Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Party pants for blog anniversary!

These are the orange shorts I bought for my trip-to-the-desert that didn't happen. I planned to wear them with turquoise Ts, since blue and orange is my favorite color combo. I was supposed to fly back on April Fool's Day, but instead I've been stitching away at home in the rain while the party pants stayed packed away.

But April 1 is a party day anyway 
because it marks the one-year anniversary
of this blog!

Thank you to all who have followed on my little journey, leaving encouraging comments and signing up as followers. At first I had to beg family members to sign up as followers, but now they dribble in steadily from around the world, which never ceases to amaze and THRILL me.

I didn't know it would be this much fun, but blogging has turned out to be one of my favorite activities. It involves photography, color, writing, making connections, exchanging ideas ... all things this former newspaper journalist and current quilter loves.

And who knew I'd have followers from Sweden and Switzerland? This has been VERY exciting. The one from Sweden even has a bunny for Bunners to look at.

Just in time for the party, my order of hand-dyed embroidery threads from Laura Wasilowski arrived in the mail today. I'm using the threads for the circle blocks (above) that I had planned to work on in the desert. I wrote about them a few days ago here under "The Travel Kit that didn't." I'm excited to add some of the bright green and yellow now that spring is almost here.

I decided to arrange the arc blocks to form circles rather than veering off into swoops and waves. I'll try to keep it simple so the eye can focus on the color and embroidery.

Now for some interesting blog stats
from the past year:

This pink sea star appeared in the post with the all-time high number of page views, almost from the day I published it last April. Click here to read April 20, 2010's "Sea stars, barnacles, slugs, oh my!"

"Discharging with the Twisted Nuts," published here last May 25, took on a life of its own, probably because of the googleable "twisted nuts" phrase. It takes the second spot for page views, with nearly 300 hits. Imagine the surprise of those who were looking for some other type of nuts when they landed on a wholesome quilting blog!

And, of course, any post with Bunners gets a lot of attention:

I wrote about these Bunners quilts here on Jan. 21, 2011, under "Not a Lucky Rabbit." It takes third place for most page views.

Chihuly glass at Museum of Glass

Fourth place goes to "Nice Glass, Tacoma!" which ran here on April 9, 2010. It's about the fabulous art at the Museum of Glass across the bridge in Tacoma. Check it out for some photos of colorful Chihuly glass as well as a live demo at the museum's Hot Shop.

Number five is actually from this week, the aforementioned "The Travel Kit that didn't."  Click here to read it.

"We don't need no friggin' rain dance," which is from my second day of posting, April 2, 2010, is holding at No. 10 in page views, for unexplained reasons. It only includes a photo of my "Rain Dance" quilt, above, but maybe that's another popular google search phrase.

That about wraps it up for today's news.
Thanks again to all who have visited in the past year.
You truly do make my day when I read your comments
and see my new "friends" as followers.
I love reading your blogs as well.
New followers always welcome!

"Too Much Fun," original quilt by Sherrie Spangler
Put on your party pants!

Have a colorful day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More circles and arcs

Still stitching away on my couch,
travel-kit-that-didn't at hand,
rain falling outside. 

So far, I've covered raw edges with
the feather stitch, blanket stitch,
herringbone stitch, whip stitch,
chicken scratch, French knots, and beads.

I'm trying different arrangements
on my design board.
(Flannel-covered insulation board.)

The possibilities are endless ...

I'm leaning toward just circles.
My daughter says to keep it simple.

Have a colorful day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Travel Kit that didn't

This is the travel quilt kit that was supposed to be with me in the California desert right now. But because my kit and I arrived for our Seattle departure during Alaska Air's computer meltdown and my flight (and about 150 others) was canceled, I'm still in rainy Washington. The earliest Alaska could rebook me on anything wasn't until two days after my six-day trip was supposed to begin, so I bagged it and got a refund.

