Blue – so natural, so not

I was inspired by Merryl Saylan to use milk paint on wooden fruits.  It is a self-priming paint that can be applied in layers and cut back with sanding.

Federal Blue was not on my list of likely colors for pears.  These have a blue base, with some blue mixed with buttermilk sponged on top.  Amazingly, the blue and yellow paints did not combine to form green.  I liked the frosty feeling, so I used a pewter metallic paint for the stems.

Thanks to Merryl for the suggestion, and to Ben at Woodcraft for giving me a sample of Federal Blue traditional milk paint!

Wood and Fabric — what better combination?

My Aunt Jo had a collection of small ladies’ footstools before 1960.  This is my ‘revival’ of that memory.   It’s not exactly ‘mid-century,’ but the square shape gives a nice energy to the piece.

Dennis Liggett turned the cherry legs.  The frame uses pockethole joinery, learned from Greg Paige at Paige Woodwoorking in Union Star, Missouri.

I chose a bold upholstery fabric and a 2″ cushion for this 10 x 10″ square footstool.  I am working on more styles and sizes of tops, including one to display a single quilt block.  We will also sell these ready-to-cover for needleworkers.  We will have several ready for the September Studio Tour and our fall selling season.

Thanks, Northwoods Figured Wood!

In September 2015, Dennis and I had a booth at the Rocky Mtn Woodturners Symposium in Loveland, CO, right next to Northwest Figured Woods.  It was impossible to resist their beautiful maple burls.  The little bowl in their July 9th newsletter is made from some of the wood I bought from them.

When I go to woodturner heaven, I will only turn maple burls.  I hope that heaven is one of their customers, too.

still waiting for trees to leaf out!

At our altitude of 7500′ the scrub oak are the natives.  They wait to leaf out until there is no possibility of a heavy, wet snow.  This is why there are seldom broken branches on the scrub oaks.  They are well-adapted to our climate.

I keep photocopies of lots of actual leaves so that I can keep working through the long winter of bare branches.  The photocopier is a very good camera for things that are flat.

The sharp division between heartwood (darker) and sapwood in these bowls tempted me to draw zentangles on the sapwood portion.  Before I drew in the backgrounds, the leaves seemed a little undersized for the bowls.  Usually I like for the leaves to touch the rim in at least 2 places.

The cottonwoods are also native to this region, and they, too, are slower to leaf out than the non-natives.

I took both of these photos before applying the final finish to these bowls.  It is an acrylic lacquer with a shiny finish.  It looks silky to the eye, but my camera doesn’t like the shiny finishes, even in filtered light.

A woodturner would ask about the wood.  These were air-dryed roughed-out blanks that Dennis prepared in 2013.  Absolutely bone dry at the time I turned them, and very fine-grained for a Western Ash.  These trees are dying from the green ash borer that came to the US on a shipping pallet from China.

a writing instrument…

For a lot of woodturners, pens are their introduction to the craft.

I have made up a few from kits, but it seemed like 90% fussing with assembly, and 10% working on the lathe.  Our Club president challenged all of us to bring a writing instrument to the May meeting, so I looked for a way to reverse those percentages.  I found ‘stick pens’ that use the guts from a Bic pen.  This definitely keeps the parts budget low, and the user can replace the ink cartridge any time with another Bic pen’s parts.

The first challenge is to find a drill bit long enough.  Luckily, Dennis Liggett always has the tool that I need for the job.  This time, he even drilled the holes.

These three are made from osage orange (‘hedge’ to a mid-westerner).  It is a straight, fine-grained wood for turning.  Some of the beautiful color mellows to a brown over time.  Nature’s improvement on plastics, and now, mine, too.

If She Leaves Me

Zentangle® drawing is a great exercise for quilters.  It develops facility with infilling spaces, which makes the quilting easier and more successful.  Machine quilting is especially good for the sheer multiplicity of patterns that come from drawing with a pen on paper.   In this quilt, the leaf is an original drawing, re-sized and rotated with Photoshop, then printed on cotton and over-dyed.    The blocks are irregular to add motion to the leaves, which are rarely stationary in nature.  18″ x 30,” it hangs either horizontally or vertically.

Let’s stop talking about zentangle drawing as therapy, and recognize that it is to quilting as playing scales is to music.

Fragments and sparkles

I spent quite a long time developing this quilt from my photos in Yellowstone last October.

It comes from a close-up of water in the Grand Prismatic Pool.  I worked with Photoshop  filters to discover more design in the patterns.  One of the iterations created a kind of plaid effect, and all of the photoshop filters found a tremendous range of color in what appeared on the surface as golden sparkles on a brown background.

Those exercises led me to consider making shiny fabrics–the hand-painted silks in the ‘windows’ of the cathedral windows quilt blocks.  I kept the notion of the plaids, as well, because a softer weave works really well for all of the hand-stitched parts of building a cathedral windows quilt.   The silk squares were top-stitched by machine to give extra loft.  There were 49 original plaid squares, and it took 91 buttons to fasten the quilt to a backing fabric so that the loose weave will hang well.   28″ square

A rose by any other name is just a quilt

I thought the hand-painted silks in the center would combine best with gray, but the green and red worked out much better.

This traditional quilt block is striking enough to stand alone as a boudoir pillow. 14″ square.

A little Inca obsession

I just read Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s history of the Inca, as well as some material on Inca textiles.  This civilization is perhaps the most alien of any ruling class in human history.  They were so weird that I also wrote a story about their quipu (knotted strings) as a binary version of an alphabet.

This Inca thing has possessed me for several years.  The quilt ‘El Dorado’ is made from two oil paintings from 2004, cut up and re-combined here with a more textile context, including the very necessary Inca fringe.  Paintings, after all, are just surface decoration on canvas.    I also made a much bigger quilt of Inca blocks in the 04/05 years, and I have used the outline of the blocks for a medley of Zentangle® designs.    There will probably be more iterations yet…

Starting with a drawing…

This series of 3 quilts started with a drawing of four peppermills on the table.  The shapes were similar, but varied in proportions, and I liked the way that the overlapping shapes created perspective without the pesky business of making a realistic 3D rendering.   I chose a color scheme that I rarely use, leaning toward adjacent colors (red and violet) with limited value range.

The background is heavily quilted because there is a lot of it, and the handpainted fabric is quilted with only a few hand embroidery stitches.  This lavender/red fabric was made in a ‘scroll’ that I learned from Linda Colsh in 2015.

When I had arranged all of the shapes, I cut away the background fabric in as big a piece as I could manage.  This scrap became a ‘gift’ for the composition of the next quilt.  I was careful to save lots of scraps with this project in order to incorporate them into the next quilt.  It felt like a very traditional way of working, to value all the leftovers.  The challenging part was to find a way to also value the shapes of the scraps.