Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Porch Rejuvenation - Summer Project #1

Every summer dusting off the Nebraska winter from my front porch is my first priority.  This year, Amy helped to create an eclectic yet cohesive space for me to relax, read, visit,  and create.  The permanent elements on the porch are:  the swing, the church pew, the red bricks, and the blue wood floor.  To help unify the space, Amy chose to paint the wicker chairs and table a dark charcoal gray.  I never would have thought of this.  I love it! 
Painting the wicker chairs charcoal gray helped coordinate the chairs, swing, and pew with the bricks.  We bought the side table at a "Big Box" store.  Amy replaced the top with a vintage wooden checkerboard that she sprayed with poly.    

I acquired the antique wicker table this spring at an estate sale.  It was a beautiful golden wheat color with a brick red top.  I thought it looked great as it was, but Amy was right when she suggested that I paint it gray.  She also added the vintage cooler, milk box, and crate.  The rug is made of recycled plastic.
The colors in the crate look so much richer against the gray table.

I made the pillow tops from old vintage tablecloths.  I found just the right one with red, gray and turquoise on etsy.  I had a great shopping experience with: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BellaroseSignature.

 My husband always says to tackle the worst project first.  I will tackle the worst projects later.  The sewing projects that I am dreading are:  1.  My Dysfunctional Cat  2.  Cantankerous Corners.  These are projects that need lots of help!

I just bought a great book, The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff.  I can't wait to play with fabric and her techniques.  Today was my first day of summer vacation.  I was up at 6:00 A.M. because I was so excited! There is so much inspiration everywhere! 


Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Love My New Adventure!

     Hunting for treasure is only half of the fun.  Sharing the loot is just as fun!  It is so exciting to make a connection with people in all parts of the world.  These precious pieces that to many are junk were mined in the Nebraska or Iowa, spent time with Amy and I in Papillion, and then journeyed to exotic destinations!
     Amy and I bring home these gems.  Then, we polish and admire them until we are ready to let them go. Amy can often be heard exclaiming, "We find the coolest stuff!"
     Most of our merchandise goes to the east or west coast of the United States, but the Aussies and Canadians are great customers.  We ship to super-cities like Taipei with a population of over 2 1/2 million, or we send to tiny towns like Chewton, Australia with a population of 403.
      One day, I hope to visit these places, but for now, I am enjoying my view of the world from right here in Papillion!
      I'm clearing out the dining room so that Amy can design me a totally tricked-out studio.  I will be sharing the project in future blogs.  Yesterday, I bought an old wooden workbench out of a garage for $50.  It is going to be so great in my studio!  Hmmmmm, trading fine cherrywood furniture for a piece of junk from a garage, some might say I'm a little nuts!  Who cares!  I love it!

Crazy Kindred Spirit, Vintage Butterfly, and Perfect Moments reside in Papillion, Nebraska where the spirea are in bloom!

Lace Gloves:  Papillion to Taipei 7268 miles, 11697 km

Bakelite Buttons:  Papillion to Chewton, Australia 9256 miles, 14,896 km
Feedsack Stars:  Papillion to Otterup, Denmark 4494 miles, 7233 km
Texas Bluebonnets:  Papillion to Lucan Co. Ireland 4001 miles, 6439 km
Vintage Purse:  Papillion to Shizuoka, Japan 6146 miles, 9891 km
Chalk Sconces:  Papillion to Pousaflores, Portugal 4427 miles, 7125 km

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hearts and Hands for Sendai

Planting the Seed
     Hearts and Hands for Sendai is a project through Crazy Quilting International.  These blocks will be assembled into wall hangings and sent to Japan to be displayed in the International Quilt Show in coordination with Patchwork Tsushin to raise funds for the recovery of Japan.  Here is my contribution.

Harvesting the Inspiration
     The first fabric I chose was a vintage silk scarf with a dusty purple background decorated with berries and flowers.  My main concern was that it didn't fit within the parameter of "jewel tones".  The scarf was calling to me so I had to use it.  I chose the rest of the fabrics hoping to add jewel tones, contrast, and funk.  I didn't want to old scarf to look too stuffy.
Mixing the Soup
     I started with a 5-sided piece of turquoise and lime vintage paisley silk off centered to the left.  I then added dupioni and cotton solids in bold colors:  deep purple, hot pink, and rich gold.  There are 3 different sections from the scarf that I "fussy cut" for color and motif.  You can see the pink and gold butterfly from the scarf. I put in another piece of deep purple patterned silk.  This piece is in the top left corner.  Lastly, I used a groovy cotton toward to bottom.  It is the fabric with the orange swirl.

