The Quilts They Are Finished!!!

I started making these quilts in 2011 right after I made Nathan’s baby quilt which was my first quilt. (I am not a quilter, so I decided I should start out with something small.) Ok, ok, it only took me four years to finish these, but I didn’t work on them continuously.

quilts

I started with sewing scraps of fabric together just to get a quilting mojo thing going.  Then I started buying old clothes at thrift stores and taking them apart for the fabric.  Some friends gave me fabric.  Someone across the street threw out boxes and boxes of great fabric!  I bought fabric sample books
on eBay and a box of scraps from a quilt maker on  Etsy.

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Gradually, I settled on  Log Cabin Pattern.  Since the idea of making the blocks all the same made me want to stick a needle in my eye, I decided to make them all different and had fun with each one.  The only rule was that the colors had to work.  Oh,  and I settled on a size of 12 inches square for each finished block.  I taught myself to chain piece and I became a quilt block berserker for a while.

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The quilts are 6 blocks across and eight blocks long

Headboard

 Years  ago, I painted a headboard  on my wall.  Makes it hard to rearrange the furniture!

Nightstand

My husband said he quit drinking in case he woke up one day and looked at his night stand.  This is from my painted furniture phase.

Quilt Back

I made my own binding, machine sewed it to the front of the quilts and hand sewed it to the back.  Here’s a good quilt binding tutorial.

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I used fleece blankets as the filling and flannel sheets on the back.  I machine quilted by stitching in the ditch around the  blocks.  It wasn’t that difficult with a walking foot.

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The view through the mirror on the wall.  This is the companion piece to the nightstand.

I don’t have plans to make another quilt although I do have a third quilt top left over.  It could happen!

Turn An Old Skirt into Something New!

I wanted a dreamy looking leather satchel in a soft, buttery leather only I didn’t want to shell out a couple hundred dollars for it. I saw a cool looking black leather skirt in a thrift shop and I suppose they were having a hard time moving it because it was marked down to $7.00. I grabbed a back leather belt for $2.00 and away I went!

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I turned the skirt inside out and marked there I wanted to cut it.  Since the skirt was lined, I could skip lining the tote.

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I had to decide how to work around the zipper and  decided that I would  make a seam there and remove it.

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I’m glad I scanned the Internet for tips (see end of post) because I got myself some heavy duty needles which helped immensely.  The leather I used was thin-it had been a skirt after all, and the Singer Slant-O-Matic had no trouble handling it.  Plus it glided smoothly because the lining and not the leather was making contact with the sewing machine.

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I cut the handles from a thick leather belt which was very hard to cut.  I used a utility blade.

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I attached the handles to the body of the bag with grommets I bought at Harbor Freight.

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I stitched the  handles to the top of the bag with a sewing awl, also from Harbor Freight.  You can see that I had to make the holes with a drill, but the awl was great for passing the thread back and forth between the holes.

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I installed a magnetic purse snap and I had a leather tote for under $10.00!

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Here’s another one made from a suede thrift store skirt

This tutorial from sewbeittudio.com was very helpful.  I also liked this one from the Vintage Ramble blog.

And here is a good video to get you started.

 

Recycling Ideas From My Workshop

My friends call me “thrifty.”  Maybe my penchant for reusing things comes from having parents who lived during the Great Depression and were always trying to out do one another with stories of how poor they were.  My father recalled having to eat chicken skin, chicken fat and gristle at dinner because his mother “paid for that too.”  Little did they know that with some imagination, some secret ingredients and a whole lotta cooking fat, they could have made the first chicken nuggets and ended that Great Depression  at least as far as they were concerned.  But I digress. (Why do I always do that?)  Here are some examples of how I’ve been recycling.

Unraveling Sweater

I bought this Man’s size large Shetland wool sweater at a thrift ship for $5.99 so I could take it apart and reuse the wool.

Unaveled Yarn

Taking a sweater apart can be tedious but who doesn’t love a challenge?

Ball

One big ball of yard and lots of sweater left to unravel.

316 rods

I wanted some fatter lamp working mandrels.  These are about 5 mm.  I got them from a discontinued  Ikea storage cart.  I think they are aluminum but they work fine although not as well as steel.

Cheerios

Now I can make beads that look like Cheerios!

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I had to stop eating cheese because of a medical problem and had no trouble finding a new role for the cheese grater.

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Cheese graters hold lots of earrings.    You could blast it with a coat of spray paint (minus the earrings of course) to give it a new look.  Make sure the holes don’t get clogged though.

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Here’s a silicone mat with little fingery things meant to be used for drying  crystal wine glasses.  I got mine on sale for about $5.00.

