Sunday, March 26, 2017

How Do You Study Color?

     When you need a special hue for your work, do you make an educated guess on how to get it? Or do you take some time to do a detailed study to get it very close to what you have in mind? I want to create a color palette to go with a piece I've already created. The background is a bluish gray and I want to create three more pieces that will coordinate with it. I'm using the gray one to represent Autumn and want to create one each for Spring, Summer, and Winter.
The gray one

     I'd like a bluish background for the Winter one but need it to be a dullish blue. I have several blue dyes from Prochemical and Dye Company. I know that if I mix a blue with an orange, I can dull it down. Rather than just guess how much of each dye to mix to get it right, I decided to do a color study and keep a notebook with all the details so that it will be useful for future works, too.
     So I chose several blues that I have and an orange dye named Strongest Orange to do this study. I may continue it later on trying an orange called Terra Cotta, also. I cut up 22 pieces of cotton broadcloth for each test and calculated the amounts of dye to use for my stock solutions of blue and stock solution of orange. Then I dyed the samples, starting with pure blue, various mixes of blue/orange, and pure orange. Also, for each, I dyed a sample diluted 1:10 so that I could see what the pale color of that hue looks like.
     Here are the results showing the gradual change from pure blue to pure orange:
Mixing Blue/Strongest Orange
Mixing Blue/Strongest Orange
Teal Blue/Strongest Orange
Teal Blue/Strongest Orange

Marine Blue/Strongest Orange
Marine Blue/Strongest Orange
Written underneath each swatch of fabric is the recipe I used so that I can reproduce the results. As you can see, I got some lovely browns that I'm sure I'll use sometime in the future. Also, if you look closely, you'll see that the swatches are not a solid color. I purposely didn't smoosh the fabric too much in the dye to get a solid. I wanted to see how it looked if I let the colors split a little, because that is most likely what will happen on the larger cloths I use to make backgrounds.
     From these samples, I think I can choose a blue that will work for a nice winter-themed background. My next study is to find a yellow/orange that will coordinate with the series for a Summer background hue. I'm starting that study with a color called "Curry" and mixing it with "Grape" in the same 11-step gradation I used for the blues. I have my first study with that already soaking in their baggies and the colors are looking very interesting.
     While I'm doing the color study, I'm also spending daily time stitching small collages with leftover pieces of fabrics from my first Autumn series. 
collage 1
collage 2
For now, I'm keeping the collages on the simple side to work with basic composition and color combinations with just a little marking and stitching added. I may revisit them and work them more later.
     So although my color study may take a month or so to complete, for me, I think it will be time worth spending to improve my dye technique and to have a notebook full of hues and how to get them. I'm linking this 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.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How Do You Handle Fresh Goals?

 When you have a set of things to accomplish do you just get to it or do you have an organized way to go about getting them done? I just returned from the third session of my Art Cloth Mastery Class in San Antonio feeling so refreshed and ready to go with a new set of goals. In this session, we learned more about color theory, printing, dyeing, composition, layering, and a myriad of other topics. Here is a silk cloth (which I had never worked on before) that I had printed with dyes. It's over a yard square in size.
printed silk cloth
It has a lovely hand to it. I love how the complementary colors overlaid with each other and gave beautiful browns and muted hues. My plan is to cut it up and piece it into a scarf and then to boro stitch it. That will take quite awhile and I have other more pressing homework assignments so it may be several months before you see it again.
     Here are three pieces I took to the class as semi-finished pieces.
Three in-progress works
The one on the left is 24x48 to give you an idea of scale. My plan is that these will represent Autumn and I'll create companion pieces for each one for the other seasons. As I go, I'll come up with a plan for stitching. That will give me 12 pieces for my body of work for this class. Two more sessions to go and the last session, a year from now is our showing of the works. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
     I just returned from class yesterday and am starting my homework today. To accomplish my many goals, I set up a series of notecards on the airplane with tasks written on each that I have to finish before the next session of class in September. I plan to go into the studio each day and tackle them one by one in order to finish. Some are very small tasks, like a daily 20-minute stitching on small collages and some are large like finding the right dye hue for creating backgrounds for the big pieces. It's all feeding the brain and soul to me and I love every minute. Some days, I'll look at the cards and choose what I'm in the mood to do and other days, I'll tackle what needs to be done in order to move forward. I think having those cards will be the key for me to keep it doable without feeling pressured and without feeling like I forgot something.
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 the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

When Do You Get Breathing Space?

     Isn't it a good feeling to finish some projects? I've got quite a list of homework assignments that are due at the end of February for my Art Cloth Mastery Class. So when I recently wrapped up one of them and one project on the side I was doing just for fun, I felt some relief. Awhile back, I showed you the beginnings of a purse I started here. Unfortunately, as I worked on it, I forgot to take more photos while it was in-process. I got the pattern for it from an old Threads magazine (August/September 2005, p. 51).  So here is the finished product.
Milagros purse

Inside- it has two pockets

     And, for my class, I've been working on a series with a leaf as a symbol for change. The first one is as finished as I want it to be for taking to the class. I have it backed with ecofelt. The edges are not finished yet. I'm waiting to decide if I want to add some hand-stitching or more printing before I add facing to the back to finish the edges. Notice that I changed my palette? No blues in this one.
Flow 1 (temporary name)
     I'm about half done with the second one in the series which gives me a feeling of breathing room. I know now that I'll get it all done in time. 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 the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

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.