Sunday, March 28, 2010

Last Week: A Challenge, Some Gifts, a Find or Two"






I'm sorry it's been a week since I posted, but life has, once again, reared it's head over my plans, and we have spent the greater part of the week at the hospital. I think I've mentioned that the 'old navy man' has COPD and he had a particularly bad episode of pneumonia. An almost deadly one, but being the tough old coot he is....he's now home. It was very scary. Now, we are acquainting ourselves with oxygen, breathing treatments, multiple prescriptions and a change in life style. Also, so as to add to the tenseness of the week, I ended up having to have a stress test and an EKG, after a previously scheduled doctor's appointment. I'm fine. It will all be okay...just a little 'period of adjustment.'

While going back and forth to the hospital, I wondered when I would get a chance to visit with you all again. Isn't that just the weirdest thing? I don't really know you, but I miss 'talking' to you! So, today is the first chance I've had to visit. Hopefully, we will make the adjustments we must make (like the old guy can no longer smoke, and yes, he knows he should have quit long ago! I guess we both learn things the hard way). It won't be easy, but I am so glad I have you guys to talk to, as I know I will need a diversion. It does my mind (and heart) good to come up with something to talk about and show you!

So....what do you think about these things? I've gathered up some things I find interesting and hope you do too. Let's start with the beaded shoes. Are they precious? I think so. Given to me a while back by friend, Jim. He found them at a flea market just for me. I've been thinking ever since that I should reproduce that beaded design on something...and yes, as you and I often say....'someday.' Last month our little Knot group also had a challenge. We loaded a tiny paper bag full of 'ingredients'...in my case fabric and goodies to make a small crazy quilt. Then, we traded our bags, anonymously, with another group member, made something from the ingredients and gave them back to their owners at the last meeting. It was fun to see who had whose bag. Jim, as it turns out, got my bag and made this doll for me. In the challenge, you could also add some ingredients of your own. Isn't she just lovely? He says this is a hard color to work with...well, he loves bright colors, so there you are. I think he did a wonderful job and she is really pretty. So you see her here, both with and without her 'cape' made from a scrap of crochet I included in the bag...beaded no less. So cute?? Thanks again, Jim!!!

Then, there is the pink china rose shoe. Just so cute. I found it while I was 'out and about' last year and intend to make a pincushion from it. Hopefully, one day soon. After the last week, I find myself behind in work even more that I was....but I hope to 'get in the groove' again in the next few days.

I love that rose cup. It was given to me by my good friend, Sherry. It's too pretty to use, really, although I think I'll put some real roses in it this spring to add a cheery note to my bedroom!
Speaking of bedrooms, Sherry presented me with a great vintage white iron bed. I don't know when I'll get the proper linens for it...but may show it to you soon anyway. It's wonderful!

Do you notice the knitting all these goodies are sitting on? It's a sweater I bought at the flea market ($1.00). When I saw it, I thought what fun it would be to incorporate bits of it into some of my embroidery/mixed media....yes, I know....when will I do that? Well, right now...the thought of working with my beautiful 'stuff' is keeping me going and I'm so glad I have this 'habit.' Aren't you glad you have it too?

So, a very hard week just passed. I'm hoping for a better one coming up....not only for me and the old navy man (bless his heart!), but for you all too. Do take care, pat

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Birds and Baskets, Two of My Favorite Things"






Here are two of my favorite things...birds and baskets. As I mentioned the other day, my "year of the basket" has not turned out exactly as planned. Other things just keep creeping into life and pushing baskets out of the way. Unintentionally, of course. Life at the Nest has been kind of different here lately, so my intentions are good. Well, as you know....good intentions and lack of accomplishment sometimes lead places you don't want to go, so today I thought I'd better show some baskets...the birds are extra.

