Thursday, December 17, 2009


After another semester of computer graphics, I have a few more images to show. This one is part of a project...a series of word types that combines a play on words with a photoshop type treatment. I volunteer at the local library, so I could hardly resist making a fake overdue stamp (knowing full well that it makes no sense to stamp a book overdue.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I began this blog hoping that it would spur productivity. Well, I guess that didn't work out as intended. It did add to my list of things I neglect. Happily I have continued taking art classes at the local community college and they continue to inspire me with possibilities.

For Halloween, here is a design I made last year to screen print on a t-shirt.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alphabet Posters

I have been spending way too much time looking for the alphabet in places around town. I think this is a typical project for a graphics design class: compile a poster of images of the alphabet from everyday things/architecture etc. based on some theme. I chose the small town near me (Crozet) as my theme. My first collection of photos were rather dismal, but the collection got better over time. And the search did take me off the beaten path. When I was taking a picture of the B from the water spigot, a fellow at the construction site thought I was an employee of the developer collecting evidence that the construction crew had not put away the hose. "Ah no...just collecting letters."

I adjusted and edited the images in Photoshop and then used InDesign for the layout. I used the panorama feature of Photoshop for the header. And Crozet locals will recognize that the heading "Crozet A to Z" comes from a manipulation of the sign for our local pizza joint "Crozet Pizza" located across from the library. Sadly, I also found that I spent way too much time fixing peeling paint and removing globs of gum in the photos.

I couldn't decide between these two versions. During critique, it was suggested that the panorama was extraneous. But removing it takes away the most distinguishing feature and lure of Crozet. So I think ultimately I will use the cutout letters but put them in the Z-shaped layout that has the longest span of the panorama.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jimmy's Rug

Here is the panda rug I made a few months ago. I used lime green chenille for the front and back, and appliqued the pieces for the panda on top. And to give the rug a bit more weight, I put batting in the middle. Everything is held together with machine topstitching that I used to apply the pieces, and with "quilting" that outlines the panda.

Here is Jimmy Cat taking over the panda rug as his own. This has become his regular spot. I guess this makes up for my having made a bunny rug for Tommy to use to lay in front of the kitchen sliding glass door.

And finally, here is some of the mountain laurel that is blooming throughout the woods. I bought a mountain laurel plant for my garden in Northern Virginia. I laughed when I first moved here and saw how much was growing here without any help from me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Art Show Jimmy

Just as spring session ended, the local community college opened its annual student art show. The show is not juried. Students are allowed to submit two works from any art classes taken during the year. So I couldn't resist entering Monotype Jimmy (from my printmaking class) and Symbolic Jimmy (from my design class). Happily, the two pieces were hung side by side.

The plywood flowers were made by another student in my sculpture class. I have to show it here because I think it's just brilliant. Simple and brilliant...the best combination. The flower shapes are cut from plywood with a jigsaw and then attached to tree limbs. These are then held up with three cinder blocks. I like that everything was left natural, but have wondered about fashioning a colorized version.

Meanwhile, the sun came out and the turtle took off. And as I stepped onto the front porch yesterday I heard a hummingbird take off from the feeder. So at least one remains.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Peachy Keen

Apparently I have no self-motivation. Classes ended the first week of May and I have not made anything since. Now I am in a mild panic over the thought that classes begin again next Tuesday. This session I will be taking another computer graphics class and painting.

I have spent more time outside and have even managed to make a little vegetable plot. Typically I scatter a few plants around, but this year I decided to avoid the tough love approach with its low yield. Right now snow peas are the star of the garden. This is my second planting after some creature of feather or fur dug up the first batch. I will also be planting vines this year--pumpkin, watermelon, cucumbers and zucchini. It has been too cold to start these (with a possible frost tonight), so I will wait until next week.

As I was out this morning cutting logs, I spotted a faint bit of orange peeking out from a peach tree. And by golly, it was a baby peach. Fancy that. I have no expectations, however, given these were newly planted last year and barely stand four feet high. But the baby peach is blogworthy, if only for cuteness.

