The Minnesota Great Get-Together

img_2410.jpgThe Minnesota State Fair is currently taking place.  If you are not from MN, you may not realize how big our state fair is.  While MN only ranks 12th in size and 21st in population, it ranks second in state fair attendance, with over 2 million people attending each year.  This is just behind Texas at 2.25 million visitors.  However, Texas is second in land mass, second in population, and their state fair runs for 24 days (twice the length of the MN fair).  Thus, I would say that the Minnesota State Fair outranks even Texas.

The fair is so popular that, even on a rainy morning like today, there were lots of people in attendance.  What do people like to do at the fair?  When I asked some of my friends, they replied: eat the food, attend a concert, eat the food, see the animals, eat the food….

I think you get the picture – there is lots of food to eat if that is what you are interested in.

For me, the State Fair is a place to go to see the craftsmanship and creativity in the Arts and Crafts Building. Today was no exception.  After getting very wet walking from the transit center to the A&C building, I spent a couple hours walking around taking pictures.

Here are my quilts:

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Me (with my wet hair) in front of “Burst Doll Quilt”, which received a first place in the child quilt category.
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“Burst” bed quilt received a second place in the pieced bed quilt category.
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My reversible tree quilt “Childhood Memories” received a second place in the mixed techniques category.  Unfortunately, you can only see one side of the quilt and none of the shadow painting.  
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“Window on My World” placed fourth in the wall quilt category.  I re-entered it this year because I was surprised that it did not place last year and knew that there was a different judge this year. 

Some of the other quilting highlights:

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Sweepstakes winner – Mary Alsop

 

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Best Hand Applique – Terri White
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Best Machine Quilting – Marilla Schmitt
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Knit & Bolt Award – Susan Nevling

 

Some other crafts that caught my eye:

 

“Childhood Memories” – finished quilt

 

When designing a quilt, I like to plan the quilting at the same time as the piecing.  This allows me to think about adding something unique to each quilt.  My recent project for the two sided tree quilt was no exception.

The quilting of the tree, leaves and background would be fairly straightforward.  Wanting to add something special to the quilt, I thought about what I could add to the tree.  One idea was to place flowers or shrubs at the base of the tree.  Another was to add some animals.

My final idea, and the one I actually used, came while reviewing some photos from my childhood.  These photos brought back memories of things growing up.  I decided to add theses memories to the quilt.

I needed to invoke the idea of a memory without overwhelming the quilt.  To do that, I planned to used only thread to make the images appear very faint.  After stitching, I realized  that the images were there but extremely hard to see.  Having recently purchase some textile medium (InFusion Textile Medium) that was very lightweight (did not stiffen the fabric) and shiny, I decided to use this to enhance the visual effect of the memories.

I am really happy how they turned out.  If you look closely at the images, you will see a boy leaning against the tree reading a book, a girl on a tree swing, and their faithful dog laying on the ground near them.

Painting

 

Here are the full images of the quilt front and back:

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Hand applique and embroidery

How do you applique a two sided quilt?

You think, think, plan, think some more, plan again and then finally jump in and do it.  That kinda describes the process I went through when contemplating the idea of embroidering an identical tree on both sides of a quilt.

Idea #1

  •  adhere light weight fabric adhesive to the back of two pieces of fabric for the tree trunks
  • draw the tree trunk onto the fabric and cut out two identical trees
  • adhere the tree to one side of the quilt and baste in place
  • adhere the tree on other side and then machine embroidery through all layers of the quilt and tree
  • machine quilt the details onto the tree
  • Concern – machine quilting will cause the quilt to be “flattened” and lining up the edges of the tree on each both sides of the quilt would be difficult

Idea #2

  • baste stitch the outline of the tree onto the quilt
  • cut out fabric to match the tree
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the tree onto each side of the quilt
  • machine quilt  the details onto the tree
  • Concern – it might be difficult to control the amount of fabric involved while doing hand embroidery

Idea #3

  • pin large pieces of the tree fabric to both sides of the quilt
  • machine quilt the tree details onto the tree
  • trim the fabric approximately 5/8″ – 3/4″ away from quilting details
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the fabric to the quilt
  • This was ultimately the idea I decided to use for the trees, sun and moon

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Daytime detail:

I decided to hand applique leaves onto the daytime side of the quilt.  To do this, I pinned pieces of green fabric onto the quilted tree.  Then I machine quilted the outline and veins of a leaf onto each piece of fabric.  After cutting around each stitched leaf, I used needle turn embroidery to secure the edges of the fabric.

