Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Machine applique is fun!

I am in the process of getting into the process of a couple of Baltimore Elegance blocks. I have cut all of the back round squares and have been working on one with dimentional flowers. I have reason to think my hand applique skills need lots of work which I am willing to do but in the meantime I do want to see some progress. Therefore I did this block today on my machine and I am very pleased with how it turned out.
In another quarter, I have resurrected my Dear Jane quilt blocks and found that in all of my false starts I have accumulated nearly ninety blocks!!! Which is more than enough to make a top especially if I use my siggie squares as spacer blocks-or some other spacer blocks. So that is what I have been up to these last 24 hours....
As for the black beauty, I have decided to make some random swirly log cabin blocks to create a field to place my blocks. There. I am not sure when I will begin this. Time will tell. Time will tell.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Some things I have been doing tonight.
The hand dyed fabric is so wonderful to work with. I love the saturated colors. I am thinking of using all these blocks to make a diamond in the square type quilt maybe with some more borders to make it big enough to fit my bed.I made the fourth bear's paw to make symmetry. I am not sure if I want symmetry but I had to try it out. My first thought was to go way abstract, but then I noticed that they fit into a square and by golly they fit good. I will use all of the blocks somewhere in the quilt even if they don't "fit" in the medallion. The small blocks are designed by Carol Honderich for her Women of the Bible quilt. The hand dyes are from Val Champ in Canada.These are the fabric that I save and hoard! Also some Cherrywood on the Bear paw blocks.
The center blocks are Dear Jane sampler blocks in Lancaster colors. O my! I have been a busy lady!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Visit to Florida

My relatives are a creative bunch. No doubt where I got the genes. It rained alot so we mostly sat inside and made beads. My aunt Suzy sells them on ebay.
She showed me some bead making secrets and took me to a bead store and we were off! My Grandmother also designs and makes jewelry. We spent pleasant hours sitting and beading and I got to bring some of their lovely creations home with me to share with my girls.
We also dined out and consumed large portions of food. Fried catfish and fried chicken greens and double double chocolate cake and someone had bananas foster and sweet potaotoes and pecan pie and cheesy grits and pecan rolls. Man! I will miss that.
It was a calm visit, except for the bumpy flight down, heheheh, and I got to see my family and promised not to let decades pass before I go again. Time is a river. Isn't that a song or a poem or something? It continues and we are carried along and sometimes it takes a huge effort to stop and change direction, but if we don't, then we miss things that we need to do. So I did.
This is a painting my mother did on her last visit to Florida. It is done on glass and you are looking at the reverse side-the smooth side of the glass. Sure boggles my mind. I am hoping to get it shipped here one day.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Floor cloth

I love my floor cloth on many levels. For one thing it is the biggest painting I have ever done and I love to work big. I love love love to make really big paintings. It is twenty by eight to fit the front porch which is our entry, our tool storage room and our studio. Not much space and freezing in the winter but I am happy to have it. And it is facing north so when there is enough light to paint from april through september I am happy.
The floor cloth is done in acrylics with a sponge on a gesso back round.I laid it out in the driveway and taped the squares, which are of course, quilt squares. What else would they be? On the back I used latex house paint to give it some added strength. It has held up very well and the best thing about it is that I never worry about spilling anything on it because it blends in and looks like it belongs there, well almost.Close inspection will bear me out. The only thing I would do differently is to find a non yellowing poly urethane to finish it with since the poly that I used did yellow it signifigantly. It has been a great studio floor and covers a multitude of sins-mainly tiles that were glued onto a cement floor that we could not get up no matter how much scraping and muriatic acid we used.
So if you ever think it might be something you would like to try, I say go for it. Just do it- it is only paint and if you hate it you can always blame me. I can take it.
My little featherweight has arrived from Arkansas. I bought her from ebay and I think she is very sweet. Everything works and she fits right in to the scheme of things here. I hope she will be happy in her new home. I am going to shine her up with some wd-40 in a little while, to make her gleam.

Monday, January 15, 2007

January 12x12x12

A couple of people have asked me about the process I used in the center.First I drew and stamped on muslin. Then I photographed it.Before I cut it up. The blue one is a recolored version of the brown one which I cut up. I Ironed freezer paper to regular old washed muslin and ran it through my printer which is an Epson. It uses Durabrite ink which is water resistant. After printing, I iron and that's it.I have tried to washe printed fabric, done this way and it has not run. But these pieces will not be washed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

more pictures

Pinch me!

