Thursday, October 30, 2014

Presenting the Work #2


Tada! Maddie's finished piece, her first, quilted and mounted on the board. She very carefully chose the paint colors to match and contrast with the colors in the quilt.
For our second lesson we discussed planned designs, how to take them from drawing to fabric, and how to make a really big design. I don't think I have talked much about large designs in a while. but just for the record, here's the idea. While I often used my overhead projector and transparencies, not everyone has those at their fingertips. My suggestion is to get a big plastic shower curtain, clear or white and tape it to the wall. Using Vis-a-Vis water soluble markers, draw the design on the shower curtain. The drawing can be cleaned off with water, so it is reusable. The shapes are then traced and cut from the fabric, just like any other pattern.
While looking in my storage room for examples of different finishing techniques, I found some work from other artists that I have carefully  lost stored and now I found again. Yay!!!
 These two pieces are by Marcia Derse and I have had them since the late '90's I think. Whenever I feel myself getting too tight in my design, I look at Marcia's wonderful work and just mellow out.
Of course I love the no binding finish on both of these pieces.

This tiny piece is by David Walker, 4x6". We traded tiny works while we were teaching...somewhere together. This one is from 2000. Where does the time go?

And this very folk-arty beaded and embroidered piece is by Andrea Stern. I couldn't resist it. Shisha mirrors! O my.
In the same vein I found a piece of my own work, from 2001. Needlelace Study #2, shisha mirrors, hand dyed cheesecloth bits and a little hand quilting. 9x12".

All of these pieces were mounted on plexiglass, which at the time was my presentation of small works solution. I don't like it anymore, and would rather mount these on painted panels. For one thing, they weigh less, and are easier to hang. Secondly they can be colored to enhance the artwork, and I think it adds more to the finished look.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


 I have been out of the studio for a while, working in the garden, so I thought I would get my interest in quilting reignited by having a student. Maddie is just 22 and is very clever, and caught on to fusing immediately.
Her first lesson was improvisational design, and we worked small, so as to have a finished piece in two hours.
My cart of fused scraps was at the ready and that made designing ever so fast and easy.

How's this for a first composition? I think it's wonderful. I look forward to next week when we will work on a pattern which she will design. Woowoo!
At Chez Johnson we have been tree planting and have replaced some dead trees with living ones. Now that our sprinkler system is working properly, I have no fear of losing the new plants. We now have two new pin oaks, six new redbuds, five figs, seven Cleveland pears, and three possibly still alive Kousa dogwoods. I am sure we have the most trees of anyone in the neighborhood.
Speaking of the neighborhood...we have suddenly got lots of new neighbors, and many new houses are being built on my dog walking route. I didn't realize when I bought this house that this would be a 'high class neighborhood' where people hire landscapers and designers to fit out their homes properly.
That would not be us. We are do it ourselves-ers. So it is challenging to make our place look as nice as the ones that are designed. Good thing we have a fence.
I'll take pictures...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

End of Season Clean-up

It began innocently enough. I just wanted help emptying the water from the abandoned fish pond. Most of the water had been pumped out, but then it rained like the dickens and six more inches remained. Again I pumped and then Dave and I lifted the big round tub on its side to empty the last bit. I said it would be easy now to drill holes in the bottom for drainage, since this was going to become another garden container now that the fish have left.  We had three concrete blocks already so we placed the empty tub on those, drilled the holes and watched the remaining green slime drip out. Then we drove over to Home Depot and got 24 more concrete blocks. Why so many? Because we also had to move the herb garden off the patio. 

I made a big mistake ( I readily admit) and placed this narrow bin on the patio for the herb garden. Looks so lovely there, until I watered and then the dirty water drained onto the patio causing stains and algae to grow. What a mess. Dave tried to fix it by caulking the bottom rim. That sorta worked but it was in such a bad spot to get the rain, that things shriveled up. Now he will power-wash that area and we'll have a nice patio again. 

 We moved the emptied herb tub to the yard, but put its dirt in the round tub, along with the sweet potato vines and other plants. Over the winter it will degrade and in the Spring we'll top it off with a layer of new soil and be ready to plant.
 Filed under successes: The fig trees continue to fruit and are doing just great. They will be moved in closer to the patio where we can enjoy them, and the little shade they may bring.

We had been keeping the excess soil in these plastic bins, even tho we were warned they would deteriorate in the sun, which they certainly did. But they served us well with begonias, petunias and salvia all summer.

We still have work to do, but the backbones are there, and we have made a good start.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Being Indoors

 The big Goodwill truck came yesterday and took away my big red (mistake) couch. Au revoir.
Hurray, I am down to the bare essentials, which makes me very happy indeed. So today we decided...OK, I decided that I wanted to switch the living room with the dining room and make it cozier in that section of the big room. I moved the furniture while Dave was in the shower. Heh heh.
 This leaves lots of room for the dance floor. We'll enjoy dinner in front of the fire and have the stereo provide background music. The arrangement is working already. Chumley has found his spot on the couch, which is covered with a white bed sheet, which gets washed often since mud season has begun. Yes, the walls are still beige, but that will be changing in the future, she says. I have walls that need a bit of artwork, so I will be thinking of what will be hung, in the next few days.

