Monday, January 31, 2011

Cool Air

This is Late Spring, just completed over the weekend.  Measuring 26" x 17," this is one of two tree pieces in my small local series.

The cool greens of this piece evoke feelings of newness, still-cool air, summer still on the way.

I had a terrific weekend, got lots done.  I'll be teaching a shibori class in Eureka in a couple months, so yesterday I started dyeing a lot of color samples.  It's interesting to me how each time I start a big dyeing project, I realize I am at a  new level of knowledge and understanding of dyes, colors, procedures.  In other words, I am formulating my own colors and processes as I learn more.

Actually, this phenomenon -- if that's what it is -- is apparent in all the surface design I do.  As it's turned out, I take on a few processes each year, play with one for a while then move on to the next.  I may not get back to something until nearly a year has passed.  But the next time I do, I'm that much better at it.  I guess that's growth in action.

Tomorrow I'm digging up and transplanting bamboo -- two clumping bamboos that I put in the ground nearly two years ago.  They were each about 10" in diameter at ground level...I'll be dividing them tomorrow and now there's enough for maybe 8 good-sized plants!  Most of those will go in tubs and grace Rose Cottage, the others will go to a friend.  I'm looking forward to having it here -- I love bamboo.  One of my fondest memories of living on Maui was walking through the bamboo forest near the Seven Sacred Pools.  But that was a lifetime ago!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surface Design Tuesday

Three out of the last four Tuesdays have been surface design days for me, so I'm going to aim to make it a regular thing.  Here's what I did yesterday ~ two of my favorite things at one time...discharge and roller printing.  All the fabrics are commercially dyed black fabrics and I used thiox paste to discharge with.  It was essentially the same process as printing with thickened dye on white fabric, but in this case, black fabric and color remover paste.

The first photo is a selection of fabrics after they were discharged and before they were machine washed with a bit of Synthrapol.

These three pieces are linen or linen/rayon -- probably my favorite fabrics for just about anything.  The two top pieces had textured things placed underneath the fabric, then I rolled over the fabric with a foam roller loaded with thiox paste.  The bottom piece is a handcut stencil that I placed on top of the fabric and rolled over.

Thiox paste is a fantastic way to discharge.  Start with print paste -- you can purchase "kits" at Dharma or make it yourself with urea, water softener and sodium alginate.  To a half cup of print paste, add pre-dissolved 1 tsp soda ash and 1 tsp thiourea dioxide (thiox) color remover in a bit of hot water.  You can vary the amount of thiox -- more will take more color out -- and you can also thin the mixture with water for a looser application.  You can use thiox on ANY natural fibers with no damaging effects.

This piece was created with a small silk screen that I patterned with blue glue gel many months ago.  Normally, being a silk screen, I would use a squeegee or similar scraper type thing to draw the paste across the screen.  But here I used a foam roller.  The design is a bit more diffuse because of rolling over it rather than forcing the paste through the screen with a hard edged thing.

This piece was done like the one above -- the silk screen had been patterned with soy wax a few months ago.  The dark areas are where wax was on the screen.  Incidentally, with both waxed screens and glue gelled screens, when you wash them, use cool water.  Since hot water melts both the glue and the wax, these screens last a lot longer -- meaning, you get much more use of the patterns before you need to wash them out completely and start over.

For this piece, I used two rubbing plates underneath the black fabric, and rolled over with the thiox paste.

And these last two pieces are the sleeves cut from a short-sleeved t-shirt that became a tank top. 

As soon as each individual piece has had discharge paste applied, take it to your ironing board and do this: lay a piece of newspaper on the board, lay the fabric down with the discharged side up, lay down another piece of newspaper, and steam and press with a hot iron.  High heat and a lot of steam release the color from the fabric.  You can also spritz the top sheet of paper and iron with a dry iron -- the water you spritzed will create steam.  Keep doing this all over the fabric.  After a bit you can remove the top sheet of paper and iron right on the fabric.  You can see the colors lighten with more heat.  You can turn the fabric over and iron the other side.  Sometimes both sides will look great.

Take these precautions when releasing discharge paste:  Wear a respirator, work by an open window, have a fan on to keep the air moving toward the window and out.

Typically I do a number of pieces at one time, and as they're finished I throw them in a pile, then machine wash them all at once.  Use hot water and a couple tablespoons of Synthrapol.  Dry the fabric, iron, and you're done!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dreams & Winners

These are the last two In Dreams quilts, finished over the weekend -- numbers 9 and 10 in the series.  Now, on to other things.

Thanks for all your wonderful comments to my Third Blogaversary post!  Dotti and Gerrie have won the postcards -- congrats to you both.  Soon as I receive your addresses, the postcards will be in the mail.

