Saturday, October 31, 2009

Green Fields

Green Fields was just the working title for this latest quilt ~ I have two other names in mind when it's completed. It kind of felt like I dragged my feet on it this week, after quilting it several days ago. I think that was because I was deliberating about whether or not to bead it after binding. Finally I sewed the binding on today and decided I'd add a row or two of beads and then determine whether to continue on...and I did. So the quilt won't really be finished for a while yet.

This may be my favorite quilt to date. Perhaps it's because I'm such a "green" person. The piece excites me, I love each piece of fabric, all hand painted or printed, and the beads are like icing on the cake.

I had kind of an epiphany today, about making art and selling it. And the upshot is that although most of my work is and will be for sale, I'm not going to focus on trying to sell it any longer. I've always felt that I needed to try to sell my art, whatever it was that I produced at the time. I've always put a lot of energy into finding venues to sell, or doing shows, or now having an integrated online presence -- all in an effort to sell more work.

And you know what? over the years I have sold work, but I've never sold enough to make much of a difference for me, financially. Despite my best intentions, despite doing beautiful work whatever my medium at the time, despite major efforts to market myself and my work. I think my work appeals to a small group of people that I've never been able to figure out how to reach effectively. And I simply can't afford to invest more in what would be necessary to reach those folks, neither time nor money-wise.

My thinking now is that if I focus on creating art that I love, doing it for myself and for my artistic growth and development, that my work will sell when it sells, and I'll be a happier person for removing the selling struggle from my gameplan.

Toward the end of developing myself as a quilt artist, today I joined SAQA's Visioning Project. My goal for the year is to develop my artistic voice. Just taking the step of joining a team of thus-far close to 100 quilt artists made me feel like I was moving in the right direction. I've felt overwhelmed a lot in the last few months, mostly by all the possibilities for expression in this medium. I'm looking forward to having the support of a group to keep me focused on what I say I want to do.

And speaking of groups and support, a few weeks ago in a blog post I mentioned that I wanted to become part of an online quilt challenge group...but there wasn't one then looking for another partner...and several people contacted me about wanting to be in one if I wanted to start one...and I took some initial steps in that direction but came to realize that I didn't really have the energy or desire to organize such a thing...and two angels in the mix, Sue Bleiweiss and Vicky Welsh, took on the tasks of making us into a group. We don't have a name quite yet, but there are 13 of us, we'll do challenge quilts every two months starting mid-November, we'll have a group blog, and I'll fill you in with more info as it's available.

So good things are definitely happening for me artistically, in spite of my periodic overwhelm, confusion and seeming inertia!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Winding Things Down

My "Twenty Percent Off" sale on Textile Collage Postcards will end this Saturday. Don't miss out on this great deal on original small art! See them at my Etsy Shop, purchase there via PayPal, and I'll send you an immediate refund of 20% on your purchase.

Thanks for your support!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Early, This Week

This week's quilt is already it is, Shimmer (#44.09), another piece that spoke to me from my stash of shiboried fabric. And this one is a mate to Nightfall (#37.09). They look really terrific together.

I spent today completely quilting my green fields (working title) piece, and overdyeing a couple yards of fabric that were earlier LWI dyed with aging dye solution. They're in the dryer right now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Other Recent Work

I did another round of suminagashi (prints of oily ink on water) last weekend, primarily because I wanted to try coloring the prints with Caran D'ache watercolor crayons and metallic acrylic textile paints. This piece above has the latter. The watercolor crayons didn't work real well, at least how I used them, because the fabric was too wet when I colored the color dissipated too much. And I don't really care for the way the metallic paint worked either, so I probably won't try this again. Or possibly I'll wait til the fabric is dry, or nearly so before I color it.

I had several pieces of fabric prepared for this, meaning they'd been soaked in Bubble Jet Set and dried, so I did a few suminagashi prints without coloring them.

I actually like my results better than the first time I tried this. The pattern areas are much more well defined. Some of them remind me of Marimeko fabrics from the 1970s.

And now, for the latest in Industrial Chic, Scotty models his new coveralls, recently shiboried with khaki fiber reactive dye. He looks ready for anything, doesn't he!?

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Fabric Was Saved

This week's quilt has winter written all over it ~ hence it's name, Winter Promise (#43/09).

The background fabric is a piece I recently treated with potato dextrin, and then painted black fiber reactive dye over it. Yes, black, unbelievably. I had originally planned to dextrin and then paint the cracked areas with Dynaflow, but I couldn't figure out how I could heat set the paint before washing out the dextrin. So I painted dye on it instead. The two pieces I showed several posts ago had been soda soaked prior to the dextrin/dye steps, but this piece started out as white and hadn't been soda soaked. So I added soda ash to the dye.

Dextrin has the capacity to discharge some dyes, and I'm sure the combination of the weakened dye (adding soda ash dissolved in water to the already-prepared dye solution weakened it some) and the dextrin discharge created this unusual lilac color. I thought the fabric looked pretty yucky, which is why I never posted an image of it earlier. But combined with these other soft colored fabrics, it really worked! I particularly love the soft greens and purples together.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In The Works

I'm working on this new piece, inspired by the photo on the left. This image is from a couple of days ago, and I've since added some other areas, cut out and lightly fused the pieces to a thin muslin backing. Hoping to work on it this weekend.

