Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jeanne- Claude and Christo, The Artists

Jeanne-Claude and Christo were responsible for some of the most over the top outdoor "art" exhibits that this world has ever seen.  They were a married artistic duo that wrapped the senate building in Berlin  and 11 islands in Biscayne Bay , Florida with yards and yards of fabric and placed umbrellas on the California coast and in Japan simultaneously.  Jeanne-Claude with her blazing red hair died suddenly in 2009. Yesterday there was an article in the Wall Street Journal Magazine about their love and their life's work and how Christo is trying to continue without her.

It reminded me of 2005, when they installed "The Gates" in New York City.  The gates were curtains of tangerine fabric hanging from metal arches placed throughout the pathways in Central Park.  The installation lasted for only 16 days.  At that point in my life, I was an avid walker.  I had lost a lot of weight (over 100 pounds) walking my feet off everywhere we travelled.  I would put on my headphones and joyously walk to the beat of happy music for miles and miles.  I so wanted to walk with my music up and down and around Central Park through all of those gates under the billowing fabric, but we lived in Philadelphia - about 2 1/2 hours away. 

My husband was a workaholic back in 2005 and spent the weekdays working or traveling many, many hours a day and then spent the weekend recharging.  I mentioned how much fun I thought it would be to see the gates.  He surprised me by saying, "let's go".  And so we did.  It was a beautiful sunny winter's day.  There was snow on the ground which made the curtains glow even more.  I walked and walked and walked,  And then took tons of photos.   There were even people in the park handing out 2"x2"  pieces of the tangerine curtains. My husband and I each took one.

Of course then I had to make my own art.  The piece I made was 8"x11".  I printed one of the photos in black and white on fabric. I then stitched over the branches of the trees with brown thread,  the metal posts with orange thread and then I added 3-D orange fabric curtains.  It was embellished with buttons and beads.  I called it "Joyous Gates".

I also made a few ATC's (Artists Trading Cards) using the same technique.  For these small pieces, I actually used the pieces of the tangerine fabric that were being passed out.  (Since I needed more little squares of fabric  than I had, I was able to buy more on e-bay.)

I sold my larger piece during a quilt exhibit, but framed some of the ATC's to preserve my memory.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Is What Spring Should Look Like

A trip  to see a taste of Spring.  Longwood Gardens is in my backyard.  It is the most amazing place and is one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States.  Lots of eye candy and inspiration.  Today is the start of their orchid show and I have to tell you, there were hundreds of different varieties and one was more beautiful than the next.  My favorites were the little ones. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Is This?

Didn't the calendar say it was spring?


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stars For Charity

I like a good cause, and I really like it when I can use my quilting talent to participate. Colleen of Lucky Duck Dreams is a 5 year uterine cancer survivor and is putting together a quilt to raffle off to raise money for her Relay For Life Team.

Click here for more info.
 Recently cancer has touched my life, so I knew I had to participate. I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and try my hand at making my first liberated star block to send to Colleen.  It was lots of fun and took me about 1/2 hour.  Blocka are being accepted until the end of March. 

Liberated Star Block

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Answer to the Quiz

So few of you wanted to stick your necks out?  My jaw dropped when I saw the approximate date of the amazing red and white quilt in my last post.  Are you sitting down?  1890-1910

For more info, check out the Wall Street Journal article.  If you are any where near  New York City from March 25th  through the 30th and you have any interest in quilts, there will be an exhibit of 650 red and white quilts from one private collection. I think it will be a once in a lifetime exhibit - and it's free.   I already bought my bus ticket for the 30th. 

If you want to read more about it, check out the article in the Journal.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Trio of Stuff

I have 3 things to share.  The first involves making quilts for Japan. The tragedy is heartbreaking and the need is tremendous.  But we know what to do in times of crisis.  Make quilts!  I first read about this project on Bonnie Hunters's blog.  Quilter's Newsletter  is collecting new comfort quilts of any size.  They will take care of shipping them to Japan at the appropriate time.  You can read more about it here.  They need to arrive in Colorado by April 30th.  This is a great opportunity to help and maybe try  one of the many free scrappy patterns on Bonnies website.

