Friday, March 25, 2011

Photo Friday – Wisteria

I was away from home last weekend, and got home to find my yard draped in lavender. The wisteria is blooming. At this time of year the wisteria is as beautiful as something out of a fairy tale. The shades from lightest to dark lavender, the way it drapes so gracefully and shimmers in the lightest touch of wind.

The rest of the year, unfortunately, it's more like something out of a horror movie, strangling trees, creeping under the siding of the house and sneaking out to snare a foot or the lawnmower blades.

But for now, beautiful. I've wanted to make a wisteria quilt for a while, so I took lots of photos to help me capture the look.

Enjoy. More later.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mixed media jewelry - tutorial

A couple of people asked for a tutorial on the mixed media jewelry, so I've put together an outline. There are so many possibilities here that I've just gotten started and I'm sure everyone else can come up with variations on these basics.

Stiff interfacing (I life Stiffy from )
scraps sorted by color
Fusible web
Fabric scraps (and paper scraps if you like)
Fabric paint (I used Jacquard Lumiere)
Embellishments (beads, buttons, more fabric, etc.)
Jewelry findings (earring hooks, pin backs, etc.)
Sewing machine, thread, basic sewing tools

Cut a piece of stiff interfacing to a comfortable working size (I used about 8x10)

Apply the fusible web to one side, following manufacturer's instructions. Allow to cool completely and remove paper, if paper-backed.
fused fabric base

free motion quilted
Sort your fabric and paper scraps into groupings you like, and arrange scraps on interfacing (fusible side up). It's easiest to do this on your ironing surface, with a piece of parchment paper or press cloth under the work. Try not to leave any gaps between pieces, but don't overlap, either.

Cover with parchment paper or press cloth and fuse down.
stamped and painted

If you have scraps of fabric with fusible already applied, you can cut them into shapes and lie on top of the piece, then fuse them down at this point.

Allow the bases to completely cool, overnight is good.

(Note, I prepped several bases, then moved on to each step with all of them, made it easier to allow for cooling/drying time, the idea for fusing the fabric came from an article in Quilting Arts magazine.)

quilted, painted and cut into pieces
Choose a thread that you like with the fabric combination and free motion quilt closely over the entire base. Simple patterns, like swirls and meanders work best, as you will be cutting the piece up. Have fun and use different colors and different designs.

Prep an area for painting and stamping. Choose contrasting or complementary colors and stamp designs across the base. I used the heat moldable stamps and created simple stars and swirls. You can also paint between the designs or instead of stamping. I like the Lumiere paints as they have such a rich effect.

finished pieces
Allow to dry completely (overnight is good) and heat set.

Apply fusible to the back side of the interfacing and fuse on a single piece of fabric (or paper) for the backing. You could skip this, but it gives a more finished look to the pieces.

finished earrings, using commercial findings
Cut out your shapes! I used a ruler and rotary cutter to cut squares, then cut strips from the bases for smaller pieces. You can cut freehand, or draw or trace the shape on the back of the piece. Save your scraps as you can layer and stack them to add dimension and texture.

Seal the cut edges of all the pieces with paint or glue (this is the most tedious part). Allow to dry completely.

Embellish and add findings. You can glue or sew on beads, charms, buttons, scraps of the fused materials, bits of fabric, thread, whatever you please.

Wear and have fun!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Photo Friday - the pool

I know I'm a little late, but it's been a busy week. I didn't realize it when I took this photo, but it incorporates several elements we use in art. There's perspective, shadow and light, symmetry, asymmetry, triadic colors/primary colors, and reflection.

And for those who are still suffering through winter, there's encouragement that spring really will come one of these days! We are in full spring mode on Tybee Island, with spring breakers swarming the beach, and temperatures in the mid-80s expected today.

Enjoy, more later.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thread-painting and dimensional applique

I haven't posted many finishes lately, as I've been working on different components, rather than start to finish. But I have two new finishes to show, both variations on dimensional applique.
Palm rainbow, finished

I've been using dimensional applique, my term for creating and quilting individual components separately, then applying them on the body of the quilt, for a couple of years now. For larger pieces I like to stitch them right sides together, then turn and insert batting. But in making my dogwood pieces I discovered that technique isn't ideal for small pieces. Then I saw in a blog (sorry, I don't remember whose) a post on making leaves by layering several pieces of fabric with fusible interfacing between layers. You quilt the pieces first, then cut out and finish the edges.

Forget-me-not, finished

These are my first two finishes using this technique.

Palm Rainbow, detail

For Rainbow Palm, I used three layers of fabric, as I wanted  the leaves to be stiff. I thread-painted the leaves using my treadle sewing machine, then painted the edges. Then cut them out and painted again so they would be well sealed. I assembled the background, fused on the palm trunk and quilted
thread-painted palm leaves
and painted highlights on the base piece, then added the palm leaves, stitching them along the stem. The beach ball was also thread-painted separately, then stitched onto the base. The seaweed is thread trash, saved when washing new fabric. I stitched it, and the beads, by hand.

