Christmas in Cricket County-New Stage

1503887_715254378499188_45221920_n[1]In November, I was asked to make a chicken and a juke box for the Christmas play put on by the Pathway Community Church youth.  I roughed out the chicken before I left for two weeks in AZ, visiting my daughters families in Chandler and Show Low.

After returning, I decided the old stage, made of burlap painted to look like a log cabin interior, needed to be replaced.  It was too messy, shedding burlap with every move, and allowed back stage actors to be seen through the walls when backlit. Plus, it needed to be pinned onto the pvc stage framework  every time it was used because there were no casings sewn into the wall panels.

Almost all the materials for the new stage were donated by local businesses: several used flat sheets from local motels, plywood for the wooden bases from builder Rodney Roberts, and holes drilled in the bases by Buckeye Hills Career Center. Large sheets of pristine cardboard for scenery was donated by furniture maker Lee Bauman.

chicken onlyjukeboxI turned final finishing details of the chicken and jukebox over to others.  The chicken grew feathers and the juke box sported bright paint, thanks to Donna Mullins. Meanwhile, I began sewing the sheets together, creating casings at the top of the wall panels to hang from the pvc pipe framework. A friend, Mindy Allie, gave me free run of the room above her garage to paint the sheets a light brown to strengthen them and create the neutral background needed for the café and future plays.

Stage Scenery-Booth Stage Scenery -CounterResearching for the interior of the café, I decided that the local 50′s café Park Front Diner in Gallipolis would be my model. I traced the enlarged photos of the counter and booths onto a page protector, simplifying the design somewhat. I used an overhead projector to transfer the lines to the primed 4′ x 8′ cardboard panels and painted them in an orange, brown and green color scheme, given that  Cricket County is a rural kind of place, after all.  Park Front’s trendy hot pink, black and white wouldn’t work.

Here are some photos of the play with country and city cousins in the midst of their own brand of Christmas craziness, but with a message about Jesus and the Gospel to cap it off.

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January 2, 2014 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

French Art Colony Silent Auction

Appalachian Ohio Fiber Guild Contributes Wall Hanging

???????????????????????????????Our fiber guild completed its second group wall hanging and donated it to the French Art Colony in Gallipolis OH, to be sold at its Silent Auction scheduled for March 2.  Members of the guild each created a 9-inch block in their choice of medium, and a construction committee (Marlene Gruetter, Mary Payne and I) designed the setting to display the skills of our members.

???????????????????????????????We decided on a triptych–a set of three banners with curving sides, using grey satin, charcoal grey felt and turquoise accents. I provided the quilting to stabilize the banners, as well as sewing on the tabs to hang the panels from a black dowel rod with turned finials. I discovered how beautiful quilting on satin can be!  And that it was tricky to get all three panels lined up properly and hanging straight!

While I was still working on the quilting, I took the work-in-progress to the February guild meeting to give them an idea of what it would look like. One of the members commented that it reminded her of a gentleman in pinstripes with two lovely ladies on his arms!  I love it!

3 FAC Wallhanging 2013 (Medium)We hope this handsome trio will find a new home at the Saturday Mardis Gras Celebration and Silent Auction, and that the French Art Colony will have a generous buyer!

March 1, 2013 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

Passing of Carol Miller, Founder of QuiltUniversity.com

I just read with sorrow of the passing of Carol Miller, who founded QuiltUniversity.com in 2000. For me, this online instruction was the principle source of most of my quilting skills, especially those I use regularly for art quilts.  Over the years, Carol gathered more than 50 world-class quilting instructors, and created the means for students from all over the world to benefit from their expertise.

"Sky Ponies" Attic Windows--My first class

“Sky Ponies” Attic Windows–My first class

I have taken 13 Quilt University classes from many internationally-known quilt instructors, and I have personally benefitted from Carol’s expert advice when I was “between classes.”  I always found her comments constructive and helpful.

"Two Doors" Upside Down Applique, Surface Embellishment,

“Two Doors” Upside Down Applique, Surface Embellishment,

I have never counted, but it seems to me that QU offers maybe 75 classes throughout the year in piecing, applique, pictorial, quilting design, dyeing, surface embellishment and software techniques, as well as project classes for garments, accessories, and other fiber/fabric items.  Classes range from two to six weeks, and printable materials are exceptionally well written, with excellent photos. Discussion boards and class galleries allow interaction between students and with the instructor throughout the class.

