Sunday, December 28, 2014

And what about the others pieces you ask?

The two other pieces I've been talking about are coming along nicely.  I badly over-estimated the number of hexies I would need for my knitting bag.  I elected to use a circular construction methodinstead of a line by line method. and am now on my fourth round.  Each round adds about 3 1/2 inches in width, and a little less in length.  I am aiming at 18 " square, and had 11 1/2' after the third round.  I have used less than 1/4 of the hexies that I basted up.  The colours are blending together quite well, and as I planned.  There is a tiny gold safety pin in the very first center hexie.

 I am taking out the papers as each round is covered by the next round.  Here is a view of the back

Here is the Pain piece with all of hte quilting done and ready for binding.  I still have to add the tiny black arrows at thepoint of the red triangles that are on top of red/yellow fabric.  I couldn't do that before it was quilted.

here is a close up of the quilting.  I chose "McTavishing" for my quilting pattern as I felt he swirls would reflect the confusion and distraction I associate with pain.  I am also re-considering the title.  I no longer believe that pain can be controlled.  All you can do is cage it.  So the title has become "Caging the Pain"

This piece has brought something home to me.  I have suspected that my skills have deteriorated ove the last year, and my work here really shows it, especially my Free Motion work.  I will never exhibit or display this piece, it will  remain in my private collection ( doesn't that sound "snooty"?).  But the actual making of it has become an awakening to me.  I have more ideas, and a sense of direction

What am I up to

In sorting out things because of a new shelving unit beign added to my studio, I came across my Shibori basket.  I have been invited to a fabric painting and dyeing day in mid-January, and thought it might be nice to take along a couple of recent pieces of Shibori.
I am a fan of using more than one dye bath for Shibori.  That is how I was taught, and the effect can sometimes be quite stunning.  I see everyone of my finished pieces being unique a special--I have no intention of ever trying to duplicate them, so am quite prepared for a fair bit of serendipity. I often start with low water immersion, using two colours, and aiming for a fairly either bright or pastel result.  Some of my pieces of routine low water immersion dyeing end up being put into the Shibori basket.  The following started out this way using fairly light Golden Yellow and Fuchsia Procion MX dye.  I then used an Itajime technique using four 4' square ceramic tiles.  The fabric was carefully folded and the folds ironed in place.  I tied the bundle, as this is the traditional way it is done, and evidence of the ties is often sought as proof of traditional Shibore technique.  But to compensate for my very weak hand strength, I also used a clamp.  My Bad!
Here is an overall view from my design wall.
The detail I was able to get floored me.  This close-up not only shows the colours well but if you look closely you can even see the lines from the back of the ceramic tile!

And lastly, a scetion from closer to the center of the piece.  Yes the lines from the ties show, the colours have blended beautifully.  My DH says it is the nicest piece of dyeing I have done.  I am well pleased.
Now, normally when I use Shibori pieces, in wall hangings, they are cut up and re-pieced, but I am thinking this one should remain as a whole-cloth piece.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sewing machines

Well, my machine needs servicing yet again.  While it is working today, sort of,  we have been waiting on parts from the last time it was in, and now there is a new problem.  The wretched thing is only 4 1/2 years old, and while the dealer isn't using the word "lemon", we are.

I expect a lot from my machines, but take care of them, and have problems fixed asap.  When I buy a machine, I try to look for a "workhorse", not a show horse, and try not to be seduced by fancy gadgets I'll never use.  On the other hand, I'm willing to pay for gadgets that I do use, such as the cone holder I have attached to this one.  I have looked at the next model up, and am right pissed off that none of the gadgets and attachments I bought for this one will fit--same manufacturer, supposedly same model.

So what else is available within the community?  We have three dealers in the city.  Living on a pension, I know that I can't afford a Bernina--period.  So that leaves two more dealers, and when it comes to product within my price range, there isn't really much difference in the various options available.  So the service side of the business becomes part of the decision making process.  IMHO this brings it down to the question of whether I would rather deal with someone whom I believe really doesn't give a "tinker's damn" about me or my machine once my cheque is deposited, or a chauvinist who will only discuss the machine with my husband, and thinks my distress at having the machine in the shop for 4 months is a joke.

