Whew!

“The beginning is always today.” —Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

To say that this has been an exhausting week is an understatement. We can now take a deep breath and prepare for the healing work ahead.
During these stressful past weeks, I have been researching and studying tutorials on many different topics and art forms. I have also been looking through quilt books for ideas on making different types of blocks. A circular block is something I had tried before, but was not too happy with the results. I found some interesting tutorials on the drunkard path quilt block. I do not like the name , but I love the possibilities of what can be made with this circular block. One of the tutorials by Quilter’s Paradise. gave pretty good directions. I did not have the Slit ‘N Sew templates used in the tutorial. I had ordered some templates from Backporch Designs.
The design I chose to make with these templates was that of a bird. There are different patterns for making bird quilts with the drunkard path templates. Originally, I had thought that I could use the different scraps in my bin to make these birds. I do not know if I have enough of the larger scraps that are needed. I do have enough white fabric. Also, after making one, I realized that this is more tedious than I thought. Maybe it would get easier as I made more, but for now, this block will sit in my One-of-a Kind block bin.
The rest of this past week, I have been busy hand-stitching and crocheting. I was also able to bind the Halloween hexagon quilt. It will soon be mailed to my DIL who loves Halloween. She makes her own beautiful quilts, but I still wanted to make one especially for her. She and I had been sharing online Halloween and autumn fabrics that we liked. When I showed her the kit, she commented on how much she liked the fabric in this Moda Midnight Magic kit.
This is the first quilt where I was able to use my new label. Laura, from Slice of Pi Quilts had posted about quilt labels by EverEmblem. I sent a sketch of what I wanted on my label, and my sister, Emma, did her magic and made the label for me. This Halloween quilt is the first quilt to have my label.
Stay safe.

Creative Block

Have you ever experienced a creative block?
What technique or process do you go through to get back on track?
Usually, taking a walk gets me started. Sometimes, ideas come to my head in the wee hours of the morning. Other times, just thinking of family, events, or friends, can get me on the track of making something.

This week, I realized I was tired of making the same type of things. I was stuck…not motivated. Quilts, thread sketches, small art, fabric art…just didn’t set me on fire. I made one fabric collage that I embroidered instead of thread sketching, but it was not fun.

Ducks on the river in Brackenridge Park were cute, but not inspiring.
My sister sent a great photo of a praying mantis…but I did nothing with it.

I made more masks for friends, family, and myself. I tried new patterns for making these masks. Making masks may not be my favorite thing to do, but it is one way to help people. It was fun trying out new patterns. I plan to continue making masks and build up a stash to have ready for anyone who needs one.

I guess that having a creative block during this pandemic is not really a problem. But for me, it is this creative process that is keeping me healthy and helping me through this unstable and scary period.
I texted my sister, Emma, to see what she does when she hits a jag. She gave me a few starters that sounded challenging.
She suggested I try drawing something with my non-dominant hand to get the creativity going. She also suggested drawing with my eyes closed. Emma did say that she did not recommend me thread sketching with my eyes closed. 🙂

So, I drew a selfie, using my left hand. The results were a bit shaky, but it made me smile. Then I drew some birds, using my left hand. I found it to be challenging and fun. Then, I thought about trying to draw with my left hand, but this time on fabric. This was a bit more difficult, but I liked the results. I drew a Willow Tit bird. At first, I drew it with the tail up, but their tails extend straight back. So I covered up my mistake by adding a fabric tree limb and some leaves. I started embroidering with my right hand, but decided to switch to my left hand. Funny, but I had less needle pokes using my left hand than I usually have when I use my right hand. This exercise of using my left hand really helped me with my focus…which has been off lately.

After completing the bird embroidery, I called my friend at the Mesquite Bean to talk about a quilt that I want to make for my grandbaby. We talked design and fabric over the phone for a good part of the day. Then I went to pick up the fabric. It is such a fun fabric and design, and I hope to start on this quilt soon.

My son sent me a photo of some art from my granddaughter. I love seeing her art. I love to hear her talk about her process and I love watching her work. We spend time on Zoom, drawing together. We learned how to use the whiteboard on Zoom. Once again, I have been inspired by one of my grandchildren. I am also looking forward to seeing what my grandson creates this week. I think I might pull out my water colors or pastels again. I have not sketched or painted on paper for a while. It might be fun to dabble around again.

