Thursday, May 27, 2010


I've really been into these lush greens lately! Just finished this 12x12" piece, called Verdure, which is going right on a stretched canvas frame.

God, I'm tired of all the rain we've been having on the North Coast. The weekend is supposed to be nice, then a chance of rain again next week. Next week is June! Enough, already!

North Coast Open Studios is happening the first two weekends in June -- the 5th & 6th, and the 12th & 13th -- and my studio will be open to the public from 11-5 those days. If you're in Humboldt County and you're not already a Friend of mine on Facebook, email me and I'll make sure you get an invitation next week. I spent some time this week going through all the art I have sale, and I've got a huge selection -- likely 40 or more art quilt pieces, 3 trays of jewelry, hand dyed fabrics, and more.

In truth, I am "unofficially" doing Open Studios...meaning, I didn't decide early enough to make it into the guidebook or on NCOS' website. But I'm always in the studio on Saturdays and Sundays anyway, I have a huge selection of art at better-than-anywhere-else prices, I'll be notifying local friends by email next week, I'll have refreshments, and you're welcome to come on down to Fortuna and see me.

I've been thinking about the fact that it's been two months since I let go of those numerous monthly artmaking challenges I set out for myself this year. You know what? I haven't been any less productive -- I'm still completing 7 or 8 pieces a month (albeit small), I've done a lot more surface design than it seemed I had time to do in the first 3 months of this year, and I like what I'm doing a whole lot more! And for now, I've kind of settled into incorporating digital images into my art quilts...which WAS on my vision plan for the year anyway. Guess I had to get that other stuff out of the way first -- the collage image-based quilts, the quilts inspired by digital images but not including them -- to get here.

The thing is, I absolutely love putting fabrics together, and I love digital imagery on fabric. Seems like a marriage made in heaven. So I plan to carry on in this vein for a while.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quilted Pet Portraits

My latest portrait of BeeGee -- made from start to finish on Sunday with the intention of having it on display at the Sequoia Humane Society. I'm loving the way these are turning out...and I'm also loving that I'm finally learning what I've wanted to know about creating layers in Photoshop! The backing fabric is a fat quarter that I recently deconstructed screen printed over a dye paint job.

So as I mentioned last week, regarding these quilted pet portraits, I will be taking custom orders for them through SHS and donating a portion of the proceeds back to the Humane Society. If you're interested in ordering a portrait of your pet, email me and I'll email you a flyer. All I need to make one is a jpg image file via email, your color preference(s) and selected size. All info is on the flyer. Payment will be through PayPal.

I'll be making a donation to SHS for any and all custom orders, whether they come through the Society or not!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Next In Line

My latest digital image quilt, completed yesterday, Desert Waltz, 22x18 inches. The image is an early collage. Notice the couple waltzing in the desert at lower left corner. That little piece was from a greeting card I had maybe 20 years in a collection of ephemera.

I gave myself a studio holiday yesterday afternoon, came home and watched movies. I saw It's Complicated and Nine. Both good, Nine better IMHO. Wonderful to see Daniel Day-Lewis in such an unusual part for him. Like the best actors, he just gets better with age...although I'm not an actor, I hope I do, too!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Special Project

This is the special project I mentioned Monday morning -- a 10x10" quilt of Kirby, entitled Psycho Kitty, that will be mounted on a frame today. I made this because I'm going to have a few of my pet portraits on display at the Sequoia Humane Society, where I work as bookkeeper/webmaster. I'll be offering custom quilted pet portraits, with a portion of the proceeds being donated back to SHS.

Now I've got to make a couple of new portraits of BeeGee, since the Kirby quilts are far more indicative of my current quilting style than the earlier ones of BeeGee.

Also yesterday, I completed another quilt in process, which I'll upload tomorrow. I seem to be on a roll this week!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Play

I had a great time this weekend playing with soy wax...but before I get into that, I want to follow up to what I did earlier in the week with the last of the potato dextrin resist. Here's the photo of the dried paste. After painting it with dyes and letting it batch, the result was that there was hardly any patterning on the fabric at all. I think the resist was too thick for the dye to penetrate the fabric, although it looked like it did on the back of the fabric when I dyed it. So, I'm thinking there's a limit to how thick you can smear this stuff on and still get cracked lines. I'll use potato dextrin applied thinner for fine lines in the future.