I've also got my weekly quilt in process -- didn't get into town until yesterday to get the proper thread color. I'm liking it a lot, the background fabric is one of those not-so-great surface designed fabrics that often turn out to be exactly what's needed for a particular project.

Don't forget I've got delightful Textile Collage Postcards on sale at 20% off at Etsy, 'til the end of this month!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Those Prints I Promised

These are the deconstructed prints I made on Monday, didn't get the chance to upload them yesterday. I shot these images as the prints were drying. After washing, the colors are just a bit lighter.

The print above was from a screen that I'd partially printed off the last time I printed, then added more texture to it before using it this time.

This was the last two prints from a screen I used on already dyed and discharged fabric -- that piece turned out really dark and I actually favor this one.

This piece is eight pulls on the screen, four in one direction, four with the screen flipped around.

The graininess of this print was caused by alginate in the thickened dye that never quite dissolved. I recently switched from low-viscosity (for silk) alginate to high-viscosity (for cotton), and you need half of the latter but I think I used as much as I used to! There wasn't enough liquid to adequtely dissolve the thickener. But I sure like the print!

And this last piece also had eight pulls, although none reversed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Postcards On Sale!

Early Holiday Gift Idea ~ My Textile Collage Postcards are ON SALE NOW through the end of October, and they're available at my Etsy Shop, at 20 percent off the listed price. Make your purchase through Etsy/PayPal, and I'll immediately send you a refund for 20 percent of the item price.

And don't miss my On Sale Now section at Etsy, where you'll find greatly reduced handwoven scarves and early studio quilts.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Acts of Dyeness

Another technique I've been meaning to try for eons -- and finally did -- is potato dextrin resist. This is a process of making a paste of boiling water and potato dextrin (you can also use potato flakes or corn dextrin), and spreading it on fabric after it has thickened. When the dextrin has dried on the fabric, it will have shrunken and cracked, creating fine lines. Then the fabric is painted or dyed, batched, washed and finished like any other dyed or painted fabric.

In these two pieces, I used cotton fat quarters that were originally LWI dyed, and then soda soaked. After the potato resist dried and cracked, I applied black fiber reactive dye, let the fabric dry overnight, rinsed in cold water to remove the excess dye during which time the dextrin washed off the fabric, steamed it, then finished off with a wash in synthrapol.

I'd purchased the potato dextrin from ProChemical quite a while ago, but wasn't able last week to find their instructions I read Dharma Trading's instructions and followed those. The dextrin never thickened up like it should have, I didn't have time to use it the day I mixed it so left it in the refrig overnight, and still the next day it wasn't very thick -- which meant that it left pools of dextrin on the fabric that weren't thick enough to crack. I called ProChem, was directed to their instructions online, and sure enough, their recipe calls for nearly twice the amount of dextrin to the same 2 cups of water! I'll definitely do that next time.

These last two pieces were direct printed with items I used on deconstructed screens -- after applying thickened dye to the screens over these textured objects and pulling the objects off the screens, I turned them over, laid them on fabric, and applied pressure with my hands. The dye and the texture are just too good to waste!

Today in the studio I printed off most of the screens I prepared last week. I can't wait to show you those images -- I think they're my very best deconstructed prints yet!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Every Picture Tells A Story

I finished River of Regret today, the inspiration for which you can find in another recent post.The fabrics are variously printed or shiboried. It's a bit of an unusual piece for me, but I enjoyed making it.

Here's the backstory ~ I'm not sure what the original photo is of, but I'm pretty sure it's an aerial shot of some place in Asia, possibly China somewhere. The ponds look brackish and remind me of mine tailings or other industrial waste sites, places that are fallow and ruined, devoid of life.

Photos like this bring to mind how much damage we (collectively) have done to the planet, how we've caused extinction of so many species and raped the land of natural resources, leaving toxic deadness in our wake. Hence, the name River of Regret. It's not often that I mix politics and art, but I think I just did.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Substantial Matters

I finished my weekly quilt today, and this is it ~ Etheric Substance (#42.09). I imagined it differently when I was conceiving it, but I really like the way it turned out.

The quilt started out as one of my recent suminagashi prints on fabric. I used two layers of batting to enhance the relief. I quilted around the darker ink patterns, then filled in those areas with Shiva Paintstix. Then finished quilting it this morning, after letting the oil stick cure for about 36 hours.

I'm seeing this piece submitted to an upcoming show of small works that I'll be entering.

I nearly completed the other quilt I've been working on, the take-off on the magazine photo I posted a week or so ago. I just have to handstitch the binding. The quilt has a name already, River of Regret. I'll elaborate on the name when I post the photo, likely tomorrow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jar Dyeing Follow Up

Thanks for all your comments about yesterday's post.

A couple of you asked what colors I used and in what order. I started with lemon yellow at the bottom, then added different blues and purples in some order I can't remember, did add a bit of deep yellow to one of the blues to make green somewhere near the top, threw in some red-orange later on, and finished up with a purple, maybe amethyst.

