Saturday, December 31, 2011

When One Door Closes...

Happy New Year everybody! 

A reminder that there's a blog giveaway in process right now.  Details on this post, or leave a comment here telling me one new or different thing you plan to do for yourself or your art in 2012.  Winner of the quilt shown in the link above will be drawn on Tuesday morning, January 3.

It's always rather strange to me that the year changes, literally from one day to the next, but nothing appears different out in nature.  To the planet, it's just another day.

My goals for 2011 were largely qualitative.  For the first time in my life I wasn't tied to numbers of things I would create -- art pieces, dollars, whatever.  And some pretty amazing things happened that I hadn't anticipated, this time last year...

I was able to quit working in June, and my life is my own now.  I'd planned on working for another few years.  But I started having serious back problems and had to quit.  My back is largely healed, thank god.  In exchange for a couple months' acute pain and suffering, I got my life back.  Completely unanticipated.  Chicken shit became chicken salad.

I seriously reorganized my finances so I could manage without working any longer, and I was able to pay off my 2008 car in full, two and a half years early.  Completely unanticipated.

I completed the enormous downsize and simplification process that began for me a few years ago.  Now I comfortably live and make art in 300-square foot Rose Cottage -- and I am continually letting go of more stuff I don't need.

Plus, for the number crunchers among us, I created 35 art quilts, hundreds of new collages and sky photos, yards and yards of hand dyed and surface designed fabrics, and likely more stuff than I'm remembering at the moment.

I've been extolling the virtues, lately, of living without goals ~ embracing what emerges and going with it.  My only goal for 2012, for lack of a better word, is to have a great year.  Whatever happens, it'll be wonderful.

Have a great New Year's weekend, see you next year, and don't forget about the giveaway!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Acid Dye Shibori

Although I began my dyeing career with acid dyes, I didn't really do much shibori until after I started dyeing with fiber reactive dyes.

I have a student coming in January for a weekend shibori & dye painting intensive, working with both cellulose and protein fibers.  Meaning I'll be teaching shibori and dye painting techniques for both fiber reactive and acid dyes.  It'll be a whirlwind weekend but I've got it mapped out so she can learn the basics for both types of dye.

Anywho, yesterday and today I did acid shibori dyeing using techniques I learned for fiber reactive dyes, translated for use with acid dyes.  These are some of my results.  I used a 2-yard piece of light weight habotai silk torn into eight pieces.  The first 3 images are from yesterday's immersion bath.   The top image was folded and put right in the dyebath.

The 2nd and 3rd images had been underpainted the day before.  Underpainting is something I learned a couple years ago although I haven't done it very much.  The idea is to prepaint the fabric the day before, let it dry, then overdye it in the immersion bath.  The immersion bath had citric acid and salt added along with the dye.  If you were doing this process with fiber reactive dyes, you'd add soda ash to the bath instead of citric acid.  The underdye had not been set prior to being prepared for shibori and immersed in the pot.  I brought the pot up to 185 degrees and let it steep for an hour, then left everything in the pot until the liquid was cool.

The last 2 images were dyed this morning -- actually, the one just above had also been underpainted earlier this week.  Today I dipped each piece of fabric in 50/50 vinegar water, then folded, bound, whatever, and put each piece in a plastic baggie.  I squirted dyes on the fabric and did my best to get the dye distributed.  The baggies were steamed for 30 minutes.  This technique is another one commonly used for fiber reactive dyes and cellulose fabrics.

These were process experiments only.  The dyes I used had been sitting in jars, already mixed, for probably 3 years. 

So my suspicion was correct ~ you can do exactly the same types of shibori processing with acid dyes as with fiber reactive dyes.  That's what I wanted to know.

Don't forget the giveaway happening now -- see this post for details.  Winner to be drawn January 3.


Leave a comment here or on this post to enter
the Glittering New Year Giveaway.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Glittering New Year

All That Glitters ~ weekly quilt from December 2009

I'm having a New Year's Giveaway on my blog, starting right now and running through Monday, January 2.  I'll draw a winner on Tuesday, January 3.

I'm giving away the little quilt in the photo above -- All That Glitters, one of my weekly quilts from 2009.  The 10x10 inch quilt is mounted on painted stretched canvas and comes ready to hang.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here (this post or any other post through Jan 2), and tell me one new thing you envision for yourself or your art in 2012.  If you reply on another post, make sure to let me know you're entering the drawing.

