December 31, 2014

library love: Quilt Me!

I have been striking gold at the library lately. First Design Bloggers at Home (read my review here) and now Quilt Me!: Using Inspirational Fabrics to Create Over 20 Beautiful Quilts by Jane Brocket.

Just after I settled my mind on the rule that quilts should be made out of cotton and that is that Jane liberates me and shows me how she's made quilts out of a wide range of unexpected fabrics and even vintage treasures like embroidered tablecloths and needlepoint pieces. She feels it is better to cut into those items (oh horror!) and give them new life rather than have them rot away forgotten in a cupboard. Good point!

She goes quite in depth explaining how different fabrics behave and what to be aware of if you are quilting with, say, velvet. In a lovely conversational tone she chats about her design decisions, her sewing and quilting methods and how each quilt came to be. Other than the step-be-step directions, I read this thing cover to cover. I found it to be very inspiring and I have fresh eyes and motivation for investigating the stacks of antique linens you always see in shops.

Full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link.

December 29, 2014

Quilt is on the machine!

I feel like I am wrestling a bear folding it, rolling it, hugging it, and helping it move forward through the machine but I am very happy to be at this stage of the process.

The blog tells no lies. I started thinking about this quilt in February. Pretty good progress compared to the last one though. We'll see when the final finish turns out to be! Less than a year?

In case you were wondering, fabric draped over chair is for this quilt top (a gift way back in 2012). And read about that sweet piece of poppy printed fabric here. And credit for the lovely vintage aprons goes to my dear great-grandmother, a sewing ancestor.

December 22, 2014

a bounty of burp cloths!

So I will say even though I haven't been progressing in the quilt world as fast I would like, I have managed to put together two different gifts of flannel burp cloths for lovely ladies I go to church with, each having their first babies this winter.

The ones above are jungle animal themed to match the nursery. I had fun pairing the animal prints (zebra! giraffe!) with fabric featuring the critters themselves. Most of them look soft and cuddly as you would expect. But I couldn't help myself and had to throw in some Hipster Zebras!

The nursery of this recipient is neutrally decorated in gray and white so I had my fun with the monster fabric. I thought it was quite funny. I've got the burp cloths neatly arranged in our baby bathtub since little dude has outgrown it. I quite love it when I come up with some useful packaging that becomes part of the gift itself.

estate sale enchantment

Last week I happened to notice an ad in the newspaper for an estate sale right in my neighborhood. Oh, how I dearly love an estate sale! Such a treasure hunt. Since the drive wasn't far I decided to go for it despite the fact I would have a 3-year-old and a baby in tow.

Laugh at my ambition if you will, but my 3-year-old actually has some estate sale experience and knows well my rule "no touching, only look with your eyes." The poor babe just got hauled around in his carrier! Luckily, it was a small house and I managed to be a quick shopper.

So the pieces above are either dresser scarves or kitchen towels. That seems to be the size of them. I kind of think they are too pretty to be towels. Anyway, they each have their own design but they do all feature the color red. Can we say quilt inspiration?!

This one was actually a small curtain. I love the fabric design. The best thing about these vintage pieces is the unique feel they will add to any future project. A bit of old is a good thing in my mind.

And of course I still have visions of making a quilt from vintage sheets (check out this one in simple squares and this one in a more complex design for inspiration!) so I snatch them up when the occasion arises. Especially when they are prices at 50¢ each.

 And last but not least, a pretty pink pillowcase.

December 17, 2014

frugal festive food gift

The past few years my husband, our household chef, has whipped up multiple batches of a delicious chai tea mix. We give it as thank you gifts to various service people: the mail lady, the newspaper delivery people, our family hair stylist, the staff at our branch library, our pastors, our dentist, our pediatrician, and so on. I think my favorite was the time we gave jars to the women who were preparing our Christmas morning breakfast at the hotel we were staying at over the holidays. They were so pleased to have a gift. No matter how many jars he makes I find more people to gift them too!

I was getting them ready to go when I realized how very fabulously frugal this gift was. Since I just entered November budget data I can confidently say that the jars cost about a dollar each in grocery costs. And the packaging costs me next to nothing.

The glass jars with cheery red lids are from my favorite peanut butter of which I consume quite a bit. Some people start their day with coffee; I start mine with peanut butter toast.

The tags are punched out from old greeting cards. The punch was a gift to me and I am quite pleased to have it. I imagine I will get years of use out of it.

And, I will confess, I even bought the curling ribbon at a thrift store years ago. Hee.

December 15, 2014

adorable acorn people (you can make them too!)

I have gained a reputation as the craft queen on the years we do Thanksgiving with my husband's family (see: ornamental balls, felt Christmas tree ornaments). This year we made little tiny acorn people with wood bead heads. I did the hot gluing of cap, bead head, and acorn bodies for the kiddos. Then we decorated with fine tip sharpies and yarn for scarves. Credit due to none other than Martha Stewart herself.

