You may not have realized but I was actually away for a few days this past weekend. Mom and I went to Albuquerque this past weekend for my cousin's son's wedding. We were the only family able to go from Debra's side of the family and we were happy to be there to represent. The wedding was on Sunday at the beautiful Albuquerque Botanical Gardens but we had a few extra days to drive around and see this part of the country.
I didn't take a lot of photos, I was too busy looking around.
The first full day we drove about 2.5 hours north to Taos. Our destination was Taos Pueblo. This Native American village of adobe homes is at least 1000 years old and people still live in them. The tour was fascinating.
The St. Jerome Chapel is "only" about 150 years old and is the newest building.
Next we drove a little NW of Taos to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It's very cool!
Let me tell you this was very high up and it was a darned miracle that I made it to the middle of the bridge to get this photo. You can bet that I didn't let go of the railing.
After this I apparently put my camera away for the rest of the trip and just enjoyed being there. We drove back to Pilar along the western edge of the river and it was a spectacular drive. The next day we drove to Santa Fe and the highlight was the Georgia O'Keefe museum. We were surprised that she has a couple of connections to Virginia. Her very first teaching job was actually very close to where I grew up!
On the day of the wedding we visited the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanical Gardens in the morning and Old Town in the afternoon. The highlight was a surprise 2-hour show of Flamenco dancing on the square in Old Town. It was a perfect way to end the sight-seeing part of our trip.
It's time to get back to some quilting.
I finished the ruler class sample and I promised myself that once it was done that I could finally work on one of my crystal mandalas. I've been waiting way to long to do this so I got started marking it this week.
This project started a couple of months ago by planning the quilting structure. This is how I plan all of my quilts. It's a little old school to not do this on the computer but I can't justify drawing software that I simply won't use that often. A package of page protectors is pretty cheap.
I started by printing a color image of the quilt and then I try to make myself come up with at least 3 designs. That makes sure that I get the most obvious one out of the way and, possibly, I come up with something a little more creative.
Once I come up with a basic framework that I like I print a quarter section of the quilt and work out a few details. I know that at this point I will change things as I mark and quilt the quilt but at least I have some sort of plan that might help prevent my usual quilting paralysis after the quilt is loaded.
Next it was time to mark the quilt and my favorite tool for this is Renee Haddadin's Amazing Rays. This one is the Mini-Ray and makes a circle up to 35.5" in diameter. There's also a larger one that does up to 79". I use this think for all sorts of projects including marking things on my mosaic wall.
You pin the center disc in the center of your quilt and the ruler fits on it and spins around. I taped it in place so that my degree markings stayed lined up properly.
Crayola Washable Markers are my favorite marking tool. The marking tip doesn't fit in the hole of the ruler so I just hold the marker next to the to the hole on the edge of the ruler. I like that I have a lot of colors so if, as in this case, I changed my mind about a mark I can switch to a darker color for the final mark.
Sometimes I get so many marks on it that I need to draw in some rough quilting guidelines so I don't forget. It looks kind of a mess but it will be OK. I think.
I need to get it loaded and start quilting to find out. I'm not going to stress about it. This one is for practice. If it turns out bad I'll cut it up into placemats or something. I just need to get started!
I'm still in fish-making mode and here are the newest additions to my school.
These first 4 photos are before firing. I've mentioned "striker" glass a lot. Striker glass changes color a LOT during firing so you have to pay close attention to what you are working with before hand. I mark all of my glass with the stock numbers, even the small pieces. But once it goes in the tiny scrap bin it could be anything.
Pay close attention to the blue and turquoise fish to see what color it turns in the end.
The bases of both of these fish are striker glass.
The green one is not striker but the orange one is. You might notice that his tail is kind of ragged. It broke on the way to the kiln. I decided to cobble it back together as best I could and let the melting glass fuse back together. Lots of fish had damage to their tail fins.
The dark green fish is the same one as in the photo above. The bright green one has some turquoise bits that are "reactive". It will react with some other glasses and leave a dark outline. It's a very cool effect that people use as a design element. My favorite part about that fish though is the eye. It's just a little sliver of glass that was in my tiny scrap tray.
Here they are all finished. The light blue one turned bright pink and the orange ones turned a very deep red. Check out the little green one and you can see the reactive effect around the turquoise dots and his very cool eye. The big red one at the top has a little nip out of his tail fin and I'm OK with that. I used some dichroic glass on him and I need to use that a lot more on some new fish.
Here's the whole school so far. I probably need this many more to have enough for my backsplash. That's no problem because I love making them.
I shared a few weeks ago how I use batting scraps and donated decorator fabric to make dog beds for my friend to donate to Richmond Animal League. She volunteers there and it's easy for me to give the beds to her and she can drop them off when she works there every other week. Since then I find myself seeing other things that I can use to create pet beds for her.
When I was teaching at The Longarm Network last weekend I spied this. When the are at shows they have the longarms loaded with yards of fabric and batting for people to be able to practice and test out the machines. This is one of the leftover practice "quilts". They use these for lots of things. They are great for padding when moving furniture and equipment. But they can also make great pet beds and they let me take this one home. It took me less time to make this into 2 pet beds than it's taking me to write this blog post.
See, it's big!
I wanted the pet beds to be very cushy so I decided on 4 layers and that would be perfect if I cut this piece in half for 2 big chunks.
I folded one of the chunks into quarters with the selvedge edges together and the raw edges together. Then I stitched those 2 sides. I made sure that I caught fabric on inside of the fold.
