Apr 232015

The Springtime In the Rockies Quilt Show & Shop Hop 2015 was on last weekend; I took the day off work and drove down on Friday morning – fleeing the slush and sleet to the west as I drove south and east. I arrived wet and chilly, but it wasn’t as crowded as it often is. Let me tell you, old lady quilters are a cranky bunch – the less of them in a crowd, the better.

The show seemed to be smaller and have fewer interesting pieces this year. Maybe it was my mood. No matter, here are a few shots of quilts that caught my eye for some reason.

Quilt at Springtime In the Rockies show.
Let us start with what is probably my favorite. It is sweet and whimsical without being pastel and saccharine. The variegated color quilting grid adds some excitement to a well-suited black background.

Quilt at Springtime In the Rockies show.
The subtle use of line shapes makes this a more interesting traditional quilt.

Quilt at Springtime In the Rockies show.
Simple gradient fade fabric makes this a quick, easy, strip quilt. Anyone could whip this up in a weekend.

Quilt at Springtime In the Rockies show.
Minimal quilt. Calm, balanced, good.

Quilt at Springtime In the Rockies show.
Scrappy log cabin, well laid out. Turning the log blocks on point and making them a center focus instead of carrying the entire design of the quilt makes them more visually interesting and calls them out as special.

Quilt at Springtime In the Rockies show.
Black, white, and grays. This is a rich and beautiful, simple quilt. Plenty of visual drama and contrast without a bit of color.

My fabric purchases at Springtime In the Rockies shop hop.
I didn’t buy much fabric there; not that I’m one of those anti-stash people, I consider my fabric supply as my palette for creations. I merely didn’t find much I needed to have. I got a couple novelty prints, a few good basics, an unusual shade of purple, and (best of all) a batch of black background batiks that practically jumped out of the stack into my hands. So that’s cool. They have all now been assimilated into the Borg the fabric supply, neatly folded onto cores, and organized into the shelves.

The quilt show was good for me to attend. I’ve had a rough or rotten couple weeks between work nonsense and having my workshop halfway covered up due to spandrel work, which is still not moving forward yet. Looking at finished quilts and loads of raw materials (fabric, thread, tools) was … I don’t want to say inspiring, but rather like encouraging – I was heartened and restored. After that weekend, I felt like sewing again which has led to progress on my small HST project, a good painting, and a few promising sketches.

If you would like to know more about a quilt I have pictured from the show, you may contact the Springtime in the Rockies Quilt Shop Hop committee via their website contact page for more information.

Apr 222015

As is typical of Wyoming, we had a massive snow storm on the weekend when everything was budding and pretty. Cheyenne got some mere slush, but Laramie and other places got a dangerous amount of slippery, slushy snow.
So, of course, we went out for a walk as soon as the sun came out again.
Flower buds opening on trees in Cheyenne this spring.
Trees budding in downtown Cheyenne. I like the roundhouse in the background. True, it is much less “round” than originally built, but the remaining building is only 15% of it. The roundhouse used to be an almost complete circle. I’m hoping to go in for the once-a-year public tour of the building next month.

Flower buds opening on trees in Cheyenne this spring.
And this is more in the center of town. The snow hadn’t completely melted, but it wasn’t long for the day. More budding trees.

Apr 162015

HST = Half Square Triangle. Two, diagonally patched pieces formed by facing two squares together, stichting two lines off center, then cutting them apart on center.

While I wait for electricians and others, I tidied up the workshop as best I could and spent an hour or two sorting and folding fabric. Fine, but I NEED to create stuff to destress from work and general life lately so I had to do something else. I’ve wanted to make some HSTs for a while and since I’m in project limbo right now, I pulled out a tiny charm pack and did some sewing.

Half square triangles.
They are so small and easy to pile up and away that I don’t feel in danger of breaking the workshop hold. Sewing and pressing has been helpful. It helps me to not yell at idiots and helps me to put up with the rampant stupidity of people. You can tell I need more sewing yet.