And while we're up and about in the garden, here is a picture of a turtle who has parked himself out back. I think he is using the leaves as shelter until the cold spell passes. A few years back I stopped on the highway because a turtle was in the middle of the road and I wanted to move him before he was hit by a car. I had a small spade to move him with. However, it was a snapping turtle and when I went to scoop him up he came after me. Attacked by a turtle? Good grief. But he was truly feisty and quite uncooperative. Luckily a fellow with a shovel (with a nice long handle) stopped to help me out.

Meanwhile, I am wondering where the hummingbirds went. I usually have gazillions. Earlier this month I had three hummingbirds that came regularly to the feeders, but now there are none.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fractured Cats

Our most recent assignment for my computer graphic class uses Adobe Illustrator to trace silhouettes and mix them with shapes. These images are then "fractured" and each shape is filled in. This reminds me of Katie Pasquini Masopust's "Ghost Layers and Color Washes" except without making templates of each shape, sorting fabric by hue and value, sewing and quilting. (About a gazillion times the amount of work.)

Using the same design, I developed four colorways. There is also a choice of whether or not to have outlines for the shape like stained glass. In the version shown here, the outlines were removed. And as always, the printed version is never as brilliant as the screen version.

Meanwhile on the home front, I saw my first hummingbird of the year this morning. I have had a feeder up since April 15, the earliest date anyone has seen a hummingbird in this area. I went out on the porch and heard the familiar buzz as the hummingbird shot past me. I put out a second feeder on the opposite side of the porch. The early birds tend to be more feisty. Later on in the season the mothers and babies will be more willing to sit and share the same feeder. And at that point I will have five feeders that I will be refilling daily.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Learning Illustrator

I went to class on Monday and took pictures of the printer that I turned into a tree planter for a sculpture project. I had wondered if absence would make my heart grow fonder toward it. Nope. Seeing it again confirmed that it was awful. It looks like crafting with a glue gun gone wrong. I realize that not everything works out. And I have plenty of evidence of that. But this is so bad I am not going to show it here. Moving on...

Meanwhile, I am continuing to learn Adobe Illustrator. Our assignment is to take a picture of an animal and recreate it using fonts...basically learning the type tools. You start by placing a picture as a bottom layer and then lay areas and paths of text on top. At a certain point, the font animal takes on a life of its own and the photograph is no longer relevant. In fact, you really have to let go of the original and respond to the new design that is created by the letters. It's like coming up with a really good sentence. You might hold on to it longer than you should and then by a very late draft realize that you just have to let the sentence go because it no longer fits. The version shown here was rasterized--meaning put into a bitmap in Photoshop elements--so I could put it in a format that Blogger would appreciate. And yes, I did think of completing the assignment using the infamous photo of Jimmy. And I'm still thinking about it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prelude to Spring

I was hoping that a blog would spur productivity, but instead I have found that I am just as adept at procrastination of a blog post as anything else. Currently, my sculpture class has been keeping me on the move. The class has been an onslaught of different materials, so although my mind has had to bend around different construction dilemmas, I haven't made much that I really like.

A project I finished a couple of weeks ago was the "Waiting for Forsythia" kinetic sculpture. These are hanging to the side of the front entrance to the art building. I spent most of the time trying to develop stands to hold them, and when this failed I had to hope that I could devise a way to hang them. As you can see from the picture, the hanging part was a success. And using fishing lure "barrel swivels," the pieces twirl very nicely with the slightest breeze. Now I only wish I had had more time to work on the forms.

The kinetic sculptures are irrigation piping covered in colorful duct tape. I had thought initially only in terms of circles--specifically the circles within circles. It was the night before the day of installation that I thought to try other configurations. And it was only by accident that a circle collapsed and turned into a wonderful leaf form. So there is much more potential to these materials than I was able to fully exploit. Ah well.

