Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finished finishes

I put the project planning on hold and decided to focus a bit on finishing up some completed projects.
 I got the kit for this little pillow in December and have been working on it off and on since.  I didn't bother to pull out the sewing machine and just stitched it by hand.
 I made the Flower Power Angel up into an ornament.  She's going to be on exhibit next month at the Irwin Center in Homewood (with many other amazing pieces by the ladies of the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild.)
And I framed the Sweet Hearts needlepoint. I added some gold to the frame; I'm not sure how I like it.  It's also in the Irwin Center show.

It felt nice to get these things finished finished. All the while the other projects are percolating.

We took advantage of the nice weather on Saturday to take a walk in a nearby woods. We went to Thorn Creek Woods in Park Forest.  The path was the roughest I've done so far. I did okay with it. It's more up and down than what we've been doing, which was nice.  Bits of green starting but still mostly brown landscape. We visited the charming nature center and had a nice chat with the volunteer there. I spent some time at the bird watching window, enjoying the view. I think I saw a Tufted Titmouse.

After the nature center, we stopped at Park Forest Plaza at the Tallgrass Arts Center.  They had an interesting exhibit juxtaposing amazingly detailed landscapes in oil and watercolor paints with encaustic "landscapes" based on satellite images. It's called Near and Far.  We had a lovely chat with the volunteer there, too.  Such interesting people!

This week so far has been crazy.  Ice, sleet and then snow! I had to scrape my windshields this morning and my walk across campus today was way too cold. Yesterday I managed the visit of a circuit court judge and today hosted a big lecture and reception. Now I feel like I need a rest.

Friday, April 11, 2014

More Planning

I did it--I signed up for the EGA Challenge with a Twist. I've thought about it for years, each time a new one is announced, and decided to go for it. I think I have all of Judith Baker Montano's books, which means I like her style and techniques, and it will be amazing to have my work critiqued by her.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my photo choices in the previous post.  The feedback was fairly equal amongst the pictures, which made me feel like all my selections were possible. Thanks!
I had a thought that if I did one of the pieces from Avebury, with the stones, that I might want to use actual stones in the piece. Years ago I saw a quilt where stones had been wrapped in sheer chiffon and attached tot he quilt. I thought that might work. 

On our Dunes excursion Sunday, I looked for possible stones.  The ones below are my picks for the two pictures. Not quite the exact size and shape of the photos, but they capture the feeling of the ancient stones for me. 
They're just about the size of the stones in my printouts. Which is great if I decide to work that small. I'll need to look for some larger stones if I enlarge the pieces.

I still haven't decided on which image, so I'll thinking about all three still. While at the dunes I studied the colors of the water and sky and also looked closely at the dunes grasses.

I'm planning another embroidery now, too. My EGA chapter is doing some programs on Crazy Quilting and I decided to play along.  One of my favorite online shops, Evening Star Designs, is going out of business. (sadness)  I took advantage of a sale to get a creative pack with the silkie above. I love all of the detail and how the embroidered flowers and birds come to life and fly from the hoop. I didn't notice the dragon or his hoard until later.
Between that pack and a creative pack sent me at the holidays by a good friend, Jenny, I have a good start. Most of the fibers, beads, and trims above came in the Evening Star Designs kit.
These fabrics are about 50/50 Evening Star Designs and the pack from Christmas--from the Old Chapel Textile Center and National Needlework Archive in Berkshire, UK. I had some red velvet on hand to add. Just at the thinking and gathering stages right now.  It may never get much further, but I'm having fun.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Some signs of Spring!


Last Sunday we went out to Lubeznik Center for the Arts to see the current exhibits. 
What Is Left Unspoken is the show in the main gallery.
 Doug Fogelson is a photographer. (Tree branches placed onto sensitive paper, above.)
Barbara Hashimoto did a series of pieces based on shredded junk mail. 
Both artists had very interesting concepts that made me think.
Upstairs, Laurel Izard had a couple of exhibits. One was of her drawings and collages. The collages were made with textbook pages (she's a teacher). They were a really fun surprise. And very different from her art that we had gone to the gallery to see...
The main reason we went was to see Laurel Izard's embroideries--Embroidered Archetypes: The Major Arcana.  They were awesome and you should go and see them if you can get to Michigan City. (the show runs through May 10)  Sorry, the photo is off kilter--it was really hard to get a picture without reflections. Another image is here.  And some of her other work, here.

The pieces are small and solidly embroidered. They are full of details--each time I looked at a piece, I saw something new. And there are a lot of them.  I'd say around 30 perhaps.   Go!

Downstairs was some school art--their take on the "Keep Calm" meme was fun.
And, finally, some green growing. These bulbs coming up were are the Dune's Visitor Center.  Sun, too. Notice--no snow on the ground.  It was still chilly, but at this point, I'll take what I can get!
This lovely tile flower was decorating a pillar inside of the visitor center.  Spring year 'round.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


The EGA is currently offering a Challenge, Thinking like a Painter with Fabric, Threads, and Yarns, with Judith Baker Montano.  I really like her work and the Challenge would be a chance to use some of her techniques and ideas to make my own design.  