Well, I guess I'm going to talk to both of them.  The machine I had previous to this one, is still around, after 11 years, and provides faithful service when the newer machine is down.  It lacks some features that I have come to rely on, and that I miss terribly.  The chauvinist can be considered approachable. as long as my husband is with me--as he usually is.  By letting the two of them talk, I have sometimes received pretty good service.

Not how I expected to spend the next week.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Slowly getting there

A busy time of year but I can still find a few minutes here and there to work in the studio.  I guess that I'm truly blessed with having a studio area that I can leave, and come back to, without having to put anything away ( although I do try to tidy up a bit before I leave).  Here is my "Controlling the Pain" piece with about half of the red pieces sewn down.

And here it is with all of the red sewn down and all of the grey sewn down, as well as all of the basting removed ( and wasn't that a bit of a PITA!).  The white background is already quilted, but there are a couple of narrow borders to add.  I plan to do some hand embroidery-mainly tiny, black arrows of pain coming out of the top of each Prairie Point.  (and  weren't those little buggers a PITA to sew in, as they had a straight edge that I was trying to cover with a curved edge.  They kept moving around on me, even when I was trying to hold onto them with a stiletto.)  I managed to finish with 2 left over from the original 126.  Good planning? No-- just darn good luck!

What about the hexies?  Three hundred and counting.   My goal is 350.  I've already started to look for thread to sew them together and then quilt with.  I'm still trying to figure out the most efficient way of sewing them together.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Slow progress

Preparations for Christmas have taken up much of my time for the last few days, and progress has been slow on my "Controlling the Pain" piece, but about half the red pieces have been sewn onto the background, complete with their Prairie Points.   Now I have to spend time making more Prairie Points before I can go much further. They are all cut out but have to be pressed into shape.  I'm still workingon the original 126 that I cut out, but I'll probably have to cut more. Maybe Monday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Controlling the Pain"

Yes, that is the title of this piece.  it is quite personal and will never be considered fine art--but it is the right project for me right now.
Yesterday I prepared the background on which I will be adding applique.  It is meant to represent a stylized image of an old west jail cell as viewed through the window--complete with bars.  Of course, the window frame and wall have not yet been added, but this background is machine quilted everywhere that will be without applique and visible.  All of the lines indicating placement of the applique have been machine basted with a light blue thread, as i didn't want to risk any markings either disappearing or becoming permanent during the applique process, which will include using the iron.  I prefer to use a Frixion pen whenever I can.
The next step is to cut out the aplique pieces from a piece of batik, that was specially purchased for the project.  It contains dark burgundy, red, orange, and yellow.  When I was planning ther priject.  I made a master pattern on good paper, then traced it onto tracing paper.  This will be used to confirm placemetn of the appliques as they are added, if necessary.  Then it was traced a third time onto tracing paper again, to crate a pattern that could be cut apart and used to cut the fabric.  As the pieces were cut, they were pinned onto the background in the appropriate place.  As each pattern piece was positioned onto the Batik, it was traced around using the Frixion pen.  As each piece is used, this line ine stitched to create a permanent line for folding the seam allowance under.  This line will not be visible on the front of the finished piece.  The individual pieces were cut from the fabric qnd replaced onto the background immediately so they wouldn't be lost.  Because the design has some pieces that appear to be behind the window bars, care had to be taken to make sure that colour, on both sides of the bar, matched , or appeared to transition in a logical manner--always a challenge with batik.  The first picture below shows the first pieces placed ontothe background.  The second shows all of the pieces, pinned in place, ready for the next step, maybe tomorrow.

Of course, there are scraps of the batik, and already I am seeing, in my mind, another hexie project.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hello again!

Medical issues have consumed my life over the past few months, but now I am coming to the surface again and trying to get back into the studio.

For the past few months I have retreated into my comfort zone and dabbled a bit in traditional quilting, but have produced very little inthe way of more art-y pieces.  To try to get my back into the more demanding world of art quilting, I am --sort of--retracing the steps I  took to get there in the first place.  One piece that stirred my soul several years ago was a tote bag designed by Linda and Laura Kemshell, based on traditional Kantha work out of India.  The original piece I made has long been living in the studio of a friend, so I have decided to doit again but use ing the current fad of Hexies.  I estimate that I will need at least 325-1" Hexies, and probably more.  I am using a stock pile of Japanese influenced taupe-ish fabric that I have in the studio.  So far I have jsut over 200 of them done.  Want to see what 200 1" hexies look like?

