Friday, September 9, 2016

Let's Hear it for the Girls...

When I'm not sewing, I'm exploring new-to-me techniques in mixed media and art journaling. One subject that shows up repeatedly is "girl art". Sketching, drawing, painting whimsical girls seems to have appeal for many- myself included. I didn't know I wanted to draw girls, or even that I might be able to do so. However, online classes taught by established artists really help to nail down some basics and explore different styles. The young girl above is an "inner child" project taught by Tamara LaPorte in her Lifebook series. So that's me- the little Catholic girl wearing a cat hat and reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Such a light-hearted approach to drawing made it less intimidating, and of course the mixed media background was fun to make as well. Enrolling in Lifebook launched me on a path to find other mixed media classes and led to a "sampler" of girl art I'll share here!

This fashionista was made with sketching and paper collage in a Creative Workshops class taught by Cathy Bluteau. The class is titled "Draw, Collage, Paint." Of course I have much to learn about all three topoics, but really enjoy giving all this a try. 

YouTube is also a good source of tutorials on mixed media. Australian mixed media artist Toni Burt has a style with a vintage feel that I just love, and she offers a number of instructional videos on her channel.

In Art Journal Summer School 2016, a series of classes presented by several instructors, Lesley Wood taught how to make this whimsical big-eyed girl and introduced the messy fun of using charcoal. This girl looks like she's up to something- I bet that flower squirts water in your face when you smell it!

 Also in Creative Workshops, I signed up for artist Martha Lever's class "Drawing the Girls." She breaks it down to help students master various features before combining them in drawings. The graph paper helps to maintain proportion.

Meanwhile, I've also been working on a project that's been floating around in my mind for a time. The plan is to make a vintage-style fabric book that includes old photos of women and girls. Some hand work, some by machine- it's a relaxing project that is inching along. It has one page so far.

Violette Clark was also an instructor for Lifebook 2015. This is her imaginative project.

And beyond the girls, we also did projects like this one combining background techniques like watercolor, stamping, and collage. My high school art teacher of years gone by would be very surprised at the interest I've shown in the subject. He was not impressed with my efforts back in the day! But I'm learning.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Well, Hello Again!

This gracious mermaid welcomed us to a jewelry and gift shop on our recent trip to Kennebunkport, Maine. She's quite detailed and she sails above the counters of merchandise at The Best of Everything. She's larger-than-life size and really caught my eye while shopping there. I thought she'd make the perfect hostess to welcome you to this post!

However, before I share some photos from our trip, I've got a few from a class I took before we left in early August. Being quite taken with fabric flower embellishments of all kinds, I enrolled in a class on making several varieties of them to add to my repertoire. The class was taught by Celeste Beck of Goatfeathers Studio. This shabby chic rolled denim rose is added to a gathered muslin and lace base. This one might be my favorite.

Here's another rolled fabric rose, top left, shown with several smaller roses made using a different technique. The dark print didn't allow the rose petal shapes to be as distinct as I'd like, so I'd choose another fabric strip to make it from another time. I'll share a few more flowers from the class in another post.

 Here's a double-layer flower. This one was offered in a tutorial by Judy Hansen from Quilt Shop of DeLand. While it's not sewn on, the center paper button is one I made using a tutorial from Jenniebellie on her YouTube channel.

A yo-yo topped with a button made a great center for this ribbon rose. I didn't make it, but found it for less than $1 at The Container Store in Tampa. It was my first visit to the store and I was happy to get there as I'd been reading about how much people like the chain. It really has so many wonderful storage items we could have spent much longer there. However, since we were traveling to Maine the next day, I limited my purchases to this flower and an egg timer! I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to make one like this though.

On to Maine! I never get tired of Maine. For one thing, arriving here from Florida, I noticed right away how refreshing it was to have the windows wide open to enjoy the ocean breezes. The air is so fresh with a cool tinge to it. Lovely.

And here's where old boats retire. Even they get a spot with a beautiful bay view and fresh air.

The entrance to a campground near where we stayed is marked by this "canned ham" vintage camper and surfer's wagon. We drove by it each day, and I had to take some pictures of it. I was asked about the make of the vehicle, and I'm not sure but think it might be an early '60s or late '50s Studebaker. Anyone have another guess?

Our daughter says this photo makes her feel immediately calm, peaceful and de-stressed. That's good because she began a new job and was not able to travel with us, so the picture will have to do. It's a view of lobster boats in Cape Porpoise.

 And here are more boats moored at Perkins Cove near Ogunquit. There is a mile-long path along the ocean to walk out here called The Marginal Way. We walk it a couple of times when we visit the area.

Of course we enjoyed the catch those lobster boats brought in. We purchase fresh, cooked lobster right at the dock and bring them back to our rental to eat. Somehow, lobster tastes the sweetest in Maine.

