Friday, April 21, 2017

Ordinary or Extraordinary? Part 1

This past year my focus has shifted into making more fiber art and fewer traditional quilts. I still love to work on traditional, usable quilts but I find myself being pulled more into making art in ways that allow my soul to sing and embracing the itch that is scratching from within myself to be let out. My World Quilting Travel Adventure was my own test to explore myself from within. To my surprise, I overcame my fear of writing and designing, and most importantly gained an inner strength to do things in unconventional ways not caring or thinking/worrying how it would be perceived by anyone other than me. It is a freeing experience and one I encourage you to do as well.

My next push is to create good art consistently. I'm no Picasso or Mozart, but I can become good at my art and occasionally I may just create great art. Finding yourself and your own work is a process and it's hard work. Trust me when I say it is completely worth the effort if, you are in the same place as me, and want to make art because it is simply what you must do even when your work has become hard and you are unsure of where the next step will take you. You must push yourself.

Or as Gene Fowler stated: "Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead."

If we were able to speak with some of the famous artists throughout the generations, I would imagine them telling us that we must push through our uncertainties and actually make art to get better at making art. Crazy sounding I'm sure but think about it. How many unfinished projects do you have hanging around? Okay, I won't disclose mine and you don't have to disclose yours, but if you think about it, if you are serious about your art, you must finish your art so that you can move on to the next piece. Thus, the World Quilting Travel Adventure began and I began creating. It has helped me by starting the adventure because it has pushed me to finish so that I can share it with you and so that I can begin the next piece. My next goal is to proceed at the speed that I want. However, I also own a small business that demands normal business hours and spending time with my family is very important to me. So, I've begun carving out slices of time and actually scheduling it on my calendar so that I make sure to get in studio time. I may not be able to delve in with abandon yet, but carving out appointments with myself allows me to have time I would not have otherwise have had.

This will be an ongoing discussion with myself and you as I learn. I hope you will share your journey with me and others so together we can all grow.

Last but not least, please enter your art into as many shows as possible. Also, please think about other places where you can share yourself that is outside the quilt show venue.

Extraordinary Art is made by Ordinary People like you and me. 

I entered two of my souvenirs "View from my Window" and "England's Tea Room" into our local quilt show. I was delighted to see ribbons hanging on both of them. A big thanks to Terry Knott for her wonderful lesson on properly making a hanging sleeve.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are you enjoying our travels? Australia anyone?

World Quilting Travel Adventure
These past many months, we have really racked up the airline miles with our World Quilting Travel Adventure. We have visited Oregon, Hawaii, Canada, England, and Israel and had absolutely no jet lag whatsoever!

I've had a great time designing and creating each of the souvenirs for you. Sadly, I've heard from only a few of the 28 original folks who signed on to travel with me, but I am happy that a few of you continue to let me know that you are making the souvenirs and are enjoying our visits throughout the world. I  may cut our travels short but for now, I am planning to continue our journey as planned.

I'm on the homestretch of machine quilting my Israel souvenir. I always underestimate just how long it takes me to machine quilt. I did finish quilting the hoopoe yesterday but it took me days to do him. Yep, I'm definitely a turtle quilter. I have the branch left to quilt and then I'm ready to square it up and put the facing on. This one will not have a traditional binding because I don't want the binding to detract from the piece.

However, I have been thinking about our next destination and ideas have been bouncing around in my head like crazy. I have to make myself stop thinking about it or I would never finish this souvenir! When you get close to finishing a project, does your mind start to drift onto the next project before it should? Come on....I can't be the only one....can I?

It will be a while before you get to see anything or receive the pattern, but I've decided that we must ALL go to Australia! This country is so diverse that it was hard for me to narrow down just one area to study, but I found it and you are going to love, love, love it or let's be Australian and say this next souvenir is going to be fully sick! LOL I am loving learning some Australian English Phrases.

Let's go sew!

Monday, March 13, 2017

LOOK Hoopoe Sighting & FREE TQS shows

Sorry for a bit of blur but you can only imagine my excitement at the hoopoe sighting while watching the Jungle Book movie! I ran to grab my phone and obviously couldn't hold my hands still. But isn't it great! I told you hoopoes are awesome birds. Even the makers of the Jungle Book think so.

Here's another photo of him with his wings spread a bit. What a marvelous bird.

But wait! There's more.  Remember back a post or two when I recommended Grace Errea and that she was a guest at TQS. If you are become a member of TQS, you can learn a lot from hundreds of teachers from around the globe.

Well, you can watch all 200 plus shows for FREE starting on the 17th and going through the weekend. TQS is celebrating International Quilting Day and are opening up the classes for everyone! And, there's even more. They are giving away a ton of gifts. Go HERE to enter the contest and get ready to have a weekend of bliss watching as many shows as you can take in! There will be many winners so you might as well get in on the running.

