Various & Sundry #13

Ruth over at Pippin Sequim posted a great tutorial on Orange Peel quilting. She demonstrated how to do it at our last BAMQG meeting.

Quilt World News

Quilt Week Oct 2012
Quilt Week Oct 2012

The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky will host an exhibit called Themes and Variations in Judy Martin’s Quilts, featuring 25 of Judy’s quilts. It will run from December 12, 2012 to March 11, 2013. I love her quilts and most of her books (recent ones have been too project based for me) because the designs are unique and interesting and her directions are impeccable. Go see the show and report back if you are in the neighborhood.

Remember a while ago I went on a bit about the Modern Quilt Movement and what it meant? One of the students wrote her thesis on this issue for the University of Nebraska (presumably at Lincoln?). Read it and let me know what you think.

The San Jose Museum exceeded their fundraising goal by raising over $46,000 at their most recent event. Due to a small deficit at the end of their fiscal year, the Board of Directors of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles has unanimously voted to close the Museum on Tuesdays beginning October 1st . This closure is in addition to the long standing Monday closure. They said that it was not an easy decision and they will  be cutting some overhead costs, and allowing existing staff to focus on programs and services to enhance our outstanding exhibition schedule and other Museum activities. The board charged the new Executive Director to analyze our resources and it was decided that the Museum was over-extended by being in operation for six days a week. The Board has made no decision as to how long this Tuesday closing will be in effect. The Board hopes that their supporters and community members will continue to visit Wednesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm beginning October 1. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Christine Jeffers, who can be reached through the website.

Around and About the Web
Carrefour du Patchwork was held recently and I was pleased to find that there’s now a slideshow of quilts on their website. If you’re interested, you can find it here:


My friend, Kathy, over at Bliss Habits is hosting a book group using The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron as part of her Bliss Habits Book Club. Chel Micheline, of Ginger Blue Studio and Tuesday with Chel on Bliss Habits will be the hostess. She writes about the concept of the book group for this book in a blog post from a week or so ago.

EPP Stars

EPP Stars Sept. 2012
EPP Stars Sept. 2012

I have made some more progress on the English Paper Piecing Project I told you about in August.

I make about one of these stars per night depending on whether I have basted the half hexagons beforehand or not.

Faye did hers with rows of light and dark stars, as I mentioned, but my plan is to use dots on white as the alternate rows. This is a long term project. It is so I have something to do in front of the television when I am out of bindings to stitch down. I don’t know if I will ever finish this quilt, but I might get sick of it and just decide to finish it once I have made thousands of the stars.

I am still kind of working out how large to cut pieces and what pieces to cut. I have decided to leave out blacks and also dark greys, though I do have a medium grey that I will leave in for the time being.

Lil Sissy Prezzies


My little sister (taller than me, BTW) is back from France. With her came some presents. I have a nice sister. 😉

The black Eiffel Tower print is the one I picked out when I bought my Kindle cover off of Etsy. I like it.

I have an idea for a quilt that I want to make for Lil Sissy, but haven’t found the right fabric. I don’t think Eiffel Tower fabric would work, but we will see. I almost used Hello Luscious, but she is not much of a pink girl and that line has a lot of pink.

Creative Prompt #176: Pour

Make your response simple. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. Take 5 minutes. Just respond and create a creative habit.

Please post the direct URL (link) where your drawing, doodle, artwork is posted (e.g. your blog, Flickr) in the comments area of this post. I would really like to keep all the artwork together and provide a way for others to see your work and/or your blog, and how your work relates to the other responses.

The Creative Prompt Project has a Flickr group, which you can join to post your responses. Are you already a member? I created that spot so those of you without blogs or websites would have a place to post your responses. Please join and look at all of the great artwork that people have posted.

Definition:?[pawr, pohr] verb (used with object) 1. to send (a liquid, fluid, or anything in loose particles) flowing or falling, as from one container to another, or into, over, or on something: to pour a glass of milk; to pour water on a plant. 2. to emit or propel, especially continuously or rapidly: The hunter poured bullets into the moving object. 3. to produce or utter in or as in a stream or flood (often followed by out ): to pour out one’s troubles to a friend.

pour cement

when it rains it pours

pour wine

Pour Wine and Spirits Boutique

pour me a drink

pour – for, in French

If you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human being can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby “it.”  T. S. Eliot

Book Review: Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!

Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!: Make Stylish Shrink Plastic JewelryShrink! Shrank! Shrunk!: Make Stylish Shrink Plastic Jewelry by Kathy Sheldon

I have to admit that I was kind of shocked when I opened the package that held this book. My immediate thought was Shrinky Dinks? Jewelry? Really?

I had some Shrinky Dinks as a kid, but not many. I think they must have been too expensive and, perhaps, messy. We made some shrink plastic Christmas ornaments a few years ago, but I don’t remember the circumstances. Apparently, Shrink plastic is back and you can wear what you make to work!

There are about 30 jewelry projects in this book and they are quite interesting. They range from earrings and necklaces to cameos! Remember those? The book starts off with a history of Shrink plastic filled introduction. My favorite part of the beginning of the book was the very funny “Shrink Plastic Basics” (pg.10). She gives the scientific name, which sounds scary, but has some potential for entertaining wordplay in it. She also reassures us about the safety aspects of the plastic.

Lark books all have comprehensive materials lists and this is no exception. This is a fun list, because you can use a lot of different art supplies to decorate your projects including and inkjet printer, colored pencils and rubber stamps! The same tools you used in your other jewelry making projects can be used here. There is also a lot of talk of sanding the plastic, which scares me a little bit.

The Basics section also covers decorating your project, using scrapbook punches and coloring the designs. Ms. Sheldon covers my anxiety of the pieces curling as well.

The projects start on page 27, so you know that the “how-to” section is quite substantial. The projects come from different artists and crafters as well as Ms. Sheldon. While most of the projects were not my style, I didn’t see any that I hated. I liked the colors and styling of the Mexican Oilcloth Necklace (pg.48-49) by Jalene Hernandez. The simple look of the Simple Circle Neclace (pg.52-53) was very appealing. I really liked the idea of the Not-Your-Grandmother’s Cameo (pg.57-59) project as well. There were a few 3D projects, which shows the flexibility of the materials.

There are templates and patterns in the back as well as short biographies of the project artists and (YAY!) and index.

This whole book – colors, page layouts, style- has a fun feel to it and that made it pleasant to read.

View all my reviews

Other Marking Techniques

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Saral Transfer Paper. Frances mentioned it on her podcast (Episode 96), but still seemed unsure, so I thought I would write about the other tools I use for quilting (sewing 3 layers together not making an entire quilt).

I am liking the Saral Transfer Paper as I work on the whole cloth quilt. It does come off easily, so I have to darken the lines a bit as I move through the quilting process, but that is ok with me.

I don’t think it is possible, at least I have not found a way to mark and entire quilt and keep the markings on through the entire quilting process. If I want special designs, I will draw them on one block at a time with one of the 3 methods that work for me. Yes, this can be a bit annoying, but it is good excuse for me to stop, take a rest and stretch.

Marking Implements
Marking Implements

I use other tools for marking.

I am not much of a quilter. I send most of my quilts out, but every now and then I get a wild hair (as Pam says) every once in a while and quilt a quilt. The Nonce pencil is a little hard and flaky. It is easier to use on a hard surface (e.g. NOT fabric), but that doesn’t really work for me. I use it with stencils. It works on most colors except for the very light ones.

The Roxanne pencil is much softer and works for a lot of colors from light to dark. I use this for lighter fabrics. Sometimes it doesn’t show up on the mid-range colors.

I have been using the Sewline pencils, primarily, to darken the Saral lines that have faded a bit. I could use this tool for marking a whole quilt as well, but I would need a stencil or a good idea in my mind and confidence. This works for me.

The Chalkoner is also good for darkening up lines right before you quilt them.

I mostly do not wash my quilts, so washing out paper or whatever isn’t an option. It also makes my head hurt to think about the damage to my washer. I have enough handwork and don’t want to use tweezers enough, so I would avoid sewing over paper.

