Sunday, November 25, 2007

Family, Creativity, and Gratitude

It has been a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, ripe with all those feelings that accompany the start of the holiday season. We spent Thanksgiving afternoon with son Lance's in-laws in Provo. The food was great, company good, and I frankly loved not having to deal with cooking the entire meal. I contributed Brussels Sprouts, done in a way that even sprout-haters usually like, and two apple pies. One was a sour cream struesel, and the other a normal two crust apple, but with my own tweaks to the spices. Instead of all the usual cinnamon, nutmeg, and so on, I've found I like apple pie best spiced with lemon juice and freshly grated rind, and fresh ginger, finely grated. I love the clean, tart taste this gives the apples. I also use less sugar than many recipes, and stick to tart apples, with Granny Smith being my favorite. I've also learned a cool trick to prevent the big gap between the top crust and the filling as the apples reduce- cook the apples ahead of time, sauteed in a little butter, then put in the crust and bake. Makes all the difference.

Friday and Saturday I was able to get into the studio and play. I wanted to try out my Thermofax screens, so I pulled out a 2 yard length of raw silk I'd dyed a couple of time, and a half yard piece of cotton. Here's the silk being printed--

I am not used to working on pieces of cloth this large, but given that I had to move it more than once to get to all of it, it came out well. I also learned lots about using the Thermofax screens, which by the way are AWESOME!!

- Less is more when it comes to the amount of thickened dye or paint. My best images were with a lot less than I would have thought I needed.

-Don't skimp on the screen material, leave yourself a large enough well, or place to lay down your dye or paint, when you make the screens.

-If you want a sharp image with lots of detail, use soda soaked fabric that has been allowed to dry.

-I'll need to figure out a way to pad my entire table- but I think that one will be easily resolved with a trip to DI (Goodwill to most of the world).

I used cobalt blue, done in a dark value on the silk. The images are both ones I took and photoshopped. One is the windows in an old sort of factory building close to the freeway in Spanish Fork, the other is a rock wall. I think I will add one more image to this fabric in a lighter color paint, and then use it to make a simple jacket. Lime green for spring, sounds good to me!

On the cotton, I wanted to do my images first, then I will dye and overdye the fabric. The text is a page from my great-grandmother's high school graduation essay that I scanned and manipulated to increase the contrast. I love her handwriting! The other images are the same- a dry thistle, which I then manipulated to get this image, then did screens in three different sizes. I lightened the value of the thistle images.

I have a lot to learn about this process, but that will come with practice and doing more pieces. Subtlety is not yet in my vocabulary, that will definitely take more work. But I am thrilled to be able to add another skill to my toolbox, one that allows me to include images not possible any other way.

Bentlee spent the night with us, and Saturday I helped her make fabric cards to give for Christmas. We stared out with a piece of red velveteen fused to Peltex, then cut out shapes from all kinds of sheer fabrics I had in my stash. Once she had the shapes down to her satisfaction, I fused them to the velventeen with Misty Fuse.

Then I ran some stitching all over it with heavy gold thread in my bobbin. I gave her a cardboard "frame" to look through and mark the cards she wanted to cut, then stitched around her marks and cut them out. Then Bentlee learned all about the joys of beading! Here she is stitching beads onto a card--

She did a great job embellishing her cards! Once the beading was done, we fused a backing to the cards, then I couched four strands of eyelash yarn around the edges. She ended up with seven cards, each different and all very Christmas-sy!!

We had a grand time, and I think I now have some ideas for a Christmas present for her.

I hope your Thanksgiving was equally blessed and joyful!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rock Art, Hiking, and Other Assorted Miscellany---

There has been a very interesting discussion on the QA list the last couple of days. I threw my bit in this morning, in response to posts by Terry Grant, Pamela Allen, and Liz Berg, all of whom mentioned emotional or personal content in art. Of all the concepts around art, this one has been the hardest for me to get my arms around. It's come up with my brother in our discussions, and I've never resolved my questions about it. But I think I got some answers I can understand, and that will help me in my own journey, today. And that feels good!

