Friday, November 27, 2009

Affordable Art for the Holidays

You have wonderful options if you are thinking about buying art this holiday season. Check out The Fine Art Department, Small Art Showcase, and Whimsical Paintings

Mindscape, small textile paintingEach site features a variety of artistic styles and media, each offers original art that is highly affordable, and all three sites are run by the artists represented, which means all proceeds from sales go to the individual artist.

This is a great opportunity to start or build an art collection, bring beauty into your life and share it with others, and support artists -- all at the same time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just Named

I finished this week's quilt today, and just now decided on its name... Coin Of The Realm (#49.09). Deconstructed print fabrics with a tiny piece of batiked fabric in the dots of Lumiere. I love Lumiere on fabric!

The weather was gorgeous today, not a cloud in the sky. Warmish, as well. Looks like it'll be lovely right up until Thanksgiving, when there's a better than 50/50 chance of rain.

After working at my job Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I'll have six days off -- a mini vacation! Hope to get a lot of designing and quilting done over the holiday weekend. You'll most likely hear from me before the end of the week, but in case you don't check in again, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, and speaking of Thanksgiving...I do want to say how grateful I am for all you dear readers and fans of my work. In the last couple of months, my readership has grown nearly 100% over what it was prior, my daily hits are twice what they were, and I am very thankful to have you all on board. My love and hugs to you all!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Collage Inspiration

I finished this piece today, my first 16x12" collage-inspired quilt, called Morning Prayer. This is the format I'll be using for my personal twice-monthly challenges next year, and this is also the first piece that completely satisfies my stated requirements for my SAQA vision quilts -- based on a collage of mine, and 16x12." The original collage is just below.

The foundation fabric for the piece is an old linen damask napkin, dyed at least once and discharged. I never totally liked the piece but it wasn't bad enough to do anything else to, so it sat in my blue/purple stack waiting for just this moment to be used. The vertical and horizontal bars are two of my favorite deconstructed screen prints, the fabric with white in it was a glue screen print, and the alter piece in the middle of that started out as a reject for a textile collage postcard!

I totally enjoyed making this piece -- I used some different, for me, quilting lines, and the new free motion foot worked like a charm!

We went to a wonderful Thanksgiving potluck here at the mobile home park tonight, and I can't remember having had such a delicious turkey supper before! It was really awesome. Unfortunately, I ate too much! But oh well, it was worth it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back In Business

After a challenging few days without a sewing machine, I'm back in business with a brand new backup machine -- my luck, my Bernina will never have problems again!

Anywho, this piece, Autumn's End (#47.09), is a small section of one of the half yards I dyed not long ago during that Gallon Jar Dye session I attended. And I really just wanted to quilt a piece of it without anything else added.

I like the new Singer Confidence Quilter -- although the free motion embroidery foot that came with it was nearly impossible to quilt with, because I couldn't see where I was going. I had to intuit most of the stitching because the foot itself was in the way of my view of where I wanted to go next. Well, I bought a different foot later today so hopefully my quilting this weekend will be more to my liking. But I can't wait to get my Bernina back!

I've got a few projects to finish up this weekend...I feel like I've fallen behind!

In other news, late last year I participated in a cool multi-artist blog started by painter Tracy Helgeson, and it's all been updated this year with new work by all the artists. Check out The Fine Art Department. We've also got a Facebook Page with links and galleries of all our work. Check them both out, see what wonderful company I'm in!

Have a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Latest In Rusting

A young designer studying fashion in Los Angeles contacted me last week, to rust several yards of silk for her for a special fashion project she's working on. Most of my rust work has been on cotton, so just this week I rusted these silk fabrics. The one above is crepe de chine, and it turned out just beautifully.

This second piece was a lark, really...a silk chiffon scarf that I dyed about a year ago, that I rusted this week. The blue is actually a lot more teal than it looks in the photo. But the rust on top of the dye is really something, isn't it!