Nighttime detail:

I did not want to use the same technique on the nighttime side of the quilt. So, after completing the daytime side, I used the quilting lines as a guide to paint faint green fabric dye onto the leaves and then hand embroidered outlines around the leaves.

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Unfortunately while quilting the leaves onto the daytime side, my long arm machine handles fell off the machine while I was working on a leaf.  When this happened, the needle broke and the broken needle tore the fabric through all layers of the quilt.  This picture shows that even on the backside of the quilt, the broken needle tore the fabric. I was really bummed!

To fix the tear, I could applique a leaf onto the daytime side.  But, how do I fix the tear on the nighttime side.  I could applique leaves on this side as well.  However, that was more applique then I really wanted to do.  And, I had really wanted the two sides of the quilt to use different techniques.  This was really frustrating.

Ultimately, I decided to add a bit more detail to the quilt.  By appliqueing an owl on the nighttime side and a cardinal to the daytime side, I was able to repair the quilt and no one can even tell that the quilt was torn.

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A good repair and some nice details for the quilt! I have added more details to the quilt that were really fun to do.  I will post about those soon.

A two sided quilt – sounds easy, right?

You have probably seen adult coloring books in stores over the past few years.  Meant as a way to unwind from daily stress, these books can take an adult back to their childhood days of coloring.

Since my crafts are my way to relax at the end of a day, I have not purchased any of these coloring books.  I have however, looked at the books in stores.  The pictures are complex and do provide great inspiration for quilting patterns and applique designs.

Last summer, I paged through one of these coloring books with trees.  Each design featured a tree with unique patterns.  Some of the designs had animals in the trees – owls, birds and even cats. One day I may make one of these, perhaps a tree with many different owls appliqued on the branches.

Directly next to the display of coloring books, was a different display featuring paper craft ideas. One idea showed strips of wrapping paper cut and glued horizontally in the background, and featured cutouts of black or white paper animals, flowers or trees as the main object.  Sorry, but I did not think to take a picture of the display. But, it was a really nice idea.

This idea stuck with me, and besides thinking about making some greeting cards with the idea, I realized that a quilt could be made with a similar design.  At the time I first saw the display, my paper craft supplies were buried in the back of my craft storage closet, so the cards would need to wait.  But, I did have lots of fabric that I could utilize for a quilt.

So, I set out to work on my new design.  Many of my batik scraps were blue and green, which would work well for the background of a tree.

Sorting through the fabrics, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a the colors to depict a tree during the daytime, the nighttime, or an unsorted scrappy look.  After playing around with a graphic program, I ruled out the scrappy look because it was too chaotic for my liking.  But, I simply just couldn’t decide which of the other two I preferred.  So, I thought I would try something new and make a two sided quilt – one side with bright daytime colors, the other side with darker nighttime colors.  After cutting 2 1/2″ strips, the fabrics were sewn together with some shorter pieces inserted periodically to add some variation to the background.

Since I had decided to try to make the applique exactly reversible, the quilting the front and back together would need to be done next.  When loading the pieced backgrounds onto my long arm machine, I realized that making a completely reversible quilt was going to be rather difficult.

This year, in particular, my ideas for quilts have been easy in the planning stages, but more challenging when actually sewing.  This quilt was no exception.  On paper, it looked straightforward – sew the strips, load it on my quilting frame and quilt away.  Right!  Actually, wrong.  Lining up so many seams on the front and the back of the quilt prior to machine quilting was definitely not easy.  I discovered that even though my piecing was exact, the number and location of the seams impacted the stretch and movement of the two pieces of fabric.  I ended up having to pin along each seam of the layers to try to get my quilting to look right on both the front and the back of the quilt. IMG_1042

Backgrounds

Once the backgrounds was quilted, I decided to get my least favorite part of any quilt (the binding) done before I  would start work on the appliqued tree.  More on that in my next posting.

Since moving into my newer sewing room, my paper craft supplies are now accessible, so cards can once again be made.  That project will be included in a future post as well.

Glass Votive Candle Holders

Now that Christmas and a few January birthday gifts have been given, I can post some recent projects.  Today, I am showing some votive candles that I made for two in my extended family.

In November, I completed a four panel fused glass project for my sister-in-law.  After making this four seasons picture, I decided to make a matching votive candle that had the four seasons depicted on sides of the glass.

First, I fused together two pieces of clear glass to form the main part of the votive. Next, was to add the trees.  Since the votive candle was small, the trees would need to be made from something other than traditional fused glass – that glass would be too thick.

Option 1. Bend brown stringer to look like a tree.  I tried this but never could get two trees to look alike.

Option 2. Draw trees with Glassline paint  I thought about it and wanted to try something that would look better than hand drawn.

Option 3.  Cut trees out of fusible transfer paper.

