Millard Sheets mosaics

Millard Sheets in a native CA artist, born and raised in the early 20th century in Pomona, he had quite and extensive career both as a painter, designer of mosaics and a teacher at Scripps college as well at at Otis Design college, where he became the director.

In the 1950s Howard Ahmanson, owner of The Homes Savings banks commissioned Sheets to design mosaics and murals for these banks. Not just to be places of commerce but to celebrate CA and it’s history with public art.

Today these buildings are owned by Chase bank, unfortunately many are being torn down, while people try to figure out how to save the artwork. This one is a mile from my house in Studio City. I drive by here often, the other day I happened to be on foot and I took the time to take some pictures.

Give me a capitalist any day over anarchist Marxists who are hell bend on destroying our history and the art associated with it. By the way, Ahmanson was a huge collector and contributor to the arts. Just ask LACMA about what Ahmanson did for that institution. It is true, he ended up pulling back some promised gifts. But seeing how LACMA has deteriorated over the years, I’d say he made the right choice.

Luckily no Antifa follow me, so they won’t be aware of St. Juinpero Sera preaching to native children. I love that chicken the child is holding. Of course I love mosaics.

The cowboys and vaqueros are a very big part of California history, although the real cattle boom was over by the 1850s’ so no one remembers. Before that, during the Mexican period, rancheros raised a lot of cattle and made a fortune. Drought, that pestilence that afflicts California every few decades, put an end to the large cattle farms. Many a Southern California ranchero supplied beef to the hundreds of thousands of miners who came pouring in for the 1849 gold rush.

Next image is panning for gold. The gold fever wasn’t confined to northern CA, there was and still is plenty of gold in the San Gabriel as well as San Bernardino mountains. I know, here we have the iconic image of panning in a river. There was some of that going on in the mid 19th century. The gold in our mountains is much harder to extract. I have had the pleasure of visiting defunct gold mines in the San Gabriel mountains. Very hardy dedicated men who had to blast their way to the gold. No worries, it didn’t take long at all for nature to reclaim these mines. Once again, I love human ingenuity and the ability to extract gold and other minerals from the earth.

The final panel is another huge industry that shaped Los Angeles. The film industry, CBS studios, formerly Republic, formerly the Studio that Mack Sennet started in the valley is just down the street. As in less than half a mile away. This is another industry that is going through massive changes these past few years. The Pandemic is going to change it even more. So who knows, maybe this mosaic will simply end up being an historic record of Southern California, with few references to the present.

I love close up of mosaic work. I love how this was made to fit into the granite. I also can’t quite figure out if this is the signature of Sheets or one of the artists who worked closely with him on these monumental projects.

Creating definition, three dimensional objects as well as fire, all with mosaics. Most probably these are all glass tesserae, although some might be glazed terra-cotta. I don’t know.

Here is the chicken and some lovely flowers. I really like how many colors have to go into white, or grey. Mosaics are a wonderful thing.

So there you have it. I tell everyone who used to come on my tours, to take the time to look around their own neighborhoods and hometowns. There is creativity and beauty everywhere that man has settled. Its’ in our DNA to create stories and beauty. So go out there and find it, and then share with others.

Biting the bullet, quilt this baby.

The days of same day or next day delivery are all gone at Amazon. It’s a least a week now. So when my batting and backing arrived I got very excited. I also ordered some heavy duty clamps. You’ll see them in other pictures.

I think I mentioned I decided to go with Polyester batting. Cotton is way too heavy, I know wool is lighter, but honesty, I think polyester might be even lighter than wool.

I had ordered wide fabric. 108″ by 4 yards. I ended up cutting off about half a yard and sewing that onto the fabric, giving myself plenty of backing material on all sides. Here it is laid out on the living room floor. I pinned the top and then, migrated outside to my two folding tables.

With a quilt this size there is no way I can work with spray glue. Honestly, I may go back to safety pins for all large quilts. Spray basting is great for smaller ones, like baby size or wall hanging. But wrangling two fabrics that are sticky and affixing the batting – it’s not great fun.

