Friday, July 31, 2009

Bluebird House Quilt

We have this wonderful Bluebird house;  our neighbor made it as a house warming gift. Bluebirds are apparently very particular; the house must be a certain height and face in a certain direction in order for them to make their home there. We must have "nailed" it.  It's been up since the middle of last summer and we've had 3 darling Bluebird families take up housekeeping. They are great fun to watch, very persevering, industrious and wonderful parents. My 4 cats love watching them but for different reasons! When it's time for the babies to fly and leave the nest, the cats are grounded - Inside! no Bluebird "A La Mode" for them.
I love the texture of this little house, the weathering of the wood. I've taken many pictures, thought it might make into an interesting piece. I chose the best angle of about 20 and cropped it.

I printed it on different fabrics to get a feel for what I wanted. It's hard to see but there was a big difference. The first is silk noil which is off white and quite nubby in texture. The middle was done on white 300 count Egyptain cotton. The last was printed on a tanish cotton - smooth surface. For this quilt, I preferred a very clear, true image so the Egyptain cotton was the choice.
Then I started to wonder if I would like a sepia tone. I removed all the color in Photoshop and replaced it with sepia. Since these images will make up the background, they need to be fairly subtle.
There is a big difference between the sepia and true to life version of the birdhouse, as seen below.

I love playing with imagery in Photoshop Elements - cropping images, playing with color and effects. It's endless what you can do and what I know is only the tip of the iceberg. One image can yield so many possibilities that can be incorporated into a collage type background which is the intention here.

When I print, I try to get as many pictures as I can on one fabric sheet. The sheets are time consuming to prepare so I like to get as much mileage out of each one as possible.
Now that I have some of the printing done, I will go through my stash and come up with some good complimentary fabrics for these images.
More to come.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I love monoprinting -  it's easy, fast and gives great visual texture to the surface. I start with 2 pieces of plexiglass, easy to find at chain home improvement stores. You can buy the "leftover" cuts from bigger pieces for next to nothing.
To start: coat the 1 piece with fabric paint and place both pieces together to make a "paint" sandwich (paint on inside).
Pull the 2 pieces apart to see the wonderful patterning -  both pieces can be used for printing.
Place the fabric down and using a brayer, roll over the surface to insure a connection between paint and fabric. You'll see the paint seeping through the fabric, which means you've used enough paint. Let dry and heat set with an iron.
The finished piece - I like the texture created although I think I would have liked a little color on the background so the patterning is more subtle.
You can also print using plastic. The plastic from a dry cleaner bag is best - this was a little heavy.
Put paint down, very haphazardly.
Scrunch the plastic using your hands; this mixes it up. This is where a thinner plastic would have worked better.
The paints are mixed and ready to be lifted off the plastic.
Lay the fabric down and roll over with a brayer. There's a lot of paint seeping through so probably too much paint was laid down initially.
With so much paint, you can try a second print -  not terrific but I can print over this one.
With any of the prints, you can decide whether to use backs or fronts depending on how subtle a look you want.
Another fun technique is to coat a piece of plexiglass with paint and draw designs in it. I used the end of a pencil but any kind of a stylus would work. This was fun and freeing.
Next, lay the fabric on top and run a brayer across the top.
Okay, interesting but again wish I had used a fabric with a little more personality to begin with so this one may be overdyed also.
This next piece was first dyed in a microwave (a designated studio one) and then printed over it.
You can double print - print, let dry and print again.
I really like printing over a printed fabric shown in picture below. I just bought this fabric (on left) and love it.  It was hard to bring myself to print over it (on right) but it is interesting. This might be a good technique for those fabrics in my stash I'm not so enchanted with anymore.

Monday, July 27, 2009

AQS Show in Knoxville, TE

This past weekend was the American Quilters Society show in Knoxville, TE.  As typical of AQS, the show was wonderful, polished and the vendors great and quilts breathtaking! 7 of us from my PTA group drove up for the day. I must say, if you have to spend 2 hours in a car driving, these are the gals to be with. It was BIG fun! Equipped with walkie-talkies and home made chocolate chip cookies, we caravaned up to spend the day eating, shopping and drooling over beautiful fiber art. At this show they feature the guild challenges. A guild comes up with their own challenge and 8 pieces are chosen that best illustrate the challenge. The jurying process includes pictures of each piece.
     The next challenge was done by PTA. I did not participate this time but I was their biggest cheerleader. They took the word Laughter, which is 8 letters for 8 people. Each person picked a letter out of a hat and had to create a piece that began with that letter.- a very clever idea. So here goes - first up is L by Connie Brown. "L is for..."
followed by A by Mary Stori and titled "Ace of Diamonds". The beading on this is incredible!
The letter U features "Up, Up and Away" by Barbara Swinea. Her background piecing is amazing.
G was picked by Georgia Bonesteel and her quilt is called "The Grand Interferer".
Lynne Harrill did this wonderful pieced quilt for the letter H.
Jodie Smith did the next piece for T for "T Men". I love the vintage fabric.
Kate Weston did this wonderful piece E for "Egrets".
and Dort Lee did R. Her piece is "rearends", how creative is that!
It was a wonderful show and more to come tomorrow.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Garden

My husband and son are big time gardeners. I love the garden, love looking at and picking the flowers, eating the veggies but unfortunately have never been a gardener, but I do appreciate the efforts that go into creating something so beautiful/"yummy" or both! I've never liked the feel of dirt on my hands. It's kind of ironic as I don't mind dye, paint, paste and everything else that goes into creating fabric, am not embarrassed to "wear" my dye-stained hands out in public - but dirt just does me in. Our garden is beautiful this year. This is the third year in our home with many new plants and trees and with so much rain, they really took off! We have a Hibiscus with flowers the size of dinner plates. My son Mike has one behind his ear, you can see how big - just gorgeous!
Right now, it's covered with flowers.
We have lots of varieties of lilies, love the ruffled edges on this one.
and of course the purple cone flower.
But this is my favorite flower in the garden, the Double Delight Pink cone flower.
We've never had Larkspur before and I love them. What color and they stay standing after a heavy rain - a big plus!
My husband built a bird feeder we surrounded with Morning Glories, Zinnias and Purple Knight. I hope the birds can find the birdseed!
Celosia might be the most interesting flower I've seen, almost like fur and the color is amazing!
And our field of daisies.

Great inspiration for a quilt.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Party's Over

The Southern Highland Craft Guild fair is over, or at least until October when it starts all over again. We had magnificent weather, cool and breezy and not what you would expect for July. The fair itself was both wonderful fun and exhausting; it was great talking to and meeting people but I was grateful for those few quiet times. As of right now, I'm just plain pooped and don't want to think about making or selling scarves for a while. So I'm giving myself a week off, permission to do whatever I want, so I'll talk to you soon!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Come to the fair

There are still 2 days left to visit the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands at the Asheville Civic Center in downtown Asheville.
Outside the Civic Center you'll find wonderful sculptures.
and Dede Styles who dyes the most beautiful yarns using natural dyes. Dede is one of the educational demonstrators who works her magic outside. Here are some of her wonderful yarns.
Watch for Sandra Rowlands who is demonstrating the very exciting technique of sunprinting.
Wow, how cool is this!
And Alwin Wagener who creates amazing art with metal.
There are 2 floors to the show, the upper concourse which goes around the perimeter of the building and the Arena downstairs. It's a wonderful show and I hope you can drop by.
And if you do, please visit booth # 10 on the concourse level and say hello - that's my booth and here are some of my scarves.