Thursday, February 28, 2019

I Like #104

Welcome to two years of I like posts!  It's hard to believe it, but this marks 2 years (or at least 104 weeks) of posting.  I've missed a couple, but really not very many.  It feels great to me-  I'm not much of a journaler, but I think this is sort of turning into one.

1.  You guys!!  My cactus seeds are sprouting!  I'm so super excited.  I hope they will keep growing!  These are the ones I harvested from a barrel cactus fruit my dad picked while we were hiking out in Arizona.  I have lots more seeds and was going to plant them every few months to see when they grew best, but I'm just happy a few from the first batch sprouted.  Now I think I have to be careful not to over-parent them.

2. The pups are so fun.  Bentley managed to get the chair before Blue a few times this week, and I thought he looked cute all twirled up.  My sweet!  Blue and I are doing well in reactive dog class,  we had another real dog there last week and he was so much calmer on the leash than in the past, mostly I think because I had a handful of ham, but it was certainly progress.

3.  I started a new commission this weekend, it's a banner for my sister's children's Montessori school.  Unfortunately, I realized after spending all afternoon piecing the border that I forgot to reverse the color placement.  The border is a liturgical calendar, and now it goes counter-clockwise instead of clockwise.  I was so angry, I'd used up several of my last bits of good silk.  There wasn't any way to pick it out or anything because of the shape of the pieces, but after calming down, my mom offered to send me some of her green silks, and now I'm starting over.  In the end it will be ok,  I'll use the backwards one in a quilt of my own, and I know some things I want to do differently this next time (in addition to piecing it the right direction).  

I actually think that using some of the greens my mom sent, which are brighter more liturgical-ordinary-time greens than some of the sagey ones I had will be better anyway.

4.  It's been cold and icy here lately, but I did get to go unexpectedly to the Ballet last weekend.  I don't usually go to the ballet, but a friend had a last minute extra ticket (for really good seats), so I went with her.  It was lovely,  they did La Sylphide which was very visually striking, but kind of a weird story.

I hope all of you are staying warm and having a good week!  Click over to LeeAnna's for good things to like!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I Like #103

Welcome to another week of positive thinking!

My sister and the kids came up this weekend and we had a really wonderful weekend.   The kids read me stories and I read to them and we made Gelli plates and did gelli printing.  I'd never done it before and it was really fun.  My nephew Alex, who generally is less crafty, was super excited about painting on jello and Anna enjoyed it too.  Becky and I made a few prints as well, mostly on paper, but I printed a couple on canvas.  It was partly an experiment for me to see how it went in anticipation of maybe doing some printing on fabric for my quilts.  It takes a lot of jello, but worked fairly well.  We just used plain acrylic or latex paint since that was what I had.  The kids drew in the paint with the end of a paintbrush or made prints with little rings and screws and other doodads.  Anna learned about having to make her text backwards and it was all-in-all pretty fun.

Anna wanted to take a picture with Blue, but he kept squirming so we never got one with everyone's face in focus!

Later in the afternoon/evening Becky and I got out a big 1000 piece disney character puzzle and worked on that.  It was relaxing, a perfect activity for a dark winter night and fun to try to figure out which pieces went with which characters.  Unfortunately somewhere along the way we lost a piece of Trusty (the hound from Lady and the Tramp but at least he was brown so the hole blended in with the table a bit.

Blue and I had another lesson last week,  it went really well, but then this week he pulled down the bag of dog treats and two pottery bowls and ate/broke them.  I guess that's more my fault than his, clearly I need to push things farther back on the countertop.  Such a love!

And, this year's valentine's block from my mom finally arrived in the mail!  I love receiving these and it arrived so much later than my sister's I was afraid it was lost in the mail.  Love you mom!!!

And finally,  I blogged about my finished invasive species quilt.  Keep your fingers crossed it gets into the show I made it for, and click on over to see more about it.

Hope you all had a good week!  Click on over to LeeAnna's to see more things to be thankful for!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Finished Quilt: Invasive Species

Last week I shared how I got started on my invasive species quilt for the SAQA show Connecting Our Natural Worlds. Click here to read more about it! I got it finished just in time for the show entry deadline, and of course I have no idea whether it will get in, but at least it got entered!

