Hiking as Inspiration


This is a follow-up to my last post on Hiking the Rapidan and Staunton Rivers. One of the others on the hike asked what do I do with all the photos I take on our hikes: here’re some of their uses! The first two sketches were done on the hike, with water colors added in the studio. The third nature sketch I did from a photo you can see in the earlier post. The fourth and fifth water color sketches were also done in the studio from photos and are studies for larger works still in process.

Many years ago when I was still an eager young photographer, I was told “never stop taking pictures. Even if you don’t use them right away, you’ll have them for later inspiration.” At that time it never occurred to me that I might at some point use photos as reference for other art. As I moved into textiles, then watercolor, images captured years ago on film, and more recently on electronic media, retain their vibrancy and value.

Here’s an example of photo-influenced multi-generational inspiration. In 1953 my father was in Japan for a year with the Marines and took many slides as he traveled around the country. He mailed them home to us where we youngsters alternately endured and were fascinated by regular extended slide shows. In later he years gave talks in our school classes. In 2008 he scanned those slides and did a presentation for his retirement community. In 2011, he shared the scanned slides with me. I combined them with his notes and thru the wonders of the internet produced a book, at this point a period piece!

So, I always take lots of photos, use them, and/or save them. Who knows?!

Rapidan and Staunton Rivers Hike

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hiking flooded trails
Accompanied by butterflies
Along the Rapidan

Spring in Virginia – my favorite time to hike with Chesterfield County. Our naturalist loads up the van and drives us all over the state – anywhere within a two hour radius, which covers from the mountains to the coast, for weekly hikes! This past week we ventured northwest of Richmond to the confluence of the Staunton and Rapidan rivers in the Shenandoah National Park. I was eager to see what wildflowers were blooming – last year at this time we saw lots of white and pink trilliums. Many were still flowering, joined by bluets, violets, false solomon’s seal, and many others. I learned several new ones:

Bellwort – the yellow bell shaped flowers hid under nodding stems, almost invisible, on six to eight inch high plants.

Wild anemone – white flowers in a thicket of  leaves.

One-flower cancer root – a strange name for a strange plant! My first glimpse of the delicate white to pink flowers was against the lower edge of a rock. Their stems appeared to be growing from green leaves. But when I looked closer, I was reminded of Indian Pipes, or ghost plant, which have no chlorophyll. And the flower stems were growing out from under the rock. Our naturalist told me they’re parasitic on the roots of other plants!

The trail was flooded in several places as a result of the large amount of rain we’re received this year. From moss growing in the streams, it looked like water had been flowing on the trails for a while. It was easy to get around the damp areas without getting muddy feet, and it was good to see the abundance of moisture.

Outdoors in Spring – pleasant temperatures, woods in bloom, and minimal bugs! Always a pleasure. And an ice cream stop on the way home! I took lots of photos (a small percentage of which you can see in the slide show), sketched a few nature journal entries, and composed the opening and closing haiku:

flit flit butterfly
thru the fern and trillium
flit flit flit away

Developing a Painting

The Bon Air Artists Annual Show is coming up this weekend! I’m one of the exhibiting artists, so I’ve been working these past few months on getting work together. I’d originally laid out the one shown above back in August, hoping to have it done for the Unitarian Gallery show in September. But I couldn’t get up the nerve to paint it – I was scared of the wires.

In February I gritted my teeth, and started. I was still worried about the telephone wires, which is what attracted me to this image in the first place, along with the reflection in the cobblestones. But how bad could it be? If it didn’t turn out, I have enough other work by then for the show.

I made good progress, as you can see from the progressive images above, up until time to do the wires. So I let it set for awhile, and took it to the Bon Air Artists critique in early March. By that time I’d penciled in the lines. Suggestions I received where: leave as is; use a pen; use a twig. I thought on it some more and decided I wanted to paint the lines, but was unsure of how even I could make them. Finally I pulled a thin bead of water with a small rigger brush, then touched the water with a water soluble pen. Ink shot in both directions! This is cool! So I kept going. I’m pleased with how it came out!

Hope you like it. If you’re in the Richmond, Virginia are, please join us for the show this Sunday – admission is free. See you there.

Erie Bags for Trip to Ireland


My sister and I are going to Ireland the end of this Summer! I’m so excited! The challenge for our June postcard swap was ‘perchance to dream’ and I wanted to do Dreaming of Ireland based on sketches I did the end of last year. My first thought was a thatched cottage, but the more I thought about it the more complex it seemed to be. Perhaps a celtic cross? I tried sketching one and carving a stamp last October and had difficulty with the symmetry. This time I used a ruler and came closer; then scanned it in and adjusted with Powerpoint. Much better. Now I had a pattern and the postcard followed easily.

Maybe another attempt at a stamp? Yes! That worked well, so I moved on to copies of small celtic circle patterns – also acceptable. I’d been thinking of making several small lined bags to take with me on the trip to have on hand for simple gifts and the stamps were a good place to start. I did some discharge and acrylic printing with them on fabric, as I’d done in June of 2011 for the Stinkbug postcards (see blog post from that period, photo above, and youtube video of the process).  From the fabric prints and silk scraps I made lined bags using the pattern in my January 26, 2018 blog post.  All done!

Renwick: No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man

I enjoyed a bus trip yesterday to the National Gallery in Washington D.C., with a couple of side trips. My favorite was to the Renwick Gallery, near the White House, which has up an exhibit of sculptures from the Burning Man festival held each August in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Absolutely phenomenal. It will be up until January 2019. Put it on your schedule!!

