Thursday, September 17, 2015

Blog Hiaitus

I feel like I'm caught in limbo right now. In two weeks I'm retiring from working at the University of Chicago for the past 27 years. And I'm looking forward to it. 

My first task will be to have some revision surgery on my replacement hip.  I just can't seem to get past that, to see what else the future will bring. 
I'm looking forward to having time to clean and clear out. In the long term that will mean I'll have better access to my supplies, know what I have and where it is, get rid of things I know I will not do, and I'll be able to do better work, I hope. Perhaps move in new directions.

In the short term, I suspect it all means that actual stitching by me will be in short supply. I'm not sure what kind of routine and schedule I'll work out in the end.  So, for now I'm going to take a blog break and give myself time to work through the transition and see where I end up.

I suspect it's likely to be back here.

Thank you very much for reading my blog and for all of your comments and support. 
I began this blog in May 2010 and this is the 1018th post.

Monday, September 7, 2015

EGA 2015 Challenge Wrap-Up

As was my experince last year, my finished challenge piece came back quickly with a lovely note.
I'm already looking foward to next year's challenge.

Visiting Galleries

Since I sent off the EGA Challenge piece, I've not been working seriously on anything. We have been having fun vising local galleries on weekends.  Last weekend we visited the Illinois State Gallery in Lockport.  There's a really exciting show there, thanks to local artists and the city of Lockport. And No Thanks to the Illinois state government.  

Governor Rauner wants to close all of the Illinois State Museums.  A few short years ago when this issue came up, there was huge public outcry and they did not close. This time--silence!  

The show is really wonderful. The state cancelled the insurance for the galleries, which means they had to take down the (just installed) regular show.  Lockport's mayor stepped in and added the gallery building to the city's insurance. A call went out to artists for works and, as you can see below, they got wonderful response.
This flier explains about the show.
Here's another photo.  The gallery is set to "go dark" on September 30th; the employees have been sent layoff notices.  The show is full of such good energy and well worth a visit.
This weekend we headed east instead of west and visited Valparaiso University's Brauer gallery.  They have a thought provoking exhibit on friendship dolls that were exchanged between America and Japan both before WWII and continued more recently.  The dolls are very sweet and the descriptions had me looking at them very carefully.  The exhibit documentation also discussed issues in care and conservation of material objects from different perspectives.
 My husband is enjoying the friendship dolls. They are surprisingly large. The little things in the case to his right are the doll's accessories--including a full tea set, hand-made fans, shoes, lacquer trunks, and sweet sewing boxes.
This is a traditional display of dolls set up for Girl's Day each year---the Emperor and Empress are at the top, and each layer is a bit lower in status.  The third layer is musicians with instruments.  The display explores dolls in Japanese culture and Japanese culture in the west.
This sculpture display is also at Brauer.  The exhibits close December 13.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Two Finishes!

I finished the back of the EGA Challenge by covering the back and edges of the mounting foamcore with a dark coordinating fabric, hand stitched all around. I like the "finished" look of it, even without a frame.
Not really noticable here, except as a thin dark line around the edge. I mailed it off to Judy Jeroy yesterday.  

I stitched this holiday design a while back and a friend gave me the perfect frame. I finally got it all together and laced the linen to a piece of mat board and put it in the frame.  I backed the frame and added a small sawtooth hanger.

Here are some closeups.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

EGA Challenge Nearly Done

I got down to work and have completed the stitching on the EGA challenge piece.  I've begun mounting it on foamcore. All I need to do now is add the backing fabric and personal information and I can send it off to Judy Jeroy.
Here it is.  The top wheel is a detached stuffed shape.  It took me a while to figure out how to stitch and stuff the complex shape.  I ended up cutting the top layer from fabric, adding two cut layers of batting to it and then basting the top seam allowances to the back of the batting.  Then I cut a backing piece, folded in the seam allowances, and hand stitched it to the prepared top piece.  That sounds more organized than it was--there were some tiny seams and clipped curves and I just made it up as I went along.  There were so many layers and then the wooden sticks for the rods, that I ended up gluing the top wheel to the piece.  I couldn't sew it on invisibly or neatly. 
 Here are some close ups.
And another cropped view of the whole--without the ragged edges showing. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Judy Souliotis

This past week, stitcher and designer Judy Souliotis passed away.  I was very sad to hear this news. She was a wonderful designer and teacher.

Several years ago I took a wonderful class with her at the Chicago ANG retreat at Donaldson. All Au ver a Soie silks and Kreinik metallic threads on black canvas.
This is the piece and it was an amazing class.  Judy had added gold leaf and gold paint to the canvas and placed some beginning design lines so everything fit perfectly--a ton of work for a large class. She was so enthusiastic about the ideas, techniques, stitching--the class was vibrant and alive.

