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Flowers, Friendship and Eternity

Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling 'Hula Skirt'

Fifteen months ago, after attending a professional meeting in San Francisco, my eldest son (who lived in SF at the time) and I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. One of the plants I saw there was a very unique and absolutely gorgeous orchid, Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling also called ‘Hula Skirt’ Orchid.

After seeing it, I search the internet for a source to purchase one, but was unsuccessful. This particular orchid was “out of stock” everywhere. One of the growers did have the ability to indicate if you would like to be notified when the orchid was in stock again. At the time, I filled out the request. But, since then, I had accepted the fact that I would be unable to obtain a plant for myself and thus totally forgot about my search.

Well, on Monday, I received an email from Orchid Web notifying me that the orchid was in stock. Needless to say, I was surprised by the notification and immediately went to their site to order one. When placing the order, I discovered that the store is located in Plymouth, Minnesota, just a few miles from a friend’s dental office. This was fortunate because I could pick the plant up in person, avoid paying shipping, and avoid potential damage to the plant during transit.

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Since I would be driving to Plymouth, I sent my friend a message to see if she would like to get together and whether I could bring her lunch when I came. She responded with an even better offer. For a holiday celebration, she was treating her staff to a catered meal from “Gardens of Salonica”, a Greek restaurant and invited me to join them at her office. This was an offer I could not pass up.

I had a nice lunch comprised of good conversation with an amazing friend and some truly great Greek food!!

Being a member of my professional study club, I had also made her a table/wall quilt over the summer, which she received a few weeks ago.

While she is several years younger than me and will likely not retire for a while, she does have her “pre-retirement” quilt. This quilt was made utilizing the Greek Key quilt pattern. I picked this pattern for several reasons. The obvious one is that she is Greek. But, more importantly, the Greek Key is a symbol for infinity or eternity. This is very fitting because she is a constant friend who is always there for me.

My photo of the front of the quilt is a bit out of focus. But, the photo of the back does highlight the quilting that was done. In particular, quilting clearly shows the continuity of the Greek Keys in the piecing and in the quilting.

These eternal rings symbolic of the eternal love and support we have as friends. And, also a symbol of the love we celebrate this time of year at the birth of our Lord.

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English Paper Piecing – best enjoyed when making small projects.

We have five members in my professional study club, and I have previously written about two of the quilts I made for these friends. Continuing with quilts for my other study club friends (who actually don’t retire for a few more years), I needed to come up with two additional designs.

The parents of one of the other friends is originally from England. So, I decided that her wall quilt would be a good opportunity to try English Paper Piecing.

EPP involves placing a paper template onto the wrong side of the fabric, folding the fabric over the paper template, tacking the fabric to the template with water soluble glue and then hand stitching the various shapes together. It’s almost like a fabric form of Tetris!

The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece by [Katja Marek]

Five years ago, while attending the Minnesota Quilt Show, I purchased a book “The New Hexagon – 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece” by Katja Marek. The beautiful blocks really caught my eye and since it was 52 blocks, I originally thought I would just try to make one each week for a year. Well, unfortunately, other projects always came up and the book sat on my shelf unopened.

Then, last year, while browsing various quilting sites on-line, I saw a posting by the same author about a Millefiore Quilt Along. This quilt along was completed a few years earlier, and the pictures were stunning.

Because the technique involves hand stitching the pieces together, I thought that a wall quilt would be a good place to start to learn the technique. This project would not be too large and intimidating, and would be easily carried in a bag to work on when I was not at home.

Since this particular friend has beautiful flower gardens at her home, I started out by doing some simple flowers. Many of my quilting friends will already know that hexagon flowers are commonly made using paper piecing.

Unbeknownst to my friend, I was stitching the flower pieces together when we were working in the same office on several occasions. I’m not sure she realized after receiving the quilt that I had been sewing the pieces together right in front of her!!

Once I had a few hexagon flowers sewn, I needed to figure out the rest of the quilt design. To personalize the quilt for my friend, I played around with creating my own paper piecing designs. She is an avid biker, so with the help of her husband, I found a photo of the type of bike she rides. Using Electric Quilts, I created the paper piecing design to make a bike for the center of the quilt.

With the bike designed, I next needed to figure out what to do for the background of the quilt. After playing around with a couple ideas, I decided to make it look like the bike was on a trail. The flowers would then be stitched into groupings on either side of the bike.

Hand sewing the pieces of the bike together was time consuming. And, the background was going to be larger pieces with straight seams. Thus, I settled for machine sewing the rest of the background around the bike and the flowers. After machine quilting, I added some hand embroidered stems for the flowers and some ribbons.

