Tuesday, October 28, 2008

International Quilt Festival

I voted early today to avoid the potential lines on November 4th and my daughter got to vote for the first time today too. What an exciting time to vote. Lets hope we see none of the antics of the last election.

I am leaving for Houston in the morning and will be back on the blog Monday, so I will leave you with this chameleon painted with Tsukineko inks, it is a detail from a group quilt called Fauna.
I will have lots of photos to share on my return. If you happen to go to Festival and see me please stop and say hi.

I will be working in Open Studios: Friday 12:30-2:30 and Saturday 4:30-6:30.

Come take one of my workshops making felted wool ornaments in Make it U Friday 3:00 or Saturday 10:15, right when festival opens.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The New Quilting Arts book

I just got a copy of The Quilting Arts book. Wow, it covers all you need to know about making art quilts written by Pokey Bolten and an amazing line up of contributing artists. You can see all the chapters and contributors on the table of contents and a sneak peak of several pages by the Kemshells, Laura Wasilowski and Robbi Eklow.

This book is supposed to be a beginner 101 of art quilting but it would be welcome addition to the bookshelf for advanced art quilters too. There are so many different techniques and ideas covered there is plenty to get those creative juices flowing with lots of new things to try. Put this one on your Christmas list!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sewing Metal

I know some people might be afraid to sew metal on their sewing machine, so to dispel any fears I thought I would make a short video demonstrating how I sew metal on my Fiesta Ornaments.

If you double click on the vidcast, it will bring you to the youtube site where you can click on "Watch in high quality" to get a much sharper image. You will have to close the previous window though, otherwise both vidcasts will play at once.

I want the thread to show up well against the metal so I use a bright colored heavy weight cotton thread in the top and a matching color thread in the bobbin. Generally I use a top stitch needle, but often I just sew it with whatever needle I have in the machine with no problem.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MIU Prep

In preparation for my MIU workshop making felted wool ornaments I have been winding embroidery floss onto little cards made from manila folders. Craft Chi came up with the great idea of making decorative floss with these great ornamental designs. I did not take the time to cut them out really nicely since I have wrapped at least 500 of these for the workshops. They are so much cuter than plain cardboard.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Whahoo PIQF!

Arbol de Vida won 3rd place Innovative,
and Moon Garden won an Honorable Mention
at Pacific International Quilt Festival, happening this weekend in California.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Walking home from the "bean"

I love scenes like this, classic Chicago. This is the view looking west from Millennium Park, when we leave the park we walk directly west on this street to get to our place.

I think it is so interesting when you see these Gothic style church spires poking up in the middle of all the skyscrapers. Glimpses of the past amongst modern architecture.

As we walked along we came across this other very old Gothic style building under going reconstruction. It is split vertically in half with the external structure removed exposing the internal skeleton of the building.

Walking past the Thompson Center we see one of many modern sculptures that grace the streets of downtown Chicago.

As we leave the downtown loop area and cross the Chicago river we get a great view of the massive Merchandise Mart, this is where the design trade has wholesale and retail spaces. When this building opened in 1930, it was the largest building in the world with 4,000,000 square feet of floor space. It is truly massive!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Every year Wired magazine sponsors a show of future technology called Nextfest. This year it is in Chicago at Millennium Park, what an awesome show! I would love to see so much this technology used now. This is the description from the website: WIRED NextFest is the premier showcase of the global innovations transforming our world. Now in its fifth year, WIRED's gallery of the future includes unique and bold exhibits of sustainable design, next generation healthcare, interactive art and games, humanoid robotics and more.
Toyota was well represented here with quite a few really interesting vehicle designs. This chair type vehicle was really interesting, the maneuvering controls were hand held.

Brainball was really cool, people strap on headbands that read brainwaves.
The ball starts in the middle of the table and is drawn to the person with the higher stress level.
The screen above them showed each persons brain waves. There were two people who closed their eyes and the ball rolled back and forth between them in a battle of relaxation, then one guy opened his eyes to peak, he must of gotten excited that he was winning, because the ball was immediately drawn to him and he lost the battle.

