Handmade Christmas

For my littlest niece

The tote bags are done (finally) and the Christmas quilting has begun.  I have three nieces, and they are all getting quilts for Christmas.  I have had the tops done for a few months, but I have really procrastinated on getting the quilting and binding done.

This is the first one completed.  I love how bright and fun this is.  My middle niece is the smallest of the three girls.  She is such a petite little thing, so bright and happy.  This is perfect for her.  I used a flannel back on it for extra warmth.  They live in a very cold climate and she will love wrapping up in this.

The quilting is almost done on the second quilt, and the third quilt is basted and ready to quilt.  I still think I can get these done in time to ship out for Christmas delivery.  Wish me luck!

Fall Foto Friday

More Distractions

What I am Working On

 

This is a photo of part of my sewing room (sorry about that light shining in your eyes!)  I took on a project to help out a friend that turned out to be a little more involved than I thought.  Her husband has been in and out of the hospital for the last nine months.  Several times they thought he wouldn’t make it.  She has drawn on her church family for strength and support over these months, and its time to give back.  The church is having a craft fair and she is setting up a booth to help support it.  I volunteered to help out, and I am making 20 tote bags for her booth.  It’s been a big project and I’m glad to be doing it!

If you’re in the area, stop by the first Baptist Church, Ashville OH on December 3 and support an amazing church!

My other big project has been setting up a new domain for this blog.  This has turned out to be more complicated and time draining than anticipated.  It’s getting closer and I’m really excited about how it is coming together.   And Gatorhost has really awesome customer service!

From the Design Wall Part 1

Starting Out

This is the first of a series of posts showing how an art quilt goes from the design wall to a finished piece.  I am writing these as I am making this piece, so there will be some posts before and after each post in this series.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I go, so please let me know what you think in the comment section.

Starting out, I went into my stash of hand dyed fabric (I do this myself) and found this nice grey/blue length that seemed a good neutral background for the piece I have in mind.  Then I started looking for color.  I auditioned several colors and the photo above is what I started out with.

Percolating

My usual process is to let an idea percolate for awhile, while I work on other things.  The photo above shows another fabric I added into the mix.  It seems to give it the little bit of pop I was looking for.

That little piece of white over there to the right are some very rough sketches of some of the shapes I want to incorporate into this piece.  Here is a close up…

sketches

You see…very rough sketches.  But they give me an idea of the direction I will go — I have ruled out some shapes and combinations and have kept some as more interesting.  Keep in mind that these are a starting point.  I may end up with something entirely different.  The point of this process is to get the thinking/creativity started.

This will stay up on the design wall for a couple more days, as I continue to think about exactly how to translate my idea into fabric.  Next step, I will start cutting and throwing the shapes up onto the design wall.

Creative Journey

Beginning

Where does your creative journey begin?

Mine began many moons ago, when I was a child.  Maybe it was simply that my mother wanted to keep me busy.  (Hi Mom!)  Or maybe she wanted to share her interests with me.  Regardless, I started stitching (crewel embroidery) when I was about five.  I moved on to knitting and sewing soon after.  My best birthday present when I was 10 was a sewing machine.

My road has had many branches.  I played the violin for many years, performing in a youth orchestra which toured the US and Europe.  (All kinds of awesome to travel like that while in college!)  For many years, my craft/art of choice was cross stitch.  At the same time I kept sewing.  I even took my sewing machine with me to grad school.  And back then, it wasn’t what the cool kids were doing!

When I moved to Ohio, I discovered quilting.  I joined a guild and learned how to put a quilt together.  I think I even took a class offered by the guild, in spite of not learning well in classrooms.  I kept up with other crafts as well…knitting and some other random things that I can’t remember now.

Somehow, from traditional quilting I found art quilts.   I still keep my hand in with knitting, spinning, sewing, traditional quilting and even some mixed media work.  These seem to give me the balance I need to create my art quilts.  And my photography plays a huge role in the inspiration for my art quilts.

All the branches in the road have come together.  My road is clear, and my journey has a destination.

Where does your creative journey begin?

More Surface Design And…

Random Fabric

The surface design exercises are continuing here.  Everything is in process and not yet ready for photos (i.e. in a dye bath) so you will have to wait a day or two for pictures.  I am working through the first two exercises in Jane Dunnewold’s book Complex Cloth and enjoying this so much — I am loving each piece of fabric I am creating.  Except the part where I spilled a couple gallons (yes gallons!)  of dye bath all over the laundry room!

