Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Again?!

This is my design wall today.  It shows some fabric chunks that are going to be part of my next Color Palette Challenge.  And some stuff from last week.  To see some other design walls, click here to go to Judy's blog.

I stamped some little paw prints with distress ink on this, but when I washed it, the ink washed out.  Even though it had been heat set.  So I redid them with different ink.  The reason I washed it was that I thought that the transfer might get softer and less "plasticky" but it didn't.  At least not that I noticed.  One thing I do like about the transfer is that it doesn't melt or stick when I run my hot iron over it.

Tomorrow, March first, I have been invited to be a "guest blogger" on "...And Then We Set It On Fire."  I'm pretty excited about this.  These women have been doing really great stuff with color and fabrics -- subjects near and dear to my heart.  And now I get to be part of it.  I'll be discussing Tsukineko inks.  Long time readers will recognize a couple of my samples, but I have spent most of the week making up new stuff for this.  So stop by and leave a comment for me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fun With Lutradur and TAP

 My design wall is pretty empty today.  That's because I am working small on my cutting table.

Yesterday I took a class at Stitcher's Crossing where we played with Lutradur and Transfer Artist Paper (TAP).  Once a month at Stitcher's, Gael teaches a fiber arts workshop.

I bought some Lutradur years ago in Houston but I haven't really done much with it.  And I have wanted to play with TAP for a while, but I had no idea what to do with it.

We discussed different ways to use both the Lutradur and TAP.  One of the cool things you can do with both is put them through an inkjet printer and print images on them.

A lady named Cathi (who declined to be photographed, but was okay with me showing her "stuff"), brought all these vintage prints.  And she was kind enough to share them with the class.

So I made a collage and scanned them in and printed them out on a sheet of the TAP and on a sheet of the thinnest Lutradur (Ultra-Light).

I taped the Lutradur to a sheet of printer paper so that it would feed through the printer.

Lutradur is made from spun polyester -- it's a lot like interfacing.  It can be colored with poly dyes, crayons, markers, and pencils.  I also want to try burning it with my stencil burner.

This is the printed Lutradur on white fabric. I like the ethereal look to the images.  I'm thinking I might want to try printing some photos of birds and trees.

This is the paper that I used to back the Lutradur on its trip through the printer.  I really like the way this looks.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it.

This is my collage printed on the TAP.  If you look closely, you can see that the images are reversed.  This is because when you iron it on, then the print will be readable.  I cut out the dachshund in the center and ironed it to a bit of hand-dye in the top photo of this post.  I really like that it looks exactly like the print it was taken from. The colors are bright and true.  I'm going to have to play around with crayons and pencils next.  It does feel like a transfer on the fabric.

This postcard was part of Cathi's collection.  I photographed it because the address is not far from where I grew up.  Although I suspect this was mailed long before I lived there.

"This is what you see in Egypt dry and barren lands L.M."

That's all it says.  I assume Miss A. Schood knew who "L.M." was.

The photograph on the front had mountains drawn in behind the building.  And there's a boat.  On water.  "Dry and barren"?!
For more design wall posts click here to go to Judy's blog.

Friday, February 18, 2011

When Pigs Fly Into My Mailbox

I have been participating in a block swap with my Sparkly Chicken friends.  Yesterday, my first block arrived in the mail.  A pig on point!  With wings!  Made from bright pink hand-dyes!

(Please forgive the thready mess on my design wall.)

It's a Fat Cat design.  And it came with this adorable embroidered hippo.  My friend, Beth, who lives in South Africa and blogs here made the pig and sent the hippo.

The story that came with it is "A Hippo Swallowed a Girl."  There is lots more information about it here at Tambani Textiles.

For January, the block I sent out was supposed to have a beach theme.  So what is better than an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini?

Only trouble was, I had envisioned a red bikini with yellow dots and couldn't find anything in my stash of dots and spots like that.  Which is really surprising because I've been collecting spots and polka dots for years.

