February CQJP finished

Finished this cedar waxwing last night and will take a break from CQJP to reorganize and get other projects underway.. upcoming birds will be hummingbird, robin on nest, barn owl and swallow.
Hit the thrift shops yesterday and found a few treasures including another revolving shoe rack...What wonderful space savers and organizers they are.  This one is much nicer than the other one I used for thread and ribbon.  I will fix this one for paint bottles.  Who would ever use it for shoes??????


So far so good.......

So far so good with Plan A..  Getting ready to position the waxwing and do more gold stuff. 

Last night's dinner.  Duck crepes with a plum sauce.  Happy Hubby!


Having a "Ducky Day"

Cooking covers every emotion for me.  When I'm happy I cook up a storm and when I'm REALLY depressed I cook up even a bigger storm..  Along with my Morris book and tambourine I want to be buried in an apron and red shoes. 

Several years ago I decided to make a doll in my own image and here it is. I actually had a mirror on the table as I sculpted the face... The head is sculpted from paperclay... I love wearing red and probably have more red coats and red shoes than any normal person should have. So of course a doll in my own image had to have red shoes...
And today I am having a "ducky day."  I have duck parts brining in the frig, duck fatty bits rendering on the stove and  a duck carcass in the oven making broth for French onion soup.  I'm thinking of fixing the old greenhouse so I can raise a few ducks and geese this summer.  We had geese before and the coyotes got them so have to have something secure.
 I baked a plum tart first thing this morning and also found a recipe for "Uncle Bubba's Seafood Pot Pie" with a puff pastry crust...which I will try this week end.  It has crab (I will use halibut) shrimp, scallops and oysters.  (I will leave out the oysters) 
Here's a close up of the gourmet cake......not going to win any blue ribbon at the fair!!!!


Fast, easy and painless piecing

(I combined  previous posts into this one.) I know many people love piecing blocks but for me it is a tedious chore at  best.  So whenever I am doing a batch I do a couple extra.  Since I have the whole mess out, it not that hard to do a couple more.  I keep a bag of the extras and sometimes I use them when I join a round robin or give them to a student to get them going...  I just want to get the blocks done as soon as I'm able and get to the fun part...

I've tried the Martha Green's crumb method,  Allie's curve method, and Judith Montano method's of piecing.  But I always go back to just paper piecing and mostly use the same pattern over and over... This time  I'm using  Sharon Boggin's block pattern - #28.  This means every single block is #28.  Once you rotate the blocks and embellish, no one ever notices that they are all the same pattern...  Believe me!!!! I  enlarged it a bit so I will have an 8" square block when done.  If want some advice on choosing a paper pattern I posted some here.

I don't even pay any attention to what colors are going to go where on a block when cutting.  Once I have my pile of fabrics I just start stacking and cutting at random ... trying to get as many different fabrics per patch as possible...  Then I will sorta deal them out at random, making any necessary adjustments.  Of course this works the best when you have a large selection of fabric like I did this time..


If you did a good job gathering fabrics which  are harmonious, it is nearly impossible to mess up from that point on.  If you look at your fabrics in a pile and like them, toss them around and still like them, they are going to look good on a block no matter what you do... This the "pile test".  I do this with trims with students even before they pick fabric because it you assemble a pile of trims that work together, you can work backwards and pick the fabric last..

Now I had several choices.. I could make blocks one each month, or in smaller batches or do all 12 at once.  Doing them all at once will give you a more consistent look if you plan to use them together.. I chose all at once because piecing is not my favorite and I wanted it over with.  Here is how I go about it.

Stach &  Wack:  I just stack random fabrics from the pile five at a time and cut.    Because I  am piecing 14 blocks I cut 14 assorted  fabric of each pattern piece.. no plan.   You can see the pile of patches on the left. I put up two card tables and laid out 14 squares of card stock paper.
Note: the card stock sheets act as a tray

Then I took a pile of each pattern piece and just randomly put it on a square in the right position. Trying not to put two of the same fabric adjacent to each other.

