Thursday, July 8, 2021

I like #220

 Welcome to another week of things I like!

I like seeing my friends!  I had wonderful get togethers with three different sets of friends this week and it was so wonderful to see them all.  Really delightful.  I did discover that I am very (very) bad at croquet, but the game was fun all the same!

Spooky is still his beloved self.  This week he has taken to eating all the parts of the pumpkin plant that have grown through the fence onto the back porch.  I keep coming upon him chewing up giant trailing stems of it- I think he likes the crunchy stem bits.  I always take it away, but then he goes and gets some more.  Pretty soon there won't be any left on the porch, so I guess it's self-limiting, but it's too bad, and now there are small pieces of pumpkin leaves all over the place.

And on that same topic, I loved this meme that one of our local quilt stores shared on instagram.  Given my love of illuminated manuscripts and the current residents of my household (ahem, Spooky) it seemed super fitting and really funny.  The header reads "Give me back my quilt! Bad doggie!!

I love my plants!  My baby pumpkins are getting a little bigger (Spooky's efforts notwithstanding), and I've been cutting more flower to take inside.  I love the effect of those long purple flowers.  I think they're Texas lilac, and my neighbors have a huge giant tree/bush of them that always invades my yard.  It's kind of annoying because they don't prune it and it pushes on the fence, but it is very beautiful and I don't feel bad about cutting the bits that hang over into my yard.  They add a nice linear shape to my flower arrangements to complement the very round dahlias and zinnias.

I love getting started on something new.  I spent a couple of days this weekend on a new sewing project, namely making a little over 200 of these fabric covered spikes.  They're for a new quilt project, I'm not sure exactly what yet, but I'm sure it'll be interesting.  I love seeing them all piled up!

Poor Blue has an aural hematoma, his ear has this giant blood blister on it and he has to go to the vet tomorrow.  He doesn't seem too bothered, I just hope it doesn't get worse today.

I love toads!  This poor guy hopped into my studio the other day and got behind one of my work benches.  Luckily I was able to extract him and safely return him to the outdoors.

I'm super excited that there is an article about my quilts in the upcoming issue of Patchwork Professional, a European Quilting magazine.

Right now they're doing a contest to pick the cover quilt for the next issue.  If you're on instagram, go over to the post below and vote for quilt A, and maybe my quilt will get to be on the cover!

I hope everyone is having a good week!  Click over to LeeAnna's for more things to like! 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

I Like #219

 Welcome to another week of things to like.  It's been raining and raining here which has prevented the temperatures from getting too hot, although it's very muggy.  Such unseasonable weather here is very weird, but my plants and flowers are glad of the the rain.  My floors, not so much.  So much rain means gallons of mud in the house.

The pumpkin plant is getting bigger and bigger every minute.  I hope the pumpkins will mature.  The first dahlias fully bloomed this week.  I have two varieties blooming right now, these perfect ball dahlias (I think they are the Maarn variety), and one Alauna Clair-Obscur dahlia (it's the purple one Spooky is sniffing).  I also planted a bunch of dinnerplate dahlias and I'm not sure if any of them grew at all (so many of my dahlias never came up this year), but I have three-ish plants that haven't bloomed yet so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at least one of them is one of the dinner plates.

I made my first cut flower bouquet this week- I'm terrible at arranging but I love having some flowers inside!

Spooky the loaf.  He sits on my lap like this and although it's nice when he occasionally sits the other way so I get the head-end, when he is the other way he just bothers Bentley to death, so this is preferable when we're all sitting together.

Michael is one of my very dear friends and he is visiting this week from Massachusetts!  I'm so glad to get to spend some time with him this week!

I have to cherry tomato plants and they're both thriving.  I got a few regular red cherry tomatoes off one of them but the tomatoes from the other bush never turned red.  I finally realized (doh) that they're just yellow tomatoes.  I ate a bunch of them with my dinner last night, so tasty!

When I was in New Mexico over Thanskgiving last year I harvested some new cactus fruits to try to grow from seed.  I planted them a couple of months ago and at first all that sprouted were these little weedy looking things that looked like a stem with two leaves.  They weren't cactus like at all, and weren't like the barrel cacti I'd previously started from seed, so I figured what had sprouted was just weeds and that the cactus seeds weren't any good.  But I left them there (more out of laziness than anything), and when I looked at them yesterday, a bunch of them had sprouted cactus bits out of the top of the leaves!  So exciting!