The good dog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Tunic Pattern

 Per request, this is the pattern I am using to make these tunics. It is out of print but doing a search just now, it is available from several different sites, like Etsy and Ebay, at reasonable prices.
HOWEVER, I have made several different modifications to make the pattern work for my tunic idea. I wear a size 12 and I used the size 16 pattern size, for a much looser fit around the hips. I added length of course, and on the first edition I added slits on the sides, which if you've ever made a kick pleat in a straight skirt, you will know that that requires providing for self facings, that fold back and get top stitched.
 The most important thing I have found in my search for the right shape is to make certain that the shoulders and sleeves fit properly. I don't want drop shoulders, so I looked for the set-in fitted sleeve and remembered this pattern had that feature. I wanted straight sleeves, so the rolled up look wouldn't pleat or bunch. I had to made that change just slightly with this sleeve.
But the more important change is to flare out the body, from the points under the arm, about mid-bust. This keeps the fit proper around the bustline but then provides a clean sweep down the sides for ease. This eliminated the slits, which I don't miss.
I am using my serger to make this tunic. This requires trimming the seam allowance on the pattern from 5/8" to 1/4", which is another change, but now that I have done all these changes I have the thing I really wanted and if you have been following for a while you know I had some troubles with my other attempts.
First I sew the shoulders, and then fit the sleeves and baste the first on my home machine before serging, because the easing in of the sleeve cap can cause pleating which I hate to see. Then I serge the sleeve cap and then the sleeve-sides all the way to the hem. I also have placed the bottom of the sleeve even with the selvedges of the fabric, eliminating the need for a hem. This means that the sleeves are not running vertically on the fabric, but horizontally.
May I also suggest that the fabric I used, batik, is pretty great for a tunic like this because it doesn't cling around the body. I also have some linen/rayon blend which I think will make a nice Spring tunic.
All of this may sound like a lot of work, but all three are great fitting and now I have a pattern that I can make with lots of variations.
And just now on Pinterest I saw this pattern,ordered  . . . i've avoided it until now thinking I would draft my own, but since that hasn't happened, figured I'll support this business and at least get closer to actually making the darn thing! looks wonderful.
First edition

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Third Tunic


I purchased this fabric and had it in my stash for years. It is hand dye-painted and the base fabric is Pimatex cotton, a very tightly woven poplin cotton. The crispness of the fabric works to keep the dyes in place, even tho they were thickened with sodium alginate. I could never figure out how I wanted to put it into a quilt, so it sat there on the shelf, until yesterday, when I decided to try and make it into another tunic. There wasn't the required 2.5 yards, so I had to use another fabric for the facings, which worked out just fine. The design on the original piece was a bull eye. Careful laying out of the pattern and seaming the back pieces gave me the diagonally striped effect.


Buttons and pockets are next.
 The pugs, my companions in the studio, are fascinated with the new free standing floor mirror.
Tony, the sheriff, likes to keep an eye on the road, and who might be invading his kingdom.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Arty Girls Party

The Usual Suspects
October 11, 2014, a day that will live in art history, at least in Chattanooga. The Arty Girls meet at Mary's new loft to celebrate her great day.
Pictured left to right:
Margo, Audrey, Marcia, Vista, Mary, Kathy, Joan and not pictured Melody. Veronica was unable to attend, and George Clooney was on his stupid honeymoon.

A wee bit of show and tell, Audrey's wonderful new work and one of Mary's which we all love too.

The living room is huge and will be Mary's studio space, all of it! We all think this makes perfect sense. Nowadays we don't expect to entertain formally, so why have a formal living space? Friends and family all gather where the fun is happening and that is in the studio.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Party Food

My BFF Mary just closed on her downtown loft and she is having an open house today with all our arty friends. I am so excited and volunteered to make something chocolatey ( to go with wine) for her party. I might as well toss all my cookbooks and just rely on Pinterest for yummy and easy recipes. I got this one here.  Peanut Butter White Chocolate chip cookies. I added some mini semi-sweets, because I had 'em.

 And I saw this Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark idea and it occurred to me to add pretzels for some saltiness and crunch. So easy and fast and way too yummy for my diet to handle.
I promised to save some figs for Mary, since she had never had a fresh fig. They are currently ripening like ALL AT ONCE, so today was perfect to harvest some. It was raining when I went out there, so the raindrops are also making an appearance in this photo.

It's hard to tell who is more excited by her move to Chattanooga. When we met (online) we lived about two hours away from each other. Meeting in Chattanooga seemed the best way to get together. At the time we began our friendship both of our lives were a bit rocky and our meet-ups were complain-fests. But we simultaneously began to make changes to fix our individual problems, and now the wrinkles have more or less been ironed out and we are goonie with happy-dancing. I gotta say that I truly needed a group of arty types to make sense of my life and I have found them. Now that Mary and I have moved to town, only 20 minutes apart, we can have that rich kind of inspiration that the city provides. Galleries, concerts, museums, and restaurants are at one's fingertips. And each other.
It's sooooo good!