Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Preparations

We finally got a tree put up last weekend. I kept the branches trimmed from the bottom of the tree, and tied them into a wreath. My daughter decorated it with a beaded garland and added a bow.

I’ve been on a tote bag sewing marathon. Mostly for gifts for the small nieces and nephews. I picked out a different upholstery fabric for each one, so each would be unique. I have a couple more to get done.

Have a great Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Topping

I had to make chocolate ganache after thinking about it for several weeks for my Photoshop project. A birthday cake for my husband last weekend was the perfect excuse. The sides are frosted with whipped cream.

Ganache is wonderfully rich, and super simple to make. Equal parts Chocolate and cream (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips). Bring the cream to a boil, pour over the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is blended in.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A few more Photoshop projects

A tinted black and white photo, and the same photo colored with Pantone color spots.
The product and brand on this Photoshop label are completely made up:

The raspberry photo I used on the label is by Stuart Whitmore. It is a free photo downloaded from

The label I created was turned into a 3d object for use in this advertisement for my final project:

The chocolate cake photo is by: Clara Natoli. It was also a free photo from

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Highlight Gallery in Mendocino

This weekend, we took a weekend trip to Mendocino. It's a great small town for a weekend getaway. I wish we had more time to explore the town, hike the bluffs, and do some beach combing.

I took several of my quilted pieces to a gallery owner who is interested in them. My work can now be seen at The Highlight Gallery. The gallery has a wonderful collection of art pieces including woodwork, pottery, mosaics, jewelry, paintings, and textiles. I am honored to be included among them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Composite Photo of Alviso

My current Photoshop project was inspired by two photos from a photo excursion in the Alviso neighborhood of San Jose. Two buildings on neighboring plots caught my attention: a well kept Victorian house, and an old run-down business of some sort with the name “Skin Deep.” I decided to move the two buildings closer together.

A bit of web surfing revealed that this is the Tilden-Laine house and the remains of Laine’sGrocery. I used a photo of the nearby Alviso marsh area as the background for the two buildings.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Midnight Garden

Deadlines are great for getting projects done. I wasn’t very inspired by my latest project, so I procrastinated on quilting it. I like it now that it’s finished. Some white paint was added after the quilting was completed. And it was completed just in time to enter into a juried show.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Frames for my Latest Succulents

I've gotten Succulents VII & VIII in their new 8 x 10 frames. I think they look great. I will plan on doing some more smaller framed pieces.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Working with Scraps

Our Fast Friday Challenge theme this month is outer space. We are supposed to use unusual materials or embellishments. My plan is to follow the requirements for this challenge while making a piece to submit to a show asking for art made from scrap, recycled, or repurposed items. I got started a week late for the challenge, and haven’t been working all that fast, but deadline for entering the show is still a couple weeks away. I think I have a good start with repurposed old jeans, garment sewing scraps, and pattern cloth scraps.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Innsbruck, Austria

I'm still in California, but I enjoyed working with this photo from Innsbruck, Austria this last week.

We were given a choice of a few photos to work from for our latest Photoshop assignment. The original I chose is shown here: I didn't alter this photo much at all. Mostly, I only enhanced what was already there. I selected the foreground, midground, and background separately so I could adjust the levels of each separately. And I changed the bright green shirt in the bottom corner to a dull yellow to better fit the color scheme in the rest of the scene.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old Things are New Again & Dorothy’s New Dress

Our last Photoshop project required less imagination, but taught us just how powerful adjusting the tonal range and color balance can be. We needed to start with an old photo scanned into digital format. I picked one from 1967 of my husband and his family picnicking at the Hood Canal in Washington State.

The original had a lot of scratches and spots which I was able to remove digitally. For our final project we needed to remove an object, and change the color of an object. The two boats on the left are now gone, and my mother-in-law now has a new digital dress and sweater combo. I will keep a version without the boat removal and dress change for the family album.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Loose Plans for a Bed Quilt

At the CQFA meeting last weekend, we had a time scheduled to work on individual projects. A few years ago, I started a bed quilt with a very loose plan sketched out on the computer, and had made about 60 blocks. I grabbed it to work on at the meeting, since I didn’t have any newer projects in progress. I made a handful of blocks on Saturday, and made another few today. It’s a great project to play with color and value, and doesn’t require any planning. I plan to get out my bag of green and orange strips and small scraps occasionally and make a few more squares. After I have made about a hundred more, I will see how I can fit them together. I figure in about 20 years, maybe I will have a quilt to show.

