Art Quiltlet: 34/52

hand stitched collage art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This has been an interesting week. My two older kids began school (the youngest starts next week). I have three kids at three schools on three different schedules, and two of them need transportation. My oldest began high school at a magnet STEM program, so he needs to be driven to the bus stop, and I’ve been getting up at 5:30 every morning to make sure he’s up. (High school. When I began blogging, at a long-gone blog, he was four.) Sunday night I messed up my sewing machine, which was well overdue for a cleaning anyway, so I was without that all week. I also had an allergic reaction to a new detergent we tried, specifically for sweaty workout clothes, and my skin has been flaring and miserable since Sunday. I fell down the stairs very early one morning. Getting up at 5:30 stinks.

So, anyway, without a sewing machine, I completely hand-stitched this week’s quiltlet. It includes flannel (which I sometimes use as the middle of the sandwich, instead of batting), gelatin-printed cotton, organza, tulle, and plastic netting from a clementine box. I stitched the layers together with the blue embroidery thread stitches, leaving some of the flannel exposed. When I cropped, I stitched the crop line with regular thread, then finished the edges with blanket stitch. This took me all week, in fits and starts, which is actually the kind of time I had. My youngest and I were doing things together while her brothers were in school, and that wake-up schedule has me pretty tired anyway. I need to get used to it.

Next week we add the final moving part into this logistical challenge of getting the kids where they need to be, and on time, every day. Hopefully it doesn’t all fall apart.

Art Quiltlet: 33/52

Leaf art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Earlier in the week I saw this photograph come across my Instagram feed, and I liked it quite a bit. It stuck in my head, and definitely inspired last week’s quiltlet (completed on Saturday, just posted late). This quiltlet uses several techniques, and I like that I’m getting more comfortable mixing different methods. It’s also great to have expanded my technique toolbox, so to speak, so I have more options and a better likelihood of portraying something the way I see it in my head.

The top of this piece is composed of three layers. I wanted a lighter value green than any I had in stash, so I took a white piece of fabric and used Neocolor II watersoluble pastels on it, then sprayed with water and brushed to blend. The green is the middle layer, with the coral on the bottom and the purple on top. I stitched the leaf and then ripped away the fabric around it using the stitch and slash method, except I used scissors in places for a cleaner edge and I trimmed the green close on the outside edge rather than letting it show. Then I printed the coral with stripes of darker pink paint. After making a quilt sandwich, I free-motion stitched around them, cropped, and zigzagged the edges.

Leaf art quiltlet, detail, at amyhoodarts.com

Leaf art quiltlet, detail

This came out about how I’d hoped, and was a fun bit of play on a Saturday afternoon. I need to bring my sewing machine in for service on Monday–I have thread tangled around the tension discs and it’s not something I can remedy at home (it’s overdue for a cleaning anyway). Depending on how long they keep it, I may be doing this week’s quiltlet entirely by hand. I could borrow my daughter’s Hello Kitty machine–but there is something appealing about adding another layer of challenge.

Art Quiltlet: 32/52

art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Back to Neocolor water-soluble pastels on this one. First I stitched the oval shapes, then colored them in and added water. (They bled a bit more than I intended.) Once the piece was dry, I added the running stitch with hand embroidery, cropped, and finished the edges. Hmmm I don’t know, it’s a departure from anything I usually do. I’m still deciding how I feel about it.

Art Quiltlet: 31/52

Patterns

This one is simple and slow. First I carved a two-inch pinwheel quilt block stamp, which I then block printed on some fabric I dyed in a class a few weeks ago. I also dyed some thread in that class as an experiment, so I used it to outline on the diagonal by hand. Then I cropped and finished the edges. It’s simple, but satisfying. And I enjoy hand-stitching. I stitched this while watching the Olympic opening ceremonies with kids who wouldn’t stop talking.

So, I did finish this on time–it was completed Saturday morning–but the weekend was busy so I’m posting it now. Thirty-one weeks in and I’m still on schedule with making one each week.

Patterns quiltlet detail at amyhoodarts.com

June + July Reading List

I'd rather be here than in Maryland.

I’d rather be here than in Maryland.

June and July’s books-read list is short, comparatively. I’m not enjoying summer in Maryland. Actually, I kind of hate it. I thought it might be better than last summer seeing as how we had time to line up a few activities and we know our way around better. It’s not. It’s disgustingly hot, so awful that for a stretch there my always-outside younger two kids couldn’t handle it. There is no beach. Nature is far away. I’m sick of suburbia, I miss the ocean and my yard in Rhode Island so much it hurts. Who knew you could miss land that much? I used to love summer. We had our favorite places–not just the beach, but other spots near the water, rocky shore with tide pools, aquarium and seaport, picnics and parks. You could do things outside, most of the summer, except for a couple really sultry weeks in August, but even then, you could gather up the kids after dinner for a sunset walk along the shore, where the air was cooler and the breeze tasted of salt. I didn’t take it for granted when I had it, but that didn’t stop me from losing it anyway. I knew I was really lucky to live in a place I loved so much–and it was the nature, absolutely, that rooted me in Rhode Island, not family (which has scattered) or friends (ditto). It was the way I could always find happiness in my natural surroundings. Summer filled me up.

Here, summer is wearying. It’s hot. We don’t get out enough. We’re fractious. I’m tired. We all sneeze and are congested a lot. My attention span is pitiful. All this is to say, this is all I read in June and July. I abandoned many, many books partway through because they couldn’t keep my interest (they’re not listed). I flip through magazines. I lay on my bed a lot, under the ceiling fan, kind of worn out and sad and homesick.