And, please don't forget to watch Grace's show first! Click HERE to quickly go to it.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hoopoe Construction Israel
Building my Hoopoe
Building the hoopoe was so much fun and I hope you enjoy building yours as much as I did. What you see above is me checking the layout for my next section. I cut the biggest part of the black on the wings in one section and then carefully cut away the sections in your pattern that say CUT. Initially, I was going to cut each of those sections individually and I had an aha moment and thought it would be much easier and nicer looking to have fewer units. This made the gluing easier as well. The only thing I want to caution you here is that these pieces are very narrow and fragile so when you remove the freezer paper, be gentle so you don't distort the fabric.

Freezer paper on wing fabric
What you see is the freezer paper cut precisely. Once I ironed it on I 'roughly' cut it out and applied the glue. After the glue dried and I ironed it to make it clear, only then did I cut the fabric out exactly following the pattern. This allowed me to keep unnecessary glue off of the front of the fabric. Grace doesn't do this but I am not as gifted as she is and really needed that fabric buffer.

Body parts! Ready for glue.
Don't you just love those feet!!!  I do.
Dried glue
This is what the glue looks like when it is dry but hasn't been ironed yet. Once you iron it, it turns clear and has a plastic appearance. Remember you can still remove the glue at this stage before ironing by simply brushing it off with a stiff bristle brush. Once you iron it, it is permanent and cannot be removed.

Please share with me your progress so others can be inspired too.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hoopoe Supplies

I've been a bit obsessive about the hoopoe. I've tried to learn everything I can about it to bring it alive in my eyes and heart. I can't remember another time when a bird has captivated me as much as this bird. Perhaps it is the thought that I cannot see one in person that has driven me to such a lengthy study. Whatever it was, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, some history on this souvenirs process of construction. As I've mentioned before, I am pushing myself to try many different techniques in these souvenirs. With that in mind, whenever I learn of something that I've not done before and if I find it interesting, I am ready to try it out. You can never learn to much and you can choose later to continue a process, change it up and make it your own, different version or abandon it completely for another.

If you get public broadcasting where you live, please watch for Quilting Arts, Season 18, Episodes 9 and 10. The artist's name I watched on TV is Grace Errea. She demonstrated her way of doing heat-set applique and also randomly pieced backgrounds in the two episodes. I was captivated watching her and knew I just had to try her way of raw edge applique. She mentioned not liking regular fusible products because the finished project was really stiff and that other methods allowed the fabric to fray too much. I love having control over a project and deciding which projects need to be stiff and which ones do not. So if you can watch those episodes, you will understand why I got so excited to try out her technique.

Grace has also been a guest on The Quilt Show. Click here! You do have to be a member of TQS in order to watch the show, but I will admit to you that it is the best $42.95 you can spend on yourself because every two weeks, you are introduced to new artists and shows plus you gain access to a block of the month that would cost double the cost of the yearly membership. Needless to say, I love TQS and have been a member from its inception.

Or, I found a very short You-tube video where she blazes by really quickly showing her building...wait for it.... a BIRD! How perfect is that? If you want to learn more about Grace, her website is HERE.

Okay, here are some pictures of some of your supplies:

Insulation board - side a

Insulation board - side b

Insulation board cut in half


Wrapped Insulation board with Insul-Bright

Painter's drop cloth 2 mil

Liquid Thread
Make sure you do not buy Liquid Stitch! It is NOT the same product. This product is made by Beacon and is called Liquid Thread.

More pictures later showing construction.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Welcome to Israel! World Quilting Travel Adventure
Welcome to Israel!
Hey, we made it! And you are going to love our visit to Israel. Did you check out the virtual tour that I posted earlier? It is amazing and if you haven't checked it out yet, please do. Don't forget that you can 'look' anywhere by moving your mouse and the camera will look with you -- up, down, front, side to side, and even completely backwards. It was so much fun. Someday, my husband and I would love to have our feet on the ground and walk the route where our Lord and Savior, Jesus walked.

But until then here are a few known and little known facts about our next destination, Israel.

