Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An all red dinner

 For dinner we had salmon cakes, sliced red peppers with vinaigrette, and baked sweet potatoes...served on a red plate, of course.  This is my plate.

I really like my little point and shoot camera but it doesn't take the best photos at night.

No nonsense but pretty cast iron

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sink wall cabinet update

I think John is through his least favorite part of the cabinet process which involves lots of sanding and wearing a respirator while applying many coats of finish.

Here is a cabinet with its drawer boxes drawer fronts yet.

Now he is working making shelves for the upper wall cabinets.

Upper cabinet carcasses

I think after that he is making the doors for the upper cabinets.

A quintessential Portland spring day

Yesterday we had four periods of rain sandwiched between five periods of sunshine.  The morning was mostly sunny and then at noon it poured.  By one, it was sunny again.  It is quite amazing how much and how often the weather changes in the springtime here.  As the day progressed, the changes became more frequent.

It is very energizing and exciting.  Our first visit to Portland was the first week in March and the weather enchanted me... sunshine,hail, sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine....  Somehow it all happens without any wind, although there must be some air movement in the atmosphere to make it happen.

One must remember to carry rain protection even when it is sunny because rain is just around the corner.

I DO love Portland.

Taking my glasses off to see

I am quite near sighted... remember the big E?  Well, it is blurry without my glasses.  But sometimes I can see better without my glasses.  In the art making world, people squint to "see" what they are working on.  I just take off my glasses.  Then I fumble around looking for my glasses...

Yesterday as I was pressing my quilt blocks, I mused about a couple of my techniques, which date back to my clothing making days.

First I set the seam  like this (but I don't use any spray starch).  This technique actually makes it easier to open the seam.

After I set the seam, I finger press my seam, which means opening it to one side and running my fingernail along the seam.  Finally I use the iron to flatten it well.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Beautiful snowy back yard

My friends who live in Massachusetts, where we used to live sent me this beautiful photo.  So pretty it makes me jones for a view like that.

But only for a moment; no shoveling or driving in snow or being housebound for me.  Susan says it lasted a short time and is no longer looking like this.

Playing with color

I am playing with color in THREE fabric projects.  I love playing with color.

I am making a quilt from a kit; this Underground Blues kit includes some rudimentary directions and 31 fat quarter batik fabrics in blues and greens.   This is my first ever kit quilt.  I decided to go with the kit because the fabric was less expensive in the kit.  I also hoped it would give me some choices to play with that I might not choose myself.  If I want a full size quilt for the bed, I will have to augment the kit fabric.  But I may do a diamond set pattern with a border.  I don't like everything set in stone before I start making it;  I like making design decisions along the way.  Otherwise it's no fun.

For me, quilting is all about playing with color.  I don't enjoy fiddly complex piecing.  I keep my utilitarian quilts (for beds and throws) simple so I don't feel bad when they get damaged and I don't cringe when a cat has his way with my quilt.  This design fits the bill since the blocks are just strips.  It's fun to work with. I paired up the fabrics for the blocks and I've been making about four blocks a day.

Pippin always helps when I arrange them on the bed

fabrics paired to sew

My second project is making some cushion covers for a couple of chairs.  John got the chairs from a yard sale for a total of thirty dollars before I even knew him.  Twenty some years ago I made new cushions for both chairs and I am a little tired of the fabric.  The cats have also been a bit hard on the cushion fabric... there is something inviting about sharpening your claws on upholstery fabric.  So I am making simple covers for the chairs.  

I love how these two blue batiks look on the back of this chair.  I am still figuring out exactly how I will make this one.

For this chair, I used a bargello quilt I had kicking around.  It fits perfectly and I like it.

Then there is my ongoing dye experiment project.  Yesterday I tried a simple Shibori inspired technique.  I hand sewed a line of thread and pulled it up tight and applied some dye.

Thread pulled up tight

thread opened up
I added some more lines of stitching last night so I can add some more color today.

Thai chicken soup

Last night I made Thai chicken soup.  It is so good and so easy (when you have a supply of homemade delicious chicken broth in the freezer).

The chicken broth is flavored with ginger, lime leaves, and lemon grass.  It has rice noodles, heirloom carrots (they really are that color), a dollop of chili sauce and some cilantro.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Commercial Batik Process

This is how the batik fabric we buy at the fabric store is made.  It's made by hand in faraway countries.  It's pretty hard work.  

Painting on silk satin

I got a piece of silk satin (on sale).  I wasn't at all sure how it would work...I didn't expect much.  I like how it is streaky and "uneven".

Silk satin

The dye looks so different wet versus dry.  Some colors actually look richer and darker dry than wet.  These reds looked terrible when they were wet.

