Thursday, May 29, 2008

"A Peaceful Refuge" Wall Quilt






Along with reporting "life in this Nest" to you, I have also pledged to show you some of the work of my hands. This work includes my quiltmaking. I consider myself a quiltmaker/embroiderer, so my passion is divided among the two, although I can do many other types of needlework.

So, here's a small wall quilt that I have named "A Peaceful Refuge." It is 17 1/2 inches by 23 1/2 inches. An original design, along with several other landscape quilts I have made over the years. It's not the biggest landscape quilt of mine, which would be approximately 74" x 76," nor the smallest, which would be 2 1/2" X 3 1/2". (I actually like the tiniest ones the best.) I began this little quilt with the sky fabric. It was hand-dyed by my good friend, Mary. I also made another quilt from this sky fabric called "Peace in the Valley" which you can see on my flickr photos. Maybe I'll write about it one day also.

I loved designing the little appliqued church. I actually designed the church for an article in our guild newsletter some years back. I really liked it, so have used it in varying sizes on several pieces. Another aspect of this little quilt, that I have repeated on other pieces, is the tree. Trees are among my very favorite things on the planet. If the trees and branches are large enough, I applique them. If they are small, I usually embroider them. If they are just really tiny, I use permanent ink to draw them in. The leaves are embroidered with three diferent colors of floss in a lazy daisy stitch on this piece, but sometimes, I just use two strands of the same color floss. On a really large tree, I would applique the leaves. And, you never, know, I could use all the methods on one tree if I wanted!

Applique and embroidery are my "specialties" and consequently, appear on most of my work. The pieced border is made from leftovers from another quilt. That quilt is called "Ups and Downs" and is currently one of the items in my etsy shop. This small quilt was just listed there today also. Oh, I must tell you, I LOVE the fabric on the back!

All my work is hand-quilted. Well, in my life, I have made two small quilts that were done completely on the machine, but, that was only because my friend, Jim, challenged me to make something totally on the machine. So, I did! Really, I don't have an aptitude for that kind of work, so I didn't enjoy making them. I love to do handwork! (As a side note, Jim now owns one of those two machine made quilts and could possibly end up with the other one too.....or, I may list it...we'll see.)

I have never wanted to sell my work until recently, when I came to the conclusion that I can't save everything, so some of it has to go...putting this quilt on the list. Hopefully, they go off to a nice home, but, if not, well then, one day my daughter is going to have to deal with all my work, and it's really not her cup of tea, being a minimalist, an abstract painter, and a no "frills girl." We do not share the same taste at all. As a matter of fact the three traits we share most is that we are both obsessive/compulsive, we like things to be neat and we are creative. Her looks, her outgoing personality, her brains...oh, gosh...they came from Dad!!!

So, here you are...a small wall quilt from my collection. You'll be seeing more as time goes by. I hope you enjoyed the visit. Pat

Monday, May 26, 2008

Remembering on this Memorial Day


"Monuments"

Like picket fences standing there stretched out in many rows,
So many thoughts pass through my mind - does anybody know?

These people sacrificed their lives, does anybody care?
To defend the freedoms that we have in battles "over there."

It matters not your goal in life or what it is you do,
Just put that life on a little hold, cause Uncle Sam wants you.

We've built so many monuments and dedicate this day to thank
the veterans living still and those who've passed away.

I know we have our problems, but we need to understand
Our freedoms and our sacrifice make this a better land.

So pause for just a little while and, maybe even pray
for the veterans gone and living still, GOD BLESS THE USA!

Written by Richard Eaton, US Navy veteran, in 2007
Searcy, Arkansas

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Good Friend, Jim








I have a very good friend named Jim. I first met him in 1994 or 1995. Time has dimmed my memory of the exact date, but I could never forget our first meeting. He came to a meeting of our quilt guild...I saw him and thought he was a professor. If you knew the both of us, you would know how ridiculous that thought was. The very instant we talked to each other, we became fast friends. And through thick and thin, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, work and play, trials and tribulation (you know - LIFE!), we have remained the very best of friends.

