Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas gifts

     Sometimes you don't want to post something too soon in case someone checks your blog and they see their gift before you have given it to them ... well, that's the excuse I am going to use, even though a couple of the gifts are going to people who probably never check my blog!!

     I finished the cat quilt - duvet cover.  My daughter had one of those snap thinkamajigs to close up the opening for the duvet and she suggested that I add whiskers to the larger cats. Note to self: add all the details when the quilt is small enough to work with rather than trying to shove the whole piece through the sewing machine. Once my step-granddaughter opens her gift and puts it in her room, I will put up the final picture for that.

     My art fibre friend, Karen H, handed me a challenge earlier this month ... well, actually she handed me a postcard art quilt and said she would like one in return. The postcard is 4" X 6" and is a view of a couple fishing huts in Peggy's Cove.

     She chose the picture based on what she knew I would like, but that left me stumped as to what to make for her. Since we sometimes create similar styles of pictures, I wanted to find something that she would be unlikely to make for herself.  Here is a picture of her house ... I probably should have snuck into her back yard; they had a lovely deck & trellis added this past summer that would have made a nice picture ... but she might have noticed me sneaking around ... ha ha.

     The idea behind the postcards is to create a picture that is quick and simple.  I am not too good on the simple part. I like to add extra details where I can.
There was a 3rd person to this challenge ... unfortunately, it was impossible to get a good picture of her house; it is on a hill and from the road, all you can see is the hill and trees and bits of view of the bottom of her house.  I would need to go well out into the lake to get the full view of her house ... and until the lake is frozen, that is not a good idea.
     Fiona likes wind turbines and lighthouses.  This picture is the Pubnico NS lighthouse, where I was able to combine both her likes; I have a friend who is lobster fishing near there and the boat is docked not far from it. It is a little tricky getting fine detail into small pictures ... and after working on the red fabric, I may just throw the rest of the fabric out, since it shreds much too easily, even with fusible web on it.

     I have another postcard project in mind for my lobster fishing friend ... something to work on once Christmas festivities die down.  :-)

     I stayed with my Dad for 3 weeks in November while his partner was in England for a family emergency. Besides aging (he'll be 89 next month), my Dad also has Parkinson's.  His favourite chair is in front of a large window overlooking Halifax Harbour. Frequently on cold evenings, he'd get chilled sitting by the window.   Enter the "quilted hug".  I found some patterns on-line and then modified it to suit my Dad.

     The colours are rather bright, but that was done to match the colours of the couch, which has a bright apple green background with large flowers in different shades of blue. So perhaps, not 'manly' colours, but it was made to suit both people ... one, to keep Dad cozy and two, to match Jan's decor ... that is, until she decides to make new slip covers for the couch.

     The inside is fleece ... I'm a little worried that it will pick up cat hairs, but decided that warmth was the greater need. There are also fleece pockets on the inside flaps.  Several patterns I found on-line called for a narrower  & shorter back, perhaps just meant as a shoulder covering; this is made to provide more warmth, especially for long, cold winter evenings in front of a great harbour view!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Cats and other things

December ... and only a few weeks till Christmas.  How is it that I seem to be busier being 'retired' than I did when I was working full time?

1. My Cumberland County piece has been sold and has found a new home in Ontario. The new owner used to spend time with family in the three locales depicted: Cape d'Or lighthouse, Advocate Harbour and Spencer's Island.

2. I attended a book-binding workshop with Rhonda Miller at the NSDCC (Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council) in Halifax ... an excellent teacher and a great workshop. I'd like to do more of that, hopefully I have made enough notes to remind myself how to repeat the process.

3. My step-granddaughter, who just turned 8 years old, loves pinks, purples and cats ... none of which is a favourite for me.  She chose bright pink paint for the walls in her bedroom and it is time for her to have a quilt that suits the room.  There is a small painting at my Dad's place that has a couple of quirky cats, and using that style and some inspiration from Pinterest, I created striped cats, ... playing around with the placement:

One small problem: Ari is a rather warm kid, so a quilt will likely be too warm most of the time.  I have decided instead to make a duvet cover.  She has a double-sized bed and I picked up a duvet from Ikea.  Hmm ... the duvet is listed as a double / queen size but after opening it and using the measurements to create a pink-purple cat top, I think it is more queen-sized than double!
Here is the top on my queen-sized bed.  It is a Mondrian - art style (Piet Mondrian was an artist in the early 1900s who created paintings with large blocks of white and primary colours outlined with black stripes.)

