Friday, May 25, 2007

More mosaic progress

How much adhesive does it take to mosaic a 4' X 2.5' area?

Precisely one small bucket. Imagine.

That felt as good as running out of bobbin thread AFTER sewing the long borders on a quilt.

The weather finally co-operated today and I managed to get the last bit of piecing on the mosaic. It's really BIG. I still have quite a few pieces of dish and tile left, but I think they'll go on to a new home now, perhaps in the bottom of plant pots, or even to the (gasp!) dump.

It's been rainy and cold here the last couple of days - even when it wasn't outright raining, it was still very humid. I wanted to have the sun on this honey for a little while before I got working on it as the adhesive will work much better if it remains dry.

The photo below is of the mosaic from the top of the steps, looking down. Now imagine me with a bucket of damp laundry, and we have the complete picture...I am really looking forward to getting easy access to my clothesline back. The one thing I didn't think about in this whole endeavour was how long I'd not be able to get at hanging the laundry out. Sigh.

I can't grout it until Monday, as it needs 72 hours for the adhesive to cure. So, I'll cover it up with plastic for a couple more days to protect it from dew and rain.

The grout is dark grey/blue, so it'll be interesting how that works with the different colours of tile. I have a hunch that the blue tile will almost disappear.



Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More mosaic

I'm a little embarrassed. I completely lost track of time and didn't get dinner on the table until almost 6:30. I knew DH was going to work late, figured we'd have a Hunter's Dinner (you know, hunt around the fridge for some leftovers - or failing that, eggs), so wasn't thinking about the logistics of getting food together.

What happened was...once youngest and I returned from the hospital this afternoon (he's okay...we are going back in the morning for a hand X-ray, however) I pulled the plastic off of the mosaic and started thinking about the next row. Youngest found that he could, with eye protection and his hammer, quite capably break tiles into usable bits for me to work with. Whoo hoo! said I. He broke tile (I did say he was okay, didn't I?) and I placed, moved, glued and replaced. It went really, really fast with his help! We got the green, red and the brown/beige waves done before oldest got home at 4:30. Once the boys were together they got busy making Artist Trading Cards (there's a swap on Sunday and Don Mabie had sent Oldest a wonderful package of cool stuff about cards and about correspondence art in the mail - got him full of fire about it all over again) and I continued assembling this behemoth.

Note to self:
When starting something new using a technique never played with before, start SMALL.

The boys were in the house, busily making cards and listening to Queen (!) when I looked at the time - 6:15! No wonder I could hear them getting snacks ready! ACK! Well. Finished the row, covered everything with plastic again (in case of rain) and blew inside to make whatever was in the fridge look appealing.

Well, we had eggs.

Here's what it looked like just before I pulled the plastic over it for the night.
While working I thought of some more things to share:
  1. Outline shape first, then go back and fill in an area. The shape has much more definition that way. I try to lay the shard edge right along the pencil line, then backfill the shape.
  2. It's a lot like quilting. The aim is to keep the spaces between the shards the same (like meandering, we try to keep our lines a consistent distance from each other, even when we're going in all sorts of directions).
  3. I'll be using a sanded grout. This is because the spaces between the shards are not a consistent 1/8". If they were, I'd use non sanded grout. This is a useless thing at this stage as I'll have to wait 72 hours for my adhesive to cure before even applying the grout...and I'm not done placing my shards yet.
  4. Starting small for a first project is probably smarter.
  5. Just a note I probably should have put in yesterday...because this is an outdoor project, I'm using outdoor adhesive and grout. I'll also seal the whole works once it's done with a tile sealant.
  6. I used tiles of the most consistent depth over the area I'll be standing on most. This is so far the flattest part of the mosaic. I do tend to hang out my laundry while in bare feet.
There you go.
Back to the quilty goodness!


Victoria Day weekend

I had a good chuckle with the woman at the hardware store on Saturday. I was buying tile adhesive and grout so that I could get started on this mosaic I've had in mind for quite some time. We were talking about how we need a break from work every so often, even when we really love our work, just to recharge our batteries. She asked what I was up to for the weekend, if it would be a break - and I told her that I was starting this mosaic. She laughed and said, 'So I guess you're working anyway. Aren't you still putting pieces together?' - she has a point.

Anyhoo, I've been saving broken dishes and tiles ever since we moved into this house, hoping that someday I'd build us a picnic table top. After talking with DH, we decided that a picnic table is probably something we'd want to be able to drag around the yard and having a mosaic table top probably would make it too heavy. Never easily discouraged, I kept saving broken dishes.

