Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gelatin Monoprinting

     I'm getting my fabrics painted for the rocks for my art quilt. To paint the fabric, I used the technique of gelatin monoprinting. Here are some photos that show the process and tools I used.
water in spray bottles, sponge brush, spoon and palette knife for mixing paints
brayer for spreading paint on gelatin plate
acrylic paints in cup, textile paints, toilet paper rolls and cardboard to add patterns to gelatin plate,
plates on which to mix paints

     I used mostly white cotton muslin. I also had some loosely woven white fabric.
     I mixed my own gray using Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red Light and Titanium White acrylic paints. That way I can control how cool or warm the gray is. (I learned that in the only college art class I got to take ... Painting 1.) I used various other browns, some yellow, some blues to make the other colors (acrylic paints and textile paints).
    I have the gelatin in a cookie sheet (dedicated for this use only) and I made a cover for it by cutting a sheet of plastic I had from something (sorry I can't remember where it originally came from) and then I put duct tape around the sharp edges. The duct tape also acts as a nice seal against the cookie sheet. My gelatin plate is over a month old and has several spots of mold growing on it even though it has been stored in the refrigerator. But the mold spots can be a good thing, and in the case of getting fabric for rocks, it's a very good thing. The spots add a perfect texture that mimics rock textures.
The gelatin plate with the cover on it

The gelatin plate without the cover
The plastic cover with the duct tape edges
Here is a photo showing a piece of fabric getting pulled off as it is being printed.
Doesn't look so great at this stage? Just wait...
To show you some finished pieces of fabrics, I decided to "frame" parts of them up for you rather than show just the raw whole pieces. I used some L-frame pieces of white mat that another artist gave me.

This fabric will be great for rocks
I put two fabrics in this frame

Can you make out the toilet paper roll shapes?
And finally, here are Opus's and Rosie's reaction to be locked out on the screened-in patio for a few hours so that I didn't get any paw prints on the gelatin or the wet fabrics. The squirrels, birds, and lizards didn't get any attention this day.
They know how to tug at my heart strings.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ahhh, Back to Making Art.

My art quilt background is still hanging on the design wall. I made a cutout of a monk from brown wrapping paper and took a photo of it. I made a bunch of rock cairns on a table from river rocks and took photos of them. (It was difficult balancing them because they are so slippery and Opus had a blast watching and chasing them as they fell.) And I used a previous photo I had of a circle from a wipe rag. I imported the background photo and all the other photos into Photoshop Elements and began to play with various compositions. Here are some of them in the order I designed them.

1.) Remember; this is only to check for compositional placement. The real thing will look much better because all will be made of fabric with textures and patterns and stitches. You know how much better it all looks once it is sewn and quilted. To me, this one is a bit boring, but it is a start.
large monk, tall cairn, all three items seem to be focal points
2.) This second one has a rock cairn with more interesting shapes. I tried to see how changing the size of the sun/moon would affect focal point since in the one above all three items seemed equal. But I want the cairn to be the focal point (I think) so this doesn't work for me.

better rocks on this one
3.) I made everything smaller on this third one and I like the effect better now. It gives a more expansive view like the monk is looking outward. Getting more like I want it. Oh, how Photoshop helps me see things. I can enlarge and stretch objects out and shrink them out in just a few seconds.

getting the effect closer to what I want

4.) Now, I had to go and really change it up. I flipped the composition over on the background, lightened up the sun/moon. Decisions...decisions.
Flipped composition
So how will I decide? That's the hard part for me. I'm hoping some of you will chime in. I think I'm leaning towards the last one. The monk is in the part that is glowing. Also, the rock cairn is in a part of the base that is almost like a path pointing to it (that's accidental but fits it and seems to lead to the sun/moon).  
Of course, the rocks will be made of fabric and won't resemble the photo rocks you see here.
But now I'm excited to get going.
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit art quilt blogs. Be sure to make comments on their posts to let them know you were there.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Making the Studio Look Nice Part 2

