Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bits & Pieces

Here are the results of yesterday's dyeing fest, using up old dyes. As I mentioned in my last post, in addition to numerous half yards of muslin, I dyed small pieces of various natural fiber fabrics as well. Some of the best pieces are the small ones. I low water dyed four plastic shoe boxes with numerous fabrics in each, six quart sized plastic tubs, and a gallon jar parfait style. I'm quite happy with these fabrics and my stash is getting rather large!

And these are my three study pieces for the Convergence challenge quilt. The final piece is quite different from these, although I can see the evolution. Nevertheless, I don't think I'm giving anything away, here, which is why I'm showing them well before the group reveal on May 15.

This first piece is a fat eighth that I painted with numerous layers of watercolor crayons. Then I did columns of fine stitching on the stabilized fabric -- I was trying to do a thread sketching kind of thing, trying out different stitches. The straight line vertical rows and the rocks are the actual quilting.

The next piece I painted with Dynaflow and salted, then layered and quilted after drying. I showed a small section of this piece several posts ago.

The last study is made entirely of fabrics I stamped a couple weeks ago. I tried a different kind of facing on this piece than I usually do, and I think it turned out too bulky.

So there you have it!

Monday, April 26, 2010


Have you heard about or seen Poladroids yet? Poladroid is this free little app that sits on your desktop and turns any photo into a Polaroid lookalike quickly and easily. I first saw the photos on my Los Angeles-based blogging pal's Dispatch from L.A. blog over the weekend. What a hoot!

This is Kirby, incidentally -- our long and lanky kitty.

I finished my Convergence quilt over the weekend and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Because it's significantly different than the studies I did, I'll upload the latter during this week.

Today my plan is to use up old dyes that have been in the fridge for a couple of months. I tore up some old natural fiber clothing over the weekend to dye, along with some of the new, better muslin I have.

After a lovely, sunny weekend, the forecast is for rain, again, for the better part of this week. My new plants will get watered in their pots, since I didn't have the chance to put them in the ground over the weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Western Skies

I just love this piece! It's my latest digital quilt -- featuring another fabulous Fortuna sky photo -- called Western Skies and just finished this morning. The background fabric is one of my first shibori pieces from Jan Myers-Newbury's class last year at Eugene Textile Center. The striking color combo was just waiting for the perfect confluence of elements.

After finishing the quilt unbound, it needed something near the edges to frame it somehow. I decided on these small pieces of abalone left over from my jewelry-making days. I dug out my Dremel, drilled holes in the abalone, and stitched them on like buttons.

I'm really pleased with myself -- it's always a blessing when something turns out better than you'd expected it would!

Hoping to finish the Convergence challenge quilt this weekend, to be revealed on May 15. After spending so much time thinking about this piece and trying out various ideas on small study quilts, I'm definitely ready for this ship to sail!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Would You Believe Black?

I dyed that black shibori batch today, and these are my results.  Quite a spread of color, eh?  Remember, though, that the three pieces on the left had been dyed, discharged and overdyed before today's treatment.

The first piece was that loosely woven cotton scarf -- now a piece of fabric with the rolled edges ripped off -- and as we speak it's on my design wall with a digital image and some scraps, on the way to becoming a quilt.

This was one of the permanent press muslin pieces -- it dyed fairly light grass green in the last go round, now the black lines are actually brown on the fabric.
This is my handwoven scarf -- the fainter black lines are the original arashi lines.  The photo just below is about what the scarf looked like before I overdyed and overshiboried it...

...although in reality this is the same photo as above, but photographed without flash.

Here's an interesting comparison -- both pieces were unbleached, previously undyed muslin, the one on the right with permanent press treatment, the one on the left without.  Same black dye bath.  Amazing, huh?

And this last beautiful fabric is a small piece of silk chiffon.  A year or more ago I shiboried the circles onto it.  Yesterday I folded it in half lengthwise numerous times, attached the top of the bundle to one end of a 1" diameter dowel piece (about 12" long), and twisted the silk as I wound it around the dowel.  Scrunched it down and then rubber banded the other end.  This is a new technique to me, something I just learned from Mandy Southan's Shibori Designs & Techniques.  Awesome technique for really fine fabrics!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Small is Beautiful

After lamenting yesterday that I felt as though I'd lost my way, today I created this small piece, 8.5x11 inches.  I feel as though I've come full circle, in a way, because I've been looking a lot recently at Jane Davila and Elin Waterston's Art Quilt Workbook -- which is the first book I purchased on art quilting.  Sometimes -- usually -- simple is better.  Simple as in uncomplicated.

I've been thinking too much about trying to make my work look like a preconceived idea I have for it should be -- this is especially true in my laboring over the forthcoming Convergence-themed challenge quilt.  Today I got back to following my intuition, and consequently I'm feeling much looser again.  Matter of fact, after three small finished pieces where I attempted to achieve something I imagined for this challenge quilt, I put all those ideas aside, listened to my gut, this afternoon auditioned fabrics for that quilt, and I plan to have it completed by middle of this week.