I have always been afraid of the blue washaway pens, so I haven’t tried them. I haven’t tried the Dritz paper and I am allergic to everything so try and minimize chemically smells in my house. I don’t use Pounce either, because I want to avoid particles floating around the air. I am concerned about the Glad Press & Seal method, but I don’t know anything about it, so will have to reserve judgment.

The Organization of Hunting and Gathering

Sometime ago I wrote a generic post about organization in my workroom. My workroom is somewhat organized considering it isn’t large enough and I don’t have enough bookcases. 90% of the time I can find what I need and I am less and less surprised by things I come upon serendipitously.

One of the major things I do is, what I call, hunting and gathering. I prefer to make quilts, usually, that use a lot of fabrics. I think many different aquas will be more interesting than just one. This means that many projects, I need to cut a lot of patches from a wide variety of fabrics. It doesn’t work for me to decide to start such a project, open up a fabric bin and start cutting. I can’t stand that long, I get bored and the whole situation results in me hating the project or just stopping about halfway through. Also, if I use that strategy, I get tend to have too many of one color and not enough of others. None of this is good for my stress level and definitely not they way I want my quiltmaking to be.

Also, I don’t know of a way to really randomize this type of fabric selection. Cutting from fabrics I buy new or pull out to use seems like as good a way as any. Also, as an added bonus, I use fabrics that I like right now immediately.

Another problem I had was that I would take fabrics out of bins and NOTHING would be cut from them. Not one square or anything. Shameful! This problem was alleviated by the Fabric of the Year project, which TFQ thought up and I ran with. You can read about the beginnings of that project for me in a post from 2008. Doing this kind of started the solution to my Hunting and Gathering.

As I got use to cutting one shape, the Fabric of the Year shape, out of new fabrics, it became easier to cut more than one shape. I thought it was a good idea and it became easier to use this new system to make progress on projects I was not yet ready to start sewing. Pretty soon I was up to the number of pieces I am cutting now. The other thing is that the fabrics became less precious. I started not to save them for a better project. I also knew, which I have talked about in terms of the FOTY projects, that I knew which fabrics were going to work for other projects so I could go and buy more before it was 3 years later and too late to go and buy more.

Cutting Chart
Cutting Chart

In addition to the above I also cut 2.5″x4.5″ pink rectangles, 2″ red squares and 2″ aqua or turquoise squares.

The idea is that after I identify a project I want to make that requires a ton of cutting, I  figure out what kind of cutting I need to do (coordinated fabrics or scrappy fabrics as well as size). Either can work with my system. Then I put the shape and color on my list. I keep the list near my cutting table so when I have a new piece of fabric (after washing and ironing) I know exactly what to cut. By now I have a sense of how much fabric these shapes will need (now approximately 5″x18″) and I know by the size of the hole in the fabric whether I am finished.

The bonus result of this cutting is that fabrics became less precious to me. There are many fewer fabrics that are free from any kind of cutting. I make progress on projects that require a lot of cutting and  I get to see new fabrics appear in projects I was making immediately.

One of the great things about cutting pieces from new fabrics is that it is a great warm-up. Sometimes when I need to get started, pressing fabric and cutting new pieces from new fabrics is a good way to get started. If I have 10 minutes, I can cut, feel like I made progress and got a little stress relief in.

Froggy Cat Bed

Cat Bed #2
Cat Bed #2

When Amanda had the new kits out at the BAMQG meeting earlier this month, I wanted to take them all. There were about 6, but I restrained myself and just took one. These cat beds are really easy to make and as an added bonus, I get to dump my schnibbles into the center as filling when I am done.

I had to do a bit of unsewing on this cat bed, as I put the wrong tail on the outside when sewing. You have to put the end you want to hide on the outside when sewing the middle strip to the ovals so that when you turn the cat bed right side out, the hemmed end will be on the outside. I started to unsew the entire thing and then realized I only had to unsew the ends. I did the unsewing then re-sewed and have another great cat bed for Amanda and the Homeless Cat Network.

Cat Bed #2 Side-ish View
Cat Bed #2 Side-ish View

One of the things I like about this project is that I can put my schnibbles in it.I save, as I have said, the bits that are really too small to save. I used to throw them out, but putting them inside cat beds is better. I had the ends of a quilt (that get cut off after machine quilting) that I also cut up and put inside this one.

