Monday, August 30, 2010


I got some thread work done on the 'background'.  I particularly wanted to lighten it up under the chair because there isn't much value change.  I accomplished this by putting some free-motion thread work in a lighter shade of gray over that area.  I'm still not sure it's light enough, but the quilting, if done in a lighter shade will lighten it up even more.

Here you see it pinned and ready for quilting.  This is the part that makes me nervous!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I took the same two paintings that I took to Renton River Days and submitted them to the Western Washington Fair's Fine Art Competition.
As you might recall, the snitzel 'Lines' won a Juror's Award, and my favorite 'Steel Plant' (above) won bupkis.
I got a little envelope in the mail today from the WW Fair.  They accepted 'Steel Plant' into the show, but they cannot abide 'Lines'.  They want me to come and pick it up where it now resides with the rest of the rejects.
Bummer...that means I need to take time off work this week, too, to pick it up.  And, it means an extra trip to Puyallup.

I wish the jurors and judges would let artists know what they like and don't like.  It's so baffling!
Just proves, it's all so subjective and it doesn't really mean a thing.


I spent a little time up in the studio today before I have to go back to work tomorrow.  I got 'Weed' quilted.  It's hard to tell in this photo - I stupidly took the photo too close to the window, again, and it's got a flare on the top left and the colors are a little screwy.
I really like the colors, too. They are very soft and warm.  So is the fabric.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


My husband, Darrell, was scheduled to do some demos at two Lee Valley Stores in British Columbia Friday and Saturday.  I've been looking forward to this because while he was busy demoing, I was going to Maiwa.  If you don't know about Maiwa, check it out:
They have everything for fabric (and yarn) dyeing, plus some really great imported stuff.

I've been following their blog for a while and had noticed these really neat leather bags, reasonably priced, too.  I decided I was going to go and get one for myself.  So, Friday, Darrell dropped me off at Granville Island and I spent the next five hours shopping and eating and sitting and watching the people.  The weather was grand and the area is wonderful.  Granville Island is a wonder mix of artists workshops and their galleries and shops of all things artistic to peruse and buy.  

There is also a wonderful Market where you can get fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meats, fish and whatever you desire!
I got the leather bag (I love it!)...

 and then went a little nuts - I bought a few things to check out natural dyeing.

I went back a third time to get the Indigo Kit, after I had read some of the literature they had given me when I bought the first dyes.  The instructions sounded very easy, and the clerk assured me it was a breeze.  We'll see - I've heard that indigo can be very difficult.

Saturday morning Darrell had to be in Coquitlam at 10am, and I hadn't really planned anything.  But, all night long I'd been thinking about the great books I'd seen in Maiwa.  So, having nothing better to do, I drove back to Vancouver and Granville Island just to buy a book - so I bought three.

I started looking online for a fabric store and found one less than a half a mile from where the husband was, so I headed back there.

It was just a big box fabric store with a lot of everything, but I did find the threads I was needing for my 'Ashtray' project.  I stuck to my resolution not to buy anymore fabric, but I'll admit, I looked a little bit.

I spent all my allowance for the next several months!  I need to get back into the studio and use some of this stuff up!

Here are some random images I saw:

I almost forgot to mention we also went to the Vancouver Art Museum to see the Degas (and others)  Drawings Exhibit

Great weekend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Remember the little painting I did of a weed I brought home from the park?  Well, it's what got me started dyeing fabrics in the first place.  Then I got distracted by the Ashtray.  I got to a place where I had to stop on the Ashtray top (I need to go buy gray threads), so I went back to Weed in fabric.  I finished it in one long afternoon.  Well, it's not finished - it's a top.  It still needs to be quilted and finished someway.  I haven't decided - it may be a pillow.  It's about 12" by 18", cotton hand dyed fabrics.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I finally got the actual ashtray on it today! It took me hours to get it just right.  I'm glad I waited to do it last.  I've learned quite a bit in this whole process.  It's a long way from being done, but it's looking really good so far.  
Next I will baste it to batting and a back and start on the quilting.  That will lighten up the 'ground'  (she says hopefully).  That's the plan, anyway.
Oh, and yes, I will eventually square it up, for you non-quilters, but not until it's quilted.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