Okay, onto the batik. The piece at top had been dyed previously. After waxing (the larger light areas), I overprinted with thickened dye using a roller that has felt dots glued onto it. That's how I got the smaller dot areas.

This piece was printed with black dye over a waxed screen.

This piece and the one just below were my "blotting sheets" under the primary piece being waxed. So each one had two or three different waxed pieces on top. Originally I tried using a plastic sheet under the piece being waxed, as recommended by one of the surface design "masters," but I found that created a lot of mess scraping the wax off the plastic. With fabric underneath, it's like getting something for nothing! I may or may not rewax one or the other of these.

This one was predyed, then waxed using an old egg beater as a stamp. I'll likely do another layer or two on this piece.

This piece had wax brushed on it.

Wax and discharge paste on a previously dyed piece.

And this piece is my favorite of the bunch. Previously dyed, wax brushed on the fabric with corrugated cardboard underneath the fabric. Then discharged.

I'm loving soy wax batik. The only thing I haven't gotten it to do satisfactorily is the typical batik crackle. Soy wax is quite pliable, compared with the original paraffin or paraffin/beeswax batik waxes, and it's harder to get it to crack. I ever tried putting a piece in the freezer for a couple hours, but that didn't work well. If anybody reading here has tried to crackle with soy wax and been successful at it, please let me know how you did it!

I've spent so much time on surface design recently that the quilting projects are stacking up. Although I've got a couple pieces in process -- including one piece that's been partially quilted -- I have a 10x10" kitty portrait I'll be making first this week, for a special project.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stairway to Heaven

I made this 10x10" framed piece recently, for a one-on-one exchange with my online pal and fellow Fiberactions challenge group member, Judy Alexander. As luck would have it, 1) this weekend was her birthday and she received the quilt just before; and 2) she's a long time fan of Led Zeppelin, so the name of the quilt really resonates for her. I'm so glad!

The central image is one of my digital photos from Italy, circa late 2007, recently transformed with the PolaDroid app. I just love the colors!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Convergence Revealed

Today is reveal day for Fiberactions' convergence-themed challenge, and here's my finished piece.

From the start I had this idea of somehow representing two colors or two elements that flowed together to join in the middle. I created three study pieces trying out different ways to articulate the idea, and posted those three attempts late last month. The last of the three, the one closest to the bottom of the post, was the precursor to the final piece, which I've titled Where Heaven Meets Earth. Sky coming down to the horizon, earth going up, meeting in the middle.

All the fabrics were hand dyed, painted or shiboried. I decided to keep the quilting really simple -- lines that look like strata -- and then beaded along the stitching lines on the interstitial fabrics.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Soy Wax Discharge

Okay, this is probably my new favorite thing to do -- soy wax discharge! The only time I did soy wax batik was nearly 2 years ago and I've been anxious to get back into it (where does the time go?). I hadn't done batik discharge before, though, so I started off with that today.

The first three of these pieces were commercial black fabric. The one on top was discharged with bleach. First I tried bleach gel -- which I've never had great results with -- but it was discharging too slowly for I mixed up some 50/50 bleach and water and brushed it on. Ten minutes later, this is what it looked like!

The second piece was discharged with thiox paste, which I've been wanting to try. I used a paste made of 1 tsp soda ash (dissolved in a small amount of very hot water), 1 tsp thiox, and 1/2 cup of alginate print paste. Brushed that all over the waxed piece, when ironed between sheets of newspaper. I wasn't real happy with the amount of discharge, so I increased the thiox to 2 tsp, plus added some water to aid in the painting, then discharged and ironed out the piece below.

Much more to my liking!

This last discharged piece was done with the same formula as the one just above, but I used a piece of muslin that had been shiboried and overdyed at least once. You can see what I started with today if you look at the dark areas, which are a honeycomb pattern originally created by shiboriing the fabric on a rope. The piece looked rather hopeless to me -- way too dark, and on the way to the dust bin before today's save.

