Welcome to my blog

Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Textile art or quilts?

Hmm.... two blog posts in one day. What's going on with me?

I went to the Museum of Art and Craft today with two of the Nice Ladies group. In case you don't remember who they are.... they are three quilting friends. I call them the Nice Ladies group because I rarely use personal names on my blog.

I had to see the pieces of art made from cardboard before moving on to the quilt section. Interesting technique but nothing like my cardboard furniture. I like this piece.

And this one.

Then it was up the stairs to see the quilts. All with the theme of "water" from the collection of John Walsh III. I goofed and didn't write down names of artists but this one I know. It's Ruth McDowell. It's what I think of when thinking of art quilts.

This one was interesting too and still what constitutes an art quilt in my opinion. It's pieced to create the curves of the design and then painted to create the shadows.

Here's another piece that I would call an art quilt. It's recognizable as a quilt.

On closer look I realize it's an art quilt that even Bonnie Hunter could appreciate. It's small crazy pieced squares and triangles sewn together to make the design. It's stretched over a frame.

Then there were pieces that were clearly "art" and not simple quilts. The use of textiles in unusual ways make them art. In traditional piecing we are taught: to always keep our seams straight, to make our points crisp, to clip all loose threads, don't let any raw edges show, make sure our binding is stuffed and miters sewn down, be sure our tension is correct and our stitches even, etc, etc, etc. In art quilts nothing is considered wrong. Anything goes.

For example this quilt. You will have to enlarge the picture to see what I'm talking about. See the trees or bushes or whatever they are in the center bottom of this quilt?

Now enlarge this picture and look at it up close. See the loose threads and the raw edges? That's what makes it textile art instead of what I think of as a traditional art quilt.

Now look at this one. See how the waves appear to move? Also look at the small orange color section in the bottom right corner.

Here's a close up of the waves. Enlarge the picture to see even better that the flat piece appears to have waves in it. Yes, it is a flat piece. I assure you it was flat against the wall. It's the creative use of raw edge applique and fabric color that gave the appearance of movement.

Here is a closer look at the orange section. I'm not sure but I believe it's supposed to be a fish under water or maybe it's a swimmer.

Ok, you need an even closer look to see the way the fabric is used. Just look at all those raw edges. Certainly NOT your average traditional art quilt.

Here is my favorite piece from the show. I like it because of it's whimsy. This one had many, many techniques and fabrics in it.

I also liked this one. I like the lights and shadows of it all.

So what did I learn from today's field trip? That traditional art quilts and textile art have only one thing in common..... fabric. The rules are entirely different.

I did learn a lot from going to the show and talking with my friends. At times it may appear I'm not listening to their advice but truly I am. It just takes awhile for it all to sink in and make sense. I learned I need to start thinking more outside the box. To stop listening to the traditional "No, No" attitude and simply create to make myself happy with my designs. I believe when I've become comfortable with my own work it will show itself to others.

Now if only.... if only.... I could focus my mind enough to figure out just exactly what do I want my future to hold? Do I want to create cardboard stuff? To create textile art? To do portrait quilts? To become a well known repurposer? (Is that a word?) To make rugs? I compare my cluttered mind to my cluttered studio. What do I mean? Well, when I pull out fabrics for a quilt..... not satisfied with the choices, I pull out more fabrics. Still not satisfied with the choices.... I pull out more fabrics, and even more fabrics until my studio is a very cluttered mess. Right now I have all these projects rolling around in my mind and I haven't quite found my path to move forward. My mind keeps pulling out more projects and possibilities.

Sometime before the beginning of the new year I will focus my mind in one direction and see what develops. I have so many choices but I also know I can't do everything. If I focus on one or two things then I can do a much better job of moving forward. If I want to add other things in the future then its ok.

I know the Nice Ladies read my blog so THANK YOU BOTH for a very nice field trip. I really enjoyed it.

Forgotten dreams revived

There is simple pleasure in spending time tearing up little bits of paper with a grandchild. Nothing need be said.... it's the joy of simply being together that matters.

There is satisfaction in seeing fruit of the season sitting on a table ready for anyone who wants some. It will be even better when I again see vegetables that are taken right from my own back yard.

There is happiness in a bag of hot chocolate mix I put together myself instead of buying a box of already mixed stuff.

There is something satisfying about looking at an item that is ready for the trash truck and coming up with a useful purpose for it.

Or maybe the other way around. There's something I need? I come up with an alternative. Sure, I could have bought a plastic container that would last a long, long time. It wouldn't have as much meaning as one I make myself from something I have laying around.

