Nellie"s Needles

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Smocking: Fabric Manipulation and Beyond" Exhibition

I'm recently back from a trip to California. One reason for it was to celebrate the opening of this exhibition at the Lacis Museum in Berkeley to which I had gifted most all of the smocked clothing and decorative items I had created.
 
There were two big receptions for this show. The first one on March 8th is described in Laci's newsletter as "a day LMLT will long remember.  With the coming of Sarah Douglas, Mimi Ahern and Nellie Durand, who hosted a delightful and lively interview with the many visitors, the future of smocking is secured, the techniques of fabric manipulation. an invitation to creativity, demonstrated by the works of these ladies some 35 years ago and by the works of today as submitted by the contributors to this exhibit."

The discussion session that included questions from the audience was my favorite part.



The exhibition is extensive. This is just a small portion ...
Go here to see a slide show of all the exhibited pieces. That is, all but the smocked dress worn by Anne Hathaway in Les Miserable. That garment is shown in a separate gallery and can be viewed with a museum person, because it is not allowed to be photographed. Otherwise, picture taking is welcome. I enjoyed meeting and talking to the many visitors at this reception as well as the Smocking Arts Guild of America events held during the next week.

I was thrilled for this opportunity to be with Sarah and Mimi after not seeing them since I "retired" from teaching and all SAGA activities well over twenty-two years ago. After the reception Sarah and I spent time at Mimi's home. She captured a photo of Sarah and me having a morning chat in her backyard. She's knitting and I'm working on a "crinkle quilt."
 
The other purpose of my trip was to visit our younger son's family. With them I saw a lot of the Bay area.
 
He, his wife and me above ... me with a grandson on a walk below. It wasn't difficult to take fairly long walks on top of those hills.

I was delighted to spend an afternoon watching my granddaughter play softball ... she's up to bat.

I got my feet in the ocean at the beach in Santa Cruz ..,
and had the opportunity to build a "faery house" with beach debris after a picnic lunch at another beach off Highway #1 on the drive to get there ...
It was a day trip that included my nephew from Nashville and his daughters who were visiting California on spring break. A few mornings later his girls and I built this faery house in the terrace garden of my son's house. Both structures are furnished with a table, bed, chair, and of course flowers in the one below. Wish I had taken photos before the roofs and doors were installed.


Speaking of terraced gardens, I was delighted to visit the awesome botanical gardens on the hillside above Berkeley ...


I had a wonderful time in California. If you plan to visit the Bay area, include a side trip to Lacis. This exhibition runs through October 4th and the shop sells every sort of needlework supply you could possibly imagine, which makes looking through the store very interesting. Here's a quote about the museum by the owner, Jules:
Our exhibits are designed to elicit,  capture and preserve memories. The task of the Museum is to not let us forget.

Jules Kliot, Director
and their location:
Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles
2982 Adeline Street
Berkeley, CA  94703
and website: http://lacismuseum.org
   

Friday, February 28, 2014

Glass Flowers in My Gardens

At the beginning of the year I had promised to write about the glass project that kept me busy at the end of last summer. About 50 flowers were constructed from dishes and copper tubing. These are the ones I created to bring home to Tennessee ...
And here they are in our sculpture garden under the magnolia tree.

The idea and know-how came from my friend Helen who had given me a flower that she'd created at the end of the summer in 2012. I knew immediately that I had to learn how to make them ... specifically for the metal sculpture garden at our cottage in Michigan.
I've been enamored of glass mixed with metal sculptures since going to the Dale Chihuly glass installations at the Frederick Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2010. (To read about that exhibition and see photos go here.)

Here's a close-up of one "flower" head made of finds at thrift stores...
It's composed of a devils egg platter, a pressed crystal bowl and a tea lite candle holder ... with a drawer pull as the center.

I shopped a lot of thrift stores in Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin buying glass ware. There's no way to purchase specific pieces to make a flower. It took buying whatever might possibly work. The fun part was playing with combinations ...

It was work to drill holes in the center of each piece. I spent quite a few afternoons in Helen's garage using her drill press.

This is my set-up for assembling a flower ...

The pillows are for cushioning my hands and the dishes. That also raised them off the table so I could build the stack of dishes onto a long bolt ... the head of which came through the underside of the hole drilled in the stem.

But first, the stems and leaves had to be made from copper tubing. The 10' long pipes were cut in half for the tall flowers and in thirds for the smaller ones. One end was pounded flat and drilled for the flower heads. The leaves were formed by bending smaller copper tubing into shape. Here's my set up for welding the leaves to the stem with a blow torch.

Here are some favorite small flowers ...
 The frosted blue piece is a shade for a hanging lamp.

Most of the drawer pulls in the centers are new. Although, I used quite a few that were saved from the doors and drawers I had replaced over the years.

I think there will be a separate garden for the flowers made with mostly clear glass.

I'm thinking the area of mostly beach grass that's tucked behind trees along the shore and sweeps up into the woods below the new deck that was built last summer will showcase them beautifully.

To view just about all the glass flowers I've created go to my Flickr page. There a few that were gifted before I had a chance to take their pictures.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Soupcon #1 - Border

This afternoon the border that's part of step #4 for my first Soupcon Quilt Along project got sewn on ...
The narrow outer borders are cut from a fine Italian cotton with a tiny print that reminded me of the patterning used for men's ties. So that sent me searching for for the tin full of hexagons constructed from my husband's neckties that I made nearly twenty years ago after he had retired ...


