Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New Home

I have to say I am very excited about our new home. We are allowed in Thursday at 5, so we will be eating dinner there that night. And then Friday night we promised the kids we could camp out there. We will not be moving in for a while. Every wall needs at least paint. Most walls are wallpapered, so they need to have wallpaper stripped before painting. We figure the work will be easier without our furniture in place. The carpet also needs to be replaced. While I am sure it is beautifully decorated, it is just not my style.

On top of all the decorating issues, the basement has high levels of radon gas. We are having a mitigation system installed next week, which will solve the problem. The homeowner was apalled that they did not know about the radon gas while they were raising their kids there. And the realtor just about had a cow because she used to own the house across the street, which also has a radon issue. Anyway, the mitigation system continuously monitors the radon level in the basement and sends it to the rado monitoring company. Their work is guaranteed for the life of the house, so if it is ever out of whack, they will come fix it. It also has a display on it so we can always know the radon gas level.

Our current house is on the market, but not under contract, yet. I am sure it will sell soon. It is in good shape, although the kitchen could be updated. We may do a little work on the kitchen to help the marketability. (Is that a word?) I am not all that worried about it. Well, maybe a little.

The new house is bigger and in a different school district. Both of those were factors in deciding to buy that house. We bought our current house when we were in our 20's and only had 1 child. Now we are in our mid-thirties and have three kids. Our needs and, quite frankly our income are different now. I love the floor plan, as it emphesizes the family room and really has a very small formal living room. Actually, I think the living room is probably bigger than I imagined because the sellers had a baby grand piano in there. My small cabinet upright piano will take up a lot less room. The living room also has a fake fireplace, and I am not sure what that is about. We'll see what I do with that. Back to the family room, it is large, has a fireplace, and windows that look out over the wooded backyard. It also has French doors onto the large deck. Since we have kids, we spend a lot of time in the family room.

Our current house was built in 1975, which means it has a lacking master bath. The new house has an incredible master bath, if you look beyond the purple plaid wallpaper and purple carpet. I plan to tile the bathroom floor. I know everyone says they never use their jetted tub. However, I am a bath person, and I am sure I will use it. (I'll get back to you in a couple of months...) The master bedroom has a fireplace, which I think is romantic. But, I am not sure how much we will use it. I have this idea in mind to have a fake bearskin run in front of the fireplace. My husband just rolls his eyes. Maybe I do have a little bit of romance in me...

The house has 4 1/2 baths, which is two more than we have now. I have told the kids it is time they learned to clean bathrooms. The seller offered me the name of her cleaning lady, but I think I will still be cleaning myself...

The seller had a room in the basement where she made and furnished doll houses. It has great light and she was delighted that I would be moving my quilting stuff in there.

I am hoping to entertain a little more in the new house. It has a great set up for that. Of course, it will be a while before we are ready for that. I am hoping to do a big party at Christmas.

After Thursday, I will have pictures to show you. Keep your fingers crossed that someone will buy our house soon.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Chapter 10 Check In

I found all the stuff about avoiding creating very interesting. I do tend to start the laundry, oh and do the dishes, and take out the trash... Well, you get it. I am not a workaholic because I don't have a job. I do have my kids, but they nap and go to school, so I do have some time. I probably cook dinner to avoid working on things sometimes.

Nothing I do would win a competition. However, I have seen a number of my high school friends/aquaintainces making careers out of being creative. One friend is a set designer for off-Broadway productions. Another person I knew in high school is an Oscar nominated actor. One of my best friends has 3 piano CD's out for which she not only played the music, she composed it all. So, I do see myself as being behind them. However, I also don't see myself as being the next Jinny Beyer, either, so I am pretty sure my quilting goals do not equal their goals for their art.

I do know that my t-shirt quilt has gotten many compliments and I will be receiving some more t-shirt quilt business. The person for whom I made it says everyone comments on how unique it is.

Artist's Date this week... I went to the quilt store and got fabric for my first Art Image challenge. I also shopped on-line for fun fabric paiints and some anti-chlor. That was all done in one afternoon, so I kind of see it as an Artisit's Date.

We closed on the new house today. It still does not feel real as we don't take possession until Thursday. The closing went very smoothly, for which I am grateful. Now to start taking down wallpaper...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Discharge Dying

I decided yesterday to try discharge dying. I don't know why I suddenly wanted to try it, but I did. I was thinking of using it in the first Art Image Challenge of the year. I had a Clorox Bleach Pen that I was going to use to do the bathroom floor, but then I didn't need it. So I pulled out a bunch of different fabrics. I did a wet and a dry sample of each. Then, while they were bleaching, I thought I would do some research. It turns out, I needed something called anti-chlor to make the bleaching process stop and keep my fabric from getting brittle. So I ordered it from Dharma Trading Company. (While on the website, I ordered some DynaFlow paints, too, like Jenny used in her first journal piece...) I rinsed them in water after I was done bleaching, and then threw them in the dryer.

