Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thought the Muse had died....

A friend invited me over for what is to us, the most fun thing two art quilters/mixed media artists can do--explore stash.  She had recently been part of the the distributon of stash from a deceased relative, and wanted to share.  This was the day before my pension cheque arrives and I barely had enough ready cash for a cup of coffee, but you better believe I jumped in the car, bought gas on credit, and hightailed it right over there! Her method of sharing such a find is to slowly go through it, and the first one to share a good vision of how something could be used, gets first dibs on it.

This means picking up something, fondling it carefully and discussing what could be done with it.  I truly believe that there is no more stimulating activity.  It doesn't work nearly as well if you try it alone, as your comments and ideas stimulate the other person.  Out time together is particularly interesting as we each approach  the task in our own way.  I'm driven by colour, and while she is certainly stimulated by colour, I sometimes think she has a way of looking at texture that I lack.  Her work is big and bold and dramatic, while mine tends to be more subdued and formal.  We complement each other very well.

A wonderful afternoon, and time very well spent.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Traditional quilts

Everything has been set up as almost an assembly line. The top for the smallest one has been pieced, and it's bigger than I anticipated.  The organization has been done and the tracing completed for the second one, so it's ready to assemble tomorrow.  In the queue is the Doorways.  I wanted to get all of the fusing done on that, just in case I ran out of fusible web.  For this sort of job I prefer the paper backed fusible, and it's been hard to find around here for a couple of years, but it looks like it's time to start looking again.  Last time I found it in Fargo, but I don't see a trip there in my near future. Usually I buy it by the bolt, but there don't seem to be as many deals around as there used to be.

The third one is "quilt as you go", which means a lot more cutting at the beginning.  I feel so guilty having to ask DH to help me with that, that I haven't yet mentioned it to him.  Today I had to put away a lot of fabric and get more out, which meant tossing around my big Rubbermade bins.  So I had to break down and ask for help.  He's always willing, and never makes a fuss, but the "guilts" get to me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Out of my Mind!

Whenever soemone complains about artistic block or trouble getting into a project, the recommendation is always " do something.  It doesn't matter what you do, but just get busy."
The Doorways has been stalled out, as I just couldn't figure out how to place the door sections on the background,  and I had cataract surgery on Wednesday, which kept me out of the studio for a bit.  On Tuesday, I got together with a small group of stitchers that has met once a month for over 10 years.  One of the ladies was telling us of her difficulty in supplying donation quilts to the local Transplant Unit.  In a moment of insanity, I promised her not one, but two adult size qults.  I had already made a mental promise to make a smaller quilt for the donation project at the LQG.  So I'm now working on three traditional quilts from a commercial pattern--and loving it!  Because of the surgery, I can't lift anything for two weeks, and because of the shoulder, using a rotary cutter is difficult, so VDH ( and that's a Very Dear Husband) did most of the cutting for two of the quilts, and the original friend has offered to help cutting the third.  The project has served as a review of traditional methods, and has made me think about the reasons behind most of them.  A good thing to go over once in awhile.

And with anything like this, as soon as my brain had transferred interest to another project, the answer to the design problem in Doorways came to me. So now I'm off and running!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Today was the meeting of our Local Quilt Guild (LQG).  A pleasant gentleman gave a short presentation on a historically significant quilt made by his grandmother, and also showed some more utilitarian quilts she had made--by hand.  The important quilt he showed had been made over a period of two years as a special project to honour the Canadian Centenial year of 1967--well befoe the quilt renaissance of the 1970's.  The others were very traditional, but here was still the touch of an artist in the colurs and flow of the designs.

Now, I'm an art quilter, or more probably, a mixed media/fibre artist.  But this display took me right back to my roots.  This was the type of quilt made by my grandmother, and both of the aunts, whom I consider mentors.  Quilts made to be used on beds, made out of out of scraps, or, only rarely, from purchased fabric.  But each piece made with love, and care and great attention to detail.  And each piece a tribute to the technical skill of the maker.

