Sunday, December 18, 2011

An addition to the herd

It seems that even when I am not looking for new sewing machines, they find me. Last month a friend gave me a Singer 27 with the hard-to-find Persian decals. Then a couple of weeks ago I brought home a Singer 128 which had been looking pitifully at me for months at a local thrift store.

Singer 128 before cleanup
The 128 has LaVincedora decals and had a motor and really bad wiring. With that and a price higher than I was willing to pay, I was able to walk on past when I first saw it during the summer. As I stopped by the shop every couple of weeks, occasionally I thought someone had bought it, then saw it again in a new location, each time looking more mournful.

I happened to stop by the store on the last day of September and learned that they sold everything half price on the last day of the month, so as November drew to a close I decided if it was still there on half-price day, I would bring it home.

Singer 128 after cleanup
And, sure enough, it was. My first look found everything was there except the rear slide plate, even some attachments in the bin to the side. Everything moved and the decals were in pretty good shape. I didn't bother trying out the motor, just got t home where I could use my socket set to remove  the non-standard bolt holding on the motor. I discovered the motor was a regular Singer motor, but the off-white light was definitely jerry-rigged, as someone had drilled a hole through the back cover plate to screw it on.

Nice case after cleanup
Today's job was cleanup and I was thrilled that the dust and dirt came off easily, leaving a nice, fairly shiny surface behind. Much better than I expected. Even the bentwood case cleaned up well. A good cleaning, some oil to all the moving parts and I installed a handcrank on it. And as a bonus, I found the case would fit with the handcrank installed.

 I haven't tried sewing with it yet, but have decided this one will be my portable machine for demonstrations, when I don't have space or feel like hauling along a treadle. And it will be nice to use for the children's project I'm planning at our next art show.

Now it's time to get back to the studio. More later.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's a wrap! December Tybee Arts Association Show

After participating in three of the Tybee Arts Association's shows, and serving as vice-chair for this one, I've learned how much work is involved in putting on an art show. But what a thrill when you see it all put together and people start coming in the door. And of course it's a thrill when people buy your work.

A few of the high points for me:

Seeing the excitement of a first-time participant as she sold her first piece.

Everyone dressed in their holiday finery for the opening reception.

Hands-on art activities where visitors helped make a mosaic and learned about clay sculpture.

Meeting people from around the country who are visiting Tybee.

Talking to visitors about old sewing machines and hearing everyone's story about their mother or grandmother's machine.

Meeting, in person, for the first time a long-time friend on an email group.

Explaining how the sewing machine works to a youngster who wants to learn to sew.

Seeing all the beautiful work artists brought in for the show.

Seeing the artists do demonstrations, and watching visitors get excited as they see art made.

Getting a copy of a local magazine with a nice article about the November show, including a picture of me at my treadle.

Seeing photos and videos posted online!

More later.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Photo Friday - fog on Tybee

It's been a while since I did a photo Friday, but there was an amazing fog on Tybee Island a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't resist getting some pictures. So, here they are, and don't be surprised if some turn into inspirations for new quilts!

More later.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some new finishes

I'm still here! I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. Life and time on the road has gotten in the way. I've had plenty of time driving to compose new posts, but never quite seem to get them on the computer!

In any case, I have been working on new projects, as well as visiting a couple of quilt shows and taking lots of pictures. I'll try to get some of those posted soon.

For now, here are a couple of the new works I've finished, just in time for the Tybee Arts Association show and sale this weekend. I've had so much fun painting fabric that I got a batch of silk scarves and painted them. I finished one bobbin work piece, called Specimen I, made another batch of sea turtles, this time using my hand-painted fabric, and finished up a pair of palm trees. I also had some photos of my work made up into note cards. All of this will be for the sale this weekend.

Enjoy, more later.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trying a new technique, bobbin work

There are just so many amazing techniques and materials in threadwork and art quilting that it is hard to decide what to try next. So I've been trying new things as they catch my attention, or as it seems they might be the right technique for a piece I'm working on.

And last weekend, while I was participating in the arts show, the other fiber artist there told me about a class she had taken and that she had learned about bobbin work. And she brought in a small quilt she had bought from the teacher of that class, Ellen Anne Eddy! She is one of the most amazing artists with thread I've seen and I love looking at her work online. But to hold that dragonfly in my hand and see the stitching up close was inspiring.

So I had to try some bobbin work for myself. Bobbinwork is not a new technique. I found a description of  "Gold Thread Embroidery" in the "Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery" book published in 1911. It gives instructions to wind the gold thread on the bobbin and work from the back of the fabric. That book is amazing, and shows just how much you can do with a straight stitch sewing machine. The original issue is available digitally on the Internet Archive, and there is a reprinted edition out there somewhere.

The standard way to do bobbin work is to draw the design on the back and hoop the fabric. Being contrary (and not having a hoop available) I set up the fabric the way I do for all my dimensional applique, fusing a piece of my hand-painted fabric over felt. I had free-hand sketched the outlines on the front, so had to go over them with a washable marker, then use a lightbox to trace onto the back. Next time I'll sketch on paper and trace or outline around the shape.