People must think I'm crazy giving up my quilting income when the cost of absolutely everything keeps rising. Gas prices keep going up (I think) which means that food prices, clothing prices, and just about everything else is going to cost more because of transport costs. Electricity and gas are higher, water is higher, rent is higher..... and so is unemployment.
It's simply not fair! The American dream of owning a home, having a decent paying job, and living comfortably depends on the price of gas. Or does it? Exactly what is America's obsession with so much stuff? We want cars, boats, tvs, and very big houses. Big houses mean much more room for all our accumulation of stuff. Run out of room for our stuff? Get a bigger house. Along with the bigger house comes bigger costs. Utility bills get higher to heat the extra space. Tax bills get higher to pay for the extra space. Cleaning and organizing time is longer for all the extra rooms. We must work more hours to pay for more which leaves no time for actually enjoying all our stuff.
Instead of starting out with a small house everyone wants to start with the biggest house they can get. Even taking the chance of loosing their investment later because it's more than they can reasonably afford. I'm so thankful I had the good sense to buy a small house when I bought this one. I had a choice of other houses. The real estate man and the mortgage company said I could buy a much, much bigger house but I chose this one because it was small. I wanted a house that would still be mine if the economy got bad in the future. Wow, was I psychic or what? Truthfully, I was really worried I might have a major illness and couldn't work. What would I do then to keep a roof over our heads?
I had such big plans when we moved out of a homeless shelter and into our own home again. That was 27 years ago and another story. 27 years??? Geeze, so much lost time! This house was perfect for the plans I made. I wanted to be as self sufficient as possible in a city environment. I wanted solar electric and solar hot water. I wanted a garden and lots of storage space for preserving my harvest. I drew up plans for everything. Heck, I even had plans on how to catch rain water to use.
I got caught up in the race to keep up with the Jones' and none of it ever got finished. Hmm... that's not the only reason nothing ever got finished. A lot had to do with muscle power. I had the ideas but not the muscle strength to make it happen. I could never find a handyman who believed as I did. I wasn't looking for romance.... I still grieved my husband who had passed away. I wanted a simple friend who believed in the same dream. I would share my skills of canning or sewing in exchange for his muscle power to dig and construct things.
My dream has just taken a lot longer to get started than I originally planned. A few months ago I gave up my quilting income so I can finally start doing the things I wanted to do so many years ago. It's time for me to get back to the things that really matter in my life. There are lots and lots of people who share the same vision.
To simplify and enjoy life again.

Life.... more meaningful

I had a great restful holiday weekend. I hope everyone else did too. I sorted papers....

and made hot chocolate mix......

and started quilting a customer's quilt. This one has been waiting patiently on me for a couple of months. I still don't know what I'm going to quilt on it. It's gonna require some stand and stare time before I come up with something.


The papers I sorted were lots of recipes I've gotten off the internet to replace my own that I threw away long ago. I thought for sure I packed away my recipes. I may have and just don't remember where I put them.
When I started becoming known in the area, and my customer base grew larger, I stopped using my "from scratch" recipes in favor of convenience foods. Convenience gave me more time at the machine to "keep on quilting" and making the customers happy. What I mean by convenience is buying a box of hot chocolate mix instead of making my own from scratch. Or relying on soups in cans instead of simmering my own on the stove.
I changed so many things over the years just to keep the customers happy and coming back. My life became all about the quilts and the customers. My life became all about earning the money. Little did I realize I was missing out on so much of what should have been important to me. (Geeze, I sound like Mr. Scrooge when he started believing in Christmas again.)
Life is so much more important than the money we earn. Simple things seem to fall by the wayside as we try to keep our customers happy. It's not the customer's fault. The customer only knows about their own quilt.... not the 100 or so ahead of theirs. The customer doesn't know when we have over booked ourselves.
Yes, I'm going to really enjoy simplifying my life again. My days won't be any less busy but I sure hope they will be more meaningful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is having a great holiday filled with family, friends, and lots of good food!
Yesterday, I finished the 3 necktie quilts yesterday. There were only 20 ties to make three quilts. The customer has picked them up already. She was very pleased with how they turned out. Two were this color.

One was this color. All three were quilted with the same freehand designs.

The center of the medallion got simple circles.

I like this feather design. It travels around the center spine.

I did mark straight lines for the corner designs. This is to mimic the straight lines of the center.

