Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Excuse!

Well! there goes another day and nothing.....Well, the big mistake was reading instead of quilting or carving. You ever pick up a book and start reading, and find that you cannot put the book down? And worse yet, as you near the end you wish there were 100's more pages? Now that's a good book! I always have a book that I am reading. But seldom do I use the book other than to put me to sleep. Yet I still manage to read and finish about 3 books a month. But last night and today I will destroy that average. The book that I am reading is titled CRUEL JUSTICE, by William Bernhardt. You may not hear from me till I finish this book. But then that will be tonight...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Posting - Delayed till Saturday!

No extensive posting today. Too sore! All that ice chopping and snow shoveling done me in. I hurt all over! Even what little hair is left on my head hurts........Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just An Update!

Of course the weather is still the big story here. Ice just about every where. In between the various layers of snow is one inch or more if ice. That's on everything. As soon as the snow stopped yesterday, I started chopping and shoveling the cars and the driveway out. At my age, I am thankful that my wife opened the door and yelled for me to stop and rest after every 15 minutes. However, at that rate it would have taken me until June to get the cars out. I did put in several hours yesterday afternoon, then started out again this morning. After I got about half the drive chopped and shoveled out a neighbor with a snow blade on his truck finished it up for me. I still will have a hard time getting up tomorrow morning. Awe, the joys of getting old.
I did however, get some more work done on several Noah's Arks. Tomorrow I'll finish assembling these four arks. Just have to make the leather hinges for the roofs, and antique the finish on the arks.

I also started "roughing out" the pairs of animals for the arks. These arks will get 16 pairs of hand carved animals each. That's 32 animals per ark. It's a wonder that I still think it's fun to make these.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Birds At The Window

Well, the TV weather folks got it partly right this time. Snow, sleet, rain, ice, and the switching back to all snow. Started out with 3 inches of old snow on the ground. Next we got 2 inches of new snow on top of the old. Then there was sleet and rain, which put about 1/2 inch of ice down on top. Now it's snowing heavy.....The birds are in a feeding frenzy. First photo is of a Downey Woodpecker at out window feeder.
This is my favorite bird, a Carolina Wren. These little birds are the the most curious things around. They are fearless! If I leave a door open to my shop they come in and watch me.
We have a large number of Cardinals that feed at the window too.

This is a Tufted Titmouse. They too are fearless, when it comes to eating.

And the ever popular Chickadee. They are always around.

These window feeders are a lot of fun. The following photos were taken in less than five minutes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Carvings and Whittlins

It's always fun to look back through your photos of what you have done. I share these photos as an example of the types of carving and whittlin that I like to do. I really enjoy carving small stuff, as illustrated in this first photo. These carving are placed on the top of a penny, to show there size. As you can deduce, carving is easier than painting.
These two Gnomes are quite a bit larger. Both stand 6 inches tall. The Gnome on the right I call Napoleon Gnome. The one on the left is Marvin Gnome (from Marvin the Martian cartoon fame).

These carvings are examples of what can be carved from Cottonwood Bark. Cottonwood trees have a very thick bark. Cottonwood trees from out west in the mountains have bark that is up to 8 inches thick. This bark is very easy to carve, and finishes very nice with just wax. I say it's very easy to carve, but I should say it cuts very easily. It is very soft and unlike wood it has no grain. It's very flaky. I sometimes describe carving it as carving wheaties flakes stacked and glued together with a cheap glue.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mini Quilt In A Bag Swap!

This is the mini 20" x 20" quilt that Kelly made for me, for the "Mini Quilt In A Bag Swap". How this worked, was that the participants were paired up. Each pair traded a bag of fabric and trim. And each person had to make a 20" x 20" mini quilt out of the materials sent by their partner. This was a fun swap, even for an ol' man like me. And you can see the big pay off. A super fine little quilt. Thank you Kelly! It's a great little mini.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Step-by-Step Instructions????

