Nellie"s Needles

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Bouquet - May "IT" Challenge

Spring Bouquet (13"x 17")

The "Interpret This" challenge photo for May was chosen by Libby of Creative Endeavors.
 My interpretation of Libby's photo is limited to the end of one branch.
Those blossoms were "virtually picked and arranged" in one of my favorite vases ... a water globe.

The decisions I made and how I constructed my interpretation is revealed on Interpret This.  I'm one of the last members of the group to post.  So while you're there, check out the preceding interpretations for this photograph of a full blossomed tree in a park on a beautiful spring day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Good News!

My issue of Fiber Arts magazine arrived in the mail today.  "Prairie Performance" and I are published in it.

I'm pleased to be included in this publication that I've subscribed to since the first issue.  It would've been nice for it to have been a full length article, but this will suffice.

There's more news!  The Robin's nest is empty.

The last and the smallest of the chicks found its way down into the courtyard.

One of the parent birds came in a few times with food.  A short time later it winged its way out the courtyard door to the stand of pine trees to join its siblings and parents.  We miss the noise and drama of watching this family of Robins.  In retrospect, it all seems to have happened so fast ... the building of the nest, the hatching of the eggs, the growth of the chicks.  In reality, it was a month.  Really, that was a short time!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two Have Left the Nest

This morning I came down to find the biggest, bravest Robin chick perched high on an African mask in the courtyard.  He must have had a good night in spite of being on his own for the first time.
When I came back from fixing breakfast, I couldn't see him anywhere.  A lot cheeping caused me to look up into the tree.  By golly, there he was.  I ran up the stairs to take his picture from the deck.
He flew to another branch, but missed it and ended up back down in the courtyard.  In the meantime, one of his siblings was looking bright eyed and doing a lot of cheeping.
 In a few minutes time he was making a big fuss and doing a dance of wing flapping on the edge of the nest.  This time my husband got to see a baby fly out of the tree.  It caught the tail of a bird sculpture on the way down.
This new little flier spent very little time down in the ivy.  He seemed strong while the other bird appeared to stop trying to make it back up into the tree.  I felt a need to do something.  So, I opened the courtyard door.  The biggest one would venture out to sit on the copper sculpture for a bit and then hop back into the courtyard.  After a while a parent bird enticed them into the bushes.  The last I saw of these two, they were flitting about with their parent in the stand of evergreen trees near where we park our car.
The smallest chick has the nest to himself.  How long will it be there?  I don't know how all three of them had fit in there before the first one left.

Baby Robin's First Adventure

 I actually saw him fly out of the nest.

Before I knew it, he was out of the tree and out of the courtyard.
I shooed him back into the courtyard and closed the door.  There's a cat that run's free in the neighborhood and he likes to hang around here.
 The little one flies from driftwood to sculptures.   It seems to grow as I watch it.  All day long it's been flitting around the courtyard and both parents have come to feed it.
It can fly rather high, but not up into the tree.  It seems to eventually be able to turn itself around on a perch to get going in the right direction.  It's now getting dark and the mother seems quite concerned.  I think it will be alright in the courtyard for the night.  There seems to be a lot of feathers on this little one and they can fluff out quite a bit, too.  I wonder if a sibling will be joining him tomorrow leaving the smallest of the three baby birds alone in the nest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Robins and Their Tree

Yesterday it rained hard in the morning and then another storm came in the afternoon.  Lee just happened to look out of our bedroom window to check on the babies in the nest to see this.

The mother Robin making herself as large as possible to protect her brood.  Her wings and tail feathers were fanned out and all the others ruffled so she completely covered the nest.  I grabbed the camera and took the photo above through the window.  Then I ducked out in the rain to snap this one.
The mother really is not very large.  Especially with all the work of keeping those three fast growing babies fed and protected ... from me.

Her nest in this tree really is high off the ground.
 And the tree has a dense canopy.
I love that the robins chose our beautiful Maple tree and built their nest where we are privileged to see them caring for their young.  Soon we'll be watching flying lessons.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wired Fish

... screening wire, that is.  This is our latest art acquisition.

