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.