Man and Dog (face and hands painted, dog thread-painted)-Upside Down Applique, People in Places, Machine Embellishment

Man and Dog (face and hands painted, dog thread-painted)-Upside Down Applique, People in Places, Machine Embellishment

One of the things I liked best was hearing from my fellow students from other countries!  Quite an experience for someone living two hours from towns of any size!

Quilt University will continue to offer online courses, and also continue to be a worldwide community of quilters who are alumni of its many classes.  Thank you Carol, for your influence on the lives of so many!

Below are some of the quilts I made as a class project or using techniques learned in Quilt University classes.

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March 1, 2013 at 12:55 am Leave a comment

Finished My Block for the Fiber Guild’s Group Project!

Eight Ladies and a Key?

Eight Ladies and a Key?

Just finished this 9″ block about two hours ago.  It is my contribution to the group project the Appalachian Ohio Fiber Guild will donate to the French Art Colony. Their Silent Auction is March 2, when our wall hanging and more than a hundred other items will be auctioned off to support activities at the FAC, where we hold our monthly meetings.

We have 12 blocks in all, contributed by our members who spin, crochet, knit, felt, tat, weave and quilt.  It is quite a challenge to combine such a diversity of techniques into a unified artistic endeavor!  We do this by specifying the size (a 9″ square block) and the use of the same color palette–black, white, grey and silver.

In constructing the block, I used clipart for the raw-edge appliqued women and key. All but three of the images have multiple layers of felt to raise them above the surface of the black felt background. I used shreds of iridescent fabric behind the icons to link them visually and to accentuate the key, which is top stitched in a coordinating iridescent metallic thread.  The wild hair is variegated yarn. The entire block is edged with satin cording. Although the photo shows light tan squares, they are actually  light gray–it must be a trick of light that changes the color.

First Construction Meeting (1)This year’s construction process is going much easier than last year’s.  There was so much to learn about what worked and what didn’t, in how we combined squares from our members. This year, my friends Mary, Marlene and I actually decided on the overall format (three fabric panels, hung from a single rod), agreed on the background fabrics and cut patterns for each panel.  Mary agreed to sew the panels, and Marlene and Mary both took fabric swatches to look for beads and accent fabric.  Meanwhile, I went to Arizona for two weeks!

Tomorrow we meet to attach the twelve blocks to the three panels of fabric.  The two outer panels are grey satin, the inner panel is grey felt, and these background panels will be accented with pieces of iridescent turquoise fabric (the same I used in my block.)  I’ll post a picture later!

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February 19, 2013 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

Christmas Daisy?

Dec 21 Snow (Medium)We returned to Ohio very late on Dec 20 from a 3-week visit to  Guatemala (more on that later). We woke up to snow on the ground, and snow continuing all day. Not much accumulated, but it was amazing, nevertheless, after the sun and warm temperatures of Central America.

Daisy in the Snow, Dec 21

Daisy in the Snow, Dec 21

I had to take a closer look at what seemed to be a late-blooming Shasta Daisy, and sure enough, it was! (Look dead center in the photo at right, beside the snow-topped solar light.)

It was still there, unharmed by the frigid weather, on Christmas day. Goes to show–persistence pays off!

Christmas Daizy (Medium) We were thankful to arrive home safely, with all our luggage, and to be met by our friend April, driving our pre-warmed car!  One thing I re-discovered on this trip is that Security at the Guatemala International Airport has different rules than in the US.

My makeup bag contained a pair of cuticle cutters that was passed without comment in Columbus Ohio, but was seized in Guatemala.  Seriously!  The blades were maybe 1/2 inch long.  Their regs say “scissors” whereas in the US, I think anything with shorter than 2″ blades are OK.  Last year, I lost a favorite pair of embroidery sissors, blade length of 1″.  Live and learn!

Ironically, after returning to smooth (rather than cobbled) roads and sidewalks and a reliable water supply that can be drunk straight from the tap, Gallipolis had a water main break on 4th Street, with a 12 hour boil advisory once the water came back on!

Travel and new horizons are wonderful, but last night at the candlelight service of Pathway Community Church, I found myself thinking, there is no place on earth that I would rather be!

December 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

March 2012 Fiber Guild Meeting

Where We Create

One of the  Fiber Guild 2012 goals is  to share “Where We Create,” with a visit the workshops/farms of each member.  We began this circuit of member homes at my home, located on a hill overlooking Gallipolis and the Ohio River.

Mr. Toad’s car from the French Art Colony’s children’s theater production of “Mr. Toad’s Mad Adventures.” April 2012.

I am primarily an art quilter, but also make traditional baby quilts, as well as oil/acrylic painting and puppet theater props. Recently, I created the scenery and some of the larger props for church and children’s theater productions.

