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Fabric Scraps Obsession

100 Block Sampler Quilt Finally Done

Now that I am not working on my Etsy shop and making project bags, I am catching up on projects stuff I put aside. One of them is the Tula Pink 100 Modern Quilt Blocks/City Sampler quilt made from my fabric scrap collection (I think I last posted on this quilt in this post – Quilt Top Assembled!) which came back from the long-arm quilter in September.

A couple days ago I decided it was time finally put the binding on the quilt and finish it off. It was so relaxing to sit and meditatively sew down the binding:

After I got the binding on, I laundered the quilt and now it sits on my chair on the upstairs landing.

I also recently finished the “diamond painting” bookmark that started working on with a friend a couple weeks ago (see blog post Making a “Mark”):

So I am feeling very productive!

A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

That darn grief, the Etsy shop saga, and a little grace

Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I’ve been posting images of the project bags/drawstring bags I’ve been making in preparation for holiday season sales on my Textiles & Smiles (textilesandsmiles) Etsy shop.

Here are some of the cuties I’ve made:

And I had a lot more planned…

The bags are super cute in person and they have interfacing throughout the bag so they have a good heft and stand up on their own, I love them so much and I was excited to offer them on my shop (I sold out of the batch I made last year for the shop).

But, alas, that darn grief has taken ahold of me this holiday season/pending Winter again and as I approach the 4th anniversary of the passing of my life partner for 30+ years, Terry the Quilting Husband.

And I am not up to fulfilling orders this holiday season so I am putting my Etsy shop on hold for now.

This widow thing is a curious journey, you never know when you will suddenly be gutted with grief…

Thanks to everyone who has supported my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop since I reopened it last November. Also thanks to those who were enthusiastic about the Project Bags (the photo below = a bedroom closet with some of the completed bags I was going to sell) I’ve been posting on IG that I was getting ready to offer on my Etsy shop this holiday season.

I was taking forever, and it did not make sense, to get the photos of the items and the listings up on Etsy. I finally figured out was was paralyzed with grief and could not bear fulfilling orders, etc. I had a recent sale on Etsy of the spools that John had made (see post Handmade Spools) and it was pretty excruciating to get that order completed.

Who knows why last year during the holiday season I could offer stuff on my shop and fulfill orders but this year I cannot. Grief is a mysterious weird thing.

I think of a wonderful card my friend Wendy sent me awhile back with with a reminder to “give yourself grace”:

I keep this card along with a matching candle I found while thrifting right before the card arrived (!) on my bookshelf to always remind me that sometimes I need to just take a breather…

So giving myself some grace, I’ve put my Etsy shop on hold for now and I am going to work on what is calling my heart – working with recycled materials and creating a new body of work of my art quilts.

And what will become of the existing project bags? I will put the completed ones away for now and then decide whether to just finish up the ones in progress or put them away also…

Knit and Crochet Away!, tierneytravels

Another knitted hat complete

Knitter blogging friends: Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Non-knitter blogging friends: Oh wow look I knitted another hat 😉

I follow several amazing knitters who are busy making complex colorwork knitted hats, socks in their sleep, shawls with fancy lace designs, and tiny Aran cabled sweaters. And I have made ANOTHER simple knitted hat with the same pattern I’ve been using since the early 2010s.

But it’s another hat (option to wear) and its DONE!

Before my trip to Ireland I wanted to have a knitted hat to work on during the trip (a very portable travel project). Here is the hat early in its creation during my train ride from Dublin to Galway:

Since returning from Ireland in October, on subsequent my recent travels (to Omaha, Nebraska, to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and to Atlanta, Georgia) I’ve been working on the hat, especially when on planes:

And last night I finally finished that hat!

Here I am wearing my new hat (which is the same as all my other hats, ha!):

Oh and here is a follow up from my post earlier in the week Cute and Curious Kitty Quilt Trunk Show – I got the quilt that my friend J gave me while I will in Fayetteville, AR, on the wall yesterday.

I am so honored to have one of her mother’s quilts hanging in my home, I put it in the downstairs guest room:

It goes with the beach-y/nautical theme in the rest of the guest room as when you think of Colorado (hint: landlocked state), you definitely think of the ocean – ha!

Her mother hand quilted the quilt and I am amazed at all the work that went into that quilt!

tierneytravels

Cute and Curious Kitty Quilt Trunk Show

Hey there, now it’s Tierney of tierneycreates writing a post, instead of the Beastie in the previous three posts about our recent trip to Fayetteville, AR to help a friend unpack and organize her studio – Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part I, Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part II, and Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part III.

The tierneycreates Beastie has already, in those posts, introduced you to J’s cat Oscar, quite the adorable kitty. Oscar wanted to be part of everything we were doing with unpacking and organizing J’s studio. He also wanted to be part of when J was trying to do a “quilt trunk show” for MJ and I.

J is a quilter but also does many other creative crafts. She is also a former architect and professional photographer. She is infused with creativity and I am fairly sure she got some of her creativity from her Mom who was a prolific quilter.

Here is J’s favorite quilt of her Mom’s which hangs in one of her guest bedrooms:

One evening J treated us to a trunk show of a collection of her late mother’s quilts and Oscar was all about being part of the show!

The quilts were wonderful but I was definitely distracted by Oscar’s mischievous cuteness!

J gifted me one of her mother’s quilts and I plan to hang it in my basement guest bedroom which has a nautical/beach theme (don’t laugh at me – I know I live in Colorado a “land locked” state, ha!):

What an amazing gift!

Beastie Adventures, Guest Blogger, tierneytravels

Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part III

tierneycreates Beastie back again continuing my series of posts of our trip to Fayetteville, AR to help our friend J unpack and organize her studio and hang out with our friend MJ who joined us.

If you are just joining us here are links to the previous 2 posts:

Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part I

Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part II

In the previous post I mentioned my run in with the cat Oscar while I was taking my dog Mikelet for a walk in the backyard. Tierney moved Mikelet and I to a safe location, the porch swing, just in case Oscar decided we were cat toys.

Mikelet got pretty cozy on the porch swing and was ready for belly rubs:

Mikelet was a very good dog during our trip and mainly laid about and slept while we worked on the studio unpacking and organization project.

Here is what J’s studio looked like by day 3 of the project. Tierney had made it her mission to get J’s sewing machine area cleaned up so J could sit and it and sew!

I even found a clean spot on the cutting/worktable in the center of the room:

On Day, Tierney, Mikelet and I had to head back to Denver but our friend MJ sent us this photo of a completely cleaned off worktable!!!

Amazing!

By the time we left every box was unpacked and nearly all the boxes were broken down and moved to the garage for future recycling.

Early in our project, Tierney came across this plaque in one of J’s boxes and hung it on the wall of the studio for motivation:

I guess it worked! But what really worked was the untiring and persistent efforts of J, MJ, and Tierney (and me cheering them on) “kicking #ss and taking names” on those boxes! They were quite the RELENTLESS team!

They didn’t just unpack boxes and organize the studio, they also did some fun stuff, but Tierney forgot to bring me along so I’ll let her tell you about it in another post.

J’s new home was really beautiful. So I will just close my series of posts with some photos of her lovely home and her amazing collection of art from J’s world travels (for example the ancient Egyptian themed framed quilt is from her trip to Egypt) . Also Tierney made J a little hostess gift, one of her drawstring bags, and that is in the photos below:

Beastie Adventures, Guest Blogger, tierneytravels

Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part II

tierneycreates Beastie here with Part II of the saga of our friend’s studio project (Part I on post Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part I).

Here I am in my observation tissue box taking notes for this blog post:

So after a day of unpacking boxes, J’s studio looked like this:

It might not look like it, but we were making great progress! Especially when we got the closet organized and set up for J’s WIPs (works in progress) to be stored out of the way (plus she could see all the projects she has to get done by the end of the year – ha, ha!):

Unpacking all those boxes we made a bit of mess between the boxes themselves (which we broke down) and the wrapping papers.