The upside is that I have a new colorful quilt project started and all of the embellishment supplies tucked in this little tin and ready to carry around with me. I included a few skeins of Laura Wasilowski's hand-dyed perle cotton, some silk ribbon that I painted last year (see "Silk ribbon painting experiment"), some beads, needles and beading thread, and my Gingher thread snippers. Airport screeners never question the needles or snippers.

These are a few of the base blocks. I started with six-inch squares of my own hand-painted fabric and fused on arcs that I cut freehand (purposely irregular). Then I machine-couched chenille yarn over some of the edges. Here's a possible arrangement:

And here's the yarn I used. It's really quick to couch this down with a cording foot and big zig-zag stitch. I used invisible thread.

After reconciling with myself that the desert was not in the cards for me anytime soon, I curled up on the couch with chocolate and my handy little kit and started covering the raw edges with big embroidery stitches.

Awhile back, I remember seeing photos on Jane LaFazio's blog about a class she teaches called "Recycled Circles," in which quarter circles are heavily embellished and then arranged into wonderful, wonky circles. (Or maybe she starts with whole circles and then cuts them in quarters and rearranges them. That might be easier.) Anyway, that's sort of the effect I'm hoping for, except not so heavily embellished. It's the wonkiness that I really like. I'd love to take a class from her.

Here's another possible arrangement. It still needs beads and more embroidery, but at least now I have something to do to take my mind off of the rain.

Have a Colorful Day!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Day of Northwest Sunshine

We finally had one full day of sunshine yesterday! Dave, Julia and a friend launched the kayaks, while I took photos and went for a hike. The neighbor's dog could hardly contain himself with all of the beach activity.

We had an extra low tide (tied to the closeness of the moon from last post?), which revealed sea stars in a mucky part of the bay normally covered by water:

Sorry I don't have more color to share,
but it's raining again today :(

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Night of the Big Moon; End of Winter

Fuzzy photo of the perigee moon rising
over our house Saturday.
By Sherrie Spangler

All week I waited for Saturday's moon rise. 
It was to be not only a FULL MOON,
 but a super "PERIGEE MOON,"
a celestial event far rarer than the famed BLUE MOON.
And I love blue moons, as you can see
by some of my moon quilts:

"Under a Blue Moon,"
art quilt by Sherrie Spangler

It also was the last full moon of winter,
which officially ended this afternoon. (Yeah!!!)

"After Katrina," a small art quilt.

"Moon Rise at Sunset,"
quilt collage by Sherrie Spangler

Here's the scoop on Saturday's super moon, according to news sources and NASA:
Full moons look different because of the elliptical shape of the moon's orbit. When it's at perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles closer to Earth than when it's at the farthest point of its orbit, known as apogee. Perigee moons appear about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than moons that occur on the apogee side.

"The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993," said Geoff Chester with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington. The next one won't be until 2029. "I'd say it's worth a look," he said.

The best view was supposed to be to the east near sunset, so I was out, following Geoff's advice ... and it didn't start to peek through our tall trees until hours later. In the meantime, I drove to all of the high points near our home, hoping for a spectacular view. After an hour, I gave up and got an iced mocha before the coffee place closed, then went home and listened to NPR's Saturday blues show which appropriately featured MOON songs.

"Full Moon Over Turtle Island,"
which I made a long time ago.

Finally, after about a dozen trips outside with the camera, a magnificent white moon rose through the trees. I swear I heard coyotes and owls. Since I don't like messing with camera settings, I shot it on auto with no tripod and sort of like the eerie effect.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Waiting for Spring

The spring pillow covers are done
and Bunners obligingly posed with them on the front porch
this afternoon in -- GASP! -- the sun.

I dug into my sewing gadget stash for some old metal button forms (the kind you cover with your own fabric) and the Fasturn tube turner to make some cording to loop around the buttons. The cording was a pleasure to make -- it took only seconds to turn using the Fasturn device. But that fat, sturdy piping was not so fun to insert, especially on the 12 corners. I think I strained a neck muscle wrestling with it, causing me to nearly pass out in pain when I went into
Down Dog in yoga class today.

The Fasturn tube turner in action.