December 12, 2014

fabric find

I don't have any beautiful nature photos to share so today you get to see a piece of fabric I treated myself to the other day. I bought it without a purpose but I am quite sure I will find one. Someday.

December 10, 2014

it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

In the past I have piled tree-buying, tree-decorating, and house-decorating into one mega day-long event. This year I spaced it out and dragged up a box at a time and found the whole process to be much more pleasurable. So no more 10-hour decorating marathons for me. A bit at a time is the way to go!

My mantel is super simple and very different from what I have done in Christmases past. Well, the garlands (green and pinecone) and the white lights are standard. But the other pieces, not so much.

I left the narrow white window up from my autumn mantel. I painted it with a fresh coat of white intending to use it as a photo frame in the basement. But the narrow size makes it such a great supporting partner on the mantel (unlike the more square one which works better as the centerpiece – see it here with a wreath) that I might just keep it around as a flexible pieces.

The rusty star and the hunk of driftwood I dragged in from outdoors. The star usually goes on my garden gate and the driftwood spent the summer propped up underneath the pergola. I actually have a vision for the piece of driftwood as inspired by this blog post. Now, will I get to it before Christmas rolls around? Maybe… maybe not!

The photo above shows the top of the shelf in our main floor bathroom. It is a fun and unexpected spot to add some decorations. The little Santa bells are a "new" vintage treasure passed on to me by my always-cleaning grandmother.

And in this photo you can see the vase of driftwood that was featured in this autumn mantel design. I added one of the oak leaf branches from the mantel along with a sprig of fake red berries and it was instantly repurposed. And I must say, my jars of beads and buttons sorted by color prove to be perennially useful in decorating.

Happy holiday decorating to you!

December 8, 2014

shelf analysis & self analysis

Hello, dear readers. Apparently the month of November escaped me. I am so sorry about that! But let's talk art before we talk about me.

The above photo depicts my living room shelves where I play when the decorating mood strikes me. Some of what comes naturally to me does not for others so I thought I would take a moment to look at what I did and tell you why it works.

The key to any lovely arrangement is to make sure there is some repetition. Repeated elements visually send the message "we belong together." And that is always pleasing to the eye!

On the shelf above you will see repetition in:

color (reds and blues are highlighted but I also repeated browns)

shape (circles)

texture (glossy, shiny glass)

I also recommend completely clearing off your shelves and wiping them down before a design re-do. I had not done this in a long time and found it freshened my perspective. I redid several shelves that had been exactly the same for several years when I forced myself to clean house so to speak.

Now, onto the promised self-analysis! As the name of this blog – Make Time, Make Art – indicates I am attempting to document my progress on that very goal. When I don't have anything to write about then I know I am letting one of the most important areas of my life slip in importance. So how am I attempting to remedy it this go round? Well, I am dropping one of my weekly commitments completely. Several others are done for now and won't pick up until January. More time actually physically at home should lead to more art time. The other thing I am attempting to commit to despite crazy baby's (non) sleep schedule is get up before my kiddos and get some art time in the early morning. You will know how I am doing by whether you see posts up here!

October 31, 2014

a heart

Not to get all mushy on you this week, but here's another heart! Remember the one I saw this summer? I seem to have an eye for spotting them on trees! I heart nature.

October 29, 2014

a logo

My dad is newly retired and a recent Grandpa visit allowed me to crank through some serious design work for my dear sister's newest venture.

The name is a tribute to one of her cats and the paw print is that of one of her dogs. I am quite pleased with my choice of typeface. Usually I trend towards the more simple, modern sans serif fonts as being friendlier and cleaner. In this case, however, I think these serifs give an appropriate air of seriousness while still being soft and approachable.

The heart shape within the paw print was there naturally, which I quite love.

October 27, 2014

a quilt back

Not sewn yet but designed, which might have been the trickier part of it anyway.

There is a lot of struggle in pink fabric (bad folds, crooked strips, husband assistance, straight strips, diamonds cut for another quilt) leading up to having that large piece available. Then I realized the large piece wasn't as large as I thought and I had to get creative with the rest of it.

I don't know why it did not occur to me that designing the back was practically like designing a whole new quilt!

October 24, 2014

October 22, 2014

progress on the Tangential quilt

I am so very far behind in my quilt class. This is installment one and as I write this I am days away from reading installment four! Yikes. I keep plugging away though. This is the very top strip of the quilt. I chose to do scraps instead of a solid color for some of the triangles. This took longer when I was doing the cutting but I am very happy with how it looks. I am still really excited about this project!

October 20, 2014

an unconventional acorn wreath

I am just going to fess up right away. I made this wreath last October and then never wrote about it. Hee. And I am not sure I am finished with it anyway.