Last month at our retreat, one of my friends gave me the salt and pepper set you see here. Aren't they just too cute! I've been waiting for the right time to show them to you...so, here they are going quite well with the bird plate/tray I bought at Hobby Lobby last month. HL had these bird 'plates' in two or three sizes, along with matching tote bags, storage boxes, etc. I could have bought one of each item...but the budget wouldn't allow. If they'd had yardage...I would have HAD to buy it!! So, I'll just enjoy this one and the size smaller that I purchased. And, like I said, they go quite well with the salt and pepper shaker set...thanks ever so much to friend, Deb, for those. That girl seems to have her finger right on the pulse of things I am obsessed by. (She also sent me two dresser scarves with baskets, which I will share on another post.)

I purchased the cast iron basket door stop (at least, that's what I think it is...it's quite heavy) at a flea market several years ago and have used it for just that purpose. Sometimes I put things in it....flowers, hankies, whatever strikes my fancy. I love it.

The little basket with a bow on the handle is from Germany...another flea market find. I haven't the slightest idea what it is made of, but I just love it. So sweet looking! (You know I'm a pushover for that vintage stuff!)

Then, there is that rhinestone basket pin. I've had it quite a while and yes, it's another flea market find. It's such a pretty shaped pin....I keep thinking I'll add it to something, but just hate to 'use' it and prefer to just enjoy looking at it. Silly, isn't it?

I found the cross-stitch napkins yesterday at a flea market in Beebe. Three of them. Simply could not walk out of the store without them. Of course, I'll plan on reproducing them on something one day...sooner or later.

You know it will be impossible for me to 'keep up' with all these proposed projects...but it's such fun to dream of doing them. Eventually, some of my pretty things will be used in one way or other...but, meantime, I enjoy the hunt and the planning. Now, as for those things given me by friends....they are special, indeed, and warm my heart each time I look at them.

So, there we are...baskets and birds. Old and new. Loved and enjoyed. I am lucky indeed! take care out there.....pat

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"That Final Red Heart....for a While"






Sometime in the last couple of weeks, I promised I would show you the 'last' red crazy quilted heart I finished at our guild retreat. Getting "lost" in the busy-ness around here the last week, I have put off blogging...mainly because sometimes when I am stressed my brain doesn't wrap itself around writing. I'm truly sorry about that.

But, let me tell you about this heart! First of all, you know I love the color red....from deepest dark to pink! And, you know that I have been making these hearts a lot lately. I actually like making them and still have orders to complete....seven or eight to be exact. After making SEVERAL in red....I am ready for another color, so am glad to report that of those to complete, they aren't all due now and they won't all be RED. I like a little variety, don't you?

This one is also made in the crazy quilted style...my favorite...I never get bored with crazy quilting! And, since this was made with no one in particular in mind.....I just used scraps of the other red ones I've made and decided to do a little embroidery on them....just some of my favorite stitches and some 'freehand' embroidery....such as the flowers there on the left. I've appliqued a heart in the upper left...then embellished it with French Knots. And, of course.....I added a couple of my favorite TINY embroidered hearts in black, then beaded the edge. Very simple...much fun...and finished!

I plan on adding this to my art work for sale at Second Saturday Studio at it's next opening unless I hear one of you is interested in it. And, hopefully, by the weekend, I can get really involved in working on some of my other projects. I'm really needing to 'catch up' on things....but as you know...the people we live with sometimes need us to do other things. I'm working on being better at both....ya think there's a chance?

Sure hope you are all well out there and having some fun of your own.......hopefully next post, I'll be able to show you some baskets. Remember, I said this was to be my 'year of the basket.'
What happened to that plan, I wonder? I must do better....take care and I'll 'see' you this weekend. pat

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"A New Art Venture"






Well, it's getting late on a Saturday night and I am exhausted. Why, you say? Well, I've spent all day at a new art venture here in Searcy, talking to other artists and having the best time. Artists are such nice people! So, let me tell you the story.....

