29 Jun

Thanks for Asking

Terry wanted to see my sea glass necklace. I’m happy to oblige.

And since several of you were contemplating drill bits (I’m pretty sure there’s a glass and ceramic type), you might want to know that for the necklace, the artist didn’t drill at all (though she did for the wind chime/mobile thingie).

And even though no one asked, but Judy thought my food descriptions sounded tasty, here’s a picture of my hapa lomi salmon with sea asparagus (did anyone see the “Chopped” episode where they had to cook with this? I was yelling at the TV — at a cooking show! How crazy is that?). By the way, the leftovers were extra tasty with avocado.

26 Jun

Colors of Polynesia

Where I used to post about German fests and castles, now it’s all tropical dances and food! Here are some images from our day at the Polynesian Cultural Center here on Oahu. Hopefully made more relevant to my creative journey blog in their arrangement by color. Everything should be clickable for a little bit bigger view. There’s also more on Flickr.

Clockwise from upper left: Hawaiian hula in plantation era costumes, traditional hula skirt or “pa’u,” Tahitian dancers, Hawaiian dancers.

Clockwise from upper left: Tahitian dancers, Fijian or Samoan dancers (I can’t remember), Tongan drummer, skirt made from the inner bark of the wild hibiscus tree.

Clockwise from upper left: Hawaiian hula kahiko dancers with feather rattles, Tahitian dancers with I’i hand implements, Samoan fire knife dancer, Hawaiian kahili, or royal standards.

Clockwise from upper left: Taro, Maori woman from Aotearoa (New Zealand) performing the haka as a welcome, Maori man performing another part of the ceremonial greeting, Maori group singing.

Clockwise from upper left: Fijian house for sacrifices, Hawaiian checkers (konane), Fijian tattoo for a king, Fijian outrigger canoe.

23 Jun


Wind Ornament, originally uploaded by Umzavi.

After several hot, hot weeks, the Trade Winds came back and made everything lovely. They blew in my Mother in Law as well and we have been slowly drifting from one activity to another. She’s a big fruit and veg eater, so on Saturday, I took her to the Farmer’s Market at KCC. Of course, since we were in the neighborhood, we had to visit my favorite two fabric/quilt shops Calico Cat and Kaimuki Dry Goods. The kids and I spent the rest of the day at a pool party. On Sunday, we went to the Waikiki Art Fest, which I discovered happens quite regularly. I was very pleased to find that it was not all ticky-tacky touristy stuff and in addition to a few gifts, I also purchased a sea glass necklace and this fantastic mobile. I love how unassuming , yet utterly charming it is. I was sold on the piece of green glass with the bit of text on it. We ate fresh Vitnamese BBQ on the lawn by the beach and later walked in the sand. On Monday my daughter and my MIL made a tote bag together with puppy patterned fabric bought on Saturday while I lunched at Orchids. Then we enjoyed pot luck and auction night with the Hawai’i Quilt Guild where we came home with mountain apples. They taste like tart pears and smell like roses. Tonight I made my own version of lomi salmon with cooked salmon (instead of traditional salt-cured), tomatoes, onions, and sea asparagus from the market. It was delicious and I think it needs a name: Hapa (half) Lomi Salmon.

We have a few more excursions planned and an inter-island cruise next week so I may or may not breeze in and out of the blog in the near future.

22 Jun

Adding a Line Drawing to a Quilt

I thought I’d share my process for adding the stag’s head to my latest quilt. It’s by no means the only way to add embroidery to a quilt, it was just my way for this quilt.

First, I drew the stag’s head directly onto a piece of tear-away stabilizer. I’m a confident draw-er and just went freehand using a photo as reference, but one could certainly find or print something out at the appropriate size and trace it onto the stabilizer.

Next, I pinned the stabilizer onto the front side of my quilt, which I had already quilted with parallel lines or channels. With 40 weight thread, I free-motion quilted the stag’s head, following the pencil lines I had drawn on the stabilizer. The tedious part follows — gently tearing away all the stabilizer. A seam ripper or something pointy is helpful to pick at the teensy bits in tight spaces. I also knot and bury any thread tails left from when I’ve stopped and stared lines of stitching.

