Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A feather on my zippered pouch

Finally, the sun has come out and the air is less humid. I'm currently sitting on the swing on my deck listening to my fountain and the background song of the birds. It's lovely to be able to be outside!
I went for my lap swim this morning and when I sat down to do a little free motion stitching, I found that my arms were tired! I managed a couple of feathers on the piece for the back of the pouch I'm making.

I then cut the two lining pieces and got one side of the zipper sewn in. That was a good place to stop, head outside to write this, and then read for a while.

I thought I'd show you another page from my sketchbook, a little blind contour drawing, one of the techniques shown in the course I'm taking.

I really like the loose gestural quality of it. It would look fun on fabric.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A bracelet, organza flowers and seaweed

What a combination of things I've been up to! I just can't seem to contain my creativity this summer. I'm charging off in all sorts of directions.
While reading my email and a few blogs early this morning, I came across this tutorial for these organza flowers. I found they were so simple and pretty that I was searching for my organzas and tulle even before my breakfast. I ate and then tried out a couple. They'll be fun adornments for gifts.

They only take a few minutes to make. I'm going to have to watch second hand stores for something I can use. My colors are limited.

Then, of course, while I had the bead box out, I was reminded of a colorful bracelet that I had intended to make, so I found the memory wire and strung some beads.

I've been trying to spend a little time with paint brush each day this summer too, so I sat listening to the rain, adding a few more touches to my seaweed renditions. I wasn't sure about them at first but I think they've improved as I've added layers.

I did a wee bit of stitching with the beads on the flowers so I'm considering it OK to connect to the Needle and Thread Network.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

mixed media, doodling, stitching

Each day I've been doing a page or two inspired by the lessons in the on line course I'm taking form Alicia Burke. Today, it was 'light on dark'. I played with a village scene and a bit of doodling. The background is acrylic paint applied to a sketchbook page and the white is done with a Sharpie Paint Pen.
I did a black background to play with too and while I was casting about on the net for some doodling ideas, I found a nice little U tube video on how to make mandalas. What I really like about this is it's simplicity. No rulers or protractors needed. I've tried two small ones and definitely will be trying this again.
Then after my lunch, I pulled out a Gelli printed fabric piece that I thought would make a fun little zippered pouch. I backed it with stiff interfacing and batting and did some free motion stitching-- nothing too detailed as it is meant to be used.
Here's a closer look.
I've stopped to get my mid afternoon snack and write this and I hoped to get out for a walk as the rain had stopped around noon. I've just heard a noise and turned to look out my window and it's pouring!
I'll cut up some fruit and see if it stops while I'm munching.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Finally finished pillow

It's a rainy day today which I don't really mind as the gardens need it. As long as I can get my errands and groceries done without getting too wet.
Yesterday, I finally quilted my pillow top, straight lines only, and sewed it up into a cover. I ended up having to use a slip stitch closure as opposed to a Velcro one. The only fabric I could find was in my box of recycled linens that I pick up at the second hand stores. I managed to find a piece of mossy green linen from a skirt just big enough to fit the back.

It makes me very happy when I walk into the room!
I haven't quite finished my bright green coffee table yet. I had an issue with some defective paint which the store replaced for me and I think I just need one final coat on the top now.
I've been wanting to pass on my summer reading as well. I just finished a book last week that totally absorbed me called The Kitchen House. The story centres around the female slaves on a pre Americain civil war plantation and a seven year old orphan brought home by a sea captain. It is well written, every word holding my attention and I hated it to end.
The next book that I started and am 3/4 of the way through, equally as compelling, is Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I have read all of her books and was looking forward to this latest one. The story is captivating and her prose is beautiful. Sometimes, I have to retread a sentence because it evokes such beauty. It is the story of a butterfly migration and the possible effects of global warming on it, but the characters and family life that is woven into it is so real, at times sad, funny and just plain joyful. One recognizes ones own personal moments in her descriptions.

These are both the kind of books that I find and read in between all the other stuff. The kind that make me want to stay up and keep reading but at the same time slow down and savour. The kind that I live inside and reluctantly let go of the characters.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tea and cookies and my pillow top

I've just sat down for a cup of tea and decided to write a little earlier than usual. I just finished making these cookies that I came across on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to try one and of course needed a cup of tea to go with. There is no sugar or sweetener in them other than banana and applesauce, and no flour, just the oatmeal.

They are soft and chewy and remind me of the unbaked 'frogs' I used to make but are much healthier. I think coconut would be a good addition though.
Yesterday, I added the last borders onto my pillow top. I've cut the batting and a thin backing and hope to start machine quilting it this afternoon.

I really love using this improvised method demonstrated here by Melody Johnson.
I learned a few things and I'm glad I started with something small.

1. It's good to start with a quick sketch to get an idea of where you're going. (I didn't)
2. It's a good idea to limit the number of color choices. (I did try to do that.)
3. Make sure you have enough fabric to carry all the way through the blocks and the finish so there is some cohesiveness. (I also tried to do this.)

