Thursday, January 12, 2017

Have You Tried Glue Gun Stencils?

     There are so many ways to make stencils, but have you tried making them using a hot glue gun? And if you have, do you realize how many ways you can use them? This came about for me as part of my daily practice of mark making while I was strolling through Pinterest looking for ideas and saw this one and decided to dig out my old glue gun from the garage and see what they looked like. And when I saw the one I made, I was amazed and had a brainstorm of how versatile it could be.
     I had been sending out for thermofax images of leaves, which was somewhat expensive and I had to wait for them to be made and sent to me. Plus, sometimes, I decided I wanted different sizes and didn't want to have to send for yet another one. So if I could make detailed stencils quickly and cheaply, that would be great! Also, I love the look of eco-printed leaves, but don't want to do that process because I don't want my images to fade over time and I think if I use the right amount of paint with colorless extender I can mimic that look with practice.
     The other thing I wanted to accomplish, was to make stencils that I could use as a background texture on my fabrics when creating layers for imagery. So here is what I did and some samples of what I got. I did almost all of my samples with black transparent fabric paint mixed with colorless extender in a ratio of 1:4 just to see what it looked like. On an artwork, I would probably either match the color of the fabric to blend in with it or use a different color to contrast with it. I decided to collect my samples and put them into a fabric book so the photos here show the samples fused to muslin in preparation for sewing into the book.
     First, I drew pictures of leaves onto a piece of paper.
leaf sketches
Then I placed parchment paper on top of the sketches. I could see the sketches pretty easily through the paper.
parchment paper on top
Next, I pressed out hot glue along the drawn lines. And I pressed the hot tip around putting holes in the leaves in places and making them solid in other places. Then I let them cool.

"drawing" with hot glue

one of the glue stencils
The stencils lifted off the paper easily and were like silicon and held together well. They were not at all fragile. They were very flexible. Not at all what I expected. I thought they would be stiff, thin, and brittle. They have a flat side (the side that was on the parchment paper) and a dimensional side (the side that was face up).
leaf stencils (stained from paint)

texture stencils

     The first way I used them was with my gelli plate. I used a brayer to put down paint on the plate, placed the the flat side of the stencil on the plate, lifted it and then stamped it onto fabric. I did that because it put an even coat of paint onto the stencil. On this first one, I sprayed water onto the fabric to wet it a little first to get a little bleed.

stencil used as a stamp

Then, I put more paint onto the plate and placed fabric on top to get a monoprint.


monoprint done two ways; one by removing some paint around
sides first

left side are the ghost prints from the monoprints
right side is a stamp on dry fabric

Then I put stencils underneath the fabric and did rubbings after loading a stencil brush with paint.
texture rubbings
Another look is a ghostly one by placing the stencil on top and using the stencil brush with a light amount of paint and brushing away from the stencil.

brushing away from the stencil

more brushing away
From one stencil, it is possible to get all these different looks.
front cover of my book by stamping

back cover of my book by stamping

     The covers of my book are pieces from a strip of fabric that I used as a test for the stamps for a piece I've been working on for my Art Cloth Mastery Class. So now, I'll sew the pages together and have a record of the techniques and what they look like. I'll make a separate book for the texture stamps and other marks I've been working on, too. So get out those old hot glue guns and see what you can make. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Do You Have Favorite Christmas Decorations?

     Do you like modern or old fashioned holiday decorations? Store-bought fashionable ones or home-made ones? Each year, the joy I get when I decorate the house and when sit among the old cards I've kept is the memories that go along with the decorations rather than the style of them or the shape they are in. Each year, I keep my favorite cards and either cut them up to make something out of them for future years, or just to exhibit them as they are. I have some with signatures from friends and relatives who have since passed away and those are extremely special.
Here is the piano in our living room this Christmas.
The Happy Mix
     The cards on the top level are hand-made by a friend and were received in consecutive years. The little ornament in the center at the top level was made by my mother-in-law (who has since passed away). I made the little art quilts on the twig easels, another friend made the mixed media piece in lower center. But my favorite ornament there is in Tara's hand on the top left. It's a little smashed up... We found it in a ditch in Chile a few years ago covered in mud on a rainy day. We cleaned up as best we could and it reminds us of that wonderful trip we had in Patagonia and we let Tara hold it each Christmas season.     Most of the ornaments on our tree are gifts from other people and as I hang them up, I remember the person who gave them to us and the party we attended where they were given or the approximate year in which we received them. I have a porcelain bell with my name on it that was made for my mother when I was born that I hang on the tree, and I also hang a white bell that sat on our wedding cake in 1986.  I like to think that my house is well decorated, but at Christmas, it is a mish-mash and nothing really matches. But the theme is memories. And it's a wonderful life. Thank you, Lord, for that.
     I'm wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Season's Greetings. And I'm linking this Off The Wall Friday there you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you stopped by and thanks for visiting.

