Friday, November 17, 2017

How Do You Finish The Edges?

    So, you've just finished the front and back of one of your works... Now you have to decide what to do with the edges to give it a finished look. Do you sew on a binding, a facing, do a pillowcase finish, or leave the edges raw? The answer should depend on the theme of the piece and the style of it. In the beginning, I used to put traditional bindings on my art quilts because I thought it was required. As I look back on them, I think it was a good choice for most of them because of the way I quilted them. They needed the "frame" around them to complete them.
Water Cycles
Then, later on, I started monoprinting my fabrics with paint. That gave a different look to my work, and a framed edge wouldn't look good. They needed a clean edge. So I sewed on a pillowcase backing to these after most of the quilting was done. Then I did a little more quilting through to the backing to secure it.
Beach Walk
     Lately, I've been dyeing my fabrics and doing hand stitches for the quilting. These pieces are fused to ecofelt before I do the stitching. I was going to sew a facing to these, but decided to leave the edges raw instead. The felt backing causes them to hang very straight and the style lends itself to a raw edge. But to give it a finished look, I hand stitch a running stitch around the edge 1/4" to 1/2" from the edge. Since I had running stitches here and there on the front, and stitched it so the stitches were interrupted with spaces periodically, I did the same to the edge. I could have machine stitched the edge, but I wanted the stitches to be the same on the edges as they are throughout the front. Also, I changed thread color as I went around the edge to match the color of the fabric so that the edge stitching blends in rather than standing out. On other pieces in the future, perhaps I'll use a contrasting thread color depending on the look I want.
Taking Root
     To prevent the cloth on the edges from fraying in the future, I dipped a 1/4" flat brush in matte medium and ran it around the edges. 

close-up of one corner
     I've also made some small (5x7) collages and decided to mount these on 8x10 canvasses in order to make them look more like art than little craftsy things. To do that, I finished the edges first with stitching as I did on the larger pieces, put matte medium around the edge to prevent fraying, and fused them with Misty Fuse to canvases that I had wrapped in black linen. 

Little Transformation1
Little Transformation2
     On the back, I glued ecofelt with a label attached, hammered in upholstery tacks, applied hanging wire, and covered the ends of the wire with tape.

back of a collage
side view of a collage
It really does take a while for me to finish off the pieces, but it's worth it to give a more professional look to them.  And, I'm really loving several products for this... EcoFeltMisty Fuse, and Embroidery floss. 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, November 3, 2017

What Do You Do To Keep Inspired?

     Do you ever feel like you need to search for inspiration? I have many things I do to keep inspired. I take notice of the things around me when I'm out and about, I read art books, I browse Pinterest images, I meet with artist friends, and I take the occasional class or workshop. If you have been reading my blog, then you know that I am presently enrolled in Jane Dunnewold's Art Cloth Mastery Program. As part of this, I've attended 4 weeks of classes in her studio in San Antonio studio and done lots of work at home. The latest session for me with her was last week. I've learned numerous new techniques there as well as doing color studies in paint and dye and honing composition skills.
at my work station applying soy wax paste to silk

     As part of the composition skills, I've gotten better at knowing how to layer images. She has been so generous in showing us her processes in creating beautiful pieces.
Jane showing us her process in creating part of her latest series
     The first day each session always involves each of us putting up our latest works for discussion. I do have a design wall at home, but not big enough to put up all of my latest at once. This was the first time I got to see all of mine from this class together.
What I've created so far in the class
     The theme for them has to do with changes and cycles. I'm hoping to have a total of 12 by the time I'm finished with this series. Not sure I can do it, but that's the plan.
detail of one showing stitching
detail of another one showing stitching
This session, one of the new techniques I learned and loved was lamination. She has a book that illustrates this process, but it was so useful to see it demonstrated in person and see numerous examples of it on finished works and on samples. I was so inspired by it that I can't wait to use it in my works and on clothes.

