Friday, February 25, 2011

And it all started with....

I had taken this picture a while back and brought it to be copied on a lazer copier; I hit some button that created this effect, which I love but don't remember how I did it.  I thought I would use it in my tree series.
I then found this next piece of fabric which I monoprinted and thought the colors would work well together.
In looking through my stash, I came upon this rice bag I purchased while on a trip to Japan many years ago. This is the original bag which I Indigo dyed some years back. I love the "mending" stitches (on right). The bags are traditionally beige colored and used in the rice fields for collecting rice.
The 2 pieces worked well together.
I love "faces" so when I came upon this in my stash, I thought .....hmmmmm..... perhaps it will work. The face is a drawing my son did and is printed on silk organza - might make a nice overlay
on this fabric with writing screened on top
and trees.
I like layering and this might work but I think it needs a little toning down.
So more layering and a good solution - go to a home improvement store for some screening!
Perfect for overlays and toning things down.
So here's the combination of fabrics so far.
I found this other sheer printed with a "half" of a tree, just begging to be used.
I thought it might work as an overlay on the original photo of trees (far left). I like it - it's subtle.
And the finished piece - "Trees I - Winter"
I'm having great fun working in this series of trees. Before they all leaf out, I'll be heading out to the Blue Ridge Parkway to take more photographs.
Til next time

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Handy Hubby

My husband John has always been very handy and creative. He was an art major in college so I guess that makes sense. Lucky for me, he loves to make furniture. He has always worked in hardwoods, but this time around I had a different request - to make a new piece and then age it to look really old. I think he nailed it.
He used a softer wood making it easy to distress, painted it (blue undercoat, white overcoat)and then put crackle on it which proved to be a bit overwhelming. He covered some of the crackle with paint, let it dry and then power sanded it to reveal the underneath layers.
Then topped with a glaze.
It's in a bathroom with beadboard. I think I'm going to paint the walls above the beadboard the same blue as the undercoat. And now for some hydrangeas on top or maybe some candles.
Isn't he the best!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deconstructed Screenprinting meets the Ink Jet

I've been working on small pieces using a lot of the fabric I made using the Deconstructive Screenprinting technique - it's been great fun although very challenging as the fabric can be very busy. I'm finding that using fabrics from the same set/screen such as the 2 below do well together.

This fabric which will be split and used on the sides of the piece.
I felt it needed more depth so I turned to my favorite subject and screens - trees. I took the picture below which was made into a silkscreen and one I use ALL the time.
I also loved this next picture I took on a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I manipulated it in Photoshop to make it lighter and more sepia colored.
It was an mysteriously foggy day.  I love the way the tree in the foreground is so bold and the one right behind it very hazy. I was tempted to make this into a silkscreen but didn't know if I would lose that effect. I decided to print this photo on top of my deconstructive fabric to give it a more layered effect. I only had that one piece of fabric so I was nervous I would mess up.
But it worked and I really like the effect. I also screened the other trees along the side strips to give a little more interest to that area but didn't like the symmetry. What to do - once it's screened on, it's on for good.....sooo...I took off the strip on the left and reversed it - a little more work but I know it would eat away at me if I didn't change it.
But I'm glad I did, as I like it so much better. I also like the trees going upside down.
So here is the finished piece - "Small Works - November". My son named it as he thought it looked like the fall.
The screened trees on the bottom right were done half in black/brown paint (on right side) and the left side with a discharge paste for an interesting effect.
I machine quilted the outline of the trees using a monofilament as I didn't want to add any further color.
So it's done, on to the next set of prints - Fun!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Alzheimer's Initiative & Bobbin Couching

