Friday, December 24, 2021

NY at Christmas

I am so far behind in posting...have had company for the last week and it's been a whirlwind of activity. My daughter and I did get up to NY City for the Christmas markets, something we started several years back and loved it so much, it's become a tradition.
We did miss the recent lockdown by 2 weeks; we feel fortunate to have had the full experience but also sad and frustrated that this is still going on.
We always stay in the same hotel as it has a wonderful location and far enough away from Times Square to give you some peace and quiet. It's also right around the corner from Rockefeller Plaza. 
We did get in the same evening as the lighting of the tree so it was a bit insane. There were millions of people and you could not get near the tree as the blocks were all roped off but plenty of other beautiful things to see in the city...the tree could wait.
This was near our hotel...
And this came to be our favorite deli that we had breakfast at every morning.
More beautiful decorations....
The first market we hit was in Central Park West near Columbus Circle...It had not opened yet so a great time to get pictures.
Walking along Central Park to get there was beautiful. It was cold but not unbearable. Wearing a mask was mandatory but also felt great as it shielded the cold from our faces.
One of booths sold beautiful wood pieces made from Olive wood.
and more Central Park....
I was surprised to see some trees that still had color in December.
Bergdorf Goodman's featured an exhibit on Gee's Bend quilts (a few months back) and clothing made using that style. The exhibit was down but they did have a few articles of clothing left and interesting to see. To purchase them, I would have needed a second mortgage on my $3,200 for a jacket...Crazy but lots of fun to see.
We went to lunch at our favorite place - Rue 57 and was glad to see that the first lockdown in NY did not affect it...just as wonderful as ever.
Walking along 5th Avenue at night is magical....all the buildings are decorated.
My favorite is Saks 5th Avenue which is right across from the tree and has a light show every hour for @ 5 minutes. The building is covered with lights which change patterns etc along with music. It's magical and amazing.
The tree...night 2 just as beautiful as the first night when we couldn't get near it...probably just as many people though.
Bryant Park which is in back of the NY public library is the place for another and very large Christmas Market...We visited it at night but also during the day.
Radio City Music Hall which had not closed as yet was such a treat. The first full night we were there, we went to see the Rockettes. I hadn't seen them for years and it was quite an amazing show.
This beautiful restaurant which was right across from our hotel is on our list to visit next time around. We didn't have reservations which on a Saturday night in December is understandable...
We came upon this near Central cute.
We also came upon this beautiful cathedral that was open and we had all to ourselves. We spent some time there which was so peaceful and an escape from the busy city.
On to the markets...
some beautiful views of the city

Jill and  I all bundled up...
And a selfie in front of Rockefeller Plaza...Merry Christmas to each and all and as Tiny Tim would say....God Bless Us Everyone!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

New Quilt, No Name

I started this quilt years ago at one of our retreats, got home, folded it up and put it in my drawer of unfinished projects. I always liked it but was tired of working on it and anxious to start on something new. That's probably how many UFOs get started.
This year for retreat....I decided to go back into the "dreaded drawer" and pull out some sweet, lonely pieces just anxious to be part of this world...this one took my eye....and the rest is history as the saying goes....... I can't say I finished it at retreat but made a real dent and was determined to NOT put it back in the dreaded drawer!
I had already started the quilting when I put it back the first time. I love doing feathers (here, feathered hearts) but realized how time consuming they are. I had quilted them down the middle blocks, hoping to fill in the sides with more. Plan B and common sense took over. Since I really wanted to get this done, I thought there's no reason why a more simple design couldn't be used.
so I some input from friends and did come up with this.
I filled the side blocks with a meandering type stitch done in gold metallic which picked up the gold in some of the prints. It turned out pretty and is hanging in the hall. I decided to make it my Christmas quilt...I know........not very holiday-ish but it is green and cranberry so close enough I figure. And because it isn't truly a Christmas quilt, it will stay up a lot longer than the holiday season....and so name...sigh..