One of my lamination experiments
Another one of my lamination experiments
Spending every day for a week with students who are like-minded and also on the same journey is inspiration, too. Now that I'm home again, I have to settle down and get to work...lots of work. Our last session is in February and ends in an exhibit of our work. So, for now, my well is happily full. 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, September 23, 2017

Is Fiber Art A Good Fit For Art In Public Places

     It's common to see sculptures in parks and on street corners, but have you ever seen fiber art in those places? My town, DeLand, has just installed art onto electric boxes in our downtown and one of my pieces was chosen. They reproduced it onto vinyl and then shrink-wrapped it onto the electric box.
Me and my art.
It's in front of a beautiful mural.

Back side
They even did the top

Two by my friend, Bobbi Baugh
My friend, Bobbi Baugh, has several of the boxes covered with her fabric art, too. So, yes, fiber art can be installed outside into a semi-permanent place. These will remain until they are no longer attractive due to weather or other problems. What fun! I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

What Can You Get For You and Support Art?

     My piece is up for auction starting September 22. It's called "Across TIme". It all began as white fabric.

 Go to SAQA to see how the auction works.
I wish I could write more on this post, but I need to spend time getting ready for Hurricane Irma. I've cleaned up my studio and video taped its contents for the insurance company in case of bad things. And I'm rolling up all my art quilts and putting them inside the clothes dryer until the storm is over. My dye notebook is going in there, too. I can't imagine losing years worth of work and information. I may be without power for a week or more so you might not hear from me for a bit.  Hope everyone will be ok and suffer no or minimal damage. Good luck to all involved. 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 and thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What Is Your Favorite Technique For Surface Design?

     Do you have a technique for surface design that you find you use the most or do you use all sorts? I've been experimenting with techniques for years, but I've found that I find creating and using thermofax screens and stencils to be most fun. For both of them, I use my own photos as a starting point. I try to find the element I want to photograph and isolate it by putting white paper behind it.

Then I use the software Art Studio on my iPad to alter it and turn it into a black and white image with high contrast. For thermofax screens, I've gotten lucky and found a local shop, Fabrications, that makes them so that I don't have to pay for shipping. I just take them a copy of the image and they make the screens for me for a very reasonable charge.
     For stencils, I trace the image onto stiff cardstock and cut it out with an X-Acto knife. If it is a stencil I plan to use a few times, I coat it with semi-gloss medium first so that it is a little water proof.
This last time, the image I wanted to use was the root you see above. I needed an image that was too large for a thermofax screen and knew that making a stencil of it would be daunting. But it was the only way I could think of transfering that image in the color and value I wanted. So I decided to get on with it and do it. I had a transparency made of the black and white image, projected it onto freezer paper, traced it, cut it, and ironed it onto the fabric.
Cutting the stencil
I figured it took me about 5 hours of cutting time. I couldn't do it all at once because it would strain my wrist so I did it in portions over three days while I involved myself in other tasks in between.
freezer paper ironed on
There were inserts of freezer paper I ironed on into some of the larger open spaces, too.

my design wall now with the root stencil done
So now I'm designing a square version of the green one and hoping I can reuse that freezer paper stencil for that. I may have to cut another one in a different size. I'll have a thermofax made of it for the small collages and other uses. Even though it took time and effort, it was a very satisfying experience and I plan to do more of it. Regarding surface design, I think I've found a place where I can happily stay awhile. 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.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Do You Multi-Task?