But we had a curious kitty Oscar who was fascinated with all our unpacking activities, especially the wrapping paper:

Oscar even tried to help us break down some of the boxes:

I’ll admit Oscar was cute, but I am not too sure of my comfort level around Oscar. When I tried to take my dog Mikelet for a walk around J’s backyard, Oscar came a little to close for comfort:

Tierney had to intervene and move Mikelet and me to another area as we weren’t sure if Oscar would think I was a cat toy!

After a long day of unpacking, J who is an accomplished pianist, treated us to an impromptu concert on her beautiful Estonia piano (which Tierney thought also looked beautiful in B&W):

Wow all those symbols on the page look complicated, not sure how J understood them all!

Well more progress to come in Part III of this series of posts…

Beastie Adventures, Guest Blogger, Studio, tierneytravels

Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part I

Hello this is tierneycreates Beastie, filling in for Tierney who has just returned from a couple days in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Mikelet my miniature Miniature Schnauzer and I went with her, and we consulted/helped with the unpacking and organization of her friend J’s studio in Fayetteville.

(if you are new to this blog, my story is on this post –  I’m A Monster!!! and you can see all my posts at this link: Beastie Adventures).

Tierney and J’s Central Oregon based friend MJ also met up with us there (and Tierney and I got to fly on the same flight from Denver to Bentonville, AR as MJ had a connecting flight from Central Oregon).

J had moved from Central Oregon (where Tierney and I used to live) to Fayetteville, AR and then had a major life changes and did not have the time and chance to unpack and organize her quilting/art studio. She invited MJ and Tierney to visit her and MJ came up with the idea that we could also work on getting J’s studio to the point where she could do her art again.

Here I am on my way to Arkansas – Mikelet and I traveled in Tierney’s backpack:

After visiting with J and MJ a while when we first arrived in Arkansas, we headed upstairs to J’s studio to see what we were getting ourselves into

Oh dear.

Looking around, I realized we’ve got a bit of work to do.

Well I went ahead and set up a temporary desk in the tissue box so I could blog about our project!

Next guest post I will show our progress, but for now I will close out this post with a funny sign J had in her studio:

image credit; amazon.com
tierneycreates

Making a “Mark”

Last Friday I went over my friend Michele’s house for an afternoon of crafting. She got me and herself a kit of “Diamond Painting” bookmarks and we worked on making our first diamond painting bookmark.

The kit has 4 bookmarks, one representing each season (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn):

At first it was confusing to us on how to do the diamond painting and how it worked (no directions) but we figured it out. We decided since it was currently Autumn to work on the Autumn (the purple/pink one) bookmark.

Here are some photos:

Because of the tiny little beads you work with, we put plastic wrap on our work area to try and capture stray beads.

At time is was tedious to do diamond painting but it was fun to see the progress and of course fun to hang out with a friend.

Michele actually finished her bookmark and here is the lovely finished Autumn bookmark:

Beastie Adventures, tierneytravels

Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part II)

Hello this is tierneycreates Beastie finishing up my Beastie Travelogue of our visit to Ireland.

Human Tierney at some point will share her Ireland adventures from her human perspective (boring) but I am not sure when that will be. She is making stuff for her Etsy shop for the upcoming holiday season and has had more intermittent travel with Human John on business trips. Perhaps she’ll blog about all those things someday…we’ll see…

Here I am getting ready to write the Part II of my previous post – Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part I) . However, my dog Mikelet continues to be a bit naughty, seeking attention (he’s still mad he did not get to go to Ireland we John Beastie and myself) and is standing on Tierney’s favorite miniature tape measure (which is the perfect size for him), distracting me from writing!

Okay so back to my travelogue…

So after a couple days in Galway we took our rented car onto to Doolin, Ireland. On the way to Doolin we stopped at Dunguaire Castle, the Cliffs of Moher and Lisdoonvarna.

Here are a couple photos of John Beastie and I outside of Dunguaire Castle before we went inside:

Tierney didn’t let us take too many photos as it was very windy and she was afraid we would blow into the ravine!

After the castle we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. Tierney will likely share a post about the allegedly amazing Cliffs of Moher. I say “allegedly” because as she left John Beastie and I in the car! All I know is she was really hyped up when she got back in the car after visiting those cliffs!

She did let us out of the car in Lisdoonvarna, a small town which is home to the annual Matchmaking Festival that happens every September. Here is a little from the website linked on the name

Europe’s biggest singles festival takes place every September in the small village of Lisdoonvarna on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The month long Irish festival attracts people from all over the world looking for Love, fun and a bit of ‘craic’. The festival is over 160 years old and couldn’t be more different from online dating services. There’s music and dancing in every bar from 11am in the morning to the wee hours of the night and those looking for love can meet Ireland’s only traditional matchmaker Willie Daly in his ‘office in the Matchmaker Bar. Legend has it if you touch his ‘lucky book’ with both hand’s, you’ll be married in six months!

– matchmakerireland.com

In the Lisdoonvarna town center there were statues commemorating their famous Matchmaking Festival. I just had to climb up and get my photo taken:

My partner John Beastie reminded me that the statue was about “matchmaking” and since he was my “match” we should probably be photographed together:

I probably should have stood up for the photo but I’d gotten pretty comfortable in the arms of the statue!

Finally we arrived in Doolin where we were to spend a couple more days before heading back to Galway, dropping off the rental car, and taking the train back to Dublin where we would fly back to the U.S.

Doolin is known as the home of traditional Irish music and it is filled with Irish pubs with live performances each evening of traditional/folk Irish music.

Matty Beastie (who I introduced in the post Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland!), like Human Matt, loves traditional Irish music, so human Matt brought Matty Beastie to the pubs in Doolin:

Matty Beastie traveled in Matt’s jacket pocket (I think Tierney and John should take a lesson from Matt and start carrying John Beastie and myself in their pockets).

Sorry there aren’t anymore photos of John Beastie and I to share from our trip to Ireland. Tierney was busy photographing less important things I guess…sigh.

I’ll close this post (and my travelogue) with a little video of Matty Beastie enjoying traditional Irish music while we were in Doolin:

Beastie Adventures, tierneytravels

Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part I)

Hello there – this is tierneycreates Beastie returning to guest blog post and continue the story of John Beastie and my trip to Ireland which I began in my previous post – Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland! . (If you are new to this blog, my story is on this post –  I’m A Monster!!! and you can see all my posts at this link: Beastie Adventures).

My dog Mikelet has calmed down now that I’ve been back a couple weeks. If you remember from the previous post, he was standing on my desk trying to get attention while I was writing you a blog post. Now he only peers over my desk trying to get attention…

I am ignoring him for now (but will take him out of a walk in the chilly morning – Autumn temperatures have hit in my part of Colorado – when I am done writing) so I can share a photo travelogue of some of the highlights of our trip to Ireland.

I’m only going to focus on what John Beastie and I did, as human Tierney can write her own posts about her adventures!

DUBLIN, IRELAND

Before we got to Dublin, Ireland the four of us (humans and Beasties) flew from Denver, CO to LaGuardia airport in New York. While at the LaGuardia airport, John Beastie and I couldn’t help ourselves and had to go and hang out where it said “Do Not Climb“. I think they meant “Humans Do Not Climb”, I don’t think this sign applied to Monsters!

John Beastie and I were so excited to go on our first holiday together we had difficulty minding the humans! (and Tierney grew up in NY and was getting a little too sentimental about the “I love NY” sign so we had to do something to calm her down…)

Our first day in Dublin, Ireland was spent with John and Tierney the humans as their friends Matt and Kathy were not arriving until the evening as they were flying in from Scotland where they had spent a couple weeks.

So Tierney and John shared with us their first Fish & Chips in Ireland:

No worries we were careful not get to get any grease on our clothes (especially since they were the only outfits we had for 1 week in Ireland!)

