What do you pay attention to?

I don't know why, but on our recent road trip I started noticing fire hydrants. I realized that I have a mental image of what a fire hydrant looks like – it's red and shaped like a fire hydrant! This one that I saw in St. Louis has the right shape but the color is wrong. 

Hydrant-StLouis

In Chicago the color is right (red) but the shape is wrong.

Hydrant-Chicago

The more places we visited, the more hydrants I noticed. I must not be alone in this. At least one artist in Burlington, VT, pays attention to hydrants too.

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In NYC this hydrant wore basic black with silver accents.

Hydrant-NYC

This hydrant on the Johns Hopkins campus in Baltimore could use some paint – or ivy.

Hydrant-Hopkins

Last week in Knoxville I walked past this cheerful one every day. There was another one nearby that had a green top!

Hydrant-Knoxville

I tell people in my color lecture that it's really important to walk around with your eyes open and to pay attention to what you see. I pay attention to colors and color combinations, shapes, and textures that catch my eye.

What did I learn from these hydrants? Once I realized that all hydrants do not match the image that I have of them in my head, I saw them better. Using an unexpected color for an object in an applique quilt would make it more noticeable.

Art at the Knoxville Convention Center…

The city of Knoxville budgeted in art purchases for their new convention center. They did a good job! Here are two of my favorite pieces:

FromAbove-JoyceCrain-01

From Above
Joyce Crain is known for her collate-like constructions that include fiber, wire, iridescent film, metallic braids, gel filters and other high-tech materials. Her patterned grids were originally inspired by microchips, and have been compared to ancient textiles, Byzantine murals, and other ornamental decoration. From Above is inspired by aerial views of Knoxville, an abstract interpretation of the city as seen from above. Images for the work came from the National Aerial Photography Program, coordinated by the US Geological Society. Materials and colors shift and flicker as the light changes, patterns appear to rise and fall, advance and recede. Colors change tone as they grow luminous and radiate. Crain has used industrial materials in her work since 1976, and utilizes the latest technological innovations. A cross between sculpture and fiber art, the works emphasize interaction with light, movement and change.

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Detail of From Above

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This shot shows the 3 layers.

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To Everything There Is A Season

David Arms is a self-taught artist whose interest is in taking the quilt out of its domestic context. Arms uses metal, screws and wood to create an industrial version of Southern quilting. He spent many hours watching his grandmother recycle old clothes to make her quilts, and as an adult, decided to create a new twist on a traditional form. The use of scrap metal and other discarded items in his work is reminiscent of the old fabric and sacks used in traditional quilts, adding a layer of history to his work. His interpretation of the four season in this work includes such disparate materials as rusted and galvanized metals, screws, bolts, paint, antique papers, cards, books and photographs. His aim is to take remnants of everyday life, and create art suing the same quilting patterns that originated years ago.

There were four seasons. I'm only showing Spring and Summer.

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These are lovely up close.

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Very cool curtain idea…

Bliss Home in Knoxville
was a shop on the walk between the Knoxville Convention Center (where
the show was) and my hotel. This curtain/screen called out to me as I
walked by. Each "string" is made from colorful hand-cut rectangles that
were sewn together with heavy black thread. The strings were long,
ceiling to floor length. At the top the strings were tied to metal rods
that were suspended from the ceiling.

PaintChipCurtain-02

On
closer inspection, the colored rectangles were paint chips! The maker
must have placed two paint chip strips back to back and cut rectangles
from the colored parts.

PaintChipCurtain-01

Isn't this a great idea!

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More from Knoxville…

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Tennessee Quilts is a wonderful shop in Jonesborough, TN, owned by Linda Crouch-McCreadie and Breand Crouch. Their booth at the AQS Show was full of Kaffe fabrics – bright and cheerful. They had a quilt posing as a rug on the floor. It looked great but it was hard to make myself walk on it. Linda had Scotchgarded it though and it was not getting dirty. It's an interesting idea for a floor that doesn't get walked on much.

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There is a lot of good fabric in the vendor mall. This display of rolled, color-coordinated fat quarters at Stitch On Needlework Shop was eye-catching

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HandbehgFelts-02
The ladies at Handbehg Felts had done some festive things with felt beads. I especially liked the "flower" stalks made with heavy galvanized wire, cut felt, and felt beads. Very cute – and they would never wilt!

AQS Knoxville Show…

Knoxville is a lovely city and the AQS Show is full of great quilts, exhibits and vendors. A good time is being had by one and all!

One exhibit that is getting talked about a lot is the Artfull Bras. There are 50 one-of-a-kind "art" bras made by the Quilters of South Carolina to raise public awareness of breast cancer, to remember those lost to the disease, and to honor the survivors. Each artist began with a 36C padded, underwire bra. The design had to completely cover the bra. There wasn't a theme and no two are alike.

FifiAndMimi-MaryKateHorton
Mimi and Fifi by Mary Kate Horton is very touchable – and pointy!

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Hooters by Sherry Sadler is… feathery and has a 1970s attitude.

MonkeyBusiness-AnitaBowen
I'm a fan of sock monkeys to Monkey Business by Anita Bowen was a personal favorite.

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Pastel Party by Judy Twitter is perfect for a Victorian lady don't you think?

Making necklaces…

I got an idea from Heather Bailey's blog. She let her 4-year-old daughter, Charlotte, loose in her good beads. Charlotte did a great job and it made me realize that I've been holding out on 7-year-old Elanor. I've given her "little girl" beads when we all know the big girl beads are way better.

NecklaceMaking-01

I separated my jumbled beads into different colors so that it would be easier for her to see what was there. We used Tiger Tail which is stiff enough not to need a beading needle.

NecklaceMaking-02

She was really careful with the little pans of beads. So who spilled them? I did!

NecklaceMaking-03

She's really happy with her necklace and it looks lovely on her! And, if (when) she tires of it, we can take it apart and use the beads in other projects.

Cupcakes!

In real time, I'm teaching at the AQS show in Knoxville, TN. I may not be able to post so I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you what I was up to last week.

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Jeff, our youngest son, and Celia are getting married on August 15. I'm making the wedding cupcakes and the 8" layer cake that will sit atop the cupcake stand. I thought it would be a good idea to make some test cupcakes. I used the Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe from the Cook's Illustrated website. It is fantastic! You probably have to be a paid member to open the recipe (or opt for the 14-day free trial). Steve and I love Cook's Illustrated so we think it's worth the money.

Cupcake-01

I used big paper cupcake cups. Bad idea – they make too big a portion for the wedding. I went ahead and frosted this first batch anyway. I used the very buttery chocolate frosting recipe that is paired with the Fluffy Yellow Cake. Oh my… this has to be the best frosting I've ever eaten! However, it is soft and way too messy for a wedding reception. Don't want to see chocolate on the bride!

Cupcake-05 

I tried my go-to chocolate frosting recipe (below) from our 1970s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It looks good, tastes great, and sets up so that it isn't messy! Perfect.

We're going to add colorful sprinkles and a second pretty paper cup for the day of the wedding.

Cupcake-06

Fast Fudge Frosting

1 1-pound package confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa (regular-type, dry)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add water and butter; blend. Add vanilla. Frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers.