Thursday, September 29, 2011


Tom and I are on a western states road trip. Today we were at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. These are the first petroglyphs we have seen. I think in addition to the horses, riders and sheep there are at least two dogs in the scene. I usually post at least one photo a day on Facebook, and a different one on Twitter. FB is Susan Cobb Clayton, Twitter is defling01.


Monday, September 26, 2011

What I’m reading

On a recent trip, we listened to two Michael Connelly books, The Closers and The Brass Verdict. Good listening, but not memorable

The Greater Journey by David McCullough was a wonderful book. It’s long, took me nearly a month to read it, but I truly enjoyed it. It is subtitled, Americans in Paris, and documents the influx of Americans to Paris between 1830 and 1900. I found the chapters on the siege of Paris at the end of the Franco Prussian war gripping, and the chapters on Augustus St. Gaudens fascinating. Recommend for artists, Francophiles and history lovers.

Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook                                        Estabrook is a journalist who writes mostly for Culinary publications. In this book he begins by searching for what happened to the taste of tomatoes. His search takes him to the Andes where the first tomatoes were found, to the hostile infertile fields of Florida, to laboratories and to an old school farmer in Pennsylvania. Much of the book focuses on the plight of Florida migrant workers.   Recommend

Partitions by Amit Majmudar is one of those rare and beautiful books that is a treasure to read. It’s just over 200 pages, but each page is poetry set in prose. Every word counts. It is about the displacement of four people during the civil war in India following the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. The travelers are an ageing doctor, twin five year old boys and a sixteen year old girl. Their journeys are separate, but strangely connected. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time.

stack of audio books

We are going to be taking a road trip soon, here’s the stash of audio books we are taking with us.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fabric painting

I continue to be fascinated by painting on fabric. Recently I came upon a post about the transformation of an knock-off Eames chair. I was intrigued by the look and wondered if I could do it in fabric.

First I tried the technique described in the Martha Stewart tutorial on paper.
herringbone notecard masked
Then I tried it on canvas fabric. Because both paper and fabric are more porous than wood, I did not add water to the paint and glaze mix.
herringbone notecard
There is something pleasing about the subtlety of the paint on the fabric, but I if I were going to do a major project with this technique,  I’d have to explore using house paints and the kind of acrylic glaze used by faux finish painters. Fabric is much more porous than wood or paper, so it used a lot of paint and glaze.
That said, I’m happy with the durability of latex  house paint on fabric. I washed my sample in hot water with detergent and dried it in the dryer. There was some very slight fading, but not enough to warrant using expensive fabric paints or fabric medium additive.
Just another technique for the toolbox.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Design on a Nickel—Finishing the pillows

Aft the pillow tops dried over night, a group of seamstresses came in to teach them to use a sewing machine, turn and stuff the pillows. I had in mind that they would hand stitch the opening closes, but they quickly overruled me and stitched them closed
Here’s one of the boys using my grandmother’s featherweight
daniel sewing



josh and connie
After washing old pillows in hot water, we harvested the filling to stuff the new ones.
stuffing pillows
pile of pillows
Just in case you were wondering about the durability of house paint on fabric, the striped pillow in the photo above was painted on canvas prepared with washing and drying. I did not use any fabric medium, and after a few days, I washed it in the machine in hot water and dried it in the dryer. No appreciable difference in color, and the paint is supple. Amazing. showing pillows
pillow crew
The final delivery of furniture comes this week, more pictures to come.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Design on a Nickel—Painting pillows

To prepare the fabric for painting, I purchased natural canvas fabric at JoAnn’s. It’s with the canvas duck, but it does not have the same finish as the colored duck.  washed it in hot water with detergent and damp dried it in the dryer, then finished drying it on a clothes rack. After ironing it I cut the fabric in 14” squares and 18” squares.
To introduce the painting to the participants, I had them work on 5” squares using freezer paper, masking tape and rubber stamps. We used the latex house paint left over from painting the room and furniture. They very quickly got the hang of it.
making samples
creating designs
helping designinstructions for pillows
painting pillows
Here are some of their artwork. We let them dry over night


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Design on a Nickel—Scraping and Painting

The young people’s event at church this past weekend was a big success. One of them is an aspiring chef and we started out with a wonderful dinner prepared by Chris and his sou chef TaShai. Yum!
Then they got busy scraping the peeling UV film off the windows, and painting some of the wood furniture.
daniel windows
more windows

painting bookcase
The coffee table for the room started out like this, a plywood topped activity table.

The legs were cut off so it’s 17” high, and it was sanded and painted. Later on, some decorative painting techniques will be applied.
After dinner we moved on to painting canvas to make pillows.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sewing with my sister

A couple of years before my mother died, she bought my two sisters and me fabric to make kimonos. Last year, Tracy finished them just in time for a family reunion. This week, Tracy wanted to make placemats out of the remaining scraps. They turned out beautifully.
Here they are in process paired with her china and some of the napkins she embellished.
tracy's placemats
She made some with yellow borders, some with green, and some with purple borders. Here are the green ones with their binding on.
There’s still leftover fabric, and she got inspired and made her first quilt. She’s been bitten badly. I’m meeting her at a sewing store next week to shop for a machine.
Here’s Tracy’s first completed top. I think it is fantastic, plus it’s flat and the corners are square. Quite a feat for a beginning quilter.
tracy's quilt
Here’s a photo of my first quilt. It was lumpy and crooked. In my defense I made it under the guidance of a hand quilters guild who cut their squares out by marking with soap slivers around a  cardboard template. They were dear women, mostly over 70 who sewed and quilted like they had in the 40's. They opened their fabric cupboards to me and helped me finish it by hand tying.  It’s pretty pitiful. Rotary cutters, mats and rulers do wonders for getting a quilt that’s flat and straight. The quilt went to a nursing home patient to keep her warm during Indiana’s cold winters.
first quilt