The ones over to the left have not yet been pressed or counted.

The second project will involved many, many 3/4" Prairie Points--not sure how many, but my fist batch is 126.  I have chose to use an alternative to the usual method of making them.  Usually you  start with a square, and fold it corner to corner into a triangle and then fold one end in to make a different triangle.  Here is what I'm doing. Start with a 1 1/2" square of fabric.  I have shownit here with a quarter to give an idea of the size.
Fold this in half , into a rectangle and press.
Then fold ione upper corner to the centre of the bottom of the rectangle.  Because i made a mistake and bought a cheaper fabric for the colour, this fabric doe not hold an edge well, and I have had to put a tiny piece of fusible web under the edge to hold it in place. Tthis is the faint shadow you see in the middle of the bottom edge of the rectangle.

Now fold the other upper corner down to meet the first one, and press into place.  Here's what they look like once they are ready to use.  Remember that quarter?  I'll continue to take pictures as the two projects progress.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sale Day!

Yes, the yearly "big sale" was last Friday and Saturday.  Friday was a washout, and Saturday not much better.  We barely made travel expenses, and both ended up exhausted with heat and boredom.

But, I did have time to take a good look at my production over the past year, all grouped in one spot, and was dismayed to see how much my art has regressed.  I appear to have reverted into my comfort zone, producing more and more traditional work.  Far more than half of what I displayed was constructed from commercial fabric  Only two small pieces were painted, and only three hand dyed.

The past year has been a year of many transitions, both personal and artistically.  I have been searching for a niche, trying out various techniques and skills that attracted me, but never settling on any one facet of fibre art.  This has been compounded by the sort of brain fog that comes from chronic pain and analgesics.

Prior to packing for the sale, we culled the work on hand, actually destroying and garbage-ing a fair bit.  Most of this consisted of items that have been taken to sales for several years, and not sold, even when marked down. None of these had any potential for "re-purposing". I have no regrets about this, and am now wondering if we went far enough.

 Once we were packed for the sale, I sat down and developed a "to do" list, which always helps me clear my mind and set priorities, even if I never look again at the list once it's done.  One thing I missed, was a need to get the traditional stuff out of my life.  It is so easy to revert to that comfort zone.  I am even considering getting the commercial fabric out of the studio, so that I go to the had dyes first. It actually sits there and says  "You bought me, now you are obligated to use me".

But, all this being said, I did trade one piece for a lovely painting to hang in my living room.  So the weekend was not a total loss.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Latest work

We are no down to the crunch in preparing for the sale later in the month.  Overall, I have not been able to complete nearly as much as I had hoped, but the sale is the major event of the year for the Eastern Manitoba Artists' Collective, and I want to support the organization.  It is also the one time of the year when we all get together, face-to-face.

Awhile back I wrote about dyeing fabric for a piece inspired by my trip to Cuba in March.  I used a LWI technique to create a fabric of mottled golden yellow, various blues and green, representing the sun, the sky and water, and the foliage.  I had planned to thread paint some Celtic symbols to represent the skin art I had seen.  The symbols turned out less symbolic than I wanted, but I am very pleased with the overall effect.

This amount of concentrated stitching lead to tension problems, despite three layers of stabilizer, as well as the dense batting and layer of backing.  The basic quilting is parallel vertical lines about 1/8" apart.  I still had to use some pretty heavy steam pressing while working on the piece and then had to block it after the work was finished.  It has been very wet and humid here lately, and I hesitate to take it off the blocking board until the weather dries up a bit, so that is the pink Gingham you can see behind it.  It will be bound in the background fabric.

The piece is 24 3/8' by 35 1/2".  The "black" is done with Superior's King Tut in Obsidian, a great cotton thread that is variegated in black, silver and brown, resulting a a wonderful texture, when viewed from close up.

At sales, I like to be able to offer items at a variety of prices.  Earlier this year I bought a pre-cut package of 6" WOF strips of Batik fabrics thinking I was getting a variety of deep reds and burgundies.  Wrong!  It turned out to be more pink, browns and peaches.  I have now made two small, much more traditional appearing hangings, that I will be able  to offer for less than $100.  This is the second one, bound and ready for hand finishing.  It is what it is.
Now, I have to get ready to make a few much smaller and less expensive items, that I am able to produce assembly-line style.  Would you believe that I actually have an order for Coffee Cuffs?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mixed Media Explorations

Over the past few weeks, I have been playing with mixed media.  Mixed |Media techniques have always been a part of my work as an art quilter, but now I am able to view the whole thing as a continuum, from pure textile work such as hand embroidery, through quilt making onto painting fabric, adding embellishments and working into doing exactly the same things on paper, board, and canvas, slowly progressing to the point of using pure paint.  I have been very surprised to find that artists who have begun their journey at the other end of the continuum as just as fascinated with the mixed media techniques as we fibre people.

