Quilts for Sale

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pretending to be Andy Warhol

Look what fun you can have with a regular photograph! I feel like I could join the Velvet Underground.

One goal I have for the summer is to become a lot more skilled at PhotoShop. Tomorrow is August 1 and I haven't even opened my book! But we have been traveling so I'll use that as a flimsy excuse.

I had run across a couple of cool features on Flickr just before we left for MN, so decided to try them last night. Although I never could get Mosaic to upload, I did transfer a photo into a very cool Andy Warhol look-alike. To try this yourself, go to: http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/

A Love of Trains

Matthew spotted this hobo art on a box car near the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame in Hamlet NC.

Here he looks out a doorway of the famed Norfolk and Western 611 steam engine.

Great Smokey Mountain Railroad in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Dillsboro NC.

Photo Credit: Bill Guerrant - About 1991

My DH began taking our son on train rides when he was very young. They've ridden behind some very well-known vintage and/or now retired engines all over the southeast. Matthew fell in love with all things train related, read everything he could find about them, subscribed to Model Railroader magazine for years, joined a railroading club and of course had model train setups - both HO and a G-scale LGB. His knowledge was vast, especially for a little kid. His letter pointing out an error on an engine identification was published by the editors of Modern RR! No one knew he was only 10 at the time.

In addition to developing a love for seeing and riding trains, Matthew also loved to draw and photograph them. Lately he's been scanning old negatives from his files and posting the pictures on an internet site. Please permit me a little shameless brag here: He began about two weeks ago and has already had over 800 hits on some of his photos! To view them, go to:


or click on Great Train Photos in my links list in the right sidebar.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today in the Studio

I had barely enough of a wonderful polka dot fabric for the first border on the wedding quilt. Click on the picture for a closer view.

My time in the studio was brief, as I spent most of the day PhotoShopping Minnesota pictures, making folders and burning DVDs. But I did manage to get the first border onto the New York Beauty. I wish I had purchased more than one yard from Randy's Quilt Shop in Greensboro but alas, it is all gone. Why are my favorite fabrics always polka dots?

I took the piece to Greensboro yesterday and put it on the kids' bed. I've decided the quilt needs one more border before the outer pieced blocks are sewn on. I have not found the perfect fabric in my stash, so will have to make a trip to Mary Jo's. I have to be very disciplined when I go to Gastonia (Mary Jo's location) as the temptations there are great: Hobby Lobby, Marshall's, a couple of good thrift shops, Michael's and lots more - not to mention Tony's Ice Cream Parlor on Franklin Blvd. Yipes!

Birthday Celebration

We spent yesterday afternoon with Matthew, presenting him with several small birthday gifts along with the always appreciated coin. Matthew and Suzie, we and several of their friends gathered for a delicious dinner at Pho Hien Vuong in Greensboro that evening. The food and conversation were great. A bit later, Suzie's brother Rob and his new puppy Luna (sorry, I forgot to get a shot of the little fuzz ball) came by the house to join in the festivities.

As always, our visit was much too short but wonderful. A few moments from the day are pictured below.

The Happy Birthday crowd:
Shawn, Matthew, Suzie, Dave, Riley, Rachel, William, Ellen and Jen.

Rob, Suzie, Matthew

Birthday Boy and Darby
We're always amazed at how docile and gentle Darby is, despite her size as a Great Dane. Matthew says she's "All bark."

Matthew and Suzie avocadophoto.wordpress.com were in Buffalo NY for a wedding shoot recently. This great pic of the photographers was taken by Suzie's Uncle Dan July 12 but I wanted to include it here.

Photo Credit: Dan Stalter

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Matthew's Magical Birthday

The first time ever I saw your face - July 29, 1979

Today is our son's birthday. He is 29 on the 29th. We'll join him, Suzie and friends in a few hours for a wonderful celebration at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

Happy Birthday, Matthew!!!!!
Love you forever - Mom and Pops.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Home Again

As long-time fans of A Prairie Home Companion, we loved this marquee. It was on an abandoned theater right in the middle of a fabulous outdoor market in St. Paul. I wish we could have purchased some of the beautiful flowers.