Memorial Quilt – Gloves and Handkerchiefs


In April of 2016 my mother passed away, and two weeks later her next younger sister followed her. Last fall my cousin called and asked me if I would make a quilt from her mother’s gloves and handkerchiefs. Any size, any time. I was very fond of my Aunt, and my cousin, so I said, “sure!”, thinking it would be wall size and not take very long.

I thought about it for six months. Did some searches. Thought some more. Then started laying the gloves and handkerchiefs out in different patterns. You see above what I came up with! Thanks to inspiration from Susan Lenz’s Handed Down wall hanging, and design assistance from my husband. It’s 52″ x 65″ – almost twin size, and it took much longer than I had anticipated, but I’m very happy with it!

This is what I did: Layered a backing, batting, and sheet then placed the handkerchiefs on the sheet. Basted it all together and quilted. Transferred photos to fabric using T-shirt transfer material. Laid out the gloves and photos and pinned them down. Made two test pieces to decide on how to attach the gloves and photos.  Fused the photos, and hand stitched the gloves and tatting around each photo. Bound the quilt.

What I’d do differently if I ever do this again: Not use upholstery grade fabric for the backing – it was way too thick and precluded machine stitching the gloves and lace. Make it smaller, max of 24″x24″.

It was an interesting project, and I think my cousin will love it!

Quilted Jacket!


I finished my quilted jacket! See my last post for the pattern info and preliminary pattern prototype. I’m pleased with how it came out, and looking forward to wearing it to the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia this coming Thursday! If the weather forecast is correct, it may be a bit warm for a jacket, which would be OK. However, this one has flannel between the fabric layers, rather than batting, so it will work with milder temps than the prototype.

Happy Quilting!!

 

Hidden Wells

I’ve been wanting a quilted jacket, that fits – emphasis on “fits”. I’ve made several in the past and there’s always something off – too short, too long, too tight. I found a jacket pattern I liked and decided on the quilt block: Hidden Wells. This is the same one I used for my first quilt in 1992 – Hidden Wells by Mary Ellen Hopkins. Not finding it in the Suitcase of Curious Patterns, I looked online and came across an excellent tutorial by Alena Diamon. From her description of the original 1989 ‘folder’, I remembered where I’d stored mine! In the Binder of Eventually Useful Ideas!

Using Alena’s shortcuts and Mary Ellen’s tips, I made a test unit of Hidden Wells. It worked. (This is where I got sidetracked on the bag patterns in the two most recent posts, as I also made a lined bag out of the first test unit.) After some tweaks to fabric selections and an evaluation of how many units I need, I bought fabric and started on blocks for the jacket.

Meanwhile, to address ‘fit’, I made a prototype from an old quilt. It worked well despite the bulk and I identified one alteration – cut sleeves shorter. I finished the seams on the inside and the next one might be reversible… Off to finish the Hidden Wells units!

 

 

Lined Bag Pattern

Here’s the pattern for a lined bag! I’d forgotten exactly how I did this, so now I’ve got it written down! If you have questions, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Step numbers correspond to the photos shown above.

  1. Cut two pieces of fabric, each 6”x17”, and a third piece 6”x3”. These are the bag, the lining for the bag, and the casing, respectively.
  2. On the short sides of the casing piece, fold ¼” to the wrong side, and stitch.
  3. Cut the casing piece in half, lengthwise. This gives you the two casings.
  4. Fold the casings in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press.
  5. Matching raw edges, place a casing at each of the short ends of the bag fabric. Lay the lining piece on top of the bag and the casings as shown in the photo. Stitch both ends, thru lining, casing, and bag outside.
  6. Match seams with bag on one side and lining on the other.
  7. Stitch side seams of bag with a ¼” seam, leaving a 3” gap in one of the seams of the lining. Be careful not to catch the casings in the seams.
  8. Turn the bag thru the opening in the lining.
  9. Tuck the lining inside the bag.
  10. Cut a piece of ribbon long enough for both ties. Slip a safety pin to the middle of the ribbon and thread the ribbon thru both casings. Snip the ribbon at the safety pin and set the pin aside. Pull one of the ribbons to identify the other end that ribbon and then knot them together. Repeat with the second ribbon. Slip one of the knots thru the casing until it’s on the other side of the bag.

Enjoy!

 

 

Unlined Drawstring Bag

0125181114drawstring bag pattern

I was going to write up and post a pattern for a lined drawstring bag, and as I was drafting the instructions I remembered this pattern for a simple, unlined drawstring version. That’s a better place to start! So here it is for your practice! The photo at the top shows an unlined bag on the left, and a lined bag on the right. If you have questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Drawstring Bag

pattern
1 ½ yards of ribbon for ties
safety pin for threading ribbon

1. Using pattern, cut and mark two pieces of fabric, 8”x10”
2. Iron down on folds lines, then open back up
3. Place pieces right sides together and stitch ½” seam around three sides, from mark 1” down on long side to corresponding mark on other long side, back stitching to secure.
4. Turn right sides out and press seams and unstitched 1” near top open.
5. Stitch both sides of the unstitched 1” at top of the side seam, pivoting at bottom of opening, thru all thicknesses.
6. Fold over top on pressed fold lines and stitch close to edge of lower fold to form casing.
7. Pin safety pin at middle of ribbon and thread thru both sides of casing. Remove safety pin and cut ribbon. Tie matching ends.