Until I had them all out... Then I stepped back and tweeked a few here and there.  I try to balance out color, value, and patterns at this point...I'm not too fussy.  I had a lot of   patches from paisley ties and I wanted some on each block..  This goes VERY fast because I try to not overthink this at this point...  Any goofs I make at this point can be dealt with when I start embellishing.

The pieces of card stock act like trays and I can just pile them up and head to the sewing machine.

I set a small folding table (old TV tray table) next to the sewing machine, put a towel and my little travel steam iron on it so I can press  seams without getting up.  And off I go with the pieces already on the paper trays  next to the machine.  I stitch all the 1s and 2s,, press...add all 3s press and so on

Within no time I have them 14 done.
Although I pressed seams as I went along, at this point they need a good press and put on a foundation but the piecing is done for the entire year..

These are very rich blocks in this winter pastel palette.  Lots of silk, taffetas, and velvets. Most of the silk patterned patches are from a day we hit a thrift store with an overstock of ties that were only 49 cents a piece.


Charting new waters....

Charting new waters or wading in over my head.  I'm about to start the waxwing and they have such a soft smooth look that I want to use layers of tulle and keep it simple.  On this frog from the gold RR I used lace over several layers of tulle.  The lace has been cut away and he is ready to cut out but you can still see the tulle.

On this perfume bottle I tried netting over about 4 layers of tulle and lame....  This was from the same round robin.

So on the waxing it's only going to be only tulle...4 layers - two different colors.  To keep it spare I will only use the tiniest of my gold beads for the shading and the smallest cording to secure it.  That is the plan A anyway...should work..  hope not to  have to find a plan B...(or C).

I have picked the lace for the wing and painted it gold. I will pin down all layers of tulle and work through all layers and not cut away the tulle until it is entirely done...

Had a spectacular sunset last night. 


Let there be even MORE light...

I got another Luxo magnifying lamp so I have one at the dining table in addition to the one on the painting table.. What a difference.

I purchased my first Luxo over a year ago for my button painting and I just can't imagine life without it now.. Shirley Fassell got one about the same time and I emailed her to see if she still liked it....  Received a sentence back with a long string of loves describing her feeling about her Luxo..

The first Luxo is attached to my painting table and not easily moveable and I had been using my old magnifying lamp at the dining table.

I can tell you what I didn't like about the old magnifying lamp. Besides the incandescent bulb, the spring arm was controlled with little knobs which were constantly loosening no matter how hard I tightened them and I ttied to solve that with a pieces of wood and clamps..  Then there was the lens and lamp... It only was adjustable up and down - not side to side... AND weight of the lens and lamp always caused it to gradually sag downward.  So I was constantly adjusting it...  Plus the magnification and light were as not strong enough anymore. 

I had recently sold two antique wrought iron lamps and the money couldn't have a better use than more light for me.

The original post about the lamp was fall of 2014  but to recap  I learned quite quickly that magnifying lamps are available from about $38  to about $500.  First you are confronted with an alphabet soup of initials... KFM, LFM, IFM, LED, and ESD plus what seemed to be endless choices for mounts, length of reach, lights, position of lights and  circles of increased magnification.  etc...and then there's the shape of the lens and the quality of the lens itself.  I was desperately wishing there were somewhere I could just try one...  I had already ordered one that was mid-range price and sent it back as it had a problem with distortion and the lights were on each side of the lens which was terrible.

Then much to my delight and  surprise at this very moment Shirlee Fassell  published on post on this subject.  She was having the same problems but her husband bought a lamp at All-Spec and she loved it... And that is how I came to order this wonderful magnifying lamp.