Being sure that I was entering the field of mixed media as a neophyte, my first step--of course--was to sign up for a class.  While waiting for class day, I ended up in a discussion, with a group of painters, about--of all things--artists trading cards (ATC's).  This lead to the realization that I probably have more experience than most of them with mixed media techniques.  Then came class day where the techniques were much closer to painting than fibre, along the continuum.  But I still knew enough to feel quite comfortable amongst the group of painters.

This has been a major epiphany for me.  I really don't need to feel like a poor relation when I associate with other artists.  I have something to contribute!

The end result is that I have been asked to lead a "Play Day" in Mixed Media Techniques.  Several of the people who have signed up for this are artists whose work I have admired for years.  Boy!  I better get my act together in a hurry!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Back to normal--sort of.....

In April, when I was working on FMQ'g,  two problems came up with my Horizon 7700.  First of all, somehow (??), the Titanium needle hit my open-toed free motion foot and bent it right out of shape,  bent but didn't break the needle as well.  Scared the heck out of me and , not taking any chances, I took the machine into the shop.  Talking to the fellow, I mentioned another problem I had been having with a "grating" noise after the machine gets warmed up.  Checking it out, he determined that a spring, which controls the bar that maintains the position of the bobbin holder, was missing.  This very tiny spring was nowhere to be found, which meant there was no part number, and it took a while for  him to determine that there wasn't one available in North America.  Finally, after almost two months, the part came in and I got my machine back on Wednesday.

 I had some prep. work to do before I could set it up and check the FMQ'g, which I started to do this morning.  Discovered that in all the fuss about the missing spring, we hadn't arranged to replace the badly bent FMQ'g foot.  When I called about it, I was told that the open-toed foot is not a normal part, and only available as part of the machine purchase package, but they would have to try to order one from the factory, but couldn't guarantee that they would be able to get one. ( ?Another two months for a maybe??)  Checking somewhere, she found that it is sold only as part of a four piece FMQ'g package, priced at $62.00+tax.

Now, I have been FMQ'g for many, many years.  I taught myself on a very old flat-deck Kenmore.  Always, I have coveted the open-toed FMQ'g foot, but it has never been available, to me, until I received one as part of the package when I bought the 7700.  For thread painting and the very detailed whole-cloth FMQ'g I do, I consider it essential. I bought the damn thing.  Thank Goodness for plastic money.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Here it is, and I am pleased, not because I think it's great art, but because I finally think I'm finding my groove again.

It has been a couple of years since I last attempted a Tyvek piece, and almost as long since I did any serious beading.  This piece also uses hand painted fabric, which was the first fabric painting in almost a year.  The cabochon is a piece of fused glass that I had originally commissioned from a local glass worker, June Derksen, for another piece.  That piece is still around but has suffered some problems and has been re-purposed, to a certain extent.  I'm not really sure how it will end up.  But the cabochon works quite nicely here.  This piece will be mounted and framed in a dark wooden frame-not yet finished.

I am so very glad this turned out so well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Tyvek piece

This month the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge involves the use of the colour purple.  The first thing I attempted went South quite quickly, so I had to find another idea.  Since I may be teaching a Tyvek technique fairly soon, I decided to use Tyvek, to refresh my skills.

First step was to alter the Tyvek with heat, and then paint, both the fabric and altered of altered Tyvek.

Tyvek was a mailing envelope that I cut open and cut off any areas where there was more than one layer.  There was some printing on it but I made that the wrong side without any problems.  People seem pretty well evenly divided about whether to paint first or alter first.  I alter first and do so with an embellishing gun.  This gives me more control, but uses enough heat (350 degrees F) that the job is done in a fair period of time.  A heat gun at either low( 250 degrees) or high  (450 degrees) is either too slow or too fast.  An iron does the job very quickly and is almost impossible to control as you cannot see what is happening under the iron.  It also flattens the "bumps", something I don't want.

