Sunday, March 24, 2013

Drawing a quilt

Someone on a quilting group asked about drawing with Derwent Inktense™ pencils, and when I looked for my post about them, I realized I'd never written one. This is one of the many techniques/tools I have tried out and loved, but haven't had time to go in-depth with (yet!)
"Serenity" 2010, thread-sketched with watercolor pencil shading.
I got the Inktense™ pencils, which are a watercolor pencil with very concentrated pigment, quite a while ago.
This little quilt I called "Serenity" was one of the first pieces I did using the pencils. For this one, I thread-sketched the scene, then used the pencils, with just a little water, to fill in the shading on the beach, palm tree and water.
I hadn't done much with them since then, until last fall I bought the Derwent Inktense™ Blocks, which look like pastels, but are concentrated blocks of watercolor. They are a little messier to handle, and easy to break, but give big, bold strokes of color.
To draw on fabric, I use bleached muslin which has been washed and dried without any fabric softener, and press it onto freezer paper to give a firm base. 
Derwent Inktense™ watercolor pencils and blocks
For one of my first play days with the pencils and blocks, I just drew random seashells, along with a few other motifs. I experimented with dampening the fabric first, with a brush or spray bottle, leaving it dry and dampening after I drew. I was happiest with the results when I drew on dry fabric, then used a brush to very lightly brush fabric medium on. It took a little practice brushing with the shading of the sketch, so it blended colors rather than smearing them.
Too much fabric medium can result in bleeding, as I found out.
Sketched motifs using the pencils and blocks
I really liked some of my seashells, and wanted to do something with them. So I heat-set them by pressing with a hot iron, then fused MistyFuse™ to the back, then cut them out. I laid out little scenes, using some of my handpainted fabric as background, and cutting seagrasses out of batiks and fusing everything down. Later I quilted and added embellishments.
I really like the pencils and blocks, just need to spend more time to learn more about what I can do with them.

Quilts in progress using the sketched motifs
More later!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Organizing Time

Hanging sweater shelves and a clear shoe hanger hold
balls and skeins of yarn.
I've hardly touched the sewing machine in the past few weeks, just too much going on. But I haven't completely given up time in the studio. I've been working on re-organizing so I can actually get some work done.
While I'm spending most of my time at our apartment near our businesses, most of my sewing and art supplies are at my house, where I have a large (and crowded) studio/sewing room. I'm constantly thinking of things I'd like to have here, and over the past few months my tiny guest/sewing room has about reached overflowing.
So, over the past few weeks I've been putting up new shelves and finding new organizing tools. Here's al little tour of what I've done so far.
I really like these over the door shoe racks for holding small stuff and keeping it visible. They work especially well for the fat quarters of hand-painted fabric I've been working on, and all the small balls of yarn I've collected.
I have one more major project, raising the guest bed on risers and stashing under-bed boxes with fabrics I don't use as often and other items.
More later.

Tall shelves hold stacked fabric, bins of cut pieces and
a couple of sewing machines at the bottom.

Another over-the-door shoe rack holds hand-painted
fabric, mostly fat quarters.

Another set of shelves holds books, fabric paints
and a couple more sewing machines.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Inspiration by accident

I usually work in bright colors, but the piece I'm finishing right now is a little different, soft and monochrome, all because of some leftover paint.

Underwater piece in progress
A couple of weeks ago I was painting some fabric, using Setacolor and Dye-na-flo paints, and decided to try a version of snow dyeing, using the Dye-na-flo. Since we don't get snow here, I used a blender to chop ice for the "snow." I'd prepared a bucket with a couple of spacers and a can lid to leave room for the melting ice, then put in my fabric and the snow, then sprinkled with paint.

The melting colors looked beautiful, but when dry, the fabric turned out to be very light colored. Pretty, but not what I've seen from snow-dyeing with regular dye. It was an experiment, so no great concern.

I would probably have set the fabric aside with my other painted fabrics, if it hadn't been for the leftover paint/water mixture. It was a very pretty teal color and I hated to just dump it down the sink, so I grabbed some scraps of cotton quilt batting, and some cotton yarn and crochet thread, and dropped them in to soak for a while.
"snow" with paint

after the snow melted
The result was a very light green or blue green, depending on the material, and made me think of underwater scenes. They combined really well with the light blue fabric from the original snow painting experiment, for a couple of dreamy underwater scenes. They are not quite finished, so it's time for me to get off the computer and back into the studio to finish up. We have an art show next weekend and I have a couple of pieces to finish and frame.

And for my friends looking for more art quilt inspiration, check out this blog.

More later!

finished piece of fabric

leftover paint/water with cotton batting

dyed batting and yarn

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Year, new art

My New Year's resolution is to take advantage of the time I have available for my art, and do more art. For the past year, work has dominated my time, and it looks like the upcoming year will be similar. But, I have some time, I just have to plan and use it for my art.

I've gotten started on that effort over the past few days by spending some time rearranging and organizing my sewing and art supplies. It's not beautiful, but now I have a better idea of where to find things.

So, today I decided to do something I haven't done in ages, and paint some fabric. Some day I'll have a space for real fabric dyeing, but for now, I'm happy with fabric painting using Setacolor and Dye-na-flo. So, I cleared off the kitchen table, set up a work area with a trash bag over a big piece of cardboard, and cut some fabric into fat quarters. I could only paint one at a time, but as each was fairly dry, I hung it up and moved on to another piece.

I finished up with five fat quarters and a few smaller pieces. Now I get the fun of coming up with a plan to use them.

 More later!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Treadle On quilt gallery

A few days ago, on the Treadle On list, we were talking about how long we've been members of the group, and I mentioned that it was thanks to Treadle On that I began quilting. I found my first vintage sewing machine, a Singer 15-91, in 2000, and found the group in researching. With their help, I found my first treadle, and began my sewing machine collection. In early 2001, I participated in the first of many quilt block exchanges, and in 2002, I began a Treadle On Block of the Month.

Precise Piecing Block Exchange. The blocks are
3.5 inches
By 2004, I had a bunch of blocks from the exchanges, but hadn't quilted anything, so decided it was time. I had begun the Block of the Month using Christmas fabrics, and the holidays were on their way, so I set a goal of finishing the Block of the Month in time for Christmas. I finished the last few blocks, put the top together and quilted it on my Singer 66 Redeye. 

From there I moved on to other block exchange quilts, making quilts that were not from exchanges, and art quilts. And I moved from quilting on the 66 to a Davis Vertical Feed, then to free motion on a Singer 15-30.

Since I don't have a photo site any more, I thought I'd share the completed Treadle On quilts, and my two Treadle On mascots, which are called dremls. We won't talk about the sets of exchange blocks that are still waiting to be assembled and quilted.

Treadle On Block of the Month from 2002.
Completed in 2004, my first completed quilt.
My dremls, they travel with me to every TOGA

Red and White Block Exchange, from 2001. My first
block exchange, though not completed until much
Treadle On Triple Star. Quilt completed in 2010.
Queen-size, free-motion quilted on my Singer 15-30.
Detail from the Triple Star

Winter Holiday Block Exchange.

Boat Shuttle Block Exchange quilt.
All the block in this quilt were made with a very
early style of machine

Captain's Courtyard,  made with
blocks from the 10th anniversary
Treadle On block exchange

Add caption

Black and Batik exchange quilt
Davis Exchange, all block made on machines made by Davis sewing machine company.