The second photo shows more of the frog fabric used for the side. I hope the cat likes it.

Book Review: Necklaceology

Necklaceology: How to Make Chokers, Lariats, Ropes & MoreNecklaceology: How to Make Chokers, Lariats, Ropes & More by Candie Cooper

I like the name. It is interesting.

I like the cover. I can see the texture even though I can’t feel it.

I like the colors of the pages and variety of illustrations. The styling of the book is wonderful.

I like the interesting tools the author uses such as crochet hooks and clothespins.

The book is well illustrated with lots of little photographs sprinkled throughout. Even the table of contents is illustrated. Using this table of contents means that the reader gets an idea of what they will be looking at when they turn to the project page. I think this is one of the most entertaining tables of contents I have ever seen.

Like many of Lark’s books, the first section talks about materials and tools, types of beads, clasps, headpins and jump rings, as well as different types of chains. Non-metals are covered as well in the stringing materials section under ribbon & silk cording and yarn, hemp & nylon. It is nice to have options.

I really like the definitions of the lengths of chains. This is perfect to include in a book of necklaces and something that I have never seen. I have heard of opera-length, but never knew the exact length. I am now glad to know that an opera-length necklace is 28-34″ long. These are really good definitions. We all wear necklaces at some point and may have heard some of these terms, but the book spells them out for us.

Metal finishes, tools, adhesives and a brief section on abrasives and polishing compounds are also covered. Many of the techniques uses in the projects are covered in the ‘Techniques’ section. Lots of clear illustrations guide the reader through the words.

There are 40 projects in this book, which makes me think we quiltmakers are getting ripped off! 😉 I really like Roccoco Ribbon (pg.30-31), mostly because of the ribbon used, but also because of the color. Chronos (pg.32-34) also looks like a necklace I would wear. The beads in the Marie Antoinette (pg.) project really make that piece. I am not sure if those particular style of beads are prevalent, but the necklace would have to be re-imagined a bit if the beads are hard to find. I love the hot pink of those beads, though. The styles are so diverse among these projects that I think most people could find something they would enjoy making.

Many of the projects show variations, which is a great way to use the patterns/directions as jumping off points for your own creations.

Thanks to Lark Crafts for sending this book along. I appreciate your faith in my writing skills!

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Design Series: Form

Yes, Sandy and I are on a roll! If you have not listened to the previous podcast on shape, you might want to do so. Shape and form are related and listening to shape will help you when you listen to form.

Form is an element of design

Form can be thought of as the 3D version of shape


3D Form
3D Form


Just to confuse things further, the word Form is also used to describe a higher level of the design of art pieces, e.g. “Content implies subject matter, story, or information that the artwork seeks to communicate to the viewer. Form is purely visual aspect, the manipulation of various elements and principles of design. Content is what artists want to say; form is how they say it.” (Pentak & Lauer, pg.5) This is not the kind of form we are discussing in this podcast.

Architecture is the art form most concerned with three-dimensional volumes. Architecture creates three-dimensional shapes and volumes by enclosing areas within walls. (Pentak & Lauer, pg.138)

  • Susan Else creates quilt related architecture/forms.

“Volume and mass refer to the three-dimensional shapes of sculpture and architecture. Even though quilts have dimension in the relief created by quilting and embellishment, they are usually considered two-dimensional because the angle of viewing doesn’t critically change the image.” (The Quilter’s Book of Design, 2d, pg.58)

A Piece of a Flat globe n.6 Sculpture by Noriko Ambe (
A Piece of a Flat globe n.6 Sculpture by Noriko Ambe (

With three dimensional art, such as a sculpture, one can see how the object occupies space by walking around it, looking from above, below or from the side. Three dimensional objects have height, width and depth. With two dimensional art [like a quilt], the arrangement of objects on the design field can be crowded with lots of objects or nearly empty with very few objects. These design elements have height and width, but no depth. (A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design, pg.130)

The Form vs. Shape Conundrum

A shape is also sometimes “called a form. The two terms are generally [thought to be] synonymous and are often used interchangeably. ‘Shape’ is a more precise term because form has other meanings in art. For example, ‘form’ may be used in a broad sense to described the total visual organization of a work, including color, texture and composition. Thus, to avoid confusion,” and because we are going to use form in a different way for our purposes, the term ‘shape’ is more specific. (Pentak & Lauer, pg.136). Refer to the previous podcast on shape.

