Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Portrait Phase

One of the things I was really impressed with at the SEPS reception was the beautiful portraits that were included in the show.  The best of show was stunning.  So when I came home I had an itch to try a pastel portrait.

I am over it now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Highest Priority UFO's...

Mom has been cleaning and organizing her sewing rooms (yes, multiple spaces!) so I have been inspired to update my UFO list.  This is not actually the WHOLE list- last I checked there were almost 40 projects on there- but these qualify as the ones most likely to get worked on in the next year or so.

I keep my photos of the quilts I am working on tacked to a cork board in the sewing room.  I had tried keeping a written list, but kept forgetting what I had named the different quilts.  Some of them ended up with a couple of names.  And let's face it- a picture in my face is much more likely to get me to work on something than a list written on a piece of paper.

The quilts on the left are completed tops that have been sent off to mom for quilting.  From conversations we have had, I think I have a shot at getting her to work on the top two but it doesn't sound like she is to excited about the bottom half of the list.  Maybe I have sent her too many?  It's not like she wants to work on her own quilts or anything....  I may end up going home and quilting these myself.

The next dozen are the ones that are probably most likely to be worked on...

1.  Sierra- the red tail hawk which you have all seen.
2.  Long Road Home- a Bonnie Blue quilt stitched by Karen G which needs binding and a label.
3.  Ladies of the Sea-  a Susan Garman pattern which is more applique of pirate ships
4. Granite Family quilt- my dad's family was involved in the granite industry in the northeast.  I have designed a couple of blocks for this potential quilt.  The Babcock Smith Museum put out a book (and the newspaper ran stories) about the granite industry which I found quite interesting. 
5.  Chocolate Stars-  kit purchased at the Dallas Quilt Show.
6. Crossroads- another Bonnie Blue quilt. (Karen G, you are a BAD influence!)
7. Streak of Lightning- from an old Fons & Porter magazine.
8.  Mini quilt I started a couple of years ago when the amazing lady that was making the compass rose quilts won in Dallas.
9. The original background for that #2 quilt in mom's pile was supposed to be this red and black combo.  I changed out the colors, but didn't want to waste the already sewn together half square triangles so bought this stack of beiges to go with them. (Right, like they would go to waste!)
10. Series of 4 "The Moon and Me" tops which are 8 X 10 each.
11.  Poinsettia Quilt Basket- Karen England paper piecing pattern.
12. The Unblue Too.

I think that you should know that even if I win the lottery tomorrow there is no way I will get all of the quilts on my list done before I die.... and I am still planning on living 'til I am 100 years old.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Red Tail Hawk

My light bulb moment this week happened when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get the quilt I am working on done by the time for the St. Augustine Members show submission.

I'm not sure what is wrong with me- these hand crafted quilts take a lot of time.  I can put together a section the size of the palm of your hand in about 7-8 hours.  Which means they take forever.  I'm not sure why I can't remember that when I am not working on one....  but I have been working on this for a couple of months now and it is nowhere near ready to quilt.

Anyway, for those of you that follow along on these bird quilts.... this is the largest one so far.  The photo was taken at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center in Texas at one of their First Saturday events.  They have always been of great help in getting some fantastic photos of the birds and are doing a great job with the facility and park. There are some really wonderful people volunteering out there.  The Raptor Center was not very far from my old house and I miss going to see them.  Guess I will have to see if they have any raptor rehabbers around Jacksonville who will put up with me...

I had the photo blown up to 22 X 40 in black and white at a copy shop. This is my pattern.  I usually build the birds up out of a bunch of different sections, then assemble all of the sections later.  The sections are typically divided up where the natural breaks of the body occur.  I got a new little light pad that is working wonderfully- it is about 12 X 14 and half an inch thick.  I first draw on the pattern with a black pen and decide where all the pieces will be.  Sometimes this is a trick, as there are blurred sections or places where the feathers are fuzzy. When I get done, it looks like a giant puzzle.   Next I put the light box under the pattern and trace the section I am going to work on onto a piece of plain white paper.  This is the pattern that I will use to assemble the section with.  It is much smaller and easier to deal with than the gigantic photo pattern.

Using the little pattern section, I trace the section on a piece of freezer paper with the shiny side up.  The slick side is sometimes hard to draw on- I have a mechanical pencil that I like to use for this.  When I get all the section on the freezer paper, then I cut it out.  These are the pieces that I will use for my piecing.

