Sunday, January 30, 2011

Catching Up

I have been working at art, although I haven't posted much of it here yet.  Here's my attempt to catch up!

The Interpret This! group comes to an official close tomorrow.  We've been posting our favorite piece from the year, along with thoughts about the group and how it affected our own creative process. My piece posts tomorrow- I had a really hard time choosing one.  Some were easy to eliminate, but there were three that stood out for me- not because they were perfect pieces, but the learning that went with them.  Click here to see what everyone has to say and post.

Probably the one I had the most fun with is this one, because I learned I can do realistic!

This one still makes me smile, I love the colors.

I also thought a lot about choosing this one-

I loved how the hand dyes created a foggy, mysterious world behind the fence.  I think it evoked a mood, one of my criteria for my choice.  But in the end, the fact that I used my 'fall-back' of strip piecing made my decide against it.

Although this group is ending, four of us that participated and one other artist are working together in the coming year.  We will not be doing the same pieces, but rather critiquing and encouraging.  The blog is private, which we hope will foster honest communication.  We had our first work-in-progress weekend, and I am happy with how it is going.  I think it will help me with my biggest frustration from the past year- namely, developing my own voice!  My goals is to use my own hand dyed and printed fabric in wholecloth quilts, a specific size, exploring symbols within the context of an overarching theme- seasons of life.  I'm glad we are only looking to do four pieces over the year- I could not do a monthly piece again!  I'm hoping to be more disciplined in my approach, and try to use my sketchbook as a tool to develop the pieces.

That lime green fabric you saw on my last post ended up in a third dye pot.  The second dyeing helped, but it was still a kind of blah fabric.  So I swirled it (from Benn and Morgan's Tray Dyeing), and poured turquoise dye into the bottom of the container.  I'm happy with how it ended up--

I'll only be using part of this, so I think I'll make a 'frame' to audition and figure out what part I want to use.  Since I plan to make all my pieces the same size, I can use it all year.

I've also done some discharge samples, and figured out that discharging isn't an option with this piece thanks to the turquoise dye.  I think I will be using white paint greatly diluted with fabric medium to give me the ghost images I want to print on this.  Shiva paintstiks will also be part of it.

I tried to get this new book through inter-library loan recently.

It looked really interesting, and helpful if I'm exploring archetypal symbols in my work.  I was told I'd have to wait six weeks to request it again, since it is checked out.  So I went to Amazon, where I'd first seen it for about $25.  No any more!!  It's not available from Amazon, just from other sellers, starting at $30.  I looked around, and everyone else was the same or higher.  On a whim, I checked out Barnes and Noble's website, and found it there for $24.  I didn't hesitate, bought it right then.  I hope it's delivered this week.  If it turns out to be a dud, I guess I can re-sell it on Amazon- they had used copies starting at over $100!!!

I have some silk scarves that I've discharged with DeColourant in the washer right now.  Photos when they are done!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why I Dye

The picture does not do it justice!  This is cotton, dyed with a yellow from Pro Chem that I've never used before, golden yellow from Dharma, and charcoal gray from Dharma.  The combination of yellow and gray makes some of the most glorious greens I've ever seen.

Originally I was going to use the Pro Chem yellow with cerulean blue in a snow dye to get the green I want for my next piece.  When I put the blue dye in the yellow, I could see immediately it wouldn't work- I had a bottle of baby puke or baby diaper (take your pick).  I did the snow dyeing, but not until I'd mixed up my trusty lemon yellow from Dharma.  (More on that later in the post.)

After I did the snow dye setup, I figured I might as well use some of the dyes I have in my dye frig just for fun.  I took the Pro Chem yellow 114 and golden yellow and splattered them across a length of cotton.  I wanted to add something, so I looked to see what I already had mixed up.  I almost grabbed light red- then I saw the charcoal gray sitting in the back.  I grabbed that, and liberally doused the fabric.  I left it to batch overnight, just scrumpled up in a container.
I washed it out this morning, and loved what I saw after I ironed it.  Those lighter spots up at the top just glow against the darker values!