I feel like things are flowing smoothly again!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another Evening in Paradise

I finished this quilt this week, the first of hopefully many quilts based on Fortuna sky photos.  This piece is called Eel Valley Sunset, and it's about 14x18 inches.  To be honest with you, I'm not sure I even like it.  But here it is.  There are things I would do differently now, but it's on to the next one.  This is how we learn, isn't it?  I don't like the binding here...after not binding quilts for several months, I've recently been moved to bind some again, but I think I could have left it off this one.  Oh well.

The digital photo is really great, though.  The skies here are fantastic and more sky quilts are lined up in my mind.  Right now, though, I'm in a bit of a slump.  Doing things, moving forward, but less than on fire about anything.  I'm also in one of my periodic creative overwhelms -- so much to do, so much to try, I want to do it all, there isn't time to do it all...

And then there's the Convergence challenge quilt, due in less than a month, and I'm still fiddling around with possibilities, nothing firm in mind yet.  Perhaps I'll spend this weekend just focusing on that, let everything else go for a while until I'm back in my groove.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Grass Green

Here's that stack of fabric from my olive shibori batch -- the fabrics I hadn't liked -- after discharging and overdyeing.  Quite a color variation on the different fibers.  From the bottom, there's raw silk, muslin, an old linen napkin, a fairly loose woven cotton scarf...then a handwoven piece, made from cotton warp and crepe rayon weft, and last a silk and cotton handwoven scarf that I wore for a couple of years before deciding to throw it into the dyepot yesterday.  The color was kind of washed out -- an early dye job for me -- and the original arashi lines weren't very dark.  This scarf was my very first go at arashi. 

My plan is to tie, wrap and stitch these up again for another round of shibori, likely with black dye.

I had a major Aha this week, a solution to a mystery that had been plaguing me for a couple of months, that I really couldn't get my hands around until I rinsed out those two shibori batches.  Most of the fabric I use for dyeing is muslin -- because that's what I can afford.  I haven't been too bothered by the fact that muslin doesn't dye as brilliantly as the PFD fabrics, because I prefer muted colors for the most part.  But when I started doing all those dyeing experiments a couple months ago, my results were really disappointing.  I assumed it was the amount of dye I used in my various formulas and/or any number of other variables.  Well what I realized this week -- big DUH here -- is that the last couple of bolts of muslin I used were permanent press!  No wonder the fabric just wouldn't take the dye well.  Sheesh.  Well, lesson learned, mystery solved, new bolt of non-permanent press muslin purchased, and lots of fabric now in my stash for quilt backs!

So now the question is -- do I want to replicate those dye trials with the new fabric?  That remains to be seen...I've got so much on my plate right now, wish I had about eight more hours each day!

My Spring Celebration Sale -- it was going to end tomorrow -- has been extended throughout spring...yep, until June 20, the last day of spring.  Why not!  Twenty-five percent off everything on my Sales Blog and my Etsy Shop until June 20.  Don't miss out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yin & Yang

Ah yes, a new Blogger posting format...just when I got really comfortable with the last one!

I finished off two batches of shibori today -- one turned out magnificently, the other rather stunk!  Hence the title Yin & Yang.  These are the best pieces and pics.  They're all from the teal batch, except for the circles piece, which is one of only two pieces that I liked from the olive batch.  The other pieces in that batch I discharged and will dye again.

Just above, this is a little square piece of cotton that I folded into the center, flipped over and folded again several times -- like one of those paper finger things we used to make as kids.  I really liked the way this turned out, will definitely try again.

Old linen hankie with hand stitched mokume shibori.

Heavy cotton/rayon with little rocks put in all over, bundled and tied individually.

I'm happier with this piece of fabric than anything else I've ever dyed!  It's half of an old linen damask tablecloth, shiboried on a pole.

An old linen hankie, wrapped and scrunched down on a pole, then overtied with heavy thread.

My primary experiment with these two batches was to use dye colors that I mixed myself from primaries, and then leave the batches overnight so that the colors would separate to whatever degree they would.  The photo above is everything from the teal batch.  The most color separation in this batch occurred in the raw silk piece, the fourth from the bottom which shows some of the yellow in the color, and the muslin pieces on top show more of the small amount of fuchsia in the mix.

The olive batch didn't work very well although there was a wide range of color variation.  Below are the two good pieces from this batch -- the circles piece from above, plus a pole wrapped piece with pleats wrapped in.  This last piece is handwoven of silk and linen.  Lots of color separation here.

So, all in two days work!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tying Up Loose Ends

I taught a stamping class yesterday to my local art quilt group, and what a blast we had!  We focused on carving with SoftKut blocks from Dick Blick, and making stamps with sticky-backed foam cut and applied to thicker foam.  You can get the sticky-backed foam just about anywhere.  Stamps made with both these materials are really easy to use -- they both take paint or ink really well, and because they're soft and have give, you don't have to work on a padded table or print board.

These two pieces are a couple of my fabrics that I stamped over.  What a wonderful thing to do with "iffy" or "icky" fabric!

