Chiffon and TulleThis was more play and practice using chiffon, tulle and other see through things. I even cut the end off of a pareo to do it (I can refinish the edge with some woolly thread, no biggie).

I originally tried this with smaller squares and WAY more fabrics but it got to look a little dark and muddy, not the effect that I was going for at all.

Now, if I’m to do this properly, I’m going to follow it up with overstitching done by hand in different colours of thread to see if that has any effect on the colours as well.  I might actually play with some tertiary colours without meaning to what with the complimentary mix gong on already. It was fun but I might shift it around a little more before I baste it all down with long white running stitches (to be removed later of course).

I see irises and pansies.

Playing With Strip Piecing

StripKeyI’ve noticed that the title of a lot of my posts start with the word Playing.  I’ve got a long history of making this tough on myself and I like this version of work much better.

So. To challenge myself a little (because my life isn’t challenging enough), I took a picture from the file of Images That Speak To Me.  What? Don’t you have one? Haven’t you been flipping through a magazine and stopped on an ad or an article just for the sheer sake of what you see in front of you, not the product that they may be selling.  Something about the colour or the perspective, the texture.  Could be anything but it says something to you even if you don’t understand what it’s saying.

The original image is 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″. The interpretation is 5″ x 8″.  There are piles of rejected strips of fabric on my worktable.  This one was too purple, this one too swirly, this one the entirely wrong shade of blue altogether.

There’s still a long way to go before this is completed, all I really have is the beginning but, as far as beginnings go, this one is good. What does the original image say to me?  I’m not telling until you tell me what it says to you.

Paint Therapy

Just a few primary colours. Nothing to be afraid of here.

This was a quick little exercise that was pretty much no fail as there wasn’t a specific goal other than to see what it looked like.


This was playing with transparency a bit but I don’t know if I’m grooving on the acrylics.  My painter friend swore that she wouldn’t touch acrylics after she tried oils for the first time but I kind of like them.

There was a sampler pack of acrylic additives at work, things like gel medium that you can use to add texture.  They’re interesting but I don’t know that I’m curious enough to try them yet. Way too many other thing on the list first.

It’s supposed to be cold and rainy again tomorrow so I think I’ll hunker in and do some quilting. It even sounds warm.

Acrylic Cities and Pastel Prairies

I was playing with pastels and markers and acrylics today as a break after finishing Script Frenzy (Yay Me!). I needed something that didn’t involve typing or plot twists and this is what I came up with.

The actual piece is just the square on the left. The dark thing to the right is the mask and pattern that I used for the background and lines.  The lighter fuzzier city line in the middle of the page was done with pastels in different blues, purples and black. Then I used a brayer to roll full test acrylic over the pastel mask onto the background. I made it a lot darker than I intended but live and learn. I was hoping that the blue came through a little more.
I moved the mask around and used it as a pattern to make lines with a permanent black marker.  After that, I did a really watery acrylic wash in dark purple. It looks faint but that’s only because it’s seriously watered down.

The other one was done with just pastels and a torn paper mask. I was just playing with the warmer colours and seeing what I could do to make it look like a landscape.  The really dark line near the bottom is the actual mask with the remnants of all of the pastels that I crushed into it.

I think tomorrow after class I’m going to play with my sewing machine. I’ve got some quilting that I want to take care of it and a few small fabric postcards to try out.  Maybe some polymer? Has it been long enough?

Ooh, Swirly

I have a long history of garment sewing. I’ve been making my own clothes since I was in my teens and the bane of my sewing career has always been those damn eased seams.

Not the ones on the armholes, for some reason those are ridiculously easy. You know the ones, Princess Seams. When my best friend got married, we opted to make all of the bridesmaids’ dresses because she was a sewer as well and, when we all get together… shit gets done. 6 dresses didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility (2 junior bridesmaids, it didn’t seem THAT big at the time). All dresses had those long princess seams.

This piece of fabric is made up of some of the fat quarters that I dyed a few weeks back and I pieced them together using a free form rotary cutter technique where you stack the fabrics on top of each other and just run the cutter in a random zig-zaggy line.  That’s the easy part, it’s the sewing the matching pieces together without a whack of puckers all over the place that’s the challenge.

By making little parallel marks on the back of the fabric, I was able to match the 1/4″ seam mark along the entire length of the fabric and know that it was perfectly aligned.  Because it was perfectly aligned, there were no puckers (that you can see anyway so shut up :D  ) Truth be told, there’s a little bit of a ripple near the deep yellow curve at the bottom.  I wanted to see how extreme a curve I could get without having the trim the ease at all. I think that’s getting pretty close to the limit there.