It seems like switching things around a bit helped me to reboot.
I would love to hear what you do whenever you have a lapse or hit a creative block.
Stay safe.

Mother’s Day

My sister, Emma, sent me a photo of her and her dog. They were relaxing on the backyard deck. Instead of attempting to make a fabric art piece exactly like the image, I took a little liberty with the models. In the photo, my sister and her dog were laying on a outdoor sofa. I decided to make a back view of them sitting in her backyard. My sister has a gorgeous garden and yard to enjoy with her pal, Bella. I sketched Bella and Emma on paper. Then I used this as a template to trace onto muslin. The muslin was backed with firm interfacing.The next step was to collage the images with fabric. This was followed by thread sketching the image. I cut close to the thread sketching to make an applique. I made a quilt square using green and blue fabric for the top. I used a muslin backing. Then I glued the applique onto the center of the block and thread sketched once again.
The flowers that my son and DIL sent me are in my sewing room. As I was admiring the arrangement, I realized that this will be a Mother’s Day where I will not be with my sons. I have a photo taken of us the last time the four of us were together this year. These guys are the best! They are my pride and joy.
I made a quilt block based on the image of the photo. It is an abstract, thread sketch outline of our photo.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Stay safe.

Floral Pets~Day 6

“Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
Dr. Seuss

My goal for today was to make the final border for the Floral Pet quilt. I reviewed two of my latest resource books for ideas, Collaborative Quilting and Collaborate Again by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. In the Parts Department segments of these books, there are many examples of blocks that can be used to make unique borders.
I had enough of a floral Kaffe Fassett fabric to make a solid strip border. I thought it didn’t add anything to the quilt top.

I wanted some black with white fabric to be placed next to white with black polka-dot border, in order to tone it down. I have enough of three different types of black and white fabric, that have already been used in the framing strips around the pets.

At first, I tried a four patch square on points.

I liked the angle, but thought it might be too small.
Then, I tried just a four patch block with black and white blocks included in block. I was thinking of adding the blue floral for the corners to make the four block on point. The blue did not do much for the white and black polka dot border.

I tried just a simple four block, but this seemed “too square”. It did not add anything special to the quilt top.
Next, I tried a four square on points, using a black and white fabric for the corners. This was a bit too large, but I trimmed it down (not shown in photo), and I think this might be the border I use.

I made some four squares. If I do not use them for this quilt, they will be used in some other project.
I am working with scraps that were left over from a quilt that I made for one of my daughter-in-laws. I think turning these scraps into a border is assuring that this pretty fabric does not go to waste.
Scraps
Quilt that I made for my daughter-in-law.
Front                       Back

Four Patches made from scraps

This definitely has been a thinking-kind of day. Thanks to Melanie at Catbird Quilt Studio. I have been using the Project Process she posted on her blog. It has really been helpful.
I also want to give a shout out to my sister, Emma. I bugged her all afternoon. I kept sending her photos and asking questions. I appreciate her input.

Own It

In the past, I have dabbled with writing, especially writing poetry. As a teacher, I wrote every day, in order to model the process for my students. I love reading poetry. I like to follow the blogs of
Esther Cohen and Claudia McGillTheir poetry has inspired me to write poems again.
Also, my sister Emma introduced me to a group of poets who write custom poems for people. These poets published a book of their poems , typewriter rodeo. In this book there is a poem, Spare Hair, written about my sister, by Kari Anne.This past weekend, Emma attended a workshop presented by these typewriter poets. Last night, in a phone conversation, she shared some of the valuable information she learned at this workshop.
All of this has motivated me to write a poem every day. I only share these poems with my sister, and I usually write a disclaimer on the quality of the poem. In our phone conversation, Emma reminded me to own my writing…no more disclaimers. My younger sister is giving me advice.😉
A year ago, I purchased the pen fabric from Spoonflower , with the intention of making something for Emma. On Saturday, I finally put the fabric to good use. I made a notebook pouch and a pen pouch for Emma. They are in the mail today.

For the larger notebook pouch, I again followed the tutorial by Alanda Craft.
For the smaller pouch, I followed the tutorial of Jenny Doan.

Quick Art

Yesterday, I started to play around with the smallest pieces of scraps. I had meant to throw them away.
Instead, I began making mini-prayer flags. It was something to do as I watched a series on Prime that has gotten my interest. The series is Dickensian.
Since I am bingeing on the series, I kept busy by making more mini-flags.
There is something rather relaxing in making things by hand. I especially like making little things.
My sister, Emma, says she prefers making Quick Art. I never thought of it as Quick Art, but now I do.
I think I enjoy Quick Art because of the immediate reinforcement in seeing a completed project.
Also, it is just fun to cut and sew.

