Monday, February 22, 2010

"Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another." John Dewey

The past few weeks have been spent trying to finish up projects I started a while back, along with starting a few new ones. It seems when I'm working on one project it spawns ideas for other ventures so instead of finishing what I'm working on, I jump into yet another new piece. Of course that happens with reading also. I never read one book at a time. I've always got at least 2 that I'm reading; one fiction and one non-fiction. Guess I've got ADD or just trying to cram too many things into my life.
Whatever it is that keeps me jumping from one project to another or reading multiple books at once I can honestly say that I'm never bored!
Anyway, back to the reason for this post...
First, the project I finished 2 weeks ago and am in the process of framing this.
I showed this in progress a while back. The title is "Tidal Pool". The background was done on mounted canvas. Then I used a piece of dyed silk to embroider and bead on. I used some netting and chiffon as well.
There's even a piece of painted, distorted tyvek.

I attached the silk to the canvas with more stitching
Here's a close-up. You can click on the photo to enlarge.

After finishing this piece, I went back to a piece I started in a workshop with Jeanne Beck back in September. I started the stitched squares in her workshop by layering painted fusible webbing with painted bits of paper towels. Once I was satisfied with that I added embroidery and beading. Again, I've shown the squares in a previous post but I wanted to incorporate them into a whole piece. After taking a workshop with Laura Cater-Woods and seeing her chiffon sandwiches I knew I wanted to do something like that for a background for my stitched silk squares. I layered chiffon with fibers, skeleton leaves, feathers and gold leafing, added a piece of netting over the top and then saturated the whole thing with a 50-50 blend of good old Elmer's glue and H2O. Let it dry and then decided to cut windows in the piece for my stitched squares.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and I wish now I had just sewn them on to the background BUT I cut windows out so I dealt with the issues that came up. Guess that's why it took me so long to finish it. The windows made the background less rigid, flimsy actually so I had to figure out what to do next. Trash the whole piece and make another or improvise. I hate to throw things out so instead of just sewing the pieces into the window at the 4 corners I glued tissue paper to the back using the 50/50 glue mix, let it dry then used free motion stitching all over the background with metallic threads and I reinforced the edges of the windows with stitching to make them a little more substantial.The tissue paper really gave the whole piece more texture as it dried because I crumpled up the tissue paper then flattened it before gluing it.
Then I found some bamboo sticks in my stash while I was cleaning out my studio which I decided would be perfect to further enforce the stability of the piece. Then I came across some mother-of-pearl buttons that I thought would be great for adding to the top and bottom squares.

This is a close-up.

Even closer... The title is "Flotsam & Jetsam"

After completing these pieces I went on to finish an art doll for my friend Sandy. The doll is on it's way to her right now and I don't want to post a photo of it in case she reads this blog before she gets her doll. I don't want to spoil the surprise. As soon as I hear that she's received it I will post a pic of the one I made her and the one that she sent me. I received her's back in January. We have been doing art swaps for several years.
We decide on a theme and the medium and then we each create something and ship it off to the other one.
I received some beautiful creations from her. Over the years we've created art quilts with a Jimmy Buffett song theme, jewelry with just a summer theme, art bras with 60's TV show theme & shrines to ELVIS !
Lots of fun.
While I was working on Sandy's doll I had to start another project or 2 because I was waiting for the paint to dry. That's what always prompts me to start another project. If you're waiting for paint or ink or glue to dry, you just have to start something else!
SO....I decided to drag out the huge canvases that have been sitting around waiting for me to throw some paint on them. I bought the one for our bedroom over a year ago and the other canvas I purchased about 3 years ago. Figured it was time to jump in and just do it.
I seldom work BIG, I prefer small projects. BIG empty canvases scare me. But I put some music on and started painting. Oddly enough I finished the 30 x 40 canvas that I purchased 3 years ago first and I had no idea what I was going to paint on that one. The one for our bedroom was the one that I wanted to do first and I THOUGHT I knew what I wanted to paint on that one. Well, it's still not done. It's a work in progress.
The size is 20 x 60. It has morphed from one thing to another over several days. I have a little work left to do before I can say it's DONE.
But I'll show you the one I did finish. I've already found a frame and a place to hang this one.
I used a photograph I had as the inspiration. The scene is a river at sunset. The trees which looked like a big black blob in the photo gave me the most trouble. I wanted to add depth and texture to the trees and their shadows. Adding depth to black is really quite hard. I found the sky and the reflection in the water so much easier. AS a matter of fact I really got into this painting and the music that was playing was Puccini! Never really felt like I was a huge fan of opera, but boy did I really get into slapping that paint on while listening to it.
I tried Puccini with the other painting but it wasn't working with that one. The other painting has cooler colors so I put on some soothing Vivaldi and that worked a little better.
So here's my BIG painting. I really love the sky. The photo doesn't do the colors justice.

