Saturday, December 31, 2011

Exciting projects for 2012!

My first memories of doing creative things dates back to before I entered kindergarten... a LONG time ago! My mom was very creative, and she shared her love of creating things with me. But by now, you would think the excitement would have worn off, and I would be a little more blase` about it, right? NOT!! I am getting very excited about the things I hope to do next year... here's a partial list:
This is my project board, where I keep track of things I want to do or try. I left a couple of items on from this year, removed a couple I had completed, and took off a few I decided not to pursue in the coming year. I can always add them in if I change my mind! Topping the list is wholesale accounts - I am hoping to find some shops that want to sell my tie-dye, with the idea being I could focus more on production and less on craft shows, which are a drain on my energy. Next is deconstructed screen printing, a holdover from this year. I was first exposed to this back in '07 when I took a class from Melly Testa, who remains one of my creative inspirations. I have not used the technique since her class, although I did buy a Kerr Grabowski video a few years back. This is a technique that intrigues me, and I really hope to do more with it in 2012.
Next is stamps - carving, block printing with them... my favorite inspiration for this technique is Cynthia St. Charles, who makes wonderful art and landscape quilts and other fiber creations where she incorporates her hand carved stamps into the designs.
Next on the list is batik... I have used this technique quite a bit since I learned it in Melly's class, but I want to explore it further, so I'll be using up a lot of soy wax in the coming year!
Continuing on, the next item is books. I am currently writing a book on tie-dye, and I am also co-authoring a book with my friend Joyce, who is a very successful crafter... the working title of the book is "Biz Book for Crafters and Artisans". We took a little break this fall to do some craft shows, and Joyce has a burgeoning wholesale business, but we are ready to wrap it up in 2012.
Dyed Fabrics, the next item on my list. I have been dyeing fabrics as well as clothing for awhile now, but I have decided to branch out and sell my hand dyed fabrics... after all, I can't use all the fabric I dye, even if I decided to stop dyeing clothing altogether! My hope is to use multiple surface design techniques to make unique cloth for others to use in their sewing projects!
Last on the list is thermofax screens... I have wanted to create designs to be converted to thermofax screens for some time, and just didn't get around to it... you know! Well, I'm bound and determined to try and get some made up this year, and Lynn Krawczyk , also known as Fibra Artysta, has a Thermofax Screen Service. I know a number of others do as well, I just saw hers mentioned on her blog a few years back, so I have saved her info and plan to give her a try.
Needless to say, I'm really jazzed about all the fun things I hope to do next year! So with all this excess energy, I decided today would be a great day to get some cleaning done... and I started with my studio! I'm not done in there yet, but did come up with a way to store my serger thread:
I reuse the containers that our dishwashing soap comes in for dyeing, but decided they are also just the right size for the thread cones, and they are stackable... nice!
Okay, on to the next cleaning project, so I can be ready to start the New Year tomorrow! Happy New Year to you all, and let's make it a colorful and creative one!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Split Rail lap quilt

I finally finished my Split-Rail lap quilt that I started last March! I got partially done with the actual quilting back then, but put it aside to do a number of other things and never got back to it until last weekend. I have decided that I don't really enjoy the quilting process, mainly because I have a regular sewing machine as opposed to a quilting machine, and it's very frustrating to deal with the bulk when you don't have at least a medium quilting arm on your machine! But I got through it, and here it is:
The close-up shot gives a better idea of the colors in the batik fabrics I used... I love these fabrics! And I'm very pleased with how it turned out... just in time, because the lap quilt I made around 2005 is starting to show some wear, and I use it daily! Anyway, just wanted to "show and tell" about my latest finished project!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We don't put up a tree for the holidays any more, but I got inspired this year... we have some giant Juniper shrubs, and I cut some sprigs and added a little holiday color to decorate for the season... just right!
My Christmas Cactus bloomed just at the right time this year... truly a beautiful decoration! And it will continue to bloom for the next few weeks... something I look forward to each year!
Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hand dyed fabrics

I just added several hand dyed fabrics to my artfire shop... click here to see them! I hope to be adding more after the New Year, so keep checking back! Another goal close to being achieved!

Friday, December 23, 2011


I have a friend who is a very talented artist living in Washington state. We don't get to talk much these days, but we do exchange Christmas cards and an annual phone call. Usually we send pictures of what we have been working on each year, and this year I wanted to send a picture of the Dyeing class I co-taught with my friend Wendy last August. Trouble is, I never got any shots of the class, only samples of the dyed fabrics! I put out the word yesterday, and got these from one of the students:
Wendy is standing in front of the table, and I am in back getting ready to demo the 'scrunch'.
Here, I'm explaining how I dye the scrunch after preparing it.
This was the second dye class Wendy and I have taught, and we already have our thinking caps on coming up with ideas for what we plan to teach next summer.... fun!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stitching on Solar Eruption

I didn't ruminate very long before I decided to go back and do some more free-motion stitching on this piece. It's a slow process, requiring thread color changes as I go, and my biggest frustration is that the top thread keeps breaking. Could be tension problems, or thread that is too old. I changed my needle before I began, so that's not the cause. At any rate, here are a few closeup shots:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Solar eruption?