I got a set of four clamps. Which I think was sufficient. What I really need more of is the safety pins. While shopping for the clamps online I made sure to find some that open 4″. The sides of these plastic tables are at least 2″ wide. Good choice, yes, these were more expensive, but they worked beautifully.

Now I have a flat, relatively taut surface to pin. More pins would be better as you will see later. Yes, I know, my borders appear to have too much fabric. I measured the edges and came up with 85.5″ and made sure that was the size of each border. I pinned and sewed from the center out. It still looks like too much fabric. So yeah, I’ll have to quilt the heck out of the borders. Also, I will end up cutting off at least two inches.

Speaking of pins, I pricked myself and bled on the white background. Just this past year I learned about using hydrogen Peroxide to remove blood. I can hear many of you gasping and wondering what rock have I been living under all this time? I don’t know, but these lessons are better learned late than never.

Not enough pins.

And here is the beast, scrunched up on my quilting table. When I’m sewing, a lot more of it is on the back of the table. I can’t tell you what a huge difference this makes. It’s a beast to quilt and so far I’ve only done the walking foot in the seams. I have yet to see what it will be like doing the free-motion.

I LOVE my Juki, it is an amazing machine. Oh, and there won’t be any ruler work on this quilt…. I’m not that masochistic.

It’s hard to see, but I’m basically laying down a grid to hold everything in place. You see in the upper left hand corner, there is some extra fabric. Yeah, I had to cut some of the backing because it got too taut. The problem of not enough pins. So I released the pressure and put in a patch. Once it’s all quilted we shall see what I do. I happen to have a block left over that I didn’t use on the front, I might slap it on there.

Creating is an adventure. Finding solutions to problems along the way is part of the deal. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for getting the job done as well as I can.


The knitting continues.

Sorry about the quality of the image. I ordered yarn from Webs and started a sweater. Meh, the color isn’t great, there are issues with the cable pattern. I wasn’t happy.

I found this yarn at my local LYS, I’m not thrilled with it for a sweater. Yes the pattern calls for a thinner yarn, but this feels too thin. I’m clearly on a yellow kick these days. I’m going ahead with it even if I’m not thrilled. The color is nice, lightweight sweaters are nice. It will take me a long time, and that might just be what I need.

I’m knitting this on size 5 needles, so it is going faster than the traditional 1 or two that I would have used if I were knitting socks.

Oh yes, I found a different lace cable pattern. This is a basic top down raglan sweater. I like the detail of the increases at the shoulder. I like the way the yarn is creating fields of color.

I also finished off a shawl for a friend. Remember the green shawl I made? I ran out of yarn for the final band. Irene didn’t, but, this lace pattern was just too much for her. So I finished the job. I hope to get a picture once she blocks it. I will knit, I will not block for others.

Also, On Sunday my knitting group met in the park and it was heaven. I do not like Zoom! You always have to be ‘on’. Even if you want to tune out for a few minutes. It is so lovely to sit with real people, and have different conversations with different people.

The numbers of new cases throughout California are plateauing, to many peoples livelihoods have been destroyed, too many children are suffering from isolation. When historians look back, they will see the death from suicide, depression and crime will be larger than those of the Wuflu. It’s time to restart our lives.

Quilt top finished

When the quilt is 105″ x 105″ it is very hard to get a picture. I’m up on a ladder hoping my shadow doesn’t fall on the quilt.

I’m very happy with the result. Will I be saying this in a few days when I start trying to quilt the beast?

I’ve ordered polyester batting from Quilters Dream, I’m looking for as light weight as possible. I was considering wool, but I’ve decided this time to just go with polyester. One thing about polyester is it doesn’t have to be heavily quilted.

Yes, I’m seeing a lot of ripples in the border. I measured the quilt at 85″. So I measured each border at that length. One of the things I decided is to make the border wider than the final quilt. My hope is to cut off a good two inches off. But that doesn’t help me while quilting, I’ll still have this whole beast to contend with.

Piled up on a chair. I have also ordered extra wide backing fabric. The fabric comes at 108″…. I will try and center it as much as possible, but, at this point I am prepared to add plain old muslim along the edges if I have to.

For months this has been my work table. When creating a scrappy quilt, all scraps must be out.

