My Sewing Teacher

I’ve posted before about the sewers in my family and have even shown a sewing project of my own.  I  would like to tell you about my sewing teacher.  She’s my mother, Rosemary, and I wish I still have some of the lovely things she made for me when I was growing up.  OK,   I admit they weren’t all lovely.  I remember that pair of bell bottom pants, only Rosemary didn’t have a pattern for bell bottoms, so she made  wide legs.   And since I had wide legs already, the pants had w-i-d-e legs.   The fabric came from the remnant  pile at a local fabric store and was a garish black and blue striped double knit, ( new at the time.)  My mother loved double knit fabric because she didn’t have to iron it.  I swear, this woman would iron anything-even washcloths.  Well, maybe not washcloths, but she did iron our sheets and my father’s underwear. 

The pants were so loud that a group of kids who were a block down the street  howled  the first time I wore them outside.    Had I known about Christo in those days,  maybe I could have pretended to be an art installation or something. 

But  my mother took a sewing class with her friend Peg  and  finally  came into her own  as a seamstress.  Her work was impeccable.  She made me tops, pants, dresses, suits, slips and even a coat.  While I could never talk her out of the remnant pile (she was a Depression kid), I was proud to wear the things she made for me and never hesitated to announce that “my mother made it.”   Her special touch could make cheap fabric look good.  And I monitored the fabric selection after the baggy pants incident.

Rosemary taught me cross stitch and embroidery when I was little, how to thread a needle and how to make minor repairs on garments without sewing them to my pants.  But it wasn’t until after my father died and I got to spend long periods of time with her that I got more serious about the sewing.   I never was much into making clothes, but she taught me how to make pillows, curtains and slipcovers.  One time I went to visit her when she lived  in Florida, I carried two of my couch cushion covers in my suitcase.  She taught me how to make a pattern from them, how to make box cushions and how to sew piping.  I still use the patterns we made more than 20 years ago.

Rosemary doesn’t sew anymore.  She has Alzheimer’s disease.  I moved her to Philadelphia about five years ago and she lives in a nice facility where my brother and I can see her on a regular basis. They have activities in the Memory Ward  where Rosemary has a cute little room.  She painted this picture  a few months ago.

Sometimes Rosemary knows me and sometimes she doesn’t but we always have a nice time when we are together.  It amazes me that I still enjoy her company.   Before she was stricken with the disease, I interviewed her and other relatives for a family history, so I know the story of how she met my father,  what Christmas was like when she was growing up,  the name she gave her favorite doll,  and other things about her life.

 There is a song that says, “Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you.”  So what remains when the memories are gone?   Love is always there if you are open to it.

My Palette, Color Scales and an Exercise

As I continue to work my way through Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, I am finding new color formulas and combinations that are more interesting than the color palettes I was most comfortable with when I started.

I am currently making color scales (with side diversions into mold making and resin jewelry-I’ll post on that later) and finding that color mixtures I thought would be attractive don’t interest me at all and formulas that I never dreamed would have worked are wowing me. It’s one surprise after the other. I am starting to see the bigger color picture.

After doing the collages, I mixed my personal palette based on combinations of fuchsia, cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue. The pictures below show the resulting color scales, the collage they’re based on, and the pinch petal necklace exercise. (You make a multi part Skinner Blend from your palette colors, wrap it around a black and white Skinner Blend, and make petal beads in gradating colors that you have to keep in order while baking and stringing them.)  I like my necklace, which I’ve strung  on memory wire,  but I think my personal palette is no longer my favorite palette. Am I palette fickle?   After I finish the color scales, I’ll reassess. And so the journey continues.

More Fun with Color Collages

I forgot to include the twisties and turnies made with the green and purple Skinner Blend in  last week’s post. So, here they are. The inside of the blend is .75 oz zinc yellow and .50 oz green that I tinted with a smidgen of white until I got the color I wanted. The purple is .75 oz purple and .25 oz ultramarine blue.

It’s a lot easier easier to test mix colors in small batches. I’ve started working with clay sheeted on the pasta machine’s thickest setting and cut with a 3/4 inch Kemper cutter. I can divide the squares and make tiny test samples while still keeping track of the proportions. It saves time and clay.

And Now on to the collages!  In Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, Maggie Maggio and Lindley Haunani suggest taking  a few of your collages, cutting them into strips and then  reassembling them into a strip collage  to get the overall feel of the color combinations.        I did my cutting and pasting on my computer and the exercise gave me a new perspective on the colors I chose. All this information is still piling up in my brain and I’m not sure where I’m going with it yet. But it’s fun and interesting

Here are some examples of my strip collages.

I wanted to examine the relative values of my color choices so I made grayscale versions of the collages. To see what my collages look like in grayscale, press here.

Collages and Color Choices

In my post on Clayathon 2010, I mentioned that I continued to work through Polymer Clay Color Inspirations while I was there.

I went armed with a notebook filled with collages I put together in a collage making frenzy a few weeks before. I’m not going to mention how many I made, but I had so much fun experimenting with different colors and palates that I will probably die with collages.

I read the Ruffle Spiral Brooch project and started making Skinner Blends. Then I decided to diverge from the book and started making twisties and turnies from the colors I mixed to go with the collages. I don’t plan to do anything with them; I was simply trying to stretch beyond my color comfort zone and see if I could mix colors that looked happy on the collages. Here are the results.

Here are a few of the Tasting Tiles I made.    Betcha can’t make just one.

I’ll put up more pictures of the exercises as I work my way through the book.