  So I took some red with white polka dots and colored them yellow with Tsukineko inks.  Then I fused the pieces onto the beach background and stitched around the edges.

This month, my mission was a "Happy House" block.  the colors were supposed to be blues, yellows, greens and purples.

I took a house block from EQ7 and played around with it until I was happy and made this:
I used some of the fabric from the flour-resist experiments for the front walk.  And because it was for a Sparkly Chicken friend, I had to add some chicks and chickens.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Repeat Sheds Her Skin!
I have to admit -- I'm not crazy about rodents and reptiles.  Although I have had some pretty good relationships with a number of hamsters, rats, and long ago, a rabbit.  But except for catching lizards in the backyard as a child, I've never enjoyed any reptiles.  Oh, I can appreciate the beauty of a colorful iguana and the perky postures of bearded dragons, but I am just not crazy about cold-blooded critters.  This includes insects.  And I hate snakes!  Maybe even more than Indiana Jones does.

  My "adult" son moved back home for a couple of weeks at the beginning of this year and brought with him this leopard gecko named "Repeat".  When my son moved back out, the gecko stayed.  I have been awarded the dubious honor of gecko-mom.  Which means I get to go to the pet store every couple of days and purchase live crickets.  Because this creature eats only live ones.  So now I get to nurture crickets in order to provide snacks for the gecko. Or go to the pet store every other day to get more.  Not fun in a blizzard -- I found out.

So today, when I was trying to concentrate on something important, my almost-eleven-year-old daughter came running upstairs to breathlessly inform me, "The gecko's shedding her skin!"  Being the good gecko-mom that I am, I grabbed the camera to record this event.  And now I'm sharing it with you.

I missed the part where it started -- obviously on her head.  But I did manage to get these interesting shots of her pulling the old skin off her hind leg.

Then she ate it.  "Eeeeeyyyyuuuuuu!" was the comment from the daughter.  I read somewhere that it provided some nutrients.  Daughter was still not impressed.

It was pretty cool to watch -- the skin came off inside out just like pulling off a pair of tight jeans.

She rubbed against the logs and rocks in her aquarium to loosen the skin on her body.

She spent a lot of time pulling the skin off of her front, um, paws?  Hands?  She does have little finger-like thingies and what look like little claws (nails?) on them.

The color under the discarded skin is really bright.

I have left these pictures large, so click on them to examine her closely.  She really is quite amazing.  She uses one corner of the tank to do her business -- I never would have guessed that a reptile would care!
And now she's had enough of being my photography subject.  I imagine the flash isn't all that fun for her.  She isn't really reacting to me -- she's still trying to remove the skin from her front, um, digits.    And as interesting as she is, I really do prefer the fuzzy kind of pet.  Especially the kind that doesn't have to live in a cage.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Homeless Monday

This is my design wall for today.  I'm making a happy home block for a swap.  I created it in EQ7 and pulled out some fun fabrics from my stash.  The walkway is some of the fabric from the rice flour resist project.  I had to redo the picket fence three times before I was happy with it.  But what home would be happy without a picket fence?  Actually, mine is just fine without one.

I can't show any more than this because it's supposed to be a surprise.  Shhhh...

For more design wall posts, click here to go to Judy's blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

January Color Palette Challenge is Finished!

"Pine Needles"
10" x 12"
Hand-dyed and commercial batik cottons, cotton batting, cotton and poly threads
Machine pieced and quilted

This is an abstract interpretation of Terri Stegmiller's picture (here).  Or at least kind of abstract.

"I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract.  No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it."   -Stephen Wright

I had a hard time with this.  I had to think about it a lot.  I LOVE the colors.  And they really seem to suggest a nature kind of thing.  So I could have done a landscape, but Terri already did that (here).  

Or I could have done a seascape.  Maybe an eagle flying?  Or (this occurred to me as I was walking the dog in subzero temperatures during the week before the Superbowl) I could have done a Green Bay Packer -- the bright gold and the greens are close to the right colors.  After the Packers won (Go! Pack! Go!), I lost interest in that idea.