DH built me a place (with steps!) to climb up on so that I can better reach the clothesline (I love my 'solar dryer' ' there's nothing more luxurious to me than climbing into clean, sweet smelling sheets that were dried on the line) - this was a big improvement, as I used to stand on an upturned log. Yes, for 8 years (the log was a birthday present to me one year, but that's another story). The platform to stand on was just crying out for SOMETHING, so, remembering the big box of broken dishes, a plan was hatched.

Now, I've never done this before and if I ever do again, this will be considered one of my 'early' mosaics...not the smoothest process so far, but it is coming together.

Things I've learned:

  1. It's a good thing it's not a picnic table top. The broken dishes are many different thicknesses, and the final surface will not be smooth flat, not by any stretch of the imagination. One would not want to balance one's wineglass on here.
  2. Working in the hot sun is not a good idea. The adhesive dries before the pieces can be assembled on it.
  3. Have enough of the colour you are using broken into usable bits ahead of time. Otherwise you will be hammering away at dishes while the adhesive is drying (in that hot sun).
  4. 7+ years of broken dishes does not amount to what you though it would, once all the useful pieces are separated from the way-too-lumpy ones. It's a good thing I'm really the only one who will be standing up here! (see item 1) - not smooth surface)
  5. Lay out the area to be done, then move all the pieces, then apply adhesive to the area, then move all the pieces back. In my situation, any deviation hoping for time saving measures will have the opposite to desired effect (read: it took me most of the blinking day to get this much assembled). If this were not such a big piece, I'd lay everything out on a drawing of my layout (to scale), then move them area by area to the adhesive covered surface.
  6. When using more than one colour, it would be advisable to break each colour individually and store them in colour sorted buckets. This would eliminate the need to hunt through a wheelbarrow full of sharp (!) shards looking for just one more piece of green...
  7. Wear eye protection. And hand protection (I wore acid proof gloves - thus the gorgeous tan lines at my wrists - see item 2) hot sun).
  8. Do not, under any circumstances, start thinking of what colours of dishes are still in the cupboard, chip and crack free. This is a dangerous road to go down. Call your friends instead. You'll be surprised how many of them have boxes of broken dishes sitting around that they'd be happy to unload on you.
There are probably things I've forgotten, but that's what springs to mind this morning.

While I was preoccupied with my piecing, DH built a simple arbor for the grapes. Every year we have difficulty as our grapes need somewhere to go, but have nowhere. They end up covering the fence and growing big long vines out from the fence by several feet, then on to the ground. There was no where to train them before, but DH came up with this clever, simple solution. He built simple brackets, screwed them to the existing fence posts, then strung wires across the tops. Part of the afternoon yesterday was spent pruning the grapes and getting them to run along those wires. It's not the greatest photo, but you get the idea. This is the part of the yard we tend to sit in during the summer months, so it will be really nice to have it looking a little less woolly and wild.

Back to stitching,


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Quiet here in blogland

Sorry it's been so quiet here at LISA QUILTS this week! Things have been busy in my non-computer life and I've had to seriously limit my time online, with email and all those other things that magically eat up the minutes.
I've been rather disciplined that way. (Can you see me patting myself on the back?)
I'm quilting up a storm here for customers, but not too many are interested in having photos of their work published here (isn't it amazing how many people are working on gifts right now? Is it just me, or does it seem like more than usual?).

One thing I've been playing with in my spare time is helping out an online friend of mine who has written a pattern for a class she'll be teaching next month. I'm part of the team of pattern testers - omygoodness - this is so much fun! While the quilt we're making has more piecing than I think I've ever done for a queen size quilt, it's going well and I'm really enjoying the final outcome. Just a few more hours of piecing and my top will be done! Considering my not-so great track record for getting a scrap quilt done each year, I may just meet my goal this time around (and before the year is half out, can you imagine?).

I got the sweetest thing in the mail this week from the school where I got to teach Self Portraiture last month. A great big envelope full of drawings and thank you notes from many of the children who participated in my class! I had to wait in line at the post office the day it came and made the mistake of opening it there, while I was waiting. It was so sweet to have all these wonderful letters in my hand that I had to really work to not cry. There's nothing in the world like feeling like you've made some connections, and that those small people will go on to explore new things because of it. What a gift it is to have the opportunity to share.

Hope you get close to your sewing machine this May long weekend.

Happy Victoria Day, all you Canucks out there!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

7 Things Meme

Well, I've been informally tagged by Debra for the 'Seven Things About Me' meme that's been going around and around, not having done one like this I thought I'd give it a whirl...

(maybe the only)Seven things about me:

1) I drink a lot of tea. I mean a LOT of tea. It's probably the main liquid in my diet, followed closely by V8.

