stuff and things

14 November 2012

Scrappy Ends Scarf

I found myself with a bin overflowing with skinny strips, above.
I took some water-soluble stablizer, placed as many strips as it would hold, and free-motion stitched them down. Wetting it all to wash out the stabilizer was easier than I thought.
This project was inspired by a scarf I saw on Leah Day's website. Have fun!

31 October 2012

My Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry, Fall 2012: Bracelet of Kingdom

"Bracelet of Kingdom," 2010, 29.5" by 20.5"
Above, "Bracelet of Kingdom," my entry for this year's Blogger's Quilt Festival. I completed this quilt in 2010. It measures 29.5" by 20.5" -- and uses over 100 different bits of fabric.

My inspiration photo (below) is one of a series I took at the San Diego Zoo's "Hippo Encounter," using a simple point and shoot camera, back when this Mama had a little baby.
The inspiration photo, taken at the San Diego Zoo's Hippo Encounter, a favorite exhibit of mine.
Three of these hippo photos seriously want to be art quilts. So far, this is the first. If Mama hippo looks different than most hippos you have seen, it's because she's under water and her face has become super-compressed; like when you have pressed all the air out of a plastic baggie. Also, she has no spark in her eye, as you would see in portraits of most humans and animals. That's because she has a thick film over her eye to protect it while under water -- where she can remain for over 30 minutes at a time. To get a better idea of how squished her face is, take a longer look at the photo. By the way, in my art endeavors, it's typical of me to want to represent an almost impossible photo, angle, or feeling. Typical.

Inspiring the quilt's title, Bracelet of Kingdom: an African fabric.

Bracelet of Kingdom

What a strange title, you might say: "Bracelet of Kingdom." Well, this fabric showed up in my African fabric stash, with golden images of bracelets and the legend, in neon orange, "Bracelet of Kingdom." I thought of how all our lives, human and animal, are connected, as if in a round circle, like a bracelet. You see, the hippo kills more human beings each year than any other species on Earth (except other humans, sadly). I got a spark from that: maybe to sew the quilt's backing with the Bracelet of Kingdom fabric would send out a tiny prayer to the Earth and anyone else who is listening: Let's respect one another and other species: and make space for all species. It's our human encroachment that causes this fatal tension between hippos and humans. I know, that with kindness and just putting our heads together, we can find a way to make room for all.

Techniques include fabric collage, thread painting, and machine and hand quilting. I started this quilt in a workshop with Susan Carlson at Asilomar in 2010. I designed, machine appliqued, and quilted it, using commercial and hand-dyed fabrics, including faux leather, metallics, lace and "shinies."  I guess my best categories for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, Fall 2012, would be Art Quilt, Machine Applique, and Animals.

27 September 2012

One More Round and It's Done!

Having chosen my Storm at Sea quilt "Morning After the Storm" for my UFO Sunday project to finish, I have now finished quilting the "sea grass" strands onto the large blue diamonds, plus all the loopies connecting the diamonds. Whew! I'd forgotten that, despite even the best encouragement, machine free-motion quilting a larger quilt on a home sewing machine is WORK!
Morning After the Storm, 53.5" by 46.5" ... almost done!
None of you gentle readers were forthcoming with suggestions on how to quilt the pinkish-yellow angled patches surrounding the large blue/purple/greenish diamonds.
Now, a bigger question: Should I even bother quilting them at all?

Reasons against quilting them:
1.) I have stitched in the ditch both horizontally and vertically on this quilt, so the yellow patches are stiched on their outer boundaries.
2.) They're pretty small, as you can see by the sewing machine bobbin sitting next to the purple diamond, bottom center.
3.) I still don't know what design I'd use.
4.) This quilt's getting a bit "busy."
5.) It would mean dragging the entire quilt through my sewing machine again; lots more work.

Reasons for quilting them:
1.) I'd get to use the beautiful variegated King Tut thread, by Superior Threads, shown center right.
2.) I'm having fun quilting this again, finally!

