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?
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.
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!
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!
You can fill in the blank! Here’s how an unfortunate set of mistakes led to a fortunate result!
Most people who know me, know that I am…hmmm…well, mathematically challenged. And I am particularly challenged in measurements. This has resulted in a number of interesting choices in lengths of fabric to buy — sometimes too much, sometimes too little. Also some serious miscalculations in the number/size of blocks needed for a quilt. In part, this is why I embrace art quilts…very little measuring involved!
This length of fabric was meant to be Exercise 1 in Jane Dunnewold’s book, Complex Cloth. (By the way, this is an awesome book and if you are at all interested in surface design I highly recommend you get this.) In this exercise, you are to immersion dye the fabric, discharge, overdye, and stamp the fabric. So I measured out the water and chemicals, added the dye powder and dyed the fabric a really lovely light blue.
After I washed it out, I thought that the dye didn’t penetrate the fabric like it should, but it was a nice result so I moved on to step 2. This step is to discharge the fabric with household bleach. (Discharging removes the dye.) I don’t like the smell of bleach, and I found a bleach pen in my drawer so I just used that. It didn’t work…the design I drew with the bleach pen on the fabric did not discharge.
So I just moved on to step 3, overdying the fabric. Again I mixed up the chemicals, added the dye powder and dyed the fabric. About three hours later, I looked at my dye bucket, then looked at a 5 gallon bucket, and looked again. I was only using 2 gallons of water instead of 4 gallons in my dye solution. What happens is that the fabric does not have enough room to move around, so the dye doesn’t penetrate the fabric evenly.
I pulled this fabric out of the dye bath, washed it out, and I love it! I can do Exercise 1 some other time. In the meantime I am going to enjoy my ignorance!
This is a length of fabric that I painted a few years ago. (Please forgive the poor photography.)I have never used it for a couple of different reasons. First, even though I treated it with an industrial fabric softener, I have never really liked the hand of the fabric after painting. Second, I was painting two layers at a time, with this being the top layer. It’s just not that attractive. It’s ok, but the bottom layer is really much nicer.
Since I am starting to play around with surface design again, it seemed like a good time to drag this piece out and give it a makeover. So I laid it out on my kitchen table, as seen above, and started in. I screen printed, I stenciled, I screen printed more, and had a great time with it all. Because this was already painted, with no dye, all the surface design was done with fabric paint.
And this is what happened…
Much more interesting! Not exactly a work of art, but definitely more interesting. And most important, I had a lot of fun doing it!
Who doesn’t love a bargain? Especially a bargain on fabric! Like a lot of people in our current economy, I am on a budget. Not a have-to-choose-between-rent-and-groceries, but more of a watch-what-I-spend-so-I-can-pay-the-rent budget. As a result, I am always looking for ways to get great fabric at great prices.
Sure, we all know about playing the coupon game at big box fabric stores. And there is even the 10% off the week of my birthday game at my local quilt store (which I totally blew today.) Anyhoo, that’s not what I’m talkin’ about.
What I’m talkin’ about is the quality fabric shown above for less than $1 per yard. Or the 5 lbs of premium quality quilting cotton for $10. What I’m talkin’ about is YARD SALES!
Now, I have never been much for yard sales. Give me a good flea market anyday, but to drive around town all day and look at other people’s stuff…waste of sewing time. For anyone else out there like me, I have one word for you. Craigslist.
Craigslist is not just for politicians looking for a one night stand anymore. Craigslist has an entire section devoted only to Yard and Garage Sales. However, reading through all those posts is…waste of sewing time. In answer to this, I give you the search function.
All I do, every weekend in yard sale season, is search on the word “fabric” in the Craigslist category for Yard and Garage Sales. Do I find fabric bargains every week? No way. But I find them often enough to go back for more! I bought the fabric pictured from a clothing designer destashing before her move to NYC. Another sale had nice fabric for $2 per yard, and vintage patterns for 50 cents. And yet another had the quilting fabric I mentioned before — 5 lbs (about 12 yards) for $10. I bought two.
So now you know my secret. Get out there and get some bargains!