Thursday, January 27, 2011

Solution Found -- Hand Spun Yarn and Other Progress

I think I might have found my solution -- hand spun yarn. It has a softness and energy that reminds me of childhood. Also, I like the silver thread instead of white and the beads instead of washers. I'm so happy that this is coming together! Now to let it sit for a while .
I also moved the circles around for my Busy Busy Busy quilt. I am really loving this quilt! The colors are so fun and full of life.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stages of Life -- Further Progress

An Ant's Eye View

Once again I'm working away. Currently by big dilemma is what to do with the circles on my Youthful Energy piece. These are two options using ribbon. For one I used the same blue, organza ribbon. The other, I used a variety of ribbons. I'm just not sure. I guess that means keep working until the perfect solution appears. I think next I will try something a little looser than the ribbon, perhaps yarn. And then there is the question of embellishments. Do I add them? If so, what? Here I'm trying out some washers. I've also thought about beads. I think I might try those on my sample fabric since it is really hard to get a good feeling unless they are stitched down.

I added some star washers to my Busy, Busy, Busy. I think they add the perfect extra fun little element. Now I just need to work on the layout of the circles.

I added a little extra color to my Weathering Life's Storms quilt. The background need a little something to balance out all that black. The difference is subtle and hard to see with the different photographs. I wish I could take everything outside to use the bright foggy sunlight, but the boards wont fit through the doorway and I don't want everything falling everywhere.

I really like how my last quilt is shaping up. I don't have a name (and all others are subject to change) but it has something to do with glory and redemption and overcoming. I am planning on adding beading around the circles to really make them pop.

Any finally, my crazy crowded art room. Even my husband admitted last night that I need a bigger space.

Stages of Life -- My First Commission in Progress

I'm getting a little nervous about my commission. I just can't believe that someone hired me to create art to display in a public place. Especially since they only saw my work briefly. And they gave me a deposit upfront so I really need to create something they like. I'm trying to reassure myself that I am working in the same style they saw and immediately wanted. I'm asking a reasonable, perhaps even low, price. And I'm working hard to create the quilts in a quickly as I can. But of course, those nagging doubt never leave for long. What if they don't like what I created. What if it isn't what they were envisioning? What if they are frustrated that I'm taking too long? What if they decide what I created isn't worth the price I am asking? What if? What if? What if? Okay, calm down -- it will be fine. I know. I know. I know. I'm sure every artist has been here and I'm not alone. But I will be happy when I'm finished, I know they like them, and I'm passed this first test!
I've tried my best to find time to work. The family, and now a cold, don't seem to be helping a lot, but I'm happy with the progress I'm making. These are just some rough layouts as I determine the exact direction I want to go. One major struggle is finding flat space, out of reach of the dog and children, to lay everything out. With the fabric paper appliques and various embellishments everything needs to be on a table, not a vertical design wall. My crowded 10'x12' art room isn't quite designed to hold 4 24"x30" quilts and still be able to move and work. I brought in an extra piece of wood from my husband's shop to expand the table. It's a couple inches short of fitting two quilts but I'm making do. The others are draped over the ironing board for the moment, but that is going to need to change. Plus I can't really move the first two without everything shuffling. Planning ahead would probably have helped, but to late now. Another area to stretch my creativity, right.

Above is my youthful energy and sweetness. I'm not sure how I am going to ground the circles. Are they lollipops? Flowers? Balloons? I'm still working out the ideas. I did a little experiment with white thread. I'm not sure what I think about it. It seems a little messier than the other quilts I have done using black or gold thread. It might be the combination of edging the circles in white and the additional white thread lines. I also don't know if the lines are strong enough. Nest will be to experiment with various ribbons.

Below is my idea for representing adulthood -- busy, busy, busy! I don't know if every one's life feels as out of control as mine, but my life feels like a crazy attempt to keep everything from flying out of control. And of course, picking up those things that seem to have crash landed. I have curly wire attached to each of the circles. I need to work on the placement of everything, but I do like the energy.