I had a fabulous surface design day today -- will upload photos tomorrow.  Now I'm totally wiped out -- it was a very busy weekend!  (My weekends are regularly four days.)  See you later in the week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Third Blogaversary

This month I'm celebrating three years as a blogger, and I'm giving away these two sweet fabric postcards.  All the fabrics were handmade by me.  The postcard backing is fabric as well.  I'll drop them in the mail to each of the winners.

In three years and with six blogs, I've made 2123 posts -- although this is just my 583rd post on this blog. Wow.

To enter yourself in the drawing(s) for the postcards, leave a comment here by Tuesday, January 25, say 6:00 pm PST, and I'll do a random drawing for two winners.  In your comment, let me know which card would be your first choice, and tell me something you've read on this blog that has inspired you in your art or life.

Thanks for a wonderful, fun three years -- and good luck!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just for Pleasure

I made the little quilt above just for pleasure this week.  It's a collage of digital images on fabric, 8.5 x 11 inches.  Kinds looks like my recent In Dreams pieces, primarily because of its small size and how I finished the edges...but it's not part of the series.  Just something fun for me.

These next two images show where I'm at currently that early quilt I cut up recently.  It doesn't look a thing like it did before.  After rolling acrylic paints over the quilted surface, I added iridescent paintstix on Monday and let it cure for a few days.  I just took these photos.  I think I may cut it into smaller bits...but likely I'll just put it away for a while and revisit it again in future.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I spent time over the weekend reorganizing my quilt collection.  Since I no longer have a loom in my storage shed outside, I bought a portable covered clear-plastic-front closet and now most of my quilts are hanging there.  A bunch of earlier work I no longer want, so I pulled those out to donate to Tailwaggers Thrift Shop, Sequoia Humane's retail shop in Eureka.  But I did put aside a couple of pieces to fool around with.

This piece was (still is, actually) Discharge 2, from two years ago.  Original piece below.  This morning I quilted wonky circles in all the previously unquilted areas, then I painted it twice.  Quite an improvement, IMO.

I have another quilt I've been messing with, another early piece that never hung properly.  I'd tried a construction idea that really didn't work, for one, and then I brought the backing forward and turned a bound edge and because the quilt was too large for that technique, the edges were wavy.  Recently I removed the sleeve and fabric label, opened out the binding, and cut the thing into a proper rectangle.  Then I sliced it in half.  The half I didn't like that well has gotten several treatments already.  I'll post that when I'm farther along.

I've been intrigued with painting/printing on already-quilted surfaces, but haven't really tried it before now.  The best book I've seen on this topic is Linda & Laura Kemshall's The Painted Quilt.  In fact, I just pulled out my copy and am reading it newly now that I'm at that place to give things a try.  I'm also curious to work with discharge paste in this same fashion -- maybe I'll get to that tomorrow!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Boreal Forest

Today is reveal day over at Fiberactions' blog.  Our theme this time is "environment" and my quilt is entitled Boreal Forest.  I just love these fabrics together.  I'd been saving them on my design wall for over a year, waiting to become something similar with a forest or mountain theme, and this challenge turned out to be the right time and place to use them.

I live in redwood country, far northern California.  We also have our share of Douglas fir as well as numerous other coniferous trees.  You can see stands of big trees virtually everywhere (as long as you don't fly over and catch sight of the clearcuts from a decade or two ago).

Humboldt is a particularly environmentally-aware county.  I wouldn't live here if the environment weren't such a big part of the attraction.  I love living close to the mountains, surrounded by big trees, virtually right next to a river, and minutes from the ocean.  With wide skies, to boot!  Being that we're off the beaten path to such a large extent, most folks would never want to live here -- which is just fine with me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Printing Today

I spent time today printing once again.  More monoprinting, and roller printing.

The first fabric was low water immersion dyed mid last year.  Today I made several prints of the same ilk over the fabric.  This photo already had one print made on it.  The next photo shows a printing plate ready to turn over onto the fabric; the third photo is the same fabric printed the second or third time.

I have numerous surfaces on which to apply paint for the monoprint -- a sheet of plexiglass, a sheet of tempered glass, four small pieces of glass with taped edges, 3 or 4 mil clear plastic, and transparencies.  I like the transparencies and clear plastic best, but each has its uses.

Monoprinting means to create a printing plate that is used once.  You ink/paint the plate and print off just like that, or create designs in the paint on the plate with any number of things, and then print.  Or you can apply just a bit of paint in specific areas of the plate, and then print that.  Which is what I did in this first two series of photos.

The second set (the circles below) is the same idea.  This time I monoprinted with paint on fabric that I printed with thickened dyes a couple years ago. 

What I've been using for paint is a combination of small tubes of acrylic paints from a cheap set I bought a while back, Lumiere, Dynaflow, PearlEx, Golden GAC900 Textile Painting Medium, and Aerotex Extender Base.

I've discovered that I don't particularly like Dynaflow paints for most of what I do, so I've been using them up to thin the regular acrylics.  And also adding either the GAC900 or the Aerotex, both of which will leave a softer hand on the fabric than straight acrylic paint would.  The GAC900 is quite a bit thinner than I'd imagined; I suppose it's primarily for more controlled painting work on fabric.

