Friday, April 26, 2013

The Quilted Vest Is Finished!


Finished Vest!
My new vest is finished! And I love the way it turned out.  After quilting the diagonal lines (and yes, I had to take out stitches and redo a few times), I quilted the vertical and horizontal straight lines.  Now the fabric looks a little like pieces were sewn together.  
Quilting Finished
 My old vest looks better on the inside than the outside!  I cut the shoulder seams apart and decided that I could use it as a pattern and not do side seams.  I made bias strips to finish all the raw edges.  I machine stitched them on the right side of the fabric and hand stitched them in place on the back side for a nice finish.
The inside of the old vest used as a pattern
This is the back of the vest.  I'm so pleased that the hemline is straight and the finished edges are good. 
Back of finished vest

 It has been years since I made buttonholes.  I have to admit that I used language that my mother would not have approved during the buttonhole section!  Then I selected my handcrafted buttons made just for this vest and sewed them on.  DONE!  I will enjoy wearing this and will probably wear it to shreads also. 
Hand Made Polymer Buttons

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Replacing My Favorite Vest

Think about that one piece of clothing that is your absolute favorite.  What would you do if it were thread bare from wearing it and you could not find another even after combing the internet for days?

 I have a vest that I love.  It is silky, lightly quilted, made of several colors and patterns, fits perfectly, looked good with denim or slacks.  Sounds perfect doesn’t it?  Well, I’ve worn it to shreds and want another. 

I decided to make one.   First I bought a sack of silk sari strips and thought I would sew them together and then quilt them.  That sack sat and still sits in my closet.  I place the 1” to 3” strips on the table, looked at them and thought “Not in this lifetime”.   Thankfully I went to a fabric store in San Diego and found silky fabric that I love.  It is colorful and looks like blocks of different fabrics sewn together.  I bought it. 


My friend, Luana, went with me to Joann’s to buy light weight iron-on pellon and light weight interfacing.  She loaned me her quilting foot and offered a few tips.  I am quilting, on my small 30+ year old Elna sewing machine, a large piece of fabric that will make the vest….assuming I get the quilting part done.  There is a layer of silky fabric with the iron-on light weight pellon, a layer of very soft interfacing and then a layer of the silky fabric and it all slips and puckers at its will.  I can only quilt at night after a glass of wine!  Otherwise my eyes cross.  The first night I took out the two lines of stitching twice and decided I should wait til the next night and try again!

 

I’ve finally got the hang of it. I used Luana’s suggestion of masking tape for a guide for straight stitching.  After figuring out part of the problem was the bias direction of my stitching, I pinned more and sewed one direction for one line and changed direction for the second.   I think I may finish by the end of the week and another bottle of wine.

 
This is one of those projects that I decided I just had to do and NEVER have to do again!





Friday, April 19, 2013

Wild Violet Necklace


Sometimes design just evolves.  I wanted to make a toggle set from polymer for a knitted green chain I made.  I started with Premo green, purple, light green, and translucent clay. 
I was thinking: 
floral - wild violets   http://www.garden.org/weedlibrary/?q=show&id=2397
green leaves
tiny formed flowers
green and purple
I also had decorative copper head pins and I wondered if I could incorporate those and make them connect the toggle set to the chain. 
I played with the circle and the cut out for the toggle.  As you can see I ended up with tiny purple flowers raised on translucent circles laying on green leaves.  And they reminded me of wild violets.

The toggle needed to be another leaf with a violet that fit onto the round leaf. After getting the width and length of the leaf correct, I added the decorative head pin and bent it to a circle.  I placed a tiny purple ball of polymer on top of the head and cured it all. 

Toggle set

When I placed it next to the knitted chain, the scale was really off.  The chain needs a big showy toggle set.  So that will be a future project.

This necklace was designed around the toggle.  I looked through odds and ends and tried several combinations.  The ribbon/copper wrapped bead, the polymer clay bead and the ceramic beads looked so good with the light green glass chips that I just had to use all of them.  I added the tiny seed beads and a few copper beads and started stringing. 

Polymer center bead flanked by ceramic beads

 
Ribbon andcopper wire bead

I used two strands of Beadalon on the side of the necklace that has the two green chip chains and one strand on the other side. The necklace is asymmetrical with the ribbon bead curved just at the neck.  The toggle set balances the 3 beads.  The scale is good and shows off the toggle set with the other elements supporting the design. 


It seems I work better designing with the elements in front of me rather than sketching first.  Sketching is not the difficult part.....following the sketch is!  Either way I start designing, I love to watch what happens.  And for once the necklace set is in my etsy store at the same time you are reading about it!  https://www.etsy.com/listing/129704420/wild-violet-necklace-and-earrings?ref=shop_home_active



Painted backside - Nature's Swirl

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Big Horn Sheep in the Mountains!