The fabric was painted with Parma Purple Seta-Color Fabric paint.  Since I wanted an analogous color scheme I used the purple, plus the same brand of paint in both Fuschia and Cobalt Blue for the Tyvek, all three very watered down so that the paint would flow nicely over the "bumps" of the Tyvek.  As the Tyvek dried, I used a sort of dry brush technique to add Lumiere True Gold.  I had tried a bit of Lumiere Halo Purple and Lumiere Turquoise pearl as well but just around the edge and wasn't happy with either.

As you can see the fabric dried with  both light and dark areas.  When I turned it over it, the colour was much darker but showed a bunch of parallel lines from the Coroplast I used to dry it on.  I sort of liked that and it became the right side.  This gave me an idea of how to quilt the background of the piece, as well.  The True Gold on the Tyvek was too strong for me, and the Halo purple stunning, so this morning, with the piece completely dry, I went over all of the True Gold with the Halo gold.  Much better.

Then to start thinking about beads.  I had several pieces of fused glass, that I had commissioned from a local glass worker, June Derksen.  They had been for another piece that did not work out at all, but the shape and colour worked well for this.  Yes, they are a very deep purple.  

I selected the one on the right for this piece.  By this afternoon, the background had been quilted in parallel lines, and the Tyvek had been shaped and applied to the background.  The fused glass attached to the background, and large selection of other beads assembled for attaching by hand. Guess I better get to work, as I'm supposed to post a picture to the Challenge site by May 31st.

Friday, May 16, 2014


while all of the dyeing mentioned in the last two posts has been batching, I have been working on a small wall hanging.  My original vision was of a pieced background in burgundy and dark green (very low value difference), with gold hand embroidery on the front.  Well, by the time I had sorted out all of the fabric and played with the colour and value, the piece ended up in peaches and celery.

 And a close-up below which better shows the subtle colour variation in the pieced areas.

There is still a good variety of the fabrics I bought to work with in my original design, and my mind is suggesting that this may be the beginning of a series devoted to spirals and maybe triple spirals.  Although, the spirals in this were a bugger to make and applique.  Still it would be a technical challenge, and I maybe need one of those right now.

One more piece of dyeing

After the previous dyeing, I managed one more piece, but not without problems.  This is a huge piece of fabric,  I have had to fold it in half to get it on the flannel wall for the picture.  I started with a LWI bath using burgundy and brick Procion MX dyes.  The result was a pale orange with lots of white areas and a few darker spots, which I didn't like, so I used a normal dye bath of brick, with a higher concentration of dye.  this covered the white spots but still left the piece much lighter than I wanted.  I am usually pretty cheap with the dye, so I made a high concentration of burgundy dye and put it though another dye bath, letting it batch for almost 36 hours.  Here are both sides of the piece.  Not as dark as I would have liked, and not usable for the design I had in mind.  So I guess I'll have to come up with a different design.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The muse is stirring----

Must be spring.  I am starting to get some ideas.  And- I'm slowly finding the ambition to do something about them.

I've wanted to do something to serve as a memory of my trip to Cuba last March, but not something traditional or similar to any other memory of Cuba.  I have an idea, but it needed a special fabric, one that was without any realistic shape or form.  This meant that it would have to be hand dyed.  So using a Low Water Immersion (LWI) technique I actually started a dye bath--the first one in months.

I am quite pleased with the result and finished with enough fabric for the front, back, and binding of a nice size wall hanging.  I chose a deep yellow and medium blue for the dye.  My hope was that I would end up with some yellow to represent the sun, blue to represent the water and sky, and green to represent the glorious foliage.

At first I thought this might be a little dark for what I have in mind, so tried another dye bath of deep yellow and brick.  Nope, not what I wanted at all, and it was too small for more than maybe the front and binding.

But the funny thing about dye baths is that one always leads to another, so I did two more.  Staying with the brick coloured dye, I wanted to find out what the result would be if I used both brick and slate blue.

I am well pleased with this piece as well, although the brick colour, despite being added to the dye bath first, has all but disappeared during the dyeing process.

So there had to be a fourth dye bath, this time with brick and dark green.  Now these two dyes are close enough that one has to worry about complements cancelling each other out and ending up with mud. But happily this was minimal, although the brick was very much muted.  I think this may be my favourite of them all.

