Tuesday, February 23

Just Another Week in Paradise

I spent a good deal of time leading up to and executing work on the first panel of the ocean triptych.

How’d it go? Well, it was fairly easy and quick compared to my usual method, but I found I actually missed the sewing part. Seriously. The ol’ machine sat idly by while I cut and fiddled with Wonder Under and the Freezer Paper pieces. I resisted removing the freezer paper because I would lose my registration lines, but about 1/3 of the way in I could stand it no longer and I started removing the FP from the fused pieces.

Whew. Big mistake. Not in removing it, but in NOT removing it before I laid down (fused) the pieces. I couldn’t get all the FP off and it pulled up the edges. I suppose I could re-fuse them if I could get all the FP off, but I don’t like the look anyway.



I decided to cut my losses. I threw the piece in the trash, folded and stashed the fabric, and tidied up my studio. I won’t even mention how fiddly and frustrating it was working with the Wonder Under. Hated it.



Fuhgeddaboutit. I did learn something, though. I realized the value in the clear vinyl drawing—it takes the place of the registration lines. Be that as it may, I am not going out to buy vinyl, because I don’t like the look of raw-edge to begin with. So there.

In other news, I played golf at San Juan Hills, a course I usually say no to. But it was there or nothing, so off to SJH I went. The good news is it’s very close to home, as indicated by the blue circle. It has that going for it.



But that’s all. It’s a very challenging course. They don’t call it San Juan HILLS for nothing. I don’t love this course.

This is the first tee. You have to hit your ball OVER the plants and the water. That’s just so unfair. They must fish hundreds of balls out of here every week. Three of us donated a ball to the cause, I was able to get over (brag, brag, brag).


It is long, and mostly uphill. I don’t know how they managed to make it more uphill than downhill, but they did.


When I joined the gang in the 19th hole and they asked me how I did, I said, with negativity, this is a really tough course for me. It’s hard for all of us, they chorused. I wrote down 103 but I think I probably scored closer to 109. Sometimes I estimate a little. I no longer carry an index, so the scorecard goes in the trash and doesn’t count for anything.


Back in the studio I am cogitating my next move.


Friday, February 19

Turdus Migratorius

You know it better as Robin. But don’t you just love that name?


We don’t see a lot of robins in these parts. A few now and then, but not many.

So when I saw one the other day, it was worth mentioning. And then I saw another one, and another one… And then Sunday, when we took our morning power walk, we noticed something had dug holes in the wood chips in our front “yard.” Yard isn’t exactly correct. It’s more like a one-foot deep patch of mismatched plants. JJ thought it must have been the work of Holly, the adorable cocker spaniel next door. Holly does sometimes run through the plants if we’re outside and she wants to say hi. But no, look up the street, everyone’s house has holes dug in their chips. If fact, the entire neighborhood was a mess with wood chips scattered everywhere. Must be rabbits. And then I noticed them—the robins. Hundreds if not thousands of them swooping this way and that. We have a young tree behind our house and the branches were heavy with robins, sometimes as many as a dozen on its puny branches. They were everywhere. And then they were gone. I’m thinking they must have stopped to rest and refuel on their northward migration. My neighbor told me they comandeered her fountain.

Hey, I played a great round of golf the other day, I shot 100. I really wanted that 99. Just think if I could putt. I am hitting the ball really long these days. Oh, and it’s mountain lions, not bobcats, that are on my home course. I saw the sign.

This is the view from the clubhouse. #18 is on the left of the water and #17 is on the right. I hate that the last hole is so long (Par 5, 450 yds) because you’re tuckered out out by then.


Here’s what’s been happening in the studio: Mostly cogitating the ocean triptych, but I finally have my course of action figured out and I’m ready to roll. My dilemma was how to do this project the easiest/fastest way possible. There are so many avenues to consider. I won’t bore you with the details of which techniques I threw out, but I decided to fuse. Not with the messy Liquid Thread, but with good ol’ Wonder Under. And then, fuse to what? Did I want to bother with batting and backing and quilting?  I decided to skip all that because I am going to mount them on stretcher bars. I can always add a quilt line later should I choose to.

I had this big piece of deep navy fabric with white dots on it that faded out where the light hit it, even though it was stored in a cardboard box in a closet. It’s worthless for its original intent, which was a night-sky piece I dreamed up after a stargazing session in the hot tub, watching for meteors in the dark desert sky. This is really crappy fabric. It’s very thin and I bought it a long time ago when I didn’t know as much about fabric as I do now. But it should be fine for this application. And I have more than enough of it. Jeez I can’t hold my camera still.