 















Driving along the winding road above Palm Desert California we enjoyed the mountains filled with desert plants -the yuccas were blooming - and the sun made the rises and the valleys dramatic. This time we spotted an animal with horns not far from the ridge... Big Horn Sheep!  The longer we looked the more of these amazing animals we saw. 


As usual we stopped to take pictures hoping there were surprises waiting to be discovered.
The body language of two young male sheep alerted me that something was about to happen.  I started watching and taking pictures.
Body Language says 'Something is going to happen!


Starting toward each other
 Their heads went down and they started toward each other.  The horns locked with a clunking sound we could hear from quite a distance.
Locking horns

Locked, Pushing and Pulling

Play continues

Stop! Dad's coming!

We're good!
 They wrangled some and all of a sudden they stopped and separated just as DAD showed up to stop the play.  It was really interesting to watch and even better to have some photos to share with you.  I used my Nikon 3000 with my telephoto lens.  If those male sheep had been older their horn locking could have lasted hours.

Want to know more about these animals? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One Solution to my Experimental Necklace



This is one of my solutions to the weak link in my Experimental Petal Neclace:
I cut the curls off the tops of my petals and added eyelets. 

Let me say that the Fiskar Eyelet kit I found on sale at Joann's a year ago really worked for this job. What a great little tool!



I was able to rewire the copper loops that attach to the chain and here you have it!  A little more wire but everything is stable and this should be lots of fun to wear.

Experimenting with this has increased my knowledge of polymer clay, its limits and possibilities.  Thanks to everyone for your interest and suggestions!

Friday, April 5, 2013

An Experiment - A Petal Necklace

I have an idea about making flowers from polymer clay and I know I will have to experiment to get the idea to become a reality.  I want to use translucent clay with some color and I want to control the shape of each petal.  I’m also thinking large rather than tiny.  I want the petals to glow as the light comes through.
Ready for the oven
I began by using Premo translucent clay and Premo 5504 Fushia.  I conditioned each one separately. The fushia was rolled on a 4 setting and the translucent clay between 2 pieces of rag paper on a 5 setting.  The translucent slab went down first.  Then I sliced the fushia into 3/8” strips and layed them criss-cross on the translucent.  My multi colored fushia, gold, and copper foil went down next and another slab of translucent on top of that.  I rolled all that on a 1 setting and then cut the petal shapes.  I made a general paper pattern and kept cutting it smaller as the petals got smaller.
Planning the Necklace

I also made a long coil and cut beads from the fushia clay. 
Getting ready for beads

Deciding how to attach the petals is tricky.  The last time I made ‘money plant’ discs of translucent clay I used a thin wire frame to give the discs structure.  I did not want to do that this time.  So I rolled the points thinking I could string through the loop for the necklace.  Turned out that was not strong enough.
Detail of Connection
After curing the petals, I used copper wire with brass tiny beads and made the wire wrapped loop.  I hoped the wire would give the petal enough structure to be secure. 
The beads were strung and I really like the way the petals fall and move.  I like the way the light comes through the petals.  And I love the colors and patterns. 
Light coming through the clay - photo taken at night!

Next test is wearing the necklace.  And as you can see in the last picture, one of the petals broke.  So my connections need to be stronger to support the cured clay better.  I’ll be experimenting with other ideas to correct this design weakness.
Broken Petal
 
Experimenting is all about learning!










Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Finding a Special Place - Hassayampa River Preserve

Vermillion Flycatcher
There is a place just northwest of Phoenix near Wickenburg AZ that draws birders and nature lovers.  It is a desert oasis with cottonwood trees, palm trees and a pond where frogs and water fowl are found. 
The Hassayampa River Preserve was purchased in 1986 by the Nature Conservancy and is being restored.  In the Sonoran Desert, riparian areas nourish cottonwood-willow forests, one of the rarest and most threatened forest types in North America. An estimated 90 percent of these critical wet landscapes have been lost, damaged or degraded in the last century. This loss threatens at least 80 percent of Arizona wildlife, which depend upon riparian habitats for survival.”  http://gosw.about.com/od/bestsightstosee/a/hassayampa.htm
The Hassayampa River courses 100 miles through the Sonoran Desert and most of the water flows underground.  It looks like a dry riverbed until you dig down a little ways and feel the moist sand.   In the preserve, the waters flow above ground all year.   One interpretation of ‘Hassayampa’ is ‘upside down river’.
There are lovely paths where you can find beautiful wildlife, birds (over 280 species have been spotted here) as well as desert plants.  It is a great place to meander and enjoy nature. 





