Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pet Postcards

Pet Postcards
4" x 6" 
Pokey Bolton has organized her second fundraiser for the Friends for Life, no kill animal shelter in Houston, TX.  The donated quilted postcards are sold at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX.  They sell for $20 each, and all the money is donated.  Last year they sold out of all their postcards and raised more than $20,000!!  As a personal challenge, I decided to try to make more than I did last year.  Last year I made 6, with the help of my daughter.  This year, so far, I have 11. The first series, of the dogs, was super fun to make.  I love how colorful they are, and that they use some of my batik fabrics.  I can honestly say that I did not enjoy cutting out the little dog from fabric 7 times, but I love the way it looks, especially the little ears!  Next time, I may consider using a screen printing technique.  But they are fabulous, yes?

And, I made a cat series to go with it.  These were taken from photographs of my cats....which were a litter of rescue kittens that I did not find homes for.  They are named the flying cat boys because late at night they would run and chase each other, practically FLYING over my king sized bed.  All, while I was trying to get to sleep.  Such is the nature of cats. 

I made one image of each cat, and an extra one as a tribute to Smokey.  He died this summer and we miss him so much it still hurts.  He had an operation to remove an object from his tummy that he swallowed.  It was supposed to be routine and a quick recovery.  Instead, his blood didn't clot, and he died within a day of his surgery despite heroic efforts on the part of his health care team at the emergency animal hospital.  It is never easy to lose a pet, and this one was no exception.  We were lucky to know him and to love him.  He will be missed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Color Block Quilt

Color Block Quilt
44" x 43"

I had some batiked blocks left over from this quilt.  Each block is about 19" square.  I took 9 of them, and with a little special cutting....

Here's a photo to show the 9 blocks (after cutting) that I sewed together.  Doesn't look much like a 9 patch, does it?
I decided to use the left over pieces to make a fun back for the quilt.
Some of the pieces were about half the size of the original block, and some were about 3/4 sized.  From all of these I cut 2" strips.
The shorter strips were joined rather randomly to make 6 long strips.  I also added a few solid orange strips because I like the way it looked.   I used half of these along with 4 wider strips of white fabric (about 9" wide, and 45" long) to make this:
(Notice that the top, bottom, and sides look larger than the centers.  That is because I like to make the quilt back larger than the front.  This allows for a bit a slippage during the machine quilting, and is trimmed away later. )After it was stitched, I used the rotary cutter to cut s along the black dashed lines.  Then I inserted the other 3 long color strips to complete the back.
It took about 1 1/2 days to do the straight line quilting and then the red binding.  Here's a closeup for you!
 Fun, easy, bright and cheerful, and fast!  It has added a bit of a facelift to my bathroom.  We already had the strange collection of colorful towels.  I just didn't realize this little quilt would pull the chaos together!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Little Bird

Little Bird
42" x 68.5"

We are so happy that our group quilt, Little Bird, was selected as a finalist in the World of Beauty at the International Quilt Show in Houston this fall! This was our first time to make an improvisational modern quilt as a group project.  It was so much fun!!  See more about our quilt at our group blog, Austin Art Group.  Here's a sneak peak at the back, and a detail of the cute little bird.

We also made a mini version of this quilt.  It was donated to IQA for the auction at the Houston show.  So, if you like it, you might want to consider bidding on it!  It is called Little Bird Too.
Little Bird Too 16.5" x 22"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ikea Moose quilt

Ikea Moose quilt
36" x 44"

 Yeah!  It's finished.  I really enjoyed making this little patchwork quilt, and then adding a simple geometric design to the back.  Now I can't decide which side I like better...
I use 40 different prints and 7 different solids (including the white).  I had fun adding a couple of my own original batiks to the mix.  How could I resist when the colors work so well together?

You can now find it listed in my Etsy Store (shop has been closed).  Until then, I will enjoy having this around, as I continue to change which side is hanging as the front!  Joy!!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Radical Elements, Technetium

Radical Elements, Technetium

Okay, it seems like my first post on this project was just an introduction.  Now I would like to tell you more about it. My element is fascinating!  The teacher in me wants to take a very long side bar to tell you ALL about it, but I fear that I may bore you to tears.  So, I will direct you to the Wikipedia page...if you are interested.  Here are just a few tidbits for you.

