Friday, July 31, 2015

Midsummer Heat, Tomatoes, and Kittens

Where does the time go? Just keeping a few flowerbeds alive has been difficult in this near 100-degree heat in South Mississippi. I had high hopes for cherry tomatoes after my neighbor's vine climbed up and over my fence last year, giving me dozens of tomatoes. I planted one this year, and my huge vine finally produced a total of four tomatoes, which grew to tennis ball size. When they began to tempt the birds I picked my entire harvest and used them for paint subjects.
I'm enjoying an online botanical sketchbook painting class with Val Webb--just for fun. Drawing and painting have been a favorite pastime for me for years, and I love to be involved with some instruction. I rarely share these with anyone, so if you're looking, understand that I realize their limitations! I learned to stain my heavy watercolor paper with coffee, tea, mud, or pigment. Then we painted an undercoat of gouache and added Prismacolor pencils for shading and highlights--a totally new technique to me. The tomatoes above and the peppers on the right below are gouache with Prismacolor pencils. The peppers on the left are only Prismacolor pencils.
This month I finished a piece I had started in 2009 from a Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry pattern called Square Dance. Making this pattern is actually what introduced me to her Applipiecing technique and caused me to take her four-day Beyond the Grid workshop at her studio in Paducah--a dream-come-true experience! After making one block back then, I finally made the other three, added borders and quilted in a circular design. So the name became Circle Dance.
Circle Dance, 26" x 26"
And now for kitty news--Southern Pines Animal Shelter put out an urgent plea on Facebook for foster help with an influx of kittens. I picked up three little brothers who had been found and rescued. They had just been introduced to canned food and they looked like they had been rolling around in it! I bathed them and dried them--two solid white ones and one cream-colored with brown ears and tail.

I think they had lost their mama too soon and had been hungry and were food insecure, because they ate just like they kittens nurse--pushing with their feet and fighting for space. They were fun to watch and take care of (needing another bath in a couple of days!), but another shelter saw their picture and wanted them, so they were transported about 300 miles away after less than a week. It's nice to know that they had homes waiting for them once they grew enough. Meanwhile, my three grown cats are happy to be the only cats again.

Rah-Rah and Elizabeth

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ghost Quilting Class in Hernando

I presented a program on my path from traditional quilter to fiber artist in Hernando, MS, for Quilting in the Grove guild's combined day and night groups last weekend. It was fun getting to spend time with my friend Cheryl Owens, who had moved to Hernando after many years in Hattiesburg.
I don't get many opportunities to display the counted cross-stitch quilt that was my transition from embroidery and cross-stitch into quilting, so I showed it first. My daughter Linda and I began the squares together in the 1980s but I soon saw that a "real quilter" would need to finish it. So I set out to learn to be that quilter.
Friendship Cross-Stitch by Martha and Linda Ginn
After taking lots of classes, studying lots of books, and making many types of quilts, I began a Baltimore Album style quilt, an experience that would require five years. It was enjoyable and fulfilling and I was able to document my life in the quilt I called This Is My Story, This Is My Song.
This Is My Story, This Is My Song
 Most of the pieces I make now are smaller than bed quilts, and I enjoy the designing process as much as the actual making. I like to encourage quilters to continue to learn new skills and to be proud of their work. We all start more projects than we finish, and I told them that it is okay NOT to finish all of those if they no longer enjoy them. Often we learn something from working on a project and it is time to move on to a more enjoyable challenge. 
After lunch I taught a Ghost Quilting Class to some of the group. They were enthusiastic and eager to try something new. Many had never used the Neocolor II wax pastels, so I suggested they experiment first on extra fabric. We had a short lesson on free-motion quilting, which was also new to some of the quilters. It was exciting to see women draw who said they couldn't and others find that rhythm of speed of the machine with the movement of the hands to get a smooth free-motion stitch. Two of them used unusual background fabrics;  another placed her focus square off-center to allow the ghost flowers to show up more dramatically.
Donna's first time to free-motion quilt
Dee used a large print for her background and will add more color

Judy used a stripe and drew in large flowers before stitching

Mary Jo extended her sunflower, offsetting the block
Pam used crayons and stitches--success!
Jo Ann's stitches show nicely on this muted background 

Hernando is a small town about 20-30 miles south of Memphis; I thought the DeSoto County Administration Building was beautiful and unusual, so I had Cheryl stop so I could photograph it. The courthouse is in the middle of the town square, and this building is on a corner facing it. All in all, a lovely town.