I am 'quilting' it, or rather sewing the top to thin white fabric without any batting, to help give it stability when the duvet is being put into the cover.  The burgundy stripes are Kona fabric and I found it was fraying a bit more than I liked. Following the burgundy sashing / binding lines by sewing in the ditch should resist the wear and tear that an 8 year old might give it.

4. Years ago, possibly 2010, I learned how to make Cathedral Squares, and I started a small 16 square cushion-sized block ... which grew larger and larger. Any time I spent time in a waiting room either for myself or driving someone to an appointment, I would pull out another section to hand-sew.  At one point, I was going to make this in to a full or queen-sized quilt, but the colours didn't match any of my bedrooms, so the ambition for it has shrunk.  It will be a twin-sized bed quilt and this past week, I finally sewed the last section to the main body.  A few more coloured blocks need to be hand-stitched, and the edges need to be tacked down, then this quilt will be done!!!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Something new

     I belong to a smaller group of fabric artists .. sort of "bee" that originated from several of us who belong to SAQA Atlantic Canada and who lived within a reasonable distance from each other. At the moment not everyone is a SAQA artist, but we all work in fabric and share ideas & techniques and of course, social time. We meet once a month.
     Each month someone "presents" a new idea, technique, topic ... something we might incorporate in future work (or not). My difficulty is in trying to think of something that might interest this wonderful group of talented women.
     So ... NSCCD (Nova Scotia Centre for Crafts & Design) offers a variety of short classes on evenings and/or weekends. Last weekend I tried one of the classes: "Mixed Media".  I have discovered that I am a 'structured artist' ... I can't create a piece without having some idea of the outcome (I can do this when I am writing fiction but not when I am working on a visual arts piece). Telling me to 'draw something' doesn't work so well.
     The first bit we did was called "sgrafitto" ... an Italian word that basically means 'scratching' .. as in scratching off the top level of paint do create a picture or design.
      I've been working on a fabric piece of the Clock on Citadel Hill so this sketch was already in my head ... Difficulties (or It would have been nice if): 1. We should have been instructed on how much gel medium was needed to keep the top layer of paint moist so we could work with it more before it dried. 2. We should have had a greater variety of thin / small pointed tools to work with ... the stick I used was blunt edged and I couldn't work the lines that I wanted.
     The 2nd day was about collage ... although several people 'pasted' down a variety of paper pieces to create an abstract form and then painted over parts of it, I stuck with creating a 'picture'. I really tried to be a little more free-flowing, ... it is difficult to go out of one's comfort zone!! ha ha
     I worked the gel medium in smaller areas / amounts so the whole thing wouldn't dry out too fast. I used bits of sandpaper, twigs, paper, and wool bits.  In hindsight, the wool bits should have been placed one by one instead of groupings since they didn't stick down very well. I think I should have left off the batting for the clouds, although it looks better in picture form than in real life.
     Oh well, it is something new and not likely something I will incorporate in my current work nor something I think is worthwhile to try out with our fibre arts group.

     Back to something I enjoy.
     I saw a picture in the news in January that would work well in my Transitions series. I immediately went to the site where the picture was taken (well, not immediately since it was January cold, but within a few days). I managed to get a similar picture but the crane was not in the position that I wanted. I contacted the original photographer and got permission to use his picture for my art piece.
     Here is my work in progress: Clock on Citadel Hill in Halifax NS
And the original photo:
    Yes ... this is a winter photo. We had some snow and then it melted. It was darn cold out in spite of the lovely appearance of the photo. And then it snowed again.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Sept ... a good month!

     I really should get back to my earlier frequency of adding to this blog.  By the time I start to write, I am sure to have forgotten a few items that I have worked on.

First off:
     The exhibit for "SAQA - My Corner of the World Canada" is currently in Europe. My Peggy's Cove fishing dory is in France this month and in October will be off to Venice (Venetia) Italy.  Perhaps it will tour Europe like the trip I did just over a year ago!