For our last project we were to take an object and negate its function by covering it with "tiling." Originally, the teacher had conceived of the project in terms of ceramic mosaics, but opened up the covering to anything. For my piece, I took a dead printer and covered it with pine cones and bark and planted a tree to grow out of it. So for the last couple of weeks I have been fighting a glue gun as I stuck pine cones and bark to hard plastic. I took it to class on Thursday thoroughly disgusted with it and miserable from the experience. All of the "sculptures" were put on display in the front display area of the art building, so I'll see what I think about it when I see it all again on Monday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Read the Instructions

This week is spring break so I have no classes to attend. I do, however, have some projects due when I return. First, in the computer graphics class we are taking a photo and changing six things. We will then make a poster with the two photos that becomes a game--find the six changes to the photo.

For this project I scanned my favorite Swiss Alps picture from over ten years ago when I went on a wonderful yuppie Swiss Alps hiking trip. I then made six changes...
Admittedly, some of the changes are quite obvious. I took out my fellow hikers. I added two swiss cows from a different part of the adventure. And most obviously, I added a picture of Tomba the cat from a postcard. Legend has it that this historical Swiss cat followed some mountaineers to the top of some mountain. Less obviously, I added a sky ride and the Matterhorn (which lives in an entirely different part of Switzerland). And the least obvious change was that I took a modest peak from the left side of the picture, flipped it over, and made it a peak on the right side of the picture.

Then I read the directions. I'm supposed to just use the elements within the first photograph and move two things, remove two things and duplicate two things. This makes for a much more boring photo...

The only changes I could keep were removing the hikers and duplicating the peak in the middle left hand side to make the right hand side peak. Then I took out the power line that was in the original photo, but barely noticeable anyway. Then I moved a bunch of flowers from the foreground to the left hand corner, and duplicated them and put them in the middle lower section. Yawn. This left another move...and the fussiest change...I moved the rocky ledge where the hikers were heading and shifted it down the ledge. I then filled that area with the digital equivalent of astroturf.

While these changes meet the assignment's requirements, the photo is neither interesting or funny. So now that I know the rules, I'll go find another photo where I can make the necessary changes and end up with something interesting and/or funny.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tommy Posterized

I am continuing to learn Photoshop and can see that a whole lifetime could vanish into that software. I had planned to postpone going digital until I became more proficient at drawing and hands-on artistry. But the lure of Spoonflower and designing fabric was too great. Of course, my attention has been diverted. And one diversion was making an image of Tommy after the Shepard Fairey poster of Obama. This version obviously doesn't have the same amount of thought going into it. All I did for this was run a photo of Tommy through a filter that breaks the image into a few relative values. I then used roughly the same palette of colors as the Obama poster.

There is currently a lawsuit about transforming the 2006 Garcia (AP) photo of Obama into the iconic poster. I thought a lot of the poster's power was in the use of color...not quite red, white and blue. But the experiment with Tommy suggests that a lot of it has to do with the original lighting in the photograph. And although I like how the lighting falls in the original photo of Tommy, it doesn't really work in the posterized image. So now I think the power of the poster was in the choice of photo for this technique. Which makes the lawsuit all the more interesting because the power in the choice of photo comes into play only in hindsight.

Friday, March 6, 2009

More Photoshop

For a sculpture assignment, I needed a box for teabags. I started with my favorite...Trader Joe's Pomegranate White Tea for my template. Then after a bit of tweaking with Photoshop, we have a new brand: Global Warming Green Tea. I printed all the panels on a cream cardstock and then constructed the box. I may never have to live in reality again.

Meanwhile, the quilt of valor, described in any earlier post, finally arrived yesterday at its destination of Fort Richardson Alaska. It took a while to receive a location to send the quilt. Apparently, a group of quilters are given the same location to send their quilts. I don't know how the quilts eventually get matched to individuals.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Class Today

Here is another Photoshop project based on The Z Was Zapped. This is the F was Flocked by Flamingos. I used the same concept for a similar project in my drawing class last year. In the colored pencil drawing I had four flamingos in the audience as well as on the stage, and instead of a wood floor, the stage was black and white checkered linoleum.

Today my computer graphics class was canceled because of the snow. We only got a few inches of snow, but the forecast was for much more than that. The wind was also a hassle so right after the snow plows went by, the wind would cover the streets with snow again. So instead of working on Photoshop, I went out and shoveled the paved driveway before the snow could melt.