The thing is, with this dyeing you can never repeat what you did before, and there are no mistakes. You've just got to try it. When I saw others' jars at the end, I was sure I'd used the "wrong colors."

Have fun with your own experiments!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dyeing In A Jar

On Monday I participated in a dyeing class given by Humboldt County quilt artist and dyer, Nola Flynn, at her home in Eureka. Several friends from my Art Quilt Group were also in attendance. I have to say that I love the results obtained from this method, more so than with any other low water technique I've yet tried. Thank You, Nola!

All of these fabrics were dyed in the same jar at the same time! Awesome, huh?

I'm a happy camper!

Monday, October 12, 2009

On The Wall

Work is going slowly on that new quilt I posted late last week ~ there's been so much else going on. I've been involved getting my new computer up to speed, which really hasn't been much of a big deal at all, but it does take time away from other things. And today I was at a dyeing class for a couple of hours, then did errands in Eureka before returning to Fortuna, then went to the recycling center with our semi-monthly load of stuff, then back to the studio for a bit, then had a slice of apple pie for supper, then uploaded a bunch of new photos to Flickr...and here it is 9:00 and the wind is blowing in advance of rain that's coming in tonight.

These three images show what's currently on two design walls. This stuff's been here a while, does have new fabrics thrown on or pulled off periodically. Not sure what, if anything, will become of the second and third pieces. But the one on top is beckoning to me.

In the "teaching old dogs new tricks" department, I'm loving Windows Vista. It's so much better than XP. I love the way everything looks on my new computer, the programs, my photos, everything. It feels like a new lease on life...which is always welcomed!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Missing Quilting

I've spent a lot of time in the studio this week getting ready to do other things ~ bubble jet setting more fabric for another round of suminagashi, mixing thickened dyes for more deconstructed screen printing, making up and spreading potato dextrin on fabric, which is now completely dry and waiting to be dyed or painted.

And I realized this morning that I've been missing quilting. My 10x10" weekly quilts aren't enough, and I haven't had any other immediate quilting projects. True, I have a couple of possibilities on my design wall awaiting further inspiration. But nothing right at hand.

So I grabbed this photo which has been hanging on my bulletin board, and it inspired me to create the quilt top in the first image. I thought it was pretty much done when I completed it this morning, but I see now that I'll probably go back in and do a bit more before I actually quilt it.

It's exciting because this is something I've wanted to do ~ find quilt inspiration in unusual photographs. And speaking of that, I've been thinking more about my personal quilting challenge for 2010, and at this point I've decided to do two quilts each month, one inspired by my paper collages, and one inspired by my textural photographic images.

And speaking of quilting challenges, I'm looking for a small group of art quilters to join to do periodic challenges, something similar to the Twelve By Twelve group. So if any of my readers are in a group like this and looking for another partner, or want to start something like this, please let me know!

And off the subject entirely, take a good look at the word "twelve" for a few moments, and it looks very strange, indeed!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stuffed Olives

Numerous potential names came to mind while I created this week's quilt, but I settled on Pimento Mori (#41.09), a takeoff on the Latin phrase Memento Mori, meaning "Remember you will die." Memento mori names a genre of artistic creations that vary widely from one another, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality.

I don't see this quilt as saying anything about mortality, I just liked how the name fit with the colors of pimento stuffed green olives. One of my possible names had something to do with martinis, which I don't like at all, but my dad loved them. And he'd always take 5 or 6 olives with each one he drank.

So perhaps this is my unwitting homage to my dad, who's birthday would have been in just a few days!

Monday, October 5, 2009


In a recent edition of the Dick Blick Educator Catalog, I saw a tutorial for something called Suminagashi Monoprints. Suminagashi, a Japanese word that translates as "spilled ink," is traditionally done on paper, and it's kind of like marbling. But instead of paint and marbling chemicals, it uses sumi ink, which is made from vegetable oil soot. I was intrigued and wanted to try it on fabric. So I ordered some of the sumi ink, which, incidentally, is very inexpensive.

So I finally tried it today. This is how it works: in a big pan of water about 1/2" deep, with a soft brush lay the ink on top of the water, and swirl it with the brush or with something else. Lay fabric on top for about 10 seconds, then lift the wet fabric off and lay it on newspaper to dry. That's all there it to it.

Yesterday I prepared some fabric with Bubble Jet Set, assuming that the sumi ink would be akin to dye-based inkjet ink. The first three prints shown here were done on the BJS treated fabric. This morning I reasoned that because the sumi ink is made from vegetable oil soot, it's probably more like a pigment ink, therefore I probably wouldn't need BJS. So I also printed some muslin without the BJS to try it out. Although the ink finished as permanent in either case, I like the prints better with BJS.

These last two photos are Suminagashi done on linen, without BJS. They turned out really well.

In the tutorial I mentioned, it says you can add color to the water plate with oil paint thinned with linseed oil. I didn't have any oil paint in the house and anyway, I was most intrigued with the black and white prints. But there's obviously a lot of potential for creating really unique patterned fabric with this method.