Saturday, March 7, 2015

Making Your Own Bliss

Phew. Life. After two months of recovery and working from home, I went back to campus this week. This coming week, I get to go back to the gym and we have auditions. The week after includes the beginning of rehearsal and another follow-up with my surgeon. Whoa. So I took today to just do things that I love. I spent the majority of the day in the kitchen and the remainder in the sewing room. Bliss. 

Although I can't chew yet, I can eat baked goods in teensy bites. Plus, I have been watching scads of seasons of The Great British Bake Off. I dare you to watch it and not want to bake everything.I found a delectable recipe on Pinterest for Salted Chocolate Espresso Brookies from mydailymorsel. Seriously, some of the best cookies that I have ever had. I made a batch of baked oatmeal and my very favorite bread: Graham Bread from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger. Even more bliss.

This afternoon, I got to work on The Big Quilt. I added Wisconsin, Minnesota (isn't the lumberjack fabric from Joyful Roots adorable?), and Kansas. Ramses wanted to help.

I also made chicken pot pie, many jars of homemade chicken stock, and delicious chicken barley soup. I had graham bread and soup for dinner. Still more bliss.

Time to watch a show about Broadway on PBS, have a cup of tea, and a few of those cookies. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Paper Dolls for Grown-ups AKA Costume Design

So, I feel most like myself when I am working on a show. It has been a major part of my life for the last 30 years (yikes!). Multiple sclerosis and my surgery took me out of the musical this year, but we are a scant three weeks away from starting the annual Skakespearean play. I don't know where will be performing next year as the high school auditorium is renovated, but right now it's time to focus on The Tempest. Last weekend, my sweetie and I created the set model and this week has been all about costume design.


Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand, Caliban, Stephano & Trinculo

Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian 
(I also have designs for Gonzalo, Adrian, and Francisco)

Ceres, Juno, Iris, and the Naiads and Dryads

Like what you see and want to use them for your own shows? Go ahead! Enjoy! Just drop me a line and some photos when they are constructed. Theater should be about sharing :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Setting the (Tiny) Stage

It is the dead of winter in Central New York and the snow  is up past my knees, It is tough to put myself into a spring state of mind right now. It is even harder to imagine a semi-tropical island with roaring waves, sandy beaches, and quiet solitude. Okay, the solitude is pretty easy to imagine. I have not been on-campus with my co-workers in two months and while I am getting tons done while I heal and work from home, I am definitely suffering from cabin fever and separation anxiety from being alone most of the time, In that way, I can definitely put my head in Prospero's head space. Sigh.

This weekend though, my sweetie came to stay with me for the weekend. We made a furniture fort, we played board games, and we began to collaborate on the upcoming production of The Tempest. I have been doing research and pouring out ideas since the early fall, but we worked together yesterday on refining some concepts and we built the set model. Finalizing those details will enable me to move on to the next step in the process: blocking. Eeeek.

I have had general ideas but after watching Shakespeare Uncovered last week, we decided that the show would be based on Porto Santo, one of the Mediera Islands. The island is made up of many basalt column rock formations. That sealed it.

We had spirited discussion about costumes and how they related to each character to be able to finalize the color scheme. It was a wonderful dialogue and I truly enjoyed the process.

We constructed a 1/2" scale model with foam core, cardboard, muslin, and even some recycling. Above is Act 1, scene 1 on the ship.

The main set is a a basalt cave with a practical roof. There will also stream, a basalt pit (for Caliban) and a hollow tree (for Ariel).

Stay tuned for more news as we begin the actual show next month.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Stitching the Nation: The Big US Quilt

Every day the nation becomes more of a reality. I have caught up with the rest of the 50 States Stitching Cub, so it was time to turn to the map. Each state has been appliqued with the fabric that will be the corresponding quilt block and in some way invokes the motif for that state. Virginia is a funny example: the motif is a Virginia Ham, so the fabric that I choose for the state/block is covered with sausages and meats! Also, did you know that the state craft of South Carolina is basket making? Hence the woven fabric for that state.

Saturday was full of tea, stitching, and sleeping kitties. We had a quietly productive day with "How the States Got Their Shapes" playing in the background. Apt, I thought.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reaching for the stars: Adventures in Paper Piecing

You know how things look lovely on the internet and you think, "Oh, I can surely do that!" Then you actually start the project and realize what a production it truly is. So it goes with me and English Paper Piecing. This is part of The Big US Quilt project,so I can't just say, "It's too complicated so I am not going to do it." Well, I guess that I  could but that is not my way. Here I go:

First, I cut out 50 star shapes (I was originally gong to trace them, but decided to use up my printer ink instead). I then snipped off all of the points (Moses helped) so I have 50 pentagons and 250 triangles.

Luckily, Mollie from Wild Olive gave detailed instructions on how to actually make the pieces, so it was just a matter of following each step. The real challenge was the actual size of the pieces...they are tiny! The pentagon is only 1.5 inches across.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Quilting Isn't For Sissies

Some women turn into their mothers. Not me. I am turning into my Grandma. I am kinda excited about it. As soon as I finished working on Friday, I started working on The Quilt. 

I started cutting out squares and states out of the coordinating fabrics. I wasn't the only one having fun. Moses discovered that a recently used ironing board was THE best place in the house to lounge, regardless of the fact that I was still using it. I made huge plans for Saturday. The plan was to destash blue fabrics and crazy quilt them together for oceans, gulfs, and lakes. That was the plan anyway...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Making Progress: The Big US Quilt

Whoa. When I decided to combine three things that I wanted to do, I guess that I didn't realize how big of an undertaking that it was. I have ordered supplies online (since I am still in semi-quarantine from my surgery) and decided that being super-organized was the only way that I am going to get through this unscathed. I am a little nervous since I am doing a lot of things that I never have: quilt applique, hand quilting, AND paper piecing. 

Fabrics are starting to arrive. The big order from Spoonflower came in yesterday. I was sad to learn that an 8" swatch is actually 6.5". I have ordered duplicates of some since I am using these themed fabrics for both the star blocks and the actual state on the map. Scraps will become part of the sashing and/or binding.

 I have spent my free time since Saturday stitching tons of motifs from the 50 States Stitching Club. I am up to date with the rest of the club now.

I didn't realize how small that they would be until I started to transfer them. I originally traced them with water soluble marker, but found that it was too pale. Pencil works just fine.

I started tracing states tonight to make patterns. Ramses thinks that he is helping.

Tomorrow night, I hope to be able to start cutting fabric and Saturday, I will start making stars. So nervous. Any paper piecing tips?