I bought the Aerotex a while back from Dick Blick to use to release Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons rubbed on a printing screen (Linda Colsh calls this technique "deconstructed rubbings").  I just haven't used it for that purpose yet -- maybe soon!  It's a much less viscous acrylic medium, leaves the fabric a lot softer than regular acrylic media.  My first experiment with watercolor crayons released with acrylic medium made very stiff fabric that I ended up throwing away.  Hence my search for some other kind of printing medium to use on fabric.

Invariably when I print, I gravitate away from plates and right to the roller.  I love roller printing.  Load the foam roller with paint (or thickened dye) and apply it straight to the fabric.  I like rolling over fabric with something textured underneath -- construction fencing, flat plastic things, rubbing plates, hand cut stamps.

The last four images are roller prints.  The first and last of those four were done with a roller that has felt dots adhered to it.  The last piece is done on paper.

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Quilt This Year

I spent most of the weekend completing Storm Warning, my first quilt this year.  Finished size is 17x26 inches.  This is one of the Famous Four local quilts in the works.

Today my plan is to do more monoprinting...I'm really glad I've given myself weeks or more to do a process or technique, because here it is a week after I started and I haven't done anything at all since then!  Life continuously gets in the way.

I listed a few new items -- featuring North Coast sunsets -- in my Zazzle Shop over the weekend.  Have a look here

A personal project I'm taking on this year is teaching myself to speak Italian.  I've always been interested in words, in general -- one of my favorite books is Roget's Thesaurus -- so I'm taking on this new challenge with gusto. 

At first I tried using one of those highly-touted computer/CD language programs but didn't like it at all.  Virtually all my time was spent mouse clicking on one thing or another and listening to unreal voices repeating the same thing over and over again.

Then I found a wonderful language book at Amazon that I'm enjoying a lot, and I bought it used, to boot (no pun intended -- Boot, Italy!). 

I learn from books, from seeing something written on the page.  I also don't like learning online, I'll print out most everything I intend to read and study because the tactile sense of something written on paper seems to work better with my brain than merely seeing something on the screen.

And after a couple of small Italian dictionaries didn't have many of the words I wanted translated, I invested in a REAL Italian/English dictionary.  I've been making good use of it.

Have a good one.  I hope to be back again before the week's out. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good to Go

My Zazzle Shop is happening -- I've opened with a dozen items featuring collage images ~~ canvas shopping bags, mouse pads, magnets and mugs.  And what fun this is!  It's just so cool to see my collages on products.  Check it out!  I'll be adding a product line with sky/cloud images in the near future.

And incidentally, Zazzle is having a 20.11% off sale on everything purchased there, through this Thursday, January 6!

And speaking of collages, before the end of the year I added two more archives of earlier work on Collage Journey.

Today was an eventful day in its own right -- I collaged, fixed a design problem on a quilt I'm making, loaded my now-former loom and accessories into the new owner's truck, reorganized a lot of digital images on the computer and designed new products at Zazzle...and now I'm ready for a few episodes of Monk.  I'm on Season 5.

See you soon!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Off and Running

I've hit the ground running already this year.  I spent some time over the weekend reorganizing my front room studio where I do wet work -- it's also my kitchen and living room (and bedroom at night) -- so I could get back into surface design.

I began experimenting with monoprinting -- something I've wanted to do for a long time -- using paints of various consistencies.  The first piece here is on fabric, the second on a sheet of paper I made 20 years ago.  Obviously I'm just getting started but I've at least gotten to the point where I can see the possibilities inherent in the technique.

And I have a new method of working these days ~ which is to give myself a couple of weeks to a month or longer to work on a technique, so that I can build my skills, experiment, try new things as they occur to me -- without feeling that I need to pack it all up and get onto the next technique right away.  Maybe I'll only work on a few techniques this year, but I intend to go deeper now into fewer things.  There are some processes that are on the "kill" list, things I don't want to go any farther with than I already did.
I started building a storefront on Zazzle yesterday, but won't promote it until I've got a few more items available.  Primarily I'll be using it as a means of getting my collage images and manipulated sky photos out to the world on functional merchandise.  So stay tuned for the public launch in the next few days.

I began this blog three years ago this month, and I'm planning to do a Third Blogaversary Giveaway, although the idea just came to me so I don't have details at the moment.  Something else to stay tuned for.  My annual posts have decreased since my first year, and I figure it'd be another two or three years until I hit my 1000th post here.  Hence, the year three celebration.

My word for 2011 was going to be BRILLIANCE -- and it still is -- but I've also added RADIANCE and AUTHORITYAuthority as in my being the only one in charge of my life and my art.  I see and feel myself stepping up to the plate in all aspects of my life.

Hope your year is off to a good start, as well!