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Turning The Tumbnail Quilt Into A Final Quilt

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This is the thumbnail quilt with which I started. My idea was to portray what bipolar disorder feels like. The ups. The downs. The mixed episodes – where there’s both manic and depressive. Feeling fine and snarling at Jim. It’s quite the adventure.

I’ve started on the next/final version of the quilt. I basted 2″ from each edge so I’d be sure to have enough fabric to frame the design and still be able to attach binding. Then, I redid my sketches of gingko leaves in an effort to come up with something a bit more realistic. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was with the thumbnail quilt.

I cut out leaves, placed them on the fabric, and used embroidery floss to appliqué the leaves onto the fabric. I used beads and embroidery floss in an attempt to show a different aspect of bipolar disorder in each leaf. I’m not done yet, but here’s what I have so far.

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I hung the unfinished quilt top on the clothes line in order to take photos.

Individual leaves that have been embellished:

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I leave it to you to decide what emotions and moods are portrayed in each leaf.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what some talented artists have been up to.

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Playing With A Canon

I belong to the Digital Photography School page on Facebook. Lots of great information on that page. One person posted about a photography exercise. Find an inanimate object and take 25 photos of the object from an assortment of angles. So I did.

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Oops. If I turn off automatic focus, the camera will not focus automatically. I had turned off the auto focus in order to do some night photography.

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I had gone to a quilt shop yesterday and fat quarters were on sale. It would have been rude not to buy any of the on sale fat quarters. Buy 4, and the 5th one is free. So, above is my inanimate object. img_5576

I tried really, really hard to buy fabrics in light and dark values rather than medium values – a quest in which I failed really, really badly. Sigh.

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It’s amazing how different something looks when photographed from a different angle.

A couple nights before Christmas, I went downtown to do some night photography. I had read an article from Digital Photography School about painting with light. Basically, put the camera on a tripod, use a 30-second shutter speed, move the camera in a circle. I didn’t feel like dragging around a  tripod, so I improvised. I used manual focus, a 2-second shutter speed, and moved the camera in partial ellipse rather than in a straight line.

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All the above photos are of the same tree.

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I bought a collection of star filters. These make points of light come out of any light source. Almost any. Little twinkling lights don’t make stars. I have a 4, 6 and 8 point filters. I used the 6 point filter for this expedition.

img_5396Getting up really close to the twinkle lights allowed for a subtle star to form. There were twinkle lights strung on a Mexican palm tree. This is a close up of the trunk of the palm.

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I think this was the best shot of the night. It’s the door to a gallery that sells home decor items. version-2-1Just because. I don’t even remember what this store sold. I just wanted to play with the lights and the trees.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what some other talented artists have been doing.

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Another Thumbnail Quilt

I’ve been working on another thumbnail quilt. Originally, the piece was to have two appliqués and then I’d fold the fabric in half and stuff a piece of batting between the two layers. I wanted to see not just what the appliqués looked like, but also to figure out how I want to quilt it.

The first draft of the thumbnail quilt:

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Like many of my pieces, this will eventually be an autobiographical piece. As I played with the appliqué and beading, I thought about bipolar disorder and how my brain is a whole lot different from the usual brain. My brain has a mind of its own. Moods frequently have nothing to do with how I feel or what is happening around me. When I’m above center, I’m loud, unrestrained, and I feel as if a hurricane blew in when I enter a room. When I’m below center, I want to be a hermit. I withdraw. I pretend I don’t hear people so I don’t have to respond to them. My intention was to show both above and below center in a quilt.

But then I got to thinking…… What if I tried to show not just the extremes, but the places between center and each extreme. What would those places look like?

I decided I didn’t want to fold the fabric in half. I unfolded and added two more leaves.

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I took out the veins for one leaf, and put subdued beads and veins in the other leaf. I don’t usually use black thread for quilting, but I like how it looked and I couldn’t find another color that I liked as well.

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I needed some quilting to fill in around some of the leaves so I used a template for a smaller leaf. I’m not sure if I like it. I had intended the appliqué leaves to be gingko leaves, but that’s one leaf that I have trouble drawing. I chose a gingko leaf because gingko’s are considered to be one of the oldest species of trees. I’m not sure how that relates to bipolar disorder. I haven’t decided if I like the ambiguous shapes. I’m not sure this quilt says what I want it to say.

As for the Tree of Life quilt, I was astounded by the variety of responses. People saw everything from a tree of life to sad and depressed. Through that, I learned that art speaks to people on a deep, inner level. Whether you see what I saw or not, you do see what you need to see in any given piece.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here and with Busy Hands Quilts here. Stop by and see what’s new with all the great artists who link with her.

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What Do You See Here?

