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Paw prints in paint… almost!

Mixed Media Collage June 2013Lately I’ve been stitching more than painting. I’m not convinced that they aren’t the same practice for me but in a different media. I’ve had a few paintings on the go. All very small scale (A3 or smaller) and mostly unclear in their direction. The one above has been floating around on and off as an A3 piece for ages. I had layered Golden Fluid Acrylics in my usual fashion – here using Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Transparent Red Iron Oxide and Phthalo Blue.

The choice of colour combination was extremely scientific. Those particular bottles were almost empty and I wanted to use them up so I could toss the bottles out. (My little unit is very cluttered and while on a practical day I can see that removing 3 small bottles is really not going to do much, at the time it seemed like a good idea).

However it was going nowhere fast.

It’s probably been on the table for the better part of a month. So I did what I often do when an art piece isn’t progressing – I do something drastic! In this case, I got a stanley knife and cut my A3 piece down to A4. From there, after some rummaging in my collage materials, the piece ‘appeared’. I can’t explain how this happens; it just suddenly comes together.

It was almost ‘adjusted’ by Saffron planting her bum on the table. Fortunately, she was about 1 inch from the wet paint. Of course, it’s the only time she has sat on the table in recent history. She rarely leaves the heater. Even when it’s not on she sits next to it in hope! As does her sister… here they are at it again!

Licorice and Saffron loving the heater

Fibonacci Floral Lap Quilt: Part 1

Fibonacci Floral Step 1Recently I was fiddling around with some fabric and ended up creating these ‘mushrooms’ by hand stitching using perle cotton. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I had an idea to incorporate them into a small lap quilt.

After some pondering and meddling by my dressmaking teacher, the idea of a Fibonacci Floral Lap Quilt was born. I loved the lines in the ‘mushrooms’ and wanted to use the colour of this background fabric (a faded grey-green to blue; not unlike the leaves on some wattle trees) in ‘strips’.

Fibonacci Floral Step 2Step 1Make a life size template

I daresay a sophisticated photocopier may have come in handy here and an extra big piece of paper. However I adopted the thrifty method. My piece of paper is in fact 6 pieces of paper stuck together with masking tape. With a ruler and a pencil, I carefully enlarged the drawing to actual size (about 18.5″ X 20″ – no there’s nothing fibonacci about the dimensions!)

Step 2: Dividing the Flower by the fibonacci number 

You may be wondering where’s the fibonacci piece of this quilt. It’s coming! As I was choosing fabrics, it was suggested to me that I should try to use fibonacci numbers (e.g. 2,3,5,8,13,21 etc). I knew that I wanted the fabric pieces to probably be between 1/2″ and 1.5″ in width. So I had a choice – 34 strips or 55. The former made the strips far too fat. So I had no choice but to try to divide the flower outline I had drawn into 55 strips without making any of them too small to sew and also trying to vary the widths as I went along so it didn’t look too predictable.
Fibonacci Floral Step 3

Step 3: Selecting fabrics and cutting strips
So I now had a template of 55 strips, and 13 fabrics selected. (13 being a fibonacci number). The next challenge was whether I could use on a fibonacci number of each fabric within the 55 strips. Now any person halfway decent at math would be able to figure this out quickly. I have to confess that it took me a while.
Fibonacci Floral Step 4
The end result is:

  • 2 fabrics at 2 strips each
  • 2 fabrics at 3 strips each, and
  • 9 fabrics at 5 strips each.

Of course, while you are laying out your fabrics and deciding the order, cat help is critical! Licorice supervised. For once she didn’t ‘help.’

By this point, I was chuffed that I had managed to use only fibonacci numbers – 55 strips, 13 fabrics of 2, 3 or 5 instances each. I was also starting to wonder what the point was. Dr Google told me that fibonacci numbers are common in nature – in Irises, sunflowers and pine cones and they were naturally pleasing to the eye. Oh well… it was worth a go.

Step 4: Tracing the template onto stitch and tear

When it came to tracing I cheated and used a lightbox. Saffron thought she’d help be sitting on the lightbox. Unfortunately, the lightbox is not designed for a 6 kilo cat, so I had to continually kick her off for fear the perspex was not going to withstand her weight – it’s loose as it is!

Fibonacci Floral Step 5

Step 5: Critical. After cutting the pieces. Drop them.

It really would be no fun if you didn’t have to put them back in order at least once!

Iron pieces onto the back of the fabric strips.
Fibonacci Floral Step 6
Fibonacci Floral Step 7
Step 6: Trim them up!
I left 1/4″ seam allowance on the long sides and a very rough half an inch or so on the stop. I figured I could always tidy up the ends later.