I also got the sleeve put on my “Whisper Challenge” quilt today, and now I have a bright new quilt hanging above my sewing machine. Still can’t show the full quilt yet for a few months. Maybe if I get ambitious, I will make a hanging slat which is the right size.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tea with a Chipmunk

Would you believe that my daughter is only about six inches tall? Or that a buffalo and a chipmunk followed us home from Yellowstone this summer to have tea with her in the Hayward hills? No, I suppose you wouldn’t. I did however have fun playing with scale in my latest Photoshop assignment. And Camilla had fun helping me act out the scene which I had imagined.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Photoshop Portrait

I have survived the first two weeks of school, and have completed my first Photoshop assignment. Interestingly, this Photoshop project required no photos. Our task was to create a self portrait using the editing tools in Photoshop (selection, fill, paintbrush, …), without importing any photos. It is supposed to be recognizable (but not necessarily realistic), and say something about our self.

I used the profile photo on my blog as a reference photo, changing my hair and glasses to what they look like now. I’m not all that happy with the face, but the due date was fast approaching, and I decided it would have to do. Maybe I made the eyes too big, and maybe they could be quite a bit improved with the addition of some eyelids. And I was at a loss of how to deal with teeth.

I do like how the background turned out. I used the paintbrush tool to add “stitching”, and then placed a drop shadow behind it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to School Sewing

Camilla goes back to school in two weeks. We’ve done some back to school shopping, and I’ve been making a dent in my fabric stash while creating some back to school skirts.

I was thinking I would make a tiered skirt out of this stripe fabric, but Camilla wanted something different, since I had made a lot of those for her in the past. I sketched out some options, and she picked out which one she liked. She says the skirt is “super cool.” I wonder if I will still hear this about home sewn clothes in a few years when I have a teenager.

There wasn’t quite enough of this green plaid to make a skirt the length she wanted, so I did a little more digging in the stash. I’m glad I didn’t have a larger piece of the main fabric, or I probably wouldn’t have added the contrasting trim at the hem. I like it better this way.

I have a half-made skirt for myself out of blue chambray. It has been tucked away for a year, because I got bored with it being so plain. Maybe I will give it a contrasting hem like this one.

I’m going back to school next week also. I will be teaching again part time in the Office Skills Computer Lab at the junior college. I’ve also decided to take a couple of classes. I will be taking C++ computer programming and Photoshop. It probably won’t leave me a lot of time for sewing or artwork, but I will probably manage to make a little time for some creativity too.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Camilla’s “Flower Garden” Quilt

Camilla finished quilting on her “Flower Garden” quilt.
The picture is her own original design, painted with fabric paints. She has finished quilting with embroidery floss, made a label, and picked out some fabric for the backing and binding. I helped her fuse the back onto her quilt, and sewed the binding for her on the sewing machine.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Succulent VII & VIII

I got two 5 x 7 pieces out of the current project instead of the one I was planning. I am looking for a good source for pre-cut double mats for framing.

And I had some scraps leftover to make ATC's. Two of the ATC's have some stitching to join some of the smaller scraps together.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Looking More Like Succulent Plants

Nearly done with this one.

I'm thinking about adding a pale wash over parts of the flowers to define better where there is a bit of overlap. Then I need to decide the best way to crop it for a finished piece.

Monday, July 27, 2009

These are Not Flowers

My current work in progress looks a bit like chrysanthemums or Dahlias to me. The plan is to add green. Maybe it will begin looking more like succulent plants then.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Radial Symmetry

This month’s Fast Friday Challenge is to be based on radial symmetry and colors from nature. I didn’t have to stretch my mind at all to fit succulents into the radial theme, and colors from nature could mean anything.

Imperfect symmetry is more interesting to me than perfect kaleidoscope type symmetry. Nature is full of not quite perfect symmetry, and rather lacking in much that is perfect.

Radial symmetry makes me think of circles, so I began by painting some white fabric with circles. This will be an under-painting when the quilt is complete. Many of my green succulents have a bit of red or yellow in them.

I have traced some succulent shapes onto interfacing. I will place it behind the batting, and quilt the shapes from the back, and then add more paint.

When I am done, I plan to select a section which can be matted and framed, and turn the remainder into ATC’s.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tinta & Chiqui

We've made more sock creatures.

Camilla made Chiqui. She is made from chihuahua socks turned inside out.

Tinta is made from an experiment gone weird involving Sharpies, rubbing alcohol, and instructions for tie-dying socks. I didn't wear the resulting socks much, but they were perfect for a creature.

Camilla put a heart in with Chiqui's stuffing, and cut out a heart for my creature also. But I forgot to add the heart in before I sewed her up. Tinta now wears her heart proudly on her outside.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dinah & Dino

Hi! My name is Dino. I’m the blue one on the right. Camilla made me, because Mom brought home a book called “Stupid Sock Creatures” by John Murphy from a garage sale this weekend. The green one is Dinah. She’s my best friend. Mom made her. I have a tail, but Dinah doesn’t. We’re modeled after Wronky, but look nothing like him. There are no patterns in the book, just instructions to eyeball everything. That makes each of us a little different, just like God made creatures.

