Sunday, December 16, 2012

A quilt finds a home

Fantasy Flowers II, sold
One of my favorite newer quilts went to a new home after last weekend's Tybee Arts Association show and sale. Fantasy Flowers II, which was sold, and Fantasy Flowers I, it's companion piece, were made this summer, using some wonderful scrap-bag fabric.

For both, the backgrounds were made with strings of fabric, cut a little longer than I wanted the piece wide, then stitched together. Since the pieces were uneven, I picked one seam to square from, then trimmed the piece to an even rectangle. For Fantasy Flowers I, I then fused fabric for the vase to Misty-Fuse, cut it out and fused to the background. Then for both, I layered with batting and backing, and quilted in the stems and background designs. Later, I painted the flower stems and designs on the vase, using Jacquard Lumiere paints.

For the flowers, I fused fabric to a similar colored felt, using Misty-Fuse, then free-motion stitched the outlines and details of the flower petals. After stitching, I painted around the outline of the petals, and some accents, using the Jacquard paints again, then cut out the petals.

Next step was stitching the petals, using the sewing machine, to a background piece of felt, then trimming the felt so it wouldn't show. Finally, I hand-stitched beads to another piece of felt, then attached it for the centers of the flowers.

Fantasy Flowers I
I had a couple of extra flowers and made one into a pin, which I wore at the September art show, and got such a great response I decided to make more as pins. The flowers are a lot of fun, since I use crazy colors and shapes, but time-consuming. They made a great display on a green pillow at the art show.

I spent yesterday afternoon rearranging and organizing my sewing room/guest room. I finally got it to the point where I have room to work again, so that's where I'm heading.

A flower in progress

Flower pins on display at the show
More later.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Look what followed me home

A few scratches on the bed and handwheel.
 I really haven't been looking for new sewing machines for a while. No time, no space. But sometimes they find me anyway. A couple of months ago my sister was at an estate sale and found a Singer 403, in the bottom of a case – no top, unfortunately, and a box of cams and a buttonholer. The price was right, so I asked her to buy them for me – then forgot all about them.

So a few days ago when I mentioned we were coming to visit for the weekend she reminded me that I needed to get the machine. I couldn't even remember what machine she'd bought for me!
A box with a few attachments and eight cams, and a
buttonholer were found with the machine.
Eight cams, plus one in the machine.
My cat, Pepper, has to check it out.

The Singer 401 series and the 500 series that followed it were probably some of the best machines ever made by Singer, and they still stack up with the best machines around. The 401 came with built-in decorative stitches, and used the black "top hat" cams to make additional stitches. The 403 doesn't have built-in stitches, but uses the cams – there are 20 or more of them – for decorative stitches. And the 404 was straight stitch only.

I have a couple of 401s that need some work, and a 500 in a cabinet that I love, but I thought a portable 403 would be a nice addition to my herd.

It's perfect timing, too, as I'm in the middle of making a batch of fabric postcards, and I love using the decorative cams for stitching on the cards.

These pictures are as I brought it home. So now I'm off to dust, oil and try it out.

More later!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A little catching up

Since it had been so long since I'd posted, here's a little catch up on what I've been doing.

The publicity card for the show
We expanded our business at the beginning of the year, which pretty much absorbed all my time for the first half of the year. I don't think I touched my sewing machines from January to June, except to do a little mending.

By June things had settled a bit and I started carving out a little time for my art, just in time, as I had been invited to do my first show at a local arts center in July

"A Quilted Surface," was a two-woman show at the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro, Ga. The second artist was a painter who includes quilts in many of her paintings. It was a thrill, of course, to have my first show, and very special to have it at the Averitt Center, as I had served on the board for six years during the planning and opening of the center.

For the show, I included a mix of pieces I had done in the past year or so, with a few new pieces I managed to finish just in time for the show.

Some of my work at the show

More work

A piece I finished for the show,
Other than that, I've participated in a couple of the local art shows, and finished a few new pieces over the past few months. I'll be back with more on that later.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A treadle transformation

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted. My life has taken off in some unexpected directions this year, pushing my art to the sidelines, but I'm slowly getting back to creating.

Rusty, but solid
One of the things I enjoy when participating in art shows and festivals is doing demonstrations on my treadle. Until recently, I've juggled machines around to take for demos, but I really wanted a dedicated setup that would be easy to transport. Over time I've acquired a Singer 15-30 machine that is a duplicate of my favorite for free-motion quilting, an ugly, but functional treadle top without any drawers and a rather rusty treadle base.

Here's how I transformed the base:

you can see the rust flakes
Working outdoors, I brushed all the loose dirt from the treadle. Then, using two different sizes of wire brushes, I brushed every area, removing all the loose rust. Then I rinsed it completely with water to remove the residue.

As soon as it dried (an hour or so) I began coating the entire base with a rust converter (sold under different brand names in the automotive department). The rust converter chemically converts any remaining rust into a matte black primer. It also goes on as a milky liquid, making it easier to see where you apply it.

after wire brushing
After making sure the base was completely coated, I let it dry overnight. Usually, I leave it at this, the primer makes a good looking finish for a treadle and holds up well. But because the treadle will play double duty as a vanity in my bedroom when not on the road, I decided to dress it up a little more.

I covered the Singer name and logos with paper, then set the base upside down. Using a good quality spray paint appropriate for metal, I gave it a first coat of spray paint. After it completely dried, I turned the base right side up and sprayed everywhere that needed additional coverage. I should have covered moving joints, but just avoided spraying directly on them, then made sure to move the treadle and wheel after painting.

applying the rust converter
After letting it dry overnight, I brought it indoors, then let it sit a couple more days before tackling the logos. Using a gold hobby paint, I painted the letters of Singer and the logos on each side.

One note on this, please don't take it as an endorsement to take the first treadle machine you find and start painting it up. Good quality, intact, treadle machines are getting harder to find. My philosophy is that the older and rarer the machine, the less I do with it, and I never do anything that can't be reversed to the condition I find a machine. 

after spray painting

with painted logo

I'll try to be back soon with some art!