Sunday, September 30, 2012

Alzheimer's Initiative Auction Quilts for October

The Alzheimer's Initiative's monthly auction has opened today and will run for the first 10 days in October.  Follow the link below to view some wonderful little pieces - all proceeds go toward the Alzheimer's Initiative. Not only is it spending for a great cause, but acquiring a wonderful piece of art.  These small pieces - no larger than 9 x 12, have varied themes and because of their size can find a place almost anywhere in one's home.
     I am pleased that my piece - "Sh'rooms" was chosen for the auction this month.  It was created with all hand-dyed fabrics, beading, bobbin work and screening.  The "beaded dots" around the edge is my favorite edge treatment and one I learned from Mary Stori who is an excellent beader and fiber artist.  I seem to use this edging on a lot of things. My newest Alzheimer's piece will have it also.  
So follow the link and click on the bright pink word - auction which will bring you to the auction quilts page.  You'll love what you see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Small Works - The Last Leaf

I've been working on smaller pieces because the size is so manageable I can see results quickly.  Life has been hectic here and I'm thankful for the short spurts of time I have in my studio.  The piece below uses sheer overlays so it will also work as a sample for my new workshop - Layered Naturescapes. I started with one of my photographs, enlarged and copied on a laser copy machine. I then transferred the copy to fabric using something called "Picture Perfect" - kind of like an acrylic medium. The fabric has the paper photo on top.
I then screened a tree on top to add more dimension and contrast.
Next step was to machine quilt using a "glitzy" thread on the bottom layer.  A shiny thread will show through the sheer layer.
I painted silk organza using Dye-na-Flow paint.  I bunched the organza to allow the paint to flow into the valleys leaving dark and light areas.  I love using this paint as you can water it down quite a bit without losing intensity of color.  It also works on all fabric types and is heat set with an iron.  Nothing could be easier.
Once it was layered, I added a border on the bottom
and a small green strip on the side to liven it up. I found the darker fabric in my stash of scraps; it had already been screened with discharge paste.
I've used this screen many times; I can't stop myself - it's one of my favorites.
The finished piece has a small leaf on the outside layer - upper right corner, hence the name Trees III - the Last Leaf of Summer.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Good Morning

Well, it's been a while since I've posted, been doing grandma duty for the last week+.  My husband and I went to Atlanta to deliver a bookcase he made for Audrey's room and then we headed back to Asheville on Sunday morning along with Jill and Audrey.  I was in the "Girls Only" car to watch the baby while John took our car.  Jill and Audrey were coming for a week - perfect timing with Jill's hubby being out of town.  So this cute little lady below, now 7 weeks old, has taken over our household and every spare moment of our time. I've never seen so many things for one little baby including the huge bouncy ball (used in yoga) to lull them to sleep. The car was jam packed.
Back in my studio,  I did manage to pull out a panel I bought many years ago at a quilt show. They had it made into a quilt. All the squares were separated with some cute little block work going on in between. I wish I could remember some of the cute things they did, but thought this would be a darling baby quilt, so I'm off and running with a new project.
 At the time, I also bought some coordinating fabric and will go through some of my hand dyes to pull in.
I did manage to give Audrey a tour of my studio and showed her all the fabrics on the design wall. She's getting so alert and loves the color so we're hoping early exposure will ignite a spark for quilting.  They say things skip a generation, in that case she will be a quilter!
A grandma can hope
Til next time....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Layered Nature-scapes

