Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Neighbor Composite

I am back at home after our long driving trip and finally back on my computer.  At last, then, I can post Randy's wonderful composite of the Neighbor quilts.  As usual, I will let him explain the how's and why's of his arrangement

  So I’ll have to admit, I anticipate reveal day as much as does Rita.

To create the composite for each reveal, I download all your creative work into Photoshop. The only “tweaking” I do to each image is remove the distracting edges caused by a slight over-lap on whatever background the quilt was photographed against. It’s easy for me to do – often difficult to do in the camera.

Next I put all those beautiful quilts on one screen and lean back and try to visualize a layout theme. At first “Neighbors” created a bit of a challenge – and you are most welcome to disagree in the comment block. But just look: If you put colors together, the themes clashed; formats together rarely work; so next I study under-tone subjects and the light went on. By under-tone, I mean, is there a common theme of buildings or animals or patterns.

Row one
It just had to be – a row of buildings. Consider an urban aerial photo to our dream of a hidden nature retreat to “urban sprawl” – it’s all there. But in today’s crowded world, you have to work to get away from “neighbors.”

Row two
How can these two quilts NOT be together, even the bull’s eyes [all four are menacing red] said so. Both even share a grin, from the delightful “flower” [sorry Kathy, you said it was just a “blond touch”] on Jersey Girl’s head to that “feeder bird” on the water buffalo’s back. Strange fact, those birds often build a nest up there and raise their young. 

Row three
I was surprised to see five of you pick animals as your Neighbors theme and thus row 3. Yes, chickens are birds
J and a barking dog who likes to dig help make the connection.

Row four
A quick glance would make you think this row was “patterns”, but then there is a heart-felt Neighbor story to remind us our obligation to each other. Then Alice and Sara’s beautiful colors and patterns turn our creative minds to what is important in…..

Row five
….people! Janet shared her life with us to show how important neighbors are to all of us. And what a finish/beginning with Judy and Carolyn’s quilts and their stories. WOW!

Thank you all for letting me briefly participate in your journey.


P. S. Carolyn, I’m going to sneak in a personal note. As  kid I remember the “ice man” making his rounds to our house because we ha a true “ice box.” He would deliver a block of ice ever so often. We always raided his truck on hot summer days in hopes of finding left-over ice chips that he would give us.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Jane’s “Neighbor” Quilt

My first thoughts about this challenge centered around Mr. Rogers’ television show. I still hear him singing about the beautiful day in the neighborhood. I tried to design a quilt with houses showing the diversity of our neighborhood. I just couldn’t come up with something I liked.

I also thought of discussions at church about Love Your Neighbor and Who Is Your Neighbor? That sent me off on images of a handshake.

Finally, I thought about “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”. I found out that it came from a poem by Robert Frost titled Mending Wall.

Our next door neighbors decided to raise chickens for the fresh eggs. I was a bit concerned thinking about roosters that crow, the smell and general mess chickens can make. I also worried about our dog and how she would react to having chickens beyond the fence. All has gone well. No roosters. We get fresh eggs sometimes. Patches doesn’t bark, but she has tried to dig under the fence…


The fence posts started as a screen print to which I added paint. I quilted it and added water soluble media (Inktense Blocks and crayons). The green background was a hand dye which I had texturized with Shiva paint sticks. The dog and chickens were various fabrics fused to the background with some dyed cheesecloth for the dirt. It was a lot of fun to make. The perspective was the hardest part for me.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Open letter to my Material Maven neighbors

I am still here and am finally getting to add my comments.  Our infant grandson was with us for a week until yesterday which explains why I posted at very late 30 and have not commented  until now. Here goes...............  Rita

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Nosy Neighbor - Mrs. P.


When I was a small child in the 1940's, we lived next door to Mr. and Mrs. Pickering.  My quilt is in honor of Mrs. P. 

My mother called her “the nosy neighbor” because she was frequently seen peeking out the window to see what was going on with all the neighbors. The Pickerings seldom had visitors, and to my recollection, were childless.

