Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Daytona and Orlando revisited

Some of my fondest memories of growing up in Orlando are of our trips to Daytona Beach.  Family trips with the cousins, high school trips with friends, and of course Spring Break in college.  You could drive on the wide, sandy beach, and  I remember cars being parked 3 deep!   But times have changed.  The beach is much narrower, there is a charge to drive on the beach now, and the board walk is about one-fifth the size it was and it is now concrete, and the pier is not what it once was.

Still it was great to walk in the sand and test out the water.  I picked up a few shells just in case I get around to creating a journal  "art" quilt of this photo of toes in the water.  
 I was determined to find a sweatshirt to wear to Alaska.  So a hoodie from Daytona Beach it was!  One final stop as we headed out of town....the Krispy Kreme for donuts.  Almost as good as a quilt shop stop!
You have to search Orlando to find the best spots.  This is a view of Lake Ivanhoe and the park the city has re-developed.  I loved the way the curved palms frame the old oak.  My Dad would take us skiing on the lake on Sunday afternoons when we were growing up.   We also stopped by Lake Eola Park downtown, which is really beautiful.  
 And Friday night treat was a sub for dinner from Gabriel's.  They have been in business for 55 years, and the subs still taste and smell the same.  Original and unchanged....lunch there was worth the trip.The sub shop is next to my high school, which has changed a lot.  Overall, College Park has changed a lot too.  There are now huge condos on Edgewater Drive, and only a few of the art deco buildings remain.   
I loved growing up in Orlando and I am glad I have wonderful memories of it.  I will remember the best and just forget the rest. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Some history and photos

We visited St. Augustine, the oldest city in the nation.  We arrived late and got directions to a small place in the old city area.  In the dark we managed to get lost in the tiny alleys, so we just parked and set off on foot.  We ended up at Harry's, coming in through a small courtyard to a lovely setting and great meal.
The next morning we headed to Castillo de San Marcos, the large military fort, that guarded the early settlement and built in the 1700's.  It is built in an odd star shape and originally had a moat.  The walls are of coquina, the native limestone that is made up of tiny shells.  

On the upper level, the bastion, where the guns were, I spotted a fern growing out of the wall of coquina.  You can see the tiny shell bits and even a piece of pottery embedded in this section of the outer wall.   
 Across from the fort was the old city settlement.  The tiny houses were built close and the streets are very narrow.   The area now is the usual tourist shops and places to eat, but the Spanish architecture is still evident.  Behind one shop we saw this small courtyard area...very lush and tropical, and I love the old brick paths.

We spent the afternoon at the lighthouse, and Russ made it to the top.  Originally the light was fueled by melted lard that the light keeper heated and carried up those 218 steps to get to the top.  I could barely lift the bucket, much less carry it up the spiral stairs.  He also had to do the cleaning and maintenance of the light.  I did not know that each light house had a distinct signal pattern, as well as  outer color paint to identify it.             
A final view of the light keeper's house.  The live oaks were absolutely huge and dripping with Spanish moss.....very old Florida.    
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a quilt shop....of course.   I had to check it out and purchase a couple of things!   There was a quilt on display called French Roses.  The pattern was no longer available or I would have grabbed it!  Actually it is a very simple raw-edge applique technique done in layers.  The stitching was about 1/4 inch from the edge of each layer of the rose and so it appeared very soft and shabby chic.  Another idea to file away to use at some future date.
Happy stitches!

Home Sweet Home

We  just returned from our visit to Florida and I see Blogger is having photo issues.  They promise to return all my photos soon!  So I won't even try to upload anything right now. 
A trip is fun, seeing new places is great, re-visiting memories is bitter sweet, but returning home to the one place on earth where you are content is priceless.  I don't care if I  have wrinkles;  I don't need a fountain of youth because I have a little bit of heaven right here.   I am so thankful for home!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Heading South....

The first day of Spring was this weekend and it turned cooler again!  We decided to go ahead with our plans for a quick visit to Florida after I saw the doctor for an ear infection that developed over the weekend.  So we leave for a few days in St. Augustine to tour the Old City, the fort and lighthouse, and search for the Fountain of Youth!  I hope it helps my winkles.  And then to Orlando to see friends and family. 

I have about half of the watercolor stitched and the center area is pieced together too.  I have been looking for flowers to applique in the center.  This is one of the photos of poppies that I found and may use to sketch.  Wow, that is strange for me to say.  Two months ago I would not have even thought about developing a sketch for the applique.   I would have hunted for a pattern to copy.  I do believe the Art Quilt Workbook has made a dent in my attitude. 
Insight:  May I never grow too old to be willing to learn.