Here they are pinned in place. The actual colors of the silk tie hexagons are a bit more subdued than they appear here.
...and a close-up so you can see the patterning of the Italian cotton.

I really like those silk tie hexagons, but I think they're too large. The edges each measure 1 1/4". I think my evenings work will be remaking them so they're 1"... the size of the hexagons that make up shapes in the focal area. Can't wait to get that done!

Post Script: A comment made on the Flickr site by one of my fellow participants has given me pause. She observed how the "viewer can look through." Now I see that center panel floating over a dark smoky background. Do I want to go with that or carry on with filling that negative space with the hexagons made from the silk ties. I've spent the evening making all of them smaller. I like the look, but just maybe they'll work better into the next step Karen gives us at the end of this next week. So this is it for this project until then.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My 3rd Soupcon Quilt Along

I could not resist beginning yet another quilt using Karen of Faeries and Fibers instructions for this group quilt along.
It started with this hexagon I had made back in the first week of this group project.

 Soupcon Step 1

I got carried away with the "what if" possibilities and had made a bunch. I had ended up using this one to make valentines. It was printed out on textured paper and then I glued and couched threads to make designs. While doing all that I came across a square of silk I had hand painted quite a few years ago. The color reminded me of roses. So I went digging through the home dec fabric samples and found this piece ...

I scanned it in my printer, cut out one rose and a bunch of leaves and placed them on the hexagon. I liked what I saw a lot.
Soupcon Step 2
Paper cut-outs on left. Machine appliqued and quilted on right.

I had applied bonding to the fabric rose and leaves before cutting them out. The rose and leaves were adhered with a hot iron. The leaves were positioned under the edge of the hexagon and bonded down before it was hand-stitched in place on the background.

I wanted these elements to stand out a bit more on my finished piece so had placed a layer of wool batting on the under side before machine quilting around the rose and leaves. The excess batting was trimmed away.

Now it was time to add the rose-colored ring and background fabric...
Soupcon Step 3

There are a number of ways to make the ring. This is how I did it for this project (I skip this step if the fabric can be spray starched stiff enough to hold its shape).
Many years ago I had purchased this ruler that has holes punched at half inch intervals. By anchoring it into my small ironing pad that is a piece of covered fiber board I can draw my circle. These are the lines that are machine stitched...

The next step is to cut away the excess fabric beyond a seam allowance. Tear away the freezer paper from the inside seam allowance and clip the fabric at close intervals. Note that my scissor points don't go beyond my stitched line.
I use craft glue to adhere the folded seam allowance to the the freezer paper. Note that I fold and glue short sections that are opposite each other on the circle at a time. Repeat those steps for the outside seam allowance. Pin the circle in the desired position and either hand or machine blind stitch in place.

I hand appliqued mine, then machine couched rayon embroidery thread over the edges. (Go here for a tutorial on how I machine couch and scroll down to "couch yarns to the surface"). I used the same stranded rayon floss to embroider around the leaves and the rose.
Also, I wrapped the quilting stitches of the rose petals with this thread.

To my mind this piece begged for "dancing squares" in the next border.
 Soupcon Step 4
I learned this technique in a class taken from Ricky Timms. It goes together something like this...
It's been a while since I had made this type of border and had difficulty getting my spacing figured out. I will be hand appliqueing the two squares pined at the top of the side panels to fill in my too wide spacing.

Go here to see all the creative variations made by the Soupcon group members. If you're intrigued and wish to join the fun of making one of your own, go to Karen's blog to get instructions.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Soupcon Quilt Along - Step 4

Yesterday Karen gave us instructions for the fourth step for our hexagon quilt along. I consider this to have been a very nice valentine from her. I spent the afternoon cutting and sewing the pieced border. I had no experience with this pattern and was glad to learn how to set those squares on point without going crazy.
19"x 19"
It wasn't until all the borders were sewn on did that pieced border begin to glow. To me it has the shine of faceted jewels.

In this close-up shot you can more clearly see the fabrics. Who would've thought that hand-marbled fabric would be the one that works. Wish I had taken photos of my other considerations, but I was too excited to get started to take the time to do so.

Now I'm excited to add this border pattern to my initial project for this quilt along ... the one that grew beyond the boundary of  Soupcon's first step. I did take the time to photograph the border fabric auditions on this one. I'm still in the process of embroidering around the hexagon motifs and will finish doing that before adding the border pattern.

Audition #1
The red patterned squares pick up the red in the hexagon's centers, though that scale is too large. I liked the colors in the pattern of the fabric around them, but it's really too busy.
 Audition #2
The dark fabric behind those same red squares is flecked with bright colors. It's the one in the background of my single hexagon piece at the beginning of this post.

Audition #3
I'm still liking that red fabric for the squares. This time over the same shaded black fabric that's behind the center star hexagon.

Audition #4
I happened to take notice of how the marbled fabric used for those diamonds in the other piece picked up the purplish hue of the big squares in this one. I do believe this with the shaded black background will be my choice. I think the striped fabric may be the one I use to outline the diamond pattern. Although, there's time for something else to take my fancy before I actually begin cutting.

Take note that the fancy border around the center star motif is appliqued and embroidered. I'm pleased. It's a bit of struggle coming up with designs to border the "round" hexagon shapes. I've just this moment begun to suspect they don't need embellishing. In which case, the embroidery I've done around the top center will need to come out.