Monday, March 31, 2008

March TIF Completed!!!

After a lot of dithering, thinking, and just plain agonizing, I decided that this project is my March TIF. It's a small book, covered with fabric that I created and embellished. The challenge was about the details of life- what could be more emblematic of a busy life than a book to keep track of all the details??

And the back of the book--

The fabric is one of the pieces I painted with Setacolors and bleeding tissue paper last summer- see my blogpost from July 16, 2007. Then I used several different colors of Shiva paintstiks over a rubbing plate which I overlapped quite a bit. The shapes are hand-dyed silk organza (fused with MistyFuse) that I machine quilted. Lastly, I embroidered some seed stitching, using a hand-dyed floss that was a gift from Ferret in the UK. The colors are probably indicative of how color-starved we are in the desert southwest by March, and hungry for spring.

The crochet cotton I used to bind the book is also hand-dyed- I did four different values in the blue dye-pots from this weekend, and used the one that coordinated the best.

Not only is this my March TIF, it also will be part of the Pay It Forward package I will be sending to Kimmi. I hope you like it, Kimmi!

Now I can focus on getting the studio cleaned up before we leave for the weekend!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

More hand-dyes--

The second set of sequenced overdyes is done. I did the first dye run with Dharma's Light Red, and the second with Sky Blue. I used the exact same process as with the previous fabric- and this one came out more heavily patterned. There are more distinct areas of blue and red, rather than violet shades. Just goes to show that the dyes sometimes have a mind of their own. But I do know that if I want values of violet in the future, I will probably buy the single shade Grape dye that Dharma sells. Take a look, tell me what you think--

Not that I don't like these, but they are more distinctly patterned than I would have anticipated.

Nellie, I'm getting another collection of threadies from this and previous dye sessions. Need any more for the ortworks?

I need to clean up the studio this weekend, we are heading off to Moab on Saturday to visit a friend. Hope your week is a good one!

Going out like a lion--

I was going to attribute my burst of energy, creative and otherwise, to spring- but you'd never know if today. I was floored to find 3-4 inches of snow when I got up this morning, and it is still falling. This was the view from our front door looking towards the common area in the back of our home.

At least I know it will melt fast!!

I got one set of sequenced overdyes done, and a second set will have its final washout tonight. The first set is red to yellow, using Dharma's Light Red and Bright Yellow Procion MX dyes. The cotton sateen took the color beautifully, and I got the effect I wanted- subtle patterning, not the crisp effects you get with soda soaking and low water dyeing. I did this just like solid color dyeing- I just did not stir, other than a couple of spins when the fabric first hit the pot. And I even had a helper, Shannon ironed most of them for me.

And here's the glorious finished fabric--

I also make progress on the books covers, which I've decided will be the March TIF project. After all, books like these do contain the details of our lives,don't they? While Shannon ironed, I added some seed stitch embroidery. The embroidery floss is a gorgeous hand dye from Ferrett- the colors just blended perfectly.

And up close-

I glued these to the covers last night, today I plan to finish them, and do the final washout of the second group of sequenced overdyes- this one, red to blue. What better way to spend a snowy, early spring day?

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm playing--

maybe Ms. Muse will pay me a visit?

First, I decided to stop stressing over the March TIF challenge. If the project I'm working on now doesn't fit, then so be it. I just drew a blank with the concept, and hanged if I'm going to work in winter colors when spring is starting to make herself felt around here.

Last weekend I decided to take a couple pieces of my tissue-painted fabric and use my Shiva paintstiks over a rubbing plate to see what happened. I liked one better than the other, so that is the one I started with this morning. I've had success in the past just arranging shapes to see what evolves, and that is what I did with three colors of my hand dyed silk organza. I'm going to use these to cover another of the books I have. And this time I decided to be a little more planful in how I cover them, so I've actually cut these to size, with 2" extra on each edge. Here's how they look before I quilt them--

The colors are close, although the green is more obvious than it looks in this picture. I am playing w
ith the settings on my camera, trying to get better at true color and value. It is frustrating at times, because mechanical stuff can drive me crazy. I just want it to work, don't confuse me with details about how it works!