Silk taffeta
Light weight cotton

I find it difficult to stay in experimentation mode... I keep wanting it to look good, which is counter productive to my experimentation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Color Palette light and dark

I mixed three colors of dynaflo... blue violet, salmon, and yellow green.  I applied the dye to damp fabric sparingly, then salted it.  The next day, I used the same mixed colors and applied more dye, this time with less water.  I tried using epsom salts the second day.  They didn't do much.

Here are my results:

day 1

day 2
I am excited by the results, getting stronger and weaker versions of the colors, though sometimes the addition of water affects the color as well as the strength, especially the yellow green.  The photos, taken with my simple point and shoot camera, do not accurately portray the colors but you get the idea.

Next time I will think more about where I don't want to add color.  I destroyed some of the effects I liked in the top portion.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trial and error Dye experiments with samples

Yesterday I mixed three colors... blue violet, yellow green and rusty orange.  Mixing the colors is very trial and error right now.  It is hard to track what the proportions are and diluting it with water can change the color as well.  For right now, we'll leave it at that.  Hopefully I'll get better at it.

I really am at a just try it and see,  with little control over what may happen.

After I mixed the colors, I tried the yellow green and blue violet on my samples.  I set up my samples by sewing them on a light cotton fabric and stretching the fabric over a small cardboard box.  I used a brush to dampen the samples and apply the yellow green.  I sprinkled on salt.  I painted the violet color on the surrounding cotton background fabric.

 I set them aside to dry and brushed off the salt this morning.  It's fun to see what I get.

Of the samples, I like the lower left habotai the best.

I like the lower part of the violet background even better.  I painted on a stronger violet than I wanted so I brushed on some water.  The dye had already begun to set in some places but spread in others making a swirly effect.  The salt magnified the effect further.

Once again, this is a very trial and error process at this stage.

This is a better rendition of the yellow green color.  The salt pulled the green color out of the dye and made a nice effect on the habotai (aka china silk).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Silk fabric samples for dye experiments

I ordered silk fabric samples from Dharma Trading.  They came today.  I am so excited!  There are 36 silk fabrics, all different weights and types.  The samples cost $6.99 and no shipping charge on samples.

The samples are four inches square, which is big enough for limited dye experiments.  I can see how the dye goes on and how the fabric takes color.  I tried four samples yesterday.  To my surprise, I liked the satin quite a bit.  It took the color well and very easy to apply.

Below, clockwise from the left upper corner we have Crepe Back Silk Satin, Viscose Rayon/Silk Blend, Silk Double Chiffon, Crepe de Chine.  I left the labels on them so I can see what they are.  I used a brush to wet the surface and a Fantastix bullet tip applicator, which worked pretty well.   I put rock salt on all of them and they certainly did not respond to the salt the same way.  However, they may not have been equally damp.

One of the hard things about dye is that the color lightens when it dries so you don't really see what you are getting while you are doing it.  It would be better if I could figure out a way to suspend the samples but that is  difficult with such a small size.

I want to get color results and textures that I can use in small art quilts.  I want the process itself to be not too messy or arduous.  Here is a link that shows and talks about some of the effects I hope to achieve.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sink wall cabinet drawers

John has been working hard on the drawers for the sink wall cabinets.  He is using the same building techniques and processes he used for the island so he is faster at it.  He completed the drawer box assembly.  Next he plugged the screw holes with walnut plugs he made.  Now he is adding walnut trim strips to the tops of the drawer edges.  He is about halfway through adding the walnut strips.  There are thirteen drawers in the sink wall cabinets.

Gluing the plugs in place

these plugs have not yet been sawn off

adding the walnut strips

Marking the walnut strips to size

drawers with the plugs and walnut strips
drawers that are plugged and ready for walnut strips

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who lived in our house first?

Portland Maps historic permits lists G. G. Joyce as the first owner of our house.  I searched for his name and found that he was the manager for the Broadway Hazelwood Confectionary store which was part of the Hazelwood Cream Company.

 I found that tidbit in an ad in this old football program.    PDXHistory has a page on the Hazelwood Cream Company.

This post is for you, Sharon!

My honkin big drawer is under way

This is the biggest drawer we will have; inside dimensions about 42 by 9 inches high.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Working on painting silk

I want to learn to paint silk to use in my art quilts.  I've been experimenting with mixing dye colors, application methods, preparing the fabric and using different types of silk.  Finally today I got some interesting results.

Here is a piece of silk taffeta.  I used blue tape to attach the fabric to the box so that it is suspended.  First I sprayed it with some water, then I applied the paint with bits of natural sponge, and immediately spread some rock salt on the wet paint.  I like how the salt affected the color.

 I am using Jaquard dynaflo dye.  I like the rusty orange color, which is mixed from red, golden yellow and a touch of black.

How it looked when the salt was off

This piece of taffeta was prepared the same way except that it is stretched over some padding.