Invasive species are something that have been in the back of my mind for many years.  In middle Tennessee where I went to college kudzu is an obnoxious problem, growing freely and readily over everything in its path.  Similarly, ice plant is an awful problem in many parts of California, especially the Monterey coast where it escapes from gardens and flourishes on the beach dunes, competing out all the dune grasses and native biodiversity.  Alas, neither of those are particularly problematic in the Great Plains, but we have plenty of invasive species of our own. 

The quilt features the following insects, plants, and animals that are considered invasive in the Great Plains: 
eastern red cedar 
European starling 
southern pine beetle
grass carp
red imported fire ant
parrot's feather (an obnoxious aquatic plant)
yellow sweet clover

Invasive Species, c. Shannon Conley 2019 50x31" Photo: Mike Cox

Invasive Species, c. Shannon Conley 2019 50x31" Photo: Mike Cox

Invasive Species, c. Shannon Conley 2019 50x31" Photo: Mike Cox

Invasive Species, c. Shannon Conley 2019 50x31" Photo: Mike Cox

Invasive Species, c. Shannon Conley 2019 50x31" Photo: Mike Cox

And the artist statement:
I live in the southern Great Plains, an ecosystem that stretches throughout the central United States and into Canada. One of the biggest threats to native species and ecosystems in this area is invasive species. They arrive, usually due to human inadvertence, and then flourish, ruining habitat, competing for resources, and damaging native plants and wildlife. As people who love being outdoors, it is our responsibility to take care we are not transferring or enhancing the effects of invasive species. They spread through poorly cleaned watersports equipment, shoes and clothes from hikers, and escape from gardens and yards, among other ways. Educate yourselves on invasive species in your area and what you can do to prevent their spread. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing this piece!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

I Like #102

Welcome to another week of things to like! 

1.  Happy Valentine's day to everyone!  I'm not much of a valentine's day person, but I love making cards for my family.  This year they featured googly eyes and a variety of happy monster people.

2.  Blue and I were out practicing in the backyard when the weekly tornado siren test started.  Blue's usually not much of a barker but he and Bentley both like to yowl at the tornado siren.  And then I snapped a picture of them on the sofa later in the day, so symmetrical!  My friend Tristan said they looked like pillows!

3.  Saturday night my friend Liz hosted a party/fundraiser for an orphanage in Uganda, and we had a lot of fun.  We had a guest musician who had a gorgeous voice.  She played the ukelele and sang, both covers and original songs.  It was lovely.  Unfortunately, all I can remember was that her name was Juniper which is not really helpful.  Then another lady led a Beatles sing-along which was a blast.

4.  On Sunday I took flowers and communion to some people after church and one of the nursing homes I visited had pet birds.  I though this little guy was so cute and colorful!  I'm starting to get a few birds back at my feeders, but they don't sit still to have their pictures taken.

5. It's still grey and chilly here, but one of my houseplants has started making these tiny little yellow flowers!  I'm not sure what it is, but it came from my mom and any patch of  living color makes me happy this time of year!

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

New Quilt: Invasive Species

There has been a call for entry from national SAQA called Connecting Our Natural Worlds.  The theme was endangered species, which ones live near you, and how can you protect them.  It premieres next fall at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, a place I've always loved.  Then the fall got away from me, and I didn't really think I'd have time to do anything.  However over the Christmas holiday we were out in Tucson and visited the Desert Museum (for the first time since I moved away from Tucson over 14 years ago), and I fell in love with it all over again.  I decided I had to make a quilt for this show, even if I didn't get in.

I started researching endangered species in the area where I live.  Oklahoma is part of the Great Plains, a huge ecosystem the stretches throughout the center of the US and Canada.  There are several endangered species, including species of bat, fish, and freshwater clam, among others, but none that just jumped out as being something I felt compelled to make a quilt about.  I did notice however, that in many cases, they were endangered because of the onslaught of various invasive species that destroy habitat or out-compete native species.  Aquatic invasive species are particularly problematic; water sports including fishing and boating are very popular here and it's so easy to transfer invasive critters from one body of water to another if you're not careful.

It was interesting researching invasive species, trying to find thorough records was more challenging than I thought.  While some species are ones everyone would agree are invasive (I'm looking at you pine beetles,white nose-bat fungus, and nasty giant fire ants) others are things that many people love to use as ground cover or in gardens.  All the same, when they escape, they can cause substantial damage to the surrounding ecosystem!  I chose several different species and designed a simplified Mandala style quilt, similar to these I have done before.

