Monday, October 31, 2011


We did make it to Orlando on Sunday- Michelle was feeling much better.  We met my sister at her timeshare, then decided to head out to some outlet malls.  I won't bore you with the details, other than I scored some shoes and a few clothing items at Coldwater Creek.  I now know that Orlando is a place I don't need to visit again- it is definitely for the tourists.

After eating a late lunch, we took Carol back to her digs.  The rest of us decided to hit Disney Main Street before heading home to Tampa.  That's about the only time I took photos during the day!!

I saw amazing creations with Legos--

We walked and enjoyed the music and the lights--

We posed in front of the Irish pub--

Sean tried to get Michelle to sit on top of the pumpkin, but she would have no part of that.

Marly and Michelle had fun with this mime artist- he moved around depending on what the people in front of him did.

And that was our day ih Orlando.  Fun, but don't know that I have any great yen to return there.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jet Lag

That pretty much described me yesterday.  I got back Friday night from a week in Florida with my son and his family.  After spending all day in airports and planes, I got to Salt Lake to be greeted by a horrendous Friday night traffic jam.  A trip home that normally takes about an hour took over three.  The joys of freeway reconstruction!!

Our original plan had been to drive to Orlando on Saturday to connect with my sister, then drive Sunday with her to St. Augustine.  Michelle got sick Friday, however, so all plans were off. We spent Saturday at home, pumping her full of medication in the hopes she'd be well enough for a trip to Orlando on Sunday.

Saturday was also my son's birthday.  So, stuck at home, what else is there to do but cook?  (Especially true when a couple of foodies get together!!)  First I made Sean's birthday cupcakes-

Yum- pound cake chocolate chunk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  That isn't just chocolate drizzle decorating them.  At Sean's request, I made this to go on the cupcakes-- dark chocolate covered bacon!!

I was not sure about that one, but tried it- and liked it!  Why not, I think bacon and peanut butter are perfect together.  So what's not to like about luscious dark chocolate??

Before we got to the cupcakes, however, was dinner.  Sean made some special burgers- on a ciabatta roll, with garlic aioli, grilled pears, and brie cheese.  They were yummy!

It's accompanied by a Latin slaw, one of the few ways Marly will eat cabbage.

After dinner, Michelle helped her daddy blow out his birthday candle.  Clearly the medications were helping!!

 A luscious end to Sean's birthday!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Tools of the Trade

Yesterday was the reveal day for the Tangled Textiles latest challenge, Tools.  Here's my interpretation of the theme:

This was my first ever attempt at doing mixed media work.  I used my rusted fabric, other hand dyed fabric, pieces of paper torn out of a dictionary, gel medium, paint, and Shiva paintstiks.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to interpret the theme.  When I thought about my work, the tools always came in secondary.  The two elements that I would be helpless without are my hands and my eyes- so that is the direction I took.  The choice was also probably influenced by my increasing awareness of the value of my hands!  Youth takes for granted their abilities and capacities; most youthful hands perform their appointed tasks with minimal awareness on the part of the actor.  But aged hands show the signs of their long use- creaks, pains, and flat-out inability to do tasks easily done before.  Mine are no exception.  So I have come to value my hands much more in recent years than I did as a youth!

My desire to try this was sparked by an article in the August/September Quilting Arts by Jennifer Solon.  I wanted to try the way of working without creating a piece that looked like it was inspired by the article.  I think I succeeded!  Another goal was to find a way to use my rust dyed fabrics without driving me or my sewing machine crazy.  My hope was that coating it with gel medium before I did any stitching would lock those tiny metallic particles into the fabric, preventing them from breaking my thread and making my machine go CLUNK.  That theory seemed to be valid, also- I did lots of stitching, and no thread or other issues.

I layers torn strips of fabric on black felt.  When I was happy with the design, I gave it a couple of coats of gel medium.  I think I mixed matte and gloss.  I layered on the torn pieces of paper, and stitched.  Then I applied Setacolor transparent paints, stamps, more paper- I just kept going until I was happy with the result.  The last element was the large hand, done with a freezer paper stencil and Shiva paintstiks.  And yes, it is my hand.  After I let the painstik color cure for a few days, I gave it a couple more coats of gel medium.  Here's some detail shots--

I had to think long and hard about how to finish the edges.  I didn't want the hard line created by a binding or satin stitched edge.  I finally chose to stitch a piece of blue-green tulle around the edge, and cut it so the edge was choppy rather than straight.  It gave the shadowed effect I wanted- finished, but subtly.

It was a strange experience creating this piece.  At times it literally felt like a out of body experience.  At times I wondered, "Where is this coming from?"  As I have spent more time with it in the studio, however, it has grown on me and I'm happy to claim it as my creation.  It has also sparked a desire to play more with the mixed media.

It was fascinating seeing the myriad of interpretations of the 'Tools' theme.  Jump on over to the Tangled Textiles blog and take a look!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Perfect Fall Weekend

Perfect as in perfect weather- not cold, not hot, just perfect walking weather.  I walked by the river with the dog a couple of times- it sure felt good!

The trees in the valley are finally starting to show some color.  I loved the look on this part of the walk, they form a canopy over the trail.

