Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Artwork’ Category

Ta Da! Destination: Baum’s Oz

Getting this artwork to smile for its formal portrait was not easy. With the projection of a possible tropical storm–fingers crossed for only a storm, not a hurricane, all of us anxiously watched the live radar and the weather reports and tried hard not to remember the onslaught of heavy rains from Harvey and Imelda. While I grew up preparing for a blizzard in the Midwest, and we always knew to run to the basement for a tornado…it was easy to tell when that might happen–the temperatures plummeted and the sky became black and the wind howled. Enough of that though. Time to move on to the artwork.

Several pieces were presented at the meeting and the entire thing was captured on facebook live. It was an odd meeting with people scattered throughout the room with chairs separated into small groups. References to the movie were evident in most of the pieces. I wanted to create interest in reading the book.

I used bias tape to form the tornado; it was surprising how little fabric was required; the largest piece was about 10 inches square. In the Emerald City, everyone was required to wear green tinted glasses and so i put a pair in for each character. I decided Dorothy would wear cats-eye glasses and used fabric from my grandmother’s stash. The tin man would have slightly dented shiny (satin) lenses–a fabric from my mother’s stash of remnants from choir robes. I put in Toto, the wild forest and two smiling monkeys. And I used some small pieced Kansas Dugout block hand-pieced from bits and pieces of my mother’s, grandmother’s and my stash.

I quilted it twice in a swirling pattern to suggest the tornado slinging things out. All those circles were intended to be Munchkins but after some reflection, I thought they might look like dozens of Humpty-Dumpty’s and left it as it is.

It was a fun piece to make and I am looking forward to the next challenge.

Here are two details

do you see Toto?
Dorothy’s slippers were silver in the book but they did not show up on the black and white version of the movie and so they were changed to ruby. I added the red bow to tie the movie and the book together.

Dangling Participles IV

When I left off yesterday, I had a good idea of what I planned to do on the lower right side. Some of the blocks needed some additional strips to make the sizes all even and some required some odd shapes sewn on.

While adding the strip was not hard, squaring up all those miscellaneous blocks to a common size took some time to complete.


yes that is the same photo as yesterday–just to see if you are paying attention.


I had to add a strip on the right side of the bottom right section. Notice the curved seam on the top right block–that block is composed of three diamond shapes–all hand-pieced. I added the triangles to convert it to a rectangular shape and the curved section to make it even.

And here is a peak at the left side.


Dangling Participles III

I’m sure everyone has been anxiously awaiting this next step. I’m not as methodical as some but still tend to approach certain projects by breaking them into smaller pieces and moving bits and pieces around quite freely.

I have now completed the majority of the middle section and have some fairly defined ideas about what will happen next on the right side. I could have easily worked on the left side instead but it is probably instinctual to work on the dominant hand side.


Dangling Participles II

Choosing a starting point is never easy when faced with a large group of unrelated objects.

As a reminder, this is what I had to work with. The blocks and some of the pieces were pinned to the design wall in no particular order than just what was on top in the box.

Combining smaller pieces to make larger pieces had already been started by sewing together all those green and tan triangles–there were a lot of them! A small strip with machine embroidered ‘grandma’s Angel’ on a pink was sewn to the pink baby buggy and pieces began to fit together.

I ended my day with this:


This is the middle section with the blue baby blocks to be appliqued over the bottom of the covered wagon.


Dangling Participles 1

Some years ago, a well-known quilter announced she had no UFO’s. I was impressed and thought it a worthy goal. She started a piece, worked on it to completion, photographed it and went on to the next. However, she had a lot of random blocks she had sewn in the past, testing patterns or colors or even a workshop or two. She arranged all of those blocks into a completed quilt, calling it Dangling Participles—it was gloriously random in color and pattern mixing a wide variety of fabrics and techniques.

After my mother died and I inherited all of her fabric stash (along with every pair of shoes she had ever owned—those went into the trash as they were both worn and the wrong size), a huge stack of quilt tops to be made into quilts for her twenty or so grand-children  the backs of my Dad’s bib overall legs to be used in patching the fronts (hay being pretty tough even on denim) and a lot of random blocks and leftovers.

During this pandemic I’ve finished up all of those grand-children’s quilts, made quilts for all of the great-grandchildren of brother’s grands, made several from her fabric for a couple of charities and whittled the volume down quite considerably. It has been hard for me to be creative–I require serenity and these are not peaceful times.

