Thursday, February 14, 2019

Let it Shine... Heart Sparkles

'Tis the season for heartfelt remembrances. I received this beautiful fiber art valentine from friend and fellow creative Robbie Payne at Robbie's Paw Prints blog. You can read more about her process there. She painted and stitched the background fabric, then added a fabric and paper combo heart. The foiling and the tiny bead edging along with Robbie's beautiful stitching just accent this perfectly. I so appreciate receiving this handmade and heartfelt greeting!

And this fabric-paper zipper pouch was a gift earlier this year from fiber artist Merri McKenzie. Her fabric paper is made meticulously with layer upon layer of paper and trims. I love the vintage feel of her little bag along with the glitzy accent of a tee-shirt ball bead all sequined and shiny. Handmade is just the best, isn't it?

Meanwhile, I'm still exploring handmade jewelry items. This beachy key chain is the result of tinkering with crafting charms. I think it needs just a little bit more, but don't want it too clunky to hang off the key. All this sparkly goodness makes my heart go pitty pat! How about you?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Sew Charming Again...

I'm so enamored with these charm necklaces that I signed up to take the Sew Charming class with Goatfeathers Studio for a second time. We made some new-to-me charms in this class. And I've got another sewing "statement necklace" to show for it. Such fun. 

One of the participants brought some beads from her mother's collection and shared them with all of us. I made the bead dangle next to the thimble using  the ones I chose. And the "mirror ball" bead I made with metal charms and findings along with a felted ball and shisha mirror purchased from Etsy several years ago. The glitzy rose is a found item that fell off a zipper pull on a jacket. Too pretty to toss. That's one thing I love about these necklaces- we can just look around the sewing room and spy objects that will make wonderful charms.

I added the "Bodacious Button" charm when I found it and the little sewing machine charm also hanging around the sewing room without a job to do. The small prayer flag charm was one of the new offerings in the workshop. It's made with a safety pin, a fabric scrap, and an embellishment selected from the class treasure chest- the flying angel cat!

Classmate and creative friend Ellen Casile Kostewicz of Eck Design took photos that really captured the day, and she gave me permission to use them here. So the rest of the pics in this post are hers. I get too excited in a class and forget to take photos! Upon our arrival, the classroom was all set up with work stations for each of us. The home/studio setting is so inviting and spacious.

I always appreciate seeing lots of samples for inspiration, and instructors Celeste Beck and Merri McKenzie have been making these necklaces at an impressive rate! Every one is unique and lovely. This display just got the creative juices flowing.

One thing they do that makes the day extra special is to provide us with lunch and a grand dessert. Celeste sets a beautiful table and her home always reflects the season with colorful and hand-crafted accents.

Actually, she sets two tables for our fairly large group. Chicken on a bed of greens with strawberries and goat cheese for lunch, and delicious homemade bread pudding for dessert.

This photo shows Ellen's array of charms made in the class. We made more than a dozen to add to our necklaces. It's impossible to choose a favorite, but the little bird's nest shown in the second row, third from right, may be mine. They are such fun to make and, depending on the beads used for the eggs, they all look so different.

I hope you enjoyed this class tour. And I'll be busy in the sewing room making more... and more.. and more of these.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What's in That Bag?...

"Just Breathe" is the title of this Yoga frog wall quilt. I found the makings for it in the bag of scraps I was given, shown below. This was one of our challenges in our Fiber Art Bee. A year ago we each brought in a quart-size bag filled with fabrics, trims, and embellishments. We passed the bags left, and each now held the bag from which we were to make a small project. We could add to our pile of materials as needed. I'd guesstimate that 90% of my projects came from the bag, and I used up about 75% of the contenst. It was fun to try and figure out what to do with some of the things in there!

You can see the batik fabric scraps and the frog motifs, but there were also pink lace pieces, silk flowers and leaves, beads and skeins of embroidery floss. It looked pretty daunting when I spilled the contents out on the floor. Not only did I "find" the makings of the wall quilt in the bag, but also this lovely bride art doll.

Meet Violet Rose, the blushing bride. She, too, is created from a lot of the contents of the challenge bag. Her petal skirt, necklace, veil, yo-yo trim on her flower belt- it all came from the bag. Too lovely for words, that Violet Rose!

