Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Under the Weather

Today nothing much got done. Seems I am trying to come down with something so am taking it easy and hoping I dodge this particular bullet.

The last few months have been a busy time. I've been in the process of finally trying to set up a printmaking studio in our storage building. It's been a major deal to go through all the junk that has been stashed in there over the last 12 years (and I'm not done yet!). We had boxes that we moved here that were never even opened. It was a eye opening process to see how one's priorities have changed (i.e. why did I bother to pack and move this stuff up here???). Anyway the process has advanced to the point I've actually spent a lot of time the last few days in the studio doing drawings for new prints.

And now I actually have heat! My DH found a very nice pellet stove and installed it last weekend so the place can now be made cozy without wearing 6 layers of clothes. But the most symbolic event for me was unwrapping and cleaning my etching press. It's a beautiful press made especially for me by The Griffin Company in Oakland, California. Now for the shameful admission...It has been also sitting here for 12 years under a bedsheet. So yesterday was all about removing the plastic and degreasing the bed in preparation for printing. I am really looking forward to spending time here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Way of Working

For the last couple of weeks I have been working on a lot of different things...setting up a new studio, starting another challenge piece and working on some pieces of slow cloth. Working on slow cloth is new to me. I've never thought of myself as a hand stitcher although I love the look of it. This month I decided that I needed to try a new way of working, and I have to admit the pace of making with hand stitch is very soothing. I started out with some small squares of denim and embroidery thread but found the stitching a bit tough even with a chenille needle. So I moved over to a square of muslin, no batting just two layers of fabric and played a bit with silk floss, something I'd never used before. I love the way the stitch distorts the fabric and gives it texture. Shisha was another thing I've always loved and wanted to try so I've been experimenting with that as well. But something larger is in process and I'll have to show it later when it's a little farther along.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Winter Tradition

For the last three years every winter I've made a traditional quilt. I pull out my Kaffe Fassett books and browse through until I find something that seems suitably stunning color-wise and I get started. If necessary I make templates, but most often I can figure out a way to use a rotary cutter to cut the pieces I need. I go through my huge stash of Kaffe fabrics and then I get started. Sometimes I'll order a kit if I'm feeling particularly attached to the outcome as far as pattern and color. I live in an area where I have to drive to get to quilt shops. My favorite local shop went out of business just last year, and with the economy it's getting harder and harder to find interesting fabrics locally, so sometimes I have to resort to online shopping. That's what I did for this quilt, that I made last winter (08-09). I named it Persian Star.

I'd never done a diamond quilt on the machine. I have a huge box full of English paperpieced blocks in 'sweet' pastels that I'd done over the years carrying them in my 'travel kit' so I have something to do when I'm stranded waiting but I haven't done anything with them yet. So I hopefully dove in and completed the center of this one in a decent amount of time. But then the border took forever. Making all those identical little squares then sewing them into strips. After I finished the Sunshine Mandala baby quilt, I pulled this back out and started to put the borders on it. It would feel good to get it finished, at least the piecing part. Well, the borders don't fit. The instructions warned that the border was a bit 'fiddly' but I didn't expect it to be this far off. So I folded it back up and decided it could wait a bit longer until I figure out a plan for the border. In the meantime I've gone back to quilting the behemoth I made the winter before (07-08)--a huge pink floral squares thing. I'm only ditching it, but it's taking forever also. So maybe that's part of the reason why I'm feeling attracted to small pieces, hand made that I can sit by the fire with?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pre-Holiday Obsession and Clarity

In the months before the Christmas holidays I was pretty absorbed with this...

A baby quilt for my niece Amy. I spent about 10 months looking for fabrics and thread to make this quilt. I even went ahead and used some of my hand dyed fabrics to fill in the blanks in the design. I enjoyed working on it once I got over the usual hump of sitting down and starting the quilting. The machine quilting was probably one of the best jobs I've done to date. My miters on the binding were perfect in all 4 corners (!). But something was nagging in the back of my mind.

I realized that I'm spending far too much precious time making 'traditional' designs in fabrics I love. What I really need to do is start making the designs that are in my head. Things that don't involve rotary cutters, high speed sewing machines and fusible web. This has been on my mind for quite some time. I've been following the blogs of Judy Martin and Jude Hill and I've started to see a new way to work with cloth. A slower way. A hand made way. So I've joined the Slow Cloth group on Facebook. Look for some out of character (for me) pieces here in the next year or so.

Of course I won't be giving up my annual wintertime Kaffe Fassett brain drain because it's therapeutic to see those colors when the outside world is so grey and bleak.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Catching Up

I've finally gotten around to cropping and resizing photos from some of the other workshops/projects I've done this last year. So today I am posting photos from the "Painting with Thickened Dyes' workshop I took with Cynthia McKee in Ashland last October. All of these pieces are done with Procion MX dyes on Dharma print cloth. I really enjoyed this process and plan to do more this coming summer when things warm up a bit here and I can work outside...

This piece uses monoprinting from a plexiglass plate which I really loved. I was surprised at how much detail you could get by mixing the dye a little thicker with print paste.

Sunday, January 3, 2010