The neighborhood children made fun of Mrs. P. and sometimes called her “Mrs. Pickle-nose”. But I confess that I had a special fondness for this frail, bent-over, old lady with gray hair wrapped up in a tight little bun. Although she and her husband were likely only in their 60’s, to me they appeared ancient! 

The Pickerings had an old-fashioned, oak ice-box which meant that ice was delivered regularly. On special occasions when I was invited inside, I was fascinated to watch the iceman place the frozen block of ice into this contraption that was so different from our “modern” refrigerator. 

As I remember my childhood, I think my love of flowers must have been born in Mrs. P.’s cottage garden. I especially loved her snapdragons.  It was she who taught me how to use my young fingers to pinch the blooms into “mouth formations” so that I could pretend they were “talking” to one another.

For this quilt, I drew a pattern for Mrs. P. and used colored pencils to create the features on her face. Using Wonder-Under 805 fusing, I appliqued the designs onto various fabrics - cotton, commercial hand-painted and batik. As all elderly women in those days, Mrs. P. was not complete without her daily apron and lace collar!  

Aurifil and 40 wt. thread in Studio Colors by Ricky Tims were used for construction and machine quilting. The valance was quilted using a design pattern on my Bernina 550QE. Ribbon for tie-backs completed the curtains.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gail's Neighbors--The Good Samaritan

How did we get from a bible story to "Good Samaritan" laws?   A universal theme of neighbor interpreted in the style of Van Gogh.  I used ribbon to simulate the broad brush strokes of our master artist.  This was fun and the perfect venue for trying new techniques.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Judy S.- May Day Flowers for our Neighbor

When I was young I lived in the country and we had one neighbor right across the road from us. One of the fun things we did was put a cone of flowers on the neighbors door on May Day. What a joy to give the gift of flowers from our own garden. In Missouri spring means pansies, tulips and daffodils. Maybe that is why I love yellow flowers. 

Janet's Neighbors - Janet and Janet Kay

[Posted for Janet by Rita]
When we moved to Oklahoma City in 1956 we found a present sitting on our front porch.  A little red headed girl covered in freckles named Janet.  She was four and lived next door with her mom and dad Ray and Virginia Edson.  She was an only child and we had a big family and she just blended in. Since she was there first she went by Janet and I became Janet Kay, I still am when I'm in Oklahoma.  Her dad worked in refrigeration and brought home big boxes we used to make cars and houses and the best one, an igloo shaped box a store had used for advertising and was throwing out.   They had a station wagon and her dad would load up the back with neighborhood kids and take us to Orange Julius or to Lake Hefner to play on the fishing dock.  Heaven help the car that had to sit behind us at a stop light.  Her mom worked at the state capitol in an era when nobody's mother worked so Janet was at our house all the time.  We loved to go to her house because she had an air conditioner and a television.  We both had red hair and freckles and when we got a little older we would try anything to get rid of them. In case you are wondering lemon juice does not work. We don't have as much red hair any more but the freckles are still there.  Ray was kind of grumpy but you could tell it was just a front and I thought Virginia was the most beautiful, glamorous woman in the world.  When my mother died she took me to their house and sat and rocked me for hours, something I will never forget. Ray and Virginia moved eventually and her parents moved in next to us so we got instant grandparents.  Janet spent so much time at our grandmother's house she called her grandma and would spend the summer out at the farm with us.  We don't have neighborhoods like this anymore.  Every mother on the block was your mother and if she told you not to do something she meant it and then your parents got a phone call.  I especially loved summer, very few people had window air conditioners and after supper the parents sat out in the yard while the kids played till it got too dark to see.  You formed bonds that lasted a lifetime. Ray and Virginia will always live in my heart.