After the Fish & Chips we had a wander about and visited places such as the Christ Church Cathedral and St. Audoen’s Church and the beautiful adjoining park. Here are a couple photos from those wanderings:

We also wandering about the streets of downtown Dublin taking random photos:

When we met up later that evening with Matt and Kathy, we got to enjoy our first fresh Guinness pint in Ireland! (Okay it was Tierney’s pint, she had a lot of hesitancy of letting Beasties near alcohol…):

The next day we first visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and John Beastie and I entertained ourselves by finding places we probably shouldn’t pose for photos at:

Then went to the Guinness Storehouse (brewery tour)with Matt and Kathy and John Beastie and I took some photos there (this one is my favorite):

After the Guinness tour, we met up with Helen of CrawCraft Beasties who made me and I’ve already shared the stories from that reunion (for me) and first time meeting (for Kathy and Tierney) in my post Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland!.

The next day we took the train from Dublin to Galway to spend a couple days in Galway.

There was so much to see looking out the train window, every if it was overcast and raining.

Here we are in the lobby of the lovely hotel we stayed in Galway – the Galway Bay Hotel – which was right across from the beach/water:

It was so windy in Galway along the water, John Beastie and I tried to take some photos but my hair was blowing everywhere:

Human Tierney had the same problem (but she pulled it out of her face for her selfie):

Of course John Beastie and human John did not have this problem, as they have not hair (on their heads)!

We finally had to settle for a photo away from the wind among some flowers in the garden at the hotel:

I’ll continue our Beastie Travelogue in my next guest post, but I’ll close this post with a really stupid photo Tierney took of us while she was waiting for human John to check out from the hotel (so they could head via the car the four humans had rented to the next part of the Ireland adventure!)

She had us stand in a tray on the coffee table of the hotel lobby (my eyes are rolling):

We are not decorative! We are monsters!

Special Events, tierneycreates

Recycled Windows Selected for NMA Public Art Program

Recycled Hope IV: Recycled Windows has been selected for the New Mexico Arts Art in Public Places Program.

RECYCLED HOPE IV: RECYCLED WINDOWS

The notification I received by e-mail from Public Art Program Coordinator stated:

“Your submission has been selected to be part of Prospectus #268 Southwest Artist Series Purchase Initiative. The submitted artworks will be made available for purchase through the Art in Public Places Program. Your work will be shown to various sites throughout New Mexico with available 1% for public art funds. If your work is selected for purchase, I will contact you directly to begin the purchase process. The work will be made available for purchase for two years…”

Fingers crossed my art quilt gets selected for purchase! If I does I will need to get the art quilt (which measures 18 inches by 39 inches) professionally framed and have it professionally installed at the location in New Mexico it was purchased for. An estimate of the cost to have this done was included in the price I proposed to New Mexico Arts. It would so fun to travel to our neighboring state and oversee the installation!

If you’d like to read the Artist Statement for this piece which was created for a Central Oregon SAQA show several years ago, here it is:

18” W x 39″ L, recycled clothing, recycled denim, and recycled home decorating fabric

THE STORY OF THIS PIECE:

If you peek inside the window to my creative heart you will see it filled with a desire to reuse, repurpose, and reimagine materials which otherwise would have been discarded. Part of my Recycled Denim Stories Series, this piece blends a corduroy shirt and pants, denim jeans, sweat pants, a tweed jumper, an old curtain, and home decorating fabric sample scraps into an assemblage of window-like structures.

This is the second piece I’ve had selected by the NMA for their Art in Public Places program. The first piece was Recycled Hope III: Windows of Conversation in 2020 (see post Recycled Hope and Acclaimed Artist Series). Recycled Hope III: Windows of Conversation however was sold to a private collector in 2021, so I had to pull it from New Mexico Arts’ catalogue of prospective art for purchase.

Feature photo credit: New Mexico Arts

A Crafter's Life

Closer to Fine

I will eventually return to posts on my recent trip to Ireland (either by me or by the tierneycreates Beastie…smile) but I thought I would share a recent musing in this post.

When I travel by airplane I like to listen to music when the plane is taking off (it calms me) and I usually listen to Pandora which has on offline option (when no WiFi available or device in “Airplane Mode”) which plays downloaded stations.

Well on a recent flight as the plane was taking off, the song “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls came on…

At first I gasped as I’ve been trying to avoid for the past nearly 4 years all songs and performers that my late husband Terry and I listened together, especially if they were his beloved groups such as the Indigo Girls.

Terry passed suddenly and unexpectedly in December 2018 (I am approaching the the anniversary of his loss) and he LOVED singer-songwriter music. Our favorite bands (that we enjoyed together as we also had music that we enjoyed separately) included the Indigo Girls, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Gov’t Mule, Ben Harper, Joan Osborne, David Gray, and other music similar to those artists. We’ve seen also those artists in concert (some many many times) but the group we’ve seen in concert the most times was the Indigo Girls.

The Indigo Girls were Terry’s favorite singer-songwriter group and he knew the words to most their most popular songs including “Closer to Fine”. We’d go to their concert and he’d sing along (quietly) to most of their songs. But the song he really loved, knew absolutely every word and would sing at the top of his lungs along with the other audience members was “Closer to Fine”.

Over the years I guess the Indigo Girls made “Closer to Fine” a “sing-a-long song” with full audience participation expected. And Terry would always sing along at their concerts (which we attended at least yearly). One of my favorite Indigo Concert memories is when they had a concert in one of Bend’s neighborhoods – NorthWest Crossing. I guess they story is they were visiting friends who lived in the area and decided to just have small concert at the neighborhood monthly festival! Not a lot of people knew about it and it was a small audience crammed into a little neighborhood space watching the Indigo Girls play with a smaller version of their band. Sort of one of those once in a lifetime experiences! So glad I got to experience that with Terry.

Before I go further, let me share a video of the album version of the song if you’ve never heard it before:

And here are the lyrics to Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls (courtesy of Google):

I’m trying to tell you something ’bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeah

Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah

I stopped by the bar at 3 A.M.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountain
Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine

Closer I am to fine, yeah

And if you are curious, here is what the concert sing-a-long version of the song is like:

I get chills (and tears) when I hear the audience sing acapella: “we stand up for the lookout” and then sing loudly with the Indigo Girls the last couple lines of the song together.

I can still hear Terry singing along with the audience the last three lines:

Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine, yeah

At first listening to this song again, I was overwhelmed with sadness and despair (over what was lost – a lifetime with my music/concert buddy and amazing life partner/best friend) but then I turned it around in my mind and realized that over the nearly past 4 years I’ve gotten myself:

CLOSER TO FINE

I’ll never be fully “fine” and I accept that. I will always be a widow who lost the love of their life (even if I am so blessed to have my wonderful partner John in my life, who is a widower and deeply understands my journey and the heartbreak I carry around) but I am at so much better a place than I was a couple years ago.

And better than I was last year.

I get a little more “closer to fine” as the years progress.

If any of you are on the same journey as me (dealing with a life changing loss) I hope you getting a little “closer to fine” everyday even if you gain only millimeter of distance each day.

Thank you Amy Ray and Emily Saliers for your amazing song and lyrics…

Indigo Girls, image credit The San Diego Union-Tribune

 


Postscript

I think one of the things people do not realize about widows and widowers, is that they did not just lose the person they (likely) loved most in this world. They also lost their entire life with that person – all the history they shared, things only they knew, the memories and experiences they shared, and most of all (in many cases) their deep bond and friendship. You lose the person you shared your deepest secrets, your partner in life. For many (like happened to. me), they also lose their identity and have to create a new one. 

As my grief counselor said: “You have to now go out and create new experiences and memories on your own” (and yes that is unbelievably difficult to do)

Thank goodness I had a wonderful grief support group and continue to know and interact with amazing people who are on my same journey and understand the depth of the loss. I am also thankful to those who do not understand the experience of the loss but are kind, patient and supportive with me on my journey.