Please weigh in with your ideas on whether I should quilt the yellow-y/pinkish areas. Leave a comment here (preferred, so all readers can enjoy your comment) ... or simply email me at

I'm also going to post my question on Leah Day's "Question Thursday" page, part of her Free Motion Quilt Along Project. And, if you should find yourself stuck with a question or problem on free-motion quilting, do leave Leah a question. She's quite experienced, and very generous in helping us "mere mortals" get a handle on this process!

Have a great day!

17 September 2012

UFO Sunday: Vanquishing the Monster in the Closet ...

I didn't get much done last week on Morning After the Storm, but I found the threads I had been using, and I'm all set up now to get to work.
Finishing "sea grass" quilting on large diamonds; loopy coral shapes (okay, loops!) on the small blocks' backgrounds.
Previously, I'd figured out how to treat all the large, long diamonds as a circle, in groups of four, to avoid stopping, tying off the threads, and moving to a different area to quilt. So, if you look at the photo above, start at the green backing on the Conch shell small block, bottom left, and move up to the blue diamond above it. I'm quilting long, sea-grassy lines up and down through half the diamond, ending at the top, then moving on to the bluish backing for the spiral shell, top left. My next move would be to quilt the whole diamond, back and forth, that's above the Mysterious Sea Flower center block. Then back down through the unquilted half of the large blue diamond, center left. And on to make a new 'circle' to the left of it all. Clear as Mud? :)

My final quilting job is to figure out a nice filler design to quilt the remainder: the pale yellow/peach backgrounds surrounding the large dark diamonds. As I have no idea what to do on this perhaps too busy quilt, I would really welcome your ideas and input.
Excuse the peachy glow; shot photo at night with no flash. The backgrounds of the large diamonds need quilting ideas!
Thanks to the quilting community for always being there. And I'd like to shout out a special thanks to Leah Day of the Free Motion Quilting Project, for providing yet another great service to quilters everywhere: UFO Sundays. Finally, let's enjoy today, whatever it may hold. And don't forget to comment and share what you're working on!

12 September 2012

Zapping Those Pesky UFOs

One of my favorite websites, The Free-Motion Quilting Project, has started a new program. Leah Day, the genius behind the site, has decided to host a UFO Sundays program, where people log in with the UFO (Unfinished Fiber Object) they have sitting around and want to finish up in order to move on. You can ask for help with ideas for finishing, or just sort of record your "promise" to get the UFO out of the closet or from under the pile, and onto your worktable or sewing machine bed. Leah keeps a very open project, saying "This isn't limited to just quilting either!  You can link up any unfinished project from knitting, crochet, weaving, sewing, beadwork, or any other hobby or craft you have." So, guys who might be doing projects other than fiber arts, say, that old woodworking project languishing in the shed: Come aboard!
Morning After the Storm wants completion!
I'm pledging to finish my version of a Storm at Sea quilt, an ancient pattern that gets its name from the way that the diamonds and squares, even though straight lined, seem to evoke circles. Squint.
This one I'm calling Morning After the Storm, for the lovely sunrise background of peaches, yellows and pinks.

I created stencils of imaginary sea creatures and then used a faux trapunto, or stuffed, technique devised by Hari Walner.

Clam shell from the Depths of the Sea
Close-up of Sand Dollar

Mysterious Sea Flower
All I have left to do is the dark diamonds and light diamond surrounds, seen best on the top photo. Then I will wash the quilt, which will "erase" the white threads you eagle-eyed readers might have spotted. That's water-soluble thread, part of the Hari Walner easy-trapunto method.

Was I having such a hard time with the project and just quit out of frustration? Not really. But another, more urgent project seemed to rear its head between the time I set this down and now. Maybe I'll blog more about that one!