Today will be a casual Thanksgiving late lunch with my daughter and grand daughter then a relaxing afternoon of ..... ? I haven't decided yet. I'll call my son's later this evening to see how their day went. They will be spending Thanksgiving with their in laws. Since they live a good distance from me, it would be too difficult for my sons to get here for a visit after their meal.
I have so many blessings. Too numerous to count. Today will be filled with thoughts of many, many people. Some near, some far away. Some relatives, some friends. Some have passed on, some are still here.
Everyone have a great day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cardboard furniture

This is an example of the cardboard furniture I make and plan to include in my blog. This is the two sides of the bottom half of a desk.

Here you see the drawers of the units.

There are several steps to making pieces of furniture from cardboard. I can't say it's cheaper than buying something from a thrift store to paint and re purpose. At the same time, creating your own furniture means it's a one of a kind original, created just for your space, type of furniture that's lots of fun to make.
I'm thinking I should start another blog just for the furniture instructions and examples. I can do that but..... what would I call it? Does anyone have an idea for a catchy name for a cardboard craft and furniture blog?

Restful weekend

I didn't quilt the whole weekend as I used to do in the past. I took some me time and worked on my cardboard furniture. I started these pieces several months ago. In all the life happenings this year, these got set aside and now I'm working on them again. This is supposed to be the bottom portion of a desk. The left and right sides. There will be a desk top and some type of organizer on it when it's finished. Maybe a roll top portion or something.

I got all the pieces put together except for one drawer and the bottom pieces of each unit. I was anxious to get to the next step of the process. It requires a coat of paper, like paper mache, to smooth out any imperfections in the cardboard. I used newspaper ads and coupon inserts for this. I didn't quite get finished with the coating before it got to late to work last night.

Of course, I had help with tearing the paper into small pieces. Na Na's house has become so much fun that she doesn't want to leave. Na Na has fun with all kinds of gooey pudding finger paints, lots of bits of fabrics, and paper messy stuff that she can't play with at home. She looks at Mom and says "bye Mommie, I see you later" then keeps doing whatever she's doing. It takes a good half hour to actually get her into the car to go home. Things will be a lot easier when they move in here.

Today I hope to finish quilting the necktie quilts and start putting the binding and hanging sleeves on. I would like to get these finished by the end of the week. Well, they won't get quilted if I don't get off the computer and into the studio.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The owner of the last quilt finished came and picked it up. He liked the quilting. I got these three finished and marked then put onto the machine.

I was going to do a tutorial on how to load multiple quilts until I realized these three all get the same backing fabric. I put it on as one piece and can't do the tutorial. The tutorial will have to be done when I have separate backings.

My daughter wants to start moving some things in here this weekend so I'm going to spend the day finishing up the last of the prep work on their rooms. It's easier to put plastic on windows if there's nothing in the way of the ladder. I need to get the switch place covers and the outlet covers back on too. I took them off months ago to paint a room and never got back to finishing. Hopefully, now that I'm not under pressure to finish quilts, I can actually finish projects instead of creating more UFOs or PIGS.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another finished quilt. It's a very large one. It hangs off the sides of the table. It has wonky cross hatching. I hope he likes how it turned out.

A view from the back to see the wonky lines. It was his choice of design. It goes against a machine quilter's nature to deliberately create crooked cross hatching. We work very hard practicing to keep straight lines straight. When we get very good at straight, then someone comes along asking for not so straight lines. It takes just as much practice to NOT be straight.

I believe it's supposed to be a modern version of a vintage quilt. In other words it's supposed to have the look of a clothing scraps (like would be done in the 30s or 40s) by using some new fabrics upside down. This give the look of faded fabrics. The more I look at it, the more I like it.
Today I'll get started on the three memory necktie quilts I've had for so long. I should be able to get the ties appliqued onto the background and possibly loaded onto the machine. I'm thinking I will load them all on the machine together and do a tutorial on loading multiple quilts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have a Heart Charity Auction

Last night was the Have a Heart Charity Auction. I went for a short time. I really don't do well in crowds of people.... especially people I don't know. I still had a good time though. It was exciting to see my work hanging in a gallery.

My friends Marilyn and Joan were there. I hadn't seen Joan for quite awhile. I almost didn't recognize her. I got to see Marilyn's heart art up close. It's still my favorite piece of the whole auction. It appeals to my sense of humor about life. Doesn't she look like someone with a humorous attitude and old age spread? Kind of like the way I am these days. Definitely the old age spread part and I try to keep a sense of humor. She looks like a Maxine character.

I looked through a book laying on the entrance table. I found mine. When I took a photo of it the person at the table told me everything was on the website. Well, yes, I know that but it's not the same as seeing it in an art gallery book.