Meanwhile, Tommy the Cat is mending nicely. As I am writing this post, he is staring intently at the office wall. Since he is the cat with mouse radar, this undoubtedly means that mice are having a party in the walls. And it's not so much that Tommy is staring intently, but rather that he is listening intently.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winter Wonderland

I woke up to a winter wonderland. Okay, more of a snow head fake. First, by 10AM I could already hear snow melting. Also, the snow didn't stick on the gravel road or the walkway to the house. Very civilized.

When I first moved to Wash DC in the early 90s, we would get some nice snowfalls each year. The year the government closed was the most memorable because the day the government was supposed to open, we got something like a foot of snow...the largest snowfall I had seen since moving to the east coast. That was the year my next door neighbor taught me how to cross country ski--in the street. So I ran out and bought my own skis...and we never had more that 4 inches after that.

When I first moved out to rural Virginia (in the foothills of the Blue Ridge), we had a couple of deep snowfalls of more than 6 inches. I did break out the skis, but in my rush, forgot some of the basics like gloves and how to release the boots from the skis after a fall. Oops. Since that first winter here, we haven't gotten that much again. Now, we're all about the ice.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Inflatable Giraffe

Here's the inflated giraffe standing with the assistance of a string attached to its head and the railing of the balcony on the third floor of the building. I added a gusset to its belly to give it a better three-dimensional appearance, but made it a rather portly giraffe in the process. The 3 Mil plastic and packing tape is quite forgiving. I screwed up the front leg and had to amputate and reattach it. I then shortened the other front leg to match.

I like that this class is constantly making me confront new materials and figure out how to accomplish my goals with them. In quiltmaking, I learned the traditional techniques and choose the quilt to make in terms of those techniques. That is, the goal is defined by the techniques. So I think the real switch for me will come when the goal comes first, then the techniques are developed to accomplish the goal.

On the other hand, Jimmy sees a pile of fabric and sees a couch. He looks at me and thinks the same thing. In his case, he makes everything into a couch regardless of the materials.

Last but by no means least, Tommy's biopsy results showed that the lump was benign. So the mast cell cancer he had last year has not returned after all. This was great news for me. Tommy, however, reminds me that he still has a gash down his back and needs constant nurturing and attention.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Peace Interrupted

Admittedly, the household is not as peaceful as in Tommy and Jimmy's younger years. However, everyone was getting along and I was starting to relax again. Then Mr. Beige Cat decides to lounge in the sun on our back deck. This enrages Tommy so he starts yowling and this in turn brings Jimmy downstairs. Jimmy blows up like a Macy's parade balloon and so Tommy diverts his attention from Mr. Beige Cat (who has now run away) and starts to go after Jimmy. (Yes, yes, displaced aggression.) So I herd puffed-up Jimmy upstairs and the cats are separated again until the dust settles.

Now all of this would seem quite normal except I live in a wooded area that I sometimes share with the likes of Dimitry and Mr. Bear. My closest human neighbors are a quarter and a half mile away respectively and none of them have cats. So Mr. Beige Cat must be coming from a distance and/or is likely feral. He may be attracted to the smell of fat indoor cats that is sent out into the woods when I wash Tommy and Jimmy's bedding, or my clothes for that matter. And as for Mr. Beige Cat lounging in the sun...this was with the temperature well below freezing. Of course, Tommy and Jimmy probably create such a fuss to prevent me from adding more freeloaders into the household.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Together At Last

Okay, so maybe this is turning into more of a cat blog than an art blog. Supposedly it takes only six heated exchanges on the Internet until someone invokes a comparison to Hitler. I wonder if there is another metric that shows how long it takes for a blog on any given subject to transition to a cat blog. I guess I would skew the metric to the short side.

In any case, Tommy and Jimmy are sharing the full the run of the house. They decided it was time to end the separation, not me. I don't think they missed each other that much. They just hated that feeling of not getting to be in the part of the house they preferred--the one they weren't in currently. So late yesterday they were both on either side of a screen barrier, ignoring each other, but each yeowing to be let over to the other side.