I enjoyed learning this new technique, it is much more “portable” than machine quilting.

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After this project was completed, I thought about what paper piecing project I could try next. Since the millefiori quilt idea really stuck with me. I spent some time designing my own take on a Millefiori quilt. Early November, with two weeks off of work and I started out with great intention of creating a full sized quilt using English Paper Piecing.

However, I quickly realized that I am not a fan of hand piecing quilts. The amount of time needed to cut out the paper templates, glue them to the fabric and then hand sew the pieces together was overwhelming. And, I really wondered how durable my hand stitching would be. I certainly didn’t want to spend hours and hours sewing together a quilt that would easily pull apart at the seams.

Thus after finishing one section of the quilt (the center section in my hand drawing), I decided that the rest of this quilt would be sewn by machine.

There will be many difficult seam junctions to line up when sewing this design by machine. But, I am much happier with the way the rest of the quilt is coming together (more on that in a couple weeks). And, while I enjoyed learning English Paper Piecing, I am also happy that I learned that this is not something I will use for designing larger quilts.

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Small Shibori Quilt

I originally published this post on Sunday. However, for some reason the article disappeared from my blog. I know it was originally there, but someone asked about why I took it down.  When I went to check, it was gone. Luckily, I had saved a copy on my computer so I am able to repost today. 

My previous post, “The Ants (and other bugs) Come Marching In“, was also changed after I posted it.  For some reason the date of that post was changed by a couple of weeks.  So, instead of being a mid-July post, it is showing up in June.  I am not exactly sure what is happening. WordPress has changed their setup and that seems to be messing with my blog.  

For those who already read this article, I apologize for your having to receive it twice. For those who did not receive the original, please enjoy.

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Free time is hard to find now that I am back to work. However, while my office was closed down in the spring, I had lots of extra time available. One of the things I did during my time off was to work on some fabric dyeing ideas.One bright sunny day, I set up some sun dyeing on my deck. I had seen this technique on a different blog (Tamarack Shack) and wanted to try it.I wanted to try larger shapes that I could then quilt around. I cut some large flowers out of cardboard, placed them on the dyed fabric and set them out in the sun for a couple hours. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, the wind must have been a bit too strong at some point, because when I went to check on it, the cardboard had moved and distorted. The resulting dye blocked shapes were rather indistinct. I did like how the pink and purple splattered dye turned out. But the shapes were not as I had hoped. So, I’m planning to try this experiment again. Next time I will weight down my shapes with rocks or something heavy.Rather than just stashing the dyed fabric away to use whenever inspiration hit, the next day I decided to work on an idea that I had for a Shibori quilt.Last summer, I posted about a Shibori table quilt I had made. Using the same technique, I designed the stitching pattern for the shibori, the fabric painting, and the quilting. All of the running stitches were completed with polyester thread. This is a rather time consuming step that took about fifteen hours to complete.The pink flowers were then painted with dye mixed with print paste.The Green leaves were painted.The threads were gathered and tied tight.And the background was dyed blue.This project sat in my sewing room for a few weeks. Now, after a couple hours of long arm quilting and I am finally done with this project.

My Happy Place

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Today was in my “Happy Place” – my gardens.

After spending 38 hours over three days driving to Brooklyn NY and home again, I am happy to enjoy my day by flower shopping and then working in my gardens.

Truly a lovely day!

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Looking forward to watching my plants grow over the next couple months.

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Perfect Day

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Each day, I spend time watching webinars, reading research papers and thinking about the ideas on how to prepare for providing dental treatment when we are allowed to reopen, while still protecting my patients, my staff and myself.

But this time can also cause a lot of anxiety.  So, this weekend, I also spent some time outside working in my yard.  The weather was so much better than last Sunday.  Sunshine and fresh air is great for reducing anxiety. 

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On Tuesday, I had a load of mulch delivered.   Seventy five bags of cypress mulch to spread around the shrubs and trees.  And, ten bags of black mulch for the flower beds (I like how this mulch looks like dirt when spread around flowers).  So, this weekend, I starting spreading the mulch and making my yard ready for summer.  

 

I also pulled out my yard art and put them in the planting beds and planters.  It’s nice to have something lovely to lift my spirit.  

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A few weeks ago, I found a lovely flower wreath for my front door.  It really brightens up my entryway. 

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I even put out some new yard art that I made over the winter.  I now have a glass frog and a glass ladybug in my planting  beds. I’ll give some details on how to make these later this week.  

What really made today perfect, was reflecting on God’s creation around me.