Three months since my nasty fall

It's been three months since my nasty fall.  I still have numbness, stiffness and soreness.  My symptoms seem a lot like carpal tunnel and arthritis and that may be how it is.  Carpal tunnel scares me because I don't like any of the treatments.  But I hope to get over it.  It takes six months to a year to recover from a broken wrist.

 I especially hate the tingling.   I sure hope that goes away!  It gets worse if I do too much.   I've been sewing and I have to be careful not to over do or it is past annoying and gets painful.   It is still pretty hard to use my heavy (and beloved) iron.  Most of the time (unless I over do), it is at the annoying level.

When I broke my wrist, I couldn't find much information on what recovery along the way was like.  I hope that this will help someone else who might be searching.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Challenge Square Dancing

John and I are passionate about what we do.  We were passionate about square dancing for several years.  We put a lot of time and effort into square dancing.  For a few years we went dancing every day and twice on Sundays.

Here we are dressed up to dance.  I giggle when I see this photo because my gardener's tan is so obvious.  This is how we dressed when we went to traditional square dances.  I made my dress.

There is a kind of square dancing few people are aware of.... it is called Challenge Dancing; I call it puzzle dancing.  It includes concepts,  phantoms, and memorizing about 700 calls (sequences).  It is difficult, especially at C4, which is the highest level.. There aren't very many C4 dancers; last I knew, there were only about 100 of them worldwide, most of them concentrated near MIT and Stanford.  That might tell you something about how hard it is.  And you don't wear square dance attire for challenge dancing.

We square danced when we lived in the greater Boston area.  We were invited to join a Challenge workshop and then we became the protoges of Sue Curtis, who was (and still is) a major force in C4 dancing.  She dances, she calls and she makes up concepts for the C4 world.  We also were close friends with Clark Baker, who is a C4 caller of great repute.

To dance C4, you have to apply concepts to the huge set of call definitions.  You have to imagine a grid of dancers, many of whom are phantoms.  You have to figure out where the real people are in the grid.  Here is a concept paper, which might show you why I call it puzzle dancing.  And this is a list of concept papers that have been written, although it is only a small fraction of the concepts.

There are invitation only C4 weekends on the East and West coasts about twice a year.  We got invited to an East coast C4 weekend called the Berkeshires (the link takes you to a YouTube video of a 2012 Berkeshires weekend.   Being invited was a feather in our caps.  Still, we both knew that we really weren't up to the challenge of C4 and probably never would be.

We had more advantages than most aspiring C4 dancers.  We lived in an area that had a C4 group to dance with.  We had a great local C4 caller, Clark Baker.  And we had a lot of help from Sue Curtis.  We worked very, very hard.  Still, our brains really just were not big enough.  The people we were dancing with were mostly much smarter than we are.  It was an interesting lesson in humility.

32nd Anniversary

Thirty two years ago today we were married; it was Friday the 13th.  We had what we called a planned elopement but it wasn't planned for Friday the 13th.  That's just how it turned out.  We had an appointment to be married on the 12th but they called to say they would be closed for Lincoln's birthday and offered us the 13th instead.

I made John's shirt

What's in the pantry?

We have two pantries... a walk in pantry and a pull out pantry.

Walk in
Pull out

The pullout pantry is on wheels and fills the space beside the refrigerator but can be completely removed to move or clean behind the refrigerator.  

Garden tools (right by the back door)

less commonly used spices

Canned goods

Five gallon pot

Bird seed

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drawer boxes

Nine of the thirteen drawer boxes are assembled.  I did not say they are finished... they are only somewhat more than a third of the way to finished drawers.

nine assembled drawer boxes

Next come the dowells to plug the screw holes and the strips to finish the drawer top edges.  It's quite a lengthy and tedious process.  And then there is prep for and applying finish, also tedious.  Grumpiness may ensue.  That's what happened last time.  Anyone want to invite me over for a few weeks?

There are also four more drawers that are not yet started.  Those drawers are the four big drawers; two will be about 34 inches wide and two will be about 43 inches wide.  Because they are so large, he is making them out of heavier plywood (3/4 inch instead of 1/2 inch).

The bottoms are all made from 1/4 inch plywood but they are all reinforced with stretchers.  You can see the two stretchers on the bottom of the drawer at the center bottom.  The big drawers will have more stretchers.

The box on the table with the three high sides is one of the two pullouts under the sink.  The backs are  shallow and the sides and front are high.  The back is shallow to accommodate the plumbing.

So just how far along are we?  Well, I kept track of the tasks and the time it took to make the drawers for the island.  Assuming that the tasks take the same relative amount of time, the 9 drawers are 37% done.  But there are thirteen drawers altogether, meaning 69% of the drawers are 37% done.... so the drawers are just over 25% done.  And then there are 5 cabinet doors and three cutting boards.