I just completed my first "little" quilt for the Alzheimer's Initiative. To make it possible to use the flat rate envelopes for mailing pieces, each quilt must measure 9" x 12" OR less. They are fun to do and for a wonderful cause. I have just pledged to raise $1,000 in the sale of my little quilts. The pieces can but don't have to be related to Alzheimers: this piece is called "Hats Off" to a wonderful cause!
I love to do bobbin work which is working with a heavier thread in the bobbin, sewing on the reverse side so the bobbin thread shows on the right side.
Sometimes it feels a little awkward. I've heard students say things like - "it's like working backwards or blindly", but once you get beyond that, it's really great fun and quite easy. It's especially pretty when you set your machine for a decorative stitch and use the heavier thread. It's almost looks like beading as you can see in the details above and below.
or sometimes just a straight stitch to emphasize the shape of something like in the petals below.
To start, you need to have 2 different threads in the same color - the heavier couching thread and the top thread which can be decorative or a regular sewing thread. The threadwork is strictly decorative so using a rayon thread in the top which is a weak thread will work fine. There are many good couching threads available - YLI has Candlelight, Madeira has Glamour, and Razzle Dazzle by Superior. All are heavier threads and need to be used in the bobbin, they will not fit through the eye of a needle. Below is Candlelight and a matching color rayon. You can also use a monofilament in the top.
Because the threads have different weights, the thinner thread will wrap itself around the heavier thread and be seen, so it is necessary to use matching or clear thread on top.
To sew, sometimes it's obvious where to sew while working from the wrong side. On the red hat, the band on the brim and the circle at the top had already been appliqued down and the stitching showed on the wrong side. The lines were there as a guide. Sometimes the area you want to sew is not obvious and you need to mark it with a line of stitching.
Winding the bobbin is done on the machine, no need to hand wind. Because the thread is heavier, a bobbin will hold a lot less - so it's a good idea to wind more than one up front.
One of the reasons I love Candlelight and use it in my workshops is because 99% of the time, no adjustment is needed on the bobbincase. I know many fear touching the bobbincase tension. If you like doing this kind of work, it's good to invest in an extra case for that purpose. It's easy to adjust using the little screwdriver that comes with your machine.
On the removeable bobbincases, the screw is where you see it in the picture, to tighten, turn right, to loosen, turn left (remember...lefty loosy, righty tighty). The screw in a bobbincase is very short so work with a cloth underneath you - if it should fall out, you will find it easily.
Set your machine for a decorative stitch - this may take some experimenting - ones that look great in a normal weight thread don't always work in a heavier thread. When I first started doing this, I made a sampler and labeled the stitch # - a little time consuming but a good reference down the road.
Pull up your bobbin thread, feed dogs up and traditional sewing foot on.
Before taking the first stitch, pull the bobbin thread up through the fabric so you can see both threads (on wrong side). This will avoid a tangling or mess underneath (on right side). Start stitching using the marked line as a guide. The easiest way to do this is to watch the little groove going down the middle of the presser foot - make sure it's on the marked line.
And the fun part - to flip it over to the right side and see the pretty results.
Have fun!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sailing and Stitching

By now, you're probably tired of winter, looking forward to warmer weather, green trees, being outdoors and perhaps looking for some new and exciting things to do in 2011. If you like to cruise, eat great food, meet new people, create something new using many interesting techniques, visit lighthouses, see beautiful scenery and have the time of your life, mark your calendars for September 1-10 of this year.
My buddy Mary Stori is leading a cruise to Canada and New England aboard the Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. This is a beautiful time of year to be visiting Canada and New England - the leaves are gorgeous and the weather perfect. When we're not out sightseeing, we'll be having fun stitching on 2 very different and wonderful projects. There will be a dedicated classroom with 3 full days of instruction - kits included - all you'll need to bring is a small pair of scissors. I'm thrilled to be a guest instructor; everyone will create a small wall hanging utilizing hand embroidery, surface design embellishment and a leaf transfer technique I developed for capturing beautiful fall foliage.
Mary is doing a "Leef Peeper" case for glasses or scissors and teaching many of the beautiful beading techniques she is known for. Everyone will get to do BOTH projects, have plenty of stitching time and go home with a beautifully stitched memory of their time aboard.
This is just a small part of all the fun we'll be having - hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Silkscreens

I'm glad I picked so many flowers/weeds during the warmer months; I brought them home and scanned them into my computer. They're turning into some nice silkscreens and getting me into the "Spring" spirit.
I love Queen Anne Lace, especially the underneath side.
All photos were manipulated in Photoshop Elements first, to get it to this point. See previous post for details. Here are some of the screens I made from the image.
The underside of this wonderful weed is far more interesting than the top...
and made into a great screen.
I like this underside even more than the previous one as it's more cropped.
More lace tops....
into a screen.

I think I'm all set with lace screens.
 A couple of years ago, while visiting my daughter, I photographed this wonderful old chair in her neighbors yard. The neighbor moved shortly afterwards so I'm glad I had my camera that day. It's not often you see these wonderful metal chairs - brings back lots of memories.
I made it into a silkscreen.
And a detail of the seat provided texture for a screen.
My friend Barbara has a lovely garden with the most wonderful poppies, which I was able to photograph.
I manipulated the photo in Photoshop.
Since it was such a busy background, I cut the poppies apart and re-assembled them to make this Poppy screen.
And cornsilk from fresh corn on the cob - scanned during corn season. It was a messy job cleaning my scanner afterwards, but I love the screen and think it was worth it.
Some cool textures - anxious to try them out!