A little while later Tommy, with clipped claws and Frankenstein stitches on his back, asserted that he was still the top cat. And later still they started to play together. Okay, at this point I got too nervous and distracted them to play individually with toys. This way Jimmy could enjoy his wind sprints around the house, and Tommy could invent new ways to play mouse without sharp claws to grab the mouse.

Meanwhile, for my sculpture class I am working on an inflatable giraffe. The assignment is to make an inflatable object out of 3 Mil plastic and packaging tape. Then in class (outside really if the weather is nice) we will inflate them all with fans.

I'm also working out a design of dangling circles made out of PVC irrigation pipe. At first I was thinking of making a structure out of hula hoops. Then I found a tutorial on the web that explains how to make hula hoops out of PVC irrigation pipe. Well, once you go there, you really don't need to limit yourself to hula hoops.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tommy Trouble

Last Friday Tommy had surgery to remove a rather large lump. A year ago he had a cancerous lump (mast cell) removed from his back, but it was quite tiny in comparison. Last year's lump was hard and felt like a scab under his fur. This new lump was completely different, and I don't know the results of the biopsy yet.

Tommy is still on pain medications, but he is slowly getting into his old groove...on watch for trespassing cats in the yard, testing me to make sure I remember all of his commands, and dispensing head butts.

Meanwhile I'm keeping the cats separated and this is the most trying part. Each cat wants to be in the part of the house that is closed off to them. They don't seem to be missing each other, although they keep track of each other's whereabouts as I switch them from room to room. Right now everything is relatively calm with Jimmy confined to the upstairs with me, while Tommy is downstairs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Digital collage

Recognize the photo of Jimmy? This replacement photo is much better suited for the mouse hunt. The previous photo of Jimmy made him look sleepy...because he was. This photo has paid extra dividends...the subject of a monotype and the relative value project for my design class.

I still have many questions about the Photoshop process. And I suspect that one can spend a lifetime learning this software. But for now I want to get a better understanding of the layers, how to use masks and well yes, how best to layer the layers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

M is for Mouse

I am learning Photoshop in my computer graphics class. And for the next two weeks we are having a substitute teacher--my teacher for sculpture. We are now using an exercise previously used in my drawing class. This exercise borrows from Chris Van Allsburg's "The Z Was Zapped:" set a stage with curtains and flooring and then put a three-dimensional letter on the stage with some kind of alliterative action. For the drawing class, I had an f "flocked by flamingos." The drawing exercise works on tonal shading in the curtains and perspective in the flooring. For Photoshop, its an exercise for working with layers. The photo shows what I have so far. I need to figure out how to fix the transition from cat to flooring. Also, the photo of Jimmy is too blurry--and I think I will have better luck using a different photo than trying to sharpen this one. I also want to make the M into a least with fur, ears, eyes and tail.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Massive tomato pincushion

The tomato pincushion ottoman is finished. Except it really isn't an ottoman or storage unit. The thing is two feet high and three feet across. And as I was making it, I realized this is the last thing I want stuck in the middle of any room in my house. When I originally designed it though, I was thinking it should have a storage area inside with a lid. Well, it does have a storage container inside but it only displaces lots of stuffing.

Instead of a fancy cover and a way to get to the storage, I simply covered the top with pieces of foam core. Stuffing the tomato was a bigger challenge than I expected. Small pieces of stuffing, such as a t-shirt created noticeable lumps. I wrapped the metal basin with foam held together with duct tape. Then I wrapped those layers with fake fur and batting. I grabbed the largest hunks I had so I could build smooth layers outward. I could also use fur, sweaters etc. that I would want to use again because I no longer expected to keep the large stuffed tomato pincushion intact.

Another challenge was dyeing the cording to match the tomato leaf (felt). I could not get a deep enough green. First, I dyed supposedly 100 percent cotton cording and found that the outer threads must be polyester because they did not accept the Procion MX dye at all. (See photo above). Then I pulled out all cotton clothesline and that accepted the dye. But either the dye was too old, the time in the dye bath too short or not warm enough, or it wasn't meant to any case, the cord came out very dark, but lightened up when I washed it (with extra rinse). And so why did I do that? Force of habit, I guess, because I really had no intention of ensuring that the tomato would be washable. Sigh.

