Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sketchbook Challenge

I have joined the sketchbook challenge beginning on January 1, 2011. I’ve got the book, now I just need the discipline! Mind you I’m a drawing school dropout, so perhaps an online coach and community will help me stay focused.

I understand that drawing is a learned skill,  so if learning to draw is  practice and discipline then I should see improvement. Right? I’ll keep you posted. If you want to join the challenge too, just click on the badge on the right sidebar.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hail to the Chef!

Tom has become an expert with the gas grill and cedar planks. His crowing glory has been salmon cooked on a plank over a bed of herbs. Delicious!
hail to the chef
To duplicate, soak a cedar plank in water for several hours. Preheat the grill to 375 degrees. On the plank, prepare a bed of fresh rosemary, thyme and lemon slices. Lay the salmon slices on top and sprinkle with olive oil and an herb or fish rub. Take to the grill  and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until salmon flakes easily.  We find we can use our planks several times.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas from Around the World

Here are some images from the New York Public Library digital collection.
God Jul
Italy (leave it to the Italians to get romantic)italian

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let it Dough!

Found this on Ricë Freeman-Zachery blog. It made me smile
A New York artist’s version of the creation of the world. Click on the picture to take you to the New York Times website.
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
In the sidebar of the NY Times website, you will find other examples of this artist’s work. I especially enjoyed Red Eye and Cables.

Friday, December 17, 2010

what I'm reading

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This was a wonderful book. Even though I knew how it ended, I was spellbound for the last thirty pages. I may have to re-read Great Expectations. I was astonished to learn that Oprah had chosen those two books for her 2011 book list.

At Home by Bill Bryson could have been a lot shorter. It was interesting, but I've forgotten most of the interesting facts he wrote about. It was easy to pick up and put down.

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasan, and Angels Flight by Michael Connely were audio books we listened to while traveling during Thanksgiving. It's easy to miss exits when you are in the midst of a mystery. Neither one memorable, but good travel companions.

Room by Emma Donoghue has the most unusual narrator of any book I've read recently. I don't want to give too much of it away, but the narrator is five year old Jack who has lived all his life with his mother in a single room. Very quick read that stays with you. I highly recommend this book.

Waiting for Snow in Havana and Waiting to Die in Miami by Carlos Eire are both fascinating books. I lived in Florida during the years leading up to and several years following the the Cuban revolution. Before he was deposed and went to live in Spain, the Cuban dictator Batista had a home in my community. For a few years I went to a private school which was also attended by Cuban children. I returned to public school in the winter of 1959 when armed bodyguards became a fixture at the school. Later in high school I became friends with two boys who were part of the Pedro Pan airlift. Between 1960 and 1962, 14,000 Cuban children left Cuba and their families for life in the United States.  Carlos Eire was one of those children and these two books tell his story of life in Cuba before the revolution and life in the United States after he left everything behind. Both are beautifully written books which I highly recommend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quick, inexpensive table decorations

I took responsibility for preparing the centerpieces for the children’s Christmas party this Wednesday night at our church. With a limited budget and even more limited time, I hemmed and hawed between the ready to plop on the table fake poinsettias and the gift bags to decorate and fill with tissue paper. I decided to go “arty” and decorated the gift bags with my motif for this season.  Each table will have three or four bags.
decorated bags
I never think about getting one of those Cricut products until I start cutting out 100 ornament shapes.

Monday, December 13, 2010


If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier who is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.

How amazing it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one! It is FREE and it only takes a second.Wouldn't it be wonderful if our service men and women received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know that someone cares that they are away from family and friends.

This takes just a few seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mixed Media Christmas Collage

The tree is up, the cards are done, the shopping is nearly completed. I have a fun shopping trip and dinner with a friend coming soon, but it’s been too long since I’ve made art.
Inspired by Jenn Mason’s post, here’s a quick Christmas collage.

mixed media to publish
I used Christmas carol music sheets for the trees and embellished them by tying on gold jump rings, sewing on a fiber garland and adding tiny metal paper fasteners. For the night sky, I covered the black gesso with Payne's grey acrylic, with just a dab each of interference blue and iridescent stainless steel. While the paint was still tacky, I stamped some swirls which gave a bit of dimension. It was a fun project, and my first collage on a canvas board.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In the Christmas Spirit