My third quilt is about the struggles of life and how something like cancer can be all encompassing. I want to also show hope in the middle of life's storms. The colors are much darker than I'm used to working with. I don't want it to be depressing. I don't know if I need to add a bit more lighter, but muted color to tie everything together and keep the black from winning.

The final quilt hasn't made it past the background stage. My thought is for it to be about overcoming it all. I'm planning on adding beading and lots of sparkle.

I would love any feedback! Thanks!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stitching and Circles

The past week I have been busy quilting away on four pieces for a commission due at the end of the month. Each piece will be 24"x30" but I of course went big to begin with. I figure it is much easier to cut it small than start over if for some reason it ended up to small. The 30"x44" pieces took a lot of quilting -- several hours each. My eyes would water and my nose would start to run from the vibration. I really should have worn ear protection since my Juki is quite loud, but of course I skipped searching for it in the garage. My method was to look around after every bobbin and take a break after every two. It took my five days, but I finally finished yesterday morning.

After quilting was paint time. I bought a big piece of plexiglass so I would have an easy to clean surface and I could move the wet quilt without getting paint everywhere. I really don't have anywhere to lay out big pieces to dry. I was only able to do one a day because of the drying issue. After breakfast was cleaned up, I would paint at the dining room table. Then I moved the quilt covered plexiglass to my bathroom, laying it over the bathtub. At night after everyone was in bed I hung the mostly dry quilt from a line in the living room. By morning it was dry and I could move on to the next. The last quilt is currently hanging out in my bathroom. Only problem is that I still need to take a shower, so I might need to find another safe surface.

While the paint is drying I have been cutting out a rainbow of fabric paper circles. Hours and hours of circles. I now have hundreds so I'm ready to start designing. I have a feeling I need to make some more fabric paper though. I'm missing a bright yellow and a dark blue and red. I also need some light, youthful shades.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Love is in the Air

I always hate when holidays come way before thier time. Christmas shouldn't be in the stores in September and Saint Patrick's Day shouldn't arrive the day after Christmas. I guess I am a last minute shopper. Last July we went looking for flags and decorations for our boat on July 3rd. Nothing!!!! Instead it was "Back to School." It really drives me crazy. I would much prefer to live in the momment and be surrounded by the current season. But then I openned an Etsy shop. However much I hate it, online shopping takes a little planning ahead. I learned this the hard when when I bought a birthday present for my husband on ebay. The auction closed December 10th. I thought for sure I would have it before his birthday on the 22nd. Nope! Well, in time for Christmas -- nope. It didn't arrive until January 4th. I wont do that again. Thankfully my husband is an understanding man and it was only a small part of his gift. If it had been something big for one of the kids I would have been in trouble. Lesson learned -- try to be a little ahead of the game.
So bring on Valentine's Day. I guess it really isn't that early at a little less than four weeks, but early enough for me. These are a few cards I made last year but never added to the shop. I love the idea of giving original art. The card doesn't need to be filed away in a box, or worse. One can keep it out as a reminder of love. It always makes my heart sing when I see the first Art Valentine I made for my husband five years ago still sitting proudly on his desk. I know that he appreciates me and is reminded daily of my love.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sketchbook Project

Okay, I signed up for the Sketchbook Project at the Art House Co-op back in the fall. The kids had just gone back to school. I had been reading books and articles about art journalling. It seemed like a great way to play, experiment and create in a nonthreatening way. Instead I made it into a big deal in my mind -- people throughout the country would see it and somehow I needed to be great among all those sketchbooks. I put so much pressure on myself that I didn't really do anything. But I had do something because I had already paid for it. So finially an incredibly busy schedule and deadline looming caused me to let go of my inhabitions and just get something in the book. I played with paint and watercolor crayons. I glued fabric and fabric paper. I even added a to do list in an attempt to fill pages. Do I love the final result, not really. But it is just a sketchbook and maybe it will show others that a sketchbook can be just a sketchbook.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Joyful Bounty

One of my best friends works for the Washington State University Extension in Kitsap County helping small farmers, teaching preservation classes and encouraging everyone to eat local. Currently they are working on their first conference to teach and encourage the farming community. Shannon has been begging me to create art for the conference for months. With the holidays and a long to-do list I didn't have a chance until last week.