An even bigger pile on the floor, as well as pulling fabric from drawers and bins. I am pleased to say that all of this has been put away. Well not all. As I was cleaning up I threw pieces of fabric away as well. Some were small and I used them in this quilt, but am ‘over them’. Others were larger pieces of fabric, ones that I’ve picked up through the years at garage sales and such. So not fabrics that I spent much money on.

I actually don’t have a huge stash. You’d think looking at this quilt top that I do, but many of these were small remnants. I find that I cull out fabrics often. I like to buy new fabric. I know I’ll never use everything. So at some point, the remnants get small enough, and I’ve used them enough that it is simply time to let them go.

I bought a silly book on cross stitching, unconventional cross stitch. It was 1$ at the Dollar Tree. This might be the only thing I do out of this book, since some of the ‘designs’ are too crass or relate to pop music. But one dollar, it was worth it. So off to JoAnns I went and got Aida cloth and a few more colors of thread. A small project in the midst of a huge one.

Bordering the quilt

I went ahead and ordered two pairs of the Applipop templates for myself. I still have Irenes’ so that is three pairs to work with. So yes, making the circles is going faster. So much so that I’m 3/4 of the way done with border no. 2

First border done.

I’m finding different ways of starting a new color vine, I don’t want to make one long bias strip. So here is one solution.

On one edge I have a lot of bias left over, that will come in handy when I fill in the corner.

First corner attached with a miter. Now to figure out how to fill this area in. One thing I immediately tried was to drop the feed dogs and free motion appliqué. Not to bad… I think I will continue this way, I can’t move the whole quilt around when appliquéing down the circles. I can hear some people out there laughing at me that I hadn’t done this earlier… well up until know, appliqué for me meant hand work.

And now, to fill in the corner.

I am very pleased, it looks good, flows nicely.

Seen from another angle.

I really like this border. I don’t like solid borders when the quilt is scrappy like this. I know, it would have been fine without a border, but I wanted one. I also don’t like using just one print as a border, it just bugs me, when fabrics are all cut up small but the border is a busy repeat. In the past I would break up the border with more piecing. this is very fun, using appliqué instead.

I still have some vine and circle to go on the second border, I just got impatient and wanted to see a completed corner. The closer I get to finishing the top, then I will have to figure out the quilting. Oy, I’m not ready for that at all!

Another shawl

I finished the green shawl a while ago, on to a yellow one.

Malabrigo Rio, in a lovely yellow. I’m enjoying knitting with no. 8 needles! the pattern is easy, lace along the edge and garter stitch in the middle.

At the half way point. I like how there is a nice rounded bottom to this shawl, not just a pointy triangle. I could choose any lace pattern and simply recreate the shawl.

I bought 4 skiens, only used three. Gave my friend that recommendation, since she knit the same shawl same yarn. Uh Oh, bad advice, we don’t knit the same and she ran out of yarn before the end…. oops.

Here is the shawl, before blocking.

Lace is all scrunched up. I’ve gotten lazy, I don’t like pulling out the mat and pins, although that would be the best way to block this. So I let it just sit for a week or two while I worked on my quilt as well as some other knittings. Its not like I’ll need this any time soon.

All blocked and on display on the Rock. I just pulled out the steam iron and steamed the heck out of the lace, pulling and stretching a little with my fingers, then letting it cool down completely before moving on to the next section. I only did this to the lace, no steam near the center garter stitch. I don’t want that to be stretched out. I’d say it worked well.

Some more artistic pictures. I’m wondering it I will need to blast it with more steam before I finally wear it. This lace has a tendency to curl since the edge row is all basically stockinette. We shall see. Right now it is very pretty.

I am too lazy to pull out the tripod, so selfie it is. Gives you and idea of how the shawl looks on the body, well it sort of does.

Another view, This shawl is very large, one of these days it will be cold and I’ll be grateful for the warmth and the coziness.

Success and failure in the garden

Carrots, beans, tomatoes and even a tiny radish. The radish was hard and horrible. The beans and tomatoes are yummy. The carrots are ok, next time, I need to prepare the soil so the carrots can grow down, instead of being stubby and pushing up. Once they turn green, they get bitter. But my grandson likes them, so that should be considered a success.