If you know someone who is grieving such a loss, please be patient and kind to them – their loss is more than you can imagine.

A Crafter's Life, Sunflowers!

The Sunflowers!

We’ll continue with stories from the tierneycreates Beastie on our trip to Ireland (see post Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland!) but I’d like to pepper in some posts that I as drafts before I went to Ireland, planning to schedule them for posting while I was overseas, but forgot about them (distracted by Ireland!).

I love sunflowers, so much that I have a category on my blog on posts about them – Sunflowers!.

Summer is over and we are now deep into Autumn but I wanted to share some of the sunflowers in my garden this season that made me smile. Also I learned how to properly harvest sunflower seeds (thank you YouTube).

Here some of my favorite sunflowers from my garden (to me they are glorious…to you you might wonder: “why is Tierney using up some of her blog’s image limit on these pictures”, ha!):

This year I successfully grew a giant sunflower. Yes ONE giant sunflower, but when it finished blooming and go to the seed maturing phase of its existence, I figured out how to harvest the seeds for next year:

I am pretty excited as I think there are over 100 sunflower seeds in that jar. Just think if every seed became a giant sunflower and then I harvest each of those – I could have a “Sunflower Empire” at my house! (No worries of this happening, I do not have the garden space to achieve this…unless my neighbors let me use their front lawns also….)

MY FANTASY:

image credit: Lone Star Travel Guide

Okay I will be happy with 5 instead of just 1 giant sunflower next year.

Speaking of fields of sunflowers, I do have a wonderful memory of actually sitting in a field of sunflowers. I did this in 1998 during my first visit to Italy. Here is a photo I took of a photo in an old scrapbook:

I wonder if my partner John will mind if I pull up the grass in our backyard and turn it into a field of sunflowers…

I love sunflowers so much I have them around my house. Here is my upstairs guest bathroom which is decorated in a sunflower theme:

Recently I brought home a new enamel tea pot and cups from Ireland and I had my first pot of tea with them and used my sunflower tea cozy!

By now you are likely tired of sunflowers so it’s good it is the end of this post (smile).

Image credit: saudos.com/
Beastie Adventures, Guest Blogger, tierneytravels

Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland!

This is tierneycreates Beastie guest blog posting (if you are new to this blog, my story is on this post –  I’m A Monster!!! and you can see all my posts at this link: Beastie Adventures).

You haven’t heard from Tierney or myself in a while as we’ve been in Ireland!

Tierney, John, John Beastie and I recently returned from Ireland and I got to see my maker Helen of Crawcraft Beasties & Knit with Helen; and Tierney got to meet Helen in person for the first time!

We had lots of adventures in Ireland visiting cities such as Dublin, Galway, Doolin, etc. I told Tierney I would get the blog posts on our trip started as she is still rather jet lagged.

Here I am trying to write this blog post (sitting at my desk that John built me, see post Guest Blogger: A Desk for Me!) while my dog Mikelet is trying to get attention from me as he missed me on my long trip (we did not take him for fear he might get misplaced during the trip).

We visited Ireland with Tierney and John’s friends Kathy and Matt who visit Ireland a couple times a year. Kathy’s family is from Ireland and she still has family there and Matt who is part Irish, is well versed in Irish culture and history.

Kathy also knows Helen as she has been working with Helen to get her husband Matt his very own Beastie!

John Beastie, Tierney, Kathy and I met up with Helen and visited a pub for a Beastie reunion with Helen. Here are a couple photos of our initial reunion, I could not decide which one I like best of my awesome maker so I included them all!

She was pretty pleased to see us again as she sends her Beasties out all over the world and rarely gets to see them in person again once they’ve traveled across the ocean!

After the pub, we all headed to Helen’s studio for a little tour of her studio, to meet the new Beastie for Kathy’s husband Matt, and to take a little knitting class (Helen is a professional knitting instructor) to learn how to knit cables (which scare Kathy and Tierney).

This is Helen’s new studio and although John Beastie and I were not “born” here but it was awesome to be in a place where our fellow Beasties are now “born”:

Here is a little photo tour of Helen’s bright and cheery studio:

After a little studio tour, it was time to meet “Matty Beastie” (and his dog Riley) the new Beastie Helen made for Kathy’s husband:

Matty Beastie comes with his dog Riley the Chocolate Lab (to see the Canine Riley check out the post Loved (or mugged) by a Lab, Tierney is Riley’s “Dog Godmother”), a pint of Guinness, as well as his PJs (if he gets tired of wearing his jeans) and his famous slippers.

Helen brilliantly added a magnet to Matty Beastie’s chest so he could hold up his pint of Guinness:

John Beastie and I took a group photo with our new friend Matty Beastie who we would now be touring Ireland with:

As you can see I was not sure where to look during the photo as Helen was also taking a photo of our group at the same time.

We got distracted during the photoshoot and Riley ended up sampling some of Matty Beastie’s Guinness!

I did take Matty Beastie aside and give him some tips on managing humans and how to get away with things right under their noses…

While John Beastie and I visited with our new friend, the humans Helen, Kathy and Tierney) had a cable knitting class. Below is a photo of the class sample and a photo of Tierney clumsily trying to knit her first cable (she won’t be whipping out a new Aran sweater for me anytime soon…).

I am sure Tierney will do a post about it whenever she finishes that headband.

After the knitting class, we headed back out to a pub (the humans visited a lot of pubs while in Ireland) to meet up with human John and human Matt so he could be surprised with his new Beastie!

John Beastie and I watched with anticipation while Matt excitedly unboxed his new Beastie:

Matty Beastie was a hit with Matt and John Beastie had raise a pint to toast the newest member of our US based Beastie family!

Sláinte!

More stories to come on our Ireland adventures. Tierney asked me to include this photo as proof that she and human John really did come on the trip:

I am also including this photo – Tierney captured in a moment of pure joy hanging out with my maker Helen in person for the first time:

image courtesy of Kathy R.
Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part III

Here is the final installment in my series of posts about opening weekend of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West at the James Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida where my quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was showing.

If you are just joining us, here are the two previous related posts:

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I 

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part II 

Before I share more about the show’s opening weekend, here is a little about my time in St. Petersburg, Florida.

WANDERING AROUND ST. PETERSBURG

I’ve been to several cities in Florida in the past, but I do not remember ever visiting St. Petersburg, so let’s call it my first visit to St. Petersburg, FL. The James Museum is located in downtown St. Petersburg and although my partner John and I had a rental car, we primarily explored the downtown area where our hotel was also located.

One day between opening weekend events, we walked down to the pier area and ran into some very friendly pelicans hoping for us to feed them (which we didn’t – we listened to the posted sign!)

One of the pelicans was following me around and after a while appeared annoyed that I hadn’t fed her/him yet!

There was all sorts of interesting birds wandering around downtown St. Petersburg, here are some curious birds we ran into at a public park:

They were sort of flamingo like but I am not sure if they are in the same family. If you know what they are, let me know!

And of course I had to take some Black & White photos while wandering downtown St. Petersburg, here is my favorite of the photos I took (the rest were “nothing to write home about” so I will spare you a B&W photo essay of downtown St. Petersburg):

John and I had lunch one day and a fun restaurant, Oak and Stone, that featured a self-sampling craft beer area where you got a wrist band that you scanned and selected whatever sampler craft beers you wanted (though they did have a limit of how many samples you could buy during one visit!). Each tap had information about the craft brew selection.

We had a lot of fun sampling beers!

John and I discovered that St. Petersburg has an unusually large number of museums for its size of city – 31! We joked that since there is a lot of wealth in St. Petersburg, “everyone and their brother” wanted to have their own museum!

And now we’ll return to the show’s opening weekend.

BLACK PIONEERS SHOW OPENING WEEKEND CONTINUED

On Sunday September 11, 2022 the museum held a brunch for the artists and the show’s sponsors. After the brunch there was a panel presentation with the show’s curator Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi and 6 of the artists discussing the topic “In Search of Freedom: The Black Presence in the West”.

