Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Bit of Southern Charm...

DIY projects are just the ticket in my book! So when I got a chance to take a class in making charm jewelry, I jumped right in. This charm-loaded necklace was the result, and I'm so happy with it!

It has a wide assortment of charms, 14 of which we learned to make in the class. This close-up shows a bottle cap charm, one made from a bit of tape measure, a wrapped fiber bead, a wire bird's nest complete with eggs, and two of my mandala drawings turned into shrink plastic charms.

And here you can see a sewing machine bobbin turned charm, a pom pom charm, and just behind the mandala is a silver thimble with ribbon extensions. We were provided with the chain necklace to which we added our charms.

Our instructors, Celeste and Merri of Goatfeathers Studio, suggested that we assemble the necklace by placing it on a jewelry display form. We could then design and balance out our charm arrangement in a pleasing way. You can see some of their work along with student work at the link above.

Here's what goes into the charm making- a table full of bits, pieces, and tools. We learned Jump Rings 101, and how to form tidy loops with wire to attach the charms.

We needed wire nippers, flat and needle-nose pliers along with a way to keep our charms in order. We were at about 11 charms in the photo above when it was time to break for lunch.

And what a lunch! Our instructors were also hostesses/chefs, and provided a lovely chicken on salad meal. They have such flair! That spooky silver hand held my napkin. The entire feast was presented with Halloween table accents.

Merri and Celeste had more than a dozen of their necklaces on display to spark our creativity. They've been busy making, and have taught this class several times to various sewing and fiber groups, so have lots of samples.

The metal tag and wooden spool were given to us to create more charms for future jewelry. My plan is to make more shrink plastic charms to include as well. I missed the entire shrink plastic decade, so am catching up now! There is a bit of a learning curve to achieve the results I'm aiming for, but more on that in another post.

I loved the bird's nest so much, I made another to have ready. The other five charms were part of our lesson and may be part of my class project eventually. But I ran out of right-size jump rings to attach them. There may be a Halloween necklace in the works, and perhaps a Christmas one, too. While working to complete this necklace, several others were inventing themselves in my mind. One thing I've learned is that I have many interests, and every one of them requires its own set of supplies and tools. No wonder I'm always trying to tame the chaos in the sewing room! 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Let's Make Some Noise...

 Earlier in the summer, I took part in a 30-day sketchbook event with artist Karen Abend in which I stitched a small vintage-look fiber collage (see some others at the link) each day. I knew my goal was to include many of them together in a journal, and at last, I've compiled the collages and completed the journal. It's awaiting a title, so make a suggestion in the comments if you have an idea. This project is another "crinkle" book, meaning the pages have a wonderfully crackly sound as they are turned. A noisy journal!

And the reason for the sound is that the pages are made using recycled plastic liners from cereal boxes. I learned the method from Kristen Robinson, and showed my first journal in this blog post last March. Interesting bits of paper, lace, and trim are encased between two sheets of the plastic, covered with parchment paper, and briefly ironed to adhere them together- thus embedding objects.

You can see the doily in this photo is embedded in the plastic. Then I stitched the collages on the fronts and backs of the pages. Some of the collages are made with free-motion stitching on paper, while others included used and dried tea bags, thread bits, and lots of other quirky things lying around in the sewing room!

This vintage girl photo is sewn to a tag with beads and faces a free-motion cityscape stitched on cheesecloth and a tea bag. Once all the collages were sewn in place, I stitched a line of decorative machine stitching around the edges, and bound them together. The book is lying on a lovely piece of rust-dyed fabric gifted to me by a quilting friend.

Burlap, sheet music, old postage stamps, buttons, even corrugated cardboard bits found their way into the pages. So the pages are very tactile and just invite a touch, but then they make the most satisfying sound to boot. What fun.

There is something so appealing to me about vintage photos. This wedding couple is a pair from one of Tim Holz's series of paper images you can purchase if you don't happen to have old photos of your own relatives. You might think this book put a dent in the large collection of found materials in the sewing room, but I can't see a discernible difference- there is lots more! Another book may be in order.

The back cover gives you a glimpse of images from the other pages inside along with the random threads embedded inside. Transparency is another bonus of using these recycled materials in bookmaking. So think "handmade crinkle book" before you toss out another cereal liner, and upcycle!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Cool Off Summer with Ice-Dyeing...