1.      My sister Jo Ann, Janet and my sister Jeannie going to a birthday party with a prize for the best homemade hat.  My mom made all of the hats and Jeannie won first prize.  1956
2.      Jeannie, Jo Ann, Janet, Jerry and me, the thumb sucker. 1957
3.      Ray, Virginia, and Janet on vacation, Janet does not recall where but this is about 1956.
4.      Virginia, my mom Lorraine and a very unhappy Janet.  This was such a surprise, I only have about three pictures of my mom so this was such a treat.   1959
5.      Ray and Virginia, she was so beautiful and there are very few pictures of Ray and he rarely smiled, date unknown.
6.      Me, my headless sister Jeannie and Janet, I'm not sure why she needed the swim cap to play in the blow up pool. 1958
7.      Janet, Jo Ann, Jeannie and the fat baby is me.  1956
8.      Easter Sunday – Jeannie, Jo Ann, me and Janet.  Easter meant new clothes, gloves, hats, purses and my favorite, patent leather shoes which were for Sunday only. 1958
9.      Janet Kay and Janet.  My mom made all of our clothes and now I know why I love rick rack so much. She also made matching outfits for their dolls.  I liked Lincoln logs. About 1958
10.  My mom, Jeannie in a shirt my mom made from bandanas, Janet and me. 1962
11.  Janet and me in front of her dad's station wagon.  We so wanted to be baton twirlers, the cheerleaders wore wool skirts down to their knees and sweaters but the baton twirlers had sparkly uniforms, who wouldn't want to wear that?
12.  Janet in front of her dad's old station wagon.  I put this in for a reason, the bush at the corner of the house had these spiky berries that we used for our mud pies.  We had a mimosa tree that provided seed pods and pink flowers and we made lovely pies.
13.  This picture is priceless to my family, we do not have any pictures of my sister June when she was a baby.  My mother was already sick and she does not have a baby book or any pictures so to find this in the package of pictures Janet sent was unbelievable.  We are so grateful. 1963
14.  Janet, Uncle Charlie, and me.  He was not our real uncle but everyone called him Uncle Charlie.  On the back it said “Put me in a watch and call me Crystal”.  My sister said he said it all the time, we never did know what it meant.
15.  Me, Donna Maize, my sister Jeannie, someone we don't remember and Janet with her new dog.
16.  Me, Janet and my sister Jo Ann “hiding” behind the tree.  I have my beloved brownie camera in my hand, I never had any film but I was a devoted photographer.
17.  I'm the hobo, Janet is the witch, and my little sister June is Mickey mouse.
18.  My sister Jo Ann's wedding, Janet is on the left end, I'm on the other end and my sister is the bride. Too bad it is black and white, all three of us are red heads. My sister made all of the dresses for her wedding and two of my sisters. 1965
19.  Janet's birthday party, her mom took us all to see The Sound of Music, Janet is holding the album at the edge of the picture.  How fitting since this is the fiftieth anniversary of the film.
20.  Janet getting my little sister June ready for the wedding, you can see the beautiful blue of the dresses.
21.  Janet on Easter Sunday posing in front of her dad's car.  Her parents did not go to church so she always went with us.
22.  I'm not sure what is going on here, we are out in the garage and when I first saw the picture I could not figure out who the two boys were.  It finally hit me that it is my sister and her best friend Donna, let’s just say they had not blossomed yet.  1963
23.  Janet and I serving cake and punch at the wedding of the girl who grew up across the street from us.  This was back when the reception was punch, cake, and pillow mints.  1983
24.  On March 7th of this year they had a 70th birthday party for my sister Jo Ann.  I could not go but Janet filled in for me. Left to right back row, my sister Jeannie, Janet, sister June, front row sister Jo Ann and my brother Jerry.
25.  Last picture, I have no idea what was going on but this is the last picture I have of Janet before they moved.       

I am so grateful to Janet Edson Simpkins for all the hard work she put in digging out old pictures for the quilt.  What a treat to see pictures of my mom and that precious one of my sister.  June and I were so young we don't remember my mother so a picture of her is priceless.  So to our sister from another mother thank you and you will always be a beloved member of our family.