Apr 152015

Since we’re out walking around so much lately, I had to buy new sunblock. It is amazing how fast I burn in sunlight. We’ve been doing so much out of the house stuff, I put another week hold on my projects. Still waiting on an electrician appointment for the spandrel finish, so we have lots of walks instead.

Black Hawk taking off.
Our tiny, crappy, regional airport shares strips with the local Air Guard. We saw this Black Hawk taking off. We get a mix of puddle-jumpers, mini-jets to C-130s and various helos. I can’t identify them worth crap, but Slick is great at it.

Black Hawk taking off.
The Capitol area is quiet on Sunday mornings. Great for a mocha and walk before the churchers have their traffic rushes.

I hope to get back to my wonderful workshop projects very soon. I don’t want to get too far into them since they’re all projects that will get much bigger before they’re finished and I need the space to trade out spandrel and basic remodeling supplies. Grrr. Need to sew!!

Apr 072015

Section 3 of this Experimentation Project is Seams and Closures.

Since melted plastic bags are still plastic, they must be handled differently than woven or knit fabric. For instance, if you sew plastic with close, tight stitches as if it were fabric, the plastic would become perforated and easily tear apart. On the other hand – you don’t have to sew plastic at all. You can fuse seams together instead, exactly the same way you fused the bags to start. So, this part is playing around with the differences in getting plastic together and using notions for closures.

First on my list, a favorite, a zip pouch. Since these are so cheap to buy nowadays, I realize I’ve not made a zip pouch for … years!? Woah. Nine years ago. Before I started with the more difficult material of plastic, I did a trial zip pouch to make sure I knew what I was doing.
Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
Yep, it is a successful zip pouch, even if it is a tiny one.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
Big enough to hold a bottle of Fray Check, a spool of heavy duty thread, a beading needle, scissors, and a small baggie of beads. Perfect to contain the tools I need for the Art-O-Mat audition pieces in progress.
Okay, I’ve proven I still know how to sew a basic, lined, zip pouch with a boxed bottom. Good. Now I can go forward sewing with plastic.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
This is a basic, zip pouch with plastic as the exterior material and a blue-violet cotton lining. To accommodate the plastic, I lengthened my stitch to about three instead of my standard two (*). The plastic tended to slip on the feed dogs if there was any resistance, but gentle guidance of the piece meant I had no problems

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
I think it turned out well. A little pencil case, basically. Now, on to a project with no fabric at all.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
A small coin purse, in the shape of a cat head. Yes, it is a cute, gimp kitty. There is no lining, this is bare plastic to plastic with stitching and the zipper is directly to the facing plastic – no turned seams on it.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
This plastic is stiff, quite unlike fabric. You could use a softer plastic piece to better suit whatever shape or pattern you’re making. The stiff plastic suits this shape nicely, though. The plastic malleability is worth considering when planning your end product.

Next up, no stitching at all – only using heat to fuse plastic seams.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
First up, I’d like a small pocket on the inside of this bag. So, a small scrap of plastic cut to a pocket shape. Place it where I want it on the inside of the panel and put parchment paper where I don’t want it to fuse, which is the pocket area. All the edges of the pocket are touching plastic to plastic and will fuse when ironed with parchment on top. It worked a charm.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
Now the basic bag shape. Right sides together, parchment where I don’t want fusing and IRON it! If you look closely you can see the parchment between the plastic. This picture doesn’t show it well, being white on white under florescent light like it is. The seam fusing worked great.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
Box the bottom edge. This was a bit tricky to do – I had to grab a scrap of 2×4 wood lying around, wrap it in parchment and put it inside the corner of the bag so I’d have something to nonstick iron against. Fiddly, but worked.

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
Hey, since the corners boxed easily, let me fuse them down to the bottom of the bag. Neat. Tidy!