Here's her back view, complete with a pocket-full of dreams and her name tag. Violet Rose is an example of an Art Warrior doll which I learned to make in a class at Goatfeathers Studio with instructors Celeste Beck and Merri McKenzie. You can see a whole party full of these dolls in this earlier post.  They are great fun to make, and nearly create themselves from assorted scraps- as you can see from Violet Rose's humble beginnings!

Are you a fan of challenges? As I look back on the past year, I've participated in four or five, plus I have another in the works. So apparently I am a fan.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Fiber Collage Fun...

We've completed a year-long book study in our Fiber Arts Bee using Deborah Boschert's book "Art Quilt Collage". As part of our study, we were challenged to make a collage quilt incorporating things we learned during the study. We'll be revealing our pieces at an upcoming meeting this week, but I thought I'd share my piece with you now, along with some of the elements inspired by the study.

The first thing I did was to look up the term "collage" in a dictionary. I know when I'm seeing one, but needed to have a word description to solidify the concept in my head. A working definition is this: an artistic composition made by securing pieces of various materials to a larger surface; an assemblage of pieces that make a new whole. Well, ok. That sums it up for me.

The inspiration for this collage quilt was a topographical map of a little palm hammock in Florida. I used a palm design made by sun printing, assorted hand-dyed and hand-stamped fabric bits, hand embroidery and machine free-motion stitches to represent the map markings and the flora of the hammock. I completed the piece with a simple facing finish that was new to me (here's a link for it if you're interested). I thought the flat-edge finish on this piece was preferable to an applied binding.

I also included a personal symbol, which we were encouraged to identify during the book study. It's a design element that turns up repeatedly in our work. Mine is something I now call a "splat flower". It's a free-form petaled flower, and in this case it's one I had stamped with acrylic paint using a hand-carved stamp. You can see another of my splat flowers in the previous post of stamped fabrics here.

There's more to come with the challenges in the Fiber Art Bee. We will reveal a second challenge at the same meeting, and I'll share that with you very soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

DIY Fabric for Christmas...

What?? There isn't enough fabric in my stash already? Well, there really is, but that doesn't stop me. Our Fiber Art Bee learned a number of surface design techniques during 2018, so it was only natural that we would apply them in our annual Christmas exchange. This year it was 12" squares (or so- we're not sticklers for rules) of fabric we stamped ourselves using found objects and handmade foam stamps. My squares began with rust-dyed fabric, as seen above, or a print from my stash that needed something more.

I made sets of two squares from three different fabrics. We were to make 6 squares, keep one, and swap the rest. This sample was a nondescript light print that soon became light and lively. I stamped with two handmade foam flower stamps, pool cover plastic (better than bubble wrap, I learned in our work sessions, because it is firmer and doesn't deflate), a hotel key card, and corn pad cushions. They make the neatest small ovals and retain their shape while stamping with craft or fabric paint.

This is the dark version of the print above. It almost looked like camo, but it didn't stay that way. All of my squares received the same treatment, but the paint colors changed to keep them visible and contrasting with the background. It was an absorbing project. After show and tell, where we learned how everyone's fabrics were stamped, the anticipation grew. Two of our members retired to another room during the Christmas party and randomly sorted 5 different swap fabrics into numbered piles. We drew numbers and were matched up with our stack of wonderful new fabrics.

I have plans for this piece already. It's done with cardboard tubes in various sizes and bubble wrap on a rayon blend. Very intense!

Gears, foam spirals, stars, cardboard tubes and more went into this piece. Wish I could recall what made that pretty pink waffle grid. 

Lovely colors on this one, and Ginkgo leaves for one of the stamps.

This is a two-fer. Bubble plastic was stamped on top of a layer of tulle over cotton. We can use as is- a two-layer piece, or peel up the tulle which has sparkle and a subtle layer of color dots to use on its own.

Lots of spots! This began with white-on-white polka-dot fabric, and the theme continued. You might think this is the star of the show, but no... look...

If we got this one in our swap pile, we got a whole collection titled Whoooooo. There's a strip stamped with a thread spool end. AND this beautiful owl stamped on black. Such a nice detailed image. That's one area where I need to improve- I often get a partial image. But I'm learning aids to fix that like using batting under the fabric or ironing freezer paper on the back. What will become of these? I can only invite you to stay tuned, because I'm not sure myself.... YET. It's quite delightful to contemplate.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Visions of Sugarplums...

