Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chocolate Museum, Köln

It's so exciting to see that, even in the middle of what is for many a very full month, we're finding time to blog about our new theme. OK, it doesn't hurt that the theme is chocolate!

I spent a few hours on Saturday at the chocolate museum in Köln, Germany. I took lots of pictures and notes to blog about. Instead of posting it all in two places, I decided it might just be easier if readers came over to my personal blog to read it.

So, in deference to the historical nature of my post, make yourself a hot chocolate and come on over here to dip your toes in the pool of chocolate knowledge out there.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Progress Too

After reading Helen's progress, I thought I'd share mine. After our first quilt, you know, the one where I had a sudden idea early on and then pondered if I had spent enough time researching, sketching, and developing? Well the exact same thing has happened to me again. As happened last time, I didn't think of the idea immediately after learning our theme word. But I didn't spend countless hours in thought and research either. One day, it hit me...deja vu? So the day it hit me, I got out my sketchpad and drew out my idea. I've been looking at my idea off an on as it hangs on my design wall. So far I still like it and I hope I can do it justice when it comes time to create it. Oh......and I'm sooooo glad we have extra time to get this one done.

Progress so far

This blog has gone pretty quiet so let me tell you where I have got up to so far. Basically I have been thinking up ideas, doodling in my 12 x 12 journal then going off them!

So first I was haunted by the line 'Life is like a box of chocolates' from Forest Gump. Deciding early on that I could be inspired by chocolate without making a brown quilt, I got to a grid, probably very colourful with bonded shapes in the grid the shapes of Milk Tray chocolates. Only instead of the identifying squiggles of chocolate would be 'life' symbols. Mmmm, maybe still a goe-er.

But then began to research chocolate and considered a portrayal of Questzalcoatl, the Aztec God who brought chocolate to earth from the heavens. Maybe a muli-media version. That is made partly with chocolate wrappers....

Or - this as I watched a TV commerical about hair dyes named after chocolate flavours - how about Turkish Delight - all minarets and veils and well, collaged Turkish things. An fully formed vision of that came immediately to mind, but it was never going to fit into a 12 x 12 format and in any event was beyond my capabilties at the moment so back to the doodling book....

So, how about chocolate dipped things. A whole quilt made of chocolate dipped orange segments. More doodling, then.... POW!... another idea, a really fun idea, a more lateral thinking, word related idea......which is secret for now becuase it is my current favourite. Let me just say, it involves the pillow book of Sei Shongagon and more blue than chocolate brown.....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chocolate fabric

I decided that the researching (and tasting) stage was over, and that it was time to start with something more fibre related.
This is some chocolate fabric that I dyed a few days ago... The next step will probably be silkscreening.
In the meantime, I'll keep on eating small pieces of dark chocolate from time to time, don't worry for me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Brenda and Diane in California

No, it's not the most flattering picture of either of us, but it IS proof that Brenda and I (and our husbands and my daughter) got to spend a lovely evening together last night! Brenda and David are in the US visiting family and friends for Christmas, and we are lucky that they have various friends in our area as well as a brew pub David particularly likes. (I steered Brenda toward my local fabric store, just a block away from the brewery, and I hear she managed to find a few pieces to take away with her...)

We enjoyed dinner and wine and lots of conversation. The subject of quilts came up, of course. We could have talked for ages and ages, I suspect.

It was lovely.

And to all of you 12x12 buddies: you have an open invitation to dinner (and accomodations if you don't mind family and animals) if you make your way to Sonoma County!

Research in San Francisco

I've been doing some serious theme research whilst vacationing in San Francisco. In addition to stocking up on some See's Candies (Nuts and Chews are my favourite), I found some yummy chocolate stout at Rogue's Brewhouse and chocolates galore at Ghiaradelli Square:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Choccie Texture

Hi guys!
I saw this today and thought of you! (are the rest of you as flummoxed as I am??)
As well as looking completely delicious, these are just SO pretty!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

German Chocolate

Only three days left until Erste Advent, which in Germany means that all Christmas preparations are in full swing. Depending on your family, you have either already baked a million cookies to be eaten starting the first weekend of Advent, or you will start a month long baking marathon beginning on the first Advent. The Christmas Markets are set up and almost ready to open, and the stores are fully stocked with the requisite decor, candles, Glühwein, cookies, and CHOCOLATE!

