Sunday, February 26, 2012

what am I up to?

I firmly believe that every skill used in fibre art must be maintained throught practise.  The major piece I'm working on needed a few days for oil paint stick work to dry, so I took some scraps and made up a piece to practise free motion quilting, especially feathers.

Now, feathers are an element that is designed to fill space, no matter what size or shape that space might be.  The feathers need to be able to twist and turn to fill the space.  This is how I approached the whole piece--twisting and turning the feather to fill whatever space it was in.  Then I filled the negative space with very  close (1/16 to 1/8") echo quilting.  When I finished and looked at the piece, as a whole, instead of concentrating on the small area where I was working, I realized I had made a big mistake.  The feathers showed beautifully in the areas where there was enough negative space to contrast with their fullness.  In the areas where there was little negative space and the feathers very close together, they were at a significant disadvantage. 

I had totally forgotten to consider the need for adequate negative space to accent an image.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feeding the soul

Yesterday my small fibre art support group, Ravenesque, met at the home of a new member.  She works with fibre, but is better described as a multi-media artist.  Yes--someone who works with music and video tape, as well as introducing some aspects of performance art.  She showed us one of her recent video's, which has been juried into a national film festival.  This was a very different meeting of the group, as seeing her work and the discussions we had around it were far deeper than our normal conversation.  She explores the traditional roles of women in society, and the effect that the restrictions of those roles might have on the lives women lead.  But there is also a thread of concern about how abandoning those roles might negatively affect society and life in gnereal.  Overall, a very thought provoking day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New work

I have started my next exhibition piece.  The original concept was quite simple, and more traditional than others I've recently done.  A simple waterfall, with pieced rocks on either side.  The rocks were to be hand appliqued in place, the water FMQ'd, and the edge faced.  Piecing the rocks went well, they were cut out, hand basted, and the first side hand appliqued. But then I realized that the water would have to be added and quilted, before the rocks on the second side were added.  Since I had planned a little turbulance at the base of the falls, there would have to be rocks there as well.  Had to make more rocks, and the water had to be pieced to attach the rocks. If there was turbulance, then there would be spray on the rocks.  Okay, need to add a little paint, but the spray could also be stitched using bobbin stitching technique. Well, tried that on the Janome, and it just wouldn't work.  So had to haul out the old Pfaff--does bobbin work beautifully. But I had been told that the Janome would do bobbin work, and on the internet, ladies have spoken of using a special bobbin case to do bobbin work on the Janome. So off to the Janome store to ask about the special bobbin case.No-one there knew anything about it. We did find a bobbin case for machine quilting and "looks like hand done" machine quilting, but I wasn't going to buy it unless I knew it would work.

 Driving home I got to thinking.  The " looks like hand done" technique requires that the lower tension would be totally over-ridden by the upper tension, so that the bobbin thread is pulled to the top.  It's accomplished by adjusting the upper tension to maximum, but if the upper tension were left at normal and the lower tension reduced to minimum, would not that accomplish the same thing? And for bobbin work, the lower tension must be signifiacntly reduced, or eliminated altogether.  So this bobbin case may actually be what I'm looking for, but I still think I want to try it out to be sure.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wonderful eye candy

Today I delivered the Fibre Art Network show, Canadian Content, to the gallery in Neepawa, and hung around to help hang the show.  I had seen this show once before,when it was hung in Narramatta, but this time I was able to see every piece up close and for as long as I had wanted.  This is the only way to really see a fibre art show.  I think that when you walk into a gallery, all of the pieces can result in a visual overload, that can prevent you from really, really looking and seeing.  Since I had to describe many of the techniques involved, to the gallery staff and a passing newspaper reporter, so that they can  communicate the show to vieweres and  readers, I had to take a really good look at the pieces myself.  I learned so much!

Perhaps this is why fibre artists are the biggest fans of fibre art!  You have to understand the compexity of what you are seeing, because the end result of the process often appears as such elegant simplicty

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Broke the cycle

Yes, I've moved beyond the little quiltlets, and started to work on my entry for the next FAN show.  This one involves rocks.  I've been saving pictures of rocks and pictures of quilts showing rocks for several years and I'm finally going to put them to work.  I wanted to use a technique called "poverty piecing" which involves sewing hundreds of tiny scraps of fabric together , every which way.  But I didn't have any fabric scraps--so just cut up fabric to make scraps. This meant that my scraps were a little larger than necessary, but the technique worked very well, and I now have all of the rocks cut up, ready to baste into place.  Does this sound like I'm reverting to more traditional work?  Yep, you guessed it, for this piece, at least.  The rocks will be hand appliqued to a base fabric, something I haven't done in years.  With my sore hands, this may take awhile, so I'm starting now, even though the deadline isn't until August.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

new challenge

Last evening was the monthly get together of my small fibre art group, Ravenesque. We had a guest who brought 59 hats, that came from the estate of an elderly lady. It was explained that this is the beginning of a new community arts program.  The hats are being given to various artists with the instruction that they should do whatever they want to change it, but that the final result should reflect something about the artists's own life. Naturally, just about everyone in the group took at least one hat. Mine is actually a very nice royal blue felt one, styled exactly like the one worn by Walt disney's Pinocchio.  I know this because there is a label inside stating so.  I hope to find some way of transferring the label to the outside, during the transformation.  We have until September to have them finished, but I will work on it as soon as I can.  I hate deadlines.

Otherwise work continues on my little 12" by 12" quiltlets.  I finished one yesterday, but wasn't sure about what I had.  I showed it to the group and got a positive reaction, so I'm very re-assured. The group can be counted on to give and honest critique!  This one included a triple spiral, but is basically a fairly subdued and quiet piece.  I tried to take a picture, but my camera is not behaving and I believe it needs to go for repairs.  I now have about 8 of the little quiltets, and should stop, but I'm still having so much fun!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Back to Lee Valley

got more bead containers, but we also went a little further and bought a second hand office chair to use in the studio. My old one was bought many years ago at a garage sale for $25, but is now quite broken and really quite dangerous.  We went to a reputable store that specializes in used office furniture and paid a good price for this, but it is by a well-known reputable manufacturer.  Since I broke myshoulder last winter, I've had trouble working for any period of time on my sewing machine, mainly because of the height of the table amd machine combined.  With a height adjustable chair one again, the problem should be solved.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Beads

Drove across the city to buy more containers for beads. Bought 3 times as many as I had thought I might need. I get them at Lee Valley and find that the price is right and they fit and work well together.  Got the left over beads put away, including the ones in the shoe box. That took a couple of hours as there were four slightly different colours of seed beads that needed to be sorted.  After getting everything in the corner cabinet ( 6 feet high and 24 inches wide and FULL of beads), I discovered yet another shoe box full of beads!  I must have been out of my mind when I bought or acquired all those damn beads!  Anyway, this means yet another trip to Lee Valley--but not today.