Wednesday, December 19, 2012

seminole quilt

Seminole quilt began as strips of red and yellow fabrics 

the sandwiched Seminole while I was quilting it at DC Modern Quilt Guild [photo by Jessie Aller]

Keith caught me sewing on the yellow calico binding

the back is tiny white pinpoint dots 

back machine quilted lines match the top side stripe pattern 

I like the stripes all bunched up to make a jumble of patterns
final the Semiole quilt completed

It is all done. The red and yellow Seminole single quilt. It's 76 x 52 inches and all machine pieced and quilted.  Piecing this project was a lot of fun working to create the various stripe patterns. Using a rotary cutter, straight edge ruler and cutting mat helped make this easier than it would have been with scissors. All that I have left to do is make a label and attach it to the back. I made it this year 2012 from start to finish. It has rows of straight line quilting to match the stripes on the top. Very simply done made it go fast and reduced the stress and anxiety of making mistakes. I laundered it yesterday and it came out just about like it went in, I can't see any difference but it's softer. I got a few good pictures before it goes in the wash just in case something goes wrong. This is a traditional Native American design I know I will be using again.
Now back to the Rose-Star project, quilting by hand, a much slower but still a very satisfying experience.
Today I discovered another man who quilts while looking at Pinterest quilt boards. Joe Cunningham has been quilting since 1979. He works abstractly and makes some very beautiful modern quilts. He has a blog here as Joe the quilter. He has written several books and does shows and lectures classes etc. in addition to quilting. His latest book is "Man Made Quilts: Civil War to the Present" a catalogue for the show of the same name at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. It is interesting to think about quilts made by other men because in America it seems so unusual. It wasn't always this way and Joe wrote a book on 30 men who quilt which is going on my wish list today...

Happy Holidays everybody!

Monday, December 17, 2012

flowers at home

winter's early morning sunlight rakes across the flowers 

 This past week or two there have been some flowers in the house, just left overs and a few tulips that I picked up at Whole Foods last week for Keith to use to make an arrangement. Wednesday evening I went to dinner with my pal Dan Murray to a lovely restaurant and talking with him about his winter break time and his plans for drawing and painting projects got me thinking. Maybe it was time to end my break and sketch some of the flowers by my desk. I have to say it felt good to have something to share and a memory on paper. Maybe I don't have to draw them everyday.
first day's sketch was freely laid down using just fountain pen and color very loose

second day with pencil before pen/ink plus color tends to be more accurate or tight

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

show & tell quilters

I have to confess that show and tell is about my favorite thing to do. That is one reason I enjoy going to the DC Modern Quilters Guild meeting the other is to see what other artists are doing with their quilting and to learn from them anything I can about how to make my own work better and sometimes easier. This month we had another sewing day at Westover Library out in Arlington, VA it was a lovely day to spend with my new friends. I took my quilting projects and planned to work on the Seminole Quilting with my little feather weight Singer using the new walking foot attachment. It was really the only project I had that was ready to work on for the 4 hour meeting. I have made some headway but I think machine quilting is much more challenging than the fun quilt top piecing projects I have been enjoying this year. I got a few photos of me presenting my projects to the group of ready and curious quilters from one of the other members I admire. Jessie Aller is designer and quilter and she has a great blog here:

 Elle (left), our new DCMQG president, holding up Jessie's (right) Modern Dresden Plate quilt during show and tell. 

Jessie showing her new fabrics for another Dresden plate quilt which includes her own fabrics soon to be available in fine quilting shops.  
There are a few charity projects that are going on at the group level for volunteers. One of these is hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild Conference, It is a quilt done in the conference colors, the challenge is described in detail here QuiltConBlocks
Several quilt blocks were sent to our group and they are being Incorporated into a DCMQG quilt to be donated to a new children's homeless shelter near the conference in Austin, Texas. They asked us all to add a block or two and make a finished twin quilt. I jumped in at the last minute and made one block for the project with fabrics other members shared from their collections. Someone laid out our blocks, on the ugly carpeting, to try and find a nice design for our twin quilt. These blocks will be surrounded with a sort of rainbow of the colors and white. Jessie did a few sketches of various layouts we could try.
Left in turquoise skirt, Deanne owner of the Quilt Haus and creative Sewlutions near Austin TX. who visited and gave out some free samples of fabrics. She also helped us get the donation blocks ready to sew together and began the "rainbow blocks seen here hanging on the wall beginning with Orange at the top ending with turquoise at the bottom.  