My daughter, Kelly and her sweet friend, Micah, have begun a cooperative for artists here in Searcy. Everything has happened so quickly...over the last four or five weeks, that we are just amazed at what happened today. Kelly has long wanted to open "a place for artists" here, but never could find the right place, time, etc. A few weeks ago, she got into a conversation with a person in town with an empty building and no tennant....the person made her an offer she couldn't refuse, she called Micah and after weeks of cleaning, painting, planning, facebooking, making more art, spreading the word, etc., 'we' had a unofficial opening today. Who knew what would happen?

Not expecting a lot of visitors (today was all 'by word of mouth' and facebook), but wanting to give a day of operation a try before the grand opening in April....the studio opened at 9:00 and we closed the doors after 5:00 p.m. Little did we know that we would be crowded with shoppers, artists, families, and friends the whole day long. We finally got a drink of water and lunch around 2:30! We actually sold more than we ever thought, met some lovely new people, and laughed and chatted all day. It was amazing!

The photos I am showing you here are #1 One of Kelly's paintings. #2 Some of my brother-in-law's paintings. #3 One of my niece's paintings. (One really nice thing is that my family has art from six members included in the coop. Kelly, her husband Rick, me, her Aunt Sandy, her cousin Gina, and her Uncle Don! What a family!) #4 Micah (on the left) and Kelly (on the right)....two wonderful, hardworking, talented, gorgeous girls!!! #5 My grandson, Tyler, and his girlfriend, Sarah, stopped by to take a look after he got off work. He was as excited as we were.

Since both Kelly and Micah have jobs, Kelly, a real estate broker and Micah, a hair dresser (plus she has young kids), time is precious, so for now the plan is to open the studio one Saturday a month...making it a special 'destination' for friends and shoppers. And, we definitely think that will work, but should that change, special events will still be held on the Second Saturday of each month. Everyone seemed to be very excited....you should know that there isn't much going on in the art world of Searcy...the most common comment we received today was..."oh, we need this so badly." One lady said she was practically giddy with excitement.

So.....after standing up all day and talking myself silly....I'm going to fall into bed with a book, hopefully to sleep. A task made difficult now because my mind is tumbling over itself with lots of ideas. What FUN!

Why don't you click here Second Saturday Studio and see lots of photos taken by my daughter of the artwork and artists.....you can read bios, etc., with more to come once she gets a good night's sleep! We are so excited! take care, pat

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"The Best Thing about AWOL"






The last few posts, I've mentioned the work going on at our AWOL retreat, promising to show you more. Tonight I wanted to show you some of what we do there. So much is done that it's difficult to choose just a few, however, I have chosen some photos that I think will allow you to see for yourself what kind of work goes on there...and this is just scratching the surface.

By no means should you think we are all sitting around quietly with sewing machines whirring away. We usually ARE sitting, the machines ARE whirring away, but at the same time we are all talking back and forth...sometimes clear across the room...telling stories, jokes, showing people how to do whatever we are there doing, and laughing ourselves silly. It's wonderful!!!

So, while I show you the work, really and truly....just being out there with friends is the most special part of the weekend. This is a wonderful bunch of people and boy, do we have fun. I mentioned earlier that entire quilt tops are made that weekend. UFO's that have been lanquishing away in a drawer are brought out and finished. Fat quarters are traded, embellishments are brought out and exclaimed over, how-tos are shared with anyone who wants to see. Snacks abound. No, I'm not showing the snack tables. Yes, plural, one needs sustanence working this hard.

No one will leave without making new friends and that is the very BEST part of the weekend. So, here's something I was working on.....and some work from my friends too. You can see it is a diverse selection of work.....not all of it is by machine (me, of course, the 'by hand' person).

First you will see a small quilt (about eighteen inches or so) that is in dire need of finishing as it is a UFO. I did manage to embroider a feather stitch on that white line you see in the border and that's about as far as I got on this piece that weekend. I did, however, finish one of my hearts and also did some reverse applique on nine quilt blocks. I'll show you those some other time.