In any case, the final remaining challenge will be transporting this ungainly mass to class. I'm hoping I can strap it to a luggage carrier and roll it. But I will save that adventure until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I often wonder what it would be like to have a clone of Tommy. He is the cat with many rules, and his greatest disappointment in life is that Jimmy doesn't follow them. To make things worse, Jimmy doesn't even seem to understand the concept of rules...such as, only one cat on the cat couch (me) at a time. So what would happen if Tommy had to live with a little version of himself? Would the cloned Tommy agree with original Tommy's rules or would the clone devise his own rules?

But more to the point...Photoshop has a clone stamp tool that lets you easily take out bits of grit and grime from a photo. You make a tiny copy of a clean spot and lay it over the grit. In the photo above I used it to wash the window next to Tommy's head. There is nothing like a photo to highlight poor housekeeping. In this case, the photo showed just how long it had been since the window was washed. So I spend my time on virtual housekeeping instead of the real thing.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunny Interlude

I went out this morning to try and capture the 60 degree day in a photograph. Unfortunately, you would have to know that the drive was covered in ice earlier in the day to fully appreciate the change. And looking at Jimmy, you would think it was the coldest day of winter. However, if you look closely you can see him giving me the evil eye for hovering over him to take his picture.

We received our new sculpture assignment...the scale project. We are to pick a household object, blow it up as large as possible (but still be able to get it into our car), and make the enlarged version as accurate as possible. I decided on a tomato pincushion with strawberry emery because I can use it afterward as either a cat bed or a stool/ottoman. I estimate that the fully grown version will be roughly 3 feet in diameter.

The large pincushion in the photo is a brand-new tomato pincushion that I bought to take apart to reverse engineer the pattern. The smaller version is one I inherited from my mother at least a gazillion years ago (in the 80's, anyway). It appears a little worse for wear, but I like its shape better than the mammoth orb.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lemon Still Life

Here is my lemon still life for my sculpture class. The original assignment was to make three replicas of an everyday item using three different materials. I chose a lemon. As we know from the movie The Break-up, three lemons are not enough. So I made a few more. The one in the foreground is painted Paperclay imprinted with netting. Then there is the woven yellow pipe cleaner lemon, the styrofoam wrapped with yellow duct tape lemon, and the stuffed knitted lemon. Out of view (for a good reason) is a yellow cotton fabric lemon that resembles a strawberry more than a lemon despite being bright yellow. Oh well. There is also a lemon made from an oddball conconction of found parts (napkin ring, closet door knob and an IKEA chest of drawer knob) (shown in an earlier post). I have included the original lemon in the still life although at this point it is starting to show its age. And eventually the actual lemon will be the object out of all of them that looks the least like a lemon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Our area got the milder part of the ice storm. That said, I just spent the last three hours chipping ice off the paved part of the driveway. The photos below show part of the paved driveway during the spring. It is very long and steep, and I have not been able to take a photo that does it justice. Luckily the ice storm started with sleet instead of freezing rain. This meant the ice hadn't glazed the driveway, but had formed a floating veneer instead. I could break apart the icy coating and it fractured into shards that was easy to shovel off.

I launched into the ice removal at the first sight of daylight because the community college where I attend classes planned to open at 10AM this morning, just in time for my class. By 8:30AM, I realized that I was on a fool's mission, and there was no way I could get to class safely and on time. After I emailed the instructor with my regrets, I rechecked the inclement weather message and found that the college changed the opening to 12 Noon. No class after all.

But I dutifully went back to the driveway to finish the job. And now that I am back, Tommy and Jimmy are busy issuing commands. Yeow, yeow, yeow! And when I move, I say ow, ow, ow!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obsession or tedium?

My lemon obsession is rapidly deteriorating into tedium. I thoroughly enjoyed carving down a Styrofoam egg into a lemon shape and then covering it with yellow duct tape. I also enjoyed molding Paperclay into a lemon shape, although paint may obscure the imprint from the netting. I like the knitted lemon, but by the time I finished it, I had reached lemon overload.