And, anyway,  I wanted to do something abstract.  So I filched Terri's photo -- I forgot to ask permission, but I've heard that it's better to do something and ask forgiveness later than to try to get permission first.  At least that's what my kids say. Hmmm...

So how did I get from this wall to the finished product?  I'm not really sure.  Abstract is harder than I thought it would be.

"There is no abstract art.  You must always start with something.  Afterward you can remove all traces of reality."  -Pablo Picasso

I started with strips and cut some of them curvy and sewed them back together.  Then I cut those up and sewed those together.  Eventually, I had cool strips of bits of fabric, but no focal point.  That was when I decided to filch Terri's photo (thanks, Terri!).

"There is plenty of courage among us for the abstract but not for the concrete."  -Helen Keller

Fortunately, I work with fiber, so I don't need a lot of courage.

Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete.   Jean-Paul Sartre

 I did have a problem with the threads.  It's a real bear to wind the thread back on the spool after dyeing it, so I had to make do with what I could buy.  And would it kill the thread manufacturers to make a light blue/green with greyish tones variegated thread?

Abstract art: a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.   --Al Capp 

I left the edges a little wonky and finished it with a small zigzag.  I thought that the rough edges went with the rustic theme.

Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works.   -John Keats 

Now I'm hoping for a little forgiveness...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Latest Snow-Dyes

I was really taken by the recent snow-dyes by my friend, Judi, at Judi's Crazy World.  She has been dyeing gorgeous mandalas with her snow.  Since we have enough snow to last until Labor Day, I figured I should try it.

I like this one the best.  I used warm colored dyes (lemon, fuchsia, brown, etc.) but this beautiful lavender color showed up for the party.

I don't really like this one.  The colors are flat and the patterning is not interesting.  I am moving this to the ready-to-use-for-more-resist-experiments pile.

I like this one -- the colors are much prettier in person -- I used lemon and a couple of different blues.  

This one and the next one are really intriguing.  I used the same colors as the first one, but the yellows really came out and did some neat patterns.  Again, the blueish/lavenderish colors are really striking.  They must be in the brown dye.

Like the one above --really neat patterns with the yellow and blueish colors.

These are all one yard pieces.

And I have been working on my 3Creative Color Palette Challenge.  I love these colors.  And I had all of them in my stash (quelle suprise!).  I hope to have it finished in the next day or two.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Empty the Wall for February

I finished sewing together all the LeMoyne stars and moved everything over so that I would have a nice space for the next project.  I'm working on a journal quilt for the Color Palette Challenge at 3Creative studios.
This is as far as I have gotten.  I pulled out these fabrics, then I pulled out a bunch more of the brown and blue stuff, but I decided I was overwhelmed and put all but these away.  That fabric on the top is a really dark green.
In between watching the Packers win the Superbowl, I managed a little snow-dyeing this weekend.  I'll put up pictures after I wash them out.

For more design wall posts, click here to go to Judy's blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Resists: Rice and AP Flours

Or:  Further Adventures in Robbing the Pantry

This time, I was inspired by my friend, Karen, at RabbitsEatQuilts.  She has been playing with flour resists and I really liked her results.  So I decided to try it myself.

I mixed up some cheap all-purpose flour with water -- a 1:1 ratio.  That is, one cup flour to one cup cold water. I whisked it together, and using my putty scraper, I  put a thin layer on my fabric.  I let it dry and then painted over it with thickened dye.  Batched it overnight and then soaked it in a bucket of cold water for a couple of hours before I washed and dried it as usual.

I really like the pattern of the cracks -- the squiggly lines were done with a chopstick in the wet paste.

I should have used more dye in the thickener so that the whole thing was darker.

Like this.  The lines on this were made with a plastic fork in the wet paste.  I used a lot more dye when I mixed up the paste and got way better color.

