Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quilts and Watercolors

I am actually making progress on the autumn-toned Easy Pieces quilt. The first time I made one of these, I agonized over the design and block placement for literally weeks. I could see I was heading down that same path, so I decided this morning to just forget about the blocks and focus on the colors. It occurred to me that the colors are what I see when I look at the mountains close to our home at this time of autumn- the valley trees are still green, but the higher you go on the mountain, the more spectacular the colors. So I went for that effect, and came up with a design I like. And, in this case, simple is better.

Here's my first try at this idea--

This arangement captured the idea of the mountains, but I wondered if it would be more interesting if I offset the rows. I think it is, so this should be the final arrangement for the middle of the quilt.

The half blocks sticking out will be trimmed. Now I can agonize over the border. I wondered if I could use this other set of blocks to make a border, but I'm not sure they do anything for the quilt. I've got them folded in half in this picture, to see if a narrower border would work.

And, then I started playing in EQ5, wondering if an odd- sized (meaning, not the same width on all four sides) border would work. I thought I might applique some leaves, or some other fall motifs on a wider side. Maybe half a tree, with leaves falling off? I should have time to think about it while I put the blocks together.

Bentlee came and spent the weekend with us. She arrived on Friday after crazy hair day at school. Normally she's a blonde, but not that day!!

Whatever the stuff was, it was quite the job to get it out of her hair. And she has lots of long, thick hair.

She came to my watercolor class with me on Saturday morning, and was great- even did one of the exercises with us.
Me, I got a couple of pieces done- but nothing I'm willing to post for the world to see. Watercolor is HARD- it makes no sense to me that watercolor paintings are generally less than oil paintings, when the watercolors are so much less forgiving.

Then we came home, and she made three fabric postcards with my large stash of scrap fabric. She even did some of the stitching herself, after I showed her how to use the sewing machine. She's short, so rigging something that made it possible for her to get at the foot pedal took a bit of work. But she certainly seemed to enjoy it.

And, finally, less than a week until the opening of the Surface Design group show. I helped hang part of the show Thursday, with Chris and Polly from the group. Good thing they have done this before, I hadn't- and there is quite a bit involved. It took us three hours just to figure out where each piece would go. Then we worked the afternoon hanging them- and I had to leave before it was done. But I think it will look wonderful, and I am still kicking myself for forgetting my camera.

I can, however, show a picture of the card that all of us were given, and the Art Center is mailing out to their list. The picture is the front of the card, the information is printed on the back- I just scanned it so you can see both.

I am still pinching myself!!

A busy week ahead, I am in Salt Lake all week, and the days will be long. I'll post pictures of the opening reception next weekend.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some done, others started. . .

It has been two weeks since I last posted, and it has been a busy time. The Surface Design group show at the new Covey Center for the Arts in Provo starts Oct. 5, and I will be helping to hang it this Thursday. the building is beautiful, I should have pictures from the opening reception. My two pieces are stretched and ready to hang! I finally got the edges fringed on the inner border of Summer Suns, and I also used some spray finish because of the tissue paper. So, here it is, done!!

And a closeup--

It took me longer to fringe that than to do the quilting. Go figure.

I named my other piece 'Watchers'. It was fun, but sometimes I think I let a good idea run wilder than I should have. I was thinking of the Maurice Sendak book my boys used to love, "Where the Wild Things Are." And Harry Potter. Anyway, here it is.

I was introduced to a brand of monofilament thread by a friend, and used it on this piece. First time I haven't wanted to rip out the thread as soon as I've put it in!! These discharge pieces were so hard to photograph, none of them are really like the actual piece. And, I tried for a detail shot with no success.

And, I have begun work on a more traditional quilt. I have had a bunch of blocks sitting around for over five years, leftovers from a quilt I made for my daughter. My blog banner is actually a picture of part of that quilt. I've had lots of green blocks- and no matter how I've arranged them, they do not sing.

I took them with me to Asilomar in 2005, when I took an independent study with Margaret Miller. These blocks are her Easy Pieces blocks, and I figured who better to ask than the author herself. She recommended adding additional color to more blocks, so I bought several half-yard cuts. This week I started making the blocks, and what a difference!!

I've got the regular blocks done, now I need to sew the mirror image blocks. What is so sweet is that her system enables you to complete a lot of blocks in a short time frame. Here's my workstation, all set up--

And here's the first set of blocks up on the design wall. This is just the first try, I will spend lots of time twiddling with the arrangement.