I kicked myself tonight because, as I walked out the door, I opted not to bring my camera. Who needs their camera to go grocery shopping? I went to the big grocery/everything store for the first time in months and as I stood looking at their entire aisle devoted to chocolate (candies and cookies are in another aisle) I soooooo wished I had my camera. THEN I turned the corner and found the giant display devoted to the specifically Christmas chocolates. There were Russian Mastroishka shaped chocolates, chocolates with gold strings to hang on your tree, cinnamon and apple chocolates, cardamon and almond chocolates, liquor-filled chocolates of many varieties, all sizes of chocolate Santas, chocolates specifically for kids, chocolates with toys inside, big bars, little truffles, nougat, white, dark, milk, and on and on. I may have to go back just to take a picture. Here's a bit of what I brought home. I still need to go to the little neighborhood store for my favorite chocolate covered cardamon and cinnamon almonds.

Clockwise from the left: Ritter Sport: delicious little squares packed with rich chocolate and a wonderful variety of not-too-exotic flavors; Lindt Nougat: this one's ready to hang on the tree (they also come shaped as moons, bells and pinecones); Sarotti "Schwartze Herren (black men):" you probably can't read the text at the bottom, but it says "pour Messieurs." I couldn't pass that up for the men on my Xmas list; and last, but not least, two varieties of chocolates filled with Asbach Uralt brandy -- do your Santas carry bottles?

The chocolate museum in Köln features a lot of Sarotti chocolate and I'm trying to figure out a day to get up there before our challenge is over. Sarotti's logo is two Moors, so I'm pretty sure the Schwartze Herren is a play on words refering to them.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cocoa Couture

I am indebted to one of my loyal blog readers for drawing my attention to the Chocolate Couture Collection in Canada. I then came across this (much faster loading) video of the 2007 Haute Chocolate Couture Collection in New York. Do you think we can have our quilts and eat them too?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Deborah & Terri in Houston

It was such a delight to meet Terri in Houston! Terri Stegmiller and Deborah Boschert in the Misty Fuse booth at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.

I'm looking forward to meeting more of you in "real life." I'm also wondering how many of you have met each other in person. I know Diane and Terry and Gerrie know each other. And I know Kristin met Gerrie when she went to Art Quilt Tahoe. Anyone else?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wrapped up in art quilting

I have discovered tonight that it is perfectly possible to quilt using Lindor Irresistibly Smooth Milk Chocolate truffle wrappers as fabric. I am considering extending this theme to a king size bed quilt accordingly! However, I have also discovered that photographing the shiny wrapper was a royal pain in the butt because of course it reflects the light. A problem as I am now inspired to so something 'multi-media' with the wrappers but would hate the work not to show up in a photo. This is my best attempt. (Taken without flash obviously). Any tips anyone?

I am prepared to undertake additional research to see if other wrappers have a more matt effect if that is what it takes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Do you know about Mole sauce? It is a famous sauce used in Mexican cooking that contains chilis and chocolate. It is something you must eat if you visit Oaxaca and it is divine! I searched my pictures of Oaxaca and couldn't find any specifically of mole, though they sell it in the markets. It looks like a huge pile of black mud and they will scoop you out a big plastic bag full to take home and cook up to serve over enchiladas or chicken. I did find this photo of a chocolate shop in Oaxaca that advertises "mole negro" (black mole).

Those are roasted cacao beans in the tubs and everything on the shelves is something made from chocolate.

As I am thinking about this challenge I keep going back to Mexican chocolate and the Aztecs and Toltecs and chocolate with chilis or chocolate with cinnamon. Gotta get a little color into that brown scheme!

Milk or Dark?

Which one are you? Me, I'm a dark fan. But will on occasion eat some milk chocolate. It actually works out well in our house as my hubby likes milk and I like dark, so if we have an assorted bag of chocolates, we each get some.

