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 (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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Interested in Owning New Art?

     Do you have some small space on a wall crying out for some inspiration for you to admire each day? SAQA is having an art auction of 12 x 12 art quilts this months. You can pick up one or two from your favorite artists or one that is new to you. Here is how the on-line auction works and the dates of the auction so you don't miss out. I have a quilt in too, and mine is in section 2, in which the bidding begins September 26.
My auction quilt, Continuity III

The artist statement is: Wildflowers are a sight to see when they are in masses in fields and on the sides of the road. But they are in peril for several reasons. One of those is the disappearance of the honeybee. The flower and the bee depend upon each other. Will the flowers and the bees continue or will the cycle be broken and these shapes remain only in our imaginations?

The other auction quilts come in all styles and colors.  Here are some of my favorites:

     If you want to view all of them, you can take a look here.  So, if you are interested, don't hesitate. The artworks, usually go fast. And, it's for a good cause. SAQA is a wonderful organization. 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, September 9, 2016

Do You Ever See Art Quilts Honored On Television?

     There are lots of television shows that honor paintings and sculpture, but it is rare to see art quilts even mentioned, so it was a delight when I was watching the Sunday Morning Show on CBS September 4 when they featured quilt artist Susan Madden as an artist in residence in Mesa Verde National Park. Video and Article If the video doesn't play for you, you can try to scroll down to find the link on its page and click on it. Some times it played for me and sometimes it didn't. At the end of the vignettes on The Sunday Morning Show, they always show a sun created by an artist. I sent them an image of a quilted sun I made several years ago and they showed mine several times. It was a thrill to see it on National TV.
zendoodled sun
     It is for sale on my website. It is one of my early quilts that I did when I taught a workshop on how to to do zendoodling and painting on fabric for my art group. It would be a nice artwork to hang in a child's bedroom. And it led to me writing an article for Quilting Arts Magazine in their June/July 2012 Issue. It's nice to see that art quilts are expanding off the pages of magazines and onto the screens of television. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please leave a comment on their posts so that the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

How Do You Help Your Series Along?

     When working on your series, do you ever need a push? I'm working on my fourth piece in my series for my homework in my Master Art Cloth Class due in October. One of the nicest things is that they don't have to be finished. I dyed the backgrounds and added layers on top with fabric paint with thermofax prints and stencils. We are going to critique them together and then can work on them more. They each had strict requirements, however. The first one I did had to be monochromatic. I chose blue-green and I could choose up to 4 colors in that hue. The second one I did was complimentary. I chose blue-green and red orange. The third one was analogous. Again, I stuck to blue-green, green, and blue. And for my last one, it is a value study in blue-green. I decided to stay with the same color family for all four so that I could have fewer variables to deal with and focus on design as I moved from one to the other.
     The theme for all of mine was "Cycles". I used the same design elements in each, varying the values of them to see how that affected their importance in each piece. Also, I changed how often I included some of the elements in each piece. I don't feel that I can show you any of the works at this time. Maybe when I come back from the class in October. Making a map was the last assignment in the creative summer camp I've been involved in. I'll miss it. It has been so valuable. For my map, I decided to make a mind map I made last night to help me along in designing the fourth assignment for the Art Mastery Class.
Mind map in my sketch book
     The large leaf is a thermofax print I'm using on all of the pieces. The spirals are stencils that I'm also using on all of the pieces. The topographic diagram I drew in the sketchbook is an image that I created and am using in various forms on three of the pieces to represent eddies. It was very difficult to get onto fabric in large sizes. Too large for a thermofax screen. In the end, the only way I could think of applying those thin lines, was with freezer paper stencils ironed onto the fabric piece by piece. So tedious, but it worked. I plan on hand stitching a running stitch at the end inside the topographic diagrams.  
     This mind map actually led me to new designs in my head for further work in the series. And a new color palette. So in pushing a series along, a mind map is the way to go for me, using a combination of words and imagery. 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.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Do You Have An Art Skill That You Shy Away From?