I have been working hard on my rock art piece, which has developed out of the discharging I did with my granddaughter last summer. I think this is the closest I've come to capturing the true color, I've found the discharges to be notoriously difficult to photograph. I'm pleased, I got the black figures to 'pop' the way I wanted, and I achieved the texture in the background I wanted without the distraction of thread color. Now that I've found a monofilament thread I like, I think I'll be finding more ways to use it. (Sew Art thread, the same as Harriet Hargrave uses.) Anyway, here it is, the interior done, only the borders left.

And here's the detail, showing the texture. Believe me, doing the close stippling on this was not easy, I felt like I was sewing blind!

I'm now part of a small crit group, and one of them suggested the hand embroidery around the figures. I wasn't sure, but took a leap of faith, and I'm very happy with how it looks. That pale color is just the "zinger" it needed. I'll be using more of that same thread in the border, doing seed stitching. Once the border is done, I'll be stretching it on stretcher bars. I love how that helps them read like ART.

On a more mundane note, Sadie demanded a walk yesterday, so we hiked up in Spanish Fork Canyon again. This time, I decided to go through a cattle gate and climb up the hill- it was well worth it, though my legs let me know they'd had a workout last night. It was unbelievably warm for mid-November. Here I am in my short sleeve tee as proof--

If you are jealous, have no fear- we are supposed to be in the 40's by Tuesday, with the possibility of snow in the valleys. I have no doubt the skiers are anxious, but me, I am not looking forward to shoveling the driveway.

Sadie probably walks twice the distance I do. She runs ahead, then stops to make sure I'm still following, runs back to me, then ahead again. Even at nine years, she has loads of energy.

Love the colors of the lichen on this scrub oak!!!

Coming back down the hill, I was struck by the black lines of the trees against the red rock in the canyon. Part of the area we hiked burned last summer, and it was an interesting mixture of blackened trees and shrubs, with green grass on the ground.

One last note- I'm still open for takers on pay it forward. Kimmi has taken me up on it, I'd love to have two more.

I hope all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving, with family or friends, or both. Even in adversity, I've learned that we have much to be grateful for.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Meaning, Pay It Forward! If you haven't seen this in blogland before now, it's simple. The first three people to leave a comment on my blog, stating their intention to join the fun, will get a handmade gift from me. In return, you agree to post the "Pay It Forward" message on your blog, and do the same for the first three people who comment on yours. I'm carrying on the "random acts of kindness" from Linda T. Minton of Fiber Reflections.

My gift could be a small journal size quilt, could be a fat quarter of art cloth-- I haven't decided yet, and probably won't be able to work on it until closer to the holidays. But I do promise you will have it within six months. And, if you have a preference, I'd be happy to do what I can to please. I truly enjoy bringing pleasure to others with my work. So, leave a comment and join the fun!!

I got together with a group of friends on Friday, and had fun learning how to make a book cover. Jalaine found some books we could take apart at the dollar store, and we used scraps of fabric and any embellishments we could think of to recover them. I also found out that washers make cool embellishments, especially after you paint them, hit them with embossing powder, and then the heat gun!

Here's mine, the left one already glued to the cover. It will go on the front of the book.

The other one is waiting to be glued to the cover, with no bumpy embellishments since it will be on the back. The background is fabric I painted awhile back, the rest is from my stash of small scraps. This was fun enough I'll do it again, as long as I can find more books that are easily taken apart.

I also got a Christmas present done- but no posts of that one!

Looking forward to hearing from others who want to play and pay it forward!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Journal Quilt 2007

I'd thought I sent it off to Houston without taking a picture of the finished quilt. Imagine my surprise last night- I was backing up my photo files to an external hard drive I just got, and came across a picture of my completed Journal Quilt! I can't believe I forgot about taking it!!

Anyway, here it is, along with my statement. The clear picture taken in Houston is courtesy of my friend Suzanne, who had a quilt juried into the show.