We are much alike and nothing alike. Sometimes we get really fed up with each other. However, calmer heads tend to prevail as some say, so as luck would have it...we continue to stick together! I like to think of us as the dynamic duo......both working toward the same goal....creating our art, sharing it with others, and making the best of each day. Hopefully laughing while we do so. You can bet that if he's in the room, there will be laughter. However, my husband, who has witnessed lots of our shenanigans, says we are more like Laurel & Hardy or Abbott & Costello.

While Jim does love to clown around...he has his serious side..not always evident. In this post, I wanted to show you his great face - can you tell from his impish look that he's fun? In one photo he has Melanie in stitches...we see this a lot when he's around. In another photo he is clowning around with a painting he did, which by the way, he brought to our last Knot meeting and forgot to show for Show and Tell. It's a "first" that he forgot, as he loves to show and show and show! That week had been tough for him as one of his very best friends had passed away the Sunday before. I can guarantee that he will have twice as much to show next month, as he is the "over-achiever" of the group. He's very inspiring, so we let him get away with hamming it up when showing his work. (Incidentally, our June Knot meeting is at his place...I will be posting photos of his studio, etc., in June!)

I have also included a photo of another painting he brought to show....by the way, I discovered he had forgotten to show these things when he was packing up to go home and I found these on top of the tv in the Nest. I just loved this painting, so Jim being Jim....he left it here for me. There are some buttons that Jim drew on fabric for me several years ago. I beaded the edges. We had a long conversation about these at the last meeting and he doesn't know it yet (but will after reading this) that I am bringing these to him in June for his wonderful, (and trust me...very extensive), button collection.

Lastly, you will see a small quilt Jim made for me on my 55th birthday. (He calls me the "Queen of Everything!" unless I make him angry, then I'm sure it's something else. Once when we were both teaching quilt classes in another town...he brought me a tiara!! How funny is that!) What gave him this particular quilt idea, I do not know, but it gives everyone, including me, a good laugh. Many don't realize it's us until they look very closely. Like I said, he's my good friend, in sunshine and in shadow. Thanks, Jim, for being YOU! Pat

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My daughter's Art in the Park






Last Saturday, the Dr. Robert E. Elliott Foundation held a community event in the park. The foundation provides service, education and support to people with depression. You can read about it at www.robertelliottfdn.com.

My daughter, Kelly and I, are firm believers that our art is our own form of therapy and when asked to have a table at this event, she, of course, said yes. Not only would the money she donated for the table go to a good cause, but others could talk with her about her art, which she thoroughly enjoys, along with encouraging them to find something creative to do in their own lives.

That being said, she was somewhat nervous about it as not many people knew she painted. She had not shown her art in a venue like this. Showing your work for the first time can be somewhat traumatic. We decided that if she sold one painting....it was a good start and if she sold nothing...it was good experience. She was down there bright and early with me following later to be her "helper."

It was a glorious morning and the pavillion at Spring Park was nice and cool....buzzing with kids, lots of parents, the radio station, the fire department...ponies, the petting zoo, flowers, strawberries for sale and, oh yeah...Yarnell's ice cream..YUM! Kelly's Dad also came down to help out as he didn't want to miss the fun. He's in one of the photos. We saw lots of friends and some relatives too.

Would you believe that girl sold FIVE paintings! She was tickled to death and so were we. And, so you see her, event over, packed up and ready to go. Being a realtor.....her cell phone started ringing. This is how we see her most of the time.

I told her I would post a blog about her.....of course, she pooh-poohed the idea. Hey, what's a mother for? If you'd like to see more of her work....go to http://kellyvanhook.etsy.com and if you'd like to read her blog (which I find very amusing!) go to http://kellyvanhook.blogspot.com.