     The sailboat I entered in the CQA Trendtex Challenge in June, which won 1st place, was displayed in the fall CQA magazine ... I like the Tim Horton's one - very iconic Canadian!!

     The Nova Scotia, Cumberland County art quilt depicting Cape d'Or lighthouse, the fishing boats in Advocate Harbour and Spencer's Island is almost done ... just finishing up the binding and adding a hanging sleeve to the back.
     The fog gave me a lot of grief ... now that I am finished, I realize how I could have done it differently so the last 3 lobster boats could have been covered in fog as well. Bridal veil would have worked a lot better that sheer curtains and much easier to layer to get the desired depth of fog.
     Lots of detail on the lobster boats ... until you have to stitch it, you don't realize how many antennae, gauges and radar equipment they carry!!

     It was a first time for creating driftwood; mostly I am pleased with it. I did add some shadow under the larger log but I think it still needs a bit more.  Does any artist ever think their work is actually finished or do they always spot an extra area to touch up??  
     I did a loose cross-hatch stitch to connect the 3 sections but once I put the navy sashing over that, it was possible to see a small ridge where the edges connected. Today I purchased a firm interfacing and slid in under the navy sashing ... a little tricky to get it to lie smoothly. Once I ironed it, most of the ridge has been eliminated. I must remember next time to add interfacing to the strips before sewing them on to the finished work!!

     And another baby is due in a couple weeks; a friend of my daughter's from university days. This is her second. She doesn't know whether it is a girl or a boy so I made a quilt that could suit either.
    That picture didn't turn out quite like I wanted ... it is a bit windy on the deck and every time I backed up to take the picture, the wind would shift the quilt!!

     I am now starting a 2nd piece that I hope to enter in our SAQA Atlantic Canada show called "Transitions" ... I will have to work quickly on it since there are also a couple bed quilts that need to be worked on ... one in time for Christmas!

Update: baby Shelby arrived 2 weeks early ... she has a few health problems and is presently spending some time in the NICU in Halifax. She will get to enjoy her quilt soon!

Monday, 7 August 2017

A little bit of Nova Scotia

     I have a commission for some scenes along the south shore of Cumberland Country, Nova Scotia at the end of the Bay of Fundy: specifically Spencer's Island, Cape d'Or Lighthouse and Advocate Harbour. Although I have been working on architectural features on local buildings lately, the photos I was given were not of big impressive buildings... in fact, the lighthouse and the accompanying guesthouse / restaurant were the only architectural features.

     So ... I drove to the area myself (after all, I had recently leased a new vehicle and it was time to give it some highway driving!). The timing of the drive was based on when Advocate Harbour would be at low tide.

     The first stop was Spencer's Island: the photo I was given, taken last year, showed a number of logs pushed up on the shore line by the waves. The community is VERY small ... the few buildings could not be included in the beach scene and all the logs must have been washed back out to sea during the winter because all I saw was one very picturesque large piece of driftwood.

    The second stop, a little ways down the road (actually, I missed the turn-off the first time) was Cape d'Or.  There is an old rickety lighthouse at the top of the cliff by the parking lot ... obviously not in use since the trees in front of it would have blocked any lights.  I walked down the rocky laneway, and took pictures from the top and around the buildings. The point where the lighthouse sits marks the churning waters of the tidal currents where the Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy meet.
     And finally on to Advocate Harbour. The photo that I had been given was a foggy picture of fishing boats tied up at the dock during low tide.  When I got there, the tide was low ... however, there was no fog and only 2 boats were left at the dock. The rest were out to sea!
     I decided to incorporate the far shore beyond the dock and then add "fog" on top. I was grateful that the 2 boats that had remained were the two I could hardly see in the original photo because of the fog ... now at least I could check on their detail.
     Still lots more work to do ... detail to add in on all of the pictures.  I was trying to figure out how to add fog over the boats at the end of the dock (I have different weights of sheer curtain fabric as well as bridal veil fabric) but adding an extra layer over the boats made the background houses disappear. If I put the sheer fabric only over the boats, the fishing equipment - antennae, sonar, etc, still stood out. Hmmmm.  I may experiment with a white-wash fabric paint on some scraps to see if I can get a slightly washed-out look to use the blue boat.
     All three fabric pictures will need to be quilted as well ... at this point, I am not sure if I want them all to hang in one piece or if I should find a piece of driftwood and hang them as 3 separate pieces perhaps connected by a bit of fishing line or net. All three in one piece will be the easiest but .... we'll see.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

