Friday, November 29, 2013

This week'sproduction

Last Thursday the November Fast Friday Fabric Challenge was issued, and we had a week to post our interpretation on theFast Friday blog. I decided to give it a try. With my recent medical problems, I haven't really managed to do a lot of this type of work and my deteriorating skill level certainly showed up while working on this.  Basically, the challenge was to create a piece using the various cultural beliefs about butterflies.  ( )  There were several references, all of them discussing various myths and legends

One of the myths was about one of the gods putting all of the colours in the world in a bag, shaking it up and when it was opened, out came the butterflies.  Pretty straight forward.  Let's give it a try.

Well, that's not very exciting.  What else can we find.  One of the references was a serious article on the role of butterflies in the beliefs of pre-Columbian central Americans.  Stylized motifs, representing butterflies have been found on armour, in carvings and even stamped into pottery.  There was a picture of a statue with one of these motifs created in bas-relief on the breast plate of his armour.  Would it be possible to re-create the motif using a stamp, as they had done with the pottery?  I started to get excited.  I could make a stamp out of craft foam, and try this out. Stamp done.  Made up a stamping surface and carefully measured out fabric and marked the areas for placing the stamp.  I used Seta-color out of the bottle and carefully applied the paint to the stamp and then stamped three motifs.  Although the test stamp went well there were a couple of blobs on the final stamping.  Oh Darn!  So, I learned that one layer of craft foam is not enough for a good result.  I should have used two.  But is it too bad to use?  No, not really.

The next morning I heat set the paint and got out some colours to fill in.  I attached the fabric to a frame to keep it above the surface below,which would have messed up the paint.  But I didn't have the right size frame and had to move the fabric on the frame after each motif was painted.  Well, I got excited and hurried and moved them too soon, and some of the paint smeared.  Blobs and smears?  Time to start over.

Here is what we have at this point.
This technique doesn't seem to be working.  Is there any other technique that might be better.  Stained glass!  And this would give me the chance to try out my little bias strip maker I bought.!  I haven't done stained glass in 25 years, but ever the optimist.   I chose to paint the coloured sections rather than try to applique them. I very carefully marked them out with the lightest pencil.  When the paint was dry the pencillines stood out like beacons under the yellow paint. Oh Darn!  But when I checked the back there was no evidence of the pencil , although the actual colour was somewhat lighter.  Okay let's use the back/. Then, first fused, then machine stitched the bias strips.  Here is the result, first in process and then finished.

 In my opinion, all of the spontaneity, and character is gone.  I have lost the firm edges of the stone in the original picture.  It's now Thursday,and this should be posted by Saturday, although we had been given some leeway because of American Thanksgiving..  

At this point I am becoming attached to these little critters!!.    How bad is version #2--really??  It's the one I like most, despite the blobs and smears.  Okay, let's go with that.  It is now echo quilted, as I believe that anything fancier would take away form the motifs, and bound.  But,boy! Does my echo quilting ever need practice!!  Regardless, I think I am well pleased with the result.  I have certainly learned where my skills need work, and I have this little motif that I hope to use in some other project.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I sense a muse in the building

I came to the realization that caffeine had crept back into my life, and quickly put a stop to it.  I have much more energy, and there are even some creative thoughts creeping into my brain.  The first charity quilt top is all put together, neatly folded up and put away for later.  The other set of squares is neatly put into a storage box for later.  I found out yesterday, that my conduit to my quilt charity is backing off for awhile.  She didn't go into details, but it means that there will be no call for quilts for several months.  Well, on the whole, I would rather be playing with my FMQ'g.

I have been spending time on the internet looking at various blogs containing good quality FMQ'g.  I have several ideas I want to try, and have chosen three different hand dyes to work with,  and selected, at least, 5 different threads to use with each.  I know that I'll have to spend some time warming up before starting on any important piece--who am I kidding--I'll have to do a lot of practicing before starting anything important.  It's been months since I actually did much in the way of FMQ'g!!  This will even give me an excuse to do more dyeing!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Charity quilts

I prepared 24 blocks for one quilt and 20 for another.  I had the sashing fabric ready to go, and settled down to square off the set of 24.  Half of them were wrong, and had to be re-done.  What a disappointment.  This is not me!  over the years I have gained a reputation for the quality of my technical work, and it sure wasn't here in this set of blocks.  They needed to be taken apart and re-stitched.  Ar-g-g-g-h!  However, the job was done,-- with the help of my husband, who is one of the best "reverse stitcher" that I know.