I finished upholstering the two chairs. Thank goodness because actually I had done four other chairs during the last few weeks (2 for our spare bedroom in an aqua fabric and 2 for our family room in a brown paisley fabric) and I don't like doing things more than once. Anyway, here are the remaining steps and photos.  Next blog post is back to art. 
1.)  I stapled the quilted and the sewn strip to the seat.
raw edge folded over and stapled to wood at seat bottom
2.) Here is the pattern on brown paper of the seat back with marks for the seam line, where the arms of the chair are, and where the ties will be. Note that my seam line isn't too even from the edge. That isn't important. It's just important that the sewing line is nice and evenly round so that the seat cover sits nicely on the chair back and doesn't have any sharp points on it.
pattern for seat back
3.) I placed the quilted pieces of the chair backs right sides together and stitched them together starting at the point of one of the arms of the chair and ending at the other arm. Clipped the curves, Turned right side out, pressed with the iron. Then I pressed the remaining sides along the seam lines and sewed them down and sewed the hems. Lastly, I sewed 12 inch pieces of bias tape for ties.

Here is a photo that shows the finished seat cover opened so you can the inside. Pardon the lack of precision sewing. I'm not too careful when it comes to functional items.
The seat-back unfolded

4.) Here's a photo of the finished seat-back. The patch in the center is from a sweater that belonged to my mother so it has a special meaning to me.

The finished seat-back
5.) To make the chair comfortable, I put a piece of foam and a pillow form that I bought at Joann's against the back before I slipped the cover over the back.
with foam a pillow

6.) And it's finished. I hope I didn't bore you with all these steps, but I thought someone might want to know how to fix up a chair. It's not difficult and it doesn't really take a lot of time. Just one step at a time.
It coordinates with Grandma's quilt!
At its desk

Monday, July 22, 2013

Making the Studio Look Nice Part 1

     When I was a teenager, my grandmother, who was a very talented sewist, made me a blanket by sewing together squares of flannel. They were leftovers from nightgowns she had made for my mother, my sister, and myself. My grandmother wasn't a quilter so what she did was she zig zag-stitched the squares together on top of a sheet to make the blanket. I used it on top of my bed in college and then it got put away into various closets over the years.
     When I moved furniture into my sewing studio a few months ago, I put the blanket on top of the futon and realized how much I liked the colors on it and thought that maybe it could be quilted. So I gave it to a local long-arm quilter, Julie Yaciw, in DeLeon Springs along with batting and backing fabric and she quilted it for me.
Grandma's quilt on the futon
       I have two chairs in the studio that used to be dining room chairs and aren't too comfortable. One is for working at my craft table and one is for working at my desk/computer area. I want to make them more comfortable and make them coordinate with the quilt.
original chair with vinyl seat

I dug out fabrics I already have and here are the steps I've followed. I'm sure there are other ways to upholster, but it seemed simple enough this way.
1.) Unscrew the seat and make a pattern from brown wrapping paper. I didn't have one piece of paper large enough so I taped together several pieces.

making a pattern for the seat

2.) Make a pattern for the back of the chair with brown wrapping paper.
making a pattern for the back (with help)
3.) Using scissors, cut the top of the vinyl seat off. I left the sides of the vinyl there for support. I cut the threads along the seams on the sides and the top easily came off.
removing the seat top
4.) I left the original stuffing in place. Then I cut some foam I already had and put it on top for extra cushioning. ( I love being able to use up stuff I already have... my closets are getting all cleaned out!)
there he is again
with foam on top
5.) Then I pieced together fabrics that coordinated with the quilt (one of them was from a pair of my mom's old pajamas that said "I love you") and quilted them in the ditch. Then I'll sew this onto a fabric strip that will go around the side and staple it to the bottom of the seat.

pieced and quilted patchwork cut to fit
Later I'll show you the back of the seat and how it looks all together.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mini Art Quilts

Years ago, I had made "inchies" to trade with other artists. Mine are actually 1 1/2 inches square.
To make each inchie, I decorated the fabric by painting it, fused the fabric onto a stiff interfacing, some free-motion stitching done, trimmed it to size, and then zig-zag stitched around the edge.
I had several leftover and made them into pendants, but didn't like how they came out. Today, I took out a package of glass beads that I bought when I was at The International Quilt Festival in Houston and some wire, and I redesigned my inchies. To add the beads at the top end, I looped the wire, added the beads to the wire, looped the wire under the beads, and sewed the bottom loop of the wire to the back of the inchie. To add the beads to the bottom of the inchie, I sewed the beads on with silamide thread. I attached a surgical stainless steel chain that I bought on Amazon. Here are the results. I'm linking this post to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let the artists know you where there.
Painted on commercial fabric