But – first things first. I was inspired by both a rectangular wreath made from a frame and an all-acorn wreath and decided to combine the two. I've since lost the original links but there are examples aplenty on the ole Pinterest.

After gathering up a variety of sizes of acorns (I love a nearby park to add to my collection), I heated them in the oven to kill any creatures that might be living in them and then got busy with the glue gun! I did do a base that was more organized and built layers evenly. So I would work all the way around the frame over and over, slowly building it up until it was full.

My first thought was to paint some stripes of different widths on it, leaving some "bare" acorn as its own stripe color. I had in mind a yellow gold and some purples. I really wanted it to looked dipped but there didn't seem to be a good way to accomplish that.

My latest thought is metallic spray paint – maybe bronze colored. Instead of taping it off for neat and tidy stripes I would let the overspray speckle the bare acorns. I think I will paint most of it, leaving just the top bit plain. Of course, I don't actually have the spray paint at the moment and the last thing I really need is a new project!

October 17, 2014

late bloomer

A bit of summer resisting the fall of autumn. I should find out how often the honeysuckle blooms in a season.

October 15, 2014

more on the Cascade quilt

A sneak peek of the fabric I chose for the Cascade quilt for my Angled class. I especially like how the patterned fabric for the quilt back pulls everything together. Which is why we bought enough to use for binding and to make a throw pillow!

October 13, 2014

framed-up fall mantel

I've featured the large crewel piece (created by my great-grandmother!) before but this is the first time I used an old window and empty picture frames. Natural treasures from the beach include driftwood and a large seagull feather. Natural treasures from the neighborhood include oak branches, acorns, various seed pods, and a pretty substantial piece of bark that I hauled home from a walk. Upon seeing it my husband only commented "Well, that's where the kids get it." A few pieces of glass including some of my milk glass collection and there it is. I am quite pleased with it and will probably leave it up until Christmas time.

October 10, 2014

a nature doodle

I made this while sitting on my backyard steps, on the phone. It all started with the dead potato bug that became the pupil of the eye.

October 8, 2014

Amanda at ArtPrize 2014: Women's City Club

This has been one of my favorite venues thus far (I will admit at this writing I haven't been to either the Art Museum or the UICA both of which I expect to be fabulous). I was leery of taking my three-year-old in as I had visions of crashing antiques but they were well-prepared for visitors and had great gallery space set up on the lower level. I am wondering if I am more traditional in my art tastes than I thought!

A few of my favorite photography pieces:

Flight by Tim Priest
Such dramatic beauty.

The Bus Never Stopped by Richard Deming Jr.
So last winter was indeed trying. But this image is beautiful.

Lake of the Clouds Sunrise by Kevin Clifford
I might be partial to this image having vacationed in the Upper Peninsula near this place.

A lovely wood block print:

Woodland Wisdom by Donna Mitchell-Collins
I always love the look of any type of block printing. And of course nature as a theme is always beautiful to me.

And of course anything involving fabric and fiber interests me:

Snow by Gloria McRoberts
So so very beautiful and amazing. She really captured the stillness that envelopes a landscape adrift with snow. I would love to watch how she created this.

Carroots by Toni Johnson Mendina
It's quilting! It's fabric! It's inspiring to me. I need to do some experimental wall hangings of my own. Check out the layers of soil.

October 6, 2014

Amanda at ArtPrize 2014: Meijer Gardens

Since this is the last week of ArtPrize I better show you what I want to show you while you still have a chance to see it for yourself!

While I wasn't as impressed with the exhibit at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park as I was in years past, there are still a few pieces worth discussing. I didn't know that photography was allowed (without flash) until I was on my way out so these photos are from the ArtPrize website.

This piece, Armonico CLXVII by Antonella Zazzera, was my very favorite. It is woven out of copper wire and it the size of it amazing. Something so large composed of small, thin strands. It has serious presence.

This one – Wallwave Vibration (anatomy of a diagram) by Loris Cecchini – was pretty awesome as well. I think it made the jury's short list if I remember right. I appreciate that it is all textural and that soft shadows become just as much a part of it as the material it was made of (polyester resub if you were curious).

Feather Child 1 by Lucy Glendinning was just plain disturbing. I can't forget it. I've never seen anything like it before.

This one – House by Osman Khan – also continues to haunt me. My children wanted to buy it sice it was for sale – I think they had visions of playing house – but I can't get it out of my mind for more disturbing reasons. The house is so stark and empty and lonely. And those lights remind me of some very un-home-like places, places that people might live but feel (and are) so much more institutional. There's a better image in this mlive slideshow.

I also feel this one – Die Hutte Brennt / The Shed is on Fire by Katrin Albrecht – deserves a mention. I was intrigued by the medium: bricks made of compressed clothing but not so excited about the installation itself.