Sou Fujimoto - Inside/Outside Tree ”
Sou Fujimoto – Inside/Outside Tree ”

Source:Sou Fujimoto – Inside/Outside Tree ” Inside Outside, Inside Art



  • “A flat work, such as a painting” or a quilt, “can be viewed satisfactorily from only a limited number of angles, and offers approximately the same image from each angle, but three dimensional works can be viewed from countless angles as [the viewer] moves around them.” (Pentak & Lauer, pg.138)
  • Form and shape are areas or masses which define objects in space. Form and shape imply space; indeed they cannot exist without space. (Art Design & Visual Thinking
  • There are various ways to categorize form and shape. Form and shape can be thought of as either two dimensional or three dimensional. Two dimensional form has width and height. It can also create the illusion of three dimension objects. Three dimensional shape has depth as well as width and height. (Art Design & Visual Thinking

“Forms and shapes can be thought of as positive or negative. In a two dimensional composition, the objects constitute the positive forms, while the background is the negative space. For beginning art and design students, effective use of negative space is often an especially important concept to be mastered. An exercise in cut paper required the student to work with the same composition in black on white and white on black simultaneously. This exercise makes it difficult to ignore the background and treat it as merely empty space. The effective placement of objects in relation to the surrounding negative space is essential for success in composition.

Some artists play with the reversal of positive and negative space to create complex illusions. The prints of M. C. Escher … often feature interlocking images that play with our perception of what is foreground and what is background. Other artists take these illusions of positive and negative images to even greater lengths, hiding images within images. Perception of form and shape are conditioned by our ingrained “instinct” to impute meaning and order to visual data. When we look at an image and initially form an impression, there is a tendency to latch on to that conclusion about its meaning, and then ignore other possible solutions. This may make it hard to see the other images. Training the eye to keep on looking beyond first impressions is a crucial step in developing true visual literacy.”

(Art Design & Visual Thinking


Creative Prompt #175: Needle

eye of the needle

hypodermic needle

the batting needles well.



Space Needle, Seattle

broke a needle

needle felting

Cleopatra’s Needle, the name of three obelisks in London, Paris, and New York City

knitting needle

safe needle disposal


needle exchange programs

Needle gun

needle valve

needlenose pliers

Needle dam: A needle dam is a weir designed to maintain the level or flow of a river through the use of thin “needles” of wood. The needles are leaned against a solid frame and are not intended to be water-tight. Individual needles can be added or removed by hand to constrict the flow of the river, forming a sluice.

needle threader

Needle Bush (Vachellia farnesiana)

sewing needle

Crestone Needle, a mountain in Colorado, United States

Acupuncture needle

Needle Mountains, Colorado, United States

Gramophone needle

tattoo needle

Needle Rocks, Tasmania, Australia

Needles (Black Hills), a region of granite pillars in South Dakota, United States

Needles, California, United States

The Needles, three stacks of chalk off the Isle of Wight, England

The Needles, a district of Canyonlands National Park, Utah, United States

Sewing-Machine Needles, a group of three prominent rock needles near Rancho Point, Deception Island, Shetland Islands

The Needles, a series of granite spires in the Sequoia National Forest, California

upholstery needle

Make your response simple. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. Take 5 minutes. Just respond and create a creative habit.

Please post the direct URL (link) where your drawing, doodle, artwork is posted (e.g. your blog, Flickr) in the comments area of this post. I would really like to keep all the artwork together and provide a way for others to see your work and/or your blog, and how your work relates to the other responses.

The Creative Prompt Project has a Flickr group, which you can join to post your responses. Are you already a member? I created that spot so those of you without blogs or websites would have a place to post your responses. Please join and look at all of the great artwork that people have posted.

