Saturday, July 28, 2007

I AM a finisher, I AM!

Do you remember this project? It's been languishing outside under a sheet of plastic for almost 2 months. I started it when the boys were still in school, thinking it would be a weekend, maybe a week-long project....Ahem.

Yesterday morning I got up bright and early before the heat hit for the day, bit the bullet and grouted it.

Some of what has taken me so long in this front is spare time at the wrong time...sometimes I've had time, but it's too hot (the grout would set too fast), it's poring rain, etc. I actually got my supplies together on Canada Day and was going to grout it then, but realized I had about half as much grout as I thought I needed. After 2 weeks, the grout came in, and yesterday everything came together. Finally.

The top photo is of the mosaic before the final polishing. I started out applying the grout with a trowel, but found that to be really tedious. After a while I found myself applying it by the handful, working it in with the palms of my hands (have I mentioned how many pairs of rubber gloves I've wrecked on this project?). I smoothed it over afterward with the proper grout squeegee thing.

The second photo shows the mosaic half cleaned, the lower half of the tiles have been polished.

This photo gives a better idea of how much of a difference the polishing step makes. The left half of the tiles have had the grout clouding removed, and the bits of debris swept away, but not so on the right. ( You can click the picture for a larger version).

Now I spritz it with water periodically over the next 3 days (usually while my tea is re-heating), then seal it. With no rain in the forecast, this might just work out.

Whew. See? I am a finisher. Really I am.

(Had to include the gratuitous kitchen photo. I've always loved distorted images...this is our big pot on the stove. I happened to look up while petting our dog and saw this great, distorted view of our kitchen. Luckily I had the camera right there.)

Happy stitching,


Friday, July 20, 2007

Overdue but not late

I was lucky this past May to be part of a group who were pattern testers for new pattern called "Grandma Cora's Quilt".

We were helping a lovely lady named Carol work out the kinks in her adaptation of an antique quilt found by her LQS owner...I say we were helping her work out the kinks, but in reality she had things very well worked out! All we were helping with (really, I think) was timing each of the steps so that she could teach it at the shop she works at, in Tipton IN. Since she is now in the process of teaching the class, we can all let this one out from under our hats!

I took the photo of the first step (putting together the centre) to show how incredibly much things 'shrink' in the construction process!

The quilt took well over 1000 squares.

It was really, really hard not to share my progress each day as I worked on went together really well, and quite quickly by my standards (in a week of my spare time, while still getting quilts done for customers). It was so exciting!

You may be surprised, but there is no strip piecing in this quilt, at least not the way I did it. I subscribe to Bonnie Hunter's Scrap Users System.
I already had a HUGE bin of precut squares of the right size - and only had to cut a paltry hundred or so once I got out into those last, big, outer triangles. I started running out of variety in my reds and had to get some other fabrics in there!

From a scrapbuster and stashbuster standpoint, this quilt was a winner. I did spring for the border fabric and for the setting triangle fabric, but the squares were all from fabrics in my stash.

The final quilt is pretty big, about 96" square. The final photo here was taken with the quilt on the ground and me standing on the trampoline.

Sadly, it has remained a UFO... and will for a while longer. I've got lots of customer quilts to get through in the next couple of months (many that are beautiful and exciting, though!) and this beaut will have to wait. It might be a good one to quilt this winter, when the light is so cold. It'll warm me up just looking at it!


Nice surprise this morning

I got up today to discover that Rhonda has nominated me for the 'Rockin' Girl Blogger' award! Whoa!

I feel unworthy as I've not been blogging all that much about my art or quilt work lately...mostly personal stuff. It's been hard to put up things about the quilts for customers as some of them are in progress, some are gifts and shouldn't be revealed yet.

Thanks so much Rhonda! Now I've got to get busy and deserve my nomination!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Catching up on some homework

I've been a baaaad student. My last projects are about a week overdue! Last night I burned a little midnight oil and worked on one of the last projects from the multimedia surfaces class I've been taking.