Fibonacci Floral Step 8
Step 7: Sew the strips together
This was the fun bit – watching it start to take shape. I’m about 70% done. (Hence the part 1). I’ll be sure to post pics when I have finished the flower.
Fibonacci Floral Step 9

Meanwhile in cat land, a territory dispute is at play. I bought a cheap cat bed from the $2 store. They only had 1 in this size. Licorice and Saffron both want to sit in it. Generally, they seem to alternate – every now and then one ‘hijacks’ it from the other. Tonight, Licorice wouldn’t give it up. So Saffron just sat on top of her!

Can't we share?

Can’t we share?

Licorice and Saffron: the heater whores

My Cats: Heater whoresI’ve been abandoned. My lap is no longer good enough. The heater is better!

Saffron in slumber

Saffron in slumber8 weeks without a stable phone and internet and finally, it has been restored!

To celebrate, I’ve posted a photo of Saffron I took about a month ago but haven’t been able to upload.

I love this shot. It shows how I bought a couch to blend with my cat (and in theory hide the cat hair which, judging by that segment of black on the cushion, has not worked!) It also shows my troublesome little companion relaxing. This is a nice change from when she has cystitis. Also, I just had to post a cat pic to celebrate Licorice and Saffron’s 4th birthday with me. This makes Licorice a grand old age of 11 and Saffron 8.

PS: It seems while I’ve been offline that I have some new followers. Welcome to my blog!

I want my Internet back

I have no Internet. I feel as if someone has deprived me of food! Typing a blog post on a iPhone is way too slow. Not quite as slow as the telephone company is about fixing my access. What makes typing this post even more painful is that Licorice is wailing. She’s been put in the bathroom for the night with sister Saffron, who has cystitis again. Saff is the sick one. Does she complain? No. But licorice thinks howling like a banshee is going to get her out of there.

If anyone has any tips re managing cat cystitis please let me know. I’ve tried feliway, rescue remedy, zylkene, switch to wet food and trying to maintain a routine. Of these the feliway and wet food seem to have some impact but she is still having recurrences when I have to give her anti-inflammatories.

Anyway, my one fingered typing is getting worse and worse. Attached – I hope – is a picture of a mad hatters hat made from fabric pieces.

I had someone ask me today whether this was a example of crazy patchwork. My dressmaking teacher replied: ‘no, it’s patchwork by a crazy woman.’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Saffron making herself at home

Saffron making herself at home… on the quilt no less!

When I saw the weekly photo challenge was on the theme of home, I was kicking myself for not owning a pair of red sequined shoes. Even if I did own the right pair of heels I’m not sure where it would take me when I clicked my heels together. Sometimes I feel as if I have 3 homes: Mum’s place, Andrew’s place and here – with cats at every one!

So it seemed fitting when I decided to quilt this evening (yes, I’m still working on it!) that Saffron leapt up onto the table and made herself right at home. I had my weekly photo. Not to be outdone, as I write this, Licorice has curled up next to me encroaching as best she can on the keyboard.

Home is not where the heart is… for me it’s where the cat(s) is!

Art quilt update

It’s been a week of dealing with Saffron having cystitis again combined with the first full week back at week and very hot weather that leaves you drained of energy. When I let Saffron out of the bathroom I was watching her like a hawk to ensure there weren’t any accidents outside the tray. The shower recess became a favoured spot but, quite frankly, I was happy with anywhere in the bathroom. That’s what mops are for! She is improved but still not back to normal.

Needless to say with a full week of work and sick cat, there has been little ‘art-ing’ or quilting going on. So I’m uploading photos of what I did in between Christmas and New Year. I tried to take a photo of a larger area and encountered cat assistance. I think it won’t be until I have some humans to help hold it up that I can get a wider shot… so I’ve gone for the detail instead!

Tree Roots in free motion
Tree roots Free motion and I are not good friends. In fact weren’t not even acquaintances. Every time I try to meet free motion, I end up meeting my unpicker instead!

I, like many others, have trouble keeping the stitches even. When it came to tree roots I figured that even wasn’t important. I went over them quite a bit as I didn’t want them to appear too delicate – it’s a bloody big tree they are holding up! Also doing this, unpicking was not an option. Perhaps when you just have to go for it, the result is better?

The chequerboard floor

Details of chequer board floorI needed an quilting pattern which would fill that expanse of purple around the bottom of the tree. I also needed something matching my level of quilting yet still in keeping with the quilt being about Andrew and I.

