Thursday, May 30, 2013

Storage Solutions Part 1

When I was shopping for furniture in thrift shops one day I was really tired and hungry and I wandered down an aisle and saw a closed wood box and thought "I don't need another small box even though it is wood and only $2." I passed it up and then thought I should at least open it up and look inside. So I went back and noticed it had metal hinges. I opened it and saw that inside, it had red cloth and white teflon dividers. It was for storing knives. I thought maybe the teflon dividers would be good separators for my presser feet. So I bought it. Better than dividing the presser feet, the pressure feet clicked right into the dividers!
     The other side of the box didn't have the teflon, but was divided in half and my sulky and mettler thread spools fit perfectly in there. I like my threads in boxes so that they don't collect dust. The box wouldn't fit whole into the drawers I had bought to put under my sewing table, but the hinges of the box popped right out with a screw driver and I could then put the two halves of the box into the drawers separately. So here are the photos of that box in the drawers and outside of it. I store my sewing machine parts in the box with the pressure feet, too.
The box inside the 1st drawer under the sewing table

The box outside the drawer

The box inside the 2nd drawer under the sewing table
Notice the red dividers between the cool colors of threads and the warm colors. I was amazed that the sizes fit perfectly.
The box outside the drawer
Under this box, the drawer is deep enough to store more thread so I have my larger spools there on old plastic storage. 

This is also in the 2nd drawer under the other threads
These are easy to pull out when I need them, too. I have safety pins and large straight pins and thimbles there on the left. 

So keep your eyes out for old knife storage boxes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Studio Part 2

Here are some more photos of the tour. Looking under the sewing table are some storage bins of fabrics. Blue and green are my favorite colors so those are my largest collections. The fabrics are just smushed in there. I used to try to be neat and arrange them by value, but I gave up on that pretty quickly. Also, I have all kinds of fabrics in there. The only ones I keep separately are my sari silks. I keep those in a plastic bin and the silks are sorted by color (sort of) in zip locks in the bin. Between the window and the sewing table, I've stuffed bags of batting and leftover bits of foam (messy; but hidden). The dresser under the ironing table back there has all my yarns and fusibles. And there is Opus my always present companion waiting to pounce on anything that moves. Notice there are no pin cushions... he'll pull out the pins and eat them... no kidding. I have to put everything away as soon as I am finished or else we will need to take a trip to the vet.

Here is my cutting table. I need to get risers to raise it up about six inches higher. Under it is where most of my fabric is stored. It is arranged by color except that I have the sheer fabrics in separate bins from the opaque fabrics. When I get going, I just pull out whole drawers and the table top gets covered. Such fun! You can just see my design wall peaking out over to the left beyond the futon. So from the sewing table and the cutting table I get a good view of works in progress hanging there.

cutting table
And on the other side of the cutting table is a nice reading area and a place where I can sit and hand sew. Presently, I just have a sheet covering the futon, but in a couple of weeks, I'll have a quilt on it.

So that brings you fully around the room. 
The next few posts, I'll open drawers and show you how I store threads and a really cool find from a thrift store to use to store presser feet.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Studio Part 1

     I neatened up my new studio and gave its first photo shoot. It still has some odds and ends to go before it is complete but it is now a working studio. I doubt it will stay this neat, but I want to start out this way. I took a bunch of shots, but will show you a few here and there over the next few posts. I'm finding it a wonderful place in which to work and can't thank my husband enough for coming up with the idea for me to get my own place in the house. 
As you enter the room, here is my desk with my catalogued magazines on top and binders with articles and lessons on Photoshop. In the large drawer is my copier/printer/scanner which I connect to my laptop as needed. In the tall dresser I keep stationery supplies, markers, greeting cards, envelopes, stamps, cardstock, papers, transparencies, computer supplies, etc.
west wall

 Farther along the west wall I set up a craft table. It is a hollow wood door set atop a kitchen cabinet and an end table that I bought at thrift stores. All of these need to be painted; probably white. I have a small refrigerator that we got for free when our large one under warranty broke and took a long time to repair. This small one will be nice for when I get into using dyes. (I hope to upholster this chair, too.)

also west wall
And then this is the view you see when you walk in the studio. Nice, big windows for me and the cats. And their window seat. I'm going to cover those pillows with a quilted patchwork, eventually. I have big plans to have my sewing machine sit flush with the surface without carving a hole in the table. Intrigued? I'll show you the steps of how to do that in a few weeks (I have to wait until my husband retires in 2 weeks... I could probably do it myself, but I would rather let him.)