The big question was how I could represent farming in Kitsap. My first thought was the mountains. We are surrounded by both the Olympic and Cascade ranges. Mount Jupiter is the the view out my windows (whenever it's not hidden by clouds) and of course sunsets are absolutely beautiful set against them. The Puget Sound and Hood Canal also surround us, but I instead decided to focus on green fields. I used rows of bright circles to represent the many small farms dotted around the county. The composition was still missing something, so I added the wonky barn. The finished quilt is approximately 22"x19".

After I was almost finished with the quilt, another person in the office decided that she wanted something more realistic for the conference. Oh well. I decided instead to give the quilt to my friend for the birthday at the end of the month. I was creating the quilt for her anyways. Now she can hang it above her desk and I will know someone truly appreciates it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Making of Pizza Planet

In the was white and flat, but not for long!
I thought I would share a bit of my process for creating my quilts, along with photos of all the wonderful painted, quilted fabric and fabric paper I have been creating. I start with plain, white muslin. First I go crazy with free motion stitching. I like circles and spirals, but other times I so flowers or wavy lines. I have tried using the regular straight stitch. It gives a different texture, which at times can be nice, but I prefer the unevenness of free motion. I often over over the lines twice and never worry about crossing. I try to create a free, sketchy feeling. I then through it in the washing machine on hot to wash out any sizing on the fabric and shrink it down a bit. It tends to bring out the stitching and dampens the fabric to make it easier to paint.
Next, it is time to paint. I bring out every shade of each color I have in my stash. Often I will use 10 different paints on a piece of quilted fabric. I like to use acrylics, fabric and craft paints, along with acrylic inks, and of course, metallics. These are the eight different fabrics I created for Pizza Planet.

After painting fabric, I moved on to fabric paper. Once again I pulled out the muslin base. Then I added various scrapbook papers. They are a little hard to see with these darker colors, but if you look closely you can see an added layer of texture. I glued them down with watered down craft paint. I found that I like the craft paint better than white glue because it gives a slightly slippery feeling to the paper. Some people might not like that, but I find it nicer on my fingers to work with. I've always hated any type of chalky feeling. Once, I tried using white glue and junk mail. The fabric paper came out very dry and chalky. The cheap ads were probably full of acid anyways, so for now I will avoid the combination. After gluing down the paper base, I add tissue paper. I tried finding craft tissue at Michael's but had no luck, so I just use the large stack of gift tissue I bought at Costco. It will often rip when very wet. If it does, I just add another scrap to fill in any wholes. Typically I will add two layers of tissue to seal it nicely. And then of course the paints again. I used the same combinations for the fabric paper as I did the quilted fabric. These are the ten different pieces I made for Pizza Planet, plus one I had from another project that fit the color scheme well.

Now with the raw materials made, I started designing. I cut out square of each quilted fabric in 1", 2" and 3" sizes. I used my 12" square gridded ruler as a base and started laying them out, beginning with the largest size and moving down. It actually came together relatively easy. I then cut out lots and lots of circles in various sizes. Once again, my design method was trial and error. I did my best to spread the colors out. I then edged each circle with a gold leafing pen to help them stand out. I had to transfer all the circles off the quilt so I could sew everything together. My gridded cutting mat helped keep everything in order so I didn't get completely confused in the processes. I zig-zagged the squares together. I did flip two of the little squares in the process and had to cut them out and flip them back later -- whoops. Each circle was free motion sewn down with black rayon thread. Finally, I backed the whole thing with a piece of paint rag fabric and finished the edge with couched black yarn. Overall the composition is a little dark, but I really like the colors and circles. I have another Pizza Planet quilt in the works and look forward to exploring it more!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Now Approaching Pizza Planet

Check out the latest reveal over at Twelve by Twelve!