This was the perfect time to pull out the boxes of embroidery floss I found at a thrift store a while back. I cut about 30-inch lengths of floss and divided them, using three strands at a time, and wound them by hand on a regular bobbin. For the starfish, I used cotton crochet thread I had hand-painted, with a strand of metallic thread wound with it. One note, for heavier thread, adjust your bobbin tension, or use a bobbin case just for bobbin work. I forgot to do that and slightly bent the tension spring on my case. Fortunately, I could borrow one from another machine to get back to regular sewing.

Some other useful things I learned, use a top thread that is similar in value to the bobbin thread, and which contrasts to your backing, so you can see where you are sewing. And sketch out areas for shading on the back. Make the edges of each color irregular so you can blend colors and not leave a sharp edge or bare spot between.

I'll be experimenting some more over the next few days, including trying using a hoop. I did not have a hoop that I could fit easily under the presser foot, but since I realized I really needed one, I started a search. I discovered that most machine embroidery hoops are machine specific, and very expensive. But I found one site, CreateForLess, that had them for a very reasonable price, in a couple of different sizes and shapes. I ordered an 8-inch round hoop late last week and it came in yesterday (fast) and fits comfortably under the darning foot of both machines I use for free motion.

I'll have more on this later.

Monday, September 12, 2011

More painted fabric and thread

I spent the weekend playing with some of my hand-painted fabric, plus creating more. This is so much fun!

some commercial fabric, after spraying with water
I am using Setacolor Transparent fabric paints, which are applied like paint, but create the effect of dyes when they are finished. My two favorite effects are sunpainting, using various objects or paper cutouts as a resist, and using salt, which concentrates the colors. I am using Jacquard's Silk Salt, but kosher or rock salt works as well.
the fabric with wet paint
I spent most of the weekend working on a project using some of the fabric I'd painted on bleached muslin, and I'll share that as I get further along. But just for the fun of it, I decided to try painting some commercially printed fabric. And, I pulled out some cotton crochet thread and painted it. I used a little of the thread in an experiment in bobbin work.

So here are the results of this weekend's fabric painting.

More later.

fabric on right after drying

other fabric, plus one more, after drying

cotton crochet thread, wet with paint

thread finished

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photo Friday - weekend on Tybee

It's been a busy week, trying to catch up in the office for work and getting started on a new piece using some of my handpainted fabric for fun. More about that later. Here are a few photos I took on Tybee Island during Labor Day weekend.

More later.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekend at the art show, and more

 Wow, what a weekend. Labor Day is the last big weekend of the summer for our restaurant, and this was my first time participating in a show by the Tybee Arts Association, so it was doubly crazy.

Before I even got to Tybee, I had to finish the pieces for the show, framing them, making labels, pricing and wrapping them for transport. Then Wednesday it was a meeting for work and a meeting for last minute details of the show. Thursday it was buying a new clothes dryer, then spending the afternoon setting up for the show. Friday stuff for work, then the opening reception during the evening. Saturday work morning shift at the show, then back to do stuff around the house and take pictures at the restaurant. Sunday another morning shift, knock out some to-dos at the house, back to pick up art and help with taking down the show. Then take pictures and watch the fireworks. Then a nice leisurely evening and to bed. No, not that part, because the power went out about midnight and we re-opened the store, staying open until 4 a.m. Days like this, it makes me wish I drank coffee.

The art show was fantastic, we held it in a historic cottage on the grounds of the Tybee Light Station, aka Tybee Lighthouse. Of the 20 or so participants, most were painters, there was one photographer, two jewelry artists, one who made beautiful little "fairy chairs" from twigs, shells and other found objects, one fiber artist (beautiful scarves and other items) and one quilt artist – me!

We had a great turnout, with lots of visitors to the Lighthouse wandering by to see the show and many others coming from around the area for the show. 

I brought seven pieces for the show, all beach-themed, and all including various threadwork elements, including free-motion quilting, free-motion embroidery, thread sketching and thread painting. 

They were: Palm Sunrise, pieced, painted and dimensional applique; Day at the Beach, pieced, free-motion embroidered and dimensional applique, with some hand-dyed fabric; Sea Turtle Trio II, pieced, painted, free-motion quilted and dimensional applique; Tybee Fireworks IV, pieced, painted and appliqued; Lighthouse with Boat II, pieced, free-motion embroidered, painted and dimensional applique; Sunrise Lighthouse, pieced, painted and appliqued; and Lighthouse With Sun, pieced, free-motion quilted and embroidered and appliqued.

Palm Sunrise sold at the show.
We all noticed that small items, like note cards and small prints, sold very well, so for the next show I will bring my fabric postcards.

It was great fun and I am looking forward to next time.

More later.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Painted fabric results

I have been having a great time this week sun-printing fabric, and trying different resists and effects. For these pieces I have used seashells as resists, shapes cut from card stock, and string. I've also used sprinkles of water part-way through the drying process and silk salts. A bonus from the string, actually crochet thread, is that it picked up the colors of the paint so I have something else to play with. These were all painted with Setacolor transparent paints, diluted to different strengths.

I'm looking forward to working with these fabrics on some new pieces.

First, though, I have to finish framing and labeling several pieces for a show next weekend. I'll be participating in the Tybee Arts Association Show and Sale Labor Day weekend. This will be my first show with the TAA and it looks like a great one, with about 20 artists, an opening reception Friday night and the show open Saturday and Sunday.

I'll be back with my entries for the show soon.

More later.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo Friday – kittens

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit my parents and got to play with and take pictures of their new kittens. They were too cute not to share, so enjoy.

More later.