Friday, November 27, 2009

A Bird of a Different Feather

Today I took the day off from work work and housework and played in my studio. I got the whole background for the Rust-Tex piece pieced together.I cut out the crow and fused it to the background with black Mistyfuse. Then I embellished it with some more rayon thread.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

OK -- I know it's not a turkey. We ate the roasted bird before I remembered to take a picture so I substituted a picture of a rooster by my Sparkly Chicken friend, Jacqui.

My eldest son came home for dinner and his grandpa was here from California. We enjoyed turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, broccoli, cranberry nut bread, and two kinds of cranberry sauce. I made a drunken pumpkin pie -- yo ho ho and a bottle of rum (ok, just a quarter cup) - and whipped cream.

Packers won and Eldest Son said he was thankful for the three Fs - food, family, and football.

I guess I'm all grown up now because I sent a package of leftovers home with him.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Playing with Peltex

So I'm going to be making 4 inch by 4 inch crazy squares to swap. The finished squares will involve stitch and flip bits of fabric, lace, beading and embroidery.

Today I took some four inch squares of Peltex and played around with putting color on them. First I tried alcohol inks.
I'm not crazy about these -- first I dropped the ink on the squares and got colored spots. Then I mixed some ink into rubbing alcohol and painted that on. That was a little better, but not great. I didn't get the vibrant deep color I was looking for.
Next, I used diluted Setacolor transparent paints and painted that on with a brush. I sprinkled some coarse salt over and sprayed it with water. This was better. The paint spread out, but remained bright. The salt didn't do anything. I'm still waiting for it to dry.

The backs of the alcohol ink squares are interesting; the backs of the painted ones are even better.
There is some plastic covering the back and the paints and inks pooled against it in an interesting pattern. I'm going to have to read the instructions for the Peltex again before I decide what to do with that.

Then I spread some paint on the plastic meat trays that I recycle for paint palettes, and pressed a piece of Peltex against that.

I got this cool design.

This makes me want to get out my marbling stuff and do some real marbling.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Stripes

I snuck out to the "dye studio," AKA the NE corner of the garage, this weekend and mixed up four colors of dye -- turquoise, lemon yellow, golden yellow, and boysenberry. I mixed a little of the golden yellow into the boysenberry for a nice blood red, and mixed some of the turquoise into each of the yellows for green.

Then I did the accordion fold thing with two pieces each of soda-soaked fabric and two that were not soda-soaked. I dunked each into a beaker of dye
and let them batch overnight in the family room. It's dipping into the 30s at night now and that's way too cold for the turquoise (and me).

-- the soda-soaked fabrics went into the red and turquoise:

and the greens had soda added after they had been in there for a little while. I probably should have waited longer before adding the activator, but I was in a hurry.

The stripes aren't as pronounced as I would have liked, although this is probably more useful for quilting. Also, I think that pouring the soda on the fabric with the golden yellow made the turquoise move from the top of the roll because it's more yellow than green there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Not the Muse This Time

OK. I admit it. I have not been downstairs to the "clean" studio or outside to the "wet" (read: messy stuff) studio all week. Haven't done a thing. Oh, I have had good intentions. I meant to do some stuff.

But I didn't. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

When I'm not actually working at my unreal job, sometimes I crawl the web (apparently surfing the net is passé) and I look at other people's blogs. Lately, there is something going on about doing art every day. Sounds like fun, no? Evidently, you don't have to do anything big. Just something. Anything. Nice work if you can get it.

Back when I was just a writer - before I decided I was an artiste - I wrote every day. Every day.

I still write (as evidenced here, I think), but I do more visual art work than writing because I can come and go and still do it. I can do something, then walk away. When I come back, it's still there. Sometimes, you have to walk away to let something dry or batch or cure. And, like with writing, sometimes it's necessary to walk away - to distance oneself - to get it right. For me, writing, especially poetry, takes prolonged concentration. And it's hard for me to find that chunk of time.

If I had any large chunks of time, I might be able to communicate with my friends via phone conversations instead of brief emails -- but none of us has extra time -- at least not in big pieces.

So I took yesterday off to go to conferences with two of my kids' teachers. I thought I could sneak in a little creative time before or in between the conferences. Or maybe after. But I made a choice to go work out before the conferences. And after, I had mom-stuff to do. So no art.

