Saturday, September 27, 2008

Greetings From Taliesin

Twenty Eight years ago my mother took my sister and I to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Spring Green Wisconsin. This is when I fell in love with the area that I now call home. At the time of our visit the 37,000 sf (yes 37,000 sf) home was not open to the public. Last Sunday we finally had an opportunity to tour his home together.
Taliesin was built on the sight of Wright's grandparents family farm along the Wisconsin River. He spent many summers working on the farm in his youth. In the early part of the 20th century two of Wright's Aunts ran a boarding school on the property which supported progressive teaching methods designed to enable the creative mind. The first buildings that Frank Lloyd Wright built on the property were classrooms and dormitories for this school. They were later used by the "fellowship", Wright's students in his school of architecture.
Taliesin was Wright's testing ground for many of his innovative ideas. Much of the building done in the wing pictured above was done quickly by his students. The right hand side of the building was constructed over the ashes of a fire that burned at the site. Important clients we due to arrive and Wright wanted an impressive structure ready to house his guests. Because this wing was not built on a proper foundation it has been sinking over the years. Wright's theory was he could always rebuild at a later time. This part of the building was only expected to be temporary. The shot above is of the dormitory which surrounds the architecture studio. You can see the windows of the studio in the center of the roof.

The views from the home are awesome! Wright's respect for nature, learned at an early age, extends throughout the property. Many of the trees on this property are massive. Oaks, maples and pines are 100-200 years old. This trip was well worth the wait!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quilting at Midnight

Rule # 25 - Quilting at Midnight - NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Company is coming tomorrow and I had 2 projects to finish before I packed up my sewing machine for the weekend. Here is the "Pear" quilt finished and ready to go the the quilt show. I was too tired to notice I was backing myself into a corner and too tired to care. I finished the quilting with one mistake. I decided to leave it in to remind me to always have a clear head when I start a project no matter how great or small. I have to admit this is not like me. I usually rip out mistakes and fix them, but this quilt was a practice piece. It was an exercise to learn how to create light and shadow while reproducing a photograph. On the brighter side, I love my new King Tut thread. It quilted like a dream and looks beautiful on this piece.
Rule #26 - "If you have to rip out a seam more than 2 times the seam is perfect the way it is." I use this rule often so I don't get too obsessed with perfection.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What the Dog Saw

The Queen Anne's Lace has been replaced by Golden Rod
Grasses are turning from green to gray. The indentation in the grass was left by a deer after a nights sleep. You can see these all over the farm and the deer paths that meander into the woods.
There is a small amount of color in the woods, soon to be brilliant with yellows, browns and oranges
A shot of my favorite tree before it loses it's leaves for the season.
Jack finds a cool resting spot at the end of our walk.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Walking in Nature

Sometimes living in the peaceful countryside can be deafening. There are some many different layers of sound to be heard. My hydrangea bush is covered with honey bees and there wings beat with industrious buzzing. I can hear a cicada infrequently over the singing of the tree frogs and crickets. Jack and I go for a walk and he sends all the grasshoppers and cricket running for cover in the tall grasses. Sometimes we are invaders, other times we are accepted as part of the natural flow. Today while out walking I spied a doe sleeping down in the woods along the creek bed. I sent her silent thoughts of admiration as we passed by and she watched me pass without alarm. I can smell a fox or a skunk somewhere nearby. I hope to see a fox and wish that Jack does not find out it is a skunk.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Return to Happiness or Maybe Hippie-ness?

I thought it was time to introduce myself. Here I am in all my tie-dyed glory. This shirt was the last of the white t-shirts I purchased earlier this year. I had some wonderful shades of red, gold, yellow and blue left over from my last dyed lot. I mixed them all together and came up with this fabulous mixture of autumn colors. (My friends and fellow quilters have gotten used to my rather bright sense of style and color by now.) This shirt was the icing on the cake that restored my spirits (see Color Therapy) just in time for the Madison Quilt Expo.

Speaking of the quilt show, Patsy has posted some gorgeous pictures from the show on her blog.

Here are the treasures that came home with me. I went to the show looking for the Superior Thread booth and I purchased some lovely variegated colors from their King Tut line and some of their Bottom Line bobbin thread. I have heard good things about both and can't wait to try this thread out. The dark hand dyed fabric is from Julie Baird's shop and what would shopping be without a wonderful batik or two to bring home.

I just finished Jennifer Chiaverini's "Circle of Quilters" book and had to wait two weeks for the show so I could pick up the continuation of the story in "The Winding Ways Quilt". It turns out the she was there signing her books and the bookshop was set up a few feet away. I asked Jennifer to sign my copy to our local quilt guild. I will donate my copy to the guild library when I finish reading it. The quilts at this show were amazing. I took lots of pictures but I'm a bit leary of posting other artist's work on my blog without permission.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I've Been Blogged About - Updated

I just received a note from Patsy that my jewelry is making an appearance on Tammy Tadd's "A Tadd More" Blog. How wonderful is that? Tammy, Miss Sherry and her staff are some of my best cheerleaders. My jewelry is available at Tammy's shop "Tammy Tadd Designs"and last Spring she added my jewelry to her booth while vending at the Chicago and Paducah shows. Tammy's quilt shop is located in Sycamore, IL. It is one of my all time favorite shops. If you are ever in the area make a point to stop in. You will love this charming shop and all the ladies who work there. I live 3 hours away and usually make it in 3 or 4 times a year.