That's all for now. I'll show more later. And I'll show you some details of my storage.

south wall

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Design Wall Up

I finally have a design wall in my studio. I bought 2 insulation boards. Each was 8 feet by 4 feet. My wall is 8 feet by about 7 feet and has one electrical outlet on it. Here are the steps I followed:
1.) I measured and cut the boards with an exacto knife.
2.) I cut out the rectangle for where the electrical outlet will be.
3.) I want white felt on one side and want to flip the whole thing over to have black felt on the other side so I cut out another rectangle for where the electrical outlet will be when it is flipped over.
4.) I have a lot of black velcro that was given to me. I cut 8 feet of it lengthwise and glued it onto the edges of one side of each board.
5.) I connected the boards with the velcro.
6.) I sewed the white felt to size.
7.) I laid the white felt on top and realized the black velcro showed through. AUUGH!
8.) I painted the black velcro with white acrylic paint.
9.) I laid the white felt on top and it still showed through.
10.) I put silver duct tape on top of the seam. (The coating on the insulation board is silver, too.)
11.) I laid the white felt on top and the duct tape showed through. DOUBLE AUUGH!
12.) I put a white sheet on top and then the white felt on top of that and all is good.
13.) I brushed a coating of wood glue on the edges of the insulation board as I went around it and pressed the felt onto it and pinned the felt and sheet onto the edges. (The sheet only got pinned to the top edge of the design board; not to the sides or bottom.)
14.) I set the sheet up so that it didn't come as low as the electrical outlets so that I could cut out the hole from the felt and not have to cut a hole from the sheet, too.
15.) I cut out the holes for the outlets from the felt leaving enough extra felt to fold over the edges.
16.) I glued the extra edges of the felt over the edges to finish off the outlet openings and pinned them.
17.) When I put the design wall in place, I realized it had a tendency to fall forward, so I hammered some hardware into the wood wall and pressed hooks into the design wall to hold it in place.
18.) When I'm doing regular work in the studio, I'll run a string from hook to hook to keep the design wall from falling. When I'm doing photography, I'll remove the string.
(I haven't put the black felt on the reverse side yet.)
Design wall with works in progress

edge of design wall with hardware and hooks

Design wall with holes for electrical outlet

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stamping Revived!

I was disappointed that I had lost the stamping texture due to all the embroidery and one of my friends who had been following the progress came up with a great idea. Trish suggested that I could insert some of the leftover stamped fabric in between the embroidery. I liked that idea. So I cut up the embroidery, put cut piece of leftover stamped fabric onto batting, and connected all the pieces together. In addition, I got to use a presser foot I had never used before to connect the pieces. I used pressure foot #10. How easy that made it to connect the pieces with a zig zag stitch. I think I'll be using that foot a lot in the future. To finish, I zig zagged a colorful yarn around the edges. The experiment is over! Thanks Trish. Be sure to visit  Off The Wall Friday  to see several great postings of art quilts from other artists and do make comments on their postings. By the way, my blog is all cleared up now so it's easy for you to make comments here, too.
In The Marsh

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Step 7 of The Stamping Experiment

     Well, so far my blog looks the same to me. The ax hasn't fallen yet. I've been busy stitching and organizing my studio.
      Regarding the stamping experiment, it is almost at its end. I used embroidery floss in a raspberry hue in a stem stitch to outline some petals of flowers. Then to give them more of an accent, I added some more petals in a straight stitch in a paler value of perle cotton. And stuck some very pale pink perle cotton in there for a highlight. I stitched some straight stitches in the center of each flower in a golden perle cotton topped with french knots to finish them off.  Where the third spiral used to be, I added some more chain stitch-detached stitches in blue and think I will add some more in that spot to make it darker there. Following the photos, I'll make some observations that occurred to me as I've looked at this piece lately.

1.) This piece has become more about embroidery than about the stamping design and texture.

2.) One of the parts of the stamping I liked the most was the floral stamping. It had white outlines around it that suggested batik to me and those outlines got covered up by the stitching. Perhaps I should have stitched flowers around the stamped flower images instead of on top of them.

3.) I had intended to have the thread merely act as an accent to the gray paint; not overtake it.

4.) If I wanted to pursue this stamping/embroidery, I would have to make many more iterations to get the effect I intended. But I want to get back to creating my body of work and this was just a side bar to that to see what would happen.