2) Although I have the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been (bar none), there are times when I feel very isolated and lonely for the anonymity of the city...miss the hustle and bustle, the fact that I don't have to plan to buy milk before 8pm in the winter - I even miss the cement and traffic. As much as I love it, there are times when the world here seems too BIG.

(okay this coming up with 7 things is harder than I thought)

3) I still keep in regular contact with about 3 people that I went to high school with (one of whom is now my sister in law). All of my good, long term friendships have been formed here, in Nakusp. Who knew that a big puddle in the mountains would wind up with so many like minded people?

4) One of my greatest joys in life (and hardest jobs) is being a Mom. It's given me amazing perspective on my relationships within my own core family, and I think that where I am right now - looking forward as a Mom, looking back at being a child - is a tremendous gift. I hope that at least some of my insights come close to personal truths. One never knows, though, does one?

5) I consider myself an artist first, and a quilter second. Not in the snooty 'capital A - artist' way, either. I don't think that artists are a club that you have sold a certain amount of work, or be cryptic or eccentric enough to get into. I think it's an avocation (in the 'calling' sense), that anyone who produces art is an artist. I regularly tell the kids in my art classes that they are artists. Because it is true.

6) I really do almost never sit still. Just ask my parents.

7) I am ambitious and competitive. Hopefully not in the bad sense! I've been known to walk away from situations where I would have wound up competing with people I care about, and from tremendously unbalanced situations. That being said, I take failure really, really hard.

Here's hoping you get some time at your sewing machine today!


Monday, May 14, 2007

Bye bye

Sold my motorbike today. *sniff*

Mom's day at camp

Yesterday DH, the boys and I went down to DH's family land down the lake. We are so lucky to have access to this parcel of land on the waterfront! Camp has been there for 19 years as of August...through my association with the family it's been part of my summers since I was 19 years old. The boys have been going there their whole lives. I don't think they can imagine life without this magical place.

I spent an hour or so yesterday morning putting together food and cleaning supplies and we went down to open camp.

The photo at left (the view of camp coming up from the beach) is taken once we got the roof on the She-bang (I've never known the origin of the name of this's a free-standing lean-to with no walls, just a roof and a loft). Under the She-bang is a summer kitchen (which we didn't get all together yesterday as we didn't bring the trailer with the cupboards, etc., in it,); we scrubbed up our BBQ and prepared it for an evening cookout.

Oldest found a bleached partial fish skeleton during our first beach walk of the day - pretty cool, quite long (about 14" including part of the fish skull). All the vertebrae remain together, which was pretty neat. Most of the rest of the fish bones we found yesterday were disarticulated. The photo here was an attempt at showing the porous nature of the bones. They've certainly been outside all winter, under the snow and are very weathered (and now totally dry).

We looked at all kinds of amazing rocks. Oldest is a bit of a geology hound, so we're always on the lookout for unusual rocks.
Friends of ours joined us later in the day for dinner and as it turns out, the Dad was a geology major in University! So we got to identify most of the specimens we had collected from the day. This perfectly egg shaped rock is really a conglomeration of all the things that we usually see in granite (which is what most of our town area is made of), just in a but of a different proportion than we're used to seeing here. Horneblende, calcite and quartz.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that we live in a valley that was flooded 30+ years ago as part of the provincial hydroelectric development, that we live on what is, essentially, a reservoir. Because of the flooding we get to occasionally see amazing things like this tree stump, upended and beached at high water last year. Huge and magestic at about 9' tall and 18' across, this root ball is balanced perfectly on it's trunk. Over the years that we've lived here we've seen less and less of these beautiful giants as time has cleaned them away...each year more are dredged out of the lake at the various dams and it takes severe weather and cumulative erosion to release new ones into the lake.

They're a result of the scalping of the area that had to happen before the flooding. There are areas in the lake right now that, if you glide over them in the canoe, are the remnants of ghost forests, submerged fields of stumps with fish darting amongst them and sand around them instead of moss.

Up in the woods, things are bursting with new life. I went on a walk to fetch water during the day yesterday and had to go back to get my camera. The bracken ferns (all the other ferns too) are slowly unfurling right's beautiful.

My new camera lets me take pictures at an extremely close up range, so I was able to get this pic of the fern curl. Later in the year the ferns are so thick and indestructible, but at this time of year they are babies, still, like most things in the forest.

