Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another Bit of E-Book news!

I am very pleased to announce that I have an article included in the new Interweave e-book, "Text On Quilts".  Please stop by the Interweave Store and check it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild retreat (recap)

Cake, or not, this was the theme of the weekend for the group of SAMQG members who traveled to the Deep Woods retreat center in Smithville TX for the second annual retreat.  With quilt makers and scrapbookers in mind, the Deep Woods facility was ideal for our retreat:  a large building with great lighting, plenty of design wall and table space, a dining room with commercial kitchen directly off the work-area, and 6 bedrooms, each with a full bath, in separate hallways off the opposite side of the work area from the dining room.  Each room had 4 twin beds, which were very comfortable (I'm embarrassed to admit I was concerned about this:  I'm such a baby!).
The retreat center owners provided a lovely lunch and dinner.  There was a bit of confusion about breakfast, but no worries:  we had enough "stuff" of our own to deal with it.  I believe we will bring some breakfast items the next time we come.
One of the first things we did was make our beds.  We were encouraged to bring a quilt for our bed:  it could be one we made, or one that had some special meaning to us.  Most had quilts that had a wonderful story attached to it.  I loved the quilts people brought that their mother made when they left for college, old quilts that had been acquired by another family member (provenance unknown, but still beloved), and quilts that had been made for another loved one.  We voted on our favorite which was not an easy task.  By overwhelming majority, Erica Mitchell won for the beautiful quilt she made, but had not yet given, her grandmother.  Equally gorgeous on both sides, the quilt is something special!
The group gathers in one of the bedrooms to hear the story of each quilt.

Erica Mitchell's beautiful quilt, made for her grandmother.

My design wall with 2 projects residing side-by-side.

I can't overstate how happy I am with my new SewEzi table.
I placed it at a right-angle to the work table, giving me extra room for my supplies.
My position to the table was perfect, from an ergonomic standpoint.
This has become critical to me since I am struggling with chronic tendonitis and ulnar neuropathy,
all a result of repetitive motion.  Stretch, people!!
I'm adding another little tidbit:  I always carry a Dyna Disc when I go to places with long sitting/sewing
sessions.  What is it?  I discovered this little gem many years ago from a fiber-artist friend.
I bought one to carry along to the many (and I mean MANY) softball games I attended with my daughters.  Bleachers are hard, full of splinters, and this little thing really made a difference.
The other added bonus:  it raises my height a couple inches which helps with the positioning at the sewing table.  Check it out:
Here is the link.

Another shot of a portion of the large work room.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eeek! You SCARED Me!

A set of pincushions at Kathy York's house set me off.
Pincushion on the right sneaked up on Scardey-cat Pincushion on the left,
causing an eye-popping, hair-raising reaction.

It seems I cannot help myself....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

SewEzi Table

My friend Charlotte had a SewEzi table at an annual workshop we both attend.  I was pretty impressed with it, and decided that, since I am struggling so much with tendonitis in both arms from, well, a variety of art-related insults (read multiple activities that have vigorous repetitive motion) this table makes a lot of sense.  One thing I am always bothered by in workshops with my sewing machine is that the machine sits high up on the table, which requires me to lift up my arms at an angle that is not good for the tendonitis.
This table can be positioned at a right angle to a typical workshop work table, so it enables me to have even more room.
Plus, it has custom inserts for the surface:  one comes with the cost of the table and more can be ordered.  I even ordered a solid insert so the table can double as a lightbox!
The tables comes with an impressive travel bag, which protects the table and allows the rolling wheels to remain exposed

Here is my Bernina 440QE seated in the table.
The table comes with one clear insert and straightforward instructions as to how to assemble the 
machine base (onto which the wheels are attached) in order to have it flush with the surface for your particular machine.  Brilliant!

here is the insert

See the skate wheels on the edge of the machine base?  Love.

the table underside, prior to folding up the legs

folded legs, ready to roll!

The cover has two pockets:  one for the clear insert, and I think I'll use the other for storage of an extension cord.

I'm preparing to go to the 2nd annual San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild retreat this weekend.  I'm taking the table with me (along with a truckload of other important stuff LOL) and I'll take some photos of my set-up while there.  I'm excited

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yummy Color!

I just love having a lot of dyed cloth hanging around.  I see it as a semi-blank slate:  something that can be used as-is or layered with more printing, batik, and more.  How about you?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Break Fun

My youngest daughter invited 6 of her college friends to come to Texas for their week of spring break.
My young guests were either from New York City, upstate New York, or Boston.  None of them had been to Texas.  I think it is safe to say that they were pleasantly surprised by what this area had to offer.
It didn't hurt that we are having one of our most beautiful spring wildflower displays in years, and our weather was spot-on perfect the entire week, especially when one considers that they left weather in the 30's!
Here are some pics from the week:
gorgeous bluebonnet display on my friends' property

Here's the group!

great Texas barbeque at Rudy's!

