Friday, November 27, 2009

Organize embellishments on your design wall

Usually a design wall is for putting together a quilt top. I just finished stitching a few myself, The 4 Tops. However, I’m getting ready to work on the LIQ project, a series of small wall hangings. Since I won’t be needing the entire design wall for awhile, a section of it is going to become a storage station for threads, buttons, lace, trims, and whatever else needs to be handy yet out of the way. The stuff is hung on various sizes of pins, depending on how thick each item is.

Perhaps you have the same affliction that I do... out of sight, out of mind. If these goodies are ever going to be utilized, I have to be able to see them! Just having them arranged like this makes me want to get going on the next wall hanging. When I first did some hand embroidery as a kid, the threads ended up as a tangled mess in a box. Hmmm... it’s probably still around here somewhere...
A post that includes how the design wall was made is here. Another way to use this concept is to get a piece of 1/2 inch foam core. Michael’s and Sam Flax are two stores that carry it. You could use it as a small portable storage wall, though knocking it over would be a potential hazard.
Believe it or not, all the doodads shown above were jammed into this cutlery organizer (from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.) It was impossible to find anything as you can imagine. This is what’s left in there for the moment, though it’s sure to be filled up again soon.
I’d be interested in hearing about other interesting storage or organizing tips, heaven knows there are still stashes of stuff piled up that need a better home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spiced cranberry sauce... yum!

Ixnay on the cranberry sauce in a can, right? My husband Andy tasted this at a party a long time ago, and has been making it ever since.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries (2 standard-sized bags)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Wash cranberries and drain. Combine rest of ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil. Add cranberries, cook at medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes until the skins pop (see below.)
Mash the berries (below.) Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes with the lid on but askew to allow steam to escape. Stir occasionally until dark red and thickened.
Remove from heat, pour into glass or ceramic container, and chill.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Top #4... last but not least!

These are the fabrics for the last of The 4 Tops. Do you agree with me that this group has a distinctly masculine vibe? The piece in the center left has tiny dots on black... it had too much visual vibration and looked muddy, so that fabric was deleted. Also, it seemed to me that more red and black would be beneficial to add more dark notes.
Fortunately, I had some red and black checked fabric plus some black with gold dots that fit in. (It’s somewhat amazing to me that despite having a ton of fabric, very little of my stash melds with this group.) Below is the first “draft” of the arrangement. Do you see any issues with it so far?
Maybe the black and white photo will make it clearer what bothered me with this design... the various rectangles were merging together too much, especially the lighter tones. I wanted more separation in the values.
Below is what it looks like pieced together. I didn’t have quite enough regular cotton fabric, so had to sneak in a couple of pieces of flannel on the edges. No biggie.
It has been interesting to work with such large pieces of fabric with large motifs, compared to the little scraps with more subdued patterns I usually am assembling. Oops, just noticed a glitch in the final top... the large guitar piece got vertically flipped with the piece below it. Hmmm... do I care enough to rip them out and restitch them?!?!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

World Quilt Show in West Palm Beach

My husband Andy and I drove a couple of hours down to this new show last Saturday and it was definitely worth it. There were 400 quilts on display and some 80 vendors, a nice diversity on both counts. The West Palm convention center is very easy to get in and out of and is quite an attractive building. Plus it’s right across the road from City Place, a lovely collection of shops and restaurants. Another plus was that it wasn’t freezing inside from excessive air conditioning, so yay! My only complaint is that the lighting wasn’t the greatest, which is typical of so many similar venues.
On to the the quilts— these are a few of the many nice pieces that caught my eye. Below is Parasol by Liz Jones (United Kingdom). She must have visited Florida at some point, or do palmettos grow in many locations? I have no idea.
Here is a close-up of the wonderful free motion stitching.
Midsummer Melody is by Jane Rollason (United Kingdom).
Next is Little Bit of Sunshine, by Cynthia Wismann. This was part of an exhibit by Art Quilters Unlimited, a group based in Ft. Myers.
Here is a detail from Little Bit of Sunshine, which was whole cloth painted with fabric dyes (as well as some other techniques.)
Below is Morris in the Garden is by Sue Reich (Connecticut). The way the cat was depicted with outline stitching is what intrigued me about this one.
The Birder by Cheryl Costley is also part of the Art Quilters Unlimited exhibit. He’s wearing a real hat and his camera and binoculars are 3-dimensional. There weren’t very many depictions of people in the overall show, we noticed.
The next two photos are details from Down Under Florabunda by Margo Hardie (Australia). This quilt was just covered with beautiful birds and flowers. It must have taken ages to create.
To finish up the birding theme, here is a detail from Fantasy Flock by Sheena Norquay (United Kingdom). She used her own doodles as the design inspiration.
To prove that most quilt shows have something for everyone, here is a quilt that my husband Andy was enthused about. This detail of Leaves on the Ground by Helen Richards (Australia) shows leaves she drew on fabric from her photographs. My plant pathologist hubby got a kick out of the holes eaten by insects, galls, spots, and other evidence of apparent plant diseases.
There were quite a few nice quilts from Japan and other countries, too. The vendors were from all over the U.S... nice to see some new faces with interesting merchandise. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed seeing a small excerpt of this large show.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quilting Natural Florida 2