I just finished up a communication to the editors of McCalls Quilting magazine. The point of the communication was the lack of clarity in some of the articles that feature step-by-step instructions. The magazine, to its credit, rates the "how to" projects by their level of difficulty. One star is beginner, two star is intermediate, three star is.............I consider myself a solid intermediate. However, others may think otherwise. I like to read all the articles, but pay particular attention to the beginner and the intermediate articles. I have noticed that the writers and/or the editors are increasingly making great leaps between the steps, and leaving out information that is needed by the beginner and the intermediate quilter. Additionally there seems to be a lack of clarifying illustrations that would help the reader. I am sure that an advanced quilter does not need this level of detail, but the beginner and the intermediate level quilter may.

I shared with them a technique that may serve them well. With this technique the writer or the editor would have a person that is at least one level below the articles intended audience read the article, and underline anything that was confusing or they did not understand. Have that same person try to complete the step-by-step instructions precisely as they are written. This done, note where difficulty occurred and make clarifications.

Anyone else have trouble with step-by-step instructions?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This little doll is named "Hitty". Hitty is 6 inches tall. Hitty is a very collectible doll, by lots and lots of folks. This one belongs to my daughter. Several years ago Hitty needed a doll house. Doll house construction always is the responsibility of "dad" or "grandpa". This first photo shows Hitty in her bedroom.
Hitty also has a quilt and fabric shop that takes up the first floor of her residence.
The third photo is of the back of the doll house (the front of Hitty's shop). While this is not quilting or carving, it does illustrate the fact that I like to make small things. All of the items in the photos are hand made, by myself; except Hitty and her dress. My daughter purchased the Hitty and made the dress for her.
From time to time I'll dip back into the files and post up some more Hitty stuff!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Framed Log Cabin Squares

I hope to get some time to finish making some framed quilt squares. As some of you know, this is what I do with "orphan" quilt squares. You know; the left over ones from a quilt top assembly. Here you see some "orphaned" quilt squares, mats to frame them, and the frames themselves. These particular frames are made from salvaged wood from sister-in-laws mill that was built in 1835. I use glass to cover the quilt squares, but did not choose to try and photograph them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Valentines Day Carvings

This little fellow was my first idea for a new valentines Day carving. But, it was pointed out to me that a gnome with a club and a sign that says "BE MINE" is real sensitive.
So, I thought maybe this little Gnome would be a better idea. This little fellow is 3 1/4 inches from the bottom of his feet to the top of his hat.
Both of these are hand carved with the pocket knife that is pictured in the bottom photo. I think that my next Valentines Day carving will be one like the Gnome in the bottom photo, but he'll be opening a big box of candy and offering some to his sweetie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tired Of The Cold!

I am tired of being cold. I am tired of quilting with my fingers cold. I am tired of carving with cold fingers and colder hands. I am tired of flannel lined jeans, and long johns. I am tired of frost and ice on everything. I am tired of wearing a hat outside. I am tired of wearing gloves and my fingers and hands still being cold. I am even more tired of cold feet. I am tired of trying to sleep under 20 pounds of quilts. I am tired of waiting 10 minutes for the car windows to defrost.

But worst of all I am tired of white and gray! Every where I look it's various shades of white and gray. I NEED COLOR! WARM and HOT COLORS. ANY COLORS will do.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Need Suggestions!

One of my carving goals this year is to carve more wizards and gnomes in scenes similar to this one. Any one willing to help me out with some suggestions?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some Wood Quilts

Sometimes the line between my quilting and woodworking gets a bit blurred. This first photo of a wood quilt is framed with salvaged wood from an old mill in Northeastern Ohio. In fact this wood quilt presently resides at the restored mill house.

This second photo is of yet another wood quilt. A variation of the Ohio Star, for an avid Ohio State University graduate and fan.

The final four wood quilts were made as a commission for a local customer. The wood quilts are assembled with multiple smaller squares of wood. The making of these wood quilts is very similar to the making of a fabric quilt. Consider the following comparisons:

Sewing machine...........Table saw
Sheets of wood.............Fabric
Straight edge.................Straight edge

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Surprise!

