Hummingbird courtesy of Layne

20130705-023624.jpgMy friend, Layne, posts all kinds of wonderful pictures on her Facebook account. She shared a wonderful hummingbird feeding from a flower last week. I decided today, my first full day off in six weeks that I’d do it up in fabric.

I like how it turned out though there are some things I would redo a little differently. I learn a little from each piece that I create. I would cut my layers of fabric more carefully and closer to,the stitching line. I would also take more time during the couching step. I would also,use a more appropriate foot for my machine. I left my two favorite couching feet at the shop. So, I made do ny using a 3/8 inch rolled hemmer foot instead. It worked great for guiding the yarn and thread, but it would have worked better with fuzzier or thicker yarn.

So, I learned that a hemmer foot will,work for couching. It doesn’t turn corners well. It needs to have its channel filled up. And, I had fun anyway and made a pretty geegaw for my sewing room.

Couching closeups

I wish i remembered whose blog I saw an example of this technique on… I read about it and tried it during some design exploration exercises. Basically you use a very near color to create a feeling of motion and or depth. I used a slightly lighter blue and a slightly paler yellow for the swoop of air across the top. The batting has been added at this point too. It’ll help hold any Hans stitching I’m gonna do.

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Deciding colors

trying to decide on colors, I used my ipad to try out some things.
trying to decide on colors, I used my ipad to try out some things.

I took a picture of the freezer paper drawing with my ipad. Then I tried out some ideas by coloring in the sketch on my ipad. I liked the look of this one and decided that I’d go with it, if I had the fabrics for it in my stash.

Improving on the idea

A more developed sketch of my landscape for the window
A more developed sketch of my landscape for the window including the window frame.

The middle of the night sketch was really rough, but it was enough to remind me of my thought image. So I improved upon it. I drew this on freezer paper. The kind of freezer paper that is plastic on one side and rough bright white paper on the other. I like the size of the freezer paper and I can tear off as short or long a piece as I want. Plus it’s great for foundation paper peicing. I use it to cover countertops to keep them clean from wet messes. Truly freezer paper is probably the most versatile tool for any kind of crafter or artist. And it’s pretty cheap too!

art, quilt, landscape, teacher, inspiration, howto
Dream Landscapes by Rose Hughes made it possible to bring my idea to reality.

About the same time I drew this idea out, I found a book which really lit up my world. The book was Rose Hughe’s Dream Landscape book about art quilts and her methods. I thought it was the perfect thing to try to make my idea a reality. I modified my sketch and also made a copy of it at full size to match the exact size of the window based on her book.

Inspiration strikes in the middle of the night

quilt, art, inspiration, tree, landscape
Inspiration struck in the middle of the night

I had procrastinated with that window and had it in a closet. About a week before this ‘sketching moment’ I had finally hung that window frame up. Now I had to look at it several times a day since it was stationed right above the loo.

In the middle of the night I often wake from a dream and think I’d like to remember it. Sometimes ideas are so strong that I can’t really get back to sleep sometimes. Sometimes the ideas that wake me are solutions to difficult technical problems I was wrestling with during the previous day. My subconscious often solved problems while I slept. So, years ago, I started keeping a notepad by the bed to write them down. I found it’s much easier to get back to sleep this way. I don’t worry that I might ‘forget’ before morning if I fall asleep again.

My husband and I had been talking about our wedding under a large oak tree before sleeping that night. This simple sketch was an idea that struck me for the window on the wall in the wee hours of the next morning.

A window of inspiration

A neat window that inspired me.
Window frame with iron scroll work

This interestingly shaped arched window was purchased at a garden center in the heart of Gruene, Texas, about two years go. I thought it would look magnificent in my bathroom where I had a vertical blank spot. Actually all the walls were quite barren as I hadn’t decided what to decorate with in that bathroom. I couldn’t stand the idea of sea shells or a water related theme. It seems so mundane and overdone to me for a bathroom. I wanted something else. At the time I found this frame, I thought it was unique and one of a kind. Since then, I have seen this window and some that are very similar at different gardens and nurseries in Texas. They are really interesting to me though. I love the idea of a window and the concept of framing things in the imagination. With a blank window on a wall, you can put anything you imagine in your mind into that window. Being a romantic and a reader, I would imagine all kinds of things in that window each time I looked at it.