Also have a new art quilt on the design board.  I have fabric up and a couple of sketches.  I am really excited to be making a new art quilt.  It has been WAY to long since I have 1) been inspired and 2) let myself just play and create.  Its feeling really good!

What Inspires You

Canadian Flowers in a Field

Inspiration is a funny thing.  It comes in waves — either you have an overabundance, or none at all.

Japanese Tea House

Sometimes color within an image is the inspiration.  Sometimes it’s texture.  And sometimes it’s just the view through a window.

Blue Door in Mexico

I am always fascinated by doors.  Especially the colorful, ornate, doors in Mexico.

A Well-Traveled Path

And paths are intriguing…where do they lead and what awaits you at your destination.

Over the years, I have created a very large (and still growing) catalog of photographs.  When I am looking for inspiration, I start flipping through my files.  Sometimes I get lost in the memories.  Sometimes I get hit with the lightening flash of inspiration, and I am compelled to get in my studio and get busy.  But more often, inspiration comes as a slow burn…it simmers for a day or two.  I play with fabric and in my sketchbook.  And slowly it builds up until it boils over into something beautiful.

What inspires you?

Rainy Days and the Blues

Rainy Day

Today has been different.  It rained again today, and it seems like everyone I have met up with has the blues.  Not just kinda down but really blue.

And I have to say that it has affected me.   Not quite to the point where I am down and out myself.  But I am having a hard time getting up the energy to be creative, or to learn about something new, or even to read a book.

Sitting around watching movies is about all I am up for right now.  I think everyone has a go-to when they are feeling down.  For some, it can be a cup of tea and a good book.  For others, it might be drinking.  My go-to is to watch a movie — a specific movie.  The Devil Wears Prada.

I don’t know why.  Maybe because the main theme is discovering  and being true to yourself.  And this has been my journey for the last couple of years in particular.  Or maybe it’s just the awesome clothes!  Probably a little of both.

What’s your go-to when you are feeling down?

From “Fugly” to “Has Potential”

Possibilities

This piece was some of the fugliest fabric I have ever ever ever dyed.  It was awful.  I had dyed it a green that didn’t turn out nice and overdyed it in a brownish red that just muddied up the green until  it looked…it just was fugly.

So while I am fooling around with surface design again, trying to get back into the swing of it, this seemed like a good piece to work with.  It couldn’t get any worse!

I started with deconstructed screen printing.  This was a new-to-me technique that I now really like.  The process is to mix up some print paste (urea, thickener, water) and add in some dye.  Then create your screen — I used some plastic artist rubbing material, put it under the screen and pulled the dye paste over it.  This created an imprint on the screen, which I then let dry overnight.  This is what it looked like.

screen with imprint

Then I put the screen on the fabric and pulled screen paste (print past with soda ash mixed in) across it.  The first prints come out dark and clear, then fade and muddy up as you continue screening.  So I was moving all over the fabric with the screen and just that first step was a huge improvement.

Then I went in with some thermofax screens and printed the maple seeds in brown, and some flowers in a golden yellow with thickened dye.  I am not completely happy with how the flowers came out but that’s no big deal.  And finally I went in with a leaf stamp and stamped it up with some green thickened dye.

When using these types of techniques, I would normally batch this by steaming.  Since this was the only piece I was working on, I went ahead with a washout instead.  The only problem I had with the washout was that some of the brown migrated.  But that actually made the fabric a bit better!

I really enjoyed playing around with this.  I don’t think anyone would say this fabric is beautiful.  But it definitely has potential!

A Break from Surface Design

Batik Baby Quilt

In between all of the surface design activities last weekend and into the week, I have been sewing on this little sweetie.  I was going through my scrap stash the other day and found a good size stack of 5″ squares.  These came from a couple of different sources, but mostly from a time several years ago when Debra Lunn of Lunn Fabrics came to speak at my quilt guild.  She gave out a small stack of their beautiful batik fabrics to everyone who was there.

Obviously nothing fancy here…just 5″squares sewn together, and slap on a 6″ border and voila!  You have a baby quilt!  But it was nice to have some sewing that didn’t require much concentration and still came together lovely.  Sometimes simple is best.

I’m looking forward to getting this quilted.  It is first in line now behind the Christmas gift quilting and in front of the vintage quilts.  Lots of tops already to be quilted, and still sketching out ideas for art quilts.  This will be an exciting winter in the studio!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.