I drew the design and proceeded to number the pieces and add registration marks (the orange lines).

96 pieces? Uh, I don’t think so! 96 x 3 = 288. Not gonna happen. Redraw.


40 pieces. Better.


Well, I’d best get to it.

Saturday, February 13

My New Technique?

First, this post is to document—for myself—the steps of the technique I learned yesterday. It is not intended to infringe on anyone’s copyrights…you can’t copyright or patent a technique or style anyway.
That said, here is the artist’s book. I leafed through it and, while it shows part of her technique, it does not show all of it. But I’ll give the book a plug.

Her quilts are like photographs, rich in detail as you can see. I liked that aspect of them, but I didn’t love the quilts in person. Not up close, anyway. It would be good for a very small quilt.
There was a very long list of supplies to gather. The stuff filled the back of my SUV and it took two trips to bring it all in.

Okay, here we go. First, a pattern ($10). The dotted lines indicate where the pieces overlap.

I trace the pattern on freezer paper. The red lines are the “undies” where the piece goes under its neighbor. The black lines are where you cut the freezer paper. This will get cut up for templates.

A second drawing is made on a piece of vinyl.

The three drawings: Freezer paper, vinyl, and original, which stays intact. No real difference so far.

We are instructed to mount the pieces on an insulation board covered with Insul-Bright. I am told the Insul-Bright is to protect the insulation from the heat of the iron. If nothing else, I can use the board for a bulletin board and the Insul-Bright can be used to make potholders and trivets as hostess gifts.

The board is very easy to stick pins into. But the Insul-Bright catches on the fabic and dry skin hangnails.

Here I have cut out some pieces. Where the red lines are I leave a seam allowance.

Then I paint the edges of the pieces with the secret product (more on that later), which is very messy and drippy. With a very hot iron, the product is heat-set between two sheets of Teflon. It sizzles because it is still wet but I haven’t got all day. You can see the shiny edge where the product is. This is the underside and will not be seen, so neatness doesn’t really count. The freezer-paper pieces (above photo), are the topside. You can see how wet the paper got.

At this point I can remove the paper and take the pieces, one by one, and position them under the vinyl sheet, which is my placement guide. This is very fiddly and time-consuming, and long tweezers are needed to place the pieces under the vinyl. Once I get all the pieces laid and I’m happy with it, I carefully lift the vinyl and press everything into permanent placement. No going back. I am wondering how I will prevent the pieces/design from fusing to the Insul-Bright.

The mystery product is Liquid Thread ($8). I looked it up and it gets 3/5 stars, while Aleene’s gets 5/5 stars. If I adopt this method I might try another brand. This was very, very messy, but you work assembly line fashion and once you heat set it you are done with the messy part. It is thin and wet, but it is not sticky. It dries to a fine powder that can be wiped away.
But it’s messy enough that I might reconsider ever using it. It would be a nightmare with hundreds of pieces.
Here are three pieces fused together. It is soft and pliable, and I am told you can quilt through it with no problem. But do I like the look? No. I think it could be combined with my usual technique to add details…but I could achieve that with fusible interfacing, e.g. Wonder Under.
I don’t think it saves all that much time. I should do a very small piece all the way through before I decide, but I doubt it will be my new technique.

Thursday, February 11

Just Goofin’

Which is another way to say golfin’.


The weather has been seriously hot. It feels like summer. I don’t know what happened to El Niño. It was 88° out there this week. Way too hot, I quit after nine. Fugeddaboutit.

Play was agonizingly slow so I pulled out my crappy golf camera and fiddled around while waiting my turn. Sometimes you see some cool wildlife on the course. I’ve seen rattlesnakes, coyotes, and geese—lots of geese, and there are signs warning of bobcats although I’ve never seen one. One guy was looking for his wife’s ball in the brush and she said, “Dear, get out of there! There’s rattlesnakes in there!” To which he replied, “No there’s not,” and he pointed to the sign, “Just bobcats.” Hilarious. She didn’t think so.


This prickly pear cactus is in a bad spot. There are about a hundred golf-ball sized holes in it. Poor thing.


I just love being out on the fairways.


I haven’t been doing any quilting because I am going to an all-day class (tomorrow) to learn a new technique, which, if I like it, will save me the time of sewing down the pieces, I can just glue them with some special adhesive. It will also save the time of ironing down one side of each piece, and I’ll be able to do deeper curves with greater ease. I’ll find out and report back. Here’s one of her pieces:

I am also taking bridge lessons. I have been playing bridge for 20+ years but I felt like re-learning some of the basics because I want to start playing competitive bridge.

No, not that kind of bridge.