Thursday, May 29, 2014

My First Crazy Quilt Piece

     Yesterday, I finished my first crazy quilted piece which features photos of my dad's mother. I had recently discovered the top two photos in an envelope at the bottom of a wooden chest. I don't recall having ever seen them before. The middle photo was a daguerrotype. Though it was somewhat faded, I was able to work with the image and then print them on fabric. I used two different brands of photo transfer sheets, but unfortunately, I didn't keep track of which one I preferred. I'll be sure to do that next time I print photos onto fabric. 

My grandmother, the daughter of a Civil War veteran, was born in 1872.  She and my grandfather had four daughter and my dad. All of them are now gone, but I know my aunts would have loved seeing  this piece since they were all very skilled in the needle arts. I have beautiful embroided tablecloths and napkins, crochet doilies and antimacassars*, etc. that they made. Notice the multi-colored pink, cream, and aqua piece of tatting on the right side of the block. It was done by one of my aunts many, many years ago. The piece was just long enough to allow me to incorporate a small section in each of the three blocks. I purposely chose the similarly colored piece of batik to blend with this tatting.

I enjoyed working on my first crazy quilt piece and already have plans for two more pieces.

     *** In case you were wondering, an "antimacassar" was a piece of cloth or crochet which was placed on furniture to protect the furniture from hair oils. "Macassar" was a type of oil used in years past by men to flatten down and make their hair shiny. 

   *** Some of the trims were purchased, but the embroidery stitches and beading were all done by hand.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Purple Iris after the Rain

     I managed to finish planting the front of my smaller garden this afternoon before the rain came. Once it stopped, I grabbed my camera and headed out to try to capture raindrops on the blossoms. At first I shot with my macro lens, and the results were so-so. They would have been better had I grabbed my tripod. Next I slipped on my new long zoom and handholding it, took this shot. As I have mentioned in a previous post, this new lens is a bit heavy, but I'm thrilled with the images I have taken with it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blooming In My Garden This Week 5/21/14

     After our long, snowy, cold winter, there is much work to be done in my gardens. Nevertheless, there are a few spots of color.

Normally, I make my own potted arrangements, but when I spotted this planter at Lowe's, I could resist it . . . perhaps it was the gorgeous color or maybe the little birds on the frame. In any case, it now has a home on my deck.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rose in Bloom

     Yesterday, I began teaching a class at Heart in Hands, a wonderful quilt shop in South Weymouth, MA. The class will show students how to turn one of their photos into an art quilt. Yesterday's two hour introductory session covered selecting a photo, making an enlargement, selecting fabric, and gathering the materials and tools needed for our next class when we will begin working on the pieces. It was great fun, and everyone seemed eager to get started . The range of photos that students brought with them was diverse, but all should prove to be wonderful subjects. 
     I finished the rose quilt above Friday night. It measures 23 inches wide. The rich, varied batiks are even more vibrant in real life. Here's a close up of the center. The fused, machine appliqu├ęd pieces are quilted in place using narrow zigzag stitches with color-coordinated thread.

     Below is a photo of the Queen Elizabeth rose that I used as my subject.

      This beautiful pink rose has been blooming faithfully in my garden for most of my life. When I was child, my Aunt Alice showed me how to taking a cutting from a rose to propagate a new one. Basically it involved taking a cutting about eight inches long where the piece had seven leaves. Next, you would dig a hole and add rich composted soil. Then the end was dipped in rooting powder  and planted. After watering well, a large glass jar was placed over the cutting and a ring of dirt at the bottom sealed it in place. After a year or so, you would have a new rose. Simply amazing!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Home Tweet Home

     What happened to Spring? Today the temperature has stayed in the very chilly, low 50s.  Last Tuesday when I took this photo, it was warm and absolutely beautiful. A friend had asked if I wanted to drive down to Plymouth for lunch. Though I had a number of items on my "to do" list, how could I resist? This photo was taken outside the Lobster Hut, a favorite casual dining spot.
     After lunch we headed over to Jenny Pond. Just as we arrived, the sky became overcast, but I was able to test out my new lens.

