Monday, October 26, 2015

A Few Things...

This month I've been working on some UFOs that have been hanging out in drawers and on worktables in my creative space.  The library has some display space on the second floor and they've asked me and a few other creative staff members to display some work in November and December.  I only need a few pieces, but most things have already been on display there in the FANE shows, so I wanted to choose a few things they haven't seen yet.  The above piece was made for a traveling SAQA exhibit a few years ago and I received it back recently.  It needed a frame or border, so I covered a stiff piece of interfacing with the upholstery fabric you see above.  Now it's suitable for display!

I also (finally!) finished the Thanksgiving-themed piece I created last year, below.  I had done all the embroidery but wasn't sure what to mount it on.  I found the plaid binding among my stash and decided the colors were just right.  Also now suitable for display.

Here's a close-up:

I've also revisited the "Summer Blues" piece I started in the summer.  I wanted to experiment with some other surface-design techniques on a few small (9"x9") pieces of fabric and the results are below.  I used acrylic paint to do some monoprinting, as well as using some stamps and stencils.  I wanted to keep the palate to the blues and white with a touch of yellow and green.  The results were okay, maybe a little busy or messy.

I decided to do a third when I came across this blue tie-dye look fabric in my stash.  Here, I simply stamped circles in a three sizes with white acrylic paint.

While handling the fabrics, I noticed the reverse of the first two were also kind of interesting, maybe even better than the front.

Finally, I cut the fabrics into strips of various widths and wove them together on top of some fusible webbing.  I used all three altered fabrics, plus some strips wrong-side-up of the first two.  This is what it looked like:

I like it much better than the each piece alone!  Some other FANE group members have been using this weaving technique for a years and I've always wanted to try it.  Now that I can see what the appeal is, I'd like to experiment with it some more.  But first I need to figure out what to put on top of this and how (or if) it fits into the larger "summer blues" piece.

Finally, I've been doing other fall things, like baking!  I recently came across a "candy corn cake" design somewhere on the web (maybe Pinterest?) and decided to try it myself.  Here' my version, made with pumpkin spice cake and cream cheese frosting. (See how each piece resembles a candy corn when sliced? Isn't that fun?)  And delicious! Yum!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Where does the time go?

I haven't posted on my blog in about a month!  It's hard to believe that summer is long gone and the  fall weather is here!  So where has the time gone?  We managed to get away for an extended weekend in mid-September (to Utah to visit family), the preschool and elementary programming at the library is in full swing, and the girls are back at school, so I guess all the busyness has made time fly.  Since I finished "Bamboo Grove" last month, my creative projects have been on the back burner, and I am just starting to get back in the groove lately.

Yesterday I created this Halloween door decoration (it's technically not a wreath) out of what I think is a felt placemat, some cute sticky-backed felt spooky shapes, a few laser-cut painted wood phrases, a pipe-cleaner spider, and some sheer orange ribbon.  I got most of the supplies at Michael's yesterday, and I'm pleased with the colorful and fun result!  I try to hang something seasonal on the door every month and I have used, re-used and maybe abused my previous October/November wreath over and over.  It was time for an update.  But I do continue to rehang this felt banner the girls and I created years ago.  We traced cookie cutter shapes onto felt for some of the ghosts, bats, and cats, then cut them out with scissors.  I think it's retained its charm and whimsy (although it certainly could use a pressing!).

A short article in the April-May issue of Quilting Arts magazine titled "Stitch and Discharge" by Mary Ruzich inspired me to try discharging with Softscrub with bleach.  At first, I tried regular bleach out of the bottle, but it's so watery and thin that there is very little control.  I actually painted the Softscrub directly onto this piece of denim with a paintbrush in this design and look at the results! (Now my daughters are getting all kinds of ideas about decorating their jeans!)  In the article, the fabric is layered and quilted first, then she discharges the raised quilted area.  I experimented with stamps, with okay results - not great, but not totally ineffective.  Probably larger, less detailed stamps would work best.  I haven't tried stencils, but I bet they would have great results.

I'll have to play with this technique some more.  It would make a nice addition to my "Summer Blues" WIP which is still hanging out on my design wall.  The other day, I revisited it and actually stitched a few pieces together.  It was originally going to be 18"x36" to fit into the FANE group show currently at The View in Old Forge, NY, but now I can make it any size I like, which is changing my thought process and throwing me off a bit.  Maybe I should just continue to think of the 18"x36" size.

I'm not as motivated to work on this as I was in the summer (seeing as there's now no deadline!) but I'm trying to stick to "showing up at the page" at least a few times a week, if I can't do it daily.  It's so much easier and more relaxing to just crack open a book!

Anyway, that's where the time's gone! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

Here's a shot of "Bamboo Grove," the piece I just finished for the next FANE exhibit which will be upstate at a quilt show in Old Forge NY.  Of course, it took me longer to finish than I expected (doesn't everything?) but I'm happy with the results.  I was trying to capture the feeling in this photo

and I hope I succeeded.  I layered the tapering bamboo trunks with a sheer green netting to create the feeling of distance through a screen of leaves.  Some were thick, some thin, some dark, some light, and I extended the thicker, closer ones to give the appearance of proximity and added interest along the bottom edge.  My daughter suggested I place some sheer yellow strips among the trunks to look like beams of sunlight shining through, which I did.  To keep them subtle, I hand-stitched them in place.  The leaves were all cut out of a batik fabric and although I intended to free-motion stitch them in place, I ended up hand stitching them with little lazy daisy stitches.  Here's a close up:

I even had to get a special hanging slat cut from acrylic because the top portion is so sheer that anything else would show through!  And my label is on the back of the thickest trunk, hung vertically!  This piece was definitely a challenge, but I think it fits the bill as "innovative fiber" and I enjoyed the creative process.  Now for a little break and a long weekend before school begins on Tuesday (hooray, made it through another busy the summer!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mini Hike: More Green Inspiration

The weather has been so fabulous lately - sunny, dry, not too hot - that I've been trying to get outside as much as possible.  Yesterday I took Cassie around to our little beach for another swim, but today, we explored Pelton Pond, a short hike in Fahnstock State Park, just off the Taconic Parkway.  It's a manmade pond with beautiful little views around every bend.

I always get into the little landscapes around the base of some trees, where moss looks like a mini lawn and you could just imagine little critters living in the gaps between and under the roots.

As we were walking along, my daughter pointed out this log that looked as if it had been chewed by a beaver.  We looked for a beaver lodge as we trekked all around the pond, but didn't see one.

Still, we kept finding logs that were obviously gnawed by beavers.

Finally, when we had almost come full circle around the pond, there they were!

No sign of the beavers (they were probably napping during the heat of the day) but it's nice to know they're there!

As you can see, Cassie felt pretty good about spotting the lodges!

Despite all the great weather and time spent outside, I've been managing a little time in the studio creating a bamboo grove.  At first, I thought I would make more of an abstract piece with bamboo stems at various angles and thicknesses cutting from top to bottom of the piece (see the third photo in my previous post).  But then I thought a piece with more of a focal point and a more interesting perspective might work better (see the first photo of my previous post).  So I've been cutting and auditioning and playing around.  Here is a preliminary view of the WIP.

Now that I've started and established a method, it's moving along pretty quickly.  Hopefully I'll be able to buckle down and complete it in the next few weeks...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Changing Direction

Sometimes, you don't have to go looking for inspiration, sometimes it finds you!  Last week I took an afternoon walk in lovely Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, NY and found myself contemplating the graceful lines created by the tall stems in the bamboo grove.  The bamboo is easily 30 feet tall here, and creates a very shady and secluded alcove.

My daughter and I sat on this stone bench in these peaceful surroundings, just breathing and listening to the breeze rustle through the bamboo leaves.

Without even really thinking about it, I realized these graceful stalks might be the perfect subject for a piece of art with an 18"x36" size requirement!

Of course, I don't want to abandon my "Summer Blues" project, but I have a feeling this one will go much more quickly than that one seems to be going.  (I kept much of that piece on my design wall but folded up most of the extra blue fabric and left it in a neat pile on the corner of my worktable where I can see it and will be reminded to finish it!).  Then I pulled out some green fabrics . . .

I think these will do nicely!  I did need to make a quick run to the fabric store for some more Wonder Under, felt, and a sheer green netting that I think will make a nice backing, which will actually be seen through the spaces between the bamboo stems (this is supposed to be innovative, right?).  Here's what I've got going on so far...

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Small Steps

 This week, despite a very busy schedule at the library, I've managed to spend a few minutes here and there playing with my supplies.  The other day, I stitched this little sun on a sky-printed fabric.