Friday, December 9, 2016

How Do You Work With Color?

     Do you have specific ways to work with choosing colors? I get an idea for a color scheme in my head, but it is just a general idea to start with. When I used commercial fabrics, I just held them next to each other to see what looked right. Now that I'm dyeing my background fabrics, I need to be more precise in choosing the paint colors to choose for adding layers with stencils, thermofax, and other tools. So this is the way I'm working for now.
     I pin my background on the design wall and use something with the hue I like and then try to mix the paint close to that color. My background is a chromatic gray, which means it isn't a neutral gray. It has hues of other colors showing up in it. I want to use rust colors to print on top here an there and perhaps some other colors later on. I have several leaves I brought home from my trip to Chicago several weeks ago so I pinned one of those leaves on top to use as a reference color.
background with leaf pinned to it
     I got out my textile paints and mixed up various rust hues and painted their samples onto white muslin. I wrote down the approximate proportions of the paints I used for each sample so that I could come close to reproducing each one if I wanted.
sample hues of rusts
     I liked the fifth one so I mixed white with it and that's the last one on the right. That way I can see its true qualities. When you mix white with the color, its true character is revealed. It's actually a lot more pink than I expected. I thought it would be a lot more orange. But I still like the original. I also printed each of the samples onto a swatch of the gray background fabric so I could see what it would look like. (I always dye extra fabric to experiment with.)
thermofax prints of each hue
And then I put the swatches onto the main background on the design wall and stand back to see how each one looks. Sometimes it's a surprise to see how it looks when it is sitting vertically on the wall. Another important step is to add paint extender to thin it out and print it on the background fabric to see how it looks when it is more transparent.
one hue printed more and more transparently
All of these steps help me decide which hue and how much extender to add to get the effect I want for the imagery I have in my head.
     As you can see, I am mostly not an intuitive worker. I guess that comes from my science background. I like to experiment. But, perhaps, as I do these types of trials more often, I'll know what to expect and can skip these steps in the future. Because, I'm mostly new to adding layers of images with printing onto dyed fabric. So, for now, I do several experiments before mixing my final colors and printing away. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Do You Have A Regular Art Routine?

     Do you get into your studio or your work space on a regular basis? I didn't used to. I would go into my studio on some days, but not on others. I would get so involved in everyday chores and social activities sometimes that several days would pass before I realized I hadn't done any art. Then I would immerse myself in my studio all day other times and create and create. Well, one of my homework assignments for my Art Cloth Mastery Class is to have a Daily Art Practice. It can be anything I find valuable.
     At first, I thought I would combine it with exercise to keep fit at the same time. I would go for a walk or ride my bike every day and on the walk or bike ride, I would stop and do a five-minute sketch of something close up. That would get me to notice things and patterns and keep improving my drawing skills. I decided to do the drawings on used envelopes I got in the mail so that I wouldn't waste any paper. But after a couple of weeks of doing that, I decided the sketches weren't really helping me with the series I was working on so I changed my plan.
     I collected some small pieces of dyed fabrics that didn't work out and some jars of fabric paint I had mixed up in colors that I wasn't using anymore and start a daily practice of mark-making. Each day I would choose or make a tool of some sort and start making marks on the fabric. I would make a set of marks one way and then change it up a little. Since I usually found I didn't like the first few sets of marks, I continued mark making and realized I needed to make about 8- 10 different sets before I would hit on something interesting to me.
     Right now, I just have a collection of swatches of these pieces of fabrics with marks. Eventually, I'll put them into a book somehow to store them. I'm hoping that in the future, when I'm creating art, I can flip through the book or booklet and look at the marks to find just what I need for extra texture or inspiration.
     Here is a sample of some of them:
Marks made with same tool

Top six made with one tool
Bottom two made with different tool


     So far, I'm just experimenting with printing on fabric for mark-making. In the future, I'll also experiment with other methods.
     But I'm finding that once I get going with this, and I'm geared up in the studio with my apron on and tools out I keep working in there and I get some art created everyday. This daily art practice is valuable homework assignment not just for where it, itself might lead, but mostly for just getting me in there and working. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Where Oh Where Have I Been?