Now here's my shameless plea.  I was nominated for SewCalGal's Golden Quilter Awards as a book author.  If you think I am deserving , I would be thrilled if you would vote for me. There are a bunch of other categories and other wonderful nominees. You can win prizes.  Take a look and cast a vote.  SEWCALGAL

And here's a quiz.  When do you think this quilt was made?  I'll post the answer on Tuesday and tell you where you can see it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Special Gift

What a surprise.  A package arrived in the mail.  I received this sweet little ceramic box from my sister-in-law Barb. She found it while cleaning out a drawer. It was given to her over 30 years ago by a special person and she wanted to give it to me for inspiration.  Although we are separated by hundreds of miles, she is a faithful blog reader and I love her for that.  Thanks Barb.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My First Book Signing

I had my first book signing today and it was so much fun.  It was at Bitty Kinna's and it coincided with the AQS Lancaster quilt show.  Meeting quilters from NJ, PA, MA, NY, VA, CT and Canada was so enjoyable.  No matter where we are from, we all love fabric.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  Perfect for shopping.

 I was sitting near the front window and had a perfect view of the Amish horse and  buggies trotting along.  Although I cannot go back tomorrow, I signed the remaining copies and left a few quilts from the book behind.  So if you are hitting the quilt shops on Sat or Sunday, go check it out.  Tell Gina, I sent you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prepping For A Trunk Show

I am heading to Valley Forge Homestead Quilters, located in King of Prussia, PA,  for a trunk show tonight.  I call it "One Quilter's Journey" and it starts with the first quilt that I ever made.  So, how do you choose which of your children to bring?  I don't have a list that I follow each time I have a trunk show presentation.  I want it to be fresh and new.  So I go through all of my quilts and try to pick a representative sampling to both inspire and tempt my listeners to try different techniques. Now to pick my outfit.

Quilts, quilts and more quilts!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Love and Inspiration

A friend of mine is a faithful follower of Geninne's Art Blog.   The other day she sent me a link to a little painting Geninne did in what she called a tin box that she bought at a market in Mexico.  My friend told me that I would love it, and I did. 

I own several of these tin boxes or nichos that I bought on a trip to Mexico.  Geninne's creation inspired me to use one of my own. 

People have asked me to share with them how to think outside the box.  So here's a little view into how my ideas sometime evolve.  For this project, I started with a heart theme.  I am partial to hearts.  They speak to me on an emotional level.  I created a tiny little heart quilt and embellished it with sequins and beads. 

But it needed more.  Something to add dimensionality.  But what?  I didn't know right away, but I let it ruminate.

One morning I was reading the newspaper and believe it or not, on the Sports page, there was my inspiration - this photo.

 And bingo!  There it was - a keyhole.  Keys and a heart.  The key to my heart.   That's the inspiration I needed to finish my piece.  I put a keyhole on my heart and added dimensionality by hanging key charms.

"You Hold The Keys To My Heart"

Friday, March 11, 2011

What A Day!

Look what we found in the park this morning!

Bailey went home with Auntie Hattie, and my DH and I went on a road trip to New Jersey.  I will not say anything bad about NJ because we lived there for 11 years.  The best part of NJ is their diners, and we went to one for lunch.
And the  best thing about diners, other than you can find almost anything you want on the menu, is their assortment of desserts:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Annual Auction

Yesterday was our quilt guild's annual auction.  Calico Cutter's  annual dues do not fully finance our speakers, so we have to do some fundraising.  We started our meeting with a presentation of a check for over $3500 to the Chester County Domestic Violence Shelter.  This money was raised from our raffle quilt.  Their representative was quite overwhelmed.

We had our monthly Show & Tell.  I love this part.  Terry Kramzar brought her Ghost Orchids quilt.

It had just won Best of Show at The Quiltfest of NJ, put on by the Mancuso Brothers. Yay Terrry!!!    She made it to commemorate her Artist In Residency that she did last summer in the Everglades. 

Terry has started lecturing.  She talks about her adventures in quilting and shares her nature inspired quilts.  You can see more of her quilts at:

Our members bring food.  Lots of food.  Too much food.

Our members also donate items.  Local businesses and some quilt related businesses donate items.  69 Baskets were made from the items. 
My friend Chrisitine was the amazing auctioneer.

I donated some hand dyed wool and also  some cotton that I snow dyed.  It was the last basket and it brought $60!!!  Vicki was the happy winner.

A good time was had by all and we now have another year of great speakers and programs.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Golden Quilter Awards

It's time for nominations for SewCalGal's nominations for the 2011 Golden Quilter Awards.  There are a bunch of categories and there are tons of prizes.  The prizes are not just for the winners of the awards.  There are prizes even  for people who do the nominating.  And the prizes are amazing.  I am lusting after a couple of the fabric collections.  Nominations are bring accepted through March 15th.