My process was fairly relaxed.  I try to never get too obsessive about my dyeing, preferring to be challenged by serendipity.  This may be why my favourite process is LWI.  For the first time, I soaked my fabric in soda ash before hand, and added it to the vessel wet.  Many years ago, when I took my first dyeing course, we were taught to immerse the dry fabric in the dye and then add the soda ash--dissolved in hot water-- about 20 minutes later.  I don't think the different process made any difference to the final result, although there may be fewer sharp edges to the colour changes with using wet fabric.  

Yep, gonna do some more!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recent efforts

Since my Muse still appears to be out of the country, I have been following the advice of others and working on "something" even if it isn't original or even "arty".  I have been trying to find a way of producing plump, well-rounded feathers.  In the recent past, I have done some machine Trapunto, and not been really satisfied with the result, although the technique works fairly well.  I spend  a lot of time checking out quilt related blogs on the internet and in one, found the suggestion that working with two layers of Hobbs 80/20 batting can produce a nicely rounded feather.  This is what I have done here.  This top was pieced, including the mitred corners, of which I am quite proud.  I haven't attempted a mitred corner in at least 10 years

The only problem with using two layers of batting is that it results in a fairly heavy quilt.  This quilt is only about 42" square.  If it was larger, it might prove too heavy for actual use--not that I ever expect this to be used!
In my "arty" pieces, I usually add a false back to hide the intense quilting and hand stitching.  I have experienced some tension problems with my Horizon 7700, in the past, and while I can control this, to a certain extent,  the backs are not as good as I would like them to be.  In this quilt, the back is quite fine.  I backed the piece with a cotton sateen and quite like the effect.

The final binding will be in the green pin-dot, and I will post a picture when I finally get that done.

I am linking this with Nina Marie Sayre's blog

Monday, March 31, 2014

Small validations

I have mentioned over the last while that I was working on table runners that would be offered for sale at the recent quilt show.  These are a new product, so I only made six of them, just to see if there might be a market for them.  Well, 4 of the 6 sold.  I know that two sold to people who follow my work and that was wonderful, but I have no idea who might have purchased the other two.  Regardless, 66% of what was offered found a new home, which tells me that this new skill area, that I have never before offered for sale, has possibilities.

My two excursions to the quilt show were gratifying in another way.  Trudging around with my walker, with DH along for the ride, I was constantly stopped by people whom I have not seen over the past two years ( I  have found Guild meetings difficult to attend for a number of reasons, one of which is that it is just too big and too busy and too noisy for this old lady).  I had many very nice conversations, touched base with several old friends, and even ran into a woman I used to work with, and very much enjoyed catching up with things at the old job.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Today was the day

In my previous post, I mentioned saving money to buy thread at a local quilt show.  Yes, today was the day.  DH and I planned the excursion carefully.  We decided on a time of day that we thought would be less busy ( we were wrong!).  We took cash, as well as a back up credit card with just enough room on it to keep us in budget.  Knowing that there would be crowds and lots of walking and standing, we hauled out the old wheeled walker so that I could sit, if necessary.

The first booth we came to was the thread vendor I was looking for--Cotton Mill Threadworks, out of Dundas ON. I bought what I wanted.  This is not to say that I went berserk.  I had an idea of what thread I was looking for, but didn't necessarily have a colour in mind.  I also had the requirements for a couple of projects at the back of my mind.
Does this look like over $300.00?  Well, it represents $302.75.  

Now I have to find another excuse to not be busy in the studio.  But, to be fair, all of these are specialty threads, and most of the cones hold more than 2000 yds.  And there are three packages of titanium coated needles there as well.  My hope is that this will last me until the next quilt show in two years time.

Twice before in my life, I have had a somewhat similar experience.  Both times came after receiving an inheritance.  When you read advice to people who come into money, they are always told to take a little bit of it and do something frivolous.  Well, this wasn't "found" money, I worked hard for every bit of it, and then I enjoyed every minute of spending it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hello Again

As you might guess, nothing in the blog means no action in the studio.  Health issues have really been at the for front over the past month or so, and studio time has been quite limited.  A basement studio isn't readily accessible when stairs are difficult.  And some of the drugs seem to suck the creativity right out of your soul.