We were traveling during Thanksgiving and came home with nasty colds. I’m feeling much better now, and the outside and inside of the house are now decorated.  Now it’s on to wrapping the gifts that are arriving after my online shopping spree.
In the meantime, I have been having fun cutting these gorgeous 5 point paper snowflakes from scrap paper. Photo is from the blog, How about Orange

click here for directions

Friday, November 26, 2010

Citrus season has begun

The new crop of oranges and grapefruit are ready, and so am I. Here’s our stash ready to share with friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday.
oranges and grapefruit
Another thing I like about citrus season is the bags the grower gives me. They are great to cut up and use as stencils, rubbing plates, and other textural applications.
orange bags

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Class at the Sewing Garret

Today I taught a class at the Sewing Garret, a quilt shop in Daytona Beach. We had a great time learning some basics of coaster construction, and making three different samples. I hope to be teaching another class on introduction to art quilting in January.
stitching the coaster
We did a bleach discharge technique which was new to most of the class. Lots of fun! For more information, click on the previous posts
bleach technique

Monday, November 15, 2010

My favorite painting product

acrylic glazing liquid Last year I took an online class, Color Beyond the Basics taught by Julie Prichard and Chris Cozen. I learned a lot about mixing paints, and I use the reference sheets I created every time I get out my paints.

One of the products I was introduced to was Acrylic Glazing Liquid. This stuff is wonderful. It does all the things Golden says it does in their product information sheet, but here’s how I use it.

1. Mix with acrylic paints to give more open time. Acrylic paints dry very quickly, glazing liquid mixed with the paint gives about 30 minutes of time to work.

2. Increases the transparency of paints. Mixed 1:1, you get the open time, mixed 10:1, your paints become transparent. Sure you can use water, but many paints separate with added water. The AGL gives great “brushability”.

3. Paint that has dried on your palette can be revitalized with a squirt of AGL.

4. Paintbrushes that have mistakenly been left to dry can be restored with an application of AGL. I had a $20 brush I thought was a goner, and AGL restored it.

5. Mistakes on your project can be erased with AGL.

It comes in both gloss and satin finish. I use the gloss because the satin finish has an ingredient that makes it somewhat opaque. The gloss is totally clear when dry.

Love it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Great Days in the Studio

Yesterday morning the studio was brightly sunlit, and I began a painting project. In a previous post I wrote about how I use leftover paint to paint pages to use in later projects. I pulled out some of those pages and set them aside for further embellishment.

preparing to paint

I gathered my supplies, paints, stencils and stamps.

preparing to paint2

I spent the morning, painting papers, and of course making some new pages with the left over paints.

finished pages1

finished pages2

I wanted a variety of colors in lights and darks, as well as bright and dull pages. Since my sketchbook pages are painted on both sides I painted both sides which doubles my options in using them.

I let them dry overnight and this morning I painted them with soft gel gloss mixed with iridescent paint. The soft gel makes them soft and pliable so they can be stitched by hand or machine. The addition of a little gold paint to the soft gel gloss adds a bit of sparkle and unifies the pages.

Alas, every good party must come to an end.

the party's over

I’m working on a project using these papers which I plan to submit for publication. Yikes! I’ve said it out loud!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Completed coasters

I made these coasters to go with the new placemats and napkins I made a few weeks ago. Company is coming this week, so I am ready.

love a tree coasters

Friday, November 5, 2010

What I’m reading

I finished Freedom by Jeffrey Franzen. New book, lots of hype, but I liked it a lot. It was a very complex plot with lots of layers and recurring themes. Just what a great novel is supposed to be.

I took a break from current fiction and read The Good Earth, Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer prize winner from the ‘30’s. Excellent book, I understand how it has stood the test of time.

Ken Follett, World Without End is 929 pages of medieval history. This book has it all, sex, politics, back stabbing, black death, murder and romance. It was a page turner.

Loving medieval history, I couldn't help myself and started reading Ken Follett's companion to World without End, Pillars of the Earth. It was 983 pages long. More sex, treachery, concealed identities, and of course murder. The book culminates with the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket in 1170.

Although I read it a couple of years ago, another medieval history novel was Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. It's about a village affected by the plague that cut itself off from the outside world to prevent the villagers from leaving and infecting others.

For non-fiction, I read The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick. . Makes you wonder how many fakes are hanging in museums. Very good book.

Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny. I do not recommend. It's about a murder investigation in Quebec. I don’t have enough background in Canadian history, especially Quebec separatists, to appreciate it. Don't know why I continued to read it except it had a mystery and I wanted to know what happened.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. An absolutely splendid novel about complicated family relationships centered on twins abandoned at birth. Set in a mission hospital in Ethiopia and an urban hospital in the US, it was a fabulous book. Highly recommend.