Remember me showing you the beaded buttons, etc., made by Brenda H.? Well, she also had an assortment of lovely crazy quilted sewing kits made. You can see them here. I bought two.
I'm giving one of them away on this blog in a couple of months or so....maybe for Mother's Day.
These are really nice ones, with pockets and 'pages' for needles, pins, scissors, etc. You can email me if you'd like to have her email address.

My friend, Sherry, worked on a UFO also, and it's GORGEOUS....see this beautiful piece of crazy quilting. She will finish it soon and show it on her blog.....at least that's my hope. She does very beautiful work and I'm trying to encourage her to show it off by blogging about it.

I have another friend named Brenda W. She is always working for someone else....most especially her grandchildren, her church or at the flea market where she has a booth. You can check her blog out here. She wanted to bring a UFO to AWOL so she could get 'caught up' on something and while looking through her 'stuff' to find something to work on, she found enough piecing started to make a wonderful wallhanging. And, she got the top made at this weekend retreat. I think she is planning on adding borders, but in my book, if you can get a pieced wallhanging together like this over a weekend...you are doing a fine job. She, too, got additional work done, but I can't let the 'cat out of the bag' on that one. These people I know are amazing!

My friend, Mary Jane, is making something for a special person....and being a person who loves handwork, I was particularly impressed with this reverse applique "initial" block she was making for a wallhanging. It's to be a gift. Lucky recipient.

So, there you are.....more from AWOL. Wish you all could have been there!!! take care, pat

PS. There are some of you who send me an email and give me no means to reply to your questions or to give you additional information. When you send an email and it says "no reply" then I can't answer you. Just know I sometimes feel bad because I can't reach you. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Jim's Red Heart"






Once again, I am going to show you something from my AWOL weekend. There are at least a couple more posts to come about it also. If you've read this blog before, you know I have been making embellished crazy quilt hearts of late. I took special orders out to the retreat with me. Two I've shown you when I finished them and then, there's this red one. Actually, this heart is much more RED than it looks in these photos.

My friend, Jim, one of our two "guy" quilters, asked me to make him one of my crazy quilt hearts, and naturally, it would have to be red...Jim's favorite color. Well, I like it too~so this is it.

Jim also LOVES embellishments...a plus when you are doing crazy quilted items. Another thing Jim loves is vintage buttons. He probably has millions of them. No kidding. So in the upper left hand corner of this heart are three vintage glass buttons. I also used glass butterflies and a cute little glass flower bead....rather flat with a seed bead holding it in place. I forget how many of them are on the heart.

I love to do the embroidery on these hearts. And, although I'm making hearts...no two are alike...check them out in my archives. I like to use simple embroidery stitches like the French Knot, chain stitch, herringbone stitch, feather stitch and the leaf stitch. And, I rarely use all six strands of the embroidery floss. Usually I use two or three. I also prefer size 12 perle cotton. This makes my stitching, as Jim call's it - "tight." What he means is I tend to keep things very tidy and smooth....a look I prefer because, of course, I tend to be obsessive/compulsive.

I used short bugle beads on the edging.....like a jet bead...the light hits it 'just so.' And, Jim wanted 'something' hanging down from the point of the heart...so I used some large red beads for that with a jeweled 'drop' from a piece of junk jewelry at the very bottom. I don't think it shows up in the photo though.

As I often do...there is an appliqued heart on the right hand side....embellished with some of my favorite French Knots....just had to add that.

While at the retreat, I made another red heart. I'll show that one to you later in the week. It's the same...but it's different. Maybe you'll compare them and let me know what you think. Also, while at the retreat, I received orders for several more.....and in different colors. It will be fun to decide what to include on them...both in the stitching and the beading and the 'buttoning.'