Camilla did most of the sewing on me herself with just a little help. Mom sewed our arms on the sewing machine, because there were a lot of layers to sew through, and she wanted to make sure they stayed on well. Then Camilla and Mom got a little tired of all the hand sewing, and Mom used the sewing machine a bit more on both of us.

Camilla says she had lots of fun making me, and might make a pet for us.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summertime Excursions & Projects

Yesterday we visited relatives & friends an hour away in Tiburon. We went for a couple mile walk down the bike path for lunch. That’s the Golden Gate Bridge poking up out of the fog. On the way back, I picked up some succulent branches that were broken off of the landscaping along the path. I am going to see if I can get them to root.

Ten year olds get restless after school has been out for a month. I let Camilla use my fabric paints. We have added batting, and I showed her how to add quilting with embroidery floss. No backing yet, because this way it is easier to sew through, and we can hide all the knots at the end. We will add a back when she is done.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Artist Trading Card Swap

I have traded my trading cards at my CQFA meeting yesterday, and now I have several from the group I belong to which I can admire.

Top row by:
Bronwen McInerney and Virginia Schnalle

Middle row: Nancy Riffle, Bronwen McInerney, and Terri Thayer

Bottom row: Diane Carver and Jaye Lapachet

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, & Whisper Quilts

I am in a Whisper Quilt challenge with SAQA. We are divided into groups of ten. The first person received a photograph, and was required to create a quilt inspired by the photo. The second person gets to see the first quilt (but not the photo) and makes a quilt inspired by it. The third person gets to see the second quilt… and so on. It’s a bit like playing “telephone” where something is whispered from person to person, and by the time it gets to the last person, the message is completely changed. I got to see the results from the last Whisper Challenge (this link loads slow, but it’s worth the wait). Three groups went in completely different directions, and all of the quilts were really wonderful.

I am creating a quilt based on what Liz Berg has done. I had an immediate first impression of her quilt, and my family had similar thoughts. But, I put that idea away to see if it might lead me in other directions. Then I remembered a piece of fabric which seemed to relate to Liz’s quilt, and the fabric lead me in a new direction, and everything seemed to fall into place…until I got it all pinned together and it just didn’t seem right. The separate pieces weren’t relating to each other. Time to put it away for a day and come back to it later.

I went to San Francisco the next day to the SFMOMA to see the “Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams” exhibit. The exhibit showed works by both artists and compared their art. I hadn’t known that they were friends, or imagined that their work could have any similarities. Actually, I knew little about the work of Ansel Adams beyond a dozen or so of his most well known photos. I now have a better appreciation of his work after seeing the exhibit. I enjoyed seeing O’Keeffe’s paintings up close. I began noticing areas in her paintings how a shape or a line might be clearly defined in one area, and then fade into obscurity. I wondered if adding some obscurity might make my quilt better.

The following day, I got out my fabric paints. I darkened the background in part of the quilt to lower the contrast between it and the foreground. I added some visual texture to the same area which seemed to relate to the rest of the quilt. It’s been rescued from the “what was I thinking stack,” and now it’s one of my favorite quilts.

Sorry, I can’t show pictures. It must remain Top Secret until the last people have finished their quilts, and we are allowed to reveal them to the world. I will be taking it to my small CQFA group this weekend to share. There are two other Whisper Challenge participants in that group, but one has finished hers, and one said she won’t be there this weekend, so I think it will be safe to whisper a few secrets in the small group. The last person is scheduled to finish in December, so look for pictures in 2010.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Succulent Plants

There is a garden in the neighborhood with the most amazingly beautiful succulent garden. I stopped there today, because there was a plant sale in progress. I bought five dollars worth of succulent plants which would rival any nursery succulents I've seen. They will be a welcome addition to my garden, and should add nice variety to my succulent series.

ATC's are finished

I've finished my Artist Trading Cards for next weekend. I like these work better as smaller pieces than I did as the one large piece it was a couple of days ago.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Transforming a Rejected Succulent

Quite a while ago, I began a succulent for the SAQA Auction, and then set it aside as a reject.

I cut it into rough squares a couple months ago, with the intention of completing the Fast Friday Challenge which was supposed to be based on grids with an accent color. I picked out the fabric for the accent color, but then couldn't satisfy myself with the final arrangement, and it got set aside again.

This months Fast Friday challenge is to work with pattern or texture and triad color scheme. My rejected project was already the right colors.

I sewed the squares together at random, quilted, and then used orange and white paints to bring out the texture and add some dimension. Then I cut it apart again, and inserted orange veins.

This was a fun experiment. The current plan is to cut this into trading card size pieces to swap at my next CQFA meeting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Succulent VI

12 x 12
This is my piece for the One Foot Square SAQA Benefit Auction. I started with a piece of hand dyed fabric with blended turquoise, green and yellow.