Above is a detail of the front of the quilt with the machine embroidery; below is the back of the quilt showing the full picture.

For the nose and the eye, I placed appropriate shapes of fabric in position under the stabilizer to raw-edge applique the pieces as I followed the pencil drawing (you can still see a white haze of stabilizer that I haven’t yet picked out).

Once the machine embroidery is done and the stabilizer is ripped/picked out, it’s time to add the thicker lines with hand embroidery. Follow the main machine stitched lines, but don’t do the ones that define details on the interior of the image.

Using two strands of embroidery floss and a small chain stitch, I was careful to only go through the top layer of the quilt so as not to mar the look of the thread drawing on the back. Make a small quilter’s knot at the start of your floss, insert the needle into the top only of the quilt an inch or two away from where you want to start stitching, exit the needle where you want to start and pull it gently to pop the knot through the top and into the middle of teh quilt sandwich. When you’ve embroidered your way to the end of the floss, make similar knot by wrapping your thread around the needle twice and pulling it down the length of the needle and floss until it is close to the fabric (it helps to stick a pin into the knot while it’s loose to facilitate sliding it down the floss); enter the needle into the fabric at the end of your stitching and exit the fabric an inch or two away (being sure to go through the top layer and some batting only). Gently pull the needle and floss until the knot pops down into the quilt.

Enjoy the many possibilities of combining patchwork shapes with embroidery lines.

17 Jun

One Block Wonder Couch Quilts

This is the first of my One Block Wonder quilts. I stayed pretty true to the book, arranging the hexagons in waves of color to my liking and adding a border. I chose a solid border color to make the quilt look more modern (I considered white for a truly modern look, but was worried about practicality).

(click to enlarge)

I kinda missed the woodland theme of the original fabric though (“Lush” by Erin Michael). So, I machine and hand embroidered a stag after I quilted the quilt. It might be a bit out there, but I really like it!

Madison the cat approves.

The above quilt and matching pillow will be a gift. I used a few more of the hexagons to make a version for our couch:

I almost bought new fabric for the backs of these quilts, but was still reeling from having used nothing from my stash on either quilt top. I did have several white duvet covers picked up at a flea market a few years ago, so I bit the bullet and dyed two to match. I’m not great at dyeing to specifics, but I’m very happy with how these turned out. The stag quilt has a solid steel blue backing, and mine has steel blue overdyed in a tie-dye pattern with olive green. My intention was to have the very geometric hexagons on the front speak somehow to the looser, organic, hexagon-ish shapes on the back.

I’m loving my coordinated couch appropriate for a quilter.

15 Jun

Weekend Fun

I was debating whether or not to post about our activities of the last few days. They’ve been all kinds of fun for us, but maybe not that interesting to the rest of the world. In a nutshell:

• my son finished up a fantastic four day space/science camp and shot off the rocket he made;
• we went to see my blog friend Robin and watch her son play hockey since they were on “our” island;
• the next day we went to the water park with one of my friends from waaaaaaaay back when and her family since they too were on “our” island (in two weeks we get to go to theirs!).

Then, yesterday I spent most of the day making these:

Now there’s something for an artsy-craftsy blog.

We need to carry water around just about everywhere. Quite a while ago I had admired Kathey’s tutorial at Pink Chalk Studio but more in an abstract way (although I did purchase some insulating batting for eventual water bottle carrier making). This weekend it gelled for me and I decided that the carriers would incorporate some of the details from a little bag in Japanese craft magazine too. Plus, they’d look great in re-purposed BDU fabric.

I dug around my closet o’ crafty and fabric-y goodness looking for “stuff,” and pulled out some coordinating fabrics and binding leftovers, a collection of patches — military and otherwise, fun woven ribbon (the woodland ribbon is from Nic, and the flame ribbon was bought to embellish the hand towels in our hot rod half-bath), more of the fat red ric-rac from the mushroom quilt, clasps from two unused necklace-type key chains, twill tape, vinyl coated fabric (from the sandwich wraps), two sliding fastener thingies bought years ago only because they were cheap and seemed useful, cotton cording, and a leather cord.

