Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Thread Brain: A Story

August 23, 2017

I was in the midst of creating small projects with odd scraps of aida cloth and embroidery floss when I was inspired by an article about the human brain. There was a simple line drawing of the brain in the magazine. “Self,” I said, “that would go well as a cross-stitch.” I charted a design on graph paper, then did the stitching, which was a first for me. There was room left on the scrap of aida cloth, so I stitched in the words Thread Brain. There was still room, so I added another line: A Story.

Now I have a title and cover art, but what comes after that? Since I have yet to come up with a story in words, I decided to continue a story in thread. I have lots of leftover floss, so I made a multi-colored field and stitched an outline of a brain.

There is room on this scrap of aida cloth, so I’m making another image, this time of the two hemispheres of the brain.

I have no idea where this will lead, but I’m keeping my fingers occupied and using up the odd bits and pieces that clutter my sewing room. That’s good enough for now.

Luck and wisdom!

The Felt-Melt Project: Before and After

August 16, 2017

The Progressive Party decided to play with felt melting after I showed them what I learned at Art Quilt Santa Fe. We all came with pieces ready to melt. Here are before shots of mine:

For these pieces, I sewed the patches on the felt with my quilting foot. That helped keep square patches square and round patches round. It also helped me with curved quilting grids.

The Dahlek patch on this piece comes from B. Coole Designs. She comes to the Caledonian Club of San Francisco Scottish Games every year, and every year I buy a handful of patches. Many of them are still in my “I’m going to use you someday, I promise” box. It seemed appropriate to use a Dahlek on a project that was going to be tormented.

This is the first piece where the felt to be melted was first attached to a small whole-cloth underquilt.

Now for the after photos:

You can see the lace-like effect of melting the felt when you hold this piece up to the light. I might hang it in a window, or attach it to a light fabric.

Just like a Dahlek, this piece was bound and determined to dominate me. I may leave it curled and crinkled, or I may try to include it in a different, non-quilted piece of art.

The felt took longer to melt, but the underquilt escaped without a single scorch mark. I attached eye-stems on the bottom for beading. I haven’t decided which beads I’ll use, so for the moment I’m enjoying being psuedo-steampunk with my metal fringe.

Luck and wisdom!

Additions to the Moose Collection

August 9, 2017

The family had a reunion in Montana this summer, and I found some nifty additions for my moose collection.

I found this cool moose ornament at the gift shop at Glacier National Park. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were designed by a quilter.

These socks were in the same gift shop. While it is far too hot to actually wear them, I can admire them. Now you can, too.

Luck and wisdom!

Quiet-time Activities

July 26, 2017

I’ve had a quiet week, not entirely by choice. I’m still fighting off some bug or other, and my creative energy level has suffered. Even reading was more of a chore than I wanted most days, so I pulled out my travel kits and did some cross-stitch. I’ve shown you this square:

Oriented to be Christmas ornaments

You may recall I couldn’t decide if this depicts Christmas ornaments or shooting stars. I decided to explore stars and came up with this:

A star chart, grid-style

The grid reminded me of plaid, so I made this:

Stars on point

After all that, I decided I liked the Christmas ornament idea, and made this:

Strings of lights

Keeping my hands busy helped me accept the fact that I need to rest until I’m entirely well. I can’t guarantee I won’t go stir-crazy if I don’t start feeling better soon, but for the moment I’m content to be creative with quiet-time activities.

Luck and wisdom!

Forward and Back

July 19, 2017

The family had a lovely reunion a couple of weeks ago. Knowing that the first week back from vacation is never entirely productive, I’ve made a habit of getting a project prepared before I leave so I’ll have something easy to work on when I return. That planning turned out to be more of a blessing than I expected, because I started feeling under the weather shortly after I returned home. The universe sometimes does that – the two steps forward, one step back thing – so I’m not going to complain (much) that my usual week of less-than-stellar productivity is stretching into two, maybe three.

Luckily for me, my back-from-vacation project was a baby quilt that has been languishing for about a year. Life got in the way when the top was pieced and the quilting part never happened. Now it has. Rather than anguish over a quilting pattern, I let the fabric tell me what it wanted. I also lucked out in finding a new spool of coppery thread that matched nothing but blended with everything. Then the universe really gave me a break and let me unearth a coppery fabric for the binding.

I think this will look great even cut into strips

This fabric has been hiding in the drawer for a long time, waiting for the perfect project. It isn’t alone. I have many fabrics, threads, and embellishments biding their time. While searching through my collections, I unearthed a doily that might go well with a fat quarter a friend gave me.

There isn’t enough contrast between the doily and the light fabric, I know, but I’ll solve that another day. For the moment, I’m going to accept that life, especially the creative life, is all about moving forward and rolling back. There are lessons to be learned in both directions.

Luck and wisdom!

Upgrades – Gift or Curse?

July 12, 2017

Some wretched app on my cell phone absolutely positively had to schedule an upgrade last week. My phone reacted poorly, and I lost all my photos, my Instagram connection, basically anything I actually use. Curses. The good news is once I accepted that I would be without a phone for a while I stopped thinking about it and began to appreciate the gift of time. The hours I  might have been on social media turned into a lovely period for handwork.