And be sure to check the hours when you go!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Quilted Vest Is Finished!


Finished Vest!
My new vest is finished! And I love the way it turned out.  After quilting the diagonal lines (and yes, I had to take out stitches and redo a few times), I quilted the vertical and horizontal straight lines.  Now the fabric looks a little like pieces were sewn together.  
Quilting Finished
 My old vest looks better on the inside than the outside!  I cut the shoulder seams apart and decided that I could use it as a pattern and not do side seams.  I made bias strips to finish all the raw edges.  I machine stitched them on the right side of the fabric and hand stitched them in place on the back side for a nice finish.
The inside of the old vest used as a pattern
This is the back of the vest.  I'm so pleased that the hemline is straight and the finished edges are good. 
Back of finished vest

 It has been years since I made buttonholes.  I have to admit that I used language that my mother would not have approved during the buttonhole section!  Then I selected my handcrafted buttons made just for this vest and sewed them on.  DONE!  I will enjoy wearing this and will probably wear it to shreads also. 
Hand Made Polymer Buttons

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Replacing My Favorite Vest

Think about that one piece of clothing that is your absolute favorite.  What would you do if it were thread bare from wearing it and you could not find another even after combing the internet for days?

 I have a vest that I love.  It is silky, lightly quilted, made of several colors and patterns, fits perfectly, looked good with denim or slacks.  Sounds perfect doesn’t it?  Well, I’ve worn it to shreds and want another. 

I decided to make one.   First I bought a sack of silk sari strips and thought I would sew them together and then quilt them.  That sack sat and still sits in my closet.  I place the 1” to 3” strips on the table, looked at them and thought “Not in this lifetime”.   Thankfully I went to a fabric store in San Diego and found silky fabric that I love.  It is colorful and looks like blocks of different fabrics sewn together.  I bought it. 


My friend, Luana, went with me to Joann’s to buy light weight iron-on pellon and light weight interfacing.  She loaned me her quilting foot and offered a few tips.  I am quilting, on my small 30+ year old Elna sewing machine, a large piece of fabric that will make the vest….assuming I get the quilting part done.  There is a layer of silky fabric with the iron-on light weight pellon, a layer of very soft interfacing and then a layer of the silky fabric and it all slips and puckers at its will.  I can only quilt at night after a glass of wine!  Otherwise my eyes cross.  The first night I took out the two lines of stitching twice and decided I should wait til the next night and try again!

 

I’ve finally got the hang of it. I used Luana’s suggestion of masking tape for a guide for straight stitching.  After figuring out part of the problem was the bias direction of my stitching, I pinned more and sewed one direction for one line and changed direction for the second.   I think I may finish by the end of the week and another bottle of wine.

 
This is one of those projects that I decided I just had to do and NEVER have to do again!





Friday, April 19, 2013

Wild Violet Necklace


Sometimes design just evolves.  I wanted to make a toggle set from polymer for a knitted green chain I made.  I started with Premo green, purple, light green, and translucent clay. 
I was thinking: 
floral - wild violets   http://www.garden.org/weedlibrary/?q=show&id=2397
green leaves
tiny formed flowers
green and purple
I also had decorative copper head pins and I wondered if I could incorporate those and make them connect the toggle set to the chain. 
I played with the circle and the cut out for the toggle.  As you can see I ended up with tiny purple flowers raised on translucent circles laying on green leaves.  And they reminded me of wild violets.

The toggle needed to be another leaf with a violet that fit onto the round leaf. After getting the width and length of the leaf correct, I added the decorative head pin and bent it to a circle.  I placed a tiny purple ball of polymer on top of the head and cured it all. 

Toggle set

When I placed it next to the knitted chain, the scale was really off.  The chain needs a big showy toggle set.  So that will be a future project.

This necklace was designed around the toggle.  I looked through odds and ends and tried several combinations.  The ribbon/copper wrapped bead, the polymer clay bead and the ceramic beads looked so good with the light green glass chips that I just had to use all of them.  I added the tiny seed beads and a few copper beads and started stringing. 

Polymer center bead flanked by ceramic beads

 
Ribbon andcopper wire bead

I used two strands of Beadalon on the side of the necklace that has the two green chip chains and one strand on the other side. The necklace is asymmetrical with the ribbon bead curved just at the neck.  The toggle set balances the 3 beads.  The scale is good and shows off the toggle set with the other elements supporting the design. 


It seems I work better designing with the elements in front of me rather than sketching first.  Sketching is not the difficult part.....following the sketch is!  Either way I start designing, I love to watch what happens.  And for once the necklace set is in my etsy store at the same time you are reading about it!  https://www.etsy.com/listing/129704420/wild-violet-necklace-and-earrings?ref=shop_home_active



Painted backside - Nature's Swirl

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Big Horn Sheep in the Mountains!



