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Banks Miniature Horse Farm

I had the best time last weekend at Banks Miniature Horse Farm in Clayton, NC. Bill and Pam Banks allowed a group of us to come photograph their adorable miniature horses, and one very friendly miniature donkey, Dixie, who was especially envious of my straw hat.

Bill and Pam breed, sell, and show miniature horses, and have the largest miniature horse farm in this Southeastern part of the country. Their horses become pets, companions to race horses, and even seeing-eye animals. They are wonderfully gentle, curious, and sweet creatures.

There were several new foals to see, one only a few days old. Bill was telling us how a couple of the foals were playing “King of the Mountain” on a pile of soil in his barn one time, and he managed to get a picture.

Linda Vassilion took this one of Dixie the donkey, and Sunny giving me a kiss. Sunny and Dixie had a plan worked out, I think, to get that hat off my head.

Jay Massengill took this one, and the one at the top of this post, of me and Dixie and Sunny, still hoping for a straw hat. Bill wanted to cut two holes in it for ears!

Bill and Pam were not only nice enough to have us over, but they also have buses of school children, and handicapped children come for visits to the farm. The animals are very well-behaved with children and are a real treat to spend the day with. Bill and Pam are fun too!

Special thanks to Bill and Pam Banks for having us over, giving us the tour, and answering all my questions! I always have a lot! Special thanks to Jay Massengill and Linda Vassilion for allowing me to use their photos!

Please be sure to visit the Banks Miniature Horse Farm web site too!

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Me, and a floral and batik art quilt project

Iris and Pansy art quilts in progress, with batik fabrics, by Elizabeth Ruffing

This me, Elizabeth, in my favorite straw sun hat. I wear it when we go out walking. I have other straw hats that I use for gardening or for working in the yard. I love flowers and I’m making two floral art quilts, incorporating my love of gardening, painting, and sewing. One is based on a watercolor painting I did of an iris flower.

I brought many of my iris plants with me, when we moved from New York state to North Carolina. I kept them in containers on the balcony of our apartment, and then planted them behind our new house. Many of them are my grandma’s irises.

I painted one pink iris on an Art Nouveau inspired wallpaper background, which I designed.

I printed this image on canvas that was made for use in our Epson printer. I sealed it with Liquitex matte varnish, because I am going to use this art quilt as a wall hanging.

The second image I am using is printed from my watercolor painting of pansies. It has a light blue border, with decorative flowers.

Pansies are so adorable and cheerful.

The come in such pretty colors, just like batik fabrics, which I am using to frame my canvas prints. I’m using an assortment of cotton batiks, which blend together nicely for quilts.

This is the pile of cotton batik fabrics, waiting to be pre-washed, before I sew them into a quilt. I sewed a zig-zag stitch along the raw edges, to keep them from fraying in the washing machine. I like to wash my fabrics before I use them, to compensate for shrinkage, and because I find the smell of fabric sizing irritating.

I love fabric. I get excited about anything that is displayed in those rainbow, full-spectrum arrangements in the store. I lose track of time on the paint aisle of an art store, or a in a quilt shop, with the fabric bolts, lined up by color. I’m captivated by colorful things.

I’m using the batiks in strips around my canvas prints, like a mat and a frame, only made of fabric. Once sewn together, I am putting cotton batting behind them, and then a cotton fabric as a backing.
I drop the feed dogs on my sewing machine, so I can free-motion quilt the layers together, randomly winding around, to make a stippling effect.
Once the layers are sewn together, I am adding a sleeve to the back of each quilt. I finish the edges of the sleeves, fold them in half lengthwise, and the attach them to the top edge of each quilt, on the backs of the quilts. I hand stitch the lower edge of each sleeve to the back of the quilt. Then I add binding to the edges of the quilts, avoiding the openings of the sleeves.
I am taking a wooden dowel, cutting it to the lengths I want for each quilt, and gluing wooden balls to each end, to make a display rod for each quilt. The wooden balls come in a package at Michael’s or another craft store, and they have holes drilled in one side, big enough to insert the end of a dowel. Just be sure to get the right size dowel for the hole.
I am using coordinating acrylic paints, and a sponge to paint the rods to match my quilts. I varnish them, and when they were dry, I insert them in the sleeves. I tie a ribbon to each display rod, to hang them up.
The finished floral art quilts can be seen in more detail in this post:
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My art studio-drawing-painting-designing-sewing room

This is where most of creations have their start. I draw, paint, design and make patterns, and sew in this workroom. Yes, it is February, and the Christmas tree is still up. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day still counts as a holiday where decorations are permissible. Do people have Valentine’s trees? Easter trees?

I’m dangerously close to becoming like that family in “Garden State“, with the year-round Christmas tree, when I leave it up for so long that there becomes little point in taking it down.

I have my work table, my sewing machine, my ironing board, and lots of supplies, all in a small space. I can turn around and grab what I need.

This is my studio after I cleaned it. I am trying to abide by the put-it-back-where-you-found-it rule. Rules annoy me. I really don’t stand a chance. I will just end up having to clean it again.

After I take down the Christmas tree.