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Heat Press Success Samples

In an effort to learn my heat press and the different materials I can print on, I created a lot of samples. The online workshop - Heat Press Success with Jane Dunnewold opened up a new world for me. Jane dealt mainly with paper and I am more interested in printing on a lot of experimenting began.
After much trial and error, I found that silk - many kinds,  seem to work best. I am a lover of silk and have accumulated a nice amount of different kinds over the years. Most of it is white or natural as I like to dye my own colors. There are 4 different mordants that silk can be used as a soak. (A mordant is used to hold the color in your fabric...different mordants for different fabrics and effects). I cut 4 squares and decided on 4 leaves that I knew printed well. The crepe du Chine in the upper left corner, has 4 squares, each soaked in a different mordant. The same group of leaves were used on each square. The leaves were also dipped in a chemical for a different effect.  Doing it this way made for an easy comparison. The squares in upper right used a silk noil that was dyed with natural Indigo and the bottom squares are silk broadcloth.
I also used other fabrics besides silk such as linen
Crepe du Chine did pretty well and the 
silk broadcloth (above left) did wonderful...probably one of the best. The synthetic gauze on the right was just okay.
Above is linen on the left and on the right is China silk also known as Habotai. China silk comes in a number of weights...always identified with an mm which stands for momme. The one above on right is an 8mm and a commonly used weight for scarves.
Silk shantung and silk charmeuse on top left and right. They were good but not my favorite although they look good in the photo. You'll notice letters in the corners which told me the mordant I used on that square.
I have a lot of old linens that people have given me and I tried printing on them...just okay...The China silk dyed in natural Indigo on right did a nice job.
Sueded China silk and mercerized cotton (left and right) did just okay. The cotton yielded the most disappointing results so won't be printing on it for quilts...will have to stick with silk.
China silk 15mm on the left did well and the silk organza on the right did fantastic. You're seeing shadows as the organza is so sheer and showing layers underneath. I love using overlays so I have been making a lot of organza pieces.
Next up is synthetic interfacing and rayon...both did well but not something I would reach for first...but maybe just to have another texture might be nice.

Georgette on left and chiffon on right...all fabrics are silk unless noted otherwise. All the sheers seem to do very well.
My very favorite silk for printing is silk noil...a very inexpensive silk as it is made from the inner part of the cocoon...and the filaments are not as long and luxurious as other silks, but the fabric itself has a wonderful texture, takes a dye beautifully and prints so well...I'm a fan...can you tell?!

I'm also experimenting with dress goods, some woolens I have and so far, so good....will keep you posted.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Black and White Show

The Southern Highland Craft Guild holds a themed show for members every two years. The theme of Black and White became this years choice with 70+ members participating. The guild is the home to many artists with wonderful artistic skills practiced in the Appalachia area; woodworking, jewelry, clay and fiber to name a few. 

I thought long and hard as to what I would create ......the choices and ideas were endless but eventually I settled on re-creating a ruin we happened on while in Ireland. This was on the Ring of Kerry.
One of the most refreshing things about this beautiful country is that ruins and the like are left alone...they are not demolished to make way for the new. The history of the land is allowed a peaceful demise in it's own time and way. 

To start this project, I first had to create a drawing to use as a reference/pattern. I needed a light table (which I don't have) so a make-shift one was put together. I pulled my tables apart and laid a piece of plexiglass over the open space and slipped a photographer's light underneath. I was able to really target the light to shine through the pattern where I was then able to trace onto my fabric.
I thought of incorporating overlapping circles but scrapped it quickly as it was too busy.
Next thing to do was to create fabric that resembled old bricks. I happened to have a stencil, mixed up several grays; white and black paint were also used.
Using a stencil brush, I was able to recreate an interesting brick wall.
I knew I wanted to use a sheer overlay to create dimension...Silk organza is always my fabric of choice for this. I painted it with Dye-na-Flow which is a very watery paint, leaving no hand (stiffness) on the fabric. I intentionally created lots of air bubbles which leave a wonderful mottled effect when dry.
I like the way it works with the ruin but it will also need a backing fabric, I decided on black.
I also wanted to add some kind of leaves, weeds, vines and a little experimenting. The rocks were created from pictures I had of taken in Ireland, I printed them out after cropping and enhancing in Photoshop. The leaves were replaced with vines.
Originally, I wanted pure black for the backing but fell in love with this black with gold looked like twinkling stars...perfect!
I wanted the finished piece to be 24" x 30" so I could wrap it on a pre-stretched canvas.
I have a set of 4 long and wide pieces of poster board. I can move them individually to change the size for framing or binding and also see the best area to use.
I marked the areas to quilt with chalk...since this part of the process can be very time consuming, I only wanted to quilt those areas that would show. I used a gold metallic thread that would 'hopefully' shine through the painted organza giving a nice effect.

Once the black backing fabric was quilted, the sheer overlay was laid on top and further quilted with a clear monofilament to hold it in place. The effect I was hoping to achieve, worked. The black fabric with metallic gold thread quilting did show through, along with the small flecks of gold in the fabric to make it look like a beautiful night sky.
I created some heavy vines and tall grass using thread and paint.
The moon was a white fabric, lightly mottled with a watery paint. The rocks which I created digitally were placed both behind the organza overlay and in front to give it further dimension.
And the finished piece...." 'Still Standing' - Ring of Kerry, Ireland" My husband made a black floating frame for it and it was photographed at the show which featured blue walls.

The show Black and White 4, will run through January 16, 2022 in the Folk Art Center's Main Gallery. The FAC is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, NC.