Sunday, December 29, 2019

End of the year on Art With a Needle

Maybe you noticed that there has been no "last week on Art with a Needle" since before Christmas.  That's because we have been on vacation and who wants to write blog posts when you can be walking on the beach (or fixing meals for your adorable grandchildren and their adorable parents).

For more than thirty years we have been going to the beach in South Carolina at or near Christmas, not every year, but regularly enough that we notice when a favorite restaurant closes or a favorite grocery store changes ownership.  Some years it's pretty warm, other years pretty cold, but usually it's warmer in South Carolina than it is at home and we feel lucky.  In earlier years we shlepped the kids to all the obvious tourist attractions in and around Charleston, but lately we never seem to do much except walk on the beach.  Or, this year, play cards and board games while it rained six inches in one day and walking on the beach didn't seem like such a good plan.

But the storm ended, the sun came out, and a big storm means a bumper crop of shells and what my daughter-in-law calls "sea junk" to pick up.  Sometimes we leave our sea junk artfully arranged on the railing of the rental porch.  Sometimes we bring it home, whereupon we throw it out.  Other times we bring it home and stash it in the work room where with any luck it does not stink the place up.  But this year, I processed the smallest bits of sea junk to make daily miniatures (and brought the larger bits home, where with any luck.....).

Just before we left I wrote about helping Isaac make a pillow to give to his dad.  Bethany left a comment: "I have a little grandson that will be very happy to see Isaac's pillow -- he loves to sew with me by hand and at 5, he is almost ready for lessons."  Well, your little boy is doing it the opposite way from Isaac, who learned on the sewing machine first but isn't much interested in hand-stitching.  If you're thinking about graduating him to the machine, you might want to read some of my past posts about teaching kids to sew.

It's getting late in the year, but I'm still hoping that Sharon Buck will send me her street address so I can send her an ornament!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kid at the sewing machine!

Isaac accompanied his mom to the fabric store last week and saw some fabric with deer.  He wanted to buy it and make a pillow to give to his father, who loves to hunt.  So he came over yesterday to sew.

Although Isaac has been using the sewing machine for four years now, it has always been collage/applique.  All he had to do was pivot the fabric to point in the direction he wanted to sew, and pedal-to-the-metal.  We never cared whether the stitching went right down the middle, or if it caught the entire piece being attached, as long as the seam didn't run off the edge of the base fabric.  He had never attempted to sew a straight seam, nor keep the raw edges to the inside.  So this project was going to be a challenge.

Fortunately, he rose to the occasion.  After all, he's nine years old now!  I cut out the squares of fabric in advance, then put a piece of blue painter's tape on the sewing machine table so he could maintain a half-inch seam allowance.  I marked the corners with a pencil dot so he knew when to stop sewing and pivot.  But he did all the rest.

The hardest part came at the end, after we turned the pillow cover inside out, stuffed it and pinned the last side closed.  It took help to hold the foam rubber away from the pillow edge so the gap could be neatly stitched shut.  But we managed that part too.  Here's Isaac with his finished present:

And the winner is...

Sharon Buck, who's going to get an ornament from me -- if she sends me her snail mail address. 

(I'm at if anybody ever needs to find me.)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

I spent four days at the retreat center, an outing that always comes at the most inconvenient time -- we have a perpetual reservation for the second week in December.  Yes, it might be more efficient to be at home working on Christmas ornaments or getting a start on holiday baking or just cleaning the studio, but a small group of us write it on the calendar a year ahead of time and we show up, even though it may mean missing another meeting or driving in from the retreat center for a meeting we need to attend. 

I didn't accomplish much art, but I did go through many, many piles of accumulated stuff and got the stuff read, sorted, acted upon or thought about, as the case may be.  A huge grocery bag full of discarded paper to go in the recycling bin.  I also did my good deed for the joint causes of friendship and literature by reading the draft of a mystery novel written by the husband of one of my art pals.  I'm a good editor, if I do say so myself, and I love mystery stories, so I was happy to spend time with this book and think about what I liked, what I felt was not fully explained, where I wanted more detail, and similar global issues.