In short, I quilted the BDU fabric to one layer of insulating batting and one layer of regular batting, then embellished with ribbon and patches. I made the straps with ribbon sewn to twill tape for her’s and ribbon sewn to folded over fabric for his. Added the fasteners and sewed the straps to the body. Then, I sewed up the sides and added the bottom circle (pre-quilted to one layer of insulating batting). Next, I made tubes of slightly smaller dimensions out of the vinyl coated fabric and sewed on their circle bottoms (not too much fuss sewing that as the troublesome shinier side was to the inside) then slipped them into their respective outer bodies. Now the carriers are lined all nice and tidy-like. I finished the short ends of two rectangles (one for each carrier) of coordinating fabric and folded over one long end on each to make a casing. That went into the tubes, right sides facing inward, raw edges matching. As per the Japanese magazine, I sewed binding over the raw edges to finish everything off. Lastly, I threaded the cording through the casings and added the cinch-thingies to snug and un-snug the top. That “poof” on top allows the plastic loop that holds the cap onto the bottle to stick out, and also allows for easy access to the water without pulling the bottle out of the carrier to drink.

The kids tested them out today and although the vinyl fabric doesn’t seem to stop wetness very much, the carriers got overall high marks.

13 Jun

A Little (Kukui) Nutty

Why is it that as soon as I say (even just to myself) that I’m over something or not going to do it, I go and do it anyway? Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical.

A while a go I lamented the many directions I could/should go and wondered if would be beneficial to focus. After that post, I decided that although I would probably never be the type to focus completely and create a “brand” for myself, it would be OK to let a few things drop.

There are a million über-talented fabric designers out there that I couldn’t dream of competing with, (not being terribly fashion forward myself) and I had decided that as fun as exploring patterns based on local flora would be, my energies would be better spent on art quilts and home projects. My sketches were unceremoniously shoved to the back burner.

Until last week. I had reason to expand on one idea, and that, of course, built some momentum, which got the juices flowing, and now I have six designs uploaded to Spoonflower (private at this point) being made into swatches, just to see what a small collection would look like.

I had the idea that if my designs were picked up by a fabric company, I could donate the proceeds to an entity concerned with the study and preservation of Polynesian plants, or just plain conservation, like the National Tropical Botanical Garden, or Hawai’i Nature Center. I’m not particularly interested in opening up an Etsy or Big Cartel shop to sell fabrics at upwards of $18 per yard myself. I suspect this will go back to the end of the line now that I’ve gotten some of the fun part out of my system (not before making a list of nearly 20 plants that would be interesting to draw when the mood strikes again).

Speaking of the mood striking, Katja watched me using Adobe Illustrator to make my designs and wanted to make some herself. I think this is a perfect example of being inspired by something and yet making it uniquely one’s own. I’m also so proud of my daughter’s creativity, that really this post is mostly an excuse to show her off!

07 Jun

Mahalo USO and Honolulu Zoo

Saturday was Military Appreciation Day at the Honolulu Zoo. We didn’t have anything else planned, I’m back to being a single parent again, it was something to do, so off we went.

There was live entertainment. I wish I could remember this guy’s name, as I think he performs around Honolulu quite a bit.

The Honolulu Fire Department represented. The kids could climb aboard an ambulance and fire truck. Only in Hawai’i would the fire truck include a surf board!!

There was story time…

…and crafts,


…and more games…

… and things Hawaiian to learn about.

Of course, the were animals too. The Honolulu Zoo may not be world renown, but it has the requisite elephants, monkeys, zebras, and tigers. There were also some weird relatives of the crocodile called gharial. My son made a point of finding all the lizards — like the one above. The nene, below, is the state bird of Hawaii and a relative of the Canada Goose.

A big mahalo (thank you) goes out to the Hawaii USO for organizing the day. Zoo entrance was free for ID card holders (like us), they had frequent shuttle buses from free parking at the nearby community college, they advertised free ice cream and hot dogs to the first 8,000 visitors (but it was a whole lunch bag with chips, cookies  and water too). And when they said lots of activities for the keiki (kids) they weren’t kidding. There was plenty to keep everyone busy and no long frustrating lines despite the large numbers of people there. Everything was well organized and well staffed. Even the weather cooperated with lots of sunshine and trade winds to keep it from getting too hot. All in all a great day!