My background fabric was a pale ivory polyester satin, and I made all my animals out of other interesting fabrics, velvet, faux suede, and other shiny fabrics.   Of course I was working on a January 31st deadline, and then both my good sewing machines broke so I had to borrow a sewing machine from my friend Melody (thanks Melody!!!).    Here are a few in process pictures!

Piles of cut out pieces!

I quilted it with 100 weight silk thread, and the shiny surface of the fabric means there's lots of visible texture.

Check back next week to see the finished quilt!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

I Like #101

It's Thursday again which means another week of things to like.  It's been grey and overcast (and today very very cold an icy), but I did get to spend all day Saturday outside which was a real treat.    So a few things to like:

1.  I like cleaning up and out!  This time of year lots of people get on this bandwagon, and I've been doing some cleaning out at home, but mostly this weekend my friend and I did it at church.  We have one large dedicated closet for youth group supplies, 12th night costumes and Christmas pageant costumes and it has been bursting at the seams for the past several years with so much junk that no one could even find all the things we had for those events.  I think part of the reason junk accumulates so much there is because everyone thinks the stuff might belong to one of the other groups, but so much of it doesn't!  This past Sunday my friend Elizabeth and I bit the bullet and cleaned out the closet.  We filled my car up twice with garbage and now the closet is really delightful.  Things don't fall on you when you open the door and everything is easy to see and find.  So gratifying. 

2. I like my plants!  This weekend planted some horseshoe cactus seeds harvested from some cactus fruit my dad picked up in the desert in January, and I hope it sprouts!  I've never grown cactus from seed so we'll see if I'm successful.  Nothing is blooming right now, but many of my indoor plants are flourishing including this one at work that my friend gave me when she moved.  Hooray for greenery and photosynthesis.

3.  I like unexpected projects!  I'm participating in the cotton robin swap again this year, and I thought I'd dig out some old experiment to make my center block.  In digging through old drawers I found a bunch of six inch blocks I'd cyanotyped several years ago.  You can read all about it here. Anyway,  the process was fun but I never did anything with any of the blocks except one which I turned into my SAQA donation quilt for 2013.  So when I found the remaining blocks (there were six or seven), I thought one would make a great center for my cotton robin block.  So I pieced this up, but then decided I liked it so much that I wanted to do something with all the blocks, so I just kept piecing. Here are a few in progress shots but I now have a whole small wall quilt pieced and ready to quilt!  It was a fun an unexpected project and I'm so happy to be using these printed blocks!  I should do some more of these, it's a fun way to use photos from trips. 

4. And speaking of SAQA donation quilts, this week I blogged about my 2019 donation quilt.  We had to submit them early because our kind regional SAQA reps have organized shows for them prior to shipping them off to SAQA.  Here's a sneak peek, for more, click over to this post!

5.  Of course I love my pups!  They're doing fine, loving the snuggles and ball playing.

I hope everyone had a good week!  Click on over to LeeAnna who keeps us all going!

Friday, February 1, 2019

2019 12x12 donation quilt

Every year I make a 12"x12" quilt to donate to the SAQA auction.  It's a great fundraiser and always fun to make something a little bit fun and different.  The auction isn't until September but the quilts are due in the early summer, and recently our SAQA region has been organizing exhibitions of these small quilts before their submitted to SAQA.  It's a wonderful thing since it means they get to be seen some before being purchased in the auction.  Since we're having these early exhibitions though, we had to send our pieces to the regional rep by the middle of January, so this year's 12x12 turned out to be the first quilt of the year for me.

I started with a piece of black velvet, did some shiva paintsticks and painting to add color, and then some bright thread free-motion quilting.  It's called Winter 2019 and is balloons or abstract flowers or something joyful.  I was feeling oddly motivated and hopeful about 2019 when I made it so for me it's a happy project!  The edge is finished with couched rainbow yarn which saved me the dreaded facing.  I've found that it's hard to get facing corners to come out square when the quilt uses bulky fabrics like velvet, and abnormalities in the corners are much magnified when the whole quilt is only 12 inches square, so it's nice to have an alternative finishing method.

It was fun to do something a bit different and smaller scale.  The piece is hanging at the Stiles Gallery in Westwood Kansas for the month of February, so if you happen to be in the area, go by and check out all the great small works!