Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Knew Him When...

I grew up in a neighborhood full of kids - we did everything together. There was one special kid in my neighborhood - the boy you always knew was going somewhere, the one that was going to make it big. For me, that person was Eric Schaeffer.

Eric was the runt of the neighborhood litter - one of the youngest in the crowd, the one that we always had to include for fear of what might happen if we didn't. But from little on up, you always knew Eric had something special - his passion for basically everything was more than obvious to everyone. And, his ability to make you laugh was unsurpassed.

Meet Eric - he's all grown up now!

And, he's director of the hit NYC Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet (also playing in Chicago) playing at the Nederlander Theater. This past weekend I traveled up to NYC to take in the Saturday matinee of the show - IT WAS FANTASTIC! The play is based on a real life recording session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The show is full of energy, the actors are uber talented, and the music is electric. My favorite actor is Levi Kreis who plays Jerry Lee Lewis - his performance is incredible. If you are in NYC or Chicago plan on taking in the show.

And now the really big news - the show is up for 3 Tony's - I will be glued to the TV for the ceremony! Eric received a Tony last year for best regional theater - he is co-founder and creative director of the Signature Theater in Arlington, VA. This "kid" was destined for fame - we all knew that!

It was my youngest daughter's 19th birthday and she picked our dinner destination (she goes to Parsons School of Design and lives in NYC) - we had a great dinner at a no nonsense eatery called Mama's Home Cooking featuring Southern favorites including buttermilk fried chicken, slow roasted pork and all of the standards sides - it was delicious.

O.K. - don't laugh at me - I have taken up a great new exercise - hula hooping - I love it - I'm a hooper! I use a weighted hoop - it's a bit painful until you get accustomed to the heft of the hoop - you really need to keep your abs tight to keep it from hurting. It's great for your core. While walking through the streets of NYC we happened upon this troupe of hoopers - my husband had to hold me back from joining in. Gotta go - time for hooping!

What's Going On?

Testing 1 - 2 - 3

Sorry about this but I seem to be losing posts - Please Stand By . . .

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Closer Look at "Feeling Blue"

I incorporated many different techniques and materials in the creation of "Feeling Blue" - here's the laundry list:
1. Fabric dying - the center lighter teal is dyed cotton fabric
2. Fabric painting with Seta paint (over dyed fabric) - I prefer to paint dyed fabric - it gives a much richer color.
3. Ink jet printed fabric - the hexagon stars and the flower centers
4. Water based oil pastels - used for highlighting sections of the bird - I love water based oil pastels
5. Organza and organdy - the eggs - this is the only place I used fusible (Misty Fuse) on the whole quilt
6. Sheers - used for shadowing and for the globe
7. Tulle - used on both birds to soften the edges of fabric
8. Wool felt - bird feet

I want to use this post to talk specifically about the creation of the birds. I made the birds separately and then appliqued them to the quilt. It all starts with the drawing.
I trace the bird onto freezer paper and then draw in my fabric sections.I cut out the paper pieces and use them to cut out my fabric.
It's starting to look like a wing now - there is no fusible used in this method - I do not like fusible.
Fast forward - I continue to build the birds using this process, organizing all components on a piece of foundation fabric. No fusible or glue here - keep the windows closed and the fans off or you'll be picking up pieces off of the floor. Here are the birds all set to quilt. I have added highlights using my water based oil pastels - another class. I've added a layer of batting under the foundation fabric.
I use tulle as an overlay for the birds - it holds the pieces in place while I add quilting, and it dulls the edges of the fabric transitions - I love to use tulle. The birds received an over lay of a deep blue tulle - actually the small bird has a few different layers of tulle. I keep many different colors of tulle on hand to audition what works best.
Once the tulle is anchored down with pins I start quilting - you need to be very careful not to snag a needle or pin on the tulle - it rips very easily. I use free motion quilting to anchor the fabric pieces and add more color and texture in a variety of thread colors.

Here's papa bird all quilted and cut out leaving a 1/2 inch border.
I remove the 1/2 inch of batting in the border area, cutting very carefully.
All trimmed up.
I then hand baster the netting and foundation layer to the back - did I mention this was labor intense???
Here's baby bird all finished and ready to be appliqued to the quilt.
The birds were one of the very last items to be added to the quilt - I machine appliqued them using a narrow zig-zag stitch and matching thread. Whew! Next post - the frame - fasten your seat belt - talk about labor intense!

The Lure of the Indigo Bunting

Why did I select the indigo bunting as the subject for my bird quilt challenge - simple, because it is the most beautiful bird I have had the opportunity to see in person. Despite my close-up interpretation, this is a demure songbird. The coloring of the mature male is an exquisite cobalt blue.

When I started this challenge I had no true emotional connection to the indigo bunting, it was simply a "physical attraction". In the process of designing my quilt I investigated my subject and discovered facts about the indigo bunting that quickly became the basis for my emotional connection and the layers of meaning to the design concept. Little did I know that this quilt was would surface as a reflection of my feelings of being an empty nester - how appropriate a phrase, "empty nester", in light of the aviary focus of this challenge.