If you'd like, click on each image to see a larger view. The detail in the mallards' featers is incredible. Though the lens is a bit heavy, I am thrilled with its sharpness.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

      I have completed the first block of my very first crazy quilt project. It will eventually be part of a three block wallhanging featuring photos of my dad's mother. The background was machine pieced, but the stitching was done by hand. Don't look too closely as I'm new at this. :-)

     My grandparents had had this formal portrait taken at the Purdy Studio in Boston. The original black and white oval matted print is in as pristine condition as the day it was taken. My grandmother is holding my Aunt Mildred who was born in 1903. The details in this photo fabric transfer don't really show it, but the baby is wearing a beautiful little dress and adorable, high top button shoes. This is the only formal Smith family portrait that I have ever seen. My grandparents would eventually have three more daughters and my dad. 
     I intend to make another crazy quilt piece featuring photos taken by my mom's mother around the turn of the century.  I thought it would be fitting to show you this completed block today on Mother's Day and to also post two photos of my own sweet mom. 

My mom grew up in Dorchester, and she remembered that a man would periodically come around so children could have their pictures taken on this pony. I think she recalled that the photo cost twenty-five cents.

I made a photo album for my mom's 90th birthday party, and these were two of the photos that were included in it.  Yes, that's me in her arms. My mother loved stylish clothes, and she spoke of sometimes  spending a good part of her weekly salary before she was married on shoes or new outfits. I remember her saying that this photo was taken one Sunday morning on the way to church, and that the suit had velvet trim on the jacket. Just look at those classy, high heel shoes! 
     I was blessed with a wonderful mom. Her words still echo and shape who I am today. "Anything worth doing is worth doing well," "God never gives you more than you can handle," and the following:
There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly behooves any of us,
To talk about the rest of us.
Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Use Yah Blinkah

     Today I drove up to New Hampshire to drop off a quilt top to be quilted. I knew it probably wouldn't be smart to go on a Friday, but my schedule was clear so off I went with my friend Laurel. After dropping off the quilt at Dancing Cranes in Contoocook, we stopped at Quilted Threads, a lovely quilt shop in nearby Henneker. Believe it or not, all I bought was a bit of embroidery floss for my crazy quilting. After a stop for lunch, we headed home. It was a little after 2:00, so I hoped we would be able to sail through Boston traffic. Boy, was I ever wrong. We were cruising along until we hit the city and then the traffic was barely crawling. On tonight's news broadcast they indicated that this was one of the worst traffic days of the year. Who knew? Why??? Going through the tunnel was truly awful. How do people do this day after day???
     We were amused by a new message rolling on the overhead electronic billboards. "Changing Lanes? - Use Yah Blinkah." Translation for those who not from the Boston area = When changing lanes, don't forget to use your turn signal, in short  = "Use Your Blinker" or in our Boston accents - "yah blinkah." It was the only amusing moment during a very, very, very impossibly slow ride home.
      [Safety note: as you can see by the brake lights, we really weren't moving when I snapped this photo.]

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crazy Quilt Possibilities

    Look at these rich, beautiful colors. Mary Ann, a member of the Herring Run Quilt Guild to which I also belong, read on my blog that I have developed an interest in crazy quilting, and she gifted me with a bag of silk scraps and other wonderful fabrics. 

Aren't they delicious!!!  They will be perfect for a project that I have in mind. I want to make a traditional crazy quilt wallhanging and incorporate some vintage cigarette silks. Cigarette silks used to be given away inside packages of cigarettes in the early 1900s. People would collect the various subjects such as flowers, flags, historical figures and use them in their crazy quilting. I have a few silks from Old Mill Cigarettes featuring popular actresses of the period.

In a day or two I will post a photo of the crazy quilt piece upon which I am currently working. The first block is nearly finished.

     This past weekend was a special one in our family as there were four First Communions. My cousin Kristin's little girl received First Holy Communion on Saturday. I was unable to go as Emma was not feeling well. Two weeks ago at her yearly check up, the vet had pointed out that there was a significant build up of tartar on her back teeth, so Emma's teeth were cleaned last Monday, and during the next few days she experienced increasing gastric problems. I took her back to the animal hospital early Friday morning as she had been sick during the night and was very lethargic. They gave her fluids after determining that she had become dehydrated. I took her home and watched her closely. Fortunately, after the fluids and with some additional medicine, Emma improved so I was able to attend the First Communion Mass for my cousin Brian's triplets on Sunday. 
     I am happy to report that Emma is now back to her excited, happy, squirrel-chasing, active self. Thank goodness!