As soon as I finish the painting for the bedroom, I will post that. I am also in the final stages of finishing another project along the same lines of the first photo I posted above. It's a beaded piece of fabric that will be attached to a painted canvas.
Enough chatter from me for one day...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mixed Media Art Quilt Workshop with Mary Hetts

I had promised myself I would try and post at least once a week! Well, it's not happening. I have to confess that I've gotten hooked on Facebook. This time last year I was hooked on blogging. When blogging was new to me I met so many very talented people that I was constantly checking out everyone's blog to see what they had created. I was posting several times a week and I was online daily for several hours in order to keep up with everyone. I finally told myself that in order to accomplish anything myself as far as artwork or housework goes, I needed to 'kick the habit' and limit myself to just one day a week at blogging.

That worked for me and then my Facebook friends started to increase and I have been checking Facebook several times daily for months now! It's become quite a habit and I find myself not getting any blogging done but more importantly, not getting the artwork done that I had planned for the New Year. I have been pretty good about the cleaning and purging of my studio and the rest of my house. BUT, the artwork is calling me and I plan to ween myself from Facebook, just like I did with blogging.

The problem with Facebook, is that my high school is having a MEGA reunion in August and Facebook is pretty much the method of contacting everyone to inform them. Every time someone new joins Facebook and 'friends' me, I have to chat with them and then that leads to commenting on their photos and their status, etc, etc, etc. It's been great reconnecting with folks I haven't seen in 30+ years but I'm going to have to back away from the computer in order to get back to business.

Back to the business of making art! I will try to post weekly but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't. Hopefully if I start creating I will want to post my new 'stuff'!

Finally, the reason for this post is the workshop I did 2 weeks ago with Mary Hettmansperger. She's FABULOUS! She's fun, warm, giving and oh so talented. I just love her work. It really speaks to me. If you ever get the chance to do a workshop with her, I highly recommend it.

This is Mary demonstrating a technique to Alice.


This is Stana at the torch. We did a LOT of torching and a LOT of hammering.

These is some of Joan's work. Love her woven piece!

This is Kathy's torched copper mesh and copper piping.

This is Tracy's mixed media fiber piece. She made the copper leaves and the twined copper to apply to her fiber art. Love it!

This is Shelley's mixed media fiber piece.She created the copper leaves and branch to apply to her fiber art.

I didn't have the forethought to actually make a fiber piece ahead of time nor did I attempt to create a fiber piece during the workshop. I was having so much fun playing with the metal that I only made jewelry pieces and one piece for a future fiber art project.
Here's a brooch/pendant I made. It has a pin back but also a jump ring so you could hang it from a necklace.

This is a twined, woven and wrapped piece. I incorporated several of Mary's techniques in this piece in order to spread the copper ribs out to form the branches.This piece is a possible candidate for a future art quilt.

This piece was done with the intention of using in a future fiber art piece also. We'll see...

Ok, I'm off to play in my studio. I have a project to complete for a friend of mine and then it's on to finishing curtains for my bathroom. THEN maybe I can concentrate on the projects I have planned out!

I did finish a piece I started in Jeanne Beck's workshop WAY back in September. But I'll wait and post that another day.

Until your life creatively~

Monday, February 1, 2010

Discharge Dyeing

Is it really February already??? How did January come & go so quickly? I still haven't finished all the things on my to-do list for January... Oh well, at least I got my studio clean and organized, that was my main focus.