To wrap it up - the foundation was brought to the attention of more people, Kelly and I had a great art therapy session, and a good time was had by all. What a nice Saturday morning!

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to Make Newspaper Seedling Pots








One of the photos on my last post showed me making a seedling pot from newspaper. Such a thing is a far cry from sewing...but evidently I am not the only one interested in such things. My new friend, Gayle (http://sparklejars.blogspot.com),of Nevada, made the comment that she was "intrigued" by them. Well, that's all I need to hear in order to get out the camera and try to explain how one makes these cute things.

It doesn't take much to get me excited and I love making something cute and useful out of pretty much nothing...so here goes: (I now know the photos are not in the correct order....but I know you are smarter than I and can figure it out!)

You start by taking one sheet of newspaper and folding it in half on the widest side. You will have two edges facing you and the fold away from you.

Take the two edges you have facing you up towards the fold, leaving about a three inch space between those edges and the top fold.

Using a glass (a straight sided one if possible, as it makes this step just a little easier, but you don't have to have it, I didn't). Place the lip of the glass on the "raw" edges which should make the glass stick out from the bottom fold just enough for you to grasp the glass. Starting at the end, roll the glass the entire length of the paper.

Tuck the folded edge at the top of the glass to the inside of the glass. You don't have to be too neat, but it turns out a tad better if you make a little effort. I give it an extra little press with my fingers. Holding the paper at the top of the glass, pull the glass out of the newspaper.

Starting at the loose "seam" (at the bottom of the glass, which is really the top of the pot) turn under about a half inch to the inside of the pot...a bit at a time...go completely around the glass. Repeat. Pinch the fold well. You should have a pretty neat edge. This will be the top of the pot.

Set the pot on the table and with your fingers, reach in and press the paper sticking up down in an overlapping fan shape. This flattens out the bottom of the pot. Give it an extra press, so it stays together. It should stand up by itself.

I actually made some smaller ones by using half of the sheet used to make this one, although they are harder to turn. These little pots are just terrific and you can plant pot and all when your seedlings are ready to go into the ground.

Now, realize that you can go out into cyberspace and find much better instructions than these...but for now..I'm what you've got! Give it a try - it's fun and sort of like eating potato chips...I had to make a bunch just for the heck of it. (Have you guessed I'm obsessive/compulsive?) Right now, I'm thinking they would be pretty cute used (decoratively) for other things...let's see, wrapped hard candy, buttons, paper clips, stones, birdseed, marbles, etc. (Oh, gosh, I just filled one with buttons...just too cute!!) Let me know if you make some! Take care. Pat

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Knot Group Came to My House
















This past Thursday, the Knot Group met at my house. I always look forward to them coming as they are a great group of people. We all live in different towns in Arkansas, so this is the one time a month we see each other.

This month, it was my turn...and you know how it is...you feel you must have things in order. So, before hand, I try to do just that. I don't know why, as we wreck the place during the course of the day. There are lunches, drinks, projects, photos, gifts, books, and stuff all over the place. It's great fun and I wouldn't have it any other way.

This month we had a guest, Keri's daughter, Melanie. She was so cute and laughed a lot too. She's young, so she probably thought we were nuts (which would be accurate), but she hid it well, as she seemed to be interested in what all we were doing. Also, she sat next to Jim, which guarantees a person will laugh an awful lot.

We always seem to teach each other during these meetings, although we aren't always working on a project. For instance, someone noticed some little newspaper pots I had on the porch with seedlings in them...next thing you know, we were outside and I showed them how to make them.

Jean and her daughter, Susan, were both knitting.....we always learn something from them. Jim was working on some needlepoint and showed some small pieces he would work on next. He had an idea for a challenge regarding some silver, copper and other metal necklace chains, which he provided for us...so that is now on our agenda. The results will be shown at our Christmas meeting. Mary Lou was doing applique...something she used to say she couldn't do. Isn't it great how that always happens? Sherry was making beaded buttons...she loves embellishments and crazy quilts...quite good at them too! Kelley was quiet that day and wanted to look at books at my desk. Whatever she wants to do is fine with me as she is just the sweetest thing. Keri was in her observant mode, so watched everyone work, picking up tips. Bibi, also, was in a watchful mood.