What a Thursday!

Whew! Emotional morning.
It has been four years since I retired.
My last class of first graders that I taught in 2014, are headed to middle school.
This morning, I attended the celebration for these precious fifth graders.
It was great seeing the children and their parents.
Lots of hugs and smiles.

The ceremony was student-led. It was impressive to see  how the students presented themselves.
They were articulate and inspirational. This group of students has always been creative, energetic, and outspoken. I am so very proud of them. I definitely know there are big things ahead for them.

As I left the school parking lot, I was blubbering like a baby.
My husband said it has taken me four years to fully retire.
I agree. There is finally closure.

When I arrived home, I found this package from my sister, Emma.
She is the artist and illustrator in the family. Emma introduced me to Gelli-printing, and to the artist, Mark Hearld. Emma shared some of her work with me.

Gelli-printing

Gelli-printing and Collage

Cut Paper

It has been quite an exciting and emotional Thursday!

Good Fun That is Messy

“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny,but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.”
Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

It’s been raining all day, so I decided to pull out the Gelli-Art Plates and have fun. Well, this project turned into ONE BIG MESS!
I have viewed so many tutorials, where using these plates seems so easy.
Many of the tutorials say to play and just have fun.
My goal today was to try different fabrics and papers to see what I liked best.
One of my problems with printing, is…I do not know when to stop. I keep adding paint until something that started out with potential, ends up looking murky.
I was trying out different home items as tools for printing. I found some I like, and some that I can do without.
In the middle of all this mess, I went to wash my hands and discovered that the water had been turned off. I went outside to find a city crew, working in the rain, trying to fix a pipe problem.

So, I will have green hands until about three o’clock today. 


Paper, Muslin, Dish Cloth, Interfacing
A positive spin on this mess:
I am learning what works and what doesn’t.
I am having fun a “good day that is funny” and MESSY.

I could start a Pinterest Fail page with this piece.
This murky piece started out pretty and ended up like cream pea soup.
There is supposed to be a ghost imprint of a tree.
When this dries, I might try some thread sketching to see if I can salvage this practice piece.


This fabric piece came out sort of okay. I might try to applique or thread sketch on this one also.
That is supposed to be a bird in the middle.

I shared these pieces with my sister, Emma.  She was the one who got me interested in Gelli printing. She has made some fantastic art with her plates, and she has just started. Her advice was not to give up. Here I am, taking advice from my younger sister. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

I am done for the day, due to the no-water situation.
Back to viewing more tutorials.

Spring Craft Deadline

This morning, I met the  part of my deadline for the spring projects I will be gifting tomorrow.
I completed two sets of coiled rope plate mats and heart-shaped bowls; along with a small coiled bowl and a rock painting.
There is still one more coiled project to do for one of my three sons. I have an extension on the deadline, since he does not live close by and we will not be meeting this weekend.

Fiesta Coiled Plate Mats and Heart-Shaped Dish

Boho Coiled Plate Mats and Heart-Shaped Dish


Small Ring Dish 
Pig in a Wig painted rock
(Pig in a Wig is the character in my sister’s series of children’s books.)

Since I have working to meet this deadline, and meeting with daily life events, I have not been able to work on the hexagon block for my quilt journal. I have the design in my head, but I just have not had the time to work on it. I plan to try something new with this block.
Tierney posted some work she did with fabric painting. She also posted some great information on good habits that can change your life.
Also, my friend, Jeana, who does my long arm quilting, has been encouraging me to try some fabric painting.
I spent my non-coiled mat making minutes viewing fabric painting tutorials and trying things out.
I just played with the paint on different fabrics.
Hopefully, when I return from visiting with two of my sons, I will get started on painting the fabric for my hexagon block.

Melanine, of Catbird Quilt Studio, posted some great essays and thoughts on creativity.
Reading these posts gave me the encouragement I needed to persist on this new fabric painting venture.

I know it seems that I am going in many different directions…rope baskets, improv quilts, quilt journal, fabric painting…but that is the way I work. For better or for worse.
It would probably be better to focus on one thing at a time, but I have never been able to stay focused for too long.
But I am okay with this… I am having so much fun!