Click HERE to nominate and see the nominees and
click HERE to see all of the prizes.
Share your favorites, whether it be a shop, a teacher, a designer (achem!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Buttons Aren't Just For Mending

Today is the final day of choosing a winner for the Quilt Fiesta blog tour. The last stop is me and I have 2 books to give away.  The winners are:  Carla and Lisa Garrett. Congratulations ladies.

Hooray!  And isn't this adorable.  My friend Barb Sipes brought it to the Open House.  Thank you Barb and it's a fitting end to celebrate.  I'm heading for the cork screw.

I would like to leave Mexico behind for now and return to my love of handwork and embellishing.  Now some people may mistake handwork for hand quilting.  I do not mean handquilting when I say I love sitting down and doing work by hand.  I really mean embellishing and embroidery and everyone once in a while, big stitch quilting.  My pieces are small but intricate.

I discovered these techniques in 2004.  My youngest son left for college and I became an empty nester.  As for many of us, it was a huge adjustment and I really missed being a hands on  Mom.  (Little did I know that the job was not done, nor was the nest empty for long.)  I decided to go in a new direction and I created my quilt -" Motherhood", subtitled  "If I Did Such a Good Job of Giving My Kids Roots and Wings, Then Why Am I So Sad?"

This opened a whole new area of creativity for me.  I loved the handwork and it was a welcome way for me to spend time while my husband and I  spent the next chapter of our lives traveling. ( It also makes you feel less guilty while sitting and watching TV.)

I like to add buttons to my quilts.  It can be quite a time consuming process if there are a lot of buttons to add.  So now I am going to contradict myself and share how I use my sewing machine for sewing on buttons. 

 The discovery of using my Bernina to sew on buttons came many years ago, when my husband told me that his pants were missing a button. Could I sew one on? Couldn't that fancy sewing machine of mine sew on a button? Did it have to take a month? It was just not something that I wanted to put on my "to do"  list.

So with a little ingenuity I figured out how to do it. I dropped the feed dogs, switched to a zig zag stitch and used an open toed foot. Done! 2 minutes! Yay! But then he couldn't button his pants because the button was too tight. Shucks! That's when I learned to place a needle under the button, out of the way of the sewing machine needle so that the button wasn't too tight.

So could I use this technique to embellish my quilts?  You betcha!  Here's my button tutorial .

The supplies needed are: 
1.  An open toed foot for the sewing machine to ensure desired placement
2.  Spray adhesive - acid free is best
3.  toothpick
4.  small sharp scissors
5.  The ability to do a zig zag stitch and drop the feed dogs of your sewing machine
6.  Fray Chek

If I am doing a lot of buttons and their placement is important, I will spray their backs with the spray adhesive.  Since spray adhesive can be a messy and nasty product, I set up a spray station using a box to confine the overspray.  I do not bother with this step if it is only one or two buttons.

Using the open toed foot, drop the feed dogs of your sewing machine (some models have a plate to cover them) and set the stitch to zig zag.
 Place the button in the desired place.  A toothpick is a handy tool for placement.  If the button has been sprayed with adhesive, position it properly before placing the quilt under the sewing machine.
 Adjust the width of the zig zag so that it fits both holes.  Do this slowly by hand turning the needle.  When the proper stitch width has been found, you can use your foot pedal, but again do it slowly and carefully.  I usually zig and zag 5-8 times.

For multiple buttons, it is not necessary to cut the thread and start all over each time.    After I am completely done, I clip the threads on both the top and the back.

And then add the tiniest drop of Fray Chek to the thread on both the top and the back to make sure it does not come undone.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mud Sale Season

What is the coming of Spring good for?  Mud!  And that's why they are called Mud Sales.  In Lancaster County, PA the Fire Companies hold these big sales to raise money.

 The Amish are huge participants. Click here for the schedule. The Bart Mud sale is one of the first of the season and that's where I went with my buddy Ann on Saturday. Almost everything is sold via auction.  There were over 300 quilts.

A peek at the quilts.

 There are horses, antique furniture, crafts, household goods and buggies.  I love going with Ann.  She is not a quilter and she is a BUYER!

A buggy with a green crushed velvet interior.

Working horses waiting for a new home.

Amish on lookers.
 The hall where the quilts were being auctioned was packed.  Standing room only.  People come from far and wide to buy a hand quilted Amish quilt.  The prices are just ridiculous.  Very few of these quilts went for more than $300.  They hoisted up the quilts so everyone could see.  First on the right and then on the left.  They really kept it moving.  Here's a sampling.

Ann bought 3 quilts and a saddle for a pony! 
I bought a yummy creme filled doughnut and a hot dog.