 We had a lovely rental at Goose Rocks Beach. Quiet and peaceful with a short walk to this beach. I can tell you this water is icy!! I never did get all the way in this year, though I have other times. It's not easy. Except of course for kids- they run right in full of joy and exuberance and hardly notice the water temperature. We enjoy watching the families on the beach. It's such a safe place for children to explore and run free. We took our children there many summers while they were growing up, and they enjoyed the beach time, too. This year our son Lee was able to join us for a couple of nights, so it was fun to walk The Marginal Way with him and share some good meals and memories together. We sure hope we can get back there next year!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

So How's Your Summer?

I hope you are having a good one! It certainly seems to be flying by quickly. Mine has turned out to be a surprise in that I discovered something about myself. I'm completely enamored with online classes! I love how affordable they are, and how I can complete them at my own pace and in my own time. And I love learning new things. Hopefully I've not overwhelmed myself, but I signed up for several summer courses. This "Go With the Flow" girl is just one example. She's a lesson by Marieke Blokland from the Art Journal Summer School 2016 series of classes. We get two new lessons every week until September.

The lessons are beginner-friendly which is exactly what I need. Far from an art class star in my school days, I never thought I'd be interested in or show any aptitude at all for painting and mixed media. And yet, here I am, enjoying every lesson and doing my best to master the current skill. This lesson was taught by artist Kate Crane and was quite relaxing to complete. 

I've also made several of these paper flowers as wall adornments, using old calendar pages and scrapbook paper. These are the brainchild of Jenniebellie who will be one of the teachers this summer. She also has a YouTube channel on which she demonstrates all sorts of mixed media and journaling projects, including these flowers.

One thing I find about branching out into mixed media journaling in addition to quilting is the explosion of supplies in the workroom. Paper, stitch, painting- they all have their own specialized supplies. Why not combine them all? Well, that is another course, of course! This one is taught by Joanne Sharpe and is based on her latest book shown above. The class is titled Paint, Stitch, Play and explores all kinds of paints and markers on fabric. The muslin booklet, also shown above, will contain a catalog of the various paints I have on hand along with some class projects. One of our first exercises was to make the booklet and to practice free-motion stitch-doodling as shown in the sample below.

So I've stayed quite entertained with practicing all the new products and techniques I'm learning. Summer fun, indeed!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tons of Tees, Tons of Ideas...

Perhaps my favorite fiber art technique we explored at a recent Fiber Art Bee retreat is discharge dyeing. We accomplished it using a spray solution of 1 part chlorine bleach with two parts water. We worked outdoors on plastic covered tables and had buckets of water handy for immersing the projects to stop the bleaching. This star shirt is one I made after the workshop to wear to the 4th of July parade. I cut assorted sizes of stars from freezer paper and then ironed them in place on the red shirt. I watched the change happen right before my eyes as the areas where I sprayed faded to a dusty pink.

But this shirt is my favorite. I ironed freezer paper hearts around the neckline and a large vase of flowers to the front. A strip of lace trim placed across the bottom created the lacey look there. The fun of this technique is that you don't know just what color you'll get. I like the rusty orange that this black tee turned in the sprayed areas. I ran the pieces through the rinse cycle of the washing machine to remove excess bleach and stop the discharge.

This shirt was one of the samples made by our instructors at the workshop held at Goatfeathers Studio. This black tee turned a khaki color which made the masked shapes quite distinct.

We also discharge dyed pieces of fabric. The die-cut leaves cut from freezer paper created very distinct images. And the piece at the bottom is my experimental piece using the lace as a mask. This one was done on navy cotton. Cotton is the key word here. I tried discharge dyeing a black craft apron, but the apron was made from a blend and the image was indistinct.

Not every piece was a success. I'd read that using cheesecloth as a mask would make a soft imprint. Perhaps I spread it too thin on this piece of brown cotton, but nearly all the brown disappeared and the result was rather unappealing. 

Here are some of our discharge dyed pieces drying on a fence. In addition to bleach spray, we also worked with a bleach pen and bleach crystals. I've got a purple shirt ready to discharge and a couple more black ones. This method is a keeper! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blowin' in the Wind...

Koinobori and Kumihimo... say those two words fast! It just happened that I'm working on these two Japanese crafts, both of which are new to me. The first- Koinobori- is a type of wind sock known as "carp streamers." The wind socks are the symbol of an annual Japanese Children's Day. They're flown on the spring holiday to express hope for health and strength for children. This Koinobori was a project we made during a Fiber Art Bee workshop held recently. The Goat Girls from Goatfeathers Studio taught us to use a glue resist technique to make fanciful designs on cotton fabric, let the glue dry, and then paint the fish with acrylic paints.

Once dry, we washed out the glue, stitched the sides and tail, and added hanging apparatus. The Koinobori are suspended from a swivel hook so they move freely in the breeze. I hung mine in a grove of trees and then had a hard time getting a photo of it at rest- it moves almost constantly.

You can just see the faint blue lines of the Elmer's Gel Glue on the cotton shape in the photo above. We placed the wet piece on freezer paper, and set it out to "fry" in the sunny driveway, weighted by wood pieces so the projects did not become airborne too soon. 