I took some time on Friday to experiment a little bit with discharge dyeing.
It's not really dyeing, it's actually removal of dye from the fabric. I just used standard household bleach. You need to rinse thoroughly and then soak in a solution
afterward to stop the bleaching process. I have read several articles on this subject and some say you can just rinse in white vinegar and that will stop the bleaching. I've also read that that is WRONG! That the fumes from the vinegar on the bleached items can produce nasty toxic fumes and that the vinegar will not stop the process. I have to admit, the very first time I did any discharging was with
softscrub cleanser. I just squirted it on the fabric, in this case it was cotton velvet. After I saw the amount of discharging that I desired, I soaked the cotton velvet in water for a few minutes to ensure that the bleach was thoroughly diluted.
Then I rinsed in white vinegar. That was SEVEN years ago and the fabric is still just fine. Not disintegration of the fibers have been noted. It worked fine on that particular application. I'm assuming since the softscrub was more viscous and sat on top of the nap rather than completely saturate it, that rinsing with vinegar was fine. Who knows?

So this time around with the discharging I had no other type of product to stop the bleaching except white vinegar, so that's what I used again. Keep in mind this was an experiment. Before I use any of these fabrics for a project I will watch them for further bleaching and/or fiber disintegration.

I happen to LOVE discharging on black fabric so that was what I used. I went through my stash and found as many different types of black fabrics as I could.

First up, is my very first experiment with shibori. I sewed 4 different patterns on this piece of black cotton twill then I laid the fabric on plastic and using a sponge brush, just brushed the liquid bleach over the gathered up fabric. It immediately began to turn a beautiful rusty red, and I almost stopped the discharging then, but I waited a little longer and got these wonderful golds with tinges of rust. I rinsed and re-rinsed, then soaked in vinegar before taking my stitching out. Then I rinsed several more times.
The next piece is black cotton broadcloth and I prepared this as though I was tie-dying.
I used rubber bands at intervals, laid the fabric on plastic and again used the sponge brush to apply the bleach. Same rinsing pattern as above.
This discharged to a lovely beige/tan with echoes of some green  in areas.

Next piece is the same fabric as above-black cotton broadcloth. This time I secured with rubber bands but instead of using the sponge brush, I soaked the entire thing in bleach. The rinsing process involved soaking the entire thing in water for a while then soaking in vinegar to ensure that it was thoroughly rinsed.
Again, this discharged to a lovely beige/cream/tan. Not as much green as the one above. I really like some of the patterns from the rubber bands.

The following piece is rayon velvet. Since I had used softscrub on my first piece of cotton velvet many years ago, I decided to try a bleach pen on this rayon velvet. NOTHING! Absolutely nothing happened. So then I thought maybe since the bleach paste from the pen was actually sitting up on the nap of the velvet, I would rinse that off and try the liquid bleach. VOILA! Little better. But since I had rinsed the velvet and it was wet,
I think it diluted my bleach a little too much? I'll definitely try this one again later.
I prepared the wet velvet by fan-folding it lengthwise then securing with rubber bands. I laid it on plastic and used the sponge brush the paint the bleach on the folds. This discharged to a coppery color that is very cool.
I wish I had used more bleach OR used dry velvet. Again, this went through the thorough rinsing process.

Next up is a piece I almost gave up on. It's not pretty but could possibly be used in the right project-maybe?
It was a piece of  black poly-cotton blend. I gathered it in sections with rubber bands and soaked the entire piece for a LONG time. So if any of these fabrics disintegrate, this should be the first one to do so.
I kept waiting and waiting and waiting. Finally, I thought there was a slight change in color so I removed, rinsed and took the rubber bands off. After the whole rinsing process I finally started to see a definite change in color. It discharged to a funky gray with some peachy/pink colors blended in.The original black fabric that was bundled in the rubber bands even turned a dark umber color. This was definitely a surprise piece!

The next piece is another experiment with the bleach pen. This time on black cotton canvas. I just made squiggles and swirls. Let it sit, then rinsed, rinsed, rinsed.

And finally-- this is the piece of black cotton velvet that I discharged with the softscrub oh so many years ago. The piece that was rinsed with white vinegar and is still intact. I made a little bolster-type pillow out of it. I think it's quite cute!

Time for me to get to work. I have more experimenting to do!
Live Your Life Creatively~

August Swirl Theme Reveal

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