I also have had the itch to dye, so I gave in this morning. I have dyed all
Katy Widger's overdye formulas that use all three primaries, which results in some very interesting neutrals. Today I'm using one color in each dye bath, so I will get some beautiful gradations between yellow and red. What's not to like about "all the colors of a sunset, from pale orange creams, blushes, and golds, to deep fiery reds, brilliant corals, and intense magentas"?? (Katy's description, I love it!!)

But that means I will have to deal with the dreaded red dye pops. I have a new tool in my arsenal for eliminating them:

Katy lists a 'stiff pastry brush' as one option for mixing dyes. I have a collection of stencil brushes I got on sale at JoAnn's- so I decided to give it a try. It seems to work better than anything else I've done yet. I did have to mix, and mix and mix- but I think I ended up with a totally dissolved dye concentrate. Then I filter it through the gold coffee filter (the thing the brush is sitting in), to make sure. I'll know later tonight, since I'm only going to batch these until then. Five values of light red Procion MX, with cotton sateen fabric--

I am becoming partial to less obvious, softer patterning in my hand dyes. So I am using the formulas for solid shade dyeing, but not stirring. Kitty litter boxes make great dye buckets! I've also thrown in some #5 perle cotton thread in each bucket.

And, I'm going to try to paint the edges of my autumn mountains tree this weekend. The light colored batting showing just isn't working for me. I got some Dye-na-Flow at Michael's last weekend, we'll see how it works. I've never used it before, but it seemed the simplest thing to just do edges.

Thanks to everyone who left suggestions about ways to get the inspiration flowing again. Some I'd thought of, others never occurred to me. I just keep reminding myself that this happens to everyone, and it too will pass. But nice to have tools to hopefully help it pass faster!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


that is how I am feeling. I did play with inking the printed images yesterday. Two came out OK, one I totally botched with the inks bleeding much more than I'd intended. And, I just haven't had the oomph to do the threadwork.

I've looked at what I've done the past couple of months, and it feels like I have flitted from project to project. The first two TIF challenges were fun and stretched me to some degree, this months' just hasn't been the same. I go down to the studio and look, piddle, maybe clean a little of the mess, but nothing major gets accomplished. I think I've wasted more time than I can justify on the computer, and I've certainly become a political junkie with CNN. The news this past week certainly didn't help me feel better, with the possible exception of the rally in Oregon on Friday.

I have the BLAHS, ideas aren't coming, and I've not been able to summon the emotional and physical energy to push beyond it yet. I know this is part of the creative cycle- but that doesn't help me in the moment for some reason. I look at the snowy mountain piece, and like Nellie's idea of turning the "bones" into an ortwork- but it's not gone beyond the thinking stage. And I really need to get moving again on my tree!

How do you move beyond the slumps and blahs? We all get them. As much as I'd like to, I know I can't blame it on the fact I have a full time job that also saps my energy. HELP!! What can I do to get moving again?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Full Circle

That would be where I am with respect to the March TIF challenge. This has been the hardest concept for me thus far, a surprise. And, there is no way I can use that winter palette with spring peeking around the corner here. So I am back to my original idea of macro shots of flowers, one of my favorite things to do with my camera. I'm feeling the time crunch, and not particularly inspired otherwise.

I am combining it with things learned at our Wasatch Art Quilters meeting last week. We worked at enhancing photos printed on fabric with Tsukineko inks. I'll do that, then add thread work. Here's the two fabric printouts, before I do anything to them--

I think I will make a small piece with all three yellow flowers, joined with pieced borders and sashes. The leaf picture is one I took in Florida last summer. I played with the colors in the filter gallery.

Right now Shannon and I are making breakfast burritos for the coming week. Our evening schedule has gotten crazier, with her starting night classes. So we need to have food that anyone can grab and go, since that seems to be how we are eating lately. Then I will head to the studio and start the inking.

I also got some Dye-na-Flow in brown and black, to color the edges of my batting tree. Those two projects should keep me busy the rest of the day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It was a good day

to stay inside and play. After getting rid of the mountains of snow that have surrounded our house all winter, we woke up this morning to a new blanket of the white stuff. So it was a good day to stay inside, stay warm, and do a bit of playing.

I finished the book covers which I will give to a friend this week. I changed my process for doing this, in an effort to make the underside neater. I also used two layers of fabric, my painted fabric and a layer of thin flannel. This made it a bit thicker, and more of a challenge to handle.