This is the last piece of fabric with potato dextrin on it, after 2 days drying. It'll get painted or dyed and batched tomorrow.

So, all in a day's work -- a morning's work actually...I spent the afternoon resting again. Next up, some soy wax batik with paint or dye. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Little Princeling

I call Kirby my little princeling, and here he is complete, coming right off the quilt! The fabrics are discharged, painted, printed, shiboried and low water dyed.

I took it kind of easy today, relative to the last couple days...although I did mix up the last of the potato dextrin resist and get it slathered on a piece of fabric...and I got myself ready to do some soy wax batik tomorrow. Including finding an old electric skillet, something I've been hankering to get for over a year, at the local thrift shop today!

It poured this morning, now it's sunny and breezy, and puffy white clouds are drifting by. The weather service promises sunshine for the rest of the week. And spring is in full swing!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Something For Everyone

I had a great time printing fabrics yesterday, in addition to finishing off a couple of pieces with potato dextrin resist. This was my second time working with the resist paste and things went a lot better than the first time. So now I'm anxious to do more. Soon as I finish off the potato dextrin I'll be moving over to flour paste resist -- flour is more readily available, less expensive, and it looks like you can get as good or better results with it. So stay tuned for that.

The piece above was dyed a couple of times before I resisted it. After the potato dextrin was dry, I painted on black Setacolor textile paint and let it dry/cure overnight. Setacolor paint sets rather quickly when heated with an iron...I figured that leaving it be for 18 hours would be good enough to set the paint without the addition of heat, and I was right. It worked. The fabric above is after scrubbing the dextrin off, and a hot water wash with synthrapol.

This second piece was also resisted with potato dextrin, then I painted on bleach gel and let it sit for maybe 15 minutes. The areas of the fabric that had thinner applications of the resist (not shown in the photo) bleached out quite a bit more. Now that I have a little bit of experience with this type of resist, I plan to aim for a thicker application so that the cracks will be bigger -- thinner resist = finer cracks.

I used several deconstructed screens that hadn't been exhausted the last time I printed. Previously I thought I'd rebuild pattern on the screens, but yesterday decided to just use them as is and start over the next time I do DSP. I'm really happy with the results here.

This was the last printing with a glue gel screen I've used numerous times.

Another deconstructed screen print.

Roller printing.

Deconstructed screen print.

Stencil print with my very favorite pattern gadget, one of those bottom of the sink things -- I always forget what they're called.

All the fabrics I printed on yesterday were previously low water immersion or direct application dyed.

Today I completed Kirby's quilt, which I'll upload tomorrow. Hope you've all had a good weekend!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another Friday Evening

I love Friday evenings -- the promise of four days off, time to relax and kick back, catch up on the few TV programs I still watch, online...

Feels like eons since I posted, and I don't have any finished work to show you. So here are two pieces in progress. The one on top, my little kitty Kirby. The one below, a cool digital image of one of my collages.

I've got a big print weekend planned -- thickened up some dyes this morning, slathered prepared potato dextrin resist on a few pieces of fabric this afternoon, have a stack of previously dyed and white soda soaked fabric ready to print on. I'm hoping this weekend is the start of a roll for me, it's been months since I printed any fabric and I'm missing it.

Look for some early results on Sunday. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gardening and Quilting

I spent the weekend working on two quilt pieces -- this one here, Jade, and a 10x10" framed piece that I am sending off to an online buddy for a one-on-one exchange we're doing. The latter I'll upload after she's received it, later this month.

Jade is made from recently shiboried fabrics -- the darker green around the edge is that loose woven cotton scarf I dyed and shiboried a couple times -- a small piece printed with a newly cut stamp, and a digital image of one of my collages. It's an intriguing piece and I really like it.

I also spent some time today gardening in the little bed outside our mobile. When I moved in last year, I turned an area covered with cinder rock into a little ornamental garden. Here it is a year later, with a couple of replacement plants just put in today. It was wonderful to work in the back can't handle more than an hour or so anymore these days, though.

Kirby is finally getting his promised quilt -- I finished the top today and plan to have it completed by mid week. There are also more quilts focusing on digital images coming up. I'm totally enjoying making these, especially the unusual combinations of fabric I've been putting together lately!