A chequerboard pattern seemed a great option at the time – I only had to sew straight lines! It was pretty easy, just length with all the tying off. The chequerboard pattern also fit with me. I have been known to throw the odd chequerboard into a painting:

"In Time": Completed work

I supposed it’s related to Alice in Wonderland and the chess pieces. It could also be because I’ve seen them used so beautifully in the work of artist James Christensen, one of my first art book acquisitions and still a favourite. He often puts a fish in his paintings. (If your not familiar with Christensen’s work, the link I’ve included is to a slideshow of his art). I’ve just realised looking at the above painting of mine, that perhaps I’m getting a thing for teacups! The one above has a hippo in it. The one in the quilt has a lizard… and a licorice allsort…

French Knots
Lastly, a photograph of my French knots. I’ve never done these before I think they look a little more like French grubs than knots, but never mind! They are a little added texture. Most of them are 1 strand of brown silk and 1 of reddish-brown cotton. (I was told not to mix n match but it seemed to work ok). There are a few which are just two strands of cotton. I really can’t see any difference in ‘grub’ quality between the silk-cotton mix and just the cotton. So mix n match it will be!

French Knots

Da bird is da success!

Tilba the Devon RexPurchase cat toy with excitement, take cat toy home, and watch cat look at it with disdain. Not with “Da Bird”. I read many reviews saying Da Bird was the ultimate cat teaser toy. It looks like many others – a rod, string and attachment on the end. The one difference I knew pre-purchase was that you can replacement ‘feathers’ without needing to buy a whole new rod.

Well, Da Bird arrived at mum’s house (the place for all parcels when one lives in a unit). I gave it a test drive on my brother’s cats who have been staying there for the last month, while he travels the states. Willow, the 8 year old burmese (pictured) gave it the thumbs up, as did ‘brother’ Tilba the Devon Rex.

Willow the brown burmeseEven at about 8 years of age, Willow took to this toy with the vigour of a kitten. Once he’d caught the ‘prey’, he got a little cranky when Tilba came a little close.

Successfully road tested, I packed it up and headed over to Andrew’s. While this was a present for Saffron and Licorice, I couldn’t wait to see what the ginger ninja would do with it.

Pickle did not disappoint.

He leapt, twisted and grabbed for it. When I did pack it away, he was quite annoyed at me.

Finally I brought it home to Licorice and Saffron. At ages 10 and 7 respectively, I wasn’t sure what to expect. (Although Willow is a similar age and he’d gone nuts over it). Saffron had more activity than I think I’ve seen since I got her. She was doing somersaults trying to catch this thing! Licorice tried. She didn’t quite leap. Ok, she didn’t leave the ground. But she did energetically bat at it when it was close enough… which for a 10 year old, 8 kilo cat isn’t bad!

I didn’t have the camera handy but here’s a link to another blog with some great pics of a black and white kitty in action with Da Bird.


All I want for Christmas is a wheelchair lifter

The car has been at the engineering shop for 2 weeks. The lifter has landed on the roof but apparently the seat modifications aren’t completed. Like nearly everything in the disabled world; it is happening very slowly. I am getting pre-Christmas crankiness.

Andrew and I went to the shops today – in my car. The wheelchair lifting part was all good – when we’re together that’s my job and I manage it with reasonable ease. The getting in and out of the car without a fixed transfer board – slightly more tricky. Not to mention that my car is somewhat smaller in the door cavity than his – really not ideal at all.

Pickup of the car is scheduled for Wednesday. I have my fingers crossed for Wednesday. And my toes. And my legs. I’m crossing everything.

Satin stitching the wheel on the quilt

Satin stitching the wheel on the quilt

In the meantime I’ve started to stitch the wheel onto the quilt. My first attempt looked like a pizza. A blue and purple pizza but a pizza just the same.

My second attempt, I cheated. I used the wheelchair wheel and like a 3rd grader – traced it! Harder than you may think as the wheel is not perfectly flat.

Then when it came to the stitching I found that the top layer was all puffy. All those hand basting stitches to keep the batting, backing and top together weren’t holding it down enough. So, with some swearing under my breath, I set about unpicking 2mm satin stitching.

I dragged the quilt to the armchair – I may as well be comfy.

Licorice appeared. Licorice was persistent. We reached a compromise. She could sit on the piece of fabric resting on the footstool as long as I could hold on to the end I was still unpicking. Minutes later – Saffron wanted her share of the quilt. Nevermind that Licorice was already sitting on it; she just climbed up and wriggled her way in. The funny part was watching her slowly descend. It wasn’t a quilt – it was quick sand. For Saffron had decided to sit on the quilt but between the footstool and my on the armchair. Eventually I gathered up enough of the fabric and pushed her enough onto the footstool that she stopped sinking.

Of course I just had to take a photo.

Double trouble on the quilt

Double trouble on the quilt. Licorice (left) and Saffron (right).

Were you planning on quilting?

Saffron on the quilt... again

Were you planning on quilting today? Hmm… I have other plans. This is a nice comfy place to sit. I don’t want to move. And just to make extra sure you are hearing me, I’m giving you THAT look!


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