St. Paul Sweet Peas
I've never seen these for sale anywhere - but MN is a lot cooler than NC.

We arrived home safely just after lunch. There is tons to do, as we're going to Greensboro tomorrow for our son's birthday. But I did want to share a couple of things from beautiful St. Paul. I'll be posting again later this week. xoxox Ellen.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

From Minneapolis

To my faithful readers: I'm in Minneapolis where we've been for the past five days. Home tomorrow, then to Greensboro Tuesday for our son's birthday celebration. He'll be 29 on the 29th which is magical to me. Sorry I haven't been able to post. My DH's laptop will not let me upload most of the time! Watch for pix later in the week. 'Til then - xoxoxoxox Ellen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beautiful Lily

We've had this beautiful lily in our garden for about three years. Although it has suffered terribly from the drought, we still get one or two blooms a year. Anyone know what it is? I failed to make note of its name.

As you can seen, our angels trumpets are only half as tall as in years past. Nonetheless they're still a gorgeous, fragrant flower. We did have an inch of rain last night and it is thundering now. So there's hope!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wedding Quilt

I need 36 of these foundation pieced border blocks
shown lined up on the design wall.

I finished the main part of the wedding quilt Saturday and was amazed at how easily it came together. Now to sew the last 14 of the pieced outer border blocks. I rested this evening, watching The Good Shepherd for about the fourth time while clipping stray threads. Tomorrow - it's back to work. Watch for photos soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dear Father

Today would have been my father's 95th birthday. A second generation American, he was born in the house of his father's birth on a farm our family owned for over 100 years. The 25th anniversary of his death will be just 18 days from now. The longer he is gone, the more difficult it is for me to write or talk about this incredible man. So I'll share a few photos from our family album.

Kermit vonOhlen as a young boy.
Circa 1919 at the old homeplace - Cortland IL

My father loved fishing and was good at it. I remember many a fish fry at our house.

This has always been one of my favorite family photos. Here my father baits a hook for my older sister Sharon. The picture was probably taken on the banks of the Fox River near Dundee IL where my maternal grandparents farmed.

This photo of my father (front row left) and his siblings is not dated. We think it was probably taken before the funeral of their father Ernst Christian vonOhlen who died unexpectedly from blood poisoning in 1931 when my Dad was just 17. I can't imagine another time when the siblings would have been dressed so formally and attired in black. Note the avant-garde cuffs on my aunt Alice's dress - back row right.
From the baseboards, it looks as if the photo was taken at home.
Front row: Kermit, Alda
Back row: Eva, Floyd, Alice

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In the Studio

If I'd used a diagonal set for the blocks, images such as the dog would have ended up on their sides.

Suzie and Matthew love dogs, so there are puppies and dog bones throughout. Matthew was and is a huge train fan.

We had ice cream frequently on the farm, so its image had to be included. The vintage fabric originally had a white back ground which I painted with a yellow "wash."

I've been playing with the layout for Ray of Life. Today I decided that since I'd pieced the blocks with special images, the blocks needed to line up nice and straight. I toyed with the idea of placing them on point, but things like dogs and sushi ended up falling over. So a straight set it is! I hope to get the main portion of the top sewn together tonight. Film at 11.

To give my dear readers something new, I added links to the sites of seven amazing artists. For a real treat, check them out. Just click on any of these names in the sidebar: Esterita Austin, Hollis Chatelain, Jamie Fingal, Patty Hawkins, Rosemary Hoffenberg, Carol W. Larson and Larkin Van Horn.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jelly Roll Strips

Moda fabrics sewn into 4-patch blocks. They will be 4" finished.

I'll have 150 blocks once these are added to those on my design wall.

A couple of years ago I bought a Moda Jelly Roll - 40 of their fabrics cut into 2 1/2" wide strips which were then rolled up jelly roll style. It had been an impulsive purchase of fabrics I wondered later why I'd made. But I was itching to sew last weekend and wanted something easy. I began stitching Saturday after dinner and by last night had 150 blocks completed! Having precut strips made everything go together so quickly. The blocks were a snap to make. I'd never given much thought to how much labor goes into cutting.