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They’re a great tool for coating small items with resin .  Place your cabochon or what have you on the mat and pour.  The excess resin runs into the mat and when it cures, simply pop it off!   Here’s a link to a similar mat that Amazon sells.  You could probably find a better deal or snatch one up at a yard sale.

Here’s a good video on sweater deconstruction and yarn harvesting.

On-Line Ideas and Inspiration for Jewelry Makers

I troll the Internet in search of ideas and inspiration.  Here are some new finds and some old favorites I want to share:

Nancy LT Hamilton offers free metalsmithing videos on sawing, riveting, soldering,  making findings and other techniques.  She offers a few metal working tools and her site is full of  useful  information about tools, metal, measuring, ring sizing, drill bits and more.

Beaducation sells jewelry making tools, books. DVDs and findings.  In addition paid on line classes,  Beaducation offers  free on line classes in several mediums including metalsmithing, felting, resin jewelry making  and beading

Brenda Sue Lansdowne  sells cool  vintage jewelry supplies on her web site, B’Sue Boutique  and her  blog, Jewelry Making Outside the Box  is chock full of interesting information.   She also offers free on line videos  showing how she uses her products to make eye-catching  mixed media jewelry.  The videos and blog are great places to get ideas and inspiration.

Speaking of ideas and inspiration,  I found these silver plated serving forks at a flea market.  I plan to saw off the handles and make the serving ends into pendants. 

If you think you have seen it all when it comes to jewelry made from spoons, knives or forks, you must watch this  video  by Italian Artist Giovanni Scafuro.



Art in the Open: Brian Dennis

When my friend Jeri told me that her friend Brian was participating in the second Philadelphia Art in the Open, which  took place  on June 9-12, 2011,  I was itching to go. I had never seen one of his installations “in person” before, but I had seen The Brian Dennis Project – a film documenting  how he designed a wooden installation  that seemed to defy gravity and then built it on a staircase inside the Philadelphia Art Alliance in 2004.   (To see pictures of  the installation, “Leaning Keep,” press here.)

Art in the Open aims to  give a different perspective on the creative process by inviting the public to watch artists working outdoors and, consequently, enabling artists to draw inspiration directly the environment.  In Philadelphia, this is an urban environment.  So it seemed appropriate that Brian had decided to build giant towers under a bridge near the  Waterworks.   

On our drive there, Jeri told me that Brian built the towers from  wooden coffee stirrers.   Talk about the environment having an effect on the creative process!  We wondered how the towers had withstood thunderstorms the night before.  Were they still there?  What would they look like?

We met Brian standing in front of his installation answering people’s questions and talking  about the challenges of building an art installation on a steep, rocky incline under a bridge trestle during a heat wave.  But he wasn’t alone; he  explained good naturedly  how a family of   baby rats, a  garter snake and a  suspicious groundhog watched his every move.  And take it from me, Philadelphia groundhogs are tough!  Brian knew enough not to mess with the groundhog (he was on the groundhog’s turf, after all) and he completed the installation.    To see the installation as it looked when Brian finished it, press here

But then it rained and the installation took on a different form.  Not what Brian had planned.  Even so, his installation  caught the attention of everyone who passed by the next day.

Here are some pictures.  

And a couple who had just gotten married had the courage to climb up under the bridge to have some wedding photographs taken next to Brian’s creation.  I wonder if the rats, snake and groundhog minded?

 To go to Brian’s web site, press here.    To go to his blog, which contains in-depth information about the creation of the installation, press here.

Jewelry from the Trash Can

I have been exploring textile arts and learning  techniques for incorporating them into jewelry.  And making up a few of my  own.  The bracelets below are from recycled materials:  old clothing dyed, stamped, painted and shredded, cast off electrical wire stripped and straightened, scrap stained glass tumbled and drilled, some gilded twigs from the sidewalk, pieces of old jewelry, and old plastic bangles or wire forms,  There is no plan; I just start to wrap and embellish.   I hit some of the bracelets with a heat gun to see how it would affect the fabric.  Depending on the fabric, it will burn, seal the frayed edges, or melt the fabric to reveal  what’s beneath.  I got this idea from a video by  Textile  and Mixed Media Artist Maggie Ayres.  There is so much information out there.  Don’t limit yourself to what you already know or think you have to take a class (unless you are learning how to use a torch, or another technique where proper safety instruction is vital).   Don’t be afraid to try something new!

New Ideas for Making Jewelry from Spoons

A couple of years ago, I posted a tutorial on making a bracelet from old spoons that proved to be quite popular.  Here are examples of more types of jewelry you can make from old spoons.