Anyway, here’s the list. Ones I especially liked are starred.

June

Don’t Be A Jerk & Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master, by Brad Warner * (mostly read in May)
We’re All Damaged, by Matthew Norman*
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman*
Miller’s Valley, by Anna Quindlen
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Raising Demons, by Shirley Jackson

July

The Trials of Apollo, by Rick Riordan
I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson*
Wait Till Next Year, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God, by Alom Shaha*

Art Quiltlet: 30/52

Mountains art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I finished the year’s thirtieth art quiltlet on Saturday night, so it had to wait until today to post. It’s hard to do justice with a photograph, but here we are. I bought myself some new art supplies this week, long-coveted Neocolor II water-soluble wax oil pastels (except I bought them at my local art supply store, and how I love having one!!). To create this, I used a watercolor painting I made a while ago (I didn’t date it, shame on me), which was inspired by a photo in the National Geographic Instagram feed, which I can no longer easily find because if there’s a way to sort favorites on IG, I don’t know it.

watercolor at amyhoodarts.com

To create the art quiltlet, I laid dry color down with the pastels, then blended with a wet paint brush. When it was dry, I made my quilt sandwich using flannel rather than batting, and added the stitching. At that point I decided to add a little more color in some spots with the pastels. More drying, then I was able to crop and finish.

I love the pastels. I’ve been wanting them to use with fabric for a while, but they are a little pricey. However, a week of triple-digit heat indices and driving round and round Annapolis dropping people off and picking them up, and I decided I was worth $30 pastels.

Since this is quiltlet number thirty, it’s time for another group-of-ten photograph. Quiltlets 21-30:

Art quiltlets 21-30 at amyhoodarts.com

I’ve been asked more than once what I plan to do with them all when I’m done. I don’t have a plan. Right now they’re in an overflowing box (I need a second box). The point of this exercise was never about the end product. It’s about the process of committing to making a small piece of textile art every single week and seeing where that leads.

Art Quiltlet: 29/52

Crying Flag art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I did not watch the RNC on TV this past week. I “watched” it via Twitter, live blogs, and news articles, and that was sickening enough. I have never lived with the delusion that America is a perfect and great country, while maintaining optimism that this democratic experiment would one day bear fruit for all. Women were left out of the Declaration of Independence; blacks were reduced to 3/5 of a person in the Constitution. I am well aware this country was created by privileged white men, for privileged white men. Gains for the rest of us have been slow coming, and incremental. This past week saw an established, long-standing party’s leadership gather behind and support a truly conservative stance in the strictest sense of the word: “a disposition in politics to preserve what is established” (Merriam-Webster). What was established was governance for and by white men; what has been imagined and hoped for and lauded through the years is liberty and justice for all.

Crying Flag art quiltlet detail at amyhoodarts.com

I see those ideals fading, buried under racism, misogyny, and fear-mongering, and a candidate and a party who has allowed and encouraged those angry, hateful voices to get louder and louder.

This week’s quiltlet portrays a crying American flag. It is how I feel.

Art Quiltlet: 28/52

quilt scraps

This is just a quick catch-up post. This quiltlet was completed on time last week but never posted. It uses scraps from a quilt I’m making to donate to a Baltimore Head Start location through Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild. It’s a cheery quilt using warm and cool color groupings. I had a vague idea in this quiltlet of mountains and sunset. Can you envision it?

Art Quiltlet: 27/52

Scrap fabric art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Well, this was pure experimentation. I wanted to try sandwiching scraps in between dissolve-able stabilizer to make “fabric.” Once it’s sandwiched, you stitch all over (that’s the white stitching), dissolve away the stabilizer, and voilà.

Once I had that (rather flimsy, and with some holes) piece of scrappy fabric, I layered a piece of cream fabric underneath, then made my regular quilt sandwich and free motion stitched some black. The arrangement of bold colors is fun, I think, and I got to experiment with this method, which has been intriguing me for a while now. And I don’t really have anything more to say about this one!

Sewn: Worry Cat

worry cat

A couple of months ago, I saw a “Worry Eater” stuffed monster in a catalog. The idea is for kids to write down their worries and “feed” it to the monster so it can digest them while the child can get to sleep. I liked the idea, but also thought I could make one myself. I asked my son (who has anxiety) if he wanted to draw his own monster to be turned into a worry eater. He thought maybe but then didn’t, and anyway, he’s doing well with managing his anxiety, for the most part. In the meantime, the inspiration, which I’d clipped from the catalog, remained taped to the wall of my work area, and I realized I really wanted to make one for my daughter.

The past year hasn’t been the easiest on her. We moved, and her new school was so very different from her old school, with a different culture and different rules that seemed to leave her compressed and anxious and smaller than she was a year ago. She’s got more worries, and more thoughts that make her feel bad. I started sketching ideas and ultimately came up with Worry Cat. She (my daughter informs me this cat is a she) is my first attempt and a little odd in places. I used knit fabric for cuddly-ness, but it does pose a challenge, especially with inserting a zip. Worry Cat doesn’t need to be perfect, though, because nobody is perfect. My daughter has permission to get out of bed to get pencil and paper and write down any plaguing thoughts. In the morning I can take them and tuck them into a box for safekeeping, leaving Worry Cat’s pocket ready to take on more negative thoughts.

Worry Cat isn’t a substitution for professional guidance, if necessary, and isn’t meant to suggest that one stuffed animal can solve a child’s anxiety. It’s another tool in our toolbox though. And instead of being ordered from a catalog, this one was thought out and sewn by Mama, with love and hope for a happier girl through the whole process. That makes it all the more special.

Worry Cat stuffed doll at amyhoodarts.com