Till later....happy stitching!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Art Group's First Projects

The Thursday morning art group meet today.  What an amazing bunch!  Each of us took the lesson and went in different directions.  It was great to bounce ideas and share techniques we used from our past experiences.  We are all looking forward to the next chapter.  So, here is what resulted from the first project.

This is Maureen's fan-dancing frog.  Her theme is "F words"......we think.  We loved the bright red her dancer is wearing, too.  Would you believe the fans are cut from an old pair of curtains?  She has tacked them in places and left the edges loose.   Maureen's dry humor shows through in this one.
Sandy had a piece of fabric that inspired her first project.  The tiny turtles--good perspective--are buttonhole stitched on her machine.  Her husband suggested the border treatment stripe from the sun fabric.  It really sets the design off.  I just love the serene mood of this piece.
This is Evelyn's project.  Her theme is trees and a scripture to match.  We all liked the colors she chose and the way her inset made the design pop.  She used a lot of the techniques in the chapter---overlapping, color values and the inset.   I would call this piece dramatic.

Jaylyn's theme was easiest to guess....Oriental.  She also has a wonderful collection of oriental fabrics.  Her design shows the most perspective I think.  She used a gray-black to create the shadow underneath the kimono, buttons, and the band with symbols.  Just that tiny detail of shadow gives so much dimension to this piece.   The overall project is so striking.
Ok, this is mine and I have showed it before.  My theme is England--a country I want to explore.   This is my
version of Stonehenge that I call Ancient Ruins.  Enough said.  Great work, gals.  
 Elin, the group knows you are checking in on us....they are interested in your comments.

I can't wait to see what we all come up with next month.  I shared my pair of pears, the good and the bad, as a forewarning of what to watch out for when they chose their fabrics.  We have 2 exercises and another project in the series this next month.  We should all be quite busy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New page added

I added a new page, Designing a watercolor wall quilt.  It's not a complete tutorial, just basic information on how I develop a design.  I put on photos of the  piece that is currently on my design wall, as I worked on it.  About one half of it is done.  I will plan to update the new page as I finish it. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Red Pear

The Red Pear is  quilted and needs a binding, but I wanted to share it because the quilting turned out so well.  Stitching on batik and moire fabric in the background can be a nightmare.  I used Isacord thread--oyster color.  I had no problems , no breaks at all.   
I ordered several other colors from red rocks thread and it arrived already today.  Can't wait to use it to quilt my french braid quilt.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Knaresborough Bridge

When I first began researching England through photographs, I mentioned the pen and ink drawings that I had framed which Russ' great-uncle had done in England.  This is a photo of my favorite of them.  I thought it was of a large gate or entry arch  over a road. It is marked "Knaresborough  1935".  I love the view of the houses and steeple, and the tiny touch of greenery that is highlighted with watercolor.   When I had it framed the framer thought the paper was hand made and mulberry paste had been used to put it onto scrapbook page. 
Next photo, please....... this is a cropped photo found of the Knaresborough Bridge  in England.  It is a large and well known viaduct.  What I thought was a  road is actually a river!  Note the duck on it.  The shrubbery is much larger now and trees too,  that were not in the pen and ink drawing.  But the top of the viaduct and buildings are unmistakable.  The angle is not quite exact, but is so close. 
I am not sure how I will use this in my series of art quilts.  I need to play with it a bit in photo-shop and see what develops. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Photo for second exercise

I decided on my photo for the second exercise for the art quilt group.  It is a pottery jug that sits on my front porch.  It  belonged to my husband's mother.  I love the shape and patina and the chipped edges.  I am not sharing my first sketch....a second one is called for.  Like I said I am not a great artist, but working on learning.  Anyway, I think I will try this in blues rather than the black/gray palette.   I think I will used a crazy-patch style background for it, too, and try to get the shadow worked into it .
While I was taking photos, I also took one of this stone in the front court yard.   A few months after we moved to this house, my girlfriend from Florida came up to help me get a start on the beds and entry area.  Doreen and I hauled stones and sand, and planted the ground cover and shrubs  to create a court yard entry.  This is one of those flag stones.  It is a natural scene right in the, mountains, and  valley.  Some things can't be improved upon. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Art Projects and Beautiful Spring day!!