I am not displeased with the results. My technique needs a little refining. Having the fabric wet kept the bleach from bleeding a lot. I think I will try using contact paper as a mask and spraying the bleach, too. But, I definately see how this could work into my first Art Image piece.

I look at the painting and see millions of individual snow crystals, all with hexagonal symmetry. I think that is what I am gong to explore for my piece. I have been researching snow crystals, and it is fascinating.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

January Journal Quilt

Here is my finished January Journal Quilt. It actually is rectangular. It just didn't photograph that way. I'll try to take a better picture later and change it out.

It is all hand appliqued, which would explain why I was still working on it at midnight last night. The fish are all buttons. One of my kids helped put them on. I am on there rock climbing, relaxing on the beach (listening to Clay Aiken, according to Beth), and riding in a hot air balloon. The whole time I was working on this piece, Tim McGraw's song, "Live Like You Were Dying" was running through my head. I have no desire to sky dive, but I have hiked in the Rockies, and would love to again.

After visiting the Georgia Aquarium this morning, I have changed my overall journal quilts theme. Now it is water, so this one still fits in the theme.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You All and Your Magazines

I have been on a magazine buying freeze. But then I saw Quilting Arts at the grocery one day and had to have it. And then I read on someone's blog about Cloth Paper Scissors, and someone else mentioned Sumerset Studio. So I thought I would look when I was in JoAnn's today getting fish buttons. The two magazines had to come home with me along with Inspirations.

There was a huge back-up on the highway due to a broken-down tractor trailer, so I went the back way home. The back way goes right by the quilt store. One of my favorite quilters is teaching a class next month on fabric postcards. Now, I know I do not need to take a class on fabric postcards. But I love this teacher's style of just about everything she does. So I am going to take Melinda's class just because I want to be inspired. I stopped to register for the class and there was a new Designers' Quarters right by the register. It came home with me, too.

So now I think I am set with magazines for a while. Good thing these only come out quarterly...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

January Journal Quilt Again and Chapter 8

Here is the background for my journal piece. I just laid it on top of the scanner and scanned. It looks a little different in real life, but not much. The colors are a little light in real life. Next I will add the trees. I am not sure how that will go. I will probably do it while watching tv. I am happy that I am on-track to finish it by my reveal date, next Saturday.

The funny thing about this week is that Chapter 8 of The Artist's Way is about time and I took it to heart. I think the central message was , "Stop fretting, stop planning, start doing." So that is what I did with this piece. I just went downstairs and started cutting and sewing. And I am very pleased with the results.

I love the idea of "Fill in the Form." Now, being an engineer, I first thought about it in terms of concrete. In order to build a structure, you have to start by building the foundation. Many buildings have a concrete foundation built by filling in molds called forms. Then I realized that Ms. Cameron wouldn't be thinking that way, but the analogy still worked. I like the idea of taking life one step at a time. Of course, I am not that type of person. In high school, I had my entire life planned out. Guess what? It didn't work out. I fell in love and had kids, neither of which were in my plan. I am not unhappy that I did either, though. This week I worked on just taking the next step. It will be a hard lesson to learn, but a very good one.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

More on my Journal Quilt

I have the ocean appliqued down now. I used hand applique because I have a mental block against machine applique. Not that I am some sort of purist who thinks applique should only be done by hand. I have a personal block against it. I have actually tried machine applique a few times. I should take a class or buy a book. If anyone has any machine applique book suggestions, I would love to hear them.

I actually had a fun time doing the ocean. Next comes the mountain. I plan to do that during the Redskins' game this afternoon. I have not yet figured out how to do the trees, but I guess I had better hurry since it is due next Saturday. I am thinking of doing the Julies like paper dolls. I was thinking of using Timtex to make little people and then fusing fabric on them to dress them. I am going to try to find some fish buttons this week and perhaps some bird buttons, too. I have never added buttons, or beads or any sort of embellishment like that to a quilt, and I think it is high time I started.

Becky in Suriname completed her January Journal Quilt, and it is wonderful. I love the thread painting and want to try that myself someday.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Journal Quilt for January

Here is a sketch of my January Journal Quilt. There will be four little Julies on this quilt. One will be scuba diving, one will be snorkeling, one will be rock/mountain climbing, and the final one will be in a hot air balloon. Ok, French Impressionist I am not, but I get the idea from this picture. I think a lot of my journal pieces are going to have the ocean on them. I think I am just a beach bum at heart.

A new meme

Jen of Bayou Quilts tagged me to do this...