This morning I took a little time to throw some paint at my sketchbook! I was a bit behind in the daily prompts from the Summer Sketch on line course I'm doing with Alicia Burke.
I started per the instructions with a couple of pages of paint splats.

I left it to dry and then I started examining it for shapes just like we sometimes do with clouds. Eventually, I found a tulip in one and woods and water in the second one. Kind of fun! At least I didn't see anything sinister like one might in the Rorschach ink splats!
Hard to go wrong with such pretty colors!

Now, I'm finishing up my tea and heading to the sewing machine for some free motion quilting.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

still doing the wonky thing!

It's so lovely that the awful heat and humidity has moved out finally. Gord and I sat on the deck last evening watching and listening to the birds. I've seen the goldfinches drinking  from this tea cup garden stake that my husband put together for me, but we caught a sparrow hopping in for a bath. Isn't that cute?!
The hummingbirds were flitting back and forth to my window feeder every few minutes. Who needs TV with all this activity?

Since it's finally cooled off a bit and is cloudy today,  this morning I went out to do a bit of gardening. It's been too hot to do anything out there for a while, so it was good to get a bit of trimming done.
After a quick veggie pate and tomato sandwich for lunch, I did a quick watercolor birthday card for my father in law.
I was anxious to get back to the wonky pieced pillow top! Last night during the news, I ripped the 4 blocks apart, and today I reworked them with different colored strips. I think it's now working, so I went ahead and put 2 sides of the final strips onto the right and bottom. I need to make more to finish it.
I know you may be thinking, all this for a pillow? Sheesh, you're probably right but it's about learning the process and it's fun! And it still needs to be quilted and made into the cushion! Aren't we crazy sometimes?
I'm linking to the Needle and Thread Network. It's their 100th post!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Painting and stitching

This morning I met friends for coffee ( I drink tea) and when I got home, I sat down with the seaweed studies that I started a couple of weeks ago. My friend who bought the shore birds watercolours would like seaweed to go with them.

I've added more color and deeper shading and I'm now happier with them. Just a few more details and I'll be done.
Then, after my lunch I worked on putting my wonky blocks together into an approximate square. I've ended up with blue in both blocks on the top, but can't really change it as then there would be too much plum on one side. Is it worth doing another block to replace it? Maybe not.

Actually, as I've just looked at the picture, I've got an idea. It would involve removing a couple of border strips and adding blue to make it more balanced.
Next I shall measure my pillow form and see what kind of border I need.
Just before sitting to write this, I puréed up the avocado sauce for this recipe for creamy avocado sauce and zucchini pasta. I didn't have a cucumber in the house and improvised using a green apple instead.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


It is hot and very muggy today. Air quality warnings have been given. I picked up a few groceries early and then decided to try one of the first exercises in the Summer Sketch course I've just currently started with Alicia Burke. I ventured outside long enough to pick a bit of plant materials for the alternative tools lesson. Then I sat at the table with the fan on me and gave it a go.

It was messy, but fun!
Once it dried, I added a bit of watercolor here and there.

We're going to have a quick lunch, and I'm hoping to escape to the beach for a while this afternoon. Cooler air is predicted to move in later today, none to soon for me!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Another wonky block

I went out today for my usual errands and lunch, returning home in time to spend an hour or so piecing another block. These measure about 6 to 7 inches.

It's a little more labor intensive for a pillow than I planned but I will appreciate it when done.
How on earth will I machine quilt it? I will have to go look at Melanie's samples to get some ideas. Straight lines in some fashion, I imagine.
Have great weekend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Going wonky

I put the last coat of paint on my coffee table this morning. I'm so excited to add some color to my room! So excited, in fact, that I decided I need more! I love the work by artist and quilter Melody Johnson who just happened to post a tutorial a short time ago that is just what I needed. In fact if you check out her post today, you'll see that someone else couldn't resist it either.
I love the freedom of the process, just the fabric and the rotary cutter.
I'm using a mix of solids and the remains of some of my hand dyes. I've seen some great sources for hand dyes on the web, by the way, which I would love to purchase, but they are American, and the postage is cost prohibitive.
Does anyone know of a Canadian dyer? I dyed these fabrics myself but I would love to purchase some too.
So far, I have two blocks done. I stopped to eat lunch and make up some veggie kebabs for the barbecue for supper.
Yesterday, while watering some of my plants, I took time to snap a few pics of the clematis on my apple tree. It may be fodder for future work.
Also, yesterday, I got some photos of the hummingbird at my kitchen window feeder. I've not been lucky enough to get one mid flight or hovering yet. When the weather cools enough to sit quietly on my deck, sometimes I can get them with the zoom lens. I've only been out once and they were shy to come near.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finally finished finch

Try saying that title 3 times!
It's still sunny and hot here today, but much more comfortable than yesterday. I am glad because I wanted to get the binding applied to the goldfinch art quilt and ready for the hand sewing so I can take it with me to the shop tomorrow. With a fan in the doorway of my sewing room, I cut and sewed the binding. It is done!

As a last minute touch, I added little music notes. I also brushed on a bit of green Shiva Paintsticks to some of the quilted leaf shapes.