My eldest son, age 20, says that blog used to be the ugliest word in the English language, but now vlog is. I disagree. I think the ugliest word is time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Preview of Rust-Tex Quilt

Yesterday, I took a day off from work and played in my studio. I started working on a quilt for the Rust-tex collection (which is here). Here is a sketch:I'm playing with proportions using a Fibonacci sequence ( 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.) where each number in the sequence is the sum of the two numbers immediately preceding it. I'm not using all the numbers (wink), just the ones that interest me...
These are the fabrics I'm using. There are hand-dyes (the blue sky and pieced greens), a shibori-dyed brown on the left and the two Rust-Tex pieces on the bottom right.

Rust-Tex is fabric dyed using actual rusted stuff by my friend and fellow MCFA member, Lois Jarvis. There's a much more complete discussion of how she does it on her website (which is here).
So I needed a bird and I chose a crow (or maybe it's a raven) from a copyright-free Dover illustration. I drew it on a piece of black cotton sateen with my beloved Bohin mechanical chalk pencil (thank you, Beth). I backed it with a piece of black fusible non-woven interfacing to stabilize it for the threadwork.
I thread-painted the body and head of the bird with black rayon thread -- I used rayon because it's shiny. I just thread-sketched the feathers of the wings -- I haven't decided if I'm going to use more thread on them.
I painted the eye with black fabric paint, then used raw sienna paint around the black circle (note to self: next time paint first, then thread -- it's too hard to see the black paint with all that shiny black thread). I sketched a circle of orange rayon thread around the eye and used opaque white paint to highlight.
The working title for this piece is "Seasons of Wisconsin" -- I know, that's booooring, but as I said, it's a "working" title.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dyeing For Stripes

At Quilt Expo, I talked to a dyer who had a lot of fun, stripy hand-dyes. The soda soaked fabric is accordion folded, then put in a container, and flooded with dye.
I did one a couple of weeks ago and liked it so much, I thought it would be fun to try it with two or more colors of dyes per piece.
I took the folded fabric and rolled it up so it looked like a snail shell and dipped one side in dye, then put it in a container filled with another color of dye and let them batch for a couple of days in the family room -- the temperature is dropping to below 40 degrees at night, so I won't get good results if it stays outside.
After I washed and dried them, this is the result:

They're pretty wrinkled, I know, but I left them in the drier for a couple of days, so now I have to iron them-- bleah.

I also did another shibori piece like the previous one where I painted on green dye under the brown dye. This time I used freshly mixed dyes and kept it inside overnight to batch.

A much nicer result, I think. I like the darker tones on this one. There is some orange in there -- I ran out of brown dye with about an inch or so to go, so I mixed together some orange and purple, but it looks mostly orange in those spots. Where did the purple go?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


"Good taste is better than bad taste, but bad taste is better than no taste at all."

-Arnold Bennett, English poet, author and critic

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Little Autumn Bag

Nearly every year, I make something for the silent auction that benefits the elementary school my children attend. This year, I am making little bags. So far, I have finished one.

First I took a piece of hand-dyed fabric and, with an old Stewart Gill stencil, I painted some feathers on the fabric with Setacolor Shimmers: copper and chocolate. Then I layered it with batting and some fallish, leafy fabric and quilted around the edges of the feathers.

I set in a zipper and stitched up the sides with a little loop for a handle.

Here is a picture of the inside:

It still needed something.
Last night, my sister-in-law and her husband took us to dinner and afterward, she gave us a couple of bags of stuff. At the bottom of one of the bags was a treasure:
Lovely wooden beads! I'm going to string a few together and attach them to the zipper tab. They're just what it needs to finish it off!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Ghouls

I have been busy making the dreaded annual Halloween costume for my darling daughter. This year it was a vampire cape made from some heavy kinda velvety fabric that had rubbery feeling grey spiderwebs and sparkly red glitter spiders all over it. It was on sale for half price, but was still not cheap (in my opinion). I made her a matching bag to hold all those treats. This stuff totally gummed up the needle in my machine and my entire studio glistens with a layer of red glitter, but it made a fab costume! I've had enough of sparkly stuff for a while (sorry chickens) and plan to work with plain cotton for the next project.My fourteen year old son made his own mask from air-dry clay, wire, and paint. He fastened it to his head with packing tape and covered the tape with his hoodie. When he answered the door, a little trick or treater ran away screaming and had to be coaxed back to get his candy.With the traditional boom box emitting scary sounds (from an old CD I picked up years ago) and the cannibal jack o' lantern, our house rocked the neighborhood for fright!