     Where has the time gone since my last post? I think this may have been the longest time that has passed between blog posts for me. I kept meaning to make one, but then something would come up and I'd say maybe tomorrow I'll take a photo and write some lines. So let's catch up a bit...
     In mid-October, I attended my second session of the Art Cloth Mastery Class with Jane Dunnewold in San Antonio. We learned about over dyeing, discharge, more about color theory, and composition. And we critiqued the pieces we made for homework and made plans for the third session that will take place the last week in February.
dyed cloths on the line waiting to be over dyed
     After I got home, I took some of the cloths that I had discharged with various products and put them into a notebook so that I would have a reference of what the products looked like compared to each other and on different colors of dyed cloth.
two products compared on the same cloth
I had prepared many samples so I decided to cut up some of the discharged samples and make things with them. One of the things I did was to take an old canvas apron I had that was from Hershey, Pennsylvania and said "I Love Chocolate", and repurpose it. It had several stains on it so first I dyed it with two dyes... a blue and an orange. Then I sewed the discharged samples as appliqu├ęs on top of the writing and onto the pockets.
my "new" studio apron
     I also took some of the samples and pieced them together, made a quilt sandwich with ecofelt and dyed cotton backing fabric about the size of a placemat. I've begun to do some hand stitching on it.
The piece opened out
Detail of what will be a purse flap
After I finish the hand stitching, I'll fold it in such a way and machine stitch the sides and bottom, that it will be a small purse with a flap and straps. I'll post it as I make progress.
     When I got back home from my class, I was home for three days, and then I went to Chicago for a visit. It was great to see Autumn again. And to go downtown and see The Bean for the first time.
Me, doing a selfie reflection in The Bean
The Bean with Autumn's colors and Chicago skyline
Outside the Institute of Art the weekend of the World Series
hoping for a Cub's Victory
     And now I've started my homework for the Art Mastery Class that is due in February. And there is a lot of it. I hope I can be better about posting in the midst of the Holidays and homework. I'm linking up to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Can You Bear To Experiment With One-of-a Kind Fabrics?

     Have you ever had special fabrics that you were afraid to cut up or paint onto or add other surface designs and possibly ruin them? Well, I dyed several fabrics to prepare for my next session in my Art Cloth Mastery Class with Jane Dunewold. The supply list for this session said to bring 6-8 pieces of at least 1/2 yard pieces of hand-dyed fabrics that didn't work out and maybe some you even liked. We are going to be over-dyeing and discharging among other things this session. Since, I haven't been a fabric dyer, I didn't have any pieces of dyed fabric just laying around so I had to freshly dye all mine.
     As it turned out, I ended up liking all but one. I kept notes on how I made each piece and was surprised that I got different colors from the same mixed dye in the same jar of chemical water simply by how I poured it on the scrumbled cloth. I'll have to experiment with that some more in the future. Here are my fabrics that will be sacrificed next week with further experiments in Jane's studio in Texas.
cotton fabrics hanging on my design wall
I applied various manipulations to them so that I would have a variety of things to look at and consider when I discharge and over dye. And I used both pure dyes and mixed dyes to see how they would react when over dyed and discharged. We also have to take 5 yards of white fabric to dye and over dye. I think my dye notebook is going to get a lot thicker by the end of the seven days. 
     Looking at those lovely fabrics, I want to cut them and sew them together and make them into a scarf and boro stitch it, or make them into a cover for my iPad or a purse. I hate to change the actual fabrics. But, alas, their fate is going to be for research and that is that.  I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What Kind Of Art Do You Buy?

