Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Soular Flair

This was a collaborative art quilt. Several years ago one of the group members (, brought up the idea of creating art quilts. There were many of us who had never ventured into this realm of quilting, but we became intrigued at the idea. Carole suggested that we work in collaborative teams and keep journals about our experience.
As the deadline loomed near I was in a bit of a panic because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to present. I finally decided that I would let the fabric talk to me and I would go with the flow.
Off to City Quilters and sure enough the fabric started talkin’ and I was busy listening. One piece of fabric stood out and I decided I would make it the focus of the project. The fabric was black with metallic gold music notes and staffs. Also at that point the title of the project came to mind, Soular Flair.

There were many techniques that I wanted to use on the project, my mind was swimming. However, above all I wanted to hand quilt the piece and include beading.

The name Soular Flair was a play on the term for solar activity that takes place on the sun. The music note fabric was the sun’s face and I chopped the blues and black to give the effect of outer space. As for the beading aspect of the quilt, I decided that I would recreate the constellations that I could see from home. The constellations were the Big and Little Dipper, Cassiopeia, and Orion.
To add dimension to the quilt I used the technique of trapunto, stuffing the profile, and this made the face pop.
The collaborative part of the project came in where by after you finished your center you were to pass it off to your partners for them to add their ideas to your project. After the additions were completed the piece was sent back to the original artist and they were to add the finishing touches. I used the quilting pattern called Baptist Fan, because I felt it represented the ebb and flow of life. All in all it was a great project

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Self Challenge

Last week our guild, Empire Quilters, held its bi-annual quilt show at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) here in New York City. I am proud to say that I had two quilts in the exhibit.
Two years ago I attended the show and made a decision that I was going to join the group. The quilting guild that I had belonged to, Bridgeview Quilters had drifted apart due to members moving, job pressures and just life. Suddenly, I found myself quilting alone. My best friend was married now and she was doing wife things and quilting was not her top priority. So here I was a bit a drift, oh I still played with my fabric and took a few classes at City Quilters, but it wasn’t the same as being with a group. I had the internet guild, African American Quilters; however, I didn’t find it enough. I needed people to talk to and to interact face to face. So with these things in mind, I joined Empire.
For those of you who have been following my blog, you know I was hospitalized last year with the blood disorder, ITP. While in the hospital, a friend of mine encouraged me to keep a journal of my hospital adventure. In doing so I found myself not only writing but sketching the views from my window. Then at one point I thought of an idea for a wall hanging that would depict on aspect of my adventure-the many blood transfusions that I had to date, and then there were the prayers that were sent on my behalf by family and friends and my own. There had been one night when I was sure that I had seen the depth of Hell and I reached out and grabbed my rosary from the bed stand and prayed so hard I was crying. The meds can really do a job on your head.
Anyway, I sketched out my idea for a wall hanging. The piece would be called River of Life; this was because blood had become the focus of my life while in Eisenstein. I also wanted to include in the design the stark whiteness of my bedspread as juxtapose to the redness of the blood flowing through the clear plastic tubing.
I was now actively back with the guild and the idea of entering a quilt for the exhibit kept playing at the back of my mind. I finally decided that I would do River of Life. This was going to be the first time that I had actually sketched out a design and planned to execute it. Timing was going to be the thing because I also planned to hand quilt the piece. Was I biting off more than I could chew, I didn’t know, but I was going to give it an honest try. I decided that the background fabric was going to be a tone on tone white cotton. The next part was harder because I needed a red that looked like blood. I looked at several red mottled cottons and a slew of batiks, but they didn’t have the richness that I was looking for. Finally, during one of my trips to City Quilter I found what I was looking for, a rich deep red diponi silk. I now had the making for my quilt, let the fun begin. I wanted the red strips to stand out, so that meant trapunto…I was so tired of stuffing tubes to the end and then to keep the seams from unraveling…ugh!!!
Now that the tubes were stuffed it was time to mark for quilting. I selected the Baptist Fan motif for the over -all coverage. I love the pattern and I thought that I would use silver and gold threads periodically to represent the prayer sent for me and by me. I also would make a rosary that would represent the rosary that my son’s fiancĂ©e, Daphney, had given me. I promised myself that I would a lot two hours a night to quilting. I was doing okay until I started reading Twilight, see previous post. I completed the quilt and was very proud of the results and myself. The final title, River of Life- 6 Units and Counting.
I also made a quilt to celebrate this historic election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. American Dream Scrapbook was based on the idea of a scrapbook page. I used patriotic fabric that I had stashed since 9/11 and added photo transfer images from the champagne and the Inauguration. I included champagne buttons that I found on EBay and a brass Andinkra symbol. I didn’t include any journal writing on the quilt, I figured I’d let the pictures speak for themselves.
This whole experience was exciting and exhausting. I will plan better for timing the next time. In fact I am starting to plan for my entries for the next show.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