This thistle doesn't seem to have figured out that the growing season is fast coming to an end!!  The colors really stood out among the dead and dying grasses and plants.

I also got in some studio time.  I started  new piece with  hand dye I did over the summer.  I've had it up on my wall, looking at it for quite awhile.  I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to emphasize with the quilting, but I wanted to try drawing it over the fabric first.

I used my Quilter's Preview Paper (plastic, really!) to try what I had in mind.  It came together so easily it scared me- exactly the effect I wanted, long flowing lines juxtaposed against a structured, geometric motif.  I'm not sure just what the geometric part will end up as, but I started with the flowing lines.  I quilted for about two hours, then realized that I was having puckering issues that were getting worse.  I ended up ripping out ALL the stitching I'd done, and fusing the hand dye to a light-weight stabilizer, which was then fused to the black background.  I'm using black felt instead of batting, so the piece should hang straight with all that.  It will be more of a pain to get through the machine for the flowing part, but worth it in the long run.  I got two lines quilted after I re-did it, then called it a day.  I've learned that I need to quilt in the morning, not late in the day- I'm too prone to accidents then.

The Tangled Textiles reveal is Friday, which is also the day I am winging my way to Florida to spend a week with my granddaughter (and her parents!).  I am so looking forward to it, she is growing up so fast and really developing her own personality.  We're going to visit St. Augustine, I'm hoping to get some good architectural photos.  So visit the Tangled Textile blog on Friday, and take a look at all the ways you can interpret the word 'Tools!'

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Long Weekend (in the Dyepots!!)

I have a long weekend, and so far have spent at least one solid day in the studio.  I got my next Tangled Textiles piece totally done- but no looking at that until the reveal day on the 18th.  

I bought a circular rayon scarf from Dharma a few months ago, and finally got around to dyeing it.  Yeah, the red and gray that I've already posted.  Something about the scarf bugged me- not the dye job, but the size.  I decided it was too wide, so I cut it in half- and now I had two almost identical red and gray scarves.  I like the colors and patterning, but I don't need two!

So I cooked one half in a Thiox bath.  All the gray turned to white, and the red areas turned yellow.  At least that's what color it was when I took it out of the Thiox bath.  After I took it out of the washer, it looked like this.  Yuck.

If it had stayed the yellow, I would have had lots of options for overdyeing.  This not-so-lovely color (straight out of  a baby's diaper, I think!) left me with limited choices.  I did manage to find something I thought would work out of the Dye Book, though.

Three hours later I had this.  Better, but still not enought zing for me.

So I went through my stencils and picked out a couple of Paintstik colors I thought would blend, and went to work.  By this afternoon, I had this!

I ended up using three colors instead of two- I highlighted the copper squares with gold on two edges.  I'm happy now, it feels done.

One interesting side note- if you look closely, you can see the thread I used to finish the edge- it's on the left in the photo.  I used cotton thread, figuring it would dye with the fabric.  Apparently it has enough polyester that it won't dye, or at least not much.  It's not obvious, though, so I'll still wear the scarf- with a great deal of pleasure!

I also started another quilt, but Blogger is being a pain and taking forever to download photos.  So I am calling it a night, maybe it will be more cooperative tomorrow.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Shannon and I spent the better part of this weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado.  She is investigating Colorado Christian College's nursing program, and wanted to see what kind of place Grand Junction is.  We stayed with my AQuA friend Susan, who is a wonderful hostess.  It was a lovely relaxing weekend.

We got there early enough on Friday to meet with someone from the college, who answered a lot of our questions and gave both of us a better feel for their program.  That meant we had all of Saturday to go play and see the town!

We visited one of the wineries in Palisade, a picturesque little town just east of Grand Junction.  We both fell in love with the old homes in the town.  I haven't been around so many old hippies since I don't know when.

We also found a peach grower that had some left from the late harvest, and treated ourselves to a small box of Palisade peaches.  We walked around their charming little downtown, and had coffee and a sweet treat.  I found inspiration looking down--

Cool sidewalk, no??

Then we drove back to Grand Junction and walked through the old downtown.  I remembered it as being a nice place to walk, and we had lots of company.  There was a gourd festival going on, and some of the streets were blocked to traffic.  I liked how they have art all along the downtown corridor-

When the weather got a little threatening, we found a brew pub and split an order of fish and chips- yum! I found a lovely skirt in a toney thrift shop, some citric acid to use in my silk dyeing, and a couple of small rollers- one set for the kitchen, the other set for roller stamps.  I also found a bunch more cool cookie cutters to use in batik.

Late in the afternoon, we joined Susan and some of her friends that I'd met on a previous trip for a movie and dinner evening.  We all thoroughly enjoyed 'A Dolphin Tale', and talked and laughed over a Smash Burger and sweet potato fries.  Shannon and I couldn't resist washing ours down with some good beer.  All in all, a lovely trip!  We got home about 2 pm today, just in time to finish up some laundry and get ready for the work week.

I asked Susan for a crit of my Tangled Textiles piece, and was very happy with her feedback.  I should have that one done by the end of the week.  All that's left is to fuse the backing and add the binding.

Now I'm off to do some ironing before relaxing with a book.  Hope your week is a good one!!