Sunday, 30 March 2014

Chickadee on the Queen Anne's Lace

Now that I have this finished I would do it again on a background with a little more contrast. This fabric, while sympathetic with the theme required a little intervention to balance.

In order to give better contrast I darkened the flower parts a little more than natural. It already had so many layers of thread I used a brown pen to highlight. And then I use a black to bring up the legs. Surprisingly the eye doesn't show in this photo. It has a presence as a grey ring.

But this little guy is cute. I'm undecided yet how much framing I will give it. Definitely a dark line to define the edge, but maybe more.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Moving On - The Chickadee

My step daughter's gift to me for my birthday was a delightful acrylic of a chickadee. We both love these little birds and she renders them so well in that medium.

So I went back into my collection of photos I've collected from the Weather Channel, no less, and found this little beauty; my next project.

There are many ways to begin this type of portrait; paint on silk, wax resist outlines and free embroidery. I prefer to make a simple cartoon. I closely match the colours as if it were painted. This helps to conceal any spots that might be missed.

Rather than a very stark background (could it be I'm tired of winter?) I choose a batik that has a pattern reminiscent of the flower.

Then I choose my thread colours.

All I have to do is start layering the thread.

So here we are to date. Tomorrow I will start adding the Queen Anne's Lace flower.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

I Won........!!

I am a member of the Canadian Quilters' Association and receive their quarterly magazine.
For a recent contest on Winter, I submitted my piece entitled Winter Solstice.

I was informed this morning that I was awarded First Prize. More exciting, it will be featured in the upcoming publication, the summer issue.  (PS the article in featured in the May 21 blog)

I knew it was special. but its nice to have others recognize it too.
Here it is again.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Its off to the post office I go.
So the three Quilts I began back in January are done, vacuum packed (awesome to watch a Queen size quilt compress down to about 1.5 inches), boxed, sealed and mailed to BC. 8 kg worth (about 18 lbs)
I've tried several carriers in the last few years. FedEx might be a little faster, but Canada Post is still cheaper.
If you have a parcel to go off shore, I found a beauty of a shipper in TO called ChitChat express that is cheaper than CP but only for off shore mailings.

So here they are one more time, the 3 very different quilts. Now its time to move on to create some more Fibre ART.




Monday, 24 March 2014

Crimson Stars Quilt Finished

I had a pretty lazy weekend. Necessity insisted I nap a few times after trying to keep up with the kids who were helping me? celebrate my birthday.
I survived.
And the Quilt is done.
It finished out at 94" square. Quite usable on almost any bed.

The little bit of SID I had to do with the stars really didn't slow me down as I thought it might.
This was such a lovely lazy swirling stitch pattern I think I will make a record of it and do it again.

Friday, 21 March 2014

March 21st

What did I do today?
After I spent about 2 hours quilting the Crimson Stars this morning, Ed and I went to the gym for an hour of fun on the treadmill.
After a suitable recover time involving several cups of coffee, I cleaned the house, emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen and made a batch of Brownies for dinner this evening.
Then I went to the Dentist and now I'm sitting here waiting for the freezing to disperse so I can
a) eat a Brownie
b) start drinking and
c) wait for my step daughter to arrive and we will
d) Celebrate my Birthday!

Tomorrow is time enough to get back to work.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Back to the Crimson Stars

I'm back on the daily roster after my winter vacation and had to work yesterday. Bummer! I had just finished loading the quilt and was anxious to get started.
I wasn't sure about the quilting motif and until I decide and see a sample on the quilt it is a very unsettled time for me. A lot of sleepless moments.
So in the last few minutes before supper the other day I dove in.

The stitching is for the most part white on white so its difficult to photograph. The red stars will all be outlined simply and the remaining background is a mimic of the pattern of the white on white material, a series of swirls and loops and curls. This is not a continuous pattern because I need to move in and around the different sized stars. Having the "motifs" discrete means they vary in their travel length. That certainly makes them manageable and give me nice breaks.

So here is what I have so far. I can only work a few hours today and then I'm off to work for the afternoon.  (This certainly slows my progress...but pays for my craft)

This is the basic pattern, but my quilt is 6 stars by six stars, 95 inches sq.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Finishing the Grain Elevator

After the siding, the roof shingles and the grass were stitched in I applied a matching  binding.
There is nothing soft about this piece.