We had stopped in Asheville, North Carolina on our way to Charleston, South Carolina a couple of weeks ago and spent the afternoon visiting art galleries.  There are a lot of good ones and we found a new favorite, Blue Spiral 1.   It is the largest gallery we've ever seen.  It's located uptown in a large old building with three floors of fabulous art.  It's the sister gallery of our long time favorite, the New Morning Gallery in Biltmore village where we bought the table that doubles for dining and a desk a year ago.

There was a lot of interesting art, but the work that intrigued us the most were the structures sculpted with screening wire created by Janet Brome.  We had not a clue where we would put it when we got home, but we had to have one of the fish.
Initially, we thought it would be wonderful hanging in our kitchen.  However, it was lost among all the art in there.  So I dangled it into the living room looking for a place to hang it.  Looking up, I saw the spot.
Ever since we put up the metal mermaid sign holder I thought she should be holding something.  What it should be, I didn't know until I walked into the room with the fish sculpture.  It fits in perfectly with all the swimming and flying creatures displayed on that wall.  Also, the air flow from the register on that wall gentle sways and rotates the fish in the air.  We're delighted!

And here's an update on the Robins.  They are growing so fast.  The largest one's eyes are now open.  Both parents are constantly feeding and protecting them.  I haven't seen the mother Robin sitting on the brood in the last day.  I hope that nest holds them as long as they need to be in it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Liking These Clouds

Well, I'm finally done with the top row of cloud panels for "The Lake" installation piece ... for now.  They're much closer to the effect that I think I want.  Photos of the individual panels were taken this morning in front of a window with natural light.

I'm glad to finally have a tripod to attach my camera for taking steady and consistent photos.  I found this one at a Tuesday Morning shop for only $20.  It telescopes and folds up to be quite small.  A piece of cardboard marks the place for each panel to be positioned so there is consistency in the photographs.  I've found it's best to snap at least two pictures.  It seems I have a heavy finger for the first shot as evidenced by the first photo usually  turning out blurred.

I also took a picture of the panels laid out on the floor.

Rotating the photo gives the perspective of standing at one end to view it.

And then I had taken a photo outside my studio after spraying the panels with Krylon fixative to set the oil stick pastels, as well as to build up layers of protection from dust and to prevent fading from UV rays.  This is what I want to see.  Is this a clue as to how they'll appear when mounted so far above eye level and spot lighted? ... hmmmmmmmmm ...

The day couldn't pass without my checking up on the baby Robins in our courtyard tree.  It's amazing how fast they're growing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baby Robins

The baby birds in the Robins nest built in the tree top just off our upper deck were first seen several days ago.  We saw two.
The parent birds are upset when we're near.  Both were off looking for food so I could get close for this photo ... and there are three little hungry mouths in that nest.

In the meantime, I'm totally immersed in clouds for "The Lake".  This one panel has gone through these transformations...
...and I'm still working to get the effect I have in my mind's eye.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quilted Sky

There's been lots of thinking, studying, and digging through scraps to come up with a sky for "The Lake".

The larger pieces are laid first.  My thinking is to have less clouds in the foreground.

Details are added with bits of dryer lint from laundering wool blankets, wool roving, and pulled apart scraps of batting.

All of these layers look raw and require a bit of faith as well as knowledge about what most likely will happen in later stages of work.  This is the part about creating that is frustrating AND exciting.

Before I trap all that "stuff" under tulle netting it gets checked out in relationship to the other parts of the BIG picture.

There were more clouds than I had in mind so some got removed before I trapped them in place with tulle netting and machine quilting.

This stage looks "finished", but there are more steps to go before it is.  Now to get all the panels in that top row of the installation composed to this point before we leave for the summer cottage on the lake.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ArtPrize - Grand Rapids, MI

Who better to explain what ArtPrize is all about than the guy who's behind it all, Rick DeVos.