It was really hard to stay up late! I am, by nature, a night owl. Since September I've been getting up routinely around 6:30 am in an effort to turn my circadian clock a little, into more of a diurnal setting. I've found that, in the last month or so, it's finally been starting to happen! I was not holding out much hope at this stage of the game - I mean, it has been 9 months that I've been consciously going to bed earlier (most of the time) and getting up earlier (99% of the time). This week was the first one in which I woke up at 6:30 am WITHOUT THE ALARM CLOCK. And got up and stayed out of bed! I'm pretty notorious for getting up, walking across the bedroom, hitting 'snooze' and going back to bed without waking up enough to remember it. Not my husband's favorite of my habits.

I hope my late night last night didn't blow everything.

The course I've been taking is finishing up. I didn't do all the projects, but most of them. We did some plastic fusing work that was interesting, but didn't strike my creative bone. One of my samples didn't work all that well, either, and I wasn't turned on enough by the overall texture to work out the kinks.

The sample shown here is done with Etal, a stitchable metal product. It's got body like stiff card and was surprisingly easy to work with! I used my sample piece to make a 'padfolio' as Sue Bleiweiss, our teacher, does in the class. I can see using this particular surface for all kinds of reasons...I sense at least one book and maybe a small art shrine in my future!

Now on to the last project...


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What we've been up to

We've had a really busy week.

Last Wednesday the boys and I drove to Castlegar to deliver quilts. The weather has been tremendously hot! Castlegar has this amazing outdoor water park in the old downtown area that we spent a good chunk of time at after running all our errands. As you can see, the boys were grateful for the cool water and the chance to run around.

We've been finding time in the evenings to go to Camp, one of our favorite places. (I wrote about it in my mother's day post) The boys have got new fishing rods this year and are looking forward to learning how to use them.

The weather has been so hot that we've been comfortable swimming until well into the evening.

Thursday and Friday last week I worked as a volunteer in Artist's Hospitality for the Music Festival here in Nakusp. ( If you go to the website and look at the gallery, that's me on page three with the balloons. Last year I worked in the family area, the 'Kid's Zone'. Talk about fun. There's nothing like the look on a child's face when you give them a balloon!) They have a sweet setup...if you volunteer for 2 shifts, you get your weekend pass for free!

I was very lucky and got to work both my shifts before the festival opened, so we got to go whenever we wanted. We stayed home in the mornings each day to get a little work done, then went in the afternoons and evenings. Some of our all time favorite bands were there... and the boys got AUTOGRAPHS! It's the first time I've ever stood in an autograph lineup in my life, but man, was it worth it to see what it did for the boys to meet the musicians.

The boys got their shirts (and Youngest's hat) signed by the Blues Brothers revival and, in the photo here, by all the members of Skavenjah - a wicked cool Canadian Ska band. We've seen Skavenjah each time they've played our music festival and it's always awesome! (My calves are still sore from jumping...)

The Festival is pretty darn big. Our little town has about 1600 - 1800 people. Music Fest brings about 6000 people to town! We live within two blocks of the beach and park (festival site), and right next to the schools. In order to accommodate all the people, the in-town campground (also right near our house) is sold out, and all overflow is in the high school and elementary school fields...this area becomes tent and RV city for 2 1/2 days during the festivities. Almost every lawn and driveway has someone camping in it.

We're close enough to the site that we're on one of the roads that is restricted to local traffic (we do let our friends from further up the hill park in our driveway, though!). All things considered, it's not TOO loud. We can hear the music clearly at our house, and people don't tend to stay up partying too late.

This year the boys had an iced tea stand at the end of our street, right by the campground and high school fields...they made a killing! They shut down on Sunday because they ran out of ice and iced tea. Big plans for next year. Big plans.

One of the other things that was going on in conjunction with the Festival was a sandcastle demonstration by an award winning local sand and ice sculptor, David Ducharme. It was really magical to watch this develop throughout the weekend! The sand at our beach wasn't quite suitable for the kind of fine work that he does, so they brought in sand. Behind the sculpture there was an area where the kids could play with this soft, silty sand and make their own mini-masterpieces.