I really should get some more photos to base my succulents on. I keep reusing the same favorites and doing them in different colors. Then again, why not repeat a good thing until I tire of it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Neutral Challenge

"Succulent V"
11 x 9

My fabric has been luring me to get back to some creative quilting. This month’s Fast Friday challenge was to work with neutral colors. I wondered if I could do succulents in neutral colors without them looking dead. Cynthia did a wonderful landscape in blue tinted grays which made it look like it was drenched in moonlight, so I thought maybe a blue tinted gray would work for me as well.

This piece started with a bluish gray which now seems nearly achromatic. I added a bit of yellow to the final painted highlights to add a bit of warmth to it. I prefer the brightly colored succulents.

I will post the piece I am making for the SAQA auction tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Color Matters

I am making progress on building the Piecmakers website. I wasn't confident with the colors I had chosen to work with. So I decided to create several mockups with differing color schemes. I will then poll the Piecemaker members, and let them choose our website colors.

In my search for palette inspiration, I came across COLOURlovers which is a great website for anyone who loves working with color.

I really like their COPASO tool, which allows me to upload a photo, and then pull colors from it to create a new palette.

I have several palettes on COLORlovers now. Next week I will pick a few of the palettes and begin working on the website mockups. Which are your favorites which you think would be good colors for the website?

This week I need to finish getting my work ready for the show at San Leandro History Museum & Art Gallery. And I need to sew a pioneer dress & bonnet for my daughter to wear in the Rowell Ranch Rodeo parade this weekend on the school float.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April Happenings

I've been taking a bit of a break from creating new textile pieces.

My current focus has been on updating my programming and web design skills to make myself more marketable in the job market.

I have been learning Java programming, and have been updating my HTML and CSS skills. My current project is redesigning and building from scratch the website for the Piecemakers Quilt Guild. This work in progress can be viewed here: I still have a lot to do loading content, and fine tuning the layout.

To make my post quilting related, I have two pieces juried into the "Images of California" art show at the San Leandro History Museum and Art Gallery:

320 W. Estudillo Avenue, San Leandro, California
May 14 to Saturday, June 27
Artist Reception: Saturday, May 16 from 1:00 am - 3:00 pm
Thursday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March Happenings

Last Friday I went to the opening reception of the “41st Annual Textile Exhibition” at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont. I have my three painted succulent pieces in the show. Several other artists working in quilts were represented along with artists working in other fiber mediums. The show will continue through April 18. Details are on the Olive Hyde website:

On Saturday, I went to the CQFA meeting in Santa Clara. One of our members invited Margaret Nivin, a painting instructor, to come talk with us about critiquing. We had our normal show and tell in a variety of techniques and styles, and Margaret guided us in critiquing the pieces. It was good to talk about each piece beyond the customary “oohs & ahhs” and the “how did you do that?” types of questions.

I’ve been trying to put together an interview outfit, and finding that the suit I have from 15 years ago (and the other one from 20 years ago) no longer fit. I found a jacket I liked, and made a plaid skirt to coordinate with it. Then Saturday night, I went to a clothing exchange at a Zocalo’s coffeehouse to find a good home for the old suits. I think there were no takers for my suits, so they will go to a local community service organization. I found a nice pair of slacks, a jacket, and a nice blouse for eveningwear.

I’ve started a twelve inch block for the SAQA auction, but I let my colors run together and become muddy. Now it reminds me more of an artichoke than a succulent plant, so I plan to start over.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Echeveria Forest

I have finally finished this small succulent quilt that I have been working on. It is about 8" x 10". I don’t want to name it Succulent V, because it doesn’t seem to be part of the same series as the other succulents. I have given it a working title of “Echeveria Forest”, but don’t know if the name fits. Any better suggestions for names? I have satin finished the edges instead of using a facing or a binding. If I hang it, I think I will mount it behind a mat.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

This Month’s Fast Friday Getting Slowly Done

I’m getting a late start on this month’s Fast Friday quilt. I almost decided I would skip the challenge for a month. But then decided to spend just a couple of hours and make a quick fabric sketch with freehand cut fabrics, which led to hand stitching with embroidery floss. Half way through the stitching, I decided to make some changes in my fabric choices. So now, several hours into the project, I’m not halfway done. It will be getting done, but not on the schedule I had originally planned.

For this month’s challenge, we are to put some Rhythm/Movement or Tension/Energy into our piece and use an analogous color scheme. The plan is to finish hand stitching around each fabric piece, and then do free-motion machine quilting in the background. The piece is loosely based on a succulent photo I took in my garden last month. I believe these are echeveria.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Meet SAQA’s Artists: SAQA’s 20th Anniversary Trunk Show

“Succulent IV” is a cropped version of the first succulent in my series. It will travel for a year as part of SAQA’s 20th Anniversary Trunk Show.

After the end of the show, selected quilts will be donated to the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln