Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Handy Hubby

My husband is very talented and has always been a woodworker (as a hobby). He has made at least half of the furniture in our house. He's worked a lot in hardwoods over the years but has turned his talents towards the more weathered look (at my request). He doesn't use a pattern, just draws what he wants, takes measurements of the space and dives in.
He just finished this piece that fits in a corner in our kitchen/family room area.
This kind of furniture with all the distressing is harder to do than a finished cherry piece. To distress it to the point where it doesn't look manufactured is a difficult task. I'm still playing with what to put on the shelves, trying out different looks.
The bottom shelf for now is a designated Easter shelf. My granddaughter who arrives on Saturday will love it.
I've also been working on the guest room upstairs. My hubby came through again and made some pieces for the room, painted with different colors and then weathered and distressed to bring it down to underneath layers of color. The look is great, just got them set up so I'm not finished fixing them yet but it's been great fun.  
This piece he made a while back for the adjoining bathroom but it was the basis for the other two pieces.
He also made a shelf in the same style. To decorate, I used lots of Raku, an old wood plane etc..the top shelf still needs work.
And a side view - You can really see the distressing - It's a great look for this room.
Down in his workshop, he decided to build a cabinet to hold his very best tools. He had seen something like this a a woodworking magazine. Over the years, he's treated himself to some wonderful planes and chisels but never had a good place to keep them. Apparently there's an art to storing good tools just like we have our unspoken rules for storing quilting supplies
The doors open to display and hold many tools, quite heavy but my husband used piano hinges down the length for strength.
 And closed....
How clever is he and lucky I am to have him - Love you dear hubby!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

And the Results

Off the subject for a moment, in my last post, I was mentioning the drainer type plastic things we used to do the microwave ice dyeing. Kate bought them at the dollar store, so off I went this morning to find them. Lo and behold, they were right in the front - paper plate holders. Since I don't use paper plates, I never made the connection. A pack of 4 for $1.00 so 16 should do me for a while and such pretty colors. If you're interested in trying this, these work very well.
Back on track, I finally washed out my fabrics from our Mondays meeting with Fiber Junkies. I used the washing machines "rinse cycle" to rinse them first in cold water.  I then washed them in hot water with synthrapol. I was happy with the results although some pieces are so busy, I'm at a loss as to how to use them. I'm hoping to have a mini brainstorming session with these girlfriends to get some ideas. 

 This piece used 3 colors of dye and 2 layers of fabric. A soda ash treated piece of fabric was laid on bottom of bowl (see piece below), then a plastic drain on top of that and then the second layer of fabric with ice and dye. As the ice melted, the dyes would strike the top fabric and eventually drip on down to the fabric on the bottom.
 The bottom fabric has the same colors but a softer look.
 This piece I really liked, again very busy but I love the colors.
 This one was our imitation of Gens (previous post) we all fell in love with and had to do ourselves.
 This one used 3 colors including "Watermelon" - a dye color Kate brought and was anxious to try - pretty and it really does look like watermelon.
And Yes, the good old clean up rag - sometimes it's great, sometimes not. This is prettier here than in person, has lots of dye powder dots on it but maybe I'll do something over it, still so much fun not knowing what you'll get.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Microwave Ice Dyeing

Our Fiber Junkies group met on Monday at my home to do some microwave ice dyeing. Kate and Denny had worked out all the kinks, brought the oversized microwave and bowls and prepared the way for us. Needless to say, everything used was strictly for creating art. It was a beautiful day and we could work on the deck as well as the studio. Excitement filled the air as we prepared for the first piece "to go in the oven". 
  A plastic type drainer, purchased at the dollar store, was placed in the bottom of a microwaveable  bowl so the fabric would not be sitting in liquid at the end of the process. Most of us used a mercerized broadcloth cotton which was soaked in a solution of soda ash first, next step - to scrunch it up and place on top of the drainer in the bowl.
 Next came the ice. Denny brought a great ice crusher - think it was called a Ninja. It used a pulsating action giving you a variety of sizes of ice - most of the time a few seconds did the trick.
 A layer of ice was placed on top of the fabric, both crushed and very small cubes.
 Next came the powdered dye - protecting ourselves with a mask and rubber gloves, we used a plastic spoon to sprinkle dye over the top of the ice. Generally speaking 2 - 3 colors seemed to work well.
 Here is color # 2....
 and the third color.
 The container was then covered with a lid or plastic wrap and nuked for around 4 mins give or take. If the ice had not fully melted, it was nuked a little more. As the ice melted, the dyes would strike the fabric, so it was important that all the ice melted.
 Here is one "hot out of the oven" being rinsed in the sink. If you try this, a good idea to allow everything to cool down for a spell as it can be quite hot.
 And another beauty.
 I think we had some good results. The fabrics shown have just been rinsed and not washed in synthrapol so final results are not in yet. We all promised to bring them to the next meeting.
 This one we all drooled over, we then had to go and do the same colors for ourselves.
 Val has such an eye for color; we all marvel at what she does.
 and the finished piece.
 Mary overdyed some peach colored wool: I liked the results after rinsing. It will be interesting to see how wool handles this type of technique.
On a lighter note, Val's long hair kept getting in the way so a grocery bag made a great tie back, we quilters are so good at improvising.
We also had a fabulous Show and Tell. We missed our February meeting due to bad weather so we had a lot of catching up to do. More on that in the next post.