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This is the option I decided to go with. A few years ago, I had used transfer paper to make a sign for another sister-in-law’s kitchen.  While printed black, the iron oxide in the toner fuses to the glass with a nice sepia tone.  This brown color should work nicely for trees.

Using an older model black laser printer (the toner cartridge needs to have a high iron content), I printed a black square on the Photo Transfer Paper.

Then, I used a paper punch in the shape of a tree to make four tree shaped transfers.  Each punched image was then transferred to the four corners of the glass and allowed to dry.

Using medium and fine frit in various colors, the ground and leaves were added to the trees.

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Around the same time, I decided to make a votive to match the “Cook’s Kitchen” sign.  For this I made grape vines using the tree punch but cutting off some of the branches and turning the direction of the tree.  Green confetti glass was used for the leaves and medium weight purple frit was used for the grapes.

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The glass was then contour fused and slumped over a metal mold.

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Pretty gifts to give to a couple special ladies.

Christmas 2017

Today we celebrate the birth of our King, Jesus. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for who he is, all he has done and his great love for us. Yes, Christmas is a special time of year here at the Erickson house.  Merry Christmas to everyone!

A Christmas Craft – Fused Glass Ornaments

 

A Christmas Recipe – Cranberry Honey ButterIMG_2579

1 cup salted butter, softened
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs orange peel

Beat together all ingredients and divide into jars.  Store refrigerated. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Fused Glass Seasons

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I recently completed my first “commissioned” piece of fused glass art.

After visiting a local art fair, my sister-in-law contacted me to see if I would be able to make something similar to a piece of art she had seen there.  The photo she showed me looked like a fun project to do – Four Seasons of Trees set in a frame that resembled a window.  The item that was available at the art fair had a black frame, but she wanted something more “organic” or natural looking.  So, we found an unstained framed made out of reclaimed wood on-line and ordered it.  After it arrived, it was time to start making the fused glass panels.

After measuring each opening, I cut two matching pieces of clear glass for each pane 5.75″ square.  These were then fused together with a Full Fuse schedule (maximum temperature 1465, 20 minute hold) to create the solid background for each pane.  No need to show a picture of this as it was just clear glass. Because of the size of my kiln and the size of the panes, each one needed to be fused separately – so four firings needed for this step.

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Next, I cut brown glass to resemble the tree trunks.  Generally a tree would be leafless in the winter, and in the spring the tree would be less full than later in the year.  So, I added some strips of glass to make branches for the trees.  These were then Contour Fused (maximum temperature 1375, 10 minute hold) to pull the pieces together and round the edges of the glass. Because glass wants to settle at a 1/4″ thickness, I could not Full Fuse these pieces.  If I had, the shape of the trees would have been melted away into a amorphous log of unusable glass. After making the tree trunks, I fused red opaque medium frit to create small frit balls that would resemble apples for the summer panel.  I chose full fuse for this step because I wanted the apples to be well rounded.  If I had been thinking ahead, I would have done these at the same time as I did the clear glass to save me one fusing cycle.  But, that wasn’t the case – so these two steps were two more fusing cycles.

Finally I was at the fun part – creating the pane for each season.

Winter:  I used white opaque glass for the snow – fine frit and medium frit, as well as some clear dichroic glass to add sparkle to the falling snow. The pane was then fired at a Light Fuse schedule (maximum temperature 1350, no hold time).  I chose this schedule so that I did not loose too much of the detail of the glass frit pieces.

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Winter Pane – before fusing and after fusing.

Spring:  For this I used opaque green fine frit for the base layer.  On top of that I sprinkled Clover Blend medium frit.  To create the apple blossoms, I used Cherry Blossom medium frit.  This pane was then fired using the Light Fuse schedule.

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Spring Pane – before and after fusing.

Summer: I used a mixture of translucent and opaque green fine frit with opaque green medium frit sprinkled over top. The “apple” frit balls were then placed in the tree and the pane was Light Fused.

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Summer Pane – after fusing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn:  I used a mixture of translucent and opaque tangerine fine frit for the base of the tree.  The same green mixture that I used for the summer tree was used for the ground.  On top of this I sprinkled opaque red, orange and sunflower yellow medium frit.  I allowed some of the frit to land between the tree and the ground so that it looked like the leaves were falling.  This pane was then Light Fused following the same schedule as before.

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Autumn Pane – after fusing. 

After a total of ten firings, the panes were ready to be attached to the wooden frame using clear E6000 adhesive.

This project turned out very nice.  It reminds me of a project that I completed about two years, a Four Seasons Tree. This project required a total of 16 firings (four for each panel).

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