My very contemporary home. I'm lucky here, because if it were Craftsman or Victorian, it would be stuffed to the rafters with antiques and all sorts of stuff. The quilt on the wall: Salmon Flash, by Nelda Warkentin.
Giving it some thought, actually, perhaps deep inside I am a bit apprehensive that this quilt is too "traditional" looking for my very contemporary home. Dumb, huh? I love this quilt and will find a great place to hang it. Just, maybe not here over the couch. :)

Wish me luck in sticking to my pledge, and best of luck in finishing some of your "back burner" projects, in what ever media they may be! When you have a moment, leave a comment telling about some of your favorite UFO stories! I know you have at least one ...
Tina in San Diego

28 August 2012

Pattern Abuse!

Tonight, I derived way too much entertainment from some colored pencils, a sheet of graph paper and a sewing pattern's envelope. Seeing as how we all have our windows wide open during these hot, humid evenings, I'm sure the neighbors have pegged me the Crazy Lady after hearing tonight's laughing fit. It's all because I tried to draw my new jammies onto a notepad:
When I picked myself off the floor after laughing so much at this sketch, I had to share it with you all. "Creature from the Black Lagoon" doesn't even begin to explain it. You see, the face ... oh, never mind. :)
When Andy asked me why I was tracing the pattern envelope illustration for the pajamas I'm making, I reminded him that it's my habit to make notes on each garment I make. What worked, threads used, needle sizes -- yeah, I should have been a librarian. Anyways, here's an example of the notes I took for the last shirt I made Andy, a version of the same pattern I've made him at least seven times over the years. Fabric swatches are always stapled or taped onto my worksheet.
Andy's latest shirt (yeah, I'm lagging): depicting a circuit board. Perfect!
Naturally, being a computer book writer, my husband looked up the part numbers on the fabric above, and learned that the capacitor depicted here was part of a bad batch that ruined many circuit boards -- several years before the fabric's debut. Coincidence? I think not. My point, however, is that my person illustration on the worksheet above looks semi-human, right?
Andy always obliges people who comment on his shirts by showing how nicely the collars came out (pointy). :)
Earlier that year, I wanted to copy a neat feature of a purchased jacket (pseudo princess seams just with a topstitched line down each side), so I modified this commercial pattern, an oldie, and took copious notes and illustrations.
Not an experienced pattern drafter, I modified one of the patterns in my stash.
Even the models in the drawing above look almost human. The result:
Ellen Anne Eddy arrived into San Diego for a workshop, and despite the 9/11 catastrophe the next day, we decided to meet for class anyway, to show strength and support each other, doing something we love. So we hit a funky discount "lace" store, where we shopped for "bug" (glitzy) fabric. A year or so later, I decided I needed a glam jacket more than an embroidered bug. I had so little of the pinkish fabric that the back panel is on the opposite grain (which really shows). Eh.
Then I decided to make a dress to go with the jacket. Someone on, one of my favorite places on the 'net, ever ... suggested I make the dress reversible. People always manage to talk me into outlandish things like this. Remind me to tell you about the reversible vest someday.
How did I ever figure this one out? I still don't know ... but you see, the person in the drawing does look human.
Voila, the ensemble:
Yeah, I'm rockin' some vintage heels. How did I ever give those away? You can't see them from here: little silver studs along the top near the toe "crotch." Beautiful kidskin, made in Palm Springs by some famous person. Whahhhh.
I think I'm trying for sultry here, but instead I just look like I've got major heartburn. Anyways, this pic proves the dress is really reversable. A neat concept, but a tad tight even then, when I was practicing Ashtanga Yoga for two hours each day and later, teaching for several more. Let's face it: I inherited the beefy Scandinavian body parts ... not the delicate Spanish ones.
Well, I guess the message is clear: more sewing (you should ... okay, shouldn't, see my current pajamas that really need replacing) ...and less sketching.
Bye for now, and if you have the notion (ha ha, sewing joke), please send words, links and/or pix of what you're up to ... poetry, burning man sites, whatever.
Tina in San Diego

08 August 2012

Tiny and Tinier Dancers ...