Seaming and attaching closures to fused plastic.
Trim seams down and turn the whole thing inside out. I slapped a handle on it and now have a totally plastic fused bag with no stitching at all.

Yeah, it is a homely bag, true. But, this is about experimentation, not the end product.

Okay, this post is getting rather long, so I’ll leave the rest of this Experimentation Section for a second post. Upcoming yet: using fabric to bind the edges when stitching, a straight Velcro closure, a snap closure, a wrap closure and maybe even an embedded magnet.
Maybe. Frankly, I’m getting tired of working with plastic and I want to get back to making things with fabric. I’ll try to finish as much of this project list as I can before I start to really hate it and quit it altogether.

(*) How many mm each stitch measures, on most machines. 2.5 is common for quilting. You’d use 5 for basting, or 2 for something dense or when you need to tear off paper from it after stitching. Some older or specific brands will measure in stitches per inch (SPI), but I’ve not owned one of those ever.

Apr 062015

Friday, enjoying the sun.
Friday got the front door to herself and stretched out to soak it all in. She likes to be pet when she’s all sun relaxed, but the static electricity irritates her.

Friday, enjoying the sun.
Then she cleaned a bit and forgot to put her tongue back in her mouth.

Mar 302015

Slick and I have really been out, enjoying the amazing spring weather in Cheyenne.
This weekend, we went to two different parks and explored some far reaches of town, now that everything is thawed out.
On Saturday, after meeting friends for lunch at a “new” pizza place (turns out it isn’t new! It is the same, mediocre Mondello’s pizza – they just changed the name on their sign) and checking in at Gryphon’s Games, we walked around downtown, then headed over to Holliday Park. That’s the one with the Big Boy engine and the small lake with three thousand geese.
Holliday Park

It was too sunny for me, but the cool breeze helped out.
Holliday Park
We both got too much sun. Slick was smart and had a hat on, but his neck got burned. My sunblock is probably expired, but more likely I didn’t get enough of it on enough of me because I ended up a bit pink on all exposed skin that evening and red on a couple shirt edges.

On Sunday, our first stop was Target for fresh sunblock. After that, we explored. It was even more sunny this day.
Antelope in the shade
This antelope near the WYDOT agreed that it was too sunny.

We finished our day with a shade covered picnic in, then scampering around Lion’s Park – with full sunblock this time. Probably too much sunblock, but better safe after the previous day’s burn.

There was a challenge involved, and Slick climbed one of the park sign posts.
Slick, sitting atop one of the Lion's Park sign posts.
We went home completely exhausted again, but it was pleasant. Soon enough it will be too hot to romp around like this all day and I’ll be hiding in my cool basement workshop. So, better to exhaust ourselves now.

Mar 272015

Praxis: Soft Carving
My own freshly carved alphabet stamps.
Yes, I am completely aware that driving to the local craft store, spending $1.06 on a premade alphabet set and driving back home could have been completed ten times over instead of carving my own. But, I like my own. And now I am better at carving text.

This took longer than I expected. In part, the long time spent was due to the meditative nature of carving. It is easy for the clock to tick away while the gouge is moving. The other part is due to distractions that keep me out of the workshop. I think the soft carving praxis I’ve set before myself is going to take multiple months to complete.

Mar 252015

This second project section concerns decoration of the plain, fused plastic. There isn’t a lot of technique here, so I’ll run through a summary of things I tried.