Susan had just returned from a trip to Chicago and brought beautiful little boxes of candy for us. And, it wasn't chocolate! That was so nice and really appreciated by me since I am allergic to chocolate. We have to have a certain number of calories at these meetings, after all, it takes lots of energy to work so hard!

I look forward to these meetings each month, not only to see what everyone is doing and to learn, but to visit with these great people. I always say it's my therapy and I'm lucky to know these folks! Pat

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baskets: The Imagined and The Real





This evening I have been out in the Nest......doing a little house cleaning before my Knot group arrives for an all day visit on Thursday. Sometimes when I work out here I can really make a mess and let's face it - my friends have to have a place to sit!
So, I've been sorting things out, putting "ingredients" as I call them, back where they belong, rearranging the tables and chairs to suit the number of friends I will have here that day, sweeping the floor, and all the things you do to prepare for such an event. I always look forward to having them here.

While putting things away, I noticed how many different things were "out" pertaining to baskets, so I decided I'd show you some baskets I have stitched.....and one real one, just because I think it's pretty. Imagination is a great and wonderful thing! You can conjure up all kinds of things if you give yourself permission to play. I always say an eraser is my best friend, as when I'm trying to dream up something new.....I sketch and erase, sketch and erase until I am satisfied. You can do all that on a computer these days, but I'm pretty old-fashioned and I still love paper and pencil! I'm always amazed when I come up with such designs and if I amaze myself...then that's all that matters. It's supposed to be FUN. So, these aren't the most wonderful baskets you will ever see, but I enjoyed making them.

There is an appliqued basket that is the center of a wall quilt I made a couple of years ago. I just love the quilt and this basket is one of my favorite applique/embroidery designs, ever. You can see the entire quilt on my Flickr photos. There is a button I made that has a tiny basket embroidered on it...I thought I would bead the edge, but haven't yet. There is another embroidered basket from the quilt I made for my book, "The Big Book of Crazy Quilt Stitches," Leisure Arts, Inc., which I will probably blog about sometime in the future. It's stitched in silk ribbon. (Actually, I have a copy of the book for sale in my etsy shop.) Then, there is the "real" basket which I have placed on the table on my deck. I found this basket at Hobby Lobby in Little Rock. I was not there to shop for a basket, but you know how that goes...once I saw it...I was a goner and had to buy it. And, half price too!

These are just some of the baskets I noticed this evening. They always make me feel good. It worked for me - did it work for you? Take care. Pat

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Heart






We're almost to the end of this Mother's Day....it's been a nice day. Early this a.m. I finished sewing a little present for my mother-in-law. She is 90 and in the hospital. Several months ago, I made a pin cushion specifically for a magazine contest and took it to show her. She thought it was for her. Under the circumstances, I couldn't just leave it with her, so vowed to make her something for Mother's Day. She has always liked whatever I do, well, nearly always, so I hoped she would like whatever I showed up with.

So, this week I have been working on a heart for her. I finished it very early this a.m. It's an embellished heart. There are embroidered leaves (I could make these forever!!), satin stitched hearts (one on front and back), and beaded flowers. I actually used silk flowers from Hobby Lobby removed from the stems. (I also used silk flowers on the quilt in a previous post "A Free Vacation to Italy." If you intend to wash the item you are embellishing, you really need to prewash the silk flowers as the dye in them will bleed like you wouldn't believe. This heart will never be washed, so I didn't prewash these. I beaded the centers of the flowers and used outline stitch for the wording. Well, as I thought...she just loved it. I guess we both enjoyed it. You know that old saying about cutting your own wood....it warms you twice..once when you cut it and again when you burn it. So, making this heart warmed me twice too. Once while making it and again when giving it away.