Four jobs you've had: concessions at the Columbia Cinemas, a salesperson in a vintage clothes shop, graduate student, engineer
Four movies you could watch over and over: Remember the Titans, Steel Magnolias, Varsity Blues, Field of Dreams
Four places you've lived: College Park, MD, Columbia, MD, Blacksburg, VA, Atlanta, GA
Four TV shows you love to watch: West Wing, Boston Legal, Two and a Half Men, Gilmore Girls
Four Places You've Been on Vacation: London, The Soviet Union (back when it was The Soviet Union,) Isle of Palms, SC, Disney World
Four Websites You Visit Every Day: About.com quilting forum, a number of blogs
Four Of Your Favorite Foods: French fries with ketchup, chicken salad, pizza from Ledos, shrimp
Four Places You'd Rather Be: The Beach, London, St. John, USVI, Disney World
Four Albums you can't live without: REM Eponymous, Jill Palmer's Wings to Fly, Jimmy Buffet's Songs You Know by Heart, and my new favorite is the soundtrack from Jersey Boys
Four People you'll pass this on to: Anyone else want to play? We did something like this when we started The Artist's Way and it helped to get to know each other.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Chapter 7 Check In

I, too, enjoyed chapter 7. I think there is a little perfectionist in all of us. I also think there is a little jealousy in all of us. Maybe jealousy is too strong of a word, but other people have things that I would enjoy. Am I dying of envy? No. But I do think that wanting things helps us grow as people.

I will admit to fogetting my morning pages all week. The kids were still off school and I kind of forgot I wasn't on vacation from my entire life, too. That said, I will start them again in the morning. Really, I will.

I threw caution to the wind and joined the Art Image Challenge for next year. I want the practice. I also came up with a design for the Hoffman Challenge. Now, I realize my quilting is not good enough to win the Hoffman Challenge. I do not say that to put myself down. I have not been quilting very long. With young kids at home, I certainly do not have a lot of time to quilt. But I am working on it. And participating in these things will allow me to have a set goal and just get something down.

I got all excited about the collage until I realized that I have recycled all the excess magazines in the house in order to get it clean, to show. The only one we receive in the mail is Mechanical Engineering. Somehow I don't think it has the pictures I need. I was going to use Sophie's idea and get pictures off the internet, but time slipped away. I think I will go raid the magazine recylcing bin at the school, tear out the pictures and then return the magazines. (Really, that wouldn't be wrong, would it?) Or I may take the time this afternoon to find some pictures on the internet.

Synchronicity... My life has been full of it lately. It turns out, the assistant set director of the production of Wicked that I saw, was a friend of mine in middle and high school. And he is opening a company in Atlanta. His website is not set up enough for me to contact him yet, but I will as soon as I can get the contact information. I really just want to tell him how much I enjoyed the performance and am looking forward to the Atlanta production this spring. We'll see what happens. I also got a Christmas card from another high school friend, Jill Palmer. She is a pianist whose music I love. She now lives close to my parents so I am hoping to see her next time I visit them. Earlier this year I read on her website about her tour of hospices. I had given her cd to a friend of mine who was dying of ovarian cancer. And I thought, "Wow. How serendipitous." (It was before I was introduced to the word synchronicity.) I e-mailed her and she e-mailed back and that was the end of it. However, I wanted to send her a Christmas card, but I didn't have an address. Sure enough, she had mine from sending me the cd and I got her card with her address.

For my Artist's Date I went to Borders. I am a book junkie. I got Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss and Eight Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruise. The former is about punctuation and the latter is a fitness book. I had read about him in Oprah's magazine and did his exercises for quite a while in the spring. Then Barbara mentioned him on the Quilter's Lounge. I am excited about adding his exercises to my walking routine starting tomorrow morning.

On to week eight...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

American Gothic Challenge

There is a group on the About.com quilting forum who designed quilts based on different works of art this year. It is called the ARTImage Challenge. I did not participate, but read the posts and looked at the new works of art as they were revealed. The October challenge was the famous picture American Gothic.

When this challenge was announced, I was taking a trip with my dad to the family farm. My grandmother has gotten too old to live there by herself, so we helped her move into a retirement home and auction off some of her stuff and a small parcel of land and the buildings. Part of this farm has belonged to my family since the late 1700's as payment for fighting in the Revolution. We still own that part.

Do to this coincidence of events, I decided to take on the American Gothic challenge. This piece is the first time I have worked as an artist instead of a crafter, and I can feel the difference. Making the quilt did not take very long. Designing it and getting over the hump of actually starting it with some sort of confidence took a long time for me. It was going to have more stuff on it, like a farm house, barn, silo, sheep, etc. I decided I like it better plain.

Runyan Farm
by Julie Kokan
15x15 inches

This quilt depicts my dad as a little boy feeding a lamb named Oscar Pepper. What you don't see in the picture is that as soon as the lamb finished the bottle he turned around and knocked my dad down. I found this picture in the house the night before the auction and knew I had to do something with it.

This picture was my first ever attempt at putting a picture onto fabric. I did it the expensive way with the Printed Treasures. Although it worked great, I will buy some Bubble Jet Set when I run out of the fabric sheets. However, I wanted something easy that I knew would work for my first attempt at this process.

I think this quilt will be the first in a series. I am working on getting a picture of my mom when she was little to make a similar one of her. She grew up in the city, so I am thinking of more of city background for hers. From there, I will go to my husband's parents.

I hope you all enjoy my first foray in to art.