Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tie-dyed towels reprise

This year I have again made towels as Christmas presents for the Everett family nieces and nephews (and my kids). Two years ago I made these towels for the same kids, so I decided to use a spiral pattern this time.

This series of tie-dyed towels used eight different colors (with some slight variations). They were lemon yellow, fire red, baby pink, fuchsia, lime green, emerald green, sky blue and sapphire blue. Each towel had six of these colors front and back, with the colors offset by one on the reverse side.

I made these first, to use up whatever dye I had left from before. These spirals had light colors on one side and dark colors on the other side, more or less. I tried to pair the colors the same way across all of the towels. Light colors include lemon yellow, golden yellow, bright orange, jungle red, baby pink, lilac, lime green, kelly green, turquoise, sky blue, and a color similar to fuchsia called "dragon juice." Dark colors include forest green, chocolate brown, violet, sapphire blue, teal green, and some turquoise and dragon juice to contrast with some of the lighter light colors.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bargue drawing

Today my instructor said I was finished with this drawing. It is a copy of a drawing by the 19th century artist Charles Bargue, from a series of drawings he made for the instructional method that bears his name. This is a milestone for me. Level I at the art school I attend part-time requires four such drawings, and this is my fourth one. It is a drawing of the Belvedere Torso, which I saw this summer at the Vatican Museum.
I started taking classes part time at the Academy of Realist Art in Boston just about three years ago. I've also drawn a series of live models in a different strand of the program, but for the last two terms I've focused on finishing this drawing so I can move up to the next level, which is drawing and painting from 3-D casts.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Someday I'll work on quilts again

But for now I'll just elevate my obsessive sorting of origami paper to blog status.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Europe boxes

This box was inspired by a pillow for sale at the marvelous gift shop at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. I wanted the pillow. I wanted so many things that I saw in that store, but money and space in the suitcase were both very tight. So I made a list of the colors in the pillow, and when I got home, I made this box.

I didn't want the dishes that were these colors as much as I wanted that pillow, but they were beautiful nonetheless. In my imagination I can furnish a compact, streamlined Danish kitchen with white cabinets, wooden trays for bread and cheese, a good coffee maker and six cups and saucers in carefully considered pastel colors.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Obey the rope

A friend of mine with a nice boat asked me to make her this rope mat to keep the kayak from scratching the paint where it rests. I had never made one before, and I wanted to learn how. Mats like this are worked loosely and then tightened up. I decided I would make short work of it and only tighten it twice. Silly me. It was so tight the strands overlapped, and the more I tried to loosen it, the tighter it got. I had to take the whole thing completely apart, which is about as hard as putting it together. I realized I had to do what the rope wanted me to do. There is no other way to make these things. It takes about twenty minutes to adjust the whole thing, and I adjusted it about a dozen times to get it looking like this. I made a nice splice on the back and cut the ends off with a heat tool. I was wary of ruining the thing so I made a "kringle" out of the leftover rope and practiced the splice on it first. I used about 100 feet of rope for the two mats.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boston Commons Quilt

I've wanted to make the Boston Commons quilt from the most recent Kaffe Fassett quilt book for a couple of years now. The smallness of my new sewing room added some weight to the importance of the project, and it was finished yesterday. I used some, not all of my fabric from the excellent Fassett line from a couple of years ago, several batiks and a few others, most notably some fabric from dresses I made my girls when they were little.

I strip pieced this thing, which was a formidable technical feat in itself. I thought about writing up detailed directions with illustrations, but the problem is that strip piecing something of this size is extremely unforgiving. Every cross strip has to be cut just right - no mistakes - and all the seams have to be exactly 1/4, otherwise you get a parallelogram instead of a rectangle. However the brave soul who feels capable of strip piecing something like this (as opposed to cutting out 2048 squares) can probably understand the following directions.

We are going to make diagonal rows, smallest ones first and large ones that include the two center squares last, adding shorter and shorter sets of strips to a number of panels of long strips. We will cut off four crosswise strips from these expanding panels at each step.