July 1st

A big celebration today with Canada's 150th birthday ... can't see a darn thing with all the fog!! I took Kate's dog out for a walk at noon ... when the noon cannon from Citadel Hill goes off, it makes the dog nervous ... today, being a birthday celebration, the cannon went off a number of times (although thankfully not 150 times!!). I had a rather jumpy dog by the time we got back to the car.

Quilt-wise: I am in the process of adding the border to my first Transitions piece of downtown Halifax. (border picture to follow later)
I think I may also quilt a bit more around the building outlines to help with a bit of a 3-D effect.

In mid-June I found out I won the Trend-Tex challenge for Quilt Canada held in Toronto.

My biggest surprise was the cheque I received a week after the show!! I thought with a fabric company sponsoring the challenge,  I would probably get a bundle of fat quarters or something. 

And our fibre arts group has a show in a Dartmouth gallery ... the 2 centre pieces in the 2nd photo (the bridges & ferry) are mine. 

Usually in our monthly meetings with our fibre arts group (now officially called Textiles Artists Collective)  we experiment and work on new techniques that one of the members has tried out and is willing to share ... I like the experimentation and the chance to try new ideas, but only some of them may actually be incorporated back in my work.

 One member likes book-making ... and for our June meeting, she taught us how to make tunnel books.

I've chosen "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr Seuss ... my 2 year old granddaughter was visiting last week and was totally fascinated with the preliminary stages, peering through the openings and spotting different things.
So ... I cut out the words for the title ... and by the time I was ready to finish the front, I lost part of it.  I will get that done after the holiday ... I am unable to shrink the size of the words on my home printer & will need a Staples printer to do that. I added a couple of leftover characters I cut out to some of the accordion pleats.
I also need to (should I make another book) use a lighter colour for the accordion pieces on the sides ... although the orange matches, it makes it too dark to see the pages towards the back. I wonder if I could make the accordion pleats with something lacy ... hmmm.
I also need to check with Linda: are the accordion pleats supposed to stick out when the book is closed or fold inward???

Sunday, 30 April 2017

April 2017

Still slow going, but definitely some improvement in getting some quilting done.

     I helped a neighbour last month and as a repayment she gave me a lovely gift ... I have already started to use the grey ... and it won't be long before the other colours are cut into bits!

     Joey's quilt is done and is waiting to find a way to Ontario.  It was quilted by TLC in Bedford (I had won a 'quilting' prize from them a couple years ago, so it was good to use that up). I've had a number of people say they really like it, but it really isn't my style. The use of complementary colours really makes it stand out (blue / orange with added grey).

    So with that done, I can now concentrate a bit on what I would rather be doing .... a possibility for a "Transitions" piece. The next SAQA Atlantic Canada show is running from April 2018 to spring 2019 and so far I have 4 galleries booked.  Our topic is "Transitions" and for awhile I was really stuck with what I would do with that. Every day, I watch the horizon of Halifax change  .. the whole city is in "transition". An "Aaha" moment.
I can continue my enjoyment of creating buildings and working on a variety of architectural styles.
     This photo is taken while standing on citadel hill, looking across Brunswick Street towards the construction of the new Trade Centre.
     Here's the start, laying out pieces ... I would rather not have the "For Lease" sign on the front of the building (mostly because I don't like doing print / letters) but I think that having it would show an additional transition stage. I should do a bit of background research ... I don't know the original purpose of the older building nor how old the building is.
     I will probably leave the cars out and the traffic lights in the foreground, but will add the light standards and the traffic lights directly in front of the building. ... And of course, the crane in the background is a must!

Sunday, 2 April 2017


March ... really not sorry to see you go.
     It's been a rough month: surgery, appointments, health scare, death, (not all the same person ... spread over several family members), additional responsibilities mixed in with a healthy dose of winter storms ...  enough stress and activities to take me away from two things I like to do the most: quilting and writing.

