Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you looked back over 2010 with some satisfaction and are beginning to think of goals and aspirations for the 2011. I know I am! And hence the new book in my home library: The Creativity Book: A years worth of inspiration and guidance by Eric Maisel, PhD. I started buying myself books on creativity about 5 years ago when I got The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and put myself through her whole program. This book is divided into twelve sections, with 8 or so activities per section, so about 2 per week. They are not all your typical artist type of activities; some of them are "forgive yourself for all your failures," "forgive yourself, period," and "forgive others too." Should be interesting. I hope I can sustain it for the whole year.

Meanwhile, I finally had some time to sit down and play with some design possibilities for my sketchbook cover, which has been haunting me (only 2 more weeks!). I really had no idea, no preconceived vision of what I wanted it to look like, so I just went through my stash and pulled out things I like. I started with the plain natural fabric in the foreground and thought I would use that as the base fabric. Then I decided I wanted something with more color and pizzazz. I played around with some prints and batiks and then found my old favorite burlap ( I know, you're probably thinking "why does she like burlap so much?" I don't know - I think it's the texture and it reminds me of very simple times when farming and gardening and homemade clothes were the norm). I made the title (Fabrications) by couching perl cotton onto another fabric with metallic ribbon for the first letter. I stamped some other words and did a little seahorse thread sketch which I colored in with the Inktense pencils. It looked ok, but it seemed too stiff and predictable.

After a lot of trial and error and playing around, here is the final design I came up with. I ended up keeping my favorite robin's egg blue burlap as the base fabric. I decided I wanted it to show, but that it needed something. I stamped a large design onto it using a foam stamp and turquoise metallic acrylic paint. Then I free-motion stitched around the design with copper metallic thread and touched it up with copper acrylic paint, so it almost resembles embossed copper tiles with a patina. I created another seahorse separately on a piece of silk mounted on a piece of printed cotton, using variegated metallic thread. It took me a long time to decide how to add the words: I finally scrapped the previous couched and stamped words and just hand-wrote them with metallic fabric markers on sheer ribbons, then stitched the ribbons into place. It didn't photograph well, but the words say "Fabrications: Fiber art and poetry thru the year by Cindy Green." I'm happy with it, I think it will hold up well to many hands touching it, and I think it is represents me and my style pretty well. Now I just have to finish by stitching it to the original sketchbook cover.

Another step I made towards getting the sketchbook bound and mailed out was putting all the grommets into the fabric pages. A while back I had picked up this grommet kit from the local craft store (I think it sells for about $20 - bring your 40% off coupon!). The most surprising thing about it to me is that IT WORKS! It's actually worth the money! It comes with the main handle component and those interchangeable tips for either punching a hole or flattening the grommet. I think it's intended for paper crafts and scrapbooking, but it did a fantastic job going through the fabrics, some of which were several layers thick. I also used it this fall to put grommets in the tops of the bookmarks I made, to hold the tassel.

To insert a grommet, first I measured and marked where I wanted it to go. Then, using the black tip, I positioned the punch over the spot and pressed down with the heel of my hand. The handle compresses and then kind of jumps, like it's spring loaded.

Here are two perfectly cut holes where the grommets will go.
Next, I changed to the other tip. I inserted the grommet into the hole from the front to the back, then turned the piece over. Press the end of the tip over the grommet and press down again with the heel of the hand. The spring-loaded action flattens out the back of the grommet, neat and clean!
Here are my two grommets, looking neat and professional! It's nice to have a tool that actually works and does what it claims to do! Now I just have to finish up the stitching on the cover, make one more sketch, and put it all together! Can't wait!

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