The photo above was taken when I was getting pieces ready to send to Tammy for the shows. I still can't believe I sewed so many quilt blocks in so little time. It was fun to see everything spread out in one place.

For those of you new to my blog here is a bit of information about my pieces. My miniature quilt block jewelry is made with hand dyed fabrics which are foundation pieced to muslin. These block are then sandwiched between two pieces of glass and joined with lead free and nickel free solder. You can turn the jewelry over and see the stitching on the back. I use surgical steel ear wires on all of my earrings and the findings on my pendants are nickel free. You can follow this link to an earlier post about my jewelry and my favorite colorways.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Color Therapy

Last week was a really tough week. I haven't had many good thoughts to share. I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment and indulged myself with a little color therapy. A few days ago I was strolling the blogosphere and ran into a lovely textile used as a tablecloth on My Marrakesh. I decided I would try to replicate the pattern with a new dyeing technique. I really like the result. The main dye colors used in this batch were cobalt and fuchsia. I always enjoy working with these two dyes when using low water immersion dyeing techniques. The results are always varied and interesting. By the time I was washing the dye out of these fabrics my usual good mood had been restored. The tie-dyed fabrics reminds me of the stars in the night sky on a particularly good night when the milky way is in full view. I was happy I had the foresight to make a small piece to add to my personal stash. Wishing you a wonderful week!

Friday, September 12, 2008

End of Summer Approaches

Apples are ready for picking and baking. Mmm apple pie... I can't wait!
The last few blooms of the clematis vine
I've been hoping to get a picture of a Giant Swallowtail for some time. Every time I see one my camera is never handy. This one flew by the window today so I chased it down until I finally captured a shot.
I'm off to the Madison Quilt Expo tomorrow. A few of my friends have entrys and I can't wait to see their quilts. I also want to pick up a current copy of Quilt Mania magazine. My friend David Ewing has his "Circus Quilt" featured in the most recent issue. His quilt is an interpretation of an early 20th century quilt design by Maxfield Parrish. I'm a big fan of Maxfield Parrish and David's quilt is so true to Parrish's style. Well done David!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dye Another Day

I finally photographed and listed some of the fabrics I dyed this weekend. I wanted to add some Autumn colors to my Etsy Shop. I thought the oranges, reds and golds needed a good complementary color to really set off the Fall colors. I started with cobalt and cerulean and then over dyed the blues with a couple hues of yellow. I love this fabric. It reminds me of a raging forest fire.
This fabric had my husband and I craving butterscotch pudding. It is so yummy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Prairie Renewed

This flower has many names around here: Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm,
Monarda Fistulosa and Horsemint Wild Yarrow and Queens Anne's Lace
Green headed Coneflower

We have lived on our farm for 6 years now. We do not have livestock. My husband likes to joke that we grow rocks and weeds. In actuality we are growing a habitat to help preserve wildlife. Every year I see new flowers in the fields. They are multiplying and spreading. The population of birds that nest here is growing too. This year the bluebird population was much larger than it has been. For the first time we had a nesting pair of Baltimore orioles stay the season.

The heavy rains early in the season produced grass taller than I have seen before, some coming up as high as 5 1/2 feet tall. I can see where Frank Lloyd Wright received his design inspirations. He was born in our county and his summer home and studio are in nearby Spring Green, WI.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Where Storms Are Born

One very interesting thing about where we live is watching storms form. A majority of our summer showers form in the late afternoon as the temperature starts to drop. Most of the severe storms are formed very close to our home and then build as they travel east and southeast. The moisture of the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin River play a huge influence on our weather patterns. I love watching the clouds build. This cloud appeared during a short walk one afternoon. We are currently experiencing rain from the remnants of Hurricane Gustav. We can usually expect a day or two or rain when a hurricane travels north through the Gulf of Mexico. Southwestern Wisconsin has had very little rain this August. It is a welcome sight!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lazy Weekend, Friends Reunite, and Quilting Again

We had a wonderful weekend. On Sunday we went to a picnic at a friend's farm which reunited us with good friends. It was a lovely settling at an old farm house.

Their youngest son Benny started this stacked stone wall when he was in sixth grade. The wall is made from the stone found in their fields each spring. The now completed wall wraps around the front and side of the house. Benny just left for his first year of college. Yes, that is a working cannon you see on the porch. Mike is a civil war buff and enjoys firing the cannon on special occasions. I have always been surprised that the old glass windows of the house are all still intact.

I decided to take a break from my fourth art quilt this weekend after two failed attempts at machine embroidery. I took a little time to work on a favorite project. I started this quilt in April of 2007. It has been pieced and basted since January of this year, but I have allowed very little time for projects of my own this year. I fell in love with this fabric line from Fun Quilts and the simplicity of the quilt pattern. This king sized quilt is going on my bed so I decided to hand quilt the top. I love the feeling of hand quilting on a finished top. I also love the relaxation and satisfaction that comes from hand work. I have one third of the quilting completed. I have vowed to get this quilt done before the first snow. Wish me luck as it snows early in Wisconsin.