When all the fabric in a stash isn't quite enough, what's a quilter to do? Dye some, that's what! This cotton piece is one of several I created in a recent ice-dyeing workshop. The results are just fascinating. This piece was made using a "mandala fold"- manipulating the dry white cotton fabric to create folds that resist the dyes and create the radiating pattern. We piled 10 pounds of ice on top of our treated and folded fabrics which were in a large plastic tote, applied the dyes by squeezing them over the ice, bagged the whole shebang, and let time do the rest. There was no peeking for 24 hours while the ice melted. Then we could rinse and reveal the results. That was quite an exiting moment.

Here's another mandala fold. We used three dye colors and the placement of color is quite left to chance. My colors were Hot Pink (lightest and brightest), Peony (lavender), and Dances with Raisins (an eggplant or deep wine color) all purchased from Dharma Trading Company. For our method of ice-dying, we mixed the dye powder in plastic bottles to make a liquid coloring agent we squeezed onto the ice-covered fabrics.

This deep fuchsia piece was created by folding the fat quarter of fabric in a simple accordion or fan fold and securing it with rubber bands.

This one is also an accordion fold which was then folded in on itself to create more of a resist.

Casual scrunching of the fabric resulted in this splotchy effect that reminds me of fireworks.

Our tools of the trade included a dust mask and gloves worn for safety while handling the powdered dyes and mixing soda ash solution to soak the fabrics in to make them receptive to the dyes. And they were worn while mixing urea crystals in the dye solution in order to intensify the results and retain the color. So this was serious business. Our special cotton fabric was PFD- Prepared for Dyeing, which meant that no starch or other surface additives were present in it that would prevent the dye from penetrating the fibers.

Our dye-masters were sisters Celeste and Merri of Goatfeathers Studio, both of whom have done a lot of fabric dyeing. Their aprons were just two of their inspiring examples. They managed to lead a group of nearly 25 to amazing results while keeping the workroom spot free! It was great fun, and I'm sure there is more ice-dyeing ahead for me!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Girls of Summer...

All the beautiful flowers in bloom and hot, hot days- it's summer for sure! So out come the Flower Ladies. I learned to make these with Barb Owen of How to Get Creative, and they are simply a creative arrangement of magazine images. Barb provided a download for the faces, which is appreciated- I'm just learning to draw faces and mine might not look so serene.

Piecing these ladies together is a lot like piecing a quilt. There are lots of creative options, and moving the bits around to audition them is fun.

Of course, it makes for lots of scraps, but then so does quilting! This tutu girl may be my favorite, but it's hard to choose because I love the star crown and leaf wings of the first girl and the bright painted daisy of the second. Now to explore the uses for these Summer Lovelies.

And summer for us has always included a visit to Maine. Oh, the freshness of the air, and the beauty of the rocky coastline! So beautiful. We were there in the Kennebunkport area for a week and had lovely weather and lobster. Refreshing.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Porcine and Other Fiber Adventures...

Quite a few of my textile projects get their start on our quilt guild's freebie table. Such is the case with this hoop hanging featuring a flower-bedecked pig. A farm fabric with all sorts of barnyard animals was there for the taking. So was the wooden embroidery hoop. Our daughter is a fan of pigs, and supports several sanctuaries. I thought a hoop hanging might be just right for her. The only items I needed to purchase were the pom-pom trim and some felt to cover the back of this piece. I used fusible web, fabric, paint and embroidery floss from my stash and spent a few enjoyable evenings embroidering the accents. She looks like a star to me!

Also completed are 30 little stitched collages done in a vintage style as part of Find Your Flow- an online class with Karen Abend. Every day I'd combine bits and pieces, and assemble them on the sewing machine.

I pulled items from the assortment I've collected over the years, knowing that "someday" there would be a use for them. Someday has finally arrived, and I like how they go together along with the good feeling of recycling. This one has some old lace in the background, bridal trim, a stamp and vintage image atop a cleaned up tea bag.

More lace, yarn, tatting and trims combine in this tag that features a transparency image.

Here's another transparency with bridal trim, vintage buttons, another tea bag and a bit of sheet music.

Don't you love these twins? They are part of the die-cut vintage-look images by Tim Holz. The background is book paper, tea bag, cancelled stamps on a tag that is gel printed.

Toward the end of the 30 days, I departed from the fully neutral look by doing some free-motion stitch drawing and added color with Inktense pencils. All of the participants really gave their creative minds quite a workout. It was lots of fun, and my collages will go into a journal eventually.