Here's the  reverse side. As I was cutting the fabric, I wished I could give a piece to every person in Japan who has been devasted by the disaster there to at least give them something bright to hold onto. The logistics and aid experts say it's more important now to send money, 
but if I could I would send
color and light.

Don't forget to watch for
the big moon tonight.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

My yard art is doing a little Irish jig for St. Paddy's Day
-- and also because spring is almost here.

Inside, Bunners is having the luck of the Irish,
with a big pile of green parsley for breakfast.

And I'm dicing lots of green veggies for
-- spaghetti sauce?
I like spaghetti way better than corned beef.

Back outside, I went in search of signs of spring
and found a little crocus poking through
the grass in a roadside ditch.
Above was this blooming forsythia branch:

Of course, here in the Northwest the skies
are still mainly gray,
 so in defense I decided to pull out
my brightest flowery fabric
and make spring pillows for the front porch
 to help ward off the gray.

Yards and yards of fat cheery piping
will surround each pillow,
which I hope to finish by tonight.

Have a colorful day!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring forward!

Eric the Red at Disney's Epcot. Those crazy Norwegians.
It's time to spring forward tonight.
I hate giving up that hour of sleep,
but it sure will be nice to have an extra hour of daylight.
(It would be even nicer if it was SUN light.)

What does this have to do with Eric the Red?
Nothing, but I like the way the light highlights his
braided beard
and my favorite complementary color combo:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Paintstiks and oil paint flashbacks

I decided the other day to pull out the old Paintstiks
and doctor up some scraps of hand-painted fabric.

As soon as I opened the box of colors and peeled off the protective film, the heady aroma of oil paint transported me back to the paint-spattered classrooms from my high school art classes. One memory led to another, including flashbacks of the extraordinarily artistic bathroom graffiti in the stalls at Carnegie-Mellon University's art department back in the '70s. The bathroom musings were a mixture of psychedelia and philosophy that I hadn't thought about in probably decades, and just that one whiff of oil paint was enough to suck me back through the time tube in a rush of color.

This started as a piece of drab gray and black hand-dyed cotton.
The Paintstik rubbings really transformed it.

So here is the box of Shiva Paintstiks, which are solid oil paint in the shape of big fat Crayons:

In front of the box are some plastic rubbing plates and a stencil that I considered using with the Paintstiks. You can put a rubbing plate under your fabric and gently rub the Paintstiks over it to create a quick design. Or you can put the stencil on top of the fabric and apply the paint through the stencil. You can also see the gray and red fabric that I want to embellish. Decisions, decisions.

Here is a closer view of the Paintstiks and some leaf rubbing plates. (Elementary art school teachers let kids use Crayons and paper with these rubbing plates. You wouldn't give a kid oil paints in a stick.)

I decided to keep it simple and only use
the rubbing plate with concentric circles.

Step one (above): Tape fabric to work surface and slip a rubbing plate underneath. I selected a green iridescent Paintstik for the first layer. Peel the protective film off the tip of the paint. (This film forms to protect the paint from drying out between uses.) Breath deeply.

Step two: Gently rub the Paintstik over the fabric. Move stencil and repeat. I wasn't crazy about the green, so I switched to gold and like the final result, below:

Step three: After the paint dries -- which can take hours to days, depending on the humidity and how thick you applied the paint -- heat set it with an iron. Be sure to iron from the wrong side and to place paper underneath to absorb extra paint. Now it's ready to incorporate into a quilt or collage.

The swatch of fabric above is one that I've been using to test different stamps and sponging techniques (with Setacolor fabric paint). I didn't like how harsh the blue stamped spirals looked. Paintstiks to the rescue!

Next up was this piece of black fabric that I sponged some years ago with bronze fabric paint. It needed something.

Gold Paintstiks to the rescue:

I really like the concentric circles, but next time I'll try out some other rubbing plates and post the results. In the meantime ...

Have a colorful day!

P.S. For more ideas and where to buy, google Shiva Paintstiks. A lot of quilt, craft and art stores carry Paintstiks and the rubbing plates, or you can order on-line. You can also find free tutorials on-line.