Friday, August 31, 2007

Swiss Days--

Every year during Labor Day weekend, the picturesque village of Midway hosts Swiss Days. I've lived in Utah for sixteen years, and have never gone. This year, with my daughter Shannon living in Switzerland, it seemed apropos to go. So, we took off Friday afternoon and headed up Provo Canyon.

The canyon is one of my favorite places, especially in the fall. The colors are just starting to turn- in a couple of weeks it will be a wonderland of gold, orange, and red. I even managed to get a picture as we drove!

We parked way outside the village, and took the free shuttle into town. Midway isn't big, and it felt rather clautrophobic when we got to the town square. I've been here before, and was hard pressed to recognize it! Loads of craft booths, most that have absolutely nothing to do with Switzerland. Fun to look at, but nothing really tempting.

At the town square, you can eat and listen to the entertainment. Ah, Swiss food- this ring any bells??

And the entertainment!! Where but in America can you listen to 'Rocky Tonk Tennessee' with yodeling in the middle of the song??

Well, one more thing to cross off my list of things to do in Utah. Next year, I'd rather go to the sheep dog trials at Soldier Hollow, just down the road.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Well, the dyeing of the back turned out great- beautiful shade of red, with patterning, but not too much. So I will be taking it over to Lisa later this week.

I also did some stenciling on one of my discharge pieces. It is very visible in a photo I took, but it is much more subtle (or difficult to see) in person. I think I am going to try stenciling the same images on another piece that is not as dark. So, no pictures to post this time.

I am taking several days off this week, hopefully to get some real work done. Summer is about over, and I feel the need for one last hurrah before Labor Day. So, a very long weekend it is. Can't wait--

Saturday, August 25, 2007

You are never too old to live and learn. . .

I spent most of yesterday getting the materials I needed to color the canvas backing for Summer Suns. I spoke with my drawing teacher Lisa, and mounting this on stretcher bars is definitely an option. She even volunteered to teach me, which is an offer I will probably take her up on.

I bought more cotton canvas at Joann's, and large bottles of red and yellow Setacolor at Michael's. When I got home, I found out that the red I bought is not the red I'd used on the piece- and Michael's doesn't carry that red. I could always be patient and order it online- but no, not me. So I experimented with mixing cardinal red and black, and was satisfied with my results. So, last night I painted the canvas- about a yard square.

Lisa had mentioned to me about canvases being primed- but I've painted fabric before, why do I need to worry about that? I found out why when it took the entire 9 oz bottle of red to paint the canvas- and that was barely getting it all painted! Then, when I came down this morning- the color wasn't quite right, I'd added too much black. ARRGH!!

Serendipity when you are dyeing and painting can be fun, and I've been a fairly loosy-goosey kind of artist. But today it would have been nice to have gotten what I wanted, and I suppose for that I should have been a little more careful and actually measured. The canvas can be used, just won't work on this piece. And, if I decide to paint canvas again- I will definitely prime it first. At $11 per 9 oz bottle, I'd prefer my paint went further than one yard. In fact, I will probably spring for regular acrylic paints, and not use my fabric paints for this.

So now I am back to square one. I have enough canvas left, so I've decided to go the dye route. I've scoured it, and have the red dye sitting. I do NOT want dye pops on this one, and I almost always end up with dye pops when I use red. Fortunately, this has been a topic of discussion on the dyer's list. The best remedy seems to be mixing your concentrates ahead of time, and giving the red hours to dissolve instead of a few minutes. At this point, I figure I have nothing to lose- so my red concentrate is on my counter, hopefully dissolving completely. I'll finish the dyebath later this afternoon, and sit it out on the driveway to bake in our 90 degree heat.

I'm hoping to get some work done on one of the discharge pieces, so I can start the quilting. September will be here before I know it---

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Serendipity and Quilting!!

I spent a lovely day in the studio yesterday, and got more done than I'd have believed possible. First, I got my sleeve for the Journal Quilt done, and the label designed on the computer. But before I could sew the sleeve on, the quilt told me it needed one more touch- so I'm adding that. But I still should be able to mail it off within a week, well before the deadline!

I have been staring at my tissue paper and paint piece for the better part of a month. I've played with adding circles cut from the silk organza I dyed, and liked that effect. Then I played with some quilting designs in my sketchbook. I've picked a name, Summer Suns. I practiced on my warmup sandwich, and was pleased with the design. Had to change needles, though, and it was a good thing I did all this on my warmup piece. I wanted to use a small needle, an 80, because of the tissue paper- but it kept shredding my thread, Superior's Nature Colors. So I went up to a 90 topstitch needle, and it made all the difference. When I was sure I didn't have any problems with tension or needle, I took a deep breath and took out Summer Suns. I was nervous because I knew there could be no ripping out of messed up stitching, the tissue paper would show every needle hole.

I started, and just kept on going- with the Best of ZZ Top playing in the background. It just flowed, not a single thread messup, and within an hour I had it totally quilted. Ahh, the glory of smaller pieces! But, best of all, I got the effect I wanted, and the texture with the stitching over the tissue paper is awesome.