     When you create artwork do you do several at once, several types of things at once, or work on one piece from start to finish before starting another? I used to do the latter. I didn't feel comfortable enough to start a second (or third) piece until the present one was completely done. I didn't like my mind to wander onto other projects and lose my focus. But now that I'm in the Art Cloth Mastery program, I find the need to have several things and processes going on at the same time. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish before my next session in October and I find that one process helps another.
     For example; while I'm waiting for a cloth to batch in the dye bucket, I can hand-stitch another piece or do some color studies with paint. If I'm not sure how I want to hand-stitch a larger piece, I audition stitching on a smaller collage with the same imagery. While I'm trying to choose imagery for an artwork I have in mind, I assemble the background fabrics and have them hang on the design wall to stare at for inspiration. Here is my design wall today. On it is an almost finished piece in gray on the left, the middle one in blue is done printing and layering but needs to have hand-stitching added and be put onto a felt backing, and the green one on the right is waiting for inspiration for imagery to add to it.
The small pieces on top are collages I made with leftover prints and dyed fabrics from the larger ones. They are waiting to be mounted onto a yet undecided surface. 

waiting for stitch and backing
small stitched collage in progress
another small stitched collage
     So I've changed how I work on art and I think I like this new way of having several things going on. It's more relaxing for me to spend part of day hand-stitching and another part of the same day dyeing fabric, and another part of the day in designing mode. It felt more intense to spend the whole day in the studio working on the same process. Live and learn. 
     I'm linking this with Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you visited. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Do You Have Access To A Good Museum?

     People who live in large cities have access to many quality museums, but what about those of us who live in small towns? Our local museum, The Museum of Art DeLand, gets fantastic exhibits. I don't know how they do it, but we regularly get to see top quality shows. The latest one downtown (the museum has galleries in two separate locations), presently has a show called "Painted Bodies" by photographer Roberto Edwards from Chile. The exhibit is on loan from  The Holden Luntz Gallery.
     The project had very well know artists from all over the world go to Chile to paint onto the bodies of models.  Here are some of the images:
Artist-Linda Mason, England

Artist- Jaime Zapata, Ecuador

Artist Pedro Ruiz, Colombia

Artist- Verónica Rubio, Spain

Artist- Sebastiàn Leyton, Chile

Artist- Verónica Rubio, Spain
Note: the red strings on two of the models aren't actually strings. They are painted onto the models with red paint and the shadows of the "Strings" are also done in paint.
     If you are anywhere close by, do try to see this exhibit in person. It's amazing.  Here's a YouTube video about the project.
     In between museum visits, I'm adding stitching to my series.

Also, here's a link to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the posts so that the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Do You Do With Art Experiments?

     When you create a piece of cloth from an experiment do you put it in a notebook, put it away somewhere, or try to create something out of it? I usually try to create something. I hate for things to be put away and not used. Such was the case with an experiment on silk from my most recent Art Cloth class with Jane Dunnewold. We learned how to print on fabric using thickened dyes and used screens we had created in class to print through. Here is one of my results:
experimental screen print
     It was over a yard square in size. I cut it up into strips and machine-pieced them together. Then I overlapped two of the resulting long strips and sewed them together with a seam. I topstitched around the edges and then my scarf was finished. 

     I have two more cloths from that same procedure, but they don't seem as promising as this one was. But since I don't like cloth to just sit there, I may try to overdye them and turn them into cloth napkins. That's all for now because I'm very busy dyeing and printing to continue with my art series. 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, June 23, 2017

The Quest for Spring Green.

There are so many green hues in nature. But which ones really dominate in Spring? The answer probably depends on the plants in your view. But in creating a dye background for my Spring pieces, I want to capture the yellow-green I see in the new growth popping out of stems and branches. I also need that hue to coordinate with the gray pieces I've already made for Autumn so it can't be an intense hue. So to find my desired green, I ran several experiments mixing colors to produce my yellow-green. I tried various blue dyes mixed with Prochem's Sun Yellow. I tried Neutral Gray mixed with that yellow, too. And then I mixed compliments to get a duller green because the brightly colored ones didn't play well with the gray pieces. I mixed grape with yellow, grape with curry, bronze with tangerine. All produced some very interesting greens. I think, for my purposes with this series, I've settled on the bronze/tangerine mixture.
     One thing I found was that the color will change dramatically if the fabric is completely immersed in the dye bath compared to if it is just wet with the dye bath. Here's an example:
green produced by completely immersing
fabric in yellow/grape mixture