Oh, and guess what, I'm in luck! On this site: they say that dark chocolate is the better choice for your health.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Well, Francoise, if you wanted to create a CHALLENGE you certainly have succeeded! I have been thinking and thinking and thinking, (oh and eating and eating and eating!) and I haven't conjured up a single image that is anything more than a tragic cliche!
This is going to be a very interesting project.

It's been fascinating to see the amazing flavours that you have all found. The only one that I have already tried is the chili chocolate but, given my dislike of chili, I won't be trying it again.

We are BIG chocolate fans in this house (yes, pun intended) and we are also chocolate snobs. Our newest finds are chocolates by Brisbane chocolatier Peter Mayfield in Australian "bush" flavours - kakadu plum, wattle, lemon myrtle, eucalyptus. Delicious and unique - I can't even describe some of them, there is nothing to compare them to. We gave out boxes of them at our company launch a few months ago and they were a big hit.

But none of this Chocolate Passion is getting me any closer to a quilt...

Ooh, writing the word "passion" does remind of something else. Do you non-Australians know Tim Tams? They are an Australian chocolate biscuit that have the honour of being considered a National Treasure. Two layers of rectangular biscuit with a creme filling, then all is coated in chocolate. The favoured way to eat them is with coffee as follows :
Nibble the chocolate away from two opposing corners of a Tim Tam, exposing the biscuit.
Dip one of the open corners in hot coffee and simultaneously suck hard on the other open corner.
Within about five seconds, the whole of the creme layer will explode into your mouth as a molten chocolate/coffee mix.

Poetically known as The Chocolate Orgasm.

(I just found a wikipedia entry for Tim Tams and they called it a Tim Tam Slam. NEVER heard that EVER. Only Chocolate Orgasms.)

They're messin' with the good stuff

Bacon and chocolate? Oh my. And did you know there is lavender flavored chocolate?

Chocolate with pumpkin and sunflower seeds?

With rosemary? I love that herb, but I sure don't want it in my chocolate...

And then there are rosehips ... Wait, aren't those what you get after you eat too much chocolate?

I even found this -- curry flavored chocolate.

And chocolate that looks like sush!

Me, I'm a purist. Give me good, creamy milk chocolate and I'm happy.

Chocolate thoughts

You all seem to be going top end with your chocolate. Meanwhile I have been playing word association with chocolate in the hopes of getting inspired. It has backfied becuase all I have in my mind now is the annoying little ditty from the advert for Cadbury's Roses chocolates. I don't know if the the advert has travelled to all your countries but the idea is the you would give a box of Roses as a thank you gift so the TV adverts had a song with changeable lyrics, the essence of which is

"Thank you very much for{da da da da} thank you very much, thank you very, very much..."

For the tune you can go to here and press 'Play the advert'. Or for an Australian version try here

As you will find out, this is not a good thing to have in you head. Although it has led to two thoughts:

(a) Given that this an international group is it better that the inspriation behind a quilt 'travels' i.e is universally understood. Or, it is a good thing that the viewer will learn about UK only sources of inspiration. Or, in the alternative do you even care?

(b) My favourite quilt title so far is 'Feeding William' ( the freckled child actors's goldfish) (Insert in song above!) second choice 'Being grandma.'

(c) I need to (1) keep thinking and (2) get out more. Like to a chocolate shop

By the way, if you go to Green and Blacks you can fill in a questionnaire with a chance to win a chocolate hamper.

More research

My sister is a big fan of the super fancy chocolate brand called Vosges. (I'm so pedestrian that I don't even know how to pronouce it.) They have a new chocolate bar called "Mo's Bacon Bar." As you can see here, it includes deep milk chocolate, bits and pieces of applewood smoked bacon and a sprinkling of Alder salt.
Ummm. Yuck.

Friday, November 9, 2007

In the name of research

If I still lived in Balmain, I could pop into my local chocolatier Belle Fleur that produces chocolates every bit as fine as those I tasted in Bruges. Instead I can only indulge in low-calorie, online research:A perusal of the slide show on their gallery page shows that chocolate comes in all shapes and colours. We have lots of scope! And, for a touch of fire, why not try some of Lindt's Excellence Chilli Chocolate:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dandelion Quilt Gallery

Our collection of dandelion-inspired art quilts can now be viewed on the gallery pages of the Twelve by Twelve website:

If you would like to add the website button to your sidebar, here is the code that you can cut and paste:

<a href=""><img src="" title="Twelve by Twelve:The Website" /></a>

The button looks like this:

As always, please do not hesitate to e-mail me if you require assistance with the button code or if you notice something is not working on the website.