First cut 90 half-square triangles, for the edges, and 4 quarter-square triangles for the corners. I used a template for finished short edge of 2.5", with 1/4" seam allowance on the short edges and 3/8" seam allowance on the diagonal edges, because I finish my quilts with 3/8" binding.

Now cut enough 3" strips for the outer ring (the plainish blue in my version). Don't count on your yardage being 42" wide. Some will be, but other fabric will be less than 42 inches, and you will only get 13 squares from each strip (the exception is batiks - they are almost always 44 inches long). This particular quilt had 22 rings (the inner "ring" has only two squares). The outer ring had 90 squares, so I needed 7 3" strips, the full width of the fabric (7 x 13 = 91). Cut four 3" squares from one of the strips. Sew four triangles to these squares, two with the diagonal facing up and two with the diagonal facing down. Press seams towards triangles. Set aside the two with the diagonals facing down. Sew two triangles to the other two squares to make trapezoids - not parallelograms! These are the shortest diagonal rows. Sew a quarter square triangle to each row and press seams towards the quarter square triangles.

Now the next step will be repeated for each ring.

Cut enough strips for the next ring (For the second ring, you will need 86 squares, so you'll still need 7 strips). Sew all of these strips to the strips of the previous ring. Press so that the seam goes in the opposite direction from the previous seam. That is, every other strip will be pressed flat, and the other strips will have the edges pressed in (the outermost squares will be pressed flat). Cut four crosswise 3" strips from one of the panels. Sew four triangles to the outermost square of these strips, two with diagonal facing up and two with diagonal facing down, and press seams towards the triangles. Set aside the two with diagonal facing down, and sew the ones with diagonal facing up to the ones set aside in the previous step. These strips should always turn out to be trapezoids. Press, and sew these two new strips to the ever-widening corners. Always press the long seam towards the corner. Eventually this becomes more difficult than the other way, but I thought this would cause the final result to be rectangular rather than skewed.

For the last ring, only add enough fabric for two squares. Cut just two crosswise 3" strips and sew the reserved quarter-square triangles to the ends, and then sew these strips to the set-aside strips from the previous step. Add them to the two now enormous corners and sew the two halves together.

I did not follow these directions exactly. At some point I created separate sections of strips and an inner section of the crosswise strips - not necessary, but it broke down the job into smaller pieces. Also I had some fat quarters to work in, and the dress fabric strips had to be pieced. If all this is too confusing, don't even try it - cut out 2048 squares, and perhaps lay them out on a design wall. I made a few mistakes along the way and will have to either live with them or pick out a square or two. A full layout of all 2048 squares would have allowed me to avoid these mistakes.

Now how to quilt this thing? That is the question. I would like to send it out to be quilted, but I don't know anyone with a long-arm quilting machine. I will be making some inquiries. Otherwise it will become a UFO, which is the fate of many of my creations.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Two more blankets for Project Linus

These two blankets are for Project Linus, which donates handmade blankets to at-risk newborns and other children in need of comfort. The red and white one was a puzzle that I worked on for quite a while. How to use that enormous skein of Hot Red yarn in a baby blanket? When I saw someone knitting this blanket in a different color, I knew this would work.
The second blanket is a pattern I've knit before, changing colors to make it look like a quilt.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow Weekend

Two more tops have been assembled on this snowy weekend. I was considering donating the rainbow one-patch tops to the Power of the Quilt Project. I decided not to - it's all my fabric, so no moral dilemma, and I love them. So, for kids, future grandkids, or whoever is around when I get around to finishing them. For now, it goes into the closet with my other UFOs.
But not to worry, I made the fence rail/roman square blocks for the PQP a while back, and they were in one of the fabric bins. So I put them together on the diagonal, and filled in the edges with PQP fabric. This one will be made into a quilt for someone who really needs something cheerful in their life.
I also dragged out all the flannel that we had to use for quilt backing, organized it by color and assembled the pieces that were too small into larger rectangles. The day after the blizzard was bright and sunny, and light flowed into our house from all angles. So it was a great time to sort large quantities of colorful fabric. Here's the pieced flannel backing for the diagonal quilt. None of the pieces were big enough to make a whole backing, and it's more interesting this way.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rainbow one-patch

