Thursday, February 15, 2018

I like #55

Welcome to another week of I likes!

1.  First up this week, I like having a fixed shelf on top of my cabinet.  I don't know why builders insist on leaving 12 or so inches of open, dust-collecting space on top of upper kitchen cabinets.  I feel like having the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling would at least give more enclosed storage.  Anyway, a bunch of my pottery serving pieces have always lived on top of my cabinets, but the stupid recessed space meant I couldn't always see them very well and they often tipped off crooked when I tried to set them back up because of the strange framing.  So this weekend I pulled everything down, ran it through the dishwasher to remove the gunk (some things twice!!), and then installed boards all the way across the top.  I didn't have matching stain, but the darker stain I had was better than plain white.  It makes me so happy to see my nice clean pottery up there, not half buried or falling over!!

2. I like this new book.  Marsha McDowell from Michigan State University has written this cool book called Quilts and Health.  The university bought one of my quilts a couple years back and I'm super excited they published it in the book.  It's a lovely hardback coffee table style book and filled with lots of writing and essays on the topic in addition to quilts.  I'm looking forward to reading it!

3.  I like hanging out with my friends, even virtual ones!  This week was a wealth of friendly support, complete with dinners out, an Arabian nights themed valentines day party (more on the costume for that in Tuesday's post), and a really wonderful, laughter-filled breakfast with my friend Linda yesterday morning.  

4.  I like doing small projects as a break from the big ones.  In the midst of more long-term things it's nice to make something you can finish in an afternoon!  Last weekend I made a new gumdrop footstool, and this weekend I stitched up a quick bag to hold my crochet on the go.  I wrote more about them on Tuesday if you want the details!

5.  I love my mom!  She makes my sister and I a valentine's themed quilt block every year, usually in some style she's been recently doing.  This year is a fun pieced New York Beauty block, in honor of her recently completed giant and beautiful New York Beauty quilt.  So fun!  Someday I'm going to start sewing the valentine's blocks together.  I love the variety in them, last year I did a retrospective, so you can see some of the others if you want.

6. I like being outside!  It's still very cold and dead here, but the birds don't mind, I have whole flocks of them that come to the feeder every day.  Unfortunately, the slightest movement on my part, for example to get the good camera, sends them scattering.  And the second picture was the sunrise on my morning walk this week!  The dogs drag me along, but when Bentley stops to poop I can take a quick picture!

I hope you are all having a great week!  Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us positive!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Small Projects

I've finished a few small projects lately so thought it was time for a quick update on some of those!

Two weekends ago I made a new pouf, or gumdrop pillow as I think the official name goes.  This is the third or fourth one of these I've made, and they're all from an Amy Butler pattern.  Here are some of the old ones:

It's a nice easy pattern to make either 18 or 24" footstools, but I think it might be out of print. Anyway, I decided to make a  new one for the living room.  I currently have one in my studio, and the dogs love to sit on it.  I thought it would be nice to have in the house as a footstool (which I didn't have), for the dogs to sit on, and to help Bullett jump up on the sofa (his little back legs are getting a bit gimpy).  I picked out some fabric from my stash (Thanks Georgia!) and stitched it up.  I made the 24" size, but realized later, that it's about the same height as my living room furniture, so it wasn't much help for Bullett! I think the old one has just gotten compressed, and eventually I'm sure the new one will too.  It's stuffed with eleven walmart sacks of old scraps (cut off batting edges, selvedges, scraps that are too small to sew with, old clothes too holey to take to goodwill) and two old cut up king sized mattress pads.  It's always surprising to me how much material you need to really fill one up. The fabric filling makes it quite heavy, but also less compressible and sturdier feeling than if I'd used fiber fill.  I've already been enjoying having it to put my feet up while watching the Olympics!