Indigo buntings are migratory birds. However unlike most other bird species that migrate during the daytime hours, indigo buntings migrate at night using a form of celestial navigation to guide their travels. They possess a unique ability to find their way home no matter where they are relocated to, simply by following the night sky - yes, this fact is what guided me to create my emotional tie to this simple "bird quilt".

The stars are made of map fabric hexagons of many of the places I've traveled with my family, the cities where my daughters attend college, and of course, home.

The globe is another reference to home - we have a healthy collection of vintage globes, a passion of my husband.

Every globe in our collection includes the country Tannu Tuvo - now part of Russia, but existed as an independent country from 1921 - 1944. Why you ask is this important - not really sure other than it helps to date the globe. This is my husband's collection, and the globe represents him, and his many quirks.

Next to the globe is a thimble-full of forget-me-nots with map centers; I put them there to represent me. Can you say EDIT - I do not like them in the overall design concept of the quilt and in hind sight wish I would have edited them out. If you remember from my posts during the design phase of this quilt I had 75% of the quilt designed and 25% without a design element - well, the globe and the thimble of flowers filled that nagging un-designed 25% - I'm happy with the globe, but not the flowers. That's what happens when you try to rush things.

Tomorrow I'll be discussing the many different techniques i used in this quilt, and more specifically, how I created my birds - it's a labor intense process.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Dinner to Celebrate Spring

Look at this beautiful bouquet of flowers from Bev at the West Chester growers' market - thanks Bev.

We're celebrating Mother's Day again tonight - dinner for my mother-in-law, a week late but she has 11 children so we've gotten used to waiting our turn. Here's the menu - it's easy and perfect for serving to family and friends to celebrate everything spring - it's all about the fresh herbs, courtesy of my garden - currently brimming with chives, tarragon, thyme, oregano, marjoram and mint by the bushel.

For our appetizer - Mint Juleps and Radish Slices with Tarragon Chive Butter

To start off, we had a lovely salad of mixed greens, fresh from my garden, dressed with a light vinaigrette

Our dinner was Pork Medallions and Carrots Glazed with Pancetta Vinaigrette, Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas and Spring Onions and Lemon Thyme Spoonbread.

This was the first week for fresh strawberries at the market - they are incredible. I made
Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits topped with Fresh Local Strawberries and Whipped Cream.

Catching Up - A Look at First Friday in Lancaster

Last Friday, May 7th, I headed out to downtown Lancaster, PA for the city's monthly First Friday Gallery Walk. A number of my local communities host First Friday gallery openings and I was expecting pretty much the same. Much to my surprise, the city of Lancaster hosts, without a doubt, hands down, undeniably, the best First Friday in the area. The sidewalks were crowded with people enjoying all Lancaster had to offer - there were lines to get into some of the galleries.

Over 70 galleries and shops participate in this monthly event. The array of art work in the galleries was quite impressive. I did not attempt to take any photos in the galleries - it just wasn't appropriate. Suffice it to say - if you live close to Lancaster, you need to see this to believe it. Many of the galleries had musicians either in the gallery or outside - it was such a lively event and the weather that night was simply perfect.

We spent about 3 hours in the city and only saw about 20% of the participating galleries - just an excuse for many return visits! The Uptown section of the city is home to many vintage retailers, one of my favorites of the night was called ZAP. Take a look at the "Wall of Barkcloth"!

Now, I've yet to share my barkcloth collection with you - some day - when I think you're ready. I can only tell you that my heartbeat began racing when I saw this collection of one of my favorite fabrics. To add to my excitement was their stash of bakelite - my pulse was racing.

I cannot wait to return to Lancaster for another First Friday - I will not however be able to attend in June First Friday - WHY, YOU ASK - because Layers will be participating in the Gallery Walk in West Chester, PA that same evening. We have been asked by Morgan Stanley to display our quilts in their conference room - more on this as the event approaches - you're invited, of course! I've been told they have the yummiest snacks, and wine, of all of the participating venues.

If you go to Lancaster for First Friday here are some pointers - we arrived in the city at 6:30 PM and parking was easy in the downtown garages. The restaurants were quite busy - we opted for a light dinner at a great little sandwich shop - I really didn't want to waste time eating - the excitement was enough to dull my appetite. Before you head out to the city I suggest you explore some on-line sites to familiarize yourself with the city to get a feel for where you want to wander.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Excuse Me, Please

Hi all

So sorry to keep all of you waiting - I've had a "blog burp" - a life event that required my full, undivided attention. Everything seems to be settling down so back to blogging. I've got a significant back log of events to cover so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Feeling Blue

Time to reveal my challenge - Feeling Blue - and yes, there are layers, growing layers, of meaning to the title - it's been a very long week, and it's only Wednesday. This quilt was my attempt to address becoming an empty-nester, it was a very cathartic exercise, and every piece of the quilt holds a very personal meaning. I was so looking forward to the reveal, but things just didn't go as planned, another layer. This is not the best photo of the quilt - I'll photograph it again tomorrow morning when the light is better.

I plan on spending the next few posts to show you my construction process and to share the meaning of the title in relation to the imagery of the quilt. Today's post is just for photos and to show you the "photogenic" references in my quilt.