But--experts say that when the Muse is on vacation, do something.  Sort fabric, paint or dye fabric, or just tidy the studio--but do something.  On those days when I can get into the studio, I can sit and piece scraps just fine--especially when DH is willing to do some cutting for me.  ( I think he just wants me to get into the studio and out of his hair, so is willing to facilitate)

In December, I made a bit of money selling my art.  I have saved it for two things.  Firstly, to pay a long armer to quilt the scrappy tops I have been making, and secondly, to buy good thread at the upcoming quilt show in my area.  I got two of the quilts back this week.

The first one has been waiting almost two years to be quilted.  The colour, in the photograph, is poor, as there is not a lot of value difference in the quilt, and the colours are relatively pastel, and all of a similar hue.  I have no idea what the pattern is, as it is a block I was given at a gathering quite some time ago.  I plan to use it one the bed in the spare room--if I can convince DH to let me remove the Cat Quilt that has been on there for about 15 years. The quilting is a very curvy pantograph, done in a pale green

The next one was developed as part of an informal quilt group I attend at my local senior's Centre.  One of the ladies was having difficulty with value and colour, so we looked for a pattern that didn't worry about either.  It is a very traditional 16 patch, which looks wonderful sashed with black.  The quilting is swirling free motion design, and done in a fairly dark grey.

The last one is the most recent, and is not yet fully pieced.  I had made twelve blocks when experimenting with a "Mile-a'Minute" piecing technique, and finally put them together with a dark brown sashing.  I love the colour blending.  I had hoped to be able to quilt this myself, but we'll wait and see how much money is left after I buy thread, at the end of the month.

I have now started piecing yet another one, this time in more "Modern" colours. I.E. very bright pure colours with large stretches of white or grey background.  I had been collecting fat quarters of "Modern" fabrics since last fall and only now had a chance to use them.  This is another pattern found on the internet, with no identified creator, so no way to give credit.  Since I do not plan to exhibit or sell it, I am comfortable with that.  While all of the cutting is done, I only have two blocks pieced out of 24, so you'll have to wait for a picture.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Where have I been?

Yes,it's been quite awhile.  I have been working on one main project since early December.  It is supposed to be a secret, but I'm not sure anyone is reading this anyway.  My small fibre art support group has issued a challenge.  We are to make "something", incorporating Celtic imagery or Symbols.

I decided to make another reliquary.  I haven't done one in a few years, I had all of the supplies on hand, and had been hoping to re-visit some of the techniques I have used over the years.  I re-read the book  Beginners' Guide to Embroidered Boxes"  by Janet Edmonds, as I have found many of her techniques useful over the years, but be assured, that the patterns and designs are my own.  I selected purple from my supply of Duippionni silk, given its symbolic use for richness, and power, and gold as the complement, for the same reason.

 An internet search of "Celtic Crosses" gave me some ideas on my decoration. The consistent image of the Celtic Cross is the circle behind a cross, in which the arms become large as you move away from the centre. An open circle or rounded square can represent the rune for God, and the oldest known religious image--the triple spiral, is found on Celtic tombs.  I have always tried to incorporate some form of spiral in my recent work, so this works well.

The circles and crosses were worked separately,and appliqued.  I used Flexi-Firm, which is quite similar in feel and use, as Timtex.  This is about 1/8" thick, so shapes must be cut out before painting, in order to colour the edges.  I used Lumiere True Gold paint, but from an older bottle.  It was quite thick and had to be diluted with a bit of water.  Once the painted pieces had dried, I noticed that there were areas that hadn't been adequately covered by the paint.  When re-painting, I realized that the diluted paint has sealed the surface, somewhat, and the second layer of paint didn't sink in, so was richer, resulting in a much more antique look, that I quite liked.

As much of thew work as possible was done by machine.  Quite a workout for the machine, but also a chance to use some of those fancy stitches.  I was worried about the top metallic thread fraying terribly  when doing the applique,but a strong Titanium coated, #90, top stitch needle did the work quite nicely.

So everything was done, about  60 hours of intense labour,  and yesterday, I was ready to finally stitch it all together. Well, despite constant measuring during the process, THE BASE DIDN'T FIT THE TOP!!

Well lots of tears and bad words--some with four letters--I tackled it again this morning, and now have all of the pieces fitting properly.  The rest of the work is by hand,and will be a slow process, but I can give you a preview.  I really can't reveal the finished product until the challenge is presented to the group February 3rd.