24 November Update: The image url for the website button was updated today and you may need to update your code accordingly so that the button shows up properly in Firefox.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Thinking about chocolate.
Christmas before last we spent the holidays in Ecuador where our daughter was living at the time. We spent several days at a resort in the rain forest called Arasha. One of the activities that was offered there was a workshop on making chocolate, starting from scratch with raw cacao beans. It was very interesting and a fun way to spend an afternoon, plus we got to eat the finished product, which was warm chocolate poured over fresh bananas. Really good! Here is my husband with his chocolate treat.

You can see more pictures and read about the process on our Ecuador blog here:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A new theme...

As everyone seems to be ready for it, here is our new theme:


I hope you'll enjoy researching on this subject, but don't eat too much of it!

We have three months this time, right?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thank You!

I can't even express to you all how excited and delighted I've been to check the blog all day and find all of the gorgeous and different Dandelion entries in our first challenge! I *knew* this would be a wonderful and inspirational group. I'm also rather thrilled that we have all been so eager that all twelve of posted our quilts on the first of our "timed release" dates! I so appreciate the enthusiasm with which you have jumped into this challenge.

So, thank you ALL for contributing these pieces. They show such talent and creativity and skill. I know I'll be looking back at these quite often.

I'm honored to have my work among yours and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next!

Nikki's Dandelion

Dandelion Wine

Yellow cotton fabric, yarns, glass and seed beads, brads, artificial flowers, raffia, wire, embroidery floss, metallic thread, ribbon, buttons
I took the color yellow and started exploring every kind of embellishment idea I could discover. First I raided my stash at home and then hit every department at JoAnn's. I began by needle felting six different yarns onto a base fabric. I then used embroidery floss to stitch X's and french knots. I next added the beads, brads, buttons and fake flowers. I then sewed on puffs of several other yarns, bits of ribbon and yellow raffia. I then quilted this onto a backing fabric with gold embroidery floss and bound the edges with several yarns. The last touch was the wire swirls and springs. Who said less is more!

Gerrie's Dandelion


Whew!! I have been working and working to get this done and photographed and chronicled on my blog. You can see the complete process there. It has a base of over dyed cotton which I discharged using Soft Scrub. I made thermofax screens from a photograph. I altered it in Photoshop and made it in 3 different sizes. I stitched it with variegated hand-dyed Perle cotton.

I love all the pieces that have been posted. It truly shows our individuality and showcases our unique creativity. Can't wait to hear what Francoise has in store for us.

Oh MY Goodness... I REALLY feel as if I'm in over my head! Your quilts are truly amazing!! I'm sorry to have been silent for such a long time,too. We've been very very busy with a new business. Anyway, to the quilt -

Well, the first thing I had to do was overcome my dislike of dandelion yellow. I failed. I enjoy looking at it, but working with it was just too stifling. Besides that, I realised that my favourite stage of dandelions is when they have lost all of their seeds and are left green and alone.

While I was thinking about this project I went through a week of having an old favourite R.E.M. cd looping in my car and the words of the song "Wendell Gee" started to merge with the images of dandelions. Suddenly the seeds blowing away became symbolic of freedom, abandonment and even death. I'm not sure I can even articulate my feelings, but there is such a beauty in the concept of flying into the wind. It could even be seen as a metaphor for our lives (anyone who knows me and my husband knows that we are 50% gypsy and we move house A LOT)!!

ps apologies for the photo quality (it's blurry AND the darn thing doesn't even look square). I will try to replace this with a better one tonight, but I must get to work!
No time to say goodbye

*Edited* with (hopefully) a slightly better photo - this one is stubbornly difficult to photograph! Thank you all SO much for the lovely, encouraging comments (Deborah, you sweetie!). The lyrics of "Wendell Gee" by R.E.M have me thinking of my son who died very suddenly at home four years ago. James had Down Syndrome and significant congenital heart defects, so we had known for most of his sixteen years that the time would come when he would move on. I must stress, this isn't a painful or sad memory (hard to explain really), more of a recollection of how quick and without warning a soul's departure can be, how fragile that little seed's anchorpoint on the dandelion head really is. Onward we fly, to other things...

