Thursday, July 29, 2010


My online group has decided to swap fabric postcards. This is actually the third postcard that I have made in a week; I pieced the word Joy on the first one (it was a really cool postcard, much better than this one) and promptly misplaced it in the fabric stash and can't find it. What does that tell you about the fabric stash? And the second one, I fused a basket and 3 flowers on it and sent to Wales this afternoon...unfortunately I forgot to take a photo before it went to the post office. And in case you are interested, it costs $1.28 to send a postcard to Wales. This one is going to Massachusetts, and I put 2 stamps on it just in case there was extra postage. Supposedly you can send these through the mail without an envelope. I guess we will see when I receive mine. That is actually the most fun part, although they were kinda cool to make too, I am going to receive two in return. One from Texas and one from England. How cool is that? I can hardly wait.

This is the start of the dresden plate quilt.  The plates and sashing has been added to the background.  I am going to add a narrow green border and then I have been trying to decide about the wider border.  The pattern is actually set on point so the square quilt is made up of diamond shapes.  It's funny how they talk to you if you listen, this one is telling it needs an appliqued border with vines and flowers and maybe hand quilting too.   So far I am resisting the hand quilting idea, but I'm thinking it might be right about the border. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Upper Peninsula rocks and friends

It was a fabulous weekend, full of friends, beer, and really old rocks. Not necessarily in that order. Don and I saw amazing nickel sulfide cores at the Kennecott mine on Friday and heard a rather self-serving lecture on why operating this particular mine would be the best thing since sliced bread. It is true, there is lots of nickel in the rock, but it is only a 10 year operation to extract the nickel and then the company would be gone after making a projected 12 billion dollar profit.  They insist that the locals will get their share, but...   Yeah EPA, at least make them move the entrance away from Eagle Rock... This is a photo taken at Jasper Knob in Ishpeming, west of Marquette, made up of Negaunee banded iron formation (BIF). The red layers are Jaspilite and the gray is Specularite, a cherty hematite iron ore. These rocks are 1.5 billion or so years old.  The photo doesn't do it justice, the black Specularite is shiny and this formation just glows in the sun. This type of formation is found world-wide, and is a sedimentary rock formed formed in shallow seas. It was then heavily metamorphosed to give it the complex folding. There is a lot of speculation that since this rock contained lots of oxygen and the atmosphere at the time was oxygen poor, that a substantial amount of atmospheric oxygen was formed when these formations were "squished". This is one incredibly tough rock. For the most part, you can't touch it with a rock hammer, you have to pick up pieces that have frost heaved at the base of the hill. I already have quite a bit at home so I saved my strength (and D's of course). The next photo is of pillow basalts in the Mona Schists. These circular structures were formed when basalt flowed from a volcano under water and the rock was quickly quenched. This rock is about 2.6 to 2.7Ga or billion years old. Absolutely massive bedrock, no hammers at this stop either.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UP Field Trip

Yes, I'm going on a geology field trip to the Upper Peninsula. Yes, I know I have been there before, but is there something that you do, that no matter how many times you have done it before, if you do it again, it's still a thrill? Looking at rocks in the UP is that way for me. It's an adventure that I started with Dr. Chet Wilson 33 years ago at Mott Community College when I signed up for his physical geology course because I needed a natural science credit. How hard could it be to identify rocks? I love looking at rocks, I love touching them, I love tasting them, and I love just thinking about them. As habits go, it's not too bad, but it does have it's drawbacks... my son says erratic driving, that I'm not the most consistent driver through roadcuts because it is hard to see folding, faulting and lithology at 60 mph. My kids would tell you that talking about them is a also a drawback, but them knowing something about the natural world is not such a bad thing. This trip is basically a 2 day refresher of college field camp and I'm going with a couple college friends (and some of our kids) that I don't see regularly, in fact, our last meeting was 5 years ago at another field trip in the UP. I'll be back on Sunday with pictures. I bet you can't wait!

