Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

Catching Up

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Can that be true? Already it is the 20th of December? Where did the year go!

The little “Alaska” piece that I showed recently sold on the evening of First Friday at the Topeka Art Guild, and there has been a round of Christmas parties to attend lately. Thankfully the weather has been good for getting out and about!

I did work on changing backgounds on the dogs; the picture in my mind’s eye is a riot of color with a flower garden background. In reality it was a too busy mess. I first tried the red and yellow flowers and then tried white ones for better contrast.


The actual photograph shows the dogs with a mostly grassy background and flowers. I pinned up some green grassy fabrics and that is better, but still too much all medium tones.


I thought perhaps sky would be nice and I do think it sets them off nicely.


This hand dye is one I did myself and used in “Spring Encounter”, but there is not much left. Certainly not enough, so I have been shopping for something to go with it, since I don’t really enjoy the mess of dyeing, myself. I darkened and tweaked the the grays on the dog for better contrast.

In the meantime I developed a plan for the SAQA “This Is A Quilt” collection. This exhibit travels for a period of time and the pieces only need to be 7 x 10″, so I thought this would be a good time to knock that out. I had purchased a wonderful piece of Marcia Derse fabric that was a mottled mix of greens and yellows with some reds and black with the idea that it would work for the winter color of male Goldfinches.


It is so good, I want more in case I decide to make a bigger version.

So yesterday I drove to Lawrence to Sarah’s where I had purchased that fabric, but I guess I was not the only one to love it and it was all gone!! I did score a batik though that I think will do for dog sky, and some more of the border black print that I am using on the dogs. Not all bad news though, because it forced me to go looking on line and I found Meandering Threads which has a lot of the kind of funky fabrics I love, so this morning I found the fabric online and ordered a yard of it plus a couple more that I couldn’t do without!

The last “This Is A Quilt” exhibit has retired and they are for sale in the SAQA store. I purchased “A Lotus Flower” by Chang Hsu-Hsing of Taiwan. It is gorgeous!! My little pieced dog is still available; the sale goes until Dec 31..still good stuff left, check it out!

We are hunkering down for a wintery blast of ice and snow, possible 10″, so I plan on sewing for the next few days! Check out “Off The Wall Friday” to see what others are working on.

Catching Up

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Sorry to have been so out of touch! I have been having computer problems again. Problems getting on-line and problems loading photos.

Things have been pretty busy around here since last I posted. I finished the Alaska pieces (I made two)


and started the next big project, which will be another dog portrait featuring four dogs this time.


The weather has been lovely most days with beautiful blue skies and moderate temperatures enticing me to spend some time outside. Still there is so much to do before winter sets in and that is about to happen next week I think! We have also enjoyed a few rainy spells which are indeed welcome as we are so behind on moisture. A very windy day took most of the leaves from the trees so yesterday we were able to remove the cover from the pond, put that away and clean the filters. We are in the process of having a tornado shelter installed and right now things are a muddy mess but hopefully that will be taken care of soon. It should look OK once I can landscape around it.

Quilt Market

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Quilt Market is currently in progress in Houston and I sort of miss the hustle and bustle, but not enough to consider going back! The morning weather report confirms that I am glad to be safely dry and at home, having experienced Houston’s torrential rain and flooded roads on a previous trip!

The Northcott Fabrics booth will be displaying this sample from my POPPY! pattern featuring their new Shimmer line of fabric.



Also on display in the exhibits area and staying through Festival next week are “Who, Me?” in “Celebrate Spring”, “Snow Buddies” in a special exhibit of pet quilts and “In The Bleak Midwinter” in “World of Beauty”. I do wish I could pop in to see those exhibits and Festival, but for this year, it is not to be.

Here at home I have been working on a small wall hanging commission. Each year in an attempt to entice folks to invest in art, the Topeka Art Guild Gallery asks for smaller less expensive works for sale during the month of December and January. A couple of years ago I entered a small landscape of a photo that I took on our Alaska trip and it was purchased by a lady who had lived in Alaska for a while. Ever since she has been after me to make her another, and last month she loaned me one of her photographs to render in fabric for her.


The next step is to quilt and bind it for delivery in a week or so.

Quilting the Harrier

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Monday morning was busy with preparing and shipping “Watermelon Wine” which was invited to go to Florida for the “Faces of Color” exhibit in Daytona Beach, Feb 1-Mar 30.

Then preparing a backing and layering and pin basting the harrier piece for the machine quilting. That was ready to go at lunchtime and here it is after 5 hours of quilting!