I've been working on a sample for a new workshop I'll be teaching at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in February. I've always loved working with layers - especially when it includes sheers so I thought this might make into a fun workshop.  I wanted an easy theme and one where the organza would lend itself  to an overlay.   A foggy night along with a spooky old tree kinda came to mind.  I started with the moon and my stash of fabric which might lend itself to a moon. This wonderful batik below just didn't do it. 
 I found an old piece of painted canvas - a 7oz single weave which is very light weight and one I've used often in quilts. It was already painted but had possibilities.
 By adding some additional paint, think I turned it into a pretty cool moon.
 Next I painted the background using Dye-na-Flow paints along with painting the organza.  The nice thing about these paints - they are the consistency of water, go on beautifully adding no stiffness to the fabric.  An added plus - + - they also work on any fabric - synthetic or natural.
 When I paint organza, or any sheer, I like to scrunch it up so the paint will fall into nooks and crannies and valleys, leaving dark lines and light areas. I think it gives more texture to the piece and it's just  fun to watch happen. You have to let it dry completely before moving or you'll lose all the wonderful darks and lights.
 So here is the background fabric layered with the organza and the moon on top.
 I wanted a tree silhouette on top but my largest and most favorite screen was too small.  All my screens are screened on clear plastic (see the shiny plastic below). This is so I can preview a screen first to see how it will work before committing to fabric.
 I knew I needed to make a larger screen.  I have a Thermofax but it has limitations size wise and often I have to divide the screen into parts to get the size I need. I started with clear plastic - laid over the background and moon.
 Using my original clear image of this screen below....
 I laid it on my overhead project to enlarge it. By flipping it over, since it's transparent, I could get the mirror image. On another note, this overhead projector hasn't been used in 20 years - a very long ago Christmas present which is now back in my studio.  I didn't know if it would work or the bulb would be any good but I held my breath, turned it on and there it was - good as new!
 So I was able to make another larger image, by flipping and enlarging.  I usually wouldn't go to this much trouble for one screen, but I do love trees and know I'll use this over and over.
 I had to make this screen in 3 parts on my Thermofax below.
 My intent was to screen on the first layer - opaque fabric, do some quilting and then lay the sheer layer on top.  I wanted to screen on that also to create a feeling of depth;  the organza will tone down the first layer considerably making it appear as though it's at a distance.  A lesson I learned very quickly, when silk screening on a sheer fabric - the fabric can hold only so much paint. It needs something underneath to absorb the excess or it will smear. Ask me how I know this.  So now when I screen on sheer fabric, I lay a piece of muslin or other "unwanted" fabric underneath to absorb the excess paint (below) HINT some of these "absorbing cloths" make into the best things!
 And the finished piece....This is representative of what we'll be doing. Students will be creating a small piece, first painting the opaque layer, then the sheer layer of silk organza and creating imagery for layering.  Quilting with metallic threads on both layers will add a lot to the finished look.
Think it will be lots of fun.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Coloring Photos

I use a lot of photos in my work and many of them are older and black and white.  When I use newer photos, I sometimes turn them into black and white or sepia, I just like the look.  Sometimes it's fun to add just a tad bit more color on a black and white photo - not the whole thing but in a couple of places.  In the photos below, green was added behind the mailboxes and more green on the rocks.  That's my mom in the middle picture - a little bit of coral was added.   The drawing of a hand on top was printed on fabric and a tiny bit of fleshtone color was added to it. 
 There are many things you can use. One of the products I love is the Memory pencils; they're really not intended for fabric but for books, but since I don't wash my art quilt pieces, I'm fine with using them.  They are lightfast and fade proof.  Paintsticks would also work; when allowed to dry for a week, they are permanent and washable. But I love the feel of working with colored pencils - like being a kid again

Til next time....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another UFO finished!

I had decided when the new year began that this was the year to finish, to clean up or toss.  I've stuck to my plans;  this is hard for me not to be enticed by some new technique or fabric but that will be on next years list. One of the things on my list was to finish this beautiful top given to me by a wonderful group of friends from Marietta, GA where I used to live.  The group was/is called Friday group - can you guess why? You're right, we always met on friday.  I was with the group for 16 years and when I came in, some gals had already been there for 10 years.   We watched each other's children grow up, get married, have children - happy times along with tearful ones where we provided many hugs and moral support. This beautiful top was given to me over 9 years ago, all the squares signed by members of the group; all I had to do was quilt it.
 I thought this deserves to be hand-quilted and I did start with good intentions.  But my hands aren't what they used to be and the many black fabric areas - my eyes couldn't handle so I switched to machine quilting.
 Anyway, I did finish it, I love it and enjoy looking at all the squares that are signed by such very dear people and friends who were such a big part of my life.
Thank you Friday Group....I love you all!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Herbie the Handsome Parrot

A while back, I was working on new samples for upcoming workshops at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in 2013.  I've taught this workshop before - as "technique" orientated, this time, there will be a choice of projects. The latest sample was put on hold since our little granddaughter entered this world.  Life is back to semi-normal and back to my studio. Here is sample # 2, using bobbinwork and couching threads.  When working with couching threads, I usually prefer to use a decorative stitch;  the threadwork is more prominent on the edge.
 I used some of my hand marbled fabric for his tail feathers.  Marbled fabric is fun to quilt as you have a natural line to follow.
 Parrots are such beautiful birds; looking online for color ideas was overwhelming and amazing.  Their color combinations are endless. I like to keep the couching thread the same color as the fabric.  I use Candlelight from YLI which is soft and very drape-able. Stiffer threads don't lay on the fabric as nicely; when using so much thread, this can make a difference in the overall feel of the piece when finished.
 A little frog for interest - he is embroidered from the top with Burmilana thread and a size 16 topstitch needle.
 I also love Burmilana for surface embellishment.  My favorite stitch using Lana is the machine buttonhole stitch.  It makes such a pretty, clean edge.
 Lana is also a very dull (non-shiny) thread resembling wool which provides a nice contrast when used with the very shiny Candlelight. The leaf below has also been shaded with paintsticks - another favorite of mine.
 And here's the finished piece - Herbie - the Handsome Birdie.
Til next time....