They say that confession is good for the soul, so I guess in this season of Lent I’ll make my confession. I love the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. I am a true Twilighter now.
In the beginning of the school session I remembered seeing an article in the NY Times talking about a new teen book whereby a human girl falls in love with a guy who happens to be a vampire. It sounded like an interesting story. Later on while stocking up on books in Barnes and Noble, I saw the novel in the teen section; read the blurb and thought I’ll get it later for my hardcore readers. Low and behold when school started one of my students already had the book and was buried up to her ears reading. Shortly afterwards several other girls had the book and were plowing through the pages. When I asked if the book was good, the response was a loud yes.
Sometime later, my co-teacher, Gail commented that she didn’t think the girls were really reading the book because they often became disengaged when they read and were easily distracted. I thought this was an interesting observation and decided to pay more attention to the girls. Sure enough Gail was right. I asked to borrow a copy for a few minutes and noticed right away what one of the problems might be, the vocabulary. Even thought the book is in the young adult category, it still has great vocabulary which unfortunately my students don’t use because they limit their reading…this is for another post not this one.
As time went on I discovered that one student claimed that she was up to Eclipse which is the third book in the series. I couldn’t figure out how she had made and decided that she just wanted to bet the other girls to the punch. It was now time for the holiday trip to the movies and Twilight had just been released, ya know where we were going. I found the movie enchanting. I kept promising myself that I was going back to see it again, because when you’ve got 180 kids you can’t always follow the action on the screen. Needless to say I didn’t make it back to the theatre; the best laid plans of mice and men.
The year barreled along and I purchased Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. I told myself that I wasn’t going to read them until the Winter Break, because I knew that I would stay up to the wee small hours of the morning reading…I know me when I’m book hooked. Before the break it was decided that we were going to do book clubs in class. I told Gail that I would do a Twilight book club with the girls who had the book. It would be a guided book club in that I would read aloud and the girls would follow along. There would be a lot of bells and whistles that would help them with their reading and comprehension. I started out thinking that I would read aloud and then I would purchase the audio book and let the iPod do the rest. Once I listened to the woman reading the text, I realized that I sounded better anyway.
I now thought if I’m going to do this with the kids I’d better at least read the book so that I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. Granted there have been plenty of times when I’ve done cold reading of some books, but for some reason I didn’t want this to be one of them. Having already seen the movie I knew what to expect, but then again the book is always more detailed then the movie. Once I started reading I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself totally engrossed in the lives of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. I enjoyed the way the author phrased her story. It was sexy without the overt sex that students are exposed to, sometimes just by watching TV. It was a very romantic story, which is my favorite genre anyway. Before I knew it I was reading New Moon and Eclipse was right behind it. I hadn’t ordered Breaking Dawn because I wasn’t sure how soon I would finish the other books. When I realized that I was eating Eclipse like a bag of M & M peanuts, I knew I needed to hit Amazon. I placed my order on Tuesday after returning from class. Much to my surprise the book arrived on Friday, just as I was finishing up Eclipse. I was a happy camper. I finished the book in a little over a week. I found myself waking up before the alarm clock went off and I would read a few pages before getting up. I wouldn’t take it on the train to class because it was too heavy along with my class textbooks….no way!
When I read the final page I felt as if I were saying goodbye to old friends. This was awful! These were supposed to be books for young people and I am diffently no longer in that category, but I couldn’t help myself, I loved the story and the writing was good.
Shortly, after I had completed Breaking Dawn a colleague, who was also reading the series, asked me if I had read Midnight Sun. I told her I was not familiar with the title. Her response was just read it. I did and it was Twilight told from Edward’s point of view. It wasn’t the whole story, but it was enough to so that I wished Stephenie had completed the book. I enjoy seeing other character’s side of a story, it is something that I do with my students and I find the views interesting and insightful.
I have given up pretending and have finally admitted that I am an incurable romantic and it will not matter how old I am I will always be on the lookout for my Edward Cullen.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: What a Year!