Is there an art activity that you feel that you just aren't good at? I always feel like I balk when it comes to making collages. I may start with an idea or start with a good color palette, but when it's finished, it never looks like a good composition. And when I look at other artists' collages, they always look so together. I study theirs vs mine to try to learn, but still haven't mastered the tricks.
My summer camp creative assignment this week was "Paint the News". Basically to take the newspaper and paint over it, then cut it up, and make a collage. When I saw that the basic assignment was to make a collage, I had two thoughts: One was "Oh no. I'm not good at this." The other thought was. "Oh good. I can try again. And at least there are directions for a starting point."
So I decided to use my favorite colors of blue greens. I painted over a newspaper page, a cut up some pages from a magazine. I really disliked my first attempt and threw it away. The next day, I decided to try again.
attempt #2
I liked this one better, but it still wasn't good enough, so I threw it away, also and I decided that wouldn't participate in this week's activity. The collages that the other artists were sharing online were very impressive, and I was too embarrassed by my attempts to share mine.
Then, one of the artists wrote by hers that she "let the chaos happen." That phrase really hit home with me. So I took my last attempt out of the trash and cut it up and rearranged it.

Balance The News

My response was to counteract the news of violence, stories of bigotry, and people ignoring facts. So I painted over the words on the paper almost completely. For symbolism, I added pages from a crossword puzzle book that could be filled in with more upbeat words. I used cool colors wishing everyone would just calm down and step back to think before they speak and act. And I incorporated one of my favorite themes.
Maybe I am getting the hang of collage. Let the chaos happen. I like that. 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.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Do You Have Tricks For Choosing Colors?

     When you are creating artwork, are you picky about the colors you choose? Do they have to be exactly the right hue? For me, they didn't used to have to be. But now, I have a homework assignment that requires me to work in one color family with only 3-4 hues. And another assignment with complimentary colors. So I'm being very choosy with my colors right now. I'm sure there are many ways to go about it, but I've come up with a way that is working for me.
     I go to one of the big box home improvement stores and pick up paint chips in the color family I want. I hold them up to my background fabric and choose the few that look the best with it. Then I get out my fabric paints and mix up the colors to match the paint chips. I mix them up on an acrylic palette and paint out a square on a piece of white cotton muslin. I also take that original color and add white and paint out a square of that on the muslin, too. I label the muslin with a number for the color like "2A".  The one with white added gets labeled "2B.  I sew the muslin pieces onto card stock and write the recipe for making the color on the card stock so that I can make it again.
Painted muslin pieces
For colors E and F above, I forgot to make their white counterparts. This way, I can remove the card stock from my notebook and hold it up or pin it to a background on my design board and stand back and see how it looks.
     Another trick I've been using is adding colorless extender to my textile paint to get a more transparent look in places when using stencils and thermofaxes. I try it out in different dilutions and keep a record in my notebook, too.
A thermofax print tested with a 1:4 dilution
Here are some prints on my art cloth at two different dilutions.
Two leaf prints at two different dilutions
By the way, the leaves are very special to me. My mother picked the leaves for me about ten years ago when she was still alive and living up in Chicago. I asked her to send me some autumn leaves. A few weeks ago, I needed to make a thermofax of leaves. Since I'm in the way of using what you have, I went through my things and found the bag of leaves she had sent.
     Last night, I needed an image of a leaf in decay so I mixed up paint, got out my gelli plate, and printed away to get an image for a new thermofax screen.
my printing table in full gear
     I ended up using one of the negative prints and inverting the black and white to get a good image to send off for my  thermofax. So, now that I have structured assignments, I'm developing structured ways of looking at color and I'm finding it actually more liberating.
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.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Do You Use Store-Bought Art Tools Or Do You Make Your Own?

