Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mosaic Yard Art

When I purchased a ceramic birdbath from the second hand store a few years ago, my intention was to mosaic the bowl and the detachable base unit.  However, an unforeseen mishap occurred in which the base shattered beyond redemption.  I may recycle the pieces into something artsy on down the road, however, my priority was providing the birds fresh water and enjoying the bathing entertainment a deck side basin provides.  After several clear coats of spray ceramic glaze, I'm well pleased with the results.  Side note: Water resting in the bird bath caused the spray glaze coat to lift off the shiny glass and ceramic pieces. A strong rinsing from the water hose knocked off the loose coating.  The grout remains sealed and waterproof.

In my exuberance, I purchased 7 used bowling balls to recycle into mosaic gazing balls.  This third one was an experiment using the grommets from upholstery fabric samples.  Indoor/Outdoor Clear Silicone II adhesive requires a longer setting time before grouting but the adhesive's flexibility is best suited for outdoor temperature changes and waterproofing.  An entire tube of blue acrylic paint was added to the grout for color and weatherproofing.

Originally I'd planned to grout the ball in black but I'd mixed up too much blue for the birdbath and couldn't see wasting the excess.  Actually, the two projects look great displayed together using the tall plant stand pictured below.  I might use the short leaf stand for indoor winter display.

Last summer we had two robin families sharing the water rights on our deck.  What a fun source of natural entertainment to view fledglings bathing for the first time.  I just hope my jazzed up birdbath appeals to my feathered friends as much as it does me.

Maggie and I are enjoying the best of summer on our deck.  The added color is a real plus.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gardening Progress

Before the Forget-me-knot and Globe Trollius faded, I wanted to document their striking display of blue and yellow.

Our Norland Apple was gangly and difficult to harvest so hubby and I pruned it excessively last Fall.  I'm happy with less apples this year to deal with.
This over sized Lobelia basket looks great on the urn.  My bird bath broke so I'm using the dish to fill the urns hole, which the basket rests on. Lemons into lemonade as the saying goes...
Salmon colored Diascia plays beautifully against the purples of Heliotrope and Brachycome.  This planter will be overflowing with flowers soon.
  On occasion I get a brainstorm. My broken fountain made an interesting planter. I filled the bottom with rocks for some needed drainage before adding soil and plants. If it dries out too frequently, I'll move it to a shady location. I'm anxious to see how this fills in. The Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia) was wintered indoors by the dining window, but this Fall I will transplant this perennial in a permanent bed, since my other Jenny's wintered outside successfully.
Moving onto the front deck...
My 3-tiered urns are filling in nicely with more Brachycome, red Verbena and yellow bidens and the window box will be similar in look except for the addition of white bacopa and osteospermum (aka African Daisy). Rain and clouds kept the daisies tucked in tight.

A closeup of the Globe Trollius by the front step.
White Marginata Hostas are growing rapidly and fill an area quickly once the snow melts.
 The other side of the driveway is now showing color due to a recent addition of white Allysum, pink Cosmos and a sunny yellow Sunflower to flank the gate.

As the Primrose mature I'm seeing larger blossoms which are lasting longer. Yay.  I've also had good success with returning perennials, however, several tags have blown away so now I have to research ID's and re-tag with a more permanent solution.

Bleeding Heart's delicate lacy look and faithful hardiness make it one of my favorite perennials, but their dense foliage requires additional support to avoid toppling over.  I use an inverted wire basket with large openings to cage them before the stems grow up through it.
 Off to a good start after it's first winter, the Tangutica Clematis should be blossoming within the week.  The plan is to have the top and sides of the garage door framed with this vegetation.  The flowers are less interesting than their feathery spent seed pods.
Although the Rose Tree of China is losing its blossoms now, once the Allysum and Marigold fill out, this rock garden will be a nice focal point for the front yard.  I'll enjoy changing the annuals each year to spotlight different colors now that the ground cover has been removed.
  I'm still buying flowers for inside (bug free), because I love treating myself to their cheerful colors on a rainy day such as this.  Happy Gardening!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rocky Road To Kansas Lap Quilt

 Here's yet another recycling quilt using larger pieces of blues and creams from my scrap bins, and piecing  leftover batting scraps for the filler.  Even the binding was an old remnant from my first quilt made in 1988.

I emptied another box from my studio, and if that wasn't enough, I used a pre-printed continuous line backing that was better suited for a commercial sewing machine.  Live and learn!
I'm very pleased with the look of the quilt top but equally unhappy with my machine quilting.  My thread choice was horrible (it kept breaking and garbling up), and due to the high color contrast, it shows.  I was able to persevere through the imperfections when I reminded myself this project was strictly for utilitarian use and would eventually wear out without me feeling bad about using it.

The lap size was too difficult for me to manage on my home sized machine.  I WILL NOT DO THIS AGAIN.  Hence forth, anything exceeding small wall art sized pieces shall be passed to local long-arm quilters... so my smile will remain in place. : )

I wanted to learn more about this patterns origins.  History grants us the ability to time travel, (aka 'mind travel'), because we can imagine the past and how some things came to be presently understood.  Many quilt block patterns were designed with specific references to their makers surroundings and experiences.  How they were executed was often determined by their current resources and social influences.  In that regard, not much has changed from generation to generation.

The Rocky Road to Kansas quilt block specifically refers to its early settlement period when it was first thought to have appeared in 1889, over ten years after the Santa Fe Trail was last used.  "Rocky" refers more to the difficult traveling conditions by wagon during the state's early settlement period, than by the actual nature of the road surfaces.

The original pattern is a string ~ or crazy-pieced design developed, some believe, to use up long narrow strips or strings of fabric from other sewing projects.  Variations of this pattern exist by other names as well.

For those wishing to draw from their multi-colored scrap bags, here is the string pieced quilt pattern for the Rocky Road To Kansas.  Several photos of RRTK quilts vary greatly in looks based on fabrics and construction choices. Be sure to click on the photos for larger views.  Scroll to the bottom of this  link to view a photo of a RRTK quilt using strips for the star and the background templates.

The same two templates are used whether you piece strings or not.  My version eliminates the middle seam of the background piece but it does create an inset seam that some beginners may find difficult to piece.  Either version looks nice.