Saturday, February 28, 2009

Prayer flags for Ravenna

Dan and our niece Cilloran and I are going to hear Dan's friend Ravenna Michelson sing at Duke tonight. Ravenna and Dan met during the Bodh Gaya India program and recently he interviewed her for Tricycle Magazine. I'm very much looking forward to the concert and I decided today to make a little gift to take to Ravenna. They are miniature Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags. I made larger versions of prayer flags for one of my one-woman shows in Crawfordsville and when the rain stops, I'll get Dan to help me photograph them for the blog. In the meantime, here are the little ones.

Here they are from the back.

Close up of the blue one.

Close ups of the red and green ones.

And here's the label.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Doorknob art

Safety Pin Studio was open early this morning (5:45!) so I could finish the flag for my Team India students for the Multicultural Fair. I ironed a piece of freezer paper to the center so one of the girls can draw the center motif. You can see my lovely cup of tea in my Hogwarts mug, too.

I'm coming around side three on the baby quilt, but rather than photograph that again, I thought I would show you some "small art"* that I've made for years. Usually, I take one as a gift when we're invited out to eat or as guests at someone's home. One of my friends back in Crawfordsville used to display hers on all of her doorknobs, so my dear husband dubbed them "Doorknob Art". I loved the phrase, so it stuck. Eventually, I found rubber stamps and now I make tags to go on them. I often make these little ornaments for faculty friends, so I use the school colors and embroider the name of the school and crazy piece around it. This is one I did for myself for Skidmore, my undergraduate alma mater.

This one was for my last one woman show, Ancora Imparo ("I am still learning" in Latin).

When I find charms or buttons, I will make a small joy piece. Tea is a very important part of my life, so I also made this one for me.

These are my stamps and several of the tags I've made to go on the doorknob art.

And finally, a hopeful image from my front yard. Sure, some of the leaves got nipped in the last frost, but, they are still trumpeting the arrival of spring!

* "Small art" is a phrase that I first heard in a Judy Collins
song "Bread and Roses." The song lyrics are a poem by James Oppenheim set to music by Mimi Fariña. The poem is incredibly moving. The song just kills. Tissues at the ready. This is the stanza it comes from:
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!
This site has the entire poem and the story of the Lawrence Textile Mill workers who inspired it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Odds and ends

The expression "odds and ends" makes me a little sad now because it always reminds me of George Carlin, but it's a fairly apt phrase to describe today's post. I wore my healing hand with the spiral on my jacket yesterday at school along with the earrings and I'm always surprised how many of the students notice and comment about them. All my earring and pins are extensions of my interests and passions, so it's nice to know that people are seeing those little touches and connecting the images with me. The beautiful orange fabric is from my new cyber friend, Jan over at A Quilty Pleasure. She and I were on the blog hop together last Sunday. She also sent Peeps which made my husband's evening. Thanks, Jan.

Making connections is one of the most fascinating things in life to me. Art is about connecting your inner life to images that help to express what you're thinking and feeling. Because art is one of my major pasions, I love pins that celebrate art. The gold one is a reproduction of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's design for the doorpulls of the Glasgow School of Art.

There are a number of blogs that I read with regularity and I'm always please to connect with the people who write them through common links.

First, a new blog that I added last weekend was MissaBears since Missa was the winner of my OP Challenge prize. We have a good deal in common, not only is she a quilter, she's also a librarian. I always look forward to a new post from Robin at Simply Robin. Yesterday, I discovered that, like me, she loves owls. Below is a paper pieced owl I made for a vest, a post owl pin my mother-in-law sent me and owl earrings.

Niena is a blogger from Malaysia who found me first. I saw a lovely fish quilt on her blog that she posted about in the middle of February. This quilt, like all her work, is colorful and very clever. I often wear fish earrings because it helps the students remember my name. I never really thought much about fish imagery until after I was married and my last name became Fisher. Now I really notice fish images everywhere. These are two of my favorites created by Laurel Burch.

Baby Quilt Status Report:I'm making progress on the baby quilt. (One side is entirely quilted and the second one is marked and begun.) I'm using the big half-hoop on the long sides.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guerilla Knitting

As a sometimes knitter, art lover, and always a rebel, I just loved this story from the Guardian news feed about Magda Sayeg, the founder of Knitta Please, visiting London. She "yarn bombed" or tagged the Southbank with members of the Stitch and Bitch London group, leaving leg warmers, hats, and cozies on sculpture, railings, and lightposts. Magda's working on a project to knit a cover for a bus (!) in Mexico in the near future. This has just the right amount of silliness and fun to appeal to me. If you're curious, here's a blog you can check into called Yarnbombing.
Photo credit:A Southbank sculpture gets a makeover. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

Baby Quilt Update

Well, now that the orange madness is behind us, back to finishing this baby quilt. The one I made previously was meant to go with the cute monkey nursery decorations that are available now. I found this wonderful backing fabric (again) and it started the color palette. This is a close-up on the label that shows the back. I appliqued one of the monkeys onto the label.

This is a shot of the front. Many times I'll use one of the striped fabrics to make bias tape because I love the stripes on the bias. That's what I did here.