Each artist discussed their piece in depth and responded to Dr. Mazloomi’s discussion questions about the topic. It was an amazing panel presentation by amazing women. The women in the panel are educators, college professors, a civil rights attorney, historians, and professional artists. Dr. Mazloomi is a retired aerospace engineer and she was not the only PhD level educated artist in the room.

Some of the members of the WCQN have art quilts permanently installed at the Smithsonian Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

I cannot begin to put in to words how it felt to interact with this entire group of talented and brilliant women that are part of WCQN during the Black Pioneers show’s opening weekend. Here is the group photo I shared in the previous post about the show opening:

image credit: James Museum facebook page

How lucky I felt to stand among this group of women! I had so many engaging conversations with the other artists during the show’s opening weekend and there are rumors that in the future we might have WCQN artist retreats and I cannot wait to be in their presence again!

If you’d like to read about how I first got involved with the WCQN, this post tells the story – Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me (re-post). Thank you Universe for letting me run across that magazine that led me to reaching out to Dr. Mazloomi while browsing at Barnes & Nobles in 2016!

I will close this series of posts with this recent interview of Dr. Mazloomi, a National Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (highest award given in the U.S. to an artist), that played on a loop on one of the museum’s walls during the exhibit. I think it is worth a listen.

We as African Americans have participated in the making of this country since we stepped off the boat. African Americans have been explorers, they’ve been business people, they were cowboys, they’ve been part of the fabric of every facet of this country and people will see that the quilts…Quilts have jumped off the bed onto the wall and they are now seen as works of art…these are not the quilts that your grandmother made, they are truly seen as works of art…with the use of cloth we tell the stories not only of our cultures but the making of America…

Carolyn Mazloomi
Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part II

When I finally sit down in front of my laptop and open my blog (after a hiatus) the decision is: do I catch up on my blogging buddies posts first or do I write a new post. I am just going to go ahead and write a new post otherwise I will get distracted again (smile).

Here goes Part II, continuing the story I started in the post Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I, about the opening weekend of the Women of Color Quilting Network show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West at the James Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida where my quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was showing.

At opening on Friday Sept 9, 2022

Friday September 9th was the opening reception, and on Saturday September 10 there was a “Meet the Artists” event allowing show attendees to chat with and ask the artists questions.

For the “Meet the Artist” event, the museum lined up chairs by each piece so the artist could take a break and sit down during the 2+ hours talking to the public and signing books.

I talked to a lot of people about my quilt. I was especially touched by a mother and daughter duo who told me that my piece was the reason why they came to the show. As I shared in the post Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West (upcoming exhibit)., my piece was used in the advertisement for the show. See more about the advertisement for the show at the end of this post.

I also had a wonderful conversation with young lady who asked me about how I became an artist. I think she was a preteen. I could tell she was a budding artist and in addition to answering her questions, I had her share her own artist journey to date. She had me sign her book and then brought her sisters by to have me sign their books also.

In addition to chatting with show attendees, I had fun chatting with my fellow artists in our little “pod” in the corner of the exhibit. Here they are hanging out or signing books for show attendees (we signed a lot of books!):

Wow there was some tremendous talent at the show. Here are some of my favorite pieces that I viewed at the show.

Artist: Carolyn Crump

I always “fan girl out” when I see Carolyn’s work. It is otherworldly!

Artist: Dorothy Burge

Dorothy Burge spoke at the Artist Panel during the Artist Brunch on Sunday and shared in detail the story of the amazing woman featured in her piece. I love how the quilt is only the figure of Mary Fields with no additional background.

Artist: Viola Burley Leak

The above 5 quilts were breathtaking in person, the photos do not them justice. The Watts Riot piece was huge and the colors were so vivid and powerful in person, a real masterpiece! I got to chat with the artist and she shared some of the daunting challenges of creating this piece.

Here is a little gallery below of more amazing art quilts at the show depicting the lives of Black Pioneers in the American West:

If you’d like to see all the quilts and read their full Artist Statement, the exhibit catalogue is available for Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West by contacting the gift shop at the James Museum at (727) 892-4200.

It was such an amazing show. Here is a photo taken by the James Museum’s photographer and posted on the museum’s facebook page of the entire group of artists that attended:

image credit: James Museum facebook page

Postscript

I mentioned earlier in this post that my quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was used as advertisement for the show originally (eventually they added other quilts to the advertisement or replaced my quilt).

image credit – The James Museum
image credit – James Museum facebook page

As a result my quilt was featured in press/media about the show. Below are a couple examples:

The Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Exhibitions webpage:

image credit: SAQA website

The Visit St. Pete (St. Petersburg)/Clearwater visitor website:

image credit – visit st pete clearwater website

WUSF Public Media (St. Petersburg area NPR station):

image credit – WUSF website

Local Today/Oklahoma News:

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter:

I accidentally found most of these when I was googling the show; and my friend Wendy sent me the SAQA one.

Here is a local television news story about the exhibit before the show officially opened:

You get a brief glimpse of my quilt for a moment. I saw this clip before I attended the show opening and got to see my quilt had a freestanding wall all to itself!

A Crafter's Life, Life in B&W, Outside Adventures!

Truly Alive

My next post was going to be Part II of this post Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I.

But then I went to the Garden of the Gods, the national natural landmark in Colorado Springs, CO (my 4th visit) this weekend while my brother and his family were visiting.

And I stood here for a while gazing at the 300+ million year old rock formations across the grassland and got very reflective

Then I stood here for a while and got even more reflective:

I starting thinking about an Instagram post I did a couple months ago and how I feel “truly alive” in Colorado.

Here is what I wrote on Instagram:

My third anniversary of living in Colorado came and went without any fanfare but I’ve been thinking about it today.

I arrived in Colorado from Bend, Oregon (a truly magical place to live that I would’ve lived the rest of my life if life changing disaster had not struck) around April 20, 2019 to start a new life after being surprisingly widowed in 2018. Little did I know what glorious adventure awaited me in Colorado, the next chapter of my life.

I have this framed advertisement in the wall of my sewing studio. Two months after my husband suddenly died and I was sitting in my Oregon home strongly doubting my decision to move to Colorado, and I randomly opened a magazine and this ad was the page that opened! OK universe I hear you…

I am the adventure that will replay in your mind. The story you’ll tell for years and years. The invincibility you feel, if only for a moment. One beautiful, breathtaking moment. I am Colorado. And I’ll show you what it’s like to be truly alive.

Colorado.com

Whoever wrote the copy for that Colorado visitor guide advertisement I’d like to give a huge hug to.

“Truly Alive”, that is what I felt when I was wandering around the Garden of the Gods on Saturday.

I spent time with the group wandering around; and at the picnic we had on one of the over 300 million year old elevated rock formations. Here are photos of my brother and I hanging out as well as a haphazardly snapped photo of our picnic among the ancient rocks (while I was trying to balance food on my knee and take a photo):

I also spent a bit of time alone, allowing the group to wander off on their own. Here is a video I took as I looked upon a scene (which I’ve seen 3 times before) that took my breath away:

Here are a couple more select photos from the day but nothing compares to being there in person. It was a gloriously beautiful day in a spiritual sort of place.

And of course, here are some photos in Black & White:

I am Colorado. And I’ll show you what it’s like to be truly alive.

Thank you Colorado. (And thank you to me for being brave enough to move here for the next chapter of my life adventure).


Postscript

If you’d like to see much higher quality video footage of the Garden of the Gods, here is a video I found on YouTube that I think captures some of the beauty I saw on Saturday:

Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I

Last Friday, John and I headed to St. Petersburg Florida for the opening weekend of the show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art.

