Saturday, January 29, 2011

Creating for a Contest - Mug Shots

I've been having a great deal of fun creating two entries for a competition at the gallery that is part of my favorite coffee shop, Equal Grounds. Each participant can enter up to three 5x7 images of their travel mug in the location of their choosing. The fun part is that the "images" can be in any medium. That immediately caught my attention and I decided to make two 5x7 quilts of my travel mug in, where else?, my studio! And boy did I have fun!

I started by taking an actual picture of the mug in the two places I wanted to immortalize in fabric: my cutting table in front of a stack of fabric from my stash and my sewing table in front of my favorite sewing machine (I actually took the image in front of my 2nd favorite machine because #1 was in the shop, but since they look identical, I didn't think it would matter (just don't tell the machines!)).
After I had two pictures that I liked, I sized them in the computer to 5x7 and printed them out. These would become my patterns for color, placement, and size. I wanted the mug and a feature item in each shot to be 3D, so I needed to choose the feature items. For the sewing table quilt, I, of course, chose the machine, and for the cutting table shot, the only thing I could choose was the fabric, so that was pretty easy. Since the fabric stack is so colorful, I chose white for the background for that piece, and, conversely, since my machine is so white, I chose a pieced rainbow background for the sewing table piece. That pieced background was inspired by the crazy-pieced curtains I made for the window behind my machine, so that worked well.

I started the projects by making the most complicated items first: the mugs. These were actually less complicated to make than the sewing machine, but since there are two of them and they are different sizes and perspectives, they became a bit more complex. I immediately fell in love with the completed little mini travel mugs - they came out so adorably well!

I then moved on to the sewing machine and the stack of fabric. At this point, I decided to make the sewing machine match the actual machine as realistically as possible, but to create the fabric stack more abstractly. I thought it would be fun to work on both a realistic piece and an abstract piece for the same project. And at the end of the creation, that's exactly what I created: a very realistic quilted sewing machine and a very abstract stack of fabric - I can't decide which I like best! (I actually think I will make a series of small abstract fabric stack wallhangings at some point in the future - I really like the look of them!)

The final part of the creation was the main quilt. This part was so simple. The finished piece needed to be 5x7, so for the fabric stack quilt that had a simple white background, I just cut two 5x7 pieces of white fabric, made the quilt sandwich, quilted, and bound it and was done. The sewing machine main quilt needed to represent the curtains and the wood table, so some piecing was involved, but it was still very simple in comparison to the more complicated 3Dish quilted pieces that would be attached.

This one is "Sapphire and Cider" named after
my #1 machine, Sapphire, and the beverage
of choice in my mug: caramel apple cider
Once I had all the pieces assembled, I used the pictures I'd printed out to guide me in placing each quilted piece on the background quilt and attached them using my machine. Placing and attaching them was a piece of cake (not counting the many many errors I kept getting from my machine because the presser foot was too high - these are VERY thick little quilts!).
This one is "Abstraction and Apple Cider"
I can't believe how very well they came out! I really love them both and can't wait to see them hanging in the gallery. The staff of the coffee shop and the gallery will vote on the best "mug shot" and the customers will get to vote as well, so I hope one of these two little beauties wins - but, honestly, I already feel like they're winners - they are simply gorgeous and I had THE BEST time making them!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life Modeling

First sitting
I recently had the opportunity to do some life modeling for a friend's oil painting group. When I first heard that I would need to hold a pose for four hours, I was very nervous. I new I would get frequent breaks, but it was the length of time of inactivity that had me worried. I am not often inactive. In fact, I'm known for my constant activity. Michele and I are exact opposites in that regard - she loves taking breaks and resting and just sitting. I need to constantly be doing and going and accomplishing something. I sat for two four-hour sessions for the group and was amazed at how wonderful it was! Since I rarely rest, it was such a treat to just sit and not have any choice or opportunity to do! I just sat and thought and planned and had a great time (I guess technically thinking and planning are doing, but you know what I mean.) This sitting happened in the midst of the holidays so it was great having a nice restful break.
Same model + different points of view = four different paintings
I thought the whole process was amazing. Seeing myself on canvas in oil paint was so cool! The painters are very talented and each painted a very different painting. They were all positioned with a different point of view, too. At first it was odd having a group of folks staring at me and commenting on this feature or that, but soon it became so interesting to hear what they noticed about features that I just kind of take for granted. None of the painters finished their paintings by the end of the second session, but all plan to finish at home. I work with one of the artists and hope she'll bring the painting to work or take a picture of it completed for me. For now, I've been enjoying my pictures of their works in progress. Thankfully, I'm good at sitting and staring and the group would like to have me back. I can't wait to see what my next costume will be! This sitting I ended up as a kind of African queen, so we'll see what/who I am next time. And I'm excited about the rest and relaxation!

End of second sitting

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gifts of Our Hands

Just the prettiest carrot wall pocket ever!!
Michele and I both gave one another a very special Christmas gift made from our hearts and our hands. Michele's gift to me was extra, extra special because she's never actually made me anything before. She worked with our very sweet friend and brilliant potter, Sabra, to make me a ceramic carrot - that's right, I said "ceramic carrot!!" It's so very gorgeous and wonderful and beautiful and perfect!! Plus, it adds to my collection - I didn't have a ceramic carrot yet! This gift touched my heart like none other could! It's actually a wall pocket, which could hold flowers, but I think that would detract from the carrot. I think I may make little beaded carrots to live in the pocket, but we'll see. I still need to find the very perfect place to hang it.

I cannot wait to have this on the wall, but I MUST find the
perfectest most perfect place!
Now, I make Michele gifts quite often - in fact, it's rare that I give her a gift that isn't handmade. But I am particularly proud of this one. It's a simple design - nine patch squares - but I designed the kitty myself. I call it Kitty on My Quilt since it's a good bet one of our three cats will be cuddling with Michele on this quilt at any given moment. And I accidentally made it a bit too big - in my head I thought lap quilt, but it's actually twin-sized, so it's "accidentally" big enough for two! 
Isn't that an adorable kitty?

Definitely big enough to share!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Year

Ahh, I adore the freshness of a new year. I hope it's starting out great for all of you. I feel so hopeful that I'll:
  1. Be more organized
  2. Be nicer
  3. Complete more
  4. Have a better memory
  5. Find more time 
  6. And so on and so forth
I never really change year to year, but I always feel hopeful that it's possible - at least through January. By February, I've realized that I'm pretty much the same, but that's still pretty great.

I did actually complete quite a few things in December, so maybe I was most of those things already? Anyhow, I finished that baby quilt I mentioned last month. Oh, so pleased with it! But how could anyone do a bad job with such a fun feature fabric and such a great pattern. Star sashing is one of my favorite piecing patterns and it's just perfect when you want to feature a fun juvenile print like this monkey one. Plus, I was lucky enough to find the exact same print in a flannel for the backing. So cozy! I feel pretty confident that mama and baby are loving it right now!

I loved the pairing of the monkey and the polka dot fabrics.
Inspired, if I do say so myself!

A finished project is always a treat. One this cute is especially wonderful.
There's nothing cozier than a flannel-backed quilt! Ahhhh!


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