much white is showing.
That wonderful "spikey" shape on the bottom was a piece of cardboard which was used as packing material for something round.
This is the third printing - a little darker.
And the last one which has too much dye and not enough white areas.
Stay tuned for our lunch in the treetops, great dessert and a wonderful show and tell.