     A male friend of one of my daughters has requested a quilt for his bedroom in a mixture of grey/blues and oranges.  I gave him a few suggestions and then he found a picture on-line that he thought was a little more "manly": "Sedimentary" by Debbie Grifka. I modified what I saw and created a queen-sized quilt for him. 
     This is the top before I square it up & add a grey border and take if off to TLC quilters in Bedford, NS to have it machine quilted. 
     Certainly long enough to fit over a thick mattress.  The strips are a mixture of 2", 2.5" and 3".  I sewed it in 6 sections to help keep the strips from going wonky because no matter how much you try to sew a 1/4" seam on a long strip, it can (& will) shift!
     Time to get back to some art quilts. The next SAQA Atlantic show will be "Transitions" ... we already have the approval; I finished the corrections / editing on the paperwork (forms, eligibility, etc) yesterday and will send that off to headquarters. 3 galleries have agreed to host the show and I am still hoping a few more will offer some space soon .... but it does mean, that I can now start to work on a new creation!!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Little Things & Europe

     Sometimes life gets in the way, and the things you most like doing most are put on the back burner.  Both my writing and my quilting have been a little slow this month.
     I was cleaning up the quilting studio and came across a project from a few years ago that had pieces cut out but not sewn. A One Block Wonder hexie quilt had been the intention.
     Here is one sampling of laying the blocks out ... but I'm not liking it. As pretty as the colours are, they don't have enough contrast and the whole effect is busy and bland.  I found some Robert Kaufman plain fabric the exact shade of light blue and dark brown, cut out some triangles to put between the hexies and liked it even less.  The project is back in its container until a new wave of creative energy hits!

     So, something a little more exciting to work on.  I still have many wonderful pictures of my trip from almost a year ago. I had done an outline on my large Europe quilt of the dome of the Hotel (hospital) des Invalides  (hmmm ... don't know how to add the french accent to the "o" in hotel in Blogger). The final piece is 7 X 10 and will probably be used for the SAQA Atlantic Canada trunk show.
And the original

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

It's Been a Little While

One of the advantages of keeping a blog is to realize that when you think ... "what have I done for the past month?", there is actually work accomplished to be shown off and recorded!

     This year, for the first time, I decided to enter the Trend Tex Challenge for Quilt Canada. The topic is "Stitching a Canadian Memory" (lots of Canadian topics this year with our 150th birthday).

     The 5 fabrics arrived in November and after several puzzling days of how to use the multi-coloured fabric, I came up with a sailboat; a variation of the one I did for myself awhile ago in greys & yellows, as well as, a tribute to the first sailboat I see out in the Halifax Harbour in early spring which also is the last one to head to a winter berth for the fall.
     The five Trend Tex fat quarters ... they all work well together, but I am not crazy about the patterned block fabric. There are 2 categories to enter: the first in which you can only use their 5 fabrics and the 2nd where you can add fabrics of your own to complete your quilt.
     I stuck with the fabrics they sent. I made a mistake when quilting the water, creating lazy water flow then realized with the mainsail at such an angle, I would need to create waves to indicate there was a good wind blowing. After quilting the green in a random pattern, I ended up picking it all out and redoing it with outlines of trees and buildings suggesting the view I have across the harbour.

     New Year's Goals are a waste for me ... I never bother keeping them longer than a month, if that, so this year, I shall try to pick out a new goal each month and work on that. 

     January's goal was to use only scraps while quilting .... I am not sure that I even put a dent in the scrap pile, but I have created 3 single-sized tops that will eventually be quilted for a charitable cause.
     This one is a little busy ... but it is with random kid- patterned fabric. Each one has a green centre that matches the sashing; probably should have put a light or white centre to have it stand out a bit more.
     I had a little bin full of fabric left from sashings and bindings ... widths varying from 1 inch to 3 inches. Most of the narrower pieces went in to quilt-as-you-go place mats, which still need bindings done, and the rest went to a strippy quilt. The strippy quilt wasn't quite long enough for a single bed so I added extra sashing and borders.

     And since there were still days left in January, I decided to use up some scraps according to colour. Here are the turquoises, light blues & light greens. This still needs to be sewn together once I decide how much larger it should be. Again, fabric strip widths are random, leaving the white centres a little wonky.