Here's a close-up of the birds - they are indigo buntings - a male and an immature bird.

Here's the close-up of the male.

A close-up of the face of the immature bird.

If you remember - this weed gone to seed was one of my "photogenic" inspirations.

I quilted the image into my background.

Here was another "photogenic" inspiration - a dried up Queen Anne's lace.

A stylized version of it became part of the background quilting too.

The map stars have a very special meaning - I'll reveal the details in tomorrow's post.

Here's a close-up of the globe and my thimble full of forget-me-nots.

This tramp art frame was the inspiration for how I handled my stretcher frame.

Here's a close-up of how I treated my frame - it is covered with zig-zag quilted fabric, topped with an open prairie point strip, and topped again with a pinked strip of wool, anchored with a triple zig-zag stitch. I bound the quilt with prairie points which stick out behind the frame - layers upon layers to get the effect.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Feeling Blue

Now you know the title of my Layers' Tweets Challenge quilt entry - Feeling Blue. And, true to form, the title bears layers of meaning. Feeling Blue features a bird I used in a previous quilt - Spring Sermon: Hawk Mountain.
That's an indigo bunting sitting in the pine tree in Spring Sermon: Hawk Mountain. Once you've seen one you won't forget it. They are a brilliant blue, demure little bird - lovely, isn't he - it's a male, the female are a lovely brown?

"Feeling Blue" has more meaning than just the color of the indigo bunting - but it's not as depressing as it might sound - don't worry about me - I'm fine. This quilt has given me the opportunity to address my feelings about becoming an empty nester - you'll see - it's been good for me. One more days - then the big reveal.


Photo-genetic: originating from a photograph.

My Layers challenge guidelines stipulates the following guidelines for quilt entries:

Photogenic- created from style elements captured via photograph.

Element—part of a whole

Explicit instructions – you will acquire 3 photos (camera, on line, in print) of distinct design elements which you must incorporate into the overall design of your piece. These design elements can be echoed in the quilt in various ways: as structural elements in the development of your bird(s) or background; stamped, painted, quilted, you name it.

I included this requirement in my challenge after taking this photograph.

I had been out for my morning walk back in the fall and came across this beautiful weed gone to seed. It didn't photograph well in the meadow on a very windy day, so I brought it home with me - it's been in my sewing room ever since - dropped all of it's seeds on my floor - I fearful all of my loose threads will act as organic matter to sprout these seeds. My photos of this weed inspired me to include the photo-genetic requirement in the Tweets challenge.

I love to create quilts from photographs - since conceptualizing my bird quilt I have accumulated over 50 pages of photographs in a Publisher file on my laptop - some photos are mine, many are from images I found on line. I use the photos as inspiration - all of the images on my quilts are based on my original drawings.

So, what are my photogenic inspirations - fine - I'll reveal them. My weed seed (above) is obviously one of my inspirations. This incredible fungus which grows next to my driveway was slated to be in my quilt but was edited out - next time!

Look at this beautiful skeleton of a week - a Queen Anne's Lace skeleton. It has found it's way into my Tweets challenge.
And this beautiful example of tramp art has also wandered into my Tweets challenge.
My Gran-pop had a number of tramp art frames - not sure where he got them. He was an avid auction attendee so he could have picked them up anywhere. But, I also have heard stories from my Mom of the hobos that found shelter at the family farm during the depression - perhaps they were a thank you from one of the recipients of his hospitality. We'll never know where they came from or where they are today.

So, you've seen 3 of my photo-genetic inspirations. The quilt will be revealed Wednesday! Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Never Trust Red or Black!

Layers Tweets Challenge Update - - - FINISHED! This project took longer than expected because I tried a number of new techniques - can't wait to show you! The reveal is next Tuesday - but I won't post until Wednesday. I have numerous posts planned on the challenge that will show you the different techniques I used - I was snapping pictures the entire time I was making it.

Today I was getting fabrc ready for my next project - my baby quilt challenge entry. Here are two of the fabrics I plan on using in the baby quilt - one, a solid red from Kaufman, and the other a print with a saturated red from Andover. I always pre-wash my fabric if I intend to use it in a bed quilt - especially if red is involved.

And, I always launder them with one of these Woolite Dye Magnet sheets - I want to see if the fabrics lost dye.
Here's the before and after - the sheet on the left is before laundering, the sheet on the right is after laundering. Thank heavens I used the dye magnet or all of the red dye could have ended up in the white background of my printed fabric. Never trust red fabric.

Now - for why not to trust black fabric. This a a square of solid black fabric - not sure of the manufacturer - I cut a perfect 4 inch square.

Now I didn't even pre-wash this fabric - just cut the 4 inch square, spritzed it with my mister, and then took the iron to it on a cotton setting - I swear I could see it shrnk before my eyes.

Here it is after ironing - lost an eight of an inch - in only one direction! Imagine what a hot water washing could do to this fabric. And, just imagine what your quilt might look like if you assembled it with this unwashed black fabric - the one directional shrinkage would cause terrible distortion after washing.