2008 is not a year I will easily forget, even though there are a few things I would like to forget.
The year started out with me being diagnosed with ITP, a rare blood disorder. For three and a half weeks I was hospitalized, poked, stuck and probed until ITP was determined. After being released and home for a month to recoup I returned to work, teaching.
New York is a happening place and this spring it took on an added buzz because Pope Benedict XVI was going to visit. Crazy me wanted to go down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to try and catch a view of the Holy Father. What was I thinking? I still had a little difficulty standing for long periods, not to mention, where were the bathrooms!
Life barreled on and I slowly started feeling like a real person. I continued with making dolls and looked forward to taking part in Doll Days in Mt. Vernon. I had a doll pattern that I had put off making and thought now would be a good time to tackle it. July arrived and I was now free for the summer. Since I illness I decided that I wasn’t doing any workshops or classes this summer, I wanted to concentrate on me and getting well.
One night while working on Genie, my nose started to bleed and it took forever for it to start. Panic was creeping around the edges of my physique, was this the start of an ITP flare up? After a visit to Dr. Ahgo’s office my worst fears were realized, my platette count was taking a nose dive. Here it was the end of July and I was back in the hospital, again! At one point I had a nose bleed that lasted more than twenty-four hours. Needless to say I need a blood transfusion. After six units of blood and several doctor visits we were all in agreement that the spleen had to go. Surgery was scheduled for the following weeks. My platette count had stabilized so I was able to talk my way out the hospital for the weekend.
I got to attend Dolls Days and was able to finish Genie to add to the group of dolls I planned to display. It was great being with my group, Needle Knows Dolls and meeting with other doll makers and then there was the shopping. Let’s face it we love to create, but we all live for the hunt of finding just the right fabric, pattern or bits of embellishments for our projects.
Tuesday found me at Einstein-Monte and a date with Dr. Bellmore and company, Rambo was leaving and peace was going to be restored to the kingdom. Dr. Able had a little difficulty locating my veins for the anesthesia. With the exception of the bone marrow test, this was the most painful part of this whole ordeal. I was grateful when the mask was placed over my face and I was told to breath deep, I didn’t have to be told twice. The next thing I knew I heard Maureen’s voice telling me that she would be my nurse while in recovery. Through my feet I could see the clock and couldn’t believe that it was 4:30p.m. I went under around 11:00a.m. I was released the following afternoon; such is the technology of laparoscopic surgery. A few weeks later it was time to start school. I was moving slowly, but the outlook was great.
Finally, the political conventions are over and the campaigns can begin. In the Democrats’ corner is Senator Barack Obama, for the Republicans’ it Senator John McCain. For the first time there is an African American running for president on a national ticket. We are in a historic time. Hillary Clinton our senator from New York was poised to be the first woman to run for president on a national ticket. She and Obama fought tooth and nail for the position, primary after primary. Obama won and history was still made. Just when the country was saying wow to this event, McCain selects the governor of Alaska to be his running mate. Who the hell is the governor of Alaska? Answer, Sarah Palin. Now we are still on the history road.
Haven’t had time to make any dolls or quilts, school is keeping me hopping. Election night arrives and I’m not going to sleep until I hear whose going to be our next president; this is too important for me to miss. As usual I’m checking papers and keeping track of the vote on NBC. Earlier in the day I voted before going to work; the kids were off but teachers had to report for staff development-ugh! My polling place is in the basement of my apartment building. I ran downstairs and jumped on the line to vote. It didn’t dawn on me that I had cut the line until I happened to look back and saw that the line had stretched way into the parking lot. No one got upset and for that I was grateful. Later, I took a cab to work and was moved by the sight of long lines of people waiting to vote. Parkchester had joined the thousands of people across the country coming out to exercise their rights as citizens, voting.
As the evening wore on I watched the map color in red state then blue state. It reminded me of one of my colleagues who told the story about a student doing an exit project on gangs. The student was excited to see that there was a map that showed the influence of the Crips (blue) and the Bloods (red).
Brian William’s voice broke through my thoughts as he announced that our 44th president was Barack Obama. I sat there listening, but not believing my ears or my vision. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and kept blinking. This was one time when I could not truly share my joy with Dan, because he had voted for the other guy. I think he understood my elation, but he could never feel the same way, because I was a child of the sixties. I had marched and protested so that he could have the ability to vote for McCain. I never thought that I would live to see a black man elected president of the United States, but here it was and I was here! To God be the glory! I pray for our country and for this man we have elected, may God be his guide and protector.
Yes, 2008 was some year. I’m glad that I was able to see it and be a part. Now, on to 2009! Happy New Year!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Make Way for the Queen

It's taken some time but I finally finished my Hang UR Imagination doll. At first I didn't have a clue as to what I wanted it to be, but as I continued to wrap the yarn around its head the idea hit that I wanted to honor the women that I saw selling things in the markets of Abijan and Bourke, Ivory Coast, West Africa. Now the outfit she is wearing is a little dressy for the market itself, but you get the idea of the regalness of the women who reign over their stalls like queens. I really enjoyed creating her and I think I just might do another one.