I did not glue the fabric to the cover- and learned that I probably should, at least around the edges. I'd also fuse the fabric and flannel together. But, those are lessons I'll put to use in future books, I am still pleased with how this one came out.

Here's the front--

And the back, where I machine quilted a vining leaf design in variegated King Tut thread.

I painted the crochet thread I used to bind the book. next time, I will try to plan ahead and dye it. Paint made the thread harder to pull through the holes, especially at the end when each hole has 6 strands going through it.

I have several more pieces of this tissue painted fabric I did last summer- I'd origially thought I would use them in small whole cloth quilts, but think I'm changing my mind. I like how they look cut up. So I am thinking there are more of these books coming, I think they have a multitude of uses!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Two Great Days. . .

full of quilting stuff, and about which I cannot post a single picture!

Our Wasatch Art Quilters group met on Friday. Suzanne went to Asilomar earlier this month, and took a class from Kerby Smith and Lura Swartz Smith. We learned some cool hints for Photoshop Elements, and dabbled with using the Tsukineko inks over photos printed on fabric. I've never been happy with the inks when I've tried to use them, so learned some valuable tips. However, I still think paints, dyes, paintstiks, and wax pastels will remain my favored way of adding color to fabric. I just feel like I have more control with them- and with the dyes, the serendipity factor is one of the things I love about dyeing!

Then today, a small group of quilters was treated to a class by Charlotte Warr Anderson of Salt Lake. It was all about geometric quilting designs,, and there were some awesome ones. This is the area I feel I still have the most to learn, so I soaked it all up. Getting to see the quilt that won Best of Show at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, 'Star Crossed', was great. The quilt looks awesome in the photo on her website, but it is even more impressive in person. I now have lots of practicing to do, and figuring out how to put this new information to good use.

I have not posted a thing about the March TIF challenge. I have thought about some ideas, and ended up rejecting all of them. The palette Sharon picked is just too wintry for me, and not enough contrast.

But I did come up with an idea that is a little different take on my first idea. I might even be able to use the colors, or at least some of them. Time for the sketchpad, and this one would also involve a thermofax screen or printed fabric. We shall see, I will have to work quickly on this one.

Hope your weekend was a fun as mine!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A little something quilty-- and more

It was a busy week at work, some late nights- so I never got anywhere near the studio. Then a lot of this weekend was spent cleaning, budget planning for the month and menu planning for the week- so I only got a little time to play today. And most of that was de-stress time from a scare this morning.

I'd planned to stop and drop off my HOA payment on the way home from church. After church, I realized I'd forgotten to bring an envelope. No big deal, I'm running low, so I'll just stop at Shopko on the way and grab a box. Got up to the checkout, it came to a whole $1.48. I ran my debit card, and to my amazement it came up denied. I tried again, and still no luck- so I left the store without my envelopes. Then I figured I'd go to a nearby branch of my credit union, get some cash at the ATM, and get the envelopes. The same thing happened there. Now I am scared- I KNOW I have plenty to cover either of the withdrawals, I was just checking my accounts online on Saturday!! All I could think of was identity theft, or someone hacking their way into my account. By the time I got home, I was just a step this side of panic. I got online- to find out that my accounts were intact, just where they should be. So what the heck happened?? I will be visiting the credit union tomorrow morning to find out. My son Sean called to let me know that he also had trouble with his debit card, it would only work as a credit card- so maybe it was something nationwide. I just know I was scared.

So I went into the studio to de-stress. I'd been thinking about making a covered book for a friend who just got through some very difficult times with her family. Shannon decided she wanted to make one for herself,so we pulled out my hand dyes and painted fabrics, and anything else I had in terms of embellishments. And here is what we got done today, we are letting the glue set until tomorrow to finish.


And Shannon's--

We both used Angelina fibers and hand-dyed silk organza. I added some hand-dyed cheesecloth and some beading. They are glued onto the front covers, tomorrow hopefully we'll finish them. Unless we actually make it to the free yoga class at our Hari Krishna temple, then maybe on Tuesday!