As I mentioned, I pin baste the center and then thread baste the edges. I've done enough of these that I can "eyeball" sewing the diagonals, so I don't mark the center.

Once the center is finished, I do mark the borders beginning with a corner. I follow the diagonal lines out to the edge and add several parallel lines of quilting in the corners maintaining the same distance between lines.

Once the corner is quilted,

I mark across that side to the next corner. I use my see-through ruler so I can keep the quilting lines straight and parallel to one another. You can see the tails of thread that I leave on purpose so I don't have to stop and start so much.

I use my lovely half hoop that I got in Paducah years ago to quilt the edges.

Next time, making bias tape and binding the edges.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What I did on the virtual retreat

No, I didn't go to the Yucatan over the weekend, but many thanks to Pat Sloan for a most excellent virtual retreat. This picture is one of the images I included in the back I composed for my OP Challenge piece. (It's me at Uxmal about 22 years ago.) I finished the back of the piece this weekend and I'll share some of the process with you. My piece is called "Mérida Remix" and you can take a look at some of the older posts to get the background information on it. (First update, second update, third update)

After scanning four photos from that trip to the Yucatan 22 years ago, I printed them onto a heat-sensitive transfer paper and ironed them onto white fabric.

I had already printed the label, so I did a sample layout with the pictures around it using scraps of the Mayan fabric.

Once I was satisfied with the layout, I sewed the photos to the label. All seams were pressed with a pressing cloth being used over all the photos for safety.

A word now about determining the size of the various units in the back. The front measures approximately 30 by 27 inches, so I use the grid on my cutting mat to help me determine how big the units needed to be. The label and photo unit was the first unit. Because I want to try to avoid putting too many quilting stitches through the photos, by default, the label will be positioned exactly behind the Mayan fabric on the front which won't be overly quilted.

I then did a trial layout of the rest of the back using the improvisationally pieced blocks from the OP Challenge, and a little block I made with the Mayan fabric artist's name (Escalera).

I made some additions to the first unit and then moved on to firming up the other units.

Here's a close-up of the Escalera block:

I decided that rather than having a large area of blue fabric in the bottom left corner, I'd make another improv block. Here's the start:

Outer block and cross pieces are added.

Second unit ready.

Now I was down to the original three improv blocks.

I decided to attach the first improv block to unit two creating a unit across the entire length of the back.

The last two blocks formed the third and final unit.

As you can see from the grid, I had to add a strip of orange between units one and three to get the measurements to work out.

One more seam right down the middle and the back was finished.

If you didn't follow the links back, here's another look at the front.

Thanks again to Pat Sloan for all the fun and the shout-out in her recap.

And the winner is...

How appropriate for Oscar night! Thank you to everyone who left a comment. I was flabbergasted that so many of you participated. The winner of the orange prize bucket is MissaB26. Congratulations, Missa. If you will email me with your snail mail address, I will send the prize right out to you. Please stop by again. It was lovely hearing from so many of you.

A Leaf for the International Fiber Collective

Robin Koehler over at Nestling by Robin blog also posted to Quiltart about the a beautiful leaf she made for the 2008-2009 project of the International Fiber Collective, Interdependence or the Tree Project. They are making a life-size tree and need 30,000 leaves. They are inviting fiber artists to donate these leaves. Follow the link for an entry form and more information.

The site features a quote by Gandhi:

“Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi, 1929

This got me thinking about India which eventually brought me to the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya.

Photo credit: Danny Fisher

The leaf I'm making will be a bodhi leaf with some embroidered embellishment.

Photo credit:

After finding this great detail image, I chose fabric and decided to use a variegated thread for the veins. I tried to match the floss for the edge with the fabric for the top of the leaf. Iron-on fleece is in the middle.

To join the top and bottom, I worked blanket stitch all around the outside.

Then I worked stem stitch for the veins.

The leaf is on it's way to Alabama and now I must get back to work on my niece's birthday present!

Welcome, OP Challenge Blog Hoppers!

Good morning! Welcome all of you OP Challenge Virtual Reality blog hoppers. It's early. The kettle just boiled so the tea is steeping and I'm ready to show you how I improvisationally piece one of Pat's blocks. Above you can see the prize for one of you hoppers who leaves a comment on this post today. There's lots of lovely floss and decorative threads, beads, buttons, ribbon, fabric, some little cards, and some tags I stamped for you, and a festive nail file. Naturally, in keeping with the challenge, everything is ORANGE! Now, back to the sewing. This block divides down the middle quite nicely, so first, I free cut the fabric for the center block.

Next comes the fabric for the outside block.

These can be chained pieced together. (While I'm not showing photos of it, I always press after I've sewn a seam.)

Next, I free cut the sides of the outside square.

Now I'm ready to sew my second seam.

To make the cross in the middle, I first sew two side sections together with a strip of the cross fabric.

After those are sewn and pressed, I cut the final strip for the cross.

After pressing, here's the new block.

I'll be working on the back of my "Mérida Remix" piece today, taking lots of pictures, and updating progress this evening. Thanks for your comments!