I made this quilt top from a collection of four inch squares. I have too many boxes of squares, triangles, strips, etc. to fit in my new workroom. So I am trying to use them up.
I didn't put in most of the purple squares. I think I have enough squares left over for another one.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Origami Icosahedron

This fell apart before the big workspace move. I put it back together today, then put it in a cabinet behind a glass door. I made it many years ago.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Working in my new sewing room

I prepared for the quilt-a-thon in my new small sewing room. I was slow getting started because I had to accept the fact that the (unfinished for a few years) origami quilt project that was on my sewing table needed to be put "away." But there is no such place anymore, so I moved it onto a flat object and put it out of the way on top of other things. Once that was done, I was able to finish sorting a few dozen large and small bins of fabric of assorted shapes and lengths and various quilt-a-thon supplies. I cut and pressed fabric to finish quilt kits and sewed a couple of things that needed sewing.

All the bins went to the church on Monday (yesterday). After the quilt-a-thon was over, I organized everything as well as I could so that the stuff would be ready to go for the next event without as much work.

It's hard to describe in words, but once the dust had settled, everywhere I looked in that room there were large and small piles of homeless objects. For instance, my old bureau didn't fit in the new room. I emptied it out and got rid of most of what was in it, but what to do with all the incense? What about my third art project from Pacifica? (The first was February 2011 UFO and the second was the solution of Schrödinger's equation for the hydrogen atom drawn in oil pastels approximately the color of the visible lines of the hydrogen emission spectrum on eleven sheets of watercolor paper that was then washed with black watercolor paint.)

It's supposed to have something to do with Mexico and psychology. The pictures visible on the inner wall are a cup of coffee, a gargoyle with a pencil in its mouth, and a view of the earth from the moon. The other three walls are equally silly. All of this is protected by shards of broken glass, and of course there are no doors. The four large bottle ends were an afterthought. They can be removed easily. Maybe that would be a good first step.

There will be a place for my castle at some point. It was built to fit a box that I used to transport it to Pacifica, back in the day when I could take something like that on the plane. Today I would have to drive to Carpinteria. I stuffed the incense in my desk drawer, and today I hoisted about 20 boxes of old letters, school notes and other valuable papers that I cannot part with at this time into the roomy attic over the ceiling. Thanks to my inability to cancel sessions with the personal trainer all those days that I wanted to, my back doesn't hurt one bit, and the job was done in about half an hour. I did manage to empty one box of stuff, but it was promptly filled with other treasures.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New library

Cathy and I traded rooms. My big sewing room/office/guest room over the garage is now her bedroom/workspace, and her old bedroom is now my sewing room/office/guest room. I thought I would just put my 1000+ books on the shelves along the back wall of the new sewing room, but that's not going to work at all. Those shelves are now full of boxes of sewing stuff, photographs, origami paper and other assorted projects. I am going to have to create a library, and after racking my brains and looking at home libraries on the internet, I have come up with a solution. All my books are stacked in the upstairs hallway, open to the living room below, between Cindy's room and the new sewing room. I ordered ten short bookcases from Walmart which will line the hallway along the railing, and the hallway will become the new library. The bookcases should arrive this week. I know I should get rid of many these books, but until I can make up my mind which ones to fling, it's not going to happen. I picked up one to consider tossing this morning and ended up reading it. I liked it so it will stay.

The new space is quite a squeeze and I've already found lots of paper I can throw away. I hope to get rid of more junk. I am feeling like a major hoarder right about now in spite of the superficial neatness of my home.