Friday, May 6, 2016

THE JOKES ON ME

After nixing further work on a large string quilt, intended for our BIG stairwell wall, I decided to dig out some quilts I made back in the early days.  As you all know, I'm no longer particularly fond of piecing......though that construction method was my entry point into quiltmaking in the mid 1980's.

I truly CAN NOT believe I actually pieced this complex quilt....and hand quilted it.  My memory led me to believe that these older quilts were too small for the wall.  Apparently not!

It's still a bit wavy at the bottom after being folded for far too long, but it should hang out nicely.  The hardest part in replacing a quilt for this space is getting the wooden quilt hanger off the wall and back up!  The feet of a tall extension ladder rest on the stairway and the top leans against the wood ceiling. 

The previous quilt was removed and replaced with this Storm At Sea quilt.  "The husband" spent his career in the scaffolding business and thankfully is not afraid of heights!!


Check out these links to see what other creative folks have been up to this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Sews.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MARY'S BEADING TECHNIQUE

Over at the C & T blog occasionally different beading techniques from my book "All-In-One Beading Buddy are posted.  This one just popped up.  Though the book is now out of print, it is available as an ebook for $6.99.
Decorative bead strings secure braid or other objects to fabric.
1. Position braid, come up through fabric at A.
2. String sufficient number of beads to completely cover thread as it crosses over braid (either horizontally or diagonally), go down at B.
3. Come up at C, add beads, go down at D (same angle as A/B).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

FIBER JUNKIES - APRIL MEETING - DISCHARGE TECHNIQUES

Our most recent Fiber Junkies meeting focused on discharge techniques.  I got so involved that my photo record of our day is pretty thin....but here's an overview of the supplies we tried.
The plastic grid came from Kate....it originally held lace but we thought it'd be a good 'template' for surface design.  I applied a bleach pen to the holes and scribbled around the edge. 
 You never know what color will appear after the bleach does its job.....
We were all anxious to use the granulated bleach that FJ member Denny shared with us.  The results were very mixed.....it did a great job if bleached out dots were all you wanted.  But less successful when it came to using stencils.
It was difficult to control this product when working with defined shapes. We applied it to wet/damp fabric and allowed it to bleach out.....unfortunately these larger images simply didn't work well.
Here's Val's design using a bleach pen.....
I think this was Kate's....the bleach pen worked almost instantly on this hand-dyed fabric.
I concentrated on using mainly silk noil....which may account for the mostly disappointing results.  However, this method worked much better.  When using the discharge paste that Judy brought, we initially found the impressions were too indistinct when working with stencils because the medium migrated under the stencil designs.  

This group is so clever....and came up with the idea of placing the stencil on the fabric and then covering it with a blank silk screen.  This kept the stencil flat and firmly on the fabric as the paste was pressed through the screen.

Thie view of this piece is after screening, while it dried outside.
Once the paste dries, it's transformed by pressing with a hot iron (wear a mask).  The bottom tree images purposely had more heat applied than the top one to provide different appearances.

On the lower right of this crackled design, you can see where the hot iron has completed its work......while the balance awaits more pressing OR not. That's the beauty of this method......the color changes can be manipulated.

It was a fun day.....and I have a small pile of poor results that will be my base fabric at our next meeting where we will yet again tackle deconstructed screen printing.  We all just love the process and do it about twice a year.....even if we don't know what to do with the treasures we create!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

LEFTOVER BLOCKS

Awhile back I blogged about a string quilt I started to add to the rotation of quilts that are displayed on a large stairwell wall.  I'm no longer really interested in doing patchwork and my vision for how this would finish was not in line with reality. So my enthuasiam quickly disappeared.
 After much musing, I added narrow white sashing strips between the blocks. BUT because the string piecing was done on a muslin foundation, the resulting seams were very untidy due to the bulk.  In the end.....it went to our dog....really it did.  She sneaks up on our denim couch when we aren't around so this quilt now protects it.
 I had 13 blocks leftover.  So...maybe they could be a table runner?  Placemats? Nah....  Instead I made a few more blocks to make a donation lap quilt.  I kinda liked this look....but when I thought about the piecing...where one color would replace another, it seemed awkward.
Instead (and to increase the size of the quilt), I added 2" finished sashing strips with "corner stones".  Surely this will brighten someone's day.

I have so many art quilt ideas stacked up......it's time to direct my energies elsewhere!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

FELTING SLIPPERS

"The son" & DIL gifted me some felting supplies for Christmas. I've been wanting to try my hand at making felted slippers for a long time.  It WAS supposed to only take about 2-3 hours.....NOT, def. NOT!
 I started with a kit from Living Felt, thinking it'd be wise to have some specific instructions as a first time slipper felter!  The instructions were excellent, but if you already have felting supplies, it's unnecessarily expensive.

The first step was to trace one's bare feet and then expand that outline by 1"-2".  After tracing the 1" margin I decided to go back and do the full 2".....outlined now in red.
  
