Bits at a time

Between spring flowers, grass mowing and lots of rain, I’ve had bits of time to work on my big project.

I am stamping leaves on each of my turquoise scrap blocks as the first prep step. They are pinned to the design wall and I take each one down, put the paint on it and return it to the wall to dry. This system is working very well for me.

I am using real leaves that I collect and preserve either with watered glue or glycerin. I roll the paint onto the leaves and then stamp them onto the fabric. There are sure to be other methods that people use, but this is good for me.

My work area is plenty large enough and I could have done all of the leaves at once, but my timeline didn’t lend itself to that. So I did a few each day for 3 or 4 days and today I finished them up.

And now I can wait for the paint to dry again, get the table cleared off and get ready to start the assembly portion of this project…which is actually another reason why I have not rushed to finish the leaves!

This project is huge right now and I think I want to keep it that way. It will in no way be a functional quilt. In my mind, it is totally a piece of art, made to hang on a wall. But it’s going to have to be a big wall. It will be difficult to put together and manuever around the sewing machine, as well as doing the hand stitching with which I plan to begin. I’m wondering if I would be able to work it in smaller sections and then assemble the sections or if that will disturb the narrative in my mind…………..do I really need to make it harder on myself? I think I do. Sigh. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Sigh, again!

Paint is drying, I am pondering and the rain has stopped for a while! Sounds like it’s time to catch up on grass mowing and mulching while I procrastinate on that decision for just a bit longer!

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Watching paint dry

I know, I know…watching paint dry is so exciting you can hardly stand it! But I’m excited about it because today I started painting leaves on blocks. My turquoise scraps project is REALLY, finally, actually started now.

I am using the super opaque screen printing ink and I’m so glad that I ordered it. The consistency is perfect and the prints are exactly what I had in mind.

The first print was deliberately done with a pale section on the background and the white is definitely there. I don’t want it totally opaque, but I feel that I could get it there with more paint on the leaf.

It shows up well on all the prints so far and pull-a-block-paint-a-block-pin-a-block on the design wall is working out perfectly. It will be so easy this way to distribute the variety of shapes of leaves. Designing with immediate visual feedback, and pinning them right back up on the wall while they dry is really making the whole process a breeze.

I didn’t get them all done today. I’m doing a few at a time. My ‘mass production’ of painting is very slow, but with experience it may go faster. On the other hand, I’m enjoying each block this way.

I printed a leaf on some scraps to decide what color thread I’m going to quilt these with. My initial thought was keep it white on white.

Ummm….nope! That is definitely a big nothing!

Of course, I wanted to see how turquoise would do, in keeping with the turquoise scraps!

Probably adequate, but it really won’t show up that much.

My real love, black, is clearly the way to go!

No doubt about it.

Slow printing and watching the paint dry will be my excitement this week. Lots of outside activity going on so the little bit at a time approach will fit my schedule. I also have to gather materials for a class I’m taking this weekend. I’m going to Quilt National for the first time. I’m sooo looking forward to seeing it in person instead of only in pictures.

Right this very minute, though, all I can think about is how cold it is for this time of year. I need a sweater and a fire…what I WANT is to have all the windows open and feel a warm breeze! Sheesh!

Yes, it’s spring.

For me, spring is simply planting time. I’ve always lived in rural areas, with farms and fields surrounding the small towns I love. The rhythm of my life follows the rhythm of the seasons…planting time, growing season, harvest time, resting time.

Even if the planting is a few plants in a pot,

or a little row of annuals, or a single tomato plant.

That rhythm certainly is carrying into my art practice as well as my normal activities right now. This week has been absolutely glorious for all the flowering trees. They couldn’t get one more bud on the branches. More full and beautiful than I can remember ever seeing them.

I couldn’t get the pictures out of my brain. I also wanted to have some handwork ready to go, but nothing jumped off the fabric shelves to inspire me.

Until I picked up this remnant of hand dyed wool.

And put it back. And picked it up again.