Painted on commercial fabric and some foil applied

Background painted on a dryer sheet
Heart appliqued on top

Center is thread-painted
Here's a photo of the back so you can see how the wire is attached to the top. I sewed it on using the silamide thread, too. The black square is a piece of sticky back (soft side) velcro from my first attempt at making the pendants way back when. I'm leaving it on for now for the added weight because it may serve to keep the pendant facing forward as I wear it. I've noticed that sometimes lightweight necklaces tend to flip over as I wear them when I move around. I'll see how these wear as I move.
back of necklace at top

Friday, July 12, 2013

Layering The Background

     After I was happy with the arrangement of the background fabrics, I placed them on top of batting and a backing fabric and straight-stitched them down using a walking foot. This is the first time I used the Pergo  Table Top we just built and the quilt top just slid right over like the surface of the table was teflon. I LOVE IT!  The white stuff you see in the photo on the left and right is shelf liner. I cut small pieces and it works well to guide the fabric as I quilt. I don't like wearing gloves. (It also works well to open jars.)
attaching fabrics

     Then I thought the edges of the fabrics looked a little too abrupt next to each other so I cut strips of a polyester light blue fabric and using a wide utility stitch, I sewed the sheer fabric strips down at the intersections of the fabrics, vertically.
Attaching sheer strip to blend fabrics

     So that's how I'll leave it for now. I need to look at it for a few days and audition a few different sized monks here and there in the foreground. And a few different rock cairns here and there. And also try out different sized suns/moons in different spots. I'm slow in making these kinds of decisions. I'll work on some smaller projects in the meantime.
Background sewn together
In some places, if I still want to blend more, I can take a brush and blend with Shiva white oil paintsik. I'll do that as one of the last things after I'm done with the foreground, though.
I'm linking this post to http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/ where you can visit other artist's art quilt posts. Please make comments on their blogs to let them know you visited.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Handy Dandy Sewing Table Top!

Finished Table Top
Now that I've been in my sewing studio a few months and my husband is newly retired, he and I put our heads together and we designed a way to have my sewing machine surface flush with a table top without having to cut into the table. (The studio is still a work-in progress... I may paint the table and the ironing station behind needs work, etc.) I bought a table that is about 3ft x 4.5 ft from a thrift store. We had some Pergo panels leftover from the studio floor. We bought some 2x4  pieces of wood from the hardware store. Here's how to do what we did: It took only about 10 minutes.
1. Lay the Pergo on the table and snap the panels together (don't glue them).
2. Put the sewing machine on top of the Pergo where you want the machine to be when you are sewing.
3. Mark with a pencil on the Pergo the outline of the machine.
4. Remove the machine and cut the Pergo with an electric jigsaw (but it could be cut with a regular saw, too).
5. Cut 2x4 pieces of wood to fit under the Pergo so that it will have support.
6. Lay the 2x4's on the table, lay the Pergo on top of the 2x4's, put tape on the edges of the Pergo to help eliminate friction as the fabric will pass over it.
7. We put the small piece of the Pergo we cut out under the sewing machine to raise it a little higher.
With this set-up, I can easily access the bobbin in the front and I can access the cord and buttons on the side of the machine.
8. This set-up isn't permanent. So if I want to sew with a free arm of my machine, I can easily lift off the Pergo and remove the 2x4's from the table and sew with just the machine on the table.
NOTE: Now my chair is too low so my husband is going to disassemble it and add a 2x4 piece of wood under the seat and reassemble and then it will still swivel and it will be the correct height.

ALSO NOTE: I haven't yet sewed a large quilt on the Pergo. If the Pergo starts to shift under the weight, all I have to do is put sticky back velcro on the bottom of the Pergo and the top of the 2x4's and that should hold it down.
Email me if you have any questions.
Pergo cut to fit machine

Opus inspecting his new throne during set-up

Front view with bobbin access

View underneath after completed

What it looks like with just the 2x4's