Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Flowers

We live entirely off the grid. We have a solar system for our electricity and we collect rain water and snow melt into two cisterns. That means, a couple times a year we don't have a lot of water. We would love to have a garden full of vegetables and have flowers surrounding the house. However, without an abundance of water, it just doesn't work.

So, every summer I buy a few flowers and plant them in pots for the one corner of our porch that receives afternoon sun. This year I did something a little different.

One of the things that drew The Fisherman and me to each other was our common love for wheel thrown pottery. I fell in love with the potter's wheel in college while The Fisherman fell in love with it in high school. It was a simple conversation one day after church about "throwing pots" that opened the door for our first date.

After we were married we took a couple classes at the local community college because we didn't have a place to throw, not having our own wheel, kiln, or studio. The Fisherman always made me jealous because he could throw these big huge pots out of 25 pounds of clay. I could never throw more than 4 or 5 pounds, and that was really pushing it. During our classes, he made these really nice pots perfect for flowers. But the semester ended before he could put them through the second (or glaze) firing. They were only bisque fired. We brought them to the woods with us when we moved, always hoping to find someplace to glaze and fire them.

Meanwhile, bisque fired pottery isn't all that strong. It's very porous because it's not fired at a very high temperature. Over the years, these pots have weakened and eventually broke. When planting my flowers this summer, I came across some of the pieces and had a fun idea.

I took one curved piece, packed it with soil, and walled up the sides with broken branches.

Watering it is a bit of a nuisance since all the water wants to leak out through the sides. My hope to pack the soil and branches tightly enough to prevent this simply didn't work. So I have to trickle water in at both ends where there are two little depressions. But I sure like the way it looks, even with the oops drops of brown stain from when The Fisherman re-stained the front porch.

I especially like the bent branch at the top of this side.

However, the flowers were much more photogenic on the other side. Plus, the lip of the pot is on that side, which I also really like.

I really like this little broken-pot flower pot.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quilt Back Done!

I finished the backing piece for my first real quilt. I finished it about 10 days ago but it's been so darn windy here that I haven't been able to hang it on the clothes line for a photo. Today was better so at last here it is.

In my last post I mentioned that I used a fabric that had the look and colors I originally wanted for the top. It doesn't show quite true in these photos but there is more of an overall aqua tone to this fabric. If you had a can of light turquoise paint, to get the color I'm talking about I'd tell you to add just a touch more pale green to it. That's aqua. And it was nowhere to be found when I shopped for the many different fabrics I needed for the top. There were only true turquoises and teals, and most of the purples were dark. I used what was available and, though I do love it, I ended up with a much more vibrant and contrasting quilt top than I originally intended. I hadn't intended it to be so, shall we say, loud as it is. I had a much more subtle look in mind.

Since the quilt top was nearly finished when I found this fabric,  I knew I had to make it my backing fabric. Since I loved it so much I decided to do a little something special on the back as well. So I pieced a frame around it with some purple fabrics, just to add a little interest.

In the photo below, if you look carefully, you can see where I had to piece together the solid inner piece as well. Look along the top edge of the photo about 1/3 way across from the left and you'll see a sudden change from a plain turquoise section to a purple flower. Overall, you can hardly notice.

The frame on the back (two 1-inch strips) is supposed to line up with the frame on the front (one 2-inch strip).  The outer border on this backing is larger now than it will be in the end. You're supposed to make the backing bigger than the top for the final quilting project. When finished it will look more like this:

The darker purple strip is the same fabric I've decided to use for the binding. The binding creates a nice folded edging all around the quilt.

The reason for making the quilt bottom larger than the top during the quilting process is probably to allow for creeping...something that I can't have happen now that I've designed it so the frames need to line up. I want my quilting pattern, which is designed for the front, to also work for the back. 

I already know that it's not going to be perfect. I did a test layout on the floor and was disappointed to find I am a smidge off. I will have to be very careful when laying it out. And very diligent with basting it together so it will withstand the amount of handling it will experience while I do the actual quilting over the next, several months. (At least I hope it's only going to be months, rather than years!) With great care I'm hoping my circle quilting from the front will not spill over into the framing on the back. But I think it will.

I'll just have to be OK with that.

By then I will simply be amazed and pleased to have completed a full-blown, honest to goodness, bona fide quilt!  Yea!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Snow

Just like last year, winter seemed reluctant to depart the mountain. With one final grandstand, it brought us snow on May 9th.

It was almost dusk when I came home to discover what appeared to have been almost three inches of snowfall. Last year it was May 2nd. This year May 9th. Crazy Arizona weather.