Finally, I am now halfway through my watercolor class. I have decided that watercolor is a most unforgiving medium, and I now have much more respect for the artists who do it! I've got space set up in my dye studio--

And here is my first amateurish attempt, leaves, working on some transparency. I am having fun, even if I am finding it more difficult than anticipated!

So, I now have plenty to keep me busy with the demise of journal quilts. More later about hanging the show!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Works in Progress. . .

I've been trying to put as much work as possible into the two remaining pieces for the art show in October. I have about ten more days, and then also have to allow time to get them stretched. So here's where I am--

Both pieces are from a group of discharge experiments I did earlier this summer. This one was wrapped around a PVC pipe. When I looked at it after discharge, the first thing that came to mind was a spooky forest- think Harry Potter, for example. So I tried to add stitching to it to enhance that idea, while leaving it largely abstracted. I did quite a bit of zigzage free motion stitching before I ever sandwiched it. And, I found a way to keep it from drawing up! I fused a layer of DecorBond to the back, and then used a tearaway stabilizer under that. It worked beautifully, the piece has stayed flat.

And, I don't believe all art has to be serious or impart a message. Here's a detail shot that should give you a clue as to where I'm heading with this.

The tree quilting is completed, now to finish the black background and borders.

The second one just has the border added, I've not done any stitching. I think I'm going to do an overall pattern in a brown that blends with the discharged areas, to make the black figures pop out. Don't know if it will work, but I'll never know if I don't try it.

Both of this were difficult to photograph, and I never did succeed in making the photos close to the real thing. So this is as good as it gets.

Guess I know what I'll be doing evenings after work this week!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Last of the Labor Day weekend dyefest. . .

I washed out the rest of the hand-dyes yesterday, and was pleased with the results. Here is the turquoise to rust overdye run--

And the Santa Fe Blue to Rust Brown overdye run--

The blue in the last one is actually equal parts of turquoise, sky blue, and black. And, the names are Katy Widger's, from her Color Wheel dyeing book. I love the overdye system she developed!

I think I am done with overdyes that use all three primaries, however. I've done ever one of hers, and got some nice browns and neutrals. I've wondered why I'm so fascinated with the browns, when it's not a color I use in my home or wear. I certainly have plenty of material for landscape quits in the future! My stash bins are getting crowded, I've had to make separate bins for blue greens and yellow greens, and today I had to separate out the turquoise and grayed blues from the clearer blues. So I think I can lay off the dyeing until I get some of the stash used in projects.

With the end of the journal quilt project, I've been wondering what to focus on. I'm not attending any workshops, I'm staying away from challenges- I feel the need to just do some work and see what comes of it. I have a possibility of putting some work up in a small gallery where I live- I wouldn't expect much in the way of sales, but it is exposure.

DJ and I went to the movies yesterday afternoon, and then drove up to Squaw Peak, which overlooks Utah Valley. The view is spectacular- I took pictures, but they never seem to do it justice. Imagine my surprise, though, on the way down- wild turkeys by the side of the road! I managed to get a shot before they all moved back into the trees.

You can see the one pretty well, and then the heads of a couple of others in the leaves. I think there were 7 or 8 all told, but some managed to get away before I got my camera out. Hope they survive the fall hunt!!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

It's hot, it's a weekend- so I must be dyeing!!

And you would be right. I found some PFD (at least I think it was!!) in a back cranny of my stash. I ripped it up, and Thursday morning starting dyeing. No recipes for the most part, although I was using the methods in Ann Johnston's Color by Accident. I love what happens with the color parfait, and that is most of what I did. And, just for fun, I threw in half-yard pieces of cheesecloth, and fat eighths of silk organza with the cotton.

Here's the end results of the first day:

That's cotton on the right, and the silk on the left. Yummy!

That's cotton on the left, and cheesecloth on the right. I think some of my fabric was not mercerized, because some pieces had duller colors than I would have expected. And, the small bit you can see with the fabric folded doesn't show off the patterning on some of them!

I love the yellow and golds I got here--

And here--

And here!!

I wasn't sure about this one when I saw it wet, but fell for it while ironing it. I think the ironing is my favorite part of the process, it is just magical to watch the colors and patterns emerge. I never tire of it.

How about the patterning on this rusty red one??

And the last one--

All in all, a good dye day. I haven't quit there- I have two sets of overdyes baking for the second dye run, and about 10 small pots of pieces I'd formerly dyed and decided they needed overdyeing. So I'll have more to post tomorrow.