While on my walk this morning with Lucy in Lincoln Park, and still frustrated from yesterday, it came to me that part of the problem is my lightbox.  Now, I must preface this with saying that I really love and use my lightbox all the time.  My cousin, Steve made it for me probably ten years ago.  I wanted a large one that I could use for putting quilting patterns on quilt tops.  I couldn't afford the ones on the market at the time, and I don't think they even made one as big as I wanted.
Steve made it for me out of scrap plywood and a nice piece of white plexiglass 28" by 22".  It's very nice.  But, there was only one fluorescent tube in it.  This project has layers of dark fabrics, and I was having a very hard time seeing my pattern, for alignment, underneath.
I decided that if I only had brighter bulbs in my lightbox life would be perfect.

So, after our walk, we went to the local home shop and looked at lights.  I settled on the little xenon lights used for under cabinets.  They were definitely the brightest ones there.  They came in an all-inclusive package of 5.  It cost me about $38 with tax and everything.
Back home again, it took me about 2 hours to get the old light out and the new lights in and wired.

 I was a little worried when I plugged it in and switched it on, but nothing blew up, nothing caught on fire!  But, one of the lights didn't I switched a few bulbs around, and one of the bulbs is burned out.   That means it's back to the home supply store tomorrow.  I wish I could charge them for my time, trouble and gasoline.

I wish I could return all the extra stuff included in the kit which I had to pay for:

After all that fuss, time and money, I don't think these lights are any brighter and they are definitely hotter.  Dangmagang!

I went to work putting the fabrics on and sewing them down anyway, I just continued on as before, trying to see through to the pattern and occasionally lifting up the fabrics to make sure what I though I was seeing was really on the pattern.  I think I made a big fuss for nothing, because it was easier than I thought it would be.  
My Roxanne Glue Baste-It  came in real handy today.  Roxanne Glue Baste-It 2 oz.
I use it instead of pins.  It's very good for small pieces, or in this case narrow pieces, where pins just get in the way or shift.  I like it because it just puts our one tiny light droplet of glue right where you need it and it washes out with water when you don't want it there anymore.

It was very hot up in the studio and there was one small fright when we experienced what we later learned to be a sonic boom.  [We all ran out of the shop thinking something had fallen on the roof or something had blown up somewhere.]  But, I managed to get all the dark fabrics appliquéd down.  I will get to the red ashtray tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Seam allowances!  What was I thinking?!

My plan was to appliqué by hand...too much...too impatient...too many pins!

So, I took all the papers off the backs of the pieces and re-pinned and started machine appliquéing the pieces down.  It's a learning experience.  It was hot in the studio, I was frustrated and feeling incompetent.  I'm wishing I hadn't made it so big.  I thought about tossing this one and starting over without seam allowances.  But, I'm out of one of the fabrics, or at least I don't have enough, I think.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.  

Saturday, August 07, 2010


I started to make the previous "Ashtray" sketch in fabric!

First things first, I need six gradations of gray and purples and three of the reds.  So, knowing I'd never find what  I needed, I dyed my own!  It's great that I can even do that, you know?

Not knowing anything about how much dye I'd need or anything about making gradations, I just winged it!  I guessed, but I was pleasantly surprised at the results.

What's funny is some of the things I thought I knew turned out different.  For instance, I wanted the purples to be clear and even and the grays to be mottled.  So, I put salt on the grays thinking that would cause some variation in the coverage.  Wrong!  They ended up being more clear and even than the purples.  The purples were mottled because I had mixed Cobalt and Fuchsia dyes, and they separated somewhat.  
The lights were not as light as I wanted, so I had to add some commercial fabrics that I had, so here is the group of fabrics I'm going to work with.  I really like the deep purples, they turned out great.

Next, I took the simple line drawing to the office store and enlarged it to 18" by 24" and made a 'cartoon', a working drawing.

