Wednesday, February 29, 2012

spring break, deux

with the help of Jinny Beyer's "The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns", I did some more work on the sampler. Had I done a little more traveling across the United States, I would lack for no shortage of blocks with state names, roads, and other assorted locations and things of historical importance. Alas that my travels across the States have been limited. Alas that there are few blocks having to do with anywhere international

because none of my layouts would be complete with out Lydia 's approval

I ended up doing a lot of small piece work with no particular pattern to help make up deficits in size between the pieced sections. The bobbin is for scale purposes. Jinny Beyer was incredibly helpful in providing some piecing ideas - the coral and pink squares in the right photograph were taken from a larger block. 

Something I hadn't thought about was the semaphore alphabet - flags used, for maritime purposes, to send messages. Each flag represents a letter of the alphabet, but alone has some other attached meaning. In Erie, Pa, on the Bayfront, is the Erie Convention Center. It's a lovely facility, with a hotel build next-door, and they are connected by a skywalk. The sign at the front of the property has ERIE spelled in semaphore flags. 

Sew... if they can do it on the Bayfront, why can't I do it in a quilt and pop my signature in there? Unfortunately, spring break was far too short, and I didn't actually finish this project. I was close, but I had neglected to iron the patchwork as I went, which was an incredible error. It meant that I spent the last night of my stay at home ripping out seams to keep the piece from buckling in places. But, there's always the next visit home. Maybe by then I'll have a sashing picked out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

spring break

I'm visiting with my parents for a few days over spring break, and I decided to try to wade some of the left-behind fabric. Probably not a good idea, but then, neither was stumbling upon

In the flotsam and jetsam of fabric, I found a B&N bag with patches in it from a long abandoned sampler project. After a few hours of frogging seams, I remember why.

this is nothing that goes together! most of these aren't even the same size! oh, to be young and foolish again...

so I spent the afternoon trying to make sense of it. I had decided initially to sash things to make them fit with other blocks. In some cases, this was fine, in others, it was a very disruptive attempt at order our of chaos.

I did a web search of "sampler quilts" and was slightly dissapointed to not find anything like this. What I noticed, and what was less surprising was that most of the samplers followed some sort of colorway, which this does not. There were a few interesting mod sampler quilts. Again, they had an organized and preempted colorway.

I honestly can't remember why I made this design choice. This project exploded from a long past issue of Quilt Sampler Magazine. The article off of which the sample project was based had made two projects for her sons, each one telling his life's story up until that point. I probably had some romantic notion about a story in blocks, which is why I forged ahead as a novice with out a second thought to picking a colorway, as the article's quilter had. To my delight, there is enough commonality between certain blocks that the color families are similar.
To my dismay, the blocks are of such uneven sizes that I will probably have to make a few more before this is all over. Looking at some of the mod quilts, I thought it possible to piece together the blocks into chunks, then sash the sample chunks together with a solid background, letting the chunks float as mini quilts in one larger piece.

Perhaps I'll just wait to see how far this last ditch stitching effort gets me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

procrastination at it's finest

Let's add blogging to the list, since sewing something like this is already on there. I'm avoiding a project for class, due on Monday. No idea how to even start this, so the materials sit in the back seat of the car while I try [as well as avoid] brainstorming ideas. What doesn't help is a remarkable bitterness in seeing other people following their bliss and actually making a go at it, whereas I tried and failed. I realize I'm making generalizations about people's lives on the five second sound byte I hear, because everyone lies, even if it's only a little bit, about their lives. Call it an omission of truth if you want. People envy me the talent I display knitting socks. I envy them their stable jobs. Or relationships. Their cars that aren't falling apart. Sometimes envy is too gentle a word.

And I'm a little upset with this professor, who despite the pleas of the entire class to extend the due date, insisted we capable people would be able to turn this project over the the space of a week. I'm a little embittered about that one as well.

And I'm turning 27 on Tuesday. Yeah. I know. I'm a baby.

Monday, February 6, 2012

everybody raise a glass

We placed an order with a supplier we haven't used in over a year, and we got these really cute mugs. They were fairly inexpensive, and nicer than the ones of comparable price, and since we still had a truck load at the time, I bought up a bunch.   
These were all taken before the mug was fired. There are five owls total, and I used a technique on the tree and sky called s'graffito, where several layers of a base coat are applied and incised with a design, over which a second color is applied, then wiped off down to the first color. It's a little more apparent post-firing because right now the blues look almost the same. 

 This is probably the most striking s'graffito example on the whole piece, but you can tell looking at the tree that cross-hatching was done for texture. I'm not sure if I'm going to give this one away yet or not. I still have two more blank mugs. I may make another one and decide then.

ceramics, limited

And it's February already. Wow. Blog management has not been high on my list of things to do.I've been trying to get ahead with Christmas presents... it's never too early to find presents for people and squirrel them away. So I've been working on some mugs for people. The other gift related item I've been painting are switchplate and outlet covers. Here are a few covers I did at work. I was experimenting with a specialty glaze for the switch and outlet combo. Be forewarned, I use less-than-laymen's terminology in the following explanations.

The plate on the left is pre-fire, the one on the bottom is post firing. Very, very different! The glazes we use for the majority of pieces are called under-glaze; they're essentially pigmented clay. An under-glaze doesn't run, and the color in the bottle is at least semi-representative of what it will look like when completed. Pink looks pink, purple looks purple and so forth. The intensity of the color is what changes after being fired, but for the most part, you can get an idea of what it will probably look like when done. 

Obviously, the finished piece here doesn't exactly look like the one at the beginning of the process. For starters, it looks like terracotta with bits of stuff stuck in it. Secondly, the polar bears do not look the same from start to finish. They're a little fuzzy. The snow on the bottom of the piece is a white under-glaze with a little grey added (all bisque unpainted fires white), and I wanted there to be some definition between the snow and the bears without the bears being painted yellow. Also, the color is drastically different, and there appear to be little explosions of color in the finished piece. I used for the top part of this plate a true glaze, which is effectively pulverized glass. Clay doesn't run when fired; Glass runs a marathon. I knew from the example tiles that the bits of stuff would result in a puddle of something unusual; what I didn't know was exactly how it would turn out. I think that's the beauty of a pottery or crystalline glaze; it's absolute unpredictability and resulting uniqueness. I chose this crystalline glaze because I wanted to achieve something like the night sky without having to paint stars. It reminds me a little more of falling snow, and for the bears, I feel that is a better setting. In any case, I hope the recipient likes it.

Here is another picture of a pre-fire. This used exclusively under-glazes. It is a gift for some friends, who will appreciate my sentimentality when they see themselves on top of the bluff. It was shamelessly rendered from the image on the right, and I'm a little nervous about how it will come out of the kiln. Did I get the ocean right? Are the trees the right color? Will you be able to tell that I put a couple on the mountain instead of a lone hiker? Will there be any differentiation in the land and islands on the horizon, or is the color not mixed with enough of another tone? Did I miss a spot?! Only 24 hours will tell. That's how long it takes for a kiln to properly cycle.