The man who gives me great pieces of cardboard was there. His wife is a friend too. She was ill and didn't attend. I confessed to him I had gotten rid of lots of the cardboard he gave me because I don't have anyplace to store it. I thought he might be upset but he wasn't. He just told me to let him know when I need more.
I wandered around through the gallery looking at all the work on display. I could imagine some of my cardboard furniture or art quilts on display. Oh heavens, will the end of the commitments ever come? It's very hard to think about finishing up quilts when so many ideas are bouncing around in my head. Hmm... how to describe how I feel. You know how it feels when a special holiday or an especially nice vacation trip is coming up and the days seem to just drag by? As each day goes by you get more and more anxious for the day to arrive? Sort of like a child waiting on Christmas day. Well, that's the way I feel. Like the day is never going to arrive even though I know it will.
Right before I left there was a man who introduced himself and hugged me. I felt like I really wanted to talk with him for awhile but I was already starting to panic and planning my exit. He told me his name but it kind of slipped out of my mind. I know I should remember who he is but I can't. It's gonna bug me until I figure it out. I'll have to ask Marilyn if she knows who he is.
There will be another charity auction if February. I've got some ideas for a couple of pieces I'd like to donate if I can get them completed in time. I'll find out what the date is for it and make my plans around that. One is a cardboard furniture piece and one is a wall hanging quilt.
Note: to those asking if I will give classes on making cardboard furniture. I'm planning to put some pieces together and take lots of pictures for my blog. (maybe another blog) I hope to make it step by step directions that anyone can follow. When you understand the basic construction techniques then any piece can be made. Sort of like learning to piece a quilt. When you know the basics of construction the design ideas are endless. I would also like to write a book with patterns of cardboard furniture. Sort of like a book with quilt patterns. I really, really have to find the time for all these plans..... and space for storing the supplies. Time and space will be the major obstacles. I'll have to deal with them as I get to them. (I have faith.)
I've got to get off the computer now and get to the quilting machine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Liquid laundry soap recipe

Last night I talked with my friend Martha who lives in Indianapolis. She gave me the formula for making my own liquid laundry detergent. She was excited at how clean her laundry was now that she makes her own. I was excited too and wanted to try it out.

I got to thinking.... do I need laundry detergent? I decided to locate all my stashed bottles to find out. I've kept these in different places around the house because I didn't have room for them in one spot. I knew I had a lot because I found them while moving stuff after the construction guys left. But.... little did I realize I had so many. There are 6 more bottles not pictured.

Geeze, talk about over abundance! I bought these in my couponing days. I stopped couponing several months back. Yes, it will be a long time before I need liquid laundry detergent again.  Hmm... some of these need to go to the homeless family shelter.
I thought I'd give you the recipe so you can make your own if you want. I didn't ask Martha where she got the recipe so I can't give credit to anyone. I believe she may have told me it was on a tv show or something about the economy. Martha has a front load machine and says she uses 1/4 cup per load. For top load machines use slightly more.

Caution! Some people are allergic to Fells-Naptha so please check before washing with this.


4 cups hot tap water
1/2 cup borax (this would be something like 20 mule Team Borax)
1 cup washing soda (not baking soda, I think Arm & Hammer makes it)
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 pot large enough to hold 4 cups of water and the other ingredients
1 Five gallon bucket (preferably with a lid) for mixing after cooking.
A funnel, cup for dipping, and a wire whisk
Several empty old laundry soap containers or milk jugs (10 one gallon size for the recipe but any size will do)

This recipe makes 10 gallons. All these ingredients should be sold in the laundry isle of the stores. I've been looking for the Fels-Naptha for a few weeks because I like it for spot cleaning before washing. I've not found it in my area yet or else someone buys them all before I get there.

Use a food grater to shave the Fels-Naptha bar into little pieces. Place it into a pot with the water. Over medium heat, stir constantly with a whisk or slotted spoon until the soap is completely dissolved.  Caution!Don't put it all in at once or you'll have a big lump of wet soap.  Put  in a little at a time.

Turn off the heat then add in the washing soda and borax and stir. When these are completely dissolved pour it into the 5 gallon bucket. Fill up the rest of the bucket with hot tap water. Leave enough room at the top for mixing. You don't want to spill any of it on the floor because it will be very slick and thick. It's very time consuming to get spills cleaned up because adding water only multiplies it more. Stir the mix in the bucket, cover, and leave over night. If your bucket doesn't have a lid then cover it with plastic wrap.

Next day, take the lid off and stir. You might need a broom handle or something sturdy to mix with. (Personally, I would use an electric drill with a paint stir attachment to make it easier.) The mix will be gloopy but will become smoother with mixing.

