Back in August I had a giveaway of a couple of test pieces done with what I can only describe as the direct print method. I've added a new page called "A little piece of my Art" (there's a link on the side bar too) and I'll be adding new items as time goes on.
It's a pretty simple and I encourage other fiber artists to give it a go. Put the work right side down on the (recently cleaned) glass of a high quality, color printer first, making sure the piece is absolutely spotless or you'll be marveling over images of cooties, lint and pet hair. Take your StickyBuddy with you to the copy joint.
(The staffer at my local Fedex/Kinkos was a great help steering me to the "queen" of her machines once I explained my purpose to her.)
I pulled a test print on plain paper to make sure of the color quality and then used a card stock weight semi-gloss finished paper for the actual prints.
The level of detail captured this way cannot be reproduced digitally. The hardest part is the cropping. With only an 11x17 inch print surface it's tricky to position the work on the glass deciding what to keep in the frame and what's to be left waiting in the wings.
I just brought all my houseplants in from the deck where they have been flourishing all summer. There's no freeze in the works but why risk it. It's cold, windy and damp for the first time in memory - a perfect day to spend curled up in the chair stitching with good company and a fun movie on. I'm staying with the challenge of combining hand and machine stitching on this large piece.
Yesterday I finished off a single sized quilt...no batting but a pieced top backed with an old flannel blanket. Once it was done I realized that it looked like an old flannel blanket back there so I put the whole thing into the washer with some navy/intense/boysenberry dye, let it stew til cold and then soda ash into the second go round..that's it folded up on the table..in the background, bits and pieces for another pieced top, gathering forces.
The reason behind this frenzy of organizational activity, you ask? Aside from not being able to turn around or find anything, A gift! A boon!
A box arrived the other day with 33 pounds of fibrous glory inside - a trove of premium commercial cotton prints from my dear St.A.
She buys the cloth for the love of it and commands me to be creative...mission accepted my friend!
I hardly know where to start but the beautiful collections from Japan are already set aside in the "do not touch...yet" pile and you know I'll have to start pulling the strings on those little bundles of batik fat quarters just to see what I have been missing.
I've covered the shelves with bits and lengths of heavy vinyl wallpaper that was rescued from some restaurant renovation years ago. It's interesting stuff but I never had enough of it to make sense of the pattern. So very functional - I came close to chucking the whole many times and now I'm so glad I didn't.
The floor! the floor! I can see it! a beautiful dark navy blue carpeting..badly in need of a thorough vacuuming!
That dark pile in the foreground is the cloth I dyed yesterday..but for one span of ocean blue, all murky and in need of further work.
Time to test drive that new FM foot that arrived the other day.
TADA! tomorrow I'll cover the wood with a layer of this slickey restaurant wallpaper that fell into my clutches and then get everything loaded back up..
OR I could hang out the Opium Den sign and rent out the shelves to four dragon-chasers...just close the doors and turn off the lights. Can you tell by the crazy that it's FRIDAY!?!!
I have a squadron of flags stewing in the dye - everything bagged up on black plastic to take advantage of the sun's heat and earlier, buzzed around a the print joint this morning and took about 20 Fabulous (if I must say so myself) prints of the pieces that just came home from the latest show..I'll scan a few and drop them into the store later.
Now, it's off to the Whine & CYA mine for the afternoon.
When I read Robert Genn's newsletter this morning I realized that I have been doing my own version of the Pomodoro time management technique all week, without the windup tomato time.
The studio has been in turmoil as I am finally getting proper shelves set into the closet. Everything that was stacked so precariously (and impractically) in the closet is piled all over the studio with barely a footpath for my Goodman to work. It will be finished today!
My own dayjob has had me on early starts all week leaving precious little time for anything else. The weather has been glorious all week so I have been grabbing the River basket and skipping out with this piece to the park. I make camp at a picnic table by the pond and, with no phone calls, no music, no books on Ipod, no TV in the background - just focusing on stitching for a full hour. Why does that small chunk of time seem so remarkable? When did I let my day get eaten up by stuff that doesn't pay off??
This mornings precious free time is going to a quick and dirty dye session - today the temps are supposed to scratch at 78 but will plunge to the low sixties tomorrow. This is really it and I want it for my own.
A good friend has reminded me to keep pushing my art - reaching beyond my comfort zone. Thanks for the prod St. A.
Here's another of the three pieces that I had to keep under wraps all these months.
"Jazz Takes Over" is 41x40 and was the middle piece in a progression of work moving from all hand stitched to completely machine stitched. This piece is the crossover or hybrid and a jumping off point for all of the things I have in progress right now. It was a lot of fun in the making. This post title was one suggestion from my in-house critic for a title..it was hard to deny him.