PS Looking forward to Chocolate :)

OK, I promise this is the LAST time I will edit this! Just wanted to add that my blog post today has some construction details if you are interested in such things.

Where does all the yellow go?

My quilt started with the title, which at first was little more than a mental wail of desperation. You were all posting pretty photographs of the dandelions in your gardens and I was stuck in inner city London trying to find inspiration and wondering where all the yellow went in cities. Or indeed where the yellow in the petals of a dandelion went when it turned white.

The next week I went on the prowl in city centre Leeds. The answer to the first question became apparent - the only yellow in city centres is in warning signs of all descriptions. Later, feeling philosphical I wondered: what is the point of a dandelion? Maybe it is nature's warning flower. Warning! Life is short and fades. Notice it and enjoy it while you have it!

I snapped away with the camera and particularly liked the crusty texture on the pedestrian crossing sign. The dire warning of death by electrocution was right outside my hotel.
I was rather pleased my developing plan to do a dandelion quilt with no real yellow in as I hate yellow and, at Festival of Quilts in August, even got a friend to try to help me buy yellow fabric to even out my stash. She failed and I sayed in my comfort zone of autumnal shades! However, the weekend after Leeds, I was at the Great Northern Show in Harrogate and spotted this fabric which was so perfect it enabled my to move away from my comfort zone. The buttons just jumped into my hand and got me all excited.

I pieced the three strips of the background and appliqued the photos on with zigzag and monofilament for no other reason than that when I printed them out on one sheet I forgot to space them with a quarter inch all round to allow for piecing!

Each black column has dandelions quilted in monofilament with yellow in the bobbin. Again, by accident, the tension used on a sample allowed occasional tiny bits of the bobbin thread to peek through. I left it like that because it looked to me like the yellow was just at the last stage of disappearing into seed heads. I quilted on the yellow strip following the shape of the flowers.

Originaly I was going to use a photo of the seed head at the bottom of the falling petals but it ruined the balance of the compostion, so I used it as a label instead.

[at present Blogger refuses to upload more photos - I will post the label when it is behaving!]

My first art quilt, first photo printing, first use of monofilament and buttons. Loved the experience. Thanks Diane, bring on the next one Francoise!

Never Say Never!

Piece de Resistance

Despite once declaring otherwise, I was prompted to revisit the shibori-style stitch resist dyeing technique when it occured to me that the larch motif would make a splendid dandelion seed head. In another departure from my usual methods, this piece is hand quilted with concentric circles and radiating lines.

So Exciting!

How thrilling to check the blog today and see such amazing artwork popping up every hour or so. Wow. Here is my contribution.

I used a somewhat improvisational technique of building up a composition of various fabrics. I stitched some. I fused some and some got caught up in the stitching of the piece next to it. I have always been drawn to a layout that is reminiscent of an altar or shrine. It seems like that presented itself here also. Then I added some surface design with the yellow/orange stamped circles and a bit of machine stitching in the shape of a dandelion's spikey leaves. And then -- of course -- the hand embroidery.

I finished with a traditional binding, but gave it some character with a simple blanket stitch extended from the white section on each side -- embellished with a small bead in each stitch. This idea came from "thr3fold" journal, a wonderful publication by Linda and Laura Kemshall.

I am thrilled with this little beaded section. I think it's my favorite element of the whole piece. (I won't tell you my less-than-favorite elements, though that might be an interesting discussion.)

Kristin's Dandelions

I was inspired by all the dandelions that keep popping up through my kids: text books, craft projects, TV shows, seasonal inspiration, poems, etc. I tried to make something that was childlike, but didn't look like I handed the project over to my kids to make (not that they wouldn't have done a great job). Big stitches, button embellishments and ric-rac all seemed to say KIDS to me.

I was also pulled in a completely different direction. While thinking along the lines of "what's a very Kristin thing to do?" I thought of the distorted hexagons I've used before, which led to the traditional "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilts, which led to the title "Grandmother's Flower Garden is Overrun by Dandelions." It was too good to pass up.