The second piece, Forget- Me-Not, also uses dimensional applique. I used only two layers of fabric, the print and a muslin, layered with MistyFuse, then thread-painted the petals, and the leaves. I layered the base and thread-painted all the background flowers and stems, then used a simple spiral to fill in all the background. Then I stitched the petals and leaves on, free-motion, on my machine. For the centers of the flowers I cut small circles of white felt, stitched on the beads by hand, then stitched them to the quilt by  hand.

I started off this year making journal quilts and trying new techniques, to help me find my way as an art quilter. I think it's paying off. I'm really excited about these techniques. They offer so many possibilities, and I feel I am getting closer and closer to creating in fabric the ideas in my head.

More later.

Forget-me-not petals

Forget-me-not detail

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adventures with washing machines and mixed media jewelry

Anyone been shopping for a new washing machine lately? Oh, my goodness! Last week our washer went out, just wouldn't turn on. Saturday my sweetie finally had time to take a look at it and decided it wasn't worth his trouble to try to fix it. It's been around a while and we'd had trouble with it before. So he told me to pick out a washer and he would install it.

So, to the internet I went. I had no idea washers had gotten so complicated. High efficiency, water sensors, impellers, and on and on. I knew I didn't want a front loader, but the top loaders were just as complicated. I finally tentatively settled on one that was available at the big home improvement center in the next town and headed out.

I arrived to find rows of washing machines and a salesman who knew his stuff. I told him which model I was considering. He didn't have that one on the sales floor, but showed me the next model up, which was very similar. At my request he showed me comparable models, but only the Whirlpool models had both a quickwash setting (for washing new fabric!) and the pre-soak we need for my sweetie's work clothes (week old pizza sauce.....) The upgraded model, with a cool glass top, was on sale for just a bit more than my original choice, so it came home with me. 

We got it set up yesterday and so far I'm pleased. I washed some new fabric and it did not come out tangled and twisted like my old washer. The regular cycles take longer than our old washer, but the clothes come out drier from the higher spin, so they don't take as long to dry. 

With all the attention on the washing machine, I didn't get as much sewing done as I would like. I had several things on my list, including framing some more new quilts. I found a bunch of nice picture frames at the thrift stores while I was out Saturday.

But I did finish up a few pieces of fabric or mixed media jewelry. These are so much fun. You start with scraps and strings, fuse them, quilt them, stamp and paint them, cut them up and embellish. Anyone interested in a tutorial?

I got a dozen pins finished and sent to our store with my sweetie this morning, five shamrocks, three squares and four flip-flops. I'm working on some earrings, too, and should have a good batch of both for the arts festival coming up.

Time to get busy, more later.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crazy busy time

Well, spring has sprung in South Georgia, and since our business is at the beach, that means things are getting lively. That means more time working, including this past weekend and less time for sewing and art. And not as many blog posts.

I do have a lot going on, though. A while back I agreed to donate a small quilt to a non-profit in my home town and when I found out they have an event coming up I decided this was a good time. First I was going to pull out one of my recently completed pieces, then I came up with an idea just for the event, but didn't have the time, so it was back to a completed piece. I just printed the label out and will drop it at the post office this afternoon.

Heat-moldable stamp. I cut the design from card stock to produce a
positive stamp.
The out-of-time idea is about half done and I'll finish it up and add it to my stack of completed (or near-completed) pieces. I have about a half-dozen waiting for binding and labels that I need to finish. Those will be the start of inventory for a booth I've signed up for at ARTsFEST, which will be held April 2 at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

A requirement to have a booth at the festival is that you demonstrate art techniques, as well as have items to sell. I plan to bring one of my treadle sewing machines and demonstrate thread-sketching/thread-work/free-motion quilting. I got a great reaction to my demos at the quilt show, so I'm sure there will be some interest at the festival. ARTsFEST is directed mainly to children, but I hope there will be a lot of adults there buying things.

Fiber jewelry in progress
Of course a half-dozen art quilts won't be enough for my booth, so I'll bring along a large batch of fabric postcards, and I'm making some fiber jewelry as well. I hope I'll also have time to paint/dye some bandannas and silk handkerchiefs.

I got them in last week in an order from Dharma Trading, along with some Setacolor Transparent paints and Dy-na-flow paints. I also got some of the heat-moldable stamps. They are amazing! All this new stuff has kept me busy every free moment. I've created several stamps, and tested using the Setacolor to tie-dye a couple of samples of cloth.

Tie-dye trial, using diluted Setacolor. I didn't use enough to soak through,
so I painted the rest with a paintbrush.
Time to get back to my To Do list, more later.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Photo Friday - Signs of Spring!

It's gray and gloomy today, but signs of spring are all around. My plum trees are in full bloom and buzzing with bees, the camellias are finally blooming after being frozen all winter, and the daffodils are in their full glory.

Enjoy. More later.

This enormous camellia is actually two (I think) a dark pink and a white/striped