It was such a great weekend that I plan to wrap myself in the good feelings and fly them into the next five days. We cooked (chili and home made chicken noodle soup) enough that no one has to monkey around in the kitchen much for a few days. A little laundry and vacuuming out of the way early and I'm already thinking nap.
There was a little picking up (in preparation for the new closet shelves that I have been putting off) which revealed that I four large works in progress and at least two on the mind-shelf.And last night I somehow convinced myself that I needed to make a calavera since it's been that kind of year.
I spent 20 minutes organizing these in the basket in order so I could buy some replacements from the web without doubling up. I looked down after staring at the computer screen to catch this performance.
I got an early start again today and was alone in the house for most of the morning. Anyone who does free-motion quilting will know that you can become quite oblivious to anything other than sewing your fingers to the piece. (If I do not find a proper FMQ foot for this Janome I'm going to freak). Stitching loosely woven cloth like damask is pesky as hell. The cloth will do every thing in it's power to avoid the needle.
I had stopped sewing to replace an empty bobbin when a hairy paw reached through the harp followed by it's body (who barely made the squeeze) .
Sweetie insisted it was time to stop that noise and do something else with my day. A split second after this shot, I got the gentle face-bite.
All this closet digging and retrospection had me asking myself about all the large, machine stitched pieces I was so focused on five years ago - what was the draw?
I made a point of NOT taking peek back at those pieces and just set about this one before the sun was really up this morning. It's about 5 feet wide and will go under the needle tomorrow with out too much further ado.
then I went looking and found Roadkill from '08 and remembered why.
I was out and about yesterday re-celebrating my birthday with my buddy Janice. We scared them at I-Hop, pillaged the 50% off goods at the Salvation Army (great cloth scores!) and then caught a mid day showing of "Looper" - my idea of a great day on the town!
It's not often that I am lost for words when it comes to a film. I like this one so much that I need to see it again.
Going to the movies in the middle of the day has a way of taking me out of time.
This morning I pulled a box out of the closet and packed it off to NY. Most of the pieces were from 2005. It's weird to think they've never been in public before. I wish them luck.
I got this one finished by midmorning and gave it a hot water machine thrash and dry to test the fleece as batting. Very nice result..it has that "been loved and dragged around lots" look to it. Packing it off to Kara tomorrow. Thre are sixteen more blocks waiting to be organized.
Late morning I got outside on the dyedeck to soak up some vitamin D...the sun was blazing but the air was cool and dry..a rare day in Georgia. I was out there so long a group of vultures were circling overhead.
The pool is well on it's way to swampland..these colors are just a little bit lurid. My camera has a "foliage" setting but I wonder on what planet?
this was the only piece that held my interest while I was working on it (I really was absorbed by Elizabeth's machinations with calculator and scale, full on mad scientist stuff!) and now I can't find it in the batch that's come out of the washer and dryer. For all I know it washed away entirely if the rest of the pieces are any measure of the lack of success. Although that dark was EB's Havana brown...ice chips in the dye is not conducive to strong colors, my guess. I think this one needs to be painted on a canvas. *
My dyes were really played out and just didn't hang on leaving me with a batch of lovely pastel princesses with superwhite where the soy wax was dug in like a tick.
here are a few of them playing around on the design wall..this is going nowhere in a handbasket...
new eyes in the morning.The fun was in the doing.
*flash update! EB found it in a bag and will be sending it off to me when it's dry!!
Great doings for my birthday! Jimmy took me out for a birthday lunch on Saturday so I could spend all day Sunday torturing cloth with Elizabeth Barton at her studio.
Using up our leftover dyes in this way has become an annual event which I wouldn't miss.
Here she is at the magic dye isolation chamber, measuring and mixing dye powder while keeping all of our lungs intact and functioning. Her experiments for the day where about comparing two different yellows from Prochem and included weighing the dye powder and cloth with an electronic scale in an actual stab at following the dye manufacturer's instructions. Lo and behold...they were not just making those inserts up. See her results!
From the other side of the brain, I was direct dye painting on cloth that already had soy wax applied but no soda ash. That didn't happen until this morning. Don't get too excited - you know how jazzy wet dye can dissappoint especially when it's several months old and has not been stored under optimal conditions. Everything is in the washing machine right now..now pictures until they are dry and ironed.
This is where you'll find me most sunny mornings at this time of year. It's a great way to mind the time when the sun gets up and the direct like goes away, it's time to rest my hands and eyes and move on to something else.