A pepper is growing.

Oh, look, the small pepper plant has a pepper ripening to yellow! I’ll have to pick it soon.

The yellow squash is growing, they still feel hard, so I think I need to wait a little longer to pick them.

I got one small stunted melon, then the plant appeared to die. So I cut off the melon, even though it seemed too small.

It certainly looks like a melon.

It didn’t taste all that great, so I threw the rest of it away. Not that there was much to discard.

The Meyer lemon tree is bursting into bloom.

Next winters’ lemons getting their start now.

They smell wonderful.

A handful of lemons have been growing in the off season. This is rare with the Meyers.

All in all, I’m impressed with my garden successes. One always has to accept some failure, not just in the garden, but in life.

Creative work updates

Its been a long time since I shared any progress on my Posh Penelope quilt. The first blocks I made had neutral backgrounds, but they were prints.

I added a few with a solid white background and realized that I needed a lot more of that. Otherwise the quilt was just to busy. Also, notice the block on the lower left corner? It didn’t make it into the quilt, it was just too busy and the flower gets lost in the background. It will probably show up on the back of the quilt.

At one point, long before I had completed all the blocks, I started putting them together.

You’ll notice that initially my rows were 6 blocks long. I added a seventh block. This is going to be another big quilt for my bed. The project is taking a long time, its’ dragging. Sure, I have way too much time locked up at home, but I can’t quilt full time. Just doesn’t work for me. So I’ve been working slowly. I don’t buy into the theory of quilt in a day.

Also, I stopped using any other backgrounds than white. I even had to go and buy a lot more white.

And its’ Done!!! As I added on rows, I flipped the quilt, so I’d add a row to the bottom, flip the quilt and add the next row to the bottom. I have a ton of small pieces of fabric in my stash. Most of this is from stash. I bought some pinks from Quilty Pleasures as soon as they opened after the first lockdown. I want to support local quilt and yarn stores. A few weeks later I bought a large quantity of solid white from Candys Quiltworks. This is not the full quilt, there will be a border.

A new company has emerged, Applipops, they advertise like crazy on IG and FB. It is an interesting method of using metal templates to create ‘perfect’ circles. My friend bought a set, I borrowed it from her and after a few tries, immediately went and ordered two sets for myself. The problem with one set is that one can only prepare 4 circles at a time. Since often the inner circle would be the outer circle for another set.

I made the bias vine using KKBs’ template. The leaves are freehand using the appliquick method. And a first for me, I am sewing these down by machine, not hand. Using monofilament and a small zigzag. I tried the blind hem stitch, didn’t work too well. Now I am sorry I didn’t take the machine appliqué class with the guild when I had the chance. Life is full of regrets, so be it.

Looking good and its growing fast! I cut 4 strips the length of the quilt, so all that fabric I bought? I’ve used it up. I marked 1/2″ on one side, that will be the side I sew onto the quilt. I didn’t center the vine, because I want some extra fabric on the border when I quilt. I will probably cut it back once I’m done quilting and I’m squaring up the quilt.

Here is what it will look like once I’m done. Oh, and those circles? Initially, not so perfectly round, of course with practice they are getting better. If I were sewing them by hand they would be perfect. I am sewing them on the machine that doesn’t have a knee lift, so I am constantly having to lift and shift the fabric. Of course I’m just being super picky right now. As you can see, it looks wonderful and once quilted it will be perfect. As for the quilting, oy, I’m not even thinking about that yet.

Madonna Inn

I have driven by here, but never gone in. That needed to change.

A few pictures from outside, notice, pink makes an appearance. We will see much more inside.

Madonna Inn = kitsch. That is all there is to it. A lot of pink, a lot of roses and a lot of grapes. All seen here in the carpet.

Regestration is in another building, as you enter the main building there is an information desk. Beyond that, the steak house. I was unable to get reservations here, so we ate in the Copper Cafe, at least we could order from the Steak House menu. Not a steak, but a lovely dinner.

climbing the staircase and looking down. I’m pretty sure that is a massive stone chimney.