Hoping to get back to quilting in the next couple days. I bought a second sewing machine today -- a Singer Confidence Quilter -- since I don't expect to see my Bernina again for close to a month...if I'm lucky, some say :( There's a lesson in here somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is...let's see, could it be "Don't buy foreign made electronic equipment if you live in a small town and there's only one dealer and their regular repair person has retired or is out on extended medical leave"? The next closest dealer is 200 miles away, round trip. I'm certainly not up for two of those trips, seeing that my machine may require parts from Switzerland.

What I think I dislike just as much as having to wait, is the local Janome dealer, who tried to talk me into an off-brand, made in China machine, told me I'd likely have to wait 2-3 months to get my Bernina back from the other dealer, and threw in that he couldn't, or wouldn't work on certain Singer models, so I likely made a mistake in buying that. I detest being on the receiving end of retail fear mongering. Although it is a difficult proposition buying equipment such as a sewing machine in an area where there's no competition to speak of and a lack of qualified repair personnel.

Whatever. I'm counting on my new Singer to work just fine. And it's got everything I need -- drop feed, needle up/down button, and a free motion embroidery foot. If you've got one of these and you're not happy with it, please don't tell me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Design Time

As soon as I began quilting one of the pieces above today, my machine decided to have power management issues. to Eureka with it tomorrow! Consequently I had much of today to think about and design new work.

The purple piece above is a collage-inspired piece...the pea green/gold piece is something I've had in the works for a few weeks, now ready to quilt...the other green piece is this week's little quilt, a whole cloth piece of fabric I dyed recently...and the neutral colored piece is a texture study I'm doing as an exercise in Lyric Kinard's recent book, Art + Quilt. Since I never had any formal design training, I thought I'd pick up a few books on the subject, and learn some new things. I also got Ann Johnston's Quilter's Book of Design which I'll get into at a later date.

This is another collage piece in development. I've also been spending a lot of time thinking about Fiberactions' first theme, Initiative. I've enjoyed mind mapping and brainstorming with myself, researching the word in several dictionaries and Roget's Thesaurus, and strategizing how I might represent what the word evokes in me, in fabric. I hit on something today that I'll take to the next step of development. Our first project is due January 15.

Some of you may know that I have another blog, Textural Images, where I post photos, of life in Humboldt County, that have been tinkered with in Photoshop Elements. I decided in the last few days to focus my photography on the sky, since it is an everchanging source of awesome imagery. I should start posting the new photos in a week or so, soon as I finish off with the last series I shot.

And now twilight has set in and the trees' silhouettes are stunning against the evening sky!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Odds

I finished this piece's called Snake Eyes. This is my first quilt where I replicated one of my collages, with digital images on fabric. The collage is just below.

The sections of the collage that aren't parts of the python are torn pieces from a sheet of paper that I deconstructed printed a while back. This is also a very cool thing to do -- printing off a few pieces of paper with deconstructed screens at the same time you're printing fabric. The kind of kelly green splotches on white backgrounds were Shiva paintstix on paper.

I like how the whole piece translated to fabric, and quilting it was a pleasure. I used four different green threads. The images were printed on linen, and right to the edge of the fabric. I overlapped the sections slightly, then zigzagged with transparent thread. The other way to tile the fabric sections, of course, is to leave a border when printing, then stitch the pieces together right sides together. I wanted to avoid a thick seam, though, which is why I chose to overlap the sections.

I'm working on a few pieces now that are based on or influenced by collages I've done recently. Although the piece here is 16x20, the other ones will be 12x16. I'm planning a whole series of them throughout 2010. I anticipate some will be complete digital images on fabric while others will be machine appliqued collages in their own right, based on the paper collages.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Visions and Magic

First things's this weeks quilt, Rainy Day (46.09). It was raining yesterday, and I was thus inspired. Actually, the fabrics really spoke to me of a rainy day. I'll say more about this later.

