Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hello out there in Quiltyland!

I feel like it's been a long time since I got caught up with the peeps ! So much is going on here. (Not to mention Christmas!)

First, I had a wonderful Holiday. It's so funny how things work out. The event that is a big peak experience is rarely the one you think will turn out that way.

Just a couple of days after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Allie had her piano recital. She was excited, and we bought the glittery dress, and she practiced, but of course a pall hung over Tom and I because of that shooting. Allie got all dressed up, and we tried to be cheerful for her. Then we got to the church where the recital was held, First Baptist in downtown Marietta, and it was like all the pain sort of fell away.

I can't tell you what an amazing day it was and how healing this event was. The church was lovely and quiet and peaceful. The teacher, Kyley Smith, is lovely and peaceful. All the parents and kids were dressed up like people used to dress up for Christmas events at Church. All these healthy, well cared for children were wandering around, shiny eyed and well behaved. All the parents, of course, were thinking of the parents of Sandy Hook, so maybe that was why everyone was so kind to each other, so careful to be considerate. The kids sat with their parents until their moment to perform, and we were all remarking on the beauty of the children, the beauty of the day.

The recital started with the 4 year olds. Now, seriously, this is as cute as watching puppies play the piano! Not a dry eye in the house, as each one successfully waded through their selection to waves of love and applause. When each performer returned to their seat, they were treated as conquering heroes by all parents nearby. The performers were sorted by age, each one older than the one before. One eight year old boy played Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter, and was dressed the part of Harry Potter, right down to the stuffed white owl! He was almost too cute to bear!

This teacher is so extraordinary that there were almost no errors, and she was sitting unobtrusively by if the student got lost in the music. So often these things are not well organized, but this went like a dream. We all bathed in the music, the children and their innocence. Allie was the first of the advanced kids and she did really well. She has some real ability and long, long fingers, and did a fabulous job with Carol of the Bells, a piece which I dearly love. When she returned to the pew, all the folks around us fussed over her, as we did for each child. There was such a sense of community and the caring we all felt for each other's children. It was heavenly.

For the finale, Kyley and her most advanced student did a hilarious medley of frenetic piano music for two people on the same piano, finally exchanging seats while playing, all flawlessly and at lightning speed. It brought down the house and left everyone laughing and applauding madly. No one wanted to leave. We milled around, taking pictures of the kids with Kyley, with Mom and Dad, whatever we could think of to stretch this moment, when all these children, at least, were safe. It was such a gift, this small island of peace and music. This, I thought, is Christmas. I was able to hold that peace for a long time and warm myself by it even now.

I guess it really is all about community. Human beings are pack animals and we need each other in times of crisis. So why don't you join some members of your quilt community at one of our late night sew-ins! We'll be sewing and jabbering Friday night, January 25th from 6:00 until who-knows-when. Hope you can come and contribute to the warm fuzzies!

Love from all of us at Red Hen!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Phoenix Fizzles

Okay, I admit it, I was unfaithful. But then I never really was committed to the marriage, and that was the problem.

Having spent a year in a whirlwind romance with a charismatic Chinese gentleman, I, of course wanted that experience again. I wanted to be breathless, crazed, fighting for every hour together. So after I was finished with my Chinese guy, I went looking for that same experience. I thought the Phoenix would be the same kind of thing, but I was wrong.

I put hours into the beginning of my relationship with the phoenix, waiting for the project to catch fire. I had some great ideas for how to quilt my project.

Those ideas I was interested in. That scrawny bird, not so much. Maybe the bird lacked charisma. I committed to her, but it just wasn’t that thrilling. I loved my big, bright dragon.

I didn’t love this bird. I think a customer caught the essence of the problem when she commented on my previous blog by saying, “That bird is kind of snaky, don’t you think.” I did think.

So I decided to spend juuuuuuuust a little time on the quilting I wanted in the background. I wouldn’t tell the Phoenix. I would just doodle a bit. I stretched out four yards of peach colored silk. I sketched an idea with some chalk. I nibbled at the edge of my newfound beauty. And I fell. A hundred miles an hour over the edge, leaving the scrawny bird on the cliff above.