Next up: A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens classic about the French revolution. My sixth grade teacher read this book to us every day after lunch. I can remember the whole class being mesmerized by the story. Last year I read Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, a loooong Victorian novel about greed, politics, power and financial ruin.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eco Garland

No matter what the project, whenever I get out my paints, I also get out 5 or 6 inexpensive sketchbooks to paint pages using the excess paint. Paint is too expensive to throw away, not to mention the harm it does to the environment in washing it down the sink. So I use what’s left over to paint the pages, sometimes going back again to add stamping or textural techniques. I have no plan, not even a color scheme in mind.

sketch book pages1 sketch book pages2

This week, I coated some of the pages in soft gel medium mixed with just a bit of gold iridescent paint. I did this on both sides. Then I cut out Christmas ornament shapes. I used a decorative punch on the left over paper to make some stars and put them on with gel medium too. With the paper now stabilized it was easy to sew, and I knew it wouldn’t rip out. I used a zigzag stitch and sewed them together, punched a hole in either end and ran yarn through the holes to create a way to hang them.

paper garland

Since the paper is painted on both sides, the garland is reversible.


I’m not finished with this idea yet. I see a lot more possibilities.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010


40 years ago today, Tom and I were married. From the photos we looked very much in love, we still are.

Happy Anniversary!

down the aisle

wedding toast

wedding getaway

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Placemats and Napkins

The placemats and napkins I made a few years ago have become worn and stained. Time for some new ones. I started out to just make eight. When they were nearly competed I looked at all the white on them and started thinking about BBQ sauce spills and decided I would just use them when we had guests at the table. I used those four feature fabrics in all the placemats, but put them together so each mat is different. It’s a variation on the Lazy Girl pattern.

modern placemat

I had a lot of scraps left over, so I made these string ones for everyday use.

string placemat

The napkins are two sided and serged with a rolled edge. I have a lot of bindings to hand stitch, but I enjoy doing that.

placemats and napkins

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Advent houses

Take a trip over to Lisa Cox’s blog spoonfullofsugargirls. She has posted a photo of my Advent houses. She’s the talented creator of the original pattern featured in Quilting Arts Gifts, and I was honored that she asked to post the photo on her blog. They have already left my home as a gift for Laurel and Jeremy. I just may have to make another set for me.

Christmas countdown villageIMG_2299

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mad Men

Tonight is the season finale of Mad Men. I am a fan. I love the sets, the clothes, the music, and of course, Don Draper. It’s the 60’s only better. The first time I saw it, I was reminded of the Broadway musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In the early ‘70’s I had a part in a local production in Madisonville, KY. We practiced all summer and put on the show the last week of August. I was a member of the chorus and have never forgotten the number, “A Secretary is not a Toy.” Here’s a video from the 1967 film production.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Switching Gears

I recently made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in the studio. Some things are wet work, others strictly sewing machine and ironing board. Today I did some prep work with adhering paper to fabric.

new paper

I reworked some pieces that I didn’t like and made a couple of new ones in preparation for making more Christmas garlands, like this.

whole garland2

I’m thinking of making some of them vertical. I have some time to think about it because the next step is painting the paper and adding embellishments.

As soon as I get my studio cleaned up, and make sure my iron is ready to work with fabric, I’ll begin work on some placemats for Chez Clayton.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Virtual Open Studio Tour

Thanks for visiting on the Cloth Paper Scissors Virtual Open Studio Tour. Welcome to my studio. I am lucky to have an extra bedroom in our home to use as my studio.

We’ll start in the corner with my sewing table. I invested in this table six years ago, and I’ve never been sorry. When I am working on a big quilt, I can pull it away from the wall and open up the drop leaf to double the surface. The roll around carts hold threads and notions. I’ve recently put up my serger and find I use it more often.

sewing area

Moving clockwise, is my design wall and closet. I took the doors off the closet and put up a curtain rod. The curtains are normally open, but I can close them when overflow guests need to use the studio as a bedroom. My design wall is floor to ceiling, about 8 feet wide. It is thick Styrofoam insulation covered with cotton quilt batting, and I could not get along without it. It’s big enough for a large bed quilt, but usually has inspiration photos, and in process projects displayed on it. I only showed half the closet, the other side looks worse than this one, and it never gets any better than this.

design wall and open closet2

I’ve been so inspired by the Quilting Arts Gifts Magazine projects that I have put up some of those projects for decoration. For details on the Advent houses, click here. For a post relating to the stockings, click here. For the vertical bird strand click here. For the Christmas garland, click here. The green squares are destined to become coasters. For more info on the coaster project click here.

design wall christmas projects

Moving clockwise from the closet is my ironing/cutting/work table. The table is an inexpensive one I purchased about 7 years ago at Jo Ann Fabric. It folds up to just 12” wide and is on casters. The thing I like best about it is the ironing pad that goes with it. I’ve been through about 4 in the life of the table.

work table area

Continuing clockwise, are my bookcases. These were “repurposed” when I changed some furniture. In the ‘80’s they were in our living room, in the ‘90’s the girl’s TV room, and now in my studio.