These sample projects greeted us as we entered the studio. The smallest turquoise one at the lower right was made from a toilet paper roll and colorful tissue paper. Our projects were smaller than the fabric examples here so that we could get them completed in the time allotted. We learned two other techniques during our full-day workshop, and I'll share those in another post. I'm happy to have my Koinbori finished and flying in the breeze. It's a happy sight out in the grove.

The second craft I learned is Kumihimo- the Japanese art of braiding decorative cords. I had seen a demo on this at a quilt show some years ago and found it intriguing. But it's only recently that I gave it a try. You can see some sample cords I made using yarn and nylon at the lower left. The round foam disc is the loom on which the braid is created. What convinced me to try this craft was a kit by Primitive Originals Kumihimo I purchased at another quilt show- it contained the beautiful stainless steel cross and the cord to make the necklace. The instructions were clear and the project was pretty easy. My next challenge will be to add beads and make an even more decorative cord.

The grove behind our home is several degrees cooler than the yard, and has lots of vegetation that needs to be tamed from time to time. It's the place where I hang prayer flags and other fiber projects like the wind sock. This grouping of prayer flags is titled "Tribute to Big Mother". You can see close-up photos of the flags here.  The grove also has this pretty flowering tree which I thought was called a rain tree, but a web search shows is a mimosa. While beautiful and delicate, the mimosa is considered an invasive plant in Florida and can cause some landscaping problems. So it may have to go at some point.

But meanwhile our little rescue dog Abby loves her free time in the grove. She has a fenced yard to keep her safe, but she is allowed some time on the loose each day. She's very good about heading out to "her" grove where she plays happily with her yellow toy. You may be able to see it on the ground in front of her. Abby has some unusual "quirks" and one of them is that she's unable to have many toys as she can destroy them in a matter of minutes (she's also a hoarder, carrying off items to her crate or bed). Soft toys are out, and she would so love to have one. But I've found a dog toy called "Goughnuts" that she cannot destroy. She has several of these and can chase, fetch, and roughhouse with them to her heart's content. Abby has gained in health and in good behavior. I'm glad to say she's come a very long way!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Pretty Things...

An old Reader's Digest book became an altered journal on my recent quilting retreat last month. Following instructions in a DVD by Nellie Wortman, I combined lace, fabric, paper, beads, inks and more to make this shabby-chic project. As Nellie notes in her class, the book makes viewers want to open it and investigate all that lovely goodness peaking out of the sides and bottom. The cover itself is layered with corrugated cardboard, packing papers, and a transparency stitched to frayed muslin and trimmed with lace and flowers.

Even the spine became decorative with gathered fabric and pearls. And the fancy glass beads accent the binding thread. Almost anything goes in making these books, and it's very freeing and fun to think of ways to combine materials in a pleasing way.

I love vintage images of ladies in hats. This one is printed on cotton and covered with sheer curtain fabric. My version of the project is a faith journal, and I had a book of quotes to add to the pages. This one says, "Be strong and let our hearts take courage, all you who hope in the Lord." - Psalm 31: 24.

Each of the pages is made from watercolor paper and distressed with ink, applied tissue and other papers, and pen. This quote says, "Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!" - Psalm 90: 12

 An old brooch centered on a folded flower made from muslin strips accents these pages. I also got some practice free-motion writing, using the machine needle as a pen. Another vintage photo of a woman in a wonderful hat. And a quote from Elizabeth Ann Seton- "I Will Sustain You".

Ruth Rae wrote an article in Somerset Sew, Winter 2011, in which she outlined ways to make "Scrap Cards" using bits and pieces of materials. I employed her idea to make small fabric vignettes which I then glued to several of the pages. These were a lot of creative fun, and once started, the ideas just flowed for combining things like clothing labels, cheesecloth, and machine and hand stitches.

For this image, I stitched a transparency of palm trees to a rectangle of fabric paper that is just full of texture.

And this is another Ruth Rae-inspired scrap card. Laces, ribbon, and words all stitched to a background of sheet music and then glued to the journal page.

 At last- a home for this hand stitched heart. I picked it up off the freebie table at our guild many years ago. I'd come across it every now and again and ask myself, "What am I ever going to do with this?" I came close to purging it from the stash, but I'm so glad I just couldn't do it. It's just right in this book.  One other quote I added to the book has a great reminder- it says, "The future lies before you like a field of driven snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show." I'm sure there will be another of these books in my project plans. It was so satisfying to make, and it makes me want to pick it up and investigate it almost daily!

Speaking of pretty things, Jack and I came across this lovely shop while bike riding in Cedar Key, Florida last week. It's called Island Thyme Antiques. Doesn't Leslie the proprietor have a creative flair for display? Her shop carries all sorts of coastal gifts, antiques, and jewelry.

And there are nautical-themed prints galore. Worth a visit!