Hope Jim is enjoying his heart as much as I enjoy looking back on the making of it. You know, I just love doing this kind of thing. Take care, til next time.....pat

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Beautiful Beaded Buttons and Pins"






As promised, here is more from my AWOL weekend! For those of you who haven't read my blog before...AWOL stands for Arkansas Women On the Loose. We came up with that name when we were planning the first of these events several years ago. And, although we haven't changed the name, we do have two guys who attend. They are brave souls, don't seem to mind the name, and we enjoy having the two of them spend the weekend quilting with us. It's a wonderful experience.....lots of work going on and huge amounts of laughing! In my last post, I showed you Carol Ann's fabric baskets. Did I tell you she also made an entire quilt top over the weekend?

So, this time, I want to show you something gorgeous from my beading friend, Brenda H. At AWOL, we have women from around the state and some from out of state. Brenda comes from Ft. Smith. I've always known her as a quiltmaker and for her first AWOL experience, she brought beading. Boy, did she bring beading! She has only been beading a few months and has become quite good at it, as you can see. I asked if I could photograph some of her work and she graciously said yes. I should have done more. Isn't it beautiful?

She made beaded buttons, beaded pins, which can also be used as pendants, with the proper hardware on the back for each. I thought she did a remarkable job and shows great talent. She had beaded in red, green, pastels, browns/golds, black/gold, etc. Just a gorgeous array of beautiful things. The pin, in orange, has a vintage 'floral' earring, or pin, in the center....what a wonderful way to give new life to old jewelry pieces. It's pretty fabulous! There were also bracelets....I've no idea why I came home with no photos of those....one very elaborate one she made right in front of our eyes - it was purchased on the spot!

Brenda's work IS for sale. She is working on an etsy shop, but isn't quite ready yet to announce it. If you are interested in anything you see here....email me and I'll send you her email address.
I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. She sold quite a few pieces, so some of these may have been sold, I don't remember which ones. Isn't it nice to see beautiful work?

Amongst all the beaded beauties Brenda made were some crazy quilted sewing kits. These weren't beaded, but they were very nice....I bought two of them! One day soon, I will show you those....as I want to do one of my beaded edges on them....who knows...one may be a 'giveaway' on this blog one of these days! Maybe at that time, I can announce her etsy address also!

I'll be showing some more from AWOL in the next couple of posts, so I hope you'll return to the Nest....meantime....have a wonderful weekend!! take care, pat

(For those of you in the area, we will be having another episode of AWOL this coming September...you might want to join us!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"My Friend's Fabric Baskets"






Hey There! I'm back from the retreat two days now and just unloaded my car a couple of hours ago. Things have been hopping here at the Nest and there just hasn't been the time or enough extra energy to unpack and get to work. I took several photos out at our AWOL retreat and am trying to sift through them to decide what I want to show you. So, there will be at least two more posts concerning "my weekend," maybe three.

Tonight, I'd like to show you some fabric baskets made by my friend, Carol Ann. Carol Ann likes to cut up hundreds of yards of fabric in narrow strips both to make her quilts and then, also, to make these absolutely gorgeous baskets. And, I do mean hundreds of yards of fabrics. Here I am showing you just SOME of the baskets she brought, one 'in process.' I placed some of them on an ironing board because the way we work at AWOL pretty much means there isn't a table with a square inch of clear space to photograph items on. We do love making our messes with fabrics, ribbons, trims, and in my case...embroidery floss and beads.

I've never made one of these baskets....as you know, I don't really enjoy sewing on a machine but prefer 'handwork.' Carol Ann, however, is a sewing machine queen and can do this for hours! So, to describe how she does it isn't simple for me. I do know that she cuts many, many yards of bias strips, then wraps them around cotton clothesline, then zigzags the strips together. How she manages to keep them in shape as she sews is a complete mystery to me though. She makes these baskets in all kinds of sizes and I must say I certainly do lust after them...and she has made them on lots of different colors also. If you have any questions you can contact Carol Ann through her blog and also see some of her work.

The work that is done at AWOL is just amazing. From Carol Ann's baskets, to crazy quilting, to all kinds of beautiful pieced quilts, to applique, it's all there...beading too. So, stay tuned this week to see more! Hope you are all well....see you soon. take care, pat

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.