That was two months ago. I am now blissfully hooked on a whole cloth, Floriani on silk floral quilt. I am gonzo for this baby. I am working hours every day, here in the store, simply transported to my all-silk garden. You can come see it anytime. I am going to put in a wee picture, but not do a full blog because of the upcoming East Cobb Quilt Show. A girl has to keep some surprises to herself.

As for that snaky bird, I plan to appliqué the whole thing on a pair of jeans, and then she can kiss my behind!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Phoenix Rises (Part 2)

Hello Out There In Quiltyland!

I’ll bet you thought that I had totally fallen down on the Phoenix, that I had already bailed out.  Not so!  I have been sewing, but not documenting.  So here is a little catch up on the method I am using.

When last we met, I showed some references I was adapting to get the Phoenix picture I want.  Here is a picture of the Hoffman print I liked so much, cut out and mounted on cardboard. 

Then I added about 6 more feathers.  This image is of the print with its extras.  The original print was very horizontal, so I added feathers at the bottom.  Also, this does not include a lavish tail, which I will sketch and add to the final image.

After I plastered together this “Phoenix and a half,” I took it to a photo place and had it blown up to the size I needed.  I had two copies made so I could cut one up for patterns.

Holding picture so you could get an idea of the size.

To begin with, I cut one feather at full size and chopped a piece of silk the approximate correct size. 

I then ironed on Floriani medium weight stabilizer on the back of the silk. 

I traced the pattern (reversed on the back of the stabilizer and sewed around the outer edge to make a permanent outline on top. 

In these pictures I cut the feather out completely before I began to sew, but I no longer do that.  It makes the satin stitch edge too hard to control.  I now leave an inch all around the edge and trim it later.  I’ll have more pictures next time.

It’s kind of interesting, the changes I have already made.  I started with some sample feathers in pale colors and discarded them.  Too pale.  I was not going to do gold edging, but as my friend Bo Fan remarked, it is the gold that pulls all the colors together.  So I’m edging like mad even though it is SO IRRITATING to do.

The real fun part is the detailing.  More on that next time!  Wish me luck!

Love, Mary Anne

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Phoenix Rises (Part I)

(originally posted 2/15/2012)
For those of you who don’t know me, I am Mary Anne Henderson and I have a quilt shop called Red Hen. Since we closed the store for a couple of months so we could relocate, I decided to live up to promises I’ve made for years and start a bloggie thing. I think of it as a way to talk with people like I do at the store -- a diablog!
Okay, now that I have had some time at home, I’ve decided to gird my loins and whatever else you’re supposed to gird, and finally begin a major (meaning a big commitment of time) quilt. After talking around the subject for several years, I finally got myself together. Why is it so scary to start a big independent project like this? I don’t know for sure, but I guess it is fear of failure. But really you only fail if you quit and at the worst you can call it a UFO and say you’ll finish it later!
Also, all my projects grow like Topsie (as my Mom used to say). They just get bigger and more complex until I end up in a form of slavery. But this time I am going to try to control what my husband calls “project creep.” It won’t be that intense; really.
(This is my dialogue with myself.)
So now that I have had a few false starts and am finally fully involved, I’ve decided to share this process with anyone who cares to tune in from time to time. So here we have sort of Part One of Here We Go Again or the Rise of the Phoenix.
Why this image, why this subject? Where did I start? These are some of the things people ask me. You have to start somewhere. As they say in the design world, “limitations are your friend.” I have always loved the color and drama of Asian design, so I decided to make a quilt to act as a pair for my dragon quilt. There are many images of phoenixes, many very similar; I probably saw 50 beautiful ones on various Goth and fantasy web sites. I decided this project should be slow and careful instead of manic and “heavy.”

My Chinese friend, Bo Fan, loaned me two silk textiles from China with wonderful images. I looked at books, and at other fabrics, just to name a few sources.
One dead end was trying to convert a classic crane image to a phoenix. It actually looked fine, but it was just too static when blown up to a life sized image. Not enough fire in the body attitude.
I knew I would do some floral quilting so my idea was to make this phoenix as spring, rising from a garden. I wanted motion, flame, and flowers mixed, a rather breathless feel, as opposed to the formal pose of the image I was working with.
I went back to the drawing board (literally) and here are some of the things I decided to knit together to form a phoenix.
Bo told me that the Chinese phoenix image you see commonly has the tail up and the head down to show female submissiveness. The last empress of China dared to change the image on textiles in her palace and had the phoenix head facing up. Guess which way I decided my bird would go!
The most wonderful image I found was a textile from Quilt Gate, a vendor I love. The flailing feathers knocked me out. I cut out that image from the fabric and did some surgery, adding a number of feathers. Here is my collage sketch of the original image, with a few large feathers duplicated. But it had no pronounced tail, just a couple of large flailing feathers. Next step -- bird butt surgery.
Peace, love, and rock ’n roll!
Mary Anne

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sound Off!