Beverly J. Hart
Spanish Fork, UT


Creative Quilting techniques used: solvent transfer using Citra-solv (p. 16); Shiva paintstiks over a rubbing plate (p. 201); photos changed to grayscale, and inkjet printed on fabric (p. 179).

This is my third year in the Journal Quilt project, and I knew I wanted to do something entirely different from my previous quilt pages, which were nature based or abstracts. I played with several ideas, then decided to do a ‘scrapbook’ page that incorporated images of me growing up until now, and documents from both my childhood and adult life. Since my mother had saved every report card I ever got, among other normal childhood documents, I had plenty of material to work with.
I’ve had a rich life, with its share of twists and turns, and wanted the quilt to reflect that. I pieced the background using my hand dyed fabric, then did the text transfers and Shiva paintstik rubbings. I thought long and hard about the quilting, but decided that contour lines, like those on the maps, would be very appropriate. They not only symbolize the changes our life can take when we least expect it, but the ups and downs too. We won’t mention the lines you can see showing on my face in the more recent photos!
I printed out the photos, then fused them to the red backing fabric and edged them with decorative stitching. I made little quilts of each photo, since I wanted them to stand our more than a simple one layer of fabric would. They were sewn by hand onto the quilt. The last touch was the beading, which I didn’t even know it needed until the very end.
The entire process turned out to be some things I hadn’t expected- it invited introspection about where my life has been, and where I want it to go from here. It helped me bring closure to some painful events of the past three years, and to focus more on the future. It may not be art, but it is definitely is a piece of me. I’ve learned new techniques to add to my toolbox, and actually gotten good at some of them! But mostly, I hope my children will value you it as a part of me to be shared with future generations.

I've participated in the Journal Quilt Project for the last three years, and found it to be both therapy and a wonderful learning experience. I'm grateful to Karey Bresenhan for initiating the project, and giving it the kind of exposure in the quilting world only she can do. I've grown as an artist and a quilter, been exposed to other artists' work, and perhaps started thinking "bigger" than I would have without it. Thank you Karey and Quilts Inc!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I've discovered a new toy. . .

I've heard of thermofaxes, read about them-- but until Saturday, never met one face to face. Timmy Burton, who is part of the Utah Surface Design Group of which I am also a member, graciously invited me to her studio in Heber when I asked her about her machine. I printed out a number of designs, some of which would be impossible to do any way except with a thermofax, or a photo emulsion screen.

Timmy has a fabulous studio, pretty much everything a surface designer could want. She showed me how to work the machine, and after we over-exposed the first screen, made a call to another Surface Design member to figure out how to cool it down a tad. From there, it worked like a charm! I probably did about a dozen screens- some leaves in different sizes, a dried thistle I'd photoshopped, a page from my great-grandmother's high school graduation essay, in her exquisite penmanship. Here's a texture piece I made- one that started out as a picture of a rock wall, and then photoshopped to get this image. It's in the carrier, ready for the machine.

After I cut my screens, Timmy showed me some ways to make a grid when screen printing so your images line up. I also got some great ideas for a print board, one that I can store easily but big enough to do the job.

I was sorry I could only spend the morning with Timmy, but we had a wedding to go to in the afternoon. Now I need to plan a weekend for screen printing- I think I'm going to start with thickened dyes. Whatever you use, the process is magical.

I also got some quilting done. Much of the background of the rock art discharge piece is done- I'm trying to decide how to quilt the part that doesn't have the wavy lines on it. But it's coming along nicely, as is the previously mentioned Christmas present. I'm still in the thinking stage of the autumn quilt that is on my design wall- but now that I have the catalog for next spring's Home Machine Quilting Show in Salt Lake, I'd like to have it done for that. The theme is tradition, and that quilt is about as traditional as I get. Got to have something to keep me going during our long winter nights, now that daylight savings is over!!

And, hopefully I will have a photo of my Journal Quilt to post. I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of it before I shipped it to Houston. Half the posts on the Quiltart list are links to the journal quilts, and I sit here like a bump on a log. Fortunately, Suzanne from Surface Design was at Houston, and able to take pictures of my quilts. So once she sends them to me, I'll post a picture.