The museum is really gorgeous inside (the Executive Director told us it cost 65 million to build and 5 million a year to maintain…) and filled with some amazing Western themed art, especially a lot of Native American themed art:

When we first arrived to the opening night reception on Friday, our first stop was the museum gift shop to pick up extra copies of the exhibit catalogue (they gave each artist a complimentary copy):

And we plopped ourselves down at the museum’s cafe/bar area with our complimentary adult beverage and thumbed through the catalogue to find my piece!

Yes, I won’t lie, it was pretty exciting!

After getting snacks at the cocktail reception, before we headed upstairs to the exhibit I stopped to pose with the exhibit poster sign:

Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the show’s curator and the founder of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) spoke at in the main hall stage at the museum during the reception and had all the artists come up on stage with her after her presentation:

Then it was time to go upstairs and see the exhibit! You’ll never guess what I did first – yes, find my piece on the wall and start taking photos:

Note: The museum placard for my piece is an abbreviated version of my full artist statement. If you’d like to read the entire artist statement, see the post Update on the Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet Quilt.

I also had Dr. Mazloomi sign my exhibit catalogue and took a photo with her:

I am so honored that she responded to my inquiry years ago about WCQN. I am so proud to be a member! So far I’ve been in two other shows: Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium (see post Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium, Part IV), and Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young (see post Secret Quilt Revealed, Part II: Yours for Race and Country).

This is the second show opening I attended, I did not attend the one for Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young as my husband had recently died and although I was so honored to be in the show I was not emotionally ready to attend events like that. I am so happy I got to attend the opening for Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West, and it was awesome to have my partner John there with me (and he acted as my photographer when I was in group shots or busy talking to show visitors.

I am going to close Part I of this series of posts about the show with a less than a minute walk through video of the show on Instagram and a longer version (over 3 minutes) on YouTube that John took. More to come in future posts in this series to include some close up images of several of the amazing quilts in the show!

I accidentally deleted the minute long video I took landscape perspective after I loaded it to Instagram (and I even figured out how to set it to music), so darn it I could not load it on to YouTube!

Bags Bags Bags

Back to Some Drawstring Bag Making

It’s time to restock my Etsy shop Textiles & Smiles that I reopened last November and I’ve decided to first make a stash of drawstrings bags which sold well with my first reopened shop offerings.

(Previously my Etsy shop was called “tierneycreates” but there was a whole reopening fiasco that I shared in the post My Etsy Shop is Now Reopened – tierneycreates is now TextilesandSmiles. I’ve grown to embrace the new name “Textiles & Smiles”, which is part of my original tagline – “tierneycreates: a fusion of textiles & smiles”.)

I kept some of the drawstring bags for use in my studio, they are great for storing scraps:

Over the past week I’ve enjoyed picking out fabric combinations for the top, bottom, and lining for the bags. Here are some combinations I got excited about:

I’ve also selected some fun novelty fabrics that I think will make fun bags.

So far I’ve cut out 30 bags and then it is time to get them all interfaced and then get to sewing!


Postscript

A little follow up to Mike the Miniature Schnauzer’s recent post Guest Post: John, Project Man (Part II).

Mike continues to provide oversight of John’s projects and here he is on a recent trip to a tool store to help John pick out a new tool.

And here he is advising John on the correct tool to select:

I am sure Mike did his research before coming to the store (I am always finding him on my laptop…) 😉

A Crafter Needs to Eat, Guest Blogger, Miniature Schnauzer Musings

Guest Post: John, Project Man (Part II)

This is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer guest posting as Tierney has been taking too long to write Part II of this two part series of posts that began with John, Project Man (Part I). Okay it’s only been a couple of days but Miniature Schnauzers are an impatient breed in general so it’s my nature.

So I opened up the laptop and got to work:

Ready to fill in for lazy Tierney

Yes, John has been busy on projects, and I would prefer he follow my lead and do something like this:

The perfect “hobby”

He won’t listen to me about napping instead of remodeling, so I’ve had to spend a lot of time at home improvement stores supervising him:

I need to charge an hourly dog biscuit wage for all this work

So Tierney and John got it in their heads that they needed to remodel the basement bathroom, which is also the main guest bathroom for pesky humans that visit us.

And then they decided that they should also replace all the toilets in the house as they are the original toilets from when the house was built.

I am unclear why they would want to waste their money on new toilets as we have a perfect good backyard to take a pee in like I do.

And if they need to poop they could just follow my lead and do it on my twice a day walks.

But I am not going to carry around their poop bags like they do for me – ew! (What is wrong with humans, why are they always collecting my poop and carrying it around in little baggies on our walks – what are their plans with it?!??!)

I know the answer…

We have a lot of pesky humans scheduled to visit us in the near future, so last weekend they worked on remodeling the bathroom (I used the term “they” loosely as it appeared Tierney was only in charge of snacks).

Here is John removing the old tile floor:

Take that floor!

I stayed away from this as he was making a lot of noise and creating a lot of dust.

Instead I did this on his behalf:

These naps aren’t for me, they are for John so he can live vicariously…

Tierney did not bother taking step by step remodeling photos (there goes her career as a home remodeling Instagram influencer) but here are some photos of what it looked like with a new floor, new toilet (waste of money), new lighting, new fixtures (whatever that means, dogs don’t care about “fixtures”), and new shower curtain:

John has his bar near the bathroom and collects nice whiskeys as a hobby, and so they went with a whiskey themed bathroom. The shower curtain according to Tierney is a reproduction of the original “whiskey still” patent (whatever the heck that means, humans are so weird).

They also took photos that John took in 2019 when he went on a Kentucky Bourbon tour with his friends, converted them to black & white photos, enlarged them, and then framed them as art for the bathroom:

They were pretty pleased with themselves when the project was done.

Tierney did mention that her fantasy would have been to just gut (that sounds painful) the whole bathroom and do a nice tiled walk in shower but that was too expensive an option. But they are happy with the small amount of money they spent (they wasted) on the remodel.

When John is not doing remodeling projects, he is doing his other favorite hobby: cooking.

Here he is in the kitchen making my favorite of their human meals – pizza! I like when they (using the word “they” loosely again as Tierney is in charge of getting pizza making supplies out of the refrigerator only) make it because sometimes a little cheese will fall on the floor, and they always give me a piece of their pizza crusts!

John always makes a pizza for my Grandpa (John’s Dad who I visit all the time) who lives nearby; and my human brother (John’s son) and his family, whenever he makes pizza. It’s like he supplies pizza to 1/2 the neighborhood!

So this closes out the series of posts on “John, Project Man”.

Now I have to get back to my very important project:

If you’d like to read more of my musings, they are all under this blog post category: Miniature Schnauzer Musings.

A Crafter's Life, From the Woodshop

John, Project Man (Part I)

My partner John has been busy with a bunch of home improvement projects (I have helped a tiny bit) and I thought I would share. I have nicknamed him “Project Man” because he loves staying busy with projects (though I’ve been working with him on just relaxing and not always being busy).

SOFA TABLES

We like to hang out and watch movies on the sectional sofa in our basement (and it is right near John’s bar so easy access to cocktails too!) but we needed some additional options on where to put our popcorn and drinks.

We already had this tray on the ottoman that John and made (see post From the Woodshop: Tray for our Ottoman):

But we constantly had to lean over to access our snacks and beverages while movie watching.

So a little research online and John and I found a style we liked for a table that would slide under the sofa and make our snacks and drinks quickly accessible.

Here is John working on the first of the two tables he ended up making, it was his first time making dovetail joints for furniture:

Here is the first table in use:

Sometimes we set that table between us and sometimes John just uses it on his side of the sectional sofa (we each have our own areas that we “nest” on the sofa).

After that table I was made, I thought – “what about a bigger version of that table that I could sit under and working on my laptop or eat a meal on?”. So John made a bigger version and here it is in use:

It also works well as an end table:

John made sure the two tables could nest together out of the way when we are not using them:

We’ve definitely enjoyed them on a couple recent movie nights!