And I can tell you right off the KFM refers to the quality of the construction.  This lamp is heavy duty construction and suitable for use in a scientific lab and when I position it, it stays there.  The head is completely adjustable... side  to side, up and down and tipped every which way.  This is especially nice when I am working on MOP buttons which have weird reflective areas.  I had a 3 diopter (strength of lens) and moved up to a 5 diopter and chose a LED lamp which is dimmable.   The lens itself is optical quality and fabulous..     This lamp was  about $360 or more plus shipping but right now it is on sale. This is definitely a case of getting what you pay for.  I don't know how long the sale lasts but if you are in the market for an excellent magnifying lamp...


The Luxo KFL026128 is a KFM LED 5 diopter high output illuminated magnifier with a 30" reach and edge clamp mount.
Luxo KFL026128 Features:
  • Ideal for any inspection or assembly applications
  • Dimmable 9W LED light source produces 2500 lux at 12" working distance
  • Produces nearly 75% greater light output than traditional KFM models
  • Automatic shut-off feature for energy savings
  • 5 diopter (2.25X) optical quality glass lens
  • Fully enclosed neck assembly with 30" reach heavy-duty internal spring arm
  • No knobs to tighten or adjust
  • Self-balancing shade allows the lamp head can be secured in any position
  • Weighted base for easy transfer and mobility
  • Color: Grey
  • UL/CUL listed
  • 5 year warranty


Next birds and progress report

One of the things I failed to mention last month that often I will print several paper copies of a bird (or other image) in various sizes and place the cutouts on the block to see what size works best.  I can also use these cutouts as "space holders" when I'm planning my stitching.

The next two gold birds will be a cedar waxwing and a hummingbird.
The waxwing is, as you can see, fairly simple shapes and can be transferred  easily with my "cut away" transfer method.

On the other hand the hummingbird is quite complex but it too can still be easily transferred you just have to cut away more parts.  Shown here as a paper cutout above (sections marked for placement of gold embellishments)  and below the results after doing the transfer by cutting away bits.

Things I've learned so far: 

I figured the gold velour was going to be a bit stretchy headache but I had to try it anyway because I loved the color and texture.  But it turned out to be fabulous.  The color enhanced the beads, etc. and it was a dream to applique....so I am using it some more...  I couldn't have been more shocked at how well it worked out.

Next my initial plan was to paint a bunch of lace gold and work from that.  But there is such small amounts of lace on the birds and the shape has to be so specific, I realized I'd end up with a pile of gold lace I wouldn't use.  So I will paint lace gold as I need it..


First block finished... adventure underway!

The January block was finished once my signature button was attached.  The first birds that come to mind now are waxwing, hummingbird, and swallow...  Having a new bird to look forward each month will keep this challenge interesting.


All work and no play

From its inception Susie and I had planned this visit as "all work and no play."  Usually we do a lot of stitching, shopping and fun things but not this time.

I had a basic pattern for the chatelaine but it desperately needed fine tuning and better instructions before it could be saleable.  Susie is a whiz at detail and we have been breaking down the pattern step by step and she has been busy redrafting the pieces to be useable in PDF format.

As for my part (besides helping with the pattern) I have mostly had my nose to the computer as Susie is about to launch a new venture and needs a blog which I have been helping her set up and also have been working on the graphics for her new header and business cards.

For breaks we have been experimenting with the variety of DecoArt gold products which she is sharing with me.  I was able to finish gilding the lace the January CQJP2016 yesterday and have gathered a pile of more lace  to do over the next few days... There are about 5 shades of gold in the paints and another 5 shades in the rub-on pastes.

Of course doing all this work does not keep us from continually chatting and laughing..


Pattern for little bird...

I've had many inquiries about a pattern for my little gold bird.  I worked directly from a picture of a real wren and just
marked off sections for gold treatments.  Exactly what I worked from is in the tutorial.  You could download it to whatever size you would like and work from it.  Feel free to do so.  The reverse image is because I applied it to the back of the material...  see tutorial.  If you put something different in each section you can't go wrong.
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