My snow dye was much less successful.  It came out yellow, not green.  I now know why you don't use old snow to dye- it has STUFF in it.  Yes, it all rinsed out ok, but still- what a pain.  After rinsing, I dumped the fabric in soda ash again to soak, while I mixed up more lemon yellow and turquoise dye.  I laid out the fabric on plastic, and sponged on color where I wanted it.  

It is now scrumpled up in a container, batching under a heat lamp.  I won't wash it out until tomorrow afternoon, since turquoise likes a longer batch time.

I also grabbed three silk scarves I've had sitting in the studio since I rust dyed them last fall.  They came out ugly- so what the heck, I decided to find out what happens when you mix MX dyes with rust dyed fabric.  I soaked the scarves in vinegar, then chose colors.  One got charcoal gray, one got turquoise, and one got that baby puke/diaper color I'd mixed up yesterday.  After nuking them one at a time, they got washed out with the cotton.  Here's how they came out--

An improvement for sure.  I was floored at how turquoise the one scarf is- I figured it would  be more brown-y, since the whole scarf had a tan undertone.

I also decided the turquoise scarf needed more- so I screened on some DeColourant, using sequin waste.  It is now hanging on the design wall, drying.  I'll iron it tomorrow to see what happens.  Since turquoise is notorious for NOT discharging, we'll see what this new product does.  And regardless, I think I will do some more screening on this scarf.

So, to answer the question at the beginning of the post- how else could I get such unique, glorious color?  I don't worry about running out of a fabric, I can always create more since I keep a pretty good record of my dye sessions.  It may not be identical, but it will definitely blend and coordinate with anything I created with the same dye colors and similar process.  And, as Margaret Miller, says, why use four fabrics when you can use forty?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Interpret This!- My Last Piece

Hard to believe I've made a piece every month for a year with this group of talented women.  Here's the photo--

And here's my interpretation of the photo.  No realism this month, I wanted to abstract it.

I pieced the strips, then sliced them, offset the colors, and put them together with the skinny strips.  After machine quilting, I spent lots of hours doing hand embroidery, enjoying how the colors and texture of the hand stitching played against the quilting.  The yellow 'flowers' are torn pieces of hand dyed cheesecloth.

I thought the quilt needed more presence, so I backed it with a separate quilted mat- something I learned from a Jean Wells book.  The pieced part is bound with couched yarns, then attached to the quilted mat.  I really do think that dark mat lends the piece more presence!

Although this isn't a perfect rendition of the picture I had in my mind, I'm pretty happy with it.  There are some parts of this that I will be playing with in the next year.  Although Interpret This! is coming to an end, I'll be working with some of the members of that group this year.  We'll each  be working on our own goals, and I'll be blogging about mine.  Most importantly, it will be a piece a quarter, not a month- so I'm hoping to do more sketching, thinking, and developing of my ideas.  That's one of my goals, anyway.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

From Under the Smog---

That's what it feels like here.  According to the news, we have the worst air quality in the country right now.  I believe it- this California native knows smog when she sees it.  Yuck.  It is the perpetual dilemma of winter here- no snow (no storms), and look at the ugly brown inversion, the Utah name for this stuff.  If you want clean air, you better hope for successions of storms- which means dealing with all the other stuff that goes with snow.  What a choice!!

You'd never know it from this blog, but I have been working on some art.  I hope to have the last piece for the Interpret This! challenge done in a few days.  I have been working on some hand embroidery- as long as my hands cooperate, I enjoy the slower pace.  Can't show the whole piece, but here's a really close up look at what I've been doing.

I just love the texture that seed stitch can add to a piece.
And I reached another goal- the weight I was aiming for.  We'll see if it's still that way on Monday, since that's when I 'officially' weigh in.  But I am happy, it has been so much fun finding clothes I like that fit.  I even hit our local Saver's (a thrift shop) and found several tops I like. 

I'm debating going for another five pounds.  Tracking my calorie intake has become such a habit that I plan to stick with it.  It should make maintenance easier!  I've gotten some comments at work, but not a lot.  I suspect that the layers of clothes we wear in winter contributes to that.  We'll see if it changes with warmer weather.  Yes, I'm vain enough to like some comments and compliments about the skinnier me!