And this morning, I stopped into Michael's just to wander around and see what I could find.  I picked up this set of clear acrylic alphabet stamps, some PITT pens (one large one in white), and a new mixed-media journal.  When I got home, I started to play!

For some reason, when I placed this photo onto the batik ripple-print fabric below, the words ". . . life is but a dream"from "Row, row, row your boat" popped into my head and I knew I wanted to stamp or print them on there somehow.  The acrylic stamps I got were perfect!  I didn't mount them on blocks, but just cut them apart and painted the letters with white acrylic paint.  I must say, I'm very pleased with the results - it's the exact feel I was going for.  

I had also sketched a rowboat, which I traced onto the fabric using a light box and an air-soluble marker.  Then I painted in the boat, leaving the fabric below to act as an outline, so the boat looks almost translucent and kind of dreamy, like a memory.  I'm not sure yet how I'll stitch on the fabric photo; I'm mulling over the various options.

 Here's a close-up of the boat.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I think this all ties into my feelings about summer in general.  I'm probably not the only one who looks back with great fondness on the summers of childhood.  So as I'm exploring what summer means to me, different images and colors are floating up to the surface of my mind and memory.  I'll just keep going with it and see where it takes me...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Blues

The last few days have brought us beautiful sunny weather, so I decided to try making some innovative sun-printed fabric for my innovative project.  I splashed some diluted Setacolor paints onto some prewashed, damp fabric, then lay it in the sun and covered it with various flowers, ferns, vines, and pieces of lace.  I covered a portion of it with an acrylic plate to keep the plants flat.  Then I waited.
After a while, I couldn't resist taking a little peek.  It seemed to be working.  Under the leaves, it's lighter, as the sun draws the paint away from the areas in shadow.

Here is the fabric after the paint was completely dry and the plants and things removed.  I've had better results from sun printing, but I did get that great clear fern print in the right corner.

I decided to augment my white shadows with actual plant prints.  I gathered some more leaves and flowers, some diluted white acrylic paint, and a brayer.

The resulting prints added some clearer detail, interest, and depth to the fabric.

I've also been stitching these daisies in the evenings, so . . .

I now have a good selection of collage materials to use in the "Summer Blues" quilt, including an old photo of my sister and myself on vacation (circa 1967?) printed on fabric, the back pocket from an old pair of jeans, and the laced edge of an old cotton summer shirt I used to wear.

I even started looking through my ribbons and rick-rack to see if any of it might be included.  It's a start!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Seeking Inspiration

 As I've been going about the busy-ness of daily life (senior prom, end of school exams, prep for summer library programs, graduation, fourth of July, keeping up with the house and garden), I've been mulling over ideas for my next piece.  The only requirements are that it measure 18"x36" hung vertically, it can be considered "innovative fiber" (the title of FANE's next show), and it must be finished and photographed by Sept. 4th.  So the sky is pretty much the limit as far as subject matter, materials, color choices etc.  Maybe it's too wide open and without a hook to hang anything on, I find myself searching for inspiration.

Spending so much time outdoors and being a nature lover, I usually look there first.  My DH and I have been building these stone steps through the fern hill in our backyard (well truthfully, he's been doing most of the work... those rocks are heavy!) and they might make a nice subject rendered in fiber.  It would fit the vertical format as well.  I could put some inspirational words in there as well, something about climbing, working toward a goal... hmmm, a possibility...

Plants and their infinite variety are always inspiring.  I love the bright fuchsia of this astilbe

 and the rich deep reds and pinks of this coleus.  But for some reason, these colors don't resonate with me enough.

Greens are more my style.  Maybe something in the fern family?  Ferns are so graceful...
I looked through back copies of Quilting Arts magazine to get ideas, (lots of great inspiration there, and suggestions to make my work more innovative)
 and I visited the blogs of several inspirational artists, including Jane Lofazio and Jamie Fingal.  Very inspirational!

Of course, I also went through my stash to see what jumped out at me.  As usual, I was drawn to the blues.  That bright daisy print in the lower right of the photo just looked so happy and summer-y.

I finally settled on making my next piece convey the happy, carefree feeling of summer, with a palette inspired by the sky and the daisies!

Now that I have a little to go on, I can start working a few minutes a day, even if it's just to place some fabrics on my design board and move them around, paint or write something on fabric, or take a few stitches.  The fun can begin!