I love these mower sheep. Can you imagine a flock of these mowing a grassy field?
It was such a beautiful warm day, look at that cloudless blue sky reflected in the bean. You don't see that too often in Chicago. The state of the economy was quite apparent here. For a friday afternoon on a holiday weekend there were surprisingly few tourists.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Interesting Paint

These paints are called Polished Pigments, I bought them on the Quilting Arts shop website. I first saw these being used by mixed media artist Bernie Berlin at IQF Chicago in Open Studios. This is an interesting product, you buy small containers of metallic powder and a clear paint medium to mix it with. You can buy the Simple Solutions liquid that you mix with the powders for paper or fabric. These make a paint that is so bright and saturated it almost resembles car paint. This is what the website says about them:

Polished Pigments™ are brilliant ground pigments mixed with shimmering micas. Mix with one part Polished Pigments™ to 2 parts Simple Solutions™ to make your own shimmering acrylic paints. Create a soft sheer look by adding more Simple Solution™.

The colors are gorgeous, they have a very different consistency than other textile paints though. I don't think they would be good for painting illustrated type work, but they are great for creating luminous surface techniques and mixed media.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Art Walk in the Westloop

This weekend was the Fulton Art Walk in our neighborhood. We are so lucky to live in a neighborhood with some great art galleries. When we finished visiting our favorite galleries on Saturday it was late afternoon and getting chilly so we stopped at a coffee shop to get some tea and listened to a great performance art marching band called Environmental Encroachment. Their music is wonderful, it is obvious they have a lot of fun playing music and performing. My son Ty took some video with my camera. This is my first time uploading video to YouTube and posting it on the blog. You have to see the funny shot of our dog Abby who was trying to stay warm in Ty's sweatshirt while we sat outside the coffee shop.

Environmental Encroachment
is heading to the east coast this month for performances in Boston, New York and Providence.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Making Felted Balls

To make the ornaments shown in Quilting Arts Gifts, you need to make felted wool balls or you can buy pre-felted balls from the Artgirlz or Quilting Arts. I like to make felted balls myself because I can have fun playing with colors and shapes. How to make the felted balls is explained in the article, but it does not have photos with all the steps. So, for all you visual learners here's how I do it.

Warning: once you start making these it will be really hard to stop.

This is a great way to use up leftover yarn, by rolling golf ball size yarn balls as a base for the ball. Wind yarn into oblong shapes to get a berry shaped ball. I usually use wool yarn because I know it will felt better, but in a pinch I have used other yarns too. My favorite place to order roving is from Outback Fibers, the colors are gorgeous and the prices are very reasonable. Unwind a length of roving, while holding it in one hand, grasp the end portion with the other hand and gently pull off "tufts" roughly 5-6 inches in length. Spread the fibers into a thin flat layer with all the strands going in one direction. Pull off another tuft of roving and layer it on top of the first at a 90 degree angle. Repeat this process several more times, criss-crossing 4-6 thin layers.
When lifting the blanket of roving there should not be thin spots or holes. Changing the colors of yarn in the layers will create a heathered multicolored wool ball.

Wrap the roving blanket you have created around a yarn ball, making sure there is full coverage of fluffy roving with no bare or thin spots.

Close the roving covered yarn ball in your hand and bring it to the foot of a knee hi panty hose. (buy cheap ones at the dollar store, or use those ancient ones in the back of your hosiery drawer that you never wear anymore) Gently remove your hand from around the ball and tie and knot a small piece of yarn around the hose to secure the ball in place.

When all the balls have been wrapped in the hose, place them in the washing machine, set the water to lowest level and hottest setting. Add a small amount of detergent, about a tablespoon, the exact measurement is not crucial but soap is important in the felting process. I usually run it on a long cycle, the more agitation the better the felting. Good old fashion top loading washers have the most success with felting.

When you take the chain of balls out of the machine, you will see little fibers have come though the mesh of the hose. Snip the tied yarn between the balls, gently peel away the hose removing the ball and roll the ball in your hands to smooth the fibers.

These would make great cat toys but dogs will want to shred these to smithereens. My chihuahua thinks there is nothing more fun than stealing felted balls when I am not looking and peel all the fuzz off.

This is my latest batch in preparation for my Make it U workshops in Houston.
50 felted balls ready to go. Come to one of my MIU workshops at International Quilt Festival Houston and stitch one of these babies into a lovely ornament.


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