     When you need a new tool for making your art, do you go out and buy it, or do you try to make it? Lately, I try to use what I have. Partly to be economical and partly to be gentle on the environment. Now that I'm dyeing fabric, which is new to me and using thermofax screens, which I only did rarely before, I'm finding that I need tools that I didn't have before. I know that I can order them online and they will be delivered in about 2-3 days, but it is rewarding to find things in my studio or the garage that have been sitting there collecting dust and spider webs and finding that they are perfect for the job.
     I love the flag fold pattern on dyed cloth and I wanted something similar with a criss-cross pattern on a narrow long piece. I looked around on Pinterest and other places and experimented with folding paper and figured out a fold that would give me what I wanted. If I used rubber bands to hold it together, though, the bands would leave a mark that I didn't want.
When you need a new tool for making your art, do you go out and buy it, or do you try to make it? 
      My husband had a couple of transparent sheer acrylic sheets in the garage that I could cut with some shears we have, so I cut two rectangles from it and then covered the sharp edges of it with duct tape. I put my folded fabric between the rectangles and put the rubber bands around them to hold them tight so that the dye would only penetrate through the folds and create the pattern. 
shears and folded fabric in acrylic sheets
      The first time I did it, I got the pattern I wanted. You see it here on a close-up photo with some stencils and thermofaxes printed on top. 
fabric is on the left
     The second time I did it, I didn't put enough rubber bands on top of the rectangle shapes, and too much dye seeped in. You see it here in this photo. 
dye bled too much
I'll probably over dye this fabric some time in the future because I don't like how it turned out. But anyway, that is one tool that I made instead of buying. I know that you can buy acrylic shapes for dye resists.
     The second tool I made is for thermofax printing. I have a store-bought rubber squeegie for regular screen printing, but for a thermofax screen, you need to use a much thinner tool or you get too much paint onto the fabric and ruin the hand of the fabric. Usually I just use an old credit card or gift card. But I have some images that are wider than those cards and if I use one of those cards to print them and run the card across them multiple times with the paint to get the whole image, I get a line or lines on the image on the fabric. So what I need is a card that is as wide as the image. Well, there is no card that wide. So I was scrounging around the studio for something stiff enough, waterproof, and wide enough that could be used over and over.
     I came across an acrylic sheet that I use occasionally as a surface for monoprinting. It came from a department store and was given to me by a friend. I have several of them.
acrylic sheet used to advertise cosmetics
     I took one of them and cut a strip off, covered the ends in several layers of duct tape to stiffen it up more, and it works great as a thin squeegie.
new tool
I just put the paint on one end of the thermofax screen and run my home made squeegie across the image once and I get a nice, sharp image without affecting the hand of the fabric very much at all. (Note: I usually mix my textile paint with textile colorless extender.)
How to use the new tool
     Plus, when I use my hand-made tools, somehow, my art feels more original to me, too. I know tools don't make it so, but it's more satisfying to me to know where it all comes from and to know that I thought of how to do it. It somehow makes it more fun, too. Especially if the tools are quirky and wonky as mine will always be ... I don't specialize in engineering.
     I'm very late in posting this particular blogpost. As I was writing it on Friday, a storm came up and lightning struck about 5 times a minute and it went on for an hour! The power went out. When all was said and done, we lost our phone, Internet connection, water pump, and OMG my blow dryer. I had unplugged my sewing machine so it was safe. It took until Monday to get the Internet and phone back. So that's why I'm so late posting this. But I can't complain. So much of the world lives without running water all the time. And our house didn't get hit by the lightning. It was close and it several places in the yard. We do live in the lightning capital of the world. (I'm in error. I meant United States.) That's about the 8th time our water pump took a direct hit. The power company already installed deep rods to ground the lightning. Too bad I can't make a tool to do better than 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 the artists know you stopped by.

Friday, July 8, 2016

What Do You Do When You Need To Sooth Your Soul?

     Do you have an art activity that helps sooth your soul? I've found two things that give me some relief when things are bothering me. One is to repair torn or old cloth items and put them back into good use. The other is to sit down, listen to natural sounds of birds and wind rustling leaves or turn on music while I hand sew free-style embroidery stitches. I learned this peaceful type of meditation when I took an online class with Jude Hill. Until then I only did machine sewing. Now I love doing both. I find that each has its place in my artwork.
     Awhile back I posted here about how one of my favorite shirts got ruined by bleach.
My "boyfriend" shirt
In that post, I showed how I put some patches of cotton fabrics on it and started to boro stitch to give it character. I've been so busy working on my dyeing projects, that I haven't had time to work on the shirt much. But this week, I needed some calm time and I sat down with it and stitched away and it's finished.
Better than Ever
     Now I like it better than before. It actually belonged to my husband and I borrowed it to wear it.
detail of the stitches
I stitched a floral motif in the upper right because that was on the fabric and it was fun. I chose not to cover all the bleach  with fabric because when I auditioned fabric in those places, it looked too much like a bib. So now, I have to wait until at least late October to wear it. The temperatures here are in the high 90's (Fahrenheit) and will be until then. I doubt my husband will want to wear the shirt anymore with its new style. 
     There are things we can all do to get involved in fixing ills of our ailing society and we should, but  we also need to take care of our own mental well being while all this craziness is going on. When I can fix one small thing in an artful way, it is soothing and satisfying. 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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Are Creative Prompts Actually Useful?

