Saturday, August 29, 2020

Writings on the Wall

I've been making a few new things for my gallery space at Woolworth in downtown, Asheville, N.C. Business has been pretty good....not as slow as anticipated and here's hoping it continues.

I try and do simple pieces for my space in Woolworth.  Many who shop there are from out of town and want something smaller to bring home. I'm also trying to use up fabric kits I have made over the years and stored for future use.  I love the quilt above - right and thought of making it again...but realized ...not too simple soooo.....
I think this might work better. I do a lot of auditioning before making a decision...Here, I like the idea of different colored blocks in the corners but after living with it for a while.... no...too many colors and fabrics. I did however find this "words" fabric as a sashing ...oh how I wished I had purchased more.
I wanted to keep the words running horizontally throughout which meant longer strips in some areas. I realized I didn't have enough long pieces and the seaming (above) really is an "eye-sore" what to do?

I did have some of the printed fabric left and a lightbulb went on...I backed some of the leaves with a fusible, then onto some fussy cutting and fusing them down over areas that were joined together. The wonderful Roberta Horten always said...."if you make a mistake, repeat it two more times and it will look intentional". Well I did just that and I can't tell you how often I've used that advice.
I also thought to bring a little more pink into the quilt as a "pop" color...not too much but just a wee pop!
And the finished piece which is named "Writings on the Wall" will be at Woolworth very soon. If you're in Asheville, NC and want to do some wandering around, Haywood Street is a good place to start...AND if you should come into Woolworth, walk on downstairs and to the right to #235. I share space with Mary Stori.
PS...If you're wondering what this glorious piece of writing fabric's the words to "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Cool Little Technique

Years ago when I lived in Marietta, GA, I used to shop for art supplies at Pearl, very well known on the east coast....Unfortunately after many years, they closed, but in the interim, it provided many happy hours for finding new things to experiment with. I was into dyeing fabric so anything with the word "cotton" caught my attention. 
There were rolls of canvas for painting....cotton and one in particular seemed rather thin. It was a 7oz single fill (I had no idea what that meant) but it was how bad could it be. It was also a great price $3.00 a yard which ran 72" wide so really only $1.50 a yard. I bought a yard...drove home happy as a clam....and immediately dyed  this treasure that same afternoon...(Off the subject, the minute I laid this fabric down to photograph, Molly was on top of it!)
Well guess who was heading back to Pearl the next day for more....
Yup....10 yards this time. I still have lots left; it is a bit heavier than quilter's muslin but it's a wonderful fabric and I've used it many times in smaller pieces.
I always microwave dye it to add some visual texture to the fabric and take away the flatness. The process I use is quite easy...1/4 tsp. each of soda ash, mx dye and table salt in 2 cups of water for 2 yds of fabric. Microwave (in a designated microwave) for 4 mins on high if you have settings. It doesn't matter if fabric is dry or wet to start...each creates a different effect. You can halve the recipe if 2 yards is too much. Above, I used Havana Brown mx which is a dye that splits and gives off a grayish brown along with a greenish pretty. After placing some of the appliques on top, I realized the background needed some more "personality" so I went to my stamp and silk screen drawer.

I mixed up some textile paint to make a brownish gray which I thought would work well on the background fabric.

I love stamps with words...I use this one a lot....and my favorite....not a stamp but something

I found when our house was being built (top left) used as a base for tiles in the bathroom. It creates a wonderful and subtle effect on fabric....just a touch here and there.
There are several size grids...this one above is a little larger than the yellow grid. I like the additonal stamping etc. on the surface.

And now onto the tulle. Tulle, like ballerina tulle is a great "tool" - pardon the pun, in your studio.
There are many times when you have an applique with many parts and you want to try it out on different areas of your time was when I had to pin each little part to another area of the quilt until I discovered how to use tulle. So here's what I do...make 2 copies of your as a reference and the other as a pattern to cut up. Number each part with the same number in each applique....Petal #1 in the cut up is the same petal #1 in the reference and so on......
Lay a piece of tulle under the applique which serves as a reference. The applique pattern is used to cut up and make each part in fabric. Lay each piece on the reference piece on top of the tulle, pin or
use a glue stick to hold in place. Next you are going to iron the pieces onto the tulle using a fairly low setting. Use an old cotton hankie as a pressing cloth and also to protect the tulle from disintergrating. It can happen very quickly...Ask me how I know this.....see bottom right. Now if you're wondering why I just don't use the glue stick and skip the ironing....I've had it happen far too often where the pieces fall off with a glue ironing holds it better.

Even little fabric dots can be added to the tulle.....Now it is so easy to move the applique anywhere on the quilt to see the best placement for it. The tulle on the lower pictures is very light colored and hard to see....
When you have the right placement, it's time to iron the applique down permanently. Do this a little bit at a time by gently pulling off the tulle, ironing that section, pull off more tulle, iron...etc...It's a great little technique I've used time and time again....
Have fun...til next time.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Forest Relfection

Here is a piece I recently made...shortly before the pandemic and motivation was still a part of my life. I've heard from many friends that having extra and isolated time has not made them more is the case with me. I've tried to figure it seems it should be the opposite ...but in the meantime, I struggle along trying to find that spark of enthusiasm within myself to create.
I'ld been thinking about working  in a new that might be more conducive to sales.  I thought a long narrow piece would fit in many decors. I also like working in block format; this one has 4, stacked on top of each other. I started with a deconstructive fabric (light area) that had a needed something more. I thought another printed image on top would work if I fiddled with the print setting. I put the branch image in Photoshop, reduced the opacity and printed on top of the leaf....I think the effect turned out subtle and effective.
On to block #2 which used a commercial print - pretty but needed a little something screen or tulle. I often use tulle as an overlay to tone or soften fabrics underneath. Tulle comes in all colors, runs very wide and is inexpensive. Look for it in sewing stores...not a quilt shop.

When I decide to use a silk screen, I like to do a preview first as the paint sets up quickly and pretty hard to remove once it's on there. When I make a screen, I also screen the image on clear plastic (upper left) so I can lay it over the area to see how it will work....a really good tool in designing. I use Speedball screening ink for fabric which is very thick, great pigment and comes in lots of colors.

Here is the second block in the sequence....
The third block brings in the theme of trees again but also needed something more and different on the block....when in doubt, add some writing is my motto. My go-to are screens I made years ago of my grandmother's writing from one of her hand-written cookbooks. It adds a personal touch and the haphazard structure of writing lends an artistic quality to the look. It really doesn't matter if the words are "1/4 cup sugar or mix together" such as on this's the visual texture you're after.
Moving on down to the 4th block....I wanted something dark and heavier for the bottom block to "ground" the piece. I did have another piece of deconstructive screen printed fabric that worked well.

So here's the piece before sewing and waiting to be tweeked...I did edge the left side and top with dark fabric to finish it off and contain it....