Thanks so much for your readership these past four years.  It's been wonderful to have you all along for the ride.  Good luck to you all, and have a wonderful new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Return of the Light

Goddess of Light, weekly quilt from December 2009
Wishing you all a very happy holiday weekend and season, whatever it is you celebrate.  More than anything else, for me this time of year heralds the return of the light, the sun on its way back toward the summer solstice.  I don't do "the Christmas thing" in any way, shape or form, and haven't for many years.  Being on my own without family (of origin) any longer gives me immense freedom during the holidays.  I feel fortunate to not have to play into all the trappings of the season.

I'm just about finished with a big hand quilted piece, but I won't post images until January 15 because the quilt is one of two I'm doing for Fiberactions' current color challenge.  The second piece is primarily machine quilted, and it's ready to go so I'll move on to it next.

There's not too much else going on in my studio right now.  I have a few pieces under consideration on the design wall.  Other than that, I'm letting 2011 wind down without feeling rushed or compelled to decide now what I want to create in 2012.  I'll let it all unfold in its own way.

Love and blessings to all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giving It All Away

....a lot of it, anyway.

Following the sale at my no-longer-open Etsy shop -- and thank you to any readers who purchased quilts there -- I proceeded to gift friends with numerous quilts.  And I've also donated art quilts and hand knit scarves to three animal welfare organizations in Humboldt County, to be auctioned at their upcoming events in 2012.

This was all part of the plan I developed a couple months ago ~ to let go of most of my early work.  I much prefer people enjoying my work, whether they purchased it or not, than having it sit or hang in storage.

And, I still have a fine collection.  Plus room for whatever I make in future.

For years I've been selling my work, or trying to, and it's been exhausting.  In my art sales career, I have created by hand or designed, and sold ~
  • handmade ready made and custom clothing
  • handknit sweaters and scarves
  • cotton jersey balloon pants and tops and jumpsuits that I designed and had produced in Bali
  • collage notecards and hand painted postcards
  • fimo jewelry
  • beaded jewelry
  • handpainted scarves
  • handwoven scarves
  • art quilts
  • textile postcards
The thing with selling my art, though, is that I was nearly always behind the curve instead of in front of it.  I guess I'm not much of an innovator.  My work has always been my own, but it's not what I would call "cutting edge."  Or maybe the work was "hot" for a moment, but I couldn't follow that up with a new line or a dozen new designs or whatever.  It's just been me, here, after all.  One person trying to do it all, every aspect of it from imagining to making to selling and everything in between.

The bottom line is that I am a maker of things, always have been and always will be.  And I love being generous with what I create.  The lesson in letting go of stuff whether it sells or not, is that since I can't take it with me when I die, I may as well put it out into the universe and let others enjoy it or be supported by it.

All that said, I am not against selling my work -- I just don't want to have to market it in any meaningful way any longer.  That takes the joy and pleasure out of making.  And I'm in it for the joy and pleasure, for the most part these days.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pot's Worth

I cooked up a pot of eco dyed fabric last Sunday, and this is what I got ~

These are all cellulose fabrics, mostly old cotton and one or two old linen.   For plant material, most bundles had BIG oak leaves I gathered by the road over a month ago.  I'd kept them in the fridge in a big flat ziploc bag with newspaper between layers of leaves.

First photo, though, has euc leaves from a "new to me" tree in the neighborhood.  It has much smaller leaves than the variety I've used up to now.  What makes this piece so interesting is what the fabric was wrapped around -- a thin strip of rusty metal that was folded in thirds.  The spaces between the metal parts left this kind of checked pattern.

Second photo is oak leaves and onion skins around copper pipe.

Some bundles were wrapped around aluminum pipes.  Although I only have two of those that I got from a muffler shop a few months ago, I made additional aluminum pipes by wrapping heavy duty aluminum foil around short pieces of PVC.

Third photo is tin can lids and oak leaves.  I just love what those lids do in the dyepot.

The pot itself had some walnut dye and black rust water in it.  Most of the bundles were wrapped around aluminum or copper pipes.  Two or three had rusty things in them.

The next photo shows oak leaves with the fabric wrapped up around a flattened piece of aluminum.  Actually it was the shade from a cheap shop lamp the switch of which had gone bad after 12 years of constant use.  I flattened the shade by jumping on it. 
The next photo is my tried-and-true big leaved euc wrapped around a rusty car spring.  Notice the striations from the spring at the bottom.