  1. It is well known that the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth, but what is less well known is that it is 850 feet lower than the next lowest place, Lake Assal (a crater lake), in central- western Djibouti.
  2. The Dead Sea is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. People can easily float in the Dead Sea due to its unusually high salt concentration. It is nearly impossible however to dive into it.
  3. Nine out of 10 Israeli homes use solar power to heat water.
  4. There are over 100 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv making it the city with the most sushi restaurants per capita after Tokyo and New York City.
  5. Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship in the world.
  6. Israel has the highest rate of entrepreneurship among women and people over 55 in the world. Is it just me that thinks that is fantastic!
  7. Israeli banknotes have braille markings on them.
  8. Israelis consume the third most amount of vegetables and sweets in the world.
  9. Israel is quite technologically advanced. It is considered "Silicon Valley East," the world's second-largest creator of IT software and systems.
  10. There are more cellphones, bookstores, laptops, and museums per capita in Israel than in any country on earth.
  11. The worldwide green revolution began in Israel a century ago. More trees per acre have been planted in Israel since 1900 than in any other country on the planet. 
  12. Water-saving drip irrigation was invented in Israel.
  13. Every citizen when they turn 18 are drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). There are some who are exempt or excused due to religious reasons, however, many do serve. Boys are required to serve three years and girls two years. I personally think this is awesome and believe that service to ones country is the true meaning of citizenship. 
  14. In spite of its large media presence, Israel is very small. You can run across it from east to west in two hours and north to south in nine days. The area is 8,550 square miles.
  15. Israel's form of government is Parliamentary Democracy. The Capital is Jerusalem and the major river is the Jordan.
  16. Israel has the highest levels of bird traffic in the world with over 500 million migrating birds crossing its airspace! WOW.
  17. In 2008, Israel chose the Hoopoe as its national bird during the country's celebration of its 60th anniversary.
As soon as I saw a Hoopoe which I had to learn how to HERE, I knew it had to be our next souvenir. The more I learned, the more personal the souvenir became. This post is going to be a little longer because I just have to share more about this magnificent bird with you so you will feel as connected to the hoopoe as I do.

First, hoopoes are stunning birds with their flashes of black and white combined with a liberal dash of pale orange, offset by long, sabre-like bills and topped with an extraordinary headdress that appear like fans. They are also known as butterfly birds because of their back and forth fluttering way of flying.

They have many unique sounds depending on their mood and what's going on. Here's a few links for you to click on so you can hear and see:
  • Normal calling. I love watching his/her movements and the sound is lovely, soft cooing "oop...oop...oop.
  • Mama feeding her young. Hoopoes nest in holes and are particularly fond of old wood.
  • They love dust baths and sun bathing.
  • The are monogamous, but their bond with a mate only lasts for a single season.
  • The males are extremely territorial and make calls continually to advertise his ownership of an area. 
  • Hoopoes have a tremendous predator defense. When threatened, hoopoes have a smelly surprise for their enemies. If alarmed, a hoopoe releases a fluid that stinks of rotting meat from a specialized gland above the tail. Even the young ones have this ability to protect themselves. It is believed that this foul smell also acts as an antibacterial agent and deters parasites. I know I wouldn't want to be sprayed with a rotting meat scent. And here I thought skunks were the worst scent!
  • Hoopoes love grubs and include many different species of grubs that we consider pests such as the processionary moth making hoopoes a protective species in many countries.
  • Unfortunately, in Morocco hoopoes are traded live as medicinal products. This is unregulated and has become a threat to local populations. 
Birds add life, sound, and color to our lives. Spring seems right around to corner here because I am beginning to hear many bird songs each morning and throughout the day. Watching birds is a natural way of releasing the pressures and issues of the day. I cannot imagine a world void of birds. Birds have been used as indicators of the state of our environment for years because of their sensitivity to habitat change. Usually a drop in bird populations is the first indication of an environmental problem. 

We as stewards of our wonderful world must take care of it and even the smallest form of life or we endanger the entire structure of our planet. If birds can live on our planet, we, humans can live as well. 

I still have to quilt my souvenir that I designed for you. I'm not sure how others design their creations but for me it has been a hands on, get down and just start meddling until I get in a zone. The zone is sometimes pretty illusive and I must fight and struggle to stay the path. I'm definately not a fast designer and that's okay. Our trips are not set in stone to be monthly. Some may take longer and some may happen faster. I'm just glad you are joining me on the journey!

I'm nearly done writing the instructions and will get them emailed as soon as possible.

May I introduce you to: Dressed-to-Impress -- the flamboyant Hoopoe!

Israel Souvenir jojohall
Dressed-to-Impress - the flamboyant Hoopoe

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Virtual Tour to Israel

I am so excited to tell you about a virtual tour of Israel that I just today learned about. I didn't want to wait to tell you so decided to do a quick blog update.

The signup is free and I've watched a little bit of Tour 2 already. What I've watched so far is amazing, and I hope you will check it out since this month our destination is to Israel.

I'm working on the souvenir for Israel, but I've slowed myself down to enjoy the process more. I'm loving how it is coming along and think you will really enjoy making this souvenir for yourself. In case you don't remember, my goal is to try techniques that are new to me. I will post how I put the souvenir together but you may choose to do it anyway that you want to. I hope you will push yourself out of your comfort zone too and try new to you techniques as well. It's tough for me because I know I could have already finished some steps had I done it in a manner I'm comfortable with but than I'm not growing as an artist if I don't expand my skills.

Israel Virtual Tour

In between this and that, I've made a bunch of microwavable bowl holders. They are such fun to make. You cannot make just one! And, you know what? You can make them to fit a dinner plate as well. Cause, if you are like me, you wanna eat in your recliner while watching TV and don't want a hot plate burning your fingers.