We are off to scout pumpkins, doughnuts and cider.
In the meantime...get delightfully lost in the Hermitage.
After spending 45 minutes putting those pieced purple blocks together on the machine, it was nice to sit in the sewing chair and be with the sun for an hour. Good to get back to stitching.
There is more than a measure of peace in the making and this one is going to be a long time in the process..I will be dragging it out for my own pleasure.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Karma sleeping in the river grass basket. I knew it wasn't her of course, but even the imagined shadow was a comfort. Those pieces of black and white cloth are calling me.
it's kind of nice to walk into the studio and know what must be done.
I lost my cellphone yesterday - it's been turning itself off, going silent - and was ultimately found asleep in the bottom of a basket of scraps. so sensible.
I was on my way to a friend's studio for a day of running amok with dye and cloth when my faithful green pony finally succumbed to the leaky radiator that I have been ignoring for a couple of months.
We'll try again later in the month..in the meantime I've gotten two large pieces stabilized and started stitching on this one. Twice I stitched for an hour and twice I picked it all out unhappy with the results. I think I need to sit with a book for while and remind myself of all that be done with needle and thread.
Well, at least the waiting is over and I can get back to "normal" life.
None of the three pieces that I worked on most of this year and submitted were juried into Quilt National13 and slap me hard if I put myself through that again. Talk about taking the joy of the process. Now I am free to follow through with updating my website and posting the work I've had to keep under wraps all these months. Can anyone tell me it's worth it?
I passed on two opportunities to exhibit these locally and wonder if I made a huge mistake. This is really not sour grapes just a personal assessment of cost vs. value. I wonder how many artists have come to the same conclusion? All input is welcome.
and sincere and hearty congratulations to the hardy souls who made the cut!!
I'm putting the rest of the dye equipment away for the season. The poly blankets are rinsed clean and dry. I can't bring myself to throw away this ironstone platter and will try one more time to mend it somehow. It's so big and heavy and the break so unbalanced that, so far, no glue has been strong enough. I'm willing to go the duct tape route if I can find white. It's been a good, useful friend.
I took the current utility quilt outside to see just how many chips I'd made and what the overall size would be. Enought by far!
Now the trick is to sash them up and/or whack away with the rotary cutter until they are all the same dimensions. Then comes the layout to please the eye and finally, the sandwiching and machine quilting. I am fresh out of purple!
The Braves have lost the wild card game, Chipper got a clutch hit one more time but our season is over. I won't go into the gross controversy because it will be in the news tomorrow and you'll be sick of it. I already am.
Time to turn the hourglass over and let the sands run until opening day next spring. My hat, glove, and transistor radio go back into the ballpark bag until next year. I don't know how some people "do" multiple sports. It's emotionally exhausting.
Meanwhile the studio is a hive of industry, if not heavy creativity. I'm just playing for a bit while heavier things brew. I've finally found a use for those little sharpie+alcohol scribblings. But I think I'll toss a few into the washer to confirm that this stuff stains for life.
I wish I knew what words to put into Sweetie's mouth here but basically it's a threat that if I try to sit there again today she's going to make me bleed.
Although I worked late and slept badly, Sweetie wasn't going to let me sleep past seven this morning so I was up and out early taking this basket to the park again. They finished the resurface of the walking trail around the pond so I was able to occupy a bench and stitch in the bright morning sun for while, mental wheels spinning on other things.
There was a new list of artist calls in the email this morning which caught my attention for the first time in ages. Yesterday I spent the morning tuning up both the sewing machines in preparation for turning out a series of small kid quilts that will go up to the new market in NY. It's nice to have a way to use up some of the good quality cotton that I dyed in seasons past but had gotten away from using in my own work. Each of these will be a gem in it's own right poised for years of service and love for some little person. Not just quickie baby blankets..my voice and mark will be on each and every one. Are those aliens creeping around on your blankie? of course they are.
After a long day at IKEA and an afternoon of Atlanta traffic in the pouring rain, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed with my sewing basket and a cat.
I had intended to start something new. Something small and stitcherly but instead, I dug this little false start out of the bottom of the basket, set aside a few weeks back.
After a little picking out and relocating some elements it began to dawn on me how hard I have been fighting against the very nature of cloth, the warp and the weft, always crossing never meeting. I have been working hard at turning cloth into paint and will have to give that some more thought. How that idea might be a signpost, marker or warning.
On the other hand, the real paint arrived today, along with a barrel of new dyes, that will all have to wait until late April or May before the fun can begin again, but I knew all that when I placed the order.