Using freezer paper I started cutting out the pieces.  I'm learning as I go, it's going slow to start.  Here's what it looked like at the end of day one:

And at the end of day two:

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 06, 2010


 I found a very interesting book the other day, Connecting Art to Stitch by Sandra Meech.  I've read the first few chapters and decided to start doing some of the exercises in the book.  It's purpose is to show/teach you how to take your artwork and interpret it in fabric/sewing.  
This first lesson was about doing a simple scene in shades of gray.  I looked through my file of still life photos and came up with an old one I've always liked.  It shows an ashtray on a table with a chair, looking down from above.  I converted it to black and white in Photohop, and used a filter to simplify it.
Having read the chapter a few days before, I went out to the studio in the morning and started painting paper with acrylic paints in seven shades of gray going from white to almost black.  That in itself was quite a learning experience.  It took me a lot longer than I thought and I really enjoyed doing it because of all the things I learned.  I was really impressed with the results, too!
But, I didn't think it all the way through, and I didn't do it the way the book suggested with tracing paper and charcoal.  I just used the regular paper I would use when painting with acrylics - I should have used thinner paper.  This paper is too thick for this project, but it takes the paint well!
I used a tracing paper overlay to aid in alignment, and cut the pieces out with an exacto-knife.  The white edges of the paper show, particularly on the darker ones.  I was very disappointed at first, but since it's consistent throughout, I think it looks okay.

This is 'Ashtray' in cut painted paper, approximately 8" by 10".

I really want to do this in fabric now!  

Thursday, August 05, 2010


I really want to make that 'Weed' painting into a art quilt.  My major hold-up is the fabric.  I just don't have the right colors, and I know from experience, if you're looking for something specific at fabric stores you'll never find it.  That left only one alternative - I must dye the fabrics myself.
I remember reading an article in a magazine about dyeing...and I had flagged it.  All I had to do was search through my magazine pile.  Jeez.  Actually, it didn't take long, I had an idea where it was, and after a little thumbing through other magazines, I found it fairly quickly.
The magazine is Art Quilting Studio Magazine, and there was an article entitled "Flat Dyeing" by Robin Ferrier.  It shows how to dye on a flat surface so you can get more even, consistent coloring.  I know how to dye in a container, tub or bag.  It would entail alot of constant swishing around to get the color to be even.  I've actually never had color come out even, so I wasn't even going to try that.  Robin's method looked pretty easy.  The weather has been great so I was excited to try it!
I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a roll of painter's plastic.  It's thinner than she recommends, and I probably won't be able to re-use it.  But it comes in a huge roll, so I'm all set.
I realized once I got started that I'm missing some essentials.  I'll have to scrounge at garage sales for things like stirring spoons, buckets and large Tupperware type storage containers.  I don't want to use anything that I need from the kitchen, because it can't go back to the kitchen after this.

Here's where I really regretted having hot water in the studio.  I had to bring a tub of hot water out from the house, so I decided to bring all my dyes and stuff down to the back yard.  Everything more or less met in the middle, out on the picnic table in the back yard.  
I had had the fabric soaking in soda ash since early morning.  I mixed the dyes by guess and by golly.  It will be a surprise if I get what I was after!

Here's what it looked like after I got done, I left the fabric there all night.  I was amazed at how hot to the touch it all was.

Needless to say, it dripped on the grass.  The grass is now red, green(er) and brown(er) in places - of course!  Grass is a cellulose fiber too, isn't it?

The next morning, after everyone was finally up, I rolled everything up and took it down to the washing machine.  I separated plastic and fabric, rinsed and rinsed and rinsed out the fabric, then tossed in the washer with Synthropol.   

They didn't come out exactly like I envisioned.  I was having a hard time trying to figure out how to mix the right blue.  But, this is okay.  I can work with this for my Weed project.  Oh, and I should mention, this 100% cotton fabric is a soft, loosely woven fabric that I recycled out of some old curtains that were at our new house that I didn't want to use.  It will be a very soft look.
Here's how they came out:  

That pile of threads came out of the dryer with the fabrics. I'm thinking about saving it because of another  article I just read in someone's blog who mentioned that she keeps odd threads and uses them in her projects occasionally as surface embellishment.  Anyway, her little basket of threads looked pretty cool!  I know, I'm screwy, but I can't help myself.