Encrusted CQ class project

Encrusted CQ class project

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Thrift Store Score!

 Today I found a couple of bags of buttons for .50 each at my local thrift store.  I am always on the lookout for mother of pearl (shell) buttons, but they are harder and harder to find at reasonable prices.  The best source I have for these buttons is on Vancouver Island, at a bead store, and her price of .25 per button is excellent.  So when I saw that these bags had a couple of shell buttons, I knew it was worth the price, and that I would be able to use them in my vintage crazy quilt pieces.

I purchased them, and went home to sort.  I lay them on a facecloth to protect them from breakage and from rolling off the table.  Here you get an idea of how much was in a .50 baggie.  Click on the picture for an enlarged view.

I sorted into 4 piles - clean "keepers" - these are ready to use as is
                               - grubby "keepers" - these are dirty and/or have old thread still in them
                               - donate - the more ordinary plastic shirt buttons - I don't need these
                               - garbage - broken bits and pieces

All told, I spent $1. and got at least $50. worth of vintage buttons!  How do I find such a fabulous deal?  I have learned where to look, I check back often (at least weekly) and once or twice a year I hit the mother lode! 

And how do I clean the grubby buttons?  I try to remove the old thread first.  I cut the thread with scissors or a seam ripper, being careful not to pull against the button, which could crack it.  I soak them for about an hour in slightly warm water with a couple of squirts of liquid hand soap.  Remember, these are vintage and made from shells; they can be brittle so I want to use a mild soap, not a detergent.  Sometimes I add a bit of baking soda to the soak.  I remove the buttons to a fluffy towel and scrub them gently with the same water and an old toothbrush.  If they need further brightening, I sometimes use toothpaste (the white paste, not the blue gel).  I put the buttons in a strainer and rinse them in cool water, then lay out on a fresh towel or paper towel to dry.  Any last bits of old thread get removed before I store them in one of my button boxes.  

Here are some of the clean keepers.  LOVE the patina of vintage shell buttons!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Guerilla Art

I learned about a fun new activity that I'd like to try, and I'd encourage you to try it, too. Guerilla art is where you create small art pieces and leave them in public areas as a surprise gift for whoever finds them. It's described in more details on www.clothpaperscissors.com (search: guerilla art). The article and accompanying video show how and where you can give anonymous gifts of art to strangers. It sounds like fun! Let me know if you try this - I'd love to hear how it works.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Checking In

I have just returned from a 3-day getaway with my husband. We celebrated our 25th anniversary yesterday, and I had no idea where we were going until we arrived in Canmore, AB Sunday evening! We stayed at a beautiful, romantic inn, and enjoyed 2 1/2 days exploring Canmore and Banff. Lots more to tell you, and some project updates in the next few days. In the meantime, I'll be catching up on household chores, and nursing a huge bruise on my leg from being thrown from a horse. But that's a story for another day! Suffice it to say I am not going to pursue a career in rodeo...

I hope to be back with more photos and inspiration soon!


Monday, 13 June 2011

Under the Sea Crazy Quilt

I spent a good deal of time last week preparing an Underwater-themed block for a Round Robin.  I thought I had signed up for the RR, but when the group list came out yesterday, I was not on it.  I have since discovered that instead of hitting "Send", I hit "Save", and my sign-up email was sitting in the Drafts file.......oops. So, since the block is started, and I shouldn't really be taking on another RR right now anyway, I am going to "stitch along" on my own, and sell this as "art to frame" in my Etsy shop.  

 Here you see the basic form of the block - sand, sea, sky, land and sun.  There are still some gaps to be filled at this point.

 Here, the ocean part is pieced, and tucked under the sand area and machine stitched in place.

 Here, the ocean meets the sky - the horizon has to be a straight line so it looks realistic.

 This shows all the sections stitched down, and wow, does it need ironing!  It's lying on a puffy chair pillow here, so the lines look curvy in the picture, but they are straight.  Once this is trimmed, it will be about 1/4 land and sky, 1/2 ocean and 1/4 sand.
I like the detached fern stitch around the edge of the sun - it looks like sunbeams.

When designing this block, I knew I wanted to include a treasure chest on the ocean floor.  I wasn't sure how to go about this, since drawing is NOT one of my strong points.  Here's my solution:  I went to my local thrift store and got this:

 I paid a whole 25 cents for this book!  Illustrated children's books and coloring books are an excellent design source.  The shapes are simple and basic, easy to trace.   A few of the pictures which I may use as a springboard:

There are a couple of treasure chests there, and I may have to add a grumpy octopus to my block as well!

The studio clean up still drags on.  I have 10 boxes and bins of various sizes ready to be moved to the storage shed.  I think there are a couple more boxes' worth of things in the closet that need to be boxed up temporarily, then I can post pictures and call this project finished at last.

Have a great Monday and happy stitching!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tote Bag and an audio book

Today I finished a tote bag, which will be for sale  ($25.) in my Etsy store reclamationtextiles.etsy.com.

This began as an unbleached cotton tote bag, 14 x 16 inches, which I purchased at Michaels.  I dyed it with Setacolor Transparent Paints, and discharged it with salt.  This is a fancy way of saying that while the dye is wet, you sprinkle coarse salt (kosher is best because of fewer impurities, but I used coarse sea salt because that's what is in the cupboard right now) on it and let it dry.  This produces dots and starbursts, and I love the way it turned out!  Here's a picture of the back of the bag:

The tote is much more teal/aqua than this medium blue in the photo, but it gives you an idea of the salt discharge effect.  If you click on the picture, you can see a larger version.  

And some close ups of the CQ square which I placed on point (diamond orientation instead of square):

While I was stitching this week, I listened to an audio book from the library called Made by Hand by Mark Frauenfelder.  It's a 6-CD set, that, aside from a bit of "potty mouth" language, I enjoyed.  There are 4 or 5 "F-bombs" in the book, but the rest of the content was very interesting.  Mark chronicles  his family's exploration of the DIY (do it yourself) movement - making the perfect cup of espresso, raising chickens and bees, whittling wooden spoons and being more active in his children's educations.  A very enjoyable thing to read or listen to while you are stitching.  

The studio reorganization continues.  I am now packing up some of my projects and supplies to make more room in the studio, which I share with my husband's home office.  It's a small room, and we both tend toward packrattery (well, that should be a word - packrattery...).  Therefore I have concluded that the only way to have room for both of us to work is to pack up and store some of our projects, books etc for a time.  Pictures will be posted, really they will, but it's still a work in progress.

Happy Stitching!