Sunday, February 24, 2008

Take It Further, February

For the theme, "What Can You Remember?", I focused on myself as a college student. I loved college, everything about it. And although I was always waiting till the last minute to study because I enjoyed my social life, I was serious, even excited, about all the new worlds and ideas out there to learn about. It was important to me to understand, to think, to read as much as I could. I definitely needed to lighten up (still do). The photos were mostly taken from a picture in the yearbook of me student teaching, an awful picture actually. Why the editors ran it, I can't imagine. But there I am, intense, naive, and boring those kids to death! It was so important then, and isn't now--and so the Bob Dylan line. There's not much to say about the construction of the piece. I scanned the photos, colored them on Photo Shop, and made this very amateurish collage. There's little stitching because I've packed up my machine, and the heavy weight of the fabric doesn't allow for hand work.

Thinking about this period was fun. By coincidence I just read a piece in my alumni magazine by a classmate and well known journalist, who described this era as the last time when college girls posed for photos in sweater sets and pearls, with their hands folded and their legs crossed. I'm not wearing pearls in the picture, but I could have been!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tip for Squaring Up

Yesterday I made the unpleasant discovery that the square background for my Hoffman circle wasn't perfectly square in spite of all my supposedly careful marking and cutting. Since the circle has to look exactly centered, I couldn't just trim. I was hopelessly confused about what part to cut, but solved the problem by making a square of paper the correct size (34 inches), and then putting that over the inaccurate piece. I could see the outline of the circle through the paper, so it was relatively easy to move the paper until the circle was centered, and then cut along the edge of the paper square. I don't think I had this idea by myself. It's one of those things that I read somewhere and had buried in the unconscious until needed. I thought I'd pass it on. The top of the Hoffman is finished now; I'm sending my sewing machine to rehab before I quilt it. We need time apart, for sure!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Plan Ahea...

I successfully handled the tricky construction bits of the Hoffman, but then when I looked at it, I realized I had to add these additional shapes--too much blank space in the dark blue areas. I had put these shapes on and taken them off several times in the past, but had convinced myself I didn't need them. Wrong. And it would have been SO much easier to do the applique when I had a small piece to maneuver, or even a 30" circle instead of a 36" square. I think the moral of this is, if you think maybe you should do it, do it. This definitely applies to ripping out, and I guess to adding too.

And here are some pieces to be in the Take It Further Challenge, when I get to it. I seem to be able to only work at one thing at a time, partly because of obssessiveness, and partly because the mess from one project takes over the entire work space.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Success (almost)

I sewed the Hoffman together and it did go into an (almost) perfectly flat and even circle. A bit of fudging and fiddling was required, but I'm pleased. Now "all" that's left is to figure out how to draw a perfect 28" circle with that wobbly compass ruler I have, sew the bias strip that makes the edge on that circle, and meet a new engineering challenge of how to put together the pieces that square the circle, since they're narrower at the center of the circle than the corners. I've got ideas for both of these, but the execution is the trick. And then there's the quilting...

But for now I'm getting my hair done!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Are We Sick of This Yet?

This is about as good as it's going to get. I gave up fighting the gold on the flower and added more, including gold as the backing to the plate/circle. There will be more gold thread accents, probably as part of the quilting. I'm starting the assembly now, hoping that everything will fit together.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Take It Further, January and February

I have been thinking about my February piece, but don't have anything to post yet. As part of the memory theme, I'm going to use photos and scanned images to make a collage about myself in my college and early professional years. It was going to be black and white images, but I just discovered how to add color to black and white via Photoshop, so I may try that. I've been making a continuing, but very erratic, irregular, and frustrated attempt to learn more about Photoshop, and this will give me an incentive to practice. I find I can only stand a few minutes at a time, and then can't remember what I learned to do. A better manual would really help; it would also help to have Photoshop Elements instead of Adobe Creative Suite. (We have that for my husband's work, but Photoshop CS is way, way beyond anything I would ever need or be able to use. Ironically, he knows even less than I do.)

I wrote to the publisher of 4000 Flower and Plant Motifs to ask permission to use their motif so that I could donate my January TIF piece to Ami Simms' Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, and received an email this morning granting permission, so as soon as I make it to the Post Office for the prepaid envelope, I should be all set. This would be a good use for any of these pieces that anyone didn't feel the desire to save. I have an interest in the cause because my father suffered from Alzheimer's, and as I struggle with Photoshop, I begin to wonder...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not a Paid Announcement...

The other day while I was browsing in the Hallmark store for Valentines and birthday cards for my sisters, I found this great looking little tote. It's made out of African mud cloth, produced in Mali by dying fabric with actual mud. It's usually brownish, not black like this, but otherwise looks quite genuine to me. Hallmark is having a special promotion of a line of products, cards and gifts, with the label RED. Part of the proceeds goes to help fight AIDS in Africa. I couldn't pass up the chance to buy some of this cloth, already made into something, Mud cloth products are expensive, even in Africa, and it's a good cause, although I could be cynical about what percent of the money actually gets to Africa. Nevertheless, I bought two, one for myself, and one to solve the problem of a sister B-day gift. Maybe some other fabric lovers might like to know about it. And by the way, if you want a laugh, I strongly recommend the comic birthday cards section. It works for me every time.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moving On

I'm back to the Hoffman--maybe I see some light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn't a creative breakthrough though, but new fabric. There's something wrong about that.

For full disclosure, here is what I had last week. I don't like it; it's too much dark, and there is too much stark contrast between dark and light.

Here is what I'm doing about changing:

I've added another medium value fabric (this was what I had been unable to find), and also a busier dark in the center). I think this may work better. There are still decisions to be made about the center and the outer rim, not to mention the square that will hold the circle. I think I'm ready to do more stitching, but that's what I thought Friday! I am not pleased with the way this is working out, even now, but I decided to be brave and post anyway. You have to stick you neck out sometimes.

And how cute is this!

We stopped by yesterday to watch the twins eat oatmeal, and then left cold, sunny Chicago to return to cold, snowy home. We definitely live on the wrong side of Lake Michigan.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Grumble, Grumble

I pulled my Hoffman Challenge post because I think I jinxed myself by putting it up. Nothing is going together right on this. I can't find quite the right fabric, so in trying to make the best of a second rate lot, I've changed my mind a dozen times. Yesterday I thought I had it, and began to sew. I finished enough to put it on the wall, and realized there are still problems, so I will continue to try to tweak it. Very discouraging. In the meantime the Take It Farther February thing hangs over my head. Can't do anything till Monday anyway because we're going to Chicago today. It's going to be the classic, miserably cold Chicago day, windy with temperatures that feel below zero. The mink coats will be out in full force tonight; almost makes me wish I had one!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat Tuesday

I couldn't resist--This is a traditional Polish pre-Lenten treat called a paczki (pronounced punch-key). Yum. It's basically a richer jelly doughnut, and although lemon is my favorite, I happily settled for raspberry. Happy Fat, and Super, Tuesday everyone.

Take It Further, February

Sharon B's challenge for the month is the question "What are you old enough to remember?" Like everyone else, I've thought of historical events (many are the same as others, but some of mine go far back), but I've also thought of more personal things connected with my childhood at the farm, and my family. I'm thinking of using an old photo in some way, but everything I think of is the sort of thing I've seen done several times, so I'll keep worrying at it until something comes out that speaks to me, I guess. Bob Dylan's words "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now," keep going through my head. I'm going to try to work them in. Since this is just for personal use, I guess Bob wouldn't sue.

In the meantime I progress S-L-O-W-L-Y with the Hoffman Challenge.