Parched Plants Holding Up: A View of the Garden

Calling anything a garden in Tucson is a stretch…it’s been 107 degrees for the last week, temps that don’t support a typical garden. The plants in my yard are  holding up, I think most will make it for the 2 weeks it’ll likely take for the rainy season to begin. The hollyhock above seems built for this weather; and luckily these plants go to seed and sprout up again with little effort on my part so I’ll have more of the same next year. There’s a native grass in the background; it’s behind a mesh screen to prevent Bearbear from chomping on it.

Here’s Pam’s Pink Honeysuckle (trying to bloom again), moss verbena and chuparosa, all doing well; and, below, my Wonderful Pomegranate tree/bush from a cutting from the massive tree at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, with lavender–not blooming but not dead–in the foreground:

I’m going to have lots of pomegranates!

Above are clumps of chocolate flower, which bloom like crazy in the morning but look wilted and diminished by the end of the day; and what plant wouldn’t, really, under this relentless sun!

Here’s a view of part of the yard; nasturtiums in the foreground, the honeysuckle arbor, Russian sage in the back and to the right, I’m pleased to observe, my Desert Gold Peach tree is doing well, thanks to weekly watering from an improvised gray water system from my washer (I just hook up a piece of flexible hose to my washer, which is outside, and feed the tree).

Penstemon Project

This photo of a Parry’s Penstemon in my backyard earlier this year is one of several I’m using for my new project, the third in a series of silk-paper lamination art quilts.

I traced some of the flower-shapes onto transparency plastic and used my trusty overhead projector to enlarge the design, so I could trace onto paper:

You can’t really see the traced design that well as it’s in pencil, but this is what it looks like on the dining room table, the transparency plastic is on the lower right-hand side:

Now I’m filling in the design with ripped up bits of photocopies of the photos of the Parry’s Penstemon, I think it’s looking OK so far:

More later. Back to ripping up paper and gluing it down. Too hot to do anything outside so might as well!

All Bound Up

Some of you may remember this: my mitre saw, and my plan last spring to build stretcher bars and frames for some of my small art quilts:

Well….I was almost able to do it. I need more time (and patience) to learn how to do some basic woodworking. Not exactly impossible….but not practical now. So the other day I dyed some black/gray fabric for the quilt binding, and officially finished this 19″ x 22 1/2″ piece, called A Poppy Dance. I should point out that silk coated in acrylic gel medium is highly reflective, so there’s a bit of shine here from the camera flash:

Likewise, this same-sized art quilt, Prickly Pear Pieces, was treated the same way with a tidy binding; if I hadn’t decided to do so,  this too would sit around waiting for my remedial woodworking skills to miraculously improve beyond what I remember from High School Shop class. And I don’t remember much, except building an ashtray  (that dates me!):

I brought both to my parent’s restaurant yesterday, where they’ll be put on the wall: I hope they sell!

Prickly Pear Jam: Yum!

When it’s really hot, hibernation mode sets in here in Tucson. Not only has it been hot–normal for June–but unusually windy–not normal. I’ve been inside finishing the prickly pear piece and watching endless baseball games courtesy MLB Extra Innings, the satellite TV package which costs about $200 and which allows you to watch out-of-market games. I think baseball is the perfect counterpoint to sewing, personally.

Last time I posted, I was machine quilting; when the quilting was done, this is what the edge of the prickly pear piece looked like: a top, batting and muslin backing sandwich:

This piece will not have a traditional binding; once the quilting was done, I carefully cut around the prickly pear shape and zig-zagged with a greenish thread around the cut edge to keep the top, batting and muslin backing together:

This is how it looked after that:

I again used a zig-zag stitch, this time using polyester invisible thread, to couch the silk cord over the prickly pear pad shapes that were on the edge of the piece, this would be my “binding”:

Here’s what the finished edge looks like:

And, while you can’t see much difference between this shot of the whole piece and the one above, this is how it looks finished:

Complete measurements of Prckly Pear Jam: Yum! are 26″ x 26″. I’m just putting on a hanging sleeve today; I hope to have this hanging in my parent’s restaurant this week, along with a couple other pieces.

Machine Quilting…

Just started quilting the prickly pear piece, it’s looking pretty good!

Got started sewing right after work and after picking Bearbear up from the vet; he got his teeth cleaned today under anesthesia. He’s a bit disoriented; but he smells like other dogs and people. Annie, our 14-year-old pit-bull-coyote mix friend, stayed overnight with us; she’s quite fond of Bearbear.

One of the Best Daily Show Episodes

Last Thursday Jon Stewart’s program was one of the best entire episodes, ever:  (watch it here). Great coverage to the Anthony Wiener sex-pics scandal (warning: there is a cotton-covered junk shot), he did a super interview with Bill Moyers and had a pizza epiphany as he provided viewers with a guide to NYC’s best pizza parlors.


Couching Potato

I’m looking ahead to a long hot summer here in Tucson; save for a week in July in Wisconsin, I’m here for the next 3 months of tedious non-stop heat.

So, given that I’ll be spending a lot of time indoors (sewing, what else) I ordered MLB Extra Innings from Direct TV, which means I can watch an insane amount of baseball while I sew.  I really have a hard time just sitting down and watching TV; I generally need to be doing a task with the TV on. Only the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, a handful of great TV shows (The Wire, Rescue Me, Battlestar Gallactica, Big Love, Dead Like Me)  and a few brilliant movies are an exception to this no-couch-potato-rule in my home.

Yesterday I was able to watch a Red Sox/Oakland from Fenway and  a Giant’s/Rockies game. This is what I got done, shut in against the heat with the TV on and my pedal to the….sewing machine:

Everything is couched with yarn or silk cord. For a nice example of good couching technique check out this nice fiber-arts blog here.

This is a close up; I’m leaving some of the white from the glue-resist technique, I think it’s a nice effect, there’s not too much of it:

I just started peeling the stabilizer off the back; you can see all the knots I’ve tied!

Tomorrow night I’ll start quilting it; then I’ll cut it around the prickly-pear shaped edges, zig-zag it down around the edges, and finally put yarn or cord down over the zig-zag stitch for a different and unconventional binding.