Then, I added a few beads to the blossom upper right, one for the bird's eye, and one for each note. It just doesn't feel finished without some beads somewhere!

I should be able to hang it at the shop before I leave tomorrow.
First thing this morning I prepared a salad inspired by a vegetarian program called Delicious TV. The recipe basically had chick peas, sundries tomatoes and a dressing. I added cooked brown rice noodles broken into 1 1/2 inch bits, sliced baby turnips, cooked until tender, and cooked kale.

I thought I might add cherry tomatoes, but now I think I might use them to make a small bruschetta to go with it.

So now my supper is done, my sewing is done, I can relax for the rest of the day.

Monday, July 15, 2013


I'm not sure I remember having a day this hot! The car thermometer was reading 42C when I was out for my doctor's appointment. I've kept the house closed up and although it's uncomfortable, it is cooler than the outside temperature, close to 28C, I think.
It's too hot for sewing or doing almost anything. I put the fan on and sat for a bit with my paints and a piece of seaweed. It is deceptively tricky to paint. I find it more difficult than flowers. The shapes and colors seem so easy but it's quite difficult to get the nuances and layering right so that it looks realistic.

I've set it aside to dry and come down to the basement to read once I'm done writing this post.
I must pick up my husband from work; we'll have leftovers for supper and possibly head out to the beach.
This is the channel that we paddle through from the lagoon side to the bay. My husband's parents live on a spit of land that runs in between. Thus, they have water in front and back of their place.

Lately, I've been enjoying watching and listening to all the backyard birds although it is too hot to have any windows open or venture out today. I took these while sitting on my deck a few nights ago.

It's been a couple of years since we had the mourning doves in our yard. I love their song and think they are so quietly pretty. In the evenings the yard becomes a bird playground. We need no other entertainment.

Stay cool!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Backyard bouquet

What a weekend of weather this has been! It's a little too hot for me, but I've managed to stay cool, keeping the house closed up. I do have the air conditioning in the bedroom at night.
I managed a few holes of golf with my husband late yesterday, and then we went for a dip at the beach. He went out today but it was much too hot for me. I went to his parents place at the beach where he joined me and we went in the water again. The tide was low over the sandbars, so the water was very warm.
I had a bout of restless leg syndrome in the night and woke late and headachy this morning. Once I'd eaten and tended to my flowers outside. I picked a little bouquet to sketch.

I used colored pencils with a bit of watercolor wash here and there in a cheap sketchbook. Sometimes, i like using it as opposed to my good watercolor paper ones. It takes the pressure off; it doesn't matter how it turns out, one can just turn the page. Also, I find it very relaxing to sit and sketch when I'm groggy and headachy. It takes concentration but it's a relaxed concentration. After a bit, I notice that I feel better and the headache is waning.
Gord is going to barbecue veggie burgers for supper which we will take to the rec room in the basement to eat and watch some golf.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A test of the stamps

Once my collaged piece of deli paper dried in my sketchbook, I added some white stamped bells. The white acrylic paint does not have the best opacity but it gives me the idea. I like them and may cut a few more for variety.

On my walk yesterday, I found another little blossom that I'm unfamiliar with. I didn't have time for a sketch of it and I think it'll be wilted by tomorrow. I'm going off for the day to Moncton with friends today. Hoping to return with fabric and art supplies!
I can't seem to find this little branch i picked on my walk yesterday in my reference books. It seems to be a small shrub. Any ideas? As the season progresses, if it develops berries, I may figure it out. I'm on a quest to draw and identify as many wild species as I can this summer.

Also, I've finally signed up for an e course with Alisa Burke. The timing and price is finally right for me. I'm excited. I love her work!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making a stencil and foam stamps

It is hot and humid and I did not sleep well last night, so I'm taking it a bit easy today, finding things I could do in the basement where it's a bit cooler.
I finally added a coat of paint to the primed coffee table. The green will be darker once it dries and darker again after another coat. I'm pretty happy with it.

I brought my sketchbook down to my drawing/painting table to where I cut a few campanula blossom shapes from fun foam.
This is a little spot I have downstairs where I do my printing, dyeing and painting.

I also traced a design onto plastic which I will cut out to make a stencil.

Just before making my lunch, I spread some matte medium onto this piece of Gelli printed deli paper from a previous printing session. I may experiment with the stamps on this when it's dry.

This afternoon, though, I'm heading out for a blood test and a quick errand. And tomorrow I'm heading out on a road trip for some shopping with friends.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Doing my time at Chal Baie

I am writing this as I sit in our local artisan shop located on our waterfront here in Bathurst, NB. We artisans each volunteer a few hours per week. I'm stitching in the ends on my finch art quilt left from my machine quilting yesterday.

This is the view from the doorway towards what we call the basin. We are almost surrounded by water here. It's good to remind oneself just how beautiful it is.

I've tried a few times to get a good photo of my things but the light is always shining through from behind.

Two of my art quilts are hung on the wall above some sea glass jewellery.

We do get locals looking for gifts and also, a lot of tourists.