Who knew plastic spoons could be modified into protective eyewear?
a picture of the picture of the...

Fantastic Neopolitan pizza at Dough!
All the New Yorkers said it was the best they had ever eaten.

Napkin trick.

Swimming in the beautiful Medina river...

tree roots squeezing up out of "alligator" rock

I'm not sure what this is...

but the tiny individual buds were gorgeous.


Last breakfast before departure for all but one...

Loading up for the airport.  I'm sad.

What a great group!  I'm going to miss them and want them
to come back as soon as they are able.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Blackboard Paint(ed) wall

I recently surprised one of my daughters by transforming an unoccupied bedroom upstairs into her room.
I wanted to smooth the surface of one wall in the room and paint it with chalkboard paint.  I created a framed chalkboard-area on a portion of one of my kitchen walls and we have had a lot of fun with it:

I really like darker colors in my own bedroom, which is a deep chocolate brown.  With this in mind, I chose a deep gray color for the two end walls, and a grayed-down magenta for the wall opposite the chalkboard.  I was gambling on the colors, but I wanted the move to be a surprise (she was coming home for a visit) and I figure, what the heck:  it's only paint.
The desk is a project we worked on together quite a number of years ago.
I love how it looks in this room!

Here is a portion of the chalkboard wall, with her fake headboard hastily drawn by me.
I hung a utility clamp light on the top of a vintage IV pole.

She was happily surprised with the new digs.  Yay!

One little tip about chalkboard-painted walls:  wait 72 hours before you apply chalk, then "prime" the wall by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk over the surface and "erasing" prior to drawing sharper lines on the wall.  This makes the wall easier to clean.  You can see I was doing this just prior to adding the headboard!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stencil Blog Hop! Check out this Cool Pomegranate Stencil!

All of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's stencils can be purchased at 

When Julie Fei-Fan Balzer invited me to check out a set of her shiny new stencils, I was thrilled to receive the Pomegranate set (large and small):

Maybe you have noticed, but I am obsessed with circles so the pomegranate shape is right up my alley.
I decided to work with the stencils on a variety of materials.  First up:  a used paper towel.
Sometimes the best thing that comes out of a studio workday not what I planned:   Interesting things happen on brush wipes and drop cloths!  The paper towel below was a leftover from a recent workshop.  I admit it:  I dumpster-dove for the used paper towels!
the large pomegranate stencil is positioned over a portion of the towel.
I used liquid acrylic paint on this sample

I picked up the minimum of paint on my brush to avoid depositing a large amount through the stencil.

After the paint dried, I positioned the smaller pomegranate stencil on the towel.

I like the variation of scale that using both stencils provides!

The lovely thing about paper towels is that they can be layered with fusible or gel medium onto paper or cloth.  They turn up in a wide range of places in my work.

Next:  The Recycled Facial Cloth
I love my used facial washcloths (these are Oil of Olay) because they are made from unwoven cotton and take ProcionMX dye quite nicely.  I have done all sorts of things with these cloths in mixed media cloth and paper projects.  I was anxious to see what they would do under a stencil.  
Here is the facial cloth prior to using the stencil.
The color and script were previously created with ProcionMX dye under a silkscreen.

Using a cheap paint store brush I "pounced" orange paint through the stencil.

Once dry, I overlaid more images with black paint.

The result is a nice layered effect with a variety of shapes and textures!

Next:  A concert ticket and a sale tag become a cool gift tag!

this sale tag (purchased at an office supply store) was first painted with a wash of 
red-orange acrylic paint.
A combination of black and white acrylic paint was used to create the mottled effect.

Once dry, the concert ticket was glued onto the sale tag.
These are fun to make and really jazz up a special gift.

Old postcard/new substrate for a collage:
This old postcard was lightly gessoed, allowing some of the imagery to show through.
First, I used the large pomegranate stencil and applied black acrylic paint.

Second, I marked the stenciled edge with a bright pink marker,
then used a combination of black and gray paint through the smaller stencil on the right side.

Last:  Fun on Fabric!
First, using the large stencil with black and white acrylic paint, I moved
across the surface of the cloth.

Second, I placed elements from the smaller stencil into the pattern.

The movement of the shapes, as well as the variation of scale from using both sizes of the stencils,
creates an interesting pattern across the surface of this piece of commercial cotton cloth.

I had a lot of fun experimenting with these wonderful stencils on a wide variety of surfaces.  I hope you will take time to stop by the other participating artists' blogs to see their projects:  

Thanks so much for stopping by, and let me know what you make when you play with your Crafter's Workshop Stencils!