This is what the samples started off like.
Fused plastic bag decoration.
Plain, fused plastic – made from the unprinted sections of Target bags.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
A variety of inks. At the top we have solvent inks, under that Sharpies, Faber Castell Gelatos (pigment in a kind of creamy medium) and at the bottom, Ranger alcohol inks. All of these looked good going on, but all these failed the “rub hard with a paper towel” test. The best of the failures was the solvent ink and alcohol ink. These could be used in a protected area, I think.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Next is more alcohol ink, but this time applied to raw plastic and THEN fused. I used Pinata alcohol inks this time, which were more concentrated, and they were brighter before fusing, darker and more vibrant after they were condensed with the plastic. They didn’t blend well, at all, so this is a good solution if you want only one color or highlights. This method mostly passed the “rub hard with a paper towel” test, but failed the fingernail scratch test.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Acrylic paint, Golden heavy body. It went on like a dream, but after drying you could rub and scratch it right back off. Cool if you want to make a scratch-off toy, but no good for permanence.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Colored plastic bags fused onto already fused plastic. Not bad, but limited to what colorful bags you have. You can tell I don’t have many. If you have lots, this is great. As now-fused plastic, they were impervious to rub or scratch tests. Good durability.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Colored plastic bags fused onto already fused plastic with a clear plastic layer on top. This is part Ziploc bag and part protective shipping bag – it was all the clear I had. Looks pretty good and I think the clear top layer would give you good collage options. Excellent durability. Shiny, too.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Since the clear layer looked so nice, I thought I’d try it again. I was out of proper plastic bags, so I grabbed my Saran wrap, having no idea what sort of plastic it was made from. I tossed down glitter and mica flakes, put the wrap on top and ironed. It was a crunchy disaster! The wrap shrunk around the bits and only fused in other places. Also, the plastic was either the wrong kind, or way too thin, because after fusing it rubbed right back off, leaving glittery plastic flotsam all over. If I get some better clear plastic, I might try it again, but this piece was a total failure of durability and the glitter looked like crap under plastic. The flakes were pretty though.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Spray paint can be a miracle, so I tried some. This is, in L to R order, blue paint that claims it sticks to plastic, purple paint that claims it sticks to plastic, red paint that has no plastic-friendly attributes on top of a plastic spray primer and the same purple plastic-friendly atop plastic spray primer. You can see the rub and scratch test results in this photo – all failed. Although, the red did the best and could possibly be of use.

Fused plastic bag decoration.
Finally, the odd ball. This is a black plastic garbage bag, fused to itself. I was tired of looking at the dull white bags. This looks good, like a pleather. Definitely useable for me.

Fast summary there. The next section is seams and closures, which will take some time to work up. Stay tuned!

Mar 212015

The other night, after a long and taxing day at work, I had only 40 minutes before bedtime. So, I pulled out some of my Betwixt Quilt blocks and gave them a gray exterior.
Betwixt Quilt blocks.
Those colors are an orangey red, aqua, and yellow centers – despite what my single fluorescent light tells you on your monitor. I think the gray looks fantastic. I will play around with some 2.75″ finished gray sashing between the blocks to space them out. I don’t like the way the points touch when they’re laid out like this.

These blocks are the most traditional and mundane thing I’ve ever thought of as a quilt, short of my first quilt ever – no pictures of that, way back then. I might have to embroider some dead birds in the centers to add some interest. Something!

Mar 202015

Here in Cheyenne, we’re having a sort of false spring. Yeah, it is 70F during the day, but next week we could have another blizzard. The cats are soaking up the sun, though.

Friday, soaking up the sunshine.
Friday was having a sunshine nap, so I took this shot.

The Captain, being nosy.
The Captain got nosy.

Friday, soaking up the sunshine.
The chit-chat with The Captain woke up Friday, but not enough for her to get up.

Mar 192015

Slick and I are fully enjoying the fine weather while it holds.
Royal Red, fox statue in Smalley or Mylar Park.
A visit to a park I’ve not been to before on the north side of town. Either Smalley or Mylar – the signage was jumbled. Neat fox statue.

Sloan's Lake in lion's Park.
Our lake behind the new Community House, Sloan’s Lake in Lion’s Park, is looking good.

Late Again, rabbit statue in Children's Village in Lion's Park.
Statue in the twilight.

Leaving Lion's Park at sunset.
After traipsing around all day, we left Lion’s Park on a bright sunset.

This must be what spring is like for other places.

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