It's hard to believe that she started out as a clothes hanger and a block of wood.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Day With Dolls

Youngest Dollmakers

I'm working on my imagination doll. It was so warm after the rain that the hair had to go up. I didn't have a clue about the doll, however afterwards she just started to evolve. will post her when finished.

You just have to love those long legs!

These dolls were Anne Hess designs done by Susan Ratti. I love the beaded faces.

So many dolls, too bad they weren't labeled to identify the makers.

Dolls on parade

Everybody's working and we're not even thinking about the indoor rain shower.

Creating an Imagination Doll

Neddle Knows Doll Club in the house- Debbie, Venus, Jean and Me

I had been looking forward to the doll workshop in Mt. Vernon with the 3D Doll Club’s Day with Dolls. This was going to be my first doll makers’ event and I was vibrating with excitement.
Well, for those of you who have been following my blog you know that life is full surprises. During the last week of July I found myself hospitalized again with an extremely low platelet count. A day after being admitted I had an extreme nosebleed that lasted for over 24 hours. Yes, I was frightened, but I was in the best possible place for this to happen. After receiving a dose of Retuxian, I was given 6 units of blood. All of the doctors and I agreed that I needed to have my spleen removed. The one thing I needed to know from my doctors was would I be able to be discharged on Friday, so that I could attend the workshop on Saturday. Needless to say I was happy to be out on Friday. Now, I had to hurry home to finish up my genie in the bottle doll.
Arrangements had been made and Tuesday was selected for surgery, everything went well. I’m on the mend and the ITP has been arrested.
It was great meeting up with Jean, Venus and Debbie. We hadn’t met officially in almost a year due to family commitments and illness. The Needle Knows Doll Club was in the house. I can’t remember when I had laughed so much and truly enjoyed myself as much as I did on Saturday. The host, 3D Doll club, did a wonderful job setting up everything for us. There were the magic purple bags that held all of our workshop supplies and the plentiful snack table. Three tables held the display of beautiful dolls and then there were the vendors in the auditorium. The workshops were great, but I really live to shop. Doll Makers Journey was present as were several local folks.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dreaming of Genie

Sometime ago while widow shopping at Doll Makers Journey, I ran across a cute pattern of a genie in a bottle. The doll reminded me of the TV show I Dream of Jeannie with Barbara Eden and Larry Hageman.
I must admit that I am a visual learner and there are many times when I don’t fully read the directions, but are drawn to the picture or illustration instead. So the pattern arrives and I dive in only to go, ugh! I guess at the time my brain didn’t want to comprehend the directions. Well, I buried the pattern and moved on with life.
Along comes the announcement about a doll workshop (Day with Dolls) and I decided that I wanted to do the bottle doll. To be honest the directions were pretty clear cut and easy to follow. As I was putting the doll together I found myself adding little things to improve the overall out come of the doll and was very pleased with the results. I knew that I wanted to use fleece for the hair and also to give the illusion of smoke coming from the bottle as the genie made her appearance. The official title for the doll is Yes, Master.
While working on the doll, I suddenly found myself in the grips on ITP outbreak and wound up in the hospital for a week; more about this in another blog entry. I got discharged the day before the workshop so I didn’t get to put all the finishing touches I had planned for the doll, but I realized I can always make a new one and this doll would do just fine.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Doll Club

Tonya has asked me to let folks know that a new doll club has been created in Brooklyn, NY. If you're in the neighborhood check it out. Use the link to make contact.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Little Dumplin'

I really didn’t have an interest in doing a primitive doll, but there was something about this doll and a few others from The Cat and the Fiddle,, site that just stirred my interest.
I think the doll’s hair style caught my eye first; it looked a bit like a halo. It wasn’t until I purchased the pattern that realized that the halo effect was created by braids standing on end with ribbons on the end. Then there were her feet, good heavens did the girl have feet! I decided to change Dumplin’s hair do. I used felting needles to root her hair. At first I used a nubby yarn; however, I wasn’t pleased with the out come so I changed hair material and used synthetic hair from the beauty supply store. Besides changing her hair, I also changed her dress. For the longest time I had dozens of 1930’s prints fat quarters, so I decided that I would use some of them. I think she looks cute.