I set the snowy mountain piece aside all week. I looked at it again, and I'm torn. I still like the idea of trying to capture this image in my head, but I've been thinking a lot about Nellie's suggestion to cut it up. Maybe I won't cut this one up, but maybe I'll try doing something like her ortwork technique. She has done such a wonderful job of capturing the many moods of Lake Michigan (or is it Superior, I can't remember!) with lots of small pieces of fabric. I have a sizeable stash of bitty pieces, so that would be very doable. I've got that idea in the back of my head. In the meantime, I'm posting a picture of the piece as it looks today, after lots of machine embroidery and some hand stitching.

I know I need to add some shadows in the snow area, it is just flat. I'd probably use a fabric pen, that would be the easiest to control. But I would love to know what you think of the piece so far. It is so frustrating when you can see something in your mind, and the efforts to bring it to life just aren't working. Ah well- it will either be successfully brought to completion, or I will have one more to add to my crap quota!!

I don't know if I will be able to stand another eight months of electioneering. I am amazed at the narrow minded stupidity that permeates some layers of our country. I am both pulled in and repulsed!!

Monday, March 03, 2008


I appreciate the comments on what you do with pieces that don't seem to be going where you want. Interestingly, two artists talked about adding more layers or cutting it up. I am absolutely not opposed to cutting up unsuccessful work- I just wonder if more abstract pieces would work better at that. Or, I could end up with a very abstract landscape! I may play around with my inks, see if some pale gray shadows could add some dimension. And I like the idea of just letting it sit for awhile, maybe later it will speak to me and tell me what it needs. Probably in mid-July when it is 90 degrees outside!!

So now I am reconsidering what to do for my PIF piece. I have a few ideas incubating- I just know I want it to be quality work. And the landscape I think will spend some time in the closet, until I'm ready to give it another chance at completion.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

After spending the better part of Sunday afternoon stitching---

I have decided that my idea for the snow-covered landscape is not going to fly,and I'm not willing to invest any more time in it. I got all the machine embroidery done, and it just looks flat and not so interesting.

The challenge concept for March is much more up my alley, the microscopic view rather than the 'big picture'. I spent some time looking through my photo galleries, and had quite a few I could run with- lots of flower closeups, but other choices too.

What do you do when a piece is not meeting your expectations? Do you keep plugging away, hoping that more work will make it successful? Or are you willing to abandon a piece mid-stream? and, if you do abandon a piece, what do you do with those UFO's?
Updates. . .

I don't have pictures yet, but I have made progress on the landscape for PIF. I have the mountains fused to the sky, did machine embroidery until my bobbin ran out, and then did some hand embroidery over that so I could see if it would give me the effect I want. So far, I am happy. And, I am happy to finally have a use for my Tsukineko inks and fabric markers, they were part of the process too! So maybe later tonight I will have enough done for a picture.

Sharon B. has posted the concept and colors for the March TIF challenge. I like the concept, paying attention to the details. The color palette I'm not so sure about, it looks pretty dark to me. So the jury is out as to whether I'll use it or not. It looks like a fall palette to me, wonder if that is because Sharon is in Australia, where fall is on its way? Me, I am ready for spring greens and yellows!

As for the concept, initially my mind went right to the many closeup photos I've taken since I got my Canon digital. I love the macro feature! I like nature images, and have plenty of my own to choose from. Then I cruised around the webring, reading some other posts on the March challenge. One got me thinking in another direction. Details, when I worked as a mental health therapist, it was all about the details. The unspoken information, eye contact (or lack thereof), body language- all that played into how I viewed the client and our work. How I would translate that into a visual image, I have no idea at this point- but it is something to ponder while I'm stitching on the PIF piece.

And, Karey Bresenhan announced on the Quiltart list that there will be a journal quilt exhibit this year. It will have a theme (Elements- Fire, Air, Water, Earth), and will be juried so they can control the size of the exhibit. So I googled elements, and came up with some interesting sites and information. I also found several quizzes to help you determine which element you are. Mostly, I come up as Earth. Interestingly, I also learned that Jung's personality theories are based on the early philosophers' ideas about the elements, which in turn influenced other theories of personality- like the Meyers-Briggs. I have plenty of time for this one, but it would be fun to come up an image that integrated both my love of nature, and something related to my 'other' profession.

Off to church, and then to stitch!