So, perhaps I can pay tribute to these women in my past by making sure that every piece--in whatever medium--is made with love, care and attention to detail, and with as much technical skill as I can muster.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some progress

Doorways is coming along.  I started with 6 prints, all of which showed some sort of portal.  I'm designing a surrounding border for each piece that takes inspiration from the type of stonework shown within the print itself.  The four I have finished were sort of bla-a-h, so I attacked them with Inktense pencils, and the result was dramatic--a big improvement.  I experimented with the pencils and found that applying them to damp fabric made the colour too intense, so I'm using them lightly, and then dampening the piece with a paint brush.  More and more I'm thinking that I might only want to use five of the six in the hanging.  I scrapped the original paprika print fabric I had chosen for the background, in favour of a dark charcoal grey, that makes the individual pieces sing.  There is only a small piece of the grey, so this will impact on how large the final hanging will be, and how the individual prints will have to be arranged. Regardless of how I proceed, it will be a somber piece, and not in my usual style. 

Normally, I have the entire piece planned in my head before I eve start working.  In this case I have a general idea, but am really designing as I work along.  While I feel a slight loss of control, this allows the piece to actually speak to me, and forces me to think about everything I do, instead of operating on automatic pilot.  Maybe my muse is coming to life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One of those days

I'm proceastinating over my Doorways.  Usually this means that there is a problem that I haven't yet recognized, but I think it's because I haven't figured out all of the technical aspects to my satisfaction.  Complicating everything is the fact that I'm trying to do without pain killers--at least during the day time.

Anyway, I spent the morning working on a small needlefelted collage that I have fooled around with when I was first trying to get back into the studio.  Now this poor piece has had many problems.  I spent a fortune trying to figure out what beads to use until I accidently spilled the beads from another project onto it.  Okay that problem solved (I had to scrap the other project--I had no more beads)  Some of the larger beads fought back and I had to subdue them with glue.  I hate to do that but will if I have to.  While hand sewing the beads I realized that the mono print on cotton that formed the background had been pounded into shreds when I added embellishment with my embellishing machine.  I tried to stick everything together with gel medium, and it seemed to work, in a small sample area.  But the next day I could feel a drastic change in texture.  So I sprayed the whole piece with spray fixative--which has worked well in some other pieces.  Tamed the threads,but dulled the finish on the large focal beads.

Are you still with me? 

I wasn't sure if the piece was ruined or not, so I took it to my Ravenesque meeting last Monday and showed it.  I said nothing and waited for anyone to notice the flaws.  Hurrah!  No one noticed.  So today I decided to finish it. I found a hanger that was almost a perfect fit.  Measured everything carefully and cut the piece to size ( I had planned to face it, as I felt that binding would detract from the overall appearance)  Shit! Instead of cutting off 3/4 inch, I cut 3/4 inch of EACH side!  So now, if I added a facing, it would be too narrow for the hanger--and the right hanger is hard to find!

After auditoning every piece of blue fabric in my stash, I found one that worked and was big enough.  The piece  is now backed and bound.

And I still haven't done anything on my Doorways, but to be on the safe side, I think tonight I'll play poker.  Or is that just more procrastination?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Class

Today was my last PSE class.  I had been to physio and to orthopedic clinic and then stratight to class.  I can't really say that the class was successful and I came home absolutely wiped out.  Probably still suffering from overdoing it yesterday.

Last evening was the monthly meeting of my art quilt group Ravenesque.  No-one is the boss withthis group and it's a relief to be able to attend and enjoy without any resposniblitiy. I talked to them about my plans for the Doorways and they seem to approve, although we had a good discussion about the long term viability of printer inks and ways of getting around it. ( I know that the best results come with the use of Bubble Jet Set, but I didn't have any and can't afford any.)  We also had a discussion about why we teach.   Several of the older membes have become quite cynical about teaching and are slowly leaving that part of their artistic practise.  Younger members are excited about the opportunities they see.  I wish them well, but also know the benefit of keeping my mouth shut, at times.  Yes, I'm one of the cynical ones.