The more aqua pieces here were parts of a larger piece of linen that I deconstructed screen printed very early this year. I had about a quarter yard, fully printed, and I kept pulling it out and looking at it, couldn't decide what to do with it...until I ripped it up yesterday and pulled off all the color areas that I didn't like. It was much easier to work with in smaller sections. And the greener areas had always bothered me. Actually, they look great together by themselves, but didn't go well with the aqua and brown. Another lesson here: Sometimes you have to rip something apart to get it to work!

So, I've been thinking alot about my vision and finding my creative voice. My stated vision for SAQA's Visioning Project IS to find my creative voice, and I've been mulling it over for months, now. A day or two ago on her blog, Leni Wiener had a fantastic post about this very thing ~ I encourage you to read it. I can tell you that it really shifted my thinking, in that it made me realize that I already AM operating from my creative voice...I just need to listen!

And when I say I need to listen, I mean I need to have the courage to exercise my own artistic convictions and not cower away from the multitudes who do things differently or who think differently than I do, or might, about what constitutes studio quilting as an art form.

Being new to this medium, I have tended to take a somewhat dim view of what I've produced in this past year, because it is different from most everything else I see -- and I look at other studio quilters' work all the time. I have thought that with enough time and practice, I could produce work that looked like anybody else's work than my own. But the reality is, I can only produce my own work, it is what comes out of me, it is my voice. And with time and practice, it will be my own work evolved, still not somebody else's work. Really, this is a huge relief!

In her article, Leni said that finding her voice was as much about what she felt she did well as it was about what she wanted to leave behind. This, too, is a huge relief...because there are so many techniques that I don't ever want to have to master, so many tried and true methods that just don't speak to me. So focusing on how I enjoy working is tremendously freeing ~ and also part of my creative voice.

Right from the get go with art quilting, I felt that I wanted to "let the fabric speak for itself." Indeed, I started quilting because I was beginning to create cool fabrics that just wanted to be quilted. But so many folks say you have to tell a story with a quilt, or you've got to be ever so mindful of the proper components of good design, or you've got to have color contrast, or you need to make a political statement, or you have to have the proper amount of quilting on your quilt, or the hanging sleeve needs to be just so, or whatever! Those "shoulds" are just other folks' voices, literally and figuratively.

As with all art, there's so much of it that I just don't get. I see work in all media that just blows my mind...because in my opinion it's just so bad. Like, who in their right mind would pay for something like that, whatever it is, or even consider living with it in their home. And yet this thing is in a prestigious gallery or a museum. It's all so subjective.

So, I'm following my muse, which is my voice, and I'm going to do what pleases me. And if nobody likes my work, then so be it. I know that isn't true, anyway. But I'm just saying. I can't be anybody but myself. And myself loves making fabric, loves designing quilts around the fabric, loves quilting the organic designs on the fabric. And this is where the magic comes in ~ when I put a cool piece of fabric that I've created or a quilt top of numerous fabrics I've created on top of batting and a backing, and I quilt it, the fabric comes alive for me. The fabric tells its own story, like Rainy Day, above.

What else is it, really, that I need to say with my work?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Framing Quilts

I finished framing these three 10x10" quilts and I'm really happy with how they turned out. Because these pieces were completed earlier, my best option for framing them was to simply adhere them to the surface of a framed canvas.

But I didn't want to put them on plain white canvas, so I painted the canvas first with metallic acrylic paint. Mostly I wanted the edges painted, but I covered inside the edge on both the front and rear, so no white canvas would show. After the paint dried, I glued on a piece of heavy butcher paper to seal the back of the frame. In the photo above, the butcher paper has been applied to the painted canvas.

When that was fully dry, I took an X-Acto knife right along the edge to trim off the excess paper. Added a screw eye and picture wire.

These little quilts had already been finished with fabric hanging corners, so I removed those before gluing them on the frames. With Elmer's glue, I adhered the quilt to the frame, covered it with white paper, and laid a dictionary on top for an hour or two. This gluing method I learned from Jeanne Williamson, who had the chutzpah to actually glue a quilt to a frame. Thanks, Jeanne. It worked beautifully! I have two small pieces hanging in my home that I want to frame now.