That is a lot of Pink, which I think is the point of it all. The hotel was built in 1956, burnt down (by someone who hates pink???) and rebuilt in 1958. It’s claim to fame was that every single guest room had a theme and they were all different. didn’t see the rooms, but they have been updated, maybe a little less kitsch, but still, all different.

Some more Decor.

Paintings of the founders, Alex and Phylis Madonna. Today many children and grandchildren are involved in the hotel. These days there is a shopping center next door, Since the Madonnas owned 1000 acres, I’m pretty sure they built the center. Especially since it is called Madonna Plaza, they sort of have rights to the name.

Absolutely crazy, over the top, chandelier. Wine barrels, cupid, glass grapes. Where else would you find something like this. Probably because the whole place is over the top, it all just feels right.

OK, more kitsch, well this is very expensive kitsch, probably from Italy. Since it came from Hearst Castle up the road. It is marble, that is impressive inlay on the newel post. Even high end materials can end up being the ultimate in kitsch. Alex Madonna was friends with W.R Hearst, figures, two very eccentric people.


Towns on the central coast

Adorable little beach communities, that is pretty much what I have to say. Drove PCH through adorable towns, but didn’t stop to take pictures. First real stop was Pismo Beach.

This blade sign up on the roof of a hotel stands out as a beacon.

Apparently the building was built in 1937. I do like it when the build date is easy to see.

California to the max! An Art Deco blade sign with a Palm Tree right next to it.

This sign says it all! So true, The central coast is a culture unto itself, as it should be.

Better look at the sign, with the Pismo sign in the background.

Onto Cambria, their Main Street isn’t right on the beach. Maybe because Cambria is more on a cliff. They do have lovely old homes that are either an Inn as in this case, or have become businesses.

Like these buildings.

An adorable gift shop. LOVE the signage. How cool is this!!! Yes, they had lovely items inside, no, I didn’t buy anything.

There is a famous yarn store here, I went in, I did buy a pair of needles, but I was very disappointed. I mentioned that I was knitting a shawl with Malabrigo yarn. And the guy who sells mostly Manos Del Uruguay gave me a lecture about how Malabrigo is made in China and is a knock off of Manos. Wow, way to make me want to buy yarn from you. So I went online to check out both companies…

Manos was started by ‘do gooders’ – those elites who come in and are going to save the native women by giving them piecework to do. It is now a large company, so hopefully they are paying these woman working wages, from my research into these kind of endeavors? The Elites do fine, the woman, not so much. Meanwhile, Malabrigo was started by two brothers as a way to make money. Yes Capitalism, no statement about helping the poor people, simply, we started a company, we hired people – win win. Also, all of their production is in Peru. So someone is lying about China, I’m going with that shipowner in Cambria. Oh he put me on his mailing list, guess what, it’s going straight to spam.

On to San Luis Obispo, I already showed you the Mission. Next door is their historical museum, not open unfortunately. I love local history. This was a library, I wonder if it was a free Carnegie Library.

Love the details!

Then on into the downtown area, a lot of beautiful buildings.

Beaux Art on a small scale in a small town. Love, love love.

Another example of Beaux Arts. Although the central window look much more Art Deco. Those circles may have been added latter. I know, the awning does break up the building. But it is being used and awnings are important, so I can live with this.

I wish I knew what the 1991 stand for. clearly this was built in 1908, but what was the business? What ended in 1991?

The building spans the whole block, so here it is from the other side. It looks like this was the original front of the building. They still have the original awning over the front. Also, the lovely circle in the facade. Either way, nice building, glad it was saved and being used. If Ross hadn’t come in to use the space, someone might have simply knocked it down and built something ugly. So I’ll put up with the awnings.

On our way south, we stopped in Solvang. It was a little sad, businesses suffering terribly from the lockdown. But the Danish Architecture is on full display. Not just the Dutch had windmills.

And now, back home, back to our Governor doing everything in his power to destroy business in our state. On top of that the teachers unions feel that they get to dictate education policy or even beyond education. Not teach the children and still get payed. I would love to see the destruction of what has become our public education, I mean indoctrination. But while this happens, too many children are being harmed. Also, once the kids leave school, many wont come back. And when there aren’t enough kids, there wont be a need for all these teachers…..