One of my favorite things here is the wild ginger that grows along the edge of the driveway. The ginger is a protected species, as its habitat is being eroded. It's the sweetest little plant, and as you can see in bloom right now. Once a year, two heart shaped leaves host a red, three petaled flower. It's never a huge showy thing, there are never fields of red flowers. A person could walk past a group of 100 little plants and never see a flower - you kind of have to hit the right season, and know to look. The little plants grow very close to the moss and in amongst other road-edge type ferns and plants. The first photo here is of a plant a little out of it's usual element... I'm used to finding them in larger groups, in mossier areas, as in the second photo. The first plant stands about 8" high - I put the camera right on the ground to take the picture.
The second plant seems shorter, but that's partly because of all the moss. It stands about 6" high. It's in a larger group of like plants. I hope you can get a feel for their strange, delicate little flowers from the pictures.

If you crush a piece of root, it has a sharp, earthy ginger smell. I have no idea if it's related to Asian ginger or not.

Mother's day was wonderful. We spent almost the whole day outside after a hearty pancake breakfast cooked entirely by Oldest son. He's taking to this cooking thing and quite liking it.

Youngest showered me with all kinds of generous-hearted things (including setting the dinner table for the rest of the month - usually something on the allowance list as a paid chore). I'm a very, very lucky Mom.

Here we go, into another busy week.

Lots of quilting to do, and paperwork, too.

Happy stitching,


Friday, May 11, 2007

New DigiQuilter releases

I just had a peek over at Jodi's digital pattern site and see that she's released 4 more of my patterns in digital format. You can see them there: Asian Dragon, Automotion, Briar Rose and Koi...apparently Koi has been available for a while, I just wasn't aware of it.

I didn't blog about it last night, but I got to go over to a friend's house where about 13 of us started putting together a group quilt for a friend of ours who is about to undergo surgery to give her sister one of her kidneys.

The group was a lot of fun and a lively mix of accomplished quilters and complete non-sewers. What an absolute blast! We're putting together a floral quilt, each doing a block with some manner of applique flower or bouquet on it. My DH is out of town so I took both boys with me and consequently had to leave before everyone else was done. I got a call this morning from our organizer (also a good friend) to say that not all the background blocks are the same size - GULP! Can you believe it? I cut some of them a full inch too short!
I'll be recutting those in about 10 minutes. Aargh.

It's gift quilt season and I'm busy with many different groups (in varying capacities) helping to put together group quilts. I really love this, but it's an organizational nightmare from my end. For the groups that I'm helping organize one group has 25 participants, another has 15+, and yet another I don't really know yet just how many people are hoping to participate. I'm having a hard time keeping them all straight in my head.

The amazing thing about these group quilts is how tremendously significant they are to the recipients. Even non-sewers really 'get it' when a huge group of people rallies together like this to make something so deeply personal for them.

Quilts like these are a true gift from the heart.

Have a great day,


Thursday, May 10, 2007

More ATC action...

I had a few moments here and there while waiting for the potatoes and carrots to cook, so worked on adding some ink to the ATCs I stamped the other day and to the new fir cone one (I did the cone one this afternoon while waiting for my bobbins to wind.) I think the secret to getting things done is being reasonably well organized. I have many, many (*many*) projects in various states of construction at all times, with most of the things that they need incorporated nearby. When I get a few minutes (sometimes literally 2 or 3) I'll either pick up the next project or check that the things needed for the next step are ready to go.

I'm starting to really like the stamped ATCs. I have one more to finish using the first of the circle stamps (see two posts ago) - it needs some colour oomph yet...I'll do that one sometime this weekend.
I'm also pleased with the way the fir cone came out. It's a bit abstract, but I thought it was okay for a first collage idea.
Our boys were totally impressed that I thought to carve up my shoe to make stamps...they want to know when I'm going to cut up the other one. I've got my eye on vinyl erasers to make letters now - won't they be impressed! I do have some old lino kicking around here somewhere from my block printing art school days, but it's probably too old and brittle to be much good anymore. There are also some blocks I made to print Christmas cards when we were first married that could probably translate well into fabric stamps if I could only find them (and if they're not too brittle by now, too).

The circular theme is interesting (again, see post before last). I'd not only like to explore that further, but also the kinds of shapes that we saw from the air that were, on closer inspection, subdivisions. The repetitive geometry was beautiful. - Actually, the concentric arcs in the stamp are from the idea of the cul-de-sacs that we could see in one area. At some point here I'll start working with the shapes separately. Right now I'm enjoying the juxtaposition that one is a farming shape, and one is a more urban shape - macro in our world, of a huge scale that only really made sense from many hundreds of feet up in the air. The two industries are placed further and further apart, and yet, they fit together so well in a spacial context.