Machine quilting is not as fast as you might think! Other demands kept me from the machine Tuesday and parts of Wednesday, but I managed to finish the bird and get a good start on the background. Today I am looking forward to uninterrupted quilting time; we’ll see…

Good news phone call yesterday from the Topeka Art Guild gallery, “Alaska” sold! This piece was begun in a landscape workshop with Patty Hawkins. It is fused applique, not my usual pieced technique, and though it does reflect my typical fabric choices, I was glad to let it go! It was inspired by a photo that I took in Alaska.

Back To Work

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Now that Thanksgiving is over with, it’s time to get back to work.

I got my entries in for both Lancaster and Paducah, and for good measure, Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival which isn’t even due til late Jan! It feels good to be ahead. In reviewing the upcoming list of shows and contests. I see that if I am to have anything for Celebrate Spring this year, I’ll need to get started as the deadline for that is Jan 31.

I finished off the Alaska piece with a faced edge and will enter that in the local Topeka Art Guild Christmas sale where nothing can be priced over $100.00. I was prepared to have nothing there, but remembered this piece which everyone who sees it seems to like.

Since it is fused applique and is not in my “real” style, I can let go. It is about 15 x 21″ and really is nice and squared up, the photo is a little keystoned.

I got acceptance from “Road To California” for “The Merchant’s House” !

Finished Projects

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The handwork is finished on the elk and now he has a permanent twinkle in his eye and for good measure one on his nose!

Close-ups to show the edge finish, facings do give a nice clean finish!

Yesterday I spent some time making half square triangle units for a monthly exchange for a group that I belong to. This month’s color is purple and since I still had fabrics off the shelves and the meeting is tomorrow night it seemed like a good idea! I was on a roll so did the next two months as well! It feels good to have those done and the fused top also, which I finished this morning.

I added some darker blue to the sky behind the white mountains, so they would show up better, but I don’t like it. We were supposed to put tulle over the finished top to hold everything together but I don’t like how that dulls it down. Here you can see the difference, with and without.

I removed the darker sky strips and replaced them with tulle and I like that better. It does the job of defining the mountains but is more ethereal. Some of the pieces are already coming loose so I went ahead and covered the whole surface with tulle.

Without the uncovered surface to compare to, I think it looks OK. Now that that is done I can finish putting fabric away and start thinking about the next project.  This one is to a point where I can put it away for now; it still needs to be layered with a backing and quilted.  I don’t think fused applique will ever replace my pieced work, but it was something different and I think I may fiinish it for an upcoming exhibit at the Topeka Art Guild about Travel, Near and Far.


Monday, October 3rd, 2011

I tried to get into my blog yesterday but I guess it was down for some reason.

I finished “Majesty”, 35.5 x 42″, last week and wanted to post the pictures! This is the first time that I have done a faced edge instead of a binding.

I am not sure about facings. I read that it gives a more “art” finish and less of a “quilt” finish. It does hang very nicely. It takes longer and there is more hand work because whereas when I do a binding I insert the raw edges of the sleeve under the binding and sew by machine, with the facing method I had to sew all of the sleeve edges by hand. All of the facing edges are hand sewn as well, just like a binding would be. We had the most gorgeous weather last week though, so I was able to sit outside for two afternoons and do the hand work.

It’s done except for hand sewing the twinkle in his eye – what you see here is the white head of a pin that I use to see where the stitches should go. I am pretty happy with the way it came out. There is a LOT of quilting on it!

Saturday I took a workshop with Patty Hawkins from Colorado through the Kansas Art Quilters; she has had many entries accepted to Quilt National, and the subject was landscape, so I thought it might be fun even though it was on raw edge bonded applique/collage which is not a method I enjoy. I was hoping to learn something, which of course I did! It’s always nice to just get away for a while and play. Here’s my start on a piece from a photo that I took on our Alaska trip.

I’m so lucky to have such a nice stash of “nature” type fabrics to work with! In fact I have so much fabric it is overflowing the space I have to store it so I was very happy last week to hear of a local group making clothing for Haiti that was in need of fabric. I boxed up two large boxes of calico type prints that don’t really work for me anymore in the type of work I do now.  They would have been quite expensive to ship somewhere, so I was really happy to have found some place local to take it. A win-win situation for both of us! And now most of what is left fits on the shelves!!