P.S.   I was unable to find any copyright information for the image on the cover.  I had an autograph book with the same pony tail girl when I was little.  I asked the lady who was selling it on Etsy to check and she could not find a copyright on the photo album which she estimated to be from the early fifties.  Any copyright infringement is totally unintended.

Rita's Neighbor: My Nest Is Best!

In the early spring our backyard is a flurry of activity, with our permanent residents of Wrens, Chickadees, Cardinals and Tufted Titmice, and then with the Goldfinches descending in droves on their way North.  During this time, the ambitious little brown bird with an attitude (Wren), is building four or five nests.  After this is done, one nest is chosen for the eggs and in which to raise their family.    
When our children were small, one of their favorite books was “The Best Nest” by P. D. Eastman.  In this delightful story, Mr. Bird sings a song:
                                “I love my house.
                                I love my nest.
                                In all the world
                                My nest is best!”
But then Mrs. Bird informs him that it is NOT the best nest and so the story continues to indeed find the best nest.  However in the end, Mrs. Bird decides that the old, original nest is indeed the best, especially for a brand-new bird!

In constructing my Neighbor quilt, I first used a method for creating a woven background detailed in the April/May 2015 of Quilting Arts magazine.  Neutral batiks were woven together and the edges of the strips were stitched down using a serpentine stitch.  The birdhouse and branches were fused onto the background and stitching was done along their edges.  The five neighbors were embroidered by hand using reduced scale designs from the book, “Wild Birds, Designs for Applique & Quilting” by Carol Armstrong.  I used four strands of DMC floss and primarily used the split stitch in combination with a satin stitch on a base of cotton fabric fused to a non-woven stabilizer.  The embroidered birds were cut out, the edges sealed with a permanent fabric glue, and then each bird was glued onto the background using the same fabric glue.  The last step was to add legs which were painted onto the background.   

Sara's Neighbor - times 2

I love the three month schedule we are on - it gives me the time to marinate the theme in my head but not have to rush the actual quilt creation. The theme neighbor initially gave me a headache as all I could think of was a white picket fence and the quote "good fences make good neighbors". I don't like to follow my initial thought so I was stumped. Then I saw a wonderful quote by Marc Chagall:
"All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites." I immediately pictured a free-form pieced quilt done in analogous colors with possibly a spice of the complements. As I worked on this piece I was pleased to see house like shapes appeared in a very abstract piece. This piece is 12 by 12.

Oddly enough before I started work on this piece, I felt compelled to do this 11 by 14 quilt. The picture was a delightful pair of neighborly penguins that I took on my Antarctic vacation in February. They may have wanted to be more than neighbors since one of them was moving pebbles around. It was way too late in the Austral summer for smart Gentoos to be mating and as I am not a penguin, I have to be ignorant of their true intentions. They were adorable though and they were on a fairly populated penguin rookery. I printed the photograph in a class at Quilting Adventures taught by Kerby and Lura Smith. The photo was sitting on my design wall begging to be played with and I thought it too suited this months theme.

Both pieces were pieced in an improvisational manner and quilted on a domestic sewing machine

Next Reveal Theme

I wanted to wait until all the neighbor quilts were posted before announcing the next theme.  But it seems like Alice is still having difficulty with her picture and may not get to do it today and a few other haven't posted yet.  So here goes. . .
Your next challenge is  TIME
Have fun!!

Tricia's Neighbor that dropped in one afternoon.

 I found the theme of neighbor difficult.  The obvious thoughts are the houses where you live. I kept trying to think of the theme differently.  We live on a quiet street in a farm town.  One of my favorite things is to have bird feeders and bird houses around the yard.  I love watching the birds.  One day I was outside and this little bird appeared on my front step.  He was so cute and I have no idea of where he came from.  He just hopped about.  I took a photograph of him and think about him from time to time.  I decided this would be the perfect quilt for neighbor.  Neighbors do drop in to say hello or borrow a cup of sugar. :)

I had taken a fabric painting class several years ago from Mickey Lawler.  One of the exercises was to create bricks.  I dug that sample out and it was perfect.  Now to create my friend.  I used fake fur for the white and fleece for the grey to create his texture.  I then machine stitched his feathers. I also used the traputo technique to give him some body. I sewed beads for his eyes. Below is a detail.