I finished the cross-stitch thistle that went off the rails a couple of weeks ago. Now that it is done, I’m actually quite pleased with it.

The next project-in-progress was inspired by some trees I saw on a family trip to Montana. The trunks were straight and tall. I started embroidering lines to represent them. I may or may not add the canopy after I’ve grown weary of laying down straight lines in varying widths. Someone asked what this piece was going to be, but I didn’t have an answer. For the moment, it is simply a bit of beauty to occupy my hands and entertain my eyes.

I still don’t know if upgrades are a gift or a curse. My current phone is toast, so until the new one arrives I’ll be living the unconnected life. At least I know that I can go back to the way life used to be if necessary.

Luck and wisdom!

Pink Elephants!

July 5, 2017

Pink elephants – need I say more? Alright, I will. I found a coloring book of animal designs. The elephant was fabulous. While considering what background to use, my eye fell on a piece of pink wool felt. I was determined to embroider myself a pink elephant. There was only one problem – transferring the pattern to the felt.

Who knew netting could become template material?

I decided to draw the elephant on some white netting, and transfer the pattern to the felt by going over the lines with a fine-tipped pen. Actually, I first thought of tracing the elephant on the netting and stitching through that on the felt, but the netting slipped around so much while inking the design that I abandoned that idea right away.

If you look carefully, you can see a fold of netting by the elephant’s ear

Choosing the thread posed its own problems. I have lots and lots of thread, floss, ribbon, whatever. In desperation, I chose a variegated thread for the outline and yellow for the tusks. I stitched those lines and let the piece sit for a couple of days until it told me what colors to use next.

This is the sort of project that could call itself finished more than once. I could have left off with the outline and tusks, but I did add some more stitching, then a piece of trim, then some beads. At the moment, this is where it stands.

Done until the elephant tells me it wants more stitching or beads

Luck and wisdom!

Cross-stitch For Those Who Can’t Count

June 28, 2017

I love cross-stitch, but I have the worst time following a pattern. Despite having a decent education, I can’t count with thread in my hands. I have the same problem with knitting and crochet, but since I have friends and family who knit and crochet beautifully I don’t mind not mastering those arts. Cross-stitch is different. I refuse to be beaten, even though I often am.

This pattern is beautiful, and as it happened I had floss in the appropriate colors. Don’t ask where it came from. One day I rummaged through my floss box and found several lengths of pink, green and brown tied together. Last week, I decided to give following a pattern another try.

Things started out well enough. I told myself this time would be different, this time I would get to the end of the project and every stitch would be in place.

Oh, how the universe laughed.

By the time I realized how far off the mark I had gone, I was too invested in the project to abandon it. That’s when I had an epiphany – the reason I love cross-stitch is that the pattern can be altered on the fly if one has the courage to seize the needle. So that’s what I did. I soldiered on, inserting colors where I wanted them, adding a leaf, adjusting the shape of the stalk. By the time I finished I almost regretted doing this project on a scrap of aida cloth with a nasty stain and a line of embroidery that refuses to reveal why it is there. Almost, but not entirely. I’ll cut around the design, maybe fill in the background with a cream or very pale green. It might end up on a card, in an art quilt, or on a tote bag. Wherever it goes, it will remind me that even for those who can’t count, cross-stitch can be fun.

Luck and wisdom!

Happy Solstice!

June 21, 2017

The sun is making itself known in these parts. The temperatures have been at or near triple digits for most of the week. While I am definitely solar-powered (if the sun isn’t up, neither am I), my productivity is restricted to a narrow range of temperature. Light, good; heat, bad. Also cold, bad – but that’s a story for another season. Basically, if it isn’t 72 degrees and gorgeous, I start whining. That is why my summer sun quilt block looks a little like a sci fi creation.

With the light come tentacles of heat

Still, any excuse for a celebration is okay with me. The summer fruit is lovely, and I have my Build-It-Yourself Stonehenge. This year, I added Godzilla.

Starting the summer with a stomp

Luck and wisdom!

When a Start = Success

June 14, 2017

I took a moment to celebrate Chocolate Ice Cream Day last week, hoping to calm my brain enough to do something creative. It worked. The next day, I had ideas for two small pieces. Yes, it’s only a start, but I’m counting it as a success.

I’ve been experimenting with sewing squares on acrylic felt, then melting the felt. This time, I thought I would lay down a grid of thread first, and put something on top of that. The dragon applique was just sitting there, so I stitched it over the grid.

This yellow fabric was on top of the scrap basket. I cut circles from it, and scattered them over the surface. There weren’t enough. “Self,” I said, “why not see if a circle of thread will work just as well as a circle of fabric.”

The next step was melting the felt with my craft heat gun. The dragon didn’t mind at all.

The yellow circles weren’t quite as pleased. I added a bead to make them feel better.

Here is the little circle of thread. It isn’t as noticeable as I expected. If I try this again, I’ll make the circle from parallel lines instead of one big meandering line.

Luck and wisdom!