I stitched through all the layers and I absolutely didn't care about this. After stitching the 2 sides I turned it inside out.
See what I mean about catching all the layers of fabric on the inside? I had to go back and stitch a wider seam and, no, I didn't trim any seams.
Now I could turn it inside out for real.
Since the open edge doesn't have any raw edges I could just topstitch them closed.
Before you say anything about the basting threads throughout the fabric, yes, I did remove them. Don't want a puppy to snag his teeth or toes on that.
Fifteen minutes later I have 2 new dog beds for RAL.
Bonus! I found this spool of thread before I started sewing them and was able to finish it off with the 2 dog beds. That means I get to buy 10 more spools of thread as replacement, right?
New in the shop this week are a number of 1 yard cuts. I call these Stars because they are one of a kind in color and texture and can't be recreated.
Patricia Caldwell used a fabric from the Stars collection for the background of her Moonlight Leaves quilt.
Leslie McNeil used one as the background for her Sun Blossom Pony art quilt.
Here are the newest additions to the Stars fabric collection.
I've been working on the new mosaic wall in bits and pieces. It's not a big priority right now so it's not getting a lot of attention but I have made a little progress.
First I worked on the top edge. Originally I had drawn half circles to create a series of arches but I could find tile bits I liked in my stash to fill it in. But while I was searching I kept moving 3 sheets of these leftover tiles out of my way. Eventually I realized that they were the answer. I got the arched effect but much easier!
I also got a few beads done too.I think I'm really going to love this section!
You might be wondering about the one gold bead all alone there. Remember that these are made from leftover bits from the big wall. When I dumped out the gold bits here I knew I had to find a small bead and that one seemed the best fit. I think I had about 5 small pieces of that leftover after this so it was the perfect size and shape.
This one was really easy! I think my Mom gave me a few of these geode slices for the wall and I've finally found the perfect use for them.
Is this quilt cute or what? Leslie McNeil has designed a whole line of patterns using her floral collage technique. This one is called Pick Me Up Blooms and was cleverly named by her husband. For this version she used the Blue Sky gradient as the background and I think it worked perfectly.
I haven't met Leslie in person although we've known each other in the blog world for several years. I always admire her work and, through her quilting style, I imagine that she wakes each morning happy and joyful for the new day. It comes through in all of her art.
Look at that, the last of the Rainbow blocks found a good home! I was going to make this into a baby quilt but I don't know anyone having a baby and I needed a sample for my Ruling Rulers class at The Longarm Network on June 17. We'll be quilting on Innova longarms but this class isn't machine specific so you are welcome to take it no matter what short-, mid- or longarm machine you quilt on.
The easy way to quilt this would have been to do a different ruler motif in each square but of course I couldn't do that! I wanted to do few focus pieces like this mandala using a heavy and shiny orange thread. Then I connected the elements with lines in the bright green thread. Those lines extend through the borders and that gave me lots of sections to showcase a lot of different ways to use rulers.
In the "background areas" of the center of the quilt I used Invisafil thread for the first time. I learned the hard way not to wind the bobbin completely full because it will warp the bobbin. But other than that, I absolutely love that thread! You can barely see it. It just provides texture. I'll be buying more for my Thread Collection....but only a few colors. You don't need a lot of colors of a thread that's virtually invisible!
Because friends are dropping off empty bottles by the bag full! That's good for us. I have more bottles to play with and you have more to choose from. People find so many uses for these trays. They are great as appetizer trays for wine lovers. My brother uses one as a spoon rest. We use one as a key catcher. Since I eat hummus almost every day for lunch I cold use one of the double cavity as a lunch dish with a handle. They also make great gifts and now there are even more in the shop to choose from.
Check them all out in the shop. This year, for each one I sell I'm donating $5 to my local food pantry.
***By the way, all orders (fabric and glass) placed after today will be shipped next Tuesday. Custom dyed fabric orders will be shipped May 15.
I'm not working on mosaic for the dye sink yet in that nothing has been stuck to the wall yet. But I am working on lots of glass fishes so that I'll have a full fish tank when I do start. Making these is kind of addictive. I use scrap glass so, like scrap quilting, there's not much to lose and that frees you up to just have a lot of fun. I use these to fill in space when I have some things I'm ready to fire in the kiln. Here's how I made 3 recent ones.
I start with a rough cut fish body and tail and I glue them together. You can see that I have little wedges of glass under some of the tails to hold them up while the glue dries. I use standard Elmer's glue gel. It burns off clean in the kiln.
No matter what glass project I'm doing I save ever little sliver of glass. To make my fishes I just start piling up the bits and strips of glass trying to pay attention to color. But with some glass you don't really know the color until it's fired...especially if it's an unmarked sliver. Most of these bits are glued in place so I can easily move them to the kiln.
Side view. You can see there's nothing really logical going on here.
Here's the second one.
And the 3rd one with a creepy lime green eye.
Here the are after firing. I was a little disappointed with their stumpy tails. That had not happened to me before. But when I saw how everything else in the kiln fired I realized that I had used the wrong program! I fired it to too high a temperature so they became much more rounded. I'm actually fine with the teal and purple ones. I might trim the tail joint on the olive one and fire him again.
Or I just might make more fish and use him for something else. He wouldn't be my first reject fish! Next time I'll show you how they look when I fire them properly.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
To subscribe click the RSS Feed button and copy the URL of that page into your blog reader.
In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.