Kathy's "Neighbor" That Gorgeous Purple Cow !

  I'll admit that, at first, I was stumped by this challenge.  We actually don't have a lot of what I consider "real neighbors" but what we do have around us are lots and lots of Cows !  Big, Gorgeous, Beautiful Cows !

  And then at the recent Homespun Quilters' Show in Waco, I saw it !   The perfect pattern for the perfect cow.... I was jumping up and down like a little kid !

  The pattern, "Jersey Girl" by BJ Designs & Patterns, beckoned to me, and I knew with total certainty she was going to be my "Neighbor" quilt !

  All the fabrics I chose for "Neighbor" are from my fabric stash, so I was actually able to do my fabric "shopping" right here in the Studio.  And it was really nice to re-visit all those lovely fabrics I hadn't seen in a long time  :-)

  I took my "Jersey Girl" pattern to Office Max in Waco, and had it reduced in size to approximately 12" x 12".  (Office Max is wonderful at helping with all the art challenges I bring to them.... they're so creative !)  Using the pattern as my guide, I copied all the pattern pieces, selected appropriate fabric for each of the pieces, then fused Pellon 805 Wonder-Under transfer web to my chosen fabrics. After that, I cut out all the pattern pieces using my fused fabrics, and very sharp scissors and/or a very sharp rotary cutter.

  The pattern maker suggested making a "reverse" copy of the entire pattern by tracing the pattern onto the paper side of the Wonder Under.  (Turn the pattern over, put your Wonder Under (paper-side up) on top of the pattern, and trace.  [I used a Sharpie pen so I could see the tracing better.]   Voila !  When you turn that tracing over, you can see the pattern, right side up, through the fusible web.  Now you have an absolutely perfect copy of the pattern and you're able to fuse all the applique pieces exactly where they're supposed to go !   YAY  !

[And yes, it may seem redundant to fuse the pattern pieces, and also make an entire copy of the pattern using the Wonder-Under, but it works perfectly, and was definitely worth the extra effort !]

  "Neighbor" is embellished with touches of bling here and there; her eyes are wide open as she observes the wonders of nature that surround her..... AND, as for that lovely little patch of bleach-blond hair....  Well, after all..... She's truly an Artista kind of gal !

My Studio work table  while working on "Neighbor"

My Beautiful Neighbor !

Alice's Quilt--Neighboring Colors

Inspired by a class I took in March at Quilting Adventures with quilt artist Sheila Hampton-Cooper, I decided as soon as I came home from New Braunfels to construct my Neighbor quilt using the techniques I learned in her class.  Sheila starts her own quilts with no end-result in mind.  She simply starts composing elements that will be included in the quilt and builds from there.

Sheila placed great emphasis on colors and their values, and though she has no vision of what will eventually emerge, she does choose her color palette in advance.  And so I decided to use analogous colors ranging from blue/green through red/violet.  I had some beautiful ombre fabrics that encompassed that range, and so I began there.  Analogous colors fit perfectly with our theme for this time—color neighbors!

My quilt began with the two curving sections using those ombre fabrics, and I built onto them with other fabrics.  The quilt is totally pieced, for once (for me!) no fusing.

I machine quilted much of the quilt, but on the ombre sections, I decided to use embroidery floss and a simple running stitch.  The quilt is “gallery wrapped,” using an artist’s canvas that measures 11”x14”.

