Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tchotchke Tuesday: Space capsule vases

Space capsule vaseOrigin: Antique shop
Cost: $8 for two? $10? I can't keep track of these things.

OK, I know this has nothing to do with space capsules. But doesn't it look a bit like a Mercury command module? It came as part of a pair, which I had to be talked into buying (by the Mother, back when I was living at home, looking for a job, and furnishing the then-imaginary apartment). I'm really rather glad that I did, as the mottled, part-metallic texture is a nice contrast with the mostly smooth finishes on a lot of my stuff. The slight space-age look is cool too, as I'm trying to encourage more of that in the bedroom. Though they feel like they're made for a mantel I don't have, for now the vases are on crappy Ikea bookshelves in the bedroom. (Sorting out the shelves is one of my lingering big projects, but I just have too many bleeding books.) Somehow I haven't managed to find a place for the vases where they don't seem to recede into the background, so they're slowly migrating around the apartment. Orbiting, if you will.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Brothers' quilts

Middle Brother's quilt

Lest we think I'm the only one putting the Mother to use as sweatshop labor, above is the quilt she's working on for Middle Brother and his fiancée. As is probably evident by now, I'm a big fan of aqua, so I love it, and I'm sure Mr. and Mrs. Middle Brother will too. Isn't the Mother something? I can't even count how many different fabrics are in there.

Youngest Brother's quilt

This is the quilt she's making for Youngest Brother—it's Love Beads from The Modern Quilt Workshop (the same book that had the pattern for my Plain Spoken quilt). It's apparently sewn together now, but here it's up on the Mother's design wall in her purpose-built sewing room, the lucky cow. I'll be interested to see what she does with the quilting; I keep forgetting to ask her.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tchotchke Tuesday: Gumby and Pokey salt and pepper shakers

Lord knows I have plenty of it. So I shall endeavor to post on a random objet each Tuesday—my life needs structure.

Gumby and Pokey salt and pepper shakersOrigin: Antique shop in Michigan
Cost: Free—'twas a gift

These salt and pepper shakers, I'm afraid, are not the only presence of Gumby and Pokey in my apartment. In fact, they've penetrated into every room in some incarnation. "Are you a big Gumby fan?" people ask. Well, no, not really (though there was a bit of a phase in high school), but how could I argue with the aqua and orange? It's like they were made for my color scheme. Seeing all the photos up here makes me wonder if perhaps my colors are too schematic, but it's not really that oppressive. It just looks a bit like a HoJo. A HoJo with Gumby and Pokey lounging round the pool.

As a side note, these are the kinkiest shakers I own. Why? Because Pokey's shaped perfectly to—ahem—get intimate with Gumby's leg. See how G's elbow would slide right into the crook of P's neck? A bit like way-back plate tectonics, with all the continents fitting together like a puzzle. I prefer G and P to maintain a bit more personal space.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Foundation-pieced pillow

Chair with my pillow

Okay, it's past my bedtime, but Minty kindly made a post about this here blog, and it seemed a shame for crazy batting hanging out of a quilt top to be the first thing people saw on the page. So here's a pillow I made a couple weeks ago. The print fabric came from Melinamade, which has some great stuff. The pillow belongs on my bed, but in this picture it's blending in a naugahyde chair I scored for $10!

A Day at the Beach quilt

A Day at the Beach quilt

Fresh news from Parentland: the Mother has just finished quilting my practice quilt top, which I made out of Denyse Schmidt Quilts. The color's a bit wonky in the photo (the Father has the same elderly camera I do)--the blue is actually a greeny aqua. The book called for a figure-eight quilting pattern, but this zigzag makes it look like a moving blanket, which I like much better (it works really well with the lava-lamp-like printed fabric on the left end of the center strip). Here's a close-up of the quilting:

A Day at the Beach quilt close up

Despite the Mother's kind offers, I thought I'd better learn how to bind the thing myself, so that's next. And I'm still dragging my feet with sending the Plain Spoken top to Parentland—though from what I hear, the Mother's stack of to-be-quilted projects is starting to tower.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A beautiful family heirloom

Ceramic figure
Back in the seventies, my high-school-aged uncle thought this was a lovely gift for my grandmother. If I remember right, he proudly picked it out and payed for it himself. She, generally a bit more floral in her tastes, nevertheless dutifully displayed the African statuary in her living room for many years. It had become a gag gift by the time I reached an age of sentience, entered regularly into the Christmas white elephant swap. I think it's found its way into various wedding and/or baby showers, too, but somehow my parents ended up with it.

It lived in Middle Brother's room for a while, but it's now found a home in my apartment, where it looks oddly appropriate. With all the strong color around the room, the occasional black accent is help, so the Mother insisted I take it with me when I moved away (she was only too convinced that it looked smashing next to the lamp in the background of the photo; I'm sure her enthusiasm had nothing to do with wanting this thing the hell out of her house). The end table where the figure sits would look empty without it, but with Middle Brother getting married next summer, perhaps the time is nigh to regift such an elegant piece of our family history.

Funnily enough, the Mother and I saw an identical item, priced at $35, in an antique shop. I wouldn't have thought I could get more than a couple bucks! Of course, it wasn't exactly flying out of the shop....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Plain Spoken quilt top finished!