Now comes the hard part- the selecting of the colors.  I'm not sure how Sierra behaves in real life, but as a quilt she is a most difficult bird.  I had spent several weekends dyeing fabric with all kinds of stripes on it in order to have the different colors of striped feathers available.  I did all this work on several sections of her body and wing and then decided that it was completely overwhelming.  She looked like a man in a plaid suit.  So I ripped it all apart and started over again.  The only striped fabrics I have kept in so far have been the dark stripes for those striking feathers in the middle of her wing (which are coverts, I think).

When I finally pick out the fabric, I iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to the fabric.  Then I cut it out about 1/4" from the edge of the paper.  I clip any curves and paint the edges with liquid starch.  I use a Clover ironing tool to iron the edges over the piece of paper.  I then place the fabric covered pieces on the white paper pattern and secure them in the correct location with masking tape.  Then I sew them together.

This is my small pattern and some of the assembled feathers. This is the dyed fabric I kept...

The other section of the top of the wing.

Underneath the wing- you can see all of the freezer paper before I take it out.  (Note:  if you try this technique, be sure that you do not take out any of the edge pieces until it is sewn on to the background!)

These are not sewn together yet, but you can see the wing taking shape.

This was a piece of the original wing which I scrapped after I put all the stripy pieces together.  
Also my reference photo- Sierra is a spectacular bird and Erich was very helpful in getting her to pose for me.

Today I have been assembling Sierra's body- here she is with the wing sections placed in the correct locations.  Not sure I like the beige yellow striped feathers at the bottom of her wing or the couple of stripes up near the dark spine of the wing.  Those may be coming out too.  But she is a beautiful bird!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rainbow of Colors

What a heinous job!  You'd hardly think it would take someone who loves color so much three days to get all their colors sorted out....  But I finally mashed all of them into either the studio box or the plein air box.  Time to paint!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pastel Weekend

This past weekend was filled with pastel drawing events... the First Coast Pastel Society had a lovely little demo of Andy Kenyon showing us his pastel techniques on Saturday.  I have to tell you I am completely impressed- drawing adult people is bad enough, anyone who can draw a lifelike child (one that doesn't look like a potato) is amazing to me.  Andy does some amazing drawings which you can see here Andy Kenyon's Children Portraits.  

Sunday was our first members show- we had a great time. I think it would have been terribly funny to see this great figure painter judging all of our landscape pictures.  Everyone in the show did a fantastic job- it was really cool to see pictures that everyone had spent some time on.  Usually I only see pictures that we have been outside drawing for a couple of hours.  You can see the show on the blog for the First Coast Pastel Society along with all the results. Oh, and special thanks to all of you that did all the planning and execution, too!

All of which puts me in the mood to keep pursing my latest project.

Last week I spent a lot of time on the phone with my consultant as I built a studio box to contain all my pastels.  I have mostly Unison which I started out with in my Heilman box, but all the others brands I have been accumulating are still piled around in their original packaging.  I think the box turned out great- Dad gave me some really good tips for putting it together (and can I say I have upped my assessment of his carpentry skills!)  and I spent a couple of days last week getting it sealed up.  This is about 18 X 32 and the bays are about 4 1/2 inches wide.

There's only one problem with this beautiful little box-  I think it should have been bigger!

Maybe when I get it sorted out to get the plein air colors back in the Heilman box it will all fit?  Doesn't seem real likely at the moment....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Moon Moves Me

So I have a bunch of things that are piling up that I keep meaning to write about.... I am going to start with B & G's quilt, as they received it this week and will no longer "accidentally" see it in a post-  This is the Moon Moves Me.

There's no place big enough to spread out a quilt in this house that has good light. I tried doing this out on the porch, but the light is not very good to be getting a good quilt picture.

A close up along the side...  nice flowing quilt pattern that mom picked out.

Here are a couple of the blocks-  I like the way the pattern of both the quilt and the stitching look like ocean waves.  My friends have (until recently) always lived near the sea, so this is really appropriate for them.

I made this quilt a bit bigger as my friends have animals that hog the covers, too. I always hate getting that draft up my backside.  This quilt ended up being 112". The back is pretty basic and boring, but found a place online that sells 118" backs which can be found here Backside Fabrics.  (I've been having them ship directly to mom!) If you decide to try them, note that one of the selvedges is 1 1/2 wide so you are not quite getting the whole width of the fabric.

This is my label.  I like these fancy labels, but they take about half a day or more to make.   The green frame of the label is stitched on two fabrics (white on bottom) and the top layer of green striped batik cut out when done.  Then the rest of the lettering is embroidered.  I guess if you spend all those hours making a quilt, you should put a good label on it and not resent the time it takes to make that label.
Might still have to work on that a bit....  I'd rather be quilting than making a label.

So that is two quilts done for the year!