possible quilt layout sketches 

The blocks as they looked at the end of the day. 
I was so inspired by looking at these blocks across the table from my spot I couldn't resist adding one of my own but I only had 15 minutes to do it before we had to leave the library. I think the greens in this photo get lost a bit but there will be a photo of the finished quilt once it is completed on our DCMQG blog
SwimBikeQuilt Katie, retiring president, looks a bit perplexed on the left in magenta as she is setting us up.
A different Katie's stained glass quilt ready for it's portrait to be entered in a quilt show!
Elle shows one of 3 baby quilts she is practicing new machine quilting stitches on before she donates them to 100 quilts for kids. See Elle's blog for more detail shots and the stories that go with them! ElleMental blog

Aubrie and Katie looking closer for details of Elle's machine quilting

Linda (blogs here: I Finally Have Time )shows a banner of 4 Christmas trees she is making for a daughter.  

Linda's visiting friend Anne shows one of the three blue baby boy quilts she is starting from her leftovers. 

Aubrie's squares with circle appliques 
Finally my show and tell as photographed by Jessie Aller in which you can see the quilts and the other quilters listening to my stories and admiring my work. It sure is nice to have somewhere to be with others who know what it's all about. I am still learning names so some of the quilters don't appear in this post. They were all very interesting and very talented and there seem to be a lot of them because new faces turn up each time I go. Still I am the only guy quilter which makes it easier for them to remember me than the other way around but I dig the support they all offer and I hope to learn all their names eventually.
Diamond Dresden plate 

Red and yellow Seminole

Hand pieced & quilted Rose-Star is getting red and white edges, I tell the viewers on my left. 

Rose-Star spread out for the viewers on the right.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Building for sale

Liquid amber or sweet gum tree's colorful leaves today. Dec. 6th, 2012

 The past month has been a bit stressful due to the sign that we found in our front yard when we returned home from Williamsburg last month. For Sale, the whole apartment building we have lived in for the last ten years was on the market "as is" meaning the current owners were anxious to get some money. We have had a great relationship with our owners. They cut the grass and we keep the garden full of flowers and our rent hasn't been raised since we arrived. So we were very upset when we drove up and the sign post was there welcoming us home. We panicked for a day or two but after looking at a couple of similar apartments that cost more and were not as nice in the neighborhood realized maybe we were not going to be out so fast. Common sense says it's good to have long term tenants and ones who do the garden and help rent empty apartments to copacetic new tenants has to be worth something. After the first open house we had some possibilities of new landlords that would value us and what we bring to the building. It is a great investment for who ever owns it because of our location in DC and near metro and a huge University which is developing more housing and shopping right now all around us. We live across the street from Turkey Thicket a city recreation center with a heated indoor pool and huge playing fields and tennis courts. So when we saw the development begin near the University and metro station we got a little nervous that our building might go on the market to a developer who would run us all out. Now that the SOLD sign is up and we have met our neighbors who are buying the building we have high hopes that are rent increase won't blow away our budget and that we can stay and see things improve along with other long time residents of the area.
besides the sold sign, another surprise was a new redbud tree planted by the city last week you can see it there in the shadow of the telephone pole in the foreground. Also notice our huge rosemary bush at the side of the stair railing. 

 4 unit garden apartments built in 1930's needs some work 
It was a different story the last time we had to move. Initially we were told by the buyer  9th St. NW to stay put that she was not going to change anything except paint the front facade. On 9th St. NW across from the vintage O St. Market and Giant food grocery store it had a mixed use commercial/residential zoning so the cards were stacked against us. We were asked after a couple of months to move out in 2 weeks. The rent was legally doubled to help us hurry up and get out. This turn of events was done so the new owner could gut the entire building and remodel and upgrade the space into a restaurant which took over a year to complete. It took Keith and I three months from the day we got that notice to vacate the 9th St. apartment and garden. We were lucky to find this garden apartment that is even better than the one on 9th St. Living near Logan Circle and the Convention Center our 9th St. neighborhood was hip, cool and fun but Brookland is more like a home and as we get older it fits better than hip, cool and fun.  We have been very happy here and endeavoured in many ways to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood. Gardening and doing neighborhood watch has added to the safety around here where drug dealers used to sit on our stoop and meet clients. We also have some great neighbors in particular a lot of poets which is a really new experience for me as a visual artist. So we are going to do our best to stick it out. We won't know if we get to stay until the sales negotiations are complete and we get to plead our case with the new owners but we are very hopeful that we can continue to call 10th St. and Brookland our home.
In other news: Some flowers started showing up in our house recently and I thought it was time to share some images with my readers. Not so much quilting this month worth showing at this point. The actual work of making all those stitches to bind the backing, batting and quilt top together isn't quite as exciting as making the colorful top pieces. I am trying to get back in the swing of piecing and getting ready to go to a group meeting of the DC Modern Quilting Guild Saturday for some inspiration. I did find a neat trick for basting using a product that is like water soluble spray glue. I am going to try it on my Seminole quilt so stay tuned for reports of my success or disaster in the coming weeks.