With Christmas approaching, I knew it was time to make a holiday charm necklace. Half the fun in making these is hunting and gathering all the bits and pieces that go into the design.

It began with making yo yos, then adding beads, pearls and sparkly things to each one. I have one of the Clover yo yo makers, and used it to keep the yo yos a consistent size. I'm a gadget quilter, but when these yo yo makers first became available, I pooh-poohed them. "After all, who can't make a yo yo?", I thought, "They're so simple." But I tried one and quickly altered my thinking. They make the task so easy, quick, and they yield same-sized yo yos. So I now own several sizes! Lesson learned- don't be quick to judge and dismiss.

Another fun addition is the button stack charm with a pearl dangle. The small stoppered bottle is filled with star glitter confetti, and the clear pink vintage dangle is an old jewelry rescue. 

Idle hands are not my usual mode, so each evening I'd set up a tv tray with tools and doo-dads and get to work preparing items to use for charms. The little candy canes, pink bulbs, gum drops, and glitter stars are from small packages of mini-tree ornaments from Hobby Lobby. They just needed jump rings to get them ready.

Hobby Lobby also sold a bag of styrofoam "beads" that are used to fill clear glass containers for home decor. But they are lightweight and resemble snowball confections. I was able to pierce them, add sparkly things and turn them into charms.

The deep pink vintage button at the far upper right has hung around the button jar for many years and finally found a home in this necklace.

Here is some of the detritus of making the charms: more yo yos for another project, beads, eye pins, E6000 glue, tiny pearls, beading thread and more. Aren't those angel beads the cutest? Now to sort and put it all away until the next necklace wants to appear. The necklaces are fun and easy to make. My biggest challenge is kitten Iggy who is entranced by every item in my sewing room. Can you tell that trouble is brewing in the photo below? He's a climber and is resting on the work table just waiting... for something... anything, really. 

Iggy is a Sugarplum of a different sort! And he's the reason we have not yet put up a tree this year. 

Our local library has a lovely tree, however, filled with sugarplums. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Very Vintage, Very Fun...

Old quilt blocks and orphan blocks left over from other projects hold a great appeal for me. And I'm a big fan of the traditional Dresden Plate block. This collection of stray blocks was just waiting to be used together in a quilt. I'd get them out from time to time, ponder what to do with them, and then put them away. That is, until I pulled out the lively pieced background that was all done and waiting to be used in a project. The background and the blocks all landed on the sewing room floor at the same time, and we began to play! "Dancing Dresdens" is the result. It's pretty wild, but somehow all the elements work together in a happy, happy quilt.

A friend who was moving, gave me a selection of these old Dresden blocks made by a family member. They contain everything from the usual quilting cottons, to corduroy, to shiny chintz and home dec fabrics. I made a quilt from most of her blocks and gifted it back to her and her family. But this lone block was left.

When reproduction fabrics first became popular, I bought some small pieces and made several blocks with them. Other blocks in the quilt were ones I pieced to try out a new method for making Dresdens, or were on the quilt guild's "freebie" table. So there's quite an assortment, including some batik pieces. But somehow they all work.

I sent the piece to longarm quilter Debra Johnston who was up for the challenge. She wanted to be careful in stitching the older blocks due to their fragility. I really love what she did to this background fabric- it resembles a basketweave. All in all, I'm happy with Dancing Dresdens and its cheerful nod to the past.

As you can see, old quilt blocks either find me, or I find them. The wonderful hexagon blocks were on the freebie table just waiting to come home with me. The others were in a bundle of old blocks sold together for less than $15. Look! There's another Dresden in there. What will they become.... I wonder.

Coincidentally, our guild had a speaker on the subject of vintage quilts this week. Quilt historian Kathy Metalica Cray brought many vintage quilts and pieces to share with us. And she told interesting stories about the quiltmakers, when information was known. She encouraged us to document quilts because we all enjoy the stories, and need to pass along information about our quilts. I think this star quilt fragment would have quite a story if we could know the quilter. I'm sure I'd like her!

Kathy's interest is in collecting and preserving old quilts, but she also loves to combine blocks from her extensive collection to make lovely pieces like this one. Only the setting triangles are cut from current fabrics (her own reproduction designs for Windham Fabrics) and they unify the vintage blocks beautifully. 

Take care of your old quilts, and document as much as you are able. I intend to be better about doing so. Some of my quilts are still waiting for labels with the barest of info on them. I need to step up the game!