     Have you wondered if creative prompts are actually helpful or just a temporary entertainment? These past two weeks I participated in Jane Dunnewold's Creative Strength Training Summer Camp. It's an ongoing summer activity to promote her marvelous book, Creative Strength Training and her  Creative Strength Training Prompt Cards.
     For the first prompt, we were basically supposed to collect sticks and do something with them. I painted mine black and then dropped them onto a dyed cloth to see if I could get a nice arrangement of black lines. I did that because I often like to sew black lines onto my art quilts.
sticks thrown on cloth
While I like the zen-like feel of this arrangement, I may or may not ever use this particular design. But I can see that this method is a good one. I chose sticks with similar curves and I chose one that was much longer than the others and when I dropped them, I dropped them in groups. So the design isn't completely random. The other thing I noticed is the shadows produced by the sticks also contribute to the design. So if I'm looking to add prominent stitching lines to an artwork, this could work as a starting point for designing them. 
     The second prompt involved choosing a page from a book and highlighting at least eight words and writing a poem using those words. Right now, I'm liking the concept of life working in cycles and people's lives getting caught up in eddies of the rivers of life. So I got out my gigantic old dictionary and looked up the word "eddy". The words on that page that I used were: eddy, edge, fringe, golden, Eden, balance, mystical, and spiritual. (Some of those words were in the definition of Ecuador.) 
     After I wrote my poem, I pulled out a watercolor painting I did about a year ago that fit the poem and digitally put my poem on top. 
Eddy of Life
     And I think this method is a way to explore a concept more deeply. To help get more images for your artwork. Another way to mind map. So I will definitely do this again, too. 
     To answer the original question then... for me, the creative prompts can be incredibly useful in creating my art if I use them with my art in mind. (They are also entertaining.)
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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Are Some Weeks Busier Than Others In The Studio?

Or, in my case are some weeks busier than others in the laundry room? I've been working on my research project for my Art Cloth Mastery Class with  Jane Dunnewold. It involved lots and lots of dyeing cloth and getting dyeing recipes perfected for me and for the other students. I prefer cloths with texture and mottling, but in this study, I needed to get solid-colored cloths so that I can cut them up into swatches and each student in the class gets the same color and value on their piece as everyone else. I'm going to prepare the samples on cardstock with the recipes for all the other students and for Jane and give it to them at our next session. I got to choose my topic. I like to work with pastels, so I chose to find the recipes to get lighter colors of each of the 12 colors on a standard color wheel plus gray plus brown. (Brown isn't shown here.) I did the standard color plus 4 tints.
Whew! That's a lot of dyeing.
     I got quite tired of making solids only so I occasionally did a scrumble with leftover dye to see if the mixed colors would split at all. I did a scrumble of the blue-green and washed it out during a thunder storm. Here's the result.

Some lightning bolts?
And of course, Opus and Andy played their part in all of this. One of days, they were wildly running and chasing each other all through the house while I was in the laundry room measuring out dye. I was glad of that because it kept them out of my way. But then it got very quiet. Quiet is not good. I went into the studio to find this...
Is that a look of guilt or contrition? NOT
There is no way I can be angry at them. I love them way too much. And there is no way I can keep them out of any room. I love their company way too much for that, too. I only keep them out when there is paint or dye involved for their own safety. 
So the last two weeks have been very labor intensive. But the hard work is done. I've learned a lot about dyeing and have a wonderful resource. Now I can get to the creative and fun part of the homework. So looking forward to it. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' blogs so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Passing It On

     One of the things I love to do is spend time each week at our local Boys and Girls Club teaching a small group of girls (and now one boy) how to sew. I started last summer by having them write stories in sketch books I got them and then lay down a background in fabric and baste it. Then we planned a foreground in fabric to fit each story and began to stitch it in top. Well, those were taking too long for them so we put those aside and began making smaller works to eventually sew together into small books. They got very excited about sewing their "pages" since they could get each one done in a relatively short period of time. Each page could tell a little story, too. All the sewing is done by hand and I have a huge collection of embroidery threads in every color imaginable that they call the treasure box.
     Here is a small sample of some pages of one of the girls.
book page 1

book page 2

book page 3
I love her free style. She composed all these without my help. Her mother says she just wants to sew all the time. It's such a joy to pass this skill on to another generation. This particular girl even wants to teach some of the other girls in the club how to sew when I'm not there.  She's hoping to start a little club on her own soon. 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.