Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Tree...Oh Christmas Tree

Black Friday for us is usually "Christmas Tree" shopping. We avoid the malls, the crowds and the crazies. We drive up north of Asheville to a little town called Pineola. Pineola along with many other small towns in that area is Christmas tree country - it's a magical place. Farm after farm loaded with trees, all with the potential to be cut and become a beautiful focal point for many homes during this holiday season. For years, we had a real tree; then upon moving to Florida, we had to go the way of artificial. It was a lovely tree, but I missed the smell of pine and "realness" of a live tree. In Atlanta we had a real tree, but one we purchased locally. Now, in North Carolina, and surrounded by Christmas tree farms, we have the fun of picking one, having it cut on the spot and bringing it home - as fresh as any tree could be. Our Christmas tree shopping day was perfect with gray, overcast, wintery skies, a bit cold and just enough people to make it festive and "Christmas-y".
As we drove in, every tree became our "favorite"; there were so many to choose from. We remembered to bring our orange tape to mark our favorites and realized very quickly, many other people did the same - need to choose a new color tape next year.
Everywhere you look are beautiful trees. If you don't find one, there's always the next farm right down the road, but we found lots and finally narrowed it down to two trees.

And hubby had to stand next to them to get an idea of height and if they would fit in our family room.
So we decided on the second one; 2 young men walk around with a chain saw ready to cut and put it on top of your car.
And shortly after leaving we came upon another car with their Christmas tree wrapped in a QUILT! I couldn't believe my eyes.
On the way home, John was worried our tree might fall off the car and wanted me to watch out the back. No way am I riding the whole way home, watching out the back. So voila!, I knew our sunroof would come in handy - opened up, even in the winter! John admitted this was definitely a clever idea (as I say smugly with a grin)!
Enjoy every moment of this wonderful season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mushroom Progress

I've been grabbing moments to work on my mushroom piece - I posted a while back, the images that were created with the deconstructive screenprinting technique and real mushrooms. I liked the fabric but very subtle and thought it needed a little something more. I dyed this piece below which works well with the mushroom print but it's still a little flat - some silk screening on top is a possibility.
My friend Val has some wonderful silk screens, my favorite is one she did with cheesecloth to create an image and she did one for me! I absolutely love it and can see myself using it over and over for texture.
I decided to discharge color rather than add it so I thickened discharge paste with sodium alginate. Ordinarily, the paste is thick enough and doesn't spread but for screening, it needs to be even thicker. I screened it onto the fabric and let it dry.
Now for the fun part, to put on a nose mask, and iron, iron, and iron some more. The more you iron, the more color is removed.
You can stop whenever you feel it's to the degree of lightness you want. Rinse and it's done, ready to be used. What a fun texture this screen gives.
I had some other fabric I also wanted to perk up so I did a small portion of the cheesecloth on top.
I also mixed up some paint and using my favorite "stamp/stencil", I screened some areas on the mushroom print. I rescued this favorite stencil of mine at the construction site when our house was being built. It's used in tile work and I use it on just about everything.
It's very subtle, to the right and left of the mushroom.
It's such a fun little tool.
I did some dry brush work on some other fabric, using a dry brush and very little paint. I lightly brushed more color to pull in the blue.
And I still needed another blue fabric so I prepared a piece of plexiglass with the same paint that was used with the stencil,
did some markings in the paint and laid the fabric on top. I used a brayer on top to ensure a good connection with the painted surface.
And the finished piece.
Now I can start cutting and rearranging to see how all this goes together and what will work with what, so let the games begin!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spooky Old House

On a recent teaching trip to Greenville, NY, one of my missions was to find my aunts house - also in Greenville. There was a time in my life when I lived with my aunt; I have great memories of roaming and playing on the 173 acres surrounding the house. Greenville was and still is a very small town so it should've been easy but I'm also tapping into old brain cells. When I first saw this house, I thought hmmmmm... kinda looks like her house, but then again maybe not. It is abandoned, very run down and spooky looking. My aunts house also had a big front porch and barn off to the side.
My husband who had seen it in pictures and in person one time said no way is that your aunts house, but I remembered an old hitching post on the side of the house and a cemetary in back. So there you are - the hitching post
and an old shed. I love the wood on this. It would be great printed on fabric. The property is still beautiful with some great views.
And here is the cemetery on my aunts property. The tombstombs date back to the middle 1800s. The main family represented is the Rundle family, apparently the founders of Greenville and the biggest family at that time.
I remember an old slate wall surrounding it. Much of it is in good shape but some is falling down.

It was one of those days - a little overcast, cold, kind of eery out and what an amazing adventure walking through the tombstones.

And I do remember an old creaking gate which is still standing and still creaking!
John went over to the town hall while I was teaching, also knocked on doors and was able to get some history about it.
Some of the stones were knocked over but many were standing.
Very weathered, very interesting.
I wasn't thinking in terms of finding this so I didn't bring anything to do a rubbing.

This cemetary was very close to the homestead. You can see the house and how close they are to each other.
I also got some great pictures of the many slate walls and pieces of slate around the property.

What a great, spooky, eery, interesting adventure and walk down memory lane. I see a quilt in this.
PS - we found out the barn burned down and the original porch collapsed many years ago, still not bad for a 200 year old house!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Great Fabric

On my recent teaching trip to Greenville, NY, one of my students brought fabric she had designed and then had printed through a company called Spoonflower. It was beautiful fabric based on images from her flower garden. She used the photo editing program - Photoshop Elements, the one that I use. She took a photo of her garden, put it in photoshop, hit "filters" along the top, then in the drop down menu, she hit "artistic" and then "posterized edges". She had the Posterized Edges print and the finished product with her, but not the original picture, so I wanted to show you what happens with that particular filter. The picture below is from my garden pulled up in Photoshop Elements and then...
I hit filter, artistic and then posterized edges. I love this particular filter; it makes the print a little more alive and the edges more distinct. It's especially noticeable in the greenery in the background.

Here is Sheila's fabric; she was able to do all of this online, sending the photo to Spoonflowers with lots of options for repeats, mirror images, and sizes of prints.  This was a lovely quality cotton, silk was more. I was very impressed with the quality of color and fabric.
Sheila had also purchased some wonderful batik fabric that worked beautifully with her designer fabric. She made the top of the jacket with the batik and the bottom with her own fabric. Sheila felt it needed some perspective so she added some small images of mountains along the horizon, not only to break it up but to give it distance. She used the Pigma brush pens which are permanent and come in a variety of colors. They were new to me. I'm familiar with Pigma pens but not these; it was nice to see a new product and how successful and easy it was to use.
Next came some thread embellishment done mostly with metallic threads but just the right amount.

Next, some flowers from the print were backed with fusible web and cut out individually to bring up into the batik fabric area. I really like the perspective!
Just perfect!
Sheila promised a picture of the finished jacket which I will share with you. I know it will be wonderful! Another student, Sandy, started this "sampler" in class to hold the many techniques we covered.
It was coming out so pretty, she decided to make it into an art quilt and put many of the techniques in a sampler notebook for future reference and use. One of the things I love on this piece is the stone firepit, created from a photo of the one in her yard. I think it turned out really nice.
I also love the couching techniques (the leaves) which are hidden under a piece of screening (the kind you buy at home improvement stores). It's a wonderful "fabric", I use often. It softens the color and pattern underneath and gives great texture.
This is going to be a great piece.
Next time - more adventures in Greenville involving cemetaries, murder on the bridge and "spooky" old houses - all on my aunts old property.
Until next time