The next small project is this bag I made up this past weekend to hold my on-the-go crochet project.  I have plenty of medium and large tote bags, and plenty of small pouches, but I needed something medium size (~13" square) that would close up but not with a zipper (which sometimes catches yarn) and was very lightweight.  It's for my current carrying around crochet project which is just shoved inside my purse so I didn't want anything too big or with too much structure.  It was really fun to pull out a bunch of fun bright scraps and piece them into a cute drawstring bag.  Now my yarn won't get caught in my keys and all the other purse junk!

And finally this last weekend my friend Liz hosted an Arabian Nights themed Valentine's day party.  I didn't have time to do anything too elaborate, but I grabbed some fabric from my stash (thanks Georgia!) and whipped up these harem pants and a headscarf veil thing.  They matched a shirt I already had and voila! quick costume.  The harem pants were super quick, I followed this great tutorial on youtube, check it out if you need a quick costume.  The veil is just a rectangular piece of fabric with some gold trim stitched down, but it did give me a chance to use the rolled hem foot for the first time ever.  Wow have I ever been missing out.  It worked great!  so much easier than trying to press a tiny hem, especially in ravelly synthetic fabric.  I only snapped one quick selfie before rushing off to the party, but you get the idea. 

One of the nicest things about all of these projects is that they were 100% from my stash.  I love using stuff I already have!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Triangles: Finished!

Earlier in the week I shared my design process for a new dimensional quilt made out of cut up quilted triangles, and today I'm sharing the finished piece.  I call it a quilt, but then I call all sorts of things quilts.

It's named Tesseract, in honor of one of my favorite books as a kid (and now a new movie) A Wrinkle in Time.  I was inspired by the idea that a tesseract brings two points in space closer than you'd normally think they could be.  Of course that was in the fifth dimension and I'm only in the third dimension, but that's ok!

Tesseract, c. Shannon Conley, 2018

Here it is from the side so you can see how it rests on the wall.

Here are some up close details.  When you get up close you can see the tulle a little more.  I love the way the paint didn't sink all the way in around the quilting stitches since the triangles were painted after the quilting was done, giving a textural look to the colors almost like a grave rubbing.  And I also love the quilting stitches themselves.  They're a bit random since they came from whatever piece I cut up, but I love the variety.

I really love the way this turned out.  It's one, unlike the quilt I cut up to make it, which came out like I envisioned in my head.  It feels like a metamorphosis, something flat and ugly turning into something with depth and vibrancy.  I'm actually thinking of doing another two-dimensional piece based on this one to see how much depth I can artificially create by using shadows and quilting rather than sculpting.  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Like #54

Welcome to another week of I likes!

It's been very very cold and very very dry here.  The cold doesn't bother me, and it actually makes me happy because I hope for fewer bugs in the summer, but we're quite desperate for moisture.  I've been trying to water my trees, but it has to get warm enough for my hoses to unthaw, and I have to remember to always unhook them afterwards!

1.  I like being able to catch up a bit!  I feel like I'm finally getting caught up with a bunch of stuff after the holidays and like the new year is really on its way.  I managed to get a couple blog posts written about a new project this week based on my triangles, check back tomorrow to see the final quilt.  Here's an in-progress snapshot.

2.  I like starting new things!  I actually have two new quilt projects ongoing right now, one started over the weekend.  This one will involve smocking, I have no idea how it will work, but of course I'm jumping in with both feet.  I started by painting this fabric (it was a pale pink).  It was some sort of polyester satin stuff, and after painting it almost looks like a fake leather when you touch it.  Kinda cool!

3.  I like baking!  I try not to do very much because it's always followed by lots of eating.  But this week I used my mom's beer-bread pot to make my first loaf of beer bread.  It was quite easy!  I used a bottle of sweet potato beer I'd had in the pantry for a while.  I bought a six pack of them thinking it would be a fun thing to try and it wound up being the most disgusting thing I'd ever tried to drink (apologies to sweet potato beer enthusiasts).  I thought I'd save them for cooking, and of course the flavor was much reduced in the beer bread, but it still came through.  I think I'll probably just empty out the remaining 4 and recycle the bottles.  Otherwise the beer bread worked great!