I was accepted to participate in “Seasonal Palette” an exhibit through Studio Art Quilt Associates which will debut in Houston next fall and travel for a year or so after that. Thirty-eight were accepted out of hundreds of entries. We each will make a piece that measures 32″ wide by 78″ high and my assigned season is winter. So, as I have been going through the fabrics for stuff to give away and stuff for the workshop, I have been pulling out possibilities for this new work. I am starting to feel excited about it and anxious to get started……


Day Fifteen

Monday, July 7th, 2008

This morning we are scheduled to take a riverboat tour that includes a few interesting stops along the way. The Riverboat Discovery is a sternwheeler captained by a family whose steamboating traditions go back five generations to the gold rush times. As transportation needs shifted with the times they transitioned to the excursion business that we enjoy today.

As we slowly move along the river we see the homes of the locals. There are some wonderful log homes and I am really surprised at how large some of them are and how much glass they have. I wouldn’t want to heat them with the price of fuel now! They are beautiful though.

We are introduced to an Alaskan Bush Pilot who talks to us from his plane ( there are monitors conveniently located so everyone can see and hear well), then he does a take off and landing from the water right beside the boat.

A little further on we see the home and kennels of the late Iditarod Champion, Susan Butcher and her husband and we hear about the dogs and see the team in action. They love what they do!

On down the river our clear water Chena flows into the glacier fed Tanana River and you can see the difference in the waters as they join. The glacial water is full of that fine glacial silt.

Our Bush Pilot is waiting on the sandbar to demonstrate landing on a small sandbar with a different airplane this time, one with wheels. Airplane is the only way in and out of so many places in Alaska and often there is not much space to maneuver! He has no problem!

Before long we stop to see some reindeer from a local reindeer farm. We hear that reindeer were a very important part of the Indian/Eskimo economy. These are shedding their winter coats.


Moving along, we come to Chena Indian Village a recreated Athabascan cultural experience. We see a fish wheel in motion and can see how it would scoop salmon from the river, and we see a demonstration of filleting and preparing a salmon to be smoked. It took about 5 seconds! We docked and went ashore for about an hour to explore the village and visit each of the main areas where native guides would talk and demonstrate features of the culture. It was extremely well done and interesting. There was also a more in-depth visit with the sled dog team, there.


The whole tour took about three and a half hours and when we were back at the landing we looked around the gift shop and grabbed a quick reindeer hotdog lunch before getting back on the bus to go to the afternoon’s adventure the gold mine!

The El Dorado Gold Mine was great fun! We rode the narrow-gauge train into the permafrost tunnel to learn about past underground mining methods and modern mining techniques. We saw demonstrations by local miners. While touring the present day working gold mine we met the couple who would introduce us to panning. She said she had come to Alaska as young woman to look for gold and he said “That ain’t ALL she was alookin’ for!” She said, ” Well, he did have some mighty fine nuggets!” and it went on from there!! They showed us how the huge pile of dirt and rocks gets dumped into the wooden sluice and water washes down and starts the separartion process. After a demonstration on how to “pan” we each get a “poke” of the concentrate from the sluice and we try our hand at striking it rich. We are guaranteed at least 8 pieces of gold or we get a new “poke”. I stopped counting at 12 pieces and when it was all over I had about 3.5 grams. Charlie’s and mine together was about 6 grams and we had it put into a little gold and clear locket for posterity.

On the way back to the Lodge, we stopped at the Alaska Pipeline which is 800 miles long; 420 miles of it above the surface because of the permafrost but 380 miles of it is buried where there is stable bedrock. It is high enough to not impede the migration of the caribou.


Currently about a million barrels of oil per day are transported through the system which has a max daily capacity of 2.1 million barrels. The pipe’s diameter is 48″.


This was a full day and we are tired. We re-distribute our stuff and re-pack our suitcases and hope we are not overweight for the flight home tomorrow!

Day Fourteen

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

This morning we have a Natural History Tour at Denali National Park. The park has 90 miles of road and only 15 of them are open to private vehicles. We will be on a bus so we can go beyond that checkpoint into the restricted areas. Of course we are hoping to see animals but the guide reminds us this is not a zoo. Animals prefer to stay away from roads and this park has six million acres for them to hide in. It’s vast – there are probably animals right there that we can’t see.
Along the way we do see caribou, ptarmigan, marmot, ground squirrels, snow geese, snowshoe hares and dahl sheep.


Most animals are so far away it’s hard to get good photos. There were at least two caribou here but they were too far apart to get them both in the closeup shot.


But this hare was not shy! Look at those feet!


The snow geese were also unconcerned.


We saw quite a few small herds of dahl sheep but they were FAR away. Without the binocular camera I would not have been able to get even this good of a shot!

