Coin Toss 1 – My Three Cents’ Worth

This morning, the sun is shining in Sonoma County for the first time in a number of days. It has been a long beginning of the year here, with lots and lots of rain, wind, trees down, power outages, mudslides, potholes, road closures and flooding, after several drought years during which we all forgot that these things happen. It will be nice to dry out a bit. Perhaps we will get in a hike tomorrow, while the sun still shines!

With my morning coffee, I enjoyed  Ann’s post about the beginnings of her Chinese Coins project. I’ve also gotten started on the AHIQ challenge involving Chinese Coins. In keeping with my promise to myself to limit myself to only materials on hand, I chose a set of various colored shot cottons I’ve had sitting around for awhile now. This fabric is quite a bit lighter weight than most of the quilting cottons I have been working with, and it occurred to me it would be a good material to use for some hand-quilting practice, so that is part of the present plan. I find myself in need of a “slow sewing” project.

I started thinking about stacks of coins, and how in traditional Chinese or Roman Coins quilts the stacks are very regular and straight, and the coins usually of a uniform size. But this is AHIQ, and I imagined my stacks as sort of irregular and wobbly.  I chose five colors for the coins, and found I had plenty of the sort of gray-beige neutral (I think it was called “mushroom”) to use for the background/negative space relief. First off, I made some wide strip sets, each with a color in the middle and background on the sides, and cross-cut them to make the individual coins. I eyeballed the measurements, so the coins would be variable in size. I sorted all the strips into three piles of equal numbers of strips, trying to distribute the colors fairly evenly. Then I stitched them together more or less randomly into three stacks. I say more or less, because I did not allow two adjacent coins to be the same color, and I began and ended each stack with colors different from each of the others.


old-ccWhile I was sewing them together, I kept thinking about actual Chinese coins and how I always liked the shape of them. I have some on top of an old sewing basket that I’ve had since the 1970s. When the wobbly coin stacks were done, I proceeded to make three blocks with this coin shape.


These are fused applique, with the edges turned under. I would like to add some Chinese characters like the ones on my actual coins, and am thinking how I might do that. Now, these three coins made my thoughts turn to all the meanings of coins; coin toss to decide a question; three coins in the fountain; small change; changes. This led me to thinking how three coins are thrown to generate the hexagrams of the iChing oracle. I formulated a question and threw three coins, three times, resulting in the three hexagrams, and made a block representing each of these.hexagrams

This is where I came to a stop, and turned to another project that was needing to be done. All these parts are hanging on my wall, where I see them every day, and I am waiting for them to tell me how they want to be arranged.

Butterflies in January?

Ann at Fret Not Yourself put up the link for Kaleidoscope of Butterflies and that gives me an excuse for a somewhat, but mostly not related post.

After a year of doing the weekly Made on Monday challenge, I found I was ready for a change of pace. Right now, there are a lot of people doing daily art, daily writing, or one thing or another on a regular routine basis. It’s very popular and arguably good advice for people who want to improve their art. As much as I enjoyed the MoM challenge, and as proud as I am of myself that I completed the whole year (and then some), I also chafed at the restraint more than once along the way.

And I’ve tried doing a sketch a day in my sketchbook, but darn it, I just don’t always want to. Same with keeping a journal, which I have attempted on and off since college.  I never developed that habit despite the fact it’s been in vogue for most of my adult life.

I follow Kathleen Loomis’ blog Art with a Needle, and have enjoyed her daily art adventures very much, but none of them are particularly in my wheelhouse. However, early in January, she did a post about an online class in Photoshop Elements, which is a program I have been itching to obtain and learn. I love taking photographs and even more I love messing with them. So, I checked out the web site for the course at The Pixeladies. This is a course in the basics of PSE, but with a focus for quilters (or really any other artists). What a blast! I like the platform, and the instruction is complete, clear and do-able, in small chunks. I am already beginning to see how I might be able to use PSE to create my own fabrics, thence my own unique quilts.

We learned how to do some very useful things, in the way of correcting deficiencies in the photos, adjusting light and contrast, straightening horizons, improving sharpness. But it’s the random surprising results you can get by combining filters and adjustments that is really fun for me. I made a nine patch out of a screen grab of some Kaffe Fassett stripes fabric:kaffe-stripes-1

I practiced adding quilting lines to a work in progress that’s not yet ready for prime time. I created a layer that was just some design lines based on an underlying photograph that I have been contemplating rendering in cloth.

I posterized my cat, Beastie!


And for my final exam, I worked up three different versions of a very bad-looking photo I took of 100 shell buttons arranged on my cutting mat.

buttons-for-web buttons-ink-outlines button-grid-glass-blocks-with-distortion buttons-cutout-abstract

I like that last one best by far. I’m enrolled for the PSE Essentials II course and am looking forward to that. There is so much packed into this program that I would never have figured it out for myself, given a million years of trial and error (which is how I usually learn new programs). So I’m stoked and thankful to Kathleen Loomis for the hot tip – this is actually something I might do on a regular basis (but maybe not daily).

And finally, did someone mention butterflies? Here’s one of the images I produced during this course, from a photo I took some years ago of an almost ubiquitous butterfly in Costa Rica called the Banded Peacock.


LInking up with Kaleidoscope of Butterflies! Happy Groundhog Day!