Pink & Green Donation Quilt

I know you must all be bored of seeing these checkerboard blocks put together one after another with little variation. I have to say that I am getting a tiny bit bored, but the color work is still interesting enough for me to keep making these pieces.

Pink & Green Donation Quilt blocks
Pink & Green Donation Quilt blocks

This quilt is taking me longer to get done. I am not sure why, aside from reasons I have discussed, and the usual busyness, but it seems to be taking forever. I am not working on a piecing project at the moment, so can’t move this quilt along using the leaders and enders technique, so that must be the problem.

I am pleased with the way it is coming out in general, though I do see some specific problems. Nota Bene: I really don’t want sympathy. I am learning by doing and reporting on what I find.

I don’t know why I chose this color combination. It is fun and kind of a trip down memory lane to the late 80s (??) and the Preppie Handbook. I almost never use green, so I needed to use some up. The back will be green as well. I also was kind of feeling like I would scream if I had to sew another black on white square to something else. Good time to take a break.

SIL pointed out that these blocks no longer look like a checkerboard. She is right. I paid special attention to only using the lighter pinks in this piece. I didn’t like the darker batik pinks mixed with the lighter pinks in the Pink Donation quilt. The values of the pinks and greens are mostly the same. That muddies the design. In some cases, I put in some darker greens and they stand out. If I were to make a pink and green quilt like this again, I would use the lighter pinks and darker greens. I might even use the same green for the ‘background’ squares.

Pink & Green Donation Quilt blocks with sashing
Pink & Green Donation Quilt blocks with sashing

I am now putting the blocks together. I sashed them all on Sunday, so it shouldn’t take me long to do the rest. I just didn’t feel like it.

One thing I did differently was cut the sashing down to 1.5″ finished (2″ cut). That means I had to cut .5″ off all of the sashing strips and cornerstones. The leavings will be stuffing for cat beds.

I think the slight change in with enhances the overall design. Small detail.

Perhaps when I make the perfect donation quilt, I will then move on to another pattern!

Book Review: Making Fabric Jewelry

Making Fabric Jewelry: 20+ Projects to Stitch, Fold, & WearMaking Fabric Jewelry: 20+ Projects to Stitch, Fold, & Wear by Marthe Le Van

Thanks to Lark for sending me this book to review! Since the holidays are coming, and birthdays seem to pile up on me constantly, I thought this would be a good book to review.

As with many of Lark’s books, this is primarily a project book. There are about 23 projects included, which run the gamut from bracelets and earrings to wristlets, brooches and chokers. The book includes the basics, project templates, bios of the designers and (YAY!!!) an index.

In the book’s introduction, the author contends that there is a revolution in jewelry going on in the world and that “personal adornment is getting a makeover…” (pg.6). Part of this revolution has to do with recycling and reuse that is so popular now, but the cost of extracting and transporting precious metals and gems cannot be ignored either (pg.6). The introduction reminds the reader that there are techniques in the book that help veer away from the patterns and the muse speaks. I always like it when books are tools in a journey rather than just a pattern book to be accomplished.

A variety of techniques and skill levels are represented from no-sew to machine stitching, stuffing and quilting. Something for everyone!

The ‘Basics’ section gives some details on the qualities and characteristics of different kinds of fabrics including canvas, corduroy, silk, tulle and organza. There is some helpful information that might inspire quiltmakers to put some of these fabrics into quilts when they are done with their jewelry.
I liked the few paragraphs on needles. They were helpful and I learned a thing or two. Hand and machine stitching are covered. The basic hand stitches have illustrations showing the reader how to create them. As with many “basics” sections, not everything can be covered. Whole books on almost every topic in this section have been written. Still, this ‘Basics’ section has a good overview and will definitely get a person started.

You will need some metal for these projects. Clasps, earring findings, jump rings, etc are all covered: what they are, where to find them and whether you can make your own each have a place. After a few pages about tools, some fundamentals on metal, a list of supplies and two pages on beads, the projects start.

The book is well illustrated with color photos on nearly every page. the photos illustrate the text or give examples of jewelry by the artist-designers. The font is easy to read and the writing is clear.

Each project has instructions with illustrations. At the end of each project are a few photos of similar or related projects by which the reader can be inspired.

