Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sigh of Relief

The small purses are finished.  I've had a chance to look at other small purses on the internet, and I'm really impressed with the quality of workmanship that I'm seeing.  I wish I was that good.  Once the alligators that are currently circling, (and probably will be for a few days) disappear, I think I'll look into this further.  The other side of that is that the internet purses I'm seeing may be original designs, ( I have no way of knowing), but 'm only seeing commercial fabric.  So mine remain unique in that I'm using fabric that I've created.  I also need to investigate the internet selling sites that so many vendors seem to use.

Those alligators were delivered by the classes I'm teaching over the next couple of weeks, all of which had to be totally revised and new samples made (My health issues have meant no teaching in over a year.  Add to that a request for a professional resume, including pictures.  Six months ago this wouldn't have been a problem, but with my computer crash this spring, I lost my Photo Shop Elements program, and haven't been able to replace it.  I may be able to use the photo manipulation program that came with the new computer, but that will involve a learning curve, as well as new photos--and the resume is wanted asap!

While all of this may appear to be a fairly minor problem, I'm wrestling with the question of whether I really want to resume teaching or not.  I'm not even sure I'm capable of teaching any more, as my skills have suffered along with my health, but on the plus side, I know that my knowledge base is intact.  And the extra income wouldn't hurt.

Meanwhile the reliquary is still sitting on my work table demanding attention--and rightfully so!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Progress de-railed

Circumstances have forced me to put the reliquary aside for awhile.  I am committed to a show/sale in mid-April, and managed to sell a great deal of my stock, quite unexpectedly.  This meant a rush replacement.  Time was spent producing a series of 20 mono-prints, which I then turned into small purses.  The body of the purse is FMQ'd, sometimes quite intricately.  While it's really a great creative exercise, it's also a chance to practice my FMQ'g.  A couple of the mono-prints just didn't work out, but the rest are now put together and ready for hand finishing.  Some had additional screen printing or some stamping added to improve the design..

Here they are lined up, waiting for their turns under the needle.  While there are only 15 here, four more are hidden under the table, having been hand stitched, and now waiting for a small, coordinating tassel to be made, and added to their zipper pulls.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Moving along

The reliquary is progressing nicely. Given the problems with my hands, I've made use of both fusible web and glue, but now I'm down to the "nitty-gritty", and am being forced to pace my work to accommodate hand function.  Everything except the straw beads has been attached.  I'm in the process of beading in the black machine design on the upper edge of the box itself and the roof pieces.  The hinge is made, and the doweling that will be used within the hinge has been cut and finials selected.  My DH found some larger finials that will work well as feet, and all of those wooden pieces are in his shop being finished, with a clear glaze.  Once the beading is finished and the straw beads attached, all that's left is lining and stitching it together in the final box shape.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Shopping trip

I rarely shop for supplies these days, and now find I'm really out of the loop in terms of local shops.  My "go to" LQS and machine repair depot has moved.  Don't know where, and not too worried about it right now.  My objective was some long black bugle beads for the reliquary.  So I first stopped in the bead store closest to home, and was blown away by the changes I saw in the shop--positive changes in my opinion.  Talking to the clerk I was very surprised to find out that she had taken the store over two years ago.  Two years!  Where have I been?

While we were talking, a fairly new LQS came up, and I was told that this one has moved as well.  I had been in when she first opened, and even bought some stuff from her.  An old friend had owned an embroidery store for a number of years, and I had followed her journey from being a little hole in the wall, to being the "go to" store for a large area, and even an influence across the whole country.  A long and sometimes quite difficult journey, so I knew what this newbie quilt store owner faced.  Well--she is doing quite well and has just moved into larger quarters.  Not only is she selling the type of the fabric that I would have been interested in at the LQS that has moved --somewhere, but she is in the process of renovating the area to include a fabric dyeing area.  OMG!!  She is also bringing in a high profile teacher.  Way to go!

While I'm not into craft or art sales right now, I did still have some stock left.  Two friends talked me into signing up for a local art show, and taking this stuff in, in hopes of getting rid of it.  So I paid my fee.  Last Wednesday my local fibre art support group--The Fibre Art Divas--met at my house.  We each talk about what we're doing so I mentioned taking some "junk" to a sale.  They asked further, and I ended up showing them what I had, and they bought more than half of it--not what I had expected at all!  So I'm now in the position of having to produce some more "junk" for the sale or loose all of the fees I paid.  I decided that the small purses I make, out of mono-prints that don't work for anything else, would be the quickest and easiest thing.  Today I pulled 15 prints, and found two pieces of hand dye that could be used without too much further embellishment. I have two weeks to finish them.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Add-ons ready

While I still haven't finished the hand embroidery, the add-ons are ready to go.  Eleven wrapped circles, and 28 fabric-wrapped straw beads in three different sizes.  In previous projects, the beads have been wrapped with various decorative yarns before using--a great way to use up bits of yarn--but I decided to attached them with embroidery in black and red thread instead.

Here they are laid out on the piece, but not yet attached, mainly because I'm not sure how to do it --yet.  I also need to finish the embroidery, and having laid them out, I see a couple of places where I need to add extra embroidery--likely by machine--before I put the beads on.  I'm also considering adding a puffy section of gold printed organza in the center of the circles.  I've used this on other pieces and like the effect.

Here is a close-up of the front and back complete with roof sections.  I was going to attach two fabric decorated straw beads on top of the closure, but, unfortunately the ones I've made are slightly too long.  I either have to make new ones, or come up with an alternative.