Never content to work on only one thing at a time, I thought I'd show you this pile of goodness. It's on its way to becoming something soon. More will be revealed in time. No wonder my sewing room is often so out of control! In a good "messy fun" way of course.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Wild Garden...

It's that time of year when gardens are taking off with wild abandon. This "Wild Garden" quilt is one I started several years ago. The piecing and machine sewn applique pieces were the easy part. The project started out using a LizzieBCre8tive! pattern. I added the pieced border and changed the flower style a bit. The slow-down came when I began to machine quilt it. One big downfall for me in quilting, or in any project really, is thinking "this won't take long". I get started, then bog down. There was more to stitch than I anticipated (as usual), so the quilt got set aside for a time. At last our guild issued a challenge to complete some of those languishing projects. It was just the motivation I needed to get cracking and finish this one up!

In our Fiber Art Bee, we are doing a book study of Deborah Boschert's Art Quilt Collage. One exercise was to identify personal symbols that we consistently use in our work. I discovered that this bloom I call a "splat flower" is one of mine. They seem whimsical, playful and free, which is often the goal for my work.

I love the twining vines and two-toned leaves also.

In addition to quilting, I get a lot of other projects underway. Throughout June I've been participating in artist Karen Abend's Find Your Flow -a 30 day creative practice. My commitment was to sew a small collage each day of the month. The goal is to make some art a daily practice, to more fully explore one style of our choice, and to be accountable by posting our work in a private Facebook group. It was a very good practice and it caused me to stretch as I considered the materials and how to combine them in new ways each day. I also stuck to a neutral palette for the most part, though there are touches of color towards the end. Messy stitching created the message and the heart on a tea bag in this little fragment.

Keeping it simple with a free-motion stitched bloom sewn on lace and a cardstock piece.

Here's a vintage bathing beauty photo stitched to a tea bag, atop a scrap of lace fabric. The old stamp and a bit from bridal trim accent the collage. I can't get enough vintage-style art! And I'm pretty fond of recycling bits and pieces of fabric and trim along with unusual materials. I'm planning a journal to showcase the collages together. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Now What?!!

Just take a piece of muslin and some dry-wall paste... WHAT?? Yes, that is the formula for making this art book. I made this following along with an online class taught by Donna Downey titled Metamorphosis. And that's how we began. After spreading the paste on both sides of the muslin, it dries with a flexible weightiness to it. And a few wrinkles and cracks which enhance the texture. This book has four sheets, which is to say 8 two-sided pages.

Once dry, the pages are ready for paint, stamping, stenciling, image transfers, and anything else a creative mind can come up with. The neutral, grungy look is intentional. I don't know yet what these pages will house- some type of imagery. But I await the inspiration to continue!

In addition to the binding, which is sari ribbon, the book also got a tassel made with yarn, fiber strips, and rhinestone trim plus sparkly beads. I like a binding that is bushy and full of fiber, inviting touch.

Here's a backpage view. This was so much fun to make, and I've got leftover joint compound, so I know I'll try more journals like this- maybe with printed fabrics and more color. Donna calls this an "ARTbook". I call it a Slap-Journal because the weight of it makes a satisfying slap when the pages are turned or it's set down on a table. At the same time I was working on the journal, I was enrolled in Karen Abend's online Sketchbook Revival. It was a free class featuring a series of video lessons by a variety of artists, from bookmakers to sketch artists to mixed media artists and water colorists. Quite broadening and enlightening. Karen has followed it up with a 30-day creative practice called Find Your Flow in which participants are encouraged to commit to a daily practice for the month of June. 

The look of the journal prompted me to commit to making a layered and stitched fabric and paper collage like this one each day. My plan is that they'll be incorporated into a journal of some sort when the 30 days are completed. Maybe even this journal, though I'm envisioning something else at the moment. But I have lots of time to decide.

I worked on the journal while visiting Disney's Flower & Garden Festival 2018 at Epcot. It was lovely, and I enjoyed the displays and the refreshing foods like this watermelon and lime cooler.

We also visited Animal Kingdom for a day. It was overcast and a little drizzly which brought more animals out during the Safari ride than usual. There were several impressive Silverback Gorillas watching us watching them.

Can you see the lion king and his lady atop this rock pile? Such a fun place to visit.