Tulle is used in an interesting way in the Floating Tulle Earrings project (pg.46-49). I like the pods in the Chrysalis Neckpiece (pg.54-57), but I imagine a mobile in brighter colors made from the pods. The flower int he Lotus Choker & Earrings project (pg.66-71) could easily be reimagined as a brooch, a hat pin, embellishments on a quilt or bag. change the color of the petals and the center and you have a completely new flower. Sun-Kissed Lemons (pg.112-117) is a lovely machine embroidered and satin stitched piece.

The materials are interesting, too. One project (Jennifer Halvorson’s Laced Up, 2005, pg.87, an example) uses shoelaces. Tweeds and plaid wool, recycled from men’s clothing is also used (pg.88-91)

I think there is an underlying sense of inspiration in this book that encourages, by implication, readers to move on quickly from the projects and only using them as a jumping off point.

View all my reviews

Magic Garden

Magic Garden Mosaic
Magic Garden Mosaic

Last year, I went to Philadelphia for a conference. I had been there before, but didn’t remember much about the smaller things I saw. I remember going out to Fairmont Park and my friend,  Kathy, coming to tour around with me. I wrote about the quilt shops I visited on the most recent trip, but never wrote about the City.

Magic Gardens Entry View
Magic Gardens Entry View

Recently, I read a FB post and was reminded of the Magic Gardens. I had seen it my first time through, I think, but was enchanted and mesmerized by it when we walked by on this most recent trip.

The Magic Gardens is on South Street, which is a funky street full of funky little mom and pop shops. There is an entry fee, but a person can see quite a lot from the street.

The place is amazing. The walls are filled with broken pieces of tile and glass. There are archways and walls made from concrete embedded with different types of crockery and tile all done in a mosaic style.

Messy Rooms
Messy Rooms

The place really looks like a mess from certain angles.

One thing I liked about it was the reuse of materials. I was particularly enamored with the bicycle wheels embedded in the tops of the walls. There is something about the shape that is appealing. I don’t remember seeing bicycle wheels embedded as if they were windows, but I think that would be an interesting look and I wonder if they will do that sometime in the future?

Magnificent details
Magnificent details

The details are magnificent as well.

I remember when we remodeled part of our house (an agonizing process, if there ever was one!) that we looked at all sort of interesting things, including tile. There are wonderful tiles out there that I loved, but didn’t match our color scheme or were too much or were too expensive.

In the Magic Garden I saw some very interesting tiles being used even if they were broken. They were used and fit in perfectly. They were used, but not used randomly. The details show care and thought in the designs.

I really want to do something like this for my porch.  I want it to be interesting and I want people to stop an look closer before they ring the doorbell.


There are messages as well. This one is a common one, but no less poignant and the artist took care to embed it in the structure and make it timeless by not referring to specific wars. It makes me think of specific wars, which, I guess is common because of my time. In the future, perhaps people will think of other wars and wonder. I hope not, though.

The message also makes me wonder if the artist really believes their own message? Does s/he fight with other artists for space in the Magic Garden or for materials or for money. Do they fight because they are lovers or do they consider their message as applying to their lives as well?


I saw themes as well. While the photo with the dishes was on a nearby building not in the Magic Garden, it illustrates what I mean. This mosaic piece had a number of items that reflected real life. Also, the shape of the dishes is carried out farther than just around the dishes themselves. Two themes.

There is a lot of texture in these pieces, which adds to the entirety.


Mosaics in Real Life
Mosaics in Real Life
Mosaics in Real Life pt.2
Mosaics in Real Life pt.2

Around the Magic Gardens are mosaics that have been affixed to other walls. I don’t know if these are projects of the Magic Gardens programs or if people in the area have been inspired by the mosaics. I know that air conditioners and sign posts don’t make for excellent photos, but I like the way the mosaics have been worked around real life. We can’t do without the windows and signposts, so why not make them part of the landscape? Why not work around them and execute the vision rather than becoming frustrated that the wall isn’t perfectly blank? I am glad the artists worked through their challenges. We need more art in our every day lives.

I have so many more photos, but think I will save them for another day.