Frequently, I don’t understand what is going on inside of me until whatever it is comes out in art. A few months back, I started playing with thumbnail quilts to try out some new-to-me techniques. From there, I decided I wanted to make a Tree of Life quilt. I used water color pencils,  paint sticks, and assorted threads. I’ve been working on this quilt – which is actually a study for the final quilt – on and off for a few months. Yesterday, I was working on the veins in the leaves and suddenly realized I needed to put something of me into the quilt.

I know what I’m trying to say with this quilt, but I don’t know if I’m saying it. Please look at the photos (this is still a work in progress) and let me know what it is you see in the quilt.

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Yes, I need to make myself a design board so I can take photos easier. It’s on the list of things to do. I also need to figure out how I want to quilt this piece. Quilting will be done by machine, but I haven’t decided what the quilting will look like.

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Leaves done with paint sticks. I like the effect, but the oil in the paint stick tends to bleed and the paints are NEVER absolutely set. I ironed these. Twice. I waited several weeks. I still got paint on my hands while doing the embroidery.

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I used watercolor pencils for these leaves. I like the effect, but I don’t like all the uncontrolled bleeding. For the final quilt, I’m going to be using a sheer fabric and making appliquéd leaves.

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This is what came out of my head yesterday.

So… what do you see when you look at the quilt? Many thanks.

I’m linking up with Nina Marie. See what she’s been up to and check out the others who link with her blog. There are some wonderful inspirations there. Click here.

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Still Working on Photos

I may be overthinking things a bit. I love how leaves change color, but leaves turning isn’t a big show in the desert. I took the photos below on December 8, 2016. I had to go to class for my final critique and I park my car about a quarter mile from where my class is. I’m a frugal woman and I’m not about to pay $100 for a parking pass I’ll only use one or two days a week. Plus, I’d have to park farther away if I parked on campus. I pulled into a spot next to these trees. I didn’t have the Canon with me, so in desperation, I pulled out the iPhone and shot the photos below. Didn’t do any thinking, composing, or focusing. Just shot.

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I love working with and wearing Swarovski crystals. I don’t love photographing them. It’s hard to get all of the earrings in focus and harder to get accurate colors on the crystals.

The moon below is a gentle, golden color and the star is pretty much the color in the photo.

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The golden bead at the bottom is a more subtle color that what shows in the photo.

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This one is pretty close on the purple. It’s a pale color, but no amount of editing was going to result in dead on accurate color.

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This one is pretty accurate.

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The blue beads are a more subtle shade.

For the moment, this is as good as it gets. I love Swarovski crystals for the way they sparkle when light hits them. It’s that sparkle that makes them so hard to photograph.

I spent part of the week sewing a blouse from a rayon knit with four-way stretch. I’ve decided I don’t like making clothes from rayon knit. The fabric is so stretchy that it stretches itself out of shape while sewing. Plus, the pattern made a blouse that looked good on the pattern envelop but looked hideous on me.

I’ve got a cotton knit with two-way stretch that I really like. It’s white with zebras. I can’t find a pattern for something that I think would look good with that print. I know there’s a pajama pattern that would work, and it’s a pattern I’ve used before. Anyone remember where I put the pattern? The photo on the front of the pattern envelop is…. stupid and insulting. Dumb poses for the women wearing the garments. But, this pattern does make a nice, comfy, practical nightgown.  You know you’ve been married a long time when you want a practical nightgown. It’s been 44.5 years.

The zebra fabric will sit until I can figure out something to make out of it.

I’m linking with NinaMarie here. Lots of good stuff on her blog and lots of good blogs liked to her blog.

Yes, the earrings are for sale. $30.00 USD includes postage to anywhere in the US.

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I Will Learn How To Take Great Photos

I’ve been working on taking better photos of my work. Here’s some of the progression from shots yesterday and today.

First attempt:

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I used a piece of linen for the background, which takes away from the earrings. Because I was so close to the earrings, I couldn’t get the depth of field right so there’s blur. I was also having problems with the white balance.

Second attempt:

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I moved the piece of linen back and hung the earrings on a rod. Better, but not great.

Third attempt:

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I put a piece of foil behind the earrings, hung them from a rod, and put a small light beneath and slightly behind the earrings. Better, but still not great.

Fourth attempt:

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I moved the foil to about 10″ behind the stand. I had a small light below and a bit behind the earrings. This time, I put the camera on a tripod and used a 2 second self timer so I wouldn’t be holding the camera when the shutter opened.

I’m still not thrilled, but I am getting better. There are still blurry beads.

The earring making frenzy started on Tuesday. I wanted earrings to go with my blouse that features pink flamingos. So I made these:

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Yesterday, I had planned on doing some sewing until I saw that I had neglected to put the beads away and I had containers of beads on my cutting table. So I decided to make earrings rather than sew. The other three pair of earrings are what I made yesterday.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what she was up to this week and take a look at some of the other blogs liked to hers. There’s some great art in there.