First off: Please excuse the awkward look of this post. I am not used to the "new and improved" (((choke))) Blogger, and also I'm trying to cut and paste from emails as quickly as possible. Thanks, as always, for your patience.

A family of Black-Necked Stilts, a bird closely related to the Avocet, have hatched a brood at our nearby Famosa Slough, very close to, (and fed by) the San Diego River:

Ray Spencer has given me permission to share his wonderful photos and narratives on my blog (I don't think he has a blog or I would have simply linked to it). If you are really sensitive (as I am), know that these little guys (the hatchlings) might not be around anymore. I searched for them this evening (8/8) and saw only the 5 or so adults. In any case, we have Ray's moving record in words and pictures.

There are many photos,but if you love birds, and these "tiny dancers" ... you must keep going ...

How many feet does this guy have, anyway? At least two babies under him.

The marsh grass, growing more and more endagered, and such an important habitat.

A message below from the "woman behind all that is wonderful about Famosa Slough, including being instrumental in saving it from shortsighted "development" way back in the 70's or so.

Bird Watching Friends -
Here are Ray Spencer's pictures from last Thursday (8/2).
Please note that the first ones are of a large rodent being downed by a Great Egret (NOT a baby BLNS).
- Barbara Peugh

From Paul, the photographer and narrator:

[I] stopped briefly last Wednesday and couldn't locate the 4 Black-necked Stilt chicks at Famosa Slough. On Thursday I found them, but their ranks had been reduced to 2. Of course there is a possibility that this is a different family, but I doubt it. Anyway, in addition to lots of cute shots, I observed one potentially tragic encounter .... which this e-mail will detail. The next one will have lots of cute shots. In any event there were 2 safe and sound chicks when I left about 9:30 on Thursday.There are multiple dangers the chicks face, including predation and by unsuspected sources. You'll see an adult drive off a Snowy Egret who arrived on the scene. Least you think that Egret eat only fish, recall this series where a large rodent was downed by a Great Egret:

We're sure the prey is a rodent; not a baby Black-Necked Stilt. It gives you an idea of how varied their diet can b

The adults can't keep the chicks totally under their control. The adults share responsibility, but usually only one is on the job at any time, and the other is off feeding itself. Though often they are sheltering them, the youngsters will explore and eat.

Safe for now.
Sorry for the funky type face errors, but the new Blogger is so different. Let's cross our fingers for the little bebbes!


24 May 2012

The Migration

"Sorry about that, Chief!" Any fans of the iconic comedy series "Get Smart" will recognize that phrase, and perhaps you'll picture me with Don Adams' abashed expression (total incompetence), on my face, too. Yes, this has been the longest pause ever on Artelicious. No excuses, however. I want to get blogging!

Here in San Diego County, birding capital of our nation, so it is said, this season is known as Spring Migration. Lately, we've seen some dandies. The Yellow-rumped Warblers have moved on, but taking their places has been a gorgeous array of, in semi-order of appearance:
A Summer Tanager, male, living it up at Pt. Loma's Westminster Park this April. No pix of the female, nearby. Photo: AR

Summer Tanagers 

Feast your eyes on the brilliant male, above, in Breeding Plumage. Casually, on an outing to the San Diego River, I made the mistake of discussing a shore bird's "breeding plumage" with a fellow bird watcher I'd met a few minutes before. He corrected me, walking away and saying with disdain that the real term is "Alternate Plumage." Later, I related my story to a fellow birder, a very experienced gent, who said I should have told him to "Get a Life." [Hey, J.K.!] Are you starting to get a sense of the passion and zeal and snippity-doo-daa of bird watching? :)
So colorful, the Western Tanager here, a male, was a favorite even before I became obsessed with birds. Photo: AR

Western Tanagers

If you want some fun, get a pair of binoculars, a field guide for your part of the country, and take your family out to an entertaining outing that's almost free  -- minus the binocs and book, which will last all your lives. Most parks, wildlife preserves, and even city zones offer bird lists and more. Watching birds and studying their behaviors and environments is completely engaging. If I had kids I would so be there! If you have a nice camera and lens, it's a plus: it makes id'ing your birds a lot easier, plus it's fun to plug the photos into your TV and relive the outing. Fun, but not essential.