 The shape was transferred to a flexible plastic resist.
 Cut out and placed on my work surface from bottom up: towel, bubble wrap, netting.
 I also splurged on olive oil soap which is shredded and dissolved in hot water.  I've always just used bar soap from the huge stash I have via hotel stays.  I have to say, I'm not sure whether this soap helps the wool to felt better, but my hands appreciated it.
 The instructions recommended using hot water.....as hot as hands can stand. Which meant zapping water in a ceramic bowl in the kitchen and carrying it up to my studio where it was added to a larger plastic container with the soap.
 Two layers of Living Felt's wool batting where placed over each template, altering the direction of the wool fibers.  Then it was 'wetted out' using the hot soapy water and a sponge.
 Next the wool is patted smoothly, removing any air bubbles.  Excess wool is wrapped to the opposite side....smoothly evenly.  These steps are repeated two more times on each side of the template.
 Now the real work begins......between a layer of netting....each slipper is rolled up with bubble wrap....rolling, repositioning, rolling, rolling, adding more hot soapy water.  You can see I transferred my 'package' to a shallow tin tray to help control the water.
After the wool begins to hold together.....it's moved to a bamboo mat and gets the same treatment....lots of rolling, repositioning, adding hot soapy water.   Finally.....after way too much physical work (grinning), they are ready for the next step.

A slit is cut in the center of the top layer of each one, shaping the opening, and removing the resist.  The final 'fulling' (which means felting the pieces till the shrink and are VERY firm), takes additional time.  As I do at this stage when felting bowls, the item is pretty aggressively thrown onto a hard flat surface, between 100 - 200 times. That action really helps to bond the fibers together, shrinking the wool even further. 

I followed the suggestion to put the wet slimy slippers on to form them to ones' foot.  

Finally they are rinsed and the final shaping is complete.  It will take several days for them to dry.

Frankly, they are kinda a mess.....some of the felt layers really never meshed, even though it certainly felted sufficiently, shrinking by about 2" in every direction. You can see a separation on the right slipper's opening.  The edges of the openings are very thick, and unattractive because the colors of the uneven various layers are visible. Clearly, additional practice is needed.


Lessons learned:  If I make any more, I'll stick to one color, except for the final top layer where I could add some roving to create an interesting pattern.  Also, I'm not a fan of what Living Felt calls 'wool batts'.  Even when making bowls I don't feel I have the control of thickness when using this product. It's supposed to be faster because it shortens the time of laying out layers and layers of wool roving.  However, given my (still fairly limited) experience, I'll use roving instead.


The untidy edges are driving me nuts, so I'm considering doing a blanket stitch with wool embroidery thread around the openings. OR perhaps wrapping a narrow strip of Ultra-suede, and securing by machine if possible, otherwise by hand.  


Why not pop over to see what other artists have been up to this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Sews.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

COLOR OF NATURE - P.S.

I'm popping in today to share this one last photo of our exhibit.  Judy and I had to meet there today to add 4 replacement pieces (YEAH!!) so I was able to snap a photo of our 3 pieces that greet viewers as they enter the space.  

We each used the same pattern....different fabrics (obviously) and different size patches......we thought that would be fun for folks to see.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

FIBER ART - THE COLOR OF NATURE EXHIBIT - PART 2

The quilts are hung but there was still much to be accomplished.
 Our signage has to be placed next to each quilt.  The Arboretum insists on a specific height for each sign.....so it's necessary to take the time to measure.
 The wire display system can be quite unmanageable when hanging pieces one above the other.....but we are a good team and got it done.  The ends of each wire will be coiled and hidden behind the quilts.
We ran out of wire hangers....as has happened in the past.  I've had good luck at home using 3-M Command Clips to hang my small mounted work.  They weren't keen about using them at first, but once we pointed out that it wasn't any more harmful than using adhesive dots for the signage....they agreed.  AND....don't the 4 pieces on the right look so much better without the distracting wires?
As I said, we attempt to compose a cohesive display......with no attempt to segregate our work individually.  However, as it happened these three pieces are mine.
Kate often works in a color palette that reflects her love of the Folly Beach, SC area. Her "Century Plant" piece is one of my favorites!  We chose three of my mounted pieces, featuring beadwork and agates to be displayed next to Kate's  quilt.
We are off to a good start.....my piece was purchased the very next day, before the actual opening of the show!  And......two more sold over the weekend....one of Judy's and one of Kate's.  A portion of all sales benefit the Arboretum.

Monday, April 25, 2016

FIBER ART - THE COLOR OF NATURE EXHIBIT - PART 1

FIBER ART - THE COLOR OF NATURE EXHIBIT -  NC ARBORETUM, ASHEVILLE, NC 
April 21 - July 11, 2016

BEHIND THE SCENES - Anyone who has ever volunteered to hang a quilt show knows it can be a lot of work.  This is a tad different, given we only had about 90 pieces with 4 people to hang them, but it still took us many hours!
 A blank slate awaits....allowing us to determine the location of each piece.  We have 2 narrow areas, and two much larger spaces that all flow together.
We are continually surprised at just how well our pieces complement each other.  We don't  attempt to display the work of each maker in separate locations, rather we think mixing them together keeps the viewers attention as they wander the exhibit and experience style and color changes.
 We had so many pieces that many will be presented one above the other.
Here we are in the upper lobby of the NC Arboretum in Asheville; Mary Stori, Judy Simmons, and Kate Weston......nearing the end of our hanging duties in front of one of Kate's quilts.

Check back again....I'll have some photos of the pieces hung.  Also, hop over to Judy's blog to view addtional photos.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

FINAL EMBELLISHED BOWL IN BATCH

The embellishing process for this bowl took quite a bit longer.....about 6+ hours of beading.....but it adds so much, especially on this larger vessel.

Base 6" x 3" Tall -  Available here

Friday, April 22, 2016

EMBELLISHED FELTED BOWLS

Yup, I can't leave well enough alone. Embellishing continues to be a trademark of my overall style...whether it's working with woven fabric or creating work from wool roving!

Here are 4 of my newest wet felted bowls.....available for purchase here.




Grab a cup of coffee and follow these links to see what inspiring work others have created this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday,  Sarah's Whoop Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Quilts