So, I'm really thinking about doing this. I'd do the Challenge with a Twist--for a bit extra fee, I can have her review things before I get too far, followed by a critique at the end.

I need an image with a distinct background, midground and foreground.  I've been looking through my photos and I can't decide. I've weeded it down to three and I'm not sure which would be the most interesting and has the strongest design.

All of my choices include either people or houses--some sign of people. Most of Judith's designs do not have people (although some have houses).  And I don't take many landscapes--most of my photos are of family and friends or are close ups of details I see.  

Please let me know what you think about these photos--can you see any of them as embroideries?  Does one stand out to you? Do you think they're all "feh"? 
 1. Lake Michigan
 2. Avebury
3. Longstones

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Flower Power Angel

When I first saw this angel, with her braids, I thought of me. I used a Needle Necessities overdyed floss with a bit more gray in it than I had back then. I dug in my stash for some beads and butterflies and some teeny-tiny buttons to sew on.
Recently, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of us in the 70s. I was wearing big heart shaped, hot pink sun glasses. (The first sunglasses I liked enough that I never lost them! I wore them for years.) So, I decided to give my angel hot pink, heart shaped sunglasses.
Inspired by Susan Elliot of the Plays with Needles blog, I made a plan. I found hot pink wire at Jo-Ann's and bent it into the right shapes (my first effort ended up being the final glasses I used). I tried gluing plastic wrap onto the formed test wires, and it stuck! So, then I found dark green nail polish and painted it onto the plastic wrap and glued that to my wire glasses and voila!  Heart shaped, hot pink sun glasses!  I poked them through the canvas and just bent the wires over. 

I'll make her into an ornament.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Still not spring

We're still having intermittent snow here. No sign of anything growing yet. Today is gray and rainy (at least it's not more snow today).

Last weekend Uncle Willie (my dad's cousin) hosted a "birthday party" in honor of his grandfather (my great), George Hill. George and Dorothy Hill were my father's mother's parents. I realized after the fact that this was my first big post-surgery outing. I couldn't have picked a better one.
A great group of family and a few friends came to hang out, reminisce, and listen to wonderful music from Ed Hill (second cousin once removed) (and endless repeats of the UofI and UMich fight songs from Uncle Willie, who had the time of his life). Sorry about the microphone face--Eddie's music is awesome, KALEIDOSCOPE - Ed Hill's original music.
This is me (right, wearing an ancient t-shirt with a 1940s family photo), Uncle Willie on the left, I'm not sure who the guy is--maybe the local historical society director, the lovely lady in black is cousin Mary Beth.
This is my custom stenciled tattoo, made by a couple of enterprising young cousins ($2 for the tattoo and many people were sporting these tattoos). The ink was glittery and lasted a few days. (seeing this made me realize my arm looks exactly like my Aunt Dorothy's--all speckled.)
A couple more cousins, a younger generation Willie and Gus (a younger generation George), brothers. We must not have much imagination with naming...Lots and lots of Georges, but also a few Williams and Jameses, too.  I'm named for both of my grandmothers, following the trend. Thanks to Cousin Barb for making this all happen.
I did get some stitching done on the angel. It took me a lot of trial and error and ripping and redoing to figure out the offset pattern for the flowers.  The few in the center bottom are complete, leaves and all.  Last night I had a good night of stitching (sitting with post therapy ice packs on both knees). I completed the dress and also the halo. The pattern called for more flowers in the halo but I filled it in with an alternating tent stitch type stitch (don't know what it's called), using all six colors from the skirt.  I really like the colors.
This is the alternating tent stitch I used.  I did three rows with two colors in each row, which made it look a bit more random.  I'll post a current photo next week.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Some Progress

I've begun a new project that was lurking in that ten-year-old or so bag I've been working from.
This one is a Hippie Angle (officially Flower Child Angel). I completed another angel, way back when, a stitching angel. I recall it being a bit fiddly (open canvas so each item needs to be completed with no carried threads). I think that's what relegated this to the pile.  I do like the design, though, and had materials collected. In true hippie fashion, the perle cotton I used for the outline and face is dyed by me with onion skins.  It goes well with the eggshell canvas. I used cross stitch rather than tent for the outlines. I think the more finished edge makes finishing it into an ornament easier.
She reminds me of me with her braids (my hair used to be that dark!) and beads. I wore either patchouli or strawberry oil for perfume most days.  And mostly bluejeans (embroidered, of course).
This is a new project come my way. NeedleArtisans of Northwest Indiana's 2014 challenge project. In addition to the materials provided, I must also use the two items pulled from the hat (for me, thanks! I missed the meeting.)  Very springy colors, just what's needed now!
These are a finish but I can't really claim it.  My friend Renee passed on in January and I've been helping her husband with her needlework estate.  We found these socks nearly complete. One was done, the other done past the heel to the body of the foot. I suspect the dropped stitch (neatly captured in a pin) was the reason they ended up in the ufo pile.  I picked it up and finished knitting the second sock. I believe they're for her sister.  I haven't knit socks in a long time and it was fun.