Now I'm focusing on finishing up projects in process, including UFIs -- Un Finished Ideas...you know, those thoughts you have about stuff you want to try, maybe the ideas make it to your sketchbook or notepad, but somehow you never have time to try them out.  A couple weeks ago I started putting together a batch of pole wrapped, folded and tied fabrics for shibori...and today I spent the day finishing off enough for two dye batches, which I'll put up tomorrow morning and leave overnight to batch.  I've got a lot of different types of fabric here -- including two handwoven pieces that I've been saving since I wove them in late 2008.

Incidentally, my favorite shibori books are these, each highly recommended ~~

For the past year or so, most of the shibori I've done has been quick folding or easy pole wrapping.  It's been a while since I actually spent the time to do proper arashi (pole wrapping) with or without resulting pleats in the fabric, hand stitching, and wrapping with string or cord rather than using rubber bands.  But that's what I've been up to this time, which is why it took me so long to get two buckets worth of pieces to dye.  I'll post photos Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, I'm planning to make headway this week on last week's list of stuff to do!  Seems like it's taking longer to get stuff done these days -- or probably I just have too high expectations for what I can accomplish in a week or a month!

It poured for most of today, but now the sun's out, it's partly cloudy, breezy, and beautiful.  A lovely end to a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Immediate Do-Over

Here's my latest digital quilt, called Sunrise. The finished size is about 12x18 or so -- I forgot to measure it! I originally finished it early yesterday, but the binding, which was the same fabric as the backing, was too garish...a very bright orange and white batik. So after I finished stitching the binding in place and after sewing seed beads in the ditch around the edge and after photographing the piece...I took it apart and attached the binding you see. Plus put the beads back on! And rephotographed it.

What else have I been up to in the studio? I painted a third study for the Convergence challenge. I'm slowly pole wrapping and stitching a variety of fabrics for an upcoming shibori dye bath. I'm wanting to use up some dyes that have been in the fridge for over a month now, hope to get to that this weekend. I have a fourth idea in mind for Convergence that I want to block out. Another digital piece ready to quilt. Another one designed, and ready for batting and backing.

I've been playing with images of my young kitty, Kirby, but I'm waiting for a new print head for my Canon before I commit to fabric. I swore I'd never use non-OEM ink cartridges when I got my Canon about 18 months ago, but not long ago I bought a black one to try. So of course, the dang thing messed with my print head, I couldn't ever get it clean again, and I had to order a new one yesterday. The bad cartridges plus a new print head cost me about what a set of Canon cartridges would have cost me. Lesson learned. At least Canon cartridges are less expensive and more cost effective than Epson or HP.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Celebration Sale!

To celebrate 500 fans at my Facebook Fan Page, and 300 subscribers to this blog, I'm having a huge sale at my sales blog, as well as at my Etsy Shop. Everything listed in both places is 25 percent off the marked prices.

To purchase from the blog, email me what you'd like and I'll send you a PayPal invoice with the discounted price(s). If you don't have a PayPal account, you can pay the invoice with a credit card.

To purchase from Etsy, place your order there, and when I am notified of your purchase, I will send you a discounted invoice through PayPal. You can also go all the way through the Etsy/PayPal purchase process, in which case I'll send you an immediate refund of 25 percent of the purchase price of your items.

Thanks SO MUCH for your support and readership!

Now, for the business at hand -- the photo is a partial image of a piece I did over the weekend. I've been experimenting more with Dynaflow textile paints, which is what you see in the photo, along with some stamped Lumiere. I'm really happy with the stitching on this piece. I've been thinking about quilting stitches a lot lately and looking at many other artists' work and how they do what they do. I'm kind of coming to the conclusion that quilting stitches are kind of like dance steps -- eventually you make them your own, develop your own repetoire.

I'll have another digital image quilt for you to see tomorrow, and I've got two sky quilts in process. It kinda feels like I'm going to put all my other challenges on the shelf this month. We'll see as the month unveils itself!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Series Within a Series

I've had a busy week, with not a lot to show for it -- yet, anyway. I completed the first go-round for my convergence-themed challenge quilt and decided to move on, in terms of finding another way to articulate my idea. This weekend I'll move onto the second effort.

As I began putting fabrics together for several new digital image quilts, a new series within that series emerged...small pieces built around images I've been taking recently of the skies over Fortuna CA where I live. I've been so enchanted these last few months with photos of the sky that my Textural Images blog is featuring those images exclusively these days. One of the best things about living where I do now is the open view of the sky with the surrounding hills, the Eel River within shouting distance, and the Pacific Ocean minutes from my door. More inspiration than one person can make use of in a lifetime.

BIG NEWS: I'm having a sale -- a big Spring Celebration Sale -- on both my sales blog and at my Etsy Shop. Soon as I hit 500 fans on my Facebook FanPage -- and I'm at 497 right now -- the sale will begin. Everything listed at both sites is on sale at 25 percent off the listed price! So if you're not already a fan, go there now, become a fan, then you can start shopping right away. I will make the price adjustments on either your PayPal invoice, or by sending you a refund if you pay right away at Etsy. Email me if you need more info about this.

Have a wonderful weekend!