Saturday, July 28, 2007

I was cruising around in my "favorites" this morning, and found that my young friend in Kentucky, Jill Howard of the beautiful primitive dolls, now has a new blog! Several years ago, on a day that was a really bad one for me, the mail carrier handed me a box - which upon opening, reduced me to immediate joyful tears. It was the most beautiful, pitiful and homely doll looking up at me with her little eyes, and she has been a dear companion and stayed close to me since. I named her "Miss Emma Jane" after my great grandmother - and she is now sitting on top of the original Emma Jane's butter churn - which my grandmother used also when I was a very small child. During WWII, when I was visiting the farm in Austin, Grandmother let me "help" her churn on this thing. I also imagined that I was helping by milking the cow, Shirley, - and that is a picture of me sitting on top of this cow, whom I named after my glamorous Aunt Shirley. I'm not too sure she was as flattered as I thought she should be. The darning egg was also my grandmother's, and I can remember her sitting in her rocking chair darning socks for my grandfather. I was really thrilled to find these things in the attic of the house when I cleaned it out - and have made a kind of permanent "comfort zone" with these items. Besides, I think they are rather decorative!! Anyway - thanks again, Jill, for this wonderful little companion. I am living at my daughter's house right now, waiting for a new home - and Miss Emma Jane is right beside me.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thinking of building an ark in Austin again this morning - but it's hot still. I counted forward to about 9 weeks (two months exactly) until fall, and I can start thinking about scavenging for leaves again. I do love leaves, and use them in all kinds of artwork - including my ceramics. I found these little tiles in a box while I was searching for something else - don't remember what, as I was so excited to find these. The two tiles with the bas-relief leaves were done during my "glaze layering" phase. I collected the leaves while out walking with my plastic "leaf collecting" bag, and then flattened them between the pages of a telephone directory. A plaster bat was poured into a foil baking pan and left to harden and dry for a few days, and then I simply placed the leaves on the surface of the plaster and drew around each one with a nail (I love plain old kitchen equipment for my pottery). Veins were scratched into the plaster leaf outlines- and then low fire clay was pressed onto the mold. I had cut a number of small tiles from a rolled out slab, and then just placed the cut out clay leaves onto each. After the tiles were dried for a few days, they were fired. then the whole piece - each one - was glazed with a light, yellow green - and then painted with a blue/green glaze around the leaves. Two coats, I think, as I wanted the lighter green to show through a bit. I also did a number of these with blue glaze over the green, intending to use them as a tile border around a mirror. After applying three coats of clear satin glaze, they were fired once again. The second set of small sample tiles was done by simply rolling over flattened leaves placed onto the clay slab - then cutting out the tiles. The leaves were removed and the tiles were dried and then fired - and glazed. This time I used the yellow/green glaze, and painted a pretty green just over the leaves. The yellow/green shows through beautifully, and gives the leaves a bit of dimension. I have also used the plaster molds of leaves to decorate bowls and vases and plates, etc. This is a very absorbing and relaxing activity for me - and it increases my awareness of the beautiful shapes of natural things!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

This piece was actually begun about two weeks ago - but I put it aside in favor of working on the next one (more colorful). Playing with "lace" again in needlepoint, I wish I had seen Pat Winter's beautiful dyed lace before I started. That has now given me permission to get lace out of the realm of white or ecru and into something infinitely more interesting. The beautiful corner block from Allison's latest small CQ is the inspiration for the current project, but I am waiting for her to return from her trip and get back to embellishing! (and post pictures of this wonderful week of adventure with family and new friends). My rendition of it, so far: I rather like the green trim, as white or ecru was definitely out for this piece. As I have an obsession for leaves, and green is my favorite color, I am really enjoying this process. Will do more later. This is a different adventure of sorts in the needlepoint interpretation - as I had not worked with replicating the richness of the brocades, etc. and inserting the metallic gold elements. I have to put it aside now, as my son-in-law presented me with about 10 lbs. of figs from his trees last night, and asked me if I know how to make fig preserves? Do I know how to make fig preserves?? An old southern tradition, I believe, as I clearly remember my grandfather sneaking me down into the "root cellar" where Grandmother kept her shelves full of jars of fig preserves - and opening one to feed me a whole fig. YUM. My son Joe also is ecstatic about this news, as he loves figs too in any way, shape or form. Called from San Antonio this morning, where he had an early hearing to do, wanting to know if I had remembered to send him a bag of figs via his sister to munch on at the office when he gets back. Son-in-law went out last night and bought me a 10lb. bag of sugar for this project, so I suppose I have no choice but to get busy in the kitchen. I am dealing with intelligent, highly educated grown (at least in stature) men here. It has been a while, so I am rusty - but in the face of this kind of enthusiasm, what else could Granny do? My daughter has declined to watch, as she says she has "plastic" and a map to the supermarket. My mother always told me that if I never learned to cut up a chicken, I would never have to do so. Jennifer must have heard that bit of advice. Later on the crazy quilts - when I am resting. P.S. The little black dots around the outlined leaf are where I will insert gold beads to get the "effect" of that gold patch.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Well, it's July 4, and I wasn't prepared - so I will show this thing that I found in a box while looking for something else. This was done several years ago, and was an early sample of the beading-not-for-Christmas thing - along with the diagonal metallic "bracelet" effect. However, I never finished it, as I couldn't figure out a fine and interesting treatment for the stars I thought were so clever. I have now figured a way to do it, but the YLI floss I selected is a bit "bright white," as I did the rest of it in silk. Oh well. It makes a statement, and I will eventually finish it. Have a fine and relaxing and safe 4th of July - It's a big soggy still in Texas for fireworks, as it is still raining, so I will spend the day stitching - on CQ pieces!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

One more piece completed from my plate - and with this, I will put down the paint brushes and get back to the Crazy Quilt interpretations. Got some new lace!!!! Two different kinds. WOW this thing is bright! Very cheerful, which is what I have needed -it is still raining in Texas. We are going to float off the planet if it doesn't let up soon. My disposition gets less than wonderful too, although we are all grateful not to be dry and over 100 degrees as we usually are this time of year. Mosquitoes are loving it too.