Plain Spoken quilt top
The piecing for my first real quilt is all done! I spread the top out on the bed, and here's what it looks like. I'm so pleased with how it looks—my aging camera doesn't do justice to the different shades (seven greys, six reds, and an orange), but I'm glad I didn't give in to deceptive lighting and leave out some of them.

My mother (a very accomplished quilter) assured me while I was working that everything didn't have to be perfect, and there are plenty of wonky seams on the back, to be sure. But she was right: even without perfect quarter-inch seams, there's a real geometric look to the quilt. It reminds me a bit of the sides of skyscrapers, which might provide some good quilting ideas.

The next step is sending it off to the wonderful aforementioned mother so she can quilt it with her free-motion machine (or is it a long-arm machine? I thought they were the same thing, but apparently not, and I can never remember which is which). She's already got what's technically my first quilt, but it was a super easy design that I'm not really counting. So I'm taking advantage of the cheap sweatshop labor, but what are mothers for? No, of course I don't mean that—my apartment wouldn't be half as lovely without the time and talents of both my parents.

In the meantime, I have my living room floor back! And I can clear the sewing machine and fabric scraps off my kitchen table! That all sounds rather appealing right now, but this quilting thing (as I've been warned) is addictive, and I'm sure the next project isn't far off. The Other already thinks he's getting a quilt next, but greedy-guts here might want another one all for himself first.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Flea market finds

Flea market season is ending, and I just made it back with some good scores. This tea towel was $2! I liked the colors and the design of it, though I'm not quite sure what it's meant to be—is the queen a chess piece? And what on earth does "no yours" mean? May have to do some investigating. Whatever she's on about, this queen has an hourglass most of us can only aspire to. The squares are brill too and something similar could work for a quilt.

I've got a bunch of Queen Elizabeth II stuff in my bathroom, so the towel may live there, but I worry that might dilute the cultivated strangeness of abundant QE2 kitsch. Hmm.

I also picked up a couple of DIY furniture books from the seventies. How to Make Furniture Without Tools has instructions for lots of furnture made from single sheets of plywood, which might be useful if either 1) Lowe's could be trusted to make precise cuts, or 2) I had the space to do my own cutting. More immediately inspiring is Nomadic Furniture. The authors say that some of the projects predate the book by a good twenty years, so the designs run the midcentury gamut. The two tables below were a couple of my favorites from this book, but there has to be a moratorium on tables until I'm in an apartment with more floor space.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Suitcase table

I was flipping through Home Cheap Home (by the editors of the now-defunct Budget Living magazine) with the Other a while back and found the suitcase table project you see above. I've had this suitcase from my mum's middle school luggage for some time now (she had a bit of a tantrum at the time because she didn't get the matching train case, which her mother declared impractical), and I snagged these taper legs out of somebody's trash this summer.

This promised to be one of my quickest furniture projects to date, but typically, the bolts on the ends of the legs did not have a standard thread, so two trips to different hardware stores yielded no suitable nuts (har har, he said nuts). Eventually I just drilled through the suitcase, shoved the bolts through the holes, and sunk some screws into the legs to secure them. And it's lovely, no? The bangs and bruises just add to the history.

Of course, I've no more room for furniture. The table will hold my printer for now, Youngest Brother may inherit this little avocado number when he goes away to college, as I'm told he's planning a green and brown color scheme.

Plain Spoken progress

Finished piecing the quilt rows together late last night and took this picture before I stacked the rows to reclaim my floor. I still need to press the seams and get the rows sewn together, but I've spent the afternoon frustrating myself by trying to fashion a Palm Pilot Notebook (perfect for the MacBook-deprived) without using a soldering iron. Alas, I am foiled. Soldering is next on the list of techniques to learn.

I checked on Flickr to see what other people had done with the Plain Spoken pattern (links below). They make me want to do a bunch of other ones in different palettes, but I'll probably try something new for the next quilt. Particularly since I had to rely on my marvellous mum for solid fabrics—there's not a quilt shop to be had in this town!

The second link shows a quilt with some patterned fabric thrown in, which makes for an intriguing variation.

Blues, creams, and browns
Two different versions by hey skinny
Autumnal colors
Bright and cheerful on Dioramarama

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Plain Spoken quilt

I've been working for a couple weeks on the Plain Spoken quilt from The Modern Quilt Workshop. I'm rather pleased with how it's shaping up, if I do say so, though if I were to make it again I might use less red. I spent about two hours crawling around on the floor this morning trying to get rid of color adjacencies—it's like visual sudoku. At least, I think it is, but I've never played sudoku, so maybe I'm talking bollocks. Anyway, I need to get the blocks sewn together so I can have my living room back and stop treading all over the fabric. So far the mice thankfully haven't thought it fit to nibble on.

The blocks laid out with no red touching red and none of the same greys touching. When it's all sewn together, the lines will be nice and straight (that is, assuming my piecing was accurate, which is a big assumption). If I only had a design wall...sigh. At least there was enough floor space.

Welcome to my apartment!

There's a story behind everything in my apartment, so I have to warn anyone who comes in to shut me up before I carry on forever. Of course, everyone's too polite to stop me. But on this site, I shall blither to my heart's content about things I've made or bought (usually secondhand) for the apartment—I hope you enjoy it, but I'll try not to be offended if you move along to another part of this vast interweb.