Thursday, September 27, 2007

Where does inspiration come from?

September 17, 2007 - I recently joined a Surface Design group here in Flagstaff. Most of the members were in the class I took this summer, and we are just getting started. Last month, our facilitator, Melly, gave us a challenge to create a screen using soy wax and house paint. Well.... as the time flew by, and the next meeting (tonight!) drew closer, I realized that I had not come up with a design to use for this challenge. I am not one to doodle a lot, so I really had to work at trying to develop a design. Finally, out of sheer frustration, I sent off an e-mail to Melly crying about how I couldn't come up with a design.... poor me! Well, not two hours later, I picked up a pencil and in less than 15 minutes, I had my design! No idea where it came from, it just came! And here is the result:

The design makes me think of yoga for some reason, so I will probably be using it on my yoga sets and for a shirt design as well. I like it because looking at it from one direction, I see a figure in repose; from another direction, it seems the figure is doing the backstroke in the water... it also reminds me of a sleeping figure. In all cases, it is very soothing and serene. I dyed a yard of fabric using Low Water immersion technique, then screened on dishwasher gel with bleach to discharge the dye. What is really nice is that the design from the LWI is still visible within the figures, just lighter. So, tonight I will share my experiment with the other members of our Surface Design group, then see what 'challenge' Melly has in store for next month..... great fun!


September 2, 2007 - At last! Patience and paint have paid off! I finished painting the shelves this morning, and began organizing the work room. Now, to celebrate, I am getting ready to dye some top/pants sets!
Here is where my dye powders are stored (I'll need a stepstool!)

Here is where my tools are - right over the work table!

And this is where all my craft books are stored

I finally feel like I can get some work done without having to shift everything around each time I start a project.... yaaaaay!

Getting my act together...

August 29, 2007 - Hah! After futzing around for years in craft rooms trying to get organized, but it seems like there was no solution to the clutter. Boxes of fabric, jars of dye, patterns, designs, paints... STUFF everywhere! It seems like I spent as much time moving things around to create a workspace as I did working on projects. Well, I finally got mad and decided I wasn't going to take it anymore! I just had storage shelves built and installed, and now I get to paint them and start putting things away...
Here are some 'before' shots... well, really 'in progress' shots, since the shelves were just installed, and I didn't have the foresight to take pix before I moved things out.

This shelf is in the far corner of the room, and has room underneath for rollaway drawer storage units.

This shelf fits nicely over my work table, so I can store supplies there I will be using more often than others.

This shelf is next to my sewing machine and adjacent to my worktable, so it will be handy for storing 'How to' books, sewing books, sewing supplies, etc. I will post more pix when I have done the magic conversion from chaos to order...

It's never too late...

August 23, 2007 - Awhile back, I took a week-long art course at our local community college. Among other things, the teacher introduced us to basic screen-printing, mono-printing, creating and using stamps, discharge dyeing and using soy wax as a resist. I posted some pictures at the end of the class to show a little about what I learned. Meanwhile, I got busy at home and started experimenting with what I had learned... mostly in the areas of screen-printing and soy wax. Here are some samples of what I have accomplished so far:

In this example, I created a screen of the owl, printed a blank shirt, colored the owl with thickened dyes, then waxed over the image. I then used Low Water Immersion to dye the background.

Below is a design where I used a stamp to apply dishwasher gel with bleach to a pre-dyed shirt.

In this example, I traced a design on an undyed shirt, waxed over the design, dyed the background using LWI, washed the shirt, re-soaked in soda ash, then painted the sunburst with thickened dyes.

Here is another example where I traced a design on an undyed shirt, waxed over, used LWI to dye the background, washed, then painted the image with thickened dyes.

I feel like I have reached a turning point in my creative life... not the first time this has happened, but it's been awhile! I will post more pictures as I continue my new adventure...

Class pictures

July 21, 2007 - Class is over... I'm very hopeful about using what I have learned. Here are examples of some of the techniques I learned:
1)Decomposition screen print. I pulled several prints off the screen before it began to disolve. Here are the first 4.

2) Flour paste screen that I then overdyed with a light dye wash

3) Detail of the flour paste screen printed on a monoprint. This is the actual print direction - the one above was reversed when I uploaded the picture.

4) Here, I used a piece of fabric I previously dyed using Low Water Immersion to experiment with discharge stamping. Stamping was done with dishwashing gel that has chlorine bleach as an active ingredient. The stamps were created using craft foam and two-sided carpet tape. The designs were drawn onto the foam, cut out and adhered to plexiglass squares.