The fabric-corners-and-dowel method, which I learned from Beth Wheeler, has worked thus far with these small quilts, and is definitely a good option for hanging quilts around my studio. But as my thinking about Quilts as Art is evolving, I'm quite sure framing is a better option for small(er) work -- which to me means 16x20" or under. Incidentally, Dick Blick is having a terrific sale on frames til the end of the year. I just ordered a truck load!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fields Of Dreams

At long last, Fields Of Dreams is complete! How many thousands of beads later, I'm not sure. The entire surface was embellished with size 11 seed beads, with a few 6s and 8s thrown in. Once I added beads to one section, I couldn't not bead the entire thing. But it's likely I won't do that again real soon!

The rusty areas became pumpkin patches, although they weren't that in the original photograph. The pumpkins, though, lead me to give this quilt a second name, Victoria's Garden. My best friend, Vicky, grows amazing organic gardens every year, and her husband used to raise and enter competitions with giant pumpkins. So this piece is an homage to their nearly-complete food sustainability.

And speaking of pumpkins, I have a sweet potato pie in the oven as I write this ~ even better than homemade pumpkin pie IMO. Interesting that I've been baking pies for the past couple months, three of them so far, anyway. I guess it's early-onset holiday season!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Love A Good Challenge!

The other day I mentioned the new quilt challenge group I'm a part of and we're newly online as Fiberactions. There are 13 of us from around the globe, we come from different creative backgrounds although we've all been working in fiber in one way or another for quite a while.

Our first challenge will begin on November 15 and we'll have two months to complete each quilt. The next theme will be announced on the day we post our finished quilts. We'll be rotating amongst the 13 of us to choose the theme each time.

The Fiberactions blog has links to all of our individual blogs, and we'll be posting finished pieces there, as well as narratives we write about our work. I'm really looking forward to being in this group for the next two years plus, looking forward to our individual growth as artists and our collective growth as an online guild, which in essence we will be.

Hope you enjoy our work, as well. Check out the blog and take a look at all the talent in this powerful group of 13 women!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Creation Myth

This week's quilt is called Creation Myth (#45.09). The name came to me as I worked on it because the digital image herein reminds me somehow of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Don't ask me how or why!

The image is actually a macro shot of bark on an old apple tree, and I printed it on raw silk. It was one of my very first digital images on fabric and I came across it last weekend and wanted to use it in a small quilt. The shibori pieces I'd thrown in the pot a couple weeks ago when I tie dyed Scotty's coveralls. And the quilt has been enhanced with metallic paintstix.

I've spent most of the last three days putting beads on my green fields quilt, a daunting effort which I'm glad I didn't fully consider before I began beading it -- or I might not have done it at all! I'm about three quarters finished now and it's dazzling!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reclaiming Ugly Fabric

I've had a pile of ugly fabrics set aside to discharge, and I did that today. The fabrics were originally low-water dyed in different batches over a period of time. Some had been dry samples when they had the dye poured over them...and despite the fact that some dyers recommend using dry fabric instead of prewetted fabric (which I highly prefer) for low water immersion, everytime I do that I inevitably get undyed white spots on my fabric. So some of today's discharge batch had unsightly white spots to begin with.

And some of the pieces today had been low-water dyed with old stock solutions, and the colors were really washed out. These fabrics I overdyed recently, with dyes that were too intense, so I wanted to release some of the color.

I had maybe nine pieces of varying sizes and I prepared them for shibori, by either wrapping on poles or folding and clamping in one way or another.

The first piece, above, I totally love. The second and third are good enough to use somewhere. The rest I pitched out!

The moral of the tale is this: sometimes ugly fabric just cannot be saved. Adding more dye, or discharging something that makes you wince is simply not going to make it better. It's just a waste of dye or other resources!