  • The beauty of the flowers popping through the ground.
  • The delight of the bird’s singing in the trees.
  • The wildlife wondering through my life (well, maybe not the turkeys!). 

Somewhere, Nowhere.

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Am I going somewhere?  Am I going nowhere? Those are my daily thoughts.

In Minnesota, even our weather doesn’t know what it is supposed to be doing.

Is it winter?  Is it spring?

Saturday, we had sunshine and 60 degrees.  I spent several hours outside raking and blowing leaves and cleaning out my flower beds.  Our neighbors opened up their pool for the season.  My spring bulbs were starting to pop, and I even planted some pansies in my flower pots.

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Sunday (less than 24 hours later), we had snow falling.  By the time the snow had ended, we had over 7 inches of snow on the ground.

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Hopefully the sunshine and warm weather will come back soon!

 

Flower of the Month Suncatchers

Earlier this summer, I was sitting in my sunroom having my morning cup of coffee.  On a sunny day, this is a relaxing place to sit.  Looking around the room, I thought it would be nice to add some more color to the room, possibly suncatchers in the windows.  When I counted the windows, I realized that there are twelve of them and I thought that something related to each month of the year would be nice to try and settled on a flower for each month.

  • January – Carnation
  • February – Iris
  • March – Daffodil
  • April – Daisy
  • May – Lily of the Valley
  • June – Rose
  • July – Delphinium
  • August – Gladiolus
  • September – Aster
  • October – Marigold
  • November – Chrysanthemum
  • December – Poinsettia

 

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IMG_3177To make the suncatchers, I used COE 96 clear glass cut 2″ x 6″ as the base.  Only a single layer was used and the glass was fused at 1350 degrees, a temperature between tack fuse and contour fuse to give a slight softening to the edges of the glass.

For the stems, I used green noodles and stringer.  To create curves in these, the glass was heated in the flame of a soldering torch and allowed to bend before placing on a heat resistant tile to cool.

For the flowers, a variety of techniques were used.  Some flowers were just pieces of cut glass.  For the Lily of the Valley, frit balls were first created by heating to full fuse small pieces of glass.  For the delphinium, I used coarse frit. For the gladiolus, I used fine frit.  And for the marigold, pieces of tangerine glass were dipped in glass tack and then dipped in yellow fine frit to create the light colored tips.

Here are some of the pre-firing photos:

And, the photos hanging in my windows:

 

 

One Smile Gala

The Minnesota Dental Foundation held their annual One Smile Gala last Friday evening.  The gala was an evening raising funds for the Foundations outreach to the under served in the state.  It was a fun evening seeing colleagues and friends from around the state.

The vision of the Minnesota Dental Foundation is to eliminate unmet oral health needs in Minnesota. The Foundation raised over $1M in 2018.  These funds were used for the Minnesota Mission of Mercy, Give Kids a Smile, and several other programs.

Along with attending the gala, I also donated a few glass items to the silent auction.

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These garden flowers were well liked and raised a couple hundred dollars for the foundation.  Perhaps next year I will do some other glass garden art for the auction.

 

 

 

Nui Shibori Table Quilt

Fabric Dyeing has been a fun, creative way to make unique fabrics for my quilting.  This spring, I spent some time playing around with stitched shibori.  I wanted to figure out how to create drawings in the dye.  I also wanted to try hand painting before and after dyeing the fabric.

So, I set out to do a few experiments.

Experiment #1. Nui Shibori flower and over-dyeing painted fabric

  • Draw pattern on the fabric with a water soluble fabric marker
  • Stitch the drawn lines  with polyester thread
  • Dissolve Dye in 1 ml Urea Water, Add 2 T Print Paste, 14 ml Urea Water, 1/8 tsp Mixed Alkali, Mix well
  1.               Dark Pink = ¼ tsp Mixing Red
  2.               Light Pink = 1/16 tsp Mixing Red
  3.               Dark Blue = ¼ tsp Mixing Blue
  4.               Light Blue = 1/16 tsp Mixing Blue
  5.               Green = 1/8 tsp Evergreen
  • Paint dye on fabric areas within the shibori stitching

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  • Paint dye in sections for over-dyeing

Dye Paint

 

  • Allow to dry for 4 hours
  • Pull center threads and tie off

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  • Place in 1000 ml of 0.15 mg/ml Mixing Blue Dye (with Soda Ash)
  • Batch for 5 hours
  • Wash with Blue Dawn, Dry and Iron

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Dye Paint Overdye

Lessons Learned:

  • Shibori pattern turned out well
  • Dye painting turned out well, but the the color edges were too crisp – use less Print Paste next time
  • Over-dyeing does not change the underlying painted color very much