I'm wanting to put black bugle beads between the lines of embroidery, but I'm not sure I have any long ones, or, if I do, I may not have enough.  This means a search through the bead cupboard--an intimidating proposition.  Sometimes I think it would be easier to go out and buy more instead of mounting a lengthy search.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hand work--Ugh!

The project has reached the point where I have to start the hand work.  This is difficult for my elderly, arthritic hands, even though it was my first love.  Yes, I was a stitcher long before I became a serious quilter, and now that most of my work is original, I find that everything I've learned up until now can come into play with just about any project I start.  Having said that, I also make every effort to do as much as possible on the machine.

The circles have been painted.  I used Seta Color, in Orient Red.  I usually immerse things like this in a paint bath and leave them until they are wet all the way through.  I have a couple of special drying racks--square wooden frames covered with plastic window screening--where I can lay things out over a sheet of plastic, so the air gets at them from both sides.  When I checked them this morning, I was concerned that they weren't substantial enough to be wrapped, but DH suggested I try it out, and I think they're going to be fine.

My plan is to wrap them in the special gold, red and black knitting yarn I spoke of, and I think it's going to work very well.  You can see the first one done in the next photo. ( Not attached, just wrapped)

I've also started the hand stitching.  The lines are first done with Kreinik metallic medium braid in colour # 332.  Then I wrap #5 perle cotton in DMC colour # 815, around the metallic braid.. Finally, I couch the wrapped strand down with Kreinik silk couching thread.  The stitching on the detached lid portion is done, but I may or may not add more.  Certainly there are going to be beads.  The main body of the piece is just started. 

Because my hands need to rest frequently, progress will be slowing down, in the next while, and I may not have anything to post on a daily basis.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Still making decisions

A few decisions have been made, but these always lead to more.  As I'm working, I realize that the hand made beads are going to work so well, that I have to make more.  That's done.  As part of my thinking process, I spent some time going through the "junk" that I have stored in the basement.  Specifically, I was looking for anything in a cherry red that might possible be used. A normal part of my process is to gather anything that might have a remote possibility of being used and then wean the collection down slowly, as I work.  I found several threads, some ribbon, and one treasure.  A ball of knitting yarn in gold, black and cherry red.  As soon as I saw it, most of the design came together in my head.  Now to see if it will actually work.

So, it became obvious that some sort of basic shape will be needed to anchor the thread work.  An open circle has served me well in the past.  These anchors are often made from two layers of heavy duty, fusible interfacing, fused back to back and then cut into shapes.  This works as long as I can use the rotary cutter, but more complex shapes have to be cut by hand, and my elderly, arthritic hands are no longer capable of this.  But I can cut a single layer, so cut twice as many as I need and then fuse them after cutting.  More about these later.

Here we have the the flat quilted shape, with cream silk fused, and a grid sewn over,  in black polyester embroidery thread, ( a bit of shine) both to hold it on and provide a bit of colour

A row of black and gold trim has been sewn to the bottom of the basic box, as well as the lower edge of the roof pieces.

The hook and loop tape closure has been added to the side of the roof that will act as a lid.  And you can see the open circles being cut out.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Another day's work

There comes a time, in every project, when irrevocable decisions have to be made.  Sometimes ideas need to percolate for awhile.  I did know that hand made beads were going to be part of it, so, even though they won't be used until later in the process, they have been put together.

First plastic drinking straws are cut to the appropriate length.  

 Then, using a glue stick, pieces of gold silk were used to cover the length of straw.  These had to dry.

Then metal leaf adhesive was brushed onto the silk, and allowed to dry.

And finally, gold leaf was rubbed onto each bead

But other decisions needed to be made.  Traditionally, reliquaries are very colourful.  There was no such thing as "over the top" when they were first created!  lol  But my personal palette tends toward monochromatic.  Still, this piece needs colour and value or it will be very "blah".   Bright scarlet and deep burgundy were both considered,  White was thought to be to stark, so a light cream was selected, as well as black, gold, and cherry red, as an accent.  But I know I will have to fight with myself to use the colours and not keep reverting to the mono-chromatic colour scheme my heart prefers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New Project

The reliquaries are calling to me, so I've decided to make a new one and document the process.  The inspiration for these came from . the book, "Beginners Guide to Embroidered Boxes" by Janet Edmonds.  This book was almost an epiphany for me, and I am so appreciative of her sharing her tried and true techniques for producing these little beauties.   I very much respect her creativity, and have tried to make a point of drafting my own patterns and designs, rather than copying any of her creative ideas, even while adopting many of the techniques described in the book.

A couple of years ago I was able to purchase some yardage of Duppioni silk, with the intent of turning it into reliquaries.  From the three pieces, I chose the one that would lend itself to embellishment based on a rich gold colour.  Then I drafted a pattern.  Based on the pattern size, I prepared the basic quilted fabric.  this is a top layer of the silk, an layer of heavy interfacing, and a layer of felt.  I quilt every half inch in one direction, and then every half inch at a 45 degree angle.  Most of this stitching is hidden under the embellishment, and won't show on the finished piece, but I still chose a coordinating thread--Superior Fantastico, colour # 5001.

 Then the pattern is laid out and cut.
This leaves me with a lot of machine quilted fabric, that I hate to just throw out.  One of my favourite creative exercises is figuring out how to use these remnents.  I'll think of something.