Image hosted by
by marthabilski
Click on photo to be taken to webshots.
...I just returned from picking up my newly acquired 1928 Singer
Treadle!! It is so beautiful and is in a cabinet with all of the
original attachments and the leather belt! Even the manual is in it
and it too is in pristine condition. The cabinet even has a drawer
and it has its own key. I never would have thought that there was
one of these out there for me! I must be dreaming!
I think I was lucky because it was local and I could just go get it
(her?), so join me in my happy dance !
I almost got to meet the son of the original owner, Vito, but he
could not make it. My thanks to Vito and his mom, and to Patty who
put it on the internet for me to find. Also the folks on the Vintage
singer list who suggested that I look for one one Craig's list, woo

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

tentative muses

It is amazing what a being can do when the house is quiet and peaceful. I have even begun to think about writing again. The past few years, I have been so absorbed with my bipolar daughter that I have not had the wherewithal to have a regular creative routine. I used to write every day, I belonged to a writer's group. I got paid for writing. I had poems published. I sold some of my work. Last night I began to think that it would be good for me to be out and amongst my fellow artists. This, after years of needing all of my energy to deal with my out of control teenager-determined to go to any lengths to save her.
I remember Caroll O'Connor made a commercial after his son died of an overdose, and in it, he said,
"Do any thing that you can to get between your kid and drugs."
I remembered this when we had to hospitalize her three times last year, after we had exhausted all of our other options. Three times in one year. We put her in a place that specialized in teen agers and even there she was alot for them to handle. She was out of control even there. WIth a staff. If there had been street drugs there she would have found a way to use them. And so she went back a second time and it slowly began to dawn on her. She was running out of options and she knew it. Fortunately she did not want to die, she only wanted to feel better. If she had been bent on final destruction, can anyone have saved her? Finally after the second hospitalization-when she was finally given the meds that work to keep her stable and not zombified, and an out patient drug treatment program and continued therapy she began to feel good enough to want to live beyond the next smoke.or sniff. or line or drink or whatever.... she left it all behind, the drugs, the friends and the others who"loved" her.... She is even trying to give up cigarette smoking. She is thinking of her future-that she has options and wants to go to England and have kids and finish school.
Is this a miracle? Yes it is a miracle that healing can take place..That for the first time in years she feels hope and she has good days and she feels some control. I wept when she started to feel good and it was such a contrast. And so hard to comprehend that she had felt so bad for so long. Kids do not always have the verbal vocabulary to tell you how they are feeling. They cannot tell you that they are experiencing bone crushing emotional pain or having compulsions to hurt themselves. Theirs is a vocabulary of actions, and sometimes our job as parents is simply to keep them alive long enough for them to find the help they need.
So yes it does feel like a miracle and I am grateful for it. But it is also the result of years of work on my part. And years of work for her doctors and years of my husband supporting us while all this went on and it cost me my muse because I was too stressed and tired to listen to it and I was always waiting for the call from the school from the police, from her friends from the hospital...and it seemed like there always was one. Not one day went by where there was not a crisis. Not one day.
And muses, do they always come back? of course not. They are fickle and tempermental and need constant attention or they vaporize. I remember reading Maya Angelou saying that she felt sorry for her kids having a mother who was a writer because she was always secluded in her room, writing. It is so hard to find that solitude that you need to write-hours at a time every day when you have kids-and when you have a bi polar or any special needs kids or any other family member, well it is damn near impossible. I know that some do it, that they write or make art in the midst of chaos. Others, like me, a survivor in my own right, need some order, and time and quiet to be able to hear my muse, to take direction from my inner voice. And lately since dear daughter has gone to stay with her dad-just like that-it got so quiet and I read in a blog about someone resuming morning pages and I thought well maybe I would take that route and give myself that gift again and see where it leads and here I am writing about it and who knows I may just continue along this path, this benevolent way, and see where it takes me. We still have one daughter with us at home, but she is a quieter variety.
Mike has brought me coffee ( I am lost without him) and we will have breakfast together before we go our separate ways. I will go into my sewing room, find my journal and do my morning pages and he is going to build us a shelf to put in our hutch so that we can organized our dishes so that we don't have to take everything out to get to the ones behind them. O the joys of living in a shoe box, or as I call it, the Hut.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Working on it