But there was a large box full of Mom’s blocks and random bits, some hand pieced, some by machine, some oddly shaped and some elaborately embroidered.

After Mom’s chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, she had a lot of trouble with neuropathy in her fingers. It was hard for her to do certain tasks and so my Dad took over, welcoming a break from picking out black walnuts. He was quite productive and drew out and cut out dozens if not hundreds of triangles and diamonds.

I put all of those triangles together as leader/enders in other projects, pinning them together in the evenings while watching Netflix’s—I opt for the heartwarming variety of shows—like Criminal Minds—the good guys always win and the bad guys always caught in the nick of time to save the last victim.

Over the next few days, I will post images of the piece as I work on it. I have taken this on as a creative challenge and maybe when this is completed, I can begin a new art piece.

What sort of blocks and pieces do I have? I put them all up on the design board but it is hard to get all of it in the image.


Trying Something New

About a decade or more ago, I tried making some hand-made books. I bought some of the tools, metal ruler, awl, bone folder and some pads of water-color paper. I attended a few classes at the Houston Quilt Festival but then put everything aside as I moved on to other things.

Digging through boxes of stuff accumulated in my work-room, I came across these supplies and thought I might give it another try. With social media availability, I found a site offering directions and support.

My first successful projects were these two accordion books with sewn in signatures. I don’t have book board but did have some small pieces of mat-board. These books are not quite playing card size so warping that might be a problem in larger books should not be a problem.

One cover is cut from a local map–for a friend who is moving back home to France and the other is a paper towel used to clean brushes for a friend—just because.

There are a lot of steps to making them including folding and letting things rest under weight—hard for my impatient nature–but definitely improved the finished product.


Here is what they look like opened up.


They are meant to be displayed standing up.


And then there was my first attempt. I pieced the fabric for the cover, applied fusible to the back to make it into book-cloth, tried unsuccessfully to figure out how to print the lyrics–ended up glue sticking printed out lyrics to folded pages. It won’t stand up but there is plenty of room for its recipient to add photos.


Here is the inside cover–from a brochure I picked up at Loretta Lynn’s Kitchen in Tennessee…a great place to stop for a nice meal..they will let you substitute fried okra for French fries and probably would have let me have just Fried Okra as my meal.



Most of us have been depending upon mail order/UPS/Fedex for supplies and to be blunt about it—presents for ourselves. Shopping on-line is a diversion and then there is the anticipation (like Christmas) of packages arriving on the doorstep–and was it something my husband ordered for himself (or sometimes for me!) or something I thought I needed.

Some of us have taken up new hobbies or discovered the tools of hobbies put aside in the busyness of life.

I had dabbled in making hand-made books, taken a few classes, made some fabric books, but thought that I might give making books another try.

Art supply/craft stores may or may not be essential businesses but mail order was possible.

I tried waxing the binding thread with beeswax ( I have plenty of that) but it isn’t easy and I did not have linen thread unless I unraveled some linen cloth and that didn’t seem too practical.

So I ordered some along with some paper. The paper arrived a couple of weeks later.

Still later, another box arrived. I expected waxed linen thread.

I discovered this!


And it is oil, not acrylic or water color.

When I called the company, the clerk was so apologetic. I suspect they are as frazzled as grocery store clerks trying to stock the toilet paper aisle.

My waxed linen thread is on the way once again. I can only wonder at their stocking system which puts oil paint next to linen thread—-but then maybe the picker was roaming the aisles with more than one open box in the cart to fill.

That tube of paint is happily on its way to a friend who has started cold wax painting.

Small things

Like a lot of people, I have been cleaning or rather tidying or sorting or to be honest just re-arranging things. Opening up boxes and bags, looking at them, and putting them in a different place, maybe putting some in the give-away pile.

I haven’t made masks in huge quantities  but I have made a few; some for grand-children, sons who must venture into the outside world as their jobs are deemed essential and packed up a small box with some of my mother’s quilting fabric to send to a niece who has taken on a Girl Scout project making masks.

And I have been sewing. Finishing up projects. Quilting all the tops that awaited finishing—they are all done! But now they all need bindings. While I have plenty of decorative threads and machine quilting threads in a variety of colors and black, I was down to my last spool of ivory colored thread.

I ordered thread and awaited its arrival.