The combination of primary colours and wavy lines is saying something to me and I think I might like to do wavy free form borders on my next baby quilt. In primary colours of course.  So far it measures 22″x22″

More Monoprinting

Playing with fabric this time. These weren’t terribly directed, I mean, I had a loose idea of what I wanted to do but I wasn’t trying to create anything for a specific use.

These are done on plain old cotton fabric with Procion MX dyes that have been dissolved into a sodium alganate gel. This project was awesome because there’s a flurry of activity at the end of it but, for the most part, there’s a ton of prep. You have to soak the cotton in soda ash solution and let it dry. You have to dissolve the alganate in water for a couple of days until it’s this gooey homogenous gel rather than chunks of gel in the bottom of a jar of water.

I’m good at prep and, by the time all the prep is done, I’m so close to finished that it’s almost easy to take the actual step into doing it. “Come on, 10 minutes and it’ll be done! You can do this for another 10 minutes.”

Truth is, I want to keep doing it but… what if it doesn’t work? What if it’s ugly? What if I’ve just wasted all of this stuff?  Yikes. So, that’s the voice that I”m trying to quiet.

So, notes for next time: take my time. This is the first time I’d used dye like this so I rushed a little. Consequently, my registration isn’t so clean. I would work on that a little more. The time factor means that I can also take a little longer actually making my impression marks and get more detail on the petals.

I’d also like to try a different brayer.  Something spongy maybe so my coverage of the acetate is a little more consistent.

AND, I want to try this dye with an actual silk screen.  The consistency is really close to Speedball ink and I think I could get some pretty clean registration with it.  I really need to work on my colours though, they dry so much lighter than they look wet, it’s something that I’m going to have to get used to.

Monoprinting Play

I love screenprinting. This wasn’t screenprinting but it was close. The reason that I bring up screenprinting is because it is one of the few art forms that my perfectionism seems to leave me alone. It’s a great thing to be able to freely shrug my shoulders and have another whack at it without the Furies acting up.

I also have a tendency to get caught up in one place.  Like my brain decides that the Martha Street Studio is the only place in the ENTIRE world that I can do screenprinting.  In an effort to break that thought a liittle, I did the easiest, low-tech version that I could put together from what I had on hand.  Just to see if I would balk.  I totally didn’t (yay me!) so I’m going to try to graduate up to monoprinting on fabric.  Eventually, I’d like to do my own batik in snake-y jade greens and clear dark aquamarines.  Maybe even a few in the rich velvety reds. Yummy.

Dying For Adventure

I know, I just can’t resist the bad joke there.  This was a little bit of playing around with colour again.  I was trying to teach myself low immersion dying and see what I could do with the Procion MX pigments that I have.

It was awesome as a process because there’s so much advance stuff to do that I was into it before I could even think twice (which is really the secret to most of my artistic accomplishments).

So essentially, you mix up these powdered pigments  (I have the primary colours in Scarlet, Royal Blue and Yellow) in a little bit of water till it’s smooth then add about a cup of warm water to make the dye.  After you have all of your colours where you want them, you put your little pieces of cloth (fat quarters of PFD in this case) into baggies and then soak them with soda ash solution.  After they’re saturated, you spoon the pigments over it until the cloth is all soaked through.  Wrap ’em up and let them sit in a warm room for an hour.

Rinse in cold and then machine wash on hot.  Press them when they’re damp and you’re done.  The ones on the right side are blends of complementary colours, when you mix them, you get all sorts of neutral browns and greens and such.

What did I learn? I learned to make twice as much yellow as all of the other colours.  The orange and green colours that I hit were both a ratio of 10:1 for yellow:red/blue respectively.  The purple was a straight 1:1 for red:blue.  I learned that I need to add much more dye to the bag as some of my fabric pieces were still almost white in the middle.

I’m Afraid Of Paint

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I’m terrified of paint. I’ve been sewing my entire life (that I can remember) and I’m pretty fearless when it comes to fabric. I know how to fix pretty much anything that I could screw up. I know how most fabrics behave, more importantly, I know my machine like the back off my hand.

Paint… not so much. I have no idea which brush does what.  I have no idea how to mix paints so that they are the colour that I want and not just the colour in the tube.  I have no idea when to use lots of water and when to use lots of paint.

So I decided to work on my technique a little more in the hopes that it’ll translate onto fabric. This was a white peach that was tasty, tasty.  I mixed the colours from primary red, blue and yellow.  Throw in some Payne’s gray and white and it becomes the most humbling experience in a long time.  Eventually I would like to be able to replicate the colours that I see in fabric.  Practice, practice, practice (Slavik accent of course).