Two name and claims have serious progress.
I finished my last Round Robin commitment and it will be packed up and sent off tomorrow.YAY!!!
What took me so long was not the execution but the choosing a direction. I could not figure out how to add another colored border so I ended up adding corners and I think it looks fantastic. I spent alot of time worrying about it and I am greatly relieved to be finished with my part! The picture is a little wobbly looking because the holder was giggling.
The stack of circles will be made into a coverlet to to be explained whenI am able to be more coherent. Something about making a nine patch then sewing it to a circle and turning in inside out . Then you fold four arcs to the front and it looks like a pincusion block, aka glorified nine patch. Probable will make more sense when I put it together. It will not be stuffed or quilted. Anyway I have fifty eight done and I am out of kona cream so I guess I have enough.
Or they could be berets, pancakes or frisbies.
Also finished a presentable piece for my 12 by 12 by 12 January block.
It was a rare day when I could do so much and not be distracted and interrupted. It was wonderful. Just wonderful.

ghost images

I noticed the writing on the lower left after I printed the recolored image onto batik. I thought maybe it was in the batik fabric but when I came back to the computer and noticed it was here too so it must have been on the original muslin which was drawn onto -not printed. How weird. Well, I could photo shop it out but why would I want to do that?
So using this print and some batik that I bought on sunday, I did some machine quilting, an on point grid, with #12 sulky varigated thread-luscious- and I really like it. I won't "unveil" till the 15th as that is my date. And I am going to add beads at the interctions and bind with a contrasting color-maybe purple???
I did cut and collage the original muslin which I am also going to finish. It looks cool but in a totally different way.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Abandoned Store
The Diner which still has a great meatloaf platter.
Michael came from Riverhead. Used to be mainly potato fields and cauliflower farms. In the last 15 years since the "Outlets" mall set up shop on the outskirts, the center of the town of Riverhead has been dying by degrees. The mall gives cheap part time jobs with no benefits and no future. The farmers have sold their land to developers who erect Mc Mansions whose denizens ironically complain about the dust from the farm fields. They spray plenty of pesticides on their golf courses though. The main crop now is grapes for wine which has saved the farm land from becoming a memory. Now wine is the king crop. Because the land value and taxes have skyrocketed due to rising population numbers, it became too expensive to operate a farm and very profitable to sell. Another big business in Riverhead is the prison.That is another story. There is talk of building yet another one.
What is left of the old town is really quite lovely, but there little hope of it being allowed to remain so. Big business-in the form of the outlet mall, has taken root and it is not healthy for the town or its residents. My camera batteries gave out before I could get more pictures, before it is too late. It is the story of small town America everywhere.
Another Abandoned Store

Friday, January 05, 2007

drawing for faces block

This is the drawing I started last night to use as fabric for my Faces 12by12by12 challenge. I am not sure how I will proceed-whether by addition or subtraction but it will not remain as is.My intention was to make a fabric to be used in a block, but of course now I am reluctant to cut into it. I may have to copy it and use the copy. Yes I am a little wired on this but the creative juices are flowing along with the caffeine...
the piece is 12 inches square but there is alot that I could cut off without feeling any great loss-like the upper right and the entire left edge.
well at least the ball is rolling:)
+++I have cut it up and will do something log cabinny to it+++

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Swap blocks

January 's two blocks done. I got a head start this month and I can cross this off my list. Tomorrow is a day off and I am going to be cleaning and shopping for snacks for a gaggle of high school girls who will sleep at my tiny house during their "Model Congress". This is kind of a convention slash debating gathering and this weekend is our high school's turn to host. I was not planning on hosting but begging and tears and bargaining wore me down and I capitulated at the last minute----so we will squeeze the three girls in for one night-snacks included. They will be in for a cultural surprise since they come from a town where mansions are the norm. My house is the size of their garage. O well. Perhaps we will enjoy the cross cultural exchange lol. And it is only one night and Bailey deserves to get her way sometimes---and she promised to clean her room!!
I hope to be able to work on my round robin commitment. I have put it off till after the holidays and I want to get it finished and off my list so I can have some space to think about what is next. Hmm maybe there will an applique block in my future-maybe more than one. I will see how long this longing lasts and if I still have a stong yen in a week I certainly have some fabric around to play with. And a couple of pattern books to boot.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bowl and Block in progress

Katy and Jenny gave me this beautiful glass bowl for Christmas. It is hand blown and they know how much I love hand made art.
I filled it with shells that i bought at a shop in mystic Connecticut. They are not local shells. Look like maybe Carribean shells. I intended to gold leaf some of them.
The block is waitng for me to add stitches.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Some pics from last night

My Michael, Lydia and Erica, our nieces, and one beaded diamond.