This morning we got a big surprise. During the night the furnace took a "time out". The outside temperature was below zero, and the inside temperture felt like the same. After checking the furnace I found that the pilot light was out. Relit the pilot light, and everything was OK, and still is. Fingers are crossed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some Of My Favorite Projects

Looking back through some pictures of projects that I have done, I decided to share some of my favorites. These photos are in no particular order. I have done lots of Noah's Arks, but this has to be one of my favorites. The animals are baically finished natural.
This is a blanket storage cabinet, in the Shaker style.

The final two photos are of a computer cabinet. I think computers and all the wiring and stuff that goes with them can be hidden, when not in use.

There's lots of room in this cabinet for everything you need when on the computer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stash Cabinet?

Several years ago I made this unit for a local Quilt Shop to use as a Fat Quarter display. The shop is going out of business and I'll get the unit back. It's a two piece unit. Do you think it would make a decent fabric stash cabinet? And some sort of work area?
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Wednesday Missed Posting!

I missed my daily posting yesterday. But I missed it for a good reason. I spent the day composing my letter of request to be sent to the federal government. I wanted to make sure that I got my request prepared and mailed in for my part of the BAILOUT monies.

After all, if the banks and the auto companies get BAILOUT money, why shouldn't I. Shoot! they didn't manage their businesses nearly as well as I have managed my retirement....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Valentines Day Coming!

February 14th is always Valentines day. Why does it always "sneak up" on me and surprise me? Well not this year! Being the sensitive and sentimental guy that I am, I am ready with a sensitive little two inch carving.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ice and Snow!

In central Ohio our weather is always (well almost always) less severe that in southern and northern Ohio. The first photo was taken Sunday morning. Everything was covered with about 1/4 inch of ice. Was quite pretty to look at, especially when all I had to do was drink coffee.
Same scene just a few minutes ago on Monday morning. About one inch of snow on top of the ice. Still very pretty to look at. In southern Ohio I think it was all rain both days. While in northern Ohio we're talking over a foot of snow.
Me, I am off to the shop to work on some Noah's arks, and pairs of animals.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quilt vs Comforter

Ask me if I know the difference between a quilt and a comforter. Well, I do now. When I put this quilt top and batting together with the backing fabric I thought I was assembling a quilt. When I loaded it on to the Ulmer quilting frame I thought I was making a quilt. When I threaded the #10 needle and made my first stab, I was still thinking I was making a quilt. When I tried to put two quilt stitches on the needle I began to have some doubts. When I looked at the "quilting" after several squares were quilted somewhat "in-the-ditch" I knew I was not making a quilt - I was making a comforter. You see, the batting that I choose was an old piece left over from who knows what. You might be able to see in the photo that the batting was way too thick. The stitches cannot be very close together. And you cannot believe how "puffy" this lap comforter is. If I ever finish this "lap comforter", it will be warm.
But from now on I'll pay more attention to the quality and the thinness of the batting.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


My daughter has a dog. The dogs name is Cooper. Cooper is a Berger Picard, or as some prefer a Picardy Shepard. These dogs come from the Picard region of France. Most will remember him as the kind of dog that starred in the movie "Because Of Winn Dixie". There arn't very many of his bred in the country, so most folks don't know what he is. This first photo is a baby photo. His one ear wasn't up the way it's supposed to be.
He's got both ears up now. Still a little puppy.

As you can see, Cooper is a bit older now. And bigger! And stronger too.

Here he is on Thanksgiving day 2008. He's about 60 pound now, but hopefully will not get much larger. He's huge now. This photo is included to show Coopers natural "bimbo style" frosting/dye job. I am told that this laying position is a preferred position of the bred.
Another photo from November 2008, at daughters birthday "party". Cooper like to open presents too, but is satisfied to just shred the wrapping paper.
You can see that Coop takes up a whole section on the couch.

Tell me! does this dog look like he resembles any of the following traits: Intelligent, alert, energetic, lively, spirited, loyal, adaptable, calm, stubborn. willful, detached towards strangers, and barks a lot. From what little time I have spent with cooper, I think he has all the traits......Some more than others....The Picardy Shepards were bred to herd sheep and for guarding. Cooper's speciality is the Frisbee!