Also this week, the handmade paper is done, the 25 dresden blocks are appliqued and waiting to be pieced together, a harvest basket was made for a retiring co-worker, and the starlight quilt has my name and date in the border.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Oh, and I almost forgot...the first beans, snap peas, and cucumbers came out of the garden tonight. I immediately brought the beans home and just barely steamed them. They were perfect, especially with the first little cherry tomatoes from the deck. The cucumbers and peas were eaten on the way home. They were perfect too. I love having a veggie garden.


As promised, here is the paper-making post.
Deckle, abaca, hosta and goldenrod mash, kiss off, cooching...these are words with definitions that I didn't understand before last weekend.
Papermaking by hand is interesting. You suspend pulp, in our case paper mash and/or abaca (which is really dried paper mash that you reconstitute using water), in a large tub of water, swing in a mold and deckle, (really a frame with screening to capture the pulp and allow the water to drain through and another frame to create the deckled edge) and then cooch the paper pulp from the screen onto a wet cloth to to make a sheet of paper. To kiss off is to turn the screen upside down in the water and gently and quickly rinse the pulp back into the vat. On Saturday, Chris and I made about 50 9x11" sheets, and on Sunday, we made more than 250 notecards (I know, I know, even I was thinking that I wasn't going to live long enough to use this many cards) by putting tape across the deckle and only allowing the pulp to catch in the rectangles between the tape. This photo is of some the notecards drying on a line at the house. The pink with red flecks was created when I swirled some red oxide paint in the water. The green is the goldenrod/hosta mash made with torn strips of green leaves, soaked overnight and then boiled for a few hours. My cup of hosta mash was made from about 3 gallons of hosta leaves. Note to self...use outside grill to boil the mash on next time, it smells... Our friend Joetta, teaching the class, had about 3 cups of goldenrod mash. She said that she and the neighbor girl picked goldenrod for a couple hours. I believe it. The blue was Chrissy's idea, she added blue and green dye to the hosta mash water after most of the hosta was gone. So she got blue paper with just a lovely bit of green stuff. We made thick sheets, thin sheets, 2 sheets put together with inclusions between them (the piece of fern) and we embossed paper with leaves. For some papers, we added dyes and/or colored bits of paper or cotton or dryer lint or yarns to the paper. I put woven birchbark between paper and onto paper. We used raffia, onion skin, marigold and zinnia petals, and fresh and dried flowers and leaves. I was very happy with the results. We used sizing in the water to make the paper stiffer and seal it a bit so we could write on it. I also pressed it with a hot iron when it was almost dry so as to flatten the sheets and give them a bit of a sheen. I used a sharpie on a notecard piece today and it worked wonderfully. I'm thinking that maybe I'll go back on Sat again and make some envelopes to go with our cards. Also Joetta has a paperwasp nest from last year that has some gorgeous organic looking grays and taupes running through it. I'm thinking that a bit of it would look lovely in my paper. Look for a handmade card in a mailbox near you soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


48 pieces of handmade paper created today with Chrissy and Joetta. It is cool what you can make with abaca, water, paper pulp, dried and fresh leaves, and mulched goldenrod. And 3 dresden plates appliqued. Good day. Photos tomorrow.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Edyta Sitar's Dresden Plates

I took a 6 hour workshop from Edyta Sitar through my guild, Genesee Star Quilters, a couple weeks ago and left that next morning to go on vacation with my family. It was a wonderful workshop and I would encourage anyone who has the chance to take one her classes to do so. She was a good speaker who made time for everyone and her directions were very thorough and clear. I made 4 of these plates during the workshop with the pattern and fabric provided by her. During the vacation, I decided to make a bigger quilt putting the plates on point and had to augment the fabric selection with a trip to a Norfolk Virginia quilt shop. (A fun vacation experience for me, but not so much for H.) Needless to say, though her fabric choices were both batiks and traditional prints, I have decided to go with batiks for my background and centers. They are actually quite different greens, but in this photo the colors are very close. Now I have 29 plates completed and basted to the background. Here they are lying on my bed as I decide how to do the sashing and border. Because the fabric in the plates is already folded and I did yo-yo centers, assembling the blocks will be easy. It's a nice evening to applique.
And P.S. I ate my first 2010 red cherry tomato from the deck this evening. YEAH!