The scenery is amazing, just awesome!


There is a lookout where McKinley would be visible if it were visible, but it’s not. I hardly expect it anymore! It is so big at 20,320 feet, it makes it’s own weather and is only visible 20% of the time, They don’t really tell you that before you get there!

In the six hours we were out, we had a few short rain showers but they stopped as quickly as they came and hardly interrupted the tour at all.

Back at the entrance we opt to get off the bus and walk to the train station since our luggage has already been picked up. After a short visit to the visitor’s center to see the displays, book store and cafeteria, be walk across the road to the train station to wait for the train to Fairbanks, our last stop before flying home.

We are again in the Princess UltraDome cars with great views for the ride that lasts a little over 4 hours so we took advantage of the opportunity to have dinner in the dining car – very good!


More great scenery, this is a view down from one of the high trestles. Scary, but it’s gone before you know it!

Our bus driver meets our train and entertains us with stories of her drive to Alaska all by herself and about life in Fairbanks. We learn that it is an arctic desert with only, I believe, 16 inches of moisture per year. This along with early gold miners polluting the waters with arsenic, results in water problems for the area. She and almost everyone else who lives outside the city limits do not have running water and live in what they call dry cabins. They have to haul water and go to the Y or to the Laundromat to shower! Yes! The Laundromat! It’s $4.00 at the Y and less at the Laundromat, so she goes to the laundromat, but not every day because she is poor. I think she was angling for better tips!  We checked into the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge for the next two nights. We have a shower.

Day Thirteen

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

A lazy morning, checked email, checked the mountain (still not out), checked the Ranger programs (nothing early) so I checked out the gift shop. We’ve seen a lot of gift shops on this trip and this one is not too bad! I found a jigsaw puzzle I had not seen anywhere else that I liked; actually there were two by the artist, Terry Lee, that I liked but I settled for the bear instead of the moose. I love his impressionistic style, bold brush strokes and unexpected colors. I used to LOVE to do puzzles before quilting took all of my time and the little I did on the ship reminded me that I should MAKE time for the other things I enjoy. I’ve tried not to make many purchases on this trip because our bags are very close to the weight limit already but the puzzle is light.


One last sculpture from McKinley, before we go.

Right after lunch we board the bus for Denali, the ride takes over two hours but it goes quickly as the bus driver and the scenery keeps us entertained.


We have activities scheduled for later, a horseback ride for me and an ATV adventure for my husband. It’s cool and overcast and we hope it doesn’t rain.

The Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge is a bit of a disappointment after the last one. It’s nice, but just doesn’t quite have the ambiance we enjoyed at McKinley. It seems more like a big hotel, more commercial. Maybe it’s the highway going by the front lined with tourist dives and eateries on the other side. On the back side it looks better; there’s a river and view of Mt Healy with a short paved riverside trail.

There’s another short bus ride to the stable where my horse awaits, and the three other ladies and I get acquainted. We have all ridden before, that’s good. For me it’s been quite awhile, nearly 20 years! My horse is a nice little bay called “Stumpy”. Not unexpectedly the saddle is western. I prefer English and the stiff stirrup leathers pull uncomfortably on my bad knee. We head out across terrain that goes from taiga to tundra.


Taiga supports stunted tree growth – those little trees are probably 200 years old! – while tundra is only small shrubby bushes, plants and lichen. It’s all permafrost area so the ground is permanently frozen, but since it is summer the top foot or so is thawed. The horses sink into the mud with every step. Undisturbed ground that looks fairly dry is very wet below the surface. It’s a fragile alpine ecosystem and we stay on the trails. You can see the land is criss-crossed with caribou trails and we use some of those. Stumpy and one of the other horses are having a feud so we have to keep them separated. We come across the state bird, a willow ptarmigan with her chicks and the guide talks about the plants and animals of the area. My knee is screaming and since Stumpy seems pretty steady I finish the ride without stirrups, hoping not to be dumped in the mud and thankful that it is only for an hour! But it is nice to see the area up close like that and I’m glad I did it! The rain held off. We’ve been so lucky!

Back at the lodge I have time to relax before Charlie returns from his ATV adventure, so I have a nice visit with a lady who is waiting to go on HER horseback ride. My knee is feeling all better so I check email and head back to the room to get ready for dinner. This lodge has a Pizza place, and since we have not had that we go there and have Calzones which were quite good AND a bargain compared to the other options. These lodges do have good food, but it is expensive! Charlie tells me all about his adventure and I am happy that he had such a good time!