After studying the fabric I posted about yesterday, I decided to use it for a whole cloth art cloth. I trimmed the sides and here is how it looks now:
I pinned it to a plain muslin backing, and started to do some highlight stitching... first using the sewing machine and free-form stitching, then I tried hand-stitching with embroidery floss. I'm not happy with either attempt so far, but don't have a lot done yet. I guess I need to study it a little more before proceeding. Maybe I should just do some meandering with free motion stitching to anchor it, instead of trying to highlight some of the shapes. I have difficulty seeing the design when it's under the sewing machine foot, and I'm using thread that blends with the dyed areas... maybe some metallic thread or beading would create more noticeable highlights. No rush... think I'll ruminate a little before proceeding!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Possible new project

After playing with the batik fabric I created a few days ago, I got inspired to try a new project using batik fabric. But I will need more than the amount of fabric I finished recently, so I cut about a yard and scrunch dyed it today:
The idea I have is to create a 'space junk' whole cloth quilt, and I envisioned shapes similar to the ones on my smaller cloth, floating on a black background. This fabric has better colors than the practice piece, but I almost hate to overdye with black and obliterate all that color! So I'm going to study it for awhile before I proceed. The way this came out, it almost looks like a solar explosion, so I may put it aside and dye another piece for my 'space junk' idea. That's what I love about having a bunch of pre-washed undyed muslin hanging around... just waiting for inspiration to strike!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

batik squares

I decided to try some squares using my batik fabric. The photos don't really do the fabric justice, but here they are:

Keep in mind that I have no particular project in mind yet, and I'm just playing with new techniques... no telling how these will end up! But I am having fun, and eventually I hope to come up with a few ideas for how to use them!

More hand dyed fabrics

I overdyed the rest of the fabric I had dyed in a previous project... I think I could have done with less of the black dye, but the end result is still usable:
We'll see how it looks cut into strips... or maybe I should save this to make another tie-dye sampler quilt. The possibilities are mind-boggling!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Switching gears

I've been wanting to do some more batik fabric pieces, and decided to play with some fabric I dyed a couple of years ago using a technique where I scrunched fabric over a plastic trash bag:
I used the 3 primary colors to dye, and it came out a little harsh. So yesterday, I melted my soy wax, got out my 'tools' and proceeded to create a wax design. After the wax dried, I pre-soaked the fabric in soda ash then hung it to dry. This morning, I dyed the fabric in black using low water immersion, and here it is:
I kind of wish I had done more waxing in the middle, but I think it's still interesting, and will be a nice fabric to use in my strip sewing. Meanwhile, I have another piece of the pre-dyed fabric that I think I'll dye using my 'funky dye' swirl... again, with the idea in mind that I will use it for strip sewing, so stay tuned as I blend the two techniques!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My new fave strip sets

I just finished these two, and I really like the colors and patterns, and the good news is... they go well together!
No matter which way I put them, I like how they look! Can't wait to see how I end up using them. The first one in the top photo has: purchased fabric, hand dyed, purchased, rust dyed, purchased. The second one has fabric I bought from Melly Testa, purchased, hand dyed, and the last two I just got at Jo-Ann fabrics. What I did to prepare was pull several fabrics from my stash, and auditioned them on my cutting table until I got a layout I liked. Then I just cut and sewed. I'm still getting used to cutting with my rotary blade without using my straight-edge yardstick... a little tricky, but I'm getting more used to it. Practice, practice, practice!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sharpies and alcohol revisited

Back here, I started experimenting with permanent markers and alcohol after becoming inspired by Deb Lacativa's experiments . I played a little, then got distracted by other things, and haven't really had time to get back to it since then. But as I begin learning Rayna Gillman's techniques from her new book, I began gathering and sorting fabrics from my stash, and came across the original sharpie and alcohol fabrics I had created. I got the urge to try the technique again, but didn't have a lot of colors in my sharpie collection. Today, while shopping for something else, I happened to mention this technique to the gal checking me out at a local store, and she told me they had color packs of sharpies on sale there. I couldn't resist, and came home with 2 packages of sharpies! So here are a couple of experiments I just did:
Swirl inside a diamond
Freeform border
The middle one was inspired by a round robin fabric I have from a few years back... the other two were just doodling. What I like is the soft bleeding that happens to soften the edges. I'm applying rubbing alcohol with a small artist's paintbrush, just barely dabbing it on. This is on a cotton cloth... not muslin, but more like a kettlecloth. I seem to remember that the first experiments I did were on muslin, and the markers went on easier. Here, the markers were more like a dry brush technique, and I had to kind of scrub them to get more color. I watched a video on youtube yesterday showing this technique being applied to silk scarves, so I think I'll need to dig out some blanks and see how I like using this on silk. So many things to try, so little time!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Still more freeform!

I didn't get a chance to play yesterday, and haven't had a lot of time today. But I did get a square done:
The center is a batik square I got last summer. It is bordered by two hand dyed fabrics from my stash, then the final borders are of commercial fabrics. I'm finding it interesting to see what I can combine, and the result I get from auditioning various combinations. It's also very nice to be using some fabrics I have had in my stash for a very long time, like the strips on the outer top and bottom!
My challenge for myself now is to look beyond the basic strips and squares, and start doing more slicing and dicing to add interest. Fun and scary! More to come...