SCREEN FOR SWING

One of the things I loved about my backyard in my previous life in Oregon was my backyard swing. Last year we found a lovely swing on sale and installed it in the backyard.

Last summer (2021) John made a screen for the backyard patio area to make it more cozy:

Recently, I asked John if we could repeat the concept he used last year for the patio screen, for the section of the backyard with the swing. So a couple weeks ago, John made a screen for the swing so you can feel super cozy when relaxing on it:

It is now a wonderful place to read a book! (And if I bring a couple pillows over from the patio seating, it is a great place to take a lazy afternoon nap!)

I continue with more projects in Part II of this series of posts, but let me close the post with pictures of Mike the Miniature Schnauzer at one of his favorite places – a home improvement store. He loves to ride around in the cart (we call him “Mike in the Box”).

He was helping us buy toilets for the projects I will share in the next post.

Life in B&W, tierneytravels

Downtown Las Vegas in Black and White

Recently we returned from a long weekend trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. This time we did not stay on “The Strip” (the Las Vegas Strip where the major hotels, shows and attractions are located), instead we stayed in the section of downtown Las Vegas know as Freemont, or the “Freemont Experience“.

Freemont is older and grittier than the Vegas Strip and definitely filled with colorful characters. Initially I took photos in color but then I thought it would be fun to take a series of photos in Black & White and share them with you as part of my ongoing blog post series – Life in B&W.

One morning I went wandering and there were a few interesting metal art installation in downtown Vegas including a heart filled with locks and keys; and a very large praying mantis:

You’ll see the sun in some of the photos – it was only 9:00 am but it was already very hot (eventually climbing to 100 degrees F/38 degrees C) and the sun was definitely part of my walk.

Here are some buildings and street scenes that caught my eye:

Here is a little of the actual “Freemont Experience” section of downtown Vegas:

My favorite discovery during my wander in downtown Vegas was the street art on some of the buildings:

And here was my favorite:

Be a Maker! Not a Taker!

So awesome!

Oh and in case you are wondering – I donated a little money to the slot machines and called it good. I am not much of a gambler. We did take the bus and spend part of one day of the trip on the Vegas Strip and had some wonderful meals at a couple favorite eateries on the Vegas Strip: Eataly and Din Tai Fung.

We didn’t catch any shows this time but we had a lot of fun lounging at the amazing pool at our hotel (Golden Nugget) that had an aquarium in the center.

My partner John was brave and did the water slide that takes you through the aquarium. I stayed poolside sipping on my frozen cocktail!

tierneycreates, What's on the Design Wall

Starting an Art Quilt

This post is not about starting a specific art quilt* (though I will share an art quilt I am in the progress of making), it about a little of the process I use to design a new art quilt.

*When I use the term “art quilt” I mean a quilt using an original design that you design/create; not based on an existing pattern (though a pattern could inspire it); and either improvisational or based on a specific idea/concept/photo that inspired the quilt.

One of my long time blogging buddies sent me an e-mail with the questions below (some paraphrased) after she saw my completed memory quilt post (see posts Update on “The Challenge” , Update on Memory Quilt, and The Memory Quilt is Complete and Given):

  1. What do you find successful when you are creating a design? 
  2. What is one thing you do that helps you focus and get rid of all the noise and clutter that come with color, design, prints, etc.?
  3. There are so many complicated variables (in making an art quilt),  how do you start?

I let her know I would answer her questions in a blog post in case anyone else finds my musing interesting and possible useful. (And at the end of this blog post I am going to invite you all to weigh in with your answers, so start thinking about them now as you read mine!)

What do you find successful when you are creating a design?

THE MEMORY QUILT

What I find successful in creating a design is to sit down and write out my general concept and what I want to accomplish with this quilt. For example on the memory quilt I made my friend I wanted to 1) make a quilt from as many of her mother’s favorite clothes that I could; 2) make something that feels like it is a hug from her late mother; 3) try and use some of the more challenging fabrics in the design.

In writing out my general concept, I consulted some traditional quilting books for ideas. I did not want to make it “improvisational” with a lot of little pieces placed randomly (or in a format such as a free form log cabin). I wanted it to have some defined structure.

During my research (looking through my collection of quilting books) I found a pattern that had hearts appliquéd over plaid (via four patches) squares. I thought – “yes that is it!” – the hearts could represent love from her late mother; and the plaid design (four patches) was doable with the challenging fabrics I needed to work with (like velour, a polyester scarf, etc.).

MY CURRENT ART QUILT IN PROGRESS

Recently I’ve started a new art quilt for a special show I am hoping to get into. It would be my first international show. I’ve been invited to submit a quilt for it but it has to be acceptable for the exhibit in order to make it into it. That’s all the details I’ll provide on the reason for the quilt for now, but more to come in the future.

I followed the same initial process as I did with the Memory Quilt – I sat down and put my thoughts on paper. I used my art journal (see posts Creative Inspiration: Peek Inside My Journals and Creative Inspiration: My Journals) to jot down ideas and sketch out ideas for the layout of the quilt.

My art journal where I sketch out ideas, I made a cover for it to make it special

Ideas about the quilt are not just focused on how the finished quilt might look. They are also about what I’d like a viewer of the quilt to see, experience, think about, etc. What feelings and thoughts so I want to evoke when someone looks at the quilt? What do I want the quilt to say (or try to say). What is the theme of the art quilt, what is it about. I might also start to write a draft Artist Statement for the quilt to really get me thinking what I want the quilt to “say”. See my little “side bar” below for more discussion on this concept.

*** SIDE BAR ***

For example, all of quilts I’ve made for the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) shows that I’ve been in had specific themes so I had a starting point. I knew what the quilt needed to in general “be about” and from there I had to narrow it down to what I wanted to share about that topic. Example below with the quilt I did for the WCQN show “Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium: Quilting the World’s Conscience“ which was inspired by the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I was assigned (actually I got to select which Article from the Declaration I wanted to use) Article I: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” 

So that was my starting point. I knew what I needed to portray in the quilt, I just had to figure out how to get there.

Here is an early sketch from my journal as I was working on the quilt:

And here is the completed quilt:

I am not sure how to put in to words how I got from the sketch to the completed quilt but it was through trial and error, and lots of experimentation. But I knew I wanted it to be a classroom with a person who looked like my father in the 1970s teaching because he was the one who taught my two siblings and myself the values in Article I. Also I come from a long line of teachers and I wanted to honor education/teaching.

If you know what you want to accomplish with the art quilt, then it helps you have a clearer vision.

Okay that the end of the side bar, so back to the current art quilt in progress….

This time the quilt was inspired by a collection of machine embroidered blocks a friend gave me years ago along with coordinating 10 inch x 10 inch sections of coordinating fabric; as well as a group of fabric printed “trees” I designed and printed years ago in a fabric ink printing class.

What I want to accomplish with this quilt I am still working out. I am thinking through whether I want it to be a deeply personal piece about grief based on the somber colors of the quilt and the tree images, or it if I want it to be more uplifting (or some blend of both).

After I came up with my initial concept/idea/layout, I laid out all the fabrics I’d selected for the piece on my cutting table in my studio:

All the fabrics I am considering laid out on the table

Then I put up a sample of each fabric and the special blocks (the embroidered blocks and the printed trees) up on my studio’s design wall:

One of each laid out on the design wall

Having the fabrics up on the wall helped me think about addition and subtraction (what I need to add to the design as far as fabrics, and what I need to take away) and I decided not to use the gold tinged fabrics in my design. I decided to just stick with muted grays, browns and taupes.

Here is a close up of some of the embroidered blocks I am using in the piece, one of the printed trees, and an example of the cool fabric my friend gave me:

If these fabrics looks familiar (and you’ve been following my blog a long time) I first shared them back in 2018 in a post called What’s Simmering on the Design Wall. But I abandoned the project as something else caught my attention (I guess I let it “simmer” too long and the inspiration evaporated away!).