The thing that makes my studio work for me is the work triangle I created. I can move easily between the three main areas, design wall, cutting/ironing table, and sewing table.

Adjacent to the studio is a bathroom. I should keep it neater than I do, but it’s where I wash brushes and clean up. It has a door that opens to the lanai where I have a clothesline strung.

studio wet area

Thanks for visiting!

Christmas Countdown Village

When I saw the cover project from the latest issue of Quilting Arts Gifts Magazine, I knew I had to make these little houses. They are designed to hang on the tree or on a garland, and the idea is the fill the back pockets with treats, messages and trinkets to discover each day in December before Christmas. I just love the way they look hanging together.

Designing the roofs, windows and doors was fun, and suprizingly I enjoyed sewing the blanket stitch numbers for the back pockets. If I did them again, I would used fusible web on the back of the doors and windows to control raveling.

Christmas countdown villageIMG_2299

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A new Christmas stocking

My daughters rejected new stockings, preferring the ones I made them over 25 years ago, which have grown a little grubby over time. And might I say, they are a bit juvenile. However, we do have traditions, and nothing brings out tradition like the Christmas season. Having no matching stocking for Jeremy, he gets a new one. I chose Jane Davila’s pattern in the latest issue of Quilting Arts Gift magazine. Fun to make! I’ve been trying to figure out how to get his name on it, and the idea of using waste canvas and doing cross stitching on just occurred to me. Wonder if they still make it?

christmas stocking

Yes, they still make it. I found some in 14 and 10 stitches per inch. I started with the 14, and couldn’t see where the stitches were supposed to go. I switched to the 10 canvas. It was a little better, but I could only work on it in direct sunlight. Gotta get my glasses changed.

christmas stocking with name

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heroic Stitchery

Every now and then I find a gem online. Have fun with this one.

Find your color personality

Better Homes and Gardens offers this quiz to help you decide what color to paint your walls based on your answers to eight questions. My color personality is yellow. Yellow? Not much yellow in my house, but lots in my garden, so maybe that’s it. I was a bit uncertain about some of my answers, so I took it again. Chose Scotland over Rio, and it came up green. Mix them together and you have chartreuse, one of my favorite colors. What color are you?

To celebrate yellow, here are a couple of photos Tom took at the dahlia garden at High Hampton Inn in 2008

Dahlia Yellow spike

Dahlia Yellow

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Japanese Stab Binding

I told myself before my surgery that I was going to learn another bookbinding technique, and last night I cut the pages and cover. Today I watched two videos that gave step by step instructions. Here’s my first effort at Japanese Stab bookbinding. It really was very easy. I’d put the holes closer to the edge next time.

japanese stab bookbinding

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tutorial turns into class

I’ve never made money with my art. I’ve had a few commissions for art quilts, done a store display quilt and sold some baby quilts. Mostly I just spend time in my studio because I enjoy it, and give the resulting projects to my friends and family. I recently stopped in the Sewing Garret a quilt shop near my home. I wanted to buy some Kona cottons to do bleach discharge. The salesperson asked me what I was going to do with the fabrics I was buying and I told her about my project. She was interested, and asked me to bring samples. After seeing the samples, she put me on the calendar to teach a class on coaster construction and surface design in November. It will be fun!

We’ll do some sewing with scraps and decorative machine stitches, we’ll learn two easy methods of coaster construction, and we’ll do some discharge dyeing with bleach pens. I’ll have lots of ideas on how to translate these techniques to other projects.

coaster samplers

1—couched threads

2—bleach discharged on black fabric quilted with metallic thread

3—bleach discharged fabric thread painted with multiple threads

4—scraps and decorative stitches

5—scrappy background with fused and stitched elements

6—scrappy background diagonal format

7—bleach discharged fabric quilted with fluorescent thread

8—bleach discharged fabric with machine and hand stitching

9—easiest of all, simple fabric coaster