Spooky chewed a hole in the last intact dog bed yesterday and spent lots of joyful time burrowing in it last night.  Sigh.

And finally, I blogged about my rainbow armadillo quilt this week!  There were three posts, please click through to read about him!!

Click over to LeeAnna's for more fantastic things to like!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Armadillo and the Cow-finished

 Earlier this week (here and here) I shared some in process pictures and the story behind my latest art quilt, The Armadillo and the Cow.  I'm back today to share pictures of the final piece.

The Armadillo and the Cow.  c. Shannon Conley, 2021, 35"h x 49"w, Photo Mike Cox

The edges are finished with couched bright pink chenille yarn, and I love the festive feel of the brightly colored trim.  All the pink trim and pink/black doilies came from my trim and lace collection.  The little bright pink bits along the top were remnants from the vintage doilies I used to cover the head and legs.  The green trim is some that was in my stash from Georgia (thanks Georgia!) which I think she dyed a long time ago.  

The rubber stoppers were sewn on with sparkly Ricky Tims Razzle Dazzle thread, so you can see them sparkle if you look from the side.  The quilting was tricky since you only get one shot when quilting through thick paper, but the rainbow thread really makes me smile.

His head is mounted on a wire, so while not really a true bobble head, it does bounce if you bop him on the nose.  I adjusted his eye a little to make it look like he's glaring a bit suspiciously at the cow.  Like he can't quite tell whether she is having more fun than he is.

When you look at the side view you can see the dimension a little more.  The armadillo body is held on with magnets so it can easily be removed if I need to work on the background.  It protrudes about 4-5 inches from the background.  The cow is mounted on springs about 1.5" from the background, so she boings nicely if you tickle her.

I love how this turned out.  I'm still working on a hidden frame for it (mounted to the back to provide support), but it just makes me happy to see it on my design wall.  I'm still trying to think of a name for the armadillo and the cow, so feel free to leave any suggestions in the comment box!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Important message for those who read by email

 Hi friends,  unfortunately the service that blogger used to use to send new posts to people by email is no longer working as of 06/30/2021.  I have a new follow-by-email option, but you have to go to the blog to sign up.  It's quick and easy but I couldn't figure out how to migrate everyone automatically. 

If you like getting posts in your email, go to the blog here: and type your email into the box on the right sidebar that says "get new posts by email".  

I hope you'll continue to follow along and thanks for being here all these years!

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Cow part of the Armadillo and the Cow

 I blogged earlier this week about my rainbow armadillo, and I'm back today to share about the next phase of this project.  The rainbow armadillo would be lonely without his cow friend.  But of course she was always going to be smaller than him.  Poor cow friend!

To give her a little depth I made her out of two layers of fabric covered EVA foam and then hand stitched on more vintage painted doily.  She was supposed to look like just a black and white cow, but the laciness of the doily makes it feel like she's wearing jelly shoes and a black veil over her face.  I think she must be a very fashionable cow?  Her tail is made from some small bits of alpaca yarn which somehow seemed fitting.  It's a bit hard to see in the pictures, but she has a cute dimensional ear, a horn made out of a pretty black glass bead, and a beaded eye.  Sweet cow!

Both the cow and the armadillo needed a background to live on, and early on in the process I decided to use recycled light and electron microscopy images for the background.  I'm not sure why, but sometimes you get an idea and just have to run with it.

The images are old printouts from the days before we had good digital cameras, so they're on stiff shiny photopaper.  The ones on the bottom are light micrographs of the mouse retina.  Some are from blind mice and some from normal mice.  The ones in the top half are electron micrographs with labeling for specific retinal proteins.  I have folders and folders of them from old lab studies.  I think they're super cool, but we don't have any use for them at work anymore (and I have digital scans of them anyway).  The background is black felt with a layer of peltex in the middle.  It was pretty stiff to quilt (between the peltex and the thick photopaper) but I knew I'd need a stiff background since the armadillo and cow would be protruding forward off the front.  Even with the stiff background, the whole final quilt is going to have to mount to a backing board I think.