4. I like singing!  This past Thursday was our annual choral evensong service.  We join up with another choir from a nearby church and sing this service as a guest group at St. Thomas Moore church in Norman.  It's a bit of a different singing environment (with regards to the placement of the organ and the acoustics) than we're used to, but I think it went lovely all the same.  I really enjoy it every year, and it's a bunch of fun music.  This year we used a Vaughn Williams setting for most of the music.  Here's a recording of the Magnificat from the service, hopefully you can play it!

5. I like my pups!  Of course I always like them, but they've been especially snuggly lately in this cold weather!

I hope everyone has things to like this week!  Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us positive!

Monday, February 5, 2018

New Project: The triangles

I had been wanting to try some dimensional pieces that were more abstract than my flowers.  Anyone who follows me on pinterest knows I've been pinning lots of abstract sculpture and other three dimensional art.  And so late last year I decided to bite the bullet.  My idea was to take a bunch of quilted triangles, and stitch them down to something with some structure and then "magically" (in quotation marks because I always think these things are just going to work out) sculpt it.

I started with this quilt which I was never very fond of.  I made it for a show last year, and was glad it got into that exhibit, but figured it was ripe to be cut up and made into something new. 

Of course part of the reason I didn't like it was because the colors were so light and bland, so I painted over the whole thing with red and orange and then cut it up in to a bunch of small equilateral triangles.  I also cut up a bunch of quilted leftover bits from the iris, and painted/cut up some practice quilt sandwiches so that I had a giant pile of triangles.  

I decided that I might try stitching them to aluminum window screen as a sculptural base, and below you can see my small mockup.  It's aluminum window screen with chiffon on the front and back and the triangle sandwiched between.  I decided the chiffon was too matte looking, it really blocked the color intensity I was going for, but otherwise sewing over the window screen didn't cause any problems.

I next pinned a full size piece of window screen to my design wall and started pinning up my triangles.  I rearranged and rearranged until I liked them, and then started gluing them down (to the screen) with glue stick.  I needed something that would hold them in place enough for me to get it down on the floor to pin baste, but not so sticky that it would glue the whole thing to the design wall.  The glue stick worked well enough and only a few fell off.

Here you can see it on the floor- the blue tape is holding the background layer of tulle flat on the ground.  Then there's the layer of screen, then the quilted triangles, and then another layer of tulle.  The sides of the screen had selvedge-like things, but the top and bottom were quite pokey.  Fortunately, the weave of the screen helped me keep the triangles aligned.  

This is what the back looks like; basically the "grout" is empty, only screen and tulle.

Next I quilted between each triangle along the "grout" lines so that the triangles were secure and wouldn't shift all over the place.  This was tricky since the screen was a bit hard to maneuver under the sewing machine.  I used clear monofilament thread because I didn't want to see any of the jerkiness in the quilting stitches that I knew there would be due to the weird and hard to handle bulk.

After cutting and finishing the edges, the next step was to work on the sculpting. I played around with different approaches using some equilateral triangle graph paper.  I wasn't trying to get a final design so much as trying to determine what kind of shapes and ways of folding I could generate using these shapes.  It was really fun to play around with this, like a really cool spatial reasoning puzzle.  I love stuff like this.

Finally I started sculpting it myself.  Even though the screen is stiff, it doesn't fully hold it's shape, so everywhere two corners are folded to be touching, there are a few stitches holding it together.  This was a super fun project to work on, and I'll share final pictures on Friday!!

Have you ever done any dimensional work with quilting?  What approaches have you tried?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I Like #53

This week (or maybe last week, depends how you count I guess) marks a year of I Like posts for me!  Hooray!  It's been good for me to think of good things to share each week.