Take one of your clean empty containers and fill it "half full" with the mixture. (That's where the funnel and dipping cup come in handy.) Fill the container to within about 2 inches from the top with hot tap water. Put the top on and shake like crazy to mix it up. That's why the extra room.... it makes it easier to shake it up. (Repeat this step until you fill up all your containers.) Give the container another good shake each time you get ready to put some in the washer.

Whatever size container you use.... the formula is 1/2 mix with 1/2 hot water. There won't be any bubbles with this laundry detergent. Bubbles don't get clothes clean, the chemicals do. Putting lots of bubbles in cleaning mixes was some guy's idea for making "woman's work" fun in long ago times. His idea caught on and still today people believe..... without bubbles it ain't working.

I thought you were retiring?


I got myself a good chuckle last night. In yesterday's post I talked about getting things down to a "normal work week". I was reminded (in a comment) that I said I was "retiring". I realized I sounded confused. Yes, I know it sounds confusing. Maybe I should start rephrasing it to "switching careers". I've stopped machine quilting for toppers and switching to just creating art or charity quilts.... for myself.

I still have a few topper commitments that were scheduled way before I decided to retire. I estimated it would take me the rest of the year to finish the last of the machine quilting commitments and I'm pretty darn close.

After the holidays are over, starting with the new year, I plan to work on things like this.

I plan to work a "normal work week" at creating my style of textile art. For now, I simply want to create without any thoughts of whether or not I can sell anything. It would be nice to earn a living at textile art.... but it's highly unlikely. Maybe in the future something will sell.
Another thing I want to continue developing is my cardboard furniture art.
I really do like working with cardboard. There are unlimited possibilities with cardboard. The secondary benefit is I can create it to be functional too.

Have you ever seen the UPS tv commercial with the cardboard characters? Every time I see one of the commercials I get excited. The person that created those commercials elevated the status of cardboard out of landfills and into tv spots. I applaud that person for their talent!

I have several PIGS (projects in grocery sacks) that are grandchild quilts and charity quilts. I plan to finish those and get them done at last.

So, you see, I'm still going to be working. It will be a totally different type of work. "Switching careers." I'll work normal hours without all the stress of meeting topper deadlines. I'll work a normal schedule to make myself happy first and worry about selling after I've accomplished that.


Refigerator magnets

You probably have some of these hanging around the house? Mine came on the front of phone books. Do you just throw them away? I don't. Magnets have some good uses around the house. Here's one.

Get yourself a strip of fabric and a strip of fusible web. They should be just slightly larger than the magnets.

Press the fabric to the fusible web. Lay the magnets, picture side down, on the fused fabric.

Cover with your pressing sheet.

Iron the magnets to the fused fabric. Then cut out a design if you want. It could be any shape or just left as squares. I cut wavy edges.

Now I have some handy coasters in pretty colors. It's easy to keep them conveniently ready to use by sticking them to the refrigerator.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cleaning in bright light

It's amazing! I love the brightness of the new lights. Oops, all the bright light really showed all the dust bunnies. When the house was too dark to see, those little buggers seemed to multiply beyond belief.

They show up in the oddest of places. Like this bunch of dust bunnies on the end of the curtain rod. Odd, very odd place to multiply.

My weekend was filled with swiffering the walls, then washing off dirty paw prints. It was a little sad to wash the spot under the window. The last reminder of my furkid Franklin who passed last Xmas eve. I shed a few tears, remembering how he used to stand on his hind legs and lean against the wall to look out the window. I kept telling myself; "the object is not the memory". The memory of him is in my heart along with those of my sons. Then I washed it all away. He wouldn't have liked the new view out the window. A house now sits where the neighborhood kids used to play games.

I moved on to other things like putting plastic on the window. Washing and rehanging the curtains. Washing woodwork, cabinets, and appliances.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out what's wrong with my internet. For some odd reason it got into a loop and kept opening the same page over and over and over again. Nothing would stop it. I couldn't disconnect. I couldn't turn the computer off. It got frustrating so I pulled the power cord out of the outlet.

When I plugged it back up everything was fine. This morning my email won't work. I get a message that the site can't be found. It must be ATT working to make our life more miserable with upgrades and changes. The count I had of opened pages was at about 40 when I pulled the plug.

I have lots more work to do around the house before the move in. I have very sore muscles. Gee, I hurt in places I forgot I had. My daughter has been busy at her place packing and choosing what will be brought here, what to donate, and what will be in storage.

I'm getting back on the quilting machine today. It feels really good to have a normal 5 day work week again.