As I started mocking things up on the wall, it became evident that even with the rainbow explosion of armadillo, the whole thing was way too black and white.  I started brainstorming ways to add more color and contrast. I settled on three approaches.  First, I dug out some more vintage doilies and trims I painted, you can see the results of that effort in the final post.  Second, I decided to cut away the pictures from around the armadillo and cow so there would be black around each one to give your eye  a little place to rest.  Finally, I decided to stitch on a brightly colored border made out of rubber stoppers.  We recently moved labs and I discovered a drawer full of hundreds of black rubber stoppers, more than our lab could use in three lifetimes.  Inspired by my friend Susan Lenz who has a fantastic series of mandalas featuring stitched found objects, I thought why not sew on the stoppers.  Conveniently, I had a whole bunch that already had two holes in them, so I brought them home and painted them!

This project involved a lot of pinning up and taking down and seeing how things looked.  My studio was an absolute explosion of disaster during this project.  Little bits and bobs and pieces of stuff and paint were everywhere, but it was so fun to work on.  Come back later this week to see the final quilt!

Friday, June 25, 2021

New Quilt- The Armadillo and the Cow

 When SAQA put out a call for entry called "Fur, Fangs, Feathers, and Fins" I knew I'd have to make an armadillo quilt.  I love armadillos, but my family still tease me about them.  We didn't have armadillos where I grew up, and the first one I saw in real life was driving back from my sister's college graduation.  I lived in Arizona at the time where I was going to grad school, but my sister had been going to college in Texas where armadillos are native.  We passed a dead one on the side of the road, and I made a comment about the poor dead baby armadillo.  My sister told me it was a normal adult armadillo and I haughtily told her that no, armadillos were about the size of cows.  I was very very sure and everyone was completely making fun of me.  Of course now I live in Oklahoma where there are armadillos all over the place, but I've always thought they were cool (if smaller than I once envisioned).

The first armadillo and cow quilt was made for me by my mom. I had a fun cow t-shirt when I was a teenager, and when it got too worn to wear she made a super cute mini-quilt for me out of it, making sure to stitch on a few little armadillo buttons.

I decided my armadillo would be large and rainbow, and started brainstorming about how to make him.  I decided to use plastic milk jugs and cherry tomato containers for the scales, so I started cutting things up and spray painting them.  I wound up making two batches of each size- I feel like this sort of thing always takes more pieces than you think.

The papers where I painted them were almost as pretty as the scales!

After I painted them, I started stitching them down to stuffed forms I made (for the head and tail) or to fabric-covered EVA foam body pieces.

Before stitching scales on the top, the head was covered in pieces of vintage doilies I'd painted pink.  I really enjoyed using a lot of recycled/reused materials in this project.  I'm not sure where all the vintage doilies came from, though I know some have been given to me by friends over the years, but I love the lacy vibe and texture they give.

Here's the overspray paper from painting some of the doilies.  I have to figure out something to do with these.

I really enjoyed all the hand stitching in this project.

I was so excited about how even this much looked, but he did look kind of funny without any ears or feet.

The feet are made to match the head (they subsequently had scale bits stitchedon) and I made claws out of gold and purple sparkle fimo clay.

Here he is with all his parts pinned to my design board.  The ears help a lot (!)

Come back later this week for more armadillo quilt goodness!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

I Like #218

 Welcome to another week of things to like!

It's definitely hot summer here now, but I'm watering regularly and my plants are hanging in there.  While mowing this week I came across definite confirmation of the fate of my beautiful new hand knit sock.  This is all that is left of it after Spooky's intervention.  Sigh.

It's a good thing he's so cute.  At least here he has a dog toy.  It's two-thirds chewed up, and I have to constantly fish as many little bits out of his mouth as possible when he gets them off the toy. 

Blue and Bentley are good too- here's Blue being a sweet doofus.

I really like this blooming tree we see while walking in my neighborhood.  I'm not sure what it is, but it's leaves are sort of frondy, and it's covered in these lovely pink furry flowers.  So cool looking!

I got this fun Star Wars fabric earlier this year to make some masks out of, and unfortunately I lost mine, but I still had some of the fabric left so this weekend I used it to make a new sunglasses case and key chain, both of my previous ones having worn out.  It makes me happy to see in my purse!

The pumpkin plant is growing voraciously,  it is still covered with flowers, and yesterday I saw what might be the first baby pumpkin.  Having overgrown the entire garden patch, it has now creeped through the fence and is growing on the porch.  It's astonishing to me how fast it is growing.

I blogged this week about a new quilt based on my Grandpa's lab notebook.  It was a very special project to me and you can read more about it and see more pictures here, and here!

I hope you are having a good week!  Click over to LeeAnna's for more things to like!