Nedra's Neighbor - 50 Shades of Gray

About a week after our last reveal,  we  left for a trip to Kenya and South Africa.  We spent 6 days on safari .   Our guides were amazing - so very knowledgeable about the habits of all the animals.  We saw many animals thanks to their expertise and learned  much about their interactions with each other. They could tell by their stature and behavior  if they were feeling threatened, perhaps by an approaching lion or leopard. It was especially interesting to learn that certain animals would often be found in the same areas because of a protective relationship that they had.  Warthogs could be found near giraffes as they  provide protection with forceful kicks from their long legs.   Warthogs and hyenas often lived in the same areas - a pack of hyenas are able to take down a predator and provide protection for both.  We saw oxpeckers, usually more than one, on cape buffaloes and rhinos.  Oxpeckers eat the ticks that cover the hides of these animals.  Zebras  grazed with antelope.  If the antelope spotted a threatening animal they would all stand and look in the same direction and  make a whistle-like sound to alert the others of danger.  It was fascinating how they all lived and worked together for mutual benefit.  During one of our excursions, our safari guide, George, was explaining one of these relationships.  He said, "the oxpeckers and buffalo could be neighbors, they need each other".  A lightbulb when on and I knew what I would do for the next challenge.

I used a photo taken by my husband on safari for inspiration.  I printed a black and white copy and was determined to try thread painting again.  I reviewed Rita's posting from her Spring piece which she thread painted.  I bought the instructor's book and soluble stabilizer in two weights.  I traced an outline of the photo on the stabilizer, then layered both stabilizers and put tuille in the middle.  I used an embroidery hoop and set to work.  Amazing how well it comes out when you follow the guidelines!!!   I really enjoyed bringing the buffalo and oxpeckers to life with the stitching.  Though I quickly learned that an  almost completely gray animal is very hard to do .  Despite using many shades of gray(50???) it was difficult to achieve the right depth and dimension, especially in the neck and head.  I really liked working on the horns and ears and feel they came out the best.  And to top it off the oxpeckers were basically the same color and equally difficult to depict!!  When the stitching was completed, I dissolved the stabilizer and trimmed the tuille and stitched it down to the background which I added greenery to and an overlay of tuille for contrast and effect.  I included George's quote which was printed on a piece of background fabric.  I machine quilted and did a thin traditional binding for completion.  Below is John's photo.

Andrea's Neighbor: My Neighbor's House, Just Another Cookie-Cutter?

11" x 14" Gallery Wrapped
silk screened, commercial cotton, machine stitched

My next door neighbor's modified Queen Anne style house was probably built around 1900.  It is a sweet house with many unique architectural details, which has unfortunately been neglected over the past 10 or 12 years.  The house was sold a few weeks ago to I believe, a building contractor.  I have been wondering since the purchase if the new owner will restore the house or tear it down and build "just another cookie-cutter" style house.
My original idea was to have the silk screened grey houses in the background and then screen a line drawing image of the actual house on to a sheer grey organza and fuse on top of the cookie-cutter house forms.  I found this approach depressingly "grey" and as we have had such a horrible winter, decided that what I needed to do was add color, which just thinking about made me smile!  Out came my "Kaffe" collection, and the fun began.  I then decided to simplify the design as I was really liking the combination of screened forms behind the Kaffe houses, so the line drawing element was eliminated altogether.  Even though the premise of the quilt is a sad one, I am pleased with the outcome.

 line drawing on tracing paper

Carol's Neighbor - Google Earth View

Neighbor – Google Earth View

We live in a bit of a rural area – not many neighbors, so I thought it would be fun to do a Google Earth view of a neighborhood. My house is included in this view, left hand bottom corner, but most of the neighbors are those who I hold dear in my heart, rather than those who actually live near me.

I started with a background fabric that gave a forest feel. Then I used Misty Fuse to add some roads. I then used some of my fusing scraps to make the little houses, some with pools, and used fabric paint to create trees. All the houses needed roofs and chimneys.Stitching all around the houses and roads added a bit of separation from the background fabric.

 I had fun creating my neighborhood. I hope one of the houses looks like yours, for you are a neighbor.