Creative Endeavors

July 20, 2007 - I have spent the past week in a creative class at our local Community College. It has been way too long since I tried new creative outlets, and the experience has been exhilirating, overwhelming and tiring, but I have come away with new tools to play with, which is exactly why I signed up for the class. For the longest time, I have wanted to try screen printing, stamping and batik. I have also wanted to improve my skillset in the area of discharge dyeing. All these techniques were demonstrated and applied in this class. It's actually a class designed to create complex cloth, and my main focus has been tie-dye for a number of years. But really, I have an umbrella of wearable art I have been working under, which allows me to incorporate a number of techniques in my work. So today is the last day of class, and we are free to use the techniques on any project... my head is swimming with all the things I have learned, and what I really want to do is come home and play quietly on my own -- time for that later. I will post pictures soon!
August 3, 2006 - Time passes... things change. When I entered my last post, I was selling at the local swap meet. Sorry to say it went under late in April... not enough vendors, not enough buyers. But it hasn't stopped me from finding places to sell my tie-dye. I have been to two craft shows since then, and did well. I have one coming up in a couple of weeks, which I haven't sold at before, so we will see how that goes. Meanwhile, I have been experimenting with a technique I haven't used before, and I love the results! It's just hand-stitching the design instead of tying or banding, but it produces a very different result. The dye is applied using low water immersion technique, and the result is a very abstract blend of color and design, as demonstrated by the examples below:

In addition, I am working with some new color combinations for fall, and have had one success that I hope to use again:

This piece has 8 colors: Camel, Rust Orange, Charcoal, Turquoise; for complementary colors, I used Chocolate Brown, Rust Brown, Black, and Periwinkle. I did other pieces using this mix, but the designs did not come out as well. I also want to come up with some color combinations that will include Dark Green and Burgundy for winter. More to come...

New Year, New projects

January 15, 2006 - I have been a busy bee since my last post. I recently joined a crafters' co-op, and we have a permanent booth at the local indoor swap meet/market. I have had really good sales over the holidays, and hope to continue doing well. Last week, I brought in 6 silk scarves, and sold 4 to one customer! Here is one of my favorites:

I am also working on a series of purses and totes using hand-dyed fabric. I have completed a large tote, a pocketbook, a smaller tote, and have 2 more in the works. I really like how this one came out:

The fabric was dyed using an accordion fold which was held in place with wooden clothes pins. The dyes(chocolate brown, rust brown and black) were then applied randomly on both sides. I love the markings!I also plan to work on a variety of throw pillow covers later this year. I have been mulling over these 2 projects for at least a year or so, and finally got up the nerve to try them. Can't wait to see what my restless brain thinks up next! Later...

Creative Ramblings

October 2, 2005. I have recently began to reach back into my creative bag of tricks and revive my love of Crazy Quilting. I first started dabbling in this area about 15 years ago, but put it aside as my tie-dye business began to grow. But I have always.... ALWAYS loved to make things from scraps of fabric, and embellish them with stitching and shiny things! I guess I just enjoy anything that allows me to be creative, whether it be with fabric, paint, beads, dye... So I am back at it! I dug through boxes in the garage and came up with pictures of some of my creations, and plan to scan them and upload them to my blog in the coming weeks. I already have some uploaded, so will start with them.

Hand stitched wall hanging with hand-dyed cloth - this was inspired by a visit to Monument Valley in 2001.

Irises in the Garden - Hand stitched wall hanging with hand-dyed cloth, 2002.

Hand-dyed fabric vest

Crazy Quilt Vest

'Robin' Hand Embroidered Picture

My, how time flies...

August 17, 2005. Wow! Hard to believe it's been over 10 months since I last checked in to my 'Blog'. Gawd! What a name for a perfectly wonderful exercise... venting! Oh, well, I suppose we need to call these something. To quote an old, expired friend, I'd rather call mine 'Earl'! Anyway, time has passed, progress has been made on several fronts - not without some frustration and the expenditure of a great deal of effort.My tie-dye business languished a lot this past 10 months, due to increased hours at my 'day' job. Yes, I'm retired from my former career, but I have found a part-time niche working for a local Real Estate office that has been growing by leaps and bounds this year, and just relocated to a larger building. So I went from 16 hours a week to more than 21 hours a week. Then a Swap Meet opened here in town which gives me an opportunity to sell my tie-dye on a regular basis for a reasonable booth fee, so I will be busy dyeing and selling in the coming months.Is that all I have been doing? NOT! I have a spouse with a website that continues to need assistance(both the spouse AND the website!), so there is never a spare moment unless I make one.

We added a new cat to our menagerie who I absoloutely adore, so I need to find time daily to bond with Bubba, as well as spend time with my other two, Tink and Double, or jealousy rears it's ugly head. Nothing nastier than a jealous cat!Well, after all is said and done, I still have a life that I can't really complain about. Others I know have a lot more they are dealing with than I do. Health problems, financial woes, car troubles, legal battles - you name it, I probably know someone who is dealing with it. So if the worst thing I have to complain about is a stupid website problem, I need to shut up and count my blessings!More later...