The last three are oak leaves in fabric wrapped around various things.

Hope you have a great weekend!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cycles of Time

This is Kalachakra, completed just last night.  It measures 27.5 x 15.5 inches and is entirely hand stitched/hand quilted.  Only the outside perimeter of the circles were actually sewn on with straight stitches, everything else is quilted together, including the seed beading.

What's here is five layers of fabric, including the backing, and no batting.  The backing and foundation fabrics are recycled table linens, shiboried earlier this year.  The gray fabric with black squares was black linen, shibori discharged three years ago.  The center green piece with black swirls on it is shiboried muslin, then deconstructed screen printed, then had textile paint applied over a rubbing plate.  The center circles are hand dyed muslin, soy wax batiked and then discharged.

I've used a variety of threads, but mostly Gutermann 30 wt. silk.  There are only very limited colors of that thread available locally but I found a terrific place online -- Craft Connection -- that has all the colors, sells them for less than I can get them in Eureka, charges almost nothing for shipping (less than $2 for First Class), and my order placed online last Saturday arrived on Thursday.  I'm impressed.  I'll be back.

The sale at my Etsy Shop ends next Thursday, December 15.   I'm closing the shop after the sale.  I'll be putting it on vacation mode but I don't know yet whether I'll be back.  Etsy was a terrific place for me to sell spinning fiber and weaving yarn, but has only been so-so for sales of finished artwork.  Most of the work that I've sold there didn't sell until I'd discounted it a couple of times.  And I don't want to do that any more.   I'd rather sell less work now and get a price that is more in line with its value, or not sell at all.  Or wait until someone contacts me about possibly buying a piece rather than my marketing it, per se.

I've just gotten so tired of all the effort involved in trying to sell and all the competition you have to deal with at every level.  I'll also likely be killing my Facebook Page for pretty much the same reason ~ there are too many pages, every business in the world has one now, page reach is down since FB's last round of changes, and it means nothing anymore when people "like" a page because they won't necessarily ever be back or ever see or read your posts there.  You might be asking yourself, "Didn't we have this conversation a couple of months ago, the quit FB thing?"  Yeah, we did.  But I kept my page.  Not for much longer, though.

 Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stitchin' Fool

I finally decided to wash and use/wear the big shirt recently eco dyed, instead of overdyeing it.  There are too many projects in front of me to be bothering to try to redo something that's already cool the way it is.  The t-shirt in the photo was also eco dyed a couple months ago and I had ideas of doing it again, as well.  Both got washed today.  Hopefully this week I'll get to putting new buttons on the big shirt.  As for stitching on it, time will tell.

I'm still stitching away on the piece below.  You last saw the center section, here.  The discharged squares got stitched and beaded over the weekend.  Now I'm on the outside area, the green/brown shiboried linen.  Hand stitching the shibori.  With 30 wt. silk thread.  Tiny modified back stitches.  I keep asking myself why the heck I'm doing this.  I don't have an answer, I just keep stitching.

Still planning to attack my large stack of eco dyed fabric to design several new pieces, yes, hand quilted.  Meanwhile, I tinkered around with fabrics yesterday for the Fiberactions challenge and have two quilts in mind for that, one machine quilted cotton, one hand quilted silk.

All this hand stitching has given me a new appreciation for sewing thread.  The best stuff I can get locally is Gutermann, and I'm in love with their cotton, rayon and silk threads.  I still have a lifetime supply of DMC embroidery floss but it just isn't working for me these days.  Since I'm mostly hand stitching, and not embroidering, I suppose that's apropos.

Dinner awaits, and then likely more stitching!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Stitches

Now that my home and studio are clean, I'm getting back into projects.  I spent most of yesterday hand stitching on this quilt-to-be I showed you a few weeks ago.  I especially like the challenge of figuring out how to stitch the design areas on the fabric ~ building a toolbox of stitching solutions for future work.

I had to laugh ~ someone recently unsubscribed from my blog because I have too many updates.  Gee, I thought that's what blogs were for!

I've been gathering fabrics for Fiberactions' first color challenge, not due until January 15.   Our task is to "reflect on why we use the colors we do, creating a piece that perhaps goes beyond our comfort zone using combinations of hue we've not previously considered."  If you haven't been to our blog since early this month, do check out the remodeling job.

Hope you have a wonderful week!