We have had 3 beautiful Spring days!
 After cutting back some lavender and the large rosemary bush, I discovered a wonderful clump of miniature iris!   Beautiful purple with yellow throats.
We expect some rain (yea!) tomorrow and  so Russ is planting some seedling trees we have been tending in pots for a year.  
Now on to quilting.....and the art project exercises.  The first exercise in Chapter 3  of the Art Quilt Workbook is to create a pear from the photo and pattern using fusible applique.  No problem, I can do that.  I thought I would just pull out a box of scraps and find what I needed color wise and be done soon.  The pear is ok...not great..and I made it worse when  I grabbed the wrong background  fabric.   The medium light is too bluish, and the highlight just gets lost in the background. 
What not to do
So back to the stash and a whole different direction.  I pulled out reds and decided on a purple for the shadow and a paler background.  Much better, actually I think it is good.   The pear had distinct shape and contour even.   My photo doesn't show the highlight very well, but in real life it pops.
This is much better
I will finish this one off as I like it a lot.   So, Elin, if you read this....did I get it right?
Insight:  Try and try again.  Learning is a process, even in quilting.
I have been busy snapping photos of simple objects for the next exercise and then I have to draw my own version and create a pattern.   Probably will have another what to do and not do with that one too!  That's the learning process. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Art quilts in the works

My project for the Irish  landscape class now has a border.  I ended up using a fillet inset in a muted batik and then adding the dark border in the regular manner.   I just did not like the stark,dark against the landscape for some reason.  I preferred the slight transition of the inset.  Looking at it, I am very pleased with the hills and mountains.  All the work with color and value in my watercolors quilts helped after all.  A View from the Parkway  just needs to be quilted.  Oh, and Shirley has it featured on the Learning fiber arts group page.

The first project from the Art Quilt Workbook is almost done too. Ancient Ruins, remember?   The goal was perspective using at least one technique.   I used color value and a bit of over-lapping.   I decided to only use a border on 2 sides, and I think it helps push the perspective.   I used raw edge applique with straight stitching, and the sky fabric is a hand painted piece I did last summer.  Actually, I did  not paint, but splattered and misted with water.    Now to read the next chaper and figure out what to do next!

Just a final tease.....Spring has to be coming.  Another crocus  head popped up today.  And there is lots of yard work to be done.   I am ready and looking forward to it.  Happy stitching.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Work in Progress...jewel box scrap quilt and tutorial!

This is my current evening project.  Looks like just a pile of  bits and pieces.  And it really is.  Lots of 2 1/2 inch  and 5 1/2 inch squares  from the scrap boxes, and strips and squares of a black tone on tone   of which  I had quite a lot of yardage.   
It is well on its way to  becoming a jewel box quilt.

       I have a jewel box quilt I did from the early 90's---the background is muslin and the fabrics are very dated and muted.  It is one of the first quilts I machine quilted and I do love the size.  It is just right for a nap size quilt.  So it is time for a new updated version. 
I ran across the directions that I had torn from a magazine years ago.  I recalculated the measurements to use 2 1/2 inch squares because I had lots of those.  The large squares needed to be 5 1/2 inches to give me 2 HST units ( half square triangle units) that will measure 4 1/2 inches to use in the block. 

Here's a quick tutorial for a Jewel Box..........
The first step is to create the 2 patch unit of black and the scrap fabric.  Cut a 2 1/2 inch wide strip of the background fabric--in this case the black.  Using the  Eleanor Burns method of chain piecing, place a 2 1/2 inch square to the black strip. That will give you lots of 2 patch units to cut apart and press open.    Then 2 sets of 2 patches are joined to create a 4 patch unit.  The 4 patch unit measures 4 1/2 inches now. 

What about the 5 1/2 inch squares?  First mark the back of the black squares --the background--  on the diagonal, corner to corner.  I also mark 1/4 inch on each side of the first line---these are the stitching lines.  Since I am piecing on the featherweight it is easier to take the extra time for a good sewing line.  Pair up a black square with a 5 1/2 inch square of scrap fabric.  Stitch on each stitching line.   Cut apart on the first drawn line.  Now you have 2 HST units.  Square these up to 4 1/2 inches and press. 
Once all the units are completed, they need to be joined
to make the basic block.  It is still just a simple four patch block.  Just get the placement of the black correct to make the pattern work.
The block should measure 8 1/2 inches when assembled. 
    From the photos you can tell I am still stitching the HST units.   So the second part of the tutorial will have to wait till I get enough blocks assembled to see the overall setting.  That could be a while since I only work on this in the evenings while watching TV.   So, guess it  will  be a mystery ..stay tuned to see the results.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Irish Landscape class

This is from the on-line class for the Irish landscape....only I did a view from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  A very easy way to create a landscape, just by using strips, a lot of stitches, and some yarn/fibers.  Selecting the right color and value took all the time.  The strips are sewn to a foundation and then stitched some more. 
I have been down with a stomach virus and didn't get much done yesterday.  I picked out the border fabric  this morning and hope to get it added today.  The border is added in a different way--as a whole piece rather than in strips.  Will see how I like doing  borders that way.  It could be a good way to finish off the art quilts.
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