Back to Basics

October 10, 2004. Good morning, tie-dye lovers. I had a great day yesterday at a little craft fair/pumpkin patch, put on by one of the local churches. Long before I started making and selling my crafts, I used to go to craft fairs(back in the late 60's - early 70's) and dream about one day selling crafts at a fair. Back then, the crafts were really made by the crafters, there was a feeling of creativity in the air, and it was very inspirational to me... a budding artist/crafter. Somewhere in the mid to late 80's, things got a little more commercialized, and prices were higher(probably due to the high booth fees charged by the professional craft show producers). Anyway, the craft fairs started to lose their appeal for me. I started selling in the late 90's at a small craft fair that had been in existence since the early 70's, and was put on by the crafters themselves. There was a hard and fast rule about crafters not bringing in commercially produced items and selling them as if they had made them. This meant the customer was indeed getting hand-crafted items, made by the crafter who was selling to them. I found this to be very refreshing and encouraging! Well, last year I moved away from the area, and found that the large craft fairs in my new town are very expensive to get into, and the Show sponsors are very fussy about who they let into their fairs. Bummer! But wait! I also discovered that the local schools and churches put on fund raising craft fairs, which are smaller than the major events, but well attended by the community. And by selling at these fairs, I not only get to sell my tie-dye, but I get to support the schools and churches with my booth fees. Do I make a fortune? Nah... but the good news is, I'm paying for my supplies, so I can keep tie-dyeing! It doesn't get much better than that!Have a great day!Judy

The Great Escape

September 29, 2004. I had a conversation with my very best friend today... 2 actually. We met in Southern California 14 years ago, and bonded on several levels almost at once. We have gone through a lot together, including the fact that when we met, we were both computer geeks. For those of you who don't quite know what that means, it's someone who works in the high-tech area, usually in a very high-stress job. That was us, only my friend had an even higher stress job than mine. Time passed. A couple of years ago, my husband and I started thinking about moving out of the area to somewhere with a slower pace, and so last year we escaped the rat race and relocated in Northern Arizona. My friend and her family made a similar move this summer, only to the far reaches of North Dakota. They REALLY wanted to escape! So, my conversation with her today was mainly about how they are doing in their new home. She is no longer working as a computer geek, and work is a little more difficult to find in the smaller communities of our country. However, they have started raising livestock, growing their own produce, and she is highly motivated to make this work. I think we are both representative of a movement that is growing by the day - a movement to abandon a lifestyle that values posessions over everything else: Expensive cars, houses, designer label clothing, all the latest high-tech exchange for all your time and energy. Women have no time to cook for their families, men have no time to spend with their families, children are over-scheduled in soccer, T-ball, play-dates. There is no unscheduled time to just be. And that is so sad. I am at an age now where I really value unscheduled time, where I can stop to watch a hawk circling overhead, or study the prairie dogs who live in my yard. To stop and watch the snow coming down, or simply sit on the deck and enjoy the panoramic view without feeling compelled to rush off to take care of an endless list of "important" tasks... that is an incredible gift with no price tag. I used to be attached to a pager 24/7/365. If it went off in the middle of the night, I was required to get up, fire up the computer, log on to the computer system at my job, and fix whatever was broken so the bills could go out on time. I can't tell you what a freeing experience it was to hand over that pager when I left my job. I have a cell phone that I carry with me in case my car breaks down, but I rarely use it. No one has the number to call me. Selfish? Maybe, but I deplore the fact that we can't even get into our cars without having a telephone glued to our ears, so I refuse. I'm a little bit of a rebel, I fear. But there are some things I need to do to take care of my inner peace. The great escape was the kindest thing I have ever done for myself... I highly recommend it to anyone who has had it with the life they are currently leading! Later...

And so we begin...

September 200, 2004. Since I have always been a bit chatty, and have always loved to write, I decided the time has come to add a new feature to my site, which has little to do with my tie-dye, but has a great deal to do with me. I will probably add to this page as the muse strikes, and hopefully when I have something worthwhile to say. I am not opening my blog up to allow others to comment on my ramblings... this is not designed to be conversational. Rather, it is more a journal or log to record observations, fits of fancy, or other bits of cyber-flotsam and jetson that come tumbling out of my head in the wee hours when I should be fast asleep. Alas! I have a brain that refuses to go back to sleep once it has been awakened, and quite often will keep me tossing and turning for hours after I retire. So this little blog may be my version of sleeping powders! Who knows? More will be revealed...Ta for now.