I love the compact efficiency of the circle. I was really amazed to see it used in farming on such a large scale - but in terms of irrigation and other machinery's efficiency, it makes complete sense. Many of the farms here have big linear rolling irrigation systems, not ones set up on a pivot. One of the beautiful aspects of the circular fields was that from the air we could see the service roads snaking in and out and around them, some in grid fashion, some just sinuous roads that were outgrowths of function, not of form.

Hopefully someday we'll have the opportunity to fly over Colorado (or anywhere else with so much to see) and I'll be in an aisle seat, with my camera and sketchbook at the ready. In the meantime I'll just have to make due with this faulty filing system I call a memory.

Sleep tight,


Gotta love this business

Only in the quilting business do we get the opportunity to enjoy Christmas at many times of year!

It's bright and sunny outside, the lilacs are budding, the tulips are blooming, it's 18 degrees Celsius and I'm here in the basement quilting snowflakes into this sweet Christmas quilt.

This one is done using Flurry, with a wool batting. I was listening to a wintry book while quilting...and was very relieved to walk upstairs into the sunshine!

In amongst all the customer quilting I'm doing to catch up (don't worry ladies, things ARE getting done) I've been taking a few minutes here and there to work on my artist trading cards. I'm determined to have a few to trade for the last Sunday of the month - if I'm here, that is. I might be away again. We'll see.

I've also been playing with inkwork on the cards that I stamped the other day. They're coming together - some nicer than others. I made one today that's a fir cone out of torn handmade paper mounted on a different colour handmade paper, painted with fibre dyes. Once all the inkwork is done on them I'll post photos. While Mom and I were in Kamloops I picked up the most recent copy of Cloth Paper Scissors and my head is now busting with ideas for ATC's. There's a great article in there about altered recipe cards that's got my head spinning with ideas, too. I did a couple quick sketches and hopefully will get some time to work up some cards based on those ideas at some point during the next few days.

Back to the machine...more glorious quilts to work on!

Happy stitching,


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Back in the swing of things

Here's a couple of photos taken at the Shelter Bay Ferry landing on Sunday during the trip home. The lake was gorgeous, the weather mild. We're so lucky to live in such a beautiful place! Granted, it IS pretty isolated...especially in the winter time.

Mom headed home yesterday morning, and I got busy unpacking and trying to get the shop back into presentable shape. For those who I met at the show - it's a home based shop, and although I have regular visitors, there are times when it looks more like a quilting studio than a quilt shop!
Finally, today, it is starting to get back into decent shape. I think. I guess my visitors will ultimately be the judge of that! :)

While we were away, I got a chance to replace some inside work shoes I've worn out. Now that I have the replacement, I've started cutting up the old shoes to make stamps for fabric and artist trading cards. They were harder to cut up than I expected! They're made of stern stuff...but it's perfect for stamping.

Although the design looks like it's inspired by the part of the shoe it's cut from, it's actually a shape that's been cogitating in the back of my head since Jodi and I returned from MQX. Below us (while flying into Denver) were these wonderful circular fields. After talking to Mom we decided that they must be like that as a result of the type of irrigation used there. Jokingly I said to Jodi that we should do Denver quilts or Denver patterns...and haven't been able to get the shape out of my head since. The stamp that I carved out is a modified shape, not the exact shape of the fields we saw. I have a hunch that this is going to be part of a series of related shape stamps.

Here are some artist trading cards and fabric stamped earlier today, waiting for embellishment.

It's good to be back.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Well, we'll be getting in the car a little later to return to Nakusp after QuiltBC in here in Kamloops.

I've never been to a large Canadian show before, and this one was amazing! We had several exhibits within the building (including the Canadian Juried Show) and many, many more in town for people to see. The organizers did a phenomenal job (from my point of view).

My booth was really busy! I got to meet people from all over the place, including several ladies I've corresponded with for some time now. I'm starting to think that quilting really is just one big network.
Although I was busy selling fabric most of the time, I did get a chance to go and see the juried show, the invitational, and the North meets South show quilts by Gloria Loughman and a Salmon Arm area art quilter Wendy Browne (thanks, Deb!). All were well worth seeing.

By the way, If you're looking at my fabrics in the online shop, I haven't had a chance to update them to reflect what I sold out of yet. Please bear with me! I'll get things updated the next chance I get, and a new opening page as well.

My cherub quilt was very well received, and I look forward to talking to more people about the inks and dying methods. Drop me an email, ladies and gents! I'll be putting together a package about the class we talked about!

And, although I did take pictures of wallpaper, carpet and tiles this time, I didn't have a chance to post them...

Itchin' to get stitchin',