Experiment #2.  Whole Cloth Pattern:

  • Design quilting using QuiltCAD program

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  • Stitch section outlines on long arm with polyester thread for pattern placement when quilting
  • Draw shibori pattern by holding water soluble marker in the needle position and running pattern on trace

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  • Hand stitch shibori sections

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  • Dye Paint:
  1. Mixed Alkali: ½ tsp mixed with 8 ml Urea water
  2. Yellow: 1/8 tsp Golden Yellow in 10 ml Urea water; Combine 1 ml concentrate with 6 ml Print Paste, 3 ml Urea water and 0.6 ml Mixed Alkali
  3. Green: 1/8 tsp Evergreen in 15 ml Urea Water. Combine 7.5 ml concentrate with 15 ml PP and 1.5 ml MA
  4. Dark Pink: 1/8 tsp MR in 15 ml Urea water.  Combine 7.5 ml concentrate with 15 ml PP and 1.5 ml MA
  5. Light Pink: Combine 3 ml MR concentrate with 15 ml PP and 1.5 ml MA
  • Paint on Fabric sections of shibori stitching

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  • Allow to dry for 4 hours
  • Pull center threads and tie off
  • Stitch Floss “Ties” to center of fabric to help with lifting in/out of water
  • Make Dye Concentrate: Mixing Blue 10 gm in 100 ml Urea Water (100 mg/ml)
  • Place in 4000 ml Soda Ash solution in bucket
  • Add dye concentrate at 5 minute intervals (10 ml, 10 ml, 10 ml, 10ml, 40 ml) = 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 2.0 mg/ml to create an ombre effect
  • Lift fabric a small amount after each dye increment
  • Prop fabric up on support dripping into empty bucket, cover with plastic bag

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  • Batch for 4 hours

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  • Clip and remove all sewing lines
  • Wash with Blue Dawn, Dry and Iron

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  • Quilt as planned

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Lessons Learned:

  • Paint center dye before pulling tight the outer threads – easier than having to paint on a bubble
  • If you forget the first step – sealed air packs work well to fill the bubble for painting

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  • Fabric will trap air, creating a bubble, in the middle – easy to keep the center section out of the dye bath.
  • Use a color of thread different from the color of dye – makes it easier to remove the threads.
  • The fabric dye paint did not turn out as well as I had hoped.  So, after quilting, I repainted the fabric dye without Print Paste for a smoother look

 

I entered this quilt in the Minnesota State Fair on a whim to see what the judges comments would be regarding the shibori  and hand painting technique.  Boy was I surprised that it was awarding a blue ribbon!

 

Minnesota State Fair 2019

The weather has been absolutely beautiful the past couple of days, mid 70’s and sunny.  Perfect weather for the start of the Minnesota State Fair.  The first two days of the fair set attendance records for their respective days. After just three days, the attendance is over 500,000 – perhaps we may even surpass Texas this year!

On Friday, I went to the fair with a few friends.  It was a fun day.  Since my boys are grown, the past couple of years I have gone to the fair by myself, mainly to see the quilts and other crafts.  Of course, even with friends, the first place I went was to see the quilts.

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This year, I entered my “Fractured Tree” quilt hoping that it might do well at the fair.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed to learn that the quilt did not ribbon this year.   Fortunately, it was displayed in a spot where it was easy to see.

Interestingly, this was the only quilt this year that I originally planned to enter in the fair even before making it.  The other quilts I made were not made with the fair in mind.

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After making my son’s “Moonscape” quilt, I realized it was such a unique quilt that I thought I would enter it in the fair and see how well it might do.  I did receive a ribbon and look forward to reading the comments after the fair is over.

 

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When I was finalizing the registration of these two quilts for the fair, I decided to include two other quilts. 

One of these was a shibori and hand painted wall quilt.  I will describe the technique used for this quilt in another blog. I was pleasantly pleased to see that this quilt received a blue ribbon! 

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The other quilt was one that I was making for an acquaintance and finished sewing the binding on the day before I needed to drop it off at the fair. This quilt “Blended Cultures” was made to commemorate the birth of his first grandson.   I was really surprised to learn that this quilt also received a blue ribbon.  I am really glad I was able to complete it in time to enter it in the fair!

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Sweepstakes Winner made by Mary Alsop. She has tremendous skill and is an award winner ever year.  In fact, she was the sweepstakes winner last year as well.

I’d love to meet her some day.

Some other quilts that caught my eye:

 

After a day of exploring the fair, I think my favorite spot was the Horticulture Building.  The flowers there were stunning!