For me, I loved the needlepoint with a Japanese twist--the design has a Japanese influence and some of the techniques are based on those in Japanese embroidery.  

I learned so much in this class about color and color placement, working with metallics, working with silks, working on black canvas, couching techniques...and that's just off the top of my head today years later.

I finished the piece in 2010 and I'm very pleased with it. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Challenge progress

I realized that the challenge ends Sept 1st and I need to get moving!
 I decided to stitch the rim on the large wheel using raised stem stitch.  I had stitched on some batting to pad it, but realized that was a mistake--it was too easy to catch in the needle. For raised stem stitch you don't go through the fabric, but skim the surface to make the stitch. 

Above is my first bar--most of this will be off the edge of the picture, so I'm going to leave it as is, even though I'm not thrilled. I did learn a lot about doing the stitch.
For the second band, in the upper left, I removed the batting and stitched over a piece of paper. That worked much better.   For the long band on the right, I left the batting but added a piece of paper on top of it so I have the padding but could also stitch without catching it. That worked very well.

I've also added a circle in the center--part of the next layer of these articulated arms that come out of the center.
I cropped this picture (above) to the edge, just to see how it looks at this point. 
And here's a hint of my plans for the next step. I'm covering wooden coffee stirrers with fabric to make the articulated arms.  I've decided that I need to give the piece a good pressing before adding these more dimensional elements and I haven't been home yet this week to do that. 

Summer time!

It's been hot here more often than not. Lazy summer days!  Our yard is an explosion of pink--the phlox is in bloom.
This morning I picked some kale to add to my lunch salad. Bliss!

Last weekend we visited India Fest in Schererville at the Indian Cultural Center.  Music, food, fun, and lots of glitzy jewelry and clothing. Cute children performing songs and dances.
I got a henna flower on my palm. I love how the color changes. It's bright orange here, in the photo taken Sunday night. Now it's turned brown and is starting to fade. 

I noticed on my walk this morning that the maple across the street already has a few bright red leaves. This tree is always the first to change, but really--August?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Lull

I'm wading through the piles of paperwork on my desk that accumulated while doing the summer program, but mostly things are calmer. Thank goodness! 
My fun news is that I got to hold the baby. My great-nephew William is five-weeks old and still getting used to things here.  They came up Saturday for the 30th wedding anniversary party for my sister and her husband. A fun time was had by all in the pavilion on the Fox River. 

My other news is that I will soon retire.  It came up faster than I'd expected or planned--pushed along by yet another office reorganization.  I think it'll be fine once I figure it all out, so that's what I'm doing right now.  I'm envisioning more stitching, more traveling, more husband, and I'm looking forward to all of that.

And speaking of stitching.  I'm still plugging along slowly...
I stitched down the overlay for the current level of the EGA challenge piece and I added outline stitch around the edges of the blue wheel.  This time I used black with a color for a thicker line and tweedy effect to catch some light.
I've basted down padding for the rim of the wheel. After I took this photo I began stitching one of the shorter sections with raised outline stitch. I'm not sure I like it, but I think I need to add more rows and really pack it full to see for sure.

Friday, July 17, 2015

No Stitchin'--been busy at work

For the past two weeks, we've had a group of about 80 faculty here from universities around the world. They're here for a two-week intensive course in four Law and Economics topics. This is the fourth year we've run this program.  In addition to their course work, we organized a bunch of academic and  fun activities at the University and around Chicago. 

Here they are touring our Law Library. (It's not only one of the best Law Libraries, it's also beautiful!)
This is a typical lunch break. We had a wide variety of lunches brought in from caterers and local restaurants. Faculty joined the lunches to talk about various legal and economic issues.
We sent them on a bike ride down Lake Shore Drive. Many don't quite understand why we encourage this activity, until they see the amazing views they encounter on the way. They end at Navy Pier with dinner. I organized this (and all) events, but didn't go on this one myself.
It's been a busy two weeks with endless questions from and conversations with group members. We had a picnic on the beach with hot dogs and smores, Chicago style pizza, lots of special guests and lectures. It's sure kept us all hopping, but is also great fun. 

And it's helping my walking program...I've walked more some days these two weeks than I used to walk in a whole week!

Friday, July 10, 2015

EGA Challenge--layers 4 and 5

Sorry, this was to have been posted last week...