Things I liked this week:

1. More music!  Dr. Jonathan Nichol is a saxophone professor at the University of Oklahoma, and I got to go to his faculty recital this weekend.  It was great, he played a huge variety of different types of saxophone music, some by himself, some with piano accompaniment and some with another saxophonist (his father!).  It was a fabulous concert, really exemplifying the variety of musical styles the saxophone can play.  My favorite piece was the Denisov Saxophone Sonata, quite modern sounding and wonderful.

2. More flowering plants!  My bromeliad is blooming again.  It hasn't bloomed in a while, they only bloom once and then die, but usually bud off a pup before doing so, and this is about the fourth pup from my original planting.  So pleased it's blooming again.

3. I like the murals at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.  I've never gotten a chance to visit the museum proper, but this is the second time I've gotten to go to a gala dinner held there for work.  This year I remembered to take pictures of the gorgeous murals.  I call them murals, but I think they might be paintings, in any case they are HUGE and framed and gorgeous.  You might be able to get a feel for the size by looking at the people for comparison.  There are five sets each has three panels.  I recognize 3 of them, but am not sure about the 5th.

Yosemite Falls

Monument Valley

Not sure where this one is.

Not sure about this one either, the pacific coast somewhere, I'm guessing Monterey area

The Grand Canyon

My friend Liz went with me this year, and we had a good time.  I wore the same dress I made for this event last year.

4. Morning light through the stained glass!  Our church has a bunch of lovely stained glass windows, and this past Sunday the light was hitting them just right and causing rainbows of light to bounce all around the nave.

5.  The beautiful blue-blood-super moon.  I meant to schedule viewing of this cool event, then promptly forgot.  And then I got lucky to see just about the peak of the eclipse when I came out to walk my dogs early in the morning.  I quickly rushed back inside to get my camera and tripod.  So glad I did, in just a few minutes the sun had come up and viewing was done!

Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us linked up!  Happy Thursday to everyone!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

I Like #52

Another week of I Likes!

1.  My sister was up this weekend and she and I had a lovely time.  We went to a shooting competition (steel challenge), and played lots of board games.  She cam without the kids this time, and while I missed them, it was really great to spend time with her.  Her kids got nerf guns for Christmas but she doesn't want them shooting at each other, so on Saturday afternoon we made targets for them.  It was a super easy and fun project, and we got to indulge in a bit of "adult" coloring. Luckily I had all the paint out from my new quilt project so we didn't even make a bigger mess that what was already there.

I think her kids got a kick out of them!

2.  Of course there's always a plant or flower related I like from me.  You guys!!  I turned my cool weird plant around this week and discovered that it had sprouted a bunch of arms on the side that faced the window!  I didn't even know sprouting arms was something this plant would do!  It's so awesome!  I'm a bit worried because I'm not sure whether I should repot it.  It's in a smallish pot, but i'm afraid it's so top heavy that I'd break it trying to repot.  Anyone with insight on that please feel free to share.

3.  I like chamber music!  Our church co-sponsors a local concert series, and one of the concerts was this week.  They had the Serafin String Quartet a nationally known touring string quartet, joined by pianist Stephanie Shames and violinist Hal Grossman.  The concert was in our church and we got to sit in the very front pew which gave a great view (although made for crummy pictures).  It was fabulous from beginning to end.  The first half was just the string quartet playing Haydn String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 74, No. 3 “Horseman;” and Mendelssohn e minor Op. 44, No. 2, both of which were great (although I generally like chamber music).  The second half was even better, the string quartet was joined by guest musicians from the University of Oklahoma and played the Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet which I'd never heard before.  It was remarkable, and beautiful, and energetic, and wonderful.  The pianist in particular was a joy to watch.  I left the concert buzzing with good energy.

4.  I like finishing old projects!  This is really a cheater, since I like this all the time, and I didn't really finish anything old this week, but I did finally blog earlier this week about a recently finished quilt that my mom, sister, and I have been working on on and off for about a decade.  Check it out if you're interested!

Thanks as always to LeeAnna for linking us up, and I hope there's lots to like in your neck of the woods this week!