I also tried some rice flour.  When I was at the store buying cheap AP flour (not the stuff I usually bake with), I strolled through the Asian section and found a bag of rice flour.  I thought, "why not?"  The first batch I mixed up was the same ratio as the AP (wheat) flour.  It was too runny, so I dumped in some more of the rice flour until it was a spreadable consistency.

I like the crackled pattern better with the rice flour.  But the second time I mixed it, I had trouble getting the right consistency -- I'll have to experiment some more with that.  It doesn't spread as easily as the wheat flour paste and when I drew in it with a chopstick or fork, it tended to get lumps and globs.  Much more than the wheat flour.

Again, I like it better with the more intense color, but the marks from the fork aren't as graceful as in the flour piece -- because the fork kept sticking in the paste.

Bottom line:  I like these flour resists much better than the potato stuff.  No cooking, quick mix-up, and, best of all, it rinses out of the fabric easily.  They dry a lot quicker too.  I did soak the fabric in a bucket of cold water for a couple of hours, but there was not the gooey mess that the potato left.  Also, this time of year I have to work in the house, so no nasty potato smell is a real bonus.

I had some thickened dye left over, so I set some fabric on a piece of bubble wrap and brushed it on.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How to Machine Piece a Lemoyne Star: Part 2

In the previous post, I left off before the diamond pieces were sewn to the background pieces.

At the machine, put the needle down through the dot.  I don't mark it on both sides because I can see where the pin was -- if you can't see the hole, it's not a bad idea to mark it before taking it to the machine.

With the needle down in the hole, put down the presser foot and remove the two pins.  Stitch forward one or two stitches, then backstitch  one or two stitches.  Stitch to the end of the piece, removing the remaining pin before you sew over it.

Make sure to leave that little bit at the beginning unstitched.

Stitch together all the diamond pieces to the background pieces.

 Cut the pieces apart and press the seam toward the diamond.

Arrange the diamond/background units into two piles.

Pick up one unit from each pile.  Poke a pin through the mark on the diamond attached to the background square, then poke the pin through the corresponding mark on the  diamond/triangle unit.

Match up the diamond points and pin.

 Turn the unit over and hold the first pin in between your index and middle fingers.  Twist the background  triangle around until it lines up with the edge of the diamond.

I usually make sure the triangle point lines up with the diamond point, then pin on each side of the first pin.

Add another pin at the other end of the seam.
Turn the unit back over and it should look like this.

Pin the other six units together so that there are four sets.

Stitch the diamond to the background triangle seam, then stitch the diamond to diamond seam.

 Press the diamond seam open and the background seams toward the diamonds.

Snip off that little point so it doesn't shadow through.

Arrange the four pieces into two piles.

As before, drop a pin through the marks and pin the points of the diamonds together, making sure to match the seams.

Twist the background square around so it lines up with the edge of the diamond and, as before, holding the pin straight between your fingers, slide a pin in on either side of the up and down pin.

Take it to the machine and sew the diamond/square seam first, starting at the mark and backstitching.

Then turn it around and sew the diamonds together.

Press the center seam between the diamonds open and press the background seams either toward the diamonds or not, depending on which way they want to go.  Sometimes the background/diamond seams are happier pressed toward the diamond.  Whichever makes it flatter is fine with me.

Now it's almost finished!  Take the two halves and line up the center seam.  I put a pin through the spot where the seams meet and pin that first.

Then, put a pin through the marks, as before, and twist the background square around to meet the edge of the diamond.

I sew the background/diamond seams first, starting at the mark and backstitching.

Then I start at one end of the center of the star and, backstitching at both ends, sew that seam together, making sure I sew right along where the seams meet.

Sometimes, I put a few stitches in right where the center is and check to make sure it's perfect -- then I don't have to undo that whole seam.

After it's sewn, press the center star seam open and the background whichever way it wants to go.

And viola!  A perfect Lemoyne star.  This process can be applied to any of the Lemoyne-based stars that I talked about in the previous post.