Last night I talked to my son via ichat....nothing like that camera showing me his great smiling face!! We talked again today on the phone. A chat with him always makes my day! Another thing that made my day was this evening, my daughter and her husband grilled hamburgers for the whole family. The icing on the cake! These are truly the best kids and made my Mother's Day perfect. Scott doesn't have a blog (yet), but you can go to Kelly's blog - http://kellyvanhook.blogspot.com - and read what she wrote today......all these things made my Mother's Day the best ever, full of hearts of all kinds! Pat

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Evening in a Meat Locker


I just talked to my son in San Francisco and he said I HAD to post my evening's experience. You go along having a regular kind of day...then in an instant things get kind of strange.

First, let me tell you that today was graduation for both Searcy High and Harding University. This is a small town. It's full of visitors. There was an unplanned for five at my house. I wasn't really expecting to cook, so had not prepared anything and they didn't want me to cook anyway. That tells you something about my cooking ability! So I got on the phone calling all the local feeding establishments and found they were either totally full of people or out of food.

My sister-in-law, Sandy, and I, decided to go prowl the grocery store on my end of town and just "find something." There had been stormy weather around the state all day....in fact, we've had storms on a regular basis for months it seems, some of which have been deadly. It's been pretty sad. But, here in Searcy, we have been particularly lucky. (The photo shown here was not taken today, as I did not have my camera. It was taken at the beginning of one of our many previous storms! This is just a small example of what it tends to look like here these days.) It took us a while to find something appropriate for supper (after all, the fried chicken and fish supply had been depleted by the crowds) and as we approached the check-out, we were suddenly pushed out of the check-out area and told to go to the meat locker. There's a tornado coming, they said (as the warning sirens started blasting away). You have to go to the meat locker! Lots of drama in their voices as they pushed us along.

I've never been in the meat locker of any grocery store...but I suddenly found myself in one with about twenty-five people. Twenty-five, or so, people of all ages, mostly young, but a couple of the older set, such as myself. It's a really cold place. The employees brought in some of those white coats that the butchers wear.....most people were really cold. I, being the age I am....did not really need the coat..yet. There was a lot of nervous laughter. I mentioned that if we were THAT cold, we should huddle together, but no one seemed to notice the words. Someone wondered why the meat locker? I thought it might be that if the store fell in...they'd know in advance we were all in the same area together. One of the employees, a teenager, came in waving a bottle half-full of Dr. Pepper, asking if we needed anything warm to drink. "Not that," I said. We all laughed again.

Looking at the people, I wondered how many stories they could tell and what story we would tell at the end of the night. Some took photos of the group with their cell phones...that was funny. My sister-in-law sent a text message home that said "HELP, we are locked in the meat locker!" Later we found out "home" wasn't checking the messages! After a while, the sirens died down and we were led from the locker. A sense of relief was evident. Actually, the store employees were VERY nice, so thank you HARPS employees! And, you know, being cooped up with twenty-five people you don't know and weren't sure you would ever want to be cooped up with (and vice-versa) wasn't so bad. And, once again, Searcy was lucky!

We are thankful. Sandy and I got back home in one piece, the guys were all ok, my NEST was fine and to top it off.....a delightful slice of Harp's Coconut Cream Pie. Just another Saturday night at Bird Nest on the Ground! Pat

(UPDATE: I am editing this post on Sunday....last night there were tornados all over the area, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma etc. Many people died...I think I heard nineteen on the early morning news. Just an awful night. Searcy really has been very lucky and we have those less fortunate on our minds this Mother's Day.)

The Bird Nest on the Ground Studio

The Bird Nest on the Ground Studio
Right in My Backyard

A Bit of Heaven

A Bit of Heaven
An original designed wall quilt with my vision of heaven on earth.