I've been doing the pressing and organizing on the weekends and trying to do some stitching on the week days.  Below is layer 4. I pressed it over freezer paper and then stitched it with the paper still in to give it a bit of thickness and stiffness. 
The edges where they overlap the box shape at the bottom are outlined in red flower thread.
 This is layer 5. It's appliqued on and the right half is outlined in black flower thread. The outline really makes the shape pop.  This shape is a turquoise cotton with matte grey lace over it. I cut fat seam allowances, so most of the shape is a double (or triple around the edges where seam allowances overlap each other) layer.  The lace added a lot of thickness and body.
I've seen some facebook conversations lately about how much stuff (or little) people need when working on a project. I tend toward pulling a lot more than I'll ever need.  This is my bag of threads (with a package of gray rickrack I thought I might use) for this project. It's mostly flower threads, some floss. And spools of sewing thread for the applique. So far I've used red and black flower thread.  But who knows what all I'll use before I'm done.

More Layers

 Here is layer five done--I like it and I like the feeling of depth I'm getting. I was surprised by how much the simple embroidery added to it.
 Layer 6 and I'm not so sure.  Here it is appliqued. I set it aside to look at and think.
While thinking, I pinned on the next partial layer, designed to show the insides of the large wheel. I like the way it highlights the spokes, add back focus and depth, and tones down all that turquoise, so I think I'll go ahead and stitch it down.  Next I want to add some detail embroidery around.

That may not be for a week or two.  These two weeks are our Summer Institute and things are beyond busy. I love it--we have 80 faculty and graduate students here from around the world. They're a lovely, friendly, very nice group and I'm having a great time getting to know them. But I'm going home and crashing each night.

It's helping my walking--I've walked just about as much every day this week than I'd done in an entire week before!  But I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend and perhaps a nap each day.  Next week will be another fast paced circus.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Odds and Ends

I have a finished object!--it's a bead wrap bracelet I'm going to be teaching next year at Homewood Guild.  It's designed by "On the Surface." I couldn't find a website for them.
 It wraps five times around my wrist.
 My EGA challenge piece from last year is on display in a show at Calumet College in Whiting, Indiana. We went to the opening last week and it was fun.
 And after I ran a conference with them last week, the Law Review board presented me with this gorgeous vase and flowers.  I have them at the office, since I'm there more than at home.

Friday, June 26, 2015

EGA Challenge--adding layers

 Layer 2 was plain applique. I pressed the freezer paper pattern to the back and clipped and pressed the seams using the paper as a guide. Then I removed the paper and appliqued the wheel to the ground. I stitched a line of split stitch using Flower Thread around the wheel/gear.
 The next layer is a box shape. I prepared the fabric the same way as layer 2, removed the paper, but I added a piece of medium-weigh pellon to the lower section of the box to add a bit of dimension. To define the box shape, I stitched a row of split stitch in red and an area of black stitches, outlined in split stitch and then filled with open rows of Bukhara couching.
Layer 4. It's pinned on here and I've begun to applique it. I also pressed this layer over freezer paper but this time I'm leaving the paper in as I stitch. It adds a lot of body to this layer. I plan to outline stitch along the edges that overlap the box--perhaps in red. In the original image, the box was very red. Most of it will be covered by subsequent layers, but I don't want to lose that bit of red.

You can see my border stitches here--most of the red that shows now will be covered by the layers or the frame.

Monday, June 22, 2015

More Layers Challenge

As I was figuring out the pattern for each layer of the wheel photo, I decided to look for fabrics in my stash. And I was immediately stuck again--most of the fabrics I had in my stash were prints. There were a couple of solid grays, but not many. And these prints sent off flashes of excitement, especially some steam punk style prints with lots of gray.

But then I realized my final photo had a lot of blue and turquoise in it, so I added a few (and found that cool gray lace to the right below, over the red).
 This was my final selection of fabrics to work with, shaded light to dark on top of the red background.
And here are the same fabrics with my working photo on top for comparison.

Next was the weeding.  Below are my final fabric choices. I put the gray lace over a deep turquoise fabric. Most of the steam punk fabrics that inspired me didn't make the cut.  (I added one back in, you can see a bit of it in the top photo--it's grey type with bands of rust, so it looks rust colored.)
And here are the choices with the photo.
And here's my start. The bottom layer. All I can see of it in the photo is a kind of lopsided circle.  This one I just fused on.
I think it looks pretty awful, but know it will be covered by the other shapes. (I'm not sure if this is right-side up--before I added layer two, I stopped and stitched an outer border basting line and marked the top of the design.)

I also traced each pattern for each layer (I am making 8 layers) onto freezer paper twice and cut them all out (great do do while watching TV).  The next layer will be needle turn applique--I'll press the fabric over the freezer paper to get the shape and make the applique easier to do.  The layer after that is the red boxed shape toward the bottom right--I'll cut that from the rust fabric. I'll use the second freezer paper pattern to cut a layer of thin batting to go under it. 
Now that I've finally gotten started, each layer is giving me ideas for how to do the next.  More progress reports to come.