The dandelions are very dimensional yo-yos and the Pusteblume are machine thread lace which you can see through.

This is what the back looks like:

Blowin' in the Wind

Here's my dandelion piece.

My ideas about what I wanted to portray about dandelions changed as I explored this theme, but I always came back to featuring the delicate puffs and the spikey leaves.
I started by needle-felting some silk organza into a piece of hand-dyed cotton. The puff you see is actually the back of the felting -- that is, the threads pushed through the cotton are what creates the puffs here.
I machine-quilted in the stems and leaves.
The hand-dyed cotton base set the scene for this, so machine quilting was just about filling foliage in to suit the contours provided by the existing color.
Once I quilted in the shapes of the leaves, I was tempted to stop there. But as I want this challenge to push me to try things I don't typically do, I went further. I added hand-embroidery for detail in the puffs and drifting seed heads, then added more color with pastel crayons.

Karen's Dandelion

This piece was made using my embellisher so there is no thread involved, only 7 needles pushing the fabric into the felt below. I used silk, rayon, nylon and cotton fabrics. The purple is pieces of fabric I chopped up and sprinkled on the felt. I then covered the whole thing with tulle and "embellished" it.

Terry's Dandelion

Weeds are Flowers Too . . .

Once I discarded my all too complicated dandelion design, I knew that I wanted to focus in very closely on just one blossom. My original designs came in handy to blow up and find just the parts I wanted to show. As I was working on the dandelion I was working concurrently on another project, which included a photo of a field of flowers. Close inspection of the photo showed that there was a bee that had landed on one of the flowers and I knew then that my dandelion would have to host that same bee. And just as we all began to see dandelions everywhere once our theme was set, I began to see bees everywhere, including the disturbing story, on 60 Minutes this week about how the bees are disappearing.

For this piece I used my usual methods, using commercial prints, which I paint and manipulate. The design is fused and machine quilted.

P.S. Helen asked about posting a tutorial of my techniques. There is one on my blog here.

Terri's Dandelion

12x12 dandelion quilt
Ferocious Dan

When we found out our theme was 'dandelion', I didn't know immediately what I would make. I enjoyed looking at many dandelion photos, and wondered if I'd make a dandelion while still in it's bright yellow stage, or if I'd make a dandelion after it was all fluffed up.

I entertained a few scenarios in my head and all of a sudden a light bulb came on and I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I have so much fun watching my cats romp and play outside that sometimes I think they resemble miniature lions in the jungle.

I drew and painted the main design on fabric and appliquéd it to the background. I then dyed some Lutradur with Dye-Na-Flow. I cut out graduating round shapes and cut petal shapes into them. I attached those to the background and added in some fiber for the dandelion centers. The two large dandelions are three dimensional. In the upper area of the background I free-motion stitched some dandelion flower shapes.

Francoise's dandelions

This is the first dandelion quilt I completed. I used my own dyed fabrics. Some are shibori dyed. I embroidered and quilted by hand.
This is the second one. Last Sunday, I decided to try and save the yellow dandelion I had worked on last month. All the fabrics are hand-dyed too. And everything is machine stitched. By the way the stitching looks a bit crooked, but it isn't in real...
Both quilts are inspired by the pictures I took in my garden when Diane first gave us her theme.
Pfff... it's done! Now I can concentrate on the next theme, that I'm still the only one to know.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dandelions everywhere!

Well it's 30 October in New Zealand and I could post my challenge entry quilt but instead here is an advertisement from an inflight magazine from my trip over here:

Those are dandelions, right!?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Contenders

In additon to my warm up dandelion thread drawing, I have completed three other quilts as part of this challenge. Here is a glimpse of the contenders.

Incidentally, despite my best intentions, none of these quilts is exactly 12x12 inches so I do hope we are adopting a generous de minimis* approach!

*de minimis non curat lex [Latin] The law does not concern itself with trifles; -- a principle of law, that even if a technical violation of a law appears to exist according to the letter of the law, if the effect is too small to be of consequence, the violation of the law will not be considered as a sufficient cause of action, whether in civil or criminal proceedings.