 















Driving along the winding road above Palm Desert California we enjoyed the mountains filled with desert plants -the yuccas were blooming - and the sun made the rises and the valleys dramatic. This time we spotted an animal with horns not far from the ridge... Big Horn Sheep!  The longer we looked the more of these amazing animals we saw. 


As usual we stopped to take pictures hoping there were surprises waiting to be discovered.
The body language of two young male sheep alerted me that something was about to happen.  I started watching and taking pictures.
Body Language says 'Something is going to happen!


Starting toward each other
 Their heads went down and they started toward each other.  The horns locked with a clunking sound we could hear from quite a distance.
Locking horns

Locked, Pushing and Pulling

Play continues

Stop! Dad's coming!

We're good!
 They wrangled some and all of a sudden they stopped and separated just as DAD showed up to stop the play.  It was really interesting to watch and even better to have some photos to share with you.  I used my Nikon 3000 with my telephoto lens.  If those male sheep had been older their horn locking could have lasted hours.

Want to know more about these animals? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One Solution to my Experimental Necklace



This is one of my solutions to the weak link in my Experimental Petal Neclace:
I cut the curls off the tops of my petals and added eyelets. 

Let me say that the Fiskar Eyelet kit I found on sale at Joann's a year ago really worked for this job. What a great little tool!



I was able to rewire the copper loops that attach to the chain and here you have it!  A little more wire but everything is stable and this should be lots of fun to wear.

Experimenting with this has increased my knowledge of polymer clay, its limits and possibilities.  Thanks to everyone for your interest and suggestions!

Friday, April 5, 2013

An Experiment - A Petal Necklace

I have an idea about making flowers from polymer clay and I know I will have to experiment to get the idea to become a reality.  I want to use translucent clay with some color and I want to control the shape of each petal.  I’m also thinking large rather than tiny.  I want the petals to glow as the light comes through.
Ready for the oven
I began by using Premo translucent clay and Premo 5504 Fushia.  I conditioned each one separately. The fushia was rolled on a 4 setting and the translucent clay between 2 pieces of rag paper on a 5 setting.  The translucent slab went down first.  Then I sliced the fushia into 3/8” strips and layed them criss-cross on the translucent.  My multi colored fushia, gold, and copper foil went down next and another slab of translucent on top of that.  I rolled all that on a 1 setting and then cut the petal shapes.  I made a general paper pattern and kept cutting it smaller as the petals got smaller.
Planning the Necklace

I also made a long coil and cut beads from the fushia clay. 
Getting ready for beads

Deciding how to attach the petals is tricky.  The last time I made ‘money plant’ discs of translucent clay I used a thin wire frame to give the discs structure.  I did not want to do that this time.  So I rolled the points thinking I could string through the loop for the necklace.  Turned out that was not strong enough.
Detail of Connection
After curing the petals, I used copper wire with brass tiny beads and made the wire wrapped loop.  I hoped the wire would give the petal enough structure to be secure. 
The beads were strung and I really like the way the petals fall and move.  I like the way the light comes through the petals.  And I love the colors and patterns. 
Light coming through the clay - photo taken at night!

Next test is wearing the necklace.  And as you can see in the last picture, one of the petals broke.  So my connections need to be stronger to support the cured clay better.  I’ll be experimenting with other ideas to correct this design weakness.
Broken Petal
 
Experimenting is all about learning!










Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Finding a Special Place - Hassayampa River Preserve

Vermillion Flycatcher
There is a place just northwest of Phoenix near Wickenburg AZ that draws birders and nature lovers.  It is a desert oasis with cottonwood trees, palm trees and a pond where frogs and water fowl are found. 
The Hassayampa River Preserve was purchased in 1986 by the Nature Conservancy and is being restored.  In the Sonoran Desert, riparian areas nourish cottonwood-willow forests, one of the rarest and most threatened forest types in North America. An estimated 90 percent of these critical wet landscapes have been lost, damaged or degraded in the last century. This loss threatens at least 80 percent of Arizona wildlife, which depend upon riparian habitats for survival.”  http://gosw.about.com/od/bestsightstosee/a/hassayampa.htm
The Hassayampa River courses 100 miles through the Sonoran Desert and most of the water flows underground.  It looks like a dry riverbed until you dig down a little ways and feel the moist sand.   In the preserve, the waters flow above ground all year.   One interpretation of ‘Hassayampa’ is ‘upside down river’.
There are lovely paths where you can find beautiful wildlife, birds (over 280 species have been spotted here) as well as desert plants.  It is a great place to meander and enjoy nature. 





And be sure to check the hours when you go!