This is a lean month and a long one.  Unfortunately, several of my artists groups are needing membership dues this month and a couple of summer shows are wanting deposits as well.  So how do I evaluate which of the groups have benefitted me enough to re-new?  Not an easy decision.  Out of the groups, I want the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist, and the networking opportunities that could lead to either exhibitions or sales.  I'm fully aware that I only get as much as I give, in dealing with special interest groups, and my contributions have always been a given.  But I have to perceive benefit--I'm too old to be doing things for nothing.  Over the past year I have withdrawn from three organizations, (although I'm re-considering one of those).  One, that I left, had seen me as a member since 1976--I left--and the world didn't end.  So the only person affected by my decision is myself.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Should know by now that when I try to do too much at one time there is a price to pay.  Yesterday I tried to do my PSE class home work.  Got totally screwed around and made a mess of everything.  Then after a short period of meltdown during which I chastised myself for not learning a damn thing in that wrteched class, I started to work on the photos I took yesterday morning. Everythign went well.  I got them into PSE, did what I had to to send them away, and got them sent away.  Not so successful with the few I treid to put up here.  But by that time I had been playing with the computer for almost three hours and I was wiped.  I had worn myself out trying to to too much too fast.  So the rest of the day I just vegged out--couldn't have done any more if I tried.  I should know that, at my age, recovery time is much longer than in younger people.  Unfortunately my brain thinks I'm much younger than I am.

Today I played some more with the old etchings.  I tried to scan them into PSE and re-size them ( to make a more interesting variety of sizes) and to try to improve the contrast.  Tried printing on paper and on high thread count fabric. By far, the best result s were to simply photcopy them onto the fabric, not worrying about using PSE.  I know that the Vivera inks are not permanent on fabric. So, although I never plan to get these wet, I heat set them and applied a spray-on fixative. Tomorrow, I hope to get atartedon the hanging.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I hope to have a busy day today.  I have been invited to submit any pieces that were previously exhibited with the Fiber art Connection of Southern California, to the selection process for a "Best Of"  exhibition.  They just want photos and basic info at this point.  So I spent a couple of hours with photos last night, but only found one.  So today I need to re-photo the others.  Not a huge job, especially if I do them all at the same time--and I know a lot more about using the camera these days. 

Then I want to start putting together the hanging I plan to make with the images of the medieval doorways and portals.  When I actually put the pictures I printed up on the design wall the buildings don't stand out as much as I would like.  After doing some homework for my PSE class yesterday the idea struck me that I could scan the pictures into PSE and then work on enhancing the contrast.  I also made the mistake of printing them onto a lightly dyed piece of cotton, but the pale printed design was just enough to affect the clarity of the print.  So I want to try printing them onto a ecru fabric with a high thread count.  Don't know where I'm going to find that.  The colours I've chosen for the piece are beige, brown, "paprika"( a rusty red),  dark brown,  bronze and black.  Now my mind is wondering if printing them on white would be worth considering. In order to do all this, I will have to figure out how to attach my laptop, with the PSE program, to my printer--a printer that sometimes works.  On top of everything,I would like to have the design and printing done to take to my Ravenesque meeting tomorrow evening.  Oh Yeah!!

Did I say that it would be a busy day?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Still at it

After finishing the pieces I spoke about, I realized that I had missed a step.  After she puts eveything together, and is more or less finished, she coats her work with gloss gel medium.  She explains that this pulls all of the various materials in the work together.  So I made another small sample and finished it as post cards and ATC's, coating it with the gloss medium before I did the foiling.  It does make a difference, especially with a paper I had used within the piece.  This was rice paper that had been coated with acrylic paint.  This was done as part of a larger project and involved three different colours of paint and a credit card.  The end effect was almost, but not quite, marbelling.  The gloss gel really brought out the colours with this, and sealed the edges, of the paper, as well.  With this one, I used stamping for surface embellishment, rather than the thermofax screens.  It wasn't nearly as effective.

I'm going to have to do some more of this.  I went through my sale stock and find that I need more of the fancy business cards.  I have until the end of the month to do it, but see no problem as I have lots of candy wrappers and painted rice paper.