5.) I'll show you the finished product/s in a few days.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Quick Message

Awhile ago I inadvertently switched to Google+. It sounded like that would allow me to connect to more people. Instead, it ended up confusing me and it turned out it only allowed members of Google+ to leave comments on my blog. So yesterday, I downgraded back to regular Google. Over the next few days, Google is going to delete my posts and comments. BOO HOO. I don't know why that is necessary to downgrade. I don't know if they mean they will delete ALL my posts and comments on my entire blog or just the ones since I upgraded. So you may see changes. Time will tell how it will all end up. I love the social aspect of all this technology, but sometimes it makes my head want to explode. I like to keep my life as simple as possible. I'll keep posting as usual and see what happens. I hope you keep reading and I hope you make comments and ask questions. Here is a photo of Opus, one of my two cats playing hide and seek under some crinoline. It's how I feel waiting for the fall out from Google.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Step 6 of The Stamping Experiment

     I don't think I told you in the previous posts a detail about this experiment. Since I'm an art quilter, I did put batting under this stamped fabric and a piece of cotton fabric underneath that to make a quilt sandwich and I'm stitching through all the layers.
     I removed the spiral that was bothering me. Now I miss it. The piece needs a third one somewhere. I'll add one later on. It also will need a focal point. That will come later on, too. In this step, I added chartreuse perle cotton in a stitch I had never heard of before.  It's called cretan-slanting stitch. I couldn't find a tutorial for the the slanting version I used. I found it in my embroidery book, but here is the link to the cretan stitch, itself. She also has other versions of it. .

cretan stitch-slanting

So, please make comments about what you think this piece is going to become. Are any images forming in your imagination now? Keep in mind that my art is not totally realistic. I like to stylize images. The more people that share their ideas, the more fun this experiment becomes. Thanks for reading and looking. And be sure to check out this blog today and every Friday for really interesting art quilts. Off The Wall Friday

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Step 5 of the Stamping Experiment

     Well, I'm not sure where this will end up, but here is the next thing I did. I used a chain stitch and a variation of it called the chain stitch-magic. It uses two colors of thread at the same time. It sounds complicated, but is actually very easy to do. Here is a tutorial, which is part of the link I posted last time, too. .  I added some extra running stitches to help blend the spirals into what I had already done.
     One thing I've learned as I've become an artist, is that there are no mistakes. I like that. If something doesn't work, you can alter it later. If any of what I've done so far doesn't seem to fit to me, I can add stitches later, or I can add some sheer fabrics, or I can use Inktense pencils to add color or shading. But I'll wait until I'm closer to the end to make adjustments. The spiral in the middle seems out of place to me now and I may rip it out later, but for now it is there.
     So, what do you think this is going to become? Let us know.

I have an idea, myself; but perhaps may change my mind as stitches are added.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fond Remembrances

I had a good therapeutic cry today as I worked setting up my studio some more. I was sorting fabrics and came across a bag of clothes that belonged to my mom. She passed away in September after a long terminal illness. I got to spend a lot of time with her that last year and a half and was with her when she passed. I didn't want to keep all her clothes so I kept the ones I remembered seeing her the most in... sweaters with hearts, pajamas that said "I love you", t-shirts with teddy bears... really cute stuff. I folded them up and put them in the window seat I purchased for our two cats. I eventually want to cut up her clothes (sweaters, too) and make things out of them for me and for my siblings and for her grandchildren (who are mostly adults now). They all will remember those clothes, too. I was thinking of making maybe stuffed plushed teddy bears or the like. I won't be able to do it for quite awhile. The feelings are too raw still. Do any of you have any ideas of things to make from them that will be sentimental for relatives?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Step 4 of The Stamping Experiment

I added straight stitches today in a variegated light blue perle cotton thread running along curvy diagonal lines (5 of them). You may have to look hard to see them in the photo. Has the image changed for you now, or do you still see the same thing as before? For me, it is coming to life more. This latest stitching has given it more movement. Here is another link to a very detailed site of many embroidery stitches and tutorials on how to do them. People are so generous to take the time to create these sites aren't they? Please take time to add comments or questions. Thanks.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Step 3 of The Stamping Experiment

I stitched with the first color of thread. I used a perle cotton thread in a bright blue. I chose a favorite stitch from childhood called the Lazy Daisy Stitch. But since I didn't make a flower and connect the loops it's actually called the Chain Stitch-Detached. (I found that out when I looked it up last night in an old embroidery book I have.) Here is a link to some handy stitches and to another blog that is helpful, colorful, and fun from  Jane LaFazio .
Step 3 of Stamping Experiment
So what does this look like to you so far? Please tell us? The more opinions we have, the more interesting this will become.