I read a neat book about hand embroidery that one of my friends had brought along, and got a bunch of ideas that I'd like to experiment with.  The same friend showed me some little dolls she had gotten from Guatemala, dressed in bits of handwoven fabrics, which in turn inspired me to make a little doll as a daily miniature.

little dolls from Guatemala -- maybe one inch tall?
my favorite miniature -- the dress is a scrap from Vickie's quilt

Since returning home, I've been sewing on ornaments.  All the international ones are in the mail, but several in the US still have to be sent, plus the hand-delivered ones in town.  Left it too late this year, I guess.

Susan Sawatzky was so kind as to send me a link to a YouTube video on calligraphy, but when I went to the site I was told the video is unavailable.  Sob.  I'd love some new ideas on calligraphy.  This week, preoccupied with affairs of state, I have mostly been copying the Constitution.  Sounds boring, but we could all probably do with a refresher course in what that wonderful document says and thus how our government works.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

On retreat

Every December I spend four days at a quilters' retreat place with a small group of art pals.  Much as it's great to concentrate on art for a while, I have gotten into the habit of using my retreat time to attack my huge piles of papers accumulated over months.

Here I am on Monday morning, with a table full of boxes of piles.

( You're only seeing half of what I brought.)

After a day and a half of work, I've cleared two boxes, caught up on photographing my daily miniatures (I was two weeks behind), gave a tutorial on my quilt facing method, and had a really great night's sleep!

Others in the group are actually making fiber art.  Robin Walston has a new quilt on the design wall:

Debby Levine, my bridge-walking companion for many years, is working out how to knit silhouettes of Louisville's bridges into caps:

The week is off to a good start.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Last week on Art With a Needle

Seems like I didn't do anything all week except work for PYRO Gallery.  I did a shift of gallery-sitting on Sunday, went in on Wednesday morning to hang my work, made the gallery tags for everything in the new show, printed them out and helped affix then to the wall on Thursday morning, went back Friday noon with a few more tags that for some reason hadn't been finished in time, came back at 5 to help set out the food for the reception, talked with dozens of people during the reception, made a few wall tags for new work that replaced things sold at the reception, and then back again to work a shift this afternoon.

It was an exhilarating week, because we had a very successful opening, but I am looking forward to not setting foot in the gallery for the foreseeable future.

Three of my pieces sold last night, all of them the little postage stamp hangings.  This morning I rooted around in my boxes and found one more postage stamp piece that I hadn't taken in, and found another one pinned to my design wall, which with 15 minutes work was ready to be hung.  So I hung the two new pieces in the holes left by the sold work.

six postage stamp hangings, before the opening reception

minus three, plus two, this afternoon

A comment on the blog this week from Rose, who noted my mention of my broken ankle and told me about HER broken ankle last year.  I had it so much easier than she did, and so much easier than a lot of other people I have talked to who broke ankles or other pedal bones.  I am so fortunate -- it could have been so much worse.  I guess we're getting to the age range where it's so much more common to fall, and to suffer consequences.  I wish for all my friends and readers a great new year, free of broken bones and other misfortunes.

Here's my favorite miniature of the week:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

On the wall for Off The Wall

PYRO Gallery's new show, which opens tomorrow, is called Off The Wall, because if you buy something, you can take it off the wall and take it home with you right away.  Usually work purchased from a gallery show has to stay in place till the show closes, but we recognize that holiday gifts can't wait till December 28.

All the PYRO artists have work in this show, and I had hoped to have some new work ready to put up.  But between the broken ankle and the long cruise, I've been out of commission too much to get a lot made.  Besides, I need to hoard my new work for my solo show in June.

So I have a wall full of oldies but goodies, plus two new little postage stamp quilts.  I got them hung this morning but the wall tags aren't up yet.

If you're anywhere near Louisville, come by and see the show!  We're open Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 pm.  The opening reception is this Friday, December 6, 6 to 9 pm.  PYRO is at 1006 E. Washington St. in Louisville.