Because of the heat, we spent a portion of our afternoon at the beach each day, swimming and cooling off. Although the pictures are a little dark, the day was bright and intense. Most days this past week we've been in the top 30's, temperature-wise, and have had to take special care not to get overheated (especially with all the dancing!).

I've included here a long overdue quilt photo. This is of a quilt that I got the opportunity to do recently for a nearby school. The Home Economics (do they still call it that?) teacher led the students to do a 'snippets' quilt based on a photo that she took of the Valhallas, a local mountain range and protected wilderness area. The quilt came out so beautifully! I thought you might enjoy a peek at it. The border is taffeta - a little nontraditional, but supremely effective. There are two narrow panels that go with this central large one; the small panels have blocks depicting activities people do here, as well as animals and other things local. The three quilts will hang together in their school. Beautiful.

Well that's it for us right now. Sorry not to post for so long, but I just wasn't spending all that much time at the computer.

Back to the quilts, then back to the beach!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I apologize for the lack of 'quilty' posts lately!

Just got my hair cut...quite drastically...wonder what DH will think?!?! Mwaaahaahaa!

Notice that Oldest was not tempted by my short locks to follow suit....

It's stinking hot here. I think it's 36 degrees today. All the better for jumping in the lake, my dears!

Oh, one more hour of quilting, then we'll go.



Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer days

Our days right now are pretty idyllic. The boys have swimming lessons every morning (at the same time - whoohoo!), so I've been getting up early, working until we go to the pool (outdoor, whoohoo again!), then coming home to work a little more before we head to the beach for a bit. We've lived here 12 years and I feel like this is the first time in a long time that we've managed to get to the beach as much as we should, considering we live only 3 blocks from it!

Last night I went for a walk around 6:30 with my sketchbook and camera. I've taken a lot of pictures of my feet over the years, and mostly on this particular rocky beach.

I've been taking advantage of the boy's swim time to work on drawings for work (patterns, etc.). I should probably should have called the patterns 'swimming lesson lines' or something as I tend to plant the seeds for the year's patterns while the boys are splashing around in the pool.
For some reason I can design Christmas patterns, Hallowe'en patterns, all kinds of things while sitting in the blazing heat.

Our raspberry canes are coming into full fruit right now. Oldest picked this handful to go on his breakfast cereal....I did the same a little earlier in the morning. Delicious. There's nothing like berries fresh off the plant, still sun warm.

I've been using my beach time to work on drawing. It's been years since I focused on it as a skill unrelated to other things (IE: designing things, schematic drawings, patterns) and it's been a really good exercise. Here are some offerings from the last couple of days: A drawing of Saddleback Mountain followed by a photo of Saddleback and the ridge from a slightly different angle. The photo was taken a little west of the public beach (more toward the mouth of Kuskanax Creek for those who know our area). The drawing was done from smack-dab in the middle of the beach, looking up on what was a hot and cloudy day. The photo was taken last night on my walk. Yesterday was steaming hot here (36 degrees!) and the sky was slightly overcast by evening. Still hotter'n blazes, though.

The last drawing is of Oldest, at the public beach, building sand castles. The sketchbook I'm working out of is a gift that he gave me for Christmas this past year.

I'm looking forward to catching up on my Mixed Media Surfaces class. We just got our last assignments - sniff. It's been a lot of fun and I'm going to miss it when it's over.



Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Incense box

Here's the first of the projects from our 4th multimedia surfaces classes. Believe it or not, this surface is made from dyed paper towel!
I worked really hard to keep the colours light in this, - something hard for me to do. I tried to work in a bit of an unfamiliar palette and am not sure how I feel about the results.

The project was actually to make a vase, but I needed somewhere to keep my incense for the bathroom in my shop space...

Mmmm. Smells pretty.

Sorry about the lack of progress photos, but I really just had to get on with this one. Work is great, but it's calling me loudly!

Yesterday was one of those days where I couldn't make anything go my way, work wise. Thread breaking, tension problems...I did a lot of ripping!
I hope today is a fresh start. Days like yesterday make me want to hang up my seam ripper and snips.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Accordion book 3

Here we are, finally finished and with better photos than last night's. Nothing like trying to take pictures in the dark!