Regarding the bird above, the beautiful Western Tanager, I think we saw this fellow right outside our north-facing windows. We're lucky to have insect-infested eucalyptus trees in the neighbor's yard to the north. Long live the lerps! Lerps, for short, are/is an infestation that that the birds just gobble up.
If Marilyn Monroe were around, she'd ask what the Baltimore Oriole was doing here in So. Cal, all the way from Baltimore. Actually, I just read a super thorough and great bio on her, and have always considered her witty. Smart, or secure, that's another question. Sigh. When she was served Matzo-Ball soup for several days in a row, she asked, "Do they ever eat any other part of the Matzo?" Love it. Photo: AR

Baltimore Orioles 

It was dark, the bird above was quickly darting about, but still it was a "Life Bird" for us, and we're gonna show it here, gosh-darnnit! :) Seriously, Marilyn would have been right: the bird's a long way from home.
Hooded Oriole: My favorite Spring Migrant.  Photo: AR

Hooded Orioles

I love the way the shiny beak evolves from the black face. So beautiful. I hate to pick favorites, but this, above, is the one. 
A Joy: The Hermit Warbler. Photo: AR

Hermit Warblers

As are many here, this bird is a first for us: So lively and hard to capture.

Enjoy your spring. Write me or better yet, send a comment my way.

Hugs for you all! Tina

05 April 2012

What is it?

A truck's back, a car ahead of us in the Central Coast area.
Mystery truck/product. Anyone have a take on this one?
Enjoy the upcoming weekend. I'm messing around with dyeing; reading up on recipes and getting spiritually ready for what is somewhat an ordeal, but totally worth it. Go have fun!

28 March 2012

Thinking Outside the Box ...

Shoe box as collage surface: my first attempt at collage. Terrifying!
Lately I've been craving the paper arts. It's funny: most of the truly Rock Star quilters or painters or chefs or gardeners seem to stick to their Thing. Not me ... which is why I'm perhaps still finding my own voice in these many avenues. Above, the top of a shoe box that I thought would make a good container for all the nature maps and bird lists we've collected lately.
Visits to Birdy Places seem to add to our collection of maps, charts, bird lists and the like. Fun.
Birds in the Colliers Encyclopedia: Finally glad to cut into the book. Shivers!
Various resources called out to me: clippings from ZooNooz, the magazine of the San Diego Zoo; fabric birds clipped from Asian yardage; stamped, colored and cut-out birdies; text from a French book; glittery Christmas paper and maps; and birds cut out from the infamous Collier's Encyclopedia, shown above. (Yes, I got the courage to cut into books! Hheya!) I guess you need to do this to make altered books, etc. As a lifelong book lover, this is really a difficult thing for me. Am I weird or something? :)

The box front: I think I may add a handle on the map part above. I'll probably stamp/emboss it, and disress it too.That's the wonderful Vincent Price in the right corner, holding a falcon in full falconry regalia. Wonder what movie that was from?

Box, stage left. The neatest thing here was a Gambol's Quail with printing over it, from a hunting pamphlet we found at the Lake Mead Ranger's Station. Who would want to shoot birds? Gawd ...

Box, stage right. I had fun finding Victorian clip art from some Dover collections. The purple stamp (circle, sort of) I carved from a wine cork. I had trouble finding a wine cork around here ...
It's still a bit 'tacky' from the varnish I sprayed on top. Again, my paper arts skills are still in the budding stages. But it's sure fun! I forgot to note that I bought some Golden acrylic paints and spread them all over, to unify the box and keep the birds and other items from looking too "pasted on." Please comment and tell me what you're just finishing, starting or otherwise working on!