Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Last Project

If you have been reading about my comings and goings for the last 2 months, you know how much I love being in Key West.  Well, after 2 months it is time to go home.  I am ready.  I am ready to see my kids. I am ready to see my friends.  I am ready to get back into my studio.
But, before I leave, I had one last project to do. 
 We own our place and it is rented when we are not here. 
So we have 2 of these luggage racks for our guests. 
 They look tired and dated. I have no idea how old they are,
 but based on that fabric I think they were made in the 80's.
So I made new straps from a bright, cheerful, fun tropical  fabric with colorful pink flamingos.
It gave those luggage racks a new lease on life!
Now I can go home.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The word etchings brings back memories of my mother.  I remember her telling me how young men would invite young women up to their apartmentd to see their etchings.  She never wnet, of course.  Am I dating myself?
On the last day of printmaking classes with Carroll Swayze, we learned about etchings. 
This is how she makes her beautiful art.
(You can read about the previous days here.)
We started by creating our drawing on tracing paper. 
It measures about 3" x 4".
The zinc plate was coated with asphaltum.
 The tracing paper was placed on top of the dry coated plated
 and we transferred the lines with a ball point pen.
This was then placed in an acid bath for etching.
And here is the resulting plate and some printed cards.
You can get some very delicate lines. 
Now it is ready for painting.  I haven't gotten to this step yet.
I'll put it on my list!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Art To Feed Your Creativity

Key West is so full of opportunities to indulge your inner artist.  So many opportunities that sometimes I find it hard to control myself. 
 I could get lost and never find the time to make my own art.
Last weekend, I dragged my husband to an art auction.  The auction was to benefit The Ann McGee Scholarship fund.  All of the art was created by local artists.  They receive half of the auction price and the other half is used to fund projects by other local artists. 
It was quite the event.  The food was beautiful and delicious. And the auctioneer, who came from NH, was so entertaining and did that mumbo jumbo talking so fast auctioneer thing.
 60 pieces were donated and sold. 
 It was a fun and very edifying evening.
During the same week I also took a 3 day printmaking class
 with Carroll Swayze at The Art Center in Key West. She creates beautiful handpainted etchings, mostly of tropical sea life.
We carved and printed with various bases.
 These are the blocks I carved.
First we used them for embossing.

 Then for printing with ink.  These are very cute notecards.
But I had my own ideas.  Fabric was not on Carol's agenda, but it was on mine.  The ink she supplied washed out of the fabric, so I used a paint that a lot of artists here in Key West use -latex house paint!
 My favorite subject. 
 A stylized leaf.
And another favorite subject here in the Keys.
I love how the black paint pops on the bright pink batik fabric.

 What to do with these fabric block prints?
A great funky t-shirt.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If You're In Key West This Week

Thursday night is "Walk On White". It's a big art and social event in Key West.  Art Galleries on White Street and a bit beyond, open their doors and offer wine and cheese to share their most recent exhibitions.  The local quilt shop,  The Seam Shoppe, also participates.  I will be their featured guest.  Woo hoo!  I'll be demoing some free standing conch houses and signing copies of my book.  So if you're in town, come say hi.
Then this weekend, the local quilt guild, Paradise Quilters, is having their quilt show at Sugarloaf High School. If you want to see some beautiful quilts, you need to attend.   I'll be stopping by The Seam Shoppe's booth to sign books from 11AM-1PM on Saturday.  I'd love to meet you!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Alternative Photo Op

If you read my most recent post, you will have read that I had one of my brainstorms.
I don't have that much patience to spend hours snapping photos of birds in the right pose, especially when Bailey is balanced in my bike basket.  I couldn't tell the birds to hurry up and turn one way or the other, as much as I would have liked to.  Some times when I tried to get closer to get a better shot, the darn bird would fly away.  I had a better idea!
My friend Dan is a volunteer at the Key West Wildlife Center.  On his vacation he helps to take care of the many chickens, roosters, pelicans,egrets and a couple of other birds in need.  So I decided to visit him one day to photograph birds that I could get a lot closer to!

A surprise! A resident iguana.
This was well worth the visit.
An idea I may repeat with a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Key West Nature

The other morning, Bailey and I went for a bike ride
with the purpose of taking some good photos to file away for future inspiration.
It is so beautiful here and there are lots of potential quilt themes.


I was happy with my bird photos, especially the ones with the water reflections.
But, as we were riding home, I had a brainstorm.  I'll post about it tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bailey Mosaic Portrait Quilt Post #4

This was my last progress report for my quilt of my dog, Bailey.
  Or should I say Princess?
I am very happy so far.
But as usual, I have to complicate my life. 

I didn't think the original photo that I was using as my road map, was clear enough for the bottom quarter of her face.  So I decided to draw out the bottom half of the quilt for a clearer delineation between her ears and her body.
One square of the graph paper is equal to one square of the fabric.
The values of the pencil shading are equivalent to the values of the fabric.
While working on this bottom quarter using the graph,
 I did make some adjustments, especially to the collar.
This is what the bottom quarter looks like before it is pieced.  Isn't it amazing how much difference a 1/4" seam allowance changes the width? 
I chain pieced each section and pressed the seams so that they all nested together.
And then the final steps:

Finished size: 54"x54"
Quilting will be done when I get back to PA.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's A Conch?

I have received several e-mails asking me "What is a conch?"
Here in Key West, there are several meanings, all related to the conch shell.

People who are born in Key West have the esteemed title of Conchs. To differentiate between them and the newcomers, the natives are considered Salt Water Conchs and you become a Fresh Water Conch after living here for 7 years. It's a badge of honor.

There is a "Conch Republic" flag:
If you want to read about how Key West "seceded" from the US in 1982,
you can read about it here.

The conch shell is also the "mascot" of the high school. Their teams are called the "Fighting Conchs" and the girl's drill team members are called the "Conchettes".  There is a huge conch shell in the high school's parking lot.

There is a style of house down here and they are called conch houses.  Typically they are made of wood, built on pilings and have a front porch. Often they are painted the prettiest pastel colors.

They have given me lots of inspiration.

 And one last tidbit of information.  People each conch - the inside of the sea creatures, that is.
There is cracked conch and fried conch and conch fritters and conch chowder.
I wouldn't know what they taste like, but my younger son is a fan!