I wondered if I had really ordered it.

I checked my emails and found the confirmation of the order.

I called the company to inquire.

Thread is now back-ordered for weeks.

who Knew thread would be in short supply?

Imagine my joy when I discovered this in a box I had used for a workshop a couple years ago!


Yes, that is Coats and Clark in a 500 yard spool size. It is poly and so there is very little lint collecting in my sewing machine. I have tried other brands but always return to this one as my go-to construction and bobbin thread.


Trying my hand

One of the first art forms I learned was hand embroidery. I embroidered vegetables playing drums on the corners of dish towels, sorted through the many transfer patterns of cute little animals and flower baskets and so forth. Then I learned to crochet and then taught myself to knit by looking at a book—I made a baby bootee for what would have fit Paul Bunyan’s daughter.

Sewing was taught as a 4-H project by my mother and her best friend. We met in the church basement where we could lay our fabric out on the long dining tables used for church suppers and made first an apron…no pattern—and then a gathered skirt with a placket—no zipper–just a button on the waistband.

Machine work quickly became one of my favorite past-times only equaled by reading—who could resist travel in time and space from my little dormer room over-looking the cow pasture?

But now,we have the opportunity to revisit old past-times and maybe re-connect in different ways.

I signed up for a hand embroidery class featuring portraits. The class instructor was Sue Stone of the UK through and has proven to be challenging and fun. The first assignment featuring sewing through tissue paper and I quickly discovered I did not like this method and reverted back to my tried and true and well-practiced method of freezer paper on the back of the piece.

We were instructed to work with portraits of people we didn’t know—-but I chose otherwise. I don’t do mirrors and so the face that peers out at these old photos is indeed a stranger to me—distanced by years.

Here I am at age 20 sitting by the fireplace in the cabin we lived in when we were first married. The background is walnut dyed hemp—a wonderful fabric to work with; it is th only one I used the tissue paper technique.


Here is the admission clerk at a small hospital I worked in many years ago. I was taking a photography class at the time and printed up several 8 by 10 copies for her—as payment for her modeling stint.

img_3685-m I think I might mount this on stretcher bars and submit it for my SAQA benefit auction contribution—bu that would require a trip to the post office. I try to bunch up trips like this—but I have until June  to do so.

Next is a photo—a selfie taken by husband’s cousin as she heads off to work. She is an ICU nurse on the East coast (Philadelphia) and assigned to COVID 19 patients.


It will be mounted on canvas and sent to her sister in Delaware who so graciously invited my oldest son into their extended family for holidays and other gatherings while he worked in Delaware.

And here is another self-portrait—me at age 1. This was a formal portrait, the only formal portrait taken until those school photos with the oiled hair photographer offering a black comb and asking all people with glasses to look down.




There are some more lessons to cover—but I’ve been concentrating on finishing up some other projects and cleaning and sorting.


Stitching Away

As a person of exceptionally high risk, I’ve been very much confined to house; a few outdoor walks around the neighborhood, and some time at what my husband calls my playhouse—an old rice farmer’s house in the country that has not had other people inside for over two years—so I think I’m okay there. Most of my artwork is stored there along with some art supplies and my Gammill quilting machine. I’ve been working away at reducing the number of tops to be quilted…..basting was one of the hardest parts until that Gammill—now even small pieces are basted on that wonderful piece of machinery.

But I digress.

Evenings are spent watching some sort of movie (if the internet is down) or Netflix or Amazon prime. I usually do some handwork, putting on bindings and labels or prepping hexies (done with that for awhile) or hand-piecing. But this past month I’ve been working on some hand stitched portraits in a class with Sue Stone.

Here they are:

img_3684-mThis is on walnut dyed hemp. Husband took this photo of me perched on the side of the fireplace in the cabin where we lived when first married. One nice thing about doing these stitched portraits is that wrinkles disappear–not that I had any at 22.

img_3685-m She was the ward clerk in a small rural hospital

img_3686-m husband’s cousin, a nurse, working the virus; photo lifted from the internet

img_3687-mbaby picture of me at one year of age

I haven’t watched the videos for the next assignment; the other students in the class have been posting some quite spectacular stuff. Although hand-work is not my forte; this has stretched me—first in looking for suitable subjects and the backgrounds and then in the renderings. It has been a fun adventure. I’m planning to mount all of these on stretcher bars.