I really did not have those beautiful trees in mind when I started stitching. I simply wanted to sew. And use some of my pretty hand-dyed thread. And sew…

Suddenly it seemed as though I was making a tree trunk and some flowers. The lovely trees came to the forefront of my mind and that picture will remain as I stitch on this fabric.

This strip of fabric is long and probably will be cut into smaller segments as I go along. Certainly isn’t blue skies and sunshine, but I’m not very traditional! For the moment, it’s flowering trees. It may grow in unexpected ways, as many of my projects do.

I’m simply so happy to be stitching.

Hand work

I have not been doing much hand work lately. Probably because I haven’t been sitting around the living room much lately! I’ve forgotten how easy it is to have some pieces sitting on the table ready to pick up and stitch on.

This one is slightly larger than my usual, but it needs the extra borders for color.

Ready to go……………

End of the day, or beginning of the day, hand work is so relaxing.

It’s kinda cool!

I finished putting the dyed and discharged fabric piece together. When I started, I wasn’t sure if there would be enough contrast. By leaving a lot of my scraps in large pieces, AND not using as much of the black as I intended in the middle, I got a piece that looks pretty good! At least I’m happy with it.

Probably going to quilt it with black, but I have a brand new spool of a magenta thread that has been calling my name. With all the colors in this, maybe that will be fun to play with.  And to give you some perspective on size, it ended up about 52 x 62–just a bit smaller than my original guess.

Now on to my larger project–the turquoise, painted leaves, maybe weird project!

Experiment and play, that’s my motto!!!!

Happy accidents

Sometimes things fall on the floor or you turn your head a different way and the design changes. It happens and I love it when it does!

I was planning on sewing these four flying geese blocks together in a totally traditional little line.

As I picked them up to move them to the sewing machine, this is how they appeared on my table.

Totally different perspective on them and that is how I assembled them! Too good of an accident to pass it by. That’s also the glory of improv……..do it however it happens!

I rarely sew elements together until I have my whole design worked out, but this piece seemed to call for a bit of pre-sewing. The upper left nine patch checkerboard is sewn, with the two longer strips on each side. The flying geese units are also already sewn together. The rest is still to be assembled, but I finished planning with those sewn elements in place.

And I changed a couple of pieces, maybe not noticeable to you, but it added a bit more light into the design to have a tiny bit more turquoise.

And now for technical details–how in the world do you assemble all those disparate parts into one piece? Sometimes you make everything into same-size squares. Sometimes things go together easily into rows or columns. Well, what I did on this one is to find other sections that can be pre-assembled. Sections that appeared to be close in size to those already sewn.

This part looks like it will go together well and fit the part right above it. And the section directly below this one should sew together easily also.

Since this is improv, it’s not likely that anything will be an exact match, so you need to be prepared to add a bit or trim a bit to make things fit.

And when you are building around a pre-sewn section, it’s better to have too-big chunks and trim than it is to have to add little pieces.

When I get to this point, I feel as though I am on the downhill slope of a hilly course and it should be easy from here on. I hope so, because I am ready to move on to the paint and leaf and design phase of my other current project!

The ideas are over-flowing right now and I cannot work fast enough to keep up with them. Fun times in the studio!!!!

Indulge yourself

Indulge yourself, and not only on Mother’s Day. Of course, the holiday is a wonderful excuse if you need one.

Fortunately, I’ve become very good at doing what I want, when I want and I always encourage others to do that as much as possible.

It’s GOOD for you. If you are happy, then it seems as though those around you are, too.

Sitting around doing hand stitching is a wonderful indulgence for me and I definitely enjoyed it all day.

Drawing thread through fabric is calming. And sewing through wool is like gliding on water. Such a happy day.

I think the sewing is probably finished, and now the hard part (for me) begins. I like my work to look professionally finished and achieving that is an uphill climb.

Not planning on adding any beads or other embellishments, though that could always happen, and it’s an odd size–somewhere close to 13″ square. Well, I do love a challenge.

And then back to my other two bigger projects. I want to get the dyed fabric one done because I have my opaque white paint now and can’t wait to get that on the other one, also. Exciting times, lots to look forward to and to do…………..and that is a big indulgence for me, too!!!