Wooden Quilts

The Tuesday morning carving group that I meet with at the Senior Center, occasionally carves 5 inch squares and when we finish nine of them I place them into a frame. This is our idea of making a "quilt". In fact, lots of wood carving clubs across the county make these wooden quilts.
This 5 inch "quilt" square is my contribution to the next wooden quilt.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

While my quilting finger rests, I decided it was time to begin to make several Noah's Arks. Yesterday I cut out enough animals for two arks. These "cutouts" will now have to be carved. Today I began to make four arks. The arks that I am making are very similar to the one in the photograph. The photograph is of an ark and animals that I won in our carving club raffle. While I did make the ark, and carve the pigs and Mr and Mrs Noah, the other club members all carved the pairs of animals. I believe that there are 52 pairs of animals. My carving club is the COLUMBUS CHIPPERS, and this was an annual money making raffle.

The Noah's Arks and animals that I will make will be for some art festivals this spring and summer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sore Finger! Help!

It just occurred to me that I have never actually been taught how to make the quilting stitch. I've just read about it and looked at pictures. I don't think I have even watched any one quilt. This is the ULMER frame that I am using.
In my previous posting I mentioned that my fingers were sore. I am right handed, so I use the right hand for the needle. I put the left hand under the quilt. I insert the needle straight into the quilt, until I feel it in the index finger of my left hand. As soon as I am sure the needle has gone all the way through, I rock it back with the right hand while pushing up from underneath with my left hand index finger. In this manner I try to get several stitches on the needle before pulling the thread though. You can see in the photo why my finger is sore. I am obviously doing something wrong, other than not wearing a thimble on the index finger of my left hand. Aren't I? I have tried to use a thimble. It won't stay on, and even if it did, I could not feel the needle to be sure it went all the way through the three layers.
How do you all do it?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lame Duck Bush!

After about three hours of hand quilting my fingers were beginning to leave some DNA on the quilt back. I never have been able to wear a thimble of any other finger protection for the hand under the quilt. I just push the needle until it sticks me. In time those fingers will built up more of a callous. So, as you can see I stopped quilting for a while, and tried to carve a caricature of President Bush. Funny thing! No DNA when using a pocket knife.

I just realized that I am closing in on 100 postings on this Blog. I guess that is supposed to be some sort of benchmark; one is supposed to give away a free car or something.

Monday, January 5, 2009

First Noahs Ark 2009

This year I have vowed to have enough Arks ready for the spring and summer arts festival season. I like to switch between carving and quilting. Totally different hobbies, that involve totally different processes. That way I don't get too tired of doing just one thing. This is the first Noahs Ark of 2009. I'll need lots more.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Day For Some Quilting!

It's a chilly, misty, foggy day! Just waiting for a new cold front to bring some more chilly, and nasty weather. A good day to pull out one of the infinished lap quilts that my daughter did. I'll finish it. I've started adding a border. Next I'll assemble the quilt top with the batting and a back. Then onto the quilting frame, to be ready for some fun hand quilting.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Quilt In A Bag

This is a little tiny part of my QUILT IN A BAG quilt that I just finished. I am not showing the whole thing, cause I want it to be a little bit of a surprise for Kelly, my swap partner. Kelly sent me some fabric and trim, in a bag. And I sent her some too. We both have to use the fabric and trim that was sent to us, by our swap partner. We have to use it in the design and construction of a 24 x 24 inch quilt. We had to use some of each item sent to us, but could add some items of our own. I'll post a photo of the entire quilt, after Kelly receives it in the mail.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Handmade Toys Endangered!

These handmade toys are about to be unavailable for sale. That is, unless I pay to have them tested and certified as lead free (among other things). Last year Congress passed a new law under the Consumer Products Safety Improvement act. This law goes into effect on Feb, 10, 2009.

Yet another well intentioned law that was enacted in a response to the lead in the paints in all too many products being imported from China. Congress has once again confirmed my suspicions that the smartest and brightest avoid running for Congress. How many heirloom quality, handmade toys are going to disappear from small shops? Individual crafters will not be able to afford these expensive tests.