Design considerations

I decided this year to learn more about “design”. So I bought a highly rated book about the topic. Though I decided instead of paint, that I would use my scrap fabric. This lesson was on how tone and color can affect the brains initial interpretation of size and depth (near or far location of an object). Also about how texture can do the same.
Also on how color can disrupt those impressions or distort them.

Look at the next three samples. They have elements laid out the same of the same size and shapes. Ask your self which element is nearer to me? Which element is biggest, which one is smallest? Do this for each image.20130604-014052.jpg

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20130604-014410.jpgThe idea that texture can affect perspective is because naturally we can see more details when objects are closer to us. So lots of texture is interpreted as being closer physically than something that has no texture. Something to keep,in mind in a landscape quilt. You could use two to tonally equal fabrics, but have one with more texture, or denser more complicated patterning in the print. Your brain will ‘think’ its closer.

Making Gurwustraminer Vino

So, the French Cab I made in the spring has turned out absolutely fantastic. My wino friends say it is every bit as good as a 50 buck bottle at a nice restaurant.

With that success under my belt… Thought I’d try a white…

So here I am… I started this batch back in hmmm maybe June… I put the juice in the bucket, added the yeast, added elderberry dried blossoms, and measured specific gravity and all that.

Around the first week of September, I transferred the wine from the fermenter to a glass carboy. Tried to not get the gooky yeast paste from the bottom, and tried to not get the floaty flower blossoms. A bit of sludge and a few blossoms made it through the siphon , but no big deal breaker there, not enough to let it settle and do it again. Plan was in about 10 days to check the specific gravity daily and when it stopped changing, to clear the wine. Yeah!

Then… I forgot about it… As in really forgot about it. This morning Morning, the 29th of October… 8 weeks plus later, I went into the bathroom we never use… And saw my vino…. I’m not sure how 8 days tuned into 8 weeks… But it did.

So today is the day we add isinglass to clear the wine. Awhile back I bought this really cool wine whip gadget that you use on an electric drill. Last time I used it… Well I didn’t follow the shopkeepers instruction of go slow…

when using a wine whip….

Go slow longer then you need to, cause once the wine starts spinning… The CO2 will come out in a rush… After the initial offgassing, you can speed it up.

And, I found out that wine shop guys do know what they are talking about… oh boy, will it ever rush out. As a result of my first whipping attempt last January, I am now the proud owner of a designated wine making T-shirt complete with Custom Cabernet modern art splotches all over it.

Not wanting to add to my custom wine art tshirt collection, this time I drilled my whip slow, and slow… And slow… Then faster…faster… Nothing, no rush of gas… Just the wine is staring to look cloudy and muddy. Oh gosh, what did i screw up? I thought this was “clearing the wine”. I check my directions, check the Internet and call my store guy expert. Turns out that I’d left the wine sitting so long that it had off-gassed by itself. And the cloudiness is great and desirable at this point. The isenglass needs those old yeast particles floating around in order to make the tinier floaties bind to the big globs to make even heavier bigger blobby clumps which will soon sink to the bottom. This is how you get the wine really clear. Or, the wine guy suggested that I could buy a mechanical filter and skip the clearing. It only costs… (didn’t hear this part as I was admiring his ability to smoothly cross-sell and musing about having him train my shop employees on that very great and little understood art form.)

So I’ve whipped, isenglassed, and put the carboy back into the never used bathroom to sit for yet another indeterminant amount of time, before I rack it… I wonder if I’ll be able to give bottles away for Christmas?

[Republished with permission from myself, from Wine on the Porch, Oct 29, 2011]