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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Painting with the sun

I love the look of hand-dyed fabric, and have been tempted to buy oodles of dyes and supplies time and again. But realistically, until I have a better setup, I'm restricted to smaller efforts.

So yesterday I pulled out the Setacolor transparent paints, some unbleached muslin and the bag of seashells I'd picked up on the beach a couple of weeks ago. I thought the shells would make a great resist for sun painting.

What I like about this process is that you can do it on a small scale. I prepped a backing board (heavy cardboard from a large picture frame) by slipping it into a kitchen trash bag then taping it closed. I cut the half-yard of fabric into thirds for a manageable size. The only other things I needed were the jars of paint, small pill bottles to dilute paint, a water spray bottle and a couple of brushes. That makes it do-able in my tiny kitchen.

I think the results are worth the effort. I finished two pieces last night (drying the second under a lamp) and have another sitting in the sun now. For the one shown I used three colors of paint, green, blue and teal, diluted at about half paint, half water. After painting I placed the seashells, let it dry completely, then ironed to heat set.

These two pieces will be backgrounds for my next sea turtles.

That's not all I'm working on, of course. I've been rotating through projects, piecing a background for one, painting a section on another, fusing fabric for a section of another. I'll have more later.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A quilty kind of week

Someone on one of my email lists asked if quilty was a word, and the decision was that if we use it enough, it is. And since it fits this week....

Monday started the week with a  meeting with my new art-quilt friend who I met at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago. We both brought things for show and tell, me my quilts, her some works in progress and pictures of the amazing dolls and other items she's made. We talked for two hours about fabric and supplies and publishing and studios and sewing machines and a zillion other things, only breaking off when we realized our SOs/husbands would be wondering where we were. Such fun!

Tuesday it was on to provide the program at my quilt guild. I focused on threadwork and my technique for painting my quilts. Great audience, of course, and they asked a lot of good questions about materials and techniques. My program title? "Playing with Thread."

Besides having fun, this was a great chance for me to review my work and think about how I'm adapting and changing my techniques.

Since then, I've been working on a couple of pieces in progress and planning a new piece. This weekend, I need to get several pieces framed – I'd waited until the program was over to make them easier to transport. I should have something new to post by the end of the weekend.

More later.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting real (istic)

My work tends to be more stylized than realistic, suns with wavy rays and little spirals for waves. I'm absolutely amazed and impressed at the very realistic works many quilters make, but don't have the desire (or maybe it's patience) to try those types of pieces myself.

But, I have been experimenting with something in between. After finally getting my Singer 500 fixed, I've been trying out thread painting using zigzag stitches. It's a completely different effect than I get with my straight-stitch Singer 15-30 treadle. And after making a couple of different lighthouses, I decided to try a more realistic version.

So here's my newest piece. The lighthouse and the boat were outlined on white batik fabric fused onto white felt. They were thread painted on my 15-30, and a tiny bit of fabric paint applied in the open area of the railing.

The trees were thread painted using my Singer 500, set on a simple zigzag. I used a tulle base in a hoop.

The background was pieced, using my favorite batiks, and quilted, then the components appliqued on.

The first one is finished and a second one in progress.

I'm debating what to start on next. More sea turtles or something different?

 More later.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tools & Gadgets – Silhouette SD die cutter

Okay, I sew on antique sewing machines. But I still like tools and gadgets, and just got a new one to share.

A while back there was a discussion on one of my email lists on software that let you create your own design for one of the personal die cutting machines. I was intrigued, but discovered that the software didn't support Mac, and didn't really "need" one, so moved on to other things.

Silhouette Studio work space
Recently a project came up for work, and I decided a die cutter was the way to go. I started doing some research for a die cutter that met my criteria. It had to work with a Mac, you had to be able to design your own patterns, and the price had to be reasonable.

I found the Silhouette SD, from Silhouette America. It had very good reviews, met all my criteria and I got a great deal on it by buying from

I've been using it to cut adhesive vinyl for the project for work, with excellent results, and tried it out this weekend on fabric, with acceptable results which should get better with tweaking the settings.

Here's a review.

heavy adhesive vinyl cuts very well
The SD comes with the Silhouette Studio software, which installed easily on my Mac, and I'm sure would do so on a PC as well. There's a good video tutorial, but I jumped right in and found most of it pretty intuitive. The software creates vector images, like Adobe Illustrator, which I've used for years, so I picked it up quickly. One of the nicest things about the software is that it will load TrueType fonts from your computer, so you can use what you already have. I only found one or two fonts on my computer that didn't work in the software.

The software comes with a library of 50 or so images, and you can download images from the Silhouette site at a cost of about $1 each. I like the idea of buying just what I want, rather than paying big bucks for a collection I might not use.

fabric prepped with MistyFuse
One of the nicest features, and one that takes a little practice, is that you can import images in other file formats, then "trace" them to create a cuttable SD image. I was able to import an image from Adobe Illustrator, trace it, and with just a little work, make it a cuttable image.

There are two ways to save images. You can save items into your library, which you will import to a file later. Or you can start a file and create the images on the file. You can combine these by creating new images or text and importing from the library. It's easy to create text and change fonts, but I found it a little difficult to go back and select the text for editing after I'd moved the cursor away.

fabric loaded on carrier mat
The machine itself is, I guess, pretty standard. You load the media under a roller and it stays in place until you eject it, useful if you want to make more than one cut. It has a cartridge with a blade in it, and three caps, which you use to change the depth of the cut. It's very easy to get the cartridge in and out, and change the caps. You can also buy special pen cartridges, so you can "draw" on your design as well as cut it. It comes with a sticky mat that you use to hold your media in place, if it doesn't have a backing to do the job (as the adhesive vinyl does)

in the die cutter
The machine is small enough to be easily portable. I'm planning to make a carrying case to keep it and the accessories in. It connects to your computer with a basic USB cable, or you can save the designs on an SD card and insert them into the cutter. I haven't tried that feature yet.

When you are ready to cut your item, you "send" the design to the Silhouette from the software, and choose from a large number of settings, for different materials, different speeds, and different blade depths. Once you've sent a particular file, the settings are saved with that file, so you don't have to enter them every time.

letters cut out
My first project was applying our business name to these buckets, using the premium vinyl from Silhouette. It cut well and looks good when finished, though it is quite tedious to remove the excess vinyl from the backing. After removing the excess, I used their transfer paper, a tacky paper that comes on a roll, to pull the letters off the backing, keeping them in place, then placed them on the buckets. Blue painters tape would probably work well, too, for smaller cuts like these.

letters quilted and applied to project
The fabric was a little more difficult. I prepped my fabric by pressing it and pressing MistyFuse to the back, using parchment paper to keep it from sticking to my iron. Then I removed the parchment paper and placed the fabric on the carrier mat. For the most part it cut well, except for skipping cuts at some interior and exterior curves. I think I had the machine set to cut too fast, so it caught, then skipped.

But a little trimming with applique scissors and my letters were cut out and ready to use.

I think next time I'll try leaving the fabric on the parchment paper and using it as backing instead of the carrier mat. I'm confident that with a little tweaking, the cutter will do a good job on fabric.

When time permits, I'll experiment some more and report back.

More later