First quilting area in TV room-only 6′ x 9′.

Several years ago, my quilting activities covered 3 rooms, with separate areas for sewing/quilting, cutting  and ironing. The sewing area at the end of the TV room was only 6′ by 9′, with very little space for storage of fabrics and supplies.

A year ago, Chuck and I converted a bedroom/storage area into a dedicated quilting studio that also serves as a painting studio and prop workshop.  This area has a mid-arm quilting machine, large work table for cutting fabric, a 6′ x 8′ design wall and multiple storage units.

9′ x 12′ studio provides cutting, quilting and sewing stations, with plenty of storage.

Although I sometimes piece in the earlier quilting area, I usually set up a small table in the new studio for my portable sewing machine.  The work table, a repurposed dining room table, is on casters and can expand from 4′ square to 4′ x 6′ to allow batting to be sandwiched between backing and the completed quilt top.

The mid arm quilting machine, a Tin Lizzie 18, is a sit-down model, where the quilter moves the quilt by hand, rather than moving the machine over the quilt mounted onto a 10′ floor frame. This setup is more practical for me. It takes up much less room and allows me to work on several projects at once. It is easy to quickly move one quilt aside to work on another.

The room has excellent lighting–cool white bulbs in the overhead light as well as in the goose-neck floor lamp. Morning sun coming through the windows gives a warm glow to the room. Storage units include two Sauder cabinets, two antique chests and an Eastlake highboy dresser.

FAC Silent Auction Wall Hanging

Marlene and I reported on attending the French Art Colony’s Silent Auction Fundraiser, held at the Gallipolis Moose Club April 7.  We went to see the fate of the 2′ x 4′ wall hanging donated to the FAC by Guild members. The process of making the wall hanging can be found on the Fiber Guild blog here. Look for Part 2 and 3 to complete the creative process and and later installation at BTS in Gallipolis. OH.

The Moose Club was decorated for Mardi Gras, with lots of tinsel, bead necklaces, masks.  The buffet table featured New Orleans style foods—Yumm!  All those attending were given a mask and beads to look the part of revelers.

Winning Bid–$250!

Bidding for the hundreds of donated items was fierce, in some cases. During the evening, guests wandered around the perimeter of the buffet room, looking at the goods on the tables and walls and writing their bids on those they wanted to take home. As the evening wound down, the attendees were notified of the countdown to the closing bid: 10….. 5….4…..3…..2…..1  Bidding closed!

A group of friends purchased our wall hanging "The Gathering" in memory of one of their number who died this past year.

Fiber Guild Show-N-Tell

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March 16, 2012 at 1:43 am 2 comments

Deer Out My Window

I am starting a new quilt today–I had my local quilt club’s mystery quilt all packaged, three bobbins wound and I was ready to go, when I noticed my cat Squeek staring intently out the window.  Two does were outside, not 20 feet from the house!  I rushed quietly away to get my camara, but when I returned,  Squeek had lost interest and the deer were moving on out of sight.  I tried to get a quick shot, but somehow the camara was set on movie and the does were too far out of sight along the house to get much but 2 seconds of a sun-bleached deer moving into the shadow.  Bummer!

I had a little trouble with my TL 18 last night, which persisted this morning.  Somehow, after winding bobbins, the needle would not go at all!  I tried all the tricks I knew, then called my dealer.  We tried a few things, none particularly related to the problem but this time, when I pressed the foot control and at the same time, turned the hand wheel, I could feel a little surge in the speed of the handwheel as the machine started working.  Thank heavens!

So, I know what I will be doing for the next few hours until Chuck and I walk down to the grade school to pick up our grandson, Garrett!  The “boys” will be finishing up on a woodworking project–painting a golf putter and practice hole.

This quilt will be about 5 1/2′ by 3 1/2′, a good size to fold at the foot of my bed, to be opened if I have cold feet when I finally tumble into the bed after late night insomnia prowling.

One interesting thing I will be trying on this project is adding a border to the back side that exactly matches the location of the front border. I have discovered that if the backing already has a border before packaging the quilt, there is the problem of getting the two sides centered correctly so the front and back borders line up exactly.  Tried that before, drove me crazy.

So this time, I am going to quilt the pieced center, almost to where I want to add the border, then stitch around the center section to show where the border should be attached to the back.   I plan to flip the quilt over, position and then  sew the left and right sides of the back border using the previous stitching as a guideline. After I flip the side borders over and secure them, I should be able to add the top and bottom borders, then flip them and be ready to quilt the borders all around the quilt.  Hope it works!

October 7, 2011 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

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