And by the make the knitted lemon, I made three ovoid shapes and stitched them together. Although the ovoid shapes tapered like sections from a lemon, I improved the shape with stitching after the lemon was stuffed.

Now I must break away and do something else other than make lemons. The next class is on Thursday and I can see myself continuing to fabricate lemons until then. And without a hint of joy. In this case, more is definitely less.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Making Lemons

This is why I like classes. They put a bug of an idea in my head, and then I get delightfully obsessed with it. Obviously I need to develop my own obsessive ideas. But for now, I'm focused on making lemons from whatever materials I can find. Things that have the right color, shape and/or texture are no longer safe in my house.

I found a cotton fabric that I dyed a few years ago that is the perfect lemon yellow. I also have felt, duct tape and pipe cleaners that match the color of lemons. Yellow is not a color that I use that much of, so I found that I didn't have lemon-yellow thread or yarn.

I carved two sponges into lemon halves and glued them together. I will need to paint it lemon yellow, but I think it has a good lemon texture. I also have a beige netting that may help give the appropriate texture. I could use it to wrap a lemon structure or to imprint on some paper clay.

I like the idea of varying the methods I use along with the materials. With the sponge, I took a larger object and cut it down to size. With paper clay I will be building up material to look like a lemon. And then with the fabric, I will have to construct it somehow. I'm not too sure how that will work out--whether I can mold it a bit with stitches of thread like for a doll, or whether I will do better with more careful construction from pattern pieces.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First week of classes

The pileated woodpecker is part of a monoprint I made last semester in printmaking.

This semester I'm taking a computer graphics class and sculpture (design fundamentals 3D). Our first assignment for sculpture is to take an everyday object, and copy it 3 times with different materials. Scissors, in one example, were made from wire, then twigs, and bread dough.

For my object I'm thinking about using a lemon. Maybe the bright yellow seems so appealing in the dead of winter. I'm already finding this an interesting assignment. The color is the easiest part, I think. The solidity and shape may also be straight forward. So I think the lemon texture will be the biggest challenge. Some potential materials are sponges, screen, and paperclay. But since I'm all about the fiber, I may also have to try knitting a lemon, making a soft sculpture with fabric and maybe beading a lemon shape.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peace and Harmony?

This was my view while watching Obama's inaugural address. Tommy and Jimmy were obviously inspired by the phrase "Extend a paw, not a claw." (I may be paraphrasing.) During the night there was a tussle, however. Sometimes Jimmy likes to extend a paw and touch Tommy while he's sleeping. These invasions of body space are not well tolerated. I did remind them that the Obama administration was in effect for more than one day.

Yesterday when I washed the red, white and blue quilt, I added some synthrapol as a preventive measure for any bleeding. And yikes. There were several places where the red fabric bled into the white. I discovered this as I was pulling it out of the dryer. So I popped it back into the washer, added more synthrapol and put it in for an extra rinse. And success.

The final steps for a quilt of valor are washing, adding a label and making a presentation case (essentially a pillow case). I did these yesterday, so today I will request a destination.

Today is the first day of classes--Computer Graphics from 10-12AM. And yes, even at my age, I get that weird feeling of anticipation that seems to be an odd mix of excitement and dread.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I didn't expect to finish the machine quilting in two days...but there you go. The photo shows the last curve of stitching. The last line is marked with blue chalk so in the photo it appears to be already quilted.

Last night after I had sewn on the front side of the binding by machine, I went ahead and started the hand sewing. And so the quilt was finished before the inauguration. But that's okay because who can sew while they are jumping up and down with excitement?

Here is the detail view that shows the machine quilting. I used a variegated red, white and blue thread (King Tut). Everything went smoothly until I had a glitch with the bobbin tension. This meant undoing a line of curved diagonal stitching. But when the tension is off, undoing the stitching is much easier.

The final step will be to scrutinize the Quilts of Valor submission requirements. I already know that I need to add a label and wash the quilt. And as usual, I will have to spend some time extracting loose threads and removing as much cat hair as possible.

But most of my day today will be spend smiling, sighing and admonishing the cats that there will be no more fighting under an Obama administration.