Here I am with the quilt design right now – I am thinking of a medallion quilt layout…

Okay time to move on to the next question…

What is one thing you do that helps you focus and get rid of all the noise and clutter that come with color, design, prints, etc.?

Writing down my ideas on in my art journal, that is the number one thing that helps me focus. If my ideas change as I play with the fabrics on the design wall or the table I have them laid out upon, then I write down my new ideas.

As far as eliminating “the noise and clutter”, for me that is reduced by having a clear concept of what I want to accomplish (see “SIDE BAR” above).

I usually select a color palette early on in designing a piece. I’ve noticed that I am attracted towards “Southwest” and “Desert” type colors – rusts, beiges, greens, sky blues, etc. and I have repeated that palette in several art quilts. I read somewhere that if artists select a palette that they usually work from it can become a signature of their work.

Here is an example of an early art quilt I did called Central Oregon is Central to Me which uses that palette:

And then you can see I repeated this palette years later in a quilt I made for the WCQN show Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young”. The name of this piece is Giant Among the Sequoias.

Color is very powerful and I’ve read a couple books about select coloring in the design of quilts. Two that I highly recommend were written by one of my teachers when I lived in Central Oregon – Jean Wells Keenan: Intuitive Color and Design and Journey to Inspired Art Quilting.

It was actually in her Journey to Inspired Art Quilting Workshop series that I took at the Stitchin’ Post in Sister, Oregon that I began the quilt Color Story V: Abandoned Water Structure, which was the first of my art quilts purchased by the City of Seattle for their Portable Works Collection (the City of Seattle now owns 4 of my art quilts made from recycled silks which they rotate through their municipal offices).

If you want to know more about this piece, see my post “Your Body of Water” Exhibit, Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery in which you will see the photo of an actual. abandoned water structure that inspired this piece.

I might be rambling at this point, but I want to take a moment to share two additional major things that have helped me “get rid of all the noise”: 1) reading books about art quilting; and 2) taking classes with experienced art quilters (ongoing workshops are especially helpful – a series of classes with the same instructor helps you build upon concepts learned). You can also find a mentor and that can come from joining either a local or national art quilting group.

You cannot become an art quilter on your own (well maybe you can but I couldn’t) – you need mentors and teachers and it is very helpful to learn some formal art quilting concepts and techniques so you have them in your “tool bag”.

I know I need to take some more in person classes in the future. For now I just read art quilting journals, watch YouTube videos, and read books. So many awesome books have been written by some very talented art quilters!

Now on to the last question.

There are so many complicated variables (in making an art quilt),  how do you start?

See above (smile).

So those were my answers to the three questions:

  1. What do you find successful when you are creating a design? 
  2. What is one thing you do that helps you focus and get rid of all the noise and clutter that come with color, design, prints, etc.?
  3. There are so many complicated variables (in making an art quilt),  how do you start?

I INVITE YOU TO SHARE YOUR ANSWERS AND FEEL FREE TO RAMBLE AS I DID 😉

Studio

Treasures Discovered in my Fabric Stash

Yesterday I discovered treasures in my fabric stash: a collection of what I believe to be South African Shweshwe fabrics.

Many years ago, an art quilting mentor in Oregon had shared with me some of the bounty of fabrics she inherited from her friend’s aunt who had died, who was a world traveler, and had collected fabrics from all over the world during her travels (primarily small samples and pieces, rarely yardage/metres).

I was able to select a sampling of fabrics from the huge stash of fabrics and I was attracted to a collection of blue and white fabric fabrics, that had a lot of texture to them, that I thought were Japanese textiles.

I end up shoving this collection of blue and white fabrics away with my collection of Asian fabrics and I did use a some of them to make this simple blue and white quilt years ago, along with a large collection of Japanese blue and white fabrics I got from the inherited stash:

I was just trying to put to use a bunch of the awesome fabrics I got from the late aunt’s stash, little did I understand the treasures I was using up….

So, as I shared in the August 2021 post Awesome Surprise Treats in the Mail!, my South African based long time blogging friend Mariss (@fabrications) sent me some treats in the mail all the way from the other side of the world, which included these awesome Nelson Mandela fabric pieces:

At the time I received these fabrics (June 2021), I did not make the connection to the similar other fabric in my stash, which I had mistakenly labeled as “Japanese”.

But yesterday a light bulb went on in my head (oh how dim my brain has been sometimes) and when I came across that stash of blue and white fabrics again, I took a close look at the label most of them had on the back:

3 Leopards fabric by the Da Gama Textile Company in South Africa! A little further research and the fabrics appear (and please correct me if my brain bulb is being dim) to be South African Shweshwe fabrics.

From the Da Gama Textile company’s website, here is some background on Shweshwe fabrics if you are not familiar with Shweshwe:

Shweshwe has a history going back thousands of years, with the shweshwe we know and love today making its way to SA for the first time in the early 1840s. Today, we produce shweshwe by the traditional processes, using a weak acid solution to bleach out distinctive designs. This gives the fabric an authentic look and feel, as well as the distinctive smell that consumers know and love. Shweshwe is a unique Eastern Cape fabric and Da Gama Textiles is aptly referred to as the “home of the original shweshwe”. It is not uncommon to see patrons taste, smell and feel the fabric before committing to a sale, to ensure the cloth is authentic. Shweshwe is sold by folded bolt and not on a cardboard core in roll form, staying as close as possible to its roots of origin. All of these unique characteristics date back to the long sea voyages from the UK to South Africa, which formed the original transport route for this cloth. A strong starch is used to preserve the fabric, resulting in the hard handle and distinctive smell, which disappear after washing.

The Shweshwe fabrics I am lucky to have in my fabric stash are so beautiful and have an amazing texture and feel to them. Here is a sampling of some of the fabrics I have:

All the backs are marked with either a full or partial version of the Da Gama Textile Co. label.

And here is the whole pile including the Nelson Mandela fabric that Mariss sent me:

I revisited that blue and white quilt I made many years ago and winced to see fabrics such as this example below in the quilt:

I was thinking: “I should have saved that fabric for something really special.” But then I remembered that I look at/enjoy this quilt every day as it at the foot of my bed on my partner John’s grandmother’s antique chest. So the Shweshwe I’ve already used in my stash has gone to good use!

POSTSCRIPT

I found this awesome blog post from 2018 by Urbanstax called What is Shweshwe, that is worth a read:

urbanstax.com

Did you see that blue and white wedding dress photo in the blog post made from Shweshwe fabrics – WOW!

tierneycreates

The Memory Quilt is Complete and Given

The Memory quilt I made my friend whose mother passed, using her mother’s favorite clothes, is completed/quilted and I’ve given it to her.

This is a follow up/end of the story for the following previous posts about this quilt:

I decided to quilt is myself and did a combination of hand and machine quilting. I talk more about this (and share photos) on the previous post “Update on Memory Quilt “.

Slogging through machine quilting
Mike the mini schnauzer providing emotional support under the table while I quilt

I used a floral fabric with the colors in the quilt top as the back and the binding.

Here’s the completed quilt (which is of course a rectangle, it just looks triangular from the camera angle) in my studio:

A couple more photos:

And yes that is me at the bottom of the photo above awkwardly trying to take a photo of the quilt on my cutting table in my studio while trying to use my ring light.

Something I did not mention in the previous post on this quilt – before I quilted it, we met my friend and her husband for dinner while my sister was visiting a couple of weeks ago. I brought the quilt top (not quilted yet) with me to show her.

At the restaurant I pulled out the quilt top and handed it to her to look at before our food arrived.

She started crying. She was so touched and overwhelmed with seeing her mother’s favorite clothes made into a quilt top she could not contain her emotions. My eyes started to get moist too and I was touch.

She was very happy with the final product which was delivered to her on Saturday. She wants to hang the quilt on the wall but I strongly encouraged to cuddle under it and let it be a “hug from her Mom”.