If you're familiar with my work, you know I do not work in pastels or florals. Regardless, I think this will be a pretty quilt. I'll put the blocks away for now so I can get back to the wedding quilt. It felt great to be sewing once more!


We've had several tomatoes from our garden already. This one is just about ready to pick.

My DH always grows lots of Roma tomatoes. They are a very meaty fruit, great in sauces.

Despite the drought and lack of bees, our garden is doing well this year. The veggie plot is entirely my husband's purview. He keeps the plants heavily mulched, keeping down weeds and the need for water.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Garden Sights

I'm itching to create! Since I don't have any new art ready to share, I'll take you on a tour of our summer gardens. I'll pretend you're here with me. Being an artist is a very solitary pursuit.

Make sure to click on the images for a closer view. Enjoy the tour! xoxox Ellen.

I captured this bumble bee yesterday feeding on the purple coneflower. He was moving very slowly, probably drunk with nectar. For some reason, the coneflower blossom is very pale this year.

One of two huge stands of black-eyed Susan.

White coneflower after a morning shower today.

The wave petunia is just beginning to bloom.

I'm always charmed by the delicate beauty of the lace-cap hydrangea

Pink phlox - another lovely.

African basil has just begun to blossom in the herb garden.

The humble cucumber blossom is very pretty. I love the dainty looking but strong tendrils which allow the plant to grab hold. Our cukes are grown on a space saving vertical support.

This white deck plant has a lovely trailing form.

Our neighbor always generously allows us full access to his fig tree. The fruit is just beginning to form.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Symbols of Our Nation

For many years, I've collected vintage flag imagery. Here are a few from my stash. I love the graphic quality and the fact that most of my flags are textiles.

A 4th of July vignette at our house. The flag on the table is of a paper-like material. You can recognize an old 48-star flag at 50 paces even if you can only see a bit of it as the stars are lined up in straight
These silk party favor flags were purchased at a yard sale years ago. Although they are 50 stars, they are old and probably date to just after Alaska and Hawaii gained statehood in 1959.

I love the colors on this postcard found many years ago.

Click on the photo to read the note from Martha to her sister. This is the back of the card shown above and is dated 1913, the year of my father's birth. It is from my home state of Illinois but I found it in NC.

This print depicts WWI images and is dated 1918. I bought it in the early 1970's for just $12. It has hung in our kitchen ever since.

I remember the day I bought the WWI print. My CA sister Sharon and I were antiquing in Charlotte back in the day when the uptown had wonderful department stores - Belk's and Ivey's. There were also Woolworth's and Orange Julius as well as family operated businesses such as Simpson Photo, Brownlee Jewelry and Radcliffe Florist. On the east side of Belk's ran College Street. There were two or three fabulous junque stores there. When I worked uptown, I'd spend my lunch hours rummaging through the treasures. Nearly all of the vintage wicker in our sunroom came from these shops. The one-of-a-kind chairs were old when I bought them and are classics now.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th everyone!
xox Ellen x0x

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gracie

Today, Grace turns two! She is the daughter of my God-child Kari.
Happy Birthday, sweet pea!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Next Goal - Finish the Wedding Quilt!

Inspiration Quilt

When our son Matthew was engaged, I knew I wanted to make a special quilt for him and his bride Suzie. I usually create my own designs, but the cover of Magic Quilts & Patchwork (a French magazine) really spoke to me. I knew I wanted to make New York Beauty and call it Ray of Life.

I drafted my pattern, altering it somewhat from the original, and began stitching the requested blue and orange fabrics with a little yellow and acid green thrown in. I've now made over 100 blocks and at least half of those needed for the border.

The quilt would be finished by now, but I switched projects mid-stream, completing my late Mother's quilt for my sister. It was begun many years ago and was/is long overdue. I'll deliver it in person when we have our family reunion in Minneapolis later this month.

In this trial layout, I placed blocks stitched of only blue and orange fabrics together on the left, but think they definitely need the 'spice' of the yellow and acid green.

I may add sashing to increase the quilt's size without having to make more pieced blocks. I'm auditioning fabrics and playing with the border blocks here.

Blogger has been on the 'fritz' all afternoon, allowing me to post only these two photos. Tomorrow, I hope to show you the initial block layout.