1.  It's atomic number is 43, and every isotope of it is radioactive.  That's pretty unusual for such a low atomic weight.
2.  The guy who invented the periodic table, Mendeleev, knew that this element existed even though no one had discovered it yet.  That was in 1871.  So, he left a blank spot in the periodic table for it's eventual discovery.  Smart guy!  And it was discovered!  In 1936.
3.  There isn't hardly any of this stuff left on the planet.  It has all decomposed (radioactively) since the formation of the planet.  Where do we get it now?  It comes as a by-product of other nuclear reactions, waste from spent fuel rods in nuclear reactors.  And it's tricky to get the form of technetium used as a medical tracer. Technetium-99m, has a very short half life, only 6 hours.  So to get it to a medical facility before it decomposes, you have to ship it's parent isotope, molybdenum-99.  And then there are other procedures to separate the technetium from the molybdenum....

And, there is MORE, much MORE!!  Okay, I did warn you I might go off on a tangent here.

Back to the project...
Technetium is injected into the bloodstream and goes straight for quickly dividing cells, i.e., tumors.  It emits low energy gamma rays, which are then detected by gamma ray detectors.  They put one plate above your breast and one below it, and create an image of the tumors, if there are any.  The high density breast tissue appears grey, so it is easy to see real tumors in white (see the middle image).  Also, they don't have to squeeze you with nearly the same pressure as a mammogram.  I think it's about half the weight, or maybe even less.  I would be hard pressed (pun intended) to see the tumor in the mammogram below (left image), all because of the high density breast tissue.
see the research for this image here
For my quilt...
I decided to use a common household light switch.

When the viewer flips the switch, the lights (LEDs) will turn on, to symbolize the medical imaging.  I also wanted to have the switch turn off automatically, so that each viewer gets the experience of flipping it and interacting with the work.  So I made a circuit with a timer on it and turns off the circuit and the lights after about 30 seconds.

This was the HARD part, or I should say, one of the hard parts of the project? The timer circuit has 8 pins.  Why does it need so many?  And, the entire circuit has stuff like resistors and capacitors, and my knowledge of such things has long ago been filed too deeply in my brain to retrieve.  Physics 101, or maybe it was 102? was more than 30 years ago.  How convenient it is that after my rather confusing search on Google, the ex-husband steps in to save the day.  As an electrical engineer, he has all the skills to sketch this out in about 5 minutes, then think and edit for another 5 minutes, and its DONE!  Wow! thank you, thank you!!

I decided to select a population group and represent only a fraction of that population as having breast cancer.  I numbered all the "participants", and used a random number generator to decide which ones would get the lights.  That's why you see the numbers on the circles on this tissue paper sketch.  However, this symbolic act was very disconcerting and troubling.  I couldn't help but think that I would prefer not to put ANY lights on the quilt because we had cured breast cancer.  Am I being a hopeless idealist in this respect?
And, if you look carefully, you will see in a photo above (the one with the light switch cover plate) a tiny label that says Victoria Secrets.  This plan did not work out (as Victoria preferred not to donate any labels to my project).  I wanted to include the labels from Victoria Secrets bras to allude to the 'secret' of what type of breast tissue I have, and others have.  Why would doctors keep this a secret from me?  It just goes to the ingrained paternalistic viewpoints of so many in the medical profession; which is more that a slight irritation to me, it's unconscionable.  If you get well checks, and mammograms, ask your doctor if your breasts are high density or not.  More information gives you more choices and more power over your health!  My doctor did not even know what Molecular Breast Imaging was....sigh.

Last, MBI, may or may not be a useful imaging tool for you.  It comes with risks, as does everything.  However, it should be part of the conversation with your doctor if you do have high density breast tissue.

Hopping off my soap box now, and off to the studio to quilt a little modern quilt with fun colors!
Hope you have a great day!