I'm so pleased to be a participant in this year's event. Registration for the venues, buildings and businesses and institutions that want to exhibit the art, has already happened. The artists are registering their work now through May 27th.  Beginning June 1st the venues and artists begin negotiating about what will be exhibited where.  This venture truly requires participation by everyone involved ... the artists, the exhibitors, and viewing public.

Click on the ArtPrize logo to go the blog to keep up with events.

To see the scope and scale of last year's art, click on the above video to get to YouTube.  There are many videos that feature the art, venues, and participants in lively and amusing clips.

Now to get back to digging through the bags of scraps to get on with my entry, "The Lake".

"The Lake" Study - 21" x 17"

My goal is to get the five sky panels composed before we move to Michigan for the summer.  The two rows of foreground breaking waves and beach will get done in Studio North, as well as mounting all twenty-five panels for hanging as one BIG art quilt that measures 9 feet wide by 7 feet high.  That's not as large as "Prairie Performance" installed at the Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois which is 14 feet wide by 10 feet high.  Whew! I get worn out just remembering the 6 months of solid work to get that one to completion.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Birds - Real & Sculptured

We had been watching a male robin and this nest being built in the tree that's growing in our inner courtyard.  It's reported that it's the female who constructs the nest, but we only saw Mr. Robin flitting around while it was taking shape.

The canopy of that Maple tree is right off our upper deck which is home to many metal sculptured birds. These may look familiar, but different from ones you've seen for sale.  We've had them for quite a few years and they've been repainted a couple of times.

Finally we saw Mrs. Robin.  She has been sitting on the nest for a bit more than a week.  It will be interesting to watch the fledglings when they hatch.

There's been a lot of activity on my bird pattern site, as well.

Carmen from the Netherlands crafted this bird pincushion.  I love that nest ... or are those eggs.  It's not only functional, but a wonderful solution if someone doesn't have suitable wire for the bird's legs.

While I had my camera out on the deck I took a photo of the bright red new growth at the ends of the branches on the Maple tree.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

"The Lake" Quilt Study

This is a study for the large installation, "The Lake", which will be 9'x 7'.  This small version has a number of purposes.  The prime one is to give me a clearer vision as to how I want to present "a moment alone on the beach".

"The Lake" Study - 21"x 17"

I had already worked out the coloration and wave action on the horizon and middle ground as you can see in the photo below.

Again, I'm grateful to our older son for creating a Photoshop template for this project as he had done for "Prairie Performance".  It's great to drop a photo of a finished panel into place to see how it looks with the others ... how it fits into the whole picture.  I can see quite a bit of work ahead with the oil stick pastels and paints to blend all of those separate panels into one big lake.  Although, some of those areas are shadowed in the photographs because they were snapped on different days as well as time of day.  At some point I'll retake photos of all of them at once so they'll have the same lighting conditions to give me a truer picture.

In the meantime, I needed to work out a solution for the beach grass.

The blades extend over the waves lapping to the shore so they couldn't be put into place before the water was quilted.  My solution was to layer the blue tulle netting over the whole scene.  After the sky and water were quilted, l layered slivers of cut fabric as a base for the blades of grass over the blue tulle covering the foundation fabrics that make up the beach. 

Then a sand colored tulle was layered over the whole beach area.  I quilted a line along the water's edge and trimmed away the excess that extended into the lake.  After concentric lines were quilted to accent the contours in the sand, I free-motion quilted lots of beach grass blades with two different variegated threads.  I've also drawn blades with colored pencils for an added dimension ... old grass and shadows.

I'm still thinking about the sky.  The sky is okay for this small piece, but it's not the brilliant blue perfect summer day sky with a few scattered high clouds that I think I want ... something similar to this photo taken by my nephew.
Or, like the scattered high clouds on the day we toured Fort Sumter.
This may necessitate the removal of the quilting above the horizon line for that row of panels and reworking the sky above the horizon.  Although, a lot of shading with oil stick pastels may soften what's there, pushing those indistinct clouds further into the distance as seen in the skyline over Charleston.

center panel, 2nd row of "The Lake" installation
 (21" x 17")
I won't know until the sky panels are composed ... and that begins tomorrow.