Here are all three views of the book, closed and open.

Happy Tuesday,


Monday, July 02, 2007

Accordion book 2

Never having done an accordion book before, I was really intrigued by the idea of the connected pages. I liked how they were all connected, yet could be presented separately as well. I was inspired in part by the book cover being made by tree bark...and thought that as I know next to nothing about the life cycle of the silkworm, that I'd do the life cycle of trees (after a fashion, anyway).

We live in what is at times a very conflicted part of BC. There are many, many families that make their living from deforestation, and many that make their living from reforestation. There are a few strong souls that seem to be able to bridge that gap and see that they are both part of the same industry, but those are not in the majority in my experience. Both sides tend to be quite militant that their way is the right way. I thought that the connected continuous pages gave an opportunity to look at the life cycle of forestry, both as a continuum and as separate views of different parts of the continuum.

Of course this view is mine, and is therefore oversimplified...there were no trees injured in the making of this book (except for the ones felled to make the paper. Oh, and perhaps the Mulberry tree that gave up some bark for the cover)! :)

Here are all the pages of the book, shown separately.

A few notes about construction here:

If I'd known that this was the direction the illustration would take, I'd have not used rivets to attach the pages. I probably would have done the paintings, then glued the pages together and applied the cover. The rivets are a bit distracting (not to mention tough to paint around!). I do like that their colour is tied in, though.

The painting is done with watercolour, then overdrawn with india ink using a dip nib scratch pen. I love the character of line that this pen gives and have never found anything like it, ever. It is still my favorite drawing tool ever, after all these years.

The goal with the pages was to have drawings that could stand reasonably well on their own as individual compositions, but that also had their place within the whole.

By the way, I named the book, "Tribute to The Lorax" (a wonderful book by Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss).

I really enjoyed this project and will be quick to try something like it again. It's interesting that once I got my head going down this kind of no-words storytelling path that other ideas started presenting themselves.

For the record, I did read up on Silk Moth life cycle, but decided that it didn't quite fit the format. There are 4 distinct stages in the Moth's life, and I couldn't come up with a way to stretch it into 6 distinct frames without overemphasizing something or making it awkward.

Oh - and the pages for this book are 4" square. Depending on your screen, you may be able to view the pictures much larger than they are in real life...I saved them quite big (in pixels) for the curious types who like to click on them and look at the enlargements.

At the end here you will find the book, each side in its entirety.

Now tomorrow I need to attach the closing tie, then the project will be done...only a week overdue!

Happy trails,


Accordion book

As part of the mixed media surfaces class I'm taking through Joggles we are working with Mulberry bark to make an accordion book. This is the first project I've ever used Mulberry bark for, and the first time I've made an accordion book...
The covers are made from painted and layered bark stitched together with a Timtex or Fast2Fuse layer, then some wool felt. I learned to do foiling this project and put a little silver foil on my cover (truth be told, it's not quite what I was going for. I'd used the foil glue to stamp 'kissy lips' on the cover, but when the time came to apply the foil, I kept trying to use it upside down. It didn't work that way! I reread the instructions that came with the foil, then promptly did it wrong again. And again. Finally I put some Misty Fuse patches over top of the foil glue, and tried again...still upside down. At some point the light went on in my pea brain and I got it figured out. I'll have to try the foil lips on something else...).

Part of making the tie for the book involves stitching over several long pieces of fibre to create a cord. I used my rolled hem foot for this - very slick. The fibres were held together and rolled as I stitched them, creating a very evenly coloured, strong cord.

I haven't put the chord onto the book yet. I'll do that after drawing on the pages.

Rather than glue the pages together, I riveted them. In hindsight I should have glued them, as the rivets are probably going to interfere with the illustration that I want to do in the book. Hmm. I might have enough watercolour paper left to make a new set of pages.

Stay tuned.

Oh, PS:

Yesterday was Canada Day (for our International Readers) ...had to add this last photo of youngest after he finished the sack race at the park...summer is here!