interesting but ugly sample using the same dye bath
shown above, but only wetting the fabric with it
instead of immersing the fabric in it
I think I've learned that only wetting the fabric with dye mixtures causes the colors to split. (Which may be a good thing sometimes, but not for what I want here.)
Completely immersed in a bronze/tangerine mixture
This one is very close to what I want. (The rectangle you see on the right is a shadow of my iPhone when I took the photo.) I tried overdyeing a piece of it in very dilute Marine blue to get a little more green and less yellow.
Overdyed sample
I love this piece of fabric, but it doesn't really go well with the gray pieces I have so I'll use it for something else. I wasn't expecting so much blue to come out pure. Something for me to remember about overdyeing... Some of the new color will show as its pure color. 
     So I might use the bronze/tangerine mixture and try getting the effect I want by printing on it with the right hues. I'm getting a little frustrated because I can get the exact color I want when mixing paints, but with dye, you can't see what you've got until after you've washed and dried the fabric after it has batched in the dye bath. Sometimes, while it is in the dye bath, it looks one color, but after batching, washing and drying it comes out different than what it seemed. I guess that is part of the learning curve. 
     While my samples, batch (24 hours), I work on smaller projects. I needed some coasters in my studio for putting on wet glasses with ice water or cups of hot coffee or tea and I wanted them to coordinate with the quilt my grandmother made for me. Instead of buying fabrics, I went to a bag I've been keeping of scraps of fabric leftover from dye experiments. I cut up pieces of those to make small collages and followed a tutorial I wrote here for my very first blog post on how to make coasters using old floppy disks. 
new coasters on studio table
All four coasters
      So that's what I've been up to. Trying to find the right green and smaller things. I think it is the scientist in me that makes me want to get just the right mixture. But I've decided that this week, I'll just choose one of the mixtures I've already tried and make it work in my series. I can change how it appears by the paint colors and values I choose for printing imagery on it. 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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Catching up

     If you are a follower of my blog, then you may have noticed that I haven't posted in awhile. That's because I've been traveling. Besides enjoying seeing works of art on canvas, I also love to see very ancient works. So with that in mind, first, I went on a trip to Jordan. I've wanted to see the ruins of Petra for a long time and we finally decided it was time to go there. We found the sites of Jordan to be amazing in both their antiquity and variety. The desert in Wadi Rum (where the film "The Martian" was filmed) was spectacular in all the colors, rock formations, and natural history. Also, we got to have lots of fun floating in the Dead Sea. But the highlight of the trip was to visit Petra, a city that was carved out of live rock in about 315 BC. The remaining structures are huge and scattered over a large area. On our second day there, I walked over 8 miles up more than 700 stairs and over a track that passed by amazing tombs.
Me, looking at the Treasury in Petra
     After Jordan, since we were on that side of the world already, we flew to Spain instead of coming directly home. We rented a car in Barcelona and drove around Northern Spain for 2 weeks. We spent the time exploring villages, castles, and cathedrals. What a great experience it was.
     Shortly after returning home, we went away again, but this time much more locally. We went to the west coast of Florida to Dunedin to participate in the opening reception at The Dunedin Fine Arts Center where I had my work, "Rise" on display in the SAQA show "Growth". What a fantastic display at a beautiful gallery they had with live music, good food, and quite a crowd. 
Karol Kusmaul giving a talk about her work in front of the exhibit
New Quilts from an Old Favorite
works from "Growth"

more works from "Growth"

my piece  "Rise" at the lower right in "Growth"
     So now I am home for several months and am busy dyeing fabrics and putting them together for printing and other surface designing.  Hopefully, next week, I can share with you some of the work I'm doing now, but I wanted to catch up and let you know I'm still here. I'm linking up to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for stopping by.