Friday, March 20, 2015

PTA Retreat 2015

Our 7th annual PTA retreat was last week and it was as wonderful as always. I'm late reporting this year as I had to leave the retreat a day early and drive to Florida for my nephews' wedding, another fun time. I just got home and am still playing catch up, both on sleep, laundry and dust bunnies. Our group was a little smaller this year as Georgia and Lynne got sick at the last minute; we missed them and the funny antics they bring to this gathering.
 We had our usual happy hour with plenty of bubbly and lots of wonderful snick snacks.
 We always have our "questions" which are great fun and get us laughing. This year one was - name 3 things people don't know about you, one has to be a lie. So we had to guess the person and also the lie.
 Kate missed our Christmas party where we give "white elephants" as gifts so we decided to give her the whole lot of those that were really "unwanted". They were waiting for her under a cover on her bed. What a surprise. This hat is one that Mary opened and it's actually a heavy paper accordion vase that also works as a hat, looks cute on Kate but a little tight she admits.
So here we are back in the community room where we are more serious or try to be to get some quilts made. Mary, Kate, Gen and I decided to work on the same pattern. This was fun to see how different they looked made in other fabric choices. Mary has a lot of Japanese prints and made her quilt with a red sashing. It was beautiful when done.
 Gen worked on Indigo with a dark blue sashing; I was doing Indigo also but a different look.
 Barbara was working on a funky type block and I will be anxious to see it finished.
 Leigh Anne was working on finishing up several projects one of which is this wonderful piece.
 Kate also worked on the same quilt as ours only using a bigger block - interesting to see it in a bigger version. I really like this pattern, the way it gives the illusion of being woven.
Here is the one I was working on using very dark Indigos and white. I still have to put a border on it but it's off to a good start. I was afraid the white might be too strong but in seeing it sewn up where the strips are now more narrow, think it works fine.
Unfortunately, having to leave a day early cost me the opportunity to see many more finished or further along pieces.
A wonderful time was had by all and we are already booked for next year.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Problems and Solutions

My PTA retreat is coming up next week,...we are all excited, getting ready and of course trying to come up with a project that will not be too intense so we can enjoy the camaraderie.  I often work on the same thing as Kate and Mary...we started this at the first retreat doing I Spy quilts and being able to pool our fabric for lots of choices. It has been so much fun, we've kind of stuck to this plan every year. This year we're doing the same pattern, different fabrics.
I have a lot of different Indigo prints. I've also created some myself but not quite as dark as this. I decided to use this to make my quilt and a sashing of white. I thought (after cutting out lots of white strips) that the white was too stark and too much of a contrast to the very dark blue. 
I had this other wonderful piece of fabric that I thought might do well as sashing - just the white areas with spidery veins (and work around the dark blue areas) - but not nearly enough fabric and too much waste...so what to do?
I made a copy of the fabric - several actually and using an exacto knife, cut away the dark areas. I then laid the cut away area over a copy of the fabric and found a place that would blend...I did this for every dark area....a little crazy but it worked.
I made it into a silk screen and tried it on fabric...also sprayed it with water to see what would happen...Yikes...not a good look.
I really liked the screen and will use it but too strong for here...above, on a folder...
so I'm back to "what to do? again.
I thought I'll put it in Photoshop, go to filters and make it into a "photocopy" or a "find edges" both of which will turn an image into a line drawing...Success! You can see both images, the one on the left is the original and the right is the photocopy - a much softer version I think.
And here it is screened on fabric...I like the look - now to preview it on the Indigo fabric.
So here is a mock up of the white (many tone on tones) with the Indigo..
and here it is with the screened fabric....
hmmmm....still haven't decided. I think either way I'll be happy, but I do lean a certain way. What do you think?