It appeal is it's simplicity and the stark fact of the matter. These elevators stood as lonely sentinels in the Prairie, dotted along the horizon and the rail lines.
They are all but gone.

One personal bonus to this piece is the sky. I think the tiling worked really well. I know I will use that style again.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Morning at the Grain Elevator

This morning I chose and finished the bottom of the hanging with a wheat grass fabric. Essentially the construction is complete.
I want to add some vehicle tracks that travel up to the loading dock. That's going to take some trial and error work with paper patterns. In the stain glass piece the road is a solid feature. When I look at pictures taken of the elevators the road is usually a dirt track. This is particularly so if the elevator is isolated by a rail line.
And what colour is the dirt?
Hopefully I'll have made my choices and will add it to this post today.

3:00 pm.........We went out and did some shopping and I stared at the ground just poking through the snow in a few farmer's fields. Wet ground is not reliable.
I called up a Soil Survey for Saskatchewan and they said brown. So the ruts for the road are brown. I really don't know why I worry these things as, in this case, most of it will be hidden.
At this point, too, I start paying attention to the finished shape and size. I need the full height, but I will chop some of the bottom and the left side. Always over build your pieces so you can crop later.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Saskatchewan Grain Elevator

I have a weakness for the Prairies. There is just something about the open vista and endless horizon.
I've already done a few pieces in that genre. One of my favourites is below.

The brilliant colour of the red barns in the middle of nowhere is, I think iconic of our disappearing heritage and history. So last year, while researching something else, I came across a stain glass image of the grain elevators of the prairies and I knew they were on my list of "must do"s.

Big blue sky turns up a lot in the prairies and I wanted to do something different this time, so I borrowed from Gloria Loughman's book "Radiant Landscapes" and tiled the sky. This was an ideal solution for me as I didn't have a large enough whole piece of the material I wanted to use.

It filled the space and I think it should add to the vertical nature of the elevators.

I'm determined to use different materials in  my work, trying to get past the limitations of quilting cotton, so rather than go shopping, I rooted through my remnants of dress materials and found a lovely coral with a vertical weave. Now coral isn't a colour that comes to mind when thinking about Barn Red, but when I overlaid it with a filmy curtain remnant in red, it changed the tone to a much more suitable colour.

Using a full size cartoon like you would in serious applique work I've assembled most of the barn complex. I'm undecided yet what treatment I'll give the tin roof or how I'll finish the siding, but its coming along. So here we are, as of today. There is a lot of trial and error until it feels right.

4:00 pm ...... I actually got further with this today than I thought I would. All that is left is the ground and the road. I'm not sure how or if I will do a lot of embellishment. I have to stare at it for a while and sleep on it.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Why I Love Thread Painting

If you've never tried Thread painting you are missing out on a way to put the "wow" in your work.
My leaf piece has its charm but was going to remain blah unless I added more than motifs. In the middle of the night ( as usual ) I decided to thread paint.
What did I have left to paint. Five lovely leaves, 3 Maple and at least 2 Oaks, all in reds, yellows oranges and brown.

I usual find my artist canvas enough of a backing for the casual thread work in a lot of my work but I knew from experience that the woven nature of the material would not be enough. So over top of this (at the back) I glued a piece of embroidery stabilizer. Many stores carry this and heavy weight pellon as well. Woven material will always shift and that is what buckles your work.
This first thing I do with leaves is to stitch the veins. This gives me a reference point for the sections. And at the very end the veins are re-stitched and I give the finishing touch of satin stitching the edge.
Start adding colour. I usually work in a gradient from light to dark. This is pure free motion work. The slower the speed the longer you can make your stitches. This equals more colour. And how can you not have a lovely piece with thread colours with names like Orange Meringue, Cream Yellow, Harvest Gold, Deep Gold. I use both Madeira and Hemmingworth threads. Embroidery threads add that sheen and complex play of light. So enjoy the following pictures as I add colour after colour. Yes, they over lap. That's where the charm comes from.



Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Waiting for Spring with Autumn Leaves

After some beautiful balmy weather (above zero c.) we're getting hammered today with what I think everyone hopes is the last dump of snow for this year.  It's really hard to stay motivated. I was out to a guild meeting last evening after which I couldn't sleep till the wee small hours. (Ed says I get over excited when I stay up past my bedtime) Went through the motions at the gym. Came home, showered and hopped into bed. When I looked up it was 1 pm.
I forced myself to go down to my studio and work. I mounted a customer quilt on the long arm and left it. I pulled out an unfinished piece I had assembled a few seasons ago and looked at it for a while.

This piece was started as a result of another, using dimensional leaves, leaves folded or rumbled and stitched down. I had all these templates I had drawn and cut out so I assembled a few scraps of materials, cut them out and fused them and the silhouettes of their shapes to this piece of recycled pillowcase.
When I realized the fold lines of the pillowcase were not going to iron out, I threw it in the "later" pile.

For want of any other ambition I started micro stippling the background to anchor fresh batting to a canvas backing. And to my satisfaction the fold lines disappeared when they were stitched over.
Well this started to become a little more interesting.
So I have been hopping from my Janome to my Juki, trying out how inconvenient two machines were going to be. The Janome is set for satin stitching and the Juki FM.

So I started "tarting up" the leaves.

On a few I simply accentuated the pattern on the material. The olive green is tiny circles, the brown, swirls. Then each was tightly satin stitched.

This one is just cross hatched. I may go back and double the density of the hatching.

The slim silhouettes are satin stitched on either side, some times in 2 colours.
There are still a number of very bright and important leaves and I have yet to decide what motifs I will put inside. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow I'll work on this (after shoveling the snow drift from my from walkway) or maybe I'll start quilting a customer's quilt.
Right now it's time for a glass of wine. Dinner is ready thanks to my dear husband.
Thinking about beading the whole thing.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Small Things are Also Beautiful

While this is not the first time I have created these pieces, each time I choose different fabrics and now I'm applying extensive beading as well.
I spent several relaxing evenings, beading each one, feet up, a glass of wine at my elbow.
(And today I vacuumed all the beads that ended up on the floor.)

I was given this book as a Christmas present. I certainly enjoyed reading it and learned some "better" techniques for my beading. I don't put a lot of beads into my work, but some things just call for them.

The pieces are simple silhouettes, heavily satin stitched. With a few beads they need nothing else.



Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Gallery at Le Beausoleil

I'm lucky to have my own gallery. Unfortunately its on the other side of the country in my sister's B&B. But it has enabled me to move a lot of pieces.
My sister recently rearranged the display and sent me these photos.
Who could ask for a greater sister.!!


Crimson Stars

I just finished piecing this queen (90insq) sized quilt this afternoon.
It sat as a UFO for about a month while I decide what I really wanted. This was originally a pattern for a throw. I really liked the pattern but not a throw so doing the math I increased it to a Queen. Or so I thought. I was short one fabric. It was reordered.

As unpatriotic (and unsupportive of my local fabric stores as it sounds), I order 90% of my fabric from the states. I cannot pay $12 -$20 a yard to make quilts. This one cost me no more than $150 in materials, batting and backing included.
I could rant about the import duties in this country but this is not the forum.

But I fell in love with this piece as soon as I saw it.

So I don't have a repeat of the last disaster, I shall refrain from even mounting it on my Long arm until I'm absolutely sure how I want to finish it.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Move over McGiver

Somewhere in my "stuff" I may have a speed controller for the Juki.
BUT in the mean time, regulating the stitch speed for free motion work, while not a necessity, is something I've become accustomed to. But how to fix this machine.
Examining the foot pedal, I found its structure was such that there was a gap between the pedal and the housing.


 I cut and fit a piece of mouse pad. Now it should restrict the movement of the pedal, and therefore the speed of the stitching.

If this works I'll replace it with a piece of wood.
So far, so good, but the test will be when I get into a 2 hour session of microquilting! Stay tuned.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Salvaged Batik Quilt

The strange thing is, this was very close to my original idea for finishing this quilt. Why I rejected it I will never know.
I could never quite decide whether to think of this as modern or primitive. The batiks drag it into the modern but the block structure and colour, make it quite simple.
I continued to find threads on the LA, more threads while I added the border and more threads when I went to photograph it. I think a quick spin in the dryer with some loose batting will capture the remainder.

So this one is done and I'm happy with the results.