     Since this is mostly an art quilt blog and most of my readers are probably interested in art quilts, do most of you buy art quilts? Or do you also buy other kinds of art? Do buy art from local artists or artists who live far from you? Must you see the art in person or do you buy your art on-line? Or do you only have your own art hanging in your home?
     I once attended a lecture about how to sell my art and the first question from the lecturer was "How many of you own art from an artist other than yourself?" Only a few of us in the audience raised our hands. And, in my case, most of the art hanging in my home was indeed my own.
     That got me to thinking about why. Part of the reason was space. I create art quilts and need a place to put them. Another reason is cost. Good quality art quilts are expensive. And again space. The art quilts by other artists I like are huge. And my walls just won't fit them. I travel a lot and my walls are taken up with art like masks and shelves with sculptures from my trips.
     Later on, I attended another art lecture. But this one focused on how to collect art. The two main points were to buy art either that you like or that would be a good financial investment or both. For me, I doubt that I would ever try to resell my things to make money so I buy art that I like and don't pay attention to whether or not it's a good financial investment.
     Two weeks ago, I made a new art purchase from a trip to Devon and Cornwall in Great Britain. My husband and I rented a car and drove around without any real definite plans. There were only a few places I wanted to visit for sure. One of them was to visit St. Ives to meet Carolyn Saxby who was having her art in an exhibit during the time I was there and to buy a piece of her artwork. I've followed her blog for some time and the photos she posts of the area helped inspire my trip.
The mixed media piece by Carolyn on my studio shelf
I bought a beautiful mixed media piece that reminds me of my beach walks in Cornwall. It has all the right colors and I love the textures. I've seen her art online, but waited to buy any until I could see it in person. And, to top it off,  she's a sweetheart of a person.
     Another place I wanted to visit was the Jurassic Coast to collect fossils, which I consider artwork from Mother Nature. I booked a guided walk at Charmouth before we left home, which was marvelous and we collected fossils on our own a second day, too. You are allowed to bring home whatever you find, no matter how large or valuable. 
I wanted to bring home this heavy rock full of ammonites, but due to baggage allowance, there was no way we could.
I love this fossil-laden rock!
Here's some of what we brought home. 
My artwork of fossils and rocks
     Mostly they are ammonites and belemnites that are about 200 million years old. In the photo, the large, angled rock with the ammonites is one that I purchased there. I collected all those rocks on this trip on the beaches there and consider those works of art, too. You can see some smaller ammonites that we found and the bullet-shaped looking rocks are the belemnites which are the remnants of small squid-like creatures.  
 
Another rock that was too heavy to bring home
I thought long and hard about how to bring home that gorgeous rock! There must have been a way. But alas... no.  I couldn't even dig it out of the sand. Let alone pick it up.
     I like to buy art in person as opposed to on-line, although I often look at art online and have thought about buying it there. I think buying art quilts online requires some effort from both the buyer and the artist that is different than it would be than buying other types of art. Since there is stitching involved, the photography must be able to show the nuances of the stitch. There should be detail shots of the artwork to do that. I, as a buyer, might contact the artist and ask for other detail shots of certain parts of the quilt to see it better since I can't see it in person. Many of the quilt artists that I follow have excellent detail shots on their websites already so you know what you are buying, but some don't, so you would have to ask. 
     For a time, I was actually shopping on-line for some art quilts to fill a space and I browsed several sites: firstly, my favorite artists' websites, then Artful Home, SAQA, and Pinterest. Now there are even more. You can shop for art quilts on Invaluable and Amazon.com (fine art/fiber). I eventually decided to fill that space with something else, but the resources are there.
     And I occasionally sell some of my quilts. Most of them get sold online through SAQA. One recently sold to a client who saw it online through SAQA several years ago, then contacted me a few weeks ago and asked for a discount. I agreed and we both were happy.
Beach Fence - SOLD

So it is always a good thing to communicate with the artist. It may be the start of your art collection. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting. I hope that this post links up OK. I've scheduled it ahead of time, but may not be able to check and hook up to Nina's place, since we are due to be hit by Hurricane Matthew on Friday and may not have power. So if you don't see me on Nina's list, then I'm off the grid and may be for a while. Last time this happened, people in our area were out of power for two weeks. Fingers crossed... 
Addendum: We made it through Matthew with no damage to the house. We lost power during the night and got it back on Saturday afternoon. Lucky us. We have a large tree uprooted and hanging over the driveway that we will have to have removed and lots and lots of debris to clean up. Our town has lots of damage and many are out of power and the outlook for them is 5-9 days. We are so glad Matthew took a jog to the east and wasn't as bad as it was forecast. Well, on to the clean up.