Hello out there in Quiltyland! We are moving NEXT WEEK, so all is aflutter at Red Hen. Every inch of our store is being repainted and redone just in time to Hop! In addition, we’re receiving 500 bolts of fabric in the next 2 weeks alone! AAAARRGGHHH!

When we have meetings about the Shop Hop, we all have our opinions, but we’d appreciate some feedback from you guys. Here are a few questions, but you can feel free to add any comments you want.

1. Are you planning to do the Shop Hop this year?
2. Have you done it before?
3. Do you plan to finish the whole thing?
4. What is your favorite part?
5. What is you least favorite element?
6. Do you ever make any of the quilts or block projects generated by the block patterns you collect?
7. What would you like to see that you don’t currently see in the stores?
8. Do you have any theme ideas you would like to share?

You can make a difference! We can’t wait to hear from you.
The gang at Red Hen Fabrics.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why is it I think I have to
upholster or paint everything in sight?

Is there a name for this mania? One of my earliest memories is of gluing fabric scraps to a wooden box. Through numerous bad apartments, I covered couches and walls and windows and chairs. When I started quilting seriously, I hoped this affliction would let go. Then there was my first car cover, which appeared in Quilter’s Newsletter years ago...I say first because there was a second, larger, fancier van cover. And the floor cloths…oh the floor cloths...floral and Christmas, and on and on. Oh yes, there is the fake wallpaper border in my store bathroom, and the covers for bookshelves full of fabric. And the fabric altered shoes. I used to do fix-and-flip houses, and I made covers for almost anything you can think of. But this is my first fabric backsplash, and boy do I love it! I had been looking at backsplash tiles for years and couldn’t decide what I wanted when I had the same old feeling…wouldn’t this be great covered with fabric?? I got my buddy Jan Cox, who is great with all things crafty, to help me, and this is what we did.

First, we measured each large space to be covered with fabric, adding one inch on each side. With each piece, we ironed under one inch along the selvedge. We then ironed on medium weight stabilizer on the entire surface except the one inch turn under. I used all my Floriani scraps, but almost any stabilizer will do.
We did a fitting, and marked all the outlets, cutting them carefully with an “X” shape and trimming them to fit. Then we cut the top edge of the whole piece perfectly with a rotary cutter. The piece was pre-fitted perfectly except for one inch extra on each end. We then sprayed the fabric with a couple of light coats of fabric protector. Then we had lunch and caught up on the soaps.

Ready to staple in place! By this time I was jumping up and down. Right onto the counter, where I wedged myself in! Laying the fabric face down, but perfectly aligned, I used a staple gun to staple the one inch turn under along the top of the granite backsplash. I didn’t put any staples for the last inch or so on either side. We started under one of the outlets, because they have to fit. Then we smoothed the entire piece upward to the cabinet and stapled it snugly. We also stapled around the outlet openings. Almost there, squinting to see how the finished product will look!

On the end that rounded the corner, we painted some Mod Podge along the last inch of fabric and wrapped the corner to the next section, so there would be no gaps at the join. On the exposed edge, we trimmed cleanly and carefully and painted the edge with Mod Podge. It adhered invisibly to the wall corner.

We were really pleased…and of course, bummed that we had 2 large strips to go. But of course, they rolled right along. By the time we were done, we’d figured out how to do it!

Now for the finishing. I decided to bring the backsplash up to the middle of the window, so Jan print- matched a piece of fabric and we turned under the TOP one inch and stapled it. Then we smoothed the piece down and carefully glued the three free edges. We fitted a piece under the window by stapling along the backsplash and under the window sill, then gluing the two ends down just over the edge of the large piece. Jan covered the switch plates, while I applauded madly and OMG!!! Is this cool or what? My favorite things, cheap and dramatic!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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