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Rock Walls, building Stones, and Wall Finish

building20stones20against20an20old20wall-mI have decided to call this piece finished.

What does remain is the backing, sleeve for hanging, and label—but the art part is complete.

Some of the additions were challenging as I worked from the back; the thread I used was a ribbon type thread, too thick to go through a needle and had to be wound onto the bobbin and the tension loosened. The piece is getting quite thick with the many layers of fabric and thread and my machine was not happy about punching through it.

The next parts will be fairly easy—I just need to finish the quilt loaded on Vivian before I can load up this one and do a bit of minimal quilting. Then the formal portrait with detail shots. Fortunately it is fairly small—24 by 28 and so will fit just great into my photo studio—and I won’t have to get out the pole and drape and ladder for the outside of the shed photo studio.

Since I’ve been working on finishing up some more traditional projects, the next art piece will take a bit of thinking before commencing. I have two ideas, but will mull them over and do a bit of design work first before deciding.

Circular SunBursts

img_1290-mAs I noted yesterday, I have not been idle.

This is another piece that was on the UFO list—but somehow I ended up signing up for the same UFO challenge but with another group and was shamed into not using the same projects for both—although no-one would really be checking. I do want to clear out these projects–I’ve made fairly good progress—the trick is to not start new ones while working on the old ones.

This was a workshop project several years ago. We used stamps to mark the size and seam allowance of the pieces. It was a hand-piecing project–which was a relaxing change from ones in which we hauled in sewing machines and yards of fabric and  rulers and rotary cutters and thread and so forth.  For this one, we needed a gallon bag of fabric, scissors, needle, thread, and pins–easily carried in with room on our arm for a sack lunch and maybe even a cup of coffee.

I had pieced the sunbursts and appliqued them onto background—alas, as I found when I began to quilt it—each circle was not exactly in the center of each square. I managed to do the feathered circle around each sunburst but the grid was a lot more challenging.

Still it is finished and moved to the done pile!

Back to the UFO list!



It is done!

Some years ago–and I’m not telling how many, my dear friend and I hit upon the idea of working through EQ (a quilt designing program) to come up with a sampler quilt. Each of us would make two rows, we set the finished size of the quilt and therefore the rows and chose a group of blocks–primitive style—we would select from. We each contributed background fabric. Our rules were that we could use other fabrics of our choice to finish each block but that we would each have the same background for the blocks.

We prepped the backgrounds and slipped the pattern into a packet with each background.

I worked away at mine for a few weeks; but then got interested in other projects and set it aside.

American Patchwork has a challenge each year—to complete UFO’s; you select twelve, number them and they draw a number each month–and you work on the corresponding project. I did this last year and got 8 projects completed; this year I am a bit behind–only 4 so far but most of them this year were barely started. This was one of them.

I learned a lot from this project.

Some blocks are not meant to be huge.

Some blocks are not meant to be tiny.

I am better at embroidery than applique.

It is much easier to make the label for the back when you are working on the top–I use leftover blocks and fabrics, print out the pertinent information, trace it (my handwriting is not neat) and then it is ready.

But this huge monster is now completed and bound.



I’ve been busy

moms20irish20chain-mIt has been awhile since I have written a bit but I have not been idle.

It is prime honey bee season and the bees need attention this time of year. We now have 7 hives. Husband has been doing the majority of work with them as he is still in town; having a few medical issues to deal with before he heads to the great Northern expanse and much cooler weather.

However, I have been working on quilting up a few things while letting my eyes rest from my latest art project.

This is a small quilt my mother pieced many years ago. It has fussy cut animals in some of the squares; all of them oriented in the same position. (I would not have been so careful).irish20chain20detail-m

It has now been bound and after a viewing at the local quilt guild will be shipped off to one of my mother’s great-grandchildren–numbering 7 at this time. There are still a few more pieces of hers to work through destined for those great-grandchildren and I still have three grandchildren quilt tops to go—there were 17 of those!


I should have looked back–I did show these photos in April; however, it is now bound and labeled and ready to ship….

Grandma’s Nine Patch

My grandmother was a practical woman and I adored her. I remember her as always laughing despite a life that was full of hard work, scrimping, and managing on next to nothing. She never balked at doing work; work that might have been done by someone else or in her time, a male.

Grandma raised cucumbers for the pickle factory and she was in charge of the cucumber sorting. The bins were on the side wall of an empty bay in the fire engine’s garage. That bay still housed the canning equipment from World War II on the back wall; Grandma had run that in those times. She also repaired sewing machines and had the contract to cut grass and otherwise maintain two local cemeteries.

Although her older sister made quilts for a living at a $1 a spool, Grandma made quilts for beds to keep warm. My first quilt was one she made for me–strips sewn together for a central panel, and then circled round with strips, bound in purple, with an old wool blanket as batting, and tied with red yarn.

When my mother died, I was left with all of the quilt tops and parts and pieces and fabrics and the carefully rolled up leftovers from dresses, skirts, and blouses. This top was made from many of those rolled up scraps as I recognize some of the fabrics but many others I do not—and the combinations are so colorful, I know they are the ones my Grandmother made on her old Singer treadle–bought by my Grandfather when she was expecting her first baby–my aunt—-in those days, according to my grandfather, even the women did not talk about babies and he took a lot of grief from his parents for being so extravagant as to buy a sewing machine.


Rock Wall, Building Stones, and Boards VI


After some thought, I decided that I needed more contrast in the stones to make them appear rougher. I wound Designer 7 (YLI) black—onto several bobbins and began working some darker areas into the individual stones. This is challenging as I am working from the back; the bobbin thread is all the same color from the previous work and it is challenging to see where one stone ends and another begins.

This still wasn’t quite right and so I tried placing a thick cotton thread around the facets of several stones, thinking I would couch it down.

This didn’t seem quite right either.

After more thought, I got out some jeans thread–white—and started working in some lighter areas on the face of each stone. This is heavy work as the piece is getting quite heavy now with all the thread and layers. The bobbin trace got so hot, it burned the bobbin thread and so after two hours work I had to stop and let the machine cool—and my shoulders and elbows and wrists rest as well.


I think this is going to work. I have several more hours of threadwork ahead of me–limited by the heat of the bobbin trace–but a clear path lies ahead.


Rocks, Building Stones and Boards V


That print I chose for the wall behind the rocks seemed too bold; I toned it down with some strips of a sheer blue with black polka dots. No, you can’t really see them but they do add to the textural quality. I’ve also added a sheer with black swirly lines over the stones and begun to stitch it all down.

That base fabric is not heavy enough to hold the many layers of thread I use and now you can see on the very edges the addition of a fine wale corduroy. This is one of my favorite fabrics to use as an under layer. It is heavy enough to withstand the stitching, yet flexible.

At this point there is a lot of thread and I am wondering if I have lost the feeling of individual stones.

Time for another rest of the eyes.

Rocks, Building Stones and Boards IV

Taking a break to do a few other things and letting me eyes rest from the project at hand always seem to let me resume with enthusiasm.

I thought the large pieces of fabric were too plain although I used prints. I wanted more definition of the rocks and so I began adding some bits of color to each stone.


If you look closely you can see the button head pins I used to place some of these pieces. By this time, all those rocks are sewn onto the underlying base fabric. I use a fairly sturdy material such as a duck. I am not particularly concerned with fiber content although I usually use a cotton or cotton blend.

In the upper left corner, I began to add some dyed cheesecloth and tulle to further enhance the idea of rocky surfaces.


A good Cause


Studio Art Quilt Association has been around for a few years now and has grown substantially in the past five years boasting well over 3000 members all over the globe. SAQA sponsors several exhibits each year with some exhibits traveling for two to three years also around the globe.

To fund this endeavor and the conferences and the all the educational activities it provides, an annual auction of small fiber pieces is  held. This auction is held on-line in the fall and features a wide selection of styles and colors and images. I have contributed several years and this is this year’s contribution.

The fiber art group I started with the assistance of SAQA has been working on word prompts. Each of us submitted a word–a word is drawn and we are each challenged to execute that word in fiber. There have been some wonderfully creative pieces made along with challenging ourselves to try new techniques.

This is my piece about ‘bridge’.

It is made from commercial fabrics, a lot of thread, some hand embroidery and mounted on black linen over a gallery wrapped stretcher bars. I like to put a wire hanger on the back and so it is ready to hang on the wall when purchased.


Taking a break

Occasionally it is helpful to step  back from a piece, fold it up, hide it or bury it under piles of stuff to let the eyes and vision rest.

Working on a small project or three is fun. I save the trimmings from various projects in a small pile on my worktable and will use them to make some small collages destined to become postcard type pieces.

Here is the beginning:start20of20small20pieces-m

Here is the result with two portraits of Hondurans–an old man and a young girl. I haven’t got them quite right yet–still working on them. It may be time to hide them and put the rocks back up.