Adding the Spice
     I started with the heart.  It is done in colonial knots of rosy silk ribbon and beads.  I can't resist butterflies - it's my heritage!  I made the royal blue butterfly out of hand dyed hannah silk ribbon.  I hoped that the deep blue and black in the butterfly would bring down some of the heat given off by the bright colors.
     Since I didn't use any kimono fabrics in constructing the block, I wanted to bring in an Asian feel with the silk flowers.  I used a piece of vintage kimono fabric as inspiration for the hannah silk flowers and leaves on the lower left side. 
 Soup is Served
I continued to try to add Asian flavor by adding a branch of small pink flowers to give the impression of cherry blossoms.  To tie in the swirl fabric and to create movement, I repeated the swirl with thread through the blossoms.  I nestled the blue butterfly and silk flowers with small butterflies stitched in shades of blue and purple floss.  I balanced the weight of the overall design by stitching over the pattern of the original silk scarf.

Since I hate to cook, this is the only "soup" being served at my house these days!  I'm still trying to figure out how to use my kitchen cupboards for my stash instead of for all that cooking stuff.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Threads to 9-11 & Super Rudy 2

     A quilt is the story of artist and the history of the time it was created.  This is especially true for crazy quilts.  For some reason, I was home from school days after 9-11.  I sat glued to the television watching the news coverage with my threads in hand.  I remember struggling with the design of this particular block.  I had already added the birds and the doily.  Minnie Mouse is just above the bright red.  That afternoon, the white waves and stars on top of the blue and red practically stitched themselves.  The weathered green and yellow fabrics really didn't lend themselves to a patriotic statement, but "God Bless America" somehow just works in this spot.  A few months later, while visiting a bead shop in the Mall of America, I found the charm of the Twin Towers.  It was so soon after the tragic event that they were an assumed sight in a depiction of the New York skyline.

Super Rudy 2
     I have had many wonderful messages regarding "Super Rudy".  The boys are so excited!  Here some of their latest pages.  These pages also seem so appropriate for today in history.  Sometimes, the good guys really do catch the evil villain.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Little Light and Wisdom

     With most skills, as you become more experienced, you get faster and more efficient.  This was not the case for me with crazy quilting.  As my experience increased, my pace decreased.  I consider this a gift.  When you find something that you truly enjoy, slow down to appreciate the experience.  It is a gift.  I was thinking about this when I stitched this section of my quilt that glows.  You will see a candle whose flame contains the words of a Sunday school song, "This Little Light of Mine."

   I'm  working now to share some of this light.  I cherish the time I get to spend with my thread, fabric, and sewing machine.  Spots where fabric, thread, texture, color, and line all come together beautifully I call "perfect moments".  When I look back over my quilt, I can go back to these perfect moments.  Since I rarely "reverse sew", or rip out mistakes, some of my moments are not as successful as others.  I can look back over these times as well.  Sometimes, when I look back at these spots, I think that they don't look so bad after all.
    In a world of schedules, responsibilities, plans, goals, and bills, crazy quilting offers an escape with no plan, scheme, or timetable.  Winston Churchill said, "Writing is an adventure."  I think that crazy quilting in an adventure and a gift.

"Glow" Vital Statistics: 
     Finished dimensions are 70" x 70" with 8" borders.  The borders start with black satin piping.  Next, there is a strip of gold embossed cotton with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi all around the quilt done in red floss accented with a metallic thread.  Then, there is a wide piece of black velvet with black venise lace hand beaded with antique seed beads and twisted bugle beads.  Last, the quilt has a black satin binding. 
     The main center of the quilt has 16 squares with a finished dimension of 13" x 13".  They are machine pieced and hand embellished.  The fabrics are a combination of new and vintage with velvet, silk, and cotton.  As soon as the weather get better, I will take it outside to try to get a photo of the entire quilt.
 "He who works with his hands is a laborer.  He who works with his head is a craftsman.  He who works with his heart is an artist."  St. Francis of Assisi 
     As I began crazy quilting more and cleaning less, I needed to draw upon the wisdom of great gals and to develop a few tricks of my own. 
     *From Twyla mother of my good friend, Sharon - Set the table for dinner first thing in the morning.  No matter the time or whatever you've been doing, your husband will walk in the door and think that he is going to be fed so he won't ask too many questions.
    *1 household chore = 1 hour of sewing  So, if you unload the dishwasher, you get to sew for an hour.  I also like to watch my favorite shows while I sew.  If I do a chore during the commercials, I get to sew during the good parts.
    *Always refer to shopping and reading as "research".
    *From Connie - Comb your hair because "A thing of beauty is a joy forever".  I am embarrassed to admit that during the summer if I start sewing in my pajamas in the morning, I might still have them on in the afternoon. 
Sneak Peek 
     Here is a peek at my piece for the Hand and Hearts for Sendai.  It is a work in progress.