I have been exploring blogs and found a very inspiring art quilter.  Her name is Rhianon and she lives in Scotland. ( ) This ladies work is phenomenal, and from what I see she is very, very productive. Hr feathers are particularly interesting, as she echoes several times and uses bright and different threads for each echo. I notice that she also appears to use hand-dyed fabric, which is something I have liked in the work of Diane Gaudynski.
so, once these charity quits are tucked away, it will be time to audition my hand dyes, or maybe make some more!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Calmed down for now

My Ravenesque ladies were over last Monday, and agreed that the piece I last spoke about needed to be modified in some way.  That's not to say they all agreed on how it was to be modified.  Generally, the beads have to go, and probably the purple strips as well.  This brings us down to the background dyed fabric, which is my favourite part of the piece.  So I will see what I can do.  It will be a major hassled to get those things off, as the strips are fused and then satin stitched, and the cabochons are glued before being stitched in place. It may not be possible, but I have a secret weapon--another half yard of the dyed fabric.  I could maybe re-create the piece and no-one would ever know.  I read on the internet that a piece inspired by glass balls, created by a famous glass maker -and shown with the balls in a gondola, won a prize at Houston.  Then this week, an artist, whom I admire, showed me a piece she had done with background covered in coloured and shaded bubbles, and her grand-daughter climbing in the bubbles.--very, very effective.  So I bought a piece of dark purple cotton and want to try making bubbles by discharging the dye.  If this works, I may try an array of bubbles over the dyed fabric background.  If this can be done, I think the shape of the bubbles will nicely echo the shape of the pearls in the background quilting.

But I am no longer in a panic over creating more pieces for my gallery show.  When I was so discouraged, DH and I went through my available stock and identified thirty pieces that would be suitable for the show.  I have now mailed a master list of those pieces to the venue, as required, and DH and I have spent the last two days making sure that each piece has the necessary dowel and chain, for hanging.  Other than some paper work, I think I'm ready for the show.

Today, I relaxed and worked on a couple of charity quilts.  It was a welcome change to spend an afternoon in somewhat mindless work.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Not a good day--so we are having a bit of a "wake"

In all of my frenzy of activity for the upcoming gallery show, I have had one general focus--to finish as much as I can and then get to work on what I had hoped would be the main piece of the show.  I have a wonderful hand dyed fabric, which has been FMQ'd.  I have spent the last few months collecting just the right beads to stitch on, and bought the three cabochons that I had hoped would create the focal point of the beading. As of this week I  was ready to start the hand work.  Well, it just isn't working.  I asked DH for an opinion, and he was very, very carefully neutral about it--always a bad sign.

I have to consider that I am not really feeling very good today--aches and pains and not much sleep.   That's always a factor in my work, and must be considered.  But, I've learned over the years to pay attention to this sort of "oh oh" feeling, and now think I must send this to the "crap quota" file.  A sad time, lots of regrets, and not a few tears.
Here is the overall piece.  The plan was to have a swath of beads from just below the horizontal applique, curving around and up the side to just inside the top of the vertical appliques.  The problem, as I see it, is that the beads, that I've spent so very much money on, are just not right for the fabric.
  Here is a close-up of the beading done so far.  My husband says that part of the problem is that the cabochons are maybe too big for the piece.
and here are all of the beads that I had selected for possible use in the piece.  All of the stacking jars are full of beads, and the "bead soup" spread out on the table weighs about 3 pounds, or represents about $150.00 worth of beads.  The round tin on the right is full of lightly polished amethyst chip beads, that I bought a couple of years ago and saved for a special project.

As is my custom when I'm unhappy and frustrated, I started to tidy up.  In this case it meant sorting through my entire bead cupboard, and re-arranging things so that all of the new beads fit--somehow.  It took a lot of energy, and a  few more tears, but it is done, and I have pile of "stuff" to give away when my Ravenesque ladies come for the day on Monday.

Friday, November 1, 2013

May I introduce--?

May I introduce......?

Finally I have work finished,--sort of.  This first piece is titled 'Generations". I took the pictures several years ago at McConnell Lake, and combined elements from three of them into this hanging.  I really wanted the focus to be the height and age of the trees,but soon realized that I needed the  figures to provide scale. I have never put figures in any of my previous pieces--and there have been quite a few of them.  Creating a working sketch of the figures was quite a chore,but I'm happy with the result.I had a simpler image of the three people simply walking away, but thought that it would be more interesting if there was some evidence of interaction between them. There are a couple of techniques in this piece that I've not used before, and I think I  learned quite a bit making it.

The title refers to the many generations it has taken to grow these trees, the five generations of my husband's family that enjoyed the family cottage at McConnell Lake before it was sold, out of the family, this summer, and finally the three generations of my own family, who were models for the picture.

 Here is a close-up of the figures.  Poor little girl has had her shoe fall off, and is asking her Mom for help.

The other piece is titled simply " Bonsai Tree". I spent a lot of time reading about bonsai trees on  the Internet.  I found out that they can be made from almost any type of tree.  They are defined by severely stunted growth, which leads to very dense foliage.  The containers they are grown in are often quite elaborately decorated.  And they can appear in almost any shape and configuration you could imagine.  This piece is done on hand-dyed fabric.  I don't know if it meets the definition of thread painting, but is entirely created with densely stitched thread, two shades of Superior Fantastico in shades of brown and beige, and two shades of green Sulky Blendable, two shades of sulky Blendable in grey,  along with two shades of 30wt Sulky solid.  The different densities of quilting made it necessary to block this piece, but here it is with the binding sewn on ready for hand finishing.

And here is the close-up.