We also had a bird of prey catch one of our many sparrows for a luncheon and pause to eat in our white cedar tree by the bedroom window! Not sure what it was but some sort of hawk we think. It did have long legs and seemed kind of small for a hawk but had the right colors of ruddy red and white breast feathers. Sorry the bright sun against white across the street turned these into shadow representations. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving at home

Keith and Mom at the holiday table
Mom checking out the lights sparkle in the crystals above

Keith's arrangement of leaves and end of season flowers and herbs 
My quick sketch of Keith's arrangement 

 Keith and I went home for two nights to Manassas to have our Thanksgiving day celebration with my mother and brother. We took a pumpkin pie and 20 pound roasted turkey he made and Mom made all the other side dishes and dressings for our biggest meal. The extra large turkey was to ensure plenty of left overs for meals to last the next few days. Brother David seemed to think we short changed him in past years on left over turkey... so we bumped it up a few pounds this time. We arrived and threw the turkey giblets in a pot and mom got to work making her gravy and sauce to moisten the bread dressing. I sliced the turkey for dinner and picked the bones clean to set aside the meat for chilling. We were all feeling good and hungry by 2 PM when we sat down and enjoyed the bounty. It was all delicious and no one seemed to have pushed beyond their comfort limits to achieve a well made meal. With dinner cleared away and all the left overs put up and the china and silver clean and dried Keith and I set out to the National Battlefield for a walk before the sun set and while the weather was still a mild 60ºF.
Ball family graves 

field and wall of the Ball cemetery

tombstone with weeping willow and monuments relief 1832
We took cameras along and I enjoyed taking some snap shots of the walk that lasted about an hour. It felt good to be outside in the fields and woods moving and watching birds as the sun slowly sank into the horizon. The sky was crystal clear and on the trail we saw an amazing assortment of birds. Blue bird was the first, then tufted titmouse were were with the black capped chickadees. Further in the woods we saw two different kinds of woodpeckers and heard but didn't see crows. There were others we could hear but never got a good enough look at to tell who they were. So that was entertaining to enjoy as we walked to a new section of the battlefield we hadn't explored. We discovered a Ball family cemetery enclosed in a walled area of a field. This must be the Ball family who give the name to Balls Ford a place where one could cross the Bull Run creek with horse drawn wagons of the years gone by. There is also a Ballsford road near by. I have never seen this part of the battlefield that I recall and it was fun to see there is still more park to explore and discover for future visits. As it was we had to turn around at the cemetery to get back to the car before dark.

Keith looking at hollow red cedar tree on the trail

Henry house 

Stonewall Jackson sculpture

sun sinks into the trees

blue ridges in the distance

 The next day was about taking it easy and figuring if we wanted to do any "black Friday" shopping. We started at Good Will. Keith dropped off some of his old clothes and mom went to the book shelves and selected a few books to read while I looked for quilting fabric to fit my current projects. No luck for me there but we went by Joann's Fabric store later and I got a nice deal on white pin point dots on a red cloth for the back side of my Seminole quilt. I may have enough use as red binding edges on the Rose-star quilt but first the Seminole has to be put together. Once we had a nice lunch at Pannera of Big Kid's creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich with bacon we hit Target and found a few things then it was time to do our next big plan. We headed over to the movie theaters and got in line to buy a ticket to see Lincoln the new Spielberg movie with Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field and a huge cast of famous actors. We found the show we wanted to see was long sold out and the next one sold out while we were in line. So we chose a later showing and got tickets and went home to rest and come back. It went just perfectly we got a break and then went early and got the best seats for the 7:10 show.
The film was great entertainment in so many ways. We all wished there were more like it in theaters all year round. Lincoln is a moving story about something that is very hard to make a good entertainment about: government. It was based on a history book that won the Pulitzer Prize about Lincoln's cabinet. I would recommend the Lincoln movie to you all if you care about history, even a little, you will certainly learn something more about how US government in Washington DC works or does not as seems to be the case in recent years.