Here's the entire piece, this one after quilting but before the last step was added-

This one is after I'd completed all my stitching--

And, some closeups--

If you can't tell, I used Misty Fuse to fuse some of the silk circles on before I started quilting. Then, after I'd quilted the piece, I fused on the rest of the circles, and quilted with multiple lines around those. So some circles have quilting over them, some you can see the quilting through the circles. This was a wonderful exercise in transparency!

I'm going to fringe out the red backing, and go see my former drawing teacher at her gallery tomorrow- hoping we can figure out a way to mount this onto a stretched canvas. With the tissue paper, I think it needs that- and, I'm hoping it would make it more saleable if it can be hung more like art than quilts.

Here's a good reason to take pictures of your work as you go- I didn't even see the white corner until I got the pictures on the computer. I've since gone over it with red paint, so it doesn't stick out. And when I do this again, it will be indoors with my heat lamps so I don't have to worry about tacking the fabric down against the wind.

One down, two to go- and those will both be discharge pieces.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More playtime. . .

Despite feeling like I have to devote entirely too many hours each week to the job that supports my fiber habit, I have been applying myself, and seeing some work come to completion. My journal quilt lacks only the sleeve and statement, and that part I think will come easily- it has been simmering on the back burners of my mind since the beginning of the year.

Bentlee spent Friday night with us, and yesterday we did a few more discharge pieces. This time, I was smart and labeled the different black fabrics so I know which one to get for the discharge effect I want. This is two pieces from Egyptian cotton- my favorite fabric, and my least favorite discharged! I did another monoprint with the faux paint tool.

Bentlee did this one, a combination of the faux paint tool and a toothbrush. I think part of it may be a self-portrait!

The next two are Quilter's Only cotton, and I like these the best for discharge. Left on long enough, the dishwasher gel goes almost white in some places, and the rest gets a nice rusty look. Bentlee did the first one with a variety of sponges to apply the gel.

The second I did, using a large sea sponge to apply the gel. The picture doesn't do justice to this one- it truly does look like an galaxy in outer space. I'm going to try adding some sheer elements to it, and see what happens.

The last two were done on Kona cotton, wrapped around a large piece of PVC pipe. The first one I just wrapped and scrunched, tying it off with floss. I think it looks like tree people, something out of Harry Potter!!

The second I gathered with parallel rows of basting stitches, wrapped around the pipe, and then tied with floss. I left the gel on this one quite a bit longer than the previous piece.

And, I played with one of the tissue paper pieces I posted about a few weeks ago. This is the one with the tissue paper still intact. I took the silk organza I dyed last weekend, and cut different size circles. I'm still debating whether to fuse them on as circles, or to make them a little wonky. And, I may decide to quilt first, then apply the circles, then quilt some more! Karoda asked in the last post if I had any plans for the silk and cheesecloth- here's the silk! And the cheesecloth will figure in something- but not this piece, I don't think.

Now to keep the momentum going. If I get the Journal Quilt off in the mail this week, that would be one project completely off my to-do list.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My journal quilt is almost done!!

Despite having another laser procedure on a leg vein Friday, I was able to get some work done. Since I spent most of Saturday relaxing and resting the leg, handwork seemed appropriate- so I got the binding done. Now, the only part left is the last layer, and the parts for those are drying as I write. Lots of work in Photoshop Elements, but I think it will pay off. As usual, I'll post photos after the Houston show opens in November!!

I have had one of the pieces I did earlier this summer with paint and tissue paper pinned on my design wall, just looking at it from time to time. First I've been trying to figure which orientation is best. I've had some ideas for it floating around, so last night I made some red and yellow dye, and did four pieces of silk organza, and four pieces of cheesecloth. One red, two shades of orange, and one yellow. I'm happy to say that I managed to dye and wash the cheesecloth without turning it into a ball of threads. And the colors came out spectacularly! Here's the cheesecloth--

And here's the organza. Obviously, since this is multiple layers of the fabric, the color will be much more subtle with only one layer. I was happy I got some mottling on the orange pieces, although it may be hard to see in the photos.

I'm wanting to get my journal quilt done so I can concentrate on the two pieces for the Surface Design group show in October- I have about six weeks. The size of both is manageable, about a fat quarter. And I do have some ideas. I think I'm a little paranoid, since this will be an 'art' show, not a quilt show. And there are some very talented artists in the Surface Design group. But I know I'd kick myself if I didn't have something ready, so I' counting on that to keep me motivated.

I had a lovely surprise this weekend. DJ got me a bird of paradise plant for Mother's Day, seeing how fascinated I was with them, doing all the postcards and Marly's birthday present. It was a small plant, a cutting. But it has done well sitting by our fireplace facing a south window, and I've enjoyed watching it grow. Well, Friday it bloomed! A small bloom, but a nice foretaste of blooms to come.

I love the colors on this plant, and expect they will get even more spectacular as it matures. And I've no doubt it will find its way onto more art-- Marly wants a triptich of work for their living room, so after the October show I'll get busy again!