Here’s a torch enameled spoon bowl pendant that I drilled  for a jump ring before enameling.   The copper ring is a big jump ring soldered shut, hammered flat and textured.  When my friend Terri saw it, she remarked that she would have used the concave part of the spoon bowl instead of the convex side as I did.  Which opens up a bunch of new design possibilities that I plan to explore.

Here are two pairs of earrings made from different parts of the spoon handle.  First, I cut the pieces to the proper length and filed them smooth.  I filed a gentle curve on the top pair because I think it looks more attractive than a straight edge.  Then I drilled holes and filed off the burs.  I patinated them in liver of sulfur,  and made ear wires from fine silver on which I had previously balled the ends.  After inserting the wires through the holes in the earrings I gently hammered fhe balls flat so the  wire would stay in place and the earrings would hang  properly.  Finally, I smoothed the  other end of the wires with a cup bur in a rotary tool.

Mixing It Up

This year, I’ve  gone from a metal and soldering frenzy to a  lamp working frenzy, to a  glass and ceramics tumbling frenzy, to a glass fusing frenzy, to a felting frenzy.  Every so often, I get in the torch enameling.  And there are always the seed beading designs I’m  working on.  Did I mention that I ruin a lot of stuff?  But some of the metal can be recycled and most of it started out as recycled anyway. (I used to have a lovely let of brass charger plates.)   The fused glass can be cut up and refused.  The lamp working failures can be turned into frit or  become elements in fused pieces so long as you keep the COE straight.  And you can use an ugly felted bead as a base for another bead.

I decided to combine the polymer beads and lamp work into a necklace and make a clasp. The polymer beads are interspersed with the lamp worked beads.  Many of the lamp worked beads are fumed with silver and the focal  bead is hollow .  For for the clasp. I made jump rings and soldered them to copper washers from Harbor Freight that I textured with my home made texturing hammers.  I’m not sure if I am happy with all of the polymer beads; I might make  some new polymer beads at Clayathon .    But here’s what I have so far.

Summer’s End in Sara and Susan’s Garden

September

O GOLDEN month! How high thy gold is heaped!
The yellow birch-leaves shine like bright coins strung
On wands; the chestnut’s yellow pennons tongue
To every wind its harvest challenge. Steeped
In yellow, still lie fields where wheat was reaped;
And yellow still the corn sheaves, stacked among
The yellow gourds, which from the earth have wrung
Her utmost gold. To highest boughs have leaped
The purple grape,–last thing to ripen, late
By very reason of its precious cost.
O Heart, remember, vintages are lost
If grapes do not for freezing night-dews wait.
Think, while thou sunnest thyself in Joy’s estate,
Mayhap thou canst not ripen without frost!
Helen Hunt Jackson

Embrace Autumn!  If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, try to catch one of these special events

Green Bathroom Redo

The thought of doing a major renovation gives me the shakes.  Maybe that’s why I still have wall to wall carpet 20 years after moving into my house.  Until I can gird my loins and steel myself  in preparation for moving furniture, ripping up things and upsetting the cat,  I will have to content myself with room by room redecorating.

I don’t have any before pictures of my bathroom, but let me give you an idea:  the tub, toilet and sink were an  indescribable yellow somewhere between mustard and school bus.  We had an ugly plastic medicine cabinet with make up lights and three mirrored doors that were corroded.  There was no storage space for cleaning supplies or anything else.  The bathroom was cluttered.  In a moment of weakness, I had painted the walls yellow with blue and green accent.  It looked OK 20 years ago, but was starting to grate on me.

I wanted something relaxing, where I could get rid of clutter yet find things when I needed them.  We had to replace the toilet two years ago, and I wanted the sink and tub to match.  The tile was in good shape and  I didn’t  want to spend a lot of money.  We had the tub reglazed, and replaced the sink.  The mirror cost five dollars at a sidewalk sale.  The cherry medicine chest came from ebay. The two decker wire basket was another cheap house sale find.  The rug was free-I found it in a free bin at a local thrift store.  It was filthy, so I soaked it in dish washing powder and warm water for a couple of days. Now it looks like new.

I altered the toilet paper holder and spray painted the waste can and towel rack to match the brushed nickel fixtures we got at Home Depot.  Throw in two  storage cabinets and baskets from Ikea, and the cost for everything including the plumber and electrician (but not the toilet) was just under one thousand dollars.

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And while we’re on the subject of re purposing and reusing,  here’s a picture of bookshelves I made  by inserting an old ladder I found into a small niche in our upstairs hall way.   I nailed boards onto the ladder steps and  the scalloped ornamentation on the front is made from Dollar Store place mats I painted to match.