In the summer of 2006 we went to see the first Quilting Natural Florida show at the Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida. Below is one of the pieces from that exhibit. What do you see in this image? I liked the abstract pattern of the diagonal shapes. The lighting was a little uneven, but after taking a photo, the little digital display showed what was hidden in plain sight.
The title will make it clear: Manatees by Faith Pflaz. There are three of them, facing left. For a nice slideshow with additional photos of the various pieces, click here. The exhibit was very enjoyable so I made a mental note to have something ready to enter for the next show. Alas, despite having loads of time, I didn’t have anything suitable when the entry deadline this fall loomed.
At the last minute, a tiny wall hanging of a pine tree that resulted from my plein aire painting workshop came to mind. It’s only about 7.5 inches by 10 inches, but it was accepted! At left is a detail from Reaching, a quilted painting of the gnarled top of a pine tree. I’ll put up the whole image closer to the show.

The 2010 show will have over 100 artworks in the exhibit, which will be on display from February 6 through April 25. If you’re in the area, by all means check it out. The butterfly atrium in the museum is wonderful, as well as the nice variety of Florida fossils. Love that terror bird! And of course, the giant ground sloth. Hey, maybe next time I could do an image of some prehistoric critters, that would be fun! (Guess I better get started ASAP.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stitching Jenny

It’s been awhile since I last posted about Jenny but progress is being made slowly but surely. The background is mostly completed, and gold beads were added for the flower centers. I was very concerned about how to stitch her down, but after making samples decided to go for a low key approach. I used my sewing machine’s faux blanket stitch in a matching thread on the plum parts of the body, and hand stitched her hooves and belly. The ears, tail tip, and the gold part of her nose are not stitched down to create a little more dimension.
The blank green area on the left will be getting more “stuff,” so it hasn’t been quilted yet. I might add more decorative details to her, but want to see how the whole thing looks once everything is actually on. This is only about half of the total picture, the rest of it is still in pieces.

Below is a close up of her head. For some reason, her ears are my favorite part.
My hubby Andy and I are going to the World Quilt Show in West Palm Beach this weekend... should be fab!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

6 quick digital art tips

Here are a few fairly random tips in no particular order along with the corresponding Photoshop commands, though similar functions can be found in many art programs.

1) Reverse the image you’re working on to look for lines/shapes/colors that look “wrong.”
Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal.
Work on it for awhile, then flip it back.

2) Learn keyboard shortcuts. I put them on sticky notes on my monitor until they’re sufficiently tattooed on my brain. The very first ones I learned? Cut (command X) and Paste (command V).

3) Put image into grayscale to check values.
Image> Adjustments> Desaturate or keyboard shortcut Shift-Command-U.
Does it still read well or does it turn into mush?

4) Record an Action for anything you do repeatedly that doesn’t already have a keyboard shortcut. I’ve made actions for Flipping Vertical or Horizontal, to Copy or Paste Layer styles, and now in CS4 to Link or Unlink layers (since it now is a hassle to do otherwise.) I need to record a few more Actions, actually.

5) Zoom out so the image is tiny... does it still look interesting?

6) Get ahold of a Photoshop how-to book or two, with plenty of pictures. I’m working my way through Photoshop CS4: The Missing Manual and am picking up plenty of good info. I ignore the stuff that doesn’t apply to my work flow, and put sticky notes on the pages with the real gems. Why buy a book? There are a lot of good tutorials, etc. on the web, but a book helps you to systematically cover all the basics of the program. There are many techniques that I use every day that I NEVER would’ve figured out on my own but found in a book. The WOW! series, which have even more pictures, are also excellent. There are many other good ones.

That’s it for now, just wanted to toss those out there. By the way, I upgraded from CS1, so am just now finding out about the Warp tool... love it!!! (Under the Edit> Transform menu.)

I changed my sig to have more autumn-like colors, though it’s still hot here in Florida (ugh!)